Look up!

Look up! You’ll see His glory.

The heavens declare the glory of God . . . (Psalm 19:1a)

You’ll see it in the skies – the sun, the stars, the clouds, deep into the huge expanse reaching far beyond our sight.

It’s there. His glory!

You’ll hear these heavenly elements speak. Day and night, they are declaring, speaking. And as they speak, they teach us, revealing knowledge, making God known to us, reviving our souls. His voice is heard and He is made known in every corner of the earth, reaching every land, every tribe, every language. No place is hidden from His voice – from His glory. Whenever and wherever you see the skies, you see God’s glory.

It’s there. His glory!

Father, I look up because I want to see your glory. Open my eyes to every aspect of your creation that I see when I look up. Open my ears to hear your glory. Let me hear your Word speaking to me. Day or night. Light or dark. I join the heavens in praising you.

(Praying from Psalm 19:1-7; 89:5)

From a whisper to a roar

Today I came across a short journal entry I’d written one morning years ago:

“I slept well last night, which I so needed, as my body has been fighting an illness. I thought I would feel refreshed this morning but instead, I felt discouraged and depressed. Not because of the illness, I’m sure (although one thing does add to another), but because of a different, ongoing situation very close to me that doesn’t seem to be getting better in spite of days, weeks, and months of prayer.”

Although written quite some time ago, this could just as easily be my story – or your story – today. Especially today – in 2020. Ongoing problems, seemingly yet unanswered prayers, weighted and worsened by isolation, COVID fears, lockdowns, and loneliness.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? Is it happening now – at the end of 2020?

In your weakness, a voice speaks to you and it says, “God doesn’t hear your prayers. He isn’t answering your prayers. You might as well give up.”

I’ve heard that voice – often. I’ve come to recognize it, knowing it is not from God because it brings fear – fear of the unknown, fear of the future, fear that God doesn’t care.  God doesn’t give me fear. His Word tells me He gives me a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7) So when I hear that malevolent voice,  I simply pray,

Thank you Father for the spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind.

But sometimes it’s difficult to pray. Very difficult! I forget the words, the Scripture, or I’m too exhausted. It is then I simply speak to my Abba Father, pouring out my heart:

Lord, I know you love me and you love my family. We need you. 

When I speak, a single tear fills each eye.

Isaiah 43 19

Abba Father speaks to me through His Word:  “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19)

Yes, I perceive it Lord! Thank you!

Then I go to His Word to read more about the new thing He is doing. I read that He is making a way in the desert and the wasteland we have been going through. He is providing (Living) water so that we might praise Him. (We do and we will!) He reminds me that He has chosen me, made me, formed me, and will help me. He pours that Living Water and His Spirit out on me and on my children and grandchildren. And they will spring up! (Isaiah 43, 44)

I keep opening and reading His Word because I know that faith comes from hearing the message of Christ. And it is faith I need. (Romans 10:17) And the message adds to my continuing prayer today:

Lord, let me remember who I am, whose I am, and the territory that belongs to me. For the loss I and mine have suffered, take back that ground for us. Release the boldness of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in my prayers – that my prayers will be fierce – that they will rise from a whisper to a roar.

And as my day progresses, my prayers become more fierce, intensifying from whispers to roars, knowing that He is making the way for me and for my loved ones through the desert and the wasteland.

Further Reading: 

Romans 10:17

Isaiah 43, 44

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“I have told you all this,” Jesus said.

A friend recently posted on Facebook:

“Seriously – if I don’t get this anxiety under control, I am going to be exhausted for the rest of my life.”

I related to her posting:

Anxiety. Fear. Exhaustion.

Within a day, she posted again:

“I try really, really hard to have faith in humanity, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult. Decent people get bad things they don’t deserve, while horrible people get good things they don’t deserve. The universe just seems pretty upside-down to me at the moment.”

Anxiety – Fear – Exhaustion. Now we add Frustration and Confusion to the list.

Can you connect? I can.

Why is the world so unsettling now, we wonder. Jesus addressed our concerns.

“I have told you all this,” Jesus said, “so that you may have peace in me. . . Take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

You see, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, having recently entered Jerusalem, the city he so loved, between what we refer to as Holy Week. Similar to the holiday time we are presently celebrating.

“I have told you all this, so you may have peace in me.” Jesus said.

What is “all this” we might question.

We find “all this” in the book of John, Chapters 12-16. In the few days after entering Jerusalem,

Jesus predicted His death, washed His disciples’ feet and told the people He did not come to judge the world but to save it.

He predicted His betrayal and Peter’s denial.

He brought a new command: “Love one another.”

He comforted His disciples, and promised the Counselor, the Holy Spirit to them.

He said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

He explained that He is the source of life, being the true vine.

And several times He told them to ask for anything in His name and it would be given them.

He told them that the world would hate them but that someday their grief would turn to joy.

It is in this context that He tells them,

“I have told you all this (all these things), so that you may have peace in me. In this world, here on this earth, you will have many tribulations, troubles, trials, sorrows. But take heart because I have overcome the world.”

Some of you now feel like his disciples felt at that time – hated by the world, by your family, your co-workers, your congregation.  Some of you perhaps have prayed for a loved one for ages without seeing results. Your heart is troubled. Maybe you’ve received bad news. Or you are afraid. You feel separated from the true vine. You are lonely. You can’t imagine your grief ever turning to joy. The world is “upside down.” Life isn’t fair. But Jesus tell us that we can have peace in Him. He tells us to take heart. He has overcome the world.

You might question why  Jesus said, “In this world you will have many troubles” instead of  just make everything perfect?

Well, He did!

“In the beginning . . .” we read. “And God saw that it was good.” God was pleased with His creation. It was perfect.

God did not create sickness. He did not create addiction. He did not create death. God’s plan was not for us to suffer. He didn’t create hatred and strife, wars and destruction. But it happens. Because “Here on earth,” or “In this world,” as some translations read, actually in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, in their sin, turned the keys over to Satan. For a time, our enemy Satan, roams about, trying to steal from us and kill us and destroy us. (Be sure to read John 10:10 to discover who brings evil and who brings good.)

Was this “upside-down” world God’s original plan?  Did He bring it? No. Does He allow it? Yes, He allows Satan to roam ~ because man chose it.

Our Jesus knew it would happen. Our “upside-down” universe is not a surprise to Him. I picture His face saddened as He spoke the words: “In this world, you will have many troubles.” He is saddened that “Decent people get bad things they don’t deserve, while horrible people get good things they don’t deserve,” as my Facebook friend observes. He is saddened that our world, our lives, are invaded by disease and suffering, that our children are hurting, that our world is in strife. He will bring justice one day. But today, we can trust that in Him we can have peace. Peace that passes all understanding, His Word tells us.  He has overcome the world. We must trust His Word, for He “has told [us] these things so that in Him [we] may have peace.” I’m so glad He did.

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Papa, can I lie in your bed?

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart:

I put her to bed, as usual. Well, really, with a bit more tenderness, a bit more time–reading, laying, singing, snuggling. But she is still quite unsettled when I leave her bedside, and shortly after, I hear her behind me in the living room.

Quietly.

“Nana, can I lie in your bed?”

“Sure, honey.”

I follow her down the hall. She steps up onto the little white stepping stool and up up up on to the big, soft mattress. And then I see the tears.

“I miss my mommy.”

I wipe her tears.

I lie beside her, cherishing her soft hair rubbing my cheek, breathing in its sweet, innocent scent.

Later, after she is sound asleep, Papa carries Kaylee back to her own bed.

I awaken in the night. My heart aches. I miss her mommy too. And I know a bit of the pain my precious daughter is going through. She shared it with me months ago, shortly after the arrest. Now I know that tonight, she lies on her cot, in her cell,  cold and lonely. My throat makes a foreign noise. I try to hold back the sob, knowing that when it starts, it doesn’t stop for a long time. I pray for her in a whisper – a whisper I know my Papa hears.

Months ago, after the arrest, on the 9th day, we brought her home–from that cell, from that cot–for one night before recovery began. She wanted her own bed– her old bed. The comfort of home.

Now I want the comfort of my Papa’s bed. I want that comfort for my daughter, and for her daughter, Kaylee. I want that comfort for all of us and for all others who are hurting.

I find it. I find it in the Word that is near me!

He gently tends me like a shepherd tends his flock. He gathers me in his arms and carries me close to his heart.

I might be unsettled for awhile, but I know that as I rest in his arms, close to His heart, I’ll find that comfort.

Further Reading: Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 91:1; Matthew 11:28; Romans 10:8

As you read the above post, you might connect. Some of you have or are presently raising your grandchildren. Some of you have or have had a son or daughter incarcerated. Some of you agonize, watching your own little ones unsettled and distressed, often unable to sleep. Take a verse or two and personalize it for yourself. Speak it over and over and over .  . . His Word is powerful. And it’s near you.

If you’d like to read my story about facing our daughter’s addiction and her subsequent arrest, you can order When Life Roars, Jesus Whispers by clicking here. 

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The God Who Whispers

Last night, as I knelt beside my bed and prayed – a habit I developed as a child – I felt like my prayers weren’t reaching God. But knowing Him as I do, I knew my thoughts were foolish. He is faithful, even when I am not.

The troubles and trials of life become overwhelming at times. My soul is thirsty for Him. My body is weak from work. My mind is boggled. Yes, He is faithful. But sometimes I can’t sense His presence and that faithfulness for which I yearn.

This morning, after a restless night, I awoke to light instead of darkness. The light brought refreshment to my weary soul. I was thankful for it, but . . .

I dropped to my knees again – this time in the light of day – and simply prayed something like, “You are faithful, even when I am not. And I need You, Father.”

No photo description available.Then I saw a posting I had put on my Facebook Writer’s page. It was from Psalm 63:8, and it read, “My soul followeth hard after Thee.” (It was the King James Version – beautiful Shakespearean language!)

My own posting caused me to wonder – Does my soul follow hard after the Lord? Is my soul “clinging” to Him? Am I yearning and seeking His Word? Am I pursuing the message of my own posting, intended to be a piece of hope to others?

And so I opened the Word to Psalm 63, and I read it first as my question to Him:

“Oh, God, am I earnestly seeking you? Is my soul thirsting for you? My  body longing for you in this dry, weary life, where nothing else quenches my thirst? . . . It is true that I have seen you in worship; I have witnessed your power in miracles – both in my life and in others’. . .”

And as I read the Word as my question, it soon became my praise!

And my soul clung to Him and to His Word. When this happens, He whispers. And I listen!

Let your soul cling to Him in this sometimes dry and weary life.

Let Him whisper to you, my friend, through His Word.

I respond by speaking and praying His Word back to Him:

From Psalm 63

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
My soul thirsts for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Kathi

We, the Voters: A Three-Step Strategy

what do we Christians do?

Are you overwhelmed, frustrated, or distressed by the upcoming election?

You’re not alone!

A September Associated Press poll reveals that the majority of Americans are frustrated and/or angry, and that most Americans feel hopeless in this year’s election. NPR.org reports a Harris online polling for the APA (American Psychological Association), which exposes a statistically equal amount of “significant stress” crossing party lines – both Democrat and Republican. The APA provides sound, detailed suggestions to handle this election-time stress.

A July commentary by Ed O’Brien and Nadav Klein on Fortune.com, refers to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as “the most disliked presidential candidates in U.S. history” and further, the commentators “. . . think that more fundamental elements of human judgment are at work. Each candidate has a well-known past composed of both admirable actions and bad behavior. ” Many of us agree. These are some of the factors that make this election more stressful for us. Those – and social media.

If you’ve “been around” for a while, you might be comparing this election to those in the past – those in which the candidates spent more time conveying their plans for the country to the American people than they spent time trashing each other.  Today we see the residue of that trashing sifting down through the media (those sources we once trusted), dropping into the landfills and junkyards of the office water cooler or the ever-growing social media, resulting in the dregs and residue of half-truths or no truths unreliable, untrustworthy, and unrecognizable. No wonder most Americans are frustrated and/or angry!

Now we are just days away from the crucial and fateful decision of the American people. What do we do? More importantly, what do we Christians do?

  1. First, we pray! We pray for ourselves and other Christians; we pray for our country and our leaders; we pray for God’s will; and we pray for mercy. Remember that God loves our prayers. And He welcomes our prayers (Philippians 4:6). I invite you to link to the Election Prayer Guide, put out by David Butts, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force Board of Directors and America’s National Prayer Committee. Pray whenever you can and wherever you can – unceasingly.

  2. Next, we pray as we conduct our final research! Certainly we should seek counsel from those we respect, but we don’t need others, especially not social media, to decide for us. When you see something on social media, test it – research it to discover truths. We “have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of us know the truth. . . the anointing we have received from Him remains in us . . . His anointing teaches us . . . it is real . . . remain in Him.” (I John 2:20, 27 paraphrased) Trust that anointing. Ask Him to show you. Go to His Word. Dig into His Word. As you research the candidates, compare them in aspects of leadership, morals, and matters of integrity. Because many Americans lack trust in either candidate, some people are voting for the “platform” of a party, rather than the “candidate.”  Do your research and compare the platforms of each of the parties. (Click here to read the Democrat platform – Click here to read the Republican platform) Which platform most aligns with the Word of God? We must pray as we research.

  3. Finally, we pray as we vote! Your voice matters. And your prayer matters before God. As you vote, pray for the unleashing of the Sword – the Word of God – living and active (Hebrews 4:12); pray for Christians to show their faith; pray that the Lord would be pleased with the results; and pray that you will trust in the authority God has established (Romans 13).

 

Be still, my Christian friend, and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10); thank Him and trust that He reigns (Psalm 93).