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!
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!
What happens when I live just in the now?
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 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.
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
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. 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.
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.
People love what they talk about. We all know this to be true. When a person talks about themselves all the time, it makes us feel uncomfortable because they seem to be full of themselves. When someone talks incessantly about sports, we understand that that person really loves sports. They wouldn’t do that if they didn’t love it. Someone who loves cooking will undoubtedly talk about it all the time. If we take that further, we can examine ourselves and know what it is that we love.
I have to begin with myself. If I talk about myself all the time, I love myself and am not considerate of others. Do I speak all the time about my work? Do I only talk about my children? What is it that occupies my mind all day? What I take the time to talk about is inevitably what is on my mind during the day. Is my mind on God? Does God and godly things come out of my mouth easily? Or am I talking constantly about my trips to the mall and about the latest things that I would like to purchase?
I have known quite a few different kinds of religious people. Some spoke of God religiously, showing that they really loved religion and appearing to be religious more than God. However, I also knew a person who spoke genuinely of God and godly issues with a very soft and humble spirit of love. I was and am sure that person truly loved God. It made me think about what is on my mind. What does my mind stray to when I’m driving to work or taking a walk? When I have problems, do I consider how God feels about them and frame my conversations with that in mind?
Life in God is always interesting. There’s always a new revelation around the corner. There’s always something more to be learned about life here on earth and how God leads us through our daily trials. When my mind is on God, it comes out of my mouth.
It is one of my life’s goals to trust God with all of my heart in spite of the troubles that beset us in these sometimes difficult days. With Hurricane Irene bearing down on us and the weatherman doling out constant warnings of trouble, my mind has been preoccupied with worries and making preparations for the upcoming storm. It’s important to be ready for any eventualities but recently I bought a little plaque that says, “No worries” just to remind myself that God is indeed the one to trust.
Yesterday, I watched the weather report several times and it was starting to affect me a lot. I came out of work and got into my car. I turned on the radio for a bit of relaxing music for the drive home. It was James Taylor. “If the sky above you grows dark and full of clouds, and that ol’ north wind begins to blow, keep your head together and call my name out loud; soon you’ll hear me knockin’ at your door. You just call out my name and you know wherever I am I’ll come runnin’ to see you again. Winter, spring, summer or fall all you have to do is call and I’ll be there. You’ve got a friend.”
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Ps 46:1) Thank you, God. Thank you for your constant presence and your Comforter.
Time: Time is a blessing that some do not receive and yet others are blessed amply with it. My own parents are now 90 years old and have been much blessed with time. When they were little, the world was in a great depression. If we could transport ourselves back to that time, we would be able to feel how people felt then. We would see through our own eyes that the grownups then did not know how long that terrible time would last. The only thing that they could do was to live through it and persevere. It took faith to make it through those days. It took faith for that generation to help those who were even less fortunate than they. It took faith for them to know that even if they gave away some of what little they had, things would work out. Many of that generation took huge steps of faith to make it through those days. They sent children off to live with relatives hoping that one day they would be able to bring them home. They continued living their lives, keeping hope as a candle alive and brightly lit in their hearts.
From that period of time, we pass on to the days when that generation was finishing high school and the world was plunging headlong into a world war. For young people, the future is everything and yet as young people that generation did not know if they even had a future. What kind of world would practice murder on such a grand scale? Would all of their loved ones survive such a massive war? Again, if we could transport ourselves back into that time, we would know that at that time, there were no answers available. There was no way of knowing the future. There was only hope and again, faith. It took faith for them to carry on with their lives, to marry knowing that their young husband would soon leave to fight a war on another continent. It took faith to hang on during those long years of separation. Finally, the war ended, loved ones returned and hope was fulfilled, but not for all. Somehow the world carried on and the post war years seemed like a happy respite from trouble, although even then, nothing came easily. Faith continued to sustain the people of that era as they navigated their way through the tumultuous years of the sixties.
Through the years, nothing has ever been certain, nothing one hundred percent guaranteed. However, faith carried many of that generation through and brought them to a lovely green pasture with a beautiful view of all of the fruits of their labor. That is the blessing of time. A person is allowed the pleasure of seeing his or her life dreams fulfilled and the hardships of life resolved. Children grow up and encounter their own troubles in life. Parents look on and hold on to their faith. As time passes, situations work out somehow and you can see the marvelous hand of God and stand back in awe at what He has done. Grandchildren arrive, even great grandchildren, and so the cycle continues, each generation needing to find their own measure of faith to hold them through troublesome times. It is an outstanding blessing to live long enough to see new generations find their way, enter into constructive careers, begin happy marriages and take the first steps into their paths of life. Yes, time is a blessing. What a blessing at the end of a life to see life’s troubles resolved and multitudes of difficult situations resolve themselves in happy endings.
We all love stories with happy endings and faith will carry you through until you can see it with your own eyes. However, even in the Scriptures, not everyone is given the blessing of seeing the end of a matter. Many a servant of God could only maintain his or her faith through until the end of their part of the grand picture, leaving this world in faith, hoping that the eternal purpose would one day be fulfilled. Sometimes we feel as though we are in the midst of Psalm 23. “Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death …” Yes, surely we have all felt that way a time or two as we walk along this road. Faith continues on with the second half of that verse: “I will fear no evil.” It takes faith to continue walking and fearing nothing. The lives of faithful servants offer hope to new generations of young people, that though their times of trial are just beginning, if they just continue on in faith as the previous generation has done, they too will come to the day when they will see the fruits of their labor and see the resolution of their life’s trials. Living examples of faith from the past are an inspiration to us and offer us a very real hope. The cycle continues and we become those living examples, passing on the faith from generation to generation.