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I live in San Diego County and enjoy picking roses and strawberries in January. My husband and I love to travel and have visited many countries. We have five grown children and two grandsons. I've been active in many Bible study programs, 16 years with Bible Study Fellowship, and have taught in my community, including our local jail, for the past twelve years. I've had the honor of going to Uganda, Africa to teach in a Rafiki Girls Center and wrote a book from my journal,'How is the Day?' After over 40 years of studying the Bible, which I firmly believe to be God's Word, I continue to be captivated by its eloquence and wisdom. It never ceases to thrill me. Some may call me an activist. That may be true, as I actively ponder and pursue Biblical truth. I think in terms of what the Bible says,and resist being involved with humanistic theology and various church doctrines. God's Word is pure. I love to write, so blogs are a perfect place to deposit what God has been teaching me. I'm mostly interested in guiding people to the truth of grace and sovereignty which brings peace and joy to our life. In order to live life with passion, you need to have a passion. Mine is the Bible!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A RECIPE FOR EVERYTHING

If you like to cook, you are probably a creative person. Most of us who enjoy cooking don't follow a recipe precisely; we tailor it to our tastes.We may add a little more of this, a little less of that to create something that works for us. Then, there are the times we want to make a dish and have no idea how to begin. We'd be lost without a recipe as a guideline. I know this isn't a cooking blog, but I'd like to share the parallel between a recipe to make something wonderful to eat, and using the Bible as a guideline for making life something special to savor and enjoy.

        We have a son who does some of his own cooking. He really likes pork chops. He sticks them in a hot frying pan, and cooks them until they are browned and cooked through. The result is a very tough piece of meat that is difficult to chew. I've suggested the following recipe. . .

Pork Chops
  • Spray a pan lightly with olive oil
  • Fry chops until brown, add a little salt and pepper
  • Add a can of cream of mushroom soup - no water
Turn down heat, cover and simmer on low heat for 30 - 40 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops.
  • Add a sliced apple - pork and apple go well together
  • Cover, continue to cook until pork is very tender 
  • Add more seasoning if you wish, be creative. Add water to thin out gravy.

You can serve these chops over mashed potatoes, rice, noodles or just as they are. If your children are meat eaters, they'll love this.

        We're not all meat-eaters. A good homemade soup can be a great meal. I sometimes make soup during the summer, even if the kitchen gets a little warm. Soup is lighter meal, but it is filling and when you use good ingredients, very nutritious. This is a favorite of ours. . .

Lentil Soup
  • 1 chopped onion, 1 clove minced garlic, 1 stalk sliced celery
  • 1 carrot or about 2/3 cup shredded carrots
Add a little olive oil to a soup pot and add above ingredients. Cook and stir until a soft. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 2/3 to 1 cup of rinsed lentils
  • Stir in 4 - 5 cups of water, and 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • Add 4 teaspoons of beef or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dry oregano, 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • A few dashes of hot pepper sauce - or not, depending on taste
Cook until lentils become soft, then add a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, cook down. Some like to add about 1/3 cup of small uncooked pasta. Soup is always better the day after you make it when the flavors have had a chance to meld together.

        What else might we need a recipe for? How about loving others? I can love others, it's the "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." John 13:34.
        Jesus loved so much that He died on a cross for us. The Lord knows that we can't even come close to this kind of love. This is an exhortation which is a command of God given so we know what to ask God for. Therefore, when we are faced with our own lack of love, we ask God to supply the love. It comes from Him.

"We know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. We love because he first loved us." I John 4:16, 19.

         Most of us have had the experience of feeling a lack of love for someone we think we should love. We are not humanly able to force this feeling; there is a reason for this.

"God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit."
Romans 5:5

        This is the 'how to' recipe we need. It is God who pours His love into our hearts; if He doesn't do that, we don't have it. So we go to Him and ask that He do this. Somehow we think we're capable of loving on our own, and we are to some extent, but it's God's love that we can trust.
        What else might we need a recipe for - forgiveness maybe? If we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that we often need to be forgiven and those around us aren't perfect either. Being able to freely forgive ourselves and others is crucial to living a life of peace. If you don't have peace, there isn't much joy in your life.
        The Scripture has a lot to say about forgiveness. David prayed to God in Psalm 19 asking Him to "forgive my hidden faults." We want the faults that others can see to be forgiven - many of David's worst faults were seen and known by many. But David prayed for his "hidden faults." He truly desired to be cleansed of sin, and he knew that with God there was forgiveness, Psalm 130.

"Forgive as the Lord forgave you." Colossians 3:13

We as believers have experienced forgiveness and because of that, we are able to forgive others. Not everyone is filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. But you are, if you know the Lord as your Savior. Call on that power to help you forgive those who need to be forgiven, which is everybody.

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity."

        Think of a bowl of plain cookie batter. It won't result in a tasty cookie until you add chocolate chips, or raisens, maybe chopped nuts, and stir together until the ingredients bind. When you bake this dough, the ingredients melt together. You might say, 'in perfect unity', like love and forgiveness; one goes with the other. If you love, you can forgive, and if you can forgive, you have God's love in you. There is one thing this recipe is missing - our own wonderfulness! There isn't even a teaspoon of us that goes into this mixture. We are usually too proud and working too hard to be, and to look righteous, to notice that it's all of Him, and none of us.
        There comes a day when Christ in us - Galatians 2:20 - becomes evident. This is 'hallelujah' time! What a relief! God is doing for us what we can't do for ourselves. Bend a knee and praise Him.
        Another recipe we might seek is one for our insecurity. We all live with some kind of insecurity - health issues, worried that you may lose your job, financial woes, a difficult child. . .we could make a long list of items we feel insecure about. We crave to be secure. When insecurity invades our lives, it may compromise our relationships, hinder our abilities, and certainly will steal our peace and joy in life. It is written in Psalm 112. . .

"Blessed is the man who fears (honors, reveres) the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands (instructions, recipes). . .His heart is secure and he will have no fear. . ." vs. 1,8

        None of us know what tomorrow will bring. We often look at what is happening in the world and cringe. But know this; we have a hiding place where our real life is protected by the Lord - Colossians 3:3. Whatever may come, we are safe and secure because we are God's child. We human parents fail sometimes to protect our children, but God never fails.
        The book of Hebrews, Chapter 6, sheds some light on the subject of security. It states that God has made a promise, God cannot lie, and He wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear for those to whom the promise was made. It is God who "anchors" us in this world so we don't fly into oblivion.

"We have this anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
Hebrews 6:19

In Deuteronomy, Moses blesses the twelve tribes of Israel and writes this. . .

"Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders."  33:12

What a beautiful visual - the Lord carrying us on his shoulders! God has promised eternal life for those who believe in Him. No matter what happens during our time in this world, our fate has been secured by the only One who has the love, mercy and power to do that. Take a few minutes and read Psalm 16; you will be blessed and better understand as David did, that God has made our lot secure, and we will receive a delightful inheritance. We're not talking about gold and riches. David had his eye on heaven.
       
        You can use the Bible as a recipe book for making your marriage better, raising your children, handling your money and attaining better health.  The book of Proverbs has very practical advise from King Solomon. The Lord blessed him with the gift of wisdom. There are thirty-one chapters in Proverbs, read one a day and in a month you've read the whole book and been exposed to much wisdom. Ask the Lord to apply what you learn to your present circumstances. We can read, study, take classes, listen to messages in church, but it is God alone who reveals truth - He makes it 'real' to us. We are dependent upon Him.

Lord, I thank you for the tools you've given us in your Holy Word to help us to cope with this world. Help me to remember, my real life is hidden in you and I'm not of this world.
       

       


       

Thursday, October 9, 2014

LOOKING THROUGH EYES OF FAITH


 "My life is but a weaving between my God and me,
I do not choose the colors, He works so steadily.
Oft' times He weaves in sorrow, and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper, and I see the underside.
Not until the loom is silent, and the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas, and explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned.
by Corrie ten Boom
While teaching a Bible study for inmates in our local jail, I will often remind them that even though life doesn't always look good to us; God has woven a perfect pattern into the tapestry of our life. What we often see is the underside - a mess of pulled threads with no clear meaning, but God sees the upper side with every stitch in place creating a beautiful picture.
        In 2002, my husband and I went on a mission to Belgium where we worked in a printing plant assembling study material for African children. One weekend we got on a train and traveled to The Netherlands where we visited the town of 'Haarlem'. This was the home of Corrie ten Boom and her family. During World War II, they hid Jews from the Nazis. Their work was eventually discovered and only Corrie survived the concentration camp. I was thrilled to see this poem framed on the wall of their home, which is now a small museum. I'd never known where this had come from and here it was right before me!  Corrie wrote it.
        I'm re-posting a blog I wrote more than a year ago on the subject of looking at life through the eyes of faith. Often the difference is between sadness and misery, or joy and hope. How do you want to live?
Post from 9/30/13
Really? How can you say God will supply all of our needs when people die every day from starvation? Some of you have asked. 

      Before becoming a believer and a student of the Bible, I often asked this type of question. When I looked at so much heartache in the world, it was difficult for me to want to know God who was said to be loving and merciful, but allowed so much suffering.
      I realize it can be very difficult to understand Bible verses and Biblical principles that appear to be out of sync from what we observe in the 'real' world. Most of all, I believe we are interested in relating Biblical truth to our personal lives. We need God to give us the gift of faith so we can trust Him. Slowly but surely, as we step back from our own struggle, we'll see God accomplish in our life what could never have happened without Him.
      The more you come to know the sovereignty of God, the more tolerant you are of what you judge to be tragedies in this world. You begin to understand that God doesn't perceive the world, or our lives, in the same way we do. He has a total and complete plan. He knows the beginning and the end. We need to see through eyes of faith. He has woven together a beautiful tapestry, with every stitch in place. So often what we see is the underside side of the tapestry which is a tangle of threads and no clear picture of something beautiful.
      The process of seeing the Bible as a complete picture of God  and fitting the words together to make something meaningful is what gives us hope. This is also what intrigues those of us who love to study the Word and are called to share it with others. One of the most valuable truths I've learned from Scripture is that we, in a human body, are not able to recall spiritual truth at will. I will always know that ‘c-a-t’ spells cat, but on a day to day basis, I can't always recall that "God works everything for good..." This is a spiritual truth.
      Marriages dissolve, children are left without a parent, a friend is diagnosed with cancer, someone you love has heart disease or a child you loved and nurtured has become an alcoholic and has great difficulty functioning in life. Globally, you see people killing one another, a tsunami wipes out towns and villages, fires destroy homes, earthquakes crush people. . .how does God work this for good you ask.
      When the Lord causes me to see by faith, I'm immediately aware that He has a perfect plan and knows what He's doing. We often stumble through the darkness looking for what seems right. God knows what is right. For some reason that I can't understand with my human mind, God has made stress, fear, anxiety, anger and depression a part of our human condition.

The Bible defines faith this way. . .

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see - Hebrews 11:1

'Walking by faith' isn't something we can do on our own. The Lord needs to produce this faith in us. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the "author and perfecter" of our faith. The Lord wants us to come to Him. He desires to have a relationship with us. If we could see everything as 'perfect', we'd never be drawn to God, and we wouldn't need the power of His Holy Spirit in us; we'd be our own God.
      We judge this world with a human eye. God looks through a different lens. Do you ever wonder why Adam and Eve were told not to eat from the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil"? Why wouldn't God want us to know what is evil and what is good? Possibly, because we'd judge His plan. . .this is good, and that is bad. And of course this was the immediate result of eating the fruit. Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves. They had never worn any clothes and now, after having their eyes opened, they judged this to be bad. There is a metaphor in play here - their nakedness represents sin, and they wanted to hide it from the Lord - Genesis, chapter 3.    
      If I were God - a bit presumptuous of me, excuse the illustration, we'd all be living in a perfect world. I would be a terrible God. The Bible says we grow spiritually when faced with adversity. During time of trouble is when we most often seek the Lord.
      Even though there are people in the world who are starving and brutalized by war, I can have a sense of peace knowing that the Lord has not lost control.

". . .according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will. . ." Ephesians 1:11.

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

"Man's days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed." Job 14:5

      If this is a difficult concept for you, ask the Lord to show you in His Word how you can have peace in a world that is never at peace. If we can view our time here on earth through the lens of faith we will be able to trust the Lord in all circumstances.

Thank you Lord that you are able to work all things for good. Help us to come to trust You and praise you for everything in our lives.

     

   

 

     




 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WHAT GOOD DOES PRAYER DO?

"Every leaf speaks
bliss to me,
fluttering from
the autumn tree."
~ Emily Bronte
 
 
I know just what Emily meant. I too love the autumn season. I noticed recently that the stores where I live are beginning to carry things like pumpkin flavored coffee, pumpkin potato chips, orange donut holes, and cookies and cakes beautifully decorated in - what else, orange frosting of course! I wonder why so many of us love this time of year since this is a prelude to winter when trees, plants and flowers 'die back'. That which appeared to be dead in winter months will be revived in the spring. Such is the cycle of nature, and we've come to trust that new life will come; God's perfect plan.
 
        My husband was hospitalized three different times during the month of September. His life was in jeopardy and I thought maybe the Lord would take him home. But God sustained his life. He's actually doing very well now. During his last hospital stay, he had a heart procedure called ablation. This is tricky - we're blessed to have an expert available who was able to accomplish all that he hoped for. Many prayed, not just for my husband, but for this doctor's skill.
        Was I praying for my husband? Of course, but not what you may think. It's so tempting to pray, "Lord, please do this or that. . ." But I've learned that our heavenly Father knows best. We have no idea what is ahead; what future pain or struggle we may have to endure. In His infinite wisdom, God does what He knows is best. Therefore, I can pray "Lord, I trust you and whatever your plan may be, help me to know that it will ultimately be for the best." People die every day, does that mean that God was powerless to rescue them from death? Is God not in charge of live and death? He has numbered our days and counted our steps - God has set a limit for our days on earth that we cannot exceed - Job 14.
 
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord." Isaiah 55:8
 
        This is one of my husband's favorite verses. The passage goes on to say that God's word will not return to Him empty but will accomplish the purpose for which He has sent it. We pray that "Gods will be done", but don't always mean it. When we pray in faith trusting the wisdom and sovereignty of God amazing things will happen.
 
"You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."  Isaiah 55:12
 
        Maybe sometime God overstates truth to get our attention - sounds good to me! I'd love to see the trees clap their hands. What a great visual. I want my husband to be here with our family. He, right behind Jesus my Lord, is the centerpiece of my life. Humanly speaking, he's not perfect, there are things I'd like to 'fix' or change, but I need to know that God made him just the way He wants him to be and he's the perfect husband for me. I also know, God won't take him away until I'm prepared for that to happen. I trust Him.
        So, what good does prayer do when God has already set His plan in place? Can we change His plan if we pray long and hard enough? Would you want to change His plan? Wouldn't that be like thinking you know more than God? Ponder these questions.
        We pray because, for one thing, we can't help it - it's natural for a believer to pray; it's part of our nature. We have a strong desire to come before God with our troubles and concerns. Even though He knows all that is happening, we want to discuss our life with Him. We pray because He told us to, knowing that this is what we need to do to have a relationship with Him. Christianity isn't a religion with a list of do's and don'ts and a set of rituals to follow. Christianity is a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
        In order to have a relationship with someone, anyone, you need to communicate with one another. You talk face to face, you call, e-mail or text - right?
        You can 'think' your prayer in your head, never uttering a word out loud; the Lord will hear you. You can write your prayer in a letter or on the back of your shopping list; the Lord will hear it. You can shout your prayer from the highest mountain, or whisper in the middle of a barren desert; He'll hear you. There is a very interesting verse that describes and defines what happens in prayer. . .
 
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the (Holy) Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the  Spirit intercedes for the saints (believers) in accordance with God's will." Romans 8:26-27
 
        How does that make you feel? I can't think of anything that gives me more peace and hope then knowing the Holy Spirit is interceding for me in accordance with the will of God. It doesn't get any better than this.
        I want to thank all of you who prayed for my husband's recovery; the Lord heard every prayer. God didn't change His plan based on what you prayed; the Holy Spirit was guiding your prayer into exactly what He wanted it to be. I would be remiss if I didn't share another Biblical truth concerning prayer. Simply stated, if you do not know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, God considers you to be a sinner. The only way we can come before God is through the death and resurrection of Christ - Galatians 2:20-21. Jesus has paid the price for the sin we commit daily; past, present and future. If Jesus is your Lord, sin is gone, totally gone.
 
"We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will."  John 9:31
 
        Of course the next question would be, "Who is a godly man, or woman? Scripture answers this very clearly and simply in John 6:29. Jesus had been preaching and a group of religious Jews didn't understand what He had said so came to him privately and asked directly, "What must we do to do the works God requires?" Today, we'd probably state the question differently and ask, "How can I be sure I'm going to heaven?" This is the answer. . .
 
"The work of God is this: believe in the one he has sent." John 6:29
 
This is how we become godly and how we are able to do the will of God; simply believe in Jesus, who was the One God sent.

Thank you Lord that we can have peace in this life where chaos so often reigns. Help us to come to you in faith knowing that your solution to our problems is superior to any we humanly could come up with. Grow our trust so others notice and will seek you to become their Lord and Savior.
 
 
 
             
 
       
 
       
 
 
       
 
 


Sunday, September 14, 2014

TRAUMA, DRAMA, THEN PEACE

 
 
 
 
 

I've been distracted lately. My husband has had a lot of health issues resulting in trauma and drama to deal with. The blog I'd started working on before the onset of these problems didn't seem appropriate. I've changed course as I believe a blog based on the Bible should reflect our present life; what befalls us, and how the Lord can help us through the real stuff. I recently read these words. . .




"One cannot transcend trauma. Trauma is trapped and clings to that which happened. We live not after trauma but in its aftermath."       
Carolyn Forche'

        I think this is an interesting statement; one that takes some thought to analyze. From time to time we all experience some type of trauma and the drama that arises from it. We need to know how to handle it, and we need to know how to live in its aftermath. Fear and worry should not be a part of a Christian's experience, but it often is if we haven't been exposed to good Biblical teaching.
        Spiritual truth isn't the same as other truth. It will always be true that 2 + 2 = 4, but there will be times that our faith is real and alive in us, and times when we feel God has withdrawn it and then we walk as the world does - full of worry and so afraid that something we judge as bad will come to us. Know that we are totally in His will at all times, Ephesians 1:1l. I have days that I know "all things work together for good" and days that my faith is not apparent, even to me! It's a great comfort to know that when my faith isn't evident, it's still there. I've been spiritually born into Jesus Christ and He will never disown Himself. Galatians 2:20 says that "I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. ..The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

"If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself."  II Timothy 2:13

        When we write a blog or publish a book, we have no idea how the Lord will use it in others' lives. One day a young man I didn't know very well told me that he'd read my book, 'Blogging God's Word', and the verse that was most meaningful to him was II Timothy 2:13. He said when he got to a low point in his spiritual life and was struggling with faith to believe that the Lord was still with him and would sustain him, this verse settled in his heart and gave him peace. This is what we want - God's word to settle in our heart so we can transcend everything that comes our way.
        I know that God is in charge of the 'what and when' of life. There are no 'what ifs' in His playbook. He's mapped out a plan for each of us. This is an eternal plan. We don't know what tomorrow will bring; life can change moment by moment. But when we come to understand that nothing can happen to us that is out of God's control, we can walk in peace. There are no regrets to live with, no 'what ifs'. Just peace.
         My husband and two of our sons are watching the San Diego Charger football game this Sunday afternoon. Our team is playing the Super Bowl Champions so it'd be very nice to win this game. And for the moment, there is no thought of what will happen next week, or even an hour from now. There will no doubt be more trauma and drama, but God will sustain us with His peace that surpasses our understanding.

"And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7

        There can be no peace if we believe that we are subject to the errors of this world. Satan is alive and well but Jesus has already crushed him. This was first prophesied way back in Genesis 3:15 and was fulfilled at the cross when Jesus died and then rose again - He beat death. And so have we who know Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We will live eternally with Him. That's God's plan and He won't change it and no one can steal it from us. . .no one, not ever.
        This knowledge and the peace it brings is what I pray for all who read these words. I pray for you come to know the living Lord.
        My husband will be having a heart procedure on Tuesday, 9/16 called 'ablation' to correct the erratic behavior that threatens his life. He has one of the best doctors in the country. Our faith is not in Dr. Higgins, but in God, who has given great skill to this doctor.

Thank you Lord that peace is in you alone. The world can't give it, we can't buy it, or get it in any other way except through you and your love for us. I pray that I don't ever question your will.






Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WHAT WERE YOU CREATED TO DO?

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." 
Ephesians 2:10

We all wonder, don't we? Who we are, what is our purpose, and who's in charge? I think the above verse answers these questions.

1 - We are God's workmanship - a child of God, He made us
2 - We were created in Jesus to do good works - our purpose
3 - God prepared our works in advance - He's in charge

        This is just the beginning of the story of our relationship with the Father. I love tales of God's sovereignty. I'm in awe how all the pieces of our life begin to fit together perfectly, in ways we'd never have planned. Often, the only thing God expects of us is to "Be still and know that I am God..." Psalm 46:10. That may be a lot harder than you think. Our natural tendency is to 'do' something.

        In the early 1970's a book by David Wilkerson, The Cross and the Switchblade, was written about the life of Nicky Cruz. He was a Puerto Rican involved in gangs, drugs and alcohol in New York City. He came to believe in Christ and not only did his life change completely, he started a ministry to the street kids and their lives changed. This was a very popular book read by thousands. I was one who read it. God planted seeds and gave me a small glimpse of what He had in mind for me.

        In the mid-1970's my husband was transferred from the LA area to Raleigh, NC. I had started a Bible Study Fellowship class a couple of years prior to our move. After our family was settled, I joined the BSF class in Raleigh. We were doing a study in the book of John. I was very impressed by the young woman teaching the study. She was very knowledgeable concerning the Scripture. Her name was Ann Lotz. After a couple of weeks I remarked to someone that Ann was an excellent teacher. "She's Billy Graham's daughter you know" was the response. No, I didn't know that!

        There were over four hundred of us in this class. We broke into small groups to share the lesson. I found myself sitting next to Gloria Cruz, the wife of Nicky who  had lived the story of the book. One day she begin to talk about the ministry she had at the Woman's Prison in Raleigh. I heard her words and took notice. Slowly but surely the Lord began to work with me and one day, I could almost hear Him audibly tell me, "I want you to work with inmates, this is what you will do." Really? Okay Lord, show me where, when and how to do this; I'm willing. We always feel like we have a choice, that we need to be 'willing'. But the Lord likes to keep us humble. We're not to take the bow and steal His Glory. One day you come to realize that your "work" has been assigned since the creation of the world - yup, carved in indestructible stone! King David understood this. In Psalm 139:16 he wrote of the Lord. . .

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

        Twenty years went by, nothing happened. Once we moved from Raleigh, we never lived near a jail or prison, no one told me about a ministry I could become involved in, nothing. I began to think that I had imagined God speaking to me about having a ministry for inmates. Then one day, shortly after moving to the San Diego area, I was driving down a highway with a new neighbor.

        "What is that big structure being built?" I asked.
        "Oh, don't you know? That's a new jail facility."

I was so excited! A jail close to my home. I found out it wasn't going to be that easy to get my foot in the door, and several more years passed by. Finally, March 2001, I went in to teach my first  Bible Study for women inmates. Nearly twenty years had passed since I'd sat in the class next to Gloria Cruz listening to her share about her ministry to female inmates. Twenty years! There really hadn't been anything I could have done to 'hurry' the process. God had a time and a place that He'd pre-determined. He's in charge.

        In October 2013, I was asked to teach a class in creative writing for a new program at the jail. This was to be a pilot program in collaboration with the Veterans Administration called Veterans Moving Forward. A module would be filled with thirty- two selected veterans from all branches of service; they'd be given special privileges. Volunteers would come to teach classes in writing, finances, stress management and career planning. Their substance abuse problems would be addressed and talents explored, like music and art.

        This sounded like a great program, but I don't consider myself a writing teacher. I'm a Bible teacher. However, I felt that familiar nudge, and showed up the first Monday of November. I consider myself a facilitator, not a teacher. For the past nine months, I've watched these men bond with one another, write their stories and share them with each other. This took a while, it was a process, but now stories pour from them, they encourage each other, delight in other's experiences, and applaud one another. My idea was to help get the program started, build a team, and then escape into Bible study for those veterans who are interested. The 'team' hasn't appeared! The Lord sent us 'Randy', who has been a great help. He's a good teacher, compassionate and so willing to help these men. I'm still working on adding a couple more dependable people. In the meantime, these  thirty-two great guys have given me much joy in getting to know them. I pray for their success, and I feel God's hand on this special group.

". . .for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."   Philippians 2:13.

        I believe we should always be on the alert for that special 'work' God has planned for us. Sometimes it might be something we never thought we'd be doing, but do it we will, because God has ordained it to be a part of our life. I feel especially blessed to be able to take an active role in a program that benefits our veterans by promoting an environment of responsibility and accountability. Those who have been chosen to participate, are expected to demonstrate positive actions and work proactively toward their own success. So many in the program are men of faith and understand the value of having Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. They understand the truth of Philippians 4:13...

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Thank you Lord for these men you've given me to encourage. I may only see them once a week, but you bring them to mind daily. I see their faces, and I pray they find Your strength to help them overcome difficult circumstances. Thank you for designing the perfect work for each of your children.














       

Saturday, August 2, 2014

HOLD ON TO WHAT IS TRUE

This is a very unusual summer day for Southern California. It's warm, humid and raining. We so terribly need the rain and are very grateful. My little bird friends seem to be hiding today. No hummingbirds buzzing around the feeders. I'm sure the weather analysts will go on forever as to what has caused our rainy day. They make everything so complicated. God knew we needed rain and He sent us what we needed. I really do think it's that simple.

        As time allows, I continue to edit past blogs for another book. Most days time doesn't allow for much editing. I can be upset or frustrated, or I can realize the truth - the next book will be done in God's perfect time. It won't be late, certainly not early and if that's not so, I've been holding on to a false truth.

        I enjoy editing because I read what God has written through my hand and re-learn from His truth. This is the first time in nearly 150 blogs that I have re-posted an old blog. It was written in November of 2011. Spiritual truth doesn't lose its impact, doesn't get old or stale; it remains fresh and encouraging.


HOLD ON TO WHAT IS TRUE
 

We were living in Los Angeles. I was six or seven years old. One day in early December my mother and I took the bus downtown. We were going to do some Christmas shopping at a large department store. It must have been chilly that day because my mother put on her green wool winter coat. We had moved from Chicago to LA when I was five years old. She was grateful that we no longer had to contend with the Chicago’s cold and snow. 

When we arrived at the store, we waited for an elevator along with a crowd of people all anxious to begin their holiday shopping. When the elevator door opened I was pushed and shoved; a small child in the midst of a sea of adults. My mother lost my hand, but I kept my focus on the green coat and followed her into the elevator. It was warm and stuffy, a faint aroma of perfume hung in the air. I held on to the soft wool green coat. When the elevator stopped and everyone poured out, I looked up and saw the woman whose coat I’d been clutching was not my mother! I was terrified, lost in a huge department store without any idea where she was.

My point is this…I followed the wrong person and got lost. I’m much more interested in being true to God’s Word than in being politically correct. We live in an all-inclusive religious tolerance way of thinking today. You will often hear someone say, “There are many roads that lead to God”, or “All paths will lead to heaven.” The Bible says very clearly that there is only one way to have a relationship with God and that is through Jesus Christ.

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Narrow-minded? Yes, for sure, but this is God’s plan. Who are we to say that we have a better one? Don’t follow the wrong person or the wrong group and get lost. Eternity is forever and it’s important to know that you are holding on to the right One.

If you stand up for Biblical truth, trust me – someone will ridicule you, make you feel guilty or even cause you to examine your belief. This is actually a good thing. We need to examine what we believe and why we believe it. I’ve discovered if you show any inkling of having Biblical knowledge, and especially if you write a blog on God’s Word and have written books applying Scripture to real life situations, you will be plied with questions. The questions are usually stated in this way…


WHAT DO YOU THINK?

HOW DO YOU FEEL?

DO YOU BELIEVE?

It doesn’t matter what I think, feel or believe. What matters is the source of information that confirms the Christian faith. The source is God’s Word in the form of the Bible. So a good way to ask a question would be…

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT…?

OR, CAN YOU DIRECT ME TO A BIBLE PASSAGE THAT WILL GIVE INFORMATION ON…?

We may opine on many things, but giving an opinion of a Biblical passage is not like giving an opinion about a book, movie or restaurant. Keep in mind that you can pull a verse out of context and completely distort its intent. Scripture explains Scripture and passages of Scripture are validated by supporting verses. Be careful who you follow, or you will get lost! Be sure you are following the right path. Don’t hold onto a myth or humanistic philosophy.

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions” Proverbs 18:2

 King Solomon wrote this and he was a very wise man. If you read the Proverbs, you’ll find Solomon has a lot to say about wisdom and opinions. I think many of us have listened to a lot of people who love to air their opinions. We, who believe, know that the Bible is not for gaining knowledge alone, but to change our life; giving us peace and hope in every circumstance and dilemma we experience.

 Be aware that the Lord loves His children and doesn’t want negative emotions to interfere with our joy in life and our love for Him. When we’re having a hard time, maybe we need to change our focus and stop looking at ourselves, our problems, or potential problems. Hold on to the Heavenly Father and visualize His Kingdom. Concentrate on the one who loves you and has a perfect plan and purpose for all that happens, Ephesians 1:11.

 Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O Lord. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness.” Psalm 89: 15 – 16.

 Thank you Lord that we can always look to you for peace and calm in our lives and be fully assured that YOU Lord will keep us from falling and present us before His glorious presence, without fault and with great joy! Jude 24

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

ANSWERING YOUR QUESTIONS

I should try to answer questions more often. I don't seem to have the time to both blog on new topics and answer questions that come up. I wish I did, because my readers ask valid questions that others are probably interested in also. I'll try and do better with this.

        "I became a Christian three years ago. Why do bad things still happen to me? My life is a mess, why?

For one thing, we live in a fallen, messy world. The Bible doesn't tell us that life will be perfect if we are a believer. The truth is, "God didn't come to fix your life, He came to forgive your sins." This is a quote from a message I heard recently. Let this truth sink in. Jesus Christ came to redeem a lost people - that's us. "There are none righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God." Romans 3:10. 
        We can never be righteous in God's eyes by trying to keep the Ten Commandments perfectly. This is not possible. He gave us the 'law' so we would "become conscious of sin" and know we needed a Savior, Romans 3:20. We have a righteousness apart from the law "through faith in Jesus Christ", Romans 3:21.
        God is focused on what is spiritual and eternal. We focus on this world and what is material. I recently saw this statement on a marque, "The best proof of love is trust." There will be no peace if you are judging God's plan. If you love the Lord, you will trust Him, if you trust Him, you will experience peace even though your life is far from perfect. The Lord most certainly is interested in every detail of your life; He's even counted the hairs on your head, Matthew 10:30. However, He didn't come to fix your life according to your plan; He came to remove your sin so you can be righteous  before God - Jude 24.
        God is interested in the long-term. He's not growing us like mushrooms that spring up and then soon rot in the ground. God is growing us into oak trees - strong, sturdy, stable and able to withstand adversity. It takes a long time to grow an oak tree, be patient. Have you ever watched a tree grow? It appears that nothing is happening, but in God's time, you discover a lovely tree, and you realize that God has been working all this time that you've been fretting and anxious. If you are 'in Christ' the Holy Spirit dwells in you and you are eternally His.

        My sister is gay. She says she's a believer in Jesus and will go to heaven. I'm not so sure. Doesn't the Bible say homosexuality is sinful?

Let me ask this. . .if you know a believer who admits he stole something one time, would you be worried about him going to heaven?  Probably not. If he's a believer, his sins are forgiven. Isn't that why Jesus died on the cross? Of course it is, no problem. Then why would you not believe that your sister isn't forgiven? Sin is sin. The Bible lists homosexuals right along with the greedy and swindlers, I Corinthians 6:9 - 10. There are none righteous, we all need Jesus.
        Keep in mind that God is sovereign - that means He's in control of what happens. Sovereignty is the most pervasive doctrine in the Bible. This being true - if God didn't plan for there to be homosexuals among us, there wouldn't be any. Neither would there be thieves, liars or drunks. I don't completely understand this, but this is what the Bible says and I trust God's word.
        It's never pleasant to be 'different'. I think we innately desire to be like others. I'm grateful that I'm not blind or deaf, or homosexual. I did not experience making a conscious choice concerning my sexual orientation, nor a choice as to whether I can see or hear. I am who I am. Historically, there have always been gays among us. We can find no documentation however that there have been cultures who have sanctioned 'same sex' unions, as in a marriage. We do find a lot of evidence of bigamy, the Scriptures are a source, men having multiple wives.
        I believe problems with homosexuality arise because of a small percentage of gays who are almost militant and in-your-face concerning their sexuality. All through history there have been people who had no desire for the opposite sex and preferred their own. They accepted who they were and others probably did also.  Now, some insist on not only 'equal rights' but special rights. The behavior of the few makes it difficult for the many. I don't believe that we have a choice as to our sexual orientation, but we do have a choice concerning our behavior.
        Sin is sin. The wages of sin is death - hell is eternal death, heaven is eternal life, Romans 6:23. When we become a believer, the Holy Spirit in us moves us away from sin, not according to our plan and time schedule, but God's. Again, we need to trust Him. There is only one 'unforgiveable sin', and this is the sin of unbelief. Romans 4:21 tells us that God has the power to do what He has promised.
        We are not called to judge one another, we are called to love one another. . ."My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.", John 15:17. Will the Lord reject a woman who has had an abortion because 'Thou shall not murder'. No, not if she comes to Him - He is faithful to forgive.

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." I John 1: 8 - 9

        Given this truth, if you are one of those who consider homosexuals as having committed a sin which cannot be forgiven, think again. Your sin, in God's eyes, is just the same and we are all in this together. . .without our Savior, Jesus Christ, we are in big trouble! Paul said, "When they measure themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise. II Corinthians 10:12. When we fix our eyes on Jesus who is the author of our faith, Hebrews 12:2, life is infinitely better.

Lord, help us to keep focused on You and Your promise to redeem the lost sheep out of this world and into Your Kingdom. Please shed Your love in our hearts so we can love each other.