Category Archives: Deeper Trust

Successful Failure: Part II

What is success for you?

“. . . This is what the LORD says: ‘When people fall down, don’t they get up again? When someone turns away, do they not return?’ ”

Jeremiah 8:4 New Living translation

How do you view success? Do you see it differently for others than you see it for yourself? Can you recall a time when you failed? How did you respond? Can you recall a time when you felt you succeeded?

In 1987 my father died suddenly. I was 24. My mother needed support financially and emotionally. I decided I should take care of her. We tried to sell her house and move where she could walk to work since she didn’t drive. It was a disaster and two years later I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to move out. I failed in my plan to take care of my mother. I certainly didn’t FEEL like a success.

As I explained in Part I, I feared failure and any sort of risk. I lacked the knowledge and experience of independent living apart from renting a room when I moved away from home at 19. As with any new venture, alot of unknowns accompanied having my own place. But I was desperate to be independent and I chalked up the failure with my mom to lack of planning. I was not gonna let that happen again.

So I carefully counted the cost of moving out on my own. (Luke 14:28) After doing my homework and seeing my budget on paper I felt a degree of confidence. I prayed and moved forward finding a snug 2 bedroom apartment the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

Scheduled to move at the end of January made it difficult to find volunteers to help me. I didn’t have much money but I remembered I had an insurance policy I received when my father died. He had taken it out when I was born. I figured my first apartment was cause for cashing it in to help with the move.

The Prudential building intimidated me with its vastness. The insurance agent who handled my policy seemed kind and trustworthy. When he found out why I was cashing in my policy, he asked if I had help to move. I told him “No” and he immediately made some calls. He told me he and a few friends from church would help. Yes, I was naive to trust a stranger but I had no one else and so I trusted God’s provision.

The night of my move two big flat bed trucks arrived right on time. Two men and the insurance guy made short work of loading all my belongings onto the trucks. My middle brother also lived at my Mom’s and he sat on the sofa and watched while these men carried my possessions passed him time and again. He never lifted a finger to help and as I carried a box out, he said, “You’ll never make it.”

He said it with such a sneer that the pain shot deep in my heart. I could never forget his words and lack of confidence in my ability. Inspite of what he said, the Lord helped me to live successfully for 12 years in that apartment and then go on to buy my own house.

That failure with my mother became a bundle of lessons learned to help me move forward to succeed on my own. I worked hard through the lean times. I sacrificed when necessary. And no bills were ever late or unpaid. I felt good about what I had accomplished, just me and Jesus.

We can turn every failure into success with perseverance and the Lord’s help. Or put another way; “Whenever you fall, do it forward and get up again as soon as possible.”

So what is your definition of success? Please feel free to share it in the comment section. Here’s my favorite definition of success;

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Shine on. . .
karan k

Breaking the Chains of Loneliness part III: Dating God?

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 New American Standard version

Dating God. . . let that sink in. Have you ever thought of Him this way? He desires us to know Him, to pursue Him, to spend time with Him. Isn’t that what we do when we date someone? We want to know all about them. Their past and childhood. What they value. What goals they have, etcetera.

To discover the answers and who this person is requires time and effort. It’s the same to get to know God. For someone who is lonely, the time and effort aspect can be difficult because you struggle to see beyond your own pain. This is the “chain” of loneliness. It’s a bondage the enemy uses to weight and drown us into the sea of despair. The chain must be broken by faith. By trusting God and doing things His way, all the way.

Read Psalm 34:18 again (opening verse above). Focus on the truth of this verse. The Lord IS near to the brokenhearted. If you are suffering from loneliness, you definitely qualify as brokenhearted. So the Lord IS near you. That’s the reality the enemy wants to hide from you. Break the chain by refusing to believe anything but the truth that God IS NEAR YOU!!! Then in faith act on that truth.

Begin by dating God. Sounds a bit strange but it helped me through some very lonely days. Basically, I would pick a place and off we’d go.

 

A park date consisted of packing a picnic lunch, a blanket and my Bible. I drove or walked to a park and found a nice welcoming spot. (Of course this date needed some good weather to succeed.) I’d spread the blanket across the grass, lay out the food and open my Bible. I usually brought a notebook as well to record anything God chose to tell me on our special date. Things He would whisper in my spirit as I sat with Him.

A mall date is good for when the weather is contrary. Pick a comfy seat and people watch with God. Talk about whatever comes to mind. You may want to converse silently in your head while in public places although passersby may assume you’re on a bluetooth.:) Again, take a notebook to record any words He speaks into your heart. You will treasure them later. God may even direct you to a hidden bargain while you’re there.

A similar date can also be done at a bookstore or library. Read books together with God. Ask Him what He thinks about new ideas you discover in the text or just enjoy a novel together KNOWING He is right by your side. Remember Psalm 34:18.

One of my favorite dates was going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom with Him. Sharing the wonders of His living creation with Him was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. Being fully aware of His presence enhanced every ride we took and every show we saw. Similarly, you can do a zoo date or go to a botanical garden with Him.

Remember to talk to Him to and from the date as well because He IS still near you and through His Holy Spirit lives in your heart so you are truly never ever out of His presence. You just have to intentionally be aware of Him.

Tree of Life—Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Florida

These are just some ideas to get you started. If you do this consistently, in time His presence will naturally, or I  should say, supernaturally be a conscious part of every waking moment.

When you’re ready for a deeper understanding and connection find a book on or google THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD to learn more about His character.

Over time your mindset will change but that’s not all. Join FLURISH for part IV of this series to find out more. Until then, start dating and share your ideas so all of us can learn and benefit.

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:7 & 8 New Living translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

Breaking the Chains of Loneliness, part II: First Love

“I love those who love Me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17 English Standard version

Do you remember your First Love? Probably have warm feelings recalling that special someone whenever they come to mind. We all have fond memories of someone even if the person was totally unaware of our affection. Do you realize God wants to be your First Love? It was part of His His divine blueprint.

In the garden of Eden, God created man and woman to know Himself. He created Adam FIRST and then He created Eve. The Bible says He brought her to Adam which means she also knew God FIRST before she met Adam. We don’t know the time frames for when Adam and Eve met but they both knew God, their Creator first.

Adam + Eve

God understands human loneliness. He created Eve because He knew it was not good for Adam to be alone forever. (See Genesis 2:18) So at some point God brought them together after they both knew Him. This remains God’s perfect design. For each man, for each woman to know Him FIRST before they come together as a couple.

If we are lonely as Christians, I believe we should start with pursuing God. Knowing Him intimately first before we try to involve ourselves in deep human relationships will widen the foundation for success from which we build any relationship but especially marriage.  This is true no matter our age. If we plunge ahead driven by loneliness to any source other than God, there will be needless pain involved.

Needless pain resulting from reckless and irresponsible behaviors. Drinking, which can lead to alcoholism, illicit relationships, job loss, DUI arrest and more…Loveless sexual relationships, leaving a person empty, unfulfilled and endlessly searching for more,  not to mention possible unwanted pregnancy, disease or abuse. Compromising convictions and being unequally yoked. What does being “unequally yoked” mean? Involving yourself in a relationship or even marrying someone who is not a believer. There is a long list of negative consequences for the believer who does this, too long to list here. The Bible warns of this in II Corinthians 6:14. All I will say in this writing is, I’ve walked that path and trust me, it does not work! God is not a killjoy…He simply wants to spare you from all this heartache. None of the aforementioned activities are a cure for your loneliness.

In building this foundational relationship with God first through Jesus His Son and His Holy Spirit, you will have your priorities in the proper order. ( Matthew 6:33) Then you can grow as a person and become whole in Him. At the right time, which only He knows, He will bring a partner to you just as He did for Adam, whether it’s a friend or a marriage partner. This process takes time and it’s different for each of us. Remember, healthy people attract healthy people.

God will not be selfish with you. He will not withhold any good thing from you. (Psalm 84:11) He loves you beyond imagination, but He does want what is best for you and so you MUST JUST TRUST Him and His timing.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 New International version

Learn to enjoy your time with Him, your First Love, so all who come into your life will experience the best of you because of who you have become in Him and the time spent with Him. “Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 New International version

As I said earlier, many of us have learned the hard way that attempting to defeat loneliness on our own by chasing human relationships first, ended in pain and heartache. But no matter where we are in life, we can begin the process to date our magnificent God! Stay tuned for part III where I will share some ideas that helped me.

For now increase your faith by reading the story of Ruth and Naomi in the book of Ruth. Ruth chose to learn of God through her mentor, Naomi and in time, the Lord provided a faithful partner for Ruth. A beautiful example of the principle of First Love at work.

Shine on. . .
karan k

“But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” II Peter 3:18 English Standard version

Breaking the Chains of Loneliness part I

 

“I am lonely, like an owl living in the desert, like an owl living among old ruined buildings. I cannot sleep. I am like a lonely bird on the roof.” Psalm 102:6+7 Easy to Read Bible

Heart wrenching seasons of loneliness visit all of us. How do we FLURISH through these times?

As a child I spent a lot of time alone because my siblings were much older and my parents both worked. Every year I dreaded the summer months because it meant being alone for an extended period of time. I enjoyed the social aspect of school and wished it continued year round.

At an early age I recognized and invited Jesus as my Savior to come into my heart. Soon I began making up plays, dramas, dances and songs that I would perform in our backyard to an audience of one. I knew God was watching. I could feel His presence and pleasure. This greatly helped me through the lonely times. So Jesus and I went out to play together as often as possible.

But as I grew older I forgot these precious moments with my heavenly Father. I stopped spending creative times with Him. I even thought at one point in my life that it was just foolish child’s play.

As a young adult I spent 15 years living totally alone. It became agonizing at times. Then one day I remembered the loveliness of the moments spent as a child dancing and singing in His presence where I could be my complete self. Loved for exactly who I was. I realized what I did as a child was not foolish but something led by God. I needed to lay down my pride and begin to recognize His presence and respond to Him as I did when I was young.

I began believing what the Bible says; He is ALWAYS with us. (Matthew 28:20b) The Bible also says to “Never stop praying” in I Thessalonians 5:17. So if HE is always with us and we are to talk to Him all the time then we had better learn to practice His presence.

One of the first things I began doing to practice His presence was to pick out music that spoke to my heart. I’d crank the volume and dance around my apartment with a fair amount of abandon. Praising and jumping for Jesus’ sake. Sometimes I did cheering type moves or ballet. Probably only a God who is Love Himself could enjoy it? I do know it always released stress for me and gave me a supernatural joy. I could be a carefree kid in His presence. Of course this is easiest to do when you are alone because others might try to have you committed somewhere other than to Jesus, if you know what I mean?

Years later when I bought my first home I had an upstairs Rec room with laminate hardwood flooring. One day while having devotions, I felt a still small voice in my heart calling me to play. At first I dismissed it as my imagination. But it did not stop. So I got up from my sofa and put some funky praise music on my stereo system.

As the first notes hit my ears I felt like moving. In my pajamas and socks, I discovered I could slide across the laminate. Jesus was calling me to slide with Him. Laughing and zooming across the floor, we had a great time. Later, I rearranged the furniture so there would be maximum sliding room. I created a little track and slid around it with Jesus often.

When my young nieces and great niece visited, I taught them to slide with Jesus too. I didn’t care if they thought I was crazy. I was crazy about Jesus and He was the only one who filled the lonely void in my life. Being seen acting crazy about Jesus is nothing new. Consider King David:

“And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns. But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she was filled with contempt for him.” II Samuel 6:14-16 New Living translation

Notice that David “leaped” and “danced” before the Lord. He simply delighted in the Lord and the return of the Ark to the City of David. David laid aside his royal garments to dance before his Lord. HE was willing to look foolish in the eyes of anyone for the Lord’s sake. That is a tight relationship. So powerful that it can destroy the chains of loneliness.

If you find yourself lonely take advantage of being alone, where no one can see you. Put on some music you love and surrender your pride as worship to your Lord. Dance, jump, sway just do whatever you can. Trust me, HE will love it and you may be surprised at the results on your end.

“God can’t give us happiness and peace apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” C.S. Lewis
Shine on. . .
karan k

Last Thread Thursday

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.” Psalm 42: 11 New International version

My rambling thoughts cause twistedness and strife within my mind.
I want freedom. I want peace. I want purpose. Do I know that all these things can be found in You? My head knows it but my heart isn’t feeling it at the moment.

Anyone else just hangin?

That’s when my faith must rally the courage to step in and take control of the helm of my soul. Faith must rise up and remember the God who has never failed me! The God who provides for me! The God who masters an entire universe and yet cares about me. The God who loves me when I hang on my last thread above the abyss of despair. The invisible God who I cannot see with my eye but who I believe remains even in my pain.

The God who whispers, “in all this I remain by your side and I will carry you ’til you can walk on your own again.”

 

“and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.” Deuteronomy 1:31 New American Standard version

 

“You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5 New Living translation

Thank YOU for holding me!

May I trust You, knowing You are with me no matter what I face or feel today.

Shine on. . .
karan k

Powerful Weakness

 

“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ ” II Corinthians 12:9a New Living translation
Remember the Pop Quiz? Out of nowhere the teacher announced a test. Do you remember your reaction? Favorable or negative? No matter what age we are there remain tests for us to take. We cannot escape them.

The other day I faced a pop quiz from God:

As back drop, I must tell you that my body battles low blood sugar and anxiety regularly. I need lots of water, lots of rest and lots of food evenly distributed daily to function at any normal capacity. Otherwise, sugar shock and passing out can ensue. This is the physical weakness I live with in my body. Read on.

A coworker on the next shift after mine had some car trouble. She wasn’t sure she could make it in to work. Being low man on the pole, even after 28 years, meant working 12 or 16 hours straight for me. The shift had to be filled.
My first reaction was to pray for someone else to want or need the work. “No” was the answer to that prayer. Then I prayed someone would split the shift with me. 12 hours was certainly more acceptable than 16. Again the answer was “No”. So the test for me was 16 hours of busy work followed by little sleep to come in the next day for another busy shift.

God’s pop quiz tested my commitment to trust in His goodness, His provision and His grace. Temptation did not take the night off.

The first question on the test entered my mind as fear. Would I be able to physically handle working such long hours? I answered by recalling God’s faithful help in the past with forced lesser amounts of overtime. I decided this was the correct answer and steered my mind to trust in His help. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1 New International version

Next question on the test. Will I complain to my husband, friends or coworkers? I felt the strong urge to complain to my husband. I wanted to seek his pity. But  he could not help me though he wished he could. I had to rely on the only One who truly could help. I remembered the many times God spared me from being forced to work double shifts in the past. Gratitude swept over my mind. “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good: For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” I Chronicles 16:34 New American Standard Bible

Third question. Would I allow self pity to pool in my mind? Or resentment and anger to settle in my soul? By His grace I resisted the negative and reminded myself of God’s sovereignty in my life. He had allowed this to happen. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 New Living translation

So I began asking for more of His grace.

Grace is what I needed to make it through 8 more hours when my back and feet were already hurting. Grace is what I needed to maintain a kind attitude toward my customers as I grew more tired. So I asked for grace over and over throughout the night. The more I depended on receiving grace, the more it washed over me in waves.

I completed 16 full hours on a busy friday while maintaining a good frame of mind. For me this was a huge improvement from years past when I gave in to fear and fretting, whining and complaining, anger and resentment.

I went to bed that night trusting He would give me good rest on little time and He did! Saturday proved busier than friday but His grace continued to flow as long as I continued to ask for and depend upon it. I knew I had passed His test.

“So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” II Corinthians 12:9b New Living translation

 

An A plus is given to a student for great work being achieved.

May your next test be a perfect score!

Shine on. . .

karan k

Fan Out Your Figures

Money Money Money

If your household is like mine, everybody works. Our combined finances keep the home fires burning. We’re down to a family of two. Our daughter is married now and flurishes in a neighboring town but the empty nest transition continues to challenge us. Needs and wants are different at this stage.

Out of his gracious heart, my husband allows me to handle all the finances. I asked for the responsibility when we first got married. He decided to give me the reins. If it didn’t work after a year, we agreed to try another plan. I appreciate his willingness to give my financial system a chance. After 10+ years I remain in charge and he continues to fully entrust me with the finances. But every now and then budgetary issues can get a bit dicey.

Dreaming of the mountains
Fantasizing about Europe
Wishing to be at the Beach

The same amount of revenue comes in most months and we have a working budget that I put together. Every year we make a few vacation plans and set some goals for saving money. But once in awhile I fear I bite off more than our budget can chew, so to speak. It’s sort of like a budgetary binge; perhaps you’re  also attempting to do something tremendous for your spouse or your children? Or treat yourself to something over the top? The price tag is a bit higher than your budget’s comfort cushion but you go for it anyway?

And then we have to fight off the vicious serpents of second guessing. Their bite can be deceitful leading us aboard the carousel ride where  fear doubt and worry ponies spin out of control if we’re not careful. Can you relate?

How do we justify splurging on ourselves when there are so many dire needs around us?

 

There are people starving all over the world every minute of every day. Worthy causes and ministries too numerous to number surround us in an age where we have access to give, making financial contributions around the clock.

Are we to live as monks giving up all our earthly pleasures?  (Consider the story of Job who was the richest person in the area where he lived and God called him righteous. Job 1:1)

How do we navigate our budgets to be good stewards?

We could give to the poor daily and there would still be more need. Jesus’ own words in Mark 14:7 say: “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them whenever you want. But you will not always have Me.” Berean Study Bible

This is not an excuse from giving but to balance giving with His other desires for us such as; worshipping Him, caring for our bodies, maintaining relationships, interacting with creation and sharing the Gospel to name a few.

How do we balance our own wants with the needs of others? We are God’s stewards of the money HE allows us to earn. We will give an account one day of how we used all of His gifts, including money.

” ‘Well done!’ the King exclaimed. ‘You are a good servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be  governor of ten cities as your reward.'” Luke 19:17 New Living translation

 

That being said, how do you handle these financial dilemmas? Share your ideas in the comment section. We can all learn from each other.

When facing such spiritual conundrums, I employ what I call “The Hezekiah Approach” from II Kings 19:14-20. It’s like FANNING OUT YOUR FIGURES BEFORE THE LORD. Read the passage and follow Hezekiah’s example.

Lay it all out and pray for His Spirit to guide you

This is where our relationship with THE HOLY SPIRIT comes into play. His guidance is the answer. Lay your financial life out before Him like individual ledgers. The bills, the budget, the needs, the wants, the giving opportunities. Talk to Him about your concerns, cares and even the things you really want. He cares about the details and He will guide you on how to make decisions specifically for your life. Of course this takes some time.

Time set aside to gather all the info.

Time physically to lay it out on a large surface.

Time set aside to pray over it and seek His direction.

We must be intentional saved followers and stewards of Christ. Definitely slows the decision making process on the front side, but if you’re making better decisions the end result will more than make up for the time spent.

His goals for us are clear but the steps leading  to completion of them are  usually fuzzy so that we never achieve them without His help. He wants to be involved every step of the way. Working with Him on projects draws you close if you cooperate.

This results in a FLURISHING relationship  with Him which is His bottom line. Start budgeting with Him asap!

Shine on. . .

karan k

 

Prayers for the Pot Roast

“. . . the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41b New International version

A line I remembered from a movie, “The Gift of Love” also appears in the book, ‘Never Forsaken’. It says, ” a house full of love has elastic walls.” Simply adore that line. Sort of goes along with the thinking, “the more the merrier.” This is the philosophy of my heart and spirit. But lately my flesh has not kept up with my spirit in the translation of hospitality in reality.


My husband and I host some of the family functions in our home like Christmas day gatherings or an occasional party. But for the most part we spend our days alone throughout the year in our house like two peas in a cozy pod. We are quite comfortable with this arrangement. But every now and then the opportunity presents itself to host overnight guests.
I enjoy having people stay over at our house and I like to think our walls are elastic.  It happens maybe twice each year with one or two people staying for a few days. This year is a little different. We extended invitations to two different parties and they both agreed to come and stay with us. Only one problem;

Their schedules dove-tailed into back to back visits totalling 10 days straight. My husband and I thought better to trust God and His grace rather than disappoint dear folks we’d already invited. Wasn’t their fault that they needed to come back to back. So we said come on and stay.

Things were going well with our first guest until fatigue and stress caused an emotional meltdown between my husband and I in front of our guest! Horrors! Now she could see for herself that we were not Mr. & Mrs. Superman. We were and are indeed made of flesh.

Adamstown Community Days fireworks with loyal friend

Fortunately, she is an old friend and understands the humanness we displayed and loves us anyway. She even asked to come back soon. What grace!

So strip the bed and wash the towels and what to cook for guest set #2? I decided on a roast I could throw in the crock pot while I worked and voila it would be done for the evening meal when they arrived. At least that was the plan. Did I mention I am not a seasoned cook? So I prayed over my pot roast. I wanted our guests to be blessed not made sick by my lack of cooking skills. Seriously, I have always found when I pray and ask for JESUS’ help with cooking, the food always turns out great. Why not? HE is Lord of All, even cooking.

Perfect Pot Roast

So everything skipped along splendidly with our second house guests, the out of state relatives who we were only now getting to know. Until. . . my fatigue reared its nasty face again. Although this time the result remained strictly physical. No emotional outbursts, thank God! But I felt drained.  Again, I experienced grace.

For my current guest said to me last night that she now understands more deeply Jesus’ words to His closest friends in the garden of Gethsemane; “. . . the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41b New International version

Julius Sturgis, Lititz, PA
Moravian Church Square, Lititz, PA

She said this after we shared a full day of local sightseeing. Her spirit wanted to do more but her body was saying “Wait just a minute! You’ve done enough”. She had to respect her physical limitations. Oh how I could relate! I didn’t have to give in to the lie that I hadn’t “entertained enough.” So we both called it a night and took our much needed rest.
“Hospitality is not about showing off your house, your decorating skills, cooking abilities or possessions— Hospitality is about God and how HE uses you and your possessions to serve those you come in contact with whether friends or strangers, believers or unbelievers.” Jami Balmet

Whether you have this. . .
Or this. God will use it.

This levels the playing field so that each of us has something to offer in the way of hospitality whether we live in a small apartment or a large mansion. Each of us can bless those around us when the opportunity arises. Don’t allow pride or fear to stop you from sharing what He has given you.  Don’t give in to the lie that you don’t have enough to offer. Like the little boy with the 5 loaves and two fish in Mark 6:41, rest in the fact that He will multiply your efforts to bless others. It’s something I’m learning as I FLURISH with Him in hospitality opportunities. Each one is different, each is unique and each one when offered to Him can bless all involved!

“Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:13 English Standard version

Share what you have for His glory

Shine on. . .
karan k

Beware the Accuser

 

Do you feel like a Bull's Eye?
Do you feel like a Bull’s Eye?

“One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, the Accuser, Satan, came with them.” Job 1:6 New Living translation
(Read the rest of chapter 1 and see also Revelation 12:10)

 

Destruction of stuff
Destruction of stuff

I often think of Job and how this faithful man of God was tested beyond what most of us ever experience and yet without sin. (See Job 1: 22, 2:10) Here he was living his life for God and doing a great job at it (Job 1:1&2). Then one day EVERYTHING changed all because the Accuser decided to afflict Job in an attempt to hurt God. Why? Because Job was targeted.

Neverending family strife
Neverending family strife

Ever feel like the world is closing in and crushing you in some way? Like you have a giant bull’s eye on your back? Do you have financial strains that have come out of nowhere while you were doing your best to be a good steward with your money? Perhaps your children are in conflict with you and/or each other and things just do not improve no matter how much you pray? Or illness after illness attacks your body and you can’t get a break? Maybe you’re experiencing all three? These are the same areas where Job was hit on devastating levels.

Experiencing chronic illness?
Chronic illness

Satan, the Accuser’s number one goal is to hurt God. He’s not powerful enough to hit God’s heart directly. So he targets those whom God loves. He accuses us in our minds to mentally torment and weaken us. He afflicts us physically and outwardly any way he can. The book of Job is an insightful example of this:

God loved Job. Satan accused Job of serving God ONLY because of His goodness toward him. God was sure of Job’s love so He told Satan he could test Job but only so far and no more. Satan had to comply because he is nowhere near as powerful as God, the Father. So Job was targeted simply because he loved God and glorified Him by the way he lived.

Perhaps the Accuser is targeting you? Endeavoring to tear you, your mind, your faith and your love for God to shreds. He is out to steal, kill and destroy, remember? (John 10:10a) He’s attempting to show God that you don’t really love Him. That you will turn your back on God at the first sign of adversity. He also wants you to believe God doesn’t care about you. He tries to turn us and our heavenly Father against each other. But he is a liar and the father of lies according to John 8:44.

As faithful believers we must learn to EXPECT trials so we are not discouraged when they hit. Expecting puts us on the offensive, ready for attacks. Prepared to respond and reduce chances of injury. God warns us:
“Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if some strange thing were happening to you.” I Peter 4:12 New Living translation

Be encouraged. Job won the battle even though he was attacked on multiple sides. He learned through the trial things about God he hadn’t known before and his faith grew strong. We can have the same victory but it may take a fight.

It is a compliment to become a target. Your faith is effective if it’s disturbing the enemy. So he will attack you. But God is with you. If He allows your faith to be tested by an attack, don’t stop trusting Him. Leaning on His grace through the attack will purify and strengthen your faith. Keep your focus on Jesus and not the trial. Hang on. Remember, you are cherished by God and He will pour out grace as you need it.

When I’ve been worn down by the enemy targeting me, these practical fighting tactics helped me to endure:

Embrace the Fight
Embrace the Fight
  1. I call on my great God and His AMAZING grace! Even if it’s every other second for awhile. I keep asking for help. Satan is hoping I get lazy and stop asking. Don’t fall for that. Keep depending on His grace, it IS real! He promises to sustain! “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.” Isaiah 40:29 New Living translation
  2. I sing praise songs. Nothing like pure worship to turn my perspective to the hugeness of our God! The psalms are great inspiration for singing. Sometimes I make up my own tune for a certain psalm which words fit whatever I am experiencing at the time.
  3. I remember and think about the fact that HE goes before me and knows all about whatever I’m facing. He has a solution and I partner with Him to find it.
  4. I immerse myself in His Word and talk to Him about what He wants to teach me through the current trial.         2454154249_b575f6608e_z
  5. I share my burden with a trusted friend and fellow believer who will pray with me. If you don’t have such a friend or mentor, begin praying for God to lead you to someone. Some battles call for reinforcements of strong prayer warriors and at times, fasting.
  6. I look for something within the trial for which I can be thankful. This can be a hard one but if I look hard enough I always see something good.
  7. And then I tell everyone how Jesus helped me overcome! “And they have defeated him (the Accuser) by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.” Revelation 12:11 New Living translation

The Accuser doesn’t want to hear praises to God in any form or fashion. So go ahead shout, sing, tell your stories of victory in Jesus because you can glorify God, pass the test and stop the trial all at the same time!

“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.” I Peter 1:6& 7a

Victory is ours!
Victory is ours!

Shine on. . .
karan k

 

Safeguarded

“The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.” Psalm 34:17 NLT

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But what if there’s no time to call for help? Have you ever been in that kind of danger? When something unexpected suddenly crossed your path? How did you react? Please feel free to share any stories you have in the comment section.

One year close to Christmas I decided to pay a surprise visit to my second Mom, EmKay. Preoccupied with carrying a gift and maneuvering the icy steps leading to her front porch, I hadn’t noticed that “Woozie” was out. “Woozie” was short for “Woozem’s Woo” the name EmKay lovingly chose for her black Chow puppy.

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Earlier that year when “Woozie” first arrived, he was an adorable ball of fur resembling a miniature bear. I played with him out in the yard several times that spring and summer. Rolling around in the grass and hugging him close so he could lick my face. His cuteness unleashed my playful side. To anyone who knows me well, this would seem odd. I’m not known to be much of a dog person. But Woozie stole my heart.

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Months later at Christmas time when I approached the gate giving access to the front porch, I heard a low growl. A large black shadow moved and bared gleaming white teeth. Another even lower growl  emanated from the darkness. Woozie dipped into the light where I could see his fully grown form.

“Oh ‘Woozie’ it’s only me”, I said as I innocently reached over the gate to unlatch it. No sooner had the last syllable exited my tongue, then adorable “Woozie” leapt across the wooden deck floor. He snarled into my face, his paws pushing on the top of the gate. With one quick lunge he clamped his powerful jaws around my neck.

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Scared out of my mind, not even a squeak could escape from my compressed voice box. Fortunately for me, the cold weather coaxed me to wear a heavy coat that night. This particular coat had a quarter inch thick collar attached that completely covered my neck. Woozie’s tenacious grip did not loosen as he rocked my entire body back and forth on the step. Only the wild scuffling of his toe nails on the wooden deck floor alerted anyone inside the house that there was a problem.

The small porch light came on and the front door opened with instant commands for Woozie to get down. He did not obey. He growled louder. EmKay’s husband had to grab and pull Woozie’s choker before he released his grip.

I tell this story because up until that day, I had no idea how I would react to sudden danger. At the mercy of the jaws of a large and powerful dog, I found myself helpless. However, the protective hand of God spared me. Woozie could have bit my uncovered face or hands or both. Instead he went for the jugular, the one area that was protected.

Some believe such things are only coincidence. I choose to fully rely on what the Bible says about His divine protection of those who trust in Him.

“The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm— He will watch over your life: the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:5-8 New International version

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How about you? What are you trusting in for protection as you travel through life? Our world is growing more chaotic than many choose to think about.  Isis, MS-13 and other murderous threats here and abroad are rapidly increasing. Look to the only One who sees all and safeguards His own. FLURISHING cannot coexist with fear.
“For the angel of the Lord is a guard: he surrounds and defends all who fear Him.” New Living translation

Shine on. . .
karan k

Lord of the Rings Part V

Let us break bread or eat cheesecake
Let us break bread and eat cheesecake

“Aquila, Priscilla, and the church that meets in their house say hello.” I Corinthians 16:19b The Message Bible

A week or so after the Murder Mystery my small group had a celebration dinner just before Thanksgiving. Each of us brought a covered dish. My new friend Becky and I carpooled. We arrived early and met Dan in the kitchen. He had some photos he wanted to share with me from the Murder Mystery. So Becky and our fearless group leader, also named Becki set up the incoming foods in the kitchen and dining area while Dan and I checked out the photos on his disc in the computer room.

After perusing the photos, Dan and I came back to the dining area where the rest of the group had now gathered. A new guy stood in the entry way holding a cherry cheesecake. Becki introduced him as Dwight. He smiled and Becki led us in a prayer before everyone scrambled for seats. Nine of us crammed around a tiny table for four.

I noticed everyone making connections with Dwight, especially the women. He was a likable sort. A few people discussed the recent baptism service and Dwight shared his feelings of being deeply moved by the testimonies. The women were amazed at his sensitive openness. I found the progressing dinner conversation amusing and decided to join in.

“You didn’t make that cheesecake did you, ” I questioned Dwight?

“Honestly, I did,” he answered.

“I don’t believe you. It looks too perfect,” I teased.

“What can I say, I’m a perfectionist to a fault,” he grinned.

I still didn’t believe him but I was more interested in the Dove chocolates on the table than further chit chat. Conversation buzzed round the table and I could tell everyone liked the new guy.

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After dinner we played some games in the living room. I sat between Becky and Dan. Becki the leader posed a question for each of us to answer: What is your favorite book? One person said “The Bible,” and Becki named a few favorites since she was an avid reader and had trouble choosing only one.

That’s a snap, I thought. “A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens,” I said during my turn. A few others responded with war novels and romantic book series. When we got to Dwight, he laughed and blushed before saying, “I read Super Chevy magazine.” We all got a good chuckle which we shared with him and not at him. He seemed a good sport and a good fit for our group.

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Becky and I left early because I overloaded on chocolate and my sugars were dipping dangerously low. Even so it was a diamond evening for me because my circle of friends was growing. I went home fat and happy in a chocolate haze.

A few days later I decided to send Dwight a welcome card from everyone in the group,  hoping he would continue to join our meetings. I forged everyones signature but my own so it wouldn’t look like I was interested for myself. I actually thought he completed our group in some way.

Thanksgiving eve I came home from seeing my mother and my answering machine was blinking. On it I heard a long message from Dwight expressing his gratitude for the group and our friendliness toward him. He wanted us to know he looks forward to seeing everyone again but that he would be gone on a road trip over the holiday and miss our next gathering.

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Immediately I called Becky to tell her about Dwight’s message. She shared my excitement on his plans to continue with our group. Like most of the other members, Dwight knew the pain of divorce and the difficulty of single parenting. In those respects, he could relate much better than I could to other members of the group. Attractive,  kind and open, I figured he’d be married again before too long. Lots of women at our huge church were already interested in him. However, I was not one of them. My stubborn “bachelor’s only need apply” mentality disqualified him.

Perfect but disqualified
Perfect but disqualified

Shine on. . .

karan k

UN-Happy? Part IV: The Bottom Line

 

Rubber meets the road
Rubber meets the road

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 New King James version

In conclusion to this short series on Un-Happy? I want to share with you something very dear to my heart. It has helped me throughout my life as a source of encouragement. It is a song that pretty much sums up the Christian experience IF you want it to be a happy one and not guilt ridden or stressful! Lets take a closer look at the words of a timeless hymn that has touched my soul. I pray it will do the same for you.

The words to the song were written in 1887 by John H. Sammis. He first wrote the words as a poem inspired by a testimony in which he heard these passionate words from D .L. Moody at a meeting; “I am not quite sure— but I am going to TRUST and I am going to OBEY.” Sammis sent the poem to Daniel B. Towner who wrote the music and TRUST AND OBEY became a hymn.

Read through the lyrics slowly asking the precious Holy Spirit to give you new insights through the words about your own relationship with Jesus. I have bracketed my own thoughts concerning each line to help as examples.

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When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word {GET IN THE WORD}
What a glory He sheds on our way! {LOOK FOR HIS GLORY}
While we do His good will, He abides with us still, {DO HIS WORK WITH HIM}
And with all who will trust and obey.

REFRAIN: Trust and Obey , for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies, {TEMPTATIONS, DISCOURAGEMENTS}
But His smile quickly drives it away: {REFOCUS ON HIM}
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear, {HIS PRESENCE PROTECTS}
Can abide while we trust and obey. (refrain) {HE WILL CHASE AWAY THE NEGATIVES}

Not a bürden we bear, not a sorrow we share, {DON’T GIVE UP}
But our toil He doth richly repay; {REWARDS WILL COME}
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, {WHEN TRAGEDY HITS, HE KNOWS IT}
But is blessed if we trust and obey. (refrain) {HE’LL BRING GOOD}

But we never can prove the delights of His love {WE WON”T KNOW}
Until all on the altar we lay; {UNTIL WE PUT HIM FIRST}
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows, {SUPERNATURAL WONDERS}
Are for them who will trust and obey. (refrain) {ONLY FOR US}

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet, {DAILY TIME ALONE WITH HIM}
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way; {GOING ABOUT  OUR DAILY BUSINESS WITH HIM}
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; {LISTEN FOR HIS VOICE, DO WHAT HE SAYS}
Never fear, only trust and obey. {DON’T GIVE IN TO FEAR}
(final refrain)
Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Live each moment hand in hand with Jesus.  He who saved you for a better life. He who spared you from eternal torment.  He who restored your relationship with your heavenly Father. Isn’t He worth your time and devotion not only as Savior but also Lord of your life???

A firm YES from the heart will set you on the path to LASTING HAPPINESS, ABUNDANT LIFE,  and forever FLURISHING!!

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The choice is yours.

“For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.” New Living translation

Shine on. . .

karan k

Google TRUST AND OBEY by Big Daddy Weave if you like an updated version to hear the song. There are more traditional versions that will pop up as well.  Let me know what you think.

Change in Motion

 

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.”
Ecclesiastes 3:1 New Living translation —-Including CHANGE.

Earlier this week I found myself in rapid motion in a small space. Being barefoot you can guess it did not end well. For the first time I experienced the pain of a broken bone. Even though it’s a very tiny bone, it has created an unexpected shuffle of events. And life as I knew it changed.

Imagine this is your world
Imagine this is your world

I like this photo because it is a freeze frame of motion. Everything is in motion around the surface. It’s an intriguing word picture to me.

Imagine this water is a single freeze frame of your life, your world. The water is suspended from its natural path of change. Right now in this moment do some personal pondering. What is your status? Your emotions? Your thoughts? Who is close to you? How is your health? What are your responsibilities? What are your challenges?

Lift the freeze frame for a split second and each of those aspects of your life will change. The orange will plummet in relationship to the splashing water.  The  glass bowl will wobble and possibly move a teeny bit and the water will completely have changed in location and shape. This is life in a minute scenario but represents all of life when you get down to it.

Motion is constant and so change occurs on so many levels repeatedly, rapidly and relentlessly that our conscious mind is incapable of keeping up. This is the natural cycle of life.
Some changes we can detect through our senses. We can taste the change in milk when it becomes sour. We can hear the change in an instrument in need of tuning. We can feel the changes of temperature.

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Life is a constant cycle of change. Seasons change in most places in our world. Daytime changes into night. Seeds change into plants, flowers, vegetables or trees. Caterpillars change into gorgeous butterflies. Growth and change are all around us. It should be expected as a familiar friend but somehow in our personal lives, change can scare us.

A new opportunity arises for learning. What is our first response? Excitement, fear or something else? I encourage you to welcome the change. Our knowledge can increase by embracing the change.  Our interests can change with the newly acquired information which can change how we spend time and with whom.  Change can be a flurry of FLURISHING, if we do not give in to fear.
The loss of someone dear changes everything. Suddenly there is a gaping hole in the fabric of our soul and an emptiness in our heart. Our thoughts change—Things we rarely thought about now become so precious: The sound of their footsteps crossing the floor. The smiles and sense of humor that could so easily annoy us. The scent of their signature perfume, cologne or body scent lingering on their clothes. The simple sense of their presence in our lives is missed. But EVEN this our God can use for our good. Good changes. It’s one of the hardest changes in life to master and entrust to God. But as all other change we cannot escape it, nor control it. MJT! Must Just Trust!

Our great God is always with us, even to the end of this age! (See Matthew 28:20b). He implores you to trust Him and His perfect love that casts out all fear. “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced His perfect love.” I John 4:18 New Living translation

The point here is that fear (and anxiety being generalized fear) is one of the greatest enemies and obstacles to a FLURISHING life. I have fought against various fears most of my life and I see the insidious nature of it and why our LORD tells us NOT TO BE AFRAID but to trust HIM instead, repeatedly in the Bible. (Over 500 times throughout the Old and New Testaments in various ways, but who’s counting?)

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever!!!”

King James Bible

In light of the above truth, ask God to help you defeat fear and/or anxiety of change. OUR GOD IS THEE ONLY UNCHANGEABLE FACT IN OUR EXISTENCE. Ask Him to help you trust Him with whatever changes you face now in this moment and beyond. He can turn your fear into FLURISHING!!! I know firsthand and it is AMAZING!!!

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Shine on. . .

karan k

 

GOD’s Favorite BELOW THE SURFACE Part III

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“Come close to God, and He will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters.”
James 4:8 GOD’S WORD translation

During my senior year of High School I participated in the All School Show entitled “God’s Favorite”. This play is a parody of the book of Job from the Old Testament. The premise revolves around Joe Benjamin, a God-fearing wealthy tycoon claiming to be God’s favorite because of his extreme good fortune. Comedic situations in his family occur quickly when his devotion to God is put to the ultimate test.

My character with twin brother
My character with twin brother

Chosen to play one of Joe’s twin children, Sarah Benjamin, my character oozed with naive excitement at the knowledge of a known rapist prowling around the house. It was a peculiar and entertaining role that stretched my acting abilities. I must confess the laughter and applause during my scenes generated an exhilarating satisfaction in my heart.

Neil Simon wrote the play “God’s Favorite” which was produced on Broadway in 1974. Born in the Bronx to Jewish parents, Neil Simon has written skads of material such as:

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THEY’RE PLAYING OUR SONG 1979 (which was the very first show I saw on Broadway), BILOXI BLUES 1985, LOST IN YONKERS 1991, THE GOODBYE GIRL 1993,  and perhaps his most famous work, THE ODD COUPLE 1968 among many other broadway plays, tv and screenwriting.

Unfortunately, “God’s Favorite” never became a big hit like many of his other works. Neil may have lacked faith in this particular project?

A lack of true faith is alive and well for Mr. Simon. Currently listed on celebatheists.com under the “Ambiguous List” he claims neither atheism or agnosticism as his conclusion on faith. He is apparently skeptical of theism and/or religion. So I found it somewhat surprising that he wrote this play based on a Bible story. Job—the story of UNWAVERING faith.

Perhaps Mr. Simon could relate all too well to Job’s plight?
“I cannot keep from speaking. I must express my anguish. My bitter soul must complain.” Job 7:11 New Living translation.

Did Job scream or yell? We know he vented! (See Sneak Peek BELOW THE SURFACE Part II)

And so he wrote a play expressing the cry of his soul.
Neil Simon has said “‘God’s Favorite’ was written as a reaction to his wife’s untimely death from cancer.” Quite the curious correlation, wouldn’t you agree?

The trouble is, so far Mr. Simon is not showing the same result from his allowed testing as Job did. He wrote Job’s story, GOD’S FAVORITE as a comedy. Truly there is NOTHING funny about what happened to Job i.e., loss of oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, all servants and his children in a single day. See Job 1:13-16
And that was only the beginning. His friends brow beat him off and on in the next 18 or so chapters. Instead of sitting quietly with Job as comfort, they tried to wheedle him into admitting unconfessed sin and his alleged abandonment of God; which they were certain caused his calamity but none of their accusations were true. Sincere but wrong, they were terrible friends.

So was Neil Simon crying out against God for his loss when he wrote GOD’S Favorite? It is a very real possibility. Only God and Mr. Simon know for sure.

Now what about us? How do we handle tragedy that finds its way into our lives? Do we believe God sent it or caused it? Read the first chapter of Job. Read S-L-O-W-L-Y.
Here we have an extraordinary view into heavenly happenings. Imagine the scene while you read it.

In a nutshell, God believes Job is a man of integrity—pure in his heart toward God. Satan basically challenges that truth by daring God to ALLOW Job to be tested attempting to prove what God believes about Job is false. And so God allows it knowing Job will remain faithful. God is FULLY in charge but it is satan who wants to harm Job, not God.

After 41 chapters of various grueling trials, God and Job emerge with a deeper relationship. Job’s understanding of his God has increased as well as his love and devotion to Him. Once again, satan is proved wrong and is not found hanging around at the end of the book of Job for God’s victory dance. No, he was probably already afoot elsewhere (See I Peter 5:8 and claim verse 9 to FLURISH for life).

Learn from Job.

A Personal Note to Mr. Neil Simon: I’ve been an unknowing fan of your writing since “Murder By Death”  hit theaters in 1976. The movie was one of very few memorable moments spent with my father.  So I care about you Mr. Simon, please learn from Job and live fully restored in your heavenly Father now before you take your last breath! It’s not too late for you to FLURISH!

 I will restore to you. . . Joel 2:25+26
I will restore to you. . .
Joel 2:25+26

Don’t be caught in a “Room filled with empty people.” Sidney Wang —Murder By Death. Translation: Don’t Be Caught Dead Without JESUS, Neil!

Shine on. . .

karan k