Receiving Jesus

Posted by admin on January 2, 2015 under Encouraging Words, Journey Through John | Be the First to Comment

I woke up early, determined to start my day with Scripture reading and prayer.  So I reread some journal entries from a special retreat last summer with Soul Shepherding ministry leader Dr. Bill Gaultierre–the retreat where I heard this word from the Lord: “Be Christ to your husband.”

Since that retreat, I had surgery to remove a possibly cancerous tumor from my left leg (but it was not cancer, thank You, Lord), then hospitalization for cellulitis in that leg, an allergic reaction to antibiotics that sent me to the ER, and numerous doctor visits to try to close a deep hole from the incision.  Meanwhile, my husband suffered increasing disability from spinal compression, was in the hospital nearly a month after spine surgery, my dad fell and broke his hip, and my sister discovered her Stage IV cancer.  We also celebrated in subdued fashion Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.

How did I deal with all this?  By the Lord’s grace, I relied on Him for a good measure of strength and patience, but not all.  I also turned back to Egypt, to food for comfort, and gained a good deal of weight.  I spent mindless time sitting around in front of the TV or the computer.  Now I have to get back in a program. But I need more than a program.  I need more than a miraculous healing of the hole in my leg or the holes in my heart.

I need You, Lord.

How often I have read these words with amazement:  “He was in the world, and the world was created through Him, yet the world did not recognize Him.  He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him.” John 1:10-11

But, truth be told, I too, His own, do not always recognize Him or thank Him for His Presence, for His creating, saving work in my life. I do not always receive Him.  Instead, I suck in the world and try to fill myself with its emptiness.  Yet I am Your child, Father, and You are always with me.

Heavenly Father, cleanse me anew today.  Fill me with Your Spirit, with Your HPIM0146.JPGgrace and truth, Lord Jesus.  Make me a fit residence for my King.  Let me receive You in a new way in this new year, in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

Seeing Denali

Posted by admin on December 19, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

After the glories of the cruise through Glacier Bay, our view from the lodge was not really breathtaking.  Scrubby Alaskan Christmas trees pointed to empty sky.  Jagged teeth of a low mountain range ringed the horizon.  “Only twenty per cent of our visitors ever see Mt. McKinley,” the tour guide warned us. 

We were celebrating our fortieth anniversary (and my survival after cancer treatments).  We had three days to tour Denali National Park and see  North America’s tallest peak–Denali, “the big one.”  But the phantom mountain kept her privacy and veiled herself with clouds.

Fog obscured everything the next morning.  We boarded a tour bus to the park.  We explored forest ranger stations, tramped over windswept hills, and gazed into valleys where moose drank from wandering streams–but no Denali was anywhere to be seen. 

For all we knew, Denali did not exist.

The following day we had to board the Alaska Railway. The double-decker train would carry us far inland, past mountains, valleys, and streams, all the way to Fairbanks and our flight home.   

“Dear Lord,” I prayed earnestly at bedtime, “You made Denali.  You are the only One who can roll the clouds back and let us see her.”

The third day dawned bright and clear! We headed toward the lodge for breakfast.  But first, was it possible?  We clambered upstairs to the wide wooden deck crowded with tourists. 

Every eye was fixed on the sky and what filled it–the immensity and grandeur of Denali! 

Peak upon peak mounted the sky.  The saw-toothed mountains below were lost in shadow.   The improbable, impossible, brooding majesty of Mt. McKinley, over 20,000 feet robed in ice and snow, revealed itself.  But still we could not comprehend the weight of its glory; its height and depth and width surpassed imagination and sight.

Denali had been there all the time.

Today I visited the cancer clinic and thanked my doctors and nurses for their part in my healing–four years’ remission from breast cancer.  I walked through the chemo room and peeped into the radiation oncologist’s office to give hugs and thank you’s.  I talked to a couple of  patients and promised to pray for them . . . Rosa and Karen, with their cheerful woolen caps pulled low over bald heads.  “Gloria a Dios, Rosa.”  “Si, Gloria a Dios!” she exclaimed.

Yes, Lord, all glory to You.  You were there all the time.  “Emmanuel”–God with us. 

The world is dismayed by clouds of sorrow, evil, and doubt.  Where is God when we need Him most?   Behind the clouds but ever watchful, and sometimes breaking through into glory!

In the dusty little town of Bethlehem, in the dead of night, He emerged from His hiding to be born in a stable. 

“And she gave birth to her first-born Son, and wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 

“And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

“And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

“And the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people:

“For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

“And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger.’

“And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.'” (Luke 2:6-14 NASB)

 No earthly trials can separate us from our Emmanuel now. 

“If God is for us, who is against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.

“For I am convinced that neither death,nor life, nor angels,nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,

“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39 NASB)

God rest ye merry, gentle friends!  Emmanuel is with us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Satisfied?

Posted by admin on November 8, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

“O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”  Psalm 90:13    A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God

In the desert of Sin (Exodus 16:1) there were two parties at odds with each other–and the leaders Moses and Aaron comprised the minority!  The majority were “the whole congregation of the sons of Israel,” freshly liberated slaves of Egypt. They didn’t trust Moses and Aaron,  and they didn’t trust God, even after He parted the Red Sea for them.  

They had eaten up all the unleavened bread.  They had livestock, but they must have balked at slaughtering those.  So they berated Moses and Aaron, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger!”  (16:3)

Like the disciples facing hungry multitudes in Jesus’ day, Moses and Aaron could only appeal to God for provision.  What a patient, loving God He is!   He replied to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.” (16:4)

Then all Israel looked toward the wilderness, “and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” (vs.10)  God had heard their grumblings.  He had been there all along.

Flocks of quail descended on the camp that evening; in the morning manna fell like dew.  The people gathered it in jars to make bread with it, bread that tasted like honey cakes.  Manna leftover on the ground simply melted away!

Perhaps the prophet Jeremiah recalled this story when he wrote, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is Thy faithfulness.”  (Lamentations 3:22-23)

In the morning only God will satisfy my hungers.  The blessings of His Word and Presence must be gathered in that quiet time, for in the heat of day I forget them.  Then I am tempted to fill myself with whatever distraction is at hand–work, food, entertainment, shopping, friends.  Or worse, I begin to grumble, worry, and feel sorry for myself.

Jeremiah, persecuted (and eventually put to death), had reason to lament.  In the darkest hours, however, he reminded himself of God’s goodness.  “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul. ‘Therefore, I have hope in Him.’  The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.” (3:24-25)  

C. S. Lewis observed the dilemma:  “We try, when we wake, to lay the new day at God’s feet; before we have finished shaving, it becomes our day and God’s share in it is felt as a tribute which we must pay. . . out of the time which ought, we feel, to be ‘our own.” (The Problem of Pain, chapter 5)

How much better to remember, as Lewis continued,  “that the soul is but a hollow which God fills.” (ch. 10)  We will never be satisfied apart from Him.  He is the Father who made us, the Son who saves us, the Spirit who fills and empowers us!  

Forty years later Moses instructed the people,  “Remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness. . .  that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.  And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna . . . that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)

Yes, God created me to be hungry.  He created me for the liberty of dependence.  I am His child; He will feed and protect me.  I need not fear or fret. 

Jesus said, “”Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink . . . Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not worth much more than they?  Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 32-33) 

Father, thank You for being so loving and patient with me.  Forgive me when I complain and worry.  Forgive me when I try to fill myself with the world’s goodness.  Lord Jesus, You are the Giver and the Gift, the Manna of life to me.  You are My Shepherd in the wilderness; You restore my hungry soul.  You prepare a table before me– morning by morning, let me feast on You.  I delight in my hunger for you.  May I never be satisfied in myself but only by Your Presence!  Amen.

An Orchestrated Evening

Posted by admin on October 9, 2012 under Encouraging Words | 2 Comments to Read

Glass Kiln at Sandwich Glass Factory

I was running on empty as I drove to Bible study. Gnawing a protein bar, I prayed all the way to church. My thoughts were full of Terri. In the past year her husband was disabled in a car accident, her mother died after three deathbed visits, her brother inexplicably fell into a coma and finally died, her aunt passed away, and her daughter had emergency surgery. A few days ago her husband had emergency surgery and was diagnosed with cancer.

I told Terri I would help lead the Thursday night Bible study if she needed to stay home. But no, she wanted to come. She meant to put the Lord first.

I knew Terri was hanging on desperately by faith, so I prayed earnestly, “Lord, speak to her tonight. Let us all hear from You.”  The little circle of women echoed that prayer as we sat together.

Then Terri turned on Beth Moore’s video introduction* to the coming week’s study.

The lesson was based on Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego and the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3). Right away Beth began talking about the fiery trials of life.   For example, how would we respond if we received a diagnosis of cancer?

I glanced at Terri. This was just the message she needed–that we all needed–coming right through a pre-recorded video.  In answer to our prayers,  God had “showed up” at Bible study.  His Presence filled the room and my hungry heart.

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego were threatened with immediate execution when they refused to worship the king’s golden image. Nebuchadnezzar taunted them, “What god is there who can deliver you out of my hands?” (3:15)

But they replied, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (3:17-18)

At that, the enraged king ordered his soldiers to cast them into the furnace, heated seven times hotter than usual.

According to Moore, God could have delivered the young men in three ways: “out of the fire, through the fire, or by the fire.” He might have miraculously extinguished the flames. Or He might have let them die, taking them to their eternal reward.  (All we who have received Jesus Christ as Savior will one day be delivered “by the fire” –in other words, by death into eternal life.)

Instead, Jesus joined them in their predicament.

“Look!” exclaimed the king. “I see four men loosed and walking about in the fire without harm–and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of god!” (3:25)

The young men didn’t even smell like smoke after they were brought out.  They had been delivered indeed “through the fire.”

I know the joy of miraculous healings and answers to prayer when God has delivered me “out of the fire.”  But even more amazing is the way Jesus leads us “through the fire.” When we face crises and dreaded diseases, we can rely on Him as our Shepherd, Physician, and Defender .  We cling to His hand; we lean on His arm. When we are weak, He carries us.  His Presence and His Word comforts us. He restores our strength.

Jesus promised, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) Nothing can separate us from His love.  He speaks peace to us and brings us joy.  It is enough to know He is with us and works all things together for our good. (Romans 8:28)

Cancer is an enemy.  Death is an enemy. But we have the victory “through it all” through our Lord Jesus Christ.

      Lord, you walked through this world before us. You humbled Yourself to become the Suffering Servant, obedient even to death on the cross. We do not always understand “why” we too must suffer, but we rejoice and give thanks that You go with us through every trial. We trust You for healing; we look to You for deliverance. But most of all, we seek You. In all circumstances of our lives, Lord, be glorified. Let those who see us in the fire see You walking with us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

 

      1. I Will Be with You
  a song based on Isaiah 43:2

*Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophecy by Beth Moore. LifeWay Press, Nashville, Tennessee. (C) 2006

Under the Umbrella

Posted by admin on August 22, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

It was only noon, but I had experienced a day’s worth of frustration already.   While I heated up a frozen dinner, I decided to dine at my desk.  Maybe reading email would distract me from my worries.

A few years ago on such “down” days, I would have consoled myself with a high-carb meal and sweets, maybe even a Big Mac, fries, and shake.  But wait.  As a cancer survivor and research study participant, I have learned new habits.  I plan healthy meals and write down my calories.  I eat what I enjoy, and I enjoy what I eat.  I eat mindfully.

So I added baby carrots and grape tomatoes to my plate.  Then I opened the back door to gaze at the patio, where wind chimes clinked in the lemon-scented breeze.  A comfortable chair sat in the shade of a brand-new umbrella.  What a lovely day.

I would have a perfect view of the roses, hummingbirds, and peach trees, if I sat at that table. . . .

SOMEONE was inviting me to lunch.

All right, I accept.

My mind was in turmoil as I carried my lunch outside.  My heart was burdened with concerns for friends and personal needs.   I actually felt sick with anxiety.  Lord, help me take all these miserable, wild thoughts captive! 

The cool Pacific breeze washed over me, like the wind of the Spirit.  I closed my eyes.  Lord, into Your hands I commit . . .  this person . . . this fear . . .  this grief . . . this dilemma. . . .   

Overhead the rainbow umbrella fluttered like a flag against the sun.  Scriptures came to mind.  “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade upon your right hand.” (Psalm 121:4)  Thank You, Lord.

A little scripture song echoed in my mind:  “He led me to the banquet table.  His banner over me is love.” (Song of Songs 2:4)  Yes, Lord, Your love covers me and all who trust in You.

I sat there as my food cooled.  But when I finally picked up a fork, the wild hungers were calmed, the raging fears were caged.  I was satisfied in body and spirit.  Lord, You are in control.  Help me remember that.

I want  to be mindful that I am a child of God in training.  Instead of indulging in self-pity or a silent tantrum, I am learning, like the Psalmist David said, to comfort myself in the Lord.

“I do not get involved with things too great or too difficult for me.  Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself like a little weaned child with its mother; I am like a little child,” David said.  “Israel, put your hope in the Lord, both now and forever.”   (Psalm 131:1b-3)

My patient Father, loving as a mother, longs for me to run to Him with my needs, not to mindless distractions like food, entertainment, or shopping. He invites me to pour out my thoughts and tears.  I lean on Him and let Him hold me.   Just as He nourished His people with manna in the wilderness, He feeds me with the Bread of Heaven.  Day by day I can come to Him and be filled.

The Lord Jesus Christ stands today at the door of our hearts and knocks.  He has prepared a table for us in the garden of the Spirit.  His grace overshadows our lives.  On the road, in a work cubicle, in the silence of a room, He spreads the feast of His Presence.

“For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world,” Jesus said.  “I am the bread of life.  No one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” (John 6:33, 35 HCSB)

Come and dine–under the umbrella of His love!