Discovering Gems—Once More

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*Hope you enjoy this encore presentation from June 2008.

Last Friday while on an outing to a nearby town, my friend Teri and I discovered a gem. A beautiful and unique little shop nestled right in among the ordinary businesses on the ordinary streets of our very ordinary little corner of the world.

We wanted to go to lunch for a girlfriend catch-up session and decided to make a quick trip to Independence. We had heard about a quilt shop there that had recently been selected as one of the top ten quilt shops in the nation. In our neck of the woods? We needed to see this with our own eyes.

We were not disappointed. As we entered the shop, we seemed to step into another world. The high ceilings and rich-looking furnishings along with the beautiful and creatively displayed quilts and accessories created an ambiance of a luxurious and delightful retreat from the outside world. Everything we saw held a special touch. We were awestruck by the quality of goods and workmanship. And for those of you who know I don’t even own a sewing machine and am craft-challenged — yes, even I could spot the quality here :)

What fun to discover this gem of a shop in our own backyard. Teri was in her element, and me? I tried hard to fit in. When the salesladies were around, I just acted like I knew what I was looking at, and then when they walked away, I asked Teri one elementary question after another. Know what I discovered, though? You don’t have to understand all the facets and complexities of a gem to enjoy its beauty. I loved the shop.

As I think about us as individuals, I know a gem could be found in each one of us as well. Something beautiful and unique. Something quality. If others looked into your own very ordinary life, what gem would they discover? Would they find a master quilter, an artist, or a gourmet chef? Perhaps a talented athlete or musician? Or maybe like me, you’re just good with words. The possibilities are endless, aren’t they?

So take a closer look at yourself as well as others in your life. There’s beauty all around. Go ahead – have fun discovering gems!

“…its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel…” Revelation 21:11

*What gem have you or someone else discovered in your life?

*Flickr photo by Jewellery Monthly, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: A Winner Plus Lighthouse Thoughts

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We have a “Back At It” Giveaway winner! The lucky recipient of the Barnes & Noble gift card is Kay! Congratulations, Kay! I’ll get it in the mail to you as soon as you send me your mailing address. Enjoy your new book—or whatever you choose at good ole B&N. Remember, they usually have chocolate near the check-out :)

For the rest of us, I have a food-for-thought quote about lighthouses and how we might be a lighthouse for someone in need. I read this recently in Lisa Wingate’s The Prayer Box. The character Iola is speaking. Let’s listen and see if she’s speaking to us:

“What does a lighthouse do? . . . It never moves. It cannot hike up its rocky skirt and dash into the ocean to rescue the foundering ship. It cannot calm the waters or clear the shoals. It can only cast light into darkness. It can only point the way. Yet through one lighthouse you guide many ships. Show this old lighthouse the way.”

“The light of the righteous shines brightly . . .” Proverbs 13:9a

*How can we shine light for others?

*Flickr photo by kaddisudhi, Creative Commons License

Will: Little Word, Big Promise from God

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“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Psalm 46:10 is best known for its first half. Almost all of us who have been exposed to the Bible for very long can recite the phrase “Be still and know that I am God”—and well we should. It’s a powerful reminder of who God is, who we are, and where all power, provision, wisdom, justice, love, and everything else we’ll ever need lies. He is ever worthy of our worship and trust.

Today let’s look at the second half of the verse, though—and in particular, the little word will. Let’s look at the implication and power of this mighty little word.

With this one short word, God tells us that he will be exalted among the nations, that he will be exalted in the earth. No mights, no maybes, no ifs, ands, or buts. It’s going to happen. He will be exalted. He will be lifted high, glorified, and praised in our world. And where it’s not currently happening? It one day will.

The events that have unfolded in Iraq over the past few weeks have left us reeling as terrorists have persecuted and killed Christians and other innocents. Many may wonder where God is when these kinds of things take place, but we can rest assured that God has been and will continue to be exalted and glorified in the midst of these horrific events. He will be praised today by many, and will one day be victorious over every evil force in every corner of the world. He will indeed be exalted throughout the earth.

Let’s not think of the world stage only, though—let’s bring it home. What about our own lives? Are we exalting him in personal worship? Are we exalting him in our churches? Are we glorifying him in our marriages, our parenting, our friendships, our work, our play? Do others glorify and praise God because of us?

Let’s help fulfill the promise of the little word will. May God be able to say that he has been and will continue to be exalted through us and our lives. May we ever be found praising him!

“Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” Psalm 34:3

*How might we lift God high today and in the days to come?

*My photo

*Be sure to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway. See post for details. Deadline to enter is 6 p.m. (CST) this Wednesday.

Midweek Morsel: God’s Throne of Grace

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I have a tendency to approach God at times like He is a disapproving parent or some other harsh authority figure—a boss or a teacher, etc. I forget how much he loves me. I feel like he’s thinking instead of all my faults.

As a result, instead of running into his open arms with the abandon of a dearly loved child as I pray, I enter his presence with eyes downcast, weighed down by a load of guilt and feelings of failure.

But when that happens, I have it all wrong. This is how scripture tells us we can approach God:

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

What will we find at God’s throne? Grace, mercy, help. God wants us to approach him with confidence so he can freely give us his unconditional love. So let’s lift up our heads and eagerly run to the One who loves us like no other.

*How can we remind ourselves of God’s great love, mercy, and grace?

*Flickr photo by adwriter, Creative Commons License

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Be sure to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway. See post for details!

Wisdom from the Word When You’re Under Attack

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“An attacker advances against you, Ninevah. Guard the fortress, watch the road, brace yourselves, marshal your strength!” Nahum 2:1

In this imperfect world we live in, attacks on us and our loved ones will come. The attack might be physical, verbal, emotional, spiritual, or legal. We may have experienced a similar attack before or this type of assault may be completely foreign to us. We may have warning or it may hit us before we have time to blink.

One of my family members came under an unfair legal attack recently, and God used the above verse from Nahum to help me see that it’s okay to defend ourselves when we’re under attack.

Yes, God’s Word also tells of how Moses, when the Egyptians were hot on the heels of the Israelites, told the people, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14), but we also see from this passage in Nahum that sometimes it’s necessary to be proactive in defending ourselves. I think the key must be to seek God’s direction and listen for his leading.

So let’s look at the instructions this verse in Nahum gives for mounting a defense when we’re being attacked. Let’s think about how we might apply this plan of action to any situation we’re facing now. The points I list here are just a few applications. I’m sure you’ll think of others, too.

1) Guard the fortress. One person alone can’t guard a fortress adequately, can they? Sometimes we need to recruit help when we’re being attacked. This will look different for different situations.

2) Watch the road. We and our fellow guards need to be alert at all times and savvy to the tactics of the enemy. We need to watch for the attacker’s advance.

3) Brace yourselves. We need to prepare and strengthen ourselves for what may come so we’re not caught off guard. Again, this will look different in different situations, but it will involve educating ourselves or thinking through what’s needed to be prepared.

4) Marshal your strength. We need to gather our strength for the attack, whether that strength be physical, emotional, spiritual, or legal. For example, if the attack is spiritual, we’ll need extra time in the Word and in prayer as well prayer support from others. If it’s a legal attack, we’ll need advice and help from godly advisors, both legal and personal. We’ll need people to walk alongside us.

Isn’t God good to give us wisdom for the situations life throws at us? I pray this verse from Nahum will help any of you who may find yourselves in the midst of a present attack. And if you’re not currently under attack, why not keep this wisdom in mind for the future. It will be sure to help stabilize you when an assault comes your way.

“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.” Deuteronomy 31:8

*What other applications or wisdom can you draw from this verse in Nahum?

*Be sure to enter the “Back At It” Giveaway. See post for details!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

Flickr photo by PSParrot, Creative Commons License