We hear so much about the persecuted church. We play out in our minds just how we would react if storm troopers burst into our houses of worship and demanded that all of us to denounce the name of Christ. We complain about how the government is working so hard to remove any trace of God and His Word. We see and cluck our tongues at how history is being rewritten.

Yes, there are Muslim countries where one’s faith in Jesus Christ just might get you killed. For most of us, however, the danger isn’t persecution but rather it is seduction. The world is a delight to our senses. We relish the idea of a steamy hot cappucinno on a cold day like today. The heat from the fireplace draws us like moths to a flame. The whir of the computer or colors of the TV keep us easily captivated.

Rather than focus on how we will react when a full persecution comes to the church, perhaps we should examine how we a are reacting to the seducing tactics the enemy has already employed. He has us square in his cross hairs today. He is good at what he does. We must be on guard.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field

which the Lord had made.

And he said unto the woman,

yea hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:1

…and the battle began.

Beware–seduction of far more dangerous that persecution.

So tomorrow we will kick off the “Cheeses for Jesus” food drive. The goal here is to get cheese or cheese related foods to your local Gospel Rescue Mission.

I personally would love to see the Medford Gospel Women’s Shelter on Bartlett (between Jackson and Maple) inudated with deliciously cheesy foods, but anywhere you feel led to give is great! The men’s shelter is nearby on Jackson…and I know they need food too.

We chose cheese because it holds well and it has good nutritional value. Besides its fun to say “Cheeses for Jesus!”

Let’s continue to give up through Good Friday.

Many of you blog followers, facebook friends and email buddies are not even in Oregon, but don’t let that stop you. Give where ever you are and whatever you can!

Have a fabulous day!!!

Remember its OK to be cheesy

Today was a bit of a bear at work.  Sometimes Mondays just go that way. I stepped in to find some misjudgments had been made over the weekend and it was my job to fix things.

One of the drivers at work is often saying “I’ve got another fire for you to put out.” Sometimes it feels like that is all I do, problem solve. I understand that as manager, solving problems is part of my job. But there are days that I think people are purposely screwing up just to drive me insane! Today, well, it was one of those days. I felt overwhelmed and underappreciated.

So there I was in my “am I the only around here who gives 100%?” attitude; being all snotty and annoyed at everything. I stayed that way for a good 45 minutes. What a waste! What a boob! I finally realized how silly I was being and shook off the Jonah-tude.

At lunch I drove to a close by park and just sat in my car. I returned a few phone calls, opened my Bible and read a few scriptures, took some deep breathes, did some praying and then returned to work.

The rest of the day was much better–surprise!!! Spending time in prayer usually gets my mind (and heart) back where it needs to be.

Being a Monday, my husband and I usually join a few others at church for corporate intercessory prayer. We gather, shoot the breeze for a bit, share our prayer needs and then hit our knees for however long we need. Tonight I shared (among other things) about my grumpy attitude at work. I told them (confessed) about how frustrated I was and that it was only after my lunch break that I felt better. And its probably important to note there was no lunch in my break, as I fast on Mondays. So its not like a PBJ and a bag of chips did the trick. No, it was the quiet time with the Lord.

While I was praying tonight I was seeking an answer for how to keep my mind, my heart right while at work.  I saw the folks who come in to the shop. Many are grieving-ordering funeral flowers. Many times the men who come in are burdened, uncertain of how to show their wives they care. Some are just angry that they “have” to buy their wife flowers for “her” anniversary. All the people who come in have something in them. I could sense God was challenging me to extract something from these folks. “Get something out of them they had not really intended on giving.” And, no, God was not telling me to upsale the customer and get more money from them. He was telling me to unburden them. Give them the chance to unload a trouble or even to share in a joy.

Then I got “extract the precious from the vile”. I knew I had read that in scripture before. When I got home I looked it up. Its in Jeremiah. I believe God was telling me to (a.) Listen to folks. Draw something out of them. And to (b.) look at folks. See how precious they are to Him.

This is a vile world. But to God, all people are precious. Just as I hope He considers me precious enough to extract me from this world, He wants me to see others just as precious.

So tomorrow my goal is to draw out something from each customer who comes in; to listen intently and to see all as precious. Pray for me.

February 1, 2010

It appears it has been eight months since I posted on this blog. WOW! Really? That long?

A great deal has happened in that short span of time. Two daughters have married. Another has seperated from her husband. All four grandsons are doing well. My husband has become increasingly uncomfortable with symptoms of a yet undiagnosed condition. My work load has become a bit more demanding. I have discovered the convenience of staying in touch via facebook.

Just this week a great deal has happened. One daughter lost a baby in her fourth month of pregnancy. It has been devestating. She is in Germany so I cannot even hold her as she mourns. Just last night my niece gave birth to a healthy baby boy. How wonderful for her. Seeing this new baby helped lift some of the sorrow from my heart over losing my first granddaughter.

This year will hold more heartbreak and joy, more obstacles and victories. more of God and His great plan for my life.

I am excited about…seeing my kids and grandkids continue to grow and learn….the prospect of more grandchildren….a trip in May to Germany…a cruise in July to Mexico…more stretching and learning…more passion with my husband….staying on task with this blog.

No spiritual insights tonight. Just wanted to get back on.

I love them that love me
and those that seek me early will find me.
Proverbs 8:17

One hot July morning, I felt the prompting from the Lord to get out of bed. The sun had not risen yet, so at first I rolled over and closed my eyes again. But there it was, that need to get out of bed and wait on the Lord to speak to me.
I stumbled to the living room, picked up my Bible, and plopped on the couch. Reaching up to turn on the light, I fought the urge to curl up with my afghan and go back to sleep. I opened to the chapter I had been reading out of and tried to focus on the lettering.
“Outside, go outside” the quiet voice seemed to be saying. So I stepped out on to the deck and planted myself in a lawn chair.
“OK, God, I’m here, now what?” was my attitude. The mosquitoes began buzzing around my head. I shooed them away. I waited to see just what it was God had to show me that he couldn’t have just shown me in the comfort of my soft bed.
God knows our hearts and hears our grumbling. “Put up with the bugs.” He whispered.
“OK, Lord, I will put up with these little critters annoying me. They are small and You are big. I need a big God right now.”
(Things in our household had been unsteady for the past several weeks. We were facing financial struggles and acts of rebellion by the kids. My strength was waning. I needed a new revelation from God.)
I moved over to sit on the tiny bridge next to our pond. I sat there in the humid morning, hoping today there would be break in the scorching temperatures we’d been having. Through the moonlight, I could see my little goldfish were frolicking around playing chase with each other. I was tempted to dip my feet in the pond for a little refreshing.
Then it started. Ripples in the pond began to appear. “What’s causing that?” I wondered. Plunk! A raindrop hit me in the back of the neck. It hadn’t rained for weeks and we desperately needed it. The fire danger in the surrounding mountains was extreme. I needed the rain too. It seemed to pour over me, washing away concerns and worries.
“Thank you, Lord, for the rain.”
I turned to face the eastern sky. I wanted to see the sunrise. Glorious colors emerged in the sky. I began to worship and praise God for this wonder that happens every morning. ( How is it we don’t appreciate this?)
My neighbors sunflowers were dancing in the wind. Out  darted two hummingbirds from behind the fence. My eyes followed them to other side of the garden. Buzzing and chattering at each other, they zoomed around the cannas and liatris like to two little fighter jets.  It was entrancing watching them and their routine. My gaze, captivated by these acrobats, turned east. As I watched them whirring back over the fence where they started,  my eyes were filled with the most beautiful sunrise I had ever seen. The colors were so intense. The thunderclouds clinging to outside edge of the sky were glowing with purples and reds. The sky itself  was a neon sign flashing the words, “Glory to God in the Highest!”
I began to weep. I felt God saying, “Child, why do you struggle so much to do it on your own?  Don’t you see I am here? I will give you the refreshing you need. I will supply all you need. Trust me. Lean on me. Follow me.” I knew at that moment that my God, the creator of the universe, had just orchestrated that particular sunrise for me, his child whom He loves and cares for each day.
The songs began flowing from my mouth. What a wonderful God I serve! How could I doubt Him? He continued to speak to my heart words of comfort and peace. I felt everything leave, all the worry, anger, self doubt, fear. It all melted away. In it’s place flooded in hope, love, faith, trust and awe for this so very personal God that was touching me.
I just lingered there, in the rain and the presence of the Lord. A peace set deep within me. I determined to start this day anew. “Lord, help me remember this time I have spent in your presence. Help me, Lord, not to returned to my old ways. Keep me close to you and let your peace flow out of me to others.”
In the south end of the valley lightening flashed across the sky. The low rumble shook my body. I sat very still- another flash and rumble.
“Child, you see how I love you and hold you in my arms. You know my gentleness and caring. But remember I am the still the one who controls the thunder. I choose to touch lightly and speak softly. I have the power to command the lightening. Listen today to this gentle word. I do not want to show my force.”
God mercies are new every morning! If He had given me what I deserved that day, the lightening would have lit upon me! Instead, He chose to refresh me and touch me lightly. His warning, however rang loud and clear in my mind. I see in the Bible and in my own life the measures God has been forced to take with His people. He chooses first the gentle, light touch, but we must be willing to hear and obey.

Let  all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, to be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.                                                Ephesians 4:31,32
By nature I am an organized person. I enjoy making lists and checking things off as I go. I like to know what is on the agenda for the day and see things happen exactly the way that they were planned. Last minute changes should never occur. In my view, things should move smoothly and efficiently with no interruptions. (I am gaining on this–trying to embrace flexibility)
If you are a parent, you know already this form of ideological thinking is living in a fantasy land.
I banged my head against the wall for years trying to make this fantasy become reality.  Sometimes I could make the smooth transition from Plan “A” to Plan “B”, but if it looked like a Plan “C” may be necessary, I was done. I would get so frustrated if the unexpected happened. Frankly, I liked being in control!
As a child, I knew when my mom was close to reaching her overload capacity. She’d holler,  “I’m gonna blow my ever-lovin’ stack!”  My brother, sisters and I would interpret that as, “Warning, warning evacuate the area quickly and quietly!”  We would slink out of the room and wait until she calmed down or was able to ferret out the culprit and  give them their due.
My girls weren’t quite so blessed. I didn’t usually send a warning. I just blew. Making themselves as stealthy as possible, they would slip out of the room if I hadn’t already laid hands on them. The duck and cover routine wasn’t always successful. Sometimes I would detect movement in the perimeter, while other times I’d go on a search and destroy mission. All these military terms are appropriate because I  was like a boot camp drill sergeant, barking orders and demanding respect. It was bad!
Will was able to escape most of the shrapnel from my explosions by spending more hours at work, but the poor kids, they were stuck with me. I don’t know how they survived those early years.
Although I may be sounding lighthearted and flippant, knowing how I behaved really crushes me. Instead of enjoying the girls and “realizing the blessing”, I was consumed with order and responsibility.  Looking back, I see that my rigid ways kept me from enjoying many precious moments. Not that I overlooked them all, but I must have missed thousands.
God faithfully kept working on my heart and mind until I began surrendering control to Him. I discovered I had been so busy trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing, my eyes were closed to what He was already doing.
God began exposing the dark spots in my heart to me. He did this bit by bit so I wouldn’t become overwhelmed and run from His constraining love. Looking deep within my heart was painful. It frequently was an ugly sight. But as He begin to strip away pieces of my old nature, He began to reveal more of Himself to me. His nuances became mine.
The vision I have of this wonderful work is simple. It works for me because I cannot tolerate the smell or appearance of canned sardines. I see myself as this tin can filled with sardines. God has His hand on the key and begins to peel back the lid. Once the lid is cracked, out wafts the horrendous odor of stinky sardines. God continues to roll back the lid exposing the full panorama of the dead fish.
Then He does something amazing. He begins to pluck them out of the can. As He removes each sardine, the smell diminishes. Before long, the shiny reflective bottom of the can begins to peek out around the fish. In that mirroring surface emerges the face of God. As God empties me of all the malodorous garbage, He begins to fill me with His sweet presence. The more I lose of me, the more I gain of Him. It is a wonderful, mind-warping transformation taking place in my spirit. God is  faithful to continue working on me as long as I am willing to change.
His lessons are daily, moment by moment. God continues to prove to me how much he loves  my family and me. I am responding by becoming more trusting and flexible. My time in prayer and reading has increased. I’ve accepted the fact that things will happen that I won’t know how to handle, but its OK. God is there to uplift me. He is my stronghold and my sure tower. He will give me the words and wisdom I need in each battle with the enemy. Ultimately, I have learned its about His strength, not mine.

Am I the only one who is appalled at the condition of our country? We have been slipping away from God for decades, but the last few months seem to have speed up that process. Perhaps it is simply that what has been happening unseen in the spiritual realm for decades is now becoming extremely evident in the physical realm.

Could it be that we, the called of God, have been ignoring His call? Could it be that we have chosen the ways of the world rather than the ways and truths of God? Have we slipped? Have we, the standard bearers, laid down God’s standard for the pursuit of pleasure and money and hobbies and fun? Have we dropped the ball?

Oh no, that is too much to bear. Surely the decline of our nation, our world, has nothing to do with us. It must be those liberal, left wing, darwinian types-right? No, folks. It’s us. For God set us here to be the light and the salt. He left us in the this cesspool of lies to be the precious truth. Have we been? Or has the stench of this world rubbed of on us a bit? …………So what now?

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself but in me is thy help. Hosea 13:9

O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Hosea 14:1

… the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them.. Hosea 14:9

Return to the Lord

When is God?
At this last family camp a great deal was spoken about how we receive God and His direction for our lives. I learned a lot. But the one thing that keeps coming back to me is something Becky said.
” God is not the great I was or I will be- He is the great I am ”
“Wow!” I thought when she said it. I wrote it down and circled it. It really hit me.
Just how do we look at God? Its easy to read the great stories in the Bible and relish on how God spoke the earth into existance, or how He made man, or the great flood, or the creative devices He used to bring victory to His people so many times while in battle.
It is also great to read the prophecies of how God will show His mighty power in the end, and how beautiful He will appear.
Christ will bring all evil, all illness, all sadness to an end. How wonderful will that be?
But what about today? What about right now? Is God taking a nap or perhaps enjoying his favorite galaxy somehwere far from us? Of course not. Then why is it that we sometimes live that way? Too often we lean on the nostalgic romaticism of God’s performances in the old Testament. Or we cling strictly to the hope of a far off eternity.
We are living in eternity now! God is with us now! He is still and will ever be the Creator of the universe. Do you believe that? Are you showing that?

And God said unto Moses,
I AM THAT I AM:
and he said, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel,
I AM hath sent me unto you.
Exodus 3l:14

I had the day off of work today so I decided to cram as many errands in the day as I could.
First, I was off to the hospital to get my blood drawn-something my doctor insists on annually to keep an eye on how my thyroid is functioning. Normally that is all done at  my doctors office is Shady Cove, but we forgot at the last appointment. Since I am more often in Medford I asked to have it done at the hospital for my convenience.
I walked into the hospital a bit unsure of where the lab was. I was directed down ahall, where I found a nice volunteer who signed me in. She then told me to go to the lady at desk three. The lady at desk three was an attractive brunette in her twenties. She promptly checked me amid some small talk. It turned out she was planning her wedding. I congratulated her and ask if she had chosen her florist yet (of course—always thinking flowers, you know). She showed me the photo collage of  her fiancé and herself that they were using for their invitations.  After allowing me enough time to peruse all the photos and compliment them, she handed me some paper work and directed me down another hallway to the lab.
There I was met by a bespectacled young woman in a white coat. She smiled at me and gestured for me to follow her. After seating me she stepped away. She quickly returned with several vials in her hand. Referring to a lingering conversation she was having with a co-worker she said  “We are talking about glasses and contact lenses. My three and half year old is getting glasses today.” I told her I wear contacts and I doubted it would be easy for a three year old to use them. She agreed adding that she could not wear them herself for the discomfort of putting them in. We chatted back and forth until she was done. I thanked her and made my way out of the hospital.
Next on the list was to get my oil changed. I pulled my car into the pit and gladly accepted a cup of coffee. As I sat looking over my mail, the guys working on the car hollered instructions back and forth. Even though I don’t really understand what they are saying, I enjoy the cadence in the way the shout to each other. But due to the separation (me in the car and them out of the car) there wasn’t much opportunity for conversation.
Next I decided to try finding some good buys at Sears. I was looking for something for my grandson, Colton’s, first birthday, my daughter, Kendra’s, bridal shower and a friend’s baby shower. I had heard there may be some good sales, and there were. I spent 30 minutes or so and found gifts for all three occasions. As the cashier was ringing me up she began to tell me of some of her credit card bills. She was hoping this new offer on a card with a lower interest rate would help her out. “First, though, I’m gonna run it past my mom and see what she thinks about.” I told her that was a good idea.
Carrying my bag I strolled back to the car.

On the drive home, I couldn’t help but reflect on what these three women had shared with me, a total and complete stranger. In my opinion, they were three intimate issues: wedding plans, child rearing and credit card debt. “Why?” I thought to myself. “Is it that everyone simply needs to be heard by someone…anyone.  Or is it that I seemed like a nice enough person they thought they could crack that barrier just a bit to let me into their lives.” But as I continued to think about through out the day, I realized these women were all placed in my path on purpose. Not just on purpose but also for a purpose. I was to be a light to them. God was asking me if I was going to slow down my day (my plans, my check list, my errands to accomplish) long enough to actually show His Spirit to others. He was asking me to put “me” aside and look out for the good of others.
God doesn’t really care if my car was two months past due for an oil change. Nor does He care if I saved $82.38 on the sales I found at Sears. What He cares about is His children. What He cares about showing them He loves them just where they are, whether planning a wedding, fighting credit card debt or cheering for your child and his new glasses. He has us here to be His hands, His feet,  His ears and His smile. He was testing me. I’m glad I started my day off in quiet prayer or perhaps I would have totally missed every opportunity he had placed in my path….I would love to say I missed none, but I doubt that.
As a matter of fact, I think I’m missing one right now……well….off to the bowling alley!

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers:for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.
Hebrews 13:2

I was watching TV the other day and there was an advertisement for one of those battery operated toothbrushes. On one side of the screen was a woman gleefully brushing her teeth with her fancy new battery-operated toothbrush. On the other side of the screen was a man scrubbing away on his teeth with his manually operated toothbrush. The woman finishes brushing her teeth, smiles, the looks woefully over at the man. “That looks a lot like work to me.” she quips.

I thought to myself, “Come on now just how lazy have we become, when we consider brushing our teeth too strenuous!” I mean, what next a George Jetson shower where we just stand and a robot washes our every crevice?

Just when did work become a four letter word?

I know some folks who find it more appealing to find a government run program to sign up for than to do an honest days labor. It seems like if you know how to operate the system, you may never have to work. Just fill out the paper work, provide the correct documents and voila’ government funding! It just yours there for the asking!
Why bother working when good old Uncle Sam is a trillionaire!

Oh, how far we have fallen from God’s directive. He never said, “Sit on your duff and wait for someone to serve you the world on a silver platter.” Quite the opposite.

Sure there are times when we all need a helping hand. I am not disagreeing with that.
I’ve been there. It is a humbling experience to ask for help. But simply asking a brother for help is not what I am talking about.

I am talking about the reliance upon the government. There is a real danger here. Government was not originally designed to provide for you, it was designed to protect your rights. When we look to Government rather than God to provide our needs we have become idolaters. Our government becomes our God. This is unfortunately a very easy trap to fall into. Think about it for a minute. Examine your thoughts about this.

What does God say about work?

We know that He provides us with endless examples in the Bible of folks who knew about hard work. Ever try making bricks with mud and straw? How about herding sheep?
Making tents by hand? Plant a field? Building a chair or other piece of carpentry without modern day tools? Or perhaps constructing an ark would appeal to you?

One of my favorite scriptures is about work.

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us:
And establish thou the work of our hands upon us;
Yea, the work of establish thou it.
Psalm 90:17

I like the idea that I am not working to gain a paycheck or to just put in my hours, but I am working for God to be able to use me and my talents. This includes volunteer work too….or anything we do for others or to promote the Kingdom.

One of my favorite days is Sunday. It is usually a laid back day at our house. We get up, do a few chores, sip on coffee, prepare the church bulletin, and go to church.
We close the day out by going to evening Bible study. The hours in between are met with naps, quiet conversations, fiddling in the yard, or just basking in the sun. It’s just a lovely day of rest. But if I chose to spend all of my days that way….what a disaster that would be. God tells us to work six days and rest the seventh. I chose to use that liberty of rest and I do not feel a bit guilty about it!!

Six days thou shalt labor and do all thy work:
Deut. 5:13

Again, it goes back to our mindset. Do we chose to labor for the Lord or do we chose to serve the government and it’s ‘grand’ programs? Looking five or ten years down  the road, I don’t see how people could even consider the latter! We do not want a socialist government—we really do not!  Sometimes when our body is aching after a hard days work, or our boss has yelled at us for the fifth time, we think about quitting a staying home on the couch watching old reruns of  the Honeymooners or Full House. But that moment passes.

For the people had a mind to work.
Nehemiah 4:6b

Do not let disaster strike your home or your nation.
Do not be duped into leaning on the government for your substance.
God provides for his people.
Get up and get to work!!