because the more things change the more they stay the same

>GOD IS IN THE CLOUDS

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I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth (Genesis 9:13 NIV).

“There it is!” I felt warm and tingly inside to see the other end of the rainbow.


We’d traveled for a few hours through the rain, miserable mist and sometimes torrents. When the mist lifted, I caught a glimpse of the rainbow’s start. It ascended high into the clouds then seemed to disappear. But where there is one side of the rainbow, there has to be another. I found myself focusing on the rainbow, tracing its outline, searching, until finally, there it was.


My joy would not have been as great, if I had given up looking for it, doubting it existed since I couldn’t see it.


I wonder if our faith is sometimes stretched like that rainbow. We pray through the storm, and see a start of God’s handiwork, a glimpse of His plan, a fruitful beginning to the work He gives us. Then, it seems like it all disappears behind the clouds. We can no longer feel God’s touch on our lives. Here is where Faith makes a difference, the substance of things unseen. Like the rainbow, we must remember: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV).


I wonder if sometimes I stop looking for God’s handiwork because of my lack of Faith. If God starts a rainbow, won’t He finish it?


Ponder me back.

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When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say (Luke 12:11-12).
I angst over a deadline for a column, and with no thought entering in my mind or heart, I worried I’d come up with a blank page. Then I prayed, when I should have prayed first.
Why do we fool ourselves into thinking God does not care about our creative instincts? If He created the world and all that is within, and if we are created in His image, then wouldn’t it stand to reason that we also have a well-spring of creative imaginings? When we pray first, we not only have our limited supply, but we tap into God’s unending resources.
 Do we believe He cares about our creative projects—even our contribution to a pot luck supper? I know He has rescued my poor baking skills more than once—that is if I ask Him to help before I mess things up by trying it on my own.
I think the application applies to all our endeavors, especially the words we say and the words we write. When the time comes, God will provide the words in the right place and with the right punch.
Have a family member or friend you want to talk to but afraid you’ll say the wrong thing? God will heap His wisdom into our thoughts, our tongues and our hands.
What do you think?
Ponder me back.

>Daddy I Felled

>Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).

The two-year old darted around the apartment like a butterfly in a flower garden, touching this and climbing that.

“Kaylee, get down. You’re going to get hurt,” the father repeatedly warned.

But Kaylee’s desire to explore her world proved insatiable. Every chair and stool proved to be a challenge waiting to be conquered.

“Kaylee, sit down now while I fix your soup,” the father said.

Kaylee scurried to her favorite chair. But while her father’s attention was turned away, she stood and rocked it, tumbling unto the floor with a loud bang. Her father rushed to her side.

Tears streamed her cheeks as she sobbed, “Daddy, I felled.”

Dad knew the fall was the child’s fault. In her stubbornness, she pursued the course of disobedience. But rather than chide, the father simply kissed her tears and said, “It’s alright, Kaylee. Daddy’s here now.”

From that moment on, Kaylee sat in her chair as a proper young lady should.

As I witnessed this father’s tender interaction, I thought of how many times I’ve tempted God with my disobedience, even though He has repeatedly warned me that I will fall if I’m not careful. How many times, have I run to Him with watered eyes, “Daddy, I felled.”

Yet, whenever I seek Him in my contrition, He picks me up, wipes away my tears, not condemning but loving, and reminds me He is always near.

What do you think?
Ponder me back

>I would hurry to my place of shelter,

far from the tempest and storm (Psalm 44:8 NIV).

The other day our area was hit with unusual storm patterns for the North County. I sat glued to the local news channel as it kept repeatedly warning people to get inside, go into their basements, or find shelter in the innermost room of their home. The conditions were ripe for a tornado.


For some parts of the country, threats of tornados may be a frequent occurrence. Although, Northern Adirondacks might have microbursts, localized wind funnels that create havoc for in a short swathe, tornados are relatively unheard of. Although my immediate area was spared the damage, homes within a mile or two of me were rattled and ravaged.

So what did I do? Stayed in my recliner, drank my coffee and watched the broadcast with amusement. ”It won’t happen here. Never has and never will.”

 
A friend told how she immediately got up, filled some jugs of water, plugged in a temporary phone line, and protected herself in case she lost power. I thought how foolish I had been to just sit and do nothing. Fortunately, no harm done, but what about the next time? Should I rest easy simply because I escaped the full impact of the storm?

 
I think how sometimes as a believer I tend toward armchair spirituality. I hear the warnings, yet I remain fixated on my current comfort, unwilling to get up and prepare, read my Bible for advice or most importantly, pray for a wall of protection against the enemy’s buffeting winds.

And so today, I am asking the Spirit to push me out of my laziness, pull me up with His hand, and shove me toward action, not wait for the reality of the storm but to respond at the first warning.

How about you? Ponder me back.

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1 Kings 19:3- 18



“I have had enough Lord,” he said. “Take my life. I am no better than my ancestors”…All at once an angel touched him…”

I had one of those days. They don’t happen often, but they do happen. People who suffer from migraines know that episodes are often preceded by what is termed an aura. Sometimes, I see flashing lights. Sometimes, I get depressed. Sometimes, most of the time, the episode is preceded by fogginess. Thankfully that’s the less oppressive aura and the easier for my family and friends to deal with.

But sometimes, I have severe agitation. Things that normally don’t bother me crash in on me. It’s a woe-is- me-my-life-sucks pity party on a grand scale. Think PMS on steroids. A rare aura, indeed, but traumatic just the same.

Mental health professionals teach a method of calming for children who experience meltdowns, or episodic agitation. The technique includes pulling the child into a secure hold called a wrap-a-round, a blanket of secure acceptance. Sometimes singing helps. Other times, encouraging the child to breath deeply or mediate will bring a calming affect.

Once calm, the child can go on with his day, refreshed and reassured.

At times when these meltdowns occur, I seek God’s face. He never fails to wrap me in His love. Reminding me I’m not going insane. This is a physical episode that will pass. I look to Him to quiet my spirit.

Elijah had a spiritual meltdown. The Bible says he was downcast in spirit. God sustained him through his weakness. Then he picked him up and told him to get on his way (see above reference)
I think believers can have spiritual meltdowns as well. Those episodes when God seems distant and far away. When the complications of a world gone beserk fall down on our shoulders and bring us to the point of utter and complete frustration.
But we have a Father who will wrap us in His wisdom and love, if we ask. He will sing to us a new song of joy and hope. And when our spirits are refreshed, he sets us up and says, “You’re okay now Get on with your life.”

Ponder me back.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

Why do we strive for holiness as something we can achieve for ourselves? “I’m trying to be a good Christian,” I hear over and over again. We chisel our days to incorporate all the good spiritual habits that ought to bring us closer to God. We schedule our “hour with God” as if our time with Him was for His benefit. We live for God rather than live with God. I wonder if much of our spiritual effort is for our benefit, rather than God’s, that human need to be cognizant of all we sacrifice. Most often, I believe, that kind of sacrifice is not God ordered. We think we must shout our love in blood and tears in order for God to hear us. We carefully slice our finances to make certain God receives His tenth.

These spiritual habits, according to Oswald Chambers, are dangerous, for they come from our pride rather than a natural extension and evidence of God’s indwelling. I wonder if the operative word is “effort.” When we put forth effort, perhaps our motivation is to impress God, rather than respond to God. By effort, we become the doer rather than God.

Maybe holiness is something that is bred within us, an instinct that is generated by God alone rather than our spiritual habits. We do not study breathing in order to breathe. We simply breathe. If God has made us new creatures, as the Bible says, then He will do the work of changing us. As He is the seed, He is also the caretaker of the seed He has planted. He will cultivate, and He will harvest.

I wonder if by working at goodness, we pull against the easy yoke God has placed upon us.

Does that mean we should not read God’s word or pray or study? Does that mean we should not feed the hungry, give offerings to His storehouse?

Of course not.

Perhaps it means that our seeking after the things of God falls hort if we do so to achieve Grace. Rather these things are a response to the Grace we have already received.

What do you think? Ponder me back.

>Joy in the Labor

>“Beware of any work for God which enables you to evade concentration on Him.”

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest.

The father asked his two young sons to rake the backyard. “I’d like it done before I come home from work.” He handed each of them a five-dollar bill in advance.

“Okay, Dad,” they both said.

“Good,” the father said. Then he left the house.

The oldest boy fondled his money. “If we get it done this morning, we can go the Arcade this afternoon.”

The youngest flipped the curtain aside. “If we’re finished early, we could trim the hedges. Didn’t you notice how tired Dad seemed this morning?”

While each will complete the task, which do you think will find joy in the labor?

My guess is the boy who had his Dad in mind.

Most Christians feel they work for God’s pleasure. Unfortunately, some misplace where the reward is found. Some believe satisfaction comes after the work. Some look to being chosen as the source of their joy. Some believe the reward is in a job well done. While these worldly philosophies are admirable, will these motivations bring us true joy in the Lord?

God does not call us to labor for the labor itself. He does not pleasure in our slavery, but in our companionship. The work is pleasurable because God is beside us.

Where has our joy gone? Perhaps in our zeal to work for God, we have shut him out of the partnership. The work itself becomes our idol for it has replaced God’s prominence in our lives. Our labors take precedence over the One who called us to them.

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” 1 Corinthians 3:9 NIV.

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