Friday, September 28, 2012

A Straying Heart

The past speaks to us in a thousand voices, warning and comforting, animating and stirring to action. 

Close that door! You'd think you were born in a barn, the way you leave that door open all the time.

Here,'s OK.

Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me... and that thou biddest me come to thee, oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come. sickness and in health, for richer or poorer...til death do us part.

I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.

Recognize the voices? 

In the last post we shared ways past voices help our minds find rest and peace. Scripture stored to memory or called to mind, quiets and comforts in the middle of the night. Scripture spoken can convict and stir to action. His Word is the air we breathe. The past still speaks.

I'm finding treasure in a study of Hebrews with a committed group of  women every Monday night.  The first few chapters get two points across very clearly-- 
--Jesus is Greater!  than angels, than man, than Moses, than any other high priest...
--Be careful!  not to let the truth slip away, to keep a firm grip on our confidence in the hope in Christ, to not be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, to make sure we enter into God's rest and not fail to enter because of the unbelief and disobedience the Israelites had

When God describes his displeasure with Israel he points out that they "always err and are led astray in their hearts, and they have not perceived or recognized My ways and become progressively better and more experimentally and intimately acquainted with them.". Ch 3, V. 10  AMP

I want to become progressively better...and more intimately acquainted with His ways. BUT.

Reasons Why I Might Thwart That Intimacy
--let me finish this project first because I have so many things to get done the (Mary vs. Martha argument)
--I never stopped to meditate or think about His ways this morning; the TV show was too interesting
--I meant to read that devotional online, but the 'just a little peek' at my emails turned into a maze of clicks and 'likes' and I ran out of time 
--I started reading the Bible, but my to-do list kind of took over and my mind wandered
--This one is hard to admit, but someone in another church class I'm in said it, out LOUD. In front of everyone there. We were talking about how the gospel changes everything in our lives and the power that is in the basic scriptures of salvation and the truth of forgiveness.  He said that he had read those so often and they were so familiar to him that sometimes he realizes that the new thoughts or methods he's heard, about how to deal with issues like unforgiveness or resolving conflicts hold more weight than the simple Words of Life. And I felt convicted right along with him. 

I've read the Bible so often, I think I know what it has to say. I might get sloppy in my attitude and not ask, seek and knock as much as I did at one time. Compound that with the many distractions of life, and the voices of the present and I may be letting the desire to know him better slip away. One. Relaxed. Muscle. At. A. Time. Picture that book you're reading in bed and its slow but sure descent to the floor as your finger muscles totally surrender to the sleep that renders them powerless.

I tell this to the One who wants to experience intimacy with me. I ask for His grace to draw me back to His love that is better than life. I ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation to know him better, that the eyes of my heart be enlightened that I may know the hope to which he's called me and the incomparably great power for us who believe. I ask Him to woo me closer.

And I embrace the blessing of studying the book of Hebrews with others who infect me with their passion to know him, or share something they've discovered that I never saw before. I need my sisters in Christ.

I couldn't resist. Hope this brings some lightheartedness your way today:
A husband and wife are fighting about who has to make coffee in the morning. 
The wife says "You wake up before me you should do it." The husband says 
"It's part of the cooking so it's your responsibility." "No." the wife says. 
"It's in the bible that the man makes coffee." The husband says "Prove it." 
The wife goes and gets the bible and sure enough there it is.."HEBREWS"

Sunday, September 23, 2012

No Matter the Circumstances

It's been one of those weeks where some things were excitingly awesome, others sad, some puzzling and the pieces were all wrapped up in a bundle of busyness. With two nights of the week committed to church obligations, the evenings in between are preserved for personal maintenance of the routines of life,  like doing dishes, exercising, picking the last green bean from the garden, planning the next grocery trip and squeezing in a bit of Facebook and Scrabble online.

My heart sang with the long awaited announcement that my youngest son had landed a job in his field of study. I'll miss the complimentary packages of coffee from his Starbuck's job, just a little, but what a blessing to see our prayers answered and his career launched.  I wish you the best, Austin!

A whirlwind trip to Chicago two night ago allowed us to see another son who was vacationing there for the weekend. We soaked in the big city sites and sounds as well as her rainy weather, savoring every second of the three short hours we had  together. Cell phones with texting, face time and voice chats can't compare to the feel of arms around necks and walking side by side.  

I was proud of my husband last night as he helped host his high school class reunion.  Even the spouses seemed to have a good time. His many hours of planning paid off and he had fun in the process, catching up with the other committee  members.

Sad news came to a friend this week when a parent's cancer reappeared. Political discussions left me melancholy and longing  for a country where truth matters and honor to all is upheld. The last day of summer came and went and I reluctantly pushed my toes into socks they had said good bye to several months ago.

Waking out of sleep a few nights, in the darkness, with unpleasant emotions was unexpected and irritating. What surprise attacker would sabotage my security and leave me with feelings of doubt, condemnation and fear? All I wanted was to return to a restful mind, slower heartbeat and and the relief of sleep. Wielding divine weapons that demolish strongholds, arguments and pretensions against the knowledge of God, I fought to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. A sword fighting practice session earlier in the week had me ready with fresh Words of ammunition. "Because he himself [Jesus] suffered when he was tempted he is able to help those who are being tempted." Heb. 2:18. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet was without sin.  Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Heb. 4:15 & 16  It may take longer than I'd like to see the foes retreat, but they do because He is faithful.

I may not be any closer to understanding the whys of such skirmishes but experience with repeated victories has given me confidence in my arsenal's trustworthiness and my Commander in Chief. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer and to know He is always on watch with me! He wants to give me rest as much as I want rest.

This morning I ate up encouragement from Psalms 16.

" I will praise the Lord , who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure."  That unruly mind, those racing heartbeats, the restless limbs may be a little slow in following the example of heart and tongue, but the body will also return to rest. Secure.

Can anyone else relate to the matter of circumstances, the weathering of the day-to-day, maybe changing quickly from hot to cold, sunny to rainy or stormy to calm? What Words are you practicing up on for the next battle? What's your trust level like with the Commander? Are you sharing all of life with Jesus, the One who understands the joys and the sorrows? The One who promises rest?

Have a great week! Our God lives!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Aprons and Helicopters

   There was one phone. At the end of the hall.
   Parents called once weekly. Talk was short, every minute
   metered. "Goodbye, don't want to run the phone bill up".
   Mom mailed letters regularly. Me, not so much.
                                   College was spelled F-r-e-e-d-o-m.

We mentioned them in our staff meeting today.
Like helicopters they hover close. Texts often, phone
in hand. Calls to check in with student. Calls home
for help with research. In our building, we want college to be
                                    spelled Databases and Librarians.

Why the change? What does it mean?
Have Apron Strings been replaced by Air Currents? Or    
Micro Waves?
Or are family more connected now because they can be?

I don't know. But I like how my Abba wants connection
with me. He will never leave me. He's closer than a micro wave.
He answers my calls. We are on the same cell plan. He made an
eternal payment, so I never have to. His text messages are Words
to live by.  Skyping isn't an option yet. His camera pixels have
resolutions beyond what I can compute. But we will have face
time in the future.

Poor connections happen. Like when I roam too far.
Or don't check my messages. We get cut off
when I allow my battery to die and I haven't plugged in
to His power source. It could be static and interference
have gotten in the way and I just need to move
to get better reception.

Technology spells close, fast contact with family.
Abba has always been close to his own. Even when we
power down our hearts or choose a different  provider source,
he is still there and will take us back on his plan when we ask.

Someone recently put it this way. He lets us walk off and go our own way.
When we realize our wandering has left us bereft and lost
we may fear his condemnation and feel far away from Him.
But when we turn to go back, we find he has closely followed
us there and we collide with Him, enfolded in an embrace of
grace and mercy.

He loves me.  He loves you.  This Abba.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

You've Never Been Where?

The Chief Rules! 
Jill, Elle and Me

Here you'll find your favorite flavors, an outdoor seat, if you're lucky enough to find an empty table, 

and the satisfying taste lingering in your mouth and mind a long time...

I was getting ready for work as usual; dabbing a bit of concealer on those facial blemishes I try to hide, while mentally arranging clothing pieces for my outfit that day. At the same time my brain was checking off all kinds of lists of the must-dos for the day and, in addition, I was  listening lightly to the radio station I had switched on as part of my morning routine.

The radio hosts were asking for callers to tell them what places listeners had never visited, even though the destinations were in the callers' home area and favorite places to frequent. I recognized a caller's voice and stopped the multi-tasking to listen harder.  My son-in-law, AJ, was admitting he had never been to The Chief, a very popular and yummy ice-cream shop in town. I had heard him mention this before, but this time I was determined to make his wish come true. I sent him a text right then (don't you love this instant connection?) and asked him to choose a night that week to meet us there with his family.

Monday night found us licking, slurping and dribbling sweetness at the best ice-cream shop in Indiana (truth!! according to a recently published survey).AJ wasn't disappointed with his peanut butter, chocolate shake, the grand kids were cute with their sticky color- streaked faces and we all enjoyed those moments of summer togetherness.

Sometime later I entertained the question of whether I was just as eager to introduce people to a first time encounter with the chief, Jesus Christ, as I had been to offer a way for AJ to meet The Chief.  I want to be.  I want to pick up on the wishes other make for more sweetness in their lives-- peace, rest, justice, love-- all things that can be wonderfully satisfied in our God, who has been close to them all the time.

Open my eyes and ears to what you hear and see, Father.  May I not miss the cues you send me and may your Love motivate me to share it with others. 

Romans 10:8

New Living Translation (NLT)
In fact, it says,
“The message is very close at hand;
    it is on your lips and in your heart.”
And that message is the very message about faith that we preach:

Acts 17:26-28
New International Version (NIV)
26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.