Category Archives: God

A Memorable Break

At seventeen I had a lot of questions–few answers. Questions about life. Questions about the future. Questions about God. Is He real? And is there more to being a Christian than going to church and trying to live a good life? Yes, I had questions and a job as the Assistant Head Dining Room Girl at  summer camp.

My duties included setting tables, serving food, serving second and third helpings of food, cleaning tables, washing dishes and mopping floors. As second in command of the eight Dining Room Girls, I had to make sure all our tasks were completed and help solve any problems among us. Consequently, serving three meals a day, plus a night-time snack to staff left little time to enjoy any camp activities.

However, one day before supper, we were invited to step outside and join the campers.

“Everyone take on of these slips of paper from the basket,” said the Camp Director. “Now walk to an area by yourself, sit down and think about what you’re reading. Stay in your spot until you hear the dinner bell.”

I reached into the wicker basket and took one of the folded white papers and meandered to a nearby tree. I plopped beneath it feeling grateful to sit outside a few minutes, even if it was July. I leaned against the tree and opened my assignment.

 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine      own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3: 5-6

At last–an answer.

I peered at the sky then down again to what became my favorite Bible verses.

Yes Lord.

I will trust.

 

 

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A Transformation

We called a friend to ask if we could borrow his pressure washer.

“Sure as long as you pay me in some of your homemade bread. Deal?”

“Deal.”

Making bread is one of our pastimes. It’s amazing how the ingredients can mix into such warm deliciousness.

Jesus told a parable about bread making, (Matthew 13:33 and Luke 13:21). Although there are other scriptures comparing leaven to sin, (Matthew 15, Mark 8, 1 Corinthians 5 and Galatians 5), Jesus’ allegory to His Kingdom being like leaven hits home–in the kitchen and in the heart.

Heaven’s Leaven

When yeast is mixed into the dough then left alone, a change will show.

The dough will soon be twice its size thanks to yeast that made it rise.

The kingdom’s like this Jesus said, like the leaven makes our bread.

Word and Spirit both alive begin to work, deep, deep, inside

and change a life bound by sin, setting it free–new life in Him.

And He in us, hope of glory. Heaven’s leaven. Unseen story.

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Don’t Ask the Blessing, Offer One

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Why do we pray before meals? Habit? Tradition? For the answer, click here:

http://www.joyfulheart.com/thanksgiving/offer-blessing.htm

When I read this eight years ago it changed my pre-meal perspective and consequently my prayer. Now instead of asking God to bless my food, I bless God, the provider of my food.

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How Long?

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During a weary time in my life I asked the Lord,

How Long? How long do I stay faithful?

Later that day I found the answer.

. . . be thou faithful unto death and I will give thee a crown of life.  

Revelation 2:10

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Music from the Ashes

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Digging through the charred rubble of the Su Valley Junior-Senior High School near Talkeetna, Alaska, volunteers recovered several musical instruments. Clarinets, brass horns and a tuba passed from person to person. Elementary School music teacher Sandy Shoulders called it “music from the ashes.”1

A few years ago I experienced a low time in my life. Weeks turned into months and eventually my mental cloud dissipated. Then one day something funny happened at work and I erupted with a loud belly laugh.

“Mary, I’ve never heard you laugh like that,” my co-worker said.

It was true. I hadn’t laughed in a long time. The sound of joy returned, and like the salvaged band instruments, it was music from the ashes.

A cheerful heart is good medicine. Proverbs 17:22 NIV

1 Associated Press. “Searchers salvage musical instruments from Su Valley rubble.” KTVH-TV June 18, 2007  http://www.webcenter11.com

11/1/08

“Mary, you’re so funny.”

I heard this twice last week. I’m not a comedian by any means, but the sound of laughter confirms the inward joy that God has restored in me. I’m free from things that oppressed and weighed me down. I’m free to be myself. Free to laugh, dance, run, sing and shout. Yes I’m free.

Thank you Jesus.

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Jesus, The Lifestyle Changer

Day after day he sat on the busiest thoroughfare he could find–the road outside of Jericho leading toward Jerusalem. Crowds meant revenue for the blind beggar and today the crowd was thick. The atmosphere intense. Then he heard that name. Turning his head he heard it again. Jesus . . . . Jesus.

He’s here. Jesus is here. This is my chance.

“Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me!”

“Shhhh! Hush Bartimaeus!”

“Thou son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and turned towards him. “Bartimaeus, come here.”

And he, casting away his garment, rose and came to Jesus. Mark 10:50

Bartimaeus threw his garment, his security, his means of shade in the daytime and his blanket of warmth at night. Some scholars say blind beggars wore a certain type of outer cloak for identification so donors would know their disablity. If this is true, then Bartimaeus discarded his self-sufficiency, his tradition and his past when he cast his garment.

Oh to be like Bartimaeus–willing to lay everything aside! Willing to not let anything or anyone keep me from coming to Jesus.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Go thy way, thy faith hath made thee whole.

Mark 10:51-52a

Not only were Bartimaeus’ physical eyes opened that day but his spiritual eyes were opened as well. After his miracle he could have gone in any direction, yet he chose to follow Jesus–the lifestyle changer.

And immediately he received his sight, and followed Jesus in the way.
Mark 10: 52

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Forward . . . . Plow

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NIV

Before the use of machinery, farmers used oxen or horses to pull a plow. If a plowman plows half-heartedly his rows will be shallow and crooked. His peers will scoff at his plowing skills. The soil will not be broken up and prepared as well as it could be to hold the seed. If seed is sown on poor ground–the result will be a poor crop. Therefore, a plowman must focus on the ground ahead of him and keep both hands on the plow to adjust the blade as it cuts through roots and clods of dirt. A plowman knows that once he starts, quitting is not an option because good soil will often reward him with a plentiful harvest.

 Jesus compared a life of following him to that of a plowman. Just as a  plowman can’t plow a deep, straight row while looking backwards, I can’t prepare the soil of my heart to receive the seed of His word if I’m looking back and hankering for the life I left behind. Also, quitting in the middle of plowing my heart, isn’t an option either. Oh, I may stop to rest. Catch my breath. I may even fall–but when I do I know I must get up again and . . .  get back to plowing.

 

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His Ways Are Not Our Ways

In Judges chapter 7 the Midianites, Amalekites and the eastern people were enemies of God’s chosen people, Israel. While encamped in a valley the bible describes them as a multitude thick as grasshoppers and their camels were like the sand on the seashore–too numerous to number. In spite of their vast number, it appears that an army of 32,000 Israelites could defeat any opposition. However, Gideon their leader,  followed God’s command and told every soldier who was afraid to leave Mount Gilead. Get this– 22,000 men left, leaving Gideon with 10,000 (Judges 7:3). An army of 10,000 sounds like a lot but God said, “No, I want only those that pass the water test,” (Mary’s paraphrase–Judges 7:5,6). It’s hard to believe it, but 9,700 men failed the water test leaving Gideon with 300 chosen men to defeat a multitude. Gideon’s 300 men equipped themselves with a trumpet, a pitcher and a lamp. What? No armour? No swords? No arrows? For a mass of ruthless, idol-serving warriors?  No. None of that.

So Gideon’s army took their positions, blew their trumpets, broke their pitchers and shouted “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” The startled enemy screamed. They ran. Amid the confusion they turned on each other–killing one another with their swords. Gideon called for back up and eventually Gideon’s forces captured & decapitated two Midianite leaders. He continued fighting until there was peace in the land and Israel enjoyed peace throughout Gideon’s lifetime because he yielded to God’s unconventional ways.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8,9 NIV

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John’s Gaze Reveals Praise

Ever hear a crowd erupt into applause? It sounds like a cascading waterfall or the voice of many waters (Revelation 19:6). That’s what John heard when he peered into heaven. So . . . if that’s what heaven is like–perhaps I should rehearse down here.

O clap your hands all ye people, shout unto God with the voice of triumph. Psalm 47:1

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Make a Funnel

I spread out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Psalm 143:6 NIV

“When you lift your hands you make a funnel for God’s spirit to come down to you,” said Reverend Lee Stoneking at a recent conference. Hmmm? I’d never thought of it that way. I’d always thought of it as a sign of surrender. Here I am God. I give up. I give it all to you. But make a funnel? OK.

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. (and make a funnel) Psalm 63:4

Pour it on God.

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