Monday, December 31, 2012

Forgetting (what lies behind) and Not Fretting in 2013

Considering I am no longer a spring chicken, I have spent a good portion of the first half of my life being a worry wart and filling my mind with "What if's..." Those "what if's" never got me anywhere, except maybe up to the drug store to buy more wrinkle cream! Last night, I was listening to a very wise woman, my friend who taught a ladies study when I was younger, Mrs. Judy Seligman. She talks about how the nature of women is to have "what if's" occupy our mind, filling them with anxiety. She suffered this herself many years ago, but quickly found the antidote in casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself agains the the knowledge of God.

I listened (or actually re-listened to a ladies study) last night while typing away at my keyboard.

This morning when I got up, anxious thoughts started to permeate my mind, taking away my peace. I thought to myself,

"Am I just going to keep on thinking the same old way, getting myself all worked up over nothing?" The thoughts kept on invading.

In her message, Judy gave a life saving truth that would help so many if only they could hear it. As Christians, the enemy shoots all kinds of thoughts in our heads. But we do NOT have to accept them. We can say no to them and not dwell on them. We have the power to refuse them and combat them with the Scriptures of Truth.
I said no to the thought and God by His grace took the anxiety and worry over the thing out of my mind. It was gone, not by striving, but by His grace.

The next minute, the very thing I had been worried about, getting an important phone call, came, without one minute's agitation or stewing or fretting.

This has taken me half of my life to turn. I am a S L O W learner. Thank God for His patience.

I love this Word from the book of Zechariah:

Zec 4:6 So he answered and said to me: "This [is] the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' Says the LORD of hosts.

Zec 4:7 'Who [are] you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel [you shall become] a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone With shouts of "Grace, grace to it!" ' "

It is not by any great attempt on my part, but by God's Spirit that I overcome the spirit of anxiety. Shout "Grace!" at the mountain that seems impossible.

Jesus says:

Mat 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.

I guess He really means it!! I always had to overthink that verse. That verse just seemed too simple for me. No, if I would have just believed that verse, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.

Well, the end of 2012 fast approaches. I have been taught a lot of wisdom. I don't want to let it slip away as the new year rolls on in. Happy New Year everyone! Here's to forgetting (what lies behind) not fretting in 2013!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hope I Always Have Room in my Inn

Luke 2: 7

"And she brought for her firstborn Son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because


Hmmmm. I've read that verse a million times. Dare I say I've grown familiar with it? Yes, baby Jesus was born in a cold dark stable. God knew it was going to happen from eternity past.

But do I grasp what it means for me personally? The Lord of all Lords, King of all Kings, had to be born in a filthy barn with dirty animals surrounding Him because humanity had no place for Him. Thus it has always been so. Rignt down to this very moment in church history.

OK, without raising too many eyebrows here, if I were to suggest we were living in the church of Laodecia (at least in most Western cultures), could it be that Jesus may not be welcome in our inns either? For He does say to His church (not the world, if you look carefully)in Revelation 3: 20:

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."

You see, previously He addressed six other churches. Laodecia is the last church He speaks to.He wasn't exactly pleased with Laodecia. They are out of fellowship with Him. They have lots of "Christian" things going on. But yet He is outside, knocking on the door, waiting to be invited in, so that He can fellowship with them...(us??)

I just read an amazing book from Voice of the Martyrs called These are the Generations
by Mr and Mrs.Bae as told to Rev. Eric Foley:

It tells of a generation of a family in North Korea who has managed to stay fervently Christian in spite of their antichrist government. The believers there say they pray for us in Western countries because we are so distracted by our materialism. They hear the knock of Jesus better than we do. He is drowned out by the call of materialism here.

He is no longer in that manger. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Rev. 19: 16) He is coming back quickly. He has His reward with Him.(Rev. 22: 12) My prayer is that I would make room in my inn for Him this day and every day.

Merriest of Christmases everyone. The most blessed fact is no matter how much we have failed in the past, today it is always 70x7 (meaning infinite) with our God. If you never made room, or never believed on Him before, there is nothing like Today for:

2Cr 6:2 For He says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Fear Not...

Luke 2: 10-14

"And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great
joy which, which shall be unto all people

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is CHRIST THE LORD.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,


When I was a little girl, my sisters and I would yearly put on a Christmas show for my parents after our Christmas service at our Presbyterian church. My older sister had us recite the entire Christmas story from the book of Luke. We sang Christmas carols, while she played the piano. We wore red corduroy skirts that she had sewn. What fond memories I have of those days! It was a blessing more for us to "give" by practicing the Scripture recitation, copying down the carol verses and buying goodies to serve afterwards at the grocery store after church service. You see, we girls anticipated that night for weeks ahead. Though it was a little thing, it meant a lot to us. It is a vivid memory of Christmas past in all of our minds...

Thus the passage in Luke became near and dear to my heart. The angel's words to the shepherds are especially meaningful this Christmas, however. Last time I shared how I was not really in the "Christmas spirit" in light of world events. Well, if you look around, the angels words telling us to "fear not" are especially comforting today.

There was a Christian pastor from Romania named Reverend Richard Wurmbrand who was persecuted by the Communists for speaking for, and preaching Christ, behind the Iron Curtain after the end of World War II. He shared in his book, Tortured for Christ:

"In the Bible, the words “Don’t be afraid” occur 366 times. Once for every day of the year. And because there is the extra day for the leap year, it is not 365 times, but 366 times. I knew that even in the hands of the secret police, I am in the hands of the almighty God and this gave quiet to my heart."

Isn't that a "God thing?" One of these days, I want to find all of them and write them all down. Now that would be a worthwhile challenge! Anyone up for it?

In this Age of Anxiety, God gives us 366 fear nots, one for every day, even leap day. I am trying to stay away from the media and want to spend more time in God's Divine Message. If I was to spend the rest of my life immersed in it, doing nothing else, I would not even scratch the surface! I guess that is why John the Beloved Apostle, speaking of Jesus' works, ended His Gospel with:

"And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." John 21: 25

Look not to media and shudder. Look at His Message of Glorious Great News and rejoice with "exceeding great joy." Matthew 2: 10

Friday, December 14, 2012

It's beginning to NOT look like Christmas...

Are you scratching your head in shock, like I am, at the awful tragedy that unfolded on the innocent young children today in Sandy Creek, CT? Or the mall shooting in Portland just a couple days ago? Or the Black Friday mobs which resulted in injuries and the shootings in the parking lots around Thanksgiving?

How about the insanity of the marketing to get just the right present or to be flashy enough for the company Christmas party? Overindulging in goodies and imbibing strong drink, forgetting the pain hidden inside for a while? Is that what the season represents?

What happened to Christmas? What happened to celebrating Jesus' birth on this planet? Or thinking about peace on earth and good will toward men?

I feel a disconnectedness with the whole thing this year, to be honest. Not about the Christ part. But getting excited about the celebrating part. Even decorating has been mostly a chore for me.

"Where's your Christmas spirit?" you say.

It kind of went away with the daily reports of disasters everywhere. The Phillipines being hit by the huge typhoons and hundreds upon hundreds losing their homes. Earthquakes occurring everywhere. The North Korean Christians that are starving in their prison cells, while their government shoots off missiles. These are brothers and sisters I cannot forget.

You could probably call me a Scrooge, but I think Christmas has fundamentally changed since we took God out of our schools, since it has been proclaimed that we are no longer a Christian nation.

I celebrate Christmas because He came. His first advent is an undisputed fact, no matter what men try to tell us in the history books. Those little children in Connecticut never had a chance to grow up and find out for themselves what those books said.

All I know is that the world in which I grew up and celebrated Christmas is no more. There are very few constants, like death and taxes. The one thing that's constant, in which I rely is my Savior. He promised that He would never change, and that He would be faithful to be all I need Him to be, even when everything around me crumbles.

Let's face it: this is an excruciatingly sad day for many people. Their Christmas, no, their very lives are completely shattered. We need to pray for them and for this country.

Let us hang on to the ONE thing that remains the same yesterday, today and forever: THE SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. He alone is the light in this darkened world.

If you're not sure if you know Him, TODAY you can receive Him by believing that He came into this world to pay for your sin debt and mine (indeed all the world's) when He died upon the cross, bearing our sins. As the events of this world get scarier and more uncertain,(because God will eventually judge His enemy the devil and his evil works and the unbelievers), there is no better time than NOW to put your trust in Christ (John 3:16-17). In spite of the terrible tragedy that occurred today, you can be sure that Christmas is meaningful in that Christ came down having YOU in His mind when He went to that cross.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Oh, Come let us adore Him!

I once took a Bible study course called The Way of Agape, based on the book by Mrs. Nancy Missler. Learning the definition of agape of in I Corinthians 13 caught me up short on the difference between God's love and human love.We are told in Isa. 55:8 "For My thoughts [are] not your thoughts, Nor [are] your ways My ways," says the LORD.

How I could meditate on that one verse for a lifetime, especially in regard to God's agape love versus my own human love. My human love, oh how it falls so very short of God's kind of love.

The very best human love is no match for God's love. If you really want to know what God's love is like you need look no further than Jesus. Sometimes, when we do something nice, we may be tempted to think that we have pleased God because of that. But if we are not fulfilling I Corinthians 13 perfectly, then we need the rightousness of Another. Thank God there is One who did fulfill it perfectly on our behalf, and offers His own righteousness as a free gift. (II Corinthians 5: 21)

Now we are in the supposed "season of good cheer." It saddens me though as I see the twinkle of lights, the glitter, the rush in finding the perfect present. Is this the way to find and give agape love? It always reminds me of a kind of desperation. The days of December on my part of the planet are short, gloomy and dark. Men seem to try to comfort themselves in the giving of gifts, feasting and decorating.

Is that what its all about? Or is agape about the Kenosis of the Savior?

Consider Philippians 2: 3-11:

3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men, 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of a cross.
9 Therefore God has highly exalted HIM and given HIM the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of JESUS every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is LORD, to the glory of God the Father.

In verse 6 of Philippians 2 we hear of the kenosis of Christ, which comes from the root word kenoo (#2756). From the Blue Letter Bible study helps, we see that the Strong's definition of this word means to:

1) to empty, make empty

a) of Christ, he laid aside equality with or the form of God

That is our example, our role model. He didn't think about Himself. Ahhh, so very much unlike me, whose first thought is for her own comfort.

As He lay in the manger, He was holding the molecules together that kept the universe in existence, yet He chose to limit Himself to being a baby. He chose to feel the things we feel: hunger, pain, betrayal, loneliness, all the sufferings of being a human on this tiny planet spinning in the universe. He had to leave the adoration of all the angels and the love of His Father, and He chose to do so, for our sakes, willingly.

His thoughts are not our thoughts. His love is not human love. Oh, to know Him (Phil. 3:10) and to show that kind of love to others. My life is in vain if that is not my daily aspiration.

In John 6: 67, it says:"Then Jesus said to the twelve,"Do you also want to go away?'"

68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go, You have the words of eternal life."

He alone has the words of eternal life. As we take in His Words and make them a part of us, may His thoughts become our thoughts, so that out of our hearts shall flow
rivers of living water. (John 7: 38)

It is so very right to sing: "Oh, come let us adore HIM!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Staring into the Heavens One Night...

Have you ever beheld a starlit night so beautiful it took your breath away?

One night I was on a hayride out in the middle of nowhere on a ranch in Northern Arizona. All my mountains of problems were put in place instantly when I viewed the night sky, as I could say nothing but, "Thank you, Lord."

In the town where we live, we don't see too many stars usually because of clouds and light pollution. Out there, there was none of that. I was at a low point in life: my marriage was on shaky ground, I had trouble with my children, and overall, I was pretty devastated. Yet God says " a bruised reed shall He will not break..." Matt. 12: 20.

My family of origin and their children were at this lovely ranch along with my parents in honor of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. We rode horses, ate delicious food, hiked, and enjoyed the lovely mountain climate of Northern Arizona.But inside I was hiding inner pain. Only my younger son was with me. My older son was on tour in Iraq. that year. Others wouldn't/couldn't come. My sisters had all their families with them. There was a barn dance going on but I really had no one to dance with because it was just me and my teenager, while my sisters had their husbands and all of their children. I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

All of a sudden, I heard one of the cheery camp leaders call out that they were going on a hayride, would any of us care to join them? I didn't have any one to dance with anyway, so I slipped away from the square dance and joined some strangers on the hayride. I got on with a wrong attitude, poor little old me.

But as I held my head up, peering into the heavens, I saw the glowing ring of the Milky Way that I had never seen before. Quite simply, I was in awe of God, His magnificent creation, and my own human fraigility.

I thought of the verses which told me that His thoughts were so higher than my thoughts, they were as high as the heaven was above the earth.(Isaiah 55:9) That is how much greater God thinks than my little old mind does. If I need wisdom, why do I think I would have one scintilla of the knowledge He would to know how to solve my problems?(Psalm 39: 4)

David told us in the book of Psalms, "The heavens declare the glory of God..." (Psalm 19:1) As I rode that little wagon that night, I tasted the majesty of God in viewing the beauty of His starry creation, and acknowledging Him as the Mighty Creator.

Scripture also tells us "The fool says in his heart there is no God." Psalm 53:1 I could not fathom how anyone could have looked up into the Milky Way that night and deny that a Creator had put that into existence. How could that have come just form a flash of matter, like the evolutionists claim?

Two thousand years ago, some Kings from the East saw a beautiful, new star in the heavens. One that they had never seen before. They carefully calculated and travelled to the place where the star shone its light, over the city of Bethlehem. I love what it says in the book of Matthew about these Oriental kings: When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." Matthew 2:10 These men were rich, they had knowledge, but when...they found the babv, a brand new joy came to them, something this world could not and would not ever give.

The Bible says God's ways are not our ways. We would have Christ come as a King, but He came as helpless baby. The stars above reflect not their own glory, but His.

He is the very reason all things in this world are held together. (Colossians 1: 17)

Just like the wisemen from the East,we, too, are happiest when we are busy revealing His glory and not our own.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Gratitude or Grumbling, Part II

As today is the last day of November, I wanted to do an update on my "Gratitude or
Grumbling" post from Tuesday. I had this "funny feeling" when I posted it that I was going to be tested on it. Well, let's just say the last couple days have been kind of rough for me. The enemy has been taunting me with "Look at how much good that did you!" admidst days of unresolved issues in my life.

I know condemnation is not of the Lord. (Romans 8:1) But I was feeling pretty condemned, truthfully. But I have this, this only as I cling to the Lord: He is not in the business of giving up on His kids.( Hebrews 13:5) He loves me unconditionally. (John 3: 16) God's love is not at all like human love.(I John 3:1) That is all I need, period.

He demonstrated that love when He died on that cross for me.(I John 4: 10) He knows my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak. (Romans 7: 15) I am still thanking Him for things, even things that are hurting. The promise in Romans 8:28 still says, if I love Him, He will work all the tattered pieces of my life together for good. He promised. He does not lie. He does not change.(Malachi 3:6) You think I am writing this just for readers? I speak to myself first!

Sometimes, when you walk around, did you ever notice all the broken people you see? Those people that are "down on their luck," so to speak? One guy I see around the neighborhood has some kind of problem, he talks to himself incoherently and to others the same way. Most people hurry away from him. Jesus, If Jesus saw that man today, all scruffy and unkempt,He'd find a way to graciously communicate with him. Another old fellow walks down the street very slowly with a cane. He can even hold up traffic at times. One time I helped him with a door or something. I was tempted to be impatient because he was so slow. Then he told me he was blind in his one eye. He may have been injured in battle sometime. All of a sudden, I was ashamed of myself for being so thoughtless and uncaring. Jesus has all the time in the universe to care about people's needs....But my window of opportunity to show love and do good is fleeting quickly. In fact, Christ lived outside of time, in eternity. That's why He never was flustered and frantic like we are.

These two men reflect beatings on the outside, but we all have them, whether inside or out. Though we don't show them, we are just as roughed up as they are, even though many people might not want to admit it. Though my troubles rose rapidly to the surface after I set my mind to think gratefully, I am identified with the Greatest Victor in the Universe. (I Cor. 15: 57) If I set my mind on the things above, not the things of earth (Col. 3:1-2), my heart will remain grateful. If I fail, I pick myself back up again, confess it to God, for He will forgive and cleanse me up to "70 x 7" (meaning an infinite amount.) What more could a daughter of God want?

Thank you Lord for even allowing the hard trials into my life so that I will run back to You. Amen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Grumbling or Gratitude?

A thought popped into my head the other day, amongst the millions of irrelevant or harmful ones that daily course into my brain. I know it was a God thought. I have done a lot of "gritching" lately. (Combo of the word "griping" and the word for a female dog.) I have issues with chronic pain which often puts me into a less than cheerful state. Often times where I live, the weather is gloomy, and it affects me. There have been ongoing trials in my life and I tend to feel sorry for myself. I am ashamed to admit these things because I have the Word of God available to me for access 24/7. No excuse.

The thought was: What if every time I grumbled I would immediately replace it by giving thanks? Paul tells us:

1Th 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

He did not say, in some things did he? Well then, I guess this could include when things don't go my way, like when I repeatedly drop things and have to bend over and get them, even if I hurt. Or if a situation doesn't change, even if I have prayed for years about it. Or if I see chaos everywhere. No, God is sovereign. He knows every detail of my life, and if I love Him (and ONLY if I love Him) He promises to work every apparently "bad" situation in my life for the good. (Romans 8:28) In that I can truly rejoice!!

Sometime thoughts come in and they go out just as quickly. But this one has managed to stay with me for a little while now. It is my prayer that it will not leave me. (That is, the giving of thanks whenever I find myself getting mad, which I admit, is often.)

I was so blessed at church this Sunday, a guest pastor stood in for our regular pastor, both of whom are tremendous teachers of the Word. He mentioned the Beatitudes. When Jesus talked about the poor in spirit being blessed in Matthew 5: 3, He used the word "ptochos." It is from the Strong's Lexicon of the Greek New Testament #4434. It means:

1) reduced to beggary, begging, asking alms

2) destitute of wealth, influence, position, honour

a) lowly, afflicted, destitute of the Christian virtues and eternal riches

b) helpless, powerless to accomplish an end

c) poor, needy

3) lacking in anything

a) as respects their spirit

(I copied and pasted this from the Blue Letter Bible website, a free online Bible study source.)

We have to see ourselves that way. It was the first Beatitude! Blessed are we when we see ourself that way! The Pharisees hated Jesus because they thought they were respectable. When we realize grace is ALL OF GOD and none of us, then we really can thank Him for everything.

Jam 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

That includes our little everyday trials. God wants to reward us in eternity. If we can bless and thank Him instead of grumbling, He will be able to do so. This is just an insight He has shown me. Yesterday I was working around the house pretty hard and everytime something happened that tempted me to get mad, I was reminded to thank Him and it made all the difference. I didn't do it perfectly, not at all, but it did make such a change in my attitude and outlook. It energized me.

Oh Lord, my prayer is that I will not forget this. I am daily bombarded with information overload. Bring this to my remembrance today and everyday, Amen.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Give Thanks, for He is Good!

We are instructed to give thanks in all things. To many of us, maybe it seems like there is not a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving compared to past years. Personal trials seem to go on forever, the economic and moral decline of a once great nation, the disasters that are hitting this planet without letup. Every night on the news you hear of murders like it was nothing anymore. What has happened to law and order in our society? Everything is breaking down.

But wait! God has not forsaken us has He? (Hebrews 13:5) No, I still have so much to be thankful for. For in these things, it forces me to run for Him like never before. To take refuge before the coming storm. (And there is one coming.)

Thank you God, I have food for tomorrow's feast.

Now, I am not going overboard with dinner. I have reached a point where that's all just too much now. Turkey and a couple side-dishes, and a wheat free pumpkin pie. Surely that is an overwhelming gift that millions of poor people on this planet would be thrilled to receive.

The rest of the holidays? I can't get into Black Friday shopping. To tell you the truth, I love celebrating the Incarnation, but the mass hysteria of gift-giving gets less and less appealing each year. It reminds me of desperation.
People desperately trying to find happiness in the way of buying presents for each other. That's not what its all about. There's got to be a simpler way...

I'll give a few small gifts, to be sure. But I just can't go into a shopping frenzy, not with what is happening all over the planet. Wars, starvation, homelessness...but most of all- people dying and going into an eternity without Christ. That is the biggest tragedy of all.

Still, in the midst of sorrow and pain in the world, I know God's love manages to conquer in unexpected ways. I was privileged to share a couple of shoeboxes with Operation Christmas Child. Children that have nothing learn about Jesus through this shoebox ministry. My friends Jane and John lay down their lives at a Methodist church nearby to do their part to make this a reality for many children. They receive an awesome blessing in return. They give thanks they can participate in this! It is a blessing to give to others. Together, with many others, thousands upon thousands of children will receive gifts, but more importantly, hear about Jesus.

Whenever I am overcome by sorrow, when I lift my voice to praise my God it always lifts my spirit. Praising Him is for God's benefit but it benefits us too. It takes our eyes off ourselves and our problems, and raises them to God and His infinite abilites, His "dunamis" power, that can solve any "little" problem I may have. My afflictions suddenly don't seem so big anymore...

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy...
For He satisfies the longing soul,
And fills the hungry with goodness."

Psalm 107: 1,2,9

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Passing of a Sweet and Gentle Man

I had posted on my blog here a few weeks back about the death of my blessed neighbor, Mrs. Anna Paraskos, who died from liver cancer on October 7, 2012. Well, there is much more to the story. It wasn't just that she had died, causing great grief to her four lovely daughters and grandchildren that "rose up and called her blessed.". (Proverbs 31: 28) No, she left a gaping hole in the heart of her beloved husband John.

I didn't know Mr.P. as well as I had known his wife. What I did know about him was this: that he was a very smart man with a good job working for Chevron that got him transferred from Pittsburgh to California. In my post previously, I thought the family had left earlier than they did, apparently it was not until the 1980's. Mr. Paraskos and his family brought blessings to the families of Willoughby Road, there in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.

Every time I saw him, he had a smile on his face. He was soft-spoken and many times when I visited their house he would be sitting on the couch with a Bible in his hand. I know they attended a Baptist church. One summer I attended their vacation Bible school and they drove me back and forth. I was delighted to learn more about Jesus there. I felt at home in their house too. They were down to earth people, they carried no airs about them, everyone was welcome there.

I don't know the complete story but suffice it to say Mr. P suffered from serious health conditions for a long time. While his wife was in her end stages of her death shadowed valley, he also was in hospice. He was on a ventilator for quite some time. The daughters posted about his condition and we prayed that he might rally and pull through. Like the Apostle Paul, they asked that they would be spared "sorrow upon sorrow." (Philippians 2: 27)

God called Mr. P home only twenty-five days after the death of his wife on November 2, 2012. Perhaps her death had caused him so much grief that he just couldn't fight anymore. I like to think that God took Mr. P to His side before more terrible things happen on this earth. We can rejoice in the fact that precious to God was the death of his saint, Mr. John Paraskos. (Psalm 116:15)

I can't imagine the girls' pain. What faithful daughters they all were. They were right there when their parents hour of need came. I hope to be like them when the time comes for me with my parents. And the tribute they gave to their parents definitely shows what kind of parents they were. Loving. God-fearing. Gracious. Faithful.

Heather, the youngest daughter, shared Mr. P's dying words. He said: "There she is! Out of the ground and then Elohim." He also spoke final words in Hebrew. I have heard it said, that when you live well, then you die well. Mr. P, on his deathbed, was filled with peace. He was ready to join his beloved wife, to behold His Lord. (I John 5: 4)

It is sad for us, today, because the world is without a sweet, gentle hero like Mr. John Paraskos. May his legacy live on in the lives of his children and grandchildren,and generations following after, blessed by their association with this kind, unassuming servant of Christ.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Who is our Hope in, Anyway?

Like many of you, I watched the returns last night with a sick feeling in my stomach.
I try not to be political in my postings, but let's just say things weren't going the way I had hoped. My headache got worse and worse. Suddenly, when they switched to the local news at 11pm it was all over.

I felt this election was the most important one of my life, and yet, God is sovereign in the affairs of all mankind. Is that true or isn't it? When the prophet Daniel was interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, he told him:

"That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets it over the lowest of men." Daniel 4: 17b

So today, I am choosing to go on with my life, focusing my hope entirely on the Hope that is secure and will not change. I read today in the Word one of the very last verses given to the Jews before the New Testament canon was given. In the book of Malachi, chapter 3 verse 6, we read:

"For I am the Lord, I do not change;
Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob."

Thank God! He doesn't change! Everything else is all around us is crumbling around us. What can we rely on? Job security? No. Money in the bank? No. The stock market? No. Gold? no. Even people we thought we could trust? No. We have one thing, one thing only, that we can run to:

"looking unto JESUS, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God..." Hebrews 12:2

He promises never, ever to leave us: "Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13: 5

And just to show that Jesus doesn't change either: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." Hebrews 13: 8

Turn to Him today, while you can. He will not turn you away.(John 10:28) He is in the business of restoring broken, beat up lives like yours and mine. No matter what your political affiliation or how you voted, it doesn't matter, Jesus doesn't care about that, He just wants you to run to His shelter before it is too late.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Today is a lot more than Halloween....

While most people celebrate Halloween on October 31, in the course of researching my book, I found out something very important in church history happened on October 31st, that has mostly been forgotten. If you go way back to the 1500's you'd find the monk Martin Luther trying to be the best monk that he could ever be.

Luther was born November 10, 1483 in Germany. He was raised to have a terrible fear of Christ. He didn't see him so much as a Savior but as an avenger. The grace of God and how He had come to bear man's sin upon the cross was not the focus of Church teachings. Martin was afraid, terribly afraid.

Martin was going to be a lawyer, in order to please his father, and make a lot of money to boot. One day, as he returned to university on his horse a severe thunderstorm broke out. Fearing imminent death, Martin promised the city's patron saint, Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, that he would become a monk if she would deliver him from the storm. He was delivered, so Luther set out to be a monk.

Luther felt no relief of the fear of God in studying to be a monk. No amount of prayers, fastings, self-denial could take away Martin's guilt. Finally, one day one of his teachers told him he would become a professor and could study the Bible. When Martin studied the book of Romans where it proclaimed: "But the righteous man shall live by faith" (Romans 1: 17), a transformation occurred.

All his life he had tried to do good works to be right with God. Now this verse said righteousness came by faith in Another. It wasn't trying to keep a bunch of rules and laws. Martin Luther came to see that Christ as the Good Shepherd, who came to lay His life down from the sheep.(John 10:11)

He saw that his church was keeping people in darkness. No common people were allowed to read the Bible. It was only written in Latin. Only the clergy knew how to read Latin. To be pardoned of sin, the Church sold indulgences. For a sum of money, you could be cleared of grievous sins, like murder or robbery. Thus Jesus' agony on the cross became of no effect, since they could cheaply be bought and sold.

Luther came to a realization that his fellow church goers were being deceived. He used his study of the Scriptures to find all the ways that the Church had gotten away from Biblical Christianity. He came up with 95 grievances, or what we call today the
95 Theses. He nailed them to the door of the Church at Wittenburg, Germany on October 31, 1517.

Soon, an uproar ensued. Luther would eventually face a trial in which he was asked to recant his theses. But he remained firm. People joined his cause, and broke away from the Catholic Church, becoming known as Lutherans. Thus the beginning of the Protestant Reformation started with a troubled monk named Martin Luther.

Obscured by a pagan holiday, October 31 is an important day in church history because it opened the door for freedom for the masses of humanity to read the Scriptures once again. As Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matthew 13: 9) Come to think of it, maybe that is why there is a pagan holiday, the devil sure doesn't want people to read God's Word!!


"Why does the world abhor the glad tidings of the Gospel and the blessings that go with it? Because the world belongs to the devil; under his direction the world persecutes the Gospel and would if it could nail again Christ the Son of God to the cross, even though He gave Himself unto spiritual death for the sins of the world."
Martin Luther

Saturday, October 27, 2012

To God be the Glory

Last night I watched my last child graduate from nursing school. I was so proud as I watched him march with his class, carrying his candle, symbolizing the lantern that Florence Nightingale bore so long ago. When the pianist played Pachelbel's Canon as the graduates walked the stage for diplomas and pins, I could not hold back my tears. But they were tears of joy. And tears filled with happy memories. I remember the love he had for a yellow stray cat named Sam, a little dog on his paper route named Toby, the friendships he made with his customers as a news carrier...

This son has a special compassion within him, bestowed by Christ, that was evidenced to me when he was a little boy, and to his instructors as he performed patient care, as a student nurse. He used this same care while working as an EMT previously.

Yet I say, "To God be the glory." He grew up learning the Bible from the time he was very small. I had the privilege of homeschooling this child. Homeschooling is not always a bed of roses. Yet it was fulfilling. He used to come at night and say, "Thanks for teaching me" before he went to bed when he was little.

Now he has his own sweet wife, a home, and two cats to boot. He also got hired at the same hospital where he trained. Life is shaping up well for my boy. He has always honored us as his parents. I think God took that seriously, in the day and age where many kids are dissing their parents. In Deuteronomy 5: 16, many blessings are promised to the one who does so.

To God be the glory. In the book of Proverbs (22:6) we parents are told that if we train up a child in the way he should go, that even when he is old he will not depart from it. In the case of some children, we may have to wait a long time, but in this case I am blessed to say I didn't have to wait.

I have been through manifold shadowy trials in my journey through life. This is one sunny spot on my pathway. Thanks for letting me share it with you...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dead to Sin....Alive to God

I found an old message from my church while on my cleaning binge the other day. It was from five years ago. Sometimes, when we find old things like that, we tend to shrug them off, or at least I do. I think to myself, "Oh, that was from 2007, it's 2012, what could that message have to say to me now?"

I found out it had something very important to say. Something that I am ashamed to admit, I have not really learned yet, even after knowing Christ for the greater portion of my life.

The book of Romans is a foundational book. I need to understand Romans in my spirit for victory in my spiritual life. It tells me what Christ did for me, it tells me what happened that day when He took my sins upon His body on the tree. But it also tells me that I was crucified there with Him when He died, that my old sinful body was put away permanently.

Is that true or isn't it? Most of my life I have not believed it is true. But Scripture says I am dead to sin (Romans 6:11) but alive to God. That doesn't mean I won't sin anymore, but if I do, its because I chose it, God has made a way for me to be free from that old life forever.

I think it has to start with thinking about what Christ did for me, and not only me, but everyone else too. Seeing people differently than I have before. Like layers of onion skin, God slowly peels layer after layer away to reveal the truth about mankind and His great love for them.

There are two categories of people really. One is bound for heaven. Earth is the closest to hell they will ever get. The other group is blinded by the evil one for whatever reason. Let us have compassion. They may do us great harm. Let us have compassion. This is the only heaven they will ever see.

Its not about "trying" to be nice to them. It is about begging them to be reconciled. (II Corinthians 5: 20-21) We don't deserve redemption either. It is realizing Christ took their sin burden just like He took yours and mine. He paid for their crimes too. That is what makes "hell" hell. They could have had heaven as a free gift. But they said no.

If I stand here and judge by my own human judgments than I am just like the rest of the world. But Jesus said "Judge the righteous judgment." (John 7:24) Jesus judged nothing by appearances, how much less so then should I?

It boils down to this: Everyone I see is "a dead man walking." Now hear me out. You are either dead to sin and alive to God like the Bible says if you are in Christ,(Romans 6: 11) or if you are not yet born again you are dead in your trespasses and sins.(Ephesians 2:1-3) But, and here is a BIG but, you can change that destiny, however, in ONE moment, by a moment of personal faith in Jesus Christ.

Lord, help me reckon, moment by moment, I am dead to sin and alive to God... Amen.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In tribute to my loving neighbor...

A neighbor friend of ours that moved away back in the 70's graduated to Glory on Sunday after a long battle with liver cancer. Yet I remember her as if I had seen her yesterday. And I have comfort... comfort because I know I will see her again.

The year was 1974. I was in the dreaded 4th grade at a school I hated. My neighbor, Mrs. P was there at the bus stop the first day of school when I alighted off the bus, tears rolling down my face. As we came up the hill to where our houses stood side by side she told my mother, "There's only one sad tail here... " Nobody else seemed to mind our new school, but I did. I knew I was in for a rough year.

Mr and Mrs. P were of Greek origin and had four beautiful daughters, whom we played with. They also had a little collie dog named Raindrop who would run around the yard barking as we frolicked outside til it was dark. She and my Mom would sit with their lawn chairs in the front yard chatting away while their husbands worked at stressful jobs, bringing home the bacon.

But the thing I remember most about Mrs. P was that she took the time to open up her house for the kids of the neighborhood to host a Child Evangelism Fellowship- "Good News Club" for all the kids in the neighborhood. My sister reminded me that they moved all the furniture out of their family room so all the kids could cram in. We had Bible stories on flannel board, songs that we sang every week, Bible verses that we would memorize, and a snack. If we memorized our verses, we would get a New Testament.

I was in the midst of the traumatic fourth grade year, and was already well established in my habit of being a worrier. I used to tell Mrs. P my worries and she would listen to me and reassure me. The day came when I had memorized all of them. She presented me with a New Testament called The Greatest is Love, if I recall correctly. In it she wrote a special verse for me:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace
of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds
through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4: 6-7

Someone cared enough to take the time to intervene in the life of a child. How I remember that! How thankful I am for that! Well, the P's moved away back in the 70's, and I lost all touch with them. Somehow my sister started getting Christmas newsletters from them and one time about a year or so ago I got their address. I wrote Mrs. P, and thanked her for having that club, and for caring about me so many years ago.

Her girls got in touch with me and told me that letter meant a lot to her. They have kept us updated as both parents have been quite sick. I sent her one more card a couple weeks before she died. I hope she heard the message.

When I got the news yesterday, I had already been upset by some other long standing issues but it reminded me: Life is brief. If you love someone, tell them now. We all are as dust, a vapor blowing in the wind. I can rejoice because I know where Mrs. P is now. She trusted Jesus to be her Savior, her firm Rock, her only ticket to heaven. She stood on the Solid Rock.

While everything in this world crumbles around us, will you stand on the Solid Rock too? Believe that He did all the work for your salvation today and call upon His name today.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Hurting World

Look around you. Do you see much hope on the horizon as you look at our world today? It seems we are growing expononentially in terms of technical knowledge but are we using this knowledge for good or for evil? When a woman can find out if her baby will have a defect so then she can get rid of it, is that "good"? Is advancing physics so we can build a better bomb "good"? Yes, we have so much more enlightenment than our ancestors, but where has it gotten us? Do you think this knowledge has made people happier?

I get so wrapped up in myself. Do you? You don't have to go very far to find someone that is down, in pain or hurting emotionally. Maybe just next door. All of have been bruised in our fleeting time on this planet where we breathe the numbers of breaths apportioned us by Almighty God. We are just a little bump on the horizon. Men have been born before us, and men will come after us.

You see someone acting out. My instant reaction is to think, "What a jerk." But wait. I don't know the path that led the person to that moment. The hidden hurts. The insults. The injustices.

Yes, we hurt each other. Sin against each other. But God knows deep down inside us the things that have made us the way we are. See how he knows us in Psalm 139. He knows like no one else could ever know. He knows even better than we could ever know ourselves.

So the next time I see a "jerk" am I going to be one right back to him? I hope not. I hope the mercy and grace of Christ will constrain me. Sometimes just a smile given to someone who is having a horrible day can help turn things around for them. Or what about the guy who cuts me off in traffic? If I am gracious, maybe I could help prevent an act of road rage, who knows?

All I know is, I have been given mercy, and I sure as heck don't deserve it. "Those people," the ones acting like jerks, have also been recipients of mercy, but they don't know it, they don't know the good news that Christ died for them. If I react as they do to me, they will continue in the blindness of ignorance. I am supposed to be Christ's representative in this dark world. Will I be one? That is up to me to decide.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Pawn in the Hand of a Cruel Master

It seems I always get my best inspirations when walking. I was praying along, not distracted today by any music on the MP3. It was just me and my thoughts, praying to God as I walked, and He was talking to me. He had something to say to me today and for once, I heard Him loud and clear.

Unforgiveness has held me back in my growth spiritually. I have been given so much. In fact, it says in Ephesians 1: 3 He has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. Well, if that’s true, why am I still struggling over hurts that happened years ago? Why isn’t my place in the family of God enough? Even if my place in my earthly family isn’t all I want it to be?

Jesus is enough! He knows every intimate detail of my thoughts. (Hebrews 4: 12) He knows what will happen in all of my life: every event, every tragedy, every sin, every happiness. (Psalm 139) With a Friend like that, why do I allow myself to get so entangled in what people say to me, especially the ones that are close to me? Why do I allow myself to react in anger and tears and hidden resentments that I bury inside, which only comes out in other ways?

OK, enough already. I have wasted at least half of my life on this foolishness. I believe the Lord showed me the key to overcoming it today. When our pure, kind, sinless Savior was upon the cross, about ready to endure the wrath of God for all of our vileness, He said the words that an arrogant Pharisee like me who holds grudges against people way too long should also be willing to say:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
(Luke 23:34)

I think of all the times I have been slighted, times I have been unfairly treated, my name has been slandered, I have been considered a wacko, etc. etc. I have cried bitterly over this. I have heard my husband say, “Poor Megan.”

But that didn’t solve the hurt, the anger, the bitterness inside my heart. In writing my memoir, things came up that were not fun to remember. I have had times of intense pain, times of failures and times when others let me down. But for me to hang onto them would make me a pawn, a pawn in the hand of a very cruel master. The wrong master, not the one I want to be serving.

You see, in hanging onto unforgiveness, I am signing up to be a slave. If Jesus has freely forgiven me all of my sins like He talked about in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18: 21- 35, and then I go and not forgive my brother for his trespass against me, I am totally forgetting what Christ did for me in judging my sins. In other words, I am completely disoriented to the cross of Christ. I am not letting His love flow through me. I am out of fellowship with Him. I am actually working for His enemy. I am a pawn in the hand of a cruel master. The one who doesn’t like to let his captives go free.

It helps me, when I think of the wrong done to me, to say to myself, the same thing my Savior said in Luke before He went to the cross. For you see, none of us really realize the impact of our words, our actions have upon others. I know that I have wounded others terribly by the things I have said and done. Oh, if I could just take those words back! So, when I am tempted to muse upon the wrongs done to me, I want to cast it down right away, like we are commanded in II Corinthians 10: 5, not even dwell on it for a minute. I don’t want to be a pawn anymore….

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Focus on Eternal Things

As I look outside at the rainy fall days, I see the leaves ever so slowly beginning to change colors, and observe the days growing incredibly shorter,while at night I feel the chill as I pull the covers tight to keep warm. Change. You can't stop it.

My mother always used to remind me, "Everything comes to pass."

She told me that when she returned from my grandma's funeral a couple states away. I had begged to go, but it wasn't to be. Not that time. She reported that the minister presiding over the services comforted the mourners by saying, " Everything comes to pass."

But did he know how much more that would be true now? That was 1980 when Grandma died. Before the internet, texting, cell phones, tweeting and facebooking.

Something else has been lost as well. The human connectedness, I think. As we sit, transfixed before our computers, for our daily doses of information as internet junkies, don't we lose our human sensitivity to each other? What did we do before we had all these multiple sources of information bombarding us?

Solomon was the world's wisest man, and God gave him that because he asked for,because he chose that above riches or kingdoms. But he forfeited all that wisdom because of the lure of the beautiful foreign women he married. Yet in his youth, he learned one thing that he put down in his book, Proverbs:

"Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom,
And in all your getting, get understanding"

Proverbs 4: 7

So there is one thing that does not change in this world that appears to be changing
faster than we can keep up with: The Word of God.

I don't know about you, but as I look at the news, I see distresses of all kinds: wars and rumors of wars, economic turmoil, pestilence, disasters of epic proportions, etc. It makes me wonder what is going to happen next. It doesn't give me much hope in man's solutions for the future, either.

But Jesus said one thing about His Word:
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Matt. 24: 35)

and in Malachi 3: 6a God says: " For I am the Lord, I do not change..."

So if we invest our time in the one thing that is eternal, that will never pass, and get to know the Lord, who does not change, we will have a stability when everything else around us changes, even crumbles, overnight.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

In My Weakness He is Strong

This past week I have been doing "spring" cleaning, and yet it is fall. Go figure.

I have tried just about every organizational system there is, and have never been successful with one of them. I don't know why. Maybe I just can't follow the plans of men and succeed. Oh, I do gain little nuggets here and there, but the Lord says in Proverbs 3:5-6:

"Trust in THE LORD with all your heart,
And lean NOT on your own understanding;
In ALL your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct Your paths."

I have heard it said that you are either born with the organized gene or you are not.
In my case, it was quite obvious as a little girl I was not. When me and my sisters played Barbies, they would spend oodles of time putting their Barbies away neatly. I had no time for that! I would throw mine in my "Barbie box." (It consisted of a huge grocery box which we "wallpapered" with gift wrap for our Barbies to live in. Everything in my Barbie house was a huge jumbled mess.

My older sister joked that she was going to teach me organization lessons, striving every day to be her organized best for me! Nearly five decades later, I still joke and ask her when the classes are?

But, you see when God formed me in my mother's womb. (Psalm 139) He knew I would be a messie, who would struggle this "disability." Like Paul in II Corinthians 12: 7-10, I have pled with the Lord to make me something different than I am. But shall I, the mere clay, tell the Potter how to make me. Should I tell the Designer of all the galaxies, and the complexities of a "simple" cell, that He somehow made a mistake when He made me the way I am?

So, this past week, all of a sudden this organizing, cleaning bug "hit" me. I could see the "forest for the trees," so to speak. And God gave me energy to complete an overdue task each day. No, I didn't follow a "method." Just God's enabling dunamis power, that is all. And I made my husband happy. That spoke volumes to me.

For the verse from Proverbs 31:12 is in the backdrop of my mind, and I cannot dismiss it:

"She does him good and not evil, all the days of her life."

I have failed in the past, and maybe you have too, but TODAY is a brand new day!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

But Of Him You are in Christ Jesus. . .

What an inestimable privilege to think... because of Him, because of the Father's tender mercies and the wooing of the Holy Spirit today, this very moment, we are in Christ Jesus.

That is what I Corinthians 1:30-31 tells us:

"But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God-
and righteousness and sanctification and redemption-

that, as it is written, He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."

It tells us what Christ is for us:

1. wisdom: (sophia)n by definition: wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters

2. righteousness (dikaiosyne) in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God

3. sanctification (hagiasmos) consecration, purification

4. redemption (apolytrosis) a releasing effected by payment of ransom

(All Bible helps come from free online Bible resource: Blue Letter Bible)

Christ paved the way for all of us to have this standing before God. All a free gift!
But I love how the Apostle Paul ends the thought, if we are tempted to boast, the only thing we are allowed to boast in is the Lord.

We all have certain talents. Maybe yours is musical ability. Another might be a super brain and land an awesome job that pays an inordinate amount of money. Another might be a star athlete and end up playing professional football.

Let me ask you a question. Did any of these people give themselves the talents they have? Can they turn one hair black or white? If the answer is no, then it makes sense to answer like Paul did, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."

Whenever I take credit for something, I quickly get reminded quickly in some way of this Truth:God shares His glory with no one. So let us praise Him for His wisdom in this, even if some days it does seem hard to swallow.

When we reach the golden shore, it will all make perfect sense...

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

God has proven I am His...

Have you ever read the passage in Hebrews 12 where it talks about God's discipline?

"...My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you
are rebuked by Him; For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And chastens every son
He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is
there whom a father does not chasten?"

Hebrews 12: 5-6

I recently received some discipline from God's hand. I cried, it was painful. It hurt, it smarted; I felt awful. But quickly now, I thank Him for it. You see, I have known good teaching from the Word but I chose to ignore it and tried to go it on my own. God had His hand on me and had to use His shepherd's crook to get me back on His path again.

Now I can move on again. Not look back with regrets but move forward in His plan for my life. How about you? Have you made a mistake that you feel was disastrous to your spiritual life? There is always, always recovery, as long as you are breathing.

Look at what Paul says in Philippians. I love these verses!

"Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended, but ONE thing I do, FORGETTING
those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,

I PRESS toward the goal for the prize of the UPWARD call of God in Christ Jesus."

Philippians 3: 13-14

I urge you today, move out from self-condemnation and loathing, enjoy God's forgiveness bought at great cost. If you are His, you are a brand new creature (II Corinthians 5: 17) and your past does NOT define you!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

28 Years By His Grace...

Today I am pleased to celebrate 28 years of marriage with my beloved husband Kevin. 28 years ago I didn't know much about sacrifice, about the meaning of godly submission, or thinking of putting others first. I just knew that I had found someone who finally loved me and accepted me, warts and all. Besides he was tall, dark and handsome, had a job and cared very much for my safety and protection. What more could a girl want?

So we walked down the aisle at our Baptist church amidst the beautiful aqua tea length dresses my lovely bridesmaids wore and handsome gray tuxes of the groomsmen. With roses and daisies in my hair, wearing my mother's ivory dress, I looked in my bridegroom's tender brown eyes and promised to honor and obey him (Ephesians 5:22-24) in good times and bad.We sang many hymns in the service and the good news of the Gospel was preached.What a happy beautiful day.

We have indeed had our share of good times and bad. Kids, a precious gift from the Lord, have tested the loyalty of our love for each other as we disagreed over discipline. Money worries have come and gone and recently, physical injuries and lack of employment for a long period.

But what if I was totally relying on my husband to carry me through those times? There were times when my children were very small that I relied on him to do things for me that only God could provide. Those times my dear husband tried so hard to carry all the burden but he could not. We all have feet of clay.

There were times when we considered we would become a statistic. We never did. And today, we look at each other with hope in each other's eyes. We know each other's quirks inside and out. We have braved deep waters together. We have survived the storm of parenting. Finally, the glue that really held us together were three things:

1. Our common faith in Jesus Christ. (What brought us together in the first
place, and is so important for believers to be equally yoked as discussed
in II Corinthians 6: 14-15.

2. Commitment to be loyal to one another in all aspects of the marriage

3. The dumb jokes we share. This started in our courtship. We had this thing
about making all these corny jokes. We still do. Laughter has diffused so
many tense situations.

Maybe some of these ideas may help someone somewhere struggling in their marriage. I once heard some very good adice. Don't go looking for "the perfect one." YOU be the one to effect the change in your marriage. The day my happiness in marriage started was the day I realized that my husband could not ultimately fulfill my deepest needs. Only one Person could do that, and He is the Person of Jesus Christ.

When I am rightly attuned in my relationship with Jesus, I can love my husband without expecting him to give me something that will fulfill me, because my needs have already been filled to the max through Jesus!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Fleeting Life

This summer I had a great privilege to take part in a memoir class. I loved writing about my past. It was so cathartic. Memories that had been stuffed down, actually lying in my brain dormant, surfaced again as my fingers hit the keys. Good times, bad times, things I wished had never happened all came back in a flood. And then I began rummaging through the pictures I had always said I was going to get organized. I was going to, yet I never did.

Actually many of those precious Kodak moments lay in my attic in the corner, in the very back, forgotten, until I was on my memoir quest. Suddenly, they became very important. Learning how to scan them into my computer and then into my stories, those pictures came alive again for me. I wrote about college days, about passing my boards, getting my lifeguarding certification, hey, I even wrote my very first memory. My mother confirmed that it, indeed, had really happened.

When I was a baby in Christ and I read the book of Ecclesiastes I was totally depressed. Why did the Preacher write in the second verse: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity(?) Who was God to allow God to make life so fleeting like that? I remember I questioned that after I had given birth to my first child. I didn't understand the point of the book.

If life was so transient, then what was the point of life? The point is given after the Preacher had experienced all the pleasures of life and found them meaningless.

Eccles. 2: 10
"Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold from my heart any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.
Then I looked on all the works my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed it was all vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun."

Now, as I look back on the faded pictures I see that life is a vapor. I was a girl. It seemed I would never grow up. My mother said, "You have your whole life ahead of you."

Now, that life is at least half gone. The faded pictures are memories. Then the Preacher is right if this life is all there is. But at the end, the Preacher too, comes to wisdom and says:

Eccles. 12: 13

"Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all.
For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil."

Finally, the one commandment He wants us to obey, or "work: today, which is answered here:

John 6: 28-29

Then they said to Him, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?"
Jesus answered and said to them, " This is the work of God, that you may believe in Him whom He sent."

Then life will not be vanity, but will suddenly have new meaning, destiny and purpose...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Make the Call!

This past week, there were some people whom I hadn't talked to in a long while. I was tempted to, no, I will just admit, that I did feel sorry for myself, that these people had not picked up the phone and called me. It is easy for me to start on a downward spiral with a slew of negative thoughts when I get into "stinking thinking." Do you ever think to yourself, "Why does it have to be me who has to make the effort all the time?"

But what if my Lord thought that way, even for one tiny second? I would be lost for sure. If He would have thought that while He journeyed to the cross, He could have put it down and simply walked away, telling the Father, "Why do I have to be the One that gets nailed to that tree?" Where would I be going then? (Hint, it would not be heaven.)

But Christ knew the definition of agape. He knew love thinks not of itself. So after I realized how selfish I was being, I picked up the phone, swallowed my pride, and made the calls. And I had some wonderful conversations with people that were long overdue. So what if I had to call them! The important thing was that I wanted to tell them I loved them. That is what I wanted to convey. I am slowly, oh ever so slowly starting to see, this life is not about me.

When I focus on me I am miserable. It is about Christ and His love: His love for people. That is what He came for. He didn't come just to make me comfortable. He came so that people would know that He loves them.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What do you do when you let yourself down?

This is a question I deal with all the time. Somehow I think I am above failure in a certain thing, and then, just to keep me straight, I fail in that very thing. Some days I think I have the world by the tail, then other days come and it seems I can hear the taunts: "You thought you were above this thing? We--ell, guess what, you're not!"

Ever hear of 70 times 7? Jesus answered that when Peter asked him how many times he should forgive his brother in Matthew 18: 22. Sometimes it is easier to forgive others than forgive ourselves especially when we keep failing in the same sin repeatedly.

But if we don't allow ourselves to be the recipients of the grace of God, how can we really allow others to experience it?

Lord God, today cleanse me from me hidden faults that keep me trapped in a pattern of failure. You are the ONLY ONE I can look to: certainly not myself, and not other people. For You are sinless, and above the fray of our webs of self deceit.Amen.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Slowly Learning the Lessons of Life....

I am back. I know, I know I was gone waaaayy too long. I am like a sheep that wandered from the fold. I apologize to the few readers that were reading this blog. I let you down and I am sorry. Life got busy and I did not count the cost that keeping a blog would entail. I tried a different blog but realized it was only accessible to friends on facebook or people on Tumblr. I am slowly learning the ways of being tech savvy. I am a slow learner. I am also a slow learner in God's lessons too. One message I like is that Christ is both a guilt offering and a sin offering for us. It is often profitable just to look at the meanings of the words for "guilt" and "iniquity." There are many free resources on the internet that will help you dissect every word of a verse in the Bible. The one I have used frequently is the Blue Letter Bible. It will explain every single word in the Greek or Hebrew. By taking the time to study these words, we will have a greater understanding of the value of Christ's atoning sacrifice for us. You could spend hours there and never grow tired of all the things you could study. Our sins, no matter how heinous, have been paid for on the cross. When we believers cite them to God as instructed in I John 1: 9, He cleanses the guilt away as well. Whenever I am tempted to feel guilty after I have confessed my sin, I must realize that that is even worse to have a guilt complex. I don't know about you, but I am tired of walking around with one when Christ died to make me free from it! I recently heard some messages on this very theme and they have brought me into a new realization! It really is finished! You can trust Christ today, if you never have before, to cleanse you from your sins and give you His very own righteousness as a free and irrevocable gift. Better to be a slow learner than to never learn this at all....