Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Do Not Let Us Fall . . .


1 Corinthians 10:13
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Let's not fool ourselves.  Temptations are rampant in this world, ringing our doorbells, our cell phones and our social media for recognition and submission to their alluring whims.  It is, as the Scripture above states, common to mankind.

But it's not part of God's plan for us to fall into the traps others might lay along our path.  Recently, I have to intercede, rather forcefully, but I pray, lovingly, to make my point with a person very dear to me.  It's not where I want to be.  After all, who wants to nail another on a major shortcoming when I know I have my own to bear?  My own plank in the eye when I'm trying to remove the mote from another's?

Yet, the disastrous potential for this loved one begs intervention, encouragement, and assurance of support.  He is currently blinded by the promises of the world, false at best, evil at worst.  His choices made in the recent past have been neither wise nor life-giving.

I can't stand idly by without attempting, at least, to be his voice of reason.  A convincing, convicting voice of reason.  And that wisdom comes only from God, by humbling myself in prayer and supplication before Him

Ironically, Pope Francis' recent proclamation to change The Lord's Prayer hits the nail on the head for me.  What follows is an excerpt from an article published on Fox News:

The Catholic leader changed the phrase "lead us not into temptation" to "do not let us fall into temptation," as mentioned in the gospel of Matthew 6:13, because the original translation implies that God induces temptation.  The change, officials said, is closer to the original intent of the prayer.  "I am the one who falls; it's not Him pushing me into temptation to then see how I have fallen," Francis explained to Italian broadcasters about the phrase change.  "A father doesn't do that, a father helps you to get up immediately.  It's Satan who leads us into temptation, that's his department."

I like this change, because in my heart, I know it's true.  God never tempts us, only Satan does.  It is our faith in God's saving grace that allows us to resist the temptations that bombard us daily, and threaten to separate us from Him.

So, my constant and consistent prayer for this loved one in need of the Father's guiding hand, is that he would come to know that God stands at the ready to help him resist the temptations that would destroy the life the Lord has planned for him.  God always provides the way out when we trust in Him.

Let us pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
Do not let us fall into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.

Amen!

Friday, June 7, 2019

At Your Service


Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

For the most part, I have no beef with AT&T as my cell phone provider.  The signal is strong and reliable in the metro area where we live.  No missed calls (unless I choose to miss one), no dropped calls; just dependable service.

But take the phone to rural Oxford, and all bets are off!

I find this particularly frustrating during my last visit with Mom, as I'm expecting to hear from my doctor's office regarding some lab results.  Twice, they try to reach me, and each time, my phone refuses to ring, sending the caller straight to voicemail.  Ugh!  I have to use my mother's land line just to call them back, and leave a message for them to contact me on her phone.  What a hassle!

Then there's the constant challenge of text messaging.  There are areas of Mom's house that are "dead" zones, where the words, "No Service," show up where I should see at least one "bar."  I've even had to walk outside, all the way to the end of the driveway, to snag a signal strong enough to send the text.  I can't begin to count the times when messaging fails, and I'm prompted by my phone to try again.

And again.

And again.

Exasperating!!!

~

Although my phone fails to connect, I never have to worry about connecting with God through prayer.  No matter where I am, where I go, with others or alone, He is my constant companion.  I take great comfort in knowing He is present always, whether I feel Him there in the moment.

Because faith has nothing to do with feeling, and everything to do with trust.  Trusting wholeheartedly in the One who keeps His promises, whose hand will guide me, whose right hand will hold me fast.

God, my friends, is holding your hands, too.

And He is forever and always at your service.

Amen!

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Taking the Heat


Matthew 16:18
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

In the past, when my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, and I travel to the historic town of Oxford, Georgia, to visit my mother, the weather is remarkably cooperative.  Yes, there are the occasional showers, but always a plethora of dry, temperate days to satisfy our outdoor inclinations.  Whether it's kicking the ball or throwing the frisbee in Mom's extensive yard, or walking the nature trail, Virginia and I traditionally spend more time outside than in.

Not this time around . . .

We are smack dab in the middle of an oppressive heat wave.  Temperatures soar to and stay in the 90s for most of each day, making outdoor recreation an undesirable activity.  Virginia does venture outside, but stays beneath the shade of the trees.  I hate not joining her, but this Gammie does not do well in sweltering temps.  I just can't take the heat!

One evening, though, after dinner, Virginia begs me to go on a walk.  Yes, it is a few degrees cooler than earlier in the day, but she really has to coax me to acquiesce.  "Okay, honey," I say with a sigh, "we can take a walk, but only to the Old Church and back."

Satisfied with this short stroll, Virginia bounds out the door eagerly, as I reluctantly follow behind.  We saunter casually and reach our destination, not without shedding a few droplets of sweat along the way.  Standing on the walkway to the church, something catches my eye.  Is the door to the church open?  Yes, it is!  I see people moving around inside.  "Look, Virginia, that door is open.  Let's see if we can go inside so you can see what the church looks like!"

We are welcomed by a gentleman who knew my father when he was alive, and knows my mother well.  He is the chair of the Oxford Historical Society, and is showing the church to a couple contemplating getting married there.  And what's more, the air conditioner is on.  What a blessing!

Of course, Virginia is delighted to look around this simple, yet elegant, building that has seen generation upon generation pass through its doors.  Though only used for special occasions now, the Old Church still has a dignified, sanctified feel about it, and Virginia enjoys taking it all in.



See the balcony?  Unfortunately, it was closed, so we couldn't explore.




And yes, there are even old timey fans in the pews.  Virginia has to try them out!





Once our visit is over, and we are back at the house, I can't help but wonder about Peter.  When Jesus commissions him as the rock upon which God's church is to be built, did he even have one inkling as to what that would mean for him?  For the generations that would follow?

And how could Peter ever imagine the eventual proliferation of church after church after church in a country that wouldn't be discovered until 1500 years later?  Bottom line?  He couldn't!

But I like to think Jesus did when He placed that power and authority on Peter's shoulders.  Yes, The Way would be persecuted, marginalized, and threatened in its infancy, but it would prevail and flourish as it does to this day, in spite of anti-Christian factions that are rife in our modern, secular culture.

Those flaming, scorching gates of Hades can try every evil in the book to overcome the church, but they'll never win.

Because Jesus, and His church, can take the heat!

Amen!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Modern Day Pharisees


Matthew 23:15
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!  You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.


We know better
Than you
You can trust in us
When we tell
You what
You should believe
How you grasp
At ancient straws
Outmoded, outdated, wrong
We are right
Shine your light?
Ours is much brighter
Flaming conflict
Igniting chaos
Confusion rules the day?
Good!  Less grounded,
You surrender
Your defiant will
To present time
Today's agenda
We will wear you down
We will wear you down.

Amen

School's out!!!  Virginia and I will be leaving for Oxford this coming Monday to spend the week with Mom.  And you know what that means!  That's right, I won't be blogging during this time, and can't guarantee I'll be able to visit with you, but we'll see.  Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, my friends!  Blessings!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

In All Their Splendor


Matthew 6:28-29
"And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these."

Yes, I know I'm late to the party this year.  Usually, my husband, Danny, and I select flowers for our deck in April, and here it is, May, and we finally, finally get around to purchasing and planting them.


Those of you who have followed this blog for some time already know that our house is tucked away in the forest, so our deck receives more shade than sun.  That limits plant choices somewhat, but I think the blooms we choose this year are already stunning.

The tried and true Double Impatiens are, of course, included in the mix.



Pretty in pink, don't you think?

Despite our begonias turning into "begone-ias" last year, we take another chance on them.  They aren't an overly dramatic plant, but beautiful still the same.



We decide to take a risk on two new, to us, shade-tolerant plants.  This one is called the Summer Wave Bouquet.



Isn't it elegant?  The blossoms' shape reminds me of Morning Glories.

This delicate plant is called Aretes Upright.  Odd name, for sure, but a delight for the eyes, nonetheless.



All of these beauties promise to bloom until autumn, which doesn't arrive here in Georgia until late October/early November.  I'm so looking forward to the months ahead where, every day, when I sit on our deck, these flowers, in all their splendor, will remind me of how wondrous God's creation truly is.

Amen!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Virginiaisms


Matthew 5:44-46
"You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.'  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.  He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

I'll go down to hell, smack the devil with love, and knock him out with kindness. ~Virginia Rose (July 2018)

I'm perusing some journal notes I take last year when I come across this quote from granddaughter, Virginia.  Surely I had plans at the time to create a blog post featuring her precocious words, but other distractions and demands, obviously, place it on the back burner.  I am delighted beyond words to rediscover her unique and brilliant insight of godly wisdom at the ripe old age of eight!

And there are so many more "Virginiaisms" which I document and now share with you here.

I love my life!  Virginia declares this often, and with complete conviction, ever since she turns seven.  Her Papa (Danny) and I are always thrilled when she emotes this affirmation of joy and positivity.  Shouldn't more of us be saying that, and thanking God for this one life He has made possible?

My life can get complicated.  Oh, yes, it can!  To grasp that concept takes some mature understanding, doesn't it?  Virginia opens herself up to a fabulous teachable moment:  When life gets tough, the tough turn to God.

In response to my question posed last year, "Virginia, do you understand what sarcasm is?," she replies, Yeah, right!  I think she gets it, hands down!

Last summer, when the lightning bugs are swarming, we give Virginia a jar with holes punched in the lid so she can capture the fleeting beauties to her heart's content.  After a few minutes, she returns the jar to me.  I don't need to capture them in this.  I just want to feel them on my hands and set them free.  Ahh . . .

If the devil wasn't in the world, there would be no scary movies.  Amen to that, girlfriend!

When Virginia discovers that our new end tables have USB ports where she can charge her beloved tablet, she exclaims,  Hallelujah!  God has awoken!  Admit it!  Don't we all feel that way about technology at times?

Two weekends ago, when Virginia is with us, she looks up at me wistfully.  It's a shame how time flies.  Oh, yes, precious one, it flies excruciatingly quickly.  In your child's bubble of innocence, how do you know?  Yet, you do.

We attend church that Sunday, and remark about how well-behaved and attentive she is throughout the service.  Virginia tells us honestly, I'm really just here for the music.  But what better way to worship God than through praise-filled songs?  King David knew that!

And circling back to the first quote from Virginia, she confides, in all seriousness, her reaction to being seated next to a grandmotherly chaperone on a recent field trip with her class.  I know she's someone's grandma, but the nicest grown-ups have the darkest souls.

Let that sink in . . .

I know, the minute those words escape Virginia's lips, the immutable truth she has uttered:  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)  Too many times, Satan takes up residence in the most innocuous of persons.  Virginia seems to have that second sense that I pray will protect her as she grows in the knowledge and love of God.

And speaking of Satan, none of us like or appreciate that devil one iota.  We want to smack the living daylights out of him and his horrid influence on our world.  But let's do so as Virginia recommends:  Smack (him) with love, and knock him out with kindness.

It's a win-win!

One I think God would be proud of in the end.

Amen!


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Because of You


Psalm 34:4
Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the One who sustains me.

Lord, I have noticed
Your presence, here with me
Something undeserved
But will forever be
Because Your promise holds,
Your Word convicts, is true
When all else crumbles, fails,
I'm here because of You.
Amen.

My friends, I will be taking another break from the blog for the time being.  I'm going to visit with my mother for Mother's Day, and since I can never count on her dinosaur of a computer to respond how I hope, I'll not be publishing a new post until a week from this coming Friday (May 17th).  God's blessings upon you all, and especially for all the moms out there who sacrifice so much in the name of love for your children and your family!  And always remember the Lord who sustains us all!

Do Not Let Us Fall . . .

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.  And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempt...