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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Language of Peace

On a warm summer day, a young girl, the older sister, teased her younger brothers until they retaliated.  When their Mom tried to make peace between her children, the peace was short-lived.  This Mom then explained to the children what was happening.  Speaking to her daughter, she said, when you provoke your brothers, they will, of course, want to hit you.  You are causing their retaliation. 

Then This Mom added, “It hurts me so much, that my three children I love very much, fight. The daughter heard her mother, and her words pierced her heart.  She caused her Mom heartache by her behavior.

Words can hurt, words can provoke anger, words can be weapons that kill the spirit of an individual – no matter how young or old.  Words can promote unrest or peace.  It matters what words we use.

As I observe the world and its plethora of words zinging across the ether world, I see hurt, chaos and death following in a cloud of darkness.  Between nations, between people, between family members and in God’s house the hurting words proliferate.  The right to get even begins early and grows exponentially through the years unless checked.
While reading God’s Word today, I came across these healing words.

In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.  Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.  Colossians 3:11-13

Jesus Christ is all that matters – it is not our fragile ego that matters.  He lives in us.  He chose us; He loves us.  No matter where on earth we live, our culture, slave or free, Jew or Gentile – He loves us.  Why does he matter?  Because He created us – and He loves us so much, He came to this earth to save us from our sins, which are many. 

How difficult it is to understand there is more than this earth.  Living in this world is not all there is.  We are chosen to be his holy people.  We are to make allowances for each other’s faults and forgive anyone – ANYONE – who offends us.  Even as the Lord forgives us, so we must forgive others.  Are forgiving others too hard?   And we stutter with an unforgiving heart – “But, but, but, you don’t know….!” 

Now the list of words that make us God’s Holy Children, the Children of Light….when we understand and follow Him. Tender-heartedness, Mercy, Kindness, Humility, Gentleness, and Patience.  These are nouns that turn into Holy attitudes and behaviors.  This way of thinking leads us to the Fruit of the Spirit.  These behaviors can only be lived through the Holy Spirit we receive when we accept Jesus as Lord and Master.  These behaviors bring Peace, Forgiveness, and the Joy of Jesus... 

There are places of peace of sounds and sights all around us.  We hear the sweet song of the brook as it wends its way.  The birds sing their praise to God perched in a tree. The wind sighs and pleads with us to know its Maker.  The falling raindrops create a song as they dance on the leaves of the trees.  The lazy cloud that drifts through God’s skies gives us peace, as does the laughter of innocent children.  God gives us sight to see and know his peace as we watch a young deer lope across a field or rabbits hopping through the tall grass.  Fish swimming lazily in a river delight us as does a vineyard laden with ripened fruit. 

As time goes on, the tastes of comfort and peace God ready us for the Peace in Life Eternal.  These are the words of Jesus - “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am.  John 14:27-28

How am I doing in the Language of Peace so closely related to Love?  I find these questions in Gary Chapman’s book – God Speaks Your Language of Love:
1.  How do I most often express love to other people?
2.  What do I complain about most often?
3.  What do I request most often?

When we listen to the language we use – and others hear – is this what we desire?  Are our words filled with Love and Peace and Joy?  Do they wound or heal? Are we concerned more with our rights and desires?  Is our Language directed at others wounding our God who loves us all? 

 - Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
 - May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.  By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.  2 Peter 1:2-3      

 - Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. 2 John 1:3


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Language of Love

One of my earliest memories was of words.  We visited my Grosmom Siemens, a tiny raven-haired Grandmother, who kept molasses cookies in the tin drawer of her kitchen cabinet.  If I said “High-Hoopa” (phonetically spelled) she would break into laughter and give me a cookie.

Then we retired to the living room.  Drowsy, I laid on the carpeted floor and listened to Plautt Deutch words swirl around me lulling me to sleep.  Once in a while an English word would sneak in, and I could follow a bit of the conversation.  At home my Dad and Mom spoke English.  They never spelled words when their conversation was withheld from us.  They simply spoke the old ‘at home’ language – Plautt Deutch.

One time I managed to mangle Plautt Deutch while trying to converse with my aunts and uncles, Dad, the inveterate teacher, explained the syntax of the language to me.  “I jump out the window and run around the house” becomes “I jump the window out and the house I run around.” 

For a time Grosmom came to stay with us.  We managed to have halting conversations, though minimum, they were satisfactory for both of us.  She spoke in Plautt Deutch and I answered in English.   We understood.  Since she came from Russia when she was sixteen years old, she taught me to count in Russian to ten.  In high school I learned the Latin language one year.  In college I learned to sing in Italian and French.  When I enrolled in a French class, the vocabulary list became my ‘waterloo’.  One day a student from Greece flawlessly translated into French into English.  Our French teacher explained that she did twice as much work as we did.  She translated from Greek to French to English – traveling through three languages. 

One of our sons had a gift for learning languages, a smidge of German, French, and several other languages, plus computer languages.  Our daughter spoke fluent programming languages.  All of our children communicated in various ways and enjoyed phrases of Plautt Deutch in our every day language.

Time went by and English became my sole language.  When Chinese ladies became my friends, less than 10 years ago, I desired, for a while, to learn Chinese.  The weight of years and living placed a barrier before me.  Last week, the mystery of language came at me full force again.  It was there all the time. 

What language does God speak?  How will I know it is God speaking?  What does He sound like?  How did Noah know to obey God and build the ark?  How did Noah know God spoke to him?  Why would God speak to Noah – v9 - Noah was a righteous man, the only blameless person living on earth at the time, and he walked in close fellowship with God.  (The bold faced words are the Why – righteousness/blameless and walked in close fellowship with God.)
In Genesis 6:13-16 - So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth! “Build a large boat from cypress wood and waterproof it with tar, inside and out. Then construct decks and stalls throughout its interior. Make the boat 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high.  Leave an 18-inch opening below the roof all the way around the boat. Put the door on the side, and build three decks inside the boat—lower, middle, and upper."
What language did God and Noah speak?  And what language did God speak to Abraham when he said…When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’ Serve me faithfully and live a blameless life.  I will make a covenant with you, by which I will guarantee to give you countless descendants.” At this, Abram fell face down on the ground. Then God said to him,  “This is my covenant with you: I will make you the father of a multitude of nations!  What’s more, I am changing your name. It will no longer be Abram. Instead, you will be called Abraham, for you will be the father of many nations.  I will make you extremely fruitful. Your descendants will become many nations, and kings will be among them!”  Genesis 17:1-6.
Then Abraham, name changed, and Sarah, name changed, pulled up stakes and left Ur of Chaldees and headed for Canaan.  We have the Scriptures, the Word of God, yet when we read a command, we say – that must be for someone else – surely not me.  Abraham believed, he had faith.  At 99, he didn’t say, “Let me sleep on that and make plans!”  No, his obedience was instant.  He knew God, the El-Shaddai – God Almighty!
God spoke (with language) to Noah, Abraham and Moses.  In the beginning God spoke Creation into being – what language did He use?  Often God speaks to us through His Creation.  Each day, the daily news means only one thing to me.  God is at work!  Creation-Language.  There is our body language.  The saying that our actions speak louder than our words is true.  We may say God is Love, but when our actions say otherwise, they are heard much clearer. 
When I was a child, my first memory verse, God is Love, meant little to me.  As I near the sunset years of my life, God is Love, those three words, become a huge mountain of truth.  God is Love is the foundation of the Who, God is.  God is Love… is a lifeline to Righteousness and the Forever.  God is Love…brings hope and joy into our lives.  God is Love….is the language He speaks.  God is Love… is what makes life worth living.  God is Love… is the glue that holds us together.  God is Love gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16

Taking a phrase from Gary Chapman (Five Love Languages), I wonder what language God understands when we talk to Him…
The Touch Recognizing His Presence.  Words of AffirmationPraise and Adoration.  Quality Time Seeking His Presence in study and prayer.  Acts of ServiceGiving from what He has given me to give others, using our hands, our feet and our hearts.  Receiving Gifts Accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior, Accepting blessings, answers to prayer, the seeming coincidences of life as His leading.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hands of Love

The hands of a baby, such delicate parts of the body, yet such strength God has created in the ten fingers.  Sometimes I look at my 85 year old hands – wrinkled, and sprinkled with brown spots – and wonder whose hands these are.  I remember my Grosmom Siemens’ hands and how she could pinch skin on the back of her hand and the skin remained vertical for some time.  Now my skin does the same thing.  Age as well as youth is a time of wonder.

The intricately God-made hands have many uses to show emotions and feelings and serve.  I remember Mom’s hands.  They created a song, loaves of bread, coaxed a flower into being or a new dress.  She comforted and soothed each baby she held.  Her hands held God’s Word and folded themselves in prayer.  She held a pencil or touched the keys on a typewriter to create word-pictures of prose or poetry.

Her hands were tools of the seen and the unseen.  She held out a bouquet of flowers she grew for the sick and aged to give hope and love.  She baked loaves of bread to feed the hungry and hopeless.  She guided hands over the black and white keys of the piano to heights of ecstasy of sound.  She wielded a hammer and other tools to build my desk and bed.  Nothing was too small. Mom created beauty with the small tatting spindle with patience deal and a spool of thread.

Each human hand has 27 bones.  Wikipedia describes the hand.  Fingers are some of the densest areas of nerve endings on the body, are the richest source of tactile feedback, and have the greatest positioning capability of the body; thus the sense of is intimately associated with hands. Like other paired organs, each hand is dominantly controlled by the opposing brain hemisphere, so that ‘handedness’, or the preferred hand choice for single-handed activities such as writing with a pencil, reflects individual brain functioning.  This is a portion of information about the hands.

Then there is what is known as ‘heart-deep’ hands used for babies, the ill, the blind, the elderly and Alzheimer’s patients – words such as reassurance, trust, calming and friendship are words that comes from those who use their loving and caring hands. 

Billy Graham said, God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with With hands there is a giving and receiving.  Hands create choices every day.  Will we give or will we just receive with hands.  God created hands to have and hold our children, our loved ones, dispensing our love.  Or do we let anger and unrest create weapons of our hands to face the world?  It is our choice.

Walk with Adam as he tended the Garden of Eden and Abraham as he raised the knife to sacrifice Isaac to God. Can you see David lift the slingshot in his hands and slay the giant?  Can you see the mothers of Moses, Hannah and Jesus cradle their sons? Can you see Moses carrying a staff to lead the Children of Israel for 40 long years?  Can you see Hannah leaving her precious son with Eli? Can you see Mary holding Jesus and pondering His birth?  Can you see the hands of Judas as he carried the thirty pieces of silver as he brought the soldiers to betray Jesus?  
Now, walk with me as we see the love and compassion that flows through the hands of Jesus.  I see Him gather the little children to Him to lay his hands on them and pray.  I see Him lay his hands on the sick and infirm.  (Matthew 9:34-36) He healed every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people.  He raised Lazarus from the dead.  Why?  He felt compassion upon them.

Jesus, our Savior, a Man of Compassion, a Man of Love, a Man of Eternity.  Jesus is the Shepherd of lost lambs.  What do His Hands have to do with His greatness?

Jesus, after being betrayed, was taken from the Garden of Gethsemane by soldiers to be scourged and tried.  Then he carried his cross to the Hill of Golgotha.  The soldiers nailed him to the cross.  The nails pierced the flesh of his hands…and love poured out.  His compassion and love did not waver as his blood ran to forgive us of our sins.  The unimaginable burden of all sins during all time weighed on his heart.

And Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.  Luke 23:46.  And then Jesus was buried to rise on the first day.

Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.  And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.  Matthew 28:1-3

So when it was evening on that daythe first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”  John 20:19

But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” Acts 7:55-56

The hands that made the universe and made us, save us.  We look at our hands and look up.  We ask Jesus to use our hands to serve Him and others – in His Name.  His great love and compassion echo in these lyrics by David Crowder….

In His hands that hung the sky, In His hands that touched the blind, In His hands, He is holding me
In His hands that flung the stars, In His hands that bear the scars, In His hands, He is holding me
Oh, Jesus, the One who frees us, the One who holds us all up, Jesus, the One who saves us, the One who holds us all, In His hands of love.