Friday, September 26, 2014

REFLECTION

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This is my favorite picture taken on our 2006 trip to Alaska. We were traveling on my type of road. Bill calls them "How do you find these roads?" and I call them "There is no one coming in either direction!" So quiet and peaceful! (You did get the there was no one else on the road, didn't you?) Beautiful! The water was so still the reflection was perfect.

Exactly what is a reflection? The noun means:

~~ the act of reflecting or the state of being reflected

~~ an image; representation; counterpart

~~ the return of light, heat, sound, etc., after striking a surface

This got me to thinking. What would my reflection look like?

This is pretty easy to answer. There would be a face with gray hair, eyes looking out through glasses and --- but the Bible says:

As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man. Proverbs 27:19

What if my heart was reflected onto the water instead of my face? Would the image be different?

Would I only see myself? My thoughts? My actions? My feelings? That reflection would be self-centered wouldn't it?

Would I see the influence of others? Their thoughts? Their actions? Their feelings? That would not be a true reflection of who I am. It would be a reflection of how others want me to be.

OR would I see the reflection of the Lord's glory as 2 Corinthians 3:18 tells us:

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Wow! I sure hope it would be the reflection of the Lord's glory. That is so much better than a gray haired, self-centered, trying to please others woman that might be looking back at me.

Unveiled face -- Lord, tear away anything that covers my face which will stop Your Glory from shining through.

Transformed into His likeness -- Transform me Lord. Change my attitude, my desires, my goals into Your attitude, Your desires, Your goals.

Ever-increasing glory -- Lord, let my Spirit, the Holy Spirit you placed inside of me, ever increase until my reflection is only of YOU.

I have an amazing idea! Look into the lake with me.

Unveil your face.

Be transformed.

Allow your heart to reflect the Lord's glory.

Give your Spirit the space it needs to grow with ever-increasing glory.

Look again. What do you see now?

Friday, September 19, 2014

OLD FRIEND

I graduated in 1964 and finally went to a reunion. MY 50 YEAR REUNION!! Does that make me old? Of course it does! Unless, that is, you just went to your 75th reunion, then I am just a young thing. I was amazed at how old everyone had gotten. Everyone except me. All that gray hair. Or no hair. Wrinkles sprinkled on cheeks and brows. Some have converted feed really well. (You have to have fed livestock to get that.)

Oh! My hair is gray. I call it character, but my face of character has been created by well-deserved wrinkles. And I have converted feed better than some. Is that how they all saw me?

One of the rewards of going was discovering a classmate/friend lived only 40 miles away. At the reunion, we promised to get together. Get together we did. We started talking at 5:00 PM, at a local restaurant, continued talking at our home where we allowed Bill to enter the conversation on a limited basis and finally said goodbye at 8:30 PM. Hard to condense 50 years into three and half hours. The conversation will be continued.

NOTE: Any former classmates reading this can be assured we only discussed good memories. Gossip waits till the next time!

A VERY LONG TIME

Has it been a long time since you visited with God? Have you had a heart to heart conversation with him? To you it might seem like a really long time, but God is eternal

In the beginning God -- Geneses 1:1

David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, “Praise be to you, Lord, the God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Chronicles 29:10

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8

AND during this eternity, God is patiently waiting for you.

Maybe you have tried to hide from God.

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139:1-5

        Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? Psalm 139:7

You cannot hide!

Maybe you have stayed away from God because you thought He would no longer recognize you with gray hair or pink hair or no hair. Or because of your sins.

Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Luke 12:7

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:19-23

Why did I miss going to all the other reunions? I could make excuses, but that is what they would be -- excuses.

Why do you miss going to God? You could make excuses, but that is what they will be -- excuses.

Friday, September 12, 2014

PINTEREST

"Did you see what she posted on Facebook?"   "What about that tweet?"   "She reads what?"   "Did you know that the NSA is reading your emails and checking your phone calls?"
Everyone knows what we are doing these days. We are very open with our pictures, our comments, our lives. BUT do we stop and think what all this says about us? The Bible tells us that we influence others.
1 TIMOTHY 4 (instructions to Timothy): 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 15 Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. 16 Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
PHILIPPIANS 3: 17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.
If someone checked my Pinterest boards, what would they find out about me?
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THEY WOULD FIND OUT I LIKE COLOR.
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THEY WOULD FIGURE OUT I AM THINKING ABOUT A 50TH ANNIVERSARY.
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THEY WOULD LEARN MY FAVORITE FLOWER IS THE WHITE ROSE AND THAT I STILL HAVE ALL MY MARBLES.
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THEY WOULD DISCOVER I HAVE A STRANGE SENSE OF HUMOR.
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When I see this, I want to add the caption: "Do you think the big guy knows we did it?"
NUMBERS WOULD SHOW THIS HAS BEEN REPINED 165 TIMES AND LIKED 22 TIMES.
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And God said, “I am here.  Do you want to talk now?”
QUICKLY IT WOULD BE UNDERSTOOD THAT I AM ON A JOURNEY.
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This long path, in the fog, reminds me of my life journey. I have to trust God that He knows where my path leads. (Because left to myself, I would be absolutely lost in the woods.)
THERE WOULD BE NO QUESTION AS TO WHAT I HOLD ONTO.
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The nativity is so sweet to look at. It held the Baby Jesus. The image of the New Jerusalem is a vision we hold in front of us.  But the Cross. Oh how we do not want to look at the Cross.  Not only should we look at the Cross, we should take ahold of it and hold on securely.
------------------------------------------------------ I picked these pins because they make me look like a really good person. Am I that careful with my Facebook posts? My words? My actions? My deeds? My life? PHILIPPIANS 4: 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. The Bible tells us that we influence others. How do you influence others? And me? Like I said, I picked these pins to make me seem like a great influence. Truth is, more often than I want to admit, I would be an absolutely horrible, miserable, lousy influence on those around me. THE ONLY HOPE I HAVE IS TO KEEP THE LOVE OF GOD BEFORE ME AND KEEP DOING MY BEST TO FOLLOW.




















Friday, September 05, 2014

DID YA MISS ME?

Did ya miss me? Did you even think, "Mary didn't post a blog this week?" There were three weeks in August when no blog was posted. Did ya miss them? Honestly - the answer is you didn't miss my blog.

That is okay. Our lives are so busy that we notice when more things are added to our day or week, but we don't seem to notice when something is left out. Ponder that for a minute.

When a friend calls, you talk to them and enjoy the conversation. BUT - If a friend stops calling, how long does it take you to notice? A day? A week? A month? When do you finally miss them?

Do you notice when a Facebook friend has not posted? When family pictures stop showing up? When there are no likes to your posts by them? Or do you have so many Facebook friends that you just keep scrolling down the screen. When do you finally miss them?

When someone misses church, do you think they must be on vacation? Do you wonder if they are sick when they do not show up the next week? Do you even think about them the third week? How long before you realize that pew has an empty spot? When do you finally miss them?

Our day gets busy and we push Bible study to tomorrow. Many things grab our attention and we forget to pray. We lay our head down and go to sleep. Does God miss us?

I have been guilty of each of these. When it dawns on me that I haven't heard from a friend, I realize I hadn't made time for them either. When that Facebook friend falls away, I realize I had rarely responded to their posts. When I see the empty spot in the pew, I realize the empty pew seems normal. When God seems distant, I realize I had pushed Him out of my days.

Our lives are so busy that we notice when more things are added to our day or week, but we don't seem to notice when something is left out. Were any of these people missing me? Are they missing you?  I do not know.

Was God missing me? Does God miss you?  This I do know. YES!!!

The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty;

he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love,

he will joy over thee with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Be assured, a God that saves you, rejoices over you, loves you and has such joy that he will sing over you will miss you. God will not stop calling you. God will not unfriend you. God will not think the empty pew is normal. When you go back to studying the Bible, when you go back to praying, and when you go back to telling God goodnight, God will say, "My child, I have missed you."

Friday, August 15, 2014

FRIENDS IN LOW PLACES

Our minister was trying out a new toy -- a sound system with karaoke. He said he thought he shouldn't be caught singing Friends in Low Places. I told him, "Why not? It is a great song and it could lead to a sermon."

That is when some of the verses started rolling around in my head. I do have friends in low places, because sin puts you in a very low place. And we are all sinners.

Blame it all on my roots

== If only Eve had not taken the first bite and Adam the second, my roots would be way different.

Cause I've got friends in low places

== These friends are called sinners and the low place is where that ole devil wants us to stay.

Where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my blues away

== Ok. I will have to change this verse to where "the Cross covers" and "forgiveness chases" my sins away.

And I'll be okay

== Yes. Yes I will

I will be okay. You will be okay. Why? Because God loves us enough to send His Son.

SIN

We are not walking around in the Garden of Eden because of sin. It started with just a small sin. Taking a bite from that pretty fruit on just one tree. NO. It started with the not so small sin of disobeying God. It went downhill from there, but God really did want His children to walk the straight and narrow.

First God sent prophets but His children did not listen to them and even roughed them up. People were out there doing all sorts of things. Worshipping other gods. Sacrificing children. Breaking those silly Ten Commandments. The Priests were in it for stature and power. Yup, a lot of sinning going on. Really big sins. Sins that required a big, larger than life sacrifice. God sent His Son.

Today we don't hear much about sin in church. We hear about a loving gracious God. And He is! Also, it seems we get caught in the trap of, "Well, of course I am a sinner. But I only do small, little sins. It is not as if I have ever done a big sin. I am not like (fill in the name) who has (fill in the sin)."

News flash! Sin is sin!!! Jesus came, suffered, died and arose for the tiniest sin each of us commits. Jesus came so we - you, me, and them - have a way to overcome sin. Without Jesus and the payment He made for our sins, we for sure would be with our friends in a low place.

A low place that gets very, very hot.

Friday, August 01, 2014

A LESSON TAKES A TURN

The lesson, for our adult Sunday School class, was based upon Matthew 20:17-19:

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

I teach this class and I had studied the commentary. I had looked at the notes in the study Bible. I was ready and thought this would be a quick discussion, so I was also prepared for the next section. How long can it take to discuss three verses? Besides, this was the third time Jesus told the disciples about what was ahead of him.

The discussion started out with: Why had Jesus only told his disciples? (He was preparing them. Getting them ready so they would understand and be able to carry on. Jesus wanted them to realize this is what he came for.) Why hadn't he told everyone? (Really strong believers would have tried to stop these things from happening. Those new believers might have been scared off. Afraid of the trouble that was to come.) It was at this point that my mind went absolutely down another way (Not a bunny trail, but a full blown, paved, ten lane interstate). It was at this point that the lesson took a major turn.

I asked the class, "How many of you like to talk about death?" Followed with, "How many of you have talked to your children about your death?"

Those questions were followed by a you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silence. Until, I asked, "Isn't that what Jesus was doing? He was preparing his children for his death? Shouldn't we do the same?"

There was no quiet after that! It was close to being one of the best discussions our class has ever had. We talked about how hard this can be. Our children do not want to face the fact that their mommy or daddy will die. We talked about ways we can make it easier for them by making our funeral arrangements and making sure they know what we want.

We laughed about places where they now have "drive-by" viewings. One lady said if that was to happen she wanted a sign that said, "Do you want fries with that?" They all nodded, with compassion for the funeral director, who sent my obituary back three times for revisions. No, I did not revise it! If I have to pay to put my obituary in the paper, it will say what I want! (Yes, I can be stubborn. Just ask Bill.)

We were serious when the question came up, "Do you know what your children want if they were to die?" No parent wants to face the fact that their child might die first.

Often, in the middle of a lesson, an idea will fly right into my heart and I trust it is there for a reason. This idea absolutely changed the way our class looked at these verses.

Jesus was preparing his children. We should prepare our children.

Jesus was also preparing himself. He was acknowledging that the end was near. That he would die. We should prepare ourselves. We should look at our life to make sure we are not leaving important things undone or important words unsaid. We should prepare because we started dying the day we were born.

Jesus knew where he was going. That is the biggie question. Do you know where you are going? Do you think that life has been grand and the casket will be comfy? OR Do you know you can be with Jesus -- eternally?

Jesus prepared his disciples. Jesus prepared himself. Are you allowing Jesus to prepare you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back and take you to be with me

that you also may be where I am.

John 14:3

Friday, July 25, 2014

REASSURANCE

A few months back, I posted this picture on Pinterest, with the tag And God said, "I am here…..."

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This picture continues to be repined and it makes me wonder why it touches so many people. Does it take their breath away like it did mine? As they gaze at this picture, does their world seem to spin a bit slower?

This young woman is alone but does not appear lonely. She is not looking around as if she is expecting someone to join her but instead is enjoying a quiet moment. She is calmly making ripples with her toes, yet her reflection is clear. And the tranquility is complete.

What story could this picture tell? A great writer would take you back in time and have you slowly proceed to this moment. Each page revealing the passion, the struggles, the joys of her journey. And as you closed the book you would be reassured of this young woman's future.

REASSURANCE

Reassurance: something that is said or done to make someone feel less afraid, upset, or doubtful

There are days when I do not feel calm and life for sure is not tranquil! There are days when I would not be sitting on that log with my toes in the water making nice little circles. I would be splashing my feet and saying, "Really God? Again?" Those are the days when I need reassurance. When I need to find a way to feel less afraid. Less upset. Less doubtful. Days when I need reassured about the future.

Those are the days when I need to hear God say, "Mary, I am here…..."

God is here. He is all around us and His word is waiting to calm us. To sustain us. To take away our fear. His word is waiting to fill us. To give us faith.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen me with power through his Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that being rooted and established in love, I may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within me, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen Ephesians 3:14-21 (made personal)

GOD'S REASSURANCE

God is here. He is all around us and His word is waiting to calm and sustain us. Seek the Lord so He can deliver you from your fears. Allow His Spirit to fill you with hope and faith.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13