Friday, July 31, 2015

A Necessary Practice

Ezekiel 33:32 "And behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not practice them." 

I committed a foolish act this week. In a moment of thoughtless haste after a long walk in the steamy morning air, I quickly abandoned my exercise clothes and got them into the laundry. The sweat washed away and my hair freshly shampooed, I was glad I conquered the long walk, now ready for the day. Tomorrow arrives with a promise and I prepare myself again for my routine walk, looking for my music, safely downloaded on my I-Pod Mini. Hesitating for a second,  an uneasy feeling came over me as I found my ear buds empty of the player. My thoughts went immediately to the washing machine and what I may find in there. You're guess is correct. I washed my exercise clothes along with my player and my play list. A cute, bright I-Pod Mini lay in the bottom of my machine--sparkly, but dead! 

Someone was anxious and distracted and didn't listen or remember their surroundings.  The music gone, the ear buds and my walk, unnecessarily quiet. 


A majestic lion prowls about in his own environment, Zimbabwe, Africa. He roars with his mighty voice, "I am the boss around here!"  Lured out of a protected, sacred area, he is taunted, hunted. mutilated. Death is a victory, a trophy, but within hours, the thrill of the hunt,  hangs precarious for any future for this hunter as the world places their judgment. 

Someone took a life, for more than just sport, but for the bragging rights, for the power. Cubs are fatherless and The Savannah, now unnecessarily quiet. 


Two young ocean loving fishermen set out on just another day's adventure on the open sea. Storm clouds gather and rain,  imminent. These 14 year old "experienced" best friends according to their family members...their boat is found capsized with no sign of life. The search by Coast Guard officials came up empty all week and officially ends tonight. Private search crews will keep on. 

Someone trusted their abilities, and these youngsters took on more ocean and elements than their "experience" prepared or practiced for. Two families mourn, and what is necessary becomes irrelevant in lost hope. 

Accidents happen. Sometimes prevention just takes some slowing down and a mental checklist. There are many people in this world that do extreme things. While I think the killing of "Cecil" the Lion is definitely egregious, children are hunted and captured for human trafficking and the unborn are dying by the thousands every day.  

The loss of the two boys off the Florida Coast is tragic and heartbreaking. I am praying for the families. We will never know if instruction or whether reports were listened to or not. Their idealistic love and trust of the water and adventure pushed them into an angry sea; not equipped to handle, and it most likely kept them. 

The prophet walked and spoke in their midst, yet the Israelites in haste, in their pride and in their own adventure and curiosity of worldly things, heard...but did not LISTEN. Their ears tickled and it probably felt good for the moment; they did not put into practice what the Prophet foretold. Like a play list, " a sensual song" ...nice for a moment, but washed away in the suds of self. 

Many believe that the Bible does not apply to today's world, that it is archaic, old fashion fairy tales. Many have taken the Word of God and twisted it, rewrote it to fit into today's culture or their own agenda. They'll pick and choose what to believe. Some, don't even use the Good Book as a foundation.  We must,  as believers, as followers of Christ, pay attention, heed and adhere to His Word. It keeps us in worship for we are reminded of God's love, grace and mercy. It humbles us and keeps us from seeking after our own thrones. It opens up our own wounds, for healing and teaches us about true forgiveness. The Word of God protects us and guides us through the storms of our life and teaches us to rely on His truth, in His hope. It promises us a place of unending music. If we allow Him to, God seeks after us and captures our hearts, not for a trophy, but to make us into a promise, worthy of accomplishing amazing things in His Kingdom. He finds us in our darkest places and rescues us from the snare of death. Hear and Listen to His Words and practice them.  You'll learn and grow and find the sweet music of worship and thanksgiving refreshing. 

Lord, thank you for Your Word. It is not just some fancy Words with "Thee" and "Thou" and "righteousness" but Your word gives instruction and a foundation on which to build our lives and make wise choices. You inspired Creation and through Your own breath and sovereign plan, gave us Your Word to know now and for tomorrow, how You plan to put this world back in perfect order in Your time. Not just so our ears our tickled, but Your Words Lord are written so that we can know the truth and decipher from things of this world bent towards evil and what is meant for Your Glory. Lord, help me to continue to glean my strength from Your Word and apply it daily in my life. Lead others to hear and "listen" to Your Word and know the truth. For those who have hidden it deep in their heart, revive it Lord, for such a time as this, a necessary time to practice  and heed instruction for our lives, and for Your coming again. Amen. 


Friday, July 24, 2015

The Middle Man and the Mediator

I Timothy 2:5-6  "For there is one God, and one Mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time." 

Last week I attended our annual All Class Picnic. As usual, lots of pictures post up on social media for others unable to attend.  Our football coach, though feeble and elderly attended again this year. I received a message from our football team's quarterback. "Can you get Coach's information? I'd love to talk with him."  So, I started the process of e-mailing a few people and attempting the reconnection. My e-mail went from one person, to another person, than back to me, than back to my friend and now we wait. Seems I had the job of a middle-man.  I am anxious to hear of their reunion.

A pond takes shape in our backyard, the project assigned to my son. He started to dig, then a rain storm hit for two days. Work and "other things" have slowed the progress, but he promises that this project will be completed by the time I start back to work in September. He "hired" the neighbor kid to dig, and indeed he did. Ethan, with pic and shovel maneuvered around the roots of a tree and lowered the hole the 3' required, ready for the next phase. I know my son did not enjoy the digging part, so he delegated the task to a "needing-some-cash-flow" teenager, accomplishing the job.

One of my dearest friends left the country, going down south where her missionary sister lives to celebrate their mother's 80th birthday. We pray for each other, specifically our children, in a group of praying moms I created called OFFSPRING. Late at night, I received a text from her to send out a prayer request to our group from her, which I did this morning. Once again, a conduit of connection on another person's behalf.

A reunion of a quarterback with his coach; memories received.
A delegation of a job involving two; a ripple effect
A prayer sent out by one-- to one, then connecting to others; "purposed planned parenthood."

We become a representation for a connection, a task, a need.

Sometimes, the most delicious part of the meal is the side dish. Sometimes, the best book you've ever read, you found for .05 at garage sale. Sometimes, the best job may not be the teacher with the credentials, but the aide who works one on one with a student through his schooling, the reward-- exponential.

The devil wants to make us feel insignificant, lacking in true power, unable to produce change in this world. Yet, we see amazing good things happen all the time if we look around us. I know a lot of humble people play a part behind the scenes. Connections are made and a couple of young brothers go to Africa to serve as missionaries for the summer. A Roman soldier delegated... and a Cross proceeded up a hill, someone asks one person to pray and many pray; a healing occurs, a debt is met, a job opens up, -- a heart is encouraged.

If we are the middleman, so what! That's good--that we delegated and the job gets done! Corporate prayer focus is off us and onto others!  God orchestrates many roles and many actions. We all play an important part. At times, I  prefer the middle ground, its where I feel comfortable. We don't always have to be the leaders, be on the committee, or make a headline.  In those quieter, behind the scenes sort of deals, that's when we can watch, wait and see God move.

In the book of Job, we find him in need of a middleman. Job 9:33 "There is no umpire between us, who may lay his hand upon us both."

Jesus Christ is OUR middleman, our reconnection to the Father. God delegated His only Son to do a job no one could do, only God, through His Son, the redeeming work is completed. He bore our  sin, and when we acknowledge that price He paid, He buries our iniquities forever, replacing it with a baptism pool of grace. Jesus, our mediator, our umpire in this game of life, You are the Eternal One. Everything works together for His good in the Kingdom, whatever our role in it is on any given day, at the proper time.

Lord, thank you for the opportunity to serve you as a middle man, a side liner, for the second chances. These are the times I see You brightly, miraculously, glorified. Thank you Lord for being my Mediator, for Your Holy Spirit who interprets and sends out the prayers of the Saints. Thank you Lord for delegating angels to protect us and minister to us. Help me to be the best representative I can be for You as I stand back and watch You at work.  Keep me, keep us humble Lord in all our doings. Thank you Lord, for coaching us and may we always come back to praise You for all Your mighty direction in our lives. Amen.

Friday, July 10, 2015

File it Under "LOVE"

Micah 7:19 He will again have compassion on us; He will tread (shred) our iniquities under foot, into the depths of the sea." 

Filing. Paper shuffling. Categorizing. Organizing. Making room. Tossing. Freeing up.

When my younger son moved back home, my office moved upstairs. I got rid of a large desk, cabinet and bookshelves. What happened to all the stuff that stowed away nicely in all that?

It got tossed in piles on the floor until I could deal with it.

I haven't been dealing with it.

More papers and "stuff" have found their way upstairs. My piles are reproducing!   

Along with finishing my memoir, I am determined this summer to face the piles and look at each one, piece by piece and find its rightful place. I hope to steer most of it towards a forever place, a paper shredder.  

Step #1: Find a reasonable filing cabinet for the space in mind. 

Accomplished!  Thank you Lord. Craig's List came through; 10 minutes down the freeway and a connection made with a great couple of retired teachers, proudly,  almost giving away a metal cabinet. My husband cleaned it up, spray painted it and we moved it upstairs. Whew! 

Exactly what I needed, it included 90 file folders!  

Step #2: This week, I started. Staples had the little tabby thingies. I grabbed a couple of colorful  sharpies and started creating the categories and filing.  

And tossing, and filing, and tossing.  

I found some interesting things:

...newspaper clippings, Christmas letters, parking tickets from 10 years ago, and a certificate for free kisses from my niece!  

I found some reflective things: The final report from the fire dept. about our house and the unknown cause of our fire, my son's  medical card for the doctor he never would see, social security letters of denial for benefits. (I was notified eventually of his approval, but only after our son passed away). I found my dog's records, his birth certificate (AKC). In addition, an I.E.P. report for my younger son going from 6th grade to junior high. I read that cover to cover.   

I found some regretful things:  Lay-off notices and/or cancellations of insurance, diagnosis reports, court papers and old rental receipts from other not-so-glamourous places we lived.

I found some blessings:  Stained and wrinkled thank you notes, (before Facebook and e-mail) from friends still dear in my life, reminding me and encouraging me in the Lord. I read those as well and bowed in thanksgiving.  New file category: "Treasures of the Heart."

I awoke this morning thinking of my filing; how much I managed to toss;  how little in importance some things seem in retrospect of so much life lived. 

Does God have a filing cabinet for us? Does He need to open the drawer of our lives ever once in a while and make room for more "stuff?"  Does he linger over some things and reflect? Does He find some things interesting? Do some things make Him sad? 

Scripture tells us that God removes our sins, the file of our lives, as far as the East is from the West. Imagine a "Heavenly Shredder!"  Once we have opened that door to our messy piles and asked Him to cleanse us, forgive us, He does just that! God doesn't see any of our sin as worse than another, or more important than another. We ALL collect, pile up, store, replace, hoard, keep secret, label, put on the bottom of the stack, something...something that keeps us from experiencing all He has for us. God wants to open that file cabinet with our name on the tab written in Gold and place inside ONE piece of paper, stamped in the Blood of Christ with the words: 


Why do we keep hanging onto some of the files in our heads that are obsolete in God's Office, or we let the devil dumster dive and retreive some things?  -- You know the ones: unworthy, unforgivable, angry, resentful,  a mistake. I don't. I can't let go. Impossible...

Jesus, with his back shredded from a cat-o-nine tails--leather embedded with sharp rocks, took that suffering for you. Today, He shreds your sins, makes them unrecognizable, and tosses them onto the bottom of the sea, churned and buried by the sands of forgiveness.  He did this because of His great love for you, a love deeper than the deepest ocean and wider than any sea. Open your heart and hand Him one file at a time and watch His work in your life as you begin to trust Him.  He'll hand it back to you filled with promises, and a freedom to do His Will. You can file this in your heart,  ready to access daily as you learn to see Him in every category of your life.  

Lord, If I filled up a filing cabinet with all the blessings, promises and super-natural inspirations You hand down to me, I'd need another room!  You Lord, have given us pages in Your Word that You want to file away in our hearts. Help me Lord to open Your Word and store away Your redemption, Your promises and Your teachings so that I can freely walk, work and do Your will without the messy, negative piles of uncertainty and fear holding me back. Thank you Lord for the notes of encouragement I found among the papers, a reminder that You are sovereign, that You DO answer prayer in Your timing. Thank you for faithful, long-standing friends I can count on through thick and thin (files). Thank You for the reflection on my life in this mundane task, coupled with writing my memoir, that through all things, You are Good.  Amen. 


Friday, July 3, 2015

Crowned in Grace

Isaiah 61:1 "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me, to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners."

 June bursts into July like a firecracker.  An explosion of  pictures with  rainbow filters, commentary, debate, and questions permeate our social media and conversations. 

Amongst my circle of close friends, we dialogue.

How can we be more like Christ? How do we do this?  Our own God-filter doesn't screen the darkness perceived;  it lets the light in, giving us a correct focus.  Light scatters the darkness.  

We live and breathe the Good News.  God is the Doer. 

So, we step ahead, continuing to soak in the Light and give off the Light. 

I took a small day-trip this week, going with another friend to visit a very sick young lady. As moms, we both can relate to  "the living in a hospital" situation, tucked away in the lonely, fearful sections of our memories.  This young girl suffers with a genetic affliction, a life-long chronic disease.  She is a miracle girl really, holding on with all her strength. Her hope, to once again hold a camera to her eye and capture God's miracles in her photography.  Her Facebook page holds a last attempt before this ground-breaking surgery 5 months earlier, a  most courageous step. As we visit, dialysis filters her blood because her kidneys sleep;  her two new lungs, new liver, her new pancreas fight to be accepted. She is our brave hero. 

Her heart,  bound up tight by the love and sacrifice of her family and her knowledge and love of the Lord from an early age, beats with a passion to live. At three years old, she sat in her car seat on a long trip and told the story of the Savior from His birth to Revelation, amazing her parents. Her dad shared that story with us. 

Now in her early 30's, to us,  she is held captive by her disease, yet her joy is a smile from her dad and a promise he'll return with a little chili from the cafeteria. I wish I could open the windows so she could breathe in the smell of the ocean which is not too far away or hear the booming fireworks as Freedom is celebrated tomorrow night.   

While walking back from lunch with her dad, planters in front of a bungalow held a certain plant, four of them.  I stopped to take a picture of the Crown of Thorns also known as a Crucifixion plant. 

 I know the Truth as the blood of the Lamb of God trickled down, our sin filtered out by our own belief in the Miracle,  through Grace and Perfect Love so that we can be free to resume a relationship with the Father.  How many stopped to notice the four pots of thorns as we walked along the broken up sidewalk, notice the hospital rising up from the everyday lives of people out strolling the beach town and making a living, a place where the afflicted hope to be healed?  The captive sit at their bedside, pace the halls, and press into their own crown of thorns circling their heart.  

We are all afflicted. We all fight to be accepted. We're held captive by our opinions, our politics, and even our religion. We're imprisoned by our anger, our fear, our weak faith.  

The Crown of Thorns, it flowers.  In it, there blooms Life. 

The red flower bursts forth through the thorns to capture our attention. 

In our freedom,  may hope be found in our thanksgiving, in our humble awareness of grace.  We are capable of great love in our freedom to choose His Great Love. God sets us free to be a Light among the crumbling sidewalks of this great nation and beyond. 

Plant it Lord, deep into my own affliction, bloom in me the grace I need for the moment, for the day, for change and culture. You Lord, are the King of Kings, Giver of Life, crowned in Eternal Glory. Make me into a healer, not a wound-maker. Make me a locksmith, ready and equipped to provide a key for the captive. Holy Spirit, be upon me, prompting and urging me to pray for our nation, our leaders, our children, speaking words of hope, forgiveness and truth in love. Lead me into obedience in Your Word and in my actions. I  ask Lord for healing, for Grace upon amazing Grace to trickle down, for compassion and wisdom to walk this busted up path, knowing where it leads. Help me to lift open windows for others to    see Your power and to listen with an open heart, the boom of Your hope, an eternal fireworks show of Your sovereignty. 

Be near our dear girl Lord, her family and her doctors. In Jesus Name, Amen.