Today’s Walk

The last day or two, as many of you know, I’ve felt a bit like I was climbing a steep mountain blind-folded or in a thick fog. I read a story yesterday about a blind horse and its friend who wore a bell. (Link below) The blind horse would follow the sound of the bell when it was time to move. He’d learned to trust his friend with the bell. I asked the Lord if He would send some “bells” each day to help me make my way through the dark fog. Yesterday, I heard that “bell” many times through emails from friends, God speaking me through His Word, and through thoughts that He gave to me.

https://truthbook.com/stories/animals/the-blind-horse

This afternoon, I again started out for a walk and asked the Lord for more “bells”. The first thing that happened was that I saw two coins on the ground and picked them up. Why is that such a big deal? Well, a couple of years ago, I read an article about a man who used a dropped coin to repeat to himself, “In God I trust” (because In God We Trust is imprinted on each coin). I liked the idea and have been doing it ever since. Seeing two coins today at a time that I’m struggling a bit seemed like both an invitation and a promise (two coins!) from God. “You can surely trust Me; will you?”

I walked a bit further and came to a curve in the sidewalk. As you can see, I could not see around the curve to know what was ahead. Immediately, the Lord spoke to me through this incident. He said that I may not be able to see the future, but I am to trust Him and walk by faith. He knows what’s around the curve, and He is in control. I was much encouraged again.

Then, I walked around the curve and found a patch of beautiful roses! I could hear the Lord saying to me once again, “You are going to make it through the fog, and there will be something beautiful there! Just keep walking; keep taking the next step, and I will guide you through.

I continued my walk and worshiped along with my praise music as I walked. Then, I saw a Chinese student, and the idea popped into my head to do one of the craziest things I’ve ever done, and you all know I’ve done some crazy ones! I hollered over to him in Chinese, “Where are you from? He responded, “Henan,” and we began visiting, first in Chinese, and then in English. We visited for an hour, and I was able to answer a few questions that he had including some about my own experience as a Christian. We exchanged names & phone numbers and I hope to be back in contact with him again.

So, God’s bells were ringing pretty loudly this afternoon!

For those praying for Dante and I, thank you for your prayers, and please keep them coming, especially over the next week. I believe his surgery will be Wednesday, the 20th, but I’m pretty much out of the loop for information right now, and that is the most difficult part for me, and why I feel so blind. But God knows exactly what is around the curve/what’s going on and what will go on. Pray for Dante as he goes through the surgery and the pain of recovery. Pray for me as I wait blindly and walk by faith (He will go to L.A. for the surgery and be gone 4 days.) Pray for me to be able to wait patiently to see him when he gets back. When he doesn’t feel well, he likes to be left alone. (I am trying to get in contact with him to see him tonight or tomorrow before he goes, but he’s a busy young man, and it’s hard for me to reach him. Especially now that he’s been having phone problems on top of his own stress.)

As I have written all of this up just now, it occurs to me that one day in the weeks ahead, I hope that the Lord will open up a door for me to share my struggles during this time and how God helped me. Pray Col. 4:3-4

To God Be the Glory!!

Come Let Us Worship

I know that I am not the only one to have had to make changes to the way that I do Sunday worship this year. Many or most of us have been forced to watch worship services live-streamed or recorded online. There have been some congregations that have been able to use technology to make the jump to worshiping together although the instrumentalists and congregants are spread out in various locations. In my opinion, these groups have been the fortunate and blessed ones!

However, over the past weeks and more recent days, I have been pondering how we worship God, and more specifically how we have approached the online services that we have watched on our televisions or computers from home. I know that early on, I was tempted to settle down on my sofa in my pajamas and with my afghan and a snack just as I would to watch a movie or a basketball game. I was tempted to approach the service as a spectator. God spoke to me about that, and I would like to share with you today what I was convicted of because I believe that I am not alone in this temptation. I have heard & read too many comments and seen pictures on Facebook to let me think otherwise.

First of all, I want to be clear and say that I am sure that we can worship God in our pajamas. The important thing is the attitude of your heart. However, I do believe that the way we dress can express the attitude of our hearts. Through the years, I have seen way too many people show much more respect to a bride and groom that they will meet than to God who they will meet.

When we come to worship, we need to keep in mind WHO we are worshipping. I suggest that you read Psalms 95 and 96. Both Psalms are filled with references to the greatness of our God. I will share just some of the verses here:

“For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. The depths of the earth are in his hand, and the mountain peaks are his. The sea is his; he made it. His hands formed the dry land.” (95:3-5)

“Come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (95:6)

“For the Lord is great and is highly praised; he is feared above all gods…the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him.”(96:4,6)

Do we really consider WHO we are worshipping as we enter the auditorium or, as in 2020-21) our living room? Do we come with hearts wanting and ready to worship? Psalm 29:2 and 1 Chronicles 16:29 say that we should, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.”

1 Chronicles 16:30 tells us to, “Let the whole earth tremble before him.” Just over a month ago I had an experience where I realized how greatly the Lord had used me that day. As the realization came to me of what the Lord had done, I fell to my knees in worship. I could not stand. I felt that day that I had had just a glimpse of the glory of God’s presence, and I was physically forced to my knees. Since that time, I have found myself often raising my hands in worship as I sing. I think this is because I have a deeper awareness of WHO is the God that I serve.

Well, it is just my hope that all of us wherever and however we worship tomorrow and the days that follow, that we will realize that we are coming before and into the presence of the Maker of heaven and earth, and the ONE who loves us so much that he gave his life and shed his blood that we might have eternal life. May our attitudes, actions, and dress express that awareness in every way!

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

The hardest climb & the best view

Image preview

This morning I saw this image on Instagram, and it spoke to me. I’ve shared with some close friends that it feels like I am climbing a very steep mountain right now. My 2020 was like everyone else’s, full of change, uncertainty, disappointment, and loneliness. In the past three to four weeks, it seems like there has been one piece of bad news after another. The climb is steep right now. But as I walked today, I was again reminded of the thoughts that I shared here on my blog yesterday, that while it may seem that the world is out of control, God is still 100% in control. He not only knows what is going on, He has known about it forever.

We are reminded in 2 Corinthians 4: 17: “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.”(CSB) This speaks of the rewards that we will receive when we someday see Jesus face to face. Our greatest reward will be to see His face, and then for me, the second greatest reward will be to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

So, there is that eternal perspective and reward, but I also think that we will see rewards here in this life for our climb/labor. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not get tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we don’t give up.” (CSB) If we are about the Lord’s business, then there will come a day that we will reap a harvest. We will reach the top of the mountain and the view will be glorious! The Bible is full of verses telling us of God’s faithfulness, love, and compassion. And if He loved us enough to die for us, would He abandon us on the side of our mountain helpless? No! A thousand times no!! We just need to keep walking, and sometimes climbing, by faith, and one day we will reach the top and the view will be gorgeous!!

And it is true, that during this difficult climb, the Lord has spoken to me so clearly and tenderly so many times. He has arranged respites along the way. I am closer to my Lord than I have ever been, and I have seen more of His hand at work than ever before. I think if I was given the choice to do it all over again, or not, that I would have to choose to do it again. I would not want to miss out on the glimpses that I’ve seen of my Lord’s power and glory.

Thank you to all of you who are my prayer warriors, and cheerleaders along my climb!

One Day the Sun Will Break Through

As I was walking on the University of Oregon campus yesterday, I was praying about some things that are on my heart. Some of those things would be impossible without God’s intervention. I confess to being rather discouraged about some of them right now. As I walked and prayed, I looked up and saw this scene: the sun beginning to break through the clouds. My first thought was of the Scripture that tells us that one day Jesus will break though the clouds and return to earth. Then, the thought came that one day, too, when we are praying according to God’s will, we will see the answers to our prayers appear as the sun appears after the rain.

I’m sure that the children of Israel wondered what God had done to them when they were up against the Red Sea with the Egyptian army just behind them, but then God parted the Red Sea! (Exodus 14). And then again as they stood at the edge of the flooding Jordan River just before God parted it for them. (Joshua 3) Then, I can only imagine how some of them felt as they walked around and around the city of Jericho. However, at the right time in accordance with their obedience, the walls of the city fell down. (Joshua 6) In the book of Mark, chapter 4, we learn about the time that the disciples thought they were going to die while Jesus was sleeping in the back of he boat. Then he calmed the sea, and they were saved. Finally, I think of the time that Martha and Mary were disappointed with Jesus because he did not come and heal their brother, Lazarus. (John 11) However, Jesus had something much bigger in store for them than a simple healing.

So what should we do when we’re smack up against a big impassable roadblock to our progress in some area, or have plodded around a problem time after time with no success, or things are happening that we can’t understand, and it seems like Jesus doesn’t care?

Here is what the Lord through His Word has been telling me:

  1. Don’t depend on your own understanding. (Proverb 3:5-6) There are too many things that I can’t understand, but God sees the big picture. A young child will not understand why his/her parent has barricaded the door because they do not understand the danger that is on the other side. We, too, cannot understand all that God sees and knows.
  2. Trust that God has heard and is working even when you cannot see it. (Also, Prov. 3: 5-6) In all of the above examples, God was not unaware of what was happening. He had a plan, and He was working it out.
  3. Present your requests and prayers to God. (Acts 6:4, Romans 12:12, Eph. 6:18)
  4. Always be willing for His will to be done, and not your own.(Matthew 6:10)
  5. Walk by faith and don’t doubt that God will in His perfect timing and perfect way hear and answer your prayer. (2 Cor. 5:7, Heb. 11:6) For me, this means getting up out of my chair, and go about my day, serving the Lord as He gives me opportunity, always being confident and watchful for that time that the He will do His perfect work! I will look up and see my answered prayer, and I will rejoice!

It has helped me to write this all down; I hope that it will be helpful and encouraging to you, as well!

As always, I welcome your comments and feedback!

Reflections

Today as I was walking on campus, I began to notice the various reflections in the windows of the buildings. It is winter and the floral beauty I enjoyed in the fall is no longer there. It also was a mostly cloudy day, but then I noticed the reflection in these windows of the sun coming through the clouds. It got me to thinking about what do I reflect to others? My mind recalled several Bible verses that I learned as a child. “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven ” (Matthew 5:14, 16) and “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

I think that in this time of “cloudiness” in our land and lives, a time of illness, uncertainty, unrest, and fear, a time when we haven’t been able to enjoy many of the beauties of life that we did not so long ago, we as Christians need to be reflecting the the fruit of the Spirit more than ever: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22)

So, my blog this evening is short. I will leave you with the question that I am asking myself-What am I reflecting to those around me? Do they see Christ in me?

I leave this song with you: https://youtu.be/QUsoNyLEy3Q

Tired of retired!

Good morning! Today, I want to open my heart and share with you something that I am struggling with. For the past several weeks, I have been struggling with feelings of anxiety; it is affecting my eating and sleeping. While it is true that it has gotten worse since Dante tore his ACL and is facing surgery, it did not begin then. This has been going on for months. I am not worried that he will die on the operating table, and I am not worried that he will recover. I know many young men and women who have come through this and are playing basketball now. In fact, I have been told by more than one reputable source, that Dante’s knee will be stronger after the surgery than it has been in a long time. He will have months of hard therapy and rehab, but he will recover and be stronger than before!

So, why these feelings that I am dealing with? I’d identified that it was almost always coming from my own imaginings, and have learned that the devil most often attacks our minds & thoughts. I think that is why the Proverb 4:23 tells us to “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of your life.” And then yesterday, it finally sunk in to me how much my life has changed in the last half-year. I retired and moved to Oregon. That in itself would have necessitated some adjustments. What I did not expect was that after 51 years of working or going to school or both at the same time, it would all suddenly stop! As I drove across the barren lands of west Nebraska, southern Idaho, and eastern Oregon in July on my way here to Eugene, Oregon, I was thinking about the athletes I would tutor, the classes I would sub for, the home games I would attend, the Oregon athletes that I would meet & greet after the games, the away games that I would travel to, the new sights that I would see, the church worship services I would attend with my new church family as well as their ministries that I would participate in. However, restrictions due to the Covid outbreak have cancelled all of those. All. OF. THEM. If I might suggest an analogy: I was traveling 70mph and hit a concrete wall! And while I walked a lot every day when I first got here and often interacted with people that I met along the way, I haven’t been able to do that much over the last month because of the rain and cold.

So, I have identified the source of my angst. Today, I am thinking what to do about it. I am reminded first of all of Paul’s writings in 2 Corinthians 1: 3-11. He concluded that he needed to trust not in himself, but in God. That raises a question in my mind: how do I do that? I see some clues from the passage itself:

1.( v. 8) Paul admitted his own inability to handle the situation on his own

2. (v. 10) Paul remembered what the Lord had already done and affirmed that He could do it again.

3. (v.3) Paul thanked and praised God.

4. (v3-11) Paul turned to his brothers and sisters in Christ for help, not to pills or activities.

5. (v. 3, 11) Paul told others about it so that they would pray for him, and also so that they would praise God when he answered their prayers.

There is probably much more in that passage, and certainly there is in the whole of God’s Word, but this is what I see today. I already feel better just writing this all down!!

I will continue to seek to become a bit more active here; I’ve had much too much free time on my hands and mind, and the devil has used that as an open door to attack. However, I know that just keeping busy is in itself not enough. I knew it before, and I have confirmed it again. I need to gain my strength from the Lord, not work. “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil. 4:13

I do ask and thank you for your prayers. Pray for me to successfully navigate this adjustment into retirement.

In addition, Dante tore his ACL on Dec. 17th. He asked me not to post anything on Facebook, so I have not. But I think this blog is a safe way to share his needs. He will have his ACL surgery the middle or the end of next week. I was told again last night by a coach how much Dante will need me in the first weeks and months after that. I have no clue how that is all going to look or work out. And for someone who usually plans almost everything a year in advance, this is a challenge. Waiting and being ‘on call’ is a new one for me. So, I ask you to not only pray for me, but also for Dante’s healing and for his rehab and therapy period. And most important of all, pray that through all of this Dante will see God’s power and goodness in his life.

Hello!

Hello, friends! It is a new year, and I am going to try something new-my own blog! This first post is mostly to see if I can ‘do it’ or not! I’m still not sure this old dog can learn this new trick!

As I start this new year and new challenge, I am reminded of what a friend just shared with me recently. She had seen where someone had posted on Facebook that as 2020 was leaving us, then 2021 was arriving. She emphasized that the ‘1’ in 2021 was going to be 202Won! I like that idea!! So, I am challenging us all to make each day count. Make it a winning day. 2020 has taught us many things. One of the things that I have been reminded of is that the only promise that we have is today. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring; we don’t even know what tonight will bring! So we need to make every moment that the Lord gives us count. A healthy life is a precious gift!

This year, at the beginning of each day, I am going to commit myself to making the day a winner for establishing the kingdom of God! At the end of each day, I am going to reflect upon whether I did that or not. And when it gets tough, I’ll remind myself that “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13 CSB

Reminds me of the old hymn by E.M. Bartlett: “Victory in Jesus”. Here are the lyrics to that hymn:

I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory
How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me
I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning
Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.

Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

I heard about His healing, of His cleansing power revealing
How He made the lame to walk again and ’caused the blind to see
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit”
And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.

Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

Oh victory in Jesus, my Savior forever
He sought me and He bought me with His redeeming blood
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him and all my love is due Him
He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood

As my basketball students love to say, “Let’s Get it!”

Introduction

One day I stopped my car beside a river to enjoy the scenery. As I got out of the car, and I began to walk across the beach that ran alongside the river, I noticed a profusion of gull tracks in the sand. The tracks were a jumble, crisscrossing each other running out in all directions. As I looked at the jumble of tracks, I thought, “Lord, this is how I feel right now. I am searching for Your direction, but I cannot seem to find it. I cannot find Your track to follow.

As I stood and looked at the tracks and admitted to the Lord my feelings of confusion and discouragement, I knew that I was not the only follower of Christ who has found themselves in these kinds of circumstances. I also reaffirmed in my own heart that God had spoken words of encouragement and direction to me through His Word. It was at that point that I decided to write down and process what the Lord has spoken to me. It was my desire that by writing down the Lord’s teachings, my faith would be strengthened. It is my desire now to share my journey with you so that you will be encouraged, and that through our fellowship, we can encourage one another.