Thursday, July 21, 2016

Growing Old Through The Lens of Love

6 Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
    and the glory of children is their fathers.
I have not gotten to the station in life that incorporates grandchildren, but I have friends that are and I can see the love in my mom’s eyes when she is near my kids. It would seem to me that it would be a satisfying experience to watch your children raise children. I still look at my “babies” as miracles on earth.  Their very existence takes my breath away to this day, 19 years later. I am proud of them and the choices that they make. I am proud of their character and their honesty. They are, quite simply, a constant delight to my husband and I. 
When the time comes for them to work through the miraculous process of birth, I can't imagine the love that will erupt out of our hearts. To be a source of wisdom and love, prayer and peace, is a compelling benefit of aging. I love the promises that Solomon whispers into my future, an almost, “Oh you haven’t seen anything yet”  experience to raising children. How fun our life is as we live out loud in love! 
The flip side of our little Proverb today is that children find honor, beauty, and attributes of God (tiph'arah) in their parents. We are looking at a mutual respect and honoring way of life, across the generations. If parents are  displaying attributes of God, children are learning the ways of Wisdom as they grow. Grandparents continue teaching, loving, honoring the future generations. What a beautiful unit that God designed in the family.  What a beautiful way to organize the Bride of Christ as we continue to raise up babes in the Word, speaking into future generations.
Let’s pray:
Thank you Father for adopting us into Your family, showing us what true acceptance and love feel like.  Thank you for showing us a love like none we ever experienced before, a love that fills us and allows us to love supernaturally.  Help us in our day to day.  Each season of life holds its challenges.  Help us to keep a higher perspective. Help patience reign in our interactions and grace be the fruit that we share. Help us in whatever stage of life we are occupying to be the greatest representation of ourselves, that You created us to be.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Importance of Listening

17:5 Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker;
    he who is glad at calamity will not go unpunished.
Today’s Proverb grants us an amazing insight into ourselves.  A question pops into my mind: How do we receive bad news that involves others? I might even ask the flip side of that question: How do we receive good news that involves others? 
Have you ever been delighted when bad things happen to others?
Have you ever, through the fuel of jealousy, rejoiced in another’s misfortune?
Have you ever, secretly, watched and waited for the fall of another? 
Human nature pits us against each other, competing for the brass ring.  God’s economy has ample supply for each of us to acquire, His God-ordained brass ring for our own lives. In order for the Bride to operate as a functioning Body, we must rejoice in each other’s success and mourn in each other’s grief. We must encourage and edify each other and stop tearing each other down.  This starts with our speech, and our ears. What are we releasing and what are we ingesting? 
Let’s pray:
Lord, help us to slow down enough to concentrate on the words that we speak and the words that we allow in.  Help the things that don't align with Your Spirit be an affront to our senses, unappetizing and empty.  Help us to rework words so that they speak life.We  trust that You will  rework thoughts so they don't spin into self hatred and criticism and help our ears discern motivations behind the spoken word.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Water Seeks It's own Level

4 An evildoer listens to wicked lips,  and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.
While I was growing up I was often met with one of my mother’s sayings: “Water seeks it’s own level”, meaning, those that delight in wrong doing and ill speak will not seek out the company of the righteous and the virtuous tongue. We tend to hang around those that are like us. If we are to be known by our character and our actions, we can not even stand to listen to gossip, slander, lies and a critical spirit.  These things should be an affront to our perceptions.  Once we start entertaining little lies and small compromises, the very foundations underneath us begin to tremble and our perception of what is allowable begins to waver.                 
Solomon warns us here  against the sins of listening and what we we allow in. He has spent numerous verses warning of the evils of the tongue.  Now, we look at the relationship between the tongue and the ear. Let’s face it: the gossiper doesn’t have to seek for long until there is an ear ready to listen, take in and digest the malice. We must not be a receptacle for words that do not edify, grow, encourage and bring life to those around us.
To speak in lies, gossip, slander, criticism and judgment is to spend out days in the company of folly.
To listen, engage, ponder and judge words that kill,  is to dance with the wicked and to harbor these thoughts in our hearts. 

Let’s pray: Lord, help us to uphold truth today.  Refine our senses so that we are so aware of the materials and speech that are allowed into our everyday.  Help us to have such a plum line of righteousness that we feel uncomfortable around lies, gossip,, slander and mischief.  Help us take control over what we listen to today. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Refiners Fire Searh Me

Proverbs17:3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the Lord tests the hearts.
The refining fire brings out the purity of silver and gold. The Lord wants us pure and holy.  He desires our holiness, not our happiness. God alone knows the condition of our hearts. James reminds us that we are to welcome trials, to welcome the refiners fire, as it only means that we are making more room for Him to inhabit our hearts:
            James 1:2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,a whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. 5If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. NIV
Lord we ask that you would search our hearts,in all circumstances to refine us and bring us closer to You through Holy Obedience.   We thank you for the refiner's fire that brings to the surface all of our impurities, so that we can notice them, repent and change them, making more room for you.  May we always approach the throne of grace with a teachable spirit that yields to Your direction and discipline.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Wise Servant

Proverbs17:2 A wise servant will rule over a son who causes shame,
And will share an inheritance among the brothers.
Let’s look at inheritance.  Here we have a foolish son, and a wise servant.  One was born into right, privilege and stature, the other born into slavery and poverty. Yet, where we are born does not dictate our acquisition of Wisdom and Godly living. Here the servant steps out of His boundaries, through Wisdom, to direct the son of the wealthy.  We are shown here that truth speaks and Wisdom directs. To hold it within is not to multiply the Kingdom of God.   In our everyday moments we have places where we can turn a blind eye to another’s shame, or we can speak in love, through grace, offering mercy.  We are called to be iron sharpening iron and that is a hard place  to live. Feelings get hurt and anger ensues.
Our little Proverb tells of the future of the servant that ruled over the foolhardy, he gains an inheritance with the rightful heirs.  We are promised through scripture that Wisdom rules over folly. Ours is the way to find how to do that while we magnify The King, and offer a seat at His banquet table.   James 3:17-18 says:
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
When we open our moths, we should have these guidelines as our focus as we share heavenly Wisdom. Let’s pray:
What is the purpose for discernment Lord?  It is not to judge, condemn and cast aside?  No, I think not.   You give us discernment, with an obligation, to speak considerate, peace loving, merciful words to ourselves and to others.  We are burdened to take your grace and good fruit to others and offer it through love. Help us to remember this Lord as we see into circumstances and situations, we are not better, we are not more than, we are saved by grace and vessels of Your uncompromising love. As we walk in discernment, may we walk in equal parts of peace and mercy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Quiet Life

Proverbs17:1  Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife.
A modest life, hardworking and quiet is nothing to be ashamed of. A house that is united and a family that respects and honors is to be cherished and guarded.  The focus seems to be here on the relationships, not on the opulence.  In today’s world we can get lost on the acquisition of stuff and loose the priority of healthy, nurturing relationships. I am reminded here of the definition of love:
            Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.Love never fails 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Msg
Love is quiet, isn’t it? Faithfulness does not make a big show of itself, it just is and it just does. Love is just a sweet place to call home, separate and apart from the gluttony of possession and strife.  Might we remember that it isn’t about our stuff and our excess, but about those closest to us and the interactions that we have moment by moment.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

No Coincidences

Proverbs16: 33 The lot is cast into the lap,
But its every decision is from the Lord.
Do you believe in coincidences? This little Proverb seems to have two sides – the first one speaks of the lack of coincidence in our lives. Nothing comes to us by chance, nothing is happenstance.  If we are walking it out, it passed through the Lord’s hands first. Some things are uncomfortable and hard to imagine that it passed through the hands of God before dealing its terrible blow.  Yet, for reasons we can not understand, all things pass through the hands of our loving Father.
I am reminded of a story that was told to me at our Bible Study last week.  A woman was dying of cancer and her husband was not a believer. She was sure that in her healing, her husband would come to know the Lord. IT didn’t happen the way that she thought, she lost her battle to cancer, in the crushing of her life, the sweetest aroma of Jesus was released and her husband caught wind of it.  He became a believer through the gentle crushing of the reed that was his wife. She was healed, not in the way she imagined. Her eternal birth brought a wayward sheep into the fold.  No coincidences.
The other aspect of this little Proverb is that we are to plan and we are to seek Wisdom in our future plans.  As we enter into the decision making process and “throw our lot” to see where we are directed, heavy prayer would ensure our faith that the Lord is directing and the Lord has a plan.  Seeking Him in all we do, trusting that He is in our tomorrows, leading us in 
His ways we cast our die, trusting the outcome lies in His will and in His highest good for our life.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Slow To Anger

Proverbs 16:32    He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

We all know the trick, “Count to ten, before you speak.” How many times are we on a hair trigger, rushing into the heat of battle through our words and our actions, mowing someone over in the moment?   Here we see again that our words have such lasting impact.   Solomon tells us the impossible here, it is better to be slow to anger than it is to be a mighty, strong, valiant person. Loose the muscle and the brawn, and be still in His presence. Hear the gentle reminders of the Spirit that we are to leave soft footsteps and leave no harmful tread marks on another’s heart.   The word here is “'aph” and it refers to the rapid breathing when we are angry.  Solomon paints such a picture for us, of one who breathes in grace and exhales mercy, slowing down our moments so that we are not loosing ourselves in triggers and reactions.

In looking at this control of our emotions, Solomon takes it to a level that is fantastical, unimaginable and, can it be obtainable?  To rule our spirit, the ebb and flow of emotions and triggers is far better than to take a city.  Can you see the battle that we have, in the moments of our everyday? There is a war over our emotions, a war that wants us to strike out, kill , maim, destroy and sever. We are to slow down and proceed with grace. Slow down and control our temper, anger and emotions. Slow down and rule over our flesh, before we even imagine thinking that we can taking charge of others! 

What an interesting idea for all of us as we embark on ministry pursuits. Today we are reminded to control out tongue and our temper, to breathe in grace and exhale His mercy over all that we meet, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the Glory of His Kingdom.  Let’s love recklessly and forgive with abandon.

Friday, July 8, 2016

A Crown of Glory

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory on people who have lived good lives. It is earned by living right.
I love the shift of paradigms that we are forced to take here! Gray hair is to be cherished as a life well lived.  To grow in age is to grow in Wisdom, while feeding into younger generations and creating a legacy of faith, as in the case of Timothy:
            I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Timothy1:5

As a nation we fear getting old and the wrinkles, drooping and gray hair. What if we were to shift our paradigm and view this gray hair as a crown of glory?  We would see that our crown held many gems that were gathered through our lives.  Gems of humility and grace.  Gems of “disappointment” that were later polished to “victory’. Jewels that spoke of our fruit and our harvest. Emblems that shine from our lessons learned and passed onto future generations. Our crowns would tell the story of our lives, of our pursuits and our race to the finish, all for His glory, magnifying the King as we lay it at his feet on our day of glory.

Isn’t this a gorgeous view of aging?   This view honors and respects, it doesn’t cast aside. It seeks out and allows in. It nurtures and appreciates. Goodness, we have so much to learn as we walk out this life!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Soften Us Through Each Interaction

Proverbs 16:29 Cruel people trick their neighbors and make them do wrong. 30 With a wink of the eye, they plan to trick someone. With a grin, they make plans to hurt their friends.
We are back to the froward person again here, one that is difficult to deal with and contrary, plotting and planting fruits of destruction. Matthew Henry describes this person as,
            Such as (like Satan still) do all they can to entice and draw in others to join with them in doing mischief, leading them in a way that is not good, that is not honest, nor honourable, nor safe, but offensive to God, and which will be in the end pernicious to the sinner. Thus he aims to ruin some in this world by bringing them into trouble, and others in the other world by bringing them into sin.”

There is evil in the world, in Genesis, we are told that sin lurks at our door longing for us. We must be on guard from the “little sins” that trip us into bigger sins.  We must be in control of our tongues and our actions.  We must bow our knees in holy obedience to the ordinary.  As we bow to the simple things, we are aligning with the righteousness of the Lord, making a pathway for future righteousness, for Wisdom to take hold and discernment to grow. Each right choice strengthens us.  Each encouraging interaction teaches us.  Each act of grace softens us.  

Lets pray: Lord soften us to Your ways and grow in us Wisdom so that we might avoid the pitfalls of this world and walk in heavenly realms as we inhabit this earth. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Be The Best "You" Today!

Proverb 16:28 Troublemakers are always causing problems. Their gossip breaks up the closest of friends.
Well there you go. Gossip, we hear of her lure and her destruction once again. Here the word for troublemaker (tahpukah) implies one that is a “froward” .  I had to look up FROWARD to see what Solomon was referring to and what He was showing us.  Froward is a difficult person to deal with, a contrary person.
Oh that we might not be this froward person, difficult to deal with, dividing, contrary! That we would not speak to others what we can’t say to ones face.  That we would have relationships that foster encouragement and love, grace and mercy, and the fruit of these relationships would be evident.
The KJV says that, “Troublemakers plant seeds of strife.” Imagine that, as we are going out and sowing into our dreams and harvesting the fruit of relationship with Jesus, there are others that set out to plant seeds of disaccord and strife. To plant means that there is an intention of getting something to grow, except here it is not good fruit. Its intention is to divide and separate.  We must guard our hearts and guard our relationships.  We always get to choose what we allow in and who we allow into our lives.  We don’t have to take the bait that toxic people offer.  We can separate and pray from afar.
Let’s pray:
Lord help us to have control over our tongues and the words that come out of it.  May our words be an encouragement and life giving. May our interactions be honest and above board. May we learn to guard our tongue, guard our heart and take all thoughts captive to You.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Words of Life

Provrbs 16:27 Troublemakers create disasters. Their advice destroys like a wildfire.
The word for troublemaker here is: bĕliya`al, meaning a worthless, good for nothing. Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we were able to let the worthless gossip, slander, criticism and judgement of troublemakers fall to the wayside? Solomon tells us here that the worth of a troublemakers words are nothing, yet, we ingest them and make these words more important that life giving, encouraging, words. Why is that?  Why do we do it?  Why do we give so much thought and weight to the nasty that we hear? Why do we ponder it and mull over these worthless words for days, months, years? 
Solomon tells us that these folks create disasters through their lips.  It is promised that their advice will consume like a fire. I must learn how to quiet these voices and not allow them to have any sort of fertile purchase in my heart. I must quench these lifeless words with the love of  His living water.  
Let’s pray:
Lord help us to discern life giving advice and advice that is worthless.  When it is discerned, help us to let it go and  not allow it to take root in our hearts, through offense, hurt, disappointment, anger or jealousy. Help us to filter all interactions through Your Holy Spirit, so that we might enter into conversations with the grace of Living Water.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Investing in Tomorrow

Proverbs 16:26 The thought of hunger keeps the workers working so that they can eat.
Wisdom thinks ahead to tomorrow. Wisdom lays her trust in the Lord and works hard in her present circumstances. Wisdom plans for the future.  There was a period in my life where I was working with recovering addicts.  We taught them basic life skills that seemed to have been lost somewhere along the way. Setting an alarm clock and getting up. Keeping appointments. Making short term plans and long term goals. Somehow, they had lost these skills after the pursuit of “The Moment”. Living for the next score and the next high, any kind of long term- anything- was not existent.
Farmers plant and water, and weed and wait.  They watch the storms roll in and they see the pests that threaten their crops.  Up early and falling into bed late at night. Yet, they keep at it, a goal in mind and a purpose in their everyday. Wisdom plans and keeps their hands busy and healthy while the plans of the Lord continue energizing them.  For entire seasons they see nothing as a visible sign of their work, with the magic happening deep beneath the soil.  But they keep on, trusting in the enfolding.
We are all farmers, in a way.  Planting our dreams and watering them.  Keeping away the pests that threaten with our eyes on the harvest. Not seeing fruit, but knowing that things are still happening.  Each day, walking in Wisdom’s way,  we work and sow into our dreams with the Lord, investing time and treasure in relationship with Him.  Just as we work towards our earthly future, we invest in our eternity, through Jesus Christ.
What about you?  Are there dreams that have lied dormant for too long?  Have you given up on working them and tilling the soil around them?  Have pests come and robbed you of your harvest? Dream again.  I think those dreams are still there, they just require your time ,attention and patience.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Background Loveliness!

SUPER fun and easy background technique using a Gelli Plate!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Seemed Like A Good Idea.....

Proverbs 16:25 There is a path before each person that seems right,
    but it ends in death.
“Seems” is a tricky word.  “Seems” allows for a lot of loose interpretation and shadows of illusion. The fruit on the tree of good and evil, seemed ok.  The crowd yelling, “Crucify Him”, seemed like a good idea at the time.  Left to our devices, I think we exist on the decision making of “seem”. If it is pleasing to the eye and to the senses, if it feels good, it would seem to be the right path.

Enter Wisdom to save us from ourselves and our fleshy perceptions.  We hav been  told already,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

We are told not to lean on our own understandings, not to think and act on what “seems” right.  Our God provides straight paths that lead to life, when we acknowledge Him and trust in His navigation.

Let’s pray:

Help us to remember to check in with You, Lord.  To check in on the big decisions as well as the smaller decisions.  Help us to trust in Your ways and Your paths, and Your timing. Ignite in us a sense of righteousness that will shudder at the paths that “seem” right and pleasing.  Let us be so in tune with Your Spirit that we would recognize traps and snares that have been left out for us.

Monica: Romania

Monica: Romania
Beauty Pierces the Darkness

Join us at Encouragement Cafe!

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

God Will Fix This

God Will Fix This
A prayer for San Bernadino

Art in the Mission Field

Art in the Mission Field
How much would you pay for a smile like that?

God of the Impossible

God of the Impossible
Dreams made Flesh

The Majesty of God

The Majesty of God
His Threadbare Sandals


You taught My Feet To Dance on Disappointment

Creativity Unleashed!

Creativity Unleashed!