My cousin sent me an e-mail with precious, sometimes profound beyond their years, comments young children have made about 'marriage'. This is my favorite. . .
"No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with." Kristen, age 10
The boys also had their say. I like this one. . .
"Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a dump truck."
Ricky, age 10
It will soon be Valentine's Day when we are focused on love, things of the heart, spending money on flowers, candy and maybe a special dinner with our sweetheart. We've pretty much dropped the 'Saint', but this special day was named after a real person, Saint Valentine, who was a third century Christian martyr.
A red heart has come to symbolize love, thus you see a lot of hearts this time of year. Christians will often make the statement that they've invited Jesus into their 'heart'. One day someone, not a believer, said to me, "That's absurd, the heart is a muscle!" Yes, the heart is a hollow muscular organ that contracts and acts as a pump to maintain circulation of the blood in our body. If we do not have blood circulating through our body, we have no life. The heart is our source of life, no heart beat, no life.
The word 'heart' is also used to describe the whole personality of a person, including emotional and intellectual functions; courage - 'He has a courageous heart' or a 'kind heart'. We use this word to fetter out what is really important - getting to the 'heart' of the matter, or the central part, as in 'the heart of town'.
The Bible mentions the human heart nearly 300 times and describes it as the spiritual part of us where our emotions and desires dwell.
"My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart. . .Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:20-21, 23
You will discover that the Scripture says so much about our hearts. We love and trust with our heart, our desires come from the heart, and if you are a believer, God's law has been written in your heart. The Lord doesn't look at our outward appearance - getting all dressed up and acting 'nice' doesn't fool Him at all; He looks at our heart. In fact David wrote in Psalms 44:21 that God knows "the secrets of our heart."
God has a heart too! God declared that David was a man after His own heart. He said in I Samuel 2:35 that he will raise up a faithful priest "who will do according to what is in my heart and mind". God can 'soften' a heart and reveal who He is, or He can 'harden' a heart as in the case of the Egyptian Pharaoh. We can trust that God's plan is good and His heart is pure; but, ours is not. The Bible tells us that from within, out of men's hearts come evil thoughts - Mark 7:21. Romans 3:10 says "There is no one righteous, not even one. . ."
I think you can see the problem here; we're in big trouble and need to have our heart rejuvenated, healed and changed into the heart God wants us to have. This is an internal problem, it comes from inside of us. We all have that dreaded heart disease. Every one of us! God is faithful to His promises and He has told us if we come and ask Him to change our heart, He will. In fact He'll give us a new heart. This is a promise God has made -
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees. . ." Ezekiel 36:26-28
We can't do this ourselves, we need to trust God to do this for us. All we need to do is come to Him and ask that He change our heart. With this new heart will come new thoughts, new desire, new wisdom and the capacity to forgive and love others. We will still walk around in a body of flesh and our new heart may not always be visible to others, but God will see it. Flesh sins. We're stuck with this body and in this less-than-perfect world until the Lord gives us a new body so that we can live with Him eternally with a purity this world can never know.
My heart hurts for those who feel lonely, unloved, insecure, lost and without hope - especially on Valentines Day when there is so much talk of love. If you are one of these people, know this. . .God never turns away anyone who comes to Him and asks to be forgiven and accepted as His child. Just ask, He will hear you.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Thank you Lord that you have come to fix our diseased hearts. Thank you for suffering for us so we can live eternally with a pure heart.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Monday, February 2, 2015
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." I Corinthians 9:24 - 25
Yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday. Here in the USA we go a bit overboard with this annual wrap up of our football season. A huge amount of money is spent, way too much food and beverage is consumed, and someone wins and someone loses. Our American football is as revered as soccer in much of the world. We chose our teams and are united in cheering them to victory. But, we can't all win.
We have a son who started playing Junior All-American football at the age of seven. My husband would come home from work and ask him how practice went that day. Invariably he'd answer, "Good dad, I'm most valuable player." We loved his enthusiasm and positive attitude. The day came when he was handed a trophy that read, "Most Valuable Player". His coach said that he was the best defensive player he'd ever coached; he played in the linebacker position. As much as we'd like for it to happen this way. . .life isn't a steady flow of victories. We often have trials and setbacks and sometimes we feel like we've fallen in a big hole and can't climb out.
I think we are drawn into the world of sports as a means of connecting with others and rooting for the same team. There is a camaraderie that makes us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves, like a family. It eases loneliness for some and adds a purely fun element to life. For the most part, as long as people don't go crazy, this is a good thing.
Every team has a coach, a leader, someone who guides, teaches and encourages the athletes. Those of us who have been given the gift of faith have a coach too - God. I could fill a whole page of who He is to the believer, but let's concentrate on just a few of His attributes. . .
teacher, counselor, ever-present helper, and best of all, the One who is able to get us to the finish line. I can't imagine going through life without the Lord as my personal coach. It would be so very hard. At times, it's hard anyway because we can't see God's whole plan and must walk in faith believing the words He has spoken are true.
"Faith is a pierless bridge supporting what we see unto the scene that we do not." Emily Dickinson - poet
We feel secure when someone 'has our back'. Faith in a loving God who will usher us into His eternal kingdom someday frees us up to share His blessings with others, and to experience joy in this life. I am thrilled every time I read what Jude wrote, verse 24. . .
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. . ."
God has our back and when we come into His presence we will know that what we did here on earth was all a part of His plan. What we judge as good and bad. His purpose will stand. Jesus came to atone (pay) for our sin, all of it. He washed us clean and we are now 'faultless' in God's eyes, but often not each other's. Many will never read the Bible, but they'll read your life.
The Holy Spirit causes us to want to reflect Christ, and give Him the glory for anything we accomplish in this world. When we try and ignore that, we're usually miserable people. There is a large group of Christians who are involved in professional sports and they understand they will lay the 'crowns' they earn before the throne of God someday - Revelation 4:10
I looked with great pride at my son as we stood with his trophies, and my heart was beating to the rhythm of 'Love him Lord, help him, guide him, teach him to trust in You'. This one is for you Ger.
Lord, I thank you daily for all in life I cannot see so that I can walk in faith trusting You.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
On a trip we took in 1999, we met this little boy in Israel. We were wandering around the desert and he and his sweet camel were on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. He let us know that if we took his picture, he expected some money. This smart little guy had already learned that it's a good thing to look after yourself.
My husband has had contact with camels while mapping some of the world; Afghanistan, Iran, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, etc. He's had camels spit at him while loading them up with mapping equipment and can't be convinced they can be "sweet". Israel is a wonderful place to visit, the hub of the three major religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We also spent time in Turkey and Greece on this trip - 'The Cradle of Civilization'. The history of the Bible comes alive as you explore these areas of the world.
There comes a time in life, for most of us, when we need a little help and reassurance. I'm so grateful to have a God who sees me, knows me, and can lead me out of trouble and give me a sense of peace.
"You are the God who sees me," . . ."I have now seen the One who sees me". Genesis 16:13
These words were spoken by Hagar who was the mother of Ishmael. God had promised Abraham and his wife, Sarah, a son. Many years went by and there was no son. Not surprising because both were very old and past normal child bearing years. However they believed God's promise, up to a point. They decided it wasn't going to happen without some human intervention. Very quickly, faith was replaced by human effort. Sound familiar? How often do we 'roll up our sleeves' and attempt to help God?
With Sarah's consent, Abraham took her maidservant Hagar as his wife and she became pregnant. Hagar began to look at herself as the favored one and she "despised" her mistress, Sarah. Sarah fought back by mistreating her so Hagar ran away into the desert. This is where she encountered the Lord Himself, Jesus. He spoke to her, directing her to return home and submit to her mistress. The "Angel of the Lord", is the incarnate Jesus. Whenever God has appeared to man it's been in the person of Jesus Christ, even prior to His birth in Bethlehem. Out in the desert, Hagar recognized God immediately. He can meet us anywhere at anytime we need Him.
Hagar was given some information about her son. I would think this would have been disturbing however the Scripture doesn't record a response from Hagar.
"The Angel of the Lord also said to her (Hagar) I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." And then He added,
"You are now with child
and you will have a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
for the Lord has heard of your
He will be a wild donkey of a man;
and his hand will be against
and everyone's hand against
and he will live in hostility
toward all his brothers.". Genesis 16: 10 - 12
This is the beginning of the Arab nation and the prophesy is chilling as we witness daily the drama happening before our eyes. However I have great peace in knowing that God sees our struggles and I know a solution is ultimately in His hands. What can we do? Share our faith in a sovereign God, love instead of hate, and stand up for what we know to be true. I can't say this better than the Apostle Paul who wrote in the book of Romans,
"For your sake we face death all
day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8: 36 -39
2015, a new year. I pray that we are able to hold on to that which is true and not be overcome with hopelessness. Jesus overcame the world, and if you believe in Him, you are "in Christ" and have also overcome the world.
PRAISE BE TO GOD.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
This is our family posing on Cardiff Beach near San Diego for a reunion photo in early November. Our three sons, two daughters and son-in-law gathered to celebrate dad's birthday and being together at the same time in the same place. This doesn't happen often as we have two who live on the east coast, a distance of 3,000 miles away.
I wrote these words a few years ago for a Christmas card. . .
"The year floats away,
swallowed by persistent
tides that return to scatter
memories along the shore,
the sweet and the bitter sweet."
Another year gone, so quickly it seems. We recently watched the movie, The Sound of Music and as I ruminate over the past year the words to this catchy tune come to mind - "So long, farewell". . .this year is now stored in my memory bank. I believe it's good to reflect on what has transpired during the year. We can't get this time back, we can't change anything, but we can rejoice in what was good, and praise God for what went 'wrong' in our opinion, knowing that His hand was always upon us.
To borrow a line from Charles Dickens, "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." For us, the best was having all of our children together under the same roof, if even for a short while. The worst, my husband had health problems and was in the hospital four times. There was a time when I thought he might be singing Christmas carols with the angels this year, rather than being here with us. And, of course like most families, we had everything in between the best and the worst. Life can be a little unruly at times, but as a child of God I know that He allows only what is ultimately best for us. He leads us down the right path even when it isn't one of our choosing. It's so important to know these truths. . .
"In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making." Proverbs 16:9, 11
We often worry if we've "done enough" for the Lord when in reality, God isn't counting on us for anything. . .
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. . .And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he gives all men life and breath and everything else."
Acts 17: 24, 25
This passage goes on to tell us that God has determined the times set for us and the exact places where we will live. Because the truth is that we live and move and have our being in him. Knowing this is what enables us to experience peace in all circumstances.
We know man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. . .I Samuel 16:7. When God looks into our heart do you know what He wants to see? He wants to see His image. He wants to see Christ in us, not our failing frail humanness.
"As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him." 11 Samuel 16:7
As we bid 2014 farewell, my prayer for all my readers is to know God is your protector against what appears to be senseless and evil of this world. You will have a good New Year if you hold on to Biblical principles and desire to feel God's presence in your life daily. Trust Him, He's your heavenly Father; this is how to have a very Happy New Year.
Lord, thank you for watching over our family this past year. Help us to remember every day that you are a sovereign God who loves us, knows our name, and holds us in the palm of your hand.
Monday, December 8, 2014
"Magi from the east came to Jerusalem. . .We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him." Matthew 2: 1-2
Once upon a time, over 2,000 years ago. . .I remember as a child how excited I'd get when I heard those words, "Once upon a time." I knew I'd be hearing a good story. The story of the birth of Jesus is a favorite because it is a true story of God coming to earth as a man. Scholars will pick apart the details, argue about the precise place and time, but down through the ages the story of Jesus remains with us, as true, intact and enticing as ever.
I purchased this plaster image of Jesus many years ago. It hangs on our denim blue bedroom wall. I don't need an image to remind me that I am a child of God and that He sent Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. But I do love it and often smile when my eyes meet His. The Holy Spirit reminds me daily that I can have peace and experience joy, no matter what is happening in the world or circumstances that surround me. Jesus is my stabilizer in a rocky, uncertain world. The wall plaque reminds me of my good childhood friend, Lucy, and the day we found this artwork in a little store in Carlsbad, CA. She often visited us around Christmas time. Lucy has been in heaven with Jesus for many years now; one of my eternal friends.
At this time of year, you will often see photos of huge, beautifully decorated Christmas trees from all over the world. A little boy once asked me, "Why do all the trees have a star on top?" It was a great opportunity to tell him the story of Jesus and how three men from Persia followed a star that led them to Jesus so they could worship him. The 'Wise Men' were aware of the prophesy in Numbers 24:17. Moses wrote. . .
"I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter (king) will rise out of Israel."
Moses was writing about Jesus who wasn't born until 1200 years later. In my book, Blogging God's Word, I wrote about prophesy and how important it is to have "the assurance that Biblical prophesy is accurate, has been validated and is worthy of our trust."
* Micah 5:2 predicts that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem 500 years before his birth.
* Malachi 3:1 wrote in the 5th century B.C. that a 'messenger' would come to prepare the way for Christ. This was John the Baptist and you can read about him in John 1.
* Isaiah wrote 700 years before the birth of Christ in 7:14 a virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and will call him 'Immanuel' which means, 'God with us'.
* Isaiah 9: 6-7 tells us that this son would have "the government on his shoulders" and he would be called "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." This verse so clearly shows that the Father and the Son are One God. The prophesy speaks to the second coming of Christ when the whole world will recognize Him as the King of Kings.
"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
"Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philippians 2: 6 - 11.
This is why the world lights up with a magic seen at no other time of year. Some may say that His death and resurrection were much more important. If Jesus had not died for our sins and be resurrected to new life, we wouldn't have a Savior, and we'd need to pay for our own sins. That would be very uncomfortable to say the least. Heaven is eternal life in the presence of God (and all the others who believe - maybe even your pets) eternal death is separation from God and all that is good.
In my book, I point out that there are over 300 prophesies detailing the coming of baby Jesus. Jesus actually fulfilled every one in detail. A Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy, Peter W. Stoner, wrote in 'Science Speaks' that if you apply accurate principles of probability, the chances that one person in history could fulfill just 8 of these prophesies is 1 in 10 to the 28th power. The number would look like this. . .
1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000
This is very impressive, even for those who are not easily impressed! But who would think this could be less; Jesus is a very impressive Person!
I've travelled to many places in the world. One of the most fascinating spots on earth is Bethlehem, in fact, all of Israel. Where you are able to walk where Jesus walked; where you can see the place of His birth, a cave really, protected by the oldest surviving church in the Holy Land - Basilica of the Nativity built by order of the Roman Emperor, Constantine in A.D. 326. You can see two possible sites of the 'Shepherd's Field' where an angel appeared to announce the birth of Jesus to the shepherds and imagine his mother placing her baby in an animal feeding trough we call a manger. This 'first coming' of Jesus was as a humble servant of man. He cured people from disease and disabilities, fed, encouraged, washed the feet of His disciples and withstood a horrible death for those He loved. Along with the angel, a "heavenly host" suddenly appeared praising God and saying. . .
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on
whom his favor rests." Luke 2:14
This verse doesn't say 'everybody', but to men (human beings) on whom His favor rests. Does His 'favor' rest on you? Not sure? Ask Him to rest His miraculous favor on you, personally. He never says 'NO' to those who ask.
I wish all my readers a very nice Christmas and pray that you will have great peace and joy in your life because you know the Savior. Jesus is the Light that takes away the darkness.
Thank you Lord for coming to our rescue. Help us to you that you are the Shepherd and we are your sheep. Light that star of Bethlehem in our hearts.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
The story of a jolly man in a red suit who magically appears to children all over the world bringing gifts at Christmas time did not begin in the North Pole. The legend of the real St. Nicholas from whom our modern day Santa Claus emerged, has a story all its own. I hope parents will read this story to their children so they'll understand Santa's Christian roots.
Many ancient writings bear witness to the reality of St. Nicholas of Myra, born sometime between 260 – 280 A.D. in the Greek village of Patara, which is now modern day Turkey. He was a cardinal in the early church. Artwork shows that he was a small man who wore a flowing red robe, had a white beard and balding head. It wasn't just his physical appearance that caused him to become the model for our beloved modern day Santa Claus, it was who he was; a compassionate man who loved children and had a giving spirit. He was often seen carrying a bag of candy and small gifts. Children followed him clinging to his red robe.
Nicholas was the son of wealthy Christian parents who were always generous to those in need. They had a love for God and a passion to serve Him. They sent their son to school to study history and theology. When he was very young, he was given an opportunity to help a poor family. He dropped a sack of gold, no doubt provided by his parents, into an open window; then disappeared before being seen. This was repeated three times and is the origin of the symbol for St. Nicholas; three gold balls. One day, he was caught by the father of the family he was helping.
"Why have you given this gift?" he asked.
"Because you needed it" replied Nicholas.
We've 'modernized' our Santa Claus. He doesn't give because of need or out of love, but as a reward for being 'good'. In some countries, Santa doles out punishment to those who've been 'bad'. The concept of 'grace' has simply been ignored. Nicholas understood the things of God and that He gave us the gift of His Son, not as a reward, but because we so desperately need Him. Along with gifts of toys and candy, he gathered children together to tell them stories of Jesus and the gift He'd given the world by dying on the cross so all who believed could have a relationship with God.When Nicholas was in his mid-teens, he experienced a personal tragedy; both of his parents died, probably the result of a plague. He took his large inheritance, cashed it into Roman coins, and distributed them to the poor. He gave it all away as a memorial to his parents and their lifetime of generosity. He went to live with an uncle who tutored him and then later he attended school in a monastery. He was very young, probably not yet in his twenties, when he entered the priesthood.
At this point in history, there was a period of many years when Christians were persecuted by Roman emperors. Those who would not abandon their faith were tortured or put to death. Because Nicholas was a church leader, he was put in jail. It is said that he was inspired by the Apostle Paul and did as Paul did, sharing the gospel with other prisoners and guards in the rat infested prison. After his release he was elected Bishop of Myra.
It was not uncommon for religious leaders of the day to live a lavish lifestyle, but Nicholas was not a common man. He chose to provide for others, live simply and travel though his district to drop coins into windows or into shoes left on doorsteps of the poor. This no doubt was the basis of the custom that lives on today of putting coins and candy into shoes and 'Christmas' stockings. He never revealed his identity and would disappear before he could be thanked. Sound familiar?
Now, hundreds of years later, children, who are not obligated to listen to an inner voice that says, "This can't be true" eagerly await the arrival of a man dressed in red, watch for deer with soundless hooves, and enjoy the wonder of it all. As you can see, the person of 'Santa Claus' is rooted in sacred Christian tradition, despite the effort to make him secular. The endearing poem 'The Night Before Christmas', also known as 'A Visit from Saint Nicholas', written by Clement Moore in 1822, redefined the image of Santa and is probably the source of the addition of the sleigh and reindeer. Santa had to have a way to travel the world.
Christmas isn't just a 'holiday'; it's a 'holy day' when we celebrate God coming to earth as an infant born in humble surroundings. An event foretold centuries earlier. The world was changed forever that night when the shepherds in the field looked up and saw an angel who announced His arrival; the Messiah had come! Persecution still exits, hold on to what your heart knows to be true. Santa Claus need not take 'Christ' out of Christmas, but be a reminder of a man from the third century who served with humility and shared God's love and joy of giving.
Friday, November 28, 2014
Black Friday - a big shopping day. The name 'black Friday' arose from businesses that have been struggling with sales. Now at the end of the year they hope to show a profit and be in the 'black'. People go a little crazy rushing to stores before the sun is up to buy items that have been drastically reduced in price. When I opened my e-mail this morning, I noticed that 'Black Friday' prices are now available on-line.
A couple of years ago I wrote a book from my blogs. I wish I could greatly reduce the price, but it was set by the publisher for $13.95, e-book available for $7.99. I've been told that it can be bought for less if you look around the internet. I wrote this book mainly because I wanted it for our children, also I had many friends who told me they loved my blog but didn't like to read on-line.
I'm in the process of editing another book. It's a lot of work and some expense. From time to time I think - why bother? What I write can be read on-line and if someone is really interested in my topic, they can print out the blogs. When I'm in this mindset someone always comes along who tells me how very much they love my book and how helpful it is in their relationship with the Lord. The book is in the local libraries and is borrowed often. Maybe, I should keep doing this I think. You might like to consider buying the book for a Christmas gift - or for yourself.
Blogging God's Word is available at Crossbooks.com, Amazon.com, also as an e-Book. I'm sharing this information for those new to the blog. Also, a short synopsis and a few quotes from the books' introduction.
"You will enjoy the author's skill in applying Biblical principles to everyday life. Both Christians and unbelievers will gain basic knowledge of the bestselling book ever, the Bible. Familiar stories will come alive and you may discover a truth that will impact your life. You will be surprised how God views His children!
Be guided into the knowledge of God's grace and sovereignty
- Learn to experience God's presence in daily living
- Come to know the difference between church doctrine, humanistic theology and what the Bible really says
From the introduction. . .
"For over thirty-eight years I've been soaking up the Word of God, like a sponge! I have a file drawer full of Bible studies, a computer full, and a heart full! Looking for a new way to share what I've learned, I began to explore the world of blogging. I'm a bit uncomfortable with 'cyber space', so wondered if this would be a good place to deposit my treasure, God's living Word. One day I stepped out in faith, sat down at the computer with my husband, and set up a blog. . .a real blog! All I had to do was start writing. I wasn't sure how I should approach this new adventure, but felt very comfortable that this was what God wanted me to do."
More. . .
"Do I have a goal or agenda? Yes, I do! I write so others will come to know Jesus Christ as their very own Lord and Savior, be inspired to study the Bible and be able to apply what they learn to daily life."
More. . .
"I don't have a 'legalistic' bone in my body, simply a desire to point others to the truth of God's grace and total sovereignty. I am firmly convinced that this is how we as believers can attain a lasting peace through any hardship or trial and come to know the joy of loving the Lord. We are secure in His sovereignty."
"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will." Ephesians 1:11
I've chosen not to clutter up my blog by 'monetizing', so please excuse a commercial now and then.
Thank you Lord for allowing me to share Your Word with others. Somehow people from all over the world have found this blog. My confidence is never in myself, always in You.