Monday, September 30, 2013

Where there's a Will...

That old saying, "Where there's a will - there's a way" is certainly true when it came to this squirrel wanting to dine on bird seed.  We tried hanging this bird feeder in a spot where the squirrels would stop eating all our bird seed so our fine feathered friends could partake -- at least a little!  It took the squirrels a bit of doing, but they still managed to scoff down food that was not meant for them.  Although I might applaud persistance, in this case, I was not happy about this clever manuever.

There is a message in the squirrel's determination, however, and I might as well get something out of my attempt to enjoy the dainty nibbling of lovely little birds instead of the greedy devouring of this annoying rodent. 

When I think of the phrase, "Where there's a will, there's a way," I think of the verse in John 14:6 where Jesus says, "I am the Way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me."  It was the Father's Will for His Son to provide the Way for you and I to be with Him for eternity.

Unlike the squirrel, we as humans have a divine purpose.  God has actual plans -- plans for you and for me.  I love the verse in Jeremiah 29, where God assures the prophet -- and those of us reading His words thousands of years later, "For I know the plans that I have toward you, says the Lord, plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."

Where there's a Will, there's a Way -- God's Will is for you to choose to walk in His Way, where He promises to give you a "future and a hope."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Our Tent

"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" 2 Corinthians 5:1
This picture of Larry in a tent was taken at Fort Garland in Colorado some years ago.  It's meant to help visualize the idea of our human body being the tent-home that houses our spirit and soul.

I think it's interesting to compare our bodies to a tent for several reasons:  a tent is a movable dwelling, able to travel from place to place pretty much like a human body is able to do; a tent depends on a series of poles to hold it up, sort of like the bones do in our bodies; a tent is somewhat fragile and easily knocked over and crushed; and when the people who dwell inside the tent no longer live there, the tent is empty of the soul and spirit of those who once lived within its skin.

Peter wrote, "Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me." 1 Peter 1:13-14.

Our bodies are marvelous creations of God and as the Psalmist says, "We are fearfully and wonderfully made..."  Nevertheless, when a person takes the last breath on this earth and the spirit enters heaven (or, sadly, elsewhere), that body becomes an empty shell -- sort of like an empty tent.

Lest you think our bodies are meaningless to God once our spirit is gone, I don't believe that's true.  I've always been impressed by the loving, gentle way God handled Mose's body when he died alone up on the mountain.  Scripture tells us that the Lord "buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is" Deuteronomy 33:6.  Why would the Lord bother to bury Mose's body if he did not want to honor it and protect it until the day of resurrection?

God created these wonderful bodies not only to house our spirits on earth, but to be reunited with that spirit in the day of resurrection and made fully whole and perfected at that time.  Someday, we'll no longer be housed in a temporary tent, but rather "a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Channel of Grace

"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" Hebrews 4:16
I chose this picture to use with a poem I wrote about seeking to be a channel of grace for God only because I think it's a beautiful shot and I had nothing more relevant to use.  These two feathery plumes were growing along the edge of the Currituck Sound near a newly constructed boardwalk, and I just love the way the picture turned out (:
I don't write poetry very often and I'm not particulary adept at it, but occasionally I just feel the need to capture a thought in a more poetic kind of writing.  I call this, "A Channel of His Grace."
What does it look like – day by day –
This life with Jesus? Please show me the way.
I long to be what you want me to be;
I long to see what you want me to see.
My prayer, O God - to be bound up in Thee;
To be swaddled in your love, rocked in your arms –
Surrounded by your Spirit - I’m safe from all storms.
Oh, the wind roars about me and the water is deep
But I know who holds my future and I know who guards my sleep.
I know my God as Father and I know His Son as Friend
But I long to grow still closer in this life that has no end.
I want my Lord to live through me - a channel to His grace
Until the day this life will end and I see Him face to face.
"With great power the apostles continued to testify to the
resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace
was upon them all" Acts 4:33


Saturday, September 21, 2013

It's a Very Small World

It's such an incredibly small world we live in -- a fact that was perfectly illustrated by a seemingly happenstance encounter with a complete stranger who turned out to be just one degree removed from me.  This story occurred eight years ago, but I just ran across the photo and am once again struck by the wonder of this meeting.  Here's how it all happened:

Larry and I were driving along the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina with his parents.  It was one of those sunny, blue-sky, brisk-weather kind of days in October when the leaves are just beginning to turn colors.  We had seen several groups of motorcyclists on our drive through the parkway and I was curious where all these adventurers were coming from.  We stopped at a Doughton Park Rest Stop where six of the cyclists had also stopped.

I'm a friendly kind of girl which, along with my curiosity, caused me to walk over to the group and start talking to them.  I asked where they were from and they said, "St. Augustine, Florida."  I chatted a couple more minutes and then mentioned that my sister lived on St. Simons Island, which is not too far from St. Augustine.  One of the women said, "Why, my husband works in Brunswick," which is next to St. Simons.

My next thought was, well, who drives 100 miles to work in Brunswick but FLETC people (that's Federal Law Enforcement Training Center where my brother in law worked), so I said, "My brother in law works at FLETC."

They looked at me kind of funny and the guy (I later learned his name is Grant) said, "I work at FLETC." 

I'm thinking -- No way!!  And said, "Do you know Mike D____?"

He said, "I work in the office above him."

I was just blown away by the whole encounter!  What are the chances of me crossing paths with a friend of Mike's hundreds of miles from our homes and what are the chances I'd casually step over and start talking with them and what are the chances we'd make the connection?!

When people say, "What are the chances..." or "Statistically speaking, that's not possible..." or use the terms luck or random in conversation, I just shake my head and think, these words and phrases should not even be in the Christian's vocabulary (nor the non-Christians, but we won't go there).  God is in control of every nanoparticle and every nanosecond in all of creation.  An occurance like this "chance" meeting with Grant (not chance at all) is orchestrated by God and sent our way for a purpose. 

I believe God may have arranged this meeting to remind me how infinitely creative He is, as well as how in control of all things He is.  God has a delightful sense of humor at times as well -- sending a guy on a motorcycle with a bandana on his head who, forgive me Grant, looked a bit like one of those less-savory motorcycle types, but turned out to be a really nice guy.  That also reminds me of the lesson not to judge a book by its cover (or a person by his appearance).

If we have ears to hear and eyes to see, God will continually surprise and delight us with His manuevering of our steps to include some interesting diversions and encounters along our paths of life.  We'll find ourselves chuckling and shaking our heads in wonder and amazement time and time again!  "Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.  The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare" Psalm 40:5.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Following the Herd

This could be a picture used in an advertisement for Chick-fil-a, but it was a real herd of cattle walking in a line across the top of a hillside on the island of Orkney.  I had to zoom in, but I like the way it made a cool picture.

It also made me think how frequently in life we tend to follow the herd -- to act and dress like our peers, especially in junior and senior high school where kids are so desperate to fit in with the kids they consider cool and popular.  Believe me, I have vivid memories of wanting to fit in as a teenager -- and just not quite hitting the mark.  I guess I felt sort of like that white cow in the photo above -- out of sync with what the other cattle are wearing and just not fitting in.

While that mentality is common in school, it can follow a person into later life as well.  Thankfully, I escaped that miserable prison when I graduated from high school and I've continued to gain confidence and grow as a person by not following the herd -- or at least not worrying about the fact that I might be "dressed" differently (as in the white cow above) than the others.  It's okay to be different -- as long as that uniqueness is from God and not just some attempt to be contrary.

When Jesus walked on the earth, He certainly didn't follow the herd.  He offered a picture of what life might look like when we follow close after God instead of the well-trodden path of most of humanity.  Jesus was not a status-quo, follow the herd kind of man.  His teachings and the way He lived His life made it plain that "religion," riches, good works, or status were not what God is looking for in His kingdom.  Indeed, Jesus said, The first shall be last and the last shall be first.  It is the heart God looks at, not the outward appearance.

Jesus made it relatively simple when he told us what is most important:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37.  Although Jesus directive is simple, it is not an easy path to follow.  His straight and narrow path is found far from the maddening crowd and herds milling down the broad path that the Bible says leads to destruction.

While cattle probably do need to follow the herd in most instances, we as humans need to forge our own paths in the will of God.  Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you.  God's way is always the best way.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Beyond the Sunset

Sunsets inspire me.  This magnificent sunset was taken looking across the Currituck Sound from Duck, NC.  Here we see a golden globe hovering above the distant fringe of trees, with a ruffle of purple cloud in front and a brilliant orange-red background, just below is a golden reflected path across the soft blue rippling water of the sound and in the foreground a black ruff of seagrass floating in molten gold -- it's hard to imagine anything more beautiful.  Yet someday, we as Christians will see colors and sights that are even more amazingly beautiful than this. 

There's a wonderful old song that speaks of the day when a Christian leaves this earth to live "Beyond the Sunset."  The song says it will be a "blissful morning" and so it will be.  The Bible tells us that No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.  1 Corinthians 2:9

Ever since I went through the Bible study by T.W. Hunt and his daughter, "From Heaven's View," I've been more excited about my future home in Heaven.  Rev. Hunt had a vision from God that included getting a glimpse of the physical aspects of that wonderful place.  Here's one of the things that impressed me, he said, "The most physically unusual aspect of the experience consisted of the colors - colors that did not exist on earth.  I saw flowers in colors far more dazzling than any crimson I had ever seen in this world.  Others were pastels more delicate than any pink or violet we see here....In some strange way my whole body participated in sublime details of those masterworks.  Every detail in that place was a masterpiece...all around me, had to be glory no human could create."

Besides the wonderful physical beauty in Heaven -- and indeed, even more importantly, was the vision Hunt had of Christ.  He said, "The strongest impression of the dream came through the eyes of the Lord Jesus.  His eyes poured forth the mightiest and yet the most tender love I had ever imagined...somehow His eyes fulfilled every need I had ever experienced."

Hunt wrote an entire page describing his dream and my heart was touched so deeply I wept.  The more we learn about our wonderful Lord and Savior and the home He's preparing for us, the more excited we will become about the glories that await us beyond the sunset.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Trees Shall Clap

A few mornings ago, I was enjoying time alone with God while eating breakfast.  My favorite devotion book is Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  As if the Lord was speaking to me, it read:  "Learn to enjoy life more.  Relax, remembering that I am God with you."

I sat there smiling before my Father and rejoiced in that moment when all was relatively well in my little sphere of the world, thankful God was in control of all things.  I realize I need to praise God for such moments - not looking in the past or in the future where clouds most certainly hover on the horizon.  He was telling me to relax in this moment, delighting in His goodness and His sure presence. 

As I enjoyed this time with the Lord, I gazed out the window at the lush green trees spread out across my backyard and they suddenly started blowing wildly -- as if they were breaking into a grand applause, clapping their leafy limbs in praise to the Creator we share.   I grinned at their enthusiasm and joined them in clapping - rejoicing in such an amazing and personal God who wants to delight my unworthy soul -- even sending a strong wind to cause the trees to clap.  It was truly a God-moment that I will remember.

I wrote my friend LouAnn about what I'd experienced with the trees and she reminded me of a verse I'd forgotten about - in Isaiah 55:12:  "You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands."

I am just ecstatically delighted to belong to such an awesome God as the Lord Almighty. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013


"Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me,
and I shall be whiter than snow" Psalm 51:7

We recently had our patio, sidewalks and entire exterior of the house power washed.  Bryan did a great job and everything looks sparkling clean.  As you can see from the photo, the ugly stained black on our patio is being washed away by the power of the spray, leaving the nice, clean surface that we enjoy seeing.

There's one thing you can count on from life on this ole earth -- everything gets soiled and dirty.  No sooner do you run a dust cloth over your furniture than new dust immediately starts settling on its surface.  Our nice clean patio will start staining again as soon as the Fall leaves begin to accumulate on it.  We do our best to keep things clean, but our acts of cleaning are never a permanent solution.

There is, however, one cleansing that is permanent.  When Jesus came to earth to become our Savior, He came to offer a permanent solution to the stain of sin that darkens every person's soul.  In John 1:29, it says, "Behold!  The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!"  and later, in 1 John 1:7, it says, "...the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin."

So, when a person asks Jesus to be his Savior and forgive his sins, the ugly stained black heart that resides within that person (for even the nicest person is born with a heart of sin), is immediately "Power washed" by the greatest Power that exists -- the Power of God Almighty and His Son Jesus Christ.  The great thing about being Power washed by God is that He seals that cleansed heart for all eternity, and once you are saved and cleansed by the blood of Jesus, you will always be saved.  In Isaiah 1:18, God says, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow."

While this salvation cleansing of the soul is permanent, as long as we remain on this sinful earth with all its dirt flying around, we will get dirty again -- meaning we will sin from time to time (make that daily).  When that occurs, Jesus is gracious and ready to forgive.  1 John 1:9: 
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  He is ready to cleanse and forgive over and over and over.

None of us like being dirty -- unless you're a kid playing in a pile of sand or making mud pies.  Stay close to the Saviour who is the only one with the ability to make us cleansed indeed.  Now, that's what I call a real Power Washing!