Chosen

Mary visits ElizabethHave you ever wondered what Mary felt like as she received the amazing announcement concerning her future? I have, and the result is Chosen, a short story.  It is my Christmas gift to you, dear reader.  Thank you for stopping by, and taking the time to hit the like key AND even leave a comment! May this special season bring you new thoughts of wonder and understanding of our Awesome God!

You can find the story under “Short Stories,” or just click here!

Dost Thou Not Care?

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said,

Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?

bid her therefore that she help me.

Luke 10:40

 

“Dost thou not care?” The words still ring in my ear!

“Dost thou not care?” How could I have said such a thing

To the Holy Son of God; my Savior and Friend, so dear?

“Dost thou not care?” To the One who bore my sting!

 

“Dost thou not care?” It played over and over

Every time we met, I can hear them still:

“Dost thou not care?” Till my heart can bear it no more!

“Dost thou not care?” There on Calvary’s hill!

 

Oh, how He cares! Even in the rebuke He made,

His love showed clear, in His voice, in His eyes.

When He came once again, and we stood near the grave,

And we talked of my loss, of a brother’s last goodbye,

 

And I saw it afresh, as He stood there and wept.

How could I ever have thought less?

Oh, how He cared for each soul that He met.

Every word, look, and touch was love’s caress.

 

Oh, how He cares, and cares, and cares!

He cares with a perfect will and way,

His purpose for coming was to show that He cares!

Though I did not see it on that horrible day.

 

“Dost thou not care?” Though it plagues me still,

It serves as a goad to prod my sinful heart,

And turns my thoughts, my way, and my will:

To show His loving kindness and to do my part.

 

Dost thou not care–Oh yes! He cares!

That Good Part

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part,

which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10:42

That good part always involves people, not things. That good part stops to talk with the elderly church member who lives alone and craves fellowship more than you are craving food because the preacher went longer than usual.

That good part calls the stay-at-home mom who is overwhelmed with those active little tykes, instead of spending more time on facebook.

That good part stops to talk with the cashier and show concern for her day even, though your day is out-of-control crazy, running way behind schedule.

That good part takes a meal to a shut-in, joins the choir, cleans the church, sends a note a fellow follower, offers a hand at the next church gathering, takes a turn in the nursery.

And what is it that we are so busy about?  I am such an expert at this because I am guilty of all of the above!  Our lives are so jam-packed with activity!  Why do we even put porches on our houses anymore? Certainly not to sit out there and relax!

Thanksgiving is just around the corner.  This Monday morning, I have purposed to STOP after a wonderful, wild, weekend full of great, memory making activities, and read the Bible for ME!  As a pastor’s wife, it’s easy to fall into the trap of reading the Bible for others: preparing for the children’s church, or the Ladies’ Sunday school class, or the Wednesday evening Master Club class, or a blog! But this morning was for ME!  It wasn’t much because I need to get busy :), but my time in God’s Word was just enough to keep my perspective on this coming holiday season. I need that good part more than the others who may benefit from it.  My heart is filled with joy for serving my Master, and once again I revel at my spot at His feet.

It isn’t by accident that Chapter Ten of Luke begins with Jesus sending out the seventy, and includes the words: Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.(20)  How our hearts should, first of all, rejoice in that fact that we are God’s blood-washed children!

Scene Two in the chapter is the story of the Good Samaritan.  What a wonderful follow-up to the previous account of the seventy, lest we get too proud in thinking that we have the corner on the market of serving! the seventy did amazing things–the Samaritan chose that good part.

And then God, the Heavenly Author of this Wonderful Book, concludes the chapter with the story of Mary and Martha!  I love these two women! I always find myself coming to Martha’s defense; however, Jesus’ final words in the chapter are certainly the capstones of the entire chapter:

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

May you fill this entire holiday season with all those needful things, choosing that good part, and you will find that the joy, and understanding, and personal relationship with the God of the Universe and His Precious Son, shall not be taken away from YOU! Blessing to you all, and may your home and heart be filled with thankfulness!

The Undo Button

This is my favorite feature on my laptop, especially because I often accidentally brush the touchpad with my thumb which signals my computer to highlight and delete a portion of my writing!  How wonderful to be able to undo the unwanted action!

Oh, if I could only do the same with some of my words and actions: a harsh, critical word, a roll of the eyes, a Mr. Sticky sticky bun! What if we could just hit a button and the unwanted words and their affects would be gone, or the extra sugary calories would be eliminated from my system!  Sad to say, it doesn’t work that way; however, God does give us some advice!

Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.Ps 141:3

Here, the Psalmist is asking for help—asking the Lord to guard his mouth.  That’s a great way to start every day: make it an active part of your prayer time in the morning and throughout the day!  When you feel those nasty words building in the back of your mind, think of your lips as a beautiful door that the Lord has given you to send for blessings and not cursings.

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD,
my strength, and my redeemer.Ps 19:14

Here’s another “watch your words” verse, spoken straight from the heart of prayer.  If we ask for the LORD’s criteria for the words we speak—words that are acceptable in [His] sight–that will illuminate those “undo” moments of speech!

Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight. Pr 12:22

This verse happened to be a memory verse from last year’s Bible Club.  I can still hear the kids saying the word abomination!  It really made an impression on them and me!  It’s quite a strong word. Who wants to be abominable in God’s sight?  That thought alone sparks me to keep my words truthful.  Abomination or delight—seems like a no-brainer!

 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.Pr 4:23

And here’s the key: keeping our hearts—working hard at it—knowing that all the issues of life flow from the heart.  Backing up to the heart and making certain it is scrubbed clean with the word is the best antidote for keeping our words and actions clean as well.

The following three verses have been Club Verses for various children’s programs we have used over the years.  Somehow, just reading them in sequence seems to sum it all up!

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;
teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.Col. 3: 16
  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.1 Cor. 15: 58
…for one is your Master, even Christ. Matt. 23:10

There’s no “undo” button in the Christian life, but there is a “can-do” one!

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13

Ready, Set, WAIT!

IMG_7323Well, the last job is done for the winter—tilling the garden.  Dear old Tilly is out there now, purring away until the gas is gone.  A good wash and she gets to rest for the season.

The garden is ready, but for what?  It’s ready to rest; however, any seeds that are still in the ground are also ready to sprout as soon as the weather gets warmer.  Even while the snow is on the ground, that seed is ready—ready for the sun! The question is: Am I ready for the Son and His Word to sprout in my life?

It’s not by accident that the next few verses in Luke eight are about soil. The chapter starts with an account of Jesus and his followers going from town to town “preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” As though to encourage the sowers, Jesus tells the parable about the four soils: wayside, rocky, thorny, and good. Our responsibility is to give the Word.  There’s nothing wrong with the Seed—the Word of God, and there may be nothing wrong with the sower—YOU!  Doing a heart-check is always good to be sure that the Spirit has free reign and our motives are correct; however, it is also good for us to remember that the fruit of the hearer is NOT our responsibility.  I can no more make someone respond to the Word of God than I can make my tomato plants grow!  How comforting!

SOOO, what about when WE are the soil, we are the receiver of the Seed–what is our responsibility to the Seed of the Word?  The question becomes: Am I responding to God’s Word correctly?  1 Corinthians 15:58 gives us some pointers on the issue:

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

  1. Be steadfast—unwavering, unfaltering, resolute, persistent, committed, dedicated, unswerving, firm. (Aren’t synonyms helpful?)
  2. Unmovable—unaffected, unmoved, untouched, unbothered, unbending, inflexible, unyielding, unwavering, rigid, obdurate (that’s a new one to me!), adamant, unreceptive (INTERESTING!), unrelenting, not influenced or swayed
  3. Always abounding in the work of the Lord IS the fruit of always bounding in the Word of the Lord! Be ready. Even though you may be in a ‘winter’ time of fruitfulness, know that God is always working in your heart, your children, your ministry. Be ready!  Be set! Be willing to wait!

Just a Little Talk About Jesus

wwjdWWJD—What would Jesus do?  What a wonderful mantra. (By the way, that word ‘mantra’ means: in Hindu and Buddhist religious practice, a sacred word, chant, or sound that is repeated during meditation to facilitate spiritual power and transformation of consciousness.  Somehow, it doesn’t seem fitting to use it in reference to Jesus Christ!) HOWEVER, the idea is a good one: WWJD—repeat it before every move we make!

But at times it’s hard to translate out movements into that little four word phrase.  What exactly would Jesus do in this or that twenty-first century situation, and life becomes complicated.  I suppose that is why Luke 8 was so refreshing to me during my devotions the other day:

And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, Luke 8:1

What DID Jesus do:

  1. He went throughout every city and village

He walked from village to village—he went everywhere.  For me, that means I need to get out of my house, off the mountain and be out there!  In our world of technology, we can hide behind a computer screen or other electronic devise and never say a word to anyone! We fill the gas tank and never speak to a human. We check ourselves out at the store. We use the MAC machine!

  1. He SHOWED the “glad tidings of the kingdom of God

I love this phrase!  We have such Good News to tell!  Jesus died for our sins! We can live this life free of guilt and shame and worry!  Heaven is our future home and I live this life in the shadow of His wing, leaning on the Everlasting Arms of Jesus, only by His grace! What glad tidings!

And notice that He preached and showed the Good News or Gospel.  We are all “preaching.”  Like the children’s song says: Do you know, Oh Christian, You’re a Sermon in Shoes?  Our words preach. Our actions and reactions preach!  Our walk preaches much more than our talk preaches!  But, our words become the icing on the cake.  Proverbs 25:11 says:

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.

What a beautiful picture; and although his description is a little wordy, Adam Clarke describes it best:

Is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Is like the refreshing orange or beautiful citron, served up in open work or filigree baskets, made of silver. The Asiatics excel in filigree silver work. I have seen much of it, and it is exquisitely beautiful. The silver wire by which it is done they form into the appearance of numerous flowers; and though these wires are soldered everywhere at their junctions with each other, yet this is done with such delicacy and skill as to be scarcely perceptible. I have seen animals formed on this filigree work, with all their limbs, and every joint in its natural play. Fruit-baskets are made also in this way, and are exquisitely fine. The wise man seems to have this kind of work particularly in view; and the contrast of the golden yellow fruit in the exquisitely wrought silver basket, which may be all termed picture work, has a fine and pleasing effect upon the eye, as the contained fruit has upon the palate at an entertainment in a sultry climate. So the word spoken judiciously and opportunely is as much in its place, as the golden apples in the silver baskets.

What better words to give than a reference to our Savior.  You may not be used to saying such things.  Start small: Just a “Praise the Lord” or “Thank God” will get you into the habit of referencing your Savior in the market place or work place or even among friends and family.  Then a testimony of what God has done for you lately is another step leading to an opportunity to share how He saved your soul.

If you’re like me, it seems as though every topic under the sun is easier to talk about than our relationship with Christ.  Not so in the New Testament church. When Peter and John were taken before the Jewish council and commanded not to speak of Jesus they said: For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. (Acts 4:20) This literally means that they were “bubbling over” with the Gospel, like a pot on the stove—it was the natural thing to do!  That’s what I want!

Can you imagine the change that we would see in America if we started to “bubble over” with the Good News of God’s kingdom?  Speaking that word of witness is the most rewarding thing your can do for your soul!  If brings such joy!  It refreshes the spirit and strengthens the soul AND it really makes Old Scratch nervous.  Don’t you think he’s had enough victories in the lives of Christians?  If nothing else, at times the thought of defeating Satan is enough to drive me to speak or hand out a Gospel tract!  Sweet victory in Jesus!

How about a little taste?

BookCoverImage A MomentHere’s a little sample from ” A Moment in Time,”  if you would like just a sip!  Hopefully, you’ll find it’s “good to the last drop!”

Prologue

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump:

for the trumpet shall sound,

and the dead shall be raised incorruptible,

and we shall be changed.”

 1st Corinthians 15:52

Todd looked on as Carrie crumpled into a heap on the living room floor of her parent’s ranch style home—the only home she had ever known before going to college.

“No… no… NO,” she groaned.  “This can’t be happening.”

There had been an eerie foreboding when Todd and Carrie first heard the local fire company’s alarm sounding, and then the shrill sirens of police cars and ambulances explode all over the city. It seemed odd that so many accidents had happened on the way to her hometown.

“What’s wrong, Carrie,” Todd seemed hesitant to ask.  He had never seen her like this, and he had never been so afraid in all his life.

Carrie rocked back and forth, moaning as Todd knelt beside her. “What is it, babe,” he said as he stroked her hair and rubbed her back.

She looked up at him through mournful eyes. “They’re gone,” she whispered.

“I can see that,” he said almost impatiently. He needed some answers. “Do you think they’ll be back soon?” He watched as the torment turned to hysteria. She laughed as she threw her head back. She pushed him away and rose to walk to the door. She looked across the street as Mr. Baylor came from his house on the corner. He looked up at the sky, then down the street. Carrie quickly ducked behind the door and rolled her eyes.

“You would still be here.” She shook her head, “How many times did Dad witness to you?” she asked aloud but to herself.

Todd vacillated between being peeved that Carrie continued to shut him out and going crazy with the thought that the world was ending and she was losing her mind.

He came toward her, agitation in his voice, “Carrie, will you please tell me what is going on?”

She looked startled to see him, as though she was surprised to be coming back to a reality which included him. Her eyes darted from his face to the family portrait, to him then back to the picture. She sighed as though weighing which words to use. Would she finally tell him the truth about her family? Her gaze dropped to the floor. Another sigh…“The Rapture has taken place and my parents have gone to heaven.”

He looked at her in amazement. What was she saying?  What was she talking about? “The Rapture?” His look broke her heart and maddened her all at the same time. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“My parents are Christians. My dad is a pastor.”

He looked at her incredulously, shaking his head in disbelief and walked to the window. As his gaze traveled to the church beside them, he noticed the church’s signboard for the first time. Beneath the name: First Baptist Church was the pastor’s name: Pastor Charles E. Spangler.  Carrie Spangler. It made no sense. He turned to face her, questions written all over his face. “Are you a Christian?”

She rolled her eyes and huffed before spitting out her defiant answer. “No! If I were, then I wouldn’t be here.” Her thoughts flashed back to her fourth-grade classroom. Mrs. Beasley was standing before them, holding up an outdated picture. There were cars crashing and planes flying into buildings. A cemetery with ghost-like beings floating up into the air filled one bottom corner. The plane and the cars had the same beings floating up through the sky; and there above them all was The Man—Jesus was waiting with outstretched hands. Carrie dropped her hands in defeat, and stared into an empty spot on the wall.

Two New Pages

I’ve recently added two pages to my blog, and I thought I’d give you a “heads-up” concerning them!  I’ve really enjoyed writing the short stories on characters in the Bible.  You’ll find them under “Short Stories” above.  (I hope I’m not insulting your intelligence, but at times I can’t find my way around my own blog!)

“Why I Wrote “A Moment in Time'” talks about the verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 which contains the phrase “strong delusion,” and explains the doctrinal foundations on which the story is built.  Sound too deep?  Remember–I wrote it! :)

Paradise Promised” is about the thief on the cross who hears those wonderful words from our Lord: Today thou shalt be with me in paradise! What was his life like?  What had he done?  Obviously, we don’t know because the Bible doesn’t tell us; however, we can use our imaginations and perhaps see the cross from a totally different perspective–his!

Happy reading!

Why I Wrote “A Moment in Time”

BookCoverImage A MomentA Moment in Time is really the prequel to Angel of Light the second book it the Strong Delusion Trilogy. If you are familiar with what the Bible has to say about Jesus’ Second Coming, you will know that the phrase “strong delusion” is taken from 2 Thessalonians 2:11:

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion,

that they should believe a lie:

2 Thessalonians 2 deals with the details of Christ’s return and the appearance of Antichrist.  Many of the Thessalonians feared that Christ had already returned, and Paul writes to assure them that He had not returned, giving some insight into the scenario of our Lord’s return which still calms our hearts today and keeps us looking up!  So what does Paul tell them?

  1. He warns them to be careful of deception (v. 3)
  2. There will be a falling away before Jesus returns. (v.3)
  3. The Holy Spirit will be “taken out of the way.” (v.7)
  4. Antichrist will be revealed. (8.)
    1. He will be powered by Satan (9)
    2. He will perform signs and wonders. (9)
    3. The unsaved will be completely deceived (10)

Paul then mentions that God will send them, the unsaved, strong delusion, “that they should believe a lie.”  So all this takes place after Antichrist is revealed.  The final result concerning those “who believed not the truth” is stated in verse 12:

That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Who is Paul talking about?  He tells us: The people that didn’t believe the truth. In order to not believe, they had to have heard the truth of the Gospel and rejected it.  Paul even gives us the reasons that they rejected the truth: unrighteous or sinful pleasures.

Ever since I read the Left Behind series by Time LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, I have been burdened about the authors’ interpretation of these verses.  In their books, they clearly put forth the idea that people who heard the Gospel before the Rapture, but did not truly receive Christ, would have an opportunity to do so after the Rapture.  Many believe this doctrine.  But what if these verses say what it sounds like they say?  What if someone who is playing games, sitting in a church hanging onto a “profession” that he or she knows was not genuine, is living at the time of the Rapture?  What if a prayer was said that never changed the heart?  What if the decision was made for a logical reason: I don’t want to go to hell, but the truth never reached the heart to change the life?  I’m afraid they will suddenly find themselves caught in Satan’s web of deception and will not be able to get out!

We cannot see into someone’s heart.  My husband often says that there are only two people that truly know if a person is saved: that person and God.  It reminds me of Mary and the cloud of doubt that surrounded Jesus’ birth.  How many people truly believed that her conception was by the Holy Ghost? Surely even Joseph may have doubted, but Mary KNEW and so did God!

A Moment in Time is based upon the conclusion that someone who heard the Gospel but did not truly receive Christ will be impossibly deceived when the Holy Spirit is taken from the earth at the time of the Rapture, and in His place, the spirit of Antichrist will pervade the earth. So much so, that they will not be saved.

Are you concerned about someone whose profession does not seem genuine?  Perhaps A Moment in Time could be a help to bring the truth to light.  Throughout the book, Carrie Spangler, the pastor’s daughter, convinces herself that she truly is saved.  At first, she KNOWS that she didn’t mean what she prayed.  The circumstances surrounding her conversion were completely man-led not Spirit-led. But as time passes, the lie solidifies in her mind.  Her life is a lie because of the “pleasures of unrighteousness” that have taken hold of her life.

Is Carrie a bad girl?  Not really.  She reminds me of so many of our young people in our churches today! She is playing a deadly game.

My prayer is that God will use A Moment in Time to open the eyes of anyone who is deceived, before it is too late! Take a look at the book and tell me what you think!

 

 

Jesus is Coming!

I’m excited to introduce my next book: A Moment in Time, Book One of the Strong Delusion Trilogy. Many are asking, “Is Jesus coming soon?”  I’d love to say, “Yes!” Certainly the signs of the times seem to appear in every newspaper, and many of the necessary events are already in place for Him to return; however, God is not on our timetable–we’re on His!

But what if He did return today?  Would you be caught by surprise?  Would there be issues in your life that you would have wished to change before He returned?  Are you even ready to meet Him face to face?

All these questions went into the writing of the Strong Delusion Trilogy. To be quite honest, I’ve always been the kind of believer that didn’t pay much attention to the End Times.  I’m not going to be here, so I didn’t really care what happened. (Shame on me!!) Perhaps that is the reason why the Lord laid this topic on my heart!  After writing these books I can say more than ever, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20)

The following is the synopsis from the cover:

BookCoverImage A MomentJESUS IS COMING!  She had heard it all her life, she just didn’t believe that He would come during her lifetime…but He did.

Carrie Spangler had made a profession of faith in elementary school; but even at the time, she knew it was not genuine and Satan uses every opportunity to continue the deception, including Matthew Hanks!

Todd Jenson has always longed to know God but has never had the opportunity to do so.  When he meets Carrie at SUNY’s New Paltz campus, he is drawn to her; and when “fate” literally drops her into his lap, he couldn’t be happier. She is a mystery to him as she keeps any information about her background from him; and when he finally takes her home to ask for her hand in marriage, her parents are gone!

As they begin their marriage at the start of the Tribulation, will they be able to survive; and will their marriage breach the differences that steadily grows between them?