Friday, May 28, 2010

Itsy Bitsy Spider with a Message

Walking out onto my patio the other morning , I noticed a little clump hanging in mid air against my railing. It was a group of tiny creatures, so tiny I could not see what they were.

I ran for my camera
They were not as asleep , not as oblivious to the world around them as they first appeared. The movement of my camera lens spooked them and they scattered -- each held securely by the web invisible to my eyes.

With the help of zoom technology I was able to magnify the tiny creatures to see what they looked like. Google helped me identify them as baby Garden Spiders - also called the Yellow Orb Spider.
Now curious about them .. I did a little research. (NOT that I'm fond of spiders!)

I quickly learned the grown Garden Spiders have no desire to come into the house and they eat flying insects that harm plants. Ok.. those bits of info saved their lives -- for now and from me

I did, however, find out something VERY mysterious about the Garden Spider - and recognized a lesson tucked into the pages of God's creation.

I learned there is a mystery surrounding the life of these Garden Spiders - a mystery unsolved by science.

No one knows what happens in the life cycle of the Garden Spider between the stage I captured in my photos and the full grown spider in its two foot web. They just seem to disappear one day while they are still babies until one morning there is the adult spider resplendent in its spun web.

(and yes... I watched my 'orb' of spiders for several days. They never moved from their place, until one morning they were gone, leaving not a trace behind except for the almost invisible web! )

I thought about how they portray mysterious spiritual truths.

There are spiritual mysteries that can only be understood by faith because we do not see and therefore cannot explain how it can be.

Do we understand how someone can be 'born again' into God's family?
One minute we see a sinner, and the next a child of God !! What happened in the in between process ??
The work of the Holy Spirit is mysterious , working what we cannot see.

Joh 3:8 "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."

We all love weddings -- we wait for the moment when the bride and groom will be declared to be husband and wife.
Again, what a beautiful mystery .. One man and one woman who become one.

Mar 10:8 "AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH'; so then they are no longer two, but one flesh."

We believe it -- but do we see the process ? no!

We see someone alive in their physical body .... and then suddenly the body is only a shell , the person has flown away.
We believe that they are still alive - in another dimension, in another place with s spiritual body.
But did we see the process in between? no .. it happens outside our physical realm.

2Co 5:7,8 "For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. "

I love how God has tucked into His creation examples that inspire us with renewed faith - to help us -through physical things - to believe the invisible things of God's kingdom.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"In Pleasant Places"

The Lupin are in bloom here on our mountain and I love them!

Not only are they beautiful but they are unwavering in their determination to bloom at any cost. You can mow them down but a few days later they are up and blooming again.

They remind me of God's love.

I have recently been overwhelmed with a new sense of how deep God's love for us is.
God IS Love and love by definition requires for its completion an object to pour itself out on. Wonder of wonders, you and I are the ones God so loves.
Think of a perfect Father with pure love, unlimited wisdom and unlimited resources and all the time in the world and you have a glimmer of understanding of the power of the love of God.

Man, created in God's image, makes much of love but society in its selfish pursuit of it, has taken a mind attitude of "its all about me" and has come to adopt a standard of entitlement rather than responsibility.
God's love and grace may be 'all about us' but there is a fine line between joyfully basking in the love that God pours out upon us and an inappropriate response.

We cannot bask in God's love outside of obedience to His commandments.
Disobedience is a totally unacceptable response to perfect love.
There should be the the response of the wild abandonment of an open heart desiring to please Him, obey Him , walk in the perfect paths He has laid before us -- paths designed with us in mind -- our well-being, our happiness, our safety and our eternal destiny!

Our human default is to rebel against commandments. We tend to think of God's laws and commandments, especially Old Testament ones, as impossible to follow and restrictive to our freedom ... but take a closer look. God's laws were lovingly laid out with His people in mind - as the rules of any parent are intended to be for the good of their precious child.

In Duet. 30:11-16 God speaks about His commandments to Israel saying,

"It is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascent into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' nor is it beyond the sea that you should say , 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us that we may hear it and do it' But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart that you many do it, See? I have set before you today life and good -- death and evil..... that you may live and multiply and the Lord your God will bless you .... "

We have the echo of this verse in the New Testament defining God's laws as doable - in I John 5:3... "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments... and His commandments are not burdensome."

The commandments of God were/are instructions to set up the boundaries that define where people will be safe and HAPPY !

To obey someone - who out of love is deeply concerned for our happiness is easy - what is 'burdensome' is to rebel against that love and wallow in the mire of self-inflicted consequences.

Look at a few examples how easy God's commandments are... yet man, not recognizing the love of God in them, disobeys.

Consider the commandments of God to Adam and Eve -- ONE commandment, "You may eat of all the many trees.. just not this one."
They disobeyed and paid the consequences of their choice.

In the wilderness, God instructed His people to gather the manna every day of the week -except for ONE day! How hard was that to obey ? "I'm giving you a day of rest - a day off!"
They disobeyed and went out to gather Manna anyway - and found nothing.

God said.. "Gather only what you need for each day. Do not save any for the next day." How hard was that to obey? They disobeyed and found the leftovers rotten and sticking and full of worms.

Obeying God's commandments keeps us in the circle of His love and care. It keeps us from wandering under the fence bordering His Kingdom. If our disobedience takes us to the other side of the fence our life will take on the stench and heartbreak and consequences of our sin .

Yet, even then , God's love reaches out to bring us back.
We see in the Old Testament sacrifices for sin, God shows His tender love. He demanded as the 'trespass offering' for sin a lamb or a kid BUT if someone was too poor to bring a lamb he could bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. Even under the OT law, God wanted to make it easy for people to find His forgiveness.

God miraculously took His people out of Egypt and He showered them with love and tender care . All the years in the wilderness - which were a PUNISHMENT for their sin of not trusting Him to lead them into the land He had promised them... He cared for them "as a Father carries His son" , (Deut. 1:31) Their clothes and their shoes did not wear out. He provided food and water and protected them with a cloud from the heat of day and a pillar of fire for warmth and light in the dark of night.

Neh 9:21 "Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness; They lacked nothing; Their clothes did not wear out And their feet did not swell."

Is this not the same God who watches over His people today ?
"Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us , that we should be called the children of God!" (I John 3:1)

With what thanksgiving, with what love should we respond to Him? With what desire should we obey Him ?

With what loathing should we turn from the things of this world and all its deceptive enticements?

If we make God our single heart focus, we will rejoice with the Psalmist who said in Psalm 16, that because he has set the Lord always before him .... "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant (delightful) places , Yes.. I have a good inheritance!" He declares that his heart is glad and his glory rejoices; he is at rest! He follows in the paths the Lord shows him, and he lives in the fullness of joy in His presence and experiences the pleasures at His right hand forevermore!

That is where God wants His people to be and He gave His laws and commandments to lead us into His joy!!

What an incredible God that has called us into relationship with Him!

"Oh Lord, your love is beyond comprehension .... may we allow Your love to permeate our very being ... filling us with wonder at who You are... May our thoughts never be far from you, may we ever walk in obedience to the gentle instructions you have given us. May we never be drawn away from Your perfect Word but may we meditate thereon night and day! May we be perfected by your truth and be a vessel pouring out Your love to others. How we love you, Father! Amen"

God brought a timely book across my path as I was considering God's love. It is called “Flight to Heaven” by Dale Black. It is a book that I highly recommend. There is a description of heaven in it that is the best I have ever read.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Ask not Why but What

I love the innocence of a child. I love her curious seeking to understand her world. There is no backward paralyzing introspection of the 'why-s' of her existence or the circumstances of her life.
That to her is an unchangeable given. Her desire is to know the 'what-s' . What is this ? What does this do ? Where does this go? How does this work ? What can I do here?
And so the beginning of her journey through life is a joyful stepping stone from discovery and growing until , sadly like the adults before her, she is old enough to ask the unanswerable 'why-s' .

Have you ever wondered what it is that makes a stream of running water feel so peaceful?
There is something deeply soothing about the rippling musical sound of water moving to it's predetermined goal - the ocean that ultimately embraces all streams and rivers.
Still water stagnates --- and so does our soul when we cling to the question 'Why??'
Asking 'what' -- "what do I do now?" "what is the next step?" moves us forward, like the stream to the end that God has already pre-determined -- of good and not of evil.
I thought about how the quote "ask not why but what" would look laid alongside scripture.
I considered some examples of bible characters that could well have asked "why?" but instead asked "what?" and thereby found the God-answers that satisfied them.

Job's agonizing experience was so horrendous we still today use him today as a standard against which to measure our tragedies .
God never answered the why questions. WE know the why, but Job didn't.
If God had told him the 'why' Job would have missed the goal.
When Job finally came to the place where he stopped listening to the people around him seeking the 'why' and was willing to ask 'what' .... he moved forward to the goal God had intended all along ... "I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, But NOW my eye sees you...." (Job 42:5) and he flowed into the ocean of God's multiplied blessings.
Job's friends considered ONLY the 'why?' of Job's tragedy and in the seeking of 'why' made the mistake that is so commonly made by all who get stuck crying 'why?' They, like Job's friends, speak of God what is not right! (Job 42:7)

The Shunammite Woman
The Shunammite woman who provided for Elisha an upper room for his comfort and rest, had lived her life with the stigma and heartbreak of being childless. She had come to the place where she felt it was better to live with her buried pain than to risk a vulnerable heart -- opened to the bliss of loving a child only to lose it. That was something beyond what she thought she would be able to bear. (see II Kings 16,28)
We know the story how God DOES open her heart and lays a son in her bosom but her greatest fear comes to pass.
The son is still tender in years when he dies in her arms.
Does she wail in grief , refusing to be comforted? Call her husband and household around her to cry the 'why's' with her?
No ... she knows only one question .. "what now?" -- She moves.
One person comes to her mind - Elisha. She puts her 'what now' into action.
Camly, she asks her husband for a donkey and an escort to go visit the prophet. The husband sees no sign of grief or distress in his wife's face -- he is only curious why she should want to see the prophet. She does not tell him.
The only urgency we see in her is the fact that she tells the young man to drive as fast as he can!
Elisha comes and raises the boy from the dead and restores him to his mother's waiting arms. The ultimate 'what now? ' is that God used this 'tragedy' to restore to the woman her property after her husband dies without which she and her son would have been destitute. (II Kings 8)
Had the woman stagnated on the 'why' .... and not moved with the 'what now' , we would not have her life story to encourage and teach us by example today.

Jesus' Disciples
When their beloved leader was crucified, the disciples were devastated in their bewildering wilderness of 'why'. Jesus was buried, gone from among them , nothing made sense. Numb, they just gave up and said .. "we might as well go back to fishing."
UNTIL ... the 'what now?' took hold of them, and changed the rest of their lives. They caught the vision!!
What now?? oh yes ! because of Jesus' sacrificial death, we have new life ! We have a ministry of reconciliation ... a message of hope to bring to a dying world.
What now ?? oh yes.. we can move through this life with purpose toward an 'ocean' of eternity - forever to live with our Lord and God !
"Oh Lord, may we have that child-like attitude to ask 'what now?' May we never give in to the discouragement or grief that threatens to overwhelm us in the bog mire of 'why' but may we look up to you and know that you will never forsake us and that you have already gone before and laid out every 'what now' path. May we put our hand in yours, and with unwavering trust walk where you lead us. Amen"

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Very Blessed Mother's Day to you all ....

A prayerful wish for a "Blessed Mother's Day" to each of you who visit this page...
and to my only daughter, this poem that so expresses how I feel about you!!
Daughter of My Heart
You turned out even betterThan I often dreamed you’d be;
You’re more than I had hoped for;
You’re a sweet reward to me.
You grew up to be a motherFull of wisdom, warmth and love,
A good and fine role model,
A blessing from above.
I couldn’t be any prouderThan I am today of you;
You’re my daughter and my friend,
And a wonderful person, too.
You have my love forever;
I adored you from the start;
It’s a privilege to be your mother,
Dear daughter of my heart.

By Joanna Fuchs

Sadhu Sundar Singh (cont'd) Fourth Question

It is lilac season and to me there is no flower more fragrant than lilacs. I have always loved,
not only their scent but also the way their fragrance fills the air.

In the last book of the bible we read...
"And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel's hand." (Rev.8:4 NKJV)

Incense was an important part of the priestly service in the Old Testament tabernacle and here in this verse we see that our prayers are wafted up to heaven on the wings of fragrance.

Yesterday my little granddaughter gave me a hug and said, "Oh Nanna, you smell nice!"
Do our prayers 'smell' nice to God ??

Continuing my thoughts inspired by Sadhu Sundar Singh's vision of conversation with Jesus.... I want to share some insights on prayer.
The purpose of prayer is not begging.
Does God withhold the things we have need of if we don't ask for them in prayer? No, God provides for all of His creation the things necessary for life --- and He makes His "sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the the just and on the unjust." (Matt. 5:45 NKJV)
The flowers of the field are clothed, the birds of the air are fed, and God says..
"Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (Matt.6:30)
Prayer is about relationship
To pray is to be on speaking terms with God. By means of prayer, the believer abides in communion with God , partakes of His Nature and is formed in the image of Christ.

Prayer keeps us alive
In the ocean there are many marine animals who thrive in the deepest water. They are able to sustain their life because they continually rise to the surface in order to fill their lungs with life-giving air.
The world we live in is like an ocean of deep water -- it threatens to drown us in selfish thoughts, pride of life, temptations, unholy habits, pursuit of worldly goods.
It is only through prayer that we are able to continually rise up from this world and gulp in the life-giving breath of the Spirit. Prayer fills us with His Life that keeps us alive in a world that does not know Him.
The fish who spend their whole life in salt water do not become salty. Jesus came into this world of sin , but He Himself had no sin. Through prayer, we keep ourselves free of the salt of sin in this world - though we are in this world we are not of it.
"They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." (John 17:16)
Prayer keeps us under the care of the 'Gardener'
Just as a tree or shrub is not taken care of , it will return to its wild state .. so also a believer , through the neglect of prayer will cease to abide in Jesus and slip back into his old sinful ways.
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4)

How do we know how to pray?
Just as a baby does not need to be taught where and how to find his food, so also those born of the Spirit know by a spiritual instinct how to pray and obtain spiritual food.
A baby responds to his natural hunger and thirst to cause him to cry out for the drink he needs. God created our bodies with hunger and thirst so that we would constantly be reminded that we need the care of the One who created us - not just physically but also spiritually.
By prayer we stay in fellowship with Him -- we in Him and he in us - and we find contentment and joy because all our needs are met.

Through Prayer we have Victory over the enemy
It is no great thing for men to tame wild beasts or understand the powers of nature - lightning, wind or light .... but it IS a great thing to have rule over the world and Satan and self.
The believer who maintains a life of prayer is given the power to overcome the might of the enemy and to be seated in heavenly places .

To those who are tied to the things of this world it is a constant struggle against self and the enemy, but those who have found the wings of prayer can at will experience the freedom of living where the enemy cannot reach them.

Prayer Makes the Impossible Possible
If we desire to obtain from God the blessings of a spiritual life, we must practice a life of obedience. Our desire must be to please Him, in everything He asks of us.
The deeper the prayer life of a believer the more he learns to know the will of God and the more he knows to ask for the things that God is pleased to give him. Then whatever he asks for he will receive.
"Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (IJohn 5:14)
"Lord, may we ever remember to rise up in prayer to breath deep of your life-giving Spirit!"