Do you love me?

They looked to me for leadership, even though I did not want it – didn’t deserve it; however, He was gone and I had been the one to lead. Gone!  After three years of indescribable joy and happiness, now He was gone!

Those hours after his crucifixion were the lowest points of my life.  All hope was gone, and for me …I believe I would have killed myself if He had not kept me from it.  As much as I believed I would not deny Him and did, I believe just as much that I would  have taken my life but didn’t because of His power over my life.

Then He came to us, talked with us, ate with us, but once again He was gone.  What were we to do?  We sat and waited but nothing happened.  They looked to me.  What did they expect me to do!Copy (2) of IMG_3281

“I’m going fishing,” I said, and several agreed to go as well.

It felt so good to be doing something, anything, and fishing was our lives.  We knew how to fish, but that night’s efforts proved hopeless as well.  Nothing!  Not one fish seemed to be in the entire sea!

It was now morning.  The golden predawn light was growing all around us when we heard a voice telling us to cast our nets on the other side.  I looked at John – we both knew it was the Lord, or at least thought so; and even before we cast the net, we could sense that the fish were there.  The water seemed alive, as though every fish for several furlongs were swimming our way!

I looked up at Him standing there on the shore.  I knew it was Him and he was looking into my soul.  I had to go to Him – to get to Him as soon as possible.

As I stood before my Lord, the One whom I denied, I felt such hollowness in my heart.  We stared at one another, my eyes full of anguish, His full of love, but the others were there now and I turned to help them.  How could He love me now!

“Peter, do you love me?”  Three times He asked me – three times, and each time the words cut deeper into my heart.  How could I answer Him?  How could I even say the words? Would they be true?

“Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”  What else could I say?  He was looking into my heart, and as his words cut deeper into my soul, they cut away my wounds and shame and doubts and worries.  He was here, He would always be here, and He loved me!  Three times, and each phrase brought greater understanding of who He is and how deep His loving forgiveness goes.

Yes, I would feed His people.  I would shepherd them, and care for them, and lead them.  I then knew that I would even die for Him!

I often wonder why I denied Him.  I think back on that night as the lowest point of my life.  I had become so proud, working with Jesus, as though the work was mine!  He knew me, and He knew I trusted myself too much. That night, He showed me what I would do without His power, and I have vowed that I will never again lead my life.  My life is nothing!  He is everything!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  1 Peter 1:3-5

Draw Nigh to God

ID-10074372After the demise of our first rooster, we were “roosterless” for quite some time. As the months passed, a dear friend gave us another rooster; however by then, the hens were fully grown and our new rooster was just a banty rooster (which means he was small).  When we put him in the pen, the hens were none too pleased; and for a moment, we thought they would kill him.

I happened to be in the pen at the time and was wearing a long house-dress which came to my ankles. (At four feet eleven, that’s not unusual!)  As we all watched, wondering what to do, the rooster rushed under my dress and hid!

Eventually, he took his rightful place among the hens, but that picture came to my mind recently when my pastor read the following verse: Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. (James 4:8)  What an overwhelming thought: that God would draw nigh to me if I draw nigh to Him!  I can’t understand why He would do that, but I know He does!

Drawing nigh, perhaps even huddling under the shelter of His wing gives us such a joy, it is hard to describe; but I know that it is a place of great comfort, a shelter in the midst of a storm, my hiding place…Home, Sweet Home!

Just like that rooster, I know that I will find safety there.  Satan can do me no harm when I’m resting in the arms of my Heavenly Father, but to get there, I MUST draw nigh!  Then all the promises flow in.

One of my favorite songs is My God is Near by Mac Lynch.  The chorus goes:

When God is near, all the world seems far away,

When God is near, every fear is set aside.

When God is near, how can I stray, how can I falter?

I’ll stay upon the altar;  I know my God is near!

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Try it – He’s closer than you think; however, we do need to take a look at the rest of the verse: Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Is this a prerequisite for drawing nigh to God or is it a natural outcome of drawing nigh to God…or both? I’ll let you decide!

 http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Practice Makes Perfect!

ID-1009202I’ve taught piano lessons for nearly forty years, (I started teaching when I was two 🙂 )  and I’ve had all kind of students!  One of the most common statements that I hear is, “I played it perfect at home!”  One of the greatest blessings about teaching piano is knowing how many of those students are now serving the Lord with their talents!

There have been times whenI have had students that are really talented but they do not succeed because they do not have the discipline or heart to practice.  I have also had students with much less talent who have succeeded to the best of their abilities because they DO have the heart and discipline to make it happen.

It’s almost comical to me to see a student that hasn’t practice stumble through a piece.  I often have the feeling that they think they are fooling me into believing that they practiced!  It ain’t happening!

One of my favorite statements about lessons is this: You do not learn to play an instrument by taking lessons but by practicing!

To be honest, some lessons are real torture!  As I sit there week after week listening to music that shows little effort or improvement, I want to send them on their way!  If it continues too long, I will talk to the student first and say that it isn’t fair to waste my time or their parents’ finances to continue.  I hate doing that, but at times it is necessary.

Then there are the lessons that are pure joy!  Those students come in practiced and ready to go.  It’s like a musical journey that we walk together, working to improve what we have heard and enjoying the results of their hard work.  We become a team working towards the same goal and it’s exciting to both student and teacher.

I couldn’t help thinking about how much that relates to our Christian journey.  Oh, how O want what I have just described to be true of God and me – a team working together, enjoying the journey!  However, how often does God look down on my walk and endure my effortless wanderings and shallow excuses for not pressing towards the mark?  “But Lord, I just didn’t have time this week.  You know how busy I was.  I just didn’t have the time to read Your Word or time to talk to You in prayer or practice holiness.”

He listens patiently, knowing how much more we could accomplish if we would only have the heart and discipline to do so!  I know He doesn’t get discouraged because that’s a sin, but the example really hit home with me today!

So much to do, and so little time!  Do we apply that statement to the Lord’s work or ours?

Only one life, twill soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.” C.T. Studd

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

P-raise R A Y!

Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the acronym for the word PRAY: ID-10067842

P – Praise

R – Repent

A – Ask

Y – Yield

This morning, I woke from one of those dreams that  make you mad at your innocent husband. 🙂 Poor fellow – thankfully, I awoke first for a change, and by 5:15, I was out on the couch with my dark mood.

As I talked to the Lord and looked up at the stars, I wrestled with a thousand different burdens that seemed to jump the bandwagon of despair! But then I remembered this acronym – I had jumped right to the A – ask and was pouring out all my woes to Him when I should have started with praise.

It still amazes me how everything changed as soon as I chose to forget the worries and focus on all the goodness of our Great God!  What a wonderful time I had, and as the joy returned, I thought once again about this verse:

“...for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

No wonder Old Scratch is always trying to rob us of our joy!  It is our strength and he knows that we are weak when the joy is gone.  So, protect that joy!  Keep it well fed and watered by remembering all the blessing of the Lord as well as “casting all your cares upon him for he careth for you!” (1 Peter 5:7)  We all have trials and temptations, but focusing on them will only lead us down the dead-end street of defeat!

So, I would like to start the “Praise Ball” rolling by sharing a praise:

1. I praise the Lord for His healing power: on Monday I could hardly get out of bed, but this morning I took Pepper for a walk!

Who will be next?  Will you encourage others with your praises to the Lord?

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

I Never Knew You

829And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Matthew 7: 23

This is a very sobering statement.  It wields even more dread when we realize that it was said by our Loving Savior, Jesus Christ. Why would He say such a thing, and to whom was He giving this warning?

 This statement is near the end of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount.”  Jesus has given a string of wonderful truths to those who had gathered along the shoreline of the Galilean Sea.  Only one more statement will be made: the wise man builds his house upon a rock.

So, who was Jesus talking to?  To whom were these words meant?  If you are not familiar with the passage, you might answer that Jesus was talking to murderers or thieves; however, the preceding  verse says this:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?

 and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”

This crowd was preaching and teaching “in Jesus’ name.”  Not Buddha’s or Allah’s name, but Jesus’!  They had the power to cast out devils!  They did many wonderful works: perhaps they fed the poor, or built houses, or healed the sick, or held rock concerts “in Jesus’ name!”  But His conclusion was that He did not know them?

What must we do for Jesus to know us?  Does He know us because we say that we are Christians?  Does He know us because we call out to Him in our time of need?  Does He know us because we praise Him for His beautiful creation?  Does He know us because we prayed a prayer?

As I surf Facebook or scan the newspaper, I am frightened by what I see.  People who claim to know Him are doing strange things, ungodly things, and I must stop and wonder: does He know them?

A carpenter builds a railing for an elderly client. When the project is finished, he takes hold of the rail and shakes it to be certain of its integrity.  Will it hold the weight of the person who grasps it; will it withstand the test?

I do not write these things to shake your faith – to make you doubt; but I write them to encourage you to “shake your faith” and make certain it is true!  Will it withstand the test of eternal time?  Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone?  Is it real to you?

The most sacred day of the year is just around the corner. I urge you to make certain of your faith.  Is your faith placed squarely upon the shoulders of our crucified Lord?  Are you trusting in Him alone?

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing pow’r?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
Oh, be washed in the blood of the Lamb!

– Elisha A. Hoffman, 1878

Twelve Smooth Stones to be Published March 20!

twelvesmoothstones-1200x1600When I began this journey, everyone said it would take about two years to publish a book and they were right! Now the day is here and all I feel is numb!  Here’s the info:

You can visit www.kirkdalepress.com and find the book and an author bio there, or go directly to http://vyrso.com/product/30540/twelve-smooth-stones.  This is a pre-order – the book will be out on the twentieth of this month!

Thank you for your patience and support.  May you be more than just entertained by Esther’s story; may it encourage your walk with the same awesome God that directed her every step of the way, and to God be the glory!

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation…” Isaiah 61:10

Pip and Pop

ID-1005079Once upon a time there was a pipe named Pip.  He was not anything fancy – just a large metal pipe.  Pip lay at the foundry with the other pieces waiting for the day he would be useful.

One day, the men from the foundry loaded all the piping onto a truck. Pip was so excited.  “I wonder where we’re going,” he said to his nameless look-alikes.

“Who cares,” one said as the truck rolled out of the yard and onto the highway.

“Don’t any of you know anything,” said one pipe with an extra fitting on the end.  He was one of the “specials.”  They acted as if they were more important, but Pip knew that each piece needed to play its part well or none of them would amount to anything.

From his perch atop the truck, Pip could see for miles around.  “Wow, this is awesome!”

“Don’t get used to it,” one of the older pipes said.  “Where we’re going, you ain’t gonna see nothing!’

“That doesn’t matter, just so I can do my job,”

The special pipe snorted.

As the truck began to slow down, Pip strained to see where they were going.  They turned off the highway and onto a smaller road which twisted and curved through the mountains.  The sights were breathtaking.  Pip even saw deer and turkey along the way.  He sighed and smiled happily but said nothing.

Soon, the truck pulled alongside a wide path that led through the woods.  As far as Pip could see the path stretched across the field, through the woods and up over the mountains.  In the middle of the path was a long trench.  “My new home,” Pip nearly shouted.

All the other pipes laughed.

Pip was the first pipe to be laid and connected into the pipeline.  His partner was a much older pipe who had seen a lot.  “Well, hello Sonny,” Pop said as the men joined the two together.  “I’m glad you finally made it.”

“Me too,” Pip said, knowing that he had found a kindred pipe!

As the days past, Pip and Pop waited and watched, anxious to get started.  It rained on them.  The leaves fell about them and the air turned cold at night.  “Will we ever do our job,” Pip asked impatiently.

Pop laughed.  “Patience, Sonny.  Our day is coming.”  And sure enough, the day came when all the connections were made, and the dirt was placed over them.

“I’m as snug as a bug in a rug,” Pip exclaimed, “but my mouth is awfully dry.”

“It won’t be for long,” Pop said sleepily.  The warm dirt was making him drowsy.

And then it happened!  Pip could sense that something was coming.  He heard it and smelled it before the gas began to flow.  The sensation was beyond his wildest dreams!  “At last,” he shouted in complete joy.  It felt so good to be used.

He never again saw the bright blue sky or the darkness of the night sky pin-pricked with a million stars.  He had said goodbye to all the woodland creatures who had wandered his way.  No more rain.  No more sunsets. Only dirt, and the comfort of knowing he was being used.  For Pip, it was all he needed.

Little did he know that some of the liquid gold that passed through him had fueled the ambulance that drove a dying child to the hospital, enabling the doctors to save her life.  He never knew that some his cargo kept babies warm and their bottoms dry, and it put new color on Grandma’s walls.  It didn’t really matter – he just wanted to be useful.

Do you know that God made you and saved you to use you for a specific purpose?  It may just be to speak a kind word to a neighbor or the awesome task of raising a godly son or daughter. Service for the Master comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes but they all require a few things:

  1. Surrender of MY will and desires
  2. Perhaps a “shaving off” of some personal quirks that get in the way
  3. Patience
  4. Sometimes misunderstanding from other pipes!
  5. Time – there’s no such thing a convenient Christianity – that’s one of my favorite quotes.

You may not be appreciated or even noticed, but that kind of service is the most enjoyable!  God always sees and that’s all that matters!  And don’t forget that it’s His ministry, His power, His service, and His glory.  We’re just the pipeline!

How I praise Thee, precious Savior,
  That Thy love laid hold of me;
Thou hast saved and cleansed and filled me,
  That I might Thy channel be.

Channels only, blessed Master,
  But with all Thy wondrous grace,
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
    Every hour in every place.

Just a channel, full of blessing,
  To the thirsty hearts around;
To tell out Thy full salvation,
  All Thy loving message sound.

Emptied that Thou shouldest fill me,
  A clean vessel in Thine hand;
With no strength but as Thou givest
  Graciously with each command.

Source: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/h/268#ixzz2McrVtTbR

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Wabbit Huntin’

ID-10067769I took meself wabbit hunting this morning!  I didn’t have to look far!  Wow – the nice things about dust bunnies is that they run TO you and not away from you!

I’m trying to think of some spiritual lesson in all this, but “cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Bible! All I can think of is “… dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Genesis 3:19 If so, then there was a whole tribe evolving under my couches and the furniture looked like a dust-bunny hatchery!

Now, lest you think I’m a horrible housekeeper, I was cleaning our little cozy spot in the basement and we heat by wood.  Need I say more?  Hope you are having a wonderful day!

“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine….” Proverbs 17:22  

http://www.freedigitalphotos.net