A Fresh Start

This year I stayed up with my Granddaughter, Arianna until midnight.  We started a fire,  watched movies,  made gingerbread houses from a kit. She insisted we write down resolutions.  I have quit doing resolutions years ago, but when pressured by a 10 year old I caved and got out a notebook. Here is my list. (I know enough not to make it long.)

Daily goals

1 – Morning and evening Bible reading.

2 – Play my guitar

3 – Practice my harp – (Something I was going to learn years ago.)

4 – Practice violin with Arianna – She has been patiently waiting for me to teach her.

5 – Write 100 words.

I am hoping I stick with this list of five, but the one that is the most important to me is #1. My life accounts for nothing if I don’t know the one who created me. He has written a living book. One that speaks if we listen. One that changes us if we let it.

Praying you find daily time to be in His Word.

“Make the Book live to me, O Lord,

Show me Thyself within Thy Word.

Show me myself and show me my Savior,

And make the Book live to me.” – R. Hudson Pope

Lost and Found

He (Will) climbed into the box himself.

Boxes intrigue him.

Most he can get in and out of himself. This one was different.

After a minute or two he had had enough and found himself stuck. Struggling to get out, he looked up.  His father was there watching and with strong arms lifted him out. Will smiled as he looked right into his father’s face.

The sign says it all…

I couldn’t help but think of how this plays out in all of our lives. We were made to be with God.

Face to face, spending our lives in His presence. Fulfilling our destiny.

Instead we are distracted by selfish pursuits, by temporary things, by boxes.

 …and soon we find ourselves lost, in trouble, unable to get out of the box we have crawled into.

Like Will we have a Father who is watching. One who longs for us to look up into His face.

But it isn’t so he can get us out of boxes. It is so he can know us, that we can know Him. The road won’t always be easy. He won’t always protect us from the hard bits, but He will be with us through good and bad.

 “I will look for the lost, and I will bring back the strayed;” Ezekiel 34:16a

“For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.” Matthew 18:11

For further study: Luke 15

Free download – Redeemed Bible Study https://windowsofhisgrace.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/redeemed-2014-august.pdf

Photo credit: Jonathan Pickering

Living with Anxiety

As a child I was afraid of the dark. I was especially afraid of noises in the dark. I remember one particular dark night when there was an unfamiliar noise coming from outside. When my Dad said goodnight he noticed my distress.  I heard him go outside for a few minutes and then come to my bedroom. He asked me to follow him so he could show me how the tree branches were rubbing against the house. That was the offending unfamiliar noise. He tucked me back into bed, the noise explained, my anxiety subsided.

I was anxious. My Dad was there to ease my fears. He was with me, close at hand. He didn’t scold me for being afraid.

There is a verse in Philippians that talks about anxiety.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Too often this verse is used as a club to shame a fellow Christian who is struggling. The “club” is often wielded by someone who hasn’t walked through dark waters.

I think the verses in Philippians are meant to reassure us, not scold or shame us. It simply says if we go to our Father, His unexplainable peace will enfold us. He has promised to be with us. He can be trusted to keep His word.

But this is the hard bit.

He doesn’t promise to take us out of the trouble, but in verse 9 he promises something better.

“…and the God of peace will be with you.”

We need Him desperately. We don’t always know how desperately we need Him. When trouble comes we find out how valuable His presence is. Bit by bit we learn to depend on Him. The longer we are by His side the more we can relax in His presence. We don’t gain self-confidence we gain God-confidence.

Being with my dad on that dark night reassured me. My circumstance hadn’t changed. The night was still dark. The noise was still there, but my dad was there to be with me.

How much more can my heavenly Father reassure me. In my anxiety I can turn to the only one who can ease my fears.  Believe it. Cling to His promise.

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b

The Fringes of His Ways

(Glacier National Park)

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Psalm 121:1-2

He stretches out the north over empty space, And hangs the earth on nothing. Job 26:7

He wraps up the waters in His clouds; And the cloud does not burst under them. He obscures the face of the full moon, And spreads His cloud over it. Job 26:8-9

By His breath the heavens are cleared; Job 26:13 (NASB)

Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who provides rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. Psalm 147:8 (NASB)

Let the rivers clap their hands; Let the mountains sing together for joy before the Lord; Psalm 98:8-9a (NASB)

Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him! Job 26:13 (NASB)

Before the mountains were born, Or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. Psalm 90:2(NASB)

Time has Flown

I looked around the room and wondered where the time had gone. I remember being a child with all  these people and now most of us are grandparents or great grandparents. Our outer shell has changed, but the same people are still inside.

My sisters and I were at a family reunion. My father was one of eleven children. Two of my dad’s youngest brothers were there to celebrate the day with us.  

It was a day of remembering, of catching up, of meeting new people, of laughing at old jokes and some new ones. We sang old and new songs. My cousin Cindy’s husband, Les Mau, gave a short message, since it was Sunday. As we sat and listened we heard him say.

“Don’t miss heaven.” If there is anything our grandparents or parents would say to us it is “Don’t miss heaven.” I can’t get it out of my mind.

We are so busy living our lives, finding our place, accumulating things that we forget to tell those we love…”Don’t miss heaven.” Nothing else matters. Nothing.

And so dear reader, if you have followed me for any length of time, I want to tell you. “Don’t miss heaven.” This life isn’t all there is. We were made for eternity. Don’t get distracted by the here and now and forget about what comes next.

I have been reading through some of my Dad’s old notes. There is a theme. There was an urgency to his life. Our time is short. With eternity in view 80 years is nothing. Here is what my Dad laid out again and again.

We should run to Christ. – “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12

If we run to Christ He will accept us. – “and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37b

All should repent. – “…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

We have strong encouragement – “…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, “ Hebrews 6:18b – 19a

Gospel in a nutshell –  “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation…for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” Romans 10:9, 10, 13

The message is simple. There is nothing I can do to earn it.

No one is beyond His reach.

None of us know how long we have.

I am looking forward to someday leaving this earth and going to heaven. I hope to see you there.

“Don’t miss heaven.”

If you have any questions please contact me through my blog.

Help for the Helpless

“Please don’t kill it!” she sobbed. “It’s unfair.” … “Fern,” he said gently, “you will have to learn to control yourself.”

“Control myself?” yelled Fern. “This is a matter of life and death, and you talk about controlling myself.”

Tears ran down her cheeks and she took hold of the ax and tried to pull it out of her father’s hand. …

“But it’s unfair,” cried Fern. “The pig couldn’t help being born small, could it? If I had been very small at birth, would you have killed me?” … “This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of.”

And so begins one of the most beloved children’s stories, Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.

I’ve felt like Fern this week. Another state, Illinois, is celebrating the fact that children are disposable. They live at the whim of their mother and her doctor. They aren’t considered precious. All of their protections have been removed up until the day of delivery. The picture of the governor gleefully signing it into law made me sick to my stomach. (See link to the article below.)

This is a very personal issue to me. All three of our children are adopted. I have two nephews that are also adopted. Four of those 5 children have 10 children between them. That is fifteen people who might be missing from my family if laws like this were enacted thirty years ago. I have a hard time with the “celebrations” going on.

A few months ago New York signed into law a similar bill and they lit up the capital to celebrate.

I have heard all the arguments. I have cried with and looked into the eyes of women who have had abortions and are now suffering greatly from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I can’t fathom what the agenda of the legislators is, but it isn’t the protection and care of women.

Killing babies isn’t a new idea. Pharaoh ordered all the male Israelite babies to be thrown into the Nile. Plain and simple, he was racist. He didn’t like that the Israelites were prospering. He thought there were too many of them in the land.

Herod was another tyrant who had all the boys two and under killed in Bethlehem because he was afraid of a usurper.

Throughout history civilizations have sacrificed their children to their gods in an attempt to earn favor.

The God of the Bible has a very different view of children. Israel was to treat their children differently than the pagan nations around them.

“You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.” Deuteronomy 12:31 (NASB)

I believe each life has purpose and meaning. We are each made in the image of God. There is no less or more important. When we stop protecting the most vulnerable among us, our society has lost its foundation.

To quote Fern…”This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of.”

I pray our country changes direction.

For further study:  Jeremiah 1:5; Mark 10:14-15; Romans 5:6

 

https://world.wng.org/content/illinois_governor_signs_extreme_abortion_law?fbclid=IwAR2PVOKpY5-4_-bvQlIQhQr0F-29TPtzzAnMbCNke3VwL3gu03oX-zka4tA#.XQFsBfv6TMM.facebook

Praying with Conviction

I was reminded recently of my cousin who attended the local university where I grew up. He lived in an all men’s dorm at the time. There was one fellow who really wanted to be married.  He started praying for a wife and as time passed felt impressed that a certain young woman was the one for him. He approached her and told her what he felt God had told him. Other men heard his story and followed suit. Each prayed a respectable amount of time and then approached the woman they felt certain God had given them. As word got around campus of what was happening the women started responding with…”Well, God hasn’t told me and until He does I have no interest in dating, let alone marrying, you.”

Praying is always a good idea. We need to pray more, but we shouldn’t use it as a tool to manipulate others who might not agree with us. Many people pray. Many people come up with different conclusions. Who is to be believed as having the word from God? I find that my prayers are colored by my desires. I am still human and my heart is deceitful. I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have this heart issue. I can respect someone, but that doesn’t mean I agree with everything they come up with when they are in prayer.

I am reluctant to proclaim…”I have prayed about it and this is what God wants!” Often the reality is “…I have prayed about it and this is what I want.”

So how do we pray? How do we know when the conclusions we come up with are the right ones?

A good place to start is to be honest with God. Lay out your desires and your wants, but also lay out your desire to follow His lead. To be ready to take yes or no as the answer. To be uncertain enough in our own ability to know the truth that we won’t be disappointed when God takes us down another path. Maybe one that is unexpected.

I am the most at peace in prayer when I leave the end result up to God. To explore possibilities on my knees is better than pushing my agenda.

This makes me think of a verse in Psalms.

“He gave them their request, But sent leanness into their soul.” Psalm 106:15

Am I so determined to get my way that God gives me my request?

God’s ways are not my ways. I long to be so close to Him that there is no doubt about each step I take, but until I step into glory that will not be the case. So in the mean time I pray. I pray for wisdom. I pray for grace as other brothers and sisters come up with different conclusions. I pray that God is at work in each of us to make us more like Him. And in the end that might be more of the point than all the grand plans we are determined to set in motion.