Words of Encouragement

Archive for December, 2010

I CHOOSE

2009 12 December 26 Geocaching - 2867-1Feelings and emotions are not all that reliable. Mind you they rule the world … but still are not credible by times. Emotions are all over the place depending on hormones, circumstances, menopause, depression, the seasons, PMS, the weather …. sometimes we just have to go with the facts. Facts are not subject to emotion. When you are at an impasse in your life and emotions are taking over, sometimes you have to choose. Here are some facts that I have had to choose.

Feelings are not reliable when a loved one is diagnosed with an illness that may change or take their life and you are filled with worry, fear for the future, and despair. We cry out to God “why me, or why my loved one.” We are unsure if God cares and we vent our emotions. I’ve been there. How about you? I had to choose to believe that my loved one was cradled in God’s loving arms because I didn’t “feel” it.

What if you have been betrayed or slandered and lied about?  Betrayal is so painful.  What about when a criminal act has been committed against you or your family and you vent to God “where were you God when that was happening, why didn’t you stop that?! How could you just stand by and watch that?!” Been there … you too? My emotions were not pretty. I had a lot to say to God. He received my anger anyway. Again I chose to believe that he was in control in spite of how I felt.

What do we do when we make bad decisions and stray off the path that God had planned for us? What if our brokenness and shame stand in front of us like a wall and we are too paralyzed with inadequacy to move out of our feelings of guilt? Anybody been there? It takes every bit of courage to choose to take God’s hand and say okay I know you can redeem this and use it for good. He can. He will. He does. Choose.

All sounds simple huh. Nope. Sometimes we don’t “feel” anything. We go about in a robotic state just getting through the days and weeks. I don’t want to make it sound simplistic because choosing is huge. Honestly sometimes I don’t feel like choosing, I just want to wallow but if we can just take that one step God will meet us where we are and with His help move on … in spite of our emotions. Anger, fear, grief, jealousy, rage, shame, doubt, the list of emotions goes on. God can help with all of those.

What do you need to choose? What do you need to give to God because you are helpless to change it? What do you need to release control of? What circumstances do you need to trust God with in spite of how it looks and feels to you? Take the first step, choose. God is safe. He can be trusted! Test it 🙂 Then just wait and see what amazing things God can do. I am learning more every day with His help. I choose.

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, not any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39 NIV

By Cyndi den Otter (C)

 Copyright 2010 December 24 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission


THE OTHER ELEVEN MONTHS

NY 2009 - 4229-1Every Christmas season we have a burst of generosity. We suddenly are more aware of the needs all around us and are more inclined to share. We pack shoe boxes stuffed with gifts for children and send them off to other parts of the world. We pore through World Vision and Compassion catalogues so we can send a family a goat or some chickens so they can be self reliant.  We are on the alert for families in need.  We volunteer more.  We give more.  These are all good things.  I participate in them as well.  It makes me feel good.  It gives me a warm fuzzy … but it’s not really about me is it. Christine spoke up tonight and asked this question; “what about the other eleven months?”  Ouch!  I was feeling quite cozy and righteous until she said that. Now I do not feel so generous. I fell short.

Is it enough?  What does God expect of us? Our churches have been having more dialogue about this as we become increasingly aware of  global needs and how we as Christians have a responsibility to be God’s “hands and feet” in our own communities as well. I just read a book by Rich Stearns (president of World Vision) called “The Hole in our Gospel.”  It is a must read – if you dare.  It will open your eyes – wide open.  Taking care of needs of the lonely, broken, and poor is something our churches have done all along, but as we learn more there is the conviction to do more.  A group conversation followed about the many ways we could show the love of Christ by meeting people’s needs both globally and in our own community.  We agreed we had to accept people as they are, where they are, when they need us, for whatever they need – no blaming, no judging, just loving on them as Jesus did. By meeting their needs we show them Jesus.  We have a lot to think about.  I am glad the question was asked.

THE  OTHER  ELEVEN  MONTHS

Christmas is a time of sharing
Giving and spreading good cheer
You do good deeds
You meet some needs
Enough to last the whole year?

But now it is January
And I have no coat to wear
My boots are old
And I am cold
Do you have any clothes to share?

It’s April and I am lonely
I have addictions and fears
Yes, I’m to blame
And filled with shame
Why do you ignore my tears?

It’s June and I’m invisible
You look but your eyes do not see
I have no voice
You have a choice
Will someone speak up for me?

It’s August and I am thirsty
Drinking water filled with disease
Please share your wealth
To give me health
Fresh water is what I need.

It’s October and I’m hungry
Just open your eyes and see
Supply my need
Spare change will feed
Please don’t forget about me!

With your love you show me Jesus
Giving hope when I have despair
Then I can see
God’s love for me
If all twelve months you are there!

Matthew 25:35-40   (35)’For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in. (36) I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’   (37)Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? (38)When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? (39)When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ (40)“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’      NIV

By Cyndi den Otter (C)

Copyright 2010 December 5 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission


FLAP YOUR WINGS

Jeff's Cannon June 2432-1Do I really matter?  Do I have anything to contribute to the world?  Can I cause change?   Can God really use me? Are my gifts as important as others?  God got my attention about this in the last couple of weeks.  You all know how God does that when you don’t really want to hear it.  He repeatedly puts a theme right in front of your face so that you know that it is God and you can’t blame it on a coincidence … even when you want to.  Have you ever had a season of feeling sorry for yourself, you know, the whiny “I have no gifts, nobody cares, somebody else can do it better … nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll eat some worms” kind of feeling sorry for yourself.  I have.  Oh, admit it, you know you have felt like this.

Earlier this week I learned about the butterfly effect.  I was fascinated.  Butterflies on one side of the planet can flap their wings and start a chain reaction of moving molecules that can literally affect weather patterns on the other side of the planet.  Science has actually proven this unbelievable phenomenon.  Go ahead, google it.  It is called The Law of Sensitive Dependence Upon Initial Conditions.  It works with any form of moving matter including people.  Hey, I am a “people.” So does that mean that I can “flap my wings” and cause change?  Could God use me to cause change? That rolled around in my head all week.  Could I?  Could you?

Tonight I had the privilege of talking with a group of women as we discussed our strengths and gifts.  I felt a little awkward (okay, a lot awkward) and I sensed some of the others did as well.  Why are we like that when we talk about our own gifts?  We had to say out loud what we thought our gifts were.  That would just be terrible.  That would be bragging and we are humble people … right?  I could feel tears well up because I was not feeling very good about myself and I struggled to verbalize my gifts.  However, as we talked, and encouraging and affirming words poured out as the women spoke with each other, I thought why do we allow Satan to use this lie to paralyze us, especially when God tells us different.

 

1 Corinthians 12:  (4) There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all.(5) There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. (6) God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us. (7) A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other. (11) It is the one and only Spirit who distributes all these gifts. He alone decides which gift each person should have. (12) The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.  (18) But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it.  NLT  (Really you should read the whole chapter)!

Ephesians 3:10  For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.  NLT

You get the picture, we as Christians are part of something HUGE – a “chain reaction of moving molecules” that God has planned for us, if we would just flap our wings.  We are HIS masterpiece.  We have been given gifts and God has a job for us to do.  Believe it! So what is your gift?  Say it out loud – then flap your wings and watch God work through you!

By Cyndi  den Otter (C)

Copyright 2010 November 7 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission


THE PURSUIT OF ONE

NY 2009 - 6654-1Do you sometimes wonder if God really sees us?  You know, really SEES us.  I know the answer to this of course but sometimes when I have that anonymous feeling God gently reminds me that He does indeed see us and He longs for each of us to have a relationship with Him.

Recently I heard the testimony of a Jewish woman who now has a personal relationship with Jesus, and is in full time ministry.  As I listened to her testimony, I was struck by God’s relentless pursuit of her.  Incident after incident, what we call “coincidence” where God had placed people in her path at strategic moments until such time that this young Jewish girl understood that He was the Messiah!  She surrendered her life to Him.  God used many people who at the time obeyed His divine nudges.  None of them had any way of knowing how vitally important their little piece of the puzzle was to her salvation.  God was in pursuit.  He is in pursuit of all of us.  We have not been abandoned!

I went on a mission trip to New York City.  We did various missions in the inner city one of which was handing out tracts.  At one point we were in the subway.  When the doors of the subway trains opened, we were suddenly surrounded by a sea of people.  I passed out my tracts.  I was aware of hands accepting my tracts, bodies all crunched together in the masses of rush hour.  Some of the booklets got knocked to the floor, some tossed in the trash, and others walked away reading as they went.  I became aware of a firm grip on my arm.  A young woman looked me and said, “you will tell me what this says.”  It was not a question, it was an order.  We found a bench and she pointed at the tract and said, “tell me about this.”  In the noise of the subway platform, she explained that she was Jewish, had only been in the US for a short time.  As I explained the plan of salvation, tears began to flow down her face and she kept repeating, “yes, yes.”  Sensing the time was right I asked her if she wanted to accept Jesus as her saviour.  She said “yes, I want to do this.”  She prayed right there in the subway.  We conversed for a short time then she stood and said “there is my train’ and she was gone.  I sat on the bench stunned.  God had appointed that moment for a Jewish girl a continent away from her homeland and Cyndi from Canada to meet on a subway platform on 42rd street in New York City. God was pursing that young woman.  Do you have any doubt God sees us?

Whenever I am feeling invisible and abandoned, I think about God seeing a young woman on a subway platform in the midst of hundreds of people.  She was not invisible to God.  God had his eye on her.   The ever living, all powerful God of the universe is crazy about us and wants to have a relationship with us.  He pursues us!   That is mind boggling to me.   I would love to hear your story!

 

God’s love is meteoric, His loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, His verdicts oceanic. Yet in His largeness nothing gets lost, not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.
Psalms 36:6,7. MSG

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8 NIV.

By Cyndi den Otter (C)

Copyright 2010 May 10 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission


LIME GREEN BAND-AIDS

2010-06 June - 7434-1I love spring.  Springs means I can dig in the dirt and plant things.  Spring means I can stalk the nurseries waiting for them to open so I can score a few plants for my garden.   This spring I saw the loveliest lily.  It was orange and gold and a delight to my eyes.  I know, I have lots of lilies, but I did not have THIS lily. It had several buds that would soon bloom.   I made the purchase, carefully propped it up in the back of my SUV so it would not tip over on the ride home.  Okay, short version; it tipped over.  One of the buds broke off and another was dangling by its stalk.  I was distressed!  Not willing to give up, I planted the lily and splinted the stem with toothpicks and a lime green band-aid and waited.  I frequently checked its progress.  I talked to it and gave it some TLC and to my surprise and joy it bloomed along with all of the other buds on the plant!  I cheered and danced.  (It’s okay, my neighbours are used to this). Its loveliness outshone the scar below covered with a lime green band-aid.

I thought about that lily.  There have been times in my life that I have felt just like that broken and dangling lily, hanging on for dear life.  During those times, God placed in my life a few band-aid bearers.  They stayed close by during the healing process, checked in on my progress, and rejoiced with me when I was able to “bloom” again.  I suspect you have all been there at one time or another, most of us more than once.  Maybe you are there right now.  Sometimes we hide our brokenness thinking we are the only ones but if we really look around, I mean really look, you can see splints and band-aids everywhere and wounds in various stages of healing, and sadly some that are just broken and dangling by a thread.

Our job is to help our brothers and sisters along the way.  Obey those divine nudges from your heavenly Father.  Allow God to use you to support and encourage each other and pray for each other while God heals their wounds.  I cannot thank the band-aid bearers in my life enough!  People can help but they cannot heal. Our heavenly Father is our true healer.  He is the one who causes life to flow back through those broken places.  He knows all about it.  Jesus came to earth and endured all that we endured and then went to the cross to redeem that brokenness.

None of our pain is ever wasted.  God can use it all for His glory and His good.  Each and every one can bloom again just like that lily in my garden, in spite of the wounds!  Do you know of anyone that you can come along side of and encourage today?  I challenge you to go get some band-aids.  Lime green is a nice colour.  The results are beautiful!

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:17 & 18.

By Cyndi den  Otter (C)


Copyright 2010 July 4 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission


WHAT IF GOD WERE ON TWITTER

October 2009-Arjen&Niki 6096-11Media and social networking have exploded.  My 25 year old daughter considers herself one of the last of the “old school” on the edge of the media revolution … and she is only 25!  She says her world was/is completely different than that of her 16 year old brother.  If my 25 year old daughter feels like she is on the outer edge, what does that make me – outer space?  I feel old.  She however, can keep up easily.  I struggle.

 So much has changed.  When we speak for Family Life, we do a session on media.  We have to rewrite parts of it almost every time we speak.  The one we first wrote in 2006 is almost completely irrelevant. People used to communicate by writing a letter and sending it in the mail.  I can hardly remember the last time I wrote a letter.  I still send birthday cards in the mail but I can send an e-card if I choose.  Now everything is instant.  When my kids are away at university or working at camp, I can chat with them online.  We can chat with anyone on the planet for that matter or send a photo instantly through cyberspace.    If I desire to “follow” someone on twitter, I can know exactly what is going on in their life every time they update.

 Have you ever considered that communication with the God of the universe is just a “tweet” away?  “Twitter” is not new to God.  He always wants to communicate with us.  He always wants to know about our day.  He is always “on-line.”   He would love for us to “follow” Him.

I say this tongue in cheek but what if we were to “follow” God on twitter.  What would His tweets be to us?

 … I love you sooooo much.

 … Ah yes, I hear your prayers for your children, I’m on that.

 …  Yes, I see your tears; I am holding you right now.

 … I completely understand your prayer even though you were too distraught to verbalize it.

 … I love you.  I love you.  I love you.  I love you.  I love you.  I love you.

 … I think you are so valuable and I have a plan just for you. 

 … Forget about that.  I already took that to the cross – remember?

 … I know you are tired, let me give you strength for the day.

 … I am right here, I haven’t dropped you, don’t panic, I’ve got you.

… Now, now, don’t believe those lies Satan tells you.

 … You are the child of the God of the Universe.  I care about YOU.

 … Let me help you do that. 

 … I love you. I am crazy about you.  I am thinking about you every moment. 

 … Tempted eh?  Allow me to help you overcome that.

 …Trust me; there is a purpose in this.

 … Of course I feel your pain, allow me to turn that into good.

 … I need you to understand how much I love you.

 … Did you hear me mention that I love you?

 … ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

 

 The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.    Zephaniah 3:17.  NIV

God wants to communicate with you.  He is listening.  He is waiting.  What do you need to hear?

By Cyndi den Otter (C) 

Copyright 2009 October 9 Cyndi den Otter – All Rights Reserved May be used with author’s permission