Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Different Kind of Christmas

There is a heaviness, a deep sadness, and a cloak over everything today. In this season of joy to the world, tears are falling like rain. People are smiling with only half their hearts today.

What better time is there to celebrate the birth of a Savior?

We need a Savior. We need someone to give us hope, to tell us that it will all be okay.

Angels singing, bells are ringing, a baby in a manger bringing us hope. Hope that justice will be done. Hope that there will one day be a new earth. A terra-firma where no one's mind will snap. Where no one will lose their grip. Where children will run free and unafraid.

We must believe. If we don't believe, we will lose our grip as well. We will become bitter and hopeless and despair and destroy. What good will that do, except to perpetuate more evil?

One day there will be peace on earth. Not today.

Since Eden, there has been no peace. Man's fault, not God's.

The babe in swaddling clothes grew in grace and wisdom and stature and walked and talked and lived and laughed and suffered and died on a cross, arms outstretched, blood flowing, to bring this peace on earth, good will toward men.

I believe this. I have to believe this. I have to believe Him. I would have lost heart a long time ago, if I had not believed.

As tears flow, as hearts ache, as breaths come shallow and labored and heavy, there is hope. Blessed Hope.

He knows how much we need Him. And He will come. He will come to hearts today and He will come to earth soon.

The babe in the manger will come a King on a white horse. Splendor and majesty and all things made right and new.

The time is near.

What better time to celebrate His birth than in the midst of such horror?

We need Him so!

And I know that He will show us His Glory. There will be stories. I'm waiting to hear them. I know that He will show Himself in so many ways that could only be Him. Because only He can turn ashes into beauty, give gladness for mourning, strength for fear, peace for despair.

He will make Himself known. Because even though it's so hard to believe He could be, He is here. Here to comfort. Here to weep. Here to strengthen. Here to uphold and lift up and keep us continuing on.

Because He came. In the fullness of time, God sent Him.

Christmas has a whole new meaning to me today. God, how we need a Savior! God sent us a Savior!

His Name is Jesus, the Lord's Christ.

Christ the Lord.



 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another Thanksgiving Post

What can I say about Thanksgiving that hasn't been said a thousand times on Facebook and Twitter and all over the blogosphere during the last two weeks?

I must confess that I'm cheating today. This post is an edited version of one that I wrote in 2005, when "Tuesdays with Jesus" first began. I admit that I have used it on some other Thanksgiving weeks since then.

I repent.

Many of you have never seen this post, and for those of you who have, I believe that the message is still as sweet for this very holiday week. Psalm 98 was my inspiration, and I would encourage you to stop what you're doing and read those words before you continue. Won't you please?       


How typical is it to write about Thanksgiving this week? It doesn't surprise you, does it? I think that you may find what you are about to read is a little different. Are you up for a challenge?

The Lord asked me to do something this week that is quite out of the ordinary, and I invite you to accept the challenge with me. From today until next Saturday evening, give thanks. "Easy enough", you say. No, I mean ONLY give thanks. Don't ASK God for anything - ONLY give thanks.

Verse 1 of this psalm says, "Sing to the Lord a new song". The "songs" we typically sing are full of  requests and petitions to God. I would guess that your "asking" time outweighs your praising and thanking time, when you go to God in prayer. Let's sing a new song - one of ONLY giving thanks. No whining, no complaining, no begging, no asking - ONLY thanks!

Do you believe that your Heavenly Father knows everything you need before you ask Him (Matthew 6:8)? Let me assure you that just because you aren't asking for a few days, doesn't mean that God will not be aware of your needs. He's not going to say, "Gee, I haven't heard any requests from Sally and Joe today - I wonder what's going on; I wonder what they need?" How absurd! Your Father knows! Yes, we are told to pray, but I believe that it will be refreshing and pleasing to God's ears to hear nothing but our heartfelt thanks for a few days.

We can thank Him because He has done marvelous things (v.1). His right hand and holy arm have worked salvation for Him (v. 1b). He is righteous (v. 2). He makes His love and faithfulness known to all the ends of the earth (v. 3). He is our King (v. 6). He is the judge who will judge in righteousness and equity (v. 9). He forgives all your sins, heals all your diseases, redeems your life from the pit, crowns you with love and compassion, and satisfies your desires with good things (Psalm 103: 1-5).

Thank Him - Praise Him!!

When I'm talking thanks, friend, I'm talking real thanks. Look at the commands of Psalm 98. Verse 4a says, "Shout". To "shout"is to utter a sudden loud cry. "Burst into jubilant song with music". (v. 4b) "Bursting" is like an explosion - "jubilant" is rejoicing in triumph. Explode into triumphant rejoicing over your God!

Sing - shout for joy (v. 6)! When David brought the Ark of the Lord back to Jerusalem, he was leaping and dancing before the Lord to the point that the Bible says his wife despised him. He told her, "I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this" (2 Samuel Ch. 6:16,21-22).

The sea, the mountains, the rivers, the whole world, is commanded to sing before the Lord (Psalm 98: vs. 7-9). Jesus said that if the people didn't cry out, "the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40).  

Don't be put to shame by the rocks!

The praise and thanksgiving set forth in God's word is not quiet, reserved, or afraid of what other people think about it.

It is shouting, dancing, joyful music, and exuberant praise to the One who is worthy!

Not only will days of only thanksgiving be pleasing to the Lord, but I believe that it will be beneficial to us as well.

Try something for me. Say your name five times in your head. Now try and think about your address while still thinking your name. Can't do it, can you? We can't think about two things at the same time! While thanking God, we cannot worry. While expressing thanks, we cannot complain. We can't fret. We can't murmur or grumble. We can't work out our own plans to take care of our problems.

There's freedom in the midst of the thanksgiving!

I believe that our joy will increase and overflow as we thank. If we really concentrate on what we have been given, we will become joyful. Our focus will shift from what we don't have, to "every good and perfect gift" that God has given us (James 1:17).

You may be thinking that you don't have much to be thankful for today. Oh, my friend, you do! Start with your spiritual blessings; the Cross, salvation, God's love for you. His faithfulness, His mercy and compassion. The forgiveness of all of your sins. The Blessed Holy Spirit living on the inside of you. If you are reading this right now, I assume that you have been blessed with a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and food to nourish your body. I praise God each morning for eyes that see, ears that hear, lips that speak, and a body that moves. Each breath, each heartbeat - a gift from God.

Do you hate doing laundry? Thank God for a husband and children who wear those clothes and that you have the means to buy them. Do you hate house cleaning? Thank Him for providing shelter. Do you hate your job? Please don't!! Thank Him that you have one -- so many do not! You get the point...

You might say, "But Donna, you just don't know what I'm going through right now. It's so hard to be thankful." The Bible tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). All -- not some. Even in bad situations we can thank Him because "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Thank Him because "the testing of your faith is developing perseverance (patience). When perseverance has finished it's work you will be mature, complete, not lacking anything" (James 1: 3-4). Maybe you can't see the end from the beginning today? Thank God for teaching you how to trust Him!!

Today is Sunday. Won't you join me for the next five days on this journey of total thankfulness? It won't be easy, I assure you. We're not used to it. That old, ugly father of lies may even put on a stronger attack. Let me make a few suggestions:

When you have a thought or a  situation that would cause you to worry or fret or complain, just say "Jesus". There is power in that name.

Say, "Jesus" and then begin to thank Him, once again.

If you are in a prayer group this week, dare to be different - tell the others that you're doing nothing this week but thanking Him. Who knows? It may catch on....Hallelujah!

Thank Him for what He WILL do, ahead of time, "calling things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). Thank Him for that healed marriage. Thank Him for that saved son or daughter. Thank Him for the provision He is sending...right now!

Put your laundry list of requests in your pocket, immerse yourself in the Word, and see all His benefits (Psalm 103:2). Shout for joy even if you don't feel like it. Be undignified! Let "Thank you Jesus!" continually be in your mouth! Then go to worship Him on Sunday morning. Praise, sing, dance, if you're not embarrassed. You will have "joy unspeakable and full of glory" (1 Peter 1:8).

I believe that God is going to do some mighty things in our lives this week. I really do. Won't you try it with me?

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.




Tell Me a Story

Thursday, November 15, 2012

In The Potter's Hands

"But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands, so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. ...can I not do with you as this potter does?" declares the Lord. "Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel." Jeremiah 18:4,6

Beautiful pots always start with a chunk of shapeless clay. The first step in making pots is to prepare the clay. It is kneaded back and forth, back and forth, with the heel of the hands of the potter, until it forms a smooth ball. Next it is pulled, stretched, pressed, smoothed, and rolled into the shape of the pot that the potter desires.

I admit that I am a marred piece of clay. My Heavenly Father is the Potter. Just like that clay in the hand of the potter, so am I in the Lord's hands.

If we want to be honest, I think we would admit that we spend a whole lot of time in the kneading hands of the Potter. There seem to be particular seasons in life where the pressure of His shaping hands is felt more than the hand of His blessing. It is so important to God that we become even, pleasing, well-formed, and purposeful, that His infinite love will allow us to be very uncomfortable.

We are kneaded and stretched in many different ways. A difficult work situation. A fight with a spouse. A disobedient child. An aging parent. People talking about us. Feeling offended. Thinking life isn't fair. We may have more month left at the end of the money. But God tells us that He is shaping us as it seems best to Him.

Human clay is not passive, as is the clay of the earthly potter. When we are being kneaded and stretched, we can respond. Therein lies our choice. While God is sovereign in His work, He is responsive to our wills. We can choose to live by our emotions and feelings, giving way to anger, bitterness and resentment. Or, we can choose to respond in love. We can choose to return evil for evil or overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21) We can choose to renew our mind with the Word of God and obey it, or we can choose to conform to the patterns of the world. (Romans 12:2) We can choose fear or faith.

I believe the more right choices that we make, the less time we will spend on the potter's wheel. The children of Israel turned an eleven day journey into a 40 year trip, around the same mountain over and over and over again with their grumbling, complaining and disobedience.

Are you pliable in the Potter's hands, or are you hard and cracked? Are you concentrating more on the pressure of His hands, or on the loving touch of them? If a piece of clay is pliable, it is much easier and faster for the potter to mold it into shape. If it is hard and cracked the Potter won't stop -- He will just continue to knead and press until it is just as He wants it to be.

The making of a beautiful pot doesn't stop with the kneading process. The pots are then fired. They are put into a kiln or furnace. These are the real pressures of life. The marriage fails. The child rebels. The job is lost. The eviction notice comes in the mail. They ruin your reputation. The doctor's report says it's cancer. This is where total surrender to the Potter is the only rational choice to make. When it comes to God it is perfectly appropriate to say, "I give! Take it all! Take control of it all! There is nothing left of me." Isn't that just the response He wanted from you all along? Self-sufficiency may impress men but it doesn't impress God. Our feeble strength is no match for the strength He can give. The more helpless we are, the more God can show His power.

Show God that you trust in Him completely. Repent of your sins and thinking you can take care of yourself, or that you can solve your own problems. Stop relying on yourself and men - start relying on God. He knows what He's doing. Isaiah 29:16 says, "You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing"? Of course not - He knows everything! He is our Creator, and is the only one who can control our lives without destroying them.

Fall limp in the hands of the Potter. Be pliable and moldable no matter what comes. God says in Isaiah 30:15, "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength."

An assessment of a finished pot should reveal an even thickness of the walls, a pleasing form, well-joined pieces, and it should be made for a designated purpose.

I am making a determined decision to be a pliable piece of clay in my Potter's hands beginning today. I have been on the wheel a lot lately, and God's light has shown on many dark places I still have in my heart. He has made me acutely aware of the ugliness of my sins, great and small, in His sight. But He has also let me know that those lessons learned were the exact reasons that I've been on the wheel. I believe that He is evening me out, and smoothing my rough edges. He is giving me a pleasing form in His sight. He is imparting to me His strength to keep my pieces well-joined so they don't come apart under pressure. And He is daily showing me the designated purpose for my life.

Repent - Rest - Be Quiet - Trust

We will always be marred to some degree until Jesus comes and we are made just like Him. But in the meantime, being moldable and pliable in the Potter's loving hands will cause Him to stand back from His finished product and say, "Ah...You are now a vessel of honor fit for my use."

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

When It Seems Like It's Too Late

"Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days"

Wait! What?

I know that it's happened to you before. You're reading a passage of Scripture, one you've read what seems a million times before, and something just jumps out at you. It jumps right off the inspired, God-breathed page! That's exactly what happened to me yesterday. 

I've read John, Chapter 11, so many times. I've preached on it. I've taught on it. I've memorized many of it's verses. You probably know all about it too. Even non-believers can tell you about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.

I almost wish that you had never heard this account before. I wish this was the first time that you've ever laid eyes on it. Perhaps someone is reading this right now, and has no ever-lovin' idea who Lazarus is, and what Jesus did that day in Bethany. Oh, let it be! For those of you familiar, humor me, and pretend for a moment that you're reading it for the first time.

As I began reading this Bible account yesterday, I was on familiar ground. Until my eyes saw verse 5. For some reason I never, ever noticed those words. Until yesterday, I never fathomed how important it was for the Holy Spirit to put them right there, at the exact place they needed to be.

Think about it. There was a man named Lazarus. He had two sisters, Martha and Mary. He was sick. Jesus was told that his friend needed Him.  

"Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

I believe that God placed those words right there to speak something so special to us, right before we were about to read the difficult passages that follow. He wanted to be sure that we knew that Jesus LOVED this trio of friends. He LOVED them. God wants you, the reader, to know this for sure, because...

...what follows are troubling words.
So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

Two more days!  If you had no idea how the rest of the story goes, here is where you might shout! "Jesus, how could you? Why didn't you drop everything and go?" Two more days! In the meantime, Lazarus dies, has already been buried in the tomb, his corpse stinketh (KJV), Mary and Martha and many other Jews are grieving, and wondering where in the world their friend, Jesus is. He is too late. 

 "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

When something in your life is dead. D-E-A-D. When it's so dead that it stinks. When it's past the point where you needed the answer NOW.

Jesus loves you.

When, like Martha, you believe that everything will be okay when you arrive in Heaven, but can't believe that there is any goodness left for you in the land of the living. When your situation is so dead, so far gone, when Jesus is so late that you need a miracle, if you even believe in miracles.

 Jesus loves you.

The Holy Spirit included those words in this account because you need to know, today, that just as He loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus, He loves you! Yes, you! He is no respecter of persons. He has no favorites. He wants to comfort you with those words in whatever situation you're going through. He wants you to be assured of His love, before, perhaps, things only seem to get worse with each passing day.

You may see nothing. It seems that there is no hope for your desperate situation. Be encouraged! Jesus loves you! Love never hurts you. Love never leaves you. Love never betrays you. Love always does what's best. Love is perfect. Love's results are awesome. Jesus is Love. God is Love.

And ... He. Loves. You.

Jesus told the disciples that this would turn out for His glory. (v. 4) In the end, He spoke these amazing words to Martha. "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (v. 40)

Believe what? Believe in His love for you. 

He will not dishonor Himself. He will not be unglorified. He will not be put to shame, or called a liar. He is all about His glory, and sometimes things have to become so out of reach, so difficult, and so impossible, that no man can come to the rescue. No human being or institution or worldly help can be savior.

Then the Savior, the Deliverer, the Redeemer, the Restorer, the Lord God Almighty, can come in and do what ONLY HE CAN DO!

Wherever you're at this day, precious one, plant the truth that Jesus loves you deep down in your heart. Don't just intellectually know it. Let it go from the page, to your mind, to your heart, and to your spirit.         

Jesus loves you.

Tether yourself to that truth. Anchor yourself to His love for you. Then when things go from bad to worse, you will hang on. You will endure well. You will persevere. You will not be moved. You will be steadfast and unshakable. You will be filled with hope, because you will know that you are dearly loved.

When you can't trust His hand, trust His heart.     

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 If you would like to listen to a message that I preached based on this account click here:



 

 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Like This...








 Falling like rain. 

There is no sound.
It's a quiet
stripping. 

Why?

Still falling. Falling like rain.

For no other reason 
than because it's the season. 




A season for breaking and crumbling
beneath feet that dare to trod holy ground.
Because holy ground
breaks what was never meant to last. 
It crumbles the temporary. 
Until all that remains is eternal.




It's a necessary stripping bare
Where some go quickly.
Others die a slow death.




Bending, but not breaking.
Wobbly, but not falling.

Somehow, 
there is a beauty in the dying.





When arms are lifted high
 and roots have grown deep.

Faith holds on.
He says that without faith
it is impossible to please Him.
The One who was stripped
bare
broken
with arms lifted high.
 
I want to please Him with faith
more than I want the thing I'm believing for.
  

Faith knows that
after the Winter,
 Spring will come.

It will all be beautiful again. 






" I do it because, though He slay me, 
yet will I wait for and trust Him".
 (Job 13:15 AMP)







 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The One Where I Learn About Forgiveness From A Four-Year Old

The Episode

She's only four years old. I should have seen it coming. It may seem like small potatoes to you, but the lesson I learned from my four-year old granddaughter, a few short days ago, will stay with me for a lifetime.

We had set up a play date with Ashton's cousin Ted. She had been asking for a while to get together with him, so I set up the date with my sister-in-law, Ted's "Nana". We had originally planned to visit the local cider mill, but the weather was really icky. Instead, we would go to McDonald's (or "O'Donald's", as Ash likes to call it), and then we would come back to Gigi's house to play. "Gigi" would be me.

Ashton knew the plan full well.

We arrived at O'Donalds, got our lunch, and went into the playroom. You know the kind. The one with the HUGE play scape and only one way out. The little darlings have to pass right by you to get out the door. Ash and Ted had a wonderful time, except for one minor altercation, when Ted found himself another "Princess" to play with. Silly boy, who doesn't know that there can only be ONE Princess! 

Gigi and Nana had a wonderful time too, chatting and catching up on our lives. Gigi and Nana had SUCH a wonderful time, that when Nana's phone rang, THREE HOURS LATER, with Ted's daddy asking where in the bajeebers we were, there went the plan to go back to Gigi's house and play. 

Saying our goodbye's in the parking lot of O'Donalds was Ashton's first clue that things were not aright. The goodbye's were a little too final for her liking. She was catching on. No sooner did I pull out on the road, when she asked the fatal question. "Are we going to your house to play?" When I explained that we ran out of time, that Ted's Dad was waiting for him, and that no, we weren't going back to my house to play with Ted....all Hades broke loose in the back seat of my Mustang. 

It was already late in the afternoon, so I was on my way to drop her off at home. She didn't catch on to that until I was two blocks from her house. When I turned the car onto her street, she made her first display of disappointment look like a walk in the park. She wanted to go to Gigi's house, not home. I'm telling you, one would think I was taking her, well, I don't know where, but it was BAD!!! She promised to be good. She promised to let me get some things done around the house. She promised that she would play by herself until I did my chores. She promised the world. Just so she could come back to my house. Mind you, by now, we were about ten houses away from her house. I called her Mama who said to just bring her home, a lesson needed to be learned, and that's that.

My heart was broken. Shattered. Into one million, gazillion pieces. I was sick to my stomach. I had let this precious one down. In her mind, Gigi had totally broken a promise. And that killed me. She was still a little upset when I left her at home, but a little upset doesn't even begin to describe me for the rest of the night. Ask my husband. I was sick over the whole ordeal. I just wanted to go to bed and not have to think about it. I was devastated that I had let her down. It was Thursday evening.

Fast forward to Sunday morning. I hadn't seen Ashton since "The Episode". As usual, I didn't see her before the church service. We were dismissed from the sanctuary, and like every other Sunday morning, I stood in the middle of the foyer, waiting for my husband to pick Ash up from Sunday school. 

She appeared. At the top of the stairs. With a smile as big as the moon, her arms outstretched, and a loud "GIGI"!!, she ran into my waiting arms. We hugged and I almost squeezed the life out of that little body. 

I was so obviously forgiven that it took my breath away.  

The Lesson

 "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18: 3)

When someone breaks our heart, when someone breaks a promise, when someone lets us down, do we, as adults, forgive like that? This isn't about forgive and forget, mind you. I'm sure that if you asked Ashton about "The Episode", she remembers it well. But her little child's heart allowed her love for her Gigi to leave the hurt in the past, and forgive me. It allowed her to run to me and throw her arms around me and love me anyway. Oh, how we need to learn forgiveness like that!

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15: 20)  

Isn't this just like our Heavenly Father? How many times have we let Him down? How many times have we broken our promises to Him? How many times has He seen us coming from a long way off, opened His arms wide, and welcomed us home in total forgiveness? 

"Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (Colossians 3: 13) 

"Forgive as the Lord forgave you". How did He forgive you? Graciously and freely! We are commanded to forgive in just that same way. 

Like a little child. Like our Heavenly Father. 

So forgiven and forGIVING, that it takes breath away. 

If you haven't sinned or been forgiven much, then this isn't for you. However, if you, like me, have been forgiven much, you will love much and forgive, graciously and freely. 

You're going to love this. After church on Sunday, we had breakfast and made our weekly trip to Starbucks for coffee. On a chilly autumn day, the Fourth of July far behind us, saying our goodbyes outside, the little darling looked at me and gave me her parting words.

"Gigi, tomorrow you'll take me to see fireworks!"

Really?    

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Linking with:
Ann at A Holy Experience 
Emily at imperfect prose on thursdays 
Tell Me A Story 
Wisdom Wednesday 

Thursday Favorite Things

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Dumb Spirit

I literally laughed out loud, all by myself.

Every night, before I lay my head down on the pillow, I read the evening devotional by Charles Spurgeon. For some reason, the other night, I saw the most hilarious thing. Check out the first sentence.

"A certain man had a demoniac son, who was afflicted with a dumb spirit."  

Lol!!

Now, I don't know about the "demoniac" part, but man, have I seen some loved ones afflicted with dumb spirits. 

I know, I know...the Greek word used in this translation means, speechless, wanting the faculty of speech. But I was struck funny by the modern day definition of dumb, of which I'm more familiar. "Lacking intelligence or good judgment." Dumb. 

Have you ever had those times when you just cannot believe the lack of good judgment, the dumb decisions, the absence of common sense, that a loved one has? It may be a son, like this man in Mark 9: 14-29 KJV. It could be a daughter. Lest I sound like the arrogant tax collector in Luke's gospel, I have been an afflicted,  dumb spirit, a time or two myself.

This the story of a father, desperately searching for someone to heal his son. A son afflicted with a dumb spirit. This has not been a temporary condition. When Jesus asked the father how long his son had been suffering, he answered, "from childhood." He was obviously not a child anymore, and was still afflicted. Some never grow up or grow out. 

What are we to do? What can this passage of Scripture teach us when our child is afflicted? 

Dumb spirits are sent to kill our children. This father told Jesus that when the spirit would come on his son, it would throw him into the fire or water "to kill him". (v. 22) In John 10:10, Jesus said that the enemy, the devil, comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. He would love nothing more than to kill our children, literally and spiritually. There is an all-out war for the souls of our children today. We are fighting an unseen enemy, but a vicious, destroying enemy, nonetheless. He is real and he is after your children. There is nothing random in the assault. It is carefully calculated and we must stand against it. But how?

Dumb spirits aren't driven out by ordinary means. Dr. Spock, and Dr. Phil, and Oprah and Dr. Whoever the expert of the day is, will not heal our sons and daughters. We are in the world, but we do not fight with the weapons of this world. The weapons we fight with are mighty in God for the pulling down of strongholds. (2 Corinthians 10: 3-4) The disciples couldn't drive out the dumb spirit from this young man. Jesus said, "Bring the boy to me." (v. 19) 

Dumb spirits must be brought to Jesus in belief. Do you believe that Jesus can save and deliver your child? Do you really believe? Or are you double-minded? Do you pray for the child and then search the internet for advice? Do you have one eye on Jesus and one ear to the world's methods? This father said to Jesus, "IF you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." (v. 22) IF???? The deliverance of your child from that dumb spirit depends on your faith! "Everything is possible for him who believes." (v. 23) EVERYTHING is POSSIBLE for him who BELIEVES!

Dumb spirits can come out only by prayer. (v. 29) I have personally been in the place of this father a few times. I can solemnly testify that prayer works. Down on the floor, face to the carpet, tears streaming, heart breaking prayer works. Prayer works, dear one. All of our pleading with the child, all of our lectures, all of our well-meaning advice, will never accomplish what the power of a praying parent can accomplish. If we can just love our child, right where they are, dumb spirit and all, and take it to the Lord in prayer, God will do what only He can do.  

Dumb spirits may get worse before they get better. When Jesus rebuked the spirit in this son, it shrieked, convulsed the child violently, and left him looking like a corpse. So much so, that those around them were sure that he was dead. That situation with your child may look like it can't get any worse today. Oh, it can. You may feel that your prayers are hitting the ceiling, that God isn't hearing your cries for help, and that nothing is working. Don't give up. Don't give in. No matter what it looks like to your natural eyes. God is at work on behalf of those who wait for Him. (Isaiah 64:4) He is working every situation, every circumstance, every seemingly awful thing happening to your child for good. (Romans 8:28) They are all steps on the road to complete and total salvation and deliverance for your child. Walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Cor. 5:7) Remember that Joseph was in a pit before he was in Potiphar's house. He was in a prison, before he ever made it to the palace. All the while, his father thought he was dead. But the Bible says that through it all, God was with Joseph. God is with your son or your daughter. No matter what it looks like. 

Dumb spirits will submit to the commands of Jesus. Trust God to work this thing out His way, and in His time. It will be perfect. One sweet day will be THE day. The day that Jesus says to that spirit in your child, "I command you, come out of him (her) and NEVER enter him (her) again!" (v. 25) 

Jesus will take your child by the hand, lift her up to her feet, and she will stand up. Whole. Healed. Delivered. Saved. Free. (v. 27)   

Jesus loves him, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves him.
Yes, Jesus loves her.
Yes, Jesus loves them.
The Bible tells me so.  

Linking up today with 
Emily 
Duane 
Ann 
Amy

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

On Noah's Second Birthday

Hey, Mister Man ~~ It's Gigi, again. I hope these words somehow find their way to you. Maybe Jesus will pull you up into His lap and read them to you. I don't know. There's so much that I don't know, sweet baby boy.

I don't know why you're not here this week to celebrate your second birthday.

I refuse to say that you "would have been" two years old this week. You are...because you live. You may not dwell with us here on planet Earth, but you are alive just the same. Honestly, I don't know what that exactly looks like. Your being alive in Glory, I mean.

I don't know why some, like you, are chosen to spend every moment of their lives in Heaven, while some are chosen to endure the Earth for 70 or 80 years.

I don't know what you look like now.

I know that you never sprouted wings and that you are not an angel. Want to know a secret, Noah? I hate it when people say that you are an angel, looking down on us from heaven. Shh...don't tell anyone, because Gigi tries to be nice, and not start a fight. But I know that angels are completely separate beings, and that you are not an angel.

Do babies grow in Heaven? Grow beautiful? Are you still a babe in arms, or have you grown into a toddler? How many words do you know? Do you play with the other children? Is Jesus sweeter and more beautiful than I could ever imagine?

I wish you could let me know, Mister Man. What I do know is that you are alive in Glory. Today and forevermore. Right now we can only imagine, and see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now we know only in part; then we shall know fully, even as we are fully known. That's what St. Paul said. Have you met him yet?

I wish that you could tell me that you are so happy.

I wish you could once -- just once -- tell your Mama and Daddy how much you miss them, how much you love them, and how much you can't wait to see them.

How absolutely worth it, it will all be.

You can be so proud of Mommy and Daddy, Mister Man. They miss you so much, and there is not a single, solitary moment that they don't wish you were here. You could not be loved one ounce more than you are. They love Jesus, and they trust Him with you. They long for the day that they will see you with their own eyes, and hold you in their arms. Would you ask Jesus to give them some extra measures of grace and strength this week? Would you ask Him to draw very close, and comfort them in those times when not having you is so incredibly hard? They are strong because Jesus gives them His strength. They are a beautiful example of faith and trust to all who know them. 

I miss not seeing you do two-year old things. What I'm really missing today is another secret I want to tell you. Shh..don't tell anyone. When your sisters, Ashton and Evie, and your cousin Brooklyn were born, and all those other folks were chatting all around the room, I held them in my arms and welcomed them to our world by telling them that they were awesome, mighty, beautiful women of God. I whispered those words over and over again in their little ears. No one could hear but the girls and Gigi. I told them how much Jesus loved them. I had planned to do the same with you. I could not wait to hold you close and whisper those words in your ear. You are a mighty, strong, bold, courageous man of God. You are a man after God's own heart. Jesus loves you so, so much. That's what I would have told you. Today, you know that Love more than Gigi does. You know it up close and personal. You can see Him, you can smell Him, you can feel Him. Is it beyond amazing, Mister Man? I bet it's more than we can ever think or imagine, right? Tell me...oh, how I wish you could.

But for now...

I will keep kissing your picture. You have the sweetest little mouth. And guess what? Your new baby sister, Evie...she has your chin. She looks like you!

But, I want you to understand this, Mister Man...There is only one you. Evie is not a replacement. She is an addition to your sweet family, a family in which you are a treasured member. You are not forgotten.

Only one you...only one Noah.

You will never be replaced.

God did not replace.
He redeemed. 

For now, I can only imagine.

Until my faith becomes my eyes.

I miss you. Not a day goes by that I don't think of you. I look at your picture so often. Some days, I can't look. It's too much to bear...some days.

But other days, I look, and touch your cheek, and kiss those lips, and smile.

I smile because I know that you are safe in the Father's care. I smile because Jesus has promised that you are with Him. I know that you have never once felt pain. I know that every need is met, and that you want for nothing. I smile that because you are, our world is a better place. I would really rather be holding you in my arms today, but I trust the One who holds you in His. But there are many days that I cry. I cry...hard. Something will just remind me of you, out of the blue. I look at your picture...a lot. You are so, so handsome, Mister Man. You are a man after God's own heart. You are mighty, bold, strong and courageous. Gigi loves you just as much as any grandmother's heart could. Gigi loves you so much today, and every day.

Oh, how can one heart hurt so badly, yet rejoice so completely, all at the same time?

Jesus promised that in all things, He works for the good of those who love Him. I love Him so! I'm counting on that promise. I'm holding Him to His Word.

Happy, happy, second birthday, Mister Man.

I want to say so much more, but there are just no other words.

Maybe Jesus can read my heart to you, along with this letter.

I can only keep imagining, until I fully see.

Imagining, maybe this?








I love you, Mister Man.
Your Gigi.



 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

You Didn't Build That

There has been a firestorm of talk over the last few weeks about a remark that President Barack Obama made during a campaign speech. In a nutshell, he inferred that if you have been successful in any way, you didn't get there on your own. If you have a successful business, "you didn't build that."

Barack Obama was right.

Now, now...before some of my friends give me the fist pump of affirmation, and before some of my friends gather collectively to stone me, let me explain. I know that the remark the President made was in a whole different context, but please allow me a wee bit of liberty and grace. I needed an opening for this post and this seemed good to me.

During my prayer time the other day, I was thanking God for all of the things I normally thank God for. You know...my husband, my children, my grandchildren, health, my husband's job, ministry opportunities, finances, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, the cross, salvation, and the Word. I didn't have a new revelation, but I just paid more attention, giving it more thought on that particular morning.

There is not one single solitary thing that I thanked God for, that did not come first from His hand.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1: 17 ESV)

Every good gift. Every perfect gift. Every single solitary thing that I thank God for. It comes from Him.

I thank Him for material blessings.

"But remember the Lord your God, for it is HE who gives you the ability to produce wealth." (Deut. 8:18)

I thank Him for salvation.

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast." (Ephesians 2: 8-9)

What about that faith that I have been saved through?

"The measure of faith that God has assigned." (Romans 12:3 ESV)

The grace by which I've been saved?

"But He gives more grace." (James 4: 6 ESV)

Dare I be proud that I love the Lord?

"We love because He first loved us." (1 John 4: 19 NIV)

I have nothing that didn't come from Him. I am not saved by any other but Him. Faith? Uh-uh! He gives me the measure of that. I can't even take credit for the love that I have for Him. He loved me first.

The air that I breathe. The next breath that I take. Each beat of my heart. It comes from the Giver of Life.

Each one of my children were conceived and born because God opens and closes wombs. (Genesis 30: 22; 1 Samuel 1: 19-20)

Success? God "humbles and He exalts." (1 Samuel 2: 7b)

President Obama doesn't know how correct he was in making that statement. His error was in where he was giving the credit for what we have, and for what we have accomplished.

Mr. President, you are right. We didn't build that.

God did!  

 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

All I Need

We stand and we sing the song.

"Left my fear by the side of the road 
Hear You speak. 
Won't let go.
Fall to my knees as I lift my hands to pray".

The music haunts me. Not the words, but the instruments and the way that they blend together. They create a sound. Quiet, yet disturbed. I can't put it into words, but it does what only music can. It makes you feel.

"Got every reason to be here again
Father's love that draws me in
And all my eyes wanna see is a glimpse of You".

Maybe if I look really hard I might just see Him there. I might get a glimpse. Do you think He sits on that step? The one that leads to the platform? Do you think that He's right THERE? Listening. Then the chorus.

"All I need is You
All I need is You Lord
Is you Lord".

I think He must smile when He sees the beautiful lady of color who sings the words with eyes closed, heart reaching praise right from her toes. 
 
Smiling over the ones who mean it. Weeping over those of us who don't. 
 

"One more day and it's not the same
Your spirit calls my heart to sing
Drawn to the voice of my Savior once again
Where would my soul be without Your Son
Gave His life to save the earth
Rest in the thought that You're watching over me".
 
His Spirit, calling my heart. Drawn to His voice. This hits me. This hits me hard. When the instruments stop and the voices take over. 
 
"All I need is You
All I need is You Lord
Is You Lord".
 
Somehow I just know He's there. He's here. He is all I need. 
 
If I'm sick, He is Healer.
If I'm seeking answers, guidance or counsel, He is Shepherd, Guide, Counselor. 
He is the cord of three strands in my marriage, holding us together.
He is the giver of life. He opens wombs and plants seeds, fearfully and wonderfully made.
He fills quivers with children and grandchildren.  
He unties me when I'm bound. He releases my feet from the devil's snare. He pulls me out of pits.
 
HE SETS ME FREE!
 
He gives me gifts and talents to use for His Glory. 
He is my Provider and gives us the ability to produce wealth. 
He knows our every need before we ask, and He meets each need according to His riches.
Every good and perfect gift comes from Him.
 
"You hold the universe
You hold everyone on earth
You hold the universe
You hold
You hold".

He has the whole world in His hands.

He has my whole world in His hands.
 
For every need that I have, He is the answer. He lacks nothing to save, to deliver, to help.    

I can say with complete honesty, that He has been every. single. one. of those things to me. 

This makes me smile.
 
"All I need is You
All I need is You Lord
Is You Lord".
 
Today, in the sanctuary, I mean every last word. 
 
Tomorrow, when life is far from a sanctuary, when it looks more like a fox hole, when bills are due, when laundry piles, when people let me down, when I'm scared, when I'm paralyzed, when I'm confused....will I mean the words? 
 
Will I mean them then?
     
(Christian lyrics - ALL I NEED IS YOU LYRICS - HILLSONG UNITED" )
 
 
 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What Is Truth?

Early morning, in a palace, the Jews are outside because they fear uncleanness. Ironic, isn't it?

Pilate's words echo off the walls.

"What is truth?"

The governor has eyes, but doesn't see. He has ears, but doesn't hear.

He came to that which was His own but His own did not receive Him.

What is truth???!!! 

Truth stands before him wrapped in bone and skin and muscle and breath.

How many times do we ask ourselves that same question? Maybe never out loud. What is truth?

They say there is no absolute truth. They. Can anyone tell me who "they" are?

They have eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear. 



When grief threatens to kill the life left inside, when need is so overwhelming that it seems impossible to ever be met, when love dies, when hate wins, when minds go insane, and when it seems that hell is winning the war. 

When floods flood, when hurricanes blow, when cancer kills, when children live in pig pens, when we hate. When babies are murdered. When nature turns unnatural. When humans are sold. When faces have flies and bellies are large and hair turns orange. When water is brown.  

When "they" say it's wrong., When "they" say it's right. When "they" say we're wrong. When "they" call good evil and evil good. When we are accused, persecuted, shunned, mocked and despised.

They have eyes but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear.

And like Pilate, hands to our heads, we scream,

"What is TRUTH?"

Jesus said, "I am the truth."

Jesus said, "My word is truth."

Jesus said, "The Spirit will come and lead you into all truth."

Let him who has an ear hear what the Spirit is saying. 

Wrapped in Glory now, Truth waits to be seen by every eye. The earth will quake from knees dropping to the ground. Truth will be Lord. Truth will reign. This time, Truth will be recognized and received. 

Don't give up.

Don't give in.

There is such a thing as Absolute Truth.

His name is Jesus.


(Taken from John 1:11, 13, 14:6, 16:13, 17:17, 18:38, Rev. 3:22) 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

This Is Why He Waits

The sun. Like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, he comes out of his tent in the early morning. Adorned for his bride, he comes.

The birds begin their days work.

Dew glistens the ground. Mist came up from the earth and watered the ground.

Man. Formed from the dust of the ground.

I whisper. Words should not disturb the sacredness of this morning altar.

"Thank you for another day."

"Where is your God?", they say.

Seconds to minutes. Minutes to hours. Hours to days. Days to months. Months to years. Still, He does not come.

He waits. He tarries. For this.

"The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
(2 Peter 3: 9)

Somewhere in a jungle of forest or concrete. Somewhere in a mansion or a thatch roof shack.

Somewhere on a Walled Street. Somewhere in a food line.

Somewhere next door. Somewhere on the other side of the world.

Somewhere.

Today.

Someone will confess with their mouth. Someone will believe in their heart.

He waits. He tarries. For this.

For this one.

From afar off He sees. The dead come to life. The lost found.

Today may be the day.

For the one you have been praying for. 

The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth. 

The ninety-nine are left.

The angels rejoice.


The Son. Like a Bridegroom coming forth from His pavilion, He comes out of His tent in the early morning.

Adorned for His bride, He comes.

He looks down from the banister of Heaven.

He waits. He tarries. For this.

He wouldn't have missed this one for the world.

.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Not A Blog Post

This is not a blog post.

This is an I'm setting the timer for 10 minutes, and writing, because I'm so done that I can't even begin to write an organized anything.

Ready. Set. Go.

I was going to write a blog post for my weekly "Tuesdays with Jesus" about how we have three basic necessities in life. Food. Clothing. Shelter. The bare necessities. I even looked up the lyrics to the song from the movie, The Jungle Book.

I wanted to compare these to Jesus and our all-sufficiency in Him. 

Here are my notes:

Food: He is the Bread of Life. 

Clothing: He clothes us in garments of salvation and places a robe of righteousness over us.

Shelter: He is our Shelter, our Refuge, our Hiding Place, and our Safety.

But after cleaning up the house, balancing the checkbook, picking up a prescription, buying a few groceries and putting them away, climbing the Mt. Sinai known as the load of towels that have accumulated for ONLY 3 days, and putting them away, I am done. So done.

I won't quote the Scripture verses that go with my thoughts above. Maybe you can look them up. No Hebrew or Greek transliteration today. 

No thoughts deeper than the wondering if it's going to rain. 

Nothing more profound than how I love the way my backyard looks at this time of day.

Whispering thank yous for a roof and clean water, clothes, and the ability to buy groceries for my family.

Purposeful thanksgiving. 

PurposeFULL thanksgiving.

She was pushing a grocery cart down the busy street on my way home. All her belongings within. Folks say our neighborhood is going down the drain. Suburbia isn't so polished anymore. I think she's a reminder from God.

But for His grace.

If I lost everything, would He be enough? 

Would His bread fill me?

Would salvation and righteousness hang well on me?

Would the shadow of His wings be the shade that gives me respite from the heat of my difficulties?

I'd like to say yes. 

I'd like to believe I would. Believe I could.

STOP.



 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Today

Dear Lord ~~ Today I want to start anew. 

Dear Lord ~~ I promise you that today I will. 

Dear Lord ~~ Forgive me. Starting today, I will start again.

How many times have you said those words or some variation of them?

I think I may have started over today, more times than there are today's on the calendar.

I don't know ... We're convicted. We glance back at yesterday and clearly see where we went wrong. 

An angry word. Impatience with the kids. Gossip. A less than God-honoring post or conversation on Facebook.

We didn't take God seriously.

We weren't serious-enough of a Christian.

Today we want to start afresh.

We promise that starting today.

"Here I am again, Lord. I know I've said it before. But today I really mean it!"

Is this wrong? Is it pointless?

I reckon it is not.

I reckon it is just as Jesus would have it. Watch this...

God's mercies are new every morning ~~ Lamentations 3: 23

Indeed, the "right time" is now. Today is the day of salvation ~~ 2 Corinthians 6:2

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! ~~ Isaiah 43: 18-19

Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ~~ Matthew 6: 34

In between the past and tomorrow lies TODAY.

The past is called the past because it's passed.
Frankly tomorrow may never come.
We are left with today.

To live.
To laugh.
To love.
To do our best.
To open our eyes and have ears to hear.
To do all for His glory and the display of His splendor.
To follow.

Wherever He may lead.
Today.

I reckon that's all together Biblical.




.