Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Wisdom of Dory and Deborah

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is hidden from its heat. (Psalm 19)

Every 11 years the sun goes through a period of increased solar activity. It ejects plumes of plasma heated to a million degrees Celsius. One such coronal mass ejection occurred this week on 2/24/11. Talk about a fierce and dangerous beauty. Fortunately it was not pointed in Earth's direction. We love a tan and the sun's warmth upon our faces, especially here during Alaska's dark winter, but our sun is a most ungentle giant.

The psalm above tells us the sun is daily declaring the Glory of its Creator. Along with the other heavenly bodies it speaks eloquently of the Most High One, revealing a special knowledge of Him in the language of the cosmos. Like a runner at the starting line the sun digs a foot into the dirt. Like a bridegroom claiming his bride he will not be deterred. As a champion rejoicing to run the race he tenses his body awaiting the signal. It comes, he is released and darkness is chased from the field. Sunrise Glory!

As I think on this I am reminded of Christ's words in Matthew 6, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven." We on earth were all created to reveal His Glory just as the obedient sun does. To run this race with power and endurance. To chase darkness from the field in His Name.

Like real athletes sometimes we have to run through pain and discouragement, fighting for every inch of ground between the start and the finish. Sometimes we seem to fly. Sometimes we are cheered on by inspired fans but sometimes life screams at us to lay down and die. It is all part of the race, the destiny whispered to our soul in the womb, when God said, "Run!" Run to Him. Run doubt and fear and discouragement off the field. Leave the devils choking on faith's dust.

Divorce? Run on past. Illness? Pick up the pace. Troubled kids? Keep going. Life a mess? Get back on the track. Incarceration? That does not disqualify you. Depression? Find your second wind...when you do it will be the Wind of the Spirit. It takes heart and grace and agreement to keep on going. Got it covered. You are a Born Again Winner. Reborn to make a stand up finish!

I am probably not the only Finding Nemo fan here and I would be rich if I had five dollars for every time I have told myself, "Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!" Sometimes Disney gets it right. I confess a greater admiration for the encouragement of Judges 5:31, "So may all your enemies perish, LORD! But may all who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength." There it is that 'be it done on earth' part.

We may not always visualize it but the King of Glory has placed all the Universe, all the angels of Heaven, Sun, Moon and Stars in the stands to encourage and cheer us on. They will fight for us and applaud us and celebrate when we cross the finish. They will show up for every race, every qualifying match, every practice. We will behold their bright joy when a crown is placed upon our heads.

Deborah after the battle sang about such help and encouragement and I love her lyrics:

From the heavens the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
The river Kishon swept them away,
the age-old river, even the river Kishon fought.
March on, my soul; be strong! (Judges 5:20-21)

Whatever we may be facing today or in the days ahead consider the sage wisdom of Dory and Deborah:


For the Lord is coming for us as the Bridegroom comes for the Bride.
Let us run out to meet Him!


Dedicated to His bright star, Kelly,
Valiant Runner.

Victory in Jesus, our Savior Forever!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who Do You Think You Are?

I know I can't take one more step towards you
Cause all that's waiting is regret...
You're gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don't come back for me
Who do you think you are?
(From Jar of Hearts Christina Perri)

Someone sent me a link to this song today. It is lamenting a misbegotten relationship with a guy so bad he must be like the "...dung icing on a dirt cake," if I may quote Robert Bianco. Nasty but graphic. Sometimes all too true.

The point of the song is resistance. No reverse gears. I don't know who the object of this song is but I know someone really awful and thoroughly committed to ruining the lives of people everywhere without exception. He offers love and experience but regret, shame, grief and estrangement are the oils on his canvas. The scripture has advice on how to deal with such a one. James 4 echoes the lyric and tells us to "resist" the Devil. The Message puts it this way:

"So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet."

RESIST from the Latin resistere, to take a stand. Defy, fight, oppose, repel, withstand.

Call me crazy but when the Devil brings me troubling thoughts, sinful ambitions, hurtful accusations, I tell him to, "SHUT UP!" I say it out loud. People think I am arguing with someone on a Bluetooth. Practical resistance and it!

Jesus is the Victor of My Soul. The only one with a legal right to walk the length and breath of my spiritual landscape and call it His. No matter what we have done, where we have been, if we have been forgiven through the finished work of Christ on the Cross, if His grace has beautified us, then it's "Don't come back for me, who do you think you are?" where Hell is concerned.

It is God who has made us and He is perfecting His work. The opening of the Gospel of John tells us:

"In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it."

Your very life is a light that can never be put out because its source is The Source of all goodness, greatness, love and worth. When Hell or anyone working for it tells you otherwise, know beyond a doubt, that the Great God of All the Universe will take a protective step in front of you, cover you with His Glory and make this single pronouncement, "MINE!"

Your God is present among you,
a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he'll calm you with his love
and delight you with his songs.
Zephaniah 3:17

Jesus taught the Song of You to the stars!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Affinity For The Light

When I was a child scary things lived under my bed and in my closet. I can recall huddling under the sheets in a dark room where I awoke to discover the night light had burned out leaving me in the pitch blackness. Salvation was a CLICK away. All I had to do was reach out and snap on the light by the bed. But I was too terrified to move, to reach out a hand. If I moved I might render myself more unsafe than if I laid in motionless terror.

I will risk being transparent here and admit that sometimes scary things still live under my bed. Thoughts left over, left unconquered from earlier times, present anxieties, illness. Dark or dim places light and grace can cut down to size if their ministry is accepted. These days I am finding it easier to click on the light. I may have a momentary inertia but the light has never failed me. So I reach. Whatever else I see when that light comes on, I see Christ standing there with me.

What a gift it is that we can even reach, in faith, for the light that is the Son of God. I am studying the Gospel of John and have been in that amazing opening chapter where Christ is in the Beginning. His life is described as being the light of all mankind. A light man did not reach for but fled from. A light the world tried to stamp out with a vengeance.

In a devotional I am reading it speaks of the meaning of "the darkness comprehended it not." It states that the darkness would not admit, receive or understand the light. It also states the the darkness "has no affinity for the light."

I asked the Lord to make me one who has an affinity for the Light. The True Light. Just as the priest in the Tabernacle had to stop at the golden candlestick to demonstrate Israel's rejection of any wisdom that was not of God, I desire to embrace only His light in my life. I want eyes to see all the different wave lengths that light comprises as it shines out displacing darkness. God's own Glory in Christ illuminating my way.

For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16

Father, I repent of any lingering, fearful love of the darkness. I thank you for the love of the Light I behold in the face of Jesus. May an affinity for your wisdom and Glory grow within me as my soul prospers in You.

(So what's under your bed?)


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remember How Good Cheeseburgers Tasted Married?

Remember when you invited everyone to the reception and my mother wanted to shoot you?

Remember when my father showed up at the motel the morning after?

Remember how you didn’t think to leave groceries in the new apartment before you left Germany to get me?

Remember how good cheeseburgers tasted married?

Now I catch you watching me cutting my meat, drawing a card for someone, moving through a store.

I can feel your eyes are on me and they are kind eyes, forgiving of the tiny flaws that accumulate faster now. If you are looking for your 21 year old bride you will find her. She is here behind my 59 year old face and she remembers you in your strength.

We have spent time together all of us the new and not so new versions of ourselves. We have spent it as the sacred currency it is and now we find ourselves with so much more than when we began.

Please keep looking and I will keep pretending I do not see you doing it.

I will love you forever.


The blessing of the Lord maketh rich. Proverbs 10:22

Reaching To The Ends Of The World

How I covet authorship of this poem. I read it to John and declared that its truth and sweetness made me want to burn every word I had ever written. But it also made me want to buy snail shells and wear a single strand of pearls to bed.

My husband is one of those rare men who must be a throw back to before The Fall. He prays for my life and gifts and will do anything he is able to do to allow me to succeed. This success has nothing to do with money. He celebrates my victories, rejoices when I am recognized and, in love, prefers me to himself. It is John's face I see and his body that embraces me but it is Christ loving me through him.

Men like that are pure gifts and as uncommon as unicorns. God must really love me to have bestowed upon me such a fortune.

The Marriage-Bed By Micheal Simms

The marriage-bed is the center of happiness,
a point from which all things ripple outward,
a nest from which all things learn to fly.
It is the sign of return, part of the great rhythm
of the seasons and of the years.
It is the dream of return, the strength and faith
that sing of home.
It is the wren's nest woven of twigs and string,
the swallow's nest of saliva and mud.
It is what we return to, as migratory birds
passing over marshes and fields
dream of the end of the journey.
It is what frightens night-devils away,
even in winter.
It is the tree that grows through the house,
the hollow of the tree that has never known death.
It is the crystal of all feeling, the flower of all
understanding, the small containing the large.
It is the nautilus growing its many chambers of love.
It is the sudden outburst of one who has long been silent.
It is the idea that a calla lily can be shaped
like a wineglass on a long green stem.
It is the heart-stone.
It is the name of all names
that thinks it is a star and a rose.
It is a conch-shell rough on the outside,
pearly in its intimacy.
It is a snail rolling over and over
building a staircase.
It is an animal, an almond, a repose.
It is an oyster opening in the full of the moon.
It is a mouth telling a secret.
It is a kiln where clay battles fire.
It is the simple happiness of sleeping on a boat.
These are the walls we've pressed back into a circle
in the shape of our merged bodies
And it will take a long time for the waves
spreading from the center of our intimacy
to reach the ends of the world.


When I found Him whom my soul loves I held Him and would not let Him go. Song of Solomon Chapter 3


Thank you Jesus for Your wonderful love so full of grace.
Thank you for a husband with Your qualities who adores my face.

Happy Anniversary to us, John! We have made a marriage and a life. (No contest however that our best work will see his 36th birthday in April.) 38 years and Eternity to go! Kathy

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Chamber of Secrets

The Old Testament holds such fascination for me. "Jesus concealed," I have heard it described. Not like "Where's Waldo' but something divinely so much more. Christ permeating its prose, calling to us through a homemade boat, unleavened bread, wafers found at sunrise, a branch tossed into bitter water.

I have been reading about a small dimly lighted room in the Temple. It was both public and private. Visited by rich and poor alike. One hand unobtrusively deposited something in an alcove and another hand picked it up. On and on, year in and year out, grace upon grace, mercy multiplied by kindness. All accomplished in secret in the Chamber of Secrets.

This Chamber of Secrets did not owe its fame to a Harry Potter movie by the same name. Its existence was birthed by the idea that God is a giver and we were made in His image. In God's economy there is enough and gifts come with wings not strings.

It was the ancient custom for those with a little more than they needed to visit the room and leave coins for those who had less than they needed. This was not gathered by the priests to be distributed to whomever they deemed deserving of charity. This was an unguarded mini-bank with out a lock on the door. Whomever was in need, or was a stranger without funds, could visit the room and take a little. Today you may be a gleaner but tomorrow a giver.

Open hearts and open hands in an atmosphere of honor. The Chamber of Secrets kept its secrets as much as possible. The identity of the giver was as guarded as the humility of the poor was regarded. The Jewish custom of tzedakah (charity) has its origins in the Chamber of Secrets.

Giving is an art because it has the possibility to create beauty as it reveals Christ. Paul encourages us, among other things, to get the giving thing right. To "...excel in the grace of giving." To laugh-out-loud-love-it but don't get caught doing it in public.

(...since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8)

Some friends helped me with suggestions for Chamber of Secrets gifts. I offer you their suggestions should you find one you like or invent your own.

Toss cash into the offering by putting it in an offering envelope without your name on it. This does not have to be a nominal amount.

Meet a need by giving to a cause that is worthy but may not be tax deductible. May not even be church related.

Sponsor a teen for a mission trip in someones name you wish to honor.

Put a gift card in a thank you note and toss it into the offering with the pastor's name on it AFTER you write to say "Good Job! I noticed!" Forget to sign it. (The pastor is probably accustomed to receiving unsigned mail.)

Pump up the benevolence fund. Light and warmth and food are blessings.

Leave your change in the soda or vending machine for someone else to find.

Tip big.

Remember the idea is to practice graceful giving and not to injure anyone. And it does not always have to be a complete secret. Maybe just something you keep between yourself and the recipient.

Once someone left a rock on my desk. Once they left a starfish. Someone left an exercycle on my front steps. (That is not as obnoxious as it seems at first glance. It was exactly the one I prayed for but told no one.) Someone cut our grass and shoveled our driveway when we were at work. Someone left flowers in a pot and another left cookies from Hawaii. (Food surprises left at the door require a signature.)

A friend recently brought me pomegranate seeds as a thank you and a good-bye gift. Some of the most lovely gifts I have received were wells dug or livestock purchased in my name for struggling families in underdeveloped countries. A check when we were in between jobs. We were free to mention it to others but the giver never would have. Treasures all and the list goes on.

Funny thing about those gifts. Most arrived on days my heart was empty. Coins left in a dim secret alcove. They were recycled when my heart was filled. When they arrived I felt like Jesus had been shopping for me. When I passed them on I felt like the woman with the alabaster bottle on her way to lavish it on Christ. He is worthy and rewards openly the quietness of our gift. Jesus concealed.

There are some gifts that require our identity. Gifts of membership and pledged support that says, "I kept my word," or "You can count on me." Jesus revealed.

Loving hands all. His hands loving us through one another. Loving a world more in need of a little charity than another chest to pin a medal on. With us it is about the crown we will one day lay at His feet. Who needs your love today be they friend or, well, not your friend?

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...and be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly...and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3

Dedicated to Melody Dix. Mel, the fact that you are a lover and a giver was never a "secret." Your presence and generosity will enrich The Grand Canyon State. You will be missed and spoken of with affection. Blessings in your new home. John & Kathy

Forsaking All Others

John and I have our 38th wedding anniversary coming up this Thursday. We found ourselves talking about how we met and how we ended up married. We mentioned the other people we passed up to have each other. You have to know that I did not really even date in High School and did sparingly after because I never met a man I liked better than a book (except John). I mostly read and hung out with Gram & Pop.

Not being much of a dater, I remember my 19th birthday being comic. I had one man from the university home to dinner when a friend from my dorm called to say John was sitting in the nursing school lobby with a gift and another was calling in on the public phone in the dorm because he was on his way up with a little something for my birthday. Three at once. An absolute record for a girl who was not a great beauty.

All three ended up finding out about the others and in the process I discovered my own heart. My heart was John's. There was no room for any other rival.

I came to the same point with Christ. I was a spiritual person and I had begun to experiment with other spiritual experiences. The wisdom of the day in the Age of Aquarius was that all roads led to God. Like the fingers of one hand, all religions were the same.

Christ, like John, will not live with one on the phone and one in the lobby. He will offer His heart but that heart is intolerant of rivals. We all have many opportunities in life. Our lives are defined by the opportunities we walk away from as well as the ones we embrace.

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9

As part of a devotional I learned that one of the definitions of "door" in this passage is "opportunity." Embracing Christ has been the defining decision of my life. He was the opportunity I am so glad I did not walk away from. Every good thing in my life originated with that decision. "Forsaking all others," was a vow that predated my walk down the aisle with John. I vowed it to Jesus first. I believe with every fiber of my being that the last 38 years and our upcoming anniversary owe their existence to Christ's influence in our marriage.

Every day for the past almost four decades I have recommitted my love to John. We have a new opportunity every day to recommit to Christ. We have an opportunity to remind ourselves that He loved us the most and said it first. That His love will go the distance and cause growth and increase in our lives. His love will enrich us.

The 10th chapter in John from which our scripture comes spells it out that Christ is no thief. He is the true Shepherd willing to die for those who are His, for us. Maybe today is a good time for us to take an opportunity to embrace Him again. To walk through that Door and declare ourselves His. To renew our vows. To forsake all others and to keep forsaking them.

For no eye has seen, no ear has heard and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Cor 2:9

He has prepared something for today.