RUBBISH

In Cambodia, we noticed they don’t use the words “garbage” or “trash” or “waste.”  They have RUBBISH cans.  We found humor in that and started using the word at every opportunity.  Today I ran across some real rubbish, some things that are most foul.  Out of curiosity, I wondered how many “God is” statements are in the Bible.  God is light.  God is love.  For some brainless reason, I opted to google it.  Here’s what popped up when I typed “God is…”

“God is Imaginary.  50 simple proofs to show that God doesn’t exist.”

“God is not a Christian.”

“God is dead.”

“God is for suckers!”

“God is an astronaut.”

“God is pretend.”

“God is impossible.”

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was completely caught off guard.  I felt a little queasy, then angry, and then I wanted to put my head down and cry.  I know there are people out there who don’t believe in God, who ridicule Christianity.  But to see those statements in print, to feel the vehemence behind some of them, was unsettling, to say the least.  HOW CAN THEY BE SO BLASPHEMOUS?!

And then a couple of things hit me.  First, as much as those offensive statements bothered me, how must God feel?  He offered His own Son for those very people.  Second, those statements must surely be the result of ignorance, or anger and bitterness.  That means we need to do a better job of spreading the Word and demonstrating God’s love.

I didn’t click on any of those links.  I can’t read that kind of stuff.  But I hope the reminder that Satan is active will spur me on to do my part to stand up for our Creator.

Prayer for Today:  Help me live in such a way that the world will see that I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

God’s Golden Moments

August marked the beginning of our Year of Significant Numbers.  In that month, our youngest son, Carl, became a teenager.  Our oldest son, Gary, will turn 18 next month.  In January, our middle son, Dale, turns 16.  In May, Neal and I will celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary.  And also in May, I will…  I…  Um.  I’ll turn forty.  I remember when my own mother turned forty.  I got married the month before, so as the mother-of-the-bride, my mom seemed, in my eyes, like a woman who had already arrived.  A woman whose job was done.  A woman who was old.  Which makes me wonder, are there 20-year-olds who see ME that way?

I thank God for the years He has given me as a wife and as a mother.  I have to smile (and roll my eyes) when I think back to when I was a newlywed who thought she had all the answers.  But even though I’ve learned a lot since then, I have so much more to learn.  A constant prayer of mine is for wisdom!  And  there are so many things I still want to do.  When Neal and I were first married, we came up with our 5-year plan.  One of my goals was to have written a book in that time.  ha!  I just started it this year.  The past forty years have simply flown by.  What will I do with the next forty?

“Swiftly we’re turning life’s daily pages; swiftly the hours are turning to years.  How are we using God’s golden moments?  Shall we reap glory?   Shall we reap tears?”

Prayer for Today:  May I live each day as if it were my last, choosing always the eternal over the temporary.  

What Moves You?

Some are moved by beauty.  Some are moved by animals or babies.  I’m moved by music, and always have been.  I remember crying in worship as a child when we’d sing “Old Rugged Cross,” or when I’d hear my dad’s tenor during “My Jesus I Love Thee.”  Neal chuckles a bit when I want him to hold me, and he realizes it’s because there’s pretty music playing somewhere.  If there’s sad music playing during a movie, the boys start looking at me to see if the water works have commenced.    But music doesn’t just turn me sob-sister.  Turning up the radio while doing housework energizes me.  A hand-selected collection of songs on a CD makes me smile.  Listening to a cappella  songs before we leave home Sunday morning prepares my mind for worship.  Music moves me, because I love it.

Jesus was moved by people.  He wept over the heartache of others (John 11:33-35).  He wept over the lost condition of an entire city because He knew what was going to happen to them (Luke 19:41-44).  Although the text doesn’t say He cried, I hear tears in His voice when Jesus laments, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matt. 23:37).  The emotions of our Savior were stirred by souls.  Why is that?  Because He loved them.

Prayer for Today:  In a society where people live side by side but hardly speak to each other, may I remember that PEOPLE are what Christians are all about.  May my emotions be stirred by souls.

Blessings in Christ

New friend, Sheri Harris

Several years ago, Cindy Colley presented a Bible study method called “Soul Survivor’s Guide” to the ladies at PTP.  What I appreciate about it is the fact that it begins with the blessings found in Christ, and that creates a desire for someone to want to be IN Christ.  The study covers about 10 specific blessings mentioned in Scripture that are only for those who are in Christ.  I always point out that it’s by no means an exhaustive list.  Further study would reveal even more blessings!  One of the blessings I cherish the most is meaningful relationships.

Does God understand our need for support and companionship?  Oh yes!  There are over 50 “one another” passages in the New Testament.  (I have a list, if you’re interested).  God shows us how to love, respect, and forgive one another.  He encourages us to give preference to one another.  What a contrast to the shallow, self-seeking relationships found in the world!

Churches that place an emphasis on fellowship are loving and united.  Christians that make the effort to take advantage of those opportunities for fellowship are strengthened  by the support found in a unique bond.   We’re tied together by the precious blood of Christ, and that’s a relationship that can’t be found anywhere else.

In addition to the constant joy found by being with your local church family, you can find that same level of closeness with Christians you meet all over the world.  You can run into old friends (like the picture below, taken at PTP), and it doesn’t matter that you’ve been separated by time and distance.  You can quickly make new friends (like the picture above, also taken at PTP), and it feels as if you’ve known each other for years.  You can even travel to foreign countries and fellowship with brothers & sisters in Christ, and it feels as if there’s no language barrier at all.

How can we keep this unique blessing to ourselves?  Those in the world are CRAVING meaningful relationships, which is evident by the number of social networks, dating services, bars and clubs.  Last weekend, Tami Roberts spoke at Bear Valley’s ladies’ retreat.  She talked about the fact that God created in us a natural appreciation for beauty.  She said when we act as we should in the Lord’s church, it’s a very beautiful thing.  If we’re loving, honoring, respecting each other as God commanded, the world will be drawn by that beauty and come knocking at our door!

Prayer for Today:  May I nurture and protect those meaningful relationships found in Christ, and may I look for opportunities to share that blessing with others.

With sweet sisters, Mary Parrish, Rose Crayton, & Cheri Deaver

PTP

Listening to Dan Winkler

PTP stands for “Polishing the Pulpit,” but could very easily stand for “Power to Persevere!”  Over 2,300 Christians spent a week together in the most spiritually uplifting environment imaginable (this year there will be at least a thousand more).  If you’ve never been to PTP, here are some highlights to interest you in making plans to attend next year:

-SPIRITUAL GROWTH- There are literally a dozen or more classes offered every hour, covering a wide variety of topics and texts.  Speakers from all over the country presented lessons that boosted our faith and reignited our desire to make a difference for Christ!

-NOURISHING FELLOWSHIP- Oh boy.  Thinking about the nature of God’s family, and the close bond we enjoy when thousands of us get together, warms my heart and strengthens my soul.  We caught up with old friends and made new ones.  Our 3 sons enjoyed hanging out with a large number of  like-minded teens.  There were many moments of giving & receiving encouragement, and many moments of refreshing laughter.

-POWER IN NUMBERS- Nearly every time we left the event center, someone in town would notice our tags and say, “Are you with that large church group?”  We had many conversations with strangers about the conference and about the Lord’s church.  It was fun, and it was easy, because there were so many of us.  It made us want to bring that same “visibility” back to our home town.  It made us more determined to create opportunities to tell others about the Lord’s church.

-A TASTE OF HEAVEN- I’ve always loved singing with the saints.  It’s special and meaningful.  Singing with thousands of saints is a downright goose bump-giver.  How beautiful were songs like “It is Well with My Soul” and “Holy, Holy, Holy!”  I heard many folks state my own feelings…”Imagine what it must be like in Heaven!”

My family is very grateful to all who put in countless hours of planning and work to make PTP happen.  Our cups our full and our hearts are thankful.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the time of concentrated study and fellowship I’ve enjoyed.  May I carry these feelings of renewal and determination “into all the world.”

Summer Supper Recipes

I’m so thankful for my “baby” sister.  In addition to being a genuine Christian, Kristy is beautiful, witty, and just plain fun.  We laugh till we cry when we’re together.  She has always been one of the greatest blessings in my life.

In addition to enriching my life with her sparkle and wisdom, Kristy often enriches my palate with her creative cooking.  Every time we go to Oklahoma for a visit, I come home with at least a couple of new recipes jotted down.  For instance, did you know you can make homemade sherbet with just a 2-liter bottle of orange soda and a can of sweetened condensed milk?

A couple of weeks ago I posted some pictures on my facebook wall of a meal I made which I called “Summer Supper.”  The pasta dish was invented by my sister.  Not only is it delicious, but you can easily adapt it to suit your tastes.  Here are the recipes:

Garden Pasta with Chicken

I’ll describe this dish by layers.

Bottom Layer- Cook your pasta of choice, such as spaghetti, penne, or bow tie.

Sauce Layer- Saute some shallots (or onion) in a little olive oil, then add your favorite jarred sauce.

Veggie Layer- In olive oil, saute whatever fresh vegetables & seasonings you like.  I chose zucchini, squash, artichoke hearts, banana peppers (because they were ready to pick from my garden), scallions, and garlic.  I seasoned it with Cavender’s All-Purpose Greek Seasoning, crushed red pepper flakes, salt & pepper.  Saute till crisp-tender, then toss in some fresh basil ribbons.

Chicken Layer- Marinate some chicken breasts in whatever floats your boat (I used pesto), then grill and slice.

To Serve- Top the spaghetti, sauce, and veggies with sliced chicken and shaved parmesan.  Garnish with fresh basil.

Variations:  Instead of doing a skillet saute, you can throw the vegetables on the grill (as Kristy does) along with the chicken.  Also, Kristy recently made this dish using leftover parmesan-crusted chicken.  Yum!

This is the Artisan Bread I served with the pasta dish.  The recipe can be found at:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Artisan-Bread-in-Five-Minutes-a-Day/

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the heart-filling warmth of dear family, and the belly-filling comfort of good food.  May I never take your constant blessings for granted.

Unexpected Beatings

Hail in the cilantro

We’ve been enjoying late afternoon showers, but about a week ago we experienced a surprise attack.  Several folks described the start of the hail storm as “someone throwing rocks on the roof.”  Since it was a sunny afternoon, we weren’t expecting walnut-sized ice balls to start battering everything in sight.

Clover surveying the hail in the yard

We had minimal damage involving a couple of tomato plants, but some families lost entire gardens.  Others now have to repair damaged cars, windows, and vinyl siding.

Neal holding the summer hail

This unexpected hail storm swooped in on a sunny day, did its damage, and left almost as quickly as it came.  People were stunned, and as they swapped stories, they said, “Can you believe it?  It was out of the blue!”

Someone close to me would’ve been celebrating 40 years of marriage today if some storms hadn’t swooped in nearly ten years ago.  We’ve all experienced unexpected beatings:  sudden job loss, a diagnosis of cancer, a car accident, betrayal.  The suddenness of it can knock you senseless, and leave you feeling disoriented, confused, and sometimes, alone.  I’m sure Job felt all of those things when he experienced the unthinkable.  Yet he was able to declare, “As long as my breath is in me, and the breath of God in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness.  Till I die I will not put away my integrity from me.  My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go” (Job 27: 3-6).  Job knew that God was bigger than even death itself.  No matter what terrors or afflictions he experienced, Job’s faith kept him grounded.  “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:2).  After the shock, fear, weeping, or anger, the next step is often the hardest.  Keep trusting in God.  How?  Serve him faithfully.  Maintain your righteousness, one day at a time.  Our God is bigger than any unexpected beating, and He has promised to carry us safely through.  “For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’  So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5,6).

Prayer for today:  May I daily build my faith, so that when the unexpected happens, my foundation will not be shaken.