Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts
Showing posts with label safety. Show all posts

Jan 30, 2014

Lessons from a Hummingbird

When a hummingbird builds a nest, the bird does not think ahead of time, "I will build a beautiful nest." She instinctively gathers tiny sticks, feathers, and soft things that please her, mindfully and enjoyably doing what is natural, just one pleasing piece at a time. And then, as if by magic, a beautiful, safe nest is created by God.


"Do you think lightly of the riches of [God's] kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness  [safeness, love, goodness and beauty] of God leads you to repentance?" (Romans 2:4 - words in brackets mine)
When we see that God is tender, and become still with that safeness, and do just one thing mindfully in freedom and faith, we effortlessly build something beautiful from God. 

May 30, 2013

Dwelling in Safety

In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, Lord, 
 make me dwell in safety. 
Psalm 4:8 (NIV)
Notice this verse says we dwell in safety. God doesn't just keep us safe, he envelopes us in safety. Dictionary.com defines "dwell" in this way:
to live or stay as a permanent resident; reside
Safety is all around us. We "live, and move, and have our being" in safety (Acts 17:28). Above us, beneath us, in front and behind, it is there. We breathe safety.

Abba, may we rest in you. Amen.


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Feb 21, 2010

Disapproval


I used to be a real people pleaser. At almost 50, I'm largely over that, but a residue remains. When it rears its ugly head, I have a weapon now that gives me great comfort. It's Romans 8:33-34. The last part of v. 33 and the first part of v.34 read:

"It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns?"

In other words, God, the Creator of the universe, justifies me--declares me innocent and acceptable by the blood of Christ. So what is the opinion of a mere mortal? That opinion is a puff of steam--dust--even if I am the one condemning myself! God accepts me; who is he that condemns!

So when someone disapproves of me, I say over and over to myself, "God is the one who justifies. Who is he that condemns? ... God is the one who justifies. Who is he that condemns?" And it comforts me. Then, satisfied with my Creator's approval, I turn the situation over to Him.

Blessings,
Flowers
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Jun 28, 2009

The Abyss


The date is Wed, November 30, 1994. I see myself living my life precariously close to the edge of a great precipice, an abyss. Part of me is constantly struggling, desperately scrambling to keep from falling in. I'm right on the edge and the rocks are giving way under my feet. I'm slipping, slipping, and using all my strength to keep from falling and plunging eternally downward. I'm driven by a great fear, not only of falling, but of the part of myself that actually wants to take the plunge. It seems as though there are forces inside me, all around me, that would drag me over the edge. If I give up the struggle, even for a moment, I'll go over.
The abyss is the chasm of total moral depravity. The struggle is one I share with many who would depend on their own efforts to live righteously, to keep from sin, to get to God. But of course, it is a struggle of complete futility. Christ has picked me up, like a lost lamb, and is holding me safe in His arms, never to let go.

Isaiah 40:11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

John 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

Romans 9:16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

Hebrews 4:10 For anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.

I haven't scrambled on the edge of that abyss for many years now. I can encourage you, if you are there, God has peace waiting for you.

Blessings,
Flowers
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Image: The Silver Bear Cafe

Jun 20, 2009

You are safe!


I used to be terrified of losing my salvation. Years ago, God brought me to a total peace about it, for which I am quite grateful. I was reminded of this fear as I read Hebrews 6:4-9 this morning. I've always found it scary, but today, some things became apparent to me that I had never seen before. In a casual reading of the text it seems as if the author is talking about someone who is saved, who has committed her life to Christ, and then is lost. But I believe it is a warning, not to believers, but to unbelievers disguised in the Church. I have inserted a few notes of my own in [brackets] below:


Hebrews 6:4-9

4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened [understood], who have tasted [but not eaten] the heavenly gift, who have shared in [but not received] the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted [but not eaten] the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away [see1 John 2:19 below], to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful [fruit of salvation] to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles [fruit of the lost] is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

9Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. [In other words, "We wrote down this warning but it is not for you (believers) but for those among you who do not have salvation.]

1 John 2:19

19They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.



It became abundantly clear to me that Hebrews 6:4-9 is a warning to the lost, not the saved. Being enlightened is not being saved. Tasting is not eating. If a starving man only tastes food he will die. These are people who know the Truth, but never received it and never bore fruit.

If you are wavering or exploring the faith, this is not about you either. This text refers to someone who fully understands all the wonders of salvation and then lives their entire life in unbelief.

I realize this text is controversial, however, a well-accepted rule of hermeneutics is to interpret the unclear in light of the clear. What could be more clear than the following verse:


John 10:27-28

27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.


In the original Greek, "no one" is emphatic. It means "no one, in no way, never!" "No one" includes ourselves. Be at peace for you are safe.


Blessings,
Flowers
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Image: Neo-Gen Mixed Martial Arts

Jun 10, 2009

Pink stuff


As many of you know, we have a cat named Ladybug. We adore her. When she comes up and asks for pets or a treat, we are glad to oblige; it gives us pleasure to see her happy and content.

There was a time, though, when Ladybug was sick and I had to give her horrible pink bubble-gum-flavored medicine. She hated it. I’m sure that if she could talk she would have said, “NOOOOO!!! Come on, when was the last time you saw a cat chewing bubble gum? Please not the pink stuff; anything but the pink stuff!” But that was a request we could not accommodate, because if she didn’t take her medicine, something much worse than being forced to swallow the pink stuff could happen to her.

It’s important to note here that I took no pleasure in Ladybug’s suffering. Our episodes with the pink stuff tore at my heart. It would be unthinkable for me to make her suffer that way unless it was for a very important reason.

Somehow Ladybug sensed my good intentions. When I told her it was time for her medicine, she crouched, stiffened with dread, and dug into the carpet as if to hold on for dear life. But she let me pick her up. She didn’t run. Ladybug trusted me and knew I was trying to help her -- even though I think she believed I was stupid and terribly misguided in the way I went about it!

I can’t describe the pleasure I got from knowing that she trusted me anyway.

In the same way, we give God pleasure when we trust Him even through the hard times. My compassion for our cat is nothing in comparison to the infinite compassion of God. As Jesus said, "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

Our Father’s will for us is always “good, pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2), although occasionally that good is disguised in the form of “pink stuff.” We can be certain that if the Father doesn’t give us what we want, He will give us something even better.

Blessings,
Flowers
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Jun 3, 2009

A vapor in the hand


It is vain to try to hold on to the gifts of the Lord, for example, peace and joy, or maybe even His teachings sometimes. They are like like vapors that disperse in our grasp. We can only enjoy them with an open hand.

Perhaps in this way we know they come from God and not ourselves.

There is one place we can be as possessive as we want — as clingy and desperate and hungry and greedy as our hearts desire. That is with God Himself. The only thing we can possess* is the One Thing that can never be taken away from us — Who is Jesus Christ Himself! (Ezekiel 44:28, Deuteronomy 4:29; Hosea 6:3 Amplified; John 10:28)

With Him, we can indulge that needy part of ourselves with abandon. Anywhere else, it’s idolatry.

Blessings,
Flowers
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*God can only be "possessed" by those He willingly gives Himself to. And Christ will gladly give Himself to anyone who will receive Him by faith!

PHOTO:
H19 on Flickr

May 9, 2009

The Problem of the Door

God is our Fortress. That isn't really news.

But think of it this way. God is all-powerful so nothing is strong enough to break through. God is everywhere-present so nothing can get around Him to get to us. God is even inside us and can protect us from ourselves. He will never leave us nor forsake us, so the fortress can never be removed. And finally, nothing can stand against Him or thwart His will (Daniel 4:35; 2 Chronicles 20:6).

Keep these things in mind and look at this Scripture:

Psalm 18:2
The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

So, what have we to fear?

We fear the door.


This is my problem. Sometimes God opens a door in the fortress and allows evil in. There is so much good in our lives that we know it isn't very often. Even though I am protected over and over, day after day, that tiny door of suffering makes me afraid to trust the Fortress sometimes. My question to you is:

What do you do with the door?

In your mind and emotions, and with your faith: What do you do with the door? How do you get through the suffering in your life? What do you do with the problem of evil? Romans 8:28 promises that God will only open it for our good. But often I just don't want to go through the bad to get to the good. I'm calling a locksmith!

I would love it if you would leave a comment with your thoughts.

Peace to you,
Flowers
Come visit us at warrenfamilylife.com

PHOTO: Fort Pulaski Door by Rachel Pennington. " Looking up at one of the huge doors into the fort, Savannah, Georgia, USA"

May 6, 2009

The Gospel According to Snoopy


American Heritage defines joy as: "Intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness."

Isn't that radical!?! I've heard a lot of teaching about the difference between happiness (bad and fleeting) and joy (good and lasting); teaching that left me confused and, frankly, afraid of either. I'm going to step out and say that I don't believe there is a significant theological difference between joy and happiness. God wants us to have both!

As Christians, with the warnings about sinful pleasure in the Bible (Proverbs 10:23), we get afraid of ANY pleasure. But just like Snoopy here, God wants us to seek pleasure relentlessly and unashamedly -- godly pleasure, that is (Matthew 13:44; Psalm 16:11). For me, maybe it's being out in nature, enjoying time with my doggies, talking to you about God-things, the satisfaction of a job well done, or a just good cup of coffee with my feet up.

Joy is a command with an explanation point (Philippians 4:4). Even Jesus, our example, endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2b). Perhaps our greatest joy is found in what we suffer for Christ (1 Peter 4:13). We don't need to be afraid that unashamedly seeking pleasure and satisfaction will lead us astray. It leads us straight into the heart of God, the most satisfying Source of joy!


Ecclesiastes 3:12
I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.

Blessings,
Flowers
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Dec 31, 2008

My Faulty, Puny Image of God


Is our God big enough? Theologically, yes. But because I cannot wrap my human mind around Infinity, my image of God is, frankly, marred. That's where faith comes in because it is in the Unseen, the unfathomable.

My faulty, puny image of God causes me much unnecessary anxiety. I am presently faced with a choice about an upcoming trip. Most people would be envious of our destination. It dropped into our laps practically for free. We have been scrimping and saving in bits and pieces for over a year to have spending money. If I miss it, I will be throwing away a rare opportunity and deeply disappointing the person who loves me most.

But I have a chronic illness that for some reason is aggravated by travel. Thanks to the limitations of traveling via frequent flier miles, this trip has a rigorous start: 3 days and 4 cities to get there. My gut tells me I'm gonna bonk. My husband tells me I'm setting myself up to fail. My God tells me that if I miss Plan A, he has Plan B ready and waiting, full of favor and grace and perhaps even more glorious than Plan A.

Please allow me to wax theological for just a moment: We can never get around God's will. But He has what I believe theologians call a "perfect" will and a "permissive" will: Plan A and Plan B.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve missed Plan A. They sinned and ruined it. Plan A was for them to populate the earth with good, kind people who had never fallen and to set up God's glorious Kingdom full of light and love right on this planet. That didn't happen.

But in my humble opinion, Plan B, set up from before the beginning of time, is even more glorious. God became flesh and dwelt among us. He died a criminal's death for you and me: By one beautiful, horrific sacrifice Christ atoned for all men, for all sin, for all time. God's Son was raised again to sit at the right hand of God and will one day come again to defeat evil once and for all. He will rule with power and set up that perfect Kingdom on a New Earth where pain and loneliness and decay and suffering are demolished forever. God has revealed, and will continue to demonstrate to a watching universe who would never have known otherwise, His infinite love and kindness by the death, resurrection, and ascension of His Son.

OK, theology lesson over.

Now back to my trip -- and any decision you may be facing. Many years ago, I took a trip that made me so sick that I could have died. Other trips have left me confined to bed for months. Some have had no ill effect at all. (You can understand why I feel like I'm playing Russian Roulette here. Don't want to miss God's will on this one!)

What if I had discerned and chosen Plan A and not traveled at the wrong time on the wrong trip that made me so sick. What if I had never made some of the other choices that led to the development of my illness. I could have had a much easier life. But I never would have had the depth of compassion and understanding that I do now. I wouldn't have the ability to look across a room and see the pain that someone was hiding inside. I wouldn't have insight and hope to offer others who have suffered. There is no way I would know God in the intimate tender way that He has revealed Himself to me, and I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog. I believe I would be of much less use to God in general.

So maybe Plan B is Plan A after all. Maybe we're not big enough to screw up God's will for our lives. Maybe it all does turn out for the best even if it doesn't feel like it in the moment. Maybe the world is safe because God has it all under control. Maybe I am safe. Maybe, even if the worst happens, I'll be glad about it one day.

Maybe God is big enough. And maybe you and I can both dare to believe it!

With love,

Flowers
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Oct 20, 2008

How God Feels About Suffering


November 9, 1999 ... I felt like it was the most cruel and unfair thing that had ever happened to me, like God had betrayed me. I just realized tonight, that at that moment, I stopped believing in God's goodness and tenderness toward me. That's the exact moment when I stopped experiencing that vital, intimate love affair with my Papa God. That’s when my quiet times stopped being fulfilling. That’s when my mid-life crisis started: months of depression and disillusionment with life. And I have been disillusioned with God ever since. But I didn't know exactly why until tonight.

Tonight I reminded myself of the things that got me through the suffering when the arthritis was bad: that God would never, never, never let me, his precious child, go through something like this, except for a VERY IMPORTANT reason, a reason that I would even choose for myself if I knew what God knows. God had to do it; it was vital. But at the same time, He hated doing it. It caused Him more pain than it caused me, to let it happen. He cries with me. It rips His heart out.

Could you pray that God will re-establish the truth of his love, goodness, and tenderness toward me again deep in my heart? God has been my Lover, my Husband, my Brother, my Papa--even the Eagle who gathers and shields me underneath its feathers. I can be strong if I know He loves me. But the flesh and the enemy can steal it away in a heartbeat. I want that relationship back with Him.

October 20, 2008 ... Although I am past most of this now, I am still not experiencing the passion that I had with God before. I am in a season where He is showing me how to follow blind--to walk by faith instead of feeling.

Whenever I begin to question, I look at that old rugged cross. This amazing sacrifice that Christ made for me settles the matter of, "Does God really love me?" once and for all time.

Peace to you my dear friend,

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Oct 16, 2008

You Cannot Lose My Love

video

Purple HeartYou will lose your baby teeth;
At times you'll lose your faith in Me.
You will lose a lot of things,
But you cannot lose my love.

Purple HeartYou may lose your appetite,
Your guiding sense of wrong and right,
You may lose your will to fight,
But you cannot lose my love.

Purple HeartYou will lose your confidence,
In times of trial your common sense,
You may lose your innocence,
But you cannot lose my love.

Purple HeartMany things can be misplaced,
Your very memories be erased,
No matter what the time or space,
You cannot lose my love.

Purple HeartYou cannot lose...
You cannot lose...
You cannot lose my love.
This is my one of my favorite songs by Sara Groves from her album, "All Right Here." I pray it is a blessing to you. (MP3 available at Amazon.com)

Peace to you,

Cyndi Warren

FlowersCome visit us at www.warrenfamilylife.com
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