The Color of Love

The morning sky seemed like a water stained, black and white photograph. The recent memories of a client’s struggle muddied my thoughts even further. With furrowed brow I cautiously dodged patches of ice. “Such a slippery slope life can be” I thought.

Dainty white whispers of snowflakes fell on my forehead. I knew what they were trying to do. “I know, I know – no two of you are alike” I whispered back at them. If anything could cause me to look heavenward and consider my Creator, they could.

Once inside the windowless office I opened doors, turned artificial lights on our plastic Christmas tree and, put the brown coffee on to brew. I wandered over to the reception desk and spied a pile of bulging black garbage bags. There was a faded note marked ‘donations’ taped to one of them.

I fumbled with one knot. I pulled and pushed and caught a glimpse of something unexpected. Something new, brand new. I grabbed a pair of scissors to get to the treasure inside. The rhythm of my heart began to race. My eyes teared and the breath in my throat gasped.

Gently I lifted a perfectly hand knit child’s sweater out of the bag. My lungs lifted and sighed in relief. “The color of love!” My fingers gently untied the pom pom strings, and moved the zipper up and down. I twirled the sweater in the air from back to front, and felt a strange sensation come over me.  

The love someone had poured into every stitch was now flooding into my veins, warming my limbs, blushing my face, and painting my lips in a smile. I found the faded note and turned it over to find a lady’s name and address. How could I possibly thank her enough? My heart took in every thread of her kindness and compassion.

She had no idea how the gift she’d made for someone’s little boy or girl had been a gift for me as well. I paused and the colors of love filled the room around me. The muddy struggles, the slippery slope, the plastic tree, and the browns and blacks of a challenging world were now magically changing to blue and yellow, pink and green.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do You Plan to Finish?

by Cindy Palin
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We’ve all heard so many memes about not living in our past, but instead looking towards the future. I like to look back and remember just enough to see how far God has brought me. When self doubt starts to crowd in my thoughts I am careful not to waste any energy thinking about how I started in my faith journey, but instead I focus every thought on how I plan to finish – faithful.

“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13 NIV).

“The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it” (1 Thess. 5:24 NIV).

PRESS ON!

When you spend most of your time listening to those who are in major inner turmoil, that turmoil can manifest in your own mind. For those who believe in God’s Word, we understand we can sin in our thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).

It is important not to be afraid or despair. If we confess our sin he will forgive and heal, and transform us (1 John 1:9). Part of this transformation is choosing to think on Him instead, and meditate on His Word (Psalm 19:14, Eph. 4:17-24).

Sometimes we believe that our confessing needs to be accompanied with some other sort of action. I have often struggled with asking for forgiveness for the same thing over and over, and wondered “what else should I do?” I have questioned my sincerity. Do I have a penitent heart (Psalm 51:17)?

This morning I confessed to God out loud for my sinful thinking. For a moment I considered my confession to be insincere, because it was not accompanied with tears. However, I realized my lack of tears was not a sign of insincerity, but faith, and maturity. I had sinned in my thoughts. I obeyed God by confessing and I believe in His forgiveness. Confessional faith is a choice to move on in praise and service to my King as a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17).

If there is to be an action that is to accompany confession, it needs to be the humble act of asking another believer for prayer.

In conclusion:

It is very important to recognize we are in a battle (Eph. 6:12).

We are going to sin (Romans 7:21 and 22).

We need to confess out loud to God and establish an accountability system (James 5:16a).

We need to ask for prayer  (James 5:16b).

No show of grovelling or whining or anything else of our own strength is necessary (Eph. 2:8). What Christ accomplished on the cross for us is complete (Heb. 10:10-12).

We must press on (Phil. 3:13 – 14) – WITH JOY!

And remember if we are not able to see ourselves for who we really are, how can we help others?

 

Still Choosing to Call God Good

Contrary to the excruciating circumstances surrounding us at First Baptist, I awoke with such joy. I credit it to reading about our dear sister’s, and her family’s faith confession in the face of severe illness. They are still choosing to call God good, and so will I.

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When I saw the rain outside my window this morning my heart leapt with joy. But my sister, how was she? As I went outside to work I paused, and looked up and welcomed the rain on my face. But my sister how was she? What ever she was experiencing, one thing was sure – her situation was reminding me of HIS gift called LIFE.

Strange how someone’s faithful posture in the face of uncertainty can lift so many hearts, and knit so many together.

Whether she is healed to spend more days on earth with us, or healed to enter heaven before me, my heart thanks her. In her suffering she has given more life to me than she’ll ever know, and has brought the promise of eternity closer.

And through the tears there is this unspeakable joy that cannot be explained. It is the Spirit bonding us together, whether near or far. It is the mystery of the Gospel calling us home and flooding us with HOPE.

Thank you my dear sister. You know well – God is still good.

 

 

 

The MOMENT…

The moment we let go of our NEED to have the LAST WORD,

is the moment we are HEARD.

The moment we let go of our NEED to be IN CHARGE,

is the moment we are given opportunity to LEAD.

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The moment we recognize our NEED of GOD,

is the moment we lay down our DEMANDS,

and become BEAUTIFUL.

Cindy Palin ©Sept.9,2018

 

 

The Next Best DISTRACTION?

In reading further on leadership in the book Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby, my thoughts turned to our family life and our spouses. (This is more for those of us who are in a working and communicative marriage)

This may not be a popular message but it is one I believe in.  Not only should we include our spouses in our decisions, we should be asking for their help as we make them, even if they disagree. We should be big enough to take their advice, and trust that there will be other opportunities down the road. In turn they will want to know what we think about their ideas, and welcome help with their decisions.

One of the most honoring and productive actions we can make for a healthy and fruitful future is to listen to our spouse and honor them by placing their ideas and needs before our own. I know, it sounds ‘old fashioned’, but life does run smoother. I believe in what God’s Word teaches us about our husband’s leadership role. Check out this link for a more extensive study on the role of a husband. https://www.allaboutgod.com/role-of-husband-in-the-bible.htm.

This leadership role is not only to guide us and assist us but to protect us from charging head on into something that will drag the family down, or pull the family apart.

I find it interesting how as little girls we dream of finding our Prince Charming, as young women we meet our Prince Charming, and then we marry and discard our Prince Charming in a inadvertent way, or literally.

Part of the reason for this abandonment is because we come to learn that Prince Charming isn’t always charming anymore. Well guess what? Neither is Cinderella that sweet. Another reason for this behavior is an unrealistic idea of what marriage is meant to be in the first place. Marriage is not a step-up to a solo career, it is signing up for a team sport.

So to recap on balancing our lives or collapsing them, how can we honor our husbands before we go running after the next best distraction?

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BALANCE or COLLAPSE, it’s your CHOICE.

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People observing people… trying desperately to balance their lives. I wonder how many ‘balancing act’ courses exist? How many of these courses are able to teach us how to harmonize our chaotic schedules?

In seeking answers today, I came across a few articles that spoke about ‘plates being too full’. One author’s solution was to insist our vision was too small. “Get a bigger plate” he said. “O dear” is my rebuttal.

The trend today is to brag about how busy we are, but chaos should never be something we aspire to. Paul certainly had something to say about busybodies (1 Tim. 5:13). Don’t sign up to do more stuff simply because there are a plethora of choices.

I asked a colleague yesterday what her secret to balancing life was. She answered, “Ask Him”. Two very powerful words that we Christians can put into practice. Before signing our entire family up for our ‘culture craze’ way of living, let’s see what God wants. Jesus certainly was accountable to the Father. Christ’s short life on earth was purposeful and focused. He could have accomplished more, but instead He gloriously fulfilled his purpose. I have often reflected on how hard it must have been for him to restrain himself from healing everyone he met, just because he could.

While reading “Spiritual Leadership” by Henry and Richard Blackaby, I came across a paragraph that struck a chord. In brief they talk about a man who decided to climb Mount Everest simply because ‘IT WAS THERE’. Years later his body was discovered. He lost his life trying to achieve an unessential objective.

Isn’t that what we all experience at one time or another over the course of our lifetime? We embark upon the unnecessary, just because the opportunity is there, AND ‘balance’ continues to evade us. This is where the enemy of our soul wants us – running around in circles like a chicken with its head cut off.

The Blackaby’s write, “why are you taking a particular action?”  “What are the long term ramifications?” The authors conclude, “Those who impulsively charge forward will eventually collapse on their mountain, their efforts misspent.”

So let us revisit the “Ask Him”, and let us challenge one another to read God’s Word, and find out what He has to say in regards to balance.

 

Blackaby, Henry and Richard, Spiritual Leadership, B&H Publishing Group, 2011, pg 86, 87.

 

 

 

Forgiveness Only Goes So Far?

The next time you mess up, remember we serve a God who runs after our heart!

“Forever is Ours”

I get stuck in the ‘here and now’, although free of my past.

I forget forever is ours.

I can fret all I want to, but you pray for me.

I’m never too far from your arms.

Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,

than a friend who runs after my heart?

Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,

that your forgiveness only goes so far.

 

So I’m struck by your patience and freed by your truth.

Reminded forever is ours.

You purchased my soul, you’re not trading me in,

and you died to hold me in your arms.

Why is it easier to picture a King who reigns on high,

than a friend who runs after my heart?

Because it’s in my stinkin’ nature to propagate the lie,

that your forgiveness only goes so far…

written in May of 2012 ©Cindy Palin

Psalm 103:12, Hebrews 10:17, Isaiah 1:18, Proverbs 18:24

Live TRUTH, and combat UNTRUTH

The choice to focus my thoughts on Christ is very personal, and an effective way to live with purpose and meaning, within the relationship we enjoy together. I get very disheartened when friends, and family abandon their faith for some new teaching, introduced by the latest, and greatest guru.  It is perfectly normal to keep our ears open, to listen and learn – but watch out if the teacher’s motivations and messages do not measure up with scripture.

“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (2 Tim. 4:3, 2 Tim. 3:7, Eph. 4:14).

 

The Gospel is still the message I choose to believe in, and the person of Christ has made himself known to me in many ways throughout my life thus far. My new worship song is entitled: I Love You Jesus. The lyrics are very simple, but the message means more than meets the eye (discussed below).

You’re so good to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So good to me, Jesus (Jesus)

I give you my whole heart, mind and soul. I love you Jesus.

You’re truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So truthful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

I hide your Word within, You’re life to these limbs. I love you Jesus.

I lift your name on high before all men.

Never to turn away from our covenant.

You’re faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

So faithful to me, Jesus (Jesus)

And I have a faithful heart, because of who YOU are. I love you Jesus. ©CindyPalin/May 2018

The first stanza “You’re so good to me Jesus” are words of honour and gratitude, acknowledgement of God’s goodness regardless of my circumstance.  My choice to worship Jesus for His goodness is not based on material wealth and health, but on who He is, what He has done for me, and how He continues to grow me.

“I give you my whole heart, mind and soul” are words of obedience to Christ’s command in Matthew 22:37.

The second stanza declares “You’re truthful to me Jesus, I’ll hide your Word within, you’re life to these limbs, I love you Jesus.” Check out what Randy Alcorn writes about Jesus and the truth… He begins by quoting “Jesus is the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6), and continues to say “Jesus is the reference point for evaluating all truth claims.”   http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/names-of-jesus/how-is-jesus-the-truth.html

The third stanza shouts “You’re faithful to me Jesus, and I have a faithful heart because of who you are, I love you Jesus”. Our faith does not depend on us, but on God’s faithfulness to us.  “So that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:5).

The words “I love you Jesus” are significant. Even believers can struggle saying these words, but they are not based on feelings, or whether we’ve had a faithful day or not. Again these words are a choice. The more we say them, the more we are shaped by them, and the more we reflect Him.

The chorus is a declaration of unwavering commitment.. “I lift your name on high before all men, never to turn away from our covenant.” I am tired of all the psycho-babble out there. To quote another songwriter – “Just Give me Jesus” – Jeremy Camp.

We need to speak our faith in Jesus out loud (and sing it). This is not something I do to convince myself of what my heart already knows, I do it to LIVE the TRUTH, and combat all UNTRUTH.

Song Sample to be posted shortly – Cindy Palin

Grab Hold of the Days Ahead….

I remember Africa and the journal I kept. A miracle a day was my daily writing task. “Keep your eyes open and watch for what God is going to do, and write it down”, I told myself. I was scared out of my mind and watching and writing calmed my racing heart.

This past Sunday our Pastor spoke from Hebrews, chapter eleven, but began with having the congregation read Hebrews 10:39. “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.”

Sunday night I crawled into bed and asked God how I was to approach the coming week. Monday morning, when my body and spirit were just starting to stir, and my eyelids beginning to flutter – I saw a little girl jump out of bed, and I knew. I was to grab hold of the days ahead like an excited little girl on Christmas morning. Coupled with the verse from Sunday what did it all mean exactly?

My husband drove me to the airport and despite the snow and fog, I was relaxed and felt very content. I should have barraged him with “little girl’ questions like “are we there yet?”

Tuesday a.m. in my hotel room I looked up a few scripture verses on the theme of faith and children, in hopes to glean further instructions. There were a few that stood out, but before I assume anything I am going to jump out of bed like God’s little, faithful child and watch for what He has for me.

(at the CAPSS conference in Niagra Falls, Ontario.)