Courage to Forgive

“Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that just crushed it.”- Mark Twain

Who among us has not suffered some kind of lose, hurt, betrayal or offense in our life? Who among us has not struggled to move on from these situations? How about when instead of you being the target of some mistreatment, it has been a very close loved one or your child or grandchild? Many times those are the hardest to stomach.  Have you ever struggled with forgiving them? I know I have! The absolute greatest example of forgiveness ever was the example Jesus Christ set for us. Let’s take a peek…

Isaiah 53:1-9 Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He didn’t have an impressive form or majesty that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate?

For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of my people’s rebellion. They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully.

Jesus suffered greatly, was persecuted unjustly, betrayed by one of the twelve most intimate friends in His ministry and denied by others; whether by their fleeing or by outright denial of association. Further more, He was tortured along the route to the place He would be killed for crimes that were never committed. Still He never ceased to show compassion and forgiveness. Even as Jesus was drawing His last breaths, mercy was on His mind as He uttered the words, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” about those who had been integral in His arrest, trial, sentencing and soon to come death.  The offenses, betrayal and pain He suffered was heinous! Yet, Jesus forgave and asked God to forgive!

Some will say, but Jesus was God’s Son and He was fully God. I submit to you that He was also fully man with the same feelings, thoughts and emotions that we struggle with. His experience here was fully human while also being fully God, something we can not fully understand this side of His Kingdom. Yet He choose to forgive and petition for forgiveness not only for those who were responsible for His treatment but for us as well.

The Bible has many references to forgiveness, as best I have been able to find the most scripture with the word forgive are found in the New International Version. It mentions forgive 74 times, 42 in the Old Testament and 32 in the New.  Forgiveness can be difficult for us but it is the example that Jesus not only set for us but requires from us. He very specifically said that as we forgive so we will be forgiven. Conversely, as we hold onto offense and grudges, so will our offenses and sin be remembered. However, we are also promised He is wiling to forgive us and remember them no more if we repent, after all that was the reason He came.  To restore our relationship with God.  What better motivation to forgive those who we feel have wronged us?

Notice that He asked His Father to forgive them…why? We only have to look to scripture for the answer. Let’s consider Moses. In Exodus 16, it tells us that the Hebrew people grumbled against Moses and Aaron. They’d had it with wondering in the desert and were longing for the foods of Egypt forgetting their captivity and the conditions they had lived under. Moses petitioned God on their behalf. In verse 6 Moses addresses the people with the response; in the morning you will see the Lord’s glory because He has heard your complaints about Him. For who are we that you complain about us? ” Moses continued, “The Lord will give you meat to eat this evening and more than enough bread in the morning, for He has heard the complaints that you are raising against Him. Who are we? Your complaints are not against us but against the Lord.” (‭Exodus‬ ‭16‬:‭7-8‬ HCSB)  

Moses and Aaron were getting the flack, but the real sin was against God and God alone. This is also repeated similarly in Numbers 14. We can also find further evidence in Psalm 51 when David is writing about his sin with Bathsheba after Nathan the Prophet confronted him of his sin. In verse 4 David acknowledges that “against You and You alone have I sinned” as he speaks to God. Notice he did not mention sin against his soldier with whom he should have been with in battle; nor did he mention Bathsheba or her husband. He said it was God and God alone he had sinned against.  Perhaps we can draw a conclusion based of scriptural evidence that when someone wrongs us, they are not only hurting us but their complaints/wrongs are against God.

Personally, I am finding this realization along with the assurance that I am God’s child and a joint heir with Christ makes it easier to let go of offenses suffered and allow God the space to work in my life and leave it to Him to also work in the life of the one who may have brought some hurt or pain into mine…

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize the prisoner was you.” -Lewis B Smedes

“Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”                   -Corrie Ten Boom

They confronted me in the day of my distress, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out to a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me. (‭Psalms‬ ‭18‬:‭18-19‬ HCSB)

May we find the love of Christ in our lives and find the love, mercy, and  compassion to forgive others!  Also, to be forgiven as we have forgiven and be full of His joy. Grace and peace to you this day!

Putting Feet to It

Today a band of believers from Lifegate Church in Villa Rica, Ga embark on a time of fasting and prayer for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. I tell you this not to brag about our church; I am writing about this because when I last blogged, I had no idea that this was in the works. I also would like to invite you to join us in prayer for those suffering and persecuted. My last blog was motivated by the realization that 21 had been murdered because of their belief in Christ and the very day it posted another forty plus Christians were burned to death. Learning this was heart wrenching. The internet is a huge resource to find out about this topic. I will share a few links here:

Over the years I have learned just how powerful a thing prayer is. Prayer is also very personal, at least in my thinking. The Word of God is very clear that we are to go into our ‘prayer closet’ and pray.

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.…Matthew 6:5-7

Maybe you can imagine my surprise, even angst, this morning as I prayed when I felt the tugging of the Holy Spirit nudging me as I finished my time of prayer. I felt Him guiding me to blog about this subject again and to include my morning prayer for His people. “But Lord, what about Matthew 6?” was my response…the nudge was stronger still… so here goes, we just talked about little acts of obedience in our small group last night. Perhaps someone is wondering how they can pray for those who are suffering for their faith and that is His reason for asking me to share; or perhaps it is for someone out there who is being persecuted for their faith to find and be encouraged that people care and God is leading us to pray for them. Also, before I begin, let me share with you the link we are using where there are additional suggestions to pray if you are interested:

Dear Lord,

You are my Lord and I praise you and lift up Your Holy Name. Father, I thank You for Your love, mercy, grace and forgiveness; Your salvation, provision and watch care! Today Lord, we begin a time of prayer and fasting for the persecuted church around the world. Your Word says in the last days this will happen and it will increase.. More and more people around the world are suffering for their faith; men, women, and even children.. Lord, I pray for their strength; to hold fast to their faith. I pray Lord that they will actually grow even deeper  in their faith and trust in You, and in Your love for them and in their love for You.   I pray for their release  Lord, but if not I pray for a supernatural move of God upon this planet. I pray that Your Spirit will be poured out and visions and dreams will visit  those who are responsible for  the torture and  death of Your children   I pray that the  reverential fear of the Lord will come on people like never before!  I pray Father that you will raise up prayer warriors all over the world to  pray like never before and that our united voices  for these precious people will make a difference; that they will know that they are remembered and loved.   May revival start one  by one in and through Your people, Your church  and spread all across this planet. May Your people  awaken too what is going on and rise up in prayer.  May Your Holy Spirit rule and reign in each heart that follows You and may He rule  and reign across this earth. May revival break out  as we take a stand on our knees!!  May  Your Spirit penetrate to the farthest nations around the globe  and be poured out on every person  spreading the love of Christ, His saving power and HIs love and grace. Spirit of Truth,  I pray  for revelation of every false god and every spirit of darkness and evil  to be seen for what it truly is. I  pray for increased wisdom and understanding for all Your people. Reveal things that help us know how to pray so that we can move to deeper levels of prayer and intercession for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Father, I pray  that the yokes of bondage be broken off  and Your people set free.  I  ask that those responsible will be set free from the kingdom of darkness and come into  the knowledge of truth. May they come to know the true God of Creation and His Mighty and loving Son. I pray that You raise up Your children in the spirit of 2 Chronicles  7:14,  humbling ourselves and uniting in prayer before You crying out for forgiveness, both personal and for our nations; seeking Your face; Your leadership;  Your will;;  lifting up those being tortured and killed and lifting up each other. One by one as we seek You, may revival come and people be saved,  delivered, set free and healed.  May lives be forever changed as You move and answer our prayers.  May we be Your humble and obedient servants. In the mighty Name of Jesus  te Name that is above all others I pray, Amen

A Burdened Heart

      Can I just be honest with you today? My heart is weighed down and burdened as I begin this day.  More people are being martyred today than ever before in history. It is all over the headlines; all over social media. Men, women and children, yes children are being murdered consistently because of their faith.  Astoundingly, searching the internet for estimates, I found the estimates for those martyred per year  because of their faith ranging from 100,000 in older articles to 159,960 in more recent articles. Some stats say more have been martyred in the last century than in all other centuries combined. One sight estimates as many as one person every five minutes is martyred for their faith yet until recently we have heard very little about this in news outlets.

      Now that awareness is arising, we are looking for someone to blame for allowing it to happen. Questions are flying. How can governments allow this to happen? Where is the Church, why are they not doing something? Why are they not talking about it more? As awareness arises, all sorts of questions come to the forefront. Emotions run rampant. I can only imagine how our Heavenly Father’s heart must ache at their pain, suffering and loss. In fact, Psalm 94 speaks to this very thing:

O LORD, the God who avenges! O God who avenges, reveal your splendor! Rise up, O judge of the earth! Pay back the proud! O LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked celebrate? They spew out threats and speak defiantly; all the evildoers boast. O LORD, they crush your people; they oppress the nation that belongs to you. They kill the widow and the one residing outside his native land, and they murder the fatherless. Then they say, “The LORD does not see this; the God of Jacob does not take notice of it.” Take notice of this, you ignorant people! You fools, when will you ever understand? Does the one who makes the human ear not hear? Does the one who forms the human eye not see? Does the one who disciplines the nations not punish? He is the one who imparts knowledge to human beings! The LORD knows that peoples’ thoughts are morally bankrupt. How blessed is the one whom you instruct, O LORD, the one whom you teach from your law, in order to protect him from times of trouble, until the wicked are destroyed. Certainly the LORD does not forsake his people; he does not abandon the nation that belongs to him. For justice will prevail, and all the morally upright will be vindicated. Who will rise up to defend me against the wicked? Who will stand up for me against the evildoers? If the LORD had not helped me, I would have laid down in the silence of death. If I say, “My foot is slipping,” your loyal love, O LORD, supports me. When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy. Cruel rulers are not your allies, those who make oppressive laws. They conspire against the blameless, and condemn to death the innocent. But the LORD will protect me, and my God will shelter me. He will pay them back for their sin. He will destroy them because of their evil; the LORD our God will destroy them. (‭Psalms‬ ‭94‬:‭1-23‬ NET)

     Scripture tells us in many places that in the last days these things will increase; evil will rise up and wars, hatred, envy, murder and malice will increase. Yet, I don’t know about you but when it does increase, it still seems to catch me by surprise. I guess that is probably because we get so caught up in life and it’s responsibilities. Then when these things happen we are taken a bit by surprise wondering how this could happen; how it could be allowed. Why isn’t anyone putting a stop to it? Much like I have wondered how the Holocaust could have gone on so long that so many millions were annihilated, I now wonder if or when anything will be done to stop this onslaught of persecution. The thought then comes, what can one person do? Another thought some will express is that it is the job of the government, the military or the Church. Others will be lulled into a false sense of security that it doesn’t have any effect them.  The truth is this behavior is spreading just like terrorism is spreading.  As  much as we  would like to believe it won’t happen in our country,  it could….

      SO,  what  can we do?  We can be informed. We can pray!!  Prayer is a powerful thing!! We can pray for our  government that powerful leaders  will arise, people of character and faith that will lead us well and make good decisions, wise decisions, and even tough decisions in  order to keep us safe..  We can pray for those who are in danger currently,, for their protection, their strength, for their faith  to be strong, for their safety, for the  families of those  who have suffered persecution to be comforted, strengthened and find peace for their hearts even in the midst of their struggles. We can ask others to join us in praying for all of these things. We can educate ourselves, research the candidates that are running for office and go and vote according to our conscience. We can educate ourselves on what God’s Word says about the last days because even if we are not yet there, we are closer than we have ever been and we need to equip ourselves to be able to recognize the signs of the times and equip ourselves against the evil in our world.

Ephesians 6:12 (NET Bible)For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

These things are part of a great spiritual battle and one by one, together we can make a difference!

2 Timothy 2: 1-7  So, my son, throw yourself into this work for Christ. Pass on what you heard from me—the whole congregation saying Amen!—to reliable leaders who are competent to teach others. When the going gets rough, take it on the chin with the rest of us, the way Jesus did. A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders. An athlete who refuses to play by the rules will never get anywhere. It’s the diligent farmer who gets the produce. Think it over. God will make it all plain.  ((MSG)

We are the church, may we one by one unite together in love, in prayer and in purpose!!

 

Grace and Peace to you!

Restoring Wonder

      Yesterday afternoon I witnessed an amazing display of wonder through the eyes of my two and a half-year old granddaughter. You see, they had missed Thanksgiving dinner at our home this year because two of the children were home with a virus and it was the first time she had been in our home since we had brought in the Christmas tree. Even though it was undecorated, she stood absolutely in awe and wonder at the sight. You see, it stands about six and a half feet above her head! I wish I could have captured that sweet little face and those sparkling eyes as she just stood staring up with the biggest smile her little face could contain!!  Pure joy and wonder! Amazement!  It is a precious gift that is so easy to miss as we grow into adults and take on the responsibilities of life.

December 2012 062

      So how do we hold on to wonder in a life filled with responsibilities, challenges, concerns, disappointments, problems, pain, the demands of others and demands we place upon ourselves?  What can we do to once again experience the wonder of a new-born baby, a beautiful rainbow, a shooting star, the sound of a small child cackling with laughter? How I wish I had half as many answers as I do questions…I bet I drove my parents nuts with my questions as a child because I drive me nuts with them now!

     Just this afternoon someone very dear to me asked me this question… “why is it that it seems like some people just seem to have a target on their back?”  I so understand that feeling. Everyone struggles at one time or another, but it does seem as though some people do have more that most. For many the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is the hardest and loneliest time of the year.  For others, the financial pressures are just too much. We often times overextend ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and financially and end up exhausted and spent rather that focusing of the true reasons for celebrations

  • Thanksgiving is for gathering with loved ones-family, friends, and perhaps inviting a college student, soldier or a neighbor who is far from their own family to join in. It’s a time to remember the blessings in our lives and if we are wise to do so often during the year as well.
  • Christmas and Hanukkah are celebrations of the miracles and faithfulness of God in the lives of His children. Christmas for celebrating the gift of God’s Son, our Savior and Hanukkah celebrating the miracle of one days oil lasting eight as the Temple was re-dedicated.

      These should be joyous times and times of celebration and wonder at the goodness and blessings in our lives yet for many it is not so. I think back to stories from my childhood. My grandmother used to tell me about her Christmas mornings. She said she would get an apple, an orange and a few nuts (in the shells) in her stocking and each year she would (if money allowed) get a small porcelain doll which would after she held it be placed on the mantle until the next Christmas. Her mom would then take the doll from the previous year for her to play with. How different from most Christmas celebrations today! She was not disappointed she said because she’d been looking forward to playing with that beautiful doll for the whole year and also had something to look forward to for the next.

      Those were simpler times and I believe maybe our lives just might benefit from some simplification as well.  It might not change those external things that seem to come at us a mile a minute, but just maybe it might help us deal with them better if we take time to simplify and not expect so much of ourselves and others.  Maybe if we give ourselves permission to relax and not worry about the perfect meal, perfect decor, and spotless house we wouldn’t be too exhausted to enjoy our holiday gatherings, after all for me, I want to enjoy my family and friends. They are not coming to see my home (and if they are, shame on them), but to see me and my family and enjoy fellowship.   Perhaps, there will be fewer packages per person this year and more time sitting in the floor playing games or putting together the gifts with them. Maybe menus should be simpler in my home this year: one meat, rather than two; three sides rather that five or six; one type of pie and one cake rather that several; one tree and simple splashes of decorations… Then there will be more time to find wonder in the season; more time to share with friends, family and those in need of companionship; more time to star gaze; sit by a fire and chat with friends; remember the important things and more time to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.

Grace and peace to you!

What if….

        I love music! There are few styles of music that I don’t enjoy. My musical choices usually lean heavily toward that which is uplifting and inspirational, style or genre maters much less than the words.  Last week I discovered a new album from one of the artists I really enjoy and I couldn’t resist the download. Her style, I would guess is most like smooth Jazz. As I was enjoying listening to it, one song ended and as the next began; children’s voices filled my ears. This caught my attention even more as I closely listened to their words that were a prelude to the song. I was wonderstruck! My next thought was: what would happen if every child was taught these words from their earliest days all the way through adulthood? How would it change the world? Just what would it be like if we truly realized from an early age that we were created to be children of destiny?

 

Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. This extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to reach it.

For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. (‭Psalms‬ ‭139‬:‭1-6, 13-16‬ HCSB)

      Friday afternoon my two and a half-year old granddaughter was granted her hearts desire. She had been asking to come to Nannie and Granddaddy’s house for a week or two and this was a good time for her to spend a couple of days. Saturday morning as we prepared to enjoy breakfast together, I decided to turn on my playlist as I began cooking and she played with Granddaddy. Their play sounds slowed and I noticed she was listening to the children’s voices coming over the speakers. She had a huge smile on her face. It reminded me that just yesterday she had looked up at me with the sweetest expression on her face and sweetly proclaimed, ” Nannie, I cute! I cute!”  Most children have  proclaimed a similar statement at some point, whether acknowledging their cuteness, that they are smart, or some other attribute. It was not out of arrogance, pride or insecurity looking for approval, but just an innocent acknowledgement before people, the culture or world  challenged it.  What if I teach her the words of this song from Ginny Owens: ” I’m beautiful; exceptional; powerful; cause love lives inside of me, calling me to be a daughter of destiny…”  (From the album Get In, I’m Drivin’ by Ginny Owens). What if we could insure that instinctive and innocent understanding of their God-given value was preserved for a lifetime? What if people’s words and the circumstances of life that we encounter were experienced from a solid foundation that we are precious creations of God, His workmanship, His masterpiece?

 

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭3-6‬ HCSB)

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭2‬:‭8-10‬ HCSB)

 Proverbs 22:6 (NET Bible) “Train a child in the way that he should go,and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

     My curious mind just can not help but wonder, what difference would it make in our lives, in how we see others and how we see ourselves.  Would we have greater self-respect; respect for others? Would we place a greater value on all life? Would insecurity be lessened or vanquished? Maybe it would end or at least lessen abuse, violence, the taking of life and sex-trafficking in our world. I realize that many do not believe in God; many reject both God and Jesus. He gave them the freedom to choose or reject Him. I also believe they would be much more likely to be convinced if those of us who are His sons and daughters fully realized and experienced who we are In Christ Jesus and walked it out in our lives. Maybe as the title song says we could get in and let Him do the drivin”.

Grace & peace to you!

http://encouragingbiblequotes.com/verses2a.html

 

 

 

Illusion or Reality

      There is a mind-set floating boldly through our culture that began very subtly and over time has taken hold in almost every possible area of our lives. Some of its slogans are now pronounced very boldly and dare to be challenged. They have masqueraded as subtle statements like “the world is your oyster” to proclamations that you can have it all; be it all; and do it all. 

     Perhaps these sayings and those like it were meant to encourage us, empower us to be better, challenge us to reach further, climb higher and to motivate us to stretch ourselves. Sadly, they also hold potential like everything in life  to be carried  to far and turn from a positive encouraging word into a dangerous, reckless way of life. Without balance in the above statements, we may find ourselves believing in our own self-sufficiency and leaving broken relationships in the wake we leave behind.  Maybe an example is in order. Let’s consider tenacious pursuit of a goal. Tenacious is defined as patient, persistent, resolute, tireless, unshakeable. Being tenacious when pursuing something can be a strength. It can be an admirable quality, however this same quality can turn into stubbornness, a hazard and a quality that can do much harm and damage to both ourself and others when we become so focused on a goal that all else is forgotten and left in the dust. When taken to the extreme, relationships and responsibilities can be risked and much is at stake for being lost. Just as most things in life,  the key is balance, keeping our perspective and having realistic expectations for both ourselves and others.

      My scripture reading highlighted this for me today. Sometimes we choose to see God through our current circumstances only, refusing to remember His past actions in our life or forgetting to hold on to the promises that He has given us. In those times tunnel vision takes over and balance is very often lost. Sometimes we lose track of the greatness of God and His goodness. Sometimes we can’t see past ourselves or our troubles; we forget who He is and how powerful God is. It is in these times we may tend to forget His faithfulness to us, forget to run to Him for our solutions and try to ‘fix’ things ourselves.  It doesn’t typically turn out in my best interest when this happens to me! Time and experience are teaching me it is always in my best interest to remember to seek Him, seek His wisdom, His Word, His comfort, and His direction rather than trying to ‘fix’ it myself! 

Isaiah 40:6-31 “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of forced labor is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”  A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth and the rough places, a plain. And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity together will see it, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. The grass withers, the flower fades; nothing lasts except the word of our God.It will stand forever. 

     A voice was saying, “Cry out!” Another said, “What should I cry out?”  “All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; nothing lasts except the word of  our God.   It will stand forever.   Zion, herald of good news, go up on a high mountain.  Jerusalem, herald of good news, raise your voice loudly. Raise it, do not be afraid!  Say to the cities of Judah,“Here is your God!”   See, the Lord God comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule.  His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him.  He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment.  He gently leads those that are nursing. Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand or marked off the heavens with the span of his hand?  Who has gathered the dust of the earth in a measure or weighed the mountains in a balance and the hills in the scales? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who gave Him His counsel?  Who did He consult with?  Who gave Him understanding and taught Him the paths of justice?  Who taught Him knowledge and showed Him the way of understanding?

 Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are considered as a speck of dust in the scales; He lifts up the islands like fine dust. Lebanon is not enough for fuel, or its animals enough for a burnt offering. All the nations are as nothing before Him; they are considered by Him as nothingness and emptiness.  

Who will you compare God with? What likeness will you compare Him to? To an idol?—something that a smelter casts, and a metalworker plates with gold and makes silver welds for it? To one who shapes a pedestal, choosing wood that does not rot? He looks for a skilled craftsman to set up an idol that will not fall over. 

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning?  Have you not considered the  foundations of the earth? God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in.  He reduces princes to nothing and makes judges of the earth irrational. They are barely planted, barely sown, their stem hardly takes root in the ground when He blows on them and they wither, and a whirlwind carries them away like stubble. 

“Who will you compare Me to, or who is My equal?” asks the Holy One. Look up and see: who created these?  He brings out the starry host by number; He calls all of them by name.  Because of His great power and strength, not one of them is missing.  Jacob, why do you say, and Israel, why do you assert:  “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my claim is ignored by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard?  Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole earth. He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding.  He gives strength to the weary and  strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.

          How easy it is to get wrapped up in our lives and circumstances!  How easy it is to get overwhelmed by our needs, our lack, our struggles. Sadly, sometimes it doesn’t take that much to make us lose sight of God’s goodness, power, past provision and love.  This passage  shows God’s desire for the comfort of His people; for their freedom from bondage. He is making His way to them/us, His reward and gifts are with Him. Who indeed is like our God?  Do we dare become so traumatized or so wrapped up in our own lives, agenda, desires, pursuits that we forget Him? Our lives are like grass.   In comparison to His greatness, we are as grasshoppers; our good deeds like filthy rags compared to His great goodness! Do we dare exalt ourselves and allow Him to be pushed to the back seat of our  lives? It can happen you know!  Do  we dare forget Him until things get tough and then suddenly realize how desperately we need Him?  Lord, may it not be so!  May  we,  Your children-Your sons and daughters, exalt You above all else in our lives knowing that when we do, all else begins to fall into right alignment. Help us to depend on You to guide us, free us, restore, renew, and regenerate us and not get trapped by the illusions the enemy sets before us as a trap to ensnare.

Saying Goodbye All Over

     My heart is heavy, saying goodbye is never easy! Goodbye in cases like this seem so permanent! You see, today, I walk through this old house, my home, for the last time! Just for a moment though, I can almost feel, almost see the joy on your faces Mom and Dad the day you first walked through these doors and realized this was where you wanted to bring that little bundle you were expecting. This would be where this family would call home. Now, fifty-three years later, a stranger will call this home. I never dreamed I would be so emotional over this day; my last walk through this place I still call home even after  moving into my own home with my new husband thirty-three plus years ago. All I can think of right now is the old song, “If These Walls Could Speak”.

     Mom and Dad, know y’all were Glen Campbell fan’s when I was growing up, I am more familiar with Amy Grant’s version, but this one is in memory of you both:

      Can you pass me a kleenex? Oh my, some of my absolute greatest memories were in this old house. Some of my hardest memories, too. Neighborhood children flocking to visit with my Dad, they loved him! Playing on the swings and later them being replaced with a porch swing.  Cowboys and Indians, Batman and Robin, learning to catch a softball…taking keep your eye on the ball literally when I did not get out of the way and caught it with my eye! Then there were those rainy days when friends were otherwise occupied and I played all alone inside while my parents worked. Being the only child can be lonely! And on the up side, I am grateful you didn’t use it as an excuse to indulge and spoil me.

     Not only did I grow up here in this old house but my children spent happy times here during their childhood. Both of them, as young adults lived here at different times after Dad went home to heaven. During the early years of their marriage, both of them brought their first child home to this place to call home for the first months of their lives.  Oh the memories of my Mom keeping my oldest here so I could work. I left crying each morning and flew into the driveway every afternoon because my hearts desire was to be at home with him. Memories of coming home to him at age two dancing to Elvis while my parents sang along, so much laughter!  Later watching he and his little sister climb into the empty wood storage box in the sun room and peek over the top laughing and playing. 

    Dad always made a point as Easter approached to let the otherwise perfectly manicured lawn grow up so eggs could easily have hiding places. He would talk about it for several weeks ahead. Christmases when I was young where the whole extended family would descend upon us in our little abode. Mom would cook for days on end. Multiple appetizers, meats, veggies galore, a minimum of three cakes, and several pies.  Oh how my Mom loved Christmas! 

     There are many hard memories too, like the day I couldn’t get Dad on the phone for much of the morning and drove over to check on him; my daughter find him unconscious.  Oh, if these walls could talk!  Now here I am, one last walk through as the house stands empty. I pray Heavenly Father, that You seal to my mind and my heart all these memories and then some! I pray that You will continually refresh them and others like them long after I make my final exit through these doors. This house as been a major part of my life because of the people and occasions that it hosted. I pray that as long as it stands everyone who enters it’s doors will find blessings and will make wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. Even more, I pray that they will know the One from whom the blessings flow. This home has weathered many a storm and sheltered all who abided inside for over a half century because our family put our trust and faith in You Lord, may that legacy continue to the future occupants! 

                         

Fresh Start

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New Year’s Eve at our home last night was a simple, quiet yet beautiful experience. My husband and I enjoyed a slow paced evening with some great music from WinterFest, followed by their countdown to welcome in 2014. We shared a New Year’s kiss and a toast with some delicious Sparkling Peach grape juice followed with a time of Communion and dedication of our year to The Lord. It was simple, yet perhaps one of the best since that very first New Year’s Eve we spent together with our families and their friends that resulted in our first date. We were mere kids that night long ago and yet we have shared every one since.

Life has a way of moving on, speeding by. Unlike when I was a child and a week seemed like a month, today a week seems more like a day! So with that in mind, about a month ago I began doing some thinking and praying about the year, 2014… What would it hold? What do I want to accomplish? Perhaps the most important question – What are Your goals and plans for me this year, Lord? Is there a verse for me for 2014? Maybe a word or theme. Little by little I felt him guiding me. The first glimpse came when I “happened” across a scripture verse in Habakkuk. It resonated down to my core.

I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint(question). (Habakkuk 2:1 NLT)

A little more time passed, a few more days, and I ‘stumbled’ over someone teaching on healing and speaking about the meaning of dunamis. Already somewhat familiar in that it speaks of the power of God including the power to perform miracles and we get our word dynamite from this Greek word, then I heard and additional meaning. I, being unfamiliar and therefore skeptical, decided I must check out what was said. After checking several reliable sources, it is true. Dunamis not only means the power of God, might, power to perform miracles, strength; it is used to mean moral power and excellence of soul. This brought my mind back to Habakkuk from my reading a few days ago. Habakkuk 3:2 says “Lord, I have heard the report about You; Lord, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In Your wrath remember mercy! (Habakkuk 3:2 HCSB)

A little later while reading the Word, Isaiah 43 was my passage. Here God’s word to his people is, ” Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. The animals of the field will honor Me, jackals and ostriches, because I provide water in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people. The people I formed for Myself will declare My praise. (Isaiah 43:18-21 HCSB)
Next came:
Isaiah 54:2 “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep. 3 For you will spread out to the right and to the left, and your descendants will dispossess nations and inhabit the desolate cities.”

You may, like me, be asking by now “what does all this mean?” Or “where is it going.” I can honestly answer I don’t know, not even a guess. What I do know is I am both excited and expectant to see what unfolds in 2014. I can not wait to see if and how any of this plays into the coming events. Will as NASSA predicts there be four Blood Moons over the next two years. The Word of God also speaks of the sun darkening and the moon looking like blood. What will happen with Israel? The Middle East? Is God doing something new? Will God’s power be more apparent than ever before? I have no answers, only anticipation and expectancy over what the next 364 days will hold.

Wishing you each a very blessed 2014 as I climb up to my watchtower and stand my guard post. There I will wait and see what The Lord says and how He will answer!

A Prepared Heart

First I must confess, I LOVE Christmas! I have since as far back as I can remember. Everything about Christmas brought a smile to my face and memories to my heart. Don’t get me wrong, they have not always been peaceful and filled with wonder and joy because life is real and doesn’t stop because it is Christmas time or because we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. Sickness still comes to some, death doesn’t stop, hurt and brokeness hasn’t evaporated, and there are those who are still looking for work and having money struggles. This year in particular, I seem to know more than my share of folks who find themselves in one or more of these situations and believe me there are many similar situations causing struggles in this world. For the third time in my many years I found myself really struggling with getting into the Christmas spirit. I love Christmas because even though I try to spend time daily with the Lord, Christmas is a special time we set aside to celebrate the birth and life of our Saviour. So what do I do?

Resolved: Take charge of these run-away feelings! It has definitely been a challenge and a work in progress! How? I picked up Ann Voskamp’s “The Greatest Gift” from my local bookstore in hopes of reminding myself everyday from Thanksgiving until Christmas Day of all the reasons there are to slow my pace, celebrate, rejoice and make room – to prepare my heart, remember what really matters.

These are some of the verses I have run across in the process, I share them because they have been very meaningful and helpful in putting aside my feelings and in my preparing my heart.

“The days are coming” — this is the Lord ’s declaration — “when I will raise up a Righteous Branch of David. He will reign wisely as king and administer justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. This is what He will be named: Yahweh Our Righteousness. (Jeremiah 23:5, 6 HCSB)

Micah 5:2-4 MSG
But you, Bethlehem, David’s country, the runt of the litter— From you will come the leader who will shepherd-rule Israel. He’ll be no upstart, no pretender. His family tree is ancient and distinguished. Meanwhile, Israel will be in foster homes until the birth pangs are over and the child is born, And the scattered brothers come back home to the family of Israel. He will stand tall in his shepherd-rule by God ’s strength, centered in the majesty of God -Revealed. And the people will have a good and safe home, for the whole world will hold him in respect— Peacemaker of the world!
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness. You have enlarged the nation and increased its joy. The people have rejoiced before You as they rejoice at harvest time and as they rejoice when dividing spoils. For You have shattered their oppressive yoke and the rod on their shoulders, the staff of their oppressor, just as You did on the day of Midian. For the trampling boot of battle and the bloodied garments of war will be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2-7 HCSB)

Isaiah 61:1-4
The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord to glorify Him.

It’s Christmas time – my Christmas wish is that we see beyond the gifts, lights and trimmings of Christmas to the very heart of Christmas – Jesus Christ. His coming brought us a bridge to relationship with God and a chance to have everlasting life and that would have been enough. Jesus did not stop there though, He came to bring good news to the poor; to heal the broken-hearted; freedom for captives and prisoners; the Lord’s favour instead of vengeance; comfort and joy for mourners; beauty for ashes; praise instead of despair; to make us oaks of righteousness, a display of His splendour this is what is ours when we have a relationship with Jesus. May you have the merriest of Christmas’s and a wonder-filled 2014 and if or when storms come may the Prince of Peace meet you right there in the midst!!

Words for a Weary Warrior

20131106-093537.jpg It happens to us all, life hits us full on at times. Life is speeding by and if we are not paying attention and getting proper rest and recreation it can bowl us right over before we know it. It is so easy to get caught up in life whether it is a prosperous time, a sad or grieving time, a time of great happiness or a time of trial in your life! Even for those of faith who find our hope in God and are lovingly shepherded by The Holy Spirit as we attempt to follow in the footsteps of Jesus are not immune to this. It is so easy to get caught up in doing things, good things; enjoying the company of others; serving others; working and so many other good and normal activities. Can I just say from firsthand experience, go for it! Get out there and give it your best but if you want to finish strong and do not want to grow weary in well-doing, don’t neglect the Sabbath! Mark 2: 27 Then He told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. 28 Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” HCSB We all need a break, rest. Our Heavenly Father knew this and for that reason He told us to rest every seventh day and to rest the land every seventh year! Almost ten years ago, I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Germany. One of the things that stood out as a startling difference: most if not all shops, restaurants, etc. we’re closed on Sunday. This was true here in America in my youngest of years, also. Sundays there were quiet and peaceful, slow-paced and relaxing. Families and friends spent time together just enjoying each other’s presence. Today, most of us have bought into the rush of life, squeezing the most out of the day just like squeezing the very last little bit out of the toothpaste tube. We try to exist on the absolutely least amount of sleep possible so we can finish that project, watch the latest episode of our favourite show, put in just another hour at work trying to get ahead. The simple fact is that our bodies were not designed that way and after a while, we get weary and b. It may not manifest that way. It can show up in many other ways such as: being over sensitive, over-reactive, over-stressed. When this happens we can react to others, often those we love the most, in ways that are very uncharacteristic of our behavior. I believe that is why in 2 Thessalonians 3:13 ‘Brothers, do not grow weary in doing good.’ Why do we do this to ourselves? Have we bought into the got to have the latest and best now? Or perhaps, we simply want better for our kids: better education, better opportunities? Are we seeking to ‘make up’ for something we perceive someone needed from us that we just couldn’t or wouldn’t give? Are we just driven, seeking more? Are we motivated by fear of lack? Perhaps you are like I once was and just find it impossible to say, I’m sorry but no I can’t do that. The reasons are as endless as the as the waves in the ocean! Sometimes it even comes down to doubt. We may or may not doubt God’s goodness, or that He keeps His promises to His children. Even if we are completely convinced of His goodness, His promises and His love, we may question our own worthiness. 1 Peter 5: 4-7 in the Message says, ‘4-5 When God, who is the best shepherd of all, comes out in the open with His rule, He’ll see that you’ve done it right and commend you lavishly. And you who are younger must follow your leaders. But all of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for—God has had it with the proud, But takes delight in just plain people. 6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; He’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you.’. Perhaps it is time to begin taking those Sabbath rests regularly. Maybe we can spend some of it quietly resting in His grace, researching in a comfy chair who He says we are in Christ and what He says about us. It is surprising how slowing down and spending a half hour or hour listening to your favourite worship music can refresh us and soothe our weary soul! Isaiah 40: 28-31:

Do you not know? Have you not heard? Yahweh is the everlasting God, the Creator of the whole eart.  He never grows faint or weary; there is no limit to His understanding. He gives strength to the weary and strengthens the powerless. Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who trust in the Lord will renew their strength; they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint.