For Just a Season

This week we officially enter the season of summer, and the temperatures in many parts of the US are supporting that transition.  As I was thinking about the summer season, I was reminded of the Ecclesiastes passage that talks about there being a time for every season and every thing in our lives.  It’s a reminder that everything has it’s time in our lives, that sometimes we have to be patient, and that there’s a right (and wrong) time for everything.

But as I thought about it some more I was reminded that a season is exactly that: a season. It’s not our entire lives or the only thing in our lives, it’s a part of it.  Summer for us lasts 3 or so months and then there’s a new season.  The dictionary even describes a season as “a period or time….especially a short time.”

So what if for this summer season you take it as a season for your life? A season to be proactive about making positive comments on social media, or a season to eat healthy for at least one meal a day, or a season to fight as little as possible with your kids, or a season to learn about yourself, or a season to explore the great country that we share.

That means that from the summer solstice (June 21) to the autumn equinox (September 22) you take the time to focus on doing something good for yourself or the world, doing something you’ve been meaning to do, or consistently doing something that you’ve been inconsistent with.  It’s a chance to try something new, to get to know yourself better, to grow, and to do what needs to be done in your life.

What will this summer season be for you?

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Taking Time to Listen

Given the events of the last week as well as the big meeting between two world powers happening somewhere half way around the world, today I thought we’d take a look at the words of Proverbs 8:33: “Listen to my instruction and be wise. Don’t ignore it.”

My heart hurts whenever someone chooses to end their life before God has determined it’s their time. The world lost two public figures last week to suicide, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade. While we may never know what truly caused them to make that decision, many who choose suicide do so because they don’t have hope, don’t believe life could get better, don’t feel heard or have been so beaten down they can’t take it anymore. Statistics show that on average over 100 people choose suicide each day, which is a really scary number, and means there are thousands of hurting families out there.

The Bible teaches us that we should love our neighbors, that we should be giving and support each other, that we should look out for women and children, to trust that the God who knows the petals on a flower and all the creatures of the sea could look out for the little details of our lives, and that God has a plan for good for our lives. But these are not assurances that everyone knows because not everyone knows the Bible.

These aren’t just spiritual messages, they’re life messages. Anyone can love, listen and be compassionate, regardless of race, sex, age, location, or language. Are you taking the time to listen to the people in your life? To the ways they’re trying to help you and things they’re trying to tell you? I encourage you to choose love and compassion this week, to stop and listen when people speak, to make time to listen to what God is trying to tell you, and make time for those who are most important to you.

From Stumble To Standing Strong

This month one of the topics we’re going to talk about is the topic of strength. Everyone faces challenges in their lives, that’s not something we escape just because we believe in Jesus. But not only do we have a community of believers around us, we’ve got the Bible to encourage us along, and Jesus who will be there when we need some support or a guiding hand.

God never asked us to live a perfect life. He asks us to live with love, compassion, peace, patience, kindness and in a way that honors Him. Perfection isn’t found in the Armor of God, the Fruit of the Spirit or the 10 Commandments. It’s not something David, Solomon, Paul or Martha achieved. They struggled, they stumbled, they lived life with many of the challenges we face.

The question is not if you’ll struggle but when. But after the struggle, stumble or failure, what comes next? Will you choose to get up and make things right? Persevere on? Make better choices next time? You do have responsibility for your life, but the gift that God gives us is that none of us have to go through life or our challenges alone, He’ll support us every step of the way if we let Him. Could you use some support from God in your life? If so know it’s never too soon or too late to ask for His help.

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” Psalm 37:24

Starting with Trust

This week God has put the subject of trust on my heart. How does the dictionary define trust? It says that trust is hope, placing confidence in someone or something, to rely on, faith, assurance, a feeling of security, dependence, a belief that a person or thing will not fail, a responsibility. Wow, trust is a huge deal!

What does the Bible have to say about trust? Psalm 28:7 says to trust God with all our hearts. Psalm 63 relates that because we know we can trust God we will and should praise him. Psalm 91 says that God protects those who trust him. Isaiah 40 says that God strengthens those who trust him. Jesus said in John 12 that those who trust in him will live in the light and no longer in darkness. Romans 15 speaks of joy and peace in someone because of trust that is placed in God.

Trust means believing God has the best plans possible in store for you in the future. Trust means understanding that there are other people in your life so you can share things with them, converse through difficult situations or times, and rely on them. Trust is Daniel believing God would bring him safely through a night in the lion’s den, but more importantly understanding how important it is to pray regardless of what others may say, trusting God will protect.

I want to finish today with some lyrics from a song “You Never Let Go” by Matt Redman. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Your perfect love is casting out fear. And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life. I won’t turn back. I know you are near. And I will fear no evil. For my God is with me. And if my God is with me. Whom then shall I fear? Whom then shall I fear?”

I pray this week you will put your trust in God, I promise you He will never fail you or let you down.

Trust and Hope for the Next Generation

One of my favorite things to do is watch dogs and puppies. I love to watch all animals, but especially dogs and puppies. OF course in this internet age there are tons of videos on YouTube and lots of social accounts for animals (including an adorable husky my brother shared with me the other day). I also love watching and supporting the organizations that have great missions like those who raise assistance dogs or work on conservation of species. As I was watching the puppies on one of my favorite sites, Explore, they posted news that a baby osprey had hatched so I popped over to check out the new little one. As I was watching I was reminded of the uncertainty of life and the hope that we all live with.

Bird parents sit on their eggs for however long and hope they hatch and then hope the babies don’t get eaten as they grow. The same is true for dogs, they are pregnant for however long hoping that all the babies are born healthy, hope they grow up with no health challenges and live a long life. Humans are the same, that we’re pregnant and hope the babies are born healthy, and then hope they grow up to be amazing men and women who make a difference in the world.

But the simple fact is we don’t know. We don’t know that they’ll live and be healthy and thrive.  Sometimes they don’t.  But we have to rely on God and trust that God has the best plan for those animals and those babies. The Bible shares in Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?” God has a plan for each of our lives, we may not know the full amount of that plan, but we do know that it’s a good plan, a plan that includes a future.

So if you’re going through a period of uncertainty, I encourage you to remember the birds and the animals. If they can trust God to provide not only for them but provide and protect the next generation, shouldn’t we do the same. Trust that God has a plan for your life, and that He will be with you through whatever you’re going through now.

Building Relationships with Respect

With yesterday being Mother’s Day here in the US, I’ve been reflecting on families and relationships. Every day in the news there are stories of relationships gone wrong, of people letting others down, of people hurting other people and ways that people are destroying our world. But at the same time you can’t ignore the fact that some of those people are bad people. They’re not people you want in your life or around your kids, and they can’t be “fixed” unless there’s an Act of God. But fortunately, there aren’t as many of those people as the news makes it out to be. Most of us just have issues, quirks and traits that may or may not mesh with the people around us.

I do believe that we can learn to get along with just about everyone, whether it’s having a civil conversation or actually developing a friendship with them. But that does take a lot of work, typically from both parties. For some reason some people choose to hold grudges or make snap judgments about some people, and aren’t open in the future to changing those opinions, despite how they or the other person may have changed over the years. And no matter how kind or polite you may be to them, they’re just nasty. I’m not suggesting that you need to be best friends with everyone, but I don’t think we need to have the poor interactions and relationships many people have.

Does it take superhuman effort in some cases to get to that point? Yes, but that’s part of what God can help you with. Yes, the Bible talks about loving everyone, but for some of us loving is a big stretch. So let’s start with two things that are a lot simpler: treating others as you want to be treated and respecting others. God made them just like He made you and I, and I haven’t known God to make anything that was wrong or without purpose. So if for no other reason, choose to respect and treat them based on how you want to be treated, because God loves them. Not all moms are perfect examples, but many moms can run circles around us when it comes to loving and accepting their kids in a way that we struggle to accept and understand others.

This week I encourage you to think about your attitude and how you treat and interact with others, and spend time in prayer with God asking for His strength and guidance in how you can build more relationships and have more interactions that will honor Him.

“Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.” 1 Peter 2:17

Praying for Unity

Thursday in the US is National Day of Prayer. It’s an opportunity to come together as a nation and pray for some of the many needs in the country, and especially for our leadership. This year the committee is going with a theme of praying for unity, and the verse they’ve chosen is Ephesians 4:3:

“Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

The great thing about prayer is that it doesn’t take sides, it doesn’t matter if you’re old or young, a man or a woman, a morning person or a night person, how you like your coffee or if you like coffee, if you have a green thumb, if you prefer dogs or cats, or if you’re good with numbers. Prayer is something everyone and anyone can do. It’s also something that doesn’t have to take a long time to do or be something you have to do with others, although it’s good to pray with others.

So in a way just participating in National Day of Prayer is a way to unify many people around the US. Last week there was also some big news relating to the topic of peace and unity, North and South Korea stated that they were going to put aside their differences and try to work together for a better future.

Unity and peace both begin with a step. They not usually things that happen in one day, they are built over many days and weeks with work, communication, time and effort. Trust has to be established and it has to be shown that everyone is going to keep up their end of the partnership before unity and peace become a regular and expected thing.

So today what step will you take for peace and unity? That step can be as simple as prayer, or as big a step as you want to take.