When Did You Last Act Like A Kid?

During a recent rain shower I saw a child playing in a water-filled ditch. As a mom I first checked, and no, there had not been thunder or lightning that day. My second thought was how delighted I was to see her and how she reminded me of myself at that age. Once I found a crawfish in a puddle and brought it home as a pet. It was about 3/4″ long. I put it in the bathroom sink with a little water while I tried to find a container for its home. My sister unstopped the drain, not noticing my pet and all was lost. I was sad and mad. Fast forward to today!

“Maybe what God really wants are grown-up kids who dance in the puddles, who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, who dare to ask why a whole lot. Maybe we are far too proper. Maybe it’s time to take a page from Dainty doodlebug’s story and give in to the way we’re created to live—for our sake and for the gospel. Little else is as compelling and glorious as a giddy child, mud-covered and grinning, because they know how loved and safe they are even while thunder sounds in the distance.”

Embraced by Lysa TerKeurst

Giddy child of God, relax and enjoy creation again! Don’t those boots just remind one of Mike Powell?

“You were made from dust and to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:19

“Dance in the puddles, get your hands dirty, ask why a whole lot more.” Recently I had the opportunity twice in one week to counsel two different women on the fact that we are allowed to get angry with God. He can take it! He would much prefer we be genuine with Him than pretend some sort of proper piety. After all, He reads our hearts and knows our thoughts and our words before they cross our lips.

 You have searched me, LORD, and you know me.  You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.  You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.  Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely.

Psalm 139:104 NIV 2011

Why not make an effort this week to get real with God? And if you have the opportunity, try jumping in a puddle, just for fun!!

Smile at Fears

Can you train your mind to smile at your fears, knowing that God is the One in charge of you? By making Jesus your Lord, you put yourself under His Lordship. That means He oversees you. Lord means one who has power and authority over another. The Bible says 365 times fear not. Yet, we each have fears. It is our choice whether we let that fear reside with us comfortably. We may have to submit our fear to the Christ repeatedly in any one day. He has the power to take the fears and replace them with trust and faith. Nothing can separate us from the power of God, unless we let it.

A recent quote from Gratefulness.org  was from Thich Nhat Hanh. He was a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and was the author of many books, including the best-selling “The Miracle of Mindfulness.” He wrote,

“Every time your fear is invited up, every time you recognize it and smile at it, your fear will lose some of its strength.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

This is a Buddhist teaching, but the Lord Jesus said something similar. The greatest commandment is ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37 (NIV2011)  

If we are willing to turn our heart, soul, mind and attention to the Living Christ, His very presence will sustain us. The song below sums it up nicely.

Give your fears to the Lord for one week and smile at them. See what a difference it makes!

Heraclitus

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, is quoted as saying change is the only constant in life. A native of Ephesus, he was born in 535 BC and died 475 BC. His saying has also been translated that the only constant is change.

Heraclitus, depicted in engraving from 1825, Wikipedia

And then there is: Change is inevitable. Come to expect it.

Recently I heard Joseph Goldman teach “Awareness of change and impermanence leads us to greater ease in our lives.”

I have a very long way to go before I accomplish what Goldman was teaching. Aware, yes. Accepting, much much harder to get there. How are you doing with all the changes in our lives these days? Have you been able to find the latest Covid-19 data in the midst of other news? Outbreaks of the virus barely being reported or commented upon. SO many people here in Ohio running around in public with no masks and no intention of wearing a mask.

There are many things that this country needs to change. I agree with that. Getting humans to embrace change gracefully is another matter all together.

Can we become pliable in the hands of God and embrace changes as they come to us? We often said that my mother-in-law would have been happier if she could have embraced changes instead of fighting against them as they arose. Wondering now if Bob and I will be enabled to embrace what we must as this pandemic rolls on and the years catch up with us.

As my dear Episcopalian brothers and sisters taught me, “I will, with God’s help.” And I knowingly emphasize, “ONLY with God’s help.”

 For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

Hebrews 13:8 MSG

The Anchor

Hebrews 6:18-20 (NIV2011)  God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,  where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

Our hope is an anchor for our soul. The following image is created through filet crochet. This method is very similar to cross stitch embroidery. You create an open or filled box following a charted design.

My hope, an anchor for my soul. Streams in The Desert entry for May 11 reads:

“Psalm 66:12 We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out into a wealthy place.

“Paradoxical though it be, only that man is at rest who attains it through conflict. This peace, born of conflict, is not like the deadly hush preceding the tempest, but the serene and pure-aired quiet that follows it.

“It is not generally the prosperous one, who has never sorrowed,who is strong and at rest. His quality has never been tried, and he knows not how he can stand even a gentle shock. He is not the safest sailor who never saw a tempest; he will do for fair-weather service, but when the storm is rising, place at the important post the man who has fought out a gale, who has tested the ship, who knows her hulk sound, her rigging strong, and her anchor-flukes able to grasp and hold by the ribs of the world.”

Though I had sewn an anchor with filet crochet method, I had no idea the pointed ends were called flukes. Now I need to Lord to help me realize the anchor-flukes of my faith are able to grasp and hold by whatever life may bring me.

Even so, Lord, I trust You to be my salvation.

Psalm 107 from Let Devotional

I would have to call Psalm 107 the LET Mall or perhaps the online shopping haven for Let verses!   Seven lets in just a few verses!  Verses 1-2,8-9,15-16, 21-22, 31-32 say:            

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His love endures forever.  Let the redeemed of the Lord say this – those He redeemed from the hand of the foe.  “

8-9 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and  His wonderful deeds for men, for He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

15-16 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men,for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.

21-22 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men. Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of His works with songs of joy. 

31-32 Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men.  Let them exalt Him in the assembly of the people and praise Him in the council of the elders. “

In the Old Covenant there were many kinds of offerings and sacrifices.  In the  New Covenant Jesus is the perfect offering and the sacrifice for our sins.  There are very few references to any offerings we are to make as Christians.  The offering and sacrifice most often referred to in Matthew through Revelation is  defined in Hebrews 13:15 as a sacrifice of praise.  This one theme runs throughout the Bible: gratitude, thankfulness, praise, all contribute to our well being and are pleasing to God our Father.

Gratitude can change us in an instant.  If we let ourselves give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love, our emotions will follow our thoughts.  Step back from your intense situations and pray to see God’s hand at work.  The Holy Spirit will begin to show you His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds.  In order to see this way we must yield to Him our perspective, letting  Him guide and direct our view.  Sometimes my thank offering is made through tears and is truly an act of my will.  It never ceases to amaze me how my emotions will FOLLOW.  “Tell of His works with songs of joy,” and soon the very atmosphere around you will change.

Do we give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and wonderful deeds? When was the last time you did that? This Psalm says let them sacrifice, let them exalt, redeemed from hand of the foe; God satisfies and fills, God breaks down strongholds, God deserves our praise.

             Forgive me for failing to love You .  God, I want my life to be a veritable bounty of praises to You.  Let  me offer praise to You in every situation, regardless of how I feel.  Show me the value of this sacrifice.  You are a Father of unfailing love and wonderful deeds! I thank You and praise Your holy name.  Amen.

Bob wanted to be certain you understand that I wrote this devotional many years ago. The quotes are from the booklet entitled Let.

Keep Watch

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD), best known by his works which formed the basis of the development of Western Christianity, philosophy, and most importantly, theology. Of late, his most notable prayer that I know is in The Book of Common Prayer, Compline, the last “Divine Office” of the day.

Paul Burkhart writes online: “In the Church tradition of the day, “Compline” is the word used to describe that twilight space at the completion of the day, between evening and morning. Prayers and devotions for Compline are usually meant to be done right before a person goes to sleep.”

St Augustine’s words seem especially apropos in this era of pandemic.

“Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

And Amen.

Ephesians 6:16

In Smoky Mountain National Park there is an “auto tour” called Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail. In one parking lot along that motor trail I spotted this stone. Immediately the Shield of Faith came to mind. I think the rock is a natural formation, but it certainly looks like the finger of God to me!

Last Tuesday night during our Intercessory Prayer group meeting for The Crossing Church where we attend, there was a guest in our group. This child read the Scriptures we were to discuss and pray over the various groups each person was assigned.

Her final verse was Ephesians 6:16 New Living Bible, “In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.”

The lesson was about being childlike with God and having faith. The most precious thing was when she read this final verse she said we were to hold up the shield of faith to stop the feary arrows. Not fiery, but feary.

So today lift your shield of faith to quench, stop, and extinguish all those feary darts the enemy of your soul send your way. We have the power to put out the fires of doubt and fear.

One person in our group quoted from something she had read, “God is not able to work in our unbelief.”

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 (NIV 2011)

Anchor Devotional Sent to Me From Larry

by Ryan Thomas

March 15 Hope: Fearless and Fierce Ruth 1

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Hope is not only faith facing forward. It is also love liberated from fear. Fear is the opposite of hope. Whereas hope is expectation of good, fear only expects evil. Obsessing over some ominous “future” that never actually arrives, fear isolates its victims from the goodness of God, both past and present. Although hope looks to the future, it ultimately depends on the past. Through the finished work of Christ, our sinful pasts are redeemed, and our uncertain futures secured. We are their prisoners no longer.

Fear affects many things, especially our ability to love. “Perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” (1 John 4:18). Love requires us to become vulnerable, exposing us to exploitation or hurt. Hope frees us to love generously because it expects good, not evil. Does this mean trouble will never find us? No. Unchained, though not necessarily untroubled, hope stares fiercely into the night, knowing even the smallest ray of hope can pierce the deep darkness of fear and despair.

“There is no opponent we face – whether personal. financial, spiritual or biological – that can keep us from entering into the joy which Christ earned for us.”

Charles K. Telfer, 2014

Remember, this was sent to me by a prison pen pal. We are certain there is Covid-19 in the prisons. God only knows what the death toll will be there. Lots of common areas and shared spaces. God be with them as their “hope faces forward and stares fiercely into the night, knowing even the smallest ray of hope can pierce the deep darkness of fear and despair.” Please include prisons in your prayers.

The Haven of Rest Today

Grandma Snapp used to listen to the radio broadcast that began in 1934 called “The Haven of Rest.” When she occasionally lived with us in the mid- 1960s I remember listening to it on the radio. Many years later I rediscovered the program after my elementary age school kids were off to school. I ordered many record albums and CDs of the Haven Quartet singing hymns and spiritual songs. Then I lapsed in listening for a couple dozen years. I began listening again last year when I heard a clip of the program. They were doing to fund raiser with Scripture Lullabies recordings offered at a special price. They are still on the air under the title “Haven Today.”

Always seeking ways to change up my connection to the Lord, I began subscribing to their monthly devotional, as I had years before. I was so impressed with the writing that I also sought a subscription for my prison pen pal. Eventually we got that monthly mailing to him. The devotional is called Anchor. The link is just below.

https://haventoday.org/anchor/

As with most devotionals, I am certain the writing is done, accepted and published months before it is sent out. The March 2020 issue is entitled Firm Faith, Real Hope, Lasting Love, written by Ryan Thomas. I tore out the page dated March 17 to post on this blog. That page is entitled How To Wait Well. Before I got it posted the mailman brought a letter from the prison. Larry and I have begun using corrections department email for most of our correspondence. So it was unusual to get a letter from him. He had xeroxed Page 15 to mail to me! Hope: Fearless and Fierce. I no longer had that page in the booklet as my husband, Bob, had torn it out to share with someone after we read it together.

Larry wrote his note on 3/17: “Hello Molly, I hope that you are doing well. I am good. I just wanted to share this daily devotional that really encouraged me. I hope it encourages you, too. I don’t know why the world has embraced fear. It upsets me. Thanks for your friendship. Keep hoping, Larry”

So 1934 to the 1960s to 1980s to 2019 to today. Quite a history for Haven of Rest and me. I will post the page I chose below. Perhaps the page Larry chose tomorrow!

How to Wait Well Acts 1:7-14; Mark 15:24-32 and 1 Corinthians 15:58

“Therefore, my dear brothers {and sisters}, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the word of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

Hope waits, above all, for Christ. That does not mean it is idle. Hope incites action. “Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness” (2 Corinthians 3:12. NRSV). Waiting is not hibernating. But if hope is not idle, neither is it anxious or hysterical. Anxiety says to God, “You sure are slow to act.” Hysteria says, “So I will act for you!” Hope, in contrast, says “I know you are not slow to fulfill your promise. Whatever delay I perceive is for my good and for your glory” (see 2 Peter 3:9). When our hope is in Christ, the God of hope gives us peace through the power of His Holy Spirit (see Romans 15:13). Only when Jesus Himself is our hope does it become a blessed wait and not a cursed burden.

So how do we wait well? Well, by waiting! Consider: Christ waited 30 years to formally begin His ministry, and three more to complete it. “But what is more efficacious than Christ when He died? He was most practical when He seemed to do nothing. In patience He reigned and triumphed” (Richard Sibbes, 1637).

With us or apart from us, in us or in spite of us – God will accomplish His purpose, according to His promise, in His time.

Charles Martin, the President/ Speaker for Haven of Rest says of Ryan Thomas, “Ryan has a way of making these truths apply to all of us in our lives today. I think you’ll find his insights and analogies to be helpful as you consider the faith, hope, and love of the Savior.”

I believe the Holy Spirit helped Mr. Thomas write this issue to give us encouragement during this dark month in world history. As the Corona virus pandemic unfolds may the Lord Jesus Christ find us waiting well and choosing hope over fear, faith over panic. He HAS promised

I am with you always

Matthew 28:20

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5b

Charles Martin to Sadhu Sundar Singh

Have you read books by Charles Martin? I do not remember how I stumbled upon them. They are the kind of books that keep you up late reading because you cannot bear to put it down! One librarian told me “You know it is a great book if you find yourself wondering what the characters are doing when you are going about your day!”

So here is another quote that stopped me in my reading. Charles Martin wrote this in Thunder and Rain.

“What’s that?”

I said, “My journal.”

“What do you do in it?”

“Write letters.”

“To who?”

“God.”

He chewed on his lip, looked down, then up at me. “You know him?”

I nodded. “A little.”  

Wowsers. When was the last time you wrote a letter to God? That is basically what my journal is made up of. Yes, there are quotes and occasional ticket stubs, but mostly things I want to discuss with God. I have spent the last couple years moving from pencil or pen and paper to keyboard. At my age, my handwriting has gotten so bad that keyboard is easier to read, too! Then I print out the writing and paste it in a journal.

So do you write letters? Keep a journal?
Have you told God what you think of this corona thing? If your feelings are negative He can handle that. He would much rather hear from you angry and upset than not hear from you at all!

I just finished Wrapped in Rain by Charles Martin. Faith is woven into all of his work. I am so grateful to this guy for providing such sound entertainment.

Dear Father, This stuff is really hard. I go from surreal daydreaming to shock to oh well. Watching that side banner on the TV reporting # of cases and # of deaths is stunning. We do not yet know personally anyone who has gotten this virus. When we hear of that diagnosis I am certain the stun will turn into something else. It is almost as if Bob’s near death experience with the flu in 2018 was just a practice run. I believe there is nothing here that surprises You. I know You are not perplexed. Show me/us how to receive Your comfort and assurance as this pandemic spreads to Ohio, Clermont County, Batavia Township. I believe there is nothing too difficult for You. Open our ears to hear Your voice. Soften our hearts to know Your Word is true. Trust: the cross, us, the cross. Amen.

And then these lyrics came to mind: “The cross before me, the world behind me.” So I looked up the lyrics online at Wikipedia. Seemingly the hymn lyrics were written by a Sadhu Sundar Singh! Did you know that? 1889-1929 He was raised in India within a Sikh family and “attended a primary school run by the American Presbyterian Mission where the New Testament was read daily as a ‘textbook.’ Sundar ‘refused to read the Bible at the daily lessons…To some extent the teaching of the Gospel on the love of God attracted me, but I still thought it was false.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus gives a more complete story of his conversion and work throughout India. He had a conversion experience in 1903. He took the garb of a wandering holy man, a “Sadhu” convinced he could reach more people with the Gospel dressing clothing acceptable to the people. He died at age 40. His hymn was used widely in Billy Graham crusades. The focus is upon our commitment to Him.

This video does not follow his exact lyrics. They enlarge the lyrics to a time of commitment, for “such a time as this.”

I love the Hebrews 12 passage read at the end of this song!