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.

 

Look! The Lamb of God

Posted by admin on December 29, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

     This year’s late November Thanksgiving plummeted us into the season of Advent, looking ahead to Christmas, perhaps before we were ready to celebrate it.  Now the New Year advances upon us.  Maybe if we had celebrated Advent as a season of reflection, maybe if we had rested in the promises of Christ’s coming, maybe if we had not gotten tangled in Christmas preparations, just maybe we might feel ready for a new year.  But are we ready?  Am I ready to see Emmanuel and follow Him?    

Read John 1:29-42.

     John’s mission was to prepare the way for the Lord, to turn hearts in repentance toward the coming Messiah.  He himself did not know Who this might be, although he and Jesus surely met as boys at Passover in Jerusalem.  Two serious young men, devoted to the Scriptures, strong in the Lord, might well have looked forward to their annual reunions. Did they ever discuss the stories related by Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Zechariah, tales of miraculous births, mysterious prophecies, and angelic proclamations of their very names and destinies? 

     Perhaps, but there in the wilderness, baptizing at the Jordan River, John was not at all sure Who was coming.   Crowds surged to hear his message of repentance and be baptized; Pharisees questioned his identity and authority.  He was sure of his calling as forerunner and herald.    Yet, like all of us, John needed the Spirit of God to open his eyes.

     Then Jesus came to be baptized, and, suddenly, John saw Him, saw his cousin for Who He really was–the One who never sinned, the Son of God, the prophsied Messiah. He protested, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)  Jesus insisted; He wanted to identify Himself with sinners, a first step in obedience to God’s plan of salvation.  And so He was baptized.  The heavens opened up, the Spirit of God descended on Him, and the Father proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son.  I delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34)

    “Look! The Lamb of God!” John exclaimed.  “Here is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about.”  So enthusiastic was his witness that some of his own disciples left to follow Jesus.  That was all right with John.  He was totally prepared to be eclipsed by the Messiah.  He was filled with joy and kept on baptizing, telling everyone that the Son indeed had come. (John 3:22-36)

    Lord, once I walked in darkness, no, cowered in darkness.  Darkness consumed me until You came into my life.  Then I saw You, Lamb of God, Savior, Lover of my soul!  What a relief, what a joy to turn my eyes to You, and walk in Your light!  Help me see You at work this year in my life and all around me.  Give me that holy enthusiasm of John to point others to You, even in my present circumstances and season of life!  For You are with me, Emmanuel, ever present, Faithful and True. 

    Thank You, Lord, for Your words of assurance from Scripture, even as You faced the cross: “Your heart must not be troubled.  I go to prepare a place for you.  The world does not see me, but  you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:1,2b, 19 paraphrase)

     Look! The Lamb of God!

 

Dive In

Posted by admin on December 31, 2011 under Encouraging Words | Read the First Comment

The paralysis of analysis and downright fear gripped poor little Sigmund as he stared into the deep.  His toes curled in anxiety.  Dad wanted him to dive in, but he couldn’t.  What if he drowned? 

Suddenly someone bumped Siggy off the pier!   There was a splash, then he bobbed up like a cork.  Wow!  With no more thought than a fish, he had become an enthusiastic diver.

I love the movie What About Bob? in which a zany neurotic patient named Bob creates chaos in the life of his psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist loses his mind, while Bob survives and thrives.  His new-found joy in living endears him to everyone but Sigmund’s dad.  Siggy follows Bob’s lead, taking risks and raising a ruckus.  Life will never be the same.

Every New Year I hang a new calendar in my studio.  The old calendar, scribbled with birthdays, deaths, music lessons, doctor appointments, and vacation dates, I save as a kind of ship’s log, a travel map through time.  I wonder what occasions will mark the new year.   This is a comfortable moment in my life.  I am well, my family is well.  I have everything I need.  Can’t I just stay here?  But Time ignores my anxiety and pushes me over the edge.

When I was young, I could not imagine 2012.  How very old I would be!  Now it has come; I see the gray hair, but I am still me.  The Lord has put a great  joy of  life into my heart.  Each New Year brings me closer to Heaven; as Billy Graham says, I am “nearing home.”   Yet I hope to take some more risks, raise a ruckus, and dive into the unknown in 2012.

St. Paul said it well:  “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)  He wrote this from prison in A. D. 61-62.  For him, the present was not comfortable; he had “suffered the loss of all things.”  He would be executed for his faith in Christ.   But even in chains his resolution was firm.  “This one thing I do,” he said, “forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus. .  . . I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  (Phil. 3:13b-14 and Phil. 4:13) 

My friend and spiritual counselor Dr. Bill Gaultierre faced a quarter-mile swim in the chilly Pacific Ocean with these thoughts:  “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength . . . I can die through Christ who gives me strength . . .  I can overcome my fear through Christ who gives me strength . . . I can swim in this ocean through Christ who gives me strength . . . ” (from his book You Can Live in Jesus’ Easy Yoke )  And he did!*

The future laps at our feet.   Our Coach urges us on.  He is right there, holding up the prize.  We cannot stay where we are, so we make the leap of faith.  By His grace, we will not sink but reach the other side.  His strong arm will lift us out, and we will see His smile.   We will hear Him say, “Well done,” as we enter eternal life.  

Time is the friend of every pilgrim. 

So, dear friends, young and old,  “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you . . . I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:3-4, 6) 

We too can dive in to face our fears with Jesus.  God has brought us this far, He is with us now, and He is in every tomorrow.  He is our Hope and our Prize. 

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Time.  Into Your hands, Father, I commit my life.  Thank You for forgiving and redeeming my past.  Thank You for speaking to me right now, encouraging me by Your Spirit.  Thank You for giving my life meaning and purpose.  My goal is to love You, to serve You, to please You in the coming year.  I can do everything in Your strength, Jesus, one moment at a time.  You will never leave me or forsake me.  I trust You to complete Your work in my life.  Be glorified in me, Lord Jesus, and fill me anew with Your Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’  precious name I pray, Amen.

A song for you from the musical Pilgrim’s Progress:

      1. Kids Sing Pilgrims Gotta Progress

* Dr. Bill’s website http://www.soulshepherding.org/