Friday, September 26, 2014

Musings on Mamma Mia and my Maker





I'm female, from the top of my touched-up roots to the glitter polish on my toenails.  I love shopping, make-up counters, and sappy romantic comedies.  I cry during Hallmark commercials and watching any videos that contain cute babies, dying children, or returning war heroes.  So, it's not surprising that I am a huge fan of musicals.  Oklahoma, West Side Story, and Mary Poppins are a few of my favorites.  My boys are less enamored with the genre.  For some weird reason, they'd rather watch shows involving violence and car chases. I sigh with bliss when the heroine of my musical realizes she's totally and completely in love with the male lead.  My boys get the same thrill when the bad guy gets his head blown off in their shows.  Their taste in viewing leaves a lot to be desired...

A number of years ago I was introduced to the musical, Mamma Mia.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  This  musical is built entirely around the catchy songs of the 1970s musical group, ABBA.  I'm a little hesitant to recommend this particular musical to others because it does contain a rather sketchy moral premise.  I'll just leave that up to others' and their own consciences of whether or not this show should be part of their viewing pleasures.

There is one song in the show entitled, "Lay All Your Love on Me."  It's an affectionate exchange between a guy and his girl.  Awhile ago, though, some of the  lyrics in the chorus really caught my attention:

Don't go wasting your emotion

Lay all your love on me

Don't go sharing your devotion

Lay all your love on me

I know the song isn't intended to be anything but a love song between two earthly lovers.  But I started turning those lyrics over in my head and soon I realized that I could apply a spiritual truth  to them, despite the author's original intention.

Don't go wasting your emotion.
Lay all your love on Me
Don't go sharing your devotion,
Lay all your love on Me


How much time and energy do I waste, pouring affection onto things that don't matter?  How much of that effort would be better spent focusing on God?  Is my love for Him as obvious as my love for other, temporal things?


 As a single mother of numerous children my days are mostly a whirlwind of activity.  I rush from one event and child to the next.  A lot of this is out of necessity, but not all of it.  Even sometimes in church, the one place where I'm really supposed to be focused on God and all He's done for me, my mind is jumping from one thought to another.  My devotion is spread out all over the place.

Lay all your love on Me

It's pretty simple, isn't it?  He wants all of me - all my love, all my energies,  and all my commitment.

After all, He laid all His love for me - on the cross of Calvary.




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Attitude Is Everything


There's a certain crispness in the morning air that can't be mistaken. The absence of humidity giving way to clearer skies, points to the change of seasons. Soon the leaves will be changing color.

This season will be quite different from the one's my family and I have enjoyed in the past. Our only child will be getting married in just a couple of months. As my husband and I anticipate the adjustment, I realize that while change is never easy, it can be rewarding.

How's your attitude?

So much is determined by my attitude. Stop for a moment and analyze your thoughts. Are there more negatives thoughts than positive ones? Fall may prove to be a great time for you to cultivate the soil of your mind. 

By definition, cultivating the ground includes improving and preparing the soil to nurture the seeds that are planted. Positive, God-honoring thoughts, take the focus off of self and place it on our Heavenly Father and others (click to tweet).

The test

Ready to test your thoughts? Look over the following list of things the Bible tells us to think on, and see how your thoughts measure up: 
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8; KVJ

Putting it into practice 

I can't speak for you, but I know the soil of my mind could use some cultivation! Being willing to identify and eliminate wrong thoughts is the first step. Realizing the power of God's Word and using it to take thoughts captive is crucial (click to tweet). Choosing to praise God continually is transforming.

With an attitude of gratitude, we can celebrate 'thanksgiving' all year long!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the different seasons You've brought into my life. Even though change can be hard, I can grow through it with Your help. Thank You for reminding me of Your goodness and giving me the right things to think about. Help me to be thankful. In Jesus' name, Amen.


*Maria I. Morgan is passionate about sharing the truths of God’s Word with today’s generation. Originally an inspirational author and speaker for adults, Maria has widened her circle to include kids. She lives in the muggy South with her husband, two retrievers, and two Maine coon kitties – the perfect mix to fuel her creativity for years to come!
(You can purchase a copy of her children’s book, “Louie’s BIG day!” on Amazon. You can also find her devotionals and download a free copy of her eBook, God Speaking, at www.mariaimorgan.com)

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Source of the Sound

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Psalm 19:1 NIV
 
A while back, I spent about 100 minutes walking, praying, thinking, looking, seeing, and smelling the outdoors alone. My wonderful Prayer Sisters and I met at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in the late morning, sat in the cafe and chatted an hour and a half or so, then went off on our own.

Beautiful, isn't it?
And did I ever need it.The noises and activities around me for the past...oh, I dunno...47 years (!!) were piling up a bit, and I needed some time with just me, my brain, and God's creation (and just a bit of man's too).

As I walked along the park's boardwalk and nature trails, I was able to truly relax, look, listen and smell the flora and fauna that surrounded me (the sculptures too - but in all honesty, that was the least intriguing in my opinion).

One thing I heard A LOT of was chirping. And some quacking. And perhaps a bit of cooing. I was clearly surrounded, on most every side sometimes, by birds.
But just because I could hear them didn't mean I could see them.
In fact, most of the time it was the exact opposite. Sure, my gaze caught the occasional bird on a branch, eating off the ground, or flying through the air. For the most part, however, those flying singers were hidden from my view.

And I tried to find them. I looked up into the trees, glancing from every possible direction. I stood for several minutes, trying to follow the sound to its location. But, nine times out of ten (and that's probably generous!), I saw nothing.
THESE I saw

But still, I knew they were there. I never assumed I was hearing things, or that the folks at the gardens had strategically placed speakers with recorded bird noises throughout the gardens, playing them to create the illusion of actual birds. They may have been out of sight, but they were still there.

God's like that sometimes too, isn't He? We don't often see Him with our two eyes, but we know He's there. We can hear Him - through His Word, His voice in our heads, sermons from His ministers. He acts in our lives whether we see (or acknowledge) Him or not.

So remember - even if you don't see Him, He's still around. The evidence is all around us - and it's not a recording.


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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Epiphany

An epiphany, according to Wikipedia, is an experience of sudden and striking realization. Generally the term is used to describe scientific breakthrough, religious or philosophical discoveries, but it can apply in any situation in which an enlightening realization allows a problem or situation to be understood from a new and deeper perspective.

In simple terms, you know that moment when the light bulb pops up over the head of a cartoon character? An epiphany.

It can come in the strangest of places and by the strangest methods. A week of unusual busyness had culminated into a hectic weekend with two football games to attend, one an hour's drive away and the other in the pouring rain.

Sunday started with a two-hour drive to a wedding shower. When I arrived, I plopped into a metal folding chair in the fellowship hall of a large church. To say I was tired could be the understatement of the year.

Tired of driving? Yes. Tired of rushing? Of course.

But the biggest source of my exhaustion was fear. You see, seven years ago I had my gall bladder taken out. And my body hasn't been happy with the decision since, mainly my digestive system. I've changed my diet, been allergy food tested, lost weight, and taken a slew of prescription meds, vitamins, and homeopathic remedies. A year ago, I finally found a combination of meds, vitamins, and fiber that has brought my body to a state of relative calm.

But my mind doesn't believe me. Every time I open the car door to drive somewhere, if it's over twenty miles, panic attacks me. What if you get sick again? The voice screams in my ear. What if? What if?

As I sat in the metal chair, I was tired of fighting. I'd traveled the whole week without having a sick spell, but struggled with worry too often. I looked up on the opposite wall, noting a wall banner. It displayed the head of a lion and one of my favorite Bible verses, Joshua 1:9. As I read it, I had an epiphany.

'Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.'

Did you see it? God said, no commanded me to not fear or be discouraged. But that's so hard. How? Read the last part of the verse. God will be with me wherever I go. To the ball game. To the grocery store. To the wedding shower. Every day and every step of the way.

This is a promise, something concrete I can hold onto. When my stomach hurts. When the hours and drive are long. When I worry.

I don't have to fear.

I don't have to be discouraged.

I have a promise.

He will be with me.

And its enough...


www.jenniferhallmark.com













Thursday, September 18, 2014

I HEART FACEBOOK

          Love it, or not, Facebook is here to stay. The discussion of privacy issues, unwelcome changes in its formats, settings, etc., roll on --- probably without ever being satisfactorily resolved.
          I have to confess: I love Facebook.
          It's always there with shared "wisdom" and inspiration. Disagreeing with any given post is easily resolved with the Delete button.
          The posts are a snapshot in time, whether of a serious or humorous nature. I'm watching my grandsons grow before my very eyes, enjoying day-to-day contact with out-of-state, even across-town, relatives and friends. The "clap-on, clap-off" nature of the technology allows me to move through my day with quick reprieves from Quick Books and shuffling papers in our home office.
     
           The thing I love most about Facebook is having prayer warriors standing by, ready to unite in one voice for needs that can only be addressed by our Heavenly Father. It's not just seeing their names and feeling their presence, although there is great comfort and support in that. It's the voices in unison petitioning God with the needs of a loved one.
          Labor Day weekend, our niece Edi's husband was seriously injured in a mowing accident. Only Heaven will have the final numbers of those who, through Facebook and phone calls/texts, spoke his name throughout 3 surgeries and the life-changing event that has already strengthened their faith and is speaking to others in their sphere of influence. More than one doctor has commented on how Brian is doing much better than expected at this point after his surgeries.  Opportunities to share are not being wasted on this amazing Christian couple.

"The effectual fervent prayer of a 
righteous man availeth much." 
James 5:16b, KJV
 
          Prayer chains have been around forever. Those who live outside of cyber space, whether by choice or lack of opportunity, still have the ability to be included as needs arise. But the warp speed of the internet is a powerful thing when in a crisis situation. Unspoken requests are also shared and the prayer warriors mobilized without having to know the intimate details. God already knows and our prayers are still honored with His loving response.
          Of course, Facebook is also an avenue for that roaring lion seeking to devour everyone in his path. But what the enemy intends for evil, God can use for His glory. And I am so thankful to be in God's camp, using His universe and my keyboard to call upon and exalt His name.
          And I must always be mindful to run to Him before running to Facebook.

"Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. 
Is any merry? Let him sing psalms." 
James 5:13. KJV 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Gideon? Really?

Whenever I've read the Old Testament, I'd find myself battling frustration and wanting to bang my fist on the counter. "What is wrong with you? How many times does God have to show you that His intentions are for your good, not harm?" And inevitably, I get through that episode and thank God we've finally learned ...

Or have we?

A week ago I caught myself comparing me to Gideon. Gideon. The man God called "mighty man of valor" (Judges 6: 12) who questioned God's leading in his life; who doubted his strength -- and imagine the questions that must have swirled when God cut Gideon's army from 32,000 to 300.

I have lost count of the times I've asked Him to confirm His direction on my life. In fact, it was only a couple weeks ago that I was telling a friend, I'm probably goofy for thinking this way, because I ask Him continually to show me … like Gideon. I find myself thinking, “If I'm still to write (no matter how much or little while in school) I'll know it for sure if I get to go to this (Writers’ Conference).”

I must say, as I typed those words, the call came from the conference coordinators to inform me that I’d been awarded a full scholarship.

And yet, I doubt. I wonder. I see others zooming past me in this path. And I question. “God, have I missed something? Was I presumptuous? Should I step off the path and let those who can run faster through?” It’s a move out of the way or get run over, right?

Wrong. At least it shouldn’t be. Not in the Kingdom of God. We’ve been given a specific set of talents and a vision. No one path will look exactly like another. Like a thumbprint, we are all unique in our callings, although we may carry many similarities. So it’s important to back away from the temptation to compare.

But when we do, we can rest assured that God doesn’t tire of us questioning him. David learned this, and thanks to him we can see that even the man “after God’s own heart” must have suffered doubt.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For he knows our frame; He remembers we are dust. ~Psalm 103: 11-14



Friday, September 12, 2014

Overcome

This will be a shorter than usual post, because sometimes even writers are at a loss for words.

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In the mid-August week in which I’m writing this, my heart is very heavy with living in this broken, broken world. Here in the United States, terrible storms are washing away homes in the western desert, and there is an even worse storm of hatred and distrust in the middle of the country, fomented in decades of racism and poverty. A state governor has been indicted, and two teenagers have been arrested for a plot to massacre as many people as they could in their school.

Overseas, there are hundreds of west Africans succumbing to a horrible virus, terrorists have gleefully beheaded a journalist, and rockets are exploding over Israel and Gaza. A passenger plane was shot down no long ago, in an eastern European war zone.

And in the body of the Church, it seems to me that there is more division than ever.

Sometimes I’m saddened almost to the point of immobility. All I can do, at those times, is to cling to this, which needs no elaboration from me:


"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

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