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Friday, December 31, 2010

High Heeled Beauty

"We do not merely want to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it." C.S. Lewis

John reminded me of a scripture last evening where the Bible says "He has set eternity in our hearts." We long for something on a heart level that is not of this world.

God has set a compass inside Creation. The Canadian geese fly into Alaska in the spring and back out in the fall. Salmon leave and return to the stream where they were born. I find myself star gazing and rejoicing over Hubble pictures of exploding gases in nebula nurseries aware that I am really looking for the face of the Creator. I am like Moses, "God, can I see you?"

But something more than sight is my goal. I remember the feeling I had walking down the aisle in my white gown and veil. John was waiting at the altar with his face drawing me to him. When I walked back I would be changed forever and I knew it. Taking those slow, dignified steps was almost painful. I wanted to pull away from my Dad's arm and rush forward as fast as my high-heeled feet would allow. John and I had a destiny. We were coming home to one another.

As the year ends I feel I am taking another walk. A walk shared by another bride. Our future is there smiling, drawing, beaming a great reassuring smile. Christ. Home is calling and He is a stunner. (His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns..Revelation 19) Powerful beauty for real and forever. Beauty through and through. My soul's satisfaction. I can "...hear his heart beat for a thousand miles."

I cannot say how long this aisle is. How much time we or the world have but beauty and home are at the end of it. Whatever we pass along the journey, the destination is the same. Don't remove your heels. Keep your white dress on. The invitations said formal. If the world asks where you bought the dress do not hesitate to tell them.

May 2011 be for us all a year of beautification. Like Esther of old we have a date with the King. I bless you to be ready and radiant.

Happy are they whom you choose and draw to your courts to dwell there!... they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house, by the holiness of your temple.
Psalm 65

Let them praise the Name of the LORD... for His Name only is exalted, His splendor is over Earth and Heaven.
Psalm 148

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Dedicated to John as his birthday on 1/2/2011 approaches. I will love you forever and a mile beyond. kl

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Burning Ones

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures...Day and night they never stop saying: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD God Almighty...(Revelations 4)

Meet the Seraphim. The ones who burn and kindle praise fire.

In Isaiah 6 they cry out: Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty, the whole earth is full of His Glory. Isaiah observed that at the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

The response to their utterance is high-praise. Personal thrones are abandoned and hard won crowns are cast at His feet. Everything is surrendered to Christ the All Deserving One. This praise is so powerful it vibrates what is foundational.

Looking forward to a new year in 2011 I have focused in on this. I want a praise that abandons all my personal agendas. A worship that throws it all at the feet of Jesus the Worthy One. A call to Glory that shakes my foundations and vibrates throughout the next year. A "Holy, holy, holy," that informs all my waking moments, all my decisions, all my finances, all my plans and personal relationships. I want to be a "Burning One."

Surrender is a powerful incendiary.

"All to Jesus I surrender,
Lord, I give myself to Thee;
Fill me with Thy love and power,
Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender,
Now I feel the sacred flame.
Oh, the joy of full salvation!
Glory, glory to His name!"

Let us completely and unconditionally surrender the year ahead to Christ. Let that altar fire burn in our hearts and upon our lips. Let us have a Holy, Holy, Holy 2011. May we be consumed as never before. May we each become one of His "Burning Ones" losing ourselves in His Glory.

May the Bride said "Yes!"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Manger-Heart



For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6

I know that this prophecy has been fulfilled. If I did not know it for any other reason, I know its the truth because I myself have called Him "Wonderful." I've called Him that more than once and He has demonstrated His "Wonderfulness" as my friend Kim calls it, every day.

God is wonderful and faithful and not so fussy as some of us. Good thing too. He called a manger full of straw home. How is that even possible? Does the President stay at the Motel 6? When did you last hear of the Pope sleeping in a barn?

Straw is sharp and dry and brittle. Certainly not welcoming. How clean might it have been? Not clean enough for my friend Pris. Not even clean enough for me and my friends will tell you I am not Martha Stewart. Do you suppose the animals drooled in it? I bet they did.

Our hearts are sometimes like that manger. Rough, sharp, dry and brittle and maybe a little untidy. Isn't it amazing that Jesus still wants to make His bed there? He doesn't care if He has to muck out the stall, He wants us to make room for Him. He will do the rest. His is a cleansing love.

Come, Lord Jesus. Turn aside here. Make your bed in my manger-heart.

"Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray"

He is truly Wonderful.

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Our friend Jane says Merry really should be translated "Mighty"...so John and I wish all of you a Mighty Christmas! Many Blessings. How He loves us.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jubilate

Psalm 100 (Message)
A Thanksgiving Psalm
1-2 On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

3 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.

4 Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

5 For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.


What an opening line! Look what the psalmist encourages us to do! He is lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite and rolling it down the aisle. The command comes to stand to our feet and start clapping, to make God an offering of holy laughter while singing His praises.

I used to play a game with the kids at church where they shouted out a scripture while clapping and they hopped on one foot while spinning in a circle all at the same time. We always ended up in a dizzy pile of laughter.

John, a friend and myself were so blessed with a special time in God yesterday. A word came up I had to look up to see if it was even a real word. That word was jubilate.

I discovered as a verb it means to raise a shout of joy or triumph. As a noun it is a song of joy most specifically the 100th Psalm which was set to music. When the Holy Spirit gave each of us a personal revelation of that word it was spinning time! Some of us spun words, some spun songs and John spun the saxophone. The fire hydrant was full open and the entire block was underwater! We were "jubilating" and heaven was pouring it down.

There is a wonderful piece of music called the Jubilate Deo, so John informed me. (pronounced ju-bi-la-tay or u-bi-la-tay) It is high art but it comes down to the same thing as the children's dizzy pile and that is: Applaud God! Applaud God with laughter. Applaud God with singing. Applaud God with thanksgiving. Now do them all at the same time.

The 89th Psalm talks about the blessing given to people who "know the passwords of praise." Psalm 100 reveals one of those passwords, "Thank you." At this season that seems a most appropriate one. Each one of us has something to thank God for. I could not list it all here such is my debt. If I may connect the two psalms it would seem that thankfulness and its manifest expression is the way to a genuine soul drenching time of joy and fellowship in His Presence. A way to jubilate the very ground upon which we stand.

We are told God is beautiful, loving, generous and loyal. That is OUR God. The Almighty God who loves us. Who loves our ground, favors it, tends it and causes a harvest there. I want that ground to jubilate and return to Him the love He has lavished upon it.

Blessed are the people who know the passwords of praise, who shout on parade in the bright presence of God. Delighted, they dance all day long; they know who you are, what you do—they can't keep it quiet! Your vibrant beauty has gotten inside us— you've been so good to us! We're walking on air! All we are and have we owe to God...Psalm 89

Thank you, Lord! Show your people the jubilation dance that we may dance it all day long in your presence. Teach us your holy laughter and we will fill Heaven with your praise. All we are we owe to you.

We applaud you, God.

May all our lattes be Jubi-lattes!
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To Kim and John with thanksgiving for a wonderful time in God last evening.

To all our family and friends Happy Thanksgiving with love. John & Kathy



Friday, November 19, 2010

His Name Is As Perfume Poured Out

Songs 4:12-14 The Message:
You are a secret garden, a private and pure fountain.
Body and soul, you are paradise, a whole orchard of succulent fruits—
Ripe apricots and peaches, oranges and pears; Nut trees and cinnamon,
and all scented woods; Mint and lavender, and all herbs aromatic; A garden fountain,
sparkling and splashing, fed by spring waters from the Lebanon mountains.


That's me alright! Especially after a long day at the office. Sometimes there is not much sparkling or splashing about me. I do not have small children to care for these days. God's daughters who do probably feel like anything but succulent fruit. (Although they may have applesauce stains on a pant leg left over from a two year old wiping his mouth about knee level.)

Our lives are not always mint and lavender for sure and maybe I should stay away from addressing that, "Body and soul you are Paradise," observation. There are days I dress in the dark and hope my socks match, sprint between obligations and eat cereal for supper standing up in the kitchen. Once upon a time I had a little person I put to bed a hundred times a night. Now I fall asleep in the chair waiting for the dryer to finish. When do we get to be Songs Chapter 4? How do we find our way to that secret garden? Hmmm...The same way the water finds its way down the mountain I think. A force of nature draws it.

Another passage in Songs (1:3) describes the name of the Lord as fragrant ointment. "Thy name is as perfume poured out." Sometimes in the middle of a crazy day a hint of His scent catches my attention. I can pause even if I only have a moment to savor it. My soul is drawn to it as the water falls over the rocks. His lovely smell is calling me.

Christ's names are as perfume poured out upon me. When I can control little else about my situation I can agree to this. To be beautified in a moment because He has made time in His day for me. I can also call Him to me just by saying His name. You may still find me standing up to grab lunch but you might also notice the delicious fragrance of rain falling in the scented woods.

 His name is as perfume poured out upon us. It is His pleasure and it is a lot more attractive than matching socks. The high notes and the low notes. The fruity notes and the floral touches. The spicy and the woodsy hints. I want it all. Mixed just for me by the Master Perfumer. When I let Him anoint me you will know it without my telling you. Body and soul I will smell like Paradise.

Lilly of the Valley
Bright and Morning Star
Lamb of God
Your Name is perfume poured out.

Bread of Life
Word of the Father
Fairest of ten-thousand
Your Name is perfume poured out.

Savior
Healer
Deliverer
Immanuel
Your Name is perfume poured out.

Lion of Judah
Prince of Peace
True Vine 
Your Name is perfume poured out.

Mighty God
Lover of My Soul
Jesus Messiah
Your Name is costly perfume poured out.

King of Kings
Well Beloved
My Own
Jesus, your Name is perfume poured out upon my life.

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Dedicated to all the busy women who are loved and perfumed by Christ.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Scroll of Remembrance

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name. Malachi 3:16 (New International Version)

I have several friends who have been giving those angel scribes writer's cramp for years. My emails from these special souls should be bound as a devotional. How insightful, heartfelt and hope inspiring are their thoughts. When I read them I am reminded of this scripture from Malachi. God is listening. They bless and thrill me and I am not their subject, how much more so must they touch (and entertain) God who is.

When we "who fear the Lord" share with one another what the Lord is doing in our lives, what excites us about Him, Heaven is typing an email of its own. We will see those words again. I cannot help but believe that God treasures our musings, declarations and excited utterances about His character. Maybe He rereads those scrolls like I reread old love letters.

Like the angel scribes, I have saved the best offerings and revisit them from time to time when I need a lift. There are emails that speak life to dead dreams, make children off bounds to bad stuff, put fresh lipstick on my soul, share the wealth, make me laugh, make me want to write or draw and remind me it is all about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. I have received Reply to All emails that are chain letters on steroids.

Heaven listens as we breathe upon each others lives, rain upon one anothers fields and smell the fruit even when it is just the promise of fruit. All the while as those angel fingers are flying a fragrant wind has begun to blow.

I encourage you to let your heart speak of Him today. Send a note, write an email, buy a card, make a call. Celebrate Christ. Draw a word picture about our wonderful Savior and go tell someone...then listen for the sound of a pen on paper other than your own...the sound of a scroll opening...His heart opening.

See how long things that need resuscitating stay dead in that atmosphere. Buy a bigger cup because it will runneth over. Mine certainly does. It is a first rate blessing to have friends who are addicted to pouring! Pour forth! (Angels, take this down.)

To my darling, golden friends I say thank you for loving me so well in Jesus name. Thank you for sharing your magical heart thoughts with me. How often they literally are a "song in the night" for me. Thank you for painting Christ in colors that stir my soul to love Him more, serve Him more, want Him more.

From an old email comes this prayer I wrote. I have placed it in my Bible where I remember to read it on behalf of all who are so special to me. I pray it over you again now. I pray it on behalf of anyone who is reading this offering.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of wisdom that opens every door.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of freedom that liberates every prisoner.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of abundance that opens the storehouse.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of remembrance that counts every generous word and deed.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of tender ministry that pours oil upon all wounds. (Including the self inflicted ones.)

I breathe upon you the Spirit of protection that stiffens your shields.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of vengeance upon the Wicked One.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of composure and unity and peace and safety.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of life that awakens sleeping dreams and shattered hopes.

I breathe upon you the Spirit of creation that you may make His way beautiful as He inspires you.

I embrace you in the Spirit of friendship which is yours as long as Eternity is in our hearts.


What do you have need of?

What is Christ capable of?

Tell someone.

Angels are listening.


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And the Lord saw and heard and kept a record and set deliverance in motion by a strong wind from the south. A fruitful wind. A beautiful, fragrant wind. And God breathed upon them and life returned.

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Love and gratitude to those who know who they are.


















Monday, November 15, 2010

Breathe

He desired to eat a last meal with His friends before He "suffered." If any of us knew what Christ knew about what was to come in a few hours-I'm betting we could not have gagged down even one bite. I had to have a biopsy once and couldn't sleep or eat the entire day and night before the procedure such was my dread of the discomfort.

In such a moment magnified to the power of Eternity, Christ was thinking about those dear to Him and considering their needs. In the horror that was to come, when they would be scattered by fear, He was giving them a standing stone of remembrance. A mental anchor, a place where they could connect to Him. He was establishing a new covenant throughout the generations.

So He put a towel around His waist, He who had held the universe in His hands, and He took their feet into those same hands and washed them. This really is a different kind of god. The world knew of nothing quite like Him. Isaiah 53 says, "...we did not esteem him." Power with gentleness. Righteousness with relationship. An un-scary God.

He brought the calm before the storm. Maybe as much for Himself as for them. He surrounded Himself with their comfort and familiarity, their humor, their smells. It would come down to the Garden and the will of the Father in a few hours but for the moment it was about the branches. It was all about beloved friends.

He is still that calm place for us. Still the God who washes, who feeds, who pours, who relates.

Take some time today and become still in God's presence. Slow your breathing through the following exercise:

Inhale: Breathe in the peace of Christ
Exhale: Breathe out the anxiety of the day.

Inhale: Breathe in the gentleness of Christ.
Exhale: Breathe out mental clutter and distraction.

Inhale: Breathe in freedom in Christ.
Exhale: Breathe out that which binds you.

Inhale: Breathe in the joy of Christ.
Exhale: Breathe out discouragement.

Inhale: Breathe in the love of Christ.
Exhale: Breathe out selfishness and personal agendas.*


Continue doing this until you feel ready to meet God today on His terms. Until you esteem Him for who He really is to you. Until you "remember" and recognize that the Vine holds tightly to its branches. He will not give you up. He is the God who suffered for a connectedness to you. You mean everything to Him. Everything.

As the meal is eaten one lays his head on Christ's shoulder.

Is it you?

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*(Breathing Exercise from Contemplating the Cross by Tricia Rhodes)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Show Us Your Glory

Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! Look your king is approaching, he is vindicated and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of the donkey. He will banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem; the bow of war will be banished. He will proclaim peace to the nations, his empire will stretch from sea to sea, from the River to the limits of the earth. Zechariah 9:9-10

I was awakened early this morning by a news story on the radio that was playing softly by the bed. It was a story about the economy. Had I still been dreaming it would have made a considerable nightmare. It was a nowhere to run nowhere to hide sort of story. The kind that you either dismiss out of self defense or get down on your knees.

As part of the awful story they were doing they discussed a book on the financial crisis, its origins and ongoing national and global effects. Its title struck me: All the Devils Are Here. (I assume as in "Hell is empty and all the devils are here" from Shakespeare's The Tempest) Now I am wide awake and thinking about a friend's child who is one year old today and my own two year old grandson. I am looking at the world they could inherit. I place the pillow over my head and try not to "see."

I recall T.S. Eliot, "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper." Our world is beginning to whimper. I can hear it. The overt screams we notice like the Sudan or Rwanda or Katrina or 9/11 shake us when they occur but it is the whimpers spreading like foundational cracks that have pricked my ears. There is no safety outside of the Kingdom walls. No peace without the Prince of Peace. No real economy that is not backed up by Heaven. Remember the Glory.

The opening scripture was revealed when Israel was under the control of Persia and the Temple was being rebuilt. When it was again spoken of years later Rome was law. But that scripture speaks freedom to me today.

Today my day started with the words, All The Devils Are Here. Maybe that is so but when will they ever out number the angels of Heaven? When will the place they occupy ever have a position of supremacy over the Kingdom of the Lord and His Christ? Absolutely never.

Must we number the days aright to gain a wise heart? Certainly. Should we practice Kingdom economics and invest in what produces life? Ditto. But should we fret and be swept away by the predictions of the coming storm? Never.

I will take the advice of the prophet which flies in the very face of the gathering clouds. I will rejoice heart and soul. I will sing praises as His daughter. I will look for the One who will banish anguish and war and worry from my heart, who will break in pieces the siege engines of Hell and cause me to behold His empire stretching from sea to sea and from the River to the limits of the earth.

I will do this now not at some future date. I will open my eyes wide and search the horizon for all signs of His coming. He is coming. His Glory will fill the earth one day. Today it will fill me. I will be humbled and surprised by it and filled, filled, filled! May the world see Jesus in my unveiled face.

I caught a glimpse of Your splendor
In the corner of my eye
The most beautiful thing I've ever seen
like a flash of lightning
Reflected off the sky
I know I'll never be the same

Show me Your glory
Send down Your Presence
I want to see Your face
Show me Your glory
(Third Day)

As for those devils who are all here...well...may they be like just so many cans on a fence and may the Bride have them in the "cross" hairs. We were meant to posses a dangerous beauty. Furthermore, if the Federal Reserve can print worthless paper and flood the economy with it maybe it is time for the Church to put the real thing into circulation. Look for every worthy opportunity to give and to bless. Open your wallet and let the Glory loose.

I will rejoice, Lord, heart and soul in your empire that stretches from sea to sea, whose waves break upon my own shore.

It is The Glory of the Lord that is here. Hell's going to be having the nightmares not the Beloved.

Rejoice heart and soul, daughter of Zion! Shout for joy, daughter of Jerusalem! Look your king is approaching.


Show us your Glory, Lord!
Show me your Glory!
May the earth be filled with your Glory!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home Waits For You Soldier

Four years ago this month the faithful prayers of friends and family brought our son home from Iraq. To say we were thankful would have been to understate the gratitude we felt with all of its jubilant overtones and reverent undertones. To this day, every day, I remember to be thankful.

But other sons and daughters remain away from their families as we approach another holiday season as a nation at war. (64 lost their lives in Afghanistan just last month.) We must not leave our military out there without our support. We must continue to weave our prayerful protection around those on the field. At the same time we must ask God's healing for those who have returned whose injuries physical and emotional have brought many to the brink of despair. May God minister His peace to all. May he bring them all "Home."

The following is something we sent to friends as an email when JD was still in Iraq in 2006. I offer it now because it speaks of "Home" in a way we need to understand. May those in Iraq and those in Afghanistan know those of us at home are praying and waiting for their safe return. May those at home but hurting soldiers and veterans know we are here for them.

7/4/2006
America is having another birthday although there are many of her sons and daughters who will never see another one. Many will watch others set off black cats or bottle rockets because they can no longer run when the fuse is lit. More more will hang back as the parades they once marched in go by because their new prosthesis is still a bit strange and it can't seem to count. Some will remember buddies they can no longer call or email. Some will grieve for limbs lost and at the same time thank God they have a lap where a tiny child sits and says, "Daddy, make your chair go faster...Faster!" Every day sacrifice is added to sacrifice and we are reminded of how not free freedom is.

Soldiers have so many different reasons for enlisting. John David had about an even dozen. Some I bought. Some not. Our President had many reasons for going to war in Iraq. Some I bought. Some not. There are things I do not understand and things I have come to know too well.

This I do know, that the men and women on foreign soil are our men and women and once there, the thing they think of, and dream of, and speak of most, is home. No calling card ever has enough minutes, no letter is long enough. There can never be enough packages. There is never enough sleep or enough food or water or clean underwear but there is an abundance of prayer and hope and courage and talk about home.

There are pictures taped in Humvees, prayer cards and love letters slipped into Kevlar vests and there are always thoughts of home. "When I get back, you can make me Pancake Mountain and all the Tater Tots you can find." When I get back, I'm going to get in the shower and stay there three days." "When this is over, I'm going to curl up with my dog, my wife,...I'm going to surf, hike, bike...I'm going to smell good when I get home and I will never go to another memorial service ever again." "I'm going to sleep without a helmet!" " We'll go for tea." Every soldier I have talked to has his or her own version but home is always the essential ingredient.

Whatever the reason they went to war it is all about home now. For some of them it is not just about their home but about providing a safe home for the citizens of the countries they serve in. No matter how awful the news is about renegade soldiers there are those gentle warriors who vaccinate children, bring widows food after dark so the neighbors don't see who is giving it, give their own clothes to warm someone who is cold, make the roads safe for an old woman to vote or shop or go to prayers, find good homes for stray puppies. Home is peach trees in Georgia or cherry trees in Washington State but there are soldiers who know the palm trees in Baghdad are also someones home. Home is the best part of each of us and home is always worth fighting for.

May God Bless America, the home to so many different kinds of people. May the things we treasure not be things at all. May we always give as it has been given to us. May we always hold dear those who have given so much. May we always recognize that "every good and perfect gift" really does come from God's hand. May we keep a light in the window and in our hearts until all our troops are "home."

I found this poem and thought it said it well:

The Things That Make a Soldier Great

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die
To face the flaming cannon's mouth and never question why
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red
The peonies and pansies too, the old petunia bed
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall
Tis these that make a soldier great, he's fighting for them all.

Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave
Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun

What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees
The little garden far away, the budding apple trees
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot where'er it be - the humble spot called home

And now the lilacs bloom again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been
He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call
And only death can stop him now he's fighting for them all

~ by Steve Vaus ~

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11/13/2010
God Bless our troops. Let them know home remembers them on this their eighth Thanksgiving on foreign soil. I am attaching this link to pictures from Afghanistan. They are graphic. One needs more clothes. They will all give you an idea of where our soldiers are and why they, and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, need our prayers. God be God for us. We will not cease to pray because the war grows overlong. If the light in the window burns low we will replace it until all are "Home."

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/11/afghanistan_october_2010.html

(Copy and paste into your browser. Use J and K keys to move up or down)

Kathy

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gennesaret-Garden of Riches


There is an area of land, a valley, unique in all the earth. Some of Christ's most beloved teachings were given from this very spot. Parable of the Sower, Parable of the Mustard Seed and Parable of the Leaven to name a few.

The place I’m referring to is Gennesaret. Ancient Gennesaret was not that large being only two miles wide, four miles long and harp shaped. Its richness and fertility caused it to be known as the “Garden of God”, the "Garden of Riches" and the "Prince's Garden."

The land in Christ's day was so fertile that there was not a plant its soil refused to produce. The walnut, which is a tree that delights in a most wintry climate grew along side the palm tree, which thrives in heat. At the same time there were figs and olives, which required a milder atmosphere, ripening deliciously everywhere among their brother plants.

Plants that would normally compete and drive one another out also flourished side by side giving us a picture of the non-competitive environment God would have in the Church. So here in this place we find any number of different species normally requiring different climates and atmospheres all happily thriving.

Weeds were unwelcome in Gennesaret and seldom found. The good plantings so occupied the ground that there was little opportunity for a thorn or thistle to take root.

The fertility of Gennesaret was capable of supplying grapes and figs through ten months of the year. The growing season was so long that if you were delayed in planting early, even a seed planted late could still become part of the harvest. A good word for those of us who may have missed an opportunity or came to Christ later in life. He has given us seed and the promise of fruitfulness. There is time. I believe this delightful land is a territory God would like to place under cultivation in each one of us.

The fruits of Gennesaret were of such high repute among the people of the day that the Rabbis would ban them from Jerusalem at the time of the feasts, so that the worshipers would not be tempted to come just to enjoy the fruit. Shame on those Rabbis. One bite and you could not help but praise the God who created such lusciousness.

History made many changes in the Holy Land and Gennesaret fell upon hard times. Centuries of neglect made sad changes in this area. It became largely overgrown with thorn-bushes and thistles and no longer yielded the fruit for which it had become so famous. It became instead famous for the largest crop of thistles known to man.

The good news is that between recent purchases by German Catholics and the fact that a considerable portion of the land has passed back into the hands of the Jews, the Garden of Riches is almost entirely cleared of thorns and thistles and is on the road to once again yielding its ancient generosity of fruits.

There are three modern territories in our lives that need the soil of ancient Gennesaret to be cultivated there. Our church life, our home life and our thought life.

In any given church there are competing interests; so many different personalities, so many different points of view, so many differing approaches to life in general. Have you ever noticed how easy it becomes to get on one another’s nerves if we’re not careful. (Fruits and nuts growing side by side-remember?)

In the early church we see in the book of Acts that they had all things common. These brothers and sisters were working together with a common good in mind. The spirit of Gennesaret in our church life today promotes the development of a rich diversity and proficiency of spiritual gifts without envy or competition. All are encouraged and nourished toward developing their gifts. It is not reserved for a sacred few. All are trusting the Master Gardener to shape and direct. All are recognized as essential be they palm or walnut, grape or fig.

That non-competative Gennesaret spirit within a family causes the husband to prefer the wife and the wife to prefer the husband. What causes the wife to flourish causes the husband to flourish, and vice versa. My wife is a talented person and she has lately mined a rich vein of creativity. My heart is thrilled! The good that is happening to her might as well be happening to me, because in effect it is.

Where children are concerned there are no favorite sons or daughters. All are heirs. Such is how God wants His Church to be. When was the last time you heard God the Father ask, "Why can't you be more like your brother?" NEVER!

Finally, within our own thoughts, when we discover competing wants and desires, God will help us sort it all out. He will help us find the way for all of it to grow together if it is of Him, side by side, just as He arranged for the ground in Gennesaret to support the plant life that one would never have expected. It is God who knows how to blend our talents for the Kindgdom. Thoughts contrary to life and fruitfulness (fears and failures) are crowded out as the garden yields its goodness. Thoughts not rooted in the Kingdom, He prunes to inspire growth.

Ancient Gennesaret was about abundance and delightful fruit that nourished and satisfied, and grew in a cooperative atmosphere. Gennesaret today is a Kingdom place. It is the rich soil God has prepared in the very heart of us to produce the fruit this world is crying out for. Repentant fruit, joyously juicy, satisfying fruit. Fruit that smells like Heaven. Fruit that believes. Fruit that sustains. Fruit that heals. Fruit that remembers. Fruit that remains.

The next time you find yourself in prayer, quiet your thoughts, place your hand over your heart and breathe out the word "Gennesaret." Then walk out into that land and claim it for Christ. Smell its sweetness.

“Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.
(Hosea 10:12)

Gennesaret!
***********************************************************

Presented to
Abundant Life Assembly
Sterling, Alaska
By Rev. John LaMantia 11/7/10

With Honor

It is God that girds me with strength, and makes my way perfect...He teaches my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by my arms. Lord, you have also given me the shield of your salvation, your right hand upholds me and your own gentleness has made me great. (Psalm 18)

"Mom, I enlisted today." I cried in secret for days after hearing that from my only child. I was proud and terrified. After Basic and Advanced Infantry he was headed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne.

His father and I took him to the airport and watched him walk away from us into his destiny. We sat in the car in the parking garage and cried so hard I do not know how we didn't set off the car alarms.

That was difficult enough the first time. When he had to return a second time it was almost more than we could stand. I felt like the universe was playing Russian Roulette with someone irreplaceable to us. As if John David's returning to Iraq was not bad enough, we learned he would be going to one of the most awful and dangerous places in Iraq. The Triangle of Death.

When he called to tell us this he said an amazing and insightful thing. He said, "Mom," don't worry." (Like I was going to take that advice. It reminded me of all the Mom don't worries of his high octane childhood) "I told God to cut my orders and to send me wherever He would be able to keep me. So if I am going to that terrible place then that is the place where His grace will be found and He can keep me. Not everything that feels good is a blessing and not everything that feels bad is a curse." He was right. He had the situation squarely illuminated by his spiritual high-beams. When had he become so wise?

God kept our son and our son kept God. My son knows a lot of scripture but in JD's Bible the only verse he has underlined is "Thy gentleness hath made me great." It is his testimony. My son is a warrior but there remain gentle places in his soul. He is loyal and loving and best of all he is home. God did in fact keep him just as JD said He would. John David can now teach that confidence to his own son.

There are many sons and daughters who "Gave their last full measure of devotion" in Iraq and Afghanistan these past years and even more in all of our other wars. May those who returned and those who remember them honor their memory today.

May all of our military who serve and our veterans who have served, be made to feel the grateful embrace of this nation under God. May they know we are thankful for their service in confusing times. May they possess the assurance that even though those of us who were left behind cannot fully, experientially grasp what they have endured and often suffered; nevertheless our hearts are knit with theirs. That we pray God's soothing, Almighty love into their souls and lives.

May God continue to gird them with strength and make their way perfect. May He heal them and reward their faithfulness. May God continue to be God for America.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war's desolation,
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
(National Anthem)

Thank you to all who did not, do not, bear the sword in vain.

****************************************************************
John David, your parents love you, thank you and honor you. You are our best day and a good man. God has my heartfelt gratitude for sending His Angels to the battlefield to bringing you home. Mom

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ephphatha

So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us...Romans 12

I am so happy! I recently visited the home of a friend who is an artist. For the past several years, however, rather than working in pen or paint, she has been sculpting. She has been fashioning two little boys into sons of God. As all mothers will testify (especially mothers blessed with boys) this can be rewarding but exhausting work.

My friend is part of a small circle of spiritually like minded friends who have been encouraging one another to "BE!" as in "Light, Be!" or "Glory, Be!" Encouraging one another to study, paint, write, heal, and practice fierce belief. "Iron has been sharpening iron," if you will, as we have been praying to become river producing clouds.

Last weekend our talented friend rained upon our fields. She painted this picture of my words about our Beloved Lord traveling around the world. (Just as this blog hit everywhere but the South Pole.) I added it to the site with gratitude.

She also painted a picture of fire and water issuing forth from John's sax. John said her prophetic image was upper most in his mind a day later when he played belief and healing over a congregation.

Second Timothy 1:6 mentions stirring up or fanning into a flame the gifts within us. How much it helps if we have friends with matches and a love of seeing God's work light up our lives through our giftings.

John recently preached about the land of Gennesaret where plants that would be in competition with each other anywhere else on the planet all thrive together, produce together and create abundance. Non competitive, juicy, fruitfulness was a hallmark of this ancient Valley and "Garden of Riches."

The Church should be Gennesaret. Some of us have found our way there to our delight. This is a fruitful place with good soil and lots of encouragement. A place where thistles are unwelcome and find no nourishment. This is a garden true Holy Spirit friendship has planted. I encourage you to take your gifts and your friends in hand and find your way there.

Kim, many deep and sincere thanks for your gifts, your inspiration and your friendship. I can hear Christ saying, "Well done!" I love my Word-Seeds and the seven stars in my hair and how wise of you to have made me look younger!

You are a rare find. "A woman who surpasses them all."

To all of you reading this with gifts hidden away in side of you
I say, "Ephphatha-Be opened."
It is a prayer true friends pray over one another.
It is a prayer Heaven will answer.

**********************************************************

To Kim Lorentzen, wife, mother, friend, daughter, artist. Don't let your paint brush dry out!

Stay

Been thinking about how the world would be better off with out you?

Self murder looking like a better option than having to wake up in the morning?

I heard a doctor once say to a suicidal patient, "You're right. Something needs to die-IT JUST ISN'T YOU!"

What needs to get killed off is our false self. The self that believes all the unfruitful and unbeautiful stories about who we are. God sees us so differently, so hopefully. He called us by name before He ever made an atom.

He made us from dust but it was stardust and from stars He loved enough to name. (He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147)

So look up. The stars are singing about His love for you. Your deep heart can learn the words. "In the beginning" He sang them to you. On Calvary He wrote them down. From the empty tomb His music spilled out into the world. You are part of something here. Don't ever forget it.

Jesus: Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. John 5:24

I do not know who you are but God spoke to me to speak this to you and put it on my blog. I have a good friend who struggles with depression and she makes a pact with herself each day to live one more day in the grace given for that day as she grows toward her complete healing.

God loves this old Universe and He loves you.
He really does.
So don't go.
Stay.

http://wimp.com/comprehenduniverse/

Talitha Cumi

Gripping her [firmly] by the hand, He said to her, Talitha cumi--which translated is, Little girl, I say to you, arise. Instantly the girl got up and started walking around. Mark 5 35:43

Jesus has just worked several miracles in a row. Now He calls a girl back to life and commands her to be fed. First He is mocked for suggesting that she is not lost. He removes the unbelievers from her presence and calls her to Him. She responds.

I think there are things we have all wanted to do, persons we have wanted to be, juicy lives we have all longed to live. We each have dreams that never made it past the daydream stage for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons may have to do with family of origin issues, or disappointments in love or its absence, life demands or obligations, a perceived lack of resources or giftedness or even disobedience. Many circumstances could have put our dreams on life support.

" 'Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His word..."

One of these mornings, Jesus will walk into our room, put everyone else out, still all the other voices in our lives (past and present) and He will call to that part of us that sleeps, "Talitha cumi. I say little girl, arise." The stone will be rolled away and it will be Easter Sunday morning with all its bright promise. We will walk out into the daylight and leave the burial clothes folded neatly behind us and know who it is that Christ has called us to be. His grace has redeemed all of us long ago but this calling is to really live in this moment the life His love purchased. This is a call to our heart life and our hearts will respond. His grace will sustain.

Talitha, cumi, Bride of Christ!

Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
just from sin and self to cease;
just from Jesus simply taking
life and rest, and joy and peace.

Listen! Can you hear His foot steps?
The table has been set for you.
The first meal of a new day waits.

Put out all unbelief.

Talitha cumi!

Wake up!

Today is as good a day as any to let Christ's Resurrection power stand you on your feet!


**************************************************************
Dedicated to Lisa Canfield for her birthday. You are always up to try something new. I am blessed by your friendship.

kl

Monday, November 1, 2010

Age to Age and Heart to Heart

"Age to age and heart to heart
Bound by grace and peace
Child of wonder, Child of God
I'll remember you
Remember Me." (Schultz)

"Do this in remembrance." Remembering was important to Jesus. The human side of Him wanted to remain connected to loved ones. The God side knew we needed that connection. That vine and branches communion.

There is a part of us that lives in the memories of friends and family we are far away from. There are also shared memories we have of departed loved ones we had in common. They live yet even though they are gone. There are funny shared stories we tell of them and they are in the room with us at that moment. I have a friend I have had long enough to have buried people we mutually loved. An "old" friend.

That friend is having a birthday today. She is a friend from way back and she has some good dirt on me. She knew me when my speech was considerably more colorful than it is now. She has know me long enough to have watched my son, who was cast as a donkey, meow like a cat throughout the Children's Nativity. She remembers that same son eating a bug for money in the Youth Group. She was the one who told on him.

I remember lots of things about her too. I remember her spotless kitchen and clean kids. (Mine never were.) Her lovely wardrobe from Dillards. (I put things in Lay-A-Way at K-mart). She sang like a professional and I sang like...well, not a professional. We both love men named John. Mostly I remember that she is my friend and always will be no matter near or far or how opposite we are. There is a connectedness in Christ that ignores time and distance and difference and makes us sisters. I have her heart and she has mine in that great loving heart that is Christ's heart. That "Love one another as I have loved you," heart of grace.

Age to age and heart to heart you are my friend, Pris. I wish you the best and most blessed of birthdays. A year of Glory, Glory, Glory and Holy, Holy, Holy!

Give the maid the day off, Sis!

May God be Glorified in both of our lives.

Kathy

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Calling Boo Radley

It is Halloween again and time for one of my favorite yearly rituals, watching the movie version of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. This story of two southern children and their adventures set against an atmosphere of southern style justice (read that injustice) is also my favorite book.

There is a local shut in living on the children's street. A man of mystery. A boogyman whose appearance and activities, in the absence of real facts, has taken on a Freddy Krueger style mystique. It is said of him that he is disfigured, has bad breath, rotten teeth and eats raw squirrels plus all the cats he can catch. The children spend entire summers trying to lure Boo Radley into the light.

Cut to the finish it is Halloween and Boo has come out of hiding to save the children. Institutional pallor evident, he stands next to the injured boy he has rescued. He pensively looks down upon the now sleeping form. With encouragement, "Would you like to pet him?" Boo reaches out to barely brush his hand against the boy and finally lays his hand on Jem's head. That connection reverberates through anyone watching the movie. With that touch it is Boo who comes back to life. A precious connection has been made and "Boo" the curiosity, the squirrel eater, becomes "Mr. Arthur" who might now be lovingly and tenderly folded into community life-with consideration for his shy ways.

Love shapes life. No doubt about it. Without it we are all disconnected squirrel eaters hiding something. Worse than the wisdom of this world would have us believe and a little less than our own terrors tell us we are. Shut out all the same.

Enter Jesus into this best seller Our Father is writing. Enter love and grace and restoration. Enter our true and eternal self. Our loved self. The self that is part of a community made up of God, saints, angels, plans, dreams, a future and more.

Jesus opened the door, became the Door into this new and communal life. The Spirit filled us with body gifts. Home isn't just a hope. It is a reality. A reality in the midst of suffering or confusion or failure. Home is a way. A new direction. Home is the truth in an untrustworthy world. Home is Jesus saying to us of the Father, "Would you like to touch Him?"

"God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun." Romans 8:29-30 The Message

"We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him."

We are restored through the sacrifice of Christ.
We visiualize our intended life.
We are named.
We have renewed relationship.
We are established.
We experience Divine fellowship.
We are glorified.
We are completed.

Our story which God is writing is ongoing. New pages and chapters are being produced every day. What an adventure! What a delight! The Creator of Life and Light has pen in hand and us in mind. I can hardly stand it! He isn't doing this in His off hours. He is the most enthusiastic one on the project. God is just tickled to be writing the story of you! The story of me! How about we tell Him to take full editorial rights?

Love shapes life and God is all there is to know about love. Jesus is all the proof I need. His love is forever. For "He stayed with them to the end."

Would you like to touch Him?

*********************************************************
Dedicated to one of God's favorite sons in his walk of Faith. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. – Jeremiah 17:7

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Secret That She Was In God


The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to find the place where all the beauty came from. (C.S. Lewis/Till We All Have Faces)

Beauty comes from time spent alone with the Heart of all Beauty, The Creator of all that is beautiful. The One who turns a spider web after the rain into tiny sunlit jeweled beads. The One whose color palate mixes daylight and dark. The One who can take an ordinary face and make it beloved. Time spent with Christ lets beauty into our lives and back out again.

I have always been fascinated that some birds are able to see colors in a spectrum we can not. Some see in ultraviolet for example. It helps the bird find dinner that would be hidden from our naked eye. God's special vision can spot even the possibility of beauty hidden within the darkest soul. The more time I spend in His Presence the more I seem to develop that same ability while becoming beautified myself.

Love is such an amazing cosmetic. The key ingredient in a transformational process that lets His beauty loose on our world. When we see ourselves as He sees us it is an amazing, life changing, even world changing, discovery.


This Trackless Solitude
By Jessica Powers Sister of the Carmelites

Deep in my soul are acres
of virgin lands, of sacred wood
where waits the Spirit. Each soul bears
this trackless solitude.

The Voice invites, implores in vain
the fearful and the unaware;
but she who heeds and enters in
finds ultimate wisdom there.

The Spirit lights the way for her;
bramble and brush are pushed apart.
He lures her into wilderness
but to rejoice her heart.

Beneath the glistening foliage
the fruit of love hangs always near,
the one immortal fruit: He is
tasted: He is here.

Love leads and she surrenders to
His will. His waylessness of grace.
She speaks no word save His, nor moves
until He marks the place.

Hence all her paths are mystery,
presaging a divine unknown.
Her only light is in the creed
that she is not alone.

The soul that wanders, Spirit led,
becomes, in His transforming shade,
the secret that she was in God
before the world was made.


The secret that she was in God. A beauty secret. A transformational secret. Love's vision of us. The product of a soul who "wanders" in God. Who spends time with Him and in Him.

Beauty is calling. It is not for women only. Look what a warrior-king wrote:

Psalm 27:4
One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Spend some time wandering in God today. Let Him whisper to you the secret of who you were in Him before the world began. You may just find an unexpected miracle...YOU!

Beauty's secret is Love.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Our In the Beginning God

The Bible opens with these words. "In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth and the Earth was formless and empty."

The Earth was formless except in the Mind of God. In His amazing mind, the Earth and man and all things that were not yet but were to "BE!" were forming at the speed of thought. Faster than the speed of light which had yet to "BE!"

The Earth and all of it was never without substance except on the face of it. It was all, from before the beginning, carried within the One who had no beginning.

The soft milky smell of babies, the tang of lemons, the freshness after the rain, the desire for friendship, the need to mate, the longing to express affection in worship, the color of your eyes, the height of the giraffe, it was all part of Him before it was part of the world He spoke into being.

Jesus said that if we see Him we see the Father. If we look we see such exquisite carefulness for the details of our lives. Such a passion (literally) for us. He wants us to know Him, live in Him and be with Him forever. He made plans for all of that. Undeniable plans. "Plans to give you a future and a hope."

In Run with the Horses Eugene Peterson says that ..."much of our hoping is really little more than wishing but genuine biblical hope acts on the conviction that God will complete the work He has begun even when appearances, especially when appearances, oppose it...that hope-determined actions participate in the future God is bringing into being...that every situation in which we find ourselves must be included in the Kingdom that we are convinced God is bringing into being."

"Hope-determined actions" that sounds like a mighty thing to me.

Mothers of wayward children know about hope-determined actions. About hoping-against-hope determined actions. No mere prayerful wishing there. Everything in her spirit groans her agreement with the scriptures over her child. Her actions are thankful, trusting, even in the face of felonious disobedience. God has a plan and she has made her bond with Him. God made a plan from before time. She will find it in prayer and throw the full weight of her agreement into seeing it come to pass. In the time- before-time, God gave her eyes able to behold fruit on a bare branch and now that gift serves her. She hopes with fierce determination. She speaks to those things which are not as though they were. She adds land to the Kingdom.

Husbands or wives of non believing spouses, those of us who need jobs or healing or deliverance, those who need more of God's character and power demonstrated in our lives are in need of hope-determined actions. "My Father works and I work." "Be it done on earth as it is in Heaven." Jesus leads the way.

Prayer is power and communication. The scriptures tell us Christ rose early and went to a place away from the crowd. A separate place where we are alone with God stills us to hear His thoughts and plans. He will speak with us. He is our Father. When we have heard Him we act accordingly with His revelation to us and in agreement with scripture. We speak accordingly as those of faith. We trade wishing for doing. His Spirit will show us how. This may seem new to us but it isn't new to Him. He has believed in us and planned for us forever.

Today is a good day for beginnings. What is it that needs a do-over or a do-better in your life? What hope-determined steps do you need to discover? They may be baby steps at first. God is still in the beginning. What you begin today He will help you finish. What you believe for today He answered when the earth was still void.

But I will hope continually,
and will praise You yet more and more.
My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness
and Your salvation all the day,
for I do not know their limits. (Psalm 71)

I will hope. I will praise. I will tell. (with determination)

Your righteousness and salvation is without limit.

Take this empty life and fill it.

Today.

In the beginning of your coming Kingdom.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kill the Marsmallows

Forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal…Philippians 3: 13-14

John and I went to view the new movie Secretariat last evening. I have been a Secretariat fan for most of my life. He was born a month after I met John and funny thing is John decades later preached one of my favorite sermons using Big Red as the sermon illustration.

Secretariat's victories in the movie and in life were stunning. Having been hurt coming out of the gate his first race, he let the field of horses go first after that, then would come from behind and soundly beat them. That is until the third and longest leg of the Triple Crown where he came out first and charged to a 31 furlong victory unheard of and unmatched since.

There are many wonderful reasons to spend ten dollars to see this movie and go away happy. It is full of many 'The Little Engine that Could' moments.

One that struck me was the moment where the trainer, who has been carrying around in his pocket the newspaper clippings of his prior losses with other horses, burns them BEFORE the big race. Not after the victory, he burns them in anticipation of it. These past losses had been holding him back and tormenting him for years. My thought was strike the match and get in the gate. Run to the finish and don't look back.

There are no jockeys I know of who put their saddles on backwards to better see where they have been. We shouldn't either. Neither should we be like Lot's wife who just had to have one last, stolen, backward glance at her burning ex-home.

One moment Mrs. Lot is on her way out of a bad situation with her family beside her and Divine protection surrounding her. The next minute she is frozen forever in time as the best example of someone who had to have a disobedient last look.

It is easy to look upon her lifeless, salty memorial and think, "Stupid woman." But how many of us could take our place beside her? God is trying to burn our past sins and stupidities to the ground and we are running for the marshmallows to roast over the ashes instead of running for the gate.

Deborah Smith Douglas prayed a prayer once as she was commenting on a devotion by C.S. Lewis, "Dear Lord, thank you for offering us freedom from the burning cities of our past. Thank you for calling us to press on toward the prize of our eternal life with you."

Maybe it is time to put the saddle on facing forward, toss the marshmallows under the hooves and ride for the finish line past those burning cities.

The opening scripture in the Amplified version reminds us ours is an upward direction. Let's agree to take it. We just might have the ride of our lives!

Philippians 3:13,14 (Amplified) I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the [supreme and heavenly] prize to which God in Christ Jesus is calling us upward.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Are You He?

"Little King, tiny thing, are you He? Are you He?
Frail babe, newly made, are you the promise of God to me?"
(from Gold,Frankincense and Myrrh)

I like to think the Wise Men looked upon the Christ child and asked Him this question with their eyes. Did they know that He was the one who had breathed into being the very star that began their quest? That He was the Ancient of Days and could number the heavenly bodies as we can number our toes?

John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Christ a version of, "Are you He?" It is a question often put to Jesus both then and now by those who wanted the answer and by those who had already refused it. It was a question He answered for me in a personal way.

Psalm 80 has a line that says, Look down upon us, your face aglow with joy and love..." Look down upon us. That was the perspective the psalmist had, God above, man below. God had a different idea about where He wanted to stand in relationship to His Creation. He intended to be our hands-on God. A God of vines and branches and belonging one to another. Our beloved Christ made that a reality. "On Earth, Shalom, to men of good will."

A baby looks so peaceful when sleeping but the child that drew the Wise Ones continues to be our Peace through all the storms of life.

A good friend just sent me one of the first pictures taken of her great grandson on his first day of life which is today. He is peace itself. He is resting in her arms without a care. He may learn to fret down the road but today he dreams in the arms love created. She does not ask who he is to her for she knows. Sally's heart knows him for hers as surly as the earth knows the seasons. As she holds him she knows this tiny life is one of God's promises to her.

All of that is possible for my dear friend and for us because Jesus became God in person. God in diapers. God in sandals. God on the Cross. God in us. For Him the cost of that choice was staggering, for us it was immeasurable. The prayer in Isaiah that God rend the heavens and come down was answered.

"Are you He?" My own soul knows He is both Promise and Peace. If you need to ask Christ the question yourself be prepared to have it answered. After all He came for you.

"Are you the promise of God to me?"

The answer isn't in the stars.

It is in His arms.


*****************************************************************

Dedicated to Karson Justin Ray Alto on his happy arrival to our world. Special blessings to his delighted family.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Come Tickle Me!

"Grandpa, come tickle me!" John Sebastian would yell up to John from the downstairs family room, prompting Grandpa to charge down the steps and chase our two year old grandson around (after first pretending he could not see him hiding in plain sight) only to fall upon him and tickle away.

Great happy peals of laughter could be heard throughout the house. Grandpa would run back upstairs, Johnny would hide and it would start all over again. So it went until they were both exhausted and delighted with each other.

I could not help thinking if there is truth to, "Be it done on earth as it is in Heaven," then the Godhead knows how to laugh. Maybe that is how some of the more amusing elements in Creation came into being, God got tickled with Himself. I just know laughter is healing and I also know that the good stuff comes down from above. Yep, God laughs.

How irreverent might it be to think that there are times He is out to tickle us? To chase us around and engage us in an uninhibited free for all of joy and amusement? I am so there! I am so there! "God, come tickle me! I'm waiting!

He chases me and when He catches me apathy, sadness, loneliness, boredom and sickness are run out of the room as He turns me upside down with delight. Now I chase Him and He runs slower. I grab His robe and the scent of myrrh, aloes and cassia fill my senses. I catch Him full around the waist. We are a hysterical ball of laughter.

Hell just shut its windows and turned up the radio so it can't hear the Glory. YES!

"He is the joy of all the earth."

This last week I had an email from a friend with a story in it of how God was God for her in the most wonderful and creatively generous way. I could not stop laughing when I read about how God chased her down and delighted her. I woke up this morning still laughing over it. Really, out loud, hold your sides, this-is-so-good-it-hurts, laughter. Heaven was laughing right along with me.

"He is the joy of all the earth."

Tell the Lord to come and get you and then you embrace Him right back.

"He is the joy of all the earth."

If He made us in His image then God is ticklish and laughs easily.

"He is the joy of all the earth."

If "There is a time to Laugh," it could be now.

"He is the joy of all the earth."

YES!

Dedicated with delight to the Lioness of God who received the blessing of His favor and made us all joyful with the telling of it.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Frozen Sea





In the city where I was born there was a wonderful park. It ran throughout the city itself. It had a mill with waterfalls and there were ducks and swans gracing a wide pond in summer. It was the kind of pond just made for winter skaters who came by the hundreds in the cold weather.

When the winter temperatures dropped to a certain level the park police would test the ice. They would drive heavy trucks right out onto the ice and drill. If it was thick enough it was time to lace up. That hardened, thick layer of frozen protection, separating skater from freezing water below, kept things fun.

Sometimes separation can be a good thing. We find ourselves putting distance between ourselves and bad companions or bad habits for example. To be alone with God and gain wisdom for another.

Sometimes we separate ourselves for self protective reasons and what starts out being a little distance becomes a space we find ourselves unable to cross as time passes.

Sometimes we have made a sinful choice and feel the sting that separation brings. We fear discovery and so withdraw from insightful companions and probing friends. We can withdraw from Divine fellowship lest God "see" us.

All the time the temperature is dropping and a thin crust is forming.

There can be any number of reasons for the numbness we feel but mostly when it happens to me it is a drop in the temperature of my spiritual life. You know the symptoms. First disinterest in reading the Word, then no time to pray. (We might have to do some self examination if we brush shoulders with the Holy Spirit so maybe later.)

Time to interact with friends is diminished and their attempts to learn our emotional whereabouts are met with often elaborate plans of avoidance if not anger. All the time the sea within us is freezing. If it goes on long enough we may find the devil doing triple salkos on our pond.

I am reading the most wonderful book these days. I find myself hugging it to me and whispering to God, "I love this book." It had a title with horses in it so you know it captured my attention. It is Run with the Horses by Eugene Peterson the updated 2009 edition. It is a book about love in the midst of judgement as demonstrated by the book of Jeremiah.

Peterson (who translated The Message) talks about breaking up the frozen sea within us. How God is committed to just such a break up, however that sea was formed. Life is possible when brake-up comes. Sometimes this is accomplished by raising the thermostat, at other times it takes an ice ax. In God's hands the method and the motive will always be love. The outcome recovery and restoration.

In Alaska we keep warm by putting on more layers. Resist that method in spiritual matters. Let God kindle a warmth in your center. His love and His word bring life and connectedness. His goal is always for us to show His heart to a cold world. The Church is the hot brick in the cold bed of this age. How can we accomplish that if our own fire goes out?

I have been blessed with friends and family who are so on fire for God they could melt sand into glass. I treasure them even when that sand rubs the hide of my hard places. Experience has taught me to run in the direction of the fire not away from it.

Need a do-over? Need an ice breaker? Lay that frozen sea at the feet of Jesus and call it His. See what happens. Jeremiah 31 sends these words of promise to our core,"...I never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love and more love. Now I'll start over and build you up again..."

Soft hearts for hard hearts. Warm hearts for cold love. Approachable hearts instead of frozen walls. Hearts like His.

I was always more of a swimmer than a skater anyway. You?


And the streams are all swollen with winter,
Winter unfrozen and free...
Rich Mullins in The Color Green

May you be as winter unfrozen and free!


Monday, September 20, 2010

Whatever You Ask In My Name

I would like to share something that has given me new insight and added a special dimension to my prayer life. It comes from a devotional I have been using in 2010. Funny, but it came to me from the clearance table and has proven priceless. I will quote from it in its entirety for the August 9th date as follows:

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask for anything in my name , and I will do it. (John 14:13-14)

"That the Father may be glorified in the Son." It is to this end that Jesus on His throne in glory will do everything we ask in His Name. Every answer to prayer He gives will have this as its objective. Where there is no prospect of this objective being obtained, He will not answer.

It follows as a matter of course that with us, as with Jesus, this must be the essential element in our petitions. The glory of the Father must be the aim-and very soul and life-of our prayers.

(Andrew Murray quoted in A Daybook of Prayer, Copyright Thomas Nelson 2006)

I love what Murray offers us. I have prayed for so many noble reasons. I have prayed out of obedience, out of personal need, to ask God to intervene in the lives of family and friends (and enemies.) We won't bother about less than noble motives. But the idea that the glory of the Father is the be all and end all for Heaven's motivation in surrendering an answer to my prayer is a revelation.

Many arguments went through my head when I read this and I quoted many verses. In the end I had to agree that Christ is single minded about this point, that the Father be glorified in His Son. If this condition is met in prayer all our secondary reasons are carried aloft on the same wind.

Christ fed many hungry souls, healed many diseases, raised the dead. The neediness of people cried out to Him and begged His power. It was, however, the Glory of the Father revealed in the Son that turned that power on.

I have asked the Holy Spirit to direct my prayerful thoughts to line up with the motivation that was Christ's, that God the Father be glorified in the Son, that I may ask whatsoever in His Name.

And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Phil 4:18-20)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Stolen Water


"Then three of the thirty chief men ...came to David at the cave of Adullum...and David said with a longing, oh, that someone would give me a drink from the water which is from the well of Bethlehem which is by the gate." (2 Sam. 23:13-17).

On the run and away from home, David wishes for a comforting drink from a well of memory, a spring from childhood, a refreshing from a better time.

That wish falls upon devoted ears. There are three very special and single minded friends who love David's soul. Love him to the bone. Love him more than their own bones or their own skins.

You can read the story for yourselves if you do not know it. It ends well (no pun intended.) The three mighty men steal into the enemy camp and under threat of death, provide curb service to refresh their King.

They bring back the stolen water only to see David pour it out as an offering to his own God and King. David was ever one to lavish praise upon God. This night he gave Him something so dear, so precious, something whose genesis was unselfish love.

As a friend of mine would say, "That is the part with such WONDERFULNESS!"

Such love causes a chain reaction of love and devotion. First a need, then a journey, next the water, then the offering. God, David and the mighty friends all in loving agreement that each should have the best the others can provide.

Some friends and I were looking at this story and I shared with one much loved friend that I would steal water for her even if it was from a place guarded by orks, trolls and the devils of hell. She replied that she would speak my name and pour it out as a praise offering at the feet of Jesus.

Is there someone you need to steal water for? Someone with a thirst? A heart needing such a drink, such love? Whatever encouragement you lavish on that soul drenches the altar of God and runs down into the furrows of your own field.

It is God-love at its finest and...at its quietest. He will show you what will creatively bless best but with no lavish display, no banner headline. No self promotion allowed. No glory on this side of life, but God, whose memory is eternal, will not forget.

There is a voice coming from the cave. "Water. Water."

Will love answer?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

We Also Believe And Therefore Speak

Some time ago a number of us who are in an email group were stirring one another up to believe God for His promises. Promises made to us in His mighty word as well as promises made by personal revelation.

There was a thought Jan Collins contributed that was sage advice and I share it now. May it cause you to stand and believe for all The Father has planned for you.

Jan wrote:

"The Lord just spoke to me about our declarations. He loves it that we are declaring and speaking aloud because our words carry unbelievable power...be sure you search out the scriptures that go with what you are declaring. His Word carries the anointing that we need to give us the momentum to push these things through to fruition.

We are who God says we are.
We can possess what God says we can have.
We can do what God says we can do.

What does the Word say about your situation?
Find out and then begin to speak it out.
Quote the scriptures you are standing on aloud.
Make them personal and insert your name.
What has God spoken to you?

Believe what God says and start to speak it out along with the scripture. God wants to take us into new territory. He wants us to go places where we have never been and see things in the Spirit we have never seen. He wants us to move heavily in the anointing with miracles, signs and wonders following. He wants us to change nations and people's destinies. He wants us to be the devil's worst nightmare.

2 Cor 4:13 We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." (Jan Collins)

*********************************************

I discovered in nursing school that the more of your senses you involve in the learning process the more indelible the information is imprinted. When you read the scriptures aloud, when you openly declare God's faithfulness and His promises to you, you are seeing, speaking and hearing. When you journal it you are up to four senses. There is a part of your brain that listens to the unfiltered word and files it away uncontested. There is also a part that will review and weigh it but that unfiltered bit is in there for good. ( Consider this as one of the reasons the scriptures warns us to set no unclean thing before our eyes.)

There are promises God has made to me, hopes I have had that I speak, sing (yes, I know singing is so not my gift but God has not turned down the volume on me) and even dance out before Him. Sometimes I draw out those promises, paint them, make cards out of them and mail them to friends as a witness. We were meant to live the Word and the Word was meant to live in us to the full. That Word will seek out our giftednedness as a means of expression.

What would you stand and declare today?
How would that look like as a dance of faith?
What work of grace in your life might that jump start?


Habakkuk 2
1 I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

The LORD's Answer
2 Then the LORD replied:
"Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay.

LORD,

You told me time and accomplishment are in your hand and surely you will not withhold what you have promised and fore-sworn to each of us in your word. I stand upon the wall and recount within your hearing that these people have loved you more than another, "more than the gods of this present world," more than any hope of gain. They have loved you for yourself. Have loved your heart.

Now therefore, Lord, answer their declarations according to the revelation you have given to each, in harmony with your scriptures, according to their great names which you have kept hidden but which when spoken by you cause our souls to hear and believe. You who are the confidence of all the earth have put within our grasp the keys to liberate and to make fast. We release belief and blessing and generosity. We bind unbelief and insecurity and competition.

We are in agreement that the King of Glory will come in and be known of us.

We are in agreement that the Holy Spirit will bring gifts worthy of a Warrior or Warrior-Bride.

We are in agreement that our children will inherit to 1000 generations.

We are in agreement that the enemy of our souls has been defeated by the cross and his cause is without appeal or advocate.

We are in agreement that we have died to this present world and are raised with Christ who sits at the right and power hand of the Father.

We are agreed that all honor, glory and power has been given to Jesus and that He has given us His Name.

We have confidence in the inspiration we have received from you, our God, and in your promises revealed in your word, even for those things that seem impossible and hopelessly lost or lingering.

We wait for it more than the watchman waits for the morning, for it will surely come and will not delay!

For we have seen and have read of the power in a people who agree with each other in your Spirit. We have read of the surety of a thing when the Lord himself makes a Declaration.

Lord, your Declarations birthed the Heavens and filled the oceans. May you birth in us that which begins and does not end and which fills this present day with your Glory!

Amen.

Then Haggai, the LORD's messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people:
"I am with you," declares the LORD...So the LORD stirred up the spirit...of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God.

......."WE ALSO BELIEVE AND THEREFORE SPEAK!"


Special thanks to Jan for her wisdom and friendship. kl

Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Bust My Buffers"

He took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16

It is not a very well kept secret that Jesus loves children. I appreciate this scripture in Mark for the glimpse it gives us of the day to day Jesus. The Jesus who got tired but not too tired to scoop up the kids. "He put His hands on them and blessed them." There He is again that God who wants to touch us.

He won't abbreviate His affection for us. No texted shorthand. No, He wrote it out longhand. He held nothing, holds nothing back. He put it all out there in the hope that we would feel safe enough to do the same.

Francis Frangipane wrote that the canopy of Christ's love is the perfect place of safety where we, sheltered by His feelings for us and washed by His sacrifice, can look at our faults and failures without being swept away by guilt and shame, then let them go. Where we can drop our defenses in complete confidence that He will not expose us to ridicule. His is unfiltered love and acceptance.

I have a friend who writes late at night when the 'two suns in her love sky' are safely tucked into bed. Those writings have been midnight meals for me. She sent me an email with her thoughts about Christ, "Busting Our Buffers," when she read my last blog. I never had Thomas the Tank Engine to read to John David so I was not aware of such buffer busting capabilities.

She makes the point that if David was someone who closed the distance between Himself and the God of his heart on the OTHER side of Calvary how much more so should we be unguarded with Him on the grace side of the Cross.

How we should be able to love God, worship Him, declare Him in complete freedom. No buffers between God and us. No buffers between you and I. None between us and the rest of humanity for Christ has "broken down every wall."

She writes:

"I've been thinking of King David. How many times do we read a Davidic Psalm declaring boldly that God will rescue him, God will crush his enemy - his impossibly huge and terrifying enemy? How many times does David brag that God will lift him up, avenge him, protect him, surround him, go before him, bless him, draw near to him, show him favor... All the things that we struggle to believe that God will do for us - we who live on THIS side of the cross!
I mean...really!

David lived in the days when you might fall down dead for reaching out to steady the Ark. We live in the days when the death of Jesus to pay for all our despicableness (I know it's not a real word) is preached on the street corners, on the TV, on the radio, on billboards...

David's despicableness was undeniable. He often blew it for all to see and when it was hidden, a prophet would come along to make the announcement. I'm amazed at the confidence he displayed living on that other side of the cross. He had a prophetic confidence, faith, in understanding the grace that seems to elude those of us born into it...where He (God) has busted our buffers." (Kim)

If I want to hang on to those buffers I will have to look away from Calvary to do it. Look away from the Jesus with a lap full of children, the Jesus who asks "Where are your accusers? Gone? Then neither do I condemn you. Sin no more." The Jesus who says He is the Vine and we are the branches. The Jesus who is my Shalom. My Resurrection. The Jesus who wants to give us "open faces."

Let me close with the lyrics from an album that has a great expression of faith as the title. "Everything Sad is Coming Untrue" by Jason Gray

It's Like Falling In Love

Give me rules
I will break them
Give me lines
I will cross them
I need more than a truth to believe
I need a truth that lives, moves, and breathes
To sweep me off my feet
It ought to be

(CHORUS)
More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Give me words
I'll misuse them
Obligations
I'll misplace them
'Cause all religion ever made of me
Was just a sinner with a stone tied to my feet
It never set me free
It's gotta be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

It's like I'm falling in love, love, love
Deeper and deeper
It was love that made
Me a believer
In more than a name, a faith, a creed
Falling in love with Jesus brought the change in me
It's gotta be

More like falling in love
Than something to believe in
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now
It's like I'm falling, oh
It's like I'm falling in love

Let yourself fall right into His arms. After all, that is where your child heart belongs.

Special thanks to Kim Lorentzen whose words were used entirely without her permission and without buffers. Your spirit blesses my life. Thank you for a catchy title and a great thought.

To our Jewish friends a blessed and happy New Year. La Shana Tova!