Who are you?

Tigger_pose_Ah, the Hundred Acre Woods! It’s filled with those loving characters created by A.A. Milne. As I was reading a story from the Winnie-the-Pooh collection it came to mind that we all may be characterized by one of those personalities! So, who are you? I would like to think that I’m Piglet—sweet and lovable, but, if I’m honest, I’m a Tigger. I relate to his bouncy, happy-go-lucky character. But it made me wonder if I’m also as annoying as Tigger can be to his friends! Hmmm! I’ll need to think on that one! Perhaps I need to make some changes!

So, which Bible character are you? That may take more thought and be more beneficial in shaping you into who God wants you to be. Of course, as women, we all want to be the Proverbs thirty-one wife or picture ourselves as an Abigail or Esther, but the truth of the matter is, as my husband was preaching on the woman at the well, I realized that I was very much like her! No, I didn’t have five husbands and never lived with a man, but her whole demeanor and self-righteous attitude really struck an uncomfortable chord with me! Her past did somewhat resonate with my own pre-salvation life, as much as it could for a seventeen-year-old. And while her salvation experience sparked an 180-degree turnaround, mine was more of a five year slow U-turn as I eventually joined a strong Bible-preaching church. Each bi-weekly gathering filled my heart and soul with God’s amazing truths, and I was ready to receive the milk of the Word. It drastically changed my life!

Ultimately, the answer to the question, “Who are you?” needs to be Jesus Christ. As His followers, we will spend our days on this earth trying to be more like Him. It’s an amazing process and truly takes a lifetime to accomplish! We will not reach perfection until we see Him face to face, but every day, as we read His Word and talk to Him in prayer, that two-way communication has its way of molding us into His image if we are willing to allow it to shape us. Our sweet Savior is so patient with us! His love is beyond our human understanding in its greatness—it’s “unconditionalness!” But then, He sees us through an eternal lens, whereas we are only given a pair of finite glasses!

John said it the best:

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18

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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!

 

Daisy went Crazy!

Inkedsolar_gadget_c012b_lrg_LI.jpgDo you love to clean? I love a clean house, but cleaning always seems to be at the bottom of my “To Do” list! This morning I noticed that my little solar flower seemed a little slow. When I took a closer look, I noticed that the solar panel was pretty dusty, and I’m sure you can guess: When I cleaned it off, Daisy went crazy!

We have an energy pack inside us as born-again believers—it’s the Holy Spirit. He was placed there the moment we received Jesus Christ as our Savior, and He is full of power! It’s like a new phone or computer. Wow! Once the battery is fully charged, it shocks us at how long it stays fired up, especially if we’ve been limping along with a dead battery. (I’m speaking from experience!)

You know, I didn’t dump a ton of dirt on my solar Daisy, it just collected dust from everyday living. And you probably already see the lesson!

Unlike my solar Daisy, I need DAILY cleansing if I’m going to make a difference in this world! How quickly the grime of this world gets us down! It’s a battle out there and we need to be completely charged and ready!

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Daisy dances crazily in direct sunlight. Application: go straight to the Word! I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again! 🙂 Devotionals are great, radio and podcasts are great, books about the Christian life are great, but none of these can affect our lives like words straight from the Bible! It’s powerful stuff, and yes, we sometimes need help from others to understand and apply it to our lives, especially as new believers. But if you’ve been saved for any amount of time and still aren’t flying solo, you may want to check the reasoning behind that.

It didn’t take long to clean up Daisy, just a swipe of the finger, and it doesn’t take that long to get reenergized from the Word either. Here’s a handy checklist to promote success:

  • Pray and ASK the Lord to speak to your heart. Asking gets us focused on the Word and our need.
  • Confess – sin is the dust, and a clean vessel will receive the power faster and better!
  • Use a journal. I must say, I’ve joined the 21st century—I use my phone like crazy! I read my Bible on it, highlight verse, and make notes. And the nice thing about it is that I have it with me (most times!) and can pass on the blessings!

So… get crazy! Stay clean with the Word and go out there and shine. Sadly, in this dark world, you really don’t need to do much to shine and make a difference!

  For the word of God is quick (alive!), and powerful , and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

Bible Expert?

12733-Bible_Devotional_Coffee.800w.tnHow well do you know your Bible? Does it make a difference in your daily reading, if you know who Benjamin is or what the Thummin and Urim are? Do you care to know?

I’m reading through the Bible again this year with the help of a Bible app on my phone. It’s a wonderful tool.  Sometimes I just let the guy with the British accent read it. Other times, I need to read it a bit more slowly to get God’s message for me!

I often tell my piano students that theory is like knowing that “cat” is a noun.  It may not help you read better, but it makes more sense.  To know that “C-E-G” makes a C chord may not help you to play better, but it makes more sense; and in the end, I really believe that it will help you to play better.

So, will I understand the Bible better if I know who Benjamin is, or what the Thummin and Urim are? Will it make a difference if I know that Galatia is an area and not a city? Will it help my understanding of the Bible to understand Jewish traditions? For example, Paul probably found Lydia and the Philippian believers meeting at the river side because Jewish law required ten men to form a congregation! Now I see a small group.  I understand the faithfulness of those women to gather even though they had little male leadership.  It comforts me, as a woman, to know that even if our congregation has a lot of women, it’s okay! We can still accomplish God’s plan.(even if men aren’t available or willing to lead, God still works with women.)

Do you study the Bible?  Are you taking time to understand it better? Will that understanding help you to apply it more effectively to your life? I think so. 

We have so many Bible helps at our fingertips.  We have pastors that are faithfully preaching and teaching us the Bible. Are you taking advantage of all those opportunities? 

When our children were in Christian school, everyone had to take Physics.  Our daughter really struggled with it, and, night after night, her father would sit at the kitchen table helping her with her homework. It frustrated me because her piano practicing often was put on hold because of Physics. Which subject do you think she uses more today as she plays the piano every Sunday for church? Struggling with Physics taught her diligence and perseverance, but the example I’d like to share is this: What subject is taking your time away from studying the Bible? Are you an expert cook, clothing designer,  bargain shopper, sports enthusiast, chauffeur for the kids, TV show fanatic, party attender? Does time for your favorite or necessary interest overshadow the greater need?

As my husband often says, “What will matter the most one hundred years from now?”  That statement has a way of putting everything into perspective!

O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep… Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God… They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing. Psalm 92:5,13,14

Do I Love My Mother?

Lovely-Happy-Mother-Day-2016-Wallpapers-PicturesThis is really a challenge to mothers. I’m listening to Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the main character just confessed to a friend that she doesn’t like her mother, never did. The following is an excerpt from the book:

 

“Why,”—she [Valency] had a desperate desire that Barney should know the worst about her–“I didn’t even love my mother. Isn’t it awful that I don’t love my mother?”

“Rather awful–for her,” said Barney drily.

The statement made me stop and think. Why was it awful for her mother?

Children come into this world with no bias, no presuppositions, no prejudices. They will become what God plans for their lives, and we have the opportunity to mold them. As believers, we desperately want our children to love God and desire to keep His commandments, so we take them to Sunday School and church.  We read the Bible to them, and most importantly, we live godly lives before them.

My husband and I have three grown and married children. All of them have this mindset, and yet they worry that their children will not embrace their beliefs. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I tell them that THEIR HEART’S LOVE AND PASSION FOR THE LORD is making all the difference.  Are my grandchildren perfect? Of course. J No, they are all little sinners, but to hear them talk about God already at a young age, and see their faithfulness to church warms my heart and gives me hope. It’s a reflection of what is happening in the home!

Will a child hate a sweet, godly, submissive, gentle, kind, caring mother? Most likely, no. Even in the trials of teen years, the stage will have been set for a loving relationship: communication is normal, reasoning is biblical, decisions are made together with the parents. There is little room for hatred.

In the book, Blue Castle, the reader can clearly understand Valancy’s dislike. Moms, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror and see what our children are seeing? Better yet, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror of the Bible and see what God sees?

Wanda!  This is not very encouraging for Mother’s Day! Oh, my friend, but it is! You can’t do this apart from the Holy Spirit’s help, coupled with a desire to change! I know a mother’s heart. What is most pressing on a mother’s heart? Hopefully, it is to please her Lord and Savior, but the close second is to raise her children right! Will you be willing to change to become a better mom? It isn’t easy! It hurts! It can be a lonely place until we get serious about the issues that are making it difficult for our children to like us.  They will always love us, but do they like us? Oh, the blessings will abound when we are willing to become more Christ-like!

Little by little, inch by inch.

By the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch.

Never stare up the stairs, just step up the steps.

Little by little, inch by inch.

~ Ron Hamilton

 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Bug Zapping Theology

Electric-Bug-Zapper-612x630Americans are very creative in their ways to destroy pests. We don’t simply use mouse traps or just poison them anymore. We can catch them on sticky stuff and then…? I’m not sure what happens. Do you have to kill them or just let them starve or suffocate to death in the trash can? We are also creative with our flying insect destruction. Ah yes, we use fly swatters and practice our aim until we can get “seven in one blow.”  But look where that got Mickey Mouse!  Then there’s the roll of sticky stuff, which is placed by the door so flies get stuck there instead of coming in for a visit. What a wonderful sight to welcome guests!

We starve the flies on sticky rolls, poison them with spray, try to keep them out with screens, but my favorite is the bug-zapper. How soothing it is to sit on a patio with the sound of bugs frying in the background!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bug lover.  I know they have their purposes, but I do wonder if they are a part of creation or the curse.

It’s interesting how the bug-zapper works. The light attracts the unsuspecting bug who thinks it is just going to get warm. Boy, does it get warm! Little does it know that it is in mortal danger!  It can’t see all the fried carcasses stuck to the thing.  It doesn’t smell sizzling critters, and it is not hearing the zap! It is just following the instinct of all Diptera ( the scientific name for flying insects. FYI: the scientific name for Praying Mantis is Mantis religiosa!)

So, what’s the point? Why the title “Bug Zapping Theology?” What is Bug Zapping theology? So glad you asked!

Bug Zapping Theology deceives its followers into thinking that they are following the True Light: Jesus Christ. It is so dangerous for the same reasons a Bug Zapper is lethal–it kills!

Whether it is a false leader who has convinced its followers to blindly follow his cult, or a seemingly upstanding religious pastor or priest who is watering down the Bible, both can be eternally dangerous!

How do you know if you are being deceived? Here are some guidelines for avoiding false teaching:

  • Check the Bible. If someone is teaching a doctrine that runs against the grain of the Bible, it is a false doctrine. In this day and age, EVERYTHING is being questioned. Even the Ten Commandments aren’t excluded from the scrutiny. For example, commandment number four: Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. What does that mean? The Bible is certainly open for many applications, but only one interpretation. When the application says that attending church is not part of keeping the Sabbath holy, we are on dangerous ground. Sadly, many ignore the warning signs of false doctrine for various reasons: family and cultural traditions, feel-good and bandwagon mentality…
  • Check the Bible.
  • Check the Bible.

Why am I so adamant about this? Ask yourself this question: Where is the best place to go for information about God, eternity, morality, etc.? Doesn’t it make sense to check the Book that was written by God? Better yet, don’t just check it–read it!

  • Check your heart. Ask a few questions concerning basic beliefs, like: What do I have to do to get to heaven? Many people say, “Receive forgiveness of my sins by believing that Jesus died for me.” This is the correct answer as long as you don’t add anything to it. You may word it differently, but the idea is the same. For example, Believe that Jesus died for my sins, and be baptized, join a church, do my best, be good, pay my dues… If we add anything to the blood of Jesus, we are saying that His Crucifixion and Resurrection were not enough to take away my sin! It’s sad to me how many people are being duped by charlatans–false lights!
  • Watch out for “easy-believism.” What’s that? It comes in all shapes and size, such as salvation without a knowledge of sin. Can we truly be saved from sin if we do not know or believe that we are sinners? the philosophy of “Come as you are”  opens the door to all, which is a good thing, but “stay as you are” means that salvation never made a difference, and it should! “Just give your heart to Jesus.” Sometimes folks are urged to do this with no explanation or understanding. Then it becomes no more than a good gesture, like giving someone a cookie.
  • Check your life. Did your decision to trust Jesus Christ as your personal Savior change your life? We hate to ask this because of “Check your Heart!” We’re afraid of being legalistic–adding anything to simple belief for salvation. But life DOES change once we are born-again! I’m not talking about putting more gas in the tank, I’m talking about dropping a brand-new engine into a dead car! It would NOT move before, but now it has motion.  It was useless–now it has a purpose. It may have been comfortable, but really, who wants to sit in a beautiful car that can’t take you anywhere? Jesus Christ cannot abide in your heart and NOT affect your life.
  • Be discerning. We can’t follow our feelings.  Sometimes, we can’t even trust our leaders!  That’s scary! But poor council keeps folks enslaved to false religions. If you are in this situation and you feel there is no one to turn to, turn to God! He never goes against His Word!
  • Be prayerful. Praise God, He will ALWAYS answer when we humbly seek His face!

Sadly, as we see the day of our Lord’s return approaching, the deception grows stronger every day!

But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

But take heart! John 8:32 is still in the Bible:

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

As a child, I believed in God and that Jesus died for me.  I faithfully attended church, sang in the choir, and played the organ.  But I had never prayed and asked Jesus to save me until I was seventeen.  Would I have gone to hell if I had died before then? I believe so, but I’m so thankful that I didn’t have to find out! If you have any questions, check out God’s Simple Plan of Salvation. It’s important enough to get right–all eternity depends upon it!

 

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