Walk Don’t Run

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Many of us know Psalm 23. There is a beautiful song by Marty Goetz called Psalm 23. I just listened to the song on his House Of Worship that he does every Tuesday and Friday evening. He shared how when his wife, Jennifer, was battling cancer she had to “walk through the shadow of death.” He pointed out that she walked through it even though she wanted to run through it. WOW!!!! I prefer running when I am facing the shadow of death. Then he reminded us, it’s just a shadow – not actual death. Another WOW! Actually, I did a bit of deeper dive into this passage this morning.

The Hebrew word for our “valley of the shadow of death” translation is actually sal-ma-wet, which means “darkness”. Some translations say dark shadow instead of valley of the shadow of death. Either way, they are both technically a bit off. Psalm 23 is about how to live life with God as our Shepherd. “Valley of the shadow of death” refers to those dark times in life. Financial, medical, relational, emotional, etc. trials are where we are to walk through and not fear for He is with us.

The Lord is my shepherd,
I will not be in need.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For the sake of His name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life,
And my dwelling will be in the house of the Lord forever. ~ Psalm 23 NASB

My favorite segment on the Ellen Show is in October when she makes her producer go through a haunted house. He hates getting scared, as do I. I have never been to a haunted house exhibit and never will. This segment is as close as I will get. It’s hysterical as he yells at the actors in the haunted house and hides behind whoever was tasked to walk through with him. Reality, if I was forced into a haunted house I would RUN to the end. I don’t like darkness and scary. So in life, when I am in these dark times, these valleys, I want to get through as fast as I can. Don’t we all? But God says we are to WALK though these dark valleys. Walk not run. Wow. My perspective has changed from a few simple words Marty Goetz spoke in his worship service. Walk not run! It’s just a shadow!

Friends, walk through the struggle you are facing in life right now. If you aren’t in one, pray for those who are. Pray that they fear no evil and know God is with them and that He will provide comfort. He overflows our cup with His love. Psalm 23 is written by a shepherd – David – who knows the fear of sheep and what they need to feel safe. God is our shepherd and wants us to feel safe in His care. Let’s WALK each day with Him and when the shadow of death, a.k.a. darkness, hovers over us. Fear NOT, He is with you.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

For you

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If you follow me on Facebook, you have seen my tea with God postings. It’s one of my favorite times of the day. I don’t post every time I have tea just every so often. On Sunday, our pastor began teaching about Solitude – time in silence before God. Often times, my tea with God is just silence and tea and God. Other times, I read scripture, pray, cry, journal, read a devotional or think. Pastor Tate said that when you take this time with God you don’t have to announce it to the world. When Jesus slipped away to spend time with God, He did so quietly. It got me thinking about my tea with God posts.

I don’t post so you know I’m spending time with God. I don’t post so you think I’ve got my spiritual life in balance. I don’t post to gain anything. I post to remind you to spend time with God. I post to encourage others to make time with God a rhythm in life. I post to show you it’s doable. Based on responses I get, I know others are led to stop and connect with God. A friend from my youth is having cigars with God. Another friend was on vacation and posted a picture of her hot beverage and a sunrise on the beach. My hope is that my posts will nudge you to engage in the practice of time with God.

I don’t have it all figured out. I know that if I don’t have that time with God in the morning, my day suffers. My attitude deteriorates at the first sign of trouble. My heavy heart stays heavy. Last week I taught at 6 am for 4 days straight. It was tough. It took away my tea with God time. I am barely able to get on camera at 5:30 am let alone get up earlier to meet God on my porch. When Friday came, I was back on the porch. I value that time.

I woke up today and told God I can’t do today without You. I need this time or I will falter. I felt a bit guilty that I’m not stronger in my faith to have a good day on my own. Wake up call – I should never do it on my own. God wants us to lean on Him and draw strength from Him daily, hourly, minutely. I can have a few good days without Him but then when the wind blows, I fall down. I am not a “bad” Christian because I have to spend time with God to focus my heart and attitude. I’m a human being who loves Jesus and has eternal life because of His love and sacrifice. I choose to do life through His focus, His lens. I can’t do that without conferring with Him. I don’t want to coast then fall down. I want to be filled up.

In my leadership training, I learned we serve out of fullness. I need to fill up with God and pour that onto others. I refill and pour that onto others. I love when a restaurant offers unlimited refills on a drink. God is my unlimited refill. I can get a refill every second of every day. God is ready to pour His love, compassion, understanding, conviction, concern, gentle nudging, kindness and His all into me. Go for the refill. Spend time with God. I will keep on posting my tea with God pictures to remind you. No one can do it without Him. We aren’t supposed to.

Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. ~ Psalm 55:22 NIV

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Games

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If you have never played Cribbage, it’s worth learning. I spent many hours playing this in my 20s. I had a few friends that loved it as much as I did and we played a lot. The other day, my son and I played a few games. He crushed me. I’m good at this game, too. He had great cards and he’s got strategy. (By the way, this hand with the 8 of diamonds included, would total 7 points (2 counts of 15 and one run for 3)). If that makes no sense to you, look up the rules and learn cribbage .

Playing games with my kids and with friends is one of my favorite things to do. However, I’m a tad bit too competitive. It is something I’ve struggled with my whole life. I like to win. I like attempting something and succeeding. Games are a way for me to laugh and have fun. Yet, when my competition side rears it’s head, watch out. I have worked hard over the years to contain it and temper it. Some days are better than others. I have come to realize that my competitive side leads me to strive for great things and give my all. It also leads me to have strong emotions about the outcome.

Years ago I took a test about identifying your strengths. Competition is one of my top 5 strengths. Every one of our strengths in life has a shadow side. That shadow side is the weakness of the strength. Both will be there. Learning to manage them is the key. I really struggled calling competition a strength because it’s weaknesses play out so much in my life. I’m a sore loser. God has made great strides in me. However, some days the flesh wins and I get frustrated at a loss. I love a good game. I HATE a loss. I continue to strive for excellence in all I do. This stems from my competition strength. I continue to strive to be gracious in defeat. This is a lifelong and an experience by experience challenge.

What is one of your strengths? Once you identify it, look for it’s shadow side. How does it play out negatively? How can you use your strength more in your daily life? How can you temper the weaknesses of the strength as well? Maybe you are an organized person but the weakness is that you get mad or stressed if you see disorganization in your home or workplace or church. Maybe you are a strategic thinker and have big ideas which leads to judgement of others who want to play it safe.

This week spend a chunk of time with God and ask Him what some of your strengths are. Then ask Him:

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ~ Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

Find those weaknesses, those offensive ways within, and seek healing and growth.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Standing in the Rain

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I was just standing in the rain with no umbrella. It was glorious. We get so little rain in California. I rejoice when it rains. We had bouts of thunder then rain. Big drop rain. So awesome!

I had too much on my plate today to get to my blog until now. There was a reason. I didn’t have a concept for today’s blog and the rain brought it. Last week I wrote about joy. This week is about savoring the moment.

I have more work to do. I need to make dinner. I have my lifegroup tonight. I don’t have time to stand in the rain. However, I don’t have time not to stand in the rain. I have friends battling health issues and financial issues and marriage issues. I have all those myself. If I don’t stand in the rain and savor the moment, I will miss out on a chance to refuel my soul.

When my daughters call (they are away at college), I answer. When I am able, I step away from my project, work, cooking – and talk to friends who call. They don’t have to be in need. I just want to savor a talk with a good friend. I have a dear friend and we call each other a lot. If we can’t answer, we always text “Are you OK?” If they are in need, we drop what we can and reach out. The times of chatting are just as valuable as the times of comforting and listening.

God is all about divine appointments. Have you ever met someone while running errands? Those few moments of chatting changed the course of your day, her day, or both of your days. When you happen to get a rare letter in the mail, savor it. Read it slowly. If it’s one that lifts your mood, save it and reread it throughout the week. Better yet, write a letter to friend so they have something to savor.

Savoring a good meal makes sense to us. If we are at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, we aren’t going to eat and be out the door in 30 minutes. It is a good 90 minute meal. If you are with good friends or your significant other, even longer. We enjoy it completely.

The next time you have a tasty treat, a heartwarming letter, a phone call, drops of rain – savor it. Soak it in and completely be in the moment. Don’t rush ahead.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ~ I Corinthians 10:31 NIV

As I said last week, our joy delights God and fills our soul. As does savoring. Take any moment this week that is offered to you and savor it.

Dream Big! Pray Big!