Tuesday, December 22, 2009

another funny

i had never heard of this get-rich-quick scheme before.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

wisdom

rules define the game.

the players need to know the rules
in order to advance and score--
and avoid penalties.

the coaches need to know the rules
so they can train the players
to have great skill
in advancing and scoring--
and avoiding penalties.

the referees need to know the rules
so that the players can advance and score
when they follow the rules.
referees also penalize players,
coaches,
and even deal with spectators
who violate the rules.


in the game of life and death,
we have a book of rules.

we need to know the rules
in order to advance and win,
and to train others to advance and win.

we need to know the rules
when we are in a position
to encourage advancement
and penalize wrong-doing.
being peace-keepers is unsatisfactory;
being truth-keepers is essential.

ultimately, we must all give account
to the one who gave the rules.

anyone who has engaged in foul play,
even if he arrives at the finish line,
will find himself penalized;
"depart from me," he will hear,
"you went your own way
and broke my laws."

anyone who has followed the rules,
even in the face of apparent failure,
will find himself a winner.

some "through faith conquered kingdoms,
enforced justice,
obtained promises,
stopped the mouth of lions,
quenched the power of fire,
escaped the edge of the sword,
were made strong out of weakness,
became mighty in war,
put foreign armies to flight.
women received bac their dead by resurrection.
some were tortured,
refusing to accept release,
so that they might rise again to a better life.
others suffered mocking and flogging,
and even chains and imprisonment.
they were stoned,
they were sawn in two,
they were killed with the sword.
they went about in skins of sheep and goats,
destitute,
afflicted,
mistreated--
of whom the world was not worthy--
wandering about in deserts and mountains,
and in dens and caves of the earth." (esv)

trust and obey.

wisdom.

Friday, December 11, 2009

wisdom

a choice.

wisdom gained by treasure seeking
and fearing God.

victimization by my own wayward tendencies,
by evil men,
by seducing women.

a choice.

(reflections on proverbs 2)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

conquest

i have surveyed the land.
i have seen its fruitfulness
and assessed its dangers.

this is a place to prosper,
but the enemies are enormous,
and i feel like a grasshopper next to them.
my heart almost stops with fear.

but i remember who promised me this land.
his love for me surges into my heart
washing away the terror.
peace and confidence reign within.

by all means, we will go
and possess the land he has promised us.
our enemies are not too strong for us.

take courage.

(reflections on numbers 13)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

deserving

i deserved the wrath of God and eternal hell.

i pursued the well-being
of the Kingdom of Me
and my rights.

what did i care
about my creator,
his kingdom,
his rights?

i saw this as my world,
but in reality
it is his world
and i am his guest.

i acted like a reigning queen,
superimposing my mandates
over his.
how futile and evil!

i deserved hell;
he extended kindness.

so when i face illness,
or poverty,
or humiliation,
or betrayal,
i don't try to figure out what i did to deserve this.
maybe i don't deserve it.

but i deserve hell.
this is only light affliction,
and it only lasts a little while.

furthermore, i am his,
he is mine,
and his mercy endures forever.

reflections on propitiation, Romans 1-5, Ephesians 1-2, and Job

Friday, November 13, 2009

pleasure

a response to psalm 133

look,
you can see how enjoyable it is
to be with families
in which each member
treats the others
with unfailing courtesy and respect.

it is as beautiful
as someone being consecrated wholly
to serve God.

it is as refreshing
as a heavy dew that nourishes life.

in this environment
God sends blessing.

remembered

a response to psalm 132

Lord,
remember all of my afflictions and act in my behalf.
remember that i want you to live near me.
let me be clothed with righteousness.
fill my heart with joyful songs.
please do not turn me away.

you have not forgotten me.
you gave me my request,
living with me and within me.
you covered me with your salvation.
my heart overflows with the jubilant songs
which you have given.
you have not forgotten us;
you have delivered us from our enemies.

requests

uninfluenced
you are yourself.

i am silenced before your power.
i am silenced
by the magnitude of your kindness to me
when my heart is scorched with pain.

please, come near me
clean the wounds
that you caused in your compassion.

fill my heart with joy once more.

twitter

here's a link that may give you some food for thought.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

quiet

a response to psalm 131

Father,
i am a child,
not better or worse than my friends
or my enemies.
i will not fuss and fret because i don't understand.
i won't pitch a fit because you say, "no."
i will be quiet in your lap.
i will lean my head on your shoulder and relax.
o, children of God, hope in your Maker
now and forevermore!
amen.

waiting

a response to psalm 130

from rock bottom i loudly called to you who made me.
Master, hear me!
please be attentive to my requests!
if you, my Creator, kept track of all my failures,
Master, how could i stand?
however, i find forgiveness with you
and therefore i fear you.

i wait for my Creator;
with peaceful confidence i expect him.
his word is the solid foundation of my hope.

from deep within me, i vigilantly look for my Master
more than the night watchman looks for the dawn.
my eager anticipation is greater
than the night watchman feels
when he waits for the rising sun.
o, children of God, be confident in your Creator,
because your relationship with him
has always been marked by the most profound kindness.
he redeems infinitely.
he buys his own children
from their slavery to willful failure.

Friday, October 16, 2009

ascending

liars may cause suffering,
but you will judge them.

dangers may threaten,
but you will protect me.

i find refuge in your house
where you give peace and prosperity.

the arrogant despise me,
but you will show me favor.

powerful enemies rage against me,
but you are on my side.

twisted and deceitful people will be banished,
but you will establish every one who is straight and true.

by your intervention, i returned from exile.
then you gave me courage to plant
and hope for a bountiful harvest.

raising children is no empty effort;
they are your gift and our defense against the enemy.

as i walk in your ways,
you give me joy in everyday responsibilities.

i have been abused,
but you have crushed the oppressor.

from absolute abasement i cry to you
knowing you will restore me in every way.

i will not fret because i don't understand;
i will find peace in knowing you care.

i made my requests to my God
and he granted them
far beyond my ability to imagine.

i want to get along with people
because it is beautiful and refreshing.

i bless the Lord with all i have,
and he returns blessings beyond measure.

defense

a response to psalm 129

i have been mistreated many times
beginning when i was young.
the truth is,
i have been abused many times
from my youth until now.
my anguish is plowed in deep furrows,
in furrows deep and long.
the Lord does what is right;
he severs the ropes
that the wicked used
to tie me down.

may everyone who hates God's rule
be ashamed and flee.
may they shrivel like rootless grass withers
before it can grow.
please do not allow their influence to prosper;
do not allow their rebellion and cruelty to multiply.
do not allow anyone to bless them in your name.
how can you bless
the rebellion of those
who oppose your kingdom
and your righteousness?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

fruitfulness

a response to psalm 128

Lord,
i want to fear you,
to walk in your ways.
i want to be satisfied with the results of my labor,
i want to be happy
and for all to be well with me.

i want to be a fruitful vine
in my husband's house,
for our children to be olive plants
around our table.

you said this is the way you would bless the man
who fears you.

please bless us from your throne,
allow us to see peace prospering
every day of our lives.
truly give us joy in our children's children.
peace to your people.

battle

a response to psalm 127

if i try to build my home
as a base of power and influence
but am not considering God's purpose and work--
what a waste!

if i am alert to every potential evil
and try to avoid all conflict
but do not look to God for his care--
what wasted effort!

what a waste to get up early
and stay up late
devising and implementing schemes for success!
God gives his beloved ones peaceful rest.

look,
children are God's gift to me.
my own offspring, a treasure.
these little ones will grow to be
my ammunition
in the battle for truth and right.
i am blessed if my arsenal is full
of such priceless weaponry.
they will face my enemies unashamed
and speak to my enemies publicly.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

dreaming

(a response to psalm 126)

we were captive in a foreign land,
but the Lord brought us home.

at first we were dazed
by what seemed too good to be true.
then we could not stop laughing and singing.
people around us acknowledged,
"the Lord has done great things for them."

oh, it is true!
the Lord has done great things for us,
filling our hearts with joy!

o Lord,
you have brought us out of exile;
please take exile out of our hearts
and teach us to live unshackled lives--
lives of freedom.
restore our fortunes
as the rains restore the parched earth.

o Lord, we are sowing seed at great cost,
releasing its present value
in confident hope of an abundant harvest.
you will multiply our future gain
as a result of our present sacrifice.

invincible

(a response to psalm 125)

anyone who puts his complete trust in the Lord
will be unshakable;
he will continue in enduring strength.

the Lord surrounds his people
as their fortress and protector;
he enfolds them in safety forever.

a wicked person may rule for awhile
but cannot subdue one who is steadfastly righteous;
the power of the wicked will be destroyed
before he can make the righteous fall.

o Lord,
please do good to people who are good,
whose heart-thoughts are pure
and who act in purity.
however, banish those who are twisted and deceitful.

peace to God's people.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

rescue

a response to psalm 124

o Lord,
if you had not come to help us--
your church exults--
if you had not taken our side,
they would have swallowed us alive
like a snake swallows its prey
or like a lizard snatches an insect.
but you delivered us from their desires.

they would have ripped us apart
like a wolf rips into a herd of sheep,
satisfying their hostility
with our pain and anguish.
but you came to our rescue.

they wanted to trap us
and use us for their own purposes,
crushing us to fulfill their own ambitions.
but you destroyed their snares and nets,
setting us at liberty.
you freed us to soar skyward.

you are powerful and wise and loving.
you are the Self-existent One,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

favor

a response to psalm 123

i look to you
enthroned in glory
and enthroned in my heart.

we are attentive to you
as your servants,
waiting for a sign of your favor.

Eternal King, show us favor.
take pity on us
and demonstrate your infinite love and kindness.

enough disdain.
enough derision.
we cannot bear any more contempt
from the arrogant.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

gladness

a response to psalm 122

i was glad,
i was glad
when they said
to me
"let us go to God's house."

i looked around
and marveled.
the congregation of the Lord,
as one body,
works in unity.
each member
seeks the glory of God
and lovingly serves the others.

this is where God's people meet,
delighting to assemble,
to raise their hearts in thanks to God,
thinking of ways to encourage love and service.
their fervency and faithfulness increase
as they anticipate the coming of the King.

Lord, grant peace
to the assembly of your own.
please prosper those
who love your congregation.
bring peace and prosperity
within the walls of our meeting places
and within our homes.
for the love of my brothers and friends,
i ask for peace.
for the love of God's household,
i will pursue its good.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

protection

response to psalm 121

i look around at the mountains,
obstacles too great
for me to overcome alone.

where can i find help?

surely God will help me.
he is always attentive
and cares for my well-being,
never tiring,
never resting.

he shelters me from heat
as scorching as the sun;
he protects me from danger
that lurks in the moonlight.

he guards my life from harm,
day and night,
at home and abroad.

reflections

a response to psalm 120

o Father,
you are a God of truth,
but i live surrounded by liars.

please,
deliver me from the lies that are told about me.
deliver me from believing lies that are told to me.
deliver me from being a liar.

don't liars understand?
you are a God of Truth,
and you desire truth in our innermost being.

don't they understand?
lying offends you,
and all liars have a place in the lake of fire.

don't they understand?
their lies are some of the fiery darts
of the evil one.

o Father,
i yearn for peace,
but here i am
on a battlefield
in the war
between truth and falsehood.

Friday, August 21, 2009

because it made me laugh. . .

“Don’t try to have a fish fry
when all you have is worms.”
–Mark Roth
http://eaf.net/mvp/?p=1699

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

oddness

we can have faith in faith
instead of trusting God.

we can worship worship
instead of worshiping God.

we can be diligent about being diligent
without being diligent about completing our tasks.

we can say prayers
instead of praying.

we can do bible studies
without really studying the bible.

i wonder how often we focus on means
rather than on the end?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

pastor

despicable hireling,
when the wolf came into the sheepfold,
you took to your heels,
rationalizing
that it was better for the sheep to be left
to deal with the wolf on their own
than to see their shepherd
engaged in mortal combat
with the predator.

and you expect to be rewarded
for your sacrifice.

Friday, July 17, 2009

least

to love the least of Jesus' brothers,
and to encourage them to love
other "leasts"--

this is good.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

humbling ourselves, praying, turning from our wicked ways

i just finished listening to this sermon by paul washer. it is quite long, but well worth the time.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

thankful

i am thankful,
but not with that gratitude
which is unmingled with sorrow.

i am grateful for encroaching blindness
which has moved from the outer boundaries of my peripheral vision
to the center.
i am thankful with sober gratitude
that the cones and rods are falling off
the pigment layer
of my retina
just a little faster
than they are replaced.
i am thankful that every little cone
and every rod
is under the complete control
of its Creator.

this is his intentional good for me,
and i want to receive this gift
with courage and trust.

there is a time to grieve
and a time to laugh,
a time for dancing,
a time for mourning.
those times come to each of us.
but underneath,
i have a sense of the goodness
of both sorrows and joys.

i am thankful
that God has given me a supportive family,
compassionate friends,
a measure of independence,
much healing of physical weakness,
awareness of other senses to compensate
for the loss of vision.

but these are transitory gifts,
and many of them may be lost
in time or circumstances--
lost without diminishing
what is truly valuable in them.

however,
i am more thankful for what cannot be lost.
i am thankful
because the Lord is my shepherd.
he is everything that i need.
he nourishes me in green pastures,
and leads me by quiet waters.
he restores my soul.
he leads me in paths of righteousness
because of his own good name.
even when i walk through the shadowy valley of death,
i need not fear anything.
i will not be overcome by any evil,
because he is with me.
i am comforted by the protection of his power.
even in the presence of people who hate me--
people who desire to harm me--
he prepares a feast for my soul.
my cup of joy overflows.
certainly goodness and mercy
follow me
each and every day i live.
and after this,
i will live in the house of the Lord
forever.

that is why i am thankful.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

confession

dear Lord,

tomorrow we come together to worship you.

if one of us loves himself more than he loves you,
he brings that into the body of believers
like an infection.

if one of us loves someone
or something
more than you,
we bring that offense into the midst of our worship.

if one of us uses your name lightly
we bring that defilement into your congregation.

if we are unwilling to set aside a day to seek you,
a day to delight in you,
and we want to seek our own pleasures
and despise spending time at your feet,
we bring that insincerity into the time
we set apart. . .
that one hour,
those two short hours.

if one speaks dishonorably about his parents,
treats them as inferiors,
disdains them,
then this offense is mingled with our praise.

if one has murderously hated,
if one has committed sexual offenses,
if one has spoken untruthfully and hurt another,
o, Lord, it pollutes our worship.

if one has desired what belongs to his neighbor
or his friend,
desired his possessions,
his relationships,
his assets,
Lord, you know even the thoughts of our hearts.

our Father,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
thy kingdom come
and thy will be done
on earth,
in our congregation,
even as it is done in heaven.
give us today
our daily bread.

forgive us,
o, please forgive us,
as we forgive those
who offend us.

and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

yours is the kingdom.
yours is the power.
yours is the glory.
forever.

amen.

silence

i like silence.

oh, not true silence,
but the sounds that fill
the space between
radio noise
and television noise
and endless recordings.

i like the yellow hum of the refrigerator
or of the computer.
i like to listen to the bird's singing
and the cars that pass.

i like conversation
and the sound of someone practicing musical instruments.

i like to hear myself think.

i like to hear the things
that God speaks to my heart
in the silence.

corinth

she told me that she hates a certain bible teacher.
and then she said
that she cannot grow spiritually
unless she gets to listen to another one.

she said she hates a certain song,
and another one too.
Lord, i lift your name on high.
it's all about You, Lord.

they passionately dislike certain books of the bible;
james,
psalms,
1 and 2 peter.
they dislike them so much,
they stop coming to church
so that they didn't have to hear about them
any
more.

why all this passion,
this wasted emotion,
this defiance
against God?
and yet,
they do not see the situation that way.

they are church leaders,
and they think
they are looking out
for the best interests of the congregation.

no one,
they insist,
loves the church more than they do.

i am affected viscerally.
a chill of fear sweeps over me
in their behalf.

even the church at corinth was not so bad;
they had preferences of teachers,
but we are not told
that they hated those
whom they considered inferior.

o God, how long will You delay?
quickly deliver Your people.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

a hope and a future

“The great Gardener of the soul--will not, and cannot be disappointed. What He sows--shall flourish in defiance of all opposition! And, if at times it seems to wither--He can and He will revive it!” John Newton

Friday, June 5, 2009

infantile faith

he said: Christianity (at least in the infantile version so popular here . . .) is the ultimate Tails I win; heads you lose method of arguing.

i think:
infantile is not all bad.

since we are a small part of an enormous universe,
and since even the smallest entity amazes us with its complexity,
a certain sense of our own smallness is probably commendable.

even Jesus commended those
who would receive the kingdom of God as a child,
or who became as children.

consequently he has given us a great compliment,
though i understand that he didn’t intend it that way.

God have mercy on us all.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

loving God

as expressed by Augustine


"not with doubting,
but with assured consciousness,
do i love thee, Lord.
thou hast stricken my heart with thy word,
and i loved thee.
yea, also heaven, and earth,
and all that therein is,
behold,
on every side they bid me love thee;
nor cease to say so unto all
that they may be without excuse.
but more deeply wilt thou have mercy
on whom thou wilt have mercy,
and have compassion
on whom thou hast had compassion:
else in deaf ears
do the heaven and the earth speak thy praises.
but what do i love,
when i love thee?
not beauty of bodies,
nor the fair harmony of time,
nor the brightness of the light, so gladsome to our eyes,
nor sweet melodies of varied songs,
nor the fragrant smell of flowers, and ointments, and spices,
not manna and honey,
not limbs acceptable to embracements of flesh.
none of these i love,
when i love my God;
and yet i love a kind of light,
and melody,
and fragrance,
and meat,
and embracement,
when i love my God,
the light, melody fragrance meat, embracement
of my inner man:
where there shineth unto my soul,
what space cannot contain,
and there soundeth,
what time beareth not away,
and there smelleth,
what breathing disperseth not,
and there tasteth,
what eating diminisheth not,
and the clingeth,
what satiety divorceth not.
this is it which i love,
when i love my God.




Tuesday, April 21, 2009

augustine

"man. . .but a particle of Thy creation"

"Thou awakest us
to delight in Thy praise;
for Thou madest us for Thy self,
and our heart is restless,
until it repose in Thee."

"For who is the Lord
but the Lord?
or who is God
save our God?
Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent;
most merciful, yet most just;
most hidden, yet most present;
most beautiful, yet most strong;
stable, yet incomprehensible;
unchangeable, yet all-changing;
never new, never old;
all-renewing, and bringing age upon the proud,
yet they know it not.
;
ever working, ever at rest;
still gathering, yet nothing lacking;
supporting, filling, and overspreading;
creating, nourishing, and maturing;
seeking, yet having all things.
Thou lovest, without passion;
art jealous, without anxiety;
repentest, but grievest not;
art angry, yet serene;
changest Thy words, Thy purpose unchanged;
receivest again what Thou findest,
yet didst never lose;
never in need, yet rejoicing in gains;
never covetous, yet exacting usury.
Thou receivest over and above, that Thou mayest owe,
and who hath aught that is not Thine?
Thou payest debts, owing nothing;
remittest debts, losing nothing.

"Behold, Lord, my heart is before Thee;
open Thou the ears thereof,
and say to my soul,
I am thy salvation.
"

recent reading

i have recently read two books which were a great encouragement to me. one was roots of endurance by john piper. the other was not by chance by layton talbert.

both are sober yet joyful reading, substantial encouragement for anyone facing any difficulty.

to leave or not to leave

yesterday my husband read me a quote from an article in "today's christian preacher". the section of the article from which he quoted dealt with the need for a minister to be careful not to leave a ministry too hastily.

i read the article for myself, and here is the gist of the quote, "many times the advice of a small representative group of spiritual leaders can accurately reflect the church's sense of God's will in the matter." however, the author cautions, "care should be taken to make sure the input is not just from a small 'anti-pastor' group of men vocal enough to make it seem that they represent the majority. i feel sure that many a pastor has left his church feeling that most of the people wanted him to leave even though the great majority of the congregation was deeply disappointed by his departure."

the author was john dodd. the creative capitalization is my own.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

power

electric power
horse power
fire power
atomic power

the power of the tongue,
the spoken word,
or the written word

some say that gossip is powerful

but infinitely more
is the power of the resurrection

Monday, April 13, 2009

rhyme

i found this quote at this site:

"William Stafford (I think, maybe) wrote that in a fundamental way, all words rhyme because any two words are more like each other than they are like silence."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

self-righteousness

consider this:

the Pharisee of the Pharisees
was also
the chief of sinners.

part 3: leprosy and me

so there was a spot,
red and inflamed,
that burned within my soul.
it was more than skin deep.
it penetrated to the very core of my being.

envy raged
as i compared my lot
with others'.
why do they prosper
and succeed,
i wondered in frustration,
when i am silenced
and ignored?


why does he get more prominence?
why is she recognized?

as i identified my problem
and saw the probable diagnosis
--bitter jealousy,
selfish ambition,
arrogance,
self-deception.

i went to the priest
for counsel,
hoping against hope.
but in the quiet moments of solitude
i recognized the infection that raged in my soul.
i knew the rebellion against God.
i saw the uncleanness,
the defilement.
i despaired.
how could i be cured?

the priest looked on me.
"you are unclean," he gravely said.
something within me tore in grief,
and i covered my mouth
and the word tore from my heart:
"unclean!"
and i went through the streets
aware of my isolation
even when in the midst of the crowd.

but i knew of a Man,
they said He had power
to cure and to cleanse.

so i went to Him,
begging for mercy.
and He looked on me
with unfathomable compassion.

He healed me
with His word,
making me pure,
peaceable,
gentle,
reasonable
full of mercy,
full of goodness,
steadfast,
unpretentious.

He is the bird slain in the running water,
the cedar is His cross,
the hyssop is the bitterness of His sufferings for me,
the scarlet thread is the spilling of His blood--
but i am the bird set free in the field.

He is the offering for my sin, my guilt, my peace.

to Him i dedicate my entire being--
heart, soul, mind, and strength!

part 2: leprosy, a history

so generation followed generation.

most people went on with their daily lives,

some contracted leprosy,
and lived and died
in their personal tragedy.
families grieved
while carrying on with life.

a few contracted leprosy
as a sobering lesson,
afflicted by God
as the consequence of their own stubborn rebellion.

moses' own sister miriam was a leader in Israel
during the exodus
and during the wanderings.
then she criticized her brother
because she thought
he was taking too much authority and power from her.
and she didn't like his wife.
God summoned miriam and aaron and moses
and visited with them.
as His holy presence withdrew,
aaron and moses looked with horror at miriam.
she was leprous.
and though moses interceded,
miriam bore her punishment
for three days,
ostracized and outcast.

centuries later
king uzziah was making sweeping reforms in israel,
re-establishing the worship of Yahweh
and leading the people in a nation-wide revival.
he rejoiced in all that was being accomplished.
then the thought entered his mind
that he would like to lead the people in worship
by burning the incense
in God's holy temple.
but God had designated the priests alone
to burn the incense.
uzziah took the censor
and entered the temple.
he was met by a group of priests
who forbade him to transgress
the boundaries God had given him.
uzziah became visibly furious,
but before he could respond,
God intervened.
uzziah became a leper
and lived in isolation
for the remaining years of his life.

naaman, an assyrian general,
was plagued with leprosy.
through an israeli captive whom he had enslaved,
he learned of a man who served the living God, elisha,
who might be able to help him.
so he made the trip,
and was told to immerse in the jordan,
and was miraculously healed.
though he desired to give the prophet a generous gift,
elisha declined,
and naaman went on his way,
returning home.
but gehazi, elisha's servant,
disapproved of elisha's refusal,
and following naaman,
told him that elisha had some unexpected guests
and he needed some of that clothing
and some of that money
after all.
naaman gladly gave him all he desired,
and gehazi returned
and hid the goods.
but God knew,
and cursed him and his descendants
with leprosy.

centuries more passed.
the Son of God came
and with His unlimited power
cleansed lepers of their disease.
all who came to Him,
He restored to health
and life.
oh, the joy they felt
as their physical and emotional suffering
was alleviated.
they went to the priest
so he could go through the rituals
that would establish their new status
in society.
they were whole and restored.

and the sacrifices were offered.
a bird slain,
some cedar,
some hyssop,
some scarlet string,
and bird set free over the field.

offerings for sin,
for guilt,
for peace.

a dedication
of the leper
to Yahweh.

part 1: leprosy diagnosed

so God spoke to Moses
and told him about leprosy.

if someone had a spot,
an infection
that went beneath the surface of the skin,
he was went to the priest.

the priest examined him
and quarantined him.

for a week he sat in isolation
with thoughts vacillating between hope and despair
as he observed the spot
and contemplated his future.
would he be an outcast?
could he go back to normal life?
oh, the everyday burdens and irritations
seemed beautiful
and welcome!
he wondered about God--
did God care?
would God heal?

the priest returned.
"it is leprosy".

the leper torn his clothes in grief.
he covered his mouth and went through the streets.
"unclean!"
the word tore from his lips
expressing fathomless anguish
as he left the village,
the city that had been his home.

as he sat in isolation
his despair turned to acceptance
and he wondered about the ritual
for the cleansing of a cured leper.
the bird slain and the bird set free,
the cedar, the hyssop, the scarlet thread.
the offerings for sin and guilt and peace.
the final rejoicing.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

regret

if i loved
with perfect love,
i would not fear
the pain
that love
can bring.

and
i should
love
perfectly--
because
i receive
perfect love,
and hurt
the One
who gives it.

focus

i see that the ancients gained God's approval
being assured of their hope
and being convinced of the unseen.

i see that abel offered God a better sacrifice
by faith.
i see that God testifies that he was righteous,
and that even though he was murdered
by his resentful brother,
his reputation is guarded by God.
but i cannot focus on abel.

i see that enoch escaped death
because he believed
that God is who He is,
and that He rewards the one who diligently seeks Him.
but enoch is not my focus.

i see that noah found favor in God's sight.
he believed God's warning
about dangers he had never seen.
he reverently built an ark,
and in so doing
condemned the world.
but noah's example is not enough.

i see that abraham believed
that God would give him the land
as promised.
and he and sarah believed
that God would give them a son
as promised.
but the story is not about abraham
or sarah
or isaac.

i hear isaac believing God's promises
when he blesses his sons
based on who God is
and what He said.
but isaac was only human.

jacob became israel because he believed God.
he worshiped God.
but jacob without God is still the manipulator.

joseph believed
that God's promise of the land
was yet to be fulfilled,
so he commanded that when that day came,
his mummified bones be carried to the land.
but all that remained of joseph
on earth
was a mummy,
a story,
a reputation for believing
God is who He is.

moses believed that bearing reproach for Christ
was more valuable
than all the wealth of ancient Egypt.
he endured.
he saw the Unseen.

rahab lived in bondage
until Yahweh delivered her
because she believed
He is who He is.

so many believed God is who He is,
and they suffered many things,
and overcame evil with good.

but seeing all these heroic people,
i turn my eyes to Jesus.
He is the author and finisher of my faith.
He endured the cross
and despised the shame
because of the joy set before Him.
i consider Him
who endured such hostility of sinners
against Himself,
and i cannot become weary,
i cannot lose heart.

oh, dear Lord, grant me grace
to endure.

Friday, March 13, 2009

unity

superficial unity
when believers unite with unbelievers.
what fellowship has light with darkness?
such a farce.
such artificial unity.
such hypocrisy.

superficial separation
when believers divide from believers--
by this shall all men know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.
how can you love God, whom you cannot see,
if you do not love your brother whom you can see?
such a farce.
such artificial separation.
such hypocrisy.

"walk in a manner worthy of the calling
with which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness,
with patience,
showing forbearance to one another in love,
being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit
in the bond of peace.

"one body
and one Spirit,
just as you were called
in one hope of your calling;

"one Lord,
one faith,
one baptism,
one God and Father of all
who is over all
and through all
and in all."

true unity
exists
among those
who are
in God's Spirit.

this is what is under the surface.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

the beginning of wisdom

the fear of God, we are told in Proverbs, is the beginning of wisdom. i think that the opposite is true; if i do not fear God, i am going to be foolish, and live to regret it--or drive myself insane. Debi Pearl says that "our actions and reactions do indeed reap painful results in this present life as well as in eternity. We live under a law of sowing and reaping that is as certain and unrelenting as death and disease."

that is the reason that we ought to have a huge, healthy respect for the God who made us and the world we live in. if we violate His guidance, we will reap the consequences.

in relation to our marriage relationship, when we violate God's instructions, we damage ourselves, our husbands, and our children. we decrease our influence for the kingdom of God in this world. this is a sobering reality.

i love to think that if i confess my sins, He is faithful and just to forgive my sins and to cleanse me from all unrighteousness (I John 1.9). when He shows me that i have not been respecting my husband as He wants me to, i admit to Him that i was wrong, and i don't try to justify myself by blaming my husband's provoking behavior or my hormones or the bad day i had. He would have helped me to do what i should have done. i rejected His help. He then forgives me. the guilt is gone. but i am so thankful that He not only forgives me, but He also cleanses the desire to do wrong from me! so with His help, i can live a life of victory; graciousness overcomes irritableness, love overcomes resentment, gratitude overcomes self-pity, respect overcomes disdain, peace overcomes restlessness, joy overcomes discontentment.

oh, i'm not perfect yet, but God has helped me become so much better than i used to be that i just can't give up hope that i will be even farther along after 24 more years!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

facing reality

some are like Ananias.
they come to you in your hour of darkness
bringing light and healing and good news.

some are like Barnabas
the "son of consolation."
they come to you
when no one understands how you have changed,
and encourage you to prove yourself.

some are like Hymenaeus, Philetus, or Alexander,
wolves in sheep's clothing.
they fight the Truth,
and they fight you because you proclaim the truth.

some are like John Mark,
abandoning you when the going gets tough
for their own convenience,
for their own comfort,
for their own security.

some are like Demas
and forsake you because they love this world.

some are like Diotrophes.
they reject you
because they love the preeminence.

one is your Shepherd.
He is more than enough.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

i am my Beloved's

i was desperate.

my life had no meaning
and i was being ground into nothing
by the harsh consequences
of my own selfish choices.
darkness surrounded me,
invaded me,
as i learned the unspoken rule
by cruel experience:
use
and be used.

then one day He came into my life.
oh, i did not love Him.
His light and His purity made me so ashamed,
so aware of the filth that covered me.
and when, newly aware, i tried to purify myself,
i only smeared and worsened the mess.

i resented Him.
who did He think He was,
coming into my life
and increasing my misery?

but He loved me.
i do not know why,
but He loved me
with a pure and unselfish love.
i don't know when i realized
that He wanted to help me,
but time passed
before i was willing to humble myself
and receive His help.

i was desperate,
and finally i wanted a solution.

He took me and washed me.
deeply embedded sin stains vanished.
the memory of them lingered awhile,
then faded as well.

He fed me at His banqueting table,
and His love beautified my life.
His love beautified me.

i loved attending His love feasts
with others whom He had rescued.
He walked with me throughout the day
and watched over me through the night.

i still love the feasts,
and the kinship with the rescued,
but i am in a crisis.

He has enemies,
fierce and violent.
they are armed with flattery and slander and false accusations,
and since they can do nothing to Him,
they attack those whom He loves.

oh, mercy!
mercy!

i love Him so!
but the attacks bring back the darkness of the past!
they bring the stench of the filth of the past!
His enemies consider me as cattle to be butchered!
they are wolves,
sometimes wolves in sheep's clothing,
looking so innocent
but having a voracious appetite,
ripping,
ripping me apart!

peace comes.
nothing can separate me from His love.
nothing.
i will go to the feasts,
even in the presence of enemies.
He will prepare the table before me.
and i will reside with Him
in the home He is preparing for me
forever.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Gift of Wisdom

In the fifth chapter of Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi addresses the question, "How can I possibly be cheerful when my husband is a selfish jerk?" She rightly concludes that our obedience to the Lord is not dependent on our husbands' good behavior. We are accountable to follow His commands no matter what our circumstances. Debi urges her readers to pursue a path of wisdom, which requires God's help.

Repeatedly, the biblical writers urge us to value wisdom above everything else in this world, and they also warn us of the dangers of foolishness.

Two of Solomon's proverbs come to mind:

"The wise woman builds her house,
but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands."

"A gracious woman retains honor."

So when my own dear and usually-loving husband has a bad day and, well, acts like a jerk, I still have a choice of whether I'm going to build up or tear down my house. And I have a choice about whether I will be gracious and honored, or be rude and take the consequences.

The internal struggle comes when I have the choice of obeying God or obeying my instincts when it comes to biblical submission. One time I was listening to the local Christian radio station, and heard a Q&A with Elizabeth Elliot. Someone asked, "What is submission?" She laughed sympathetically. Then she explained that men do not ask what submission means, they don't ask what it means to submit themselves to their employers or to the laws. She had only heard this question from women. Then she defined submission to husbands, "Do what he says."

Do you feel the same revolt welling up within you that I feel? You know that Christian women did not invent the idea of wifely submission! It is God's idea, and even though we don't always understand it, it is a wise and loving idea!

I know a group of women that call themselves "the strong-willed women"--and they think they have some unique virtue because of it. I try not to laugh. Is there a woman on the face of the earth that is not strong-willed?

I have also heard two women claim in an injured tone of voice that they are naturally submissive. Having observed each these women, I know that is not true; if her husband tells her to do something she doesn't want to do, she doesn't believe she understood him correctly, and each sweetly does what she thinks he should have wanted her to do.

But true submission is not natural. Submission is not the same thing as agreement; submission happens when agreement is not happening. And Jesus' submission to the Father is our example, though He agreed with the Father, He still was conflicted when He prayed, "If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me. Nevertheless, not My will, but Yours."

Our submission to our husbands is a testimony of two things. In the letter to the Ephesians, we are told that our submission to our own husbands is a picture of the church's submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. In the apostle Peter's first letter, we are told that Christ's submission to the Father is our example for submission to our husbands.

So with a gentle and quiet spirit, with our trust firmly fixed in our God, with the wisdom that God is so willing to give us, we can respond graciously and nobly to whatever God allows.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

faith power

He could have made Adam and Eve
without the ability to sin.
but He gave them the opportunity to trust,
or not to trust.

He could have given Abraham and Sarah
a child--or a whole tribe of children--
in their youth.
but He didn't.
He gave their faith a chance to grow strong.

He could have sent a little disease--
say, typhoid or yellow fever--
to remove Joseph's brothers
before they could sell him into slavery.
but He didn't.
He gave Joseph a door into great faith
and virtue
and forgiveness.

He could have hit Goliath
with a fatal heart attack
or a bolt of lightening
before he could intimidate God's men.
but He didn't.
He gave a young shepherd
the opportunity to show his faith
by his courage.

He could have made my way easy.
but He didn't.
He has given me the opportunity to trust,
or not to trust.
but by His grace,
i will overcome evil with good
by faith.

He will show mercy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

dawn

weeping may endure for the night,
David wrote,
but joy comes in the morning.

there is a season for grief,
another for dancing.

Job prospers,
suffers,
and prospers again.

Joseph is enslaved,
promoted,
imprisoned,
and ultimately reigns.

David conquers,
flees royal jealousy,
refuses to avenge himself,
then sees God abase his enemies
and exalt him to the promised throne.

Jesus humbles Himself.
He heals,
serves,
teaches.
He dies and is buried.
but joy comes in the morning
with resurrection power!

i follow Him.
in green pastures,
by still waters,
through the valley of the shadow of death,
in the presence of my enemies.
surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and joy will come in the morning.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

thanksgiving produces joy

rejoice evermore.
pray without ceasing.
in everything give thanks.

oh, Lord, grant me the grace to obey You.

Friday, February 6, 2009

a sacrifice of joy

so what did he mean--
the shepherd-king David,
with his sacrifices of joy?

when in pain,
when in anguish,
when afflicted,
when betrayed,
i will praise You.

You are worthy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Thankful Spirit

In the third chapter of Created to Be His Help Meet, Debi contrasts "a merry heart vs. a poor-me attitude." She explains that a "downcast, unthankful attitude is a dishonor to God."

This has been one of the hardest weeks of my life, and I have cried a lot. This is extremely unusual for me. I seldom cry. In the midst of the distresses that came into my life, I was comforted to remember that Solomon said that "There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven--A time to weep, and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance." In the middle of all the distress, the Lord reminded me that I have many things for which I can be thankful. He didn't tell me what they were; that was my assignment. It was hard at first. But in time I have thought of quite a few blessings, any one of which outweighs the burdens that I am bearing right now. God Himself, with His great love for me is at the top of the list. In time I found myself content, even though the circumstances didn't change. The contentment was a gift from God, but one that I had to take the time to unwrap.

Oh, there is a time to grieve. But I don't want to wallow in it. No person or relationship or circumstance is perfect. As Edith Schaeffer wrote, "People throw away what they could have by insisting on perfection which they cannot have, and looking for it where they will never find it." The answer to dealing with imperfection is to learn the grace of contentment and thankfulness.

I love this poem that was submitted by Dillon and Patti Bayes to Good Housekeeping in 1994. They won a cruise for Valentine's Day, if my memory serves me correctly, as a result of winning the contest to which they submitted it.

"We gave. . .
when we wanted to receive.
We served. . .
when we wanted to feast.
We shared. . .
when we wanted to keep.
We listened. . .
when we wanted to talk.
We submitted. . .
when we wanted to reign.
We forgave. . .
when we wanted to remember.
We stayed. . .
when we wanted to leave."

That is the foundation and conclusion of contentment.

I can be content for Jesus. He will help me too.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

hope

"O afflicted one,
storm-tossed,
and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
And all your sons will be taught of the LORD,
And the well-being of your sons will be great.
In righteousness you will be established;
You will be far from oppression,
for you will not fear;
And from terror,
for it will not come near you.

If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.
Whoever assails you will fall because of you.
Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows
the fire of coals,
And brings out a weapon for its work;
And I have created the destroyer to ruin.
No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment
you will condemn.

This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD,
And their vindication is from Me,"
declares the LORD.

Isaiah 54:11-17

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Merry Heart, chapter 2 of Created to Be His Help Meet

Debi Pearl heads the chapter with this verse, "The joy of the Lord is my strength." Probably this is the most important statement she could have made. Constant joy simply cannot be manufactured from our determined willpower. Nor can the "joy of the Lord" be dependent on our husbands. Please recall that part of the fruit of the Spirit of God is joy, and understand that He alone can be the source of unfailing joy.

Marriage can be the source of a certain measure of happiness and laughter. But husbands are human and they are sinners. We cannot think that having a good-humored approach to circumstances will cause our husbands to see things our way, or cause them to be more godly and considerate. Rather, we should rejoice in the Lord always, because no matter what our circumstances are, He is greater than both our joys and trials and will be glorified in them.

I say this with caution: sometimes our joy and our merry hearts can be an irritation to our husbands. There is a time for everything, a time to laugh and a time to weep. God has made everything beautiful in His time, and we should obey Him for His pleasure.

That said, I want to say that this chapter grated on me a little the first time (or maybe the first few times) I read it, because Debi kept talking about sickliness being connected with being uncheerful. To make a long story short, I, who was continually sickly, determined to prove that maintaining cheerful thoughts would not improve my health.

Thankfully, I proved Debi right. "The joy of the Lord is my strength," and "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

Other passages about God's involvement in my healing: Psalm 103:1-6, Proverbs 3:1-10, and Isaiah 40:28-31.

Friday, January 23, 2009

joy

it is a pale pink wild rose
with a drop of dew in its heart
when she holds a newborn baby
in her arms.

it is a crimson rose
half opened
when she takes pleasure in her husband,
moved with holy passion,
in the half darkness.

it is a burning orange flame
giving warmth to her home,
dancing and vibrant,
as she serves God
by serving her family,
her community.

it is a golden glow
as she radiantly observes the accomplishments
of her husband
and children,
and she knows,
deep down in her heart,
that she had a part in their successes.

it is a growing like the greenness
of a tree,
persevering through hardship,
flourishing in rain and sunshine,
drawing nourishment
from a source unseen by human eyes.

it is limitless like the azure sky,
stretching beyond the boundaries of imagination.

it is midnight blue,
star-studded,
when it mingles with grief.

it is the purple comfort of hearts-ease,
the purple pungency of lavender,
and the purple fragrance of lilac.

this is joy.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Created to Be His Help Meet, Introduction and Chapter One

Shaina at Biblical Homemaking is hosting a discussion on the book Created to Be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl.

God tells us in His Word that He created man and woman, and that He Himself joined them in marriage in the paradise that He created our world to be. Before they ever fell from grace by their disobedience, He brought them together in a pure and beautiful union. In that perfect environment, God designed woman to be man's ideal assistant.

I have wondered what exactly Eve was supposed to help Adam do, and I found the answer in noticing the tasks that God gave Adam before the fall of man. First, man was supposed to rule the earth (Genesis 1:26-28), he was supposed to "multiply and replenish the earth" (Genesis 1:28), and he was supposed to eat of all the plants except the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:16-17).

Later God led Solomon to write these beautiful and comforting words:
He who finds a wife finds a good thing,
And obtains favor from the LORD.

When God leads a woman into marriage, He is showing a man His favor! Practically, that means that I am a specially designed gift to my husband! While that is a beautiful thought, it brings with it a tremendous responsibility! I am responsible to God for being the gift He intended for me to be to my husband. As Debi said in the heading for chapter one, "A wise woman doesn't take anything for granted. She is thankful to be loved and seeks to make herself more lovely."

That is sobering, but I don't have to do it on my own! He will help me to grow to be more and more what He designed me to be!

So putting this together, I try to see how I can fulfill His design for my husband and our union in our present world that is far from paradise. In the same way He gave Adam a responsibility to fulfill his vocation, a responsibility to father, and a responsibility to obey God; He has given my husband these responsibilities.

As Mark's perfect, God-given helper, I want to do all I can to support him in the vocation God has given him. I want to help him raise children. And I want to encourage him to obey God in all things.

Oh, how I desire for my marriage to be as nearly like that union in paradise that God originally intended for marriage to be!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

dangerous fantasy

reality
does not follow
the script she has prepared.
so she tries
to delete
reality.
but all that she can delete
are a few words
on a computer screen.

she says to you,
"i want to be friends with you.
but there are two rules.
you have to approve of everything i say or do.
you cannot say or do anything that i do not approve."

absurd fantasy!
does she think she is your god?

but it begs the question,
why is your approval so important?
if you see her engaging in self-destructive behavior,
you cannot express concern?
cannot warn of danger?

she feels threatened by disapproval.

how can creature demand unconditional approval?
how totally absurd!
how impossible!


she also has two rules for God.
He will be totally pleased,
grateful,
and satisfied
with any effort at religion that she chooses.
He will not be offended at anything she does
in between
those religious thoughts or acts.

this is a dangerous fantasy.

truly dangerous.

He created her,
and in Him she lives and moves and has her being.
He is everywhere around her,
and she is totally dependent on Him
for her well-being,
her talents,
her abilities,
even the air that she breathes.

and she thinks she can make rules for Him?

she is warned:
do not be afraid of mere humans,
the worst they can do is kill your body.
you need to fear God,
who not only can end your human life,
but also controls your eternal destiny.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

He knocked

i was four years old.

i don't know why my mom decided to do this,
but while she was working in the kitchen,
she set me on the counter
and with determination
taught me a Bible verse:

behold,
I stand at the door and knock,
if any man hear My voice
and open the door,
I will come in
and sup with him
and he with Me.

over and over i tried to say it.
i didn't really want to work at this.
i was tired of sitting up there,
and wanted to get down.
but i couldn't until i could say
the
whole
thing.

finally i could say it,
and off i went,
indifferent to the One who was knocking,
knocking at my heart's door.

but the seed had been sown.

i became aware of the message
of one of the Sunday School songs:
one door and only one,
and yet its sides are two,
inside and outside,
on which side are you?

oh, it was just a fun little song
with hand motions
and a catchy tune.
it delighted me.

and as time went on
we moved across the country
and at a different Sunday School
i learned another song:
behold,
behold,
I stand at the door
and knock, knock, knock. . .
behold,
behold,
I stand at the door
and knock, knock, knock. . .
if any boy hear My voice,
if any girl hear My voice,
and will open, open, open the door
I will come in.

another catchy tune with fun hand motions.

and about the same time i received a little card
with a long-haired, patient Jesus
apparently knocking
on the outside of a cottage door.

there were words on the back,
but i couldn't read.

it was all a lovely mystery
in my child-mind.

then one night
moved with jealousy
because my parents were all happy
because my brother "got saved",
i asked what that meant.

my mother took a wordless book
and showed me the colors
and explained that my heart was all dirty with sin,
but Jesus died,
and His blood could wash away my sin
and make my heart whiter than snow.
then when i died, He would take me to heaven.

oh, i opened the door of my heart that night,
and Jesus came in!

all jealousy was forgotten.

i became His, and He was now mine.

and that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

sobering

"Now I urge you,
brethren,
keep your eye on those who cause dissensions
and hindrances
contrary to the teaching which you learned,
and turn away from them.
For such men are slaves,
not of the Lord Christ
but of their own appetites;
and by their smooth and flattering speech
they deceive the hearts
of the unsuspecting.
For the report of your obedience has reached to all,
therefore I am rejoicing over you,
but I want you to be wise in what is good,
and innocent in what is evil.
And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

"The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

Paul wrote the quoted passage to the church at Rome.
But since Scripture is given by the Spirit of God moving men,
and it is all profitable for me to receive
so that I can grow to think, speak, and act more like the God I so dearly love,
I don't brush it off.

God would not have given me this instruction
if I weren't going to be around people like this.
I need to think about who I know who is like this,
and then I need to trust God and His instruction enough
to do what He has told me to do.

I ask myself,
"Do I know anyone like this?"

I almost close my Bible and go on my way.
But I know God better than this
after the time we have spent together.

I lay aside the "do I know anyone"
and ask instead, "Who do I know that is like this?
Who do I know who causes dissension,
and raises objections to what the Scripture says?
Lord, help me to be fair in my evaluation."
Some people come to mind--
people who I want to please,
people who I want to impress.
"Lord, what is it again that you tell me to do with this people?"
I hesitate.
He wants me to turn away from them.
Avoid them.

Part of me cries out,
"You're kidding, right?
this is a poetical metaphor?
or maybe it only applied to that time and place?"
No, it is clear, and it is for me.

There is a short struggle.

"God, I will do it Your way,
but You are going to have to help me,
because You know this is going to make me look bad.
Don't You know about the 'peace at any price' game?
You don't play that game?
You won't sacrifice truth or justice or mercy in order to gain peace?
You must have some reason for this command.
I think I need to have my thought-processes changed,
because otherwise I am not going to be able to do this.

"How do You see these people--the ones who cause division,
the ones who place obstacles in the way of understanding Your teaching?"

Time passes as I reflect on what this Scripture says.

They are slaves,
slaves to their appetites,
not slaves to Christ.
How so?
Slaves to an appetite for control?
Slaves to an appetite for their own fame?
Slaves to an appetite for money?
Slaves to an appetite for conflict?
Slaves to an appetite for superiority?
If this is true, then of course they cannot be slaves of Christ.
I can see this clearly now.

"How was it that You said they work?
By smooth and flattering speech?
Oh, Lord, I have been vulnerable to this smoothness,
and I have an appetite for flattery.
Please help me to yearn for your approval,
and to be indifferent to the approval or disapproval of people."


Time passes in contemplation of how this Scripture will look
when it is lived out in my day to day life.
"Oh, Lord, by accusing them of flattery,
You are warning me that their compliments are insincere--
or if sincere,
given only to achieve their own purposes.
Lord, are You saying that they are only using me?

"You are saying that with their flattery,
they deceive the hearts
of the unsuspecting.

"They are deceiving?
They are deceiving the hearts?
They are deceiving the hearts of the unsuspecting?

"Oh, Lord, this is ugly.
If anyone but You were telling me this,
I would be angry.
But since it is You,
I am afraid--
afraid of straying away from You.

"Please grant me the strength and wisdom to obey you in this.
Help me to be wise about what is good,
and innocent in what is evil.

"Regardless of how contrary this is to my human way of thinking,
I am aware that You are here,
and You have brought Your peace.
I will trust that You will do as You said,
and soon,
soon crush Satan
under our feet."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

new year's eve, evening

watch night service.

i always wondered what it meant.
but i think that we are watching the old year end
and the new one begin,
in joyful unity
with our brothers and sisters
in the family of God.

so at 7:00 in the evening
we gathered for a service.
young families
and older couples and singles.
we lifted our voices in praise to the Lord
who brought us through the year.
the leader brought his testimony of salvation,
highlighted with slides from the time of his conversion.
others witnessed of the ways God had cared for them
this past year.

we gathered for a late evening meal;
homemade noodle soup,
cheese and crackers,
ginger snaps and pumpkin dip,
coffee or hawaiian punch.

sweet fellowship and goodwill abounded
as we played different board games.
laughter rippled back and forth wherever the young people were.
groups gathered,
the younger and elder,
male and female,
more educated and less educated,
different races,
different social levels
believers and unbelievers,
brought together
for the purpose of exalting Christ.

oh, i understand
that not everyone comprehended that purpose--
the small children,
the lost.


but the clear evidence of the fruit of the Spirit
was glorious to see.

new year's eve, afternoon

my husband came home early for lunch,
and we left for a small town
half an hour away
for a funeral.

the dear sister who had
entered her Father's courts with singing
and His gates with praise
would have celebrated her 101st birthday
had her homegoing delayed nine more days.

one hundred one years of living.

she was placed in the state orphanage
along with several of her younger siblings
when her mother died.

if i recall correctly,
she was seven years old at that time.

life was not easy.

but at some point she came to know Jesus
as her Lord and Savior.

she married at the age of fifteen
to a man fourteen years her senior.
he loved her deeply and tenderly,
and they started their family;
nine children,
six of whom lived to adulthood.

one hundred one years.
almost a hundred direct descendants,
and then all those who married into the family
or were adopted.

her former pastor opened in prayer.
five of her granddaughters and greatgranddaughters
sang "amazing grace."
humble people,
heartfelt song.

a grandson read Psalm 23.

a granddaughter arose to give a message
from her grandmother.

she spoke quietly but passionately,
"grandma told me that when she died,
i was not to say anything about her,
but only to speak of her Savior.
she wants every one of you to know,
to consider."
the gospel was presented clearly,
and an appeal was made to those
who had not yet made their peace with God.

my own heart cried out,
"Lord, make hearts tender to Your truth!"

some hardened faces softened
as they heard their matriarch's desire for them.
some hard faces
hardened still further.
others showed
that their hearts vibrated in sympathy
with her wishes.

the former pastor arose to give the eulogy.
by his own explanation,
the dear lady
who was now in the home that her Father had prepared for her
had been as a mother to him.
he also knew her heart,
and spent his time presenting the good news
of God's plan to redeem mankind
one individual at a time.
o precious family members,
she was concerned about your spiritual needs!
please do not turn your back
on the Savior!

the granddaughters and greatgranddaughters sang,
"how great Thou art!"

people shared their memories.

the congregation sang
"God be with you till we meet again."

we took the long drive to the country graveyard.
the weather was unseasonably warm,
at least twenty degrees
rather than temperatures well below zero.
still, we all shivered in the sunshine
as the final words were said;
we are leaving our dear sister's body here,
but there is coming a day
when this body will be raised
a glorious body,
(something we can't understand,
but yearn to experience).
we will be reunited.

after returning to the church,
we ate of the bountiful reception meal,
visited with family members
and the church members who had provided the meal.

then returned home.