Floods of Love

Wow…what a day!  Rainy and cool in August!  Water everywhere.  Texas is flooded.  Louisiana is flooded.  North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland under flood watches.  Water, water, everywhere.  And everywhere you look in the news, someone has their own peculiar explanation of why the weather has gone crazy.

Floods.  When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.  (Isaiah 59:19)  The standard that I have seen being lifted up over the last few days is that of compassion and help.  It is a beautiful sight!  Amidst all of the anguish, true love is shining forth.  Breathtaking!

The LORD is always operating, and the way He is operating in the midst of this storm is wonderful.  I love to watch what God is doing, and even more, I love to participate when God is on the move!

Over the last couple of years I’ve had my own flood, of sorts.  Devastation that knocked the wind out of my sails and put me in a tailspin that I was certain would never end.  But GOD!  The enemy had definitely come in like a flood and all I could do was cry out to God.  Sometimes I couldn’t even do that.  Even then, my heart, though broken, sought my LORD.

His response was to lift up a banner of love and protection over me as He began the amazing work of reconstructing what the enemy had torn down.  He started slowly, just letting me know how much I was loved.  Then He began to mend me, piece by piece, until the entire vessel was completely whole.  When that was finished, He started filling me anew with more of His precious Spirit.  So much love, and peace, and joy!

I am now on the backside of the storm.  It isn’t completely over, but it is on its way out, and I dwell in a place of perfect peace.  I want to share that peace with everyone I meet.  I want to share the amazing love I have found.  And I want everyone to have the same sweet friendship with the Savior.

Yet today I sit in my den, watching the rain, baking cakes and lasagna, and trying to figure out why I was created and what it is God wants from me.  I know if I didn’t have a purpose I wouldn’t be here.  I just have to figure out how to go about telling everyone about Jesus in a way that lets them experience His amazing love themselves.

Have I told you lately that He loves you??

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Child’s Play

Did you ever play basketball?  I did, about a million years ago in junior high and high school (which tells you how old I am, because whoever came up with ‘middle school’?)  Today I got to play again.   I was blessed with the presence of my seven year old grandson who absolutely loves sports and basketball in particular.  The weather is cool but clear so off to the school playground we went.  We found a basketball just lying in the grass waiting for us.

“Gram! Look!  There’s a basketball!  Can I…..?”  Of course you can.  He runs to pick it up, eyes dancing, as he asks if he can go over to the court and play.  Certainly.  Then he wants to know if I will come watch him play.  Naturally. . .that’s what gram’s are for!  But when we get the court he looks up at me with those beautiful blue eyes and hesitantly asks “Wanna play with me?”  How could I refuse such a sweet face!

It has been many, MANY years but the rules of the game came back to me quickly.  We modified them a little – after all, I’m almost two feet taller than he is and he is faster than I am (and oh, so much younger!).  Soon we were dribbling (which he does better than I) and shooting baskets, chasing foul balls and laughing in the sunshine.  A school grounds worker wandered by and my grandson shouted out “Wanna play?”, all hesitation gone from his voice in the sheer joy of playing a game he loved.  At one point he taunted me with “Just try and get it, old lady.”  🙂  The game is over – it ended in a tie!  I played pretty well for an ‘old lady’ who hasn’t moved like that in quite some time.  We have had lunch and now we are both engrossed in our separate interests but the pleasure of our morning together is still a glow in my heart.

I am dwelling in the peace that comes from being loved and loving one unconditionally.  It is not unlike the peace I experience daily as I walk with the Lord, and I can’t help but smile.  How often I have asked the Lord “Can I?” and had Him say yes!  So many times I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to accompany me on my treasure hunts and He willing comes along.  But it was only recently that I thought to ask the Lord to come out and play with me, and oh, what a time we had!

Today I played like a child and I felt like a child.  Is it really so simple?

Twelve Days of Christmas Symbols

Christmas symbol: the BELL. Every good shepherd places a  🔔 on each of his flock so that if one should stray or become lost, the shepherd can quickly locate and rescue that endangered one.

Christmas symbol: Lighted village houses. When someone accepts what Jesus did on the cross and asks Him to save them, His Holy Spirit comes into them and He makes that person His home, filling them with His light. JESUS, the light of the world!

Christmas symbol: the color GREEN. As every good Irish lass knows, “green” means eternity. It is predominate at Christmas as a reminder that we are celebrating the moment that Christ stepped out of eternity into the world to make eternity available to all who willingly welcome Him into their hearts.

Christmas symbol: SNOW. Beautiful, white, pure. Just as as fresh snow blankets the earth, covering all that is ugly and dirty and making it pristine and beautiful, so when we welcome Christ into our hearts, He covers all that makes us ugly and dirty with His righteousness. (Rev. 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.)

Christmas symbol: RED — Not just any old red, but the brilliant crimson red of blood that is full of oxygen, full of life! The blood that Jesus shed, that life-giving flow, which covers all of our sin, and makes us – you got it! — WHITE as SNOW!

Christmas symbol: WREATH – We see them everywhere, each one slightly different. Some covered in bows, or filled with pinecones, others lit with lights. Each one is a reminder of a different kind of wreath – one that was turned on its side and used as a crown – a crown of thorns. A reminder of the kind of love that stepped into the world and endured mockery, shame and disgrace – all for us!

Christmas symbol: TINSEL – It shimmers and hangs whimsically upon the tree, catching and reflecting light like a hundred tiny prisms, flowing down the tree like a waterfall on a brilliant, sunny day. If we let our eyes drift upward we will encounter the star perched ignominiously o the tree top – the star that is a remembrance of the one that hung over a stable. And the tinsel – it mirrors the light beams that shown down from the star on that blessed night – beams of light that drew wise men to Him.

Christmas symbol: RIBBON — brightly colored ribbon, all color shades and hues, used to make bows and to wrap presents. Ribbon that looks lovely when made into ornament hangers or gracefully adorning trees and tables, windows and doors. Ribbon — strong, cutting, biting, binding cords, unable to be broken. Ribbon — a reminder of the bonds that held Jesus while Roman soldiers ripped the flesh off of His body with a cat o’ nine tails, leaving ‘ribbons’ of flesh hanging off of His body and exposing the stripes of bone which were His rib cage. Ribbon — a reminder that He became bound so that we could be free, all because He loves us.

Christmas symbol: WRAPPING PAPER – We use it to hide the surprise inside – the gift we have so lovingly selected. The paper is bright and festive, creating decorations out of boxes. Wrapping paper, a subtle but glorious reminder of the priceless gift that lay in a manger; the gift Mary so lovingly wrapped in swaddling clothes. The gift that contained peace between God and man, and good will toward all mankind from the God who created the heavens and the earth. His peace with us….His goodwill toward us – salvation, wrapped in grayish-beige linen.

Christmas symbol: HOPE — Christmas is a season of Hope. You can see it in the faces of children looking up at Santa. It’s in holiday movies about falling in love or the ones about reuniting families. These all sound superficial in light of the birth of Christ, but in reality they mirror what is the true hope of Christmas: that we will be loved; that we will be part of a family; that our most secret dreams will come true. The Christ child came to make the substance of our hopes into possibilities. We accept him and become part of the largest family imaginable and recipient of the greatest love and passion ever to be experienced. HOPE- – because dreams still come true!

Christmas symbol: ORNAMENTS — so beautiful, in every size, shape, color and texture, placed lovingly upon our trees — each one chosen to enhance the beauty of the tree. In Biblical times, a bride was adorned with ornaments, each one chosen to enhance her beauty. And the bridegroom’s chest swelled with pride as he gazed upon his cherished bride, so artfully adorned in jewels and silver and gold. Like the brides of old, when we accept Christ He becomes our bridegroom and he adorns us with ornaments – ornaments of grace: peace, hope, joy and love. Each ornament enhances our beauty in His sight and He gazes lovingly upon His cherished ones so beautifully adorned. And the tree?

Christmas symbol: TREE – I love it when a plan comes together! The tree we have so lovingly and joyfully decorated with ornaments does, indeed, represent the Bride of Christ. “a tree planted by the waters…..”   “the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life” “..the planting of the Lord…”“.. be called trees of righteousness …”   “..and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations …..”   Just as we decorate our tree, so Christ decorates us! And our leaves, our hands, are the healing hands for all nations as we journey far to help, to minister, and to witness to others of His amazing grace. Some are cedars, some are pines, some are firs, but every tree used at Christmas is an evergreen. Why? Because an evergreen tree is always brimming with life. Unlike deciduous trees that appear dead half of the year, the evergreen tree is always displaying its beauty and grace. Merry CHRIST-mas!

Learning to Love

This morning I went on a journey through my memories to all of the different places we lived when I was a child and I made a sobering discovery: my parents were like so many other parents of the day, bigots and isolationists. I remember one town we lived in where the school was not up to their standards so they moved from living in town to living on a small farm in the country. No neighbor children to play with and consequently no new friends. Now I have to confess I do not know what went through my parents’ minds or what discussions they had before the move – they kept all of that to themselves. I only know the end result.

This move was followed by another transfer to a big city. We lived in one part of the community for a couple of years and then moved to another side of the community for a couple of more years before once, again, we moved. Again, I was not privy to the reasons for the move and only have anecdotal evidence and the colored memories of childhood to tell me why.

I can remember being told not to play with certain kids because they weren’t ‘our kind’. I never really knew what ‘our kind’ was because it wasn’t permitted to question my parents so I took it on faith. There were ‘our kind’ of people and ‘not our kind’ of people. I learned that money or the lack thereof was not a determining factor (“you can’t buy class”). I learned that education levels were not a determining factor (“some of the most educated people we know are idiots”). I learned that color of skin was not a determining factor (“you can’t change the color of your skin any more than a leopard can change his spots”). So I learned what were not determining factors, but I never figured out what were determining factors – until today, that is.

Today I went before the Lord to deal with what I believe is a haughty spirit within me. I do not want it and I want it to be gone and if there is pride that needs to be dealt with then I want that dealt with right now – not later when I stand before the Lord. So that’s how I ended up going through all of those memories. The Holy Spirit took me on a journey to my past to show me where some of my haughtiness originated and to help me lay it down. And the journey has led me to a point where I am questioning even the Christian church – because here is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Even within the church I see biases.

When I was a child, our kind of people were 1) Christian; 2) Kind; 3) Quiet and unobtrusive; 4) Family-oriented; 5) Law-abiding; 6) Good citizens – that means obedient to authority; 7) Friendly but not overly so; 8) Erected good fences to keep neighbors as neighbors; 9) Employed; 10) Non-aggressive; 11) Non-threatening; 12) Did not pry into other people’s business; 13) Did not gossip; 14) Were social drinkers but not drunks; 15) Did not beat their children; 16) Did not abuse their spouses; 17) Went to church on Easter and Christmas; 18) Took care of their aging parents; 19) were at least second generation Americans; and on, and on, and on. You get the picture. Anyone or group of persons who did not meet the ‘criteria’ were not ‘our kind’ and thus we were to find other friends.

I confess that I carried these biases into adulthood. I passed some of them on to my children before I became a true child of God. Once I was filled with the love of Christ these biases became dust to me. God loves all people and when His love dwells in us, we do the same. Today, however, with the help of the Holy Spirit I uncovered some biases and very unlovely things that managed to continue in me and have enabled a haughty spirit to continue to operate in my life. I am even now repenting of those things and asking for the Lord to help me overcome them – to redeem my life from pride and haughtiness.

It can be so hard to overcome things that are ingrained in us from childhood – unless we ask the Lord’s help, that is. Having identified this particular problem I know that the Holy Spirit will lead me out of it. I want and need to be able to embrace ALL of God’s children in an open and honest embrace of love. No one is greater than another. No one is more worthy than another. We are all created in God’s image and molded by His hand and our circumstances. It is His will that we overcome our circumstances to become the people He created us to be. So I’m headed out the door to practice what He is teaching me.

Divine Love

I am often amazed at the simplest of things — a butterfly sitting on a flower, a baby discovering colors, sunsets, clouds, the changing colors of fall — and each time, I am also reminded with awe of the masterful Creator of all.

I am not a scholar of the Bible or anything else, for that matter.  Though I hold a Master’s in Theology, all it has really shown me is how little I know about God and how much more I need to know.

For instance, human beings are such finite individuals.  We see time as a linear thing and the circumstances of our lives as either problems to be dealt with or moments to savor.  But GOD . . .

If we could view time and circumstances as God does, I believe we would be looking at innumerable intersecting holograms.  My life-hologram intersecting with your life-hologram, and God able to see all of the intersecting points at one time and able to change them at will if necessary to meet His plans and purposes.  I believe He sees Noah’s hologram while He is looking at yours and mine.  They are all overlaying one another with the ultimate end being His goals, not ours.

Something else I think we fail to understand is that each life-hologram is important to the complete picture.  There are blank spaces where holograms should be, where babies were aborted and their life-hologram was removed.  Could God have stopped the abortions?  Yes, of course, and I believe He tried with each and every one.  We are a stubborn people and we often close our eyes and ears to the things of God, including the nudging of His Holy Spirit to do what is right — to turn away from evil and cruelty.  One thing is certain — God is still God.  He hasn’t changed His mind and He hasn’t forgotten His promises and He isn’t going to force anyone to do anything.  He is a gentleman, and He leaves the forcing to the bullies like satan and his emissaries.  What kind of love does that?

Divine Love.  The kind of love that lets you and I choose what to make of our lives.  The kind of love that moves an intersection point when we have made a choice that is going to take us the long-way-around to our ultimate goal – the goal He has placed in front of us.  So He moves the point and we reach the divine appointment in 15 years instead of 15 days or months because we have stubbornly, blindly, deafly, chosen to pursue our own selfish ends instead of His divine purposes.  Still He loves.

Divine Love.  The kind of love that gives you goosebumps and atta-boys when you finally reach that intersection point.  Sometimes your whole world seems to ’tilt’ for a moment as you once again are on the right track and your life-hologram aligns with His divine plan once more.

Divine Love.  The kind that stays right beside you while you dabble in the occult, watch movies and television shows not fit for anyone, get drunk, gamble, curse your parents or spouse or children, choose yourself over any and everyone else, ignore the lost, broken, widowed and orphaned.  Still He loves.

Divine Love.  The kind that tries to shield you from harm but won’t interfere if you insist on doing things your way.  He holds your hand through it all and still He loves.

Divine Love.  The kind that hung on a cross and poured out every last drop of blood to cover every last sin any of us could ever commit.  Still He loves.

Divine Love.  The kind that lets us enjoy sunsets and sunrises and laughter and love without demanding that we acknowledge who provides it all.  The kind that stays right there with us and enjoys it too!

Praying that as your life intersects with others today you will be more aware of the divine nature of those appointments and more deliberate in your actions and reactions.  Share His love — Divine Love.

John 3:16    For God so loved the world……

 

Good Morning

Good morning! My heart sings good morning even as I face a day with too much scheduled and telephone texting and calls starting EARLY this morning. My heart sings…..how awesome is that! Good morning to sunshine and grasshoppers and falling leaves and disgruntled neighbors. Good morning to dirty laundry and disgusting bathrooms. Good morning wrinkles. Good morning sags. Good morning, good morning, good morning!

Good morning, Lord – my very heart. How you bless me with your presence in my sleep, in my dreams and in my waking! Good morning beloved – how sweet are your songs and the light tingle of your touch. Good morning my friend – precious is your companionship and wise counsel. Good morning my husband – such peace in knowing your protection and provision.

I rejoice this morning not because of anything the Lord has done but because of who He is and who He has become in my life. My heart sings because I know the one who created the song. My smile is wide because I cannot contain such joy or keep it to myself. I am excited because even though my day is filled with chores it is also filled with appointments outside the house that will give me opportunities to let the love, peace and joy overflow into other lives.

Keeping my focus on Him makes the world and its troubles pass away and I am wrapped in the peace that passes all understanding, the joy unspeakable and full of glory, and the love unconditional and full of mercy. What a mighty God we serve!

Even when I am feeling so elated to belong to Him I can’t help but think of those who don’t. I know His heart mourns for those who struggle to put one foot in front of the other; for those who don’t know what true love is; for those who are seeking fulfilment in this life but have yet to turn to Him; for all who are lost in the sea of despair and darkness of sin. And so, because His heart mourns, my heart mourns, even as it rejoices in being His. I sense His pain and sorrow. His tears drop from my eyes.

It isn’t enough to belong to Him – now I must help others find Him. My heart’s cry is for the lost, wounded, hurting victims of abuse in all of its forms. My desire, like His, is to see them all healed. There is nothing I can do to make that happen except to share Him – to introduce them to Him and invite them to let Him be the Great Physician and Wonderful Counselor in their lives just as He has been in mine.

So today as I go about town I am taking His love with me. I pray it will be enough to draw someone else into the fold of His unconditional love.

Isaiah 43:1-4  But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.

The Heart of God

I have found an amazing place – the heart of God! Take a tour with me, won’t you? Follow closely and keep your eyes and ears open. You are about to experience a wonderful adventure.

As we step into this first chamber you will notice on your left a darkened corner. It isn’t totally dark as there is a soft glow, almost like candlelight, lighting the area. In the corner you can just make out the tiny swaddled bundles. There is no sound – no crying or laughing or cooing – other than the quiet soft hushed breathing of little babies. To the right you will see how much brighter this area is and the light is somehow tangible. You can almost reach out and touch the glow as you listen to the laughter that sounds like tinkling bells. There seems to be rain falling and yet it is salty to the touch and the drops seem to sparkle and glisten in the light. When the drops touch your skin they melt away and vanish. Look closely through the light and you can see the corner is filled with pregnant women, all of whom are laughing and crying with joy and anticipation. Straight ahead is the entry into the second chamber. The entry is extremely dark so please watch your step and try to hold on to one another. Here we go……

This chamber is dark so stay next to me, please. I know you can’t see much so focus your attention on your hearing. Soft crying is ebbing and swelling near us. The cries are muffled as if hands or hankies were held over the mouths. Off in the distant corner people are chanting and ranting, demanding their rights and privileges be sustained. In the corner nearest to us is the clink of metal and sounds of cleaning – vacuums and spray bottles and some sort of scrubbing sound. And off to the right, seemingly far below where we stand, is the sound of millions of crying babies. This is the place where God keeps all of the pain and sorrow He holds associated with sin. Stay close and don’t touch anything – we’re going down this passage to the third chamber.

How do you like this place? Isn’t it beautiful? Have you ever seen such vibrant colors? I could stay in this place forever. Listen to that waterfall! Look – right over there – do you see it? Those plants seem to be continually morphing, changing colors and shapes and sizes in an ever-changing display of beauty. Watch out! You have to keep your eyes open and your senses about you in this place. You could have been hit by that flying whatchamacallit. No, I don’t know what it was. I’ve never seen anything like it before but didn’t it look interesting? Way over there on the other side of the waterfall are the living creatures. Really amazing but don’t get too close. Off to the left you can see the oceans and seas all together in one spot and the life that is teeming within them. I bet you’ve never seen the ocean like this before! Now stay together and don’t touch anything! All of those things you see floating around above us are the creative genius yet to be released. This is truly the creation chamber – simply amazing!

Follow me now as we enter into the last chamber. You’re going to want to stay close to me or you’ll have an awful dry-cleaning bill! Watch your step – the floor is wet and sticky and slippery. Well, here we are. The chamber has a metallic smell and has blue walls which are dripping with a sticky red substance. The red substance seems to have a light of its own which makes it easy to see that this chamber is empty except for the liquid. This is the love chamber and the liquid is blood. Nothing else is held in this chamber except for the blood. Watch now – some of the blood is flowing out and covering an individual outside the room. Have you ever seen anything like that? Look at that person – they are completely overjoyed. How happy the blood has made them! I guess when you let it cover you then you experience the love. Awesome.

Follow me now as we leave the chamber. You have seen life, death, creation, and love in the heart of God. This concludes our tour.

1 Cor. 2:9   “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

First Love

1 Corinthians 2:9 “…eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

Oh the wonderful thoughts this verse conjures up in our minds. The thoughts and dreams of great riches, beautiful homes, bountiful harvests, gorgeous days, great honors and glory. We dream of heaven as though we would be living the lifestyle of the rich and famous on this earth. Yet even that pales in comparison to the great riches of the LORD.

Yet I can’t help but wonder if we have ever really looked closely at this verse and read it all the way through, savoring each word and applying it to our lives. For you see, God is not a man and He does not lie. If He says He has prepared wonderful things, then He has. The crux of the matter, of course, lies in the last five words of that verse: “for them that love him.” Here is where the great breakdown begins to occur.

“for them that love him.” I know that every time this verse is read in the church, everyone in the room will smile and say “Amen!” even if it is only to themselves. Every single person sitting in a pew will declare that this verse is theirs by right of inheritance, and that they are due great riches when they get to their ‘final reward’. Yet we must ask ourselves, is that true? We must examine ourselves daily, looking for wrong motives and selfish intentions. We must ask ourselves with each good deed whether we are doing it out of love or out of duty. We must position ourselves under the mighty hand of the LORD for His correction, reproof, and instruction. We must ask ourselves daily: do I love Him?

In Revelation 2:1-4, the LORD makes a pronouncement upon the church at Ephesus. The Ephesians hated sin, and they labored mightily for the LORD’s kingdom, in great patience and without giving up. Yet, the LORD says, He holds something against them: they had left their first love. They had turned their back on the LORD of glory without realizing it, all the while they were doing kingdom work in great patience and perseverance. They hated evil and did not associate with it, yet they had left HIM behind.

Ephesus today stands as a stark reminder of what happens to those who lose their love. It is a barren wasteland – an archeological site where remnants of this long dead civilization are still being uncovered today. There are great pillars and paved streets along with partial walls of buildings and even directions to the nearest brothel carved into the stone pavers. But the city is empty, except for the tourists and archeologists. This once great city of commerce is dead because it left its first love – Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 reads “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Beloved of the LORD, we are all in the same boat together. If we are so busy working at doing, doing, doing, and failing to nurture our love relationship with the LORD, we are wasting our time. There is no reward for doing if that doing is not out of the abundance of our love for Him. In fact, not only is there no reward, but all that effort is wasted because He is just going to burn it all up. It means nothing to Him and is just so much kindling for His fire.

For many years I have been marking time, waiting for the LORD to break through and set me free. He is, as always, faithful, and has broken through this year, setting me free! And now I am anxious for Him to give me an assignment that will bring Him glory and honor. I am careful what I pick up with my hands and what I allow to consume my time, because my love for Him is great and I do not want to be preoccupied doing something else when He softly calls me to a task just for Him. My heart, my life, my love are all His, and His alone. I live for Him alone, and I listen for His voice to guide and instruct where He would have me serve. Beloved, I encourage you, if you have not already found that sweet love for Him, that you begin to pursue Him until you catch Him. It is so wonderful to be in love with the Master!