Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks....




Thankful for the beauty of color.....


Today, Thanksgiving, reminds me of the abundance of blessings in my life that I am grateful for. Family, friends, laughter, beautiful home, health, employment, freedom, the ability to recognize and enjoy the amazing creation of this earth  the Lord has placed me in.


                                                  For the beauty of the earth,
                                                  for the glory of the skies,
                                                  for the love which from our birth,
                                                 over and around us lies.....


Thankful for sweet moment with friends...human and "other"...


Days pass so quickly, and I forget to stop and enjoy the "moment". To simply be still and bask in 
being alive....


                                                  For the beauty of each hour
                                                 of the day and of the night,
                                                 hill and vale, and tree and flower,
                                                  sun and moon, and stars of light.....


Thankful for laughable moments....





I love the things that make me smile,laugh. Those moments, that when times are difficult, I can bring to mind and the hardship seems to melt away....


   For the joy of ear and eye,
 for the heart and mind's delight,
 for the mystic harmony,
  linking sense to sound and sight....



Thankful for the beauty of nature.....

I am always overwhelmed with the incredible extravagance of the earth. Its complexity and beauty never cease to stop me in my tracks as I look up and give thanks to the Lord .


                                                    For the joy of human love,
                                                   brother, sister, parent, child,
                                                   friends on earth and friends above,
                                                   for all gentle thoughts and mild.....



Thankful for delicious abundance of life! 

We all want to "have our cake, and eat it too",   and every once in a while I get that privilege. Those times when all things seem to come together...love, laughter, beauty, family, friends...and food....like today...Thanksgiving. 


                                                              For thyself, best Gift Divine,
                                                              the world so freely given,
                                                              for that great, great love of thine,
                                                              peace on earth, and joy in heaven:

Lord of all, to thee I raise
this my hymn of grateful praise! 


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Handsome, Happy, and Smiling. Biskit.


Biskit makes me smile. Always. Even when he is a bad boy. Now over 12 years together, Biskit and I share a ton of memories. The Lord has  used him plenty of times and in multitudes of  ways to teach me life lessons. Obedience, self-control, unconditional love, discipline for misbehaving. the joy of fun and exercise, restful nap times, enduring hard things without whining. Like Facebook, he provides me with social connections...the neighborhood knows me as "Biskit's mom". Most importantly he brings laughter and smiles into my life. Just look at him....can you NOT grin ????





Friday, October 12, 2012

Off-Guard - Lazy, Numb, Blind. Easy Targets


Often, as believers in Jesus, we find ourselves anesthetized,  numb to the facts of life and death, truth and error, God and Satan, heaven and hell. There are multitudes of  other things that crowd into our life and the big issues are set aside, forgotten. It may be our work,-caught up in long hours, projects, reports, administration, personal issues.Or it may be leisure,- including legitimate hobbies, enjoying the peace and beauty of vacations, sports,  retirement, travel, fun with friends. Or it could be boredom, -not knowing what to do, wasting time watching TV playing video/ computer games, talking on the phone, shopping, sleeping. Or the daily grind of life-cleaning house, yard work, caring for children, bill paying, chores, appointments...on and on.  Yet all of these things- good, bad, necessary or not can conspire to lull us into a false sense of security. We forget the Lord who holds all things together by His power. We ignore our relationship with the maker of the universe who has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, and everything pertaining to life and godliness by the TRUE KNOWLEDGE of Him, 
Beware. We Christians live in enemy territory surrounded by evil powers and forces that are against us. Wanting and waiting for  us to stumble. We are to be "On  Guard" against false words from false teachers! 
2 Peter 2 digs into this issue. False teaches from within the church will introduce destructive heresies. These are opinions inconsistent with the revealed truth of God's Word. Often these teachings have truth mixed with lies...maybe not blatant, but  enough to make us doubt. Truth + lies= FALSEHOOD. Always.  Just as the serpent in the garden deceived Eve suggesting, "Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Gen. 3:1  These false teachers are deliberate, setting out to capture those      "Off Guard" individuals. They have a hidden agenda at work and  falsehood and lies are  introduced secretly, deceptively, rather than openly or properly. They are like spiders weaving a cunning and beautiful web out of silk; lovely to look at, but  deadly for the unsuspecting victim entangled in its grip.
The effect of false teachers within the  church can be devastating. Their inspirer Satan, the devil, ‘prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8). When we do not have the true knowledge of God as our weapon, we, like sheep, can be led astray easily. New interesting books, films, sermons, that get rave reviews, have huge followings yet contradict  Biblical teaching may "capture" our attention causing us to doubt the foundations of our faith, and perhaps for some never truly be born again. Tragic. Sometimes we get bogged down in irrelevancies. Therefore,we must know and take the Lord and His Holy Word seriously, because listening to the opinions of men, however clever and persuasive, means that we will listen less to Him  speaking to us. All Scripture is God-breathed, useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that believers  may be thoroughly equipped for every good work- living for Him. 
God's judgment is certain and complete. He is victorious and those who deny Him, teach false doctrine, follow after idols, and lead others astray will be cast into eternal darkness eventually. Our distractions, the wide road, the sandy foundation, secret sin, our depravity apart from God may give us momentary pleasure- but those things make us easy target practice for Satan. Critical injury for some, certain death for others.. 


Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Divine Nature, Kingdom Character


God's Word continues to amaze, convict, teach, and grow me. Who am I in Christ, what should my life look like as a citizen of His Kingdom, how am I to live?  After studying the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter 5,  I  find myself  reviewing   the  discussion Jesus had concerning  Kingdom dwellers' characteristics with the apostles and nearby listeners:
3." Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5  “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
6  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7  “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
10  “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. 

WOW. 
 Seems impossible and so different from my culture, its values and ways of thinking. So many today seem to be "full of themselves", offering their opinions with harsh, sarcastic words, living lives full of greed and condemnation. Now, I am studying 2 Peter, and in the first chapter Peter tell us that believers in Christ have precious and magnificent promises that grant us to become partakers of His DIVINE NATURE !  More Kingdom qualities. 

5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 
9  The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with youFor he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

WOW again. 
So many believers remark they don't know the will of God, don't know how the Lord expects them to live....well, just these few  verses supply  plenty of guidelines to keep me busy for a lifetime. We have no legitimate excuse.

Paul, in Philippians 4 adds;
8 "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.


Each one of these characteristics needs to be defined, studied, pondered over and over. When the Lord tells me He will transform me through the power of the Holy Spirit that He has given me....I realize without His power there is NO way of truly changing myself. These qualities are huge, and deep, and change comes slowly. 
 BUT, the journey is exciting though difficult and often painful. The reward, the mind of Christ, eternal life, INCOMPREHENSIBLE! 

















Monday, September 3, 2012

In His Image....



As I study and  ponder the purposes God has for man, God’s character, mans’ nature, I continue to be amazed and thankful to the Lord who created all things. Me.

Gruden writes:   Our Great Dignity as Bearers of God’s Image.

“It would be good for us to reflect on our likeness to God more often. It will probably amaze us to realize that when the Creator of the universe wanted to create something “in his image,” something more like Himself than all the rest of creation, He made us. This realization will give us a profound sense of dignity and significance as we reflect on the excellence of all the rest of God’s creation: the starry universe, the abundant earth, the world of plants and animals, and the angelic kingdoms are remarkable, even magnificent. But we are more like our Creator than any of these things. We are the culmination of God’s infinitely wise and skillful work of creation. Even though sin has greatly marred that likeness, we nonetheless now reflect much of it and shall even more as we grow in likeness to Christ.

Yet we must remember that even fallen, sinful man has the status of being in God’s image.  Every single human being, no matter how much the image of God is marred by sin, or illness, or weakness, or age, or any other disability, still has the status of being in God’s image and therefore must be treated with the dignity and respect that is due to God’s image-bearer. This has profound implications for our conduct toward others. It means that people of every race deserve equal dignity and rights. It means that elderly people, those seriously ill, the mentally retarded, and children yet unborn, deserve full protection and honor as human beings. If we ever deny our unique status in creation as God’s only image-bearers, we will soon begin to depreciate the value of human life, will tend to see humans as merely a higher form of animal, and will begin to treat others as such. We will also lose much of our sense of meaning in life.”


How far we have fallen in this great America that was  founded on so many Biblical precepts that were  believed and lived out by Godly men and women.  Now we have the darkness of Islam and other cults as a cloud over our country, rejection of God and atheism finding root in our thinking, becoming a nation of people who call evil, good and revel in our deceptions. We are in more danger from our  homegrown “terrorists” than outside “Taliban”. Shootings in elementary schools, neighborhood theaters  college campuses, medical clinics, neighborhood parks,  and churches. No sacred ground. Why we ask?  Because our mind-set as a nation (full of individuals)  is set on Self Glorification, Selfish Ambition,and Vain Conceit, rather than glorifying the Lord who holds all things together by the power of His Word. The Lord  reminds us of times past stating:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Hosea 4:6

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight! Isaiah 5:21


How we need to gaze  into a new mirror cleaned off with God’s Truth, view ourselves as we  truly are, and cry out for the transforming and saving power of God. We must bend our knee in surrender to Him who can make all things new.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pragmatism- "Danger Ahead"

Pragmatism- Thoughts from John MacArthur
Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. To a pragmatist if a technique or course of action has the desired effect, it is good. If it doesn’t seem to work, it must be wrong.Pragmatism has roots in Darwinism and secular humanism and is  inherently relativistic, rejecting the notion of absolute right and wrong. It ultimately defines truth as that which is useful, meaningful, and helpful. Ideas that don’t seem workable or relevant are rejected as false. What’s wrong with pragmatism? After all, common sense involves a measure of legitimate pragmatism, doesn't it? If a dripping faucet works fine after you replace the washers, for example, it is reasonable to assume that bad washers were the problem. If the medicine your doctor prescribes produces harmful side effects or has no effect at all, you need to ask if there’s a remedy that works. Such simple pragmatic realities are generally self-evident.
   But when pragmatism is used to make judgments about right and wrong, or when it becomes a guiding philosophy of life, theology, and ministry, inevitably it clashes with Scripture. Spiritual and biblical truth is not determined by testing what “works” and what doesn't. We know from Scripture, for example, that the gospel often does not produce a positive response (1 Cor. 1:22, 23; 2:14). On the other hand, satanic lies and deception can be quite effective (Matt. 24:23, 24; 2 Cor. 4:3, 4). Majority reaction is no test of validity (cf Matt. 7:13, 14), and prosperity is no measure of truthfulness (cf Job 12:6). Pragmatism as a guiding philosophy of ministry is inherently flawed. Pragmatism as a test of truth is nothing short of satanic.
   Perhaps the most visible signs of pragmatism are seen in the convulsive changes that have revolutionized the church worship service. Sunday services are now designed purposely to be more rollicking than reverent and theology  takes a back seat to methodology. Plainly declaring the truth of God’s Word is regarded as unsophisticated, offensive, and utterly ineffective. We’re now told we can get better results by first amusing people or giving them success tips and pop-psychology, thus wooing them into the fold.
    Living in an unstable age, the church cannot afford to be vacillating. Just doing things that "work". We minister to people desperate for answers, and we cannot soft-pedal the truth or extenuate the gospel. If we make friends with the world, we set ourselves at enmity with God. If we trust worldly devices, we automatically relinquish the power of the Holy Spirit.
   These truths are repeatedly affirmed in Scripture: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (Jas. 4:4). “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

    Doth that man love his Lord who would be willing to see Jesus wearing a crown of thorns, while for himself he craves a chaplet of laurel? Shall Jesus ascend to his throne by the cross, and do we expect to be carried there on the shoulders of applauding crowds? Be not so vain in your imagination. Count you the cost, and if you are not willing to bear Christ’s cross, go away to your farm and to your merchandise, and make the most of them; only let me whisper this in your ear, “What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”
CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON




Thursday, August 9, 2012

Matthew presents- "King Jesus"

Kidron Valley, Israel
After completing an incredible eight month journey through the Gospel of Matthew, I have worked on a summary that I hope continues to impact my relationship with Jesus. This whole book is wrapped around the concept and reality of Jesus as King. From beginning to end He is confronted with people who embrace Him as "King"  as well as those adversaries who reject Him wanting Him dead. It is tragic that this second group is composed primarily of the religious leaders; those that knew God's Word, His prophecies, His promises.

 Matthew presents -“King Jesus
1. Jesus comes as King   
2. Teaches of His Kingdom and Kingdom Character  
3. Demonstrates His Divine Kingly Power and Authority
3. Chooses teachers to carry on Kingdom work
4.  Deals with adversaries to His Kingdom
5. Sheds His innocent blood to pay the penalty for the sins of His Kingdom dwellers.
6. Conquers death thru His resurrection
7. Promises to come a second time to reign as Divine Eternal King over His Kingdom populated with His children who have endured to the end, believers in Christ.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Prayer on this Independence Day

The Valley of Vision 
Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
  hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
  that the way down is the way up,
  that to be low is to be high,
  that the broken heart is the healed heart,
  that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
  that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
  that to have nothing is to possess all,
  that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
  that to give is to receive,
  that the valley is the place of vision,

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
  and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
  thy life in my death,
  thy joy in my sorrow,
  thy grace in my sin,
  thy riches in my poverty
  thy glory in my valley.

(from Valley of Vision -prayer of the puritans)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter.



       The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; He  has risen, just as He said. Matthew 28:5-6

   As I come to this Easter morning, preparing to travel, I am unfocused and hurried to get "things" taken care of before leaving. I have not allowed my heart to ponder this special day celebrating the Resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus who died for me and my filthy sin, who knew me before the foundations of the earth and prepared a way for me, drawing my heart to Him. Jesus who loved me while I was yet His enemy. Jesus who overcame death to give me life.....eternally with Him. Whether I focus on Him today or not, I am His child and He will never forsake me -promising me and inheritance that is undefiled and reserved for me in heaven.
  How I need to know Him and treasure Him with all my heart and mind and soul. He is the beginning and the end. He is my Savior.
   He has Risen!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Kingdom Character



  







God's ways are such a paradox from mans thinking, from my thinking. Upside down so to speak. As I study the Beatitudes, I have a greater appreciation for the fact that God's ways are not mine. Only when I am empty of myself can I be full of Him. When I am full of Him, I see how depraved and sinful I am in comparison and I mourn. My mourning causes me to turn to Him for His gentle guidance. His meekness, power under control, compared to my selfish ambition. As He guides me in His paths of righteousness, I have a new hunger and thirst for more of Him. An addiction that is good. As I feast at His divine table of Truth...He slowly but surely transforms my heart to into one that shows mercy, is purified, extends peace and rejoices in being persecuted for Him. He is the salt and light of my life, and requires that I become His beacon in my world.  How I desire to have my mind renewed .....
                 

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 
   How unsearchable his judgments, 
   and his paths beyond tracing out! 
 “Who has known the mind of the Lord? 
   Or who has been his counselor?”
 “Who has ever given to God, 
   that God should repay them?”
 For from him and through him and for him are all things. 
   To him be the glory forever! Amen.  Rom 11:33-36

Friday, February 24, 2012

In the Beginning....


I love God's creation...from the heavens to the earth. To think He spoke the universe into existence, His own "big bang", and within the first five days the earth's seas were teeming with fish and the sky full of birds! Man hadn't yet made the scene and there was alot going on without him. Perfectly I might add. So much color, complexity, and organization on the micro and macro level. God is the master architect ...and I get to be a part of His plan every day. Hallelujah !   Loving photography and music my slide show celebrates His creation, a dim replica of the "real" thing...but enjoyable.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beauty of Nature

Beautiful places......

Friday, February 17, 2012

Gone Astray



I was straying when Christ found me
In the night so dark and cold;
Tenderly His arm went around me,
And He bore me to His fold.
With His nail-scarred hand He bro't me
To the shelter of His love;
Of His grace and will He taught me,
And of heav'nly rest above
Tho' the night be dark around me
I am safe, for He is near;
Never shall my foes confound me,
While the Savior's voice I hear
(Hymn-Hiding Place)


In the middle of last night I let Biskit and Cookie out front to potty as I do every night. It is a routine. Every night.  I usually go sit down and try not to wake up too much while they do “their thing”. They ALWAYS come back in when they are done and together we stumble back to bed.
So trustworthy, such good and obedient dogs.
  Last night after a lengthy time they had not come back inside.  I scanned the yard from my front window to see if they were dawdling around as they sometimes do, taking their good old time sniffing and peeing. No doggies in sight. I waited a bit longer and still nothing. Muttering under my breath in frustration, (Mike was asleep), I put on my clothes, wrapped a blanket around me to keep warm and went outside to round them up. Gone. No dogs in sight. I was afraid, worried and angry at the same time. Being in the dead of night, I couldn’t call for them, so I began walking down the street. Fuming. In the distance some five or six houses away I saw two white creatures milling about obviously oblivious that they have wandered far from the allowable boundaries of their home.  I can't believe it. They had NEVER strayed like this. Ever. I quickly approached them. Startled, they saw me coming and began running back, knowing they are BUSTED. We arrived home, me not saying a word until we entered the house. “Bad dogs”, I yell.  They ran to the kitchen for a treat- I was flabbergasted. No more going out front without supervision. No longer trustworthy! I gave them a sermon on how I  provide for them, keep them safe, take them on special walks to the park, feed them wholesome food, keep them healthy, play with them, love them daily. How could they blow me off for some new night smells. I can't believe it!! They have had a taste of disobedient freedom and it has gone to their brains. I feared they will try it again…they have partaken of the forbidden fruit.  I was furious.
  Then, as I lay in my bed steaming, wide awake from the midnight excursion, the Lord brought  to mind images of MY straying everyday. Getting sidetracked with the "smells" of  my hobbies, phone calls, TV, books, little “life deserts”. Even asking for a special blessing.  Oblivious. He finds me straying just a house away , sometimes the other side of town or another time zone!   Dawdling in other people's yards…just enjoying myself with my freedom of choice. I am not doing anything bad, but I am not focused on my Lord and what He has for me that is always SO much better than what I choose for myself. Believe it or not. Oh how He loves me, protects me, provides for me, cares for me, desires the best for me, is gracious to me. He died for me that I may partake of  His love, His Kingdom living, right here, right now.
  Why do I stray? What night smells distract me that I end up in a foreign land…far from the true source of the goodness and love Jesus lavishes on me? What makes disobedience (SIN) feel so good, so normal?  Why? Why?

   Before falling asleep, I thanked Him for using my life stuff, including my precious doggies, to remind me of my tendency, like a sheep, to go astray. 

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wand’ring from the fold of God;
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee;
Never let me wander from Thee,
Never leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
(Hymn-Fount of Blessing) 


Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Cross

The Cross. Where I must come to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus who sets me free from death, the penalty for my sin. I find my inheritance and identity in Him. Such an amazing fact, yet so difficult to grasp. So contrary to my earthly thinking. The Gospel...that God in His loving kindness took hold of me for His own before the foundations of the world. The Cross, where sin meets love, where love covers a multitude of sin, where I die to self that I may be born again. A new creation reconciled to God. The Cross. 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Worship

The beauty of nature never fails to inspire me to worship the Lord. His handiwork is found in the details of everything I observe, touch, taste, hear and feel. Amazing. I gaze at landscapes and feel peace seep into the cracks of my being, take root there, and grow silently. My busy mind becomes quiet as my senses feast on His creation. I feel His holiness surround me, His Spirit move within me and I bow down and give thanks.













Friday, February 3, 2012

My desire..

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Unborn Child.



A story that reveals the TRUTH about the unborn CHILD

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said:
'Doctor, I have a serious problem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together.'

So the doctor said: 'Ok and what do you want me to do?'

She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.'

The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.'

She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request.

Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care of 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms.'

The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child!'

'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.'

The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point.
He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb.