Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Fear Not !

Above is a photo of the mother deer who had the broken leg.

I was never able to get close enough to her to see exactly what the damage was, until a couple of days ago when she was munching close to my back patio. I was able to get this photo, that shows where her left front ankle was broken.

It has healed but has a thickened area over the ankle . The mother deer is obviously no longer in pain but she walks with her hoof turned outward. Because she is walking on her side of her foot it makes her leg shorter and so she walks with a limp, but she has been seen leaping over fences. She has learned to cope with her handicap but I think it must often pain her to step on something sharp.

When we were first aware she had been hurt we felt so sorry for her and we feared for the safety of her little fawns that wandered around alone and vulnerable.

How I would have loved the mother deer to come to us ... to let us help her.

We could have given her the care she needed . We could have set her bones and taken care of her and her fawns during the healing process. If she had only come to us, she would now be walking on a perfectly sound leg.

But she is a wild thing and because she did not trust us we could not help her. But how we wished we could somehow have convinced her of our good intentions.

Looking at her the day I took the above photo, I thought..... is that how God feels?

Does He look at us and wish we would just come to Him with the brokenness of our lives ... our wounded hearts, troubled minds , our suffering , painful bodies?

If we would not be afraid .... if we would just trust Him, would He not work to put everything right again and comfort and strengthen us during the healing process ?

I think of His words that reveal His heart intentions toward man:
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jer. 29:11)

I hear His voice calling out to those who are tired and hurt and burdened:
"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt.11:28)

And yet how often can God do nothing but stand by with an aching heart, watching people suffer needlessly and alone.
"How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Matt. 23:37)

It was not that we were totally unfamiliar to the mother deer when she met with the accident . She would calmly munch on my freshly blooming flowers with me standing just a few feet away. She had no reason to believe that I would hurt her... but she would not allow me to come closer than her designated several feet distance or she would just walk away.

Is man not often guilty of having the same attitude toward God? He enjoys what belongs to God and may even acknowlege that God is the creator of all things.....but he keeps God at a distance.
Even people who call themselves Christians keep a "personal comfort distance" between themselves and God. They allow God in some areas of their life but not others.

The mother deer eventually healed and she is walking again but she is handicapped. Man too finds ways of dealing with his brokenness and pain and often he heals ... but for the rest of his life he is handicapped... limping.... constantly reminded he is no longer whole.
And yet he could have been perfectly made whole, if only he would have trusted God !

If only he would listen to His healing Words.

Only God has the answers for our needs: only God can heal a broken heart, only God can forgive and make us whole again, only God can turn suffering and sorrow into joy !
Only God can take what the enemy meant for evil and turn it into a blessing.

Why do we not trust Him? are we 'wild things' ? afraid ?

Do a concordance search some time on the words "fear not" and see how many times God says those words , or how often the words are spoken by someone speaking for God.

Rather than being like the mother deer and hide in our pain, let us rather be like the mother's fawn who so trustingly walked up to me and put her nose into my hand. Would I ever violate that trust ? Never !

So then how much more would our Heavenly Father never violate the trust that anyone places in His hand.

Our Father - so great, so compassionate, so tender , so worthy of our praise ! Let us trust him 'in all our ways' setting aside our fear and our own understandings - and encourage others, by our example, to do the same !!

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Which came first?

I believe that the jury is still out on the mindless riddle of which came first -- the chicken or the egg?

I would love to slip into the room where they are still debating the chicken/egg question and lay this one on the table....

"Which came first ? the parrot or the parrot flower?"
That should stump them for awhile!!!

see note below

I think the real question is ... Which came first? God's wisdom? or man's foolish ideas?

We have such an awesome God whose wisdom blows me away ! And yet He is such a perfect Father God who cares about every one of His children and pauses in His watch over the universe to give a personal gift He knows will delight His child.

He gave me such a gift yesterday .
I had just finished an e-mail to a friend in which I commented on how God was the giver of such good gifts. He gives gifts , not to please Himself (as we sometimes do) but He gives gifts that will please the one receiving the gift.

I pressed the send button on the e-mail and left the house to go babysit my granddaughter who was home from school sick .
I was just passing through the complex gate when I noticed the mother deer and her two fawns from last year grazing on the side of the embankment.

(NOTE- the mother deer who had her leg broken... and for those of you who prayed for her - yes , she is doing fine. She has a little limp but it doesn't seem to bother her . She is leaping over fences again. )

I have been trying for a long time to get a picture of all three together but somehow I have never had them position themselves so all three would fit into my lens. This time there were clumped together and I was hoping I could get the shot I've been waiting for .

As I approached them to get as close as I could and also to try to avoid aiming my camera into the sun just coming over the top of the mountain, I stopped as the deer looked up at me.

Then what happened next, will stay in my memory as one of those unforgettable moments.

The littlest fawn looked at me and then without any hesitation walked right up to me and put his nose in my outstretched hand. He looked up into my face and then turned to go back to his grazing - leaving me with a thrill in my heart, a smile on my face and - regret that I didn't have a photo of the moment . The best I could do was take an 'after' shot of him enjoying his grass.

Did something nice happen to you today or this week that put a smile on your face .. but you forgot to thank the One from whom the gift came?

Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Note: Very Rare Parrot Flower
This is a flower from Thailand . It is a protected species and is not allowed to be exported. Few people will ever see it except in photos.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Amazing Mustard Seed

I love Jesus’ parables.
And I think I understand most of them pretty well, as I’m sure do you .
But what we don’t realize is that sometimes we miss things because either we don’t understand the ‘laws’ of God’s creation or we don’t understand the culture the parables are set in.

I recently had the privilege to hear Dr. Karl Coke in a TV interview. I found him to be a fascinating man and have ordered his book… “A Proper Education”. -
(I'll post a book review when I have read it)

But what I want to share with you was an insight I gleaned from him regarding one of Jesus’ parables that I have always felt to be deeper than what is obvious.

In Matt. 13:31,32 Jesus says.. "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field,
which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches."

And again in Mat 17:20 "Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. “

So both the kingdom and our faith are likened to the mustard seed.

To properly understand the parable then, we must first ‘observe’ the mustard seed.

Even the people to whom Jesus told the parable did not understand the mustard seed the way we are able to understand it today. Isn’t that a beautiful thing about Jesus’ teaching? No matter how much science advances, Jesus’ teaching just expands with it and remains Truth !!

There is something important that agricultural science has learned about the mustard seed.

Man has discovered how to make hybrid vegetables. The way this works is by changing the DNA. For example, to get corn to be perfect corn that bugs won’t eat .. you have to cross the corn DNA with cucumber DNA .
The ONLY way they can get the corn to accept the cucumber DNA is to introduce it through a virus. Make the corn “sick” and then it will accept the cucumber DNA and end up as hybrid corn.

What science has discovered is that mustard cannot be hybrided .. (is that a word? No worries.. it is now .. you just saw it in print!)
The mustard seed can never be anything other a mustard seed. It refuses all viruses and there is no way to make it anything other than what it is !!

Another thing about mustard seed is that it LOVES garbage . It grows best in the most contaminated , infested areas.

How interesting these bits of info are when we re-examine the parables in the light of our new understanding.

Jesus compares His kingdom to a mustard seed !
It can never be anything other than what He created it to be! No one can come and change it , nor introduce anything that will change its DNA – its self-defining code !! His Kingdom is an eternal kingdom! A kingdom that cannot be invaded , changed or destroyed !!!
I'm reminded of Rev. 21:17..
"But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of Life."

Then when we look at the mustard seed along side faith (our childlike trust) , it gets even more interesting.
The mustard seed is afraid of nothing !!
It grows where other plants would be choked out, withered for lack of nutrients, eaten by bugs, infested by disease. But the mustard seed thrives !!
Wow !! do you see the implications regarding our faith ?
Does your faith grow in difficult circumstances and in an impossible environment?
When it is tested beyond endurance does it turn a deaf ear and thrive ?

Do you allow a virus to infest your faith? And thereby allow all kinds of error , falsehoods or sin to destroy it ?
There is nothing that will make faith ‘sick’ except doubt ! Doubt is a virus that opens the door to all the enemies of faith …. the voices we listen to in our world, voices that speak with man's wisdom learned at the feet of secular humanism and of course the voices that tempt us into deception, error and sin!
All the voices of this world have behind them the father of lies, none other than the original great destoyer of faith in the Garden of Edon - "Did God REALLY say ?"

Is your faith like the mustard seed , imperious to the invasion of anything contrary to the Word of God? Is your faith.. like the mustard seed , unable to be shaken from its single-minded focus – “I am a mustard seed and I WILL GROW!! “

Are you , like the mustard seed… so tenaciously holding onto the Word of God that you believe nothing else?
The mustard seed though it be ever so tiny grows to be a tree big enough for birds to build their nests in its branches.
Is your faith big enough to move mountains? Big enough for others to lean on you and take strength for themselves by being encouraged by your words and example?

The mustard seed will take out of the soil only the nutrients that it needs to be a mustard seed. It leaves all else behind.
We are told what our faith needs to grow !! Do you take ONLY that and leave all else behind?

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God !” (Rom.10:17)

"Thank you , Lord, for the sermon in a mustard seed !"

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day

What day should be more celebrated than a day that honors LOVE !!
Of course every day should be a Love Day ... but I love a day set aside to remind us all how important it is to express how we feel to those who are important in our life !!
And in my life that includes YOU !!!!

Here are a few of my favorite Victorian Valentines ...... They are for YOU !!!

It is recorded that the beloved apostle John, toward the end of his life had only one sermon.

"Beloved , if God so loved us, we ought to love one another !" I John 4:11

Sunday, February 10, 2008

God Sees.. Is that not Enough?

My girlfriend sent me the following article this evening .. it is one of those e-mail round-abouts but I think it has a great message.
Just in case you haven't received it yet in your mailbox I thought I would post it here for you to read! While the author of this piece was a mother encouraging mothers .. the message can apply to anyone. We all wonder at times if our life is worthwhile , it we are contributing anything that will last.
1Co 10:31
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Be encouraged to know that everything you do as unto Him is part of the mosaic of God's purposes and is important to Him who is the master builder!!


I'm Invisible .
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'
Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone,or cooking,or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.
I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.
Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more:Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?
Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being.
I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?'
I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is theDisney Channel?'
I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'I

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.
She's going, she's going, she's gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in.
I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well.
It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself as I looked down at my out-of-style dress; it was the only thing I could find that was clean.
My unwashed hair was pulled up in a hair clip and I was afraid I could actually smell peanut butter in it.
I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this. '
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe.
I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte, with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour – the book.
And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work:
1. No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.
2.These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished.
3.They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
4.The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam.
He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.'
And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place.

It was almost as if I heard God whisperingto me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day,even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over.
You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction .
But it is not a disease that is erasing my life.
It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness.
It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride.
I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime, because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself.
I just want him to want to come home.
And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right.
And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Not Worthy?

I was very sorry we didn’t catch the beginning of “The Curious Tribe” (on the Discovery Civilization Channel) last night , but we saw enough of it to fall in love with the delightful tribe members who went with their chief to visit England. They had never stepped outside the life they lived in the jungles of Papua New Guinea as members of the Insect Tribe. Their culture was still in ancient civilization mode, not far removed from Cannibalism !
I don’t know how they had learned English but they spoke it very well with a delightful mix of metaphors directly translated from their own language.
What was soo endearing in them was how they related to total culture shock in England—and how they tried to understand it within the context of their own world.

Their travel guide and host Donal MacIntyre convinced them to risk the long ride up a huge ferris-type wheel to the top to over look the city . At first they all refused saying it was much tooo high and they were afraid. But then Donal appealed to the bravery of their Chief and once he agreed to do his best , the others were obligated to follow their Chief’s lead.
They were quite amazed at the view from the top how all the house touched like a huge tree !!
They expressed interest in where the Spirit House was and when Donal pointed it out to them … the chief was rather puzzled. He said hesitantly, “But your Spirit House is smaller than that building over there , or that one. In our village no one builds a house bigger than the Spirit House.”
Donal MacKintyre was left trying to explain that yes, in his culture too .. in the past.. the Spirit House had been the most important building.
Later, when their wish to go inside the Spirit House was granted … they looked about in amazement… admiring the the old cathedral proclaiming it to be beautiful ! The one woman among the chief and three other tribesmen, said “This was made when the god formed the earth .. no man could build this”. The others all agreed !
And in their eagerness to relate it somehow to what they knew they kept saying it was like one of their trees whose branches created a canopy over them . In childlike delight they ran their hands over the statures proclaiming how they looked ‘alive’.

Donal took them inside a huge super store and they wandered around in awe but didn’t seem to be too impressed with the ‘pig’ Donal showed them that was packaged in the meat aisle. He tried to impress them that he didn't have to go hunting .. this is where he 'hunted'. They insisted they had lots of wild pig… they didn’t need the boxed up stuff.
But they found a jacket made of a material that they really liked. The chief rubbed it in his hands saying it was good material and warm, exclaiming that they could not get that in their village.
It was impossible to entice them to ‘greed’ – even the woman when a necklace was hung around her neck , she smilingly took it off and put it back on the shelf. Their mind set was too strong --- if they didn’t NEED it , why would they want it ?

One clip really endeared them to me . Walking in a park they came upon their first ‘wild life’, a squirrel ! With childlike delight they watched the squirrel and asked. “Can I catch it ? I want to catch the animal !! “ and with a huge smile one of them declared “ I like it sooo much !!” and then explained what he would like to do with it ! “I put it on my head.. for the dance … when we have the dance in the village I will put it the feathers of the animal on my head -- I want to catch it !”
Their hunter instincts kicked in and they tried to sneak up on the squirrel but of course the squirrel just ran up a tree and looked down on them . They had been given digital cameras and it was so cute to see them sneaking up on the squirrel their cameras held up and then laughing with delight to see the picture on the camera screen.
They were more animated and delighted with the squirrel than anything else they saw in the big city !

The other thing they requested to see was the Chief’s house. They were taken to Buckingham palace and they stood for a long time staring at it . Then they asked to go inside to meet the chief. Donal tried to explain to them that he had asked if the Chief would see them but she was very busy with other things and did not have time. The Chief could not understand such blatant rudeness and tried to explain in childlike simplicity of heart that he himself was a chief and he wanted to see this chief… he could not understand that a chief would actually refuse to see another chief! He explained that he would be going back to his village and he would get old and die and would never again come to this place. Why could he not see the Chief, it was the only chance he would ever have.
He listened to Donal’s embarrassed explanation but he wasn’t pleased and said so …”I am not happy !”

It was so interesting to watch their childlike reaction to a world as totally foreign to theirs as the advances of civilization could make it … and yet in the end I wondered who was the more primitive of the two.

I saw in them the simplicity that we in our culture only glimpse at in small children and I saw what Jesus meant when He said “Except ye become as little children ye shall not inherit the Kingdom of God. “

I saw what God wants us to be like in His kingdom… filled with childlike simplicity – in awe of what we see but accepting with absolute trusting faith what we see.
Taking delight in the wonders of His ways but not being spoiled by them......
Never losing the joy of the simple things …..
To know the difference between need and want...
To be brave enough to follow our Chief any where He leads....
Recognizing that though He is a great God we can come with the ‘mindless humilty’ of a child… coming into His presence with the confidence that since we are His child of course He will receive us !

What will remain a pain in my heart is that the Queen did not consider them worthy of her audience. I doubt anyone ever came more worthily !!
And though I was angered by the realization that an earthly monarch might consider someone beneath her attention….I was so gratified to think that The King and God of all monarchs does not consider the very least among us to be unworthy of His granting their request for an audience with him !

It made me want to go to their tribe and tell them about the great Chief in the Sky who would love to receive them in to His Kingdom, into His Spirit House .
I pray that God send someone to these dear people with the gospel -- they didn’t find it in civilized England!

The Testimony

Even though I think I know my bible pretty well…. I am still delighted so often by some new insight …or gem that I had somehow previously missed !
I came across one yesterday and when I put it all together, I wanted to share my thoughts here in this post.

"And when He had made an end of speaking with him (Moses) on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony... .." (Ex.31:18) "Now the tablets were the work of God..." (Ex.32:15)

I can't even imagine what that experience must have been like for Moses , but we do have Moses’ own descriptive words , “And so terrifying was the sight …I was exceedingly afraid and trembling!” (Heb. 12:21)

The people who stood watching from a distance were also afraid…

“And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” (Ex.19:16)

(Sometimes we think we would love to have God speak to us in an audible voice… but aren’t you glad He speaks in a still small voice ? in a whisper? So we are not terrified?)

Moses was instructed to take the tablets of the Testimony, on which were inscribed the words of God, and put them into the ark which stood in the tabernacle.
The tablets of the Testimony were so important that the tabernacle and the things in the tabernacle were spoken of in reference to the Testimony.
- The Tabernacle of the Testimony…..( Num 10:11, Rev.15:5)
- the tent of the Testimony (Num.9:15)
- the ark of the Testimony (Ex. 16:34)
- the veil of the Testimony (Lev.24:3)
- the mercy seat upon the Testimony (Lev.16:13)
- Even the jar of manna, Moses was instructed to place in front of The Testimony. (Ex.16:34)

(Jesus is the Manna , He Himself stood before God’s Word – He spoke only the words that He heard from His Father.)

It is not hard to understand that the Word of God is always central and forever…. “The Law of the Lord is perfect …. The Testimony of the Lord is sure…” (Ps.19:7)

But there is more…God, being ‘the God who speaks’ desires that His Voice be heard among His people. Though His Word was perfect, the stone tablets declaring it were not. They were waiting, until the time for God's perfect plan to be revealed.

He made His Word flesh and sent it to dwell among us in bodily form…. As a man … JESUS !

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory ..” (John 1:14)
The Word, the Testimony, came to us - in Jesus.
".. The Word of God and The Testimony of Jesus Christ".. (Rev.1:9)
"... for The Testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Rev.19:10)

Moses’ physical tabernacle was patterned after the one that is in heaven, and in this heavenly tabernacle there is The Testimony! (Rev. 15:5)

From heaven , from the Father, came Jesus…..

“ He who comes from above is above all….and what He has seen and heard that He testifies …..and he who has received His Testimony has certified that God is true…..” (John 3:31-33) “..The Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ” (Rev. 1:2 )
Jesus , having heard all that God Spoke – is The Testimony (the Word) of God. He is The One who testifies of the Father.
Instead of a stone Testimony kept hidden in the ark of the Covenant … God sent a Living Testimony that we could touch and feel.

Yesterday, I noticed something that I have never noticed before.

In the introductions of Psalm 60 and 80 there is a Hebrew word… ShushanEduth .. that literally is translated, The Lily of the Testimony… the name of a song.

In the word - translated as Lily - there is also the meaning of Trumpet – always symbolic of God’s Voice… or Word.

I wonder… did they know of whom they sang? The Lily most lovely, The Lily of the Valley ? It reminds me of a beautiful song we sing .. “He’s the Lily of the Valley, the bright and Morning Star, He’s the fairest of ten thousands to my soul!”
The Most Beautiful One of the Testimony of God … not the Words of God on stone.. but the Words of God written in Visible Love walking among us.

How poetically beautiful that is, is it not ?

But there is another application here.

In the Song of Solomon where the Lily of the Valleys scripture is.. (Song of Solomon 2:1) the Lily is feminine…. Does that negate Jesus being the Lily? Not at all, it only makes it more beautiful because Jesus’ body is spoken of as feminine in the ‘church’ . We are in Him and He is in us…. We are called to reflect the beauty of His face… We too are lilies ( beauty, trumpets ) of the Testimony, called to testify of God’s Word.

Jesus First, our example… then we in Him by His Spirit … living, breathing, obeying , witnessing to God’s Testimony… His Word, His Truth !

Together with Jesus , we are Lilies of the Testimony of God!

"May our words be pure and true, speaking the same words that Jesus speaks! May we not dishonor Him with The Testimony of our lips."