Autumn background

15 August 2012

Poor Ole Pharisee

I find it interesting that I've just always considered John 3:16 to be about Jesus' death on the cross. When Jesus says "God so loved the world that He have His only begotten son - that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life" - I never thought that he was referring to Himself in His discussion with Nicodemus. He was explaining that He was God's son - and that He was here to save the world from sin - individually.

The people in the day - including Nicodemus - a religious teacher, a member of the Pharisees, had to grasp the fact that Jesus was directly from God. I wonder if faith in Jesus is easier now - because He isn't here in the flesh. He is "somewhere out there" or "in our hearts." If a man walked up today and said He was Jesus, we would truly think him crazy. Now I know we aren't waiting for the promised Messiah to appear as the people were in Jesus' day - and they had the prophecies to check that all things lined up, then had to recognize that the time had come. But - that must have been terribly complicated. They put their faith in a man who did miracles - it's no wonder they were asking for more and more - Satan thrives on doubts of believers. Imagine a Pharisee, sure he had begun to focus more on the rules, but what else did He have to focus on, there wasn't grace yet.  So when Jesus appeared - the common old Pharisee had to totally shift gears, figure out if this man was who He said He was, then believe and change his whole method of living life - moving from following the ten commandments - to following the whole Law.  Yes I'm making excuses for the Pharisee. But I can imagine this rule-following was easy to fall into. Don't we do it today? The normal Christian gets so busy doing God's work - that we fail to recognize His grace and peace in our present times. We fail to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and deny His power in our lives.

To believe in the grace and mercy of Jesus and live by following the Holy Spirit takes great faith. I know mine falters daily - so give that Pharisee some credit. He was trying to do well - He was just a sinner as I am - who had to believe and test a man claiming to be the Messiah. I really don't know who has it easier.


John 1:10-13

"He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, chidren born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God."

Choose today to test him -to believe. Be like the Pharisee, Nicodemus, who questioned God and tried really hard to understand. Don't be like the Pharisee who walks away and continued in His vain, lifeless attempts at religion.
  the hopefully-getting-it-right-in-Christianity writer    

24 July 2012

A Time to Refocus


In the past few weeks, I have been sinking lower and lower in the doom and gloom of this current society – this seriously sliding “nation under God.” I don’t know why, but I have often felt like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. I hate that almost everything I write sounds pessimistic or negative. I’m just not that comical, uplifting, optimist writer that most desire to read. Never fear though, I am a happy person, and I love comedy and jokes and being silly and laughter, and I have the joy of the Lord, but my heart is often heavy over the state of this world. I understand a little of God’s heartache for His creation.

Step back in time with me for just a moment.

A loving and all powerful God chooses to give origin to mankind, then because of His love for the man, He creates the man a helpmate and friend, woman. He fashions both after Himself, breathes life into them, then because He loves them so much, He instills within them a free will. Risky? Yes, but necessary. They have the ability to choose a relationship with Him or to walk away and live without Him. His heart is for them; every bit of Him desires to walk with them– but He holds all wisdom, so He understands that true love must be given freely – if He forces them to love, serve, and obey Him, they are nothing more than robots; the relationship will lack depth and passion, in an essence, heart. Because man is limited in wisdom, man chooses the immediately gratifying option and ultimately decides to walk away and live by his own accord, thus God can no longer live in perfect union with man. In fact, because He is so perfect, God must now judge the man righteously, according to His perfection. God’s Holiness and Perfectness cannot stand to be in the presence of the antithesis of Himself. Sin or unholiness is now present in mankind’s life. So – God, in His ever loving and perfect way, devises a plan for man to be reunited to Him – through a Savior. Wonderful news, yes? The problem is, the same mankind that freely walked away from God, must now recognize his need for a Savior and accept God’s gift of that Savior, God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.

Now, let’s return to today.

It must break God’s heart each time a person ignores His desire to be a part of his or her life. Don’t get me wrong; I understand the importance of free will to a relationship, but it is apparent that not everyone recognizes or is willing to recognize that he or she is sinful in nature, and has been from birth, but that there is a way to be reunited with his or her One True Love.

So – with all that being said here is what I meant to write.

I feel surrounded by bad news. From the deplorable state of our nation’s economy to the gross apathy of university professors over sexual abuse and the recent courtroom drama in Pennsylvania. From the disturbing eyewitness reports and aftermath of the massacre in Colorado to the recent disappearance of a six year old girl and the discovery of the gruesome abuse and death she experienced from her own neighbor in Iowa. From the cynicism of a President who apparently believes in socialism over excellence and aspiration in the private sector to a military who openly supports gay Pride, but not national pride and individual rights in political activity. I am appalled and almost ashamed to be called an American. Now, I know America is not God’s chosen country. I have said it before and heard it many times recently – America is not God’s priority – but thankfully His people are.

I can easily wallow in this miserable state of America, or I can turn my eyes to the Lord for direction and hope. Before I even take a step towards God, He is standing before me with open arms waiting for me to hide in the shelter of His wings.



Isaiah the prophet lived in a similar time. We aren’t the first to watch as our nation’s leaders turn away from God and turn towards idols. Yes, idols: money, power, prestige, and the number one idol today, self.

God says in Isaiah 40 – “Comfort, comfort, my people.” Then He describes that He is making a path for the glory of the Lord to be revealed to all mankind.

God goes on to explain that men are like grasshoppers to Him; and nations are just “a drop in the bucket,” “dust on the scales.” I think we forget that He is the one “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand.” According to Isaiah, He has “marked off the heavens with His hand.” He has held the dust of the earth in a basket. He has weighed the mountains on the scales. Before Him all nations are nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its peoples are like grasshoppers.” “He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” He reduces the rulers of the nations to naught. He blows on them and they wither then he sweeps them away like dry wheat. No one is His equal. He brings out the stars and “calls them each by name. Because of Him, “not one of them is missing.”

The people were saying “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God.” But God says, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Then God, through Isaiah, goes on to calm us . . . gently . . . with His loving care, just as He always intended. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” And one of the first verses I ever learned from Scripture – “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We cannot lose hope. God hasn’t. He has always existed, and He has always had eyes for us! And God will always be and will forever have eyes for us! There is no more comforting thought than to know that I have relinquished control of my life and my will to the all-powerful God who created mankind and nations; who sustains mankind and nations; and who will determine the last day of each man, of each nation, and of this earth. Nothing is in my hands. It’s not even for me to worry about. He tells me not to fret, but to hope in Him – to bind myself to Him and He will give me strength to soar on wings like eagles, to walk this life’s journey until He says I’m done – without ever fainting.

Thank you Lord for refocusing my eyes on You and Your truth – which was before America and will be after America. No matter what happens in this crazy world, I know that You hold me and this world in Your hands. May You bless America, but even if that is not Your will – to You, Holy Father, be the Glory. I am Yours and You are mine. Amen and Amen.

the refocused writer



P.S. If you are just recognizing your need for a Savior or if you are ready to accept His gift of Jesus Christ – don’t wait – do it today. He is waiting for you. Just tell Him what’s going on – He will listen and respond lovingly to You. He loves you with an everlasting love and wants to be invited to walk with you today and every day, for the rest of your life.





09 July 2012

Breathe It

It’s only July, but I’ve begun seeing Christmas advertisements in the stores. Hallmark is advertising their keepsake ornament soon to arrive. Hobby Lobby has Christmas d├ęcor filling the shelves. So I have been thinking a little bit about Christmas, and one of my favorite parts of Christmas is the special music we get to enjoy during the season.


One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is “Breath of Heaven.”

     “Breath of heaven, Hold me together, Be forever near me, Breath of heaven. Breath of heaven, Lighten my darkness, Pour over me your holiness, For you are holy. Breath of heaven.”
(Songwriters: Chris Eaton, Amy Grant)

There is something in the word breath that is inexplicable. Something miraculous. In Genesis 2, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” From the very beginning, God’s breath is life giving. I imagine Him imparting His very life into the life of man with just a mere breath. The power is astounding.

I’m sure you can think of numerous examples of the miracle of a breath. When a baby is born, everyone waits in expectation for the baby to take his first breath. Miraculous. Imagine a dire situation when someone is lying unconscious and not breathing, and emergency workers are furiously performing rescue breathing. When the person finally takes a breath, everyone sighs in relief. Miraculous. If you’ve ever fallen or been hit in the stomach and gotten the breath knocked out of you, you were probably quite panicked until you were finally able to breathe again. It’s amazing. Miraculous. Breath is life.

Breath is air taken in and air blown out. Breath is warm because it’s been within a living body. If breath stops for too long, life ends. Breath is life.

Now follow me to another passage and just watch how this plays out.

2 Tim 3:17: “All Scripture is God-breathed . . . .”

I love the description of the Bible that Paul gives us in His second letter to Timothy. God-breathed.

So how does that translate?

Scripture has the very breath of God inside of it. Just as man was brought to life with the breath of God, so to God’s Holy Word – the Bible is brought to life with the breath of God. What does that mean? Experiment for yourself. Try to read one verse out of the Bible today. Often, when I attempt to read just one verse, I find myself reading several verses, a paragraph, or even a chapter. God engages me through His Word. The breath-of-God endowed Word of God nourishes my soul – it feeds my spirit – it enriches my life. But most of all, the Word of God connects me to my Father. It’s His breath – His life – His Word I’m absorbing. And you better believe, He is alive. He meets me there. The Holy Word of God is alive.

Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews gives us more information about that living, breath of God.

Hebrews 4:12- “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

God’s breath is not just alive; not just in existence – it is active! There is vitality to the Word of God. The living word of God penetrates the minutia of our existence. Can you imagine something so sharp that it can separate our soul and spirit? Who understands where those two differ anyway? Only the God that created them can separate them. The Word of God is sharp; it pierces our facades, our masks, our walls. God knows me, and when I read His word, His very life, His very breath, penetrates my real self. It touches my innermost feelings, my thoughts – dividing my soul and spirit.

If you want to know God and be known by Him– read His breath. Life is in the breath.

I’ll go a step further – so stop now if you don’t want to be pricked.

Why is it so easy to pick up a book of fiction or log onto Facebook – but not find five minutes to read the Bible? Shocker – most of us don’t want to know what God thinks of us. We are scared. Another shocker– we would rather escape into someone else’s reality – whether that be made up or only the good highlights of what someone wants to present as their life – than know what God wants to breathe into us that day.

It should not be. He created and formed you; He breathed His life into you; and He loves you. Let Him breathe into you today.

Enjoy life. Live life. Experience life. Life exists because of breath – and we have the very breath of God.

Breathe it. Read it.

the breathing writer



29 March 2012

Our Return to the Resurrection

This is my rendition of Easter Activities – wish I was better with adding pictures, etc. You'll have to do this the old fashion way - with your imagination. Shocker!! In planning, I considered the age of my children, their interests, and what they already know from previous Easters, church, and school. I have borrowed much information and many ideas from two blogs. Unfortunately I have committed one of my pet-peeves and cannot give credit to one of them – I can no longer find the source. I have changed everything to fit my family. The following is one of the great blogs.

http://impressyourkids.org/a-sense-of-the-resurrection/

I also spent a considerable amount of time with my Bible open, looking at what I wanted to highlight. Of course, we could do an activity every day of the year and never exhaust the life of Christ. My goal is to turn their eyes heavenward. I planned for the number of days I have remaining until Easter. I can’t wait to begin this evening. I hope that you too can find time and energy to focus your and your families’ hearts toward our Savior. For He truly is the reason for this celebration. Please forgive that these are brief and sometimes grammatically incomplete. I will “fly by the seat of my pants” or “walk in the Spirit” as we read Scripture – allowing God to speak through His word and through me as I comment on the verses.

Day 1: Match or Flashlight (perhaps with box)

Matthew 1: 18-2:23; Luke 8:16-18; John 3: 19-21

Discuss that Jesus was born as the light of the world; now we are to be the light of the world. World is described as darkness. Play with flashlight in dark areas, hiding it under the box in a dark room. Discuss also the things we would rather be hidden in our lives and how Jesus reveals all the darkness within us.

Day 2: Feather and Wind (Fan)

Luke 3:21-22 and John 3:7-8

Discuss Jesus's baptism and how the Holy Spirit descended from heaven in the form of a dove. Allow kids to blow feather and us fans to blow feather. Compare which blows best. Discuss how Holy spirit blows in like the wind, unseen and unheard. God also blows breath of life in us and in Scripture- keeping us alive; and allowing the Scripture to be living (2 Tim. 3:17-18)

Day 3: Scroll made of newspaper – Make and send Easter cards to two people (cross and butterfly)

Luke 4:14-30

Jesus revealed himself in His hometown. He quoted from Isaiah. Discuss what Scriptures the Jews read – and how they wouldn’t have had the New Testament yet.
Discuss the importance of memorizing Scripture and instances in which Jesus quoted it. Here, and in the desert during His temptation. Discuss how persecuted Christians in other countries memorize their Bibles so that when they are taken from them – they have it in their heart. Psalms says it lights our path. Pick a verse to share with others. Make cards to send to two family members or friends.

Day 4: Perfume or potpourri supplies

Luke 7:36-50

Jesus was anointed by a sinful woman. Why would she waste her oil on his feet? She displayed a worshipful heart, in the moment. Discuss who showed more love – the hosts of the dinner or the woman? What do people do today to worship Jesus? What about in the moment?
What did Jesus do to his servants feet later on – washed them. Why? What’s the dirtiest part of your body? Who likes feet? What is a real servant?

Day 5: Grass seeds, rocks, sticks, soil

Mat 8

Jesus says some seeds were trampled; the Devil removes the seeds. Some fell on rocks. Some fell among thorns. Some fell on good soil.
Jesus also says, we sow seeds, others may water – but He makes them grow. We’ll plant grass today in a large enough pie plate to later turn into tomb garden.

Day 6: Plastic Eggs with three items inside; some with treasures inside.

Luke 15

Hide three eggs with sheep, coin, and picture inside; maybe some empty. Discuss the three parables. “There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous person who do not need to repent.”
Jesus always accepts us when we come back. When we ask others for forgiveness, they may have a hard time because they are hurt or angry, but Jesus never turns us away or holds a grudge. Heaven holds a celebration when the prodigal son returns. Finish with eggs hidden in another location full of great treasures.

Day 7: Grape juice, bread (maybe matzo bread)

Luke 22:1-46

Read history of Passover, because Jesus was Jewish. (Deut 16:1-8) (Ex. 11:12-following)
Talk about communion in our church for believers to remember Jesus sacrifice; just as Jesus and the Jewish church were remembering God’s judgment and faithfulness.

Day 8: Purple cellophane

Luke 22:47-23:25

Discuss the cruelty, lies, and evil committed leading up to Jesus’ death. Form a cross with soap and water on our window, cover with pieces of cut-up purple cellophane to remind us of our King’s death.

Day 9: Nails, hammer, wood. Rocks and pot with lid; old material to rip.

Luke 23:26-49

Let the kids hit nails into wood in shape of cross. Shake rocks in a pot to simulate the earthquake. Rip material to hear the sound of the curtain in the Holy of Holies. Discuss the Holy of Holies and how the curtain kept people out except for the priest once a year. Explain how Jesus opened up that Holy Place so that now we could enter ourselves. We are now the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Day 10: Rocks, grass tomb from earlier, sticks, leaves, potato, bandage.

Luke 50-56

Form a garden tomb using the grass planted earlier. Carve a hole in a potato, put bandage inside (significant to stories of Samaritan, Lazarus, Jesus). Put dead sticks, leaves, etc. all around tomb.
Make Tomb cookies – retelling the story of Jesus life and death. Tape the oven door and wait until morning.
http://www.allhomemadecookies.com/recipes/drop/easterstorycookies.htm

Day 11: Large Empty Eggs

Luke 24

Resurrection Sunday – finish the story. Replace dead leaves with beautiful flowers. Remove tape from oven. Have a large empty egg in their baskets. The Gift of Jesus’ life is the best gift of all – He is Risen!!

05 March 2012

Where are you headed?

Do you have a purpose statement for your life?

Business leaders will confirm that without a plan and destination, your business will likely fail. If you aim for nothing, you will hit it every time.

Let’s hop over to our personal lives. At the end of your life (there will be one) as you look back, will you have gotten where you wanted to? Will you have accomplished the things you wanted to? Will you think about your time (those mere 70 to 80 years on this earth) and wonder what you did with them? I’m not trying to be a downer, not at all – in fact, I want to be an encourager.
As I am considering this question for myself- I am thinking– wow – I really have time to do something right now. But what?

Let me encourage you to take time in prayer to lay out your goals before God and ask him to direct your paths? For example:

*Do you and your spouse have a mission for your marriage? Is there a reason God put the two of you together – a common purpose?

*Is there a purpose behind raising your children? What talents and loves do you think God has created them with? What do you want for them as adults? Are you making choices for them that help to achieve those purposes?

What are the determining factors for what you say yes and what you say no to in your daily activities and plans? Or do you accept things mindlessly – aimlessly?

As I said, I am exploring these questions for my own life and finding some interesting information. I’ll just leave a few ideas for you to contemplate. Please share your thoughts with me.
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (great devotional)
“It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call, because then you are not bothered by what He requires.”

Andy Stanley, Visioneering ( I highly recommend)
“Everybody ends up somewhere in life. You can end up somewhere on purpose!”
“God’s visions for your life are the things that will give your life impact beyond this life.”

Ephesians 2:10 (greatest Book ever)
“For we are His [God’s] workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

Acts 20:24 (greatest Book ever)
“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.

Psalm 25:12 (greatest Book ever)
“Who, then, is the man that fears the Lord? He [The Lord] will instruct him in the way chosen for him.”

the Perfect-path-seeking writer

24 February 2012

Bruchko

This week I had the privilege of substituting at Aletheia Christian Academy. While the eighth graders were quietly working on an assignment, I picked up a copy of the book they have been recently assigned to read, Bruchko. I have heard of the book, thus my curiousity compelled me to read the first couple of pages. I could not put the book down. For the past two days I read voraciously every chance I could - and finished the book just before the last class let out today.

I've have been thinking lately that I should read more biographies. In the past, every time I have started a biography, I have found the writing dry or the subject matter too slow to grasp my attention. God heard the desire of my heart and placed before me the most intense life story of which I have ever heard. It is first-hand life experiences of missionary Bruce Olson.

In the book, Bruce tells how he came to know Christ as Lord and Savior, which is in itself engaging and heart-breaking. As a child, Bruce was raised by strict Lutherans who completely missed the point of our Savior. God joined Bruce right where he was as a young boy, and Bruce met Jesus Christ and gave his life to our Lord. The Lord put a fire in Bruce that has since that day burned brightly .

As a young adult, still in his teens, Bruce gave up all he had and began a journey which he is still living today. He boarded a plane for South America and headed for the jungles of Columbia. He communicates honestly and with great detail the torture he underwent, the diseases he contracted, the uncivilized Indians he encountered, and the near death he experienced on more than one occasion. However, the gripping tale he expresses is underlaid with the presence of God.

Bruce's faith deepened as he devoted his life to a tribe known only for mutilating the bodies of oil workers caught in the region.

I was mesmerized, convicted, but definitely encouraged by Bruce's vivid first-hand experiences. I will probably never know the power of the Holy Spirit the way Bruce Olson does. And the amazing thing to me is that he is still there today - ministering to the same Indians.

I hope I haven't given too much away from his story. If you want to read a challenging, eye-opening, true tale of bravery, love, and the work of the Holy Spirit, find Bruchko. I assure you, you won't regret it.

Bruce Olson's website: http://www.bruceolson.com/english/english.htm

the moved writer

18 January 2012

Attempt no. 23,252

Once again, I revisit my attempt to blog. I think my goal was set too high - but what is life but a series of trials and errors.

I still feel compelled to write; however, as Paul explained in Romans - that which I want to do I do not do - but that which I do not want to do I find myself doing (a loose paraphrase). I have spent way too much time cleaning, and not nearly enough studying and writing.

One thing I have begun that I am loving is sewing. My darling husband bought me a sewing machine for Christmas and I have found a sewing partner. We have met twice on Friday mornings to sew. Thus far, I have made a reusuable snack bag, a skirt, a cover for one of my daughter's games, and a travel-sized pillow case. This weekend we will take on pajama pants. I am thoroughly enjoying this creative outlet, and I've been so proud of my end results. I'll keep you updated.

Another sidetrack that has taken up some time is pinterest. I love it, but I have to now set a goal of completing something that I've repinned. It should be interesting to narrow that one down - why don't you let me know how you're accomplishing this task.

Well -I'm out of time for today, but I'll try to revisit soon. Until next time . . .

the continual attemptor!!