Thursday, June 21, 2018

Faithfully Pray

My prayer list has suddenly become very long. There are so many people I know who have health concerns, personally or in their family right now. I feel blessed to not have a major concern of which I am aware. But, the weight of others' concerns is sometimes overwhelming. Lord, hear our prayers today.
God takes our prayers; leaving us empty-handed.

I try very hard to be faithful to those I promise to pray. So as I went to bed last night and couldn't sleep, I worked through all the prayers I had committed to offer. My heart was breaking as I moved through each plea and considered how that person must be feeling. The fear, the unknowns, the lack of control of the situation, the need to trust God completely...grant them courage, resolve, trust in the doctors and especially trust in God for His total manipulation of the circumstance.

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective," (James 5:13-16 NIV).

Jesus gave us righteousness when He died upon the cross for our sins. Our prayers are heard by our Heavenly Father. He has compassion for us and those we lift up. He knows the outcome, even before we ask, and our pleas are real and precious to Him. He does not ignore our calls for help, but He listens and is touched by our heart cries.

"Pray continually," (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV). "Pray all the time," (1 Thessalonians 5:17 MSG).

With every breath; pray.

I listen to Christian music radio whenever I am in the car because it keeps me grounded in Christ. It keeps my focus on Him and my prayers on those with needs. I am so touched by the lyrics of contemporary Christian music, while the hymns I grew up with remain strong like mountains in my memory, reminding me of His promises and His love. Thank you, God, for music.

Hear us when we pray, Lord.
Bring us answers and understanding.
Comfort us when we cry. Amen.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Words To Glorify God

It's Monday morning and I am feeling pressured by the piles of laundry, a dishwasher to empty, water aerobics to get to, groceries to get because there is no milk or fresh food, plants to water before the sun suffocates them, and a book bag filled with precious notes from a great writers' workshop. Everything will get done in its own time but this blog needs to be written first.

A wonderful 2018 Cedar Falls Christian Writers Workshop is in the books. I was blessed greatly by the speakers, the people I met and enjoyed, and the information that was shared. I think what God impressed on me, over and over, was to seek Him first...before I write, before I do anything. I know that God is always with me, but sometimes I forget to trust. I forget to accept His presence as the resource that is way better than GPS, road signs, a smart phone, a wise best friend, maps, or Siri-all put together.

Writing is something I do because I love it. I am a vessel that overflows with words, forcing their way out of my head and onto the computer screen. Sometimes they come easily and the flow seems unstoppable and never ending. Other times the outside noise clutters up the spout and the words seem to fall out in globs of thoughts or pieces of work.

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer," (Psalm 19:14 NIV).

I claim a portion of another scripture as my personal theme. "Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible,'" (Matthew 19:26 NIV).

Lord, as I begin a new day, be in me, work with me, and speak through me with words that touch hearts with Your love. May the Glory be Yours, O God. Amen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

I Practice Deceit

We have been enjoying a friendly hummingbird at our feeder this summer. It likes to come early in the morning and late at night. It even came in the middle of a rainstorm on Sunday evening. There are actually two hummingbirds that look quite different. One is an iridescent green and the other is much darker with the pretty iridescence on his feathers.

The hummingbirds drink the red syrupy substance through false flowers and don't seem to mind that I've deceived them. They like to sit on the wires of the tomato cages that are near the feeder. When they sit there they are calm, not fluttering their wings. I hope to get pictures sometime before they are tired of the feeder, but we will see if they cooperate when I'm finally ready to go with my camera.

Perhaps, because I practice this false attraction of hummingbirds, I need to plead for forgiveness of my sins. I hadn't realized what I was doing until this week when it suddenly occurred to me. I know I'm a sinner but this is an evil thing I am doing, attracting birds in a false way, just so I can watch them. Isn't it? I mean, planting flowers for the hummingbirds' enjoyment seems much kinder and more honorable than mixing up some fake red solution. I do plant many flowers for the birds and butterflies to enjoy but it is easier to catch a glimpse of the hummingbirds on our deck than it is down in our flower beds.

Scriptures are pretty clear about defining sin. Romans 1 clearly describes sinners. "They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless." (Romans 1:29-31 NIV).

I am truly remorseful as I consider what I've done. No sin is greater than another. I wasn't aware of my transgression with these pretty birds, but now I am. I will repent and ask God's forgiveness.

What else am I sweeping under the rug with God? Do I think He won't notice? I can't evaluate my life any too often. At every partaking of communion we are called to examine ourselves before we eat of the bread, representative of Christ's body, or drink of the juice representing Christ's blood. (1 Corinthians 11:28-31).

Maybe we shouldn't wait until communion day to truly examine our lives. Today is a good day. Why not check yourself out now?

Purity, honesty, 
A robe of white,
Am I ready to meet you, Worthy Lord?

Monday, June 11, 2018

Wind, Waves and Light From God

Our visit to Reiman Gardens on the Iowa State University campus reminded me of the amazing things God controls. This year's theme and sculpture exhibition is about wind, waves, and light. All things that God controls with His hands. The sculptures allowed us to see God's hands at work through the wind, waves and the light.

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us," (Psalm 103:11-12 NIV).

There is no greater way to express eternity than to consider the distance from east to west. There is no end point; it just keeps going both directions. It is infinity...eternity...endlessness...God, only God.

Memory of Fibonacci
Although the sculptures in Reiman Gardens were created by a man, George Sherwood, the objects of his creations showcase God's Creation in our environment. The wind and its speed and direction, the light in all its variations, and even precipitation change the images we see. God controls them all.

"Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, O my soul," (Psalm 103:22 NIV).

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Bucket List

(I had computer issues for two days so I missed Monday's blog - did anyone notice?)

Do you have a bucket list of things you want to do? Mine included visiting the High Trestle Trail and touring the Reiman Gardens in Ames.

When I attended Iowa State University in 1997-1998 the garden was under construction. I rode CyRide from the commuter parking lot to the main campus and passed the area every day, wondering what it would be like.

On Sunday we did both! (I'll discuss Reiman Gardens in another blog.)

East end of the High Trestle Trail near Madrid.
We had seen signs all over Ankeny pointing to the High Trestle Trail and we heard it was near Madrid, but without a bike to ride 20 miles from the Ankeny trailhead it seemed too far to walk. John searched the web and found directions to a parking lot .9 miles from the bridge. We drove to Madrid and found the parking area that led to a trail that connected with the bike path. We made our way on the gravel trail and arrived at the wide concrete bike trail with a flurry of bikers coming from Madrid.

It was extremely windy on Sunday and on the bridge it was like being in a wind tunnel. I felt like my face skin was being altered by the pressure of the gusts. My eyes watered and I struggled to stand up straight. The ends of the bridge were less windy and the rest areas there were much calmer. There are small picnic areas at each end of the bridge and you can continue on 2.5 miles west to Woodward from the bridge, or 2.5 miles to Madrid's Hwy 17. We crossed the bridge and back again, then returned to the parking area. We encountered many bikers and a few other walkers.

View of the High Trestle Bridge from the west.
As I consider my bucket list the only other thing on it is to be like Jesus and have the closest relationship possible with God throughout my life.

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus," (Acts 4:13 NIV).

I want to be like Peter and John - a visible reflection of Jesus, so people can look at me and know that I've been with Jesus. That's on my bucket list.

What's on your bucket list?

How can I be
Like you, Lord,
For I am not perfect.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

God Always

God with us.

There was a day when I was so depressed that I was hospitalized. I remember walking the hallway over and over, praying for relief. I finally reached a corner where I crouched down and curled up in almost a fetal position, crying out to God for help. The relief didn't come instantly, but I knew God was with me.

"...they will call him Immanuel--which means, "God with us.", (Matthew 1:23 NIV).

God over us.

John and I were stranded in a desert in Utah, 35 miles from the closest blacktop road. The tie rod of our vehicle was broken. We could have gone over the cliff of a road that God hid from us, instead God saved us, and our vehicle sat stranded in a gully.

"One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all," (Ephesians 4:6 NIV).

God in us.

I am shy, and it can be painfully difficult to meet new people and talk to them. Still I need not fear for God is in me, and through the Holy Spirit, He can work in me to give me love for others. God gives us the people He wants us to love. And He gives us the strength to love them.

"No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us," (1 John 4:12 NIV).

"For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose," (Philippians 2:13 NIV).

No matter our circumstance, God is there. 
He is with us, over us, and in us.
God always. Always God.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

A Day Late

I know. It is Tuesday morning, not my usual Monday morning. I'm a day late. If you follow my posts on Facebook you already know we had a wonderful busy weekend celebrating our grandson Calvin's graduation from Gilbert High School. He is such a nice young man (I've loved him for 18 years and one month.)! A grandmother's heart just seems to get bigger and bigger over time. There is so much to love.

So today, as I process all the memories of our good times, I hope this message offers you something you need on your Tuesday after memorial day. For many of you your hearts may be hurting as you focused on the many lost soldiers who fought so faithfully for our freedom. I remember them, too. I am so thankful for our earned freedoms and the country we live in. Though it is far from perfect, we are blessed to live here.

Jesus was a day or two or four late once, also. We may even think He is late in answering our prayers. But, God's timing is perfect, even when we can't understand. According to Mary and Martha Jesus was late answering their call to Him. They sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. Jesus loved Lazarus as a brother. The book of John tells the story of Lazarus' illness and Jesus' response in chapter 11. Jesus delayed his visit to Lazarus for a reason; to help others believe. We pick up the story as follows.

"When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him!' he asked. Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" (John 11:32-37 NIV).

"Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." (John 11:40-42 NIV).

Jesus then calls Lazarus from the tomb and he came out, still wrapped with linen. Lazarus lives! Jesus raised Lazarus from death so that all the people would know the power of God in His Son Jesus. Lazarus went on to recline at the table with Jesus for the Last Supper in the Upper Room.

Sometimes a day late is okay. Jesus used his tardiness to fulfill the prophesies and set Himself up to be crucified because so many came to follow Him after seeing Him raise Lazarus from the dead. The story of Lazarus continues to make believers. If you have doubts, or want a powerful reminder of Jesus' life, read or reread John Chapter 11. It is worth your time.

A beloved friend dies;
Jesus is late to save.
Instead He comes to raise Lazarus from death
so we would believe.