Sunday, April 24, 2016

It is well with my soul

"When peace like a river attendeth my way
 When sorrow like sea billows roll
 Whatever my lot,
 Thou hast taught me to say
 It is well, it is well with my soul."


How long does that take? 

How many lessons until one can say - "whatever their lot" - that it is well with their soul?

Here is the value of a long obedience in the same direction. 
Here is where a lifetime of faith stands to answer the question.

How does one learn that the Lord is faithful?
By going through many things one wishes to never have had happened.

Who would chose hardship? pain? difficulty? disappointment? financial downturn, poor health, or stressful circumstances?  

I'm not seeing many raised hands...

But to get the point where we can stand in our churches and sing these words honestly...well, we have to go through those lessons. Through the experiences of our lives we find that our God is good and loving and gracious and faithful and strong and true through those times when we are not. 

And after a lifetime of learning, we affirm the truths;

 "Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. 
And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character - that is, approved faith and tried integrity.  and character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God's love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-5 (Amplified version)

Whatever my lot
Thou  has taught me (and I have learned it through demonstration and experience of Your strength, love, and faithfulness) to say
It is well
It is well with my soul.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Musical Snapshots

Because of how the space time continuum works, it is impossible for us to truly go back and remember how we used to be now that we are who we are.  That being said, there are ways that give us a pretty good idea; our own memories, the memories of others, writings, and , the thing that never lies, pictures.

A snapshot from the past is always an interesting thing is it not?

 Nothing like seeing a picture and remembering that  once you were probably thinner, less wrinkled, had non-gray or more hair, and, to current eyes, a really bad sense of fashion!

This weekend I was treated to some snapshots via music as I pulled out some CD’s (hey, at least they weren’t eight tracks!) from ten and twenty plus years ago.  The first was the oldest, a pop artist whose every lyric I identified with.  His sentiments were my own.  This was my music, my story. 

 It was like seeing myself with an 80’s perm…

The music was angst-driven – ask my kids, I can no longer tolerate whiny music and when they are the DJing in the car they know to avoid it. The lyrics were familiar and reminded me of how I loved them and where I was and how I viewed life at that time. What a picture…

The second CD was more recent – Scott Krippayne’s Autobiography- from 2006. This had been in my regular rotation of music around that time but had gotten down to the bottom of the pile over the years – what a treasure to rediscover; like a photo with a good friend.

When it got to the song “You have been good”, my kitchen became a sanctuary and my heart lifted in worship.  These lyrics had been true then and now I’d lived a decade longer I had even more proof of their validity, or as the song itself says “Looking back over a lifetime, the evidence is clear. In so many ways You’ve been good to me”

If I never get to see another rainbow
Or share another laugh with a friend
If I never stand barefoot by the ocean
Or get to kiss my child good night again

If I never have another prayer that's answered
Or have another blessing come my way
If this is all I know of heaven's kindness
Father, I would still have to say

You have been good
You have been good
And I am in wonder how could it be
You have been good
You've been so good
So many ways You've been good to me

You have shown me mercy upon mercy
Grace upon grace, time after time
But  I know all too well what I'm deserving
Yet, You are still so patient and kind

If suddenly it all were ended
And Your mercies disappeared
Looking back over a lifetime
The evidence is clear
You have been good
You have been good
And I am in wonder how could it be
You have been good
You've been so good
 In so many ways You've been good to me.

Musical snapshots: 
I have changed, 
Amen!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

#Sundayscoming

I've been seeing #Sundayscoming a lot this season and I get it and I love it - yes, Easter Sunday is just around the corner - Alleluia, Amen, Christ will be risen from the grave!

But today it's Saturday.

Typically I miss Saturday.  I observe Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  I leave sanctuaries sad and solemn, aware that the payment for my sin was causing Christ great pain. I exit awed and grateful.

And then it's this morning and I watch the sun come up and plan my Easter menu and activities and do some baking and cleaning and generally have a regular day because I already know what's happening tomorrow.  

And I miss it.

I miss where we actually live; we live here in the "Now what? Saturday".

Any loss, after the shock has lessened, brings this question.  Loss of ability, of a job, of a position, of possessions; after the incredulousness of  "I can't believe that just happened" comes the "now what?".

The older I get the more friends I have who are experiencing the greatest loss, the death of one they love. Spouses, friends, parents and children have left their lives. I see their posts on Facebook on anniversary's of deaths, the times they're overwhelmed and reaching out for comfort for years afterwards...death has ripped their lives apart and I wish that their"Saturday" was only short time the disciples experienced. 

Now what?

Now that all we understood and were believing in and hoping for has been rendered cold and lifeless, now what?

Now that our closest companions are despair and hopelessness, now what?

Now that all my conscious and unconscious expectations for the future have forever altered, now what?

Where is Sunday?

I believe that for those of us who love God Sunday is coming.  
He's promised to never leave us (Hebrews 13:5) and that He gathers all our tears in a bottle. (Psalms 56:8) He knows our every sigh (Psalms 38:9) and heals the brokenhearted. (Psalms 147:3).
He has assured us that all things are working together in a plan for our lives that is ultimately for our good and His glory to make us more like Him. (Romans 8:28,29).  

I think that's powerful; knowing that our Saturday's are not random tragedies but part of God's plan. From our perspective two thousand years later we can say to the grieving and confused disciples, "Hold on, Sunday is coming". 

And today, in your Saturday, it's true for you too.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Seeing the Big Picture

I'm fairly certain this is some kind of computer optical illusion; nevertheless, it is mind blowing and illustrates an excellent point.

First, click on link under the picture and scroll to go deeper into the picture...
then come back here...


Amazing isn't it?  The more you scroll, the deeper the pictures go; so deep in fact that you totally lose sight of the "big picture".

To me this is a perfect illustration of God's working in our lives and circumstances - we have no idea on what level of detail what is happening in our lives is to the enormity of the picture of our own story and then how it plays into God's plan that spans all of history. But it does.  We have confidence that God is working all things together for the good of those who trust Him. (Romans 8:38) therefore we can "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all your do, and He will show you which path to take" Proverbs 3:5,6 (NLT)






Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When there isn't time for "coffee"...

Perhaps my most favorite time in the world is when I sit down with a friend for coffee, or tea, or breakfast, lunch, dinner, mid morning snack, pie, ice cream... well, you get the idea.

There is nothing like an hour of uninterrupted, distraction free time with someone you love, right?

However life is much too busy to stop for coffee as often as I'd wish so there's always the ability to make a phone call - or send an email - or, when everyone and everything is spinning like a whirling dervish, a text.  There are ways to stay connected until there is again time for "coffee".

I can't help but wonder if a little bit of this idea is germane to I Thessalonians  5:17 where we are told to "Pray without ceasing".  Could this also really just be saying "stay connected"?

There are times and seasons where I have the opportunity to really settle into good conversation with the Lord, and then there are others where I'm meeting myself coming and going. This is such a season; so I got up even earlier this morning so we would have some extended time together, and fell asleep right over God's Word - how embarrassing to nod off in the middle of a conversation! :)

But I've realized today again that God knows my heart and if this day all I can do is "text", to speak to Him as I go about the day's demands, then it is well with my soul. And I can say as the psalmist in Psalm 27:8 "My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me' And my heart responds, 'Lord, I am coming'"! 


Thursday, January 16, 2014

The BIG Questions

The sun has past its zenith and the ground is filled with people as far as the eye can see; thousands and thousands of people who'd come to hear Jesus, hungry for truth and by now, just plain hungry.

Philip feels a nudge and Jesus asks "Where shall we buy bread for all these people to eat?" (John 6:5)

Philip, surveying the crowd turns to Jesus and replies incredulously "Eight months wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!" (vs. 7) or "it would take a small fortune!" 

Today he'd probably say "Seriously?!"

To their credit the disciples were examining their resources; Jesus had made them responsible by asking the question and they were assessing what little they had in the face of such a great need.  As you know they brought forward the small boy's lunch of five rolls and two fish and presented it to Jesus - in essence saying - "This is all we've got".

Then Jesus gave them instructions - and they followed them seating the people in groups, passing out baskets of food and we finish the passage seeing the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand.
It's amazing!
It's incredible!
but it seems to have so little to do with life today as we know it...

Go back to verses 5 and 6 "Turning to Philip He asked ' Philip where can we buy bread to feed all these people?'  He was testing Philip because He already knew what He was going to do."

Why did Jesus ask Philip what to do? Why did he lay that responsibility on him?
If He already knew what He was going to do and He already knew that Philip didn't have the resources to meet such a need; why did He ask?

Why are our lives full of BIG questions? Why are we overwhelmed with situations we do not have the resources for: the relationships, and financial hardships, the medical issues and soul-shattering problems that plague us?

I wouldn't doubt that every person reading this has a "I've only have five rolls and two fishes and five thousand people to feed" situation in their lives.

Why the BIG questions?

Because God wants to show us that He is a BIG God - bigger than our resources, greater than our abilities, able to do exceedingly abundant above all that we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

I'm captivated by the line - "He already knew what He was going to do".  Whatever BIG questions are in my life God already knows the answer; already knows how all things will be worked out for my good so that I will be more like Jesus (Romans 8;28,29).

He knows, and I am learning, that when I am faced with a BIG overwhelming, no way my resources can even touch this problem kind of question, that the correct answer - every time- is to turn to Him.

Because He knows what He is going to do and all I need to do is follow His instructions.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

A Letter to Carol Gallowitch, and Sunday School teachers everywhere

Dear Carol,
Forty-two years ago today you were a thirty something year old mom of four small children who'd probably dropped them off in their various Sunday School classes after the "fun" of getting a family ready for church on a Sunday morning...
And then you went, not to be ministered to, but to minister; to teach five and six year olds about Jesus.

I wouldn't be surprised if you left that morning after class and went about your day as if it were a regular Sunday, but it wasn't for me because it was that Sunday - Jan. 9, 1972 - that you told me that Jesus was knocking on my heart's door (Revelations 3:20) and you stayed after class and prayed with me because I wanted to let Him in.

I've worked with five and six year olds, prayed with them and their sweet tender hearts - never knowing if they really understood  they were doing...but that day I did.
You introduced me to the Lover of my soul. You told me He was calling my name and that if I would open the door and hear His voice, He would come into my heart - and He did and I've heard His voice now for decades as we've walked through life together.

Thank you for introducing a little girl to Jesus.
Thank you that, while you were crazy in the midst of a house full of young children, you faithfully ministered to other people's kids.
Thank you that through the entirety of my life that I've watched the example of you and Norm and seen, lived out for a lifetime, what it means to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength.

I know at times that I feel I've not done anything of great significance for God.  I faithfully serve in the opportunities He presents - to sing, or teach, or encourage but I've never done anything huge - maybe you have (because I don't want to say you haven't!) but what I've watched is your consistent love - singing, serving, opening your home to people constantly, praying for and with those you love - and as a result of your faithfulness you gave me the most important relationship of my life and I am and will continue to be eternally grateful.
Love, Becky