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Over the past few years my blog has been visited by people from all over the world. Very few know me, or of me, they simply are looking information concerning the Bible and discover my blog. After many years of intense study and teaching, I've come to believe we are vulnerable to misguided and incorrect teaching if we don't understand for ourselves the teaching of God's Word. My 'hot buttons' are - grace, sovereignty, exhortations and sanctification. If you understand these basic principles of Scripture, and apply them to daily life, you will understand what it means to have peace, joy and absolute security in any circumstance.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

ANGRY OR GRATEFUL


"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude to me is more important than facts. It's more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company...a church...a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past...we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me, and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes."

        These profound words were written by Pastor Charles Swindoll many years ago. Yes, I agree; on a very practical level, life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% how you react to it.

        We all know people who are so angry, they are toxic. We avoid negative toxic people; it's better that way. There is no 'one size fits all'; there are many reasons for anger. Often the person who attacks you is more angry at themselves than you. They may be very unhappy about their circumstances or something that has happened in the past and never resolved. Many become very angry that they can't control their life or others in their life.

        In other words, they are not at peace with themselves or the world. If you are a Christian, you can find peace, even joy in knowing a sovereign God loves you; you are His child. He is always watching out for you and has a plan for your life and He will bring it to pass, even when you think it's hopeless.

"For I know the plans I have for you , declares the Lord, plans for  welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11 -  NAS Version

         It's easier at times to see what is wrong in our life rather than what we have to be grateful for. I had a friend a few years ago who woke up one morning and couldn't see, she was blind. Rather than become angry and bitter that she had lost her sight, she was so grateful for the many years she could see. She and her husband became active in an organization that help the blind and visually impaired. The Lord used them to witness to others with the same struggle and they became a source for hope and inspiration.

        Once we understand that whatever comes our way is from the hand of God, anger turns to acceptance and then acceptance can turn into gratitude. Instead of being mad at the world, we can praise the Lord and walk by faith. "...for we walk by faith, not by sight..." 2 Corinthians 5:7.  

        As you celebrate Thanksgiving Day ask the Lord for an 'attitude of gratitude'. Worth repeating, "Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you deal with it."

        If you have started to think about Christmas gifts, you may want to take a look at these two titles on Amazon. The God Who Sees Me is a collection of my blogs, and How is The Day? is about the experience I had as a short term missionary in Uganda, Africa with the Rafiki organization. Both of these books are available as e-books, very inexpensive, or hard copy.




 
Lord we are grateful for the all the good things you have given us. Help us to see them so we can replace anger with gratitude.








Monday, November 6, 2017

WHY LORD?

Oh no, not again we all thought when hearing the news that another tragic event had taken place in the U.S. This time a shooting at a church in a small town in Texas. God is no stranger to tragedy, in fact He set the stage for the biggest tragedy in the history of mankind - the fall of man into sin. 

"Now the serpent (Satan) was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
Genesis 3:1

The woman replied that they could eat from the trees except the tree in the middle of the garden and if they touched it, they, Adam and Eve, would die! Satan immediately begin to sow the seeds of doubt, "You will not surely die."

From the beginning God had planned a way to sift the wheat from the tares and the sheep from the goats. Those who would belong to Him were chosen from the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of or Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it."  I Thessalonians 5:23 - 25

Going back to the dawn of man, our Lord has taken His hands off of us and allowed Satan to enter our life. Just as God's character hasn't changed and never will, neither has Satan's who was a liar and deceiver from the beginning.

In some respect, the Bible is a record of one tragic event after another. To mention a few - man being separated from God in the Garden of Eden, Cain and Able - man kills his brother, the flood that covered the earth, the plagues of Egypt and parting of the Red Sea drowning the entire Egyptian army. 

Was the Egyptian Pharaoh in charge, no God was. I thought of Pharaoh as a very stubborn man until I read in Exodus over and over again that it was God who hardened Pharaoh's heart and God was always in control of the timing and events that occurred.

"But I will harden Pharaoh's heart and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you."
Exodus 7:4

Remember what appeared to be a tragedy when Jacob's son Joseph was thrown down a well and left to die because his brother's were very jealous of him. God had a plan and Joseph later told his brothers. . .

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Genesis 50:20

Joseph told his family that they weren't responsible for him being in Egypt, God sent him there and made him ruler of all Egypt.When tragic events take place, cry out 'Why Lord?' because ultimately He is the One in charge of everything. He doesn't always answer us.

The only way we can understand what the Lord is doing is not by trying to figure it all out, but to walk in faith trusting the One who loves us and has promised a day will come when peace and joy will reign. We need to remember these words. . .

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. 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

"In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will."  Ephesians 1:11

Poor Job suffered so many heart wrenching loses and lived with much pain, sadness and bewilderment. He has become the poster boy of hard times! Did you know that it was God Himself who invited Satan into Job's life. . ."Have you considered my servant Job?" God asked Satan. Job 1:8 However we see in verse 12 that God set boundaries that Satan could not surpass. God was firmly in control. 

1 John 4 states that God is love. We love, but God is love - there is a difference. Our love can melt away in a heartbeat when someone attacks us. All through Scripture the Lord proclaims love for His children. As long as we live in this world we will have to deal with evil, lots of it. Sometimes it comes on you so quickly it's like being in a snow storm and not being able to get your sense of direction, feeling lost and confused - where is the right road? 

But be assured, evil will not last forever; God has promised an end to it. For those who know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they have absolute assurance that all will end well. It was Jesus who paid the price for all the evil, believers have been washed clean, white as snow. 

The Lord knows our emotions and when our hearts are broken - can't help but think His is too - like your child having to deal with something awful in their life, you cry for them. We only see a finite picture, God sees into infinity. He knows the beginning and the end. He will work the bad for good for those He loves. Don't waiver in your trust for the Living Lord. 

Thank you Lord that even though we don't always understand your plan and purpose that we can trust you anyway. Fear doesn't have to be a part of our life. 






Thursday, October 12, 2017

THE VINE - JOHN 15


THE ROSE AND THE STORM







I sat at my desk one morning,
looked out the window,
and watched a rose
the color of a ripe apricot
dancing in the wind, 
pelted by rain.


This rose in hues of
yellow and orange
lay against the fence
peeked in my window
and asked to be rescued.


The wind gained strength.
I watched with sadness as
this lovely blossom
on a long thin branch
was buffeted about.


My eyes are fixed on the rose
as it looks in the window
and pleads for help.
Will its beauty be scared?
Will it even survive?

Another gust of wind comes
and in its violence
whips the rose
until my heart aches.

I can hardly watch,
I want to run out and rescue it.
In my confusion, I cry out - *
and then I know it must
stay connected to the vine.

The next day the sun is out.
I run outside to see the rose  
and spot two small tears
among the fragile petals.

The little rose looks happy
bouncing gently in the breeze,
battered, but not broken,
alive, enjoying the sun,
connected to the vine.

 * "Abba Father", Galatians 4:6


 

THE VINE
JOHN, CHAPTER 15


I watched this little drama unfold one stormy winter day, an uncommon event in Southern California.  I had great empathy for this beautiful little rose and wanted it to survive the storm, intact.  I too want to survive the storms in my life, intact.

We, like the rose, are whipped around in this life here on earth.  At least that is how it often feels.  We seem to be at the mercy of circumstances far beyond our control, and actually, we are.  But we believers have discovered an astonishing truth.  Because we have a relationship with the One who is in control, no matter what our difficulty, we are able to experience peace and contentment.

Knowing a sovereign God, and by faith believing He has a perfect plan, often hidden from us, we resist the temptation to ‘fix it’.  We simply picture ourselves as a branch connected to the vine from which all life flows.  God doesn’t expect us to right all the wrongs, heal all the hurts and set things right with the world we’re surrounded by.  What He does expect is for us to know who He is - a patient, just, loving and totally sovereign God who is capable of working ‘all things together for good’ for those who are His children, Romans 8:28.

In John chapter 15, Jesus is the true vine and God the Father is the gardener.  It is the Father who prunes us so we will grow fruit that will be to His glory.  This pruning process is not always pleasant, but will ultimately produce a harvest of righteousness and peace – Hebrews 12:11.

Our part then, is to stay connected to Jesus and trust Him, …"for He is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and great joy" – Jude 24.

Thank you Lord that we can cling to you when we are in distress. I pray that those who've recently struggled through our disasters - three hurricanes, mass shooting in Las Vegas and the almost too awful to conceive - fires in Northern California that have destroyed so many acres, so many homes and taken lives, will be comforted by You and encouraged by Your love.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

LOOK FOR THE SILVER LINING


On the second day of creation God said...

"Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it...God called the expanse "sky." Genesis 1:6 - 8

Easy, right? Just make a sky!  Only God could do that and I believe the sky is one of His most magnificent creations. I'm fascinated with cloud formations and sunsets. I think I took this picture in Italy on the Amalfi coast looking over the water toward the Isle of Capri.

We've had bright blue pre-fall skies and then in late afternoon a few dark clouds drift in. The waning sun plays around, darting in and out among the clouds creating dazzling silver linings. It's this kind of sky that I can imagine Jesus coming down through the clouds at the end of this age. 

"At that time they will see the Son of Man (Jesus) coming in a cloud with power and great glory"  Luke 21:27

God gave Jesus the name above all names that every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2: 9-10. This is a thrilling verse, you might want to read it yourself. 

When that day comes, I'm sure the clouds will have silver linings, maybe gold! My sister-in-law Joy always signed her letters with "Keep looking up." None of us know exactly what tomorrow may bring, but we can know this for sure. . .there will come a day when Christ will return to earth. 

If the prophecies of the Bible don't come true, then we might doubt that the Word of God is true and accurate. Peter W. Stoner, a professor of mathematics was joined in a study by Dr. Robert C. Newman of Cornell University. Jesus fulfilled all 300 Old Testament prophecies. They chose eight of these and mathematically came up with the probability of one man fulfilling all eight prophesies. This is what the figure looks like -

1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 or, 1 in 10 to the 28th power. Pretty incredible, right? I think you will agree, only God could do that. So, what does that mean to us - our hope of the Lord coming again is on solid footing. He keeps His promises, every single one! 

We too have clouds in our lives, sometimes very dark ones that can tear us apart. But know this, whatever comes our way is from the hand of the Lord, and He loves us and has prepared a place for us in heaven to be with him. We can push those dark clouds away because the Son is shining through and look for the silver lining.  He said...

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you Lord that You are God, the One who works all things together for our good even during our worst times You are there beside us and will never forsake us.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

CAN GOD STOP A HURRICANE?

These past several days most of us have followed the course of two hurricanes that hit our nation's shores. Lives were lost, property destroyed, havoc and chaos reigned where these vicious storms landed in the United States as well as some beautiful Caribbean islands. 

I'm well aware that barely a week goes by that some place in the world isn't coping with a catastrophe of one kind or another. We also have our own storms in life - someone or some event that tears through us leaving us shaken and devastated. This is what a hurricane does, tears apart and destroys, even kills, what is important to us.

How then, can we believe that our loving Father, who deals with us in grace with mercy, would have anything to do with a killer hurricane, flood, fires or earthquakes? The Bible says He does. At times I'm  tempted to ignore some parts of Scripture so only God's kindness and love is pictured. Shame on me! No one needs to, or should, make excuses or shield anyone from the whole picture of who God is. God is God and those of us who love Him don't need to defend him. We tend to judge through 'worldly' eyes. What looks tragic to us is not how God views the situation. He has a plan and purpose for all that happens. 

Whenever I begin to question what the Lord is doing I think of Job. If you've read his story in the book of Job you'll remember that God dealt rather harshly with him and his family - who, for all to see, were innocent people who were just living their lives. Job got frustrated, his faith appeared to be shaken and he asked God to answer some of his questions ...

Job 38:1 "Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm."

Vs. 4 -5 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me if you understand who marked off its dimensions. Surely you know!" 
Vs. 8 "Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb?"
vs. 16 "Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?"
vs. 33 "Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?"
vs. 37 "Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together?"

These are just a few verses - you will be so blessed if you read the book of Job for yourself; it's pure poetry! The result of this 'conversation' that occurred, was that Job was totally humbled by the sovereign creator of the universe as we would be. God made it quite clear that He'd engineered every detail for the purpose for which it was made and He has sovereign authority. We are so small in our understanding and the Lord is so big, and so in control!

Psalm 107 begins with. . ."his love endures forever." Because we can count on the fact that God's love will endure forever, we can cry out to Him and know that He will respond to us. Four times in Psalm 107 the people "cried out to the Lord" and they were delivered from their distress. He wants us to come to Him, He wants a relationship with His children just as we desire a relationship with our children. Notice this, after the fourth time the people cried out to the Lord, 

"He stilled the storm to a whisper, the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven."  Psalm 107:29

This Psalm passage goes on to report how after a period of judgement of "wickedness" the Lord restored this land. 

Has our Lord set before us these calamities of life to punish us for our sinful human nature? No, He wants us to know our human nature is sinful and He has a person, Jesus Christ, who will pay the price so we can live eternally in heaven. He wants to build faith and trust in those who love Him. Those who deny God will never trust or have faith. 

"You (the Lord) have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat." 
Isaiah 25:4

Can God stop a hurricane? Yes, He can! Does He always chose to? Obviously, no. He allows our belongings and even sometimes our lives to be taken by a storm. Based on human thinking, this doesn't make sense if He truly loves us. God's wisdom is always foolish to those who don't believe...I Corinthians I. The Lord is the author and finisher of our faith...Hebrews 12:2. We simply trust Him. I know, this appears to be 'too simple'. We try and make our heavenly Father complicated, but He's not. 

The God of the Bible is always pointing us to His Son; the One He sent to become Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

Jesus - the name above all names!

Thank you Lord that even though we don't always understand what you are doing, and why you are doing it, we can count on you to do what You've planned and purposed from the beginning of time. Help us learn to have peace in every circumstance and trust you completely.




Thursday, August 17, 2017

WOW, A MIRACULOUS MUSEUM

I was thrilled recently when I heard about a new museum being built in the heart of Washington, D.C. This museum will be called The Museum of the Bible. I was not only thrilled but astonished! How could this happen in our country that is becoming so secular? Oh, that's right, I forgot the God of the universe can do anything He wants to do and He wanted a museum in our Capital that would honor His Word, the Bible.

I recently picked up some literature about the museum. I'm going to quote a few words here. " WE EXIST TO INVITE ALL PEOPLE TO ENGAGE WITH THE BIBLE. I love the "all people". The museum will have traveling exhibits, I believe they've already begun. I hope to experience this museum personally but many won't be able to do that so these exhibits are vital to sharing God's Word, literally throughout the world.

The building will be eight stories high and have 430,000 square feet! They will be "developing a cutting-edge Bible curriculum using the latest in interactive technology, and pioneering groundbreaking research and raising up the next generation of biblical scholars through its Scholars Initiative." The brochure further states that. . .

"The Bible speaks to issues relevant to all humanity. Throughout the millennia, it has been passed on from generation to generation and from continent to continent. The beauty and historical impact of this book is for all people."

You can go on-line for more information - museumofthebible.org
or if you'd like to be involved with this historic museum go to www.1mn.me

I wrote this poem a few years ago; it seems appropriate to again share it with this blog.

THE WORD

I love the feel
   of a Bible 
in my hand.

The sequence of words,
   the rhythm of the phrase,
the creation of a metaphor
   on the page.

As I turn the delicate pages, 
   fragile and thin, 
pregnant with wisdom

I applaud the genius
   of the One who
gave birth to the living Word.

Seeking truth
   a message is revealed
that pierces my heart.

The discovery of a loving,
   sovereign God,
abounding in grace
   brings great joy
and much peace.

Thank you Lord for giving the world this wonderful museum. I know you will raise up those who will support it so your gospel of love can be shared with all your people.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT CHURCH

Most church-going believers do this from to time; 'church dating' or 'church hopping', looking for a group that is just right for them. Some judge the church by the friendliness of the people who attend, good Bible studies, activities and classes for their children, or a fun group of seniors to be with. Some are very attentive to the type of music played, how often communion is served or, as in my case, good teaching of Biblical principles, doctrine and theology. I can be a little forgiving if I sense a strong love for Jesus and His Word. Priests, ministers and pastors are first and foremost human beings who are not perfect people, but whom God has chosen to lead. 

You need to see yourself as a sinner who has been saved by the grace of God. The first requirement to becoming a Christian is to understand that you are a sinner. This is a big stretch for a lot of us who think of ourselves as 'good' people. In our minds, we've pretty much kept the Ten Commandments, or at least tried to. Of course we ultimately have to admit that we're not 'perfect'.

Now this presents a big problem as only those who are perfect will be in heaven and have eternal life. We have a perfect God who has a perfect plan for His children and has created a perfect place for us to spend eternity. Heaven can be nothing but perfectly 'perfect'. He gave us the Ten Commandments (called the law) to show us that we need a Savior.

" So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the law."  Ephesians 3:24 -25

We can't generate our own faith, Ephesians 2:8 tells us that faith is a gift. We can't work for it or earn it by our good behavior. Hebrews 12:2 offers a further explanation of faith - Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. Some translations read, "initiator and finisher" - He starts and completes the faith we've been given. 

If you take a look at a passage in I Corinthians 12, you'll discover that "the church'' is literally the body of believers. The Old Testament refers to the Temple and Synagogues as actual buildings for worship, but the New Testament church isn't a physical place, building or organization - it is simply the believers!

I often hear people say they attend a particular church because they feel the Holy Spirit. I think this is a good thing about corporate worship, believers coming together as one to sing praises to the Lord and worship Him as a unit. In reality, if you have been 'born again' - John 3: 3 - 8, God's Spirit, which is the Holy Spirit, lives in you. Once the Lord has revealed Himself to you and His Spirit is in you, you don't need to look for it anyplace else, not in a particular church, or 'holy place'; it's part of you and can't be separated from you. 

So, why do we feel so alive in Christ at times and so blah...empty, fearful, angry and alone at other times?  The truth is that even though God's Spirit is with us, we can't always feel it.  John 3:8 explains -

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." Jesus said this.

Spiritual truth isn't like other 'truth'. I know that 8 x 10 = 80; I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I am the mother of five children, these facts will always be true. But one day I know that "in all things God works for good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose", Romans 8:28  Then a few days later I've forgotten this truth as I'm attacked (Satan is always involved with these events), and feel the need to defend my actions, or I might be sick, in physical pain and want to cry out - "Unfair!!" I am not able to feel the Holy Spirit in me and God's hand in mine. I'm not able to remember the spiritual truth that God is always working for my good - no matter how I perceive it at the moment and how miserable I am. 

God has a reason for this; learn to trust Him. If we were always 'high' on the Holy Spirit we might forget to come to the Lord for "our daily bread". We're like that you know - when life is good we feel powerful and not in need of our Creator. God wants us to have a relationship with Him; this is why He's given us His Spirit.

Almost daily, I experience little miracles, so do most believers. Sometimes we can't comprehend all that is taking place in the midst of these small miracles but that doesn't mean they are not happening. We need to look at our life through the lens of faith. At times, we experience a huge miracle and we say "Oh wow!" That is the Lord allowing you to feel His presence.

Trust that the Lord will guide you to the church of His choosing and you'll be satisfied there. You may be at a certain church for a very specific reason that you may never know, but God knows. If you hear the gospel being distorted and a liberal 'philosophy' woven into your pastor's messages, it's probably time to leave with good cause. By all means, tell the pastor, elder board, whoever seems appropriate, why you are leaving. 

Above all, give thanks in all circumstances, I Thessalonians 5:18. Know that if you know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit resides in you and you, as part of the body of believers, are the church. 

Thank you Lord for giving us direction when we ask for it. Help us to be patient in our search for perfection and to know that eternal life with you in heaven is utter perfection!