An Eternal House

 

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.  Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling,  because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked.–II Corinthians 5:1-3

The Bible describes our bodies in this passage as a tent—an earthly tent.

When it has grown old or becomes ill–if it ceases to function, we have a new body awaiting us, not built by human hands.

It will be eternal and will last forever.

Do you ever wonder what we will look like then?

Imagine a tent made of tapestry….decorated individually in a myriad of design and color—-one of a kind.

Each of us is like that; a single, unique creation by God, designed to His specifications.

When we are transformed to our new "building" in heaven, could it be that we will change into a glorious reality that could only be hinted at by the visage once displayed on our woven form?

Just imagine a floral tapestry—beautiful and hand made.

Now, imagine an actual flower bursting forth in bloom from out of the fabric! 

Someday, we will not be found to inhabit merely "images" of what is to come. 

We will be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, like brightly colored blossoms.

We won’t be needing our tent of tapestry any longer…..

 

 

Who Lives in Eternity

 

 

Who is our God?

He lives in Eternity.

His name is Holy.

He lives in high and holy places.

Even so, He has time for us.

When our spirits are crushed and we are low-spirited, He lives with us.

He puts a new spirit within us and gets us up.

He puts us on our feet again.

Do you know someone who has a crushed spirit today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Empty Way of Life

 

 

Walking along the side of the lake, I noticed a palm tree.

Palm trees are quite plentiful here—there’s nothing unusual about seeing them–except for this one.

This one was different.

Vastly different.

As I stood very close to it, my eyes were drawn to a gaping hole, perhaps twenty inches long, exposing the fact that inside this tree was…..nothing.

Nothing at all.

It was hollow.

Not much was left of the outer shell of bark.

What surprised me was not the fact that I had come across a hollow tree. What puzzled me then (and still puzzles me, now) was the fact that several feet above this empty tree was a healthy, living section, complete with green palm fronds.

Hmmm. Dead tree, living tree, same tree. How was that possible?

It looked as if, somehow, a living tree had been attached to the dead tree, high in the air and ….it lived!

Maybe someday I will have this occurance explained to me, but for now, it is a mystery; one that I cannot deny.

In the book of I Peter, chapter one, verses 17-21 we read,

Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors,  but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.  He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.  Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

As Christians, we have been redeemed. Redeemed from an empty way of life.

We were dead in our sins, condemned.

It was Jesus who redeemed us by His sacrifice for us. In accepting this gift and inviting Him to be the Lord of our lives, repenting of our sin, we live again.

We live a new life, leaving the old one behind.

Reaching and growing ever toward the One who loves us, our empty lives remain only in the past.

Are we somewhat like that tree?

I don’t know about you, but I can easily picture my life characterized by it.

Empty and hollow, unappealing and brittle–until, one day, Jesus rescued me from myself, bringing a new start.

A new life.

Today, as I have green fronds waving in the wind, I owe it all to my Savior, Jesus.

If your life is empty, shallow and hopeless, don’t give up.

There is One who can bring new life to you.

Won’t you put your trust in Him?

Everything will change.

Put your faith and hope in God.

 

 

 

 

Downcast

 

 

 

When I go to the beach, I am drawn to the wildlife there.

During my most recent trip, I photographed many birds. One type, in particular, seemed to be outnumbered by those who were different. I photographed him as he was walking alone along the shoreline.

Was the bird lonely? Did he feel outcast or different? I suppose only birds know such things about themselves. I do remember, however, what it felt like to be alone among the crowd.

Many years ago, when I was just beginning my teen years, the school cafeteria was such a place.

Each table was filled with a particular set of friends, talking and laughing. If you were not an active part of such a set, a feeling of not belonging could easily set in.

Feeling that you do not belong anywhere is an open invitation to low self-esteem. Low self-esteem is a willing partner to depression and loneliness.

Although I did experience a sense of "cafeteria displacement" so long ago, encouraging life experiences began to multiply for me, giving birth to confidence and security in social settings and with friends.

Typically being on the other side of situations like these, do I really have any responsibility to those who feel left out….

at church?

at work?

at home?

Should I seize the moment and invite someone to sit with me during church?

Should I choose to sit with a new employee at work when a meeting is called?

Should I make sure that each member of my family feels loved by me?

If we open our eyes to see the faces of those we are with through the lenses of compassion and regard, we can be certain that we will find many who feel downcast and lost among the crowd.

Look over there——is that a bird walking……….alone?

 

 

Taken Up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the book of Acts, chapter 1, verses 3-11, we find these words about the risen Jesus and His apostles:

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.  For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.  “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Just imagine what it was like to see Jesus ascend into the clouds! The scripture says that "a cloud hid Him from their sight."  Jesus may have been hidden from their sight, but they were not hidden from His, nor will any of us ever be. Jesus sees us in every facet of our being. Our joys, our sufferings. Through it all, He is loving us.

The next time you look up into a cloud, imagine Jesus—right there—-just on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swallowed Up By Victory

 

 

 

For several days, the church that I attend has had three crosses mounted on its front property.

The cross in the middle has been draped with a purple cloth.

This morning as I was arriving for the Easter service, I noticed that the crosses had been taken down. Several yards away from that area stood another cross—-this one draped with blooming flowers. I tried to speak, but could only say a few words, not finishing my sentence because of the deep, heartfelt emotion I was experiencing. The crosses had been removed because Jesus is risen.

At the close of the indoor service, the congregation stepped outside to the flower laden cross. Weeks earlier, we were given the opportunity to purchase a butterfly in memory or in honor of a loved one.

I purchased one in memory of our son who died five years ago in a car accident at age nineteen.

This was a completely new and different experience for me.

On the way outside, we were to pick up our living butterfly, temporarily housed in a three sided triangular box, closed with a gold string.

Although I could not see it, I could hear it anxiously moving around and touching the inner sides of the box.

When everyone had gathered around the cross, the pastor said, "He is risen!" and the gathered crowd responded with "He is risen, indeed!"

With those words, the gold cords were loosed and each butterfly was released into the sky.

The one I was holding hesitated for just a second or two and then joined the others, fluttering up and away into the vast blueness of the Easter morning sky.

Looking inside the boxes, we discovered that the cocoons the butterflies had emerged from were still there. Once they were allowed to drop from the container, all that was left was a stain where the cocoon had once been.

Tears came to my eyes. What a tremendous picture of God’s forever promise of eternal life for those who believe in His Son, Jesus.

Here we are, mere mortals, living lives apart from Him as caterpillars. In coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus and His sacrifice for us, He comes into our hearts and a spiritual cocoon is made. Nothing can keep us from the protection of His love. At the appointed time, when He is ready to complete our transformation, He will bid us to come forth from the cocoon as we are set free in death from this world, only to fly from our opened box into the welcoming arms of Jesus!

The memory of watching the butterflies as they rose higher and higher into the sky will likely be a permanent fixture in my mind for the rest of my life–watching them as they were seeing the atmosphere, not with the eyes of a caterpillar, which can only detect changes in light, but with the new compound eyes of a butterfly which allow them to see in virtually every direction at the same time. Just imagine what it will be like to see Jesus and the splendor of Heaven with new, spritual eyes!

Our loved ones that knew Jesus as their Savior are experiencing this new life right now. Someday, we will join them to live eternally in Heaven.

My heart yearns today for those who have not accepted His gift of life.

Jesus conquered death. We no longer have to die in our sin. He has redeemed us.

It’s not too late—believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” — I Corinthians 15:54


 

 

Why Are You Crying?

 

 

Then the disciples went back to their homes,  but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

  They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

   “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”  At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

    “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

   Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

  Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

   She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).

  Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

  Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

—John 20:10-18

 

 

 

 

 

Jesus Called Out

 

 

 

 

It was now about the sixth hour,

and darkness came over the whole

land until the ninth hour,

  for the sun stopped shining.

And the curtain of the temple

was torn in two.  Jesus called

out with a loud voice,

“Father, into your hands

I commit my spirit.”

When he had said this,

he breathed his last.

–Luke 23:44-46

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Jar of Water

 

 

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

  “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

  He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters,  and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

  They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.–Luke 22:7-13

 

 


 

Walks With the Wise

 

 

 

I’ve actually known about this for a long time.

Certain plants, when placed in colored water, will begin to take on the same color.

Many years ago, I learned that a beautiful plant called Queen Anne’s Lace would absorb colored water and in doing so, turn it’s delicate white blooms to a new tint.

Today at work, I noticed something a little bit different than Queen Anne’s Lace—and it was adorning a countertop, happily reflecting its new found source of moisture: a container of blue water.

It was very striking, really. Having originally been only shades of green, the leaves were now quite distinctively, well… a teal blue.

What happens to us when we place ourselves into a position where we are absorbing life altering and worldly ideas in place of God-given sustenance that is freely provided to us?

If God intended us to live drawing clean, clear water into our roots, producing bright green leaves, what are we doing displaying blue leaves?

The problem is, we would like to think that we can hide the fact that we are standing in the blue water of worldliness. We think that our leaves won’t give it away—but that’s impossible. God knows our colors, even when we can’t see them.

If we are standing in anger, choosing angry people for our best companions, anger will seep in.

If we are standing in dishonesty, choosing dishonest people for our best friends, dishonesty will seep in.

If we are standing in criticism, choosing critical people to spend our time with, a critical attitude with seep in.

If we choose, however, to stand among those who are daily setting their hearts on the things of God, then we, like them, will begin to show His likeness.

Take a quick look down—-what color is the water you’re standing in?

He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm. –Proverbs 13:20

 

 

 

 

Quiet Waters

 

 

 

When God draws my attention to something more than once in a short amount of time, I know that He is wanting my attention and confirming what He is saying to me.

I think it was just last night that I began reading the 23rd Psalm. I had not purposed to read that passage in particular. As I opened the Bible, it seemed that I just came to it.

At work, I occasionally receive emails that are inspirational. Such was the case today.

Someone from a nearby community organization sent me the 23rd Psalm with a photo for each phrase. Along with the individual photos, a corresponding adjective was added to the phrases—words like relationship, healing and guidance.

These were words that I needed to hear. The term added to being led to quiet waters was refreshment.

I decided to look refreshment up in the dictionary. Here’s what it said:

"the giving of fresh mental or physical strength or energy"

I would have to add fresh spiritual strength to that definition in the context of the psalm.

Today, in particular, I have been in need of fresh strength, spiritually, mentally and physically.

God alone can bestow this kind of refreshment on me.

He knows what I need.

He’s there.

Drawing me to the 23rd Psalm through the reading of my Bible and also the photos sent in an email have confirmed that it is so.

Do you need some refreshment today?

 

 

 

 

Brokenhearted

 

What is your heart like?

Do you keep it hidden in a box where no one can see it?

Is it locked tight, for fear that someone may see deep into it and…

laugh at you?

scoff at you?

reject you?

When your spirit is crushed, do you secure it in a basket, far from those that crushed it?

God knows every part of you.

He knows your heart.

He sees it even when it’s hidden.

He wants to bring healing to it.

Isn’t that what you want, too?

  

The Lord hears his people

when they call to him for help.


      He rescues them from

all their troubles.


  The Lord is close

to the brokenhearted;


      he rescues those

whose spirits are crushed.

  The righteous person

faces many troubles,


      but the Lord comes

to the rescue

each time.

—Psalm 34:17-19

 

 

The Old Has Gone

 

How important do you think you are?

Extremely important?

Very important?

Not important at all?

What if you were working for a courier company and you were transporting medication to a children’s hospital….would you feel important then?

Suppose you were a meteorologist working at a weather station that gave the initial warnings for severe weather….would you feel important?

If you were a lifeguard working at a popular beach ready at any moment to save someone from drowning, would you feel important?

All three of these endeavors are honorable and you would have every reason to feel that you were performing a worthy service by delivering medicine, warning the public of severe weather or rescuing swimmers from drowning.

Knowing this high calling in your life, you would most likely have a healthy self-respect. If you really knew in your heart that your life mattered, you would be less likely to mistreat yourself by making destructive life choices.

But what if you were a highly significant ambassador?  What then?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:  that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.–II Corinthians 5:17-21

We are the ambassadors of Jesus as we tell others about what He has done for us. We are entrusted with the message of eternal hope.  Without Jesus, all are lost.

As an ambassador of the risen Son of God, how important do you think you are?

Extremely important?

Very important?

Not important at all?

 

 

 

Blessed Is He

 

 

This morning, I attended a benefit brunch for a local women’s shelter.

It was hosted at a church more than an hour’s drive from the actual facility.

The building was beautiful. A large lake adorned the property across the road, giving a serene view.

After the event had ended, I was curious.

I walked around to see more.

Besides a large sanctuary, I found a small chapel room with stained glass windows and a piano.

The midday sun was highlighting the colors of each pane.

Silently, the windows gave honor to God as they adorned the walls of a room set apart for praise and prayer.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem not long before His crucifixion, the people received Him–

   “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

   “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

   “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

  When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

  The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

–from Matthew 21:9-11

As Easter approaches, thoughts of Jesus’ sacrifice for us should be present.

As His light shines on us, do we give honor to God in adorning the world as those set apart to praise Him?

Do we have an answer to those who do not yet know Him when their hearts are stirred and they ask, "Who is this Jesus?"

 

 

How Can They

 

 

I’m not sure which one of us found it.

While on a walk at the beach with friends, we discovered a stunning starfish that had washed up on shore.

Still very much alive, the decision was made to return him to the water where he could once again thrive.

It would have been unthinkable to have taken him home only to have him die on the way.

It would have been sad to have just left him there in the sand, certain to perish.

There was really only one choice–

Save him.

There is a memorable work written by Loren Eisley titled, "The Starfish Story."

It tells of a man walking on the beach and finding a young boy throwing starfish back into the sea. When the man tells him there are too many starfish that have washed up onto the sand for him to make a difference, the boy continues, picking one up and throwing it back. Then, he tells the man that he has made the difference for that one.

A touching story, it applies to our lives as well.

How can they call on him unless they believe in him? How can they believe in him unless they hear about him? How can they hear about him unless someone preaches to them? –Romans 10:14

There are so many people who do not know about Jesus and what He has done for us. They are like starfish, washed up on the shore, too many to count.

Maybe we cannot reach a hundred people.

Perhaps not even fifty.

Not twenty-five.

Not ten.

If we can reach just one lost soul with the saving knowledge of the gospel, what have we accomplished?

We will have made the difference for that one.

 

 

 

He Made All Kinds

 

 

It’s that time of year again.

Spring is the start of new life.

The start of new beginnings.

Forgetting the past, with its brown leaves and dead grass, spring shoots forth with green, vibrant laughter.

All is new!

Flowers blossoming. Squirrels romping. Caterpillars scaling up trees and walls. Birds singing at midnight.

God gives us hope in bringing new life.

When we were dead, brown leaves, lost in sin, He sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue us.

He has made all creation to point to His glory from the smallest of creatures that crawl on the ground to the constellations that shine majestically in the night sky.

Jesus makes all things new.

Do you know Him today?

 

 

 

I Will Make You

 

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  They immediately left their nets and followed Him.–Matthew 4:18,19

What if Jesus walked by you when you were busy at work?

If you were a mechanic, would He say, "Follow Me and I will make you a mechanic to fix broken lives with My love."?

If you were a teacher, would He say, "Follow Me and I will make you a teacher of salvation to a lost world."?

If you were a doctor or nurse, would He say, "Follow Me and I will make you to bring healing to the spiritual as well as the physical."?

If you were a fireman, would He say, "Follow Me and I will make you to rescue the perishing from a life apart from Me."?

Of course, without Jesus’ power, we can do nothing.

When we are willing to stop what we are doing to follow Him, what might He have us do?

 

 

 

Come Up Like An Offering

 

 

 

I am always pleasantly surprised by kindness.

It’s sort of like taking a walk in the woods on a drizzly rain kind of day when everything green comes alive in a wet and shimmery playground of nature, when suddenly, you come upon a low-lying bird’s nest filled with chirping innocence. Things had already been good, but finding the birds was a welcome surprise.

A few days ago, a friend and her son treated me with a healthy serving of kindness.

While running an errand, they decided to purchase a single rose in a pretty vase for me.

It wasn’t my birthday.

It wasn’t a particular holiday on the calendar.

It was just……kindness.

Pure and simple.

The type of kindness that makes you stand a little taller because you feel that someone noticed you and cared.

Does God notice when we do kind things for other people?

I think so.

In the book of Acts, chapter 10, we find an account of Cornelius, who was a Roman commander. He saw a vision and an angel spoke to him and said,

"Your prayers and gifts to poor people have come up like an offering to God. So he has remembered you." (from verse 4:b)

Although I really do not consider myself poor, I think this passage applies to the gift given to me.

When Christians show kindness to others, especially those in need, it is like an offering to God.

Think about it—is there something you can do today to show a special kindness to someone?

I think they will be pleasantly surprised….

 

The Reflections of the Heart

 

 

Proverbs 16:1,2 is stated this way in the Amplified Bible:

THE PLANS of the mind and orderly thinking belong to man, but from the Lord comes the [wise] answer of the tongue.

    All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirits (the thoughts and intents of the heart).

I seem to think a lot.

But, really, can I possibly think more than anyone else?

Aren’t we all constantly thinking?

I suppose what we each individually dwell on when we are alone in our thoughts can infinitely vary.

It might be more accurate for me to say that I think about situations and turn them over in my mind quite a bit.

If I am praying about something and asking God for wisdom, then I am seeking what is true and right. Sometimes, what I may think, however–my own human reflections about things—may be flawed.

Logic and reason may be occupying a high standing in my thoughts. They may offer what seems right at the time, yet they may not be in agreement with God’s will.

Asking for His guidance and waiting for His answer are of paramount importance.

I can trust God.

Sometimes I cannot trust myself.

 

 

Not a Day

 

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

—II Corinthians 4:16  The Message

 

 

 

Out of the Water

 

I watched a movie today.

Parts of it were funny, while other parts were sad.

Like a popular novel, it included suspence, action, love, hate, greed, loss, grief, fortitude, victory and hope.

In the midst of all this, I found myself crying.

Shortly after my tears, the story began to fall into place and in the final seconds of the film, all had been made well again.

Thinking back, there was a line near the beginning of the movie that caught my attention.

Although I cannot quote it exactly, the sentiment was that when things get really, really bad, people hope for a miracle.

I would have to agree.

Looking at a definition of miracle in the dictionary, I found this entry:

Miracle–a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.

It is my complete and total belief that only God can perform miracles.

It is also my complete and total belief that He in fact, does.

At this particular time in my life, I am praying for a specific miracle.

It would not fit natural or scientific laws.

It would be a very, very welcome event.

It would NOT, however, be surprising, because I am waiting expectantly to see God work.

He knows the need and He is well aware of my deepest heart’s desire in the matter.

I expect a miracle.

When Moses was born, it was during a time when Hebrew baby boys were to be killed at birth, according to a decree by the Egyptian king. His mother hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer, she put him into a basket coated with tar and pitch and put him among plants growing along the bank of the Nile River.

The baby’s sister watched to see what would happen.

Wouldn’t you agree that things were bad?  Really, really bad?

Next, the unthinkable–Pharoah’s daughter was bathing in the river and saw the basket.

Now, things are REALLY bad, right?

It was time for a miracle.

The daughter of the king felt sorry for the baby and decided to keep him.

The baby’s sister ran to Pharoah’s daughter and offered to find a nurse for the child. She accepted.

Moses’ sister went and got their mother. The king’s daughter paid wages to the woman to nurse her very own child. When he got older, he lived with the royal family and became the son of Pharoah’s daughter.

She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water."

God performed a spectacular, fantastic miracle, sparing the life of a newborn baby boy.

Although many years have passed, God has not changed.

Do you need a miracle today?

 

 

 

As Long As I Live

 

 

The bush beside our home has been all the buzz with honey bees and butterflies lately.

The bees were very recognizable, but the butterfiles took quite a bit of inspection before I could even determine what they actually were.

It was not their size that kept me from focusing on them.

It was not a camouflaged color that was  concealing them.

It was their speed.

Flapping their spotted wings at a very quick clip, white circles were appearing among the leaves like the shaky frames of a silent movie.

Intrigued by the colors and shapes that flitted this way and that, I tried to catch one being still in order to photograph it.

This was an interesting challenge. Finally, I did get a few shots, capturing the wings in an open position for just an instant.

The butterflies in my bush were not consciously trying to elude me.

It’s just that they were consumed with thoughts of the task at hand—doing what they were meant to do, with no time to waste.

If my life was created to praise God and to live for Him, am I ignoring unimportant distractions?

Am I allowing myself to be consumed with thoughts of the task at hand—doing what God meant for me to do, with no time to waste?

Am I part of the "buzz" of God’s work in the world, or am I sitting off somewhere, alone with my pretty wings, accomplishing nothing?

Each day my actions should be praising God for all that He has done.

 

Waves

 

 

When we have a problem, we take it to someone we know can help us.

If our car won’t start, we take it to a mechanic.

If we have chest pains, we go to the emergency room at the hospital.

If a bathroom pipe is leaking, we call a plumber.

If we are depressed, we might see a counselor.

None of these avenues for help are bad, but we need to keep something in perspective.

People are people. They will do the best they can with what they have to offer in any given situation.

God is God. He can do all things in complete perfection and with all wisdom in all situations.

Job 9:8 says, "He’s the only one who can spread the heavens out.
      He alone can walk on the waves of the ocean."

When we have a problem, we need to take it to God.

 

His Purpose

 

 

 

I attended a wedding this evening.

From what I could tell, everything was perfect.

Perfect weather.

Perfect ceremony.

Perfect cake.

There was something else, though, that was perfect.

In fact, it was the most important thing.

As the couple knelt in front of the pastor conducting the marriage, they had a personal time of communion–just the two of them partaking in the Lord’s supper.

The presence of God within the hearts of the two who were to be joined made the evening perfect.

When two are made one in Him, what could be a more perfect union?

 

Lord, you will do everything

you have planned for me.


Lord, your faithful love

continues forever.


You have done

so much for us.

Don’t stop now.

Psalm 138:8

 

And Then the Sin Grows

 

 

 

Not long ago, I saw my elderly next door neighbor in her driveway.

She wasn’t just standing there, though—she appeared to be stomping the concrete with both feet, over and over, turning this way and that.

Never having seen her display this type of behavior before, I called out to her.

She was stomping lubber grasshopper nymphs!

Each year, the vibrantly colored black and orange creatures come to visit our lawns. Newly blooming spring flowers may not even last a day before becoming breakfast, lunch and dinner for the hungry little insects. They must have nourishment to grow, and do they ever! Fully grown, lubber grasshoppers can be up to three inches long.

My neighbor obviously did not want to deal with half-eaten plants, now or in the future— hence the stomping.

I actually think that the orange striped nymphs are beautiful looking creatures. At first, it may seem pointless to get rid of something so apparantly harmless.

Sin is like this, isn’t it?

Something will catch our attention.

It will seem interesting, perhaps, and relatively harmless and small.

No need to worry about a little thing like that.

Look—aren’t those colors bright?

There’s no reason to get rid of it.

Somehow, almost silently, it takes a bite.

It begins to consume that which was good.

It must have nourishment to grow, and grow it will, until it becomes several times its original size.

Even then, it must continue to ravage in order to insure its existance.

It started so small…..

When thinking about sin in our lives, my neighbor’s thoughts would well apply.

Upon the first sighting of it crossing into the territory of our minds, we must "stomp" sin when it is only in it’s beginning stage….. wherever we find it.

 

 

 

 

Some People Are

 

 

 

A couple of Sundays ago, I witnessed something that will likely stay with me for a long time.

In the church that I attend, there are a wide variety of members of all ages who come from different walks of life.

The congregation stood to sing a song. A small group of singers stood at the front to lead us.

As I sang along, my attention was drawn to my left and a couple of pews or so over. Two men were standing beside each other. Since the church has many people who enjoy leading the singing each week, groups of musicians take turns each month to be up front. These two men regularly sing in one of these groups. I had not noticed them, however, standing next to each other in the audience before.

God was writing a lesson on my heart as I stood almost staring at these men. They were absolutely joyous as they sang, and many times they turned to each other, smiling and sharing praise to God with sincere and transparent hearts. They both loved God and they were brothers in Christ.

This would be significant, stated alone, but there was much more to the lesson.

You see, one of the men is a lawyer and…..

The other man was formerly a homeless and violent gang member….before he so gloriously came to know the Lord.

Knowing the personal testimony of the previously homeless man and the life that he was freed from brought a stark contrast to mind as I watched them together.

God is no respector of persons.  The background a person may be coming simply doesn’t matter. Should it matter to us?

When a heart is led to repentance, there is only one sentiment–forgiveness and acceptance.

No matter who is knocking on the door, sincerely believing in Jesus and desiring this forgiveness, it is always opened to them.

Professional businessman?

Homeless man?

"Come on in!"

How beautiful is the picture of all of those saved by grace on equal footing!

None may boast except in the Lord.

An old hymn states, "Blessed be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love. The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above." (by Johns Fawcett)

In the Sunday service this morning, these two men were up front, joyously leading praise in song to God.

Their hearts are bound together in Christian love by the Holy Spirit. James 2:1 says,

"My dear brothers and sisters, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, never think some people are more important than others."

We are all the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Wisdom

 

 

 

 

Wisdom.

Understanding.

Do you think you are wise?

You might answer this question modestly by saying that you are not really wise, but that you don’t consider yourself stupid, either.

That being the case, just how did you attain the wisdom that you do possess?

From your many experiences in life?

From parents’ guidance?

From mentors?

From those you admire?

From books?

Or…..

from God?

At this point, I must clarify that all true wisdom comes from God, wherever it is found.

Proverbs 4:7 says,

"The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
   Though it cost all you have, get understanding."

Can we just walk into a store and ask, "I’d like to buy wisdom, please. What aisle is it on?"

It’s not that easy if it’s genuine wisdom from God that we are looking for.

The problem is, the world’s "wisdom" is being advertised for sale at a very lucrative price.

Visit any major bookstore, and false wisdom is being sold page by page.

Advertisements on television and online beckon our eyes for enlightenment, yet once we recieve it, an issue exists–it isn’t really real, and when we need wisdom most, our counterfeit version will fail us.

I took this photo at a nearby town that I visit frequently. Doesn’t it look inviting? Just imagine a warm day, walking down the sleepy main street of a country town and just deciding to step inside the general store for soda or an ice cream cone–maybe even a friendly game of checkers. Nice, isn’t it?

But what if we changed the scenario a bit to go like this: imagine a warm day, walking down the sleepy main street of a country town and just before you reach the open general store, a man up ahead of you collapses on the side walk. In a panic, you dash past the rocking chair, run around the checkers on the barrel and call for help from the clerk.

Someone would be there, right? Much needed help would surely be moments away…IF it was really a store.

The photo does seem inviting to me, yet I know the truth. I understand.

I will never be able to walk inside the store and order an ice cold soda or plead for help for a man in need, lying on the pavement.

Why?

Because I cannot walk into a hand crafted model of a general store, sitting in a display window with other items for sale.

It looks good, but it isn’t real.

Examine closely what is presented to you as wisdom.

Ask God to give you discernment about its authenticity.

Compare it to His written word, the Bible, and note any conflicts.

Remember—if it’s really wisdom, it will be from God.

Always.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shall Not Perish

 

 

The rain was torrential.

I had driven to work in rain and pink lightning with the radio announcer speaking of 60 mile an hour wind gusts.

Throughout the day there were several weather advisories announced, including tornado watches and warnings. Outdoor areas were flooding in many places.

Moments before I was to get off work, somone told me that a toad was in water under an iron grating fastened to concrete. Under the grating was a water drain. It was almost full, with maybe 10 inches or so of airspace left. Knowing my love of animals, I was expected to go and rescue him.

I tried.

Down on my knees on the wet pavement, other coworkers began arriving, some thinking I had dropped something by accident under the bars. Someone put an umbrella down into the hole and then expanded it in hopes of capturing the toad. I used a twig to try to reach him. Another onlooker went to their car to get pvc pipe and a baseball cap to try and gather him up. Someone went to get a kitchen scoop. No one wanted the poor creature to die–He was calling out for help.

Loudly.

Bellowing his throat to the size of a golf ball, you could hear his pleas for help all around as he struggled to keep from drowning. After about 25 minutes, we decided that we could pull the umbrella up in a postion partially in the water, but protruding out of it so that our desperate toad friend could crawl onto it and breathe until the water receded.

When I finally left work, my car was parked in an area where there is a very, very large concrete retainment pond, meant to collect large amounts of water on days such as the one we were experiencing.

It was flooded.

What I saw and heard next was heart breaking.

Perhaps a hundred toads or more were drowning before me. The concrete walls were too steep to grasp. In this river of flood water, they were trying to get out; one very close to me was sticking his head out above water and crying out in a low pitched plea for help and salvation, along with countless other voices. The sound was incredible—it was so LOUD. An entire chorus of begging and pleading and I could do nothing for them but pray. I took out my camera and recorded the massive cries all around me.

As I showed my husband the video, his face was troubled with the sadness of the harsh reality. So many, probably lost, and no one to help.

You might think, "But it was only a group of toads! Who cares?"

The toads are like the people of this world, carrying on life in a seemingly safe surrounding. Then, out of the blue, as though a trick from Satan, they are suddenly trapped in the consequences of their sin that have begun to rain down on them. Swimming in desperation, frantically crying out for help, and many times, no one comes.

After all they’re just a …..

prostitute?

drug dealer?

alcoholic?

criminal?

neighbor?

grocery store clerk?

factory worker?

old man?

teenager?

widow?

an unknown face in the crowd?

Desperately needing repentance and faith, they are slowly drowning.

I realized, sadly, that I could not rescue the toads beyond the high fence that separated them from me. I was on lofty ground, safe from the flood. They were in deep water, imploring pity from someone–anyone.  I did, however, try my best to bring the possibility of life back to the toad under the grating.

Just before I had gone to my car, I checked on him just once more. To my delight, he was above the umbrella—and another toad that had been trapped had joined him. His rescue led to that of one more.

Wet shoes, wet pants, rained-on shirt.

It was worth it.

What’s it worth to tell someone about what Jesus has done to rescue them?

They’re calling out to you—can’t you hear them?