Thursday, January 23, 2014

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the former things
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Did you ever think in your heart, “If there is a God, where is He?” I did, a lot. My search ended one night when, in pain and desperation, I threw a Bible I had been trying to read at a wall, shook my fist at the ceiling, and cried out, “I don’t know if you are real or not, but if You are real, You better do something!" I was about to meet the One for whom I had been searching and He was far more than I ever imagined. ALL PROCEEDS FROM SALE OF THIS BOOK GO TO MISSION RESCUE LIFE, AN ORGANIZATION WHICH HELPS TO FREE CHILDREN FROM SEX SLAVE TRAFFICKING.

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sit next to Rosalind

I'm having lunch with a good friend today.  Actually, she is a "good" friend and a "God" friend.

I had just started attending a church with a rather large congregation.  Personally, I find it hard to connect (and easy to hide) in large congregations - so it was an unusual selection for me.  However, the Lord had shown me that this was where I was to attend for the time being.

Representation - not actual church.

After I had been attending for a while someone from my work visited the church.  We were having a special speaker or something that day.   My friend from work knew several people in the congregation, so she introduced us.

A few weeks later I was entering the large sanctuary before the service.  I looked around.  Everyone seemed to be "with someone."  There were clusters of people together talking or waving to someone across the room.

For some reason, that day I felt especially alone - like an outsider.  People were coming in and finding their seats.   I looked around and prayed, "Lord, where should I sit?"  

It was an odd thing to pray.  It was early, the service wouldn't start for a while, so there were lots of open seats from which to choose.  It wasn't a matter of finding a chair.  It was a cry of the heart - almost without thinking, involuntary.  It was my heart asking God to connect me with someone in this large crowd of people.

Just then a thought came to my mind.  Almost a whisper, "Sit next to Rosalind."  My eyes were drawn to a woman seated a few rows in front of me on my right.  She looked vaguely familiar, so  I assumed I was remembering someone my friend from work had introduced me to a few weeks before when she had visited the church.

I made my way down the aisle and into a seat in "Rosalind's" row.  I sat right down next to her.  She glanced at me and smiled politely.  

"Your name is Rosalind, right?"  I asked her.  A puzzled look came over her face as she nodded in the affirmative.  "We met a couple of weeks ago when (I mentioned my friend from work's name) visited here.  Do you remember?"   Again the puzzled look.  

I plunged on and repeated my statement.  "Remember?  It was when we had the special speaker."   Rosalind looked at me and said, "I don't know anyone named (and she named my friend from work).   You and I have never met."     

I had to process that for a moment and then I realized that God had answered my whispered prayer in a very swift and most unusual way.  

Rosalind continued to look at me and I don't remember if she asked me how I knew her name or if I just blurted out what God had done. 

 In any case, she was as completely amazed by it as I was, but we both recognized and acknowledged it as God.  I had heard of and experienced "divine appointment," but never "divine introduction" - to the point where He gives me the person's name before I meet them.  I think we both wondered why God was introducing us to one another!

I soon realized (on my part at least) why He did.  The Bible says that "every good and perfect gift" comes from Him.  Ros is one of those "good and perfect gifts" in my life.  She is deeply in love with the Lord Jesus and is a continual inspiration and blessing to me.  She has an insatiable love of God's word and can remember scripture better than anyone I have met.  I cherish her

We don't get to see each other much since we move in different circles - but we have maintained our friendship and make a point to see each other on a regular basis.  I cherish our friendship.   It is not a quantity friendship - rather a quality friendship.  To put it in today's vernacular - each of us knows we have the other's back.

In the Bible the book of Philippians chapter 1 verse 3 Paul writes, "I thank God upon every remembrance of you."   My modern translation - "I thank God every time I think of you."

That is how I feel about my "good and perfect gift," my friend, Ros.  I thank God for her!  Off to lunch!

Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 New Beginnings

It's a new year.  It is quite common for people to make resolutions at the beginning of a new year.  I looked up the word resolution in a thesaurus.  These are some of the words listed as synonyms:  decree, declaration, decision, promise, pledge, oath, vow.  The word, indecision, was listed as an antonym.

life is all about choices
So a resolution is a decision, a choice.  We all make decisions/choices everyday about everything.  It is part of the privilege God has given us - the ability to choose, to decide for oneself.  

Of course, there are places and times in the world when one's ability to make an independent decision is restricted because of poverty, tyranny, sin...  Restricted, yes; removed, no.  

Several astounding things about our ability to choose are:

  •  the ability to choose is always present, 
  • always unavoidable,
  • and our choices always affect others.  
Not to decide is a decision;  it is a decision not to choose.  Our choices (or choice not to choose) impacts those around us.

consequences aheadAnd, as with any privilege, there are responsibilities associated with it.  Every choice brings a consequence.   Good or bad, benefits or destruction.  Some consequences are immediate, others linger - but there are always consequences.  And those consequences affect not only us, but all those whose lives we touch (or refuse to touch).

I've lived long enough to experience the consequences of a lot of decisions I've made earlier in life.  Some consequences have yielded great benefits (to me, as well as others); for which I am most grateful.  Others have brought pain and embarrassment as their consequences, for which I am ashamed; especially those choices of mine that brought pain and embarrassment to others more than myself.  I have become acutely aware (as I have grown older) that every choice I make has the power to help or hurt others.

I have a favorite saying.  I'm not sure exactly who said it, I've read it attributed to various people, so I won't credit anyone and let the words stand on their own.  I try to live by this sentiment every day - the saying goes like this:

"People will forget what you say.  People will forget what you do.  But people will never forget how they felt when they were with you."

Don't underestimate the power of your decision or

One day, years ago when my youngest son was in the hospital battling cancer, I stopped at a grocery store on my way home from work.  I had just visited my son at the hospital, he was having chemo treatments. There has been nothing in my life so draining than to watch my children suffer and be able to do nothing to stop the suffering.

I was bone tired, soul tired.  Life was too heavy, too overwhelming, too much...and on top of all that...I needed groceries.

As I stood in the checkout line I was numb.  My eyes weren't fixed on anything - I was just staring unfocused ahead of me.  That is when I saw her.  The lady in front of me was looking right at me and she was smiling.  Our eyes met.  She didn't say anything, she just continued to smile. 

Suddenly I felt a surge of life go through me.  I felt strengthened, encouraged, noticed, valued by someone - valued enough to smile at me.  I didn't know her, but I smiled back and hoarsely whispered, "thank you."  She smiled again as she turned and left.

That lady taught me several GREAT lessons that day and they all had to do with choices.  Her choices.
  1. She chose to take the time out of her busy life to notice the person behind her in line, me.  Lesson:  pay attention to those around you, don't be so focused on yourself.
  2. She chose to show kindness to me by a simple smile.
    Lesson:  take time to be kind and mean it.
  3. She chose to try to make a difference in my life.
    Lesson:  I don't need a lot of time, energy, talent, or money to make a big impact on someone's life.  Something as simple as a smile has potential power.
2013 - plenty of choices are right ahead of us.   Let us resolve to seek God's help to make good ones. 

Next blog:  Make a bad choice or decision and now regret it?  Welcome to  the human race!  God has a way to transform our bad choices - all we have to do guessed it...choose to cooperate with Him.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012 ~ click arrow on card to play

Both Sides Now

Friday, December 14, 2012 ~ Newton, Connecticut, USA

The horrible tragedy of the killing of innocents.  Why?

In the gospel of Matthew chapter 6, verse 9; Jesus is teaching about prayer...and He tells us to pray to our heavenly Father;  "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."

Why would Jesus tell us to ask for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?  Aren't things that happen on earth all His doing?

In 2 Corinthians chapter 4, verse 4; Paul states that the "god of this world" has blinded some unbelievers.

Who is the "god of this world?"  And why does Jesus tell us to pray that God's kingdom will come and His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven?    

Jesus tells us to pray that way because His Father's will is not always being done on this earth and His kingdom is not reigning.  The "god of this world" has a kingdom and a will that is being carried out.  He is the enemy of all that is pure, good, holy and just.  God's word names him.  He is the devil, satan. 

In the gospel of Luke chapter 4, verses 5, 6 and 7 we read about Jesus being tempted by the devil.  One of the things the devil uses to tempt Jesus is he offers all the kingdoms of the world to Jesus if He will worship the devil instead of God.  

"The devil led Him up to a high place and showed Him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world.  And he said to Him, 'I will give You all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.  If You will worship me, it will be all Yours.'"  

Of course, Jesus refuses and defeats the devil on the cross; but the Kingdom of God has not been established on earth yet.

So we live in enemy territory right now.  And what that means for us in "real life" on planet earth, is that we are either in a spiritual battle with the enemy or we are under his authority and the control of his kingdom.

What is the enemy's kingdom like?  Here is how Jesus describes it.

In the gospel of John chapter 10, religious leaders of the day are disputing Jesus' statements about His relationship with God, His Father.  Jesus makes this startling statement that reveals the nature of the devil.  

What Jesus says to those religious leaders is captured in verses 43 and 44 of John 10:  "Why do you not understand what I am saying?  It is because you cannot hear My word.  You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of of your father.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

It was not God's plan for those children and adults to be murdered last Friday.  It was not His plan for that young man to be so out of his mind that he was able to commit such horror.  It was, however, graphic evidence of  the "god of this world's" kingdom at work in this world.

God's kingdom is at work in this world also.  We hear of it when we hear of acts of kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, self-sacrifice, and love.

Today we have both sides now on earth - both kingdoms at work.   But....

Someday (I believe someday soon), the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of God.  

In the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation; in chapter 21 verses 3 and 4 we read about God's kingdom coming to earth:  "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.  God Himself will be with them and be their God.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."  

It is our choice to which kingdom we belong.   And, not to decide is to decide.  There is no neutral ground on a battle field.   Each one of us has the privilege, given to us by God out of His love and respect for our person hood, to choose.

I have learned that every choice I make costs me something.  Some choices are worth the cost, others aren't.  So...

Choose wisely.  Choose deliberately.

If you want to choose Jesus and the Kingdom of God, but aren't sure how to do that - get a Bible and read the gospel of John.  Tell God that you are choosing His kingdom and ask for His help.  

Jesus be with you!