Friday, August 31, 2012

The Only Answer Bigger Than The Questions


"Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and he will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"  Matthew 26:53

The temptation to end it all, give up the plan of salvation, was very great for Jesus.  He sweat great drops of blood due to the agony He was about to face.  He could easily have just gone back home to the Father and Holy Spirit.  Yet He went through with it for two reasons: He had said He was going to save the world in this manner and He never breaks a promise and He simply loves us that much for some strange reason.  We aren't worth it.  He created us and has every right to do with us as He well pleases, just as I have the right to rip apart a dress I just made or unravel a sweater I just crocheted.  I made it, so it is mine to do with as I choose.  He made us and it is His right to do with us as He pleases.  He was pleased to suffer and die for us, even though it brought greater agony to Him than anything we ever have or ever will experience here on earth.  He made sure of that.  He didn't want it easily said that He doesn't know what we're going through. 
There are three persons in the Godhead; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  First the Father agonized because we gave control of our existence to Satan at the fall.  (No one can say it was Eve's fault, because at that time she wasn't Eve.  She was woman and combined with man she was Adam.  God considered them so much one creation that He called them Adam.    In fact, they were so much one in thought that they were together all the time, even during the temptation.  Woman took of the fruit and gave some to man and they both ate of it. After the fall, man named woman Eve.  The separation and distinction between the two had begun.) He immediately had a plan, because He had seen what we would do and gave the solution.  First, He sacrificed an animal to cover them and their sin.  Next, He gave the prophecy of what the complete answer to the problem would be as is told in the title of this chapter: Jesus.
Next the Son had to suffer.  His job was to be the ultimate sacrifice.  He would give up His kingdom in heaven to take back the kingdom of earth.  In order to do so He had to become human.  So He was born of a virgin, Mary, spoken into human form by the Father and breathed into by the Holy Spirit.  His life was His own, He was still God, yet He was human as well and felt everything we do.  He was tempted, but refused to give in to it.  He received physical pain, yet refused to end His journey because of it.  He experienced the agony of hell by being totally separated from His Father on the cross when He said, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"  His Father had to turn His back on Him when He became our sin.  At that moment Jesus experienced hell, for what is hell but total separation from God.  Unimaginable as it is, where God is not, there is nothing but horror, fear, anxiety, pain and suffering.  Hope, love, joy or anything else that is good is not there.  Thank God that one day this will be thrown into the Lake of Fire never to be released again.  Praise God He did not have to remain there for long.  He declared, "It is finished," gave His Spirit into the Father's hands and died.  Three days later He rose again, proving that life after death is not just a glib promise made by God, but a reality.  When He left, He gave us His Holy Spirit - the Third Person of the Triune God.
Now it is this person Who suffers.  "And do not bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption."  Ephesians 4:30  New Living Translation
We grieve the Holy Spirit every time we sin, so we can be assured that we grieve Him daily at the very least, but more likely hourly.  So to say that God cannot know what we are going through or He wouldn't allow it is simply nonsense in my book.  He understands so thoroughly that He has come to live in us through His Holy Spirit in order to help us get through any and all that occurs in our lives, because He knows we cannot succeed without Him. 
Tim Keller writes "If we again ask the question, "Why does God allow evil and suffering to continue?" and we look at the cross of Jesus, we still do not know what the answer is.  However, we know what the answer isn't.  It can't be that He doesn't love us.  It can't be that He is indifferent or detached from our condition.  God takes our misery and suffering so seriously that he was willing to take it on Himself....So, if we embrace the Christian teaching that Jesus is God and that he went to the Cross, then we have deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on earth."
And then Randy Alcorn makes an observation that has been in my heart for the lost since I was saved, "If you hate suffering, does it make sense to choose eternal suffering when God has already suffered so much to deliver you from it?"
I do not know why He loves me so much, but I am ever grateful that He does.  I pray that you are as well.  It changed my heart attitude from one of "I wish I hadn't got caught," to one of "thank You for catching me in the act and rescuing me from it."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oceans and Streams

Luke 6:47-48 "Whoever comes to me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock.  And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock."
I am surprised at how blind I can be.  I have heard this story from as long back as I can remember, which is quite far, since my mom tells me some of the stuff I remember was from before I turned two years old, yet I never noticed what it was really saying.  Sure, I know that it is talking about setting our foundation or faith on Jesus Christ, but I always pictured the house being built by the ocean, so that when storms came, the ocean rose and tried to flood the house.  This is what the pictures I colored as a child depicted regarding this as well, so I must not be the only one who saw this in their mind's eye.  However, that is not what it says.  It says, "the stream" rather than the ocean.
This morning as I read this, it hit me that the problems the evil one throws at us feel like a violent storm, with waves crashing in from all sides.  It seems like an ocean of problems.  The truth though is that they are but streams in comparison to the oceans of God's power and might.  His power is the ocean; Satan's is but a stream.  When we turn our hearts to Him in prayer, we have all the resources of that ocean waiting for us to access them through faith believing. 
So when the storms of life come pressing in Father, help me remember Who is the ocean and who is the stream. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Straying Sheep

Chapter 20 of If God Is Good: Faith in the Midst of Suffering and Evil, by Randy Alcorn, brought this to mind:
 "What if, in order for us to truly desire evil to be destroyed completely, wiped out and become totally non-existent, we have to experience it first?"  Are we not like this in virtually every area?
We desire junk food.  Junk food is devastating to our bodies, but we want it.  My particular downfall is ice cream.  I crave it even in winter.  Michael finds it humorous that someone who is as cold-natured as I am would want ice cream of all things in the midst of winter.  If  I eat it in winter, I suffer more than normal consequences.  I go into freeze out mode and cannot get warm.  My husband places an electric blanket over me and sets it on high to get me warm again.  Sometimes he has to add a quilt.  It takes a while.  Why do I put myself through it?  Because I really want that taste in my mouth.  I don't want the extra weight it can bring, or the blood sugar problems, or the tooth decay, etc., but I want that taste!!
We are all like this in one area or another (or if you are like me, many more than one), but then we tend to wonder where the problems come from.  We are simply and stupidly amazing!  No wonder God says we are like sheep going astray. 
God is not just our God, He is our Father.  He wants the very best for us.  So, if we have to suffer in order to no longer desire to suffer....
When our daughter was a little over a year old, she kept going over to the oven wanting to touch the door.  They didn't have the cool-touch doors they have now.  If you had something in that oven, the door got HOT.  I would tell her over and over not to touch it, but she kept going back to that door.  I would say, "No, no!  HOT!"  And take her hand away just to have her return a minute later.  Finally, I decided that if she had to learn the hard way, then I would be in control so that she didn't really get hurt.  She went to the oven door, looked at me, smiled and started reaching for it.  I ran to her, took her hand and quickly touched it to the door and removed it immediately.  Her eyes became very wide as she cried out, "HOT!"  I hugged her, hating that I had had to do that, but grateful that she wasn't hurt and with tears told her, "Yes, it is hot, just like Mommy told you."  She never touched the oven door again.  That was a very difficult thing for me to do, but I baked a loaf of bread every day at that time.  What if I had to go to the bathroom, or answer the door or telephone and didn't see her go to the oven?  She might have burned herself badly, so great was her desire to touch.  What I did would probably be declared mean, cruel, even evil, but I did it out of love.  Allowing her to feel the heat without getting injured kept her safe from the oven from that moment on.
Mr. Alcorn sums this up beautifully in the final paragraphs of the chapter, pg. 205 "God promises that the eternal ending will break forth in such glorious happiness that all present suffering will pale in comparison.  All who know Jesus will have a happy ending. We just haven't seen it yet."
These bodies of ours may go through temporary torment, pain, heartbreak, etc., but if we know Jesus as Savior, we will be given them back - perfected for us when this one wears out  or is taken from us. It will never suffer in any way ever again.  We will experience adventure, excitement and all that is good, without ever again having to suffer the negative  and we will appreciate the fact for have had to suffer here and now.  Like our little daughter, we would have continued longing for the excitement of the heat otherwise.
Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Refresher Course on Wisdom

Several years ago I did a study on chapter one of Proverbs.  I had forgotten all about it until God laid it in my lap as a reminder last evening.  I was feeling rather sorry for myself, wishing my house were bigger and a few other things.  In other words, I was acting like a spoiled brat.  These words refreshed my spirit and allowed me to seek forgiveness and freedom.  I hope they are enjoyed by many.

The purpose of the book of Proverbs, according to verse two of chapter one, is for the reader to know wisdom and instruction.  The Hebrew word is yada (yaw - dah') and has many inferences.  The one I like most, whether Solomon meant it this way or not, is "to become a familiar friend with."  I want to know wisdom and instruction thoroughly, because they come solely from Father God.

The fear of God is the beginning of this process.  The Hebrew word here is yirah (yir - aw') meaning a reverential fear, exceedingly so.  Most of the time we fear man more than God.  What a very small amount of wisdom we must really possess in order for this to be true.

Verse nineteen is a verse to cause fear of God.  "So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners." NKJ  The temptation for greed is a strong one; thus all the casinos, gambling boats, "friendly" games of poker, sweepstakes, lotteries, bingo, etc.  They take our focus off the One True Supplier of all our needs and make us feel as if we have control.  However, according to this verse, greed is in league with death and is out to do no more than destroy us.

Verse twenty-five is another eye-opener.   Wisdom says to us: "Because you disdained all my (wisdom) counsel, and would have none of my reproof, I will also laugh at your calamity....Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find Me.  (End verse 28)

When wisdom "stands in the streets calling to us," we'd better heed. If we do, we have the promise of verse thirty-three: "But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, and will be secure without fear of evil."
The Hebrew word for fear here is ra (rah') meaning everything evil - calamity, harm, adversity, etc.

Proverbs implores us to side with wisdom.  Wisdom does not hide in secret making it difficult to find.  Rather she stands in the streets, calling us by name, begging us to listen.  I want to listen.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Highly Favored

...."Every sky has rain.  Every journey has a hard road.  You have begun well, given much.  The eye of Olfadr (author's made up name for God) sees all.  You can pass your mantle to another of his choosing or you can accept that trouble will follow all who are so favored.  I ask again, will you finish your course?"  (The Song of Unmaking)

Choices.  We are constantly making them.  We wake in the morning and decide to get out of bed or remain there.  What or if to eat breakfast, what to wear, and so on.  The list of decisions is endless, yet we make them without thought until we come to one of which we are unfamiliar.  Should my first car be new or used  If used, how old?  Should I rent or purchase a home, or build?  Are we ready to become parents?  Should we move our parents in with us or do they need twenty four hour care?  The decisions get harder the older we become and each time God asks the question, "Will you continue the journey or give up and quit fighting?"  He will allow us to turn our mantle, or journey, over to someone else, but we forfeit the blessings He has in store for us if we continue the fight.

"Know this....Your time is not finished, nor is your call.  When you slander yourself in your thoughts, it grieves my Master, for you stand high in favor...Yet have done with pity and not return.  Hear me.....'This is your life, but you must want it.'"  (The Song of Unmaking)

God has placed His calling, the life He has planned for us, inside us.  However, He gives us the choice of fulfilling that call or not.  We have to truly want it.  We should consider ourselves extremely blessed to be given this call in the first place.  It means He has placed much faith and trust in us to fulfill it.  How honored we feel when another simple human being gives us responsibility and tells us we did well when we accomplish the task.  How much more wonderful to hear the voice of our Creator, Father God Himself, say to us, "Well done my good and faithful servant!"

Today Michael asked if I would ever stop teaching Sunday School.  I replied that if God led me to do so, then yes.  He then asked, "What if one day you wake up on Sunday morning and think, 'I really don't want to do this today?'"  I simply smiled.  Why?  Because that has happened many times over.  Some times I feel ill-prepared, sometimes I feel exhausted, sometimes I don't like the material or have become bored with it, etc.  However, unless it is unavoidable, I will not miss.  Why?  Because God has entrusted these small children into my care.  He trusts me to teach them to the very best of the ability He has given me.  Not only that, but I know from experience that He will bless me way over and above anything I would ever receive from staying home.  So I keep going.  Will I ever stop.  Quite possibly.  I have felt a tug in my spirit recently that I may be moving on soon.  Soon is relative.  It could be a year from now or twenty years from now, but to God it is always soon.  My sweet husband then said, "It's a lot harder than it looks.  It could be easy, but then it would be boring."  As I have said before, he helps me along every step of the way, so he knows and has experienced the difficulties that come with the task when done correctly. 

God could look at me and decide that I was incapable of handling any task He could give me.  So I would sit back watching all my brothers and sisters in Christ working, become jealous of their abilities, become resentful of their callings and wonder why they are so favored.  Meanwhile, these same brothers and sisters may be looking at me and wondering why I get off so easily.
The grass is always greener, isn't it?

So, let us accept the calling, embrace our lives and rejoice in being so highly favored of God among men!! 

Thank You, Father, for Your love, Your grace and for entrusting this precious life to me.  I do not deserve such trust, but with Your grace and blessing, I will put my best foot forward to accomplish the goals You have established for me.
I love You!!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

On Having a Name

In all the ways he could not escape his private those very same ways he now found himself more attuned to those around him.  He was not alone, if only because living brought countless circles of hope and disappointment to everyone...Find life, live it, dream big.  All good.  But there was danger along the way.  A person could also lose their wings, their dreams, their love, their song.  But what could you do?  Run away in fear; live life half dead, like the Nameless?  (The Song of Unmaking, pg 134)
As I read this something stirred in me - I have a name!!  Most people think, "Yeah, me too.  Lot's of them.  Mom, Grandma, Aunt, Wife, Daughter, my given name, etc." But I have a real name!!  It's a name that means who I really am and was created to be.  A name that means I belong somewhere, where that somewhere is located and Whom it is I belong to! 
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.Revelation 2:17
 Jesus said of a good shepherd, "The sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out." Then he told the disciples, "I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." John 10:3
You may wonder why this is so exciting to me.  A while back I ran into a family friend who is not only five years older than I, but hadn't seen me since I was 15 years old and I was then about 48.   She called out my name to get my attention.  I looked up, thought for a moment, was temporarily blank until she said her first name.  I squealed and ran to embrace her.  We had been next door neighbors all those years ago.  Her mother and mine had been best friends.  She and my oldest sister had been best friends.  I was at their house and she at ours regularly, but I didn't think I was being paid much attention to, because I was so much younger.  But, she knew me!!  What's more, even after 39 years, I knew her!  However, she knew me better.  
I am always amazed when someone recognizes me from years past, and it happens often.  Students I taught in Sunday School, Children's Church or worked with at Sherwood Elementary come and ask if I remember them.  I may not remember names, but I always remember eyes.  I am able to say so and they then refresh my memory with their names.  I can then tell them something I remember that made them special to my heart, which each and every one of them was and is. 
God remembers every tiny detail of my life, except for the sins I have committed.  He forgave them the moment I accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord.  He then cast them as far as the east is from the west.  It was that moment I heard Him call my name, though He had been calling it since the moment of my conception.  He never stopped calling, and since that day I actually listened, I have never stopped responding.  There are times that I ignore Him, because I am still human and therefore not perfect, but I hear Him and eventually turn to Him in repentance and listen to what He has to say.
I praise God that I am not half dead and nameless, but fully alive unto Christ and He calls me by name.  He is calling your name too.  Listen closely and you will hear Him.  It is your choice to respond and be named among the children of God or ignore Him and dwell among the nameless.  I pray you choose rightly.  After all:
A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, Favor is better than silver and gold.  Proverbs 22:1

Friday, August 10, 2012

Death's Produce

Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  John 12:24

I have been sick for a few days.  I knew I felt exhausted, but kept pushing myself to go on, because I didn't feel ill.  Yesterday it hit me that I should take my temperature.  Voila!  I indeed had a fever - low grade, but a degree higher than normal.  Now I understood the problem.  I only did things that were relaxing to me from that point on and now today I am much better.
Many times in life we sense there is a problem, but since we cannot put our finger on it, we ignore it.  We go on acting as if we felt nothing until one day it hits us what the problem is, or we are too late and it has escalated beyond repair.   If we would take time out to decipher our feelings and why we have them in the first place, we perhaps could diffuse the situation with prayer and action.  However, we tend to migrate to the things we understand the easiest and fastest, thereby causing us more problems than necessary.  It takes too much effort to search things out.  Our immediate desires are all that matter - until......
The verse above is about salvation - dying to self and living for Christ.  However, as with every verse of Scripture, we can glean even more from this than the obvious.  If we die to self daily, we accomplish His goals daily.  So think about if we died to self moment by moment.  Sin would not so easily beset us.  If we produce much fruit simply in receiving salvation and as we grow and learn to die to self daily in life we begin to produce even more, then how productive would we be if we made a concentrated effort to die moment by moment?  This would take much work at first.  We would need to concentrate on Jesus and His great love and sacrifice to the point that it becomes so much a part of us that we can go nowhere and do nothing without thinking about what He would have us do.
It is wearying to think about, but well worth the effort.
Rearing children teaches us what God goes through with us.  If we take the time to pray and listen to His voice before disciplining, getting angry, agreeing with them, etc., we end up with children who rise up and call us blessed (Proverbs 31:28).  If we do not, we end up with children who disgrace us (Proverbs 29:15).  None of us does this perfectly, but those who try are rewarded with God's promises.
We get frustrated when our children refuse to listen, because we want them to produce quality fruit.  The saying "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" holds true.  We are the example, so we need to do the work of praying for and with our children, loving them unconditionally, rewarding them with our love and appreciation rather than material possessions and setting the example of obedience by our own obedience to our heavenly Father.
Death to self produces the fruit of life to our children.  What better produce can there be?

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.Psalm 127:3-5

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Mighty Hand

The Song of Unmaking by D. Barkley Briggs: pg. 120-21
"Watch it!  I'll slit his throat!  Not another step!"  he warned.  "Ha!  I'll take that pretty necklace o' yore's too.  Now stop and toss it here!  Stop!"
Arthur did not stop.  The only sound was the noise of his booted feet tramping across the earth.  The thief clamped Ewan more viciously, red-faced and angry.  Ewan had to claw at his arm just to breathe.  Arthur's expression was grim......
The thief screamed and shook.  "If you want him to die, keep walking! ....."
His last words as a living soul.
Arthur never hesitated.  Once within striking distance, he raised his sword and thrust it past Ewan's cheek straight into the man's gullet.  Grasping at his throat, the man staggered backward.....
He fell, dead, staring into the cold sky.........
Gasping, Ewan peeled away, stumbling backward in shock......
No one spoke......Everyone stared at Arthur.  Ewan softly shook.
"Are you still ready for me to be your king?"  Arthur rumbled as he passed by......"This is who I am.  Now let's ride.  And from now on, keep your swords ready." 
I closed the book.  I had moments before asked God to share something with me - anything.  I just wanted to hear His voice and feel His presence with me again.  As I read these word (of which I have left out many to shorten it) I knew there was a message for me.  This thought went through my mind,
"Sometimes you just get in My way."
We do, don't we?  Especially when it comes to our children or grandchildren.  If a family member is being troubled by some sort of oppression, be it drug addiction, sexual impurity, immorality in general, etc.  we want to jump in and fix things for them.  The problem is, we don't have our swords ready and we don't really know how to fight.  We think we do, but are sadly mistaken.  We walk away from the same battles over and over again, shaken, bruised, weary and wondering what in the world happened.  Instead of being the mighty and victorious warrior we were designed to be, we walk away defeated.  We need to keep our swords ready.  How?
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12
We must really know the word of God.  Read His word and pray for understanding.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:1 and 14
We must take out time to get to know Jesus, through the communication of prayer - listening for His voice and learning to recognize it.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil.  Proverbs 3:5-7
Then we must learn that His ways are not the same as our ways.  His ways are perfect and will always bring about the very best results.  It may seem at times that He is fearsome, as Arthur seems in The Song of Unmaking as He goes after the demons of darkness on our, our children's or anyone we love's behalf.  Other times we will wonder why He waits, when we want to jump headlong into the fray.  We must remember that we are not the ones who can see past, present and future all at the same moment.  That is something only God can do.  We must learn to trust Him no matter how things look on the outside, because He sees the inward parts of all creation.  If we will take time each and every day to spend time getting to know Him and His Word, our spiritual swords will be at the ready, even if our physical man strives to drive us to fear.  We will remember the words of the children's song:

Words & Music by Stephen Elkins

What a mighty hand, a mighty hand has He
What a mighty hand that calms the raging sea
What a mighty hand, a hand protecting me
What a mighty hand has He

Humble yourselves, humble yourselves
Under God’s mighty hand
Humble yourselves, humble yourselves
Under God’s mighty hand
What a mighty hand

For it was He who made you and me
And every creature in the sea
For it was He who made you and me
And every creature in sea
In the deep blue sea

I had not thought of this song in years until God spoke it to my heart this morning.  I pray He speaks it to yours as well and that as He does, we all say together, "YES!!  We are ready for You to be our King!!"

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Lion and the Mouse

We live in a world of self-sufficiency.  A child as young as age 2 (or in s few cases even younger) cries out, "I can do it myself!"  Give the same child a couple more years and they will say, "I don't need help!"  A little later on and it's "I don't need ANY one to help me!"  Then the majestic years of the teen cries out, "You just don't understand!  I can handle this myself!"  The twenties begin to ask the question, "Can I do this?"  Give them a little more time and it becomes, "Maybe I could use a little help."  If they are truly honest with themselves they will one day reach the point of, "I cannot do this alone.  I am desperate for help!"  The problem is, most never reach the final stage.  Okay, they reach it, but they are too prideful to admit it.
Yesterday in Sunday School I read the story of the lion and the mouse.  A quick synopsis is that a little mouse, not paying attention to where he was going, runs over a lion's nose and wakens him.  The lion scoops up the mouse and threatens to eat him.  The mouse cries out to please be allowed to live, for the day may come when the lion needs his help.  The lion laughs uproariously at the thought of a tiny mouse being able to help a big strapping lion.  He lets the mouse go due to the mouse's bold proclamation.
A few days later, the lion becomes ensnared in a hunter's net.  He roars in frustration and believes himself lost.  Along comes the mouse, who bravely climbs up onto the net and chews the ropes to allow the lion his freedom.  The lion and mouse become fast friends from this point on.
We are so like the lion, thinking we must show the world how good, strong, capable we are.  Asking for help is a huge sign of weakness.  We are trapped in the snare of sin and death and think that we must struggle and work our own way free.  We will work ourselves into our graves if we have to in order to bring success.  The only problem there is that everyone has a different definition of success.  If we accomplish one, then we must go on to accomplish the next, and the next until we feel the snare closing in and growing tighter.  There has to be a way out!  A little more struggling, a little more effort, more education on the subject, more money spent to find the answer.........
The answer is the bold mouse who dared confront death and win.  Okay, not literally a mouse.  Not truly a mouse by any means, yet the world looks at Him as being such. 
As many were astonished at you—
chis appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—Isaiah 52:14
For he grew up before him like a young plant,iand like a root out of dry ground;
           jhe had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.Isaiah 53:2
How could one simple man get me out of this huge mess I am in?  No, I have to do it myself, or everyone will think I am a wimp.  The irony is, I am only one person as well, yet I think I can set myself free?  Sadly, we do not even recognize this irony.  Since the entire world is in the same boat, it seems logical to go on doing what we've been doing all along.  We tend to forget that if you do the same thing over and over your going to keep getting the same results.  If we will but admit defeat:
         If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all 
        unrighteousness.  I John 1:9
He will start chewing the ropes to freedom.  Little by little He will gnaw away at our pride and jealousies until one day we find ourselves recognizing the fact that He is truly doing exactly what He promised to do:
         If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised  
         him from the dead, you will be saved.  Romans 10:9
We will no longer see Him as a tiny mouse Who cannot possibly do anything for us, but as Savior and Lord!
Jesus is not simply a man, which is something the world forgets.  He IS God.  He lives and reigns whether we choose to believe or not.  Nothing can change the fact.  Only pride and jealousy stand in the way.  I pray that anyone who reads this comes to a point in time where they tire of the struggle and accept the help of the only One that can set them free.



Friday, August 3, 2012

Face to Face

     This past Saturday I got out my old yearbooks from my high school days.  I hadn't looked at them in years.  However, I needed at least one of them for an object lesson in Sunday School, so I wanted to look through them to see which one had the fondest memories for me, as memories were what we were to discuss.  I realized that my sophomore yearbook was my favorite and used it.  Why?  Halfway through my sophomore year we moved to a different school district.  I formed new friendships there, but they lasted only through 2 1/2 years.  When I looked at the yearbook that had friendships that had formed over a ten or more year period, I realized that these memories went deeper and brought more fondness.  One of the main reasons is it contains a message from a young woman who had become my friend when I was only two and she three years old.  We remained fast friends up until a couple of days after Michael and I married.  That was when she died in a car accident.   Her death brought me much grief and I didn't handle it well. 
The first three months of my marriage are a blur.  I can remember our honeymoon, because I wasn't informed of her death until it was over, which was the day after her funeral.   From the moment I was told everything started to blur.  Life was mechanical.  Get up, get dressed, make lunch for my husband, try to read and comprehend my Bible, least I assume that is the way things went, I honestly don't remember.  I simply know things got done that needed doing. 
One night I went to bed and prayed for the grief to be over.  I felt I couldn't handle it anymore.  The goodness of God overwhelms me at times, and this was one of those times.  I fell asleep quite soundly and dreamed.  It was one of those extremely vivid dreams that is so real you can almost reach out and touch it.  There were brighter colors than I had ever seen nor have ever seen since.  A feeling of whimsy and excitement mixed with grief flowed through me.  Then a marvelous thing happened that set me free.  My friend's face got right into mine the way a child does when they want to make certain they have your attention.  She looked into my eyes and said (and I will never forget this, I don't think), "Would you please stop this!  I am HAPPY!!"  Then I woke up.  I realized at that moment how selfish my grief was.  A very heavy burden was lifted from my shoulders that day.  I have never felt depressing grief since.  Oh, I have grieved.  When my daddy passed away last year I cried and still cry at times for my loss, the loss for my siblings and especially for the loss my momma must be feeling.  They were married for over sixty years after all.  However, knowing that Daddy is with his Savior and King also made my heart sing for him and, if I am completely honest, I felt a little jealousy.
It is difficult to explain how you can feel grief and joy at the same time.  It should be impossible, but nothing is impossible with God.  So while I indeed feel sadness, there is a deeper joy that goes with it, knowing that my loved ones are in the safest hands possible and I will be with them one day soon.