Monday, February 23, 2009

Undeserved Favor

Last week I blogged from the boat with lessons learned on the cruise. Well I must tell you our trip home was quite an adventure. Flights delayed, planes taken out of commission, waiting in the airport all were a part of the journey, but then there was a bright spot. The man at the American Airlines ticket counter in Ft. Lauderdale graciously worked with us to get us on a flight home. He set us up on a plane leaving from Miami airport, gave us a voucher for our cab ---- then------on top of it all----he gave us first class tickets since there were no more seats available in coach!

We didn’t do anything to deserve it, yet we were the recipients of kind favor from the airlines. As I sat in my roomy seat while the attendants brought me a heated towel, warm roasted nuts and a delicious meal, I couldn’t help but overflow with gratitude. I kept thinking to myself, I’m so thankful for that attendant at the American Airlines counter! I wish I could tell him we truly appreciate his help in making our trip home surprisingly wonderful.

Now Curt and I were recipients of a simple favor from the airlines, but as Christians we are recipients of the grandest of all graces --- God’s grace. Our loving Father has so lovingly poured out his favor upon us through his son Jesus. Do I relish that grace? Do I live with constant gratitude for what He has done? I ought to and I want to, but I must admit often I get so busy about life, that I ignore the greatest favor ever bestowed upon mankind; forgiveness of sins and a right relationship with God through His son Jesus.

Oh Lord, help me today to live in a continual state of gratitude for your kind favor in allowing me to be a partaker of your divine grace and allowing me the privilege to be called one of your children. Let's take some time today to stop and pray with our kids, thanking God for bestowing His gracious favor upon us.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Blog from the Boat

It’s Thursday and I’m just now able to post my blog. Why, you may be wondering. Well (I know you are going to feel sorry for me now) we have been floating in a boat in the Caribbean. Yes, Curt and I were blessed to be able to go on a cruise in the middle of February with the company he represents. It is a lovely excursion, and we have visited several beautiful ports of call. I won’t go into all the details as I don’t want to embitter those of you living in the northern and very cold parts of he US right now.

All I will say is that I am amazed at the beauty and vastness of the open sea, and I am in awe of God’s great creation. In these last few days I have often reflected on Psalm 36:5 - 9,
Your love O Lord, reaches to the Heavens;
Your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains;
Your justice like the great deep.
O Lord you preserve both man and beast;
How priceless is your unfailing love.
Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They feast from the abundance of your house.
You give them drink from Your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life.
In your light, we see light.

Take some time to read this passage aloud and ponder God’s great love for you. Read it to your kids to help them begin to understand the vastness of God’s love and the beautiful provisions He gives us. The phrase which came to life for me as I snorkeled at Grand Cayman Island (oh yeah I wasn’t going to mention the amazing ports of call – sorry) is the passage which states that God’s justice is like the great deep. As I poked my goggles into the water and viewed the vast amount of life under the ocean’s surface, I realized that in the similar fashion, God is working out justice in ways I can’t see.

Although I may be hurt by someone else’s unkindness, gossip or hurtfulness, I can hold on to the fact that vengeance is God’s. It is not my job to hold an offence over someone or try to get them back. That’s God’s job and His justice is working in ways I can’t even imagine. Just like the incredible ocean-life thriving under the surface at all times, so we can trust God’s justice to be playing out in just the way He knows is best. Psalms 34 reminds us, “Evil will slay the wicked. The foes of the righteous will be condemned. The Lord redeems His servants. No one will be condemned who puts their trust in Him.”

My friend, are you willing to trust God’s justice? His justice is like the great deep – He is at work in ways we can not see or even imagine. Trust His love and believe in the justice only He can work out. Rest in it and allow the truth of His wisdom and justice to buoy you up today.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Good Listener

How well do you listen? I’m not just talking about listening to people; I’m talking about listening to God. What is He trying to tell you? Often I’m guilty of rushing into my day filled with busyness and the agenda I must accomplish that I don’t take the time to listen to God. Oh don’t get me wrong, I have a quiet time alone with God, but often it consists of reading God’s word and praying and then jumping into my day. I am now recognizing my own need to listen, and be more intentional about it.

Here’s a thought from Henri Nouwen,
“For me personally, prayer becomes more and more a way to listen to the blessing…Often you will feel that nothing happens in your prayer. You say: ‘I am just sitting there and getting distracted.’ But if you develop the discipline of spending one half-hour a day listening to the voice of love, you will gradually discover that something is happening of which you were not even conscious. It might be only in retrospect that you discover the voice that blesses you. You thought that what happened during your time of listening was nothing more than a lot of confusion, but then you discover yourself looking forward to your quiet time and missing it when you can’t have it. The movement of God’s Spirit is very gentle, very soft – and hidden. It does not seek attention. But that movement is also very persistent, strong and deep. It changes our hearts radically.”

As moms, we may not be able to spend a half-hour every day just quietly listening, but we can spend a little time – even a few minutes- being still and listening to His voice. What am I listening for? His direction, His guidance, His reassurance, His conviction, His comfort. As we teach our kids to be good listeners at school and in social situations, let’s also teach them to be good listeners to God taking time to be quiet and still in order to know Him.

Proverbs 8:33 – 34 tells us, “Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not ignore it. Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Life Lesson Learned from the Super Bowl

Did you watch the big game last night? For me personally, the football is interesting, but I always look forward to the commercials. I love to see what the creative marketers have come up with each year to not only entertain us, but of course to sell us something too. This year as I watched the game (yes I really did watch it), I appreciated the opportunity the coaches had to challenge a call. It worked in the Cardinal’s favor twice as the officials reviewed the plays and made a new determination. The officials call it like they see it, but they reserve the right to be challenged. I like that.

Life comes at us fast and sometimes we don’t always make the right call. Think about it, the highly trained officials at the Super Bowl, (the best of the best) recognize they can’t call every play perfectly until they have seen a variety of angles and viewpoints. Perhaps we can take a cue from this life lesson played out at the Super Bowl. There are times we need to humbly recognize that we need to look at a situation from several points of view instead of simply our own vantage point. Certainly there are cut and dry, right versus wrong decisions we make. I’m not talking about those. I talking about those times when we make a rash decision that can effect others, and we are only willing to see it from our own viewpoint.

Situations like:
A standoff argument with our spouse.
Telling our teenager No.
Making an assumption about a neighbor or friend or family member.
Blaming or getting angry at a co-worker.

So how can we do things differently? Three things come to mind.
1. Look. Try to look at situations with a broader perspective. Don’t just look at life from your own vantage point. Consider the circumstances from several possible angles.
2. Listen. Hear other people’s story before you make a quick decision or judgment. Recognize that you do not know it all. Really I know you think you do in this situation, but honestly you don’t.
3. Re-think. Be willing to apologize or humbly rethink a decision if you make one too rashly. Allow the people in your life to make a gentle petition for their case if necessary.

Ephesians 4:2 – 2 reminds us, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Let's teach our kids this humble principle as well.