Reading the Bible in one year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A wonderful new website to help us read through the Bible in one year!  Very nice that the mayor of a small town in Texas would like to promote the Bible this year.  What a great way to begin this new year!

http://www.thebible2014.com

Living now

What happens when I live just in the now?

  • There is no more fear of the future and what it may or may not bring.
  • Anxiety is banished.
  • I’m just walking along with God, talking with Him now.
  • I trust Him to take care of everything as He and I walk along this road together.
  • He’s the one that knows the future.  I haven’t got a clue about it.
  • I know that when choices present themselves in my life, the decisions that I make will influence the direction of my life’s path, but I don’t worry about that.  I just make the choice based on what’s right and wrong now.  Then I don’t feel badly about the results because it was the best possible choice at the moment.
  • I know that it’s an adventurous path that I’m on.
  • When I’m relaxed (since there’s no more stress), the present moment is much more alive and interesting.
  • Some future plans do have to be made in this world, such as: work related issues, vacations, other kinds of business, but it all becomes ‘God willing.’  God willing, there will be a vacation this year and if it does happen, it will be that much more relaxing since God allowed me to have it.

Walking with God, living in the moment with Him creates an adventurous, interesting, meaningful and stress free life.  There’s no other way to go!  People who don’t have that don’t know what they are missing!  They think that it’s exciting to go out and get drunk and party etc.  There is no excitement in that.  What is there?  Just heartache, troubled relationships, hangovers, and depression when parties and life don’t meet up with expectations.

The Scriptures say, “I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;” …. “Therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.”  (Deuteronomy 30:15, 19)  Those words are in really old language.  If we look at it in the light of what it means to us today, we could say: In each moment of life, we have a choice between what is good and what is not.  When we choose to follow the good, we will have a fuller and more adventurous life!  When we walk with God in the ever present now, we will have a more rewarding life!

A God given but perhaps much overlooked ability in men

A MAN’S FOCUS

About a month ago, my husband asked me to drop some tool off at his job.  He is a contractor and works outdoors most of the year.  I got the tool and headed over to the house where he was working at the time.  When I arrived, for some reason I just didn’t feel like getting out of the car and so I parked right in front of the house where he could see me.  The front yard was small and he was working about thirty feet or less from where I was.  He seemed intent on his work, but shortly he looked up and looked towards the car.  I thought he had seen me, but immediately his head turned back towards his work.  A few seconds later, he again turned his head towards my car and then began to come down the ladder.  I assumed that he had seen me, but when he reached the bottom of the ladder he walked across the front yard, not fifteen feet from the car, to the other side of the house where his helper was working and he began to do something else.  Finally, in frustration, I dialed his cell number.  I watched as he fumbled around trying to get the phone out of his pocket while still wearing his gloves.  He still had no clue concerning my presence even though I was sitting in the car fifteen feet away from him.  “Hi honey, I’m right here in front of the house.”  “Where?”  He finally looked up and saw the car.

Even though I teased him about not seeing me, it caught my attention and for several days brought about deep wonderment and meditations about how focused he was on his work that he did not even see me just a few short feet away from him.  As he worked, I could see his mind calculating every necessary movement and piece of material to complete the required task.

Later that same week, he and I were sitting down after a hard day of work, enjoying the evening news.  I know that it was a Thursday night because on Thursdays the reporter for sports on our favorite channel always has a short report that he calls ‘Kevin’s 7.”  In it he shows clips of the best and worst moments in sports for the week.  As I watched men hurdling their contorted bodies straight into a crowd in order to grab a basketball away from their opponent or football players leaping over other players and plowing through heavily muscled blockers in order to reach the end zone, I realized what it is that makes men so good at what they do.

Women pride themselves in being multi-taskers.  Some men might do the same.  However, the strength of men is in their ability to focus completely on what they are doing.  In sports, it shows up as a total focus on that ball and whatever it is that they have to do with it.  The basketball player focuses his whole being on getting that ball into the basket.  The baseball pitcher focuses everything that he is on getting that ball over the plate in just the right spot to get a strike.  In work men are able to excel at whatever they do because their whole mind, and as a result their whole body, is in sync with what they are doing.  Women sometimes act as if they are superior to men because they are good at doing many things at once.  Maybe some men feel bad about that.  Doing many things at once is a necessity for a woman because of the kind of life she has, but thank God for a man who can channel all of his energy, thoughts and actions into what he is doing at any given moment and because of that ability can bring great things to pass.

An end of the year letter for 2012

This is the letter I will be sending to family and friends this year:

I started to write an end of the year letter a few weeks ago.  I even got several paragraphs written.  It has all become rather meaningless over the last few days in the light of the heart-wrenching tragedy being experienced by other families in Connecticut right now.  So, I hope you won’t mind if I send you a few paragraphs concerning some of the thoughts that come to mind over this tragedy instead of a letter about my life and about what my kids are doing these days.  We’ve been busy this year, we’re all fine, and that’s about it.

And God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.  Genesis 2:7

It is the breath of God that came into Adam on that day and the same breath that continued to breathe through Adam’s children and grandchildren on down through all the following generations.  Without that breath of life, he was just a lump of dust.  It’s the same with us, his many times great grandchildren and that makes us all the children of the living God.  So, what gives?  The events of this year, and especially the events of the past few days, make us pause and reflect on what on earth is going on.

You could say that there are many causes.  You could blame assault rifles and violent video games and the absenteeism of working parents who are too busy to take care of their children or to teach them the values that they themselves were taught, or were supposed to have been taught.  However, the fact of the matter is that many of God’s children either don’t know or have forgotten who they are.  They are not living like children of an awesome and loving king, God.  They’re living like derelict bums.  That is the tragedy.

It is as if the world has taken on two natures.  Part of humanity seems to be speeding towards God, hoping to find Him more each day, but increasingly more numbers are enticed by the glitz of a worldly life and are as a result speeding in the opposite direction, becoming more unlike Him every day.  To become more like God, one becomes more beautiful and more brilliant and if that’s true, then the opposite must also be true that those who are heading in the wrong direction are becoming more and more insane and hateful.  We can see that in the news on a daily basis.  Perhaps that is the meaning of “the valley of decision.”  We must all go through it and decide for ourselves which way we will go.

We have been greatly blessed in our family to have our parents and children and grandchildren finding God and seeking after Him.  We have discovered the immense power of prayer and how things absolutely change because of it.

Over the last few days, I can see how God grieves for the innocent lives snuffed out meaninglessly by one so selfish and callous.  Some call such people disturbed and say that there could be a personality disorder.  We have experienced a relative with what may have been called a “personality disorder,” but he didn’t pick up a rifle and shoot people.  In fact, through the power of prayer, he spent his last years on earth a happy and well liked person.  Prayer can do that.

This nation and this earth are in their valley of decision.  We need to turn our prayers to our greater family, the brothers and sisters with whom we share the same breath of life.  We are all brothers and sisters and it’s so sad that our brothers would hate us enough to want to kill us and more importantly that they would hate their own eternal Father.  They have no clue how much He longs for them to turn back to Him.  Above all, we need to maintain faith: faith that God will lead us if that’s what we’re praying for, faith that we will continue on this path, and faith that our children will find a way to reject this world’s evil when their day comes in that valley of decision.

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision …  Joel 3:14

So, may we all spend this season joyously in that we know who we are, gratefully because we know who it was that saved us, and yet a little bit more soberly since we know that there is yet so much lacking both in us and in our country.  Let’s pray that we all in our nation and our brothers and sisters in other nations will humble ourselves as it says so beautifully in the Scriptures:

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

Thank God for the fleas

There is a line in “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom that is never too far from my mind.  While imprisoned in a concentration camp, Corrie’s sister insisted that they had to thank God for the fleas.  Corrie had a hard time with that but did it a bit begrudgingly to satisfy her beloved sister.  When you think of their situation, that took a lot of faith to carry on and even thank God for the fleas.  Eventually, they discovered that the Germans did not want to enter their particular barrack because of those fleas and that is what gave them the little bit of liberty that they had to teach others the Word of God.  With hindsight, Corrie was so grateful for those fleas and for the opportunity to help others at a time when they were in such dire circumstances.

God sometimes allows ‘fleas’ in different areas of our lives.  To us they look like dirty little inconveniences, problems, difficulties and heartaches.  However, our thoughts are not God’s thoughts.  He sees things from His eternal viewpoint.  It’s in the valley of decision and difficulty that the purest metals are forged.  Our darkest days have the potential to bring the greatest growth.  No one would voluntarily choose heartache, but we are all capable, by faith, of thanking God for the fleas in our lives and then of waiting patiently for the time when (and if) He chooses to reveal the reason for them.

It’s easy to thank God for our abundance and our all too apparent blessings, but have we thanked God for the fleas lately?  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and if there are fleas in your life, remember that God loves you with an everlasting love and is always doing everything He can to bring you closer to Him.

God is good.

God is good.  When we were children, we recited that three word phrase like little robots, smiling up at the person requiring us to do so (or perhaps staring fearfully at that person!).  It takes a lifetime of experience to find out that it is absolutely so.  God is infinitely kind and gracious and good.  Everything that He does is good.  He only allows good. He is only good all the time.  You can say it many ways and sometimes you need to say it a lot in order to understand how deep it goes.  A lot of people may say that God is good out of one side of their mouth and then with the other side they accuse Him of all the evil in the world and all the misery that they see around them.  God, why this and why that.  However, even so, God is only good and that is true all the time.

We only have to open our eyes.  When our many times great grandfather Adam sinned, he immediately forgot God’s goodness and hid from God.  Why was he so fearful?  God had not changed.  The only change was Adam’s sin.   Since that time, God has been forced into the position of being apparently overbearing and even scary at times in order to make man keep the commandments and do good.  Mankind most of the time won’t do it unless there’s something to be afraid of.  In spite of all of the wars, famine and trouble, God is still good one hundred percent of the time.  For each individual living on this earth, He is always thinking of ways to get that individual to return and come back to Him.  He knows that the person’s eternal happiness depends on him  returning to his Father, so He is creating situations in each person’s life to help that person to return to the place where he/she will be blessed.  Some people are not listening and will not do it in this lifetime.  God still doesn’t give up.

God is like the best mother.  A true mother will never give up on her children.  She loves them unconditionally and prays always for their well being.  She will go to her grave at times praying for them and always wishing them the best.  She can find something to love even in the unlovable.  I learned this at my mother-in-law’s funeral.  Her eldest, and most rebellious, son stood up and spoke for a few minutes and he talked about his most precious moments with his mother.  Knowing her, I knew that in spite of his frustrating and uncanny ability to alienate absolutely everyone, she loved him and saw goodness in him.  He made her laugh.

God is like that kind of mother’s love.  He loves each one of us unconditionally, but yet He knows when we are doing things that are hurting our eternal happiness and He creatively goes about leading us into situations that will help us to change that characteristic or that habit.  Yes, God is good.  He is wonderful.  I see His hand in little situations in my life that I thought were annoying, but in the end I find out that those were the situations that brought about the most growth in my life.

A little example of that happened to me last week.  I’ve been trying to pull off a refinance all summer long.  Dealing with the banks these days is completely frustrating and many things have happened along the way.  The other day I was trying to fax some documents to the refinance company and my fax machine was not working properly.  I tried everything and still it kept spitting out error notices, seemingly just to aggravate me more.  Finally, I realized that there was no way on earth that it was going through and so I decided to drive over there and drop the papers off.  As I drove over there, I began to think about a recent prayer where I said that I wanted to stop being such a big complainer.  Ka-ching!!  Wow!  This was a perfect situation to try out my new resolve to stop complaining!  Up until then I was complaining big time about my wasted time and the wasted gas, the frustration, etc.  The new realization brought a smile to my face.  As I paused at a stop sign, my phone rang – it was the mortgage secretary saying that the faxes (probably a pile of them!) had finally come through.  Yes, God is good and He just wants us to turn back to Him.  He works overtime in each of our lives to create situations so that we will get the message and change.

Trust Me!

The last few months have been quite trying for my husband and I.  We own a small rental property and the first thing that happened was that there was a flood in the basement of that building.  It ended up costing quite a bit of money to have someone clear out the main drain of some tree roots that had grown into it.  They were not able to clear it completely and there is still work to be done.  Then a week later my daughter, who lives on the third floor of that place, called at 11:00 pm crying and saying in a trembling voice, “Mom, the house is on fire.”  Wow.  That was a terrible thing to hear at any time of day.  We rushed over and in the end, the damage was miraculously little.  The fire department was truly inspiring.  Then about a week later, my husband’s mother passed away.  It is hard to express the emotional experience of losing her and of dealing with his sometimes troublesome family.  She was a lovely lady and we miss her in many unforeseen ways.  Following that, as the summer got under way, there was seemingly a mass invasion of ticks in our back yard and I got bitten a few times.  A couple of weeks after that, I got sick with an unconfirmed case of Lyme disease.

By that time, I was beginning to feel abandoned by my Father and was wondering what in the world was going on.  It was hard to maintain a spiritual outlook through all of these situations, but in each difficulty I felt the Lord saying, Trust me.  Especially before we knew the limited extent of the fire, it was hard to calm my emotions and say, Okay, Lord, I trust you.  However, in the end each difficulty turned out to be a blessing.  You hear that a lot from people, but I can only affirm that it is true.  We all know Ro 8:28 which says that “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called, according to his purpose.”  Trust me.  What does it mean?  It means more to me now than it did two months ago.  It means: I trust you Lord with my life and the life of my family members.  I trust you that no matter what happens, you are working constantly in my life.  Every minute of every day, you are leading me to situations that are helping me to get closer to you.

Years ago, my dad used to fly a single engine airplane sometimes.  On one particular occasion, I flew with him from a Midwestern state to the east coast.  As we started off that day, the weather was completely foggy.  My dad had his instrument rating, so we were able to carry on with the planned flight.  We took off in a total fog.  The fog continued for the entire flight.  We were completely surrounded by clouds.  I was terrified to be in such a soup without being able to see a thing.  Soon, I felt my muscles tense up.  Then I heard a small and calm voice inside of me saying, “Trust me.”  I said, Okay, and I tried to relax myself and trust God that all things would be okay.  However, a short while later, I found myself completely tensed up again.  Again came the voice that said, “Trust me.”  Okay, Lord.  I again tried to relax.  Three times that happened and three times I had to force myself to relax.  In the end, we made it to our destination in one piece and that experience has stayed with me all of these years.  God reminds me of it sometimes when things get troublesome.

Life can present some serious challenges to each one of us at times, but through it all we have a rock upon which we can trust our very existence.  The same one who stilled the waters can calm our troubled emotions and lead us back to the shore.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the  midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.  Selah.”  Ps 46:1 – 3.