Monthly Archives: July 2020

Lift Me Up

There is sometimes such a deep, abiding despair in my soul that I cannot even cry out for help.  These past weeks have been like that, as I struggle to understand that battle in which my family is engaged.  Yet this morning, as I sat in quiet time with the Lord, He spoke to my heart about my newest sin – new as in the latest one that He is revealing to me.  It seems I sinned when I went to someone else for help rather than crying out to Him alone.

You wouldn’t think that was sin, would you?  I certainly didn’t.  I thought we were here to help one another make it through the days.  My Lord saw it differently.  You see, for many months He has been drawing me closer and closer into a deeper intimacy with Him.  He has been grooming me for His purposes and He wants me to rely on Him, trust Him, reach for Him when I am in need, and totally depend upon Him.  I knew that. 

So this morning why did I reach for a flesh and blood friend?  I don’t really know the answer to that except that I wasn’t hearing from Him and in my impatience I turned to a friend to see if they had an explanation and some kind of direction that I wasn’t receiving.  As it turned out, they didn’t.  The best advice they had was to sit and wait upon the Lord.  (If I could insert a picture of a sheepish grin here, I would!)

After receiving this sage advice, I sat back in my prayer chair and waited on the Lord.  It took all of about two minutes to receive the chastening of the Lord and His reminder that I belong to Him and Him alone and our ministry together is dependent upon our constant communion and trust of ONE ANOTHER.

Okay here’s a new one on me.  The Lord is trusting ME???  After I let it sink in a bit I realized that yes, in fact, He was.  He was giving me assignments and trusting me to carry them our according to His instructions.  He was trusting that I wouldn’t substitute my own ingredients into the recipe, or hand it off to someone else to babysit for me.  He was trusting ME to be reliable and dependable in the service He has for me.  How about THAT?!?  The God who created the universe is trusting ME!

With contrite spirit I repented before Him, asking for His forgiveness.  He, as always, was faithful to offer that forgiveness along with some new revelations and a step deeper into His heart.

I have dusted off my knees and am now basking in the incredible peace and joy that comes from walking intimately with the King of Kings.  Hallelujah!

So how is your day going?

The Bridegroom Cometh!

For those of us who have been engaged to be married, the phrase ‘the bridegroom cometh’ brings fond memories of love and anticipation.   We remember those halcyon days following his proposal and our acceptance.  The days of dreaming and planning our wedding and our future together.  We gush over dresses and patterns and flowers and guest lists.  We beam!

In our soon-to-be-wed bliss our thoughts are of the bridegroom and our future.  We don’t look back on our past or his.  We look forward with eager anticipation to the day we become one unit.  And in all of that anticipation and excitement and planning, we do not turn our eyes to another.  Our hearts are steadfast for him and him alone, and we will not be deceived into believing another’s lies or enticements.  We are faithful.  We are adoring.  We are in a constant state of preparation and readiness.  For, after all, our bridegroom cometh!

These thoughts came to me today as I read 2 Timothy 2:5 – “… if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”  Don’t see the connection?  Let me explain….

Jesus said that he is returning for a spotless bride.  (Ephesians 5:27—“that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.”  Now a bride without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish, requires some effort.  Surely, as the bride, we do not allow ourselves to ‘go to seed’.  Of course not!  We groom ourselves, constantly looking out for anything that might mar the coming special day.  All blemishes must be vanquished!  Nails perfectly manicured, hair expertly coifed.  Our garments are clean, spotless, and pressed.  That is a bride preparing herself for her groom.  And that is what Jesus expects us to be doing now.  Preparing ourselves for our groom.

He has made the offer of marriage.  We have accepted His proposal and He has given us His ‘engagement ring’ so to speak — the Holy Spirit.  Now we who are sealed with the Holy Spirit of His promise must prepare ourselves as we eagerly await His coming.

So how does the soon-to-be bride of Christ prepare herself?  Look again at 2 Timothy 2:5 —  if you are in a race, you have to run that race according to the rules of the race.  So, too, must the bride of Christ run the race set before her according to the rules Christ has already given her in the Holy Scriptures.  It isn’t always easy.  In fact, sometimes it is downright hard to make our will conform to His Word.  It is, however, ALWAYS rewarding.

I have heard some people say they are on the ‘grace’ plan.  They can’t (translate that to won’t) do everything Christ has said so they are just believing they are saved by grace and can live any way they choose.  The fact is, we are ALL saved by grace.  Yet we who belong to Christ are commanded to live our lives in a way that honors and glorifies GOD, not ourselves.  And we do it to obtain a crown –2 Timothy 2:5 – “… if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.”

Beloved, Jesus Christ is coming in the clouds very soon to call His bride unto Himself.  He won’t waste time coming all the way to earth.  He is simply going to gather those who truly belong to Him to come to the wedding feast He is preparing.  And there we shall ever be with Him.  So let me encourage you today to live for Christ.  Obey His command to love God with all your heart and all your mind and all your strength, and to love everyone else as much and in the same manner as you love yourself.  Forgive.  Encourage.  Give of your time, treasure and talents to build the Kingdom of God.

REVELATION 22:20  …Surely I come quickly.

Catch-22

Ever been there?  Caught in a situation where every escape route leads you back to the same problem?  That’s where I am this morning.

                In August of last year – 11 months ago – I purchased three event tickets for my son’s birthday.  These were not cheap tickets and the event was almost six months past his birthday, but the group is so popular I had to buy them that far in advance.  Then the virus lockdown struck.

I received a nice email stating that the event was postponed and I would be notified when it would be rescheduled.  That is still, six months later, the position of the event holder.  However, given the time passed (almost a year) they are also offering me the option of a full refund.  How nice!

                Well, here is where the struggle begins.  The credit card I used to charge the tickets is no longer valid.  I closed that account about three months ago.  It isn’t affiliated with my personal bank so my ties to that institution are no longer in place.  And, of course, the ticket vendor will only refund my purchase price to the original purchase method – to the original CARD used to purchase the tickets.  Here we go. . . .

Fortunately for me, I was SMART when I purchased those tickets, because they were so expensive.  I purchased cancellation insurance!  Woohoo!

                I searched through my email and found the policy, clicking on the ‘file a claim’ link.  Churn, churn, churn…..and then there it was in front of me, taking up the entire screen:  NOTICE:  WE DO NOT HONOR CLAIMS THAT ARE A RESULT OF THE COVID-19 VIRUS.

                So here I am, once again low man on the totem pole, supporting not only the popular group but also the event organizer, ticket vendor, and the ticket cancellation insurance company.

I have seen this so many times in my life but never so much as during this virus.  Everyone tells me ‘big government’ is footing the bill.  Not so.  You and I are footing the bill.  Beginning with situations such as I just described and ending with the tax bill that is waiting for us around the corner.  Big business will escape as they simply won’t pay their vendors and subcontractors (who will go under).  The little business guy in your neighborhood? – he is hurting and probably won’t survive.  And people like me?  We do without.  Not that I will starve (I have family and church family that will see to that) – but the funds that have been stolen – that’s right, STOLEN – from my hands and yours will never be returned to us.  The money I saved to give my son a really good present on a very special birthday is forever gone.  Consequently, we will adjust our spending habits, tighten our belts, reduce our expenditures wherever we can, and continue to be the supporting structure for the rest of the country. 

So what is the point of this rant?  It is to say “be kind”.  Be kind to one another and be generous of spirit, and if you are able, of wallet, in these unprecedented times.  Recognize that everyone you meet is in some sort of struggle.  We’ve lost friends, loved ones, jobs, homes, families and hope. 

                It is time to love one another with all that we have within us because there is no guarantee that the face you are staring at today will be here tomorrow.  LOVE like there is no tomorrow.  FORGIVE like it is your last day on earth.  And LET GO of all of the things you can’t control.  It isn’t worth holding on to.

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Rapture

“Rapture” is not a word found in the Holy Scriptures, but the concept is there in many verses.  Merriam-Webster defines it as:

 1 : an expression or manifestation of ecstasy or passion

2a : a state or experience of being carried away by overwhelming emotion

2b : a mystical experience in which the spirit is exalted to a knowledge of divine things 

3 often capitalized : the final assumption of Christians into heaven during the end-time according to Christian theology.

This isn’t a theological discussion but I did want to point out a couple of things.  Bible verses that speak to the concept of the Rapture are numerous.  Some of the most often quoted are:

1 Thessalonians 4:16   For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 

1 Thessalonians 4:17  Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. 

Matthew 24:37  For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 

Mark 13:32  But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 

Matthew 24:40  Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 

Luke 17:34  I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left.

Really, I didn’t want to get into a theological discussion but rather just wanted to give a quick explanation of what the Rapture is and to whom it pertains.  Basically, it is a day that is coming very soon in which Jesus Christ will come in the clouds and call all believers to Himself.  We will meet Him in the air and go to live with Him for all eternity.  But why is this event even happening?

To understand we have to look at the entire picture.  Throughout the Scriptures, Christ is referred to as the bridegroom and believers as the bride.  A quick look at Hebrew customs of the first century explains not only why the Rapture but also those events that happen to believers prior to the Rapture.

In the first century when a man wanted to marry a woman he made the offer of marriage.  For every person on earth this correlates to the offer of salvation that has been made.  If the woman accepts the offer of marriage then the bridegroom sends a gift or token to seal the betrothal.  Every person who accepts Christ’s offer of salvation receives the “seal” of the Holy Spirit.  The next step in the ancient romance is the bridegroom coming to the bride’s house to get her and take her to his home for the wedding feast.  This, then, is the correlation to the Rapture.  Believers are awaiting the arrival of the Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, to take them to His home for the marriage supper of the Lamb.  And we are excited!  Because we see the signs as described prophetically in the Scriptures.  These signs of His soon return for His bride are very evident all around us.  They don’t give us an exact date, but they do make it clear it will be soon!

The Rapture is NOT the second coming of Christ.  During the Rapture Christ will remain in the clouds.  At His second coming He will come completely down to the earth.  There are many studies available to explain both occurrences, and if you read through some of them you will discover that some theologians disagree as to the exact timing of the Rapture in relation to the Second Coming.  That is irrelevant as far as I am concerned, and all believers agree that there will be a Rapture and there will be a Second Coming.

But what about all those people who did not accept Christ’s invitation?  All those who are “left behind”?  Well, there are many movies about those events and if you have not accepted Christ’s invitation then I recommend you watch a couple of them.

What I can tell you is that the deception that will be told to all those who are left behind is already circulating.  There is a ‘New Age’ prophecy which claims there is a massive solar flare coming which will affect all human beings and catapult them forward to a new level of consciousness/development.  Of course, according to the lie, not everyone will be suitable for this new enlightened age and they will simply disappear – consumed by the solar flare!  A variation on this theme says that just prior to the solar flare our ancient ‘ancestor’, ancient aliens, will return and they will remove those who ‘don’t belong’ to the new enlightened age at the time of the solar flare.

Please know that the devil is a liar and the father of lies.  He is already spreading his lies so that when the Rapture happens, those who are left behind will be controllable with the lie that they are ‘superior’ in some way.  Rest assured – there is not one good human on earth.  Jesus said there is none good, no, not one, except God.

Now is the time.  Today is your day.  Make your choice.  Eternity is just around the corner, and we will ALL have an eternal home.  We simply have to choose – with God or without.  Your choice.

JOSHUA 24:15   … choose this day whom you will serve….

Whited Sephulchre

Virus lockdown means one thing to me – RENOVATE!   I have cleaned out closets, attic, drawers, and cupboards.  The Salvation Army has gained significant amounts of clothing and household goods from my coffers.  I have emptied, scrubbed, folded, spindled, mutilated, and rearranged virtually every room in the house.  What’s left?

You had to ask!  I had a brainstorm!  I have a room, which used to house the furnace but now only contains the water heater and some air ducts.  About half of the room is empty, wasted space, but it is unsightly and I keep the door closed on it all of the time.  Besides, the water heater generates some heat and I don’t want that in the house during these hot summer months.  Unfortunately, it is the last frontier!

I got a vision of the room as it could be and began shopping online – flooring, crown moulding, paint, room divider, bench and shoe cubby, pictures, hooks – a mud room in the making!  Excited that I had a new project, I waited for the necessary items to arrive (I am on VERY friendly terms with the delivery drivers in my area 🙂  )

First, of course, was paint.  I had no idea the walls would absorb as much paint as they did.  Or maybe the paint was to blame….  Needless to say, I ran out and had to get a different can for the last wall.  Exact same shade.  Unfortunately, not the same finish, which I did not discover until I used a brush full to touch up one of the other walls.  Surprise!  Ugh.  I’m too old for this.

Next came the flooring – only because the other stuff hadn’t arrived yet.  I had purchased this new peel-and-stick vinyl planking.  Instructions said to make sure the surface was clean and free of dust and dirt.  So I scrubbed the floor (1990’s vinyl) and finished by wiping it all down with alcohol.  Next step: installation!  This should be a breeze. And it would have been, if I could hold the razor knife straight!  Apparently I do not know how to measure and calculate properly because I had plenty of extra pieces. (Thank you, Lord!)

Flooring down!  I must say it is beautiful.  Oops.  It needs a threshold.  There wasn’t one before, but now there is a slight lift as you walk into the room so a threshold is needed.  Online I go!  I found just what I wanted, but not before I saw the perfect pergola for my back deck.  (I do hope this credit card is not maxed out.)

While I waited for other items to arrive, I installed a coat rack on one wall, below which I would place the bench (if it ever gets here).  Waiting, waiting….threshold is here!  Wait! Is that the pergola laying in the driveway?  Ugh!

Now, installing a threshold is a very simple matter.  Measure.  (Uh, we have already determined this is not my strong suit)  Cut the threshold to the proper length.  Stain to the proper color.  Install.  Nothing to it.  Except…..why won’t it slide into the doorway?  Because some nincompoop hammered shims under the door frame to level it.  An hour and three chisels and two hammers later, I am on my way to the emergency room.  (Sigh)

The room itself is finished.  The walls and trim are beautiful (except for one spot on the first wall …maybe my coat will cover that).  The flooring is gorgeous and so, if I may brag a bit, is the threshold.  The bench and room divider arrive tomorrow, and then I will have a completed mudroom.

I feel quite accomplished.  Yet even as I worked on the room, I was reminded of a scripture verse:

Matthew 23:27

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”

I have taken a room that was essentially useless, and turned it into usable space simply by covering over the ugly that was there (and still is, underneath).  The analogy to so many who claim to be Christians doesn’t escape me.  They clean up pretty nice on (some) Sunday mornings, but the rest of the time it is impossible to distinguish them from those who do not profess the name of Christ.  Whited sepulchres, full of dead men’s bones.  Putting on a good show but inside, in deep trouble.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.   2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

These verses describe those who are lost; those who are not believers; and then these verses admonish believers to stay away from them.  But how do we do that when they are coming into our sanctuaries on some Sunday mornings?  I think we have to remind ourselves that we are in the last days.  The time is short, and Christ is coming back to claim His bride and take her back to His home for the marriage supper.  Every person we encounter is in one of two states:  either they are headed to heaven, or they are headed to hell.  We have to remember that we may be the last light they encounter before they step into eternity.  And we have to make that light shine so bright that they turn away from the darkness.  So, dearly beloved, be the light.  Be Jesus in a real world.

John 15:12

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”