Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weighty Issues

A conversation that I had with someone near and dear to me has been weighing heavily upon my heart.

The man considers himself an agnostic.  He now rejects the Gospel.  Yes, there most likely is a God, as there seems to be some evidence to confirm this.  However, that God cannot be the One that I follow that allows anyone to go to Hell.

As I thought his words over, with Papa’s guidance, a few thoughts came to mind that I would like to direct to him.

I will be asking him to come to this site to read this entry.  Originally I intended to simply put this in a letter, but felt the Spirit resisting that idea.  It seems He wants it presented here.

My dear one is a moral man.  He knows there is a right and a wrong.  Subsequently, as a father he has dealt out consequences, both positive and negative.  At times he has resisted intervening so that his children could learn from their wrong choices.  It paid off.

If those children had decided to go their own way and not choose to admit their failures, but instead kept on the chosen path, he would have let them.  There would have been great sorrow, but with it the recognition that each one must choose their own path.

Just like God.

It brings to mind the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Oh how the father watched and longed for his son!  And when he caught a glimpse of his boy at a distance, he forsook his dignity, hiked up his robes and ran to meet him!

That father is a picture of our Heavenly Father.

He loves us deeply, more than we can even imagine, and He longs for us to love Him too. 

Love isn’t love unless it is given willingly.  That is why He did not make puppets.  He is no puppeteer. He calls to us to come to Him.
“ My Beloved responded and said to me, ‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along.’”*
Something else occurs to me.  He is the Source of all moral sense of right and wrong.  If there were not a Source, then how could there be such a thing as morals?  Where would it come from?  Who would set the standard?

Another thought that came to me is who are we, fallible and imperfect as we are, to judge the Supreme Almighty God?  If we could understand all His ways, He wouldn’t be God. 
He has said,
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”**
It is to this One, whose love I continually enjoy, who is utterly trustworthy, that I entrust my dear one.

*   Song of Solomon 2:10
** Isaiah 55:8

Thursday, October 25, 2012

True Healing

It is that time of year when the debate begins in our home.
To turn on the heat or not, that is the question?
Quite often the putting on of layers wins out over the burning of oil.

The past couple of days have been overcast and damp, which means even though the thermometer registers a not very cold temperature, the air is chilled.
Layers work for the most part, however not today.

Though the temperature is a reasonable fifty-five outside my door and sixty-six degrees indoors I am freezing.  (That is Fahrenheit).

I think I am under the weather.  No, I am certain that I am.
And it has nothing to do with the actual weather.

I am freezing and my stomach and a few connecting organs are waging a battle within.
While some run a fever, mine is known to run the other way.
The oral thermometer reads ninety-seven point one.
No wonder I am so cold.  There is ice in my veins!

With a warm mug of tea in hand I want turn our thoughts to a subject that Papa has been speaking to me about for a while now. and which seems appropriate for the day.


Papa has brought a number of teachings my way on the subject.

For me the crux of the issue is not whether God is able to heal everyone of all physical ailments.
Of course He can!
Neither is it whether He is willing.
Of course He is!

I believe the definition of healing is the issue.
Our God is after much more for us than simply a whole body.

Yes, it is easy for me to say since I have been fortunate to have good health.
I do not consider the occasional bug anything worthy of complaint.

Yet, I have experienced other battles, which could have just as easily been vanquished by my God in an instant and which would have brought Him much glory.
However, hindsight definitely comes with twenty-twenty vision.

Our God sees the whole person; body, soul and spirit.
Jesus said it best in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter Sixteen, verses Twenty-Four and following,
"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.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it.  For what will a man be profited, if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? "
Often we put too much value on the physical world while essentially denying the reality of soul and spirit.
And eternity.

He has called us to...
"Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." 
This does not mean we are to "be so heavenly minded that we are of no earthly good", nor does it mean that He does not want us to enjoy this life.
He wants us to seek Him for all things and revel in the truth that He is all we need.
How He satisfies the soul that discovers this truth and holds onto it!

I have come to learn that Papa has a purpose for all that He allows to touch His child's life.
And He intends to work it all out for good!

Do not think I am drawing a picture of a life of passivity!
Rather one of activity, brimming with life!

You cannot read anywhere in Scripture where we are called to be other than active in our living of the life He has given us.
Even being still before Him means we are engaging with Him.
It is not, as many other religions teach, an emptying oneself and mind to be carried off into some state of dry emptiness, but an opening up to the One who can fill us to overflowing with Living Water!

It is at such times that I have received much healing.
At times it has been physical, but more significant to me, many times healing has come to my soul and spirit.
Such healing brings a wholeness that goes beyond anything we could experience physically.

This morning I was reflecting on the journey that the Israelites took through the wilderness and how something that could have been realized in about forty days took forty years.
Because of unbelief.

Our gracious God spoke to my heart this morning and reminded me that His children are no different today.
He intends so much blessing for His children, yet we settle for so much less.
Often we do not believe He could possibly mean for us to be the recipients, as we are unworthy.  At other times, I think, we believe we can attain it on our own.  Then there is, also, the lie that whispers that there is no more to be had.

In the opening verses of the Old Testament book of Joshua the LORD speaks to Joshua and assures Him that he can have all that he claims.
He also tells Joshua that he must be strong and courageous.
As our faith is engaged, we can be bold, for faith reminds us that our God is with us.  Just as He was with Joshua.

What is the Living God calling you to claim today?
Step out in faith and receive it.  It is yours for the taking!
Yes, healing comes in all sizes and shapes.
Often it is the healing of our faith.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Distant God?

Recently a friend of mine and I were in conversation and the topic of discussion was our love of books.
We both usually have a few books going at the same time.
In our piles a number of genres are represented.

We discovered that we have both wanted to read something by a particular author, but had not gotten around to doing so as of yet.
The author is Flannery O'Connor.

Ms. O'Connor has been referenced by authors we have read and often enough to catch our attention.
We resolved to remedy the situation soon and then get together to share our findings.

Shortly afterward I was on an appropriate website and took the opportunity to order a used copy of Flannery O'Connor's short stories.
Meanwhile, my friend had picked up a short novel by this author.

We decided we would swap books once we finished reading and then discuss them.

After reading a few of her short stories I felt that I had experienced enough of her writing.
The woman was an excellent writer, but her stories are not light reading by any means.
She viewed life through a very dark lens.

My friend and I met for tea this morning and Flannery came up in conversation.  We both looked at each other and immediately knew that neither one of us were interested in pursuing anymore of her thoughts!

What I found most oppressive was Flannery O'Connor's perspective on God.
She presented Him as illusive and distant; not caring, nor One who cares whether His children grasp how to know Him and His will.

That is not the God I know.

How grateful I am to Jesus for opening the way up for me to know Him intimately!

In Reflections for Ragamuffins, Brennan Manning states,
"Jesus brought a revolution to the understanding of God.  It is impossible to exaggerate the extravagance of the Father's compassion and love."
How sad that the author, Ms. O'Connor didn't grasp that truth!

In reflecting over this I thought of how there are always so many things vying for our attention, for our adoration.  How easily we could find ourselves following after any one of these "gods".

Thank You, Jesus, for making it clear Whom it is that deserves all our worship!

What a comfort to know that the Living God is not distant, but right here with us and that we can trust Him for He is faithful.

Yes, we can trust Him, but do we?
Oh, it is easy to trust Him when life continues on in a safe, predictable way, but it is a different story when change looms on the horizon!

Change comes in all sizes and shapes.
Whether it is dealing with the new world of Medicare for my honey or seeing a dear son struggling, it all comes down to "Letting go and letting God."

So often I seem to have to wrestle first!

Papa spoke to my heart this morning in one simple verse found in the First chapter of Deuteronomy.  It is the Sixth verse.
"The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, 'You have stayed long enough at this mountain."
I can tell you that the Israelites were not  happy campers.  Literally!

The LORD knows it is not good for us to get stuck.  He knows we need to move on, to keep growing, experiencing and learning
The only way to do so is to put our trust in Him.

I trust that He will help me sort out the new way of doing insurance and He will help me to remember that all our children are men now and need to work their own issues out.  Without mommy.

The thing is that as hard as I find t is to let go, when I do, then I discover blessings that I would have missed if I had stayed stuck!

The greatest blessing is to rediscover and experience more fully the truth that my God is not distant at all.
He is as close as my breathe and seeks to take me deeper and higher in that intimacy.

Let's not follow in Flannery's footsteps, but let's taste and see that the LORD is good and then drink deeply!

Saturday, October 20, 2012


When you read the title of this posting, what did it bring to mind?

In the era of communication that we live in it wouldn't be surprising to learn that your thoughts went to one of  the electronic devices that is always close to hand.
Text messages, instant messages, emails, social and career networks, as a way of staying connected, hold a very big place in many of our lives.
Personally I am very appreciative of the convenience that these afford.
I am not much of a "phone person", yet I do like to stay in touch with numerous dear ones.
A quick text or email can keep the connection alive.

Yet, there is nothing like face-to-face connecting!

Last week I climbed into my lovely "Pearly" and off we went on our travels, which allowed me numerous in-person connections.

For years I would head off to visit our son and his family in West Virginia and complete the eight hour trip in one day.  However, I am no longer up to so much driving all at once, which means it now takes two days to travel.
Fortunately, I have a number of friends who live about half way, so I use the break to catch up with one or another of them.

My west bound trip's overnight stay was with a dear friend of over thirty-eight years.  Anita is in her eighties now and beginning to experience a few health issues, so I am always glad to be able to check in on her.

We have had a running discussion regarding the identity of God.
My friend has embraced many schools of thought while trying to incorporate Jesus into the lot.
She has stubbornly insisted that it was working.
Until recently.

My precious friend is in a battle, which I believe to be spiritual.
She is experiencing much anxiety and struggles with depression.
As I sat with her and prayed for her, she sensed Papa's Presence.  A light came into her eyes and she visibly relaxed.
Sadly she cannot sustain this by herself, as much of that which she has embraced over the years rises up to bring confusing thoughts, which sends her slipping back into the darkness.
I wish I could take her home with me, so I could encourage her by reminding her of the Truth all through the day, every day!
The truth is she needs her own connection with the Living God.

Our Gracious God so desires an intimate connection with each one of us!

It is such a privilege to enjoy such a connection and when you do, you are eager to enter ever deeper into such a bond.

I reluctantly bid my friend goodbye.  My heart was conflicted: not wanting to say goodbye to her and yet eager to head off to see my beloved family/

What a wonderful time of year to be driving through the landscape!  The autumn foliage was brilliant!  How generous our Creator is in sharing such beauty with us!

As I drove, surrounded by such beauty, I alternated my time between talking with Papa, praising Him with  music; more praise as I listened to some very stirring sermons and a then a change of pace by listening to a very entertaining audio book.
All of which meant that I arrived at our son's home in high spirits!

His home is situated on a hill with a few others, all of which overlook numerous wooded areas, streams and ponds.  Everywhere you look you encounter Papa's handiwork.
His greatest handiwork is that which He made in His own image.

Though it was a joy to spend a few days with said son and his family, the highlight was Ariana, my nearly two-year old great granddaughter!  She is the most cheerful, sweet, beautiful toddler I have known.
Yes, I know that I might be a bit prejudiced, but it is still true!

Heading home with a overnight with one more friend I made a little detour on another friend's behalf.  Our beloved James needed something picked up in New Jersey and I did not have to go too far afield to do this for him.  Anything for James!

The man holding the items runs a farm stand next to his home, so our business was transacted in the midst of mums of numerous colors, pumpkins and gourds of all sizes and shapes; all overshadowed by gloriously autumn-colored trees.  In such a setting it was not difficult to indulge the man's perchance for story telling!

Finally Pearly and I were on the road heading home looking forward to the face-to-face connections that the word "home" represents.

As I traversed the roads, along with many others, I reflected on how much richer all my connections are because of Jesus.

Many will remember WWJD? from the nineties.
It stands for What Would Jesus Do?
Some made it much more complicated than it really is.

What would Jesus do in each and every connection with any person?  He would (and did) demonstrate grace and speak truth.
That is my goal.

And by His grace, relying upon His Spirit it is an obtainable goal!

A friend and I were in conversation last night.  We were discussing the difference abiding in Jesus makes in all aspects of our lives.
When we stay close to Him, we will not strive within ourselves, nor in our relationships.

He promised that Living Water would flow through us.
We just need to stay closely connected to the Source!

It makes the whole difference!

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Our weekend plans dramatically changed from what we thought we would be doing.
The plan was to spend time with family around a campfire for a few days, but Papa had another plan.
If I had paid closer attention I would have known this sooner than later.

Nothing flowed, but I pressed on; then people began to get sick and we realized that it just was not going to work.  This means that I am now left with quite a bit of food which we don't normally eat!  Fortunately, for our Timothy, he does and is glad to help us out!

So after a morning of leisure with Jesus, I made a list of what I thought I should do with the rest of the day.
One of the items was to write a letter to one of the inmates that I correspond with regularly.
His letter had been sitting on my desk as a reminder of my need to send a response.

This particular man struggles greatly with anger issues.
He thinks he is trusting in His Savior, but often is deceived.

Papa has been stirring me to reflect on the importance of one's thought life.
Always a good reminder.

I shared with my friend what I have been hearing from our God.
The key is two fold:  Be in God's Word and converse with Him about what He reveals to you.

Scripture is filled with examples of His children remembering Who He is and His faithfulness in the face of trials and temptations.
""We have thought on Your loving kindness, O God, in the midst of Your temple."*
"I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings;  I muse on the work of Your hands."**
"Why are you in despair, O my soul?  And why have you become disturbed within me?  Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance, and my God."*** 

Romans Twelve, verse Two reminds us of the benefit of renewing our minds.
""And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." 
And the wonderful verse found in Philippians Four tells us what we should fill our mind with,
""Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."
Temptations will come, but according to the Tenth chapter of First Corinthians, God will provide a way of escape.  Every time!
I believe the battle is in our minds.

This is what I heard from Papa:
"Temptations are an opportunity to go deeper and higher in our commitment, identity and relationship with the Living God."

We will not rise above our thoughts.  So let's fill them with theTruth!
Use the tools He has given us -  the Spirit and His Word!

*    Psalm 48:9
**  Psalm 143:4-5
*** Psalm 42:11

Thursday, October 4, 2012

For His Glory

Earlier today I was wondering how I could find time to do a little writing.
It is my goal to do so for two hours each weekday, but somehow keep falling short of  it.

Well, my schedule altered come late morning.
Just before I was to head out I decided to carry the recycling down via our back porch stairs.  The stairs are wooden, of course.  I was wearing my comfy, old sandals, which I would shortly be exchanging for my going out into public sandals.
The comfy ones have very little tread left on their soles.
It had been raining.
Know where this is going?

Yes, about halfway down my feet flew out from under me and I body surfed the rest of the way down.
I laid there a moment assessing any injuries and was greatly relieved that I had no broken bones.
Praise You, Papa!!

The bump that was rising on my thigh was a small price to pay!

Needless to say, I decided it was wiser to stay home and pack my body in ice for a while...
Which accounts for my finding time to write.

Before showing up at this site, I went to something that I am working on, which needs to be my top priority.  I am preparing a talk that I will be giving this December and a devotional booklet, which I hope to be able to offer to my audience.
Papa had gotten me started on the devotional a while ago, even before I was invited to speak.  When I was asked, I knew that it was from the LORD, because He had already given me the material..

The problem is that, now that I have a deadline, I am having trouble focusing on it!  Do you know why?  Because I work best under pressure!
What is difficult about that fact is that I have a tendency to make myself just a little crazy in the process!

So I will share what is on my heart for this posting and then attempt to get myself to settle down with the other.

I was chewing on the first seven verses of Genesis Eleven this morning, which is the telling of how the people of the earth came to speak more than one language.

The people had decided to stick close together and said to one another....
"Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth."
The LORD God was not pleased.

This is what He had to say...
"Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language.  And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them."

They would feel invincible and not see their need for God.
The Creator knows what is best for us and doesn't want us to settle for less.

Besides, their decision to stick together disobeyed His instructions.  Two chapters earlier He had told Noah and his family that His desire was for the whole earth to be populated.  That meant spreading out, not sticking together.

Here is what the Spirit spoke to me:

1 - The LORD has called us to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim His Good News.  We are to go out beyond the walls of our churches to do so.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

Sounds like a big job, but we have a big God, who promises to not only be with us, but to give us the Words and the power needed to do what He has called us to do!
One of my life verses assures us that He will indeed do it.  It is found at the end of  First Thessalonians,
"Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass."

2 - God desires unity among His children, but it is to reflect His glory, not their own and cause our world's attention to be drawn to Him.
"...that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that You did send Me."

If we abide in Him, then we won't lose sight of who should be getting the glory!

Let's give Him all the glory.
The world is watching.

Thank You Papa that we can bring you glory every moment of our every day.  Even when we find ourselves laying at the bottom of a set of stairs!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Wide Awake

I haven't had one of these nights in quite a while....
It is two in the morning and I am awake; really awake, with no feeling of being sleepy.

I was sound asleep when our Sushi girl began to throw her fluffy, white body against our bedroom door; alternating with clawing at said door accompanied with plaintive cries.
All the commotion called me rather abruptly out of a deep sleep.
Never a good thing.

By the time I had investigated the problem and resolved it (Sushi couldn't find our little Stir-Fry and she was lonely!), I was wide awake.
To be honest, I didn't actually resolve anything.  Stir-Fry simply appeared after I had wondered through the entire house with his worried friend.
Back to bed I went to toss and turn for about an hour.

Being awake in the middle of the night is a good opportunity to pray.
There is never a lack of material for prayer!
Tonight was no different.

I had been praising Papa all evening for some news I had received.
It was regarding a precious young woman, who has been in my prayers for about twelve years.

This young woman carries much hurt and guilt in her heart, which she has allowed to drive her away from any belief in God.
She seemed like a really hard case, but I know that nothing is too difficult for my God.

I heard that she is attending a church and a change is evident in her after just a couple of weeks of attendance!
The information was shared with me in passing, but my response was far from casual.
I could barely contain myself!
Tears sprung to my eyes and my heart rejoiced at the evidence and the reminder that God is always at work.
How faithful and loving and good He is!!

What a privilege to pray!  
What a gift to be able to bring all our concerns to Papa!
All made possible because of Jesus!

As I laid there praying, name upon name came to me...

My good friend who heads a ministry....
Individual after individual who takes part in that ministry...
The dear ones at the rehab...
The new client whose voice and body shook as he asked for prayer...
Nineteen year old momma of two, who is homeless and clueless...
My husband who has increased movement in his arm, yet increased pain to go with it....

Then came the other issues...
More month than money...
What to cut?  Find a job?  Doing what?

Not thoughts to entertain in the middle of the night...
So I turned to this week's menu, which led me to thinking of the coming weekend's camping trip....

Wasn't I praying??

How easily one can slip from prayer; bringing all our cares to Him; to just tossing them about in our heads and hearts until both are stirred up, but nothing is lifted up.

I think I will head back to bed now and lift my head and heart, as well as all my concerns up to the One who changes lives and with whom nothing is impossible!  Sleepy or wide awake, that is where I want to rest.