GOOGLE TRANSLATE

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hang Tough: There Is Someone Around the Corner Who Needs You To Be Strong

Job 8:8
[ To Hang Your Life from One Thin Thread ] "Put the question to our ancestors, study what they learned from their ancestors. For we're newcomers at this, with a lot to learn, and not too long to learn it. So why not let the ancients teach you, tell you what's what, instruct you in what they knew from experience? Can mighty pine trees grow tall without soil? Can luscious tomatoes flourish without water? Blossoming flowers look great before they're cut or picked, but without soil or water they wither more quickly than grass. That's what happens to all who forget God— all their hopes come to nothing. They hang their life from one thin thread, they hitch their fate to a spider web. One jiggle and the thread breaks, one jab and the web collapses."

We all need to be grounded in the wisdom of the ancients.  We need this solid foundation-our true north.  God is our stabilizer through his omniscience and strength that he imparts.  He develops us into solid rocks that others can cling to for encouragement when they hit bumps in the road of life.

I want to be stable and hold onto the steel-like girders that God holds out to me.  I want to help support others as they go through changes, trials, and joys.  We can be danglers as the scripture above refers to that are barely hanging on, or we can be hangers that are attached to something more stable and can be relied upon to last.




Now, "hang" with me on this one.  Let's have some fun.  Let's be interactive!!!  If you were a hanger of some sort, which kind would describe you?  Read on and comment below on which kind of hanger you are, why, or what other kinds you can add to these. I have started with a few dangling categories for you to sort yourself through.

COAT HANGER

A coat hanger is useful.  It just hangs there on a sturdy rod and allows folks to drape their clothes over it.  It is mostly hidden, but useful.  It keeps the garments in shape and wrinkle free.  I think this is either the servant type, or a passive type.  Your neighborhood watch dog in your subdivision would qualify for this.  Quiet, observant, yet you can count on them to be there.  They are non-confrontational.  They do not rust and stay in good shape: not easily corroded.  They are somewhat flexible and can be moved around, cut, bent, or tied together for different uses.  You can count on them to be there.  You can count on them to do the job.  The handy man, my husband, is always ready to fix or repair things for me.  He wants to be of help whenever the need arises.

CLIFF HANGER

A cliff hanger is on the cutting edge, ready to try anything new.  May be worn out from working, but once an exciting idea is put out there they are instantly revitalized and ready to go.  It is a person who is fearless, and who wants it all.  There are so many webinars and seminars, but this person is the visionary or the entrepreneur who dreams things up and is not afraid to believe they have invented the new next best thing.  The software and graphic designers, the seamstress, the potter, and those maniac salespeople who conquer the odds of door to door encounters with strangers each day.  Also, the life of the party who always has those creative, fun ideas.  The artistic, musician, the weaver, designer, landscaper, or architect.

AIRPLANE HANGER

The airport hanger is the protective type.  This person goes out of his or her way to look after those in their care and to nurture them.  This type of person is also the one who will come over to the neighbor's and mow their lawn when the husband is out of town or ill.  This person will look after the neighbor's children who have no supervision and give them a sandwich or milk and cookies to tide them over when they come by to play or visit.  This is also the person who will help friends patch up their relationships, bandage up hurt animals, or who may even pursue a medical career.

PIPE HANGER (at least 44 types)

If you have ever looked up at the ceiling in a house that has an unfinished basement, you have seen the hangers that hold up all the pipes.  I suppose that we have ours in the ceilings, since our pipes are up above us here in Texas.  These are people who are very encouraging, supportive, who give advice to young people getting started in life, or who are connected to people's lives such as ministers or missionaries.  Other pipe hangers would be teachers, police, firemen, military, and security personnel.  They hold our society together.  They are the invisible glue that get people to learn and stick to their boundaries, and when they don't, then they have to let the offenders feel the consequences.


This is God's plan.  Mankind reaching out to mankind.  We are it.

Stay connected to the strong foundation of God and his word.  Then holding onto him we will be the most effective in our own daily walk as well as influencing others for their good.  Be prepared for anything that comes your way.  Without a plan each day, disasters and conflicts will still arise.  Only instead of facing them in peace and confidence, they will overwhelm and defeat us.

Grab a hanger, take that shirt off of it, and remember that in life we can hang on a sturdy rod, or by a spider's thread.  The decision is made every day.  Either I will pick up the Bible, read, meditate, and pray for God's understanding and guidance daily, accept godly counsel, or I will lean and walk in my own shaky understanding and strength.

THE HANGER CHALLENGE:  Hang tough through God's knowledge, might, and His spirit every day.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I Can't Contain It

Psalm 136:1-4  

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.  His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.  His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.


I dare you to read the whole chapter of Psalm 136 out loud with out exploding!

My emotions can bubble nearly spilling over the brim... this happens with many different stimuli.  Some of them negative and some of them positive, but when I think about the Lord and his love toward me, then "my cup runneth over" for joy!  No matter what, he is worthy to be honored and lifted up on the Earth!



Monday, November 7, 2011

HERITAGE: The Wind Beneath My Wings


A Norther gently blew in this week and the temperatures have fallen drastically.  We've gone from scorching temperatures in the 100's that turned our lawns into brown shredded wheat, burned our colorful flowers, killed those evergreen shrubs that I have never seen die, and challenged walkers in the neighborhood, who scramble to find daylight hours to exercise outdoors without facing a chance of heat stroke.

Last night we turned into our subdivision, on our way home after the Saturday evening service.  We stopped to get the mail. Wisps of smoke swirled out of several nearby chimneys.  When I the car door opened, I sniffed and smelled a hint of smoke in the air. 

That cool air changed our attitudes on outdoor activities, apparel, and decorations.  It also refreshed us after the onslaught of the merciless sun a couple months before.  Funny, the effect of temperature and the the shifting of the winds.

As a child, both of my parents had a great influence on me.  My mother was soft spoken, quiet, pensive, worked hard outside the home as well as keeping the house up, cooking, and studying for more advanced degrees that led her to a job at the college library.  My father, also worked full time and also studied for one degree after another until he completed two masters and a doctorate in music.

Dad started out working on the family farm, then in construction to pay for college.  After graduation, he accepted the pastorate at a church in northern Indiana.  He had a radio broadcast in which he taught his Sunday school lesson over the waves.  He learned that many listened to it who were Sunday school teachers and used his lessons.

Later when he started teaching music, he always had a part time job either as a church soloist, or a church worship leader.  Mom, sang in choirs, played the piano, and they sang duets.  She was a pastor's wife, bookkeeper at first, a secretary, then as a professional, she worked as a catalog librarian.  She had various positions as a librarian and even designed the interior layout of a new library being built at a university in southern Michigan.

Dad and mom were different in some ways, yet similar in others.  Dad, the extrovert, was in the spotlight much of the time due to either preaching, leading music, or just by being in a performing arts field like voice and choir.  He organized choir tours during spring break, sang in seven operas, directed college student performed operas, oratorios, recitals, and an operetta.

Mom, however, was the detail person who researched, planned trips, alphabetized things from record collections to spices in our wooden kitchen cabinets. She has researched the geneology of our family, chronicled important events through thousands of photos all organized in albums.  She organizes trips, finances, and keeps up with all we are doing.  She loves to be with family and each visit back and forth is treasured by her.

Both love travel, to see new sights, and try new things.  Both have a deep love for God and a faithful prayer life for all the family and others they know.

Mom- went back to college and we graduated the same year...me from high school, and mom from college.  She didn't stop there.  She went on to get her masters in library science.  She has two geneology books published; one is her side of the family and another is a sub-group of her family.  She is now working on Dad's family tree.  She is a great cook.  Many thanks for the great healthy foods she kept in my diet as a child.  You got me started off right!  And Mom,  I loved your fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy!  (I wish I didn't know so much about cholesterol so I would feel free to fry up chicken more often! :)

Dad-worked on and received two masters degrees and a doctorate in music.  He had to perform in operas while he was a doctoral student at Indiana University as well as several recitals in different languages. Dad was the pastor of  a small church in Fort Wayne, IN when I was born.  He later taught music in colleges and universities.  He has been a worship leader at various churches and denominations, and even summer camp meetings in the US and Canada.  He directed operas, operettas, musicals, oratorios, canatatas, wrote and arranged music, sang and spoke on radio broadcasts, taught in public schools, and served as an elder for years in his church.  Even now he speaks and sings in church when asked, and volunteered in a hospital.

Dad I loved that ice cream sundae you served up in a vegetable serving dish for lunch that one day when I was home with a bad cold.  It made me feel so much better!

Mom, you amazed me at how you kept your cool and never screamed or yelled that I can remember.  I tried to be like you in that way and tried to stay patient with my children.  I would say that worked most of the time... I was not as successful as you in that area.

I love my parents and I want to say thanks for all the things you both are and what you have done to help to form me into the person that I am.  So many facets of my personality, interests, and abilities stem from you.  I appreciate all of the culture I was exposed to, the travels, the morals, and the drive that you both have for excellence in all that you do.  You do it as unto the Lord.

You are the wind beneath my wings to this day.  I thank God for you being in my life so constantly and being in each other's lives for these 61 years!  You have given me a strong foundation to stand on.

This was a brief waltz through memory lane so that I could honor my parents and let them know they were a huge success in life.  I am thankful to be your daughter!  You together have been a strong wind that has blown me in the right direction.  Refreshing me with your encouragement and faith in my abilities.  I love you both!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

TO DIE FOR

John 12:24-25- 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.


        If you hold onto a dry kernel of corn in your hand and it will always just remain one kernel of corn.  You can put it away in a drawer for a month or two, then when you take it out...you will still have only the one kernel.  You can put it away in a jar and it will not change into more than one kernel.  It will not do anything except maybe rot or turn into dust.

However, if you take that same kernel and place it into some fertile soil at the right depth, cover it, water it, then this time due to the correct conditions, the seed will begin to die in order to reproduce new life.  All of the matter in the soil, the heat from the sunshine, the moisture from the precipitation all work to break down the hard outer coat of the seed.  When it softens, the most miraculous thing happens!  A fragile little green sprout pushes through the seed coat, pushes up toward the light above the soil, and at the same time that it goes through its metamorphosis above the soil, the roots are extending deep down and wide to establish the plant.

From a handful of seeds that eventually are obliterated in the process, enough corn is produced to eat from as well as to save for the next year's planting.  In order for this life-giving process to begin... there has to be a death of the original seed.  It loses all of its previous properties.  It is completely transformed.  There is no trace of it or much thought of it even.  No one misses that one little hull of the grain when so much has come from it.

This is my life as well.  You and I are that kernel.  We keep to ourselves.  We plan the perimeter of our lifespan.  How far we will go and in which way.  Just think.  There is a scope and a depth that we cannot conceive of that is waiting for us to discover and become.  We each must break out of the mold that others try to put us into and only be satisfied when the creator, the one who breathed life into us, comes with his suggestions.  For he has known me from before conception.  He saw my body being knit together in my mother's womb.  But he also fashioned my soul and his passions that he placed in my very being.  I have deep rivers flowing from within that want to pour out and be who I was created to be to the very fullest.

I want to die to the distractions and things that the world wants to dangle before me.  I want to stay on track to finding the treasures in life that will not rot or cannot be destroyed.  I want to uncover the joy of living in the now and not in the what ifs or what may be.  Daily, I want to mature and grow in the wisdom of the Most High.

This is the picture we need to tack to the wall before us!  This is what is happening so many times as we will groan, complain, or cry out, "Unfair!" 

Picture this:  A mother and father love their child so much and just adore her so they cannot bring themselves to ever tell her, "No."  That would curb her curiosity, or thwart her personality, the parents might excuse.

A few years later, they are unable to go anywhere because their little darling has become such a tyrant with no boundaries.  The couple is lonely, unhappy, and feeling like failures.  They have few friends with children who are eager to have them over because of the misbehaving, rude, and selfish child their daughter has become.  They tire of being bossed, sassed, and ignored.  Her room is a mess, her manners are non-existent, and their regrets seem to come too late for a remedy.

Now, most of you are guessing what the remedy might have been from the beginning.  All of you see that there has to be change and it has to come with the parents setting the standards and the child learning that there are sometimes responses to their wishes such as, "No." "Not now."  "Maybe later, when you have finished..."

What was missing with the child above is also missing in many adults these days.  We think because we can afford it, that we should buy or do whatever we want.  We want it; we get it.  We want to; we do it.   What happens when we don't scale things down ourselves, or balance it with service to others is that we become that arrogant, selfish individuals that most may tolerate, but those that don't have to be around them, ...simply avoid like the plague.

In the natural world, we grind flour to make bread and enjoy using the flour for our nutrition.  It fills us up.  We crush up peanuts to make a creamy smooth paste that many of us enjoyed in sandwiches as children.  Apples are mashed and made into applesauce, and pressed even more to make cider or juice.

Spiritually, God has to allow life events to put the squeeze on us also.  He may not crush our arm, or body, but it is our self-will he has to crush as part of our maturation process.  Too many times we are striving after the things we think we need to do or have.  We continually run on the endless treadmill to satisfy our never ending thirst and to satiate our desires.  Not everything we want is good for us, or does it benefit our development.

Striving, if it is our main motivation in life, will soon give way to a raging ambition.  Keep feeding this and you will always be in bondage, never content, never have enough, and always on the move, or in the rat race to get ahead.  It can become a prison that you never break free of.

Instead, we are handed the privilege of a life filled with freedom.  Freedom from living a life of comparisons.  Free to become our true selves, rather than who we are pressured to be.  Freedom to give as well as to take.  Freedom to experience trials without becoming depressed.  Freedom to embrace differences without judging.  Freedom to experience God's love and be a river of life to those nearby.

Jesus would not have had the following if he was just lifting himself up to be popular, famous, or a superstar!  He actually told people that he healed and delivered not to tell anyone.  He wanted them to be whole and to just to be thankful to God. (The lepers were an exception, they went to show the priest they were no longer plagued by leprosy so he would declare them clean and fit to move normally in society.)  Jesus just gave out of the pure love and goodness that he was.

Jesus clearly taught us not to worry, asking, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?"  For the pagans run after these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." (from Matthew 6:31-33)

My mother-in-law had a pillow on her couch that summed up the approach to life that many of us share.  "Why pray when you can worry?"  Self-centeredness and self-sufficiency have just a fine line between them.  Who do we think we are?  Just because I have a good mind, does that mean that I am too good to bother God?  No!  On the contrary, if I know so much, I should also know how much I still have to learn.  I need God more these days than ever.  I need his grace, his strength, and his wisdom.

God delights in me when I finally get to the state of joyful living where I can live worry free.  He gave me a standard for work, finances, family, and relationships.  He makes it plain who should be the center of my life.  He makes it clear what are healthy attitudes.  He clearly explained love and loving well.  He laid out his game plan or what I like to call my owner's manual.  If I will just embrace God and let him into the fabric of my life.  If I will read the instructions he gave for living my life.  If I spend the time to ponder over these things.  I would not forget them so soon.

But, when I have forgotten, fallen, or broken the standard operations, then I need to take a step back and consider where I strayed.  I mess up my life and the lives of others around me usually when I try to do it all my way.  As Michael Jordan always said, "Get back to the basics!"  I have to start all over again.  When I do, I find I am free again.

We simply cannot out give God.  I remember many times when I felt that my time was being used up all day long with tasks that I repeated over and over.  Changing diapers, washing dishes, washing clothes, mowing the lawn ... surely my talents were not being used in these things!  Yet, as I submitted rather than question, or complain, then I found a deep satisfaction.  Washing dishes could be a time when I listened to music and meditated.  Washing clothes, when I still hung laundry outside, was a great escape into the outdoors for me, and playtime for the kids.  Dusting, vacuuming, mopping; they have all become so common place and there is a satisfaction to putting things in order.

There is a time to play, a time to clean, a time to teach, a time to prepare for special events, a time to enjoy the laughter of children and laugh along, and a time to comfort neighbors, and those reaching out to you for support, when going through troubles of their own.  In these things, God is showing me that all these times are spent with Him.  He shares all of life with me. 

I have never been alone.  He has been there at my birth, commencements, childbirth, nights I wondered how to make ends meet, times I was scorned and belittled.  All of those events that seemed too difficult at the time were just adding the pressure it took to send me back to my creator.  These trials were the crucible that God used to cleanse and burn off the crumby stuff of my life.  These were times when Jesus stood by as my constant companion.  He waited and comforted, yet allowed me to come to the place where I desired to remain in harmony with God, and his will-regardless of the circumstance.  He was not the one ever in question.

So, now I try to think, "Ok, I know that you are working something good out of this... I trust what you are allowing to happen right now.  This little discomfort, this missed opportunity, this broken friendship, well... I am dying and letting go so that the better things that you desire, can come my way.

So, if it seems that I sit around complacent, dying to my dreams, and my destiny.  I say phooey.  I am living my life joyfully.  I am at peace, content, and just where I am supposed to be right now at this moment.  If I compared myself to 5 years or 25 years ago, yes, I do see great changes.  I also see that the good ones are directly due to the daily letting go and letting God work through my ups and downs.  It's par for the pruning course: part of the grinding, the polishing, the oiling, the final adjustments- to become the real me.  I am expecting bumper crops!

Perfect freedom: is to perfectly trust a perfect God.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

LOOK AT YOUR SELF IN A FULL-LENGTH MIRROR


                           I Cor 13:12 "We don't yet see things clearly.
We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!" (MSG)  

Sometimes mirrors can give us a distorted picture of ourselves. There are mirrors that can make us appear as broad as a barn door.  There are mirrors that make us look as wavy those potato chips with ridges.  A makeup mirror uses magnification to make objects appear 8 times larger than they really are.  This is great when you need to see something small or do not have your reading glasses on to put on makeup.  I also remember walking around the house with a hand mirror.  These are limited to a small area.  You can even walk around the house with them turned upside down and get a very different perspective as you go from room to room.  The one I use the most, is the tiny mirror that comes with my facial powder that is compressed.  I can see just what I need to check my hair, or to make sure that my face is not shiny.  You can even buy a lipstick case with a tiny mirror inside that is just right to get a fix on those luscious lips that may need a touch up.  An even more limited view of yourself would be in that itty bitty mirror my hygienist uses to look at the back side of my teeth.  That allows her to see around in the crowded small spaces of my cavernous mouth.  That too is a limited view of who I am.

The other day, I was listening to a message from Tim Keller that really opened up my eyes. (a link of his message is at the end)  He was talking about a word that we don't often use in our everyday chatter, the word was justification.  I hear all the time people saying, "Oh, you are trying to justify why you did that."  In this case this means, we are trying to defend ourselves or rationalize.  The meaning in Christianity for justification is describing the change that happens to a human being when they identify with Jesus Christ, believe in Him, and embrace his message as truth.  In our moment of salvation, we become justified.

Most of my life, I have heard what Keller calls the negative side of justification.  That is, that when we accept Jesus as the son of God and savior of our life, then we have our sins forgiven, we have a place in heaven, and we are covered (no fees, no obligations, no works can earn this) because Jesus paid the price, so our debt for our sins is already taken care of by way of his blood shed on the cross. He has picked up the tab for us.  The negative in our life (sin) is taken away by Jesus. 

This is such a sweet mystery, a rich gift, so... why is this then called the negative side of justification?  It is labeled like this, because it explains how we move from death to life eternal, yet sadly, this is where most of us stop as Christians.  

Oh yes, we pray to ask forgiveness when we blow it.  We get involved in all the right things: to serve, to help, to demonstrate our love for God, and to share with others.  

What then is the positive side of justification?  I have heard and seen hints of this.  I have read about men and women of faith who I think had a bit of a grasp of this, but until God opened up my eyes to the reality of all that he meant.  

Now we see faintly in a mirror, but one day, we will see God face to face.  There is so much more for us because we are now alive in eternity.  So, so what about today?   Why did God use a looking glass or mirror in this passage and not a window?  I would think that if I was looking at someone else that I would look through a window to see them.  Keller draws us in to consider a concept that God has spoken to, but that doesn't quite sink in through our slow to believe, imperfect little skulls.  

How many times are we told that we are adopted sons and daughters of God?  Grafted into to the vine or the tree?  

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  
I Jn. 3:1 (NIV)

Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."  The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  Romans 8:14-17 (NIV)

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.  Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."  So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.  Gal. 4:4-7 (NIV)


Now I ask you, at what point are we changed from death to life?  When is it that we become heirs, with the same rights as Jesus?  When is it that we are adopted and are now his children?  Not until we go to Heaven?  No!  It is at the point of salvation that we are changed.  We are covered with the blood of Jesus so that the principalities and powers see us in the righteousness of Christ.  God sees us as his children.  He bought us back, that is what redeemed means.  We stepped away from our position as sons when Adam and Eve sinned in Eden.  Their sin separated them from their position with God.  Still, God so loved us that he would not leave us out in the cold to be banished forever from him.  He made a way for us to regain our rightful standing as his children.

This brings us to an exciting conclusion.  The verse five of Galatians 4 said, "to redeem those under law, that we might receive the FULL RIGHTS OF SONS."  Then in verse seven, "you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir." 


Open up and wrap your mind around that one!  What are we doing sitting around stymied wondering what to do about the world problems or those right in front of us?  WE ARE TO BRING THE SOLUTION!!!  HOW? Start with prayer and intercession which are the atomic bombs in this world.  You could stop there if you really were dedicated and continued on and a multitude of strongholds, and wickedness would be stopped.  Then of course giving, helping, doing, speaking, and listening to the spirit as He leads through out the day.  Use those spiritual endowments that the Father has given us through Christ Jesus!!!


Let's finish my thought with the mirrors.  To me I was thinking of our self-perception.  We see through different filters depending on our moods, frame of mind, and what baggage we carry around.  Instead of looking wavy, or elongated, fat, or those kind of distortions... be bold enough to open your heart and ask God to show you who you really are and what he made you for on this Earth.  Be courageous enough to step into the ballet studio where from all four sides you can see yourself clearly.  God lift the scales off of our eyes and let us use our time here on Earth to benefit the Kingdom.  AMEN!


Share what God is speaking to you in the comment section or in reply to this email.  Click on the title of the blog today if this is difficult to read and go directly to the blogsite if you are in email.  (You have to understand that my blog prints on a black background online, so I try to add variety and brighten it up with different colors that look good there.  


Click on the link below if you would like to listen to the actual message from Tim Keller.  Go with God!



 

 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

HERITAGE: Roots That Soak Up From a Deep River



Deep River,
My home is over Jordan.
Deep River Lord.
I want to cross over into campground.

Deep River.
My home is over Jordan.
Deep River, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.

Oh, don't you want to go,
To the gospel feast.
That promised land,
Where all, is peace.

Oh, deep River, Lord,
I want to cross over into campground.
(a negro spiritual my father, Dr. Franklin Lusk, sang often as a music minister)


Temperatures in the hundreds still prevailed, so to spite the heat, we trudged closer with our load of folding chairs strapped over our shoulders.  Towels in hand, the sun sparkled on the gently flowing surface that lured us on.  Strapping on fins and mask, my youngest son, lithe, blonde, bronzed, and like a miniature Tarzan, quickly slipped beneath the surface of the chilly spring-fed waters of the Comal River, a few miles from our home in the Texas hill country.

Cooling off after an energetic swim against the current, I gazed across to the opposite shore at the cypress, oak, and mulberry trees.  They all leaned as if anticipating a cool draught from their shady shore.  Some grew green, majestic, and healthy, while others showed the strain of the drought with sagging limbs and browning leaves.

I had to wonder how a tree so close to such a healthy source of fresh water could suffer so.  Only a few feet from refreshment and life, yet there they stood, openly showing their root systems' lack of depth.  I had to conclude that there was some obstruction.  Perhaps rocks or older roots stood in their way of discovery. 

This image stayed with me for some time.  Those trees easily reflect us all.  Stalwart, courageous, willing to stand through all kinds of trials.  Some are grasping to hang on by sheer will power, yet soon they slip away, discouraged, distracted, or off track as they do not seek any other help but their own selves.

While others stand patiently, expectantly, bearing the heat that the sun pours down unmercifully.  Trusting, uncompromising, continuing to stretch inch by inch toward the source until it flows up through its roots running up and throughout its watering system to provide the turbidity needed to flourish.

Just as these trees reflect their relationship, their closeness to the river, so my life has the same choices as I wander through the trials in this world.  Each and every one is to be embraced, for there is not one present for me to walk through without God standing with me.  The difference can only be whether or not I choose the shallow way, or the way of the deep river.

The shallow way affords instant gratification, ease, glory, and kudos for my illumination.  The deep waters and current offer me discord, resistance, obscurity, misunderstanding, and humility.

Choose the depths of God's riches.  Choose the unknown road paved with countless thankless tasks to ease the burdens of others.  Choose the paths less traveled and find that in the end, there is an unmeasurable glory for all of our wilderness wandering, following blindly, for our pain and suffering.  I admit, much of the pain I see in my life I bring upon myself, but then when undeserved blows in life cause me to stop or to question whether I have my bearings: whether I am headed in the right direction. I look around for the answers to so many whys, so many things I do not understand. 

Today, I have learned to pause.  I let his thoughts fill me with answers in my troubled soul.  On my good days, I search God's wisdom left for me to read, think over, and act upon.  Then my roots grow deep into him as he feeds me with the truth.  Over and above what I deserve, I find life springing up in me for a rebirth where death meant to do me in.

The calming sound of the steady flow along the shoreline brought me back and again I glanced from the surface where I saw my son's blue snorkel spraying out trapped water.  He lifted his head and looked to see if I watched his activity and grinned a pleasurable reply to my nod his way.

I feel the simple pleasure of my child's acknowledgment and dependence.  I sense my heavenly father looks my way in much the same way.  He is my river.  He wants me rooted in his strength and surrounded with his sustenance and  in the folds of his loving arms.




It is quite a journey, yet someday, I will cross over to see Jesus more clearly.  I will stare in amazement to see him face to face at last.  Crying will go out of style replaced by bubbling laughter and joy.  Regally and humbly I will rule and reign over worlds saturated in such delicious love.  All sorrow vanishes.  Regrets will fade in the presence of such purity, glory, and untainted beauty.

Friday, July 29, 2011

PREMONITIONS

There will be wars and rumors of wars...


Matthew 24:36
New American Standard Bible (NASB)
   36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

According to a map I was sent by AM BEST Company in an insurance magazine we received, it documented 19 disasters due to wind, snow, and rain in the year 2010.  Also on the world map are symbols representing high risk areas for insuring that are called natural and man-made hot spots.  These problem areas are risky due to wildfire, piracy, terrorism, political unrest, major earthquakes, volcanic activity, flood-prone zones, drought, probable storm paths, and major fault lines are plotted over the whole Earth.  It is important to the insurance industry to know these things, since they have to accept the risk for policies held by individuals.

I never realized that all these events were followed so closely and documented by this group of people.  When I looked at the areas of piracy it is quite a coincidence to find that they are centered along the same lines of latitude around the world.  Mexico and Central America, on the borders of Columbia and Brazil, the Caribbean, off the coast and all through Central Africa, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea.

Another stunning fact was that most of the natural disasters were sent to the United States or Europe this past year.  That really makes me think that there is a definite design in those events.  Record breaking cold temperatures and snowfall in Europe that killed so many.  Hardest hit with flooding, tornados, fires, and hail hitting mostly countries that are a democracy or that have freedom of religion.

If my radar is telling me the truth, I would say that we are getting warnings of a magnitude through this onslaught that we should have our spiritual house in order.  We need to be praying for revival of our own hearts, as well as the revival of our country from the grass roots up through the government.  Then pray for the world.  Pray for those missionaries who labor in danger zones that many will receive Jesus as their savior!

We need to be sowing and reaping more now than at any time because we are running out of time.  Even world leaders in Israel, say that it will not be long... not even many years until all out war in the Middle East will break out.  It is a miracle that Israel has stood strong with so much fighting, terrorism, and pressure from all around it since it reclaimed it's statehood!

The signs of the times are upon us.  Do not be idle.  Open your heart up to God to be the funnel from him to all around you through whatever gifts he has given you.  If it is in speaking, then speak; if it is in raising money, then raise money for the kingdom; if it is in writing, then write whatever and where ever God opens your mind to do this.  If you are a psalmist, let the songs flow out to the congregations.

The body of Christ needs to be strengthened by the fresh winds of the Holy One upon us.  We need to walk, breathe, eat, sleep, talk, sing, and move always in this fresh anointing each and every day.  There are lost souls all around.  We have to care about their destiny.  We have to be his hands and feet today.  Today is all we are promised.  Live it like it is your last before we walk out into the rest of eternity.

This is a little heavier than my other blogs, I realize.  I just had such an urgency today to write and this is meant to be encouragement that will motivate us out of our slumber.  I am the first to hear and heed this warning.  I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and on toward the heart of God.  Blessings!

The Message (MSG)


1 Thessalonians 5

 1-3I don't think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master's coming can't be posted on our calendars. He won't call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody's walking around complacently, congratulating each other—"We've sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!"—suddenly everything will fall apart. It's going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.  4-8But friends, you're not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You're sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let's not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let's keep our eyes open and be smart. People sleep at night and get drunk at night. But not us! Since we're creatures of Day, let's act like it. Walk out into the daylight sober, dressed up in faith, love, and the hope of salvation.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Way of Love




I can not say this any better.  This is from The Message version.  I love to read this in the morning and in the evening.  If I follow this, I will be a changed person that will radiate the presence of God.  Have a great day!

1 Corinthians 13

The Way of Love
 1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
 11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Am I Today?

I AM


A follower of Christ and trying to reflect him

Focused on many tasks that need attending to

Faithful to my husband, and learning more each day

Full of dreams and hopes though Satan tries to squelch

Flourishing in worldly possessions, but they are just dust

Finishing and checking off some things on my list which feels good

Forgiving myself for shortcomings and praying for strength each day

Forging ahead to assist my dear daughter in Africa which tears me up

Funding this and that so that life can go on as normal for us all

Forgetting to read the Word and meditate daily-so getting back to basics

Fixing the flower beds feels like something in life is in order

Fretting over the rush of summer and time with the kids almost gone

Fiddling with trip plans so that we can have a few days to play

Finances taking up much time and energy, but worth it

Funny how things work out if we trust God to handle things

Frantically finishing another load of laundry and clean up in the kitchen

Whipping up ideas for a delectable supper of gourmet kielbassa for my hubby

Fragile emotions with tears while I have been writing this week

Father, come hold me near and never let me go!

Friday, June 10, 2011

BACKWARDS







Why is it that it is so much easier to get it wrong, than to get it right?  Some days it seems that I go two steps backwards for each step forward.  We are encouraged when we get it backwards to look up and find our strength in God.  Maybe I am going to be closer to God by being honest and looking up to Him for all that I know that I need from him.

Or maybe we have it backwards...maybe we think things are going well in our lives when we find no resistance or negative circumstances, yet in reality...we are not doing well, because we are stagnant.  If we stayed in that condition for long with nothing to conquer, nothing to change before us, then we would end up like pond scum.  I chose rather than slime, to be as the ever beating waves upon the sandy seashore.

Salty, vibrant, ever changing, a mover and shaker, and with a rhythm that is easy to sway to.  Constantly in motion, to catch the sun and sparkle, this sends a message of vibrant life within and without.  So take me on this cruise of living one moment at a time and give me your vision to see your beauty and learn from each scene and each breath I take.

Take me back to the beginning and your original purposes for this Earth...not my ways, but yours.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Dream and Live Your Life




"Dream as if you'll live forever.  Live as if you'll die today."   James Dean

Do you ever find your self in the doldrums?  Do you ever think that your life does not seem significant? Stop and do self evaluations whenever you get these stirrings.

Today, I do not feel insignificant, but change is in the air.  Next week I will walk away from something I have loved and done for over 22 years.  I am retiring.
   
I recently was thinking that my life was no big deal, until I started calculating how many people I really have touched just in my career.  

Elementary students I have taught:  417

Middle school students taught:  400
High school students taught:  360

Detention center students taught:  40

FCA:  200

(Not to speak of youth groups, children's choirs at three churches, Bible studies, book studies, Sunday school classes, co-workers, Japanese friends I made and spent time teaching American cooking lessons to in Tokyo, etc.)
Just of the figures from teaching school, I came up with 1,217 students that I spent a year with on a daily basis.  Some of my ESL students I spent two years with them and they had more than one class with me.

The point is, this is not a hurrah, or a "look what I've done in my lifetime".  Yet it is just one way of measuring my worth.  I imagine you can do just the same with your jobs, community work, voluteering, singing in choirs, tutoring, helping with menial tasks that make an event possible, send needed supplies and encouraging items to troops, or to rescue and emergency aid to countries hit by disaster, planting trees, recycling, giving to non-profits.

Then, consider this!  If you have children each of them has a sphere of influence.  My influence and input and love into my six children has touched many lives because of who they are and who they have become.  God gave them as a gift to me to train and raise up, but they are also a gift to the world.  

Just think of it!  I have influence in Afghanistan, because me son is there working for the government.  I have influence in California because of another son there.  I have influence in San Antonio because of daughters who live and interact in various positions, careers, and civic duties.  

I also have influence in South Africa because of my daughter who is a full-time missionary there with YWAM.  She loves on kids in schools, orphanages, aids clinics' patients, druggies and prostitutes, other students from all over the world who come to train on a half year mission journey in their lives to find God and their place in His kingdom.  I also have influence with my young son still at home as he matures and develops.

My husband also tell me that I am an influence on him.  I will quickly tell you that his love, faith in God, and generosity of love to me and my family has had a great influence to heal and he brings encouragement along to everyone he meets.

As I dream for the next venture in my life.  I am excited at the prospects.  I know that no matter which way I turn God can use me to encourage another person.  I know that if I decide to stay at home and write and just loved on my family and took care of them, that my life would be fulfilled.  I do want to dream big and touch the world.  I want all that I have and can give to be used to the fullest.

I want to live today like it was my last.  What would be on your to do list if today is your last day on the Earth?  Maybe that should be part of the routine everyday.  

Live life so that when you go to sleep at night there are few regrets.  Plan your days so that every once in a while there is some spice in life: something that you really love and want to do for others and yourself.  Follow your passion.  Use your natural gifts.  Follow God's heart.  

Then, when you get those nagging negative thoughts or feelings just remember to sit still before God to get your balance...let Him be your compass.  Your dreams will not be abandoned, rather... you will find that when you look back and reflect...they are all coming true.


  





Monday, May 16, 2011

Brave at Heart

"You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore." - Christopher Columbus 
Imagine the courage it took for Columbus to actually set out to sail directly to the west, in the day that people thought the world was flat and if they went too far, that there would be a huge drop off.  
Imagine walking in marches for equality, knowing that as you leave the bus or while in the street you may be clubbed and jailed.
Imagine standing and silently praying or passing out pamphlets to young women before they entered an abortion clinic, trying to save them from a lifetime of guilt, as well as the life of the baby, and being the mother of three young children as well as a pastor's wife who is thrown in jail.
Imagine refusing to get out of your seat on a bus and seeing jail time because you believed that you were just as precious with your beautiful chocolate skin as the others who insisted in taking your place.
Imagine taking all of your land, your home, your finances and investing them all in a cause of freedom from tyranny, the colonies vs. England, which at the time was the greatest military power on the planet.
 Imagine that these people all had a choice to walk in fear, think of their losses, and could have backed down.  Where would we be without hospital reform, prison reform, child labor laws reform, meat packing reform, asylum reform, or church reform?  
Are these people special, destined, or were they just like us?  I think that they were just like us.  They had a faith in God.  They had the same God as we do.  But...they moved to make a statement, a change, with an urgency to do what God gave them to do.  No fear.  Only trusted Him.
Imagine the next time God has you in a situation where a word in season could make a difference in someone's life.  Make the move of love and compassion.  Care about their souls.  Care about the condition they are in.  Reach out beyond your comfort zone and just find out how big your God is.
That is my challenge to me.  I just thought you might want to take it up, too.  Brave at heart.   I like that.  Lord, help me push beyond the easy and go straight on through the tough stuff and into your heart.  The brave and the free.  I want to be free in deed.
 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quest



Thanks for your comments.  I appreciate the feedback.  I am getting my wobbly writing legs going here and one day I will write my first mediocre book. 

I read from another blogger who does gets published that I need to write my first bad book, then put it down for a while, come back and rewrite and edit about ten times before showing it to anyone... then show it and listen to the critique: learn from it.  Then write a better second book.

Now, I just am pondering, brain-storming, making notes, writing blogs, and as soon as I clean out my classroom I will begin in earnest to search for a story that is waiting to be told.

I'LL JUST KNOW

I can imagine having a whole new standard to live by when I see God face to face.  I will just know...like those little guilty kids, who when the adults show up...all of a sudden just amazingly "know" how to behave. 

I think I will have a sense of things that are beyond my reach now due to the scarring that comes from dwelling on this Earth.  The knowledge will be there.  I will just know when we are close to crossing the boundaries. 

More than that, His aura of love will be so strong that there will be no desire to be anything outside of who He is...perfect love.  It will just be so desirable and so contagious that with no questions or instructions needed, swallowed up in His goodness... I'll just know.

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  I John 3:2


Monday, May 2, 2011

MIXED FEELINGS

I am saddened at the cursing, and filthy talk surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Yet, I am so relieved that the nightmare of this personage is over.  The sobering reality is that he has indoctrinated, brainwashed if you please, and developed a huge network of like-minded fanatics who will want to carry out his assignments, especially after his death.  Those whooping it up only stirs more hatred for us as we do not show the face of our God to them.

It is sad when any person dies without a knowledge of Jesus and with hell as a prospect.  Many have attempted to work the diplomatic,  pacifist route and innocents still have been killed, tortured, families destroyed, etc. 

If we met him with that attitude in the spiritual state he has been in the past decade, a man from the USA may have been sacrificed for his beliefs.  I might have been raped and made a slave.  He was possessed, and that part is sad.  He did not find his deliverer in time to change his destination.

Yes, we should show proper dignity for his death.  I agree, but too many remember the undignified tapes mocking the deaths of many innocent in New York and the Pentagon as well as Pennsylvania.

God is not a God of violence, but he will come back on a white horse as the conqueror over the demonic hosts that have terrorized this planet.  They will be destroyed and all of their followers, no holds barred. He is also a God of justice.

There is a point where we as humans can choose to step out of the boundaries of grace and we are left without the Lord's protection due to our blasphemy.

That, sadly, left us with no choice, but to remove this evil man from doing more damage all over the world.

I pray for deliverance from evil in the Lord's prayer.  Sometimes the angels stop the evil and sometimes our warriors have to do the job.

I am thankful for the brave men who risked their lives, who cannot live with their families because of their secretive existence to protect us.  I am thankful that we still can live in this bastion of freedom here in the United States, but I do pray that we would regain reverence for life, reverence for God, and that we would put God on the throne again rather than our own selfish entertainment and desires.

Yes, I would love to see the millennium come to Earth today.  We have a little more time to wait, but we can each one live a life pleasing to God regardless until that day comes.  Some are teachers, some are preachers, some are businessmen, some are housewives, some are prophets, some are healers, and some are defenders of the weak and the defenseless.  My thanks to the defenders who are working for freedom.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

WHAT DO YOU DO?



What do you do...when you hear many voices calling for you and needing you and you need some time to recharge without that guilty feeling? 

I have learned the hard way that putting myself last all the time has taken its toll.  I know that I cannot love others as myself if I don't take time to love myself, first.

One thing I need that does not cost money is time alone.  I relish time when I can explore ideas, learn new things, reach out in words to write my children, friends, to express my heart towards God.  I feel free and like I am being my true self.

Other times I am so energized by being near the ones I love.  I love to have time alone with my hubby, or one on one time with one of my kids, sister, or parents.  I also love the house popping full of people.  My husband and I get energized with the love pouring through the house as little ones totter, bigger ones whoop it up, going for walks to get out for a bit with grandchildren in tow as I listen to their cheerful chatter.

Exuberant worship is another arena of freedom and flying high in my spirit.  I love to move and be moved.  I am awed at such a being that is so full of pure love and I desire to be more like Him everyday.  I have so much to learn.  I am eager to be with Him and I want Him to ooze out of my life, my pores, my mouth, my actions, my every thought...first and last...I want to please my Lord and I cannot wait to see Him clearly face to face.  For now, I must love my neighbor as myself, so here I go!

First I will soak up love from Him alone in my closet, get refreshed or take up a challenge that will energize and stretch me, and then I will pour it out on those nearby.

Ready, set, go!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE

"You Are God",  was the theme of our musical worship this Easter.  Woven into the music were four videos of members in the church who were living their lives right, wonderful Christians, when calamity struck.

Lance had a load fall on him when he was in his twenties and crippled him waist down for life.  He thought his life was over, but years later, he was able to have children, and he has prospered at business, and never missed a beat with God.  He is one of the front line singers and rolled out for the end of the pastor's message along with the others for a standing ovation by 4,000 in the crowd last night.

Martha and Josh Lopez were next.  They had been expecting their first, who they were going to name Josh, when they miscarried.  His sister, who was in drugs and was living in sin got pregnant with another baby, and planned to call it Joshua.  Josh and Marsha were heart broken still and this seemed very insensitive of her, since that was their choice for their first child.  They looked to God for healing and peace.  Then out of the blue months later they were contacted by a relative who told them that the baby was in Florida and had been abandoned by his mother.  They did not hesitate.  They went to rescue Josh and later adopted him.  So, their first child WAS named Josh and he has brought such joy into their household.  God was preparing hearts as well as a place for this little guy.

Next, there was Mark, who is a photographer, who one day was leaving his studio and was hurt so bad in an accident right outside, on a Saturday afternoon, that they thought he was dying.  Out of nowhere came a military young man who called for emergency help and then a cab driver stopped, prayed with him for his salvation, fearing the worst, and would not stop laying hands on him until the EMTs arrived.  Actually, Mark said that the man's whole body was very hot from the Holy Ghost.  He was so thankful that this young man persisted.  He has a scarred face, but God healed and restored him.

Then there is Meka.  She said goodbye to her husband as he went off to work.  He was a high ranking officer in the army and took a flight on a Black Hawk helicopter that went down in Europe.  He left that morning and did not return home.  Now she is raising two little boys, ages 4 and 10.  She stood by me in the choir on Thursday night.  I know she has had three and a half years to heal, but I was sensing that her wounds were opened up and hurting afresh.  

I reached out and patted her back. She smiled a painful smile and said she was okay at the end of the video of her testimony.  Then we sang "When I Don't Know What to Do". Cindy Magsig sang this with such clarity as her soul poured out through her solo.  

I praise God for these brave saints who shared their pain, their faith in God, and who have stood firm in their walk with God to encourage us to look up for our strength and peace.

We all know that things happen to everyone and yet sometimes as new Christians we think we will be immune because we're God's kids, but more often than not, that is why we are targeted.

So, I want to encourage you to be patient.  Let God weave his perfect tapestry.  You are a culmination of many events that are orchestrated to make you just who you were intended to be.  

Be content to know that God stands back and says, "See that place in your life when you thought it was the pits?  That night when you were crying because your heart was breaking?  That was when we had that special moment and you saw how my heart breaks because all of my beloved on earth don't spend time loving me."

Family, things, entertainment, work, pleasure, the lure of sin, all get in the way and become more important.  How His heart aches to bring us all into His kingdom of love.  

I am thankful to be a funnel on this Earth and I pray that I will always be faithful and demonstrate back to God how much I truly love and honor Him.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL

Like the dove which finds the cage door ajar and flies away
Like the prisoner who has satisfied the sentence and walks out freely
Like a butterfly captured in a child's net-then released
Like a young heifer tangled in the brush and set free

Like words of affirmation held back from our ears that finally flow our way
Like stern looks, frowns, and scowls changed to joy and peaceful countenances
Like phantoms that once hid and jumped -now stalwart-transformed from fear to faith
Like cursing, verbal torment now bubbling with kindness to gently uplift

Like a raging lion quiets down after having the painful thorn removed
Like an imprisoned princess when released by a valiant knight
Like a dry, dusty, travel wearied elephant plunging into river waters
Like a staked out family dog which is released when the guests leave

Like a city under siege when the marauding bandits are defeated
Like a hot sterile desert, now watered, blooming with life and sustenance
Like a bruised, battered child who now feels the tender love and nurturing deserved all along
Like a voice which had no reason to, but sings uncontrollably with deep felt joy

It is well, it is well with my soul