Thursday, August 28, 2014

Baby Steps

I have waited a whole year to write this note to you. It is my birthday again and as I sit and think of this past year, I remember mother saying, "Time goes faster the older you get!" Well, that sure seems true, but the clock hands click by at the same rate and I have found that time stands still for no one! 

As I have looked back and reminisced, I see the good, bad and ugly of this past year. God blessed in every situation, but there are some memories that I don't want to deal with (husbands tragic wreck) and some memories I would like to be repeated (playing with grandchildren). But, like the television show, time is like sand quickly running through the hourglass...hence 'the sands of time.'

Aging is a process that begins when we are born and it never slows or stops. It is the process where we learn our first steps, how to read and eventually set free by learning to drive! Then, when you reach a certain time in life, those things tend to reverse on us. My pace seems to be slower, the reading glasses are needed and leaving home is an effort now, and by all means lets be home by dark!! 

In looking at this past year particularly, I have found that I can travel, but God does not mandate it for me to be able to share His love. He can use us right where we are, whether traveling in a State Park and a ranger accepting Christ or a local neighbor critically ill needing someone to care.

When we retired, I wondered what would we do with our time! But, now I wonder how did we have time to work! If you let people know you are available and are willing to help, especially for free, you will stay busy. This gives us opportunity to share the love and hope only Christ gives. 

There is a fellow who volunteers with Samaritan's Purse. His name is Bruce and he is a humble man. Bruce volunteers to help wherever God leads him, but the reason he does is to share the love that Christ gives him. Bruce is like an overflowing cup that spills over and you just can't walk by him without it getting on you!

Did Bruce just all of a sudden realize that Jesus loved him enough that he could share it? No, I have personally watched Bruce start with the baby steps, then reading the Word and studying it, then being set free to 'share' the love of Christ! Since the first time I met Bruce, I knew God had a special plan for him. Bruce first tried to get ahead of God, but like a babe trying to 'run' those first steps, he fell down. But Bruce picked himself up and tried again, holding on to the hand of the Father this time. Step by step, he became stronger in Him until one day, I saw Bruce 'drive' and lead someone to Christ! 

When I get  to see someone like this, never giving up, but keeping on for Jesus, it encourages me. The 'sands of time' may pass, but if we are Christians knowing where we are going, the sands will never run out. So, my birthday today, is just my earthly birthday, a day to celebrate when I came into this world. My real birthday was the day I accepted Christ, in August of 1965. Since that day, I have been taking baby steps and learning to read about Jesus, learning more everyday.

Where are you? Are you like me and Bruce, growing everyday in Him? We all have to figure out where we are to 'serve,' but just holding on to the Hand helps us take those steps. Reach up to Him and hold on! It may be the best steps you have ever taken!! 

Jeremiah 29:11-12New International Version (NIV)

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Bus is Coming!

Early this morning, as I sat on our screened porch having my coffee, I could hear the children down the street playing and calling out to each other as they waited on the school bus. Some were laughing, others were bickering with each other about the game they were playing. Girls were singing a silly song and giggling. It was then I heard the hum of the motor as the bus came by and then, there was silence in the street. No more sounds of the children would be heard in our neighborhood until the end of the day. Happy silence....peace....sighs in some homes, as the bus pulled away, loneliness, sorrow, mixed emotions.

This early morning scene played in my mind as I continued to imagine the children, now with their friends, happily on their way to school for the day.

I have been seeing the news on every station, over and over about the Christians being chased out of, or killed, in their home country. My heart grieves for them, my prayers go up for them. 

Then we read all the comments in social media about the end of time. Are we seeing the End Time events unfolding before our eyes?

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV 

"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people." 

This is certainly what we see and hear on the news! However, we have peace in knowing that God is in control. My personal opinion: 'God gives man a choice to choose Him or deny Him. However, at the same time, God knows mans heart and knows all things. He knows who will choose Him and He knows who will deny Him.' Because of this belief, I believe there will come a day when someone shares the gospel or a person reads God's Word and the Holy Spirit speaks to that heart and that lost soul will accept Jesus Christ as their Savior....then God will say to the Son, "That's the last one, go bring the children home." Then, the skies will open up and the Son of God will come to gather the children home. time will this happen? The scriptures say 

Matthew 24:36 ESV 

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."

But, the secure part, for those of us who believe, is that day is coming. We can be assured of it, because it is promised over and over in the Bible. 

Matthew 24:44 ESV

"Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."

Matthew 24:42 

"Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."

It reminds me of the children, waiting on the school bus. Some were laughing, others were singing and then we had some bickering over foolish things.Isn't that the same way our world is today as we await the Savior? 

The same as the children, our 'bus' will come to pick us up and then the streets will be quiet. There will be silence? No, confusion....because the Christians will have gone to their final destination...they will not be coming home that afternoon. 

What do we need to do? Just as the children prepared to go to school, we need to prepare ourselves. We need to prepare our hearts, making sure we will be singing when He arrives, not bickering. 
The children packed their backpacks with books and papers. We need to pack our hearts with scripture and love. 

Listen, do I heard the bus cranking up? The motor may be humming our way soon, only the Father knows, but be ready! Don't miss the bus! 


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Stained and Sealed

We have been to the paint store looking at stain for our boat dock. I had no idea that marine seal was not all that was needed. In talking to the professionals, we found out that the wood needed 'restore' to bring it back to life before the stain or seal should be applied. The wood needs to be kept wet while the 'restore' is on the wood, so many details.

Then I moved on to the counter with the stains and sealers. You can get matte, gloss, semi-gloss and on and on. The clean up is either soap and water or solvent. What was next was the vast array of colors. Now it is time you understand that I hate making decisions. Starting with the light colors of the Color Gallery (I had no idea white came in so many hues!), I swiftly moved to the darker side of the spectrum. It was suggested we stay away from the reds, since they fade in the sun to various shades of pink or orange. 

Thinking and dreaming for days on the stains and repair, the word 'stain' itself kept lingering in my mind.  The cross then appeared in my mind, the blood that had dried and stained the wood. The wood that had not had been 'restored' and was now stained in red. 

Do you get this picture? Let's look at this a bit deeper:
The blood of Christ was (1) sacred blood. It was the blood of perfect man - the God Man. (Jn. 1:1,14), the lamb of God (Jn. 1:29). Since Christ alone was perfect God and perfect Man (Phil. 2:5-8), He alone was qualified to give His blood as the atonement for sin.

Christ's blood was also (2) sinless blood. His blood was like a lamb without spot or blemish (I Pet. 1:18-19). All other human blood has been tainted by the corruption of sin resulting from Adam's fall (Rom. 5:12, I Cor. 15:22), but the blood of Christ contained none of the sinful corruption which permeated all other humanity. When Judas Iscariot betrayed the Lord Jesus he knew that he was betraying "innocent blood" (Matt. 27:4). 

The wood of the cross had not been 'restored' and the blood was sinless. The wood was probably weathered and worn, like me, but the blood had no imperfections in it, no sin. It was the perfect blood of Christ and Him alone. He made a decision a long, long time ago, in the beginning of time to die for me. He did not hesitate like I have on staining a plain, old boat dock. My stain is imperfect, it has to be mixed and the wood needs to be restored and ready to receive it. 

This dock is so like my life, needing to be restored and made ready. I keep letting this battered world 'weather' me and have to be made 'new' in Him everyday. 

Thank you Lord for providing the 'stain' that is called the Blood of Christ that was shed for me. It will never need redoing in 5-8 years, it will last throughout eternity! Thank You for making that decision for me, so that all I needed to do was to say yes to You. 

Thank You for the renewing 'restore' that is always on standby when I mess up! Thank You for sealing me with the Blood!


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Should We Ever Move the Past Forward?

This past week we had an outing at our church which included southern BBQ and 50'-60's Doo Wop music. It was a fun time, listening to music that made Chubby Checker, the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly famous. Watching the swaying of shoulders and watching the faces of those that knew every word of the oldies. One elderly gentleman, in his late 80s, got up and 'shuffled' to the twist.The mind was drawn back into the day his body cooperated with the tunes. (No we don't usually 'dance' at our church, but this time, watching Bro. Ralph, it was a blessing)

As I thought about how natural this came to everyone sitting in the room, I realized how much we had listened to the radio many years ago. We were limited to the entertainment we had, we really didn't need to be selective. There was no need for parental controls! The twists and moves of Elvis was even edited and he was only viewed from the waist up by the television audience. (I don't even want to compare or mention what we see on television today!)

What happened? Why did we let it happen? 

I remember sitting in Sunday School and being told to read my Bible everyday. There was a little box on the card to check if you had done your 'daily Bible reading' that week. I probably checked that box, even though I had not opened my bible everyday. God forgive me. But, did NOT reading my bible daily cause the world to be where it is today? I am sure I did not help matters in the world, but more own life.

If we could go back, should we dig up the past, listen to the music and read our bibles? I think we could renew our lives by both of these things. For some reason, music does touch the soul. It doesn't matter what style of music you like, when you listen to your style it can touch you. It reaches down into the depths and draws you to a 'place' where it can speak to you. 

If we get back to the basics of reading our bibles and pay attention to what goes into our ears, we can be renewed. 

There is nothing wrong with letting the past move us forward, especially when it is growing us to a closer relationship with God. Stand up for your beliefs that are based on Truths and let's move forward together, growing in Him. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why Do We Do It?

When I was growing up, I loved adventure. I guess, being the youngest of two girls, I was a Daddy's girl and I was outside most of the time with him. He was always busy on the farm or tractors and he let me tag along. I was his 'Gopher'....go for this and go for that! But, we laughed a lot and I learned a lot, including the love of being outside. I still rather be outside any day, than inside (except in cold weather)!

This explains why today, I still love adventure. I love traveling to see things, even if it is just a ride down the river. The enjoyment of 'piddling,' as my husband calls it, is a joy to me, if it is outside. When I have inside chores to do, I want to get them completed early in the day, so if the opportunity comes up that takes me out into nature, I am ready. I am always ready to 'go' somewhere and do something. This is probably the reason we felt led to be with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. We were always ready to roll on a moments notice.

Look at your life. What do you enjoy doing? Why do we do what we do? Is it out of habit? Is it out of memories of growing up? Is it the environment where we were raised? Is it something that is learned or is it something that we naturally do?

It probably is a combination of all those things if we really look closely. Because if you think about your actions, probably not all of them are good things. Even Paul said, "For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. " Romans 7:15. (Holman)

But yet, in another thought, Jesus used the disciples in special ways because of their background and their talents. He used Matthew, who was a tax collector, to write about the episode of paying the taxes in Matthew 17. In the same scripture, he used Peter the fisherman, to get a hook and go catch a fish. In the fish's mouth was a coin to pay the taxes. 

In the same way, God uses our giftedness and talents for His glory. Everything we do and say should be to edify Him. Yes, I know I said 'everything' and I also know that we don't do that. That brings us back to Paul's statement in Romans 7:15, we do not practice what we want to do, but do what we hate, that which more than likely pleases ourselves. 

This is where we can grow, encouraging each other in our gifts and talents and to use them. We not only can grow ourselves when we encourage others, but that helps them to step up and out of their comfort zones to be used. 

This was on my heart this past week, to encourage you, the reader to step out in faith. Listen to the call of God on your life. It may be what you love to do already from the past and growing up as a child. Use whatever gift or talent God gave you and what you have learned. Do not let it go by the wayside, use it for Him. It is never to late in life to start giving back to Him. You can be a blessing to others when you serve in the Name of Jesus. 

We have friends that have just retired from their worldly careers and have stepped out in faith to serve. One friend, Tim, has left his family for the summer to volunteer and serve in Alaska for two months with Samaritan's Purse. Another couple, Glenn and Julia, are volunteering for a month in Alaska, to serve with Operation Heal Our Patriots. All this is in the Name of Jesus, giving Him their time and life this summer for others. When they get to heaven, I pray we can stand in line beside them to hear Jesus say to them, "Well done my good and faithful servants." 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Interested in Knowing Your Future?

When I was growing up, my cousin had a ball, that looked like an eight-ball, that you asked a question and flipped it over for the answer. The usual answers were 'reply hazy, try again,' 'Yes,' 'No,' 'Maybe.'
There may have been a few other answers inside on the cube, which floated in some oil, and would come to the top randomly. I always enjoyed playing with this ball, because I thought is could tell the future in some way. I was not dumb, I knew how it worked, but I liked to dream of what could be and what would happen in our day. So, on occasion, we would decide what game to play by using the ball. Monopoly? 'No.' Sorry? 'No' Rummy? 'Ask again later.' We often would just toss the ball aside and go outside with a shrug and ride our bikes.

People often seek for answers in mysterious places, not much different than the infamous ball. They sometime seek out soothsayers, reading of horoscopes, taro cards and crystal balls. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were with our son and his wife at a Cincinnati Craft and Art show. It was a beautiful day and they had some wonderful things in rows and rows of booths. As we walked the aisles looking at the homemade soaps and lotions made out of goat's milk, crafted wooden toys, art from driftwood and an array of other crafts, but one booth made me come to a total stop. It was set up with flowing scarfs, to get attention, and the sign said, "I will tell you your future." The thought came to my mind, "Wonder what she would tell me?" I know, without a doubt, it is not real, but wouldn't it be fun to 'play' with her? That is when the Holy Spirit that lives within me spoke up and said, "Don't play with the Devil." Whoa! I got a sick feeling in my stomach and moved on to the next booth, but the thoughts that had come into my mind remained.

Coming home, I shared the incident with my husband. He had not seen the booth, but knew of the evil that lurked. We discussed how easily people are swayed. If I had not listened, or not had the Spirit of God within me to speak, I may have very well played her game. Then, whatever she said to me would play on my mind and it may actually be made to come true by my actions.

But, I did have the Holy Spirit and discernment to stay clear of that booth and the evil that may have been there. I also have the truth and direction that is given to all people. The Word of God, the Bible, tells us the future of this world. It gives us guidelines for our lives, how to live to be productive for Him and fellow man.

Sure, I would like for God to send me the outline for my life, but thankfully He knows better. He knows that if I knew what was ahead, good or bad, that I may not be able to handle or take it all in. The blessing is knowing that God is in control and knows everything about me, my past, my present and my future and He loves me anyway.

Now whenever I am trying to make a decision and don't know what to do, instead of picking up a ball and asking a question, I pick up my bible and pray. Life doesn't have to be hard, especially if we have God in it.

One of my (many) favorite verses is:
Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

I know where I have been in my life, I know where I am, and I know where I am going, all because of the promises found in His word.

John 14:2-3 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."


Monday, June 23, 2014

River Runs with Peace

When we retired from our careers out in the world, my husband asked me where I would like to settle down. We had moved around the country alot, due to his job. Being a southern girl at heart, I longed for the south and the warmth. His one request...that it be on the water. 

We had always been ones to play on the water in our younger years. We had boats and both skied (very well I might add) and spent many miles running up and down the Tennessee river. 

This morning, as I sat on our screened porch having my coffee, I was just looking at the peacefulness of the water. There is just something about water that is relaxing and peaceful. God just filled my soul this morning as I shared that with Him. He showed me the glistening of the water, like diamonds reflecting back at me. Then ripples were made, as the little minnows were jumping from the larger fish underneath. Then the movement of the waters, as the wind blew across it, was mesmerizing.

All of this was in the quietness of the morning except for the singing and chirping of the birds. It was definitely a God moment. It made me think and wonder, "Why is the water so peaceful?" Even in the midst of a rain, I sometimes enjoy sitting on the porch, just to listen and smell the freshness of it.

All of it made me think of the river that runs in heaven. Revelation 22 is says " Having seen the holy city, John is now shown the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city." There is a river in heaven! This to me means eternity and peace!

Now in reality, the Coosa River that flows in our backyard is definitely not crystal clear. As a matter of fact, it is quiet muddy after a big rain. That is like our lives, all muddy. But in heaven we will have the purity and cleansing that comes from Christ.

It is hard for me to imagine, resting by the crystal clear waters, by the tree of life, and see it running down the center of the street of gold...right from the throne of God! Now that is really hard for me to think about and not get excited about heaven! 

But once more, I look out at the greenish water that flows past my home and can see a glimpse of God right here. 

If the waters here are providing only a glimpse of heaven and the peace therein, as dirty and dingy as they are, I will take it. I love spending my time outside in His creation. 

Knowing there is no comparison of the rivers, and my mind is not even close to being able to comprehend heaven, I think the flowing waters and the peace that I get here are just right for now.  Why? Because God's creation is enough for me, giving me the peace in Him.

Thinking of the beautiful song, I can let my burdens roll with the waves, I know without a doubt 'It is Well With my Soul.'

'When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul'

H.G. Spafford, 1873