Posts Tagged ‘God’

The Toad

July 8, 2013

It’s late at night.
I’m walking to the car to go to work for an overnight shift and I spy him: A big, fat,  hoppy, brown toad trying to “run”  from me as fast as a toad can. He hid under our reel mower, thinking I couldn’t see him. I just laughed and continued on my way.

The next morning I came home from work and my older (young adult) son tells me “I have a new pet!” I knew he meant the toad because when I returned the reel mower had been moved several inches. “Where is it?” I asked. “Don’t worry mom, he’s still outside”. I didn’t give it another thought as I went to bed — because working all through the night is exhausting.

After I woke up and gathered my thoughts I decided to go see how my garden is doing (my daily ritual). Out the door I went and over the patio towards the back yard. On my traipse through the patio an active bit of motion caught me from the corner of my eye: Upon investigation I discovered a fat, hoppy, brown toad trying to free his way out of the shallow pool of water at the bottom of the short blue bin on the patio. The bin walls were just a little too tall for him.

Oh dear, that’s MY toad!

I gently caught the little guy, holding him around his “waist”, upright, and away from my body (because I learned a long time ago that these critters will “pee” on you if you don’t!).

My mission was to put him in my garden where he had shelter. And shade. And a nearby water source. And protective places to hide.

In other words, the garden had everything a toad needed to be happy.

I truly didn’t expect that he’d stay there for the remainder of the season, but I still knew it was a much better place for him than that little blue bin. If he chose to leave the garden, that was beyond my control.

In spite of my good intentions he was having none of that human-hand-holding thing as I carried him the fifty-or-so feet it took to get to the garden.
He vigorously wiggled and squirmed;I gripped  him tighter (though gently).
He croaked at me, and I tried to speak to him gently.

He simply didn’t understand that I was taking him from a futile, and possibly dangerous situation, and putting him in a safer, more comfortable, and better place.

I put him under the shelter of the large, shady, zucchini plants and went about tending to my garden. I kept my distance from him, though I also kept my eye on him. He continually turned to watch me in between the times that he wasn’t distracted with the yummy bugs that kept coming in his reach. He was happy, sheltered, and being fed. After I was finished with the garden, I simply left and let him do as he wished.

The next day, as I expected, he was gone. Out of curiosity I did a thorough search for the toad; he was really really gone. Although I knew that would happen, I was a bit disappointed: I put him in a toad’s paradise! Plenty of shelter, shade, food, water, and dirt! WHY didn’t he stay?…..

And that’s when God brought it home to me:
“People are very much the same. I see them in a terrible situation, and I bring them out of it. They vigorously fight me, and I try to speak to them to calm them, but they’re so caught up in their immediate fear and discomfort that they don’t understand me or realize when I’ve placed them in a better situation. And once they get there, many times, instead of seeing what they have, they focus on where they could be, forgetting about where they were and how much improvement I gave them”.

And I said:
“But how can that toad not realize the difference between the bin and the garden? The bin was obviously futile, and he would have eventually drowned! Why, after all that hardship, did he leave the garden??!!”

And it came to me; was it from God, or did He let me figure it out myself? I don’t know, but here it is:
The Toad was in the garden, and he was doing  better there than when he was in that horrible bin. BUT…. after he was in the garden, and after he got used to it,  he saw more:

The outside of the garden.

In his limited mind, he thought that surely the outside of the garden has more bugs, more shelter, more water, and more comfort.

He was focused on what more he could have to enjoy, he didn’t think about the serious dangers that were out there: The neighborhood cats that prowl the night, the coyotes that live in the area, the slithering grass snakes stalking at all hours. He simply couldn’t see those things from his vantage point even though I knew all about those dangers. And I couldn’t protect him from those things because he didn’t see what I saw.

He didn’t understand all the vast things that I understand.
He didn’t understand that I knew dangers that he didn’t.
He only saw what he wanted, and what he thought was better.
And because of that, he left the “safety zone” and ventured out into dangerous territory

And I did not have the authority to control his free will, and so I lost him.

 

Are human relationships with God so much different than that?

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Introspection

May 31, 2013

Recently, our pastor gave a sermon in which he confessed the following:

He believes that everyone who dies deserves to have a funeral. As a result, the local funeral homes call him from time to time to officiate at funerals in which just he and the funeral director are the attendees. He does not want to be judgmental towards anyone because all are sinners, as is he, and he doesn’t feel he has the right to deny a funeral to someone.

But then the Boston Marathon bombing happened.
And it made him seriously think about his stance:
Hypothetically speaking, if he were called to officiate at the bomber’s funeral, could he go through with it?

Obviously, he wasn’t really going to be called to do that particular funeral, but he did have to consider the possibility that someday he may be called on to officiate for someone  heinous. I mean, that dead bomber’s family had a difficult time finding a funeral home who would accept the body, let alone finding an officiator.

Would he have the fortitude to go ahead with such a funeral?

After much consideration, he honestly couldn’t answer that. As much as he believes that all people deserve a funeral, he couldn’t bring himself to give a definite “yes” to that self-imposed question.

And it made me think.

What convictions do I have that might be seriously challenged someday? For example, I don’t believe in the death penalty…. but what if a serial killer murdered my child? Could I stand by my conviction, or would I be clamoring for lethal injection? I really don’t know if I can answer that. On the one hand, the Bible tells us that vengeance belongs to God, but on the other hand, I would feel that the killer deserved death for depriving me of my child.

I also believe that all who have finished their time in prison should be forgiven and given a new lease on life. BUT…. if a pedophile molested my daughter, could I be as forgiving when he finally is released from prison? Again, I’m not sure if I can answer that.

And we all should consider possibilities that can challenge our personal convictions. Although certain situations may seem highly unlikely, there really is no such thing as absolute-impossible. And I don’t think it makes someone a bad person if they cannot stand by their convictions — it just means they need to lean into the Lord’s strong arms and seek His love to get through the crisis.

We are all imperfect people, and we all have challenges that are hard to manage. If you find yourself facing this kind of challenge don’t let it discourage you. God sees everything you’ve gone through, what you feel, and what your situation is. He waits patiently for us to come to Him, and like the loving Father He is, He isn’t going to reject you simply because your convictions are being severely challenged. Although we may fail ourselves, He will never fail you.

If you find your convictions to be twisted inside out, resist the urge to feel like a hypocrite or a failure. Instead, hold tight to Father’s strong hand and let Him lead you through the darkness and into His light.

 

Versical’s Weblog: Christian Poetry to Encourage and Share

July 21, 2012

The following post is courtesy of Versical’s Weblog:

GOD CALLING

It’s been a journey, full of change
You had Your work cut out
Accepting me, just how I was
A sinner full of doubt
But slowly You have done the job
Of stripping down the mask
Today I stand upon the rock
You have fulfilled Your task
Of changing me into the child
That You made me to be
Devoted to Your guiding hand
Which saved a fool like me
From following the world, to death
Defeating satans plan
Through Jesus, I am born again
I’m Your devoted fan.

The writer is a poet who expresses God’s love through words. (We seriously recommend you take a look!)
For his weblog, click here

Enjoy!

Conversations With God

June 22, 2012

You tell God you want to be used in His service.

GOD SAYS: “Really? Okay fine. But this is what I will require of you”… and then He lets you know what He WILL require of you.
YOU SAY: (after much soul-searching and consideration) “Okay God — I am willing to do these things, but I admit I need to rely on Your support to accomplish them.”
GOD SAYS:“Deal! Let’s get it done!”

Ahhh… if only it were that easy.

INSTEAD…. we decide for God what we want to do. Most of the time, this is how it really happens:

HUMAN SAYS: Okay God, I am ready to be used in your service.
GOD SAYS: Really? Okay fine. But this is what I will require of you”… and then He lets you know what He WILL require of you.
HUMAN SAYS: But I don’t want to travel so far away. Can’t I do it closer to home?
GOD SAYS: Closer to home?
HUMAN SAYS: Yeah. Air travel is too much of a nuisance. Too many crowds, too many check-points, too much “stuff” to deal with. Then there’s the foreign countries, foreign languages, foreign laws….will I have to use air travel?
GOD SAYS: Well….I guess I can use you “domestically”.
HUMAN SAYS: Does that still require air travel? There’s still the nuisance of the crowds and check-points and stuff. Oh -and I don’t want long distance bus or train either — it’s too many hours of long travel without doing anything productive. Is there anything else active I can do?
GOD SAYS: “Anything else? Hmmm… I could use a local worker in your province. How about that?”
HUMAN SAYS: “Does that require a car? You know my car is old, and I’m not sure it can take that much travel.”
GOD SAYS: “Hmmm… okay, how about your local community?”
HUMAN SAYS: Okay!
GOD SAYS: Well, there is the homeless shelter…..
HUMAN SAYS:  But homeless people are scary — aren’t most of them criminals, or addicts, or crazy or something? No, I don’t like that.
GOD SAYS: How about the AIDS outreach program?
HUMAN SAYS: People with AIDS are either homosexual or addicts, don’t they deserve the disease? No, I don’t like that one either.
GOD SAYS: Sigh. Okay then, what about the free food place?
HUMAN SAYS: I don’t like to cook. And isn’t it messy slinging slop all day long? No. I don’t think I want that.
GOD SAYS: Okay….so what would you like to do?
HUMAN SAYS: I don’t know, whatever you think I’d be good at.
GOD SAYS: I can make you good at anything.
HUMAN SAYS: You know what I mean! Okay, I’m really good with my hands, what can I do with that?
GOD SAYS: There’s that little church over on Elm Street that needs to install a new wheelchair ramp. You can volunteer to help them.
HUMAN SAYS: But they aren’t even my denomination! Isn’t there something else I can do?
GOD SAYS: They need a repairman at the unwed mother’s shelter across town. You could donate your services there.
HUMAN SAYS: Unwed mothers? I don’t want to tell people I work around a bunch of loose women! What’ll people think?!
GOD SAYS: Well, what about volunteering at the hospital? They could use you for….
HUMAN SAYS:  Stop right there — I hate hospitals, they make me uncomfortable!
GOD SAYS: I thought you said you wanted to be used in my service?
HUMAN SAYS: But I do!
GOD SAYS: You don’t sound like you do.
HUMAN SAYS: Well, if you’d just give me something I’d like….
HUMAN SAYS: God?…. God?…. where’d you go? Was it something I said?….

Too many times we tell God we want to be employed in His service, and then have “reasons” (i.e. EXCUSES) as to why the work isn’t suitable for us. But we need to remember, GOD will make you suitable for the work if you simply accept the assignment. When God told Noah to build the Ark, Noah didn’t complain about the monumental task, instead he trusted that God would enable him to complete it. When God sent Moses to Pharaoh, Moses was unsure of his ability to speak, but God also took care of that.

When we ask to be used in God’s service, God isn’t going to give you a job that you can’t fulfill — He’ll give you whatever you need to fulfill it. And don’t reject an “assignment” because it’s inconvenient, or too long, or too hard, etc. Remember, Jesus’ assignment was rather inconvenient, long, and hard as well. (And if He has rejected it on those grounds, where would we be now??!!).

Nobody ever said that working in God’s service would be a cake-walk, so when you ask Him to use you, you need to be prepared to commit to a task that has challenges as well as the rewards. And, nine times out of then, you’ll find that you actually like the assignment a whole lot more than you thought you would.

Just something to think about.

The Right Denomination?

May 17, 2012

Claims to Christianity comes in many different flavors nowadays. Not only do we have Roman Catholics and Protestants, but we also have Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and a various peppering of cults everywhere. To top it off are the false Christs who seek to draw followers in their own rite. And it doesn’t stop here. Within these “flavors” are sub-flavors. Just as you can have regular vanilla, French vanilla, and vanilla bean, you also have American Baptist, Southern Baptist, and Seventh Day Baptist. You have Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic, and Maronite Catholic. And it goes on and on. Are the Southern Baptists more correct than the Seventh Day Baptists? Are the Anglicans more correct than the Roman Catholics? How can a person be sure that he or she is following the right path when there are so many choices out there?

The simple answer is this: We need to stop looking at faith through human eyes and start viewing it through God’s eyes. As humans, we are painfully aware that we make mistakes — and this can include making mistakes in our worship. As a result, it’s too easy to try and put rules and regulations on our worship in an attempt to lessen the number of mistakes we make in our worship. Although this is a noble effort, it is also what gets in the way of our worship. For example, in the Bible the Pharisees were notorious for piling on rule after rule regarding worship and Godly living. Were they trying to be burdensome? Were they getting too heady on a power trip? Maybe so, maybe not. It is likely that this tendency of theirs came from a deep desire to lead the people as perfectly as possible; and this desire misled them into creating burdensome rules and regulations on the believers. As a result of the over-use of rules, the believers are actually taken further away from God, not closer to Him. For example, because the Pharisees became so legalistic in their rules they lost sight of mercy and love — two qualities that are integral to God (Matthew 9:13,  1 John 4:8). Their strict focus on rules caused them to lose sight of their position in God’s arrangement, resulting in their austere and super-righteous attitude among themselves. That is what happens when groups of believing leaders focus too much on action without balancing it with the Godly qualities of love and mercy.

On the other end of things are the denominations who focus too much on love and mercy and not enough on the containment of sin . These are the ones who support homosexual unions, tolerate the worship of other gods, accept the use of illicit drugs, or even accept members who openly deny Christ . (Yes, there are churches who do these things). They forget that showing love and mercy does not include the acceptance of unbiblical behaviour, it only provides for the forgiveness of such behaviour.

The biggest problem is that we, as imperfect humans saddled with a sinful nature, are going to make mistakes when it comes to worship. We are going to misunderstand Bible passages. We are going to be influenced by our own mistaken opinions. We are going to be more judgmental than we ought to be. No matter how hard we try, we will not achieve perfection in worship; that won’t happen until Christ returns and sets us straight on these things (Zephaniah 3:9). In the meantime, we need to work with what we have. What does that mean?

It means we can’t find the perfect congregation at this time, so we shouldn’t expect to. However, this doesn’t mean we should settle for just anything. Remember, just because a congregation shows wonderful works, and possibly even miracles, doesn’t prove it is a God-oriented group; it is only those who actually try to do the will of God that are the ones approved by God (Matthew 7:21-23).

So the next question is: Who are the one who try to do the will of God? The Bible gives us guidance with this (from the Contemporary English Version):

Matthew 4:10
Jesus answered, “Go away Satan! The Scriptures say: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

Matthew 5:44-47
But I tell you to love your enemies and pray for anyone who mistreats you. Then you will be acting like your Father in heaven. He makes the sun rise on both good and bad people. And he sends rain for the ones who do right and for the ones who do wrong. If you love only those people who love you, will God reward you for that? Even tax collectorslove their friends. If you greet only your friends, what’s so great about that? Don’t even unbelievers do that?

Matthew 22:36-40
“Teacher, what is the most important commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. 38 This is the first and most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like this one. And it is, “Love others as much as you love yourself.” All the Law of Moses and the Books of the Prophets are based on these two commandments.

Luke 16:13
You cannot be the slave of two masters. You will like one more than the other or be more loyal to one than to the other. You cannot serve God and money.

John 4:24
God is Spirit, and those who worship God must be led by the Spirit to worship him according to the truth.

John 13:34-35
 But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you. 35 If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.

1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
God wants you to be holy, so don’t be immoral in matters of sex. Respect and honor your wife.Don’t be a slave of your desires or live like people who don’t know God. You must not cheat any of the Lord’s followers in matters of sex. Remember, we warned you that he punishes everyone who does such things. God didn’t choose you to be filthy, but to be pure. So if you don’t obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22
Always be joyful and never stop praying. Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.Don’t turn away God’s Spirit or ignore prophecies. Put everything to the test. Accept what is good and don’t have anything to do with evil.

Colossians 2:18-23
Don’t be cheated by people who make a show of acting humble and who worship angels. They brag about seeing visions. But it is all nonsense, because their minds are filled with selfish desires. They are no longer part of Christ, who is the head of the whole body. Christ gives the body its strength, and he uses its joints and muscles to hold it together, as it grows by the power of God.You died with Christ. Now the forces of the universe don’t have any power over you. Why do you live as if you had to obey such rules as, “Don’t handle this. Don’t taste that. Don’t touch this.”? After these things are used, they are no longer good for anything. So why be bothered with the rules that humans have made up? Obeying these rules may seem to be the smart thing to do. They appear to make you love God more and to be very humble and to have control over your body. But they don’t really have any power over our desires.

1 Peter 2:13-17
The Lord wants you to obey all human authorities, especially the Emperor, who rules over everyone.You must also obey governors, because they are sent by the Emperor to punish criminals and to praise good citizens. God wants you to silence stupid and ignorant people by doing right. You are free, but still you are God’s servants, and you must not use your freedom as an excuse for doing wrong.Respect everyone and show special love for God’s people. Honor God and respect the Emperor.

James 1: 26-27
If you think you are being religious, but can’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and everything you do is useless. Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil.

James 2:14 – 17
 My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? If you know someone who doesn’t have any clothes or food,you shouldn’t just say, “I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.” What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!

These are good Scripture parameters to start with when seeking a congregation to associate with. And I think it’s important to note that, even though a denomination may have an official statement of beliefs, you cannot  judge the entire collection of congregations under its denominational leadership based on that official statement. For example, in recent years the Presbyterian U.S.A. denomination has officially accepted the ordination of clergy members who are actively participating in gay relationships. Although this is the denomination’s official policy now, there are many individual congregations in the Presbyterian U.S.A. denomination who continue to reject this new policy. The lesson: Take individual congregations on a case-by-case basis rather than official denominational policy.

So, how does one go about discovering which congregation is the best fit? The first place is to start with sincere prayer asking for guidance in the matter. God knows that each person/family has unique needs; therefore, each one will have a unique church “fit”. For example, a young couple with children may fit well with a congregation which has family oriented ministries and activities. In contrast, a single college student may fit better with a congregation whose ministry is focused more on missions or college ministries. In may cases, with the guidance of prayer, a seeker can look online to view various church websites in their areas to get an idea of what their local churches offer. If your local church does not happen to have a website use your phone book to give them a call, find out what they do have to offer. It is also good to review their official doctrines and policies, whether online or on the phone, and find whether the individual church matches your values.

And don’t rush your choices: Continue to pray for guidance. As humans, we tend to “get in the way” of ourselves, and sometimes we hinder God’s guidance without realizing it. This is why it is important to pray continually for guidance, because sometimes we need more time to get past ourselves. If, after prayer and research, you find a church that looks right, try it out. Don’t let emotion guide you, remember to combine it with scriptural guidance (AND prayer!). Be sure that the congregation does its reasonable best to balance Bible teaching with Godly love.

And, again, be forgiving of human error in the process: All congregations are composed of humans, therefore human error will rear its ugly head no matter how hard we try not to let it. This is why you need prayerful guidance from God on these matters.

Of course, we need to beware that we don’t become judgmental towards other denominations: Our disagreement does not give us license to be bitter or hateful towards them. Remember, all humans fall short of God’s perfect standards, thus there will be denominations who have more faults than others (Remember: all have faults). Instead of looking down our noses at them, we should be praying for them and offering the same love that Christ has offered to us. As for the denominations who have false prophets and false Christs, continue to pray for the members who are being misled.  Christ did not give up on us, and likewise we should not give up on them.

May our God and Father continue to help you find peace in His Worship.

Amen

National Day of Prayer

May 3, 2012

Here in the United States the first Thursday in May each year is designated as the National Day of Prayer.

(All Scripture quotes are from the New King James Version, published by Thomas Nelson, Inc.)

 

THE LORD’S PRAYER
Matthew 6:9-13

In this manner, therefore, pray:Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come.Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

CHRIST GLORIFYING GOD
John 12:23-28

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. 27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

PRAYER IN GETHSEMANE
Matthew 26:36

36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. 38 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.

HANNAH’S FIRST PRAYER
1 Samuel 1:9-17

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish. 11 Then she made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” 12 And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. 13 Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14 So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” 15 But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 “Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” 17 Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.”

HANNAH’S SECOND PRAYER
1 Samuel 2: 1-10

And Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, Because I rejoice in Your salvation.“No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.
“Talk no more so very proudly; Let no arrogance come from your mouth, For the Lord is the God of knowledge; And by Him actions are weighed.
“The bows of the mighty men are broken, And those who stumbled are girded with strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, And the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, And she who has many children has become feeble.
“The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up.
He raises the poor from the dust And lifts the beggar from the ash heap, To set them among princes And make them inherit the throne of glory. “For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, And He has set the world upon them.
He will guard the feet of His saints, But the wicked shall be silent in darkness. “For by strength no man shall prevail.
10 The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; From heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. “He will give strength to His king, And exalt the horn of His anointed.”

ELISHA’S PRAYER
2 Kings 6:15-18

15 And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 18 So when the Syrians came down to him, Elisha prayed to the Lord, and said, “Strike this people, I pray, with blindness.” And He struck them with blindness according to the word of Elisha.

ADVICE FROM JAMES
James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

THE LITTLE CHILDREN
Matthew 19:13-15

13 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And He laid His hands on them and departed from there.

HAVING FAITH
Matthew 21:21-23

21 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ it will be done. 22 And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

GLORIA PATRI

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son :
and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be :
world without end. Amen.

DOXOLOGY

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2012

Valentine’s day is fast approaching: Many couples are making plans for a special date night, many children are preparing Valentine cards for their parents, and many loners are buying  Valentine gifts for their pets (yes, I’ve seen this done).

In this season focused on love let’s do something a little different this year: In among your plans for showing your loved ones how much you love them, pencil in some time to devote to God — the greatest love you’ll ever have.  God is Love (1 John 4:8 ), and He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son to save us (John 3:16). It is because of the love of God that you have people you can love. And if you are a loner with nobody nearby, He is faithful enough to still love YOU even when nobody else around does.

Give an hour to God on Valentine’s day. Don’t ask Him for things, simply express your love and appreciation for all He is and all He has done in your life. Sing praises to His greatness, quietly commune with Him, openly thank Him for loving you unconditionally. And of course, invite your spouse, child, parent, friend…anyone, to share with you in this Valentine offering to God. In the midst of all your special planning for your human Valentine, be sure to remember the God who gave you the best love of all.

Happy Valentine’s Day friends!

 

Not Ready To Let Go

December 30, 2011

Today is December 30th.
I’m still hearing Christmas hymns on the radio.
AND I LIKE IT!

Christmas is simply hard to let go of.
I’m not talking about the frenzy of decorating – shopping – wrapping – cookie ing – shopping – visiting – shopping – parties – etc.

I’m talking about the PERFECT part of Christmas.
Remembering a big miracle in such a small child.
Remembering a humble couple grappling with the responsibility of raising the Son of God.
Remembering that we would all remain lost without this event.
Remembering the Perfect Love that decided this should be this way.

Of COURSE we don’t want to let it go! Of course the Christmas hymns linger for another week!  Why would we want to forget that God loves us puny humans THAT much! The greatness of the Love, the process to save everyone, the willingness of Jesus to humiliate Himself for us so readily, just to keep us from being swallowed by Satan’s evil…

For a month or two we have Christmas bombarding our heads each year. And for the week afterwards we wean ourselves off the intensity of the greatness and the wonder. Christmas reminds us of the beginning of our Salvation.

No other holiday in the United States evokes such a feeling of “let down” that needs such a weaning. Think about it:
The media  doesn’t continue to play patriotic songs  on the fifth of July.
Nor does the media care so much about leaving the Thanksgiving holiday behind.
Valentine’s day is forgotten by February 15th (except for the stores steeply discounting their leftover merchandise).
Even Easter is off by the wayside the day after….and how many Easter hymns are recognized by the general public anyway? (And yeah, Easter should be a bigger deal too, but that’s another post for another time)

But CHRISTMAS…That one is definitely a media feast — and I’m not talking about the commercial stuff. Christmas in the United States has the hymns all over the radio for the entire season and then some; even on the non-Christian radio stations. The television stations have Christmas movies all over the place; classics and newbies, all bespeaking the sense of love and miracles that is the common thread in Christmas, even through New Year’s Day. Newspapers feature Christmas stories related to charities, churches, Christ, and children.  Church members practice their lines for Christmas plays, and lawns display Nativity scenes to commemorate the momentous occasion.

And all of these decorations, displays, hymns, and stories don’t stop immediately the day after Christmas.
No.
Instead, they slowly wind down. In truth, we really don’t want to let it go so fast.

And that’s exactly how it should be.

To My Mother:

May 8, 2011

Thank you mom for all the time you took to raise us, all the patience you had to put up with us, and all the wisdom you instilled into us.

Thank you for being the ultimate “domestic engineer”!

We numbered nine of us and yet you still found the time to teach us how to cook, clean, budget our money, and learn about God.

You didn’t let us get away with breaking the rules, but your discipline was always dished out with a healthy dose of love and forgiveness.

When you realized that any of us was developing a hobby you’d support us all the way: Whether it be sitting down to watch a whole game of pro ball with one of the boys or  teaching one of us girls how to sew, we always knew you would let us grow to be our own individual persons.

You’d welcome us home from school on cold winter afternoons with fresh, hot, home made bread and a mug of hot cocoa.

You knew how to make the “bestest!” home made spaghetti sauce in the whole wide world!

You knew how to sew home made clothes with such quality that others always complimented the clothing, asking which store they came from.

And thank you for loving our father through all these years, in spite of his PTSD caused by the war he was drafted into. You stuck through his issues, supported his business endeavors, and loved him as your best friend.

Mom you taught us domestic skills, morality, spirituality, unconditional love and commitment.

Thank you for all of it. You are a major part of who I am today, and I can’t express the appreciation I have for you.

I will always love you.

Mother’s Day

May 8, 2011

Here in the United States, the second Sunday in May is observed as “Mother’s Day”. This year it falls on May 8th, which is tomorrow. Therefore, in honour of this yearly observance I present to you these Biblical passages to remind us of the blessings and respect that God bestowed on the position of motherhood (taken from the King James Version):

Genesis 3:20
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

Genesis 17:16
(God speaking in reference to Sarah, the wife of Abraham) And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations, kings of people shall be of her.

Exodus 21:17
And he that curseth his father, or his mother, shall surely be put to death.

Leviticus 19:3
Ye shall fear every man his mother, and his father, and keep my sabbaths.

Deuteronomy 5:16
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that they days may be prolonged.

Psalms 113:9
He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.

Proverbs 1:8
My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.

Proverbs 20:20
Whoso curseth his father or his mother, his lamp shall be put out in obscure darkness.

Matthew 15:4-6
For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death.

Matthew 19:19
Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Galatians 4:26
But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.

Ephesians 6:2
Honour thy father and thy mother


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