What is the anchor in your life?

An anchor is most helpful for boats and large ships to keep them from drifting or being destroyed by storms. We too need an anchor in our lives to keep us from being harmed in the storms of life that we all encounter. It can provide stability to keep us safe.
The Bible describes Jesus as the anchor of our soul. The first Christians used the symbol of anchor with a cross on the top of it to remind them, that regardless of the storms they encountered in life, Christ was the anchor of their souls. They could weather the difficult times by trusting in Him and also we can too today.
I can not imagine how difficult my life would have been without Jesus as my anchor. There have been times as I experienced the difficult winds of stress, not knowing what to do, yet somehow He got me through the storms okay.
I do not know what particular storms you may be facing right now in your personal life… but I do know you can not go wrong by trusting the Lord, even when the storms of life cloud your perspective. You can trust Him to be your anchor.

What is the next step? …when you do not know what to do.

I know for those who know me, they may find it difficult to visualize me performing at a dance recital. There are such things as “dancing bears” but I am just not one of them…Except when I was about 7 years old, my mom talked me into to taking tap dancing lessons for a year. So there I was, in my little sailor outfit on the night of the big performance. Back then, music and sound technology was limited to a microphone and a record player. The record started and I started my little routine and then the unexpected happen…The record player needle got stuck and played the same music over and over…so I just did the same few steps over and over again…then they moved the record player needle ahead…I was in suspended animation like a hummingbird until I figured where I was supposed to be and I improvised my way into that part of the dance routine and finished my performance.

As I have encountered other challenges in my life, I’m reminded that sometimes you just gotta keep doing what you are doing where you are at right now. Interruptions happen, your plans can suddenly change and disappointments can upset your life. One way to keep calm is to keep doing what you can and need to do while you consider other options. One of the gifts that God has given you and me is the gift of perseverance.. to keep going even when we don’t know what to do and we are discouraged.

” We can rejoice too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope in salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” – Romans 5: 3-5 (NLT)

Sometimes… we just got to keep on keeping on until we know the next step.

What we need to do in times like these…

-There is so much pain and suffering around us

-Things don’t always turn out how we had hoped for ourselves and others

– We struggle with feelings of helplessness and hopelessness occasionally

– As much as we love and care for someone else, we can’t always fix it for them

– We can feel numb by it all, where we just do not know what to think and say

When we go through dark times in our lives, we do not need to doubt what God has already taught us in the light…

GOD IS WITH US IN SPITE OF WHAT WE MAY FEEL.

In spite of our emotional emptiness (which is normal when we have dealing with a lot of stress) we need to be reminded that GOD is still with us. We may not feel close to Him but God is not limited to our feelings and we can trust in Him anyway. Remember “The Lord is near those who have a broken heart”-(Psalm 34:18).

LET JESUS WALK WITH YOU THROUGH THIS VALLEY.

God who created you, knows best how to help you to navigate through this difficult time. Jesus is our source of salvation and eternal life but also for peace during He said when encouraging his first followers… “I have told you this so that you will have peace of heart and mind. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows; but cheer up, for I have overcome the world”- (John 16:33). He wants to be a part of our daily life. Jesus is also described as the Good Shepherd. He knows what you need right now. Ask Him to guide you specifically along the path that is best suited for your unique situation.

WE WANT TO “GET OVER IT”…BUT FIRST, WE NEED TO “GET THROUGH IT”.

This is a process and not usually a quick fix. Billy Graham said…”Time alone does not heal, but it is what we do that time, does help us heal.” It is important to be real and proactive. Get help, talk to a trusted friend or counselor. Find things to read or do that recharge you in a positive way. Focus on what you can do today, instead of being sad about what you can not do right now.

STAY CONNECTED to those who love and support you. This not a time to go rogue or completely solo. Check in with family, neighbors and friends to see how they are doing. Do something good or positive for someone else. This does not necessarily have to be big. Simple random acts of kindness can have a big impact.

Remember that God’s grace is stronger than our negative thoughts and regrets. God’s peace is more powerful than our hurts and disappointments… even in times like these, we do not need to doubt what God has already taught us in the light.

What was I thinking?…

After doing something stupid, have you ever asked yourself this question…What was I thinking? Or have you had those moments when you had a temporary brain freeze and common sense and reason was just not there for you? I have…a lot. For example, when I was attempting to spray the deck at our home with a new coat of wood stain. I pumped and pumped the sprayer and yet it didn’t work… Then I realized…I had not released the small cap on the end of the sprayer…when I did release it, the built up pressure was so great that it took on a life of it’s on…it jumped out of my hands and not only sprayed the deck; but me, the side of the house…and the sliding glass door..( it took 2 weeks to clean up my mess).

It is very important what we think about. The Bible offers us some good advice about the importance of our thoughts and what we should do with them. Here are some examples:

What we think about has a tremendous impact on us. “Be careful what you think, because your thoughts run your life.” (Proverbs 4:23). Our mind and attitudes affect our emotions and actions. We also need to realize how much it can eventually influence those around us.

We aren’t responsible for every thought that enters our mind but we are responsible for what we do with that thought and what we dwell on in our thoughts.The Quakers had an old saying that ” you can’t prevent a bird flying over your head bout you can prevent a bird building a nest in your hair”, in others words we need to monitor our thoughts and not allow our thought patterns go the wrong way. We are not responsible for every thought that enters our mind, but we are responsible for what we do with that thought. The Bible teaches us to” Bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). How do we do that? Apply God’s Word to our thought life.

God’s filter for our thoughts can help us process our thinking and keep it focused on the right things..Phillipians 4: 8-9 (NLT) describes the filter this way: ” Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”. Ask yourself is it true? Is it honorable, right, pure and lovely? If not, don’t go there or stay there in your thoughts.

Focusing our mind in the right direction leads to Peace. That is a great benefit of allowing God and His Word, the Bible….to be the focus of our thought life. “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [ both its inclination and its character ] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. Isaiah 26:3 ( Amplified Bible ).

Our prayer should be “Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking. Don’t let me follow evil ways, but lead me in the way that time has proven true.” Psalm 139:23-24 ( CEV).

Being thankful for the days…that begin with “T”

It is good to have regular routine to help us remember to do certain things on particular days of the week. Every day is important but especially the two that start with the letter “T”.

These two days can help us remember that …

God is always with us,

and that He also goes ahead of us.

What a wonderful truth to know that God goes in front of us into the future.This relates to one of my favorite Bible promises:“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you, He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8)

God is not surprised or caught off guard about what problems we may encounter in the future. He already has the answer and the solution before we get there!

That is why it is so wise for us to trust and follow Him, instead of…impulsively running ahead of His guidance and trying to “take matters into our own hands”and just hoping, that He will bless it somehow. Although we are limited by time and space, our Eternal God is not limited.

His wisdom, guidance and grace is always trustworthy. Who better can we follow than the One who created us, knows everything about us and still loves us?

Another one of the Bible promises that I am thankful for is found in Hebrews13:8…

“Jesus Christ is the same…

Yesterday

Today

and

Tomorrow!”

We need to trust and follow Him, especially on the days that begin

with the letter “T”…

Today and Tomorrow!

Lord, Help us today…

This is my prayer for you and me:

Lord, please help us today…

May we seek Your presence and peace

instead of “going to pieces”.

Help us to focus on our faith in You…

rather than the fears inside and outside of us.

Take the tangled strands of our anxious thoughts

unravel them and replace them with the strong

thought patterns of hope and confidence in

Your grace and love.

Help us to let go of things that hinder us from being

and doing our best,

and give us a fresh grip on the most important things.

When our patience with ourselves and others

is “wearing thin”…

Give us the grace and strength to say and do

the right thing anyway.

Help us to become better instead of bitter

by being thankful for what we do have instead

of being disappointed about what we don’t have

right now

Give us the desire and wisdom to let

You guide us…

even when we don’t understand

and can’t figure things out on our own.

Thank you Jesus, for Your love and help today..

Amen.

When You feel like your life has been put on Hold…

There are seasons in our lives, that we feel like we have taken an unexpected detour and we wonder when our life will ever feel normal again. Especially if we are dealing with things we had no way to prepare for ahead of time. We can feel like our hopes and dreams are put on a shelf for now. Life is not always predictable, but we must find our path to navigate through it. Here are some helpful things to keep in mind along the way…

WE CAN TRUST GOD DURING DIFFICULT TIMES. Instead of trying to figure everything out on our own, we should seek God to help us overcome our fears and heal our disappointments and hurts. He will will do this if we will turn to Him for help.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” – Psalm 34: 18 (NLT)

OUR PROBLEMS CAN DRAW US CLOSER TO GOD. There are times when we don’t know how to respond to our situation. I saw an interview recently with Julie Andrews, a famous successful actress. In the interview she said both her mom and grandmother taught her that “ when you are in doubt, be still.” Instead of just over-reacting with panic, we should take some time to stop…to be still, think and pray it through.This is also when we need to seek God for clarity in our decisions as we seek His wisdom and guidance. If we will do this, we will begin to see that an obstacle becomes an opportunity for us to experience God’s direction and plans for our individual lives in a new way…

” We don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” -2 Chronicles 20:12 (NIV)

“ The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Put your trust in the Lord. Travel steadily along His path.” – Psalm 37:23,24,34 (NLT)

TRUSTING GOD IMPLIES THAT WE GIVE HIM CONTROL OF OURSELVES AND OUR PROBLEMS. This is a very important step for us to recognize our need for His control in or lives and to trust and follow Him more than with just our own limited knowledge. We are designed for a close personal relationship with God. His ways are even better for us than our own plans. We can trust Him! What a relief for us!

“You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern.” – 1 Peter 5:7 (Phillips Translation)

GOD CAN USE OUR EXPERIENCES TO HELP OTHERS. Max Lucado says that… “ Your pain has a purpose. Your problems, struggles, headaches, and hassles cooperate toward one end which is the glory of God.” We may not fully understand that now, but sometime in the future God can use our current experiences to help others…

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” – 2 Corinthians 1: 3-4 (The Message)

Experiencing God’s Peace instead of “Going to Pieces”

What crazy and stressful times we are experiencing these days! There are moments when we feel overwhelmed and helpless with volume of bad news in our world. It can fill our hearts and minds with heighten worry and anxiety. When we spend too much time thinking about it, we can feel like we are “going to pieces”, being pulled apart mentally and emotionally in different directions at the same time.

It is important for us to tap into God’s peace which transcends our circumstances. God’s peace is not the absence of problems or difficulties, it is the very presence of Christ in our lives. Jesus is our source for experiencing peace with God and the peace of God. This is more than just a feeling, it is a quiet confidence and faith we have as we continue to trust and follow Him in our daily lives, regardless of our mood or emotional state.

We need to clear out some of the negative clutter in our thought patterns to create some space to find peace of mind. Here are some encouraging Bible promises about peace. We would be wise to take some time to mediate and read often these particular Bible promises.This would be a good antidote for feeling hopeless and will actual give us the hope and peace that we so desperately need. You my want to look these scriptures up in your Bible and highlight them to refer to back to as needed. You may want to print these verses and keep a copy to carry with you or place them somewhere you can see them often…

Jesus said “I am leaving you a gift, peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” – John 14:27 (NLT)

“Let the peace of Christ (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually in your hearts (deciding with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state.. and be thankful (appreciative), giving praise to God always.” – Colossians: 3:15 (AMPC)

“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all those whose thoughts are fixed on You.” – Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)

“You will guard him and keep him in perfect peace, whose mind {both its inclination and character} is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.” – Isaiah 26:3 (AMPC)

“May the Lord of peace Himself, give you His peace at all times and in every situation.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (NLT)

“Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace at all times and in every way (that peace and spiritual well-being that comes to those

who walk with Him, regardless of life’s circumstances). The Lord be with you all.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (AMP)

The Lord gives His people strength, the Lord blesses them with peace.” – Psalm 29:11 (NLT)

We have a unique opportunity for people see our faith in our actions and attitude right now. We can do this if we will continue to seek God’s peace instead of “going to pieces” during these difficult times.

God Looks at Success Differently than We Do

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding in things that don’t really matter.” – D. L. Moody
You and I live in a culture that we are driven to pursue success. There is nothing wrong with doing your best, setting goals and achieving success. However, there are two questions we must carefully consider: What does success look like for you? and What is your motivation for it? I guess the one word that would be most common to describe success today is..”More”. More material things, more wealth, and when that becomes too much, we want more  simplicity. It is disheartening to see people that  are obsessed in the misguided pursuit of “More”. They go right by and miss the opportunities to experience true contentment and lasting happiness in their relationship with God, family and close friends  along  the way. That explains how someone can achieve great success in one arena of their lives, yet be a train wreck in other areas of their lives at the same time. Jesus said : “What will you gain, if you own the whole world but destroy yourself? What would you give to get back your soul?” -Matthew 16:26 ( CEB)
What some ways God wants for us to be successful from His holistic point of view?
As you study this topic in the Bible, it becomes evident that we are to follow God’s direction in our lives, to trust in Him, to show kindness, love and mercy among many other things. I have studied the Bible for 50 years now, and I am still learning more of the many facets of what God’s definition of success looks like for you and me. It is a life changing and a life long learning process. He loves us too much to let us just struggle and be the same, by trying to do it all on our own. He can give us the power and grace we need as He works in our lives. Here are few examples:
“There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.” – Philippians 1:6 (MSG)
“Not in your own strength, for it is God who is all the while effectually at work in you (energizing and creating in you the power and desire), both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” – Philippians 2:13 (AMPC)
“The Lord has told you what is good, He has told you what He wants from you. Do what is right to other people. Love being kind to others. And live humbly, trusting Your God.” -Micah 6:8 (ICB)
Do not give up on God, He has not given up on you. May this season in your life and my life, be a time to continue to grow in our faith and trust in the God that loves us so much.

Keep it Simple is not Stupid…

One of the great things we have discovered through the recent months is what we can live without, and having to make our lives more simple. Simplicity leads us to less clutter of things that really don’t matter. Simplicity can help us to gain control of other areas of our schedule and lifestyle. When we are living with less, it can free us up to focus more on our relationships, our faith and other things that really matter the most. Keeping it simple leads us to more contentment. It keeps us from being in a deficit financially and emotionally as well as not overbooked in our schedules and other responsibilities.

S.I.M.P.L.E. means for us to…

SEEK GOD’S PRESENCE AND GUIDANCE DAILY.

This should be a regular habit for us. As in the Bible, Psalm 63:1challenges us…”O God, You are my God; early will I seek You, my soul thirsts for You.” By taking this approach, it puts us in the right frame of mind as we go through our day.

INVEST YOUR TIME AND ENERGY WISELY.

Steve Jobs, who helped to design and create the Apple computer and the iPhone said this about focus and simplicity: “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it is worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”

MAINTAIN GOOD DAILY HABITS. Doing things that enhance our spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional well being are key things to keep doing on a regular basis. Dr. E. Stanley Jones was right when he said “Since habit becomes power, make them work with you and not against you.”

PROCESS WHAT NEEDS TO NEEDS TO GO AND WHAT NEEDS TO GROW.

It is important to consider what adjustments or changes you may need to make right now. These may be in your priorities and commitments, habits and schedule.

LIVE EACH DAY TO THE FULLEST.

Embrace the present day, don’t let the past or the future keep you from enjoying and making the most of today. Max Lucado wisely says that..”Since I know God’s provison is timely, I can enjoy the present. The key is this: meet today’s problems with today’s strength. Don’t start tackling tomorrow’s problems until tomorrow. You do not have tomorrow’s strength yet. You simply have enough for today.”

ENCOURAGE OTHERS ALONG THE WAY.

Living simple is not selfish, it actually frees us up to be unselfish and have more compassion for others. Because we are less distracted by things that don’t really matter, it can allow us to think about and notice people that we can encourage in some way.

Keep it Simple is not stupid…it is the right approach right now.