Moth in the Window

mothinthwindow-layout_300It was just a moth stuck in the bathroom window this morning! I’m not one of those crazy (I take that back—they’re not crazy!) kind-hearted people who take insects outside instead of squashing them, but this guy was so frantic… and big, I didn’t want to make a mess!

So, I released the screen to let him out only to find that he was between the top and bottom windows. Now, I’m holding the screen out the window and trying to move the windows so he can find his freedom. I just about gave up, but, hooray! he was able to brave it and fly around the wooden frame and out to his world.

Lesson # One: He was so close to freedom but wouldn’t make the leap away from light to clear the window. His instinct told him that if he just headed towards the light, he would be fine, but his instinct manual didn’t include any instruction about glass! When am I afraid to go “Beyond Common Sense” and do something extraordinary for God? What is it that I’m trusting to be the right way, but it’s not? Hmmm?

Lesson # Two: His way was the wrong way. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Yikes! That’s pretty serious! Believing in anything but the Blood of Jesus Christ is the wrong way to heaven. It’s really frightening to think that “good” people will be in hell but look at Nicodemus. He was a really good guy, but if he had kept on his “right” path of good works, he wouldn’t be enjoying God’s presence right now!

Lesson # Three: Patience! I was ready to give up on the poor stupid thing! After all, if he couldn’t figure it out, it wasn’t my fault. How many times do I become impatient, perhaps giving up on someone when a change of heart is right around the corner?

Finding God’s message in the mundane—He has so many lessons for us! What a wonderful heavenly Father we have!

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10

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!

Get up, Bambi—GET UP!

firebambiAh, if you are an expert in “Bambiology,” you will recognize these words as an admonition from Bambi’s father.  Bambi has just been shot while in midair and lands on the other side of the canyon, safe from the hunters but not from the forest fire.  It is imperative that he gets up! Time is of the essence! Such high drama! He is down!  Can he get up?

Are you down? Is fire raging all around you? Has Satan shot you? Or is he poking you with his two-prong pitchfork: discouragement and depression? Let’s learn from Bambi!

  • He was sorely wounded. It would have been easier to just lie there and let the pain win. Have you ever felt that way? What’s the use? Defeat is just around the corner. I GIVE UP!

NO!  We can’t give up!  The cost is too great! When we choose the “low” road, we have no idea what we may lose: our testimony, our children, our homes, our church, a future… but most of all, we may damage the cause of Christ. AND, we sometimes forget that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2:1)  AND… “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)   Although the wounds of the spirit do not bleed, those wounds sap our strength just as much as a flesh wound, perhaps worse! Spirit wounds go to the very core of our being! Remember: “…the joy of the LORD is your strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10) so when you are wounded in the Spirit, Satan is like a blood-thirsty lion ready to devour you!  (1 Peter 5:8) He knows that our strength is intrinsically tied to our joy, so he will work hard to destroy it.

  • Bambi had a helper. His father would not leave him, but urged him to get up.  Now, I know some of you think I’m nuts, but there is a lesson here for us. The father continues to order him to get up, and when Bambi finally gets to his feet, he leans against his father.

What a beautiful picture for the born-again believer! Our heavenly Father is there urging, perhaps even demanding us to get up, because He knows that if we don’t, there will be consequences—and He knows what those consequences are, even when we don’t!

  • Slowly at first, but then gaining strength—perhaps from his father or from the raging fire—Bambi increases his pace; and after a hair-raising run and an incredible jump down the falls (really? Is that even possible?) Bambi leaves his father and joins his true love, Feline. Ahh!

Where will you go for strength? Is there anywhere to go but to God?  Are you trying to run the race on your own strength?  Have you found out yet that your strength will never be enough? Do you need to pick up your speed a bit? Are your enemies—the world, your flesh, and the devil—nipping at your heels?  Remember, your heavenly Father is right there to lean on and to draw strength from.  Whether running because of the fear of a foreboding enemy, or because of our love for God, we can do incredible things in the face of trials.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”(Psalm 84:11)  What a God we serve!!!

 

Is it your time to run? There are times to  “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10), and there are times to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrew 12:1)  Whether we are still, or running pell-mell, the focus is always in one place: Jesus Christ, who gives us the victory!

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 15:57

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,

but one receiveth the prize?

So run, that ye may obtain. 1 Corinthians 9:24

Please Push Me Off This Ladder, Lord

Would anyone in their right mind pray a prayer like that?  I don’t think so.

Yes, it’s been one year since my husband’s fall.  For those of you who have joined me since that time—and I am overwhelmed by that number—here’s a recap of the accident:

During the renovation of our church gym, my husband, Tom, was standing backwards on a ladder and reaching to pull a nail out from the ceiling. The ladder slipped, taking him sixteen feet to the cement floor below.  He crushed his heel and broke his hip.  Now, he sports all sorts of hardware: two rods, cabling and screws in his leg, and thirteen screws and a plate in his foot.

It’s been a long and, at times, weary road.  As we look back, it’s amazing to see what the Lord has done in the past year!  Perhaps the greatest blessing from it all is the love which was poured out on our lives: cards, gifts, meals, acts of kindness.  When a pastor can’t preach, who preaches?  Who turns out the lights, turns on the heat, cuts the grass?  Who visits the sick?  There are so many little jobs that a pastor often does—especially when he lives right next to the church—that are done without notice, until they are not done!  Watching our people rally behind him brought joy unspeakable!

Trials—we certainly do not ask for them, but it is good to understand that they do not happen without God’s attention.  They don’t hit us while He’s not looking, because He sees all!  And so, the oft-asked question is:

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

But let patience have its perfect work,

that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1: 2

It is true that we do not ask for trials, but we do ask for patience.  We do want to be “complete” or approved of God.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season,

if need be,

ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith,

 being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire,

might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:6,7

Peter knew, James knew, I would say the majority of the first century Christians knew that the trials which plagued their lives also empowered them to be the salt and light that they needed to be in a totally godless world.  (And if you are looking for inspiration, try reading Fox’s Book of Martyrs—just a buck on Amazon for a Kindle!)

Here we are, in another godless age, perhaps on the brink of facing the worst persecution Satan has yet to dish out; how will we face the trials?  Peter encourages us to allow them to grow our faith and ultimately bring praise and honor and glory to our Lord. That may be easier said than done, but I was recently reminded in a sermon, that with every trial a battle rages:  Satan wants to destroy us and our testimony, and God wants to grow us and make life more precious!

Tom now walks with a limp.  Pain is a frequent reminder of his year-old trial, but overall we praise God for allowing him to heal and to live!  To God be the glory!

WOW! Look What God Did for Me

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Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us, Ephesians 3:20

I know many of you don’t really know me, and this article isn’t about me; however, in praising my God, I’d like to give you a glimpse of who I am and how my heart and mind works! We are on vacation, which hasn’t really happened in two years due to recitals and graduations and weddings. (My husband would remind me that we were away from home, and that’s a vacation; but I would remind him of the scheduled events and the harried pace we were keeping—not a vacation mode!) This vacation at Myrtle Beach was directed by our son and his wife’s residence in Columbia, SC. After their departure from PA in July, mama-bear was ready to see her baby cub!

As usual, I did the preliminary hunting for a place and was pleasantly surprised at the prices and selection having never been here before. Sixty miles of beach–WOW! So, we booked a place and for the first time since our honeymoon, dear hubby and I are alone for FIVE nights! And although we think of our children and grandchildren often—thinking about how much they would love this—Tom still has me to squeal with delight and act like a kid! I’m loving life!

Our room was very nice. It had a few issues, but it was clean and comfortable, and the people were wonderful; however, when our TV died and the DVD player didn’t work, we were a bit disappointed. We wouldn’t normally watch a lot of TV, but it has rained for three days straight! When the technician couldn’t get the new DVD player to work, a call came from the desk: Sorry for the inconvenience; would we rather a discount and no TV, or an upgrade? We took the upgrade, and I’m now sitting in a beautiful room with full length windows on two sides of the living room, a balcony off the bedroom, and another balcony off the dining area overlooking the pool, whirlpool, and lazy river!

Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think!!!

I just want to praise our awesome God for turning a very minor inconvenience into a beautiful blessing! Isn’t it often the case: The trials, albeit small, start stacking up, and like the “little foxes that spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15), they slowly try to steal our joy. The temptation is to pout and complain. Why all the rain, God? You could make the sun shine? We haven’t seen the sunrise yet, Lord! You know how much we love to enjoy the ocean! We serve You faithfully all year long—two years long! Who ever heard of three straight days of rain in South Carolina? Don’t we deserve sunshine?
The answer is, “NO!” We don’t deserve anything but hell! That may sound a bit harsh, but it is true. We get so focused on our little piece of the world, that we forget how big and awesome and perfect and all-knowing and all-loving our God is. He knows just what we need: three (actually, it looks like it may be four!) days of rain! Is He testing our patience? Probably. Does He want to see how we’ll react? He already knows! He wants us to see how we will react!!! I’d like to say that we haven’t been disappointed, but that wouldn’t be true. Spoiled brats!  I just want to praise Him for His PERFECT way!

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried:
he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.
God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
2 Samuel 22:31,33

Beauty for Ashes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tily Tries My Patience

So, today I decide to till the garden instead of exercising.  Running Tilly is definitely exercise!  She must not have slept well, because she is sputtering all over the place!  She’s lost her spunk!  I baby her along, hoping that she’ll kick into high gear – no chance!  I think she’s upset because I was checking out tillers on the web!  Who would pay over $700 for tiller?  I can buy a lot of vegetables for that amount, even from the farmer’s market!  It’s supposed to rain today and the Ladies’ Missionary Group is coming in an hour and a half, but Tilly has more lessons for me.

  1. Maybe it’s time for her to retire.  Dear older-worker-bee, do you need to step down and let the younger ones take over?  Sometimes we complain that they are not doing the work, but maybe it’s because we don’t trust them to do the job.
  2. Dear younger-worker-be- possibility, do you need to step up to the plate?  You may say, “But what can I do?”  Can you scrub a toilet?  My husband and I joke about the fact that that is where we started serving the Lord – it’s true!  You would probably be surprised at what you could do.  I’ve never met a pastor yet that refused help!  J
  3. Both sides of the fence require a lot of grace!

I think Tilly knows that I was just thinking about checking out Craig’s List – that’s when her belt fell off. My father was a farmer and a machinist – he could fix anything!  So, in the spirit of my heritage, I took a closer look.  Hm, there was a part of the machinery that was hanging at an odd angle, and at a closer look, I saw that a nut was missing!  How would I ever find a nut in a newly tilled garden?  I couldn’t, so I went to the garage.  Now, growing up on a farm, I appreciated my father’s work bench that had every size nut, bolt, nail, and screw that you could imagine!  But, alas, no nut here of the right size.  I prayed as I headed out to the garden.  “Lord, I need a miracle.  You know where that nut is.  I will NEVER find it without your help, and with out the nut (I mean the one belonging to the bolt!), Tilly is done for the day!”  What a gracious God we serve!  After another look around the garden, and when I was ready to call it quits – there was the bolt!  Jehovah-gireh!!

  1. How much do you trust God?  How hard are you leaning on the Everlasting Arms?  We often want to lean and ask only for the select items on our list: the ones that we understand.  Can you ask for His help in the areas you don’t understand; and are you ready to accept the answer He gives?

“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

  1. PATIENCE!  This is the hardest lesson we (or maybe just I) will ever face!  I was ready to junk the whole thing.  Forget gardening!  Shove Tilly over a cliff and call it a day. God’s ways are SO much higher than ours; but as Paul Harvey used to say, “Now for the rest of the story…”  Maybe tomorrow!