Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A New Website

I’ve moved. Please visit me at www.mariaimorgan.com for my latest blog posts, Life Lessons videos, and to sign up for a complimentary copy of my eBook, God Speaking.

God bless!

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I'm Moving & You're Invited to Visit

I remember staying up into the wee hours of the night attempting to pack those last few boxes. It was the middle of summer and moving day was a scorcher. 

We were only moving fifteen miles away, but it was a lot more work than I had anticipated. That was over thirteen years ago.

This week I’m in the final stages of moving to my new cyberhome. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump across the blogosphere, but this move has also required a lot of work. 

When I began the process several months ago, I really didn’t know what kind of design or layout I was after. I only knew it was time to migrate from a blog to a full-fledged website.

In a small way I can relate to the patriarch, Abraham, who was issued a challenge by God: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee,” (Genesis 12:1; KJV). 

What a tough assignment! To leave everything you’re familiar with and begin walking toward an unfamiliar destination. 

Blogging for over three years at the same address has caused me to become comfortable. For a while now, I've felt the need to step out of my comfort zone and take steps into the slightly scary, unfamiliar territory of a new domain.

I have to be honest – the work has paled in comparison to the excitement of welcoming you to my new address!

I’m tidying everything up this week, in anticipation of your visit. I’ll be serving up new blog posts and plenty of nooks and crannies for your exploration.

You’re Invited

Who: You

What: A cyberhome warming party

When: Tuesday, February 5th

Why: To introduce you to a new website where I'll be sharing the truths of God’s Word to encourage you throughout life’s journey

Won’t you join me? I look forward to seeing you on the 5th!

Is there an area of your life where you've gotten too comfortable? Is God challenging you to take a step toward the intimidating unknown? Will you respond in faith today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for challenging me to step out in faith and trust You with the direction of my life. I know it won't always be easy, but I desire to grow. Help me to take the next step today. Thank You for the promise that You'll always be with me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Join in the conversation!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

At the Heart of it All

The wedding was beautiful. The bride, dazzling in white. The groom, radiant as he stood waiting for his bride. As vows were spoken and rings were exchanged, I had no doubt the bride and groom were in love. In love with each other and in love with the Lord. The Lord was praised for bringing the couple together and He was an integral part of the wedding ceremony.

Two Become One

A wedding signifies the merging of two lives. Marriage was instituted by God himself, and is a beautiful picture of Christ’s relationship with the church. “For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church,” (Ephesians 5:31-32; KJV). 

So this translates to ‘happily ever after,’ right? Only when the Lord, hard work, and determination are part of the equation.

Every marriage faces challenges. Sometimes I selfishly want things to be done my way – forgetting my better half. “Oneness in marriage does not mean losing your personality in the personality of the other. Instead, it means caring for your spouse as you care for yourself, learning to anticipate the other person’s needs, helping the other person become all he or she can be,” (Life Application Study Bible, p. 2078). 

Wow! Now that’s a tall order. But when God is at the heart of the relationship, we put ourselves in a position where He can bless us, and our marriage works.

A Love Story Worth Reading

Remember Ruth and Boaz’s love story? Ruth was a young woman from Moab who was profoundly influenced by her mother-in-law, Naomi. When Ruth’s husband died and Naomi determined to return to Bethlehem-Judah, Ruth willingly left her country, and embraced a new life, “…for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God,” (Ruth 1:16b). 

Once back in Judah, Ruth was determined to help Naomi. Gleaning in a nearby field gave her an opportunity to harvest food for the two of them. 

Enter the knight in shining armor. Okay, he didn’t really wear armor, but check out his list of qualities and decide if he was a keeper: above reproach, self-controlled, wise, respectable, hospitable, gentle, a godly man, and a good manager of his own household – to name just a few. I’m pretty sure he’s the kind of guy every mother dreams of for her daughter!

God's Blessings

In order to marry Ruth, Boaz had to fulfill some legal obligations. He was willing to do everything that was necessary. These two demonstrated a strong love for the Lord as individuals and continued to build on their foundation as a couple. And God blessed! “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son,” (Ruth 4:13). 

That son turned out to be none other than Obed, the grandfather of David! Ruth and Boaz were blessed for their obedience to the Lord by being included in the lineage of Christ.

When we center our marriage on the Lord, we can be sure we will be blessed as well. In fact, any relationship with Christ at its core is headed in the right direction! “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing,” (Zephaniah 3:17).

Evaluate your relationships. Is Christ at the center of each of them? If not, what step will you take today to make Him the emphasis?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the relationships You’ve blessed me with. Help me to build strong relationships where You are honored and glorified. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

Tweetable: "When God is at the heart of our relationship, we put ourselves in a position where He can bless us, and our marriage works." #LifeLessons

*A re-post from 9/2011

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ready & Willing

He did it again. Provided just the words of encouragement I needed to pick up and move ahead. My husband's good at that. He helps me see things from a different perspective. He provides the sounding board I so desperately need when I'm considering my options. He talks me through discouragement, pointing out the endless possibilities. He cheers me on when I feel like quitting. And guides me to the One who filled me with a purpose in the first place - my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I was never promised life without difficulties. Even when I'm convinced that I'm pursuing the purposes God has called me to, challenges pop up along the path. Yet with each challenge, God provides me with someone to come alongside and help put things in perspective. Precious believers, living out the words of the apostle Paul, "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ," (Galatians 6:2; KJV).

I'm reminded of the mighty man of God, Moses. He had no small task leading the children of Israel out of Egypt to the promised land. Imagine being responsible for the well-being of millions of people! Along their journey, the Amalekites had come out to fight with Israel in Rephidim. Moses' directions to his military leader, Joshua, were clear, "Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand," (Exodus 17:9).

The next day dawned with Joshua leading the army out to battle and Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbing to the top of the hill - a great vantage point from which to view the fight. Moses quickly noticed an amazing phenomenon, when he held up his hands, Israel overcame the enemy, but when he put his hands down, the Amalekites began beating the Israelites. A bit uncanny, but true!

Moses soon realized he wouldn't be able to hold his arms up throughout the battle without help. Aaron and Hur to the rescue! They found a stone for Moses to sit on, and with Aaron on one side and Hur on the other, they held up Moses hands for him. What were the results? "...and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword," (Exodus 17:12b-13). Wow! Look at what was accomplished when these friends came alongside Moses and offered their help! A great victory!

King Solomon outlined several blessings of godly companionship. "Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will life up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken," (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

When I'm rooted in Christ and I come alongside a fellow believer, there's no limit to what God can accomplish!

Is there someone the Lord is directing you to help and support? Arm yourself with the Word of God and prayer and be prepared to see God work!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for believers You've put in my life who provide encouragement and support. Help me to be quick to come alongside others who are in need of help. Allow me to point them to You and be careful to praise You for the outcome. In Jesus' name, Amen.        

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Join in the conversation!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Stuffed Peppers & 4 Things They Taught Me About God

I meant to get dinner started earlier. Stuffed green peppers were on the menu, and I remembered the recipe was a bit involved – not difficult, just time-consuming. I began the necessary prep work at 5 o’clock, guessing we’d be able to eat within an hour and a half. I knew my husband and daughter were hungry, but 6:30 wasn’t too late to be eating dinner.

Once the peppers began to boil, I started working on the filling. It didn’t take long to cook the sausage and onion, and add the remaining ingredients. Maybe the recipe wouldn’t take as long as I had initially thought.

Glancing back at the directions, I saw my mistake. Once the meat mixture came to a boil, it needed to simmer on low heat for an hour. After the peppers were stuffed, they needed to bake in the oven for another 30 minutes. Somebody had grossly underestimated the time needed to make this dish – the 90 minutes that were called out on the recipe, only took cooking time into account.

With my family asking if dinner was almost ready, I made the executive decision to finish the peppers. Unfortunately, dinner wouldn’t be served until after 7 o’clock. We were finally able to sit down and enjoy our meal at 7:15.

From start to finish, making the stuffed peppers was a long process. I had to smile at the countless times I’d looked at the clock, wondering how long it would take before our meal would be ready, and wishing it would hurry up and be done. I couldn’t help thinking, “I’m glad God isn’t like that with me.”

As I’m on this journey called life, God doesn’t rush the growth process.

*He knows I’m human:For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust,” (Psalm 103:14; KJV).

*He is very patient:The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy,” (Psalm 103:8).

*He has a goal for me: For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren,” (Romans 8:29; italics mine).

*He is always with me:. . . for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” (Hebrews 13:5).

What a relief to know that God doesn't shake His head in disgust when I miss a lesson He has for me. Instead, in His patience and mercy, He gives me more opportunities to learn that same lesson. He’s not watching the clock and wishing I’d hurry up and grow. Instead, He remembers I’m human, and reminds me that I can count on Him to be with me every step of the way.

Are you impatient? How will you respond to what God showed you today?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for your patience. I know I’m human and fail you in so many ways. Help me learn the lesson you have for me today. Thank you for always being with me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Don't Work for the Circus

Dependence. Not a word I usually think of in positive terms. The dictionary defines it as: "reliance on somebody or something," (Encarta Dictionary). In a society that encourages me to "pull myself up by my bootstraps," having to rely on anyone or anything other than self isn't a very popular concept.

Obviously there is something to be said for independence. When a child reaches adulthood, it's natural for her to get a job, find a place of her own, and pursue a life independent of mom and dad.  That's a good thing.

But dependence can also be a good thing. At every stage of life, I've found it's important for me to be aware of my dependence on God.

There are days when I've tried to run the show on my own and have failed miserably. I know what needs to be done, but I can't accomplish it in my own strength. I end up frustrated and exhausted. And I realize why I don't work for the circus -- I could never juggle all those balls at the same time!

When life seems out of control, I can run back to the One who controls it all and learn from His Word.

Remember the prophet Daniel? His life gives me a good example of what it looks like to depend on God.

Daniel was a young man when he was taken into captivity by the Babylonians. When his captors offered him food from the king's table which was forbidden by the law of God, Daniel didn't waste time letting them know where his allegiance lay: "But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself," (Daniel 1:8; KJV).

Talk about dependence! Daniel trusted God with his life. He depended on God to give him favor with the king of Babylon. Notice the result: "And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king," (Daniel 1:19). Daniel and his friends were elevated to positions as counselors, or wise men, in the king's cabinet.

God's faithfulness proved to Daniel that he could fully depend on his Creator. Later, when the king flew into a rage and would have killed all of his counselors, Daniel asked the king's captain for an explanation. It seemed the king couldn't find anyone to interpret his disturbing dream.

Daniel couldn't interpret dreams, but he knew God could. After praying for God's mercy, the meaning of the king's dream was revealed to Daniel in a vision. When he stood before the king, Daniel was careful to praise God and give Him credit for the dream's interpretation. Once again, depending on God had saved Daniel's life.

The God Daniel served is the same God I serve. God never changes. Although I'm not a captive, or working for a foreign king, God gives me just as many opportunities to depend on Him. Realizing I need His help is important. When I depend on God to give me strength for the things that need to be accomplished, He is more than able to exceed my expectations -- every time.

Are you trying to live life in your own strength? What step will you take to begin depending on God?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for showing me that it's important to depend on You. Forgive me when I try to live life on my own -- I don't accomplish much and I end up tired. Help me trust You with the everyday details of living. I need Your strength. In Jesus' name, Amen. 

*I'm hosting over at Living by Grace today. Join in the conversation!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

3 Things I Learned from a Medieval Torture Rack

It looked like a medieval torture rack. Okay, maybe my description was a bit dramatic. But the table and machine - complete with Velcro straps and cables - didn't strike me as inviting.

My husband Steve proved to be a good candidate for the ominous equipment. The decompression provided by the machine would separate the  discs in his lower back that were causing him problems.

Although unsure of what caused the initial injury, Steve's back pain motivated him to look into treatment. Any alternative to surgery was being considered. Chiropractic seemed to be a logical choice.

 Because of a busy work schedule, it was difficult to get Steve to commit to regular chiropractor appointments. But pain can be a pretty strong motivator. He realized he had to do something, and he was willing to give the decompression machine a chance.

Each session was monitored by the chiropractor. He would program the machine to apply a specific amount of pressure to Steve's lower back. With every appointment the pressure was gradually increased. Although Steve still experienced pain, it was a different kind of pain. Soreness had replaced the ache of bone rubbing against bone. The decompression was working.

The whole process reminded me of how God works.

Of course He doesn't use tables or machines, but He still stretches me.

*I have to recognize my need for growth. It's easy to fool myself into thinking I've arrived. But I'm only kidding myself. God's plan is to conform me to the image of His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). I've got a long way to go.

*I have to show up for my appointments with the Lord. Every day I have the opportunity to read His Word and talk to Him in prayer. If I'm not willing to be still and listen to what He has to say, I won't apply His principles to my life.

*I have to trust that He knows what He's doing. He will do what's best for me. The process may be difficult and sometimes painful, but it WILL lead to growth.  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ," (Philippians 1:6; KJV).

I have a choice to make: will I allow the Lord to stretch me? I want to grow, so I know I need to spend time with the One who can help me. Today I choose to trust Him no matter what method He uses to stretch me.

Are you willing to be stretched? What step will you take to ensure your growth?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for the valuable lessons You taught me. Forgive me when I'm prideful and don't see a need for growth. Help me set aside time to develop my relationship with You. Help me trust You when You apply pressure that will help me stretch. In Jesus' name, Amen.