Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tis the Season...

Tis the season...

And a wonderful season it is.

The Christmas Season!

Many, many years ago Jesus came down from heaven to earth as a baby. He came to live among us and teach us His loving ways. Then He paid the price that none of us could pay ourselves for our sins. He was crucified and died. On the third day He rose from the dead and whoever believes in Him will be saved and live eternally with Him.

He is preparing a place for all of those who make the decision to believe in Him and follow Him.

What better reason is there to celebrate!

A few years ago, a lot of people's retirement plans went right out the door. They had worked hard to make sure to provide an income for the later years in their lives only to see it dissipate. A large number of people haven't seen their retirement be replaced yet.

It's discouraging to give so much of yourself, for your future, only to have it taken away.

Yet, our future here is really very short lived. Sometimes we don't even make it to those years we worked for, but every person will make it to that final place called death. No one misses that part of life. It is a guarantee.

So we can work and work, and plan and plan, for our future years on earth, which is wise, but then never see it.

However, we will see out future in eternity.

The great thing is, we don't have to work and work to receive the future that Jesus has for us. The future after living here is much longer than we can imagine, because it is forever. There isn't anymore endings. What we get is it.

And Jesus knows what eternity looks like. He knows the past, present, and future. He wants the best for people. He loves us.

So when He came here to give His life for us, and offer to take the place of our sins, instead of us having to pay the price, it is a big GIFT.

Bigger than what you can buy, bigger than what you can work at achieving.

This season there is a true reason to celebrate. Not because we have good jobs, nice houses, lots of presents, health, friends, and loved ones, although those are super good blessings. The reason to celebrate is our future is in His hands if we believe. He loves us so much, He already took care of our future.

We just have to believe and receive.

How awesome is that gift?

There is no better.

      

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's So Hard To Remember

I remember, when I got my first pair of contacts, in my twenties. I walked out of the doctor’s office and thought, “Wow! This is fantastic!” Everything looked so vividly clear. And what was really great is the street lights didn’t smear at night.

When I’m around my home I can take my contacts out and function just fine, sometimes I even watch television, but out in public, I need them, so I don’t get a headache straining to see all of the different things.

Quite a few years ago, I had my second operation on my right ear. Afterward, I struggled to hear and had to pop my ear quite often. It was discovered that for some reason my ear drum would invert instead of staying smooth and round. Part of the reason was due to an Eustachian-tube dysfunction, and also the doctors believed there to be a bone problem in my ear in which exploratory surgery is needed. I’ve learned to live with the problem, although it intensified after a car accident, along with irritating noise from tinnitus.

I’ve also had a problem with remembering some things, since having a good conk on the head a few years ago. I need to be sure to be rested, exercise, and eat well so I don’t drain myself physically, otherwise, I get overwhelmed and it gets a bit fuzzy in my head.

It totally sounds like I’m falling apart, doesn’t it?

Fortunately, all of these things I don’t really think too much about during the day, because I’ve learned to live with them. Unless someone sees me popping my ears, or someone has a long enough conversation with me, to realize they need to speak up when talking, it doesn’t affect me socially. Or if I have things written down, or in my calendar, people don’t really realize when I’m tired I could forget something we planned together, unless of course, they’ve been on the receiving end of my forgetfulness.

I’ve learned to manage.

A few weeks ago, we visited Ben’s sister’s family’s church. It was an incredible experience. To start with, the building had the most incredible personality. I could have sat in awe over the design of the building for quite a long time. Then came the worship, which was very well led.

And then came…the message.

I am still thinking, WOW!

Not only did the Pastor talk on my favorite gospel, the book of Mark, but he brought out some points from a passage that I have read and read, never seeing those points before.

Mark 8 is about the second time that Jesus fed thousands. The disciples had seen him do this before. They had passed out the bread, the fish and then picked up the full 12 baskets afterward. Here they are doing it again.

Then of course, there are the Pharisees who have to do their thing and try to ruin the party. You would think they would just get over it and stop bugging Jesus. Anyway…

Afterward, the disciples are on the boat with Jesus. Jesus warns them about the yeast of the Pharisees. The disciples are talking among themselves that they probably didn’t bring enough bread.

Hello! They had just participated for the SECOND time, where Jesus fed thousands from a few loaves of bread! Don’t they remember? Just a few short minutes had passed since the last feeding. It’s rather obvious they didn’t need more than half a slice of bread to feed their small group.

Yet they seem to have forgotten.

It’s pretty unbelievable that the disciples were sitting there wondering about how much bread they had with them when they had just participated with Jesus in feeding thousands.

Evidently, as the pastor pointed out, Jesus wondered it too.

Then Jesus says to them, “Don’t you remember? You have eyes but do not see, Ears that do not hear.”

But then the pastor had to go and apply it personally.

So that got me thinking. Do I remember? Do I see? Do I hear?

Or am I not only have difficulty seeing, hearing, and remembering physically, but spiritually to? Am I blind, deaf, and have a memory problem?

I thought about my life and how many times Jesus has stepped in, how He has always, always been there, yet I get fearful, I worry, I want to do things my way instead of trusting and waiting.

I have sat on the edge of a cliff in life so many times scared of the next step, even though He has somehow stepped in time and time again.  

I seem to have a real memory problem myself.

I know there are lots of times I have spread the news of something amazing God has done in my life and then there is a curve in the road and…I worry…I wonder…I just plain forget.

Truth is I was ill and felt alone. He was there.

When we had no food…we were fed.

When we had no money for bills…our bills were paid.

When we were injured…we were taking care of.

When we lost babies…we were comforted.

Yet…just a few weeks ago I was all in a flutter wondering what on earth are we going to do? Surely, we are doomed, yet the last two weeks, God has taken care of our problem.

He is faithful.

I need to remember.

I need to see.

I need to listen.

Not worry, not fear, but trust in the one who fed thousands years ago from a few loaves of bread. In the one who was determined to have the people He loved spend eternity with Him and not apart from Him, that He gave His life in our place.

To the one who said He would never leave us.

Remember…


Monday, November 11, 2013

Hooray For Our Veterans

It's that day again, when we give honor to the veterans who have served our county. 

I honestly don't think a person could clap hard enough, cheer loud enough, or do enough things for a Veteran, whether they served in combat or not.

Any person, that is willing to go through what it takes, to learn how to protect our country deserves a standing ovation. 

Since I was a young girl there has been controversy about the different wars that have happened. Many of the Vietnam vets paid a high price not only overseas, but when they were able to put their feet back on the soil of our country. Even though there was a draft going on, the people who disagreed with the war, took it out on them when they returned.

It’s a sad thing when we turn on the very people who fight so our country remains free.

I’ve also heard the arguments about peace, not war. That would be so nice if there were no wars to be fought. But even back in Biblical times, there were wars, because there is always an enemy.

And the Bible says there will be wars, and rumors of wars…true peace comes from Jesus and wars stop when you enter heaven, because we are living in a place where people want things their way.

This war we are having right now is so irritating, because I think sometimes people forget the damage that was done to our country. And the imminent threat of danger to our country at all times with the enemy we are fighting.  The enemy lurks around hidden corners.

So many people have lost their lives over what is happening now.

I think it takes a real act of courage to put on military uniform.

Through the years, America’s military have gone to other countries and freed them from different oppressive things. Like the horrible things that happened to people at the hand of the Nazi’s.  

Today, our American Heritage Girls are having an event to salute the veterans of America.

One of the plays that will be performed points out that the veterans…

Put their lives at risk for our freedom and leave their families to protect us.

Those two things alone, makes me thankful for what they do.

I’ve been reading a book about a couple of people who were prisoners over in the Middle East. What is really sad about this story is how vulnerable the people of these countries are every day to their enemy. They live in a war-torn environment. Most of the people beg for money daily just so they can eat. They live in mud house. And they never know when the enemy is going to pull up and take someone from their home.

Our country…we have our military who guard us. We are free to go along our daily lives and do what we desire every day. If someone comes in and threatens us…they have our military to contend with. And on almost every block of America is a trained veteran.

I am so thankful for all of you who have served and serve to protect us and those in other countries.


Thank you, all you Veterans. And may God bless you. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

When Darkness Blocks Our View

The very first thing I did this morning was pray about my daughter’s doctor appointment. As I was praying for her a thought went through my mind…how many other mom’s are praying for their children? How many are broken-hearted watching their children suffer because they are hungry, sick, and so on and so on.

The last couple of nights I’ve been reading the book Prisoners of Hope by Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer with Stacy Mattingly, it’s about two missionary girls who were imprisoned by the Taliban in Afghanistan back in 2001. Before their arrest they interacted with many women who suffered in a war zone, widowed and trying to find a way to feed their children, or deal with their illnesses.

I stopped my prayer. The room was dark and the darkness seemed to come between me and God causing my prayer to be blocked.

I really wanted to be able to go to God with my daughter’s plight, but I wondered why would He answer when there were so many other moms desperately seeking Him?

And then a really incredible thought went through my mind.

God went to Afghanistan.

Joy filled my heart when I realized that yes, God did go to Afghanistan through the people He sent out on the missions. The story I’m reading is very clear on how their heart was set to go to this county despite all of the dangers that could await them. Still, these ladies knew it was where they were to go.

Because…God sent them.

Because…God went to those in Afghanistan who were suffering.

And with that…I prayed for my daughter, believing God was listening and God cared.

If God goes to Afghanistan, I know He will go with us to the doctor. I know He will get us through this.
In those moments when doubts cloud our view and cause our faith to falter…truth is His view is never cloudy and He never falters.

I can cast my cares upon Him because He cares for me.

That simple children’s song, Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so.


Well, it’s true because the Bible does tell me so. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Walk On Water

Philippians 4:6-7
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling anxious. My husband having minor surgery during the morning, to take some cancer out of his leg, may have had something to do with that anxiety. On top of that it was my second day at a new part-time job. And a few of my friends had called with some bad news in their life. It all added to stress I was already feeling.

I went for a walk to get some endorphins going and of course, to strengthen my heart, and to make sure my jeans didn’t shrink when I put them on in the morning.

At first I just felt anxious, and the annoying crows that are around the neighborhood were getting on my nerves making it hard to enjoy the walk I normally enjoyed.

As I walked and prayed, I started to faintly hear the sounds of a different bird not only tweeting, but whistling and then tweeting. The sound became more and more clear, and the sound of the crows cawing became faint as I focused to hear the incredible sound of this bird.

And when I rounded the curve right in front of me there was a flower still on the bush…
I started seeing the beauty of the change of the leaves, and the cool morning air. I was thankful for the break in the rain.

I realized if I keep focusing on the annoying things, I will feel annoyed. And if I keep thinking of those things that make me anxious then I will feel anxious. And I won’t be able to see the blessings around me.

Instead, I needed to just trust what the Bible says and give my anxious thoughts to God so His peace that passes all understanding will fill me.

I was focusing too much on the negative. The Bible says to meditate on the good things.

Philippians 4:8
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 

And then this morning while I walked, I was listening to a song by Amy Grant. One of the lines she sang brought to my mind my favorite story of Peter joining Jesus out on the water in the middle of a storm.

As I thought of this story, I realized that when Peter asked to be able to come out there with Jesus…Jesus called him out. Jesus was walking on water in the middle of a scary storm. And yet, he didn’t tell Peter to stay in the boat. He said for him to come out to him while the winds were blowing and the waves were crashing. So Peter did.

And Peter was just fine as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus.

Peter was just fine in the storm because Jesus was with him. Jesus called him.

It wasn’t until Peter looked at the storm and let it freak him out that he sunk. He was fine with his eyes on Jesus. And He was fine again, when Jesus took his hand and walked with him to the boat. The storm was still doing its thing and Peter was able to walk on that water with Jesus holding him.

No matter what storm is blowing like crazy in my life, Jesus is there…I can walk through the storm and not let it cause me anxiety, fear, or to sink while my eyes are on Jesus.

When my eyes focus on the storm…well, it can be overwhelming. And it can make me feel so downcast and helpless. My faith can just blow away with the wind.

But…

When my faith fails, I can still call out to Him, and like with Peter, I know He will be there to pull me up and walk me through that storm. And the storm will settle, maybe not right away, but someday. I just need to hold on to Jesus and walk with Him to the boat. Stay close to Him until He calms the storm in my life.

Matthew 14:22-30
22Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”



Monday, October 7, 2013

Where Music Takes Us

I closed the front door behind me, leaving the stacks of papers on my desk and unopened emails in my computer behind. I stuck my ear-buds in and turned on the music in my phone.

I started walking down the hill toward my favorite neighborhood to walk through. I love looking at the houses, the yards, and I love all of the hills.

I finally started to relax after I walked for a few minutes, and focused on the music that played in my ear, instead of on the unending demands that filled my day.  The pressures of unfinished work suddenly didn’t feel so heavy on my shoulders.

I struggled to refrain from singing out loud to one of my favorite songs while I strolled through the neighborhood. Instead, I tried to hum, but then decided, I better not… with the ear buds in, even humming might be pretty loud.

Now, I’m not a bird lover as those close to me know, but on this walk I actually enjoyed watching the birds flitting from tree to tree. They kept my attention as they tweeted and flew from branch to branch. It looked like they were truly enjoying the day.

The songs played and played while I walked the stress off. Soon I was able to just talk to God about the things that were heavy on my mind. And then it was time to go back home and face the work again, yet I had a different frame of mind. I’d listened to music that spoke of God’s love, God’s power, and it had brought me right to the one they were singing about.

Music does that. It brings you places.

The other night we watched a really cute movie that had great background music. Quite a few of the songs were from the Beach Boys which brought a feeling of fun and sun. I remember listening to the Beach Boys or songs from the movie Grease while I waxed my car to get it ready for cruising downtown on the weekend.

Cruising downtown was fun in itself. A person would drive with the windows down no matter how hot, cold, or wet the weather, and music would blare from each of the cars. So now when I hear certain songs from that time, my mind remembers, and it gives me a happy feeling.

A few of my friends and I used to lay out in the hot sun, tanning all day long, drinking Cola’s, and eating chips. We listened to some of our favorite music groups, and sometimes afterward we would dance around singing. Still to this day, I will hear that music, and have to stop with a smile treasuring the memory.

Music does that. It brings us back to moments. The song played at a wedding, a song dedicated to someone loved, a special song at an event.

It can be wonderful.

Psalm 146

Praise the Lord.[a]
Praise the Lord, my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them—
    he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
    and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
    and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
    but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
10 The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.

There are so many passages about praising God in the book of Psalms.

Just like music we hear from the past, and from special times, can bring us back to a moment, it can also bring us to a place, to a person. It can bring us into the presence of the only True God, before His heavenly throne.
             

             


Saturday, September 28, 2013

Who Are We Following?

1I had a list a mile long today of things I wanted to get done. It’s my first day off where I don’t have a million things other than “my” list calling my name.

The Bible verse, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all of these things will be added to you..” kept going through my mind.

So, I sat down and proceeded to read the required reading of the day for our women’s Bible study group.
We are in the book of Ezekiel which is hard to read. It’s full of prophecy and warning for the Israelites.

I was feeling a bit antsy to finish reading the chapters and get on with my day. I realized I was acting like my daughter does when I’m trying to explain something to her and she has a hard time sitting still.

I tried really hard to actually listen to what I was reading and not just speed read the chapters to say, “Ta-dah! I’m done.”

The words I heard were distressing. God called out a warning about what He was about to do to and they weren't listening.

In Ezekiel 24:13 He finally says, “’Now your impurity is lewdness. Because I tried to cleanse you but you would not be cleansed from your impurity, you will not be clean again until my wrath against you has subsided. 14 I the Lord have spoken. The time has come for me to act. I will not hold back; I will not have pity, nor will I relent. You will be judged according to your conduct and your actions, declares the Sovereign LORD.’”

I thought to myself, I would not want to hear those words from God. For those who believe in Jesus, He tells us that Jesus paid the price for all the things we've done.

Although, we have times we face the consequences for our sins, the eternal price has been paid.

Then I thought, I want to allow God to cleanse me. I want to be moldable to what He wants to do in my life. And not fight it.

Yes, the Bible says, that if we confess our sins, He is faithful to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9.

So my prayer is that my eyes would be open to those sins that I am blind to. To confess them and walk cleansed because God cleansed me.

Jesus also calls us to follow Him. What does that mean in my life? In your life?

Here’s a thought to ponder. Have you ever taken a good look at whom or what you are following? Is every day filled with following Jesus down the pathway of life?

And are you listening? I know how restless I was today. I didn't really want to take the time to listen. I was just like a child being held on their parents lap, squirming to get away, so I could go do what I wanted to do. 

God still calls out to people. He calls for us to believe in His Son Jesus Christ as their Savior. No matter how much that call is ignored, He is coming back, and He is coming back for those who believe in Him.

There is no argument about that…all of the prophecies of the Bible have happened so far. If God said it He did it.


Let’s not waste our time on following the latest trend, the latest popular person…let’s spend our time following the only one who leads us to our ETERNAL home.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Wanting To Know The Answer

Years ago, I had to deal with driving in the Seattle morning traffic to get to work. One day my car just died in the middle of the freeway. I got over to the side of the road and had to deal with a dead car during traffic AND get to work on time.

I brought it to a mechanic who thought he found the problem and after some of my money flew from my pocketbook to his, I was on my way.

Well, a few days later, I found myself stuck on the side of a long, lonely road in Seattle because once again, my car died.

So I handed over some more money to a mechanic after he believed he fixed the problem, and then I was on my way.

I don’t remember exactly how many times this happened, but it was enough times to be exasperating and I began to not trust my car anymore.

Finally, a mechanic found a loose wire and the problem was fixed.

Whew!

Isn’t it frustrating when you have a problem…think you found the solution to the problem, only to discover…you still have the problem?

Lately, we’ve been dealing with something like this with my daughter. We go to the doctor. He does his best to give us the right diagnosis and the correct way to handle the situation, only to discover that’s not the answer to the problem.

So far all of the test that have been run, end up being good, she is healthy. Which is a very good thing, yet, she has a symptom that comes from out of the blue randomly interrupting her day.

Just a few weeks ago, we thought we had the answer, only today because of what occurred this week, the doctor said, no, I don’t think that’s what it is.

Now we are coming at this whole thing from another angle.

It’s frustrating. I’m glad that she passes her test because, yay, she’s healthy, but I feel frustrated we can’t find out what is causing her symptoms. Even though this angle is a better angle than prior ones, it still frustrates me to have to go down another avenue in the hopes of taking care of the problem.

I’m hoping the doctor’s suggestion today works for her and we don’t have to go any further, yet apprehensive that it may not be that.

Sometimes we can just be pulling out our hair over something that goes on in our life. Where is the answer? I need to fix this problem!

It’s a really tough place to be.

God does tell us to come to Him for wisdom.

James 1:5
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

He tells us not to worry.

Matthew 6:25-34
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

He tells us not to be anxious.

Phillippians 5:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

To cast our cares upon Him.

1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

And if the answer doesn’t come right away…then comes the…WAITING. In which there are verses all through the book of Psalms on waiting for the Lord.

Don’t you hate waiting? It can cause anxiety, frustration, hopelessness…

How good are you when you are on hold waiting for someone to help you on the phone?

How good are you when you are in a drive thru line at a coffee shop? Hamburger place? Bank?

Ever have to go someplace and you leave with plenty of time to get there yet you hit all the red lights and end up barely making it to your destination?

Does the person on the other end of the phone line ever pick it up fast enough for you? Do the lines move fast enough?

I know I have days when I seem to wait extra long, everywhere I go, all day, and by the end of it, I will still have a list and I am a wiped out mess.

When does a person want an answer?

Now. Right?

In the Bible there are so many people who seem to wait a long time for their promises to come through. They wait and wait…sometimes they give up…but God always came through.

The apostle Paul came to God about an issue, three times, God told him His grace was sufficient for Him.

Okay, is that an answer that would be sufficient in these times? Don’t we want the answer to be, here’s the solution…here now it’s fixed…here now you’re all better?

Of course. Who doesn’t?

But it doesn’t always happen that way.

Still, as a person reads the Word and sees how God works in people’s lives, when a person hears the promises that are made, when a person learns how God is working EVERYTHING out for good…when things are cast upon Him and the answer doesn’t come right away…a confidence in Him is built because a person knows HIM.

The One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, can be trusted to have “good” be the ultimate end in His plan for a person’s life.

Trusting in Him can bring a peace when we sit and wonder what is going on or what am I going to do now?


Philippians 4:5-7

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

All Bible verses from Bible Gateway NIV translation