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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Changing World...

Happy Birthday to you!  How many times have you heard these words sung to you in your lifetime?  Each year contains memories etched into our minds, of growing older.  There are many “I remembers” in my mind of birthdays.  When I was three, I was selected as the one to blow out my little brother’s one birthday candle, as all he could do was spit.  Then there was the birthday celebrated in a sand pit in Oklahoma, in a high wind.  The homemade ice cream tasted a might crunchy.  We never celebrated there again.  Mother decided I would have a birthday party when I was twelve.  Fantastic refreshments, games, and gifts made it a real party.  Then at sixteen was The Year – when I could wear lipstick, date and drive a car.

But those memories were soon replaced with more important memories of other birthdays – of my husband, our four children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Each marked a place and a date in time.  Then came memories of loved ones who left this life.  These memories fade and others take their place, for Time is a record of Change.  Change hurts and reminds us of our brief time in this life.  An earlier memory made in time is also eternal.  I chose at the age of eight years to become a child of God and baptized into God, the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. 

There is a past, a present and a future.  We don’t know the future, we soon forget the past. We live in the present.  When our brief time on earth is finished, we become someone’s memory for a time.  Is that all there is?

Our Lord God lives outside of time.  He is ageless and eternal.  He has all yesterdays, todays and tomorrows spread out before Him.  He knows how our story will begin and what choices we will make.  He knows just where He wants us to be born.  He knows the people He plans to place in our lives to teach us and love us.  He knows all the hardships and trials we will face.  He calms our fears and gives us peace.  He is the question and He is the answer to every difficulty and victory we experience in our lives.

Who is this God?  He is God of Eternity and Creator who created the extraordinary world out of nothing.  He created the vast universe and man with His words.  He lined the heavens with a blanket of stars and the moon. 

God’s language is love. He shows this love as he gives each of us breath to live the story of our lives. His love shows in His tremendous glory all about us.  Before we were, He knew us and chose us.  During the trials we face on earth, He walks beside us and gives us His comfort.  When we are troubled, He gives us Peace.

How can I do anything but accept His will and His Way.  I accept ‘what is’ and trust Him to work it out for me. This can only happen when I believe God is and is my Comforter. 

Everything I see and feel and touch and hear reminds me of God’s love.  I look at the clouds, the falling rain, the brilliant sun, the moonlit and star-studded night sky, the smile of a child, and the wrinkled weathered hand that holds mine – and I see God’s great love. 

Do we know Jesus?  It begins with hearing, believing, trusting, loving, repenting, forgiving, caring. The confidence comes with knowing our home is with our forever love, Jesus.  The lyrics of Through it All says it for me…Through it all, through it all, I've learned to trust in Jesus.  I've learned to trust in God. Through it all, through it all, I've learned to depend upon His Word.

-For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me. I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.  John 12:45-46
-For the Lord God is our sun and our shield. He gives us grace and glory. The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right. O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, what joy for those who trust in you.  Psalm 84:11-12
-For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12
 _I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13
-Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  2 Corinthians 5:17


Tuesday, October 11, 2016


We are a people created for relationships.  When we are separated from family or friends it can be for a variety of reasons – sickness, travel, death, anger, or in a social wilderness.  We feel utterly alone in those times.  Any time there is a ‘disconnect’, we want to do all we can to make it right again.

During the recent hurricane, I thought of all the households disrupted and unable to assure family and friends of their situation.  We want to know! In today’s world, we rely heavily on the power to connect, be it the phone, iPad, computers or through various social media on the internet. 

I think of those who traveled via the ocean or covered wagons, prior to 1860. That year the beginning of the Pony Express began. Before 1860, no sure way of communication existed. 

Several times internet or power has failed me and I felt out of touch and helpless.  How would I reconnect or how could I ‘recharge’ to continue to communicate again?  

I watched the slow passage of the hurricane Matthew via radar on my computer and saw the utter damage the ferocity of the wind caused, plus the invasion of rushing waters flood homes and cars.  I thought of the helplessness of older people, the sick or those with young children faced with unknown threats of death.

What does it take to survive such catastrophes as volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and typhoons that threaten us?  I read of another storm…

As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed).  But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.  Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”  Mark 4:35 – 38.
What did Jesus say?  When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Mark 4:39-49
When we wake up in life to the storms we encounter and know we are in danger of drowning in a sea of turmoil, these words of Jesus play in our hearts and minds.  In the moment we are frightened and then we realize the answer --  Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.  I John 4:18

If we walk in the darkness without His Love, we will stub our toe on fear. 
In those moments when we cannot see the next step in life, recharging and refreshing our faith in the ultimate power of God is the only answer.  He may not remove the threat.  But He will walk with us and we will have peace through the storm.  No matter how long or how ferocious it may be. 

Trusting in God brings us strength for our time ‘in the wilderness’. An old hymn chorus brings hope and wisdom.   And He walks with me and He talks with me and tells me, I am His own.”  (In the Garden – Anne Murray)

Psalm 46:10 - “Be still, and know that I am God!  I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”  We need to be reminded often and the storms in life capture our attention and remind us of God’s whisper, Be still and know! 

Listening is more difficult in this world of distraction and connected to ‘know’.  Elijah listened.  I Kings 19:11-13 -  “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

-Matthew 16:24 - Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.
-John 8:47 - Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

-Romans 8:39 - No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

God's Love is Forever...

What kind of love is the most enduring and faithful?  Where does love begin, or come from?  How do you know when you love or are loved?  Does true love ever end?

When the world all around is filled with unrest, terror, and evil, there is no evidence of love, it seems to disappear.  Yet Hope of God’s Love springs from the beginning of God’s Word, from the first word to the last word! 
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  Genesis 1:1
He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!  May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.  Revelation 22:20-21
There are those who would dismiss the thought of God and His Word given to us, and the reality of Jesus made flesh walk on earth, to live God’s love before us. 
This complex universe and the earth we live on disappears if there is no God.  For no other One would be able to plan the world we live in.  God’s Word will not disappear.  The immenseness of God and His glory is what Job hears from the whirlwind… recorded in Job, Chapters 38-39.  The Where Were You questions enlighten us to Who God is!  “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you know so much.”  Job 38:4

After you read these two chapters, you will say with Job (40:4-5), “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand.  I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say.”

In all that God created, He chose you, He chose me, to love.  He placed eternity in the heart of every baby who was ever born.  We all reach for someone greater than we are to worship.  As I consider the Wonder of our Lord God, I weep and sing with the Psalmist David - Let all that I am praise the Lord.  O Lord my God, how great you are! You are robed with honor and majesty.

Without God, there would be no birthdays, birds singing, fish jumping in the sea, or puppies to bring joy or colts dancing in the meadows.  No sunshine or dewdrops or brilliant sunsets or breathtaking rainbows God sends to sing a love song to us.
When we kneel before God, worshiping Him alone, we sing with joy.  From early childhood, my parents taught me the one truth remains constant.  Jesus Love Me”.  A writer, Susan Warner, wrote this poem in 1860 in a novel and put to music in 1862.  It is still sung today.  I recently played this on youtube for my husband and sang the lyrics.  I realized then, This is not just a song for children, but gives comfort to God’s older ones, too. God’s Forever Love is hope and joy for all God’s Chosen.
Jesus loves me—this I know, For the Bible tells me so; Little ones to him belong,—They are weak, but he is strong.

Jesus loves me—loves me still, Though I'm very weak and ill; From his shining throne on high, Comes to watch me where I lie.

Jesus loves me—he will stay, Close beside me all the way. Then his little child will take, Up to heaven for his dear sake.

Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me! The Bible tells me so.

-Jesus told them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me”.  John 8:42
-So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35
- “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.” John 15:9-10
- Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. Ephesians 1:4
- Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Ephesians 4:2
- Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.  Ephesians 5:2
- Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God’s grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:23-24


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hope Changes Things

I heard myself saying yet again, “I hope all will be well…” What did I really mean?  As I thought about this, I realized I meant, I will be praying for you.

What is hope, really?  Why do we use hope so liberally in our conversations?  Is it wishful thinking, or an expectation?  Is this hope a belief that it will be, and if so, what is this hope based on?

Hope is like happiness.  It is an elusive emotion built on the reality of what is and seeing promise for more.  A hopeful life is one with a future.  When hope is built on wishful thinking, it becomes a temporary illusion. 

Searching all the quotes on hope, I found wishful thinking, not a confident promise.  Then I read this in God’s Word, Through Christ you have come to trust in God. And you have placed your faith and hope in God because he raised Christ from the dead and gave him great glory.  I Peter 1:21

Faith, believing, trusting and hope is one package in God, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son.  Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.  He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation.  Colossians 1:15   When we know Jesus, we know God.  This understanding creates the place from where hope comes for those who love and trust Him. 

A steadfast hope cannot be shaken by world events, cultures or evil. I Corinthians 13:13, Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.

Hope is an expectation in Christ, ever new, coloring each day with the assurance that Jesus is and will come again.  Hope is our trustworthy anchor that steadies us and encourages us to never give up.  So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.  Hebrews 6:18-19.

It is our response to this Jesus that changes everything.  Fear, death and distractions threaten us daily.  Hoping on earth for power, job, influence, talents will pass away, often in an instant. 
Sitting in a small room in a clinic, I remember seeing a painting of a pastoral scene on the wall as I waited for the doctor.  When he appeared, he gave me the diagnosis for my husband -- dementia, his words echoed in the room. “There is no hope for healing.”  I slowly understood the extent of change with growing awareness of what lay before us.  Our lives changed dramatically as dementia took its toll.  I missed the life that was, but realize my Hope in Jesus remains and grows.  We were not meant to be live in this world forever, but we are here to prepare to be Home with our Lord God, day by day. 

How do I respond to this season of growing and hurt?  I have learned that Hope in Jesus is greater than any other I have longed for or experienced.  No matter how long these days of grieving last, there is one thing I know. I must surrender all to Jesus even as He surrendered all and was crucified, buried and raised again to give me Hope through it all. 

My son confided in me as he sang the hymn and thought about the words, I surrender all, he became uncomfortable.  It should not be I surrender all, but Jesus surrendered all. He rewrote the lyrics:
All for me Jesus surrendered, all for me He freely gave.
I should ever love and trust Him, for my Savior freely gave.
He surrendered all. He surrendered all.
All for me, my blessed Savior, Jesus surrendered all.
Paul Combs

- We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.  Psalm 33:20
- And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.  Psalm 39:7
- Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. Psalm  62:5-6
- You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my source of hope.  Psalm 119:116
- I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Romans 15:13
- Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. I Corinthians 13:7