Friday, January 27, 2017

SIX DAYS LEFT FOR CHINESE NEW YEAR'S OFFER

Happy Chinese New Year tomorrow January 28, 2017

A large number of friends who responded quickly by email to my offer have already received two of my newly published books YESTERDAY by priority mail!  They are in the first group of folks to read:
FABLES OF GOD'S KINGDOM FOR GROWN UPS and SELAH REFLECTIONS: Press the PAUSE Button. 



February 2 this offer of the two FREE GIFT BOOKS expires and the books will go on sale at the regular price of $12.95.

The only thing you need to do is email me leonachoy@gmail.com and request the CHINESE NEW YEARS SPECIAL and give me your name and mailing address and pay the S/H.  The postage is $7.21 for 3 day delivery in the U.S. Yikes! The postmaster informed me that the postage went up overnight when I took the packages to the P.O!

You may make your check payable to me, Leona Choy, 497 Devland Dr. Winchester, VA 22603 or pay by credit card through paypal.me/LeonaChoy for your convenience.

If you do this today, you should have your books by Tuesday (given the weekend between).

Don't forget, you can chase the rooster away (the symbol according to the Chinese lunar calendar for 2017), and choose to fly like an eagle with the strength of the Lord. Read my recent blog posts.

And remember to eat some Chinese food on Chinese New Year's Day TOMORROW, Saturday. Take-out will count!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

NOT A ROOSTER BUT AN EAGLE


In the Chinese zodiac cycle of twelve animals representing different years, 2017 is the year of the rooster. That bird is pretty well confined to the ground, although it can flutter about a foot or two above ground if agitated. 
I have been using Chinese New Years Day January 28 simply as a convenient date to initiate some adjustments in my advanced years, namely decelerating my outward speed of life and accelerating my inner renewal. However, I guess I made a mistake to use the word “retired” to describe that modification.


Some of my friends are jumping to the conclusion that I was totally worn out, “tired” (part of the word “retired”) and that I planned to settle into a rocking chair and henceforth do nothing—to back off from my life calling, abandon my creative writing, my “Barnabas” encouragement ministry, and just meander around “the barnyard” like the rooster pecking at worms and chicken feed. 
Absolutely NOT! In fact, the polar opposite. I'm choosing a different bird to represent my desire for this coming year—the eagle. 

God created it with the instinct and ability to fly high, to effortlessly soar on the thermal currents only moving its strong wings slightly. And to wait for those currents before taking off in flight. It was not meant to strut around confined and crowing like the rooster or even rapidly flapping its wings like other birds of the air. Leisurely sailing on air might best describe the eagle's mobility.


What do I hope my forthcoming days will look like, I'm asked. Okay, here goes:

I'm going to try not to frantically flap my wings about anything contrary, adverse, or unexpected. Instead, to “wait on the Lord” (Isaiah 40:28-31) and so avoid becoming “weary and faint.” I will expect to “renew my strength” to “mount up with wings like eagles.” I can expect that there will still be times when the Lord will ask me to “run” and other times He will ask me to cool it, wait for Him, and just rest. He promised that if I walk with Him at that kind of alternating pace—run and rest—I won't “get tired or weary.” God will infuse strength into me as if I were young again (Psalm 103:5 and Deuteronomy 33:25). Whatever my days will hold, whatever the tumult around me, I want to “walk leisurely” through my days.

Because my calling from the Lord and the gifts He has given to accomplish my calling have unlimited “shelf life” and no expiration date, I accept that I will be accountable for them as a good steward however long I live. Each bonus day God gives me is a renewed opportunity to bear more fruit for Him (Psalm 92:12-15) through encouraging others in the Faith through my writing and my spoken words.


I will be happy to celebrate the harvest time of my life and delight in savoring the goodness of the Lord. It will satisfy me. I expect to learn how to be content with my circumstances, as Saint Paul wrote that he had to learn, even the decline of my strength through natural aging.


I expect to delight in spending more time in deeper relationships with my family and friends. I anticipate renewing my inner spirit and drawing closer to the Lord in prayer. I anticipate more quiet reflection time to listen to the love-whispers of God and become more discerning and attentive to the gentle directives of the Holy Spirit. And allocate more time to reading for refreshment, for pleasure and profit.
Along with more resting, I'm going to try to be more physically active even with disciplined, structured exercise, and curtail somewhat (only somewhat) my time sitting and writing at the computer. 


I plan to continue, as has always been my habit, to surrender myself in the morning upon rising to the will and way of the Lord for whatever He planned for me for this day. God prepared it all beforehand (Ephesians 2:10) and I accept His plan. Therefore I won't consider anything as an interruption or detour. I plan to count it a joy to agree, as I always have, with whatever and whoever He brings into my life and try to discern the purpose for that encounter in order to carry out His will.


Honestly, I have no idea what the future days hold. So I walk on tiptoes of expectancy for what He has prepared for me during—okay, let's not say my “retirement”—but instead, during my rejuvenation (meaning: to restore to youthful vigor or appearance) and my renewal! I know it will be good because God is always good. “I don't know about tomorrow,” the hymn writer declared, and I agree, “but I know Who holds my hand.”




Monday, January 23, 2017

WANTED! YOUR WORD OF MOUTH!


Please introduce Leona's books and
blog to your friends

Leona doesn't have a marketing or promotional department. Nor is she a marketer. And she isn't in the business of selling books, but she has books to sell. Hers is a ministry of spiritual encouragement to the many people whom God brings into her life. For years Leona traveled the world in ministry with her late husband Ted. Now the only way to fulfill her continued calling from the Lord at her advanced season of life is through her books in print and through her blog. Nevertheless, she is reaching the world!


YOU who view her blog and read her books are the key to letting more people know about her books and her blog. Word of mouth is the best way!


Many people have read some of Leona's over 40 published books through the years and are now ordering her 5 new ones just off the press. Her blog receives an average of 2000 views a month from all over the U.S. and Canada and many parts of the world, according to her automatic blog counter. YOU are one of those viewers and YOU may also have read some of her books. If YOU would tell your friends and family about her blog and books, her outreach would double itself quickly.

Besides her newly published books, Leona has written popular books on many other helpful topics to encourage you in the Christian life.  Please tell the people in your life where and how they can order her books, view her blog posts, and where they can connect with Leona personally.


Leona's web page www.goldenmorning.com is under reconstruction and being redesigned to reflect her new books, reviews of all her books, specials being offered, and other interesting features. You will be able to check into it soon.


Her blog leonachoy.blogspot.com is always open and you are welcome to come and see what she is currently writing. You are sure to be blessed as you apply to your own life God's truths she has found.


Leona's email leonachoy@gmail.com is open 24/7 to receive your messages and book orders. She welcomes you to write her about whatever is on your heart or mind--she is a good listener and she will pray for you.


If you want to phone Leona, 540-877-1813 is the number.


You may write to Leona through her GOLDEN MORNING PUBLISHING address: P.O. Box 2697 Winchester, VA 22604

Please help to get the word out!

Leona's Five New Book Releases
for 2017



Three of Leona Choy's previously SOLD OUT books
NEWLY REPRINTED!





Sunday, January 22, 2017

ADDENDUM TO PREVIOUS BLOG POST


I want to clarify my intentions to decelerate the speed of my lifestyle: In automotive terms, there is a time to speed up and a time to reduce speed, even a time to cruise, to maintain an even forward pace. A time to pause, look in both directions and proceed. And a time for a full stop—and a time to park. Traffic signs along the road leave no doubt.


It's the same in one's spiritual life. We should be walking so closely with the Lord that we will discern His signs when to decelerate and when to accelerate.

Last year the Lord made clear that His will for me was for a stated time to specifically accelerate my creative writing and publishing for His reasons, which I didn't know and didn't question and He didn't tell me. I was only to obey. I don't want to slip out from under the Holy Spirit's direction now with any personal decisions based on what I figure is a good idea or what sounds realistic or logical. I sense that His word to me is currently to decelerate in order to renew.


I certainly don't discern that I'm at a full stop in my life calling. I don't want to be misunderstood or to come across that way. One of my good friends referred to my intention to “retire” as “laying down my spurs” in cowboy terms. I don't sense that finality by any means. More of a PAUSE to look in both directions (in this case backward and forward, the past and the future) and proceed perhaps at a somewhat slower pace—but always alert to the Holy Spirit's exclusive right to change my pace at any particular moment in line with His will. I should be prepared to obey His whispers when to speed up or slow down. It's the slower pace that might be a more difficult adjustment for me, certainly a learning experience. Pray for me, please—I'm accustomed to “running” the race of life.


The little chorus comes to mind: “Yes, Lord, YES! to Your will and to Your Way; Yes, Lord, YES! I will trust You and obey; When the Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree, and my answer will be Yes, Lord, YES!” As Jesus' Mother instructed the wine servants at the wedding at Cana, “Whatsoever He [Jesus] says to you, DO IT!” [Implied is=don't ask questions.]


A verse from the Old Testament reinforces my understanding. The second phrase in Deuteronomy 33:25 is commonly translated “as your days, so shall your strength be.” I checked other versions and found the following variations: 
 

“Your strength will equal your days; so may your work be; that your strength lasts all your days, the rest of your days.” And then a couple of versions prove interesting: “according to your days, so will your leisurely walk be.” Another, “As the days of your youth, so shall your old age be” and “Your old age will be like the days of your youth.” And “As your days, so shall be your strength, rest, and security.” There's a lot of gold for us to mine here and exciting promises to reflect on, especially when coupled with my verse for the year, Psalm 103:5. “[God] satisfies your mouth [your life, your years, your necessity and desire at your personal age]with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” 
 

So I'm rethinking the selection of the gift book I'm offering to my friends during the forthcoming Chinese New Year Celebration. Yes, the FABLES OF GOD'S KINGDOM FOR GROWN-UPS will be in the box, but instead of the second copy, I'm going to substitute a different new one which I just published, SELAH REFLECTIONS: Press the PAUSE Button. The latter is much more in sync with the “leisurely walk” I have been contemplating and discussing. You will know when you read it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Leona is “retiring” on Chinese New Year's Day 2017!

LEONA CHOY IS “RETIRING”
ON CHINESE NEW YEAR'S DAY January 28, 2017!
(A Dialogue between Leona—
and herself)

WHAT'S THIS ALL ABOUT?
Leona decided that Chinese New Year's Day would be an interesting and convenient date to begin adjusting her life style to a slower pace.

USUALLY ONE RETIRES FROM A JOB OR SOME GAINFUL EMPLOYMENT.
True. That's why she puts quotation marks around her use of the word “retired.” Leona has not been employed since she and her late husband Ted served on the staff of Ambassadors For Christ, Inc. which they co-founded. That was many long years ago. Strictly speaking, I guess you could say that she has been retired ever since. Everything she has done in ministry has been on a voluntary, non-remunerated basis but she did it with an energy level equal to a paid job. So she uses the term “retire” loosely.

DID ANYTHING SPECIAL PRECIPITATE THIS DECISION?
No. Everything is cool. Just realistic thought and prayer on her part, the fact that she attains age 92 this year (still at her prime!) and that she recently completed writing and publishing the several books on her heart that she believed God nudged her to finish.

WHAT DOES SHE PLAN TO DO NOW?
Probably continue to do what she has been doing most of her life—joyfully following God's will for her as she understands it at each season of her life, and blessing others through her writing and personal encouragement.

WHAT WILL BE DIFFERENT THEN?
That remains to be seen. Leona tends to put pressure on herself. So she plans to try (yeah, I know, Leona has tried to do this before!) to readjust her self-imposed and perhaps over-ambitious schedule. She wants to enjoy in a more leisurely way whatever and whoever God puts in her path each day. And to allow herself more freedom for personal renewal, praying for her family and friends, and of course creative writing.

SO LEONA DOES HOPE TO CONTINUE WRITING?
I can't think otherwise, as long as God keeps giving her generous physical and mental ability at her advanced age. I wouldn't be surprised if another book idea blossomed and she brought it to publication! She believes she has a calling from God from which she does not plan to “retire” or slow her pace. She doesn't want to plateau or drift or settle into a rocking chair as her means of mobility. That's not Leona. More like shifting gears to better climb the upward journey of life. She expects that any gifting she has from the Lord will be enhanced through her personal renewal and more relaxed pace.

SOUNDS GOOD! I'M SURE HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS WILL WHOLEHEARTEDLY SUPPORT HER AND PRAY FOR HER IN THIS ATTEMPT. HOW IS SHE GOING TO CELEBRATE HER DECISION DAY TO START ON HER “MORE RELAXED LIFE?”
Not with fireworks or fanfare, to be sure! 
Since it will be Chinese New Year on January 28th, without doubt she will share it with friends or family enjoying some delicious Chinese food! But she also wants to celebrate by sharing with her blog viewers and email friends some “reading food”!

WHAT DOES SHE MEAN BY THAT?
A Chinese New Year custom is for grown-ups to give “red envelopes” of money to kids on New Years Day.

Leona plans to reverse that custom and give something to the grown-ups! She is offering a special FREE GIFT of one of her 5 new books just off the press to any grown-ups who request it.

WHICH OF HER BOOKS IS SHE OFFERING? 
Appropriately, the title is *FABLES OF GOD'S KINGDOM FOR GROWN-UPS! (This is not a kids' book!) She will mail it to you in a flat rate priority mailing box which will reach you in 3 days. She only invites you to pay the postage for the speedy delivery of your free books which is $6.30 for the 2 books.


Two? Oh, Leona discovered that the standard box is big enough for 2 books and the postage cost is the same as for one! Rather than waste the space with filler, Leona is giving you a second copy also as a gift—one for you, and the other for you to bless one of your other grown-up friends! (Sounds kind of like the TV commercial—“buy one [whatever] and we'll give you a second one free!” But in this case, both copies of Leona's book are already FREE!)

HOW LONG IS LEONA OFFERING THIS GIFT BOOK?
For a limited time during the Chinese New Year festivities. Her offer is good only from right now through February 2 in keeping with the customary prolonged Chinese New Year celebration time. So you have to hurry to take advantage of her GIFT OFFER!

HOW CAN I ORDER MY GIFT BOOKS QUICKLY?
Only one way—email Leona right away with your request leonachoy@gmail.com and give her your mailing address. She'll mail your books promptly without waiting for you to send postage—she trusts that will come at your convenience. She won't hold up the sending of your books.

*This book ordinarily retails for $12.95 per copy.
Payment of postage $6.30 for your free books may either be by check
payable to Leona Choy, 497 Devland Dr. Winchester, VA 22603
or by credit card through paypal.me/Leona Choy.

Don't be scared of the ferocious-looking Chinese Dragon at the Chinese New Years celebration. He is a friendly fantasy beast. Even little Chinese children like him! He is supposed to frighten away evil spirits. Of course that's a fictitious fable. The fable/parable stories in Leona's book have underlying Christian truth!









Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PERSONAL MARATHONS

I spend, no, I invest some Sunday afternoons phoning friends who are running marathons. Not literal long-distance road races of the sports kind, but nitty-gritty life and death daily endurance experiences of suffering, weakness, and pain. Nevertheless, they are “marathoners” in God's “race that is set before us” as Saint Paul described our life journey.



These friends are “running” although they may be immobile. Some are bedridden, wheelchair bound, shut in, hospitalized, confined to residential care facilities, or debilitated in a variety of ways in their bodies or minds. Theirs is not a race of competition with other runners, but one of personal endurance. “Completing the race” and “crossing the finish line” is their goal—not the speed at which they are running their course. Marathoners are not sprinters with a short, intense dash and it's over. A marathon is a race for the long haul. My marathoner friends may not feel themselves a part of a crowd of competitors as if they were running the Boston Marathon. More often than not their course is a lonely one.



These are my hale and hardy friends of our younger days, some of whom I grew up with, worked with, served the Lord with, enjoyed life with. Many of us have been blessed by God with longevity but the running course set before us is not a level one. The daily terrain for some is rougher and tougher and steeper than that of others, with many hills and valleys, speed bumps, potholes, and afflictions physically, mentally, emotionally and of course spiritually. They strain with difficulty toward the Finish Line. In God's eyes they are champion marathoners, close to His heart. I pray for each one that He will send His angelic messengers to assist them in running their difficult course. I pray for the Lord to give them strength to endure. I know He waits to welcome them as the completion of their journey.



One reason that I'm interested in Marathons is that my grandson pastor Ed and his wife Laura will be training, he to run the full Richmond, Virginia Marathon of 26 miles this year, and Laura the 10 mile while dreaming of a half-marathon.“Yay! Go Ed and Laura!” They have 4 young children under age 13 who will be cheering them on. Another reason for my interest is that I consider that I too ran (actually wrote sitting down at my computer) a marathon this past year during a 6 month period (which is kind of close to 26 (not miles but weeks!) to my “personal finish line” of wanting to complete 5 of my recent books...so I think I qualified for a marathon! And I did cross that personal finish line. After all, the dictionary defines a marathon as “any long contest with endurance as a primary factor.”



I did a bit of background check: The original Marathon in 490 B.C. was not a sporting event but a specific news release run of 26 miles by a professional military messenger, Pheidippides, a Greek from the area of Marathon, a plain in S.E. Greece. He was dispatched to carry the news to Athens of the victory of the Greeks over the Persians. (Obviously, no phones, radios, TV newscasters, telegraph, email or texting—just running, probably barefoot or in sandals.) The legend goes that upon arrival he shouted “Greetings! We won! Then he fell dead! Not until 2000 years later in 1896 was the Marathon race established in its modern form and the rules and length standardized at 26 miles or 385 yards. Now there are many variants, among them a wheelchair division. Until 1972 women were not allowed to participate, the race was considered too strenuous for the “weaker sex.” The oldest man to finish was 100 and the oldest woman so far was 92. (Well, this is my 92nd year too! I had to commemorate it in some way!)



An application: The Apostle Paul often uses sports terms in his New Testament letters. We are all running a race. We should run as not to run in vain but to win. And to win means to finish our particular course and cross our finish line—but not necessarily with the most speed or to compete with one another, but to persevere in our faith with endurance until the very end. All who cross the finish line are winners!  



There is laid up for us [in store for us] an imperishable crown of righteousness, (2 Timothy 4:8) not a fading, woven flower crown. We have help from on high—we have “a great cloud of witnesses” in Heaven (Hebrews 12:1) cheering us on—angels and saints, our loved ones who have gone on ahead, those who have won their race and kept the Faith and are now rejoicing in the presence of God, praying for and encouraging us who are still running our unique races.



My Sunday afternoon phone call friends are still running their own races and need our prayers. Suffering people are all around us silently bearing their lonely burdens as they take up their crosses daily. Let's be mindful of them and help them bear their burdens and crosses and “so fulfill the law of Christ,” the law of love. Jesus said that inasmuch as we do anything for the least of these we do it unto Him. *Selah! Let us “Push the PAUSE button” and reflect on that—be quiet and meditate on His words. There are depths of understanding in that promise that Jesus would have us put into action.



*That's the title of one of my 5 new books. The cases with those books have arrived and are ready to be ordered by you! Email Leona at leonachoy@gmail.com



Monday, January 16, 2017

NEVER TOO LATE?

Here's a confession: I recently ran (wrote) this mega-creative marathon of bringing to completion 5 of my unfinished manuscripts in a condensed time period (the last 6 months of this past year). 

I believed it was in response to God's nudge to do so at this time—as a “harvest project,” a thank-offering to God for His multiplied blessings on my writing in the hearts of my readers through their feedback. 

I didn't ask God why or how I should or could accomplish this, but simply went step by step as He gave me so generously the strength, continued mental and spiritual stamina, discipline, and resources to actually succeed to the point that those books have already rolled off the press. And further than my expectations—to reprint 3 more of my books which were sold out but still in demand during the same time period.

However, while accomplishing this feat, I confess that I really did push myself beyond my calendar age and current naturally diminishing strength. I came to realize that while I was running this almost impossible race in my 91st year, I was neglecting myself physically, especially in the area of bodily exercise while succeeding mentally and creatively. My pulmonologist and my other -ologists and medically wise persons have continually reminded me, “if you don't use it, you WILL lose it”—referring to both my mental and physical abilities—and that it might be irretrievable. Nevertheless, I did so willingly knowing that I was paying a price that might cost me dearly in whatever time I had left to serve the Lord in my “earth suit,” my mortal body. I decided to leave that up to God and just do what He impressed me to do.

The harvest was accomplished! All those manuscripts have been brought to completion and I have the cases of books stacked in my home studio and dedicated to the glory of God, waiting to be read. And I have experienced the consequences—fatigue, weakness, and loss of physical stamina after that big push. But I know God wouldn't let me down. At my pulmonology semi-annual appointment (I'm monitored because many years ago my lung cancer surgery left me with diminished lung capacity through the loss of a third of my lung) he gave me hope that IT'S NEVER TOO LATE if one makes a sincere U-turn, repents, and returns to a sensible regimen of exercise—yes, even as a nonagenarian, I can be restored!

I accepted that challenge as a directive from the Lord from one of His medically savvy “wise men.” Moreover, my thoughtful, caring four adult sons, always supportive, surprised me on Christmas eve with their over-the-top Christmas gift—the delivery of a humongous box full of hardware which they, along with one of my capable teenage grandsons, proceeded to assemble into a Model 270 Schwinn Recumbent Exercise Bike! (I had to look up the word “recumbent” and found that it's because it has a super comfortable molded plastic seat like a tractor and a large back rest so I can sit upright, slightly leaning back but able to remain in good posture—not a typical tiny bicycle seat!) The instrument panel looks like the dashboard in an airplane! It measures my heartbeat, pulse, oxygen level, mileage covered, calories, incline, time, goals, resistance, terrain encountered, cool down time, workout schedule—you name it! Weather is no longer an excuse for not exercising daily!

I've named this stationery vehicle my “Harley” even if it goes nowhere. It's the thought behind it! This beautiful, black, user-friendly monster's domain is in the wrap-around-windowed area of my kitchen/dining room where it is never out of my sight even from where I sit in my writing studio. I can bird watch, enjoy the view of the ever-changing seasonal forested area over the valley where I live in my home which I call “Eagle Summit.” My CD player is at hand and I ride to the cadence of classical and sacred music during my workouts. At this point I'm cycling at the kindergarten “tricycle” level because my doctor insists that retrieving my strength through exercise again must be very slow, steady, regular, and extremely mindful not to overdo.

Currently, I'm riding it 2-3 times a day for about 15 minutes each workout and my son, Rick, knowledgeable in this area, is my “personal trainer” and insists that I write down my workout totals. Let's see if the “Never Too Late” adage is reasonable or not to accomplish for one is in her nineties. I plan to give it my best shot!

It would seem that all the above would also apply to our often lax spiritual condition which we have sometimes brought on ourselves by drifting, or “backsliding” as some call it, or by our too busy and overactive but perhaps not spiritually fruitful activity, or from the attachments to sin in our lives, until we realize that somewhere we have lost our taste for a close walk with God and spiritual matters. We might have “lost the fervency of our first love for Jesus.” We can be drawn back into His loving embrace as we pray with David the Psalmist, “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.” Like the exercise example, our U-turn is possible and even more imperative because it is an eternal decision. Our “personal trainer” is the Holy Spirit and His indwelling presence enables our return and the new creation rejuvenation and renewal that the eagle analogy alerted us to in my verse for the year Psalm 103:5.

My Harley doesn't move. But the Lord wants us to press on and make progress spiritually, irrespective of age to keep bearing abundant fruit, to “remain very green and filled with sap” as we continue on the incline of the Upward Way. Shouldn't it be our priority for a daily spiritual workout at a steady pace with the enabling provided from Him? 

First we must return at His invitation to “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you” and thus to repair the broken connections that caused the aridity of our spirit in the first place. NO, IT IS NEVER TOO LATE in God's eyes to recoup and recapture the precious intimacy with the Lord that we might have lost!

Friday, January 13, 2017

PETS OR PESTS?


A few more thoughts about those noisy, nuisance grasshoppers. Primarily they destroy by eating. I can't seem to find a single redeeming quality about them. God used them to get the attention of His people in Old Testament times and then left them, and us, with a positive promise of restoration in the face of impossibility.

In our day and in our lives we also encounter grasshoppers of a personal nature. They come to us in the form of habits that eat up our time, consume our energy, and cause us to squander our opportunities. We may think we can domesticate them and make them pets. At least my best friend Dot and I in our childhood days, probably as kindergartners, tried to do that. We would capture a few large specimens and put them into what used to be cigar boxes back in the Depression era, the late thirties of the past century.


In those days it was common for men to freely smoke cigars, probably imported from Cuba, and they would buy cigars by the wooden box. When emptied, they were great for all kinds of things like holding our crayons, our favorite rocks, baby frogs, and other kid-collectibles. Some people even used the boxes to make homemade guitars.


Dot and I used the boxes for houses for our personal grasshoppers. To this day I remember that I called my hopper King Edward and Dot called hers Habana. My guess is that those were brands of cigars back then! We punched holes in the lids for air and played out our own dramas with the hoppers. We fed them greens, laughed to see their almost human looking faces and watched them “spit” like tobacco. We got emotionally attached to our pets and were reluctant to let them go, although most often they hopped right out of the boxes when we peeked at them.


We can't domesticate grasshoppers. They persist in doing what they do—devour and destroy what is not theirs. We can't make pets out of our wasteful habits however attached we have become to them or to our time consuming, trivial pursuits. Each of us knows what they are in our own lives—the useless things that occupy our days and months and years that we wish could be redeemed. If we believe God's lavish promise, in His love and mercy they can be redeemed!
In my most recent book that has just rolled off the press,
 Psalms of My Harvest, is my poem below: 
Hungry Grasshoppers.”

It wasn't a ferocious monster
of insatiable appetite
that wantonly gobbled up
the best years of my life
and caused me tears of regret
and fears of wasted years,
it was grasshoppers—
insignificant time consumers:
grasshoppers of trivial activity
devourers of hours
chewing up my worthwhile pursuits.

They nibbled noiselessly
squandering my days
posing no early threat and yet
they swarmed and stripped
and crunched and munched
gnawing into my precious time
destroying in their wake
all that they could chew
leaving me in a desolate daze
surveying the havoc
with stupefied gaze.

Can those expired years
be irretrievably consumed?
Are they long gone
through the digestive systems
or irksome insects?

Oh Hallelujah!
The God of the impossible
can reverse the ravages of time!
He Who created can recreate!
He Who made the new can renew
and regenerate! God Who breathed
upon primeval emptiness
and brought forth life can “restore
the years the locust hath eaten”
and MORE!





Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WHAT ABOUT THOSE GRASSHOPPERS?


There seems to be much focus on those insects in the Bible, both literally as locusts (grasshoppers) and metaphorically for the enemies of God's chosen people or for swarms of catastrophes that befell them. It is recorded that God admits they came from Him—He sent them on His people! 

What was His point? It doesn't sound very loving, but God said He was using such things as grasshopper-encounters to bring His people to repentance. God wants us to return to Him—for good and not evil, for a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 “[Heavenly] Father knows best” but we seem to persist in going our own way until some calamity befalls us. Then we start to think seriously.



 Locusts are referred to in a negative way from Genesis and Exodus through First Kings, Judges, Joel, Amos, Nahum, Jeremiah, Proverbs, Psalms, and Second Chronicles with their culmination in Revelation chapter nine. Why grasshoppers? I really don't know. Perhaps to show us that such small things, cumulatively, can cause such devastation?


In the midst of stories about grasshoppers, one shining promise of hope stands out in Joel 2:25 26. “Then I [the Lord God] will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the creeping locust, the stripping locust, and the gnawing locust, My great army which I sent among you, and you shall have plenty to eat and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; then My people will never be put to shame.” How can something that was literally consumed, eaten up, and digested in a grasshopper's stomach still be given back to us? Let's leave those details up to God who is in the miracle business. If He says He can do it, I believe Him.


Other versions of the Bible translate “make up to you the years the locusts have eaten” as “restore to you, repay to you, give you back what you lost, recompense you, and make up for.” Who of us doesn't have some past actions or thoughts that we regret? In some cases literal years have been wasted, years squandered, time and opportunities lost that seem irretrievable, unrecoverable. They are eaten up and consumed. Period. End of story? Not so, according to God!


I'm reminded of Jesus' story of the two brothers and their Dad. In accord with the Eastern custom in biblical times, just as in the present, inheritance didn't get divided until the parent died. The younger son went totally against normal protocol by saying, in effect, “Dad, I wish you were dead! Give me my share now.” Actually, according to Eastern custom, as the younger son he got only a third of Dad's inheritance. Two thirds was always given to an eldest son. Dad must have given him his share promptly too. Dad ended up with nothing. That's why Dad said to the older son, “All that I have is yours.” If they had such taxes in those days, big bro could have taken Dad as his dependent. Big bro could have been having all the parties he wanted. He was pretty rich since his younger brother left; it was his choice to keep diligently working in the field with the hired help. Okay, we admire that, but his attitude stinks. He was jealous and sullen and vengeful. I just hope he treated his Dad respectfully—and his Mom, if there was one living.


The younger son had his own confrontation with grasshoppers. His fair-weather friends off in some non-Jewish country consumed all his inheritance like grasshoppers and then spit him out. God let it happen in order to draw him back to his father's house. He came to his senses, reflected on his sorry condition, and followed a good re-plan: Regret, repent, return. He was received by his merciful, loving Dad unconditionally, reconciled and restored to his family, and it was time to rejoice. Just like the Joel chapter two promise in action and fulfillment.


I'd love to know a sequel to this dysfunctional family story. Or at least an epilogue. Did older bro repent of his sour attitude? Did he let bygones be bygones and shared his inheritance with the younger bro? Did they all live happily ever after? Maybe yes, maybe no. Jesus didn't tell us.


What did Jesus want us to learn? Restoration after repentance is possible and available even after grasshoppers, whatever their true identity, have gobbled up years of our lives. I have experienced such grasshopper-eaten years. God promised to repay, to give back what was lost, to make up to us if we repent. The returns we receive might not be exactly in the same kind. In fact, they will more than likely be better and in greater generosity than what those insects ate and which went through their digestive system.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

REturns on God's investment


“Here you are at nearly 92 still writing and publishing your Christian books. Why would you have written five more new books recently? Why not just REtire?”

I often get that question. I have given a lot of thought to that through the years and I do have an answer. It's because God obviously likes fruit. My books have been a part of my fruit that I offer God. I write to please Him irrespective of whether anyone buys or reads them--although I hope they do!

In fact, God insists that we produce fruit all the seasons of our lives, in season and out of season (Psalm 92:14). Advanced age is not an excuse. He has given us life and gifts and opportunities to bear fruit for His glory. He has lovingly invested these in us and expects a return on His investment. Just as in Jesus' parable of the landowner who planted and prepared a vineyard and then committed its care to vinegrowers. (Matthew 21:33, 34) At harvest he had every right to expect fruit from the vineyard. At harvest God fully expects fruit from us, from me.

Fruit bearing is not optional. If we don't bear the fruits of the Spirit in our personal lives and character (Galatians chapter 5), He cannot use us to do His works. If we produce just a little, He prunes us so we will bear more. (John chapter 15) He is after an abundance: we older Christians are to be “full of sap and very green” (Psalm 92:14) not wilted or dried up. He is after a harvest of thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and a hundredfold especially from those to whom He has given long life and the most investment. We are the most accountable.

The Christian life is not a matter of works for salvation. We receive that by God's grace alone not by our own efforts. Nevertheless, throughout Scripture we are reminded that God will judge us by our works. Our work is bearing fruit. God, who knows our inner spirit, will sort out our works at judgment time whether they have been combustible or indestructible as gold and silver and precious stones. (I Corinthians 3:11-13)


There are many kinds of spiritual fruit just as there is a variety of fruit and vegetables.  God certainly doesn't expect everyone to write books. We are not expected to bear the same kind or quantity of fruit as someone else. Being busy is not the same as bearing fruit nor is it a substitute. It is like the wax or plastic fruit that is displayed on some tables—neither palatable nor nourishing. It doesn't count with God. Neither is quantity the same as abundance. It is irrelevant how many books I've written. We are not to be in competition with other fruit bearers.  

As in Jesus' parable, God has committed one talent to some, two to others, and five to some. (Matthew 25:14) The one talent person is not held responsible for God's investment of five, but only for the one. The five talented is accountable for bearing five times as much. “To whom much is given, of him shall much be required.” By “talent” in the context of the parable, Jesus was referring to money and not a gifting or talent as in a natural ability.

I'm accountable only for myself and what God has invested in me. I want to be a responsible steward. Yes, I'm keen on giving Him a good return. I welcome each new day as one more opportunity to put more spiritual fruit into a “basket” to present to Him. I certainly have nothing against REtirement or REst. Both are good re-words. Both have their place and time. But while God gives me the mind and creative ability and strength and earth-time, I want to work on filling my “fruit basket” to overflowing.

That imaginary and invisible “basket” is an indestructible one because it contains fruit that God “preserves.” Jesus talked about “fruit that remains.” I have sent it on ahead. My spiritual fruit, and your genuine fruit is the only kind that reaches heaven as its destination without rotting or spoiling. It can't be burned up or stolen en route. Here on earth we now have a freeze-drying process but that still has its limitations. The fruit in my basket offered to God reaches heaven immediately and waits in God's storehouse or big freezer or however the angels preserve spiritual things that remain until the judgment.

So—am I still writing now that I've finished these recent books? Of course! My other baskets of fruit have already reached heaven's storehouse. I've taken a new basket and have started filling that up with more fruit. What you are reading here today might be part of a new book!



Thursday, January 5, 2017

Looking for a “makeover”?

I do want a makeover, yes, imagine, even at my advanced age. No, not the kind pictured here, nor the cosmetic kind, nor the fashionable dressing kind. Not even the physical appearance kind although health does relate to it. Primarily the kind of makeover you can't see, the inner person kind. 

It's never too late for that. Most of us are looking for a renewal of some sort which is behind all the flurry of resolutions that are made at New Years. We want to change from "the same old-same old" to some newness and we think we can do it ourselves. More often than not, we fail in the first week of the year. Voila! God is in the makeover business and I want to take advantage of His super-special offer! It's not a limited time offer, however. It is eternal.

I've made it a habit to focus on one concept or “word” each year which will give the rocket-thrust to my life at present. I have discussed that habit often in my blog posts. So I think I discern my “word” on which to focus my thoughts and life for this coming new year. I've been trying to listen to what God is nudging or whispering as His will for my current state and season in life in my 92nd year. 

The idea for my word lies in my blog post for December 30, 2016, An Eagle Tale: Rejuvenation God's Way. Therefore I have chosen as my “word” for the year, RENEW, including all the ways that I can unpack it to express how to live it out in my life. Reflect on that with me in light of the eagle story and my verse for the year 2017, Psalm 103:5 “It is [God] who satisfies your life with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Eagles knows all about senior-bird makeovers and we can learn from them.

The word renew carries with it many closely related definitions which will expand its meaning for me. Renew is an “again” word. The re- prefix seems endless when the dictionary is consulted. In the eagle story rejuvenation is the main point.

First I want to explore the meaning of the word renew: “to begin or take up again, resume, restore, replenish, reestablish to a former state, to make as if new again, to repair, to bring back to the original condition of freshness and vigor, make good any dilapidation, put into good or sound condition as from an injury, damage, wear and tear, decay, to mend, to restore what has faded or been lost.” YES! That's what I am asking the Lord for. From Scripture I understand that is what He promises to do for us and what He expects of us in our summit years—to be “full of sap and very green” (Psalm 92:12-15).

By the time we've lived a few scores of earth years, don't all of us feel kind of like we've experienced the paragraph above and, like the frumpy, worn out eagle in its later years, in dire need of a makeover?
That's what I plan to be working on for however long the Lord gives, trying to cooperate with Him in every area of my life. Not for my vanity or pride or by my strength or achievement, but by His grace and enabling and for His glory.

This is only an appetizer to give my friends a heads-up for what I plan to be about in the days and weeks and months of this year, or as long as He gives me breath and life. Also to invite and welcome you to join me on this makeover journey in whatever way it might fit your season of life and circumstances and needs in Christ.

I want to jump-start us by looking at my year verse in Psalm 103 in the paraphrased/amplified Bible which brings out additional meanings: It is “[God] who satisfies your mouth [your necessity and desire at your personal age] with good; so that your youth, renewed, is like the eagle's [strong, overcoming, soaring]! (cross referencing Isaiah 40:30, 31): “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and the selected young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord—who expect, look for and hope in Him—shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” What great starting gun verses for our journey into 2017!

I find it interesting that various versions of the Bible translate that first phrase of 103:5, “...satisfies your mouth, your days, your years, your life....” that is, bring to fulfillment and consummation whatever you and I need in order to be satisfied, complete, finished and contented.

I'm so eager to unpack other re- words and dig the gold out of them to apply to my life: refresh, refuel, rejoice, redeem, rebuild, recapture, refill, reflect, regenerate, restore, reinforce, etc. I'll certainly have to delve deeply into the verses in the book of Revelation chapter two where Jesus puts His finger on the loss of first love for Him (v.4) which unfortunately characterized the early Church at Ephesus. The folks in that Church had much that Jesus commended but were lacking in one priority respect. By inference we may apply this to ourselves personally. What “heights have we fallen from” (v.5) as the years have passed? His “word” for us is “Repent—change the inner man to meet God's will—and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord]” v.5.

I'm ready for a makeover, a rejuvenation, a renewal in every aspect of my life. Of course it might be costly and not achieved without surrendering some of the attachments of this world to which I have become accustomed. But becoming “transformed by the renewal of our minds” into the image of Jesus Christ is what it's all about, isn't it? (Romans 12:1,2)

On the lighter side, yes, there are some who are not too happy about their makeovers. But I'm not going to go there.