Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

Well, it is official, I am the dessert queen. When the email came to my inbox inquiring what I
would be bringing for Thanksgiving, I replied (all), "Dessert, of course! After all, I am the dessert queen even though I have not received a crown yet!"

This is my sister, Vicki. She honored me with the crown today. Isn't it cool that we wore the same color? I was lauded (jk) for the pudding pie (you know-the easy kind w/ instant pudding and cool whip?), the blueberry pretzel dessert, and the chocolate-chippy pumpkin bread. I guess the dessert is the grand finale. All of the food prep deserved rewarding, and it was all in fun! I wanted to get a large chocolate kiss for a scepter, but never found one. Wouldn't that be fun? I could have drilled a hole in the bottom and stuck a dowel in it, and bonked my siblings w/ it. Unfortunately I never found one.
I love my family. I love when we can laugh together and enjoy one another's company, one another's food, and one another's kids...we have lots of those when you add them up!
After a three hour drive into Amish country, we met up @ my brother's farm where we gobbled alot of food and kissed alot of cheeks. I so miss those baby cheeks...

My d.h. w/nephew, Isaac. Girls playing. Girls lining up @ the buffet...Blessings of abundance!

An Age Old Lesson

I have been battling a grumbling spirit, yes. And right before THANKSGIVING...and I admit, a few times he has won. I have failed to resist. It squares with my old nature, part of which I am still in need of giving a crucifixion-daily.

As one can see in the book of Exodus, as Moses was leading the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land, once grumbling started, all hell broke loose-the enemy had a foothold, I mean. Faith ended and idolatry began...think the golden calf, the quail, the bitter water...

So what happens to me or you when we grumble? The darkness begins to get the upper hand. The cloud sets in. I find myself growing more negative if I allow it. I used to think I was a victim of my thoughts. One day the Lord showed me differently. He made it clear that it was a choice I made, that I had control - by yielding my will to His Spirit-it's called obedience. I also can choose my focus. How do I see things? Through the lens of "poor me" or the other one "He is faithful". I need to check my pronouns in my thought life-are they me or He???

Be joyful ALWAYS, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. REMIND ME LORD! HELP ME!

Tonight we had a lovely Thanksgiving service @ church, highlighting being thankful, and how it accompanies joy. We lose joy if we are not grateful. I spend alot of time praising and thanking God, but when I get busy, too busy...too busy because I have over-extended myself saying "yes" to too many things (and that during the hormone crisis of the month), I end up having the struggle w/ "grumpy-spirit". I praise God that He has given me everything I need to resist the devil and make him flee. I praise Him that by His Spirit, I can take the thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. And I thank Him for His loving kindness that leads me to repentance when I cave to "grumpy-spirit". I thank Him that my Jesus' blood covers my sin once again. Grace.

When we are weak, He is strong.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Traditions and Memories

According to the beautiful little blinky button on my sidebar (the one that looks a little out of place with the bright colors, a bit modern maybe...)today is the day to share about traditions. I have one word: FOOD. lol
Kidding aside, a favorite tradition- and in our family -and traditions come and go-it's hard to keep lasting traditions with shifts in our family all the time. Eleven siblings (mine) getting married and having children over the years amounts to varied experiences (as well as over 50 people).
When I was a child, one of the things I looked forward to the most was midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. We sang carols for an hour and it thrilled me to hold my very own candle with a drip tray until it was burned down to a stub. I loved looking at the trees decorated with lights, red glistening bulbs and hand made ornaments. Loved looking at the stained glass windows and smelling the incense.
Another memory...when mom would get a new decorating idea-it would ignite a fire in me...I loved stencilling windows (thrilled!), and hanging tinsel garland on our large bathroom mirror and over the curtain rods. We used to have the most gaudy trees with us all throwing tinsel on them by the handfuls. I think mom would pick it off when we went to school the next day...the photos don't look so gaudy. That was one tradition my dh wouldn't allow me to continue after we were wed.

One year mom bought a fake cardboard fireplace so we could hand stockings on it for Santa. We felt like we were rich that year! She also re-covered her furniture with red velour fabric. I don't know if that was for Christmas, but it made me feel like we were in the loop now! Keep in mind I was in 5th furniture and a fake fireplace. It doesn't get much better than that!

One tradition that I have carried from childhood through now is baking cookies. I have vivid memories of sugar cookies loaded with red and green sugar, overflowing the edges, getting baked onto the tray. There was always a bunch of us kneeling on chairs leaning on the table fighting over who got to use the red or green or do that tray of cookies. Remember the silver balls that looked like bb's for a bb gun? I loved using those on the tops of the tree cookies. Did they get banned for breaking teeth or something?

Another favorite...we had a creek in the pasture behind our house. (see skating photo above) There were some pretty high cliffs in a couple of spots. The cliffs would have some wonderful drifts so when we broke through them on our sleds, we would fly through the air, land hard, and slide down onto the frozen, snow-covered creek. We would be out sliding with our cousins for hours until our hands and feet were pink, numb from cold, and soggy. We came in with noses running onto our hand-crocheted scarves which were wet from our breath (and noses :d). I remember we would keep pulling up those scarves only to have them fall down, and then be colder from the wetness remaining on our face....ahh the memories.

The Lord has been good about getting us hills at our various homes so we can keep the sliding tradition going. We currently have a fun one in our back yard which we enjoy as a family. We sail far, far out when we get to the bottom on the right kind of snow. The kids still spend hours out there, they build jumps, and use various kinds of "sleds".
One tradition we have in our "little home/family of 4" is to purchase a new child's Christmas book every year and read it together. We also like to re-read our favorites from over the years. Charlie Brown's Christmas, Mr Whiskers Cranberry Christmas, The Christmas Miracle, with Max Lacado stories being our more recent add-ons. One of our fondest memories was when I read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" to the kids; we laughed so hard I had a hard time getting the words out!
Filling shoe boxes for Samaritan's Purse is another family tradition. Or sometimes Angel Tree. The shopping, packing and sending gifts off with a note to an unknown child helps us go outside of our family to bless another. When we purchase toothpaste and other necessities to put in a child's gift package, we realize what we take for granted.
Movies...White Christmas, It's a wonderful life, various Little House on the Prairie Christmas shows, Christmas shoes, Frosty, Rudolph, etc.
Music...We love Christmas music. Dale discovered Trans Siberian Orchestra quite a few years ago. We sit down one night and listen (just the two of us) to a cd and cry together over the story. This will be the fourth year we are attending their concert. It is awesome music with awesome light shows. I never knew people could play instruments with such passion.
Sorry for the length of this post...I've been around for awhile-lol, there is alot there in my memory bank! The photo above is one of the many skating parties my mom hosted. Note the snow angels...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More Revelation!

In my previous post I talked about the ark of the covenant, which in the O.T. was filled with God's power. The Lord used Hebrews 9:1-5 to give me greater understanding of us being like the ark. What I wasn't seeing clearly then, is what the significance of the golden altar of incense was in the Most Holy Place.

On my way to prayer this morning, I was considering all the times that someone gets in my vehicle and says "It smells so good in here!! Just like your house!" That got me thinking of the times when I pass something on from my house to a friend, I often hear the comment, "It smelled just like your house!" Now I should explain that I daily spray refresher oil in my house and occasionally in my vehicle. Cinnamon and spiced my house and car smell like a country store...and evidently so do the things in my house and car.

During prayer then, the Lord clearly showed me that the incense accompanies the prayers of the saints. That as we come to Him in prayer, we come away with a distinct fragrance. Scripture floods my mind.

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Hebrews 9:1-5 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover.

Revelation 8:3-4
Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand.

When we go to the Throne Room, worship, pray and fellowship with our Heavenly Father, we are aromatized and empowered with His fragrance and His Spirit! Let us pray!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who Me? A Walking Ark of the Covenant?

I recently attended a prayer confrence where I heard that we (born-again believers in Jesus) are "walking arks of the covenant". My mind went to truths such as: We have this treasure in jars of clay. Our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit. ...according to the power that is at work within us...

Look what happened when the Philistines stole the ark from Israel,

1 Samuel 5: 1-4 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon's temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.

As I was studying Hebrews 9, I saw this:

Hebrews 9:1-5 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover.

So I see that the ark (me and you) contains the manna (Jesus, the bread of life), Aaron's staff that budded (the supernatural power of God), and the stone tablets of the covenant, now written on our hearts:

2 Corinthians 3:3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.

We have this magnificent power inside of us. Pause, and think on that!

We have the Lord Jesus Christ living inside of us, His Spirit empowering us to pursue the Kingdom of God. To contend for the faith, and to have victory over sin. So I ask the Lord, is my life powerful like that? Am I living in a way that impacts the kingdom? That sends the enemy reeling? Am I praying with authority in Jesus' Name? He has made me an ambassador here. Am I living like a stranger of this world? Or am I blending in?

In Hebrews 9, the lampstand, the table and the consecrated bread show us how it is that we live a life that is powerful: Our light must be lit (keep oil in our lamp) We must come to the table with the consecrated bread (have fellowship with Jesus) and enter into the Most Holy Place-approach the throne of grace, and at the altar of incense of God (the fragrance of His holiness) will be upon us from spending time in His presence. Then our lives will be salt and light in this world, for the praise of His glory.

Lord God of Heaven, Almighty God, Holy One, we praise you for the miracle of regeneration! That you made us new creations when you lit the fire in our hearts with your Spirit. You took out of us our heart of stone and gave us a heart of flesh. One that responds to you with adoration and submission to your will. Enable us to keep walking and growing in the knowledge of You and Your will. Magnify Yourself with our lives!! Show Your Power Lord, through our lives laid down for you! Iin Jesus' Name, Amen!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Grieving Yet Hopeful

Listening to Focus on the Family's broadcast today was very encouraging; hearing what God did in California for marriage through His people. Californians were praying and fasting and crying out with raised hands, and falling prostrate before Him. What an awesome picture of humbling themselves, praying, seeking His face and turning from their ways! What a wonderful report of our Lord hearing the cries of His people and responding. You can listen to it here:

What if we did that for abortion? I came across a site today that had photos of abortion. You don't need to go there, just think about it for a minute, and you will get sick. You will be grieving with me. Fortunately the photos were very small... but clear enough to wrench my heart. I fell prostrate in my heart over the loss of innocent life that we have allowed to take place in our land. Over the very little I, myself have done about it. Shame on me. For failing to pray fervently for the lives of the innocent little babies. Our land is polluted by innocent blood...Lord, have mercy on us all!

And our country just elected a President who unashamedly supports abortion. One who said he wouldn't want to punish his daughter with a "baby" if she didn't want it... Lord have mercy! Lord how we need you. Come, Lord Jesus, Come!!

Dr Dobson said he is grieving...not the election of Mr. Obama. He is grieving the loss of things he has fought so hard for these past years. May God bless him for fighting. We all need to fight harder...on our knees. Not only on our knees, but exposing evil and resisting it. Calling sin what it is...abortion-murder. G*y marriage-an abomination and perversion of God's picture of Him with his Bride. Materialism-idolatry. Eastern/pagan practices in the church-adultery. Prayerlessness-vain pride. Living together or having s*x without being married-immorality. Swearing-vulgar, filthy, offensive words. God's name in vain-arrogance. Lying-satanic. Drunkeness and drugs-idolatry.

Our Loving, Pure, Holy, Beautiful Savior HATES these things and so should we.

Yes, I have hope. Yes, I know in the end we win. I know that one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I rejoice in Jesus, but I am also grieving with Him. Like when He said, Luke 13:34"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

O America, America, you who commit and tolerate sin all around you, how Jesus longs to open your eyes and enable you to see Him, to come to Him and be saved from your sin! Repent and be saved!! John 14:6 Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

You can choose to go your own way, but in the end it leads to death.

Will you pray with me?

Lord God of Heaven and Earth, thank you that you are on your throne, that You are sovereign. Thank you that you have given us free will, and the ugliness in the world is not of you, it is a result of sin, and foolish choices and Sat*nic influence.

Thank you that you are merciful. Lord, have mercy on our land. Therein lies our hope. Enable President-elect Obama to see truth about abortion. To see truth about You. That You are just and merciful. Soften the hearts of the abortion performers to see what they are doing! Help the victims of abortion-those mothers with painful regrets to heal in their hearts and their bodies. Send your people to tell them about your love and forgiveness and freedom found in you because you paid the price. You shed your own innocent blood on behalf of us-sinners. Thank you that because you did that,salvation is a free gift, that all we have to do is admit we are sinners in need of your saving grace, come to the cross and recieve eternal life. Wow!

Make Yourself known in our land, be glorified through your people. Be glorified through me. May we shine like beacons in the darkness by living holy lives and living lives of love. Not because of our own righteousness, but because you have given us yours. You exchanged your life for ours. There is nothing good in us, only You. Thank you that you have given us power over sin, it is no longer our master. We serve You, the Living God!

Help us, your children to remain faithful as disdain for You grows. Give us the grace to remain true to You, to uphold your beautiful Word. Thank you for those you have called to fight for truth and righteousness! Thank you for the ACLJ, for Focus on the Family, for VOM, and others who risk much on behalf of the Gospel. Those who continue to seek your kingdom and your righteousness here in America. Help us to continue in love and faith and hope in Your goodness, wisdom, and power.

We love you Lord! In Jesus' precious, perfect Name, Amen. YOU ARE MY KING!