Accepted or Contaminated

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We just spent a few days in Door County. For those of you not from Wisconsin, Door County is on a peninsula in Northern Wisconsin. It is surrounded by Lake Michigan on one side and Green Bay on the other. We have been going up since our kids were little. Now we go with our grandchildren. It feels like our second home.

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Things have changed. It was no longer the welcoming place we remember. While some of the shop keepers we have known for years were friendly, many were not.

One store required masks that they approved. (check)

Use their hand-sanitizer. (check)

Knock on the door and they will let you in if they aren’t at their capacity of four. (check)

When the clerk came out to let us in we were informed that the two year old was not allowed. Why? Because he wasn’t wearing a mask and they knew even if we put one on him it wouldn’t stay in place.

Did I mention it was a toy store?

Another store required a mask. (Check)

Use their hand-sanitizer. (Check)

Stay socially distanced. (Check)

I came in alone the clerk being the only other person in the store. The clerk stopped me to say that if I touched anything not to put it back on the shelf, but to put it on the table for contaminated things. They would have to sanitize it.

Later at one of the parks in the area we came across a sign at the trail head.

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So we were required to clean our shoes as we entered and exited the trail.

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When we met the few other people on the trails we noticed they had masks on…outdoors…in the wind…

I guess we didn’t get the memo. They looked at us with suspicion and moved way off the trail when they met us.

If Covid has given you stress there is something even more pressing that you should be concerned about.

What about Heaven? Will we be allowed in?

No sin or germs allowed.

Hand sanitizer won’t be strong enough to make us clean.

Socially distancing will not be an option there. We must be perfect.

But miracle of miracles I will be allowed to enter.

Why???

Not because I am sinless or free of germs, but because Christ’s blood has made me clean. Since there is no hope of any of us being perfect we look to God’s perfect Son, Jesus who died in our place. His death on the cross has settled the matter.

To think that a perfect God would allow me into His perfect heaven is too wonderful to comprehend.

I will be accepted.

I will be loved.

I will be welcome.

God, Himself will wipe away my tears.

He is preparing a place for me.

Is He preparing a place for you?

Have you accepted His offer of eternal Life to any who would put their trust in His Son, who died for your sins and mine?

Neither of us knows what tomorrow holds. He might call us home tomorrow or next week or next year. Make sure you have made preparations. Put as much thought into your eternal health as you have been putting into your Co-vid avoidance.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22 (ESV)

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that were I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going…I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. John 14:2-4, 6 (ESV)

And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I John 5:11 & 12 (ESV)

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

“Let not your heart be troubled, believe in God, believe also in Me.”  John 14:1

Those are familiar words to all of us. Jesus was talking to his disciples. In a few short hours he would be arrested.

The current situation was alarming. Most of them had no idea how alarming it was.  They must have sensed Jesus was on edge, but even though he had tried to tell them of the trouble that was coming they couldn’t comprehend it.

He tried shifting their gaze from earthly trouble to heavenly peace. (John 14:2-3) It is a good place to rest our eyes. These days of sickness, unrest and trouble have been taking it’s toll on our children, our families, our countries, and our world. I can’t remember another time like this in my life. There have been wars, and local trouble, but this trouble is world wide.

What kind of power could make this such a world wide event? I can think of only one. Satan, himself. He is determined to destroy men and turn them against each other and more importantly against God.

We are reminded in Ephesians 6:12

“for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

My granddaughter, Arianna asked me the other day why God didn’t come and make the new heaven and the new earth now. (II Peter 3:13) Why was He waiting?

I paused, because I long for that too.  My answer was simple.

God is very patient. He is waiting for those that might yet decide to come to Him.

II Peter 3:8-9 “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but is patient towards you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” 

Are you one of those He is waiting for? Have you turned to Him in repentance and accepted His forgiveness?

We each have a great need. Our sin has separated us from a holy God. Because He loves us He has made a way for us to come back to Him. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. Paid for our sin. He rose three days later and conquered death.  He asks us to repent and believe.

Repentance involves a change of direction.  Turning away from selfish and worldly pursuits and a turning to God.

There is trouble now.

I don’t know if it will be temporary or if this is the beginning of the end.

Wouldn’t now be a good time to make things right with God?

Ezekiel 18:32 puts it simply. “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, declares the Lord, so repent and live.”

 

 For further study:

I Peter 5:8

“Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:28b

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Behold, now is the acceptable time, behold now is the day of salvation.” II Corinthians 6:2

And then the Sun Came Out

It had been raining for days. The rivers were rising. The farm fields had turned to ponds. Gardens were bedraggled and swamped.

Our rain gauge overflowed the 8″ mark at the top.

And then the sun came out…

 

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The tulips had survived the constant battering.

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The flowering trees suddenly had blooms.

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…and the trees that looked sad and lonely yesterday were dancing with joy today.

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It is all a reminder of God’s faithfulness. Even in the darkest times He is at work. Days of pelting rain had not destroyed His handiwork.

We are living through some dark times, but there will be a new day.

God is not absent. He is certainly not silent. We often can’t hear because we have grown deaf. He has promised to be with us. He has also promised that He is getting a place ready for us.

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”            John 14:1-3

And such a place it will be.

“Then He showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him;”  Revelation 22:1-3

So take heart. God is still watching. God will right the wrongs. It may seem dark, but a new day is coming.

“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

 

If you are uncertain about your eternal future there is a free Bible study link below. Please e-mail me or leave a message if you have any quetions.

For further study: redeemed-2014-august

 

 

 

 

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.

Teach us to Number our Days

January is more than half over and I am still contemplating what my goals should be for the new year. I attended too many funerals last year. There were at least half a dozen. January brought even more. It is a sad reminder that life is fleeting.

I have been settling in for the long haul and God reminds me that this life is just temporary. Heaven is waiting. This life that I cling to so fiercely will be but a flash when I am finally home with Him.

So what are my marching orders as I live day to day here? My husband pointed out to me the most mentioned command in the Bible. I was sure it was something about loving God and our neighbor. Ready?…

“Do not be afraid”  or “Do not fear”

God said it again and again. He said it to Abraham, Jacob, Joshua, Moses, the nation of Israel. He said it to Hagar, a slave girl, who was afraid her son was going to die of thirst in the desert.

The Psalms are full of the command.

Psalm 23:4 “…I fear no evil, for You are with me.”

Many of the prophets said it multiple times. (Isaiah 35:4; 41:10; 41:13)

God sent angels to give the message to Daniel, Zecharias, Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, women at the tomb.

Jesus also repeated it often to his disciples. Reminding them that they were worth more than the sparrows. (Matt. 10:31)

The command applies to me as well. “Do not fear!”  – Why? Because I have a God who is with me and guiding my steps.

He doesn’t promise that my path will be easy. There will still be trouble and funerals and dark days, but He is with me.  …and someday there will be no more crying. There will be no more sin. There will be no more fear.

For now I need to trust him with today. I need to have courage that he will provide the strength for what he has called me to do. I need to believe that this God, who cannot lie, will do more than I can ask or think. Knowing that this troubled life is but an instant compared to eternity.

 

“Be anxious for nothing, 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 comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Say to those with anxious heart, Take courage, fear not…” Isaiah 35:4

“For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, Do not fear, I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13

…a Time to Laugh

“For everything there is a season…a time to weep and a time to laugh.” Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 4a ESV

My father was an honest man. He took great pains to do the right thing, say the right thing. He avoided anything that looked bad. When we went in a store he would remind us not to touch anything we weren’t going to buy.

He also loved to laugh. He loved to hear and tell jokes as long as they were clean. He was a little challenged as far as telling jokes. His timing was often a little off. Sometimes he missed the punchline or told the punchline before he had told some crucial information. When we would pause and say… “I don’t get it.” He would start again, inserting the forgotten part and wait for us to laugh, but the moment was gone. It wasn’t funny anymore. I think that is partly why puns became his favorite humor. It is pretty hard to mess up a pun.

One day when I was about 8 my Dad and I were in the local Woolworth’s dime store. I asked if we could go down the toy aisle and he agreed. We had spent a few minutes looking over the selection when we came across a small white drawstring bag with the words “Laughing Bag” printed in big black letters. He wondered out loud what it could be and reached out his hand. Something was triggered and a big contagious laugh filled the aisle. My father turned a little pale, looked at me and in a desperate voice, of one who has been caught, said “Let’s get out of here!” I grabbed his hand and we high tailed it to the front door without looking back. We didn’t stop until we reached our car. I think we laughed all the way home.

I’ve thought of that “laughing bag” often. I wish I could have found one again and given it to him for his birthday. For a man who loved to laugh it would have been the perfect gift.

I miss hearing his laugh, but suspect one of the things he is learning to do is to tell a flawless joke. One that will make God’s heaven shake with laughter.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:21b NASB

Home at Last

We moved this past year. My husband retired and we decided to relocate. We moved to a new house with new neighbors, in a new town and found a new church.

It has been about a year and we still feel unsettled.  We feel a longing to be known.

To have someone look at us with eyes of recognition. To know our names and ask about our kids.

I long for community.

…To have people know my name and ever so much more,

…To know I enjoy music and art, taking walks, a good cup of tea and auctions.

…That I have a sense of humor, am a pretty good cook and can be a fiercely loyal friend if given the chance.

I want them to know my heart aches from old wounds and some not so old. Things you can’t blurt out when you are just getting to know someone. It takes time…lots of time.

So, as I struggle to fit into our new community, I look expectantly to someday heaven. It will be a place of perfect acceptance, a place without longing.

I’ve been told a place is being prepared. (John 14:1-3) A just right place, a perfect place, a belonging place that isn’t uncomfortable. A place without an awkward adjustment period.

I imagine being greeted with a bear hug by the God who was unapproachable and untouchable in the Old Testament accounts. (*see below) Now he has promised to wipe away my tears. (Revelation 21:4)

I will be immediately known and loved. Not because I am good, but because I belong to a great King who purchased my freedom at an awful price. (I Peter 1:18 & 19)

He saved me even knowing who I would be and what I would do. Loved me in spite of all of it. Why? For a purpose, to worship and serve Him.

He will integrate me seamlessly into the heavenly community; giving me a job that suits just me. One where I can contribute and feel helpful.

He will delight that I am there, at home with Him. At home with the one who has loved me since the foundation of the world. (Matthew 25:34)

And all of this will fade away. For I will be home at last.

 

 * God told Moses – “No man shall see me and live.” ( Exodus 33:20) ;                                Some men from Beth-shemesh looked into the ark and they were struck dead along with 50,070 others. (I Samuel 6:19);                                                                                                    Uzzah was killed for touching the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-7)

Looking for Home

He built most of it himself. It was a strong sturdy house with white siding and green trim. It started out as just four rooms. It was what they could afford. His brother, Clarence, helped him lay a basement foundation and then the new part of the house was built while we lived in the old part.

Electrical work, plumbing, windows. He did it all himself. One of the few things he hired out was a carpenter to make custom cabinets for Mom’s kitchen.

Dad rescued wooden floors from an old school that the city was taking down. He carefully refinished the wood and covered the floors in the living room, dining room, and all of the upstairs. He made the stairs extra wide which made it easier for us to slide down on our bottoms. I tried it once when I was older and nearly killed myself.

There was an old garage and a small shed on the ten acre property. The front yard was full of big shade trees. The old cottonwood was an especially fine specimen. My two sisters and I would try and grab hands around it. We could never quite grasp each other’s fingers.  There were two good climbing trees. We spent many hours reading books and eating lunch in them. I would often climb the one closest to the road to watch for my Father’s car as he made his way home from work.

My father carefully planted a shelterbelt made up of a row of evergreens, a row of Chokecherries, and another of plumbs. He added Nanking cherries a few years later. The plowed garden was about two acres. There was a strawberry patch, raspberry plants, and an apple tree with many varieties of apples grafted onto it. My dad was especially proud of the apple tree. He had done the grafting himself. It was a sight to behold when it was in bloom and later, when the fruit was heavy in its branches. He planted rows of corn. More than we could ever eat or freeze, but he liked to give it away. He started studying Gurney’s seed catalogue in the winter and ordered in plenty of time for planting. He usually started the tomatoes and Mom’s zinnias inside. The rest of the seeds he planted in the garden with us reluctantly helping.

The ditches were full of wild roses and white anemones. In the spring they were full of water which meant we could sail up and down on homemade rafts. If it was especially wet the side yard became a pond for a few short days.

There was a small patch of bushes that we called woods. We made an animal trap in a hollowed out spot. We crisscrossed branches and covered it with leaves. Of course we never caught anything, but we checked it often.

We had a big backyard where we played kick the can when church kids came over.

There was a well-worn path that led to the neighbor’s house. He was a widower that watched our dog when we went out of town. We imagined he was sweet on our grandma, but nothing ever came of it. He had a couple good climbing trees that he allowed us to use when we wanted. He also had some metal bars that we would swing on or hang from by our knees.

The winter brought storms which lasted a few days instead of a few hours. After shoveling we were rewarded with high snowbanks for building caves and forts. We would jump off the neighbor’s barn into deep drifts when the conditions were right. On occasion the garden became a skating rink. I imagined I was an Olympic racer.

It was a magical place full of imagination and memories. Now it was gone, replaced by a tangle of roads and buildings. They call it an Industrial park. Doesn’t look like much of a park to me.  I tried to hide my wet eyes from my granddaughter who was happily playing in the back seat. I so wanted to show it to her as it had been…but it was all gone. Not a hint remained of what had been. And I grieved.

I can’t shake the sadness…these emotions that well up. I was trying to find some link to my past…some proof that we had lived there. That my father had built a good life for us there. That we had been happy and safe.  Instead I found progress…I can’t see it improves things. When fields and gardens and climbing trees are wiped out for the sake of an industrial park.

But I think it is more than that. We are, after all, eternal beings. God made us to live forever and when things are ruined or don’t last an aching sadness sets in. This is not how it is supposed to be. Someday it will be different.

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Cor. 5:1

I take comfort in the fact that what my heavenly Father is working on will last for eternity. When He calls me home it will really be home. He will be my home.

Deuteronomy 33:27 The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms;

For further study:  Psalm 90:1b; Ezekiel 37:27; Matthew 25:34;  John 14:2&3; I Corinthians 2:9

 

Thinking on Gardens

I took a walk through my yard today. I was looking for things we had planted. I met with limited success.

The Toad Lily is nowhere to be found. We have planted it three years in a row only for it to refuse to come back to life each spring.

The hydrangea tree, which was beautiful last year, is now dead. Some small animal had eaten away at the bark close to the ground.

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We have planted many bluebells over the years.  Last year there were two. Only one of those survived. This isn’t a good sign.

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Most of the tulips had been eaten by the deer as soon as they appeared. Thankfully they left the daffodils alone.

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I did find the Jack in the Pulpit. It sprang out of nowhere.

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Lily of the Valley was thick and growing everywhere. Many places I didn’t remember it being before.

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The Iris are back and will be bursting into bloom soon. (I’ll keep you posted.) I know the Daylilies will come later in the summer. Now the leaves are lush and green.

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This Tree Peonie surprised me with its early blooms.

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The yard was full of unexpected life. Each year I am surprised when things come back from their long sleep.

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In an effort to hurry summer along my husband planted some pots as well.

I long for heaven and the gardens that will be there.

I suspect the animals will be better behaved. They won’t be allowed to gnaw through things or uproot bulbs.

Things will bloom where they are supposed to bloom. Nothing will be choked out by weeds. There will be a wild orderliness about it all. (Like God Himself.) God and His garden will take our breath away.

Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 22:1-7 talk about “a river of the water of life” that flows from God’s throne. On either side of the river is the tree of life bearing 12 kinds of fruit. One for each month. It’s leaves are used for the healing of the nations. I can hardly wait. To be home with the God who loves me. To leave this earthly imperfect garden behind for such a spectacular one.

In the mean-time I work on this garden full of plants and people and situations all part of the work He has given me to do.

“Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:58

 

 

Afraid of the Dark

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1 (ESV)

My granddaughter, Arianna is afraid of the dark.

She is thrilled with the thought of there never being any night in heaven. (Rev. 21:25)

“We won’t ever have to go to bed, right Nana?” she asks me. “We won’t ever be tired, right?”

“Look at the stars, Nana. Those are the stars God made for Arianna, right Nana?”

When Arianna has to go out at night she looks up. The stars make her less afraid. They remind her of a God who loves her enough to give her some light in the dark.

If I am honest I admit to being afraid of the dark too. I tend to put my head down and move quickly. How much better if I would lift my head and see the stars God made for me.

“Lift up your eyes on high

And see who has created these stars,

The One who leads forth their host by number,

He calls them all by name;

Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power

Not one of them is missing.”  Isaiah 40:26 (NASB)