SOUL RESTORATION

SOUL RESTORATION

My husband and I like to watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS.  It is interesting to watch as people bring in their various collections, yard sale finds and family heirlooms to be appraised.  Sometimes you can just tell that the Appraiser is very excited by a particular piece.  He will begin to explain the origin and history of the find but then declare that the article is quite valuable but if it is properly restored it will be worth far more than ever dreamed.

We have an old bureau that had belonged to my husbands’ Great Aunt.  It was usable but in sad shape. The top was worn and veneer broken. We didn’t think restoring it to the original finish would be worth the work since it was not an expensive wood. Instead, my husband carefully sanded down all the surfaces several times and patched the broken places. It took several coats of paint as the wood was very dry and I ordered new special knobs and handles to replace the old plain ones. It was a process that took time. It is still an old vintage piece but looks better than before inside and out.

The biblical meaning of the word “restoration” is to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition.  The point is that someone or something is improved beyond measure.

Peter had really blown it by denying he even knew Jesus while standing in the courtyard while Jesus was inside “on trial’. But today you can visit Tabgha, a quiet cove on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. There a church was built called “the Church of Peter’s Primacy” to commemorate Peter’s restoration. He was not restored to go back to fishing but to move forward as “the Rock”, the chosen leader for the disciples and early Church. 

Humans were created in God’s own image and are of great worth in His eyes. No person can stray so far away that they cannot be restored by His grace. Jesus explained that to us clearly in the parable of the prodigal son. God wants to use us for His service and glory despite our faults and failures.  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.          2 Cor 5:17 (ESV)

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.      Eph 4:22-24

Maybe you can’t identify with the “prodigal son” but you are more like his brother.  Life didn’t seem “fair” and he was angry. Has your Bible gotten dusty or is your thought life rough around the edges? Are you stuck in old habits and patterns of life that make it difficult to function properly?  Maybe your joy has lost its luster? The past year and a half has been very difficult.  Wherever you are or whatever situation you find yourself in, let God do some deep cleaning in your heart and restore your soul. As long as you have life, God has a plan and a purpose for your life.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.                     Psalms 51:10 & 12

Seasons of Refreshing

Seasons of Refreshing

The ladies at my church recently held a day retreat to come together and share some hard things as well as how God has worked throughout the past year and a half. Now that restrictions have been lifted here in Massachusetts it felt so good to be with sisters face to face. I am an extrovert and love to chat with people and I didn’t realize how much the “Covid rules” affected me until after our retreat. My soul needed this time of spiritual refreshment; the fun, food, laughter, prayer, singing and reconnecting with friends.

In 1 Kings chapter 18 and 19 we read about the prophet Elijah having showdown between God and the prophets of Baal. In a nutshell, God won and the false prophets were all killed. Now the wicked King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel were furious. Elijah is burnt out and very afraid so he runs to the wilderness where God provides a nap and some food. Refreshment. God had another assignment for him but first he needed some physical and spiritual fortification.

The word refresh means “to give new strength or energy to; reinvigorate”. With technology we refresh our devices – we restore their settings and clean out clutter so they function better. We need to refresh and restore our souls so we function better. Everyone around me is looking forward to having vacation or family reunions but now that we are free to enjoy life “as we think it should be” how will you refresh your soul? We dare not jump back on the hamster wheel of life.

Here are ten of my favorite suggestions to refresh your soul I gathered from the internet.

  1. Get outside and enjoy some vitamin C – God’s feel good medicine.

2. Now that we can (with consideration of others feelings) give your family and best buddies a huge hug.

3. Cut out the background noise and the distractions including the phone.

4. Put some uplifting music on.

5. Take a walk and stretch your body.

6. Read a good book and get lost in the words.

7. Take time for your hobby or try something new. Being creative feels good.

8. Pamper yourself.

9. Check Your Attitude! Have you allowed negative or false thoughts to invade your soul? Ask God to forgive and cleanse your heart and mind.

10. Make a list of things you are grateful for.

For a season of spiritual refreshing get your soul into a place where you can receive God’s peace and renewal. Spend time reading scripture, calm your spirit and pray.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, Acts 3:19-20

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Psalms 51:10,12 (ESV)

…they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

God’s promise to us,

Open Your Eyes to Wonder

Open Your Eyes to Wonder

We live in such a fast-paced world so preoccupied by the next thing on our to-do list that we are actually missing out. When was the last time you were awe-struck by something beautiful and amazing? Maybe the birth of a baby? An especially beautiful array of color at sunset? Experiencing wonder can have a positive impact on our health and quality of life. Too many people have their noses buried in their screens and miss what is right in front of them. We don’t need Google to answer all of our questions or Disney to fill our imaginations. And we don’t need to go on a grand vacation (although it is nice). On the contrary, we just need to open our eyes and minds to the marvels around us every day.

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good a dead, his eyes are closed. – Albert Einstein

The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

At the County fair children and adults love watching the miracle of life unfold before their eyes at the chick hatchery. We silently cheer for the baby chick as it wobbles around in its new environment. Talk to a beekeeper and learn how we get honey from an insect. It’s an amazing feat of nature. My father once took a small piece of grass and placed it over the ant hill and told us to watch. Within seconds the ant patrol came up and removed the object blocking their path. How do they know what to do?

A Lesson from the Ant: 6 You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. 7 Nobody has to tell it what to do. 8 All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions Prov 6:6-8 (MSG)

Living in New England, I’ve been to the ocean many times in my life but if I let my eyes gaze to the end of the horizon, it allows me to see past my present place , to imagine what lies past the edges and what creatures live beneath the sea. Rest, relax and imagine. It sounds silly but people actually go to the seashore during storms. They are drawn by the immense power of the winds and waves and want to experience something bigger than themselves.

In the the Sayings of Agur we read: 18 Three things amaze me, no, four things I’ll never understand— 19 how an eagle flies so high in the sky, how a snake glides over a rock, how a ship navigates the ocean, why adolescents act the way they do. Prov 30:18-19 (MSG)

We can all look up at the moon and stars but there is such a limited view in the city and suburbs. Instead, go to the country side, away from the lights and noise, where the sky is filled with countless stars, vast and unending . Stand still and be amazed at the beautiful expanse of the heavens.

O, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder. Consider all the works Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power thru-out the universe displayed. Then sings my soul….. from How Great Thou Art

The Pandemic crisis caused many of us to shut down and focus inward. We have been bombarded by negative media and statistics as well as many real losses. As we regain a sense of normality put down your tablets and lists, look up and around. This is an act of soul care that is FREE – to stop, deep breathe and count blessings instead of losses. Do not lose the joy of wonder.

Other verses to read: Job 38, Psalm 104, Psalm 139,

Are You A Percolator Christian?

Are You A Percolator Christian?

I love a good cup of coffee and we are Dunkin’ fans in my house. Did you know that after the Boston Tea Party in 1773, drinking tea became an unpatriotic act and sealed coffee’s fate in America?

It only takes a few minutes on Google to learn there are at least five official ways to brew coffee and thousands of opinions as to what is the best brand and method. The coffee culture has seen a lot of evolution and advancement in how we make our coffee and the devices available. The making of coffee is a serious business to connoisseurs and baristas alike.

In the movie The Bucket List, billionaire Edward Cole was handed an article about his beloved Kopi Luwak coffee which is widely considered the most expensive in the world.  In the Sumatran village, where the beans are grown, the wild Palm Civet eats and digests the fruit then defecates the beans. The villagers then collect and process the stools. It is the combination of the beans and the gastric juices of the tree cat that give Kopi Luwac its unique flavor and aroma.  (This is all true, but I won’t be buying it at over $100-600 a pound.) 

A coffee percolator is a type of pot used for the brewing of coffee by continually cycling the boiling or nearly boiling brew through the grounds using gravity until the required strength is reached. They can be manual – used on the stove top – or electric. I often use a large electric percolator when we are entertaining. Coffee percolators once enjoyed great popularity but were supplanted in the early 1970’s by automatic drip coffee makers. (We love our programmable one.)

I can honestly say my love for God’s Word is far greater than my love of coffee but I know I should spend more time “cycling through” or meditating on the context rather than reading on autopilot.  Reading through a passage several times gives a much deeper insight into how I should apply it to my current situation.

  but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalms 1:2 (ESV)

 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.  Psalms 119:130

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.    2 Tim 3:16-17

Invented in 1929, the French Press method is widely considered as the best and easiest method for brewing superior and consistent coffee. In a press pot, ground coffee is soaked, steeped and strained in hot water; therefore the flavorful essential oils, caffeine and antioxidants are better diffused and preserved.

Due to the Covid 19 shutdown I missed several opportunities for being soaked in God’s word and spending time with other believers. A Christian family camp and a writer’s retreat are two places where I feel God’s word being poured over me in very different ways. When I spend more quiet time away from the daily grind to steep in His Word I feel refreshed and renewed. Time away can help “the essentials diffuse and be better preserved” in my heart and mind.

Do you automatically make time for reading the Bible as a daily habit just like drinking your coffee (or tea)?  They say that coffee is a healthy antioxidant for the body but God’s Word can lift your spirits and strengthen your inner heart. I challenge you to make some time and space to let the words percolate in your mind and pour over your soul this week. 

 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.       Psalms 19:14 (ESV)

Rushing or Trusting

Rushing or Trusting

Every year it seems the holiday commercials, decorations and sales start earlier and earlier. This pushy commercialism actually takes away from our joy because we all know that money buys toys but not happiness. This fall it seems my friends are pushing towards Christmas not to celebrate but just to decorate. One friend did most of her shopping this summer and another put up all her Christmas decorations in the yard right after Halloween because it made her happy. But will it really?

This year has been filled with anxiety, depression and fear due to the Pandemic. Our daily lives have been turned upside down by something we never experienced before. I am just wondering if we are trying to rush through the holidays to reach 2021 hoping that when we turn the calendar everything will be “normal”. If so, it will only bring more pressure to our weary souls.

Dr. Libby Weaver has published a book called, “Rushing Woman’s Syndrome”. Rushing through tasks is actually killing us. We get overwhelmed, fatigued, eat poorly, don’t sleep well and then wonder what’s wrong. We were not designed to live at this pace . Everyone is given 24 hours a day, seven days each week and God gave us the Sabbath to REST, which most of us don’t take.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matt 6:34 (ESV)

I feel the pull to rush and it makes me anxious. So I am trying hard to enjoy little things each day as they come. In reality, with Covid 19 restrictions, I have plenty of time and no where far to go. When I look out the window to watch the birds activity and the leaves change I try to see a world bigger than just myself. Our attitude needs to be one of gratitude for what we have right now, not worrying about what might happen. Joy is stolen by worry and worry blocks trust.

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Matt 6:26-27

 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: Eccl 3:1 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Eccl 3:11

Our Heavenly Father is watching over us and knows exactly what is going on down here on planet earth. He hears our every prayer and sees every tear and tells us that we can lean on Him when we don’t understand the circumstances around us. (Prov. 3: 5&6) God knows when a vaccine will be ready and this virus gone. We know this years’ holiday season will be very different from the past in many ways. Gatherings are limited, parties will not be happening and for some a loved one will be missing this year. But we can use technology for our benefit and enjoy the little blessings along the way.

There is no need to rush. Life goes by too fast. So let us pause and breathe and trust and rest in His love and grace for each day.

Are You Weary?

Are You Weary?

Somedays I am so weary – not necessarily sleepy, although a nap wouldn’t hurt. I am just “sick and tired of feeling sick and tired”. Although I do have underlying health issues, I am sleeping okay and not to achy. I think it is this “Covid fog” we are all experiencing. The new normal is not normal – I feel stuck! I wear my mask, wash my hands and try to be cautious in where I go. We took day trips but missed going on a few real vacations we were looking forward to. I know that I really shouldn’t complain because all of our needs have been met. Life really is good – I think I am just weary.

What is a weary person? 1:exhausted in strength, endurance, vigor, or freshness. 2: expressing or characteristic of weariness a weary sign. 3: having one’s patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted – used with of soon grew weary of waiting. ( http://www.yourdictionary.com) It is someone who is bushed, burnt out, drained, drowsy and dog tired; Frazzled, fatigued, pooped, sapped, tuckered out and wacked. I am sure many of you can identify with these feelings.

The 2to1 conference explains the difference between tired and weary. “A weary person deserves to rest. Weary implies the subject is tired because they were beaten down by something. Tired implies you didn’t get enough sleep. Weariness is a temporary feeling of low energy and tiredness.” The book of Matthew promises that you are not alone. If we confess our weariness to the Lord He will send comfort. This doesn’t mean our circumstances will change but we may feel a supernatural peace to help us push onward in the face of weariness.

Here are five promises for weariness:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.29 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. Matt 11:28-29

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. Isaiah 40:28

 But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Gal 6:9