Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Sovereign

A few of you have inquired about my friend, the bottle man and wonder if there has been any resolution to my self-imposed dilemma.

For a couple of days I had felt out of sorts and I know it was because I was feeling so unsettled over the situation.
I sought Papa's forgiveness and direction.

The forgiveness was given and a decision was made....

Go knocking at his door bearing a gift.
I did, but, no surprise, he did not answer the door.
He never does.

Yet, a weight lifted even though I didn't get to see him.
I had done what I could to please Papa.

So is that it?
No, of course not.

It is pretty certain that my friend saw me, but it is his policy not to answer the door for anyone.
If he expects you, he will wait outside for you.

I am also certain to see him by the side of the road, with his thumb out, hitching a ride, in the very near future.
At that point I will pull over and seek to make amends.

Meanwhile I will wait patiently.

James speaks about patience in the Fifth Chapter of his letter.
"You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the LORD is at hand."
There are two points to be taken and applied from that verse and the ones surrounding it.

First, patience is rewarded.
James uses the farmer for his example.
The farmer knows he cannot hurry the sun, rains, nor growth of the plant.  He does know that it all takes time and that it he will be reaping his harvest in time.
All God's promises take time too, but they are certain...In God's time.
One day all of them will be fulfilled and we will rejoice in seeing it!

Second, patience must extend, not just to circumstances, but to the people in those situations. 
When the LORD does return He will take the role of Judge.  Until then we are not to act as judge of one another.

How does this apply to me and my friend, the bottle man?
I must wait for God's timing, which is perfect.  I can be confident that Papa will orchestrate everything in His grace and wisdom.
I also, dare not look upon this man in judgment.  Many do.  It is very easy to reject one who does not conform to what society deems acceptable.
He has done nothing wrong in this situation, but the flesh would have no trouble judging him and making excuses for oneself.  Someone actually made the suggestion that it really was on him to get to my home and how rude not to answer his door!

I am not going down that path.

Every one of us has baggage.  Stuff that has helped shape us, that has burdened us and colored our thinking.
The way I look at it is that you don't know what I am lugging around anymore that I know yours, so let's give each other a break!

Only One knows about all of it and He wants to lift it all from us and set us free.

That is the message I want to share with my reclusive friend....
That is the message I want to share with each one that crosses my path...
and that is the message I so long to get across, right now, to one young man....

At least six years ago Ray and I attended a party at a friend's home.   This man is very involved in reaching out to those who struggle with addictions.  One of the people at the gathering was a teenage boy.
As soon as I set eyes on this fellow I knew that he was to be added to my prayer list.

The boy looked close to death.  He was hollow-eyed and haggard.
Over the years that have past since that day I have heard reports of him being in and out of jails, rehabs, different states, and hospitals.
So very sad.

Fast forward to a few months ago....
He appeared at the rehab that I volunteer at and to all appearances seemed to be determined to change the course of his life.
During a number of our conversations we talked about how this was to be his turning point and that he dare not let go.

Every once in a while I would catch a glimpse of something under the surface, but chalked it up to the struggle with recovery.

It is a struggle.
Years of wrong thinking, of believing lies and of giving into the self-destruction of addiction does not let go without a struggle.  A major struggle.

This precious guy is no longer in the rehab.  It seems he has been giving into the lies again and refuses to admit it.

I am sitting here looking at a beautiful piece of artwork that graces the wall of my little sanctuary.

A couple of months ago our youngest move into his own apartment and I took over his old room.

It is Papa's and my special place.
Papa has been decorating it....

A chair and a quilt found at a tag sale...
A table forgotten in the attic...
A lovely lamp at another tag sale...

I knew He had special plans for what went on the walls.

I returned from Ray's and my trip to Florida to find a package waiting for me. 
My dear friend had sent it to me from China.

Everything about it lent itself to this special place.

The color of the frame and flowers and especially the Scripture that is its centerpiece.

Habakkuk Three, verse Nineteen is written in both English and Chinese.
The English reads,
"The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights."
My God is my Strength and I know that He wants to be that Strength for this dear young man and for every single person, wherever they are, whatever they face.

The Strength that is ours in Him enables us to climb to the heights...
where the air is clear...
where we can breath deeply...
where we can think clearly...

In His Strength we are set free.
The lies are wiped out by the Truth.
Wrong desires are replaced with the desire of our hearts-Him.

Oh Papa remind my dear young friend of these truths. 
I know he has heard them, but now may he believe with his heart and receive your strength to be set free!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Portrait of Humilty

Continuing to work my way through the New Testament Book of James the topic of humility keeps finding its way into my journal notes.
Here's the profile of humility that has been forming.

Can come as the result of trials
Helps us learn to seek God's wisdom
And to discover our true treasure - Jesus
Aids in giving us proper perspective
Encourages us to examine ourselves honestly
Creates a sincere heart
Keeps us in step with true religion
Sees others through Jesus' eyes and accepts them equally
Allows mercy to take root over judgment
Results in pure motives
Causes us to be careful of our words
Makes no room for jealousy
Receives God's wisdom which is....
                    Pure....peaceable...gentle...willing to yield...full of mercy...
bears good fruits...unwavering...without hypocrisy
Submits to God
Resists the enemy
Draws near to Papa
Is lifted up
Is the mark of a friend of God.

What a picture that draws!
Not just the outline of a life filled with shadows, but one bursting with color, a vibrant life.

This brings to mind the Second Chapter of Philippians which describes the attitude of Jesus, which we are to adopt as our own.
"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.  Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
I intended to copy about half of that text, but Papa reminded me that the most important part to share is Jesus great sacrifice.
In face of such an example and of such great love, how can we (I) do less than yield everything to Him?!

Oh what a privilege to follow my Savior!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spiritual Mathematics

Something John the Baptist said in reference to Jesus has been buzzing around in heart and mind...

"He must increase, but I must decrease."

Often the words increase or decrease bring to mind the mathematical symbols for them.  < and >.

They actually mean great than or lesser than.

They way I learned to read them is to picture the wider side being a mouth opening to consume what is alongside it.

If I were going to use it to create a spiritual equation I would have Jesus on the side which denotes greater and me on the side that signifies the lesser. 



That is where I want to be at all times. 

Truthfully, He is always greater.

Greater than all that exists or ever exists.

In reality puny me seems to forget that equation and thus puts too much store in self.

The past few days I have been in superwoman mode.

If you had been watching, you might have caught a glimpse of me as I zipped through stores, created a sumptuous dessert, decorated, set the table, prepared nearly every item that graced our table; cleaning up as I went (of course), got myself put together in time to greet guests and then engage in conversation while putting finishing touches on the meal.

That recitation of accomplishments did not, of course, include the usual tasks that are involved in running a home and managing the needs of my handicapped husband.

Now aren't you impressed?

Don't be.

I burnt myself out.

Honestly, I feel like I was hit by a truck!

I was so busy that I neglected to have my son pick up the bottle man, who might have been waiting for the ride.

The bottle man is the nickname the local kids gave him years ago.  He was known to throw bottles at their cars.  I do believe it was after being provoked by said kids.

He lives in a rough house by himself and walks everywhere he goes.

Actually, he walks in the middle of the road and attempts to hitch rides by getting in a car's way.

Since getting to know him I pick him up.

He is not a threat.

When he gets in the car I do ask Papa to make sure that all creatures leave with him that have arrived with him.  I don't think he has washed in years.  He definitely has not washed his clothing for a very long time.

He has been joining us for holiday meals pretty regularly over the past few years.

Until I forgot to have him picked up.

As I lay in bed last night, I experienced a sense of sadness and disappointment.

I think it was a taste of what our friend felt, as he waited for his ride to a holiday meal.

Many of us have had that sinking feeling at some point in our lives.

We had been forgotten.

I really hate that I was responsible for causing someone to feel that way.

Isn't sad to think that I was so focused on the externals that I forgot a person?

What is also sad is that it is so easy for us mere mortals to do.

We lose our focus.

I had lost my focus.

If Jesus had been running the show without interference from me, the man would have definitely not been forgotten.  However, I was too busy with the entertaining part to remember all whom I was to host.

Many years ago I read a book by Karen Burton Maines, "Open Heart, Open Home."

It spoke to me and I made its message my mantra when it came to receiving people into our home.

It taught me the difference between entertaining and hospitality.

Entertaining is putting on a show that ends up wearing you out.

Hospitality is giving your guest the message 'pull up a chair and join my life.'

My mantra slipped a little yesterday, if a mantra can do such a thing.

The bottom line is really that I forgot to look to my LORD and let Him direct the process.  Maybe I would have still done much of the work, but, just maybe, He would have helped me to approach it in a way that wouldn't have left me limp!  I know He definitely would have enabled me to remember all my guests!

He has called me to follow, to look to Him for direction.

In The Message, Eugene Peterson interprets John's words this way:

"This is the assigned moment for Him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines."

John the Baptist had been to main event for a while.  People were flocking to him.

Until Jesus came on the scene.

John's disciples were concerned that their leader would be outshone.

John knew that was appropriate and inevitable.

He knew Jesus was greater than him and worthy to centerstage.

I want Jesus to take center stage in my life.


The sidelines work for me.

I think I have mentioned that I visit a drug/alcohol rehab on Friday afternoons.

Each visit Papa confirms afresh that it is where He wants me.

It is a joy.

However, last Friday was a challenge.

Last week I met with opposition from the enemy. There was a spirit of dis-ease in the place; tensions were high. Two men almost resorted to blows!

Most of the residents could not settle down and they were roaming around from room to room.

Meanwhile, I was drawn into what I thought, at first, was a conversation about the Living God. In reality it was a young Muslim man’s attempt to bait me and expose the error of my ways!

He was not open to discussion, but spoke over my words. This young man became more and more unsettled. I found it unsettling!

Each week I have the opportunity to present the Good News to my friends. This time I had brought a DVD from Jim Cybala’s Bible study on Prayer. One of the segments was the testimony of a heroin addict, who was literally prayed into the kingdom.

Amazingly, all came into the room just as the story began.

Many were moved.

My Muslim friend sat in a thinly veiled posture. I thought he might leap up at any moment.

Before I left for the day I thanked him for talking with me. He seemed surprised.

Fast forward to today.

I told Papa that I was totally wiped out and it was all up to Him; I had to decrease, He had to take center stage.

He smiled.

He had me bring a copy of the Gospel of John for my antagonistic friend.

He also had a message for one of the men who had given me a few requests for prayer.

The air was electrified.

Oh my, the energy was coming from me!

But there was also a receptivity in the air!

When I had arrived my Muslim friend was one of the first people I saw.  He seemed restless.

I asked him how his week had been and he told me that he could not settle down all week. 

Praise God!

He was surprised when I told him that I had something for him.

Later on he received the Gospel willingly and then we had an amazing conversation.

He was so much more open to listen and receive what I had to say.

Papa lead my thoughts and we spoke about sacrifice and atonement.

Before we had conversed today he had a few chores to tend to, but he kept his eye on me while he tended his responsibilities.

Papa is at work.

As I shared the message that Jesus had for all my friends today and then prayed over all of them, I sensed the Presence and Power of God.

Oh yes, He definitely must increase, while I decrease!

Now Papa how do I reach out to the bottle man??

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

What stirs us to be thankful?
To begin with we need to recognize all we have.
It is too easy to take a whole lot of what we have for granted.
Especially if you live in the same country as I do.
The Land of Plenty.

Life is so full and can fill our thoughts and cloud our vision to such an extent that we miss seeing the simple gifts that should be evident every day.

Once we do see them, I believe that we need to realize that we did not gain all of them under our own power.

To be thankful means that there is someone to thank.
Someone cared enough to share....

Their time and energy.
Their resources and abilities.

I have much for which to be thankful and many to thank.
The list is long.

I try to make it a practice of expressing thanks every day and not just once a year.  However, I am certain that I miss the opportunity more than I can to think!

Of course, there is One who really deserves all the thanks for every detail.
The purpose of the very first Thanksgiving Day was for the purpose of setting aside a time to thank Him and to celebrate His blessings.

It is because of Him that anyone anywhere is moved to be kind and caring.
It is because of Him that we have the strength and ability to do anything for ourselves or others.
Hey, we cannot even take another breath apart from Him.

Many will celebrate this day, but I wonder how many will turn their eyes and hearts in gratitude to the One Who makes it all possible.

Psalm One Hundred is known as a Psalm of Thanksgiving.  The words are a fitting close to this posting.

"Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.  Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing.  Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.  Give thanks to Him; bless His Name.  For the LORD is good; His loving kindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Being Watched Over

On the rare occasion I tune into a Christian radio station while driving from one errand to another.
Today was one of those times.
Just in time to hear a comment that got me thinking.....

"Don't we all want to know that we are being watched over?"
The speaker, R C Sproul made the distinction between being watched by someone like Big Brother and someone who cares watching over us.

My mind explored this further.

This kind of caring concern implies a close relationship rather than an impersonal acquaintance.  It also implies that we are never alone, nor forgotten.
I get the picture of a caring parent watching over their little one.

That is what this blog's previous posting was about.  Being seen, really seen.

We can all tell when someone is really seeing us.
They listen.
You have their attention.
They are listening with their heart.

Papa sees us and listens with His Heart.

This kind of listening communicates love.

On a number of occasions I have witnessed a person's response when they realize that they are being seen and heard and that it is with love.
They soften.
I love it!

Earlier today I read an article in my favorite magazine, World.
Mindy Belz wrote this one page article on William Levi, a Sudanese man.  The man had escaped from captivity by Sudan's Islamic army.
He did not grow bitter.

William knew that he was loved, first by his God and secondly by his family.
His family bid him farewell with their blessing and the assurance that their prayers would follow him wherever he went.
He knew he was seen and heard even in the midst of devastating circumstances.

William Levi made it to the United States over time, gained an education and career and then launched Operation Nehemiah.
He did not forget those that were left behind.
The ministry seeks to rebuild walls-the walls of family and community.
So people can know they are seen and heard.

First Peter, Chapter Five, verse seven says,
"Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."
His caring is to show concern according to the Greek, which is the language the Old Testament was originally written.

What a gift to know that our God not only sees us, but is concerned for us.
He watches over us and listens to our hearts.
After all, He is our Papa!

Once we experience this truth, it is then time to extend such a gift to others!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

To See and Be Seen

Ray and I took a trip to Home Depot this evening.  It was my third visit to the place this past week.
As they say the third time's the charm, thanks to a very helpful woman in the window treatment department.
I learned my new thing for the day, thanks to her.  I never knew there was so much involved in choosing a set of blinds for one's window!

Having said the above I need to say that this posting doesn't concern the helpful woman, nor her employer. And it is a bit of a stretch to say the blinds tie in, but I am going to attempt it!

We needed blinds so neighbors and passing cars do not have the option of viewing what goes on in our kitchen once it is dark. The window is a bow so it would be a full view and I'm afraid they might find it so entertaining that they would make a regular habit of watching!
Well, maybe not, but I do prefer no one being able to see me, if I can't see them. 
I want their vision blocked.
There I made it fit!

It was our trip to the store and then back home that got me thinking about seeing.

Recently I have noticed that I do not see that well when driving at night.  Tonight was no exception. 
The rain amplified my problem.

I started to consider what this would mean for Ray and I, if there isn't a remedy for my vision problem.
We would be home bound once the sun goes down.  Yikes!

A number of years ago I had the same problem and a dear friend, who is a doctor, recommended flaxseed oil.  After a few weeks of taking the stuff I realized that my night-vision was much improved.
A while ago I stopped buying the product thinking I could save a little money.  Bad move.
Guess what I am buying tomorrow?

My musings about seeing did not stop there.....

There is a convalescent home a couple miles from our home.  I am not certain what the criteria is to be accepted as a resident, but I have my ideas.
Quite often I see older men walking to town from the facility. 
They walk alone with their head down.
There is always a brown bag in their hands for the return trip.  The bag gives all appearance of being from the local liquor store.

How lonely they seem to me.


That's what their body language says to me.

I am wondering if Papa wants me to visit that place to let them know that they do not go unnoticed?

We'll see, but really how different are these men from so many in this world?

I study people.  How they hold themselves tells a lot. 
Their mouths alone say much without uttering one word.
Down turned and grim. 
Lips pressed together.
There are many more of those than ones that reveal smile lines and an openness to their world.
Not many are comfortable with themselves.

I know.
I was one of them.

Afraid to allow anyone to really see you.
Surely they would reject you, if they could see who you really were.

Self-protection is the watch word.
The lies had done their job and now you need to hide so no one will see.
What is doubly sad is that you dare not allow anyone in and thus none of your relationships run very deep.

I would still be hiding out if I hadn't been startled by the Extravagant Love of my Savior.

What a surprise it was to learn that not only was I seen, but in the seeing I was and am loved!
Such joy to have such a One lift your head and fill your heart!

This knowledge has improved my sight.
Maybe not physically, but how I see others and myself.

It is my prayer that everyone, everywhere would experience the joy of knowing they are seen with love by the Almighty God!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Pupil of His Eye

A few of us sat before the LORD on Saturday morning for an extended time of prayer.
We worshipped Him marvelling over His faithfulness and care of us.
At one point, I thanked Him for His watchful care; that we are never out of His sight.
With those words fresh from my lips, the Holy Spirit brought to mind a verse from The Seventeenth Psalm,
"Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings."
The apple of the eye is its pupil, which I knew, so it stirred an old, old memory.

When I was a very little girl, I was known to look deeply into my grandpa's eyes and exclaim,
"I see me in your eyes!"
What joy bubbled up in my heart over the realization that if I could physically look into the eyes of my God, I would see me!  That is how focused He is on me!!
That is how focused He is on you!!

Psalm One Hundred and Thirty-Nine tells us that..
"You are intimately acquainted with all my ways."
Nothing escapes His notice!

Out of love, His great love He watches over us intently, yet we read in Habakkuk One, Thirteen,
"You are too pure to look at evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor."
A dilemma, if you will, for our God!
A solution was set into motion...
A Sacrifice was made....

Enter Jesus!

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us."

Oswald Chambers said that the forgiveness of our sin came at a great cost to our God and to grasp that is to be constrained by the love of God....
Just where He wants us...
In His loving embrace!

So as you look to Him, look closely and maybe you will catch a glimpse of you in His eyes!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Truth in the midst of Turmoil

Most Friday's I hang out at a drug/alcohol rehab.
They call me "the craft lady", which makes Papa and I chuckle...

Crafts are not my thing.
Small motor control has never been one of my strong points.
However, my God loves to use the weak things to confound the strong..
So He has me there under the guise of supervising crafts.

The staff knows that my visits have little to do with such things, which causes them to smile too.

Out of the closet that bears the sign "Debbie's Closet" we do lug all the bins of craft items every week.
What is in the bins depends quite a lot upon what donations I have received lately.
(Right now a young woman is hoping that I acquire some yarn and a crochet needle.)

The most popular activity is that of jewelry making.
A couple of years ago I hit the jackpot at a tag sale.  I became so excited when I saw all the plastic containers of beads, that the owner gave them to me!  :)

After all the goodies are spread out and selected from I wander around with a sack of candy.  While each resident selects their two pieces I get to touch base with them.
It never fails that one or more need some focused attention.
This is what it is all about!

Last week, as soon as I walked in, Papa pointed out one young fellow to me that needed a word of encouragement, which He supplied.
What a joy to see the change in his countenance.  Papa knew exactly what he needed to hear and he received it with joy!

This week's visit was one of the more difficult ones.
I could sense the tension in the air.
No one could settle down.
There were a few harsh words among them.
At one point I thought two of the guys were going to come to blows!

Even once everything appeared to settle down there was a spirit of turmoil under the surface.

As I walked around touching base with the individuals, one of the young men called me to come sit and talk about God.

Sadly his motive was not to learn anything.  He was not open to one word from me.  This fellow was poised to argue every word that came out of my mouth.
I did not realize his intention at first.

He asked me who God was to me.
That was easy.  I answered, "Savior."
That is first and foremost.

After a few comments between us I learned that he does not believe we are born sinners, nor that we need a Savior.  We just have to choose to do right.  Some choose that and some choose to do wrong.  It is that simple.

I asked him whether he knew anyone that always made the right choices and he said yes.  My response was that then he did not really know them.
He was insistent.

I do not argue.

If you want a debate, you've got the wrong lady.
If you want to discuss and share thoughts, great!

I eased out of our conversation after encouraging him to read through all of scripture to gain the whole story.  Simply taking a few verses out of context never works.

A couple of my friends called to me asking what I would be sharing today.  Stacy shouted to them that my theories had holes in them, but no one paid him any attention.
They need hope and they know that is what I offer them!

Toward the end of each visit I always share some Words from Papa.  This week I came with a DVD that contained the testimony of a man whom God delivered from a very destructive way of life.
The enemy obviously did not think much of this and was causing as much trouble and distraction that he could.
Though the majority of the residents had been roaming around and moving in and out of the area, they now had all found their way back in the room with the television.  Thank You, Papa!
So contrary to the enemy's wishes, the DVD was viewed by them all!
Many were moved.
Stacy had nothing more to say.

Papa will continue to speak each heart, including Stacy's!

"Greater is He, Who is in you, than he who is in the world!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Abundant Life

I was just sitting here reviewing a fund raising letter that was filled with words such as more and increasing.
Of course the words were referring to the needs that confront the ministry on a daily basis.
The needs of those that often do not even have the essentials of life.

The ministry is ACTS4, which is a local outreach that seeks to meet those essential needs.
The greatest need for most is for Jesus.
He's the One who is the motivating factor at ACTS4.
Jesus desires to touch each life that comes their way and those involved are moved by His love.

On a regular basis whole families are clothed and homes are furnished.
However, they don't stop there!
Clothing and furniture wear out and they never satisfy the longing of one's heart and soul.
The staff and volunteers of ACTS4 share the wonderful news of the Savior, The Son of God through whom our greatest need can be met.

As I thought about this I thought of Jesus' Words found in the Tenth chapter of John, the tenth verse,
"The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."
What does He mean?  What does that abundant life look like?

It is a life full of God... 
A life lived with the knowledge that God is with you, loves you and will never desert you...

It is a life where Papa gives you all the things that others failed to give and so much more...
Unconditional love...
The privilege of being able to love Him back...
An intimate relationship with Him...
The ability to become all He intended you to be...
Eternal life...

It is a life where God is always speaking to you..teaching you...blessing you...
It is my prayer that I always look closely at His Words and hold them closely to my heart,

It is a life where you can have a pure religion that is reflected in our lives...

It is a life where obedience brings great blessing...
What a joy to sense His pleasure!

It is a life where even the mundane, ordinary things gain significance as we see them through His eyes and perform them to His glory...

It is a life where you experience the truth that you cannot out give God. And when you get that you are eager to walk in it!

"Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return."
That is what I would tell those who can help support the ministry of ACTS4.
That is what I love to tell those who seek support from the ministry of ACTS4.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Divine Designs

Papa has given me a few things to chew on this week through the words of Oswald Chambers.

"It requires the culture of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail."
"Be ready to discover the divine designs everywhere!"
"There is something amazingly humbling, particularly to our religious conceit, in being loyal to God."
What a gift to be able to recognize the Hand of our God in all the moments of our life.
We need to know what that Hand looks like to be able to recognize it.
To cultivate that does take discipline.

Get to know Him.
More and more.
It takes time and focus.
As our relationship deepens, so will our eyesight.

Not only will we notice His Hand, but we will begin to connect the dots and see that there is a design to all of it.
He is the Master Designer!

Ah yes, religious conceit...

Oh, I am so spiritual...

I read my Bible and am well versed.
I pray.  My prayers cover many people and situations.
I attend church regularly!  Besides that I am on committees and am involved in ministry!
And do you know how long I have been a Christian??

Yet, in all that we can be disloyal to Him.

In Matthew Sixteen, verse twenty-four we read,
"Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'"
Following Him gets messy.
It takes you beyond the church walls.
It requires you to live what you have read in the Scriptures.
And your prayers get taken over by His Spirit, which means praying will never be the same!
Life will never be the same.

To which I say Hallelujah and Glory!!

So does Jim Cymbala.
My bible study group has been using his study entitled "When God's People Pray."
The man is anointed and Papa has been using this study to speak to our hearts.

I am so amazed by my wonderful Savior.   When He wants to make a point, He pulls all the stops out!
The study on prayer has simply underscored everything else He has been saying to me.

He threw some music into the mix too.

At the retreat that I attended recently someone brought in a CD by David Kauffman.  It's title is "Surrender."

I borrowed the CD and cannot get enough. 
Each and every song ministers to my heart.

You see, as we open up our hearts and lives to this Amazing God, He ministers to us in love.
Wrapped up in all that divine love how can you do anything but be a loyal follower.

The Hand of the Almighty God continues to fashion unique designs for those who loyally follow to discover.

What treasures await us!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Cause for Worship

"Worship is when you're aware that what you've been given is far greater than what you can give.  Worship is the awareness that were it not for His touch, you'd still be hobbling and hurting, bitter and broken.  Worship is the half-glazed expression on the parched face of a desert pilgrim as he discovers that the oasis is not a mirage."
Thank you Max Lucado.

Here's the rub....
We have to stop and reflect on what we have been given.
We need to remember where we came from; who we were.
We must seek the refreshment that the Oasis offers.

If we don't, we cheat ourselves out of so much that is ours in Jesus Christ.

Papa brought my attention to a couple of specifics this morning, as I reflected on what is mine because of His Son.

I am being made whole, complete, brand new.  Our God makes all things new.  He doesn't patch us up, but begins a new work in us.
Paul closed his first letter to the Thessalonians with a blessing.
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our LORD Jesus Christ."
Is that something I can do for myself?  Of course not.
Paul followed with this reminder:
"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."
That's one of my life verses.  It is such an encouragement to me.
He called me to Himself and He has called me to be holy and whole.  He will see to it!

So I can say as Paul did in Galatians Two, verse twenty:
"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me."
Right there I read of my new life, in Christ!  This means Jesus will be seen in and through me! 
That is my fervent desire!!

There is so much more, but here is just one more....

He has given His Word to set me free.

This morning my pastor spoke from Leviticus Twenty-six.
He tied it into a number of verses including John Chapter Eight where Jesus told some of those who believed in Him that knowing the truth sets you free.

Our God, the One who is Holy and Almighty loves us so much that He desires for us to be free.
Free to
enjoy Him
and life
and one another.
He doesn't desire to restrict us to make us miserable, but gives us His law so we will be free from all that would drag us down and cause us to mistake the Oasis for a mirage.

I, for one, do not want to miss out on anything my God has for me.
And I definitely do not want to be hobbled.....
Cause I like dancing for and with Him too much!

The old hymn by Charles Wesley is playing in my mind:
"And can it be that I should gain

An interest in the Savior’s blood?

Died He for me, who caused His pain—

For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be,

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Amazing love! How can it be,

That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:

Who can explore His strange design?

In vain the firstborn seraph tries

To sound the depths of love divine.

’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,

Let angel minds inquire no more.

’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;

Let angel minds inquire no more.

He left His Father’s throne above

So free, so infinite His grace—

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam’s helpless race:

’Tis mercy all, immense and free,

For O my God, it found out me!

’Tis mercy all, immense and free,

For O my God, it found out me!

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—

I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Still the small inward voice I hear,

That whispers all my sins forgiven;

Still the atoning blood is near,

That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.

I feel the life His wounds impart;

I feel the Savior in my heart.

I feel the life His wounds impart;

I feel the Savior in my heart.

No condemnation now I dread;

Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;

Alive in Him, my living Head,

And clothed in righteousness divine,

Bold I approach th’eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

Bold I approach th’eternal throne,

And claim the crown, through Christ my own."

As King David would say...

"Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness!"


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fancier Footwork

This morning Papa showed up in His dancing shoes and swept me right off my feet!

He makes me giddy! The joy of my salvation is on overdrive…

There are times, when I open His Word and it touches the very depths of my heart and soul. This is one of those times.

At the beginning of every year my LORD and I spend time conferring over what scripture I should be claiming and then praying for each of the Reynolds’ clan. He neither waited for the end of the year nor for me to ask this time.

It all started earlier this week.

Each day of the week I , of course, pray for all the family, but with a bit more focus on one person or another. This week the Holy Spirit kept redirecting my prayers to new perspectives, which came from fresh scripture.

So encouraging! A reminder of His love for all my dear family.

Saturday is the day He and I focus on me.

True to how He has been leading these past few days, Papa revealed the emphasis that I am to have regarding what He desires for His girl.

"Rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer.”

That is Romans Twelve, verse twelve.

As I read this verse, I thought to myself that I do seek to practice these things.

-He has always kept the hope He gives fresh in my heart.

-He also always encourages and comforts me to keep handing on.

-And I know He has called me to pray.

However, at this time, Papa has taken these three and implanted them more deeply into my spirit.

As I received this gift from Him, the joy was more than I could contain!

I have asked Him to write them on my heart….


It may be painful at times, but the pain will be wrapped in grace and infused with joy!

I hope it is a fitting epitaph for me when my life on earth is over.

The dance steps get more intricate, but my Papa always takes the lead!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Part of the Equation

This day marks Ray’s and my thirty-third wedding anniversary. 

They have been full years.  There have been many challenges and blessings; many opportunities to draw nearer to Papa.

In C S Lewis' final book of his Narnia series, “The Final Battle” Aslan (a Christ figure) calls out to his followers to…

“….come further up, come further in.”

That call has been a constant in my life.  Jesus has used all that has filled our life to call to me, over and over.

I praise His Holy Name!

Many watching from the sidelines of our life together were certain that our marriage couldn’t last or definitely would not be anything of substance.

They neglected to factor God into the equation!  Nothing is impossible with God!  Even when He has to work with two, very rough around the edges, individuals!

Papa tells us through Isaiah, in the fifty-fifth chapter, the ninth verse,

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.”

I have sought to pray as David prayed in Psalm twenty-five ,

“Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.”

Something I am learning is that everything that comes into our life is intended to become a blessing.

We are called to respond by blessing our God, but as David, as king, prayed in First Chronicles, all that we have comes from Him.  All we can offer Him is what He has given us.

Once anything is in our hands it seems to become marred.  However, if we offer it back to Him, He restores it, making it new and beautiful.

The gift of faith enables us to see the beauty before and as it is being formed.

Being His child, being able to address Him as Papa, Daddy, reflects the kind of relationship the blood of Jesus has brought me into. 

A relationship of intimacy, tenderness, dependence and complete lack of fear or anxiety.

So as He is  tending to our transformation  individually and as a couple, we can rest in Him!

Whatever the next thirty-three years holds, I know Who will be part of the equation!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Assaulted or Refreshing?

“LORD, teach me to listen.  The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them.  Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, ‘Speak , for Thy servant heareth.’”
That is from a little calendar that offers excerpts from A. W. Tozer’s  “The Pursuit of God.”
The man died in the year nineteen hundred and sixty-three. Imagine what he would say if he was living now?
His words resonate with me.  My ears are under assault too.  So are my eyes and it makes my brain overload!
I made the mistake of setting my cell phone up so that status updates from Face Book are directed to it.
Big Mistake!!   In no time at all I have dozens of the updates in my message folder.  My phone flashes until I clear them.  One at a time…
I cannot figure out, as yet, how to stop this assault, but I will!
My email box is a little easier to manage….I just hit that nice little “x” at the top of the page.  I dare not read everything that comes my way!
As for the Internet itself, it could swallow you whole!
One thing I am learning is that I cannot let all this technology consume me.  I do not want to be a slave to any of it. 
I already have a Master.
And I want to be free to hear HIs Voice.
Discipline and balance.  They are the key.
I am determined to use all the technology as handy tools, not as consuming passions.
I have a consuming passion.  His Name is Jesus.
This week I am hanging out in Philemon.  It is a little epistle of Paul’s.  Just twenty-five verses in all, but they are overflowing with examples to follow.  Examples to adopt for one’s own life.
I have been chewing on verse seven.
“For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.”
Oh, how I want to be one who refreshes the hearts of the saints! 
Not only do I desire to refresh my fellow believers, but everyone who come across my path.
We learn from that verse that it is Philemon’s love that did the refreshing.  But where did he get such love? 
From Papa, of course.
When we receive Him, we receive His love.  As we draw nearer to Him and learn from Him, we will be filled to overflowing with His love.
Yes! Overflowing all over everybody in our lives!
It was that love that gave Paul such joy and comfort.  He know he could count on that love.
Not many know that kind of love. 
Those of us who do, must guard our hearts and minds.  We dare not allow the assault to continue. 
To sustain such love and to actually overflow we must hear from Him continually.  We must be able to hear Him.
So instead of surfing the web, I think I’ll surf my Bible and listen for His Voice!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Still Learning

For the past hour I have sat in front of this new laptop of mine attempting to become a little more familiar with its way of doing things. Its ways are different than my old PC and now I need to adapt to these changes.

To be honest I do not want to have to learn a new way. The old way worked well and I was very comfortable with it!

All I want to do is boot up the computer and do my thing. Whether writing a new post for this blog, handling finances or checking Facebook, among many other things, I just want to do what I have been doing.

I do not want to have to figure out how Google Chrome’s autocomplete works, besides I can’t even find it!

And hey, where is iTunes? How about the program for my Blackberry??

It would be lovely if someone just took this beautiful new machine, found and organized all that stuff and then gave it back ready for action!

Oh, oh the brat is showing her colors again….

Down girl!!

There are quite a few mentions of what I do or do not want in just a short space. Such an attitude isn’t fitting for Papa’s girl….

As I sit back and seek my Savior’s help in getting a little different perspective, I am reminded of the title given to a devotional thought by Oswald Chambers that I noted in my journal just yesterday.
“The Undetected Sacredness of Circumstances.”
Every circumstance is sacred because He is in our midst.


He has something for His child in every situation.
Even something like having to learn how to work with a new computer!

What could He have for me in this little situation?

-An opportunity to help those neurotransmitters keep sparking and growing. Not such a bad thing for this sixty year old brain!

-A gentle reminder that when I start getting a bit crazed and impatient it is usually that I am feeling overly-responsible and pressured. Both unnecessary. All the stuff will get done or not, but Papa reminds me to not let it distract me from the good part, which is Him.

-And the realization that once I learn all this new fangled stuff I will have more tools available to me.

There is more, I am sure, but just these three are pretty good. And the best part is that it all sets me up to be able to serve Him from a stronger place!

Papa blessed me with this new computer for His glory.

I am always telling Him that I want to do all things for Him and His glory.

All things…

Ministering to my husband and family, which includes all the details of running a home…
Caring for friends and reaching out to people far and wide, in whatever form it takes….

All for His glory.

I love the picture that is drawn by the Scripture that fills the heading of this blog. I especially love the phrase..
“For we are a fragrance of Christ to God…”
That is one sweet fragrance!

It is a picture of sacrifice.

Of course it is, for Jesus was the Sacrifice and it is His fragrance that we carry.

During Bible study last night we turned to a number of different passages, but one captured my attention and I made note of it.

We were reading from Isaiah One where God calls the people’s sacrifices worthless.

They were going through the motions, but their hearts weren’t in all of it.

In the Old Testament God makes it very clear what kind of sacrifices are acceptable. They must be of quality, no cutting corners, no compromising.

True sacrifice is an act of obedience. Willing obedience.

So whether I am at this computer or making a meal, I want to remember that there is a sacredness about each moment because He is there and I want to enter into each moment with Him and for Him wholeheartedly!

That is one lesson that I am eager to learn!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Our household is totally up and running now.  Yesterday evening we received our power back after spending seven days without it and a short while ago our phone, cable and Internet were returned to us!

Being without an Internet connection was probably the most difficult part of the whole adventure for me.
However, after a little bit of a fuss I realized that I needed to settle down and accept the situation.  After all I was powerless to do anything about it.

Many think that the utility companies were the ones who had the control over who receive their services back and when, but I know differently.
Papa is always in control.
All that He allows, whether good or bad, is for a good purpose; often there are many layers of purposes involved.

His intention is always to bless.
I can easily see a few of those blessings.

The theme of the retreat that I took part in last week was Blessings.
We explored what the word means and where to look to discover them.

Blessings are gifts of God's grace. 
They bring success, but not as we generally define the word.
True success is to be right with our God and to reflect Him.

As we dug into His Word we found that there are many blessings enfolded in page after page.
And as we reflected we realized that if we take the time, we will find blessings enfold in our lives constantly.

Now it is one thing to find them written in the Scriptures and an entirely other thing to experience them.
This reminds me of what Graham Cooke taught at one of his conferences.

He used a visual, actually two of them.
In the front of the sanctuary there stood two arches that were probably fifteen or twenty feet high.  One represented knowledge and the other experience. 
He explained that whether we encounter a truth through experience or knowledge, it needs to then be confirmed with the the second.
For example, should I discover a promised blessing in the Bible I then need to experience its unfolding in my life.  And if I experience one in my life, I will also find the confirmation in His Word.

We cannot ride on experience alone, as it will become lifeless with time without confirmation and if we stop at finding it on the pages of The Book, it will be dry and lifeless.

As we spent some time in prayer and meditation a beautiful vision filled my thoughts and stirred my heart.

I saw Jesus walking alongside each one of us, as we traversed this life.  Many things littered the path we had walked and much fell to the sides. 
Every experience, every joy, every sorrow, every pain was represented. 
All of it seemed to be ashes.  The ashes were dry and lifeless.

As Jesus walked with us, He kept reaching into those ashes and gathering them into His Hand.  He did not only reach for those representing a pleasant memory, but included each and every bit of that which represented the entirety of our life. 
When He opened His Hand the ashes had been turned into something of beauty.

This brought to mind the beautiful verse in Isaiah Sixty-One, verse three in the KJV,
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified."
He intends to bring blessing out of all of it! 
Isn't that exciting??

Once we have received a blessing it is our turn to share it. One of the woman at our retreat made the comment that to bless another is to be on the same page with God. I like that!

To bless is to thank, praise, affirm, extol, or exalt with joy. Who better to bless than our God who so generously pours out His blessings?!

From there it will be a joy to pass them on!

Being on a hunt to discover as many blessings as I can, both in the Bible and in my every day, I have started to register my discoveries in a separate journal.
It is amazing just how many there are and equally amazing how many I have been overlooking!

So what are some of the blessings that I realized that came from this past week of being energy-less?

The fresh discovery of quiet.
The realization that I have been trying to respond to too much of the stimuli that comes my way.
The joy of family without the usual distractions.
Did I mention quiet?

I am eager to learn what other blessings Papa has and will bring from all of it!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Telephone poles cracked in half, trees toppled over the roads all taking a myriad of wires with them, which left the majority of the residents and businesses in a good part of our state without power. 
Without power means no electricity, nor heat for most, as well as no water for those of us with wells.
It also means no Internet!!  I had no idea how dependent I am on it!

Having heard the weather report, we ended our retreat early on Saturday.  As we ate our last meal together the snow began to fall.  Within twenty minutes quite a bit had accumulated, which made the drive home much more interesting than usual!

Besides slippery conditions many roads were impassable due to the fallen trees.  Poor trees!  There was nothing gentle with the way they cracked, nor fell!  The storm was brutal; heavy, wet snow clinging to the stubborn leaves, which had refused to fall to the ground for the year.
Add nervous drivers into the mix and it was a challenge to say the least!
On a good day I question how many received their driver's license; on a day where the road conditions are bad that question is underscored!

As of last night our family now has a generator, so we have heat, lights and water.  Thank You, Papa!
Many still do not and I hope that we do not overlook anyone that we can share our comfortable conditions with in the duration!

Through all of this I have had so many thoughts to share here, but with no way to do it.  Very frustrating!

I have been jotting a few notes down in hopes that I wouldn't lose all the words that have been filling my mind.  Much of it will have to wait for now.  I am using my friend's computer and she will be needing it shortly.

The night before last I headed to Starbucks because they have WiFi.  I ordered some fancy decaf thing so I would feel comfortable sitting in their shop.  I don't generally enjoy their products.
Settling down with the steaming cup and powering up my laptop is as far as I got that night.  I could not get on line.  It asked for a password and I got confused.
Hey, I am not that computer savoy...It is a new laptop and I am not that familiar with it yet, so it just threw me.

On the way home I asked Papa if He was trying to tell me something...like that I don't need to write...
My book has been on hold with all the activity that goes on in my home, as well as me sorting through all the feelings that our adventure has stirred in me. 
So am I not suppose to write??
A question came to mind...What would you do with all those words that come to you and cry to be expressed?
Oh, so this is just a way of encouraging me to focus on my writing, of urging me to give it more attention?

Something else that has been underscored through this latest adventure is that even though I do rely upon electricity and the Internet for many things, I am fine without them simply because the truth is that I am truly dependent upon just one thing...My Papa!

He takes care of His girl and all His children.
Papa used the storm and its results to extend my retreat in a way.

Sure I had to lug buckets of water from the pool...so grateful that we have that pool!
My headlamp became part of me....very glad for this gift from Matt that had seemed curious to me at the time.
Cooking was interesting....we do have a gas stove, so it was more about being creative with that which was ready to perish!
I could go on, but though we had some chores to do there was much time to be still.  It is sobering to realize just how much of our time is taken up with electronics!

In place of all those electronics...
There was game playing....
Sitting, watching the fire in the fireplace....another blessing!
Time to just be...

And above all was a sense of His Presence and an assurance that He has everything under control.

Yes, I am dependent, but totally upon Him!