Tag Archives: Faith

Refreshed to Refresh

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Today’s post flows out of yesterday’s post, Calling The Thirsty

Once my thirst for love,meaning, significance, forgiveness, and redemption have been quenched by the Caller and once He has filled these hollow places in my life with His Living Water,  I am a spring.   I am The Caller’s  Spring.

The dictionary defines a spring as a natural fountain or flow of water.  A spring moves.  It is not stagnant.  If I am a spring, then I must ask, “Why do I feel stagnant?”  I think the answer lies in how I allow the challenges and disappointments in life, my griefs and my hurts to keep me in a self-absorbed state.  Proverbs 11:25 proclaims: “He who refreshes others will himself  be refreshed.”

It seems one of the paradoxes of the Christian faith is that I am emptied to be filled.  I must pour out my living water to be re-filled.  Again and again, this filling is the movement that keeps the water fresh, that keeps it alive.

That brings me back to the thoughts I expressed in the post, Doing Business.  If I am to be doing the Father’s business until my Lord returns, it will involve refreshing others, pouring out my living water to be filled again each morning.

Heavenly Father, move me off dead center and thrust me into activities that refresh and revive the thirsty all around me.  Do this by your power and for the Glory of your name.  Amen.

 

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Calling The Thirsty

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“Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the Lord…Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it.  When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived.  So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi.”  Judges 15: 18-19

En Hakkore means the caller’s spring or spring of the caller.

“Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation 22:17

There is One who is calling you, calling you home to the Land of Living Waters. He longs to strengthen you and revive you, to give you everlasting life.  His name is Jesus. Listen.  Do you hear Him calling your name?  He knows you by name.  He is waiting for you to cry out to Him for living water.  When you do, you will become En Hakkore.  You will be The Caller’s Spring.

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Birds and Rainbows

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It was a beautiful summer morning.   My husband and I  were contemplating and praying over a decision that meant  taking money out of our limited retirement funds.  As we sat in the warm sunshine, looking out on the balcony, several birds kept landing and perching on the railing near us.  We did not miss the message they brought us from Heaven:  “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)

That afternoon brought a heavy rain followed by a glorious rainbow.  We took note of that second word of reassurance from our Father: “Look.  Remember.  I keep all my promises.”

My husband had been re-reading Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest.  The words for April 29th, written so long ago, were important for us on the 19th of August, 2014:   “To be  certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring.  This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation.  .   . The spiritual life is the life of a child.  We are not uncertain of God, just uncertain about what He is going to do next.”

We have prayed and made decisions based on trust.  Those decisions have led to current uncertainties.

Yet we are certain of God.  Birds and Rainbows remind us God is trustworthy. With the help of The Holy Spirit we are trying for breathless expectation, rather than sad sighing.

 

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A Soft Heart

 

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“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.”  Psalm 95:8-9

“Today”  – today is the only day that matters.  Decisions TODAY are eternal.  “If you hear” – do I hear – am I listening to the voice of God?   “Do not harden your heart”- is my heart hardened?  How do I harden my heart?  Meribah means quarreling.  Massah means testing.   Does repeated quarreling with God, rather than agreeing and obeying make my heart hard?  Does trying His patience again and again render me more and more stubborn, insensible and dead to the stimulation of His Spirt?

Are we the walking dead?  While God tried reaching us day after day, month after month, year after year, were we self destructing by ignoring Him, arguing with Him, and living life on our own terms.   This is about believers, not agnostics or atheists.   The verses in Psalm 95 are addressed to the people of God.   We may wonder why we feel lifeless, without joy or peace or passion, when indeed we have sown death in our own hearts.

Yet, today is today, and we may push the code blue button, crying out for resuscitation.   Our Father will come and thump our hearts to life again.  Our Savior, His Son, will breathe His breath of life into our lungs again.   Today is today, and we can choose to listen to the voice of God – to repent of demanding our own way  – to decide to live life by His Kingdom principles and ways – to walk humbly with our God.

Oh, Mighty Father, give me power, as Guardian of my own heart, to choose to listen to you today – power to keep my heart soft and healthy.  Lord, I want a soft heart; the kind of heart that makes You smile.

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Easter Morning and A Sand Dollar

SandDollarOf all the mornings of each year, Easter is my favorite.  This Easter morning was especially glorious.  My husband and I attended a service with our son at a lake shore.  The sun rising over the lake was beautiful.  We faced the sun, and I closed my eyes, reveling in the sun’s warmth on my face and the sound of birds singing around us.

In those quiet moments with my eyes closed and my heart worshipping the Risen Savior, I became aware of some light in my lower right vision.  The light formed a star shape.  Then I noticed four white spokes radiating from the star.  Insight dawned – the light on the dark screen of my mind had produced the image of a Sand Dollar.

There is a legend that says this shell tells the story of the birth and death of Jesus.   There are four nails holes and a fifth hole made by the Roman’s spear to remind us He is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed that we might be forgiven and have everlasting life.  On one side of the shell there is an Easter lily with a star at it’s center, reminding us of the Star of Bethlehem that announced His birth.  On the other side of the shell, there is a Christmas poinsettia that also reminds us of His birthday. Inside the shell are five white doves, reminding us of the Holy Spirit, who is given by Jesus to each believer to empower him or her to share this life changing good news.

Risen, Glorious Lord Jesus, thank You for the beautiful ways You reveal the truth to us and tell us Your Story, including the lovely  Sand Dollar.

 

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The Prayer Bank

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” I John 5:14-15

I had been faithfully praying for one of the deepest desires of my heart, one of my fondest dreams.  I was confident that this prayer was according to God’s will, and so I was confident that the answer was yes, confident the fulfillment was just a matter of time.

Then my dream suddenly crashed and crumbled.  I was disappointed and disillusioned.  I was tempted to quit praying, especially for this particular dream.     God’s spirit ministered to me through the words of Joy Dawson:  “Be encouraged;  no prayer has been wasted.  All prayers are safe in God’s prayer bank and will be cashed in His perfect time…What God starts and energizes, He completes.  It’s His vision and burden.” *  I decided not to give up!

The Holy Spirit also gave me this thought:  The current events could actually be part of  the fulfillment of your request of God.   Now that was a thought to further strengthen my resolve.

I know from personal experience that God tears down to rebuild from the ground up, like He had my marriage (see my story on the book page of this website).  Sometimes dreams have to die and be re-created according to God’s specifications to become beautiful in His perfect time.

This spring I choose to believe that my prayer hasn’t been denied but is in process.  I will wait expectantly, anticipating the thing of beauty God will re-build.

Father God,  I thank You for hearing every one of my prayers and depositing them safely in Your bank.  I praise You for wounding in order to heal, for tearing down to rebuild. You are Good.

*from Intercession, Thrilling and Fulfilling

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The Restart Button

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The cry of the human heart is for a restart button.   Is there anyone who doesn’t have regrets about something?  Is there anyone who doesn’t wish they could wake up and live a day over again, doing it differently?   Sometimes the regret runs so deep that we long for a new life.

Jesus said that no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.  He made this astonishing statement to Nicodemus, a teacher of the law.  (See John 3)  Nicodemus struggled with how this could be, and Jesus said, “Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

Jesus is The Restart Button.  He is the force behind the desire for a restart.  His is the power to produce a new life, a new beginning.  He says He himself makes all things new.   When we believe Him, really believe Him and begin a life of following Him, we restart, new every morning!  Every morning we awake forgiven and empowered to love Him and love others.

This isn’t false advertising.  The One who made the claim was resurrected and rules the universe.  He lives to be my restart button.  He lives to be yours.  He waits for you to call out to Him.   He delights to share His life, His New Life with you.

Lord Jesus,  reveal your love and power to those who long for a restart.   Give each of them your New Life.

 

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Joy and Sorrow


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My husband had a PET scan on December 16th, the day before he had his 5th chemotherapy for treatment of his stage 3 lymphoma. We learned the scan showed No sign of any residual lymphoma. We praised God for His gift of healing.  Our joy was off the scale, beyond measurement.  The relief was so immense, I could hardly process the reality of the news. We were singing, “To God be the Glory. Great things He has done.”

A few days later, our daughter-in-law called with sad news.  Her sister in Brazil had delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl, her first child.  After the delivery, her sister became ill and quickly decompensated, slipping into a coma.  Testing revealed widespread cancer in a late stage.  We began praying desperately with all the faith we had for a miracle of healing for this young woman, but our son informed us in a subsequent phone call that his sister-in-law had become septic and had gone into organ failure. She was placed on life support, and all of us kept praying for a miracle.  We learned she died the day after Christmas.

There are no words to describe the depth of heartache we feel for our daughter-in-law and for her entire family.   Our sorrow cannot be measured.

I ponder how one can carry such joy and such sorrow in one’s heart at the same time, as well as all the wonderings.   I wonder why God gave me back my 68 year old husband of 43 years and why He took a young woman from her husband of one year and her newborn child.   I wonder why the God of miracles sometimes grants them as we pray with faith and why He sometimes denies them as we pray with faith.   Faith is a constant.  His power is a constant.  His love is a constant.  With the prophet Isaiah, I admit that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts – that His ways are not my ways – that His thoughts and His ways are higher than mine.

I suppose that I am experiencing a type of survivor’s guilt, the guilt the loved one of the survivor feels.   I have felt this guilt before, long ago, when my second son was born.  My friend gave birth to her second child shortly afterward.  The two of us had enjoyed being pregnant at the same time.  We had anticipated watching our second born children grow up together.  Our first children were best of friends.  We called them the dynamic duo.  What trouble those boys got into.  We wanted our second children to be girls.  My friend got the girl, but I got the healthy baby.  My friend’s baby girl was born with multiple heart anomalies.  We prayed desperately for a miracle for months.

As I relive the guilt I felt for having a healthy baby, I recall the night God spoke to me as I prayed.  It was the first time I had ever really heard Him like I did that night.   I said, “please, God, please heal baby Kirsten.”  I was disturbed by the response I heard in my thoughts, “I will in heaven.”   I slept fitfully that night and was awakened by a call early the next morning.  Our friend’s baby had been placed on a respirator.  Her entire bowel was necrotic.  Later that day my friend and her husband asked the staff to turn off the respirator and they held their little daughter in their arms as she died.

As I wonder why God granted a miracle to my old husband and denied one for a young mother,  God reminds me that His miracles don’t always look the way I want them to.   He reminds me that healings sometimes are completed in heaven, rather than on earth.   Does that make the healing any less miraculous, any less wonderful?  It is not how I would write the story, but I agree the miracle is just as miraculous and wonderful – indeed, I concede, more wonderful, more miraculous on the other side of eternity.   It doesn’t take the pain away.   It shouldn’t.    But it does return me to the place where I can be comforted by the truth that THE HEALER is always GOOD and always LOVES us.   I will chose to believe today that He loved this young wife and mother in her life and in her death.   I will trust Him for Grace to keep my heart intact as I rejoice in my husband’s healing and grieve over the loss my daughter-in-law suffers.

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Paul’s Accounting Method

 

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“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Jesus Christ – the righteousness that comes from God  and is by faith.”  Philippians 3: 7 – 9

I’ve been meditating on these verse for quite some time now, pondering their significance.  I want to fathom the meaning in a way that will allow me to apply it where the rubber meets the road in my life, in the nitty gritty of the here and now.

It seems that the Apostle Paul had a ledger with a plus side and a minus side.  One side stood for all that was worthwhile.   The other side stood for all that truly didn’t matter compared to what was actually important.   Amazingly, as he sorted through his life, the plus side of his ledger had one item: knowing Jesus Christ.  Everything else, in comparison,ended up on the minus side.

When and how will I come to a place in my life when there is only one thing listed on my gains ledger? When will I realize that everything I ever gained, compared to Jesus was rubbish?

Life has forced losses on me and on my husband.   We certainly wouldn’t have chosen them.   I was not chosen as assistant head nurse when that position seemed so important to me.   My husband never received another position as pastor after he left a church without a call to serve another one.   He was a pastor, and not having his own church to serve was like being disconnected from himself.  It was excruciating.   Yet, according to Paul’s accounting method, these hoped for gains in our lives would really have been rubbish compared to knowing Jesus.

Everything – every loss and every gain – serves the one goal, the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ.   For every experience – every heartache and every suffering, as well as every joy and happy gift – is just another opportunity to know Jesus better.

The disciples pulled their boats up on the shore and left everything behind to follow Jesus, to know him, to be with him.   They considered all they had gained in life as rubbish compared to the great gain of being students of the Master.

Lord, please let my husband, who I lovingly call “the Count”, keep counting lymphoma as a valuable gift, as an opportunity to get to know Jesus better.  Let me keep counting this fight with cancer as a gain, if it helps us be better students of our Teacher, Our Master.  Let us pull our boats up on the shore and follow you, in sickness, as well as  in health.  Let us, as Paul said in Philippians 1:10, share your suffering and become like you in your death.  Let us keep saying no to our own will and yes to yours.   Amen.

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My Heart An Altar

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One warm and sunny August day, I sat by the lake and talked with one of my dearest friends.  The conversation progressed to altars.  She had heard a man with a prophetic gift talk of having the word altar embedded in his thoughts. He was seeking God to know the know the meaning.  Shortly after that day, I learned that my husband has lymphoma.   I have continued to ponder altars during these months of helping him cope with his illness and treatment.

In the Old Testament we learn of Moses who was instructed by God to build a tabernacle for the children of Israel.  We learn that God met with his people in that dwelling place.  We read that inside the tabernacle was an altar on which sacrifices were offered to cover the sins of the people.   In the New Testament we learn of Jesus who came to be the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world.  We learn that that those who trust in his sacrifice for them become tabernacles for the dwelling of his Spirit.

I am a tabernacle, and my heart is an altar.   My passion, my love for Jesus is the fire that burns on my altar.  Paul exhorts us in Romans 12 to be living sacrifices.  He tells us that this is our only reasonable worship.   I am called to worship the One who gave his life for me by the sacrifice of myself.  In the flames of my love for him, my pride, my rights, my agenda die that Christ might live in me, might fulfill his purposes in and through me.  These are fine words, lofty purposes, but what do they look like when applied to my life as I walk with my husband through the valley of the shadow of death?  I ask the Holy Spirit to show me.  I ask him to make these words a reality in my life by his power at work in me.

The words of an old hymn play over and over in my mind, as a prayer:

“Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love, One holy passion filling all my frame.  The baptism of the heav’n-descended Dove, My heart an altar, and Thy love the Flame.”*

* Spirit of God, Descend upon My Heart, verse 5, music by Fredrick C. Atkinson and lyrics by George Croly from The New Church Hymnal

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