The Waters of Life

shell in water

Shells were created at the command of God the moment when time, space, and matter came into being. Created from the breath of God to provide a protective outer layer for sea life, they are one day discarded and many wash ashore.

Along their journey, the ocean rolls and tumbles the shells in tumultuous waves and in calm water until one day, finally, they settle in the sandy shores which beach combers traverse in search of beauty. Some shells are taken home as a memento, while others sit along the shore and eventually are bleached by the sun. Washed white in the brightness of day.

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We too are tossed and tumbled, even pummeled by the waters of life. We can be hit by crashing waves that swell out of seemingly calm waters. In the dark of night we may fear what we will find when the sun’s rays glimmer on the water we thrash in.

I have gulped for air a midst thrashing waves.; uprooted by swells of life I did not foresee coming. I have cried in the dark hours before the break of day and seen God’s Son wash white His saints that lay weary and beaten along the shores of life.

These verses bring me hope in such a time as this:

This I declare about the LORD; He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night, nor the arrow that flies in the day. Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness, nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

If you make the LORD your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home.

The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name.  When they call on me I will answer; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a  long life and give them salvation.” (Psalm 91:2-6,9-10, 14-16, NLT)

Did you see it? Troubles and evil will come, but they will not conquer us. Night terrors are to be expected as are arrows that fly in the day.  But, we are to make God our refuge and his faithful promises our armor and protection.

shell on rock

Recently our friend, Aaron Walp, D. Min, preached a sermon that I would like for you to take the time to listen to. His sermon entitled, Rip Tide, Thrash or Thrive can be found here, or simply view the link from Vimeo below. You will need the Joseph Four Step to break the grip of the rip in your life. Don’t miss out on this mighty word from God!

Rip Tide: Thrash or Thrive from Calvary Baptist Church on Vimeo.

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The Challenge of Change

I am sure that you have felt it…that gentle push into the deep. The pressure to go further than you have gone before. More resistance.   A steeper incline…or a seeming free fall.

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When we are challenged to step out of the boat, into the ring, take center stage, or serve in the most humble of ways, it is all for the glory of God and the transformation of a spiritual life.

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Humans need change. We need to be pushed past our known limits so that we can achieve the unmet goals of good works that God has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). This looks different in every life. Likewise, the cost of change will be felt somewhat uniquely by each individual.

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Routine and familiarity breeds comfort, but trust in the midst of change breeds faith and rejoicing.

In what areas are you being asked to make changes? Step up? Step out in faith? To endure beyond what you thought was possible?

Choose joy in this:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT)

Take heart my friends and serve faithfully. In prayer, I will do the same.

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Lord Give Me Eyes to See

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In life, when  looking at something from a distance we often cannot make out what we see with exact clarity.

 “Circle, hand, flag, stable, cross…” Emily stated as she labeled each picture for the nurse administering the vision screening. The stable, really a cup, was discussed more closely and even revealed to Emily, but as she covered the other eye and read the symbols from right to left this time, she continued with, “cross, stable, flag, hand, circle.”

Perhaps it is the same with us adults? We see a situation looming in our near future or planted square in front of our noses and we have this ominous presence of anxiety about that which may happen.

Uncertainty can be a ferocious devourer of peace.

boys and dump truck

For five months we have welcomed Little E into our family and hearts. We love and understand him more and more with each passing day, as he us. Recent progress made on the part of his family lead us to believe we will have him for only two months more. Right now we have many questions and concerns for him, for our children, and for ourselves:

How will the transition back to his own home and family affect him? How will it affect our children? What amount of time will we need a break before we invite another child into our home through foster care? How do I cope with the guilt of looking forward to some relief as a parent of three back to two and yet handle my own mixed emotions about losing the little one I have come to love? What if we need several months “off” before we are ready to again become the orphan’s advocate that foster care requires?

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These questions only target this one facet of our lives…we know many more people and situations that require constant prayer.

The anxiety levels can build as we look at the mess and needs around us. Its presence can pervade our days without our expressed knowledge but rather a feeling, a heaviness, that we desire to be freed from.

Thankfully, as both the nurse and I clearly saw the stable was a cup, God sees the struggles in our view as whatever cup they may turn out to be: cups of grace and mercy, deliverance from or deliverance through, or cups of pain and purification for His glory and our ultimate good.

He who was born in the household stable came to drink the cup of God’s wrath on our sin so we wouldn’t have to. Lord, please give us eyes to see, as your Son, the cup poured before us and let us say as He did:

My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.

My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.

~Matthew 26:39, 42 (emphasis mine)

As we pray the Father’s will let us also claim His promises found in Philippians 4:6-7:

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be make known to God. And the peace of God will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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