47 Things on Thursday: Challenge – See and Settle

What makes you think: B E A U T I F U L.

Is it a sunrise?  A concert?  A child’s laughter?  Chocolate mousse?  A lover’s glance?

So much captures our senses and fills our hearts in this world.  Even a midst the ugliness of our culture, the pollution, the chemicals, the imperfect… we humans are still able to think something beautiful.  We are so adaptable.  We are so desensitized.  We are so short sighted.  Perhaps to our benefit at times, yet I pause to think we have not even begun to really know B E AU T I F U L.

Challenge.  Can you see true beauty?

Jesus Wept. He wept over his friends’ death, and the effects of sin on the world,

Jesus Washed. He knelt down and washed the grimy feet of his friends.

Jesus Served. He thought of himself last and served others as a way to lead them; bread and wine so that we would remember Him – body and blood.

Jesus Prayed. He sweat blood as He prayed so intensely to His Father; then He surrendered all to His Father’s will.

Jesus Carried. He carried the rough wooden cross along the dusty uphill trek to Golgatha; He carried the weight of the world upon His shoulders.

Jesus Gave. He gave His mother, Mary, to His friend John; compassion and provision for those He loved.

Jesus Cried Out. He cried out, “Father, please forgive them!” With His last breaths He was pleading for you and me.

Jesus Bore. He bore the punishment of sin; took the blame and was separated from His Father for three days.

Jesus Rose.  He rose triumphantly from the dead – Victorious over death!

Jesus LIVES.  He is seated at the right hand of His Father.  He is fully alive and desires you to find the WAY that He has made for you to gain eternal life.

This, my friends, makes me think: B E A U T I F U L !

towdah paintings 077

He is Beautiful.

As I endured Cancer, I experienced Jesus as BEAUTIFUL.  I met Him where Truth and Mercy mingle as I struggled with the question: IS SALVATION ENOUGH?

Friends, this is the only question in the world worth answering.  Have you settled your heart to know the answer?  Can you see the Beauty?  In the tears, the hands, the feet, the heart, the arms, the legs, the body…..do you believe He did all He did for you?  And is it enough?

Challenge.  Settle this matter in your heart.

For me, it was a turning point in my life to truly know, without a shadow of a doubt, that whether I live or whether I die…salvation IS enough….more than enough.

Jesus Christ.  He is B E A U T I  F U L.  See the beauty & Settle the matter.

Enjoy this lovely song that proclaims How Beautiful He is.

towdah paintings 017

May you all have a blessed Easter and be filled with the knowing HE IS BEAUTIFUL.

47 Things on Thursdays: The Chuckle-Moment

Oh LORD(!), I just need to get outta here!

Have you ever just wanted to get away?  Far, far away…………………………… where things are quiet and calm; no noise to be heard aside from the gentle rustle of the leaves on the tree tops and an occasional chirp of a bird?  You are not alone.  Even our Lord Jesus took off a few times to get away from the crowds for some rest and quiet solitude.  So, my cry to the LORD to get outta here seemed perfectly justified.

And so, I set out to get outta here!  I searched the internet for a quiet local-ish place to retreat to………………………..where I could go and rest, have some uninterrupted time with God, and catch up on some sleep.  I found such a place, but did not really want to go alone.  Perhaps a friend could join me(?), I hoped; the kind of friend that would not need anything from me, but who could also just come away and rest alongside.  I asked my closest friends, yet no one could commit.

Three weeks later I resigned to the fact that I might have to forego the excursion or buck up and go alone.  Seeking out a few more details about the retreat, wondering if I would really “fit-in” with the targeted crowd, I was then posed with a question more than an answer; the director of the retreat center inquired of me:

Would you consider being one of our speakers?

I was totally dumbfounded. More conversation ensued and it became clear that God had been lining this deal up all along!  I agreed to speak.  And I sat back and began to laugh a jaw-dropping, open-mouthed chuckle in total amazement.

towdah paintings 042

God has a sense of humor!  God was having the chuckle-moment now. I imagined Him saying to himself – you silly girl-child….you have no idea the plans I have for you….

He not only provided me a place to get outta here.He provided my way free, removing the financial strain, and gave me opportunity to speak outside my home church and share my story and sell my book…He opened the door and gave me more than I was asking for!  

“Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20

Friends, how often do we sell God short?  We think so small.  We ask so little because we cannot imagine what God is capable of doing.  He is able.  He is powerful.  He works in us and through us for His purposes.  He accomplishes more than we can even think about…..never mind ask about.

Ask.  Think big because God is able.  Be willing.

As I keep the image of God the Father having a chuckle-moment in my mind, I cannot do anything else but praise Him and give Him all the glory!  God certainly has a sense of humor and He delights to bless us beyond our imaginings for His good purpose.  I asked for a retreat and He gave so much more!

Come April 12th…I’ll be outta here (! ) and enjoying His humor…check out where I will be…..find my name…and listen to a great video clip of Amazing Grace!  http://www.lakesideonline.org/lakeside-womens-retreat/

towdah paintings 043

Tuesday Tidbit: Peace will Fill You + a BONUS

Why are we here anyway?  What purpose is there for us to be on this earth?

The Westminster Catechism puts it this way:                                                            Question #1  What is the chief end of man?

LARGE questions that seem like you’d need a long life of study in order to answer such high and lofty questions.

YET, the Bible can make the simple, wise (Psalm 19:7).

I am simple.

And yet, I know this:

God created Adam and Eve for His pleasure and He said it was very good.  He placed them in a garden to enjoy relationship with Him.  So, logically it follows, that we are here for God’s pleasure and for the purpose of enjoying relationship with Him too (Genesis 2).

Scripture also instructs us that we are to glorify God in all that we do (1 Corinthians 10:31); eating, drinking, working, playing, singing, dancing, in health, in sickness, in pain, in joy… whatever .…. no matter what we do or what state we find ourselves, we are to glorify HIM.

For such big questions, it seems there must be bigger answers.  But no, the answers appear quite simple.  Enjoy a relationship with God.  Glorify him in all we do.  The answer to the Westminster Catechism #1 question is:  Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

To “enjoy a relationship” means spending time with someone.  In this case, it is God.  But, the Word tells us, we cannot do that without first going through Jesus Christ; no one can access the Father unless we accept Jesus as our Savior and repent of our sins – then washed clean, we can come into relationship with God, the Father, our Creator (John 14:6).

007

To “glorify God” means to magnify, or make bigger, God in your life – by honoring God and pointing to Him with your words and actions.  So many scriptures direct us to ways of loving one another and imitating Christ that it is impossible to list them all – but the book of 1 John is a good place to start reading.

All this is good – but I think it is hard to wrap my head around the fact that I am here….YOU are here…. on this earth for God’s pleasure!  It was our Father’s decision to create us in His image.  It was out of His joy and desire that He made us and knew us even before the foundation of the the world (Psalm 139).  Can you wrap your head around that my friend?

We are here for His pleasure to enjoy Him and to glorify Him.

Simple words reveal the wise answer.  You need not fret or worry over such LARGE questions anymore.  Come to Jesus, so that you may enjoy your Father, and delight to glorify Him in all you do. Peace will fill you (Philippians 4: 6 – 9).

I urge you to take some time and read the scriptures highlighted in BLUE today, let God speak to your heart.

BONUS****************************************************************************************

As one who has sought the Lord, and seeks to enjoy and glorify God, I share with you a recent live interview I did that was broadcast last Monday evening on Fishbowl Network Radio out of Arlington Texas.  Fast forward to the 37 min mark and my interview starts a few secs later.     http://sbrimage.podomatic.com/entry/2013-03-13T18_41_15-07_00

47 Things on Thursday: He Never Lets Go

“Today’s the day,” declared my dad, “I’m gonna teach you how to ride a bike.”

Excited, I mounted my new green Schwinn as my dad held the bike steady.

“Don’t let  go!”  I whimpered with anxious tension in my five year old voice.

Confidence spoke through my dad as he relayed, “Don’t worry, I’ve got ya….”  He held onto the back of my bike seat and ran along behind me.

Now, we had a fairly long driveway and my dad did just as he said he would do.  He held the bike steady and the wobbling was minimal, at first.  My knuckles where white as they tightly gripped the handle bars. Speed picked up and dad yelled out encouragement, “Keep peddling Sheryl, just keep peddling!”

I could hear my dad’s breath getting heavier and his feet hitting the pavement got faster and faster…….then, it was all a distant sound memory.   I did not hear my dad behind me anymore.   My dad, let go of me.

Despite my little legs keeping up the peddling, my bike began to wobble and I panicked.  I steered right into the red berry pricker bush on the side of the driveway and plastered myself and my bike smack,dab, in the middle of said ugly and unforgiving bush.  My dad, earthly man that he is, felt bad I am sure: yet, patience was not one of his virtues.  He left me to climb out of the red berry pricker bush and decided we had had enough bike riding for the day and he walked away muttering.  Scratches and all, I stood there alone and let go of….I was full of fear and I was dismayed.

Forty two years later, I found myself full of fear and dismayed again.

The diagnosis of colon cancer caught me unaware and my life, like the bike, began to wobble quite a bit.  My earthly dad was not able to hold this seat and steady my life.  But my heavenly father took hold and spoke to me through the Words in Isaiah 41:10 and 13.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”  and again, “For I am the  LORD your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” 

The LORD God took my hand and held it throughout all my days as I endured cancer.  I experienced His strengthening, His helping, and His upholding.  Boldly I can tell you…

005

God never lets go of me.  He never lets go of you.  Though the darkest days of my trial are over and my life in comparison, is calm….. He is still holding on and daily steadies my life.

Are you facing a trial?  Are you trying to learn to ride the bike called life and find yourself unsteady and wobbly?  Are you in need of some help?  Even, are you enjoying a lull of calm?

Turn to the LORD God, who declared to His children, inclusive of you and me, that He would uphold us and take hold of our hand.  Unlike my earthly dad, who ran out of breath and could not keep up the pace, our heavenly Father does not let go; His perfect love compels Him to take hold and never let go.  We have nothing to fear in the calm of our days and in the storm of our days for He is with us.  Just turn….

Enjoy this song…it is one of my favorites!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9Ya7ryNob4

004

SPECIAL NOTE:  If you have colon cancer or know someone who does, be one of the first three people to message me your name and address and I will send you a free copy of my book Towdah: A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hopein honor of National Colon Cancer Awareness month.

Tuesday Tidbit: “No!” – Guest Blogger Ruth O’Neil

Please enjoy this guest post from a writer friend from Virginia, Ruth O’Neil, as she shares how the Holy Spirit worked in her early marriage years…

When God Says No

Proverbs 14:1   “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.”

Have you ever heard God tell you, “No” about doing something? Maybe it was something you had prayed hard about for a while, but then God came back with a negative answer and shut the door completely. I’ve had this experience plenty of times, but there is one particular event that sticks out in my memory. It didn’t have anything to do with asking God for something for myself. In fact, I was so sure of myself that I hadn’t even discussed this with God at all.

One fall, my husband and I were having some financial difficulties. The bills were paid, but there wasn’t a lot of extra money for Christmas presents. My husband felt badly about this for the kids’ sake. He tried to make extra money with little projects, but it didn’t seem to be enough. Since I sew and had an entire room full of material sitting there doing nothing, I thought I would make up a bunch of quilts and sell them. That way we would have all the extra money we would need for Christmas gifts and my husband would not feel so stressed or have to work so hard.

I got busy sewing and before too long I had several quilts that were ready to be enjoyed by someone else. That was where God stopped me and said, “No!”

I actually doubted God, even thought I knew better, so I continued sewing. God gave an answer for my doubt in my devotions one day during all this. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who preservers under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” I don’t know if God was really testing my husband at that point, but I do know that when I thought he was at a breaking point, God would sustain him and give him strength to get through whatever was necessary.

God spoke to my heart and made me realize that if I went out and did this at this particular time in our marriage, I would do more damage than good. I know a lot of women won’t understand this, but I would have hurt my husband’s ego if I had decided to sell those quilts. My husband is the breadwinner in our family and if I had stepped over that boundary I could have made my husband feel like a failure. I listened to God and kept my quilts to myself, even though I didn’t agree with Him.

I know my husband would not be bothered by me selling quilts a bit now, more than a decade later, but then was definitely not the time. In fact, I have sold hundreds of quilts since then. This way I can make a little money on the side, but my husband is still in charge taking care of the family, just as God ordained him to be.

I have decided that I wanted to be like the woman in Proverbs 14 who built her house up, not the woman who tore hers down.

I finally quit being so stubborn and let the Holy Spirit speak to me; or maybe I was just finally listening. My husband wasn’t the only one to learn a lot during that time. I did as well.

Bio: Ruth (2)

Ruth O’Neil has been writing for over 20 years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She loves to touch the emotions when she writes. “If I can make one person laugh or cry, I’ll consider myself successful.” Her first novel “Come Eat at My Table” has just come out in ebook form and can be purchased on her website. The print edition will be available February 28 th . She homeschools her three children (well, one now, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for 20-plus years. In her spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading. http://ruthoneil.weebly.com/books.html

book cover (2)

Ruth O’Neil and I met by way of our mutual publisher of Life lessons from Dad’s ,Tracy Ruckman, owner of Write Integrity Press and PixNPens.  http://writeintegrity.blogspot.com/  and  http://pixnpenspub.blogspot.com/

47 Things on Thursdays: Can You Hear Me?

Busted!

My brother ended up in jail! He just couldn’t keep his mouth shut.

“…the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten.  After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison…” (Acts 16:21b & 22a)

Yet, despite their circumstances,

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them” (v. 25a).

Let’s be real.  How many of you would be singing at that moment?  

Stripped.  Did  they get their clothes back?  Flogged. Bloody. Any first aid treatment?  In the inner stocks (feet bolted down) of prison.  How comfortable were they?  

And yet, they prayed and sang praises to God…..why?

I confess.  When I do not get my way, or my comfort is infringed upon, or  illness attacks….the last thing I do is pray and sing.  Often, the first thing I do is whine and complain some and look woeful; and the others in my household listen.  Moaning and groaning — that’s easy.

It would’ve been easy for Paul and Silas to moan and groan – heck, cry and wail and call it a day!  BUT, they did not do what was easy.  They did the harder thing.  Paul and Silas rose above their circumstances and prayed and sang and praised God even while they suffered inconvenience and pain.

WHY? For one reason only.  God is

towdah paintings 087

Scripture tells us that the result was an earthquake — not a minor one – but a violent one! ALL the prison doors flew open and EVERYBODY’S chains came loose.  They were freed – everyone! (Acts 16:26)

I know when I give up moaning and groaning and exchange it for praying and singing praises to God, I too am set free.  My chains of discouragement, fear, wounds, and pains are loosed.

God frees us from our burdens as we lay them down at His feet in prayer and offer Him praise. No matter what weighs us down, makes us feel like we are imprisoned & chained, no matter the inconvenience or the pain….Yes, one of the 47 things I know about God is that He is definitely worthy of praise!

Paul and Silas knew that too!  They prayed and sang praises and their prison mates and jailer heard too.  Can you hear me?  I am praying and singing (along with this video).

“And Can it Be” … my chains fells off – my heart set free (!)  come join me – sing and praise God and watch your chains be loosed!

***********************************************************************************************

towdah paintings 013

Next Tuesday (3/12/13) I will host a guest blogger, my author friend Ruth Doner O’Neil  http://ruthoneil.weebly.com/books.html

We each were published in the coffee table book, Life Lessons from Dads in 2012  http://www.amazon.com/Life-Lessons-from-Dads-ebook/dp/B0085XH88Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1361932983&sr=8-1&keywords=Life+lessons+from+dads.

Tuesday Tidbit: The Vapor, the Hang Nail, and the Eyes

We have very little time on this earth. Our life is a mist, or vapor; here for a little while, then gone (James 4: 14).

So what are you focused upon?  

Are you in the midst of trials that afflict you, be they hefty or mundane irritations?  Consider the hang nail.  The more we look at it, pick at it, and focus on it, the sore-er it becomes. Likewise, as we keep our eyes gazing upon our afflictions – our hurts and pains, what we don’t have but wish we did – we become increasingly heavy laden and discontent.  Consider  2 Corinthians 4:17 & 18.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Our troubles will be short lived, because we are here just a short while. How we bear up under our afflictions determines our level of contentment.  As we set the gaze of our eyes to focus on the unseen, contentment will be found.

013

Jesus is doing a greater work in us as we endure our afflictions; this is the unseen.  He works in our heart and conforms us; these are eternal. When we keep our eyes focused upon Him and all He promises in His Word then we are able to bear up with contentment.

So, got trouble? Set your eyes to focus on the LORD and learn contentment.

**********************************************************************************************

THIS THURSDAY  come read about my brother who was busted and thrown into jail.