Thursday, June 30, 2011
The best part of summer for me has been the mornings when my ten-year old daughter asks me to read various Bible stories to her, and we talk about them. She asks such great questions like, "Why did God harden Pharoh's heart?" or "How come Satan's magicians could turn their staffs into snakes, too?"
She makes me think carefully about stories I have taken for granted because I heard them since my own childhood.
Today, she asked me to read about David and Goliath. What a nasty man Goliath was! He not only trash-talked the Iraelites, but God. The only thing David, a small shepherd boy, thought was IMpossible was that no one was standing up to this giant of a man.
It was not even feasible to David that he would lose because his God was THE God; his God was I AM.
My daughter and I measured how tall Goliath would have been according to Scriptures. He was 9-feet tall! He would have reached our kitchen ceiling! We tried to imagine a man that tall coming at us to kill us. Not only was he tall, he was strong! His armor weighed 125 lbs! The tip of his spear weighed more than my dog!
Goliath told David he was insulted that such a boy would try to fight him, and as a result, he was going to tear David apart and feed his body to the wild animals and birds.
David did not back down even though all of the army did. He just threw his stone and it went like a bullet into Goliath's head.
Before David did this though did you know he was reprimanded by his brothers? David's father, Jesse, had sent David from watching the sheep to give food to his brothers who were in the army, and to check on them. When David found his brothers and asked why everyone was putting up with such a character as this giant, they turned on him and told David he had a selfish heart and had deserted their father's sheep just to see the battle. They ordered him to return home.
His own brothers did not know David's heart.
As we fight giants in our lives, we may often be misunderstood. There is nothing that hurts more than someone NOT knowing your heart, someone assuming your intentions are wrong or selfish. -Someone who is close to you, yet seems to know nothing really at all about you--It could be a co-worker, friend, or even like, David, a relative.
I like David's resiliance, don't you? In Samuel, I encourage you to read what David did in response. He just said, "What? Am I not to talk at all?" He then turned and found someone who would listen to him. He ended up before the king.
Then David showed Israel the results of trusting God and saved Israel. I wish I could have read his brothers' reactions upon seeing David slay a man they were afraid to confront! Surely they saw David's pure intentions and faith by then. --But maybe even then, they did not trust David because of a giant in their spiritual lives? A giant of jealousy or mistrust or perhaps their own selfishness? I do not know. I only know David moved forward from their reprimand.
I have some giants in my life right now. Do you? They need to be overcome. They will be if and when I trust God to slay these giants.
I have also had people not understand my heart nor my intentions. I am not always innocent, but the times when I am and still get blamed hurt deeply.
I hope you haven't been misunderstood by those you love, trust, or by those with whom you work.
I bet, though, because you are human, you have been misunderstood.
When you are misunderstood, when I am misunderstood, let's do as David did. Let's just turn and find another way to battle life's giants continuing to trust God. Let's move forward and not give up or sulk away. David did not go home whining that his brothers did not understand him or love him. He knew his own faith and intentions and completed God's task. He could have gone home and complained to his father who sent him on the mission to help his brothers in the first place, but he did not. He was a man after God's own heart. He did not doubt. He did not waste time arguing with his brothers either. He just trusted God.
Trust and Obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey (old Methodist hymn). Join me in trusting God to battle our giants as well as the times we are misunderstood.
For His Glory,
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
OK, I will explain the significance of the two pictures. The one with the ladies sitting at the mall food court just fascinated me.
They were doing Tarot Card readings in the middle of the food court! I watched mesmerized by their serious attention to everything the cards seem to be saying to them.
I did not doubt that a crowd of new customers would soon gather. I mean, most folks want to know their futures, right? Will the move be a good one? Will my job ever get better? Will I ever get a job? Will I get married? Is he the right one? Will healing come soon?
I realized as I watched the ladies intently focusing on the messages from the cards, how God DOES want us to know the future. He wants us to have assurance as well about our future.
Unfortunately for these ladies, it does not come from cards, nor astrology, nor ouija boards, nor seances.
The truth about our future comes from God's Words. Reading Revelation helps one understand there is a future for each of us. Jesus died on the cross so that we could live in health forever with God in heaven. This world is already fallen. Because of sin, we can not have guarantees of a perfect life on this current earth in our current state. Jesus, though, knew this and chose to make atonement for our sins so we could receive new bodies in heaven with Him.
I am rejoicing at His mercy and love for doing that. I heard Michael Yussef speak today on Family Christian Radio along these same lines. He explained the Hebrew word written for prisoners who had served their time and paid their duty to society for their crimes. Tetelestai!
After serving time, the same paper condemning the prisoner to jail or labor would be returned to the judge where the word TETELESTAI would be written. The former prisoner would post this paper on his door so no one could attempt to arrest or abuse him again.
Likewise, Jesus said when He died on the cross for each of our many sins, TETELSTAI! IT is finished! It is Done! The sins are paid for by His innocent sacrifice.
You want to know your future? Just search your heart to see if Jesus dwells there. Is He your Lord? If so, join with me in shouting victoriously, TETELESTAI! When Satan tempts you, when Satan taunts you, when discouragement comes, when condemnation whispers in your ear, shout it, TETELESTAI! Your future is with Jesus because He paid the price once and for all.
OK, now the second picture is a follow-up to my blog about my daughter's sewing class. She finished her first project of a little American Girl Doll coat, and I could not be more proud. She loves sewing! She loves using that big machine, cutting the fabric, putting the needles in, threading, figuring out the patterns, and seeing the results. She told me time flies because she is so absorbed in the fun of the work.
I am praying God shows me such work this year, work that makes time fly, brings not only me joy, but God and others. It is an inbetween time of life as I am an elderly mother retired from work. I want to return to work in some fashion. I want God to use me.
I hope you will join me in prayer for that very thing, the joy of working for God.
In the meantime, TETELESTAI!
For His Glory,
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Another new insight, and yet a puzzling one, came from reading Daniel and Revelation this morning.
I just had to share it with you.
As you know, the last part of Daniel talks about the visions Daniel had of the end times. Because of this, it is a good book to read along with Revelation. In chapter 10, Daniel's last vision has a messenger explaining a great war to Daniel . "His body was like chrysolite, face like lghtning, eyes like flaming torches, and arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the voice like the sound of a multitude." No wonder Daniel fell down, helpless to move!
I often have wished I could see an angel or messenger from God, but upon reading this passage, I reconsider that desire.
The messenger told Daniel that Daniel's prayers were heard, and he came in response to them, BUT the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted the messenger for twenty-one days. Then Michael came to help the messenger because he was detained. Now he arrived to explain to Daniel what will happen to his people in the future.
Whoa! I knew spiritual battles went on behind the scenes of our lives, but I never quite saw it like this! The prince of the Persian kingdom is explained as a powerful spiritual being. He was able to detain the messenger for three weeks. Daniel remained faithful in praying and fasting, and the answer finally arrived.
How often have my own prayers seemed unanswered or delayed so long that I cease praying them? Satan loves to stop prayer. Prayers are our conversations with God.
There is no faster way to end a relationship with your friend, spouse, relative than to stop communication with that person. Right?
Satan knows this about our relationship with God. If he can delay messengers, discourage our prayer life, then he has a chance to disrupt our spiritual growth with God.
I am reminded of my mother who battled Parkinson disease for almost thirty years. What a faithful "Daniel" she was and role model to me. She prayed to God throughout that time for healing, for relief from that disease. Yet she shared with me that she grew closer to God than ever before had she not struggled so much. She said even if God never healed her, she would remain faithful in her love for Him.
She was finally healed when she woke up one morning in heaven. There were even glimpses of her healing before she died. One afternoon, I remember as she sat in her wheelchair unable to move her legs for many weeks, she showed me her ability to lift her legs and move them in circles in the air like a little dance. Out of the blue, sometimes, she would be able to talk clearly to me after weeks of no speech.
Glimpses of restoration. Who knows what spiritual battles may have been taking place during those years?
Like Daniel, my mother never let Satan win.
I can imagine the messenger finally coming to her as she was dieing and saying, "Rise, I have been a bit delayed, but your prayers have been heard. Your faithfulness rewarded. Your time has come to walk, run, dance again but with Jesus!"
I don't understand the spiritual battles going on unseen by you or me. I don't understand how our all-powerful God can even let an evil force delay a heavenly messenger.
All I know is this: In the end, God wins.
That is the message of Revelation. Of Daniel. Of Ruby Jack, my mother.
I hope it is the message of your story, too.
For His Glory,
Monday, June 27, 2011
One of my favorite things to do when I was in high school was to take our little speed boat and a good book and travel to the far side of Crab Orchard Lake in Southern Illinois very early in the morning (before 8:00). I loved seeing the fishermen returning with their morning catch as I journeyed to the forbidden-to-skiers-inlets.
Turning off the motor I let the boat drift. Enjoying the purple, blue, and pink hues of the morning sky while letting the waves rock the little boat side to side often lulled me into a peaceful rest.
Once while drifting, I spotted an odd shape in the water: two large horns protruded from the surface and moved steadily toward the shore. Paddling closer, I could not believe my eyes as I came along side a deer swimming from one island to another. To my dismay she began to panic and swim in circles. Not wanting her to drown, I quickly started up the motor and sped away.
Drifting is a pleasant state of mind sometimes, isn't it? You can discover new ideas or sights while just drifting. Have you ever let your mind just drift off in some pleasant memory or day dream? I had special day dreams as a child I used when bored in school or even church. Time seems so different when I can drift.
On the other hand, as I read Revelation 13 this morning, I realized it was time to check my drifting. You see, drifting can also be dangerous.
If I fell asleep on the lake while drifting, I could run the little blue speed boat onto sand bars, rocks, sunken tree logs, and end up ruining the engine's propeller.
Too many times I had witnessed my Dad having to paddle his pontoon boat all the way across the lake as a result of a sheered pin or lost propeller. I tried my best to avoid that same problem.
So while drifting is nice, it can not go on for long, can it? Danger can result from being lulled into sleep while drifting.
Spiritually it is the same. When times are great seem to be the times we drift the most. These are the times when everyone is well. No financial crisis occurs. Family members are compliant with each other.
So we enjoy the lack of conflict or trouble and sometimes, drift.
Revelation warns us to be studious, to be diligent, to watch for imitators of Jesus' love and false prophets. We are not to let ourselves drift from daily prayer and reading God's Word and seeking His will...even in the pleasant moments of life.
Perhaps especially in those pleasant moments of life we should seek Jesus all the more so we are not unprepared, so we can see and adjust for the rocks, the hidden dangers, and the conflicts that eventually come with this life.
Yes, it is OK to enjoy these quiet times of life, the drifting, but not without God by our side, not without God conversing in our hearts, not without God enjoying the time with us. Don't you know He wants to enjoy drifting with us and not just be called upon in times of trouble? Just as I want my daughter to enjoy spending fun time with me and not just call upon me when she needs money or help with homework, God wants to smile with us as we enjoy His creation.
I hope you are enjoying this time of life...
drifting with God.
For His Glory,
Saturday, June 25, 2011
I felt overwhelmed in the middle of a fabric store! I don't know why I thought it would be sew easy (pun intended) to run in and grab a pattern, fabric, supplies for my daughter's upcoming sewing camp.
As I looked at the books of patterns from which we should chose, I flashed back to my senior year in high school. I had one elective to find, and I thought I will try to learn to sew. The first day, to my dismay, I found I was the only beginner in an advanced sewing class. The project the other girls were working on was designing and creating the pom-pom squad uniforms for the fall!
The teacher assured me it would be O.K. However, as time passed, I realized I was on my own to learn.
It got worse.
Being anal even then, I did not want to fail this course. I was a straight-A student and planned on staying that way. After selecting a simple A-line dress, I sought out my grandmother's dear friend, an elderly lady who hand-sewed all her own clothes.
This sweet woman could barely see anything, but she could stitch the smallest stitches anyone ever saw! She showed me some approaches to use without a machine since all the machines in class were claimed for the advanced students' projects.
When the final exam came, I was to wear my dress, if you could call it that. One sleeve was at my elbow, the other below my fingers; the hem was long in front and short in back.
My teacher looked at me modeling the results of my hard work and broke out in tears from laughter. I joined her.
She apologized for overlooking me during the rush and applauded my tiny stitches asking more about the elderly lady who befriended me.
I got an "A."
-Yet vowed never to go near a sewing class again. I envied my friend who sewed her own homecoming dress and had amazing results, but I would not attempt such success.
Today, then, I guess I forgot about that experience as I entered JoAnn's Fabric Store. Seeing rows and rows of bolts with different patterns and textures, searching through books for THE right pattern my daughter wanted, seeking "notions" that accompany the pattern, I asked four different women for help. Finally, I capitulated as my daugther insisted on an American Girl coat pattern, purple heavy fabric, dragon flies for appliques and paid the $43.00 at the check-out counter. I then realized, $43.00! I could go to the American Girl store and buy at least two outfits for such a doll. Maybe more!
Oh, well, my heart was still pounding and head realing from my sewing search in the store. It seemed like a special secret club in that store. It was packed. People were discussing cuts and bias and styles and things I don't even understand. Mathmaticians would have been proud as person after person calculated yardage.
I now reflect on how many "clubs" are in our society. Ever been to a golf course? Golfers, too, have their own language and code of conduct. Tennis clubs, ice skating, cyclists, hikers, ....we humans seems to develop our own vocabulary for areas of our interest that can tend to set us apart or even separate us, intentionally or not intentionally.
I think about the Bible story of the Tower of Babel. Man's goal was to reach the heavens. God was not pleased with the intent. Man wanted glory for man, not God.
As a result, God separated man, divided man's language and interests.
I pray my interests and "clubs" do not exclude God nore intentionally exclude others. Do I use "Christianese" language that allienates those around me? God wants to include everyone in His love and mercy.
Jesus is even delaying His return so that He does not lose any soul, but gives every person ample opportunity to know Him personally.
So I am watching my own speech today, my terms, my "club-speak." It does not mean I stop talking about God. It just means I watch lapsing into a vocabulary I take for granted about Jesus, vocabulary or terms that non believers can find confusing.
In the meantime, I am going to wash the fabric, hoping it doesn't shrink as we prepare for Monday's camp. I just don't want to journey back to memory lane in the fabric store.
For His Glory,
Friday, June 24, 2011
Last night, I watched two more newscasts about how easy it is to breach the security, especially if one uses facebook.
Of course, fear gripped my heart. I then began reflecting on my use of facebook. The primary reason I went on facebook a few years ago was at the insistence of my sister and sister-in-law. They both posted most of their pictures of their families and events on there. One of them told me she would no longer send me e-mail pictures because it was much easier to use facebook, and I just needed to get with the rest of the world and use facebook.
She was right. I was able to see pictures of family miles away much more easily. Now, though, I realize the primary reason I use facebook is to share what God has put on my heart. Do I really need to continue doing this? Is that prompting still from God?
The blog certainly is. God knows my need to write and share. --But does it need to be facebook? What is facebook primarily used for by most folks?
For me, it has been wonderful to connect with a former middle school friend in California, Becky. What an amazing Christian woman! It has been great to share Tabby's healing from cancer as well as to ask for prayer requests.
Yet, I worry. Is facebook a place I seek affirmation? I have that weakness, you know. I have always for some odd reason sought affirmation. It is why I went to graduate school, sought positions of recognition, and probably even write this blog to some degree.
God is really working on that need in my life. My affirmation must come from pleasing Him, from Him, not others. As long as I seek it from others, it will be like a bottomless pit in my soul, never being filled.
So I am praying about this. It may be time to say so long to something that can be somewhat as addictive as my morning coffee, checking facebook.
No matter what, join me in thanking God for His unconditional love and affirmation through Jesus.
For His Glory,
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Reading Revelation is confusing at times. I think I am glad I don't know ALL about how the world will end though. I am relieved God decided NOT to explain EVERYTHING to my little pea-sized brain. It would overwhelm me. I think I am not alone in that because God did decide NOT to reveal or disclose every detail to John in the visions He gave John.
I admit this is a change for me. I was such a control freak that I would read the end of a novel BEFORE starting it because I just could not stand the suspense. That is pretty pathetic for an English teacher to do, right? Right!
Also, I would fast forward to the end of movies rented if the suspense was just too great. I just had to know the ENDING!
You see if I knew the ending was sad or traumatic, I could chose NOT to read or watch.
What if, though, you knew the ending to your life and yet had no way to change or leave the situation?
Revelation gives glimpses of the end times for mankind and for this earth. It is not pretty. Such sadness and destruction awaits those who refuse to love God. Even those who do love God will experience death unless raptured first.
While reading Revelation I realize I have struggled the past three years and even quite lately with the glimpses of the end of life I had in seeing my parents die. The aging process for each of them was painful. Chronic heart disease for my father and Parkinson's for my mother put an end to the many simple pleasures they enjoyed with each other and family members. My dad had to learn to rely on others for help, something it seems the Depression and WWII generation folks did not like to do. They had a self-sufficient spirit.
I tell you, Dear Reader, that after seeing my parents die, I felt the end of the story had been spoiled for me. I often thought with fear, "Will this be my own end? Will I be in a nursing home, striving to get attention for help to go to the bathroom? Will I yearn for a visit from someone who is busy with kids or work or pleasure? Will I not be able to read the Bible because of failing eyesight? Will I beg for someone just to take me out of the house that can become my prison for an hour...to shop...to the store...to church? Will I depend upon someone to bathe me like a child? Will I...."
I even have thought....all of life seems to be waiting for the next bad thing to happen. We live in a fallen world, and the in between times are really the good times in between bad news. Bad news is the norm of this life.
Yes, very depressing thoughts. I can tend to bend that direction all too easily.
Thank God for Revelation though, and Matthew, Mark, Luke, John....The ending my parents experienced is NOT their ending. There is no end to any human being's story.
The death and destruction in Revelation is not the end of the Believers in Jesus! Believers in the end times will join my parents. My parents are living forever in heaven with work, meaning, health, and most importantly the love of Jesus.
We will not get out of the fallen world easily, I know. Aging is not fun. When I get depressed though, I will remember the last book in the Bible, Revelation.
There is no ending of our story, only a TO BE CONTINUED in heaven.
How sure are you of where your story will be spent after time on earth? I pray you join me in the to be continued version with Jesus.
For His Glory,
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
She kept calling and leaving me messages, but I really didn't want to hear what I knew the news was going to be. My friend is moving to Texas. (Stop cheering, you Texas fans.)
Her daughter was my daughter's first good friend at school. They met in a preschool camp and immediately clicked.
Being the oldest Mom in my daughter's school it was nice to meet someone NOT in her 20's who was still working part-time and trying to keep up with her toddler son and daughter. We shared a lot over the past four years.
I knew though from her stories that she was a Texas girl at heart and missed living in Texas especially during the many St. Louis ice storms.
So it was hard when she asked for prayer to help her make the right decision on whether or not to move and take a great job offer. She was so excited.
I kept thinking how I need to be happy for her. How oblivious she seems to be to my daughter's hurt and my own feeling of loss.
But that is the way it is, isn't it? People come and go. Life changes. Nothing stays the same. It even seems to get worse as I age.
Or perhaps it is that because I age, I long even more for things to remain the same?
My daughter loves to play the game of LIFE lately. I notice there are no cards or spaces that say, "Your friend is moving away. Go home and sulk." No advice cards either.
So, my friend is moving away. I pretend to be happy. I am glad she has a great new life ahead, but I have to hide my own mourning or at least sense of loss.
Some of you reading this understand. Others won't.
I am thankful God understands more than anyone, though. Jesus knew what it was like to lose friends. He also understood the fickleness of human emotion. Loyalty came and went for him. His best friends left him alone to suffer death.
I know. My friend leaving is no where as dire as what Jesus experienced, but the fact that He experienced it means He understands my little space of grief.
Even if my friend does not.
May You rest in the knowledge that God understands your reaction to Life Changes.
-And as Life does change, we all rest in the understanding that He is Constant and our Rock amid small and large disappointments.
For His Glory,
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Did I tell you how amazing Revelation is? I know. I am being repetitive, but I am learning so much...or at least discovering how much I did not know.
For example, have you ever heard of the Colossus of Rhodes? My husband, a former history teacher, had. It wasn't until I read in Revelation 10 about the giant angel coming with one foot on the land and one on the sea before opening yet another seal for the end times that I saw a reference to this Wonder of the Ancient World.
It appears it was the statue of the Greek god, Helios on the island of Rhodes. It was 107 feet tall supposedly. When John wrote about the angel appearing with this scroll of the end times, many of his readers probably pictured this Colossus statue. The statue was later destroyed by an earthquake (or so some scholars report).
The voice of the giant angel sounded to John like seven thunders. I let my imagination go to the image of such an enormous creature.
It was frightening! I rarely have let myself go past figurative language in Revelation to thinking of actual creatures sent by God for the end times. The sight in my mind was horrific.
In addition, the other night our house literally shook or vibrated from the rolling thunder we experienced with yet another wave of nighttime storms. Our bed actually shook awakening even my deeply snoring-nothing-ever-wakes-him-up-husband!
For those of you used to earthquakes, we MidWesteners are not accustomed to being awkakened at 2:00 AM with vibrating homes. The thunder was so deep it seemed to engulf our home!
I tried to imagine having a giant angel speak in such a thunderous voice. This sight is more intimidating than any Hollywood movie.
Then I felt peace. I read where God would not let His wrath pour out on those marked as His believers. God did not send us Revelation to frighten us as believers, but to help us remember to stay watchful, to understand HE is in control, and He has us in the palm of His hand.
In the slience.
In the thunder.
God will not withhold His judgment on evil. He will not let sin go unpunished.
So I prayed today, "Come, Jesus, come!" When He does, evil will be defeated. The happy ending to our stories in Christ will be finally revealed for all to see and hear!
As we wait for that day, may we keep our feet planted firmly on God's Word and watch for His return.
No earthquake to shake our faith. No need of a Colossus to remind us of who is in control.
For His glory,
Monday, June 20, 2011
One of my favorite events marking summer in St. Louis is attending the free Shakespeare in the Park production. The atmosphere of families with picnic dinners, lawn chairs, blankets, and watching strolling madrigal singers, fire twirlers, jugglers, and actors roaming the audience as they get "in character" make for a memorable evening.
Each year we marvel at the different approaches or "takes" directors have for retelling the Shakespeare stories. This year, for example, the director decided to use a 50's setting and costuming for TAMING OF THE SHREW, resulting in a fun evening for the 5000 folks gathered.
I especially enjoy these evenings because I, like my mother, am a people-watcher. Are you one, too? I used to get embarrassed when my mother watched people so much. She just enjoyed seeing all the different faces, attire, and interactions. I am now as bad as she was. It is pure entertainment for me.
Planting our lawn chairs I noted the different types of people gathered for this universal event. The families in their preppy, polo shirts and sandals with plaid knee-length shorts carrying the traditional wicker basket, fold-out table upon which they set their bottle of wine, glasses, assorted cheeses, and saran-wrapped sandwiches. I noticed one such mother even had even cut the crust off each sandwich. Then there were the more Bohemian members strolling in Birkenstocks, comfortable clothes resembling draped scarves, wildly blowing hair, arriving two minutes before performance thinking they would find a spot in the audience amid the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. I figured my family and I fell somewhere between the anal and abstract.
What does this have to do with God though? I was soaking in the perfect night. The breeze, setting sun, lack of humidity, birds singing, people laughing, and I saw it. There was the crowd-controller-guy. For him, tonight was far from perfect.
You see, his job was to keep people behind the lines marked off for walking aisles. There were little lights marking a pathway in the grass for once the sun set. His job was to make sure no lawn chairs or blankets went over the established, yet temporary lines.
Of course the closer the time came for the play to begin, the more people pushed the boundaries. Over and over, I watched him explain that folks putting their blankets and baskets down had to pick them up and move. As the routine continued I noticed the different reactions to him. Some were, "Oh, Sorry, O.K." While others became indignant and even angry.
I did not envy his job. I had had some very similar to his in my past. Being an arena usher at college concerts was a rude awakening at the abuse people could dish out.
I thought back to previous devotions about my own expectations. How would I have reacted? Would I have argued, pointing out there was plenty of room? Would I have walked away in a huff? Would I have expected to have been treated differently from others?
Or...would I have turned the other cheek, muttered a "sorry," and continued my search?
God tells us to show compassion to others. Jesus demonstrated compassion over and over again in the Bible and continues to do so today for His believers.
So I wonder, as others people-watch me, do they see Jesus?
How about you?
I pray they do for each of us.
For His Glory,
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Revelation is truly an amazing read!
I hope you have read it or are joining me. If so, you understand my experience.
Today, in Revelation 8, the Seventh Seal was opened. When this seal was opened, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.
Usually, I would've breezed by that, but not today. It hit me what 30 minutes of silence in heaven would seem like.
I mean, have YOU ever had 30 minutes of just silence lately? No television, podcast, Itunes, cell phone vibrating, people talking, computer screen tasks....?
I thought about that challenge. What would it be like to have 30 minutes of silence just focused on God today?
What would be different as a result? Could I do it?
I am considering trying it.
In addition to Revelation, I read Daniel 4. I was so surprised (yes, again) to see that after the fiery furnace experience in seeing the three young men survive his punishment, King Nebuchadnezzar still relied on his magicians, astrologers, and self instead of God. I mean, what does it take?
It obviously took more for him to get it. One more dream. One more interpretation.
Seven years of insanity as a result before he came to the point of saying," His dominion is an eternal dominion; ...He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven...No one can hold back his hand or say to him, 'What have you done?'"
The King liked worshiping gods he felt he could control. With that control came so much pride in his accomplishments, and he did have a lot of accomplishments. Yet he never recognized the source of his achievements. As a result, in mid-boast, God struck him with insanity and banished him from his kingdom for seven years before the king finally returned and not only professed God's greatness but also God's control over all things and people.
In reflecting, I am sure God feels the same way about me. I mean what does it take for me to get it some days? God has done so much for me, but there are still times I lapse into CONTROL issues. There I times I seek help or solace from earthly sources rather than God (ever hear of comfort food?).
I am not much different than King Nebuchadnezzar. I'm few million dollars poorer, but I'm not that much in forgetting at times who is in control of this life.
Forgive me, God, in my 30 minutes of silence today. Help me focus on you and your love. You and your mercy. You.
The presence of God in the silence is sweet.
For His Glory,
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Be careful what you whine about...
I've been told that and even told others that as well.
Today I experienced it.
I wanted a hot cup of coffee this morning, but not just any cup. I wanted a Skinny Caramel Machiatto from Starbucks. Grande!
You see I am a new coffee drinker. At my old age, I have discovered the joy of sitting with a hot cup in my hand and sipping as I wake up.
Today, after dropping my daughter off at soccer, I thought I would indulge by going to a drive-through Starbucks and getting a quick SCMGrande.
Did I say, "Quick"?
The line seemed to take forever. When I arrived at the window, I sat for a full three minutes waiting and waiting. Staring ahead at the parking lot.
Then it happened. In front of my eyes a car swooshed in front of me slamming into the guard rail which was the only thing preventing it from going into major traffic.
It was going at such speed that it repeatedly backed up and rammed the rail until finally coming to a stop.
Just as it finished, the window slid open and a sweet voice said, "Here is your Grande Skinny Caramel Machiatto." I looked up at her smile, and thought..."Just a few minutes earlier and I would have been slammed into by that car unexpectedly!"
Just a few minutes could have made a difference between life and death or at least severe injury.
And here I was ready to gripe about my coffee wait!
Oh my, what must go on behind the curtains of heaven!
Thank you God for your protection today.
I am praising Him as I sip my SCMGrande.
For His Glory,
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
My 10-yr. old daughter and I are reading Daniel this summer.
While I remember the story from my Sunday School childhood days, I am seeing parts that truly surprise me and apply to more areas of my life than I thought possible.
(Isn't that the way the Bible is, though? God's Word touches our lives where we are at the moment of reading it.)
Today, we read about Meschach, Shadrach, and Abendigo refusing to bow down to Nebachanezur's 90+foot gold statue. We know that the king became angry and declared they would be burned in the fiery furnace he had built as a result.
Even when facing this choice, the three young men made a surprising declaration.
They declared that their God could save them, BUT if He chose not to do so, they would still not bow down!
Whoa! I seemed to have missed that part as a child. My daughter and I talked about the choice of still obeying and loving God when it looks like no rescue will come.
That is the most difficult decision to make, isn't it? As a Christian, I like to think I get extra privileges for safety and healing because of my relationship with God.
What do I do when I don't see a rescue though? Am I determined and strong enough in my faith like these three young men to say, "NO MATTER WHAT THE FIRE DOES, I'M HIS!"?
Recently, my sister-in-law Tabby had this same experience. You may recall her from previous blogs. She went through the fire of liver and colon cancer. Her healing was miraculous.
That was a few months ago. Suddenly, she began experiencing pain in the same area again. Blood test were required.
She had to wait all weekend and through Monday for the results. Those of you who have had tests, know the pain and fear that come with waiting for results. She had restless nights, but kept her focus on God. The fire surrounded her in the dark, quiet nights as others slept in her home and she struggled with the fear of returning cancer.
She declared once again, "Please, remove this from my body, but if it is not your will, be with me. Hold me. Give me peace."
No matter what the results of the fire, God was with her.
And...once again, good news! Her blood test results are even better than before she stopped chemo!
The pain is still there. More tests will take place to determine that cause, but we continue to pray for healing and relief from pain.
What fire are you going through today? Loss of job, stress, disease, loneliness, depression?
God is with you through your fire. Make a choice to stand with God, won't you, no matter what the results of that fire? Stand firm. Put on the whole armor of God. Keep your helmet of salvation on as your thoughts try to turn to darkness and fear.
The God of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abendigo as well as the God of Tabby, the God of so many other witnesses (Hebrews 12) who have gone before, is standing in the fire with you.
For His Glory,
Monday, June 13, 2011
My husband loves to camp in the woods.
His passion for the outdoors is one of the attributes that first attracted me to him.
I always love going for a walk in the woods.
However, my husband's walks go on for days. The further away from civilization, the better for him.
For me, I will take a day out and then a nice return to a clean hotel room and bathroom facility will do.
When we first married, we could not afford hotels. As starting teachers we enjoyed traveling across the U.S.
Our accommodation? A pup tent much like the one in the picture, not the elaborate one either. KOA campground guides became our "Bible" for travel. We did not care about the weather or the camp site. We just explored as long as the daylight would let us, returning only to our little tent when absolutely necessary.
I can not imagine doing that today. My old bones would not take it. -And no airconditioning for this post menopausal body? Forget it.
Today, I thought about tents again. This morning, taking my daughter to soccer camp, we were dismayed seeing large, cold rain drops plop on our car window. Soon a downpour came.
Trying to fit in a morning at camp, the instructors sent the kids out on the field in the sheets of rain. Worried parents stood on the sidelines with umbrellas.
Soon thunder, then lightning cancelled the morning camp session. Drenched children and agitated parents filed back to cars and home to figure out the day's summer activity schedule.
We could have used a tent, I thought. I nice, big tent. Even for the hot, humid sun when it returns. A tent would provide shelter from storms as well as intense sun.
I opened my Bible after putting soccer clothes in the dryer and read much to my surprise Revelation 7:17,"....those who believe are under His tent...."
I like that. I like being under God's protective tent. My body may be beaten up by the aging process or disease, but my soul is eternally under His tent.
--And that tent, Dear Reader, is not like the little pup tent my husband and I depended upon as we travelled across the country. It is God's tent.
I picture it much more suitable for caring and love and shelter than anything I have imagined,even more than the elaborate tent pictured at the top.
Thank you, Jesus, for your tent of love over each of us today!
For His Glory,
Sunday, June 12, 2011
The irony of this message is that it happened the day I wrote about how our names are permanently written on a white rock in heaven as believers.
Then I noticed all the names of the "Followers" of my devotional blog have been deleted. Going on line, I saw I was not alone. Numerous blogs have experienced permanent loss of followers' names. Followers are also struggling to sign in to such blogs.
I don't know the reason nor the technology to fix this. I have tried.
So now, what do I do? I have been sharing this daily devotional instead of writing a second book. I felt God placed that on my heart.
But now, no one may be able to read this blog, so I write for His glory but to no one who can read this?
It is a conundrum.
Should anyone be able to read this today, I am so glad as Follower of Jesus that my name will never be deleted nor will yours. We have blessed assurance that Jesus loves us, is passionate about us, and is with us.
No delete buttons.
No technical errors.
For His Glory,
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Yes, we just returned from paradise!
Leaving behind tornadoes, 99 degree weather, humidity, cicadas swarming our yard, and even a small earthquake, my little family journeyed to a once-in-our-lifetime event, the Big Island.
I admit, I am not as great a traveler as I used to be. In my youth, I dreamed of traveling the world and escaping my all-too-small town. I used to drive to the small airport in Marion and just sit in the parking lot wishing to be on one of those small planes going to a city, then another city, then another....
I married a man who also loved to travel. And we did! No tourist packages, mind you. We were on a budget. So we drove around Europe, unable to speak any other language than our own. It was an adventure!It also made for great marriage-making moments!
Now, though, flying is stressful to me! Trying to figure out what size contact container, lotions, dealing with x-ray machines, and packing everything I need into a small carry-on to avoid airline fees seems to panic me as I stand in the long security lines.
For LAX we had to arrive 2 hours early. Oh, yes, we also had three connecting flights with layovers in order to get to Hawaii.
But, my whining is not the point. I had to face my stress and fears and decide it was now time to help my 10-yr. old daughter enjoy seeing the wonders God had created outside of St. Louis. Packing our small bags, we braved security lines, sat in overcrowded airports, and arrived in beautiful Hawaii.
At first, it did not seem beautiful. As we drove from Kona airport, I thought I had landed on the moon instead! Ugly, black lava rock surrounded us. Not a palm tree in sight! Then I saw white rocks used as graffiti to spell out names, declarations of love, and messages of hope along the road.
I found it humorous how we as humans desire one thing: To be remembered.
We want folks to know our names, don't we? We want to feel we matter. -That our time walking on this earth makes a difference.
That is what graffiti is all about for most people. Here on this island, it was no different. Visitors from around the world gathered white rocks and used the jagged lava as their slates on which to write their names.
Upon seeing those names spelled out in white pebbles, I flashed immediately to Revelation. I had just read about how the names of the saints or believers would be written on a white rock.
The image made no impression upon me until I saw acre after acre of white rock names.
I like the image!
I like knowing God knows MY name!
I like knowing I make a difference with God!
So do you!
Never doubt that, Dear Reader!
Revelation 2:17 To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.
Once we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we receive a new name, a new heart forever!
As a result, we will not have to worry about connecting flights or stressful lines. We have a reservation in a paradise with which Hawaii can never compare!
I'm planning on seeing you there!
For His Glory,