Beauty for Ashes

There are so many lessons to be learned in the garden.  I’d say we all have a bit of the farmer in us – who doesn’t like to see things grow?  And even if you don’t have any desire to develop your green thumb, it would be worth it to allow your kids to have a small plot somewhere in the back yard.  The lessons in diligence, persistence, and rewards are invaluable; and it will teach them how to work!  AND if you really want to teach them patience – plant carrots!

We had a late start with the garden because of Tilly’s time away in the shop, so when I planted the onions, lettuce, corn and beans, I left three rows for the tomatoes; however, later, when I started planting the tomato plants, I dug up a corn kernel!  Inadvertently, I had planted one row of tomatoes in the same row of corn/beans! DUMB!!  How can I be so stupid?!  (Actually, for me it’s rather easy!)  Now what?  Really, there was nothing to do but wait until the beans and corn showed up.

When they did, I noticed that in the other three rows, some of the seeds hadn’t sprouted, so I dug up the little plants and placed them in the empty spots.

And isn’t that just like our dear Heavenly Father?  He takes our mistakes and makes them profitable to us!  Doesn’t He promise “beauty for ashes?”  (Isaiah 61:3)  While we’re kicking ourselves for making such foolish mistakes, God has already planned how He will use our “mistakes” to show us another wonderful little facet of His great design.

So many lessons!  Doesn’t it just make you want to go out and dig?! 🙂

 “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion,
to give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
that they might be called trees of righteousness,
the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Isaiah 61:3

Hang on!!

And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him,
Master, carest thou not that we perish?
IMG_6783And he arose, and rebuked the wind,
and said unto the sea,
Peace, be still.
And the wind ceased,
and there was a great calm.
 And he said unto them,
Why are ye so fearful?
how is it that ye have no faith?
And they feared exceedingly,
and said one to another,
What manner of man is this,
that even the wind and the sea obey him?
Mark 4: 3-417

Years ago, I saw a picture of this verse and loved it so much that my husband surprised me with it months later for Christmas.  It illustrates the sea at both ends of the verse: The left side portrays the waters calming and the right side shows the dark clouds, angry waves, and flashing lightening.  In between them is a small first-century fishing boat being tossed by the waves; however, in the boat among the frightened disciples, is Jesus: arms raised, telling the storm to cease.  And it does.  The picture loudly proclaims in word and picture: Peace, Be Still, often just the reminder that I need for the day!

Are your days filled with tempestuous waves?  Does it seem as though life is a constant storm?  Life is not easy: it never has been and never will be until we see Jesus face to face!  Oh that will be glory for me!  But today, financial weights drag us down, conflicts in relationships toss loads of water into our little boats, children stress our nautical structures with their bent for the world.  At times, we truly feel like those disciples and ask, “Lord, we’re perishing!  Don’t you care?!”

Of course, we do know that He cares – in our heads; however, there are times when we don’t feel it in our hearts.  Isn’t that strange!  Our hearts are the very place where Jesus dwells!  He’s there!  Always there!  His Spirit never leaves us.  That’s His promise! (Hebrews 13:5b … for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)

Jesus is in my boat!  I can’t sink!  There is NOTHING that can sink my boat!

Though the angry surges roll
On my tempest driven soul,
I am peaceful, for I know,
Wildly though the winds may blow,
I’ve an anchor safe and sure,
That can evermore endure.

And it holds, my anchor holds:
Blow your wildest, then, O gale,
On my bark so small and frail;
By His grace I shall not fail,
For my anchor holds, my anchor holds.

Mighty tides about me sweep,
Perils lurk within the deep,
Angry clouds o’ershade the sky,
And the tempest rises high;
Still I stand the tempest’s shock,
For my anchor grips the rock.

I can feel the anchor fast
As I meet each sudden blast,
And the cable, though unseen,
Bears the heavy strain between;
Through the storm I safely ride,
Till the turning of the tide.

Troubles almost ’whelm the soul;
Griefs like billows o’er me roll;
Tempters seek to lure astray;
Storms obscure the light of day:
But in Christ I can be bold,
I’ve an anchor that shall hold.

~Daniel B. Towner

I hope you took the time to read all the verses. We don’t often sing all of them, but notice that each one starts with a description of the tempest and ends with the promised security in Jesus, our Lord.  Truly, we can be just assured and shocked as the disciples when (not if) the Lord rebukes the winds and tells the waves to cease…and they do!  So, just hang on and ride that thing!!

King for a Day

What would you do if you were king or queen for a day? This was the question which was posed to us in Sunday School as we study Ecclesiastes.  Wow!  The answers are endless!  My first thought was political: I’d outlaw abortion forever!  Or I’d pay off our country’s multi-trillion dollar debt! (seventeen to be exact and adding 326 billion to it every day!  That’s enough to give me a heart-attack!)

Then I thought a little more selfishly.  I’d buy an island, or a beach house in Virginia, a cabin in Maine and a castle in England!  I’d travel the world! (That would be hard to do in one day!)

But then, I thought about the spiritual needs of my family, and I thought I’d ask that their hearts would pant hard after God, that all my grandchildren would be saved and love the Lord, that our church folks would all be on fire for God…

And that’s when it hit me: It wouldn’t matter if I was the king of this whole world, had all the money and power and prestige this world could offer – none of that would improve my standing with God!!!!  That is an amazing thought!  The poorest pauper on the streets of New York City has as much power with God as the richest man on 5th avenue!  A kindergartner can talk to God with as much effect as a lawyer on Wall Street (maybe more!:))

I hope that thought is a blessing to you. Know your heavenly Father, love Him, talk to Him, and listen to Him – it will change your life.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;  That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.  John 17: 20-23

Deadly Shortcut at the PA Grand Canyon

As we headed to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon with our evangelist friends, I was once again reminded of another visit there.  Although our canyon is nothing compared to the “real” Grand Canyon, it is still quite a site.  The deep gorge carved by the Pine Creek over billions and billions of years (just wanted to see if you were really paying attention!), and the view from the top of the gorge is truly breathtaking.  A four-mile round trip path called the Turkey Path literally zigzags its way to the bottom and trails a lovely waterfall as well.

In my teen years, while hiking back up the canyon, my friend and I decided to cut straight up and spare ourselves from some of the zigs and zags.  This was not a problem for two of the shortcuts; however, the third shortcut missed the next bend in the path and instead led us out into uncharted territory!  We found ourselves rock-climbing instead of hiking and I was really scared!  Looking straight down into the yawning mouth of that canyon made my heart stop and my arms and legs shake! Obviously, I did not die, but that incident is forever etched into my memory!

Shortcuts – who wants to waste time in our day of counted seconds?  EVERYTHING takes time, so we find ourselves reviewing the times tables with the kids on the way to soccer practice; or making that much needed return call while driving.  We fold laundry while watching TV, and keep our minds humming while doing those mundane tasks throughout the day; and then, we wonder why it’s so hard to turn off our brains when our heads finally hit the pillow!

Artisans see this world in a totally different way because they KNOW that a masterpiece cannot be rushed!  It takes time to sculpt a figure or paint a landscape or write a book! 🙂  Patience has been learned and past shortcuts have resulted in now understood failures!

My hiking shortcut could have cost me my physical life; and when I cut short my time with the Lord, it will also cost me my spiritual life!  We will not grow in our spiritual walk without that quiet time!  Is that perhaps why Satan fights us so to keep are triste with God? Oh, how well he knows the destruction which little or no Bible reading will produce.  Here are just a few:  WARNING, the following statements may break your heart

  1. A destroyed marriage. Marriage is so hard.  How in the world anyone can accomplish a successful marriage without a lot of prayer and Bible is beyond me!  You may say, “Well, I see a lot of successful marriages and the couple aren’t even Christians.”  Duh!  They do not have YOUR enemy!
  2. Wayward children. Is there any greater heartache for a mom or dad?  I am truly convinced that our children CAN turn out loving the Lord if we set that example before them; but why would they love the Lord if our lives are reflecting our love for this world’s treasures and counterfeits?  Sadly, we are reaping what we are sowing.
  3. Lost loved ones. Our poor testimony is convincing our unsaved friends and families that they are doing just fine without salvation!
  4. Sadness and discontent. There is nothing sadder than a worldly Christian.  He can’t be happy in the world, because his conscience won’t let him alone; and he can’t be happy with Christians because he can’t relate to them.
  5. Depression, stress, sickness… Will we ever know all of the ramifications resulting from a lack of Bible time? Not until we see Jesus.

HOW TO STUDY THE BIBLE:

  • PRAY – Every time – EVERY TIME, I ask the Lord to show me what He wants me to see, He DOES! It is so awesome.  This morning, I could hardly contain myself, and I didn’t read much, but Oh, was it good!
  • Your best friend is a good study Bible: Life Application Bible, Scofield Study Bible, Thompson Chain – these are my favorites, but there are others
  • Matthew Henry Concise Commentary – you can get this for $1.99 on a kindle. Again, there are lots of commentaries. MH is my personal favorite! (Also a dictionary.  I have Matthew Henry, the Bible, and a dictionary on my kindle, so if I come to a difficult word and I’m not sure of its meaning, I just put the cursor in front of the word, and BINGO: the definition comes up! [Know that’s not much help for you less “techie” folk.  Sorry!])
  • PEN AND NOTE BOOK – write, write, write. You don’t have to be a writer to do this. 🙂  Start by just looking for one verse that really speaks to you and write it down.  You could also write your thoughts about it, or write a short prayer. I’m not sure why writing it down helps so much, it just does; I’m sure an educator could give you the reason.

Take a shortcut on your walk, or your other reading, or your facebook time, or your shopping.  Let the laundry go for a half hour.  It will still be there! Read your Bible.  Our kids and our world are dying for a lack of it in our lives, dear Christian!  And you are dying too.  It’s like cancer – so often, you don’t see the affects until it is too late.

 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips;

I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food. Job 23:12