Category: <span>thoughts by Shelaine Strom</span>

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.” Acts 2:2

The bark and rock-covered floor of the lake mesmerized me as I stared from the edge of the dock through ten feet of perfectly calm water. Stillness. I glanced up, my attention caught by an advancing line – the wind rushing across Harrison Lake. Technically, I suppose that’s not true. I observed evidence of the wind – changed water color, white-capped waves and a dividing line between calm and tumultuous.

There had been no clouds rolling in or other observable changes when the wind whipped around the rock point near the cabin sending the undulating dock lilting and smacking against the water. It all happened within seconds. Powerful.

It’s the character of this lake. Each time I return here the surrounding mountains and deep, snow pack-fed water are familiar, and yet, I realize the more I study the lake, the less I truly know it. It’s simply too vast to take in.

And so it is in my relationship with the Lord. He is the mighty rushing wind that takes my breath away with His strength and power to heal and change lives. He is the gentle breeze that nudges me to speak or act, giving counsel and direction. He is the quiet voice whispering love and forever-presence in the still moments of an unhurried life. And He is more.

What aspects of God’s character are most familiar to you? Are you willing to ask Him to reveal more of His nature to you in order to deepen your relationship with Him?

Lord, please draw me into deeper relationship with You and cause my heart to long for greater intimacy and knowledge of your Spirit. Amen.

Take a few minutes to write down all the character traits you know of God. Ask the Lord to reveal more of Himself to you.

by Shelaine Strom
Used by Permission

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Further Reading

•  Pressing the RESET button on our lives 

•   Keeping Yourself in God’s Love – even during painful times in your life

•  Salvation Explained


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“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

My son posted a video of his two buddies and him bungee jumping. The song ‘Let it Go‘ played as I watched the first young man being harnessed in and clasped to the long, elastic rope. The employee carefully checked the straps and guided the friend through the gate to the launch pad. The jumper shifted his weight and swallowed hard as he inched closer to the edge. He surveyed the deep canyon below, looked at the camera, and then said to the attendant, “Will you, will you push me?” The reply: “No, you have to jump.

My son’s friend had safety-sealed gear secured around his middle, the company possessed a solid reputation and a group of friends cheered in support. Perhaps it was the survival instinct within that rendered him pale! As I watched the video, I imagined that span between his feet leaving the platform and the point of rebound. A leap of faith never looked more tangible!

Over and over, I am led to the precipice of uncertainty or change and given the option to jump, by faith, into a vast unknown. Sometimes the free-fall is terrifying. But the adrenaline rush of living by faith is balanced by the solid foundation of God’s unchanging nature and promises.

Lord, please remind me daily to walk in the confidence that you are my constant guide and protection. Amen.

Thought: Take time to review the ways God has protected and guided you through difficult times and thank Him, in advance, for how He will continue to do so in the future.

By Shelaine Strom
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“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6

I used to work in a program where overtly talking about God was not allowed. It took me years to resolve the fact that while I couldn’t speak the name of Jesus, I could ask God to make me into a seed planter by teaching biblically-based principles and treating my clients with love and respect. In faith, I did this as best I could, trusting God for His outcome. People came and went each month and I rarely got to know how God grew those seeds. But occasionally, I did, like with Maria.

Maria’s story included great loss – marriage, children, health and work and by the time she arrived in our career transition program, she seemed but a shell of a person. However, by our farewell luncheon, she spoke of feeling heard and cared for and ready to begin again. And then she was gone.

Years later Maria showed up unexpectedly at our office. We hardly recognized this vibrant woman who brought us up to date on her life, including meaningful work and her “chance encounter” with a local Divorce Care ministry which drew her into a deeper healing journey. She stopped at this point and stated, “You are all Christians here, aren’t you?” We confirmed her suspicion and she shared how she knew something was different about us. When she became a Christian, it clicked. Like the leper who returned to give thanks for healing, she wanted to come back and thank us for our part in her story.

Seeds matter. Where are you planting today?

Lord, please give me the courage to plant seeds, the belief that others will water, and the faith to wait while You make things grow. Amen.

Thought:  Do an act of kindness in the name of Jesus today.

by Shelaine Strom
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Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 13-14

Waiting” has been my buzz word for the past two years as my name has inched up a long list toward a surgery date. I recall a counseling appointment early in the process where I wrestled with feeling set on a shelf. Waiting felt passive, like a huge waste of time. While the specifics of what the counselor said are lost, the bigger message stuck – “Live your life.”

Over time, I am adopting this perspective more and more that my life is whatever is presently going on. It sounds simplistic but are we waiting for something to change or get better in order to start living? I appreciate one author’s idea that we must forgive the very circumstances of our lives and I would add to that, that we even need to embrace them. This is my life – today – right now – these moments. Whatever they are…or aren’t.

And yet I am called to wait for the hope of glory. Scripture clearly instructs us to fix our eyes on the prize, keep the finish line in view, to remember the goal of eternity. So I experience a tension in this earthly home, not waiting to live the one life God has given me here while waiting to live with Him eternally. At first it can seem contradictory when, in fact, it’s the very looking forward to eternity that needs to inform my priorities for today. I catch a glimpse of the big picture as I attempt to faithfully walk out the small picture.

Lord, please help me to keep my eyes focused on the end goal so that I will see You in this moment and what You have for me today. Help me to live each day fully for You. Amen.

Thoughts: Consider what you are waiting for and ask yourself if it is keeping you from living or motivating you toward eternity. How can you actively anticipate eternal life? What are you putting off?

By Shelaine Strom
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THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

Read: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

The Lord is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.” Psalm 23: 1

My husband stood up in the middle of our conversation, opened the back door, walked onto the landing and yelled,Taylor, come home for supper.” Reasonable perhaps, except that I was only six months pregnant with our first child! When Bill came back in the house he announced, “Yes, the name works. I like it.”

My husband knew that someday he would be shouting out that same name to a child who really did need to come home – to a boy who would respond to the voice of his dad. In the same way our Heavenly Father, also called Jehovah-Raah or The Lord my Shepherd, beckons us to Himself. Do you know the voice of the Great Shepherd?

A shepherd knows his sheep intimately and will go to great lengths to find a lost one, nurse a sick lamb back to health and protect and care for his flock. The Lord does the same for us. He leads by still waters. He restores weary souls. He feeds and guides along the right paths – all for my good, my safety and my well-being.

My role as His sheep is to listen and follow. God knows my name and is calling me to fullness of life in His fold where He provides and watches over. The Lord is my Shepherd.

Father, please help me to recognize, obey, and be comforted by your voice today.

Thought: Read and meditate on Psalm 23

By Shelaine Strom

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devotional

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

The risen Christ dwells within me… Seriously? Is it possible that the God of the Universe would make Himself so vulnerable as to live on earth, die a human death and be raised to life? And then, because I believe in and follow Christ, choose to have his Spirit live within me? If all of this is so, what difference does that astonishing truth make in my life?

In his book, The Voice of Jesus, Gordon Smith says that, “True consolation, the work of the Spirit of God, will result in a life of holiness, service and generosity in response to the call of Christ.” He is referring to the opportunity I have to listen to the whisper of the Spirit for direction and counsel on how to live. When I tune my ears to voice of the One who dwells within, the One who conquered death on my behalf, the natural outflow ought to be one of a changed perspective, meeting the needs of others and giving abundantly from His generous overflow.

I find myself asking the question a friend posed to me recently. Am I choosing pragmatism or holiness in life’s uncomfortable decisions? Do I obey God’s directives from Scripture and the nudging of the Spirit of the Living God who resides in me? I want to tune my heart to His voice so I can live a changed life.

Lord, thank you that your Spirit lives within in me and wants to change me to be more like you. Please help my heart to hear and my will to obey your direction. Amen.

By Shelaine Strom

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Author: Shelaine Strom
Author: Shelaine Strom

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26

Maay I huv shum juz, phleez?”

Translated, it means, “May I have some juice, please?” and it’s how I sounded for the nine days after my jaw joints were replaced in an eight-hour surgery and my jaw wired shut. I could move my lips, but unnaturally as large metal surgical braces were affixed to my teeth. During that period, my husband and I worked hard at reaching understanding. I scribbled notes on a pad, used my best charade skills and “shlurped” words through my teeth.

I realized very quickly that my communication needed to be simplified and I only attempted to convey the essentials. Bill worked hard at deciphering my strong impediment and sometimes we had to resign ourselves to “later” because I couldn’t find a way to say it differently and clearly.

I am so thankful the same is not true when communicating my needs to the Lord.

Thanks to the Holy Spirit who lives within me, my requests are brought to God. When I don’t know how to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes with moans and groans on my behalf. He makes my needs known to the Father in those life-places where distress overwhelms and I can’t even form words. The Spirit assists me when I am at my weakest.

Do you know you have an advocate in the Holy Spirit?

Thank you, Holy Spirit, that you know my inmost being and longings and take my needs to the Father.

Thought:  Quiet your heart and ask the Holy Spirit to direct how you pray, resting in the knowledge that He will.

By Shelaine Strom

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Flowersby  Shelaine Strom

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

The wooden wisteria frame at the back of our yard provides the perfect arms to hold hanging baskets. “I suppose you’ve already seen what I need to confess,” my husband smiled, pointing to a fuchsia with brown, withered leaves and blooms that hung lifeless on the limp branch.

Bill had inadvertently stepped on and snapped off the strand while the baskets were down for feeding. He jammed the detached piece into the soil and hoped for the best. Initially the stem blended into the flowering masses and passed for a living, viable part of the plant. It didn’t take long though for the shriveling to begin. Only being near the source of life did not provide the nutrients necessary to flourish and bloom.

And so it is with us and Jesus. We can attend church and plant ourselves near the Source but if we aren’t directly attached to Him, we also wither. As I look at my basket, I’m reminded how many individual strands and blooms come together to make the beautiful whole. When each member of the body of Christ – the church – draws deeply from an individual connection with Him, we can come together and thrive.

Are you connected to the Vine and plugged into a body of believers?

Father, please nourish my soul that I may be a thriving member of Your body and faithfully serve You and others. Amen.

Take a Step: Ask God to show you one way you can serve someone today.

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