Still Working the Old Skin?

A grey honeycombed-pattern snake skin twined around the Yaupon Holly and Coral Berry bushes in the north side flower bed. Spotting a discarded skin is not unusual in the country. Almost monthly snakes shed their outer skin as a natural process connected with growth, but the fact it was so close to the house was odd. And a little creepy. The skin was probably from a harmless chicken or rat snake, but is there really ever one that wishes no harm to creatures large or small? You won’t catch me verifying THAT fact.

Snakes do make a valid point, though. Each month is an opportunity to morph into something new and different. A fresh look. A new feel, and perhaps, novel behavior. Must snakes grow accustomed to the latest skin? Must they slither a few hundred yards to get it worn in like a crisp pair of leather boots?

Wouldn’t life be easier if we could somehow shed our shattered, shabby selves, and become something state-of-the-art, unique?

That’s exactly what God does for you and me through the Lord Jesus Christ!

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

So choose Him day by day, moment by moment.

Ephesians 4:23-24, “be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”

Colossians 3:1, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

If you are a Christian, you ARE a new creation. Now live it!

Romans 6:4, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

“Holy Almighty God, let me soak in your word, absorb your wisdom, and flourish in your newness of life, light, and love. Thank you, Amen.”

How will you choose to live this week?

Dumping the Old, Donning the New only through Jesus, PJ

(c) 2017 PJGover

 

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Are You Ready to Reroute?

We recently encountered heavy stop-and-go traffic on the Interstate before we realized a  multi-car accident blocked most of the north and sound-bound lanes. We worked our way south, past the pile-up, and traffic returned to posted speeds.

However, the opposite side of the freeway remained packed tight mile after mile until traffic eventually thinned and the north-bound drivers were too far from the accident to realize they would soon be forced to grind to a screeching stop, and wait. Maybe for hours.

If only they tuned into the radio or somehow checked online, they could get the word and prepare by moving to the right-hand lanes, detouring, or even exiting.

Isn’t that like life? We aimlessly motor along in life’s north-bound lane completely unaware of hazards up ahead. We may end up in the snarled traffic of difficult relationships or unreasonable people. We may be crushed in the pile-ups of financial or health challenges and job changes, or delayed in what we thought would happen.

Sometimes we wish someone would communicate to us on what the future holds. We want to be prepared, but how?

Get out of God’s way.

Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.”

Trust in God.

Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Live through God.

1 John 4:9, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through him.”

Someone did communicate with us! God sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory. . .”

Although we don’t know the future, we can prepare. We can tune into God’s Word, heed his wisdom, follow his way, and pray. We can join the flow of traffic in community of fellow believers. And we can be flexible and open to reroute as we follow God.

Will you choose to travel life with God?

“Dear Lord, keep me tuned into you day by day, moment by moment. Thank you, Amen.”

Not Ashamed to Tailgate the Triune God, PJ

copyright 2017 PJGover

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Do You Believe God?

From the lavender, orange, and gold smudged long and low across the western horizon to the red and pink dappled skies of an early Ohio morning, I reveled in the breath-stealing artistry that marks our days. From the gentle lapping of ocean waves against a wooden Charleston pier to a boat bobbing on crisp cool waters of Lake Michigan, I glimpsed God’s authority and majesty. And from Colorado pine-covered mountains shrouded in fog to the raw desert beauty of cactus-coated foothills of West Texas, I witnessed God’s hand of creativity and variety.

“The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands,” Psalm 19:1  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” Genesis 1:1

These days of global turmoil and national unrest it’s easy to over-inflate humanity’s place. We lose sight of the One Who Created and Controls All. Our hearts and minds stay trapped in an endless loop of terrible news and changes that seem in opposition to Christian beliefs. We wonder, “Is Christianity still relevant?”

Yes! Then how are we to live? Cut through the muck of destructive thought and rhetoric and return to God’s simplicity:

“For God so loved the world. . . ”

In the same way a mother and father feel compassion and possess the fierce instinct to protect their baby, the sovereign Lord of the Universe feels and acts toward you and me.

“. . . that He gave His only son. . . ”

His compassion doesn’t stop with a feeling, but God follows through with action by providing you and me with the gift of His very child.

“. . . that whoever believes in Him. . . ”

Yes, we are called to make a decision. Do you believe the God of All Time – Who Was, Is, and Is To Come (Revelation 4:8) – actually cares for you? Do you believe He really sent the Lord Jesus Christ to stamp out the harmful and lasting effects of your sins?

“. . . shall not perish. . . ”

What’s this? Through faith you will not be eternally separated from God, so you and I need not drown in despair of living day-to-day in an upside down and hostile world.

“. . . but have eternal life.”

Do you believe God loves you enough to provide for you forever? Because he does!

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16

“Dear Holy Father, please snatch me from the world’s grip of sin and sorry and lift me up into the heavenly places. Thank you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Choosing God and Rejecting the Rest, PJ

copyright 2017 PJGover

 

 

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Who Knows Your Future?

I’m enjoying views from the eighth floor of a high-rise in downtown Chicago. Below me lies a series of paths that dissect geometric shapes of elaborately landscaped urban green space with floral pops of yellow, lavender, and fuchsia. Hotel guests stroll or jog among the islands of nature. The strollers pause occasionally as if to soak in what is normally rare in any big city, while the joggers seemingly rush through. But both can only focus on immediate surroundings simply because head-high shrubs and towering oaks prevent long views.

By virtue of my bird’s-eye perch I see what they cannot – entrances, exits, shaded areas, sunny spots, benches and tables, hazards brought by overzealous sprinklers, and where leisure walkers, serious exercisers, and maintenance workers might meet – all points of logical choice and likely diversion.

It reminds me of how God must view our lives. Our journey forms a kind of pattern, and God possesses full knowledge of our smooth paths and rough patches, and obvious routes and unseen obstacles. God truly knows me and my future! And that fills me with comfort and joy!

“Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go,” Joshua 1:9

“Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength,” Nehemiah 8:10

“For I know the plans I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. When you call out to me and come to me in prayer, I will hear your prayers. When you seek me in prayer and worship, you will find me available to you. If you seek me with all your heart and soul,” Jeremiah 29:11-13

“Dear Lord God, you know my start, my finish, and all my in-betweens. Forever clench me in your divine hand of grace, love, and truth. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.”

“For we live by faith, not by sight,” 2 Corinthians 5:7

Will you live likewise?

Trusting the God of Long Views, PJ

copyright 2017 PJGover

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Sabbath Rest is a Myth?

Why is it that the Sabbath is usually one of the busiest days for Christians? What happened to the resting?

“For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy,” Exodus 20:11

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 28:11

Just saying …

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Are You Remembering the Right Things?

When I look at my surroundings I not only see things, I also sense memories – planting the oak tree in the backyard, wearing my mother-of-the-bride dress, buying red boots on a trip out west, vacationing in the high country, traveling with sister and mother, lunching with daughter and baby, learning to sew with grandmother, readying for holidays, or snow skiing with the Hub. (Sometimes it’s hard to part with things because it feels like I’m ridding my home of memories, but maybe that’s just me!)

Your encounters with God, especially during down times, may remain at the forefront of your mind, but I often struggle. But what if I remembered God’s grace, love, and faithfulness to me with the same tenacity as I recall memories attached to landscaping, clothing, airline tickets, bits of fabric and furniture, or ornaments? As important as those are, how do they compare to eternity?

Old Testament Scripture tells us to mark encounters with God with altars of remembrance.

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us,'” 1 Samuel 7:12

“You shall make an altar of earth for me, and . . . in every place where I cause my name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you,” Exodus 20:24

In the New Testament Jesus instructs us to partake of Communion, the Lord’s Supper, as a remembrance of him.

“Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me,'” Luke 22:19

While earthly memories hold huge chunks of our heart, it’s the ones that point to eternity that are everlasting. Remembering God’s faithful acts of the past aid our present and anchor our future.

“Dear Lord, let me make altars that point to you. Guide me in the everlasting way. Thank you, Jesus, Amen.”

To what do you hold fast?

“I shall remember the deeds of the Lord; surely I will remember your wonders of old,” Psalm 77:11

Setting up Altars and Remembering What Matters, PJ

copyright 2017 PJGover

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How Does a Nation Forget Truth?

As a writer I use the laptop a lot. Although I’m not the most accurate keyboardist, muscle memory kicks in and soon my fingers fairly fly across the keys. However, if I inadvertently shift my hands to the right or left I end up typing what looks like foreign code. Gibberish.

Often in life we are tempted to slightly shift on what’s accurate, what’s true. It begins with little white lies – driving a smidge over the limit, making family and friends sound out-of-this-world fantastic, inflating grades, living beyond our means, fudging on taxes, describing our job as more glamorous or powerful than it is. It’s just a slight shift on truth, no problem, or so we tell ourselves. But if we continue life on a slightly shifted trajectory, we end up far from God’s mark. We start grabbing self-justifications like, “truth is what I say it is,” “truth is relative,” “everyone has a right to their own truth.” Priorities get muddied. Eventually gibberish-living encases us like ever-hardening concrete.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else, and is desperately sick; who can understand it? “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds,” Jeremiah 17:9-10

“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen,” Romans 1:25

Is there hope?

“And the Word (Jesus) became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from God, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14

“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God,” John 3:21

What do we do now?

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you to his neighbor, for we are members of one another,” Ephesians 4:25

“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Ephesians 4:15

How does a nation forget the truth? As individuals slightly shift away inch by inch, word by work, action by action. This Fourth of July, stand for God’s truth. Let America stand strong!

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things,” Philippians 4:8

“Dear Lord, let me daily live Your truth, the only truth there is. Thank you, Jesus, Amen.”

Refusing to Shift from God’s Standards, PJ

copyright 2017 PJGover

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