Friday, June 24, 2011

The Same Glory

Vine of Purple Morning Glories clipartThis morning I read the 17th chapter of the Book of John, which is the recording of Jesus praying for me before He was crucified... before I came into existence.  Jesus communicated to God the Father that Jesus wanted me, a future Believer who had not yet been born, to be one with Jesus and God the Father so that the world would believe that God the Father sent Jesus.  Jesus gave me the same glory that God the Father gave to Jesus!  Jesus wanted me, a future Believer, to be in complete unity with Him and God the Father not only so that the world would know that God the Father sent Jesus but also so that the world would know that God the Father loves me even as God the Father loves Jesus (vs 23)!

Jesus' prayer doesn't stop there.  He said in verse 24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world."  In verse 25, Jesus closed His prayer to God the Father by saying “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Doesn't these verses remind you of the song taught to us in Sunday School as children? 

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so. 
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong. 
Yes, Jesus loves me. 
Yes, Jesus loves me. 
Yes, Jesus loves me, for the Bible tells me so.

Do your children and grandchildren know this song?  I sang this song to my youngest grandchild while keeping her as her mother worked.  After they relocated in January, I sang it to her when she visited in April and when she came back in June.  I sing it softly in her ear.  I want this song to be embedded in her soul as it is in mine.  I suggest you read John 17 today and remind yourself that Jesus prayed for you before you came into existence.  This will give you joy today!

And in case you're wondering, here are the other verses to this beloved song:

Jesus loves me! He who died,
Heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! loves me still,
When I'm very weak and ill;
From His shining throne on high,
Comes to watch me where I lie.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Jesus loves me! He will stay,
Close beside me all the way;
He's prepared a home for me,
And some day His face I'll see.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Least of These

My son and his two oldest children are visiting us.  Yesterday, we took a leisurely drive to Amish country to pick up a German Chocolate cake I ordered for Father's Day (for my dad, not for my son who doesn't like nuts or coconut).  During our drive, my son shared that because of the sacrifices he's making by serving in the military, he 'deserves' some of the finer things life offers.   

Later last night while he and I were out to dinner with my husband, we revisited this conversation.  I shared that my perspective is different.  Seeing so many people standing on the road near the highway exit ramps with signs asking for help says to me that the more the Lord blesses me, the more I'm able to bless others.  I shared with my two men that I'm reading "Stories Behind Women of Extraordinary Faith."  Matthew 25:35-40 is stamped all over the stories of Harriett Tubman, Dr. Anne Brooks, and Mother Theresa.  While this book is about women, their stories of tending to the 'least of these', remind me of my friend, Russ, who died recently.  Russ, like these women, focused on being of service to people who had the least.  When Harriet Tubman's friends asked "why she was doing so much for those who could pay her nothing, she simply asked them to read Matthew 25:35-40."  

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Mother Teresa is quoted as saying:

"Christ wants to give us the chance to put our love for Him in living action.  He makes Himself, the hungry one, not only for bread but for love.  He makes Himself the naked one, not only for a piece of cloth but for that understanding love, that dignity, human dignity.  He makes Himself the homeless one, not only for the peace of a small room but for the deep sincere love for the other.  This is Jesus, the Living Bread that He has come to break with you and me."

Mother Eliza Davis GeorgeI also recently read the book, "When God Says No" (by Lorry Lutz) about Mother Eliza Davis George, a poor little black girl from Texas who served in the African mission field and died at age 100.  When Mother Eliza hiked to African primitive villages, she called the people together to tell them "about a Man who died for you."  After she explained to them how Jesus died for them, they asked her "how come you are just coming to tell us this now.  Our mothers and brothers and fathers have died, and they didn't know about this.  How come you tell us now?"  Mother Eliza's missionary story, the stories about these women of extraordinary faith, and my reflection on Russ' life shout to me that to fully reflect my love for Jesus Christ and be a better servant, I have to do more for those who have the least.  In doing this, my actions, like these great people of God, demonstrating Matthew 25:35-40 will tell people about Jesus. 

A book reviewer of "Stories Behind Women of Extraordinary Faith"said: The faith and the love of the Lord are embedded deeply in these women's lives. When my life is over, I want others to see that my faith and love of my Lord were embedded deeply in my life.  Perhaps reading "Stories Behind Women of Extraordinary Faith" may inspire you as well to do all you can to make an eternal difference.  To purchase this book, click on this link:

Let me leave you with this quote from Pastor Mark Adams ( )  We'll have to give an accounting for what we did with our lives-all the gifts, talents, opportunities, energy, relationships and resources God gave us. We'll have to tell whether or not we spent them on ourselves or used them to further God's purposes and make an eternal difference.

Monday, June 13, 2011

For I Know The Plans

One of of my favorite bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  I keep learning over and over that His plan for me right now (and has been for the past five years) is for me to not work outside the home so that I can be available. 

In March, I learned about a job opening at a Fortune 500 company near my home.  This part-time contract trainer/facilitator position matched my skill set.  I applied for the job on line and on April 6 had a telephone interview.  On April 25, I had a formal interval with a manager and staffer and conducted a 45 minute training session using my own materials with them, a director, and another staff member.  I was fairly confident that everything went well and was told it would be a couple weeks before I'd hear anything.

A couple days after my interview, a family friend was hospitalized with a life-threatening illness. While waiting for the job offer, I spent a great deal of time at the hospital sitting with his wife (see my May 13 blog: ).  After three weeks passed, I called my interviewer and left her a voice mail message.  She never returned the call.  A week later, - now four weeks after my interview - I contacted the HR representative who conducted the phone interview and left him a voice mail message.  On June 2 - five weeks after the interview and having concluded that I wouldn't want to work for a company who didn't have the courtesy to call back - I received a rejection notice via e-mail.

During the five week interval, I had plenty of time to reflect on what God was trying to tell me.  I knew if I had been working during the time my friend was ill, I would not have been available to his family at the hospital.  Another friend's sister passed away during this time, and I was able to visit with my friend and attend her sister's funeral.  These were blatant signs that God wanted me to be available.  I can see clearly now that working, even though it would have only been three days a week, did not fit into His plans.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is telling me to not work outside the home so that when I'm needed, I can immediately respond without having to juggle the demands of a job.  I don't know why I had to have this reaffirmed for me (see my April 7 blog ). 

Father God, I got it!  I won't look at job notices in the newspaper.  It's not my job to look for a job for others - that's the excuse I've used when looking at openings in the paper and on line.  I know that You will let me know when and if You want me to return to a regular job.  I know Your Word says in Phil. 4:19 that You will supply all of my need (food, shelter, clothing) and that as I delight myself in You, You will grant the desires of my heart (Psalm 37:4).  My heart's desire which I believe aligns with Your will is to continue spending quality time with my immediate and extended family (fixing my husband's breakfast before he goes to work each morning, traveling to see my children, keeping my grandchildren, etc.), sending cards to those who are sick, in the military, and incarcerated, attending funerals to provide words of encouragement, give hugs, and serving the family meal, visiting those who are sick in the hospital, nursing home and or in their own homes, whatever service You assign.
I am going to be still and trust You to keep me available to do Your will in Your way in Your timing.  Thank You for using me for Your service.  May my light so shine before men that they will see my good works and glorify YOU! (Matt. 5:16).  Like my friend Russ, I want to follow Matt 25: 39-40.  Jesus shared a parable with His disciples.  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sweet Retreat

There weren't many of us who attended my church's annual women's overnight retreat this year, but those of us who came bonded together.  The retreat was held at a serene facility that advertises itelf as a spiritual hideaway.  In this atmosphere it would have been easy for the retreat to be a stuffy affair.  But our retreat coordinator made sure that this would not be the case.

I arrived low in spirit.  Although my roommate from last year had planned to attend the retreat, her husband of 49 years had died.  His funeral was held the day before the retreat.  I was grieving for her and her family.  Knowing why she would not be there, the minute I crossed the retreat threshhold tears gathered in my eyes.  Our church's retreat coordinator met me in the lobby, gave me a hug, and reassured me everything would be all right.  As I walked down the hallway looking for my room, I saw my friend's name on the door of the room reserved for her.  Grief overwhelmed me at that moment.  Fortunately, my new roommate, someone I've known a long time, was already in our room.  She saw that I was having a difficult time.  She had attended the funeral, too and told me it was okay if I needed to cry.  God knew I would need her and pre-ordained that we would room together.  Thank You, Lord for knowing what and who I need in advance.

As we went to dinner I knew I needed something to lift my spirit.  Psalm 86:4 says Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.  As the unofficial comedy team of Bryant and Walker got started, I think the Holy Spirit had interceded on my behalf.  Later in the evening a third person joined their team.  This trio of two ladies in their 70's and one who is 80 years old literally had me in stitches the rest of the evening.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Paul tells us to "Be joyful always."  I remind others often that even in the midst of storms, God sends joy.  And He did just that for me.  While grieving for my friend, God sent joy to all of the retreat attendees.  Thank You, Lord, for Your compassion, comfort, and joy in the midst of our sorrow. 

The retreat provided sweet relief from grief, bonding to one another, and a respite from the sorrows of life.  Thank You, Lord, for Barbara's service to You as our retreat coordinator and for allowing me to have this joyful experience.