Monday, April 23, 2018

“Wait for YOUR TURN!”

Written for the prompt word "TURN" for FMF Community challenge


When I was a toddler my mother's constant words whenever she took me to the park or when she was teaching me to play nicely with my neighborhood playmates, “Take turns now. Your turn will come.” But children aren't born with an ounce of patience.


My turn eventually did come.


When I grew impatient to start kindergarten like the neighbor children, again I heard, “Your turn will come.”


And it did, of course.


Later, when I was anxious to grow up quickly and graduate and get on with life, “Your turn will come.”


And it did.


I couldn't wait to finish college and get on with planning for my wedding. Yes, my turn came.


And my turn came to become a mother.

Then a grandmother.

Then my turn has come to experience the joy of being a great-grandmother of 13 youngsters.


Now, with God's generous blessing of longevity, I look eagerly ahead for my turn to lay aside my “earth suit” and turn it in for a “space suit” more appropriate for Eternal Immortal Living.


“To everything there is a season,” declared the wisest of men in the Scriptures. “There is a turn for every stage of life. That's the perfect way God designed it.


Monday, April 16, 2018

"WATCH FOR FALLING ROCKS!"

I pray for something now that wasn't on my priority list earlier in my life. “Lord, keep me from falling!”



I didn't have a problem with my balance before. I could literally run to and fro in the fast lane of life. Being calendar-challenged now, compounded by neuropathy, changes the picture. My medical persons warn me not to fall because my “earth suit” is now more fragile and broken bones would be disastrous.



I see a correlation with my spiritual life as a Christian. Some of us solid Rock Christians, when undergoing pressures and trials, have been known to slip and stumble and fall. Due to the length of the journey of life and the weariness of always trudging uphill, some of us lose our balance and fall. 

Sometimes Christians whose life is built on the Rock, who have known the joy of the Lord, as time goes on grow cold and lose their joy. (Luke 8:13) “But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.”



Rather than adversity, it could be prosperity and success that contributes to our fall. (1 Timothy 6:9) “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”



Do we think that we would never fall? Do I? (1 Corinthians 10:12) “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” The apostle Peter, of all people, bragged that although all others would fall away, he would never do so. You know the rest of the story.



Scripture instructs us to look out for ourselves lest we fall. Beyond that, we are responsible to lift up other “fallen rock” brothers and sisters in Christ.



Driving along the blue line roads of Virginia surrounded by forest and rocky formations close to the roadside, I have come upon signs warning “Watch for falling rocks!” Erosion loosens rocks that were once firmly embedded and they tumble down onto the traffic lanes. The fallen rocks become a danger to others, as do we. When we fall, we drag others down with us.



Peter sums it up from his own experience. (2 Peter 3:17) “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked.”



One of the major factors contributing to our potential fallen state is when we have “fallen out of love” with our Lord. In Revelation 2:4 Jesus tells His own beloved ones, “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”



If we have become “fallen rocks,” it need not be permanent. Nor is it a problem only for us in our later years. Isaiah 40:30 “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall.”



God promises to uphold us in our weakness and pick us up when we fall. (Psalm 37:24) “Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.” “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14).




Friday, April 13, 2018

My OTHER authorblog is being birthed

For the FMF writers' prompt word for today: OTHER

I've been working on “OTHER” in a creative way in my blogosphere lately. I've been a blogger for 10 years and although I will continue my inspirational posting there, I'm excited to be birthing an OTHER second blog dedicated to serving Christian writers.

I hope to launch this authorblog in a week or so—I won't give you the link yet because I haven't fully fleshed it out, added the Mailchimp, etc. I'm “aflutter” (pardon the butterfly pun, given the theme I'm using) about its potential and the interactive way I'm setting it up and the services I'm offering to writers.

Below I copy the last couple of paragraphs of my “WELCOME” page as an appetizer. I hope it tastes good to you and you'll come over to visit me as soon as this OTHER blog is flying. Stay tuned!

“For some time I've been sending encouraging writing "Tips"-- suggestions, resources and meaningful writing links by email to writers I'm coaching.

I've used the analogy of writers eventually becoming like butterflies after starting out as caterpillars, going through the quiet, growing chrysalis stage and ultimately emerging to fly freely on their unique beautiful wings. I plan to continue my service of "Butterfly Tips" through my posts on this blog.


The hopeful dreamer, the "wannabe" beginning writer is like the lowly
caterpillar full of potential but hardly aware of what could be coming. All writers start out in that stage but shouldn't stay at ground level. God intends more for you. You aren't meant to crawl forever; you were meant to fly! The main occupation of a beginning writer, like a caterpillar, is to "eat" to build himself up for the next stage by learning his craft, listening to God and moving forward. 

Most writers experience a chrysalis stage where nothing seems to be happening. We feel static and isolated and getting nowhere. Time and patience are needed. We are being formed in the darkness for the surprise that is looming ahead!

With the help of the Creator of this splendid metamorphosis, the butterfly struggles and in due time comes forth from its cocoon. Just so, the butterfly writer emerges from his inertia and takes flight. With much editing and revision he begins to successfully and professionally communicate his message and becomes published. He realizes the potential that God put within him when he was in his caterpillar stage. An awesome transformation!

I encourage you through this new authorblog to pursue your calling as a butterfly-to-be Christian writer. What is your mission, if you choose to accept it? To pollinate your part of the world with the Good News of the Kingdom of God through whatever genre He is giving you.
With God, it isn't a "mission impossible!"

Let's get busy at our computer keyboards so we can bless the world and witness for the Lord through communicating His message as skilled wordsmiths in God's Kingdom.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

THE “HEM OF HIS GARMENT”


What's the story behind sick people pressing upon Jesus trying to touch his clothing to be healed? The passage from Mark 6:56 sent me on a search for Jewish culture and traditions at the time of Christ. 

Biblical scholars tell us that some Scripture translations need more accurate rendering. It was not simply the “hem” of His ordinary garment which the woman with the issue of blood reached out to touch. 

More correctly translated in some versions, it was the fringe, or tassels on His Prayer Shawl. As a Rabbi, Jesus would have worn one most of the time over his ordinary clothing and around His shoulders. The Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all mention this. Definitely Jesus would have worn it when He “went apart alone to pray” or when He taught in the Synagogues. It was called a “Tallith.”

When I was traveling in Israel, I bought a modern one which was quite elaborate. 

A Tallith today is made of silk or wool, usually white, interwoven with threads of blue, gold, and silver. Each color has some significance. The “zizith” are the fringes or tassels of entwined threads at the four corners of the shawl which people were reaching out to touch for healing. Smaller tassels are in series of 10 to represent the 10 Commandments. 

Often a representation of the tablets of the Commandments is embroidered on it, as well as the 7 stick candelabra. Hebrew words from the Torah, for instance: “The Lord our God is one God” and other quotations are embroidered on it. The tassels at the ends are blue or purple and longer than the others. A Rabbi or Messianic Jewish friend could tell us more about the spiritual and traditional significance of the designs.

In the Old Testament in Numbers 15:37- 41 and Deuteronomy 22:12 God commanded Moses to give specific instructions to the men of Israel how certain items should be made and their significance. The tassels at the corners were a reminder to keep the Commandments of God. They became the symbol of Jewish obedience to the Law. Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites in Matthew 23:5 for making their tassels overly long to publicly display their piety while their actions didn’t measure up.

Some biblical scholars suggest that the word translated “tent” in reference to the apostle Paul's occupation to support himself while preaching so that he would not be a burden to those who heard his good news actually means the making of Prayer Shawls. Not tents in the sense of durable cloth sewn together to provide a place of temporary living outdoors. “Tentmaking” was also the occupation of Priscilla and Aquila mentioned in Acts. Jewish society at that time would not have been a ready market for such a commodity as collapsible shelters. 

(Still other scholars believe that Paul and his friends were constructing the temporary booths that were required for the Feast of the Tabernacles called Sukkot. So the jury is still out on the precise meaning of their occupation.)

In Israeli society then as well as now, there was little time alone because people lived so crowded together. Jesus often felt the urgency for privacy, to separate Himself from the crowd, even from His disciples, to listen to His Father. When a Jewish man wanted to pray, he could do so anywhere and anytime by putting his Prayer Tallith around his shoulders or over his head. Immediately, whether there was a crowd around him or not, he was “praying in secret” as Jesus described it. Some suppose that “entering into your closet to pray” could also have referred to creating a private place for prayer by putting on the Prayer Shawl.

These days in our society privacy is at a premium as well. Our cities are crowded and at home we are often surrounded by family members. Friends, work associates, and the general public press in upon us when we are away from home. Quiet time to pray is hard to come by. Nevertheless, we can and should “pray without ceasing” throughout the day whatever the circumstances as the apostle Paul wrote.

Christ indwells the believer. God is always with me and in me by His Holy Spirit. I am never separated from Him. However, some people may find it helpful during their private prayers to use some tangible symbol to make such time special. Some people light a candle. It can be a reminder to approach the presence of God in silence and with a spirit of reverence and awe.

Of course there is nothing magical about putting on a prayer shawl of whatever kind when I set aside a regular time for prayer. We don’t have to use an authentic one such as Jewish men, and women too, use today during prayer. It can be a scarf around my shoulders or a veil over my head as a symbol that I am separating myself from the distractions around me while devoting myself to prayer. 

When Susanna Wesley, mother of 18 children (including her famous preacher and hymn writer sons, John and Charles Wesley) wanted privacy for prayer, she pulled her work apron over her head. Whether she was in the kitchen or the bedroom, her children, even the youngest ones, knew and respected her quiet time with God.

In whatever way we reach out to touch Jesus for healing, wisdom, strength or provision of our daily needs, the promise is “Draw near unto God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) 

No matter what crowd is pressing around us, how our circumstances push us to the wall, how we long for personal space, how much we desire healing and wholeness of body, mind or spirit, we can touch Jesus as did the woman in the crowd. “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them” (Psalm 145:18, 19).


Friday, April 6, 2018

RELEASE THE BARNACLES!


 (For the FMF writers' challenge to write on the word "release.")

BARNACLES are small marine crustaceans, saltwater animals with an  external shell-like covering. They are "attachers." They join themselves permanently to ships, wharves, and rocks, and other marine animals. Clinging to the hull of a ship they can reduce the vessel's speed. The ship must be put in dry dock to have the bottom scraped from barnacles. 

I too am like some ships at sea which are loaded down with barnacles. I'm weighted down, slowed from pressing on to the best plan God has for my life. I confess to unwanted attachments and feelings. I need to release them, let them go!

I unnecessarily cling to offenses against me, real or imagined. They multiply exponentially. I remember hurts and keep the wounds open by reviewing them in my mind. I cling to negative emotions long after the situation is resolved which was the cause of them. I should release these barnacles. I should let them go!

I can't seem to forget events of the past when I was slighted or disappointed, occasions when I was sinned against or taken advantage of. They are barnacles. I should let them go!

Sometimes I, myself am a barnacle clinging to some relationship that is over, trying to resurrect a friendship that should be relegated to the past. There may be people I should allow to leave my life, whom God wants out of my life. I may be holding on to a wrong relationship or an addiction. I should intentionally release it. I should let it go!

I might be holding on to some thoughts of evil or revenge, planning to get even with someone for what he or she did to me. I must let it go!

If I am stuck in the past and God is trying to take me to a new level in Him, I should turn my back on the past, let it go, and let God do His new work in me. If I keep trying to help someone who doesn’t accept or want my help, I should back off and let it go! If there is a particular situation that I am used to handling myself and God is saying 'take your hands off of it,' then I need to let it go!

If I don't release these things voluntarily, God may need to scrape these barncales off. The process is sure to be painful. Nevertheless, I will be lightened to “press on to the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus...” (Philippians 3: 13, 14). The Lord will bless me with a fresh start in a new direction if I allow Him to scrape the barnacles off of my life. 

In my older calendar years I have an even greater accumulation of barnacles from which I need to be detached. No matter what my age or how complicated my circumstances, God is sufficient if I am willing to let them go, release them, detach myself from the “clingers,” forget the past, and surrender myself totally into His hands.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Why Does the Sky Cry?

(For the online writing-challenge--an April poem)
 
One might expect a little child to ask such an innocent, naive question when watching the spring rain fall. Since I am a “forever-child” of my Heavenly Father, He won’t object to my asking the same question.
       A dark, overcast sky with gentle raindrops pattering on my roof and splashing in puddles outside evokes conflicting emotions within me—I feel wistful, happy, yet sad, peaceful, nostalgic, and pensive all wrapped up with melancholy.
 Rain makes me feel both restful and restless.

Sky Tears


Why does the sky cry?

For what has been and is no more?

For what is not and never will be?

For what will be but is delayed?

Does the sky cry from emptiness or fullness?

Or simply because in the cycle of seasons

it is time to cry?

The sky needs release and the thirsty ground

needs sky tears to soften the soil

and prepare for spring:

 the planting, sprouting, birth of life.

The weeping sky and the rejoicing earth

meet in expectancy for the certainty

of growth after the spring rain.


Why does my heart cry?

I don't know why. Perhaps

for all the reasons

of the sky and earth combined

for I am part of that cycle of life

and its seasons.

I seem to be always in transition

always in anticipation

always in passage to another stage.

I too cry from emptiness and from fullness

and for release. Sometimes wistfully

looking backward

and then again pressing

longingly forward.

Sometimes my tears are neither sad nor glad.


Perhaps my tears are the bridge between

the loving decrees of God for my life

those unknown episodes

still beyond the horizon

and the thirst of my earth-heart to know

what they are and what the coming spring will bring

after the planting, after the sprouting

after the births of life that will come forth in me

ultimately 

after my spring rain.