Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Kids In A Bind

My two are in the middle and on the right.

I had just gotten out of the shower when I heard a faint rap on the door. I quickly wrapped a towel around myself and released the hook-latch in order to peek at what the kids might be needing. They were 9 and 11 and we had just moved into our country home after living in town for six years. When I got in the shower, I heard them playing upstairs in the little attic over the office.

Upon seeing a sullen look on Ethan's face, my curiosity was peaked. There was actually a tear in his eye. He turned to look at his sister and said, "Tell her Kayla."

The suspense was killing me. ..."Well,"...{wincing, a bit fearful} she said, "...Ethan and I caught a chipmunk and brought it up in the attic to play with got away!"

Concealing my laughter inside I said, "Well, you caught it once, go catch it again!"

Outside under the bird feeder, where Chippy frequented, they had set upside down a plastic, mesh, shoe-box-sized basket with a forked twig propping one end up. There was a string attached to the twig. When the chipmunk entered the basket, they tripped the twig with the string and caught it.

Those were the days of Beanie Babies. We had a neighbor in town that collected them, and shared several with my kids. Often when I was working in my craft room, the kids built things out of scrap wood. They had been in the attic with their Beanies, home-made Beanie Bunk Beds and Beanie jackets made out of old sock-remnants with arm-holes cut in the sides. I imagined them trying to get Chippy into a little sock-jacket.

I heard them up there scuffling about. The attic is probably 10'x10' with low sidewalls and a peaked ceiling. We only had a few things up there...suitcases, a few boxes. It was a perfect child-wonderful place to play! As things go, I could hear them getting frustrated with each other. After letting them pursue the little varmint for nearly 20 minutes, I went up to offer adult wisdom.

It was clear that Chippy liked the edges of the room, so I told the kids to bring everything into center and I would hold a box in the doorway, they could route the little guy and we would corral it in the box. It looked to be working like a charm until Chippy found a hole along that one edge of the room. He slipped in and was gone!!!

My mind went to the stench that would be in the house when Chippy went to Chipmunk heaven, and also to the reality that I wasn't going to stand guard at that hole waiting for him to emerge sometime in the next few I did what any other mother would do. Wadded up tin foil, stuck it in the hole in case he resurfaced, then I could check, and if the foil was knocked out of the hole, I would know to look for him. I dreaded him not emerging, and wasn't sure I wanted him to come back inside either.

He never did come out. I checked the foil over the course of the next three days and it never moved. I braced myself for the smell, but never had to endure that either. He must have found his way outside somehow.

Similarly, I have delighted in God's creation and savored His gifts, and then I have gotten myself into little messes that I cannot seem to fix myself...I'm so grateful that He stands over me with His Fatherly affection and helps me out of the binds I get myself into.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, 
   for I have put my trust in you. 
Show me the way I should go, 
   for to you I lift up my soul. ~Psalm 143:8

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Slow Down And See

When I drive I miss so much. I don't realize what I miss until I ride my bike or run. The slower pace and being outdoors lends to a greater experience of my surroundings. Sight, sound and smell. I am very glad that I have taken up two "sports" in the past two years...running and bicycling. My blog header was a photo taken on a run last fall, and so was the above photo. Capturing details that would be missed totally if I drove by them in my car...

Similarly, slowing down and walking through scripture is revealing rich details that I miss in a sit-down-read-through of the same text. As I study to teach the Sunday School class on Isaiah, I am seeing and savoring the "landscape" {sight, sound and even the smell} of the text. 
Have you noticed that the Cedar tree is frequently mentioned in Scripture? (Mmm, love the fragrance of Cedar!) Have you ever pondered the "why?" 

Look at some of the details about the Cedar tree:

  • Stately (Ezekiel 31:3-5) 
    • Beautiful branches
    • Shade
    • Very high
    • It's tops among the clouds
    • Many boughs
    • Long branches
    • Nourished by "many waters"
  • Long branched (Psalm 80:10)
  • Fragrant (Song of Songs 4:11, Hosea 14:6)
  • Durable- used for boards and pillars. (1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 7:2, Jeremiah 22:14)
  • Grew abundantly in Palestine, particularly in Lebanon.
    • Used in the construction of the temple and the Kings' palace.
    • Used in the second temple built by Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:7)
Israel has been in captivity in Babylon for 50 years when this portion of Isaiah is delivered to them. {The message of Isaiah 40-66 was given 150 years before it was delivered to Israel} They are feeling parched, barren and dry, as if God has abandoned them. In this particular verse (Isaiah 41:19), God is expressing via His message of comfort and assurance to His people that He will bring this mighty, wonderful tree into the wilderness. Since Israel was not a land with many forests or trees, this would have been significant imagery for the discouraged people who were longing for shade, for familiar smells of their homeland. 

For us it is as well. Even on a good day, it is uplifting and beneficial to be reminded that our loving God is able to bring sweet blessings into any barren place. He calls the things that are not as though they are...

Thank you Father for reminding us over and over and over again (because we forget easy!) in your word of your mighty works on behalf your people!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Is God Calling You?

 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,
 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
   before you were born I set you apart;
   I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

 “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.”

But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.

Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” 
~Jeremiah 1:4-9~

What is He saying to you?

Here is a fascinating and informative message I heard Sunday morning by Judy Fornara
"The Difference Between Purpose and Call"

Saturday, February 18, 2012

{BE} Still Saturday

What will it be like when you appear on that great day Jesus?
When the sky parts, and you come down,
will we be able to see it from everywhere?

For more Still Saturday~awe and wonder
click on the banner above.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Your Hands Have Power

According to The New Bible Dictionary, the primary reference of “HAND” is ‘the action of the whole individual’.
It is also indicative of authority, power or blessing.

There is power in YOUR hands. What influence do your hands have? Are they grabbing things for you or are they giving to others? Are your hands used for blessing, healing, lifting, restoring?

Look at just a few verses from scripture:
Genesis 16:12…Ishmael’s hand will be against everyone. (God to Hagar)
Genesis 25:26…Jacob’s hand grasped Esau’s heel.
Genesis 33:10…hand gives presents.
Genesis 48:14…Jacob’s hands were upon the heads of his grandson’s for blessing.
Exodus 3:20…God stretches out His hand to do miracles.
Exodus 9:22…Moses stretches out his hand for a miracle.
Leviticus 4:33…The hand of the priest was laid on the sin offering to transfer Israel’s sin onto it.
1 Chronicles 4:10…that your hand might be with me (Jabez to God)
1 Chronicles 14:10…I will give them into your hand. (God to David)
1 Chronicles 29:12…all power and might are in God’s hand.
2 Kings 10:15…and he gave him his hand (In agreement, in a handshake)
Ruth 4:5…buy the field from the hand of Naomi. (Ownership or transfer of ownership)

…and countless others if you use a concordance to look up “hand”!

Here are some popular phrases:
Hand it over” (You have something I want or own)
“On the other hand…” (There may be another solution or way of looking at something)
“What do you have on hand?” (Something useful…to put to use)
“Can you give me a hand?” (I need more power than I have in my own two hands)

A hand is the power behind:
Tools: building, painting, fixing, styling, designing, planting, purchasing…etc.
Utensils: scissors, spoons, broom, mop, phone, computer…etc.

Consider the hand of Jesus in the healings he performed:
Mark 1:31, 41/ Mark 5:41/ Mark 8:23/ Luke 5:13

Jesus reached for other’s hands:
Luke 6:10/ Luke 8:54/ Mark 9:27/ Mark 8:23

Hands were against Jesus:
Matthew 20:19/ Matthew 26:23/ Mark 10:33

It just got me thinking...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sharing Joy Completes Joy

Wanting to get my blood moving yesterday after hours sitting at the computer, I had to plead with my husband  to go for a bike ride. His day had been long and somewhat difficult at work. He was ready for the easy chair, but knew I would be returning to Wisconsin today. (he is working in Florida for 6 months and I am visiting) So after unwinding about a half hour, he conceded. We knew we would only have about an hour of sunlight, so once on the trail, we set a pretty good pace. 

On our way back we were headed down a hill, {to my relief} and he began to tell me a story of last time he was on this hill... He was "flying" down the hill at high-speed, and there was a truck parked on the path below him. He was pretty excited for me to know exactly how and where it happened...that he didn't slow down, but zipped around them successfully{!!!} I laughed inside at his enthusiasm, like that of a boy, and was reminded of the times I have been alone while experiencing something spectacular and wish for one to share it with. 

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We write this to make our joy complete. 1 John 1:3-4

I gave a message at our youth event last weekend about our desire to belong. How when I was a child in school, I worked daily on our family farm and it left little time to develop relationships with friends. As a result, I most often felt lonely and undesirable at school. Feeling lonely is no fun.

I believe one of the reasons God chose to create us {man in His image} is to share with us the JOY of His glory. When I see an ocean and hear it's waves or when I am in the mountains of Montana overlooking Lake Mary in Glacier Ntl. Park, when someone is next to me to share my elation, my joy is made complete. And if no one was there to share the moment with, I would stand there with a longing to share the moment with someone. 

I love 1 John 1:3-4. It is the same with our relationship with Jesus. When we know how spectacular His love is...we just need to share it with someone to make our joy complete. Do you know it? The God who created the ocean and the mountains knows us by name, wants to have us in His family, sent His Son to rescue us? To learn more go here: Jesus loves me?

When you know and love Him, you will have full joy because: 
God has said,
   “Never will I leave you;
   never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Things Invisible


Before we left the ground from Minneapolis there was an announcement that they would need to de-ice the plane. As they showered us with a coating of a liquid I am guessing to be like windshield washer fluid, I said my usual prayer for God to place angels around the plane. 

I know that it is less risky to fly than to drive, I've heard that several times and it helps to keep it in mind. If ever a wave of fear wants to wash over me right before take-off I consider the flight attendants and the pilots that are there day after day, night after night and it gives me assurance.

Most of my dozen or so flights have been smooth sailing, or rather "flying". I have developed an extreme love/fascination with being above the clouds. I am giddy every time and snap photo after photo! 

The one time I experienced turbulence was after being detained in Atlanta on the runway for fifteen minutes to the need to wait for a "storm to pass". As we went up through the rain clouds, I expected I would experience a bit of shaking. I actually looked forward to it, wanting to find out what it was like...and on the other side of the clouds was the most spectacular display of God's glory I have ever seen! 

Like mountains of clouds!

During the flight yesterday there was no view. For the first time, my flight was engulfed in a cloud and my window seat did not warrant my camera coming out of my bag. I thought, "It's not like I imagined it to be...being in a cloud. I always thought it would be more fun than fog. But that's all it is. Fog." I guess I knew that, but somehow in residues of child-memories, I thought the white of the cloud would be something more tangible. Perhaps cotton candy... 

I taught a workshop four times last weekend. The verse I used was in the forefront of my mind:

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-16

I pictured 'the things invisible' surrounding the plane and Him holding it together... I didn't know why this time felt a greater need or sense that I needed to ask for those angels to go with us. But I did.

Just before arrival, the Pilot announced the weather in Jacksonville to be in the 40's and calm. So when just a few minutes later as we began to feel the plane descend and there was a DROP, shake....shimmy, DROP, shake, shake, shake, DROP, DROP, when I reached for the seat-back in front of me and looked out the window to watch the wing shake, that I remembered the angels. The gal next to me said, "In all the times I have flown, I have only experienced turbulence this bad once, on my way to Japan last year."

gulp, I asked her if it was upon descent and she said no. Ahhhoooh!...fear was creeping in.

So as thoughts of "what if" and all that go with that flashed through my mind, I began to sing quietly to the Lord thanking Him for His goodness, for the angels, and that it is He who holds things together. And then we landed. (after several more DROPS and shakes). 

When I passed the Pilot on the way out, he was calmly smiling...

Obviously not shaken as I had been. And I wondered. How often he has experienced that kind of turbulence...and does he know that angels surround his plane and that Jesus holds it together? How often are there people on his plane praying through turbulence? How many times does Jesus hear a passenger praising Him for His hand upon the huge metal vessel flying through the air? 

I am convinced that God plants His people in places to pray and one day we will know how often we were saved from danger because of a prayer.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Holy Garments

I am currently reading the KJV of the One Year Bible. I love the one year versions. This is my 11th year of reading through the Bible;  it is a rich experience. If you have not done it, I recommend it and you will keep going. I have also read NIV, and NLT.

Today's OT reading is in Exodus 28:1-43. In verse 2 God is talking to Moses:"And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty." My heart landed on those words holy garments...for glory...for beauty...That is Jesus, what He is and what He has clothed us with. His garments of righteousness (holy garments) for glory and beauty.

Then He goes on to say; "And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office." (v.3)
Following is the description, in glorious detail, of how they are to make the priestly garments. Including a description of the ephod with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel engraved on two stones, which will be worn on the shoulders of the ephod. The priest carries the burdens of the beloved on his shoulders. "for a memorial" (v.12) Reminding the Lord whose are His. We, His beloved, can picture Jesus with our names written on Him as he lives to make intercession for us before God. (see Hebrews 7:25) So this picture is of Jesus, but also of us who are of the royal priesthood. (1 Peter 2:9) We are called as well to make intercession, bearing the names of His people as we come to the throne room. We cry out, "Lord, remember these..."

We, like the OT priests, need to prepare ourselves by cleansing (with confession), we too must be clothed in holy garments, the robes of Christ's righteousness. We too represent His glory and beauty. 

Some of the elements of this garment are: gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen. Kingly colors and textures. Do we really appear as royalty before our God? YES! What a high calling we have in God's family! What a privilege!

Now look at verse 29, "And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually." Jesus...continually bearing our names before the Father, us...continually bearing one another before the father (Ephesians 6:18). Have you ever prayed unceasingly? I'm sure you have, when there is a situation in a dear one's life that is beyond human ability to alleviate or help. We pray, pray, pray. I have a couple of situations right now that are constantly on my mind and I am continually bringing them to the Lord.

Now, look at v.36,38 "And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD."...And it shall be upon Aaron's forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord."

We know that Jesus is our offering, our "Holy Gift" and that as we wear the inscription upon our foreheads (as we are set apart, made holy,) we are accepted before the Lord. Read v 41; And thou shalt put them upon Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him; and shalt anoint them, and consecrate them, and sanctify them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office.

What a profound picture of our Savior as well as our calling. We are to be consecrated (distinct, holy, set apart) and pursuing the throne of our Father on behalf of the Church. This encourages me and challenges me to be more diligent. To be more prayerful. To have a greater understanding of what the prayers of the saints mean to God. May He increase our knowledge of Him and fill us with the spirit of wisdom and revelation.

Thank you, Father for all you have given us in ability to see and understand Jesus and all He has done for us. Thank you too for your high call on our lives which can only be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit living in us and the garments you have clothed us with. We love and adore you. Amen.