Tag Archives: John

GOD IS SO GOOD

Almost every morning there is a song singing in my head when the last dream ends and daylight starts to filter between my lashes. The thing is – it is always a surprise. Old hymn. Opera aria. Childhood ditty. Praise song. Show tune. And sometimes – something that I don’t recognize at all but leaves a trace of tears in my heart or on my face when I have to give into the urge to wake up.

Logically, I think it must go back to when my mom used to wake me up. It was a rare day when I didn’t have hear her singing somewhere in the house as I kicked the covers back. And – if I wasn’t up on time, that “red, red robin would come bob, bob, bobbin’ it’s own sweet song” , close enough to my ear to chase any remaining dreams completely out the window.

“God is so good…”

The past two mornings, it has been this song. Over and over and over. Popping up throughout the day, as if begging me to notice something – and usually – there was something to notice. A convenient parking spot. Strangers in a hospital waiting room. Golden leaves reflecting a setting son. Grands sharing with each other something special just between them. A headache from getting the flu shot (I always get one when I get a flu shot – sigh). A Hubby sitting by the outside wood stove on a beautiful Fall evening.

“God is so good…”

When the kidlets were little – when we took long drives to MI to pick up big brother and on the way back – we usually had tapes going in the car. Wee sing Bible songs seemed to be a popular one because I still remember most of those songs, AND I replaced that cassette more than once. As they got older the music changed, but for a long time that cassette stayed in the car’s side pocket. When we moved South, I even found one stuck in the corner under the basement stairs (which is a whole ‘nother story for another time).

“God is so good…”

It is 8 more days till the election. My eyes and head hurt. Post nasal drip is yukky. The news is worse. Another school shooting in NC. Politicians blaming each other. A child missing. 18 US volcanoes considered high threat. Earthquakes shaking from the spiritual into the physical. Chaos seems to be shouting from the rooftops in all directions.

And yet – I hear that childish voice on the Wee Sing Bible songs continuing to sing in my head. A whisper of a song that reminds me there is more to this world than what our physical ears and eyes perceive. A reminder that we are His children singing a song to Him with our lives – with the choices we make – with the love that we share with each other. We just have to remember the song and sing it back to Him who sang it to us first.

“You’re so good to me.”

“You are from God, children, and you have conquered them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 Jn 4:4

If you want to hear the song in my head – jump ahead to about 53 minutes in this link. 

 

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DAYS TO REMEMBER

One of the younger Grands had a “family” b-day today. Her actual b-day is tomorrow when she will – officially – hit the double digits for the first time. Confetti balloons. Slime, slime everywhere. Legos here- there-underfoot. Rose water sprayed and re-sprayed. Robot assembly then robot drawing tablecloth designs. Ribbons on packages – ribbons on ponytails. And – ice cream cake to add even a little more sweetness.

 

Truth be told – these are the days to remember.
 
Remembering is one of the things I love about the Jewish and Christian faith. The Bible is full of stories; timeless stories that tell – the good and the bad – the ugly and the poetic – the historical that reaches into the present and even further into the future.
 
The first day of the Jewish festival Sukkot has just ended. It is a week-long festival (you do gotta love a group that know how to throw a festival that lasts for 7 days – full of joy and food). Days dedicated to remembering – remembering the times spent in the dessert – remembering eating food G-D provided and of living in temporary shelters – remembering their mortal heroes who led them through treacherous times and taught them to pray throughout all their days and years – remembering the Father who is always faithful to answer the tiniest of prayers.
 
“Your WORD is truth.”~Jn 17:17b
 
Abraham, father of the faith, walked out of his tent in the morning – before he opened all the sides of that tent to welcome the world – he bent his knees and welcomed His Father – Abba. Gratitude for waking up – gratitude for the new day – gratitude for the storms that may splash enough water into his boat and scare him beyond what he thought was possible – gratitude for the joy of hearing Abba’s voice – gratitude for a Father that will tell the wind to hush and the seas to be still because HE is always in the boat with with His child. (Matt 7:24-28)
 
Those are days worth remembering.
 
Treasure chest days.
 
Festival days.
 
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
 

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching,”~Matt 7:24-28 

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BOOM

So let’s re-cap what happened in the last 24 hour period before I fall asleep.

BOOM!

A car was hit by a big, ol’ truck (whose brakes failed) which forced the truck to burst through a wall of a new school. august 13 2018k

Emergency workers gathered.

Traffic backed up.

Neighbors – teachers – preachers – ordinary people – all gathered in small groups in the parking lot to watch, to talk and to pray.

Officials also gathered, and bright yellow signs of 
“condemnation” were hung.

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”~2 Chron 4:14

Engineers. Construction workers. Landscapers appeared on the scene.

august 14 2018 jPlans sketched and approved.

A car driver – still a little broken – was discharged from the hospital to heal at home.

Late into the night the people were still there.

Clearing. Building. Salvaging. Praying. Yawning.

While the uninjured-but-shaken truck driver sat in a school plastic chair under a tree on the lawn, keeping watch over his truck, people sought him out. They brought with them what comfort they had to offer. august 14 2018 e
Food. 
Small talk. 
Prayer. 
GRACE. 
Last night, the truck driver accepted Christ into his heart and the Shepherd found one of His own in the dark of an overcast sky.

By the time the sun’s rays pierced the final vestiges of the twilight, all the “condemnation” signs were gone except for one tiny wing that would take just a little longer to mend before it could fly again.

And BOOM!!!

Just like the initial one that started last night’s wave of destruction another BOOM rocked this building. That is the way miracles sometimes work on this barren plot of ground that we call life. A Father’s finger pokes into the dark dirt of our lives to allow His GRACE to grow something new. Sometimes that poke becomes a stick of dynamite – AND BOOM!

Then the Son plants a seed – perhaps the size of a mustard seed – in the heart of a pastor – who in turn plants it in the hearts of his elders – who in turn plant it in the hearts of some educators – who in turn plant it – tonight – in the hearts of families and students who attended the first GCA Open House.

And tomorrow?

GRACE Christian Academy will open its doors – on time – for the first day of school. Papa God is like that. He is faithful in all His promises for those who work together, humble themselves and pray. Praying through the darkness. “Be-attitudes” in action – on earth as it is in Heaven while the Shepherd smiles and the Holy Spirit breathes in our ears.

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”~Jn 1:14

Great is His Faithfulness! [personal images]GCA_HD_Logo-01

BLESSING OF A BITTERSWEET DAY

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”~A.A. Milne

Back in the day when all I had was a room, a bed to sleep on and miscellaneous things that made me smile, I collected quotes. This was before the days of easy access to quotes, so they were clipped or handwritten from of magazines, books, or songs. I taped them to whatever thing that was handy, the wall or even the boards that served as my make-shift bookcase with the help of some bricks.

When my dad died, I was 19 and this was one of the quotes that was taped to his picture that I kept close to my bed. As is often the case, the quote disappeared from the picture, but not from the memory files in my head.

Blessings are sometimes hard to find when the heart hurts from loneliness. Yet, that is exactly why this quote has stuck with me for such a long time. However, unlike A.A. Milne, I’m beyond lucky – I am blessed.

Blessed to have had a father that taught me the love of our heavenly Father. 
Blessed to have watched the great love affair between him and my mother – loud fights and car rides full of harmonizing songs – included. 
Blessed to have watched him work a full day in a factory and still find time to be a boy scout leader for the son he adored. 
Blessed to have him for 9 more years with him after his initial heart attack.
Blessed to have had a long telephone conversation with him the night before he died.
Blessed to have him serve as a heavenly guardian for my children and father-in-law on this day 24 years later when a car accident occurred.
Blessed to be the daughter curled into his side.

Bittersweet days are hard ones, but they are also blessed ones. I sat outside and watched birds flock around the feeder. I listened to some music that reminded me of my childhood days. I kept busy trying to learn a little more about the Heavenly Father. Fussed with the new mantle that reminds me of the one in my childhood home. Then I pulled out the piece of his old hammer and traced the carved letters with my fingers. Mom had cut this piece from his hammer after he died because he had carved his name in it. She kept it in the night table beside her bed, right beside the needle holder he had bought for her long, long ago.

Bittersweet days are filled with tiny blessings. We just have to remember to look for them.

“I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”~Jn 10:10    

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BREADCRUMBS: Chirpings

Long ago, before the printed word and technology was in every home and classroom and before there were people who say that rote memorization was not a good learning strategy – at about the time when Jesus was a little boy growing up in a small town, children in his village would walk into the classroom for the first time and find a slate coated in honey. A rabbi said these words, “How sweet are your words to my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~ Ps 119:103

Being a teacher it is so easy to see this first century classroom. I can hear the smile in the rabbi’s voice as he issued the first assignment, “Lick the slate clean and repeat after me.” As the students gleefully got to work (because there was no one around who said, “Yuk – germs!), they repeated the verse over and over until the slate was ready to be written upon. Thus, they learned their first verse of the Torah.

“If you abide in Me…”

According to rabbinical writings from that time, the sound of those voices repeating verses over and over and over were like the chirpings of little birds. Once upon a time, rote memorization was the underpinnings of all education all over the world. Books were rare and way too valuable for ordinary folk. Students learned by stories and rote memorization. In the Jewish community, by the time the Jewish children were ready for the next level of schooling, most of them knew the entire Torah by heart.

I’m sure there were those who struggled just like some struggle in today’s classroom. However, what we fail to remember is that the chirpings didn’t stop at the school. Every morning, every meal, every bedtime was filled with more recitation of verses and better yet – discussion – debate – exchange of thoughts – prayers filled with those same words until the verses became alive – vibrant with love between the family members – lustrous with the Breath of the Father’s Spirit – shaded with every jot and tittle of the language.

“And My words abide in you…”~Jn 15:7a

Cool thing to note – most scholars agree that boys and girls – around the age of 4 or 5 – would begin their schooling together. The cooler thing is that school didn’t stop at the doorway of the classroom. All the children in the family would participate in the discussions with their parents, so – for the most part – Our Father’s words took up residence within each family member who comprised this group of people called Jews.

They didn’t have to go look up a reference to string verses together. They didn’t have to google a phrase to find a verse. They didn’t have to look at their notes from school or find an expert. The words were part of everything in their everyday life. Trip over a stone and say a blessing of thanks because it wasn’t a rock. Get an extra few coins praise G-d for His goodness. Prayer rising without thought – never ceasing – because the WORD lives in each individual.

“How sweet are Your words to my taste!”

Tonight, as the thunderstorm and hail pelt our little house, I look at the little gathering of early violets and spring flowers and touch creation with my heart. Life becomes so much sweeter as we chirp. Spring is here – well – kinda – in name anyway. The peepers have started to peep in NC – I think they are probably hiding deep in the mud tonight. The birds were chirping earlier today as they hopped about and hopefully found shelter somewhere now.

And I – well – I think I need a little more of those 1st century chirpings in my life so that the WORD abides in me.

“Sweeter than honey to my mouth.”~Ps 119:103   

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BREADCRUMBS II

“Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me…” ~Jn 11:41b-42a

Sleeping-in on a dreary, rainy morning, picking up the novel of dujour, and snuggling under the covers has always been one of my favorite things to do. It just such a rarity these days that it has become a treasure chest memory of days long gone bye-bye.

First off, it is Sunday. I didn’t need to be sleeping in today. I needed to be up for church this morning. Didn’t happen. Instead my internal alarm clock that usually wakes me 15 minutes before I need to be awake, didn’t go off in my head until an hour and a half later. sigh.

Second, the book dujour that always has rested by my side during the night has been replaced by bouncy, smiley dogs. Dogs that are generally staring at me, tongues out, warm, smelly breath in my face, ready to drag me from sound sleep into their active world before I have even whispered my morning prayers.

In other words, my day didn’t go as I planned. So I do what I tend to do when things go awry, I followed the breadcrumbs. Went to my church via internet and worshiped with the people I usually worship with – only from my recliner. In fact, I could even share my pastor’s sermon with you tonight via YouTube. We live in amazing technological times even though the world often seems darker than ever before – literally and figuratively.

Later in the day, I followed the breadcrumbs back to John 11 as I have done most of this week. The last time I wrote, Jesus wept. He wept with compassion for Martha and Mary’s sorrow. He wept for Lazarus who had lain entombed for the past four days . He wept for His people who needed grace; grace that only He would provide. He wept as the foreshadowing covered them all in front of the tomb.

Then, He prayed.

A simple prayer. “Abba, I thank You that You have heard me…” Then in the same poor in spirit attitude that he taught in the beginning of his ministry, he continued his prayer. A prayer that was filled with faith in his Father’s love and mercy. “And I know that you always hear me, but for the sake of this crowd that is standing here I said these things, that they may believe that you have sent me.” ~v.42

Today, the breadcrumbs led me to see the full circle of Rabbi Yeshua’s prophecy from the beginning of chapter 11, “This sickness is not of death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified because of it.” ~v. 4, to Lazarus walking out of the tomb.

And then – – why am I surprised??? – – another breadcrumb appears on my path. God is good and loves to drop breadcrumbs on my path, which is really great since I would be way overwhelmed with a full loaf of bread dropped under my feet.

In any case, my pastor was really stringing pearls today from OT to NT and back again. As he spoke, the treasure chest of memories opened up. Singing this blessing in my church choir – in my high school choir – with the All Ohio Youth Choir – with my college choir – on the marching band bus – on choir tour buses – in cathedrals – under bridges – small groups – large groups – mixed quartets – college party nights under the stars (seriously – that’s the kind of parties I went to in college – and yes, in all other ways it was a typical college party from the 70’s)…

God blessed me many times over today, and more than I deserved. Such is grace. I am so glad this day didn’t go as I had originally planned. God always does a much better job in the planning department.

‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’Num 6:24-26

BREADCRUMBS I

“Jesus wept.”~Jn 10:35

It is the shortest verse in the Bible and yet…it catches my breath every time I read it.

God wept.

I’ve been thinking of the story of Lazarus all week. It seems Our Father does this to me often. He plops breadcrumbs down in front of my feet – like I’m supposed to know what to do with them.

Eat them? Follow them?

Obviously, I don’t handle His hints very well. Sometimes, I crush them – mostly by accident…..I think – with the heel of my boots. Sometimes, I stoop down to study them where they are lying, wondering if I really want to deal with the mess of breadcrumbs in my pocket – you know – they crumble, right? Sometimes, I pick them up – popping them in my mouth – – duh, I’m hungry and the five second rule works for me. And sometimes – I pick them up and turn them carefully in my hands and wonder why they sparkle in the sun? Then I wonder just what in the world am I supposed to do with a sparkly breadcrumb?

It has been one of those weeks. The breadcrumbs have been plentiful – way more than I can handle – and I’ve been befuddled on what to do with all of them. My path littered with crumbs I’ve inadvertently crushed. My belly full of broken challa that feeds my soul. My pockets, a crumbly mess of wisdom that I wish I understood just a little more. My hands full of somewhat intact crumbs that sparkle and then I look up. The darkness thins, and He shows me why they sparkle. They are covered with tears.

As I’ve been reading Sitting at the Feet of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg which led me at some point to the story of Lazarus. As if to drive the point home, I stumbled over to a podcast by a Messianic Rabbi on John Chapter 11. Till finally last night, there was a transforming catalyst of the breadcrumbs and that sent me to the back door slider in our home. A sunset. A ray of light reflecting off my tears. He always prepares me, I just am not so smart at realizing it until I look closely at those breadcrumbs that I hold tenderly in my hand.

Rabbi Yeshua was close to His followers and even closer to His disciples. He was their teacher for as long as He was given. His Father gave him a list, and He gathered them by calling their name or telling a story or by just a look over a crowd. He broke bread with them. He taught them with love. He patiently explained this new knowledge in different ways, over and over and over. He struggled when they struggled with their faith. He wept when they wept for great was His compassion – – – great was His love.

In our society, students don’t stay as long with their teachers as they did in Jesus’ time. However, like the rabbis of old, teachers today still share tiny bits of their lives, knowledge – and hopefully – wisdom with those given to their charge by the Father through a list typed out by the school secretary in some office. Before they know it though, the students are walking out the door and onto their own paths; their teachers sniffle a little as they wave good-bye.

As teachers, we don’t talk about it much. We act like it is just a job. Actually, I don’t think we understand the process as much as we think we do. We just know – that somehow – we grew attached. We gathered them at the beginning of the year. We broke bread with them. We laughed with them. Struggled with them in their struggles. We sweated in the heat of the summer that didn’t know when to quit. We froze in the depth of winters when old boilers couldn’t keep up with the below-freezing cold. We wept when the ugliness of life jumped out of the bushes and unto the path that we are walking together.

Overdoses.

Vehicle crashes.

Storms that break tree limbs.

Illnesses.

A national tragedy – a local tragedy – a familial tragedy.

The connection between teachers and students has been there since the beginning of time and will continue in the everlasting gospel (Rev 14:6). It has been modeled for us throughout the entire WORD. When Our Father gathered His people to Him. When He sat on Mount Sinai with Moses and the Elders to break bread (Ex 24:9-10). When He carved His law upon the tablets and told Moses what to write in the Torah (Ex 19-24). He struggles with His people when they struggle. He weeps with holy tears as His people weep (Jer 14:7).

Teachers – Students – breadcrumbs that sparkle with tears in every season of life. God is good and greatly to be praised. Amen and amen.

 

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2017 #10

“On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me…”

JOY!

Not sure why staying home, doing mundane, everyday things bring me want to leap for joy. I just know it does.

Cardinals fussing around the bird feeders. A chicken hawk trying to grab a grey squirrel off a tree (he missed by the way – and boy – did that squirrel scurry down the tree). Dogs sliding in the snow just so they could roll in it one more time. Kitten playing in the box I’m trying to fill with Christmas past. Folding laundry. Cooking hot dogs with onions wrapped in a toasted tortilla. Learning something new during devotions.

It all just makes me – – – full of leaping joy.

“On the 10th day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 10 lords a-leaping.”

Traditionally, the 10 lords refer to the 10 commandments. 10 road markers to guide a weary traveler. 10 rock-solid principles in a wacky world of slithering truths. 10 laws that guided a way-ward, stubborn people out of slavery and idolatry into the promise land of new milk and honey sweet manna. 10 laws that Rabbi Yeshua followed faithfully as He walked in this physical world.

“But let all who take refuge in You rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread Your protection over them, that all who love Your name may be filled with joy. For You bless the godly, O LORD; You surround them with Your shield of Love.”~Ps 5:11-12

JOY!

One of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. One of the words the angels used on the night Our Father sent His Son to live with us. One of the words that Rabbi Yeshua used often. Is it any surprise that I’m leaping for joy tonight? It may be cold outside. I may still have a coughing, sniffling cold. I may not leave the house for another three days because I just don’t want to do so.

JOY!

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”~Jn 15:11 

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12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS 2017 #7

“On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

Yes, I know today is the first day of the world’s new year.

2018.

You know, when I was growing up, my parents said that “time flies”. I totally didn’t believe them, since it took forever to get to get from birthday-to-birthday or Christmas-to-Christmas or Labor Day-to-Memorial Day. But make no mistake, we continue to swim closer and closer to the end of the 12 days of Christmas 2017 and then 2018 will begin in earnest for me.

“On the 7th day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven swans a swimming…”

I haven’t really made any resolutions this year – mostly because cold-fogged brains do not lend themselves to clear thoughts. But as the fog clears, and I start to swim in a straight line again, I’m beginning to organize my thoughts and figure out just where Our Father is wanting to lead me.

A friend and his family members chose a word to meditate on during the year. Another friend chooses a Bible verse. Others have chosen business or family goals. One friend has even chosen an author and wants to re-reads all the books, that person has written.

Truth be told, I’m not big on January New Year Resolutions. I suppose it is because for most of my 67 years on this earth, my new year has started with the beginning of school. Whether as a student or a teacher, that is when I set my direction for the year. Even now – almost 5 years into my retirement – I still find myself gearing up in August and preparing mentally to swim up-stream into a new adventure.

“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.”~Is 11:1-3

There are 7 swans swimming in the living waters when we sing the 12 Days of Christmas. 7 fruits of the Spirit that Rabbi Yeshua modeled for us as He walked among us.

Wisdom
Understanding
Counsel
Fortitude
Knowledge
Piety
Fear [Awe] of God

Swim in the Living Waters. Harvest the Fruits of the Spirit. Now those are some resolutions that I think I really need to set my eyes on as I swim into this new adventurous year of 2018. I may have to push hard over the rapids. I may have to be patient in still waters. I may have to weather a storm or two. But if I wait for the breath of His promises under my wings, I can gain more power to swim a little closer to those Gifts of the Spirit and feel His peace surround me.

“I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Vine, and you are the branches; whoever abides with me and I in him, this one brings forth much fruit, because without me, you can do nothing.”~Jn 15:5 web-seven-gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-public-domain [google image]

ADVENT 2017 – PEACE #3

When the calendar ends…

Dreams end and a day begins. I wish I could tell you what I was dreaming about when I walked out of my dream and opened my blurry eyes to a new day.

Dreams are like that though. So real one second, and swirling wisps of nothingness the next. Bits and snatches that rise up, appearing at the edge of the mind only to evaporate as if they never existed in the first place.

When the calendar ends…

Today, the Jewish calendar marks the 24th of Kislev – the beginning of Chankuh/Hanukkah. The miracle of the oil. The miracle of light. The miracle of a small remnant of righteous Jews who refused to bow to the apostasy that was overtaking their culture – country – faith. A small group that drew a line in the sand – a line of truth – based on their belief in G-d.

They stood apart. A lone. Armed in the faith of their convictions. The sword of G-d in their hand.

For them, the calendar didn’t end that day. The remnant succeed beyond all expectations. They defeated the reigning super power, regained the temple, and lit the temple menorah with pure, blessed oil One day’s worth that lasted for 8. A new festival instituted. Light of the first covenant re-lit. A light at the end of the tunnel that burned brighter as if the tunnel was falling away.

It was the 25th of Kislev 165 BC.

“And Yeshua spoke again with them and he said: “I AM THE LIVING GOD, The Light of the world. Whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall find the light of life.”~Jn 8:12

Today at sundown, the 25th of Kislev 5778 began. Rabbi Yeshua celebrated this festival of Light even though He knew He was the Light that would change the world. For those who followed Him, one calendar ended and a new one began.

When the calendar ends…

There will come a time when the calendar ends again. An eternal calendar will begin where darkness has no power, and the Light never ends. A tunnel that is no longer dark but full of Light. Now that will definitely be a miracle of Light  – Light of a new kind, and one to celebrate in peace. [google images]