Category Archives: Praising God

f-f-F-Fanksgiving!

“I wuv Fanksgiving,”
“Why,” I asked.
“Because I get to eat wots of food and there’s wots of people at our house.”

There you have it! I can relate to this little fellow.  I wuv Fanksgiving too.  It has always been one of my favorite holidays, mainly because it has been spared from all the hype that is poured upon so many of our other special days—so much so that the original intent of the celebration often gets clouded over by the glitter and the “gimmies.” But as I thought about past Thanksgivings and what makes the day so special, I came up with three main ingredients:

1.       Food—as I taught music in an elementary school this past Monday and all the songs were centered around the upcoming holiday; I asked the students why the day was so wonderful. “I get to eat and eat until I’m stuffed,” was on reply.  He is right! Most of our tables will be overflowing with good things to eat.  That’s a real treat for any child, no matter how old! What a wonderful way to celebrate our thankfulness.
.2.       Family—this treasure is even more of a blessing than a bountiful table. In fact, David tells us: “Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, Than a fatted calf with hatred” (Proverbs 15:17). How blessed we are to be able to share our table with family and friends—another reason to give thanks!
3.       Faith—I couldn’t help asking the students: Who were the Pilgrims being thankful to? I was pleasantly surprised to hear many of them say, “God.” As born-again believers, we have the greatest gift of all: salvation! And with that treasure come an anchor, a high tower, a shield…a Heavenly Father! Oh, the blessings of having faith in a Provider of all things, both good and evil. What joy to be able to trust in the Hand that guides our lives. Who do we thank if we do not look beyond ourselves for our blessings?
If you are blessed with these three gifts, then you truly have so much to be thankful for! And if not, as a believer, you may be facing one of the hardest “trust” times of your life! Even in the darkest hour, are we able to find something to be thankful for? Happy Thanksgiving! 

Psalm 27:10 When my father and my mother forsake me,

then the LORD will take me up.

It’s a Wonderful Normal

 

selective focus photo of person holding book
Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

Are you one of the fortunate ones, one of the blessed? I am, and I am so glad! My wonderful normal is that on Sunday morning you will find me in church. It has always been my normal and I thank God for a mom that made sure that our family was in church. It wasn’t until I was in 1st grade that my dad started coming with us.  In fact, my mom tells me that there was an Easter morning that my dad plowed his fields. I don’t remember.  All I remember is our family sitting in church together. Oh, what wonderful memories, what a wonderful normal!

That normal has had such wonderful ramifications:

  • The habit was developed early
  • The habit was passed down to the next generations
  • And the next generation
  • I am well-fed in the Bible
  • I love church!
  • I have the privilege of serving Jesus every Sunday! (In fact, I was going to write a blog about the fact that one Sunday my skirt was on inside out and this Sunday my shirt was on backward! Why don’t I notice these things? I’d like to think it’s because I’m thinking about playing the piano or organ, or the special music, or the offertory, or the Sunday school lesson! 🙂 At least it sounds good!)
  • My church are my extended family.  I know they pray for me. How wonderful to have a network of people who share each other’s burdens. BUT, you really need to BE THERE for that to happen.

Attending church on Sunday has been a long-standing tradition as you can see in the following verses. If this is your wonderful normal thank the one who makes it possible and then thank the One that makes all things possible. AND, if it is not your wonderful normal… it can be!  How wonderful is that?!!

At the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher. Matthew 28:1 

 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. John 20:19

 And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, Acts 20:7

 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. 1Corinthians 16:2

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. Hebrews 10: 25 

Upside-down Lunch

68039351-480pxWhat a life! The Nuthatch comes to my feeder, selects his lunch (or in this case, breakfast) and swoops to the trunk of a nearby tree. He then faces downward and starts cracking the nut, pinning against the tree. Over and over again, he comes and repeats the exact same habit, except perhaps to eat at another tree.

Why does he do that? Why does he face downward? How would you like to stand upside-down and eat? No thank you! Perhaps he does it to keep the crumbs out of his nose! That may be a byproduct of his habit but mostly he does it because that is how God made him.

Birds are amazing creatures. They certainly are creatures of habit! I remember one poor mother birth that had made her nest in a break in the soffit near our kitchen window. When we fixed it, she came the following spring and was all “kerfoodled.” She sat on the edge of the porch looking with confusion at the place she had always built. Poor birdie!

What circumstance has God put you in that is not comfortable? Are you facing life with a handicap? Is it difficult for you to go home at night and face the challenges awaiting you there? Or perhaps life is just not what you expected it to be?

As born-again believers we have a great “secret ingredient” for life—we have the power of God! Wow! When we apply it to life, peace comes into our hearts! The circumstances may not change, the challenges are still waiting, but we face them with our dearest Friend who holds all the answers we will ever need.  The question is, are we listening? Are we examining our hearts to see if there’s something that God wants to teach us? When our slate is clean, our sins are forgiven, and our will is yielded to our heavenly Father, we can face life—even if we need to do it upside-down.

1Corinthians 2:16 … But we have the mind of Christ.

Colossians1:27 … Christ in you, the hope of glory

Bustin’ Buttons Proud

music piano keyboard white
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

His hands glide gracefully over the keys producing more than just music—he makes the nine-foot Steinway sing, somehow transferring the message of his own heart and that of the composer’s into a delightful banquet of sounds—dark and foreboding one minute, and then an explosion of light the next. The music bursts forth with images of the pounding tide and then drops off into a gentle lullaby.

It’s more than just major or minor, melody and harmony, allegro and largo—it is heart and soul poured out through the keys, it is touch and tone flashing colors into the air, shouting and whispering, sobbing and laughing out the message.

I dare you to sit here and listen unmoved! Yes, he’s my son. Yes, I love music, and that certainly enhances this fine hour, but he is more than just my son—he is a passionate master of his trade, wielding this grand instrument with the skill of the expert he has become. He has honed his God-given abilities until his music pours forth like liquid gold, expressing with the greatest finesse all that each composer, from Bach to Ravel, has been inspired to preserve through ink and paper.  Music—such a simple term for this complex blend of composer, performer, and audience.

Am I proud? Painfully so! I thank God for my son and the musician he is, but that will never come close to the pride and joy I hold in my heart for his diligence to become the young man, husband, and father that God has created him to be.

 

Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight. Psalm 144:1

Weak Greeks

wonder woman.jpgI watched “Wonder Woman” the other night at our daughter’s suggestion.  I had seen some of the other Marvel movies, so I knew what to expect. Although they are not my favorite type of movie, the ending made it worth watching.  Granted, all the Greek gods get on my nerves, but then they made me think about our one true God. Consider these comparisons:

  • Zeus is just a puppet god, a myth. He supposedly dies somewhere in the past as mentioned at the start of “Wonder Woman.” Our almighty Father is from everlasting to everlasting. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting (Habakkuk 3:2).
  • Zeus’ powers are limited, but Jehovah is omnipotent. God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God (Psalm 62:11).
  • Zeus lived on Mount Olympus and visited the people of earth, but our God is omnipresent. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else (Deuteronomy 4:39).
  • Zeus made mistakes. Our God is perfect. He knows everything. Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite (Psalm 147:5). Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:13).

According to “Wonder Woman” folklore, Zeus created man and Ares, his son—the god of war—is out to destroy man, believing that Zeus’ creation was a big mistake. As I listened to these statements, first, I was saddened to think that some folks watch these things and think, “Hey, why not!  Maybe that’s really how it happened!” Then, I think about the truth of the scriptures, that our Jehovah, God Almighty, did create man in His own image.  He did create Satan as a glorious being whose pride caused him to fall from heaven as well as from God’s grace. On this account, there are parallels between Greek mythology and the truth of the Bible. Our enemy is still trying to destroy us!

But two amazing facts just brightened my morning!

  1. Our loving, gracious, all-knowing, all-loving heavenly Father witnessed the fall and provided His only begotten (not made) Son as the ultimate sacrifice for man’s sin. AMAZING! Greek gods don’t do that!
  2. This one true God not only sent His Son, the perfect lamb, to die for our sins conquering death by rising from the dead, but His Spirit dwells in our hearts when we accept His gift of salvation. That wonderful fact—God dwelling in me—gives me an unshakeable, unbreakable, power in my life! Satan may load us down with all kinds of discouragements, accusations, temptations, and failures, but the power that lives within our hearts CANNOT FAIL US! I don’t know about you, but I think I need to go get a hanky and jump on my bed at that thought!!! Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world (1John 4:4).

I don’t think I can express the impact that this thought has had on my life. There are no words to describe it.  I cannot even comprehend it! As I watched Wonder Woman pick up tanks and hurl them at Ares, and he tries to destroy her with his electrical thunderbolts, I laughed.  “Ha!  That’s nothing compared to my God—the God which lives in me!” Can you imagine if we allowed that power to have complete rule in our lives what the result would be? Suffice it to say, Satan cannot win!  He can make this life difficult, but our God is no weak god! He knows all, sees all, plans it all! Hallelujah! Just had to share it!

 Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,

whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy. Psalm 107:2

Seriously? A Big Bang?

partial-solar-eclipse-cloudsAfter watching the 80% partial solar eclipse in our area, I stand in total amazement at the awesomeness of our almighty Creator. His amazing exactness continues to overwhelm me! For example:

  • First of all, the earth is the exact distance from the sun to keep us from being cooked or freezing.
  • The moon is the exact distance from us or just the right size—take your pick—so that it covers the sun perfectly in a solar eclipse.
  • The moon’s axis rotation matches its orbital path around us so that we always see the same side of the moon. (It would be like one person circling another person while always facing him.)

It’s beyond my imagination to understand how anyone could believe that a Big Bang could be that smart?

What an awesome God we serve! He certainly displayed His Majesty today!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

Tracks in the Snow

Pepper, our eleven-year-old black Cocker Spaniel is my walking partner. In any other season, she is also my protector. It’s a comfort to have her along as I walk back our country road when bears are lurking about. I’m not sure how I think she would protect me, but it’s a mental mirage that I have.1214160820

Recently, we had a beautiful, fluffy snowfall and I knew we needed to walk. The morning was picture perfect: blue sky, nip in the air, and chilly temperature. The snow was clinging to every branch and weed. This one was really doing its part!

When we reached the end of our road, storm clouds were gathering in the west, but the sun was still shining in the eastern dawn. The effect was stunning:1214160821c

It’s such a peaceful spot, and I couldn’t help put praise God for the beauty of His creation and His loving kindness in allowing me to be here.

On our way home, I happened to notice our tracks. I’ve noticed this before as Pepper tugs at her leash, nose to the ground, dashing to and fro!

 

1214160822We leave two very different sets of tracks. While on our walks, mine are the straight and steady ones. Hers zigzag back and forth across the road! But I have to wonder if my “life” tracks are more like hers as I zigzag back and forth on little rabbit trails of life. I can so easily be sidetracked off of God’s purpose for my life! Does my heavenly Father look down and wonder at my trail? As I tug against the restraints that He has graciously put upon my life—safeguards against disaster—does He tire of my tugs? No, never. What an amazing, loving God we serve! His patience is incomprehensible!

One of my goals for 2017 is to “keep in the middle of the road.” Our church men sing this African-American Spiritual every so often. Its message is clear—as clear as tracks in the snow!1214160823

Children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right
Don’t you look to the left
Just keep in the middle of the road.

I hear those angels a calling loud
Keep in the middle of the road
They’s a standin’ there in a great big crowd
Keep in the middle of the road.

Chorus:
Then children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right
Don’t you look to the left
Just keep in the middle of the road
In the middle of the road
In the middle of the road.

I can see them standing around a big white gate
We must travel along before it gets too late
For it ain’t no use for to sit down and wait
Just keep in the middle of the road.

I ain’t got time for to stop and talk
Keep in the middle of the road
‘Cause the road is long and it’s hard for to walk
Keep in the middle of the road.

I’ll fix my eye on the golden stair
And I’ll keep on a goin’ till I get there
Cause my head am bound that crown for to wear
Just keep in the middle of the road.

When your feet get tired and your song don’t sing
Don’t look at the world full of sinful things
Don’t lay down in the road for to die
Put on your wings and get up and fly.

 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13,14

Zombies – The Walking Dead

heartbeat-clipart-clipart-best-amaeun-clipartPeople often ask if a physical heart transplant will change a person’s personality.  You’ll have to look elsewhere for that answer. Recently, we watched a show about a man who was a hired killer for a mob family. He was ruthless; so much so, that people said that he had no heart. After being in a car accident, this man would have died without a heart transplant. Because his boss was so powerful, he got the transplant quickly, but later he found out that the heart came from a young man who was known for his good deeds: serving at a soup kitchen and helping the homeless. After the heart transplant, the hired killer truly had a change of heart, nearly dying for the innocent witnesses whom he had relocated to a hidden location but now was ordered to kill by the mob family. For him, knowing the goodness of the donor profoundly impacted his life. Nice story.

While thinking about the plot, I couldn’t help thinking about our spiritual heart transplants and the parallels between the physical and spiritual.

  • Physical death is imminent without a heart transplant. People die every day waiting for a new heart, but to receive a new one, someone must die. For a born-again believer to receive a “new heart,” Someone had to die as well; and without a spiritual “new heart,” eternal death is imminent. In fact, before salvation, we are “dead in our trespasses.”

And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1

  • The life of a heart transplant recipient is forever changed. Perhaps they were homebound, on oxygen, or in a wheelchair. But after the transplant, they literally receive a new life, and the change is evident to anyone who knew them before the operation. As believers, we too walk in “newness of life,” and the change is so real that acquaintances may ask, “What happened to you? You’ve changed!”

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:

that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,

even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

  • Knowing our Donor—His goodness, inconceivable love for us, His amazing power and grace—should have a great impact on our lives.

The heart is an essential organ—you can’t live without a heart. Spiritually, we cannot live without a “new heart” in Christ; however, salvation is even more than that. As much as a new physical heart enables a person to live, a new spiritual heart means that what was NOT there before now rules and reigns in our lives: the Holy Spirit! The lives we lived before salvation are, or should be, completely different from the lives we live with Christ. In fact, the change should be as amazingly obvious as the difference between a live and dead person! Like the song says:

There’s been a great GREAT change CHANGE since I’ve been born again.

New life in Christ. As much as a person can understand that he would have died without the physical heart transplant, we must realize that the same is true for us without a new heart. Hallelujah!  What a Savior! Have you gotten a new lease on life? OR does your life look more like a zombie—the walking dead?

And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you;

and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh.

 Ezekiel 11:19

My Daughters, My Treasures

 

This past week, we visited our son and his wife AND our youngest grandson, Caleb—our Christmas baby! While there, I began working on a little booklet which is a compilation of Matthew Henry’s notes on Proverbs 31.

As I was reading and copying and pasting and organizing the information into a booklet, my daughter-in-law was busy sewing.  She has her own business (EverythingSewn91) and has been very successful. But that success did not just happen! She spent HOURS researching, preparing, and working diligently to put together a top notch website AND producing high-quality custom baby bedding, and the Lord has blessed her efforts. Did I say that she works hard? Her hands are never still! She cares for our grandson and her home and our son, and seems to do it effortlessly! She is a Proverbs 31 woman!

Way out in South Dakota, on the lonely prairie plains (not really, but it sounded so poetical!) lives our son and my other daughter-in-law AND three more grandchildren. There is a blog post in me somewhere on the challenges that I’ve worked through I’m working through, dealing with family so far from home. She is caring for our three grandchildren, homeschooling their oldest, and working hard had just staying afloat with three very active sweethearts! Plus, she’s expecting our seventh grandchild!  Oh, yes, and our son is working crazy hours, which means she spends LONG days in a two bedroom apartment! I’m praying hard for them as they head into winter. A home is in the near future, but right now, they’re working hard to make that happen. She is a Proverbs 31 woman!

Then there’s our daughter, which the Lord has graciously kept nearby all her seven years of married life! She is raising two precious towheads, active little boys, in my childhood home.  I love that place and marvel that God put them there, but that house is over a hundred years old and NOT the easiest place to keep clean! There’s a big yard, plenty of room, but plenty of care. She is my right-hand “man” at church, doing TOO much, but lovingly serving the Lord. She also has a photography business! She is a Proverbs 31 woman.

I don’t know how any of them do what they do! They all have their challenges, but each of them is leaning heavily on the Lord, determined to have godly children, and make a difference in this world! I love them SO much and praise my heavenly Father for His goodness.

Proverbs 31—some may hate that chapter of the Bible.  It’s SO convicting, and Matthew Henry cuts us no slack in his words!  Plus, couch them in a fifteenth-century culture—no woman’s rights, no modernism—and they are quite convicting. HOWEVER, no matter the age or the challenges, we all have the same goal: Christlikeness, success in God’s eyes with our lives and the lives of our families. It takes work and dedication, but may I say once again:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:4

Success!

Well, for the first time ever, we have grown cantaloupes—just had one tonight for dessert, and it was delicious! I’ve tried before, but they never completely ripened before our sunshine and warm weather gave way to fall. I love living on top of a mountain, but it cuts our growing season by two weeks.  So, what made the difference?

Putting paper down. I had a 4×8 foot sheet of the black stuff left from planting our roses, so I put it in the garden and covered it with straw.  As the vines grew, I added newspaper and stretched out the straw. (The straw was really just for pretty!) I guess it worked because we now have fifteen cantaloupes! Yum! Can I find a spiritual application?  Need you ask?    cantaloupe

  1. Find what works

We have cooler temperatures, about an average of five degrees, than the surrounding lower altitudes; so covering their little roots made all the difference. It retained the moisture and the heat. How is your spiritual growth progressing? Are you faithfully spending time alone with God? Perhaps you have always done your devotions in the morning, but now that is not possible.  Have you always read through the Bible every year?  Perhaps it’s time for a change.  Something that has really helped me is to read through the Bible every other year, and then have a different plan for the alternating year.  For 2016, I’m studying the Gospels using commentaries and the Amplified Study Bible. Just seeing different words has really been helpful. The Bible contains everything we need to live a successful Christian life. Sometimes we just need to dig in and find what works!

  1. Know your situation/circumstances

Everyone is different.  We try to make the Christian walk a one-size-fits-all.  God has placed you into your circumstances and given you your set of difficulties and challenges, as well as blessings, to teach you something. The fifty-year-old woman is facing a totally different set of issues than the thirty-year-old new mom. How wonderful that we can all go to the same Source for strength and wisdom, as well as help each other.  That’s why we have this thing called church!  It’s a place where we can help each other along the way. We can read the same passage, hear the same sermon and each come away completely refreshed, challenged, and blessed because God’s Word is all-powerful! This is NOT situational ethics, but it is applying God’s Word to your situation which may be very different from mine.

  1. Be faithful!

I’ve been tempted to plant grass next year in my garden! It’s so much work and, at times, produces little fruit.  But then the Lord sends a bumper crop of cantaloupes!  Isn’t the same thing true in our Christian race?  At times, it seems all uphill with no end in sight! We’re tired, discouraged, lonely, depressed, frustrated, confused, and just plain worn out! Don’t give up!  Ask God for a little “shower of blessing.” He is SO faithful and He has given us countless promises to claim. Just when we think the race is not worth it, He does something extraordinary. Perhaps it’s just a smile from a stranger, but it’s all we need because we know Who sent it!

 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 Success to the end. King Ahab is not known for many good things, but this statement is always a challenge to me. When a neighboring king was threatening to annihilate Samaria, this was his response:

 Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.

1 Kings 20:11

And don’t forget those famous, encouraging words from our little, blue friend:

Keep on swimming!