Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Anticipating the Impossible

Here’s the challenge: Using only four lines, and without lifting your pen or pencil, connect all nine dots. Ready? Go!

Challenge 1-a

Did you give up? Does it make your brain hurt to think about it? Is it even possible? I assure you, it is possible. It just requires a different way of looking at things. “Out of the Box” thinking, so to speak. (I’ll post the solution at the end. Don’t scroll down just yet, though!)

Puzzles like this remind me that just because I can’t see a solution doesn’t mean there isn’t one. Just because something seems impossible to my finite mind doesn’t mean it isn’t achievable. It may just require some creative thinking.

Life’s problems are frequently the same way. Whether the challenge is a strained relationship, financial concern, or some entanglement of our own making, resolution often seems impossible. We’ve thought things through from every human angle examining all perceivable options only to find ourselves at a dead end. Too many variables are out of our control and words like “hopeless”, “helpless”, and “impossible” hammer at our minds. We’re at the end of our proverbial rope.

And yet, if we are very still, we can hear other words whispering in our hearts:

“Everything is possible for him who believes,” (Mark 9:23)

“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26),

and “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is there anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27)

That’s the sound of Truth – God speaking in His still small voice to our very souls. (See 1 Kings 19:11-12.) You see, God is King of “Out of the Box” thinking; the ultimate Creative Mind. He always has a fresh perspective. He controls all the variables. He perceives all the options. And He is holding both ends of the rope we're hanging from. The "impossibilities" of our lives are really opportunities for God to reveal Himself to us.

Here’s another challenge: Anticipate the impossible. Watch it become a reality. Ready? Go!

1. At the top of piece of paper write today’s date and “ ‘Impossible’ Prayer Requests'”

2. Now list those heart-burdens that require parting-of-the-Red-Sea miracles. These can be prayers of deliverance from addictions and past demons, prayers of reconciliation for strained relationships, prayers for salvation for those without Jesus, prayers for provision of financial needs, prayers of Divine Intervention and Wisdom for decisions to me made; whatever is on your heart.

3. At the bottom write those verse reminders that with God all things are possible.

4. Pray. Pray every day. Bombard heaven with your concerns.

5. And wait patiently for God to reveal Himself in ways you never imagined.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us." - 1 John 5:14


Challenge #1

Challenge 1-b

Challenge 1-c

Challenge 1-d

Challenge 1-e

Challenge #2
Start here:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Redeeming Love

Redeeming Love

What roads brought Angel to Pair-a-Dice brothel as the most sought after prostitute in town? What keeps her there? What secrets torment her? What will it take to free her from her demons? Is redemption even possible?

To find out, put supper in the crock pot, turn off your cell phone, clear your schedule, and check out Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is one of the best nail-biting, page-turning, spell-binding books you will ever read.

More than a masterful work of fiction set in the 1800’s, Redeeming Love is the take-your-breath-away story of God’s loving pursuit of His most cherish Beloved…you.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Little House on the Prairie

It may seem odd that a set of children’s books should be on my list of life-changing literature, but as I began composing this list I realized just how much the Ingalls family shaped my view of what family should be. I read this series through at least six times before graduating high school. Then I read it to my three children. And this is what I learned about family:
  • Pa and Ma should be totally devoted to each other and the family through thick and thin. They create an atmosphere of love and safety for their children. They should be kind and gentle, but lovingly firm when necessary.
  • Pleasure should be found in a job well done and in simple things like a sunrise, wildflowers, striped gophers, and sliding down a haystack.
  • A wonderful day of family fun consists of going to the swim hole and having Pa dunk you, or reading aloud together while Ma does handwork.
  • Christmas is about selflessness.
  • Pa should work hard but still have time to play with the children at night and tell them stories.
  • Ma, the perfect example of the Proverbs 31 woman, should be devoted to her family, making sure they are properly clothed and fed, etc, and is respectful and submissive to her husband. She should also be resourceful.
  • Children are taught how to read, write, and do arithmetic at Ma’s knee. They learn how to respect their parents and each other and to love God and country.
  • Everyone in the family should contribute to the well-being of the family.
  • Hospitality is a virtue.
  • A family works together, plays together, eats together, and sticks together.

Living in 2010 is much different from living in the late 1800’s. I’ll admit that I’m thankful for air-conditioning, automobiles, and Wal-mart, yet I somehow feel we have lost something very valuable in our fast-paced society. The “Little House” books inspire me to recapture something of that gentle era leaving me with a warm fuzzy feeling of contentment. After all, in my mind, that’s what family should be.

    Tuesday, September 21, 2010

    The Greatest is Love

    Oh, the endless possibilities a brand new, blank journal brings! It can become anything the mind can imagine…a diary, an adventure story, a photo gallery, an heirloom of wisdom for future generations….anything! I recently opted to turn my new door-prize win into a quote book. I’ve been collecting meaningful quotes and poems for years, but they were scattered throughout all my journals. The time had come to gather them into one place. It was a time-consuming task, but one I cherished; if the quotes were worth writing the first time, they were well worth revisiting. Like old friends they spoke to me of courage, love, and inspiration.

    One of my favorites was clipped from a 1979 newspaper. I still have the original, and I still love it just as much as I did when I was fifteen. (You don't have to do the math; I'm forty-six.)

    "The Greatest is Love" by Helen Redheffer
    (from 1 Corinthians 13)

    If I can speak as angels do
    Or men whose ringing words resound.
    But have no love within my heart,
    I’m like a clanging cymbal’s sound.

    If I foretell events to come,
    Know science, art, profoundest lore;
    If mountains move at my command
    Because of faith I have in store,
    But there’s no love within my heart,
    All these, I know, are but in vain.
    If I give all I have away,
    But have no love, what is the gain?

    If I have love, I cannot boast,
    Be jealous, rude, demand my way;
    I can’t resent what others do
    Or from the path of kindness stray.

    Real love rejoices in the right,
    Does not feel smug when others sin.
    It bears its burdens, hopes, endures,
    Believes and trusts through thick and thin.

    Love never ends, though knowledge goes;
    Prophetic tongues are stilled at last.
    Our imperfections mar our lives.
    Perfection comes when these are past.

    In childhood years I thought and spoke
    As children do, but now no more.
    I had to give up childish ways
    When I passed through childhood’s door.

    I see life as an image dim.
    Not knowing, I myself am known.
    I’ll understand – all will be clear –
    When earthly ways are finally done.

    Faith, hope, and love will never end.
    They’ll last through time, and this is sure:
    The greatest of these three is love,
    The best of these that will endure.

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    Taking it Personally

    The delicious fragrance of cinnamon apple filled the house yesterday, and it’s only September! The day before it was the aroma of key lime and the day before that Hawaiian pineapple. However, if you happen to come my way, don’t expect a luau, spiced cider, or delectable pie. It’s not that my hospitality is lacking (there is plenty to go around) but candles aren’t very tasty, even if they are mouth-watering.

    Candle-making. It’s my youngest daughter’s new enterprise; her effort to earn money for a mission trip next summer. And even though this business is her project, she’s not the only one breaking up wax, cleaning molds, printing labels, or promoting the product. When she makes a good sale her dad and I rejoice, and when things are slow we show compassion through words of encouragement. Why? We are emotionally invested in this child…our child.

    Emotionally invested; that’s why we take everything so personally. When someone makes a generous donation, offers to sell, or buys even when they really don’t need five clean cotton candles, my heart swells with gratitude. It’s as if those benefactors affirmed me personally. I couldn’t be happier. What you do for my child you do for me. It’s that simple. If you help or hurt my child you’ve helped or hurt me. There’s no separation. There’s no middle ground. I take it personally.

    This makes me think….

    Jesus talked a lot about how we interact with each other. A lot. He said things like,

    “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35)

    “But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)

    “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

    “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your” (Matthew 18:35)

    “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)

    And though that’s just the tip of the iceberg, I do believe it gets the point across. God cares how we treat each other.

    So I’m wondering….could that last one translate into, “I’m emotionally invested in my children. What you do for them you do for Me. If you help my child you helped Me. If you hurt my child you hurt Me. There is no separation. There is no middle ground. I take it personally” ?

    I think it does.