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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

This Thanksgiving

During a small Bible Study a group gathered for prayer and Bible Study.  The minister asked for prayer requests.  The requests poured from our lips non-stop.  Then our minister asked for praises, what we are thankful for.  During the abrupt silence that ensued, I searched my mind for a really big ‘praise’.  My mind went blank.  I looked around the room at those gathered there, the room grew silent.  “Surely someone has something to thank the Lord for….”

How Great Thou Art, sang in my head.  What am I thankful for?  I am thankful for my home, my family, music, my husband, my friends in Christ, the experiences I had, our salvation in Jesus Christ, my parents and being their child.  I am thankful for the beauty of creation that surrounds me, the sunrises and sunsets, the stars and moon at night, the vibrant colors of Spring and Fall, the cleanness of snow, the shimmering waters of the nearby lake, the glorious trees that lift their arms to pray to God.  The majestic mountains so high, they were tipped with snow.  The birds that fill my life with melodies, the lush greenery decorated with blossoms of intricate design and beauty.

But those aren’t big, or are they?  One family has the tradition of telling what they are most thankful for – one by one.  It is always more than Thanksgiving dinner, more likely it includes relationships of siblings and parental guidance.

Being thankful brings a smile.  Karl Barth said that Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.  That is it – when we are shown gratitude, it brings joy to our heart.  Each day, my husband, now deep into dementia, teaches me gratitude.  He doesn’t remember his children or grandchildren.  He doesn’t remember me.  But he never fails to say, “Thank you!” over and over again for a glass of water, for a meal, for taking him to the bathroom and for putting on a clean shirt.  When someone helps with the walker, he says, “I appreciate you!”

I like this scripture, Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Psalm 85:10.  I would add this: When a heart of gratitude meets a serving heart, peace and joy break forth in song of thanksgiving.

A small child finds many things for which to thank the Lord God.  We are to be as little children as we come to God, humble, searching and thankful for every gift from God.  A child thanks God for a new puppy, a friend, Mom’s apple pie, the swing in the back yard, new jeans and a myriad other blessings.  Such thankfulness is a delight to God, who loves all his little children.  Somehow we forget our own thankful heart as we grow older.

It is more than a football game, more than food – it is all about love, the attitude of gratitude that permeates the heart.

When we find joy in the little things God gives us, a bird that visits our office window, a butterfly kiss, a rainbow, a melody of praise, the aroma of fresh baked bread and holding a small babe fresh from a bath.  Receiving a letter from a cousin and an email from a grandchild.  Each evening, a message comes from a daughter, Night, night, I love you, Mom.

“As long as thanks is possible, then joy is always possible.”   Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts.

Develop the eye of seeing the huge and little gifts from God and let the joy spring up in your heart this moment, this day, this year.  God told Elijah, the prophet, to stand on the mount.  Elijah did.  And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.  I Kings 19:11-12

Listen for the love-whispers of our Lord and give thanks for our Lord who gives us Hope through Jesus Christ every day in a myriad ways.

Mother wrote many poems in her lifetime (1907-1998) and I found this one while writing.

We walk through Indian summer day, O’er mounted blessings on our way.
We think of fruit and garnered grain, Of sunny skies and gentle rain.
A touch of pain to guard our health, A bit of want to thank for wealth.
Of love enfolding all of man, Around this world and back again.
Of hates all weeded, joys all sown. Of nourished hopes, at last full-grown.
Of family trees that ever grow. And all the special friends we know.
Count not enough one day of praise, But thank the Lord through all your days.
Anna Daisy Siemens.

† - I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased. ...  Psalm 138
† - Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with
 thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16
† - And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Colossians 3;15
† - Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Ephesians 5:20


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

My Reality

Jesus has become my reality.  Life is filled with stages.  At each stage, as a daughter, as a student, as a wife, as a mother, as a grandmother, as a teacher, as a retired teacher – I wondered – Now what does life hold for me?  I wondered how I would fill the new role, what would it take?  Along the way I had glimpses of The Reality.  Then this physical reality dropped on us – a caregiver for my husband with the diagnosis of Dementia (Lewy Body). 

The bravado, the ‘I can do it’, was stripped away from me and I felt undone.  No amount of studying or preparation could ready me for this reality.  It was then that one of my favorite songs became a daily prayer… Just a Closer Walk with You.  Just a closer walk with Thee, Grant it Jesus, is my plea, Daily walking close to Thee, Let it be, dear Lord, let it be…

This diagnosis was not in my plans, but it is in God’s plans. As I ponder why, I realize I can’t do this alone.  I need family and a host of helpers who around me.  I need a closer walk with Jesus. Even in my 80’s, I am a work in progress.  I am still learning.  I am learning what it is to serve, to put another’s needs before what I think I need at the moment.  I am learning to trust my husband, of almost 64 years, to the care of others. 

As one season fades into another, and comes again, I watch my years advance and my body weaken.  Each season, I learn to trust him more.  His Word gives me strength.  The kindness and love and giving from others bolsters my will to continue each day.  My reality moves over and in its place is the Reality of Jesus.

Listening to the messages from our minister on I Am…a new creation, a servant, an adopted child, clothed in Christ, in Christ, a creature – fearfully and wonderfully made.  Then this last week – I am weak!  This is my reality…I am weak!  Then I read 2 Corinthians 12:10 and know with Apostle Paul – For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong!

True strength comes from the reality of the love Jesus gave us by being sin for us – on the cross.  He put aside his life with his Father in Heaven, and came down as a tiny helpless baby.  Think of the trust He had and the love He has for those born before and those who come after.

So many heart-aches in the world of so many people. I remember my many weaknesses and I rejoice that I can be made strong in Him, only to serve and glorify Him.  I wonder sometimes how He can love me.

One of the ways God speaks to me is His Word with the Love and Peace and Joy pouring from each page.  Another way are through the melodies of faith with lyrics such as – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus, And He Walks with Me and He Talks with Me and He tells me I am His Own, Jesus Loves Me, This I know, Amazing Love, How Sweet the Sound, His Eye is On the Sparrow and I Know He Watches Me and Going Home, Going Home, I’m just Going Home.  It’s not far, just close by, I’m just Going Home.

I give thanks to God for the blessings He pours upon me each day, and the security I feel in His love.  I give thanks to Him for those He places around me to encourage and to teach me.  I give thanks for the opportunity to be alive, for each breath, for each blessing God places in my life.  The longer I live, the more the blessings of God around me are not bought but experienced – such as the drops of rain, a stray butterfly, the wind rippling through the leaves playing a silent melody of praise. And the innocent laughter of children.

And more.  This is my Reality.  Then I can serve one more week, one more day and one more moment – because of Him – because He is faithful.

Then I hear this song, and it is my prayer and my plea for my reality:
Give me faith to trust what You say, That You're good, and Your love is great.  I'm broken inside, I give You my life. I may be weak, but Your Spirit's strong in me.  My flesh may fail, but My God You never will.
Holiness is Christ in me…Jesus is my reality.  Where sin runs deep Your grace is more, Where grace is found, is where You are. Where You are, Lord I am free.  Holiness is Christ in me, Yes, where You are, Lord I am free, Holiness is Christ in me.

Holiness is Christ in me.  Jesus is my reality….the words penetrate my heart with understanding.  Going Home, it's not far....I'm just going home.

- Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Ephesians 1:4
† - My eyes are always on the Lord, for he rescues me from the traps of my enemies.  Psalm 25:15
† - That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:10
† - But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13
† - And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him. I John 5:14-15
† - For the law possesses a shadow of the good things to come but not the reality itself, and is therefore completely unable, by the same sacrifices offered continually, year after year, to perfect those who come to worship. Hebrews 10:1

Give Me Faith -

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Our Awesome God!

After reading a part of Crazy Love by Francis Chan, I checked out the video,
“The Awe Factor of God”. (
The immensity of the Universe created by God is presented in perspective of light years,  Two hundred million light years away we see many galaxies, and buried in this immensity is the Milky Way – a cluster of stars.  Within this cluster of stars, our earth is found.  I am not a scientist, but this video gives me the beginning of understanding of how inconsequential we are without God’s Love. His awesomeness surrounds us.

This tiny speck in space where we live our even smaller lives suddenly take on a different perspective.  Truly, Our God is Awesome is an understatement.  For even though our world is so small, God created this world for us.  He create such immensely complicated systems that man is unable to understand all its wonder.

He created our body…and recently a friend sent this email telling some of its complexity:
Heart -  pumps approximately 2000 gallons of blood through its chambers and beats more Than 100,000 times to achieve this incredible feat.
Lungs – 17,000 breaths a day….automatically.
Brain – 50,000 thoughts pass though each day, or 35-48 thoughts each minute.
Stomach – walls in the stomach lining produce an alkaline substance ever few milliseconds to neutralize acid.  Otherwise, it would digest itself.
Eyes – Blink about 28,800 times each day to keep eyes clean and moist.  90% of the information we process is visual.
Body’s Energy – Expelled via heat.  The body produces the same heat as 25 light bulbs over the course of a single day.

And that doesn’t include the workings of our skin, or hair, our voice or any other parts of our Body.  This body, in which we live, is created by the Lord our God.  The One who loves us.  It is a love that knows no bounds.  The love that is not fickle, is patient, kind, not jealous or boastful or rude and keeps no record of wrong doing.  Love that does not lose faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. (I Corinthians 13).

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16.

This same God who loves us, this same God who sent His one and only Son, is the same Awesome God who led Abraham on a journey and protected Daniel in the lions’ den.  He Is the same Awesome God who turned Jonah back to the people of Nineveh and the same Awesome God who raised His Son Jesus from the dead.

How can we not love Him with all our hearts and worship Him.  This is the same God Who lives in Holiness.  Holiness, from God’s perspective, is intimately connected to how we treat people. Holiness is rooted in relationship.  This is a quote from Rebecca Manley Pippert’sbook – Out of the Salt Shaker and into the World.  A relationship in holiness does not contain anger, gossip or critical judgement of others.  If we were able to create a universe including snow flakes – each one a different design, Maybe, then we can judge others.  Until then, judgement belongs only to our Lord God. 

There is another miracle that our Lord God does for each of us.  When we accept His Son Jesus, and Him only – He begins a DNA transplant of our hearts through the blood of His Son Jesus.  We are not able to live a holy life without His Hand in our lives.  We are not able to forgive others or ourselves for wrongs, yet our Lord God gives us strength to forgive. 

Long ago, King David prayed a prayer that holds true for us even today.  Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10.  David knew it needed to be a new creation – a heart transplant, to have a heart free from sin. 

Even so, when we come to Jesus, and worship only Him.  We become a new creation in Christ.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

The lyrics of the praise song, Sovereign (Chris Tomlin) reveals our response to our Awesome God.  Sovereign in my greatest joy, Sovereign in my deepest cry, With me in the dark, with me at the dawn.  In your everlasting arms, All the pieces of my life, From beginning to the end, I can trust you.  In your never failing love, You work everything for good, God whatever comes my way, I will trust you.”

“Who is like you among the gods, O Lord— glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?   Exodus 15:11

 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Announce this to the entire community of Israel: ‘Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud.  Exodus 16:9-10

Then I said, “O Lord, God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps his covenant of unfailing love with those who love him and obey his commands,  Nehemiah 1:5

Come, everyone! Clap your hands! Shout to God with joyful praise!  For the Lord Most High is awesome. He is the great King of all the earth. He subdues the nations before us, putting our enemies beneath our feet.  Psalm 47:1-3


Tuesday, November 03, 2015


Come – an invitation for your presence…what joy it is to be wanted, desired and to belong.  We are invited to enjoy a new experience and fellowship with others who are also invited.

 Have you ever been invited to a gathering and looked around at the other guests and felt very unprepared to fit in because of the clothes you chose to wear?  That uncomfortable feeling begins from the bottom of your feet, and doesn’t end until the top of your head.  What a blessing to know God looks on the heart and not the latest fashion, or if we have an extra long nose, or our head is balding. 

When I was a child, I asked my mother why she always wore a hat to church.  I knew we were too poor to buy a hat, and mother made her own hats.  Evidently the Come as You Are… phrase had not penetrated the moirĂ©s of society in the 1930’s.  Jesus had not heard of it either as he said…Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Matthew 11:28.  Jesus helps us bear the burdens of life and gives us the joy of knowing He cares, and these burdens will not last. 

Zacchaeus, the wee little man in the tree, did not have a warning that Jesus was coming to his house.  He just wanted to see Jesus.  Jesus didn’t give Zacchaeus a chance to prepare or cook a meal for days or clean the house, He just came. 

As I searched references for the word ‘come’ in the Bible, I began to see the promises of God if we come to Him, just as we are.  David asked for protection from his persecutors, safety and refuge, help, and to come quickly. 

But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” Matthew 19:14

Jesus invites us to come to Him without pretence and with wide-eyed adoration.  Even as children try their best to please, so Jesus asks us, jaded with world, filled with sin and deception, to come to Him as children.  There are no masks or hidden secrets, we simply come with every part of our being to our Creator and know we will be loved!

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6:35

Imagine never being hungry or thirsty.  When we fill our lives with things of the world, there is no room for Jesus.  There is a hunger that is more than physical hunger, but a spiritual hunger.  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.  Ecclesiastes 3:11

This eternity is implanted deep in our soul as a hunger that can only be satisfied by loving and trusting Jesus.  When we invite Jesus into our lives, He begins to fill that void that gnaws and grates at our being.  It is as if we know there is more, but we can never know how to be rid of the hunger until we accept the invitation of Jesus to Come to Him.
 How close is Jesus to you and to me? “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.  Revelation 3:20. This one verse tells us that he is with us, just outside of the door of our hearts.  He wants to give us the bread of life and living water…and this will satisfy and give us peace and hope. Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  John 6:35  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” John 7:38

The rejections that we feel in life from family and friends through the perceived lack of something in our lives; and the rejection in applying for jobs or places are gone in Jesus.  However, those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. John 6:37.  We are never rejected when we come to Jesus.  He loved us first.

The final ‘come’, is the Second Coming of Jesus.  “Look, I will come as unexpectedly as a thief! Blessed are all who are watching for me, who keep their clothing ready so they will not have to walk around naked and ashamed.”  Revelation 16:15.  And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.  Galatians 3:27.  What garments should we be wearing….?  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5

† - He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! ComeLord Jesus!  Revelation 22:20
† - I come to you for protection, O Lord my God. Save me from my persecutors—rescue me!  Psalm 7:1
† - Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.  Psalm 16:1
† - O Lord, I have come to you for protection; don’t let me be disgraced. Save me, for you do what is right.  Psalm 31:1
† - Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.  Psalm 33:28
† - The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, I am the Messiah!”  John 4:25-26
† - 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 12:46
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.  John 14:6
† - 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 14:8
† - But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.  John 15:26
† - And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.  Colossians 3:15
† - 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