To Soar Like An Eagle

For some reason this morning, a treasured memory has flooded my mind and heart. Last April on the 23rd., Kevin and I were blessed to spend several hours with some great friends just before they returned to minister in Europe and in Israel. Our first stop was a quaint coffee shop with a great view of the Chattahoochee River. We purchased our coffee and made our way outside to enjoy the beautiful scenery from the bank of the river. As we chatted and caught up a bit on each other’s lives, something grabbed all our attention. Right in front of our eyes, up in a perfectly blue sky, soaring over the river right in front of us were five beautiful bald eagles circling around in front of us. After circling a few times they began to fly away. Kevin and I have been to this very spot a number of times, never have we seen even one eagle and this day there were five! It was an amazing sight to behold, sitting in quietness with special friends who we don’t get to see near enough, listening to the rushing of the waters and seeing that majestic sight. What a great way to start off our visit; what a great memory!

Eagles are Beautiful and interesting creatures. Here are just a few facts about them…

  • Eagles are powerful birds of prey.
  • They have hooked beaks and powerful talons to hunt prey.
  • There are over 60 species.
  • They build their nests on high cliffs or in tall trees. Bald eagle nests can weigh as much as a ton.
  • Some eagles hunt animals as large as a young deer.

Credit to:  Science kids.co.nz

  • They have very sharp eye sight, perhaps among the best of all other species.
  • Bald eagles are known for spectacular aerial shows.
  • Considered symbols of power, transcendence, and freedom.

Credit to: Onekind.org

  • Mate for life; Once pared together, bald eagles remain together until one of them dies. Life span-20-30 years
  • Most are approximately 3 feet long with wings spans of 6-7 feet and weigh 10 to 14 pounds.

Credit to:  defenders.org

Eagles are mentioned in scripture between 31 to 34 times depending on which translation you may be reading. Some scriptures compare God to a mighty eagle, others may refer to His enemy as an eagle. Perhaps one of the most quoted verses about eagles is Isaiah 41:30-31 “Youths may faint and grow weary,and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.”

What a beautiful picture that paints for us! It is truly a beautiful sight to watch an eagle soar up high, whether it is one or five! Just think…His Word tells us that we can soar on wings like eagles when we trust in Him; when we wait upon Him. He promises to renew our strength, that we will soar; run and not grow weary; walk and not faint… What a promise! We exchange our worry and doubt for trusting God and the benefits are beyond most of our expectations! We can be refreshed, renewed, and we can soar above our circumstances just by trusting God with our lives and our circumstances.

This is my hope and prayer for us for 2015: to trust God more; make Isaiah 40:31 more of a reality in our lives; to dig deeper and go deeper with God; to leave our cares with Him and trust Him to even turn the tough things in life into something beautiful and that He will cause us to be able to soar!  Don’ s words from that afternoon, as best I remember were… “May you soar above any turbulent waters and may you be found standing on a rock in the middle of the river holding a cup to catch the blessings when the blessings are flowing all around.” What a blessing to speak over your friends, and may it be so for each of us as we enter this brand new year! May God take us to a place of deeper relationship and deeper trust.  May we both give and receive mercy and may we be overwhelmed by His grace and peace.

Illusion or Reality

      There is a mind-set floating boldly through our culture that began very subtly and over time has taken hold in almost every possible area of our lives. Some of its slogans are now pronounced very boldly and dare to be challenged. They have masqueraded as subtle statements like “the world is your oyster” to proclamations that you can have it all; be it all; and do it all. 

     Perhaps these sayings and those like it were meant to encourage us, empower us to be better, challenge us to reach further, climb higher and to motivate us to stretch ourselves. Sadly, they also hold potential like everything in life  to be carried  to far and turn from a positive encouraging word into a dangerous, reckless way of life. Without balance in the above statements, we may find ourselves believing in our own self-sufficiency and leaving broken relationships in the wake we leave behind.  Maybe an example is in order. Let’s consider tenacious pursuit of a goal. Tenacious is defined as patient, persistent, resolute, tireless, unshakeable. Being tenacious when pursuing something can be a strength. It can be an admirable quality, however this same quality can turn into stubbornness, a hazard and a quality that can do much harm and damage to both ourself and others when we become so focused on a goal that all else is forgotten and left in the dust. When taken to the extreme, relationships and responsibilities can be risked and much is at stake for being lost. Just as most things in life,  the key is balance, keeping our perspective and having realistic expectations for both ourselves and others.

      My scripture reading highlighted this for me today. Sometimes we choose to see God through our current circumstances only, refusing to remember His past actions in our life or forgetting to hold on to the promises that He has given us. In those times tunnel vision takes over and balance is very often lost. Sometimes we lose track of the greatness of God and His goodness. Sometimes we can’t see past ourselves or our troubles; we forget who He is and how powerful God is. It is in these times we may tend to forget His faithfulness to us, forget to run to Him for our solutions and try to ‘fix’ things ourselves.  It doesn’t typically turn out in my best interest when this happens to me! Time and experience are teaching me it is always in my best interest to remember to seek Him, seek His wisdom, His Word, His comfort, and His direction rather than trying to ‘fix’ it myself! 

Isaiah 40:6-31 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain. And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. The grass withers, the flower fades; nothing lasts except the word of our God.It will stand forever. 

     A voice was saying, “Cry out!” Another said, “What should I cry out?”  “All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; nothing lasts except the word of  our God.   It will stand forever.   Zion, herald of good news, go up on a high mountain.  Jerusalem, herald of good news, raise your voice loudly. Raise it, do not be afraid!  Say to the cities of Judah,“Here is your God!”   See, the Lord God comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule.  His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him.  He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment.  He gently leads those that are nursing. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand?  Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure or weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in the scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?  Who did He consult with?  Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice?  Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

 Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are considered as a speck of dust in the scales; He lifts up the islands like fine dust. Lebanon is not enough for fuel, or its animals enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are considered by Him as nothingness and emptiness.  

Who will you compare God with? What likeness will you compare Him to? To an idol?—something that a smelter casts, and a metalworker plates with gold and makes silver welds for it? To one who shapes a pedestal, choosing wood that does not rot? He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not fall over. 

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?  Have you not considered the  foundations of the earth? God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.  He reduces princes to nothing and makes judges of the earth irrational. They are barely planted, barely sown, their stem hardly takes root in the ground when He blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind carries them away like stubble. 

“Who will you compare Me to, or who is My equal?” asks the Holy One. Look up and see: who created these?  He brings out the starry host by number; He calls all of them by name.  Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.  Jacob, why do you say, and Israel, why do you assert:  “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my claim is ignored by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard?  Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.  He gives strength to the weary and  strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

          How easy it is to get wrapped up in our lives and circumstances!  How easy it is to get overwhelmed by our needs, our lack, our struggles. Sadly, sometimes it doesn’t take that much to make us lose sight of God’s goodness, power, past provision and love.  This passage  shows God’s desire for the comfort of His people; for their freedom from bondage. He is making His way to them/us, His reward and gifts are with Him. Who indeed is like our God?  Do we dare become so traumatized or so wrapped up in our own lives, agenda, desires, pursuits that we forget Him? Our lives are like grass.   In comparison to His greatness, we are as grasshoppers; our good deeds like filthy rags compared to His great goodness! Do we dare exalt ourselves and allow Him to be pushed to the back seat of our  lives? It can happen you know!  Do  we dare forget Him until things get tough and then suddenly realize how desperately we need Him?  Lord, may it not be so!  May  we,  Your children-Your sons and daughters, exalt You above all else in our lives knowing that when we do, all else begins to fall into right alignment. Help us to depend on You to guide us, free us, restore, renew, and regenerate us and not get trapped by the illusions the enemy sets before us as a trap to ensnare.

Why Do I Love the Word?

What an interesting question that was posed today in the current Bible study I am doing! Why do you love God’s Word? It was followed with this proposal…consider a friend or acquaintance asked you this question because they did not understand your love for the Bible and you were too taken off guard to respond at the time. Now, you sit down to write a note or letter to explain… How would you explain? So here goes lets give it a try…

 

Dear Friend,

I was taken aback a bit by your question today and needed a little time to process

your inquiry because many emotions rose up within me at that moment. Too many to

put into words immediately.  God’s Word is life and health to me! Without it, I would

not be the person I am… I probably would not be alive and certainly would not even

resemble the person you know.  His Word has been the source of strength to carry on in

the darkest of days, when sorrow, grief and loss were so very overwhelming that easily I

could have crawled into a dark hole, given up and disappeared. It has brought comfort

and peace in the most frightening of times; it has been my source of encouragement

when all seemed lost and I felt totally alone; it has been a well of hope springing up in

the driest of deserts; a balm to heal my heart when it has been wounded or too heartsick

to even move. His Word has been freedom to a soul held captive by her circumstances

and it has flooded joy into a heart teaching me that joy is available even in the times

where happiness is elusive and circumstances are challenging. When I have been wise, it

has offered me the keys to navigate through every passage on this journey of life. When I

have been foolish, He has drawn me back to it to lovingly shine light on the areas that

could have been better navigated and teach me better ways for the future.  Yes, it is life;

strength; comfort; peace; encouragement; healing; freedom; joy; direction; and

instruction. God’s Word also displays my Father’s character, shows the greatness of His

love, and tells me who I am In Christ. In Him, we are called friend; son or daughter;

beloved; accepted; redeemed; justified; set apart; precious; blameless; chosen; and

kings and priests…just to name a few. It contains everything needed to live a victorious

life and to avoid the pitfalls life tends to throw our way. It is a precious gift and a much

needed tool for my life.  Dear friend, I hope this at least in part answers your question

and thank you! for challenging me with this question. It is good to be challenged; to be

able put words to such deeply felt emotions and beliefs and to bring to remembrance

why we hold something or someone so dear and precious. It keeps it fresh to us and

prevents us from taking it for granted!

 

Grace and peace to you my friend!

Days of Grace-Day 30

       One of the greatest blessings in my life has been learning to look for grace in unexpected places. It may also be one of the hardest lessons that I have learned.  There are typically two types of learners when it comes to these things; the ones who learn by watching or hearing of the experiences of others and those who have to actually go through something in order to learn from it and move on.  I don’t know about you, but I have been seated in both of those seats and I would much rather learn from others if I have that option. 

     I would like us to take a look at a specific passage today that has meant a lot to me over the last ten years. Although grace is only mentioned once in the passage’s greeting, it is all about the grace and favor available to us through our relationship with Christ.  For me personally, this passage came very alive at a time in my life when I felt that the floor had been snatched right from under me and that life as I knew it would never be the same.  Hope was greatly in question and it was emotional pain like I had never known.  I had absolutely no idea how I would navigate the future because I could not even imagine getting past this one moment; how could I find my footing and try to stand, much less try to take a step forward into the future. Everything had changed in a moment and ‘normal’ and ‘comfortable’ looked like it was gone forever. I know how dramatic that sounds, but you can ask my husband, I am not a dramatic person by nature.

     We all experiences difficult times at some point in our life and it is often accompanied by pain. Pain is very relative. What I mean is if the greatest physical pain we have ever experienced is a severely inflamed hang nail, then for us that is the greatest pain. Likewise, for the one who has experienced the pain of giant kidney stones or multiple broken bones from an accident, the first persons pain is quite small. To be fair to all, we have to realize that pain is relative to what we have experienced. That first person will never understand the greater pain until they either experience it or see someone they love experience it.

Before I continue, Let me share the scripture passage:

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:1-5

     So, here I am on the possibly the hardest night on my life, free-falling and not in a good way. (no parachute) What does one do when the worst thing they could imagine happens?  How does one deal with it? I can only share with you what got me through that night and the weeks, months and couple of years that followed in hopes it might bring help and comfort if you ever find yourself in this situation. I found myself in a place that no individual could help me or bring comfort. I grabbed my Bible and kneeled on the living room floor with it open on the couch in front of me, laid my head on it and cried. I cried hard and loud as I cried out to the only One who could begin to understand and could change what was happening. I begged to know what I did that could have triggered or caused the events, how they could have been prevented…no answers. I was there for hours praying, waiting, listening until the wee hours. No answer came but in time a peacefulness began to seep into my heart little by little. In a while I was able to ask God to lead me to some scriptures to help me; He did. My peace increased; circumstances were the same. After hours, my heart calmed. Nothing had changed except I knew beyond a doubt that God was with me, He had the answers; He would take care of me even if nothing changed, I would be alright in time.  I also got up from that place with an assurance that everything would be ok. It might be different, but it would be restored at some point.  It was resolved in my heart that no matter what, I could trust my God.

     My challenge to you is this; when you find yourself in one of those tough spots in life that tend to come around unexpectedly, turn to Him. The above passage promises abundant comfort. It also promises that when we have endured and found His comfort we are then equipped to be able to use that which we learned in our struggle to comfort others who may be going through a similar struggle. This is just one of the ways our trials and difficulties can be redeemed and we can learn to say like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.” Job 13:15a

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord
for the display of His splendor.They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated  Isaiah 61:1-4

My friends, grace and peace to you in the Name of the Lord Jesus!!