God’s one thing

“But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41-42, NLT).

Much has been written about Mary and Martha. Some even go so far as to criticize Martha for attending to the dinner and complaining to Jesus about Mary ignoring her need for help. But this verse reveals more about Jesus than the women—he used a term of endearment when speaking to Martha and acknowledged her feelings of frustration. He was gentle and caring, not harsh and critical.

It’s easy to get distracted by the many responsibilities in life and from time to time, we all need reminders about our priorities. Instead of barking at us to get back in line, Jesus gently reminds us about what is most important, that he is the center of our lives and our focus should be on him.

God cares enough to ask

 “‘What do you want me to do for you?’ Jesus asked” (Mark 10:51, NLT).

It seems quite plain what the man in this passage needed and wanted—he was blind! The discussion about these verses usually goes on about why did Jesus ask an obvious question or the motivation of the blind man (was he making lots of money as a beggar?). Why did he ask?

I’m not sure exactly why but the question is an interesting one for us: what do we want Jesus to do for us? The answer is deep inside, where we might not go very often. Perhaps he wants us to acknowledge the deepest needs of our hearts and that he is the only one who can fill them. He cared enough to ask the blind man and he cares enough to ask us if we will let him in and take care of us. What do you want him to do for you?

God gives courage

“‘Don’t be afraid,’ he said. ‘Take courage! I am here!’” (Mark 6:50b, NLT).

When a child is frightened, parents often tell him or her, it’s OK, I’m here. I’ve said it myself, even though I may or may not have been able to change the scary circumstance. A child will calm down simply because of the parent’s presence.

Jesus often told people not to be afraid, even though what was happening around them was quite frightening. In this instance, the disciples were on a boat in a raging storm. They saw what they thought was a ghost coming toward them, which further terrified them. He told them not to worry before he climbed in the boat and calmed the winds, adding “I am here.” We are fearful of many things in life but because we trust in the presence of Jesus, we can take courage and stop being afraid. He will calm the storm and even if he doesn’t, he’s here to talk us through.

God is touched by death

“The Lord cares deeply when his loved ones die” (Psalm 116:15, NLT).

We don’t like to think about death, but we are reminded of it every day. Whether it’s the passing of a friend or family member, hearing of a celebrity’s death on the news or merely driving by a cemetery, the fleeting nature of life is constantly before us. Even so, we like to think of our own death as far off in the future.

Even though God is the one who put the life/death cycle in motion, he is not unmoved by death. Jesus wept when his friend died and he compassionately gave life back to him and others. The biggest proof God cares is the cross: Jesus experienced death for us and in doing so, took away its power over us. Because the enemy of death has been conquered, rather than fear or dread it, we can calmly accept it as the door to eternity.

God the superhero

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—this is God, whose dwelling is holy” (Psalm 68:5, NLT).

Movies about comic book characters come to life are big at the box office. We love watching powerful super-human heroes conquer evil and save the world. Children love to pretend they have the powers and can perform amazing daredevil feats and the same good deeds.

This verse almost sounds like a tagline of a movie about a superhero. In reality, God is the biggest superhero of all time. He truly is “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!” But he is also the gentle one who cares about orphans and widows, who hurts when we hurt and wipes the tears from our eyes. In his son Jesus, the real Superman, he has conquered sin and death and saved the world.

God’s throne

“Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever. You rule with a scepter of justice” (Psalm 45:6, NLT).

I’ve enjoyed watching the jubilee celebration for Queen Elizabeth. Part of the fascination for me is the history behind it. Kings and queens have been ruling there for over a thousand years, and she is only the second to have such a long reign. Hers will come to an end, as all have and all will.

God is the ruler whose reign will never end. While some (perhaps many) rulers have been and are less than good and just, he alone shows perfect justice and something else sadly lacking in most leaders—love. His throne is full of mercy and grace and we don’t ever need to be afraid he will treat us unfairly or with cruelty. As the Brits sing “God Save the Queen” let us all sing praises to our God, the king whose throne lasts forever!

The Throne of God as painted by Albrecht Dürer.
The Throne of God as painted by Albrecht Dürer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lessons from a bicycle

Today instead of a verse, I’m sharing one of my articles. I’ve been writing them for several years and posting them on another website (http://women.gci.org/).

Lessons From a Bicycle

My poor bicycle had been in the garage for several years, collecting dust. I’ve loved riding since childhood and missed it, so I pulled my bike out, pumped up the tires and started riding again. It’s true, you don’t forget how, but I had to work up to riding more than a couple of miles. Now I’m riding longer distances and loving it even more. It makes me happy to be out enjoying the fresh air and freedom, and the exercise is great too.

I’ve learned some lessons from riding and even found insight for our spiritual lives:

Don’t be in a rush; you might have to start slow to build strength and endurance. When riding a bike you don’t expect to be able to go a hundred miles the first time out. Why do we think we’ll be spiritually mature immediately? Becoming a Christian happens instantly but being one is a lifelong process.

Don’t compare yourself to others. Your bike and clothes may not be fancy but don’t let that keep you from having fun. We are unique and special. God works with us according to our individual personalities.

You might hit some bumps and even fall. It’s OK, just get back on. Life isn’t easy but God is there to help us keep going until we get home.

If you ride with someone, stay together. Look out for each other. We don’t go through life alone and need to help one another through the rough spots.

Going uphill is hard. If you have to walk partway, don’t worry about it. You are still moving. The extra effort we put in during the trials and problems makes us stronger and helps us trust God more. It also makes the smooth parts more enjoyable.

Enjoy the downhill parts but remember to hold on tight and watch for rocks. Be thankful and keep trusting God through the good times.

Always wear a helmet. Wear all the armor of God from Ephesians 6: “the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (NLT).

Drink lots of water—before, during and after. Rely on the Holy Spirit to continually refresh you.

Keep your eyes on the road, but take time to notice the wildlife and flowers on the way. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Live in the moment and enjoy the blessings of grace.

If you have bugs in your teeth, it just means you’ve been smiling a lot.

Are you inspired to get back on a bike? If you do, you’ll work off some calories and maybe add your own lessons to this list. If not, next time you see someone on a bicycle, give them room and thank God for the ride of life.

Bicycle Party
Bicycle Party (Photo credit: Where is Clifford The Big Red Dog?)

God gives us sure footing

“He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights” (Psalm 18:33, NLT).

Mountain climbing seems to me a difficult sport. I haven’t done it myself, just a little hiking. I can’t imagine navigating such rocky, steep and unstable terrain. Even walking over loose stones is enough to make me unsure of myself. The psalmist must have been watching deer go where no one had gone—or could.

White-tailed deer in Toronto, Canada
White-tailed deer in Toronto, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The parallels between climbing and life are pretty obvious and it’s also obvious we aren’t like the deer who have no fear of climbing. We are often unsure of our path, of the decisions we must make and the many choices that bombard us daily. As the psalmist watched the deer, he understood God is the one who made them surefooted and he does the same for us. The deer go by instincts while we must go by faith and trust in the one who enables us to stand on the mountain heights.

God calls us by name

“I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1b, NLT).

I have trouble remembering names, especially if I haven’t seen someone for a long time. I can usually remember faces, but on many occasions I’ve had to sheepishly ask a person’s name and then ask forgiveness for forgetting. We don’t like to admit we can’t remember, especially as it might seem we didn’t care enough about the person to do so. But we all forget, so a little grace helps.

The truth is, we like when people remember our names because it makes us feel good. We feel valued and happy we’re not just another face in the crowd. This little statement about God calling us by name is extremely comforting. He knows everyone’s name, all the billions on earth now and all those who came before. We’re not just another face, or a number to him, but individuals whom he loves and knows.

God lights a lamp

“You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness” (Psalm 18:28, NLT).

Space Mountain, a ride at Disneyland, is a roller coaster in the dark! It’s supposed to make you feel you’re in outer space, traveling among the stars. I used to like it but the last couple of times, I found myself tightly gripping the handle bar, wanting to slow down and wishing it were over. I didn’t like being hurtled through the darkness—all I could think of was flying off the track. Somehow a roller coaster out in daylight doesn’t bother me as much.

Sometimes life feels like riding a roller coaster in the dark. We can’t see what’s ahead so we often imagine all kinds of boogeymen and disasters. God understands our fears and how unnerving darkness can be. He is light and is the one who can turn on the lamp to scatter the darkness and chase away our fears. His word and his presence light up our lives with grace, understanding and guidance so we can loosen our grip and enjoy the ride.