Tuesday, March 30, 2010

It's all about Jesus

image from: peterfultonministries.com

Is it just me or does it seems like every year around Holy week Satan tries to stir the pot all over again. He thought he succeeded the first time around but then came Sunday and the empty tomb. But make no mistake, he lost the epic battle but he is still waging war. Consider today's headlines:

"Losing their religion? Catholicism in turmoil
Sex abuse scandal prompts soul-searching across the globe."

"Christian militia plotted cops’ deaths, FBI says" Maybe I am being paranoid but it seems the media is taking every opportunity to use the word Christian describing these wackos. I don't care what they call themselves, they have nothing to do with me, or my faith, or Jesus.

We don't like to talk about Satan much anymore and he likes that. He would be very happy if we just pretended he didn't exist. But Jesus didn't hesitate to talk about him so neither should we. He was in a head to head struggle with him about 2000 years ago this particular week. From His 40 day duel in the desert, to the Garden of agony, to the cross.....but that my friends is where he lost for good.

Satan is still trying to do whatever he can to destroy the credibility of the church, but he won't be able to harm it because it rests in those nail scarred hands perfectly intact. People can call themselves whatever they want, but the Lord knows those who are truly His.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter. And upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Matt. 16:13-18.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Christ our Passover.....

Photo taken at Canaan in the Desert, Phoenix
“Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7

On this Multitude Monday I am celebrating the little things of life.....sweeping the driveway on a beautiful morning#261, a new Easter wreathe on the door#262, the beautiful colors of my Easter flag#263, cleaning the windshield of my car#264, giving the plants a drink#265, listening to Pandora radio softly playing Fernando Ortega#266, fellowship with my Savior in prayer#267, mourning doves calling on the eaves nearby#268, getting ready for vacation, crossing things off my list#269, laughter yesterday#270, as I turned and found that somebody (she knows who she is!) in her haste had put the eyes on the chicks feet instead of the head! Had a good laugh over that one! I should also add here that she had surprised me yesterday by rolling out and baking my unfinished dough so I really didn't care were she put the eyes!

More laughter, tears and joy when about 50 children in all types of dress waved bedraggled palm branches and blew very off key little horns while leading an adorable little burro who I was very glad to see nobody was riding. I know Jesus was beaming down from Heaven, how could He not? It was priceless.

Contemplative wandering through Canaan in the Desert#271 Contemplation turned to something else when we rounded a corner and saw someone dressed as resurrected Jesus, and an angel in sneakers trying to get dressed on an incline, (an older gentleman who exclaimed aloud that he was not fond of heights and that he was apprehensive about slipping down the hill.) Unbeknownst to us, North Phoenix Baptist Church was having a presentation there. I think it added something special to the day. We certainly won't forget it.

Most of all, I am grateful today that I can celebrate the little things because of the big thing that we celebrate this week! For it is against the backdrop of the cross, we have life, we have victory, we have joy. In the cross we find Him! Because of the cross our life is colored with meaning and purpose. So that is the wondrous big thing I celebrate today! Celebrate with me today as we enter into our remembrance of Holy week. I am thankful that with Him, every week is Holy.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 5:24

Be a part of the Gratitude Community, join Ann, me and others here:
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Wishing a Blessed Passover to our Jewish friends today...

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are you prepared?

Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!" Matthew 20:17-19

The most dramatic event that would ever take place on the world's stage is about to happen and who really knew? I don't think the disciples had any clue about what was really going to happen. As I reflect on all those long ago events I get caught up in the drama myself, and yet life continues all around me, much as it did then. I can imagine how the disciples must have felt, their lives temporarily suspended in time as Jesus took them aside....no doubt dread and sadness filling their hearts as the gravity of the situation took hold.

Sometime later, Jesus and his disciples were at the home of Simon the leper and a woman came in with a jar of costly perfume and proceeded to pour it on Jesus head as he was reclining at the table. The disciples were indignant.....
"Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." Matthew 26:10-13
A woman crashes into the world of men, and does something incredibly bold, and Jesus sees her heart, honors her act. Did she know what was going to happen?

So much drama in this week, against the backdrop of a world that largely goes on just as before....I wonder who really knew besides Jesus what was about to happen? At what point did Judas go from dipping into the treasury to fleeing out into the night to betray Jesus? When did Satan first start whispering darkness into his heart and when did he start to listen? How could he have listened day after day, seen the miracles, the love and still turned away?

His closest friends, the twelve, then eleven.....I feel for them. I can't imagine the depth of their sadness, and yet today, on Palm Sunday I feel their joy!

"Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reflections on Palm Sunday

Triumphal Entry #1
As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away."
This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
"Say to the Daughter of Zion,
'See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' "

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
"Hosanna to the Son of David!"
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Hosanna in the highest!"
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?"
The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." Matthew 21:1-11
Triumphal Entry #2
"For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

"Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.
“'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelations 1:7

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crumbs under the table.....

Today on the way to work I was trying to pray but my brain was scrambled. I couldn't seem to take one thought and hold it captive for even a moment. My mind felt like a superhighway.....it humbled me, I felt bad for not being able to clear my mind enough to talk to God. I thought of my petty worries. I thought of all the other people who are carrying unbelievable loads, of missionaries endangering their lives to share the Gospel. I felt unworthy to bring Him my pitiful load. I thought of the Greek woman who came to Jesus asking for healing for her daughter.

"Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret. In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet. The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia. She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
"First let the children eat all they want," he told her, "for it is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs." Mark 7:24-29

"Yes, Lord," she replied, "but even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs."

Then he told her, "For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter."

Because of her tenacious faith He answered her prayer, even though she wasn't one of the "chosen." Though Jesus seems at first to be brushing her off, even admonishing her for her boldness, He really isn't; and she ends up being rewarded for her bold move. He looked in her heart and saw humility. She knew she wasn't worthy, but she knew that He had something she needed and she had faith enough to ask for it.

I was rewarded this morning too. He took my scrap offerings of faith and blessed them. God lifted the clouds from my mind and I was able to pray.....It started with honesty. To the One who knows all my weaknesses and blesses me anyway.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

An Orderly Quietness

Prayer begins, not in asking, but in a silent self-preparation. We should not rush into the Presence; the church of private devotion should be entered through the vestibule in an orderly quietness. This comes best as a by-product of a mind focused on God. We say to ourselves, "His light fill the world. It fills this room." Thus we meditate.

The next step is an act of faith, on which Jesus laid the constant stress: "All things, whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall recieve." In this initial silence of prayer we say to ourselves that whatever we ask "in the nature of Christ" is ours, granted only our earnestness in prayer and life. Always prayer is prefaced by an act of faith. We take counsel with our certitudes, not with our doubts and fears. George A. Buttrick "Prayer"

As with any muscle faith has to be exercised. What am I believing God for today? Have peace, safety, security become my idols--things that have to some degree replaced God in my life? How much faith do I really need when I know exactly how much money will show up in my bank account every 2 weeks like clockwork? The early church depended on God and each other for their every need.

And yet, I have known times of stress and heartache when each day started on my knees in desperation. And God heard everytime.....When times are good, I thank Him, always keeping in my heart a remembrance of those other times when He got me though, will get me through again.

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Philippians 4:12

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What can I give?

And looking upon them Jesus said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26

Shortly before Jesus makes his triumphal entry into Jerusalem he is approached by a rich young ruler and is asked, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" Jesus always seems to upset the apple cart wherever he goes by turning traditional customs and beliefs upside down. In ancient Jewish culture, someone who is rich is considered blessed by God. So when Jesus replied with, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." Matthew 19:21; the disciples were perplexed and astonished.

Then Peter said, and I love him for this, he probably said what all of them were probably thinking......"We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" Matthew 19:27 This was an honest question, they had sacrificed livelihoods and families to follow Jesus. In other words, "What's in it for me?" You never had to wonder where you stood with Peter, he just came right out with it! I think Jesus loved him for it.

Jesus didn't admonish him, he actually then told them what their reward would be. He also mercifully left out the part about everything they would suffer.

Maybe he wanted to give them a picture of hope, something tangible that they could grab onto, knowing all the events that were soon to follow in Jerusalem. He knew they really didn't have a clue of the awful events ahead....I can imagine that this made His heart very tender toward them.

It makes me wonder, what would I give up for Him? There is much talk in church about what we "get" for our faith today and what God will do for us, what He will give us if we do "A" and "B" but not much talk about what we can give, what we can do for Him.

Lord, help me to ask not what I can get, but what can I give to You today. I can only do this with Your strength. Give me a heart of humility and a desire to serve You. I ask all this in Jesus name, Amen

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

What a great looking lady!

I said a Birthday prayer for you today Mom, I wish I could be with you in person to hug you and tell you again how much you mean to me! I know that you will be surrounded with well-wishers today and I pray that you will be able to enjoy a measure of peace and reflection in the midst of all your regular activity and know that I treasure you, and miss you, and thank God for your influence in my life everyday.

We would all be going in circles without you to give us our marching orders and be our motivation and positive reinforcement. You are my inspiration Mom, you always find strength to lift others up, even when your own strength is tapped to the limit. That is because you know where your real strength lies, in Him.

You always said that there was only one thing you wanted for me most of all, and that is for me to know and love the Lord. You built your life around that one goal, and for that I will be eternally grateful. After all, what could be more important than that?

I wonder if you remember this.....You gave her to me in 1995

I have her in my bathroom so I can see her when I get ready for work and I always think of you then and say a prayer for you, though it makes me a little sad because I miss you! Below here she is again from a distance, I love that the stars are gathered in her little dress.

You always said that you would give me the stars if you could, and the most wonderful thing about it is, I know you would.....

So thank you Mom, for everything. All those long talks through tears, prayers shared together, the heartache of letting me go out the door. All those shopping trips when I was 14 and so small I could find nothing to wear in the Jr section; I know you went without many years so that I could have something new. Do you remember me calling you panicked from the bathroom? "Mom, can you do the back of my hair? I'm late!"

All those prayers paid off Mom......and God and I talk about you all the time! I hope the flowers I send are half as beautiful as you....They come with love.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 3:14-15

Monday, March 22, 2010

Grateful for a God who loves life....

I am counting my blessings today because whatever happens in the world, in Washington, in our lives....God is still on the throne! So today I celebrate life, and our God who loves life too.

Ever notice how perfect strangers will crowd around a newborn or new baby animal with Ooohhs and Ahhhs? All divisions are melted away when we gather around a life that is new, vulnerable, that needs protection....only the most disburbed and hardened soul could not soften a bit at images such as these.....

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

"And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:24,25

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young." Isaiah 40:11
I am thankful today for all things new and wonderful, as I continue counting I am focusing today on what is good: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true#248, whatever is noble#249, whatever is right#250, whatever is pure#251, whatever is lovely#252, whatever is admirable#253—if anything is excellent#254 or praiseworthy#255—think about such things." Philippians 4:8

Also thankful for flowers in spring#256, newborn babies#257, all baby animals#258, the hope of a new day#259 and all the promise and wonder that comes with spring#260!

If you want a dose of extreme cuteness see this movie, it's been out a long time but worth watching with your little ones, and yes there is a happy ending!

Continue counting with Ann, myself and others....
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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thy Kingdom Come.....

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. Matthew 3:16

As I was meditating on the Lord's prayer this morning, I was thinking about what it means to bring God's kingdom to earth. When Jesus prayed in Matthew 6 verse 10 "your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven," what did he really mean? How can we bring heaven down to earth? What I came up with is love. We simply can't love properly without the Holy Spirit. Jesus knew that. When he left he knew we would be hopelessly inadequate to do His work without help. Big help. God sized help.

I think about why it is so hard for us, even Christians, to love each other. We let our differences, our self, our past, old hurts, and everything else get in the way. But the Holy Spirit moves all that aside when we give Him room to work. He makes it possible for us to truly love each other, and not just put up a fake pretense of it, really love each other. That's the kind the world needs to see. Real genuine love....the world sees enough of the other kind, and it doesn't last. True love comes from God and has the power to change lives. Change eternity.

When we really start to love each another the way Jesus did, it can't help but spill out into the world. Rend the Heavens and come down Holy Spirit! Give us cooperative hearts that let you work within us so we can see more of Heaven here on earth.


Lord, let me have a prayerful heart in dealing with people so that I may love them with Your love. Amen

"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:15

Saturday, March 20, 2010

in Just-spring

in Just-
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan whistles


I have always loved this poem, I can absolutely see every image he painted with his words. I can see the park, the balloon man with his ungainly walk, the kids running and leaping in the puddles, exulting in the pure unbridled joy that only kids seem to have.

You know the kind of spring days that are so vibrant, so vivid that the whole world seems alive with the breath and glory of God. Days that are so beautiful you feel you could slice them up and serve them later. I guess that is what I am doing now.

I remember.....a special lavendar and yellow Easter dress, and yellow patent leather shoes....Finding my Easter basket one year in the washing machine, a day not so long ago, one of those mornings full of golden light, driving to church taking a guest, a young man and seeing a mother duck leading her babies in a line by the side of the road. He thought it was cool and I thought it was cool that he appreciated that.

I don't know where he is now having moved away, but I hope he is well. He was missing his family and moved back home.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. Genesis 1:11-13

Yes, it was and is very good!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sheep watching

"Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture." Psalm 100:3

Every Spring in Arizona the shepherds bring their sheep down to graze the alfalfa fields here where it's warm. I have missed them the past year or so, but I noticed that they have been back this year. I am a sheep watcher, always have been. To me there is something so peaceful about watching a green field full of sheep. I know many people drive by and never notice, but I always want to pull the car over and watch for awhile; especially when I see the little lambs. They seem so innocent and helpless to me, totally dependant on the shepherd. In fact, their very lives depend on him.

Jesus was a sheep watcher too. Sheep were part of his culture, his world. Besides that, he created them....and us! There is a reason He compared us to sheep. I am not offended by that, though they are notoriously stubborn and not the brightest bulbs in the animal kingdom, neither am I at times! God has to tell me something over and over before I really "get it." But more than that, I know He loves me very much, and as He said, "I am the good Shepard, a good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11

Here are some interesting things about sheep you may or may not know.....

Sheep are healthy and happy when their shepherd is gentle, kind, intelligent, brave
and selfless.

Sheep require endless attention and meticulous care.

Because of the competition for status, sheep cannot lie down and rest in
contentment. However, when the shepherd is present, the sheep forget their
rivalries and stop their fighting.

When sheep go through a gate to a fresh pasture, they will often leap with delight
at the prospect of fresh feed!

Sheep are creatures of habit and will follow the same trails until they become ruts
and graze on the same pasture until grass can no longer grow there. Shepherds
must carefully choose to move their flocks from one pasture to another.

Sheep loyally follow their Shepard, and sheep are known for recognizing only the voice of their master.

I think I will pull over and watch the sheep on the way home....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Prayer for the faithful

St. Patrick's Prayer for the Faithful

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Today is my Monday, so Lord I thank you for being here, not just on Mondays, Wednesdays, but everyday! I thank you for your presence and guiding hand. I thank you for showing up at my workplace before I did to pave the way, for giving me the strength and ability to do my job, and help me be a good example and a blessing to someone today.

I can do all these things, but only though You! Thank you also Lord for remembering me as I was long ago, that little girl who loved to read and daydream and just knew that leprechauns lived in the woods!

Happy St. Patrick's Day today everyone!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Heart Searching

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” 2 Cor. 13: 5,6 NIV

I wonder.....is my prayer time genuinely reflecting on God or on myself and what I can get out of it? Has my offering become something self-made, something I have constructed for my own purpose? Just a good habit? Maybe this evaluation is part of the purpose of prayer, part of the process, part of the "working out of our salvation" that Paul talks about. It is good to reflect, in fact, the Bible says to do this: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.” 2 Cor. 13: 5,6 NIV

What is the motive behind my actions? My prayer? That is what God sees, not just the words I use. Sometimes we need to go back, check our motives and start again. This is the beauty of what prayer is. Chance after chance to come and sit at His feet again. Jesus taught us....there are two things we have to do; "To ask with right motives and to ask for what aligns with His will......" 1 John 5:4,James 4:3

So I go back out and start again, with an open heart; hoping I can find the courage to walk out into the world and let Him change me, to hear and obey what He whispers during the praying. He is infinitely patient with us and is always ready to listen.

Lord, may I pray with my eyes and heart open to Your Word, for this is where I find the perfect reflection of You. Though the heart can be misleading, Your Word never is.

"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Monday, March 15, 2010

Multitude Mondays

Regretfully away from the computer today, but keeping track of the gratitude and blessings in my heart, see you tomorrow!
Join Ann along with the rest of the gratitude community here to continue counting our blessings.....
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Daffodil Sunday

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils,
And the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: --
A Poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gaz'd--and gaz'd--but little thought
What wealth the shew to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils. William Wordsworth

I have always loved daffodils, they seem so courageous to me, hopeful and optimistic they come up through the cold, hard earth that seems unwilling to surrender its grip on winter....they insist that spring is coming, and how can you argue with such beauty?

They warm from the inside out!

And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." Isaiah 6:3

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My place of refuge

Psalm 18:1-3 “I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies."

Has this ever happened to you? You are in a conversation with people and it is a lighthearted and friendly atmosphere. Then a certain subject is brought up and it turns on a dime. You are on the outside because you know that you are absolutely in the minority in the conversation in your view. You feel as if you are in the middle of the backlash of a storm. You wonder what just happened and you marvel that it happened so fast. All of a sudden you're on the outside looking in and it feels cold and lonely. It can happen anywhere, with anyone. Even your husband or wife, child, best friend.....someone in the same household. That is when it gets really tough. You can't retreat, you can't hide....or can you? Psalm 46:1 gives these comforting words: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." I love that it says, "very present." As in right there with you when things are going down that catch you completely by surprise.

It happened to me today and it was very uncomfortable. I wondered what God wanted me to learn in it, and then I realized he wanted me to do what I always do when I want to rid myself of hurt and anger. Pray. I took a deep breath and prayed for a spirit of love, forgiveness and understanding. The Holy Spirit came through, came down, calmed my heart and mind, again.......

I realized that they aren't the enemy, they are just people....... and yet, I felt the mark of the enemy on it just the same. I felt his cold breath just outside of the circle, waiting to see what I would do. The truth is, sometimes people just aren't nice. Like my Mom always says, "People fall into generally two categories, nice and not nice." I would have to agree.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Early will I seek You....

"Let all who take refuge in You be glad. Let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may rejoice in you. For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with favor as with a shield." Psalm 5:11,12

"In all things that I contemplate as I am consulting You, I find no secure place for my soul except in You. And in You, I pray that what is scattered in me may be brought together, so that no part of me may be apart from You. Sometimes...when You are working within me, bringing my scattered self to You, You draw me into a state of feeling that is unlike anything I am used to...a kind of sweet delight. I know that if this spiritual state were made permanent in me it would be something not of this world, not of this life." Augustine - Confession 10

My all surrounding Father, how my soul is tempted to search for the meaning of my life in the love of others; to look for security in money and possessions; to strive for acceptance in service and good works. Now I see how these can be temptations, open doors through which my spirit slips out from within you Self in order to trust in my own strengths. I close those doors right now, and place my soul inside your tender might. Here alone with you, I draw together all my concerns...all my responsibilities....all that is broken and scattered and needy...My soul is fed and medicined with goodness from your hand!

Devotional reading by David Hazard, taken from "Early will I seek you." 40 day journey in the company of Augustine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grace in action

James 1:27
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

On a February evening in 1998, the secretary of Living Springs Assembly of God Church in Glendale, Arizona got a call from a needy family; a request for food. When volunteer Trudy Calabrese found out there were 4 children in the home, she decided that the need was crucial enough that she go alone, so she got in her truck and went to the home of John and Kara Sansing. This is what happened next in the words of John Sansing:

“I grabbed on to the church lady who brought
me food to help my family. When I grabbed the lady, I
crossed the line. It was like no turning back.” Next,
Sansing tied her up, raped her, robbed her and
murdered her. Kara Sansing helped restrain Calabrese
as his children listened in a nearby room. He then
dumped Trudy Calabrese's body behind his house.

John and Kara had been smoking crack cocaine at the time and robbing Trudy was a way to get more, but then it all went terribly out of control. During the attack, when John left for awhile Trudy pled for her life, to be let go. Kara refused.

I remember when this happened. John and Kara have been in prison now for years, John on death row. But this is the part of the story I didn't know until recently. A family in the church stepped up and formally adopted all 4 of those precious children, the boy now in college.

The wife of my co-worker was best friends with Trudy and usually went with her on home deliveries. She didn't go that night and it still haunts her even now. He shared all these facts with me one day when something came on the news about the case when we were at work.

Trudy served in the military, but she died on a very different battlefield. She will be remembered, is still remembered. No doubt it would have made her very happy to know that the family who adopted those children kept them all together. They wanted to give them every chance for a somewhat normal life. I honor that family today. I pray that the scars that these children had to bear from what they witnessed and heard, have been healed over with the love and grace of God and this family. I honor Trudy today, I pray for the ones in her family left behind, that they may have continual comfort knowing she is safe in the arms of God.

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." 1 John 4:7,8

Monday, March 8, 2010

Grateful for Grace

Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast."

Thankful today for God's grace....the grace that leads to salvation.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17....

I have seen it happen many, many times, this modern day miracle and it never gets old! I have seen lives changed, transformed dramatically with just one decision. The most important one we will ever make.

Jesus called it being "born again."

What it is, is conversion. Blinding light with closed eyes conversion. It is the power that struck Saul on the road with that same blinding light and turned him, former "Christian persecutor" into Paul, a "Christ-follower himself'; and one of the greatest evangelists the world has ever known.

It is me sitting in the back seat after going to a Billy Graham crusade and knowing that the next Sunday I would walk down the church aisle and start my journey with Christ. It is my Dad, walking down the same church aisle, (the one he said he would never walk down) at around 45 years of age. It is my best friend who accepted Christ in my small apartment, seeing as she said, "a white light" through closed eyes. A heart-change, a life change.
It is going from death to life in one decision. One step that leads to life......

What it isn't:

Seven habits of highly successful people
Following a set of laws
Going through the 12 steps
Being in church everytime the doors are open
Doing good works

All noble things, and yet.....they won't get you the relationship with Him This Grace is peace #239, knowing your final destination #240, strength for this life #241, someone always having your back (God)#242, it is being able to throw someone who is drowning a life-preserver #243, it colors everything in this life with meaning #244, it is life eternal with God who loves me!#245 It is Jesus giving His all for you and me!#246 It is being a part of the family of God #247
Find out more here!

Join Ann along with the rest of the gratitude community here to continue counting our blessings.....
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Saturday, March 6, 2010

Not a tame God

“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lamp stands, and among the lamp stands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:12-18

When I read that verse I get lost in the power and majesty of God. I think, "Who can possibly stand up against this God of wonder and absolute justice? What hope do we have? The closest physical thing I can compare His power to is the lightning storms we have here in Arizona. Unless you are very foolish, you don't want to be anywhere close to where it strikes. (I confess I have been in this category at least once playing storm-chaser, I love watching lightning.)

But then I read....."For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust." Psalm 103:14 That verse fills me with undeniable comfort. He knows my every weakness. This God of the universe knows me intimately. “Thus He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and does not return.” Psalm 78:39 I am no match for Satan, but there is One who is, and He faced him down in the desert long ago. When Satan looks at me he sees someone he cannot have. He may desire to "sift me like wheat" as he did Peter, but his tether is only as long as God allows. My soul is kept safe in His Almighty hand forever!

"and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." Ecclesiastes 12:7

My soul has been bought and paid for, and to its rightful owner it will return someday, to the One who has redeemed me forever! The Bible says it is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God, but we have been redeemed by God Himself and we have nothing to fear!

I think C.S. Lewis hits it right on the head with this quote from Chronicles of Narnia:

Lucy is sad that Aslan is going away but Mr. Tumnus insures her that he will be back at some point. Mr. Tumnus: "Don't worry. We'll see him again." Lucy: "When?" Mr. Tumnus: "In time. One day he'll be here and the next he won't. But you must not press him. After all, he's not a tame lion." Lucy: "No... but he is good."

Our God may not be tame, but He is good!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Get in the closet!

I couldn't believe I found this image on Google. This is the exact little lantern that I have in my prayer closet (shed)

I have fallen into an interesting rhythm with my prayer times. I notice that it has become extremely necessary; something I miss when I don't get it. I miss my time with Him like I would miss someone I really love if I were away from them.

I would want to get on a plane, make a phone call, drive all night, just get there, be with them, drink in their presence, look into their smiling eyes. It has become something I need. Not a duty, or a requirement. But a privilege!

When I work my long shift and don't have the time in the mornings I feel a pull toward evening to go out....light my candle for a few moments, thank Him for the day, and for His indwelling comfort, making everything possible.

Sometimes days are so packed with activity that we have to remind ourselves to take a breath! Caregivers experience this all the time. During those times our very actions become like prayer. Niches of prayer carved out here and there, when someone is sleeping, or perhaps when driving somewhere, red light prayer, standing in line prayer. But God hears them just the same.

I am thankful, so thankful for this. It has made me closer to Him, more able to trust Him with my life, more able to encourage others to take this step. It settled into my life gradually and quietly, this habit of prayer, and changed me forever.

"But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly." Matthew 6:6

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Diary of a bookstore junkie

We enter the bookstore and I am transported to my happy place, I gaze at the displays much like a diabetic at a See's candy store. So many stories that beg to be brought to life in the reading! We head for the racks, a free afternoon and the possibilities are endless. Stress evaporates like a vapor. I am drawn to the tables, arms laden with treasure. Too good to be true, a table in the corner....we can't believe our fortune as we unburden ourselves and settle in. Life is good today. This is one last grasp at the weekend before it all starts over again, we seize it, cherish it. One of mind and spirit, we will know when it is time to go without speaking, and the time will be right.

We fall in to the rhythm of page turning, enjoying a little slice of life here in this corner of the world. People watching is part of the fun. A college student nearby, stacks of papers ripped out of her binder, her pager nearby as a reminder of outside responsibilites. The number display is faced away from her, as if she doesn't want to be reminded it may go off at any moment. A man with his back to us laughed out loud every once in a while, attracting stares as he did so. An elderly couple teetering to a table complained about the price of the coffee and cookies they had just bought. College girl's pager goes off and she goes to use the payphone, coins clinking as she feeds them in.

It is tempting to eavesdrop as two older gentlemen sit down nearby and complain about the Rio Salado Project and living in Mesa in general. One of them says, "My wife doesn't know it yet, but we are putting our house up for sale, then we are outta here." I wonder when he will let her in on this?

Pages continue to turn, stopping every now and then to share what is interesting; we drink up the wonderful rhythm of sounds, the whir of the cappacino machine, rising and falling of conversation, the rustle of pages, all blending in and around background music. I sense that these are very precious times to be cherished. What a gift to enjoy these simple things with a like-minded person I treasure.

"Hey," she says, glancing toward the display, "Did you see those chocolate cupcakes."

"Yes," I say, "I saw them when we came in." I have the peripheral vision of a squirrel when it comes to spotting chocolate.

"Do we dare?" She says.

"Yes absolutely," I say, "A perfect day like this calls for it."

1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven Ecclesiastes 3:1

Monday, March 1, 2010

Counting answers....

I recently bought a prayer journal. I have always kept a journal, but as I finished my last one awhile back I sensed the need to close that particular way of journaling. Having a blog has fulfilled something in me that journaling once did, plus I have a weakness in my right hand that makes it impossible to write for a prolonged period of time.

I love this taking note of prayers. It makes me realize how many things I have taken for granted; how many prayers He has answered through the years that I have forgotten. But I don't want to forget.

When you really start to pay attention to what you pray and how many times He answers, it fills you with a gratitude that does something to change you from the inside out! It's like what happened just this morning. I was struggling as usual in my prayer time. Many times I have been wondering when I am going to start my "real ministry" my "life's work", you know, that undefinable "thing" that God really wants me to do. I prayed when I turned fifty last year that I wanted to make the second half of my life count for eternity, really put my life on His altar.

Here it is 6 months later, and not much has changed, or has it?

I wondered, what am I really doing for Him? Who am I impacting? What do my small words matter? Maybe you feel the same things as you walk your child to school, fix a meal, clean the house, commute to work. My answer came as soon as I opened my email this morning! It might as well have been sent from Heaven.

I realized through that email that whatever we do, if we do it as unto the Lord, He blesses it. When we are a child of God that little thing matters because He sees our heart, our true motive. He takes that action that we might think is very small, and multiplies it with His Holy Spirit. He sanctifies every action and makes it an act of worship. Because we love Him, he notices it! That other person is blessed too as a result. So take heart today, you may feel your many tasks go unnoticed, but God notices every one!

"Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." Col. 3:23,24 NLT

He answered my prayer this morning in the words of a dear friend who has been blessed and comforted by my blog. She and her husband are going through a very scary health issue right now. Just the fact that I can give her any comfort at all, means the world to me.

So I am counting answers to prayer today, starting with this morning's email #231, my brain worked last week and I learned some new things at work #232, Mom has turning point with her knee #233, I did not have to do the task I was dreading at work #234, my brother is having success with his diet #235, good prayer times #236, blessings of more rain on the roof #237,Praying with gratitude that He hears every one #238 and sometimes just trusting in the silence is an answer........

Join Ann along with me and many others here to continue counting our gratitude:
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