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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Teachable Moments

Joshua’s exhausted warriors stood around him. It was a long day of marching and fighting, but now the battle was won. Now the fate of the five defeated Kings await Joshua’s command. 

It had been quite the day. Five Amorite kings joined together to come against Israel. But Joshua would not be intimidated. God assured him, "Do not be afraid of them; I have given them into your hand. Not one of them will be able to withstand you."

God fought for Israel. He sent hailstones and made a longer day so their enemies would be defeated. They didn’t have a chance! 

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” “He is mighty to save!”

The once proud, powerful kings ran away and hid in a cave. Now they lay at the feet of Joshua. He turned this into a teachable moment for his young warriors. 

Joshua brought the kings out of the cave and had them lay on the ground. Then he told his commanders to put their feet on their necks. He urged his warriors to keep fighting, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight."

They killed the kings, hung them up on trees till evening, and put them back into the caves. Rocks were piled up around the entrance of the cave. 

Now as I read this, I’m thinking, why would Joshua made a public spectacle of the defeated kings? 

Lets consider the past of the young warriors. Their parents stood at the boundaries of the Promised Land and refused to enter. They said, “We can’t take the land. The inhabitants are giants. We are like grasshoppers in their eyes and our own.”

And so they spent the rest of their lives wandering in the wilderness for forty years. And then buried there. No doubt the young warriors heard over and over again, “But we couldn’t take the land. The giants who lived there were fierce and undefeatable!” 

Now they stood with their feet on the necks of the so called fierce, undefeatable giants. They saw them up close and personal. Joshua wanted them to see and know without a doubt that when God fought with them, they were invincible! 

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” “He is mighty to save.”

God is declaring to us today not to create giants out of your problems and the unknowns ahead. Because truthfully they’re not overpowering. They are like these defeated kings underfoot. The enemy is under our feet. We are the ones who are overcomers.

“We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Yes, there will be battles ahead, tough, lean seasons, and strongholds to conquer. Whatever is ahead, God has promised to provide His grace and power. The Lord is mighty to save and He will fight for us. He will do whatever it takes for us to win the battle, to go through as conquerors. Let’s be like Abraham who did not “waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God”. 

He said, “I will give you every place where you set your foot.”  The inhabitants were already doomed before the Israelites stepped into it. 
God had given them the land. They only needed to take God at his word and take it. 

Beloved can I tell you that your enemy the devil is already doomed? 

 “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15

This excites me to no end! Just like Joshua made a public spectacle of the five doomed Kings, Jesus did the same to our enemy when He died on the cross, and then rose from the grave. 

He crushed our enemy under His feet. He snatched the keys of death, hell, and the grave. He sits at the right hand of God, “with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”

Because He so thoroughly defeated and doomed the enemy, we are overcomers. He defeated the enemy for us! 

I hope this encourages you like it did me. I want to leave you with this passage from Ephesians:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rambling Thursdays

Unplugged is a word that has entered my family lately. My son started a Park Ranger job in the panhandle of Nebraska last week. I’ve only been through Nebraska one time and through is the appropriate word as we were coming back from Yellowstone. 

I recall empty spaces and numerous buttes that rose up from the prairie. It was beautiful, but a bit eerie to a midwestern who is used to trees and neighbors within calling distance. 

Well, my son is in the wilderness now and he is officially unplugged. No internet, phone service, and no satellite, not even an antenna TV. He does have a radio, and a landline. It’s all new to him, and he freaked out at first. Thankfully he has a mom who suspected this would happen and sent him with books, yes gasp! Books! 

Anyway, this made me wonder how I would do in his situation. I watch Life Below Zero regularly. I am fascinated with all those people who live off the grid. One woman, Susan lives 500 miles from the nearest city and 80 miles from the closest road in Alaska. 

Now simply living off the grid, might be doable. I love to read, write, do puzzles, paint, garden and other various activities. But if Susan wants to eat, she has to go out and kill it. If my survival depended on me catching a fish, or nabbing venison, I’d probably starve. 

I love to fish, but I’m no pro. I’m just “throw the hook in and if there’s a fish nearby maybe I’ll get lucky”. 

I’ve never hunted anything. Does searching for a Cold Stone creamery on my phone count? I sat with my husband one deer hunting adventure. It lasted maybe an hour until I began to freeze. We ended up at a nearby diner for breakfast. 

The closest I get to unplugged is our company cottage in Southern Indiana.  No TV, or internet. I love it! I always feel so rested and relaxed when I come back home. But there are restaurants and grocery stores nearby too. 

Anyway I took this long trail to wind you around to this latest obsession of mine: Adult Coloring Books 

If I was going to a unplugged place, I would take my coloring book. These are selling like hot cakes. They can’t keep these in stock and it was backordered when I ordered mine. I waited with bated breath for three weeks until the wonderful day it arrived. 

I bought markers from wonderful Hobby Lobby and I have been having a high ole time coloring. So, in closing, as long as I don’t have to hunt or forage for food, yes I believe I could live off the grid. Could you???

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Rambling Thursdays

“May your trials be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing views.” Edward Abbey

We’re going on vacation in a few weeks, and it will be the first time in a car in at least five years. I can see the puzzled look on your face as you try to figure that one out. 

It’s true. We haven’t driven a car on vacation for a long time. Okay, I won’t keep you in suspense anymore. We’ve rode a Harley Davidson on our vacations, and I lived to tell about it! 

The quote at the beginning of this blog reminds me of these adventures. We’ve had some great times and I will never forget them. 

We’ve been to Memphis, (BBQ of course), Niagara Falls, Osarks of Arkansas, the deep south, and a couple of trips to southern Indiana. 

A vacation on a motorcycle is an adventure. But there can be perils beyond your control. Oh the sights, smells and the wind are invigorating. But we’ve felt rain pelting our faces like bb’s. We’ve crept along in stalled traffic, sun roasting us alive. And to add to our riding pleasure, dressed like Eskimos while riding in a 30 degree cold snap in May. 

And what to pack, and how and where to pack it?? Let me just show you this lovely picture to give you an idea of what you are up against...

Now imagine trying to fit this in a motorcycle. You get the idea. 

Okay, maybe I am dramatizing just a bit. But in Louisiana a sweet older woman had a shocked look on her face when we told her we traveled from Indiana. “You packed everything you need on this little ole bike?” 

Yes, we are magicians in our day jobs. And we did pack for a week’s trip in three compartments the size of cereal boxes.  No, not really. But let me tell you, it can leave that impression as you try to stuff that souvenir in, cause you just had to have it!

Needless to say, you pack light. And forget bringing anything back home! It’s all part of the adventure, okay? Take pictures!

Anyway, what a pleasure it will be to cruise in a climate controlled car. Raining? Roll the windows up. Heat? Crank up the air. And Hallelujah, I can bring home plenty of souvenirs! And shoes! I can pack more shoes! 

As you can tell, I am positively giddy about this trip. 

Are you planning a vacation? Ever took one on a motorcycle? 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Let the Weary Rest. Pt 2

I’ve been reading a most remarkable book that has taken me by surprise. “Stepping Heavenword” by Elizabeth Prentiss. It was written in the 1800’s, but the character’s struggles are so relevant to my own today. 

Early in the book, the main character Katy shares her deepest struggles  with her Pastor, “If you only knew what a dreadful creature I am. I am angry with myself, and angry with everybody, and angry with God. I can’t be good two minutes at a time. I do everything I do not want to do, and do nothing I try and pray to do. Everybody plagues me and tempts me. And God does not answer any of my prayers, and I am just desperate.”

Her Pastor answers, “All you say may be true, But God loves you. He loves you.”

She responds, “He loves me. If I could believe that. If I could believe that after all the promises I have broken, all the foolish, wrong things I have done and shall always be doing, God perhaps still loves me.” 

“You may be sure of it”, he says, “Go home and say over and over to yourself, I am a wayward foolish child. But He loves me. I have lost faith in some of my dearest friends and am very desolate. But He loves me. I do not love Him. I am even angry with Him. But He loves me.”

I knelt to pray and all my childish wicked life came and stared me in the face. I looked at it and said with tears of joy, but He loves me. Never in my life did I feel so rested, so quieted, so sorrowful and yet so satisfied. 

Wow! Does it stir you like it did me? Do you work so hard to please Him, to earn His favor? When you fail, (and you will), do you feel as though He is hugely disappointed and can never truly love you? 

I know I struggle with the same strivings and failings as you do. Usually I flog myself for awhile and then He lifts up my downturned chin and assures me that He loves me. It’s the same stupid pattern, yet I replay it. 

And then there is the temptation to appear as if I have it all together. I don’t dare show that I’m weak and broken. So I work hard to impress you. And what is ironic about it, is that you struggle in the same way. Yet, we work hard to maintain the “perfect” status. 

Do you see any rest in all of this striving? No I don’t either. All of our strivings, workings and positioning accomplish nothing and leave us lifeless and barren. 

Truthfully the work has already been done. Jesus finished it once and for all by His work on the cross. I read something recently about rest that stirred my spirit. 

When God finished His great creation work, He said it was good and He rested. To paraphrase, He said, “It’s done. I’ve finished the work. Now my creation can rest in my work, i.e. my beautiful world I made. I’ve given them everything they need and more importantly they have perfect fellowship with Me.” 

Not only was it finished, but it was very good. 

When Jesus said “it is finished” on the cross, the work for our salvation and deliverance was done. And oh, it is so good! 

We look at His work, what has been given to us: The robe of righteousness,   so perfect and flawless. Like the coat of many colors made for the favored son Joseph. We are His favored sons and daughters. It is so very good. 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our sins from us”.  He remembers it no more. Oh “Let the redeemed say so!”

I have peace with God. I am free from condemnation, guilt and shame. He has accomplished this great work. Let us rest in this great work. 

I am beloved of the Father, adopted, an heir of the promises of God. preserved by His grace. Oh, let us rest in His finished work!

I am rejoicing now as I’m writing this. Oh it just stirs my spirit. And I beseech you to let it get into your spirit. 

“You have this hope as an anchor for your soul”. You can settle in His finished work. The Word is your resting place. You are secure. Nothing or no one can snatch you out of His hand. It doesn’t matter what your past was. 

Are you ready beloved, to finally rest?


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rambling Thursdays

Perhaps you heard the inspirational story about the woman who requested to be buried with a fork in her hand. When she informed her Pastor of her funeral plans, naturally he was puzzled. 

She explained, "In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main courses were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, "Keep your fork." It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful, and with substance! So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, "What's with the fork?" Then I want you to tell them: "Keep your fork. The best is yet to come." 

I loved this story, it made me smile and warmed my heart. Especially since I love any desserts, but cake is my first love.  My husband is a pie eater. I like it, but I love cake. Cake and ice cream together are even better. 

I’m also an experienced potluck dinner connoisseur. My church does these dinners quite often. The dessert/food ratio is vital at these dinners. An even amount of both is ideal, but there are times when dessert outnumbers the food. And you know, nobody complains! I don’t know about you, but to run short on desserts would be a calamity. 

I remember as a kid when not having dessert after a meal would definitely  be a calamity. Every dinner or supper was followed by cake, pie, or cookies. And there would usually be ice cream coupled with them. And then  we washed it all down with pop! And oh, the quarrels between my brother and I over the portion of our pieces! 

I shudder now when I think of indulging in such a way now. Oh I might treat myself now and then, but generally I don’t indulge anymore. Now it’s fruit, pudding or applesauce. Hey, I have to keep up my girlish figure, okay? 

I didn’t think about such things as calories or my waistline back then. 

But I do love my cake. Did I tell you that? My husband won my heart in a big way a year ago on my birthday, when he had a chocolate cake made for me. Forget flowers! I had cake everyday of my birthday week and loved every bite! 

So if you were to tell me, “Keep your fork”, you would most definitely see me grin in anticipation. And if you brought me a piece of cake, you’d be my friend forever. 

So what favorite dessert is yours?

Monday, May 4, 2015

Let the Weary Rest

If I asked you, “Do you need rest?” I’m pretty sure you’d say “You know it sister!” I’m sure we would all respond in the affirmative wouldn’t we?

But if I probed a little deeper and asked, “Do you need rest in your spirit? Are you soul weary? Do you yearn for peace in your mind and spirit? Rest from temptations that torment? Rest from carrying that heavy burden you been lugging around?” 

No doubt some of you would probably look up at me and say, “Deb, I’ve been struggling, and yearn for rest and peace. I haven’t known rest for a long time.” 

I get that. I’ve been there. Lately it seems as though the “cares of life” have amped up a notch. I need that rest very badly.

It seems as though we can’t escape it sometimes. Life is full of distractions and cares that pull at us and suck the life out of us. If we let it, it can batter us into submission. Kind of like being in the ring with a relentless boxer. 

I had the privilege of seeing Muhammad Ali in person. He used to live not all that far from us and he regularly visited a local mall with his family. 

We happened to be there when he walked by with his family. I was struck at how large he was. He was one big dude! 

His jabs were lightening quick. During a boxing match, he’d quickly snap that jab in the opponent’s face. It didn’t look like much on TV, but it packed a punch!  He would jab the opponent repeatedly and when the opponent was softened enough, he would throw a heavy hook and pow! Down he would go. 

That’s exactly what the cares of life do to us. They jab and nip at us over and over. It’s a slow damage. Like being in a ring with Ali everyday. If we allow ourselves to succumb to these jabs, it’s not long before we are weakened and battered.

This is how I’ve been feeling lately. Kind of battered and weary. Have you been struggling too? 

Is there a place we can go to for rest? Do we have to get pulled daily into the ring of cares? Will the cares and hassles of our lives ever cease to be? 

I smile as I write this and think, “I wish it could all go away!” But as you know, it doesn’t go away. One worry may resolve itself today, but another one will pop up later in the week. There will always be the toils and cares. 

I read somewhere that “rest doesn’t mean freedom from all nuisances and hassles; it means freedom from being so easily bothered by them.” i.e....freedom in the face of whatever would disturb your rest. 

So I guess there will always be the toils and cares with the lightening quick jabs. But I don’t have to get in the ring. I have a place of rest to go for peace, strength and grace.   

"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose" Isaiah 28:12

Moses found his rest in the tent of meeting. It was his place to meet with God when he needed wisdom, comfort and assurance. And as you know, he needed it a lot! I’m sure he visited that tent many times for a face to face with the Lord. 

It was in this tent of meeting, that the Lord told Moses, “My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.” 

I so love this! Did you catch the great truth in this? My God is the Rest Giver. In His presence is Rest. 

Daily I can enter into my “tent of meeting” to lay down my burdens, pour out my heart to Him, lay my head on His chest, hear His voice encouraging me. It’s a daily entering, sometimes a moment-by-moment entering. 

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Jesus tells me. I know I am soul weary and burdened. Are you? Let’s go into our tent of meeting and have a face to face with our Jesus. He waits for me to come. "This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this is the place of repose" 

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