Friday, December 25, 2009
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder. And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. And the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it. Hallelujah, for the God omnipotent reigns - King of Kings and Lord of Lords - forever. And he shall reign forever. Worthy is the lamb that was slain. And has redeemed us to God by His blood to receive power, and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing. Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sits upon the throne and unto the Lamb forever. Amen."
Perfect love came down at Christmas and perfect love casts out all fear. The angels said it, "Fear not!" Jesus (love perfected and made manifest) said, "Do not be afraid! Be anxious for nothing." Forever. He paid the redemption cost. God With Us sacrificed himself in our place.
Sin is broken. Evil is defeated. That means they have no power, no authority, no standing. Nothing will ever separate us from the love of God because of Messiah.
Forever. For eternity. We never have to be afraid again - of anything - injustice, pain, sickness, poverty, lack, ridicule, failure, torture, humiliation, death. We have the victory in Jesus! Now and forever! And we reign with Him now and forever! Love conquers all! Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good and His mercy endures forever.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
This heart-warming story from the Chicago Tribune is about my home town and the nearby town of Oelwein. I know some of the people in the story personally. And, I am happy to say I grew up and was educated in this area and with these values.
Click here for the story.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
This Christmas, as in many Christmases past, I have no money to spend on gifts. This was making me very sad this morning. So when the people at Tyndale sent me an email about this free download from Matthew West, I wasn't going to bother with it. But, they usually provide good links and I like what they have to say, so I followed up and went to Matthew West's web site. I was so moved by his song with Amy Grant, that I haven't gotten any further. I want to share the link here, because it ministered to me today. You can also hear Matthew reading the Christmas story from Luke at www.thechristofchristmas.com.
As I was growing up, my family did not emphasize spending lots of money and shopping for gifts, but we often made each other presents. What do you give when you have no money and few material resources? In my case, I can tell stories and sing and play music. I can pray for other people instead of focusing on my own problems. I can encourage and smile and say a good word to people who might ordinarily be ignored.
I can do this! So can you! Whether you are rich or poor, give away as much Christmas as you can. Let someone know how much you love them and that you care about them - especially someone who might not be able to return the favor - like your enemy, or that beggar outside Burger King, or the kids who always leave their litter on your front sidewalk, or people in prisons and jails. So, in this season of light, let your light shine!
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 5:14-16
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I have begun the challenging process of editing my NANOWRIMO novel. This is not nearly as exciting as the adrenaline-fueled process of writing. Now, I am actually reading to catch and correct the inconsistencies, repetitions and flaws. Despite this, it's kind of fun to read and edit. I have to say that, as of page 26, I like the story. Since, at this point, the words of the novel seem unfamiliar and foreign, I feel more objective - at least on the micro level. Structural changes may be more difficult. So stay posted. I may serialize the book here just as Charles Dickens did more than a century ago with "Little Dorrit."
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
My husband and I know a man from India named "Prem" which means love. God loves Prem passionately - as he does all the people of India, which I like being reminded of periodically. In his usual friendly fashion, my husband befriended that man Prem. As a result, we were privileged to meet a wonderful group of people from India. This is just one aspect of my husband's personality that I appreciate. He tends to see something good in almost everyone he meets because he sees them as God's children - and they tend to love him back.
Tomorrow is my husband's birthday. And, although this has been a terrifically challenging year for us, I am actually grateful to people who have been directly responsible for some of those challenges placed before us. I am grateful because what is absolutely important to Dave and me has been clarified: loving each other, serving God and rejoicing in all the good He has done in our lives. And we have had incredible opportunities to minister love, compassion and hope to others who are experiencing difficulties as well.
God is the absolute essence and power of love. And we rejoice knowing that we will be privileged to spend eternity with Him. We know this with certainty! We know it deep inside! We are saved through grace by faith, and definitely not based on our own works. And, despite all our failings, nothing shall separate us from the love of God. I love the Apostle Paul's eloquent chapter in Romans:
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Just as it is written,
"FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG;
WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED."
But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Because of this assurance, I can say that my husband will have the happiest birthday ever and we look forward with confidence to the future because God's plans for us are good. "The Lord delights in the prosperity of his servant."
Sunday, December 6, 2009
“Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God has commanded you, that your days may be prolonged and that it may go well with you on the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Deuteronomy 5:16
This is the only commandment that carries with it a promise. There is a blessing attached to honoring your parents. God is our heavenly father - our eternal parent. Honoring God with the tithe is to honor our heavenly father, which would seem to be a natural extension of the original commandment. In the following quotes from the book of the prophet Malachi, God says it plainly.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the LORD of hosts. “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the LORD of hosts. “Your words have been arrogant against Me,” says the LORD. “Yet you say, ‘What have we spoken against You?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the LORD of hosts! So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape.’ Malachi 3: 8-15
“For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,” says the LORD of hosts, “so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,” says the LORD of hosts. “Remember the law of Moses My servant, even the statutes and ordinances which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel. Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.” Malachi 4
Most of us would have to agree that our country – and our world – is not prospering right now. In fact, the opposite would seem true as people continue to lose their jobs or their businesses or their homes or their children. We would seem to be under a curse, and the Bible makes it plain why a land is cursed – dishonoring parenthood. Mocking God. Mocking fatherhood. Punishing those who tithe.
Galatians 6:7 further clarifies, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
We, the people, and, therefore, our government have been sowing some bad seeds. This is obvious from the harvest. If the people of this country do not repent and turn from their current path, we won’t be destroyed by foreign terrorists, but will be destroyed from within as families cease to exist. When both parents can no longer teach them biblical principles and lovingly discipline their own children, then the United States of America, one nation under God, no longer lives. Children are a heritage from the Lord, and when that heritage is taken away, there is no future.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
“In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place.” –Gandhi
The other day, I saw a bulletin board in my nephew’s school. It outlined the principles that the school stands behind and teaches. One of those principles resonated with me because I haven’t thought about it in a long time. I read:
“’Conscience Is the Most Sacred of All Property’ (James Madison): ‘God requires faithful stewardship of all His gifts, especially the internal property of conscience. This is a tool for self-government as each child learns the revelation of consent. Each individual governs his life through the voluntary consent to do right or wrong.’”
I realized that there is a great deal going on in this country that is hurting my conscience. We must object to unjust and ungodly rulings and laws made by our government. Our consciences will not permit us to do otherwise. To live with a seared conscience is far worse than to suffer imprisonment or hardship.
For example, when a judge can dictate “that 100% of all monies earned on work release be applied toward child support and credited toward the purge amount,” then something in this country has gone very wrong. Did we not abolish slavery in 1862? Are we not required to pay income tax on money earned? Are we forbidden to support our church and to practice our religion, which teaches tithing?
"One great lesson arose from all the beatings, tortures, and butchery of the Communists: that the spirit is master of the body. We felt the torture, but it often seemed as something distant and far removed from the spirit which was lost in the glory of Christ and His presence with us. When we were given one slice of bread a week and dirty soup every day, we decided we would faithfully “tithe” even then. Every tenth week we took the slice of bread and gave it to weaker brethren as our “tithe” to the Master." (from Tortured For Christ by Richard Wurmbrand)
This American judge’s ruling is especially egregious when the “child support” is 1) based on false information and a judge refuses to accept or consider exonerating evidence; 2) unequally determined and administered throughout the state and the nation; 3) demanded for healthy adult “children”; 4) becomes “college support” and is demanded and paid for children of the wealthy only. And, what is shocking about this judge is that he has been appointed to a federal organization to teach judges across the country his collection techniques.
As I see it, to pay what the court demands in this case would be to violate conscience. The demand by this judge amounts to a violation of civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and challenges the very concept of "equal protection under the law."
I would strongly urge the citizens of this country to wake up their consciences. The erosion of civil liberties ultimately results in the inability to worship and serve God as He directs us to. The reason God told Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt was so that they could worship Him as He directed them to. Their deliverance from slavery and provision of the promised land were the outcomes of their obedience. A numbed conscience can’t hear clearly from God.