Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bird Feeder, Part Two

Okay, so I filled the bird feeder today. Still no birds are coming. Due to a long delay, I think they gave up hope of there ever being fresh bird seed for them. I know eventually, they’ll come back around, but for now there needs to be some kind of announcement to our feathered friends: “Fresh, wholesome seeds. Free for the taking! Come and get it!” ;-)

But I’m reminded of how prayer can feel sometimes.

First, some absolutes:

God is always there.

As a born-again believer, you always have access to His throne.

If you feel far from God, it’s either 1) a lie, or 2) due to shame from sin, or 3) distance because it’s been so long since you tried to connect.

That last point is today’s focus. The bird feeder is out there. Full of seeds. Ready to nourish whichever bird comes by. But there’s a dry spell. No birds. When you’ve had some time away from God (a few days when you didn’t pray, perhaps), it might feel like He’s not there when you go to pray again. But be diligent. He’s there. And your spirit will be sensitized again, and you’ll encounter Him. Just keep seeking Him.

Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners; and purify your hearts, double-minded ones. (James 4:8) (especially that first part)

And when you have found Him, do not let Him go. (see Song of Solomon 3:4)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Good Does it Do?

The other day I picked up a bag of wild bird seed at the local store. My feeder’s been rather bare for some time. Today we have glorious sunshine in the northwest, and every now and then I hear a bird chirping away outside. I think it’s time to fill the feeder.

What good does a bag full of seed do if the birds don't have access to it?

Do you ever feel like you have the tools you need, but you don’t avail yourself to them? Or even, the sustenance your soul longs for, but you don’t take some time away from the routine and access the source?

I have a stack of books on the shelf—writing craft related and spiritual growth related, but if I don’t avail myself to them, if I never take the time to read them, what good are they doing me?

Be honest. Have you ever purchased a “how-to” or a “learn-about-yourself” book and then let it go dusty on the shelf? I have. Yet, some of the insights within those book covers might just set us free.

What good is a book on the shelf if a reader never reads it?

It’s time to go fill my bird feeder, and it’s time to schedule opportunities to read the helpful books on my shelves.

Otherwise, what good will they do?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Take out the Trash

How often do you have to take out the trash at home? Specifically in your kitchen? I have a theory that the number correlates with the number of people in your household. We "get" to take it out a few times a week. ;-) Or we should. Today it was overflowing while I added old straws and napkins and cleaned the kitchen. Time to take out the trash.

Sometimes the "trash" of old behaviors and mindsets need to go--tossed out of our lives for good.

Let's make some spiritual comparisons.

There are trash days. Specifically, the night before the collectors come around in their noisy trucks and disturb our sleeping neighborhood. I liken this to New Year's or birthdays. Self-examination. Set new goals. Make changes. Embrace changes. Out with the old and in with the new.

There are overflowing days--when the wastebaskets in the house just don't seem big enough. That's like our old mindsets trying to hold new, fresh information. Jesus referred to this as old wine skins. Fresh wine (fresh insights or understanding) does not belong in old wine skins. The process of fermentation will make it burst. The process of trying to live like a new person while espousing old mindsets will not work. Ya hafta get rid of the old way of thinking.

There are motivating days (like right before collection days or vacations). These are when you rush around the house dumping every basket into large trash bags. Every bin is left empty and ready for whatever's next. Those motivations spiritually are when something ugly keeps rearing up in your life; you see every area it touches, and you determine to change once and for all. “Lord, I hate being like this (i.e. living with this awful attitude, etc.). Change me.”

Are there areas in your life that need to change? Where old thoughts or behaviors have to go to make room for victory? Is it time to take out the trash?

Monday, January 18, 2010


Reclaiming my living space from overrun Christmas decorations is always a fun chore. Fun because I like getting the rooms back to normal. As I was storing Christmas dishes in our hutch this year, I rediscovered my sister’s gift to me several years ago: a set of six placemats. They’re handmade, quilted placemats. She is a master quilter.

I am not a quilter, but I have witnessed some of her work in the past. She uses such precision to cut the pieces of fabric into perfectly measured rectangles, squares and triangles. A pattern dictates where the quilt blocks of different colored fabric are to be placed. She irons, pins the pieces together, runs them through her amazing sewing machine, irons again, bastes, stitches, quilts. It’s a phenomenal feat, if you ask me. And she made six of them for me. Individual placemats in purples and greens and yellows and browns. They’re two-sided, too, so either way they’re placed, they grace the table with beauty.

With all the hours represented in one creation, I imagine she spends time thinking about how much she loves the person she’s creating the quilt for.

Reminds me of God’s work in my life. At the turn of the year, do you spend time looking back and looking ahead, hoping for the future to be better in ways than the past has been? I do. But today, it occurred to me the intimacy with God that has grown out of the pain of recent months has become such a precious treasure to me. Were I to do it all again, I wouldn’t wish those painful times away, not if that means missing out on God.

So, all the piecing and stitching and ironing (refining) is for good in my life as God works out His best for me.

And when He has finished His work in us (i.e. heaven) it won’t matter what direction we’re viewed from. We will be a masterpiece.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Find "Selah" Time

Reading through the Psalms, you're likely to run into a little word which we tend to skip over. It's Selah, and I've heard it described to mean "pause." So, you're reading along in the Psalms and the psalmist gives a particularly poignant or powerful phrase, then he says "selah," or "stop and think about that a moment."

Here's an example of where David used the word several times in Psalm 3.

Many are they who say of me, "There is no help for him in God." Selah
But You, O LORD, are a shield for me, My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the LORD with my voice, And He heard me from His holy hill. Selah
I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.

I was watching a popular teacher this morning on TV and she said we all need a little time for "selah" in our lives. A little time to reflect and stop the mad busy-ness of our lives. Can I hear an "amen"?

I've been rather swamped this season (beyond the holiday craziness) and now it's time for some purposeful "selah" time. Time to recharge. Time to connect with God, meditate on His word, hear from Him, reflect on what He's spoken to me.

Have you taken time for "selah" lately?

Friday, January 1, 2010

A New Beginning

Happy New Year, readers!

There's so much hope inherent in an exchange of calendars--from one year to the next--isn't there? Hope this year will be better than last. Hope we can leave the mistakes we made last year behind us. Hope for positive changes in our lives and things that have gone wrong can be made right. Hope is a gift from God.

There are no guarantees. But there is hope.

There are no sure things. But there is hope.

We aren't guaranteed an entire year, but we have today.

Let's grab onto hope and fully experience it, fully engage with it. Ride it to the stars.

I've used this verse before, but it's fitting once again. It's a blessing.

Now may the God of hope fill you
with all joy and peace in believing,
that you may abound in hope
by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13, MKJV)

God bless you this new year!