Beyond the Fog

Lessons from the Bridge

Duncan Rawlinson / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

Over the years, I’ve traveled upstate to visit my sister and her family hundreds of times. The best is when there’s no traffic and the sun is lighting the way. That’s when I can relax and enjoy the beautiful mountains in all their splendor.

Of course, the sun isn’t always shining. That’s just part of life.

One of my most harrowing drives upstate was during a nasty rain storm a few years back!  There I was carefully trying to navigate the wet road and desperately trying to stay in my lane as other cars splashed by me on the New York State Thruway. Then I got to the infamous Tappan Zee Bridge that extends for miles and miles over the Hudson River. On a clear day, I enjoy glancing around and seeing the pretty scenery which reminds me of my trip to Alaska.

On this day though, the fog was so thick that I couldn’t see the other end of the bridge ahead of me nor the mountains and water around me. All I could see was the bumper of the car directly in front of me and the occasional car to my left that was battling the fog on the southbound lanes of the bridge. My mind started playing tricks on me, and I started to worry that the other end of the bridge might have somehow disappeared and that I might be driving right into an abyss. The only thing I could do was focus on the car I was now following for dear life. I had to trust that the driver knew where he was going and that neither he nor the cars in front of him would suddenly slam on their brakes and cause an accident.

In that moment, I had to choose to stop thinking about what I couldn’t see up ahead or about the storm that I was literally in the middle of. I had to focus on what I could see in front of me and I had to trust that God would safely lead me to the other side of the bridge so I could get to my family. Thankfully, I did make it across the bridge and eventually to my sister’s house! But the lessons I learned during that trip have stuck with me.

Many times when we’re in a storm, we can’t see things clearly. The road looks so long or too dark. Sometimes it feels like we’re going to fall into some great, big pit before we ever reach our destination. The future looks so bleak and uncertain.

It’s precisely in those storms that we have to lean and trust in God all the more!  He’s the Good Shepherd who goes ahead of us leading us and guiding us to safe pasture. He’s the one that can see the other side of the bridge even when we can’t. In fact, He’s the one that is holding us up all along the way!

If the road looks foggy and unclear to you right now and you’re in danger of losing hope and faith that you’ll ever make it to the other side of your bridge, I’d like to encourage you to call out to Jesus!  He wants to walk with you every step of the way. He really is always just a prayer away!

Hang in there, my Friend! Hear God’s Word for you today, “I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16)

So keep praying, reading your Bible, and listening to all that God is saying.  And be sure to stay connected to your local church. Before you know it, you’ll be safely on the other side of your bridge!

Did this post encourage you? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Promise Keeper

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My 7-year-old nephew came bouncing out of Sunday school during my visit last September, and happily showed me the wallet he had made in class. As he held out his handiwork for me to see, I was so blessed by the simple, yet powerful message, “God Always Keeps His Promises!”

I don’t think my nephew realized that his project was speaking volumes to me. It was the exact message I needed to hear. What a sweet reminder that God is Faithful!

It can be easy to get discouraged or disappointed when things don’t seem to be going your way. Perhaps you didn’t get the job you wanted, your car finally went kaput or someone let you down. The possibilities are endless.

The point is that we can quickly lose focus and take our eyes off of Jesus. When that happens, we start to get preoccupied with our problems and start to obsess over what we don’t have.

We forget all the promises that God has for us in the Bible. The one that is speaking to me right now is, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

That’s right, all things may not be good in our lives but God PROMISES to work it out for our good. So we can thank God for closed doors and start rejoicing over the new doors He’ll be opening!

What are you believing God for today?

I encourage you to open up the Bible and write down, memorize, and meditate on some of the promises that speak to your heart. God has given us so many promises in the Bible. God is the ultimate promise keeper!

Perhaps you’re not familiar with some of His promises for you, or you could use a friendly reminder. Allow me to share just a few of God’s awesome promises for His children:

  • “…no weapon forged against you will prevail…” (Isaiah 54:17)
  • “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)
  • “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
  • “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-3)
  • “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) 

God cannot lie! Hold on to His promises for you!

“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

(Isaiah 55:10-11)

Do you have a favorite Bible promise that you’d like to share? Feel free to write it below.

If you’re not familiar with the song “Promises” by Sanctus Real, click here and enjoy!

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Love is in the Air

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I was walking to my car one afternoon last spring when I looked up and saw a small plane right in the middle of skywriting. Most of my fellow shoppers didn’t seem to notice the plane as it maneuvered around in the shape of a backwards question mark. It caught my attention, so I waited around to see what design it would make. To my delight, it formed this beautiful heart in the sky. I just smiled and thanked God for that wonderful kiss from heaven!

MiraculousLovely moments like these are precious, aren’t they? They serve as little reminders that God loves us!

Sadly, I think many times people go through life trying to earn, keep or run from God’s love. Some may be completely unaware that God loves them. Others, who may have vaguely heard about God’s love years ago, doubt that God could ever care about them now.

And some people are so focused on how much they love God that they overlook how much God loves them! Yes, we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5). There’s no doubt about that.

But what does the Bible say about God’s love for us?

“We love because He (God) first loved us.” (1John 4:19) Isn’t that beautiful? God Almighty loved us first! We didn’t have to do anything to “earn” His love. He just loves us. Doesn’t that make your heart want to sing?

And God proved His love for us in the greatest of ways. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Yes, Jesus came to redeem us because of His love for us!  And He did so even before we had any kind thoughts towards Him! Talk about unconditional love!

No matter how you’re feeling today, repeat after me, “God loves me!”  That truth is so profound that you might want to say it a few times just so it can sink in.

“God loves me!” Can you say it without it warming your heart? “God loves me!” Doesn’t it make you smile?

Once you get a revelation of God’s love for you, it transforms your life. It changes your perspective. Your friends, loved ones or co-workers may come and go from your life, but God’s love remains. The Bible says God is love!

He may not love everything you say, think or do, but God loves YOU! He longs to be in a relationship with you where you spend time with Him on a daily basis, talk to Him and listen to what He’d like to share with you.

If you’re already a Christian, I pray that you will grow in the knowledge and grace of His love!

If you’re just learning about Jesus, I pray that you will receive His love, walk in that love and pour out that love on others! For more information, please feel free to visit http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/ or the Info for New Believers/Seekers page.

The song “How He Loves Us” by the David Crowder Band is a great way for all of us to rejoice in God’s love. Enjoy!

If you have a MiraculousLovely moment you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment below.

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A Picture of Perseverance

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This photo that I took last year is very special to me. It’s more than just another pretty flower. When I look at it, I see the power and beauty of one single rose standing on its own.

To me, it embodies what it means to persevere.

This rose isn’t surrounded by a whole garden of flowers. It’s just in full bloom by itself.

Ever have one of those seasons? Where you don’t fit it in with the crowd? When a storm has hit and wiped out everyone else, but you?  When you felt like you were down to nothing?

It’s in those moments that God steps in and meets us. It’s when He reminds us that if we have Him, we have more than enough.

I love how the rose defiantly stands against the odds and gives you no choice but to notice its beauty. Take a look at how barren things look around the rose.

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It’s really a wonder how the rose could even flourish in that environment. What happened to all the other flowers?

I don’t know what you are going through today. Perhaps you are walking through a dry valley or a season of drought or despair. Perhaps you’re feeling like no one else around you cares or understands your struggles.

It could be because of a loss of a job, loved one or your health. It could be a transition time or a time of uncertainty.

Whatever you are facing today, be at peace knowing that God is Greater than your circumstances. He has not abandoned you. He is right there with you giving you the strength to stand and to persevere.

The Bible says, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)

In short, don’t give up!

When you feel like wallowing in a corner or backing down, I hope you will remember this rose (and the verse above) and that you would be encouraged to keep standing tall. Whatever you’re struggling with, it is just for a season.  God will see you through it.  He will give you the grace to endure it.

If you’d like to share a prayer request below, please feel free. I’d be honored to pray for you.

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Help is on the Way

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I once heard a sermon where the pastor mentioned that we pray one thing and God does 10,000 things in order to bring to pass the answer to our request. The photo above helps to remind me that God does hear my prayers and that His answer is on the way.

Just because I don’t see an instant response to my prayer request doesn’t mean that God is asleep, has forgotten me or is ignoring me.  It just means that some prayers take a longer time to get answered. God’s answer could be yes, no or wait.

During that waiting period, God is growing us, maturing us and testing us. He’s also bringing people and circumstances into alignment.

The Bible says,“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; He who seeks finds; and to Him who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7)

We obviously need to be praying according to God’s will for our lives and should repent of any unconfessed sins. As Christians, we can then leave the rest to God.

The Bible doesn’t say how long it takes for the answers to come. It does say we are to be persistent in our prayers and we should pray with faith.

God is not a genie so He doesn’t just automatically give us everything we want exactly when we want it. However, He does like to give His kids good gifts so get ready!

If you’re waiting on some of God’s promises to be fulfilled in your life, I’d like to encourage you by reminding you that God is working behind-the-scenes.  At the appointed time, you’ll receive your answer! When you do, make sure to come back and share about it here!

 

 

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Cleansed

Back in March 2009, I had the extreme privilege of going on a short-term missions trip with Amazon River Churches (ARC) to the Amazon jungle in Brazil.  We traveled by boat to a remote little village called Arumanduba. Our main mission was to build a church for the community of believers who lived there. That is a wonderful story for another time!

Once the church was built, we had the pleasure of taking a mini-speed boat ride to visit the neighbors and invite them to the inaugural service. The custom over there is that instead of knocking on someone’s door, you clap as you approach their house as a way of announcing your arrival.

In one of the houses we visited, there was a man and a few of his friends who seemed very excited to see us. During that visit, the man invited our group to see the well he had in his backyard. Not realizing how far we would be walking, we thought nothing of leaving our shoes by the front door. We ended up walking quite a distance barefoot, over a make-shift walkway made out of long, thin tree trunks. Thankfully, it wasn’t so high, but it was still quite a balancing act. When we arrived at the well, we rested and our host was kind enough to cut down some coconuts from a nearby tree and split them open for us to drink.

While that was all quite an experience in itself, one of the things that stood out to me the most from that home visit was watching the man pour the filthy well water into a water filter he had in his home and watching the murky water instantly come out clear of impurities and clean enough to drink. Amazing!

As I watched the gunk being transformed into drinking water, I got a picture of what happens when someone is born again so I shared it with one of the men there. I told him that that is what happens when we give our lives to Christ.  We give Jesus our junk, our mess, our sins, our brokenness and His precious blood wipes away our sins and cleanses us and restores us and makes us brand new.  Now that is truly awesome!

Today, if you are struggling with old ways of thinking and living, I would like to remind you that as a born-again Christian, you are a new creation! You are a blood-bought, redeemed child of the Most High God! Don’t let the enemy fool you! There is no sin too awful that the blood of Jesus can’t wipe away! That is His promise to us!

If you’re just starting to learn more about Jesus, I invite you to visit http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/ or the Info for New Believers/Seekers page.

I’m proud to be joining Bonnie’s Faith Jam this week!

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No Peeking

Lessons from Baking

MissionControl / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

I finally started exploring the world of baking. To my amazement, I actually like it!  I thought it would be stressful because I’m the type that doesn’t like following recipes or waiting for water to boil, but it’s actually rather relaxing.

I’ve always been intimidated by the oven so before I baked my first set of brownies ever, I had fun watching videos online to see how the pros do it. I also read an article about oven settings.  Both times I read the tips, these lines jumped out at me:

“While your food is baking, try not to open the door too often to check for done-ness.  Every time you open the oven door to see if your food is cooked, your oven temperature will drop and extend the cooking time.”

I was happy that the disclaimer was there and even happier to think there must be other impatient, novice chefs out there like me. But there was something about those simple instructions that got me thinking about my prayer life and times that I have gotten impatient while waiting on God.

At times in my life, I have been like an anxious baker opening the oven door to check if my “treats” were ready. In my eagerness to find out the status of my treats, I didn’t realize that I could actually be interrupting the work that God was doing and delaying the process even more!

What about you?  Have you ever prayed for a situation, said that you’ve left it in God’s hands and then done something that was the equivalent of opening the oven door to peek if the “goodies” were ready?  Were you then discouraged to find out that you had to wait even longer?

If your answer is yes, then I invite you to join me in heeding the advice to keep the oven door closed until God says it’s time to open it and enjoy dessert!

God works in seasons. He isn’t in a rush. As His Word declares, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

 

 

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What do You Crave?

Lessons Learned from Junk Food

loop_oh / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

 

Yes, I admit it. I can be a chip-aholic! Everyone who knows me knows better than to leave me unattended by an open bag of chips. Salty, crunchy chips don’t stand a chance next to me.  They will be gone within minutes. Ok, seconds!

I have my standard chips that I like but sometimes I get the craving for a different variety so the hunt begins.  That’s when I will walk to two or three stores just to find the exact kind of chips I’m looking for. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m sure some of you would do the same for your favorite snack food or coffee.

So one evening I was on a mission to find a particular type of chips. No others would do. After I had gone to multiple stores, I finally found the ones I was looking for. I remember being thrilled that the search was over and that in just a few short moments I would be enjoying my snack.

But along with rejoicing, I remember having this thought, “Wow, what if I searched for Jesus, the way I searched for these chips.” Ouch!

What if we all sought His presence that way?  What if we would let nothing stop us, nothing distract, nothing hold us back from seeking after the Bread of Life and the Living Water? What if we were a little more desperate to spend time with Him daily? What if our day wasn’t complete unless we made time to pray to Him and to listen to Him?

God lavishes His love on us and in return He asks us to love Him with all of our heart, soul and mind. That can sound like a tall order, and yet when we think about His goodness and mercy and grace and faithfulness, how can we respond in any other way?

If your relationship with Jesus has cooled down lately, I pray that the fire in your heart would be reignited!  Let’s be sure our eyes are focused on Jesus and let’s crave the only One who truly satisfies!

If you would like to learn more about Jesus, please visit the Info for New Believers/Seekers page or visit http://peacewithgod.jesus.net/

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Sweet Surrender

Lessons from the Outdoor Pool

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One of my most favorite things to do when I’m in the water is to simply lean back and float. There is just something so delightful about being able to let go and relax and to feel the water gently taking me wherever it pleases.

On my last trip to Florida, I had the pleasure of swimming in this gorgeous outdoor heated pool overlooking the ocean!  It sure did feel like a bit of paradise to me!  On my final morning there, I was one of only two people in the pool for quite a while so it became my own private oasis. As I floated in the water, I just blocked out everything except for the sun shining over me, the bright blue sky covering me, the palm trees swaying all around me and the warm water carrying me. It’s in those moments that I don’t feel a care in the world. I can just Be Still.

It’s in those moments that I also feel like I’m truly in the palm of God’s hand. I am reminded of what true surrender feels like. As I glided in the water, I kept thinking how important it is for me to be this relaxed in my everyday life!

Does that sound too impossible?  What if we lived every moment as if we truly believed that God is in control?  What if we walked in peace remembering that God is Faithful and He is there with us in good times and bad? What if we could go through our days confident that He knows the way, He knows the next step and His good plan for us will unfold in His perfect timing?

What if we simply leaned back and trusted Him in every circumstance? Wow, I’m taking a deep breathe even as I write this.

The Bible tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;  in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Did you catch that? We’re not supposed to fuss around and get frustrated trying to figure everything out. We are to lean on Jesus and trust that He knows what He is doing. I know, it’s easier to say than do but it will help you keep your peace and joy.

So the next time you start feeling nervous, frightened, frustrated or anxious about the situations in your life, try to take a moment and lean back and surrender those thoughts, plans or worries to God. He can handle them!

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Daddy’s Girl

Daddy's Girl

 

I don’t normally take photos of random people on the streets of New York City, but when I saw this duo walking in Manhattan last summer I couldn’t help but snap some pictures of them. At first glance, this is a sweet shot of a dad and daughter walking hand-in-hand along the streets of the concrete jungle in midtown. It also captures a guy secure enough in his manhood to sport a Hello Kitty bag! But that moment meant so much more to me.

Whenever I look at this picture and I see how the burly dad is gently guiding along his daughter and how he’s even carrying her backpack for her, I’m reminded of my walk with my Heavenly Father. In many ways I am like that little girl who is walking alongside her dad. I don’t have to worry about where I’m going or how to get there because my “Abba” Father is leading the way. He’s not standing far off. He’s right beside me. I don’t even have to carry all the weight of the world on my shoulders because my Heavenly Father is there to carry it for me!

Yes, the Bible says that as Christians who have the Holy Spirit living inside of us we can call God Our Father. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Romans 8:15-16).

I don’t know about you, but I love that I can go to the God of the universe and can call Him Dad! And I love that my Father hears me and acts on my behalf. He wants His children to trust and lean on Him. The Bible says, “Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

If you’re feeling tired, alone or weary today, I pray that God would remind you or reveal Himself to you as your loving Father. Your biological father may have disappointed you, but your Heavenly Father will not fail you!

 

 

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