I have just created a new newsletter and added a new page to my blog for your ease in locating the current issue. This first one is just one page in length and thus even with a slow computer you should be able to download this PDF file if you would like to read and share it. This month, I featured one of my blog posts which has been among the most popular and also the newest. It speaks to an economy which has many of us facing challenges which we’ve never experienced in the past. It is a time of awakening and of change. How ironic that we use every possible resource at our disposal . . . all but one. Our relationship with our risen Lord, Jesus Christ! He has given us His Holy Spirit to guide and guard us and He waits for us to turn our troubles over to Him, and yet we focus on our own limited ability and not on His AMAZING love for us! It’s only when all else has failed that we, so often, finally turn to Him. I am preaching to myself here, but I know I’m not alone in this. As humans we are weak, but He has the strength to carry us through IF we let Him! Click on my Newsletter page and download a copy of this first issue for May if you’d like one for yourself or some0ne you love.
Pleasure – I love that word. Just saying it brings a smile to my face. It can’t be helped. Seriously, stand in front of a mirror. Relax your facial muscles completely, then speak the word pleasure or the other form of the word, which is please. Did you notice? Your entire expression changes. A smile forms quite naturally. The smile, however, is just the external manifestation of the feeling within. Where do you seek pleasure? Where do you find it? Are the two answers the same or are they in contrast? Psalm 147 suggests where it is not likely found, telling us “His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior . . . “ and that’s all well and good, but where do I find it? The dictionary defines pleasure as that in which I take my delight. When I get up in the morning, I can’t wait for a cup of coffee. I have friends who look forward to a glass of wine at the end of the day. There’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. The Bible is full of mention of wine and our Lord performed the well known miracle at the wedding changing water into wine, so surely a glass is not wrong. However pleasant these things may be though, they do not provide the lasting pleasure I seek. My delight is not truly found there. Nor are they that in which I can place my trust or seek refuge. Where then?
I looked for the answer to this question in Scripture and the answer started to come to me in the book of Daniel 4:2 “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me.” His words got my attention causing me to thirst for further wisdom on the source for these miraculous signs and wonders. I found my answer in Ephesians 1:8-10 when I read “He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” The answer I was searching for! I know that, for me, the only one in whom I can seek refuge, place my trust, and find true pleasure is in Christ. In giving my heart fully to Him, I found life! He is my Savior, the lover of my soul, and the source of such amazing, underserved and unconditional love and it is only in Him that I can ever find true and lasting pleasure! Amen! Come Lord Jesus!
We, indeed, are one body in Christ. Alone we can do nothing but together we can inspire each other, support each other, and share our talents which collectively and with His grace can bring His light to those in dark places. If you would like to be a part of a group of supportive loving Christians sharing the love of Jesus with your brothers and sisters in Christ and sharing the ups and downs of your life with other believers, I encourage you to come to my new Yahoo Group just set up today. All Christians welcome regardless of denomination. Together we can pool our talents and be His beacon! Check it out at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/christians_inspiring_sharing_together
It is Good Friday. I’ve just come from church and as I write this I’m thinking about things and trying to keep things in perspective, but it’s a dark and rainy day and I’ve just returned from a service in a church that’s been stripped of all the trappings and left bare and plain. I know that Easter is soon to come and that beauty and joy will return SPLENDIDLY, but just now I find I’m focused on death on a rough wooden cross. I am wondering what they did with it after Jesus was placed in the tomb? Did they cast lots for it to recycle its wood as they did for His clothing? It was raw wood and surely stained with His blood . . . “it is finished.”
I’m also thinking of my dear friend and priest as he spoke at church of the death and passion of the Lord he loves so much, and recalling the tears running down his face as he tried to teach us about this God-man who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. I heard my priest cry as he spoke of this event that happened so long ago and yet to those of us who’ve entered into a personal relationship with the Lord know all too well, we are brought back to that event just now and to the knowledge that we are the reason he died . . . “it is finished.”
What do the words “it is finished” bring to mind? Well, as with most happenings, words, phrases, and life changing experiences, the words mean many things. When Jesus spoke those words that made my friend cry . . . that made me cry as well, I’m certain that Jesus’ mother and His dear friends watched and cried. He was gone. His blood dripping from his wounded flesh, running down His dead body, staining the wood of the cross on which He hung, puddle on the ground. “It is finished.”
There have been many times in my life when I made mistakes. Sometimes, I can or could make amends. Sometimes I am so grateful for a do over. Sometimes, I simply cannot. The damage has been done. I have, perhaps, been hurt, others may have been as well. It can’t be fixed. It can’t be made well. It’s too late. It is the way it is. Somehow life goes on anyway, but brokenness cannot be changed because “it is finished.”
On the other hand sometimes I get it right. I have a quilt to make for a friend. I will work hard on it. I love my friend and want to do the best I can on it. When all the fabric pieces have been cut and arranged in an artful pattern, and stitched and decoratively pieced into something new and beautiful, I will smile and hand it over saying “it is finished.” It will bring joy to my friend and to the granddaughter she will give it to – a new baby – a new life. “It is finished.”
A new life! Like my friend’s granddaughter, we too have a new life. We have a new life because God gave us His only son who became flesh and dwelt among us that we might have eternal life with Him. Eternal life. Not someday, not if I’m good enough . . . not “if I can only make it a little bit further I just might get there” as though it’s a destination we can through our own efforts reach. We cannot make it happen and we cannot be good enough, but by believing in Him we have eternal life because of what He did. His thirty-three years on this earth had a purpose and it was accomplished. His purpose was to die for our sin so that we might live with Him in His Kingdom forever. “It is finished” but that’s not an ending, but a new beginning! In the ultimate battle of life and death we have a choice to make . . . life or death. I choose Jesus and therefore I choose life!
What was it like in the garden that day? What was the weather? Was it seasonable? Were there people about Gethsemane? Did they have any idea of what was to come to pass? Were there dark clouds in the sky as though a storm was brewing? Was there an odd stillness in the air? Did they catch their breath in an uneasy sense of “something just doesn’t feel right?” Without radio, television, newspapers, computers and the like, how much was known of what was planned? There was no water cooler down the hallway where “everything important” was shared among those who clustered and whispered there . . . were there children wandering about happily playing? Was it a pretty day with blue skies and sunshine and a gentle breeze? What was in the minds of those who were there?
What was in the minds of Jesus sleepy companions that night? Were they confused? Did they anticipate that “something” was up? When Jesus awakened them and spoke to them “can you not watch and pray with me for an hour” did they have any inkling of something life changing that was to come in just a few short hours? Was it a dreadful night or a beautiful one? Did they sleep well or toss and turn, their souls in an uncertain and undefined distress? Did they think their world was coming to an end? Did they know their friend and Savior was about to die to save them and grant them eternal life with Him? Did they think it was “just another day?”
I had a long chat with a dear friend the other night. I didn’t know it would be my last, but while he’s still alive as I write this he is well on his way on that final journey from this life to the next. I wrote the following words for him, although I am not sure if he got this in time to read them. I hope they will bless his family in this time. My friend has suffered long, but has always been a blessing to others regardless of what he was facing in his own life.
I love you, dear friend. You will be with me always.
someone comes along
And touches you
In a special way
And changes your life
By the love of Christ
In their soul
Reflected in the eyes
As they look at you
And you have
A friend forever
In this world and the next
Because love never ends.
By Martha L Shaw
Wow, this is hard to write. I lost my job yesterday. I’d been looking for a job for a long time and although I have felt led to do certain things using my talent and in ways that I truly believed would bless the Lord, I haven’t yet “found” the way to make that work and so a job finally came along. Not a good “fit” for me . . . not enough salary to live on . . . but I took it and told myself it was God’s will and He’d see that His purposes were fulfilled. I believed that. After 5 weeks in this job, they let me go with vague statements and no cause. It shattered my world and left me wounded and beaten. That was yesterday. This morning, I am bewildered but trying to listen to Him. Thoughts of “but I did a good job, isn’t that enough?” and “but I need . . . how am I going to . . . “ are mixed up with “but you gave me this ability and surely you want me to use it?” I don’t know what “THE” answer is, but I do know some answers.
- A friend who was on his way to a scheduled event with several other people answered the phone when I called to tell him what happened and got off the highway, changed his plans and schedule, and came to my house to pray and listen to me, and take me to dinner.
- Late last night in the quiet of my room, my confused thoughts tore at me and so I . . . prayed? No, I went online and surfed. I found a friend online and started chatting with him. Instant messaging. We were online chatting for a couple hours. His love and friendship blesses me. I slept well after speaking to him. My friend, I should add, is very ill and will likely within days be with the Lord, but you’d never know it. He doesn’t say “why me?” when we speak. He says “how are you?”
So, this morning I’m thinking and also trying not to think as I’ve been accused of “overthinking” sometimes. Ask my friend Rick. He’ll tell you. Maybe. It’s true though. Anyway, as I sat quietly, I realized all that was “wrong” about the job I lost. I also realized that I’d prayed for God’s will to be fulfilled, and for the opportunity to find provision while using the talents He’s blessed me with for His glory. I love Him and trust Him, yet I found myself feeling relieved that “it” was over when I got this small part-time and totally “wrong for me” job and was shocked and shaken when it ended even though the job did not use those talents He’s given me.
Is there a different way to look at this? Yes, I believe so. You know, I’ve taken a lot of road trips. Love to do that. As a rule, along the way there’s the need to get out of the car, stretch, use the restroom, have a snack, buy a postcard or two, and then venture on. Sometimes, those “rest stops” are pleasant, yet we do not stay in that place, nor do we reverse direction and return to the place we left behind. The rest stop serves its purpose and we move on ahead. Yet, I couldn’t see this yesterday as I sat in the parking lot outside the place I’d been recently working. Today, the sun is shining and I can see a bit more clearly. At those rest stops on the road trips, the purpose was clear. God’s purposes in what He calls us to do is not always clear to us, but it is always good. I don’t know what His purpose was in my taking that job I lost, but I know it was of Him and that it had a purpose. I can beat myself up with “why” and “how” and try to find all the reasons and all the shortcomings in those I worked with and in me and rationalize it to bits, but He doesn’t want me to do that. It serves no purpose. His purpose was fulfilled. It’s time for me to move on ahead.
I paused at a rest stop on my journey with the Lord. My ultimate destination is ahead of me. I’m holding His hand and striving to trust Him more as I move on. “I trust in, rely on, and am confident in You, O Lord; I say You are my God. My times are in Your hands.” Psalm 31:14-15