Wednesday, November 21, 2012

On the Hook

Sudden death.

He didn't linger for weeks or months or years with an illness that fated him to die.  His family and friends didn't have time to say their goodbyes, give him one last hug or kiss.   One last "I love you".

He was just gone.

I got the phone call.   My good friend since high school had passed away suddenly.   The guy that was part of my life and my family's life.  He came in and out of our lives intermittently.   He was never one that you could depend on to show up on time or even show up at all.   He popped in occasionally, shared a tale or two, reminisced about the old days, belly laughed a bit.   Then he would be gone again and we might not see him for a year or two.   But we loved each other and he was part of our family.   A part of our hearts.  Always welcome.

Who would think he would be gone so fast?   Like a frightened gasp of breath, or the blink of an eye.  It's still so difficult to get my mind around it.   My friend is gone.   In my mind, I see him sitting in my living room and us catching each other up on things.   Sharing our lives once again.   But....he'll never knock on my door again. Never call unexpectedly just to talk.    I'll never hear his voice or his laugh again.

He left me with a hurting heart and sorrowful spirit.  

After I heard the terrible news, I tried to recall if we had ever talked about Jesus.   I could not remember.   I remembered snippets of conversations when he mentioned "the man upstairs" or 'the big guy".   But I didn't know for sure if he had ever asked Jesus to be his savior. 

How could I not know that?

I couldn't get the thought out of my mind.   Over and over again, I berated myself for never talking with him openly about the matter.   Then I began to pray  and ask the Lord to somehow please let me know if my friend was in heaven with Him.

They  held a memorial service for him and although I wanted to be there, I didn't go for various reasons.

My daughter was able to attend the services and called me afterwards to tell me about it.   She said that several people shared memories, but that two people stood up and shared about the time that our friend had asked Jesus into his life.   

Praise God!   There were two witnesses!   Relief flooded over me and I began to thank God for answering my request for this priceless news!    My friend is with the Lord and one day I will see him again and we will worship together.    Now my heart and soul are at peace about him.

But now I am on the hook.   I didn't share Jesus with him?   Thank God that someone else did.   But not me?

Why not?

There is no excuse.

It is our  mission... our purpose... our responsibility as Christians to share Jesus with others, especially those close to us.   

The death of my loved friend brought this home to me so sharply and personally.      He was here one moment and then gone.  

How can I not reach out and share Jesus with others?   No one knows when their life will end.   You never know when it will be the last time  you hug that friend or family member.     Death is certain yet unexpected.   It is sudden.   I know this.   WE know this.   We all have or will at some time experience the loss of a loved one. 

Yes.   I am on the hook now.   I never want to wonder about someone again.  I don't want to have that kind of regret.   I want to KNOW that I shared Jesus with them.     I want them to know Him.

It is urgent.   It is imperative.   It is my purpose, my mission, my responsibility.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son; that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.     (John 3: 16-18)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bugs Me

I was out walking the other day and a little green bug kept buzzing by me... flying up around my head and buzzing... buzzing... buzzing..   I kept swatting it away and it finally flew off. 

A few minutes later it was back again.. this time taking a different tack.   It just kept buzzing in front of me and I swatted at it again.

Poor little bug... it was just buzzing.    But I was walking and I didn't want to be bothered by a bug.

Funny how God can use something so inconsequential to get our attention.    This little buzzy bug made me wonder how many times I have swatted away when the Holy Spirit was rising up inside me... bugging me about something, reminding me of something, trying to empower me to do something. 

How many times have I written Him off as unimportant or inconvenient?   How many times have I ignored His promptings because I was just walking through life focused on something else?

That really bugs me.

LORD, please keep me aware of Your presence.  Holy Spirit, please keep speaking to my spirit. Help me to always hear and respond rightly.   In Jesus Name, Amen.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Fairy Princess Story

Two years old.   What an amazing age.   Innocence.  Trust.   Imagination. 

My youngest grandbaby is Sydnie.   The entire world revolves around her... as it should.  

She is a princess.   I mean really.   A princess.

I had the most wonderful pleasure of spending a few hours one on one with her recently.     Mommy had shopping to do and Sydnie has to be picked up from her "mother's day out".     

When Sydnie saw me, her face broke into a huge grin.  She yelled "Grandmama!" and ran to me with arms open wide for a big hug!   Those are the best!   It makes my heart smile just thinking of it.

We gathered up her lunch bag and backpack with all of her priceless possessions  in them and headed out the door.  

Immediately upon being seated in her car seat, she asked for her wipstick.    So we dug through her bag and found her little tube of wipstick.   Wipstick is a necessary item for Sydnie.    She goes no where without having first made sure that she has her wipstick in place.    She opens that little tube and rubs it on her lips a thousand times a day just to make sure that she is pretty all the time.

We stopped to get something to drink and within minutes the drink was spilled all over the backseat of my truck along with the bag of goldfish crackers that she opened upside down.   Smile.

"It's okay Sydnie... Grandmama will clean it up."

She managed to salvage a few of the goldfish from the  seat and then wanted strawberries.   Once again, I browsed through her lunch bag and sure enough I found a baggie full of sliced strawberries!   I gave her the bag and she managed to eat everyone of them without dropping or spilling.   But her little face was covered in strawberry juice!

This was all within about 5 minutes of leaving the church.

Finally home!   It begins.   "Where's my wipstick?    Grandmama, I need my wipstick."   Well, the wipstick was no where to be found.   I searched my truck.   I searched her bags.  I searched my purse.   We looked all over the house wherever Sydnie had been since we got home.   Couldn't find it anywhere.   She asked and asked for it continually.  

Eventually distracted from the wipstick, she decided it was time to play dress up.   After pulling out several outfits, she changed two or three times and finally decided on  a  shimmering fairy costume with wings accessorized by her little pink high heel slippers.

About that time, I discovered that her Gaggie was missing.  My heart skipped a beat!  Her Gaggie is all important to Sydnie.   She goes no where without Gaggie.    Gaggie is her treasured and bedraggled baby blanket.   

She has not thought about Gaggie.    Yet.

Not wanting to alarm her and cause my  little fairy princess granddaughter any distress, I loaded her back up into the car seat in my truck, and headed back to the church hoping and praying that someone was there so that we could rescue Gaggie and return it to Sydnie before she ever knew it was missing.      There would be no peace in the house if Gaggie was not found.   I was in a state of panic just thinking about it!

We arrived at the church lickety split!    I unbuckled the fairy princess from the car seat, helped her out of the truck and started up the steps into the church building. 

She automatically reached for my hand as we started up the steps.    She had on her pretty little pink heels and took tiny little steps in the most graceful way as she held my hand and almost floated up those steps, with her fairy princess wings fluttering behind.

In the meantime, while she is floating in slow motion, I am trying to contain my anxiety and whispering frantic prayers that the building has not been locked up for the day.    Woe is me if Sydnie has to spend a night without Gaggie!   Woe is me if this Grandmama gets arrested for breaking into the church building in a well meaning attempt to reclaim Gaggie.   Surely the judge would understand my plight.  After all, the emotional well-being of a princess is at stake!

Thank goodness!   The church doors were open!  I am spared handcuffs and a sleepless night.   Though I could not see or hear anyone, like a trespasser  with my fairy princess in tow, I headed down the hallway to her classroom.   We opened the door and there lay Gaggie!   

I breathed a long sigh of relief, accompanied by a heart felt "Thank You Jesus!"

The fairy princess nonchalantly picks up her treasured friend and gracefully flutters out the door.

Back at home.   Fairy Princess and Gaggie in place.    Grandmama exhausted in a heap!

 Then it begins.   "Grandmama?"

"Yes, Sydnie?"

"Where's my wipstick?"        Smile.

Can you  imagine possessing the innocence and trust and imagination of a small child?    To know that when you reach out,  someone with loving hands will  take your hand and help you walk the hard places.   To have no worries because someone is looking out for you  and providing for you even when you don't  know  you need it.   To trust someone so completely that you allow them to lift you up and carry you.      To float along without a care because you are loved.   To know you are loved even when you make a mess of things.

God wants us to live in His kingdom with that childlike attitude.

Jesus said   "Let the little children come to Me and do not forbid them; for of such is the Kingdom of God.   Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it."    Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them.   (Mark 10: 14-16)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Tattered Patches

When I was a much younger woman, my Mamaw (that's southern for Grandmother, in case you are not from around here)   anyway... Mamaw decided to make quilts for her grandchildren.

She asked each of us what type of quilt we would like.    I thought about it for a while.   She had made  'dutch doll' quilts and "wedding ring" quilts and all kinds of beautiful quilts in her lifetime.    I had a 'dutch doll' quilt when I was a small child and I loved it.   I could have asked for any design.

But, I decided I wanted a simple patchwork quilt.   No specific design.   No fancy stitchwork.    Just a plain jane patchwork quilt.

She was a bit surprised, but said "okay".    

I gathered up fabric that was left over from dresses and outfits that my mother had sewn for my sisters and myself.   I had even more fabric from my grandmother's left overs.     I cut them all into 4 inch squares and delivered them to her.    All of the squares were from double knit fabric.   If you don't know what double knit is, you obviously are much younger than me.   I am NOT going to reveal the top secret information that is my current age.  You figure it out.     If you do remember double knit, then you already know that this stuff is indestructible.  

Mamaw and my mother and my aunts worked on these quilts for every one.    They worked on my quilt.  The squares were stitched together.   My patchwork quilt was created for me with love.

I absolutely loved my new quilt!   Not only because it was beautiful to me, but because it came from my Mamaw's own hands along with those of my Mom and Aunts.   Also, each patch reminded me of a dress that one of us had worn and I could even remember some of  the occasions on which they were worn.   

It was a gift.  One I specifically asked for.

Over the years, my patchwork quilt got a work out.   It was used all the time.   Cover up on the couch, spread on the bed, picnic blanket, football games, you name it.   It was my 'go to' quilt for all occasions.      My Mamaw is in Heaven with Jesus now, but she is remembered with much love; especially every time I wrapped up in my quilt.

Washed and dried over and over and over, my wonderful quilt eventually began to wear.   The patches didn't rot or grow thin like most fabric would.   Remember... it's double knit?    But the stitches began to loosen and the fabric backing on the quilt grew thin and worn.

Eventually my lovely quilt was in tatters.  It had come apart at the seams and patches were hanging by old and worn threads.

Sadly, I folded it for the last time and put it in my linen closet to be used no more.

That was several years ago.

Last year (2011), my Mom and I were talking about the coming Christmas.   It was only January, but I was going to be gone out of the country for a while and we were discussing whether or not I would be home for Christmas.    She asked me what I would like for Christmas that year.  

For some reason, my quilt came to mind.    I showed her the tattered rags of the quilt and asked her if she thought it could be repaired?    She said she would try and I told her that all I wanted for Christmas was for my quilt to be repaired and restored.    So she took it home with her.

Over the next few months, I totally forgot about that conversation and Christmas wish.

But while I was gone, my Mother and her wonderful sisters went to work.    They put my quilt back together and found yet another piece of double knit fabric that was large enough to become the new backing for it.

At Christmas that year, after all the presents were unwrapped and all the oooohhhsss and aaaahhhhhs over gifts were done... After all the torn gift wrap and bows were bagged up and the house became a little more quiet, Mom said.. "hold on a minute.   I have one more thing here."  And she brought out a gift bag and gave it to me.  

I was puzzled.   Why was there a special gift for me?  My Christmas request earlier that year was completely forgotten.  (That's one perk of getting older, I guess.  If you want to call it a perk.)

In that Christmas gift bag, all wrapped in colorful tissue paper, lay my quilt.    My wonderful and amazing patch work quilt made from my Mamaw's loving hands and my Mom's and Aunts' also!

I was blown away!    Tears came to my eyes as I examined my restored and remade quilt!   It was so beautiful and so absolutely incredible to me that it was made like new and useable again.    I wrapped up in it immediately and stayed wrapped up in it for the remainder of the day!

Once again, my patchwork quilt is used almost daily.    Snuggled up on the couch, thrown on the bed, as a pallet in the floor for the grandkids. 

It is so amazing to me that something that was once so useful and treasured could be restored and made useful and beautiful again.

Having my quilt back in tip top condition  made me think of how sometimes, as Christians, we feel like we have been used up.  Life has thrown us some curves.   Death.. divorce... financial problems... whatever.   All our resources and energy and 'want to' seem to have vanished into thin air and we feel like we are put on a shelf.  Unuseable.

But just like my quilt was restored and made new, God has a way for us to be restored and made new in Him.    He wraps Himself around us and comforts us and  stitches back the broken places and mends our torn and tattered hearts and spirits.   He patches us up and makes us new and beautiful and useable once again.  

Thank you Mom for restoring my beautiful patchwork quilt.   I will treasure it forever.

Thank You LORD for saving me and restoring my heart and my life. 


Friday, September 28, 2012

Jail Break!

A friend posted on the mesmerizing and hypnotizing scandal that is Facebook that when God asks us to do something outside our 'comfort zone' we say 'NO!'  even though we have prayed and asked  Him to increase our faith.

That started me thinking about comfort zones.    One definition of comfort is:  "a state of ease and satisfaction of bodily wants with freedom from pain and anxiety."

A definition of zone is:  "to divide into areas subject to special restriction."  (This definition is of the word zone used as a verb.)

So!   Given these definitions of two seemingly disparate words, I come up with this observation:   We have zoned ourselves into a state of ease and satisfaction with freedom from pain or anxiety.

We are zoned out.

We are restricted.

In other words, we are in a  prison of our own making.   

It's a cushy prison with all we could ever want or need in the way of fluffy mattresses to sleep on and overstuffed cushions to sit on, all the high tech electronics we could ever imagine, a well stocked pantry to supply even the tiniest twinge of hunger and our own hand picked set of friends and family.  Oh!  and don't forget our very own reserved seating at our church of choice.   Dontcha just love this place?!   Wow!   Every person's dream!   Thank You Jesus!

Although it is everything described above, it is nevertheless still a prison.   A self imposed prison.   In God's eyes, it holds us securely just as well as the prison cell in the photo above.  Bazinga!  The joke's on us. 

God did not call us to live in a comfort zone.   He did not call us to be in a restricted area away from the world.    In fact, some of His very last words to us were:

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

I don't know about you, but that does not sound like instructions to sit in my plush prison cell.   It sounds more like a Commandment from the  One that gives me life.

He says "You have the power I have given to you.   You have the key to the prison door.  You have the testimony of what I have done for you.  Now go and tell others.   Go and be the instrument I use to reach the world so that people will be saved."  

This is not "show and tell".   He didn't say from the comfort of your living room, "I want you to invite others over and show them what a wonderful prison you have made for yourself."    He didn't say "I want you to go to church and sit and listen to your preacher on Sundays and then go lock yourself back into prison so that you will be safe from the world." 

He told us to "get out there, get our hands and feet dirty in the leper colonies  and in the modern up to date offices, the construction sites, the grocery stores, the hair salons, the mechanic shops, the schools, the prison cells, the hospitals, the nursing homes and retirement centers, the restaurants, the malls, the homeless shelters, foreign countries, foreign cultures and the highways and byways of the world.   Go places where others will not go.  Go places where people show up every day."

No, this is not 'show and tell'.    It is "GO AND TELL!" 

I think I am preaching to myself and to the choir.    I hope they are listening and ready to break out of jail!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beach Life

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.   (John 21:17)   

I love this particular scripture. I can just picture in my mind Jesus on the sandy beach preparing a breakfast of fish for the disciples... and Peter jumping into the water when he recognizes His master, anxious to be near Him again. Excited... breathing hard... his heart racing... hair and clothes wet and dripping as he falls at the Lord's feet.  

Can you see Jesus on the shore? Feet in the warm sand... wind blowing His hair and robe... eyes squinting in the sun. His hands reaching toward Peter to greet him and lift him up.  All of creation feeling His touch where His feet meet the ground and His breath mingles with our air? It seems that the very sand beneath His feet would leap up to support Him and the blades of grass would lean towards Him as toward the sunlight, anticipating His next movement.  

It intrigues me that Jesus was preparing a meal for them... breakfast. They had not seen Him since the resurrection and had gone back to fishing. Spiritually they were defeated and on a forced spiritual fast without their Master. He was inviting them to break their fast and come fellowship with Him again.  Peter is broken and brokenhearted because Jesus keeps asking him, "do you love me?" and he says "Lord! You know all things! You know I love you!"  

Still hurting because of his trio of betrayals and ashamed of his own 'speak first, think later' personality. He had learned one thing, if nothing else. He had learned that he could never betray his master by denying Him again. The penalty of separation from Him was too hard. The self condemnation too much to bear.

Peter was transformed by Jesus' love and forgiveness.  Jesus commanded him to "feed my sheep"    He used the  Greek word 'boskos' for feed which means "the duty of a Christian teacher to promote in every way the spiritual welfare of the members of the church."     The duty.   Work.  Responsibility.  This is your job Peter. 

Peter was given his life's mission and a vision of his future.   He could have backed out of it and rejected the life Jesus was planning for him.   But he had already experienced the emptiness and pain of what it is like to reject Christ.  Never again.   Not Peter. 

Just as we all are changed by Jesus,  I believe on that day that Peter was truly made whole in Christ.

Jesus is present with us spiritually as He was physically with His friends on the beach.  He meets with us at some "beach point" in our lives and asks each of His children the same question He put to Peter... "Do you love me?" and with our 'yes' answer,  He fills us with His purpose and vision for our lives and then give us the ability to carry it out. 

Can we betray or reject Him? Yes. But the penalty is a life of unfulfilled dreams and a lack of vision.  The penalty is spiritual emptiness and a longing for what might have been.   By our obedience to His plan we are fulfilled and He is glorified.  

Say Yes and begin your life on a beach with Jesus.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Ur of Chaldees

(Written Easter of 2009, Tallil AFB, Cob Adder, Iraq)

I really am having a difficult time expressing myself about this. So I will just explain the only way I know how.

I am living on Tallil Air Force Base, Iraq. It's Easter Sunday and we had a sunrise service.

The service was held at the archaeological digs where they have excavated the home of Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees.

To tell you the truth, I was skeptical at first about the authenticity of the claim that it is actually the home of Abraham.

When I had visited the site a couple of weeks ago, I questioned our tour guide about the validity of that claim. He reassured me that tablets and other artifacts had been found to verify their findings. When I got back to my room I was reading in Genesis about Abraham, and there in my Bible's study notes were remarks about this very site and the archaeologists who discovered it in the 1930's.

Anyway, when the chaplain posted the schedule for this holy week of Easter, a sunrise service was planned at Abraham's home. About half of our shop signed up to go including me.

In a few weeks, the U.S. government is going to hand this piece of property back to the Iraqi government. The opportunity to tour the site will be gone. (at least for the time being) Possibly the opportunity to worship the LORD at this site will not occur again this side of Jesus' return.

I don't have the words to express how honored and humble I feel that out of all the people in the world and out of all the people in time, I was able to participate in what could be a once in a lifetime (once in history) event.

I know I haven't done anything to deserve such a thing. But I am so grateful that God included me.

There were maybe 200 people attending. A praise team was playing acoustic guitars and leading us in worship and then one of the chaplains stepped up to a podium and opened his Bible and read Holy Scripture there on those grounds. We sang more songs which are listed in the program and I could not keep from crying as I sang along with the others praising God. And then I thought that you could possibly be praising with some of these same songs in your service today and how all of us are joined in praise.

Then one of the chaplains stood on the reconstructed wall of Abraham's home and presented the Word of God. He took us from Adam and  Eve to Noah to Abraham all the way down to Jesus. He explained the covenant God made with Abraham and how we are a part of that covenant. And He shared about the resurrection of Jesus.

The chaplain asked us to respond to him when he proclaimed "He is risen!" and the congregation would respond "HE IS RISEN INDEED!" It became the theme for his message.

All day long the Holy Spirit has been pounding inside of me so strongly. I can't explain how filled I am right now. What words could I use?

I just wanted to share this with you and with my church family. I love you and miss you all so much and I know that you pray for me. I can feel the prayer covering me at times. Thank you so much. Please continue to be in prayer for me and my family while I'm here.

In Christ alone,


I sent the above message through Kelly to my church... there was no way I could share everything, but I had to put it down in words as best I could.

When I got back to the shop after the service, I was talking with one of the young women that works there for another company. She was asking questions about the Christian faith. I had given her a tract and she was curious. She is not quite sure what she believes, but she thinks that believing in God is a cop out in some ways.

Anyway, I had the opportunity to share with her that the Christian faith is not about religion, but about a relationship with God.

I stood on a spiritual mountain today and God touched my heart. I haven't felt this in so long. I am glad I could feel His touch again.

He is the healer of broken hearts.

Friendship and Faith

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 comprehension , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus .
(Philippians 4:6-7)

Stop worrying! Quit thinking about it. You can’t do anything to change it. Worrying never gets you anywhere. Worry and anxiety keeps us up at night. It distracts us from family and friends and work. It sends us to the doctor for a pill or even to the emergency room with a heart attack. Worry and Anxiety are not our friends. They may even change our personalities so much that we drive away our friends.

But there is a friend. A friend that wants to help when we can’t cope with life’s problems on our own.

What more can we ask? We have a God that wants to get so personal with us that He tells us to not worry or fret or be upset, but to just ask Him for what we want or need. He says to be specific… to make our desires known to Him. Just like we would with a close friend. When we are worried about anything; whether it is money or relationships, a broken life or a fractured heart, we should lift it up to Him in prayer and let Him know about our situation. It is not as though He does not already know our circumstance or our need. But He asks us to speak it directly to Him and to be specific about it; tell Him the smallest detail. He wants us to interact with Him; to be in a real relationship with Him. To show Him that we believe He is Who He says He is. The Great I AM. Our Friend. Speaking our heart’s needs to Him is a demonstration of our faith in Him and His ability to deliver on His promise. That we will ask… that we will actually EXPECT and trust Him to respond in some manner is like stepping off a cliff and expecting to fly. And then… amazing as it may seem, He provides us with peace. We can’t explain it. We don’t understand it. But we experience peace. Peace in our turmoil. Peace in our pain. Peace in knowing that our incomprehensible and amazing God will act on our behalf and in our best interest.

Prayer: Amazing God, please remind me to trust You and truly believe that You always answer the prayers and requests of Your children. Lord, bless me with Your peace today. Thank You for being a faithful Friend. Amen.

Just Do It

Have you ever been to a wedding or a celebration? Of course! We all have been to parties and celebrations and special events.

We love to, love to, LOVE to celebrate! And celebration always includes good food and good things to drink. Whether your favorite is iced tea, a mocha latte, a refreshing punch or a glass of wine, it seems that there is an unending supply of some kind of beverage for all the guests.

Except for a particular wedding at Cana. This wedding was different. I don't know if the host just didn't plan well. Or if every invited guest brought an extra guest. Maybe the party goers were having such a good time that they all overstayed their welcome and the supplies ran low. But regardless of the circumstance, at this famous wedding, the drink ran dry. The wine was gone. Consumed by all the bride and groom's well wishers.

What a dilemma! What a disgrace! How would the bridegroom face his family and friends? He would lose face with them all. The bride and her family would be so embarrassed and the celebration marred by this turn of events. In those days, this would have been a devastating social faux pas.

Fortunately for the bridegroom, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was in attendance at this wedding. And she had brought her son along. Jesus, the man that people were already whispering about and telling tales that there was just something different about Him. Jesus, who had already created a bit of a stir at His baptism. Jesus, who had already developed somewhat of a following. He was almost famous!

Apparently, Mary must have been close to someone in charge of this celebration. She found out about the situation with the wine and her mind started working out a solution. You know how us women are. We have to fix things. Her way of fixing this thing was to let her son know that she expected some assistance from Him.

She had birthed Him and raised Him to be a man. She knew Him as no other human being on earth knew Him. Mary knew exactly who Jesus was and she knew exactly what He was capable of doing. Shoot! She may have even secretly been hoping to show Him off. You know how you are when you are just bursting with pride in your kid. You want other people to know how special and wonderful he is.

So like any mother would have done, she said to her son "They have no wine." Just a simple statement of the situation. She could have only been commenting about it or feeling some compassion for the bride and groom. But, of course, Jesus knew that in 'motherspeak' this meant she expected Him to be the One to do something about it. Kind of like telling your kid "The garbage can is full." He knows you expect him to bag it up and take it out. No questions asked.

Mary knew that He would do what she wanted. So, like any mother, she disregarded His quiet protest. She told the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

What an incredible statement! “Whatever He says to you, do it.”


Do it.

I mean, really! What did she expect Him to do about it anyway?

This is a statement that can only be made when you KNOW without a doubt that something is going to happen.

If He says “pat your head and rub your belly”, then DO IT. If He says “do 15 jumping jacks”, then DO IT. If He says “fill those empty water pots to the brim“, then DO IT. Don’t ask questions. Don’t make excuses. Don’t wait. Don’t try to rationalize the situation. To borrow from the Nike commercials, Just Do It.

Her command to the servants showed extreme faith. Faith that grew from living day in and day out with this once baby, once child, and now a man. This Jesus. Faith that came from knowing Jesus intimately inside and out.

Faith from seeing Him in action.

Faith from knowing His heart.

Jesus tells the servants “Fill the water pots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. (John 2: 7-8 NKJV)

They did what He told them to do. They were servants. They did as they were told. They may have had some doubts. They may have laughed. They might have thought this lady and her son were half a bubble off. But they did what they were told.

Then the impossible happened. A dramatic and impossible transformation took place in those water pots.

The water became wine.

But not just any wine. The master of the feast proclaimed that this was the “good” wine. (John 2: 10 NKJV)

The word “good” used in the Bible is from the Greek word “Kalos”. Kalos is defined as: excellent, precious, magnificent, praiseworthy, noble, beautiful by reason of purity of heart and life, and hence praiseworthy; morally good, noble, honourable, conferring honour, affecting the mind agreeably, comforting and confirming.

All this to praise a bit of water turned to wine.

All this to describe an impossible transformation of nature’s elements.

“Whatever He says to you, do it.” Such a simple request. Such a simple command from a mother’s heart of love and pride in her son.

Just do it. Then wait and see what kind of impossible and miraculous transformation takes place.

Your water may not turn to wine. But your heart of stone might become soft and pliable.

Your circumstance might not change, but your attitude could be altered.

Your favorite drink may run dry, but your dry and thirsty spirit could be quenched with Living Water.

“Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Then EXPECT a miracle! Expect a ‘kalos’ miracle.

Don't Panic

All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life and the life was the light of men.
John 1:3-4

It's comforting to know that there is a plan.

Jesus the Creator.

Jesus the Light of the World.

He stepped into His own creation and became more than a creator. He became part of the Creation. He is the axis of all of creation. Not only that, Jesus shed light on the Ultimate Question of why we exist. Contrary to Douglas Adam's answer to the Ultimate Question in the sci-fi comedy "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", the answer is NOT   '42'.

The answer is Jesus.

We are here because of Jesus. We are here for Jesus. We were created and exist to live lives that implement and carry out His plan.

We are living, breathing, thinking entities and were created to ask the big questions of Who am I? Why am I here?

There is something inside each of us that seeks those answers.

We were MADE through Jesus. He is the Ultimate Answer to our big questions.

In Acts 17, Paul makes the statement that " we are here in this time and in this place so that we will seek the Lord and in seeking Him find Him.... For in Him we live and move and have our being."

Our express purpose in life is to find Him. He's not far... so you don't have to search too long or too hard. He's not playing "Hide and Seek" with us. He wants us to find Him. He longs for us to reach out to Him. He's waiting with open arms.

Douglas Adams did have one good piece of advice: "DON'T PANIC!"

My advice is "Don't panic, but trust in the Lord with all your heart". The road might be a little bumpy and difficult, but the Light is always on.

Father, help me to always remember that I am here because of You and to always look to you for answers to my questions. Thank you for sending Jesus into my life. Amen.

True Story

This really is a true story.

In the last few years, I have gone through several stages and changes in my life. God changed my life drastically! For 2 years it was like a honeymoon with Jesus and then...My church family fell apart, My children had consequential situations to deal with and my prayers for them went up continuously. My marriage of 34 years fell apart and I am now divorced. I've been single for almost 3 years now.

These are not unusual circumstances. It happens to everyone in every walk of life. It's life. Jesus said "In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world."

But it is my life. Personal. Intimate. Affecting me. Tearing me apart. Breaking my heart and mind and spirit.

Through all of it, I have believed God's promises and trusted Him. Asked Him to intervene. Asked Him to change things. Asked and begged Him to restore things. Asked Him to use the tribulations in my life in some manner.

Right now, I am at peace. I am at a place where there is nothing drastic or traumatic or earth shattering going on. And I am glad of it. Hopefully, it is a place where God will help me to learn and understand the things I have been through. A friend recently told me that I was on the Injured Reserve list. A place of healing where God can call me up from at any moment.

And I think He is doing that.

God blessed me so tremendously last week by allowing me to share with someone who is going through similar life shattering circumstances. I won't disclose details or names, but someone that I would never have dreamed that I could have ministered to in any way. When asked, "is there hope?" I was able to say YES. When asked "what did you do? how did you deal with it?" I was able to share how I trusted God and how God has come through over and over again.

I am not super christian. I have had my days of doubt and my days of unbelief. But through it all, I have never once questioned if God was working in it. I have just questioned the reason, the method, the seemingly undeserved pain. The delay of the vision God gave to me of a ministry.

God is always at work. And He is more interested in helping us discover who He is in us than who we are in Him. When we start trying to figure out who "I am in Christ" we put ourselves first and make ourselves the I AM and we lose out.. God is the great I AM. We are not. We need to figure out who HE IS in us. The power that He can work in us. The fruits of the spirit that only HE plants and grows and harvests. In His time. His season.

The Obedient Son

At the wedding at Cana, when Mary mentions to Jesus that "they have no wine", He responds to her insinuation that He do something about it with a seemingly insolent question.

Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come."

As only a mother can, Mary knew her son. She knew every innuendo of voice and body language. She knew that He was not reprimanding her. Jesus loved and honored His earthly mother as no other Son before or since. She had been the recipient of her child's unconditional love for 30 years.

As a child, He had answered her concerned questions with "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2: 49)

In the ensuing years, the Bible tells us that "He was subject to His parents and that He increased in wisdom and stature, and favor with God and man."

Although He was God in the flesh, He was obedient to His earthly parents.

As an adult, He was once again gently reminding His mother of His purpose.

Here He is at the very beginning of His public ministry and she was asking Him for something that only He could give. No one else could provide wine for the wedding feast. At least, no one else could provide it without going to some considerable trouble and expense to obtain it. The wine was needed now. Not later.

The 6 water pots were dry and empty. These were vessels that were used in purification of the Jews. They were set aside to be used only for a special ritual and purpose. (Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. John 2: 6)

When He tells the servants to fill the water pots, they obediently do so. In fact , they fill them to the brim... almost overflowing. When it was poured into the cups, the water had turned to wine. The best wine. Wine meant to be shared with all the guests. They all drank of it.

The wedding guests had been in need.... looking for something more than what they had.

Now the wedding feast was saved... the celebration could continue!

Like these wedding guests, in the middle of our lives ... sometimes even in the middle of a celebration, we run dry. Nothing and no one satisfies our longing. When our hearts and lives are shattered and empty, we reach a place where we finally say..."there has got to be something more." Jesus offers "have a drink.... fill yourself .. quench your thirst." When we accept His offer we are transformed by His grace and it pours out on us. Jesus fills our emptiness and parched souls with His living water and then asks us to pour it out into our families, friends, co workers, etc...

When He said to Mary, "My hour has not yet come", was Jesus thinking of the future and of the bitter cup He would drink? Did He look ahead and see Himself on the cross?

He knew that this miracle at the wedding was the first of many miracles. The first miracle on the road leading up to His ultimate sacrifice when His hour would come and He would be tortured and slain like a murderer or a thief.

The first step in the sanctification of His creation began with the richest of wine miraculously filling and then being poured out of sanctified vessels.

Jesus knew that once He took this step, there was no turning back.

When the wine was drawn out of the water pots, did He think of the blood that would run from His head and hands and feet? Did Jesus, the only pure and sinless vessel, wince at the thought of the cross? Had he already begun to feel the pain and shame of being filled and covered and smeared with the filth of all our sin? Was He preparing Himself for the day when His heart would literally burst with love for us as He took on our sin.

Did He think about the night when another cup of wine would be poured and He would share the Passover with His disciples saying "Do this... in remembrance of Me." " And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament [covenant], which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God (Mar 14:22-25)."

Or later on, during the night that He was praying in the garden before His arrest, did His thoughts go back to this wedding day and the miracle of the wine when He prayed "Abba, Father, all things [are] possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will."

While He sweat drops of blood praying for His Father's will to be done, did He remember His obedience to Mary's request on that long ago wedding day when the wine flowed freely?

Maybe He thought past the cross to a future wedding day when He would return as the Bridegroom and take His bride home. Maybe he smiled and laughed at the thought of that coming celebration!

Wherever His thoughts wandered that day, this was His first recorded miracle. It was indicative of what He came to do. It was a picture of His entire ministry. An act of obedience. He was and is the vessel of purification. He filled Himself with all our sin.. all our base ugliness... and transformed it into righteousness like a fine wine... a sweet fragrance. He filled our empty lives and spirits with His Living Water and His Holy Spirit to save us from sin and to teach us how to pour Him out to others. Now that is a miracle!

"This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him. John 2: 11"

Jesus begins His ministry with an act of obedience to His mother. It is finished with His ultimate act of obedience to His Father. He became sin who knew no sin. He did it all because He loves us.

Prayer: Holy Father, thank You for sending Your Son. Thank You for Your love. Please fill us as only You can and use us to to reach others for Your glory. In Jesus' precious and glorious Name. Amen.

Not My Cross

(To clarify... I am posting some stories that I wrote a while back.   So don't be alarmed by this one.)

When someone you love is hurting, you want to help. You want to say or do something that will make it better. You feel helpless to make a difference.

My sister's husband, Larry, passed away this week. He was only 53. We all love him so much. He didn't die because of an extended illness. His death was sudden and unexpected and overwhelming to his wife, children, grandchildren, extended family and friends. It was overwhelming to me. Nobody had time to mentally prepare themselves for it.

It was an accident. But not.

It was God's decision. God does not have accidents. It was Larry's time to go and be with our Lord.

It is the time for his loved ones to grieve and mourn for him.

And we are grieving and mourning greatly.

But we do not mourn as those without hope. We know that one day we will see him again in the presence of Jesus.

In the meantime, we still hurt. My sister's heart is shattered. And I feel helpless.

I prayed this morning and told God that I would take my sister's hurt from her if I could. Just give it to me, not her. I can't bear to see her pain.

And He said to me, "will you sacrifice your son or daughter? A grandchild?"

What a question! It set me back and made me think about what I had prayed. To take her hurt and loss on myself.

Jesus said, "No greater love has a man than this, to lay down his life for another."

Would I lay down my life for my sister? I think that I would. I like to think that I would. I love her so much.

But would I lay down the life of my child for her? If by doing so it would bring Larry back to life?

NO. Emphatically NO! I love my children too much. Losing one of my children would be more than I could do. The pain would be unbelievable.

God knew that would be my answer.

And the enormity of God's gift to man in the sacrifice of His Son washed over me. The sacrifice that gives us life. The pain and incredible heart rending torture He willingly and willfully accepted is hard to believe.

In order for God to give her heartbreak to me, I would have to sacrifice one I love. Feel the pain that she feels.

He said, "Kathy... this is not your cross to bear. It is your sister's. It is My plan for her. You can not carry it for her."

So I learned a lesson about the vastness of God's willingness to endure the anguish of a broken heart in order to love and save His creation. He laid down the life of His only Son to give us life. He suffered terribly as He watched His Son die a hideous death. For me... for you. I would never do that.

I also learned that I can not assume His plan and purpose for another person. No matter how much I want to. It is His plan for them. Not for me. It is their mountain to climb or valley to cross. It will be their mountaintop experience. Or pit of despair. Their ultimate victory in Christ. How could I ever dare to take that from them?

Oh... one more thing I learned. I am not helpless. I have a mighty and loving God and He hears and answers my prayers for those I love.

I am not helpless.

On the contrary, my prayers are powerful and effective. I lift my sister, her children, and grandchildren to Him. The One who loves. The One who heals. The One who hears. The One who restores. The One who gives life.

My God is mighty to save. He is compassionate and loving beyond all understanding. He has already made the necessary sacrifice that results in the healing and restoration of our hearts and souls.

Thank you God.. Thank you for sending Jesus.

And please loving Father, please speed the healing of my sister's heart and soul. I love her so much. And I know that You love her more.


No Expectations

We bring our requests to God. Lord, do this... do that. In faith, we expect Him to respond to us in some manner..solve our problems like some magical Santa Claus bringing gifts.

In truth, what are our expectations of God? What can we expect about Him or from Him?

These are truths about God: He is Creator. He holds the world in place with a Word. He is good. He is loving. He is Wise. He is Mercy. He is Grace. He is Power. He is Truth. He is Faithful. He keeps His Promise.

These are just a few of the basic expectations we have.

So when we approach Him with our list, what should we expect? That He will change to suit our needs and wants and desires?

If there is one thing true about God, it is that He is unchanging. So why would we expect Him to change for us?

Then again... why do we expect anything from Him at all?

He has proven Himself to us over and over. He has given us sign after sign of His power and faithfulness. We fully expect Him to continue to do so.

But we reach a point where we must come to a decision. An emotion free and intelligent decision based on our experience with God. Based on the knowledge of who He is or has been to us. A choice to be the person He created us to be and expects us to be.

What are His expectations of us (me)?

He is the light of the world. When He resides in us, we become that light. So we should live as creatures of light. But we don't. Why? because we have not made a conscious free will choice to live that way. We are still drawn by the darkness of this world to participate in dark.

Sure, we may have made a choice to believe in Him, to accept His salvation through Christ. But does that mean that we have made a choice to live our lives in His light? To serve Him with our lives?

We may even be serving Him in some capacity, but other than that service, are we living for Him? Are we, like the disciples, willing to exchange our lives for His light? Are we willing that every breath allowed to us be breathed in Him? Or are we too concerned with our expectations of Him for ourselves? Our expectations for our lives, our stuff, our happiness.

If God is who he says he is, and we choose to live mediocre lives skipping from dark to light to dark to light, then we are doing Him and ourselves a huge disservice.

Make a choice. What has God done for you? Who is He to you? What signs has He given to you? Make a choice based on your answers to those questions.

What right do we have to come to him with any expectation for ourselves?

We should have no expectation of God other than that He is. He said "I am that I am." Why should we expect anything else?

We should have no expectation of God other than that in His "I AM" He has a plan for us. His will for us. His will and His plan for us is for our good and it is perfect. A perfect plan for our lives given to us by a perfect God.

Our will should be set aside. Given over to Him. Consciously. Purposefully. With complete and utter understanding that what we think is right or wrong for us is inconsequential. Only what God wants for us is important or carries any meaning at all.

Give Him a chance to prove that His plan works. To show that every thing He ever said is true. That every promise He ever made will come to pass. Have no other expectation of Him. And be prepared to be amazed.

We Are His

In my family, we have a saying:  "Remember Who You Are!"     It started with my grandfather years ago.   He would tell it to  his children as they grew.    When they left home to begin their own families, his words were  passed down through the generations.    It is a banner over our house. 

What my grandfather meant was that his children should remember that they belong to a family,.  They belong to him.    He meant that they should behave themselves and live with personal integrity and honor.  He meant... You are mine!  You carry my  name.     You are mine!   I love you.   You are mine!  You represent me in the world.    You are mine!   I am here for you always.

These are the foundational truths of our family.    Truths that give us a basis for living lives of  integrity.
Integrity defined:   The quality of being honest and morally upright.  The state of being whole or unified.   Soundness of construction.   These are some definitions of integrity.

If you read the Bible, then  you are familiar with the story of  Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah from the book of Daniel.

What?   You're not familiar with those names?   Well, maybe you recognize the names Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.   Does that ring a bell?

These three young men from Jerusalem were taken captive by an evil king  Nebuchadnezzar  and forced into his service in Babylon.    They were in training and were told what to eat and drink.    But they refused to eat the king's rich food and instead lived on a diet of healthy fare.  

Nebuchadnezzar, being the all powerful evil king,  decided to change their names to suit his fancy.    Hananiah which means "Yah has been gracious." was changed to Shadrach - which means "inspired of Aku".    Mishael which means "Who is what God is?" was changed to Meshach - "belonging to Aku".    Azariah, which means "Yah has helped."  was changed to Abednego - "servant of Nego".   
Their Godly names... names that spoke not only of their God, but of who they are in God's sight, were changed to names that venerated the pagan gods being worshipped in Babylon.   He  must have thought that calling them by these pagan names would change the foundation of who they were. 

They exhibited excellence in their character and were promoted to high positions in the land with power and authority.     They were hated by some and those that hated them sought to bring them down.  

When the king declared that all in his land would worship his idol or die, these three men continued to worship their one true God.   Their detractors rushed to the king with the news! 

They were told to worship the pagan gods, but they refused to bow down.  They were given ample opportunity to repent of their stubbornness and foolishness.    Just bow down and and everything will be alright.   Go along with it.  Agree.  Blend in.   Make us happy.   Make us feel better.  Your lives will be all cushy and wonderful.  Every one will love you.   Aw come on.  Just bow down.  What's it gonna hurt?
Then things took a serious turn.    Look!   They are stoking the fire in the furnace right now!    If you don't bow down to this idol, you are going to die a horrible death.

In the face of a threat to their lives, to their faith and belief, to the very essence of who they were, they made a choice.

These three refused to be intimidated by threats or to capitulate to  worldly reasoning.   They refused to become what the evil king had named for them.   They remembered their God and the Godly names that they had been given at birth.    They chose to live up to His expectations and His original names for them.  They were upright and unified in their faith.   They trusted the soundness of God's design for them.

As a result of their faith and personal integrity, their story has  become a legacy of the power  and faithfulness of God to save His people in even the worst circumstance.  

In the middle of the conflagration, God saved them.    The king of Babylon and the people of Babylon witnessed the hand of God  move to save His children.   

Nebuchadnezzar was so overwhelmed by the display of God's power that he not only promoted and praised  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, he instructed the entire land to respect  their God.

What about  us?   As we are living in what some call a modern day Babylon, do we exhibit any integrity in our lives?     Who are we?   Who does God say that we are?  

He calls us His creation, His children, the Joint Heirs of Jesus, His Bride,  His Chosen Ones, His Forgiven Ones, His Disciples.   This list goes on and on, but it boils down to one thing.   We are His.   We are named by Him.   We are  His.   He loves us.   We are His.  We represent Him in the world.   We are His.   He is there for us always.   He is the banner over us.

The world may call us by other names, but God sees and knows our hearts and our secret places.   They world may try to deceive us  with promises and subtle threats, but God gives us His truth.  The world may choose to hate us and try to destroy us, but God has proven over and over that He will keep us from destruction.     We are not perfect.   We are forgiven.   We are His. 
God calls us to remember who we are in Him  and  to live our lives in that truth.   God  has not changed.  He has not forgotten.    He will do for us what He did for these three men.    And He will be glorified and praised even by those that deny Him.

Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who sent His Angel  and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God! 

 Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this." 

Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego in the province of Babylon.  (Daniel 3: 28-30)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Try It! You'll Like It!

You can not experience the fullness of your relationship with God if you are holding out on Him.   He has so much to offer to His children.

He holds nothing back from us.   He gave it all and He wants us to live in the complete and total freedom that being related to Him bestows on us.

But we hold onto our 'stuff' like we can deal with it on our own.   Like He can't handle it.   Like He doesn't know more about it than we do.   Like He just wouldn't understand.   Like we don't trust Him with it.   Or like it is too precious to trust to anyone, even Him.

Oops!   There it is.   A lack of faith.    Where is a mustard seed when you need one?   

He tells us mountains will move, yet we balk at a bump in the road.   

He says we can have anything we ask for if we only believe, but we won't take a step towards what we want because we can not let go of what we have.   We hold on to garbage when He offers priceless riches!

Jesus came so that we would have abundant lives here and now.    Not just for the indescribable eternal hereafter with Him that we can't even begin to imagine.   His kingdom is at hand.  It is here and now.  We are His heirs.   We are owners.   Why are we only standing in the doorway when we could be walking in and possessing the land and all it has to offer?   It's not a scavenger hunt.   It is buried treasure!   Treasures like peace, emotional and spiritual well being, joy and inner power.

He said "take my yoke upon you"  and we are so stiff necked with our own pride and burdens that His yoke just seems to be another bit of stress to add to the load....Even though He said it was easy and light.

To paraphrase, He said "try it, you'll like it!"   Take Him at  His Word.   Don't  hold back any longer.   Trust Him with your stuff... your treasures and your junk.      He will care for it better than you can any way.     

Monday, April 9, 2012


Many have made sacrifices.   Parents give up their own personal desires so that their children will have what they need.     A husband or wife give of themselves to support one another  and  make their marriage strong.   Friends set aside differences to maintain their friendships.   A soldier will lay down his life to protect and defend  his country or  the people of a foreign land.   Police officers, firemen, soldiers all put their lives on the line for the sake of others.   

It is the most noble act.    It's nothing new.     It has been going on for centuries.     Men and women of courage and integrity and honor give their lives for others.

So what makes it so incredible that Jesus sacrificed His life for us?

For one thing, although Jesus was a man, He was no ordinary man.    He was our Creator God in the flesh.   He is the One that walked in the garden with Adam and Eve.      He is the one that spoke and the whole earth and everything in it came to be.    He is the one that holds it all together.

For another thing, He planned His sacrifice.   He knew it would be necessary from before creation, before time began.  

God created us to be His friends.   He made us to be like Him.   He wanted someone to relate to.   Someone to hang out with.    He wanted us.     But He didn't want us to be slaves to His every command.    He wanted us to choose Him, so He made us with our own volition.    He gave us options.      And He only had one rule.     Don't eat the fruit from that tree. You will die if you do.     Everything else in the world is yours.   But don't touch that tree.  In fact, it would be good if you didn't even look at it or think about it.     Hah!

Being human, and having self will,  of course we were curious.   When some charismatic creature came along and sweet talked us into eating that fruit, how could we be blamed?   After all, God is so good.  Everything else in the garden was made for us.   He won't let us die over eating one little bite.   Will he?     

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil.        Before we gave in and gobbled it up, we didn't even know there was such a thing as good and evil.    Everything just 'was'.      Neither good nor bad.   No right or wrong.   Except for that tree.    Even the tree was not good or bad.   It just contained knowledge.  

But now we knew.   Or at least we thought we knew.    It was confusing.

The fruit tasted pretty good, but had a funny after taste.

Now we were consumed with new thought.   What was right was wrong.   What was wrong was right.   We knew there was good and we knew there was evil.   But we had no understanding of it.  How do we decide?   So we tried to hide that we knew.  Our conscience had been activated and for the first time in time, we turned away from God.

We not only turned away.   We tried to hide.   From God.   What a ridiculous plan.    Already our thought processes were skewed.... and all because of some tasty fruit.

God came looking for us.   Everything was going according to plan.  He knew what we had done.  He knew where we were 'hiding'.   So naturally He tossed us outside the garden and sealed it up so we couldn't get back in.      Like the disobedient children we were, we had to suffer the consequences of our decision and live with this terrible knowledge from the tree.  He separated Himself from us.  It was horrible!!   But Gaaawwwddd!   It's not fair!  

However,  if we had never chosen that tree... if we had never been cast out of the garden. and away from Him..  how would we know the difference?   We would be those innocents lolling around in the luxurious garden with no understanding of God's goodness.    No appreciation for what He provided for us.    We would be His slaves.  Loving Him because we didn't know any different.

We would be unspoiled by sin, but we wouldn't have to choose Him over the "pleasures" of sin.     And that's what He wants.    He wants us to choose Him.     He didn't want it to be mindless and  effortless on our part.   He wanted us to know the difference it would make to choose Him.  He wanted us to know what it was like to live separated from Him so we could make an intelligent choice.

He knew what we would do.   He created us to do it.    He had already made arrangements.    He spent eternity planning it and setting everything in place for it. He contemplated it beforehand.   

When it was the right time on earth, He left the eternal streets of gold and the glory of Heaven.   He left the light of the Father's righteousness.    He left His glory and magnificence.  He left the worshiping angels.  

He stepped into time.... into His creation.   He became one of us.    He didn't come as God to rule over us.   He came as God in human flesh.   A baby, held and fed and nurtured.   A child under the discipline of his parents.   An adolescent.   A young man.  An adult.

He was subject to every rule and regulation of man.   He was subject to every  human emotion, feeling, pain, heartache, fears, desires, satisfactions, lusts, hunger, weariness.  

He knew His future.   He had planned, anticipated and dreaded this for eternity.   He came to die.   To be tortured.   To be outcast.  He came to sacrifice himself for us.   To cover us with His blood so that we could be made right with God.   He came to love.

Every breath He took, He knew what was ahead.   Every passing year brought Him closer to the event.   Birthdays came and went.   Every choice He made took Him to torture, humiliation and mutilation.     The closer in time He came to the cross, the more difficult it became for Him.   Every miracle was part of the countdown.   It was almost unbearable for Him that last night in the garden... when he plead with the Father to remove this 'cup' from Him.    He could have stopped it.   He could have wiped the slate clean; put us all back in the garden and cleared our heads of knowledge.   He could have removed the choice from us.   He could have done anything.

He offered Himself up to be beaten and bruised.   He laid Himself on the whipping post.   He dragged His cross up that hill.    He let us drive the nails into His hands and feet.   He even became the thing that He detested.   He became that thing that cannot exist in the flesh crushing presence of God.  He became every wrong thing we ever did or will do or think to do.   He became the stain that is inherent within each of us.   He suffered separation from the Father as God turned His back on His only Son.   Like Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden, the Father cast Jesus away from His presence.  God the Father could not look on the sin.     

It was accomplished.   The plan had come to it's climax.    The ultimate sacrifice had been made.    God died for His creation.     Dead.   Finished.

Three days later.

He's been to Hell and back.
He rises from death  to live forevermore.


Why do something so drastic?    To get our attention.    To make us sit up and take notice.    To pay the price that the Father deemed necessary.    To fulfill His promise.  To make a way for us to be saved from eternal condemnation and damnation.   To make a way for us to be what He created us to be:   His friends, His children, like Him.    Now we have the knowledge and the understanding.    We are now capable of making a choice because we know the difference between choosing  Him and rejecting Him.   

The difference between relationship and separation.    Between good and evil.     

It is a simple choice but it is not easy.   The choice is to believe... to have faith... and to ask Him to forgive us  and save us because of what He did on the cross, not because we deserve forgiveness or salvation.    

 The words 'thank you' are not enough.    A life spent worshiping and serving Him is not enough, but it is all we have to give in return for His sacrifice.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.    He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.   And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.   For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.   But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."   ( John 3: 16 - 21 )

Friday, March 23, 2012

Splattered Faith (Known) a "View from the Ninth" story

O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful ...for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” - Psalm 139:1–6
KNOWN.... there is nothing He does not know about me.  No thing.

So I can come to Him completely unveiled and bare faced... bare souled.

Withhold nothing because He sees it anyway.  Even the thoughts that I hide from myself.   My entire being is naked before Him.

 He not only sees it.  He understands.  He feels it.  He has compassion.

We can pour out everything from our deepest hurt and anger to our most inconsequential thought to the most delightful joy.

What I would scream at the world... I SHRIEK at Him.  He can take it.  In fact, He cherishes it.

His shoulders are broad and solid and his terrible arms are open wide to receive us. He WANTS our pain, our tears, our worries to be laid at His feet... THROWN at Him .. SPLATTERED  all over Him.   He does not take it lightly.  He receives what is absolutely killing us inside and holds it gently to His heart.  Our offerings of tragedy and the sharp edges of our pain are precious to Him.  He embraces them with His immeasurable grace and wisdom.

He 'encloses" us, entwining Himself around us and in us.   Cradling us in Intimacy.      He is loving, comforting, giving freedom and new life, new understanding.  He is 'growing' us.  He is telling  about His love and His plan for us.  He shows us who we are to Him.    He is teaching us to love with disregard for how we feel or for what we want.

When we are done.  When we have spilled and emptied our insides and our darkness. When we finally look up to face Him,,, there is no need for words or thoughts other than praise and repentance.. The praise is for Him... to thank Him and acknowledge what He has done.     The repentance  for us... to cleanse our hearts and souls and conscience.

Our needs are known. Our desires are known.

How can I not adore and worship this God for whom there are no explanations.. only unspeakable and unimaginable words.

"Such knowledge is too wonderful for me...too high.   I can not attain it."