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Archive for June, 2012

To Stella

“[Lord] You will do everything you have promised; Lord, your love is eternal. Complete the work that you have begun.”        Psalm 138:8 GNT

A young woman slips into prostitution, a slippery funnel from which there seems no escape. She is trafficked by pimps and forced to lose her true self in order to survive. But one day, God delivers her. He provides a way of escape and starts to strengthen her voice. so she can speak out  about what happened to her – to encourage others who are still trapped in that deep pit.

Then she discovers an ugly reality of life – even though she is free from her life as a sex slave now, her enemies still attack her. They try to cut out her voice with threats and fear, just as they held her in submission with threats and fear for so long.

To you , my friend Stella, I dedicate this blog this  morning. Even though I faced abuse as a child, I cannot begin to understand the pain and shame you have endured.  But I do know God rescued you from it and is working to strengthen your voice so you can help others. I am standing with you and praying for you.

God, fulfill your promises to Stella.  Complete the healing work you have begun in her, strengthen her voice  and  put a hedge of angels around her for protection as she speaks out against this evil at work in your world. Amen.

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“The Lord isn’t slow about keeping his promises, as some people think he is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost.”        2 Peter 3:9 CEV

We all have the same 24 hours per day.

But when I was a child, summer vacation seemed to stretch endlessly in front of me. There was plenty of time to do everything I wanted to do and time left over to be bored.

Now, it seems like the days fly by and I can barely get everything done. I find myself making lists to prioritize the daily tasks so I’m sure to accomplish  the most important things. Usually there is a “seed list” of left over things to start the day tomorrow!

Take this week for instance. It’s crunch week to get everything ready for the community’s Cancer Carnival coming up on Saturday. I signed up to be a vendor with things to sell for my church, give-aways to advertise the community’s Christian Women’s group, and my own items to sell including my books. I had to put writing time on hold for the next in my series of novels while I put last-minute touches on the craft items, pack everything up and make my booth signs. It feels like I’m not getting anything done when I see the dust bunnies scampering across the kitchen floor, but really I am – they’re just different things from my normal routine.

All I know is that time seems to be moving so fast, I wonder if I’ll get all the necessary things done, even if I prioritize my list.

As I  look around at the things happening in today’s world, it feels a lot like “crunch time.” Even though I’ve heard that “Jesus is coming soon” since I was a girl (many years ago), it seemed like it would never happen. Time moved slowly enough that  I still felt like I had my whole life ahead of me to grow up, get married and have children of my own before all the prophecies about his second coming were fulfilled.

Not so now. Things are happening fast and furious in the prophetic world and I have an urgency to pray for, write and share God’s good news with those around me. And I’m not the only one feeling this way. Others I know are saying the same thing. God’s been patient a long time – but things are speeding up – He is coming soon!

Father help me to focus on you so I can accomplish all you have for me in these days ahead as we wait for your soon return. Amen.

 

 

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And all the people were trying to touch Him, for power was coming from Him and healing them all. – Luke 6:19

Imagine the scene: A celebrity is coming to your town. Everyone gathers at the place of his expected arrival to see him. He steps out of the limo and people edge closer to the barriers, hoping for a glimpse at him, hoping to  touch him or receive a recognition from him. It’s almost as if some of his fame, his money or his greatness will rub off on them if they can just get close enough…

In spite of all the fans, all the crowds that press close to  touch him, a celebrity leads a pretty lonely life. There are few people he can trust enough to let into his intimate inner circle. Who can he tell his deepest feelings to without fear of seeing a best-seller on the stands in 6 months proclaiming all those secrets to the world? Who will still remain close to him when the media recognition fades and he isn’t a public icon anymore?

Things haven’t changed much in the 2000 years since Jesus walked the earth. He was a celebrity of the day – a great teacher who traveled the countryside expounding on the scriptures, healing and feeding people. Word of mouth preceded him so that when he arrived in a town, crowds gathered around him, calling out to him and pressing in to get as close as possible to this great man.

But the problem was that many people only sought him for what they could receive from him.They wanted to feel Christ’s power, to see his miracles first-hand – maybe eve to receive one for themselves. If he was the Messiah, he could deliver them from the tyranny of Rome and set up his kingdom here on earth. And if they could just get close enough to him, they could have a piece of the power, wealth and prestige of his kingdom.

They didn’t care about building a  deep and lasting relationship with him. We know that because the minute the tide of public opinion turned on Christ, all but his closest followers vanished.

God created us with a need for intimacy – especially intimacy with him, to enjoy his presence forever and to glorify him. He wants us to know his power and to see his glory. But more than that he wants us to know his loving heart, to know his ways and not just his acts.

Father, help me to seek your very heart each day, deeply and intimately,  creating such a solid bond between us that even the hard times cannot  shake my love for you.

 

 

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“Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed. They will soar on wings like eagles. They will run and won’t become weary. They will walk and won’t grow tired.”        Isaiah 40:31 GW

How did you sleep last night?

Ever since we were children, we’ve been told how important it is to get our 8 hours of sleep. Scientists have learned that too little sleep can affect how our bodies function, but what exactly does sleep do?

We all know that lack of  sleep can leave us cranky the next day. But when that lack becomes a chronic problem, it can lead to  depression or anxiety. No wonder  moms of newborns suffer from post-partum depression!

As we sleep our bodies produce extra protein molecules which strengthen our immune systems to fight the onslaught of  cell damaging irritants we face each day like pollutants or bacteria.  Proper rest reduces stress and inflammation which are major causes of heart problems.

But did you know that sleep is a great diet aid? It allows the body the time it needs to regulate the hormones that control appetite and the rate at which our bodies  process glucose. People who sleep less than 5 hours per night may have an increased risk for developing diabetes according to some sleep studies.

And this bit of research was totally new to me: We need a good, restful night’s sleep to help our memories and cognitive functions. For example, if you  learn a new or complicated task during the day, you need a good night’s sleep to process and remember what you learned. Also, you will probably have difficulty learning new things if you sleep poorly the night before. That doesn’t bode well for students burning the midnight oil or cramming for tests.

Spiritually speaking, as we “wait with hope in the Lord,” it’s a lot like getting a good night’s sleep.  It’s definitely not wasted time. During this spiritual waiting or “sleep”  time, our trust muscles are strengthened; our spiritual immune systems  are being renewed and restored with God’s word and prayer for the difficult days ahead. It’s also a time to explore in-depth the relationship we share with Christ.

Help me Lord to wait with hope in you – to bask in your presence so I can  rise up refreshed and renewed to meet the stresses and challenges of each new day. Amen!

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“In heaven and on earth. There are no secret places where you can hide from me.”        Jeremiah 23:24 CEV

“Peek-a-boo!”

The infant giggle of my eight-month-old granddaughter, Lily, melts my heart and I play the hiding game again. Popping just out of sight behind a newspaper, then popping back into her line of vision, her giggle erupts again and again.

To some it’s just a cute baby game, but in reality, it’s an important developmental milestone for an infant  called object permanence – the idea that even though they can’t see an object, it’s still there. It’s a basic building block of memory and trust for a child to learn that even if mommy goes out of the room, she’ll be back.

New Christians (and even some of us older ones!) go through a similar stage in our spiritual development as we learn to trust our heavenly Father. It’s that feeling we get when  we pray and our prayers don’t seem to be reaching him. Or when we’re going through a difficult experience and we lose sight of him in the crisis. We feel like God’s just not there, even though his word assures us of his constant vigilant presence.

But it also works another way – when we try to hide secret thoughts, actions or attitudes from our heavenly Father. We seem to think that  because we don’t voice those thoughts, burying them in the depths of our hearts,  that God can’t see them and he’ll forget they’re present in our lives.

Silly us! Not only is God always watching, his light illuminates the darkest parts of our hidden hearts, exposing the very things we seek to hide from him because of shame or fear of retribution.

Father, help  me to live secure in the knowledge that you are always there and strengthen my trust muscles so that I can live openly and honestly before you, without covering up. Amen.

 

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“ADONAI will guard you against all harm; he will guard your life.  ADONAI will guard your coming and going from now on and forever.”        Psalm 121:7-8 CJB

If you had to evacuate your home quickly because of an impending disaster, what would you take with you?

Of course, it would depend on the amount of time you had to get out, but for most people it’s a no-brainer. they would take those who mean the most to them – their family members. Then if there were time, they might try to take important papers or things like photos with great sentimental value which couldn’t be replaced.

Everyone would probably have a different list of priorities, but one thing would be the same – the things they would try to take with them would be the things they value most because of their relationship, their cost, their usefulness or the memories they hold.

God (Adonai – interpreted as master, owner, or father) guards those things which he values highly as well. Whether we accept it or not, we are of great value to God. He paid an extremely expensive price to redeem our  souls. It just makes sense to trust him to guard our hearts, our lives and our daily walk.

AMEN!

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Living in the Most High’s shelter,     camping in the Almighty’s shade, I say to the Lord, “You are my refuge, my stronghold!     You are my God—the one I trust!”  Psalm 91:1-2 CEB

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N. 

When my children were small, that word meant work – and becoming a nomad of sorts for a week.  A family campout was a no-brainer since it was much less expensive to sleep on the ground in a tent and cook our own meals than to stay in a hotel and eat out for every meal. So we packed up the car with the tent, outdoor cooking equipment, sleeping bags and all the paraphernalia needed and headed down the road to adventure.

But all that extra work and planning was worth it! Looking back,  I can smile at the time we  visited the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and spent the first half of our trip in the laundromat drying out from the rain. Or the trip when our five-year-old middle daughter wanted to know what language they spoke in NY as we crossed the border from Pennsylvania to a state she had never before visited.

So many happy snapshot memories flood my mind of trips to theme parks, castles and campgrounds. I can still smell the aroma of bacon frying in a pan on an outdoor grill, feel the cooling shaded of tall pines, and the warmth of an evening campfire.

As I remembered our family times this morning, I began to wonder what it was like for the Israelites as they camped in the wilderness. I’m sure they didn’t have lovely shaded campsites with electrical and water hookups. LOL!

But they did have a campfire by night and a cooling shade by day as their God travelled with them. They literally got to camp under God’s shade cloud, protecting them from the heat of the wilderness sun.  The huge nightly bonfire  of his presence kept wild animals away as well as providing warmth and light. Awesome!

Much like our family trips cemented relationships between us as a family, their experiences on this epic journey taught them to trust their God and to take refuge in their growing relationship with him, On a personal level, I can see many similarities between their travels and my own life journey as I learn to camp under the shadow of God, learning to trust him and rely on his protection.

Thank you Lord for cementing my family together in love through those camping trips. Thank you for cementing my relationship with you during those life experiences when I needed to camp out in your presence, learning to trust and rely on you! Amen.

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