Wednesday, July 30, 2008

God's Guide to a Fruitful Life

Jesus told his disciples, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, bears much fruit" (Jn 15:5). As we go about our lives, carrying out God's plans through the power of His Holy Spirit, our lives will have significance, and two characteristics will become increasingly evident.

1. Treasuring God's Word in our hearts. When we value something, we think about it all the time, study it regularly, and learn all we can about it. By studying the Bible, we learn many important things about our God, including things about His character, plans, and promises. Regular Scripture meditation develops our ability to think biblically and it deepens our relationship with our Lord. One of the indications that we treasure His Word is a change in behavior ... decisions will increasingly be guided by His principles, and actions will reflect the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).

2. Adorning ourselves with kindness and truth. These two virtues are to be our constant companions on our Christian walk. God's truth has the power to expose ungodly attitudes and behaviors. When this happens, the presence of kindness helps to protect relationships from damage; it can also prevent discord and division in churches. The Lord desires for us to speak to each other in truth, but to temper it with loving compassion.

The Christian life is a journey filled with pot holes of temptation, sudden obstacles, and sharp curves of difficulties that are common to man (1Pe 4:12). At the same time, it is to be characterized by the fruitfulness that comes from following our Guide.


Here we are, another Wednesday. Seems the Wednesdays just fly by. Time goes by so fast. I didn't blog on Monday or Tuesday because I wasn't feeling well and just couldn't drag my body to my computer. I'm off the antibiotics as of today and I feel much, much better. I don't have that reaction from all antibiotics thank goodness. They make me ache all over like I have the flu and I'm miserable while I'm on them. I finally figured out this time, at M's suggestion, to try taking some aspirin for the aching and discomfort. So simple. Too simple for me to think of. Aspirin didn't get rid of the pain but it eased it quite a bit. The only thing I got done during the past 10 days was reading a few books and spending a couple days writing devotionals. I have ideas for two books but I just don't think I have what it takes to write them any more. I don't have the needed discipline to write books. Once upon a time, yes, but I think now they would just end up being more projects started and left unfinished and I have enough of those.

I had a great quiet time this morning even if it did get interrupted. But I thought I'd share a little of what I read. Streams in the Desert was especially good: "What shall I do? I expect to pass through this world but once. Therefore any good work, kindness, or service I can render to any person or animal, let me do it now. Let me not neglect or delay to do it, for I will not pass this way again." This was an old Quaker saying and it touched me deeply. I especially liked that it said to render these to any person or animal." Mrs. Cowman added to that a poem by Adelaide Proctor that began and ended with this stanza: "It isn't the thing you do, dear / It's the thing you leave undone / That gives you the bitter heartache / At the setting of the sun." These just really spoke to me today. Then Andrew Murray wrote: "We must not seek only the forgiveness of sin, but we must also seek the abundant grace that will help us to be victorious over sin and enable us to be fitted for the continual indwelling of the Spirit. We must earnestly pray that the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge will be our first priority in life. At the throne of grace we shall be rooted and grounded in that love. And having come to love God, that love will radiate from us and will reach and enrich the hearts of those who do not as yet love Him." It's not just that we make it a point to leave nothing undone in our day, but that we do them in God's love, from His throne of grace. That we mirror our great Savior to everyone we come across. Murray closed with this prayer: "Lord, thank You that I may live in Your everlasting love, even though I do not deserve it. Teach me to radiate this love to those who do not yet know you" (italics mine). We go this way but once, let's leave nothing undone and do all things in the love of God for His glory and in the strength of the Holy Spirit. Isn't it strange how books that have nothing to do with each other, and were my random choices can work in unison, bringing home the points to our hearts and minds? I think I would be a fool to miss the fact that God spoke to me this morning.

I have no plans for today. I have a tub of clothes in the dryer and will need to fold them when they are done. We're planning to grille burgers tonight for dinner and the only thing I will have to do is cook some french fries and make up some thousand island dressing. Can't have burgers in this house without the thousand island dressing. M has the patties all made up and in the fridge. He likes to take the meat and mix in chopped onions, a little seasoned salt, and Worcestershire and soy sauces. It makes the patties so flavorful. I'm giving away his cooking secrets here, I hope he doesn't mind. Oh well, it's not like this goes out to hundreds of people.

I'm going over to a friend's house tomorrow for lunch. She has invited several ladies over and it should be a lot of fun. I don't socialize much because of my hearing loss but I know I need to do more of it. Sunday afternoon there's going to be a wedding shower at our Pastor and his wife's home for a woman in the congregation and I'm going to try and make that too. I need to get out more and the only way to do that is to make the effort to go when invited.

I guess our small group will start up in a week or two. I'm looking forward to it but at the same time I've enjoyed the time away. Just one less commitment for a couple months. We had our quarterly business meeting last Sunday after church and for the first time I actually had a written report to give. I'm getting there! It just takes me a little longer than most people. But I do finally feel like I'm on top of the deacon board most of the time, which is a nice feeling. When I was first elected chair, I had absolutely no idea what was involved and whether I'd be able to do it all. But, with God's grace, I have learned as I've gone along and I've had a lot of help from everyone else. They took pity on me because they knew I had no idea what I was supposed to do as chair. Everyone has been so helpful to me and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

My scalp infection is gone but the condition is still there. I don't know what the doctors are going to do to help me get all this stuff, that is like dried white glue, off my scalp and out of my hair. But I can't wait to feel the air on my scalp again. I really do feel like I have a tight swimming cap on 24 hours a day. I guess it will eventually resolve itself. I'm just not sure I can go the distance without going crazy.

I've now finished Luke in the New Living Bible. What a great translation! It really is a joy to read. Now John awaits me and then it will be into Acts and the letters. I should have the entire NT read before too long. I'm sure I'll have it finished by Christmas. Hopefully, Thanksgiving or even sooner. I just never know what the future holds so never know how much time I will have to sit and read. Ah, my favorite past time. I was complaining about my poor reading comprehension a month or so ago. Complaining that for some reason I couldn't retain what I read. Needless to say, this was a very big deal with me. Well, Wilnette (Broken Vessels) prayed for me on my blog and the Lord opened up my mind and showed me what my problem was. I was letting my mind wander while I was reading. Very subtle. Until she prayed for me, I couldn't even pick up on the problem. But now I'm back to normal. It took a little work to reestablish the habit of concentrating on what I read, lassoing my drifting thoughts and bringing them back when necessary, but it has been marvelous to read and remember what I read. Thank you Wilnette, and thank you Lord.

I just checked on my dryer and it's about ready to shut off so I should finish this up and get it out before it gets any later. I couldn't blog earlier because our server was down. It's been down every morning for the past week or more. They must be doing some type of maintenance on the system or something. But it's always a bummer when it goes out. I know this isn't much of a blog but I'll try to do better next time. Until then...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dealing with Feelings of Guilt

Guilt comes from a feeling of responsibility for a certain act of wrongdoing. Certain convictions come from the Holy Spirit's efforts to turn us away from our sin and guide us to our heavenly Father. But it's important to note that not all guilt stems from ungodly behavior.

False guilt, which is not prompted by sin, can surface for a variety of reasons, such as disappointment in one's own performance, a sense of shame over past events, or criticism by others for unmet expectations. A pattern of rejection or abuse from childhood can also trigger this emotion. False guilt is a powerful weapon Satan uses to direct our thoughts away from God. As long as he can keep us distracted by these false feelings the longer we will stay alienated from God for a reason that doesn't really even exist.

Whether it's false or real guilt, the emotion of guilt itself divides our minds, drains us of our energy, and creates a sense of insecurity. If it is allowed to linger, we can begin to have doubts about God's goodness and His love for us. Depression and hopelessness may follow. To cope, some people develop compulsive behaviors in an attempt to replace self-reproach with almost anything more pleasurable. Excessive amounts of shopping, eating, television, Internet, and physical activities are fairly common ways that people use to try to push away self-condemning thoughts.

Dealing quickly with guilt is essential. We need to acknowledge the emotion to the Lord, and work to identify the reason behind it. If we've violated God's laws, we need to ask for His forgiveness and take the necessary steps to change the behavior that brought about the guilt. If we discover false guilt, we need to confess it and ask God to adjust our thinking on the matter until our perspective matches His. In either case, praise Him because He has promised to forgive His children's sins, adjust our thinking when necessary, and remove any guilt we may feel in the matter. God does not want us to live in guilt and He has provided a way for us to get out from under the feeling of guilt no matter where the feelings originate. In Christ, we can be "more than conquerors" (Roman 8:27) if we trust Him to set matters straight.


When I first got up this morning Hogback Mountain was crystal clear and now I see that a slight haze of smoke has moved into the area. I will certainly be happy when the firefighters get the fires put out here in California. They are making great progress and I take my hat off to them for all their skill and hard work. It's amazing that puny Man can extinguish a forest fire in the first place. With flames reaching 200 feet in the air it's amazing that we can take a stand against it and actually win the battle given enough time. Yesterday's high wasn't too bad and I hope today's won't be either. I really have problems with the heat. I don't like it at all.

My Portulaca is blooming like crazy out on the deck. I was amazed at the variety of colors this morning when I had my quiet time with the Lord. And one plants puts out so many different colored flowers. But they are just beautiful out there. My Marigold and Petunia are going strong too. I watered them when we got home from the barbecue last night because I hadn't watered them the night before so I was sure they could use the moisture. I can't believe I actually have flowers. We've been here seven years and this is the first year that anything has lived in that hot, hot sun. I'm very grateful to M for finding the portulaca. And I had been a tad disappointed when he had brought home the portulaca because I wanted pansies. Now I'm so happy with my flowers. I still have two plants out front at the corner of the garage that seem to survive every year but these are the first flowers on the deck we've ever had and it's amazing the transformation that has taken effect out there on the deck where we have our chairs arranged just by their blooms.

I have one chapter to read in The Holy Spirit and then I will finish up a few other things and then move into Beth Moore's book. This last half of Billy Graham's book on the Holy Spirit has been a pleasure to read. The first half dealt with all the technical aspects and that was a bit of a struggle to wade through. Then once that was all out of the way I was able to kick back and enjoy the rest of the book. I still have another free book coming in the mail and I can't for the life of me remember what it's about. Guess I'll have to wait until it gets here, won't I.

The barbecue at church last night was really nice. And what a turn out! There were so many people that we were scrounging around to get enough tables set up so everyone could sit down and eat. M and I had a great time. Heartstrings (violins and keyboard) gave us some old songs and everyone who could remember the words sang along with the music. The patio where we had the event is just such a nice area. It is almost completely shaded from the hot afternoon sun by out big trees and the church building itself. It's a large area which is a good think since we had so many people there. We all sang happy birthday to Leo (his 56th birthday is today) and he walked around beaming because he was the birthday boy! I'm so thankful that the Lord has brought Leo into my life. He is such a blessing. He's always so eager to help with tasks and he does a good job at them too. He works part time at the grocery store doing janitorial type work.

I succeeded in getting my chores done this morning before starting on my blog so I'm not sitting here feeling guilty that I don't have them done. Last summer I was always so good to get them done before I blogged and this summer it has been quite questionable whether or not I get them done first. I do have responsibilities to take care of besides my blog. I still need to run the vacuum cleaner today. I'll do that as soon as I finish this blog. M's going to make Tamale Pie for dinner so I don't have to cook. His last Tamale Pie was so good and I hope this one will be too. We found some old meat in the freezer and needed to use it up for something. It was cheap meat and not good for burgers or meatloaf so we thought of another Tamale Pie.

My blogger is showing that the autosave has failed with my post so I have to hope that it will publish my post when I click on the icon. Last time I had a problem with my server, today it's a problem with my blogger. Seems like there's always something to question whether my blog will actually publish after all my time spent typing out my post. I'm going to cut this short and sign off for this time. M is working on a couple projects and he needs my help so I'm just going to see if it will publish after all my work. As I said last time, Life is a Gamble. Until next time...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

God's Plan: Take Away Our Guilt

The Bible says that one aspect of the Holy Spirit's work is to convict us of our sin (John 16:8). His purpose is to turn us from our guilty ways and direct us to God. From sin. To God.

Peter felt great remorse after denying three times that he even knew the Lord (Matthew 26:75). When confronted about his wrong behavior, Paul fell to his knees (Acts 9:4). Both men responded to these convicting experiences by repenting and following Jesus.

At one time we all were spiritually dead in sin's wake. Sin's presence was corrupting us from the inside out, blinding us to spiritual truths. With our will directed toward us and away from God, "we were by nature objects of wrath" (Eph 2:3). In other words, we were all under condemnation and facing eternal death, God's required restitution for our sins (Rom 6:23). So in our natural state, we were completely unconnected to the Lord and headed toward eternal separation from Him.

Although we were totally helpless to correct our situation, God had a plan that would satisfy the requirements of His justice and place us in the family of God. He sent His Son into the world to be our substitute, to carry our sin and guilt and to die in our place. Not only did Jesus pay in full the debt we owed, but His righteousness becomes ours at the very moment we place our trust in Him.

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our guilty standing before God, and thankfully we don't have to be separated from Him now or throughout eternity. Have you received Jesus as your personal Savior? If so, then recognize that your position or standing before God has been changed from guilty to righteous, having received our righteousness from Jesus Christ.


Hello, hello, hello, it's a brand new day with lots of potential. What shall we do with it? I don't know about you but I'm going to make the best of it. We had a wonderful afternoon yesterday with our oldest granddaughter and her Significant Other. They got here around noon and we piled in the car and drove to the pizza parlor and had a yummy, yummy lunch. Then it was back home for an afternoon of Mexican Train. (She won!) I came in third place. But then I made a couple really bad plays at the beginning. It had been so long since I'd played that I didn't remember to keep an eye on their trains. And then there was the time that I just absent-mindedly played a tile from the middle of my train. Duh! I deserved my third-place standing. It honestly took me about four rounds to get my brain engaged and running smoothly. Anyway it was just a wonderful day eating and laughing and having a ball. I love her so much!!!

I remembered my Wiersby study in Romans yesterday. He is so good at explaining things. I love his books. I also read the book of Mark in my New Living Translation. What a really great translation that is! It has quickly become my second favorite Bible translation. It is just so readable that you struggle to put it down. My plans are to read through the entire New Testament and then to start the Old Testament and read through it by this time next year. Which shouldn't be a problem if I don't tire out. With it as readable as it is, it's just a joy to spend time in it. I'm half way through my Billy Graham book on the Holy Spirit which means I'm coming to the end of all the technical aspects and more on into the areas in which He works in our lives and how He guides us into all Truth and influences our every thoughts and actions if we allow Him to. I want to get into Beth Moore's book on David but I want to first finish
The Holy Spirit. And I am enjoying my daily reading in Springs in the Desert. I had a nice Quiet Time this morning out on the deck again. The weather was absolutely perfect and Hog Back mountain was plainly visible except for a light layer of smoke in the air. I guess we're going to have to tolerate the occasional smoky days until the fires have been completely extinguished.

I have no real plans for today except to put my name and account number on a whole bunch of rolled coins and go buy some gas for my car. I think I have about $23 dollars in rolled coins in my
"found money" (money I find lying on the ground in parking lots, etc.) and then M brought out his rolled nickels of $20. So I should be able to buy more than two gallons. My trip in to see the Doctor last Saturday used up all the gas in my car. I'm grateful I had the gas in there when I needed it but it kills me that I used it all up just to go to the doctor! But I must always remember that I have been called to a life of poverty. The Lord always provides, Jehovah-Jireh! It seems like the more I give away, the farther my money stretches. But isn't that what He promises? I am here to tell you He is faithful. Out of my tiny disability money each month I am able to tithe at 11% of the gross (not a big jump from 10% but I'm trying!) and I have donated small amounts to three other ministries this month. And while I may end up rolling coins to make it through to the next check, I nevertheless have never been deserted by my loving God. He is faithful! That is my testimony.

I think my scalp is feeling better. It still has a long way to go to get back to a healthy state but I do think it's improving. I think the antibiotics are having a field day though. It's amazing how bad antibiotics can make a person feel. I was almost in tears a few times yesterday. I just ache all over. My muscles and joints are so painful right now. I have had this reaction to antibiotics before so this is nothing new to me. But between the aches and pains and irritated and infected scalp I feel a long way from good today.

My server is down right now and blogger keeps telling me not to publish because it will fail. I sure hope I don't lose this post. I will be very upset if I lose this post. I'm hoping to wait it out. To leave this up in FoxFire and wait until the server is back up before posting. But if we have a sudden power outage or some other little blip, I'll probably lose this post. Aw, life is a gamble! And wouldn't you know it this is an early post and it's not going to go out early. (Sigh.) I just thought of an illustration for the Trinity for all you bloggers out there. The Father is like the blogger. Always there and the very essence of our blog. Without the blogger there is no blog. Then the post, which is the body of our blog is like Jesus. He is our reality. And the Holy Spirit is like our publish icon. He makes things happen. Ok, ok, ok so it's not the greatest illustration. It's the best my boggy brain can do today.

One of my devotionals today gave a vivid example of weathering life's storms. They talked about the lift on an airplane's wing and about how it has to work harder to get lift from the wing when the weather is calm and they are flying with the wind. But during the storms and when they fly against the wind the lift is so much greater and easier. Isn't that how life really is. The more grace we need, the more grace we receive if we will look toward the Savior during times of struggle and when our life's storms buffet us around. If we can just learn to trust our Lord He will give us all the "lift" we need to make it through the rough times.

I really need to get in and do some deep cleaning around here. But I think I will wait until I'm off the antibiotics. The kids are going to drive over from San Francisco sometime during the next few weeks and I will definitely have to have it done by then with John's allergies. But this time when they come I'm going to suggest we spend a lot more time outside away from the cats so maybe he won't get so sick from them. Now watch it be scorching hot while they're here and it be too hot to sit outside. Today is already warmer than it was all day yesterday. So it looks like we may be going into another heat wave. I sure hope not. I get tired in the hot weather (it just saps the strength right out of me) and add that to how the antibiotics are making me feel and I'll probably be down for the count.

Tomorrow night will be our last Thursday community bar-be-cue at church and we are definitely going to that. I wish I had something to take to go along with the burgers and hot dogs. But I don't. I'd have to go to the store and buy something. I guess I could put less gas in the car and buy something to take. Hummm. I'll have to think about that. Well my server is back up so I'm not going to press my luck today and keep typing. I'm just going to sign off and send this before something else happens. Until next time ...

Monday, July 21, 2008

Obeying God

Peter, by trade, was a professional fisherman. He knew how to read the weather conditions, where to find the largest schools of fish, and when to call it a nonproductive night and pull in the nets and anchor and simply head home. Because of his expertise, he may very well have silently questioned the reasonableness of Jesus' instructions. I know I would have. Why let down the nets when an experienced team of fishermen hadn't been able to catch anything all night?

Sometimes our heavenly Father asks us to do what appears to be unreasonable acts. His request might involve your job or ministry that He had only recently provided, or taking on activities that will be heavy to your all-ready filled schedule, leaving you feeling overloaded, or he might want you to accept an assignment that someone else seems much more suited to assign. Perhaps God's plan makes no sense in view of your age, financial situation, or health conditions. Yet, because of the One who asks, it will be the absolutely right thing to do. Sometimes we have to choose between doing something that makes sense to us by our human standards or choosing to obey God in what may appear as pure nonsense to us.

The Bible tells us about many different people who had to make many serious decisions and choices of this kind. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. Noah was instructed to build a huge ark on dry ground (when it had never even rained before) because a "flood" was coming. Joshua was given a military strategy of marching around Jericho instead of attacking it front on (Josh 6:2-5). And Gideon, who was the least experienced fighter of them all, was told to send most of his warriors home before the battle even began (Judges 7:2-3). They all obeyed God and experienced the full brunt of His power released on their behalf.

We can't let human logic dictate whether or not we're going to follow God's plan. We must trust the Lord as Peter and these other faithful believers did. And this means trusting God even when the answers to our questions don't make sense to us. God longs to show us that he can be counted on and trusted to do the right thing. We stand around holding onto our unbelief when God is whispering, "Have faith in me." We must relinquish our grip and lean on the Lord. Obedience is rarely easy but it's always necessary.


Here it is Monday. Another week. They seem to go by so fast anymore. I got two books in Friday's mail and I've finished one and have a good start on the other one. I didn't have as much time for reading as I would have liked. I went to the doctor Saturday afternoon for the problem with my head. Or more accurately my scalp. I was told I had had an allergic reaction to a hair care product (don't know which one) and then the reaction got "horribly" infected. She started me on antibiotics immediately. Whether or not I will have any hair left by the time this resolves itself is anybody's guess. But the pain is much less intense. It still itches like crazy and feels like I have a child-sized swimming cap glued to my head. I washed it this morning with Selsun Blue as instructed (and now I know why it's called Selsun "Blue") and it just feels so tight up there. Maybe the shampoo will help reduce the itching. All I do is scratch open sores in my scalp. This is, by far I think, the weirdest thing I've ever had happen to me. Of course there was the time that the whole side of M's face swelled up and turned bright red and he was diagnosed with an "infected face" and put on antibiotics. I still don't see how a face can get infected. A cut on the face or an abrasion on the cheek, yes. But just to have your face up and get infected for no reason? Weird. Very weird.

It was downright cold this morning when I went out for my Quiet Time on the deck. I pulled on a pair of sweats and M's hoodie and headed out, brave soul that I am. I had a great time. I read my chapter of Proverbs for the day and then my two Psalms. Then I went to my devotionals. I now have three devotionals in the morning, the ones by Max Lucado and Andrew Murray that I've been using for the past month and I added the one I bought on Saturday at the Christian book store when I drove in to town for my doctor appointment: Streams in the Desert. It is an exceptional devotional. I know I have an old copy of that book somewhere but I couldn't seem to find it and I believe I've looked everywhere there is to look so I broke down and bought another copy. This one is an updated edition in today's language edited by Jim Reimann, the same editor of my updated devotional by Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. Reimann stays pretty much true to the original text but puts it in our everyday language. But for the record, I do read Chambers' original release too for balance.

I also bought a couple other books while I was there. I spent the rest of my share of President Bush's stimulus money. I bought Beth Moore's study on King David, A Heart Like His. She had done such a good job with her study of the Apostle Paul that I didn't have to think long to make up my mind to purchase the new one. And I also bought Secrets to Spiritual Power by Watchman Nee and complied by Sentinel Kulp. If you have never read any of Watchman Nee's books, it's something you need to put on your To-Do list. I have read The Normal Christian Life at least three times and am wanting to read it again. I've also read several other books by Nee but The Normal Christian Life is my favorite.

I just finished Created to be His Help Meet, by Debi Pearl. I have issues with an awful lot of the book but there were a few chapters there in the middle of her book that were so right on that I had a difficult time containing myself. I just didn't like the first few chapters and the last few chapters. The middle of the book was very good and I will reread it over and over to remind myself of what my God-given role in life really is. I was created to serve. Jesus said it is better to serve. So to that end I continue to relate to others and to my husband and hope that they and he will respond in like manner. I am currently well into one of Billy Graham's books that I got free and in Friday's mail. So I have lots and lots of reading to do. I am still rereading Weirsby's book on Romans. I forgot about it for about a week but I am back at it this week.

I also went by the Thrift store while I was in town Saturday and found six dresses that I liked but all six of them did not fit. I am so much bigger than my eyes and brain say I am. I quit smoking a year and a half ago and paid for it dearly by packing on 40 pounds! I'm hoping to lose it sometime when God says it's the right time. It was discouraging to realize that I can no longer fit into the dresses I used to be able to wear but I'd rather be overweight than be a smoker. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and as such I have no right to pollute it with toxins and wastes. Why it took me twenty years to come to that realization I'll never know except to say that in my flesh I am pretty good at explaining things away. The Bible doesn't say "Thou shalt not smoke" so it was easy to fool myself into thinking it didn't really matter. It does matter and I am thrilled that God finally empowered me to stop that filthy habit. I still miss it though and probably always will. Smoking becomes such a part of the smoker. It really is an extension of yourself. But all my life I have been skinny and my brain just can't adjust to the fact that I've put on a "few" pounds. M is going through old photographs copying them into his computer and I'm always so skinny in the pictures he shows me. Oh well, I'm also 61 years old so when am I going to cut myself some slack?

My son and daughter-in-law just stopped by for awhile. They had brought a DVD over to show us but we had watched it yesterday when our grandson brought it over. The DVD is a record of my grandson's jump from an airplane! I can't believe he actually jumped out of an airplane. I mean, good grief, this is my little boy, the baby of the family. But the little boy is all grown up. I told him yesterday it must feel great to be 18 now and not have to secure his mom and dad's permission to skydive. He just smiled. What a great kid he is!! Anyway it sort of spoiled my son's fun with us having already seen the DVD but we told him we could only get the visuals on the DVD, not the sound. So my son fixed the problem (something was plugged into the wrong hole in the back of the player or the TV or both)! No wonder we haven't been able to get sound whenever we tried to watch a movie. We just naturally thought WE were the problem. We never thought that John might have not put it back the right way the last time he played around with all our wires. He's usually so good to get things hooked back up the right way. So anyway, now we can use our player with sound! And we can watch that Denzel Washington movie we bought a few months ago and never got to watch. My son also fixed M's computer. I didn't know there was anything wrong with the computer but I guess M was having problems with it. My son is our computer tech support. He can do anything with a computer, and I'm not just bragging.

I have decided not to go out to get the mail today. I'll save the gas and go out Wednesday. It's not like we're expecting to get anything. Even all our bills have come in and have been dealt with so there's no hurry to pick up ads and fliers. And I don't have any other needs to go out for. My trip in to see the doctor Saturday used up any gas I had to spare.

It's getting late so I think I'll let this be it for today. I know it's not much of a blog. That I can find anything at all to write about in our secluded and sheltered lives amazes me! The weather has been nice the last two days. Unseasonably cold in the mornings but staying in the mid to high 90s during the day. I wish it were this way all the time. Earlier this month we had a day that reached 116 degrees! Now that was uncomfortable!

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Pure Joy of Obedience

An ordinary day turned into a great divine adventure for Simon Peter because of his willing obedience. He agreed to two seemingly insignificant requests which led to blessings for himself and countless others.

Peter had spent his night doing what he usually did: fish. But he hadn't caught anything all night long. After such useless labor, he was no doubt tired, frustrated, and ready to just pack it in and go home. However, Jesus wanted to borrow his boat so He could preach to the crowd that had gathered around Him. Peter knew there were other boats available, but Jesus has specifically asked for his boat and wisely Peter agreed. If you had been Peter would you have agreed? I would tend to do what I always do, I would have said, "But, Lord, there are so many other boats available for you to use, surely one of them will work at least as well if not far better."

God's requests can come when we least expect them and sometimes at the most inopportune times. We may find ourselves wishing that someone else would respond, thinking that it won't matter if Peter personally answers His call; just so someone does. Do you ever feel that way? I know I do but we must always remember that God's plans are always for our spiritual good (Jer 29:11).

Jesus' second request ... dropping down the nets one more time, involved Peter's livelihood. The fisherman in Peter replied, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets (Jn 5:5). Some versions have this "but because You say so." But Peter's obedience resulted in nets that were breaking as they overflowed with fish. By saying yes to the Lord's plan, he experienced both material and spiritual blessings which affected his colleagues as well as their families. The benefits, by far, outweighed any effort or inconvenience to Peter and his men.

Obeying God, even in the areas where we feel knowledgeable and skilled enough to handle the situation ourselves, is essential to enjoying His rewards and extending them on to others. What is the Lord asking of you today? And will you jump at the chance of doing something for Him, simply because He asked?


The skies were beautiful and clear this morning when I had my Quiet Time out on the deck. The air was cool and I could just barely make out the sound of my neighbor's lawn mower. I'm getting to where I really look forward to sitting out there in the mornings. I usually like to get dressed first but today I just went out in my pjs and M's hoodie. After my devotionals I watered all my flowers and refilled the hummingbird feeder. I was going to go by the Thrift store this morning when I went out to the Post Office, but I completely forgot all about it. I'm just in the market for a few more dresses. Especially those with the high waistlines. I think they're called empress or princess waistlines. But they are so comfortable with nothing binding around my middle. Oh well, maybe I'll remember on Monday or if I go out tomorrow I'll check out the store. But I have no plans to go out tomorrow or for the entire weekend for that matter except for church on Sunday.

I got two wonderful books in today's mail. I almost had myself talked out of going to the PO today but finally decided I should go and now I'm so glad I went. I will probably finish both books by Monday and then will turn around and read them again. I reread a lot of books.

Last night when I set out the cat plates so I could dish up their dinners, I absent-mindedly set out Pretty's plate too. I haven't cried since so I'm making progress.

We had a nice bar-be-cue last night down at the church on the patio. We all ate burgers and hotdogs and then sang praise songs for about an hour so it was a very nice evening. The young woman that I'm discipling had a few really, really hard questions for me last night. She definitely wants rules to live by and I'm not so sure I'm the one that should be discipling her. The hardest question was what happens to aborted babies. I didn't know what to tell her on that one. The issue is a passionately-debated issue and one that I haven't yet fully decided for myself with Scripture to back me up. So I had to just tell her the truth, that I haven't completely decided but that there had been the life of God's in that tiny, unformed mass and that regardless of what happens to aborted babies they fall under God's Sovereignty. I mean she wanted the particulars: Will they be fully formed in heaven? As an adult or will they stay a baby until their mothers get to heaven so she can raise them? You know, the difficult questions for which I've never acquired a solid answer and for which an answer may not even be provided. I just told her that it was all in God's hands and that I trusted Him enough to have faith that He will work everything out in perfection. However it all turns out, God is the Almighty and He deals in righteousness and justice in ways that we sometimes don't fully understand. But that our salvation isn't dependent upon whether or not we have the answers to all our questions.

Then she asked if we were all Christians, why are there so many different denominations. Great question, don't you think? Why are we so divided that we break fellowship?? I felt like I needed to apologize to her about that. Like it was partly my fault. I stated unequivocally that there should not be divisions in God's family, but in our humanness we fail. My biggest problem I have with her is her father! He taught her that only 144,000 people were going to be going to heaven, 12,000 from each tribe. I had to ask her if she was absolutely sure her father wasn't a Jehovah's Witness because I feel like I am going to battle against JWs every time we talk. I spend most of my time trying to right the wrongs her father teaches her. I wanted to tell her to stay out of Revelation and stop talking to her dad, but of course I couldn't do that. Just pray for her for me, my dear sisters. She is such a baby believer and she is grappling with unanswerable theological issues that are hotly debated by the best minds at seminaries. At times I feel like she got baptized too soon, that she doesn't even grasp the very basics of salvation and what her baptism really means. She's ripe for the picking for a JW.

JWs have all the answers. You ask them any question and they'll have an answer and a verse to prove it. All it would take is one visit by a couple JWs. They can so smoothly answer all your questions and they make it make absolutely perfect sense. The devil really did his work in the JWs. You know the saying, the best lie is one that has elements of truth it in? That fits Jehovah's Witnesses to a Tee. Everything they teach is an incredible, skillfully-crafted lie from the father of lies. And Christine is so ripe for harvest to them. Everything they do is wrapped up in rules and someone who wants rules is so easily persuaded by them. I just wish they didn't sound so much like the truth. But Christine's questions were all about rules. Why do we have pictures of Jesus when the Ten Commandments say not to? Aren't the Ten Commandments supposed to last forever, that's what the Bible says? Why do we show pictures of angels with wings when the Bible says they don't have wings (that one was easy for me)? She is still at such risk! She is in danger of falling victim to smooth talkers of any cult or denomination that preaches a salvation by anything other than the work Christ did on the cross. She doesn't want to sit down and have a study. She just wants answers to these questions. She wants a rule book so she can play by the rules. You do believe this; you don't believe that. And I feel totally inadequate here. Pray for me.

Well I'm going to let this be it for my blog today. I probably won't post over the weekend because I'll have my nose buried in books. Such a treat! Not just one book, but two!!!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Believer's Repentance

Our modern-day church places great emphasis on confession ... often at the expense of a proper understanding of repentance. While confession is mentioned only twice in the New Testament (NT) at James 5:16 and 1John 1:9, repentance is discussed much more. We must be careful not to confuse the two, because a believer can confess without repentance, while he cannot repent without confession.

It is entirely possible to feel remorse and confess sin, yet not change a thing. Repentance (sometimes known as contrition) means taking the responsibility for sin and committing to change a wrong action, attitude, or belief; this is absolutely essential for spiritual growth in our daily walk with the Lord. A true confession ... which means to agree with God's perspective concerning our sins ... goes together, hand in hand with repentance, because if we know God hates something we are doing, saying, or thinking, then we will stop doing what we are doing, saying, or thinking.

By means of confession and contrition, the believer will accept his responsibility for ridding his life of all sin through the power of the Holy Spirit and the free gift of grace. Jesus' available forgiveness shouldn't be treated as a "get out of jail free" car from a Monopoly game. We find that we must do much more than casually brush things aside and say, "Lord, I've sinned again. I'm sorry." Because while this is a great first step, to triumph over habitual sin, we must go a little further and choose to resist temptation and obey our God, as a conscious choice. Satan will keep pestering us, never forget that, and we may find ourselves failing again but if we are sincere and confess with a heart filled with remorse, we can confess and repent until our heavenly Father gives us victory over Satan. And He will do that as soon as the time is right.

Repentance is more than just feeling sorry or claiming weakness in the face of temptation. It's a condition wherein our spirits understand our Lord's grief over sin, grieves with Him, and then commits to changing a behavior, or behaviors, in order to please Him.


I have an idea for a writing project that's been kind of floating around inside my head all week and I'm trying to get it to stabilize so I can take a good look at it and put it to paper if I think it's doable. What I want to do is find a good way to teach the basics to the brand new child of God, one who's made the commitment, been baptized, and now awaits direction. Most often we concentrate so hard on getting that commitment and getting that person baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that we miss a great opportunity so get the newborn off to a good start in his or her walk with the Lord. Without that support, that nurturing, it is easy for the newborn babe to fail and fall short of a thriving relationship with their God. We all agree that something must be done to hold this new believer up to the Lord in prayer and teaching. Those of us who have been in the faith for many years owe it to the new believer to comfort and coach her or him along on their road to victory. I want something that will bridge the gap that lies open between conversion and baptism, and a mature living faith we all seek. Something that goes from the basics in this wondrous new existence to that of mature and settled Christians. Some people accept Christ and have absolutely no idea what comes next. Some of the things they need to know are so basic that we don't even think about it usually. Something as simple as the different parts of their own Bible. Do they understand the Old and New Testaments? Do they even know what the testaments are? Can they give a definition to the very word? Anyway, I've had these thoughts floating around inside my head for a few weeks now and I think I want to try to do something about them. I want to do something that will coach and support a new believer. Does that sound like a viable endeavor to you, my readers? I could use input here so if you read this and don't usually comment, could you give me your opinions in a comment? Or email them to me at This will be a lot of work to bring this about and I will get started on the project just as soon as I get a few opinions and have the chance to do a little more research on my own. As soon as I'm sure this is the will of God, I will move forward with my plans.

No plans for the day except to run out to the store for a few necessities. I want a nice, delicious, ripe watermelon. Doesn't that sound really good? I love watermelons and I haven't had a good one in a long, long time. Maybe I will check out the prices at the store when I go.

M and I watched a really sweet movie last night. (I can't remember the name of it but it was a western. It has probably been 10 years since I'd watched a western movie.) It was on the Hallmark channel. We didn't even know we had the Hallmark channel until a couple weeks ago. I think we're going to be spending a lot of time over there. It was so nice to watch an entire full-length movie and not hear a single swear word. That was so nice. I don't consider myself to be a prude; I'm just someone who doesn't swear and doesn't want to have to listen to other people swear in the privacy of my own living room. I don't want that filth in my house. And I'm really tired of COPS reruns and just about everything else. There just isn't any good TV these days and I'm all for the Hallmark channel or turning off the TV. (I've got to where I do that a lot lately. It probably drives M crazy that I keep turning it off, but I just get tired of the noise and any time he's not in the room I will turn it off.)

Pretty is still with us and appears to be feeling a little better. Wouldn't it be just great if she'd beat this thing? We've been expecting to get up and find her dead one of these mornings but she seems to be getting better as the days go by. I wish there were something I could do for her.

[Added on edit.]
I just finished burying Pretty. I think I saw the behavior in her that I wanted to see this morning. I think I saw what hurt me less. She obviously wasn't a little better this morning. Last I saw her she was in the dining room and when I finished this blog I was going to feed her her extra feeding I've been giving her lately, but first I wanted to run out to the store before it got any hotter. When I came home M met me at the door and told me that she had died in his bathroom. Well, it's over. Thank you, Jesus. She's not suffering any longer and that had been my prayer the last two days, that God would just let her die quickly and without pain. He is so faithful to us, answering our prayers when we come to him with our aches and pains and sorrows. Her grave is on the shallow side because of the layer of hard pan we have in the ground up here in the foothills but I dug it as deep as I could possibly go and then put the earth back over her and piled several large rocks over the grave. Michael wasn't able to help me dig but he took the pry pole (I don't know what else to call it) and broke up the hard pan a little for me to shovel and between the two of us we got the job done. I so much wanted her to pull out of this but I guess her little heart just gave out. I'm sitting here crying but I'm glad it's over for her. I'm glad she's in a world now where there is no pain and no struggling for breath. I just wish I'd been with her when she died. She shouldn't have died alone. Nothing deserves to die alone. I think I'm going to go take a shower and wash all the sweat off me from digging the grave. That hard pan is as hard as cement and it doesn't give much at all when you try to shovel it. But I think we got her deep enough. Then I came in and mopped the bathroom where she had expired and washed my hands really good. But I'm up for a shower now. I'm glad her suffering is over. I just feel like I let her down because I couldn't take her to the vet. Sometimes I really, truly do hate being poor even though I know I have been called to a life of poverty, but in my flesh I cry out and I don't like it when it's something like this. God is so faithful. He took her so she wouldn't suffer and He's giving me peace about it. There are differing philosophies and beliefs as to what happens when a beloved pet dies. I'm not sure which I believe and it's not all that important for me to know. What I do most definitely believe is that God sees my pain and because He loves me He doesn't want me to continue to hurt any more than I absolutely have to, so He does what He can to make things easier for me. She could have languished for weeks, but God, in His great mercy, interceded on my behalf and caused her to die quickly. Rest in peace, Pretty girl!

I went to my doctor yesterday afternoon to get reestablished with him (he had to take a year off from his practice and tend to some private affairs) and found out that he won't take me back. I've waited over a year to get back to him. I haven't tried to find another doctor to care for me with the exceptions of getting my meds refilled when I need them. I guess I will continue the way things are and go to the clinics from here on out if I get sick. Just getting my meds runs me $50 every 3 months and I don't know how long this doctor will agree to refill my prescriptions since he only took me on while "my" doctor was away. He's been my doctor for the past 15 years and I have been deathly ill a few times during that time and I'd sure like to figure out a way of keeping him but it was made very plain to me yesterday that that's not possible any longer. So here I am without a doctor. I will have to trust God to keep me well.

I think it's going to be hotter today. Yesterday we had 99 degrees but today feels like we'll probably hit103 or 104. We've got the cooler running so we should stay comfortable. The problem we were having were the hot nights. When it's too hot to sleep with just a sheet over you, it's too hot. Although I did wake up under the sheet this morning so I must have pulled it up sometime during the night. You know we're mid July already. Before we know it it's going to be Fall again. And then Christmas. Where does the time go???

This isn't much of a blog today, but I need to run my errands so until the next time...

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Call to Repentance

The Lord Jesus Christ said, "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance" (Luke 5:31). He was calling unbelievers to turn from their sinful lives toward a life of obedience to God. That is still His desire today. Repentance, which follows confession of sin, is a commitment to change directions and leave wrongdoing behind. This change of heart is a necessary step in the decision to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The Holy Spirit transforms the inner person so that the child of God has a new attitude about his purpose. And when attitude is different, conduct will be too.

It isn't long before the new believer begins to see that some of his former choices no longer fit his new life. He becomes sensitive to habits and attitudes that displease God. And when he discovers one in his life, he confesses and repents so the wrong does not hinder his relationship with God. The change takes place gradually ... we need to all realize that God loves us just as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way.

Some unbelievers refuse to receive Jesus as Savior because of an incorrect assumption: they think that all wrong behavior must be fixed before one can come to Christ and they realize, that left on their own, in their own strength, they cannot live a righteous life. God knows that new believers haven't the strength to make necessary changes so when He accepts us just as we are, He empowers us with the Holy Spirit and gives us the strength to make any necessary changes. For many unbelievers, making changes seems like an insurmountable obstacle to salvation so those of us who know the truth about repentance must take all available means to share the truth of the gospel with lost souls. They need to know that while changes invariably need to be made, God will give them the power through the Holy Spirit to make these changes. People don't clean up their lives before entering church ... they come to church "dirty"! It is God who does the cleaning of the heart, soul, mind, strength and spirit when someone repents. It is God who cleans us and takes us into a right relationship with the Father. Let us never forget that it is God who starts the work and He will bring it to pass, He will make us right with Himself. All we have to do is repent and make ourselves available to Him so He can make the necessary changes.


Today's air is much improved over yesterday's air. The smoke seems pretty well cleared out this morning. Praise God! Thank you, Lord for the breath of fresh air. Hogback mountain is much, much easier to see. Nice.

I have no solid plans for today. I'm considering going down to the church this evening (5:00-8:00) and work on the construction of the coffee house. I may be wrong and I sincerely hope I am but I think this coffee house is a bad idea. I just can't see a lot of people driving down to our church to have a cup of coffee. Even it it is gourmet coffee. Even if it is free. We've taken the old, old sanctuary and are in the process of remodeling it to house the coffee shop. I just can't see people having urges to go drive somewhere for a cup of coffee. Granted they will get their favorite flavored coffees but, like I said, I just can't see people suddenly saying "I think I'll drive down to that church across town and get a cup of coffee." It's a good idea. I just can't see it flying here in this town. I hope it does but even if it does, who's going to support it. The coffee has to be free or we get all locked up with governmental rules and regulations. Now that might be a draw, the fact that they won't have to pay for their coffee. Even so... I guess I'm a pessimist when it comes to things like this. I hope it works, it would be a great way to make our church more visible and to fulfill the community goals we've set, it is a "community" church after all. The more people become aware of us, the more people may decide to visit some Sunday during services.

Speaking of services, our Sunday worship time will be changing to 10:00 instead of 10:30 in two weeks. Children's ministry wanted to try to do something with their ministry for the kids. A recent survey showed that an earlier time works better. We'll see. We're willing to give it a try. I don't fully understand why they are making this change. I just know that it's supposed to be a better time slot. That will require me getting up earlier... well, no it won't either. I get up in plenty of time to make it to church. I'll just have less time for my morning quiet time on Sundays. But it really shouldn't interfere with my schedule all that much. I get up at 7:30 on Sunday mornings already and I can't see getting up any earlier. I'll just have 30 minutes less to goof around before leaving. I have plenty of extra spare time factored into my schedule already.

I have moved my Proverbs reading to my morning devotional because I think it will work better there. I don't want to complicate my bedtime devotionals any more than they already are. I will have more time in the mornings. And this will only be for the month of July anyway. It really packs my mornings but it's better than trying to cram it in at night. I already have three devotionals I use at bedtime as it is. And as quickly as I get sleepy in the evenings I just think it's best not to complicate things at that hour.

I spent a couple hours reading my New Living Bible translation yesterday afternoon. I really, really like it. It's extremely readable and conveys the message plainly through the Scriptures. When I first became a Christian (or actually immediately before) I decided that I needed to read the New Testament from front to back and I chose the earlier version of the Living Bible at that time. I can remember being amazed how readable that translation was. It gave a great overview. It painted a vibrant picture of the gospel and what it means for each of us. So I think I will reread the NT in the New Living translation in the same time slot I have for the reading of Proverbs now. I may see if I can squeeze in an afternoon devotional every afternoon before the evening news comes on for this purpose. The only problem I have is that the type is soooooooo small in this copy. I didn't want to put out a lot of money for another translation (I have so many) so I bought a cheap paperback version and it is written in 4 point type which is very small type and that makes it hard to read. I felt the strain on my eyeballs from what I read yesterday. But I think my eyes will adjust. Or I hope they will anyway. It's worth a little discomfort to read the Bible in a fresh, new way.

I got a little confused this morning and read two chapters in Proverbs instead of just one. So I will double read chapter 15 again tomorrow. Which is really okay because I've found that when I reread something it helps to plant it a little deeper into my boggy brain! I'm really enjoying the reading of the Psalms I do first thing every morning. It sets my day off on the right foot. Our "herd" of turkeys visited us this morning while I was having my quiet time out on the deck. We hadn't seen them for months. They don't call a lot of attention to themselves and unless you're out there really paying attention they can slip right on by you. If I hadn't looked up at the moment I did, I would have missed them entirely.

Pretty is still with us this morning and her labored breathing continues. Poor thing. I wish I could afford to have her put down and get it over with but we just don't have the money to do that right now. It's one of the reasons I hate being poor. I have to just pray that she's not in any pain. I don't think she is but then I'm not so sure I'd know if she were in pain. I know her breathing must be difficult for her but otherwise she seems okay. She's got a terrific appetite, eats close to two cans a day. But I have decided that if she has to die, she will not die hungry.

Yesterday morning one of the Psalms I read was Psalm 42: "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God," and pastor used that Psalm in his sermon yesterday. It never ceases to amaze me how often Scripture is reinforced like that. I will read it and then it will be brought to my attention in some other way within a relatively short time. This is one of my favorite Psalms. I had that happen with Jer. 29:11 (For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future) reinforced four different ways in a single day this past spring. So far that's my record. It's one of my favorite verses.

In my Andrew Murray devotional this morning I read: "It is a privilege to approach the throne of grace and an even greater privilege when we see the face of God and of the Lamb and walk in their light each day. When the name of Christ is engraved upon our hearts and our foreheads, we are changed to His image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord."

And Oswald Chambers wrote: "... when the person died who represented for me all that God was, did I give up on everything in life? Did I become ill or disheartened? Or did I do as Isaiah did and see the Lord?" And one sentence really caught my attention: "Over and over again God has to remove our friends to put Himself in their place ..." Do you suppose He means that He must always be first in our lives? I suppose that! We can't allow any thing or any one to take God's preeminent place in our lives. Not even our best friend or our spouse (who should be our best friend). God comes first. He is our goal and we risk injury if He is relegated to a lesser position in our lives even for a short amount of time. God must always come first. He and He alone deserves our commitment to love as Christ loves. He and He alone sets us free to be the children of God and the people of His gospel, His good news. And what good news it is! When the Lord is in His proper place in our lives, we urgently promote this "good news" to others the way that God has determined for things to work.

Yesterday one of my devotionals said that God doesn't need us to spread the gospel but He blesses us by allowing us to take part in spreading its wonderful message to the non-believing world around us. What a blessing! And isn't it incredible the way the same verses and passages keep repeating themselves in our lives. That's one way to know that the Holy Spirit is active in our lives, teaching us biblical truths. He brings Scripture up over and over again in many different ways. Those are times we need to pause and make sure we are hearing what the Holy Spirit is saying. He is bringing Scripture to life for us. The Bible does after all say that it's alive. Heb 4:12 reads: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."

What an amazing God we have! He leads us through this life and guides us into intimacy with Himself. He is our God; the only God. The One who was and is and is to come. The holy one. And He no longer calls us sinners because by the grace of God and through our faith we have been totally forgiven and have been reconciled to God as one of His very own children. We are saints, not sinners. We were sinners before when we were steeped in error and sin, but now that we have been set right with God, we have become His saints. Praise be to our God and Father... the holy One of Israel! That He saw fit to include me, sobers up my thinking. That He saw fit to call me to His mercy and grace through the faith that He gives, utterly abases me, bringing me down into reverence for Him and Him alone. He is holy God. He is like no other. He is God Almighty, Sovereign of heaven and earth. And He is mine. Yours too if you let Him.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Truth About Believers

People often tell new believers to "do the best" they can. This is absolutely unbiblical and a piece of totally useless advice. This is the kind of advice that turns us all in the wrong direction.

A believer is identified as a child of God. We have access to the Father, through prayer at any time, and we can have His full attention for as long as we want or need it. Can you grasp the magnitude of that sentence? We can have the complete attention of the Sovereign Lord of the universe who created everything that has been created for as long as we want. It sort of leaves you breathless, doesn't it? And what's more we have every reason to expect that He will stand faithful to every one of His promises. What's more, we are no longer called "sinners," because that's a term describing those who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. We've been transformed into "saints" ... holy persons, set apart for God's purposes, and by God's amazing grace. Saved by the grace of God and set apart by His command, we stand reconciled to God. Sin and temptation will continue to plague us for as long as we're on this earth but since our transgressions have been pardoned and set aside, our new identity as saints cannot change.

A believer is positioned in Christ. God's Spirit dwells in us so we can live righteously, as Christ did. When Jesus described this relationship, He used a grapevine metaphor. The Lord is the vine and we are the branches, connected to Him and drawing on His power (Jn 15:1-5).

A believer's mission is to reveal Christ to the world. Our vine is to bear in us the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). When our character and conduct reflect these aspects of Jesus' nature by the power of the Holy Spirit, we help others to see the beauty of a right relationship with the Lord. The truth about believers is that we don't have to "do the best we can." God works in us and through us, His children, to accomplish His purposes. That's pretty awesome to know that God uses us in His efforts; we share in His glory. Just as we are identified and positioned in Christ, so we reveal Christ to the world around us. What an incredible role we play in God's plan for this world. We are honored by our submission to the Lord and Jesus will use us to call the believing from the unbelieving. But it's important to understand that we aren't "winning souls for Christ." He does the calling, we're here just to support His efforts.


Once again we are blanketed in thick smoke this morning. I went ahead and had my quiet time and my coffee out on the deck but I didn't sit out with Michael and enjoy the morning. It's just too smoky and there's no sense in sitting out there breathing all that in unless you really have to. Perhaps the cooler temps over the weekend will clear the air for us for awhile at least. (I think they said on the news last night that it would be a little cooler over the weekend.) We just need the wind to blow in the opposite direction for a while and take all this smoke out of here.

It's only noon but Michael is out grilling Yoshida chicken for our dinner. He's grilling early so he won't have to be doing it during the hottest part of the day. Even under our big oak tree it is well over 100. We'll just eat our big dinner early and nibble on something later tonight when we get hungry.

For the past week, I have been suffering an allergic reaction or something on my head. My scalp is covered in red, itchy welts and so far I haven't found anything to help. I have a doctor appointment scheduled for next Tuesday afternoon to see if there's anything he can do for me. This is terrible stuff. It itches and drives me absolutely crazy! But the worst of the whole thing is that my hair is falling out at an alarming rate. I'm almost bald around the crown of my head. I switched to a medicated shampoo and that hasn't helped it at all. Also I've been rubbing a lot of psoriasis lotion all over my head before I go to bed at night and sleeping with it that way. Then in the morning, I shampoo it all out. I haven't gotten any relief for my efforts, in fact it could be making things worse. I've never had anything like this. I haven't even ever had dandruff. So I'm just flying by the seat of my pants on what I'm doing for it. It does look like it's going to take prescription strength something to make this better. I sure don't like my hair falling out and I mean it's FALLING out by the handfuls and the itching drives me right up the wall. I think I need a great big shot of steroids to start with. And then go from there. It's not just my scalp anymore. Today it's down my forehead and along the hair line all around my face. Oh, and behind my ears; let's not forget that it's all around on the the back of my ears!

My church had our Thursday night bar-be-cue last night and I forgot all about it. Again!! I was reminded when I tried to locate our assistant pastor, and his wife told me he was at the bar-be-cue. RATS!! I really wanted to go to that. I think that's the third bar-be-cue that I've forgotten about and missed. My sister always says if you forget about something it must not have been very important to you, and that's just not true at all. Not with me anyway because I have wanted very much to go to every one of these!

After we eat, I'm going to go do the mail. I did up all our "We Miss You" and "Thinking About You" cards for the church last night and I need to get them in the mail before it gets any later in the month. I think there were 16 cards if I remember correctly and I didn't have enough stamps so I'll need to buy another book. I could just buy a roll but I hate to put out that much money at a time. The only thing you save by buying by the bulk is convenience. And even that's kind of silly because I have to go to the post office to mail them anyway so I may as well just buy a book at a time. If I had home delivery and pick up it would save me a trip but since I have to go anyway I may as well buy in smaller lots.

Yesterday, out of the blue, it occurred to me that I haven't been doing my Weirsby study in Romans. That's the way my mind works. Forget something as if it never existed and then suddenly remember it again. So I will try again next week. And now that I think about it, this is Friday and I'm supposed to be fasting. But I can't fast today. It would kill Michael after him going to all the trouble to grille that chicken and corn on the cob. I think I'm just going to have to forget trying to fast on Fridays because I just can't ever seem to remember to do it. Maybe I should just fast on any day I think about it instead of locking myself onto a certain day. I think that would be better. I've also given up praying for my nation every night at 6:00. It was a great idea, and really truly a good one. But I've remembered to do that one time! One time!! But that's been even harder than the fasting because I'm not locked into a particular day but I am locked into a specific time. Now I pray for my country when I think about it. But I do get discouraged being so forgetful. And I've brought this up to the Lord so I feel that for me, for now, they were just additional clutter in my all-ready cluttered life and I'm better off just doing things when I feel called to do them. And God does call us to pray so I will lean on Him to be my guide.

The last couple days have been noticeably cooler with all the smoke in the air. We still got to 105 degrees yesterday but nothing like the 116 we were having. It has been much more tolerable. I hope we get out of this heatwave and it be the only heatwave of the year. We've only had one heatwave in the month of July for the past two years but they have happened at the end of July, not the start. So we still have plenty of July left for another heatwave.

Just took a break and feasted on our grilled chicken, corn-on-the-cob, and roasted garlic potatoes. Very good dinner. Now when we get hungry this evening, we'll eat leftovers. A cold piece of Yoshida chicken is a treat for the palate. M and I both prefer our chicken cold. It is all I can do to eat a piece of chicken while it's still hot. For some reason it triggers my gag reflex and I've never been able to figure out exactly what causes that, but that's what happens. I do indeed think cold cooked chicken is delicious though. (Lucky for me.) One of my favorite picnic menus includes cold fried chicken. It will taste so good tonight especially with a little side of Yoshida on the plate for dipping. That's out of this world.

I guess I should get to the post office before it gets any later. Pray and pray hard for the Gjerstads in Liberia West Africa. They are all over there serving our Lord in the field ministry and since they have been over there (about 8-9 months by my calculations) at least one of them has been sick. Of course that's more understandable when you learn that Dan and Stacy have ten children so that's just about right to keep something running through them one after the other. Stacy commented that Steven (visiting for the summer break) has been the only one that has survived any length of time at all, without coming down with something. Serving there without running water or electricity is hard enough. I just can't image the toll illness is taking on them. Like I said, I think they just keep passing it around and around and around! You can check up on them on their blogsite at ( I think). If that doesn't work for you, leave a comment and I'll research the blogsite and put it in my next blog. Okay, this is going to be it. See you next time...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

God's Loving Desire

Throughout the New Testament, we see God's universal call to salvation repeated a good number of times (Jn 1:12; 3:16; 6:40; and 2Pe 3:9 just to cite a few). While the call is universal our reply to it must be a personal decision about answering God's call. When He calls, it's up to us to accept His gracious offer.

Why would God care about us and want us saved? First off, He loves us (Eph 2:4). But it's critical that we understand that God's divine love isn't based on any worthiness in us; but rather, love and care for His creation is part of God's very nature. Another reason is that as His followers, we become "trophies" of the Lord's grace (Eph 2:7). We believers were once rebellious creatures, whom God transformed into obedient servants ... that's a change He wants to celebrate for all eternity. Finally, our good works glorify the Lord (Matt 5:16). Every single thing we do in His name increases other people's awareness of Him. For good or for error, we are living, breathing testaments to God's grace and sovereignty. Trophies though we may be, God doesn't just keep us up on a shelf to show us off. He takes us into His hands and forms us into the people He wants us to be: loving, faithful, and obedient people.

It's critical that we realize that salvation is possible only through Christ Jesus and no other name. He reconciles sinful people to Himself, holy God. It is Christ who reconciles us with the Father. It is impossible for us to reconcile ourselves to God who is holy. Isaiah 53:6 teaches us that we all, each and every one of us, are sinners in desperate need of salvation, and Romans 6:23 further states, "the wages of sin is death." Without God's divine solution to this problem, we would remain indebted and utterly hopeless. But Christ's death on the cross paid the full penalty for the entire human race so that anyone who wants a personal relationship with the Father can have one and can sit approved in the glow of His glory. When we believe Jesus died for our sin, when He died in our place for our sins and transgressions, and when we submit to the Lord's will for our lives, we find that's all that's necessary for us to enter into eternal fellowship with Him. When we submit and allow the Savior to save us and let the Redeemer redeem us, we are placed in a right relationship with our heavenly Father for all eternity. Eternal fellowship in God's grace!

As impossible as it sounds, God loves us and wants to be with us forever. The only thing that can possibly separate us from His love and devotion is a decision on our part to reject His invitation. Once we are His, and this is very important ... once we are His, no human action or character flaw is able to sever our relationship with Him. Nothing we ever say or do can drive a wedge between us and the Lord who loves us enough to die for us. Once we have accepted Christ's offer to be put right with our God, we are forever secure in our relationships with Him as His very own children. Can you grasp that? Nothing we can ever say or do can cancel out this right relationship we have with the Father in heaven. We are His and He is ours. Period.


Another hot day here in the foothills of the beautiful Sierra mountains. Right now it is 105 and we haven't peaked yet, it's still early. Yesterday was 116 degrees out on our deck and by our front door. The thermometer down in the yard under the shade of our big oak tree said it was 107. Any way you look at it, it's hot. Thank God for our cooler and I mean that with the most reverence possible. Thank you heavenly Father! I do believe I might die if we didn't have the cooler. It kept the house under 90 degrees yesterday and just worked its little heart out for us. We have A/C here but it costs too much to run so we use the less expensive evaporative cooler. I got so hot yesterday I stripped down and took a cold shower in the middle of the afternoon. I may have to do that again today if I get too hot. I get so hot I feel like I'm in an oven and I feel like I can't breathe and so then my claustrophobia kicks in and I go very quickly to "miserable." I don't like anything over 72 degrees. I am most comfortable at around 70.

I can't believe I slept the day away. I got up early when the alarm went off at 7:30 but then gave up and went back to bed. Any time I do that I risk sleeping until noon. And while I didn't sleep until noon today it wasn't too far from it and I hate it when I do that. I didn't even get my quiet time out side. Bummer!

I have an Executive Board meeting tonight and I'm not looking forward to that. It's going to be really hot to go out of the house for any reason. I talked Michael into going to the Post Office for me since I went on Monday and did it. He should be back home any minute.

I feel lost without my morning quiet time. I sure adopted that habit in a hurry! Now I have to decide if I want to do it as soon as I finish this post or if I just want to do twice as much tomorrow morning. I'll probably do it a little later.

I finally got in and bleached all my counter tops yesterday. That was something I'd been wanting to do for a long time but just couldn't get myself up and doing things like that. They look so nice now. Maybe that's something I'll try to do every day instead of letting them build up the way I usually do. It's aggravating the way they stain like they do. But it was nice getting them all done and cleared off. I tend to let things accumulate on the counters, making my kitchen look messy. I'd much rather not have anything on them but then where would I put my lotion and my pens and pencils by the phone?

The smoke is very, very heavy this afternoon. It's completely blocking out the sun and reduced it to a hazy, orange ball up in the sky. And the only good thing about it is it has prevented the heat from getting us as hot as it would have without the smoke cover. I don't think we've ever seen the smoke this bad ever here. Cough, cough, wheeze, gasp, choke, it is hard to express just how bad the smoke is right now. I'd swear there must be a closer fire to blanket us with this much smoke but they're saying on the news that it's from the Paradise fire up north. I don't want to have to go out in this stuff for my meeting. My chest quickens when I try to inhale deeply. Keep your fingers crossed that we don't die of smoke inhalation!

This isn't much of a post and I apologize but I have a herd of things to get done today and I think I need to get busy. I'll try for a long, interesting blog next time. That's a pretty tall order I just gave myself so I'm not sure just how long or how interesting my next blog will be but that's what I'll be shooting for. It just keeps getting hotter and hotter. It's now 110 degrees! Ouch!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Getting the Most Out of Work

"Love what you do and you will not work a day in your life," so goes the modern saying. But we don't always get to do just what we like or work beside easy-going, fun-loving people. Even the well-loved jobs have their low points and tasks that feel more like drudgery than play. Our attitude, then, cannot be based upon the work itself or on our feelings about the work; rather it must reflect our positions as God's children. We would be far wiser to adopt a new maxim: "Work for the Lord you love in everything you do in the life you love, and you will be fulfilled every day of your life."

Believe it our not, we get the most out of our work when we view ourselves as servants. Contrary to this fact, modern society teaches us to seek power and respect for self instead of toiling diligently for those who have authority over us. But the Bible preaches a different principle: "Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth" (Col 3:22). Biblical obedience isn't merely an outward show of obedience with an inward sense of grumbling and resentment, but it is a true commitment to the welfare of the employer. (Paul used the word "slaves" because the ancient practice of human ownership was common at that time. Though times have changed, the godly principle of honoring a commitment still applies.)

As children of God, we are called to be His servants. If we spend significant amounts of time at a workplace, much of our service will be done there. As employees, we are to apply the biblical principle of obedience and sacrifice, because whoever our human boss may be, God is the ultimate authority overseeing our actions. He wants to see us practicing righteousness at our workplaces and offices. And our bosses have been placed in our paths for reasons that only God knows and we honor Him when we honor our boss. We are to work everything we do as doing them unto the Lord. Jesus is our Master. He is our owner. And we glorify Him when we yield to those who have authority over us.


Our smoke is back and yesterday it was just awful! When I went out on the deck early for my quiet time yesterday it was gorgeous outside. The air was clear and crisp enough for my hubby's hoodie. It was beautiful when I left to go to church to prepare the day's communion. However, when I left church to come home and stepped outside I almost choked on the smoke. I found out later that we got hit with a double whammy. We had the smoke from a fire about 3-5 miles from us plus we had smoke from all the other fires burning in northern California. Yesterday's smoke was the worst day since the fires got started. I could see the smoke blowing between our house and the stop sign at the corner just down from us at the intersection. Cough, cough, choke, wheeze! It's almost as bad today as it was yesterday only when I went out to the deck this morning I couldn't smell it and it's not blowing in the wind the way it was yesterday. But it's almost as bad looking across to Hogback Mountain. The fire that's just a couple miles from us has been put out and I think that's the difference between yesterday and today. That ground-level smoke has dissipated but the other smoke is still in the air. Well, now that that's thoroughly discussed I can go on to something else!

Michael slept in this morning until almost 10:00. I got up a little before 8:30. I had my alarm set for 8:00 but I couldn't drag my body out of bed quite that early. But I did manage to get up relatively close to the alarm time. And I managed to get the bed made while it was still warm from Michael sleeping in it. That was a weird sensation this morning. Making up a warm bed. I don't know, it just felt kind of weird. Yesterday was a near disaster for me. I woke up at 6:00 in case I needed to wash my hair and let it dry. I washed it the night before hoping that would hold me over through Sunday morning but with my hair, I just never know. Anyway I got ready and had my quiet time and still had time on my hands so I sat down with my book and the next thing I knew I was waking up from a half an hour snooze. I hadn't even gotten sleepy, the last thing I remember is reading. And the next thing I knew I was shaking myself awake. I had to hurry down to church, late for the first time in over a year. Oh well, my schedule has lots of extra time factored in just for such things as this. But it was rather shocking to wake up from a nap that you didn't even bother to get sleepy for. I mean, why waste time? Why not just read and fall instantly asleep? You'll have more time to sleep that way.

I bought a Beth Moore book when we did our shopping on Friday and I finished it last night. What a great book!! It's a wonderful book and heavy on the Greek which is one of my favorite past times (looking at the definitions of the Greek words in my interlinear and Vines). This book, To Live is Christ, is all about the apostle Paul and I loved every word of it. It was so good I cried at the end. She had me so emotionally caught up in Paul's life that my heart just burst and the tears came spilling out. I was also a little sad because it was over and I didn't want it to be. So if you're looking for a new book to read, may I suggest this one. You won't regret the time you spend reading it, I promise you that. There's only been one other book that left me in tears and that was Six Weeks One Friday by Max Lucado.

I want very much to go to town today and buy anything else I can find to read by her. I don't know if she has any other books out. I know she started out doing Bible studies not books. To Live is Christ was originally written as a Bible study. But Moore is the best female Christian writer I've ever read. Of course I've yet to read anything by Joyce Meyers so I'm not really being fair I guess.

I have no solid plans for today I may get in and bleach my counter tops. Coffee and tea stain my counters and we are not the neatest people when we pour our drinks. They can be clean and disinfected and still look dirty so I have to get in and bleach them occasionally. And it's also time to clean our bathrooms again whether I want to or not. And I noticed when I walked through the house this morning that the carpet could use the vacuum again too. Why don't things stay clean when we go to all the trouble to clean them in the first place??? I mean, why do we bother??? But other than these very basic and loosely-formed tasks I have no plans for the day. And, as Dr. Phil would say, "How's your day working for you now???"

I have a problem brewing with one of my deacons. And it really worries me. I don't mean I own the deacons, I know that's what it sounds like I said, but it's not at all what I meant. I just meant that as Chair of the Deacon Board it will fall in my lap and I will have to deal with it. An elderly couple who are both serving as deacons don't really like the praise songs we sing at the beginning of the service. They like the old hymns. Music is a big deal with them and they have mentioned this in every conceivable way without actually coming out and saying they don't like them. Now I love these two people. They're in my small group and I've come to really like them as friends as well as love them as believers. She especially has become very dear to me. But Thursday night at the meeting she brought up an idea that at first sounded like it was no big deal. On every 5th Sunday of the month (which happens occasionally) they suggested we just have hymns that Sunday, no praise songs. It didn't sound like a big deal to me. But Neil (minister of music) poked in his head to see if we deacons had anything to say to him before he left for the day. So naturally I had her explain her idea to Neil. And he explained that he'd not be willing to do that anymore than he would be to say that on the 4th Sunday of every month we'd have nothing but praise songs. His logic weighed heavily on me and I thought it was a sufficient and reasonable answer to her suggestions. Now this is where it gets tricky. After the meeting we went out onto the patio at the other end of the building to grab us a bite to eat since it was Thursday evening and through the summer we are hosting community BBQs on Thursdays. While we were sitting there eating my friend said, "You know, according to the bylaws, it's up to the deacons to make these decisions, not the minister of music or the pastor" (he had walked in at the end of our discussion back at the meeting and had sided with Neil). Talk about pulling the rug out from under me! I could just see it: The Run Away Deacons Board. It took me so off guard that I almost choked on my burger.

Now that's not exactly what the bylaws state but I can see how it could be interpreted that way if you were really wanting it to say something different than what it says. Anyway I feel this is going to go badly for everyone concerned. Before I had become chair we had already changed from using the communion wafers we'd been utilizing to using flat cracker loaves because they insisted on it being unleavened bread. It didn't seem to matter how many times I spoke up and said that the wafers we'd been using were unleavened, but it didn't say that exactly on the box. Then they took it on themselves to purchase a case of Jewish flatbread and everyone went along with them since they had already bought the crackers. Now I like using the crackers a lot better than the communion wafers. I've never liked communion wafers. But what bothers me is the stressing of unleavened bread and the fact that we have boxes and boxes and boxes of the communion wafers. It bothered me that they just took it on themselves to buy the crackers when we had not yet all agreed to the switch. I liked the idea of the crackers but I felt we should have used up the wafers we had on hand first. Also I felt compelled for it to be made clear that we are not under law but under grace. Pastor did his best to explain that point but I'm afraid it fell on deaf ears. Anyway, my friends feel very strongly about the music. They have complained that there are too many praise songs, that we sing them through too many times and that some of them are not exactly biblical. They have complained that there isn't written music so people can see how to sing them. They complained because they felt we used the wrong music at a church event (it was recorded praise song instrumentals). They had felt hymns would have been more appropriate since those in the community might not know any of the praise tunes and it would just be music to them with no connection to Christ. And that's a valid point. But...

Now you must understand. I don't do conflict well and I just don't like the way this music thing is going. So I ask for your prayers on this matter that I will know when and how to negotiate between these that I love. And for the record the bylaws don't say that the deacons can arrange the services the way they deem to be appropriate. Those decisions are not made by the deacons. The deacons are to "serve and assist the pastor, leaders and members" in caring for the spiritual welfare of the congregation and to "provide guidance as needed to the Director of Music Ministries." But I seriously foresee this coming to a head and becoming a battle. So pray for me and pray for these I love. Pray that I will not say or do anything unless if it comes from love for all concerned. Pray that my petty irritation won't rear it's ugly head. Believe it or not, churches have split over such nonsense. And individuals can get their feelings hurt and choose to leave loving congregations over matters such as these. This is silliness that cannot be treated as silliness. It's ridiculous to squabble over such as this but everyone has feelings and just pray that I will know the loving way to handle this situation. Thank you.

It's getting late so I guess I should get busy doing something besides talking. It's just that I see this getting ugly and I really, really, really don't want it to. I love this couple and she has become one of my closest friends at church. But there's no way we're going to overrule Neil and Pastor nor should we want to! #1. It's not our responsibility and, #2. It wouldn't be the loving thing to do. Pray for God's direction in all of this and that people can look at these issues openly and honestly without taking any decision personally.

And I thank you in advance for your prayers.