Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Ordinary People, Extraordinary God

     Hello, Songbirds! I hope you enjoyed reading my husband's (a.k.a...Captain Awesome's) post this week! He may "chime" in on occasion to share what's on his mind and heart. It will be a sure treat for all of us!
     Today I would like to share this thought with you:  What if living an ordinary life is exactly what God has intended for you? This question keeps going over in my mind since it was posed by my pastor recently one Sunday morning. He was speaking in regard to Mary, the mother of Jesus, in preparation for Christmas day. When I heard it, I thought...why didn't I think of that before now?
     I have heard countless times that God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things, and I think I've always thought that's great and all, but it leaves something was because of my perspective on being ordinary. I want to be extraordinary. OUCH. Ordinary just doesn't seem good enough! At least it hasn't until pastor Matt posed that question!
     I believe God was telling me that that is me. I am one of the many ordinary people on this planet that will always be ordinary, and that is finally okay with me. In fact, it's a relief! I was finally ready to receive it that Sunday morning and it has been freeing.  John 8:32 NKJV
     I am reminded of good ole George Bailey, the character in the Christmas movie, It's a Wonderful Life. There is a particular scene (there are many) that have always been one of my favorites. It's the scene when George's father has just passed away and Mr. Potter is seeking to close down the Building & Loan. This is what George says in this scene:

     I consider myself part of the "rabble" being talked about in the clip, that's about as ordinary as you can get! When you think about it though, at least in today's world, George Bailey and his dad both would be considered ordinary folk too.Yet, as the movie progresses we see the difference these ordinary lives did make after all.
     There were two other ordinary people God used in a mighty way. In fact we are still feeling the impact of their obedience to the Father. Mary and Joseph. She was just a teen aged girl, Joseph a carpenter. Look what God did through them! As a result we have just celebrated the birth of their Son, our Savior. Amazing
     Could God have accomplished His will another way? I'm sure. Why did He choose this way? One day we will get to ask Him face to face, if we are one of His children. Yet, I have a feeling when that day comes, it may not seem important. Just a thought
     Until then, this Scripture may explain somewhat the mind of God in this matter: 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 NKJV.  We have been given a Savior who was born to die. Born to die on our behalf. Willingly. Why? I believe it was all because of love. He loves us so much He would have rather died than live without us.
     For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”  I Corinthians 1:26-31 NKJV.  
     All for His glory! Only He is truly extraordinary. That is why I am at peace to be one of the foolish, one of the weak, one of the base, in other words, one of the ordinary...all for Him and His glory. 
     The song titled "Born to Die" by Bebo Norman is my prayer and my song for us as we celebrate and reflect on the meaning of the birth of Christ this season.



Monday, December 24, 2012

Do We Really Need a Bigger Barn?

Greetings Songbirds,
  My wife has graciously allowed me to be a guest blogger this Christmas week as I have a few thoughts I'd like to share with you. So here goes nothing.
   As the Christmas holiday is upon us, I once again have found my thought process challenged as it was recently in our church's building campaign. Anytime the subject of money is raised, whether it be for the purchase of gifts at Christmas time or the giving of funds towards a campaign; there is an instinctive tendency to be afraid to spend anything and instead set it aside for a rainy day. What if I'm sacrificing my future? What if I'm giving away our security? What if retirement has to be delayed? Unfounded fear can make you ask some pretty silly questions. The truth is that to most people these questions don't sound so silly, but to the believer they are just that. Our security and our future aren't dependent on the size of our bank accounts, no instead the Lord is the provider and sustainer of all that we have and we are truly blessed to be His caretakers.  Luke 12:24 NKJV   
  So why are we tempted to be fearful? Prosperity, perhaps has blinded our eyes to the needs around us. Now don't get me wrong, we are like most folks living week to week and thankful to be employed and insured, but even with a modest salary, this time of year challenges me to look outward at the needs of others. I believe that the reason God created money and enabled us to earn it is so we could show by the way we use it that money is not our treasure, Christ is.
  In Proverbs 6:6-8 NKJV God commends the ant's diligence, not his pursuit of security from accumulation. Contrast that in Luke 12:13-21 NKJV, it isn't the rich man's diligence God rebukes, it's his foolish self-sufficiency, seeking security in what he can store up on earth. But Jesus goes beyond telling us not to build up treasures here on earth, He says "Sell your possessions, and give to the needy". Luke 12:33 NKJV  Don't just refrain from building bigger barns, give it way (at least some of it).
     Contrary to what our little world's might have us believe, bigger barns do not equal more security. Choosing to live a life as a raven Luke 12:24 NKJV, trusting God for our provisions requires a willingness on our parts to give away what this world encourages us to seek. It sounds crazy and even making such a statement causes me unease, but trusting God in all areas of our lives, including our finances, shows that He is more than sufficient. "Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (vs 34)
     So here's the question I have for you Songbirds, where are your hearts? Are they  linked to your bank accounts, your homes, your jobs or perhaps something else? Christ wants our hearts to be linked with God, not with what's inside our barns. The problem with having bigger barns here on earth is that there is a huge temptation to trust in barns and not in God.
  Our compassion need not be expensive, but if it's real it will challenge us to choose a path other than our usual, predictable and comfortable way of life. I want desperately to seek first His kingdom and to trust that our Heavenly Father will continue to provide everything I need when I need it. I pray that when I'm tempted to put in my barn, my treasures that God would remind me that the day to day encounters I have with others are perhaps divine appointments rather than disruptions to my self sufficient way of life. What a wonderful blessing it is when God marries our acts of obedience with the earnest prayers of those in need.
     My prayer is that we all venture outside our own little worlds as depicted in the song  titled "My Own Little World" sung by Matthew West.

Merry Christmas and have a Blessed New Year!


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Better than a Hallelujah

     I apologize for taking so long in writing this post, Songbirds. I have drafts of two separate topics I was working on when the events of last Friday took place. It seems as if our country has had the "wind" knocked out of it and we are all still just trying to remember to breathe.
     There are times when words are not sufficient, or maybe not even appropriate. This seems to be one of those times. The sorrow is so deep and the pain is so raw that it will take time to process what took place, if that is even possible. The song by Amy Grant titled Better than a Hallelujah explains it beautifully.
     We pour out our miseries, God just hears a melody...If that be true, Songbirds then when we call out to our Heavenly Father in our time of sorrow and grieving, we become His song...what an awesome thought...what an awesome God.
     If the Lord leads, I will share more of what is on my heart regarding the events that took place in Connecticut last Friday, December 14th in a future post. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NKJV Amen and Selah.



Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Greatest Gift

     It's been a while since we've spoken, Songbirds! 'Tis the season! I know everyone is busier these days and  I do appreciate more than I can say your taking time out of your busy schedules to peek in on me and my "rantings"!   ; )
     I have truly missed writing to you since we last spoke. I am constantly thinking of you and how I can best make sense of what I feel God may be putting on my heart to share with you. It can be overwhelming at times because it is a difficult thing for me to express my thoughts and feelings toward the Lord. He has done such great things and He continues to do so. 
     I am reminded of  the disciple, John when he wrote: "And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen."  John 21:25 NKJV  
     He turned water into wine, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead back to life, set the captive free...and so much more!  These things were only made possible because of Jesus' obedience to the Father in coming to earth in the form of mankind.  
     He had to lay in a manger before He could lay down His life on a cross, as my pastor pointed out this past Sunday. He experienced first hand what His creation experiences, therefore providing "me too" experiences with Him and His creation.
     Jesus experienced abandonment, He experienced rejection, He experienced abuse, He experienced poverty, He experienced homelessness, He experienced being wrongly accused, He experienced being misunderstood...etc, etc. Sound familiar? Ever experience these things in your life? Maybe even right now? So did He!
     What does all of this mean for us? Our God has compassion on His people..."Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but as in all  points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV.
     That baby who lay in a manger would later willingly lay His life down on a cross and become
the propitiation for our sins...and so much more! WHY? His Love For us. Through it all, He still loves us. He loved us before He was born into mankind and He always will Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV. What a gift Jesus (who knew no sin) has given to us! Romans 5:15-18 NKJV....AMAZING.  
      My prayer for us this Christmas season is that we remember that our greatest need (therefore, the greatest gift we could receive) is a Savior! And on that first Christmas day that need was met, as illustrated through the song titled The Night Before Christmas  by  Brandon Heath.

Empty manger...perfect stranger...about to be born...



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Could I Ask For More?

Happy Thanksgiving, Songbirds! 
     May God richly bless you and yours this holiday season! I am so grateful that you have chosen to read my posts! I hope and pray that in some small way it ministers to your hearts.
     The song  How Could I Ask for More? by Cindy Morgan is one of my all time favorites and well worth the listen!
1 Thessalonians 5:18  In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

His Eyes

     You may recall in my last post titled "He Ran" that I mentioned that God graciously allowed me to experience what it would be like to sit before the first judge in my disability case so He could whittle away that same judgmental attitude I am prone to have toward others; not unlike big brother did toward the prodigal. The following incident is how He accomplished that:
     It was fall of 2008 and I had just finished shopping at Sam's Club and had begun to put my items in the trunk of my car. I noticed what I thought was a man and wife across the parking lot at their car as I was unloading items. I didn't really pay attention to them. The next thing I knew was that as I was getting ready to open my car door the woman approached me. She may have been slightly younger than me, dressed in pants and sweater...nicely groomed. She started talking to me and telling me she had had marriage problems...and that was as far as she got before I stopped her.
     I wish I could continue on and tell you that I listened to the rest of what she had to say, especially since my husband and I have such a strong passion for marriages, but that is not what happened. I remember thinking that she didn't look like the "typical" (?) person who panhandled (if she even was a panhandler). I'll never know because I didn't give her a chance to tell me what she wanted.
     I then realized that she must not have been with the man across the parking lot, but that she must have approached him the same way. So, I immediately stopped her and told her "Sorry, I can't help you." I opened my car door and she was gone. When I got in my car I turned the key and the radio came on and it was playing the Christian station that I listen to. BAM! Conviction, BIG time!
     I envisioned the day I was seated before the first judge in my disability case January of 2007. I believe God put that image in my mind so that I would make the connection between my behavior and the judge's behavior. If you know me, you know that I don't "look sick." I believe that was part of the bias the judge had toward me. The woman did not "look" the part, so my prejudice shined through, big time.
     Well, the Holy Spirit had convicted me to the point that I felt I had to find her, but to no avail. I drove that parking lot up and down and I could not find her anywhere. It was as if she had vanished into thin air!
     Then it hit me, maybe she was an angel. I know it may sound a bit strange and I guess it doesn't matter if she was one or not, because God got my attention regardless, but she seemed to have appeared and disappeared so suddenly.
     I never did find her (regrettably), but it had affected me. It made me realize that I have such a long way to go toward showing compassion to others. When I write in regard to showing compassion, I am talking to myself as much as to anyone else. I believe God used what took place to reveal Himself as very much involved in my life and in complete control of the battle I was facing in regard to my disability case.
     Skip to the next time I was at the Sam's Club, which was a week or two after the "angel" had approached me, I was heading out of the store when I got a call from my lawyer. He told me that the first judges' decision had been overturned based on the conclusion that he independently made his decision to deny my benefits by disregarding the evidence before him. BAM! Redemption, BIG time!
     My attorney also told me that I may not have to face another judge before my case would be settled, most likely in my favor. Coincidence? I don't think so. This phone call, coincidentally at the same location, proved in my mind that God was in control of my circumstances that day in the parking lot. He knew what it would take for me to repent and realize that my husband and I had been so graciously taken care of by Him, disability benefits or not, and I had no right to judge the "angel" in the parking lot the way that I did.
     He brought me to my knees, which is where I need to stay! The thought that I behaved like the first judge hit me personally because I knew the condemnation I experienced when I faced that first judge and I had made her feel that same way. It breaks my heart to this day.
     These incidents took place in September of 2008. As it turned out, in January of 2009 I did face another judge. This time I was granted my full benefits in March of 2009 which was just four months after God revealed to me once again His graciousness and His willingness to continue to battle on my behalf, independent of my sinful nature.
     Only one Righteous Judge turned my way, the God of the Universe and He declared me (all believers) not guilty. Not because of my ability to pay my sin debt, but ONLY because of the price Jesus paid on my behalf...AMAZING. 
     Luke 7:36-48 NKJV are some of my favorite verses in the bible. There were two debtors, one Creditor. The two debtors had nothing in which to repay the Creditor. The Creditor forgave them both freely. The question is asked...Which one will love Him (the Creditor) more? The answer:  The one to whom the Creditor forgave more. Verse 43 NKJV.
     Jesus concludes by saying "Therefore, I say to you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." Luke 7:47 NKJV. I refer to this verse as the 747 Jumbo Jet verse because it is so powerful! Because it cuts right to the heart condition of sinful man (a hard heart) and addresses Jesus' solution...heart surgery. The scalpel? Forgiveness.
     The realization that we, as sinful man need it and then the realization that only He can provide it. Once received, love is conceived, along with our desire to seek to see others through His eyes! The surgery is complete and the healing begins.Collateral healing.
     The song, titled Give Me Your Eyes by  Brandon Heath  is my prayer and my song for us all today...




Thursday, November 15, 2012

He Ran!

     One of the many attributes of God is that He is good. How much we truly comprehend that truth can affect our decision processes in many ways. If we have this vision of God just waiting to pounce on us with an iron fist or a bolt of lightning every time we make a wrong move what kind of effect do you think that has on our relationship with Him? Intimacy is not cultivated in an environment of fear and punishment I John 4:18 NKJV. Through Christ He is Judge over sin Acts 17:30-31 NKJV, yet that is not the whole story. We as believers have been declared "not guilty" because of the blood of Christ I Peter 1:18-20 NKJV.
      I have been privileged to experience first hand what it might be like to go before a two types of  judges; one who has already deemed me "guilty" and then one who has deemed me "not guilty." It was quite a life lesson for me and here is how it played out:
     If you know me or have read my previous posts, you are aware of my multiple health issues. At the time I had become ill I was working full time. When I became ill I had to stop working. After several years went by it was getting harder and harder to make ends meet, so my husband and I decided that it was time to apply for my Disability benefits. That battle began May of 2005.
     January of 2007 found me sitting before a judge that had already made up his mind that I was not eligible for my benefits, I am sure in part because I don't look sick. My file was literally several inches thick of medical documentation, yet it was of no avail to him. His questions to me were not out of line, it was his responses and his attitude toward my answers to his questions that revealed his prejudice against me.
     That morning before we went to my appointment before the Judge, I had searched God's Word for guidance. He gave me this scripture that I did not fully comprehend at the time; Proverbs 10:19-20 NKJV which says this; In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little. 
     I focused on the first verse in regard to my use of words during the inquiry that morning. I held my tongue more than I believe I would have, had I not received this scripture ahead of time. There were times during the judge's questioning that I would have been tempted to explain my responses in more detail, but I believe the Lord helped me restrain my tongue. It was obvious to me that it did not matter what I said, the decision was already made.
     Several months later I received the news that, indeed  I was denied by the judge to receive my benefits. It was very disheartening to say the least, but the truth of my situation had not changed and with the help of the Lord and my husband and attorney, we continued onto yet another appeal. The waiting continued.
     It was early fall of 2008 that I got a call from my attorney that the decision by the first judge had been overturned and that I may not even have to go before another judge. I was to fill out more paperwork (yet again) and then wait (yet again)! We were so encouraged, yet nothing was settled yet.
     January 2009 found me sitting before the second judge. This time I could tell that he was impartial and he listened to my responses without dismissal or contempt. The waiting continued.
     I got THE call in March of 2009 that the second judge ruled in my favor. By summer of 2009 I started receiving my benefits and 4 years of struggling had come to an end and it was such a relief! 
     Had I truly been sitting before the One and Only Righteous Judge I would have had to been declared guilty. EXCEPT for one thing, as a believer I have a lawyer who has NEVER lost a case! His name is Jesus Christ. As a believer, we are declared not guilty in the sight of God. AMAZING. It is all because of Christ and the blood He shed on the cross! 
     BUT GOD graciously allowed me to experience what it would be like to sit before the first judge that made me feel condemnation so He could whittle away that same judgmental attitude I am prone to have toward others, not unlike big brother did toward the prodigal. In my next post I will elaborate more specifically how He did that. 
     I am reminded of a song by Benny Hester titled When God Ran. My prayer and my song is that this becomes our vision of God's response toward all of us prodigals and in turn respond to each other the same way. Amen.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Louder Than Words

     In Luke 15: 11-32 NKJV we are told of the prodigal son. Verses 11-24  are a beautiful story of love and redemption...then big brother speaks;  in verses 25-32  he says to his father;  ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’  verses 29-30. Whoa! Big brother had become angry and jealous of the father's treatment of his wayward brother.
     These verses remind me of something my husband has said from time to time and that is this "One man's gain is not your loss." The older brother lost nothing of his inheritance nor was his position as his father's son  affected by his younger brother's behavior or treatment, so why did he get angry?
     What would cause us to get angry or jealous when a co-worker gets promoted ahead of us, or someone drives a nicer car or lives in a bigger house or has children we so desperately want ourselves or etc., etc., etc.? What's even worse, what if these people were in rebellion with the Father or even rejected Him out right as depicted by the prodigal?
     This "slippery slope" starts when we take our focus off our own relationship with God and start looking around and comparing ourselves with others. Grace by this point has been laid by the wayside. Behavior and performance become the focus instead and our attitude will go "down hill" from there every time. Entitlement replaces humility...not pretty...and when anger, jealousy or an attitude of entitlement are ushered in, judgment of others is sure to follow. Remember collateral damage from last week?
     The good news is that if we engage in a growing intimate relationship with God and His Word then what those around us are doing or achieving seems less relevant because our fulfillment comes from Him and His provision for us. God transforms our attitude because He transforms our hearts and our judgment of others is replaced with not only compassion for them but a burden for their souls as well. Collateral healing.
     My husband and I have had the privilege of walking the ruins of  Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp represented in the movie Schindler's List, along with Auschwitz and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps. Over the entrance gates of Auschwitz reads Arbeit Macht Frei which translated means "Work sets you free."
     That sign was a deception, just as the deception of believing that our "works set us free." Works alone can never set us free. It is by the gift of grace and grace alone that God sets us free from the bondage of sin Ephesians 2:7-9 NKJV. His grace replaces our "works" into loving obedience that flows from a grateful heart. I believe our loving obedience to the Father speaks louder than any words we could ever utter James 1:21-25 NKJV.
We took this picture of the entrance gate to Auschwitz in December, 2008:

     We left the gates of those camps of our own free will when some one and one half million others did not have that privilege. We stood outside of  Schindler's Factory as well and we will never forget those experiences, at least I pray we never do.
     Walking those steps in Poland made me realize that man's inhumanity to man seems to have no boundaries.We are indeed lost souls in need of a Savior, not unlike those from the death camps. Through God's grace He made a way through Jesus Christ to provide that Savior Romans 1:15-17 NKJV.
     Grace is a mysterious thing, at least to me. Such sacrifice was required for us to obtain it, yet is is freely given to those who believe Ephesians 2:7-9 NKJV AMAZING. If we truly are grateful for the gift of grace then obedience to the Father becomes our small offering, as inadequate as it may seem.
     I am reminded of the ending scene in the movie Schindler's List  in which Oskar Schindler  illustrates his remorse over not saving just one more person from the death camps...

     My song and my prayer for us today is that we continually reach toward just one more person through the rescuing love of Christ (louder than words). 
     The song by David Crowder Band  titled O Praise Him  illustrates the praise that will surely result when we "Turn our ear. To Heaven. And hear. The noise inside"... Hallelujah! He is holy! Amen.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Collateral Healing

     Each week when I'm deciding which topic to discuss, I think "well, maybe this week we can focus on something lighthearted."...I'm beginning to realize that that just doesn't seem to be the way I "roll." As much as I would love to speak of pleasant things, I seem to always have some sort of burden on my heart that seems too important not to write about and this week is no different.
     Today I feel led to discuss the emotional pain we experience in our lives. It is something we all have in common. It gets our full attention and our first instinct seems to be focused on how to relieve it. It tends to strip us down to our bare soul, which is one reason I believe God allows it. Yet in the midst of such raw emotion can come great clarity or great calamity.
     When we focus solely on relieving our pain we can make harmful decisions that will affect us and those around us for a very long time. That is where great calamity can come in. One of the ways we tend to do that is deny it's existence.
     When we do not address it, then consequences are sure to follow. Some of the consequences we face if that happens is that we become angry, resentful, bitter, it stunts our spiritual growth, we become prideful and we start building walls up trying to protect ourselves from further pain.When we focus solely on self-protection intimacy is damaged in our relationships with others. Calamity.
     Restlessness (lack of peace) results as well when we continue to deny our pain and all of these consequences of  that denial lead to an opening for sin to enter into our lives. This all results in damaged relationships with our God and with others. Calamity.
     Ultimately denial of  deep emotional pain can result in suicide. The enemy of our souls likes nothing better than when that happens. From my own personal experience I learned that people do not want to die, they just want the deep pain that they feel swallowed up by to stop. When a person gets to that point they feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the pain and have lost all hope then immediate intervention is needed. Calamity.
     It was only through the intervention of my husband and subsequent treatment that I am alive today. I learned during that time that God was bigger than my insurmountable pain. I had forgotten that He breathed the universe into existence. I had forgotten that He loved me enough to die for me. I had forgotten that He said He would never leave me nor forsake me. Calamity.
     Once I realized He was not only able but willing to rescue me I had hope once again and my healing journey began to take place. My whole testimony regarding that experience is in my first post titled "The Hand of God."  
  One last very sad consequence I would like to mention in regard to buried pain in our lives is that we tend to start viewing ourselves as victims. When a person starts down that path, destruction soon will follow. Not unlike the path left after a tornado, a victim always makes sure that their "path" is strewn with destruction. The collateral damage is all around them and the "friendly fire" if you will is what results along with an attitude of entitlement. Calamity.
     Pain defined is this:  Penalty, punishment (Greek - poine, penalty, fine: see penal) ex. - Penal code for prisoners... (Irony)?  Penal Code defined: A body of law dealing with various crimes or offenses and their legal panalties.
     When someone violates a love relationship, pain results which results in a penal code of sorts being triggered. We even use the terms "offender" and "offended." Why do we use these terms? A crime has been committed against us. So, in a sense we become a "prisoner of war" because of the pain in our lives. To quote my Pastor "Unforgiveness becomes a poison we drink and wait for the other person to die." We in essence become a prisoner of our own making. Calamity.
     The key that unlocks those "prison bars" is forgiveness. The road to healing is a process and it is only through God's grace and in His strength that we can accomplish it. The freedom that comes when those "bars" break open are worth every bit of suffering we experience. The clarity I spoke of earlier now begins!
     The awesome thing about God is that if we choose to obey and forgive He sets in motion His own set of "consequences" if you will. Just like the snowball effect of unresolved pain that leads to collateral damage God causes collateral healing to take place when we seek His healing. It is an amazing thing and something only God can do. Only God can accomplish it because only God can change a heart. Clarity.
     We talked last week how God has the power to turn a heart of stone into a heart of flesh Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV. He is able because nothing is impossible with Him  Luke 1:37 NKJV. Clarity.
     Corrie Ten Boom is a beautiful example of forgiveness. I urge you to read the story of her account of  being a Holocaust survivor and coming face to face with one of the guards from the Ravensbruck concentration camp  that had held her captive. She describes how God gave her the grace to extend forgiveness to her former captor. It makes any act of forgiveness on my part seem very small. I hope it is an inspiration to us all to always be willing to forgive. Clarity.
     One of my favorite quotes from Corrie Ten Boom is this "When you are covered by His wings, it can get pretty dark." She knew this from experience. We tend to think that God has "left the building" so to speak when we are in the midst of our pain and suffering. Quite the contrary. He is there. He was there for Corrie and He is there for us. We just have to seek Him and He will make Himself known to us. His presence and His glory! Clarity.
     I know our discussion has been focused on the pain we may be enduring at the hands of someone else, but pain is pain and no matter the source, God is always there with His love and comfort to guide us into healing. With His healing comes clarity because His truth begins to be revealed to us as we begin the process of letting go of our pain and turning it over to Him. To quote Tenth Avenue North in their song The Healing Begins "Sparks will fly when grace collides with the dark inside of us!" Clarity.
     His presence and His glory! I would like to take a quote from Beth Moore which says this, "The goal of life is not the absence of pain. It is the presence of God and the glory of God. When He can work glory without pain, He does. When He can't, it's going to hurt."
     One last thought, Songbirds. Collateral healing brings with it's own "consequences" such as joy, peace, reconciliation. It brings hope and restoration where there was once despair and darkness. It breaks the chains of sins passed down from generation to generation in families. Clarity.
     Most importantly it reveals that if we are a child of God then we are victors not victims. Victors have a humble attitude because they realize their victory is only through Christ unlike victims who have an attitude of entitlement that stems from a heart that has been hardened by unresolved pain. We may be victimized in our lives, but that is NOT our identity. We are freed from the bondage that unresolved pain can place us in. The reason for that is all because of Christ who knew no sin, who bore our sin so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV! Clarity.
     My prayer and and my song for us today is that we look to Christ as our ultimate example of how to resolve the pain in our lives. He endured the pain of the cross on our behalf. He was there, He is there and He always will be there. His presence and His glory. Clarity.
     The song  It is titled You Were There by Avalon illustrates the constant presence of our Lord beautifully.

He would rather die than leave us in the dark. Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV  Clarity. Collateral healing. Amen.


Sunday, October 14, 2012


     If I had to pick one movie to be my favorite of all time, it would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird. I know I am aging myself since it came out in 1962...but at my age that doesn't seem to matter anymore! ha!
     I guess I love this movie so much because it has so many life lessons in it. Lessons I carry with me to this day. Lessons regarding dignity and integrity and compassion. Life can be hard, as we all know. We don't stop wrestling with it just because we "grow up."
     There is a scene in the movie where the neighbor lady, Miss Maudie Atkinson is trying to help Jem, the young son in the movie understand why his dad, Atticus Finch is defending  Tom Robinson. She says, "I don't know if it will help saying this to you... some men in this world are born to do our unpleasant jobs for us... your father is one of them." 
      I want to pose this thought to you; An Atticus Finch is inside of all of us and is just waiting to be brought out. And if so, wouldn't that be grand!? I am naive enough to think it is possible.
     There is another scene in the movie that I would like to point out  with this quote;  "That boy is your company. And if he wants to eat up that tablecloth, you let him, you hear? And if you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen" This is a quote by Calpurnia, she was the family cook and took care of Jem and Scout and taught them many life lessons as well.
     The boy Calpurnia is referring to had requested syrup and had started pouring it all over his dinner and Scout started chiding him about it. The boy then stopped eating and felt ashamed for what he had done. I bring this scene up because even though this was a small boy and a seemingly insignificant incident, it was still about DIGNITY.
     Whether we are in the position of someone like Atticus or Calpurnia, no matter. One of my many favorite stories in the Bible is found in Luke 7:36-47 NKJ. The verse that especially speaks to me is found in vs. 47; "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”
     From the realization of the sacrifice made on our behalf comes an overflow of gratitude and thanksgiving. This attitude affects all the relationships around us. It is a "heart" condition. We once had a heart of stone and the Great Physician replaced it with a heart of flesh Ezekiel 36:26 NKJ. If you are a believer, you have been given a "heart transplant!"  I think this qualifies you and I as a possible Atticus or Calpurnia! 
     Life can be hard and people can be hard to love (just ask my husband)! BUT GOD has made a way for us to extend His love to others through His Son. Love isn't always pretty and doesn't always give us a "warm fuzzy" feeling. It can masquerade itself as an "unpleasant job" as described in the movie. 
     The reality is that love sometimes requires making tough choices and confronting issues we would just as soon not deal with, but that is where integrity is born. Sometimes it requires us to become an Atticus Finch or a Calpurnia...something or someone has to become more important than our fear of loving before we can love the way He loves us 1 John 4:18 NKJ. We can do it. God has made a way. How can we do any less?  Courageous by  Casting Crowns is my prayer and my song for us today:

 Micah 6:8 NKJ
 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?



Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Pick!

     I want to start out this post with a video from Dave Busby. He was an evangelist who would come and speak to a previous church we attended during the 1990's. I spoke of him in my previous post titled "To Live Is Christ". To refresh your memories, he suffered with Cystic Fibrosis, Polio, liver disease, heart disease and Diabetes, yet he turned his suffering into a catalyst to glorify the Lord. He died in December of 1997 in his mid forties.
     His speaking style is as passionate as he was. You will find it poignant yet with a splash of humor thrown in and I believe he is able to communicate to you better than I ever could hope to on the subject of being wanted...

     Wanted, that's us! Chosen by God to be His sons and daughters, first pick! WOW.  How about you? Has it sunk in just how much YOU are loved and wanted? Romans 8:28-39 NKJ.  When we experience this kind of love it is hard to keep to ourselves. It affects every relationship we have. It affects the church body as a whole. 
     Just think how churches are affected when they are filled with believers who have a passion such as Dave's to express the Lord's love for His people. I am naive enough to think that even though this may not be reflected in a majority of our churches could be! 
     Dave Busby was just one man, yet even after his death his passion lives on. We don't have to "settle"! We are the sons and daughters of the Most High God. We were called out and chosen. It was God's initiative, not ours that we came to know Him as our personal Savior! John 6:44 NKJ. Amazing! "We" are the Body of Christ. 
      Do you attend a local body of believers? If so, are you satisfied with the atmosphere at your church? That do you think it would take to change either (or both) of those if they are negative answers? We can't give up! If we love God, and if we have been "affected" by His love for us then it is only logical that we will love His church. 
     My prayer for us today is that we never let the fact that we are wanted and chosen by God stop affecting us. We need each other Hebrews 10:19-25 NKJ. That person sitting next to you in church may need to experience "Jesus with skin on" as one of our former pastors used to say. You may be the one person God can use to talk them back from the ledge of life. I know. I've experienced both sides.
      God is still in the business of saving and healing souls and He chooses to use His children many times to accomplish His will...are we willing to obey? His church is hurting because it is full of hurting people, people He died for who may be "running a hundred miles an the wrong direction"...or "may be going down today" as referenced in the song by Casting Crowns song titled Does Anybody Hear Her?; It is my song for us all...
     You may be the one "running in the wrong direction". My word to you is...please don't give up either! Truth is that we are all in the same boat. There are seasons when we are the one "running" and then seasons when we can be the one extending the "hope that's tucked away in you and me" to someone else.

"He is running"...



Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Back to Plan A∞

     Ever been reminded of a past sin? Thoughts rush back to that time and you think, if only...but we all know that nothing can change what has already taken place. Sometimes the consequences of our past behavior will exist for a lifetime. This truth can create an identity crisis if we are not careful.
     It's painful, I know. It's not an easy thing to talk about it, I know. It's scary, I know. It seems like no one else could possibly understand, I know. It seems like there is no solution, I know.
     So, why am I discussing it in my post today? Because there is something else I  know and that is that even though it may be painful, even though it's hard to talk about, even though it's scary, even though people may not understand, there IS a solution. The solution is a person and His name is Jesus Christ.
     I've heard many people say..."If you focus on forgiving yourself, then your healing will begin to take place." I have come to believe that instead of forgiving ourselves, we need to accept the forgiveness we have already been given through Christ. Do you see the tragedy in that? We punish ourselves over sin we have already repented of and for what? Christ has already paid the penalty for it! Not only that, He has given us a new identity! Romans 3:21-26 NKJ
     Grace is what it's all about! It is so hard. At least it has been for me. Think about it. When we are living in regret and shame and guilt over our sin, we are still operating under the law. We are basing our identity on who we are and what we've done instead of who He is and what He's done. That's legalism not grace.
     What if you have never accepted Christ? It's not too late. His grace is available to all who will believe, just as Romans 3:21-26 NKJ states. Your last day of bondage could be today! If you have thought up until now that there was no hope for is one that will tell you there is hope and it comes in the form of a Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray that if you have never made the decision to follow Christ that today is the day!
     Salvation through Jesus Christ is God's Plan A for our lives. He loves us that much. You may think, well I'm probably working on Plan D, E, or F by now! I will say this to you and to myself: God's Plan A is available to us anytime we return to the cross. The cross does not require a back-up plan! Grace is found there. Forgiveness is given there. Mercy is found there. New beginnings and a new identity is found there.
      One last thought:  Grace could be considered risky business. By that I mean that a person could look at grace verses the law and think that may give them a license to sin Romans 6:15-19 NKJ. Our heavenly Father has poured out His grace on us all, BUT He paid a great sacrifice to do so. I pray that we never forget the price that was paid on our behalf and abuse the gift that was freely given to us.
     God knew before time began the rebellious nature of man. He knew that there would be those who would reject Him, despise Him, crucify His Son and mock His name. He was willing to do it anyway. He loves us that much.
     I think if God was willing to extend His grace to us even knowing what He knew then we can be willing to accept His grace and extend it to others. I would rather err on the side of grace if it means not missing out on an opportunity to love in the way I have been loved. Wouldn't you?
     Because of Christ we are a new creation as stated in  2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJ  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." This is my prayer and my song for us all illustrated in the song titled "You Are More" by Tenth Avenue North...

     He has wiped our slates clean, Songbirds!...Back to Plan A! Psalm 51 NKJ


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Peace Be Still...

     Rest...sometimes we treat it like a four letter word, if you know what I mean. It should be so simple, right? Then why does it seem so difficult to achieve? It may come easy to some, but not for me.
     Having multiple chronic illnesses like I do would make you think that I would have a handle on this subject....not! Allowing myself to rest is still one of the biggest adjustments I have had to make.
     This week is a good example. I so wanted to write this post before now! I also wanted to accomplish more than going to the grocery store as my main activity for the week. BUT, my body was not cooperating!
     My brain does not function properly on my "bad" days either. People with Fibromyalgia deal with what is termed brain fog. I know it sounds like it's right out of a science fiction novel, but it describes what it feels like while it's happening. On "bad" days it's even worse. It is as if my brain is half asleep, therefore I am pretty useless when it comes to accomplishing anything that might have to do with cognitive thinking which can include even carrying on a conversation....just ask my husband on that one!
     You would think having conditions that make a person feel fatigued would make it easier for them to rest. Nope. My instinct is to fight it! My dilemma is that I have to fight fatigue/pain everyday, so it is difficult to distinguish when I really need to stop and rest or pay the price if I don't. Sometimes it is obvious to me, sometimes it's not. I have had to say no to a lot of things in my life just to maintain some sort of normalcy.
     When you think about it, anytime any of us chooses to rest do we not feel as if we are missing out on something or that  we are letting someone down because we are not "picking up the slack?" At least it seems that way to me. We need it though! There are people like me that need it because of physical conditions, but we all  become weary from time to time Isaiah 40:27-31 NKJ.
     The good news is that God never grows tired. Not only that but He renews us with His strength, and that's a promise! Maybe you're in the midst of a battle right now, maybe the biggest one so far in your life. Do you know that it is okay to rest in the midst of what you're going through? I speak from the perspective of someone who has been in the midst of battles and found out the hard way that it wasn't until I became weak that He became strong  2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJ.
     What I realized was that when I feel I've reached my limit either one of two things happens, either God imparts me with His strength to continue on the same course OR He alters my course. Either way it is HIM and HIS power, not mine and therefore ONLY HE can get the glory for the victory that takes place. I think this may have been what Paul was speaking of in 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJ.
     The song by Al Denson titled Peace Be Still  became a lullaby of sorts for me twenty years ago in the midst of my marriage crisis. It ministered to me in such a powerful way at the time and it still does when I get battle weary. It is my prayer and my song for us all today...
2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”...AMEN.


Saturday, September 15, 2012


Hang in there with me, Songbirds! I may not be able to post again until early next week. I so appreciate you joining me on this journey! BTW, is there a topic you would like for me to cover next time...or perhaps elaborate on one I have already posted? I would love your feedback! Thanks again for checking in on me from time to time! Until we meet again, remember He makes all things new!...Revelation 21:1-5 NKJ.
Songbird ♥

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Of Pride and Prejudice

     To be honest, I struggled as to whether I should even attempt to write this post. But after learning of the Invisible Illness Awareness Week and mulling it over, I was reminded once again, that this journey I have been on for 11+ years now is not about me. It is easy to think that it is, especially when I have a "bad" day. But then the small still voice I heard in those early days of my illness whisper to me once again that I am not alone and that there is STILL a purpose and a plan for my life.
     My journey began in January 2001. My diagnosis came in late April, 2001. Fibromyalgia. I had never heard of it. I was 42 years old at the time. My life as I knew it changed that January, sad thing is my whole family became affected. My husband often says when speaking of my illness that Fibromyalgia may not be life-threatening, but it is life-altering. My husband has been most directly affected by my illness as well as our three grown daughters and our eight grandchildren. No man is an island as they say. I try to make a conscious choice to be aware of this fact everyday.
     My struggle in the beginning was not only physical it was also spiritual. I was needing desperately to reconcile my beliefs and my circumstances and was led to John 9:1-3 NKJ.  When I read these verses I realized that I had viewed my situation legalistically. By that I mean I did not realize that deep inside of me I was thinking that I must have done something wrong (sinned if you will) and I was being taught a lesson as punishment from God. If you had asked me before I had read that Scripture if I thought that was going through my mind, I would have told you no, of course not!
     But God knows our hearts and I believe He was telling me through those three small verses that I was not being condemned, nor did I have the right to condemn anyone else for my illness. Better yet, that no one else had the right to condemn me for my illness! He allowed it and He allowed it for my good and His glory.
     John 9:1-3 also allowed my invisible illness to make visible my own pride and prejudice toward others. I cannot tell you how often I have reflected on these verses as situations have come up since I have been ill. Whether it be words or actions, omitted or committed toward me.
     The classic novel written in the early 1800's  Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen comes to mind. The two main characters had to come to grips with their own pride and prejudice in order to love each other. That still small voice reminds me that I too am guilty of jumping to conclusions and judging others and that I have no right to do so if I am to love them the way that Christ loves me. It is a humbling experience.
     It amazes me that the God of the universe would care enough about me to reveal Himself in such a way that I can discern His truth through all of the muck that someone with chronic illnesses goes through. He is with me and He is in control of my body, even though it seems my body is out of control. And I share just a glimpse of  my story with you in hopes that you realize that I am not unique by any means as is stated in I Corinthians 1:26-29 NKJ.
     These truths should be enough reason for all of us to have hope. He is our hope, He is the source of our joy, so we can indeed rejoice! Yes, even now in the midst of our daily struggles. This is my song and prayer for us all and it is why my blog is titled Songbird  and is offered as a source of hope no matter our circumstance.

May God bless you and fill you with His hope as you continue your journey,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Voice of Truth

Fishing trip off the coast of Florida July 2012
     Family members of ours were fishing off the coast of Florida several months ago and captured this picture of an ominous cloud before a rainstorm. BTW no family members were harmed during the making of this photo! Amazing though, isn't it? Downright creepy if you ask me! 
     I have been afraid of storms ever since I can remember. Not a good thing in Texas. I have come to deal with my fear of storms up to the level of tornadoes. I have laid in bed at night reciting the lyrics of the Casting Crowns song Praise You in this Storm reminding myself that God is who He is no matter where I am and is greater than the literal storm that was beating down on our home. I have also been known to spend time in our front bathtub holding our dog Scout reciting Scripture and praying because the threat of a tornado seemed so imminent. Me, oh my!
     Come to think of it, fear has played a big part in my life. Just like the ominous storm cloud pictured above my life has been affected by my many fears. I am sure I could bring my childhood experiences into it, but that seems counter productive at this point in my life. What seems to matter most to me now is being able to release my fears as they arise to the One who made me...fears and all.
     One thing I have learned as I attempt to release my fears to God is that He then takes my fear and replaces it with His peace. This sometimes takes much longer than I would like and multiple pleas. I never know specifically when He will appropriate it, but He never fails to do so if I persist in my reaching out to Him at such times.
     Most recently this took place just this past week when my husband and I were ending our vacation in Florida and although hurricane Isaac was no longer a threat to us in Florida, when it came inland it was stationed right in our path back home to Texas. Not only that, it was causing flooding and spawning tornadoes, my nemesis when it comes to storms! 
     The night before we left I was still very anxious about leaving and that is when God stepped in with His peace that passes understanding Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ. I have to be honest and tell you that I still had a "moment" at one point on our trip back when we were driving in some rain through Mississippi...but in reality it was not a threatening storm and I had to remind myself that God had given me His peace which told me He was with us and I knew if He was with us, then He was in control.
     I should have known was the Labor Day weekend marking the twenty year anniversary of when I first realized my marriage was in crisis back in 1992. A storm was on our horizon and my immediate response once again was fear. 
     To illustrate just how much the God of the universe knows His children, the Scripture He placed in my mind and heart over and over from the beginning of that trial was 1 John 4:18 NKJ which says this:  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. Be he who fears has not been made perfect in love. I interpreted that verse to mean that God was teaching me to love my husband more perfectly (Christlike) and that if that was my desire, I could not love him and allow fear to rule my behavior toward him.
     I could have very easily allowed fear to swallow me up during those months, and at times I wasn't sure if it wasn't going to. My biggest fear at that time was the fear of abandonment and God knew that. God loved me enough to allow me to face that fear so that I would know without a shadow of a doubt twenty years later and counting that I will never ever be abandoned by the One who loves me most.
     Another thing happened though, to my surprise quite honestly. The more I focused on my attempt to love my husband through that time, the less I became focused on the ultimate outcome. The fears would wax and wane, but as time went on God was finally able to bring me to the place of total release of my husband to Himself. It was hard, I won't lie. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life because when I made that decision I truly believed my husband would leave and never return.
     That morning my husband had left early to look for an apartment. As he drove off  I went to my sacred place which at the time was our bathroom (if you have kids I am sure you can relate)! After laying on that floor and crying my eyes out, I prayed and literally lifted my hands up to the sky and handed him over to God. I finally said Uncle! relinquishing any further attempts to control my husband and my circumstances.
     I would love to tell you that I stood up, opened the door of my restroom and was as strong as an oak the rest of the day. Not happenin'. I was a nervous wreck. I remember getting out and running errands with our girls that day...they were age 17, 15 and 12 at that time. The rest of it is pretty much of a blur until my husband returned that afternoon. When he did return, he had made the decision to move out. It was as if the several months of chaos prior to this day were culminating all at once. The storm cloud was getting ready to burst. 
     After the initial response of anger and pleading and then prayer, acceptance did finally come. It just so happened on that same day our youngest daughter, which was age 12 at the time had a birthday party to go to. My husband and I mutually decided it would best for her if we waited until she was picked up for the party before he left.
     In the meantime, my husband decided to go in and start packing some items. At this point I am still just a bundle of every emotion you can think of. He left the room and I started pacing and then it happened...God answered my prayer from that know, the one releasing my husband to Him? This peace washed over me that I could not explain except that it was the peace which passes understanding Philippians 4:6-7 NKJ.
     My husband got packed and we waited for our youngest daughter to leave and then it came time for my husband to go. He says I told him I would be waiting for him when he returned...I vaguely remember telling him that. I remember distinctly though, as soon as the door shut taking my two remaining daughters over to our sofa and praying with them.
     Well several hours went by. Our youngest daughter was still at her friend's birthday party. It was December and I had put the movie "White Christmas" in to watch with our two oldest girls hoping to distract us from the day. I was laying on our sofa and I heard a vehicle outside and it sounded like my husband's truck...but I was not about to go to that window! I would not allow myself to think it might actually be him returning. Well, then I heard the door knob turn. Yes it was him, he had returned. He was still filled with uncertainty about our marriage but he was certain he was to come home and that was enough for me at that point. God had brought him home, not me. Nothing I did or said, it was God in him that moved his heart back toward his family.
     The rest as they say is history. We remained in counseling for nine months ( I compare it to the gestation period)! What was birthed was a new beginning for our family. It may not be pretty, but it's real and it's ours. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 NKJ  Inspite of ourselves, God's will prevailed in our family...He can in yours as well.
     Oh, and BTW not only did our two older daughters see their prayers answered that day when their dad came back home, but our youngest daughter did not return from her friend's party until after my husband had returned. It was as if he had never left as far as she was concerned. That's grace.
     We all have storms that seem to be Goliaths and it is in those most desperate times...when we are most afraid and most vulnerable that God reveals His truth to us if we choose to listen....the song titled Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns illustrates this beautifully and it is my song and my prayer for us all...
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NKJ 

...Until next time...


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breath of Heaven

      I was reminded once again today when I saw the sunrise this morning, that I can rest assured that God's promises are still in place. Nothing has changed because He has not changed. This realization first came to me in 2005. I would wake up almost every morning during that time with excruciating lower back pain.
     My bedroom faces the east, so the sun rises through our bedroom windows. During that time I had made it a habit of opening my blinds and curtains really early in the morning, and then getting back in bed for a while. As I lay there in pain, it seemed to help to watch the sun come up.
     It was one of those mornings that as I saw the sun start to rise, I believe God reminded me..."See this sun? I made it rise again and since I did I am still in the process of fulfilling all of my promises...even the ones you may think I have forgotten. How could I not love a God like that?
     This experience helped me to get my perspective back and realize that what I was going through was just temporary. That God had a plan, that He was aware of my pain and not only aware of it, but willing to do something about it. 
     It was at this point that the doctor that I was seeing at the time brought up the subject of narcotic pain medication. I was adamantly opposed because my condition (arthritis) was chronic. I desperately wanted to find another solution. As we sat there in his office, butting heads, I told him I was seeking quality of life at this point and living on pain medication would not allow that. His response was that living in constant agonizing pain did not provide the best quality of life either. We were at an impasse...but as we sat there he came up with the idea that maybe a natural remedy called glucosamine chondroitin might help. I was willing to try it, especially since it was non-prescription.
     It took almost a month for it to take effect, but when it did it offered enough relief that I was able to live with the pain level once again. I was so grateful that I had a doctor that offered me an alternative because the last thing I wanted to do was live indefinitely on narcotic pain medication. But, more than that, I was grateful to a God that keeps His promises and this time he used my doctor to achieve it. My quality of life improved too.
     What I experienced is not unique. The enemy would like to make us think that it is, but God is faithful all the time and keeps His promises every time. It is part of His nature and He does not change, as we have discussed in earlier posts.
     This picture was taken by NASA's Mars rover named Curiosity. It is the sun rising over Mars horizon. God not only holds our world in His hands, He holds the whole universe in His hands. Amazing.

     There you have it! Sunrise on Mars! Psalm 33: 6 NKJ says this:  "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth." Wow. Do you know what that means? We can trust that He can handle anything we might be experiencing. He breathed the worlds into existence!
      At times like this I think it is good to look back and see what God has done in the lives of those who walked before us. Picture a teenage girl who discovers she is carrying a baby, yet is not yet married and is still a virgin. She has been told that she is carrying the Son of God by an angel no less! Wow. We can only imagine what that must have been like for her, yet she remained faithful and trusted God to fulfill His promises to her. In doing so, God fulfilled His promises to us all.
     "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8: 38-39 NKJ. 
     This is my prayer and my song for us all today, that we realize God's love for us is His motivation for breathing His hope and promises on us and that we glorify and praise Him as He so faithfully fulfills those promises in our lives. Amen. 



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Web of Grace

     This past Sunday morning during worship a thought crossed my mind about God's grace. We were singing the song  From the Inside Out by Phillips, Craig and Dean . When we sang the lyrics ..."and should I stumble again, still I'm caught in Your grace" I immediately got the visual in my mind of a spider web. It got me to thinking that wow!, God's grace IS like a spider web! This picture captures what I envisioned in my mind's eye...a kind of  spider web hammock that we can fall into...


     I have read that spider web material is about one-tenth the diameter of a human hair, but has incredible strength. It is ten times stronger than a steel strand of the same weight. That's amazing strength! In previous posts we've talked about the strength of God and how He holds everything together. At the risk of being too redundant I still feel led to explore God's strength in regard to grace. 
     There are lyrics in a  Rich Mullins song that may help explain this better than I can. The lyrics are from the song  Hold Me Jesus  and they say, "Surrender don't come natural to me I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want Than to take what You give that I need And I've beat my head against so many walls Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees." 
      These lyrics capture the struggle we seem to find ourselves in, time and time again. We are like little flies caught in a sticky web that we cannot escape from. Yet this web is woven by a loving and gracious God and it brings grace and life instead of death and destruction.
     In my post "Hand of God" I described my experience where God reached His hand down to me when I couldn't reach mine up to Him. I was frightened, I was sure that God had turned His back on me because I felt I had sinned to the point that God surely would have nothing to do with me. But God proved me wrong!
     There is also another experience I would like to share with you in regard to grace. This time it involves my husband and one of our young grandsons. He was visiting our home when he was still in the process of being potty trained. He was in our kitchen and my husband was sitting in our family room where he could see him. My husband was well aware that our grandson had just soiled his pants and was just standing there. 
     When my husband got up to approach him though, our grandson got a very frightened look on his face. He knew what he had done and he knew that my husband knew what he had done. When my husband saw that look, God reminded him that He is well aware when we "poop" our pants too, and that He is still there for us and is willing to help us clean ourselves up with Him by our side. 
     My husband did an awesome thing in response to our little grandson. He took his hand and led him into the bathroom and told him he would help him clean himself up. Our grandson was relieved and hopefully learned a great lesson on unconditional love and grace. At the same time, my husband experienced a precious reminder that our God is gracious and loving and will always be by our side even if we "poop" our pants!
     My song and my prayer is found in Scripture; "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31 NKJ. Let us all fall freely into God's web of grace and resist the temptation to fight it...knowing that He is always by our side, just as the song by the same title by Tenth Avenue North illustrates so beautifully. BTW, look for their new album to be released August 21st! 

     Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. "Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  John 6:67-69 NKJ   Amen.