GONE FISHIN’

When I lived in Belgium, it was almost impossible to get anything done during the months of July and August.  Almost every smaller business – electricians, plumbers, neighborhood grocers, etc – were closed up tighter than a drum.  The Europeans prize their month long vacation and take advantage of every moment.  The Belgians go to the south of France and the French go to Spain—anywhere to catch some rays.  The lights are off and the sign is on the door.  “GONE FISHIN’”!  Actually, the sign just says “FERME – CLOSED,” but it means the same thing.   “Don’t call.  Don’t knock.  Don’t ask.  I will not answer.  I am not available.”
fishing-909554_1920Do you ever feel like God has “GONE FISHIN’?” 

For many months I have been talking to God about a desperate need in my family.  I have prayed, I have cried, I have begged, I have bargained, I have even told God how to do it, but the heavens are silent without a whisper of encouragement.  Has He heard?  Does He care?

I am reminded of the story of Elijah and a bunch of false prophets.  Elijah was concerned because Israel had forsaken God and turned to the worship of Baal.  So he challenged these prophets to a contest.  Elijah would offer a sacrifice to his God, and the prophets of Baal would offer a sacrifice to their god.  The god that answered by fire would be the one true god to be worshiped.  The prophets of Baal went first.  They prepared their sacrifice, and they prayed, man did they pray, from morning till noon, but there was no answer.  Elijah mocked them saying, “Cry louder. Maybe he is meditating, or he is busy.  Perhaps he is on vacation, or he is asleep, or he’s GONE FISHIN’.” Still, no matter what they did, even to the bloody cutting of themselves, there was no reply.

fish-1755473_1280Now, I can understand that.  The god they prayed to was no god at all.  He was the figment of someone’s imagination.  And those so called prophets were greatly deceived, but what about that person who really loves our God and lives to please Him.  What about you and me?  What about our needs?  Why hasn’t my God, who can surely do anything, answered my prayer?  Doesn’t He care anymore?  Has He “GONE FISHIN’?”

In contrast to those false prophets, the Prophet Daniel was a man of impeccable character.  Daniel’s whole life was spent in faithful service to God.  God revealed to Daniel some things that were going to happen, in the future, to his people, Israel.  This revelation made Daniel very sad, so he prayed.

Daniel 10:2, “In those days, I Daniel, was mourning three full weeks.  I ate no pleasant food, no meat or wine came into my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled.

If I understand correctly, Daniel prayed without ceasing for those three weeks.  He fasted and prayed earnestly even neglecting his own personal needs.  Why didn’t God answer him right away?

We sometimes think God doesn’t answer us, because of something we have or have not done.  That may or may not be true.  However, this was not the case with Daniel.  He was one of the very few in the Bible against whom not one charge was ever levied.  He was a Godly man, but he had to wait for his answer.

So, why doesn’t God answer immediately?

In Luke 11:9, Jesus says, “…ask and it will be given to you…”

            John 14:14:  “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”

 boy-909552_1920Matthew 21:22:  “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”

That’s pretty clear.  Isn’t it?

I’ve thought a lot about this, and I believe I know some of the reasons we don’t get our answers immediately.

  1. God wants relationship with me. Every moment I spend in God’s presence I am learning to know Him better.  If, when I run into His presence crying “give me, give me, give me, He answers immediately, then I don’t have to come back until I need something else.
  2. What I want is not always what I need. God knows that better than I do, so He, sometimes, says “NO!  That’s an answer.
  3. God’s timing is perfect. No matter how long we wait for the answer GOD IS NEVER TOO LATE.  When Jairus asked Jesus to come heal his daughter, Jesus went with him.  On the way, a servant met them with the news, “…your daughter is dead.  Jesus doesn’t need to come.”  Jesus answered, “Don’t be afraid; only believe,” and THE DAUGHTER WAS HEALED.  God always answers on time.
  4. Some of God’s promises come with contingencies. Psalm 37:4:  “Delight…in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  TRY SOME DELIGHTING!
  5. In Daniel’s case, Gabriel told him that, from the first day he prayed, God heard every word, and sent Gabriel with the answer. But Gabriel was delayed, for twenty – one days, by evil forces. (Daniel 10:12 – 13.)   We have an enemy, who does not want God’s goodness for us.  Consequently, he sometimes interferes delaying the answer.

Has God “GONE FISHIN’?”  Not on your life!

Our Great God, who created all that now exists, is not stymied by your need.  His promises are true, and HIS ANSWER IS ON THE WAY!

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

EVEN THE LITTLE THINGS

I lost my Driver’s License.  Actually, I didn’t lose it.  I knew where it was.  I had driven up to the bank drive through window to cash a check.  Knowing that I would need my ID, I took the license from my wallet and immediately dropped it between my seat and the consol.  I tried desperately to retrieve it, but I couldn’t even see it, and there was no way to get my fat little fist into the narrow opening.  So I drove around to the front of the bank and went inside.

Since I knew the manager, I was sure there would be no problem.  I assumed a sad little face and explained my predicament to the Teller producing every scrap of identification that I had.  I was told that none would suffice, and the manager was not there.  The Teller was “very sorry,” but she could not cash my check.  To put it mildly, I was annoyed and a bit concerned about driving without a license.  I was afraid a patrolman wouldn’t accept “The dog ate my homework” excuse.

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On Sunday, a friend of mine was able to retrieve the license and return it to me.  Saturday morning I returned to the bank drive through.  With license and check in hand, I was prepared for business only to be told that the window was closed.  I gave up!

Laying the check and license in the passenger’s seat along with a stack of envelopes ready for mailing, I chased down the mailman, grabbed the stack of envelopes, jumped out of the car and left them with him.   When I arrived at the grocery store, I reached over for my license intending to put it back in my wallet, only to find that it was gone.  I looked everywhere.  I knew what had happened.  In my haste, I had picked it up with the letters and left it with the mailman.

“O, God, please help me,” I cried.  “I’ve had enough!”

This was such a trivial thing compared to Cancer, the Mid-East Crisis, and Terror Attacks, and yet it was sort of the last straw in a difficult week.

I am reminded of the Arabian anecdote told of a camel whose owner loaded the beast of burden with as much straw as possible.  Not satisfied with the staggering load he had put on the camel, the owner added just one last piece of straw and the camel collapsed.

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It’s those little things, seemingly insignificant things that accumulate.  The baby has a runny nose, the dog tracked mud into the house, the washing machine is making a funny noise, the telephone is ringing, you’re out of milk and the car won’t start.  The pile grows higher and higher.

It is the cumulative effect of small actions that sometimes brings us to the brink of despair.  Sadly, we hesitate to bring these small, insignificant matters to our Father.  After all, people are dying.  The economy is struggling.  Our country is in the middle of a nasty election year.  God has more than enough to take care of.

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Hear what Paul has to say in I Corinthians 10:13. (The Message)  “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

In Psalm 103:14, (The Message) David said, “He knows us inside and out, keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.”

God knows exactly who you are and just how much you can bear.  He will not allow that last straw to be piled upon you.

Matthew 10:29 – 31 tells us “Not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

            Now, here’s the rest of the story!  Returning to the car after grocery shopping, I opened the door and there, stuck in the mechanism that controls the trunk and the gasoline tank, was my errant Driver’s License.  I had picked it up with the mail and dropped it, in the car, before giving the letters to the postman.

Such a little thing!  Such a wonderful little thing!  I shouted for joy thanking God for His goodness.  Can you believe that a Driver’s license has kept me singing all week?  Of course, it’s not the license.  Rather, it is the graphic reminder that God really does care about even the little things.

He cares to the LAST DETAIL.  I Love it!!!

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!

 

 

 

           

 

That’s my Girl!

 

When my Cecil was diagnosed with an inoperable Aortic Aneurysm, we knew, without Divine intervention, his aorta would rupture and he would die.  There were no treatments, no cure—the doctors’ hands were tied.

After a few days in the hospital, where they lowered and stabilized his blood pressure, we came home and played the waiting game.  Our days were quiet, our activities low key.  We lived as normally as possible.  Cecil had calmly accepted his fate, but I refused to believe it.  Surely God would do something.

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One morning, after arising, Cecil slipped back into bed with me.  He drew me close and said, “We have to talk.”

Immediately tears began to flow.  I didn’t want this conversation.  It made everything too real.  But as hurtful as it was, I knew it had to be.

Finally, I said, “Look, Cecil, if you die, I’m not going to rant and rail against God.  I’m just going to believe that this is God’s time to take you home.”  Brave words from the comfort of his arms!

He looked at me with such tenderness and said, “THAT’S MY GIRL!”

In the weeks and months following his death, I heard his voice again and again.  “THAT’S MY GIRL!  THAT’S MY GIRL!”  Those words were his seal of approval.

As I struggled with the sorrow of his death, the pain of my aloneness, I couldn’t help but wonder what Cecil was doing.  I knew he was in the presence of the Lord.  Was he relaxing on the banks of the River of Life dangling his toes in the crystal clear water chatting with a fellow Pilgrim?  Did he have any idea of what I was suffering?  Did he care?  He told me I would be all right.  But I wasn’t all right.  Did he know?  I wanted him to know I was hurting.

In my search for comfort, I was reminded of the words of Saint Paul.  In Hebrews 12:1, Paul speaks of a great cloud of unseen spectators hovering over and surrounding us; spectators who have already run the race and reached the goal.

Though I am sure that Paul is referring, first, to those great men and women heralded in chapter 11, who were martyred for their unswerving faith, perhaps, he also includes others who, through the centuries, have run the race, finished the course and arrived safely home.

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If that be the case, it is all right for me to believe that my Cecil is one among that great cloud of witnesses cheering us on and that he is aware of my life now without him.  He sees my tears and my pain, but he no longer weeps for me.  He sees beyond my struggles and stumbling, into the recesses of my heart.  He is aware of my deep longing to please God and be of benefit to God’s kingdom.

Every time I successfully take another step toward that goal, I can hear Cecil, with warm, loving approval saying, “THAT’S MY GIRL!  THAT’S MY GIRL!”  I know that’s not as desirable as, “Well done good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of the Lord.”  But for me it runs a close second.

Approval or esteem is one of our basic human needs.  Approval simply means:  To hold or express a favorable opinion of something or someone.

It is amazing how much we long for that broad smile and that pat on the shoulder, to hear those words, “That was great!” “You did well.”  “You’re something else!”

We sometimes go to great lengths saying things we do not mean, doing things we do not like in order to garner a bit of approval, a word of praise.

Significance, recognition, validation, prestige, attention, being wanted, being special to someone.  These are things we all struggle with at times.  However, when we find significance within ourselves, we don’t need so much approval from others.

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A genuine relationship with God is the only one way to find true significance within.  When things are right between me and God, I enjoy His approbation – His big smile of approval.

Romans 14:17 – 18 tells us, “The kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.  For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.”

The Message says it this way.  “God’s kingdom is…what God does in your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. YOUR task is to SINGLE MINDEDLY SERVE CHRIST.  Do that and you’ll kill two birds with one stone; PLEASING THE GOD ABOVE you and PROVING YOUR WORTH TO THE PEOPLE around you.”

Are you longing for approval?  God is your source.  Serve Him SINGLE MINDEDLY.

 

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

IF JESUS GOES WITH ME…

I’m really a pretty resilient person.  I have been able to compartmentalize my life so that, normally, distressing situations do not take me prisoner, rendering me incapable of functioning.  I am aware that this balance stems totally from my relationship with God.

However, the past weeks have been so difficult, the problem so seemingly impossible that the shine on my calm demeanor has dulled and my smile is sometimes fleeting.

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Saturday afternoon, I felt so sad and tired and helpless. My mind was tangled with all the things that didn’t work and none that did.  I couldn’t see anything good coming from all of this.  But, I couldn’t sit and mope, so I crawled off the sofa and went to the piano.

Now, you already know, from past blogs, that, though I can read the music, I do not really play the piano.  I “plunk” the piano.  Opening the piano bench, I found an old, thin, paperback songbook – “Evangel Songs.” The pages are yellow and brittle and stained.  My father’s name, W.H. Clark, is scrawled in large penciled letters, in the top margin of page 1.  That made me smile. The Book was published in 1931 and cost $ 0.20.

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I leafed carefully through the book until I found the song on page 8 – “If Jesus Goes With Me.”  As I began to sing and play, I was immediately transported back to the beginning days of my ministry, when as a young woman having left an assured teaching position I was now trying to find my way into what I was sure was God’s call upon my life.

In my time of need and uncertainty, God sent me a mentor.  This roly-poly evangelist and his wife radiated the beauty of Jesus, and I fell in love with them.  Whenever I was in the area, I showed up at their front door.  They always welcomed me.  Rev. Wood and I sat together for hours talking about God and the ministry.  He shared personal experiences of his own struggles and successes.

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One day Claude Wood took my hands in his, and looking me in the eyes, began to sing.

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

‘Tis heaven to me, wherever I be, if He is there!

I count it a privilege here His cross to bear;

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide;

It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace, abide;

But this one thing I know—if it be dark or fair,

If Jesus is with me, I’ll go anywhere!

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As my friend sang those old words, the presence of God settled around us and His peace filled my heart.  I knew in that moment, as I have known all these years since, that regardless of what the future holds, Jesus will be there.

Sitting at the piano on Saturday afternoon, I felt as though I was, once again, that uncertain young woman looking for an answer.  Then that same divine assurance came flooding into my dark valley, and I knew that God, in His own time, would solve this unsolvable situation.

This truth is not new to me, but being human, I am sometimes overwhelmed by situations and circumstances.  And I am still human enough to want to solve the problems on my own.  I have GOOD IDEAS!  They don’t work, but they are good.  I fuss and fume and try to reason with unreasonable people.  I lose sleep and limp through the days.  I tell God how I want this thing accomplished, and when it must be done.

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The reality is, sometimes I cannot help myself.  I can’t solve the problem.

The Psalmist says in 124:8, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

Think about it!  That One, who made earth with His outstretched arm, extends his strong hand to you and me.  His reach is long.  It stretches to wherever you are today, both physically and spiritually.

Hebrews 13:6 say, “…The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” So, my job is to trust Him.

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Proverbs 3:5 – 6.  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him…”

Micah 7:7 sets us an example.  “…I will look to the Lord.  I will wait for the God of my salvation.  My God will hear me.”

I will no longer look to my own abilities or resources.  I will look to “…Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all…” Ephesians 3:20.

Remember, no matter how deep and dark the valley, Jesus is there.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

JUST PASSIN’ THROUGH

In 1987, I returned from my missionary assignment in Europe and accepted a position as staff pastor at a church in Northern California.

Finding a place to live was first on my “to do” list.  I remember driving up and down the streets near the church drooling over the beautiful old, custom built homes.  My intense longing for one of those houses was almost like a physical hurt.  After all those years, I just wanted to live like “real people.”  My obsession with the idea of a home of my own made it almost impossible to settle for an apartment – another rental.  I did, of course, and I lived in that apartment for eighteen happy years.

However, God does consider our desires.  Our hopes and dreams are important to our Father, as long as they do not eclipse or negate our love for Him.

On August 25, 2009, twenty-two years after I cried over those beautiful homes, I finally signed the papers for a sweet little townhouse – my first home – all my own.  It was brand new.  I could do anything I wanted.  It was my house, the bank’s and mine.  I painted the walls milk chocolate brown and pinkish beige, and red and dark teal.  I tore out the new carpet and laid hardwood.  There were granite counters and a two car garage.  I had died and gone to heaven.

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BUT, (I know I’m not supposed to start a paragraph with that word.  However, nothing else works here.)  BUT, I realize that this house is a temporal treasure, and, now after only seven years there are cracks in the walls.  There are cracks, because the builder built on an unsure foundation.

 

One day my dearly loved house will fall down or be demolished by some force.  Or I will become REALLY old and be required to live elsewhere.

We used to sing:

This world is not my home.  I’m just passing through.

My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue.

The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door.

And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

 

That’s what I must remember.  THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME!  I am a temporary resident just passing through.  Jesus has gone away to prepare a place for me, where, one day, I will live eternally.  In the meantime, I am a transient.

An acquaintance of mine, one of our dearly loved missionaries, was suddenly killed in an automobile accident on his way home from church.  When his son went to make funeral arrangements, the funeral director showed him all the ornate, costly coffins, but, one by one, the son refused them all saying, “No! No!  That’s not for my father.”

Finally, the director said, “All I have left are these simple pinewood boxes.  We keep them here for transients.”

The son replied quickly, “That’s the one!  That’s what my dad would want.  He was a transient in this world on his way to a much better place.”

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I fear sometimes that we, as believers, have become too comfortable in this world.  We have become “earth dwellers” contented with our possessions and positions.  Heaven is a far off fairytale, which may or may not happen someday, so we aren’t any too excited about going there.

My heart prompts me to say, “If you love Jesus, you ought to feel like a square peg in a round hole, a bit uncomfortable in this world.

Much of the problem stems from the fact that our treasures, those things we value are, for the most part, earthly treasures.

Matthew 6:19 – 21 cautions us, “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse—stolen by burglars.  Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it is safe…the place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be…” (“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”)

I have some earthly treasures, beautiful little things I have picked up in my travels to far off places.  I love looking at these things, holding and caressing them, remembering those happy times.

Knowing that I am a transient on this earth reminds me that I must hold my treasures lightly, for they in no way compare to the inheritance which awaits me in my home over there.  Do you know you are included in Christ’s last will and testament?

According to 1 Peter 1:3 – 4, Christ has given us, “An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven…”

Nothing can ruin this inheritance.  It cannot be stained or cheapened in any way.  It will never grow old or wear out.  Nor, will it ever disappoint.   It waits for me there.

In the meantime, THIS TRANSIENT will enjoy the sunrise either here or there.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

 

 

                         

GOOD FOR THE BODY, GOOD FOR THE SOUL

Years ago, when I first began seriously considering my weight problem, I realized that losing weight demanded more than a reduction in calories.  It also demanded an increase in activity.  So I decided to walk.

I got in my car and made an oval circuit around my neighborhood discovering that I had driven ¾ of a mile.  I could surely walk that far.  Couldn’t I?

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The next morning I arose at 6:30, laced up my walking shoes and walked out the gate.  I lived in a pretty area – big trees, green lawns, and bright flowers, but I couldn’t concentrate on those things.  All my thoughts and energy were devoted to simply taking the next step.  I had not known how difficult it would be to drag that excess weight ¾ of a mile.  By the time I reached home, I was drenched with sweat and wearier than I like to admit.

A friend said to me, “O, you’ll enjoy it more if you walk with someone if you have someone to talk to.”

“TALK,” I exclaimed.  “Forget talking.  I’m just trying to breathe!”

Do people who say, “Exercise helps me relax,” know about not exercising?

Walking became a serious business for me.  At the outset, I didn’t do it because it was fun.  I didn’t do it because I liked it.  In fact, I can’t honestly say that I ever genuinely enjoyed it.  I did it because I needed to, because it was good for me, because I benefited physically.  People sometimes came out on the sidewalk to tell me how much they admired what I was doing, and how great I looked.  I tried walking in the mall, but that didn’t work for me.  The window displays were too distracting.  So, back to my neighborhood where I kept walking until I was covering 2 miles each morning, and the scale readout proved the fruit of my effort.

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Just as physical exercise is beneficial to my body, so, also, is spiritual exercise beneficial to my soul.

Psalm 119:1 – 3.  “You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.  You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find Him.  That’s right – you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road He set.”

Walking steadily…straight… on the road,” that’s important.

My daddy was a farmer.  Even up into his eighties, he loved to walk through the fields inspecting the crops judging whether or not this farmer knew what he was doing.  I can see him now walking slowly with the help of a cane, the breeze ruffling his sparse white hair.  He didn’t run.  He didn’t jog.  He just picked up his foot and put it down moving forward with each step, making slow, but steady progress toward his destination.

There are a lot of spiritual sprinters in the family of God.  A sprinter is one who runs at top speed for a short distance.  But he is not much good over the long haul.  You’ve seen spiritual sprinters—so enthusiastic at the starting line, but when the road seems long—when the way becomes hard, their energy peters out and they’re finished.

In Hebrews 12:1, the Apostle Paul tells us that there is a race to be won.  His advice to us is, “…Strip down, start running—and never quit…Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in.”

There were mornings I didn’t want to walk.  I wanted to groan, turn over and go back to sleep, but I walked regardless knowing that I would never reach my goal otherwise.

You say, “I don’t feel like reading the Word and praying and being obedient, and all that other stuff.”  I know that feeling.

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However, the Apostle Paul says, in I Corinthians 9:26 – 27.  “…I am running hard for the finish line…I discipline my body and bring it into subjection…” Paul is saying, “Do it whether you feel like it or not.  Just keep running until you cross the finish line.” The FINISH LINE is our goal!

Finally, Paul tells us in II Timothy 4:7 – 8.  “Hoorah, hoorah, I’ve finished the race.  The Crown is mine!”  (Paraphrased)

One more thing!  Beware of the detours.

Driving north on California 101 in the winter time, it is not unusual to encounter detour signs.  That arrow leads you off the main highway, down a curving two-lane road, through the big trees and tiny villages.  The detour may take fifteen minutes or two hours, but eventually and always, it leads you back to the main thoroughfare.  Not so in our spiritual walk!  Our enemy often places detours in our path with no intention of ever pointing us back to the right way.  So keep your eyes on Jesus.  He marks the path and leads the way.

In Psalm 119:10, the writer cried, “…don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted”

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

WALK IN HIS SUNLIGHT!

 

YOU COULD BE SWINGING ON A STAR

“Would you like to swing on a star

Carry moonbeams home in a jar

And be better off than you are

Or would you rather be a…”

Swinging on a Star” was an academy award winning song, in 1944, when WW II was in full swing.  Burke and Van Heusen, song writers for Bing Crosby’s forthcoming movie, “Going My Way,” were told to write a song that amounted to the Ten Commandments with a rhythm section.  The producers wanted to positively influence the viewing audience to a better way of living.  That’s pretty amazing!  Don’t you think?

The premise of the song is that we can be satisfied with who we are never aspiring to be better or to do more.  The cute and entertaining lyrics give us a choice.  We can choose to be like the stubborn, stupid mule; the fat, lazy and extremely rude pig; or the slippery, aimless fish.  Or we can shoot for the stars and become more than we ever dreamed.

Most of us have had and still have dreams, many of them not yet realized.  And, sadly enough, for one reason or another, some of our dreams will never come true.

We dream of establishing families and homes and careers.  We dream of wealth and conquest.  We dream of scaling mountains and sailing the seas of writing books and composing songs.

As a young girl, I dreamed of handsome suitors, and bouffant wedding gowns, of sweet, plump, cooing babies, and a preacher husband with whom I would captivate the multitudes.  I dreamed, also, of becoming a famous writer with a vast following.

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In fact, I spent the first half of my life just yearning to be noticed; to feel important.  I wanted to be included, to be one of the “in” crowd—the popular bunch.  I was raised by Godly parents, who did not allow me to participate in many things my peers enjoyed.

 

Consequently, I sometimes felt that I was on the outside looking in, never part of what was really happening.

Looking back, now, I realize that many of my young dreams, dreams that are common to most little girls, never came true.  A bit of sadness comes with that realization.  Yet, those unfulfilled dreams were replaced with bigger, better almost unimaginable goals.  When you can’t have what you think you want, you don’t give up and do nothing.  You fasten your hopes on something else.  I was taught to be strong and determined, enterprising and energetic.  My Mom was not the “giving up” type, nor was I.

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When that groom and bouffant wedding gown didn’t materialize, I knew I couldn’t sit down and quit, so I concentrated on my education and got on with my life.  I fastened my heart and mind on a new dream—a new hope.

 

Psalm 39:7 says, “And now, Lord, what do I wait for?  My hope is in you.”

When Christ truly became the center of my life, my hopes and dreams changed.  Being noticed, being important, being in the limelight didn’t matter so much anymore.  I hitched my wagon to the stars and sang the old song, “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. I’ll be what you want me to be.” And that’s exactly what I did!

I must tell you that I have been swinging on a star for close to fifty years.  I have never aspired to be an astronaut exploring the far reaches of space, but God has blessed me “…with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Eph. 1:3.

I have never been invited to the White House or Buckingham Palace, but every day I worship at the throne of Almighty God, and I speak daily with The King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I will not be satisfied with the status quo, because, even at the age of eighty with diminished physical strength and glaring family needs, I believe God yet has bigger and better things for me.  I’m excited!!!

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Here is the message.  YOU HAVE A CHOICE!  Like the stupid, stubborn mule, you can spend your time kicking and braying at the inequality of life.

 

 

You can, like the rude pig, snort around in the slop of this world searching in vain for some satisfying morsel, or like the slippery fish, you can go with the flow aimlessly swimming to and fro eventually snagged by  some fisher’s hook.  Don’t you know?   God has something better for you.

“You can be better than you are.

You could be swinging on a star.”

Eph. 1:3.  “How blessed is God! And what a blessing He is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in Him.”

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

Today’s images are by Marcia Furman a whimsical and fragrant artist check her links out here!  

           

Shall We Chat…

Blogging was almost a spur of the moment decision on my part. I had been to a writers’ conference and discovered that I need a broad audience in order to publish a book, and I do want to publish.
Jami Amerine, a sweet new friend, volunteered to help me, so I said, “Why not? I can do it, than anyone else can. So, at the age of eighty, I discovered that I adore blogging. Book or no book, I must admit that I am hooked. This is most surprising to me, for I sort of disdained those who sit at the computer all day wasting time on Facebook and twitter and chat rooms. I surely had more important things to do.

shall we chat (2)However, the truth is, I love, love, love sharing with you. But, I want to do more than just run off at the mouth. I want what I say to be worth the time you invest in reading. I want what I write to somehow contribute or make a difference in your life.
I’m trying to understand why I enjoy this so much. I am compelled to laugh at myself, because I don’t really like talking on the phone. Perhaps that’s because, I’m often required to listen more than talk, and I must admit that I am a better talker.
Sometimes ideas are illusive, and I think, “One day I’ll surely run out.” Amazingly, ideas—entertaining, heart expanding, worthwhile ideas—pop up, in the middle of the night, during the Pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning, or from a joke in Reader’s Digest.

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For the most part, subjects come from my history with friends and family and the brief time I had with sweet Cecil. What a pleasure it is to delve into the past and retrieve a golden nugget that is both entertaining and instructive.
Blogging blesses me. I have been aware for awhile that, considering everything, I have had an incredible life. Digging into the past has brought a heightened appreciation of all that I have enjoyed and all I have endured, both the good and the bad. It’s all part of God’s design making me who I am today.
I will tell you boldly that God plays the major role in every blog. Sometimes I sit down to work with only a vague idea, like a tight little bud, in mind. As I struggle, the idea begins to blossom unfurling like a flower. Then, as the Spirit of God speaks into my heart, the application reveals itself filling the whole narrative with a sweet fragrance.
When I finish each blog, I read it again and again, changing something here, something there, making sure punctuation and spelling is accurate, until I am completely in love with and proud of what I have written.
I must admit that it is not always perfect when it appears on your screen. I don’t know what happens, but sometimes punctuation and even parts of sentences go missing.
In my very first blog manuscript, I used the word lodestar. I looked it up to make sure it was correct. To my chagrin, when it was posted, “lodestar” magically appeared as load star. A long time, extremely intelligent, friend, e-mailed me with his detailed correction. I appreciated his help, but I was embarrassed and still feel the sting of that error.

shall we chatSince I am determined that what I share with you is quality, I have decided, from now on, to post only once a week, on Wednesday. Some of you have already figured that out. As a matter of fact, I do have other responsibilities. I am preparing to teach the Book of Daniel on Sunday mornings starting in September. Considering my lack of knowledge in this area of study, my preparation will be long and hard. And besides, I am going to be a complete arthritic cripple, if I sit in front of this computer every day. My recumbent bike has been neglected far too long.
I Corinthians 10:31 says, “…whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
The desire of my heart is to bless you and glorify God in everything I do, that includes blogging.
With David, I pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord my strength and my Redeemer.” Psalm 19:14.
BLESS YOU!
Oh, by the way, I have lost five (5) pounds – a pound or so each week. You don’t think that’s much? Believe me, it’s much!
Again, if you enjoy my blog, spread the word around. I need to enlarge my audience.

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW!!!

Practice Makes Perfect

 

My mother was extremely resourceful.  Though we were poor, there was always good plain food on the table, and because of Mama’s skill and dexterous fingers, we were adequately clothed.  We never lacked for the essentials and once in a while, there was even something special.

At some point, my mother decided she wanted her two little girls to learn to play the piano.  We had no piano, and until that moment, we had no thought of playing the piano we did not have.  However, one day a piano appeared.  There it was, a great, clunky, upright piano, setting against the living room wall.  I don’t know where it came from, and I certainly don’t know how Mama paid for it.

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Now that we had a piano, my clever mother had to find a teacher, and she did.  She found Mrs. Simpson, who lived across town on Sirrine Street.  There was no money for lessons, so mama made a deal with Mrs. Simpson.  You should have known my Mama.  She knew how to make a deal.

If Mrs. Simpson would produce two piano virtuosos, Mama would clean, iron, or sew for her in return.  The deal was struck!

On Saturday morning, June and I walked across town, where Mrs. Simpson waited with her piano.   I liked her.  I liked her pretty little house, and I even liked the lessons, but I liked her treats the most.  After every lesson, Mrs. Simpson made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  She put them under the broiler until the bread was brown and toasty and the filling was bubbly.   When you bit into this delectable treat, the bread was crunchy and the peanut butter and jelly were hot and ooey gooey.  Heaven on earth!

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Then came Monday!  Time to practice!  Tuesday – time to practice.  You get the idea.  This was something I had not considered, but my Mother insisted on it. I discovered two things from that experience.  Practicing is not nearly as satisfying as gooey treats, and you never learn to play the piano without practice.

“So,” you ask, “Do you play the piano?”

No, not really, I can read the music and plunk away at the keys, but in my heart, I know that does not come anywhere near what my Mother bargained for.”  In truth, she longed for it more than I.

An often heard phrase, “Practice makes perfect,” is used to convey the idea that regular exercise of an activity or skill is a way to become more proficient in it.

Remember learning to tie your shoes?  You tried time after time until you proudly succeeded.

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Imagine a kindergarten child with a fat pencil clutched in his tiny hand, his tongue clamped between his teeth painstakingly tracing the letters of the alphabet trying to make each one perfect.

Every habit we have established in our life was learned the same way.  Most of us never reach real perfection in anything, but practice keeps moving us toward proficiency.

IT’S ALL ABOUT PRACTICE!

This is true in the spiritual realm as well as the natural.

When we come to Christ in faith confessing Him as Savior, He breathes into us His own righteousness, His own goodness.  Matthew 6:33 tells us that we, in turn, have a responsibility to seek after Him and His righteousness.  Again, Matthew 5:6 says, we are to “…hunger and thirst for righteousness.”

“Righteousness” is not a mysterious something.  It simply means to do what is morally right according to God’s law.  Quit sinning and do right!

We are to turn from the old way of living and embrace God’s way.

Good News!  Jesus didn’t just tell us what to do and then leave us to our own devices.  No!  2 Peter 2:21 says, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

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This is where practice becomes important.  To “follow in His steps,” means that we trace His life living as He lived, doing as He did.

            1 John 3:7 says, “He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous.

We have a choice, and it is not always easy.  Sometimes we try and fail, but the more we practice doing what is right, the easier it becomes.  This must be a constant choice, a perpetual, daily decision.  Remember, the one with whom we walk empowers us daily to live out His righteousness.

Some time ago, the slogan “WWJD – What Would Jesus Do?” became very popular.  You could wear those initials around your neck, in your ears, or on your wrist.

For many, it was a mere fad, but for those of us who love and follow Jesus, that question ought to be the deciding factor in every situation.  WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW

 

 

 

 

The End of the Row

My Father was a part-time farmer and a part-time preacher.  In 1938, during the Dust Bowl days, and in the midst of depression, he left the farm and moved his family to Arizona.  Conditions made the situation untenable.  Land, that had once been prosperous, could no longer yield a crop.  In Arizona, daddy became a day laborer in the citrus groves working hard to provide for his family, but he never refused an opportunity to preach when invited.

One of the things I remember and most appreciate about My Dad was his will to work.  He grew up on a dry land farm in Tennessee.  He was a real hillbilly.  The only way to keep body and soul together was to work, without shirking, from daylight ‘til dark.  Will Clark learned that work ethic early, and he passed it on to his children, even his girls.

When I was ten or twelve years old, daddy started taking me and my little sister to the cotton field on Saturdays.  We were awakened and routed out of bed before sunup.  We weren’t going along for the ride.  Mama made cotton sacks for each of us, and daddy expected us to use them.

There were plenty of reasons why we might not like such a chore.  It was Saturday – time to play.  It was hard, hot, heavy work.  By the time cotton is ready to be picked, the boll holding the cotton is dry and sharp and hurtful to tender little fingers.

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However, I don’t remember any temper tantrums at the thought of picking cotton.  We just went along.  Daddy picked two rows with me on one side and June on the other.  We picked off his rows, and he did try to make it fun.  Often he would pick a big double handful of cotton and put it in June’s sack or mine.

By the middle of the morning, the sun was scorching hot.  My little sister would sometimes sit down on the end of her cotton sack and say, “It’s hot!  I’m hot!  I wish the wind would blow.”

I can still hear my father’s voice as he said, “Look, honey, look right up there.  There’s the end of the row.  When we get to the end of the row, we are going to get a cold sodi (soda) pop, emphasizing the word cold.

In that instant hope was born.  This hot, uncomfortable morning was not going to endure forever.  There was something better to look forward to.  At the end of the row we would not only be recompensed for our hard labor, but we were promised a refreshing.  You can’t imagine the gladness that promise brought to two little girls who seldom had an extra nickel for a strawberry sodi pop – mm.

We tackled the cotton with renewed vigor and great anticipation making short work of the rest of the row.

The summer before my freshman year in high school, I picked my last boll of cotton.

“I’d rather starve to death,” I said, but sixty-five years later I am very far from having starved.

Did I like to pick cotton?  NO!  I did it because it pleased my father.  Though I was not aware of it, he was teaching me a lesson that has served me a lifetime.

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Don’t quit because it’s hard.  Don’t give up just because you can.

I am not a politician nor am I a philosopher.  I don’t know how to be politically correct nor do I want to be.  I do want to be Biblically correct.

I have seen and read more news in the last year than in all my life combined.  I don’t like what I see.  Our world and our beloved America are in a mess.  Life has become, difficult, uncertain, sordid, and dangerous.

A sense of helplessness hangs in the air.

I pray.  I vote.  Can I do anything else?  Oh, Yes!

In I Corinthians 15:58, the Apostle Paul says, “…my dear, dear friends, stand your ground.  And don’t hold back.  Throw yourselves into the work of the Master…nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.”

In Revelation 22:12, Jesus says, “I’m on my way!  I’ll be there soon!  I’m bringing my payroll with me.  I’ll pay all people in full for their work…”  In verse 17, He invites us saying, “Is anyone thirsty?  Come!  All, who will, come and drink.  Drink freely of the water of life!”

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From seventy years past, I hear my father’s voice.  “Look, there’s the end of the row.  Don’t quit now.  There’s reward at the end of the row.  There’s cold sodi pop.”

Thank God for hope!  This life is a vapor that vanishes.  Eternity is forever.  Don’t quit now!

I wonder!  Will there be any strawberry soda pop in heaven?

THE SUN WILL COME OUT TOMORROW