WHAT IS THE BIBLE TO YOU

open bibleI could not adequately describe to you what the Bible means to me. For to do so I would have to tell you my life story with all of its crazy twist and turns. And that would take hours upon hours to lay out before you. If you will allow me to try, here is my best effort.

God’s Word was practically unknown to me up until the of age fourteen. Though I remember going to a Baptist church when I was a little girl. Occasionally on Sunday morning my mother would dress my sister and me up in dresses and send us out the door to walk to a church about 5 or 6 blocks down our road. We would hear stories about Jesus and do little Sunday school papers. I do not really remember the stories, just bringing home the papers. There was an old brown piano and lots singing but don’t remember the words either.

I first clearly heard the Gospel while in a canoe on a lake, from my Uncle, while attending a summer church camp he and my aunt were assisting at. He told me the story of how Jesus gave his life for me, for my sins. He asked me to accept him as my savior. I prayed the prayer. I believed with my head but am still unsure to this day I believed with my heart at the time. Though it was the first knock at my door, from the Lord, He continually pursued me for years. At times He was close enough for me to hear his whisper of love but other times I would not know or care where he was.

My Aunt and Uncle had given me a bible I would pack around throughout my life. I would read the handwritten inscription which would nudge me to read a verse here and there but would never read the whole book. It was special because it was a gift. I treated it as a memento to save not “a prescription for life” as my Aunt and Uncle referred to in their words written to me on the inside page. I had not realized how big a gift it was until years later when I heard God’s voice again beseeching me to come unto him. It was loud and bold this time. So loud, in fact, I could not resist it.

There are times in life when the rug is pulled out from underneath you. You fall with a thud. You are in shock from the impact and confused as to why or how you ended up there. And that is how it was with me. I was not sure what to do or where to turn. And this is when God whispered, “I am here to pick you up.” It was a whisper heard through the words of a friend. “Michelle, maybe you need God.” I heard it but I did not know how to reach out to Him. In the pain and heartache, I experienced, I just began to move forward out of necessity for my children. And in moving forward, I had a desire to go to church for the first time in my adult life. Strange things began to happen. He immediately opened doors I would have never walked through and met people I never considered speaking to about God.

He orchestrated a new life that I never imagined for myself.  One day I found myself sitting in a church, hearing a preacher say I have to know that I know that Jesus saved me.  And before I knew it I was rising to my feet walking down an aisle surrendering my life to the one and only, Savior, Jesus Christ. I finally believed in my heart what was believed, in my mind, those many years ago.

I opened God’s Word to read the instructions that would put my life back together. His words would lead me down paths I never knew existed. His Word saved me and inspired me to make changes for the good. It would give me breath when I could not breathe on my own. It would give me a song when all I could do was cry. It would bring me comfort when sorrow weighed me down. His words gave me knowledge and wisdom when I felt helpless and ignorant. They would give me hope when I was in the rut of sin and I thought my failure would end me. God’s word became the light of a path that was dark and unknown. It would become the lifeline to sanity from the midst of confusion. It was a rope to freedom from the discouragement of life.

His word was the love I desperately craved from youth. It was the hope I cringed at in darkness for fear it was not real.  It was the rescue I cried out for in depths of grief. It was the fresh air I gasped for in days of panic and fear. It was the enveloping hug in the silence of loneliness. It was and is the personal note, letter, and poetry from the lover of my soul!

Little did I know that that words inscribed by my Aunt and Uncle would become prophecy. For God’s Holy Bible is indeed the prescription for all my illnesses and problems, keeping me healthy and happy! And the best news of all, I will live forever with Christ in Heaven!

Dear Shelly,

This Book is a prescription for life. Take a little every day. If you’ll follow the instructions you find it will cure all illnesses and problems you’ll ever have. It will make you very happy and healthy and you’ll live forever. 

With deepest love, 

Pat and Gail

gift bible 1976

Proving God’s Goodness

Monday was the day! We officially have gotten rid of all the junk! After a few days of transition (replacing all the traditional American diet stuff to whole food plant based – WFPB – items) we finally said, “Ok, let’s jump!”
PicMonkey Collage
It really was not scary because God has given us both confidence in our new journey. We both watched the show, Forks Over Knives, on Netflix and heard some very disheartening information but also some encouraging news. So afterward we both came to an agreement, we needed to make a change. Making that decision together is half the battle in a home. My husband and I are determined, of course. I began to pray about the best course of action and low and behold God gave me a verse in my bible study the day after we made the decision. To me, it meant God’s final nod to me that we are walking in the right direction. It seemed to be an answer to a prayer I prayed weeks ago, “Lord, make me a clean and pure vessel for your service.” He almost always speaks through his word.
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;
and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23
Do you see ‘sanctify you wholly’ and ‘whole spirit and soul and body be preserved?’ Watching the show Forks Over Knives seemed kind of random at the time but it made clear to me what I had been learning for some time through the scripture. It nagged me, the connection between food and man.  The numerous diets programs, the different messages coming from different health organizations and the habits we formed from childhood led to so much confusion as to what we should be doing.
The bible states so plainly, we are God’s creation. In Genesis, before the fall, mankind was eating the whole food plant-based diet. And after the fall we immediately started to decay, to die. We became meat-eating humans which meant animals would die to satiate our hunger and our comfort. I know the theology of it. The first animal dying, the first blood sacrifice for the covering of sin, the animal skin covering Adam and Eve which is way more than I want to go into. Suffice it to say, the message all connected in my body, spirit, and soul. There had to be a connection to the diet after the fall and the diseases that have crept into our everyday lives.
And let me say first nothing is random in God’s time and secondly, I am not going to lecture about the inhumanity of killing animals or the effects on our environment from raising and processing animal fat and meats (that may be for another day). It is not the reason we decided to do what we are doing as far as our diet goes. The main reason is for the health! We are sick of taking medications and being overweight and lacking energy! We do not take near the medications that our parents do, nor some of our friends and family, but if there is a way to not take them at all and it has to do with changing our diets then we are willing to try.
The money spent on doctor visits, medications, and hospital stays are so astronomical not to mention the danger of it all. If you could avoid all of that, wouldn’t you want to try???? I watched both of my parents go through heart surgeries and complications. Being connected to machines, depending on humans to know what they are doing and to do it in the right way. Sometimes guessing at what might be the matter. To see them both struggle with breathing, wearing oxygen masks to get through the day. That is not what I want for myself or my husband. Heart disease runs in my family and so does diabetes so why wouldn’t I do better for myself and my family? I know things happen that are beyond our control but most of our health is within our control. Our daily choices, to get informed and get off our butts, make some changes in planning, prepping and shopping.  From all the information I have read and studied so far it is proven that it can be done and done well. To the benefit of all.
whole foods
Another thought inspired by God’s Word is from one of my favorite verses in the bible and one I truly attempt to live out on a daily basis is Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
During my study of the books of Thessalonians these past few weeks, I was struck by the fact that Paul often repeats himself when making a point. I found a repeated thought in his letter to the Thessalonians, Chapter 5 verse 21 ‘prove all good things; hold fast that which is good.’ Here he is telling us to prove something is good as he told us in Romans to prove that which is good. Christianity is about living out the Word of God, living out what Jesus lived out when walking on earth. He was proving God’s goodness, proving God’s ways are good and His ways will work if applied, He was proving God.
When we walk, act out and/or do God’s Word by applying His principles, we are proving to the world, as Jesus did, His ways are good, His ways work and thereby prove God’s love. Afterall love is not just a mushy feeling one feels, it is action. You can hear Paul pleading with believers in Romans 12: 1-2,  (paraphrased) ” I am begging you to give of yourself, your whole body, spirit, and soul, to God. Which is the right thing to do and if you keep yourself separate from the world in body, spirit, and soul you will prove the goodness and the ways of God”
 body soul spirit
So you see how it all fits together? Praying and asking God to forgive you of your sins and save you from hell brings you to salvation. Praying and asking God to make you a vessel fit for service brings you to emptying yourself out to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Praying and asking God to make you healthy brings you to make choices about what you put into your body. When we pray for God’s direction we need to be able to watch and wait, while actively seeking and moving forward in what He already tells us to do. We pray, ask and take action.
“You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13
I have heard friends say to me, “I am not sure what God wants me to do. I am waiting but not sure which direction He wants me to go in.” And then they literally just wait for God to magically put up a door that says “walk through here.” I kind of believed that at one time. But it has been my experience that when we take steps of faith toward something we desire or something we believe God is telling us to pursue, He will either close the door of opportunity or open the door opportunity. He will make it clear one way or the other.
If we sit and wait, how will we find the doors if we are not going out there looking for them? God’s Word tells us to seek and then it tells us we will find. You can’t find anything sitting and waiting. There must be action.
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This seeking and knocking can be disappointing or exciting depending on what it is you believe God is saying. And that, my friend, is where praying in faith comes in. You pray and BELIEVE God wants His very best for you so you trust whatever door He opens for you! And remember sometimes He has to bring many things together before we even get to the door. Yes, it may take some time. But never stop seeking! Because that door may just be around the next corner!

“Call me back.”

Father’s Day.  Last year I called my dad on Father’s Day but he did not answer his phone so I left him a message, “Was calling to wish you a Happy Father’s Day, call me back.”.  He called me back but I missed his call so he left me a message, “Michelle, this is your father, I called you back, call me back.” We finally connected later on that day.  He thanked me for the Harley Davidson Coffee Mug I sent him and we chatted about this and that. He told me what his day had been like and then we hung up.  I talked to him one more time after that.  It was Thursday, June 27th at 8am. My commute was often an hour or more and because it was early I knew my dad was up. So as was custom I would call him and catch him up on the family happenings on my way to work in which I did that morning.

School had let out for the summer several weeks before so traffic was not as heavy as it was during the school year which made the trip a bit shorter that day. My memory has been very vivid where this particular phone conversation is concerned. Normally our conversations would consist of the goings on in my life and his life. Then we would exchange opinions and factoids on the current events and politics. One of the special things to me about these discussions was that during this time in our lives we seem to agree on many issues.  Which was a far cry from when I was a young adult or a teenager when we did not agree on much.  Looking back it was probably because I did not understand what was really going on in the world so I could not discuss most subjects with him intelligently. Which most assuredly frustrated him.  To have these discussions now was very gratifying because I could appreciate his wisdom and opinion and secretly loved the fact that my father would actually want to know my opinion on a matter.  He would actually acknowledge some of the wisdom or knowledge I had about a subject.

This particular conversation was just a bit different, however. He seemed to be out of breath and I inquired as to why.  He said he had just walked up the stairs. But his breathing never got better as I chatted on and on about each one of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He asked about each one. My son, Esteban and my nephew, Austin had graduated high school several weeks before so we told each other about the event. Esteban in Texas and Austin in Missouri. When we had finished I changed the subject to current events and he said, “That stuff doesn’t matter, you know, lets talk about the kids again, there is a lot going on.”  So I paused. Then he started listing the events coming up for our family during the summer he remarked on the blessing of it all.  A newborn baby coming, a wedding, a son going into the Army and my husband deploying overseas. So much was coming.  And little did I know at that time he would be going.

I told him to get to the doctor and he told me he had an appointment on Monday.  We said, “I love you” to each other though he was out of breath I sensed he was emphasizing his words.  After I hung up my first thought was, ‘how strange for him to repeat everything I had said was happening with the kids this summer and he said it was all a blessing.’ I realized at that moment that I didn’t think I had ever heard him say the word ‘blessing’ before. The conversation has stayed with me every day since.  Even now I hear his voice.

Tomorrow is Father’s Day and in eighteen days it will be the one year anniversary that my father went to heaven.  It is hard to think about that for too long without the tears welling up.  Initially I am happy for him, celebrating Father’s Day with his heavenly Father.  I can’t even imagine what that day will be like for me.  I try to but it is just too much.  My dad had not known Him long but for the time he did he was a changed man. And that thought alone makes me smile.  Makes me want to fall on my knees and give thanks for my heavenly Father who made it possible for my earthly father to experience peace, love and joy. For him to be able to recognize the ‘blessings’ in his life. So while I can not call him tomorrow to say Happy Father’s Day, I can call upon the Lord to say thank you for answering my prayers of salvation for the dad God gave me.

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. ~ Romans 10:13

Larry Leach

Larry Leach

“Open Your Eyes”

“But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” ~ John 3:21

When I post political articles and current event pieces on Facebook it is usually because something  rises up within me to shout to the world, “Open your eyes, look what’s going on!” It reminds of the song “Stop Children What’s That Sound”  The words could easily apply to today’s headlines.

Most people live their lives with their head in the sand  They think they can keep living the life they make for themselves without being effected by what is going on in the world.  They think they are immune to the crime happening in their community until it happens to them. They think the scandals and the lawlessness of our government has no bearing on their day-to-day routine until they lose their job due to a new law that has been forced upon all Americans. They pay no attention to the news of the day until they hear it is about someone they know.  They scoff at the post about conspiracy, corruption or rumors of war.  They become so busy they have no time to do their civil duty such as vote or call their local representative about an injustice or accountability. Then they get angry because someone got elected that they do not like but have no one to blame but themselves for their lack of interest.

People plan the next activity or event without stopping to look at the souls around them struggling to get through the day.  They feign their interest in the suffering of others but have no time to help out the neighbor or friend they know need words of encouragement or a hug.  They want to be comforted but have none to give, they want to be entertained and made to feel good but have no interest in serving others. They think by giving money to a group or a good cause they have done their part but do not want to leave their comfort zone. They call themselves “Christian” but have no interest in being “Christ-like” nor do they know what that even means.

The truth is many who have known Him for many years have fallen asleep.  They have gone numb from the noise of the world.  Where is the fire? Where is the revivals? Where are the men and women in the United States who would give their hearts, minds and souls to help another find His way into eternity?  The ones who live facing death daily in other countries are dying for their faith. Literally by the thousands.  Just click on this link and read the stories: Persecution  If those do not convince you that Americans are asleep then I do not know what will.

You can listen to the conservative/Christian talk shows and you will hear them go round and round about the problems our country is facing. The commentary and arguments in the media are spewing out words that have changed their meanings over the years. Facebookers post the recipes, humorous phrases and spiritual thoughts for the day all the while the powers and principalities are wreaking havoc in this world. Most folks never stop to really think about the words they put out into the infernal internet clothesline or do they?” What difference does it make?” as in the words of one who cares nothing for making a difference in anyone’s life but their own or for the lives who made a difference by laying down their life to save others.

Now before you think I am not including myself in any of the transgressions above please realize that I, myself have been wrestling with all the noise of the world as of late. The thoughts running around in my head have been very, very eclectic to say the least. Politics, religion, Jesus, children, ministry, finances, love, marriage, sickness, death, family, fear, drugs, military, salvation, war, law, citizen, teenagers, win, fail, weight, prayer, health, spring, vacation, reunion, future, recipes, bills, serve, honor, past…..it just goes on and on. I have not been able to focus on one thing other than one simple question that is causing me to wonder what God is speaking to me about. What difference am I making in the world?  My world, this world or better yet, your world?

Now that might seem to some like a question I am throwing out there for others to answer. Not at all and please don’t. Truthfully I would like to hear the answer from God. For it is not man who will judge my works or my heart when I leave this planet earth to enter into eternal life.  There are times when I believe I am asleep at the wheel, so to speak, when it comes to my walk with the Lord. I have taken inventory and discovered that the times I was gleaning an enormous amount from God’s Word and time with Him were in my loneliest and darkest of days.  Why is it then in our bright days of day-to-day living that we don’t seem to have the same intensity of relationship?  Is it the focus or the intention of the heart that is slightly off kilter? We can blame it on distractions, responsibilities or circumstances.  In truth it is ultimately our choice.  We choose to make our walk a priority, the TOP priority!

I admit there are days when going about my business I will throw up prayers to God without stopping to get quiet, bow my head or my knees.  I will say things like:  “God, stop me if this is not pleasing.” “God, am I being selfish here?” “God, are you seeing what’s in my heart right now?” “God, I can not do this on my own.” “Thank you, Jesus! You are sooo good!” But over the course of time throwing up prayers does not a relationship make and  I am not so sure that is what is meant by living with godly purpose or walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. Spending time quietly waiting for Him to speak, praying our hearts cry, reading His Word back to Him, meditating on His goodness, praising and worshiping Him in song, those are relationship builders with Christ.  And those I have done but not always consistently.

But oh, it can be disconcerting to try to examine the motives or responses to each and every moment I did not turn to God, but instead to other things such as internet, a movie, a book, busy-ness or the conversation of others.  When I do turn to those things on a regular basis I become agitated, irritated and cynical. Even angry at times with what I see others doing.  Then I become a judge instead of an edifier.  I want others to know what I love not what I hate. I want to be the peacemaker instead of divider.  I want to encourage instead of the one who  criticizes.  But most of all I want to be the salt and light.  I want to be Christ-like! 

I recently was a part of an effort to reach out to some teens that happen to go to school with my son, who is in high school.  He has been inviting his friends from school each Wednesday evening for almost 2 years.  At first it was just one friend.  And then a couple came with him. Now he may have 4 or 5 any given week.  Our very small church took them camping to connect with them by unplugging and removing most of the distractions.  I felt so inadequate to be there. I felt old and had absolutely nothing to say they could relate to. The one moment I did speak it felt flat and without power to move any of them to seek Him.

However, there were moments when I witnessed them listening to God’s Word. I do not know if they actually heard what was said or if they took it in long enough to remember it.  I do know beyond a shadow of doubt that God’s Word does not return void.  And I know from first hand experience that He fills in the gaps where we as humans fail to be what we need to be in the face of ministering or witnessing to someone for eternity. After the weekend was over I gave it all up to Him to do with it what He will. Even if the teens were not moved over the 3 days I can certainly say I was. It left me desperately wanting to see Him move in those kids and in me. 

I have made more of an effort to stop, look and listen to Him rather than to keep moving forward without heed to God’s will. Which is why writing has been so difficult for me lately.  If God does not give it to me I do not want to write it down.  For the Bible says we will be judged for every idle word. The world is a different place than when I first accepted Christ as my Savior.  Back then, some 22 years ago, we could talk face to face to someone who would look us in the eye.  Now there are so many ways to communicate without ever laying eyes on another human if we choose.  We have to turn it all off.  We have to separate ourselves from the noise of this world.  We have to surrender our hearts to silence for a bit and get back to face to face.  And knees to ground.  Because until we do we will not make much of a difference in bringing others to Christ. In bringing others with us into eternity.  

My prayer:

Oh, heavenly Father, I pray you open my eyes wider to the reality that our time on this earth is short for none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Lord, help us to see past the distractions of our day, to hear beyond the noise of the world, to reach out to those who can not see.  Help us to be the light to them that they may find their way to you.  Give us wisdom to apply the season of salt to the conversations we have with others that they might understand the love that comes from your son, Jesus. Put a fire in our hearts, repentance on our lips and bring revival to our land! Thank you, Lord for hearing our cry! In Jesus name, Amen!

Grace to you friend for stopping by!

Shell

A Cardboard Shoe Box

fall autum-colours

I seemed to be at a loss as to how to share with the world all the things I was and am thankful for this year. Many had posted their thankfulness list on Facebook throughout the month of November.  I did the list last year and pretty much kept up with it each day but my heart and mind could not settle on this notion of listing all the things I am thankful for for the sake of posting, it was something more internal this year. Something I believe God wanted me to communicate with Him intimately.  And so began somewhat of a different focus on Thanksgiving.

I saw a prayer on a devotional post several months ago and it sparked something within me and so I began praying it also, “Lord, stir my heart, awaken my soul!” I told my oldest son about it and he said he completely understood.  He himself felt the urgency to wake up!  We all have been sort of asleep at our house.  As if waiting for something or someone to wake us all up with a bang.  But after some discussion we decided we did not want to be caught asleep at the wheel so to speak if it just happened to be the rapture.

After some ‘soul searching’ among us we found that we each had settled into a comfortableness, almost complacency.  For my son and daughter-in-law it was looking for the next place to be.  Somewhere else God was calling them.  The Lord began to speak to them about being called right here.  Where they are now.  So a spark was lit for them as well.  When we compared notes on the last few months we understood that God was moving us to wake up together. I believe we have been lulled asleep by the insanity of our world.  Bad news every day on every level of humanity.  We tune it out because it overwhelms and it causes us to be tempted to give in to the fear it brings with it.  We turn inward hoping it does not touch us and we begin to show the signs of walking in the flesh by the lack of concern or compassion we show others.  Our love flickers to a small dim flame because we have our eyes on the waves and not on Jesus.

We believe the themes of the messages we have been hearing are simple and back to basics.  Back to the simple gospel of Christ and the sold-out worship of Him. No idols standing in His place.  No program or plan to replace Him.  No monotonous “Christian” thing done each day of the week.  No box checked on Sunday morning. Just an overwhelming sense of love flowing from our hearts that spills onto others in acts of kindness and mercy.  We question are we grateful, thankful to the God that saved us, changed us and is daily conforming us to His image or is it because of what He can give us or do for us?  Are we living out of the gratefulness and walking thankful lives by our actions?

I heard a message on the radio by David Jeremiah and I am sure it was no coincidence, he said, “You worship the one you trust and you trust the one you know.” He was preaching from the old testament book of Habakkuk.  I love that book.  The short three chapters are so huge with a message of pure worship.  The conversation between the prophet and God about a people who turned their backs on God and hearts to idols, he pleads with God over His decision to use the Babylonians to bring judgment on  the children of Israel by taking them into captivity.  The fact is God will use any and all things to turn our hearts back to Him.  When the prophet comes to face to face of the inevitability of what he and his people will endure he still worships the one who created him.  The one he knows.

The prophet ends his rapport with God stating that if there is nothing left, there is still God.  He will rejoice in Him and have joy in his salvation.  He trusts God for his strength and he knows that God will exalt him through difficulties if he remains faithful.  Or at least that is what the Lord speaks to me through words of Habakkuk.  I know first hand the touch of God’s hand in my life. I have seen Him make me clean after a venture into sin.  I have seen Him make all things new.  I have seen Him raise many in my family from spiritual death.  I have seen Him restore to me the years the locusts have eaten.   I have seen. With all the wonders of God’s miracles in my life I still have not seen what He has prepared for me in Heaven.  But I know He has because He said so. 

If I am asleep or awake God is still present.  He speaks to me through so many things, through His Word, music, people, children, nature and circumstances. He even times His messages so that they are heard with eyes and ears that are prepared to hear and see them.  I have been asked the question, “How do you know God is there, how do you see Him?”  I believe it is like connecting the dots.  I loved doing that as a child.  I would try to figure out what the picture would look like before I put the pencil to paper. I followed the numbers with my eyes and drew the lines in my mind to try to guess the outline.  But it was not until I actually drew the line from 1 to 2 and then to 3 that I could actually realize what the artist had envisioned.  The closer I got to the last number the more clear it came into view.  And at last I could see the form.  There was some satisfaction or surprise in seeing it for the first time.  Partly because I was a part of the process, there was accomplishment and partly because I followed the correct path to the end.

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.~Jeremiah 29:13

It is much like this when you seek God.  The daily readings connect to the messages heard throughout the day connecting to the conversations you have with others. Which all connects to the circumstances you travel through on your way to the end of the day.  And in  the stillness of the night or the calm quiet time you spend  with God or even during the morning service Sunday morning He brings it all together in your heart and mind.  The two synchronize the connections and voice speaks to you through the Holy Spirit of God.  He is saying, “I see you and I hear you, you are chosen and you are mine.”

That happens to me many times.  This past Sunday morning is no exception. Our Pastor had us all bring a box to church early in the year of 2013.  He called it a “Praise Box.” He wanted us to get in the habit of praising and thanking God each day for His blessings in our lives.  We were to bring notes, songs, poems, pictures, scriptures, prayers  or whatever we wanted to put in our box to praise God.  It was not to share with others but between God and ourselves. As part of our Thanksgiving  week we took our boxes this Sunday and went through them to look back on all the things we put in there through out this past year. What sweet memories there were for me in that cardboard shoe box.  Giving thanks for all God had done in my life and that of my families.  All He gave and all He took.

A wedding anniversary, high school graduation, a baby shower, a death, a celebration of a life, a birth, a son going off to Army basic training, a wedding and a few salvations.  All this year. Life in all of its forms passing from one thing to the next with God ever-present in it all.  And then as I went back through the dates of the slips of paper I arrived to the very first one I slipped into my box.  No great event happened that day, just an ordinary day but a verse that God had given me.  It was written out word for word.

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. ~ Hebrews 12:28

I did not even notate the reason for writing it down other than the fact that it was significant that day.  The awesomeness of God, giving to us the gift of salvation that can never be taken away and a life in Him that can never be destroyed.  A God who is more powerful than anything known to man.  A God who chose me to serve Him with all my heart, mind soul and strength.  And why did I gasp when I read that verse? Because He again gave me the very same verse last week as I have been praying the prayer, “Lord, stir my heart, awaken my soul!”  What do you think He wanted me to see?  What dots was He connecting in my life?  I believe that no matter what happens in my life, no matter what losses I suffer, no matter what blessings I gain  my worship has to be grounded in humility and my walk has to be the picture of gratefulness.  Nothing else will do when my works are judged by a consuming fire the day I stand or kneel in the unshakable kingdom before my awesome God!

Grace to you all who have come here,

Shell

Peter Called Out, “Lord, save me.”

Friday began with a restlessness that I could not put into words.  All day I kept wondering why I could not be at ease.  You know the butterfly type queasiness you get when you think something bad is about to happen to change your world.  I prayed out loud to the Lord the scripture that always comes to my mind in those moments.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  ~  Philippians 4:6-7

I prayed it several times yet I could not shake the feeling but I had surrendered the worry to Jesus’ care.

I left work early to go to an ultrasound appointment with my son and daughter-in-law.  We were going to get a 3D/4D video and pictures of the baby.  I was excited to see the baby moving but was not fully prepared for the overwhelming feelings I had at seeing this sweet miracle of life.  We got to see the whole baby, from top to bottom.  Hands, fingers, feet, toes, ribs, arms, legs, bottom, gender, back, head, face and the tongue. Yes, babies, stuck its tongue out. 🙂 I say babies, because we are not revealing the gender until the baby shower, only I know what it is….tune in later for the news! Babies kept grabbing onto the umbilical cord to hug it or put it in its mouth.  At 26 weeks it is just the most precious proof of a sovereign creator.

tongue

tongue

prayers

prayers

There was a moment when the technician snapped a picture of babies with its hand up toward its face.  It looked to be praying.  It was at that moment the name of my grandchild popped into my head.  I believe it was the Holy Spirit giving me the name.  On my way home from the appointment I kept saying it out loud.  I loved it, O what a beautiful name! Of course I would have to live with whatever name the kids gave babies but in Grammy’s mind I already had a name. 🙂  Later in the evening our family watched the video we had purchased of the ultrasound on our television. When my son and I were alone I asked him what names they were thinking of for a boy and a girl.  He told me the list of names and guess what??? YES, the name the Lord had spoken to me was on their list.  I got goosebumps and said almost in tears, “Are you kidding me???”I told him what name came to me when I saw the picture and he was amazed!  (He found out the gender at the appointment because he could not wait any longer but promised not to tell)  We both had huge smiles on our face! And this Grammy had praise in her heart for a God so personal and intimate that He gives confirmation of His presence in a name.

Saturday came.  I had planned a Scrap-booking Crop for Saturday at our church.  Had 6 ladies come and it was a great day for fellowship and getting work done on some of my albums.  And it just happen to be National Scrapbook Day, Yeah!  I enjoyed being with friends and working through my creative outlet but I still had a nagging feeling something was wrong somewhere.  I called my kids to check on them.  Texted my husband a couple of times and just kept praying the prayer, trusting Him with all that may be ahead.

Sunday arrived. The morning service went well and the message was right on target as usual.  But it was a strange day for mishaps.  A few things misplaced and forgotten but thankfully the day ended well.  Early in the day I sorted through a box filled with notes, cards and letters given to me over the years.  As I opened them and read them the person writing them immediately came to mind.  Their face and their life flowed through my memory.  Their voice was in my head. I could hear them speaking to me, crying with me, laughing with me, praying with me or for me.   It is amazing to me that God gave us a memory that at any given moment a sight, a sound, a smell, a word or picture can take us to a moment in time as if no time had passed.

Later we attended the Sunday evening bible study.  There was a great discussion on pursuing after Jesus and also how we can miss out on what God has for us by losing confidence in our faith and giving up.  As Peter did in stepping out onto the water when he saw Jesus.  He pursued Jesus by asking first if it was really Him. Then he stepped out of the boat onto the water in faith.  When he took his eyes off the Lord and onto the raging waves he became afraid and began to sink.  It was then Peter cried out, “Save me, Lord.”  And of course Jesus did.

The observation was made that many interpret Peter to have lost his faith in Jesus by becoming afraid but he suggested that Peter had lost  confidence in his own faith, that it was not strong enough to keep him walking forward on the water.   That spoke to me about how we often think we are unworthy to serve God.  How we, continuously, are so consumed with our own failures that we give up and stop serving or pursuing Jesus.  We stop short of the blessings God has for us in our lives.

We know the story of how Peter denied the Lord when Jesus was arrested.  Jesus, himself foretold this to Peter and he did not want to believe he would ever deny his Lord.  But he had done the very thing the Lord said he would do.  Do you know, according to Scripture that Simon Peter is the first person Jesus appeared to after his resurrection?  Perhaps to reassure him that He was still loved and still chosen.  Can you imagine that meeting? Oh what love must have been in the Saviors eyes when Peter realized who it was appearing to him.  On the day of Pentecost the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and Peter was so overwhelmed  that he began to preach and 3,000 were saved that day.  And so began the church.  What if he had given up on his faith when Jesus had died on the cross?  What if he decided he could never serve Christ again because of his failure? Thankfully he did not give up and received Christ forgiveness and love.  He humbled himself under the Lord’s teaching and was built up in his faith.  He became one of the boldest preachers of the Gospel ever known this side of the Heaven.  Doesn’t that encourage you? It certainly encourages me!

When we fail the Lord, do we recognize Him when he comes after us? He pursues us each and every day through His Word, through others and through his creation.  He waits for us to fellowship with Him.  Do we run to him when we realize our mistakes? How much do we want Him in our lives?  How much are we willing to deny ourselves and run after Him?  Those were questions several asked in our group last night which are still on my mind today.

Well, here it is Monday morning.  The weekend has come and gone.  The feeling I had Friday is not nagging me any longer and as I awoke this morning I was glad that it had disappeared.  Though I am not sure it is related, I had some terrible news this morning when I logged onto Facebook.  A friend whom I have known for many years passed away on Saturday.  I did not know at first how she passed away.  I assumed it was her heart.  She struggled for many years, as my sister did, with a drug addiction.  It nearly destroyed her life.  But by God’s grace she overcame it and was married several years ago to a wonderful man.  She was attending school and making many positive changes in her life.  I had not seen her face to face in several years but we often chatted on Facebook. I was so very proud of her and so thrilled that she was living what seemed a vibrant and happy life.  When a short time passed after reading the news it was then I found out through a mutual friend that she took her life.  I am in shock.  I could not even imagine what was going through her mind at that moment.  And my heart breaks for her family.  Her dear family left to pick up the pieces.  Left to ask the age-old question, why? It is the second time in a year that I have heard the news of friend taking their life. in such a manner. While I have experienced despair and devastation I can not imagine what held them in such grip to make them want to end it all.   I am reminded again of Peter sinking into the water, looking at the raging waves instead of Jesus, the master and creator of the sea. Peter called out, “Lord, save me”

I find a familiar thread running through the past few days.

  • God is the creator of all things and He is sovereign over all. Psalm 135:6
  • God does not change because of our circumstances, it is our perspective that changes when we fail to keep our eyes on Him. Psalm 102:12, 25-28
  • God knows what lays ahead of us and will equip us to handle it if we consistently walk in obedience to His Word.  Jeremiah 29:11

Life is full of unexpected experiences,  a miracle of life one minute and the tragic loss of life in the next. There are moments when life clicks and everything falls into place and there are moments when it is all out of sync and everything falls apart.  I can not imagine living my life without God,  without the one who has numbered my days and knows the very number of hairs on my head.  He is so intimate and personal that  He  knows where to fill every ache in my soul with peace.

Lest you think walking with Christ is easy, it is not.  It is a life of endless discovery of the good and bad in our hearts, forsaking the bad and choosing the good.  It is a life of trying to do what is right every single time according to God’s Word.  It is a life often filled with our cries to God for mercy & grace, which He freely gives.  It is a life of continually dying to self for His glory.  It is a life of far greater reward than any earthly riches can buy.  And only if you choose to pursue Jesus will you discover this wonderful truth for yourself.  Because when you call out, “Lord, save me.”  He does!

Grace to you all,

Shell

Dedicated to my friends Marian S. & Michelle R. ~ may God use their circumstances in life and in death to reach someone for Jesus Christ.