Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
3:51 p.m. Today's project was to gather an odd assortment of articles for the next two Bible station stories at Vacation Bible School. We had had an exceptionally fun and blessed night, with 4-year-olds listening, responding, and acting out the Bible story of Peter being let out of prison by an angel. (Acts 12)
Today's and tomorrow's stories concern the Apostle Paul on his ill-fated voyage to Rome to appeal to Caesar to overturn his arrest and imprisonment by the Jews. We'll re-enact the shipwreck at Malta tonight from Acts 27, and tomorrow, Paul's miraculous deliverance, unharmed, from the bite of the poisonous snake in Acts 28. Fun times ahead, but lots of items to gather: a long green sock to make a snake out of, crackers, baggies, stuffed toys, a fan, spray bottle, paper to makes sticks out of for building a fire, something with flames on it, and gummy worms. My shopping expedition took me to the 99 Cent Store, Alin Party Supply, and Big 5 Sporting Goods. I found it all, and was relieved not to have to worry tomorrow while at "Marry Me Bridal" in Orange with my daughter Heidi and her bridesmaids to pick out a wedding gown.
I had become concerned about an unsaved "friendship" one of my adult kids was developing, and was wondering how to bring it up. But do you know that the Holy Spirit was already ahead of me? In his regular daily scripture reading, he was in I Corinthians 6:15-20, and texted me to ask about it! (v. 19 says, "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit...?") I then asked him to read II Corinthians 14-18. Hear verses 14-15:Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial (the devil)? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
Our conversation was fruitful, with him asking good questions and paying attention to the answers! And since the Holy Spirit began the work of conviction and exhortation, I'll let Him complete it, for, as Philippians 1:6 says, "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." Let God's good work continue!
Need to run and get Steve's dinner ready early, and the car packed for another High Seas Adventure!
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Steve and I had attended the opening session at church last night, learning, among other momentous information, of current events from a military and political view, and listening to a pastor in Jerusalem today, who sees firsthand how Jesus Christ is bridging the enmity between Arabs and Jews in the "one man" movement. I would assume that the title of the concept is taken from Ephesians 3:14-18, which speaks of Christ's crucifixion making "one man" of Jews and Gentiles with the gospel:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both [Jews and non-Jews] have access by one Spirit to the Father.
As today's simulcast featured another evangelical pastor speaking of the bloody terrorism that attends daily life for his congregation in Jerusalem; Kay Arthur teaching through the book of Esther the historical efforts to annihilate the Jews that continue to this day; son of the founder of Hamas on video speaking of his coversion to Christianity; Greg Laurie speaking of knowing Christ, living for Christ, and sharing Christ, closing with an invitation that reminded me of the Harvest Crusades I've attended since they began; and a representative of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu speaking of the current situation in Gaza, the world's response to the flotilla incident and the "two state" solution proposed by the world's nations, I was impressed once again that perhaps we are the generation that will be raptured to heaven, ushering in the final battle between good and evil, and the return in glory of Jesus Christ!!
Meanwhile, are believers to sit idly by, clasping our "fire insurance" close to our vests, focusing on our own lives only? We all certainly have cares and concerns for our own households, business and perhaps ministry responsibilities that call to us, and we need to be diligent, good witnesses. But what is the actual reason to be good witnesses, if not to open our mouths, share the love of Christ, and offer the opportunity of salvation to those spiritually dying around us?
Jerusalem, Joel Rosenberg reminds us, is the real "epicenter" for all people to come to know God in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. It is the most fiercely contested city ever built! Listen to the prohecy of Isaiah 2:2-4:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days
That the mountain of the LORD'S house
Shall be established on the top of the mountains,
And shall be exalted above the hills;
And all nations shall flow to it.
Many people shall come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
He will teach us His ways,
and we shall walk in his paths."
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
And rebuke many people;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares;
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.
Amen, Amen! May the day hasten when all men will bow down to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ!
Friday, June 25, 2010
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Saturday, June 19, 2010
The enemy has been causing division in situations I had no information about, or responsibility for, as well as "oughts" dredged up from 2 decades ago! Jesus makes it clear in Matthew 18:15-17 that if someone has "ought" against you, go to them. And that is what I do if I know they have it! Blindsided attacks and backbiting "slams" certainly don't match up with Jesus' command. But since forgiveness is always in order, that's the road the Lord has led me to. There are far too many blessings to be enjoyed unhindered, such as the growing and thriving Bible study He has given me; lovely vegetables from the garden and the privilege of invigorating labor that God uses to produce it; giving to the Lord of our time and resources; a decades-long Christ-centered marriage, with the love still strong despite Steve's Alzheimers; godly, faithful friends; healthy children and grandchildren and an ever-expanding group of in-laws! God has blessed in so many ways that holding a grudge just won't do: as Paul did, "I press forward!" (Philippians 3:12)
Another area of attack has been in our finances; we are all feeling the effects of this currently mismanaged economy. Steven needs more training clients at his gymin Fresno, so he can quit the steak restaurant where he has to work Sundays; Kriss and Marisela are both seeking better-paying employment and coping with one car for two commuters! Praise the Lord, though, for our other three kids who are making it in their circumstances with relative stability! As parents, we try to send a little something if we can, but some doors are closing as we are move into a "new normal" of fixed income only! That's fine, because the Lord will go before us into any valley, and bring deliverance in the way He best sees fit! May we remain faithful, and trusting, making our stand on the Rock!
God's people Israel had been neither faithful nor trusting, and as a result had been driven into captivity. Do we need to confess that we have been captive to sins and the lust for material things? How we need our Savior and Deliverer, Jesus Christ the righteous! Just as the Jews returned to their land, let us turn our hearts back to the Lord!
Isaiah 62:11 gives reassurance to God's people: "The LORD has sent this message to every land: "Tell the people of Israel, 'Look, your Savior is coming. See, He brings His reward with Him as He comes.' " (NLT)
And to His people today, Jesus says, in Revelation 22:20, " 'Surely I come quickly.' "
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
Friday, June 18, 2010
Sound confusing? Michelle turned 26 last week, and really wanted to host a fellowship time for friends and family, but didn't have the space. Heidi offered our home after clearing it with me, and the fun began. Michelle and her sister-in-law Joanna attend the home Bible study I teach on Thursday mornings, and I have no concerns whatsoever that all facets of this gathering will be done "decently and in order," as the Apostle Paul adjured the believers in Corinth about their church gatherings in I Corinthians 14:40! And the party will definitely be a koinonia, centered around Christ, complete with worship.
Loving to entertain, and thoroughly excited by festive gatherings, I was willing to get the downstairs cleaned with Steve and Heidi's help, no big deal because I clean all the time (surface cleaning, anyway)! Imagine my surprise when Heidi told me that Michelle was going to come over the day before the party and clean house for me!! At first it seemed unusual, and my daughter and her fiance thought it might be a slight insult, but it was nothing of the sort, because Michelle had never even been to my house before. "I just want to bless and thank you," she told us at Bible study yesterday. No sense in being touchy, because we all need help from other believers, as the Lord showed us yesterday in our prayer request time, even if we don't realize it! We not only should exemplify "purity, knowledge, longsuffering, kindness and sincere love by the Holy Spirit," (2 Corinthians 6:6 paraphrased) but we need to allow others to do the same for us!
I set out nice soft rags and products for polishing furniture and glass in the living room and family room, and cleansers for the downstairs bathroom, because those are the only jobs I could see needing done. We'll have to mop and vacuum tomorrow as we would before any gathering. Since Michelle arrived about 1:45 p.m., I had time to take a brief nap after the hairdresser's and then go down to Altura Credit Union to re-do a shared branching deposit. Because of her help, I was free to spend time watering the garden, planting corn and green beans, and harvesting tomatoes and tomatillos. I also finished pressure cooking some chicken for salads next week. As we worked, we had much time for heart-to-heart sharing, so our afternoon flew by.
Michelle's mom is a super cook, so she will be serving: broccoli chicken rice; fettucine alfredo; spaghetti and meatballs; stuffed potatoes and caesar salad with homemade dressing, and I've probably left something out! I'll throw in Jello and Cool Whip for those who are too stuffed to eat cakes and other huge desserts. We also have tons of drinks left over from the colonoscopies Steve and I had scheduled, and we were supposed to consume pre-op. (He had his procedure; I'm putting mine off until fall when I have no huge obligations, The reason? I was sick for five days after the one I had 5 years ago. Actually, when I saw those huge needles in the backs of his hands, I thought "Nah!").
Heidi got home and helped put pictures back on the entertainment center, Michelle put the pictures back on the piano, and Pavel arrived. The three of them are having a funny and relaxed conversation in the living room.
Tomorrow, Michelle will be here with cold foods and salads to refrigerate, extra chairs and a table, and to put up some balloons and other birthday decorations. Heidi and I both said, "not til 10:00 please!" because we do our entire morning on Saturdays in our pajamas, or what passes for pajamas. Devotions, breakfast, then comes getting ready for the day!!
There's nothing sweeter than fellowship, so tomorrow will be a reward from the Lord for the three of us "working women!"
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
4:21 p.m. Today's project was to write the message for Thursday's Bible study on I Samuel Chapter Two. We have a nice group of women of all ages which is growing as teachers get off for the summer and a few return from vacation. About 10 more ladies are completing the written lessons online because of distance or work schedules. Now in our fifth year, I continue to be amazed at the diligence and devotion the women demonstrate for learning God's Word!
Steve and I had a quiet morning that included our regular Bible study and devotions, laundry, harvesting tomatoes, staking plants and planning the next corn planting. Spraying organic cutworm killer would take place in the afternoon. I couldn't wait to grab my water, purse, Blue Diamond almonds and hole up in my office amid piles of reference books, a legal pad full of notes taken earlier in the week, post-its for quick reference while speaking to the group, and the Pink Princess plugged in and charged up for an occasional "Brain break!" The King James, New King James, and New Living Translations were at hand, and I'd read the chapter in the NIV already. Wonder of wonders, this morning I'd completed my own lesson, too, during my devotion time! In full agreement I quote Psalm 119:97, 103-104:
Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day.
How sweet are Your words to my taste,
Sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.
How grateful I am to the Lord for giving me the ministry of studying and teaching His Word! It is truly through the Holy Spirit that I began teaching women's studies in 1983. I am still amazed that an avocation that I love so well, Bible study, is being used to help others know the Lord and His ways better, and apply the Scriptures to their lives. Another huge blessing is that I get to be in fellowship with prayer warriors and students of the Word, seeing each other through the trials of this life, as well as the miraculous acts of deliverance God performs in our behalf! When Jesus is in the midst of His women, a unity and bond are formed that no one can break apart--they have to go through Jesus first! (And Jesus did say of His church, in Matthew 16:18, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it").
Before we gather, however, there is much to be done here at home! Email and Facebook invitations, forming my lesson contact list for emailing--I was up last night until 11:00 p.m. with that task! The beauty of the age we live in is that once the ladies got paper copies of the first week's lesson to peruse last Thursday, from now on I'll email them to all but the few who can't print them out or have no computers. Lots of emailing directions to our hostess' home in Moreno Valley are needed, also phone calls to set up a carpool or caravan for our Riversiders. But no complaints here. Just knowing that women want the Word of God blesses and energizes me immeasurably!
Notes in Bibles by Chuck Smith and Victor P. Hanson, and commentaries by Vernon McGee and Matthew Henry make for an exciting beginning of my Bible study week. As the Holy Spirit causes the lesson to rumble around in my head, tailoring the message to my women, and convicting me in areas that need to be brought to the throne of grace, the message takes shape. A final review early Thursday morning allows for concepts that had not been present in my earlier study times. The Lord will add what He wants to the lesson--and subtract what is not needed.
Just as He does in my life!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matthew 6:16-18)
One thing I noticed was the way God sent encouraging people my way the entire day yesterday, within minutes of feeling devasted, amazingly. The first few were in person, some on the phone, others through email and Facebook. Encouragement came on all topics including Vacation Bible School, helps ministry, and my daughter's friend's mission to China. God even gave me a blessed time of study and preparation in I Samuel chapter 2. So much fun and excitement, peeling back the layers of the Word of God, realizing how much instruction for godly living is to be found in following the lives of Hannah and Samuel!
Awakening this morning after a very restful sleep, but still finding myself at a rather low point, I decided to share the crushing blows I'd received with Steve, and really broke down and wept. We prayed together and then continued on with our devotions. Then, after baring my heart to the Lord in writing, I ate, went upstairs and returned my prayer partner's phone call. How fitting that she is a lay counselor, so her wisdom was very apt and reassuring! We prayed for one another's issues as we do weekly.
I then received an answer to a prayer I'd placed before my FB friends on an entirely different topic!! I truly "went on my way rejoicing,"(like the saved eunuch in Acts 8:39), and organized meals for a family at church with medical issues while strolling through Vons. So today became an excellent time of fellowship and meeting others' needs.
God met my needs, both to give and receive, as only He can!
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
6:36 p.m. Today's project was to visit Heidi's fiance Pavel's family in the western La Sierra neighborhood of Riverside. Both of us sets of parents were eager to meet and enjoy the people who raised our children in the Lord. I love the way the Lord is working in Heidi and Pavel's lives, so they can say with David in Psalm16:5-8:
You maintain my lot.
We had had a very exciting weekend already. Pavel came over on Friday to get our permission to ask for Heidi's hand in marriage. When he texted earlier that afternoon to see if Steve and I would be home at 4 o'clock, this experienced mother of the bride knew what was up!
When Pavel came in, I invited him to join us in the living room. He opened up his heart and asked us both if he could propose to Heidi! So exciting, and the right thing to do; Heather's husband Nick did the same thing 2-1/2 years ago. Steve gave him an immediate thumbs-up, but I said "Let's build up a little suspense!" and we pretended to be consulting with one another. After the requisite "grilling" about where and how they planned to live, his future career plans and adjustments for his serious eye disease, we of course said "yes." We moved on to discuss children they want to have. Then, of course, we put our heads together to figure out how he'd keep a surprise element in his proposal. (Like me, Heidi doesn't surprise well--we figure things out). We decided that it would have to happen in the course of everyday life, in a place where Heidi normally would be.
Lo and behold, after third service, the lovebirds burst in the door full of thrill and energy...Heidi wearing her stunning Tacori ring! Pavel had had Pastor Sammy ask Heidi to meet with him. In the meanwhile, the kids and Pavel had banners ready, and one of Pastor Mark's sons had the video camera set. Pavel even went down on one knee and proposed there in the 5th&6th grade Sunday School class! Too precious! I can't wait until the CD is ready.
After I took some "ring" pictures and posted them on Facebook, of course (!) we went off to Pavel's home. What a gardener's and orchard keeper's paradise! And the Romanian hospitality, hilarious conversation and many building projects kept us all very relaxed, blessed and perfectly compatible. The barbecued pork and chicken were fantastic, and lots of salad and yummy desserts served to order with coffee ended a lovely afternoon. We left with gifts, too: a basket of fresh eggs, cheesecake, apple pie and lots of grilled pork. Rodica and her daughters like the Mary Kay goody bag I brought, too.
All in all, I agree with the Psalmist, that despite our trials, today's events showed me that indeed, "The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places."
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
This seems to be a 24 hour period of notifying people, believers and unbelievers alike, of signs I see of the spiritual demise of our national conscience. I would hardly fashion myself as a "watchman" as God called the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 33:2,6,7), at least no more than all believers are commanded to be! Late last night, I shared a GodTube video on my Facebook page that showed in a very dramatic fashion the number of abortions being performed daily in our country-- 1 every 24 seconds, 3,600 daily. 50 million abortions from 1973-2009. 1 out every 5 babies is now aborted. 2 out of every 5 African-American babies are aborted. Abortion is now our nation's number one killer, above all diseases and accidents. I am seriously considering joining the Abortion Blackout by wearing black on Fridays, the goal of which is to end abortion by 2010. By the way, less than 1% of abortions were the result of rape or incest, if you are one to seek exceptions...may the Lord lead!
At 9:00 this morning, I let my friends know that KTIE AM 590, a conservative talk radio staion out of San Bernardino, featured Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, urging Americans to contact our elected officials to support Congressman Pete King's bill supporting Israel. We know that the American people see Israel as an ally, and know it is right to support them--witness the 50-year veteran White House correspondent taking immediate retirement after the fallout from her racist, anti-Semitic remarks over the weekend. We're not waiting for action from the "top"-- we the people will defend Israel ourselves!
Listen to Psalm 122:6-8:
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem;
"May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
Prosperity within your palaces."
For the sake of my brethren and companions,
I will now say, "Peace be within you."
God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3:
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you and make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you shall all nations of the earth be blessed.
Through Abraham came my Savior, Jesus Christ--and I will never forgtet my gratitude to the faith of that nation God chose for Himself!
Not all of my notifications were of a negative, warning nature in this time period. I sent out invitations to about 350 women to join the summer Bible study I will be teaching starting on this Thursday the 10th. We will be studying I Samuel, and enjoying the written lessons God gave me 2 decades ago, and which, due to the invention of the PC, are now in Microsoft Word format and accessible through email to all of them if they can't attend regularly!
On an even more exciting note, I mentioned to two checkers at Vons that I had been at a women's retreat over the weekend. (Any subject I can use to open up conversation about the Lord is good for me!!) It turned out they are both Christians, taking their cue from the customer first, obviously, but they were familiar with both the Murrieta conference center and the Twin Peaks location. One even shared about a small "girl's group" she has as part of their church's womens ministry. This particular checker took me aside in an embrace and whispered to me, shaking her head and on the verge of tears, "Please pray for my son_____; he used to walk with the Lord..." I let her know that I understood. Oh, how many of us moms understand her agony and pain. Then, on the outside of the store, an elderly gentleman spoke with me about his evangelistic ministry. Bless his heart--it was inching up to 100 degrees out there on the asphalt! You know what compels this wizened old man? He quoted to me Hebrews 9:27, "For it is appointed to man once to die, and then the judgment."
God is truly pulling out all of the stops to get His saving work done in these last times! Are you on His side? God is not fooling around! He says what He means and means what He says. You must be born again," Jesus said in John 3:7. ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?
And for believers--ARE YOU TESTIFYING OF GOD'S WORK IN YOUR LIFE? Is there a brother or sister in the Lord who needs your encouragement right now, but will never get it, because they don't even know you're saved?
And you backsliders, come back now, right now! You know Christ, and you are miserable without Him. Repent, come back, be loved and received by any Christian you know--just do it!
Just watch and see what God will do in your life!
Saturday, June 5, 2010
4:41 p.m. Today's project was to lead a workshop at our women's retreat entitled "Pulled in
Many Directions--Pointed in just One." The byline was "Multi-task Building," in line with the theme, "A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands." (Proverbs 14:1) Our director of women's ministries, Robin, asked me to take on that workshop because she felt that I pretty much exemplify multi-tasking! With my large and very diverse family, trials, and ministries, there was no point in disagreeing!!
After two nights of little sleep and large digestive battles, I was blessed by Saturday morning's general session on practical building of our relationship with God. During a lull in the session I re-read the workshop leader instructions and came upon this point: "Workshops are more instructional, but participants should play an active role." Uh-oh! I had been picturing more of a facilitation and guidance of discussion based on my handout the women would be filling out, not teaching! I love to teach God's Word, but in the hecticness of staying out of town Thursday night, and the aforementioned lack of sleep, I had missed a rather key point! So I was able to add scriptures from Haggai, Matthew and Luke that referred to building the Lord's way and making Him our top priority.
After lunch, the women arrived at our very comfy assigned area in the lobby, with couches and coffee tables, perfect for relaxed, non-threatening discussion. After greeting each one, I opened in prayer and gave my testimony. I reiterated the topic, and then shared the background of Haggai 1:9, that the returned exiles from Babylon, now in Judah, were busy building their own palatial houses, but neglecting the building of God's house, the Temple at Jerusalem.
You hoped for rich harvests, but they were poor. And when you brought your harvest home, I blew it away. Why? Because my house lies in ruins, says the LORD of Heaven's Armies, while you were busy building your own fine houses.I pointed out that we get very busy going our own way, don't we? Are we sometimes guilty of putting God at the bottom of our "to-do" list? We then reflected on building on a firm foundation, Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus' story of the wise builder whose house was built on a rock, and the foolish builder whose house was founded on sand. Our lives need to be built on The Rock, Jesus Christ!
On the handout each woman filled out, between her and the Lord, where she stood on the major relationships of life: God; family (name each member); work, inside or outside the home; ministry. They ranked each area "doing well," "needs improvement," or "struggling."
They had several minutes to fill the forms out, and then I openly shared relationships that were doing well (The Lord, family relationships, ministry) and needs improvement (my new "work" as a retiree caring for Steve and walking the fine line between spouse/companion and caretaker). My openness paved the way for them to share very honestly about where most of them lack--time spent in reading and studying God's Word.
I threw in comments as needed, but the women taught themselves as they began to reflect on the point I wanted them to come to: the success of a Christian's life in ALL areas is directly in proportion to the time each of us devotes to seeking the truths of God's Word on our own, alone with Him before our day begins! I consider my personal time with the Lord beyond precious, exciting and invigorating--it's my time with the One who will always love me unconditionally!!
As we discussed the question "Are my priorities in order?" most admitted that theirs weren't--again, pure honesty! "What areas of my life lack the quality of commitment and time they
deserve?" More frank answers, showing tender conviction in the gals' hearts! And finally, the tough question every Christian faces: "What would the Lord ask me to change in my spiritual life, schedule, or commitments?" The only way to get the answer is to spend some intimate time with the Lord in reading the Bible and prayer.
We ended with the concept of "counting the cost" found in Luke 14:27-30. Yes, you will undoubtedly have to get up earlier, or find another definite pocket of time in your day to get alone with God, if you sincerely desire for Him to rebuild your life!
We may be pulled in many directions, but we must be pointed in only One!