Monday, October 31, 2011

You tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends...

"you will be My witnesses"
Acts 1:8

Baseball again today.  I know, right?  We've got a couple more weeks and then we're done for the winter.  I was sorry to see the World Series end {Congratulations to the St Louis Cardinals; and condolences to the Texas Rangers ~ you'll get 'em next year, guys!}  and after two more games, I'll be sorry to see my Amazing Boy's season end.

And for the first time in my Little League history, I was asked to keep score today.  I love to keep score; I do it almost every time I attend a major league game.  But I've never done it for Little League.  I was really nervous at first, not being entirely sure what they wanted from me, and afraid that I'd do it wrong.  Scorekeeping is sort of personal.  If you're doing it for yourself, it only matters that you understand it, so I've developed my own system of abbreviations.  For instance, in my system, a player can be out by DBR. That stands for "Dumb Base Running."  But no one but me would know what that abbreviation means.  Except maybe my dad.  And I think I told my sister.  And, well, all of you know now... But the Little League people wouldn't know.

In Little League, a scorekeeper's is most important job is counting the pitches.  No one wants to do damage to a young arm, so they are very strict about how many pitches the kids can throw.  At the end of every half-inning, the umpire would come over and ask me for the pitch count.  And because it was important, I was trying to concentrate, and do my best.

That made me think about professional hockey.  NHL teams have a Goal Judge at each end of the ice, whose job it is to turn on a red light if he sees the puck go in the net.  What's cool (so to speak) about his job is that he's in a plexiglass booth.  Keeps people from dumping their beer or popcorn on them, I guess, but it also cuts down on the noise for him.  Cuz I gotta tell you, it was sometimes hard to concentrate today!

And I got to thinking about how it's all up to a flawed human being.  Just lil' ole me, doing the best I can.  And that's okay.  The League officials know that mistakes are going to be made, but they're not going to be big mistakes, and they trust that each Scorekeeper is going to do their best.

Same with the umpires, for that matter.  Even in the major leagues.  In every sport, really.  Humans, as scorekeepers and referees, relying on their eyes and ears and brains.  Sounds like far from a foolproof system, doesn't it?  And yet, it's exactly the system God had in mind.  How do I know?

Twelve disciples.  That was His plan to spread the gospel.

Matthew 28:19 ~ "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations..."

Mark 16:15 ~ "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation..."

Luke 24:47 ~ "Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in My name, to all nations..."

John 21:17 ~ "Feed My sheep..."

There's an old joke about the angels asking Jesus what His plan was for spreading the gospel to all the world.  And when He told them, they paused and asked, "Do you have a Plan B?"

Nope.  We're it.  So who told you?  Who told you about God's love, and Jesus' death and resurrection?   Who told you about His mercy and His forgiveness of sins; about heaven and hell?  And more importantly, who have you told?

His plan is flawed, because it's based on us.  But it's perfect, because it's His plan.  Weak, self-centered, forgetful, error-prone humans.  But also sincere, and willing to do our best.  That's the plan.

~ "You who bring good news to Zion, 
go up on a high mountain.  
You who bring the good news to Jerusalem, 
lift up your voice with a shout, 
lift it up, do not be afraid" ~
Isaiah 40:9

Sunday, October 30, 2011

World's Greatest Brownies.... not

"love one another"
1 John 4:12

I'm thinking about judgment again today.  The other day it was on my mind, but from a different point.  I was worried about being judged, and that made me wonder if I'm too judgmental.  The lesson I felt God had for me was about how I view other people, perhaps too critically.  Today though, I was just worried about being judged.

Our church had a Harvest Festival today, and there was a bake sale.  I had been asked to donate something, and I'd been glad to agree.  But when the time came to bake, I remembered how much baking frustrates me.  I love to cook, but I don't love baking.  It's more of a science, and if it doesn't work like it's supposed to, I'm not sure what the solution is.  And it seems to me that more often than not, baking doesn't work like it's supposed to.   Either my oven is not true to temperature, or I should use shortening instead of butter, or my baking pan is glass instead of metal, or whatever.

I chose to make brownies, and I even used a boxed mix.  I'm not a fan of boxed brownies ~ they always taste like they have play-doh in them to me.  I know.... weird but true...  But I do like Ghirardelli brownies. Just add some oil, some water and an egg.  Bake the instructed amount of time, and done deal, right?  Nope.  I test them, and they're not done all the way, so I have to give them a few more minutes, and them test them again and then a few more minutes and then test them again.  Do brownies keep cooking for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven?  No idea.  Do I need to let them cool completely before I cut them?  No idea.   See how much I don't know?

And then the worst:  After I cut them (and they don't seem totally done to me.  Good enough, but really very moist in the middle.  How moist is too moist?  No idea.) I need to somehow wrap them.  I did brownies so that I could bag them in batches, and then the church would have several of them, instead of  just one batch.   So now what?  Small paper plates?  All I had was paper plates with a watermelon design, which is not very Autumn-y.  So that's out.  But I did have some decorative cellophane bags.  I used those, and they were fine, I guess, but putting four or five brownies in these bags just somehow looked... pitiful.  In my mind's eye, it looked enticing, but when they were done, I was just sure they were going to be the saddest thing on the table.  There are some really good bakers at our church!

And to me, they were indeed sad-looking.  I was at the opposite end of the Harvest Festival, helping out at the food table, so I couldn't be sure, but I know if I had looked, everyone else's would be gone, and mine would still be sitting there.

And just like the other day at my stylist's, I felt judged.  Again, there was probably no reason for me to.  They were just brownies.  Whoever got them probably loved them ~ kudos to Ghirardelli, not to me.  And it occurred to me that I was being far too obsessed with what others thought about me.   I once read a quote that I loved, though I don't remember who said it:  "You wouldn't worry so much about what people thought of you, if you knew how seldom they did."  There might be others who are better at baking, and presentation, than I am, but no one was going to look at those little gift bags of brownies and think condescending thoughts about me.  They were going to think about whether they wanted brownies, or cookies, or cupcakes!  But the fact that I was working in an area that's not my strong suit, was making me even more susceptible to self-criticism.

I'm remembering today that the only One I need to please, is God.  If I am pleasing Him, then He's going to make sure I'm able to be a blessing to others.  How do I please Him?  First of all, faith.  Hebrews 11:6 says, "Without faith it is impossible to please Him... He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Also, loving our neighbor.  1 John 3 says "we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.  And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us."  And loving His Word.  Psalm 1:  "Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law day and night."  Surely this knowledge can keep me so busy that I don't have time to worry about brownies!

I need to be worried about far less than I think I need to be worried about.  Today, He keeps bringing back to my mind the conclusion that Solomon came to, in Ecclesiastes 12:  "Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all."  Fear Him in love, and keep His commandments.
This is my all.

~ "To the person who pleases Him, 
God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness" ~
Ecclesiastes 2:26

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Accentuate the Positive

"whatever things are pure, 
whatever things are lovely..."
Philippians 4:8

Man, I love autumn.  The little chill in the air... pulling the warm, snuggly clothes out of the back of the closet... the colors of the trees... casseroles and soups and hot chocolate and that cozy feeling that home has on autumn evenings...

But man, do I hate Halloween.  Blood and death and evil.  It's a celebration, really, of so many things that are not fit to be celebrated.   I used to like Halloween.  When I was younger, and even when my kids were younger.  It's so much fun for kids to dress up, and halloween sometimes allows for more elaborate costumes than just the games of imagination that kids play on an average day.   Plus, there's the candy.  Even as a grownup, aware of things like cavities, and weight gain, and diabetes, I appreciate a little candy now and then.  Plus you get a variety of candy.  You can't do that, even as as grown up, without buying a ton, and keeping it in your pantry so you're prepared for any candy urge you might have.

So, we've got candy, and the fun of dressing up.  Princesses, cowboys, FBI agents, fairies.... I've seen all of those.  And don't forget falling leaves, and carving jack-o-lanterns, and caramel apples and pumpkin seeds and candy corns....

And yet, everywhere I look, I seem to see ghosts, and skeletons, and bloody axes, and wicked witches and tombstones and zombies and ghouls of varying description.   It makes me sad.  I'll never understand why anyone would want to spend any more time thinking of unpleasant things than they absolutely have to, when there are so many pleasant things to think of.

Autumn was God's idea.  So was imagination.  And sugar ~ in moderation.  And every year my family focuses our thoughts on these fun aspects of this time of year.  Beauty and love and kindness are everywhere, but they often seem drowned out by the negative in the world.  We have to work to focus on the pure and lovely.  But there are plenty of them.   Think on these.

~ "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, 
whatever things are noble, 
whatever things are just, 
whatever things are pure, 
whatever things are lovely, 
whatever things are of good report,
 if there is any virtue, 
and if there is anything praiseworthy... 
think on these things" ~
Philippians 4:8

Friday, October 28, 2011

Judging Judy. Or Emily. Or Debbie. Or whoever we're with...

"you too will be judged"
Matthew 7:1

I took my Awesome Girl for a haircut today.  It's been awhile since either of us got a haircut.  It's one of the things we've been cutting back on (so to speak) during these lean times.  But her hair was driving her crazy ~ probably most of you know what that's like ~ so I'd made an appointment for her.

The appointment was for this morning, and I slept later than I normally do.  I'm pretty regular in my gettin-up time (was that a song?  Gettin-Up Time?  All of a sudden that's ringing a bell.  Maybe something when my kids were little.  I dunno...)  Anyhow, I get up at almost the same time every day, without the benefit of an alarm, but once in awhile, I think my body catches up on my sleep.

So while we weren't in a rush, I really only had time to get dressed, have some breakfast, tidy my hair and dust a little powder on my face.  I looked fine, but I didn't look my best.  And normally that wouldn't bother me for just running errands, but this was different.  Cuz the stylist that cuts my daughter's hair is my stylist, too.   So I was very aware that my hair didn't look great.  Plus, I've been cutting my own bangs for the past few months.  Stylists hate that...  Does yours offer to cut yours for free, if you'll just come in?  Mine does.  But going in just for that seems like such a big deal....  I guess I should really think about that, though....

Obviously I felt my hair was decent enough for me to be seen in public, but I was embarrassed that my stylist (is that the right word?  That sounds so fashionista.  All she does is cut my hair.  I don't even have her dry it, much less style it.  But calling her "my hair-cutter" doesn't right.  What?  I'm over-analyzing?  Yeah, I do that sometimes...)  Anyhow, I was embarrassed that someone that knows a lot about hair, was seeing my hair at less than its best, and I was worried that she'd judge me.

I have no reason to think she would, really.  Even when I go in for an appointment, and it's obvious to her that I've been trimming my own bangs, she never says a thing.  Generally I'll say, "Sorry.  I caved and cut my bangs myself."  And she'll quietly say, "I know."  But that's it.  She's a very sweet, very nice gal.  And I love how well she trims my sometimes-curly-sometimes-wavy-always-with-a-mind-of-its-own hair.

But judgment is a tricky thing.  It is so easy for us to judge others.  Especially in areas where we excel.  Is it just about noticing things that we are interested in?  Or are we trying to make ourselves feel better about ourselves, by pointing out to ourselves (or to others) the things that are wrong with the people around us?   My fear that I'm being judged makes me wonder if I'm too judgmental.  Matthew 7:2 says, "in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  That ought to make us nervous.  It ought to make us think twice about analyzing, or coming to conclusions on others.

I know that God is the ultimate Judge.  James 4:12 says "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy.  But you - who are you to judge your neighbor?"  I probably would do better to think less about what others think of me, and more about how pleased ~ or displeased ~ He is with me.

~ "Examine me, O Lord, and prove me;
try my mind and my heart" ~
Psalm 26:2

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If a miracle falls in the forest.....

"miracles that cannot be counted"
Job 9:10

I prayed an interesting prayer the other night.  I didn't even really mean to, it just happened.  A friend of mine was having to do some public speaking, not for the first time.  But she's been bothered lately by headaches, so I was praying for her at the time I knew she'd be speaking.  She's comfortable speaking in public, so my prayers weren't really about that, but about her headaches.  I was praying that she wouldn't be distracted by a headache, and that it wouldn't affect her in such a way as to be a distraction to her listeners.

And the prayer that surprised me was this:  I prayed that she wouldn't have a headache, and I volunteered to have a headache instead.  ??   What does that even mean?  It's not like God has a certain number of headaches to assign at any given time, and He's got to give them to someone.   Why not just pray that she doesn't get a headache?  But, you know, you just can't help what pops into your head sometimes...

So that was my prayer, and it was sincere, though it sounded silly to me right after I prayed it.  And I imagined talking to her later, and asking her how it went.  "Well?  And? Did you have a headache??"  And then I imagined her response:  "Oh, hmm.... I guess not.... I really didn't notice."  And then I'd be thinking, "Are you kidding??  I took your headache for you, even though I had something to do that night!  I had a headache, so that you wouldn't have to!"  And then I'd be incredulous that she was a participant in a miracle, and didn't even notice!!

Cuz really, that's the kind of gal she is.   She's sort of oblivious sometimes, ya know?  But it's okay.  She wears it well...   But I found myself thinking about the concept of a "wasted miracle".  Wouldn't that be sad to receive a miracle, and not even be aware of it?  If a miracle happens, and no one notices, is it still a miracle?

Well, I think the answer to that question is "yes".  To explain why, let's look at the definition of miracle.  The first definition is "a surprising and welcome event not explained by natural or scientific laws".  By that definition, it would seem that it has to be noticed.  Someone has to be surprised or glad about the event, and then they have to try to explain it, and fail.

But then look at the second definition:  "a highly improbable or extraordinary event that brings very welcome consequences." This one used the word "consequences".  And there's the rub.  Because often, when we see great consequences, we find other reasons to explain it.   Some miracles are too easy to explain away.  If my friend didn't have a headache, and I had one, she wouldn't think, and there'd be no way to prove, that I had hers.  She'd just think this happened to be a night where she didn't have a headache.   We don't think about the "why" when we're focused on consequences.  We just are glad it worked out the way we wanted it to, or we think it's only what we deserved.  I think kids are good examples of this.  Clean laundry appears on their bed, and until they are older, they don't even think about how it got there, much less appreciate that someone has worked to make it happen.

I shudder to think of how many miracles He has given me, that I have not been aware of.  Because I do believe that He performs miracles knowing full well that they are going to go unappreciated.  If my occasionally oblivious friend is guilty of it, then so am I.  Scripture talks about asking forgiveness for unwitting sins ~ sins we're not aware of.  But I think maybe I should be thankful ~ outwardly so ~ for miracles I'm unaware of, too.

Wait!   Look at that!  Is that one?  Hmm.....   :)

~ "Always give thanks to God the Father 
for everything" ~
Ephesians 5:20

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A win-win situation

"Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done"
Matthew 6:10

Would you believe I've learned another lesson from baseball?  I must love that sport more than I think.  Or, I love it as much as I think I do, there's just more to learn from it than I thought...

This time, though, my lesson is not from my Amazing Boy's little league, it's from the big boys.  Major League Baseball.  Cuz it's World Series time!  Nothin' better than October baseball!  Yup... the Fall Classic.  Always enjoyable, no matter who is playing, cuz it's excellent baseball.

But I'm really enjoying it this year, because I love these two teams.  The Texas Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals.  Neither of them is "my" team, but they are two of my favorites.  I don't think I've ever before wanted a World Series to go the full seven games.  If it's my team playing, then I want my team to win ~ as soon as possible.  I don't want to have to be nervous, so I'm hoping for a four-game sweep for my team.  If it's not my team, then I just pick a winner, and root for them, and however long it goes, and whoever wins, then, oh well.

But this year I'm hoping it will go the full seven games, so that I can enjoy as much baseball as possible before the off-season begins.  And here's the best part:  I want either team to win.  Now, that's not the same as, "I don't care who wins."  I do care.  No matter which team wins, it will mean that one of my favorite teams won the World Series!  I can't lose!

And I think that this is exactly how God wants us.  Not about baseball, though ~ about life.   Most of us who love the Lord say we want His will.  But how often do we, really?   I think most of the time, we want our will, and we hope it's His.  We tend to make plans, and then ask Him to bless them.  But I've got this attitude toward the World Series:  "I'll be happy either way."  Now, wouldn't God just love it if I said that to Him?  Not just, "I'll accept Your decision, whatever it is," but "I'll will be equally excited no matter what happens in this situation.  You go, God!"

To be honest, I don't know how to do that.  There's no switch I can flip to make this change in my heart and mind.  But wanting to be like that is half the battle.  That's my half.  Cuz it's all about willpower.  My will, and His power.

~ "May God fill you with the knowledge of His will,
through all the wisdom and understanding 
that the Spirit gives" ~
Colossians 1:9

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Leading with Love

"the greatest of these is love"
1 Corinthians 13:13

Have you had to "fill someone's shoes" ?  Take the place of, or succeed, someone very successful?  It's not easy.  I think there's a tendency at the very least, to compare yourself to the standard of whoever you're following.  Even worse, you might try combining the best qualities of that person with your best qualities, which seems like a good idea, but then you get someone who's neither person.  Worst of all, is to try to be that other person.  It ain't gonna work.

This was the position Joshua was in upon the death of Moses.  Though Moses had his failures and his flaws, he was an eminently qualified leader, and I'm sure, was not an easy act to follow.  We see Joshua succeeding Moses, in the first chapter of the Book of Joshua, but the process actually began quite a bit earlier.  In Numbers 27, Moses went to the top of Mount Abarim, at God's command, and looked down on the Promised Land.  They were getting close.  And the Lord reminded Moses that he would not be allowed to enter, because of his sin against God.  And Moses, upon being reminded of this punishment, has a wonderful response.  The response of a shepherd.  He asks the Lord to appoint another leader over the children of Israel.  He asks God to not leave them on their own.  "Let the Lord... set a man over the congregation, who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like a sheep which have no shepherd."

Moses knew what was ahead for the Israelites.  He had been leading these people for forty years, and he knew what his successor would be getting into.  His successor would need to be a qualified commanding general, for there would be battles a-plenty once the Israelites reached the Promised Land.   He would also need to be a competent administrator, delegating authority and fairly adjudicating disagreements.  But more important than either of these roles, he would need to be, as Moses prayed, a shepherd.

Playing more than one role is not easy.  Most of us know that.  We wear countless labels and hats, from "parent" to "spouse" to "PTA Chairman" and "Coach".   Some of the things we do, we may excel at, have planned on, or studied for.  But others we have simply stumbled into.  And it's not easy to juggle priorities.  Especially when our priorities conflict with God's priorities.  So it's important to know what His priorities are.

And that takes us to 1 Corinthians 13:13.  "These things remain," He says, "faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love."  Love calls on us to be patient and kind; to not envy, nor boast, nor be prideful.  It does not allow us to dishonor others, nor seek our own best; to neither be easily-angered, or hold a grudge.   Love requires us to always protect, always trust, always persevere.

You might be a great leader, or a great administrator; a great speaker or a great writer, but without love, you are nothing.

~ "Though I speak with the tongues
 of men and of angels, 
but have not love, 
I have become sounding brass
 or a clanging cymbal.  
And though I have the gift of prophecy, 
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, 
and though I have all faith, 
so that I could remove mountains, 
but have not love, 
I am nothing." ~
1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sitting in the sun, thinking about the Son

"the Lord God is a sun and shield"
Psalm 84:11

This day started off as my favorite kind of weather ~ foggy, gloomy and chilly  :)   We don't get that kind of day very often where I live, so I enjoy them greatly when they come!

The view from my back door
So I dressed for cloudy and cool.  I knew it wouldn't be like that all day ~ the forecast was for warm-ish and sunny, but the morning was cool, and I knew it would be cold in church, so that's what I dressed for.

Sure enough, the weather was quite a bit warmer by the time we were done having lunch with my in-laws.  That would have been fine if we were going right home, but we had to run an errand first.  And running an errand would have been fine, but I chose to wait in the car with the kids while the Apple of my Eye ran in to pick up the part we needed to fix the washing machine.  And waiting in the car would have been fine, but there was a really long line.  And having to wait while the hubby was in a really long line would have been fine, but the car was in the sun.  And waiting in a car that was sitting in the sun, while the hubby waited in a long line, to pick up a part we needed to fix the washing machine, was not fine.   I hate sitting in the sun.

The temperature outside was not bad.  If I'd been sitting in the shade where I could feel the breeze, I would have been fine.  And if I hadn't had a sweater on, I would have been fine.  But the factors of direct sun, no breeze and dressed inappropriately affected how comfortably I could handle the situation.

As I sat there in the hot car, I got to thinking about relativity.  Albert Einstein once famously said, "Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour.  Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute.  That's relativity."  Any one of those factors ~ the temperature, the sun, the car, the sweater, the waiting ~ would have been no big deal, but relative to each other, it was uncomfortable.

So here's my point.  Anything difficult in our lives is.... well, difficult.  Headaches, traffic, schedules, dentist appointments, sick kids, overtime, bills, broken washing machines, etc.   Each one of those things is an inconvenience or a hardship that we have to get through.  And most of us have the inner strength to handle those things.

The trouble is when we have several issues at once.  Having to sit through traffic, when you have a headache, on your way to pick up your sick child, is a recipe for stress.  Now add to that, concern about a terminally ill parent, or a struggling marriage, or a rebellious teen-ager, and you might have a difficult time finding peace or joy in your life.

Everything is relative.  So if we want our problems to seem smaller, we need to hold them next to something bigger.  And that "bigger" is God.  He is stronger than our weaknesses; wiser than our foolishness.  He's got solutions to our problems, and for those problems He wants us to walk through, He is the source of joy and faith to get us through.  But you have to have Him in your life.  You have to read His Word to hear from Him, and you have to pray to talk to Him.

It's your choice.  Walk with Him, or walk alone.  But I promise you, your view of life will be better if He's at your side.

~ "The peace of God, 
which transcends all understanding, 
will guard your heart and your mind 
in Christ Jesus" ~
Philippians 4:7

Sunday, October 23, 2011

God is in the details

"their coast was from Aroer, 
that is on the bank of the river Arnon, 
and the city that is in the midst of the river, 
and all the plain by Medeba"
Joshua 13:16

Okay, I'm gonna need you to do me a favor to fully appreciate this post.  Would you please grab your Bible, or go online, and look at the Book of Joshua, chapters 13 through 19.  If you have time, read them through; if you don't, just skim them over to get an idea of the information being disseminated.  But please, go back and read them through later ~ there's good stuff in there!

Now, this section of chapters, as you can see, has a lot of words.  And those words are what some folks consider to be the most tedious in all of Scripture:  names.  Names of Israelites, names of enemy nations, names of cities, and geographical identifiers like mountains and bodies of water.  Hazar Shual, Sharuhen, Dabbasheth, and the Valley of Jiphthah El.  We can't pronounce them, we can't spell them, and most of them don't mean anything to us.

So why are they there?  Couldn't God have condensed this information?  Made it more manageable for us? We'd get the same message out of it, wouldn't we?

Well, I've long believed that I'm cheating myself if I skim over anything in Scripture, but that effort on my part doesn't always make it easy to get anything out of details like these.  Sometimes I do recognize a name, of a person or place, that I can connect elsewhere in Scripture,  but mostly I just try to appreciate that for some reason, God wanted these details enumerated.

Now,  I am slightly partial to the "begats".  You know, those lists of genealogy:  "Solomon, begat Roboam, who begat Abia, who begat Asa, who begat Josaphat..." (that portion was from Matthew 1).  I had a pastor once who made me see these names of children of God, as if He were pointing people out to us in a family picture.  Once I saw them as precious to Him, instead of just a list of old guys, I became more interested in them.

But listings of places ~ especially if they no longer appear on maps ~ and enemy tribes or pagan kings, have always been a little harder for me to read.  That is, until I studied this passage in Joshua.  This is the passage we are going over in my Bible study this week.  As I'm studying it, I'm coming to a greater appreciation of these details, for two reasons.

First, for history.  God knew that the Bible would not just be a book of faith, wisdom and guidance, but a book of history.  There are many things written in Scripture that are verifiable in other places historically, and things found elsewhere in historical documents that can be verified in Scripture.  Passages like this help to do that.

But I also am thinking about how important these details were to the children of Israel.  They made it very clear whose territory was where, and how far it extended.  Now, if it were you, wouldn't you be paying a whole lot of attention to the details?  We care about the little things, when they impact our life, right?

Case in point:  my washing machine broke a couple of days ago.   I opened it up, and it was full of water, and I got that dreaded "uh oh" feeling.... So I turned the knob, and started it from a different point in the rinse cycle, and then walked away to do other things, hoping the tub full of water had just been a fluke.  But the next time I checked it, the tub was still full of water, and it was starting to smell funny.  Fortunately there weren't clothes in it, just a bathroom rug and the dog's blanket.

So, I came in and told the Apple of my Eye that the washer was acting up, and we discussed a few possible problems.  All the solutions seemed expensive, though.  You know how it is:  even getting a repairman out to diagnose the problem is expensive.  So I went online instead, and found some information that might be helpful.  And it turns out that the problem is a switch.  You know how a washing machine won't work when the lid is open?  And when you close the lid, it pushes down on a lever?  Well there's something wrong with that lever.  And until the Apple of my Eye can get do a little exploring on how to replace it, I have discovered that I can make it work if I stand and hold the lever myself.  I have to hold it just so, using the thumb and forefinger of my left hand, and jimmying the lever just right with a chopstick in my other hand.  And of course, I have to stand there while the tub drains and spins.  It's even a little interesting (and a little painful) to stand there and watch the washing machine go through its motions.  And while I watched the clothes spin, I thought about things.  Like levers on a washing machine.  Buttons and knobs and wires and hoses and myriad pieces of metal.  Details.  Details that really matter to me, especially when one of them stops working.

The details in my washing machine, are part of the whole.  Valuable parts.  Most of them, if you showed them to me, would mean nothing, but without them the product is incomplete, and even useless.  But I found myself thanking God for these tiny details.

So, too, do I thank Him for the details in Scripture.   I might look at them individually, and wonder what they're for, what purpose they serve, but just because I don't see the purpose doesn't make them invaluable.  I can certainly trust the judgement of the Manufacturer who wrote the Manual, can't I?  I hope you'll join me in praising God for the details of His Word.

~ " 'All this,' David said, 'I have in writing 
as a result of the Lord's hand on me, 
and He enabled me to understand 
all the details of the plan.' " ~
1 Chronicles 28:19

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How beautiful are your feet?

"He jumped to his feet and began to walk"
Acts 3:8

Acts 3 contains one of my favorite healings in the New Testament.  There are so many different instances of healing, by both Jesus and His disciples, and a variety of methods of healing.  Sometimes it just took a word, sometimes a touch.  Once Jesus even made a paste of mud, and used that to heal a blind man.

In this case, it was Peter and John doing the healing, of a man who had been lame from birth.  Every day the man was carried to the Beautiful Gate of the temple, to beg for food or money.  When Peter and John arrived at the temple one day, he saw them and asked for money.   Verse 4 is one of the parts of this passage that intrigues me, for it says "Peter looked straight at him, as did John.  Then Peter said, 'Look at us!'  So the man gave them his attention."

I'm puzzled by this.  If the man was hoping for money, why wasn't he looking at them?  Or was that disrespectful?  Were the lower-class supposed to keep their eyes downcast?

At any rate, the man gave them his attention, hoping to get some money from them.  But instead, Peter said, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."  Then he took him by the right hand and helped him up.  See the interesting detail in this passage?   Why the right hand?  Does it matter?  But I love that it's there.  And in verse 7, "instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong."  Okay now this fascinates me.  Because every time there's a healing, we are left to wonder exactly what changed in the person.  When a blind man regained his sight, was it full sight immediately?  Isn't that really bright?  Or were things blurry first, or could they see only shadows for a minute or so?  We have no idea.  When the lepers were healed, did their sores fade slowly?  Or were they fully there until they were suddenly fully gone?  We don't know.  But here we know this much:  in an instant, the man's feet and ankles were different than they'd ever been.  There was strength where there had been weakness, when Peter spoke the name of Jesus.  And the man walked and jumped and praised God, and entered the temple courts with Peter and John.  Everyone who saw him was filled with wonder and amazement, but certainly no more so than the healed beggar himself!   When Peter saw how astonished the people were, he used the opportunity to tell them about Jesus, and about the spiritual healing that they ~ and we ~ are in need of.

But then, here come the Sadducees.  Peter and John were arrested and taken to jail, along with the beggar, who apparently was still with them as they preached.  And I'm picturing these guys in jail, and wondering about this poor man who had just been healed.  Peter and John had spent the past couple years of their lives with a Man who had no fear of earthly authority.  They were like misbehaving frat boys sitting in the dean's office yet again.  But the man they healed, what was he thinking?  I wonder if he was frightened, wondering how the best thing that ever happened to him could have landed him in jail.   Or was he defiant ~ a believer now ~ willing to undergo whatever might come as he embarked on a new life of following the resurrected Messiah?

But while they were being summarily thrown in jail, something wonderful was happening.  "Many who heard the message believed."  Please notice, though, that verse 4 (of chapter 4) doesn't say that "many who saw the lame man be healed, believed."  No, it says "many who heard the message believed."

My friends ~ others need to hear the message.  Being kind, doing good things, is not enough.  You might have heard the line, "Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words."  I'm sorry, but I think we sometimes use this as an excuse to avoid doing something that we're not comfortable doing.  There are times when words cannot be spoken, and yes, our actions should reflect our faith, but the gospel cannot be preached without words.  Love can be shown, and good can be done, but our actions give us the opportunity to be heard.  These people were listening to Peter and John because the healing of the lame man had gotten their attention.  And don't miss this fact:  these people are standing in the crowd, watching three men being arrested, and thinking to themselves, "I want to be like them!  What those men are doing has gotten them into trouble with the authorities.  I think I'll join them!"  Now that was a good message!

Do the good deed.  And speak the words.  God will take care of the rest.

~ "How are they to call upon Him 
in whom they have not believed?
And how are they to believe in Him 
of whom they have heard?
And how are they to hear 
without someone preaching?
How beautiful on the mountains 
are the feet of those who bring good news!" ~
Romans 10:14, Isaiah 52:7

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Wait" is a four-letter word....

"Show me... teach me... lead me..."
Psalm 25:4-5

I homeschool my kids.  And one of the reasons I love doing it so much, is that I love learning.  I love knowledge, and helping my awesome and amazing kids to learn.  Sometimes I'm teaching them something I already know, and I expect them to be just as interested in it as I am.  Other times, I find myself teaching them something I'm not very familiar with, or that I never really understood, and while I'm teaching, all of a sudden I think, "ohhhh....."  Believe me, there's nothing more exciting than learning right along with your kids!

So since I love knowledge, and learning, it follows that my favorite topic is God.  I love to read and study the Bible, because that's the best way to learn about Him.

But even though I learn eagerly about Him, there is still a lot I don't understand.  Why He does what He does; why He allows what He allows, etc.  I honestly believe that it would be a blessing to me, or to so-and-so in my life if God were to allow this, or if He were to orchestrate that.  Why doesn't He?

Why doesn't He fix this problem?  He can do it.
     Why does He allow that struggle?  He could stop it.
           Cancer,  joblessness, homelessness, divorce, addiction....

I know someone going through each of these trials, and while I have not heard them speak words or doubt or anger at God, I have frequently heard:  Why?  What is His plan?  I don't understand...

Psalm 25 speaks to these feelings, although I never noticed it before.  "Show me your ways, O Lord; Teach me your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me."   This is my heart's desire, and I know many people who feel the same way.  Eager to learn, desperate to hear from Him, willing to accept whatever answer or reason He'd give, if only He'd give one.

But then that word.... For after the words "show me... teach me... lead me..." the psalmist then says, "On You I wait all the day."  I read that today and I all of a sudden thought, "Wait??  For knowledge?  For understanding?  Is that what He means??"  And I realized that that's what He was asking of me.  To have faith that the knowledge, the understanding will come in time.  In His time.

I met this realization with a combination of frustration and acceptance.  Mostly because I know I don't have a choice in the matter ~ that's where acceptance comes in.  But the more I thought about it, the more I could see where trusting in His wisdom was a good idea.  After all, I would never try to teach my kids calculus at their age.  It would not work, and it would be cruel.  And even though my Amazing Boy's favorite subject is history, there are things that can't be taught until he's ready.  Years ago I had a friend who asked for prayer for her young son, who was having trouble sleeping, quite distressed because of what he'd learned about the Holocaust.  And all I could think was, "You taught a 5-year-old about the Holocaust??"  I'm sure she meant well, but it was inappropriate.  He couldn't understand the information, and it was a burden to him.

Some understanding I will have in time; other knowledge might be withheld from me until I stand before His throne.  I won't stop seeking to learn, but hopefully these verses will give me patience in those things I don't understand.  Yet.

"On You I will wait all the day."
Psalm 25:5

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Coming down from the Father

"He rained down manna for the people to eat"
Psalm 78:24

Recently, I was reading an update from the relief organization, Samaritan's Purse, about the work they are doing in South Sudan.  There has been civil unrest there ~ what a strange word "civil" is.... how can a word that means "courteous or polite" also apply to violence?  I know, in this case it means "occurring between citizens of the same country" but it sure seems like "civil unrest" is a contradiction in terms.

Anyhow, there has been violent unrest between the citizens of South Sudan, so thousands of refugees are fleeing from the fighting, and now have little in the way of food, water or shelter.  To make matters worse, it is the rainy season, and many of the roads have been washed out, so it has been nearly impossible for relief organizations such as Samaritan's Purse to get supplies to them.

So Samaritan's Purse found a solution.  They sent them supplies by dropping them down from a DC-3 cargo plane.

There's a lot to love about this solution.  I love that this organization even owns a cargo plane to use in situations like this.  It shows a great determination to do whatever is necessary to help people who need them.  It shows ingenuity in finding a solution to the life-threatening circumstances surrounding these refugees.  And I'm happy for the refugees, receiving much-needed food and clean water.  Look at their faces!

I just love picturing the scene when these crates of food, water, and supplies for building shelter, came soaring down from above.   It was such a beautiful reminder of God's provision to the Israelites as they wandered in the desert, far from a reliable source of food.

Now,  in a sense, this is not as miraculous as manna.  For instance, God told the Israelites not to collect any more than one day's worth of manna.  He didn't want them hoarding it; He wanted them to rely on Him.  And when they tried to collect extra and store it overnight, they found that it mildewed by morning ~ but not on the Sabbath.  Before sundown on the Sabbath, He did intend for them to collect an extra day's worth.  And that manna did not spoil.   Miracle.

This gift of food, from Samaritan's purse, was not mysterious.  The recipients knew it was coming, and even had to prepare the landing area, clearing away brush to make the airdrop possible.  But the effect it had for these suffering people, was just as miraculous.

It was a man-made solution.  But that doesn't make it any less "God-made".  We like explanations and solutions we can understand.  And frankly, we'd rather call something a freak coincidence than give God the credit ~ even the credit for inspiring and enabling humans to serve the suffering.  But James 1:17 says that every good and perfect gift is from above ~ sometimes even from a DC-3 cargo plane ~ and comes down from the Father in heaven.

Make no mistake ~ though it's been given to you by human hands, every miracle; every gift; every blessing comes from Him.

~ "Lord, when did we see you hungry, 
and feed You...?" 
and the King will reply, 
"Truly, I tell you, 
whatever you did for the least of these, 
you did for Me." ~
Matthew 25:37,40

Do you know all you have?

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
His love endures forever."
Psalm 118:29

I'm a bit of a "word geek," so although I don't remember doing it, I long ago signed up to get a "Word A Day" email every morning from the Merriam-Webster.  Sometimes it's a word I never heard before, which can either challenge me to make it part of my vocabulary, or cause me to think "Yeah.... I'm never gonna use that word..."

Sometimes it's a word I already know, but even that can be interesting, if I'm learning the origin of it, or learning an obscure definition to a word I thought I knew.

But my favorite thing is a learning a word I didn't know, for a circumstance I do know.  Like the word "tmesis."  I've mentioned that word before, but I'll share it in case you haven't read it.  Tmesis is what you call it when you separate a word with another word, like "that's a whole 'nother story" or "just put that any-old-where."  I read that, and I thought, "Huh!  I didn't know there was a word for that!"

Or just the other day, I got this fun experience again.  The word was: "hendiadys" and it means:  the expression of an idea by the use of two usually independent words, connected by the word "and".  Got that?  For instance:  "nice and warm."  That's hendiadys.  Or "good and loud."  "Sick and tired."  See?  Fun, right?  Are you saying to yourself, "I didn't know there was a word for that!"?

And then there have been times in my life when I needed a word.  When I thought to myself, "The English language is so lacking.  We need a word for that."  Years ago, when I worked in an office, I had a meeting to attend in a neighboring building in the complex.  I reported to work, then headed over to the meeting, taking with me only stuff to take notes.  I did not, however, take my coat.  And the room where the meeting was held, was f r e e z i n g!!  My hair was still slightly wet from having showered, and they had the air conditioning on, and I was ≈ shivering ≈  When the meeting was over, and I went back to my office, it took me several minutes for the chill to wear off.  When I had returned to normal body temperature, I was very aware that I was no longer cold.  It was such a nice feeling.  But here's the thing:  I didn't feel warm.  I felt not cold.  "Warm" implies a temperature a little higher than average.  I was just feeling regular again.  A wonderful sense of regular.  But I could only call it a feeling of "not cold."  I needed a word for that.

I thought of all this today, while chatting with a friend.  I was talking about how different my life feels compared to one year ago.  And compared to two years ago.  My sweet husband, the Apple of my Eye, has been one of those searching for employment for the past couple of years.  He's been working hard at  free-lance, and temp jobs, but nothing permanent, and no benefits.  It has made for difficult decisions, and times of anxiety and frustration for us.  This year feels different.  He's had a long-term temp job which is not a great salary, but it has been reliable for most of this year.  While we're still praying for something permanent for him, we are both less anxious, less fearful than we were at this time last year, and I'm so thankful for that feeling.   I shared this with my friend, she said, "There's a word for that feeling.... peace."

With that comment, my mind was off and running, and I started to think of other things that God's Word promises us... and the fact that those promises are mine, whether I know I've got them or not.

I am not hungry or thirsty or lacking a roof over my head.  And there's a word for that... contentment.

I have not been swallowed up by the earth or struck by lightning, despite my sinful, selfish, slow-learning nature.  There's a word for that... mercy.

I do not live in dread of eternity.  Jesus is my Savior.  On the day that I take my last breath on this earth, on that very day I will be with Him in paradise.  And there's a word for that knowledge.... joy.

Every day I can find guidance, wisdom and hope in His Word.  There's a word for that.... encouragement.

My life is out of control.  Well, it's out of my control.  But there's a word for that.... faith.

~ "Mercy, peace and love 
be yours in abundance" ~
Jude 1:2

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shoot, where did I put my sling?

"tending the sheep"
1 Samuel 16:11

Okay, let's play a round of word association.  I'll say a word, and you say what word it makes you think of.  Ready?

macaroni and ...... {did you say "cheese"?}

peanut butter and ......  {I'll accept either "jelly" or "chocolate" here :) }

Adam and .... {Eve.  Unless you know something I don't.}

Romeo and .... {I'm thinking Juliet, of course.}

David and .....

Yup, I've got David and Goliath on my mind today.  There are a lot of stories about David in the Bible, particularly in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel, but somehow, most of the time, when you think of David, you think of Goliath.  It's one of the first stories kids learn in Sunday School, and it's a visual that sticks with us for years.  It's also a plot that makes its way into movies and After-School Specials.   The pure-hearted, good guy vs the bigger, stronger, tougher bad guy.  What could be better than the hero beating the villain?  The underdog beating the champion?

It makes a good story to read of David practically coming out of nowhere.  He was just bringing his brothers some bread and cheese at the battlefield when heard Goliath challenging the Israelite warriors.  None would take him on, so David did.

The wonderful thing is, this wasn't the "unexperienced fighter/shepherd boy" vs "seasoned professional warrior" battle that we were taught when we were kids.  No, David had never fought a battle.  But God had been preparing him for this day for a long time.  For David was a shepherd.

We tend to think of shepherding as a romantic occupation.  Gentle and pastoral, loving and guiding those fluffy, adorably-dumb creatures.  But shepherding is also protecting.  David had killed both a lion and a bear, in protecting his sheep, and maybe those instances had been about protecting his own life, too.   He didn't know anything about Goliath in his future.  He just did what needed to be done, when it needed to be done, and it prepared him.

I thought of this story today, as I chatted with my Amazing Boy.  I asked him how his baseball practice had gone, and he said he had fun, except for the part when they were fielding.  Coach was hitting balls to them, and hitting them, as my boy said, "way too hard!"  He says none of the teams they play have anyone who can hit that hard, so why should they have to practice catching balls that hard?   Sometimes it even hurts to catch a ball that's hit that hard!

Well, it very well might hurt, but I'm not sure it's possible to train too hard for something.  I believe that God wastes nothing, so everything we face in our lives just might be strengthening us for something else.  David wasn't just killing a lion, he was practicing for Goliath.  My son isn't just taking fielding practice, he is preparing for tough competition.   You are not just "stuck with" that annoying co-worker, or "putting up with" that boring job, or "battling" that circumstance.  You are being prepared, strengthened or equipped for what's down the road.  

I hope that's encouraging news, not daunting.  Right now you only have to deal with right now.  Do your best with what's in front of you, but trust Him.  Know that He allows nothing to come your way that is not for your good, and His glory.   So batter up!

~ "The battle belongs to the Lord" ~
1 Samuel 17:47

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Where, oh Where?

"From that time, 
many of His disciples went home, 
and no longer followed Him.  
Then Jesus said to the twelve, 
'Do you also want to leave?'  
But Simon Peter answered Him, 
'Lord, where would we go?' "
John 6:66-68

The disciples that ceased following Him, did so because His teaching was too hard.  They could not understand it.  They could not accept it.  But Peter's response to Jesus' question is a point well-taken.  If he ceased from following Jesus, where would he go?

I do not always understand the path God has chosen for my life.  And sometimes it seems too hard.  But I cannot cease from following Him.  Where would I go?

God is asking me to serve Him in many different areas of my life.  Sometimes, I feel He is asking me to use talents or skills that I don't feel that I have.  And sometimes, I am too tired.  But I cannot cease from following Him.  Where would I go?

God is asking me to watch someone I love walk through a very difficult time.  And I am drawn, by love, to walk with them.  It sometimes seems too painful.  But I cannot cease from following Him.  Where would I go?

There are things that I want to do, or be, or have in my life.  But God wants me to have His priorities.  It sometimes seems too frustrating.  But I cannot cease from following Him.  Where would I go?

He is love.  The source of grace and peace and faith and life.  Where would I go from Him?  Why would I go?

~ "Lord, where would we go?  
You have the words of eternal life." ~
John 6:68

Monday, October 17, 2011

Who are we that He is mindful of us?

I'm celebrating who He is today.... lest we forget....

He is Mighty

"No one is like You, O Lord; You are great, 
and Your name is mighty in power."
Jeremiah 10:6

He is the Savior of the World

"We trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, 
particularly of those who believe."
1 Timothy 4:10

He is the Sun

"The Lord God is a sun and shield"
Psalm 84:11

He is Wonderful

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called Wonderful"
Isaiah 9:6

He is Blessings

"the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the heavens above,
blessings of the deep that lies below"
Genesis 49:25

He is Faithful

"If we are faithless, He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself"
2 Timothy 2:13

He is Knowledge

"Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"
Romans 11:33

Praise God.  No really.  Right now.  Praise Him. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Unseen Beauty ~ Seen

"The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy."
Isaiah 35:1-2

I've recently been reading the autobiography of Helen Keller.  She was a remarkable woman.  She is truly a testament to what can be achieved in life, no matter what you have to overcome.

But I was especially impressed with how much she loved the natural beauty of the earth, which, of course, she could not see.  Here's what she said:  "It seems strange to many people that I should be impressed by the wonders and beauties of Niagara.  They are always asking:  'what does this beauty or that music mean to you?  You cannot see the waves rolling up on the beach, or hear their roar.  What do they mean to you?'"  And her answer was, "In the most evident sense, they mean everything.  I cannot fathom or define their meaning anymore than I can fathom or define love or religion or goodness."

I just love her analogy of comparing visible beautiful things to invisible beautiful things.  They were all invisible to her, but of course she still knew they were there.  There are beautiful things that are invisible to all of us, as she said, like love, faith, kindness.  So how did she appreciate things she could not see or hear?  

The explanation came later in her book, when she said, "Sometimes, it is true, a sense of isolation enfolds me like a cold mist... beyond, there is light, and music, and sweet companionship; but I may not enter.  Silence sits immense upon my soul.  Then comes hope with a smile and whispers, 'There is joy in self-forgetfulness.'  So I try to make the light in others' eyes my sun; the music in others' ears my symphony; the smile on others' lips my happiness."

Helen Keller found joy in simply knowing beauty existed, even though she couldn't see it.  There's a lesson there for us.

These quotes put me in mind of another literary heroine of mine ~ Anne Frank.  Want another take on the beauty of life?  This is what she had to say:  "In the evening, when I lie in bed, I end my prayers with  the words, 'I thank you, God, for all that is good and dear and beautiful.'  I am filled with joy.  I think about 'the good' of going into hiding, of my health... the 'dearness' of those I love, and the beauty which exists in all the world.... nature, beauty and all that is exquisite and fine.  I don't think of all the misery but of the beauty that still remains."  Amazing, isn't it?  But she continues, "My advice when one feels melancholy is:  go outside, to the fields, enjoy nature and the sunshine, go out and try to recapture happiness in yourself and in God.  Think of all the beauty that's still left in and around you and be happy!  I've found that there is always some beauty left ~ in nature, sunshine, freedom, in yourself."  

Isn't that remarkable?  And does it strike you that you are being advised to find beauty in nature, from a girl who could not go outside??  She had known these things ~ fields and nature and sunshine ~ but they had been taken away from her.  She spent her last years in prison ~ first an attic, and then a concentration camp.  But Anne Frank found joy in simply knowing beauty existed, even though she couldn't see it.  There's a lesson there for us.

See more than what you can see.

~ "The Spirit lifted me up 
between earth and heaven" ~
Ezekiel 8:3

Saturday, October 15, 2011


I had to wear my "back-up" jeans today.  I try to save my good jeans for when I want to look nice, and my hang-around-the-house-or-run-errands jeans were in the wash. So I had to settle for my old jeans; the ones I've hung on to "just in case."  But I kinda hate having to wear them.  They don't fit me that well anymore (they're a little too big, I'm happy to say) and the color has faded to a kind of sloppy look, you know?  And I thought, what a pity to have to put on the old, when I have newer and better.   This is true spiritually, too.

~ "You have taken off your old self, with its practices, 
and have put on the new self, 
which is being renewed 
in knowledge in the image of its Creator." ~
Colossians 3:9-10

 My Awesome Girl had to eat breakfast on the run today.  She had planned on grabbing a carton of yogurt to eat in the car, but we were out of the kind she likes.  She had to settle for the only yogurt we had in the house ~ the plain, nonfat yogurt.  But she didn't complain a bit.  I was proud of her for that.  She knew she needed nourishment for her morning, and this was the option she had.  So she ate what God provided.

~ "Your Father knows the things you have need of... therefore pray:
'Give us this day our daily bread'" ~
Matthew 6:8-9,11

I worked at Disneyland when I was fresh out of high school.  On the first day of work, I had orientation, and the first thing they gave each of us was a book full of everything we needed to know.  No matter what department you were hired for, you got the same book.  Information on how to dress, how to treat guests, the things that were important to know.   In the same way, the Bible is the book for all of us, that tells us everything we need to know to live a life pleasing to Him.

~ "All Scripture is inspired by God 
and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, 
for training in righteousness; 
so that the children of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." ~
2 Timothy 3:16-17

I have been blessed enough to have gone on a few amazing vacations over the past several years.  And almost every day, for some reason, I find myself fondly remembering some aspect of one of those vacations.   But if you asked me which vacation memory is my favorite, I couldn't tell you.  I have memories that fill me with indescribable joy.   I feel the same way when I think of what heaven will be like.

~ "Behold, a throne set in heaven, 
and One sat on the throne... 
and there was a rainbow around the throne... 
and before the throne there was a sea of glass, 
like crystal... 
the gates were of pearl, 
and the street of the city was pure gold, 
as it were transparent glass... 
the city had no need of the sun, 
or the moon to shine in it, 
for the glory of the Lord illuminated it, 
the Lamb is its light." ~
 from the Book of Revelation

Every day, you should drink, steal, swear and lie.  Drink from the "cup of living water"; Steal a moment to do something for someone else; Swear that you will be a better person than you were yesterday; Lie down at night thanking God for all He has done for you. 

~ I didn't create that, but I thought it was funny! ~