Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Thoughts Pre-Easter

Easter bunnies, chicks and colored eggs line the shelves in the stores. Bonnets and patent leather shoes and frilly frocks await the wearing on that special Sunday in April. What has all that got to do with Easter?

I suppose I could stretch a point and say that all signify the newness that comes with Spring after a long winter's nap. I could really defend the pretty outfit by saying that it is significant of taking off the old and putting on the new. But the truth is, they have nothing to do with the true meaning of Easter.

Yes, Easter is about newness. We were deeply asleep in our sin. God saw we had no way to escape without a blood sacrifice. We, Christians awoke to know that Jesus Christ's horrible, painful death by hanging on the Cross put sin to death for all who will accept the sacrifice. We know that His resurrection on Easter morning gave us a new Hope for our own resurrection one day. When we accept Jesus as our own Savior and Lord, He gives us a new life to live. We must leave sin behind and wear the righteousness of Christ.

Easter baskets and bonnets do not show our love of the Lord or appreciation for his payment for the sin we deserve to die for. Let us remember to give God praise for all He is done, most of all for the gift of a new life He gave us when He gave up His own.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Random Thoughts About God

Who can describe God? So often we try, but no matter how well we think we know Him, it's impossible to describe the Majestic Almighty God.

We can pin attributes on Him and say what He is or how He thinks. But we humans can only think in a humanly spiritual way. His Word tells us that our thoughts are not His thoughts, and so I wonder how closely we can guess as to the attributes of God.

Why do we attempt to describe God, anyway? We know that He IS, has always BEEN, will always BE. We know, from the Bible, that He has no beginning and no end. We know, too, that He is all-knowing, always present. Isn't it enough to know those things, without having to describe Him?

I guess it isn't, for daily, someone is attempting to tell someone else what God is like. We say that God is Love...the giver of Love, the only real Love there is. We say that God is Truth, He is the Light, He is Salvation, He is Perfect, He is Wise, He is Creator, He is no respector of persons, but accepts each of us as we are. He is all of those and more, as taught by His own Word.

We try to describe God so that others might come to know Him the way we know Him. We don't need to describe Him. We need to offer Him. We need to invite others to meet Him. We need to tell others what God has done for us. We need to share Him. We need to place our friends in His hands. God will show Himself without our descriptions.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Goin' Home

Tomorrow our church will bury the fourth of our members in as many weeks. Families are in pain over their loss, but most are grateful to know that their loved ones have 'gone home' to their Lord. Knowing that tends to lessen the pain and suffering of death to this life on earth.

As Christians, we have the blessed Hope that we will spend Eternity with Jesus. Noone seems to want to die, but we know that when God calls us, we will have no choice but to answer. Isn't that an odd way of thinking? We don't want to die, but why not, when we know that we will forever be face to face with the one who loves us more than any earthly soul? We don't want to trade the life we know or those who remain here for what we believe our future Home to be.

I can relate to those feelings. I had a scare in 1995 when I had no idea whether I would live to see another year. It saddened me to think I might have limited time left. Looking back on that,

I know that it is a natural way to feel in a time like that. However, the spiritual part of me knew that what waits beyond what I can see will be far better.

I guess that we are all a little afraid of what we cannot see. Our future, no matter how we plan, is never quite the same as we'd laid out in our minds. If we could plan the time we'd leave our families to go home to Jesus, I'm not sure we'd ever make an appointment. Maybe that's why God holds the hourglass, and not we, ourselves. It's better the way God has planned it, I think.

And so, being human, we have those human feelings to deal with. Being also spiritual, we have beliefs and hopes in the Lord that are strong enough to know that Goin' Home will be the most wonderful journey to a more wonderful place, and that gives us the strength to weather the trials, the fears and the sorrows that come in this life. We should rejoice in knowing that our loved ones have gone on and will be waiting for us at Heaven's gates. Even more, we are at peace, knowing that the face of God, which has been hidden from view throughout our earthly walk, will be revealed, shining brilliantly before us, welcoming us into the Almighty's Kingdom.

What a day, glorious day that will be!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Prayer

Many times You'd spoken to me and I'd not listened. I'd turned a deaf ear and gone about my business in my own stubborn way. It was not so much that I didn't want to hear You, Lord. It was that I was not close enough to You to hear Your instruction. Like a willful child who runs from his loving and protective parent, I'd wandered from Your side to explore things on my own. When I was in trouble, or when I was scared, or hurt, or felt I was lost, I'd return to You looking for You to comfort and console me. You didn't greet me with anger, but opened Your arms and welcomed me back.

Those were the days of life as a young Christian, "when I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child..but when I grew to a man, such ways put aside." (1Cor: 13) Those days are gone...thank God! These days I know that I need to stay as close to You as I can be, in order to hear You speak and to respond quickly. If I don't listen, I will find myself floundering in the winds of doctrine, lost on the path of Life. I've learned that it is safer, much more wonderful too, to walk beside You and to discover with You, rather than alone, all that You have in store for me.

There is no safer place than to be beneath Your sheltering wings. Nothing can harm me, because You are surrounding me. There is no fear, because You are there. Your Word, tells me that You go before me and that You are my rear-guard. I am protected.

I have no need to wander from You, for You provide all that I need. I have no desire to be without You, for You love me more than anyone I'll ever find, should I search. There is no temptation to follow after another, because You are my All in all.

Thank you, Lord, for the lessons I have learned from childhood until this moment. Thank you, for all those who taught me about You, and for those who prayed for me. Thank you for those who attempted to steer me on the right path, and Lord, more than anything else, thank You for

patiently correcting me when I made all those mistakes, and for loving me anyway. Thank you for being my ever-present God, who knows me, loves me and died for me while I was still lost in the filthy mire of sin.

Words are not enough, Lord, and so, I will do what You ask. I will follow. I will obey. I will serve. I will show You, as best I can in my human strength and with Your help, how much I appreciate You, until You take me Home to be with You eternally.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's a Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles have always 'puzzled' me. I have decided that I haven't got a very mechanical mind. I can't look at pieces of things and see the place where they fit together to work properly.

I don't find it exciting, the way some people do, to look at a box full of bits of things and work toward putting them in order so that they make the finished picture shown on the cover of that box.

Life is sometimes like that. We find ourselves in a situation where things are just a jumbled up mess. We don't see how we can ever fight our way through it and get to the end. Somehow, we manage a way, but the picture at the end of our efforts may not look exactly the way it should.

I've discovered something in my walk with the Lord. Even the life of a Christian can be quite a mystery at times. We've heard the Biblical principals. We've been taught the ways of the Lord by our parents, our church leaders, our own learning. We've got a picture in our mind's eye as to what the final result is to look like. Still, sometimes what we see in life, with our human eye, is a box of bright pieces that make little sense to us. Just pretty shapes and colors that might fit together, but how? Sometimes it seems that some of the pieces don't fit at all, or even that some are missing altogether!

I believe the verse, "Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. Ask, and it will be given." When there is a place that needs filling in life, God will provide the piece that He knows will fit just the way it should. When there's a piece that doesn't fit smoothly, it probably is meant to go elsewhere, and we need to find a new bit to place into our picture. When things don't make sense to us, remember that we see only the pieces, but God sees the total picture. One by one, we will be offered the parts that will make up the whole. Sometimes we need to wait for pieces, but God will always complete the work He has begun. The puzzle will make sense one day.
Do you know, this is one puzzle that I am excited to work with!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Through a Glass, Darkly

Yesterday morning I woke to darkness, as I have since the changing of the clocks a few weeks ago. As the dawn broke, I was aware that the area outside was shrouded in a thick fog. I could barely see through it. There were dim shapes of the homes and trees in our neighborhood, but nothing was clear.

I was reminded of the scripture verse, " now we see through a glass darkly, then we shall see face to face." Each one of us has our own ideas, based on our understanding of the scriptures and on what we've been taught, of what heaven will be like. Do any of us know? I don't believe so. I think, because our vision is clouded in this life, that we've 'manufactured' an image with which we can be comfortable. We cannot see beyond the sunset, so we do not know for sure what the place looks like.

We search the Word of God for clues, for indications. We find text that describes 'streets of gold' and 'mansions'. We know that Jesus will be there, that the Judge will sit upon a throne, that no one leaves there once they've entered in and that no one will get in without their name being in the Lamb's Book of Life. But, with all this, we still see 'through a glass darkly.'

The day will come for each one of us when we will find the answers that elude us in this life. There will come a time when this life will end and we will find ourselves in a new location, one which we made our goal during our life's journey. Hopefully we have chosen Heaven as our eternal home. When that day comes, we will see clearly what it looks like there. We will see it in all its glory. But at that time, I don't believe it will matter what Heaven looks like, for we will see Jesus, face to face, and that will be enough.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Gift...

Today is her birthday. She told me yesterday that she cannot believe that she is eighty-three years old. She said it seems to her that it is all a dream.

That she is still with us, in good health and perfect mentality is a dream for each of us. This true version of a Proverbs 31 woman is an inspiration to us. She has set the example that I choose to follow as a Christian woman, a gentle, quiet spirit with a heart set on the Lord.

She has worked for the good of others for as long as I've known her, and even longer. She does not care for others to 'recognize' her in any way, she is that humble, but I find great admiration for her in her efforts to lighten the load in any way she can for those who are burdened. I know, as her daughter, things that others will never know, as to the good works she has accomplished over the years. She is not a Pharisee who stands on the corners, shouting of her deeds. No, she is standing in the closet, in humility.

I once heard the actress, Ellen Burstyn giving an interview in which she said something similar to this: "You are the only you in the world. If you do not give yourself to others, they will be denied a gift."

Today we will celebrate her birthday, six of us gathering for a special dinner, and on Saturday a larger party. We will shower her with gifts, but in fact, it is we who have been given the gift, the presence of this blessing in our lives. Happy Birthday,Mom.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


There is no doubt in my mind that the sun will rise today against this darkness before dawn. There is not an iota of fear in me that the great oceans will not continue kiss the soft cheek of the shores. I have faith that what I've known in the past will always be.

And yet, in reality, my faith in the sun's rising or in the ever-flowing tides of the sea, will not change what could happen at any time, should the Creator see fit to alter what we've come to know as routine. God is all powerful and He can do as He will with what He's created. Just as I crumple pages of scribbling, words I've written, artwork that displeases me, God can destroy anything He's made with a mere touch of His hand.

Therefore, my greatest faith does not revolve around the things in the earth. My faith is planted and grows and blossoms in the One who made all that we see and hear. Although I find great pleasure in watching the sun rise and seeing the waves come rhythmically to the sands at my feet, although it blesses my life and my heart to hear the bird song on the air, my belief is in Him and it is He that I worship and adore.

He, the Creator, is ever faithful and true. When all else changes, when His works of art fade or crumble, He will remain just as He has been from the beginning and will be 'til the end...unchangeable...the same yesterday, today and forever.

So, as I watch another sunrise through my kitchen window, as I hear the far-off sea in the files of my remembrance, I lift a heart of praise that God has granted me another day in which thank Him for being my Lord who never disappoints, who never leaves nor foresakes me, who is completely unchanged. Bless God!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Whiter than Snow...

When we lived in the North, anytime between November and April, there were times when the sky would show the promise of snow. The blue ceiling above would turn a blue grey, and the air held a certain type of cold that just 'felt' like snow was coming. There was a silence in the air, regardless of the earthly din. If you listened, you knew. We'd look for it, we'd wait with anticipation for the first flakes to fall. It didn't matter what the weather channel told us, with all of their hype and their colorful maps. We knew it would come by the signs in the weather.

Being a native Northerner who now lives in the South, I miss the snow. While I lived on Long Island, our snow falls were rarely more than a few inches, but occasionally we'd get a doozie. Whatever it was, though, even with the inconveniences I knew would come with it, I looked forward to the coming of the white stuff. I looked forward, too, to measuring it to see just how the snow compared to the predictions. I liked to prove them wrong!

As the first flakes would fall, like feathers from the heavens, I'd diligently stand at the window and watch. When the snow began to stick to the ground, there was a newness to all it touched. The entirety of the world immediately around me would be blanketed in white, and as its cover expanded, it had added beauty to the familiar scenery. There is nothing like fresh snow to give you a sense of what 'purity' looks like. It sparkles in the light, it gleams with a glitter. There's no other example quite like it.

David, the Psalmist, wrote (Ps 51:7) 'Cleanse me with hyssop and I shall be whiter than snow." He cried out to the Lord in repentance of his great sin of adultery and murder. He cried for renewal of his soul. He used 'whiter than snow' as an example of how pure he would become, once the Lord God cleansed him.

Some people doubt the coming of Christ to a waiting soul. They overlook the signs of the Promise. Make no mistake! Prove the predictions wrong! Show the doubters that when Jesus cleanses your life, there is no washing that can compare. The internal grime of a heart lived in sin is renewed..POWER washed, and the soul is blanketed by the blood of Christ. When the Father looks upon us then, He sees the sparkling of His Son's covering upon us! What a miracle!

But, be aware, that just as the snowfall can melt away from the earth, showing the dirt beneath it once more, so can we make the choice to return to the filth we came from. It is our choice whether or not we live in purity... by praying, by knowing God's Word and by obedience to it. Let us continually measure ourselves against what God is teaching us in His word. Let us be mindful to remain clothed in His righteousness. As we watch and wait with anticipation for the second coming of Jesus, let us be found sparkling, pure, and whiter than snow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve

As Christians, we're told to "Love your neighbor as yourself." Sometimes that's easier said, than done. It's not always easy to set aside your wants, wishes, time, self, to do what can be done to help your neighbors. Sometimes things get in the way when we want to help or do for another in Christian love.
And let's face it, sometimes we're just plain selfish.

I've recently moved here to the Bible belt. I was a Christian before I got here, and I believe that I've seen all manner of behavior among Christians that I've been associated with over the years. I'm not perfect either, and I'm ashamed to say that, at times, my example of love has probably left others scratching their heads. Loving is not emotions, it is a choice, and it's obedience to God's Word.

This area of the world God led us to is hurting badly in this economy. I suppose that's true of most places right now, but there is less money here than in a lot of other places and a high unemployment rate. There are multitudes who rely on food pantries to feed their children, or on the goodness of others to provide bare essentials that most of us take for granted. There are high numbers of people living on disability checks due to health issues. But, in spite of all the obstacles, this area astounds me with the giving to one another. People with little open their arms to those with less. Those with less offer to help in other ways, and nearly everyone offers their prayers for you, no matter what else they have or haven't got.

We recently had a heavy snowfall, only 4" where we live, but it was enough to cause the power (read no lights, heat, stove, hot water, or telephone) to go out for 18 hours. We were fine, even with a few inconveniences, but there were others who were not as fortunate. When the power came on again, I noticed a phone call on the voice mail. It was from a woman at the church we've just begun to visit, calling to be sure we were ok, and to offer us the use of a shower, a few hours of heat or the use of her freezer if we needed it. Another, finding we'd had no power, scolded me for not bringing my mother and ourselves over to spend the night, or the full time without power.

These examples are such a few of so many we've seen since we've been here. People are truly concerned for the welfare of other people. They are living, breathing, examples of stepping outside of themselves and showing love toward their neighbors and even strangers. I am blessed to be a part of a community such as this.

What a ministry there is in reaching out to those in need, whether it be a ride to a doctor, a meal, volunteering at a charity organization, or a face to face interaction with someone you might otherwise not involve yourself with. How many opportunities there are to show the love of Jesus that we claim we possess! We do not know how one random act of kindness might change another life. But, the Lord knows...and He gives us these opportunities to practice what we say we believe.

We've so often heard that we shouldn't wear our heart on our sleeve. Do you know, when Jesus is in your heart, I think it's really alright to do just that.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Morning By Morning...

Most mornings, I am up before the sun. I like to rise early and watch the day unfold. The sky, hiding the light, seems eery and somewhat forboding. This is a very special, quiet time for me. I take great pleasure in standing at the kitchen sink waiting for the coffee to brew and for the sun to peek over the horizon. The glow is warm on a winter day, and welcome, as I'm not fond of the darkness. Usually I watch, until the ball of light is up and over the dark pines, before I go about my business. Others spend that very special time asleep, missing the wonder of it all.

The Light in a dark world is much like that. The Son comes, shining, to brighten the world and shed His warmth around us. He is welcomed by some who long to be enfolded in His wonder. Others are 'asleep', unaware, or not caring, that the Light has come to offer enrichment to their lives, to take the fear away, to bring blessed hope, to guide them. Those of us who have responded to the Light know that nothing will be hidden as the Light reveals all within the darkness. We know that our path is well lit, and there is nothing to fear as we travel the road.

I don't like to sleep, it almost seems a waste of time, after a certain point. I get all the rest I need, but I want to wake to see what each new morning will bring. I want to watch the weather to see what it promises. There are blessings each day that I want to experience.

Similarly, I want to be wide awake in the Day of the Lord. I don't want to miss a thing by being asleep. I want to be found working for His glory, basking in the Light! I have wasted too much time during the years before I watched the Son rise on me and responded to it. Not another moment! I will rise and watch and wait and work 'til the day when He appears.

And when I hear that great trumpet sound in the clouds, I will rise ...into the skies! I will walk into the sunlight, as I've lived in the Son's Light, and there I will live, morning by morning, forever in the House of the Lord.
Even so, Lord Jesus, come!