Monday, August 31, 2009

A Dream Within A Dream


Do you dream much? They say that we all go through dream stages when we sleep. So when people say they never dream, they really do. They just don’t remember it. The dream stage of sleep is called R.E.M. That stands for rapid eye movement, which is what we have when we dream. There’s a rock group called R.E.M., and they sang a song called “I don’t sleep, I dream.” I guess that would really be a hallucination. I’ve always been bothered by realistic nightmares. Some people think dreams can predict the future, but I think they just visualize what’s going on in our subconscious minds. But in Old Testament times, when you had a dream, it could predict the future, and it could be from God. Back then, when we didn’t have the Bible, God spoke to people in many ways, and dreams were a common way. God even said in Numbers 12:6 “When a prophet of The Lord is among you…I speak to him in dreams.” And so He did. Quite a bit. He talked to Abimelech in a dream. He appeared to Solomon in a dream, and told him to ask for whatever he wanted. Solomon asked for a discerning heart to govern his people and God granted him his wish. All in a dream. Joseph had a dream that predicted his future leadership, and Jacob saw his stairway to heaven in a dream. Even in the New Testament, the angel of The Lord came to Joseph in a dream three different times. To tell him that Mary would give birth to Jesus, to tell him to go to Egypt to escape from Herod, then to tell him when it was safe to return. Dreams can be good or bad, but have you ever noticed they’re never uninteresting or boring? I believe that our life will seem like a dream when we get to Heaven. Something that lasted just for a little while, and then we awaken to know we are safe and home at last. Nothing bad can happen anymore. What a relief. It was all only a dream, a momentary passing through on our way to reality. Perhaps Edgar Allan Poe was right when he said, “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” Sweet dreams, everyone.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Edgar And Vincent











There is a traveling exhibit of newly found items that belonged to Edgar Allan Poe. And this summer it came here, to Charlottesville. That city is about a half hour’s drive from our home. Of course we had to go. It was being shown at U.V.A., the university where Poe studied and lived. And right across the street from the exhibit is Poe’s old dormitory room, preserved and sealed up just as it was when he stayed there so very long ago. Here are some of the pictures I took. They took the front door off of his dorm room, and sealed it up with clear plexiglass. So you can’t enter it, you have to take pictures thru the glass. You can see my reflection in it as I take one picture. As for the exhibit itself, they didn’t allow cameras in the room, so I had to take this picture of his writing desk from outside the entryway. Good thing I had a long zoom! Notice that there’s no back on his small, pathetic looking writing chair. How uncomfortable looking!! No wonder his stories were so full of pain. Besides hair raising tales, Poe wrote quite a few lovely poems. Of course he’s best known for “The Raven”, but check out his gorgeous “Annabel Lee” and “A Dream Within A Dream.” Poe was completely unappreciated in his time and lived in poverty. He could barely eak out a living by selling horror stories to what used to be called “penny dreadful” magazines. Vincent Van Gogh had similar problems. In his despair and melancholy, he cut off his ear, perhaps as a way to shut out the rejection. Even silence would be better. He could not support himself with his art and had to live on money that his more grounded brother gave him. Too bad Poe did not have a rich brother. They both died sorrowful and in plenty of debt. But creation seems to come out of suffering, so perhaps we would not have as much output from them if they’d been content. I really can’t think of any great artists or writers who were joyful. Van Gogh had to live and paint away from home. Thus again showing us the truth of Jesus statement “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.” Noah and Jesus are both good examples of this. Why do you think that is? Maybe we think ”Oh, that’s just Joe from down the street. Nothing special about him; he’s just one of the guys.” We say and do things to our family and close friends that we would never say to someone we don’t know very well. Perhaps we want to make a good impression on people we don’t know well, and have just forgotten to appreciate those close to us. They already know our good and bad traits and love us for who we are, so it doesn’t matter anymore. You know the old saying “Familiarity breeds contempt”. I wouldn’t go that far, but I think it breeds laziness and ungratefulness. The people who love us the most seem to be the ones we take for granted. Philippians says”Let your gentleness be evident to ALL.” 1st Peter tells us “A gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight.” I think so many people are hollering and yelling to make their point nowadays that they seem to forget this. I know I do at times. But it’s worth remembering, because here’s our reward. “He whose…speech is gracious will have The King for a friend.” Proverbs 22:11.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Babies From Outer Space?







Not really outer space, just earth. It’s the two girls in my life, goofing around. It doesn’t take much to amuse me when I’m tired, and this struck me as hilarious. They didn’t stay this way for long, because they couldn’t see anything. It got me to thinking about things seen and unseen. Perhaps Paul would have liked these pictures, because he tells us to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. The book of Timothy tells us that no one has seen or can see God. In Genesis, God says that no one may see His face and live. But God has transformed himself so He can appear to us at times. In lots of amazing ways. As a human, in a burning bush, as a dove, the wind, a pillar of fire and a pillar of a cloud. And of course, Jesus said “Anyone who has seen me has seen The Father.” 1st Corinthians 2:9 tells us something else that’s unseen. “No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh Very Young







Mark 10:15: Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.
Today was the last day of a long and wonderfully tiring week. Our three year old granddaughter, Anne, has been staying with us while her mom is having surgery. Then today we also watched the other three year old little girl we sit for, Ella. The book of Genesis tells us that Sara and her husband were very old. And when Sara found out that God was letting her have a son, she laughed. And thousands of years later, people are still talking about that laugh. I know about that laugh, because I know why God does not let old people have babies. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a continuously amazing, rewarding, funny, and often oddball experience. While she was staying with us this week, we came to know and appreciate our granddaughter much better. I would recommend it for all grandparents. The book of Proverbs says that our children’s children are a crown to the aged, and I’ve certainly found that to be true with us. The house is very quiet right now, as it is back to the two of us, my husband and me. We have the weekend to sleep and catch our breath before the fun begins again. I don’t know the future, but here’s one prediction I will try to make come true. Tomorrow we will sleep till mid afternoon. We will stretch and yawn and take our time waking up. Then we will recline on the couch with coffee and the paper and listen to the silence for a good long time. Like proper retired people. Then we will have an enjoyable private conversation. Which will be mostly about the girls. And then we will wonder when we will see our granddaughter again, and begin thinking of excuses to go visit. Because before the day is done, we will be missing them both. Childhood has the swiftness of a fleeting dream. I put my face in little Anne and Ella’s hair and breathe very deeply, hoping to inhale some of the youth, the energy, the trust and amazement. Because It is gone all too soon. Just ask Cat Stevens, who wrote and sang this:
Oh very young, what will you leave us this time?
You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while
And though your dreams may toss and turn you now
They will vanish away…fading up to the sky
And though you want it to last forever, you know it never will

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No Direction Home


I read something in the paper today that I thought was hilarious. Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan is in negotiations with two car companies to be the voice of their in-car navigation systems. Those of you who are about my age will see the humor in this. I grew up in Dylan’s heyday, and even have a few of his C.D.’s. He is famous for his raspy, muttering voice. It’s almost impossible to understand all that he sings about. You need a lyric sheet. It’s a laugh riot to think of him trying to give someone directions. Even funnier, here are some of his lyrics. The first sentence to “All along The Watchtower”: “There must be some kind of way out of here.” And in another song, he talked about having no direction home. The book of Proverbs says that a man should be directed by no one except the Lord. Jeremiah says that it is not for man to direct his own steps. But it sure is great to have a GPS when you’re going somewhere you don’t know. Psalms tells us that we need God to direct us because He founded the world and all that’s in it. He created the north, the south, and all directions. But if you want directions, here’s the best thing. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Communications




What’s up with telephone books these days? We have been getting so many calls from one company. They are very concerned to know if we got our phone book. If we want it. If we like it. Where on our property they can leave it. They call and wake us up, call at dinner, call all the time. They use automated voices and real people. This is really an urgent matter to them. I wish I would get as much attention from people when I really did have an urgent matter. Like the doctor’s office. Or the drug store. Just a few years ago, we got one phone book, two if we were lucky. The residential, and the Yellow Pages. Sometimes carelessly thrown in the yard. Now we have a million. All published by different companies. Yellow Pages, Yellow Book, City, County, City & County combined. We have so many that they won’t fit in our big divided magazine rack. It seems the most important thing in the world now is communications. People on cell phones as they drive. Puzzled husbands trying to grocery shop using their cell phones to quiz their wives. E-mail. E-mail on cell phones and blackberries. And we soon got bored with talking to one friend at a time. Now we have to talk to them in huge bunches and groups on Facebook and Twitter. Heaven forbid we should not be in touch with every single person at all times via every piece of equipment we own. And yes, it’s true; I’m one of the worst offenders. But to these phone book callers I say: enough is enough. And you know what? Even with a zillion phone books, it’s still no easier for me to find a number. Maybe worse. I end up having them strewn all over the couch and floor, totally exasperated. It’s so much easier to call God. No phone numbers required. All we have to do is earnestly call out. Wouldn’t it be nice if people were just as concerned with constantly keeping in touch with God as they are with everyone else? I read somewhere that we should use our Bible like our cell phones. Take it with us, and have special passages written down that we can “speed dial” in it. Wear it out so that we need a new one every few years. God is in constant contact with us, and wants us to return that. Psalm 17:6 “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me.” Psalm 86:7: “In the day of my trouble, I will call to you, for you will answer me.” Zec. 13:9: “They will call on my name and I will answer them: I will say ’They are my people.’ And they will say ’The Lord is our God’.” We never get a busy signal. In the book of Numbers, when they cried out to the lord, He heard and sent an angel to them. 2 Samuel 22:7: “In my distress I called to the Lord. From His temple He heard my voice. My cry came to His ears.” And I’ve saved the best for last. Isaiah 58:9: “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say ‘Here Am I’.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's In A Name?











Do you remember my blog entry from a couple days ago? I posted pictures of colors in the sky like a rainbow, only in a spot. And I asked what it was and if anyone had seen one. Well, I got my answer. I found these pictures on the web, and they are the same thing. It’s called a sun dog. My friend Danny Kiser knew the name. It’s a colored patch of light at the same distance above the horizon as the sun. They are usually seen when the sun is low, and might even be seen one or two times a week. But what’s up with that name? What an awful name for such a beautiful thing! Why would anyone call it that when there are so many more pretty names? Names are a big deal. Plants and animals all have Latin names. Who ever thought of using a dead language to describe species? What kind of sense does that make? Maybe scientists like it because only they can understand it, so it makes them look smarter. God says that He has our names engraved on the palms of His hands. In the book of Genesis, God brought all the creatures to man and gave him the privilege of naming them. God also changed people’s names according to their character. God told Jacob that his new name would be Israel, because he overcame so many struggles. Jesus gave people nicknames. Simon’s new name was Peter. James and John were Sons Of Thunder. I wonder if they all got a chuckle out of that. I like to think of myself and my friends and the ways we try to do God’s work, and wonder what nickname Jesus would give us. The Bible says that a good name is better and more desirable than riches or fine perfume. Revelation 3:12 tells us that we have a citizenship in God’s future kingdom “He who overcomes, I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God.” The Bible also tells us this “there is no other name under Heaven given to man by which we may be saved.” Yes, names are a very big deal, and the name of Jesus is the biggest deal of all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Be Warned







Today you’re going to find out just how stupid I really am. Actually, looking at the Bible verse at the end of this post, I think I would be called “simple”. That sounds better than stupid, anyway. Do you recall last Friday when I got clunked on the head with a wooden toy? That has healed up nicely, thank you. Well, today I heard little footsteps behind me getting up steam and coming fast. But did I turn around and look? No. Did I do anything? No! You’d think I’d be warned. Sure enough, a three year old came running and head banged me in the lower spine. It didn’t hurt too badly at first, but as the day went on, it got worse. So now I can stand and walk, but it’s painful to sit. Which is why I’m writing this in a kind of sideways slumped over position. Children under five ought to come with warnings on them. But, being a parent, I should know that anyway. A lot of things in nature have warning colors on them to say beware. My pictures above show some. Poison ivy has no warnings on it. It blends in. It just looks bland, so you have to remember “Leaves of three, let them be.” I think we need rhymes like this for every dangerous thing that doesn’t have warning colors on it. Having the job of making up the rhymes would be fun and I would be the first to apply. The possibilities are endless. “A child waving a wrench, jump up on a bench.” In the Bible, people were warned in all sorts of different ways. But I haven’t found any rhymes. They blew trumpets and had dreams. They heard voices and had visions. Warnings like this, I would surely pay attention to. The warnings of today are not near exciting as in bible times. I think this verse in Proverbs is what I need to memorize. “A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge. But the simple keep going and suffer for it.”

Sunday, August 23, 2009

God's Bonus







Take a good look at these pictures. What do you see? Do you see the colors of the rainbow, only in a small spot? If you said yes, you’re right. I see these all the time. Does anyone else? Instead of after the rain, they come out in good, sunny weather. The last time I saw one, I just happened to have my camera with me. So we pulled off the road and I snapped these pictures. The pictures don’t really show how striking and beautiful it is, as I only used a little sub compact Kodak. But you can get the idea. Has anyone seen these, or do you know what they’re called? They look kind of like a prism. I’ve never heard of them, and I wonder why no one ever mentions them. I think when God gave us the rainbow, He threw in a little bonus, and this is it. We are to keep our eyes upward, and when we do, what wonderful things we can see.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I have two people I am close to who are both waiting on surgery in less than a week. And while they are waiting, they are in considerable pain. My one friend’s cardiogram did not come back normal, and if they don’t get that taken care of in time, his surgery date has to be cancelled. That surgery date has been his lifeline. The wait seems twice as long when you’re in pain. Tom Petty sang a song called “The Waiting Is The Hardest Part” and he certainly was right. I think it’s right up there on the list with one of our hardest things to do. Another may be forgiveness. Perhaps I’ll do a post on that later. Why is it so very hard for us to wait? I’ve even heard this sentence: Hurry up and wait. That’s silly and a complete oxymoron. Patience is for sure not something we are born with and it doesn’t come naturally. We have to learn it, and it takes a long time and a lot of frustration along the way. Some people never do learn it. Life is harder for them. Waiting seems to make us anxious. We used to know someone who could not wait for dates and appointments, so she was always way too early everywhere she went. Then, when she got there, she couldn’t wait to go home. Did you know that there are times when God waits on us? Gideon asked him to wait while he got an offering, and He did. And 1 Peter tells us that “God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built.” All through the Bible, we are told to wait. Isaiah says “Blessed are all who wait for him.” The Psalms seem to have the most to say about waiting, and here are some verses taken from it. “Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Wait in hope for the Lord. He is our help and our shield. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Our Lord knew how hard it would be for us to wait, so He gave us some wonderful promises. But Psalms 37:7 tells us the most beautiful. We need to remember it for when waiting gets too much for us. “Be still and wait before the Lord. He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn.”

Friday, August 21, 2009

Boo Boos And Monsters

I babysit for a sweet little three year old girl. Today she was playing with a wooden toy, and she asked me if I was afraid of it. I told her no. Then she promptly hit me on the head with it. This is quite out of character for her. I told her that she had given me a boo boo, and asked her to apologize. She said she could not apologize because she was afraid of monsters, then she threw a blanket over her head. I guess that’s as good an excuse as any. Talk about misplaced fears! There are no monsters for her to be afraid of, but I should have been fearful of her with that toy in her hand. People are afraid of what they should not be, and not afraid of what they should be. This may be partly because fear is largely based on emotion, not logic. In the book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were afraid because they were naked, when they really should have been afraid of the devil. King Saul was afraid of David when there was no reason. All through the Bible, when God manifests himself to people or sends an angel, He tells them not to be afraid. Here’s something the Bible tells us not to be afraid of. Matthew 10:28 “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” That’s probably the hardest thing for us to do. At least harder than facing a three year old with a wooden toy shaped like a hammer.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When I Am Weak...


Lately I have been thinking a lot about being weak and caring for the weak. This is because of my beautiful daughter-in-law, Melissa, pictured above. She is a very smart, helpful, take charge person. But for the last few weeks, she has been helpless. Bedbound and unable to walk or sit, and awaiting spinal surgery next week. Throughout her extremely painful ordeal, she has not whined, but has continued to be patient and concerned for others. A good example of the saying that it is not your circumstances that define you, but how you react to them. She is weak, but has been made strong, as God told Paul in 2 Cor.12, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then goes on to say “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me….I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, In persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Here is what my commentary has to say about this. When we are strong in our abilities, we are tempted to do God’s work on our own. When we are weak, we allow God to fill us with his power, and then we are stronger than we could ever be on our own. I have no doubt that Melissa will come out of this stronger than ever, but it will be a better kind of strength, one filled with even more understanding and thanks. Going through something like this has the potential us make us all much better, if we let it. The book of Ezekiel says “I will strengthen the weak, but the sleek and strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.” One of the things that God wants us to do during our short stay here is take care of the weak and needy. The Bible even tells us to “rescue” them. It not only helps others who are unfortunate, but God blesses us when we do this, and it shows a good example. It is a big part of our goal to be more Christlike as we go through this life. As for our own trials, we have the choice to let them make us bitter or better. Which would you rather be?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

You Choose,You Lose

The other day, my three year old granddaughter was playing with a wooden toy cookie set. She lined up twelve cookies on the baking sheet, and told me to pick one. Any one I wanted. It was up to me. When I did choose one, she took it out of my hand and said “No, you can’t have that one.” I asked her why, and here’s what she said. “Because I get to choose.” Then she promptly took the one I had chosen, and gave it back to me! She didn’t care which one I took, but the decision had to be hers. Our need to control everything starts very young, doesn’t it? Little Anne really tried to let me decide, but in the end, it was too much. She had to be the one to choose. We all have such a strong independent streak that makes us want to decide and control everything in our lives. In some people, this is so strong that they can’t even take good advice (see the book of Genesis). Eve just had to make the decision herself and do what she wanted. And look where it got her and everyone else. Because we’re all like her. Even at age three! We want our lives to be our own. But here’s the thing about that; our lives never did belong to us, they belong to God. Always did and always will. We cannot see in the future like He does. He put each of us here for a reason and He wants us to ask him about that. Eph 1:4 says “He chose us in Him before the creation of the world…” Extreme independence always gets us into trouble. The book of Proverbs tells us that “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” A child’s parent always knows what’s best for the child, and so it is with us and God. When there are decisions to make, we need to let go and ask The One Who made us. God created us with free will, so let’s choose not to choose, but ask him to do that for us. Proverbs 8:10 “Choose My instruction instead of silver…”

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bluer Than Blue











Are you feeling blue? There was a song called “Bluer Than Blue”, and Willie Nelson sang one called “Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain”. In Bible times, people weren’t depressed; they had “a downcast spirit”, or were sorrowful. Did you know that our Bible also tells us that sorrow is good? Ecc. 7:3 says “Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” Sorrow makes us examine our lives, contemplate, and have sympathy for others who are downcast. Did you know that great things can come out of sorrow? Many of our greatest writers and artists were very depressed. And out of that came wonderful, classic books, and beautiful artwork. It has long been a theory of mine that great things come out of great sorrow. A writer of Psalms said that his soul was disturbed and downcast within him. And look at how beautifully he wrote about it. Paul tells us to be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, and that God comforts the downcast. He says something else, too. Godly sorrow produces earnestness, longing, concern, and readiness to see justice done (2 Cor. 7). Being happy and satisfied all the time is not good for us. We can only examine our lives, have true empathy for others, and cry out to God in our sorrow. A poem puts it this way. Walking with pleasure feels great but, oh, the things we learn when we walk with sorrow.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back To School


I can’t believe that school has started again. It seems to start earlier every year. When I was a child, back in the dark ages, school never started until well into September. I loved going to the store and buying school supplies. I still love the smell of crayons. That was the best part. Here’s the worst. I was in school when President Kennedy was shot and killed. The teachers cried, closed the school down early, and sent us home. Home, where we watched and listened to the horrible details over and over for weeks. What are your best and worst memories of school? I’ve read that when you feel old and want to go back to your youth, think of algebra. Even long division was awful for me. I’ve also read that knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. The book of Ecclesiastes explains that knowledge is human, but wisdom comes from God. You can have plenty of book knowledge, and still no wisdom. Did you know that Ecc. 1:18 says “With much wisdom comes much sorrow. The more knowledge, the more grief. I imagine that having wisdom makes us more aware of the suffering and injustice in the world. That would be why my teachers cried that day in November, which seems like a lifetime away. In fact, it pretty much is. The Bible says that it is not only the old who are wise. It also says that the price of wisdom is beyond rubies. Some qualities of wisdom, according to our bible: your words are gracious and used with restraint, wisdom listens to advice, you have humility and don’t boast of your knowledge, you hold your tongue, turn away anger and keep yourself under control. We’re not supposed to think ourselves wise or clever. This can make us too proud and boastful. And do you know what the beginning of wisdom is? The fear of the Lord (Psalm 111:10). One other thing. 1 Cor. 8:1 says “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.”

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All Creation
















This summer, three of us went to the Taubman Museum Of Art in Roanoke. My super smart friend, Melinda Norris, put me onto it. Thanks, Melinda! Here are some of the pictures I took. I stood in that building, and looked up and all around, and was stunned. There were amazing things in all directions. To me, good art floods the mind, fills us with wonder, and makes us think and question. I guess man has always been driven by the need to create. Think of cave paintings, the giant monoliths, Stonehenge. We are driven by a need to express ourselves and communicate. I’m thinking that God made us all with this creative need because He made us in His own image. And God himself is the ultimate creator. His canvas is the whole universe, and He flung the stars in the sky to decorate it for us. Fall leaves turn stunning colors, even as they are dying. The sky, flowers, and even insects (think butterflies) are all made by God to be beautiful. Think of other creatures, as well. Take the spider. Most of you know how afraid I am of spiders. But have you ever seen a spider’s web in the sunlight, or with dew on it? It catches it’s prey on a work of art. God did not have to make it spin webs. But He did. Creation is a strange thing. For many, it seems to get stronger and better when they are sorrowful or hurting. That’s how we got some of our greatest works of art. Are they paying a high price for it, or is this a gift that comes from their pain? Something good coming out of suffering. God created us to appreciate beauty. In Isaiah 65:18, God says “Be glad and rejoice forever in what I create.” Here I’ve paraphrased the words to one of my favorite songs, “What A wonderful World”
I see trees of green…red roses, too
I see em bloom for me and you
I see skies of blue…clouds of white
Bright blessed days…and sacred nights
I hear babies cry…I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know
And I think to myself…what a wonderful world

Saturday, August 15, 2009

A Summer Celebration
















Our friends have a huge luau for all their friends every August. And every year it gets better. It is beautiful and fun, but also a bit wistful, because it marks the beginning of the end of summer. Also, last year our whole family went. This year my daughter-in-law is ill and bedbound, so the rest of our family couldn’t come. But if we have to bid farewell to summer, then a warm night with images to delight the eye, and wonderful food, music, and friends is the best way to do it. And when it turns to dusk, the hundreds of twinkling lights come on like multitudes of fireflies and the children shriek with joy as they break open the piñata. A wonderland visit one night a year. Solomon said “I command the enjoyment of life, because nothing is better for a man under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad.” God ordered the Israelites to have several festivals a year. Ezra 6:22 says that they celebrated one feast for seven days because the Lord had filled them with joy. The king and officials provided the partiers with 2,000 bulls and 17,000 sheep and goats. And 2Chron. 30:23 tells us that at one of these celebrations, after the seven days were up, they decided to celebrate seven more. Wow! They must have been very healthy! That must have been the biggest party of all time. But, then again, God had given them the joy to celebrate. Remember when King David and the Israelites celebrated the return of the Ark? As the Ark was entering the city, David was so filled with joy that he got carried away, and removed a bit too much of his clothing, dancing half naked in the street. His wife was watching from a window and she was absolutely mortified! She should have been down there celebrating with them, but she was defiantly not a party animal. She was above all that common rowdiness. And when she saw David, she lit into him. Well, he informed her that he was the King, and would be even more undignified if he wanted. David was being honest and was overjoyed in his worship of God. The celebrations in those days must have really been something. In an earlier post, I quoted a Sara Teasdale poem,” Life Has Loveliness To Sell”. “Spend everything you have on loveliness. Buy it and never count the cost.” We had an evening full of loveliness tonight, and it didn’t cost a thing. Thank you, Sue and Rodney Knight!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake







Know what these pictures are? They’re cakes. That’s right, every single part is edible. My daughter-in-law’s friend has her own bakery, called “Short & Sweet”, and she specializes in cakes that look like anything you want. She has a real gift, and is able to use it in her daily work. How satisfying that must be. I’m sure there are many who don’t get that opportunity. The Bible tells us in Deut. 8:18 to remember our Lord, because it is He who gives us the ability to produce wealth. The book of Romans tells us that we all have different gifts, and that God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. It is wonderful to find the gift that God gave you, and spend your time knowing you are doing it and pleasing Him. There is really nothing else more important than pleasing God. God gave everyone a gift of some kind, but some people just haven’t found theirs yet. Or may already be using their gift, but never viewed it as such. 1 Cor. 12 has many gifts listed. Discovering it can be as easy as letting God know we want to do His will and asking him for it. Do you know what the greatest gift of all is? Paul tells us its love, and that we should desire it eagerly. But back to our cakes for a minute, because I think they illustrate a good point. I wouldn’t desire these just by looking at them, because I wouldn’t know what they were. Appearances can be very deceiving, can’t they? We get a shiny new car that looks gorgeous, only to find it’s a clunker. We sit down to a meal that looks great, but tastes awful. God tells us to take a better look. A deeper and more thoughtful one. Galatians tells us that God Himself does not judge by external appearances. John 7:24 says “Stop judging by mere appearances and make a right judgment.” We may look at homeless street people and make many false assumptions, when we really know nothing about them. Except their appearance. There are also many other things in this world that would deceive us. The Bible tells us that even friend deceives friend. Satan himself is an angel of light. So when we pray, let’s ask God for discernment for things of this world. And take a second look.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lullaby


Hush now baby don't you cry
Rest your wings my butterfly
Peace will come to you in time
And I will sing this lullaby
Know though I must leave, my child
That I would stay here by your side
And if you wake before I'm gone
Remember this sweet lullaby
The world has turned the day to dark
I leave this night with heavy heart
When I return to dry your eyes
I will sing this lullaby

These are the words to a beautiful song Josh Groban sings. It’s called, simply, Lullaby. I love lullabies, they are simple and soothing. And this is the best I’ve heard. It is a mother singing to her baby. She has to leave him, and the only thing she has to give him is this song. She’s hoping that if she ever returns, he will remember her with this song. These words remind me so much of what’s going on today. The world HAS turned dark, but when Jesus returns, He will dry our eyes. Several places in our Bible tell us to sing a new song. In fact, the Bible is full of singing references. The Psalms say that not only should we sing, but all the trees of the forest will sing before the Lord. But here’s the best part of all! Do you know that God will sing us His own lullaby? The last two lines of this song could be taken right out of Zephaniah 3:17. “The Lord will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” When I first saw that verse, I could hardly believe it!! God will quiet us with his love and sing His song to us. And of course, it will be the most amazing lullaby in the universe!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cut Off


Our three year old granddaughter has recently been staying with us while her mom has been hospitalized. So she has been spending quite a bit of time in a hospital room, visiting. I’m sure you can imagine what there is to play with there. Medicine cups, push buttons on the bed, foamy soap dispensers. And it’s always lots of fun to pull the emergency nurse call cord when things get a bit boring. She gets lots of attention very quickly when she does that. So very exciting! But you’d never guess what her favorite new toy was. A tourniquet! She used it as a whip to slap people and things into submission. Then, being the fashion conscious girl that she is, she tried to use it to accessorize her outfit. Around her waist for a belt, draped over her wrist as a bracelet. But we had to stop her when she wanted it to be a choker necklace. She’s too young to understand what happens when your circulation is cut off. But adults understand about being cut off in many ways. We get our credit cut off when we can’t make payments on time. Cut off from our neighbors when our views, religion, or skin color is different. These days, many are cut off and laid off from their jobs. The Bible has some things to say about being cut off. Psalms says that evil men will be cut off. That if we reject Jesus, Our Father will reject us, or cut us off (John 3:36). But here’s the wonderful part. God promises never to cut his people off. And He says it so many different times in many different parts of the Bible. He knew some of us would need reassurance, and this is His comfort to us. Hebrews 13:5 says “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” And this is repeated in the books of Joshua and Isaiah. Psalm 94:14 says it short and to the point:”The Lord will not reject His people.” This world can be cold, incomprehensible, and abrupt. But we can truly believe that if Jesus is our Lord and Savior, God will be with us always and never cut us off.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Pink Butterflies & Blue Birds




My little granddaughter talks quite a bit about finding a pink butterfly. And when she finds it, she knows she will catch it. This made me think of the elusive Blue Bird Of Happiness. You remember the old saying that if you catch this bluebird, as long as you have it you will be happy. It seems the goal of everyone is to find happiness, then keep it. Forever. What a foolish thought. We can never be in a constant state of happiness! That’s why the bluebird is elusive. Happiness depends on things of this world, which are constantly changing. Solomon said that when he looked at all he had done, it didn’t make him happy and it was meaningless; like a chasing after the wind. Or maybe after bluebirds and butterflies? We will always have sorrows and trouble in this world. Matthew 6:34 says “Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Happiness comes and goes in our lives like a beautiful, fleeting gift, and cannot be caged. So, when we see the pink butterflies and blue birds of our lives, we need to enjoy them, then watch them fly away and await their next visit. Ecc. 7:14 tells us this “When times are good, be happy.” But joy is another thing altogether. Joy is something that comes not from the changing things of this world, but from inside. It abides with us. We don’t need to run after it. In Philippians, Paul says that joy comes from being united in our goals of serving God and putting others before ourselves. Not to be be concerned with our own needs or making a good impression. How can we do the work of the Lord if we are so concerned with wanting to be happy all the time? The book of John tells us that in this world, we will grieve, but in the end, our grief will turn to joy. And I’ll take God’s joy instead of the world’s happiness any day!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wonder Bread







I love to look through cookbooks, and recently I found a strange one on the bargain shelf. The Wonder Bread Cookbook. Really. The history of Wonder Bread plus all kinds of recipes. This got me to thinking about bread in Bible times and what an important part it played. The genuine, original wonder bread was God’s manna from Heaven. That was wondrous. And it built strong bodies in more than 12 ways. But the Israelites soon got tired of it and began their whining again. I guess it’s human nature that, no matter how good or perfect something is, we always want more, or better, or different. Maybe that’s because this world is not really our home, so nothing on this earth will ever satisfy us. Can man live on bread alone? For sure he could on God’s heavenly bread. I’m thinking the manna looked nothing like Wonder Bread. Maybe it didn’t resemble any bread we have today. Bread figures in our Bible stories quite a bit. The ravens brought Elijah bread and meat in 1Kings 17:6. God ordered the Israelites to eat only unleavened bread when they were on the run. Ecclesiastes says to cast your bread upon the waters. My commentary says this means to seize life’s opportunities and not play it safe. Then there was the miracle of the loaves and fishes. And, of course, Jesus’ breaking bread at the last supper. And Jesus said “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”