Monday, November 29, 2010

A quiet knock.....

Every day, a quiet voice answers our cry , gently, persuasively, "I stand at the door and knock."

Should we tremble at these words, this voice? The Spirit that we have called for, the Spirit that saves the world, is already here, at the door, knocking, patiently waiting for us to open the door. He has been there a long time and he has not gone away. His is a very quiet voice and few hear it. The cries of the marketplace and of those who sell shoddy goods are all too loud. But the knocking goes on, despite the noise, we hear it at last. What shall we do? Who is it? Are we afraid or impatient? Perhaps we feel a little fear, lest someone undesirable is at the door, dangerous or with malignant intent. Should we open? In all this fuss, the royal visitor stands patiently, unrecognized, waiting. He knocks again, quite softly. Can you hear Him?

Detrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons, December 2nd 1928

"I stand at the door and knock." Revelation 3:20

For the first time this year, I got swept up in Black Friday mania. I didn't actually go out to a store, I shopped online. I don't really know what came over me. It swept over me like a fever. I felt myself carried along a swift tide and the waters went from calm and clear to white and churning. Part of it was because I had  a deadline. I knew I was going to head out of town and I had a list, you see......I wanted to make sure everything was done, checked off. All day I went back and forth, this site, that site, this item, that item......which was the right one, which was the better buy? Finally around 5:00 PM I made the final choice.


It wasn't a peaceful day, my peace went somewhere and I missed it. I went out to my prayer shed for just a moment that evening to say a prayer of thanks for the day, for God's mercy and His unending love and patience. Every day He knocks and waits for me........For us. I am so glad He does.

Psalm 86:15

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.Psalm 86:15

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I will be traveling today, driving one state over to see my family in California for a week. The road will look somewhat different than this, mostly desert until we get to the farmland of San Joaquin county......I will have a laptop and plan to spend some time in Panera Bread Company blogging and sipping coffee by the fire!

So, keep checking back in okay? Until then.....

The Lord bless you, and keep you;
The Lord make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace."'
So they shall invoke My name on the sons of Israel, and I
shall bless them." Numbers 6:22-27

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to all.....

Psalm 100
A psalm of thanksgiving.
 Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth!
 Worship the Lord with gladness.
Come before him, singing with joy.
 Acknowledge that the Lord is God!
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
go into his courts with praise.

Give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good.
His unfailing love continues forever,
and his faithfulness continues to each generation.
I loved this photo because I have a Mom and Dad who send me leaves in the mail........A very Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving to all, from my prayer closet to yours......
image from photobucket

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Count it all joy......

God always answers prayer, sometimes the answer is silence......

Ever been in silence that seems so deep it almost has a volume all it's own? A snowfall comes to mind, or standing in the woods in the hush of morning, just before dawn. Ever been in the middle of some task, and God drops one of those quiet thoughts into your mind? It comes unbidden and settles softly in the space of whatever you happen to be doing. Like a gentle snowflake that lands on your palm or tongue.....we can either recieve it or brush it away. You know it, it is that still small voice of the Lord.

I got one of those yesterday. It started with a crumpled napkin. I saw it and got a flicker of a thought, lighter than a feather it came. "I should save that," I thought, as I collected it off the table......You see, when you have suffered a loss, a grief that is total and unexpected, you tend to think like that every now and then, even years later. It carves out a place, leaves a mark, changes you forever. It says, hang onto that because they might not come through the door ever again. Save that coffee cup because it was what they were using, and you may never see their face again. Not in this life anyway.....It says, keep that because she or he loved that, it was his, it was hers....A husband, a wife, a best friend, a parent, a child.

Loss carves a hole in you that you always seek to fill. But there is only One who can....

But here is what I realized yesterday, and not for the first time: I am thankful for what I have learned from my loss, because I cherish the people in my life more. I truly do know that it may be the last time I see them, this side of  Heaven anyway.......Grief teaches you to pay attention. To learn what makes the ones you love light up. Compliment them on big and small things......see what makes the life spring into their eyes and makes them walk a bit taller. Notice when they look down or troubled. Never hesitate to do these things, you will be so glad you did.

God can make something beautiful out of all our losses, whatever they may be, and once we have made it through we can be intruments of His comfort to others. In time we can rejoice. Hold fast to His hand and let him carry you into the daylight of His grace. I rejoice today because of all God has brought me through......It is Thanksgiving in the midst of everything! Or maybe in spite of everything.

I am filled with humble gratitude when I think of all the ways He has revealed Himself to me, I just can't help wanting to share it......."So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." Colossians 2:6,7
Photo of japanese maple leaf from birds and blooms dot com

Monday, November 22, 2010

God's Blueprint

Eagles in falling snow, h.d. wallpapers

Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents.
It was loaned to you by your children.
Kenyan Proverb

"If you placed all the pieces of a watch into a shoebox and shook it for ten minutes, do you believe it would shake into a functioning watch? Of course not. What if you shook it for a year? Would a functioning watch then come out of the box? Say you were able to shake it for five billion years; would you then have a functioning watch? There is no possible way for that to happen. And if it couldn't happen by chance to something relatively simple like a watch, it most certainly couldn't happen by chance to our magnificently complex universe." One Heartbeat Away, your journey into eternity by Mark Cahill

How did we get here?
What happens after we take that last breath?
What is the purpose of all this?

The Bible provides the answers and in his book, One Heartbeat Away, Mark Cahill lays it all out in a wonderfully systematic and logical way in light of what Scripture and our own universe actually tells us. Our Creator has left so many clues behind in nature itself; we have only to open our minds and hearts to see them. God has left us a blueprint to find Him in everything we see around us, and yet so many times we seek other explanations and alternatives that are grounded in theory and speculation, but not proof.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book.....

 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread its wings toward the south?
 Does the eagle soar at your command
and build its nest on high?
 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is its stronghold.
 From there it looks for food;
its eyes detect it from afar." GOD 
Job 39:26-29
Continuing the gratitude count today........snow flakes gathered on pine branches, suns rays slanting through pines, more rain in the desert, exhilaration of the trail and the view from the top, crunch of frozen leaves underfoot, nature moments that catch your breath, jumping fish in a still lake, seeing so many bald eagles in Alaska I didn't know where to aim the camera..... recognizing God's footprints in everything I see, knowing that same God wants to know me.....#549-559

holy experience

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The view from the top

The climber climbs for the joy of it, and because he believes the view from the top will be worth it. We climb too, knowing the Keeper of our steps holds our feet fast; though we slip He keeps us from falling headlong. Though the climb is strenuous and sometimes difficult He surprises us with joys unspeakable on the journey at every turn and infuses us with the hope of victory at the top where He waits...... 

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. Acts 17:24-27

There will be many people at malls in the coming weeks, and rushing too and fro on the freeways, working, eating, visiting, sleeping, and all the while there is a God who waits for them to look His way. He does not need us, but He wants us!

His heart aches for knowing that those who do know Him will not speak of Him often enough, though they know the wonderful truth, the wonderful story.......Lord, make Your Word sing in our hearts and make the melody so bright, so clear, so strong that we can no longer keep it in!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Propelled by the Spirit

"You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you." Romans 8:9-11

Yesterday I missed prayer time. Usually I start the day with a sentence prayer as I get up, and then I pray on the way to work during commute, and then sometimes I will say short prayers throughout the day, just talking to my Father about things, or at the very least, prayers of confession after I hurl bad thoughts at unsuspecting drivers who cut me off. But yesterday, I didn't really have a conscious prayer time.

I missed it.

I read a very touching poem that stayed with me all afternoon. You can read it here

Still in reflection after the poem, I walked down to our cafe here at work. My thoughts were on hungry children as I walked past bins of fruit that we get here free for the taking. I envisioned myself handing every last one to little outstretched hands. I saw the beans that collect the excess drips from the Starbucks coffee carafes, and thought of parents who would give anything for those beans to feed their families. I saw the squash that we use as ornaments on the counters. Then I went outside and fed our stray cat, one of several that our company has adopted because people carelessly dump them off in the parking lot, or move and leave them behind.....Even the cat food has more nutrition than what some kids get in a week. I was mulling it all over.....why do we have so much and they so little?

I got home. I felt the Spirit leading me out to my little prayer shed but I really wasn't in sync for it. I thought, "I usually don't pray now, this is not what I do, I am a morning prayer person. Evenings are for catching the news of the day, maybe some computer time, dinner.....but the feeling wouldn't go away. The Spirit said, go....

I went, I lit my 6 inch Christmas tree, (yes, already) and my lamp....I prayed, and I was blessed. I am so glad I did......I am glad I listened. My flesh was saying no, but the Spirit in me was saying, yes. The Spirit is always right.....thank you Lord, again.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ask, seek, knock.....

Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.
Corrie Ten Boom

He who hung the great lights and set all this in motion still has everything under control.......We get hung up on the hows and whys of everything, but there are some things we don't need to know. Even if He did supply us with the specifics they would be way beyond our grasp anyway. We like to congratulate ourselves on our own intellegence, but our knowledge next to God's is puny. We think we have everything figured out, but go outside and gaze at the harvest moon as it climbs into the sky and see if you still do......The only thing we need to know is the One who started all this. Once we know Him, the hows and whys don't really matter anymore.


“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. Matthew 7:7,8

Get close to the One who breathed into you the breath of life and you will begin to live the way you were meant to all along......

Sing the song of the morning stars and be thankful this day that you are breathing air, that you get another day to live, and wake and work. Know that any problem you have can be worked out, worked through. Hope is there as long as you have breath, and there is always more than enough hope when we know the Hope-giver.

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew {their} strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; {and} they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

A man can no more diminish God's glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, 'darkness' on the walls of his cell. C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to stay young at heart.....

Willow tree angel of the heart
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.......Proverbs 4:23

My best friend Elaine and I recently re-connected with some dear people who were some of the first that we met when we came to Arizona years ago. Ruby sold Mary Kay and I ran out of lipstick! We had an instant connection cemented by lots of laughter. I don't know why we lost touch, and it doesn't really matter. Life has a way of carrying people in different directions sometimes, but I always believe that God loves to orchestrate reunions too. What a blessing it was to find that none of us had changed much, and our hearts had not changed at all! It seemed to me like the last 8-9 years had dissolved and that we were all standing in the same spot we were when last we met.

Isn't it a blessing to have friends like that? Ron and Ruby will be the first to tell you that "old age ain't for sissies." They have had their share of health problems and surgeries, but they have retained the secret of youth. Laughter, their love for the Lord and each other, staying in the Word, (both are leading Bible studies), keeping up on current events, watching the Pastor's  four children and learning new things. Most importantly they have not forgotten how to laugh at themselves! They don't allow their own problems to consume them, but realize the importance of listening to others concerns and joys.

Their home is strewn with signs of life, children's toys, open Bibles on the table, books with markers in them, paintings and new photos on the walls and cookies in the jar. Even though they are in their seventies and probably have many aches and pains, they dress sharp and they stay positive. They know the Source of hope! Theirs is a home full of life, a house of hope. A place where you want to take off your shoes and stay awhile. They have figured out the secret of staying young at heart. We all know youth won't last, but our hearts can stay young forever. That is something we have control over!

Have you ever visited a home and a people that have given up? You can't wait to get out the door!

What a blessing it is to re-connect with old friends, and what a blessing to find that all the important things have not changed; for it is the Spirit of God that draws us together. No matter what our age, background, cultural differences, the Spirit of love binds our hearts and dissolves the differences that the world wants to put between us so many times. We have become a society that seeks to separate.....Sometimes we separate ourselves, and that is never good. There is so much we can all learn from each other at every age!

Thank you God for bringing us back together with our special friends at just the right time..........and thank you for the magic of laughter, which came just as easy as it ever did to us all, even after years apart, what a blessing!

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:1,2
"You will not find a soul mate in the quiet of your room. You must go to a noisy place and look in the quiet corners." Robert Brault

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Opera Company of Philadelphia "Hallelujah!" Random Act of Culture

Saw this today on another blog and I just had to pass it on......all I can say is, there is hope! Jesus is Lord, even in the Mall! Amen....

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Rational Response

Faith is a rational response to the evidence of God's self revelation in nature, human history, the Scriptures, and His resurrected Son. W. Bingham Hunter, "The God Who Hears."

In my reading of Scripture today about Jesus resurrection I was thinking about how people want proof that God is real, proof that the Bible is real, proof that Jesus really was raised from the dead. If they only had "proof" they say, then they would believe. Yet there was proof. Is proof:

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1:19,20

All the evidence is in.......Jesus was seen by hundreds of eyewitnesses after the resurrection. Nobody ever denied that the tomb was empty, but instead they offered up different theories as to why it was His very resurrection from the dead, He proved that everything He said was true. Mary was the first to see the empty tomb, then she ran to tell the disciples. Peter and another disciple ran to the tomb and saw it empty......."Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying." John 20:8-10 

But Mary stayed behind at the tomb and Jesus appeared to her......... John 20:11-16

He is a rewarder of all who seek Him.

"A man rejects God neither because of intellectual demands nor because of the scarcity of evidence. A man rejects God because of a moral resistance that refuses to admit his need for God." Ravi Zacharias

Continuing my gratitude count today, gratitude that God has left so much evidence around us.....He wants so very much for us to find Him, to know Him......Thankful today for the endless traces of His presence.....Just enough oxygen for us to breathe, just enough warmth from the sun, just enough heartbeats to keep us going, just the right amount of blood that pumps through, carrying life......shelter from the elements.....laughter to give us hope, just enough gravity to keep our feet on the ground and keep us from spinning off the planet, enough wind to make us wonder.....enough faith and joy to keep us from giving up, and more than enough love to save us, even when we don't deserve it.....#538-548

holy experience

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Redeemer Lives

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. Job 1:25

The reason why Job could go through everything he did and still rejoice in His God means that we can too. He was able to rejoice because we serve a God who is very much alive......He is fighting for you today.

This lesson was brought home again to me in prayer this morning. I went out, my prayer journal and Bible in hand, lit my candle, sat down ready to hear from God in the silence, except I didn't hear silence, I heard the hum of construction. It may as well have been as loud as a set of drums. It was all I could hear.

Then I decided to write a prayer in my prayer book. This is as far as I got before my penlight went out......"I am standing in prayer for Elaine today......." No more light. So I said the rest of the prayer for her. I felt the particular helplessness of knowing that my best friend is in a pit slugging it out with the enemy and wanting to help her out of it. The best way is prayer.....

But the hum was so distracting. I decided to go and get my head phones. I could still hear the construction hum so I put a song on. This is where God was leading me all along.

Nicole C. Mullen singing, Redeemer

The message was heard loud and clear..........

Who taught the sun where to stand in the morning?
and Who told the ocean you can only come this far?
and Who showed the moon where to hide 'til evening?
Whose words alone can catch a falling star?
Well I know my Redeemer lives
I know my Redeemer lives:
Let all creations testify
Let this, life within me cry
I know my Redeemer lives, yeah.

Tears came.......He has already given us the victory by raising from the grave, thank you Lord, how could I ever forget, even momentarily.....My prayer this morning was answered.....

After I heard the song, I went out and saw an impossibly bright star toward the Superstition Mountains....."He who has named all the stars and hung them in space has the power to bring us through.....thank you Lord! I rejoice in God my savior this morning.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

When you know you shouldn't

"Chuckles the clown bites the dust" courtesy of Google
There are few things in life more uncomfortable than being in a place where you know you shouldn't laugh but you cave in under the excruciating pressure due to circumstances beyond your control. You feel it building inside you like a dam ready to burst forth, and worse, you are with someone whom you know beyond a shadow of a doubt feels the exact same way you do. You are both losing an impossible battle.

Under most circumstances laughing at a funeral would be totally inappropriate. However, certain events I have heard about would render it almost impossible not to. Those who remember the Mary Tyler Moore episode where Chuckles the Clown expires portray perfectly that particular kind of agony. Throughout the show Mary is astounded and disgusted with her co-worker's insensitivity for making all kinds of jokes at Chuckles' expense, however, when the priest starts the eulogy describing all of Chuckles the Clown's characters, she loses it. The resulting show was one of the most highly rated, most famous and in my view most hysterical episodes ever.

There are a few moments I have heard about in my family and among friends where I can only thank God that I was not there. I'm sure I would not have been able to handle the pressure. In both cases, each were wonderful people who no doubt would have seen the humor in it.

"It was a dark and stormy night....." sounds like something straight out of a Hitchcock movie, but it describes my Great-grandmother's funeral. My Mom and Dad went to the funeral home to meet with the director who was right out of Central Casting, complete with ill-fitting black suit and dandruff like snow-drifts on his shoulders, and whiskey breath. They were led down catacombs of hallway to a stuffy back room where they sat and went over the service with Mr.Dandruff and his assistant. As lightning flickered the already dim lights, and thunder crashed outside, all they kept hearing was, "Don't worry, everything is paid for!" They should have worried.

The funeral was held in a very old building on Pine Street that could have been a stand-in for the Bates Motel or a sanitarium. Flower arrangements were plastic, and very faded. The only saving grace was that a very nice minister showed up and did a wonderful eulogy. If he hadn't they would have had Mr.Whiskey breath. By then, however, it was too late, the damage had already been done by a trio of singers. They lost control when the warm up started, which everyone in the service could hear. No amount of warming-up could have helped them. Now, my Dad had specified "no singers" but some well wishers no doubt wanted to make a contribution to honor my Great-grandmother. Whoever told them they could sing was badly mistaken.

After the very nice Pastor was done, they gave a huge sigh of relief, thinking it was all over, however, the singers were not done and they proceeded to start warming up again. Mom and Dad were front and center and in full view of everyone. The bench was shaking so hard from them trying to stifle their laughter that the faded pot of flowers threatened to topple over, and my Mom bit the side of her mouth until it bled. She says it was excruciating.

I also knew someone pulling a casket with a team of horses, when they hit a bump and the casket slid out of the wagon and the body came out. They were so mortified they kept right on driving! Tragic, no doubt, for the horrified onlookers and family members who hopefully were waiting somewhere out of sight of the carriage.

The last instance was a couple days ago. My Mom had an elderly friend who had survived the death of a husband and two grown sons before she passed on herself. She was known for telling jokes to anyone and everyone who would listen. She loved God and was a blessing to all who knew her. Even lying in the stretcher on the way to the hospital she told a joke to the paramedic. That was just how she was. My Mom attended the service with a friend of ours who also has a very healthy if slightly bent sense of humor. Everything was going along fine, again, until the singing started. They handed out the words to every song which made it worse, they knew just how many excruciating verses were left to be mangled. They were trying to harmonize, but as my friend said, "They should have stuck to the melody and gotten that right."

Bless their hearts, I am sure they meant well.

As for Doris, she is now telling her jokes to the Angels in Heaven, finally home with her loved ones once more......

Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief. Proverbs 14:13

Disclaimer: I know there are certain instances where laughter is never appropriate, but I think that life is tough and we need to find humor in situations whenever possible. It is how I have gotten through my own grief. I sincerely hope I didn't offend anyone with the subject matter. Lori

Friday, November 12, 2010

Rhythms of life.....

Greer, Arizona
Ah......Finally there is a chance to "feel" Fall. Crisp days and cold clear nights are something we wait for anxiously here in our part of Arizona. While most of the U.S. is dealing with their first snow storms and freezes, we are feeling like October in November. Finally I am getting in the mood for pumpkin pie and chili, and Christmas baking, and warm fires. It's funny how even though you move away from a place, that place stays with you. I am remembering Northern California and stacking wood with my Dad and sitting on the floor cracking walnuts with my Mom, getting the worn flannel shirt out of the closet for the first time. Endless leaves in profusions of color, wet and soggy from the rain, sticking to everything they touched. Bach's concerto number 3......which to me only and always means fall.

When I moved here I thought that maybe I would lose the rhythm of the seasons entirely. But I have been here for years, and I have noticed that a pattern of seasons all its own emerged anyway. Fall here means something a bit different than what I grew up with. It means sowing the winter rye if you have lawn, and buying flowers you can't grow in summer.....There is a rhythm, really, to the whole universe wherever we are, we carry it with us. It's a part of Gods grand design. There is a steadiness to dawn and dusk, summer and winter......reassurance that all will go on as it has before.

Since I started having a regular morning prayer time, I have noticed a pattern emerge within myself. It feels steady, and's as if I am mirroring the bigger pattern that is happening all around me. It's a way of setting things right in my own world, or rather, laying everything at God's feet once again, my small offering of praise.

Tlaquepaque Chapel, Sedona Arizona

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Marching orders......

I would like to wish all veterans past, present, and future a blessed Veteran's Day, we love you and we appreciate your sacrifices to preserve our freedom and protect us all.....We thank you, our prayers are with you!

Really, we are all fighting in a war of some kind or other. No one has to tell you that, we all feel it. The Bible compares the Christian life to a war, and a race. Nobody goes to fight a battle without a battle plan, or a directive, some marching orders. Jesus said right before He went to the cross in His agonizing prayer in the garden, "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do." He knew that the war was almost won....

He gave us our marching orders too. How many times I have struggled and asked God for that one definitive thing in my life that He wants me to do, and yet all I have to do is open the Bible and it is laid out plain and simple. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

And then there is this......

"Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:34-36

Sometimes I remind myself of my little cat. If he sees a bird outside or hears a strange noise, he won't go directly to the source right away. He will walk all around the perimeter of the room until he gets right underneath it then he slowly raises up and sets his sights on it. He really thinks he is sneaking up on it, and it's kind of comical to watch. But really it's quite smart. This approach works when you are entering into battle, but not when you are skirting what God is telling you to do.

I go round and round, trying to figure out a less painless way to do what God tells me plainly to do in Scripture.....Asking God for His will for my life when He has already given me my marching orders! I look for a way involving less sacrifice or even no sacrifice, going for that other angle instead of the direct route of going head first into the battle.

Jesus last words before He ascended into Heaven gives us no doubt what we are to do:
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." Matthew 28:19

 "Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Matthew 25:34-36

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Making a dent in eternity

When the New Testament speaks of God’s kingdom it never, ever, refers to heaven pure and simple. It always refers to God’s kingdom coming on earth as in heaven, as Jesus himself taught us to pray. We have slipped into the easygoing language of ‘the kingdom of heaven’ in the sense of God’s kingdom being ‘heaven’, but the early church never spoke like that. The point about heaven is that heaven is the control room for earth. Heaven is the CEO’s office from which earth is run – or it’s supposed to be, which is why we’re told to pray for that to become a reality. And the point of the Ascension, paradoxically in terms of the ways in which generations of western Christians have seen it, is that this is the moment when that prayer is gloriously answered. N.T. Wright

I had a thought yesterday that has imbedded itself and I can't let it go. It is that our prayers make a difference for eternity. When we pray we make a connection between Heaven and Earth. Our words are not just going into the air, they are going to the very throne of God. I think we will be surprised to find that when we get to Heaven, every prayer we ever prayed has preceeded us there. Every prayer gathering we ever attended, every desperate cry in the middle of the night, every anthem of praise lifted up in the early hours of the morning, every single one is counted, heard, considered and cherished by the God who never slumbers nor sleeps. The Bible says the prayer of a righteous man availeth much, not just a little!

I had noticed a shift in my prayer life over the past week or so. Some feelings crept in unannounced, and before I knew what was happening, they had crowded out my prayers! I have been hard on myself..... tallying up the things I have not done for Him, and disregarding everything else. What I was essentially saying was, "God I know I am not doing this, this, and this for you, so I don't think I am worthy enough for You to hear my prayers. Of course I am unworthy, but I rest in the One who is!

Forgive me God, for withholding my prayers, for though I was praying with my lips, I was condemning myself with my own feelings of unworthiness in my heart..... I don't have to measure up to my own or anyone else's standards in order for You to hear me when I pray, I can rest in your Son alone and his total and complete work of restoration on the cross! Thank you, Lord for getting me on the right track again and for reminding me that when I pray, I really am making a dent in Heaven.

Thy kingdom come, thy willl be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.....

Photo of C.S. Lewis prayer closet taken from the movie, "Shadowlands"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lauryn's Angel

Angel by Lauryn
"Do you hear what these children are saying?" they asked him. "Yes," replied Jesus, "have you never read, "'From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise'?" Matthew 21:16

This drawing may be a bit hard to see, but I had to post it today. My niece Lauryn drew this on the back of her big sister's homework. They posted it on Facebook and it was a great way to start my day! Lauryn is a very late talker and has some of the characteristics of Autism. She is extremely engaged with those she is close to and very demonstrative now at aged 7. She is using new phrases all the time and I think she is extremely aware of everything going on around her. She is so very precious to me and I can't wait to see her at the end of the month.

I was reminded of these verses when I saw it:

"And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. Matthew 18:3-5

I love how Jesus lifted the status of people, especially those who were considered on the lower rungs of society.....the poor, the lowly, the weak, the sick.....and of course women and children, wherever He went.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. Matthew 18:10,11

I am so proud of you Lauryn, for all you have accomplished in your little life, we all love you! I just know that you spoke to the Angels before you spoke to any of us.....

Monday, November 8, 2010

He's listening......

When I am tempted to complain about God's lack of presence, I remind myself that God has much more reason to complain about my lack of presence. I reserve a few minutes a day for God, but how many times do I drown out or ignore the quiet voice that speaks to my conscience and my life? "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock," have become familiar words from Revelation, often stretched into an evangelistic message. But Jesus addressed those words to a church full of believers. How many times have I failed to hear the soft knock on the door and thus missed God's invitation. Philip Yancey, "Prayer"

For as long as I can I remember prayer has been a part of my life. Kneeling by my bed as early as 7 or 8 years old I don't recall what I prayed for, but I do remember having the assurance that God heard me. This is one area where I have not wavered in my faith. I consider it a tremendous gift from God and it humbles me greatly because I know it isn't anything I did on my own, but only possible through the power of His grace and mercy.

There are other areas, however, I continue to struggle with greatly such as fear. Right alongside the faith that He hears, is the fear that has nipped at my heels constantly throughout my life. We all have different gifts and different weaknesses. Some struggle with severe doubt that God hears their prayers and some like me struggle with the fear of failure, of not measuring up. Whatever our particular weakness is, we know that the root cause is lack of faith. How do we get that faith? One way that helps me by hearing the word of God.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

There are many things we can hear that stir our fears up but a study diet of the Word causes us to rest in Him who has all things under control, even when it seems that chaos reigns all around us. In a way, I am grateful for my fears because they have made me cling to God more than someone with loads of self-confidence. If you have doubts today, I would encourage you to keep on praying, keep on believing. Know that He hears you in spite of our weaknesses. Even the Apostle Paul was not exempt:  

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

We can also be comforted knowing Jesus is praying for us too! "My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." John 17:20

Here is a question, is hope that He hears our prayers enough even when our faith is weak?

I think of all the ways prayer has changed me over the years, growing my patience, bringing me closer to the Lord and to other people, causing my faith to increase, and helping others not lose heart, for these reasons and others I continue my count of blessings today......a Mom who taught me the importance of prayer, Sunday school teachers and others who planted seeds in my early life and sacrificed their time for me, friends who were role-models of prayer, and a Dad who became a man of prayer through my Mom's prayers, a very best friend who shares my faith as we share our doubts and fears together in prayer......And God who is always listening....#527-537

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Everything is a bright miracle

The footprints of God are everywhere about us. And while we can't see Him, we can see His luminous trail like a bird that sings while hidden in a tree. As Middleton said, "The bird sings darkling." We can't see the bird, but we can hear her sing. God sings among His branches and sings in His universe. You and I cannot gaze upon Him, for no man can see God and  live. But we can hear Him sing His song of redemption. And we can feel the pressure of His breath upon us as we move through the world. We'll never see things rightly till we see them as the garments of God. A.W. Tozer

Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. Psalm 72:19
Photo credits: Google images

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Final thoughts on "Radical"

You and I stand on the porch of eternity. Both of us will soon stand before God to give an account for our stewardship of the time, the resources, the gifts, and ultimately the gospel he has entrusted to us. When that day comes, I am convinced we will not wish we had given more of ourselves to living the American dream. We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of the world.  David Platt, "Radical"

I am very glad I read this book, I think. I say I think because I found certain parts about it unsettling. I was confronted with some things about myself that made me uncomfortable and that is not a bad thing. Any time you read a book and find yourself wanting to dive into Scripture and re-read verses you have read almost all your life I think it's good. David Platt puts a spotlight behind the words of Jesus in such a way that we can no longer brush them off or explain them away and skip merrily on to the next verse. You know, the warm fuzzy verses that tell you how much God loves you. He does love us, and if we know Him, then He already has us. But there is a vast and lonely world out there that does not know Him, has never heard the Gospel, who are hungry and thirsty and sick, and may not make it through the day. God is asking.......what are you, my church, going to do about it?

God has entrusted the church with the awesome responsibility of taking His good news to everyone else on the planet, with getting it to them before they die. It is a life and death message, and its an urgent one. It won't happen by any kind of magic osmosis. It won't necessarily happen fast, and it may take some time. By investing in relationships long term.

I came away from this book with a deeper understanding of just how much God really does love the world. He would do anything to save it, but would we? Would we be willing to sacrifice our lives to save them? Does God expect this of us? Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. Luke 9:23, 24

What are we clinging to so tightly that we wouldn't give up for Him? There are testimonies in this book that tell of people, despite great fear and trepidation, trading in their old lives of stress and endless accumulation, only to find that He was right there waiting to bless them with something far better than anything they ever had before! The inexpressible and glorious joy that God meant for us to have all along.

I found myself questioning my giving. Do I give sacrificially or out of my excess? Do I give away what I don't want anyway, and write a check to a charity so I can sleep better at night?  How much does God expect? I always felt so bad for the rich young ruler who comes to Jesus and left with such sadness, but for the first time I was confronted by the fact that there is a bit of the rich young ruler in myself. Maybe much more than I care to admit.

What happens when the church starts to look so much like the world you can no longer tell the two apart? Does the world dislike us? Why should it when there is little or no distinction between us, when the church is seeking and striving after all the same things the world does?

If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. John 15:19

Why would God send His people to a place where sharing the gospel means certain death or imprisonment? Doesn't He want us safe? What about people who have never heard the gospel? If they have never heard it then won't they get a "go directly to Heaven pass?" But as I read, I kept thinking of Jesus words....."I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds." John 12:24  I don't think He was just talking about Himself.

These are some of the questions addressed in the book and I think they are valid questions. The fact that this book was on the New York times bestseller list makes me believe that many in the American church believe that something does needs to change. I have heard and read many testimonies of people who have not been afraid to look into their hearts and ask themselves the hard questions. People who felt the Spirit lay a burden on their heart to make a drastic change, to sacrifice for the good of others. I think of successful author Lisa Samson. After a missions trip, she and her husband sold their luxurious home in the suburbs and moved to the inner city to minister to the poor. She now feels blessed beyond measure.

Having said that, this is not a book meant to indict the rich, but to encourage those who have much to turn around and bless others to the glory of God. It is also not a book that says that you have to sell all you have in order to be saved.

The conclusion of the book left me with a choice and a challenge. I thought about pretending I had never read it because now I feel a response is necessary. I am grateful for it, because there are some things I needed to question. Despite how sobering I sometimes found the book, at the end I experienced something that was totally unexpected, a kind of wild exultant joy. I couldn't help but be captivated by thinking how it would be to enter into that life of radical faith and see what God could do through little scaredy-cat me.

I leave this book with my faith strengthened and I find comfort in the words of Peter after some of the disciples took off and Jesus asked if he wanted to leave too "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." Peter knew that whatever he had to go through, living without Christ was unthinkable. I am going forward with an open and prayerful heart and I am thankful that David Platt had the courage to write it.

If any of you have read the book I would be interested to see what you thought about it!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Slowing things down......

Our lives are frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.....Henry David Thoreau

Where did October go? One of my favorite months of the year and it was gone before I could turn around. They have started the warmup and it is working it's way to a fever pitch......It starts earlier and earlier each year. The advertisements pitching their stuff. Better stuff than last year, faster stuff, smarter stuff, more clever stuff, but stuff all the same. I have nothing against stuff, but it is the way they assault us with it that bothers me, and the fact that they use Christmas to do it. It makes me want to say......STOP! Even before it starts.

I am putting the breaks on right now. I will think, dream and pray about Advent and what it means. I will pretend I am in a cabin in the woods, alongside my stack of books and journal, watching multicolored leaves twirling outside the window. And hoping against hope for snow. Mentally I can do this. I will also not berate myself for being behind on Christmas baking. I will conciously make a decision to take pressure off, not put it on. I will look forward to the turkey and not get distracted by what comes after.

I will do some things for others.....Most of all I will enjoy these fleeting months, because they will never come again just this way. I will praise the Lord for all He has gotten us through this year, and know He will still be there at the beginning of the next.

I saw two shooting stars yesterday, ever seen two in one day?

I should finish "Radical" today so tomorrow or the next day I will post some concluding thoughts.....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Further thoughts on "Radical"

“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Luke 13:24

Some statements Jesus made trouble me. I always find myself asking, "Am I one of those people He was talking about?"  I think it is healthy to evaluate our Christian walk, in fact the Bible says that we are to watch our life and doctrine closely. It is easy to get off track, to believe something you have heard all your life from the pulpit, especially when it makes you rest a little easier in the pew, so to speak. Now that I am halfway through David Platt's book Radical, I can say that this book has challenged me in a very personal way. I have found myself sitting in silence at odd moments more than a few times ever since I started it.

Beyond just taking an uncompromising look at some areas where the American church has fallen short, he gently points the way back to his own shortcomings as a Pastor and church leader. Ultimately, and more importantly, he invites us to take another look at the words of Jesus. It is not a book that has made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and yet it has made me feel, in a deeper way, just how radically God loves the world and to what length He is willing to go to reach it. Not only that, He wants every follower of Christ to have that same love and be willing to take some personal risks in reaching that world, whether it be across the street or across the globe.

I have questioned anew some things that I have heard in church that don't match up with Jesus last command just before He ascended back to Heaven......."Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19,20

We can say that we are not called to do this thing or that thing, but isn't that really our way of saying we don't feel comfortable doing it? These are the questions I have been asking myself. I believe there are people anointed to teach and preach and who are gifted in certain areas as the Bible says, but not one of the disciples was exempt from spreading the Gospel and making more disciples. In Jesus great commission to us all, He doesn't say "If you are called you are to do these things, if we belong to Him, then we have already been called.

That challenge still stands, and in this book David Platt echoes it as he invites himself and his church as well as you and I to go forth in a new adventure with God, no holds barred. I am looking forward to what the next half brings.....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What does it mean to follow Jesus?

"In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:33

Consider the cost when Christians ignore Jesus' commands to sell their possessions and give to the poor and instead choose to spend their resources on better comforts, larger homes, nicer cars, and more stuff. Consider the cost when these Christians gather in churches and choose to spend millions of dollars on nice buildings to drive up to, cushioned chairs to sit in, and endless programs to enjoy for themselves. Consider the cost for the starving multitudes who sit outside the gates of contemporary Christian affluence.

David Platt, "Radical" Taking back your faith from the American Dream

I started reading this book last night, and all other books immediately went on hold. In the first Chapter we get an eye-opening glimpse into the underground church in Asia, where believers are indeed losing all for the sake of following Christ. In this book, David Platt raises a challenge to the American church today. He asks: "Do you and I believe Him enough to obey him and to follow him wherever he leads, even when the crowds in our culture--and maybe in our churches--turn the other way?"

This book has already driven me back, with a prayerful heart, to the words of Jesus, and what it really means to "pick up my cross" and follow Him. I have a feeling this will be an interesting journey and maybe a troubling one as well.....

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Wildness of God

"There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 1:6-9

There is an unsolicitious and ungenteel quality about the desert Christians that makes them especially attractive in our current climate of sentimentalized, "feel good" spirituality.......The desert, as a place where one expects nothing, becomes the source of the hauntingly unexpected: this unpredictability formed the robust spirituality of the desert monks.

Not surprisingly, their God was no different from their place. Theirs was not, as John Crowe Ransom once described, a "God without thunder," having been thoroughly housebroken and made presentable to the cultural elite of the day. Their God remained mystery--feared certainly, and much loved, but never understood.  Belden C. Lane, The Solace of Fierce Landscapes

Nature is wild and mirrors something of God because we can't control it. I think that is why we are so attracted to it. We must also realize that we need to have a bit of healthy respect for it as well. The desert I live in has been tamed, groomed to be fit for humans. We have lawns, watering systems, good roads, every convenience we could ever want. It resembles little of the barren and empty place it started out. And yet, just on the edge of where I live is a vast and lonely place where coyotes cry and desert critters thrive and survive....God has taught them how. He will speak to us in this place if we are quiet and still enough to listen. I have heard, when I get away from the freeway, the traffic, the noise that people make, when I close my eyes I can hear the voice of one crying in the wilderness carried across the desert winds.....

"Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough places smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation." Luke Chapter 3: 4-6

Continuing to count blessings today and show gratitude for all the ones who went before to show me God's ways......Sunday school teachers who volunteered their time. People who took an interest and answered questions I had. Parents who showed me God through nature and through their lives, and through the Word. Friends who have prayed with me through the years. Countless Pastors, Pastor's wives who have faithfully preached in season and out of season. Bible study leaders who open their homes and their hearts. The Holy Spirit, teacher of all truth. Bloggers who write what God has layed on their hearts to share. #517-526

"In God's wildness lies the hope of the world." John Muir

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