The human mind cannot fully discern the ways of God, indeed one who would claim to grasp even a small understanding of His existence would likely be viewed with a quizzical eye. It would be as the foolishness of one lifting a grain of sand from an ocean floor, analyzing that speck and claiming then to have full understanding of the seas of the world.  Profoundly did Isaiah note in 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

From my WIP Dream Shards
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In Consideration of Eternity

“Jerry is dead,” he told me, then a few minutes into the conversation my son Michael began crying. Jerry was his beloved neighbor, and during the night, just hours after Michael had visited with him, he unexpectedly died. Mike was devastated. As far as we know, Jerry had not made preparation to meet his God.

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“I’m so upset.” Michael could hardly speak for crying. “Maybe I should run through the streets of Lake Havasu reminding people to get ready to meet God.” But no, we agreed, that would be unlikely to effect anyone’s salvation.

Over the last few hours I’ve considered the conversation at length: It has caught anew my regard of eternity. It has caused me again to think of Scripture, God’s holy word; its infallibility, its verity, its absolute judgment, its happy message, and its grim reminder.

20150210-untitled (11 of 12)Eternity is sure. Where will I be? Where will Bill, our next door neighbor, spend eternity? Your friends, family, neighbors? . . .mine? where?

…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

Hebrews 9:27

 

 

Of Light

The words and the concept burned within me as I went about my routine activities this morning. Not being sure of the exact reference, I opened my Bible to its beginning pages, and found the verse in mind to be the 4th one of Genesis chapter 1.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Confusion lurks inside darkness, indistinct barriers and thorny walls, unknown ways, perhaps of chasm or of buried embers. Danger nudges against me, and I peer through the black, then with my hands tear aside the inky grit and film. Stock still now, for I find my unlit efforts to be in vain, I turn my head to search the light. A glint flares tiny in the distance, and to that point I make my way.

God knew the perils of the dark. And did He create the earth “without form, and void” with “darkness (being) upon the face of the deep,” or as some think was there a cataclysm between verses 1 and 2 . . .so that He must now separate dark from light? I don’t know. I know little except that my verse today is that God said the light was good.

I need light today. I need light in my spirit, and in my emotions; I need light in my everyday walk about the earth, in my decisions, in my ambitions, and in my dreams. And as darkness lay on the face of the deep, no line drawn between earth and sky, no hinge to connect the two, and as God spoke: “Let there be light,” and there sprang light, a separation, a divine intervention, let such be so in every facet of my being. Today and forever.

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Abraham dug them; life-giving wells that bubbled up pure and invigorating. And then he died. The Philistines eyed their chance to hinder God’s people, and into the bracing stream they threw stones and debris and trash, the filler mounding ever higher until finally the flow was a trickle, then merely an ooze across the top, then there was nothing. But hang on! Underneath the stuff, the junk, the sin, God’s water was sure, was still cool, was still invigorating, was still necessary. It had not lessened, had not receded, had not been quenched.

The sheep lay panting.

One day Isaac walked by a stopped-up well. Ho!, this cannot be! And that godly man began digging. He threw out the stones, the trash, the debris, the sin, the carnality. He re-dug the well, and then another, and another.

The sheep drank . . . and lived.

Praying today for shepherds. . . and for the sheep, thirsty sheep, needy sheep . . .who look with trusting eyes to their shepherd.

Genesis 26

God’s Unstoppable Church

The Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Church transcends denomination, organization, or fellowship. The Gospel is supreme, stands on its own, and extends beyond culture, tradition, or man’s acceptance or rejection.

Yesterday morning Jerry and I attended The Lighthouse in Yucaipa, pastored by our dear friend Patrick Garrett and his remarkable wife Holly. Growth is evident there, Apostolic worship was apparent, and Brother Garrett preached from the Word of God. The Lighthouse is associated with the Worldwide Pentecostal Fellowship, commonly referred to as the WPF.

At 5:00 last evening, I settled myself into a comfortable chair here in my dining room, a cup of coffee beside me, and tuned in by computer live streaming to The Anchor, a church in San Diego pastored by James Larson and his talented and sweet wife Joni. The Anchor is associated with the United Pentecostal Church, commonly referred to as the UPC. A powerful move of the Holy Ghost unfolded, for as I watched, an associate pastor, Brother Sam Gutierrez, pushed past what seemed to be the “order” of the service, and called the congregation to an extended period of worship. Then followed the scheduled preacher for the evening, Youth Pastor Ron Boling, who was so moved in his spirit that he set aside the message he had planned for the evening, instead encouraging the congregation to continue in their deep worship. Several minutes into this distinct time, Pastor Larson took the microphone and said he believed Brother Andrew Buxton, a lay-minister, had a word from the Lord. Brother Buxton took the pulpit and spoke in a powerful way for 20 minutes or so.

Recently, in Tulsa, OK, the WPF concluded its national youth conference named PEAK. Last week, in Louisville, KY, the UPC concluded its national youth conference which it refers to as National Youth Congress. More than twenty thousand persons attended this meeting which some referred to as perhaps the best conference they had ever attended. One minister who attended PEAK told me it was an outstanding meeting. I have not been able to determine the attendance there.

In Gatlinburg, TN, on September 4-6, the national conference of the WPF will convene. On October 1-4 in St. Louis, MO, the national conference of the UPCI will convene. (There are other apostolic organizations which have similar meetings with similar results, but I am only closely acquainted with the two I have been mentioning, thus my use of them for this discussion.)

So, Apostolic youth from across the country have recently been invigorated as a result of their national conferences, and in early fall both of the aforementioned organizations will gather from around the world to do their required business and to encourage and prompt each other. Propagation of The Gospel is the theme of these meetings. It is a precious thing, and of little matter is the flag under which God’s full Gospel is preached. . . “Unstoppable” is God’s church, Andrew Buxton said last night.

………And so it is.

Does Form Matter?

A few hours ago, I had a provocative talk with a young man who just attended a major youth meeting of an Apostolic group. He was very disturbed to observe that on the platform where sat many ministers, only one person had a bible. They had phones that had bible programs on them, and the scriptures being discussed were projected onto a large screen. So, in one sense they possessed bibles. From the platform, one minister actually read scripture aloud from his phone screen. Anything wrong with that?

Does it matter the form? Is there anything significant about holding in our hands a book that says Holy Bible as opposed to reading the same text on a computer screen, a telephone screen, or a projection screen?

I’m very interested in your opinion.
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It greatly pleases me that this photograph I took last year has been viewed more than 6000 times. There are still many people who cherish and value the Holy Bible.

Chickadees And God’s Sure Word

Jerry spied them first. “Chickadees building a nest in our wood box, Shirley.” Through our bedroom window he pointed, and silently I watched. Thoughtful, I studied the activity of those tiny birds–the encouraging, faith-building, peaceful, comforting activity.

As we muck about political waters, as we dither over church organizations, as we dash from place to place, as our carriage jostles in the street, a carriage into which we pump costly gasoline about which price we as one grumble, God remains steady. Sure. Unmoving. Unchanged. Perfectly dependable. Unflappable. On schedule.

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26

Why did the nest-building of a tiny chickadee interest me this morning? Why did it comfort me? Why did I stare long through the glass in my bedroom? I stared long and was comforted because I recalled the Creator of that tiny bird. I remembered Scripture that speaks to that moment this morning, and it was good. For despite our unease, despite our fretting, despite our questions and our uncertainties, God IS. His Word IS.

And that little bird, innocent and unknowing about her Creator, flits about doing what she was “born” to do, and God sees her and knows about her day. Isn’t that the greatest thing! And if He knows and cares about her, He certainly knows about You–an everlasting soul–and He knows about me.

I am comforted by such knowing.

Moved By the Holy Ghost

“I had my hands in sink water when it happened,” he told me. “I began to tremble and knew something unique, something unexpected, was happening. I left the bathroom, sat on the edge of the bed, and picked up my phone that I use for making notes. I began to write, the words tumbling from me, rushing as a river.”

Those were the words a person very close to me related two days ago. “May I send the entire piece to you?” he asked, and when I read the long poem, I began to weep, recognizing that God had spoken to my loved one in a powerful, personal way.

Under an unction from God, the Bible was written by men–prophets, kings, evangelists, and apostles. “. . . holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 1 Peter 1.21. The Bible is complete; nothing is to be added, nothing is to be removed. Yet it is hard to imagine any sincere Christian denying that God still speaks to people–sometimes in profound and direct ways. Holy men today are moved by the Holy Ghost; such anointing and revelation is of the Divine, and one trembles in its manifestation.

I am aware of several such occasions. I recall once many years ago that my husband came in the house, leaving the lawn mower he had been using, and sitting down to write a message that God was giving him. Jerry is a great speaker, but is not known for his writing abilities; indeed, he will say he finds no pleasure in such exercises. But the Spirit of God moved on him that day, and he wrote. On other occasions, God has spoken specifically to Jerry, one of which I will relate here. The incident was when God was letting Jerry know it was time for us to resign our church in Garden Grove, CA. and to assume the pastorate in Rialto, CA. Having absolutely no knowledge of impending change, he dreamed that Pastor Murray Layne was resigning the church in Rialto. The dream was so vivid and its effects so gripping throughout the next day that, although feeling awkward, he called Pastor Layne. Pastor Layne was stunned, and believed Jerry to be teasing him. He has just been elected pastor in Mesquite, TX. (The details of this scenario are found in my book, Road Tales.)

It never fails to impact me when I learn of God speaking to someone in a way that would be difficult for anyone to dispute as being supernatural. Such experiences graphically remind me that this life is but a moment. In a second we will be gone. Reality is unseen and of the Holy.

Recognition of His Place

He was alone. The night hours arrived; the man looked about for a spot to rest, saw a likely place, and stretched himself on the ground. He would spend the night here. Quickly he fell asleep, and then began the dream.  It was a majestic dream, one that would forever change the life of the young man. A tall ladder set in the earth extended into the heavens with angels flitting up and down. At the very top stood the Lord who spoke to Jacob, “…I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac…”

It was a strange place for such an encounter, an unusual setting, and when Jacob had settled himself onto his stone pillow that black night, it is unlikely that he was anticipating a remarkable visit with God Almighty. Indeed his later words in the text indicate his surprise at such an occurrence. For in that solitary wilderness on the road to Padanaram as he made the trek to find a wife, God shook Jacob’s world with the startling words:

“And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”

Genesis 28: 14-15

No doubt with a jerk and with a pounding heart, Jacob woke from his sleep, the vivid dream reverberating in his head: He sat upright to declare, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.”  I didn’t know God would be here, had no idea. He looked about at this most unlikely of places, where little thought or idea of God’s spectacular presence would be anticipated, stunned at the vision, at the promise.

What a lesson is ours today. It may be in a youth service with a tender-faced boy who struggles through his first sermon or in a Sunday school class or around a dinner table or on our couch in a dark hour before dawn or in a hospital waiting room or in a mid-week Bible study group that doesn’t seem at all spectacular—it may be in any of these simple places where God will visit us, where He will draw us aside, and where He will whisper into our ears the Promise, the Plan.

Let us be aware. Let us listen…for we too may walk away and say with Jacob, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.”

Pots and God’s People

“Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold:” Psalm 68:13

During Jerry’s teaching yesterday as I followed the scriptures he announced, my eyes lighted on this verse, whose meaning at first blush was obscure enough that I made a mental note to examine it further. So as I took up my Bible early this morning, I turned to these pages.

Somewhere during the past couple of hours as I studied, the scripture that follows was referenced, and when I turned in my Bible, I saw I had (in jest, I hope) written on the margin, “Men can’t wash dishes.”

“I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots.” Psalms 81:6

Relax, all you women out there. I absolutely do not believe God is saying that men can’t wash dishes. Indeed, I am quite sure of it, for that just cannot be a godly principle, so follow along here and take a look with me.

The writing of this 68th Psalm is ascribed to David and was designated as a prayer during the removing of the ark. The entire Psalm is a magnificent piece beginning with the powerful words: “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered:” and continuing with holy praise and joyous words of great honor to Jehovah. Then pops up verse 13, our scripture of emphasis, and all that talk about the pots.

Pots? What about pots? We had lien there? We belonged there? What are you speaking of, David?

During David’s life, the Israelites who at one time were bond-servants and had greatly suffered at the hands of their Egyptian oppressors, had taken on a new face, and were set to become one of the most prosperous kingdoms in the known world. Recall that miraculous night when at the specific directions of God, Moses led from captivity three and one-half million people. Military tacticians refer to this as an impossible feat, but because it was God-driven and God-ordained, the Children of Israel with historical class escaped completely from their captors.

In David’s song here, he reminds them of their former desolation, their life among the pots, their designated place among the rubbish; a people who were stripped and despised. They were broken vessels, dank, discolored and fit for little.

And so it is with us. From the blackest of sin holes and the dankest of dungeon have we come. From hopelessness and fear, from fisted hands that cupped idols of stone and wood and from warped minds that nurtured totems of the psyche have we staggered. From despair and addictions, from lying and cheating and immorality have we moved. From bent Pharisaical ledges and rusty judgmental bluffs have we descended. No longer is our place among repugnant pots, lowly shelves or backyard stables. God has delivered us, has moved us upward. Our chapped hands have been lifted from the pots.

An elegant metamorphosis has swept us so that we are as silvered dove wings; dove wings of such value as to have been brushed with purest gold. And the pots? What came of the pots? Those obscene filthy vessels over which by evil force we labored have been cast away by God Himself, and are now but a dull and distant memory.

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