Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thoughts on a Sunday Morning.......

Now the tax collectors and "sinners" were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, "This man welcomes sinners and eats with them." Luke 15: 1,2

Jesus knew that they were muttering, and He knew just what they were muttering about......then knowing full well they were hanging on His every word (they couldn't help themselves) He zings them with the parable about the lost sheep. Luke 15: 3-7

I wish I could have seen their reactions......I was reflecting on how He must think of how we sometimes "do church." Let me rephrase that, how I do church. I imagine Him answering the question much like this.

"If it doesn't change your life, make you go out into my world and seek my lost sheep, do the work I sent you to do, then what good is it? I have plenty of people and angels to praise Me right here in Heaven. There is a whole world out there that needs saving, that is broken, hungry, cold, needs shelter, needs to see my Light in you.......Love them as I have loved you."

I am thinking of happy memories today, grateful for a Baptist mother who wasn't afraid to let us enjoy the fun parts of Halloween. My Dad came to the Lord later in life and after he did we still enjoyed dressing up and setting up the "spook" in the hall every Halloween. I can never pass a Halloween day without thinking of all of his grand costume ideas, and us carving pumpkins together on a crisp fall day. I just called him to reminisce and laugh about our memories and he told me that there was what was supposed to be a small event for Halloween that quickly turned into 400 people parading through the streets dressed in all manner of evil costumes. It is sad that something so innocent has turned into what it is now for some.....Lady Gaga dressed as meat. What next?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Celebrating the ways we are the same.....

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 1 Corinthians 11:17-19

There was division in the early church, just as today. We are still getting caught up in our differences centuries later. When Yeshua walked this earth He saw a people scattered and broken, sheep without a shepherd He called them. With one act at the end of His earthly life, He made a way for us to be perfectly unified. The cross permanently bridged the gap for all time.

Today it is all about "celebrating our differences." Has it helped us? It is certainly good to acknowledge our differences, but I think if we do nothing but highlight them, it only acts to draw us further apart. To me it is healthier to celebrate the ways we are the same, and that goes for the church as well. So many denominations, so many walls that separate....and yet, these are familiar words to everyone in the Christian church, whatever the denomination.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,

the Maker of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell. [See Calvin]
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead........

In many ways, we humans like to junk things up with religiosity and intellect. We have been doing it forever, and certainly when Jesus walked the earth we were. That is the one thing He so laboriously fought against. It is not about what we do or how we do it, it is what He did for us. When He said, it is finished, He meant it!
In Heaven there will be no segregation.....

And every time I am worshipping in a church service, grabbing hands across the aisles, seeing black, white, brown, crying the same tears, praying for each others needs, loving each other, I know.....

The Kingdom of Heaven is in deed, at hand!  

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, "Do not go beyond what is written." Then you will not take pride in one man over against another. 1 Corinthians 4:6
Photo from Brooklyn Tabernacle website

Friday, October 29, 2010

Meeting God in the Stall

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.  ~Etty Hillesum

Sometimes you just need to get away, immediately.......I had one such moment this morning. I call it a time-out in the stall. It happens every now and then at work. I'll be cruising along multitasking and answering phones and I feel pressure under the surface, but nothing insurmountable. Then one seemingly small insignificant thing happens and I become overwhelmed by an avalanche of emotion. It's as if emotions I had been stuffing down for the past week or two, rise to the surface and I realize that I simply cannot answer one more phone call or take one more request at that moment. The small thing that happens usually doesn't have anything at all to do with what I'm feeling, but it's enough to make me realize that something is wrong and I need to......STOP immediately......and PRAY.

You Moms (or Dads) raising young kids or teenagers can probably relate to this at home all day. You dream of escape, for just one moment of silence, peace. Of experiencing the unbelievable luxury of being able to lock yourself in without someone banging on the door.

Long ago when I used to go to my Aunt and Uncle's to stay, my cousins would invariably play one of their favorite tricks on my Aunt. One of them was rigging up her cigarettes with explosives. Awful kids that we were, we would wait until she took her morning break in the bathroom, and then wait by the closed door until we heard the hiss of the match on those Lucky Strikes she always smoked....then, BAM! We would laugh uproariously and wait for the the expletive that usually came after. She never did kill us for that, though she always threatened to. She was truly a saint.....She had five kids, lived with an alcoholic husband for many years, and was always upbeat and good for a laugh, even if it was at her expense.  She needed alone time in the bathroom more than anyone.

Sometimes we all do......

This morning, He met me in the stall once again. I ran in, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and prayed. I felt better.......I'm glad there is no place where He is unwilling to answer when I call.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24

What do you do to give yourself a timeout during the day, anyone?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jehovah Rapha Our Healer

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

I have had the flu for a couple days. You know the feeling, like life is going on all around you and you have stopped moving. But I knew that I would be better, at least I thought I would be better. But what about if I knew that chances were slim to none, barring a miracle, that I would get better at all....that changes things. Everytime I get sick I think of my sister in law who fought so courageously for so many days waking, working, feeling sick, and then when she could no longer work, endless rounds of chemo. She was always hopeful, always thinking of others, even to the end. She lost her battle with ovarian cancer about 12 years ago now.

Well, she lost the battle but she won the war, for she died at peace with a smile on her face. Everyone who was in the room can attest to that. She died in the arms of our Jehovah Rapha, our healer. Shortly before she passed from this life to the next, she was asking my brother about our Grandfather, who died of cancer when he was in his sixties. She had heard about him, how he loved roses, and being close to the earth, making things grow, and camping.

She asked my brother what color his roses were and he listed them all......she listened thoughfully and then  said, "He told me he liked white roses." Well, I have no Scriptural basis for this belief, but I happen to believe that there will be someone to greet us when we get to Heaven, and I think that he was probably one of the first to welcome her.....with one of Heaven's own white roses.

by the wounds of Our Great Healer, we are healed.........

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4

Photo by Kathy Roncarati
Recommended reading: (90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Coffee with God

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." Matthew 6:6

I usually go out to pray with a mug of coffee in hand. I don't think God minds, in fact I think He likes it. It is our coffee time together. I like that we can do that. I like the fact that in spite of my imperfect Christian walk, my faltering steps, He loves me and wants to hear from me. I don't think this takes away from how Holy God is. I am aware that He resides in unapproachable light, and yet here is the miraculous part, He also resides in me. Wants to reside in all of us. Maybe it seems presumptuous to think we can be that familiar with a Holy God, but it's not so surprising.....Gideon asked for a sign from God, not once but three times, Jacob refused to go unless he received a blessing. Jesus restored Peter even after he denied Him three times.....that's how much He loves us. That's how much He wants a relationship with us.

Maybe it seems irreverent that I can dare to pray while enjoying my first cup of the day, but this is part of the wild ridiculous joy of the Christian life.....that because of Jesus, we have a restored relationship with a Holy God! Father to daughter. I talk to Him about the "stuff" in my life. Anything and everything that is on my mind, even though He knows it all anyway. I think that He loves to hear it from my own lips. I think it makes Him smile.

Really that is what all children want from their parents. For them to be interested in the little things that interest them...."O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.

God is interested........that is how it all began! Once He walked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, and now He desires to walk with us.....
Photos from Google images

Monday, October 25, 2010

Let your light so shine....

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

Today in my morning devotion time I opened the Word and started to read it like any other book.  I saw the words, but not with my heart, with my eyes and my mind. I find that is the danger for me and reading plans. I am task oriented, I have an agenda, I have a list. I like to check things off, and this was one more thing I was going to check off  "my list for the day." Then the Spirit nudged He so often has to do. I should have known I could not get away with that.

I went back and I prayed for the Spirit to open my heart to those most precious words of His and I read again. This time I felt what I was reading. Sometimes I lose touch. I think, "Oh, I have read these passages so many times, I know this." And God says, "No, you don't, read it again." He is so very patient with me.

I waited for a passage to speak to me, and it didn't take long. This from Matthew 5:22. "But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell." Wow!  I immediately thought of my daily commutes on the freeway. There is certainly no lack of fools in our world today. Think of the current ledger of politicians running for office and see if a modern day equivalent of  "Thou fool" doesn't float right to the surface of your tongue. If it didn't you are a much better person than I! In fact, I was talking to my Mom just last night about "one of those fools" I didn't care for who is running for a seat in the senate.

It is so easy to get caught up in negative talk and commiserate about how bad things are in our world today, but there is still much that is good in it. The world needs our words of light. When we speak words of light into our world, it pushes the powers of hell back and brings the Kingdom of Heaven in. Conversely, when I call someone a fool, a bit of the darkness of hell flows into me. I can feel it.

I think sometimes we don't speak more positively to the people around us because we don't want to be accused of wearing rose colored glasses, or not being in touch with reality, or being a "Pollyanna." But this is not the case, we know exactly how bad things are, and just how bad they are going to get. We have read the book of Revelation!

So speak the words of light today.......we have them straight from God's Word! One of the best ways to speak light in the darkness is to count out our multitude of blessings. Today I continue the count with Ann and many windows after a long hot desert summer, fresh baked honey cookies, a few surviving petunias after the bunnies got done with them, outdoor conversation around the fire, a God who loves me more than I can imagine in spite of all my failings, flannel shirts, a little niece who went to school one more day, wind chimes accompanied by a cool breeze, no more hum of the air-conditioning, holidays that are coming, and a peaceful weekend after a difficult week! #507-516

holy experience

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Morning Prayer

Thank you Lord, for your marvelous touch the leaves with gold at the turning of the seasons. With Your every brushstroke we are reminded that Your fingertips are behind each perfect design. Thank you for being the kind of God who is willing to come down and take an active part in the lives of men and women. Thank you for not leaving us to our own self-destructive ways, instead lovingly providing us always with an escape, straight to Your arms.

"Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare." Psalm 40:5

Your thoughts were on me even before I was conceived, you were thinking of me even then! This fills me with wonder and amazement, I am silent and hold these precious thoughts in my heart today, in gratitude and thanksgiving, I lift up Your praise! For You are worthy.......

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Where do you buy books?

Tom's Used Books, Lodi California
Over at Internet Monk there was an interesting post about Christian Bookstores and this got me to thinking about bookstores in general, which is one of my favorite topics anyway. Bookstores are my all time favorite  hangouts. Recently I have re-discovered used bookstores. I love them! Some of them are musty, dusty, and cramped, and they sometimes have books piled on the floor. The reason I like them is that their inventory is always changing, you never really know what you are going to find, it's a bit like a treasure hunt. When I go back home I go to Tom's Used Books. He has been on School Street for about 25 years. There are usually a couple of cats roaming or laying around by the cash register, and the aisles are very narrow, and part of the floor feels like it's sinking. I love it.

I can disappear for hours in the aisles of a bookstore. It is my happy place. I frequent the big guys, Barnes and Noble and Borders, but I love the independant bookstores that I feel are such an important part of our community. Many of  these are going away, regrettably, although there are a few still around if you look hard enough. One of my favorite movie bookstores is the one from "You've Got Mail." If I had a fantasy job I would own that bookstore!
I have a dream of owning my own used bookstore. Everyone tells me this is a bad idea....not in this economy they say,  it would never work, what with Amazon and online sales, not to mention Kindle and Nook.(Of course I would have online sales in my store, too!) Anyway, it's a dream I can't escape. I frequently go there in my mind.

 It would be a little storefront building downtown within walking distance to everything. A little cottage would do nicely also. I already have a name picked out which I will not disclose here in case I actually do this someday.....I would sell used books with a Christian bent and also the classics, poetry, nature books, books on animals, children's books and mysteries. It would be my store and I would market and sell what I want, not what someone else tells me I must sell. I would also sell coffees, teas, and have comfy chairs and little tables by the window for reading, sipping and dreaming. And lamps that cast warm light.

I would host a weekly Bible study that people could sign up for.....I might sell a few trinkets along with the coffee and tea but not many, and of course homemade cookies, muffins and scones. I would link up with local food banks and churches to let people know how they could help out in their community. I would sell books that instruct, edify, uplift, inspire and encourage. I do like happy endings, and I don't apologize for it. I realize that in life many times there are no happy endings, that is why I like books that make me feel good at the end. 

I would have music, maybe some jazz or classical quietly in the background. At Christmas I would play the songs you don't hear too often anymore....."It Came Upon the Midnight Clear," and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." It would be a peaceful place, a quiet escape from the noisy world around us that never ceases to clamor for our attention. A small stopping point in your day, a little cozy corner where you could come visit with your neighbor and pet a cat....yes, cats are a must have for my shop.

What do you think, would you come to my shop?

I am a bit afraid for the future of bookstores. I have shopped Amazon, I know it's convenient and fast and easy, but it will never take the place of the little bookstore downtown where you can browse your Saturday away thinking of things you should be doing but putting off for just a while longer.......

What about you? Where do you buy books? What is your favorite bookstore hangout?

****Lolita disclaimer: I know this is primarily a Christian blog, but I noticed the copy of Lolita too late and didn't have time to photoshop a Bible in place of it. It is the only picture of Tom's I could find on the web! Thank you for having a sense of humor......

Friday, October 22, 2010

He will see you through

"I call on the Lord in my distress and He answers me......." Psalm 118:1

Let any words that do not encourage you upward--toward freedom from this world--be put far from you. They are shameful, they are criminal. Defend yourself from these words by being steadfast in prayer. Cry out to your God, who is your shield: Deliver my soul from treacherous tongues." Homilies on the Psalms" Augustine

My thoughts are scattered today.  I am trying to help my dear friend out of the shadows. Trying to make sense out of something that makes no sense at all. Trying to help her see daylight through a forest that refuses to yield its light. I have traveled through the shadow lands myself and that is why it is so painful to watch. I recognize the paralyzing fear that colors everything. Fear that makes it impossible to move, that makes you look forward to a day off so you can just sit alone and cry, and that makes you angry.

Angry that someone has the power to do that to throw their blackness, their lies, their misery onto you. Especially since you have cared for them, shined the light of your kindness on them for years. Angry and sad because you thought that fear was gone forever.....buried deep, resting in peace. You even had a funeral for it all those years ago, but now circumstances have pulled it up out of the grave, resurrecting old feelings.

Behind the anger, sinking like a small stone at the bottom of your heart there settles grief, for things have changed and they will not be the same again. For that, you grieve. But here is the reality that is true despite everything we feel......The fears, anger and grief were and remain buried with Christ forever. Not only were they buried for good, everything that resembles death was done away with when He rose again. No one and nothing can ever snatch that away from us. Though they are part of our reality now, they have no power over us, they can never again destroy us.

And I know one thing.......about blackness and forests and lands of shadow......they don't last forever. Mine didn't and neither will hers, or yours, or mine. I know another thing too, that my own times of darkness can help someone else out of theirs. I can say this with full confidence because I know who My deliverer is. Malachi 4:2 "But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall."

Each moment of the year has its own beauty . . . a picture which was never before and shall never be seen again.- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Miracle after the Silence......

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Luke 1:26-28

Four hundred years God has been new prophets echoing through the Temple help for Israel, only continual oppression from powerful nations around them. It must have seemed like the silence was mocking all their hopes for the future. How many years they had prayed, and waited for God to answer. A sign, any little flicker of hope, anything to grasp on to. And still, they heard nothing. But they read the words, they clung to belief. They held out. They held on.  A whisper of hope was all they had, and yet it was enough.

Then one day things started to happen.......Zechariah going into the temple one way, and coming out unable to speak, stunned at what he heard, saw. "Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth," Luke 1:11-14

He came out of the temple not able to speak, since he doubted what the Angel had said.......I wonder, in our modern reality-TV laden, overstimulated society......if Gabriel appeared would anyone notice? Would we even be able to hear him?

When you consider all these miraculous events.........A virgin bearing God's Son, a baby born filled with the Holy Spirit at birth (John), Zechariah struck dumb and they able to speak on the day of John's it any less of a miracle that we believe all these things and others don't? That is what I pondered and it greatly humbled me this morning.

Mary said yes......and it cost her, Elizabeth and Zechariah said yes and it cost them, Jesus said yes and it cost Him. John the Baptist said yes, and it cost him.Yet they were also greatly rewarded. What an unspeakable be entrusted with this most precious gift, this knowledge, this truth. God's own Spirit! The message to Mary from Gabriel is to us too, if we believe what Jesus said and have accepted Him into our lives. "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." 

He is with us!........We have this hope......the wait is over. He has come! Whatever you are going through, I pray that today you find strength and hope in this gift that God has so freely given us. Rejoice with me today in this good news which shall be for all people! Pray, and be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in many need Him today.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When you are stressed.......

"But now, this is what the Lord says...he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel; Fear not for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior....Since you are precious and honored in my sight and because I love you." Isaiah 43:1-4

Now repeat the above verses with your own name in place of "O Jacob" and "O Israel"

When we are suffering and our hearts feel overwhelmed by the pain of our circumstance, even though we know these words to be true in our minds, they don't always find their way into our hearts, where they are needed the most. What about when someone we love is suffering? We want so to comfort them, to say and do the right thing, to take the pain away, or at least help them make some sense out of it. In our haste sometimes we say the wrong things, or say nothing at all because we really and truly have not been in their shoes. We don't want to speak of something we have never experienced for fear of sounding critical or presumptious like Job's friends. Their kind of help could be included under the subtitle: "What Not to Say to a Hurting Person."

Yet in the beginning they did the best thing they could do, they surrounded Job with comfort. They wept with him....."Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." Job 2:13

Sometimes the best thing to do is to sit beside them in silence. Grasp their hand, put your arms around them. Pray with them. Pray for wisdom to give Godly advice, and wait......If you are the one hurting, know that God has not left you......How could He ever leave the one He created? Who called you by name?

God is not like your earthly father. Difficult circumstances do not mean He has failed or abandoned you. He has not left you at the school gate. God does not forget the child He made. He has not put you to one side while He is busy with other people. He is not bored with you, and He did not leave you midproject. He adores you. In fact, He promises (and God is incapable of breaking a promise) in Joshua 1:5, "I will never leave you or forsake you." Beth Redman, "God knows my Name"

I dedicate the above selection to my best friend Elaine today, who is going through a very difficult time with her Dad right now.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halleluiah Anyhow!

What I would like to be doing right now.......

What I am doing? Working. But I found a little space of time to pray, and ask for special grace for today.

 I didn't want to get up early, I wanted to stay home. I was craving a couple extra hours sleep. Last night I lost a big chunk of my tooth and also a big chuck of the bonus I just got......I watched it sprout wings and fly away. I called to get sympathy from my Mom and she laughed when I told her. But that is why I love her. She always looks at the bright side, "At least you have the money to pay for it," she said, "and a dentist you like." Okay are right.

I am thankful that I do have the money.....and the tooth (or what is left of it) does not hurt. It would be a very long weekend if it did. Then I went down to use the ATM and it was broke, so I had to get a co-worker to cover me so I could run to the bank. I was irritated at that.....but then I prayed, "Thank you God, that I have a job where I have the freedom to do this."

Halleluiah anyhow!

As I crossed the parking lot to the car, a bit peeved because I was having issues at work that needed dealing with. I heard the birds singing......I also heard my Mom's voice saying, "Lori, the birds are singing for you." She knows I love birds. Then I got emotional......I know that someday I won't be able to hear her voice. I will have to wait for Heaven.....I wanted to cry.

I got my money, and I figured that since I was out, and that it was a beautiful day, and the sun was shining......and all my co-workers are at work just like me and would also rather be home. I bought three dozen Krispy Kremes to take back. Because I have been fortunate to have been taught, to have learned along the way that if you do something for others, you will be blessed.

So I do feel better now. Everyone loved the donuts. I still have the work issues to deal with, but I have a job. And many people who love me.
And my tooth that needs fixing doesn't hurt.
And in light of eternity, all these things that I call problems are really small.
There is much to be thankful for.......

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

God is good and He is still on the throne!
Halleluiah anyhow....

Friday, October 15, 2010

Further reflections on blogging....

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." 1 Timothy 4:16

Ever since I started blogging I noticed a strange phenomenon when I am away from a computer. I really miss blogging! I am starting to say things like, "I need to blog about that!" Then when I take my laptop with me I start to look around for places with free WIFI. I have always kept journals and captured my thoughts, so this part wasn't foreign to me at all. I have always enjoyed observing people, being part of the fringe as opposed to the center of the circle and writing what I see. That wasn't what surprised me.

What did surprise me was that my blogging has actually become part of my devotional time. It has increased my prayer time too, because  from the first I wanted this blog to be a lot about Him and not much about me. I figured that would be the only way to keep my big ego out of the way! I always pray about what to post and in the seeking and asking, I come away feeling closer to Him myself. Sometimes He surprises me and gives an answer right away! Sometimes it takes longer. Sometimes I get no message at all. On those days either I don't post or I post something someone else has written. Sometimes it is good to take a rest even from something you enjoy. To go thought gathering......

Always, God is teaching me through this blog. It is humbling, so humbling. I see all the other blogs out there and sometimes I almost want to quit, thinking it's already been said by better people, better writers.....and they have said it more creatively, more skillfully.With more wisdom. But then God nudges me and I hear Him say, "You have something to say because I created only one you, and only you can say it just this particular way." Really, He is telling all of us that. So I smile, and realize there is always room for one more blog. Just like there is always room for one more good book. More words to praise Him with.

I am so thankful for this place. It is my own little corner belonging to God and to me, and to all of you!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blogging as worship?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17

The most excellent method of going to God is that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing people but purely for the love of God. We ought not to grow tired of doing little things for the love of God, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed. Brother Lawrence

Can blogging be considered worship? After doing a bit of online study about the Biblical definition of worship I came away with my head spinning. Greek and Hebrew forms of this and that, and then the meaning of our English word on top of it all, which seemed pretty flat when you compare it to the all-encompassing description I found with the Biblical Greek and Hebrew terms. Paragraphs and pages were devoted to it. My brain got tired!

I found a couple definitions online though that summed it up nicely.....
Worship is the response of grateful and humble people to the living God where submission, sacrificial service, praise, profession, testimony and gratitude are freely expressed in innumerable ways. This is a much richer concept than mere corporate singing and praise once each week for 20 minutes - an event that could occur without any actual worship going on at all. Peter Towns

“My favorite definition of WORSHIP is: "our individual and corporate response to God's revelation of Himself within the context of a covenant relationship" David Stone

Worship is a living expression of gratitude that flows as a result of experiencing the love and mercy of God in our lives. Everything we do can become a form of worship when we are lifting it up to Him as a form of praise. When we do that, we acknowledge where it came from and He gets the glory!

Even  a monotonous task can become a form of worship because when we give that task over to Him in obedience, He honors and sanctifies it.

......and here is one of the best parts, anytime we talk about God, He hears it! That includes writing about Him too....... and blogging! 

"Then those who feared the Lord talked often one to another; and the Lord listened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him of those who reverenced and worshipfully feared the Lord and who thought on His name. Malachi 3:16
Tomorrow I will have more thoughts on what blogging has done for me personally.......Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A bit of poetry today......

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— Wendell Berry
 Praise him, sun and moon,
Praise him, all you shining stars.
Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.
Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created. Psalm 148:3-5

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God in Living Color

I have always thought of Fall as nature gathering her thoughts........what a spectacle, this riotous color. God's color palette is limitless.....He does nothing in black and white.....ours is a God who does things in technicolor. And yet, He says, "You haven't seen anything yet.......look, I have saved the colors of Eden for you, the ones you left behind long ago. Now you see glimmers of that light, that dimly remembered glory of your first days, preserved in Heaven, I will restore your sight once again to see what you were meant to see all along."

But another day is coming........However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"--1 Corinthians 2:9

Eden restored......."Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. Isaiah 65:17

When I see swirling leaves of bright orange and red, there is a place in my soul that is touched deeply and  I can't help thinking that much more is going on than meets the eye, under the surface where only God can see. Fall captivates me once again with God's great and glorious imagination, and yet I can't help but wonder what He has yet to show us.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

Monday, October 11, 2010

Multitude Monday

Photo courtest of Vermont Outdoor Guide Association
I see the man of sorrows and his long troubled road
I see the world on his shoulders and my easy load…..Sara Groves, "When the Saints"

Lately I have been speculating on what it really means to follow Christ. It's a question I ask myself here in my sheltered comfortable corner of life. This is hard to put into words. I have been mulling it over for several weeks now. God has placed in my heart a question and a challenge. I have been aware of another road that is taking shape just beyond the edge of my thoughts. I see Jesus and others walking on it and I find myself wondering what my life would look like if I really stepped beyond the borders of my safe existence and said yes to giving Him everything.

For He is always asking something......I just don't always listen. I was challenged yesterday when I saw a quote from Katie's blog, in it she says,  "If we are really following Jesus, we will go to the hard places. Being a Christ follower mean being acquainted with sorrow. Because we must know sorrow to be able to fully appreciate joy. Joy costs pain, but the pain is worth it."

I have the luxury of asking the question, the ones already doing the work of Christ know they are doing what He asks, they don't need to ask the question......But asking the question is good. Just the asking takes courage sometimes. I don't believe God wants us to browbeat ourselves and render us immobile with guilt. He wants us to look in our hearts and find out what He is asking of us right now, this very moment. There is always something He is asking us to do.  Being obedient to the simple things....... Knocking on a neighbor's door, making a phone call to that person that God whispers to my spirit, driving across town to pray with a friend who is struggling.

Lord, help me right now to be obedient and open to Your Spirit. Help me never be afraid to ask the hard questions, for they can lead me closer to You. Keep my heart soft and my tongue filled with kindness and help me to see through Your eyes of compassion the needs right around me. Amen

"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Matthew 9:36-38

I continue my endless counting today, with Ann and many others..........for there is much to be thankful for today and everyday.....Your tender mercies, friendly faces that smile back, cool breezes through the window, words that inspire, joy in simple accomplishments, yellow sliver moons, purple mountains at sunset, stars that shine in the desert, groceries in the pantry, courageous people being the Hands and Feet of God all over the world, Moms that send leaves in the mail. #496-#506

holy experience

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Selection from "Lost Mission"

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither. C. S. Lewis

I felt like sharing a quote from one of my favorite fiction authors, Athol Dickson. Every book he writes is brilliant and unique. This particular selection is about a woman named Lupe who has come from her friendly but impoverished village in Mexico, and the cultural shock she encounters when she enters the U.S. A devout Christian, she believes she has recieved a call from God to save "the Anglos" and lead them to Jesus. It is a very interesting theme. He does a very good job of presenting the contrasting cultures through the eyes of Lupe and others. The small community she is from has very little in resources but is rich in many other ways, in contrast the United States in her view is impoverished in spite of all their material wealth........

When Lupe greets several people on the street and they don't respond, she is devastated. It is something she has never experienced before....Also she has just been observing a "laughing yoga" where people are faking laughter as part of therapy.

"What evil place was this, where people languished deaf to greetings, blind to neighbors, isolated in the middle of a crowd? What wicked mesmerism numbed them to the undulating glory of the sparkling sea? What devil drove them to attempt this imitation happiness, this counterfeit laughter, when the true delight of God's creation lay in all directions? Athol Dickson, Lost Mission

I recommend every one of his books......

"Holy Father," cried Lupe. "Your works are glorious, and you are beautiful beyond description!" She said it very loudly, with her face and palms raised up toward heaven. Arm in arm, a passing man and woman looked away.  Lupe, on seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalm 149:4

Friday, October 8, 2010

New every morning......

The Wilderness holds answers to more questions than we have learned to ask.......Nancy Newhall

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:21-26

On my way to work I asked the Lord what message He would have me bring today......I have had a few thoughts the last few days, things I wanted to blog about, but work has been very busy and I haven't been able to get the time. As I was praying, I felt the Spirit place this thought on my heart and then push it to the front as I was driving.  It stayed there and didn't leave, and I knew it was what the Lord gave me for this day. He kept saying to me........"New every morning."

In spite of every circumstance we go through on a day to day basis.......He always refreshes us with little joys each morning. Somehow we get strength to start all over again. The Christian life is filled with newness....because it is filled with Christ and He never gets old!  Everything in the world gets old, jobs, drinking, money, stuff, partying, drugs, even traveling gets old after awhile and you just want to stay home! Everything in this world gets old, except for Christ. He brings us that new life that He described as living water.....

I felt it this morning and it surprised me again! I put the praise songs on and started singing a bit and before I knew it, I felt that sweet refresing that only comes from the Holy Spirit. I don't know why it catches me by surprise but it always does and it shouldn't by now. I think that God likes to give us those gifts when we are least expecting them sometimes. Just like you love to surprise your kids with little gifts.....

There are things we can do to keep that grace water flowing, I find...... Listening to good praise music, staying in the Word, fellowshiping with other believers, all these things keep that wellspring of water flowing freely. And of course, sometimes God just comes in quietly and fills us with grace and peace when we least expect it too.

It is interesting when you read the verses in Lamentations all around the above verses. They are pretty bleak! But then this verse comes in......exactly what I was feeling this morning.

There are times when we feel as dry as the desert, but God has promised we will not stay that way......
that is a great hope for me today.....I praise His name!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

In the trenches of life

Tlaquepaque Chapel, Sedona Arizona
"But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love your name my rejoice in You." Psalm 5:11

This morning wasn't a calm prayer time for me......I was restless, I was worried. I was wondering why circumstances seem so hard for people who are just trying to do the right things. Why does it seem that certain people sail through life with little difficulty? If they need something done they just pay to have someone do it, with money no object they are unscathed by the things that bog the rest of us down. They don't have to mess with details, they don't lose sleep over what is not getting done because someone else is doing it.....or not. Either way, they live above the fray unaffected.  

So this prayer is for the rest of us here in the trenches of life. The ones who look around and realize they are standing alone, with no backup in sight. The ones who get robbed themselves because they are caring for others. The ones with anxious prayers like David, who was not a stranger to adversity.

He lost sleep, he was anxious, fearful, distressed and tired. But He also knew his God. He knew that his God was big enough to handle anything. He also knew that God was a refuge where he could always find shelter.

As I was reading, but mostly worrying this morning. I read these lines.....the ones that God highlighted for me, the ones where my finger stopped moving across the page.

"In the morning O Lord you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation."

I pray, but so many times I don't wait in expectation, I try to figure things out my own way. I don't wait in expectation to see what God will do, I don't even give Him the chance. I believe that is what He wanted me to see this morning. I marvel at the faith of David, a man after God's own heart. He knew how to wait the right way. 

I love how David poured out his heart to the Lord. I can always find comfort in the Psalms because I know that I can find everything there that mirrors exactly what I am feeling at any given moment!

"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" Mark 9:24
Jesus with children, Sedona Art Studio

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A New Start

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Genesis 8:22

I broke my rule of being disconnected this weekend off, what can I say? Although, WIFI being what it is, I could not post anything......On the first evening there, while eating out on a patio over-hanging the Oak Creed in Sedona, an evening thunder storm blew in. We ate to the chorus of cicadas who were heralding in the storm.....they always seem to know it before we do.

When we stepped off the curb we were treated to the most beautiful complete rainbow we had ever seen. The contrast was breaktaking. It really was one of the highlights of the whole trip. Those of you who have spent time in the desert know that rainbows don't happen all the time, except in late summer when storms come and go frequently....

This was one of those times when God says, "Hey, remember me? I am still here, and I haven't forgotten my promise. Forget all those scientific explanations on the hows and whys of rainbows, I am the God of science. Science is me playing with my chemistry set for fun!

Everyone was leaning out of car windows, out on their balconies with cameras flashing.....trying to catch God at work. I only wish I could have posted the whole thing, which my friend took and perfectly got the two shots to line up.....It refused to post side by side.

We walked back to camp in the rain.....glad to be handed such a gift as such a time when it was sorely needed......I like to think that every living thing that witnessed it, did not take it lightly but somewhere deep in their being, they remembered a covenant made by a God who loves them....

And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.  Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:12-15

"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." Genesis 8:22

Friday, October 1, 2010

Giving myself a timeout

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

Sometimes you just need a little getaway! So...... I am getting away for a couple of days to beautiful Sedona, Arizona. I may post and I may not, I have no agenda other than waking up and taking my mug of coffee to the edge of the creek and listening to all of nature that my ears can hold.

And enjoying some cooler weather.....

“Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.” 1 Peter 1: 18-21 The Message

This photo is how my mnd feels right now, looking forward to the weekend!

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26