Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sanctification by Scenery

My Honey and I like to walk so we head out most afternoons. 

One day last week a view of the city popped up to surprise us. It was the first time we'd seen it from this spot.

Thankfully the foreground was reachable since I had to hang onto a tree while I took photos.

Looking beyond the shrubbery we recognized many familiar sights. We could name them even if we couldn't touch them.

We chatted together as we identified the various places we've visited; Charles Bridge, Old Town, . . . We shared some of the happy memories we've made, such as enjoying an evening on the Jazz Boat. 
Somehow the remembrances warmed us and drew us closer to each other.

We commented that the majority of the metropolitan area was shrouded in haze. We simply couldn't make out most of what flowed to the horizon. 
We thrilled at the idea that there's still a lot of Prague for us to discover. 

Thankfully the overarching sky granted us a break in the gray clouds that have set the tone of our winter. We knew the sun was rising and setting each day even if we rarely caught a glimpse of it. 
Now we basked in the heralding of its presence by the sudden appearance of blue heavens and sparkling sunshine. 

My heart raced at the release I felt from the winter doldrums.

The evidence that spring was on its way shot adrenalin-laced blood through my veins.     I can hardly wait!

My mind tried to grasp the flying thoughts and images.
Surely there's something deeper being revealed.     I don't want to miss it. 

Maybe this picture illustrates our lives under God's overarching wings. 

Come and ponder with me. 

"The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing."    Zephaniah 3:17   

Monday, February 25, 2013

Psalm 23

The Power of The Shepherd

He is the active party:

  • makes
  • restores
  • leads
  • guides
  • secures
  • comforts
  • prepares
  • feeds
  • anoints

I am passive one:

  • followed by goodness and mercy
  • dwell in God's house

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the valley of the shadow of death,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.   AMEN 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sanctification by Needle & Thread

It was a good day. 

I was settling into one of my all-time favorite tasks, mending.

Some ladies think it's an unpleasant chore. I have to admit that I don't get to it all that often, but when I do it's enjoyable.

I took a deep breath and pulled my Honey's jeans onto my lap. 

Maybe the reason I like mending is that in order to do it I have to stop and sit down.

Or maybe I like mending because my effort results in something being made useful.

I took the needle out of the little package and picked up the spool of blue thread.

I'm getting older so I took another deep breath and steadied myself to thread the needle.

I found the itty-bitty eye, but the thread was too frayed to go through. 

I cut the end clean and stabilized my hands again. The thread went through and I measured out the length I wanted. Well, I tried to measure out the thread. Somehow there was a short piece on the spool so I ended up pulling it right through the needle.

I repeated the same steps with confidence they would be successful this time, but the same thing happened again - honest.

This time I made sure there was a nice long piece of thread before I poked the end through the eye of the needle. I relaxed and settled into the hemming job before me. My hands fell into a smooth rhythm.
I started to think about the little scenario I'd just walked through. There had been rounds of frustration, but I'd been able to remain calm and stay on course. Now that's interesting. 

You see, I'm not the most patient person in the world . . . at least not this year . . . or decade.

I started to think, You know, it sure would have been a lot different if I'd let that frustration get to me. 

I pictured myself all hot and fuming as I tried to cram a piece of thread waving around in my tense grip through the eye of a needle that I simply couldn't see through the fury blurring my vision. After 20+ tries I saw myself throw the mending tools up in the air, ditch the piece of fabric behind the couch, and stomp off in a flurry of nastiness. 

Please groan with me over such immature behavior,
even if it is only imaginary.

I wonder how my life would change if I applied the mending mindset I enjoy to other activities. What would my day be like if I chose to stop and sit down just to collect my thoughts from time to time? I bet it would help if I remembered that God has a loving purpose for everything He plans for me. It would definitely be an improvement if I just chose to relax into His arms continually. Great stuff to ponder.

There, the hems are finished. My Honey puts on his jeans and his smile lights up my day - yet another reason to give patience a chance.

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."  Colossians 3:12

Monday, February 18, 2013

Psalm 19:7-11

Expressions of God

law                         perfect                 reviving

statues                  trustworthy          making wise

precepts                right                     giving joy

commands            radiant                 giving light

fear / awe               pure                     enduring forever

ordinances             sure                     righteous

sum total =  more precious than gold
                       sweeter than honey comb
                        warning for his servants
                                                                reward for loving obedience

          Psalm 19:7-11 NIV 1984

The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
    making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
    giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
    giving light to the eyes.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever.
The ordinances of the Lord are sure
    and altogether righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
    than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
    than honey from the comb.
11 By them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sanctification by Wax-i-dent

Gee Whizz!!

It's a small thing, I suppose, 
. . . in light of the issues of life,

. . . but it's my only tablecloth. 

He didn't mean it. He's only 8.

He got hot wax on his face.

I turned my attention toward my careless young friend. 
I called out to his mom and she tended him immediately. 
Thankfully the only remaining result was injury to his pride. 

Our visit ended and I looked at my poor wax-stained tablecloth. 

What now, LORD?

Directions found on the internet:     
Four days in the freezer. Scrape off the excess wax. 
Place absorbent paper above and below. 
Press with a warm iron. Spray. Wash.

I pause at the ironing board forcing myself to be attentive.

In addition to my cleaning efforts, I work to keep a God-pleasing attitude.

Hmmm  You know, my life is kinda like this tablecloth . . . marred by sin.

I don't usually aim to make a mess of things. Sometimes, like my young friend, I don't think. I get caught up in the moment and unexpected consequences appear. 

Other times, I choose to ignore the warning notes that play in my head and heart. I'm not sure why I get surprised when those 'stains' become apparent.

WOW, look at that!  

I lift the iron off the first area and the wax is gone. The cloth looks like new.

It's as if the accident never happened. 

This is gonna be okay after all.

As I continue to work on the tablecloth I think about my own life. 

It takes real effort and prayerful focus to clean up the sin messes I make.
It feels like scraping of wax when I have to confess and ask forgiveness.
I know I need to be more diligent to look for and follow God's directions.
I'm grateful for God's refining heat and pressing attention that tend me.
It's a relief to know Christ's sacrifice draws out every sinful stain.

Gee Whizz!!     What now, LORD?
WOW, look at that!     This is gonna be okay after all.

"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
To God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus,Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance."  1 Peter 1:1,2

Monday, February 11, 2013

Psalm 19:1-6

The sun rises every morning to proclaim the presence of God and display His character for all to see. 

Words are not necessary to articulate His glory and exclaim His Truth.

God abounds in faithfulness.

God's power sustains the earth.

God provides for all He has made.

God fills each day with heat, light, energy.

God pursues His will as a rejoicing champion.

God will complete His plan from beginning to end.

God's presence is evident in every aspect of the world.

God is coming as a groom with delight to meet His bride.

Psalm 19 NIV 1984

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
    where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,
    which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,
    like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens
    and makes its circuit to the other;
    nothing is hidden from its heat.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Harry the Hacker

We don't know his real name. 

We've never been introduced.

We've only seen each other across balconies.

Yet Harry has been a part of our lives since we arrived in Prague more than a year ago. 

We've come to know a lot about "Harry".

Harry is a long-time smoker. 

We know because Harry steps out onto his balcony, lights up a cigarette, and starts hacking.

Harry has insomnia.

We know because Harry wakes us up hacking on his balcony at all hours of the night.

Harry doesn't like snow.

We know because when there's snow on his balcony Harry chooses to smoke with his head sticking out of his rooftop skylight.   NO JOKE!

Harry has a significant other. 

We know because she joins Harry on the balcony regularly for mutual smoking sessions.

Harry likes to be comfortable.

We know because Harry often wears his pajamas and bathrobe out on the balcony while he smoking.

Harry is different.

We know because Harry appears on his balcony when very few other people seem to use their access to the outdoors.

Harry is home a lot of the time.

We know because Harry is on his balcony smoking at odd times on most days of the week.

One thing we don't know about Harry is why he continues to smoke.

"The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple."  
                                                                                                    Psalm 19:7

Monday, February 4, 2013

Psalm 18:46-50

     God lifted David above his enemies.
     God protected David from violent men.

     God lives!
     David praises God, his security.
     David elevates God, his avenger.
     God places nations below David.
     God protects David from his foes.
     God grants grand successes to His ruler.
     God displays perpetual kindness to His chosen, 
                                                                    to David and his household.

     David will continue to praise God everywhere.
     David will sing exaltations to God's Name.
     God will continue to display kindness.
God acts in the past, present, and future on behalf of His chosen ones. 

Psalm 18:46-50  NIV1984

46 The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be God my Savior!
47 He is the God who avenges me,
    who subdues nations under me,
48     who saves me from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
    from violent men you rescued me.
49 Therefore I will praise you among the nations, O Lord;
    I will sing praises to your name.
50 He gives his king great victories;
    he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
    to David and his descendants forever.