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.

Living in the Now

It is amazing what can happen in the span of three days! This weekend my husband and I celebrated our anniversary, took care of a work related chore, spent a few hours exploring a nearby town, enjoyed a great time of worship at church, spent some time with family members and even had a visit with some friends we have not seen in about 5 years. This morning, I was reflecting on the last few days, a message I heard Sunday morning as we got ready for church, and life in general. I did some quick calculations. More on that in a bit, but as I calculated, the memory of the message the t.v. pastor was giving came flooding back to mind. His topic was on the Power of Now, and was one I really needed to hear! In fact, I went online to listen again this morning. The main theme was enjoy now, don’t get bogged down in yesterday and the past and don’t spend all your time longing for tomorrow.

Ok, back to the calculations. I have been married for 64.6% of my life! Wow! That makes me sound old! Guess that’s what happens when you get married at 18. When most people our age have teenagers or college students, we have adult children and six beautiful grandchildren between the ages of new-born and almost seven! The point, time flies! Yes, I know! everyone says that especially to young parents starting out! They, like we did, will smile, nod and probably roll their eyes just a bit thinking we are young and have our whole life before us. We sure did! I smile thinking about that and the one or two that said all those years ago that “we were too young, it’s puppy love; they will never make it!” They underestimated our tenaciousness to keep our vows to each other and to God.

Tenaciousness, the gentler and more controlled side of stubbornness is a great quality when channelled properly and can be very beneficial to us as we endeavour to live ‘in the now’. Life happens fast! sometimes it comes at us like a freight train and if we let it, it can barrel over us and leave us flat on the ground! Two cars, both needing repairs in days of each other, having to rent a vehicle to get to work and back, sickness, busyness, and any number of other things vying for our money, our time, our attention. We may focus on why we didn’t prepare better, save more in the past….if we had been more thrifty, saved more for a rainy day; or we may focus on the what-if’s… What if insurance premiums double or triple, what if this sickness is really serious, what if it is something major wrong with the car?

If we are not careful, we can worry our entire life away by choosing to focus on the past or focusing of futures worries. Days or weeks can be lost in this type of thinking and that basically was the premise of the message. He quoted John 10:10, ” The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:10 NET). This is one of my favourites, though I have never thought of it quite like he presented it. He presented it in reference to time. My summery, when we get all caught up in our circumstances whether it is not letting go of the past or whether it is worrying about the future, we loose! We miss out on the now, in our lives! Yes, we should be responsible and deal with our past properly and prepare responsibly for our future, however if we are not careful, we will be robbed of our today in the process. The problem with that is once today is gone, we can never get it back! What is more, we are not promised tomorrow. My goal; focus on the now! Whether I am dining with my friends who I have not seen in years; attending a seminar or conference; working; or chatting with friends or family, I want to be fully present and in the now. Anything less is cheating myself and cheating them of the fullness of today and the abundant life God meant for His children.

My prayer for both myself and all who may read this: Lord, may we learn to forgive  and let go of the past whether it is ourselves or others and may we trust you fully for our futures letting go of doubt, worry and unbelief and cling to faith and trust in You. Help us to fully engage in today, in our now because if we don’t we will miss it and possibly miss You in the process! Strengthen us with Your Word, I pray!

Hebrews11 Now, faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see. 2 For by it the people of old received God’s commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the worlds were set in order at God’s command, so that the visible has its origin in the invisible. 4 By faith Abel offered God a greater sacrifice than Cain, and through his faith he was commended as righteous, because God commended him for his offerings. And through his faith he still speaks, though he is dead. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he did not see death, and he was not to be found because God took him up. For before his removal he had been commended as having pleased God. 6 Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 7 By faith Noah, when he was warned about things not yet seen, with reverent regard constructed an ark for the deliverance of his family. Through faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.


Whose Team are We On?

Today’s post is somewhat awkward. Typically prayer and conversation with God is extremely personal to me. I am not prone to share those a times but I feel he is leading me to share a bit about my time with Him, so here goes:

As I was talking to The Lord this morning praying for concerns and needs among my family, friends and church, there was an unusual change in the direction and tone of my prayer. I had prayed for health and healing, and some more specific individual needs and for wisdom and understanding for myself and those for whom I was praying. As I continued, I began to pray about things going on in the world. There is so much need, so many people hurting and more than our share of violence and atrocities all around! I began to feel an urgency to pray for an awakening in the church, for renewal, and for revival. Once again the phrase, “arise oh sleeper” from Ephesians 5:14 came to mind. prompted by the Holy Spirit? Perhaps, probably.

As I began praying for the Church around the world. I felt prompted to intercede because The Lord called those in the church to be in the world but not of the world. Many times in our culture it has become hard to tell the difference because there is a tendency to fit in rather than stand out. As I prayed, I felt as if The Lord, Himself was guiding the direction of the prayer by bringing to mind certain scriptures. There was an urgency to pray for a great move of the Holy Spirit, a renewal of loving as Jesus loved. I also felt Spirit prompted to pray that individuals and the church worldwide would learn that it is not our job to accuse, condemn and judge each other whether inside or outside the Body of Christ because according to Revelation 12: 10, Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Instead, may those of us who belong to Jesus respond as Jesus would respond, with love, mercy and grace.

A prime example is found John 8. The experts in the law and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. Scripture clearly says that their purpose was to set a trap for Jesus. Jesus’ response: “Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground with his finger. 7 When they persisted in asking him, he stood up straight and replied, “Whoever among you is guiltless may be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. 9 Now when they heard this, they began to drift away one at a time, starting with the older ones, until Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up straight and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She replied, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”

John 10:10 tells us that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy…but Jesus came to bring life! abundant and full. Being critical, accusing and being judgemental throws up barriers, brings out defensiveness. Paul teaches us this in Ephesians 4:14-16 (HCSB):
“14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. 15 But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.”

The wisdom of Solomon teaches us this in Proverbs 16:5-7 (NET):
5 The Lord abhors every arrogant person;
rest assured that they will not go unpunished.
6 Through loyal love and truth iniquity is appeased;
through fearing the Lord one avoids evil.
7 When a person’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,
he even reconciles his enemies to himself.

Oh Heavenly Father, may there be a great renewal of Your love flow through this world. May your Spirit be poured out and the Fruit of the Spirit flow fully in Your people!! May renewal come, may Your children love others following the example of Jesus! Lord, please fill Your church with Your love, mercy and grace like never before in ever-increasing waves until the whole world has been covered and all have had a chance to experience the greatest and truest form of love ever known!

1 Peter 1:21-23
Living Bible (TLB)
21 Because of this, your trust can be in God who raised Christ from the dead and gave Him great glory. Now your faith and hope can rest in Him alone. 22 Now you can have real love for everyone because your souls have been cleansed from selfishness and hatred when you trusted Christ to save you; so see to it that you really do love each other warmly, with all your hearts.

*bold words, author’s emphasis


This morning as I begin my day, I looked to see what my s.o.a.p chapter for the day would be. (Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer).  It would be Deuteronomy 34, the last chapter and one of my favorite stories of the Old Testament. Next, I opened You Version, an electronic app for Bible. Up on the screen popped their verse of the day. My thought was alright I will read this real quick and move on to my s.o.a.p, reading. I was stunned by what I read next:

Proverbs 3:7,8 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.

Don’t assume that you know it all! Run to God! Run from evil!  Your body will glow with health, your very

bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own;

give Him the first and the best.

I am just going to be completely transparent as I begin. I have been wrestling with somethings for a while. this last week it intensified and it has consumed larger chunks of my days. After trying to reason things out and get answers mostly on my own, I finally wised up and sought council with the Only One that could actually give me both insight and wisdom on the matter. I can’t say that my prayers got a quick and fix all answer, but gently and lovingly over the last few days God has been guiding me in His Word and leading me to answers. I will share a bit of that today in hope that it might help someone else who is struggling…

To get back on track, I was stunned by this verse because first of all in the struggles I had been pondering two or three directly affected me (one was health related) and the rest affected some of my loved ones and this verse quickly and concisely addressed what I had been doing…trying to figure out things on my own. Oh yes, I had prayed about them on the surface but until Wednesday, I had not truly prayed over them asking and seeking real answers and furthermore never left them at the feet of Jesus. Instead, even though I should know better, I would pick them right back up in a few minutes or a few hours. Now I have to admit I had a mixed response at first: “Oh wow, this verse popped up just for me”; then, “no, they have a verse everyday, it is a coincidence it speaks to me on these specific issues in my life”; lastly, ” no, not a coincidence, it is too personal to what is going on in my life,  it addresses both my trying to figure things out, seeking God out instead of reasoning  that these both lead to health which in my case is suffering a little right now.” Yes, I was reasoning and over-thinking again already! As I told myself, stop; I felt a nudge to go and read the full chapter. Amazing… would you believe it was just what I needed to hear?

Do I have all the answers to the questions that I have been struggling with? No, some are more clear and others, not so clear.  There was not instantaneous answer to everything, but there was aclear-cut mandate: God has this, “don’t loose a grip on Love and Loyalty”, trust Him from the bottom of your heart and DO NOT try to figure this out on your own, seek Him!! Listen for His voice in everything you do and where ever you go. These will bring health and a viberant life. Seek wisdom and insight for these are the tree of life to those who embrace them, holding onto them bring blessing! Clear thinking and common sense are where we need to live; worry, wondering, speculating on what may or may not be are not helpful and do not add but detract from our lives.

My take away today is to recommit myself to these principles, quit trying to figure out things on my own and seek God for wisdom and for understanding on these things, lay them down and trust in Him to bring the right answers, direction and guidance. When we wait on God and His timing, He will answer.  I fully believe that God was able to speak to David through Nathan; Balaam through his donkey; to the people of Israel through the prophets; and to us today  by any means He chooses. After all, the Word of God says He is the same yesterday, today and forever!! Our job is to trust, believe, hope in Him; read His Word; seek Him and His guidance; and listen and act on what He says as long as it agrees with His Word.

As for Deuteronomy 34, I made it there but that is a story for another time!  Be Blessed!!

A Call to Return

Stunning read! I am not sure words can do justice to Jonathan Cahn’s book titled The Harbinger. Maybe it is because a few weeks ago I was led to the following verse and wondered why it resonated so deeply with me for America and the times in which we are living.

Ephesians 5:14 For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says:
Awake, O sleeper!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you!”

The Harbinger, a book which is classified as fiction, yet the facts within it surrounding the warnings and fall of ancient Israel and surrounding the details of September 11, 2001 and the years following are very much true. The similarities between the warnings then and now are remarkable to me, most likely because the parallels are almost exact. Are the same events that lead to captivity and and destruction in ancient days repeating themselves in America? Was 9/11 a warning, a pulling away of God’s hand of protection, or possibly a call for America to return to God; the foundation upon which she was built and dedicated?

I love the gradual unfolding of the mysteries of the Harbingers and how each is both tied to ancient Israel yet also tied to our own county and it’s history, as well as more current events. Because of a love for history and for God’s Word I found The Harbinger captivating and definitely a wake up call for America but even more so for those of us who believe in and serve God. It definitely highlights legitimate reasons for God’s people to in the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 “who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land”.
One might respond, “what do I need to be forgiven for that put our nation where it is?” The answer is simply if, as believers, we haven’t done all we can to be salt and light, even if there has been no committed sin; there has been sin of omission. It is our responsibility to seek revival and it must begin in us. 2Chronicles is the starting place!

This isn’t the normal lighthearted kind of book I would choose for a vacation read but I am quite glad I chose it. I found it fascinating and intriguing. I am betting I will refer back to it and perhaps read it again in the near future. It is a well written, informative and enjoyable read. The subject matter is stunning, warnings concerning, even quite serious but it is also message of hope.

We who are God’s people are here on a mission to show the world His love, faithfulness, mercy and grace. Too many times we have instead shown judgement and left those in our path feeling judged, condemned and hopeless. Other times we have kept to ourselves and those just like ourselves; this should not be. Each day I am more convinced my job is to do my best to be light, to show His love, and be a beacon of hope to those whose hope is diminished and to those who are hopeless. Changing people isn’t what He calls us to nor is to our responsibility; showing His love, faithfulness, mercy and grace is. He is the Savior, the life-giving and living water…we are His vessel should He choose to use us but it is crucial we handle it well. His way, His Word rather than our way, our opinion.


What exactly is identity?  According to freedictionary.com, it is the collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is recognized or known; a set of behaviors or characteristics that makes one recognized as a member of a group; a distinct personality of an individual ; the quality or condition of being the same as something else. The other dictionaries had pretty similar definitions.
Those who are reading this for example would all fit into the category identified as human because we meet certain similar criteria. Some of us female, others male as defined by certain characteristics. Because every human is conceived and born of a mother and a father, we are classified as either son or daughter according to our gender regardless of their continued presence in our lives. Further, each of us can also be classified as individuals because every one of us is unique and different. Even in a family unit where there are great similarities, there are also distinct differences that make us uniquely who we are. We are shaped and influenced  by our genetics, by our environment, by our education, our relatives and friends, by our experiences in life and by our beliefs.
When we take on certain titles or positions we also adapt and our identity is influenced by this new aspect in our life. For example, when we become a Christian, a Christ-follower if you will there is a shift in our belief system. With that shift begins a remarkable shift in our identity, however how much of that shift is actually realized in our lives is up to us.
Many of us are introduced to the person of God through fear of punishment and see Him as just waiting and watching in the big unknown to catch us misbehaving or doing something He doesn’t approve of us doing. Most of us are not introduced first to Him as the Self-Existent Creator of life; or as a great and wonderful Creator and Artist that placed the stars above and the earth below. Is our first experience in knowing of God that He spoke and hundreds of thousands of species from the smallest microscopic cell or germ to the grandest majestic mountain was formed? Sadly, not generally is this ever instilled in us as our first impression. Yet, is it easier to believe that everything we see all around us just happened, sprung up from nothing? I personally find that difficult to believe, it is much easier for me to believe
God spoke it into being and when it was done, he lovingly created man to share the great beauty with then seeing man without anyone like him decided to form woman as a companion to man.
Having said this, I often wonder why most of us are introduced first to God as a heavy handed Father just waiting for us to mess up. Why this view of God is the most prevalent has puzzled me for a long time. I am sure there are many theories we could come up with but rather than speculate endlessly, I would like to continue to look at discovering a more accurate and diverse concept of the character of  the God I love and serve. Those possibilities are endless for He is infinite! Though I have spent my lifetime in this pursuit, I have but yet to barely scratch the surface! This I do know, when the Word of God speaks of fear of The Lord, it means a healthy respect; honor; reverence; and yes it also implies obedience.
Obedience, there is a word that throws up defences and rattles us. Have you ever noticed even with a young child just beginning to crawl the independent spirit begins to arise. It gradually intensifies as they become proficient at crawling. They want to go where they want to go and do not enjoy us setting boundaries or redirecting them from obstacles that might be harmful. Then as they grow stronger and begin to walk, it’s on!  Every step of our growth in childhood makes us more and more independent. Nevertheless, we must have boundaries and if we are blessed as we grow more, we learn to impose healthy boundaries for ourselves, not only for our protection but to keep us in line and respectful of those all around us.  I personally believe in hindsight that this is the ideal way to parent and it is how our loving Heavenly Father has designed in His Word that we grow and mature in our lives. It involves moving from dependence on our parents, growing into a place we can be interdependent.  As we mature, we strive to reach a place that we are able to take care of ourselves. Is that fully reaching the goal? Being independent? I believe not. I am convinced the goal of a mature life is interdependence.  There are seasons in our life like childhood, and in times of illness when we are completely dependant on someone. Most of our lives are spent in various states of interdependence but never have I met one who is truly independent or in other words does not need anyone for anything.  That concept is a mirage, it is not possible.
Just as we want to love and protect our little one as they grow and mature into childhood, adolescence and adulthood, our Heavenly Father who loving created each of us desires that and more for His children! The biggest difference is His ways are higher than ours as are His thoughts. He sees the bigger picture and all the possible outcomes if He doesn’t limit or guide us through life by setting standards and boundaries. Here is a practical example: how many children have at some point taken off running paying no attention where they were headed? As a parent or adult in charge, you know the danger of them running out into the street and getting hit by a vehicle weighting anywhere from a thousand pounds up to tens of thousands of pounds of metal, as an adult you see the hidden dangers of them running and falling into a pool resulting at worst in drowning because they can’t swim or even getting just a bit farther away and finding themselves lost in a crowd or kidnapped by a stranger.  The one under our care sees us as limiting their fun, controlling them and keeping them from enjoying life.  Interestingly, not so different from how many of us see God.
Sounds so simple and easy, of course we who are responsible and love our children are going to set rules and boundaries for their safety because we are responsible for them at a minimum until they can take full responsibility for themselves. It would be at the least negligent and unloving not to have their best interests, protection and well being at heart. May I just suggest here, it is no different where God is concerned!
Today on what would have been my Dad’s 79th birthday, I dedicate this to my parents.  Happy Birthday Dad! So grateful for all you and Mom taught me and more so each year I walk this planet without the two of you!! How great to have the assurance of being together again one day and telling you both this in person!  I truly know you love me and  always wanted what was best for me!

Circumstances, Grace, and Gratitude

How fascinating when several avenues in our life converge and it results in a new understanding of who we are or of who we are meant to be, when they come together and totally change our perspective or our trajectory. Lately, I have been emerged in a study of Gideon, a Biblical hero of faith listed in the book of Hebrews. He did not start out that way! When first mentioned in Judges, he is hiding in a wine press threshing wheat. This is a very unconventional place to thresh wheat but Gideon is hiding in order to protect the wheat from the enemy who is oppressing his people. Meanwhile he is visited by an angel of The Lord with this message, “the Lord is with you, mighty warrior!” From our perspective, Gideon is fearful and hiding; from God‘s perspective he is declared a mighty warrior (Judges 6:11-12); and finally from Gideon’s perspective he is the weakest and the youngest (verse15). Whether we like it or not so is our lives. People see us from one perspective, we see ourselves from another, yet God sees us beyond those perspectives. He sees us for who we are, who He created us to be, and our unlimited potential in Him.

I don’t know about you but I am not that different from Gideon. I tend to be hard on myself and to be insecure, though some have said they see me as confident and strong, I rarely qualify. They only see the outside, my actions and have no idea what is in my heart unless I share it. Again, from God’s perspective, He sees the real me, the good, the bad, and the ugly. He also knows the destiny He created me for and the potential that I have, especially if I walk with Him. He has a plan and purpose for us; he also allows us free will to choose what path we will take.

Imagine our lives as series of roads, for this purpose we will picture if we can three roads. One is a beautiful road with flat places shaded by the covering of pretty trees at times, further along it meets with fields of flowers, rolling hills, and even the rougher terrain along the way is beautiful and pleasing to the eye.  We will call it God’s Grace. The next road is direct and straight for a long-span, it divides and goes different directions at a certain point and from there tends to meander and wind at times. It’s name is Circumstance. The last road is a perimeter like roadway, each of the other roads intersect with this road at some point and this road ALWAYS circles back to God’s Grace. This road is called Gratitude. All of these roads intersect each other at different places and each has an impact on the other.

Our lives are often lived in our circumstances. We are walking or driving along straight and smooth, something happens, a bump in the road, a sickness, or a tragedy and we are at a fork in the road. Which way will we choose to go? Will we go with the west fork or the east fork? For those of us who know God and have trusted Jesus, will we trust His promises? Will we see His grace and allow it to take us to gratitude? Will we take a turn on gratitude, knowing He is good and trust Him until we reach the path of God’s Grace. Will we possibly take the more winding path of West Circumstance taking the long way to God’s Grace and eventually finding our way to Gratitude. There is also the option of just staying on the road of our circumstance, east or west and continuing on their long paths and totally miss God’s Grace and Gratitude.

For me, I have chosen different options including the absolute longest roads back to His grace and to gratitude in a few cases. Trust me that one is not a healthy one!  After many trials and troubles and tragedies  it is my desire to take the shortest, straightest route to see Him bring grace and glory from both the good circumstances and the bad. Do I want difficult circumstances? Are you kidding me, no! Can I give thanks in a hard time? Maybe, maybe not. Can I believe that despite tragedy God is always good? Yes, He has proved it again and again. Can I believe He can take the worst circumstance and bring something good from it or despite of it? Yes, I have seen it and personally experienced it.  I write this today with a broken heart. Our small town has experienced tragedy today. While I was writing this, a wonderful man, a friend that owns our local jewelry store was viciously gunned down as four males decided that their desires and wealth or lack of was more valuable than his life. Three of them are on the loose. Tragedy!!! Heartbreak!!! Be assured, this does not change God’s Goodness!! This is a product of a fallen world and a culture that has come to value things and use people, a culture where wrong is accepted as right and right is judged as wrong. We can not blame God for these things when we are the ones who choose our own paths! We can strive to make good and right choices and teach others within our influence to do likewise.
I am not an artist, but they might look like this:


Passionate Plea

Have you ever been at a place that something was pressing so hard on the inside of you that  you just had to get it out either by talking about it or writing about it and you felt you would explode if you didn”t??  This is where I am today! For a little back ground, a few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to hear a survivor of the Holocaust. As he shared his horrific experiences and those of his loved ones, each time he would ask, “Could you forgive?” For about two hours he spoke of atrocity after atrocity and it was painful to hear how they had suffered and that was only a fraction of a percent compared to the his suffering, and that of his family, and his friends! His was a message of forgiveness from start to finish! Don’t get me wrong, he shared his anger, frustration, fear, torture but the solid thread flowing through his testimony was forgiveness and that we have to forgive in order to live freely. You see, unforgiveness makes us slave to the one we refuse to forgive, but that is a topic for another day. Next, the Holy Spirit began impressing us  that we were to share this fellow’s experiences and theme of forgiveness at a Bible Study we were to substitute teach in two days. We knew we had to be obedient but it took a little time to line up because there were a couple of people who bring their children and the youngest is about eight. The decision was made and the parents were informed on the topic and approved.  This all took place on the actual day of Yom Hashoah  (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and the days following.

The questions that arose from studying and sharing this that Tuesday evening turned a childhood spark into a flame. I had always heard that there were Christians that blamed the  Jewish people for the death of Christ. I never understood this thought pattern. You see since I was a child I have been a student of the Word of God.  I am not a theology student and I have no “formal” training in the Word. I do believe that God will enable us despite lack of formal training to understand  the Word because John 14 it tells us:

John 14:25-26  (HCSB)   “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Long story short, I began to do more research on the holocaust and the history of the church, how and if the church was a catalyst in some cases that fanned the flames of those who were propagating the evil atrocities that occurred. What I continue to read has sparked a passionate plea!  Christians, please read the Word of God for yourself! Know what it says, pray for understanding, find a reliable translation and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into wisdom and understanding. Yes, even and especially the Old Testament. When we don’t know our roots and our history, we are targets for deception and being lead astray from the truth. When that happens we can fall into false thinking which can lead us do things we might have thought at one time we were not capable of doing and rationalize our actions based on a false belief!

When we as Christians become students of the Word, we are arming ourselves against deception. Throughout the Bible it was prophesied that Jesus would come born of a Virgin  and that He would suffer, die, and be raised to life. A look at Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, to name just two tell us this. We are told that before the foundation of the world, Christ is the Lamb that was slain. This was God’s plan long before it happened.  Jesus was born and raised Jewish.  It was not the Jewish people who were responsible for His arrest, His beatings and His death. A quick look at John tells us it was certain Jewish rulers that plotted His capture and demise and it was planned under the cover of darkness.

John 18:13 And they brought Him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year.14 It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was expedient and for their welfare that one man should die for (instead of, in behalf of) the people.

24 Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.

28 Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium (judgment hall, governor’s palace). And it was early. They themselves did not enter the Praetorium, that they might not be defiled (become ceremonially unclean), but might be fit to eat the Passover [supper]. 29 So Pilate went out to them and said, What accusation do you bring against this Man?30 They retorted, If  He were not an evildoer (criminal), we would not have handed Him over to you.

John 19:4 Then Pilate went out again and said to them, See, I bring Him out to you, so that you may know that I find no fault (crime, cause for accusation) in Him.

When the chief priests and attendants (guards) saw Him, they cried out, Crucify Him! Crucify Him! Pilate said to them, Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no fault (crime) in Him.The Jews answered him, We have a law, and according to that law He should die, because He has claimed and made Himself out to be the Son of God. (note this is referring back to the chief priests and guards who had brought Him)

Based on scripture, history and archeological findings, it is a pretty sure thing that it was  a select group of leaders and their guards/servants that are responsible for the death sentence given Jesus and knowing the prophecy it was accomplishing God’s plan that was from the beginning. Jesus was welcomed warmly when He entered Jerusalem with large numbers of people waving palms and celebrating. It was not they who turned on Him and cried “crucify” in the darkness of early morning! It was those who were threatened by their fear of loss of power, prestige and wealth. I understood this even as a youth based on the Word. It was only in the last ten years that I found that this was by the other historical and archeological findings.

The lesson here is when we don’t learn for ourselves, it is easy to be deceived. When we are deceived, we don’t generally know we are deceived and we act with great confidence fully believing that we are acting in an appropriate way. We have a tendency to become an impulsive people rather than  reflective, perhaps before acting rashly we should slow ourselves down; begin asking ourselves some questions;  listen to the answers; and for the “still small voice” to reveal:

  • What is really going on?
  • Am I missing something?
  • Why do I feel so strongly about this? whether it is anger, hurt, frustration, confusion.
  • What is the heart of those involved?
  • Am I being deceived?
  • Am I being defensive and if so why?
  • What does the Word say about this type situation? Though listed last, it is perhaps the most important question we can ask!

Ephesians 6:11-13 says:  11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tacticsof the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand.

Last night our pastor reminded us of 1 Peter 5″:Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour”.  His next words were priceless, he said: “Notice is says as a lion or like a lion; Satan is a poser! He comes to steal kill and destroy posed as a lion, but Jesus came to give us abundant, rich and satisfying life. John 10:10”

Jesus, the Lion of Judah, is the real deal. He is not a poser and He came not only to save us from ourselves and our sin but He came to give  us new life, freedom, deliverance; life better than we could ever imagine.  Reading, understanding, and seeking to follow His Word is paramount in seeing this to come to fruition in our lives!!

Reminder to Remember

Following up on yesterday’s post, sometimes we need reminders to remember. Yesterday we explored a little history as the Hebrew people were rescued from their bondage in Egypt by the mighty and outstretched hand of God. God had moved mightily on their behalf. He not only  rescued them from their enslavement, but He also delivered  them from their enemy as the Egyptians and Pharaoh pursued them in their escape.  God parted the sea, His people escaped on dry ground and the sea swallowed up their enemy before they were able to catch up with God’s people! Things were looking up but one thing is sure. In this world we will have difficulties, trials and testing. The next forty years were just that for the Hebrew people. They would wander in the wilderness for 40 years to reach the Promised Land which by direct route was only an eleven day journey.

So, why the extended travel time for such a short trip?  I will let you read the story or travel notes yourself. I suspect from reading the stories and from putting together sermons I have heard, studies I have done, that the people were not so different from you or me. God has a purpose and plan for all of us and it is usually far better than anything we can even imagine. However, just like a baby is ill-equipped at birth to become an adult right away, we as believers are also not ready to immediately step into all God has planned for us.  As you are probably aware, there was an attempt at entering the promised land before the 40 year mark. Ten spies were sent in to scope out the land. They went in, explored, and even brought back produce from the land. The Promised Land was confirmed to be a beautiful land flowing with milk and honey, yet despite what they found eight of the ten spies had a negative report. Only Joshua and Caleb came back with the attitude that we are well able to take the land. They were the only of the spies that were certain that with God’s promise and outstretched arm and mighty hand this could be done. The opinion of the eight won out and the wandering continued. By the end of forty years most of those who had doubted and forgotten what God had already had done for them had died. Many could not see past their doubts and remember how God had delivered them. Many could not remember that God had provided food for their hunger, water for their thirst, that He prevented their clothing and shoes from wearing out during those years.

At last, in the book of Joshua we can read the account of Israel finally going into the Promised Land. They are told that God is among them and He will dispossess the inhabitants of the land. The priest will go first and enter the Jordan River, the waters will be cut off and held back despite it being at flood stage. The priests carrying the ark stood firmly on dry ground as the entire nation crossed. Once the people were across, Joshua sent twelve men, one from each tribe back to remove twelve stones to set up where they would camp that night as a memorial to what God had done. Joshua also set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan  and placed them where the priests were standing as a memorial. Once this was accomplished the priests finished crossing and when they stepped out of the Jordan River, it resumed its course. That night they camped at Gilgal and set up the other twelve stones as a reminder to remember and to tell their children what they had experienced, what God had done for them and to teach them about the Lord’s mighty hand so they would reverence their God.

Just as Israel need to be reminded to remember, we also need to remember. When distractions and trials come into our life, when difficulty is here and it is hard to see past the immediate demands of our circumstances, we need to remember, turn to God remembering all He has seen us through. We need to remember His great love and His faithfulness and believe beyond human reason that He will once again act on our behalf and see us through whatever is the current circumstance or difficulty we face.  In order to do this, we must know what the Word says; we must have some grasp of His Word and His promises; and above all we must exercise our faith. The more we exercise faith the more faith grows in our life.