Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Get Your Kicks"

It was interesting on our trip to travel down old Route 66 and learn more about the history of "America's Main Street". From the hit song, "Get Your Kicks on Route 66", written by Bobby Troup and recorded by the Nat King Cole Trio in 1946, to the tlevision show "Route 66" playing in the 1960s, the iconic "Mother Road" has been a part of our country's popular culture and folklore for as long as I can remember.

Route 66 was established on November 11, 1926, and originally ran from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California. It served as a major path for people migrating west to seek a better life, immortalized in the John Steinbeck novel "The Grapes of Wrath". It was a popular highway, passing through the heartland of America, and numerous mom and pop establishments sprang up to cash in on its' popularity.

All sorts of unusual signs, shapes and buildings were erected to catch people's attention as they traveled. Isn't that just what the world does? Offers all kinds of quick and pop fixes to satisfy the longings of people. "Take this and it will make you happy"; Drink this and you will forget your problems"; Buy this and you will feel better"; Stop here and have a night you'll never forget".

I bought into all that for a long time in my life. I medicated, meditated, hibernated and anything else you could do to escape for a little while. But none of it worked. The world's quick fixes are just that-quick. They never last long and you're faced again with that gnawing emptiness inside.

I've heard and I believe that there's a hole inside each of us that nothing but God can fill. I know I searched desperately for years for something to fill it up, to no avail. Then I found that Jesus Christ fits perfectly inside that gaping hole, filling every crack and crevice with His amazing grace. He fills up the holes and quenches the thirsts so that you never need anything else.

"Jesus replied, "Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give them will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling stream within them, giving them eternal life", John 4:13. NLT

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Devil's Elbow

On our nostalgic trip down Route 66 on our vacation, the most interesting place we went through was Devil's Elbow, Missouri. We had lunch at an old roadhouse dating back to the 1930s, called Elbow Inn Bar & BBQ. It is one of the oldest establishments on Route 66 that is still in the same business, in the same location, although it was originally the Munger Moss Sandwich Shop. It still serves the delicious barbeque it has been famous for throughout the past eighty years.

There's a lot of history in Devil's Elbow. An old steel truss bridge still crosses the Big Piney River, Shelden's Market and Grocery still hosts the Post Office, and time still moves along slowly or not at all. The name, Devil's Elbow, came from a bad curve in the Big Piney River where logs would always jam going downstream. Lumberjacks thought it was put there by the devil himself to cause them all kinds of grief.

I'm intrigued by that name, Devil's Elbow. In fact, I feel like I know it. There's been many a time that I felt the nudge of the devil's elbow right before he whispered a lie in my ear. I'm sad to say that for much of my life I believed Satan's lies to be truth. It was eye-opening when I realized a few years ago how much of my life had been ruled by Satan's lies and negative thinking.

It's still a daily struggle for me. But I'm gaining the victory with Jesus' help, winning one battle at a time. And the way I'm winning those battles is by keeping my eyes focused on God's grace and keeping my mind focused on God's Word. Because the "Spirit who lives in (me) is greater than the spirit who lives in the world", I John 4:4. NLT 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Road Weary

My husband and I just got back from vacation. We had a restful few days in the wine country of Missouri in a beautiful little town called Hermann. It is a German settlement from the 1800s with a lot of history, surrounded by lush countryside and lovely vineyards. We stayed in a delightful Bed and Breakfast, one of many in the area.

We had planned to stay a few days in St. Louis, but after being in Hermann, the heat and traffic in St. Louis was like a culture shock and we opted not to. We had always wanted to travel down old historic Route 66, so we decided to seize the opportunity and drive Route 66 from St. Louis to Joplin.

It took us three days to drive what would have taken four hours on the Interstate. We saw some interesting sites and can mark Route 66 off our "Bucket List", but I am road weary. Every inch of my body has been hurting, and my husband is worn out from driving that narrow, winding road.

For so much of my life I have been road weary. I have trudged up many a mountain when Jesus would have willingly carried me. I have ran into many a roadblock that I persisted in stubbornly crossing, when Jesus would have provided an easy detour. I have taken on many a task and worked so hard to gain God's acceptance when resting in Him was all I had to do.

It seems like I have traveled "three steps forward and two steps backward" and never made much progress. I hope I have learned something. This year, Jesus has captivated me with His grace, and is propelling me forward on a new journey of intimacy with Him. He has opened my eyes to see that all I have to do is lean back and relax, and let Him do the driving. I pray I won't be so road weary on the rest of my journey.

"Behold, a king shall reign in righteousness, and princes shall rule in justice. And a man shall be like an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; like rivers of water in a dry place, like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. And the eyes of those who see shall not be dim, and the ears of those who hear shall hearken", Isaiah 32:1-3. AKJV

"For I have filled full the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul", Jeremiah 31:25. AKJV

"Then Jesus said,"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light", Matthew 11:28-30. NLT


Thursday, July 14, 2011

In The Garden

My husband and I are taking a much needed, and hopefully relaxing, vacation next week. Here's a little reminder to you, and to myself, to enjoy the simple pleasures of summertime.

In The Garden

My heart is lifted
when I sit in the garden.

I feel close to God
when I sit in the garden.

The warm breezes play
soft and gentle on my face.

It's the middle of July
and the flowers are praising.

They seem to say
"Don't strive. Rest in God".

Like He would say
if He spoke outloud.

The birds are singing
in a sweet melody

"God's grace covers all.
Your sins are forgiven".

The bees flirt with me
and the butterflies beckon.

As I bask in these
moments of simple joy

my heart is filled
with the wonder of God.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sandal Season

As hard as this summer of double digit temps has been, I still love summer. I hate the bone-chilling cold of winter. I longed for summer this winter and spring when it seemed like warm weather would never come. I couldn't wait to exchange my sweaters and coats for the cottons and linens of summer. I couldn't wait to exchange my boots for the open freedom of sandals. I get a pedicure for my toes every end of May and I'm good to go, my plum colored toes heralding the return of summer.

I got new insight about sandals this week while reading John Sheasby's book "The Son! Leaving the Servant's Quarters for the Intimacy of the Father's House".

"But as the father said to his servants, "Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. And they began to be merry", Luke 15:22-24. NKJV

Sheasby says "The sandals are a symbol of the son's restored position. He had not been received back as a servant, but as an honored son. It was customary for slaves to go about their duties barefoot as a symbol of their position of servitude and subservience. The sandals given to the son were a mark of honor, a daily reminder that the father had not acquiesced to the son's desire to be hired as a servant".

Thank God that I'm in the sandal season of my life, regardless of the cool winds of circumstance. For so many years I lived as a servant, thinking I wasn't good enough to be accepted by God as I was, always striving to do enough. God is teaching me that I am His beloved child. He has given me sandals of honor, not because of anything I have done or haven't done, but because of His unconditional love and mercy. When Jesus shed His blood on the cross for my sins, all was forgiven because of God's wonderful grace. I praise the Lord for sandal season!

Monday, July 11, 2011

My Safe Place

The weather where I live has been extreme this year. I live in Northwest Arkansas where we are blessed to experience 4 distinct seasons. Normally I love it. But this year, every season has been "over the top". Right now we are sweltering in 100 degree temps. Back in February, we had 2 feet of snow. March through May were the worst with almost daily tornado warnings.

Because of the severe weather this spring, many people are looking to build "safe places" in their homes. There is so much fear in our world right now. I'm no stranger to fear. I grew up, after the abuse, afraid of people, afraid of circumstances, afraid of being punished, afraid of life.

I'm not as afraid as I used to be because I've found my security in God. Jesus has become my safe place. He is my refuge from the storms of life, my strong tower, my shield, my rescuer, my helper, and my Savior. "But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress", Psalm 59:16. NLT

"But let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O Lord, you surround them with your shield of love", Psalm 5:11-12. NLT

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Unleash the Power

For several years, I've been dissatisfied with my Christian walk. I've been hungry for more, desperate to see God do things that only God can do. I'm tired of going to churches that are mirrors of organizations in the outside world, with the same power struggles, the same cliques, the same ambitions. I know, I know, churches aren't perfect because the people in them aren't perfect and all that, and I shouldn't be critical.. But I want to see the power of God and not just more of what man can do. I don't want to live a mediocre Christian life. I want more.

Last night I started a class at my church on Francis Chan's book, "Forgotten God, Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit". In it Chan says "Without Him (Holy Spirit), people operate in their own strength and only accomplish human-size results. The world is not moved by love or actions that are of human creation. And the church is not empowered to live differently from any other gathering of people without the Holy Spirit. But when believers live in the power of the Spirit, the evidence in their lives is supernatural, the church cannot help but be different, and the world cannot help but notice."

Amen! That's what I long for, to see God perform miracles, to see the supernatural, to see God answer prayers in a way that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. He's done some amazing things in my life lately and I can sense the beginning of a change.  Lets's unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, in our homes, in our churches, and in our communities, and see what happens. I think we'll be amazed!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Feeling His Hug

In his book "Son", John Sheasby describes the journey in his Christian walk from feeling like a slave that is required to serve to feeling like he is a son and joyful heir of God's abundant blessings. In his book he talks about the parable of The Prodigal Son. It's a familiar and beloved Bible story that paints a vivid picture of God's compassion, unconditional love, and unmerited favor.

I was that eldest son, squandering away my rich inheritance from God on alchohol, drugs, sex, anything numbing. When I got miserable enough in that lifestyle to hit rock bottom, I decided that I did, after all, want what my parents had and what I had run so hard and fast away from-a relationship with God, a church family to belong to, Christian friends.

I started the long walk back to God, thinking that if I just did enough good things, then He would forgive me and we could have the relationship I longed for. I strived hard to be good, never saying "no" when asked, performing as well as I could, never feeling like I had done enough. It was exhausting and no better way to live than when I was on the run.

Just recently, I have come to my senses. God has welcomed me with His open arms and His abundant grace. He has shown me that there are no conditions on His love, and no condemnation. He has shown me that there is nothing I have to do to win His love, only believe. He has shown me that when His son, Jesus Christ, shed His blood on the cross for me, that I was declared innocent.

The more I accept this free gift of grace, the closer to God I become. I am a part of His family and as such, am heir to all His earthly and heavenly blessings. I am not a servant who has to work hard to please his master. I am a beloved child of God and I can feel His hug.

"When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, "At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger". So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him", Luke 16:17, 20. NLT

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


I'm thankful that I live in the USA. For all our many problems, we also have many freedoms. And I'm more than thankful, forever grateful, for the freedom that I have in Christ Jesus:

*Freedom from condemnation-"So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus", Romans 8:1.
*Freedom from death-"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord", Romans 6:23.
*Freedom from my old self-"Since you have heard about Jesus and learned the truth that comes from Him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God-truly righteous and holy", Ephesians 4:21-24.
*Freedom from depression-"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow", Romans 15:11.
*Freedom from loneliness-"I will never leave you. I will never forsake you", Hebrews 13:5.
*Freedom from lack-"And my God will meet all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus", Philippians 4:19.
*Freedom from emptiness-"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of Living Water will flow from within Him", John 7:28.
*Freedom from fear-"God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind", II Timothy 1:7.
*Freedom from worry-"Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you", I Peter 5:7.

 "And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free", John 8:32. NLT

"So if the Son sets you free, your are truly free", John 8:36. NLT

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourself be burdened again by a yoke of slavery", Galations 5:1. NIV

Friday, July 1, 2011

Greatest Show on Earth

My daughter took my granddaughters to the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus in OKC on Sunday.  She said it was spectacular. The girls watched in amazement as the elephants, tigers, and trapeze artists
performed their incredible tricks. It caused to me think back to seeing the circus when I was younger, and being fascinated with the lion tamers, thinking they must be the bravest men ever.

Hearing her describe the circus made me think about an illustration Alan Platt used in his video series "Resurrected Life". He said that most humans have lost their true identity, which is in Christ, and are not living in the habitat God created us to live in. He defined habitat as an environment condusive for life to flourish.

The circus, of course, is not the lion's natural habitat. Circus lions do tricks because they are afraid of the trainer's whip. Only the crack of the whip causes them to behave like they do in the circus, their behavior modified and tamed. Platt compared that to churches where Christianity is based on behavior modification. People try to do good because they feel guilty or are afraid of punishment, and not because God has transformed their hearts, and enabled them to fall in love with Jesus and live in His environment of grace.

In the lion's natural habitat, in the plains and grasslands of Africa, he is afraid of nothing, not man, not other animals, not a thing that comes across his path. He reigns in his natural environment. That's what God wants for us. He wants to restore us to our true identity in Christ and an environment where we reign with Him, unaffected by the circumstances around us, fearless and confident in His love. That's how I want to live. That's the greatest show on earth.

"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus", Ephesians 2:6. NIV

"For in Him we live and move and have our being", Acts 17:28. NIV