Verse For the Day

Isaiah 58:6-7 (NIV) "Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice...Is it not to share your food with the hungry...?"

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Finding Answers in God's Word

"Blessed be the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1: 1-3 (NIV)

In this wonderful Psalm, which is called a Wisdom Psalm, we are given instruction in how to be and how not to be. We are not to ask for advice from foolish people, people who do not know God, and people who have fallen away from God. Rather we should delight in the law of the Lord, the law being God's Word, the Bible. It is far better to search for answers there because it is there that the principles for a good life, a happy life, are found.

For my younger audience, I want to say this means, Don't hang around with people who are messing up their lives. If you do, eventually you'll find yourself in a messed up situation of your own. If you read a small portion of the Bible each day - maybe, for instance, read the rest of this Psalm, you will find the right teaching, the right guidelines. 

When I was a new Christian, I used to just open the Bible, and let it fall where it may. You would be surprised at the number of times I found just what I needed. Now I don't recommend doing this and only this. Choose an entire book of the Bible: Psalms, Proverbs, one of the gospels (i.e. Matthew, Mark, Luke  and John) and read the entire book, not in one sitting but a chapter at a time. Then think of what you've read. Meditate on the deeper meaning and how it applies to your life. When you've finished this book, move on to another. Do this for a week, or a month, and check back with yourself. What have you learned?

I still do this. Right now I'm doing an individual Bible study on the book of the Psalms. I learn something new each time even though I've read the same verses several times before. I believe God wants us to stay in his world throughout our lives, reading his instruction day by day by day.

Now, do I do this. No, not all the time. Sometimes I fall away. And guess what. I find myself feeling as if I'm slipping farther and farther away from God. I start to sin more frequently. I become depressed. I have become separated from God. Only when I turn back to the Bible do I begin to feel God's joy again.

I want to say a word about the different translations of the Bible. There are many, and some are easier to understand than others. Right now, the translation I'm reading on a daily basis is the Common English Bible (CEB). The one I quoted from today is the NIV (New International Version). When I first became a Christian I read The Living Bible (TLB).
 And there are many more. Go online, or better yet, go to a Christian bookstore where you can open the different versions, and find one that feels right to you. 

Feel free to leave comments and share your opinion. And with that, I'll finish for today saying,

Have a blessed day, and may you find peace.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pondering the Psalms

Today, I am beginning a new focus for my blog(s). Until I'm moved to do otherwise, I am going to try and do a daily post based on my pondering the Psalms. If you've never read them before, or if you're led to read them again, I offer you the opportunity to post your own thoughts on the Psalm of the day.

I am not beginning at the beginning, nor do I promise to do so anytime while I'm doing this series. Rather, I will find an inspiration of the day and write on that.

The Psalms seem, in some ways, to be contradictory. Psalm 22, for instance begins like this: "My God!, My God, why have you left me all alone? "(Common English Bible) The NIV translation uses even stronger language. "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Throughout verses 1-21, the Psalmist David vacillates between reciting God's deliverance of his ancestors and His apparent abandonment of David. He pleads with God because "trouble is near."

Then starting in verse 22, he begins to praise God, and admonishes others to do the same. I like this about David. I can relate, and I'm sure many of you can as well, to the fact that when things are not going so well we ask God, "Why have you left me all alone." However, unlike David, many of us forget to praise Him when our bad fortune turns to good. I include myself in this.

I do cry out for help when I'm drowning, and when I've been brought ashore and resuscitated, I say a heartfelt, "Thank you."  But the next day, do I remember to drop a note of gratitude in the mail, maybe make a donation to a seaman's widow in the name of the one who saved me? More likely, I return to business as usual. Drama over!

For me, when I'm mindful of such things, it helps to keep a journal. To nightly review my day and thank God for my blessings. To thank Him for rescuing me, but also to thank Him for the way my little dog, Gracie sits on my lap while I read, for the nice firm mattress I sleep on, for warm blankets in winter, and cool sheets in summer. For friends. For family. For a husband who loves me. For God's faithfulness to me even when I fall away.

Through Christ' grace we are forgiven for all things, even for not remembering to praise Him. But don't you think even he, even God is pleased when we say "Thank You?"

I am writing this rather late in the evening, so I will say, "Have a blessed night. May God's peace be with you."

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Breath of God

"Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what  seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them." Acts 2: 2-4 (NIV)

Today is Pentecost Sunday, and it feels like an appropriate time to write about "Spirit." In our service this morning our pastor spoke about Jesus appearing to the disciples over a period of forty days after His resurrection. This gave them time to be "ready" to receive the Holy Spirit. A comparison was given that if a violent wind and tongues of fire came into our church today, we would all run away screaming.

It's hard to fathom what Spirit really is. But I believe it's what moves us to be kinder to others, and feel compelled to live out our faith by our actions. At times I have felt, and probably you have too, a gentleness moving within, some thought that reminds us to do what our conscience dictates.
At times, I believe I have felt the Holy Spirit moving me in a direction I hadn't planned to take - moving me to get up early and go to church, rather than sleeping in. (I love to sleep in.) Moving me to go in and donate a couple of hours of my time for a worthy cause when I might rather spend that time in my garden. Moving me to speak when my inclination is to be silent. I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

I encourage all of you to spend some time in quiet thought this week, and wait for the Spirit to move you. You might be surprised at the results.

Are you ready?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Seasons of Life

Today I'm with a friend, who happens to be my daughter's mother-in-law, at her summer home on Lake Wisconsin. We have been hard at work cleaning the place up because it's for sale, and her realtor plans on having an open house over the coming weekend. I don't mind helping her out though, because through the years, I have been a frequent guest here.

It's a lovely late spring day, and she has been in the garden weeding and planting for most of the morning and afternoon, coming in only for lunch, which by the way was a fish fry, thanks to a neighbor who offered fish he caught fresh on the lake yesterday. He even fileted them for us, so all I had to do was soak them in milk, bread them in seasoning, and fry them up. Delicious! I can't remember the last time I had fish not bought at the supermarket. Or for that matter fish that was fried rather than broiled!

My tasks have been washing windows, cleaning the steps down to the basement, and doing a bit of laundry. I've had plenty of time for rest in between chores. Marie has a lot more stamina than I do, but even she had a short nap after lunch. The seasons of our lives change, as they must, and it's up to us to adapt.

Ecclesiastes 1: 4 - 7 (Common English Bible) reads: "A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains as it always has. The sun rises, the sun sets: it returns panting to the place where it dawns. The wind blows to the north; around and around blows the wind; the wind returns to its rounds again. All streams flow to the sea, but the sea is never full; to the place where the rivers flow, there they continue to flow."

Annie and me having a quiet moment

The language of this particular translation seems so beautiful to me. And when I think about not coming to the lake house anymore, especially with my children and grandchildren, I try to think of the joy the next generation will have as they delight in God's wonderful creation in this lovely spot of the world. I wrote a poem about this last fall, but it's handwritten in a journal at home, so I cannot share it with you now. In a few days I will post it on my poetry blog: so you can check it out there. My feelings may have been a bit more melancholy back in the fall, but now that some time has passed, I am trying to be more philosophical.

"The sun rises, the sun sets," and so it must be.

Have a blessed day, and come back soon.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A New Day

It has been too long since I've posted here, but I have a truly revived heart and it's time for me to become more serious about my blogs. Yes, I said blogs, plural. You can check out my new blog Persistant Poetry as well as this one. 

When I say that my heart has been revived, I believe with all my soul that this renewal will be lasting. It is such a blessing when this happens, don't you agree?

God's Word is touching me in a new way. One example of this is :

Psalm 70: 4 - But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation always say, "Let God be exalted!"

My heart is light and happy today. May yours be as well.

Isn't God's world beautiful in the springtime. Let your heart sing and let God be exalted!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eve Gone Missing

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

It's been a while since I posted, and I'd like to give you an update. Leading up to Easter, I had some very moody days, partly because the fast I was doing became harder at the end, but thankfully, I was able to see it though.

And then, the week leading up to Easter is very meaningful, but sad for me as I contemplate all the suffering Jesus went though in order to save us. My church created wonderful Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, but while they were beautiful, they too were sad.

And then , I do have bi-polar illness, so times of depression are bound to happen. Unfortunately, sometimes they interfere with my faith life. I often don't write or feel creative. In these times too, I feel inadequate to receive God's love, and sometimes forget about grace.

Quoting from the Message Bible, the same scripture I started this post with, God says:  "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness."

And I cling to that. In this passage of the Word, Paul is speaking of how easy it is to boast, and how God gave him a handicap to cause him to be more humble. I can relate to that. Sometimes I boast more than I should, not keeping in secret the "good deeds" I perform. Maybe God is settling me down a bit when I get these moods. But I have found a wonderful Psalm, actually a prayer that sustains me, and reminds me that God is my refuge.

 O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief....The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So my Spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed."  Psalm 143:1,3-4

In the same Psalm,  verse 8 I read, "Let the morning bring me your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. "

So I look to the morning in the midst of my despair. I know that with God, the morning will come. I will rise up out of this cave, and once again, God's spirit will surge within me. Until then, God's grace is sufficient.

Have a wonderful blessed day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Day of Feasting

"Yet he has not left himself without testimony...he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14: 17 (NIV)

Yesterday, I went with my daughter, granddaughter and in and out-of-town relatives to Navy Pier in Chicago. When we first arrived we were hungry, so we went to a place outside the pier called Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company. The theme, of course, was based on the movie Forrest Gump, and the menu, of course, was shrimp - cooked in every way imaginable with a few chicken dishes sprinkled here and there.

I could have ordered a salad, and in fact, planned to do so since I'm abstaining from meat and sugar six  days a week through Lent. But I looked around the table at the family I love, looked around at our surroundings, and decided to treat the day as another feast day. So I enjoyed hush puppies with bits of shrimp and fish in the batter, and for an entree, shrimp stuffed with crab meat, all of which was shared with my daughter. Very delish! And at the end of the meal I had a few bites of Key Lime Pie, my most very favorite pie in the world.

And I did not feel guilty. Rather, I felt God's amazing love and blessings in being a part of this wonderful celebration of family.

Later, we walked through the pier to the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows which displays 150 of the finest examples of stained glass in the world, including many magnificent religious works. It is not sufficient to say that the art was breathtaking - it seemed each portrayal was more colorful and vivid than the last, especially when we came to the Tiffany collection. To use an old cliche, we feasted our eyes on pure beauty.

Entrance to the museum is free, and if you haven't already been there, I would highly recommend a visit, sooner rather than later. It took about a  half hour to walk through and briefly study each example.

I just love the fact that God made each of us unique and special,  and included so many creative people in the mix.

Thank you, God for the blessings of family and fine art. And thank you for feast days. Amen.

May the Lord bless each of you today and every day, and may you enjoy life abundantly.

And happy first day of Spring!!! I'm headed out to my garden to do some clean up work.