Saturday, July 31, 2010

The best reason to praise

Image by flickr
It happens to me at least once a day, especially this time of year with our Arizona monsoons......I am driving or walking and I see something in nature that makes me stop everything for just a moment and breathe a prayer of praise.

It's a natural and spontaneous reaction that happens when you know that there is a God who is behind it all, and that even nature itself cannot help praising God. When I lift my hands or say, "Thank you God," for a beautiful sunrise I am simply echoing what all of creation is already doing; praising our Creator for continuing to extend His mercy for one more day. Another day to hope, to believe in Him, to thank Him for His marvelous works and for our redemption.

One of the best reasons I can think of to praise God is because Satan absolutely hates it when we do. It's like throwing cold water on the wicked witch of the west. He simply can't succeed in anything he does when we are praising God.

The Bible has much to say about praise and not once does it say to praise Him only when things are going well. It just says to praise Him because He is worthy!
"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." Psalm 59:16

When Satan came before God's throne in order to stir up trouble for Job, I believe he thought his victory was a shoe-in and that Job would surely cave in to despair and give up on God. But Job knew that whatever he was going through, it didn't change who God was. He knew that in spite of everything, that God still loved Him; that for God to allow such grief there had to be a very good reason for it.

Absolute trust.

If you are despairing today, God has not left you. He has promised to be with you and see you through...

Another reason to praise is that we will be doing it throughout eternity, so we might as well practise now!

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!" Revelation 5:13

Can you picture even the animals bowing their heads or lifting their paws in praise to their Creator? It could happen! How cool would that be?

Can you think of a time when it was very difficult to praise God and you did it anyway?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Faith like Noah

"In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights." Genesis 6:11-12

I am celebrating rain today. We finally had the kind of rain that people in the desert dream of. Sideways, torrential rain. All this rain puts me in mind of Noah. I am trying to imagine the kind of faith it would take to keep on building an Ark for anywhere between 55 to 75 years. (This figure was developed by a very smart Biblical research guy, not me.) I also could not find anywhere in the Bible where it says that the people taunted Noah while he was building it, but given the cultural climate I would say it is a strong possibility they did. The LORD saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. Genesis 6:5

Ever had someone say to you, "You really believe all that stuff?" Referring to the events in the Bible. They look at you with a bemused mixture of disbelief and bewilderment, and sometimes downright anger depending on who you are talking to. You may as well have just told then that aliens had kidnapped you from your bed and then flown you back to earth in time for work.

All the while Noah just kept hammering away, mixing up more pitch and sawing up more cypress. And watching the sky....It must have been very hard for he and his family. Lets face it, if we are to be honest, even if a 8 foot tall heavenly messenger came complete with thundering voice and glowing countenance, sooner or later they go away and you are left with insulting crowds and a clear sky with no rain in sight.

He just kept building. Just like we keep on believing. We belong to the family of Noah after all. When we really start to count up the ways we exercise our faith on a daily basis, we realize we have quite a bit in common with Noah after all. We pray to a God we can't see and we believe He answers and we look to the sky just like Noah did.

"Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives entered the ark to escape the waters of the flood. Pairs of clean and unclean animals, of birds and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark, as God had commanded Noah." Genesis 7:6-9

I wish I could have seen it. All the animals walking peaceably side by side, leopards, elephants, goats, crocodiles, as Noah stood by the door with his staff....Thank you God for Noah's great faith, and for the rain.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tuning in to what's real

"Here and there among men, there are those who pause in the hurried rush to listen to the call of a life that is more real. How often have we seen them, David, jostled and ridiculed by their fellows, pushed aside and forgotten. He who sees and hears too much is cursed for a dreamer, a fanatic, or a fool by the mad mob who, having eyes, see not, ears and hear not, and refuse to understand.

Only when we can no longer strive in the battle for earthly honors or material wealth do we turn to the unseen and more enduring things of life and hear and see the things we have so long refused to consider." The Shepherd of the Hills, Harold Bell Wright.

I recently found a little treasure of a book published in 1907 about a worldly traveler who longs to escape his sophisticated city life and retreats to the Ozarks where he meets some people who teach him how to truly live. Leaving behind a successful church in the city, he ends up finding his faith and God in the mountains.

While there he meets Pete, the child who claims to speak with God, who wanders at night under the stars and hears the voices that whisper in the wind. When I look at this picture I can just see little Pete standing there in the sun. We can all learn something from the Petes of this world.

I talk to God all the time and though I have never yet heard an audible voice, I know He answers. The main way He answers me is though His word, but He uses other creative ways as well. I think I am going to listen to the wind more, and tune in to the song of the stars that sing. I am going to try to be more like Pete and tune into the Eternal world where God lives. I might be surprised what I hear!

"When I think of the wisdom and scope of God's plan, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit. And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in him. May your roots go down deep into the soil of God's marvelous love. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love really is." Ephesians 3:14-18

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dealing with Disappointment

We have all felt the weight of disappointment. It's crushing, sometimes debilitating. When it's due to circumstance it is frustrating enough, but when it is caused by people we care about, the hurt sinks deeper. It may be that they have no clue of the depth and impact their decision made on you. But there is One who does.

It washes over you in waves. You think you are over it, then you get another reminder, a text, a phone call. You want to tell them, "Hey, I am still smarting from this, while you seem to be going about your business as if everything is normal." I am not okay yet.

There is only one thing we can do with disappointment, and that is to lay our battered heart at the cross of the One who knows how it feels. Talk it all out with Him. He knows how it feels to be disappointed over and over again by people. But He gave that to the Father. Somehow I think He did this when He went alone to quiet places to pray. I think He did this often, to renew His strength. To keep going, to keep loving, no matter what the cost.

Stand on the shore today, if only in your mind. Feel your disappointments wash away and be taken out to sea with every cleansing wave. Know that you will heal because of your relationship to the Healer.

Jesus was disappointed by people everywhere He went. He more than anyone knew the capacity for failure in the human heart. But He never stopped reaching out, He counted the cost and He figured we were worth it. He knew we would disappoint him, but it didn't matter, He knew He must keep offering love.

Give your offerings, your every disappointment to Him today. Let the Holy Spirit bind your heart today with His peace.

"When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation." Luke 22:45,46

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beginnings and endings

Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem

More often than not, when something looks like it's the absolute end, it is really the beginning. Think of the cross. The Roman officials applauded. The Jewish officials rejoiced. "Finally we got rid of him, that troublemaker! We're glad that's over." Yet three days later, He was alive again. What seemed like an ending was only the beginning. Chuck Swindoll

I am thinking of all those times during my teens when something happened and I thought it was the absolute end of the world, I couldn't imagine anything worse, but here I am, here we all are. We got through, survived the emotional turmoil that we never thought we would...

"He who sits on the throne said, Behold, I am making all things new." Revelation 21:5

Monday, July 26, 2010

Surprised by joy

Here I am Lord and I'm drowning
In your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where you found me
And it echoes in my mind
Keeps me awake tonight

Jesus can you show me
Just how far the East is from the West
Cause I can't bear to see the man I've been
Come rising up in me again
In the arms of your mercy I find rest
Cause you know just how far the East is from the West
From one scarred hand to the other. "East to West", Mercy Me

This morning my prayer room felt empty. I lit my candle anyway as an offering of faith. It was mustard seed small. I prayed, wondering what I did wrong that I didn't feel Him there, to make Him turn away. I waited in the silence. So intent on myself and my feelings I forgot to leave room for the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes I think God hides Himself a bit just to see what we will do.

I think sometimes He plays hide and seek in order to encourage us to flex our faith muscles and pray anyway. I waited.....I praised some more, I read the Psalms. I sang.....He surprised me with His joy leaping up like John in Elizabeth's womb. What mercy. What did I do to deserve this lavish grace?Absolutely nothing.

Then I think, why me? What about the one who prays for days, weeks, months, and never seems to get any confirmation that God is listening? That is dangerous thinking. It is all too tempting to think I did something to get this reaction. I do this, He does that. Like a formula. But God doesn't work in formulas, and he certainly doesn't wait around until I hit the right combination of steps in order to reveal Himself. He reveals Himself in His own time, and His timing is always perfect.

He does it because of His great love and grace. Because He loves giving gifts to His children. It pleases Him to do these things. There is nothing I could do that would make God do anything. Or not do something. But here is a very important reason why God reveals Himself in our we can encourage and build each other up!

The Bible assures us that He will answer in due time. I entered my prayer closet empty and came out filled....
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him." Matthew 7:7-11

Has there ever been a time in your life when you felt God was hiding His presence?

Rejoicing today in His eagerness to give good gifts: #393 peace in turbulence, #394 perseverance in difficulty, #395 assurance of Scripture, #396 confirmation that He hears, #397 unexpected joy, #398 laughter when all else fails, #399 dear ones to pray with, #400 His strength in my weakness.

holy experience

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A love that never fails......

Photo By Jack Lighton

A Love That Never Fails

There is an eye that never sleeps
Beneath the wing of night;
There is an ear that never shuts
When sinks the beams of light.
There is an arm that never tires
When human strength gives way;
There is a love that never fails
When earthly love decays

George Matheson

"The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore."
Psalm 121:5-8

God wants to be actively involved in everything that concerns us. The Bible doesn't just say He watches us it says He watches over us, not passively but actively. Every little thing we do interests Him. We say, look what I did, God.....and He does. Like any good parent, He loves the things that are of little meaning to anyone else but of great importance to us!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Humorous Bible Verses

At noon Elijah began to taunt them. "Shout louder!" he said. "Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened." I Kings 18:27

If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom. Job 13:5

Sticks and stones...
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" 2 Kings 2:23 NIV

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish. Proverbs 31:6 NIV (I didn't know they had beer back then?)

He said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I'm exhausted."
Genesis 25:30 Holman Christian Standard Bible

"Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over." Hosea 7:8 NIV

Road Rage even back then:
"The lookout reported, "He has reached them, but he isn't coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a madman." 2 Kings 9:20 NIV

Have a Blessed and Humorous Weekend!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Merciful proof....

Photo from google

"It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce man and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? Can there be any doubt where wars come from and where peace comes from, when the children of this world, excluding God from their peace conferences, only manage to bring about greater and greater wars the more they talk about peace?"
— Thomas Merton (The Seven Storey Mountain)

There is so much that is good in the world, each day we wake to the possibility of witnessing a miracle, if we could only see it as such. What is it about a spectacular sunrise that gives us hope, makes us believe that it is very worth getting up and doing it all again?

There is a Spirit that lives and breathes, that once moved across the waters of the unformed earth, whose breath continues to fill everything in the universe, who moves in us today.

He is behind it all....behind each new blossom, every drop of rain that falls to the ground. He is behind the wild exultant joy we feel sometimes that makes us want to shout out in praise because He started it all.

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements--surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?" --Job 38

He is behind those quiet moments when we feel we are part of a much bigger whole, bit players in a magnificent stage that is living breathing thriving and pulsating with lifethat struggles to survive even when it seems there is a slim chance for it.

Once, in the quiet hush of a crisp October twilight I walked alone in the woods. It was the time of evening when day and night meet and greet, and nature draws itself in close. I had a holy visitor, nary a trace of sound he made as he trotted, this lone coyote, then sprang lightly over a log, blowing puffs in the air. I felt like a guest there in his perfect world, inside his poem.

God and I saw it together......and it was good.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The way things were.....

Is it just me or does it seem like the world is angrier these days? I asked my Mom about how things were when she grew up and she said, "Yes, the world was a much different place when I was growing up." When she was in High School in the 1940's they would all go miles away in carloads or by bus to the beach. Big groups of kids, boys and girls, and nobody ever had to be afraid of anything. None of the parents worried because there was no need. The girls were treated like ladies, and everybody danced with everybody, and not the way the kids dance now, real dancing.

None of the kids got drunk, nobody dreamed of committing a violent act against anyone else, and if one guy ever mistreated a girl, there were 10 other guys waiting to put him back in line.

Please and thank you were still said....doors were opened for the women, and men got up when a woman came to the table. Drugs were unheard of.

A group of young people walking on the sidewalk would never have dreamed of not yielding to an older person walking by, and high school students in my Mom's class, in the 1940's, would never have talked back to a teacher, let alone threatened or assaulted one.

Personally, I really miss decorum, and manners, and class. I wish children could be safe wherever they went, and if they were left out after dark, I wish we lived in a world where they could go up to any door and find someone to take them back home. It used to be that way in my parents world.

I would like to live in that kind of world. Although I would miss my IPHONE and my computer....

Things have even changed a lot since I went to school....I can almost imagine how it might have been back in those times. Growing up in small town 60's and 70's I got the tail end of it. A girl I knew in High School actually sang "Beautiful Savior" at an assembly and the students were respectfully attentive. Do they even have assemblies anymore? They certainly wouldn't allow that song to be sung now!
What do you think? Do you feel like things have changed since you were a kid? For the better?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

My walk in the woods

July in the desert and everyone is dreaming of the cool breezes that left in early May....heat is everywhere and there is no escaping it. I go out to pray and my mind tells me 6:00 should be bearable, but its not.

My mind wanders, I pace inside like a caged animal.
I go to the secret place where He resides, My own Living water that springs eternal.

Lord, I ache for green, and air that carries the scent of pine, and the spray of surf pounding on the shore. Be my walk in the woods, the little stream that I long to sit by and write, my thoughts and the ones you give me....

Be that porch that I dream of, the one with three steps up.....surrounded by hydrangeas of violet and blue, and the wind chimes gently revealing Your wind, Your voice.

I am in another garden today, the one that resides in the Spring of His Word. I am there watching green leaves toss against a canopy of blue from a hammock that swings in the playful air.

My heart is greatly refreshed.

A bird calls and another answers across the yard and I am filled with the peace that passes understanding.
Help me remember God, that You are always more than enough. Help me to remember, like Paul to be grateful for chains, and help me to remember also that my small chains of inconvenience are nothing compared to the chains that bind others.

None of them are any match for Your strength!

Thank You for being more than I can ever ask or think.

"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. I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12,13

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The waiting game....

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:2,3 Jesus

To me Heaven will be like one enormous family reunion, the best one we could ever imagine, and it won't have an end. No endings, no partings, no good-byes.
We won't have to leave, go back to dismal jobs, go back to the old routines and rhythms of life that we have to fit ourselves back into.

Everyone will be glad to see each other and no one goes home, because we will all already be home!

A giant church supper where everyone is welcome and nobody is a stranger.

All of life is some form of waiting, forward looking.
It is the momentum of life that keeps us going....
Here in Arizona, in the heat of summer, we know about waiting.
We wait for cool breezes, relief from the merciless heat.
The time for open windows and dining al fresco instead of al fry-o!
Or we wait for the weekend,
Kids to move out.
Kids to come back....

It is good though, to pause in the waiting, to savor what is happening right now this very moment. Enjoy the process of waiting because there is beauty in that too!

But someday our wait for everything will be over and we will hear Him say, "Welcome Home......"

Is there a major life event you are waiting for right now? Maybe more than one? What is it that makes the waiting easier?

"But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." Philippians 3:20-21

Monday, July 19, 2010

Lights along the path.....

"You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely at the Cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in his presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that! You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. There is no other Message—just this one. Every creature under heaven gets this same Message. I, Paul, am a messenger of this Message." Colossians 1:21-23 The Message

We are Christ's messengers of Good News. Like lights along the pathway of life, we are to bring light to those around us. We have the best news that was ever given to mankind. Pastor Will gave a great analogy yesterday. I am paraphrasing here, "We call all of our neighbors and friends when we hear that Chick-fil-A is giving away free sandwiches, but when it comes to sharing the Good News of salvation to a lost and dying world we keep silent."

The other day my co-worker was talking excitedly about a documentary he watched the night before. It was all about how nature works together to provide just the right balance for sustaining life. It was all very evolutionary and scientific. I listened for a moment, nodding in agreement. Then I said, "Yes, it is amazing how everything is perfectly in balance, I believe that God knew exactly what it would take to sustain life and that is how He created it." He was good natured about it, being open to different views. I couldn't stay silent.

Then I think, would the Apostle Paul have stopped there? The Acts church was adding to their numbers daily There is someone who may be waiting for you or me to tell them what they most need to hear. They are sitting in darkness waiting for someone to show them the light of Christ. How can we show someone the light when they don't even know they are sitting in the dark? And how can we show someone the light unless we have come out of the darkness ourselves?

"Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[d]eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked.

"How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
Acts 8:26-31 Read the rest of the account here.

Where would I be today if someone had not shared with me? I can't even think of it. Grateful today for a God who has withheld nothing.....eternal life, His Son, the joy of creation, knowing who set the stars in the sky, peace in turbulence, knowing He will never leave me, He knows my heart, my name, every hair on my head, he holds me in His palm.....#392 and counting. Happy Birthday Dad! Thank you for being my light then and now!
holy experience

Saturday, July 17, 2010

It is well.....

Bing Images, New River UK

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

These are the verses I learned, but there are two more that are worth looking up....

Horatio Spafford

"It Is Well with My Soul" is a very influential hymn penned by hymnist Horatio Spafford and composed by Philip Bliss.

This hymn was written after several traumatic events in Spafford’s life. The first was the death of his only son in 1871, shortly followed by the great Chicago Fire which ruined him financially (he had been a successful lawyer). Then in 1873, he had planned to travel to Europe with his family on the SS Ville du Havre, but sent the family ahead while he was delayed on business concerning zoning problems following the Great Chicago Fire. While crossing the Atlantic, the ship sank rapidly after a collision with a sailing ship, the Loch Earn, and all four of Spafford's daughters died. His wife Anna survived and sent him the now famous telegram, "Saved alone." Shortly afterwards, as Spafford traveled to meet his grieving wife, he was inspired to write these words as his ship passed near where his daughters had died.

This old hymn popped into my mind on the way to work today and I just couldn't help singing it....what is it about those Hymns that can make you feel all wiggly inside when you hear them?

Do you have a favorite?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Our debt to Christ

Paul was overwhelmed with the sense of his indebtedness to Jesus Christ, and he spent his life to express it. The greatest inspiration in Paul’s life was his view of Jesus Christ as his spiritual creditor. Do I feel that same sense of indebtedness to Christ regarding every unsaved soul? As a saint, my life’s spiritual honor and duty is to fulfill my debt to Christ in relation to these lost souls. Every tiny bit of my life that has value I owe to the redemption of Jesus Christ. Am I doing anything to enable Him to bring His redemption into evident reality in the lives of others? I will only be able to do this as the Spirit of God works into me this sense of indebtedness. Oswald Chambers

It strikes me that one of the best ways we can do this is simply by being a friend. Looking into someone's eyes instead of through them. Letting people know in small ways that they matter, that they count. We aren't all called to be preachers or teachers, but we can all evangelize by living our lives with a simple beauty that shines the light of Christ. In doing so we let our immense gratitude for Him spill out into the world to others. Then be prepared when they ask you the reason for this joy and hope within you....."But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," 1 Peter 3:15

You never know who is watching. The highest compliment I can ever receive is when someone says, "I know you were a believer," without me ever saying a word.

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. 1 Thessalonians 4:11,12

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Lost Sheep

"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 always looking up facts about sheep because the more I read the Bible, the more I see that there are endless illustrations about sheep, shepherds, lambs, pastures, and sheep gates. It goes on and on. The latest fact I learned was that the Shepherd sometimes breaks the legs of the lambs. At first that sounded cruel, well it still does, but then I found out why they did it. It was to make it easier to carry the lambs on their shoulders in order to keep them safe from predators.

I can't eat lamb. I tried it once and didn't like it. Probably because I was envisioning a little face like this in my mind. I can't eat veal for the same reason. But my main point was, (and I do have one somewhere) is that sometimes God allows certain things to happen in order to put us in a safer place. And sometimes after repeated warnings, He lets us wander in the wilderness for a bit so that He can teach us a valuable lesson, but it hurts Him to do this.

I can remember times in my life when I have felt, so scared, so surrounded, so vulnerable. This life can be a scary place, and sometimes we do feel totally alone. Vulnerable to the shadows of night, aware that unless help comes we are finished. Everything becomes distorted...requests become harsh demands and all fingers are pointing at you. Mercy is nowhere to be found. But never fear. Your Shepherd has counted and found that you are missing, and even now he is bounding up the path, staff at the ready.

Feel his strong arms lift you into safety today as you nestle in the warmth of His love, hammering hearts of panic slow and rest in His own strong heart's rhythm. Know that whatever happens, you remain in His safe place.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You follow me.....

"Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?") When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"
Jesus answered, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Because of this, the rumor spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?" John 21:20-23

Jesus and Peter were walking along the shore, birds flying overhead, water lapping gently.....I can almost see the expression on both Peter and Jesus' faces when Jesus said, "What is that to you, you follow me." Jesus never had a problem getting right to the heart of the matter. I can imagine Him looking right at Peter and then Peter looking down because He realized that he was being admonished. I don't think Jesus said this harshly, I think He probably had his arm around Peter when He said it. He was trying to get Peter back on track, back to focusing on Him. Just what we need to hear today. It is so easy to lose focus, but I feel His steady gaze turned on me now. "Lori, what is that to you? You follow me."

But Lord, what about when I feel so overwhelmed I can scarcely take a breath....
You follow me
What about when I can't see where I am going....
You follow me
The pressure is blotting out all my peace....
You follow me, for I am going before you today.

My yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:30

Why do you think Peter was concerned about what would happen to John? What are some of pitfalls of comparing our lives to others?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

God loves happy endings

Growing up we spent a couple Thanksgivings at the home of my cousin's cousins. The home of my Uncle Bruce's brother and his family. It was an older home in Berkeley California, and I was charmed by it at first sight. It had a Hollywood driveway, the kind with the strip of lawn going up the middle and a big screened in porch just made for curling up with a good book. One of the most enchanting things about it though was the little bookshelf at the top of the narrow staircase. It was magic to me and I couldn't wait to go up and explore the titles. Jackie was a librarian so she must have recognized a kindred spirit in me, a fellow book lover. I was invited to take any book I wanted. I knelt in front of it while everyone else was out playing, lost in my own universe.

In school I always gave a sigh of relief when they asked us to write a book report instead of solving a math problem. I love long books and I hate for a good book to end. But the great thing about reading is there is always another on the horizon. I am so glad there are those who just can't stop writing! That, and reading is free.

God loves books too. He wrote a best seller. It is still selling like hotcakes. He is waiting for a happy ending. God is the eternal optimist! "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:9

The Bible is the one book with no ending, and we are all part of the story. God must not like for things to end either. He never meant for endings at all, only life ever after with Him. Open God's book today. It will speak to you in the silence.

Everywhere I have sought rest and not found it,
except sitting in a corner by myself with a little book.
~ Thomas ã Kempis

Monday, July 12, 2010


I was thinking today how complicated everything seems, even the church. Every day I see terms associated with the modern church that leave me confused, and I am one of the ones in the church! I can't imagine how those outside the church feel. No wonder they are confused and disillusioned. I just heard a new term today, the Organic Church. I have no idea what it means, then there are these terms associated with the church today:
Emergent Church
Post-Modern Church
Conservative and Post-conservative
Liberal and Post Liberal
Charismatic and Neocharismatic

Those are just a sprinkling of terms I found and those are general terms that don't even include the different denominations themselves. No wonder people are confused about Christianity. Sometimes I think it would be a whole lot easier if all churches had one name...."The Way" with a simple fish on the front.
Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." Isaiah 30:31
The important thing to remember is that behind all the differences of denomination and styles of worship, we are all one church.

Lord, I pray that we can be one unified church so that You might be glorified on this earth. May we continue to be a light in a dark world that needs You. I pray that we can use love as a filter through all of our differences. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit who makes this possible. Amen.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8

Celebrating the church today and all the important ways we are the same.....believing that He is risen, and that we will rise too, that we have forgiveness through His work on the cross, that we must trust Him daily, confess our sins, know that we are unworthy but He is worthy, lifting our hands, bowing our heads, praising His name in the sanctuary, that we remember what He did through communion, enter into new life through baptism, death swallowed up in victory
holy experience

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A living prayer

Photo from Google images

Our confidence lies in the fact that God hears the whispers we pray when there is no time for anything else. Whispers in the dark when all is silent and the heart slows down in the calm of lights out.

We throw arrows up and He catches them and puts them safely in His quiver....He knows when there is no practical time to pray but yet our heart is praying without ceasing and our soul is on its knees.

Prayer is the soul catching its breath

Somehow we rise up with wings as eagles and soar with the Spirit...somehow we get everything done, our bodies going through the motions and His Spirit carrying us through. We become a living prayer.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" Romans 8:26

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Singing to the Lord

It's good to sing for the Lord, and for anyone else who will listen too! I sang all the way to work today because it was raining. Rain in Arizona is worth singing about! Music was a big part of my childhood. No family gathering was complete without some form of group singing. My Mom always sang in choirs, with bands, wherever she could sing, she sang. So many times growing up I would walk up to the driveway and hear her beautiful voice through the window.

God loves our singing, no matter how it sounds, it is a sound of beauty to Him. I hope I get to sound like Sarah Brightman in heaven. I think when God hears our voice it somehow transforms into an ethereal sound once it breaks the barriers of the celestial wall.

Once I heard the most beautiful sound walking down the street in Carmel, California. Both my friend and I looked at each other and we knew we had to find the source of that beautiful voice. Our steps us up the steps to a large hall, and right up to a closed bathroom door where an opera singer was practicing. We never forgot that sound!

The Psalms tell us over and over to Sing to the Lord! "Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.
3 Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise." Psalms 33:2

Even God sings......can you imagine that sound?

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Animals sing too.....Once a wolf begins howling, other pack members often show a strong tendency to approach that animal and join in. Lois Crisler has said, “Like a community sing, a howl is a happy occasion. Wolves love to howl. When it is started, they instantly seek contact with one another, troop together, fur to fur. Some wolves will run from any distance, panting and bright-eyed, to join in, uttering, as they near, fervent little wows, jaws wide, hardly able to wait to sing.”littlewows, jaws wide, hardly able to wait to sing.” Lisa Matthews / Wolf Song of Alaska Volunteer

Kids love it when we sing too, even though they look at us like we are crazy!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Aging well

Douglas MacArthur evaluated his life on his 75th birthday, saying: "Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. People grow old by deserting their ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. In the central place of every heart, there is a recording chamber; so long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer, and courage, so long are you young. When the wires are all down and your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old.

I have found that young people really do like to be around the elderly, provided they are fun, positive and most importantly have not forgotten how to laugh. Let's face it, aging can be humorous!

I think a healthy culture values its elderly population. After all, God greatly values the elderly. He gave them their biggest jobs after they had reached the age where many Americans are living in retirement villages playing golf and bingo!

My folks have done a great job of aging well, I only hope I can do it half as successfully as they have. Here are some of the reasons I believe they have continued to stay young at 81 and 82!

Staying in the Word
Staying positive
Laughing at themselves and the world around them
An extremely active lifestyle
Loving God and each other
Reaching out to others
Giving generously
Staying current with world events
Taking care of their health

I pray for those elderly today who are not well. For those who are alone, and who feel left behind and left out. Who feel they have nothing to contribute. May they find a friend and comfort in You God, and help me to be a friend to the elderly in my own life. Amen

Isaiah 46:4 “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Meeting God in a garden

"Kiss of the sun for pardon. Song of the birds for mirth. You're closer to God's heart in a garden than any place else on earth." -- Dorothy Frances Gurney

It is good to be able to find a quiet corner of the yard in the mornings. I used to do this when I had a garden and I miss it. I would go and the outdoor stray cat would follow me, her white patches turning blissfully brown as she gleefully rolled in the freshly tilled earth. She was happy to share her territory with me.

Sometimes I felt I could actually hear the plants grow, reaching for the sun. If I got very close, at eye level with the plants I was aware of a whole new universe. I would see the dew drops, and the small bugs crawling in their world, unaware of me and the bigger world surrounding them.

God placed us here lovingly and called it good long ago....

I keenly felt a closeness with my Grandparents there, I have heard all their stories, them trying to scratch out a living from the hard North Dakota soil. How they came home one day to a flash flood, my Grandma desperately gathering chicks up in her apron and bringing them in to try and save them. Tunnels from the house to the barn in the bitter cold of winter so that my Grandpa and Aunt could milk the cows....And saying goodbye to all their animals, each one named, when they left for a better life in California.

They left behind a little grave holding their child Annie, fatally shot by a foster child at aged two. The boy ran away and they never found him. I can't imagine their sorrow. They made it out West, not without difficulty. They started over, pressed on and made a very good life. And their gardens always flourished

They have been reunited with their Annie for many years now, but I remember by being here with them in my quiet moments, I honor their memory and press on.....

"Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed." Genesis 2:8

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Eternity in our hearts

Stairway at Butchart Gardens

Living with eternity always in mind changes our perspective on everything else that happens in this life. This is the great challenge, to keep this fixed always in the backdrop of our hearts and minds. In this way, nothing can totally devastate us as it would if we didn't have this hope.

Everything around us, however difficult or bleak the circumstance may be, continues to be colored with this one idea, this one thought. This is not all there is..... Sometimes we feel as if we have one foot in this world and one in the next and we feel the weight of it when life gets to be too much. Some would say that living like that would taint this life, as someone who goes around with one ear closed, half paying attention to everything around them, but really it turns the volume up. Everything somehow seems more brilliant, more vibrant and alive, like a deaf or blind person who has just got their senses for the first time.

Paul felt the weight of eternity too......

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; Philippians 1:21-23

There is no going around it. We will constantly seek more in this life, because we know instinctively that there is more....He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

What do you think? Does knowing we have eternity make you sometimes want to give up on this life? Or does it make it easier to go on?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness......

I am proud of our country today and proud of the people who even today are fighting for the rights of other countries to have that same freedom. America has historically always been the first to show up when help is offer aid, to rescue the weak, to never be afraid to jump into the fray in the fight for freedom, all the while knowing that they may have to pay with their own blood.

Freedom is worth it to them, and it is worth it to me.

I am thankful for America today, and proud of who we have always been. A beacon of hope for other nations, a light on the pathway to freedom.

I pray today for those fighting so that we can all enjoy the little things here at home, may they all be able to join us soon!

Enjoying hotdogs, watermelon, homemade ice-cream, fireworks against the night sky, joy in childrens faces, flags flying high, sleeping in safety at night, homemade potato salad, calls from loved ones, laughing through the tough times together......
holy experience

Friday, July 2, 2010


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

I was convicted this morning as I drove to work. I said things about two people last night in conversation that I never should have said. Comments flung out as added commentaries to the story that was being told. Words that didn't portray them in the best light. It's not that I said anything untrue, or horribly bad. It just that what I said wasn't neccessary, or edifying.

I once shed tears with both of these people. I still pray for them regularly. But at the moment I said those words, I let God down.

I let myself down...
I let those present down....
And I let the ones I talked about down.....

Forgive me Lord. For not loving with my words.

Forgive me for letting my tongue fly carelessly. Help me to see that harmless little comments aren't ever harmless, not if it puts others down. Help me to lift You up in my conversations by using words that build up.

Thank you for this reminder. The two people I talked about have many good and wonderful characteristics and it would have been just as easy to say something kind. Next time help me to remember this and do just that. In Your precious name, Amen.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Ephesians 4:29,30

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thoughts in the silence

I heard a song lyric that said.....all of creation knows Your name.
It made me want to sit in the silence for awhile, so I did.
To reflect on all that He is, and who He is to me.

On who He is in this world and the world beyond....
So big that it's hard to wrap my mind around.
Where did He come from?
When did it all's too much!
So I retreat back to the quiet corner of my mind.

I don't have to know all that, I just know that He is.
And that He is totally good, totally just, totally Holy,
and nothing happens beyond His knowledge or control....
My heart tells me, and His Spirit assures me that
He's with me.
And He will never leave....
He loves me.
I don't have to be afraid that I will pull the wrong daisy petal and it will land on "He loves me not"
It will always land on "He loves me."

And all of creation knows His name.......