Where IS that Hundred Acre Wood?

Just when I think I’m pretty clever about reading caution signs and carefully walking the path in front of me—Bam! Blindsided. Bewildered. Awake at night. Tears.

After watching Christopher Robin last night, I really want to climb through a hole in a tree trunk and find a 100-acre wood and talk with Pooh. Astutely he warns us, “Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the forest that was left out by mistake.” It’s that piece of life that feels left out by mistake (or should be left out) that throws us.

MapI’m sorry. All this morose Eyeore-like blather comes from focusing on earth—on wishing for an imaginary hole through which to escape and discover a fantasy forest where bears hold your hand, piglets do your worrying, and donkeys mirror your glum attitude. It’s silly and nonsensical until you stop to consider…

Actually, I do have a mysterious path to embark on. It’s not imaginary and it leads to a 100 billion, trillion, quadrillion acre land of peace and joy and beauty. I will enter that path, possibly sooner than I expect, and find wonders beyond what I imagine. The heartache and disappointment I grapple with will pale, replaced by glorious wonder.

Until that day, fellow travelers and Hundred Acre Wood wishers, in Pooh’s words, “Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” If a bear with little brain can say this, how much greater is the bravery, strength, and intelligence available to those of us who walk with the King of Glory, possess His Spirit, and own His promises?

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8 NIV)

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” (1 Cor. 10:13 MSG)

“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.” (Isa. 41:10 NIV)

 

 

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The Best Known Prayer

The Lords prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is familiar even to those who don’t know “our Father in heaven.” For many, it is a prayer to recite during a religious service, funeral, or moment of piety. But Jesus did not give us this prayer as a formal recitation.

The prayer can be viewed it as a menu of topics about which to pray, but it’s  more than that. It’s a pattern.

Jesus gave us a pattern for personal conversation with God and provides us with an outline for each concern we bring to Him. When I apply it, every aspect of the need I’m presenting is covered, even those I hadn’t considered.

As we talk about the parts of the Lord’s Prayer in upcoming posts, I invite you to choose one personal prayer concern and apply Jesus’ pattern to your specific request. I believe you will experience sweet peace.

Our Father

Sometimes I get no further than simply saying, “Our Father.” When my heart is heavy with concern for a loved one, I utter those words and peace invades. It’s not an attempt to convince my Father to listen and intervene, but a confession of faith. He is our Father—mine and the one I am praying for. When I speak those words, I’m acknowledging that God cares more than I do because He is their Father and I’m releasing the one I love to the One who loves greater.

Suddenly the complications that bewildered me, come to rest. My heart stills because my Father, our Father, has it covered. Those two words remind me that He’s in the picture, He’s present, He’s omnipresent.

Our Father is everything we could want an earthly father to be and more. He loves perfectly, provides lavishly, listens patiently. He shows mercy, kindness and grace without reservation. He understands our weaknesses and knows what’s needed to strengthen us.

His Father’s heart responds to me, His child, talking to Him about the needs of another beloved child.

Today, let the words “Our Father” bring peace to your heart as you speak them on behalf of your loved one, your troubling situation, your concerns.

Beneath the Snow

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This morning I made a decision. As I looked out at yet another snowfall blanketing the earth, I decided to look beyond what I saw. I did not conjecture about how many days it will take the snow to melt. I did not grumble that the calendar says spring and even my hoodie isn’t keeping me warm. I did not calculate how many snow (and sick) days this winter held. It’s not that those thoughts didn’t hover, I simply chose to replace them.

  • The sun is shining and the pavement is already clear—a wonderful contrast to yesterday’s gray.
  • Sap is flowing through the bare trees—soon they will sprout green buds with the promise of leafy cover.
  • Beneath the snow crocuses and daffodils are pushing upward—their purple and yellow heads ready to break through and dot the earth with color.
  • The dormant grass appears dead, but it’s rousing and will again grow green and lush.
  • Though they now look like bushes of brown sticks, buds are forming and in weeks cascading azaleas will shower yellow flowers.
  • As spring stubbornly presses forward, sweaters, scarves and socks will be traded for shorts, shirts and sandals.
  • Gentle rains and warm breezes will assuredly replace driving snow and frigid gusts.

My choice of thoughts paid off. I feel refreshed, happy. Sweetness replaced my sour mood. Anticipation traded places with lethargy. I highly recommend thought-replacement therapy!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Prov. 17:22)

Lord, I always have a choice. When my hopes and dreams are buried beneath blankets of disappointment, remind me that your purposes prevail. Seasons are temporary but you are undaunted. Though I may not see it, you are active beneath the snow.

The Lord is my SHEPHERD…

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As a shepherd who is infinitely good, boundless in love, and unlimited in mercy, the Lord supplies my needs.

My Shepherd gives me rest in green pastures and refreshes my soul beside quiet waters. He guides, protects and comforts me.

He provides for me when enemies threaten. His anointing is upon me, setting me apart for His love and service.

My Shepherd’s goodness and love follow me around—every day. I look behind me and there they are, goodness and love!

I will live in His house forever, enjoying unhindered companionship, unrestrained joy and limitless love.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.” I lack nothing as I walk this earth and will be fully satisfied when I forever walk beside Him in Heaven. Oh, He is a very good Shepherd!

*Image compliments of saltandlighttv.org

The Lord is MY Shepherd…

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The Lord shepherds a large flock—sheep gathered from every tribe, nation and tongue. Yet, each one is uniquely important and loved by Him. I cherish the fact that He is not only the Good Shepherd, but the Lord is my shepherd. He leaves ninety-nine sheep to find me, to rescue me, to bind up my wounds, and love on me. This is personal.

  • The Lord chose me before He created the world and then He formed me according to His plan and pattern, creating a masterpiece.
  • He recorded every day of my life in His book and prepared good things for me to do, equipping me with the desire and ability to succeed.
  • Then He made the ultimate sacrifice and laid down His life for me so I can be eternally His.

Lord, you are my Shepherd. Please help me to have lamb-like trust, to not wander, to not argue, and to gladly, thankfully walk beside you.

*image compliments of twitter.com/mydentist_uk

Go and Leave – They’re not Always Synonyms

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I was on an unmarked journey, going new places, anticipating new experiences. But somehow there was a disconnect. Thoughts of the past frequently visited my mind and abandoned dreams jumped to the forefront at the strangest times. Though uninvited, memories made me wonder if former dreams still had validity.

I just kind of lived with this perplexity, rather than deal with it, until I had breakfast with a friend. Somehow, talking unravels confusion for me. I don’t set out to clarify a subject, I just talk around it and – voila! – thoughts fall into place. That is what happened one Friday morning a few weeks ago. On the way home from the restaurant our conversation rolled around in my mind. Settling in my recliner, I turned to the next passage in my Bible reading, Genesis 12, but I never got past the first verse. Another Friend met me and this time He did all the talking.

The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and

your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”

Leave… Go… I will show. In that revelatory moment I realized that I did go, but I didn’t leave. Unwittingly, I was still holding on. The go part wasn’t optional, but the leave part? That needed to be dealt with decisively if I was to live in the land God chose for me.

Now, I say to my thoughts, “Sorry, I’m leaving.” Walking away from the past empowers me to take my place in a new land. Jesus’ words in John 8:32 are true – the truth does set us free.

I’m sharing this for one reason: I know I’m not the only one who has gone without leaving. What do you have to leave? A relationship? Position? Dream? Church? Job? There is a land God will show you – just leave.

What’s the Good Word?

Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

No more New Year’s resolutions for me. For the past few years, I’ve found that a single word is enough. Toward the end of December I begin my search for one word that will inspire, focus and challenge me in the new year. Several options vied for attention during my December search but none felt right until, as I prayed about it, my word for the year landed in that soft spot that says, “Yes, I think God’s in this!” I know you’re now at the edge of your seat with curiosity, but let me first say that I would not have chosen this word on my own.

I was thinking about persistence – or devoted – or proactive. Good words, right? They’re strong and motivating! At first glance my word isn’t all that exciting. Ready? My word for 2015 is complete. Are you as disappointed as I was? well, I’ve moved from disappointment to anticipation and here’s why.

I am tired of living in an incomplete state. If I never have one more good idea, it’s okay because I have enough brilliant thoughts sitting on a shelf in my mind to last the rest of my life. I’d like to explore some of them and bring a few to completion. Then there are the projects I’ve already started that are just that – started. It’s exciting to think of actually completing them. I don’t want to live any longer with a stale to-do list. It’s time to finish things off and start anew. (Anew… good word, maybe new will be my word for 2016.)

And then there’s the whole bit about completion in my spiritual life that I’d like to appreciate more fully.

  • This year I want to value my completeness in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10) and stop throwing good-works contingencies on my walk with God.
  • I want to savor the confidence that He who began a good work in me “will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Ah, what peace and joy that would bring! And speaking of joy…
  • I want to treasure the complete joy that comes from abiding in Christ (John 15:11; 16:24) and resist fleshly cries that insist something else is needful to bring me joy.
  • I want my faith to be made complete by action (James 2:22). No more glib words without action to substantiate them.
  • And, like Paul, I want to head for the end of the race, not with woulda, shoulda, coulda, but by completing the task of living as a testimony of God’s grace.

Complete. Pretty cool word, huh?

So what’s your good word? I’d love to hear what inspires you as you head into 2015!

I pray the new year will surprise you with many manifestations of God’s grace,

Barbara