Tick, Tick, Tick

I decided the drawers in my desk needed sorting out; things to keep, things to throw away, things to put somewhere else.  As I was taking items out I saw a familiar plastic bag with three special things inside.  There was my Dad’s billfold, a set of Scripture memory cards he always had in his shirt pocket, and his wristwatch.  He had these items on his person the morning he left earth for heaven.  My mother had taken them and put them away for safe keeping; a keepsake memory.  Upon her move to live with me here in the UK, this plastic bag came, too, ending up in my desk drawer.

I took the things from the bag to look at them.  There were a few photos of his grandchildren in the billfold.  The Scripture memory cards were worn from much use.  His wristwatch?  What a surprise!  The second hand was still ticking by and I saw the minute hand move.  Nearly eight years later and the watch is still working.  I could hardly believe it.  I held the watch, my eyes steady on the second hand — tick, tick, tick, still going.

Time is eternal.  My father’s earthly life came to an end, but spiritually, he lives on and on and will continue living for eternity. The clock of eternity will never stop.  The question for each person is:  where will each one spend eternity where time never ends? It’s a choice for each one of us to make.  God will honor the choice.  Once we exhale our last breath on earth, there is no changing of minds as to where eternity will be spent.  Look at what Jesus said to His listeners in John 6:50-51: “This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the Living Bread that came down from heaven.  If anyone eats this bread, he will live forever.”  The prospect of not living with Him is dismal: darkness and torment — for eternity.

We all choose.  I hope each one reading will choose light and peace.  Jesus also said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man comes to the Father except through me.”

The seconds are ticking.  Just ask Him in.  He will come.  He will forgive.  He will make new.  It will be for eternity.

Choosing Frogs

I was reading this week the story of Moses seeking to free the children of Israel from the Pharaoh.  The Pharaoh refused. It’s recorded in the Old Testament of the Bible.  Many of you will recall what happens next.  Ten plagues are sent upon Egypt, meant to convince the Pharaoh that resisting God and His plan is futile.  The only purpose of these plagues was to free the Jewish nation.  The plagues were severe.  There were plagues of  blood, frogs, gnats, disease in livestock, festering boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and death.

I read about the first plague of blood.  The River Nile was changed to blood.  Water that had been stored in pots and bowls all turned to blood.  There was no water to drink.  Still the Pharaoh refused to let the Jewish people go.  The second plague was frogs.  They were everywhere.  They filled the river, the streets, were in the houses, crawling in the beds, found in the kitchen and in all the food bowls, and crawled inside clothing.  How awful must that have been!

Blood in the water was awful, but to deal with moving frogs, jumping and crawling everywhere must have been a fearful thing.  People had to have been running and screaming, trying to get away.  I know I would have been running as fast as I could.  It was this frog incident that made my mouth drop when I read the short conversation Pharaoh had with Moses concerning this plague. No doubt, Pharaoh’s household and servants, as well as the nation, must have been begging and shouting for something to be done.  That’s not surprising.  What I found incredulous was the response of Pharaoh.  He calls for Moses and requests that Moses please ask God to stop the frogs.  Moses asks Pharaoh when he would like this to be done.  I thought that question would have an obvious answer, until I read Pharaoh’s response.  I’ve read this account in my life many times, but I never noticed Pharaoh’s answer until this week.  Moses asks when shall he talk to God about getting rid of the frogs.  Pharaoh answers — “tomorrow.”  Tomorrow?  What in the world?

I sat there staring at the response in Exodus 8:10.  “‘Do it tomorrow,’ Pharaoh says.”  Really?  I can’t fathom why Pharaoh decided to wait.  He knew God alone had the power to remove the frogs.  Pharaoh and all his household and country wanted to be rid of the frogs.  They were causing havoc and panic.  Why wait until tomorrow when it can be done today?

As I contemplated, a sobering truth crept over me.  I actually felt a slight shiver crawl over my skin.  You and I do this too often in our walks with God.  There we are, basking in God’s love, enjoying His blessings in our lives, living with His guidance and wisdom and strength, but one day, we open the door of our mind or heart to something not right in God’s eyes.  We let frogs in.  It’s just a few at first, but they multiply. Unconfessed sin will manifest itself in growing depression, fear, anger, and diminished joy.  It is overall most unpleasant.  We are then reminded, in our inner spirit where the Holy Spirit resides, of an important truth of God found in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  We know this to be true. We know that with confession comes joy and peace, but incredibly, like Pharaoh, we often say to God — “Tomorrow, I’ll confess tomorrow.”

Wow!  Why do we choose to jump around in fear from infiltrating frogs of unrighteousness, to lay and sit in frog excrement which will surely be there, instead of simply and joyfully coming to God, confessing what we have done, truly repenting with that desire to do it no more, and receiving joy unspeakable?  Why do we delay?

Our carnal and spiritual natures war with each other.  One brings frogs of despair while the other brings cleanliness of heart and mind.  Either is ours for the asking or enduring.  Endure frogs or ask forgiveness.  We are free to make our choice.  I hope we all choose to get rid of the frogs — today.  Don’t wait until tomorrow.

An Enemy Within

Coughing, sneezing, sniffing, snorting.  It’s a seemingly endless onslaught upon the senses. Syrups, tablets, and vitamin C are the losing defence.  Sleepless nights, waking moments a struggle.  Physical strength drained, inner resolve gone.  It is the attack of — the common cold.  Logically we know it will end; emotionally we plan our demise.  What hymns shall we choose for the funeral?

Such has been my state of body and mind this week, that I awoke this morning with the initial realisation — it’s Saturday!  Oh no, I totally forgot my Friday blog, but how can one remember such a thing when that one is too busy dying?

I lay there but for a moment before reaching for a ready tissue.  My blog.  What shall I write about today, the question lay like lead in my brain.  Another sniff and unsightly blowing of the nose and the thought came, in heaven there will be no sniffing, coughing, and snorting.  I actually smiled.  I could truly feel, in the midst of my misery, the corners of my mouth stretch into that upward position of joy.  Then came the following passage from Revelation 21:1-4, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared.  And the sea was also gone.  And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.  I heard a loud shout  from the throne, saying, ‘Look! God’s home is now among His people! God Himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.  All these things are gone forever.'”

After that moment of reminiscing about what heaven will be like, I grabbed my Bible from the beside table and opened to the next chapter in Revelation and read the following from 22:1-5, “Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.  It flowed down the center of the Main Street.  On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month.  The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.  No longer will there be a curse upon anything.  For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and His servants will  worship Him.  And they will see His face, and His name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there — no need for lamps or sun — for the Lord God will shine on them.  And they will reign forever and ever.”

What a magnificent promise we have to all who personally know Jesus.  It’s a dream that will come true.

Until then, we fight with colds and other lurgies, with a suffering physical world damaged in its ecology, with a troubled humanity looking for peace and joy in all the wrong places. Until then we wake up each morning and say, “Here I am, Lord.  Help, me,” and He always does that very thing.  He provides His inner peace for the larger calamities of life and also cares and comforts us in the aggravating things — like the common cold.

The Bird That Landed On My Head

It had rained in the night.  Our dog, Jack, and I were taking our first walk of the day.  It was still dark; a time of day appreciated for its quietness, our footsteps led by the pale light of nearby lampposts.  Thoughts of the usual anticipated cup of coffee swirled among my many thoughts.

I zipped up my jacket to cover my neck as a gust of wind blew around me.  It was then I felt it.  Unbelievable!  I kid you not!  A bird had landed on my head!  I froze for a second. The bird did not move from its perch.  Was it a seagull or a magpie?  It felt a good size.  Slowly I lifted my hand to the top of my head.  Nothing!  What?  I hadn’t felt it take off.  It was then, with a giggle, I realised my error in thinking.  It was not a bird but the hood of my jacket which the wind had sent flying to the top of my head and then let it fall back again to hang down my back.  I had been so sure, so absolutely certain that a bird had landed on my head.

As I laughed at myself on our return home, thoughts came as to how we all do the same thing in our spiritual worlds.  For example, have you ever gone through a difficult time and wondered where was God?  Why wasn’t He helping you?  At such a hard moment in life had He abandoned you?  The Enemy, Satan, whispers plausible lies.  God has bigger things to care about. You’re not that important to Him after all, etc.   The lies take root and you find yourself believing it.

You know it to be true because — you felt it — alone, uncared for, forgotten.  It all feels so real it has to be true.  You know what you feel; just like me with the bird on my head. I just knew it was a bird.  I felt it.  However, no matter what I believed in the moment, it was’t true at all.

Never forget that what you feel and what it true can so often be completely opposite things.  You may feel alone but what is the fact?  The fact is always the truth of God’s Word which is without fault and never changes. God’s Word tells us in Hebrews 13:5b, “I will never fail you.  I will never abandon you.”  That is but one example.  There are many.

The next time you feel certain that what you are feeling is absolutely true, take a look into God’s mirror of truth.  If your feelings are contrary to God’s Word, then choose to concentrate on truth rather than an imaginary bird you think landed on your head.

 

Another Day, Another Year

Generally I awake early.  It’s still dark outside.  It’s quiet.  The only sound bursting on the scene is the bubbling of the kettle boiling.  The coffee is made.  I sip and breathe in the comforting aroma.  It’s a peaceful start to my day; one I look forward to every morning.

Soon the whole town will be awake.  The quiet will be shattered.  Sounds of cars will grind and rev up engines in the rush to work.  People will hustle about.  Schedules will be met or delayed. Time will be something watched and waited for until the rush back home can be made.  The town will sleep and then do it all again tomorrow.

That’s the physical world where plans are made. There are hopes for success.  There will be triumphs and there will be failures.  Such is life.  Every new year brings the same, but it needn’t be mundane.  We do not know our future but we know who holds tomorrow.  When we invite the spiritual to invade our physical, that is where the greatest hope abounds.  As Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  Our own wisdom is limited.  God’s wisdom is without end.  It is without error.  It is pure and holy.  It is the essence of goodness and greatness.

The Lord has given us a mind with the ability to reason, but let us not reason in our own wisdom alone.  It is imperfect.  Let us always come together and reason with the Holy One who always has our best interests in His heart.

May your New Year be filled with the awesome wisdom of the Lord.

Just In Time

Being the Christmas time of year, my thoughts often drift back to yesteryears of my childhood.  I can remember our family decorating our tree.  I loved carefully placing each strand of tinsel; no tossing it on in wild clumps for me.  I reached as high as I could, and then either my mother or father would place them for me, just as carefully as I liked, on the higher branches.

One year my sister and I got out pieces of construction paper, glitter, glue, and crayons.  I could cut my pieces but my sister, much younger than me, needed help using her scissors.  Mom and Dad were there to rescue the project, helping to cut and glue where needed.  We could handle the sprinkling of glitter but I know it left a sparkling mess all over the table and onto the floor.  That was never a problem.  My sister and I cleaned it up the best we could, but Mom came along afterwards and miraculously got up every last dot of glitter which was strewn all over the place.

Of course, there was always the wonder and excitement of preparing Santa’s snack.  We baked cookies, poured milk, and left them on a saucer beneath the tree.  I always felt my sister and I had done everything, but of course, the measuring of the ingredients and setting the oven, was a task for my mother.  Both parents helped us throw lettuce on the lawn for the reindeer.  I felt we should put some on the roof, but I couldn’t throw that high.  Dad came to the rescue.  I remember thinking he must be able to do anything, after watching him effortlessly toss lettuce onto the roof.  How exciting the next morning to see crumbs left on Santa’s plate and only bits of lettuce remained on the lawn.

What a wonderful help when our parents interceded for us; a go-between us and the task at hand.  They always stepped in to help —  just in time.  That’s what Jesus does for us, too.  Just in time, He intercedes.  Just in time, He gives His strength when we are weak.  Just in time, He places his wisdom and guidance into our questioning minds.  Just in time, He breathes in His peace to ease away tensions and stress.

Notice Hebrews 4:16, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God.  There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us — when we need it most.”  In other words, He will always help us — just in time.

How wonderful Jesus came to be born on earth for us, to offer us the best gift ever — just in time.

Merry Christmas everyone.

 

 

Making Choices

Choices — we all have a right to make choices.  God Himself has given each of us that right.  He did not make us robots.  He never forces us to do anything.  He gladly shows us the right way; the perfect way that if followed, promises us peace and joy.  It’s our choice.  We can choose to walk away from Him.  He warns us of the dismay and heartache that comes to all who walk the dark path.  He doesn’t want us to know the chaos found along the road that turns away from His holiness, but it’s our choice to make.  He will not hold us back.

I was reading this week in the Old Testament about Joshua.  He did his best, before God, to warn and encourage the people of Israel, God’s very own people, who had chosen to walk away from Him, to turn back.  Wonderfully, in that moment, they chose to turn their faces once again to the ways of God.  They made the decision to walk on His path.  We read in Joshua 24:21-24, “The people answered Joshua, ‘we will serve the Lord.’ ‘You are witness to your own decision,’ Joshua said. ‘You have chosen to serve the Lord.’  ‘Yes,’ they replied, ‘we are witnesses to what we have said.’  ‘All right then,’ said Joshua, ‘destroy the idols among you, and turn your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.’  The people said to Joshua, ‘we will serve the Lord our God.  We will serve Him alone.’”

When we think of idols, we conjure pictures in our minds of graven images, but idols are anything that takes the place of God in our lives.  It can be something material, a person, or an attitude.  Whatever sits upon the throne of your life is your idol.  Whatever rules your thoughts is your idol.  Whatever dictates your actions is your idol.

Max Lucado describes it wonderfully in this excerpt from his book, When God Whispers Your Name.  

“I am a spiritual being…After this body is dead, my spirit will soar.  I refuse to let what will rot, rule the eternal.  I choose self control.  I will be drunk only by joy.  I will be impassioned only by my faith.  I will be influenced only by God.  I will be taught only by Christ.  I choose self control.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control — to these I commit my day.  If I succeed, I will give thanks.  If I fail, I will seek grace.  And then, when this day is done, I will place my head on my pillow and rest.”

Choices — we all have a right to make choices.

When Shadows Come

It was sunny all day which made a long ride on the Interstate enjoyable.  The views were beautiful as the landscape changed from flat lands and swamps, to mountains and rivers.  From morning to evening we observed the works of nature giving hints of location and changing seasons.

Noon held the sun at its highest point but the afternoon hours sent the sun’s warmest rays.  Then, almost without noticing, long shadows from tall trees lining the highways, stretched long, dark shards of darkness across the roads.  Like icy fingers, the shadows choked out warmth and sent shivers across my skin.

For no apparent reason, an uneasiness crept over me.  It was momentary but I didn’t like it.  Questions I didn’t want in my mind sprang forward; questions like, are we going the right way?  Is the traffic getting too much to handle?  The GPS was operating.  Nothing had gone wrong all day.  There was no logical reason to suddenly doubt our direction.  Traffic had been thick along every turn but nothing had gone amiss there either.  I concluded that all was well in spite of dark shadows smothering out the sun’s warmth and trucks filling the lanes as far as one could see.  Our journey took us to our intended destination and all is well.  I drove through the shadows, enjoying the touches of sun that still peeked through branches before evening would send it away for the night.

Thoughts came to me that dark shadows and warm sunlight are pictures of what happens in our spiritual world.  There we are basking in the light of God’s love, truth, peace, and joy.  Then, with no warning, dark shadows of doubt casts depressing thoughts into our minds.  Troubling questions may tumble about, upsetting peace and fading away joy.  Lies that we are not really loved, that we are not as good as others around us, that our dreams are too far to reach, shatters happiness.  Hope is choked away.

It can happen ever so quickly, because in an instant, the lies of the enemy Satan can be shot from darkness, casting ugly shadows across what we know to be truth, sending us into a swirl of confusion.  The warmth of peace fades.

Satan works hard to steal our peace.  He is a thief.  He lies to us.  He is the father of lies.  He will always lie.  He will forever seek to cast shadows of fear.  This behaviour of his will never change, but there is good news.  Something else will never change either: the truth of The Son will always shine its light, dissipating the dark shadows of Satan’s lies.

When shadows appear, look for the Light.  Call for the Light.  Walk in the Light.  When Light comes, darkness must flee.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not unto your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

 

 

The Imprint of God

For several days a beautiful bird has paid us a lengthy visit.  Each morning when we awake, stands the grey crane with feathers tinged in the faintest of pink and white. He is motionless for minutes that can become an hour.  Ever so slightly comes a turn of the head, sharp eyes peering into the water waiting for breakfast to appear in the form of a small fish.  

Isn’t it amazing the imprint of God upon and within His creation?  Human hearts are born with a spiritual void that cannot be satisfied with anything in our physical world, but only by the supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit.  Nature sings praise to its creator from every whisper of wind to the force of gales bursting forth in mighty crescendo.  The presence of God  and His wondrous works is all around us.

The crane stretches its neck higher and higher while alert eyes spy its prey.  A graceful lifting of wing, a swift plunge, and reward is evident as the crane gives proof of its catch gliding down its slender neck.  He stood at attention, never wavering from its goal:

“But those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength; They will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not be weary.  They will walk and not faint.”  Isaiah 40:31

Gradually the sky covered over with white cloud, then grey, while rain came, softly at first, then gaining momentum, pounding earth and water.  The crane did not lift its face.  He was steadfast, not wavering.  Wind began to blow with sudden force.  The crane spread its spindly legs and held fast its stance.  Feathers ruffled but still he did not change focus from its goal.

“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  Psalm 46:10

The imprint of God is evident for all to see; only look with seeing eyes, believing eyes, trusting eyes.  Call and He will come. Stand tall in any of life’s storms, for His own strength will be yours.  Do not yield to fears of the physical world but focus on your goal. Patience will yield spiritual faith that cannot be toppled, like the crane standing firm in the storm.

From A Child’s Perspective

This week a friend sent the following to me.  The author is unknown.  I thought its simplicity –  simply profound.  I share it with you now:

A young girl turned to her mother after church and said, “Mom, the pastor’s sermon was confusing today.” 

“Why is that, honey?” the mother asked.

“Well,” the girl answered, “he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?”

“Yes, that’s true,” the mother replied.

The girl continued with, “The pastor also said that God lives in us.  Is that true, too?”  

Once more the mother replied, “Yes that’s true, too.”

“Well,” pondered the girl, “If God is bigger than us and lives in us, wouldn’t He show through?”

“My old self has been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

A wonderful truth to ponder.