Sunday, July 31, 2011

Broken Beauty

A wave slips around my toes, the kiss of cold foam stirring the sand, revealing a glint of pearly pink. I bend and pick up the shell, just a fragment, the swirled design cut short by ragged edges. It’s been crushed by the waves, ground by the sand, yet I admire it and slip it into my bucket with the others I’ve collected.

 The bright bottom of the plastic castle-shaped bucket is filled with shell pieces of all shapes and sizes, the few rare purples standing out in bright contrast to the pale tans and pinks. All of them are beautiful. All of them give a glimpse of the once-whole home that was so carefully built to house the various creatures. I’ll make something pretty with these pieces… I’ll make them into a whole.

It occurred to me that we are like those shells. The world has crushed us and battered us. Perhaps we have a few sharp edges, or ragged tears. We’ve given part of ourselves to the world, and contributed to its change, perhaps just as subtly as the few grains of sand each shell adds to the beach around it. We’re broken, and lie in the midst of the busy world, sometimes feeling useless and forgotten, buried in the sands of time.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise." (Psalm 51:17)

Then He comes. Our Heavenly Father scoops us up, just like I picked up that broken shell. He sees a reflection of Himself as the Creator in the colors that curl across the hard surface, in the emotions that swirl in our hearts. He sees what we once were, what we would have been had we not been marred by the sin of the world. He knows what we will be, when we are whole once again—perfect and untarnished.

"But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, 
and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand." (Isaiah 54:8)

Most of all, He loves. He sees beauty in our broken offerings, lifts us in His hands, and puts us safely into His kingdom, His castle. He has chosen us. We have accepted Him. Nothing we can do can change the way He sees us, because He sees us whole, redeemed, His own precious shell. His child.

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
 and uphold me with a willing spirit." (Psalm 51:12)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Standing on Shaky Ground

I have a praise report…
… and a confession…

It seems that God has been doing some mighty miraculous works these days, works that leave many of us slack-jawed and unprepared. Like our beautiful Sherry alluded to in her blog the other day about Hell having frozen over, these works come unexpectedly, blindsiding us. I pray with a head knowledge that God can do these things, that He is the Creator of the universe and God of all…

…but if I’m really honest? I haven’t believed that He was also the God over Hell.


In fact, I kind of felt that He had washed His hands pretty much clean of the place.

When I see my son, who has spent the last 20 years of his life in self-destructive behaviors, suddenly, in one day, come to the realization not just of the saving grace that is available to him through Jesus, but has the ability to finally admit to his sins and repent…  well it’s a red-letter day. It’s a day to rejoice and a day to praise God.

But at the same time, I’m not just humbled…

…I’m convicted…

Can I make a confession here? I never thought this day would happen. I never thought it would come to pass. I prayed for his eyes to be opened, but I had quit believing that it would ever occur.

It has been, after all, twenty years. I had lost hope.

I had lost faith.

And while I know that he’s truly repentant and has had a change of heart this time (versus the other times when he would just spout the words with no indication of the heart conversion), a part of me is still standing back, waiting to see if this is the time that it finally “takes” with him.

And I find the words of  Mark 9:17-24 especially poignant and applicable to me (emphasis is mine…).

A man in the crowd answered, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not.”

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.” So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. 

Jesus asked the boy’s father (mother), “How long has he been like this?”

“From childhood,” he (she) answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Immediately the boy’s father (mother) exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

My faith in this instance is a head faith… I have no heart faith. 

I have seen the miraculous, and my faith is still wavering.

Just like this father prays to Jesus, I do too…

Father, I do believe… but help me overcome my unbelief.
In Faith, 
Hanne

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Sweet Fragrance






My favorite seasons of the year—spring and summer. The fragrance of the garden is wonderful. Don’t you love all the sweet-smelling blooms?

Of all the sweet-smelling flowers, my favorite are the sweet, honey-scented roses. There’s something about sitting in a rose garden on an early summer morning, sipping tea from a delicate china cup that fills all my senses. It lifts me right into a quiet time with God.

The same way we are drawn to the sweetness of a flower, others can be drawn to the sweetness of Christ in us.


I love the way Apostle Paul made this connection:

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15 (NKJV)

Our thoughts, our words, and our actions matter. When we present ourselves as Christians—others watch our lives. We enjoy the variety of fragrance among the flowers in our gardens—what kind of bloom are we in God’s garden? What fragrance are we releasing to those around us?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Down, But Not Out

As a little girl, I couldn’t wait until Saturday mornings for one reason alone—cartoons. Not just any cartoon. My favorite—The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show. I couldn’t say then why the bestest and most amazing character in the show was Wile E. Coyote.

I simply adored him.

Sure, he was always getting flattened, blown up, or dropped from cliffs and pounded into the sun-crusted desert floor. He always came up with a new plan though. Road Runner sped along, probably laughing wildly at the constant and perpetual failure on the Coyote’s end; but this never daunted Wile E. Coyote. He got up again and made a new plan, bought a kit, researched new techniques, and returned to his quest.

Now that I have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and the knowledge of Scripture, I can honestly say, “I love the coyote.” He is determined to never give up. His goal—the prize—is to capture Road Runner.
I can’t say I understand the purpose of catching the bird, other than the challenge of the chase. I can, however, confess that there is a prize that I chase that is attainable. One day, I will lay hold of it and hopefully hear, “Well done, Karlene. You fought the fight. You finished the race. You kept the faith. You did NOT give up even when everything piled on your shoulders threatening to pound you deep into the crevices of the earth.”
Often, I am flat on my back, staring into heaven, crying, "Only You can save me." In those times, He would show me those He has placed around me as braces to hold me up in the storm.

"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;
 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." 
(2 Corinthians 4: 8 – 9 NIV)


I've felt a lot like rocks are falling on my head as though it were the rainy season. BUT, I have also found the depths of God's grace sustaining me when I knew I couldn't stand alone. 

"The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. 
The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. 
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all."
 (Psalm 34: 17 – 19 NKJV)

And then there are those days when He renders me speechless. He sends an angel to bring me His encouragement through gifts unexpected, opportunities, and other amazing blessings that reassure me of His word, "Your help comes from Me. I never sleep. I am your Keeper. I will preserve your soul. I will preserve your coming and your going forever." (Psalm 121:1 paraphrased)

"I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward 
call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3: 14 NKJV).



It's been a pleasure to visit with you.  

Dancin' in the Rain . . .
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*All pictures from google images or Looney Tunes *

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blue Hairs and Boomers

There are approximately 76 million of us. We’re known as Baby Boomers, and we are the post war folks born between 1946 and 1964. Perhaps you’ve heard of us. We like Elvis, hula hoops, and peanuts poured in a bottle of Coke. For us, there is no better entertainment than watching Gunsmoke reruns.


Because I fall into this group of folks of a “certain” age, younger people often refer to me as “Ma’am” and open doors for me. I realize this is polite, and even nice, but I used to think those things were reserved for little old ladies. Oh, wait, you don’t suppose they think…?

Well, whatever they think, it’s true I have been trying various lotions and wrinkle creams lately. None of them have removed any wrinkles, by the way. All they have actually removed are quite a few dollars from my purse.



I have also noticed I am sometimes stiff and sore when I first wake up. If my joints could scream, they would.

My eyesight is not perfect anymore. I wear glasses that get misplaced several times a day. It’s a common occurrence for me to go grumbling through the house searching for them. I have to wear them to see the computer or work in the kitchen. There is no point in me cleaning the house without them on. I miss too much dust and dirt.

Some days I am amazed that my chronological age does not match my mental age. I love getting involved in things, keeping up with current events, and doing just about anything that makes me laugh.

When I was a kid, I thought “old” people sat around in rocking chairs all day. I had no idea they actually went places and had fun. Most of all, I didn’t think they really knew much anymore. Looking back, I have to say I probably didn’t value them as much as I should have.

God values aging folks just as much as he values anyone else. His word says we are to respect our elders and treat them kindly:

“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and with all propriety…” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).

“You are to rise in the presence of the elderly and honor the old… I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32).

He also reminds us to learn from our elders:

“Remember the days of old; consider the years long past. Ask your father, and he will tell you, your elders, and they will teach you” (Deuteronomy 32:7).

I am looking forward to the day when I officially become a senior citizen. It is my desire to be a good example for younger folks. I hope when they see me, they will look beyond the gray hair and see what God sees. If they do, they will see someone young at heart who is willing and able to share and teach.



Growing older is a blessing, despite the physical changes. It’s time for me to stop fighting them. Anyone interested in some barely used wrinkle cream?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Distractions...

Psalm 119:10 "With my whole heart have I sought You...O let me not wander from Your commandments."
I stood at the edge of our field, camera in hand, amazed at the power the elements had in keeping the sun at bay. Braving a cloud of mosquitoes eager to make me their morning meal, I was fully convinced a brilliant red sun would scatter its nemesis at any moment and emerge victorious, and I would have the picture of my dreams.



Indeed! Quite the opposite happened: the sky dulled to a dreary color of blah, the clouds faded, the mosquitoes conquered, and I walked back up to the house, hoping I had captured some worthwhile pictures to show for my numerous (red, and now itching) battle scars.

Within an hour, heavy fog engulfed our area. And as I write this, stormy weather has claimed the day.

Is there a moral to this narrative, other than, well, the proverbial "not all misty skies produce award-winning photographs"?

Indeed! As I processed my photos and looked outside at the fog, which had smugly settled in throughout the landscape, I thought of the many times I had allowed distractions and busyness to blur my spiritual vision and keep me from accomplishing the goals God had set before me...times when my heart was not wholly focused on the Lord and His Will.

Rising up as innocent as a lovely mist, those need-to-accomplish, must-do-now and have-to-get-done-no-matter-whats become denser until they blot out the light of the Son, which should be illuminating our minds, lighting up our hearts, and causing our lives to shine for HIS glory!

And while it’s true that mist and haze produce magnificent illusions of a red sun, if you should notice the "mist" in your days clouding your spiritual vision, take time to clear the fog before the storms set in and you miss your "award-winning photographs"!
 Taken two days later...were it not for the clouds, this would have been picture perfect. :)

In His Love, Always!


Graffiti InspiredMid's PointMid's Pix

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fortune Fish


My fortune fish says I’m wise beyond my years. Well, that certainly makes my night.

Nobody really thinks these fish-shaped plastic strips can discern our true personalities, but they are on our tables at the Cub Scouts’ “Blue and Gold” dinner. The dinner had a Chinese theme, further emphasized by our boys’ garish homemade dragon masks and a menu of chicken, broccoli, egg rolls and fried rice.

This dinner marked the end of my Jake’s Cub Scout years. Jake had gone through five years of den meetings and camping trips. He’d learned knots, nature facts, archery, safety guidelines, healthy habits, U.S. history and first aid – among other things. He’d marched in parades and helped with food drives. He’d gotten over his need to always be first in line, and he’d grown up – and not just in body.

My little boy was becoming a young man.

All that stood between Jake and his future was a large wooden A-framed bridge, made by the boys and their leaders. Each Cub Scout had to climb its wooden steps, walk across its log expanse and then climb down to a “high-five” welcome from his future troop. It looked like a sturdy structure and it would take less than five minutes to cross. But, to my Jake, it would be a very long five minutes.

Jake was afraid of bridges.

Jake is my grandson, and his mother was my oldest daughter. As a baby, he wasn’t afraid of anything. He’d been fearless; boldly approaching strangers and pets. The darkness had held no monsters for Jake, and his sunny smile brightened every encounter. Bugs, snakes, noises and heights were adventures to be savored, and his musical laugh was music to all of our ears.

His laughter was especially sweet when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Jake was too young to understand what was happening to his mama, so he kept laughing and braving challenges that might have scared another two-year old. He brought a smile to her weary face, even when she came home to spend her last days with us.

On her last night, he gave her a long, tender hug and said, “I love you, Mama,” just before she slipped into her final sleep.

After that, Jake’s nightmares began. How could such a small boy understand his loss? All he knew was his mama was forever gone, and he began to be afraid. All of the things that had intrigued him became monsters that terrified him. No matter how much we tried to calm him, he clung to us and remained shy and easily frightened.

Bridges were especially frightening to him. When we crossed a bridge in the car, he squeezed his eyes shut, hugged himself and clenched his fists. He audibly murmured a prayer for courage whenever he crossed a bridge. He knew he wouldn’t be able to shut his eyes on the Cubs’ bridge, and he feared his little prayer might cause derision. He fervently wanted to do this; to safely span the bridge that symbolized his “graduation” to Boy Scouts. I’d told him to look straight ahead as he crossed, and to trust God. He’d said he would, although he knew he’d still be scared. His Den Mother told him he could walk under the bridge; they gave him permission to do that, because of his fears. He’d told us he wanted to try to do it the “regular way.”

As he began to climb the wooden steps, I clenched my own fist over the fortune fish. Where was my beyond-the-years wisdom, now? “Please help him, God,” I silently prayed. I knew the only true wisdom comes from God; it would be enough for Jake, as long as he remembered to turn to Him.

Jake stepped onto the log. I could see the boys in his den cheering him on; they all knew of Jake’s fears. All of them were giving him a “thumbs up.” His eyes grew wild; he started to tremble. I gripped the fish harder. I longed to run up there and carry him over the bridge. Wisdom, I prayed for Jake: true wisdom, to trust God. Wisdom for me; to let him do this on his own.

He drew in a trembling breath, looked straight forward and stepped across the log.

My fist unclenched, and the fortune fish slipped powerlessly to the floor. I smiled up at Jake, as he stepped across that bridge, toward his future.

 "I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears." (Psalm 34:4  KJV)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hell Freezes Over

Yesterday there was a blizzard in Hell.

I think God delights in making the impossible a reality just to see the look on our faces. We have convinced ourselves that we don’t put God in a box, that nothing is too hard for him. Then when he actually pulls off a miracle we wonder why we never saw it coming. In stunned silence we pull our jelly-jaws off the floor and walk around in dazed confusion. We scratch our heads as if we really can’t believe we just saw what we saw. If God belly-laughs, this would probably be the time when he’s in stitches.

Yesterday I saw things I never thought I would ever see again. Today I am still sitting in stunned, dazed appreciation of a God who was crammed into a tiny box labeled Omnipotent only days ago. He blew the lid off that box and the pieces are scattered all around my life like beautiful, tiny confetti.

I have learned that God is a God of restoration, of healing, and forgiveness. While our hearts are mending from the hurt, he is frantically gluing the fragments of our shattered lives back together again piece by piece. He sits hunched over the mess of us, painstakingly reattaching each shard by hand. His new creation looks nothing like the original masterpiece. It’s better.

Take a good look at the wayward child, the cheating husband, the home with the foreclosed sign. Do you see all the potential? Underneath the rubble and uncertainty can you see fulfilled dreams and kept promises? I can. Guess what? God can too.


Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed,
because his compassions fail not. They are new
every morning. Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:23




Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Good Shepherd

I seem to have a proclivity for losing things. More than once I've lost my keys, but one particular time brought me the greatest happiness in recovering them. The clock’s hands, at long last, had arrived at 3:15, and my teaching day was over, but when I reached in my pocketbook for my keys to drive home, they were not there.

Such a sinking feeling I had as I scrambled again through billfold, lipstick, Kleenex, and other assorted items to make sure they were not hidden. After I had checked all around my desk, I went to the office to see if any keys had been turned in. None had.

As I was just beginning to be frantic, I bowed my head and prayed to the One who sees all. A peace came over me, and in my mind’s eye was a counter in the conference room which adjoined my classroom. I walked in there and immediately saw my keys on the counter. I thanked the Lord and felt a special gladness at the realization that He cares about the personal concerns of His followers. It is, indeed, comforting to remember that He is the Good Shepherd.

“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, (John 10:14 / ESV). 

I am blessed to be His own.

On another occasion, I “lost” something much more valuable than my keys. I could not find my daughter. Debra was in the tenth grade and had ridden the school bus to a large shopping mall where I was to pick her up. I went to the entrance at which we had agreed to meet, but she wasn’t there. After waiting and worrying for some minutes, I thought maybe she had gone to a different entrance, and I headed in another direction.

When there was no sign of her there either, I remembered how two women had recently been abducted from the parking lot of this mall and I sprinted with renewed energy to another entrance. Not finding her there, I panicked, and with heaving chest and burning feet, I redirected my steps to a fourth entrance. Oh, the joy I felt when I saw my sweet girl! I fussed at her for forgetting the right place to meet, and then I hugged her tightly and christened her shoulder with my tears.

That’s just a little how God must feel when that which was lost is found. When He had concluded the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus said that there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance (Luke 15:7). He hears our prayers for loved ones who are lost, and He rejoices when they repent.

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, 
not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Friday, July 22, 2011

Amphibious Chorus


Summertime in the heart of the Central Illinois country side is hardly anything but quiet. Come turn off at the corner of South and Tabor and you won't hear  traffic sounds, except for an occasional crop duster buzzing amazingly too close for comfort above our house, but it is noisy!


We have crickets and frogs and birds. Oh my! It sounds like a virtual jungle here, but just wait until evening! That’s when the concert really begins.


Maybe I should sell tickets for the event.  It's actually quite pretty.  I've been known to make long distance calls to friends then hold out the receiver just so they can take in the magnificence of it all.  Really.


"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."


It's very sad when nature does what our mouths were created to do.  We are told:

"Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens. 
Praise him for his acts of power; 
praise him for his surpassing greatness. 
Praise him with the sounding
of the trumpet, 
praise him with the harp and lyre, 
praise him with timbrel and dancing, 
praise him with the strings and pipe, 
praise him with the clash of cymbals, 
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath
praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD."
Psalm 150 (NIV)


We should be noisier than my frog, cricket, and bird chorus that sings in my Tabor yard.  We have much more to be praising God for than these insects and amphibians do.  We have life everlasting.  That cricket has life only until I see him under my foot!  Everything that has breath, let it praise the Lord - that means us - but if we don't do it - others will take our place -- the rocks, the fields, the trees...  Today, I choose -- I CHOOSE to praise the Lord! 


P.S.  If you want to hear my 
insect/amphibious chorus, 
I'll gladly call you anytime:)  No joke!  
It plays every evening.  
Just text me, email me, or leave a 
comment with your 
phone number and I'll let you in on 
the heavenly music!


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Knowledge


Recently I attended a vegetarian conference. Some of my friends know I’m vegetarian, some don’t.
I was at the conference for the health related classes, the food, and the opportunity for lots of walking.



The instructors are very knowledgeable in their fields. Their views on the causes and cures of diseases are not popular, but have been proven correct time and time again. The people whose lives have been saved by this knowledge are numerous.


The same can be said of Christianity.

Just because it’s not popular doesn’t make it wrong.

We have the Truth.

We need to get the Word out there to show people that their lives can be changed. Not only can their lives be saved, but their eternal souls as well.
"For the Lord giveth wisdom: 
out of his mouth cometh
knowledge and understanding.”
Proverbs 2:6



SUNNY

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baths and Boundaries

I can only imagine what the neighbors must’ve thought. It was probably something somewhere in between “I didn’t know the neighbor lady was into full contact wrestling!” and “Where’s the phone number for Child Protective Services?”

It all started very innocently. I had been out walking with my son Andrew, soaking up the last few rays of sunlight on a summer evening. I tried to take him home for a bath, but he wasn’t quite ready to go inside yet. I obliged him with a few more trips around the block, but then I insisted on going home. Tub time! This kid needed a good scrubbing.

Trying to get him through the front door was something like bathing a cat. The commotion is good for a few laughs, but somebody’s going to get scratched.

Andrew, who is fully mobile and strong as an ox, rides in a wheelchair when we are in public. He is autistic and has no sense of danger. If we didn’t keep him safe in the chair, he would dart into traffic or jump into the nearest body of water.

I had parked the wheelchair in front of our porch and was busying myself with unbuckling his safety straps. Before I undid the last buckle, I went to the door to unlock it. The whole scene just went downhill from there.

He tried to wheel away.

I pulled the chair back. I opened the door locks, then undid his seatbelt.

He tried to bolt in the opposite direction.

I caught him and picked him up in a bad imitation of a football hold and took him up to the porch. I deposited him inside the front door, and he promptly escaped back on to the porch.

This little song and dance went on a few more times in a battle of sheer strength—or in my case, lack thereof. Arms were flailing, legs were flailing, sweat was flying! Finally I managed to muscle him into the house, where I locked the door behind him momentarily so I could wrangle the wheelchair up on to the porch.

Once the chair was on the porch, I unlocked the front door, only to have my son rush out while the chair tried to make its own hasty escape.

More wrestling ensued. To make a long story short (too late), Andrew eventually was brought safely into the house and was given the aforementioned bath. That was another wrestling match in and of itself.

As I put him in his pajamas, it dawned on me what God must go through with us. There He is, doing His best to keep us safe and clean, and there we are, trying to bolt into traffic to avoid having a bath!

God gives us boundaries for our own protection. Sometimes we will goof things up royally and make a mess of ourselves. Even then, there He is, waiting to cleanse us from our sins and errors, if only we will ask.

In Jeremiah 33:8, it says, “I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me.” (NIV) Hallelujah, He forgives us and scrubs us clean!



Photobucket



Never Kiss A Toaster

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Going Out

Friday was a fun day for my family: especially the younger members. My husband and I decided to take the kids to Chuck E. Cheese.

So, starting on Tuesday, we told them there would be a surprise for them on Friday. They had a lot of fun guessing throughout the week, and we did answer a few questions they asked (Yes, we are going somewhere. Yes, you have been there before. No, we're not leaving the country.), but not all. Every time they guessed a specific place, we would say "maybe." We even made a few suggestions. (Maybe we're going to the doctor's office. Perhaps it's a trip to the gas station.) And they made several valid guesses, one of which was our actual destination (by Annika, by the way).

Well, by Friday, we had whipped the kids into a frenzy of anticipation. We couldn't leave early enough. And, when we got there, they were not disappointed. And, of course, my beautiful daughter was proud to announce that "I knew we were going to Chuck E. Cheese."

This reminded me of a passage in Hebrews, from the "hall of faith" chapter.
"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Hebrews 11:8 NIV
In a very concrete way, that is exactly what my children did on Friday. They went with us with no idea where they were going. They didn't fight us, or fear that we might be taking them, for instance, to their death. They asked questions, sure, but eventually chose to go along for the ride because they trusted the ones who were leading them. And we did not disappoint.

The Lord is ultimately more trustworthy than my husband and I are, of course. While Andrew and Annika had the right to doubt their parents' sincerity and care (Marc and I are selfish humans, after all), we have no right to do so toward our Father. And He often asks us to "go out," just as Abraham (and my children) did, trusting not the location, but the One directing the journey

God's plan is always best, and it is often part of his grand scheme that we not know the details, for faith and trust are built from "walking blind," so to speak. It is not trust for me to follow someone to a familiar location. When I am led on an unfamiliar path, however, my trust is increased, as is my faith. I know He will lead me to the best, no matter where it is.
One of the most difficult questions to answer in Christian work is, "What do you expect to do?" You don't know what you are going to do. The only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, January 2)
This is truly the key, isn't it? And it is certainly not easy. I am embarrassed to admit how many times I have hesitated, or even avoided, "going out" because I did not know where God wanted me to go, or what He expected me to do. I was afraid of what I might encounter, of the uncomfortable position He might put me in, of having to give up my selfish desires for His perfect ones.

But there is no reason to fear or worry, for it is God we're talking about here. There is no One upon whom it is safer to depend. So "go out" boldly and without fear.
He will never disappoint.

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Monday, July 18, 2011

Channeling

When it comes to channels, the choices seem to be limited only by our imagination --- or by the packaged deals of those who claim ownership of God's air waves. There are radio channels, TV channels, free channels, paid channels, You Tube and even Wii channels. Each one comes with its own power source.


We can change the channels, surf the channels, watch the channels or listen to channels. Some dream of swimming the English Channel. A few have even taken that challenge and dived in.

God's Word tells us that we can BE a channel. Not of some weird form of hoodoo or voices of the dead, but a channel of His blessings. Imagine. As believers in Jesus Christ, we can be direct links of His love and comfort to those around us. This channel comes with the one, true Power Source:





"God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy spirit and with power, and ... 
He went about doing good and curing all who were under the tyranny of the Devil"
(Acts 10:38, Every Day With Jesus Bible).


As author Selwyn Hughes states:
"How much spiritual power is projected from our lives into a lost and dying world? 
 If we are honest, we will be compelled to say, 'Very little.'

" ... All our signs, making great claims for the gospel, are cancelled out if power is not apparent in our everyday lives. The Holy Spirit's power is not confined to delighting the saints with manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit in our church gatherings, but in empowering them for effective witness in the world. We must watch that we do not degenerate into being simply consumers of blessing rather than channels of blessing.

"Recently I have had a stream of letters telling me how God has been leading people to pray for healing from sickness for their non-Christian friends --- and remarkable things have happened as a result. Some would regard it as doctrinally incorrect to pray for a person's healing if that person is not a Christian. Jesus did it, and so did Paul. I feel that the Holy Spirit is nudging me to say that, in the future, one of the ways by which we will see multitudes won to Christ is by allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us in supernatural signs and wonders. God is calling us to launch out into the deep." (Copied from Everyday With Jesus Bible, A One-Year Reading Bible With Devotions by Selwyn Hughes.)


“… Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes
and look on the fields,
that they are white for harvest.”(John 4:35b, NASB)

We can begin each day with a decision to be channels of blessing
rather than consumers of blessing.




Nancy K. Sullivan

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