In other words…

chain-297842_1280

“We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments.”

[This puts a different spin on loving the church: I love God’s people by obeying Him, which brings up the idea that the BEST thing I can do to love others is to draw closer to the Lord myself.  So, what does that say about my love for the church when I neglect my time with God and His Word?]

1 John 5:2 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.

Not the life of the party

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Jeremiah was probably not invited to many parties, but his demeanor had more to do with reality than a serotonin imbalance…much more.  God’s people had been repeatedly warned about their idolatrous and otherwise unfaithful choices.  Even as segments of their society were intermittently carried off—warning shots across the bow, if you will—they still hardened their hearts to stubbornly go against what God wanted them to do, and this after God had so Continue reading “Not the life of the party”

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

Forever? Really?

IMG_20150103_172451138Were you even one of those fortunate few who had to suffer through the school-age disciplinary action—because that sounds better than the word “punishment”—of writing “I will listen to the teacher” one hundred times?  (I never had that one, but I did have after school detention one time in high school for being late to class three times.  Thanks, mom, for not even wondering why I had to stay after school—bless your heart!)

I suppose the impact of such a literary consequence has something to do with the monotony of the assignment, which to me would be punishment enough, (low boredom threshold, this one), but we’re told there is also something interestingly significant about the neural connection between the hand and the head.  Evidently, when we write something, it tends to stick in our grey matter more efficiently, and can cause behavioral changes accordingly, (or perhaps in my case, to avoid the tedium of a repeat assignment…)

Monotony notwithstanding, I’m intrigued by the writer of this particular psalm.  Going through a history lesson of God working for Israel, twenty-six times he drives home this point:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

It reminds me of a story about a minister who preached the same sermon three or four times in a row.  After about the third time, his parishioners began asking him when he was going to change his sermon and move on, to which the response was, “When the congregation starts doing what I said.”

Brilliant.

So I’m thinking God Almighty was more concerned about getting this particular message across than He was about creative style, in that surely, confidently, and without fail in all circumstances,

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

In the midst of my confusion and my disappointment and my pain:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the loved one turns away:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the company closes it doors, and the retirement check stops coming:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the uniformed army officer arrives unexpectedly at your front door:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

When the lab results are not good:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

I’m sure we could all come up with our own list of twenty-six, but what is more important is going back through our own history with God, like this psalmist did, and recount when we actually experienced His faithfulness.  I know I benefit from those “oh yeah!” moments that I tend to relegate to the cranial archives.

scribbling-152216_1280Maybe I should start writing them out again, one at a time, each followed by, you guessed it:

“…His faithful love endures forever.”

Psalm 136  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.

Consecrated Time

quill

This poem by Cindy Powell really resonated with me.  One thing I’m looking to in Heaven is “no time”, i.e., no clocks or watches because “who cares?”  But for now, I have to care, and sometimes that caring lapses over into, well…we all know.  Thanks, Cindy, for such a great thought here!

Consecrated Time

Time
What an extravagant and lavish gift
Time to simply be
Without an agenda
Without any obligation to make “good” use
of the time and space I find myself in
Without anything to prove
Without a need to accomplish anything
Or discover anything –
Other than what always is
And that is simply You –
You here with me
In time

I don’t have to get it                                                                                                                                   I don’t have to steward it particularly well
I don’t even have to respond in a particular way
I just need to be
I just need to be me –
Here with You
Whatever that looks like
Whatever it feels like
Whatever does or does not happen
There are no necessary results
There is no grand master scheme to consider
There is only now
And this gift of time
This gift of a moment in time

But, really –
Is it a moment in time
or a moment outside of time?
Could it be a moment of eternal purity and truth
breaking through the illusion of time?
In all the busyness of this chaotic planet
Perhaps the most extreme and extravagant thing to do
Is to be
In utter simplicity
In complete freedom
Freedom from striving
Freedom from obligation
To anyone or anything

It’s almost too absurd to comprehend
But maybe “being” is the ultimate act of consecration
Maybe it is the ultimate act of letting go
Maybe it is a complete stripping away
Of all that binds
And blinds
And of all that distracts
With delusions of our own self-importance
Maybe it is knowing
Absolutely knowing
That even in the absolute absence of my good works
And best efforts
He is still pleased
He is still present
He is still who He says He is
He will still do what He says He will do
And He is still here
With me
In time.

Can’t see around the bend?

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280Here’s a good quote, and have you ever felt like this??

 “Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD himself has raised his fist against me.”

Not His hand, mind you; His fist.  It’s one thing to be stopped in your tracks by an upraised hand, or even slapped by an open one; it’s another to be socked in the jaw with someone’s fist!  Granted, this poor woman was not only in the throes of grieving a deep personal loss, but her situation had some pretty unfavorable economic implications as well, such as, how are we going to eat?  Here’s why I LOVE this statement—because the person who said it was SO TOTALLY WRONG!  In fact, though she couldn’t see it, she was about to become a very important cog in the Continue reading “Can’t see around the bend?”

Live God’s Plan

quillThe following is shared with the family’s permission.  Who among us has not been somehow touched by chronic or terminal illness?  This poem by Brad Vermass was found on the his laptop by his family. Be blessed, be inspired, and be encouraged.  

Live God’s Plan 

Every morning I awoke with more stiffness and headaches.
I asked God to take away my pain.
God said no.
It is not for me to take away,
But for you to give up.
January 2004 I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.
I asked God to remove my disease and make me whole.
God said no.
Your spirit IS whole,
Your body is only temporary.
Life was so short now. Days passed so quickly and I become angry at little things.
I asked God to grant me patience.
God said no.
Patience is a byproduct of tribulations,
It isn’t granted, it is earned.
All I wanted was a nice home for retirement and to provide for my family so their lives are less troubled.
I asked God to give me happiness.
God said no.
I give you blessings,
Happiness is up to you.
March 2014 I was diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer. I hurt physically and emotionally.
I asked God to spare me suffering.
God said no.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares,
And brings you closer to me.
I stared at the cross and wondered why you would die for me? I am nothing.
I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said no.
You must grow on your own,
But I will prune you to make you fruitful.
How nice it would have been to make a 7 figure salary every year. No worries about bills or providing for my family.
I asked God for all things, that I might enjoy life.
God said no.
I give you life,
So that you may enjoy all things.
I reached out to surround myself with people who have learned to live life standing strong and happy no matter what came.
I asked God to help me LOVE others,
As much as he loves me.
God said, “FINALLY! you have the idea.”
And I learned: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

At last, I asked God to take me home…. and God said “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive”To all my family and friends: I wait at heaven’s gate for you, but do not rush your time on earth.

Live God’s plan for you.

Never take a step alone, ask Him to walk with you always.-

I may be gone for now, but we will meet again one day…..

I love you all.

A, B, C, or all of the above.

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280I’ve had a history of being a black/white, good/bad, either/or kind of person.  Give me a true/false or multiple choice test, and I’m okay.  But asking me to pull an answer out of my gray matter without any prompts is a bit more of a challenge. 

Life, however, tends not to extend itself to us in either/or definitions.  And humans, being the limited thinkers we are, tend not to appreciate that.  Dare that we would think there may be options of which we are unaware!!

Here’s just one example: either (A) God is not all-powerful to end the world’s suffering, or (B) He is not all-loving as He says He is.

Joshua, of Jericho fame, ran into that intellectual wall (pardon the pun).

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”

“ Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.”

Now, here was something Joshua hadn’t even considered, and I can only imagine it gave him pause (if not a heart attack, as I hear angels can be pretty scary…)

The point is not to try answering all the questions, because when one is attended to, invariably another will surface.  Satan has many of them; he’s been at this for years.  Not that God doesn’t invite our questions and concerns, but there comes a point in every disciple’s life when the unanswered questions must give way to a trusting relationship with the God whom we can “know sufficiently but not exhaustively.” 

In other words, God is not defined by our multiple choice answers.  He defines Himself to us.

Joshua 5:1, 14  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.

Efficient planting, or not.

garden last

My son-in-law steered me to a more user-friendly way of gardening know as Square Foot Gardening—a precise way of designing, planting and growing crops that makes the most efficient use of space as well as seed.  In fact, we’re instructed to plant only a few seeds into each particular hole in each particular one-square-foot plot mapped out in the dirt.  This helps eliminate the need for pulling up tender shoots when there’s too much crowding for optimal growth (what a waste!), as well as to prevent wasting the seed.

It all sounds quite logical.  So, naturally, I bought the book, and I’m waiting to put it to use. 

That was several years ago.

Evidently, they didn’t use that method back in Jesus’ day either, to hear Continue reading “Efficient planting, or not.”

Phyllis Diller, my heroine

 

I tend a bit to the Phyllis Diller end of the housework continuum:

phyllis-diller-housework

I like a clean and orderly home, naturally, but it needs to reach a critical mass before I’m overly motivated.  If I don’t dust the furniture, it will only gather more dust and so much the better in which to write Bob a love note.  On the other hand, if I’m not out in my garden watering and such, my green babies might DIE! 

Now really, which is more important??

So it’s pretty amazing what Continue reading “Phyllis Diller, my heroine”