Unconditional

quill

Not enough can be said about the the amazing things God accomplishes through our pain.  (Anyone not yet seen Pixar’s Inside Out??)  In light of that, here’s another beautiful offering of grace from Nico at Ancient Skies.  

UNCONDITIONAL

When our trauma has been washed, and we are in one piece again,

our blood shot eyes will begin to see the good

in each of us, and our shattering

will teach us the courage

to love

unconditionally.

       

Poetry and Image © Copyright 2016, ancient skies

Finding your fleece

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280One thing about Old Testament prophets, they knew how to cut to the chase.  No mincing of words, and few, if any, would get high marks in diplomacy.  It’s not that they didn’t understand politics, they just didn’t care.

How refreshing…

I particularly like this exchange between Isaiah and the current king of Judah, Ahaz—

 “…Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” (NLT)

Here’s how another version puts it:

“…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” (NIV)

Of course, if you want to few more thoughts on the passage:

“…If you will not believe [and trust in God and His message], be assured that you will not be established.” (AMP)

Flashback to the time before any Hebrew kings at all, the time when God provided judges to guide His people.  On more than one occasion, the judge, Gideon, needed a little confirmation from God—something about a fleece.  God also invited him to go tiptoeing into the enemy camp to overhear them talking about a dream indicating Israel’s victory in a pending battle.  God knew His man needed some encouragement.

So here God offers to help Ahaz’s faith also:

“Later, the LORD sent this message to King Ahaz: ‘Ask the LORD your God for a sign of confirmation, Ahaz. Make it as difficult as you want— as high as heaven or as deep as the place of the dead.’  But the king refused. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will not test the LORD like that.’  Then Isaiah said, ‘Listen well, you royal family of David! Isn’t it enough to exhaust human patience? Must you exhaust the patience of my God as well?’”

At first this seems pious on Ahaz’s part; even Jesus quotes the OT on this point when Satan tempts Him for a sign from God.  But Satan wasn’t in the same category as God’s prophet, Isaiah, and Ahaz didn’t exactly have the standing relationship with the Father that Jesus did. 

So what’s the point??

At the core, the Creator chooses to interact with His creation.  If faith in God is a necessary ingredient to standing firm in what He calls me to do, then God is more than willing to increase/confirm that faith by whatever means He chooses to bring me into the full destiny of His purpose.  Granted, I might not be in line for a sign, but neither am I expected to be the opus of decision-making.  In other words, we’re not on our own in this faith-walk thing, not by a long shot. 

“…focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity]…”

I guess I’m in pretty good company.

 

Isaiah 7:9, 10-13  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Isaiah 7:9 Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Isaiah 7:9; Hebrews 12:2  Amplified Bible (AMP)  Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

How shall I worship You today?

wood 2

How shall I worship You today?

            To bandage another skinned knee—

            Or listen to the story of the dead bird on the driveway…again?

How shall I worship You today?

            By having the emotional courage to change another diaper,

            Cook another meal, or fold another load of laundry?

How shall I worship You today?

             In holding the wrinkled hand with so little time left,

             Or by changing the tire on my neighbor’s car?

How shall I worship You today?

            By living and loving in the moment, instead of in the past—

            Or by patiently trusting You for the future?

Show me how You want me to worship You today.

 

 

Name that tune

clef-1414105_1920I’m not a true musician, but I dabble around in a few things.  I sort of remember a some notes and symbols from the treble cleft, thanks to my parents’ marvelous attempts to musically educate their young daughter.  So when it came time for our oldest child to enter 5th grade, I informed her that it wasn’t a matter of whether or not she would be in the band, but simply which instrument would she like to play.

In other words, at least some exposure to Continue reading “Name that tune”

In other words…

cane-1292876_1280

“‘But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!
    Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink.
But he was just and right in all his dealings.
    That is why God blessed him.

He gave justice and help to the poor and needy,
    and everything went well for him.
Isn’t that what it means to know me?”’
    says the Lord.”

Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Frail, but Strong

quill

For this week’s installment of Not My Poetry, here’s a beautiful one from Peaceful Journey, a thought well worth contemplating at this time in our history.  Thank you, Yvonne, for the encouragement!

Frail, but Strong

Frailmother

She stood frail while others listened attentively.

Her wisdom was beyond her physical weakness.

Many sought her to understand the world’s mysteries.

Many sought her to tap into the cistern of her spirituality.

Her frailty was only a noticeably weakness to herself.

It was certainly not an outward sign of weakness in her moral character.

She lived a life dedicated to those impoverished.

She knew the secret,

love for all mankind make you rich.

Yes, she was frail, but strong

mother-teresa-quotes-111

alove1`Yvonne L

Lessons from Snow

Hey, Dan! That’s a GREAT analogy!! (But can you send some of that white stuff my way? It’s supposed to be up in the 70’s this weekend and I think winter skipped us…) Super read this one!!

Learning To Be Full Of Grace And Truth.

You know you live in New England when its a freakish snow and ice storm on Tuesday, close to 60 and sunny on Wednesday, and 23 and a Northeaster dropping a foot of snow today. That’s life in New England. It takes commitment to live here… or resignation. Commitment if you are going to be happy.

Life, I have been learning, is very much like New England weather: as in it is rather unpredictable. That doesn’t change when you become a Christian. Heck, in some ways life becomes even more unpredictable!

I have been learning that while God doesn’t change, He is unpredictable… or maybe it is more theologically pc to say He appears to be unpredictable. He wasn’t kidding when he said to Isaiah,

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so…

View original post 176 more words

Not to be out-skunked.

wood 2

Bob and I were enjoying a nice, quiet summer night walk through the neighbor one evening.  Our older street doesn’t have the best lighting so naturally it was dark as we picked our way along some of the crumbing sidewalks.  Suddenly I stopped when I say something moving slowly in the grass as we passed, and thinking it was a wounded animal or bird, we looked at it a little more intently.  As our pupils dilated to let in more light, the image that pounded through the retina and hit the brain was something black with a white stripe down its back.

The brain then gave definite directions.

Unfortunately, we didn’t move quite fast enough, and even more so, we both shouted out in fear

“SKUNK!”

“RUN!”

The brain did not fail us.  It gave us the correct information; we were just not prepared to know what to do with that information.

Unlike this guy.  You gotta admire him on some level:

I’m challenged by this attitude.  I’m sorry to admit that I tend to be more on the panic side (as the fragrance on my shoes could attest!) rather than the calm stoic side; that is, learning the (life) discipline of standing firm, being very still, until the threat passes. And I definitely see that here:

“Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whom You discipline and instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him power to keep himself calm in the days of adversity, until the [inevitable] pit of corruption is dug for the wicked.”

I’m long on information.  I need more than information; I need wisdom, and the power to put that wisdom into practice.  It’s so easy for me to panic about so many things—family, health, finances, world situations, _________.  The problem is that when I panic, I tend to do stupid pretty well, which can get quite stinky not only for me, but for those around me.  The atmosphere is not conducive to others wanting to be around me.  (Especially when I track it into my house, if I can extend the metaphor a bit!)

The psalmist here gives me hope, that the discipline God places on me grants me firm footing when (not if) difficult and scary situations arise, since “the valley of the shadow” is not something we are told to circumvent, but to go through…

…albeit not alone.

Psalm 94:12,13  Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)  Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation

In other words…

stone-1561036_1920

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.  To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.  To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.  To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

1 Corinthians 9:19-22  Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.