Monday, August 31, 2015

The day I almost tripped over a speck in church...

We were visiting a church where my husband was a guest speaker.  Our younger sons came with us, and in fact they called up a friend to join us at the last minute.  The guys and I sat in the back on opposite sides of the aisle.  As the worship team led us in a beautiful song about God's grace, right smack dab in the middle of it, one of the worship band members left the platform during the song packing his electric guitar to stomp down the center aisle and come to the back where my young men sat.  He rebuked my sons' friend because he had his foot propped up against the brace of the pew in front of him.  I did too on my side of the aisle because when you cross your legs, that's where your foot comes to rest, only my foot wasn't as high as his because I'm not as tall and I'm in a dress, after all. 

I can't imagine Jesus interrupting his sermon on the mount to tell some teen in the crowd that he had his sandal bumping up against a little boy's lunch basket. 


Yep, singing about God's grace, but not dishing it out.  He was picking at a speck that sure must have been hard for him to see because of the log in his own eye.  It took me a lot of praying the rest of the worship to give my anger over this to God.  Then it blessed me as I sat struggling when our young friend stood with hands lifted in worship to God during the last song.  He was far ahead of me.  It was humbling.

You see, that young man has got his heart right with God and is planning to study in college to become a worship leader himself.  He has a dream, a calling on his life.  That day, he learned a lesson for free on how not to be a worship leader, to leave specks alone and that it is better to be a clear cut logger on one's own vision problems.  I almost laughed out loud when we last sang a song about putting your feet on a rock.  Hmm.  Just don't put it on the back of that pew!

Plenty of  young people would never darken the door of a church again if someone embarrassed them in such a way in the middle of worship.  The devil would love to write an excused absence from church for life after something like that.  For goodness sakes, he was a first time visitor.  For crying out loud, he was a teen in church, which is the place you wish you could find every teenager on a sunny Sunday morning.  I was tempted to give the man a tongue lashing after church he would not soon forget mama bear style, but  I decided I didn't need to let a speck trip me up in church or my tongue either.  Other than that, worship and the service to follow was wonderful after I got an attitude adjustment, a speck check.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My man, words cannot describe, well, maybe they can!

The day of our wedding in 1973,
"going away" picture for a
going away, the best man!
Bible Thumper
The Book-lover
History Buff
Family Man

Giants fan
Kings fan

Even Cat-loving
Birthday Boy!

 "...pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. 
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called,
and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses...
that you keep the commandment
without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ." 
I Timothy 6:11-14 
Yep, that about sums him up.

Sup-per Time!

Right here five minutes or less away, on the edge of a not so nice part of town where our community turns from a newish subdivision into a needy community, there's a wall with a door.  It could have been an import from Biblical days: beige stone stacked against stone then an arch with a wooden door underneath.  It's not new construction, but obviously old, been-there-a-dusty-while old.  Whenever I drive by, I'm tempted to stop and knock at that door.  In fact, I imagine Jesus standing there knocking at that door.  It has always made me wish I could take a picture of it with a fantasy of asking my bearded son-in-law to dress up like Jesus and stand there knocking, as if that would ever happen.  I think of it Every. Single.  Time.  I drive by...which I do often since it's on the way to my husband's office, on the way to my son's school, on the way to the church we are attending.
(If you grew up in church, don't tell me you've never seen this picture!)
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock;
 if anyone hears My voice and opens the door,
I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." 
Revelation 3:20

In our house of teenage boys, there is a constant knocking followed by one of my sons answering the door yelling, "Can so-in-so come in?"   It happens all day long, every day.  In fact, I'm learning to know the kind of knock each of their friends makes so that I know who it is at the door even before it's opened.  Sometimes they invite them in saying, "Can so-so-sup with us?"  Actually they say "eat with us," but "sup with us" just sounds more spiritual.  I have to have a supply of burritos, tacquitos, and frozen chicken nuggets to hold them over until dinner, I mean sup-per.  Teen boys come with a puberty hormone that zings hunger pains in the growling pit of their stomach.  So if you get past the smell of their dirty socks in the laundry without fainting and walk down the hall to the frig, you might find sustenance.  (We finally traced one smell to a backpack and unearthed rotting radishes, a tub of cherry tomatoes, two apples and three tubs of pudding snacks that had been forgotten.) 

It's a little better with this phase of teen boys.  When my oldest was their age, he would bring home  his whole high school basketball team to eat supper at a moment's notice.  I think I invented the term, "eat me out of house and home" those years.  I was known to have Sam as my personal chef, Sam as in Sam's Club, Sam's buy-in-bulk Club.  There were a couple of his friends he invited to live with us, and they did, supped with us for months, years.  When they knocked, I couldn't turn them away hungry and homeless.  Yeah, college basketball players can be homeless too sometimes.

Years ago when my first batch of kids were little,  we were visiting at a friend's house.  Our kids were running around, kids-gone-wild style.  They were in and out, in and out.  My kids thought they needed to knock every, single time, and it was driving me crazy.  After the inth time of opening the door, I finally jerked the door open while bending down to get in their face only to find it wasn't my short-stuff-kids, but a man, a tall man and I was about to yell at his belt buckle.  In fact I think I actually started yelling before I stood up and faced him, one of my more embarrassing moments.  It wasn't my house. It wasn't my visitor.  It wasn't my kids at the door. In fact I still remember the stranger's name, Spud.  He was a "Hello-my-name-is-Spud," kind of guy with a twinkle in his eye, a construction worker who worked with my host's husband.
However, I still remember when Christ came knocking on my door.  He was persistent and would not go away.  I tried to ignore Him, but He just kept knocking, and knocking, and knocking.  I'm amazed He did not get a battering ram.  I wasn't sure I wanted to sup with Him.  I wanted to hang onto all my sustenance without sharing, even though it sometimes was rotting, smelly, and disgusting.  When I finally cracked the door open, meaning to yell, "Stop it!  Go away," He slipped in, cleaned my fridge, so to speak, threw away what was spoiled, and set a fine table.  I did not have to do it all by myself anymore, which was good because I was a failure.  In fact, I had let it get out of control and knew I needed help.  I admitted it, apologized for making Him wait for so long, and then began to enjoy His fellowship.
John Wesley speaks of encountering Christ for the first time in such a way.  He was a Bible scholar, a University professor, and had formed "holy clubs" at Oxford.  His good-deedism sent him to cross the ocean to be a missionary to the Indians, but failed.  While there he fell in love with a young woman who fell out of love with him and into love with another.  When he refused her communion for this breach of commitment, Wesley was practically run out of Dodge by her angry father and fellow parishioners.  He also found that he feared for his life on the ocean voyage, afraid where he would spend eternity.  Finally back in England, he stubbornly, mule-ishly,  went to an Aldersgate meeting and the door of his heart was cracked open.

"In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans.  About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed, I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation: and an assurance was given me, that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."

He went "very unwillingly," rusty locks on his heart's door, looking at his time piece, so restless that he knew exactly what time it was, when lo and behold, he let his heart's door finally swing open, surprising himself.  Once inside his heart, Jesus used this man to rock the world bringing revival to England that spilled over to  America.

There are many influences which knock on our heart's door.  Beware the enemy who beguiles.  Know the knock of our Savior.  You won't be sorry you let Him in.  He's the kind of guy who sits down to eat with you and multiplies your little fishes and loaves of bread to feed the multitude. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

"I feel like I am a ghost," my youngest said the other day after a gathering.  I was dumbfounded and said, "What do you mean?"  He's usually the social butterfly.  "It's like I'm there but not really there.  People talked over me and didn't listen."  I related.  I remember that feeling when I was a teen trying unsuccessfully to enter into conversations, feeling like an outsider. 

I am currently reading, "A 90 Day Devotional with John Wesley."  It reminded me how difficult it was to pastor in the early 1700's in England.  Certain spouting of beliefs could rid you of your pulpit.  John Wesley's father Samuel was not always "spot-on," but he had to overcome poverty, even going to debtor's prison,  had to face angry parishioners who twice tried to burn down their manse; once John at five barely escaped being trapped on the second floor of the burning parsonage.  Yet, he told his son, "The inward witness, son.  The inward witness.  That is the best evidence of the truth of the Christian religion."  The high church in which they were raised was not accepting of salvation through faith, a personal assurance of salvation that John and Charles Wesley found, and evidently their father enjoyed as well. 

""The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God," 
Romans 8:16

I had to remind our son that what he was feeling was real, but we have to base our lives on what is true.  Feelings can feel very real, but truth is the real deal.  We need to know that we are filled with a ghost, the Holy Ghost.  The devil wants to steal our peace.  He's a joy-thief.  "STOP THIEF!"  Don't let him get away with it.  There's something deeper than "feelings."  It is the inward whisper, the inward witness.  Pay attention to the inward witness.  You are loved.  You belong.  You are a child of God.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Even when Noah was on the mountain top, there was mud.  God had wrought a miracle and saved Noah and his family from the flood of rain, forty days and forty nights, and yet the puddles left mud.  If they ventured out too soon, they'd be up to their necks, at least knee deep in it.  They had to wait, and wait, and wait, for the water to recede and the mud to dry.  How much patience was required for the ark inmates with the animals before Noah could climb down from the ark and kiss the dirt?

Finally, "the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed, and the rain from the sky was restrained; and the water receded steadily from the earth, and at the end of one hundred and fifty days the water decreased.  And in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark rested upon the mountains of Ararat (in Iran).  And the water decreased steadily until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains became visible.  Then it came about at the end of forty days (not the original forty days) that Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made; and he sent out a raven, and it flew here and there until the water was dried up from the earth.

Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land; but the dove found no resting place for the sole of her foot, so she returned to him into the ark; for the water was on the surface of all the earth.  Then he put out his hand and took her, and brought her into the ark to himself.  So he waited yet another seven days; and again he sent out the dove from the ark.  And the dove came to him toward evening; and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf.  So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth.  Then he waited yet another seven days, and sent out the dove; but she did not return to him again."  Genesis 8:2-12   

God miraculously saved the Hebrew children and led them out of Egypt, but they wandered forty years before entering the Promised Land.  Most of it was their own fault for having to take another lap around Mt. Sinai until they learned their lesson.  Just saying, sometimes answers to prayer take a journey.


I have to admit that I want the instantaneous answers to prayer, the snap of the finger kind, the wave of the magic wand kind, the rubbing the bottle and the genie appears kind.  Think of the miracle of birth: that even takes waiting for nine months, the labor often long, and well, labored. Then the naked, crying thing makes a mother's sleep disappear for days, months, years, or at least until the kid reaches twenty-one and even beyond.  Do you get the drift?  Good things come to those who wait, and wait and...

God has the long view.  Sometimes waiting is good for us.  Sometimes the journey is good for us.  Sometimes the life lessons are good for us.  Thank God for those times that God reaches down and intercedes for us in a moment of time, but thank God also for the waiting, the maturing, the growing so we don't become addicted to waving wands and bottled genies that are about our self-gratification instead of loving God before all things created.  To rush ahead of God's timing is to climb off the mountain and, well, get stuck in the mud.  Wait.

You know, don't you, that the dove symbolizes the Holy Spirit
and the olive branch, peace, peace that God will take care of you?


God's Kodak moments...

"Remember when you..."  We have fun conversations with friends and family reminiscing together like this or flipping thru instagram or photo albums together.  What if God wants you to reminisce with Him?  Remember when I... Remember when you...

"Remember His wonders  which He has done, His marvels,
and the judgments uttered by His mouth...
He has remembered His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded to a thousand generations..."
Psalm 105:5
"I shall remember the deeds of the Lord;
Surely I will remember Thy wonders of old.
I will meditate on all Thy work,
And muse on Thy deeds.
Thy way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?
Thou are the God who workest wonders."
Psalm 77:11-14
"Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of all generations.
Ask your father, and he will inform you,
Your elders, and they will tell you."
Deuteronomy 32:6-9

These Scriptures from Sunday's sermon are challenging.  Am I passing on the remembering of what God has done?  When the older kids were little, I kept a memory book of all the cute things they had said as precocious little ones.  When I sometimes had had it up to here, it was a simmer down and refresh time when one of them would say, "Read me the memory book!"  (The little stinkers knew it would buy them a reprieve from a mother's fury.)  It would help this mama keep things in perspective and to really appreciate the treasures God had given me in my children--instead of wanting to wring their cute little necks.

Maybe we should try that on God, "I want to read the memory book, the one that tells of all the great things You have done!"  Then maybe He might look a little more kindly upon our puny little hearts, those hearts He died to save. 

If I was a more diligent good little Christian mom, I would have written down all those moments when God came in like the cavalry to save us: mothers know that only God can keep our little ones alive with all their close calls, the 105+ degree fevers, your boy running along the edge of a giant cliff, etc.  Still, He brings to mind those times when we watched His wonders to perform right before our eyes. 

As I have written of before, watching a Colorado landslide coming down from a high mountain, hearing the crashing, seeing the trees and huge boulders bounce down a slope forming a landslide which we escaped, indelibly wrote on my heart the immensity of our God and His power and watch-care over us.  Another time I often ponder was a great Holy Ghost revival moving over a camp meeting in Colorado with wave after wave of seekers and the air filled with the electricity of the presence of God. 
What do you remember of the great things of God in your life? 
Make sure you pass it on to the next generation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Embracing the Lamb
And being embraced

"How beautiful You are!"  While singing this song to God in church Sunday, I felt the enfolding hug of my Lord like never before.  It seemed like He was telling me that my place was to continue to appreciate the beauty of Him that He reveals in intimacy, of His holiness, of His creation, His beauty alone.  It was as if He was letting me know that I am in the place I am supposed to be, wrapped in His love.

When I was young, I depended upon my mother for food, clean clothes and sheets, rules to keep me safe, and hugs.  As I grew, I climbed off her lap and started noticing her as a person, her godly strengths, her talents in playing the piano and other gifts, and her love for God.  I saw as she pointed out the beauty of God in nature as well as in His Word.  Would you say I was closer to her as a needy child or as I matured in the understanding of who she was, her place in this world and my place next to her?  Do you see the comparison?

I sometimes wonder if I am praying hard enough, doing enough, studying enough, but God whispered  through His Holy Spirit, "Yes," to me today, "It is enough."  He let me know that though each of us is unique in our relationship to Him, it's okay to be me.  He made me feel as if He kind of liked me that way.  Surprise!  This was not what I expected coming to church on the Sabbath.  This was not a usual event in my life.  It was whispered quietly, deep down in my spirit by my Savior.

"And behold, the Lord was passing by! And a great and strong wind was rending the mountains and breaking in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind.  And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing wind....And behold, a voice came to him and said, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'  Then he said, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel'...  And the Lord said to him, 'Go, return on on your way.'."

I Kings 19:11-15

Have you heard the gentle sound of His voice, His warm breath near your ear as He bends low?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Patriotism then and now...

"Let's Go!"

The three heroes in France this week risked their lives to save everyone on the train by rushing the terrorist and disarming him.  One champion was even awoken from a dead sleep.  The trio rushed the terrorist, grabbed his weapons, beat him in the head, then tied him up with someone's necktie.  The terrorist had slashed and nearly severed the thumb of one Airman who though injured still ran to assist the Frenchman who was shot in the neck, sticking his fingers into the hole to block the artery that was squirting out blood, thus saving his life. 

Two were military, one a college senior, just friends...

True heroes.  Americans.  That's what we do. 
"Let's go!" was their call to action.

We feel patriotism pumping in our veins watching "Sons of Liberty," the mini series, which was my husband's early birthday present.  We love history.  Our trip to Virginia took us to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as well as Independence Hall and the Tavern where much of the work was done for the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  There were a few  parts in the DVD we had to fast forward, there was some bad language,  but it put human faces on the battles for our freedom that established this country.  It was war.  Bloodshed.  The writers took the liberty to fill in between the gaps but is portrayed very close to history.  For example most believed that the British General Gage's wife--who was born in New Jersey-- tipped off the colonists, Dr. Warren  specifically, that the British were coming.   Her husband put her on the next ship back to England as he suspected she was the traitor.

Samuel Adams

My five times great grandfather, Captain John Harper, had a small fleet of ships, was a Puritan when he met General George Washington, but was persuaded to smuggle arms and ammunition for the cause.  As a boy he remembered helping his father bury their treasures when the British first occupied Philadelphia.  Each of the signers of the Declaration of Independence stood to lose everything and even their lives with their ink.   There was no middle ground: you either were for liberty or for the king.  "Join or Die" was their motto.  Yet, they were willing.  They fought for freedom and won.

Dr. Joseph Warren who died at Bunker Hill

It saddens me that race relations have backslidden.  We fought the Civil War, brother against brother, to free slaves.  Granted, it has taken more than a century to get it even close to right, but with godly leaders such as Martin Luther King, so much progress had been made.  We were just in Baltimore this spring where now the murder rate is horrendous after all the violence and rioting and destruction.  There was more bloodshed and casualties in the Civil War than all other wars Americans waged, except the war against babies.   The irony is that we are back to fighting for babies, front and center, for which abortion was planned as racial genocide for the blacks especially: that's why it is called PLANNED Parenthood. 

Paul Revere

I am grateful for each fallen, each wounded, each P.T.S.D. affected, each soldier who has served with honor.  Freedom is not free.  Radical Muslims throughout history have been on crusades, jihads, to overtake Christian nations as well as Israel.  It is not new.  Their eyes are on us.  Still, there is a war within our nation now.  We are very divided, divided by ideologies, but also by values.  We are a barbaric nation with a war against babies, thus a war against women who bear these little ones in their wombs.  Do not be fearful to speak out, to be heard even when not popular.  Many of my friends and many of my extended family are liberals.  I am at risk constantly of offending them, which I do though  I still try to express love as well.  This is a war that separates families.

John Hancock, a wealthy business man, but  the British took everything he had.

"We hold these truths to be self evident that all men are created equal...and have the inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."  Babies have the right to life.  The church and Christians have a right to liberty and free speech.  We have a right to bear arms.  All these are being threatened, and the blood of hundreds of thousands of babies is pouring.   Join the battle and support whoever is speaking truth.  Let us be inspired that truth is coming out on Planned Parenthood what with sonograms which show the marvelous development of the fetus and the pain felt as they are being aborted, as well as these inside videos which are revealing the disgusting actions inside abortion clinics.  It is almost an act of God pulling back the curtain which had been drawn shut since "Roe vs Wade."  The rights of churches and Christians are in the turmoil of fighting for their liberty as well. 

John Adams, one of my heroes as a godly man who went on to become President.

"Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of the Light...Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are being done by them in secret.  But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.  For this reasons it says, 'Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.'  Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:6-16

When we went to Washington D.C., this was on a T-shirt we brought back to our son.

We are at war, as Christians, as a nation.  We can no longer be sleepers.  It is time to Awake!  It is not pleasant, but we must join all of history in a war against the enemy of our souls who seeks to kill and destroy.  Onward, Christians soldiers!  "Let's go!"