Sunday, December 23, 2007
Hmmm.... seems like the last time I posted was.... almost 6 weeks ago. And, it's not because I didn't want to, but it's been a very busy season around here.
About this time last year, I had a posting about a message I had heard, based upon a book I had read (and re-read), by Jack Hayford (The Mary Miracle*). I heard the broadcast again this morning. And I thought back to 'where' I was last year and I truly marvel at how God's Divine Design has played out in my life over the past year.
Hayford recounted that several years ago, he was very 'busy' and it came to Christmas Eve, and he didn't have his sermon prepared for the church service. He says he was praying and asked God for a 'word', and God spoke to him saying... "Tell them I wish them a Mary Christmas", ... and the sermon, and subsequent short book, was birthed.
I can't adequately capture the essence of Hayford's message, but it is certainly one of encouragement, hope and joy. In Luke 1:37, the angel tells Mary,... "For nothing is impossible with God." Hayford says that the implication is that no word of God is absent of the power to bring it to pass. He emphasizes that what God did for, in, and through Mary, He will do for, in and through you and me.
It's significant that the miracle isn't only about a virgin conceiving a child. It's about God Himself entering into the midst of our situation, to bring whatever salvation we need to us. Right here, right now. Like a pregnancy, His plan may take a while to grow and develop. For a while, you don't see any 'evidence' of the miracle, and as time passes, you get stretched to the limit. The process of giving birth is hard work, and often intense, seeming to 'take forever'. Yet, God rhetorically says, " Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?" (Isaiah 66:9). He will 'deliver the goods', again.
So, as I extend my most sincere wishes for a blessed and happy Christmas season, this year I once again wish you a Mary Christmas.
*The book is published under two titles: The Mary Miracle and The Christmas Miracle.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Saturday, November 3, 2007
I'm still thinking about weddings, and still pondering that one so long ago at Cana, at which Jesus and his friends were guests. This is the first of many stories that suggest Jesus was welcome in the midst of people having a fun time. I'll bet he loved weddings!!
However, the 'good time' at this particular wedding was in jeopardy. They ran out of wine. I've read that wine was a rabbinical symbol of joy, and also scripturally symbolic of the influence of the Holy Spirit. So, they weren't just concerned with washing down that dry cake with something. Joy was gone. Spiritual life had taken a hit. So, it is particularly significant that Jesus was the One to fix it.
John 2:6-8 says, Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.
Jesus took the clay jars full of water (us), and transformed them into vessels of joy. In the midst of the wedding celebration, He symbolically gave new life, better life, filled with His Spirit. The old ceremonial washing water was somehow transposed into good wine. The old way of doing things, the old covenant, was made into a new covenant. This event marked the onset of His public ministry, of the path set for our Salvation, and the ultimate Wedding Supper written about in Revelation 19:9.
The wedding master of ceremony tasted the new wine, and he proclaimed... you've kept the good wine until now! God's timing often escapes our understanding. But it's always worth the wait.
John also says that his pals saw this, and they believed. If they were wondering what was so special about this guy, they now had some inside information. It's my guess that the symbolism may have been evident to them as well. God does something great in our lives, and our faith, and joy, is renewed.
Friday, November 2, 2007
One of my favorites is in the Gospel of John (2:1-11), the wedding feast at Cana. This is reported to be the first public miracle Jesus performed. John says that it occurred 'on the third day', giving it an almost unspoken spiritual significance. We're told right off the bat the wine was gone, which was a serious social disgrace in a society known to value hospitality.
But somewhere between their obedience, and the taste test, something suddenly happened. Jesus miraculously turned the wash water into good wine. I've heard it said, "Obey God, and leave the consequences to Him." I've been telling myself that a lot lately as I pondered this passage. Mary surely knew Jesus could do something... He even said to her, "... you know my time has not yet come...". Yet, regardless of what she knew, she trusted that He was compassionate, generous, and willing and able to help.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
When God created everything there is, He said it was good. In Hebrew, the word used is towb,and means pleasant, valuable in estimation, and happy. It also stands for excellent, better, and best. While we seemingly have the need to qualify 'good' by degrees -- good, better, best -- God's word for 'good' included them all. Jesus said, "No one is good -- but God alone." That makes being good a pretty high calling, and wishing someone good, a great blessing. In fact, the original Old English word for 'good' was 'god' (lower case g).
So, I am more thoughtful now of what I call good. Telling someone to 'have a good day' takes on greater implications. The term good-looking is even a greater complement; a good-natured person is someone I really want to hang around; good-to-go is a confidence builder.
But, I got tripped up on this one... good-bye. I don't like good-byes. They mostly make me cry and usually don't leave me feeling very, ... good. Except that I've learned the word's origin comes from the Old English phrase, "God be with ye", which eventually became... good-bye. It helps a little.
Monday, October 15, 2007
For example, the first time I was invited to lead a small group at our church, I actually prayed that no one would come, so I'd be 'off the hook'. But some came, and we joined in a lasting and fulfilling relationship for many years to follow. Long story short, I'm glad I did it for many reasons.
So, when I was reading in my Bible this morning, and a parable I've read many times hit me in a 'new' way, I got to thinking... uh, oh. Now what?? The story I read was in the Gospel of Matthew, 25:14-30. Nestled between the parables of the Ten Virgins (some of whom weren't ready) and the Sheep and Goats (some of whom weren't willing), is the account of the man who takes a journey and entrusts his property to some of his servants (all of whom were able).
The guy gives 5 talents (about $10,000) to one servant, 2 talents ($4,000) to another and 1 talent ($2,000) to a third, according to their ability. This means it wasn't a flippant distribution; the man knew something about his servants'... talents... and he gave them what would challenge them, but not overwhelm them. Then, he left them for a long time.
The first 2 fellas took what they were given, and used it. In fact, the effectiveness of the resources doubled when combined with their ability. And even though the first guy had a bigger ROI, the master praised both of them equally and identically, invited them to celebrate with him, rewarded them, and... gave them more to do.
The third guy, who claimed to be afraid of losing the investment, played it safe and buried it. He apparently didn't trust his master's assessment of his ability. His boss berated his reluctance to take a risk. He called him wicked, and lazy. Then he took away what he had given him, and had him thrown off his property, into the darkness where there will be weeping and 'gnashing of teeth'. In New Testament times, the idiom 'gnashing of teeth' signified disappointment and agony of spirit. Kind of what you feel when you realize you missed your chance, and there's no going back.
I know this parable speaks of many things, but to me, today, it was a call to be ready, and willing to take a risk, as I am able. Though I'm tempted at times to dig a hole and crawl in it, thinking I'll be comfortable, or safe, I realize that's being lazy. It's actually wicked to not use what He's given me, and to not trust that He knows what He's up to.
I think Gumby is a bit goofy looking. But, he's always smiling.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
I hate that I even have to.
But sometimes we do hard things, even when we don't want to.
Some of my previous postings have mentioned our dog, Maggie. I've told some funny stories about her, and how she was impacting my daily routine and life. So, it only seems appropriate, now, to tell that this past week, Maggie died. And I've been very sad, and I miss her much. I confess that I never imagined that losing a dog would impact me the way it has, or that after 5 days, I'd still be tearful about it.
Maggie was 14 years old, ...I'm told that's an equivalent to 98 human years for a dog. And, she was struggling getting around, and needed our help to even get up. At least she struggles no more.
Earlier this year our pastor answered a child's question about pets going to heaven. It made me feel a little better. Can you guess what my prayer is?
Monday, September 24, 2007
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Thursday, August 9, 2007
This CNN article is about a new planet, just 'discovered' in a solar system far, far away. It always makes me... chortle... when 'objective' articles make it sound like mankind should take some kind of credit for the discovery, and minimize the magnitude and plan of creation. It kind of has the sense that, if we don't know it's there, then it isn't. Here's a quote from one authority on the sighting: "It's just letting us know that nature has some surprises for us ... a much wider range of possibility than we could imagine." Astronomer, Alan Boss
While it's daunting to even try to imagine the realm of 'outer space', I take comfort that it's way beyond my ability to grasp. Because I know The Creator, and the heavens are just another bullet point on His résumé. It just reinforces to me the value of faith over sight.
Here's a quote from another authority: "Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you." Jeremiah (32:17)
Friday, July 27, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Hawks are 'raptors', bird of prey, ...with powerful wings, sharp beaks, and powerful deadly talons. They can spot their prey from a lofty perch, or often catch it while flying. With a wingspan of 4 to 4.5 feet, and a body of almost 2 feet in length, the average Red-Tailed Hawk is a tusker compared to the crow. I wondered why the hawk, turned-tail and fled, rather than just fight them off.
The Bible says, "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7). The Word of God is a tool to that end. Often, specific scripture verses have become my weapon for chasing away the crows and holding the territory God gives me*.
Hawks are a protected species. Crow are pests. And in most states, there's no bag limit on how many crows hunters may kill. I am protected by God Almighty; there's no limit to the power He wields on my behalf.
Rachel is a member of the Ohio University women's basketball team, and has received numerous accolades and awards for her athletic ability. She took that talent, along with her faith in Christ, to kids in Brazil, where she was part of a team that played some exhibition games, and ran basketball camps for younger athletes.
She's featured in an article online at Ohiobobcats.com .
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Unconventional, yes. Silly, maybe. Certainly dangerous,... but nobody got hurt except for a few rope burns. And while it may seem that this guy doesn't aim very high in his 'dreams', at least he lived his (twice, actually).
Last weekend, Kent Couch ... kissed his wife goodbye, petted his Chihuahua, "settled down in his lawn chair with some snacks..." and then flew 193 miles, aloft for 9 hours until he decided to land just outside of Hells Canyon in Oregon! He concocted a 'flying machine' using 105 helium balloons, some plastic bags filled with water (for ballast) and a GPS in his pocket. He said, "When you're a little kid and you're holding a helium balloon, it has to cross your mind." It crossed mine, a few times, I must admit.
The part of the story that made me smile, though, had to do with a previous 'flight' of another balloon-man, who rose 3 miles above Los Angeles in 1982. A surprised airline pilot radioed the control tower that he had "just passed a guy in a lawn chair." Imagine being in a window seat on that plane :)
Thursday, July 5, 2007
The colonists brought honeybees, too. The fussy 'American' bees would only pollinate a few species of plants, but European honeybees, it seems, would pollinate anything. While the colonists brought the bees for their honey, the plants they brought with them wouldn't have proliferated without them, and Georgia probably wouldn't be called the Peach State.
Funny how little things can worm their way in unnoticed, but given a chance to grow, can change a whole landscape.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
The problem started, so they say, with some storms we had last week which damaged phone lines, etc. We have DSL service which is through the phone line. After several hours , outwardly it seemed to be fixed... flashing lights stopped flashing, and unlit lights lit up. But, we still had no connectivity.
After having spent an hour on the phone with Tech support, resetting settings and rebooting and rebooting, it still wasn't resolved. So, my account was flagged as 'trouble'. That word must have great significance in cyber-repair, because I started getting phone calls from 'field technicians' who were replacing equipment on my behalf. And then, suddenly, the 'trouble' was corrected and it was working again. When the 'issues' were resolved, I had lots of catching up to do. Still doin' it.
Final thoughts from a commentary on Life Before The Computer... remember when memory was something that you lost with age, a program was a TV show, a cursor used profanity, a web was a spider's home, a virus was the flu, a hard drive was a long road trip, and a mouse pad was where a mouse lived :-)
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
We fervently prayed and prayed that she would be healed, but day after day and night after night she was beseiged with frequent, horrific coughing episodes. I vividly remember asking God, "Where are you? Do something!" I vividly remember His response to me... "I'm right here. And I Am doing something. You just can't see it." As I thought about that, I acknowledged that while I wanted her to be all better right then, she was progressively getting better, week by week. And she didn't die from the disease, which could have happened. I could even picture in my mind's eye, Jesus holding Samantha and gently pushing on her chest as she was gasping for breath.
My attitude changed from disheartened to thankful. My prayers changed from pleas to praise as I recognized I had much to thank Him for.
I was reading a devotional guide this morning which Samantha had reommended to me. The book is Praying the Names of Jesus by Ann Spangler, and today's message was centered in Luke 24:30-32. It's the account of two men who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus, after He had risen from the dead. They were telling Him the disheartening tale... of His death... and didn't realize that He was right there with them. They felt abandoned and bewildered, until they recognized the "Bread of Life" in the breaking of the bread. They had an attitude change, too.
Ann Spangler says,
"We long for tangible evidence of God's love, but we fail to see it, in part because we have not learned to be thankful. It's not just that God likes to be thanked. It's that we need to thank him... Thankfulness opens our eyes to God's faithfulness, which in turn nourishes our faith. No wonder the word "Eucharist," a common name for the Christian commemoration of the Last Supper, comes from a Greek word meaning "thanksgiving". Skipping gratitude is like skipping the meal God has prepared for us. Without it, we merely move on to the next need, felling hungry and empty without the faith to believe that God will sustain us."When I'm full of gratitude, I see things so differently. It's a pleasant state of mind.
I used to have a little decorative plaque that sat on my desk. It said, "If we pause to think, we'll have cause to thank." Wonder where I put that?
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Antiques are valuable for different reasons. Some are worth money. Some are worth memories.
I redeemed a mirror from the dark corner of my grandma's garage several years ago. It was earmarked to be thrown out because she hadn't used it in years and had replaced it with a new one. However, it was part of the first furniture she had when she was married as a young girl of 17, and it became special to me because of what it had 'been'. It connected me somehow to her, though she had been dead for several years. It now hangs in our foyer, and tho' not pretty to look at, it is a treasure to me.
Antiques are not valuable because they are old, they are valuable because of what they've been through. Furniture that has been 'beaten up' can have scars of character. It's lasted, endured, and remained. There's a testimony that is hidden beneath the marks... a story worth remembering.
Most of us have scars... physical reminders of a wound. We may look at our scars and remember what caused them (usually some sort of pain); but we can also look at our scars and remember that they are wounds that are healed, pain that has been covered over. Some scars are unseen, written on our soul. My scars remind me of specific moments that God intervened in my pain, brought me through a hard situation, comforted me, taught me, and gave me character.
I believe that scars make us valuable. We've all 'gone through' things, perhaps even spent moments feeling abandoned in the dark corners of the garage, perhaps been beaten up with a garden claw... wondering how God was going to redeem the pain. When He does, He leaves us with a reminder that healing, restoration and redemption are part of His nature and His gift to us. HE has them, too.
I saw a desk once, in Williamsburg, VA, that was 'valuable' because George Washington had written upon it. How much more valuable are you and I when God has written upon us, given us a testimony, and left His mark on us?
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Thursday, June 14, 2007
A while ago, I was reading Mark 6:52. He is referring to Jesus' close friends, who had been with Him for a while and had already witnessed so many extraordinary things that He had done. Mark says, "They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened." The "loaves" referred to an event earlier that day, when He fed 5,000+ people with five loaves and two fish. And, I thought, ... how could these guys not understand? Are they dense, or what?? Then a still, small voice in my head said... "YOU do not understand." See, I had just been praying about some things and I was whining... I was doubting that He would intevene in my situations, I was forgetting about the extraordinary things He'd done so many times before in my life... my loaves. I needed to remind myself of them, and remind myself that what he did before, He'd do again. I needed to praise Him. My heart was hardened by discouragement, and my understanding was flawed.
I mention this now, because I found myself in a similar snit this morning. I was fretting over some things which I've fervently taken to prayer, which have not yet been resolved. And that still, small voice reminded me He's the same yesterday, today and forever. He's not a man, that He should lie, and I can trust Him.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Butterfly House, part of the Botanical Gardens, is a conservatory with literally thousands of butterflies fluttering about. I was fascinated; Samantha was terrified! It was reminiscent of the Hitchcock movie, The Birds, but instead of aggressive birds pecking your eyes out, a myriad of delicate, colorful, gentle butterflies permeate the air and land on your head. There are flowering plants and trees everywhere, and closer inspection reveals that half of the 'flowers' are actually resting butterflies! What a great way to hide from your enemies, ...act like a flower! Or disguise yourself as a scary monster (or a cabbage patch doll).
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I’m writing this entry from US Airways Express flight 3507, en route to St. Louis, MO to visit Samantha for her 21st birthday! I won’t be able to post it till I get home, and can access the Internet, but felt like sharing the perspective from ‘up here’. I always look for my childhood home and familiar landmarks, to get my bearings, as I fly over the area in and out of GPIA.
Thursday, June 7, 2007
Saturday, June 2, 2007
I spent some time talking with a friend today who is going through some difficult days. She told me that in the midst of her situation, she's learning more of God as she experiences Him in an area she hadn't walked before, and it's like knowing Him by a new name.
In the Bible, there are many 'names' of God. Some of the names, He called Himself identifying what He wants to be to us (ex: God Almighty in Gen. 17:1). And some of the names identify what He's done, often expressions of how He's met someone in a significant way at a specific time and place.
One that comes to mind is recounted in Genesis 16:13. El-Roeh, the One Who Sees, is a name attributed to God by Hagar, Sarai's slave. She had run away from Sarai, who was making her life somewhat difficult, and she was alone in the desert when God spoke to her. His attention to her gave her the impetus to trust Him enough to obey Him. Hagar's name for God declared gratitude and confidence in a god who saw her, and her plight.
I was reading the book of Ezra in my Bible this morning... Chapter 5 describes some of the opposition the Israelites met when they were trying to rebuild their temple. Near Eastern kings were noted for using spys... men referred to as the "king's eyes" and the "king's ears", and the guys who were making things difficult for the Israelites likely served those roles. However, verse 5 says, "But the eye of their God was watching over...the Jews, and they weren't stopped...", drawing a contrast between the limitations of the earthly kings who depended on men's eyes and ears, and the omniscience of the Heavenly King, who always sees and watches over His people.
My friend told me that she can't see how her situation will be resolved, but she has confidence that the One Who Sees, sees her. Her relationship with God takes on a new dimension, as she knows Him by a new name.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
It would seem that my previous posting about 'blossoming' was more appropriate than I'd imagined. Her camp assignment for the summer is in Florissant, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis). "Florissant" was originally named by French settlers as "Fleurissant" which means, blossoming flowers! One of the town's original nicknames was Valley of Flowers. Florissant also means 'flourishing' in French, so here's hoping it's even prophetic!!
And speaking of flourishing... my computer's working much better with my new hard drive, and I'm loving my new iPod Nano... both gifts from my darling daughters/sil for Mother's Day!!
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I often need to remind myself to put things into proper perspective, and I find that my current mindset taints my perceptions. For example, when you look at this drawing, do you see an old hag with a big nose, or a lovely young woman?
'Additonal information' could help with your perspective.
If you see this picture first, you will likely see in the lovely young woman.
However, if you see this one first, your perception will be very different.
I noted this issue of perspective when reading the books of 1 & 2 Chronicles, which cover the same material as previously written in 1 & 2 Kings, but with a different spin. Chronicles was written (likely 425-400 B.C.) to provide encouragement and also exhortation to the remnant who had returned to rebuild Jerusalem, after having lived as captives in another land. They needed to be exhorted not to repeat the mistakes of the past, they needed to be reminded of their heritage and their covenant with God, and they needed encouragement to stimulate their faith and hope for their future.
Some 'addtional information' is thrown in, often seeming obsure, but by digging a little deeper, we learn that it is an intentional means of providing perspective. A prime example is the mention of Jabez, which seems to be an aside, but you could actually write a book on him ;-)
So that's why I did a little digging after reading 1 Chronicles 7:21-24. The first 9 chapters of 1 Chronicles are somewhat boring geneologies which trace the exiles's heritage. Then this passage throws in some of that 'additional information'. Ephraim (one of Joseph's sons) had lost sons in a skirmish with some Philistines. He mourned deeply for his dead sons. Then God gave him another son, whom he named Beriah (misfortune), because while he was happy for the new son, he still grieved his loss. Beriah's birth is symbolic of God's restoration, another chance at a new start after hard times.
Verse 24 says, "He had a daughter named Sheerah. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-horon and Uzzen-sheerah." It's rare that a woman is mentioned in Jewish geneologies, so this bit of information stands out as being important. Sheerah, one of Ephraim's descendants, built cities! And, her name means remnant. So the remnant returning was being encouraged with the perspective that their heritage included city-builders, women of honor... and they too, were to rebuild, and not give up. What's more they had God's promise that He would restore them, and give them a new beginning.
Jabez, make room on the book shelves for Sheerah.
One of the computer issues involved having to replace our printer and it seemed to make sense to get one that could be networked via our wireless router. The router is connected to the Internet, and enables other computers in the network to share the connection. The wireless router can also receive input from networked computers, allowing them to share the printer. If the connections are correct, and the hardware and software are functioning properly, it can be a beautiful thing.
We attended a retreat this past weekend, and one of the speakers, Johannes Amritzer, gave a teaching on the ministry of healing, which I found to be profound, and yet simple. He referenced the scripture verses Matthew 10: 7,8, "As you go, preach this message: 'The kingdom of heaven is near.' Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give." He challenged us, as followers of Christ, to give to others what we have from Him, to pass it on. He said that our function is not to "heal", but to announce that it's already been done ... by Jesus on the Cross (Isaiah 53:5). Faith releases the supernatural and changes the atmosphere. Johannes commented that if we carry His anointing, we will be a "lead wire" to God, a conduit meant to share the connection.
Kind of like a wireless router.
Monday, May 7, 2007
It's been a special year for Samantha and we've watched her 'bloom', as she's had opportunity to use talents we always knew she had, and to discover others, stepping out of her comfort zone into the adventure zone! She's grown into a beautiful and charming young woman of exemplary character and integrity, with a compassion for people, and a passion for the things of God.
AND... to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, we had lunch at Compadres Mexican restaurant. It was a wonderful and fun day, spent with some of my favorite people! Olé!
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
God said to Job and his pals (38: 31-33), “Can you direct the movement of the stars, binding the cluster of the Pleiades or loosening the cords of Orion? Can you direct the sequence of the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens? Do you know the laws of the universe? Can you use them to regulate the earth?"
I don't think He was bragging, just trying to lend some perspective.
I read the shocking headline today on Pittsburgh.com.... Miners Find Real-Life Kryptonite. At first, I thought, uh ohhh. And then, I remembered that 'kryptonite' is make-believe.
So, I read the article, and found out that some miners in Serbia found a mineral they sent to the British Museum, and it is white, powdery and not radioactive, unlike the glowing green crystals which rob Supeman of his powers.
Whew! Just in case, tho', I'm steering clear of Serbia.
It's been a long day.