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

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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!

God’s Footprint

ID-100144966 (1).jpgWe often use the word “footprint” to describe the area over which something occurs or is effective, e.g. the area where a signal from a communications satellite can be received.  So, how big is God’s footprint?  Some folks just believe that He started this whole ordeal called “life on planet earth” and then went on His way.  If so, then does God have any real effect on my life? I’m so thankful for the godly influences I have had right from the start.  One of my earliest song memories is this:

God sees the little sparrow fall, it meets His tender view;

If God so loved the little sparrow, I know He loves me too.

He loves me too, He loves me too, I know He loves me too.

If God so loved the little sparrow, I know He loves me too!

And that song is based on scripture, which makes it a doctrinally sound little ditty!

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?

and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. Matthew 10:29

That is so amazing! How many sparrows fall to the ground in just one day? He sees them all, and God sees me.  He knows when I need a good price on peanut butter.  He sends His angels ahead of me when I’m driving. (My daughter just drove three hours alone to take photos of a wedding, and had stopped at a rest area for just a moment.  Further down the road, a car was pulled over and had just hit a deer. Her comment, that it could have been her if she had not stopped, is exactly right!)

And if songs and live testimonies aren’t enough, look at Proverbs 16:

  • The preparations of the heart in man,
  • and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD. (v. 1)
  • A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps. (v. 9)
  • he lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD. (v. 33)

Of course, there are dozens of verses which say the same thing, but here are just four examples in one Proverb!

  How big is God’s footprint in your life?

Do you allow Him to affect every part? Do you ask Him to direct your steps? Guard your heart? Guide your words? Some may say that’s a crutch, but I believe it’s the smartest thing we can do as children of God.  After all, if your toddler was heading for the road, wouldn’t you stop him? You see the danger that he doesn’t see, and you gladly intervene even though he doesn’t ask you to! Oh, how big our God is! He is our infinitely all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, good and gracious heavenly Father; He sees the beginning and end of YOUR life, and every step in between! Why would anyone ever choose to have his or her own way?

Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established. Proverb 16:3

 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool:

where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? 

Isaiah 66:1

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When your heart is breaking

 

ID-100234581Rip! Tear! Snap!  What was that? Oh, it was just my heart, breaking in two! What are you facing, dear reader? For me, it was saying goodbye to my son, daughter-by-choice, and three grandchildren: ages one, three, and five. It’s breaking my heart!

For eight years, my son and his family have lived close by. For seven of those years, he and his wife served beside us in our ministry. Now, they will be 1,200 miles way: yes, close enough to drive to, yes, we’ll see them again, but that’s not the point!  No more grandkid sleep-overs—watching the cousins play together, no more family gatherings for every holiday, (especially Memorial Day and July 4th which had become a family tradition). No more singing together in church as a family, no more just stopping in, no more… It’s done.

I can look at others in our small congregation who are facing HUGE trials which make me feel like a spoiled brat—and I am, or have been, but that doesn’t make the pain go away! I can quote one of my favorite lines from Ever After, where Cinderella’s stepmother says, “Just remember, things can always get worse.” It’s true!  What comfort!  At least, it makes me laugh, albeit a little too hysterically.

I’ve been really thinking a lot about Job lately—now that will put things into the right perspective! He lost everything. Do you realize that HE LOST EVERYTHING?!!!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. Job 1:20,21

Now there’s a man with a proper focus!  He never shows a “poor me” attitude, he doesn’t blame God, he doesn’t blame the servants by saying something stupid like, “What were you doing over there near the Sabeans anyway!” He doesn’t bemoan his children’s actions: “I told them to build stronger houses, and what were they all doing together? Didn’t you see this coming?”  He didn’t even blame himself by saying, “I should have…”  He simply accepts it as from the Lord.  Some would call that weak.  I’d call it amazing grace, which we cannot work up. It MUST come from God.  When times are really tough, we can only anchor ourselves in the grace which we receive through our time in prayer and His Word, coming to our God with a yielded heart.

But that’s not all! When Satan smites Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown (2:6), there are no words this time.  I’m not sure if the scraping with pieces of broken clay pots and sitting in ashes were medicinal or acts of contrition—probably a little of both, but we see a man who gets no help from anyone. We often think ill of Job’s wife, but can we even imagine this woman’s overwhelming grief?  We don’t know the time lapse between Satan’s first and second attack, but we do know that the first attack was sudden, all at one time. In a matter of moments, everything is gone.  Was she there when the servants came running in with bad news, one right after another? Where they still digging through the rubble to find the bodies of her children? How long did she have to even try to digest the information before she awoke to find her husband writhing in pain?  And what would you have said?  I can’t condemn her! And once again, Job’s comment stops us short:

…shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?

In all this did not Job sin with his lips. (2:10)

Where will you go for comfort? For healing?  What will you try to use to fill up the empty, aching hole in your heart? How are you going to react? Anger feels so good and bitterness tastes sweet when we allow Satan to whisper in our ear!

I have chosen to stay on my Rock, and here is my mantra:

Lord, I will trust You –

When I don’t understand

When my heart is breaking

When I am alone

When I am poor

When my character has been maligned

When I am tired

When I am empty

When I am discouraged

When I am depressed

When I am questioning EVERYTHING

When I am full of doubts

When my dreams are shattered, I will trust YOU!

And I will NOT stop praising and serving You!

Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. John 6:68

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