Thursday, January 30, 2014

Cotton-Pickin' Faith

I admit it…I’m a city girl.
Before we moved here, I had no idea what it takes to be a farmer.
Now that I know several cotton farmers, I can tell you
 I don’t know how they do it!!
So much about their livelihood is completely out of their control.
Will it rain?
Will it flood?
Will it freeze too early?
Will it get hot too early in the spring?
Will the drought increase the infestation of some cotton-destroying bug?
They place their security solidly on the Solid Rock.
Their cotton-pickin’ faith is unswerving. Unshakeable.
All this makes my head spin.
See, I’m a control freak.
Anyone out there with me?
We all have our life’s-out-of-control panic faces.
We won’t admit it, but this is what we think:
I can handle this situation better than God can.
I know what I need better than God does.
My plans are better than His.
These farmers plant their feet firmly on God’s faithfulness.
They trust Him with their lives.
There’ve been years of drought – and still they trust Him.
There’ve been early freezes – and still they trust Him.
There've been years of poor harvests - and still they trust Him.
We plant our feet firmly on uncertainty.
We hesitate to trust Him.
What will happen if I surrender my tomorrows to God?
Will He take care of me if I let go of my plans?
There’ve been hard times in the past; can I trust Him with my future?

How can we forget?
  • God is Love.
  • God is Faithful.
  • God is Trustworthy.
  • God is Wisdom.
  • God is Strength.
God is Smarter than we are.
And isn’t that a GOOD thing!
How has God proven to you that you can trust Him?

Monday, January 27, 2014

How Does God Define Discipline?

The LORD would speak to Moses face to face,
as a man speaks with his friend. Exodus 33:11

His [Moses] face was radiant because he
had spoken with the LORD. Exodus 34:29

Some of you know that my focus for this year is the word Discipline.

These two verses caught my attention as the key to and result of being disciplined.

When I think of discipline, I think of commitment: committed to God's call to write, committed to a schedule. Committed to a minimum number of words per day. 

That's my definition.

But I wonder:

What's God's definition?

Exodus 33:11 answers that question.

Face to face - God wants us to be disciplined to spend time with Him, face to face.

Not literally, like Moses did, but focused on Him.
Talking to Him.
Listening to Him.
Learning of Him through His Word.

Friend - Spend time with Him as we would a friend.
Share our needs and wants with Him.
Share our dreams.
Share our emotions.

When we spend time with Him, what happens?
Exodus 34:29 describes the result.

Radiant - Without even realizing it, we radiate God's love.

We glow with peace and joy.

Others see faith shining on our faces during hard times.
They see a peaceful glow in times of sorrow.
They see love when they expect anger.

If we define discipline the way God does, we'll spend time with Him.
We'll share our lives with Him.
We'll learn from Him.

We'll find the strength to obey.

That, after all, is the true definition of discipline: the surrender to obedience.

If we work on that discipline, everything else will fall into place.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:13 
What is your definition of discipline?
What do you expect from yourself?

What does God desire for you?

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I Love Dandelions!

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,
and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning
and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Ephesians 4:14

I love dandelions! I have since I was a child. I pick them and gently blow; the light feathers float away. It makes me smile every time.

It’s hard to find a dandelion here in west Texas. All you see are bare stems sticking up from the grass; all the feathers torn away by the wind. But, occasionally, I see one out in a field.

As I blew on one the other day, I was reminded of Ephesians 4:14,

“Blown here and there by every wind of teaching.”

For many of us, our knowledge of scripture is like the feathers of the dandelion. We are blown apart by this doctrine and that. We float on teachings that coddle us with what we want to hear rather than challenge us with the hard truths of God’s Word.

Where am I in my grasp of God’s teachings?

Do I stand firm on the truths He proclaims or do I float around with every gentle wind?

Am I attached securely to my beliefs or am I weak in my faith?

God's desire is that we be firmly implanted in His Word. What can I do to strengthen my bond to Him? Time in Scripture, time in prayer, reading devotionals?

What works for you?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Learning from a Vacuum Cleaner?

My husband’s wanted one of these for years. What can I say? He’s an engineer and he wants every new toy that comes along.

During the year-end sales, he found one at a price that was almost reasonable.
Guess what he got for Christmas?

I must admit, it’s a fun little thing to watch.

It sits with its nose snuggled up against the base, waiting for someone to turn it on.

When you press START, it’s little screen says, “House cleaning,” and off it goes.

It roams all over the room in what seems like an erratic path.

After a while, it’s little screen says, “Finished!  I'm return-  ing to my base station.”

 If it’s in a large room, it displays “I'm return
ing to my base station for char-

Off it goes, making a bee-line for its place.

That fascinates me! No matter how random its path seems, it never loses track of home.

My life usually feels kind of erratic. Hectic and out of control. 

I roam around here and there, doing my own thing. Every once in a while, I run into a wall, back up, and ask God for direction. 

And do goes my day: Roaming. Bumping. Asking. 

God and His Word are my base. I’m not as smart as the little vacuum. I can’t always make a bee-line for my Base when I get lost. But I can trust God to lead me there. 

At day’s end, I usually fall into bed, exhausted, without a thought of God’s protection during that day.

I should go to Him and say, “My day is finished. I’m coming to You, to thank you for your love and guidance.”

Every morning comes with its new hectic-ness (if that’s a word) and more stress. So often, I get out of bed and race off without a second thought.

I should pick up my Bible and pray, “I need charging to face the day. I’m coming to you for strength and wisdom to serve you today.”

Our Base is always there, calling us to share our days with Him and to come to Him for the energy we need to face each new day.

What are you grateful for at the end of the day?
What do you need from Him as you face each new day?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Winter is Alive!

We’ve all heard the phrases: dead of winter, barren trees, bleak, dormant. Winter's described in such depressing terms. We huddle inside with our warm blankets and hot chocolate, waiting for the new life of spring when leaves burst forth on the trees and green sprouts grow up where dead plants stand.

How can energy and life come out of such death and barrenness? The answer lies underground, in the roots, where life continues and unseen renewal occurs.

None of us likes to experience winter in our lives; we feel like God has set us aside. I’ve certainly felt this way the past year. Perhaps we’re missing the richness of the season. Perhaps we should replace the images of barrenness and bleakness with those of restoration and renewal.

He knows we are tired from the excitement of summer, exhausted from bearing fruit. We should let the leaves drop as they do from the trees. Is God calling us to slow our hectic pace and allow Him simplify our busy lives? He’s giving us rest so we can enrich our relationship with Him and allow Him to feed and restore us. We need to change our perspective: God hasn’t put us on the shelf; He’s pulled us into His lap for a time of peace and preparation for the spring to come.

It’s such a joy to know we are so precious to Him and to spend this tender time with Him. He knows our needs and it pleases Him when we come to Him for strengthening and a new sense of purpose.

Spring is coming. Use the winter to snuggle up to Him and take a much-earned nap.

How can God restore you in this winter season?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Is It Broke Yet?

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

Where do you fit?

  • You totally dismiss the idea.
  • You make one but, based on past behavior, know you won’t keep it. 
  • You make one with excitement and you're disappointed when you fail.
  • You make a one and keep it.- Congratulations!

I waver between the second and third one, but I cling to the hope that each year will be better.

There are the old stand-bys:

1. I’m going to lose weight.
I remember the year I resolved to lose 20 pounds and I had the chainsaw in the garage to prove it! Well, I didn't lose 20 pounds and I chickened out on the whole chainsaw thing.

2. I’m going to exercise.
I bought an expensive gym membership. Surely if I paid for it, I’d go.
Turns out, money’s not that great a motivator.

3. I’m going to eat better.
That worked - until I saw that carton of Rocky Road ice cream in the store.

4. I’m going to finish ----. Fill in the blank.
Unfortunately, I had about twenty things to put in that blank. I threw my hands up in defeat.

Anyone else out there with these problems?

Ah Ha!!!
Then I found the secret.
Our resolutions fail because they start in the wrong place:
With our desires, rooted in our strength.

The heart of every resolution must be rooted in God.

That tweaked my conscience.
Do I make resolutions without spending time with God?

So, I tried to stop saying, “I’m going to…” and started asking God, “What do I need to change?”

Then it happened: I started hearing things about discipline; my devotionals focused on discipline; my time in Scripture directed me to stories about people who weren't disciplined.

I’m pretty dense so it took a while to dawn on me: Discipline!

Without the discipline to obey God, without His strength, I can do nothing.

Jesus says, “Apart from me you can do 
nothing.” John 15:5

My Year’s resolution is to pray for more discipline.

Of course, at 12:02 AM on New Year’s Day, I stumbled.

Did I break my resolution?
NO! I probably dented it, but I didn't break it. God always catches me before I fall. He stands me up, dusts me off, and promises,

"His compassions never fail. 
They are new every morning; 
great is Your faithfulness." 
Lamentations 3:22b-23

How do we find success with our resolutions?

Begin with God!!

My resolution for 2014: Discipline
Do you have a resolution?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I Need HELP!!

Blogger is refusing to download images so
imagine a picture of a beautiful path.

Help Me!!

I’ve noticed my blog going in a different direction lately. It’s following my heart: Bring God’s Word to life in people’s lives.

When I began, Sherry’s Light Blog focused on the concept of God’s light, drawn from verses that referred to light in any of its many forms.
But, over time, my focus has changed.

Again, imagine a picture of
a lamp shedding light.

I’m drawn back to Psalm 119:105,
“Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.”

We all walk different paths. Our paths change as the days, months, and years go by.

But, no matter the path, God’s Word is our light, our wisdom, and our guide.

This is where I’m asking for help.

As you can see, the banner for my blog is a night launch with 1 John 1:5b,
“God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.”

I want to keep the banner – it’s unique to who I am. But I’ll replace 1 John 1:5b with Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path.”

2 questions:

1. I’m afraid the verse is too long to use in the banner without shrinking the font a lot.

What about putting “Your word is a…light for my path.”?
Is it OK to modify the verse like that? I assume I need the ellipses?

2. I need a new name! I want to stay with the idea of light to go with the picture.
I've got an idea but I want to hear from you.
There might a prize for the winning submission.

Imagine a picture of a hand cupped at
an ear as though trying to hear.

Have any ideas? Let's hear 'em!