Monday, October 31, 2011

~ "Revealed..."

It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. (Luke 2:26)

Yesterday was a travel day. My sister lives about an hour and a half from me. So we packed up my granddaughter and drove to the Jersey Shore for her introduction to her Great Aunt and Uncle and two more cousins. I'm sure if Mikhaela understood, her comment would have been "More cousins??? You mean there are MORE???" They have been waiting patiently for 3 months to meet her. It was a wonderful day for all!

Simeon, too, waited patiently to meet Christ! God promised him that his mortal life would not end before he saw the salvation of Israel. I witnessed the excitement that my sister and her family exhibited at the arrival of their great niece and cousin, I can only imagine the joy and fulfillment that Simeon experienced!

We all have the opportunity to meet Jesus! We have the ability to know Him and to walk with Him, to serve Him and to honor Him. Unlike Simeon, we do not have to wait for our Savior, He waits patiently for us. He calls out to each of us. He's calling out to you! Have you accepted Him? Have you committed your life to Him? Do you rely on Him for all things?

Accepting Jesus, His death and resurrection, and all that He teaches, is not an end to life. It is not a death sentence that excludes enjoying the many wonderful things this life has to offer. It is a guarantee for the next life. It is a new way of living - which will explode into beautiful and bountiful blessings for you! It's a step unlike any other. Wonderful things happen to you when you begin to walk that path laid before you! Trust in Him - have faith in Him! Answer His calling with the words "here I am, Lord, send me!" Make your life a true offering to Him, for He has done for you what no one could or would have! Let Him finish the work He has begun in you! Let His plan for you unfold. Walk away from the madness and sadness and find the joy that Jesus has to offer you! He will take you just as you are, no need to wait until you are perfect - He will perfect you! Give Him the chance!!!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

~ "By Your Side..."

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

My Dear Child,

I have been trying to reach you. You have been struggling for many years. It seems to you that your life is useless, worthless. You feel as if there is nothing you can do right. You've cannot understand the natural course of life on earth that occur, by which, you have lost loved ones dear to you. You've hated me for not stepping in and "fixing" your life. You've listened to the advice of those around you who have nothing but selfish motives for their actions. They do not know me. You seriously considered ending your life because you felt there was nothing left for you here.

I have watched you and protected you from the time your mother conceived you. I gave her the strength to deliver you, to endure years of pain and suffering. I watched you take your first steps. I have called out to you time and time again and you refuse to come to me - because I am not as "popular" as the bar scene with your friends, because in doing so, you know there are changes you would have to make. Yes, my child, I know that you remember my laws. You become overwhelmed with fear of rejection. I understand.

Do you not know that I am more than enough for you??? Do you not understand that those changes you fear will come to you as easily as your ability to walk and talk??? I've sent someone to help you with all of that. I've sent a part of myself to lift you up when you are hurting, to encourage you, to change you...all you need to do is ask him in!!! Your mother fought me like you do. She tried it her way for many years. She was as stubborn as you are (I guess it runs in the family). Let go of your fears, child! I will not let you fall! Come to me, my arms are open to receive you!

I want you to remember two things: I will never leave you, nor forsake you and I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I love you,

By Your Side

Saturday, October 29, 2011

~ "Let me introduce you to my friend..."

And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.' (Acts 3:25)

God promised Abraham that He would bless the world through his descendants, the Jewish race, from which the Messiah would come. God intended the Jewish nation to be a separate and holy nation that would teach the world about God, introduce the Messiah, and then carry on His work in the world. After the days of Solomon, the nation gave up its mission to tell the world about God. Here, too, in apostolic times as well as in the time Jesus spent on earth, Israel also rejected its Messiah.

Although most of us are not natural descendants of Abraham (as we are not Jews), we are still heirs! We are, by His promise, chosen to share Jesus with others. We, too, should be teaching the world about God, introducing others to our Savior, Jesus Christ!!! We, too, need to continue the mission of spreading the Good News!

What a wonderful witness our devoted lives can offer if we share just a little of it with others! Think of how far you have come since the day you first accepted Christ! Think of the changes the Holy Spirit has made in you, how He has brought you to where you are today (always for better, never for worse, regardless of how it appears from where you are currently standing)! Share that testimony with others! Perhaps not so much with words, but with actions! Let others see the "new" you! Let them see the light that shines within you - the light of the world! Let His mercy and grace be as visible as the smile that adorns your face when you think of the promise you hold within your soul! Let that gentle breeze blow over you and know that you ARE chosen, you ARE loved, and you ARE an heir!!!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)

Friday, October 28, 2011

~ "Count it ALL joy..."

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:2-4)

What if we really did count it all joy? In a message from a friend yesterday, I was reminded "what if we really counted it all joy... what would He do?? What kind of a witness would we be for Him if we lived in that freedom of not worrying about a thing."

Our human hearts experience sadness, happiness - we exist in a time where most of what the world throws at us is painful. There seems to always be a trap door at the bottom of the well of sorrows, adding just one more. My life is no different than anyone's. I have a small circle of friends that has the privilege (or the chore) of listening to those painful occurrences that you experience. I generally turn my pain into a positive through my writing. Being slammed up against the wall with disappointments and problems is never pleasant. But...what if???

Each day we are faced with new problems, but we always have the same solution available to us. We have Jesus! Having faith sometimes is all we have, and it's more than enough. We have a promise from the King! In that promise lies our solution to every problem we encounter! What a gift!

So...that paycheck that you thought would be big enough to cover the repairs on the car that came up short...count it joy! He will bless you with all that you need. Those plans that you made that ended up not getting off the ground...count it joy! There is something more beautiful waiting for you that has yet to be revealed. The sharp-tempered words from a parent or spouse...count it joy! There is love written in each of them that you have yet to discover. That friend who has let you down again...count it joy! Jesus will never let you down! He is there, right there with you through all of it. He guides your steps and molds and shapes your heart. He is shaping it into His most perfect tool. Share His greatest sorrow, which becomes our greatest joy...His death and resurrection has become the promise for us, our debt is paid! God has provided for you! It WILL be enough. He has blessed you and cares for you each and every day...count it ALL joy!!!

(Image: "Count It All Joy" © Ruth Palmer -

Thursday, October 27, 2011

~ "Mules in horse harness..."

For his eyes are on the ways of man, and he sees all his goings. (Job 34:21)

Billy Graham writes: "You can take a man—dress him up, put him in the front row in church, and he almost looks like a saint. He may fool even his best friends for a while, but then put him in his office, or in the club on Saturday night, and you will see his true nature come out again. Why does he act that way? Because his nature has not been changed. He has not been born again." Often, what people see, is not what God sees! The old adage with a twist..."you can fool some of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool God!"

I remind people all the time that God doesn't bargain. The only bargaining He will do will be to listen to the recommendation of His son, Jesus. If Jesus says "I never knew you", you're done! Off you will go to that fiery pit without an explanation, without a "but, wait" - it will be over before it begins. I shake my head at the way some people carry on all while parading the "Christian" banner. It's very unsettling. God knows your heart. He knows the progress you've made in your walk and although you do not always feel you've walked a straight enough path, although you can see changes that need to be made, God sees the bigger picture. He sees that aching and longing to be in His presence. He sees and feels your pain as you struggle to do what is right in His eyes. He sees your exhaustion, He sees your efforts. However, if you haven't been born again (saved), you struggle in vain.

Without Jesus there is no eternal life, there is only death and hell left for you. All of your accomplishments here on earth mean nothing. Your good deeds, your successes, they fall in the category of useless. You may have the biggest heart (and some of my friends truly do), but without Jesus, it means nothing. Accepting Jesus as you Savior, as the Messiah, the one, true God, does not mean that you have to give up everything you know - acceptance of Jesus will only add to the wonderful blessings that are bestowed upon you. Acceptance of Jesus will put all that love and all those philanthropic actions into perspective. Accepting Jesus will make you complete!

Don't be "mules in horse harness"...allow the Holy Spirit to fill you and carry you through what is left of your earthly existence. Lift your eyes towards Heaven and know that with each breath you take, your Heavenly Father awaits your arrival. Give Him something to celebrate when you arrive!!! Give Him the opportunity to welcome you home. Give Him the opportunity to call you His child!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

~ "Graduation..."

Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

The disciples became apostles.  "Disciple" means follower or learner, and "apostle" means messenger or missionary.  These men now had the special assignment of spreading the Good News of Jesus' death and resurrection (Life Application Study Bible).

Matthias was chosen as the replacement for Judas Iscariot.  They outlined criteria for making the choice and once there were a significant number of "applicants", they prayed.  They asked God to guide them in their decision.  This teaches us to pray before acting impulsively.  We should be setting up criteria consistent with the Bible and praying for God's wisdom and guidance in reaching a wise decision.

How often do we sit and just tell the Lord what we want without actually taking the time to make sure it falls within the criteria He has already set before us?  Do we pray "God, fix that - make it right" or do we turn our eyes towards Him and pray for what already is perfected?  Unfortunately, not all will know the Lord on the same level.  Some know His name, some are acquainted with Him and others walk with Him.  Let Him lead you - make you a disciple.  Once you have become that disciple, eventually you will become an apostle.  We all have that special assignment - we are all to spread the Good News!  We cannot spread it until we are secure in it.  It's similar to graduating from college, yet we still continue to be educated while we teach others.  It's an ongoing and continual process, but once we begin to reach out and teach others, we are guided by the power of the Holy Spirit that lives within us!  It's not something the church bestows upon you through an exercise in memorization, it is who Jesus gives you to continue His work!  It is a gift, it is a blessing - it is a ministry!

Don't waste time looking for the certificate that says "Apostle" won't find it here on earth!  Those records are kept in the highest of all church offices...God's heart!!!  Be numbered among those who fell into Jesus' inner circle - be numbered with those twelve!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

~ "Bible study..."

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (Ps 27:14)

"I have never met anyone who spent time in daily prayer, and in the study of the Word of God, and was strong in faith, who was ever discouraged for very long. (Billy Graham)."

I had the occasion yesterday to cry tears of laughter to the point that when I climbed into bed last night, I was still laughing.  I helped my daughter (and myself) see the bright side of a depressing situation.  We turned a tragedy into a comedy and found a way to make it an "adventure".  So, what may have been a terrible day, turned out differently because the perspective placed on it was positive!

Our daily lives are filled with disappointments, discouragement and disasters.  It is what we do with them and how we view them that makes them work.  It's looking for that silver lining in the cloud that helps us to realize that God is always with us.  Once you've come to know the Lord, you may become discouraged, but you will not stay there long.  God's promises are there.  They are as real as the ground we walk on.  His patience with us is unending (as I realized this morning before my feet even reached the floor).  He continues to care for us and provide us with what we do not deserve.  He teaches us lessons involving patience, courage, and faith.  He reminds us over and over again what is important and what is not.  He holds that door open for us so we can pass through over and over again.  He is all-knowing and all-loving!  

Take the time to continue your dedicated studies of His word.  Find yourself a book that you can understand and let it take you to new depths in what He has written!  Open the door to the knowledge that is contained in the Bible.  Get to know God a little better each day and you will, as Mr. Graham has said, never be discouraged for long!  

Monday, October 24, 2011

~ "Don't forget to pack that..."

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. (Ecc 9:10)

This morning I am still on that little pink cloud from the boost I received yesterday morning! I'm still singing the tune "The Great Adventure" and I must say, I had to watch it again this morning!!! Talk about an "impact statement"!!!

We all experience valleys and mountains, we experience fear, love and hurt and anger - it's what we do when we are in those places that matters most! We can whine, complain, yell and scream (which I do not do anymore - well, the yelling and screaming anyway) and it will not change the situation. Acceptance of God's will for us sometimes is not arrived at quickly or excitedly...sometimes we go kicking and fighting all the way. I sit here and try to imagine the patience God has with me - not possible!!! Sometimes I am not even patient with myself!

Today's verse of scripture reminds us that this is it - this is our only chance to be all that God wants from us. This is what we were created for - our experiences, our determination and our passion for sharing His word with others. God's love for us WILL take us where ever it is we are supposed to be! The catch is we have to be open to receive the direction from the Holy Spirit. Again - know what you know! God will move you gently along the rest of the way. Your journey, with Him, becomes easier, lighter and much more meaningful than you could have ever imagined! Jesus died and rose from the dead to guarantee our eternal place in Heaven. What we do here (since there is nothing we can do to earn Heaven on our own), the example we set - lets others know that Jesus is the way! The labors of our hands mean nothing. The advances we strive for, the pockets full of dollars, the precious antiques we hold on to - they do not compare to the work we do for Him! We can' t take the other stuff with us. We don't even get to take our wretched bodies (and for some of us, that's a good thing). What we will take is the peace that comes from saying "I have tried". We will be looked on with love and affection. We will be spared an eternity of hell. We will be lifted up and known. We will step into the kingdom as heirs!

So, work hard now (read the word, spread the word, live the word)! Know that God has the most amazing plan for you! You may not be able to see it from where you're standing - you may have to move, or stand on someone's shoulders - stand on Christ's shoulders - He promises not to let you fall!!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

~ "The Great Adventure..."

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God." (Josh 4:24)

"It is the duty of parents to tell their children betimes of the words and works of God, that they may be trained up in the way they should go. In all the instruction parents give their children, they should teach them to fear God. Serious godliness is the best learning. Are we not called, as much as the Israelites, to praise the loving-kindness of our God? Shall we not raise a pillar to our God, who has brought us through dangers and distresses in so wonderful a way? (Matthew Henry)"

So, what happens when children aren't taught to fear God?  What happens when godliness is not something that they grown up seeing and imitating?  What happens when all they see and hear are lies and deluded lifestyles?  They become what we have present in this country today.  They become liars, murderers, thieves, drug addicts, drunks, angry, selfish, sociopathic and are socially incapable of exhibiting anything that resembles what God had planned for them.  I know that right now, your thoughts are running to young people.  Take a look around you and you will see these effects that have manifested themselves into those closing in on the final years of their lives.  You will see grown men who still rant and rave like two year olds insisting that they are right, that their plight is someone else's fault.  You will see women never satisfied with what they have, always searching for the next "Mr. Right".  You will see them continue into their 50's and 60's blaming others for their situations, their failures and their lifestyles continue from one day to the next excluding God from any of it.  And they have the audacity to ask "why me"!!!

I've said before that we all believe we have a right to be happy - but not before God's right to be happy.  God's hand on our shoulder will lead and direct us towards His path for us.  If we keep pushing His hand away (like the two year old - "I can do it myself") we will obviously end up lost and miserable.  Awakening the spirit within is not enough - we need to nurture it!  It is a great adventure!  Its where we find out what God calls us to do, when He wants from us, what His many blessings on us can encompass.  Studying God's word gives us the tools we need to live a life that is pleasing.  We cannot avoid the temptations of the enemy and the nightmares we "born again" parents face with regard to our children (and often our spouses) and their lack of faith and respect (and fear) when it comes to our Heavenly Father can be overwhelming.  Only through prayer and petition can the power of the Holy Spirit enlighten those loved ones to take up their cross, saddle up their horses and blaze the trail God has laid before them!  Only through God's amazing grace is any of this possible - and it is possible - if you continue to pray and set the example (even if they still refer to you as the crazy psycho who used to live in their house).  Don't let the enemy convince you that you are all that they say you are - know who you are - know who God has helped you to become - know that HIS power and love for you is greater than ANY other!  Shake it off,  say goodbye to it and move forward - He has the most amazing plan laid out for you!  It includes, but many not necessarily be limited to...HEAVEN!!!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

~ "That's no fish tale..."

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? (Jnh 4:11)

God ministered tenderly to Jonah just as He did to Nineveh and to Israel, and just as He does to us.  He could have destroyed Jonah for his defiant anger, but instead, He gently taught him a lesson.  If we will obey God's Word, He will gently lead us.  His harsh judgement is reserved for those who persist in rebellion.  

We can apply this verse to our individual lives, to our family lives and most assuredly, to our country.  "We, the People" have become so lazy in our fight for justice and our refusal to stand up and be counted has left this country headed for certain doom.  Armchair politicians (and I'm sorry to say, that is our country's motto - politics IS the American way) sit and solve this country's problems and it's not Democrats nor Republicans.  If you look at the history, it never matters who is in the Oval Office or which party is the majority in the House.  My suggestion is that you (those who seem to have all the answers) get up off your butt and run for office!

Our country's problems began with the removal of prayer from school.  They were increased by the Roe v. Wade decision.  There are "legal" atrocities that take place as a result of different "organizations" that compromise our standards, misinterpret our laws to suit their needs and create lawsuits that are of the most absurd caliber!  I thank God that He does not discriminate, does not allow for the manipulation of His word, rewards the righteous, punishes the wicked and takes care of the poor!

Nineveh was the most important city in Assyria.  It was also a very wicked city.  Jonah, who hated the powerful and wicked Assyrians, was called by God to warn the Assyrians that they would receive judgement if they did not repent.  Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh, so he tried to run from God.  But God has a way of teaching us to obey and follow Him.  When Jonah preached, the city repented.  God withheld His judgement.  "Even the most wicked will be saved if they truly repent of their sins and turn to God (Life Application Study Bible)."  It's time to stop running and start worshipping!!!

As individuals, we need to trust in God.  As a country, we also need to trust in Him.  It's still written in stone, on buildings and on our money..."In God We Trust".  We need to say "yes" to righteousness and honor Him.  We need to allow Him back into our schools, into our laws, back into humanity.  Sitting on the sidelines (or in your armchair or at your computer complaining about the government) won't change anything!  PRAYER CHANGES THINGS, not commentaries!  You cannot run from God anymore than Jonah could, so stop trying!  Do not forsake YOUR mission!

Friday, October 21, 2011

~ "A slave to righteousness..."

I put this in human terms because you are weak in your natural selves. Just as you used to offer the parts of your body in slavery to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer them in slavery to righteousness leading to holiness. (Rom 6:19)

We all suffer from the effects of slavery. Some of us are slaves to our jobs, some to our families, some even to our passions. The dictionary defines "slave" as "one who is abjectly subservient to a specified person or influence". We were all sold into slavery from the day that Adam and Eve were sent from the garden. Their actions (sin) caused our sinful nature. Our evil desires, our bondage to sin, and our love of sin come from that action. There is no escaping it. All of these things died with Christ! We are now united by faith with Him through His resurrection. We have unbroken fellowship with God and freedom from sin's hold on us.

It is impossible to be neutral. Every person has a master - it's either God or sin. "A Christian is not someone who cannot sin, but someone who is no longer a slave to sin." (Life Application Study Bible). We now have the opportunity to realize our goal - to be a slave to righteousness. Applying all the same aptitudes to righteousness that are applied to slavery cause us to see ourselves as no longer responsive to the power of the enemy and very much alive in the power of Christ! We can commit ourselves to obey Him in perfect freedom. This does not mean that we will not sin (we will - every day, over and over again). We are, however, free from the penalty of sin (death) in that we will live again in Christ!

We all sin, we all continue to make mistakes. The only time we will ever be free of sin is when we are clothed, by Jesus, with the "robe of righteousness". We are free to choose between two masters, but we are not free to adjust the consequences of our choice. Our new life, the life with God that begins on earth and continues forever with Him, comes only at the acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice for our sins. What choice have you made???

Thursday, October 20, 2011

~ "Going the distance..."

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3:13-14)

True love does not come with an on/off switch. True love is forgiving, acknowledging and understanding. It is supporting, uplifting, True love comes in many different forms - there is love of children, love of spouse, love of friends. Refusing to allow yourself to be used and hurt over and over does not constitute a lack of love - it amplifies one very particular love - love of self!

When we constantly look behind us, how can we see what's ahead of us? What would happen to a marathon runner if he constantly was looking back? We are in a race - the race of our lives. Our goal is to reach the finish line - heaven! Looking back at our past mistakes, our sins and our regrets (all forgiven might I add) takes our focus off of what lies ahead of us. We cannot change the events that brought us to this one moment in time. We, like a marathon runner, can look back and say "I should have exerted more energy here, I should have slowed down a bit here" but it will not change the our position at the finish line. We will reach it. If we're constantly looking back, it's obvious that we will encounter stumbling and falling, detours and mishaps. Only when we are secure in our footsteps, with our eyes on what is ahead of us, can we ever hope to realize the goal.

Being ready to accept the gifts of the Father can only occur if we are facing Him. He is not behind us - He leads us! He will not take us back in time and fix what we've broken, but He always will take us where we stand, moving us forward and blessing us as we go. Only through prayer, constant prayer, can we ever hope to be what He has planned for us. We must learn to let go of the sins of our past, of the pain and misery we've experienced (and inflicted) but that does not mean that we should become a doormat for more. It's time to start loving God and self before anyone or anything. Walking away does not mean that you love someone or something less than you should. Walking away from the past, heading towards the future means that you've accepted God's plan for you. Allow Him to open that door for you to a brighter future, a better life through Christ! Stop waiting for others to "catch up" - move out ahead and secure the prize! Move out ahead and enjoy what God has for you! Allow Him to be the focus of your run - let Him be your finish line - He'll be standing there with arms wide open to receive you!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

~ "The Shepherd" (by Michael Brendel II)(Part 2)

This is the second installation of Michael's posts. I hope you enjoy reading it...

"The Shepherd" - by Michael Brendel II

H---A Shepherd of Heaven (and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever, Psalm 23:6) Our Shepherd is a Shepherd of Heaven! David begins with, "The LORD is my shepherd." and ends with "I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Not only is the Shepherd of Heaven revealed here, He is revealed in other attributes of Heaven as well. First, Heaven is a place of the Master---the Shepherd. (I Thessalonians 4:17) Second, Heaven is a place of Mansions---the Shepherd has built. (John 14:2) Third, Heaven is a place of Majesty---the Shepherd is there. (Revelation 21:10-23) For sake of alliteration, you could also say that Heaven is a place of Mystery---the Shepherd will surprise us! :) (I Corinthians 2:9) Either way, our Shepherd is indeed a Shepherd of Heaven, and we who are His sheep will "dwell in the house of the LORD forever".
"I have read and heard about Heaven. It's a place I long to be! In the Bible we're told of it's beauty---my Lord's preparing a place for me! Heaven! Can you imagine all the peace and tranquility! No more heartaches or care! No more burdens to bear! We'll last for all eternity!"

E---A Shepherd for Eternity (Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, Psalm 23:6) Isn't it great to know that we have our Good and Great Shepherd for ever? (Hebrews 13:5, Isaiah 49:15) The Bible reassures us that the Shepherd will not leave us, even in old age. (Isaiah 46:4) Because David followed this Shepherd, he was able to say that goodness and mercy would be with him. We have this Shepherd as well, and if we will follow Him all the days of our life, goodness and mercy will not only follow us all the days of our lives, but the days of other's lives as well. (Deuteronomy 7:9, Psalm 103:17)
"The Shepherd never leaves us, though WE may leave His side. The Shepherd always feeds us, but to eat WE must decide. The Shepherd always leads us, though WE may go astray. The Shepherd always keeps us, despite OUR sin each day. The Shepherd ne'er gets tired, the Shepherd ne'er gives in. The Shepherd's sole desire is to keep His sheep from sin. Make sure YOU don't get tired, make sure YOU don't give in. Then you will please the Shepherd who keeps you 'til the end."

R---A Refreshing Shepherd (thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over, Psalm 23:5) Our Shepherd is a refreshing Shepherd. In Time of Trouble, there's no more refreshing or restful sight than Him. (Joshua 21:44, Daniel 6:22, II Kings 6:17) In Times of Toil, He refreshes. (Mark 6:31, Matthew 11:28-29) In Times of Trial, He cares. (I Peter 5:7) Isaiah, I think, described this Shepherd's care best in Isaiah 40:11, which says, "He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young." This chapter begins with this verse, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God." Our Shepherd is indeed a refreshing Shepherd.
"Be it thy joy, O anxious soul---Til thou shalt reach the Heavenly goal---Thy burden on the Lord to roll. Rest in the Lord. In quiet calm---In Christ's own rest---In secret strength for all opprest; all things are working for the best! Rest in the Lord. Rest in His truth, His power, His grace, rest in His knowledge of thy case, rest in the sunshine of His face. Rest in the Lord. Rest in His love---it cannot chill---Rest in His sweet and blessed will, rest in Himself; be hushed, be still. Rest in the Lord."

D---A Shepherd of Direction (He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters...he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Psalm 23:2-3) Our Shepherd is a shepherd of Direction. He is to be more than just a friend, He is to be a caring and loving guide who sees so much further, better, and wiser than those who with childlike faith place their hand in His. Without following His leadership, we are sure to fall into a snare. (Psalm 119:10, Psalm 91:3) His path, however, leads to rest for our souls! (Jeremiah 6:16) Today, it is your choice. Do you choose the still waters, green pastures, and paths of righteousness and rest; or do you choose the way that "seemeth right" but in the end leads to death? (Proverbs 14:12) Remember Psalm 1:1-2, "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night."
""Disappointment---His appointment. Change one letter, then I see that the thwarting of my purpose is God's better choice for me. His appoint must be blessing, tho' it may come in disguise, for the end from the beginning open to his wisdom lies. Disappointment---His appointment. "No good thing will he withhold;" From denials oft we gather treasures of His love untold. Well He knows each broken purpose leads to fuller, deeper, trust, and the end of all His dealings proves our God is wise and just. Disappointment---His appointment. Lord, I take it, then, as such. Like the clay in hands of potter, yielding wholly to Thy touch. All my life's plan is thy molding, not one single choice be mine; let me answer, unrepining---Father, not my will, but Thine."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

~ "The Shepherd" (by Michael Brendel II)(Part 1)

Today and tomorrow I will be featuring a young writer - Michael Brendel II. He is 16 years old and speaks to the heart in what I believe was originally 8 posts...I've combined it into two. I hope you enjoy these - I certainly did...

"The Shepherd"...
S---A Shepherd of Security and Safety (Psalm 23:4) We don't have anything to fear with Jesus as the Shepherd. He will Safely guide us through life AND death. He will safely lead us to Heaven! The Bible tells us that there is no better Security than to be in Jesus' hands. (John 10:27-29). With Jesus as the Shepherd, Whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1) The Shepherd has promised to be with us all the time and keep us Safe and Secure in His arms. (Isaiah 43:2, Deuteronomy 33:27).
The song says, "Under His wings---Oh, what precious enjoyment! There will I hide 'til life's trials are o'er. Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me! Resting in Jesus I'm safe evermore! Under His wings! Under His wings! Who from His love can sever? Under His wings my soul shall abide, safely abide forever."
Remember the promise of Isaiah 26:3 today: "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." We're safe with Jesus, the Great Shepherd.

H---A Shepherd of Healing (He restoreth my soul, Psalm 23:3) Our Shepherd is a Healer. He heals our soul from Sin (1 Peter 2:24), He heals our soul from Sorrow (Psalm 147:3), and He'll heal the Spirit of our souls (Psalm 51:10) as well. This Shepherd holds the Balm of Gilead.
"To cheer the broken-hearted, to heal the sick and lame, to save the souls of sinful man---for all of these He came! Jesus! Great Physician! Jesus! Matchless Friend! Jesus! Gentle Shepherd! Jesus! Our Healer!"

E---A Shepherd of Encouragement (Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, Psalm 23:5) Our Shepherd is an Encouraging Shepherd. He is there to be our light in darkness (Micah 7:8), our helping hand in failure (Psalm 37:24), our stronghold in trouble (Nahum 1:7), and our "Greater is He that is in you" in adversity. (I John 4:4) No wonder, then, that David, writer of Psalm 23, encouraged himself in His Shepherd. (I Samuel 30:6). You'll find all of these things, and more, at the table that the Shepherd prepares.
"Has a sorrow come upon you that no other soul can share? Does the burden seem too heavy for your aching heart to bear? There is One who'll love and comfort if you'll trust Him with your load; there's a burden-bearer ready if you'll give Him an abode. Lo, His precious promise reaches to the depths of human woe---that however deep the waters---they shall NEVER overflow!" (Isaiah 43:2)

P---A Shepherd of Provision (The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want, Psalm 23:1) This Shepherd is a Providing Shepherd. He has everything His sheep need at His disposal, and he is more than willing to provide His sheep with those things. A few things that the Shepherd provides are: Spiritual Food (John 6:51, John 7:37), Physical Food (Psalm 104:14), Spiritual Rest (Mark 11:29), Physical Rest (Psalm 127:2, Proverbs 3:24), Spiritual Riches (Matthew 6:20), and Physical Riches (Ecclesiastes 5:19). Our Shepherd is concerned about our welfare. He knows each need and can and will provide for His sheep. (Luke 12:32)
"Trust Him when dark doubts assail thee, trust Him when thy faith is small. Trust Him when to trust Him simply seems the hardest thing of all. Trust Him; He is ever faithful, trust Him, for His will is best; trust Him, for the heart of Jesus is the only place of rest. Trust Him then, through cloud and sunshine, all thy cares upon Him cast---Til the storms of life are over, and the trusting days are past!"

(Tomorrow I will post the remaining 4 "letters"...) (Thank you, Michael, for allowing me to share this with my readers - God bless you!!!)

Monday, October 17, 2011

~ "Money..."

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Prov 22:7)

Knowing that God will provide is something I've come to rely on and I know how very blessed I am. He sees to it that all my needs are met. I work five, sometimes six days a week to earn what is needed to pay my rent. I am provided food and beverage on those days that I work. I am offered leftover bread (I work in a hoagie shop) which I take home and turn into salad croutons and bread crisps. I recycle some of the condiments we use for other items (we sell marinated mozzarella and the olive oil that remains after we package them is placed in a container and I bring it home and use it to make those bread crisps). One thing I am not is hungry. Occasionally, I pass on my "good fortune" to others.

When you owe people money, it makes for a very uncomfortable situation. Most people cannot resist reminding the indebted that they "owe" and it causes alienation and separation almost all the time. There are a few people out there that will offer you assistance and then stand in the wings and place no pressure on you for the repayment. There are others who will hound you and hover like a hawk waiting. It is not a pleasant situation to be in. So, does this mean we should not borrow money? No. This verse warns us that we should not take on more than we can repay - we should not over extend ourselves. By the same token, when you lend money, lend only what you do not need. Lend it as though it will never be repaid.

In all that you do, especially financial matters, do it with God's blessing. Pray before lending, pray before borrowing. Seek His guidance in all matters! Ask yourself if what you're about to do will bring glory to God. Are your motives to honor Him or are they self-gratifying? Will you be making someone else's life a little better or yours? Is it a sacrifice on your part or a way to offset your own debt? Ask yourself that age-old question: What would Jesus do???

Sunday, October 16, 2011

~ "Someone Worth Dying For..."

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Phil 4:6)

I have spent most of my life wondering if I am "worth" anything. From high school, to broken relationships, a failed marriage, the alienation of family and friends, dead end jobs, financial losses, bad decisions - the cry is always the same: "God, when is it my turn to shine??? When is it my turn to be loved and cared for??? When is it my turn to be happy???"

In Philipians 4:6, Paul tells us not to worry. He tells us to turn our worries into prayers. We need to focus our energies on winning the race. Living a Christian life demands all of our energy. We constantly must fight against evil forces closing hovering around us and temptation from within (and remember, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak). We cannot forget the past. It haunts us. We strain to reach the goal because we know that Christ promised eternity with Him at the end of the race! If we stay true to God through it all, He promises an end, a rest and a crown!

We are, each of us, someone worth dying for! We are not "wandering souls" unknown to God. He knows each and every one of us. He knows our heart. He knows our pain and our fears. He knows our wants and our needs. He will bring all things to light in His time. Until then, we wait. We pray. We acknowledge that His will is greater than our own desires. He has told us often that we are worth more to Him than the birds of the air, the flowers or the trees. We are created in His image, so therefore, we are worth more!

Today I will give Him my all. I will rededicate all that I am to Him. I will continue to walk His path. I will offer Him all that I am and all that I have. Whatever life He has in store for me until my death belongs to Him. He is my salvation, my joy, my Christ!!!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

~ "Would you die for me???"

He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. (1 Thes 5:10)

Well, there I was...someone had injected a small radioactive bomb no bigger than a pin into my right shoulder. I was with two friends and one was so devastated by this that he cut a hole in his leg and began to stuff glass shards into his artery. He'd be fine as long as he remained seated. We waited at the doctor's office for what seemed like hours. Then, without any warning - the alarm clock sounded! Yes, my friends, a silly little dream, but a lot of insight.

How many people do you know that would willingly and wantonly die for you? Oh, we all know we would become human shields for our children, we would gladly give any organ we could to preserve their lives through surgery, and we would run into a burning building to rescue them. My silly little dream reminded me of a "YouTube" video I watched a few years back (if I can find it, I'll post it under "Worship Videos"). It was a story of love. A father's love for others. This father realized that without his intervention, many people would suffer and die. His son in harm's way. His father could have saved him, but then those people would have died. What was more important - the son's life or the lives of those he would save?

In the blink of an eye, we are saved. We are rescued by one man's love and another man's sacrifice. None of us are worthy, yet all of us are afforded the gift of life. If we delude ourselves into thinking that we deserve heaven, we are seriously deficient in humility. If we humble ourselves to the prospect that it is a gift paid for out of a Father's love and the blood of His Son...well, that's what it's all about. We cannot do anything worthy of this gift, nothing will ever be good enough - we will never be good enough! We are saved from death through the death of an innocent man - though Jesus! Only through Him can we reach the reward promised. What an awesome gift! What a generous act of love and compassion for sinners! We must be loved very much! How would you respond to that request? Would you die to self - give up your precious "life" - with all it's glitter and goodies - for Him? Has He called your name and you've turned a deaf ear to the sound of His voice? Would you die for Him???

Friday, October 14, 2011

~ "Everything is beautiful..."

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:28-29)

"There is neither Jew nor Greek - All are on a level; all are saved in the same way; all are entitled to the same privileges. There is no favoritism on account of birth, beauty, or blood. All confess that they are sinners; all are saved by the merits of the same Saviour; all are admitted to the same privileges as children of God. (Barnes Notes on the Bible)."

People are people. There are good people, there are bad people, there are rich people and there are poor people. Their demographics include all races and all religions. Their upbringing includes privileged and underprivileged. There are Christians and non-Christians. They come in all colors. They come in all sizes. The question one needs to ask with regard to marriage (or dating) is not whether you would date or marry someone outside your "race", but would you marry or date someone who does not belong to Christ. The subject of interracial marriage came up yesterday and I was asked if I would ever date anyone who wasn't "white". I chuckled to myself - for me that's a no-brainer. I don't generally use a color wheel to decide whether or not to date someone.

We are all descended from Adam. Narrowing that down just a bit further - we are all descended from Noah (the flood wiped out everyone but his family). It's not about the color of skin, but the content of heart, the condition of the soul and the God people serve that I look at when surrounding myself with friends. I am attracted to God-fearing people. Faith in Jesus transcends all differences and makes us all believers in one Christ! For many, it is a natural inclination to feel uncomfortable around those who are "different" from them; to gravitate towards those who resemble them. When we allow our differences to separated us from our fellow believers, we are disregarding the teaching set forth in verse 28. Seek out people who are like you spiritually, not people who fit into a certain class or status, race or ethnicity.

A "true" Christian believes inwardly and outwardly that Jesus' death has allowed God to offer them forgiveness and eternal life. We are challenged daily to live that life with His help. Do you live so that God will accept you, or do you know that you live because God has accepted you in Christ???

Thursday, October 13, 2011

~ "Why I do what I do..."

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. (2 Cor 5:11)

Someone asked me why I get up at 6:30 every morning, sit at my kitchen table and write something that only a few people read.  My response was the same as it is when someone asks me why I wrote a book:  "If just one person finds the Lord through what I have written, my time was well spent."  Here in Corinthians, Paul tells us that this is our assignment - our job, if you will - the persuade people.  We have no secrets from God.  He sees it all.  He knows our hearts and our desires.  He knows what it is we strive to be and what we fight against daily.  

Our lives never stop edging forward.  Each day passes and we can either continue to follow or stand still and stagnate.  For the Christian, there is no going backward.  You cannot undo your acceptance of Jesus.  Once you, yourself have accepted that He died on the cross, rose from the dead and lives forever, you cannot walk away.  He has bound your heart and soul up with His - He has made you an heir.  Sometimes its a struggle, sometimes its easy - but it is always worth it.

I do what I do because I want others to know the love of God, the blessings He has for each and every one of us.  I share my experiences, not for earthly gain or out of conceit - I share them out of love for what God has given me.  Nothing would please me more than to see each and every one of my family and friends come to know Jesus and honor and glorify Him daily!  Having religion jammed down one's throat brings only stubborn loathing and anger.  Yes, some of my postings are very strongly worded (some of God's words are, as well).  There is subject matter I am not comfortable in discussing and there are topics I stay away from simply because I am not as well versed in that subject matter as others are.  

What I am an expert in is knowing what confuses the hearts of those raised as I was raised.  I can see beyond the control techniques, the blatant lies taught and the illusion that only those in attendance will attain heaven.  I know the "religion" and the "rules" better than most and I know what God's word tells us - and that which was taught opposes that which is written.  Man cannot change the word of God.  Dispelling the myths could take me into the next century, but I will most likely not live that long!  I take each day as it comes and write what is laid on my heart (and some mornings I have to fill in the blanks).  

Allow your focus to be on what God wants for you and not what you want for yourself.  He may not ask you to crawl out of bed each morning and sit at a computer and share His word with others.  He may have something else planned for you.  You have to have an open mind and heart and be willing to receive it.  You will not find it if you're busy worshiping other gods.  So, in keeping with what He has laid on my heart - have you committed yourself to His way, to His truth and to His word?  Have you accepted that Jesus is the only way to Heaven?  Are you ignoring His voice within you because you are too busy accepting bribes from the enemy?  Allow Jesus to make your life new, allow eternal joy and happiness to be what you are heading to.  Let Him wipe away all your sins and commit to His way!  Make a name for yourself that is written in the book of life, not the annals of earthly history.  Make it a point to acknowledge Him in ALL things.  Come into His light, walk His path, receive His gift!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

~ "So close, yet so far..."

Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. (Ps 6:4)

The heart of David is truly humbled here.  "Sickness brought sin to his remembrance, and he looked upon it as a token of God's displeasure against him. The affliction of his body will be tolerable, if he has comfort in his soul. Christ's sorest complaint, in his sufferings, was of the trouble of his soul, and the want of his Father's smiles. Every page of Scripture proclaims the fact, that salvation is only of the Lord. Man is a sinner, his case can only be reached by mercy; and never is mercy more illustrious than in restoring backsliders. (Matthew Henry)".

We lift our eyes to the heavens and call upon His great name.  We are often so preoccupied with appearances that we forget that in God's eyes, they do not matter.  He does not move away from us, it is we who move away from Him.  We revert back into our lazy selves and find pleasure and comfort from everything but His word and His presence.  We feel estranged, often lost, sometimes neglected when we don't hear or feel His presence.  He is always there, right beside us - His hand is always on our shoulder.  

Someday, we will leave this earthly existence and go on to a place of either pain or suffering.  The destination is determined by what is in your heart, what is in your soul and what you know to be true.  Your faith in Jesus - in His life, death and resurrection, in what that means in terms of eternal life (your salvation), your confession of sin and your willingness to follow the laws of God.  

Who is your God?  Is He the Creator of Heaven and Earth or one of His creations?  There is only ONE TRUE GOD!!! Do you honor His name or use it to express shock, surprise or disbelief?  Do you ask Him to bless you or to condemn those around you?  Do you pray to Him or recite a monologue of memorized words written by someone else?  Do you pray to others as opposed to Him?  Is He your companion every day or just on Sunday mornings?  Is He everything to you?  

Come back to the Lord of Lords - the King of Kings!  He's calling you!  He wants you to return to Him.  He wants to hear the sound of your voice, the desires of your heart and the praises of His name.  He wants to bless you and comfort you.  He wants you to secure a place in Heaven with Him.  He wants to welcome you back with a chorus of angels and celebrate His righteousness.  He wants to forgive you!  Open your heart to all He has for you!  Open your heart to His way!

(photo by Tom Anderson)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

~ "Decisions..."

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope (La 3:19-21)

Jeremiah saw one ray of hope in all the sin and sorrow surrounding him: God's compassions never fail. Too often we feel left out, left behind and forgotten when we are in pain (be it physical or emotional). We call out to God and it seems like He either doesn't hear or refuses to answer. Not so. He hears. He never fails.

When we wander around in our own desert like the Israelites or enter into the place where we are to do His work and are received like Nehemiah in Jerusalem, our human nature causes us to question what it is we are doing and why we are doing it. Sometime those around you will tell you that you aren't who you are supposed to be and maybe it's time to make a change. Change is good, it is also scary. When you've done something for any amount of time, it becomes routine, habit, comfortable. When that act is removed, you are left with an empty place. Sometimes we become overwhelmed. Sometimes we just need our battery recharged.

There are things that the Lord will "release" you from, in His time. There are others that He will insist you continue to wait for, to have faith in, even when everyone around you says "it's hopeless". God's plan is not always understood by those who are not "privy" to it. Only you know what He has told you. Only you can make a decision to walk away or continue on. It just may be your test of faith!

Don't walk away from anything that glorifies God, even if you don't feel particularly led sometimes. Don't let the enemy convince you that you are unworthy, undeserving and wasting your time. Let that spark within you light your way - which is sometimes darker than you'd like. Let the light of the world shine on each and every step you take. Trust that He will illuminate the next one without projecting fear that He won't. He has His hand on your shoulder the whole time...He won't abandon you or let you fall. He'll continue to lead as long as you follow.

Compassion is love in action. God willingly responds with help when we ask. His compassion is greater than any sin we commit (and there is no sin in your life that is too great). He promises forgiveness. Dive into His word, reaffirm your faith in Him. Fill your soul with all the love it will hold - He holds you!

Monday, October 10, 2011

~ "Rested..."

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)

God knows exactly how much you can bear. Sometimes it seems like He has forgotten you. You wander alone, sobbing and crying for unknown reasons and without even so much as a blink of an eye, your pain is acknowledged and relieved (if only briefly). He wraps His arms around you and lets you know that you are loved and you are important to Him.

Sometimes the overwhelming feelings of loneliness and despair can cause you to want to walk away, seeking comfort from anything that will ease that pain. If you cry out to Him, He will hear and He will not let you fall. He knows your limits. And in that blink that turns your emotions around, and you come back to the softness of His wing and the quietness of His touch. He holds you.

Often when we think we cannot survive another day in this world, God shows us that with Him, we can. We will find His love in the simplest of things (a phone call from a friend, a visit from a child, and sometimes kisses from a dog). The laughter will return, the tears will fade and for a while, you will experience joy. Remember to thank Him for that, to honor Him and continue to walk in His ways! It's not all fun and games, but it's not all pain and suffering either. It's an evenly balanced just need to be willing to accept that the joys may not be newsworthy and the pain is nothing compared to Jesus' sufferings. It all comes full circle eventually. You just need to have faith in Him.

Take the ride - go the distance! Enjoy the moments of happiness when they come; let them sustain you in your pain and sorrow. Don't let loneliness be an excuse to walk away. Hang on to the promises in His word and know that He loves you more than anything. He will not let you fall into the hands of the enemy. He has a place for you in Heaven. Rest when you are weary, cry when you are sad, laugh when you are happy and at all times, pray! He loves you VERY much!!!

(photo: with my daughter, Colleen - 2008)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

~ "Kyrie..."

I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against thee. (Ps 41:4)

Kyrie Eleison (Greek for "Lord have mercy"; the Latin transliteration supposes a pronunciation as in Modern Greek) is a very old, even pre-Christian. It was a term I grew up on and had not heard in many years (somewhere around 1965, the Latin recitation was shelved for the "native" language of the country it was being said in). In late 1985, "Mr. Mister" released "Kyrie" - according to the Richard Page (co writer), the entire song is, essentially, a prayer.

The phrase "Kyrie Eleison" invokes the name of God - we cry out for mercy and ask for forgiveness. "The Bible often speaks of God's care for the poor and of His blessing on those who share this concern. God does not want the poor to suffer. God wants our generosity to reflect His own free giving; as He has blessed us, we should bless others (Life Application Study Bible)". We, the people of God, are not free from sickness, from poverty, from affliction. We also learn to take care of others who are likewise afflicted (through the example given to us by Jesus). But nothing disturbs us more than our own inner failings - the sins of our heart, if we truly follow Him.

Call on the Lord to heal your soul, ask Him to lighten the heavy load you bear (because He has paid for those sins). Ask Him to release you from the debt you owe, the pain you carry and the scars you exhibit as a result of your sins. Clear the path for an unobstructed walk with Him. "Sin is the sickness of the soul; pardoning mercy heals it, renewing grace heals it, and for this spiritual healing we should be more earnest than for bodily health (Matthew Henry)". Kyrie eleison...

Saturday, October 8, 2011

~ "Realizing your sins..."

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face. (Ps 89:14)

What an awesome God we serve!!!  Image: one day, all the wrongs will be righted, all the lies will be uncovered, all the evil will be abolished and His love will rule for eternity!  Just knowing that I will be witness to that gives me the courage and strength sometimes to walk forward when it's seems so hard.  

Lately, the sins of my past have been rearing their ugliness in my deteriorating brain.  They come out of nowhere and take up residence in my frontal lobe.  Very unsettling.  It has caused me to take the time to ask forgiveness for each of them and examine the dynamics of them.  "What was I thinking" is usually the first thought to cross my mind, followed by "oh, Lord, I am so sorry for being that person".  Our human failings can often cause us as much pain through realizing the wrongs we've done to others as those wrongs caused to those we inflicted it upon.  We hop on a bandwagon of belittlement and mean-spirited behavior and, if you follow the path of Jesus, it does come back again to be reckoned with.  All we can do at that point is bow our heads and ask for forgiveness.

When you walk with Jesus, it is a constant battle with Satan.  He wants you on his team.  He will open doors, remove roadblocks and tempt you with anything that he thinks will persuade you.  It is at those time that your strength must come from the Lord.  The enemy knows our weaknesses, but God knows our strength - He knows Him very well!  There is nothing that cannot be overcome with a sincere desire to submit to His will.  

Take up your cross and follow Him.  Let Him chip away at the defects that pull you away from Him - the one the enemy uses to distract you and lead you astray.  Let Him make you new!  Let God's justice and judgement find a righteous place in you and lead you to where the enemy can no longer reach you!  Let His mercy and truth light your path and guide you through this life into the next...

Friday, October 7, 2011

~ "Thoughts of prayer..."

Ask the former generations and find out what their fathers learned, for we were born only yesterday and know nothing, and our days on earth are but a shadow. (Job 8:8-9)

Life is short. We are given a certain amount of days to accomplish all that the Lord has planned for us. "We've no less days to sing His praise" - our days are numbered. Whether we start when He calls us, or years later, we have only an allotted time frame in which to do what we're called to do.

Merriam-Webster defines prayer as "an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought". Please note that even the dictionary discerns the difference between God and everyone else. My question is this: When are people going to wake up and realize that prayer for a Christian means praying ONLY TO GOD THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT??? What part of that are so many having difficulty with?

There are more than enough verses in God's word (aka THE BIBLE) that tell us that we are to offer prayer only to HIM. Spend time talking to Him, not someone who can neither hear you nor bless you. How much time do you spend in prayer? Is it with your morning coffee? Is it in the car on the way to work? Is it when something terrible is beginning to unfold? Is it just a passing statement that you make? Do you read His word daily, or just listen on Sundays when your preacher reads it before beginning his sermon? Is His word the book that you read to fall asleep by?

Start your day with your Creator! Ask Him to fill your day with His will, not yours. Approach everything you do as if He were standing right beside you (which, by the way, He is) watching over your shoulder. Do all that you do for His glory (even if it's cleaning toilets, mopping floors, answering phones or making beds). Sing His praises on the way to work. Take Him to lunch with you. Ride home with Him after work and invite Him to dinner. Ask Him to sit with you while you spend time with your family. Let Him tuck you in at night as you thank Him for the day you've been blessed with. Keep Him as close to you as you are to Him. Make Him as important to you as your soul is to Him. Put God first, above everything and everyone. Put His work before your own. Make Jesus the center of your life and the shadows of your life will be brighter than the darkest night. Let that light shine!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

~ "Sans-serif..."

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. (John 3:18)

I watched last night as my news feed on Facebook continued to scroll with the news of the death of Steve Jobs.  I sat a MacBook, listening to iTunes.  The very first computer to enter our home in the early 90's was an Apple IIe.  My brother-in-law had given it to my son.  He had used it in college.  My favorite program was "Print Shop".  With the use of a special floppy disk, a printer and continuous feed paper, you could make banner, have it say whatever you wanted and had multiple "fonts" to choose from.  In 1994, my son went off to college and when he came home for the holidays, he brought with him his Apple Performa.  I still have the box it came in (packed with something).  Needless to say, my family has owned PC's, but nothing compares to the quality and design of the Mac.  It is our preference and our choice (yes, we all have a MacBook).  Steve Jobs' innovation will be missed in my home!

The choices we make in life are reflected in what we have been introduced to; what we have come to know.  Our choices stem from comparison, application, availability and what we are "comfortable" with.  Serving God for me, has been a decision I do not regret.  I know that when all is said and done, I will rejoice in Heaven with Him.  But what about those who choose to follow "other gods" - what about all their successes here on earth?  Do they not count for anything?  Are all their good works, great ideas and innovative inventions done in vain?  Sadly enough, without God, you have nothing.  Without Jesus, there is no Heaven.

We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that God will make exceptions for the brilliant, the givers, the innovators and the geniuses.  They are all afforded the same opportunity to follow that the struggling Christian is afforded.  It is sad, but it is their choice.  Sometimes the smartest people are the dumbest ones.  They "think" too much for their own good.  They analyze what they should just trust.  They build and create an environment that does not include God.  Why would He made an exception for them?  All He asks is that we believe and have faith!  It's not rocket science (or in Mr. Jobs' case, computer science).  Use the gifts and talents God gives you, and give back to Him through your faith, devotion and prayers.  Rejoice in His will for you (even if it's not what you'd like).  Accept His will for you (even if you don't understand it).  Acknowledge His will for you (approach it with a smile and devotion).  

Without God, without Jesus, without the Holy Spirit - all you have is the air that you breathe.  Someday you will take your last breath and what comes next will be determined by how you lived your life here.  Will you be able to say "I have honored Your name, I have sung Your praises, I have followed Your path"...will you hear "this one is known to me" and "well done"???  Don't guess - be sure!  Get to know God now - before you see His face, for if you don't you will only see it once!  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

~ "...endless, passive waiting!!!"

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. (1 Cor 1-7-9)

I have mentioned before that if you pray for patience, you will be met with situations that require you to wait. So, here I sit! Waiting! I am waiting on the Lord to show me the next part of His plan for me.

Many of us struggle each day to hold onto the faith we have. We know we will never be perfect, but we can have perfect faith! Taking a deep breath, biting our tongue, and not over stepping our boundaries helps to keep our lives in check. Sometimes we need to walk away. Satan is what keeps drawing us back. He wants us under his thumb. He tempts and taunts.

No one knows the pain you carry in your heart except the Father. He has watched you breathe and grow all these years, waiting for you to come to Him and ask Him in. Through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, He makes His will known to you. Without the trinity, you have nothing but emptiness. Without His love, you have only sorrow ahead of you. How sad. People would rather enjoy a life filled with empty happpiness than an eternity of pure joy.

Sometimes the Lord moves you to place you in a better situation. Sometimes He moves you to be a blessing to others. Sometimes He moves you so that you can see the reality of a situation. Sometimes He moves you simply to see if you will follow. He waits patiently for you - now it's your turn to wait patiently for Him.

What may seem to take years to arrive, will change your life in the blink of an eye. The joys He has in store for you can manifest themselves in an instant. The result will be a greater blessing than you could have ever imagined. Your prayers will be answered and you will rejoice. You know what He doesn't want for you, so the time spent waiting should be time spent in prayer. Focus on His will for you, not what you want His will for you to be! Sometimes they are one in the same, but most often His blessing is greater than your desire!

Quiet your heart, your mind and your soul and wait. "Be still". "Know". "Rejoice!"

(photo by Sandra Wood)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

~ "Three weddings and a few decades later..."

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. (Rom 12:15)

My first fiance and I set our wedding date for October 4, 1975. That day came and went and he got married in April 1976, but not to me. Out of necessity, his wife and I became very good friends. Out of love for one another, we've remained friends. When they divorced, she offered to give him back to me - I decided to keep her instead - she was much better company. Some years later, I attended her second wedding, and that same year, she walked down the aisle as one of my bridesmaids. We have shared many joys and many sorrows. She rejoiced with me at the birth of my daughters (one even carries her name as their middle name) and I have wept with her at the death of a child. We still joke, laugh and cry at certain memories. She is more like a sister than a friend and I cherish the history God has allowed us to build.

I have other friends - friends I've shared laugher and tears with, crazy and insane stunts, friends I've known since Kindergarten and elementary school. I have a few friends from high school. I have friends from my "married" life and friends I made through my children. I have friends from church. I have friends I'm made through work and friends I'm met on the internet. I cherish them all. I rejoice with them, I weep with them.

Our heavenly Father calls us to be compassionate and understanding. He calls us to love and honor, to respect and support those who are part of our lives. Our joys are made up of little fragments of our lives, as are our tears. We can laugh and weep in solitude, but they do not take on the same fullness as when shared with others. Jealousy has no place in true friendship. The constant "stealing" of the lives, dreams and desires of others (or stealing their thunder), takes away from that bond that holds a friendship together. Always being the "needy" friend and never the "giver" does not insure for a lasting friendship - it only serves to hold the friend hostage. All relationships, like a marriage, are give and take. Some days you take more, some days you give more. Balance is the key.

Sharing your life with someone else can be scary and joyful all at the same time. Letting someone "in" to get to know you a little better can leave you open to hurt; yet without taking that chance, you could lose a good friend before you ever have the chance to make one. Opening your heart to God poses no chance of hurt or loss. He offers you a love and a companionship that is unlike any other you've ever had or will ever experience. Take the chance to get to know Him. Thank Him for the opportunity to experience the joys and the sorrows of your life. Praise Him and give Him glory - rejoice! He is the key to your happiness (regardless of what others may tell you). Put Him first and keep Him first! His blessings are real, they are glorious and they are eternal! You are loved! Don't ever forget that!!!

(photo by Sandra Wood)

Monday, October 3, 2011

~ "A Political Questions (by Grammy Blick)"...

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 KJV)

Occaionally, I feature a guest writer. Today's post comes to you from "Grammy Blick's Bible Reading" Blogspot. Grammy is a mom to three, a Grammy to seven and a Great-Grammy to nine! In the short time I have known her, I have received a lot of insight from her posts. With all the political drama taking up the airwaves and the press, Grammy sheds light on an issue that is fast becoming a serious problem in this nation!

"Want to have fraternity brothers over to watch your school’s football games for the season? Want to invite your Red Cross blood drive volunteers over for a dinner meeting, with follow up visits? Holding political fund-raisers at your home to help your favorite candidate? Would you enjoy a barbecue with your Sunday School class monthly?

According to the Capistrano Dispatch, don’t try such law-breaking activities in San Juan Capistrano in California. You will have ‘…violated section 9-3.301 of the Capistrano Municipal Code, which prohibits “religious, fraternal or non-profit” organizations in residential neighborhoods without a conditional-use permit.’ You might be able to do it once without someone complaining, but not on a regular basis according to the fines paid by the Fromm family.

This is not the same issue that faced David and Mary Jones in Bonita, California (click here for Channel 10’s report) back in 2009 where the initial complaint originated in parking disputes. The Fromm’s have enough land to take care of attendee’s vehicles, which seems to be a question in Gilbert, Arizona, where the Oasis of Truth church cannot hold any religious meetings in any home in their town:
The town contends that, under its zoning code, churches within its borders cannot have any home meetings of any size, including Bible studies, three-person church leadership meetings, and potluck dinners. This ban is defended based upon traffic, parking, and building safety concerns. However, nothing in its zoning code prevents weekly Cub Scouts meetings, Monday Night Football parties with numerous attendees, or large business parties from being held on a regular basis in private homes. In fact, the zoning code explicitly allows some day cares to operate from homes.
Notably, the church only met for a few hours a week in members’ homes, and would rotate to different homes weekly. Further, the church was quite small, consisting of just seven adult members, including three married couples, and their four children.

The constitution addresses this specifically, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” which means any government entity within the United States cannot impose any religion, nor can it prohibit its citizens from their own. The depth of government entities extended from Congress through the 14th Amendment to include the states – not just for slavery, and including religion.

Where’s the biblical application? For me it’s:

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25 KJV)

We do that in fellowship on Thursday nights in a friend’s home – we pray before our meal, and often share specific prayer requests. This could be construed as a religious organization in a residential home, even though most of the evening consists of domino games.

Why – with no one parked on the street, no music, no interference with the neighborhood – why would city, county, state or federal governments be concerned with this meeting? In honesty, why would any neighbor?

The ability for Americans to assemble is protected, whether that assemblage is on Wall Street for protesting, or in my home for praying, and I rely on the confidence that this will not change in my country.

That’s my view – shared with but not imposed on others."

You can follow Grammy Blick at

(Grammy Blick took this photo in the Caribbean in 2005 - Aren't the clouds and their reflections beautiful? God does good work!)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

~ "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)..."

I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. (Ps 116:13)

In every moment of every day, there is an opportunity to come closer to the Lord of Heaven and Earth!  With each breath we take, with each step we take, we come closer to meeting Him face to face.  That day will come.  It may be today, it may be tomorrow, it may be fifty years from now - but it will come!  Are you prepared???

We'd all like to think that we are.  So often what we've been taught is inaccurate.  It's not what's expected of us.  It's not the pathway to Heaven.  We need to be sure we are on the right road.  "But how will I know?"  Quite simple:  humble yourself before God and call on the name of Jesus!  

Christ's death tore the curtain that separated us from God.  His resurrection opened the gates of Heaven.  We no longer hide in the shadow of man.  We are part of His glorious triumph over death!  We are His - we are who He died for!  He has made straight the path on which we travel.  He has given us eternal life with Him.  One man, who came to earth with one purpose - to save us from sin and give us a glimpse into what the afterlife offers us.  Jesus!  Our saving grace!

Spend today in awe of the miraculous and astounding presence of the Lord!  Offer Him the rest of your life through devotion to Him and the Word of God!  Share His love with others!  Open your heart to the fullness that can be attained simply by knowing Him!  Come to Jesus...and live!!!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

~ "Justified by faith..."

How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. (Rom 4:10-12)

Circumcision was an outward sign for the Jews.  It set them apart from nations who worshiped other gods.  It showed that they were God's chosen people.  The ceremony in which Jewish boys were circumcised was very important (it still is today).  God gave the blessing and the command for this ceremony to Abraham.  

Rituals did not earn any rewards for Abraham.  His blessings were bestowed long before circumcision was introduced to the Jewish people.  Abraham was blessed by God because he found favor with God.  His faith is was set him apart, not his circumcision.  Genesis tells us that he was 99 years old when this ceremony came into existence.  

Ceremonies and rituals remind us of our faith.  They do not give us any special "pass" into heaven, they do not give us any special merit before God.  They are outward signs of obedience, but they show inner belief and trust.  Just as circumcision shows faith and trust in God, baptism shows a desire for change, a desire for forgiveness of sin and a willingness to follow Jesus.  The focus of our faith should be on Christ and His saving work, not on our own actions.  Taking it one step further, you cannot buy a child's way into heaven through infant baptism.  Again, baptism does not guarantee anyone a place in the kingdom.  It is merely a ceremony and an action that commits a life to the belief in Christ.  Baptism does not wash away sins, God does through the blood of Christ.  

We are saved by faith.  Period.  It is not a mathematical equation (loving God + good works; faith + love + good works; faith + good works).  We are saved through Christ - by trusting Him to forgive our sins.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we give Him our sins, He forgives us and makes us right before God.  We cannot earn it, nor can we buy it (through works, ceremonies or rituals).  If people chose to continue to worship their "gods" and enjoy their sins - they will not benefit from the gift (whether they have been circumcised or baptized or anything else) - the FREE gift of God's mercy and grace...eternal life!!!

(photo by Celia Darrigo)