Monday, August 24, 2015

Pity Parties are Overrated!

Stress got the best of me. It had been a busy week. Nothing had gone the way I had planned – and I was headed for a mini pity-party. To top it off, I could tell I was getting sick. The sore throat, headache, and exhaustion couldn’t be ignored. I needed a nap.

I woke up with the same symptoms I had when I laid down. Discouraged, I headed downstairs for a glass of water. A fluttering at the door caught my attention. A tiny hummingbird – the first I had seen all year - flitted from one side of the door to the other. 

God’s goodness

As I watched the little creature, another animal moved in the distance. A doe and her two fawns had stopped to do a bit of grazing at the end of our driveway. In spite of how I felt, I was reminded of God’s goodness:

Thou art good, and doest good, teach me thy statutes. Psalm 119:68; KJV
It was just like my Heavenly Father to orchestrate a small display of His glory through His creation to bring a smile to my face. In just a couple minutes my thoughts shifted from a self-focus to a God-focus. I was encouraged by the reality that God cares (click to tweet).

His invitation

He wants me to share everything with Him. Even the seemingly insignificant and small things that bother me are of importance to Him:

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. 1 Peter 5:7
And yes, He also wants me to recognize and repent of sin in my life. To be honest, my attitude as I headed down the stairs wasn’t right. I was consumed with self: angry that things hadn’t gone my way, feeling sorry for myself because I was getting sick, and genuinely surprised that I was struggling with pride.

His promise

The beautiful thing? God was ready to forgive and extend His grace when I repented and asked forgiveness.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 1 Peter 5:8

Your turn

Are you in the middle of a pity-party? Don’t hesitate to talk it over with the Lord. What step will you take to draw close to Him today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for caring for me even when I’m ‘unlovely.’ Help me share my disappointments and failures with You. Point out my sin and help me be quick to repent and ask forgiveness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Maria I. Morgan in an inspirational writer and speaker. She is the award-winning author of Louie's BIG day! Regardless of the age of her audience, her goal is the same: to share God's truth and make an eternal difference.
Coming soon to Amazon:
October 2015 - Louie & the Leaf Pile (the 2nd in the Louie the Lawnmower series for children)
November 2015 - Outrageously Fruitful (a 10-week Bible study for women on the fruit of the Spirit)
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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Being a Caregiver

I love the title of Eugene H. Peterson’s journal, Long Obedience in the Same Direction. I find it quaint that he chose to modify the word “obedience” with the adjective “long.” Somehow, “long” makes me think of space or distance.  Obedience is a trait or a virtue, not a thing that can be physically measured. Then there’s “in the same direction.” Again, his description makes a virtue move in one direction, as if it were a river or a road, not moral choice acted upon.


And so, Long Obedience in the Same Direction challenges my imagination.  

Like many people, mostly women for various reasons, I am a family caregiver. After working for 40 years, my husband retired on disability several years ago. At first, all was well, but when age and daily wear and tear added to his limitations. I took early retirement to help him.

Although I was a nurse, and had been caregiver for my parents, I didn’t realize that being a 24/7 caregiver differed from being a caregiver on call or as needed, as I had been with Mom and Dad. Praise God, my husband and I weathered many health crises over the years, some of which were life threatening, and care giving has become a way of life for me now.  

On our wedding day, we took each other “for better, for worse, in sickness and in health.” If you are like me— a caregiver for parent, child or husband— you understand obedience. Jesus is calling you to be his comfort, his hands and feet, to shower his love upon someone he treasures. He trusts you with the life of a person for whom he died. You serve Yeshua, the Jewish carpenter, who is the epitome of long obedience, even unto death. Without faith in Jesus’ strength, care giving can be difficult, draining, exhausting, and irritating.

A dear friend had an interesting observation. One day Bill spoke about discovering God’s will for your life. “Well you can pray about it. Read about it. Study the Bible. Ask a lot of friends. Or you can just do what’s under your nose.”

That’s how the role of care giving claims you. It’s right under your nose, whether you want it or not.

When my neighbor suffered a fall and fractured his vertebrae, he couldn’t move his arms or legs at first. His wife became a caregiver in the twinkling of an eye. (After many prayers from friends, family, three local congregations, and extensive physical therapy, he is walking with a walker and doing well, despite still requiring a lot of care.)

He and his wife are Christ followers and recognize care giving for the hidden blessing it can be, when done in obedience to God’s will. When Jesus holds caregivers up, he replaces irritation with compassion, anxiety with his peace, confusion with his wisdom, so that we can be obedient and do the task he put before us for a long time.  

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights. He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me; your help has made me great. You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.” (Psalm 18: 32-36 NIV Life Application Bible)

Care giving moves in only one direction.

“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves ME, him My Father will honor.” (John 12:25-26 NKVJ)

Sometimes, despite the best efforts, interventions fail and we are reminded it’s not we, but our sovereign God, who controls outcomes. I love Mother Teresa’s answer to the question about how she managed to do what she did. She replied she does not need to be successful; she only needs to be faithful.   

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV Life Application Study Bible)

Website Ecclesia! found at

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Watching the Glacier

Last month, my husband and I and our good friends went on an Alaskan cruise, something that none of us had ever done before. It was a week of near-constant activity: whale-watching, canoeing on a glacier-carved lake, touring the towns of southeast Alaska, elbowing fellow cruisers at the buffet, hiking through woods of Sitka pine, navigating the constantly rocking passageways of the ship. Altogether, it was a marvelous experience—one that I’d do again anytime (given the opportunity)—but the highlight of the trip wasn’t a shore excursion or my first taste of Baked Alaska. It was the hour or so spent in the vicinity of the Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay.

Photography by Ben Ackerson, I think. Maybe Annette McCord. This picture doesn't come
anywhere near to capturing the beauty of the glacier.

Our ship rested in near-perfect stillness near Margerie so the passengers could take in her beauty. The glacier is about 21 miles long and a mile wide, and nearly 250 feet tall where it meets the water. Its extremely compacted ice gives it a brilliant turquoise color when the skies are overcast; the bluish patches intermingle with white crystal spires, creating an ice palace more stunning than anything the Disney artists could ever create.

We found a deck not generally known by the ship’s nearly 2000 passengers and spent a quiet and chilly hour just watching the glacier. I suppose it might be tempting to think of “watching a glacier” as a metaphor for something particularly slow and uninteresting, like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. I’m a person who doesn’t much care for ‘down time’ or for waiting or for doing nothing. Patience is not one of my virtues. But that hour was one of the most sublime of my entire life, and it was an hour in which it might seem that absolutely nothing was happening.

In glacial time, that hour was no time at all. A fluttering of the eyes. A breath. A syllable.

But it was spectacularly interesting, and things were happening all the time. A bald eagle landed on one of the glacial towers, then swooped down and grabbed a fish from the icy water. A tiny avalanche of ice and snow would tumble into the bay from the front of the glacier, followed a few seconds later by a boom, sounding disproportionately loud to us on the ship. And though we never saw significant ‘calving’ from Margerie, we saw dozens of smaller such calf-lets fall into the water, and some of the bergs surrounding the ship from previous launchings into the bay were the size of automobiles. Far beneath our lookout on deck 9, we could see a smaller boat and a kayaker, also taking in the splendor of Margerie’s constantly changing landscape.

Margerie has been in Glacier Bay for centuries, and in God’s time, those centuries are no time at all. A fluttering of the eyes. A breath. A syllable. Why then, do I fret when I have begged for something of God and nothing seems to be happening at all? Things are happening constantly, just like the eagle and the calving of the glacier and the tiny kayaker in continual motion amid the floating chunks of ice. Nothing is truly motionless; I’m simply too close or too far away to see it all, or to hear the sounds of God’s voice except delayed by distance and circumstance. 


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Snakes and Doves

To my Christian friends who are on the other side of a controversial subject (pick one, there are too many these days): I Love You.  

We probably don't agree on a smattering of minor doctrines and there may be a (very) few major differences in what we hear God saying through Scripture, but that doesn't change the ONE thing, the most IMPORTANT thing, that we who have in common:  our realization that the only Way to life, the only Truth of life... Life itself... is Jesus. And in Him we are all children of God. We struggle with the flesh but strive to live our new lives according to the Spirit. And we all will fail.   

 Jesus never told anyone what they were doing wrong unless they boasted about doing everything right.    

When talking to His disciples and to the crowds of broken sinners who followed Him, He comforted them, encouraged them, and he told them about a better way. However, when speaking to the holier-than-thou religious leaders who challenged and mocked Him, Jesus called them out, basically told them they were clueless and lost, and He warned them of the wrong path they insisted on following.   

There were those who came to him in awe, humbly asking, "Who are you, Lord? Are you the Messiah?"  And there were those who came to him in contempt, asking, "Who do you think you are? The Lord? The Messiah?"  

There always have been and always will be those who refuse to accept Jesus for Who He is. When Jesus sent out His disciples "to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick," He told them "If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." (Luke 9:2,5)  In the same account in Matthew 10:16, Jesus goes on to tell the 12, "I'm sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as gentle as doves." 

What He DIDN'T say is, "Harangue them and argue in circles. Write angry and inflammatory scrolls and circulate them throughout the town."    

Jesus said to be as shrewd as a snake, not as mean as a snake. Instead, be as gentle as a dove. And that is a fine line to navigate. When I think of snakes, and of shrewd people, I don't think lovey-dovey thoughts. But the definition of "shrewd" here (according to Strong's and my Pastor) is "practically wise", "sensible", "prudent", or "intelligent"; not conniving or manipulative. 

I love how The Message paraphrases Matthew 10:16. 

Stay alert.  This is hazardous work I’m assigning you.  You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack,  so don’t call attention to yourselves.  Be as cunning as a snake,  inoffensive as a dove.  

Jesus has sent us out, also, so as we go, we would be wise keep these instructions close to heart. If non-believers witness us tearing each other to shreds on social media, will they believe us when we tell them Christianity is about love? And when believers criticize and demean non-believers, or post hateful, unverified statements about our country, our leaders, or even celebrities, how many people are going to be led to salvation in Christ when they try to share the Gospel in the next breath? 

By all means, speak the truth, but be wise. And be a like dove - soft, gentle, innocent, and inoffensive.  


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