Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Pondering on what inspires...

I find it so interesting what folks find inspiring. There are normal things that I do when I need to be inspired to keep on keeping on such as listening to music, reading the Bible, writing, praying, or talking with a friend who I know will encourage me. There are certain passages in Isaiah that I go to or certain ones in Philippians. Unfortunately, there are times when ALL of my usual tactics fail. I do realize that they most likely fail because of the condition of my heart. But, the heart is a delicate thing and it is easily wounded.

Sometimes, I will just sit on the back porch and watch the pond and the sky. Other times I try to stay VERY busy so that my mind has no time to sit and ponder. Lately, I have been fighting overwhelming sadness in regard to Christi and Bobby - in regard to losing my entire family.

This week and last week, I have really not spent much time with God. I know that this is not a good thing for me and truly I have no excuse other than I want Him to answer some of my biggest and most heartfelt prayers with a resounding, "Yes." I feel ignored. Notice, I am talking feelings here and not what my mind tells me is the truth. My feelings are raw and they ache.

The truth is - I am sad. I have been sad for years. Even my happier times are filtered through this sadness. I want to see my oldest two children's faces in the land of the living. I want to get the opportunity to share the rest of my life with them. I want to hear about their growing up years. I want to rejoice about their successes and cry in their failures. I want to hold them in my arms.

I want reconciliation with my sisters. I want them to admit that they were deceived and I want to laugh with them again. I want to begin making new and happy memories with them.

For some reason, God keeps answering my cries and prayers with silence or keeps saying wait or answers with a no. I do not like nor understand His answer. I do not understand why He allowed this to ever happen and certainly not why He has allowed it to continue. My reformed friends would say it's part of His sovereign plan; however, my free will friends would say that He allows men and women freedom of choice and He allowed it to happen because of the sin present in this world. Whatever the reason, it has not been a joyful experience.

Therefore, I am sad. Bobby's birthday is Nov. 16. He will be 34. I have missed too many to count.

I believe and hope that God will send encouragement and I would love it to be in the form of my children.

Phil. 4: 6 & 7, NIV
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Not sure that this verse has anything to do with my sorrow but I hope that God's peace will guard my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

Bright lights

Have you ever wanted to turn back the clock? I have. Yesterday, the sun was shining brightly in my bathroom mirror. I should have walked away or turned off some lights but instead I looked into the mirror and the reflection that I saw was shocking. I saw lots of tiny "new" wrinkles that had previously been hidden from view in dimmer conditions. So, I started pulling out ALL of those magical creams that I purchased which had promised all of these amazing results - eye creams, firming creams, heavy duty moisturizers, and serums ... whatever I could find and started slathering all of them on my face.

Sadlly, those wrinkles did not disappear instead they were just soothed a bit by lots of cream which now gave my face a glistening sort of effect. Not exactly the look I was going for.

Time... it moves forward whether we welcome it or try to fight it.   

Each of us has to decide what our reaction will be to the issues that the passage of time has in our lives, hearts, and minds. We can  bemoan it and race to plastic surgeons for facelifts, tummy tucks, and injections of botox. We can spend hard earned dollars on speciality creams from far off places that promise us youth in a bottle. Or, we can simply try to make wise and healthy choices in our lives.

We can spend time with God. We can laugh with loved ones. We can try to see the beauty that the passage of time allows us to witness. 

I have been blessed to get to share nearly 36 years as the wife of my best friend. We have been blessed with 4 children. During these years, we have shared sorrows and we have shared joys. I am amazed that this man still can make my heart skip a beat when he walks into a room. I like being near him whether we are discussing our kids, current events, theological issues, social issues; or, whether we are watching a tv show, reading a book, or in silence. Just being near him brings me joy. 

My life is written in those wrinkles around my eyes and mouth. Some are from tears and some are from laughter. They announce to the world that I am alive and have lived a real life not one filled in with plastic. 

Now, do I like those wrinkles? Not really. Would I prefer that I had fewer? Of course, I would. I will continue to try to smooth them over with my creams but I will also try to understand that they are part of who I am. They remind me of the roads that I had traveled. They show a life that has been lived. And, I imagine in about 5 or 10 years that I will be looking back at pictures of me from today and wishing that I looked this good. Ha. My perception seems to change as I age. I believe that I will try to enjoy life at this stage without worrying about bright lights.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Really? Getting older is not for the weak or the vain...

Today I uncovered another little known fact about aging. At least, little known to me. This newest discovery shocked me as I didn't know "it" could occur. Now, my lack of knowledge might be that my wee brain never considered it or that I am just plain dumb. I honestly can say that I have never noticed this lovely new thing with my friends because either: a) it hasn't happened for any of them, b) they have disguised it well, or c) I have pitiful powers of observation. Selfishly, I am hoping that the answer is c because I would love to complain with someone who understands my grievance.

I have been sick and my blessed thoughts were that I should take a shower and it would improve my mood and perhaps my health and it would definitely endear me a bit to my family.

After my loving husband left for church this evening, I took my shower. As I was drying off, I looked in the mirror. The sun was coming through the window in such a way to show all of one's flaws - like a stray hair on my chin. grrr. I got my tweezers and it was removed. Problem solved. I've learned the routine in dealing with that lovely issue.

As I stood looking at my reflection, I studied my eyes. I thought, oh my... I guess I pulled some of my eyelashes out yesterday while going nuts with my eye pain. I couldn't hardly see any on the bottom. However, I noticed the top lashes were looking thin, too. I sort of growled at myself. Then, the sunlight lit up my face at just the right angle. I did indeed have my lashes but they had turned white.


I couldn't believe it. I thought that was one area that the passage of time left alone. I grabbed my iPad and did a quick google search. Eyelashes can and do turn white.

I really felt the need to write this down so that if you haven't had this happen to you, you will be prepared. I don't want anyone to scream when it happens to them causing them to pee their pants. Weak bladders are another area that I could write about. I want to share my knowledge with my friends. Also, if you are dealing with this - bless your hearts.

Honestly, maybe it's time to buy a red hat and wear Ray Bans ALL of the time. I may not tell Mark. He freaked out a couple of years ago when he realized that his wife, who is three years younger than him, had more gray hair than he did. But, that's another story somewhere in my blog.

Be Blessed and may hair color, tweezers and mascara always be your friends.

Good Bye to Daisy


Daisy was born 10 years ago January. Her momma was Minnie. Minnie had had two litters of pups before Daisy. Her puppies were always bright, healthy, and beautiful. But, her third and last litter was different. All the puppies were born dead or deformed and died almost immediately. But, one little short-haired red girl was hanging on. Daisy was so weak that she could stay lashed when trying to eat. I had to sit with her and hold her up to her Momma and I gave her a supplement that I got from the vet for about 2 or 3 weeks. After that, she was strong enough to eat on her own.

When you spend that much time trying to keep a puppy alive, you cannot sell her or give her away. Daisy and her momma were a sweet pair.

Minnie, her momma, was a bright little dog. She was housebroken but LOVED being outside. Daisy was a sweet little dog but we could not house break her. I called her my "wee-pee brain". She ended spending most of her time outside. Of course, she slept in a crate in the house at night. And, when it was too hot or cold we had fans or heaters on the screened in porch for her during the day or I would block her in our kitchen (tile flooring in there).

When her momma died a few years ago, Daisy mourned her. She was so depressed. I tried, once again, for several weeks to housebreak her. I read up on several methods. Nothing worked. So, most afternoons, I would bring her in the house and block her in the kitchen while I cooked supper. She, of course, peed all over the kitchen floor.

When we got Toby, Daisy was thrilled. She finally had a playmate again and she seemed to stop mourning the loss of her momma.

Daisy never growled and snapped at anyone. She loved attention and people. She was a baby. She hated getting her nails filed down. Jessie, our groomer, had to put up with lots of fussing from her when she would come and do her nails.

Eighteen months to two years ago, Daisy jumped off the bottom step and hurt her shoulder. She was in major pain and let us know it. Mark carried her to the vet and she was given a shot with pain medication and steroids. We had to keep her still, so she stayed in the house during her recovery for about two weeks. We carried her outside to do her business. Last year, she stopped eating for a couple of days, and again Mark carried her to the vet. He was told she had the flu and was given antibiotics and something else (not sure but a think some steroids). She recovered quickly.

She started acting the same way this week. We realized on Friday that she wasn't eating. Saturday, we brought her inside so we could baby her. She wouldn't even drink water at first and refused to eat anything. By, last night she seemed to have gained back some strength. She was able to walk around a bit, drank some water. Her breathing was no longer labored. She slept on the cool tile floor in the kitchen and then came and got back in her bed next to me.

Mark and I were relieved and both thought that she probably had the flu again. My plan was to carry her to the vet Monday morning.

God had another plan. Daisy died in her sleep sometime after midnight (the last time we checked on her). She was curled up in her normal position. She never cried out. My prayer is that she went peacefully.

I have been distraught because she couldn't be in the house more with the family. Mark reminded me that Daisy actually had a pretty good little life. She was loved, always taken care of, got to run and play with first her momma and later Toby and Marcie. She seemed to be a happy little dog.

I do not believe that dogs have souls and go to heaven. The life we provide for them is it. My little dog never knew abuse, never knew hunger, and was always in a sweet mood. How sad that some dogs are neglected, allowed to have parasites, beaten, and abused. I hope that her life was happy.
We will bury her today next to her momma.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Thoughts on Chambers' April 25 devotion

"The proof that we are rightly related to God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not... If you make a god of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life and never come back until you do the duty that lies nearest, and have learned not to make a fetish of your rare moments" (Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, April 25).

Mountain top experiences with our Lord are the absolute best; however, those moments are not the norm. They are bonuses. They are wonderful. But, they cannot be the moments that keep you on track with The Lord and His ministry. Look for moments with God in your daily life. That unexpected hug from a child, a sweet note from a friend, a bad situation that gets easily resolved. We are called to be in the world but not of the world. God's sovereignty is abundantly clear in our daily lives.  I would rather have 365 days spent with God than one holiday every year or two.

Perhaps, your life is dull at times or those mountain top moments come infrequently. That does not give you license to neglect your duty and not to be the best ambassador for Christ. Serve Jesus in and out of season. When we serve Him, we will begin to recognize Him in our daily moments and all the pomp and circumstance will be unnecessary.

Be Blessed,

Tuesday, April 07, 2015


“Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace" (Luke 7: 44b-50, ESV).

Christ's questions to me, "Do you love Me? Do you believe in Me? If so, where is your peace?"

Jesus didn't measure this woman's faith. He stated simply, "Your faith has saved you, go in peace." Peace. This little word packed with meaning left me questioning the state of my heart. Do I go in peace?

When others view my walk, do they see peace and assurance or trepidation and unrest? When I lay my head down to sleep, is my mind quiet with full trust in Jesus?

Today, I intend to live more fully in the spirit. My prayer is that I walk in peace and live my faith as I love my God. No other action is required. I must love The Lord my God with all my heart, strength, and soul. And, He is faithful to forgive and give us peace.

Be Blessed and go in peace,

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Are You the One?

Are You the One?

"And said to him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me’” (Matthew 10:3-6, ESV).

Dear One,

Occasionally in our walk with The Lord, we ask the question that John posed, "Are you the One?" Our faith sometimes falters especially when feeling attacked on all fronts. My sweet husband once told me that asking God this type of question was not a denial of faith but showed a hope for a response from Christ.

Mark elaborated that if my faith were totally depleted, I would not be begging for God to respond to me. Being hurt, ill, feeling alone, empty and betrayed does not mean that Christ is not the Savior. It simply means that we are living in a fallen world where His salvation is desperately needed.

Mark suggested for me to remember the times when Jesus showed up in my life.  I needed to recall His responses when I felt that He was not hearing, seeing, or caring about whatever was going on at the moment causing me to suffer and to wonder, "Where are you, Jesus? Are you the One?"

These principles still work for me today. When I am hurting and my faith feels weakened, I remember. I stop and remember when Jesus responded to my prayers. I remember the work of Christ in the lives of loved ones and friends. I remember what I have seen Jesus do.

Asking God questions is not a sign of lost faith. It is a sign of conversation and expectation.

Be Blessed,

Monday, March 16, 2015

Judgment Seat of Christ

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Cor. 5:10, NASB).

I have heard people use this verse to suggest this scenario. All of us (Christians and non-Christians) will stand before the judgement seat of God and all of their sins will be displayed on a large screen for all to see.

This is a wrong interpretation of this verse. Saying that Christians will be judged for their sins, is nullifying the atoning work of Christ. The judgment seat in Corinth was called the bema seat. This was the place where athletes were rewarded. Christians will not be judged for their sins. Those sins have been forgiven.

In fact, Psalm 103:12 stated, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us) (NASB). Christians pass from the Great White Throne of Judgment. The judgment seat (bema seat) of Christ in Corinthians is referring to our work for the kingdom. These will be acknowledged and rewarded.

We are called to share the gospel and to complete the race. Sharing the gospel takes on many forms. However, we are not called to judge each other as to whether their way of sharing satisfies us. God equips each man or woman to share His Son according to their bent and making. Don't be concerned whether your neighbor is sharing Christ that way you are called to share Him. Be conscience, instead, of your own actions and motivations.

Share Christ as you are led and use the gifts He has given you to encourage those around you.

Be Blessed,

Monday, March 02, 2015

Thoughts on Chambers Devotion of March 2

"Rarely, but probably once, He will get us into a corner where He will hurt us with His undeviating questions, and we will realize that we do love Him far more deeply than any profession can ever show" (Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).

I had to read Chambers devotion for today a couple of times to get the clear meaning of what he was saying. Memories of the time in my life, my Peter moment, came upon me like a flood. I remember when I had to face the reality of my affection for Christ. It was about a year and a half after the kidnapping. Those days still seem a blur but one thing that I remember clearly was the pain. The wretched rawness of it much like an open wound that burns and throbs was still fresh and it could come upon me at the most inopportune junctures.

During that period, I did question the reality of my love and faith in Christ. Also, I questioned His love for my children, my husband, and me. I remember feeling isolated in those emotions and doubts. So, I tried to stay busy - busy raising my son, Michael. I tried to stay busy in ministry at church both in leading a children's choir and serving in the adult choir. I stayed busy at Michael's school helping a little girl who had reading difficulties. Being busy was my friend.

I had discovered that when I occupied much of my time, I did not have as much time to ponder my attitude toward Jesus or His attitude toward me. Denial of my emotional state was my attempt at keeping whatever sanity I had left protected. Of course, burying one's heart is never a healthy path.

Unexpectedly, a mothers of one my son's friends posed a question to me. She asked if Mark and I would still have chosen to serve Christ and attend seminary if we had known the future meant losing two of our children. To this day, I am surprised by the forceful assurance of my answer. Also, there was no hesitation in my answer. I replied that we had no choice and that loving and serving Jesus was not an option in our lives. I remember telling her that God called us not the other way around.

Later that evening as I related the conversation to Mark, I knew. I knew that despite my doubts and sometimes pitiful faith that Christ was the center of my soul. I knew that regardless the sorrows and my misunderstandings of His care and provision that I was called to trust Him, love Him, and serve Him until my last breath on this earth was completed. I have found that I am occasionally left standing and praying, "Lord, I believe. Help me in my unbelief."

Friday, February 13, 2015

Why I hide my Pain

Do you remember the story of Christ in the garden praying before He was crucified? He asked his disciples to stay awake with Him, but they could not. Do you remember how many of those closest to Him were at the cross when they crucified Him? All had vanished except for John. Eleven of His closest friends abandoned Him. One sold Him for 30 pieces of silver and Peter denied even knowing Him.

Now, let me tell you how I relate the sorrow of Christ with my sorrow and why I feel that I must wear my facade and allow no one save Christ to see the depth of my pain.

I did not just lose a son. I did not just lose a daughter. I lost all my blood relations except for my son, Michael. My mother was diabolical in what she did.

My sisters abandoned me. I loved my sisters - both of them very much. Patti and mother did not always get along. There were many nights when Patti would be knocking on my bedroom window and crying over a fight she and mother had. I would go unlock the door, and she would pile into my arms and tell me her troubles. I never said,"Go away." or "Why are you waking me up in the middle of the night (or wee hours of the morning)?" Instead, I was there for her - loving her.

After my sister, Sherry, had her first born, mother started making claims that Sherry was a bad mother and that she suspected that Rusty was doing inappropriate things to Sandy. I told my mother that she was way out of line and that she was wrong. I told her that Rusty was a good father and that Sherry loved her daughter. I defended them both adamantly and told her that if she continued with her lies that I would tell Sherry and Rusty what she was saying. Later, mother told me that she did not mean those things and that she was having a hard time emotionally and shouldn't have said them.

I loved my parents and my grandparents. We lived between Murfreesboro and LaVergne, TN. My grandmother stopped by my house one day and started complaining about my parents. My dad's business had gone bankrupt and my parents were experiencing financial difficulties. My parents also did not attend church, which was very important to my grandmother. Grandmother said several things very hateful about my parents - while I tried to defend them. Finally, grandmother told me that if Sandra wasn't her daughter that she would not have anything to do with my parents.

I was stunned. At that point I calmly replied, "Grandma, you need to leave now. I love you and Papa but I also love my parents and I will not allow you to come into my home and say such horrible things." At that point, I walked to the front door and opened it and told her good-bye.

About fifteen minutes later my phone was ringing. (This was before the days of cell phones or caller ID.) My mother was on the phone asking me to tell her about my visit with my grandmother. She informed me that grandmother had stopped at a pay phone and called her and told her that I had told her to leave my house. Grandmother told mother that she might have said some negative things about her and daddy and that when she told me, I made her leave my house. I told my mother it was true and I had asked grandmother to leave if she was going to say unkind things about the people that I loved. My mother told me that grandmother had said she would never do that again.

I am writing these stories to emphasize the fact that I loved my crazy family. I defended them from each other. I stood by them. Yet, NONE of them defended Mark and me when mother started saying horrible lies about us. Sherry who had run away from home twice as an older teen and again in her twenties without telling anyone where she was because (as Sherry told me) our parents were nuts, abandoned me. Patti who used to come to me crying about mother and my grandmother who told me that she did not want to have anything to do with her own daughter.... ALL of these people climbed on board the crazy ship with my mother and did nothing to help me when my mother brainwashed and stole my children.

When mother started making the accusations, I tried talking to my father and his response to me was, "Debbie, I have gone too far and there is no turning back for me now." I had NO idea that his going to far was accusing nearly every official in Murfreesboro as being in the satanic cult or that he had made plans to kidnap my children.

Instead of my sisters, my grandparents and my father telling mother to close her mouth and tell me what she was saying.... they abandoned me. Patti even lied in court for my mother and then confessed to the lie and the judge told her to get out of his courtroom. These people who I loved and still love did nothing except abandon me and probably helped my parents.

But, these people were my family and they were loved by me. And, I lost ALL of them. I did not just lose two of my children, I lost everyone that I loved because none of them defended me. None of them told me what mother and daddy were doing.

Can you imagine my pain? Can you even begin to think that you could endure me if I walked around and let friends or church members or neighbors really see the depth of sorrow that is in my heart? I think not. I believe like the disciples, they would abandon me and leave me hanging alone on my cross.

What does my sorrow look like? My sorrow is darker than the darkest black of the deepest cave. My sorrow has evil, hideous yet familiar faces waiting to tear into my flesh and rip out my heart. My sorrow contains more pain than the burning of flesh that I experienced when I was 8 years old. My sorrow cannot be endured by anyone save Christ.

So, I go to Him. I cry out to Him and He provides me with enough strength to face one more day. He provides me with enough sanity to live and believe that His return will rescue me from this tortured life I live. He gives me enough strength to try to walk among the breathing and pretend that goodness dwells in the land of the living. Yet, I am truly a shell and only exist because of His strength. Jesus daily picks up my sorrow and carries it. And, I know without any doubt that if I ever tried to let another living mortal carry that pain instead of allowing Christ to bear it, I would stop breathing.

No, I will continue to wear my facade and try to live in this world with the knowledge that He will not abandon me and that His love is the only strength on which I can truly count.  

God has provided me with friends but they only know me through the strength that Christ has provided. The few times I have tried to allow Mark to see this pain, he turns me off. He cannot bear it and he lost his children along with me. But, he didn't lose everyone.

Most of us only have one Jonathan (as to David) or John (as to Jesus) in our lives. If you have that one than count yourself blessed. I have one friend who comes close to truly seeing and knowing the agony of soul. And, she has never judged me or left me or pushed me away. But, even with her, I do not allow her to truly know all.

God has given me others who reach out in comfort, prayers, and support but I know that they would not  be capable of handling the totality of my agony. I am not ignorant to the fact the God does have His church here for a purpose but the church is not Christ. So, I will trust that the amount of pain that Christ lets others see, it is the amount they might can comprehend.

I hesitate to say that I will not hide my pain because those who have seen a portion of my pain usually do not begin to understand it. Often, they try to minimize it and this sorrow cannot nor should it be marginalized. My children are worth all this sorrow. The lost of all those that I loved is worth all the agony. After 25 years of allowing Jesus to keep a record of my tears, I will not give this task to another.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Memories and Poems

On occasion folks have inquired how I am able to continue and to live a relatively normal life. Of course, I am not sure exactly what normal is and I don't think that Mark and I have lived a normal life; however, we have prevailed with the help of the Father.

Today, I am sick most likely with the flu. I am sure that most Christians have experienced severe attacks from Satan when your body and health are compromised. Unfortunately, I am not immune from this type of spiritual warfare. So, this morning I continued  reading in Ezekiel (11 - 13). Such a lovely place to read when feeling ill and  melancholy. Not. I read today's devotion from "My Utmost for His Highest" and heard myself murmur, "I don't know what I just read."

My day continued and I decided that a shower was the thing that would invigorate me. Wrong. The shower nearly did me in. That's when my mind began to think on my sisters. Sisters that I loved and thought loved me. That's when my thoughts went to my oldest son, Bobby. I nearly gave in to my feelings of remorse but instead I heard myself say, "No, God. I am done. I can't deal with the sadness today. Take this away from me because I have no prayers left to cry."

I continued trying to half dry my hair when God spoke through another memory. - a better memory. As a little girl I got sick often. During some of those times, my mother would come into my room and put a cool cloth on my forehead. She also read me this poem.

Land of Counterpane
by Robert Louis Stevenson

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

Let's face it, I would rather one of my sisters or Christi and Bobby call me but for now I'll take a memory that isn't dealing with my mother's destructive plans. The fact is this, I have never stopped loving my family. While they continue to spurn me, I continue to pray for them. And, today.... I'll remember poems.

Be Blessed,

Friday, January 23, 2015

A few thoughts on the Teachings of Marcus Borg

A friend posted on the death of Marcus Borg yesterday. She called him an inspirational and thinking theologian. Here are some of my thoughts regarding the theological thoughts of Marcus Borg.
I really have issues with his take on the events surrounding the birth of Christ. When speaking of the miracles concerning the birth of Christ Borg wrote:
"To be candid, I do not think that any of this happened. Of course, there is some historical memory in the stories. Jesus was born. He really lived. He was Jewish. His parents’ names were Mary and Joseph. They lived in Nazareth, a very small peasant village, perhaps as small as a few hundred. But I do not think that there was an annunciation by an angel to Mary, or a virginal conception, or a special star, or wisemen from the East visiting the infant Jesus, or angels filling the night with glory as they sang to shepherds.
Yet I am not a “debunker” of these stories. I do not dismiss them as “fables” or “fabrications” or “falsehoods.” Many in the modern world do see the two options as “it happened this way” or “it didn’t” – and if it didn’t, then we are dealing with delusions and deceptions. A few years ago, a television special on these stories posed the question that way: are they “fact or fable”?
There is a third option. Namely, the Christmas stories with their miraculous elements were not intended to be “factual” in the sense of reporting what actually happened. Rather, they are early Christian testimony, written roughly a hundred years after Jesus’s birth. They testify to the significance that Jesus had come to have in their lives and experience and thought. The stories are parabolic, metaphorical narratives that can be true without being factual" (From Dr. Borg’s blog on Patheos:
Seems like many brilliant people cannot believe in the miraculous. They want to explain it away but still call themselves Christian theologians. Yet, the very creation of the earth was a miracle. Scientist cannot explain it. They try and they fail. A finite being cannot create something out of nothing. If you prefer to think it all began with a Big Bang, a lingering and sobering question still remains. Where did the elements come from that produced the bang? The cosmos had to have a beginning and the beginner of it (the creator), had to be one of superior intellect and with the ability to create out of nothing, which seems to suggest that the miraculous was involved.
Borg and others in his camp want to take this amazing fact away from God - God can do anything He desires to do. Man cannot begin to understand the mind or the workings of the Father. Yes, I have many questions. I want to know how God operates in the miraculous. But, for now I have to trust and wait.
1 Corinthians 13:12 sums up my attitude on many issues.
"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known" (NASB).

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Look of Success

When the men came to Him (Jesus), they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, ‘Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?’ ” (Luke 7: 20, NASB).

The Look of Success

Success when doing the kingdom's work does not always appear as success with mortal finite eyes. A popular false doctrine proclaims that when we are following God's direction, His blessings will be evident. However, that is not often the case with the one who has sacrificed his or her life to seeking and doing the will of the Father.

John the Baptist proclaimed the coming of Christ and yet, his earthly reward was prison and beheading. The world would not proclaim execution as success. In fact, many of our current popular Bible teachers and pastors would probably be telling John that he missed the mark. "John, if you were following God's direction and listening to His spirit, you would not find yourself in such a mess. Obviously, you went off on your own because God would have blessed you and your efforts."

However, the purpose of John's life was not to promote himself to a larger ministry, a bigger house and a newer car. His purpose was to point folks to Jesus. His question was not based on John's believing that he had missed the mark, but was an inquiry, "Are you Jesus, my cousin, the one?"

This question was not for John's ease of mind. John wanted to tell his followers either, "Yes, Jesus is the one." Or, "No, look for another." His concern was for his followers.

What great joy must have enveloped his heart and soul when the response from Christ  was, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have the gospel preached to them" (Luke 7: 22, NASB).

John died knowing that the Messiah, of whom He taught, had arrived in the flesh. John never assumed that he was commissioned to elevate himself. His life was to help prepare hearts to receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

Dear servants of God, your success is not based on worldly wealth or fame. It is based on one simple truth. Have you fulfilled the mission of pointing others to the saving knowledge of Christ Jesus? Sometimes, there will be material success involved but other times success is not evident in that way. Your purpose is to promote Jesus not self. Occasionally, success in the kingdom will cost you all you hold dear even to the point of your life.

Be Blessed,

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Today's thoughts...

Jeremiah 39:18 (ESV):

"For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the Lord.”

Despite the brevity of this verse,  it holds some significant meaning for us. First, Jeremiah said these words to  Ebed-melech the Ethiopian because this man trusted in the words of the prophet. God's chosen people and their kings had rejected the message. Unfortunately for them, they would surely suffer the consequence of abandoning God and his instructions. Yet, an Ethiopian's faith and trust in the man sent from God would save him. Most of us, like the Ethiopian are adopted into the family of God.

Secondly, this message should help define our behavior today. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. Despite the injustice and the immoral behavior that is rampant in our nation, we are called to speak the truth of the scripture and to trust Christ. A watered down message has no power to overcome sin.

This may mean that we get dropped into a cistern and sink deep into the mud. But, we are called to passionately maintain and keep our faith. We are still called to speak the truth of God's words.

Remember, the truth is not only for you but for those who hear and heed it. An important point to notice here, Jeremiah, who was imprisoned and punished, kept saying the truth of the message. We want this short verse to be his reward; yet, this word was for an Ethiopian who had heard the message and trusted God.

Be of good cheer, you may be ridiculed and feel stuck in deep mud, but you are called to speak the truth of scripture. The calling to do this task not to simply save and bless yourself but to bless the listeners. Be resolved today to continue to preach the truth with your words and actions. Remember, your faith and trust in God has already saved you. You no longer face eternal damnation. Now, it is time to put on your spiritual armor and march into battle and bravely defend and live the gospel of Christ. Our task is not to kill the unbeliever but to point him to Christ so that he may be saved.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Surrender of the Will

"'My determination is to be my utmost for His Highest.' To get there is a question of will, not of debate nor of reasoning, but a surrender of will, an absolute and irrevocable surrender on that point" (January 1, Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).

Yesterday's reading set the tone of this lovely daily devotion book. It also spoke to this rather broken heart of mine. The "surrender of will" is such a difficult thing to do. We are taught from earliest education to strive, to succeed, to think on our own. Then we come to the teaching of scripture and the apostle Paul tells us to surrender with complete abandonment to God. Surrendering to God can become an insurmountable task for those of us who have struggled. Trusting God is a difficult occupation when parents, family and people claiming to know Christ have wounded one deeply.

Much of our understanding for God develops from the people we come in contact with that claim to know Him. When these people prove to be impostors, those blasted wolves in sheep's clothing, they damage the entire body of Christ. In order for us to understand the intended relationship with God, He is often portrayed as Father. Yet, when one's earthly father has failed miserably in his duty and love as a father, this analogy is hard to understand, let alone accept.

This is the situation with which I battle. I have often felt like I was peering into the window of a neighbor's home where the father and mother truly love their children. Therefore, I have often described my relationship with God as His forgotten stepchild. Not as one who is truly His daughter or the recipient of His selfless love, but close enough to see a father's love poured out on His true children. Trusting God with my will is a challenge for me on occasions since I have rarely felt invited to the inner circle of His home and hearth.  When those who should have cherished you such as one’s parents, grandparents and sisters, have damaged your heart the picture of God as Father and Christ as Brother can be rather offensive and hurtful.

Yet, I long to have a Father who loves me and embraces me with the gentleness of a sweet summer's eve. I desire to lazily sit on the porch swing with Him and hear His direction and know that His advice comes to me because I am His beloved daughter and not an unwanted stepchild.

My heart's cry this year is to keep myself above the trappings and the pain of this world. I intend to trust God as Holy and Loving. To be an ambassador for Christ that draws people to Him and to not act as a repellant is my deep desire. Like Paul, I do not want to ever be ashamed but to continue to submit my stubborn will to Christ's will. True examples of this totality of God-living are hard to find in this world. My prayer is that I can be one of His children choosing to live my life with no thought of my will but only of His with a compete trust in Him.

I want to end my ramblings with a quote from Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622) who explained complete trust with the following statement:

"Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life with fear. Rather, look to them with full confidence that, as they arise, God to whom you belong will in his love enable you to profit by them... Be at peace then, and put aside all useless thoughts, all vain dreads and all anxious imaginations."

Be Blessed,