Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I'm in my way!

With the New Year upon us it's tradition to make resolutions about what we might do differently. Of course, as Christians we know that each and every moment is an opportunity to start fresh. We don't need to wait for a set time or place; we don't need to take our turn in the confessional. Jesus alone is our advocate and He is always making intercession for us. I am so grateful for this because I need to start fresh several times a day!

Nevertheless, I've been inspired to take a little look-see at how I might improve in the coming year. So, after much consideration I've narrowed my task down from a gazillion or more options to just one issue.

1. To forget about myself.

Honestly, I am so tired of always being in the way! If I wasn't always my first consideration then it wouldn't be my propensity to complain, to be offended, to resent, to worry, to covet, to judge, to make exception, to, to, to... and the list goes on. Yuk!

I know I can't accomplish any measure of this with mere determination. I've tried. I have to quit looking at my cross and actually take it up. I have to put myself away and love Him.

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Luke 9:23

As I type this, I can almost see my "self" out of the corner of my eye getting red in the face, getting ready to pitch a fit! I've really got my work cut out for me. I've also got the promises of God.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13

Will I fall? Yes, many times. Will I fail? No I won't. Not because of me though!

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. John 10:27-28

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Gal. 2:20.



May God bless you abundantly in the coming year.



Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Birth of Jesus

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"

So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. Luke 2:1-20

~~~

A few prophetic scriptures:

Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Isa. 7:14

"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." Mic. 5:2

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isa. 9:6-7


Merry Christmas everyone!



Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiness

But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY." 1 Peter 1:15,16

I don't know about you but that sounds very intimidating to me. How in the world am I suppose to be holy? Human holiness. Isn't that an oxymoron?

When I think of being holy, my mind first goes to appearance. You know, the flowing robes, crowns and jeweled breastplates. Oh, and anyone who is holy must have a halo, beautiful feet and tons and tons of wisdom.

Somehow, I don't think my impression of human holiness is very accurate. So what does it mean?

I went to my Strong's to investigate. In the noted verses the word "holy" means: sacred, saint, properly clean, innocent, modest, perfect, chaste, clean and pure.

Still sounds pretty unattainable to me!

I moved on to my Barnes' Commentary. I found that as professed people of God we ought to be like our God. Barnes says that "It is a great truth, that people everywhere will imitate the god whom they worship, they will form their character in accordance with his. They will regard what he does as right. They will attempt to rise no higher in virtue than the god whom they adore. The God of the Christian's worship is perfectly holy; therefore, the character of His worshipers should also be holy. So the worship of Yahweh molds the character of His people into His image, and they become like Him."

So it is part of the sanctification process. It is be-coming like Him. Like Jesus.


Is our character a reflection of His holiness? Do others see Him in our conduct?

Even though God is doing the work in us, we still have a responsibility. We must make up our minds to surrender and seek after Him. Obey Him. We must love Him will all our heart, soul, strength and mind. Holiness will then be a (super) natural consequence.



For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works. Titus 2:11-14



Note: There is also another strange root meaning of this word "holy": (an awful thing) A festival, or a victim therefore: - (solemn) feast (day), sacrifice. I see it plain as day... Jesus was our sacrifice. Satan and his minions had a feast and a festival thinking his death would be the end of Him and us. Wrong! Jesus rose again. Hallelujah!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Guilties

Some say "guilt is a woman's thing" (guys, stay with me). I am sure there are exceptions but generally speaking, I believe it to be true. Many of us subconsciously attempt to attain "Proverbs 31-hood" in everything we do.

When the holidays role around we really crank up the "to-do" list. We decorate, we shop, we prepare meals, we create ambiance and we handle those unexpected things that pop their wonderful little heads up at the last minute.

These activities are wonderful in and of themselves but when we find ourselves breaking a mist (we ladies don't sweat!), or not meeting each goal to the nth degree, we often feel guilty. We often set ourselves up with unreal expectations of what can and should be done. I'm not going to say what is unreal, we already know don't we? Sometimes we forget because we get caught up in the hype but when we stop (if we stop), rest and regroup we know.

What I am saying is this... knock it off!

To feel guilty because we truly did something wrong (sin) is a blessing. It's the Holy Spirit's way of gently yanking us up for a little one on one. It's God's "rod" and is a comfort to us (Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me). I am grateful for His correction.

Counterfeit guilt is another thing. It's a distortion. It's out of balance. It will steal our joy! Not only that, I believe if practiced long enough could eventually influence our ability to distinguish and perceive the Holy Spirit's voice.

Okay, so now we're feeling guilty for feeling guilty? No way! Let's enjoy each day to the utmost; work hard to meet goals and shop until we drop if we must. But, if that little pang tries to worm its way in, take a moment to see if it's justified. If not... give it the boot!



Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.




Song, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus written in 1922 by Helen Lemmel




Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's all good

There is so much of the Bible we miss if we don't determine to read it straight through, beginning to end. For instance, my women's study group is in Romans, my pastor's sermons are currently from 1 Peter and my devotional time hits a verse at random. See what I mean? I decided to go for it.

I was enjoying my read in Exodus 25 when suddenly the word turned very dry (maybe because they were in the dessert... ha!). God was getting very specific with Moses about the details of how He wanted the tabernacle furnishings. As I read, my eyes were slowly filling up with lead and at one point my forehead came dangerously close to crashing right onto the page.

Then I heard myself..."Maybe I'll just skip this part. I"m just scanning it anyway because I can't focus on the rings, the knobs, the pitcher, the bowls, the blue, the scarlet, the purple, and the poles!"

Right on queue, that little voice within elbowed me and said:

"You know you can't really say that you've read the Bible beginning to end if you skip parts of it".

And as usual, the little voice was right. So I went back to the top and started over. In short time I came to the end of the chapter where it was introducing the details of how to construct the lampstand. It was made of pure gold and was very ornamental with its branches and almond blossoms. The wick trimmers and trays that went with it were specifically ornate as well. Then I came to the very last verse in the chapter:

"And see to it that you make them according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain".

For some reason I have always thought the entire mountain top agenda consisted of discussing and writing into stone the 10 commandments. If I had stopped and thought about it I would've known that a 40 day meeting would probably go into quite a bit more than that.

There are treasures of spiritual significance and meaning in every single detail of God's instruction regarding the furnishings and articles. However, in this particular reading I was not digging deep into a study. I was just reading for the enjoyment of it.

When I read that last verse I pictured God showing Moses all the beautifully patterned things He wanted to have His place furnished with. I sensed anticipation and joy in the preparation. He had saved them from severe bondage in Egypt and brought them to Himself. He was in love with them and He looked forward to dwelling among them. He wanted everything just so.

Then I thought of the coming verses and how God's heart was going to be broken; how when Moses came down that mountain he was going to find those fools partying around some dumb golden calf! How could they do it? How could they hurt God like that?

I knew the answer. They, like me were blind selfish sinners. I closed the Bible and hugged it close; so thankful for God's mercy and grace; so grateful that He loved me and sent His only son Jesus to save me from cruel bondage, and so in awe that he resides within me today.

That last verse was like a reward for reading the entire chapter. I wonder what awaits me in the book of Numbers - all those genealogies! I truly look forward to it.



All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16,17



Are you a good person according to God's standards? If so, are you good enough to go to Heaven? Take this test.

If you want to be saved then follow the Roman's Road.





Friday, November 28, 2008

You are Me

My grandma is old and has been incapable of taking complete care of herself for many years now. My mom and my aunts go to great lengths to make sure she has everything she needs and is able to live at home.

It's amazing to see how love overpowers weariness. Anyone could make sure she gets her meals and medicines. It's much more than that. They surround her. They honor her. And if anyone were to mistreat her it would be as if they had done so to them.

A couple Fridays back I was privileged enough to take a day off work to help my mom take grandma shopping. One or two stops and lunch is an all day event. Everything is done at slow speed.

We had the wheelchair in the trunk and then back out again; we had the sweater on; we took the sweater off; she heard what was being said; then she didn't; we reached for that; then we put that back; then...we needed to find the bathroom!

After getting her "situated" in the bathroom we stepped out. We always want to leave her with as much dignity as possible. Poor grandma. In times like these, she feels she is too much trouble.

She is not too much trouble. She is me. She is mom. We will each take her place one day. Perhaps with different challenges but in a very real sense we are each other. The Bible speaks of it and I, in fleeting moments am able to grasp some of it.

And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. Luke 6:31

Our love towards others will be evidence used to judge us one day.

'For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink: I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.' "Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' Matt 25:35-40

How I love my grandma, my husband, my co-worker and you tells God how much I love Him which comes back to me in the day of judgment. Or to put it another way... What we do unto others is what we do unto Him which will determine what is done unto us!

I am you. You are me.



Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Give Thanks

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


A Psalm of Thanksgiving


Make a joyful shout to the LORD,
all you lands serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.

Know that the LORD, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Psalm 100




Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dreams

Rarely do I remember my dreams. If I do remember one it's usually a bizarre drama created by the chemical reaction of eating too many artichoke hearts with my black bean pizza. Entirely worth the risk but still... an obvious freak of nature!

We see little movie trailers while unplugged from consciousness. Doesn't that seem weird? Dreams are one of those things I want to ask about when I get to Heaven. I know they serve a purpose.

In the Bible they are very significant. King Saul was upset when he could not longer find guidance in his dreams.

1 Samuel 23:6 And when Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.

Joseph was able to interpret dreams. We see this in the account of the butler and the baker.

Genesis 40:8 And they said to him, "We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it." So Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please."

The butlers dream was good in that it told about his restoration to his former position of serving Pharaoh. The bakers dream was not so good. His foretold his own death. Yikes!

Prophetic dreams were given to ungodly rulers such as Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. These served God's purpose as He always provided clear interpretation through a prophet. He wanted those rulers to fully understand.

Thankfully, for Joseph, Mary, the baby Jesus and us, instruction was provided too.

Matthew 2:13 Now when they departed, behold, and angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him."

As always, then and now, there are some flaky folks with some flaky dreams. This does not please God.

Jeremiah 23:25 "I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in My name, saying, 'I have dreamed, I have dreamed!"

Sound familiar?

So what do we do with our own dreams? Most are shrugged off and soon forgotten but what about those that are different? We don't forget them because somehow we know they are telling us something.

I'm learning to pay attention! Most often, all I know to do is pray.

One night I dreamed about my mom. There wasn't much motion in the dream but I kept seeing her sitting in a chair. She appeared pale and not well. Then slowly her head tilted back and her mouth came open like she fainted or something. Over and over, all night long the same clip.

When morning came I remarked to my husband... "I'm worn out! I've been praying for mom all night long because of this weird dream I was having."

Later this same morning I got a call at work that mom was in the hospital with the flu. She was first taken to a local clinic but while sitting in a chair in the examining room her head went back and she lost consciousness. It was the scene from my dream!

Do my dreams compare to those in the Bible? I don't think so but I do think we need to be sensitive to our dreams. Also, keep things in balance. Sometimes, just keep them to ourselves! Know when to toss them but know when to heed them too.


For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. But fear God. Eccl. 5:7


Photo: Dream Walk taken by my husband Warren.



Friday, November 14, 2008

Comfort in the Huddle

Seems I have spent an inordinate amount of time over the years shaking my head. I have been mystified at the world around me on just about any level one can name. Because I detest complacency I've been as pro-active as possible within my opportunities to fight against evil and to promote good. I have always thought it my personal responsibility to stay informed, to study issues, to pray and to be a discerning person. I haven't always done well but I've learned from my mistakes.

I say all that to say this... I'm pooped!

I'm sad too.

My country, this "sweet land of liberty" is in a condition of apostasy. I looked that ugly word up and it means renunciation of a religious faith or the abandonment of a previous loyalty: DEFECTION. Those with no faith are not excluded; they have at the very least abandoned the basics of common sense. I'm not going to make a list of examples to prove my point. Like I said, I'm pooped. I am sure that I don't need to anyway right? I pray you have eyes to see.

The Bible is full of encouragement and direction for times such as these. I know this. I'm not giving up! Those Holy and living words will certainly continue to guide me.

For now, I am taken aside by God. My head is down, my sword is at my side and His arm is around me. He is speaking wonderful things to me. We are in a huddle. I don't understand everything He is saying but I love it that He is close. I know that I can trust Him. I know that He will send me back out with purpose and a new focus.

Yes, for everything there is a season and this is a time I have determined not to rush or to fight. I am enjoying the comfort and light of His countenance.



Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 1 Cor. 1:3-4



Friday, November 7, 2008

Mama's Tabernacle

I hate death. If we had not fallen so long ago in the garden we wouldn't even know what it was. We were never meant to.

I'll be attending a funeral today for my cousin Steven Sparks. His family loved him very much and we will miss him.


The following poem was written about my late great-grandmother. I think that her prayers included us. I dedicate it to Steven and all the others we so sorely miss. I know they are in Heaven together and that we shall see them again one day.




Mama's Tabernacle

Down the path Mama would go
folding chair, tackle
and pole.

She might catch fish
but that's not why she went.
She loved to sit in the quiet.

She talked with God
about the kids, papa,
maybe the crops
or even the world.
Everything under the sun.

Now and then she'd fuss with her hat,
take a dip of snuff
or kick the fidgets from her feet.

But mostly,
she'd just sit there
looking out,
carrying on conversation.



And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Rev. 21:4



Thursday, October 30, 2008

Where it's at

Working with the public is a wonderful thing but believe me; it's hard not to get cynical and sarcastic. Well I hate that. I don't want to be that way. I want to be full of joy. I want to be salt. I want to be light!

So here comes another Monday and I'm assigned to reception where a typical day for 5 workers is to screen and interview approximately 350 people. No problem though, I'm ready. I've had a great devotional time prior to work, I've got my spiritual armor on and as I open my window I am saying to the Lord... "Here I am, looking for opportunities today. Send me someone."

Hours later, the day is moving along typically but it's busier than usual and I'm feeling a weariness. I feel the cynic lurking.

"Number 203, window C please"

A shriveled little old lady with a handful of letters (I'm sure she does not understand) slowly makes her way to my window.

"Good afternoon ma'am. How may I help you today?"

Up comes a huge black handbag to the counter and she starts digging... and digging.

"Ma'am, I see you have some letters there. Do you need help with them?"

Her arm is into the handbag up to her elbow now. "I know you need to see my ID. I had it just a moment ago."

Did I mention that we were busier than usual? I sit back in my chair with a heavy sigh. I'm annoyed.

She finally fishes out her ID and hands it to me. "Okay, here's my problem honey..."

Long story short, with an excruciating exercise in patience I was able to help the lady and was anxious to move on to the next person and get the lobby back to a reasonable, less frightening capacity.

As the lady is packing up her handbag I reach for the intercom to call the next person and I hear from within me... "Slow down, not so quick."

I knew that voice! Suddenly I was recharged. "Forgive me Lord."

I set the intercom down and faced the little lady. "Ma'am, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

She paused for a long moment before looking me in the eye and said, "Would you pray for me?"

"Well I can certainly do that. What's going on?"

She set the handbag back down. "I've got a lot of unpleasant business to take care of today and I don't feel well. Just pray that I will somehow get through this day."

My heart softened as I reached for her wrinkled little hand and we closed our eyes together for just a moment. I said a short prayer for her and then squeezed her hand. Not a word was said afterwards. We just smiled at each other and she gathered up her things and left the building.

What a special moment! I had almost missed it because of weariness and a bad attitude but by God's grace He had used me. Me!
A divine encounter scheduled by the Master of the universe. Now that is where it's at! It made me want to cry. It made we want to do it again.

"Number 225, window C please. How may WE help you today?"



For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself"
Galatians 5:14



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Knowing Truth

Often my prayers include a petition for God to open blind eyes.

Shake them by their spiritual shoulders Lord, cause them to see the truth!

Recently this request has turned into a plea of desperation, of almost begging the Lord to do something. It seems nothing happens. People continue on just the same. No, not the same... worse!

Why Lord? Why?

And He answered me.

They are not seeking the truth; therefore they will not find it.

My hands went to my heart. Those words were revelation but boy did they ever hurt. How could someone not want to know the truth? Do I want to know the truth?

The more I thought about it, the more apparent it became that there is a lot of seeking going on but it's not for the truth. It's for self. It's for philosophy, metaphysical discoveries, political winds or religious trends that will at long last deliver nirvana.

All the while real truth is out front jumping up and down, waving hands, calling. He is not wanted though. He is rejected. Yes, He. Jesus is THE TRUTH!

Search all we want but we will not find. We will not find until we seek Him. If we think that we can discern any truth whatsoever without Him we are sorely mistaken. We are fools.

I have a new prayer now.

Have mercy on us Lord. Soften our hearts enough to see the reality of our own foolishness. Destroy the idols within us that cause deception. Capture us and instruct us according to your ways and your will.


If you do not know Jesus but you want to then take a stroll down the Roman Road.


Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Matthew 5:6



Friday, October 17, 2008

Be Transformed!

I love to take a verse from the Bible that I know I should understand better and break it down with a word study. I decided to do Romans 12:2 which reads:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.


I took several words from the verse that I wanted clarification on. Below is a simple breakdown of my discoveries.

Conformed. Do not be conformed to this world. This word means to correspond in form or character, be similar, be in accord or agreement with. So that's a pretty easy one. Christians should be distinguishable from the world.

Transformed. But be transformed. The definitions for this word are fascinating and are: To change the appearance or form of, to change the nature, function or condition of or convert; to subject to the action of a transformer and, my favorite... to subject (a cell) to transformation!
The use of this word in relation to "renewing the mind" indicates that the word applies to the whole man. It is for this reason that I conclude that even though some of the definitions for this word seemingly apply to mathematics, electricity or genetics that they belong as one for a complete understanding into the depths of the word's powerful meaning to our body, spirit and soul. To subject our very cells to transformation! Wow-whee!

Renewing. By the renewing of your mind. To make new or as if new again; restore. To replenish, to bring into being again or reestablish. To become new again. To start over. Isn't that powerful?
Referencing Barnes' Notes on the New Testament, I find that the term here does not refer to the intellect alone but to the entire spirit and soul. He says, "Let it (the renewing) not be a mere external conformity, but let it have its seat in the spirit. All external changes, if the mind was not changed, would be hypocrisy. Christianity seeks to reign in the soul; and having its seat there, the external conduct and habits will be regulated accordingly."

Prove. That you may prove what is. To establish the truth or genuineness of. To give demonstration of by action.
How are we to know the will of God if we are not seeking with a renewed mind? Again, Barnes... "Having a disposition to obey Him, the mind will be prepared to understand His precepts. There will be a correspondence between the feelings of the heart and His will; a nice tact or taste, which will admit His laws and see the propriety and beauty of His commands."

That good and acceptable and perfect will of God. This part of the verse is talking about being able to ascertain or find out what is good and pleasing to God and to walk it out consistently in our daily lives.

I am always amazed at just how great the reward is when diligence is applied to seeking God's truth. There is no greater reward than that of getting to know Him better! Just look at the richness of this one verse. How privileged we are to have His words at our fingertips.

Action item - Read Ephesians 4 (entire chapter) for instruction on how to renew.


Father, abide with us and remove our appetites for vain and worldly things. We surrender to the transformations your will has designed for us. Reestablish us. Give us a thirst for obedience and a hunger for your Holy Word. May the refining of your children be a pleasing aroma delivered daily to your Holy throne. Gather us to you.


Albert Barnes' notes on the New Testament and other commentaries can be found at StudyLight.org. I also highly recommend the free Bible study software program called e-sword.


Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
I Corinthians 2:12



Friday, October 10, 2008

Now is the Time

Can you imagine being alive in Jesus' day? I see Him walking the shores of Galilee, playing with the neighborhood children, speaking to a crowd or eating at my house! Just think of being witness to the miracles He did. Think of His love.

I, of course, would have been one of His most faithful followers. I would have been fearless and full of joy all the time. I would have went out to me
et him crying Hosanna... The King of Israel! That is what I like to think but is it true? Would I have recognized Him as Messiah? Surely I would not have been one of those in Pilot's courtyard pumping my fist for the release of Barabbas!

There is no way of knowing what I would have done t
hen. All I can do is live in my own time. I believe I am living in last days and it is surreal to accept that fact. It is exciting and terrible at the same time. So what am I doing? What will I say if one day someone Imagines about last days and they ask me... "What was it like? What did you do?"

Selah (think about that)


Lord, quicken us to your will for this hour and equip us with the weapons of your warfare. May we keep your command to persevere. Come quickly!


Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
Psalm 63:4



Friday, October 3, 2008

Tanka Fun

Tanka is a Japanese style of poetry that's been around for about 1300 years! The name means "short song" and was originally intended to be chanted with music. In the traditional form it is composed using 31 syllables in 5 lines of 5,7,5,7,7. The third line is often pivitol, meaning it can act as an ending verse (of the first 3 lines) and a beginning verse (of the last 3 lines) at the same time. Since Japanese and English have little in common these traditional rules are not so binding for the English writer. It is the essence of the tradition that is sought after. I read somewhere once that Tanka is like Haiku with commentary. It is also compared to a verbal snapshot of a situation with clarification. Oh, and Tanka do not have titles unless the author has a string of them together to form a sequence.

I enjoy the traditional but especially like to write and read the experimental. Below is a traditional example without the strict Japanese syllable counts. The third verse is pivotal. It is a snapshot of a situation where the person thinks that he did not win his promotion because of his disability. He does not even consider the fact that it may be something as basic as the way he chooses to dress. Isn't that just like us?


He is disabled
smart and capable
not promoted again
he storms away
in that wrinkled shirt


The next example follows a similar pattern. The picture it captures may seem melodramatic but is in fact quite true.


I see Jesus
hanging on the cross
my crimes pouring from His flesh
I walk away
free and clean


The next three are experimental and I would probably be criticized by experts (of which I am not) for being too abstract. Still, I like them so they stay! The third line is not pivotal. The first describes a moment of trying to fathom the depths of how well God knows us and is inspired by Heb 4:12.


There is a place
between the bone and the marrow
that keeps the essence
of all the things
there are no words for


The second is a true incident captured in my memory forever. Words do something to us don't they?


You called me ugly
and I
will never
ever
believe you didn't mean it


Lastly, this Tanka is a snap-realization that I am capable of falling in the immediate moment after betting my life that I never would!


I knew my own soul
when I anchored it on a flimsy stick
stretched it towards the flame
and watched it fall
straight away into the dirt


So there you have it. Why not try and put some of your own moments into a Tanka capsule? You can search out sources on the internet to get a better understanding. American Tanka is just one of my favorite places.


You have made known to me the ways of life; you will make me full of joy in your presence.
Acts 2:28


Photo: Pink Clematis, taken by my husband Warren in our back yard.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Christians Drag Feet to Faith Films

When I heard the news that one of my all time favorite Christian novels was to be made into a film I could hardly contain my delight. When the day finally came for it to show in my town I was early to get a good seat. I was very pleased to see that the theater was anticipating large crowds; they had given it one of their largest rooms. Well guess what? Including my husband and myself there were 8 people in attendance!

Pulpits and palms are pounded with the steam of Christian discontent over the films and movies produced by Hollywood. Fervent prayers are sent to heaven with plea after plea for an answer to this ever increasing symptom of society's degradation.

In the mean time, good Christian folks are diligent to screen every movie to ensure freedom from the potential and practically inevitable launching of objectionable material smack into their sanctity.

Then, lo and behold, out of the rot rise champions who have heard the cry and taken up the challenge to produce beautiful, brave, redeeming films. Christians everywhere loosen their grip on brow soaked hankies and inhale the fresh air of victory. They feel good knowing that change is taking place. They tell their friends. They tell their family and co-workers. The one thing they don't do though is buy a ticket. Oh they plan on it. They talk about it and if they get around to it... well guess what? The theater has yanked it for lack of interest!

Christians need to get their bucks out there quick if they want these new champions to continue with the cause. Many theaters don't want to carry Christian films anyway so if there isn't an immediate pay off the film is dumped.

Will Christians seize this opportunity to stand as a force and a voice for more faith based films? If not then let there be no surprise when future discontent is greeted by a big hand covering a big yawn. It is imperative that Christians understand that complacency is the lukewarm water that will flush foot holds right out from under hope.


Screenit is a good secular tool for separating the good movies from the bad. Movie Guide is a great Christian resource for screening movies and documentaries. Christian Film News will keep you posted on new releases.


For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.
1 Peter 2:15


Photograph (Theater Seats at Miletus), courtesy Bibleplaces.com.




Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Boot Bottom View

The World at War was a 26-episode television documentary series about World War II. It was mandatory viewing in our home one year in the 70's. The graphic realities of hatred, persecution and antisemitism that I learned of forevermore engraved my young soul with indignation.

I carry those starving naked victims on my shirt sleeve. The following poem was written for their sake and was originally published March, 2003 in a now defunct e-zine called The Sidewalk's End.


Boot Bottom View

His thick heavy mouth
was chapped from too much licking,
too much savoring in the duties he carried out.
His bottom lip hung open from his face
and held a pool of saliva
that he drank from
just prior to speaking words of

Combat-booted feet that were
removed from Earth's pulse
just for a moment,
or maybe for two,
depending on his mood.
He crossed them on a rich cherry desk
without leaving a scuff.
I could smell the polish.
He admired his reflection.

He passed an expensive cigar under his nose
for long whiffs, he
petted the underside of his chin with its horizontal edge
then wetted one end
with sensual suckling.
He heated it from the flame of a wand
struck slowly from the tip.
Rings of smoke wobbled away

in the still humid air. I sat without moving
yet my blood poured from temples
to heart and back again,
all of it in one place or the other.
My feet stung for the lack of it.
I tried to sing hymns to myself and imagine
a meadow with oaks all around.

But when I noticed his thin slow smile cut across the desk,
into my meadow the hymn screeched to an end
and a hawk lifted from the grove of oaks - it's wings
pushing against my panic to soar away.
Its long and lonesome cry
was the last thing.


To learn more about persecution of Christians around the world please visit the official site of the Voice of The Martyrs. If interested in helping children who suffer the consequences of war, famine and natural disasters please visit World Vision. I am not affiliated with either of these organizations but have come to believe that they are worthy laborers.


But, as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good.
2 Thess. 3:13


Photograph (Holocaust Memorial Sculpture) courtesy of RIPizzo.