Friday, May 31, 2013

Molded Clay

"But now, O Lord, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our Potter; and all of us are the work of Your hand.  Isaiah 64:8"
I have always enjoyed thinking about God forming me into the vessel of His choosing, wondering what I look like in His eyes.  Do I look like a plate to hold nourishing foods for people, and if so, am I making certain that the foods I offer are generous and nourishing?
Am I a cup?  What am I filled with; Living Water of His Spirit or poison?   Am I a bowl, a pitcher, a saucer or simply a knick knack?
Imagining can be a lot of fun as long as we remember that He is the Potter and we are simply the clay in His hands. 
What we do not enjoy imagining, let alone experiencing, is the finishing process.  In order for a piece of clay to be molded into a useful vessel and remain so, it must go through fire.  The temperature has to be hot enough to refine it, but not so hot as to dry it too quickly and cause a crack.  Here are the temperatures needed to refine the clay into ceramic pottery:
Clay becomes pottery at temperatures over 1,000 degrees F (the beginning of glowing red heat - about 540 C). Common tribal earthenware is fired to about 1,400 degrees F (760 C). Heat removes the molecular water in the clay. This heat converts clay molecules to pottery, sculpture, brick molecules that do not dissolve in water. Glazed pottery and modern brick is fired in kilns to temperatures ranging from 1,800 F to 2,400 F. Most common clays start to deform and melt if they are fired higher than about 1,900 F. Modern toilets are fired to about 2,400 F. by Marvin Bartel, Emeritus Professor of Art, Goshen College, Indiana, USA  (Thoughts on the toilet run through my mind, but I will ignore them for now.)
God is not in the business of playing with clay.  He is in the business of making useful pottery.  Therefore, He is going to place us in the refining kilns of life.  When we feel as if we are going to crack, we can cry out to Him and let Him know.  He will either adjust the temperature, or help us realize we can withstand it and He will be there to help us make it through.  Our problem is we want the temperatures to stay lukewarm so we can always be comfortable.
I am at an age where my body is changing.  Most women have hot flashes.  I have cold flashes instead.  It starts in my feet, works its way up my legs until finally I am shivering.  My body temperature actually drops, just as a woman with hot flashes body temperature rises.  Because of this, heat feels good to me.  When others ask for 65 degree weather, I ask for 75.  However, I do sympathize with women having hot flashes.  I had them when pregnant with my sons.  They are not fun in the least.  They seem to start on the inside and work their way out so that you feel as if you are permeating heat and very little brings comfort.  I used to sit under fans that were in front of the air conditioner in order to receive a little relief.  To say these flashes are a normal part of a woman's life do not make them any easier, but it does help to remember that we are not the only ones going through them.  Many women before us have been there and survived, so we most likely will too.
We will survive the fires of refinement as well, if we remember that every Christian goes through them.  If we don't, we may crack and then what use are we?  With God's miracle working power, the crack can be glued, but will always be noticeable. 
Lord, make me a vessel worthy of Your calling and may I fulfill Your every heart desire for my life.  Help me not to crack under the pressure of the heat I must go through in order to be refined and become that hardened vessel that withstands the hands of hardship that try to remold me.  When I am refined, help me be generous and allow my contents to be poured out for others and refilled by You alone.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Practice Makes Peace

"These things I have spoken unto you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."  John 16:33
Dishes to wash, laundry, vacuuming, dusting, scrub the bathrooms and the phone rings.  Frustration sets in - why? 
A meeting to attend, people to visit, letters (or messages in today's world) to write, lessons to study and someone comes to visit.  A feeling of needing to hurry it up almost overwhelms - why?
Each day, virtually every moment of every day, we are given opportunity to choose peace, but more often than not, we choose the emotion that feels as if it is suffocating us.  Again I ask - why?
And then we ask the question: Why doesn't God just take those feelings away and fill us with peace?
Yesterday I went to visit three of my grandchildren.  One of them crawled into my lap and said, "I can't hula hoop."  I said, "It's difficult, isn't it?  (a nod) But if we practice something over and over again, it becomes easier."  I received a modest smile and a nod and we went back to playing.
I believe this is what God is trying to tell us.  We have it within us to walk in peace, just as my grandchild had it within himself to hula hoop, but it takes practice.  God has given us the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control).  Peace is there for our use, but it takes practice. 
Last night I started to really feel the pressure to give in to trepidation.  I started praying and God spoke to my heart to choose to trust Him.  I admit it was a bit of a struggle for a moment, but as I practice doing so, I am getting stronger at it.
I was able to go to sleep and woke remembering that I am not to worry.  When things start pressing in, I need to climb up in the Father's lap and tell Him, "This is difficult, but I'm going to keep practicing until I get it right." 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Make me a Grape

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.  II Corinthians 5:17
My aunt just had three heart surgeries in one.  Her aortic valve was replaced with a cow's valve (she says she has to go around saying "moo" now - I told her that at least we would know it was her coming towards us), they strengthened her mitral valve and they put in a pace maker.  Even though she has  a new valve, if she doesn't do as the doctor's tell her, she will ruin the replacement and weaken the mitral valve all over. 
We are given surgery the moment we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord.  Our "heart of stone" is replaced with a "heart of flesh."  But what if we refuse to eat the meat of God's Word and drink the water flowing from His Holy Spirit through communication with Him?  Our heart will wither up like a grape as it turns into a raisin.  Now a raisin is still a grape, it is simply dried out, just as we, though shriveled with the cares of this world, are still children of God.  We just don't look nearly as appetizing as the plump, juicy grape.   We have little juice to share with those who are thirsty and our meat is much tougher to chew, but those grapes will quench the thirst and feed the soul of someone starving and dry a little at a time if they keep refueling with the Water and the Meat.
Father, help us remember that we need Your nourishment daily so that we have enough to share with others in need.  Studying Your Word and allowing Your Spirit to speak to and discipline us is both refreshing and rejuvenating.  It plumps us back up sweet and juicy.  It makes our lives a nourishing treat for a starving, thirsty world. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Short and Sweet

During my bible reading this morning, averse tried to jump off the page.
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  Matthew 24:12
I said, "Lord, this is what is happening today.  People see the weather causing deaths, people shooting and murdering each other sometimes for no apparent reason, earthquakes, sink holes and mudslides swallowing people up, families being killed in the name of a god who is not You, narcotics being legalized, pornography and deviant sex being looked on as normal, and much more and they blame You.  They do not look at how many warnings You have given and that You even tell us in Your word that You will give us over to our choices if we persist in them." 
I wanted to get on my knees in prayer right then, but felt impressed to go on with my studies.  Then I read this verse and hope surged through me: O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens.  Psalm 8:1
Yes, there are battles of insurmountable proportion going on in this world and in the spiritual world, BUT God is majestic in ALL the earth and will continue to display His wonders to all who will watch in wonder and faith believing!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Light of Love

Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, "I am the Light of the World; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life."  John 8:12
When I plug in a lamp, electricity flows through the cord up to the switch next to the bulb.  The switch blocks the flow until I flip it to the on position and then flows freely to make the bulb glow and light up the room.  The switch makes all the difference in the world.
It is the same with the Light of God's love.  It flows through me, but there is the switch of sin that blocks it from the bulb of manifestation in me.  When I flip the sin off of me through confession and forgiveness, it turns His love loose to flow freely through my smile, my eyes, my actions; everything about me will light up with His love and others will not be able to miss it.  The moment I allow sin on board, it jumps on that switch and turns the light of His love off.  When I allow anger, hurts, jealousies, etc. to be entertained, that switch becomes heavier and more difficult to move.  When I fall on my knees and deliberately, through faith cast them off and give them to Father God, the Light comes back on.  It is not my light, but His.  It flows through me, but will remain at a standstill as long as I refuse to let it loose.
Yesterday, in Sunday School we were discussing Jonah and how much he hated the Ninevites.  Even after going through being tossed into the sea, being trapped in seaweed and nearly drowning, being swallowed by a great fish and thrown up right at the foot of the city he was supposed to preach to in the first place, he still harbored that hatred.  I guess he thought that if he simply ran through the town quickly shouting their need for repentance that they would think him a raving lunatic and disregard him.  In the pit of his stomach though, he knew God didn't really need him to say those words for the Ninevites.  The Ninevites needed to hear them, but God could have used anyone to say them.  God needed Jonah to let go of the hatred so the Light of God's love could shine through him to a dying world.  Instead, Jonah went up on the hillside, hoping to see the destruction of Nineveh.  He did not get his wish, because they repented.  Rather than rejoicing that their lives had been turned around, Jonah became angry and said, "Ah, Lord, was this not what I said when I was still in my country?  Therefore I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents for doing harm.  Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!"  Then the Lord said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
God gives Jonah one more lesson through a vine and reminds him that Jonah didn't create the vine, but had pity on it.  Shouldn't he then have pity on the thousands of people in Nineveh that he hadn't created either and that were dying like the vine?  God doesn't tell us if Jonah got it or not.  I hope he did.  I hope when I get to heaven to be able to sit down with him and have him tell all about how God taught him that day and how he rejoiced in being set free from the sin of hatred so God's Love Light could shine through him. 
Lord, may I learn to hate sin so much that I flip the switch before it has a chance to settle on it and make it heavy.  Shine Your Light of Love through me to a world lost in darkness.  May it ever be so.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Confession of Dread

Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray.  In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.  Psalm 5:2-3
These words of David really speak to my heart.  He places God as his King first and then his God.  David understood what it meant to be called king.  He knew from first hand experience that being king was not just a really big responsibility, but also gave you complete power over a certain group of people.  So here he is proclaiming before all the world that, though he himself might be considered king over Israel, God is King over all, especially his own heart.  Therefore, it is to God alone he prays and no other.  In simpler words he is saying, "God, You are King and therefore the only God, so I offer my prayers to You alone."
There is more to this though.  Those last couple of words haunt me, "I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch."
Week before last our music minister announced his family was moving back to Louisiana.  Last week our pastor had a massive stroke and passed away Tuesday morning.  Then our music minister's dad passed away as well.  I confess that I looked at all these events and wondered, "So what is going to happen to the church family now?"  My prayers in this particular area were difficult, so I finally just decided to rest and watch what God would do.  Then I read these words and it hit me that my attitude was the block in my prayers.  Rather than watching with eager expectation for God's intervention, I was watching with concern and almost a sense of dread.  As of this morning I choose to seek God's forgiveness, choose faith over questioning and stand firm, trusting that God's plans are greater than anything I could cook up, so I will begin now to watch with great expectations of His miraculous hand at work in our church body.
Lord, pour out Your mercies on Your people and make us strong.  Unite our hearts with Yours.  Make us a people worthy of Your holy name.  In Jesus' precious name I ask it!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Warm Hugs

The Rock! His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.  Deuteronomy 32:4

At this moment one of my aunts is being taken in for open heart surgery.  She is having a valved replaced.  I have been praying a lot for her, mostly that God's perfect will be accomplished in and through her and that the enemy not be allowed to steal even one breath of life from her early; that her days and breaths be only what God has ordained them to be. 
My aunt is a Christian, is a widow (has been for many years), has nine children and I do not know how many grandchildren.  Because of this I know she is in the Father's hands and am not worried.  I know He will do what is very best for her, her family and us - the others that love her dearly.
I have a choice to make daily. Will I draw closer to my heavenly Father or become angry and distant?  My aunt's surgery and frail health could easily make me question and become angry.  I have learned from experience what that does in my life. 
Last evening God brought this to my attention in a very sweet manner.  I climbed into bed and, as is my habit, snuggled up against my husband.  He asked, "Are you warm enough?"  I answered, "As long as I am next to you, but if I move away I get cold."  It immediately hit me and so I shared with him that this is but another reason God compares our relationship with Him to marriage.  As long as we stay close to the Father we remain content, warm and secure.  When we move away we become cold, cynical and insecure.  He chuckled and hugged me closer.  I could imagine the Father doing the same to me, because I understood the message. 
I love hugs!!  They are the best expression of love to me.  I received a Mother's Day card from my grandkids (they know me well) that said, "You know what I like about Grandma hugs?  Free refills whenever I want!"  Amen to that!!  They can have as many as they want and more!!  Father God gives us hugs too.  When I grasp a message like this I can feel Him draw me close and wrap His loving arms around me with a smile.  Yes, I have had many heartaches watching people I love dearly pass on before me, grandparents, best friends, aunts, uncles, a brother, cousins, parents, etc. but each time God has sent His hugs to make it bearable. 
As my sweet aunt is sleeping through this surgery that will take several hours to accomplish, I pray God wraps her in his hugs and gives her peaceful dreams full of wonderful, vivid, colorful pictures that bring her great joy.  Then when she wakens she will be able to smile through the pain of recovery.
I don't know all the whys we have to go through different painful events in this life, but I do know we do not go through them in vain.  God will use each and every event in our lives to bring about something good and miraculous somewhere, even though we may not get to witness it in this life.  
One day I will be totally unencumbered with sin and be able to see the entire picture of why things happened in my life as they did.  Then I will look, see and say, "OH! That's why!  It was well worth it!!" 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Complete Surrender

 "When I feel alone, I remember You (God) are with me."
In this chapter 14 of the book Pray With Purpose, Live With Passion, the author begins by telling us about having surgery and discovering she had ovarian cancer.  She talks about how God took her through every worst case scenario.  She told Him how she didn't want their two year old to be without a mommy, her husband without a wife and ended with how she didn't want to leave her family.  Each time God reassured her.
I have been in her shoes without the illness.  A few years ago I was sitting in worship during the closing.  We were singing "I Surrender All" and God began dealing with me that I had not truly surrendered everything to His care.  I immediately knew He was talking about my family and their physical protection.  The questions started in, "If one of your children died, would you still love me?"
I began crying, but knew in my heart and stated, "Yes, Lord, I would still love and serve You."  "If your parents died...?"  "Yes, Lord, I would still love and serve You."  After going through several, the one I knew I would struggle with the most came upon me.  "If Michael died......would you still love and serve me?"  My heart nearly broke in two and I sobbed for a few moments before I could utter the words, "Yes, Lord.  I love You and I would still serve You." 
I sit here crying, heart breaking, knowing that our pastor's wife has been going through this for a few days now as she watched her beloved Larry lying in a hospital bed, unmoving.  This morning, at 2:05 am he went to be with the Lord.  I rejoice for him and count him extremely blessed, but cry for Carole.  However, she is a child of the Most High King.  He will be her guiding strength, her right arm, her comfort.  As I prayed for her and their family the other day, I pictured in my mind her throwing her arms around Jesus' neck and burying her face in His chest.  He wrapped His arms around her and held on tight.  I know without a doubt that He has continued doing so and will continue.
Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.Romans 8:37
All to Jesus I surrender,
All to Him I freely give.
I will ever love and trust Him,
In His presence daily live.
I surrender all.
I surrender all.
All to Thee my blessed Savior,
I surrender all.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daily Vines

Lord, You are holy.  Simple words that pack a power punch.  Why?  Because God tells us "But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy." I Peter 1:15.
God has been dealing with me lately that I am doing everything I have said I would, but in mediocre fashion due to the fact that I am trying to do too much....again.  Will I ever get this into my thick skull and keep it there?
There are some things I believe God desires of me daily: Spend time alone with Him in prayer and Bible study, exercise and eat healthy to keep my body in the best shape possible in order to do His work, get enough rest and above all - obey His voice.
I love the time I spend alone with Him and have formed a good habit of doing so.  Most of the time I eat as healthy as I know how, though there are times when I splurge, such as birthdays.  I am not as good at this though.  Rest and exercise are the two things for which I must constantly harp at myself.  
Holiness is not something we can muster up or work to attain.  It is a gift given to us at salvation.  The problem that exists is us allowing the daily struggles in life to cover it.  
When I look in my back yard at the jumbled mess of vines and trees, it makes me think about how my life gets tangled up.  The vines grow until they actually cover the trees and smother them to death.  The leaves cannot get the carbon dioxide they need from the air, nor can they receive the sunlight they need for photosynthesis to produce the chlorophyll, so the leaves whither and die and the tree starts drying up from within.  Eventually, unless the vines are cut away from them, the trees will fall.  Whether during a storm or from root rot, they will fall.  We need to chop away the vines, yes, but we need to remove their roots or they will simply grow back. 
It is the same in every day life.  "The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful."  Matthew 13:22  We have been given this absolutely gorgeous gift of holiness that gets covered with the cares of life if we are not careful.  We need to become daily gardeners, weeding out the vines and other destructibles.  The only way to do this is to confess them to God and do all He tells us.  If we try to do it on our own, we will fail.  If we try to listen to the world, we will fail.  If we open our hearts to hear God's voice and obey it, we can do no less than succeed.  "I can do everything through Christ, Who gives me strength."  Philippians 4:13
Father, make me a faithful worker in the garden of my heart.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Soul Guardian

For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.  I Peter 2:25
As the manager, the overseer, the guardian of our souls, Jesus protectively, lovingly put His arms around us and used His body for the buffer of our lashes. (Debbie Williams)
When I read this it brought tears.  To think that Someone could love me so much as to take verbal abuse, beating unto near death and then die in my place when I know that in and of myself I am not worth one penny, makes me stand in awe, unable to utter more than a convulsive whimper.  Deep anguish floods my being when I think on it.  If I picture the ones I love more than life itself having to go through something like this, it is an unbearable thought magnified by the fact that I would give anything to go through it in their place.  So I can understand this kind of deep and unconditional love, because His love pours through my veins. That is the only reason though.  Self preservation is too strong an emotion otherwise.
There is a book by Tedd Dekker that many have written off as worldy and refuse to read.  I, on the other hand, having a bit of a strong will, determined to read it and am ever so glad I did.  It demonstrates the love of Christ in His willingness to die simply for Love very clearly.  Yes, it is about vampires.  Yes, it is very much fiction, but it is a well written analogy of how true Love not only conquers, but transforms.  It is simply called Emmanuel's Veins.  In the book, the hero becomes the Guardian of mostly one young woman, but in his selflessness, ends up bringing about the transformation of more.
Jesus is the Guardian of His people, but His selfless act opened the door for all to enter.  There is a catch - you have to really want it.  Self-preservation must give itself up to total trust  in the Guardianship of Jesus.  There is nothing safe about this world and all it has to offer, but there is complete and utter safety in Jesus.  Even in death we have victory, because physical death simply leads to new life, new body, new world.  Heaven isn't just heaven to the true believer - it is HOME!! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Faithful and True

God is Faithful and True.  "And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and wages war."  Revelation 19:11
Once again last evening, as I lay in bed on verge of going to sleep, I was bombarded with thoughts regarding our country and where it is headed.  The FCC considering lowering nudity standards on TV; you know, there is a reason they have to call it lowering.  State after state legalizing marijuana in order to lower crime statistics; just as it would lower if we legalized rape and murder or anything else currently illegal.  The Kermit Gosnell murder/abortion trial.  The children that were murdered in a house fire, etc.  It was as I was actually drifting into that virtually asleep, but easily awoken mode that these and more thoughts exploded.  It would have been nice if I startled awake, but as you know, it doesn't work that way.  Instead, I started drifting deeper in to nightmare mode.  As visions popped into my head, I tried to change them, as I often can, but this night was different.  I began praying in my sleep, so to speak, but still they continued.  I finally forced myself to speak the words, "I refuse to dream these dreams and to think these thoughts!  Father, I ask Your help, in Jesus' name."  I then fell peacefully to sleep.
The world is spiraling downward, just as He promised it would.  I wish more people understood what is happening.
"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man."  Matthew 24:37
So what was it like in the days of Noah?  "The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time." Genesis 6:5
The time is drawing nearer whether we want to believe it or not.  Thinking that He hasn't come yet and so will put it off longer doesn't work either.  I do not know when that time will be and neither does any other human being.
"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows."  Matthew 24:36
But I do know that He has a very good reason for not coming sooner: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  II Peter 3:9
I also know that I am to be prepared, whether it comes today or a thousand years from now.  I am to desire that day and watch for it.  "And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed"  Romans 13:11
By watch I mean that I need to be alert and notice the signs of us drawing closer to that day.  Christmas seems a long way off, yet I know that each day draws me a little closer to it and I need to be prepared.  Nothing will stop it from coming, no matter how hard someone may try.  It is the same with Jesus' coming again to take His children home.  The day is growing closer and no one can prevent it. We need to look up, praise God for who He is and what He is doing to prepare the world for His return and be grateful for the opportunity to be part of it all!!
It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'"  Romans 14:11

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Lesson from Aldis

Last night we went to Aldis, a very routine part of our week.  We think nothing of it usually, but I will never think of it the same after last night.  At least I pray that I won't. 
If you've never been there, you need to be made aware that, in order to keep prices down, they do not accept any form of payment but cash or debit.  Once in a while someone tries to use credit and are gently told they cannot.  These people usually have cash or debit  handy and receive their groceries easily enough.  However, there are also those who come in with food stamps and must be told they cannot use them.  This was the case with the people in front of us.  We did not know it at first.  The cashier was doing her best to keep it quiet, but when she saw their tears and how red faced and ashamed they seemed, she took out her own debit card and paid for their groceries.  They thanked her several times over and left.  She turned to us and said, "I'm not supposed to do that, but I just can't stand it.  Sometimes people come in with food stamps and have their perfectly manicured nails and high end fashions on and I know they are not being honest.  But these people you could just  tell."  The cashier behind us turned and said, "You actually had one person pay you back, didn't you?"  She replied, "Yes, and it was so sweet.  They even had a card that said how I had helped make an elderly lady very happy."  I told her it was a real blessing to be able to do as she was doing.  She smiled and said, "Yes, it is!"
I walked away marveling at her generosity.  I wondered if she were a Christian and wanted to go back and talk to her, but she had several customers to deal with still, so I went on.  I prayed for her and asked a special blessing on her for having such a generous heart and asked God to preserve her and her family.  I asked salvation for her household, if they didn't already have it.  I told the Lord that here was a woman truly living as a child of the most high God.
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."  I Timothy 1:15-16
This precious cashier brought to my remembrance that there are more important matters in this world than material blessings.  There are so many lost and hungry people in this world that need feeding both physically and spiritually and we are to be about the business of making certain they get fed.  Prayer is a most powerful resource for this that we put to use all too rarely.  We need to learn to walk, talk and breathe in prayer.  May we learn to consistently and truly dwell in the Father so that we can minister to the true needs in this world.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Welcome and Please Enter

{Jesus said} "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.  John 10:9
Over the last week or so our lives have been filled with activity.  Last week culminated with having three grandchildren for the weekend.  We had a wonderful time with them and I pray, they with us.  My personal plans for this week were to spend Monday, Wednesday and Friday at school with my grandchildren watching their individual "sports days."  Monday morning I woke to disappointment.  My oldest grandchild was brought to me.  That was NOT the problem.  I was disappointed because I was going to disappoint our two first graders by not being able to go to their events.  The temptation was great to be frustrated and feel sorry for myself.  It took a great deal of effort to get myself to keep smiling.  I was finally able to pray and tell God that I chose to accept His will for me that day.  It turned out to be a day filled with more twists and turns than I would have ever expected, but through it all we laughed, made jokes and had a marvelous day and were able to get the prescription my grandson needed to heal; all because I made the correct choice of entering through the door that leads to joy.
Salvation is entering in through the Door of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for our sins, being washed and cleansed from the stain of sin and entering eternal life.  However, there is so much more to life NOW!!  We tend to neglect that part and sometimes feel we must be living martyrs.  We walk around feeling sorry for ourselves rather than exploring this wonderful gift. 
Debbie Williams compares this to entering a friend's new home, being amazed at its beauty so much that we go no further than through the front door and must be pulled along by our friend to see the rest.  I loved this analogy because so many things popped into my thoughts because of it. 
In my house, the first room you enter (if you enter through the front door) is the livingroom.  When we enter through Jesus - THE door - we enter this same room.  We begin to truly live.  If we stop there, we will miss out on so much more in life, more than we could ever imagine!!
Turn right in our home and you will enter the kitchen - the room of joy!!  It is this room where everyone wants to sit and visit.  It's here we taste new foods and enjoy marvelous desserts. “Kitchen” is of Albanian descent = “the place where you boil.”  Boiling is when the water becomes very active and becomes something it wasn't before - steam.  Just like joy, that steam permeates the air and fills the room.
If you go downstairs to the basement you will discover my preschool classroom.  Going down into the depths causes us to have to look up and we have many learning experiences from doing so.
If I wanted to make this into a booklet, I could tell you about each room and something that can be learned from it in comparison to the theme, but I don't believe it necessary, so I will move on.  
Jesus is so much more than the door to eternal salvation, though He is definitely the only One for it.  He brings us abundant life now, if we will simply continue through the house He has made us to be. We have been given entrance into the Holy of holies.  We are to come boldly (Hebrews 4:16) to His throne of grace.  "Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus,  by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body,  and since we have a great priest over the house of God,  let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."  (Hebrews 10:19-22)   Let's search out this building of abundance we now dwell in and receive all He intends for us.   "The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms."  Deuteronomy 33:27

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort.  I Corinthians 1:3
The Greek word for comfort is parakaleo which means "to call to one's side, speak to, in the way of exhortation, console, teach."
As I read this chapter it hit me that this is exactly what God was doing for me this morning.
As I lay in bed last evening around 3 a.m., the things that had taken place in our government over the last few days that have brought tears of grief to my heart started running through my mind over and over again.  I began to feel despondent, confused, angry, disheartened and fearful.  The thought that there was no hope for this nation kept pounding on my heart's door.  I fought, but I was tired and it makes it more difficult, which is why the evil one chooses night time to really put up a fight.  It took a lot of work to get to the place of being able to concentrate my thoughts on prayer.  Afterward I was able to snuggle up against my husband and go back to sleep.  However, when I woke this morning the thoughts of what my grandchildren will be growing up in tried to overwhelm me once again.
Determined to not give in, I read my Bible, read chapter 8 of the book I am studying and went back to prayer.  This was the exact chapter I needed to get past the nagging anxiety at the back of my mind. (Pray with Purpose... Live with Passion, by Debbie Williams)
Over the last few days it has been decided that 15 year old girls and up should be able to purchase the abortion pill over the counter.  It has been argued time and again by Planned Parenthood and Pro-Choice counterparts that it is not really an abortion pill per say, but rather a preventative.  However, here is a direct quote from an article by someone with the Birth Control Health Center:

Plan B works like other birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. Plan B acts primarily by stopping the release of an egg from the ovary. It may prevent a sperm from fertilizing the egg.

If fertilization does occur, Plan B may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb. If a fertilized egg is implanted prior to taking Plan B, Plan B will not work and pregnancy proceeds normally....While some people do feel that pregnancy begins at the time of conception, many doctors and the FDA do not describe Plan B as an abortion pill but as emergency contraception.
According to this article then, it is all a matter of opinion, so it doesn't really matter.
It has also been decided by Planned Parenthood:(and I quote) "If a baby is born alive after an attempted abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?"  Response:  "We believe that any decision that is made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician."  After asking the question in different ways to make certain the answer was understood correctly, the Planned Parenthood lobbyist gave the same answer above each time.  Next question: "I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn't you agree?"  Answer:  "That's a very good question.  I really don't know how to answer that."
This disregard for human life should not be surprising.  People do not want to believe this goes on but: (Please read the bold print sentence at the end if nothing else)

Human rights violation and forced abortions

The one-child policy is challenged in principle and in practice for violating a human right to determine the size of one's own family. According to a 1968 proclamation of the International Conference on Human Rights, "Parents have a basic human right to determine freely and responsibly the number and the spacing of their children."[54][55]
A 2001 report exposed that a quota of 20,000 abortions and sterilizations was set for Huaiji County in Guangdong Province in one year due to reported disregard of the one-child policy. The effort included using portable ultrasound devices to identify abortion candidates in remote villages. Earlier reports also showed that women as far along as 8.5 months pregnant were forced to abort by injection of saline solution.[8] There were also reports of women in their 9th month of pregnancy, or already in labour, having their children killed whilst in the birth canal or immediately after birth.[56]
In 2002, China outlawed the use of physical force to make a woman submit to an abortion or sterilization, but it is not entirely enforced.[48][57] In the execution of the policy, many local governments still demand abortions if the pregnancy violates local regulations, or even force abortions on women violating the policy. One such case, Feng Jianmei, gained international attention after the family posted graphic pictures of the aborted fetus online. Feng's case has been credited for renewing public debate on the one-child policy both in and out of China.[58]
Although China has had a reputation for heavy-handed eugenics policies as part of its population planning policies, the government has backed away from such policies recently, as evidenced by China's ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which compels the nation to significantly reform its genetic testing laws.[59] Recent scholarship has also emphasized the necessity of understanding a myriad of complex social relations that affect the meaning of informed consent in China.[60] Furthermore, in 2003, China revised its marriage registration regulations and couples no longer have to submit to a pre-marital physical or genetic examination before being granted a marriage license.[61]
The United Nations Population Fund's (UNFPA) funding for this policy led the United States Congress to pull out of the UNFPA during the Reagan years,[62] and again under George W. Bush's presidency, citing human rights abuses[63] and stating that the right to "found a family" was protected under the Preamble in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.[64] President Obama resumed U.S. government financial support for the UNFPA shortly after taking office in 2009, intending to "work[ing] collaboratively to reduce poverty, improve the health of women and children, prevent HIV/AIDS and provide family planning assistance to women in 154 countries"

Then I saw this headline this morning:

Report: Head of Chinese kindergarten leaves poisoned yogurt outside rival school, 2 girls die

By Associated Press, Updated: Thursday, May 2, 5:16 AM

BEIJING — Chinese state media say two girls have died after eating poisoned yogurt placed outside their kindergarten at the direction of the head of a rival school.
The Xinhua News Agency says police believe the poisoning was motivated by competition for students between the schools.

This is where China's disregard for human life has taken them.  So where are we headed then?
I had many more thoughts going through my brain about how my grandchildren were going to be surrounded by a no-boundary society as they grow into adults and how scary that is.  You can imagine where my thoughts went from there.  Suffice it to say, this study this morning was not only a comfort, but a lesson on remembering to Whom I should listen.
Finally, brothers, 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. Philippians 4:8Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.  II Corinthians 13:11

God is still in control.  Man may think he is running the show, but in the end all will be revealed and what is this life compared to all eternity?  So I will continue to pray for my children, grandchildren, future grandchildren, etc. and all the other children having to grow up in this crazy power hungry world and trust my heavenly Father for the results.  
 Romans 8:28 - And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Proverbs 19:21 - [There are] many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Matthew 19:26 - But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 6:34 - Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day [is] the evil thereof.