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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lost....

It was a warm Oklahoma afternoon.  Mother drove the black Ford down the red dusty road in Washita county.  My two younger brothers sat in the back seat as we rumbled along.  We each had 'our own window'.  After an hour and several turns, I heard mother say, "I think we are lost."  Suddenly she stopped the car and got out.  Three pairs of eyes watched her walk forward about 10 yards and peer ahead before coming back to the car.  I asked her what she saw.  "The bridge is out, if I had kept on driving we would have ended in the river." 

We didn’t speak as Mom carefully turned around the Ford on the narrow road.  In our minds, the words ‘lost’ and ‘bridge out’ danced together in a frightening horror of what might have been.  Being lost would always remind me of danger and an imminent turn-around.  There are many ways to become lost.

My teachers often wrote on my report card, 'She would do better if she would stop day dreaming.'  I was simply ‘lost in thought’ in my own secret world.   In the adult world, the chances for losing our way, becoming lost, are greater. The stress of life with its responsibilities becomes more intense, we lose the car keys, important papers, a job.  We experience death and separation of loved ones and close friends…we become lost.  Fear rides on our shoulders as we lose our focus on our life goals. We feel that we have lost ourselves in a conflicting morass of confusion.

When the sting of Dementia visited us, we began to redefine the rest of our lives. Losing our health and aging often redefines who we are.  Or whom we thought we were. This morning my dear husband stated that he woke up not knowing where we are and why we are here.  He was ‘lost’.  After many questions he began to understand, for the time being, where we are and why.

 The antithesis of lost is the state of being found.  The state of being whole again, when we know all is right with our innermost being.   It is when we understand that which we cannot see is more lasting and of utmost importance to us, that we are on our way to be 'found'. 

One summer I visited my aunt and uncle and cousins in Hillsboro, Kansas.  As I drove home I enjoyed the memories of the visit.  Suddenly I realized that I took a wrong turn.  I was lost.  I pulled off the highway, checked the map, and looked up.  I realized I did not know my directions.  A pickup parked near by me.  The lady asked if I needed anything. As I explained my dilemma, I wondered if she was an angel that God sent. Soon she headed me in the right direction.  When I arrived home, my first purchase was a compass.   Not knowing my directions placed me in a deep confusion that brought fears of…would I ever find my way home again?

We have a compass that guides our life, so that no matter what happens, what losses or gains, we know that we are headed in the right direction.  In His Word, we find God's plan for our lives.  We know what path we follow.  Because of His unconditional love, we can follow and trust that we are not lost.  When I read the words, in the parable of the prodigal son,  And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.   For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:13-14

The word 'found' is the sweetest word in this world. Even death cannot separate us from the love of our Heavenly Father.  Even as the prodigal son returned to His Father and declared ‘found’.  When we return to our first love, Jesus Christ, we come into the state of being ‘found’.

*  In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge. Proverbs 14:26
*  Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
*  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. I john 4:17

Our God (Chris Tomlin)
Into the darkness, You shine
Out of the ashes, we rise
There's no one like You
None like You
Our God is greater
Our God is stronger
God, You are higher than any other
Our God is healer
Awesome in power
Our God, our God



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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Star Bright, Star Light

Star bright, star light! I wish I may I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight. An old nursery rhyme runs through my head when I think about the wonders of the stars in the heavens. Where do they come from? Why do they shine and twinkle? How far away are they? I stare in wonder at the dark blue velvet sky filled with lustrous night lights.

I think about mom. While sitting on the back porch of her home in Watonga, she told me about her star. As always when she saw the stars light up in the evening she counted it as good. She became animated when she said, “There it is! The first star in the night sky. That's my star." It was the end of the day filled with many things to do in the garden. Mother told me about the evening star, the first one to appear, was her star. When I asked her why, she answered, “That star and I have had talks since I was a little girl." I wondered what secrets mother told the Star each night as she prepared to go to bed. Knowing how much mom was to do things, I know that she never would wish upon a star but she used the star as God's messenger to pour out her joys and concerns to God.

That was when civilization had not erased the stars with his own artificial lighting. That is when star watching at dusk filled one’s soul. Now as a young adult, I remember the when I sat on the swing in a park looking up at the vast array of stars in the sky. I wondered what life held for me. I began to swing higher and higher. Would I be able to touch a star with my toe?

People have studied stars and know what they're made of how long they will exist, with what their orbit in the sky is. How can they do know this when the stars so far away?  I study stars to understand the power of God.

When our oldest son studied space in the sky with all its planets and stars, he studied about light years. Since Google was just sitting there, I searched for the definition. When I saw the answer for an eight-year-old boy, then I knew I would understand the theory of a light year. I knew it was about traveling, but I wasn't sure what light had to do with it. In reading further, I learned that the speed of light is and this is how a light year is estimated.  A light year is approximately 5,878,786,100,000 miles.  Almost a trillion miles for one light year.  (Compare with the circumference of the earth – 24,901 miles, or the diameter of the earth 7,901) A light-year is the distance that light travels in one year the speed of light is 186,287.5 mi. per second. Multiply the number of seconds in a minute, by minutes in an hour by 24 hours in a day times the number of days in a year.

The distance to the nearest star is 4.3 light years and the distance to the Andromeda galaxy is to million light-years. Needless to say, when you consider the number of galaxies and the number of stars, their various gravity pulls, and there orbits, my mind knows that no matter how great our intellect is our God is a wondrous and mighty God. When you consider the speed of light, remember the verse of Scripture, I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Where does this light come from? Genesis 1:3 - And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Jesus was announced to the world by a star that the wise men followed. Did the did the wise men ponder about the density are the consistency of a star? No, they discussed the message of the star. They followed in obedience wondering where the star would lead them. When Jesus was announced to the shepherds in the field, the heavens were ablaze with light and angels and praise and admiration. No wonder the Angels admonished the shepherds with do not fear. All of the lights that man could imagine flooded the area more than all the lights in the world that we see today ablaze in wattage after wattage. Immeasurable!

When we see Scriptures that tell us about the stars, our hearts quicken with wonder.

*He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Psalm 147:4
* When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4
* The moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:9
* Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might: undo, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Isaiah 40:26
* And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. Daniel 12:3
* There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. First Corinthians 15:41
* He who made the Pleiades and the Orion, and turns deep darkness into morning and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out on the surface the earth, the Lord is his name. Amos 5:8
* When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for? Job 38:7

What do I see when I see the first evening Star? I see more than a shimmer of chemicals traveling through space. I see a universe created through the power and majesty of God. I see the wonder of that power through my life. There is no doubt in my mind did our Jehovah watches over us and loves us. He wants us to be his and it's up to us to choose Him and his only begotten Son that we may walk in the light. His light.

Do all things without grumbling or disputing,  that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,”  Philippians 2:14-15



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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Mystery of His Presence

This past week I watched a video (http://www.godvine.com/Sweet-Baby-Girl-Sings-fb-gh-3747.html) and it reminded of the times when my brothers and I waited for Daddy to come home. I watched the video of the little girl sitting backward in the backseat facing the back window as she said “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,” over and over. I related to the little girl’s feeling for I had the same feeling when my Daddy came home. Every once in a while the tiny girl looked toward her dad and said, ”Hi, Daddy!" After her Daddy answered, she continued to say “Daddy Daddy, Daddy”. Each time he answered her, I recognized her trust and her innocence in her Daddy’s presence. Such complete confidence and peace in her Daddy is evident. Such joy. I could not believe the thoughts and the feelings that went through me as I related that Father/daughter relationship to my relationship with God, as I cry to my Heavenly Father, I delight in the creation because He create the mountains, the seas, the living creatures, the vast universe and each of us.

Is this the way the presence of God should be in our lives? That we can say, "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!" We are in the presence of God always, and he brings us joy and peace. This continues to intrigue me throughout my lifetime. We hear about the mystery of the presence of God and there is no doubt in my mind that His presence has to be recognized and accepted. We have to choose God. We think that we have everything we need, but we need to be reminded Who God is and seek out His presence. Without the presence of God we have no peace. We have no joy. We have no hope. God longs for us to choose him and that choosing is our responsibility. I heard once that God is a gentleman and he does not want to intrude where He's not wanted. That places the responsibility on us to choose him. We know that this is an open door all we need to do is ask. “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  Matthew 7:7
 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”  Matthew 6:33    We can look to God in confidence.

Is this what is meant by meditation, that his words and his presence are to be sought? And then we ask how do we know we are in his presence? That truly is a mystery. It is a mystery of faith and trust. When I see this little girl raised her arms to in joy of the presence of her Daddy. I know that same feeling when I am in the presence of God. He is there when I choose Him and when I delight in Him.

There are several passages on which I meditate when I need peace or when something is troubling me.  The first I think about is, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” 
John 14:1-4.  The second verse is in the same chapter, verse 27.  Peace I leave with you; not as the world giveth give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

One way to delight in God is to reflect on the attributes of his character and the passages in his Word where we find these attributes.

While reading a book written by Eugene Peterson, I found the phrase, Lectio Divina, consisting of four parts, reading a passage, meditating on that passage, praying, and contemplating God.

One attribute of God is his love. This word contains his mercy, grace, and loving- kindness. God wants to share a relationship with each of us. I John 4:7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  Another attribute is God’s righteousness. I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  There are many more attributes of God. (https://www.woodmenvalley.org/images/images_WVC/365%20Attributes%20of%20God.pdf)

Have you ever tried to put who God is to you into mere words? David the writer of the Psalms did this pouring out his heart to God. For he recognized that God is sovereign, just, holy, and loved him in a way no one else ever could. Today's contemporary music gives us a chance to worship. Phrases are sound over and over that give praise to God. I love to sing the phrases that repeat because I am meditating and each time I receive a phrase as it sinks deeper into my heart.

So often as we read Scripture the words simply fly by without grasping the beauty and the depth of the meaning. When we repeat the words they sink deeper into our hearts. When these words just as in the video include “Glory, Glory Hallelujah” we are reminded of who our God is to us.

When I read Scripture as in Mark 10:21, Jesus “looked at him and loved him.”  Picture yourself in the young ruler's place, Jesus is looking at you. Jesus is looking at me. Can you imagine the intensity of his gaze? Can you imagine the excitement and love that you will feel knowing that Jesus who died on the cross for you and for me is looking just at us? He is beside you now and beside me.

Then you will understand how to delight in the Lord. I often wonder about the thinking of those who write lyrics for us to sing in the Lord's house. I think one of the most exciting set of lyrics that paints a picture of who God is for me is, The Revelation Song (Kari Jobe - - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-zk-E55dRk).

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, Holy, holy is He.
Sing a new song to Him who sits on Heaven’s mercy seat.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation, I sing praise to the king of Kings
You are my everything and I will adore you.

Clothed in rainbows of living color,
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder,
Blessing and honor, strength and glory, and power be
To you the only wise King.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything and I will adore You.

Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
 At the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power, bread and living water,
Such a marvelous mystery.

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
You are my every thing and I will adore You, I will adore You.






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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Listening for Peace

For a week I prepared my story as to why I did poorly in math.  I thought of various rationalizations.  I thought of excuses.  I thought of all the homework I didn’t do.  I conjectured that an “F” could miraculously transform into at least a “C”.  It was a long week filled with anxiety.  What would Dad say?  What would Dad do?  Then the day came.  I peeked at my report card.  A blazing neon “F” blared back at me.  My heart pounded.  I hoped an angel would swoop me off the earth.  Maybe the world would come to an end before I could arrive home.  Any sense of peace had long since left me.  I walked into the house.  Dad asked to see my report card.  I handed it to him.  Then Dad sat down and did the worst thing he could have done – he wept.   That is all…. he wept.

All sense of peace disappeared.  Every time I looked at Dad, I remembered that I made him cry. Something in our relationship was broken.  I no longer hadthe position of the blessed daughter, but a deep disappointment.  He loved me, but the relationship was strained.

What is this elusive condition of the heart and the mind?  This thing called Peace.  Peace is not the absence of strife, the outward show of fighting?  It has the essence of purity, the sweetness of forgiveness, the delicate aroma of obedience and the foundation of love and joy.  Peace is a conscious choice made each moment of our lives to be in harmony.

“Agree with God, and be at peace; thereby good will come to you.” Job 22:21

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  I Thessalonians 5:23

How can we achieve this gracious joy of peace?  Our pastor proclaimed that we should listen for peace.  Immediately questions arose in my mind.  What is peace?  How do we achieve peace?  Why is peace a good state of being?  Can we enjoy the state of peace in the midst of turmoil or pain?  What causes peace to vanish?  Some of the ways of disturbing the peace in our hearts are secrets, untruths, unforgiveness, judgemental thinking, addictions to erase stress.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9

Listening is a key to being a peacemaker.  And the most difficult key to being a peacemaker.  Those involved in a conflict are wounded and at the heart of every act of violence is an unhealed wound.  When we meet a conflict with conflict, angry words with angry words or an aggressive act with an aggressive act, peace is broken in the hearts and in the minds of the those involved in an ever growing circle of gossip. 

God’s Word gives us the key to peace, and there is no law against peace.  It is a part of the fruit of the spirit.  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

The verses just before these two verses speak of the chasm between the desires and gratification of the flesh and the desires of the Spirit.

The works of the flesh are obvious and lead to brokenness:  Now the works of the flesh are evident: … sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,  idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions,  envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21.
 
The works of the flesh and the works of the heart are relational.  Choosing whom you will serve is a matter of relationship.  The fruit of the flesh create division and hate while the fruit of the spirit create love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control.

Equip ourselves with God’s Word readies us for the snares of the Evil One.  Being equipped draws a picture from the past when we walked to the waiting room.  I followed a ‘ready man’ as he proudly carried our eldest son, Dan.  Ed wore cowboy boots and jeans and a flannel shirt.  His back pockets spoke volumes of readiness.  The left back pocket held a diaper partially tucked in.  The right back pocket held a baby bottle.  Everything Dan needed was ‘at ready’.

Many years ago, our family of four children, Ed and me, sat at the supper and discussed what we wanted on our tombstones.  We decided to place a screwdriver in Ed’s casket because he likes to fix things.  The children said mine should be, “She was just trying to help!”  It was a freewheeling way of life-planning. It gave us all some self-evaluation of the way our lives were going.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. II Thessalonians 3:16

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