Hebrews 13:8 Is It Spring Yet? Change is Coming

Today’s post was written by and shared with permission from Ann Mainse.
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Spring is in the air. At least that’s what they say. To be honest, as I look outside MY window, what I see is SNOW in the air! But Spring is definitely on my calendar. Yep, there it is, written in big stylized letters: Spring Begins. Those two words mean that the blanket of frigid fluffy white surrounding my home will soon be replaced by a carpet of fragrant pastel petals. The arctic winds rattling my windows will soon settle into refreshing breezes ruffling my hair. And the lonely skin-and-bones oak tree standing guard in my backyard will soon be draped in a robe of intricate living colour. Are you beginning to feel it? It’s coming. You can count on it.

It’s the time of year that I can just imagine God, with delicate strokes of His majestic paintbrush, adorning colour-starved landscapes with heavenly hues. You’ve seen it, haven’t you? Primrose red. Daffodil yellow. Forget-me-not blue. The Creator literally lavishing us with His creativity. Makes you wish that every day could be lived in Springtime, that the calendar would never turn. But we know that sadly, like many things in life, the colour doesn’t stay. The winds once again turn cold and all too soon the freshness of Spring shrivels into the looming decay of Autumn. But isn’t that what life is all about? Doesn’t everything in our lives fall prey to change? Children grow. Parents die. Bodies age. Like the windswept leaves on a blustery Fall day, our world is full of change.

But that presents a problem. I don’t know about you, but I need stability. Well, actually, I do know about you- we all need stability. As human beings, we have an undeniable longing to depend on something that will never change. Something we can count on. There has to be some anchor of safety from which we can brave life’s storms. Someone who stands the test of time, even as time marches on. And the good news is … there is! Just look at this promise from the book of Hebrews:

For He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down. ~ Hebrews 13:5 (The Amplified Bible)

Wow. I think God is trying to tell us something. Read over that verse again. Go ahead, I’ll wait. =) God said it: I will not leave you. And just in case we need it said in a different way:

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. ~ Hebrews 13:8

Jesus is God the Son. He is stable. He is unchanging. He’s not going anywhere and He wants to be your life’s Anchor. Take it from someone who has weathered a storm or two in her day. When it comes to stability in the midst of chaos, there is no one like Jesus. No one.

Okay- I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering, what if my life contains no major storms just the gentle passing of the seasons and the occasional manageable gusting wind. Do I still have the need to be connected to the never-changing One, Almighty God? You know what I’m going to say. Of course you do.

For although it may not happen tomorrow, we know that the paralysing death of Winter is coming. The final season is near. And while that knowledge in itself may cause some people to finally do much-needed business with God, I can’t help but grieve over all the beauty they’ve missed. The fragrance. The colour. For in coming to God through the Cross of Jesus, we are actually starting the seasons all over again. The fresh new life of Spring. The wild unhindered growth of Summer. The beauty of life’s ebb in Autumn. And finally the blanket of God’s eternal Presence in Winter.

As the snow melts outside my window, I’m reminded that Spring will eventually come. And along with the pictures on my calendar, so will the seasons dramatically change. But the one truth I hang onto through it all is that the Creator of those seasons will not. He guarantees it. And that, more than anything else, is definitely something we can count on.
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You can see more blog posts from Ann Mainse at Crossroads360 Contrtibutors. Crossroads360.com is a multi-channel service providing entertaining, informative and transformative content. In addition to blogs, there are episodes of past television shows as well as exclusive web content. Their channels include KidsSpace, God Stories, Music, Explore Faith, Nostalgia, Everyday Life and News.

Philippians 1:29 Don’t Be Chicken – Finding Courage In Unusual Places

Today’s post was written by and shared with permission from Ann Mainse.
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One of our family’s favourite classic movies is the “claymation” production by Dreamworks called, Chicken Run. The story revolves around a group of portly chickens and one stately older rooster who realize they’ve been “cooped up” far too long. The leader of the chickens is Ginger, an extremely intelligent and determined hen who refuses to spend the remainder of her days “fenced in” at the mercy of the sinister farmer. However, time and again their escape attempts from the concentration-camp-style chicken coop all ended in failure until, through a series of mishaps, they discovered a picture of an airplane. “This is our answer,” Ginger announced, and the group quickly coordinated the construction of their very own flying machine. However, as most good plans do, theirs ran into a snag when they were discovered by the bumbling farmer (hence, the famous line, “The chickens are organized!” – said in my best hackney accent). They had to act, and they had to act NOW.

As you can imagine, the announcement of immediate action only served to ruffle the feathers of the already “chicken” chickens. But Ginger wasn’t about to give up. Right there on the spot she gave an impassioned speech on why they should act, resulting in thunderous applause. However, it was the response from Babs (the hen that seemed always one egg short of a dozen) that still gives my family a good chuckle. At the height of her rallying cry, Ginger announced, “We’ll either die free chickens – or die trying!” That’s when Babs, with a quivering beak, asked, “Are those the ONLY choices?” Our family just loves that part! I think it’s because, whether we admit it or not, deep in our hearts, we are Babs. Facing the potential of suffering is a reality we’d really rather avoid. That’s why when reading certain passages in the Bible, most of us are stopped cold in our tracks.

The Apostle Paul was definitely a man who knew the meaning of suffering for his faith. In fact, he wrote several of his letters (which make up a good portion of the New Testament) while in prison. Just listen to what he wrote while sitting in a prison cell in Rome.

“There’s far more to this life than trusting in Christ. There’s also suffering for Him. And the suffering is as much a gift as the trusting.” Philippians 1:29 (The Message)

Did you get that? Suffering for Jesus is as much a gift as trusting in Him. Suffering is a gift. Hmmm… now there’s a sobering thought. One that (for most of us) doesn’t go down very easily. Another nugget to chew on is found in the fifth chapter of the letter Paul wrote to the church in Rome (actually it’s more like a full buffet of thought-provoking morsels).

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.” ~ Romans 5:3-5

Whoa… that’s a lot to take in. Let me get this straight. Problems >>> endurance >>> strength of character >>> confident hope of salvation >>> revelling in God’s love. You know, when you look at it that way, it doesn’t sound so bad. And the more you read of the Bible, the more you discover a theme. Even the Apostle James had something to say about it.

“When troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow…” ~ James 1:2-4

So to recap… Troubles come >>> great joy >>> endurance grows. Yep. There’s definitely a pattern. The obvious progression of suffering ultimately producing a growth in grace is undeniable. And with more grace comes a greater intimacy with the Grace Giver. And when you boil it all down, isn’t that the bottom line?

So to all the Babs in the world (myself included), you need not fear suffering. As we trust in God’s faithfulness, we can be assured that the process (no matter how long) will ultimately end in our good (Romans 8:28).

And just like our feathered friends, once we make it over to the other side, we’ll find that, really, it’s all been worth it.

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You can see more blog posts from Ann Mainse at crossroads360.com/blog. Crossroads360.com is a multi-channel service providing entertaining, informative and transformative content. In addition to blogs, there are episodes of past television shows as well as exclusive web content. Their channels include KidsSpace, God Stories, Music, Explore Faith, Nostalgia, Everyday Life and News.

Matthew 11:28-30 Weary Are We?

Today’s post was written by Ann Mainse.
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Confessions of a Weary Soul

Don’t you love it when God proves that He definitely has your number? Over the last few days, I’ve been feeling tired… worn out. Not just physically, but mentally, emotionally. If I’m to be totally honest (not a new thing, I promise!), I think sometimes I grow weary in well-doing. I know the verse in Galatians 6:9 that tells me not to, but sometimes I can’t help it. Have you ever been there? Maybe you’re there now. You’re doing all the right things, with all of your might… and you’re tired. Drained. It’s like you’re running on a treadmill (very good for you) and your energy level is depleting fast (not so good). You know you’re getting close to the end of your reserve, but the treadmill isn’t slowing down. What do you do? Well, if you’re me, you read what God has put right in front of you (like I said, He has my number). Have a look at where I found myself reading today…

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. ~ Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG)

Learn to live freely and lightly. You’re smiling, aren’t you? I know I am (I think HE is too). Why is it so easy to get caught up in doing for God and forget that He’d much rather we focus on being with Him? Learning from Him. Living in Him. Why is it so hard to remember that we’re not called to observe a religion but to enjoy a relationship? We just need to come.

Oh, we know that our life is in God’s hands. Jesus has our heart. God’s Spirit is our fuel. But, sometimes life gets so busy that we forget to top up the tank… to stay plugged into our Source. We forget to listen to His voice. Life gets busy. And busy is not always good.

One of my favourite authors, Jill Briscoe, put it beautifully in her book, The Deep Place Where Nobody Goes: Conversations With God on the Steps of My Soul. Let’s join her for a moment on the steps…

I ran to the Deep Place where nobody goes, and found Him waiting there.
“Where have you been?” He asked me.
“I’ve been in the shallow place where everyone lives,” I replied. I knew He knew. He just wanted me to admit I’d been too busy being busy.
“I’m running out…” I began.
“Of course,” He said. “I haven’t seen you in a while.”
He sat down on the steps of my soul and smiled at me. Angels sang; a shaft of light chased away the shadows and brightened my daily day. I smiled back.
“I’m such a fool…”
“Shhh,” He said, putting His finger on my lips.
He touched my hurried heart. Startled, it took a deep breath and skidded to a near stop. My spirit nestled into nearness in the Deep Place where nobody goes.
My soul spoke, then: He answered with words beyond music. Where on Earth had I been?

Good question (for all of us). How long has it been since we’ve sat quietly with Him? Allowed Him to speak into the deepest place in us? No iPhone. No daytimer. No meals, or laundry or wonderfully needy children. Just Jesus and you.

Where have you been? He asks. The invitation is clear. Your loving Source is near. Hear Him say it again.

Come to Me…
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You can see more blog posts from Ann Mainse at crossroads360.com/blog. Crossroads360.com is a multi-channel service providing entertaining, informative and transformative content. In addition to blogs, there are episodes of past television shows as well as exclusive web content. Their channels include KidsSpace, God Stories, Music, Explore Faith, Nostalgia, Everyday Life and News.

Luke 18:27 The Impossible Can Be Possible

Today’s post was written by Ann Mainse.
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THE MIRACLE OF LIFE

In the decade of the 60’s little was known about the secret life of the unborn child. Once conception had occurred, the child lived in its own separate and distinct world – a place where doctors were just as in the dark as the child in the womb. There were the basics, and little more. Gestation takes 40 weeks. The first few weeks are the most critical for the developing baby. And if anything goes wrong in those initial weeks, the life of the baby is in serious jeopardy. This is the place where a young mother named Betty found herself only 18 weeks into her pregnancy.

Premature Rupture of Membranes, or PROM, is the medical term that now describes what she had just suffered. All Betty knew was that one minute she was relishing the slight movement of life inside of her, and the next she was crying at a stab of pain and sitting in a puddle of fluid. “I don’t want to lose the baby!” she cried and prayed, as her husband drove her to the hospital. But the grim looks of the doctors told her otherwise. “Aside from resealing the sac, there’s nothing we can do,” they told her. “If the leaking starts again, we’re at a loss.” Remember, this was the 1960’s, long before amniocentesis and ultrasounds. And, unfortunately, the leaking did start again. More severe and, this time, beyond repair.

“If you lie flat on your back without moving a muscle, the baby may live for a while,” the doctors said.

At 18 weeks gestation, they knew there was no hope. But as the amniotic fluid drained from her body, Betty connected to the Originator of hope – and His name was Jesus. Lying flat on her back and holding her Bible above her head, she spent hours praying and soaking in God’s Word. And the doctors watched in amazement as their ‘little while’ extended far beyond what any of them expected. For four solid months Betty laid in that hospital bed, flat on her back, changing position only slightly for the benefit of the baby. And at eight months gestation, Betty delivered a normal, healthy six and a half pound baby.

When the doctors had lost all hope, God hand-delivered it in the form of His Word. And no matter what we’re going through, we possess that same hope. Just as Jesus said Himself, in the 18th chapter of the book of Luke:

What is impossible from a human perspective is possible with God.

Luke 18:27 (NLT)

Do you know the God of the ‘impossible’ – the same God that gave a devastated Mother hope when no one else would? You might say, “Yeah, how do you really know that story is true? How do you know God still does miracles today?” Well, I can tell you for a fact that it’s true … because I am that baby.

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You can see more blog posts from Ann Mainse at crossroads360.com/blog. Crossroads360.com is a multi-channel service providing entertaining, informative and transformative content. In addition to blogs, there are episodes of past television shows as well as exclusive web content. Their channels include KidsSpace, God Stories, Music, Explore Faith, Nostalgia, Everyday Life and News.