You Alone Know

In a valley full of old, dry bones scattered everywhere across the ground God asked the prophet Ezekiel if the bones could become people again. Quite an impossibility to human thinking, is it not? But the wise prophet knew who asked the question. He replied, “You alone know.”

Ezekiel was a prophet to Israel during their time of exile in Babylon. One of the things he prophesied was the Israelites would return to their homeland strengthened. That seemed as impossible to a people in captivity as a valley full of dry bones coming to life. Still. We know the prophesy came true when the first wave of captives began to return fifty years later.

Ezekiel’s vision of being in a deep valley of despair matched the feelings of the Israelites at the time. When the prophet said, “You alone know,” he didn’t say yes the bones could be restored to former glory and come to life again. Nor did he say no they couldn’t come to life again.

He didn’t state a case for either scenario. Ezekiel knew God could do anything he wanted to do. Even when doing so seemed impossible. Ezekiel understood God’s ability was limitless. He didn’t try to put parameters around God. He simply left the decision up to God to do as he saw best.

In the vision God raised those dead, dry bones to life. He restored them just as he would later restore the nation of Israel. He restored life to a despondent people who lost hope in their future.

In our times of despair or loss we might feel as dry as the bones in Ezekiel’s vision. Submitting our plans, will, and circumstances to God tells him we believe you alone know what’s best for us. You alone know how best to solve our dilemma. You alone know what will bring life.

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The power of the Lord was upon me and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley full of old, dry bones that were scattered everywhere across the ground. He led me around among them, and then he said to me:

“Son of dust, can these bones become people again?”

I replied, “Lord, you alone know the answer to that.” Ezekiel 37:1-3 (NLT)

 

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Fifteen Ways to Survive the Holidays with Chronic Illness

courtesy pixabayAs a person with multiple chronic illnesses, the approaching holidays, and all the busyness that usually accompanies them, are a time for me to re-access and re-adjust which activities occupy my time.

Although I would love to involve myself with all the things I enjoy, it is not going to happen. Not with the limitations these illnesses impose. So, I have a choice. I can listen to my body and slow down when I need to, or not listen, plow ahead at full speed, and suffer the consequences. I try to listen.

Notice I said, try.

Two big triggers for my flares are stress and not enough deep, restorative, sleep.

Both seem to be a given for even those without health limitations when major holidays roll around. They are magnified for those with chronic illnesses.

In days gone by I decorated for every holiday. Right down to the shamrock candy dish with pale green mints. Not so any more. Just getting Christmas cards mailed and decorations on the Christmas tree have been major accomplishments some years.

With that in mind, here are fifteen tips which might help deal with holidays and chronic illness.

  • Make spending time alone with God number one on your daily to do list.
  • Do what’s most important first. Prioritize.
  • Pace yourself.
  • Stop when you get tired whether you complete what you set out to do or not.
  • Fatigue is real. It’s not all in your mind.
  • Give yourself permission to skip some activities.
  • Every meal does not need to be an elaborate occasion.
  • Ask for help when necessary.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Soaking in a warm tub of Epsom salts is not being selfish.
  • Quit beating yourself up for not having a perfectly clean home.
  • It’s okay to admit you can’t do everything you used to do.
  • As much as possible, avoid people and situations that increase your stress.
  • Understand what is essential and what is not.
  • Don’t cave into others’ expectations of what you should do.

Each person is different. What works for me may not work for you and vice-versa. If you have any other tips on how to lessen the impact of holiday stress, I’d love to hear your ideas.

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Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)

I wish you well.

Sandy

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Proverbs to Live By

While reading through the book of Proverbs, I decided today’s blog would be devoted to several proverbs to live by.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. 1:7 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.  3:5-6

Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. 3:13-15

There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. 6:16-19

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. 9:10

The way of the Lord is a refuge for the blameless, but it is the ruin of those who do evil. 10:29

The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice. Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult. An honest witness tells the truth, but a false witness tells lies. The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy. 12:15-20

The wise fear the Lord and shun evil, but a fool is hotheaded and yet feels secure. 14:16

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 15:1

Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. 15:16

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. 16:9

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. 16:18

To answer before listening—that is folly and shame. 18:13

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. 22:1

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. 22:6

Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring. 27:1

As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart. 27:19

Better the poor whose walk is blameless than the rich whose ways are perverse. 28:6

Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end. 29:11

Do you have a proverb you favor over another?

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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Guest Post – I Am Peter

Today’s guest post, I Am Peter, written by Dave Peever first appeared on Live 4 Him.

I am Peter

I am not really Peter, my name is Dave, Dave Peever which has led to people who did not hear properly or who were not paying attention to call me Peter. I assume it is the last name that causes the brain to fill in the name Peter but that doesn’t really matter. Even though I go by the name Dave Peever, for this post I am Peter.

I always have something to say.                                                                       

There are times it is strong opinion that drives my need to speak. There are other times that it is just my nature to be a part of the conversation; I like to talk! On top of this, I have to admit I don’t like silence. I may not have a strong opinion or any opinion at all about the topic at hand. As a matter of fact there may not even be a topic up for discussion when I speak. I just hate silence in a room full of people, I find it uncomfortable. Now that I think of it, maybe that is why I like to preach. I feel someone needs to fill the silence! I am Peter.

If no one knows what to say, leave it to me.

It won’t always be a well-crafted dissertation or a perfect comment that brings meaning to the moment. It may not be the most appropriate response or, even more likely, the situation may not call for a response at all but that doesn’t matter. The space must be filled and the awkward must be removed from the situation. Sadly I often don’t really know what I am saying, it just comes out. I have been known to add to the awkward instead of removing it. I am Peter.

As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) Luke 9:33 (NIV)

I have been known to proclaim my beliefs just before contradicting them.

Maybe it’s a pastor thing. Maybe it’s a Christian thing. Maybe it’s a human thing. I can be so convicted of a truth that I will speak boldly, I will proclaim that there is no other way and then in my alone time, I will doubt. I can stand in the pulpit or sit across the table in a coffee shop and without reservation speak of the power and sovereignty of God and the perfection of His plan. When things take a turn for the worse, it doesn’t matter if it is a minute later, I have been known to question if God has got the plan right. I am Peter.

After Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was:

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:16 (NIV)

After Peter proclaimed that Jesus was equal to God Jesus told them He would die and:

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Matthew 16:22 (NIV)

I have said things and acted in ways that suggest I am not a follower of Christ.

Sometimes I just get dragged along. The jokes take on a more dirty tone or the talk turns to gossip and I join in. It is not as much a reflection of a lack of Christian ethics but rather a lack of thought as I get caught up in the ways of the world. There are other times, times that trouble me more. I may not come out and say it but I act or speak in terms that deny my relationship with Jesus. It is often fear of ridicule or coming off as a “holier than thou” type. It doesn’t matter the reason, when I deny my faith through omission and poor behaviour, I am Peter.

Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:74-75 (NIV)

I am someone who speaks when they shouldn’t. I am someone who proclaims the power of God and then doubts His word. I am someone who hides my association with Christ out of fear or frivolity.

I am Peter.

I am someone who wants to be used by God even though I often say and do things that are not in line with the actions and speech of a follower of Christ.

I want to be like Peter.

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd… With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day. Acts 2:14-41 (NIV)

Who is Dave Peever? I am a follower of Jesus the Christ. My specific call is to creatively present various aspects of life as a Christ follower and as a member of a collective of Christ followers I use my background as an actor, director and playwright/writer as well as my music, preaching and leadership skills to assist churches in transition (between pastors) with their desire to be more effective. I have been married for 31 years. We have 3 sons and 4 grandchildren all who currently reside in central Ontario Canada. I have been in ministry for 22 years.

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I wish you well.

Sandy

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Settle Down

courtesy pixabayWhen God allowed the Israelites to be taken into captivity by the Babylonians, he instructed the prophet Jeremiah to tell them to build houses and settle down. Plant gardens and enjoy what they planted. They were going to be there a while.

This wasn’t a day by day arrangement. Give it a go. See what you think of the neighborhood. If you don’t like it after thirty days, okay. You can go back.

Nope. God meant for the Israelites to put down roots in this foreign land because whether they realized it or not, he had a purpose for their time in Babylon.

Sometimes God sends us into a type of Babylonian exile. He sends us to a place we’d rather not be. Into a job or circumstances we’d rather not face. Those exiles might be physical, emotional, or spiritual.

When God exiles us and tells us to settle down, it isn’t by mistake. We certainly might wonder and question, but God did not get it wrong. He has lessons he wants us to learn about ourselves and about him.

Often, Babylon is the only place we can learn those lessons.

Some of us learn faster than others. I’m a slow learner.

Several years back, God exiled Pilot and me to our own Babylon. I often joked about us being in Babylonian captivity. But it was not funny.

I’ll spare you the details but believe me, I did not want us to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden. Not at all. I wanted us out of there ASAP. Like yesterday.

One godly friend patiently listened as I whined and complained to her week after week the whole entire time. (Waving to you sweet friend. You know.)

“Why isn’t God getting us out of here? Why hasn’t he opened other doors? Why is he ignoring our prayers? Why? Why? Why?”

My mentality was more rent by the month, rather than build a house and join the community mentality. I did not want to look for any good in the situation. I did not want to see what God’s purpose for exiling us was. And I certainly wasn’t going to enjoy it.

I was miserable. And I made those around me miserable as well. Not intentionally. Just as a by-product of my own misery.

Plant a garden? Not likely.

You know the saying you may not be able to control the wind, but you can adjust your sails? Pilot adjusted his sails. Not me. I restlessly kept an eye on the door for God’s deliverance. Not that it made our captivity end one second earlier.

From experience I know by refusing to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden during whatever exile God leads us to, we just might miss out on an opportunity to learn the lessons only that specific season of our life can teach us.

And wouldn’t you know it?

Three days ago, two and a half weeks after I wrote and scheduled this to post today, God told me to pack my bags. Looks like he’s leading me on another journey where he intends for me to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden.

I have a feeling I’m going to be there a while.

Ever felt like you’ve been exiled to Babylon? Were you able to build a house, settle down, and plant a garden?

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Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Jeremiah 29:5

I wish you well.

Sandy

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