Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pondering Hermit Crabs

Several weeks ago my friend Eileen posted a comment saying that one of her family’s hermit crabs had escaped...without its shell, mind you! 
(I immediately imagined the shell-less creature curled up in a corner dehydrated and, unfortunately, deader than a doornail. Kind of like a spider that has “bit the dust.”) I followed the ongoing saga for several days, but alas, the naked critter was never found. The truth is, hermit crabs, without shells, are extremely vulnerable and they don’t last long.


Which brings me to this morning’s revelation. This is how God most often speaks to me...not when I am expecting it, but sometimes when I least expect it! All of a sudden, in the midst of my early morning, still-dark-outside, quiet time...deep into the Word and pondering His Truths, God reminded me of that hermit crab...naked, alone, exposed and helpless. The revelation was how much we (I) can be like a hermit crab. There you have it. Wasn’t that profound?
Okay, here is the issue...I have issues! Oh, please believe me when I tell you I am working on them and I certainly have a lot fewer than I used to! You see, I am determined to travel this journey of life emotionally and spiritually healthy. That means I am on, what seems like, a never-ending and ongoing process of dealing with “my stuff.” And I’m okay with that-as long as there is progress and as long as He is leading the way. (I know I can’t do this by myself...that’s what lead to the issue of issues to begin with!)
So here is my “hermit crab issue.” I need security. Let me say that again, with more emphasis, “I desperately need security!” I believe this is, most likely, a result of MANY years of living under a spirit of extreme and paralyzing fear. Blessedly, God miraculously delivered me from fear in 1998, but still the need for security persists. 
We all have a certain need for security; It is one of our very basic needs as human beings. But, for some of us, and I think women especially, there is a heightened need to be secure and to feel safe and protected. It’s why when I watch a movie like “The Patriot” or “Braveheart” or “The Last of the Mohicans” I tend to concentrate on finding a place to hide in the story. (If I were there, living then, experiencing that, where would I go to hide, to be safe? I can’t enjoy a movie that offers me no escape!) 
The same is true off the screen, in real life.  But, what I have discovered in life, is this;  all the “safe people” and all of the “safe places” in one’s life can be totally destroyed. They can become unsafe people and unsafe places. The one’s you thought would protect you can even become the enemy and your hiding place can become the scene of your worst nightmare. 
And so here is how I am finding divine healing for this major issue in my life. It began with the realization that there is only One truly safe Being and ONLY in Him and in His Presence will I ever find the security, the safety and the protection I need. And, here’s the bonus! I can find that even in the midst of chaos and trial and tribulations of all kind. 
One of the most helpful things I have found to bring healing to this profound need of mine is this... I keep a “Security Journal” of sorts. Then, when I find a scripture that gives me a picture of a “safe place” or an element of security that speaks to me, into the journal it goes. The scripture is also highlighted, usually in pink (for me), and a small star is placed beside it. (You know He knows each star by name and He knows me too!)
Believe me, there is nothing quite so secure as finding Him to be your High Tower, your Dwelling Place, your Refuge, your Rock, your Shelter. He is my Covering, my Shield and my Protector. That beats anything else the world has to offer!  I have my own real live, everlasting and incredible SuperHeroSupreme! Here are some of my favorites. 


Find security here....                                                      
Psalm 125: 1-2 "Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people both now and forevermore." 
Psalm 17:8 "Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings."                                                                                       
Hebrews 13:6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"                                                                                                                 
Isaiah 40:11 "He tends His flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young."                                                                                                                          
Psalm 32:7 "You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance..."  

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pondering Ministry

Oh, I was hungry today...hungry for a word from the LORD. He did not fail me...He spoke right to where I am...what I struggle with and also where I want to be, right from the pages of a book I plucked off the shelf beside me in the midst of my desperate longing.

The book is called "A Place of Quiet Rest" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Here is what she wrote, maybe God will speak to you through it, as well... Or maybe it will become a prayer for your pastor or spiritual teacher.

Nancy writes...
"I love teaching the Scripture; to me there is nothing quite like seeing the Word of God penetrate and transform lives. But the process of preparing to speak is an intense one for me.

I agonize to determine what it is that the LORD wants me to teach;
I wrestle with the passages involved, seeking to understand what the Scripture really means;
I labor to put the material together in a form that is understandable and meaningful to the listener.

Throughout the process, I ask the Holy Spirit to search my own heart, to shine the light of His Word into every nook and cranny of my life, and to show me where I don't measure up to the truth I am about to proclaim.
Before opening my mouth to speak,
I spend time in prayer, pleading with God for a fresh anointing of His Spirit on my life and my lips,
and interceding for those who will hear the message.
I feel like a runner about to run an important race-every muscle taut, totally concentrated on the race ahead.
Then, while I'm actually teaching, there is more energy expended-physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
I am intensely focused, never letting up from my goal-
I want the truth to penetrate every heart;
I want every individual to say yes to God about any issue He is addressing in her life.

When I have finished speaking, the battle is still not over-that is when the enemy often seeks to discourage me with feelings of inadequacy or to tempt me with seeking the praise of men for my ministry. By the time it's all over, I am generally depleted and in need of restoration."
(Debby: And then it begins all over again!")

(Debby)
Probably only another pastor or teacher can understand the tension that Nancy Leigh DeMoss speaks of. I pastor a diverse group of individuals, from very mature believers with a life-long faith, to those who struggle to make it there on Sunday morning, let alone find any particular book of the Bible, to teenagers and children. How to make a message come alive in a way that will speak to all is a weekly challenge for me. That is why, at the top of every manuscript, in bright red letters it says, "Apart from YOU, JESUS, I can do nothing." I know that to be true from the depths of my being.
                                                         More of You, Jesus, and less of me.
And may I weekly, daily, moment-by-moment, courageously fight the battle with my enemy named discouragement and remember who I am meant to please.

I am A Soldier in the LORD's Army



If every pastor had just a few more soldiers with this attitude and commitment, it would sure help make ministering to those with true needs a lot easier! Thanks to all who fight the good fight of faith.
I am a Soldier...
I am a soldier in the army of my God.
The Lord Jesus Christ is my Commanding Officer.
The Holy Bible is my code of conduct.
Faith, prayer and the Word are my weapons of warfare.
I have been taught by the Holy Spirit,
Trained by experience,
Tried by adversity,
And tested by fire.

I am a volunteer in this Army,
And I am enlisted for eternity.
I will not get out,
Sell out,
Be talked out,
Or pushed out.

I am faithful,
Reliable,
Capable,
And dependable.

If my God needs me, I am there.
I am not a baby.
I do not need to be pampered,
Petted, Primed up, Pumped up,
Picked up or pepped up.
I am a soldier.

I am not a wimp.
I am in place,
Saluting my King,
Obeying His orders,
Praising His name,
And building His kingdom!

No one has to send me flowers,
Gifts, food, cards or candy.
I do not need to be cuddled,
Cradled,
Cared for, or catered to.
I am committed.

I cannot have my feelings hurt bad enough to turn me around.
I cannot be discouraged enough to turn me aside.
I cannot lose enough to cause me to quit.

When Jesus called me into His Army I had nothing.
If I end up with nothing, I will still come out ahead.
I will win.

My God has and will continue
To supply all of my needs.
I am more than a conqueror.
I will always triumph.
I can do all things through Christ.

Devils cannot defeat me.
People cannot disillusion me.
Weather cannot weary me.
Sickness cannot stop me.
Battles cannot beat me.
Money cannot buy me.
Governments cannot silence me.
And Hell cannot handle me.
I am a soldier.

Even death cannot destroy me.
For when my Commander
Calls me from this battlefield,
He will promote me to Captain
And then allow me to rule with Him.
I am a soldier in the Army,
And I’m claiming victory.

I will not give up.
I will not turn around.
I am a soldier,
Marching Heaven bound.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Times of Refreshing





"How will we know it's for real?" they asked and I replied, "When there is confession and repentance; when there is brokenness and not before." *
Have you ever found a verse, one that you have probably read hundreds of times before, but all of a sudden because of the circumstances of life, it takes on a whole new meaning, maybe even a life of its own? That's what happened a couple of days ago when I stumbled over Acts 3 verse 19: "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the LORD..."
I don't know about you, but I desperately long for "times of refreshing," but there is a cost. There is a condition and that condition is this, I must live a life of repentance. I must turn to my God at all times. (For me, that kind of means I am "in His face" moment-by-moment.)
I want my sins wiped out...covered...buried. And so lately, I have found myself, many times a day it seems, saying, "I am so sorry, please forgive me," in one way or another. I find myself consciously guarding my words, my thoughts, my actions. Acutely aware of how easy it is to step on other's toes, to wound without even knowing it, to offend or be offended and I don't want to live like that. Hurting others, holding grudges, judging... I don't want to be a "hurt people hurt people" person.
Set me free, LORD! Give me Your filters. Help me to see and perceive others as You do. Cleanse me of all unrighteousness. And thank You, bless You for the times of refreshing and the privilege of turning to You!
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Beauty of Mathematics


Even if you are like me and numbers are just "not your thing" you may find this totally amazing! I have no idea who came up with these formulas (other than the Great I AM) but it sure wasn't me!

1 x 8 + 1 = 9
12 x 8 + 2 = 98
123 x 8 + 3 = 987
1234 x 8 + 4 = 9876
12345 x 8 + 5 = 98765
123456 x 8 + 6 = 987654
1234567 x 7 = 9876543
12345678 x 8 + 8 = 98765432
123456789 x 8 + 9 = 987654321

1 x 9 + 2 = 11
12 x 9 + 3 = 111
123 x 9 + 4 = 1111 
1234 x 9 + 5 = 11111
12345 x 9 + 6 = 111111 
123456 x 9 + 7 = 1111111
1234567 x 9 + 8 = 11111111 
12345678 x 9 + 9 = 111111111 
123456789 x 9 +10= 1111111111 

9 x 9 + 7 = 88
98 x 9 + 6 = 888 
987 x 9 + 5 = 8888 
9876 x + 4 = 88888 
98765 x 9 + 3 = 888888 
987654 x 9 + 2 = 8888888 
9876543 x + 1 = 88888888
98765432 x 9 + 0 = 888888888 

Brilliant, isn't it?
 
And look at this symmetry: 


1 x 1 = 
1
11 x 11 = 
121 
111 x 111 = 
12321
1111 x 1111 = 
1234321 
11111 x 11111 = 
123454321 
111111 x 111111 = 
12345654321
1111111 x 1111111 = 
1234567654321 
11111111 x 11111111 =
123456787654321 
111111111 x 111111111 =
12345678987654321

Mind Boggling...   
Now, take a look at this... 
101%
 
From a strictly mathematical viewpoint:
 
What Equals
 100%?
What does it mean to give MORE than
100%? 
Ever wonder about those people who say they
Are giving more than
 100%? 
We have all been in situations where someone wants you to
GIVE OVER 100%... 
How about
 ACHIEVING 101%?
What equals
 100% in life? 
Here's a little mathematical formula that might help
Answer these questions:
 
If:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 

Is represented as:
 
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26. 

Then: 

H-A-R-D-W-O- R- K 

8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98%
 
And: 

K-N-O-W-L-E- D-G-E 

11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+ 5 = 96%
 
But:
 
A-T-T-I-T-U- D-E 

1+20+20+9+20+ 21+4+5 = 100% 

THEN, look how far the love of God will take you: 

L-O-V-E-O-F- G-O-D 

12+15+22+5+15+ 6+7+15+4 = 
101% 

Therefore, one can conclude with mathematical certainty that:
While
 Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and 
Attitude will Get you there, 
It's the Love of God that will put you over the top! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Paradoxes



Love these Puritan prayers that so speak my heart...


O CHANGELESS GOD,
Under the conviction of thy spirit I learn that
the more I do, the worse I am,
the more I know, the less I know,
the more holiness I have, the more sinful I am,
the more I love, the more there is to love.
O wretched man that I am!

O Lord,
I have a wild heart,
and cannot stand before thee;
I am like a bird before a man.
How little I love thy truth and ways!

I neglect prayer,
by thinking I have prayed enough and earnestly,
by knowing thou has saved my soul.

Of all hypocrites, grant that I may not be an evangelical hypocrite,
who sins more safely because grace abounds,
who tells his lusts that Christ’s blood cleanseth them,
who reasons that God cannot cast him into hell, for he is saved,
who loves evangelical preaching, churches, Christians, but lives unholily.

My mind is a bucket without a bottom,
with no spiritual understanding,
no desire for the Lord’s Day,
ever learning but never reaching the truth,
always at the gospel-well but never holding water.

My conscience is without conviction or contrition,
with nothing to repent of.
My will is without power of decision or resolution
My heart is without affection, and full of leaks.

My memory has no retention,
so I forget easily the lesson learned,
and thy truths seep away.
Give me broken heart that yet carries home the water of grace.

Puritan's Prayer

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Disciple's Renewal



O my Saviour,
help me.
I am so slow to learn, 

so prone to forget, 
so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when 

I should be on the heights;
I am pained by my graceless heart,
my prayerless days,
my poverty of love,
my sloth in the heavenly race,
my sullied conscience,
my wasted hours,
my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me:
take the scales from my eyes,
grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee,
meditate on thee,
gaze on thee,
sit like Mary at thy feet,
lean like John upon thy breast,
appeal like Peter to thy love,
count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be
more decision in my character,
more vigor in my purposes,
more elevation in my life,
more fervor in my devotion,
more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world,
keep me from making the world my position;
May I never seek in the creature
what can be found only in the Creator;
Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou king of kings and lord of lords,
that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.

A Puritan's Prayer

A Conciliator's Prayer

Ken Sande, the founder of Peacemaker Ministries 
prays this prayer as a conciliator. 
This is the prayer of my heart as a pastor, as well 


O LORD, God
Today I am called to be a peacemaker, 

but I am unfit for the task.  
By nature I am a peace-faker and a peace-breaker, 
so I myself need help.
Others ask me to understand and guide them, 
but my ears are dull, 
my eyes are dim, 
and I lack the wisdom they need. 
But you, Lord, have all they need, 
so I come to you for supply.
Make me fit for your purposes, 
so I might serve them and honor you.
Cleanse me from my own sin 
so I will not add to their problems;
take the logs from my eyes, 
so I can remove the specks from theirs.
Fill me with your Spirit so they may benefit from your fruit:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Give me wisdom from above so 
I might be pure and peace-loving,
considerate and submissive, 
full of mercy and good fruit, 
impartial and sincere.
Open Your Word to my eyes and to my heart,
so I will have a steady lamp to light our path.
Strip me of my own agenda and desires, 
so I might look only to others' good
and be absolutely worthy of their trust.
Help me to model everything I teach, 
so others can see the way.
Give me humility to admit my weaknesses 
and confess my wrongs,
so others might do the same.
Draw me again and again into prayer, 
where you can strengthen and correct me.
Make me submissive -- 
help me to show that I myself am under authority.
Help me to treat others as I want to be treated, 
so they may see the essence of your Law.
Make me creative, versatile, and adaptable 
so I can adjust to the surprises ahead.
Help me to accept others as you have accepted me,
 and thus bring praise to your name.
Give me faith and perseverance
 so I will not doubt your provision
or abandon your principles, 
even when others fight against them.
Grant me the gift of encouragement, 
to give others hope and help them believe
that our labor is not in vain.
Help me to model your forgiveness 
so relationships are healed
and your Gospel is revealed.
Grant me discernment 
so that I may read 
the deep waters of others' hearts,
sort fiction from fact, 
and know when it's time to act.
Give me boldness and courage, 
tempered with kindness, 
to confront others in love
so they might see their errors and 
find their way back to you.
Help me to prepare thoroughly 
and not presume upon your grace.
Make me just and fair, 
so that even if people disagree
with my counsel they will believe 
that I treated them well.
In short, Father,
please give me the Spirit of Christ 
so that I might walk in His steps and guide 
Your people Into the path of Your peace.

Afraid? Of What?

Jack Vinson was a missionary to China. In 1931 he was taken hostage by bandits. Eventually they were surrounded by government troops and the bandits tried to shoot their way out. Many died in the process; Vinson was shot and beheaded by his captors. BUT, before he died this conversation, between Vinson and one of the bandits, was overheard by another hostage.


It went like this...
"I'm going to kill you. Aren't you afraid?" said the bandit.
"Kill me, if you wish. I will go straight to God." Vinson replied.

After hearing of his friend's courage EH Hamilton wrote this poem for others facing troubled and difficult times. 
Afraid? Of What?
To feel the spirit's glad release?
To pass from pain to perfect peace,
The strife and strain of life to cease?
Afraid--of that?


Afraid--Of What?
Afraid to see the Savior's face
To hear His welcome, and to trace
The glory gleam from wounds of grace?
Afraid--of that?


Afraid? Of What?
A flash, a crash, a pierced heart;
Darkness, light, O Heaven's art!
A wound of His a counterpart!
Afraid--of that?


Afraid? Of What?
To do by death what life could not--
Baptize with blood a stony plot,
Till souls shall blossom from the spot?
Afraid--of that?


~E. H. Hamilton  By Their Blood


The Valley of VISION





LORD HIGH AND HOLY, MEEK AND LOWLY,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.
Let me learn by paradox
That the way down is the way up,
That to be low is to be high,
That the broken heart is the healed heart,
That the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
That the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
That to have nothing is to posses all,
That to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
That to give is to receive,
That the valley is the place of vision.
LORD, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine;
Let me find Thy light in my darkness,
Thy life in my death,
Thy joy in my sorrow,
Thy grace in my sin,
Thy riches in my poverty,
Thy glory in my valley.

Written by Puritans

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Story Worth Sharing


Irena  Sendler
Today I received the following story about a woman named Irena Sendler. It's worth the time it takes to read...and remember.


There  recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena. During  WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an 'ulterior motive' ... She KNEW what the  Nazi's plans were for the Jews, (being German.) Irena smuggled  infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried and she  carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger  kids) She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark  when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The  soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the  barking covered the kids/infants noises.. During her time of doing  this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. She  was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her  severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she  smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in  her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that  may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been  gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes  or adopted. Last  year Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize She was not  selected. Al  Gore won, for a slide show on Global Warming.  

Saturday, October 3, 2009

How Do You Say "Good-bye" from a Million Miles Away?


Okay, so it's not really a million miles, but today it seems like a million miles! It is, though, a whole great big country away-from the east coast in Pennsylvania to the west coast in Sun City, California. That is a long way when your heart is tugging you in that direction.

Yesterday my Uncle Jim thought he was going to die...then last night he hoped he wouldn't disappoint anyone if he didn't! He continues to amaze me every time he rallies around and I wonder how many times, over the last few years, I thoroughly expected him to die at any moment and he hasn't! (Besides his many health issues for some reason he has always seemed "old" to me. I don't know why except that he has the "California raisin" skin of an outdoor man...a lifeguard, a motorcycle policeman, an oil man. I guess a life lived around the water and the sun can do that to you.)

But, more than likely, he probably will leave this world soon. He is ready. He is tired. He struggles for every breath and has never fully recovered from a fall several months ago. His once vigorous, active life is now spent between his bed and the couch and the doctor's office, but somehow the "Energizer Bunny" part of him just keeps ticking away, regardless of the condition of his frail body. Maybe it's because he knows how much he is loved...I wonder?

*****************************
Uncle Jim, I know you know this. You have always known this...how much I love you and my Aunt Lynne. (I know, in life, we're probably not supposed to have favorites, but I do and so do you.) You have both been like parents to me. Your love for me has always been unconditional and precious and far beyond special.

My memories of you as I grew up, Uncle Jim, are just as clear and distinct as those I have of my dad. I'll never forget the day you taught me to waterski. Your patience knew no bounds, whether you were driving the boat or in the water with me helping to keep my skies straight, your encouragement was just what an unsteady seven year-old needed. Could you hear me singing at the top of my lungs, once I got up, "Climb, Climb Up Sunsine Mountain!" I can still feel the joy and the sense of freedom flying over the waves of the Saltan Sea!

I have no idea how many summers I spent with you in Bakersfield....all of the good ones, for sure! You probably don't know this, but you were at the center of one of the most embarrassing memories of my young life. Do you remember the day I walked in on you and Aunt Lynne right after you got out of the shower? I ran back outside and jumped in the pool and, when you came out in your police uniform to say good-bye, I ducked under the water, hoping for dear life, that you were gone before I ran out of oxygen. I can laugh at that now...but it took a long time!

Do you know that every New Year's Day I wish you a "Happy Birthday" in my heart. Your birthday has never passed that I haven't thought of you...and then remembered the Christmas and New Years that Lisa and I spent with you while Mom and Dad and the boys went to Oklahoma. I don't know why we got the best part of the Holidays that year, but I do remember that you celebrated a little too much and chased us girls around the house until we locked ourselves in the bedroom laughing and gasping for breath!

So many memories wrapped up in you. I will treasure them always, but I treasure this the most... I have always known how much you love me. I have always known I am "your favorite!" And that is one of the greatest blessings of my life. Thank you. I love you right back! And whether I see you again here or someday beyond this life, I know that I will see you again and I take comfort in that.
"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always."

(Aunt Lynne, I also have many precious memories of you, as well. Like the day we stood in the bathroom and I told you that Jim Thomas had asked me to marry him and you said, "Oh Honey, lot's of guys are going to ask you to marry them!" And you gave me open access to your fingernail polish and your makeup! Oh my...how easy I was to please then!)


Sea Monsters, Dragons, Magicians and Spies...


Sea monsters, dragons, magicians and spies!
Riddles and mystery! Intrigue and surprise!
Heroes and villans and giants and midgets,
Palaces, dungeons and madmen and witches!

Kings, queens and emperors, wise men and fools,
Miracles, plagues, hidden treasures and jewels!
Angels and demons, rebellion and war,
Deception, disaster and mayhem and gore!

Time travel! Romance! Adventure! Betrayal!
Freedom from slavery! Escaping from jail!
Soldiers and warriors and healers and saints,
And poems of thanksgiving, praise and complaint!

Partying prophets and killers who preach,
Fish who eat people! Donkeys that teach!
Ship wreaks and journeys and blessings to give,
And the world's greatest Superhero ever to live!

Author of Poem: Unknown; Author of Book: Known and Revered