The Lord IS my Shepherd..

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Not was, not will be, but is, right now, at this moment, in the present, the Lord is my Shepherd. He is always near, not catching up, not ahead of me, but with me.

Today marks thirteen years since Stacey left us to be with Him. Though time has moved on, deep loss remains, without compensation. The Lord shepherded me through the loss of our daughter, continues to do so today, and will be present every day of my future. On October 11, 2017, my Shepherd is comforting me, refreshing me, reminding me of my hope. As He is walking here beside me, Stacey is walking there beside Him.

Today, I will put a period after is—it is enough that “The Lord is.”

lighthouse*Image compliments of gmkfreelogos.com

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“You’re surrounded! Come out with your hands up.”

Hopalong_cassidyI’ve seen far too many Westerns. As a child, a picture of Hopalong Cassidy hung on my bedroom wall. What?! Who’s Hopalong Cassidy? He was called the Western knight. Dressed all in black with shiny silver six-shooters on his hips, he sat tall on a beautiful, white stallion.

Then there was the Lone Ranger and his wonder horse, Silver, who saved Lone_Rangerthe day on a weekly basis. Even as a child I wondered why no one could ever identify him. His black mask covered only his eyes and, yet, every show ended with him riding off after a heroic rescue, as onlookers wondered, “Who was that masked man?”

The neighborhood kids and I would play Roy Rogers and Dale Evans for hours, continuing the drama day after day. We formed posses, arrested bad guys and stopped bank robberies.

More Westerns followed: Gunsmoke, the Rifleman, Bonanza. Full length movies were even more exciting – pioneers fighting the elements and resisting rich land owners as they eked out a life in log homes, renegade outlaws shooting up the town or robbing the stage coach, wagon trains circling up under Indian attack and the thrilling sound of the Cavalry bugle coming to the rescue.

There was always a hero on a mighty steed who made sure good prevailed. John Wayne, or some other Western hero, would call out, “You’re surrounded! Come out with your hands up.”

All this reminiscing down the great Western trail started this morning when I read Psalm 3. The psalmist pinpointed what I was feeling when he said, “I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side” (v6). Surrounded – the enemy on every side with no cowboy hero on the horizon, just tens of thousands of threatening challenges.

But instead of coming out with his hands up in surrender, the psalmist raised them in prayer, and cried out, “Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God!” (v7)

As real as his enemies (trials) were, he placed his confidence in a greater reality (v8,3):

“From the Lord comes deliverance.”

“You are a shield around me, O Lord;

You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”

Standing between the psalmist and the menacing challenges, was the Lord, his Shield and Deliverer.

You may be dodging bullets, feel arrows whizzing past your head, or be getting low on ammo, but stop and listen! In the distance is the clear cry of a bugle.

White Horse Tim Paulson

Picture by Tim Paulson

The King of Calvary is bringing deliverance and it is the enemy, not you, who will be broken and surrender.

As for you, child of the King, the Almighty God will bestow His glory on you and lift your head. Wait and watch for the Lord’s salvation.

A Woman’s Self-Portrait, part 1

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She apologized… a lot. Myra was educated, professional, determined, and a woman of faith. Why did my friend apologize for everything from the weather to my personal problems? During the maturing of our friendship I learned the answer. As a child, her stepfather flew into rages over insignificant issues, like finding a bee in the house. He would beat his wife, yelling at Myra, “This is your fault! If you weren’t such a bad girl, I wouldn’t have to hit your mother.”

Myra’s many apologies make sense when we understand that we act in harmony with our mental self-portrait. Myra saw herself as an offender and took the blame for negative consequences. She needed an adjustment to her self-portrait.  This came when she believed the truth of God’s words rather than the lies of man’s words.

It is critically important to remember that long before our lives were marred by bad experiences and hurtful people, God saw us in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:16). He wrote every day of our lives in His book and His plans for us didn’t change when abuse or loss came our way. Rather than having our image reflect pain and problems, we can repaint our self-portrait to reflect redemption and healing. We can be free to serve God and others with joy and confidence.

What brushstrokes created your self-portrait? Are the colors flattering or harsh? Are you ready to paint over your portrait and change the picture you look at day after day from flawed to redeemed?

Come together with other women on October 11, 7:15 pm, at Cornerstone Christian Church in Wyckoff. Discover the beauty of God’s purposes for your life.

For more information, directions, or to register for an optional meal (served at 6:30), visit http://www.cornerstonenj.org/women and go to events.