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Archive for August, 2009

84188216_a103e96229_b2 This is what the LORD says:
“The people who survive the sword
will find favor in the desert;
I will come to give rest to Israel.”

He never takes his eyes off of His children.  Escape deserts and swords?  I don’t think so.  We all go through times where we work through tough times.

Those who were precious once and well favored, are still loved by our God.    He talks about surviving the sword and finding favor in the desert.  The last place one would look for favor would be after surviving the sword and being in the desert.   Yet anywhere He is, His grace can be found.

When you have HIM you have all you could ever wish for!

That “giving rest” stuff sounds pretty good to me…  To sit down…stop…rest…let the running end…let the desert be hidden in the oasis of His love…

And to think of all they have done.  They have rejected his ways.  They have run after other gods.  They have sought their own way.  It would have been enough for God to seek and destroy the whole lot of them.  However, HE made a promise to them.  He loves them.  He lavishes His love out on them.  Thank God He does.

That “Grace Thing” has been around a long time.

Sounds like He wants that for his children!

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1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
Selah

They tell me (whoever “they” are) that minor surgery is when they are operating on your child.  Major surgery is when they are operating on my child.  I am reminded in a few minutes a family will gather at the outpatient surgical center and send their son off to the operating room to have his tonsils removed.  It will take them longer to knock him out and wake him back up than it ever will to take out his tonsils.  I plan on being there with them.  God will be gracious to them and bless them today and His face will shine upon us.  His gracious look is there with them.

My friends Ken and “Dee” Smith have walked through an interesting week where God was gracious to them and blessed them and made His face to shine upon them as well.  She had to have her gallbladder removed after a time of real struggle with elevated enzyme levels.  She had surgery late yesterday afternoon and at the last report was doing wonderful.

I am still thankful for Steve Lee who has seen the gracious hand of God, seen the blessings flow, and been one who has seen the Face of God shine down on him.  I remember Steve and the family as they wait in Marietta, GA as he recovers from serious surgery.

I have complete confidence that God will be gracious to me today and bless me and will make his face to shine upon me.  I want to see him today.  I long to watch for His face and hear His voice.

The verse is my prayer today!

1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,
Selah

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27 “Do not fear, O Jacob my servant;
do not be dismayed, O Israel.
I will surely save you out of a distant place,
your descendants from the land of their exile.
Jacob will again have peace and security,
and no one will make him afraid.

I remind myself this morning that I am self-centered.  On a good day, I like so many others, struggle to see who is really going to call the shots in my life.  I don’t have idols of myself in my home or pictures on the walls, but in honest reflection, I do long to do life my own way.  Yesterday while saturated in that great passage in Philippians 2, God said that he has exalted His Son and given him a name above all names – He called him LORD!  Boss, One who Calls the shots, sovereign authority.  I asked the class of senior adults to draw a circle in the middle of the sheet of paper and in that circle list the one who is actually in control of their lives.  They gave me the Sunday School answer and told me, “Why Jesus of course.”  Good answer.  There is always a struggle to do things in complete abandon to the Lord’s instructions or to do things my own way.  Since developing a relationship with him at age 11, I have discovered that he has never forced me to do  anything in that relationship.  He let’s me choose.  There are no robots in this wonderful relationship.  And to be honest with you I take advantage of my position in Christ in that since I am a child of God and cannot loose that status, and since I am a free agent in this relationship, I decide to do what I want to do.

When you observe what Israel had done, it is no wonder that God’s patience had run thin.  I have been reading through Jeremiah and hear the stomping of horses hooves as they are traveling toward the Israelites getting ready to kill and capture the whole lot of them.  I hear the clanging of the swords as they are being pulled from their sheathes and begin to be waved in the air waiting for battle.  The spears are up and the enemy is coming…you can hear it in the writings.  God has had enough.

His heart sings with restoration.  There is a price to pay for their disobedience.  However, the phrase, “I will save you from a distant place” sounded a note of hope in my own heart this morning.  I am reminded that He will restore…not all…but there is a remnant who will be restored.

I could never be more excited to remember that for every prodigal that goes off to a distant country wasting what was given to him, there is still the ability to come home.   For every woman who stands at the well there is still the chance to meet Jesus and watch her life and the lives of a town be changed.  For every woman who is drug up to the feet of Jesus caught in the act of adultery, there is still the promise of forgiveness and a future life that is bright.  For every demon possessed man who is chained in the grave yard there is the promise of peace and a productive future.  For every Lazarus who is dead…there still reigns the possibility of resurrection and another chance to face the future.  For every Nicodemus who will meet Jesus there is the promise that you can trade religion for a viable relationship with God that allows you to be born again…freed from the bondage of a religious background.  For every nation that walks away from the blessing of God there is still the promise of “I will save you from a distant place….there is hope in the future.  On and on the list could go this morning because the New Testament is filled with illustrations that promise a new life…even from a distant place.

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten–the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm–my great army that I sent among you”.  The promise of God from the pen of Joel gives a new touch to describing the restoring desire in the heart of God.  Thank God, He is making all things new today.


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…he came and took the body away. 39He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.

I woke up this morning tossing around in my mind the fact that I will bury Mrs. Green today.  She has been a part of our church since 1961.  She and her family has a stong legacy of faith that has been passed down to several generations.  There will be a gathering today at 2 p.m.  I call it a gathering because those who will miss her will be there.

The crowd followed Christ to the cross.  They watched him die.  They felt the darkness and heard the cries from our tortured Savior.  But isn’t it interesting only a few, that will truly cry when you die.  There were just a few that followed him to the grave.  Pilate gave them permission to take his body down and his friend Nicodemus followed them to the grave where they buried Jesus.

Sometime back I determined that I would find the few that would cry when I am gone and spend time – quality time – with that bunch.  I have a lot of acquaintenances but only a few friends.  I know people who know me on the surface.  But there are a few that know me and know my heart.  We have spent time together and it has changed both of us because of that relationship.  I was captivated by Nicodemus who as a great teacher staggered away from an encounter with Jesus that changed his life after Christ told him “…you must be born again!”.  His life changed.  I can tell it because he was there when they needed him the most.  He followed them to the grave.  He laid his body to rest.  Nicodemus was returning the favor.

Barbara McElveen and Shirley Hill will both get a glimpse of those whose lives have been impacted by their mother.  I will never forget a pocketbook full of Juicy Fruit gum.  I will never forget how she loved to hold children.  Here is a woman who had to quit school in the tenth grade because of having to help raise a her siblings and take care of a home, and then spent the greater part of her life making a difference in the lives of a church full of families by loving on their children.  We will get to see the difference one life makes.

I want to hang around the group of people who will cry when I am gone.  I am thinking of my dearest friends this morning and celebrating the fact that I have some that will follow me to the grave.  Our love is deep.  Our respect for one another is solid.  Our relationship is strong and growing richer.

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7 He will have no fear of bad news;
his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

WOW!  I am amazed at the confidence that we can place in the love of our Lord toward us.  This morning as I sat and thought about what is going on around me of the verse in Proverbs that says for us to trust in the Lord with all of our heart and lean not to our own understanding…but in all of our ways we acknowledge HIM and HE will direct our paths (or make our paths straight).  What A God!  What joy there is in trusting in the Lord.

My friend Ken, is facing physical problems.  Complicating that his wife, Dee, is in the hospital in Florida needing her gall bladder removed on Monday.  Her enzyme levels which should be 30-50 were at 12,000.  It was critical.  People started praying and trusting in the Lord and the level is down to 120.  We are trusting the Lord that He will make that path straight where they can remove the gall bladder on Monday.  I have another young friend in the hospital whose life has been protected by God and we are trusting in the Lord for her complete recovery.  Steve is recovering in Marietta, GA and has God give him success through this tough surgery.  We are trusting in the Lord.  So many are hurting.  Our hope is in the Lord.  There is no One like our Father who daily shovels his blessings all over us.  We are a blessed people.  My cousin, Carol is still struggling with infection.  Oh, how I celebrate the grace and mercy of the One who is here pouring that over our life as we face each moment, each circumstance, through every situation.

Be still, My Soul

You are my hiding place…

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23 I know, Lord, that our lives are not our own.
We are not able to plan our own course.

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord

  1. A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
    A wonderful Savior to me;
    He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
    Where rivers of pleasure I see.

    • He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
      That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
      He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
      And covers me there with His hand,
      And covers me there with His hand.
  2. A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,
    He taketh my burden away;
    He holdeth me up and I shall not be moved,
    He giveth me strength as my day.
  3. With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
    And, filled with His fulness divine,
    I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God,
    For such a Redeemer as mine!
  4. When clothed in His brightness, transported I rise
    To meet Him in clouds of the sky,
    His perfect salvation, His wonderful love,
    I’ll shout with the millions on high.

Maybe it is the day.  A friend of mine is on his way to face one more critical surgery.  He has cancer of the esophagus and will have MAJOR surgery tomorrow.  His actual surgery and recovery will be done, believe it or not, in the same hospital in which I was born.  Kennestone Hospital and Steve Lee will be dear friends for the next two weeks at least.  I am thinking of him tomorrow and remembering “… that our lives are not our own.  We are not able to plan our own course…”  I am remembering that we are cared for by our heavenly Father.  A wonderful Savior is Jesus our Lord.  He does hide my soul in the cleft of the rock especially as we face very critical days ahead.  We are not able to plan our own course.  I would have never wished cancer on Steve.  I would suspect that he never prayed for it.  However, our God, who is great beyond measure, is helping him get through these days ahead.  Only God knows and I choose to trust Him this morning.

My friend, Frank is dealing with cancer, recovering from thyroid surgery, and planning to go through a series of radiation treatments.  My friend Johnny is dealing with an illness that is stealing his life from him.   My friend Janice is dealing with the recovery process from brain surgery.  My friend Mary is learning to walk again after knee replacement surgery.  My friend Mark prays for his son and family.  My friend Tony has a grandmother who is struggling and a son whose arm is healing.  My friend Tammy is dealing with praying for her friend who has had a heart transplant while she is dealing with the condition of her own heart as she prepares her heart to send her son to Clemson.  I rejoice that my friend Jim is in heaven and that God is helping a whole family deal with the daily plans He has for them.  My friends Connie and Everett are both dealing with a family member with Alzheimer and needing a job for him.  My friend Brad is in Africa doing mission work.  And that is just a few of the ones that have to deal with the fact that God is at work even in tough circumstances.

And that’s just a few of my friends!

I am reminded again this morning to focus on the Father.  There are so many things we can focus upon.  Today I choose to focus upon HIM!  He is mighty.  He calls us to Himself.  The best thing I can do is to fall into his hands.  I trust Him today!

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16 This is what the LORD says:
“Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’

crossroadYesterday I stood in our pulpit and read from the Bible, an ancient book given to us from the heart of God.  It has not been edited nor added to nor taken from in years.  This power packed Book is filled with stories and information with details that have not changed one bit.  It is incredibly old yet unbelievably new and fresh every day. What is so fresh about it is that people still respond to the message of the Scriptures.  People still can ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and can still walk in it, and yes, still find rest for their souls.

Ken Smith invited Anne Graham Lotz to share in a weekend in Wauchula, FL.  It was a big step for him and his church, especially since he has been there only a few short years.  However, he felt the leadership of God to bring her there.  He was faced with opposition from different places, which is to be expected when you are taking the message of Christ forward into a community.  The sting of it was that most of the opposition came from “religious” people, and I will leave it at that.  Hang in there with me… Anne spoke to over 16o people on Friday night, over 1000 on Saturday with 200 decisions following an invitation and then yesterday praise the Lord they had over 700 in worship.  Overall there were over 300 decisions for Christ in some form or fashion.  Pretty good weekend, huh? I guess so, if numbers can accurately indicate just the decisions, we are able to see, not to mention those who only God can see.  The impact of this weekend is still to be seen.

And she used some new presentation or technique?  I am certain that she stood up taking her place in the pulpit and  gave them some new thoughts on positive thinking or how to feel good.  NOPE!    Not Anne Graham Lotz, the daughter of Billy Graham.  Guess what she did.  She formed her messages from places in that old ancient book, we call it the Bible.  John17 and Isaiah 6.  She spoke on how to study the Bible on Friday.  I am looking forward to the messages being posted on the website, so I can hear them as well.  The old ancient paths are still valid. She got the old ancient book out with its fire and heat and fanned the flame until it began to burn in her heart and the hearts of people gathered there.  The ‘rest for your soul’ is still available.

Stand at the crossroads and observe…just look!

The mystery of it all are the numbers of people (including myself at times) who look and ask…see the right way…and yet as an act of their own free will chose not to walk in it.  Why, then,  do we cry when we don’t find rest for our souls?  It’s not difficult.  His way is still the right way.  His guidance in life is still valid.    The context of this passage today was so interesting for it is seated in a warning of certain doom and destruction.  However, in the middle of that kind of warning comes a voice from heaven giving an option, old as it might seem, yet an option that is still as fresh and inviting as it ever was.  However, some still walk away from it.  They did yesterday and do every Sunday as the Word is preached and invitations are given.  They do it every day as they read the Scriptures for we are always standing at the crossroads with Jesus.

I hear him say, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life…no man comes to the Father but by Me!  Oh, how I want some of that ‘rest for your soul’ stuff!  Bring the Fire Father!

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