Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Images Without Substance

I was watching a television program recently that was spotlighting people who go to extremes decorating their homes for Christmas. One man had filled his lawn and adorned his roof with every conceivable plastic and inflatable Santa, snowmen, reindeer, elves, and thousands of lights. When he was asked where he kept it all he showed them his storage shed behind his house. Oddly enough the only thing that was in the emptied out shed was Jesus, Joseph, and Mary. I’m not making this up.

I know that I am not the only one who has realized that the greatest symbols of God’s covenant love for us are always trivialized and set aside by our world system. The apostle John sheds light on this and encourages New Testament believers. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:19-21

Let’s define idol:
1. an image of a deity other than God
2. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance.
3. a figment of the mind; fantasy.

The world replaces the true and profound with semblances removed of substance.

Look what has happened to the rainbow. To children in our world rainbows are more associated with CareBears, leprechauns and cartoons than a covenant promise of Almighty God. Prior to the flood, "A mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground." Gen 2:6 Often we read Scriptures and we don't allow our humanity to really interact and think about what the biblical characters were experiencing. They would not be so different from us. Think "Katrina" or tsunami for a moment. Noah's family experienced the destruction of their world on every level. The earth was no longer watered by a gentle mist. Now they would experience the gathering of ominous dark clouds, thunder, lightning, and at times torrential downpours. Can you imagine the fear, the flashbacks, and the gnawing dread they would experience if God in His mercy had not made this covenant with them and sealed it with a beautiful display above their heads? We've lost the meaning of the rainbow to leprechauns with pots of gold and glittery children's stamps. To the survivors it was a constant reminder of His holiness and His mercy.
Then there is the cross. God's holiness and mercy displayed for all to see. I don’t remember where I heard or read this, but the cross was not originally a symbol of Christianity, not at least for the first few centuries. Not until all those who actually knew first hand of its barbarity and cruelty were dead did it replace the ichthus or fish that seems to have made a comeback as a car bumper sticker. There was a shop in south London which stocked crosses as a fashion item. Punk rockers, Madonna, and fashion icons have used it that way. The Evening Standard reported that one of their readers had gone into a shop to ask for one. "Sure," said the assistant, reaching for the crucifixes. "Do you want it with the little man on, or without?"

We all know what has happened to our celebration of His resurrection. The Easter bunny and his promise of sweets and dyed eggs take front and center.

We are in the Christmas season and the emphasis in our world is on Santa and not a Savior. Santa appears once a year makes a list and checks it twice trying to find out who is naughty or nice. The Savior is God with us 365 days of the year. He knows we are beyond naughty and has come to save His people from their sins. Jesus is God’s indescribable gift to us. His grace lavished on us. His life lived to show us the way and empower us to learn and change.
We can't expect those who don’t know Him to grasp the meaning and significance of God's covenant reminders to us. It is up to us not to lose the meaning of these sacred things. Beloved guard yourselves from idols. They have no substance or power to deliver. Go tell God’s amazing story in every creative way you can think of during this and every season. Do it with joy, grace, and a heart of love for those who only know the world’s cheap substitute.

MY PRAYER: Father, we bow before you and thank You that you are a covenant keeping God. Help us to never lose our wonder and awe when we see Your covenant reminders. We know that there were many shadows and types that pointed to You, but "the substance belongs only to You." Colossians 2:17

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving from a Grateful Heart

I am sitting in my son’s living room watching my newest little granddaughter sleeping in her mother’s arms. She is healthy, happy and beautiful. She lives in a nurturing environment with a sound roof over her head and plenty in her tummy. I don’t take that for granted. Many in our world aren’t always so blessed.

For many years now we have sponsored a Compassion child in India. We hope that we have improved the lot of a child whose parents love him as much as we love our children. I’m not saying this to pat ourselves on the back, but just to say, “God has been so faithful to us, how can we not extend that blessing to others?”

Like every family we have had some highs and lows, but the anchor of our souls has held us secure and steadfast. My oldest grandchild has overcome a serious eye problem. I am so grateful that our niece came through melanoma surgery and is doing well. My brother-in-law had open heart surgery without complications. This very week my sister and her husband are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. I just finished up Jesus the One and Only with a great group of women and leaders. I hope we all head into the holidays all the richer for studying the beautiful life, death, and resurrection of the Word made flesh. It was an incredibly rich experience yet we can never plumb the depths of all that He is.

I am grateful most of all to the Lord Jesus Christ for all that He has done in His mighty saving grace in this woman’s life. I have no idea where I would be if He had not intervened and rescued me from the lost and destructive path that I once was on. Truly I can sing, “Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind but now I see.”

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, even if you are in or from a country that doesn’t have our tradition. The God of the whole earth is worthy to be thanked for His incredible faithfulness.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Be On Guard

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, "In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts." Jude 1:17-18
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 2 Peter 2:19

I listened to one of the most deceitful things that I have heard in a long time yesterday. It was the pastor of a mega church announcing his homosexuality to his congregation. His motivation was to spare teens who are grappling with their sexual identity from the anguish that would drive them to suicide. His message was that you are who you are and that is fine with God. Anything in the Bible that leads you to believe it is wrong is to be ignored. He stated clearly that he believes the Bible is inspired but not true in all of the teachings. He urged his congregation to listen to Paul when he teaches on Jesus, but ignore his teachings on homosexuality because Paul basically didn’t even understand sex between a man and a woman much less the subject of sexual orientation.

Of course it was all baptized under the covering of love and acceptance i.e. approval. I agree with the love, but I don’t agree with the acceptance/approval. I went to church with a man who was a convicted pedophile. He’s attracted to children. I can love him and try to understand his brokenness, (he was molested as a child) but I will never approve or accept that this is the way his desires take him. We are a fallen race and never is it more apparent than in our sexuality. I am not suggesting people deny their sinful bents, I am proclaiming that Christ came to set the captives free and to make us whole and healthy human beings. Tiger Woods is a heterosexual and yet he is terribly bent and needs the healing power of God. He is a slave to his sexual appetites. To tell him that is just the way he rolls and we all accept that is to condemn him to the lifestyle of a roaming dog. Never free to bond to and really love a woman. Never free to be a wholesome example for his children through the redemption that is available through the cross of Jesus Christ. I pray that someday he will find his way to the cross of Christ who came to set the captives free.

I think one of the most disturbing things about this pastor's message was to observe the people in his congregation giving hardy approval as he twisted the word of God and justified himself. He was granted several standing ovations and other signs of approval. In Romans 1:32 the Apostle Paul warns us of those who “although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.”

Seeing all these things that are coming to pass what manner of people should we be? Beloved friend, my purpose in writing of this is to say, “Arm yourself for battle. In these last days difficult times are upon us. Ground yourself in the word and love of God.” "Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." 2 Peter 3:17-18

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Misty Edwards ~ I Love You

A friend shared this on FaceBook and it is a beautiful declaration of His love for us. Enjoy and receive that love.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kept in Step by His Spirit

The past week the Lord has encouraged me in several situations to share this with some friends. So, even though this is an old post, I sense it may be a timely word to someone who needs to hear it.
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Romans 8:14 NASB

Approximately eight years ago I sensed in my spirit that God was directing me towards children’s ministry. For nearly 20 years my focus had been exclusively women’s ministry so I was shocked and questioned if I was hearing correctly. Then two years later my pastor asked me to head the children’s ministry at our new church.

With very few exceptions I was never in the sanctuary during the preaching. We were plugged into a small group and that is where we enjoyed some intimate fellowship. After several years I started having some concerns that I was disconnected from the flow of what the Lord was doing in our church. God put that to rest in an amazing way.

One Saturday afternoon my husband came home from work and mentioned that he had been up and down on a ladder all day and his feet were sore from balancing on the rungs. I asked him if he would like a foot massage and who wouldn’t be up for that? While he showered I prepared a warm footbath and searched my arsenal for every soothing foot product I could find. I sat for half an hour and worked on his feet. In 35 years of marriage I am sorry to say that was just one of a very few times I have done that for him.

The next morning at church, I noticed on the platform near the pastor’s pulpit was a basin, towel, and pitcher. I thought to myself, “Well, I think I know what Pastor Jeff will be preaching today.” Then I went about my business and never gave it a second thought until the next morning during my quiet time. The Lord brought the picture of me ministering to my husband’s feet and the display at the front of the church. I heard that still small voice that I love saying, “I can keep you in step with what I am doing.” What had happened at our house God was doing at the gathering of His house. I was stunned. However, He wasn’t through with me yet. When I went to get my mail I found a note from a woman named Sharon Coarsey. She had been in a women’s Bible study I had led and sent me a lapel pin as a token of her appreciation. It was a basin and a towel. (By the way, she apologized that she hadn't sent it sooner. The timing was impeccable.) That was jaw dropping affirmation that I was being led and kept in step by His Spirit. How gracious and kind He is. He was asking me to stay at my post and trust Him to continue to lead.

I don’t know if you have concerns and doubts about where you are right now. Take them to the One who desires to lead you. It is part of our privilege as His child.

MY PRAYER: Lord we have received you and believe in your name. You have given us the right to become your children. Thank you that part of that privilege is to be led by your Spirit. In Jesus’ name amen. John 1:12

MY CONFESSION: I am a child of God and I am being led by His Spirit. I choose to follow. I stand on Your Word! Romans 8:14

Friday, November 12, 2010

Listen and be blessed! "Everything Sad is Coming Untrue" Part 1

Jason has a speech impediment. He stutters and this is the wonderful thing he says about it. "I'm actually grateful now," Jason says, "that my speech handicap never afforded me the option of masking my weakness behind an illusion of competency. Whenever I opened my mouth, there it was for all to see... something was clearly wrong with Jason. I couldn't fool others or myself. I think the best thing that can happen to us is to be 'found out' for all that we are, our religious and human pretenses stripped away to reveal our sin, pettiness, and weakness. Then we can devote our energies to better endeavors than the constant masquerade of sufficiency. The added benefit is that people are able to see how God's grace works in a real person's life. When we come clean about our brokenness, Christ becomes the star of our testimony and not us."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You Veterans! We Are Grateful.

Just finished a writing assignment to be published at http://www.amarthaheart.com/ on November 19th so I don't have a whole lot to say here. I do want include a couple of great quotes I've come across today. The first concerning our gratitude for our veterans. "In war there are no unwounded soldiers." Jose Narosky I thought about how very true that is whether you have been in combat serving your country or in combat serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone is wounded in one way or the other.

The other quote I found is by Thomas Edison and I know how true it is. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Can I get an amen on that one?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Martha Heart


Head on over to A Martha Heart and read the article I wrote. Check out all the recipes and the other writings while you are there. You will be be glad that you did. Hope you are having a wonderful day. http://www.amarthaheart.com/2010/11/09/my-holy-editor/

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Winter Snow (Feat. Audrey Assad) - Chris Tomlin (Must See)

We had a few flurries yesterday and I woke up today to an icy morning. Made me start thinking of the upcoming Holy Days and the music I would want to add to my Shuffle. This was my favorite off Chris Tomlin's Glory in the Highest cd. Actually it wasn't my favorite, I was just taken by this song I had never heard and thought it had a gentle beauty to it. Enjoy!

Picture Worth a 1,000 Words

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Receive Like a Child

"Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it at all." Mark 10:15 NASB

Yesterday I had the privilege of taking care of 3 children under the age of four. Their parents are moving and needed someone to be in-house to keep them safe and occupied while big furniture was being taken out. Their mom needed to be free to clean the rooms when the furniture was moved out and of course the endless packing of clothes and kitchen items.

We go to church together but didn’t know each other very well. We finally had some interaction through fall Bible studies my husband and I are leading. So when I showed up at their house the children didn’t know me at all. It took them about 20 minutes to get totally comfortable with me. They are great children; very bright, well-behaved and grateful to have the undivided attention of a grandmotherly (that would be me) person in the house. By the end of a very long day, we were totally bonded. That felt free to come and snuggle in my lap. There is just nothing like having a child seek a moment with their heads on your shoulder. Just quiet for a few minutes before they are off and busy again.

As I was overseeing their baths the oldest little girl looked up with a big smile and said, “It’s nice to meet you.” A little later she said, “I’m glad you got to come to my house today.” My heart just melted. How great was that? Her mom overheard the last statement and said, “We have been so busy they really needed a day like today where they have someone’s undivided attention.” Then their oldest boy who looked so tired came up and asked, “Would you rub my back?” I just loved it.
On the way home I thought to myself, “Lord I think I understand much better why you said we must become like a little child.” They were trusting, accepting, love sponges who didn’t try to disguise their needs. Even though I was tired at the end of the day I felt so blessed. What a gift to give, and have it so readily accepted. How many times would the Lord pour His care out on us if we would humbly receive it like a child? He’s so much more worthy of our trust and dependence than any mortal person no matter how well intentioned.

MY PRAYER: Help us to trust You with a childlike trust Lord. Help us not to refuse what you so freely give because we won’t humble ourselves and ask. Free us to seek quiet moments with you where we are just snuggled in enjoying Your comfort and presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.