Monday, April 30, 2012

Sin's Sorrow

Sorrow of King David

Yes, our sins are forgiven, but we can't escape their consequences.  King David found this to be true.  Nathan the prophet confronted him with his sin: and in Psalm 51, he expresses his great sorrow.  A broken heart leads to repentance.   There will be consequences, but God will not, in his economy, waste them.  First time obedience to God is always right; but repentance, forgiveness and a broken relationship restored allows us to still be used for His glory.
Keith Green - Psalm 51 

2 Samuel 12:7-`10 (NIV)
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.

Psalm 51[a]

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love; 
according to your great compassion 
    blot out my transgressions. 
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me. 
Against you, you only, have I sinned 
    and done what is evil in your sight; 
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge. 
Surely I was sinful at birth, 
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 
Let me hear joy and gladness; 
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins 
    and blot out all my iniquity.
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 
11 Do not cast me from your presence 
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation 
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

What I'm Listening To...

"Salvation's Song" by Stuart Townend from his Introducing Stuart Townend - EP.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Jesus is Calling

Mark 1:16-19(NIV)
16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

This is a beautiful sunrise photograph of fishermen.   It almost. . . almost. . . makes me want to fish.   My husband enjoys fishing.   As a young wife, I tried sitting prettily on a rock with a book in hand, while my husband cast his line into a river. Soon, though, the rock got hard, the bugs bit, and my husband was oblivious to my attempted adoration of his sport.   He was happily in his own world, while I finally understood what men feel while holding their wives' packages and purses at the shopping mall.  
It can be hard to leave what you're doing when Jesus calls.   While I could easily leave a fishing boat, I'd find it a little harder to leave an antiques mall.  Sure, I think, it would be easier to do if it was Jesus in the flesh, but the fishermen from Galilee didn't then know Jesus as the Son of God.  Still, they came without delay.   That's admirable, even stunning, obedience.  I want to be that obedient.    Through His Word, He calls me to come and follow Him.  So I'll drop my purse and packages and follow the One who is my Lord.  My prayer is that I'll do it with joy and without reluctance.

Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ. --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Jesus On The Shore - Lost Dogs

What I'm Listening To...

"Everything To Me" by Mark Schultz from his Broken and Beautiful album.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Of Jesus and His Love

"Yes Jesus Loves Me" - Mark Spears

John 3:16(NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

I just spent the afternoon putting together a YouTube slide show for "The Gospel Song" by Sovereign Grace Music.  After assembling pictures of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, I thought how the story never gets old.  Then the old hymn, "I Love To Tell The Story," learned in childhood, resurfaced in my head, where it's been happily looping through my thoughts since.  I found this version by Alan Jackson on YouTube.   Enjoy.

"I Love To Tell The Story " Arabella K. Hankey

What I'm Listening To...

"How Great Thou Art" - George Beverly Shea (1961)

Friday, April 27, 2012

The View Is Great From Here!

Psalm 18:32-33(NIV)
32 It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. 33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.

She bent forward to look, then gave a startled little cry and drew back. There was indeed a seed lying in the palm of his hand, but it was shaped exactly like a long, sharply-pointed thorn… ‘The seed looks very sharp,’ she said shrinkingly. ’Won’t it hurt if you put it into my heart?’

He answered gently, ‘It is so sharp that it slips in very quickly. But, Much-Afraid, I have already warned you that Love and Pain go together, for a time at least. If you would know Love, you must know pain too.’

Much-Afraid looked at the thorn and shrank from it. Then she looked at the Shepherd’s face and repeated his words to herself. ’When the seed of Love in your heart is ready to bloom, you will be loved in return,’ and a strange new courage entered her. She suddenly stepped forward, bared her heart, and said, ‘Please plant the seed here in my heart.’

His face lit up with a glad smile and he said with a note of joy in his voice, ‘Now you will be able to go with me to the High Places and be a citizen in the Kingdom of my Father.’

Then he pressed the thorn into her heart. It was true, just as he had said, it did cause a piercing pain, but it slipped in quickly and then, suddenly, a sweetness she had never felt or imagined before tingled through her. It was bittersweet, but the sweetness was the stronger. She thought of the Shepherd’s words, ‘It is so happy to love,’ and her pale, sallow cheeks suddenly glowed pink and her eyes shown. For a moment Much-Afraid did not look afraid at all.”
― Hannah HurnardHinds' Feet on High Places

Heavenly Father,
You made me to stand in the high places.   Forgive my doubts and fears that keep low.  Help me to trust you in the heights, those places that frighten me so that I miss what you want me to see and fail to go where you want me to go.   Your way is perfect.   I know that is true.   I pray that I will step out in faith on the high places and even enjoy the view. 
"You Raise Me Up" - Selah

What I'm Listening To...

"Better Than a Hallelujah" by Amy Grant from her Somewhere Down the Road album

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bird's Eye View

Matthew 6:26(NIV)
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?

When I look at Google Earth's satellite image of this little house under the weeping willow tree, I find it's nearly hidden by the tree.   I have to zoom in close to even see a corner of the roof that shelters my family.  How big God is and how small I am!  When I'm tempted to doubt and worry, over whether God truly sees me or even cares to look, I just need to consider birds.  God sees and cares for even the tiniest of them.   Surely, He considers me.  He remembers me and He remembers you.  Let's remember Him.

Remember Me- Mark Schultz

What I'm Listening To...

Jesus Culture - "Holy" - Kim Walker

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Lesson From Grandma's Kitchen

I Peter 2:2(NIV)
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,
Hebrews 5:12NIV)
12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Hebrews 6:1(NIV)
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God,

As children, my siblings and I delighted in our grandmother's cat, who was occasionally called "Fertile Myrtle" by the adults in our family.   It was a well-earned nickname.   The seemingly endless litters of kittens couldn't be given away until they were weaned from their mother's milk, and Grandma indulged us in helping them drink milk from saucers.   I don't know about the rest of my siblings, but I know I was guilty of impatiently pushing their little faces into a saucer to encourage them along. 

Are the trials in my life a way for God to wean me off of the spiritual milk and onto meatier offerings?  Yes, spiritual milk is entirely appropriate for those new in their salvation, but decades later it's not quite right for me to be still hanging around the milk bar.  Fertile Myrtle's kittens were highly desirable and always found a home somewhere in our rural community, where good mousers were needed.    Perhaps God wants me out where I can justify being a part of His kingdom through acceptable service?         
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and Christian martyr, wrote about "cheap grace" and "costly grace" in his book, The Cost of Discipleship.
"cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ."
"costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." "

Heavenly Father, Help me to gladly embrace costly grace, and forgive my rebellious spirit so I may submit to your Son's yoke.

Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) - Chris Tomlin

What I'm Listening To...

"By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North from their Over and Underneath album.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Fill 'er Up!

Matthew 25

The Parable of the Ten Virgins
 1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.   6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
   7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
   9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
   10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
   11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
   12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
   13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Early in my marriage, my husband and I owned a small sports car with a gas gauge that never worked.   This is when I learned how much my husband hates to fill up his gas tank and the hope that he harbors that there will be another station up ahead with cheaper gas.   I also learned how quickly I could bail out of my car seat while he bailed out of his, so we could push that car off through an intersection or to the side of the road.   My husband learned you're driving on more than gas fumes, when you have to leave a fuming wife in the car, as you walk with your gas can to the nearest station.   I wasn't a happy camper at all, especially if I had just pushed that car wearing a dress and heels.  A verse comes to mind.  
Psalm 90:2
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Lord, help me to wisely keep my lamp filled with oil, so that I'll be ready for your return, or the hour you call me home.   

"Give Me Oil In My Lamp" a song I learned in Sunday School, is sung with great delight by the children in this video.

By Request...

An image from the YouTube video, "Beautiful Jesus" by Jeremy Riddle

What I'm Listening To...

"Every Time I Breathe" by Big Daddy Weaver

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dancing Before The Lord

2 Samuel 6:14 (NIV)
David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might,

Psalm 98:4 (NIv)
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;

My husband and I enjoyed a jazz concert by the Air Force Band, The Falconaires.  It has had me thinking of my father-in-law, who would have been 96 years old this month if God hadn't already called him home.  I don't know how birthdays are measured in Heaven but I hope for him it was with music.   He would have really enjoyed tonight's concert.   The man loved music, big band and jazz, anything that moved his body and soul.   He also was frugal, being a child of the great depression,  and loved the military band concerts for their quality, the sense of patriotism,  but also because they were free.   I think the happiest I ever saw him was when the Dollar Store had a half-price sale, if that tells you how he loved a bargain.   My frugal husband also loves music, so it's almost a must do when a military band comes to town.   I wonder if he'll now be inspired to pull out his old trombone and play a little music as to the Lord.   This song by Phil Driscoll is probably his favorite of my Youtube uploads.

I Will Dance - Phil Driscoll

Who I'm Still Listening To...

Levon Helm - May 26, 1940 - April 19, 2012, all the way home.

Levon Helm, a short film, "Only Halfway Home"

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Storm Warning

Are you in a storm?  Pray.   If you're waters are calm, pray, so that you may be ready when the next storm hits.   Storms happen.   Christian, be prepared.  Remember who pilots your boat.

Psalm 107:28-30 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven

"In Spite of The Storm" - Patty Green

What I'm Listening To...

"Word of God Speak" by Mercy Me from their Spoken For album.

Presenting The Right Face

I look at this cat and see the face I've made as a teacher to keep a boisterous child in line.   I also see the face I've made as a mother to reverse my child's course of direction.   It's a effective face when used sparingly and out of love.   When it's the only face, however, that others see, it can destroy your testimony for Christ.   My father used to joke about how he used to see how Christians, women in particular, wore long black dresses and their hair in tight buns, and he did not care to be numbered among them.   It's good that God waited until he had a beautiful, young wife who knew how to wear lipstick before He brought them both to Himself.
I do have a great affection for cats but maybe it's better to put on a happy dog face if I want others to know the joy of knowing Jesus.   It's just my late night meandering thoughts as I continue to occupy this little house under the weeping willow, as a contended dog snores on a rug at my feet, while the cat claims the most comfortable place in the room.  I want to be a lipstick wearing,  dogface soldier in the Lord's army.

"When The Saints" - Sara Groves

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What I'm Listening To...

"Wide River To Cross" sung by Levon Helm, called home by God this past week, from his Dirt Farmer album.

The Master's Lesson

John 13:1(NIV)
1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

Jesus, at the last Passover meal, took upon Himself the humble task of washing His disciple's feet, teaching by example to serve one another in love.   I wish I could credit the artist of this painting and say that I love how a goblet seems to appear between Jesus and his disciple, and how we see the water and the blood that was necessary for our salvation.   It is good to take time to remember what Jesus has done for us, to remember how He loves us.
Father, I have purposely walked through that same muddy ground today, forgive me and wash me clean.  

"Are You Washed in The Blood?" - Chris McNeil