Meditations of my Heart

Friday, September 16, 2016

I Will Give You Rest


Matthew 11:28
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

A week ago today, our dishwasher gives up the ghost.

I had just run a successful load and emptied it, when my husband, Danny, decides it's high time to clean the detachable vents in our stove hood.  (And believe me, with all the cooking he does, they need it often!)  But no sooner has he arranged the vents on the racks, selected the wash cycle, and pressed start, when the washer simply stops, it's "error" code flashing impudently, daring us to resolve the problem.

Frustrated, Danny tries other wash cycles to see if the appliance will get over itself.  Sadly, his efforts are fruitless.  When he researches the error code on line, the glaring cause points to the control panel itself.  And the cost to repair that?  Five-hundred dollars!

"At this rate," Danny admits, "I might as well bite the bullet and order us a new dishwasher."

"Honey, you don't have to right now if you don't want to spend the money," I tell him.  "I really don't mind washing dishes by hand."

"No, no, I don't want you to have to do that," Danny insists.  "I'll find a deal and order one today."

He does just that, and the new dishwasher is scheduled to be delivered and installed on the very day you are reading this post.

Then something miraculous happens.

In the wee hours of Monday morning, our house loses electricity.  When Danny gets up to go to work, he notices that the power failure light on the supposedly deceased dishwasher is brightly blinking.  He opens and shuts the washer door to turn the light off.

But it gets him to thinking . . .

When Danny arrives home that evening, he announces, "I'm going to try and run the dishwasher one more time.  I have a hunch that the power outage just might have reset its brain."

"Like a reboot on a computer?"  I ask hopefully.

"Exactly!"

I am skeptical, but agree it's worth a try.  Wonder of wonders!  The dishwasher completes a full cycle without a glitch!

Stunned, and beside ourselves with delight, Danny observes, "But before I cancel the order, let's wait and run it again tomorrow, just to be sure."

We do, and once again, the old dishwasher renders a stellar performance!

Yes, it could be the power outage corrected the problem, but I have another theory.  Never in the four years we've owned this dishwasher have we ever, ever run back-to-back loads.  It's always enjoyed a recuperative rest for at least a day, if not longer.

Did it simply need to be still?  To catch its breath before charging ahead?

That, we will never know.

But this I do know:  You and I need to rest in the Lord, regularly and often.  We can't keep up a frantic pace, no matter how many responsibilities and "to-dos" we have, and not expect to run out of steam.  It's inevitable.

So you who are weary and whose burdens are many, will you accept Jesus' invitation to lay them at His feet today?  He will give you rest and the peace of God, which passes all understanding.

The very rest you need to keep going for His glory.

~

Speaking of rest, Danny and I are headed to Jekyll Island this coming Monday for a much needed vacation.  I will not be blogging next week, and will probably not visit any of your blogs during that time as I plan to keep all social media interactions to a minimum.  After all, how often is it we get to go to the beach?  I plan to enjoy every moment.

See you back here on Tuesday, September 27th.

Love and blessings, always!


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Slow Fade


1 Corinthians 10:12
So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!

Sin.

Not a popular word in today's secular culture.  In fact, the world would have us think that our perception of sin is archaic and meaningless.  And Satan is lurking about, just salivating at the prospect of pushing us into situations that, if we are not standing firm in God's Word, are sure to make us slip and fall.

But ironically, it is our own propensity to sin, which threatens us more than all the temptations thrown at us by Satan and the world at large.  As Jerry Bridges states in Chapter Twelve, The Discipline of Watching, in his book, The Discipline of Grace:  "Our only safeguard is a sense of deep humility as we realize how powerful indwelling sin still is.  Never begin to think there are areas of temptation where you don't need to be on your guard.  That could be your downfall."

Imagine a night watchman, standing guard over and patrolling a warehouse.  At first, he is diligent, taking his responsibility to protect the property entrusted to him with all seriousness.  But as night after night after night drags on, and nothing of danger or consequence occurs, the watchman is tempted to let down his defense.  "After all," he reasons to himself, "nothing ever happens out of the ordinary.  I think I'll skip that second patrol tonight.  It's just a waste of time and energy."

Little does he know that someone has been casing the property, watching and waiting for such an opportunity to break in, unnoticed.  The successful robbery that ensues costs the night watchman his job.

And that is how sin creeps into our lives when we fail to be vigilant in our study and application of God's Word in our lives, and our failure to recognize that our only hope to stand against evil is with His help.  Bridges writes:  "Another area where we need to be watchful is the little things of everyday life, the little issues that seem so unimportant - the little lie, the little bit of pride, the little lustful glance, or the little bit of gossip.  These may seem too small to bother about, but the Scripture says they are 'little foxes that ruin the vineyards.' (Song of Songs 2:15)"

As soon as those unhealthy thoughts or words form in our minds, we need to turn them over to God and seek His forgiveness.  Otherwise, those "little foxes" will overrun us, tearing us apart from within.

This chapter brought to mind the song, Slow Fade by Casting Crowns, which you can listen to here, and the chorus below reminds us of just how insidious those "little" sins can be.


It's a slow fade when you give yourself away.
It's a slow fade when black and white are turned to gray
And thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away.
People never crumble in a day.
It's a slow fade; it's a slow fade.

~



This is my last week participating in the study of Jerry Bridges' The Discipline of Grace, led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, fellow Christian bloggers.  It's been a marvelous journey for me, and I hope it has been just that for you, too!
God bless!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Yours, Jack

Matthew 5:43-45
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous."

Dear C. S., (Or would you prefer "Jack" as your friends call you.)

I've read and admired your writing these many years.  Your convincing and compelling words have been instrumental in bringing me closer in my walk with God, and I am especially fond of The Chronicles of Narnia.  You have been my constant inspiration.  But then, again, you already know that.  You've, no doubt, seen your influence flush and present in my writing of The Glade Series and Adventures in The Glade. 

I am writing to you because I'm facing a dilemma in my Christian walk, one which I think you would completely understand, and be able to advise me as to how to move forward.  I don't wish to stay put.

So, here's my question:  When I know Jesus wants me to love my enemy, and the enemy professes to be a Christian, yet has betrayed me, how am I to progress?  I'm so confused and bruised in my heart and soul.  Can you help?  How I wish I could sit with you at a warm fireside and hear your voice in person!

With love and gratitude,

Martha Jane

~

Dear Martha Jane,

When you arrive here in heaven one day, I guarantee that there is already waiting a comfortable armchair in my parlor that will welcome your company.  There is more comfort here than one could, on earth, ever imagine; yet here, in the comfort, nothing grows stale, nor old, nor useless.  To the contrary, every moment is the most vibrant one you might only have had a glimpse of on your side. 

As to your question, my dear, the Lord bids me send you this passage from Mere Christianity:

We may punish if necessary, but we must not enjoy it.  In other words, something inside us, the feeling of resentment, the feeling that wants to get one's own back, must simply be killed.  I do not mean that anyone can decide this moment that he will never feel it any more.  That is not how things happen.  I mean that every time it bobs its head up, day after day, year after year, all our lives long, we must hit it on the head.  It is hard work, but the attempt is not impossible.  Even while we kill and punish we must try to feel about the enemy as we feel about ourselves - to wish that he were not bad, to hope that he may, in this world or another, be cured; in fact, to wish his good.  That is what is meant in the Bible by loving him; wishing his good, not feeling fond of him nor saying he is nice when he is not.

Martha Jane, I do hope these words help you find the answer to the question.  I am by no means the be all and end all - that's God's place.  Don't forget that, my dear, don't forget.  We are only the vessels, the clay in His hands.  Live out your life according to God's will and purpose.

May God bless you!

Yours, Jack

P. S. I do enjoy your books and love that Davy finds the answers in his own backyard.  No wardrobe here, as your friend, Glynn, observed, but the message is the same.  God sees to that.  He sees to everything.

~

Have you ever contemplated writing a letter to a most admired author?

Prayer:  Father, our lives are so beholding to those who have gone before us and paved the way to helping us know You more intimately.  We give thanks now for all those persons, past and present, who are not afraid to speak Your truths and walk in Your ways.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Two Roads Diverged


Romans 6:19
I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations.  Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness.

Choices.

We make them every day, don't we?  Some are as inconsequential as to whether to indulge in dessert or forego it.  Others carry more weight and demand careful consideration before we can choose wisely.

But it's those game-changing choices, which Paul refers to in the Scripture quoted above, we are called to make that can result in the be-all, end-all difference in our lives.

When I read Chapter Eleven of Jerry Bridges' book, The Discipline of Grace, entitled The Discipline of Choices, I immediately think of Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken.  The result?  A complete departure from how I traditionally blog here.

I have copied each verse of the poem, followed individually with Scripture and a quote from Bridges.  As you read, I invite you to think about the choices, large and small, you have made in your life.  Were they the best ones for you at the time?  Did you ever regret a choice you made?  Were there choices you made when you knew, beyond a doubt, that the Holy Spirit was guiding you?  Read on and enjoy!

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry that I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

"All these I have kept," the young man said.  "What do I still lack?"
Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.  Then come, follow me."
When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
~Matthew 19:20-22

"The Bible is indeed a very relevant book giving instruction and guidance for our daily lives.  In following the instruction, however, we are continually faced with a series of choices.  ~Jerry Bridges

Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as far that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
~Proverbs 14:12

"In other words, the practice of putting off sinful attitudes and actions and putting on Christlike character involves a constant series of choices.  We choose in every situation which direction we will go.  It is through these choices that we develop Christlike habits.  ~Jerry Bridges

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
"You do not want to leave, too, do you?"  Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
~John 6:66-69

"Holiness of character, then, is developed one choice at a time as we choose to act righteously in each and every situation and circumstance we encounter during the day. ~Jerry Bridges

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.  From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
~John 14:6-7

"We become more holy by obedience to the Word of God, by choosing to obey His will as revealed in the Scriptures in all the various circumstances of our lives."  
~Jerry Bridges

" . . . all the various circumstances . . ."

Have you chosen your path, or are you still standing at the crossroads?

~



Thank you for being a part of this journey through Jerry Bridges' The Discipline of Grace.  It is led by fellow Christian bloggers Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter.  As I will be on vacation the third week in September, my next Wednesday post will be my final one concerning this book.  Hope to see you then!
God bless!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Wonderfully Made


(L-R) Virginia Rose, Savannah Jane, and daughter, Sarah, holding Alexandra Nancy


Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Although there are many, many things in my life that make me happy, none can compare to spending time with our three granddaughters, Virginia Rose, Savannah Jane and Alexandra Nancy.  They are the sheer delight of this Gammie's heart.  I love the times when I get to babysit the youngest two or have big sister, Virginia, over to spend the night.

What I find most amazing about each girl is how different they are from one another, not just in looks, but in personalities.  Yes, even though Savanna is two and Alexandra is one, they already exhibit certain traits and styles unique to them.


Alexandra Nancy - The Observer

Alexandra watches everyone - closely!  This child could win a staring contest hands-down.  She will gaze up into the faces of those around her, studying them painstakingly, as if she is penetrating their very souls.  Sounds unnerving, but it's just the opposite.  When Alexandra intently peruses my own face, I feel all she wants to do is know the real me.  She is, in the immortal words of William Blake, seems to be "trailing clouds of glory."

She is easy-going, easy-to-please, and tries her best, after spending time in careful scrutiny, of course, to do all the things she sees Savannah doing, including climbing up on the furniture.  My phrase for Alexandra is:  "I look before I leap."  (Interestingly enough, Alexandra's middle name, Nancy, is my mother's.  Mom's grandfather nicknamed her "Eyes" when she was young because she never missed a thing!)


Savannah Jane - The Dreamer

Savannah is in her own little world.  I've never seen a child so young entertain herself so completely without sibling or adult interaction.  Although she is talking intelligibly here and there, she babbles to herself as she plays in what I can only describe as "Savannah-ese."

Savannah has a healthy, if not overactive, imagination that heralds great creative promise.  I don't think she'll ever utter those dreaded words, "I'm bored," becaue she has her own fantasies to entertain her.  I'm thinking hoping she might follow in Gammie's writing footsteps, and always hold on to that flight of fancy.  My phrase for Savannah?  "If I can dream it, I can do it!"


Virginia Rose - The Go-Getter

There's never a camera on hand or a challenge to be met that Virginia isn't prepared to greet with a winning smile and a positive attitude.  For her, every stranger is a potential friend, and every friend deserves a hug.  Social, talkative, full of stories, singing, and dancing, Virginia's personality is magnetic, inviting, and most importantly, loving.

She has developed a healthy curiosity about God and Jesus, and acts toward others by the Golden Rule, though she does not yet comprehend it all.  Virginia's motto?  "Love makes the world go 'round!"

All our granddaughters are unique, fearfully and wonderfully made.

All loved and created by our magnificent and infinitely merciful God.

Oh, how I give thanks and praise to our Father for His gift of grandchildren, and all the timeless truths their presence offers to us, when our hearts and minds are open to see the beauty in each of them!

~

In examining your own personality, what would be your motto, or phrase, which best describes you?

Prayer:  Father, we give thanks today for the unique gifts and talents You bestow upon all of us.  Let us be encouragers and nurturers, for Your sake, of the wondrous abilities You have given to those in our care, be they children, grandchildren, friends, spouses, or co-workers.  Bless them all with Your constant and loving presence.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Convicted!


Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf
does not wither
Whatever he does prospers.

I do not hail from a church tradition where the memorization of Scripture is either practiced or encouraged.  Although I read my Bible daily, and peruse dozens of Christian blogs where Scripture is always present, I've never attempted to commit any to memory with the exception of my life verse, Micah 6:8.

But as I read Chapter Ten of Jerry Bridges' book, The Discipline of Grace, I am convicted by the following words:  "Meditation on Scripture is a discipline.  We must commit ourselves to be proactive.  We must memorize key passages (or carry them on cards) so that we can think about them.  We must be alert for those times during the day when we can turn our minds to the Word of God, and then we must do it.  Even the practice of daily Bible reading is insufficient if we go the rest of the day without meditating on some truths of Scripture."

Convicted!

As luck God would have it, just this week I ask my friend, Jean Wise, who blogs at Healthy Spirituality, which prayer app, alluded to in one of her posts, she uses on her phone.  It's called Echo Prayer, which my husband, Danny, promptly downloads for me (yes, I'm technically challenged).  This app allows you to type in your favorite prayers, and it will send you reminders at specific times or dates so you can recite that prayer.  How awesome is that?

But for me, the best part about Echo Prayer, considering my new commitment to memorizing Scripture, is I can type in the verses I wish to learn, and it will rotate through them at random.  Or I can choose to focus on one verse at a time, all day long, until I feel confident that I have it down pat.

So which verses do I start with?  Again, I take Bridges' sage advice:  "So I encourage you to memorize Scriptures that deal with particular temptations to which you are especially vulnerable.  Then ask the Holy Spirit to bring them to your mind at times of temptation."

One particular downfall of mine, which I described in last Wednesday's blog, is being judgmental and angry when someone on the road pulls a foolish stunt.  So I'm beginning with these verses:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  ~Matthew 7:1

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.  ~Isaiah 26:3

If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and heal their land.  ~2 Chronicles 7:14

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.  ~Psalm 86:15

I'm so looking forward to adding more Scripture and memorizing God's Word as the weeks and months roll on.

What about you?  Do you regularly commit Bible verses to memory?  If so, how are some of the ways that have helped you to be successful in this endeavor?  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

God bless!





For the next three weeks, I will be participating in a study of Jerry Bridges' The Discipline of Grace.  It is led by fellow Christian bloggers, Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter.  Hope you will take a moment to visit their blogs, and those of the other participants, Glynn Young and Dusty Rayburn.  Be sure to leave a comment!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Slip-Sliding Away


Psalm 94:18
When I said, "My foot is slipping," your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.

When the phone call comes, I feel myself slip-sliding away.  I'm caught off balance.  And in the shock of it all, I'm amazed at how God, in His unfailing love, allows me to think clearly when the fog of confusion rolls in, deep and dark and treacherous.

I, with my family's complete support, am able to meet this immediate need of our loved one, who has unexpectedly found himself in dire straits.  The rug has been yanked out from under him.  His feet have slipped.

He's lost his compass, and is in need of ours.

It's there.

There because of God's unfailing love.

The scenario, which plays out, as surrealistic and upending as it seems, is paradoxically an answer to months of prayer for this individual.  God did not act in a way I could ever have anticipated.  That's often His way.

And as we deal with the disruption in schedules and routines, riding the unpredictable emotional roller coaster, my prayers continue.  I need the Lord now more than ever.

He knows that, and invites me call upon Him, to lean into Him when I catch my focus and resolve slipping; my faith faltering.

Because I can only help this person whom I love when I understand God's unfailing love for him, for me, for all of us.  That love, the only love, that can support, uplift, save, and inspire us.

Yes, I'm leaning on God.

Leaning hard.

Because I know my feet, firmly planted in Him, will never lose their footing.

~
How had God's unfailing love supported you in times of trouble?

Prayer:  Father, today we thank You for answered prayers, even when those prayers fulfilled call for more prayers from our hearts.  We need You and Your unfailing love in our lives every day, that we might do Your will and serve others who are in need of comfort and hope.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.