Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Word came from his best friend that the father of that friend meant him harm. But why? What had he done to upset him? He loved him so much (as his own father) why was it not returned? Why were the feelings not mutual? His heart sank and ached a bit. What was he going to do? A pang of fear washed over him as he considered his options. If he stayed, this man was surely going to kill him. He had to leave. Even if others tried to talk him out of it, he knew of what the man was capable. Should he pack his stuff or just go and fully trust in the Lord to provide for him? Where was he going to go?

God’s people had been praying earnestly for years to be free from the oppression of Pharaoh. Their lives were made “bitter” with “hard service” relentlessly “as slaves”. They called out, desperate for God to deliver them. When Moses saw how God’s people were being treated he killed an Egyptian task master, one day, who was beating someone. When Moses heard the Pharaoh intended to have him killed, Moses fled. God, in turn, heard the cries of His people and sent Moses back to rescue them.
22Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus
Moses fought hard to free them (according to God’s instructions) then lead them out of Egypt while God went before them as a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night.

And what if, after all of that, God’s people turned around and went right back to Pharaoh?
17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. (Exodus 13:17-18. ESV.)
It sounds to me, God knows us oh too well. I notice here, too, how God did not take Pharaoh out of the equation, rather He moved all of His people out of harm’s way.

Can the same be said for us, today? Does God hear our cries for deliverance? Many times I have heard, God wants us to “change our hearts” or “Until God removes that person from your life…” Did God want the Israelites to “change their hearts” toward Pharaoh? Perhaps it depends on the situation. If it is not one where there is an issue of safety, maybe then. And, what about the Holy Spirit? The Israelites did not have the Holy Spirit at that time, but we do today. Does the Holy Spirit “change our hearts” or alert us to sin? When Moses heard Pharaoh wanted to kill him should he have stuck around and “changed his heart” toward Pharaoh? What about when David was facing Goliath? How about when David was told Saul wanted to kill him?

The body of Christ is like iron sharpening iron. We may not always understand. We might not be able to relate. But people cannot do or handle somethings on their own. David had Johnathan and
the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. (1 Samuel 18:1. ESV.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Together, they knew something was not quite right. Yet, they did not know exactly what. The feelings which built for a couple days would come to a point of explosion. There was no stopping the rage, the volcano which erupted like clockwork. It seemed there was no answer, no solution. Was this going to be forever?

The questions, maybe fear, and even a hopelessness sneak into our day to day, sometimes. Those on the outside, looking in, might find it easier to just walk away and say, “I tried. I did the best I could.” But then the one suffering is no closer to a resolution, no better off than before. He/she needs a support group…those he/she can lean on no matter how ugly it gets. (And, I have seen it get pretty horrid.) Taking a stance from a distance is understandable (especially when there is an issue of safety). No one wants to (or should be) in the direct path of a hurricane or destructive, fiery, all-consuming volcano! It takes courage, strength, wisdom, and most importantly the full armor of God!
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:10-18. ESV.)

It will most likely take a lot of adjusting and earnest, fervent prayer for answers. It may take several years and a multitude of heartbreak. Don’t give up! Look to God, seek His grace, and ask that He will make Himself fully known by you. At times He says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10.) Other times a door closes…but another will open. We do not always get what we want. Like a child asking for the desire of his/her heart…a parent will not consistently say, “Yes”. The loving father/mother can see a bigger picture which the child does not fully comprehend. Trust in the Lord.

Together, they decided to seek answers. They had already hurt a handful of people who loved them most…a few they even lost. Doubt and nervousness were present. What if there is no solution. What if it was too much for them to bare? Had the burden become too heavy for each of them? Was change going to be the less uncomfortable of the two options? There is uneasiness in the unknown.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Praising God Through Heartache

I don’t even know where to begin. Do you ever feel that way? There is so much to say yet the words won’t come. At least, when I pray, I have the Holy Spirit to intercede for me with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26).

God does not allow evil and suffering to continue because He does not love us or is in some way detached and removed from us. God takes our suffering so seriously, that He took it upon himself on the cross. - Tim Keller

There is nothing - no circumstance, no trouble, no testing - that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose, which I may not understand at the moment. But as I refuse to become panicky, as I lift up my eyes to Him and accept it as coming from the throne of God for some great purpose of blessing to my own heart, no sorrow will ever disturb me, no trial will ever disarm me, no circumstance will cause me to fret - for I shall rest in the joy of what my Lord is! - That is the rest of victory! Alan Redpath

Christ did not come to explain human suffering or to eliminate it. Rather, He came to fill suffering with His presence. Paul Cladel

I do so hope and pray that God may give you grace to exercise a faith which will humble, comfort and cheer your inmost soul. But if you cannot so believe, at least lay your hands upon your bleeding and darkened spirit, and drag it along the way of duty. Follow the Master's will, in comfort if you can, but follow it. He will bring you out into a pleasant place in His own time. - Bruce, a note to a father who lost his third son to illness

Only we who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb can both weep and laugh at the same time, and with hearts that are breaking in pieces scattered all over the floor say with sincerity and honesty that it is well with my soul.
- Gary J Oliver, who lost both his wife and his adult son within two months

through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22. ESV.)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4. ESV.)

2Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2. ESV.)

3 He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
(Isaiah 53:3. ESV.)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Lord of the Dance: Marriage

Why is it someone vows to love their spouse as they are and then spends the rest of the time trying to change him/her?

My feathers ruffled a bit and I became a tad prickly. I am not normally one to discuss marriage (because I feel so passionately about it). However, though the question was most likely posed in jest I felt it deserved a response…and one not as exasperated as I. My reply, simply stated, “Perhaps the person did not truly know his/her spouse when they married him/her.”

I shall use myself as an example. I grew up in the body of Christ. I was baptized as a teenager and my heart belonged to God (and Jesus). He was/is my everything, my all in all. The love, felt as though it was going to explode from my body which was too inadequate to house it all. Then, something horrible happened. In college I became bitter (not at God but at the world) and (foolishly) I rebelled against the One I loved the most! (It’s ridiculous! Secular Psychology might call it “displaced anger”.) I was covered in ugly, sin when I met my husband and stayed that way for a handful of years. I was, in essence, the prodigal "son". And, as with him, my Father was waiting for me at "home" (and called me back to the church). With great repentance, utter remorse, and devastating sorrow I returned, vowing never to stray again! Now, bear in mind, my husband never knew the obedient me…he only knew the rebel. This, understandably, could have been a deal breaker!

I believe Jesus meets us where we are (at the particular moment when we feel Him drawing us to Him). There is a song I love, currently, called “Come As You Are”. God’s word says we are a work in progress! (Philippians 1:6). Further, I feel spouses are like iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17). If I am up to no good, dishonoring God and not living to glorify Him…or if I sin against someone in the body, God’s word says it is the responsibility of those around me (my spouse, my family, my friends, my enemies, etc.) to set me straight (Matthew 18:15-20)…albeit very unpleasant for everyone.

Today, I see marriage as a dance. Generally, the man leads and does the lifting. If both try to lead, well, it turns out to be quite a mess...and perhaps even dangerous. Further, it is rare I see a female lift her male dance partner. Sometimes the rhythm gets lost or one is out of step and things get sketchy. Other times toes get stepped on (which is, of course, unpleasant). Every now and again, a gal might get dropped on her head. (I did, for real, have a dance partner who accidentally dropped me on my head, ONCE! I was angry. I fought back the tears as I scolded him. And, God love him, he was very apologetic…and probably a tad scared of me.) Then, there are the times when one feels he/she is a better performer than the other and actually considers (or sadder, tries) finding a new partner. The choreography is never going to be perfect! It takes an insane amount of dedication and countless hours of practice and commitment to make things look and flow beautifully. A multitude of mistakes get made and at times improvisation is necessary (especially when the judges are watching)! There are no "short cuts". There is, however, a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that goes into it. It takes years and years of practice to get the technique right. Overall, it might not be the best. Usually, there are other couples that are better, at times or even most times, that is just the way it is. But, unless you have a conceited, arrogant, selfish (or "harsh and badly behaved" (1 Samuel 25:3) or under the influence of something) partner, he/she knows your style the best. Oh yeah, and the more flexible (and trusting) you are, the better. Finally, I leave you with this:



(Most importantly, there is no better illustration of marriage than Christ and the church! Ephesians 5:22-33.)

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Oh That My Ways May Be Steadfast

The days collide together. The moments tick past. I keep telling myself it will be worth it in the end. But, I have done everything backwards and feel out of place in my own life. Then again, that might be because we are just traveling through…pilgrims…in the world but not of the world. How uncomfortable Enoch must of have been seeing as he was so close to God he did not even have to die. He just stepped into God’s presence. I have not been spending time in God’s word as I should --- as I desire to --- and I can feel it deep in my soul. I walk through a maze…but not a flat one, one that is front ways and sideways and upside down with stairs on the ceiling and walls.

I love Martin Luther’s quote,
I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.
I am overrun by the world. Sometimes I wonder if I am completely missing out on what God had planned for me. My sin and disobedience to Him threw my path in dizzying directions. Now, I am stuck. Perhaps my life has become like that of Sarah Winchester who spent 38 years building and rebuilding on a house…a Victorian mansion like a carnival “fun house”. With narrow hallways, shallow steps, a secret passage way, doors to nowhere, a staircase that was built over so now it leads to the ceiling instead of the second floor, 160 rooms covering 6 acres, 47 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, and 40 staircases. A lot of work but fruitless. I do not want my life to be fruitless.

21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.
(Proverbs 19:21. ESV.)

2Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart,…
5Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping your statutes!
6 Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
7I will praise you with an upright heart,
when I learn your righteous rules.
8I will keep your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!
(Psalm 119:2, 5-8. ESV.)
Lord, please settle my heart. Please quiet the storms in my mind. Please draw my focus back on You so I will not be mislead or wander off in the wrong direction. Please keep my path straight and my walk diligent and steadfast. Help me take every thought captive and forget that which is not important and should be forgotten. Keep my eyes on You. Please bless the way in which I should go so I can see the narrow path clearly. Thank you, Lord, for all of Your provisions and blessings. My heart is Yours, forever.

Don't forget to tell me your story!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Every day the laundry pile crept higher and higher. The house slowly became dirtier. It was not because she was not trying. She was! Each day she worked to tackle those items in addition to her day to day. Taking care of the children, cooking meals, cleaning up after the pets, working a job. But, in the eyes of some, she was failing. Yet, her best effort was being given. Taking care of a family was so much harder than just caring for herself. The house structure had its own issues. A couple of the large windows leaked. The wind blew so hard outside, gusts of dirt entered the home every time the door was opened. And then, something wonderful happened! Someone came and did all of the laundry for her! Load after load he washed. Maybe not because he wanted to, at the time, but because it would be a blessing. And, the kitchen was cleaned. Those two acts, by two very thoughtful people, made all the difference in her world during that season!

You see, acts of kindness such as those are truly loving deeds! It is NOT going into a person’s home and commenting to her about how dirty or cluttered it is. It is NOT saying “no” when she trusts you enough to risk embarrassment and (most likely as a last resort) asks for help. It is NOT calling her “lazy” or a “bad wife”. It is NOT, not talking to her in depth to maybe find the root of the issue. Why is her home so disorderly and some of her chores so neglected? Maybe her child has an illness or disability you do not know about. Perhaps someone is (or a few people are) abusing her. Perchance she, herself, has an illness or disability. It may be she is struggling with fibromyalgia, arthritis, depression, anxiety, or a condition that keeps her from getting proper rest at night leaving her exhausted. There could be a great number of reasons (NOT excuses) she is falling behind in some areas.

I do not know why but this was pressed heavily on my heart, today, and I felt compelled to write about it. The two individuals in the top paragraph did help someone by cleaning “her” kitchen and doing “her” mound of laundry. It was the greatest gift they ever could have given at that time. And, they did not even let “her” know it was them who did it! They did not do it for recognition, appreciation, or to get something in return. They did not do it begrudgingly. They did it out of the pure goodness of their heart!
3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:3-4. ESV.)
It was a random act of kindness and changed “her” life.

Friday, February 13, 2015

I Keep Hearing "Fifty Shades of Grey"

This movie has been mentioned time and again, recently, causing me to take notice. I know nothing about it. I just found out it is based on a series of "erotic novels exploring sexual domination and even violence". Thankfully, there is an article to clarify matters for me before I look into it any further. Marshall Segal of the "Desiring God" website has posted "Fifty Shades of Nay: Sin Is a Needle, Not a Toy". I have decided to share this with you incase you, like me, need more information regarding the movie (and books). Click here to read the article.

(Photo Information.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Friendship Over Distance: One Will Lift Up His Fellow

Load after load was thrust into my car. I just wanted to get it done! Piles of clothes, the kids’ toys, photographs, trinkets, all of it was just tossed willy-nilly in my 1992 Eagle Talon turbo. It took multiple trips to get everything. The furniture was loaded up in a rack truck and then sat in the rain. There had been some sort of mistake. We could not proceed forward for an hour or so. It was a disaster!

The second time was a tad better, but not much. The furniture was loaded onto a trailer and towed 31 miles. Old boxes and bins that had been in storage in the attic were stuffed into my 2005 Expedition and hubs’ 2011 Dodge Ram. Tons of stuff was given away or thrown out. Whatever was not in bins or boxes was shoved into the vehicles. It took numerous trips back and forth but we eventually got it all.

This time, will be different. We only get one shot at it and it has to be done right. Everything will be packed up appropriately and clearly labeled. This time we rent a proper moving truck. The process has already started…because it takes us a good long time to get it done (judging from past experience). And, we do not want to be stressed. Hubs will be heading out to pick a house, fill out all the paperwork, and put down a deposit. I will be tying up loose ends here. Hubs’ best friend from Texas will be coming to help us get stuff loaded up into the truck and be one of the drivers if needed.

It is all coming together nicely. The financing of the move, the timing, etc. God has given it green lights, thus far! He has gone before and paved the way like always. Further, He will continue to guide us and hopefully place a hedge of protection around us as we make our way halfway across the United States. To say I am excited is a gross understatement. I love a good adventure!

Most of the ladies from my former ladies bible study (and their families) who moved before me headed north. I (and my family) are going southeast so, sadly, I will only get to (hopefully) catch up with one of them along the way. I wish I could take my friends from California with me, physically. I will be taking them in my heart and social networks make communication easier than in past decades so I am confident we will stay in touch! Also, I will be happy to reunite with friends of mine from Florida who have since moved to Texas! It has been a LONG time!

For the most part, I love how God orchestrates things and moves us around for His glory. Sometimes (like when my former ladies bible study was spread out after years of being together) it is sad and hard to understand. But, ultimately we are to go out and “make disciples”. Not to mention, we are a family, the body of Christ, and we get to spend an eternity together…which is beyond thrilling!

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. (C.S. Lewis)

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. ESV.)

(Photo Information.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When I Look at Your Heavens, The Moon and the Stars, Which You Have Set in Place

Transit of Venus across the sun in 2004.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
File:20040608_Venus_Transit.JPG
The first real progress came in accurately measuring the size of the planet we live on. Eratosthenes did this with a dramatic application of geometric reasoning around 200 B.C. He was a researcher and librarian at the great library in Alexandria, Egypt, where books containing much of the knowledge of the ancient world were stored (http://www.teachastronomy.com/astropedia/article.aspx?qid=418)
My mind is drawn to “200 B.C.” More specifically the “B.C.” B.C. – Before Christ. And, A.D. – Anno Domini: Year of Our Lord, also enters my mind. These are used globally…in various fields. My reading, right now, is in Astronomy, and the terms are there.

Does that ever get you thinking? I am a follower of Christ, so I am honored to say, “Before Christ” or “Year of Our Lord”. How interesting it is to me these systems of measuring time have been used for so long and continue, still today, when other things like “One nation under God” and “In God we trust” have been questioned and individuals fight to remove them from our Pledge of Allegiance and money. We use Christ Jesus to measure time. He must be very important, then, right?
1For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: (Ecclesiastes 3:1. ESV.)

When did God create space? Does space take up all the emptiness that existed before the creation of the earth and heavens…
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
(Genesis 1:1-5. ESV.)
… or is it just a “buffer” or “chasm” between us and God?
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ (Luke 16:25-26. ESV.)

Growing up in the 80’s, one of my absolute favorite movies was “Space Camp”! I just bought a used copy of it online for my kiddos. I think the Little Chef will LOVE it. Like me, when I was a child, the Little Chef really wants to attend “Space Camp”. I do not even know if it still exists but I would like to look into it…though I am sure it would be crazy expensive!

3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
(Psalm 8:3-6. ESV.)

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