For the Birds (and me too!)

As I sit here watching two male Rose Breasted Grosbeaks having breakfast at my feeder, I see a wonderful lesson for believers, actually several! 🙂

It’s a droopy rainy day, and they’re both hunkered down under the little overhang on the feeder.

  • We come to God’s Word to be nourished and find shelter there from the annoying drip, drip of daily life, as well as from the storm!

As they eat, I see a pattern: pick up a sunflower seed and then look around as they chew, their heads jerking to the left and right, scanning the area for an enemy.

  • Am I on the lookout for my enemy?
  • Do I even know who my enemy is?
  • Do I understand his strategy, agenda, and incredible perseverance to destroy me?

I have never seen a hawk at my feeder, and yet the Grosbeaks are on the alert. Am I that alert about my enemies?

  1. The world – it comes in all shapes and sizes custom-made to attract each of us! Enjoying the pleasures of this world are not wrong until they push out our devotion to God.
  2. My flesh – it is SO strongly bent the wrong way. If I were a Grosbeak, I’d be happily delving into my delightful breakfast, chatting, laughing, singing and never once thinking about any danger! We live in our flesh.  We know our flesh better than anyone else (well, except maybe enemy #3!) Does your flesh cause you to stumble away from the peace and joy of serving Jesus?
  3. The Devil – Old Scratch! What a wonderful name for him! He makes the itch in our lives—makes us uncomfortable in so many ways! He sows thoughts of unbelief. Remember… “Yea, hath God said?” You’d think he’d get a new slogan, but he doesn’t BECAUSE THE OLD ONE WORKS EVERY TIME! He sows doubts about God and His Word. He stirs up strife in the family of God. I could go on and on, but instead just remember this:

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. 1 John 4:4

Do I need to be aware of my enemies? Yes, but unlike the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, I understand that I am safely sheltered in the arms of my Eternal, Omnipotent, Ever-loving Father! My enemies are powerless against my Father!

 

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Cuckoo Heaven

cuckooDoes it get any better than this: sitting here in my living room, looking out the triple pane window and watching the finches and various other birds come swooping into the feeder as I have my devotions? The sun is shining, the trees are budding, and my cuckoo clock is happily ticking.

Now, if you are a long-time reader, you may remember some posts about my cuckoo clock craze. My first clock came from my husband’s great uncle’s home where it hung silent for years.  It was a carved hunter’s clock, which means that it had a large racked buck at the top, a dead rabbit and bird hanging on either side of the front, and a hunting horn circling the clock face. It wasn’t my pick but I loved it, prayed over it, fixed it, and for, twenty years, God graciously blessed my feeble efforts and kept it ticking! Praise Jehovah-jireh!

But, alas, it died. It was beyond repair.  We even took it to Ye Old Clock Shoppe in Dallas, PA. (If you need to have a clock fixed, this man knows his clocks! The store could be a field trip; it’s that interesting… well, to clock-lovers!)

Long story short, I bought a new clock. Now, for a short marital finance lesson—don’t have “my money—your money” attitudes. If both husband and wife work, then the money pays the bills together. We broke that rule in one area: my books. I’ve kept any monies that I’ve received from my books sales into a separate account.  I’m not sure why; I believe mostly just to be able to be encouraged.  Lest you think I’m “rolling in the dough,” self-publishing is a tough road. It’s “me, myself, and I” when it comes to the process of writing, designing, and particularly selling books. However, that said, I used some of that fund to purchase a new cuckoo clock.

Maybe it’s my German heritage, but I’ve loved cuckoo clocks since I was a child. I remember standing in front of my aunt’s clock as she turned the minute hand to make the bird sing! Thrilled! Some may think I’m crazy to spend, what is to me, a sizeable amount to get my clock, but from the moment I opened the box, straight from Germany, my heart thrilled!

Such a materialistic person! Well, to quote my dear friend Tweety-bird, “You don’t know me verwe well!” Remember, I’m a pastor’s wife, and while we live very comfortably, we’ve always been frugal. Also, I’m married to a lovable, sweet, and charming “bean counter!”

So, is there a point to this babbling? Well, it is the Saturday before Resurrection Sunday. Yes, Satan has already whispered in my ear that I love my clock too much, but may I say…

“All that thrills my soul is Jesus!”

This clock has brought me great joy.  It is aesthetically pleasing to the eye and ear, but not the soul! It is not a sin to enjoy nice things until our souls begin to crave those things more than our Savior. He alone brings peace and lasting joy—joy which lasts throughout the ages!

So, I’m content.  My cuckoo is once again ticking merrily in my home, reminding me that every second is precious, not to be wasted. J Each tick helps me to …. “number [my] days, that [I] may apply [my] heart unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Ready, Set, Wait

Ready, Set, WIMG_7323ait!

Well, 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!

Luke eight begins by telling us that Jesus and His disciples went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. Verses 2-4 tell of Mary Magdalene’s deliverance from demons, the care given to Jesus and his disciples by new converts, and that a crowd had gathered to hear Him speak. It’s not by accident that the next few verses  in Luke eight are about soil. As though to encourage the sowers, Jesus tells the parable of the four soils: wayside, rocky, thorny and good. Our responsibility is to give the Word–spread the Seed.  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, but 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!

HOWEVER, when we ARE the soil, we are the receiver of the seed—how we respond IS our responsibility.  1 Corinthians 15:58 gives us some pointers:

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.

Did Jesus see fruit for His labor? Absolutely; however, He also wept over Jerusalem because He knew the condition of many hearts and that His own people would soon demand His crucifixion. Jesus knows everything. He remained faithful to His calling to the very end of His earthly life.

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. There’s something beautiful about a garden lying fallow. The summer work is done. The harvest has been gathered. Snow is on the way! Even so, as the ground rests, it waits for spring. As we ‘wait’ for the moving of the Spirit, may we realize that ‘spring’ may be just around the corner!

Be ready!  Be set! Be willing to wait!

My superhero

55407d754bd0ca45bd8fc499d37f2aefHe may not leap from the tallest buildings or wear spandex and a cape, but he is MY superhero! He spends his days battling enemies on every front, from without and within, and never complains. At times, I believe if I could see them, I’d see a whole host of demonic beasties flapping and snarling at his heels.

But never mind, he faithfully studies the Word and serves a banquet of fresh, sweet manna every Sunday to the few who choose to take the time to come to God’s house. The crowd may wax and wane, but it never affects his dedication, because he is answering to the high calling of Jesus Christ.

His broad shoulders carry the burdens of others with compassion and prayer. Oh, the sweet, sweet sound of hearing him talk with his heavenly Father, weeping over his little flock—it brings tears to my eyes every time I tiptoe by his office door and hear that lovely sound!

But for me, the most wonderful attribute about my superhero, which makes him greater than the hulkiest of the bunch, is his humble, teachable heart. It’s what first drew me to him, and what continues to affect my life. His patience with me, as I try to become more like our Savior, challenges me to get the lead out and get busy hacking off those nasty, ungodly traits which shatter the precious, heavenly atmosphere of our home. He’s changing, and it makes me want to change too.  After all, who doesn’t want to be like her superhero? 🙂

Last weekend, we watched two of our grandsons. I love them dearly, but I wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for my superhero. He played, and bathed, and walked, and talked with them (and flew a kite, which was captured for Facebook).  He made them laugh and was just plain silly, which is a wonderful, albeit unusual, trait for a superhero. He read to them, and while I was caring for them (I mostly just sat around eating bonbons) or was busy making a meal, he was quietly picking up or throwing in a load of laundry because that’s what he does!

My superhero.  Right now, (it’s four A.M.) he’s sleeping. His weary body, especially those broken parts which remind him that a storm is coming, is resting for another couple hours. Then he’ll rise once more, chipper and ready to face another day’s host of villains: the world, the flesh, and the devil! We’ll face them together, and then they won’t seem quite so impossible. Discouragement flees, but that one usually takes both of us to battle. Criticism is reflected off the shield of faith. Worries fly with a flick of the Sword. It’s really a wonderful life, living with a superhero! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians  3:14

Do We Remember?

twin-towers“The iconic twin towers of downtown Manhattan’s World Trade Center were a triumph of human imagination and will. Completed in 1973, the towers stood at 110 stories each, accommodating 50,000 workers and 200,000 daily visitors in 10 million square feet of space. They were the hub of the bustling Financial District, a top tourist attraction and a symbol of New York City’s–and America’s–steadfast devotion to progress and the future. On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center became the target of a massive terrorist attack that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. The disaster also radically altered the skyline of New York City, destroying the twin columns of glass and steel that over the years had come to embody the city itself.

“The impact of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, was more devastating than any of the building’s designers and engineers had ever imagined. The first plane ripped a hole in the north tower from the 94th to the 98th floors, causing massive structural damage and igniting some 3,000 of the 10,000 gallons of jet fuel the plane was carrying. The second plane hit the south tower at an even faster speed, striking the corner and gashing the building from the 84th to the 78th floors.

“The heroic efforts of the city’s fire and police departments and other emergency services helped 25,000 people escape from the site before the unthinkable occurred. September 11, 2001, was the deadliest day in history for New York City firefighters: 343 were killed. The damage done at each point of impact forced the physical weight of the towers to be redistributed, and the undamaged part below the hole had to support the floors above. At the same time, the fires raging in both buildings weakened the steel trusses holding up each floor. With damage to a greater number of floors lower down on the building, the south tower gave way first, crumbling to the ground at 9:59 a.m., only 56 minutes after being hit. The north tower collapsed less than a The impact of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, was more devastating than any of the building’s designers and engineers had ever imagined. The first plane ripped a hole in the north tower from the 94th to the 98th floors, causing massive structural damage and igniting some 3,000 of the 10,000 gallons of jet fuel the plane was carrying. The second plane hit the south tower at an even faster speed, striking the corner and gashing the building from the 84th to the 78th floors.

“Debris from the falling towers ignited fires in the remaining buildings of the trade center complex, including 7 World Trade, which burned for most of the day before collapsing at 5:20 p.m. Overwhelmed by horror, shock and grief, New Yorkers and people around the world trained their eyes on “Ground Zero,” where the fall of a treasured icon of American industry and ingenuity had left a gaping hole in the sky.”

http://www.history.com/topics/world-trade-center

Do we remember?  Will we forget?
Fifteen years; five thousand, four hundred seventy-nine days;
and yet it seems like yesterday.

We remember where we stood when we heard the unbelievable.
We remember the shock, the horror of watching those towers crash
over and over again.

We remember the utter helplessness and unbelief,
hearing it in the most seasoned news reporters’ voices.
“Our world will never be the same,” they said.
We didn’t understand it, but they were right.

And the message is ever the same. Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses, and he said:
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Their generation is done, their days passed in a moment,
but God alone is still our safe haven,
and with their passing, we remember that a thousand years in thy sight
are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
(4)

We spend our years as a tale that is told, (9)
and we realize that only God knows when the last chapter will be completed.
Oh, that we would live this life, remembering those whose lives were cut short!
Not in sorrow, but in reverence and thankfulness
for the lessons their tragedy can teach us.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off,
and we fly away.
(10)

So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
(12)
Number each one! Every hour, every moment—for them,
for all who are taken because a brother was cast out, and the other was blessed,
but most of all, for the One who was cast out and crucified!

We did not ask for this lesson,
but it was forced upon us.
It is our responsibility to stop and remember and learn.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls
. (Mt 11:29)

Lives are changed when they are touched by tragedy, and the greatest tragedy of all times is that the perfect Lamb of God died for my sin–tradedy turned to victory!

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!

The Promise of another 1,007 years

The end is near!  There’s a meteor ready to crash into the earth and kill us all!  The economy is collapsing in October!  Last night’s Supermoon/Blood Moon must mean something bad!  It’s so sad that this world is so paranoid. It seems like there’s always someone heralding the end of the world.  Just this weekend I was sidetracked into reading, or I should say skimming, page after page of Bible prophecies in which the writer named America as Babylon, Obama and the Southern King, and Putin as the Northern King. Then the writer offered his book for only thirty-seven dollar which would tell you how to survive the end of the world!

To me, the saddest part of all this is the effect it has on our children. In the past, I have been in the schools when some doom’s day date is drawing near.  I see the fear on their faces and hear it in their voices.  It’s always a blessing to assure them that this world will be here for at least another one thousand seven years!  That peaks their curiosity!  I then explain that God has promised the His Son, Jesus Christ, will reign on this earth for a thousand years and that will take place after seven years of the Tribulation Period. What a joy to have God’s Word and be able to rest in His precious promises!

Truly, we are living in the End Times; however, we have been for the last two thousand years. Yes, many facts are now in place which wasn’t there the last century, but only God the Father knows the exact time of His Son’s return.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24: 36

I hope that promises give you comfort for the day.  As His return draws closer, there will continue to be doom’s day prophets who try to put God in a box.  It doesn’t work!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55: 8,9

I love that the following verse is also in this chapter:

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: (6)

I have to admit, as I looked at that blood moon last night, it was a little creepy! But it’s just one more example of the mighty power of our God!  I couldn’t help wondering about all the other amazing spectacular sights that are happening every second of the day in our universe, which our God creates and enjoys, and we know nothing about them!  How amazing is our God!

I just want to praise Him for allowing me to see this last week:IMG_7577-001

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