Search for Significance

This blog is dedicated to my friend, John Huang,

who posed questions and reflections in his blog that led to my reflection.

You can view John’s post at http://www.huangswhinings.com

Recently a friend of mine wrote in his blog about his personal search for significance.  He was considering the things in life that really matter.

 

Remembering The Dearly Departed

Many obituaries detail a list of what is perceived as the person’s worldly accomplishments.

The dearly departed had x many degrees and high powered jobs.  This person got someone to live with them for x number of years as a marriage partner and produced, either directly or indirectly, x more humans to add to the world.  Are these things really important?  Yes, they are, but only as helps to achieving what Jesus gave as the “Prime Directives “ for our time on earth.

 

Teacher of The Law Meets Master Teacher

A man who had already achieved being a teacher of The Law, was intent on doing the right things to be successful.  After listening to Jesus debating with some of his peers, the teacher pegged Jesus as a wise man, Who seemed to have good answers.  The teacher of The Law had an important question.

Let’s listen in on the conversation between the teacher of The Law and Jesus.

One of the teachers of the law came

and heard them debating.

Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer,

he asked Him,

“Of all The Commandments, 

which is the most important?”

“The most important one,”

answered Jesus,

“is this:  Hear O Israel:

The Lord our God,

The Lord is One.

Love The Lord your God

with all your heart

and with all your soul

and with all your mind

and with all your strength.

The second is this:

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

There is no Commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:28-31

God’s Prime Directive

When God looks at us, it would seem He doesn’t even note all the things we call accomplishments.  He looks at just the criteria Jesus spelled out that day:

1.  Do we recognize that God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are One?

2.  Do we love The One with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?

3.  Do we love our neighbor (and He later defined neighbor to be everyone … not just those who live next door)?

4.  Do we love our neighbor as we love ourselves?  (You mean it is ok to love ourselves?  Yes, because of Who lives inside us!)

 

Qualifying for Heaven

If I get to the Pearly Gates and seek admission to Heaven, it might go like this.  

I arrive with a heavy backpack of verifications of earthly accomplishments.  I have a marriage license and a birth announcement of my child’s arrival.  I have a ton of pictures.  I have certificates, diplomas, newspaper and magazine clippings verifying my accomplishments.  I have books and magazines and scores of music compositions.  I have video tapes of some of my finest moments.

God asks, “What do you have to show for your time on earth?  Tell me how you fulfilled the goals of your assignment there.”

I might proudly say, “I was a wife and a mother.”

He would say, “How did you use that assignment to bring Glory to Me and meet objectives 1-4?”

 

I might say, “I have a college education.  I was a member and officer of various clubs in High School and College.”

He would say, “How did you use that assignment to bring Glory to Me and meet objectives 1-4?”

 

I might say, “I had a long nursing career.  I even helped start the first inpatient Hospice in the state of Kentucky.”

He would say, “How did you use that assignment to bring Glory to Me and meet objectives 1-4?”

 

I might say, “After being a nurse, I was a teacher.  I taught others how to be nurses.”

He would say, “How did you use that assignment to bring Glory to Me and meet objectives 1-4?”

 

Perhaps feeling a bit frustrated that all my answers were being met with the same questions, I might say,

“But, beyond that, I became an author.  I published in professional journals.  I wrote and published Sunday School lessons on line.  I taught Sunday School.  I wrote books.  I even wrote a blog!”

He would say, “How did you use that assignment to bring Glory to Me and meet objectives 1-4?”

 

Nearing the bottom of my backpack of accomplishments, I might say,

“I composed music.  I sang for groups and for people individually.  I even sang on a You Tube video, sharing the music.”

He would say, “How did you use that assignment to bring Glory to Me and meet objectives 1-4?”

 

 

God Reviews The Qualifications for Heaven

I sense by that point, He might step away from The Gate and beckon me to come closer.

“You have told Me all about the Gifts I gave you to help you bring Glory to Me and meet objectives 1-4.  You can put your trophies away now.  You can’t bring them in here.

You didn’t seem to have many answers for the questions I have been asking you.  So let me break it down for you.

  1. Who do you say I AM?
  2. Do you love Me?
  3. How much of My Love have you shared with those persons who are not like you?  Do you love them like I do?  Do you look them seeing Me in them as their Creator and yours?  Do you recognize Me in them?  (Sometimes the first step is your being able to see Me in them, even before they recognize Me!)
  4. Finally, do you love yourself, knowing you are exactly who I created you to be?  Oh yes, there may be some rough edges yet to be polished, and some dirt to be removed, but do you know that at your very center, I AM.  Go back and review questions 1 and 2.

I don’t think you are ready to come inside yet.  I think you need a little more time on earth to think this out.  Review the prime objectives for your time on earth and be ready to report when I call you back.”

 

Why Am I Here?

If this were the scenario, I’m not sure whether I would feel disappointed not to have entered Heaven or whether I would feel relieved to have another chance to meet the Prime Objectives for my time on Earth.

My view has changed from what it once was.  I recognize with humility that any earth trophies I have managed to get won’t be going with me through Heaven’s Gates.

I also know that I have not been sent here to be a mirror of other people’s views, either to agree with them or to push back at them.  I am a window to allow others to see God’s Love, Goodness and Mercy.  I am here to help others hear His Knock at the door.  I am here to go with them to open the door with Joy and Expectation.

The most significant thing I can do in life is to show God’s Love and do all to His Glory.  It is He Who is The Life of Significance!

The best and truest thing that can be said about anyone is what Jesus said of His Relationship with His Father.

“Anyone who has seen me

has seen The Father.”

John 14:9

In my case, my hope and prayer is that they will see through my imperfections to The Perfect One Who lives inside me!

 

Note:  I have just started a new video teaching series.  The first video post includes a Love Song God gave me to sing.  When I asked Him where He was, He answered!  I would love for you to join my husband and me on the video journey.  I invite you to my book web site, where you can find the links to either You Tube or God Tube.  

www.christianreading.com/cjones

Heart

Knock! Knock! Who’s There?

Life comes from the inside and goes outward.  

Babies grow in the womb.   Then Life inside comes out.

Chicks grow inside the egg.  Then Life inside comes out.

Butterflies grow inside a cocoon.  Then Life inside comes out.

Fruits, Nuts and Vegetables grow inside their shells or outer covering.  Then Life inside comes out.

Even as we do not notice, our old skin is being pushed away and new skin replaces it.  Life inside comes out.

Life comes from the inside, not the outside.

So how is it that we reverse things when we think of Jesus in our hearts?  Many of us grew up hearing we should “invite Jesus into our hearts.”  As a child, I wondered where Jesus was before I invited Him into my heart.  As an adult, I never fully understood it either.

I looked at the famous picture of Jesus knocking on the door.  He always seemed to be outside the door waiting for me to answer the door.

And then one day I realized I had it backwards.  You see, Jesus created this house, called my body.  It’s His house and He has lived there from the beginning.  He was already in my heart, not by my choice, but by His.  He was waiting for me to discover He was there.  He knocked!

He does knock on the door to our hearts … from the inside.  If you place a stethoscope over my heart or your heart, you can hear Him knocking.  He wants us to open our hearts so He can come out where we can more fully experience Him.  He wants to go together with us into the world.

Take a few moments and enjoy His Reassuring Knock.  And then open the door and let Him in … into your life fully … and into the world!

Here I AM!  

I stand at the door and knock.  

If anyone hears My Voice and opens the door, 

I will come and eat with that person, 

and them with Me.  

Revelation 3:20

… I AM in you!

John 14:20

… The Kingdom of God is within you!

Luke 17:21

Knock-Door

The Man In The Rain — Remembering Wayne Smith

Many words will be written in the coming days in memory of Wayne Smith, who was promoted to Glory yesterday.  Wayne was the founding minister of Southland Christian Church in Lexington, Kentucky.  The church grew far beyond what Wayne envisioned at the beginning.

But this is not a story about that church.  It is the story of a man I met in the rain.  

Some years ago, our daughter attended The Lexington Christian Academy, which was based at Southland Christian Church.  I picked her up after school each day.

One day, as I reached the parking lot, it began to pour rain.  Fortunately I was early.  So I just sat in the car.  What was a simple gentle rain quickly became a storm.  All Heaven seemed to open, and everyone there poured buckets of water down on the earth.

It was raining so hard, I could hardly see the church.  But as I waited, a short, rather “portly” man emerged from inside the building.  He had no raincoat.  But he was holding an umbrella.

Slowly, he made his way to the parking lot.  He stopped by a car and helped a lady out.  He held the umbrella over her and gently placed her hand on his arm.  He then slowly returned to the building, getting wet himself, since there was not enough room for both of them to be covered by the umbrella.

He ushered the lady back to the building and then held the door open for her.  She went in.  However, he didn’t go in.  He returned outside into the storm.    He seemed to be scanning the parking lot.

Much to my amazement, he then began slowly walking out into the pouring rain again.  He went to another car and repeated the same process.  He helped a man out of his car, and guided him under the umbrella and together they returned to the building.

I saw him repeat this process several more times, each time becoming more and more soaked himself.  I did not know who he was.  All I knew was that he was an amazingly kind man, who didn’t mind getting wet, so others could stay dry.

While I was pondering the wonder of the scene that had unfolded before me, I saw him again coming out to the parking lot.  But this time, he was coming toward me.  I wondered if he was going to a car behind me.  However, he stopped next to my car!

Over the roar of the wind, he yelled, “Wanna go inside?”

I felt a bit guilty because I did not need to go inside.  My usual routine was to wait and our daughter came out to the car.  So I told him no thank you.  He took a moment to wipe the rain off his glasses, and then started back.  But as he went, he called back, “If you change your mind, I’ll be over there.”

He sloshed his way back to near the building and continued his watch of the parking lot.  As quickly as the storm had come up, it was over.  He folded up his umbrella and went inside.

It was only later that I found out that the man in the rain was The Reverend Wayne Smith, the pastor of the church.  I was to see him many other times over the years, often at ordinary places, such as Waffle House or Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Once I heard someone come up to him and call him “Reverend Smith.”  He laughed, the kind of laugh that seemed to originate in heaven, a laugh soaked in Joy.

He extended his hand to that person and said, “I’m not Reverend.  I’m Wayne.  Why don’t you sit down and have a cup of coffee.”

When he had open heart surgery later, the surgeons might have thought it a privilege to get a glimpse of that magnificent heart.  But many others had already seen it.  He had the kind of heart that expanded beyond the confines of a human body.

Jesus comes to us in many ways.  He sees us through all our storms and seeks us out.  He puts our hands around His Arm and guides us to shelter.  He invites us in.  And if we say no the first time, He tells us where He will be if we change our minds.

He introduces Himself without titles or pretense.  He invites us to stay and dine with HIm.

I am sure all the Saints of God rejoiced when Wayne arrived in Heaven.  And I imagine him sitting down and immediately starting a story about his adventures on earth.  

As I often do, when it rains, I will think of Wayne.  I think the best way to remember him will be to look for those in a life storm and go to them with an umbrella.

 

Heart

How To Comfort Those Who Are Hurting

A World That Needs Comfort

There are so many who need comforting.  Often while we desire to comfort others, we don’t know what to say or what to do.

Sometimes people say things that really don’t help.  Sometimes people try to talk about something else they are comfortable with in an effort to disract those who are suffering.  When those approaches don’t work, sadly people walk away and leave the suffering ones to suffer alone.

 

What You Need to Comfort Others

There is one crucial step to be able to comfort others.  We mujst receive Comfort from God for ourselves.  We cannot give that which we have never received.

 

Refusing To Be Comforted

Jeremiah 31:15 speaks of grief that cut so deeply that the mothers “refused to be comforted.”  Are there things that have wounded you so deeply that you refuse to let God comfort you?

Why would we refuse comfort?  Often it is because we no longer trust God.  Satan is quick to remind us God could have at least prevented that which caused us such great pain.  The questions linger of why He would allow us to suffer.

Questions cascade into fear.  If God allowed this deep wound, what else would He allow in the future?

 

God’s Answer to Allegations That He Doesn’t Play Fair!

God spoke to the questioning Job, simply reminding him that He was God.

God spoke, promising when (not if) we go through the deep waters, we will not drown.  When we go through the fire, we will not be burned.

God spoke, telling us He loves us with an Everlasting Love.

God spoke through David telling us He is our Shephered and we have everything we need.  His Goodness and Mercy will follow us all the days of our life.

God spoke, telling us He knows The Plans He has for us and they are Good Plans.

 

Can You Forgive God?  Will You Trust Him?

Can you forgive God for not creating the world you wanted Him to create for you and your loved ones?  Can you allow Him to be Who He is — The Creator?  Can you be who you are — His Created?  Can you accept He will bring good out of things that look unbelievably bad to you now?  Can you trust Him for this moment and also with your future?  

To be comforted is to believe Him and trust Him, no matter how fiercely the storm rages, no matter how deep the waters, no matter how hot the fire and no matter that we see no good in the plans that seem to be unfolding.

 

Receiving God’s Comfort and Letting It Overflow to Others

Take a few moments and consider whether there is any place in your life where you have refused to be comforted.  Do you trust God?  Settle the matter wih God now.

Receive His Comfort so you can be at Peace and comfort others with His Peace.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

Who comforts us in all our troubles,

so that we can comfort those in any trouble

with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives,

so also through Chist our comfort overflows.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5

Heart

Can We Hoard God’s Word?

As we have gone further into our home clean up project, we have learned much about ourselves.

It has been interesting to see what each of us is willing to give up and what we aren’t.  We have been forced to consider whether we are hoarders or guardians of precious treasures.

Today God and I had a conversation about whether I was hoarding His Word.  Ironically on the same day we were getting ready to contribute to an organization that gives Bibles, I cleaned out the bookcase in our family room.

I cheerfully loaded up a box with books to go to the library.  The box did not include the various Bibles I had collected over the years.

I felt God’s Nudge.

“What about My Word?”  He said.

I smiled, being sure He would be proud of me for taking such good care of The Bibles.  I pointed out how I had put them right back on the shelf.

There seemed to be a Holy Silence, followed by a deep Celestial Sigh.

“I thought you wanted to share My Word.”

“I do.  We’re contributing to that Bible group today.”

“What about those Bibles on the shelf?  Are you going to share them?”

I explained how I had received each of them on special occasions.  I reminded Him that most had my comments written in them.

He asked, “So, let Me understand this.  You have multiples copies of My Truth, along with Truths I have revealed to you.  And you plan to keep them closed up and on display here?”

It was my turn to sigh.  Oh …

I added The Bibles to the box.  I am making a donation tomorrow.  It has given me Joy tonight to contemplate who might be surprised to receive a Bible with “Carolyn’s Commentary” written in the margins!

Perhaps you might also want to send out God’s Words.  You may never know where they will go, but you can trust God will see they get delivered to the right person at the right time!

As recorded in Isaiah 55:11, God said,

“My Word … shall not return to Me empty,

but will accomplish what I desire

and achieve The Purpose for which I sent it!”

 

Heart

 

Your Scars: Evidence that God’s Got You Covered!

Most of us try very hard to cover up our struggles, our wounds and scars.  We believe they will somehow detract from our Christian witness.

 

And yet, Jesus, Who could have resurrected without His Wounds and Scars, chose to give a vivid Life Lesson.  

 

Jesus called Thomas’ attention to His Wounds, even encouraging him to touch them.  Why?  Was Jesus seeking pity?  No!

 

He wanted Thomas (and us) to understand that the reality was He had suffered.  Jesus had already told His Followers,

“In this world, you will have trouble.”  

John 16:33

 

But the Greater Reality came through His next Words.  

“But take heart!  I have overcome the world!”

John 16:33

 

Whatever has happened, is happening, or will happen in your life, He can still bring New Life through you.  Your scars are not there for you to pick the scabs off and be hurt all over again.  Your scars are there to remind you that Jesus has covered and healed your wounds.

 

When I saw that our rose bushes had come under significant attack I was not sure they would return with their beautiful blooms this year.  And yet … they are now thriving and blooming even while showing the evidence of the battle.

 

I find most inspiring those people, who are honest and up front about their struggles, but also proclaim faithfully through their lives the Truth of …

“The One Who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world!”  

1 John 4:4

 

They shine with true beauty even while under attack.  When you think of the wounds of your life, don’t go back and live through the pain all over again.  You will remember that the battle happened, but praise God that He won it for you.  Your scars are Loving Reminders that He has you covered!

 

Rose-Flower

Joy Thief

In referring to satan, Jesus said,

“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy …”

John 10:10

 

What is the thief going to steal?

Your Joy

 

Why does he want your Joy?

Because “The Joy of The Lord is your strength!”

Nehemiah 10:10

 

Once satan steals your joy, he has your strength.  And then he will try to kill you by continuing to steal from you.

 

The Result?

“A crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 17:22

 

That was the bad news.  Now for The Good News!

Read the rest of John 10:10.  Jesus added,

“I have come that they may have Life, and have it to the full!”

 

Don’t open the door to a thief who will take from you.  Open the door to The One Who wants to give you a LIFE!

 

Thief

Lessons From My Mother

Everything Happens in God’s Timing!

My mother told me she always wanted children, but at first, it just didn’t happen.  She said she felt sad, but whatever the reasons, she also felt God knew best.  

Then ten years after she and my father married, my brother was born.  Eleven years later, I was born!  Twelve years later, my brother’s first child was born.  In the next six years, two more grandchildren followed.    And then twenty years after the first grandchild, another grandchild was born.  My mother said God gave her a Gift in allowing her active mothering and close grandmothering to last for so many years.

Take delight in The Lord,

and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Psalm 37:4

Can You See Me?

I slept in the room with my parents, my single bed next to their bed.  This was fortunate because of two problems I had.

I was very nearsighted and I had an active imagination.  In the nighttime hours, the shadows on the wall easily turned into monsters.  When I reached out and touched my mother in the dark, they would go away.  She would squeeze my hand and I knew all was well.

When my brother went to college, I was “promoted” into my own room.  This was exciting until nighttime came.  When the monsters arrived on the first night, I screamed in terror.  

My mother patiently explained that while the shadows did look strange, they were just shadows.  She demonstrated by turning on the light.  It did seem better.  But as soon as she left the room, the monsters came back.  I begged to go back to her room.  She was firm that I was in my own room now and it would be ok.

But in an act of Mercy, she arranged my bed so she could see it from her bed in the next room.  It didn’t completely solve the problem, since I could not see her.  But when I called out from my bed, “Mother, can you see me?” she always answered, “Yes, Carolyn, I’m right here.  I can see you.”

I was eventually “promoted” to other places far outside her physical vision.  I went to college.  I lived in other places after college.  And then one day Mother was “promoted” to the place God had prepared for her in Heaven.  In the midst of grief,  I found myself calling out silently, “Mother, can you see me?”

And the funny thing was that God allowed her to answer me in my mind, “Yes, Carolyn, I’m right here.  I’m just in the next room.  I can see you.”  I would come to know that it was God Himself speaking.  As recorded in Isaiah 66:13, God said,

“As a mother comforts her child,

so will I comfort you …”

How To Handle Storms

Thunder storms were common in South Carolina.  Thunder didn’t just roll.  It shook the whole house.  The lightening would light up all the houses all the way down the street.  Frequently the electricity “went out.”  

Everything would stop and in-between lightening, all would be dark.  I never liked the dark.  Those same monsters threatened to show up in the dark.  But my mother would get out the kerosene lanterns and light them.  We would cluster together near the lights.  I’d get in her lap and she would rock and sing.  She sang various soothing songs, but my favorite was “God Will Take Care of You.”  

She insisted I sing.  And then she would change the words to “God will take care of me.”  Then she would say, “God will always take care of you, Carolyn.  Don’t ever forget that.  There will always be storms, but He will take care of you.”

I had many storms in my life after those South Carolina ones.  Frequently I would find myself singing, “God will take care of me …”  And He did.

He replied,

“You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”

Then He got up and rebuked the winds 

and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Matthew 8:26

The Unseen Guide and Protector

As I grew, I developed a streak of independence.  I frequently said rather defiantly, “I can do it myself.”  Mother let me do many things.  When I crashed, she never said, “I told you so.”  She simply picked me up and assured me things would go better the next time.

On the first day of school, we forgot a form that had to be completed.  My mother assured the teacher she would bring it after school.  When I arrived home, I announced I would take it back to the school.  This would involve walking four blocks, turning onto a busy street, walking a few more blocks and then crossing that busy street.  

When my mother told me she would walk with me and we’d take it together, I informed her I was in the first grade and I could take it “all by myself.”  To my surprise, she said, “OK.”

I bravely started down the street.  The neighbor’s big dog barked.  I jumped and considered going home.  I looked around.  There was no one in sight.  I walked on.  I felt a little disoriented.  Even with my new glasses, things didn’t look quite the same when I was walking alone.

But I made it all the way to school and proudly delivered the form and returned home.  If my mother looked a bit tired, I never noticed.  Years later, she told me of how she had followed close behind, hiding behind trees and fending off the dog herself.  She also told me how proud she was of me when I was very careful crossing the street.

We may think we are walking alone in life, but we aren’t.  Even when we are being stubborn, God will guide us.

Whether you turn to the right or the left,

your ears will hear a voice behind you,

saying, 

“This is The Way; walk in it.”

Isaiah 30:21

The Road Goes Anywhere You Want It To Go!

My mother enjoyed painting.  Her paintings were all over our house.  One picture was of a road that wound around a curve and disappeared into the distance.

I asked my mother where the road went.  Instead of telling me, she asked me, “Where do you think the road goes?”  I would come up with various destinations and tell her all about them.  She would ask me questions to help me make more complete scenes in my mind.  And then she would tell me what she saw.  We spent many happy hours traveling that road together.

As I was nearing college and considering an uncertain future, I asked her again, “Where does the road go, Mother?”  She smiled and said, “It can go anywhere you would like it to go, Carolyn.  But be sure to ask God for the directions!”  

She never forced her views on me.  She gently guided me and allowed me to choose the roads I chose in life, even when some were not the roads she would have chosen for me.   The journey was always easier when I asked God for directions.  (And thank God — He allows U turns!)

Every valley shall be filled in,

every mountain and hill made low.

The crooked roads shall become straight,

the rough ways smooth.

Luke 3:5

You Are A Part of The Story!

My mother never simply read a book to me.  She acted it out.  She changed her voice to be each character.  She put the book down and acted out the parts.  She was so funny!

But not only would she act out the stories, she would encourage me to get in on the act.  She would say, “Today, you be the rabbit!”  And I’d act out the parts to the tune of her laughter.

Then the day came when she stopped right in the middle of a story.  I wondered if something was wrong with her.  Instead of completing the story, she said, “What do you think happened next?”

I said, “I don’t know.  You haven’t read that part yet.”  

She said, “No … you finish the story.  Don’t let other people be the only ones to tell the stories.  You tell the story too.  Your story may be better!”  So I’d make up a part of the story that came next, and then she would chime in with a part, and sometimes we never read what the author intended.

Later as I began to write stories and plays, I realized the seeds of telling a good story had been planted by my mother.  Even today, I find myself thinking of alternate endings to tv shows and movies.

Finishing is better than starting …

Ecclesiastes 7:8

Success Is In The Details!

If I said, “I think I might do …” and then I’d lay out some dream, my Mother would say, “How are you going to do that?”

And I would say, “Oh I’m not doing it now.  I was thinking I might do it one day.”

She would then counter with, “When?  When are you going to do it?”

She said, “Success is in the details.  When we take a trip, we know where we want to end up.  We may change course on the way, but we still have some idea of when we are going, where we want to go and how we might get there.”

My Mother taught me how to combine dreams with reality.

Many of my dreams have been accomplished with focus and figuring out the details and deadlines for getting where I wanted to go.  However, as Mother reminded me, God is The One with The Plan.   She winked and added, “He knows where you are going and how you are going to get there, but He will let you help ‘pack the car’ for the trip!”

“For I know The Plans I have for you,”

declares The Lord,

“Plans to prosper you 

and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

Letting Go and Letting God

Most parents like the feeling they can protect their children from anything bad.  It seems to be easier when we can just grab them out of harm’s way.  However, the time came when Mother could not rescue me.

Life had seemingly dealt enough blows that I no longer trusted anyone.  I willfully struck out on my own and as on my first day of school, I declared I could “do it myself.”  However, the unseen Mother was still on the job, on her knees in prayer for me.

Later in life, when we remembered those times, she said, “I prayed for you constantly.  I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew God did and He was with you every second.  I thanked God that He was with me and He was with you.  I thanked God that He knew what to do when I didn’t.  I trusted Him for both you and me.”

Her Love and Prayers brought me to a place where I knew once again I needed to ask God for the directions.  He brought me home.

Trust in The Lord with all your heart

and lean not unto your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to Him,

and He will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Forgiving Without Condemning

I actually was a well behaved child and teenager.  While some of my friends were rebelling, I “colored within the lines” well.  However, later in life, after a difficult divorce, I set out to reinvent myself.  I must say God is a much better Creator than I.  The “me’s” I tried to create were total flops.  

I praise Him, not only for restoring my life, but for renewing it when I surrendered to His Loving Creation of the “me” He intended all along.

At some point when I was searching for my way “back home,” I talked to Mother about a “friend” who had committed all kinds of sins.  I told her that my “friend” really wanted to make a turn around, but was afraid that she could never make anything right again.  I asked Mother what I should tell my friend.

She looked at me with all the Love in The Universe.  I saw a few tears fall before she hastily mopped them up with her apron.  She came and put her arms around me.  She just held me for a long few moments.

I felt forgiveness coursing through my body.  She then stepped back and looked at me directly.  In that moment I knew she knew it was not my friend.  It was me.  I wondered what she was about to say.

She said, very tenderly, “You are right to tell your friend to ask God’s Forgiveness.  But tell her she must be sure to accept His Forgiveness.  Tell your friend she needs to thank God that He will forgive her.  Tell your friend she needs to forgive herself.  And tell your friend that she is free now.  Tell her to walk free.”

And just as quickly, she asked me what I would like for supper.  From time to time after that, she would ask me, “How is your friend?”

I told her my friend was doing much better.  She said, “That’s good.  I pray for your friend.”  She never asked me what my friend’s name was, as she usually did when she was going to pray for someone.  She knew.

“Neither do I condemn you,”

Jesus declared.

“Go now and leave your life of sin.”

John 8:11

Packing Your Bag In Advance

My mother always straightened up the house before she left it.  She said, “One day you will not be able to come home, and your house will be as you left it.  What do you want others to find?”

She approached her spiritual life in the same way.  She memorized scripture and poetry with “good messages.”  She said she prayed that she “would always have her good mind.”  But, she added, “Your mind is like a chest of drawers.  You control what you put in there today.  But one day someone else may open those drawers.  All they will find is what you put there.  Put good things in your mind and in your spirit.”

Mother taught a Sunday School class for years.  When she was old, she had difficulty reading.  She told the class she thought she needed to give it up to someone else.  However, the ladies of the class would not hear of it.  They said she had so much spiritual insight and Words of God’s Truth, they could not do without her teaching.  They read the lesson to her to see what she would say.  The ladies of the class said she had so much of God packed inside of her, that it just overflowed to them.

I have hidden Your Word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

I Could Never Forget You!

My parents lived a happy, independent life into their nineties.  One day on the way back from the grocery store, a car hit them.  My mother was never able to go home again.

I spent a remarkable week with her when she was in the hospital.  It was remarkable because, even in the midst of intense suffering, she refused to let satan gain even an inch.

She lay in bed and prayed for every family member by name, invoking God’s richest blessings on each of us.  She prayed for the doctors, nurses and anyone who worked in that hospital.  She raised her hands to The Lord and just praised Him for the wonderful life she had had.  She sang hymns of praise through her pain.

She tenderly expressed love to everyone.  Most touching was hearing her say to my father, “Horace, God has been so good to us throughout our entire life.  How could we do anything but trust Him now?”

She held his hands and said, “God made you for me and me for you.  And He will take care of us.  God will take care of you.  He will.  I know He will.”  

The day I was to return home (I lived in another state), Mother was a little confused because of an electrolyte imbalance.  Just before I had to leave, the doctor came in.  He asked the usual questions to determine her mental status.  He asked her if she knew her name, where she was, etc.

Then he pointed to me and said, “Do you know who she is?”  My mother smiled the smile I loved so much — the one that seemed to just open the floodgates of Love.  And then she said,  “Of course, I know her.”

She grabbed my hand, looked directly into my eyes and said, “Carolyn, I could never forget you.  I love you so much.”  And then she fell asleep.

That was the last time I saw my mother in her earthly body.  Her Benediction is a Gift I treasure.  She is a part of me and her continued love as a member of that “great cloud of witnesses” sustains me every day.

Love one another,

as I have loved you …

John 13:34

Mother’s Day Message

My mother’s life is summed up well in Paul’s words to the Philippians.  When I read his words, I can hear her saying it.  

Rejoice in The Lord always.

I will say it again; Rejoice!

Let your gentleness be evident to all.

The Lord is near.

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.

Finally, brothers and sisters,

whatever is true,

whatever is noble,

whatever is right,

whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely,

whatever is admirable —

if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —

think about such things.

Whatever you have learned or received from me,

or seen in me —

put into practice.

And The God of Peace will be with you!

Philippians 4:4-9

Mother's Sunset!

Mother’s Sunset!

The Jubilee

To listen to the audio version of this blog posting, click the link below.

Can I Trust God for a Whole Year?

How much do you trust God?  If He told you to take a year off from work and trust Him to provide for you, would you do it?  

Leviticus 25 tells of a time when God did that very thing.  God designed a system to teach the people about His Trustworthiness.  He gave very specific instructions for activities that would lead up to a time of mega-celebration called The Year of Jubilee.  It would be celebrated every fifty years.  

In the Jubilee system, God directed that even the land must be afforded rest.  Every seventh year, the people were to let the land rest and not grow anything.  The people might have worried that they might starve.  This did not sound like a time of Joy!

However, God added, as recorded in verses six and seven,

Whatever the land yields in the sabbath year

will be food for you —

for yourself,

your male and female servants,

and the hired worker 

and temporary resident who live among you,

as well as your livestock

and the wild animals in your land.

Whatever the land produces may be eaten.

That’s a lot of food!  Where was it going to come from?  God would provide it!   He had already demonstrated His Trustworthiness in the desert when He fed the people with manna.

 

Trusting God One Day At A Time

Exodus 16 records how God told the people to gather the food He provided each day and not worry about His Provision the next day.  The next day He provided again.  The food was always fresh, abundant, and on time.

God also directed the people not to gather anything on the seventh day.  They were to look at what He had provided (double the usual amount) on the sixth day.  It was to be a time of being still and recognizing that He was indeed God, their Provider.

 

Continuing Trust in God to be God

Through God’s Jubilee System, He was going to see if the people learned the lesson.  Would they trust Him for more than just one day?  Would they really believe He would provide for them for a whole year when they could not provide for themselves?  Would they be still and KNOW that He was indeed God, their Provider?

Verses 8-54 of chapter 25 of Leviticus record God’s very specific instructions for the Pinnacle of Celebration, the Year of Jubilee, also known as The Year of The Lord’s Favor.

Count off seven sabbath years

 — seven times seven years — 

so that the seven sabbath years amount to 

a period of forty-nine years.  

Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere

 on the tenth day of the seventh month; 

on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land.  Consecrate the fiftieth year 

and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.  

It shall be a jubilee for you; 

each of you is to return

 to your family property and to your own clan.  

The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; 

do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself

 or harvest the untended vines.  

For it is a jubilee and is to be holy for you;  

eat only what is taken from the fields.

In the year of Jubilee everyone is to return to their own property.

Leviticus 25:8-13

Going Home

To many, going home is a wonderful thought.  We might think of our earthly homes, where the milk and chocolate chip cookies were served up by loving parents.  We might think of hugs we have not felt in awhile.  Or we might think of the Heaven we anticipate that is perfect in every way.

However, some thoughts of home may make us shutter.  If we get the best of the best again, then it will be an exceptional time of celebration.  But what if going home means reliving ALL that happened there?

Because we get away from our past does not mean we have come to peace with what happened there.  We may believe we have moved on, calmly closing the door to everything but happy memories.

However, the truth is that we may have fled from some memories.  Tucked away in the back of the closets of our minds lie the fears, feelings of powerlessness and anger over things that happened on the family property.  

Some try not to think about what happened at home.  Others take out the broken pieces and cut themselves on a regular basis, rehearsing again how unfair life was.  “Moving on” does not always mean “moving past.” 

But God has an assignment for us before we enter the full celebration of The Jubilee.  It will involve taking a walk back in time.  It will involve confronting the memories of times when we felt powerless.  However, this walk back in time with be with The Holy Spirit, who has all Power to restore and heal.  This time you will be safe.  This time you will know what to do.

 

When Does The Jubilee Begin?

God was very specific about when to sound the trumpet signaling the beginning of Jubilee.  It was to be done on The Day of Atonement.

Leviticus 16 gives the details of the Day of Atonement that God had already established.  On that day, the priest was to make atonement for the sins of the people. 

God was demonstrating the road to take to get to The Jubilee.  On the Day of Atonement, the priest was to first repent before God of his own sins and then those of his family.  After that he was to ask forgiveness for the sins of the people.

 

Boulders That Block The Road To Joy

Sin may be described as anything that interferes with our view of God.  He is always present with us.  But we may not see Him clearly when sins are in front of us … or in the case of home, perhaps behind us.

 

Unpacking to Go Home

As we turn for home, we must consider what we need to repent of.  We may know right off what that might be.  We may not.  We may need to pray the very courageous prayer of David.

Search me, God, and know my heart.

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

David knew the feeling of anxiety thinking of what God would surely find.  But He knew in order for his cup to overflow (See Psalm 23), the inside of his cup would have to be clean first.

When we feel we have repented of everything, we can praise God that our sins are forgiven!  Those boulders are cleared from the road to Joy.

 

Being An Instrument of Atonement

But then we need to continue to pray with boldness.  We need to next ask God if perhaps in the dark corners of our mind, we have held onto resentment, bitterness or unforgiveness of those who may have wronged us in our homes.

Because we loved or respected those who were there, often we have covered our hurts.  We have tried to justify any wrongs.  But somewhere inside the hurt has grown.  We may not even recognize where the present day hurt comes from, but God knows.  He is ready to free us from the pain, if we will trust Him to heal us at the deepest levels.

Having repented, released and received forgiveness from God, we are now ready to be an instrument of atonement for others.  God has set us free, but we will never truly be free until we can reach out spiritually to ask for good for those who hurt us.  We are ready to be an instrument of Atonement.

Atonement means to reconcile or bring into unity with God.  It has been rightly said that atonement means “at-one-ment.”  

Jesus desired that we all be one.  In order to be one, we must not only clear the boulders from our own path, but we must also ask that God in His Power remove the boulders from the paths of others, so that we may walk together as one.

(Jesus speaking to His Father, God)

My prayer is not for them alone.

I pray also for those who will believe in Me

 through their message, 

that all of them may be one, Father, 

just as You are in Me and I am in You.  

May they also be in us so that 

the world may believe that You have sent Me.

John 17:20-21

In the ceremony on the Day of Atonement, the priest was directed to confess the sins of the people to God.  Was it within his power to forgive them?  Yes.  Could he cleanse them of their sins?  No.  He was simply releasing them to God to allow the full Power of God to work in their lives.

 

Setting The Captives Free

When we pray for others to be forgiven of their sins, we may discover it is we who first need to forgive them.  We may be surprised to find we have been imprisoned for years, as we attempted to keep them imprisoned in the dark places of our memories.

When we spiritually open the doors to let our prisoners go free, it is tempting to want to tell them (even in our minds) one more time that what they did was not right or fair and to give a “victim impact” statement, followed by a stern warning to be back with us soon, as they will be on “probation” for the rest of their lives.

However, Jesus set the example from the cross.

Jesus said,

“Father, forgive them,

for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:24

We might protest that certainly they knew what they were doing.  We might also say the same for anyone who hurt us.  But Jesus saw beyond their actions to the blindness of their souls.  In fact, those who were sinning did not realize the lasting impact of what they were doing.  In the spirit of Grace and Mercy, we can also say that those who hurt us did not realize the full impact of their actions.

After setting your captives free, pray for God’s Goodness to be released in their lives.  Pray that they too will know the Joy of their salvation and walk free.  Does this mean that you need to go to them and do an in person reconciliation?  Not necessarily.  If God directs you to do that, then obey Him.  However, the atonement in which you are participating is a release to God’s actions.  Your actions depend upon what He tells you to do.

 

God Is Good All The Time!  (or is He?)

Are there any other boulders that need to be cleared before you can go home on Jubilee Day?  Yes!  A very important big boulder!

The celebration of The Jubilee was rooted in trusting God.  The people were to trust God for His Provision.  They were to trust that what He said He would do, He would do.  They were to trust that He would put the rightness and wrongness where it belonged.  They were to trust Him to forgive their sins.  They were to forgive the debts of others.  They were to go home and find peace and joy waiting there.

Sooner or later, when we look at the evils in the world, we find ourselves asking God if He is in fact God, why He would allow bad things to happen or why He didn’t stop it.  The entire book of Job is devoted to this topic.  Job seemed to have lost everything, but a nagging wife and questionable friends … and God.

The question that comes front and center in Job is an issue of trust.  Can we trust God in a world that seems to have gone mad?  Can we trust God when our losses are overwhelming?  Can we trust that God really has a Plan for us that is good?

“For I know the plans I have for you,”

declares The Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

The final turn onto The Jubilee Road is whether we can trust God to know The Plan without ever telling us every detail.  We may not ever know why things happened as they did or why they are happening as they are now.  But we will be traveling with Three Who do know and Three Who will be with you always.  They are all calling to you now.  “Get ready!  We’re going to a Jubilee!”

 

Your Traveling Companions On The Way To The Jubilee

(God)

The Lord replied,

“My Presence will go with you,

and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14

(Jesus)

Surely I am with you always …

Matthew 28:20

(The Holy Spirit)

And I will ask the Father,

and He will give you another Advocate

to help you and be with you forever —

John 14:16

Heart

Chosen

Not Chosen

Everyone seems to have a story of some time in their life when they were not chosen.  It may be a time from our youth when we were not chosen for the team.  It may be the job we wanted that we didn’t get.  It may be when we thought we had found the love of our life, but they didn’t love us back.

The experience of not being chosen seems to equal rejection.  Even when we think we are over past experiences, a small bump in our present day life can bring back the pain of not being chosen.

 

Not Loved

Luke 19: 1-10 records the story of a man named Zacchaeus.

Zacchaeus knew what it was like not to be chosen.  He had the kind of job that gave him a sense of power, but not love.  He was a tax collector.  He took a portion of everyone’s hard earned money.  People only gave Zacchaeus what they were required to give him, and that begrudgingly.

 

Not Enough

Besides the lack of love in his life, Zacchaeus had another problem.  He was short.  Many people looked down on him.

Zacchaeus, like others in Jericho, had heard about Jesus.  He was curious about what kind of man could attract such attention.  Maybe Zacchaeus also wondered whether Jesus had paid his required taxes.  In any case, he decided to see what the buzz was all about.

However, he was so short, he could not see over the crowd.  He certainly was not going to ask for help.  But he was creative.  He spotted the sycamore-fig tree and he climbed it.

He may have felt powerful in being above everyone else.  He may have felt a little bit smug that he could stay hidden and yet have a great view.  

Have you ever been there?  Comfortable in the crowd, a safe way back, where you could see, but not be seen?  Does it seem safer than being seen and not being chosen?  Or could it be that you fear being chosen?  If you were chosen, what then?

 

Chosen!

Zacchaeus was about to find out.  

When Jesus reached the spot 

He looked up and said to him, 

“Zacchaeus, come down immediately.  

I must stay at your house today.”

Luke 19:5

Zacchaeus was chosen!  Among all the people in the crowd, Jesus not only noticed him, Jesus stopped and saw him.  He saw right through his outer covering to his very soul.  Zacchaeus felt The Love of Jesus filling up every empty space inside of Him.  He felt more alive than he had ever felt.

If Zacchaeus had ever imagined this moment, he would have thought he would have been overwhelmed with glee in being chosen above everyone else.  He would have thought that finally he would be validated in the eyes of those who scorned him.  But when his moment came, Zacchaeus was not even aware of anyone else.  He felt as if he and Jesus were the only people on the planet!

When Jesus said He must stay at his house, Zacchaeus didn’t question HIm.  He never stopped to consider whether he had made up his bed that morning, whether the bathroom was clean or what he would feed Jesus.  

He came down at once and welcomed Him gladly!

Luke 19:6

Zacchaeus made the choice to trust Jesus and allow Him into his home.  Jesus gave him The Present of His Presence.  He gave Zacchaeus The Gift of being filled with The Greatest Love in the Universe.  Jesus allowed Zacchaeus to know what it felt like to receive.  

And when Zacchaeus felt the joy of receiving Jesus, he lost all desire to take.  He wanted to give!

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord,

 “Look, Lord!  

Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor

 and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, 

I will pay back four times the amount!”

Luke 19:8

Would Jesus Ever Choose Me?

What would you do if you were chosen by Jesus?  You have been!  He sees you where you are at this moment.  He is stopping and looking at you.  He sees right to your very soul.  He sees you as you were created to be.  If you are lost, you have just been found!  He loves you and He wants to be with you right now.

If you have some areas that are not quite cleaned up for guests, that is ok.  He is not a guest.  He lives with you, even though you may never have noticed Him.  If you don’t know to cook, that is no problem either.  Jesus is a great cook, and He can create an amazing dish from whatever you have.

He doesn’t care what you believe you do for a living.  He wants to give you a Life.  He doesn’t care that you might not be chosen by anyone in the crowd.  He, The Lord of The Universe, chooses you!

 

Choosing Jesus

Jesus knows we may not have chosen Him yet, but that has not stopped Him from choosing us.

(Jesus’ Words to You)

You did not choose Me,

but I chose you 

and appointed you

so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last …

John 15:16

(Jesus speaking to God, His Father)

Father, I want those You have given to Me

to be with Me, 

to be where I am …

John 17:24

(You Are In!)

… I am in My Father

and you are in Me

and I am in you …

John 14:20

(You Are Loved and Chosen!)

You are loved by The Lord

and we thank God

that in the beginning

HE CHOSE YOU

to be saved 

through a life of spiritual devotion

and faith in The Truth.

2 Thessalonians 2:13

Heart