God will rescue us (if we let Him).

This morning’s Bible reading was from Deuteronomy 4. In that chapter, God is pleading, even begging, His people to keep his commandments and remember how he took them out of Egypt with mighty miracles. He asks them a few questions:

  • Is there any other nation that God is so close to?  No!
  • Is there any other nation that has such righteous statutes and judgments as have been given to this nation?  No!

His questions got me thinking.  Is there any other nation that God absolutely went in and dragged them out (even if kicking and screaming) with such incredible miracles?  Not to my knowledge.  He even reminds His people that the mountain burned with smoke and was covered with thick darkness as they heard His booming voice giving them the Ten Commandments.

He implores them not to make a graven image of anything that He created. This one has been a trial for mankind since the dawn of time.  Our Father’s creation is so beautiful that men/women fall in love with the creation rather than with the one who created it.  He continues on by explaining what will happen to them if they do such things.

However, even though it sounds grim, He doesn’t leave them hopeless. He reminds them that if they end up in tribulation, even in “the latter days,” if they turn back to Him, He will remember them and rescue them.  Are we in those “latter days” at this time?  The love of many is growing so cold.  It is becoming hard to hang onto our faith, hard to maintain a constant connection and prayer life with our Father.  In a fulfillment of the story of the frog who jumped into a pot which slowly heated up until he died, much of Christian belief is being slowly turned into “hate speech.”  It’s no longer politically correct to speak your mind and no one will even listen to a differing opinion, especially if it’s a Christian point of view.  In their eyes you are a “hater.”  How can God’s love for humankind, His best hopes and love for them have turned into something that people call hatred?

We must be in those latter days.  And yet, even so, God is reaching out.  If we turn to Him, humble our hearts, and ask His forgiveness, He will always rescue us from the pit that we have dug for ourselves.  Is there any pit so deep, or perhaps dark, that He can’t find us and drag us out of it?  NO!  We all find ourselves in all sorts of pits from time to time.  The pit of depression, of despair, of self pity or of pride, insecurity or anger.  No matter what it is, all we need to do is turn back to Him.

As I was driving along later this morning, God, the best DJ in the universe, inspired someone to play this song on the radio.  I hope you enjoy it.  (Sorry, I could only paste the link here.  It’s a Lauren Daigle video.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYR0xP1j4PY

Back to God

This is a song for our time. We are all (and when I say all, I mean the entire world!) wondering about these strange times that we live in. Politicians do not have an answer. They can send us money, give us vaccinations, tell us to stay home, require us to give up our gatherings, but they do not have an answer. Giving us money is only a short term fix for some, but it further increases a national debt that we will never be able to repay. Giving us vaccinations may protect us, but how long will it last? Will there be long term side effects? Will this plague ever go away completely? Staying home creates such incredible loneliness and spells disaster for small family owned businesses. We need each other. We need companionship. We need community. People are so needy these days.

This morning my husband and I were out on a walk in the neighborhood. As we walked a few streets away, we were admiring some of the Victorian style architecture and the large covered porches where people used to gather. Suddenly, a woman came out onto her porch and began telling us all about the roofing job that had just been completed on the house closest to us. She went on to introduce herself and her husband and in the end, invited us to come back one day to sit on her large front porch and have tea. She said, I am human. You are human. We all need each other. How right she is and how terribly heartbreaking. People need companionship. Not only was this short chat heartbreaking, but it was also incredibly uplifting. She was so needy and yet so welcoming and thoughtful. We need each other. We would love to go back in the spring and sit on her porch and have a nice cup of tea with this neighbor who rushed out to greet us on a cold winter day with such a warm welcoming spirit.

Yes, we are all human and we need each other. However, no amount of money or government intervention will ever fulfill our heart’s needs. What we really need is God. We need God Himself, not religion. We each need our Father in heaven for ourselves. We need to have a conversation with him and pray that He will be with us and guide us. We need Him personally in each of our lives. If we have grieved him, we need to apologize and make it right. We need to ask His forgiveness and change. He is so longsuffering and kind. He will come swiftly when he hears a humble and repentful heart. Others can feel it if our love for God and our fellow humans is true. People are looking for true, sincere, and righteous lovers of God. When they feel that kind of love, they look up and take notice; it gives them a kind of divine jealousy. They want to get whatever it is that person has. True love is contagious and will spread. We gotta give this world back to God.

You gotta get down on your knees, believe
Fold your hands and beg and plead
Gotta keep on praying
You gotta cry, rain tears of pain
Pound the floor and scream His name
‘Cause we’re still worth saving
Can’t go on like this and live like this
We can’t love like this
We gotta give this world back to God

The most valuable book ever written

It is an outstanding gift to be able to read the Bible from cover to cover in a year. There are many apps that help us to accomplish it these days, making it very available to us in several formats.

As your year of reading begins, you read the story of how God created the world. By his word, he proceeded step by step, and each of those steps added to the creation of an amazingly beautiful world. He put the man and the woman in the garden of his creation and gave them an apparently simple restriction. Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because if you do, you will surely die. Although that seems simple enough, along came the evil one lying, making insinuations and creating doubt in the woman’s mind. We all know where that led to.

At the end of your year of reading, you arrive at the book of Revelation. In it, God shows the culmination of mankind’s journey from the state of sin, through the process of overcoming, leading to his/her salvation and the ultimate return to God’s paradise. When we read the last chapters of Revelation, the paradise that is described appears to be similar to the first, but when you compare it to the first, this paradise seems more glorious than the first. The first one had a garden, everything that mankind needed to live, trees that were pleasant to the sight, and a river that split into four rivers. Most importantly, God Himself liked to walk there. In the paradise in Revelation, sits God’s throne and the throne of the Lamb, and from that throne comes a river, but this river is the water of life, clear as crystal. On either side of that river of life is the tree of life. There is no more curse in this place and no more night. God’s servants will see God’s face in this place and there is not even a sun because God Himself gives them light. You can see that this paradise is clearly even more magnificent than the first.

In between the first paradise and the last, all the pages of the Bible tell the story of sin and its consequences and mankind’s struggle to overcome it, the life stories of men and women who succeeded and of those who did not. It tells of overcomers, prophets, evil kings, good kings, simple people and so much more. We read of Abraham, Jacob and Esau, King David, his son Solomon, Manasseh, Moses, Samuel, Rahab, and so many others. Each of their lives added to the human story, both good and bad. Those whose lives demonstrated overcoming added to the river of life and showed the way of salvation to those who would come after them. Those who succumbed to satan’s ploys added something important as well. They gave us an image of what not to do, how not to live. Looking at the whole, we see a grand snapshot of God’s eternal plan of salvation and the final restoration of Adam’s descendants. We see God’s compassion and kindness and learn from the mistakes of those who went before us.

Through the richness of the Bible, we learn that we do not have to live as some have lived, but we can live following the example of the most amazing life ever lived, the life of Jesus. What an awesome and splendid story we find in the life of Jesus. We can read his life’s story over and over again and learn more from it each time. Even today, in the midst of a world that seems to have gone mad, we can still find his words jumping out from the pages of this book, beckoning us to live them and make them our own. This book tells us of those who did it. They lived his words. In their lives they succeeded and showed us that we can too. Jesus showed us that God is his father. We are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, whose father was God. That makes God our father as well. That means that we can all find the path to salvation if we desire it. With the life of Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are well able.

Best wishes for a successful overcoming life with Jesus in 2021!

At Eventide

From Christmas Eve night into most of Christmas day, the skies over our small part of the world were very dark and out of them poured deluges of wind driven rain, carrying away every speck of a white Christmas and leaving some in nearby towns without power. Finally, as Christmas evening arrived, I saw a golden hue from my window. I grabbed my phone and rushed out onto the porch to find this spectacular sunset.

The sight of it reminded me that our darkest days have the potential to bring the most spectacular results in our lives. How kind of God to remind us of this encouraging fact in the midst of our troubling times.

We should not fear the darkness, but search for meaning and for ways to overcome as we travel through it. I wish all of the WordPress family many happy adventures and much overcoming in 2021 and may we all remember the simple lesson of the rainbow after the storm or the spectacular evening sunset that follows the darkness. Let this be our hope.

Best wishes in 2021!

Which would you choose: the news? or the Bible?

When I was young, my family got two newspapers every day, a morning paper from a nearby large city and an afternoon more local paper from our county. Then once a week we got a paper from our own small town as well. I read them all. My parents read them all and perhaps some of my brothers and sisters read them all. I’m not sure about that last point because I never paid that much close attention. The point is that we devoured the news and we depended on its veracity to keep us informed.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find real news. The evening news has mostly just two main stories, politics and the coronavirus situation, which is also often mixed in with politics. Very little else. My husband and I do still get a morning newspaper, and in that paper we often find small articles that you would never see on the evening news, but yet these articles contain important and interesting information. However, even so, both the newspapers and news shows all have a slant these days. The once strict principle that journalists had to be objective seems to have been completely run over by the freight train of political gain. At the same time, lot of people just get their news from social media, which is an absolutely frightening idea.

It occurred to me yesterday that the only news that we have nowadays that you can truly trust is the good news of the Bible. It never changes. When you read it, you always get something fresh and encouraging that you can make a part of your day. Even when the Scriptures seem to be reprimanding us, they always leave a place for hope. If you just turn your heart back to God, you’ll see a change in your life.

More and more, the newspapers and the evening news just don’t deliver. The Bible is ever reliable, ever hopeful and ever fresh. All you need is one of them to get fresh news delivered to your door each and every day. I highly recommend it.

How excellent is God’s name in all the earth!

milky way

Psalm 8:1  Lord, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens!

Verse 3  When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained,

King David, as a youth, spent many hours and days and nights out in the field with his sheep.  He came to appreciate his natural environment.  He could lie down and look up at the sky and observe all the magnificence of the Milky Way above him.  He spent his days looking for fresh green grass for his flocks and most likely appreciated the shade given him by the trees.  Because of his situation, he developed an appreciation for the natural creation.  As an older man, he was able to express his admiration for God’s creation in the psalms that he wrote.

Many people today live in large cities built by men (or women).  They see very little of God’s creation during their day and the night time skies are completely blocked out by the city lights.  They have no time to contemplate the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly or the movements of an ant.  They forget how unique and marvelous God’s creation really is.  They don’t know how it all works together in unison and functions perfectly when left alone, untouched  by man’s unthinking hand.  They get ideas to ‘tame’ and change the earth to suit what they think will be beneficial to their schemes.  Then once one thing is changed, they find out perhaps years later how necessary that element was and how it had been part of a whole that sadly no longer exists.

We need to go out into nature and take our children out to experience it.  We need to sit and marvel at the miracle of a tree and appreciate the wonder of the night sky.  When we do, we, like David, feel how infinitely small we are in the midst of this vast universe and we can wonder, as David did, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?  For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.”  We can receive a true spirit of humbleness and of awe at the creation we live in and our place within it.

IMG_2840

Freedom?

Every day in the news recently, we see some people who are choosing not to wear masks and choosing to flout social distancing rules.  They are usually the loudest ones,  honking horns at the state capital, screaming in the faces of law enforcement officers and even congregating at large pool parties.  I saw the comment of one such person on a blog about wearing masks.  “I woke up this morning a free person.”  By that, I assume that he believes that he can do whatsoever he wants with no thought of anyone else.  That is not freedom.  That is selfishness.

If I am truly free, I can maintain the essence of my life no matter what is happening outside of me.  A selfish person cannot ever be free because his/her one great longing is to fulfill his/her selfish desires.  That totally depends on the outside circumstances.  A rebellious person can never be free either.  That person is always going to do the opposite of what anyone asks him or her to do.  Therefore, if a rebellious person is imprisoned or confined in some way, the confinement will always impinge on his/her ability to behave rebelliously.  Even a religious person in the sense of loving the outward manifestations of religion, can never truly be free.  That person’s religiosity will always desire those traditions and will always feel limited and somehow less holy if he/she cannot have a physical presence in the church or with religious articles such as rosary beads.  True freedom can only mean being free from Satan’s kingdom.  Know the truth and the truth SHALL make you free.  In other words, if you don’t know the truth, you are not free.  It cannot be both ways.  You are either serving God or the other guy.

Jesus always spoke in parables.  Ministers and teachers love to use parables to teach us a lesson.  Parables are stories that help us to see an important point.  What if God also loves parables and what if our whole lives are parables?  This whole pandemic is a parable.  The whole world is stuck inside.  We are all in a kind of prison.  Why?  This strange new parable is showing us how captured we are, but we are all reacting differently to this quarantine.  If I feel stuck and in prison because of the restrictions of the quarantine or of social distancing or wearing a mask, then I am captured.  However, if I’m free in God, no one and no thing can take my freedom away.  If I’m wearing a mask, I am still free.  If I’m staying in my house, I’m still free.  No matter my outward circumstances, I am still free to love, free to serve and free to pray always.  That is what is happening inside.  No one can take that away.  My mind and heart are always free to speak to God, to worship Him or to pray to Him.  If I am confined, my inner life’s freedom continues on.  Wearing a mask cannot stop me from loving God and my neighbor.  Standing six feet away from a person cannot stop me from praying for him/her.

Though we may all still be captured to varying degrees, if we watch our reactions to this confinement and recognize that we are reacting negatively for a reason, we can learn from this situation, and we can yet be made free on that point because recognizing our negativity leads us towards the solution.  That is the first step on the path to knowing the truth.  That path will always lead us to the truth which will make us truly free.  Only then we be free indeed.

That is why Jesus is my hero.  Satan had nothing in him.  For that reason, he could stand tall, look Pilate calmly in the eye and say, “You could have no power at all against me, except it were given to you from above.”  (John 19:11)  He was completely free even in the face of the man who apparently had the power to put him to death.  Even in the face of that possibility, he had total faith and trust that nothing could happen to him unless God the Father allowed it.  Because he experienced the best and the worst of this earth and yet maintained his integrity, he is well able to help us reach that place as well.

The Earth gets a rest

And on the seventh day, God rested.  I wonder what God did when He rested!  Here on earth we always think about doing.  Most of the time we “do” stuff even when we’re resting.  We’re reading or watching TV or out walking.  Maybe God just watched His creation for a while.  Sometimes we do that after we’ve made something, but we have a really hard time just resting.  There is always something going on in our world – traffic flowing, airplanes buzzing, jackhammers pounding, cement trucks rumbling, drills drilling, etc.

Scientists are reporting that because people are required to quarantine throughout most of the world, human activity has come to such a great halt that the earth’s crust is not shaking as much as normal.  It is quiet.  I never even knew that human activity could cause the earth’s crust to shake, just never even thought about it.  So, in spite of the increasing misery among humans, the earth is getting a rest.  Imagine that.  The earth is resting.  She has needed a rest for a long time.  God is always so kind.  He considered the earth in His early messages to mankind.  He provided for a rest for our earth every seven years.  Wow, when was the last time that happened?  Well, it’s happening to a very large extent now.

What does the earth do while it is resting?  It recovers.  It recovers from us and all of our non-stop activity.  Think of all the things that are recovering.  Apparently there is much less pollution throughout our earth.  The canals in Venice have cleared up.  Because fewer planes are in the air and fewer factories are producing smoke, there is much less air pollution.  There is less noise pollution in our cities and because there are fewer boats (think cruise ships!), the oceans are quieter.  Think of how happy that must make the dolphins, whales and other fish!  Maybe while we are stressing and praying, the earth is rejoicing.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/04/coronavirus-pandemic-earth-pollution-noise/609316/

https://www.ecowatch.com/coronavirus-earth-shaking-less-2645628570.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

So, as we continue our social distancing from one another and as we continue praying for health and safety for our loved ones and our nations, let’s consider the earth.  Pray for her.  Let her rest and recover for a time.  And when our quarantine is over, let’s be kinder, not only to each other, but to one of God’s greatest gifts to us: our earth that we live on.  Stay well.

Hope, Spring and Resurrection!

With one grim news story after another, it has been hard to keep negativity at bay.  This afternoon, I was looking out my kitchen window while washing my hands for the umpteenth time.  The woodpeckers were pecking at the suet, a gentle spring rain was cleansing the landscape and a patch of bright yellow daffodils were lightly dancing in the gentle breeze.  Wow! I thought.  It’s spring!  Why did God allow all this to happen in the spring?

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God is always looking for a closer relationship with each and every one of us.  We have forgotten Him and put Him in second (or third or last) place in our lives.  He wants to be first.  Is that selfish of Him?  Absolutely not.  When He is first in our lives, He can lead us in the way we should go.  He can show us the right way.  We do have free will, but our free will should guide us to choose the right way.  There is a right way and a wrong way.  The wrong way always leads us into trouble.  He wants the best for us, but individually and collectively, we have let Him down.  He’s not allowed in very many places at all any more.

People are fond of quoting this Scripture: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)  It’s one thing to quote it and shove it into people’s faces, kind of raw and self righteous, but it’s another thing to take it to myself.  Looking at myself, having a serious talk with God my Father and admitting my own issues.  I can be sure, 100% sure, that when I do the first part of this Scripture, God will always keep His promise and do the second part.  He is over the top reliable and dependable.

Sooo, why is this happening in spring?  Spring is the season of so many hopes.  The hope of warm weather.  The hope of a great garden this year.  The hope of quiet evenings out on the deck or afternoon picnics in the park.  We have a spiritual hope as well.  He will never leave us without hope.  “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.”  (Matthew 12:20)  This is also the season of resurrection.  We can resurrect our connection with our Father.  He is always there to encourage and sustain us.  When we do the self reflection, the repentance, the restoration, He will absolutely hear from heaven, forgive us, and heal our land, both the personal “land” of our hearts and the land of our nation.  Let’s not take this time in quarantine lightly. Let’s use it to reconnect with Him.  We can resurrect His life in us.  Sincere best wishes for a fruitful (and healthy!) time of quarantine and a peaceful season of resurrection.

Rippling Effects

Most of us think that as long as our actions don’t bother anyone else, we can do whatever we want.  I hear people saying that.  “It doesn’t hurt anyone.”  Hmmm.  Or does it?!

We have a huge example staring the world in the face right now.  Although it’s not certain as to how the novel 19 coronavirus got started, some believe it jumped to humans when someone or some people ate a certain type of unclean creature.  You know what, God is waaaayy smarter than us, and He told us not to eat certain creatures.  I guess He had a terrific reason for saying that.  In any case, once that happened, that disease has affected the entire world in one way or another.  Businesses, schools, hospitals, travel disruptions, events cancelled, governments, mounting hysteria and a growing number of deaths.  The ripples just spread further and further out.

There are so many more examples.  One person discards a cigarette in a dry forest.  One person decides to clear all the trees off of his/her property.  Another person, too lazy to follow correct disposal protocol, pours his bottle of chemicals in a local stream.  It all ripples out.  Our actions, large and small, some even apparently insignificant, do affect others.  We are all one family with common DNA.  We are all affected.

Consider something so small as a smile.  One person smiles at another.  That person leaves feeling a little better and smiles at someone else and that person goes to work humming, which in turn affects the whole atmosphere of the workplace.  Because of the warm welcome a visiting businessman receives, the company gets a new contract with a company in India and then more people in that country are smiling because they have jobs.  It all ripples out.

If my actions are going to affect people that I have never even heard of in a far distant place, wouldn’t it behoove me to mediate my behavior to make sure that I am benefiting my distant brothers and sisters?  We are all responsible for our actions.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  Just think of how that will ripple out through our world!