Putting My Trust in Jesus

During this season of Lent, I am reminded of where I can place my trust, and that is in the One who loved me so much that He was willing to die for me even before I loved Him in return. I am thankful that He is worthy of my trust, that He has never gone back on one of His promises, has never been false or dishonest.

TRUST IN JESUS

Truth fell from His lips like honey
Righteousness radiated from His every pore
Unashamed by His robe of humility
Strong and courageous despite the crown He wore
Thorns causing His brow to bleed, trustworthy blood

I have no other to trust
None other who died on a cross

Jesus my trustworthy redeemer
Emmanuel come to save you and me
Savior of all who will claim Him
Unashamed of His sacrifice on the tree
See? Now He has risen indeed

Because I trust Jesus, I am confident that what He said is true. One of the things He said is that He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” There is no other who was willing to give up all for sinners like you and me, only Jesus. Do you trust what Jesus said?

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

“No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”
John 14:1-7 (NLT).

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Thoughts on Lent

Lamb of God, slain for me
E
ternal One, Thy love I see
N
ow and forever, I turn to Thee
T
hou are my life – set me free

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Paint Chip Poetry Prompt #13

It’s week 13 and I’m late! I usually have these done by the day before at the latest, but this week has been crazy. Working from home is exhausting and doesn’t leave a lot of room for creativity.

This week’s prompt is to write about some BIG NEWS! Please come up with something besides the coronavirus pandemic. The prompt words are acorn, golden, lightening, forget-me-not, silver spoon, breath of fresh air, and smoke and ash.

Your challenge is to write about some big news using at least three of the prompt words. Bonus points if you can figure out how to include all seven in your poem.

Here’s My Poem

Forest News

Said the squirrel to the chipmunk,
I have some really big news.
I found a stash of acorns,
enough for me and you.

Said the blue jay to the sparrow,
I have some news to share.
The golden sun is rising
bringing a breath of fresh air.

Said the hunter to the farmer,
I have some news for you.
A bolt of lightening struck a tree,
and smoke and ash did spew.

Said the maiden to the flower,
I have to tell you strong and sure,
I’ll call you forget-me-not
because your beauty is so pure.

Said the angel to the pilgrim,
I have good news to say.
Better than a silver spoon
our Lord Jesus is the way.

Your Turn

Are you up for the challenge? I won’t say I know you have more time because you’re most likely stuck at home. I know that conclusion isn’t valid. But I do hope you’ll share some big news with me and my readers. Post your poem in the comments, or post it on your blog and share a link in the comments.

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Willing to Empathize

The words sympathy and empathy are, according to the dictionary, synonyms. Many people use them interchangeably, but they don’t mean exactly the same thing. I can sympathize with pretty much anyone if I want to, but there are many people I cannot empathize with. For that I am thankful.

So what’s the difference? Let’s look at a few examples.

I can sympathize with a starving child in a third world country or even here at home, but I can’t empathize because I have never truly been hungry. I don’t know what it feels like to not know where my next meal will come from, or where my next ten meals will come from.

I can sympathize with the victims of a devastating earthquake, flood, or tornado, but I can’t empathize with them because I have never been the victim of a natural catastrophe of that magnitude. The worst natural disaster I’ve experienced was the eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington state, and the worst of that was a inch of ash in my front yard.

I can sympathize with a person who has been diagnosed with cancer, but I can’t empathize with them because I have never had cancer myself. I’ve never had to undergo chemotherapy and radiation. I’ve known people who have, and I feel sympathy for them, but I don’t know, can’t know, how they feel.

But there are some people I can empathize with. I can fully understand and know the pain of someone suffering from depression. I’ve been there and have not forgotten how bad it can be. I not only feel sad for those suffering from depression, my heart aches for them and I know the struggles they are facing each and every day. I can empathize with them.

I can empathize with someone who has lost a beloved pet. Many years ago I lost my dear cocker spaniel Bette who had been with me for 18 years. I loved that dog, and I miss her still. When someone tells me they have lost a pet that has been in their family for years, I can understand and know how they are feeling.

I can empathize with someone who has been sexually assaulted. I have personally experienced the pain, shame, and fear as a victim myself. I know the negative thoughts and shame that are all too common for a person who has been raped. I also understand the anger that can poison the victims mind and soul.

I can empathize with someone who has lost one or both parents to disease. Both of my parents died of cancer when I was far too young to lose them. When I hear that someone has lost a parent, I know how they feel. And I can relate to how they will likely feel even years later.

So here is my challenge to you: try to empathize with those you can. It is natural to want to forget the difficulties of the past, but if we do that then we have endured those difficulties for nothing. But if we use our trials to empathize with those who are experiencing the same or similar trials, we can be a blessing to help them through. When you truly empathize with someone, and not simply sympathize, you are better equipped to know how to respond to their pain and challenges.

We live in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. My challenge to you is to make the world a better place by using the knowledge you gained from difficult experiences to help someone else. Sympathy can lead us to send money for food to feed starving children in Africa or aid to tornado victims in another state, and that is good. But empathy can lead us to develop deep relationships with others, and be blessed in the process, and that is even better.

Ecclesiastes 4

9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:

10 If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!

11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?

12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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Surviving or Thriving

I was reposting old posts for Lent, and I will continue that plan tomorrow, but today I thought I’d do something a little different.

Like much of the country, I’ve been working from home for a little over a week now. It’s part of our practice of social distancing to try to stem the spread of COVID-19. Based on the current order of my state’s governor, I’ll probably be working from home at least through the end of April. It’s definitely an adjustment.

I’ve seen so many memes about working in pajamas or otherwise just lounging around during the period of social isolation, and how being at home so much could cause people to go nuts. It has me thinking about the best ways to survive this situation that has us isolating ourselves so that more people might survive the coronavirus.

So here is my list of tips to thrive, instead of simply survive, this challenging time of working from home.

  1. Adhere to as much of your pre-social-isolation routine as you can. That means:
    • get up at roughly the same time,
    • take a shower and get dressed (including jewelry if you usually wear it),
    • brush your hair and put on a little make-up, and
    • eat a healthy breakfast then brush your teeth.
  2. Now that you are ready for work, use what used to be commute time to add a new habit, such as:
    • read your Bible or a daily devotional,
    • pray or meditate, or
    • play with your dog, cat, or kids.
  3. Take regular breaks during the day to:
    • go for a walk (in uncrowded places, of course),
    • sit out in the sun,
    • watch the birds and squirrels, or
    • notice and smell the flowers that are blooming.
  4. Stop to eat a healthy lunch that,
    • includes some fresh fruit,
    • tastes good, and
    • provides strength for your afternoon of work.
  5. Keep in touch with people by:
    • calling a friend or family member you rarely have time to talk to,
    • plan video meetings with co-workers to check in, or
    • talk with other members of your household who are adjusting to social distancing too.
  6. Turn off work by:
    • turning off your work computer at the end of your work day and stop checking email,
    • not succumbing to the temptation to get just a few things done on the weekend, and
    • not answering your phone if it’s a work call and it’s after work hours.
  7. Cherish your weekends by:
    • spending time with family playing games or watching movies,
    • reading a book,
    • going for a walk (again, in non-crowded places), and
    • “attending” streaming church services.

I hope these tips help you. I know these practices have helped me so far. We have a challenge ahead of us, but if we remember we’re all in it together, and “this too shall pass,” then we can learn to thrive and grow where we are.

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Fearful and Courageous

With so much fear and anxiety over the coronavirus these days, I thought I’d share a poem I wrote five years ago. It seemed appropriate. May it help you be courageous though fearful in these challenging times.

Courageous

The giants tower above me
menacing and cruel
I tremble in faith
Stand resolutely with fear

The waves crash down upon me
mighty and powerful
I  shudder in faith
Rise unflinchingly with fear

The enemy surrounds me
threatening and heartless
I cringe in faith
Prevail triumphantly with fear

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Better Than Magic

It’s in their DNA
to sip then zip away
Hovering in one spot
as other birds cannot

The agile hummingbird
Magical is the only word
That will adequately describe
members of this tribe

Even magic is not enough
To illuminate the Creator’s
amazing stuff

_______________________________

Today at dVerse Poets Pub Linda Lee Lyberg is calling for magical Quadrille’s. Head over and see what other magic the poets have come up with.

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Older and Wiser

When it comes to books of the Bible, I’m not a huge fan of 1 and 2 Chronicles because it seems so repetitive. These two books basically “chronicle” (hence the name) the reigns of the various kings of Israel and Judah. Each chapter starts so-and-so, son of so-and-so, became king of Judah. He was X years old. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord or he did what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord. There seem to be a lot more of the former, but I’ve never actually taken a tally to confirm that.

Nonetheless there are relevant lessons to be gleaned from passages like 2 Chronicles 34 to 35. Here we find the story of King Josiah who “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” He became king at the age of eight and from the beginning he followed in the footsteps of his ancestor King David. When he was older, the scroll of the law was found in the temple. As the scroll was read, Josiah realized the Israelites had not been following it, and “he tore his robes.” He humbled himself before God because he was upset that the Israelites had not been following God’s law. He resolved to change that and to follow God in the way he now knew he should.

What strikes me about this is that as he got older, Josiah became wiser. For many years he had done his best to follow God and was even credited with doing what was pleasing to God. But when he learned more about God from the scroll that was found, he used this new information to change his actions and his attitude toward God.

I have been a Christian for quite a few years and, since the time I was baptized and became a believer, I have tried my best to do what was right in God’s eyes. With the information and wisdom that I had at each stage of my life, I followed God. I am older now and have read much more of His Word; that should mean I am wiser. What was pleasing to God when I was 25 would probably not be pleasing to Him now that I am in my 50’s. I must continually grow in my understanding of His Word and change my actions and attitude toward God when I learn new information that reveals my actions are not in accordance with God’s will.

Conversely, when I see young Christians acting in a way, or displaying an attitude, that I know from God’s Word is not pleasing to Him, I need to be understanding. I need to realize that they are (hopefully) acting in accordance with the knowledge and wisdom they now have. As they seek to know Him better, their actions and attitudes will change and they will become more like Christ. With gentleness, it is my duty to guide them when led by the Spirit to do so, and to point them to the Word of God and what He has to say on the issue before us. As one who has “heard the words of the Law” as King Josiah did, and grown in my understanding of Christ’s grace and mercy, it is my duty to pass that on to others who are less mature in their faith. As Paul wrote to the Ephesians:

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV).

King Josiah shared the words of the scroll that had been found with all of the people (see 2 Chronicles 34:29-31) so that they might be built up as a nation and recommit themselves to the Lord. He was a good king, and his story is worth reading and learning from. In the same way, those who know God’s Word should share it with others so that we might be built up as the body of Christ.

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Paint Chip Poetry Prompt #12

Woooohoooo! We made it to a dozen! Are you all as excited as I am? Given the current state of the world, it’s the little things that keep us going.

This week our paint chip prompt is to write about heartbreak. Remember, you don’t have to use the work heartbreak to write about it. The paint chip words and phrases this week are thistle, tip of the tongue, tree house, out of the blue, sunshine, summer squash, and glacier.

Your Challenge

Are you up for this challenge? Do these words bring to mind a specific heartbreak you’ve experienced? Or do you feel a little fictional heartbreak coming on? Maybe this challenge will break your heart as I fiendishly make it more difficult than usual. So your challenge, should you accept it, is to write a 12-line poem (because this is the 12th paint chip prompt) using at least 4 of the paint chip words or phrases.

Here’s My Poem

This is a completely fictional and a tad bit silly take on heartbreak.

Out of the Blue

Basking in the sunshine
Thinking my dear of you
You said you’d walk the line
But then out of the blue

A glacier then I felt your love
As cold as ice that stung
Hail stones pelting from above
Your words on the tip of the tongue

Flattened like a summer squash
Fallen from a tree house high
I’ll drown my sorrows in goulash
And watch thistle awash the sky

Your Turn

I can’t wait to read the poems this prompt inspires. You can either post your poem in the comments, or post it on your own blog and post a link in the comments. Please don’t break my heart by not playing along.

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Cast All Your Anxiety on Jesus

Fear and worry are common in our society, today more than ever. Given the current global pandemic, fear is etched on many faces.

But fear is nothing new. We simply have a new thing to fear. Even without the threat of COVID-19, people worry and fear the simplest things. No wonder this virus has caused utter panic.

One time I was talking to a friend about some pictures she needed to get framed. She said she had taken them to the frame shop three times, but had never left them to be framed because she was afraid she would make the wrong choice of frames. She finally left them on her fourth visit, but was then afraid to go pick them up.

I used to worry a lot. I was afraid to talk to people. Long before social distancing was a thing, I was even afraid to leave my house. I remember having a panic attack at a traveling Smithsonian exhibit because I lost sight of my husband. In retrospect, it was silly to be afraid because I knew where our car was, I had the keys, and I knew the way home. Plus I knew he was there somewhere. But fear gripped me anyway.

This kind of fear and worry do not come from God. They are lies of the evil one. The apostle John wrote: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:16. When we know and understand God’s love, there is no need to fear. Even in our most difficult trials, He has won for us the ultimate victory through His love and sacrifice. In the words of the old hymn, “Though the devil may ruin, though trials may come, It is well with my soul.”

But how do we avoid fear and worry in a world that caters to and preys on these emotions? In the midst of global pandemic where can we find peace? The answer is given to us in 1 Peter 5:7, which is the basis of this poem:

On 1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety
On Him
.
All?
Yes, all.
Keep none for yourself.

Why would He
Want all my anxiety?
Because
He cares for you
.

Why would I
Want to give it away?
Because
Then you will know
Peace and freedom
For your soul.

God’s perfect love has driven out fear from my heart. I pray He will do the same for you.

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