Saturday, September 16, 2017

RABBIT TRAILS OR DIVINE SERENDIPITY?


Sometimes a discussion or a relationship or even my entire day can go off on a erratic tangent making lots of crazy, meaningless turns. It's hard to tell where I'm going, and wherever I find myself, I don't know how I got there. It feel as if I've been "going down a rabbit trail." 

If you've ever seen a dog chase a wild rabbit in a field or in someone's back yard, you'd understand where this idiom comes from. The dog pursues the hare in vain as it scurries under bushes, runs through briers, hops over brush piles, into ditches and out of them without any pre-planning of its route. Rabbit trails in my life experience have come to mean running haphazardly through my day as if I'm being chased. 

There is a positive alternative to what may seem like senseless digression. Sometimes I've deliberately taken the risk to explore a side path and found an interesting adventure or come upon an unexpected breathtaking scene. That's more like intentionally taking the road less traveled, a literary reference to a poem by Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken." It is a better option than just running around helter-skelter in rabbit trails. But there is more.


Digging still deeper for a flip side choice to a rabbit trail life, I came upon the word serendipity which on the surface may still appear to be happenstance. But that is deceiving. It is very controlled but not by me, nor is it by random chance. Serendipity is defined as “the unexpected occurrence and development of events in a happy or beneficial way.” With a surprising outcome, something wonderful happens that I had not even been seeking.


Serendipitous as an adjective implies not accidentally but as a God-shaped event, being in the right place at the right time. For instance, bumping into a good friend in some unusual location just when I needed help. Or someone sending me an exact amount of money without knowing my need. Or when you meet the person who becomes your spouse because of the seating arrangement the college professor declared would be permanent for the entire semester (my true story!)—these are examples of serendipitous events. I couldn't plan such things so precisely if I tried. living a serendipitous life is like flowing along in a river within a positive current that had been planned to bring me to my happy destiny.


I believe in Divine serendipity. That's how I want to live my life. There is room in my life for wise planning, of course, but I don't want to negotiate my life by my flawed self-control. I would be blind to my real needs and desires and still inclined toward running meaningless rabbit trails.

Serendipity is finding something valuable or delightful when you are not looking for it. In information technology, serendipity often plays a part in the recognition of a new product need or in solving a design problem. In ordinary, everyday routine living, serendipity may express itself in the ordering of small details like who to visit on the way home from a book promotional tour (my true story!) which led even to a major paradigm shift in my life direction.


Are we getting closer to understanding Divine serendipity? It is like an ordered godsend you didn't ask for or expect; a distinct happening that is recognizable in retrospect. Serendipities are the moments in life you never expect will happen but are so glad when they do. At times it comes down to sheer, out-of-my-hands perfect timing, seemingly total coincidence, but it is indisputably the extraordinary, generous blessing planned by God for us.

The way many of us lead our lives – over planning, overbooking, developing hard lists of goals and objectives, cramming our schedules full, placing so much importance on being always busy, scarcely glancing up from our ever more advanced communications devices – is tragically shrinking our chances of encountering Divine serendipity. We are missing one of the best parts of life. We box in God by our lack of expectations. All the while He wants to generously work on our behalf outside the confining box we have made for ourselves.

Deep inside don't we all feel a desperate need to be more open to the wonders we have inadvertently closed ourselves off to due to having booked our calendar full without leaving any room for the flow of leisurely serendipity in our lives? God has endowed us with free will. We can choose to spend our lives running rabbit trails, if we wish.

Luck and Divine serendipity are very different. Luck is random good fortune, if there is even such a thing as luck. Serendipity is finding something wonderful that I didn’t know I was looking for or needed, but God had it on His agenda for me from the beginning. I could miss it. If I deliberately surrender myself totally to the will of God, I allow Him to put all His serendipity ducks in a row for me to bring me to the right place at the right time in His perfect plan.

A casual lunch engagement might surprise me with an unfolding relationship with someone I have just met who turns out to be a soul mate as time goes on. I might have been walking through "an ordinary field" one day and found "a treasure." An offhand comment by someone may lead me to a window of opportunity of which I never dreamt. 

Holy Spirit serendipity arranges circumstances behind the scenes, opens doors, gives incredible life abundant pleasure to me, brings balm to heal my hurts, wisdom to my life—or draws me into the orbit of someone else who needs my encouragement or help. When such Divine serendipity occurs, in retrospect I know from Whom it comes—it is not by chance or by my self-planning. And I thank Him to Whom credit is due.

The anticipation of daily Divine serendipity is what wakes me in the morning to enthusiastically and expectantly ask, “What have You planned for us to do today, Lord? I want to give You pleasure and I am ready to receive Your serendipity blessings. Keep me from the rabbit trails of my self-will.”  

Then I put my feet on the floor and prepare to watch Him work out my multi-trailed day in His Divine serendipity way!




Sunday, September 10, 2017

ARE NATURAL DISASTERS REALLY “ACTS OF GOD?”





(Guest Blog Post)
Answers offered below are excerpted from Online: Question of the Week


 Question: "Why does God allow natural disasters, i.e. earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis?"

Answer: Is God behind the earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, typhoons, cyclones, mudslides, wildfires, and other natural disasters? Tragedies cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Genesis 1:1).

Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornadoes are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.

The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Colossians 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? [With a word from Jesus “the wind and the sea” obeyed Him and were stilled.] Deuteronomy 11:17, James 5:17, Numbers 16:30-34 show us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgment against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Revelation chapters 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not! 

 
In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” The fall of humanity into sin had effects on everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.

We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow the tsunami to kill over 225,000 people in Asia? Why did God allow Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of thousands of people? [And other on-going at the time of this blog post natural disasters, wildfires, earthquakes, droughts, etc.] 

For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this mortal human life and force us to think about eternity. Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realize how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. What we do know is this: God is good! Many amazing miracles occur during the course of natural disasters that prevent even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to reevaluate their priorities in life and henceforth hold their possessions more loosely. Hundreds of millions of dollars in aid is sent to help the people who are suffering. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ! God can, and does, bring great good out of terrible tragedies (Romans 8:28).


Who is really behind the weather curtain?
 

Question: "Does Satan have the power to control the weather?"
 
Answer:
The increasing number of natural disasters and terrible storms have many people wondering, who controls the weather, God or Satan? Some point to the descriptions of Satan as the “prince of the power of the air” in Ephesians 2:2 and the “god of this world” in 2 Corinthians 4:4 as evidence for Satan having control over weather. An examination of Scripture reveals that whatever influence Satan and his demon angels have over the weather is restricted by God's ultimate sovereignty. The Devil, our "adversary," must be taken seriously; we should acknowledge his existence and his limited power over the secular world. At the same time, Satan, a defeated fallen angel, is super-human but not divine, having only the power that God ultimately allows (2 Thessalonians 2:6-11).

If Satan could impact the weather, it would only be by God's permission, and restrained, as in the case of Job in the Old Testament story. Satan was allowed by God to torment Job in order to test him, and this included “the fire of God” (probably lightning) which "fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants" (Job 1:16). This was followed by a "mighty wind" (possibly a tornado) that destroyed his home and killed his children (vv. 18-19). So if the fire from heaven and the tornado were somehow caused by Satan, they were still under the ultimate control of God for His purposes.

God is in control of all things, including the weather. Through His providence, God provides for and protects His children, but He also permits Satan, demons, and mankind itself to exercise their limited will to commit acts of sin, evil, and wickedness. These same beings are fully responsible for any and all man-made disasters and tragedies they cause. We know that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass (Ephesians 1:11; Romans 11:36), and therefore God's invisible hand is in our pain, even though He cannot sin or be the perpetrator of evil (James 1:13-17).

There can be no meaningless suffering for the Christian, whether the suffering is caused by mankind or by a natural event. We may not always know why evil acts or natural disasters happen, but we can be assured that in all our trials and tribulations God is working all things together for His glory and for our everlasting good (Romans 8:18-28).

Monday, September 4, 2017

POST DAY OF PRAYER THOUGHTS


[My complaint] 

Come on, God, don't You know what's going on in this country? Don't You hear our prayers? Why do You seem to look the other way when evil is prevailing? We are praying for justice to rule. 

Don't You hear our prayers for judgment on those unlawful nations which threaten to destroy us? They are fierce and hotheaded, blood-thirsty and dangerous. Their leaders are out of their minds, like loose cannons. They don't honor You. Their poison is spreading all over the world. They seize what doesn't belong to them and murder their captives. They laugh at us, mock us. 

Sure, we know our country isn't perfect. But remember, we are Your people, called by Your Name. We have committed some gross sins too—but we are still pretty righteous compared to how bad our enemies are. We are in social ferment and even physical conflict among ourselves, our leaders are corrupt, and we have lost our way. Natural calamities are coming upon us. Because You are just and holy I know we're really not going to get away with our transgressions, but—please, God, we really want to be great again....



[God replies] 
 You may not like My answer. Write this down because you may not believe it. I want everyone to know very clearly. Of course I don't endorse evil and I reward the good. And I don't overlook those who are righteous, who are just and live by faith and who honor Me. But My way is not to rain justice down from heaven. I am going to judge your evil oppressors in My time frame and in My own way. 

If it is My will to use other nations, heinous as they are, to punish your nation, that is My prerogative. *Your enemy may even rule over you for a time, but I will judge them and all those super powers around you too and they will fall into ruin. Don't question My methods or My timing. Be patient and trust Me. I hold history in my hands.



Was the above scenario written in 2017 
about the United States?

No! Almost verbatim (paraphrased) the above was written by the prophet Habakkuk in about 612-589 B.C. in the Old Testament Book bearing his name. God had just shown the prophet that evil Babylon was poised to overrun Judah as God's judgment on His people Judah. The subject of this prophecy is the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem for the sins of the people, and the consolation of the faithful under national calamities.



The governments of the world are on the shoulders of the “Child born to us, the Son given to us” the One Whose Name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) He has not abandoned His people who aspire to be righteous, but His hand is in all the affairs of men and nations throughout history until it culminates in the Return of the Prince of Peace, Jesus, at the conclusion of Planet Earth's history. It may be applaudable for us to desire that our nation be great again, faithful to its godly heritage, but the more commendable prayer is that our God be magnified and HE becomes great again in the hearts of our nation's people.



* Reminder from history:

Today, we have the advantage of seeing centuries of this cycle in retrospect. We know, like the Hebrew prophets, that God used Assyria to judge Israel, Babylon to judge Assyria (and Judah), and later, Persia to judge Babylon. We also know from later history that the Macedonians brought down Persia, and in turn, Rome over the Macedonians and on through the centuries. If you search more recent history, you’ll see the same process at work in our global political context as the prophets did.



(I take responsibility for the above personal, non-political, non-partisan thoughts the day after the President's Proclamation of a National Day of Prayer.)
"He who has ears to hear, let him hear" said Jesus.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

TAKING A “SELFIE” PHOTO


I have a smart phone and I do take photos with it. Especially of my grand- and great-grandchildren. But I've never used the "selfie" camera feature, although most of my family, especially the younger crowd, do so constantly. 

Okay, I know it's cool. At the same time I'm a bit uncomfortable with it. Seems sort of ego-focused like a lot of Facebook entries.
Just maybe there is a lot more emphasis than necessary on our outward appearance to continually showcase ourselves, to display ourselves in every conceivable situation. Oh well, to each his own. There are a lot of beautiful people around to admire. No criticism, no judgment, just my personal reluctance.

Everything in balance, of course. Self-awareness is important. At the same time the Scripture cautions us not to “think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, but to think soberly” (Rom. 12:3). Balance means to put temporal things and eternal things in perspective. Self-esteem is good; self-conceit to be avoided. Pride is right in its place; pridefulness is a negative. Continually bemoaning our unworthiness is not humility, which is a virtue. We need God-perspective.

What is this human body of which we are taking “selfies”? In the long run what is its worth? How long will it be around? Does it merit all the attention we give it? The upkeep, the nurture, the feeding, the clothing, the efforts to keep it young looking or just to keep it going? What comes after its beauty fades and its inevitable decline? (2 Cor. 4:16-18; 5:1) Is anything left after the body becomes dust? Is this morbid talk or something to “lose heart” over?

A friend and I were discussing the meaning of a phrase from Ps. 62:9 in one of the newer translations, “Human beings are all like a puff of breath; great and small alike are worthless. Put them on the scales, and they weigh nothing; they are lighter than a mere breath." King David wrote that observation thousands of years ago without modern scientific knowledge or having Google search at his disposal to back him up with facts.

By coincidence, I had recently been reading one of the philosophical essays written by my friend a physics professor. Used by permission of Dr. Karl de Azagra from his book and web site: EXPLORING THE HUMAN THEOREM THESIS:

"The human body is made up of approximately 70 percent water (practically a walking swimming pool!), with the residual 30 percent mainly composed of carbon, nitrogen, and 28 other chemical elements such as calcium, potassium, iron, and even the highly toxic arsenic. At face value, these compounds are nothing more than abundant and cheap raw materials! What is more, everything in our bodies is ultimately composed entirely of atoms – most of which are actually empty space!

"If we wanted to accumulate all of the real matter within a single human body into a single solid block, we would have to compress all of our atoms with a powerful (& imaginary!) press to eliminate all the space, or vacuum, within them. Surprisingly, if we undertook this hypothetical compression, our total mass would hardly fill half of a thimble! As a result, I doubt that the marketplace would offer more than seven dollars for the sum of our body’s organic compounds, even with an interested buyer."

Realistically then, we are taking “selfie” pictures of our $7 human self. Is it true then? “Put our bodies on the scales and they weigh nothing; they are lighter than a mere breath?" Are we worth so little? No! We are of incalculable worth to God! He created us as both a temporal, progressively wasting away body AND an eternal, undying soul (spirit). He values our human bodies so greatly that He plans to resurrect them, no matter what condition they will be in, when Jesus returns again. God plans to transform them to live in the Eternal Dimension. He plans to reunite our bodies with our souls which will be temporarily waiting in Heaven with Jesus until the resurrection.

Is there an “interested buyer” for our $7 bodies as Dr. Karl speculates? The apostle Paul declares with assurance, “For you are bought [by Jesus] with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's” (1 Cor. 6:20). Jesus paid an immense price for us by giving His life on the cross for our sins. God doesn't care for or prepare for only the future of our spirit but our body also. Both are precious to Him. 

It is clear, therefore, by the mercies of God, what we should do about our bodies, “Present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

If we were to take a true “selfie”of ourselves and we had special spiritual X-ray or heavenly MRI or a sacred CT scan in our smart phone camera, how surprised we would be! We could see our invisible soul and the indwelling Holy Spirit inside the body of a Christian. What a marvelous future ahead for our $7 bodies!



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

“GOING STEADY” WITH MY “SUGAR CANE”



I don't intend to bore you with “an organ recital” about all the not-unexpected unfixables going on in my “earth suit” body due to the blessing of longevity. This is just to let you know that I have a few new hurdles to jump over. 

Of course at age 92 I don't really jump hurdles anymore, nor do I look at them as road blocks to stop me from carrying out God's call on my life. These are the “momentary light afflictions” about which Scripture tells us “are not to be compared with the joy that is to come.” Sort of speed bumps or rumble strips about which I posted a blog on February 21, 2017. (See archives)


It's a matter of being a little off balance. I'm no longer steady on my feet because of the deterioration of nerves in my feet caused by gradual but now severe non-diabetic polyneuropathy—which in turn is caused by an age-related deteriorating disc at L5 in my spine. Enough of the details.
Polyneuropathy is a big number word (so remember that for Scrabble) to explain that my feet feel numb and they are not so good at notifying my brain exactly where I'm stepping. It increases my danger of stumbling and falling.


Since nothing can be done to rejuvenate those nerves once they have deteriorated, my neurologist instructed me not to go anywhere without my “walking stick” aka cane, or as my physical therapist calls it, my “steady companion.” The purpose is for balance. Would you believe, I have to learn to walk again with a “third leg” and I must work on strengthening muscles in my lower extremities—a PT routine I'm working on. 

I realize that I have some psychological/emotional aspects to adjust to, specifically to change my rushing around lifestyle. I've been cautioned repeatedly to start slowing my pace. I admit to reluctance but now I have to. “He [the Lord, my Shepherd] maketh me....” (Psalm 23:2). Whether I do it voluntarily or am made to do so is up to me. I guess I've reached that second option. I don't think I want to grumble or complain about or resist what is inevitable. I intend to consider my new, unanticipated situation as “green pastures” and “quiet waters” for the purpose of “restoring my soul.” 

Of course there are some things I might have to give up. I won't need to walk the dog. (I don't have a dog anyway!) I won't be able to run marathons. (That was never my ambition!) I will have to give up my dream of parachuting out of a plane. (Not in my wildest dreams did I have that nightmare!) But there are dozens of things I can certainly still do! Me and my "sugar cane...."

I'm planning to look upon my cane not as a symbol of my weakness or inability but as a sweet “sugar cane” and “boast about my weakness that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” I want to cash in on all the rest of the goodies the apostle Paul discovered were the flip side of God not answering his prayer to remove the “thorn in his flesh” ( 2 Cor. 12:7-10). (But in the case of my thorn, I just don't feel it!”)


My "sugar cane" didn't hinder me from reaching my self-imposed deadline today (August 23, which would have been our 70th wedding anniversary!) to complete the final editing of my forthcoming book, Writing For the Supreme Editor.  Now the new book with which I was "pregnant" this spring and summer is reaching "full term" and goes into the hands of my son Rick for production.

So it's a good thing, always good, whatever the Lord permits or gives. I think I'm going to meditate on Paul's experience in depth to squeeze every bit of power and balm for my new state of affairs. It does pack a wallop for all of us who inevitably hit brick walls in life that we can't do anything about. God makes a way through when there doesn't seem to be a way. Often He shows us how to change our attitude, simply to accept what He gives us, and let Him do a new thing, turn an arid desert experience into a place of refreshing springs. (Isaiah 43:18-21)

There's an analogy here too. As we become older, we are prone to get out of balance in our walk with the Lord. Each of us knows what that means in our own lives. We must be ever so vigilant not to become gradually numb to the ways that we knew were displeasing to God in our earlier years and now have become lax in our spiritual walk. We are prone to stumble and fall. We may need to sign up for some spiritual PT, if necessary. But I'll leave that to develop in a later blog post. From time to time we may need to “take a selfie” photo of ourselves (that's not me in the photo, although on my recent birthday I made the decision not to continue to color my hair anymore! I'm joining the prestigious gray hair club, if they'll allow me in. I think a cane might just be the right password.).


Oh, this new experience has its perks—I was issued a handicapped placard to enable me to park closer to my destination. And it's amazing how seeing that I carry my “sugar cane” causes some people to hurry and open a door for me! Thank you! 


One thing I haven't yet learned to manage—Imagine this scenario: it's raining and I've opened my umbrella, I've slung my purse over my shoulder, my “sugar cane” is in my right hand, I have a package in my left, the railing to hold on to is on my right—and I have a couple of steps to climb before I try in vain to hold everything and open the entrance door to the medical building where I go for PT—well, that's a dilemma for a juggler! I have a “third leg” now, but not a third arm!
*****

Friday, August 11, 2017

THE HAMMER IS STILL ON THE ANVIL


I'm still at the stage of "hours on end to tweak and prune and snip and clip and trim while I edit my latest literary book-child to the point of delivery." Thank you, prayer partners, for your faithful prayers. I'm trying my best to "leisurely walk" through this manuscript rather than writing in the fast lane as is my habit. 

The final editing of the chapters of WRITING FOR THE SUPREME EDITOR should be finished soon and nearing production. The chapters titles are: Beginnings and Before, Launching my Writing Career, Selfie Writing, Spreading My Wings, Over Mountains and Plains and Seas, The Joy of Psalming, Passing the Writing Baton, God's Empowering Touch, From Cave Walls to Cyberspace, Legacy on My Mind, Pursue Your Dream and an Epilogue titled Afterglow.

Below is an excerpt explaining my analogy between the skilled master craft of blacksmithing and creative writing wordsmithing.


As I use the term, a wordsmith is similar to a master craftsman like a blacksmith. The blacksmith uses a hammer, an anvil, fire and water as his tools today in much the same way as they were used in past centuries. His raw materials are metal, iron and steel. The wordsmith's tools have morphed through the ages. His words originally were spoken and orally passed down. The yearning for permanency impelled him to change his medium through the centuries as the medium was developed. Mankind has always had wordsmiths—and always will. There are wordsmiths in every language group and they adapt to the times in which they live.

I found definitions of a wordsmith in various dictionaries which expands our understanding: “One skilled in using words, a fluent and prolific writer who manages language very well, someone who can inspire others through the use of brilliantly crafted words or phrases, one who makes up words intuitively, creatively, or purely by accident, one who can turn a tedious story into a magical and merryful story, one well-gifted in the art of writing, one who carefully selects just the right word and word order, a word expert, a creative communicator.”

Ah, how I would love to qualify as a wordsmith as described above! I can only aspire, dream, practice and press on to be counted worthy to bend low in the company of those who do merit such high-sounding descriptions.

Analogies to Blacksmithing

I see many analogies between wordsmithing and blacksmithing. I can only whet your appetite for such an understanding by briefly mentioning a few of them. First, let's look at what a blacksmith does. A blacksmith is a person who uses mega-strength to hammer hot iron on an anvil to change the shape of the material in line with his mental image. The heat in a forge must be intense enough to soften and shape the formerly rigid and unyielding substance. As iron heats to higher temperatures, it first glows red, then orange, yellow, and finally white. 

Eventually comes the finishing process. Depending on the master smithy's intended use of the piece, a blacksmith may finish it in a number of ways: Filing brings a piece to final shape, removing sharp edges and smoothing the surface. Heat treatment and case-hardening achieves the desired hardness. The wire brush—as a hand tool or power tool—can further smooth, brighten, and burnish surfaces. Grinding stones, abrasive paper and emery wheels can further shape the material. A range of treatments and finishes can inhibit oxidation and enhance or change the appearance of the piece. An experienced smithy selects the finish based on the metal itself and on the intended use of the item. 

A blacksmith doesn't usually work alone. Someone else is in the picture. A “blacksmith's striker” is an assistant whose job it is to swing a large sledgehammer in heavy forging operations as directed by the master blacksmith. In practice, the blacksmith holds the hot iron at the anvil with tongs in one hand, and indicates where to strike the iron by tapping it with a small hammer in the other hand. The striker then delivers a heavy blow to the indicated spot with a sledgehammer. All of the above reminds me of the process of creative writing, wordsmithing.

All for the Supreme Editor

I look upon my lifetime of wordsmithing in a twofold way: first, the creative words I have been forging into some medium of communication, and second, myself as God's workmanship. He has been forging me into the person He planned for me to be from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4) “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). I am being worked on by His Holy Spirit, and God is working through me and I with Him to write what He wants me to write.

As a wordsmith who is a Christian I have a unique relationship and responsibility to work for and with the “Master Smithy” whom I call in the title of this book, “The Supreme Editor.” He is my Lord, the Omnipotent God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to whom I am accountable as a good steward. He has the overall plan for any writing project to which He assigns me. 

I regard myself in a sense as His amanuensis. The dictionary defines that as a person who assists another to write what the other person desires. Of course God doesn't literally “dictate” what I am to write, contrary to what some “wannabe writers” claim about their fledgling literary works. In further definition and personalizing it, I am at my Master's personal service, “within hand reach” to perform any command. Further defined, an amanuensis is “an intimately trusted servant; like a scribe; a lowly clerk specializing in producing at royal command whatever the Sovereign wishes to write. I like that aspect. I look to the Lord for His nudge, His impression, His ideation for my writing. I try to listen carefully and “do whatever He says” as the Blessed Mother of Jesus instructed the wine servants at the wedding at Cana.

At times my Supreme Editor has said no or not yet when I presented an idea or manuscript to Him. I have not argued with God about it but simply obeyed. I didn't want to end up with a permanent bad hip like Jacob did when he wrestled with the Angel! As a case in point, it was more than thirty years ago that I chose the title for this book and outlined what I had in mind to write. God stopped me. I thought I got a no but it turned out to be a not yet because that was not God's time or mine. I had much more living to do and many difficult and joyous experiences to live through and many more books to write and publish before I was ready. Now He has given me the green light—due time has come!

In my wordsmithing God provides the tools, the material on which I work, the fire, the heat, the energizing strength to soften the hard task of working with words and making them malleable to sculpt for His intended use. At times it is I who am the unyielding iron on which God is working and intense heat is not pleasant but necessary. Sometimes there are difficult writing projects where the heat needs to be intensified. At times in the wordsmithing process the Divine Smithy allows the hefty, muscled “Striker” (the Adversary in this case) to administer a blow to make me more pliant and compliant to His will, as He allowed His servant Job in the Old Testament to go through. All the while He is loving on me, carefully holding me, keeping me safe and steady with His "divine tongs" so that I won't be harmed but perfected.

The Supreme Editor reserves for Himself the process of Finishing and polishing the product or writing project upon which we have worked together. He ordained its intended use. I leave it to His discretion how long the case-hardening finish is to take. At times that might mean an unexplained (to me) delay before a book is published. There have been times other than the example above when twenty years or more elapsed between the actual completion of one of my book manuscripts and the day it rolled off the press—seriously! It might have been me who was in need of the filing of my sharp edges or my finding the better choice of words to communicate His message or a different readership. I concur with the Supreme Editor's insistence on multiple editings. As in blacksmithing, the finished wordsmithing product must be presented shining brightly.

My life assignment from my Supreme Editor has been to learn how to communicate His thoughts to those who read my writings as a skillful blacksmith would as he hammers out iron into steel in the white furnace heat of his forge to create a product of His own choosing.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

MY LIST



 I have a "Special Needs" Prayer List. It is above and beyond my ordinary praying, although I don't think there is any such thing as "ordinary" praying. All requests, intercessions, praise and thanksgiving always reaches God.

But on this particular List are the names of people with various physical and spiritual and even unspoken, unknown to me needs. Either they have asked me to pray for them or I have come to know of either their urgent current or chronic needs, their burdens or their worrisome concerns for themselves or for others.



I simply bring the friends on this List to Jesus, lift them up into His arms like the Jewish mothers did with their children. He welcomed them onto His lap: “Let them come....” He embraced them and blessed them at the point of their need. The mothers were grateful and I am grateful to bring my friends to Him. I don't have to go into some detailed recital of their needs or remind Him of how I would like Him to answer them or how my friends would like to have them met. He already knows that.


All I need to do is to “help make a hole in the roof,” as it were, and be one of the four friends of the needy, helpless paralytic by holding one of the corners of the mat as we lower him through the ceiling right down in front of Jesus. (Mark 2:4) I am not praying alone. As I unite my prayers and faith with others, Jesus know what my friends need. He already has an omniscient, omnipotent plan for their lives and how He is going to generously and lovingly answer our collective petitions.


How God will answer doesn't depend on my eloquence, frequency or fervor in prayer. Simply to mention their names to Him will do, as the apostle Paul wrote that was his habit when praying for his friends. Jesus knows each of them by name (John 10:3,14). If they are ill and need healing and I know the name of the illness, I mention it to Him because His name is above every name (Eph. 1:21 and Phil 2:9) and at the mention of Jesus' name every knee will bow to Him (Rom. 14:11)—and by inference, so will every illness no matter how complicated and unpronounceable the medical term for the disease or disorder.


As God answers prayer and needs are met, people come and go on my List. I rejoice with those whom Jesus touches in whatever way He knows best. Some remain on my List for years, if necessary, struggling with chronic conditions and experiencing the “My grace is sufficient for you” balm from God for the long haul. They leave my List when it's God's perfect time to receive their ultimate healing in their Heavenly Home where there is no sickness or pain and Jesus makes all things new.


Others with special needs are continuing to come onto my ever-expanding List. I always have room for more. God expands my compassion and extends my love to include them. The hymn writer expresses it so well based on James 4:6—God gives greater grace: 


“He [God] gives more grace when the burden grows greater;

He sends more strength when the labors increase.

To added affliction He adds His mercy;

To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.



When we have exhausted our store of endurance,

When our strength has failed 'ere the day is half done,

When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,

Our Father's full giving is only begun.



His love has no limit; His grace has no measure;

His power has no boundary known unto men.

For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,

He gives, and gives, and gives again!


To hear this hymn on youtube go to:


I welcome any “special needs” friends to My List. Seriously? Yes. Email me at leonachoy@gmail.com. Jesus' care and love for you has no limit. Let's trust Him together.