Thursday, December 20, 2018

#32 An Advent Poem


At just the right time

He knocked at the door of my “Inn.”

My life was full – bustling and suffering.

Would I relegate Him to the cave in back

Or clear a room,

Clear my whole house,

So he could birth in me,

Live-with-me

A place where “Glory!” would sound?



Oh, the gifts that would come!

Could we, together, avoid an exile?

A death?

No.

Together,

We would live a stranger in this world,

The death of the old life and its power would pass

And rise to new.

Glory!


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

What God wants

When God Wants a Man

(Anonymous)



When God wants to drill a man and thrill a man and skill a man...

When God wants to mold a man to play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart to create so great and bold a man that all the world shall praise...

Watch His methods;

Watch His ways!



How He ruthlessly perfects whom He royally elects...

How He hammers him and hurts him,

And with mighty blows converts him

Into frail shapes of clay that only God understands. 
How his tortured heart is crying and he lifts beseeching hands...

How he bends but never breaks when His good he undertakes.

How He uses whom He chooses...with every purpose fuses him;

By every art induces him to try His splendor out...

God knows what He's about!



When God wants to take a man and shake a man and wake a man...

When God wants to make a man to do the future's will;

He tries with all His skill...

When He yearns with all His soul to create him large and whole...

With what cunning He prepares him...

How He goads and never spares him! 
How He whets him and He frets him and in poverty begets him...

How often He disappoints whom He sacredly anoints!

With what wisdom He will hide him;

Never minding what betide him...

Though his genius sob with slighting and his pride may not forget;

Bids him struggle harder yet!

Makes him lonely so that only God's high messages shall reach him...

So that He may surely teach him what the hierarchy planned;

And though he may not understand...

Gives him passions to command.

How remorselessly He spurs him...

With terrific ardor stirs him

When He poignantly prefers him.



When God wants to name a man and fame a man and tame a man...

When God wants to shame a man to do His Heavenly best;

When He tries the highest test that His reckoning may bring...

When He wants a [god] or king;

How He reins him and restrains him so his body scarce contains him...

While He fires him and inspires him…

Keeps him yearning, ever burning for that tantalizing goal.

Lures and lacerates his soul...

Sets a challenge for his spirit;

Draws it highest then he's near it!

Makes a jungle that he clear it;

Makes a desert that he fear it...and subdue it, if he can -

So doth God make a man!


Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Dear Daddy - 6 June 2005

If you receive my words, hide them within yourself.
Proverbs 2:1

Dear Daddy,

I know you have so much to say to me and I don't always pursue them as fully as you offer them.  Your words.  The author of the Proverb says to "receive" your words. That is my quest, today, Daddy: to receive what you have to say to me.

Please, Daddy, place more opportunities in front of me to read, to listen.  Give me desire to go to your Word.  Help me to take in these words for your sake and mine.

I look forward to this day with you, Dad.

Love, Gina


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Grace and Gratitude


We get the teaching that we can do nothing to earn salvation, which is true, but that does not negate the responsibility of a response to God’s great gift of salvation and other related gifts:

· Forgiveness is ready but stays at the cross without the response of repentance.

·  Sanctification is a process as effective as the pursuance of it.

· Treasures in heaven are only as full as the storer’s commitment to abandon earthly treasure.

· James is clear and to the point:  Faith without works is dead.

· And even the hard gifts can only improve our perseverance and character if we respond God’s way.

Thus, grace does not exclude effort.  Yet, it is not a forced effort but a responsive one.  Gratitude is not “owing” someone, but a heart-felt response. Owing someone a response turns gift-giving into a business transaction and reduces the joy-response.  It turns heartfelt praise into duty.  And while there is nothing wrong duty, it should not come on the back of gratitude.

Gratitude is more like an echo that carries the original voice far and wide.  If an echo does not sound, it means there is something wrong with the chamber.  The main way to amend the chamber is to turn it into God’s.  The truest sense of gratitude is not just gratitude for the gift, but what it reveals about the character of God.  What the chamber seeking to reflect – itself or the voice.  Every return of favor is to extol the character of God, even in the demanding, the difficult, the discipline.

How much does the chamber of our being seek to know the most about God, seek the most of him? The hardest time to see God maybe in the difficult, but the hardest time to remember God is in plenty.

May we each desire the chambers of our heart to encompass all His gifts and echo his character to the world.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Dear Daddy - May 31, 2005

Oh, Daddy,

Don't let my heart be poisoned by negativity, by cruelty.  Please, lift me above the ashes of relationships that others have burned down.  Help me to heal.  Help me to initiate reconciliation.

I see, Daddy, why you want us to love each other; you want us to extend grace to each other.  It does not look Christ-like to be excluding others or by being unkind.  I look to you, Daddy, to help me rise above, to not be dismayed or put down or have my spirit crushed.

I want to be kind and gracious.  I want to extend You to others.  

Daddy, what will it take for someone to give their brokenness up?  When will healing begin?  Please, help!  Only You can change and heal those who need it. (and don't we all need it!)

Love, 
Your devoted daughter,
Gina

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Dear Daddy - May 31, 2005

Daddy, 


Your world is so soothing.  As I sit here in the shade of a tree with birds chirping around me, I consider how perfectly you made this world.  It perfectly protects and provides.  Here on an Ohio spring day it seems so calming.  That's how vacations should be!  Here it is the third day and I am completely at rest.  That was quick!

I had been contemplating why you allow for rest.  Daddy, you rested after creation and you created eternal rest for us, so I know you are committed to rest:  a place where strife is reduced and peace reigns.



I have to admit, I was feeling guilty about going on this vacation at first.  Almost like I "shouldn't" be leaving the demands of my workplace behind.  This speaks a warning to me:  I can easily get to thinking I am way too important!  You, Daddy, are the important one.  You can use anyone to do your work.  You just use me when I make myself available, but I am not critical to the accomplishment of your ways.  

Thanks for the relief!

Love, Gina
Hebrews 4:1

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Disciplines of Life

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man, 
And skill a man
To play the noblest part;
When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!
How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him
Into trial shapes of clay which 
only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And with every purpose fuses him,
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out - 
God knows what He's about!

      - V. Raymond Edman

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Letters to Daddy - May 6, 2005

Oh, Daddy,

You always show yourself faithful.  Quickly, you turned around the circumstances that were causing me to feel unsure.  Often, I want guarantees from my circumstances that I have designed, that I find to be the best.  Then you come up with guarantees that show me the most about you!  You are my guarantee!

I am grateful you showed me quickly after my request.  I know it doesn't always happen that way, but your quickness demonstrated that I am in your hands and in the right place.

When I can feel assured, then I now how much to plan, what goals to establish.  You are so good to me all the time, Daddy.  Praise to you!

Love, Gina

Monday, August 27, 2018

Dear Daddy - February 28, 2005

Daddy,

I need your words today!  I will soon be in a confrontation where I want to have your words;  I want to teach.  I want to influence, even if facing an attack.  Please, Daddy, give me your words and your humble Spirit.

Oh, Daddy, but what I need most is more of you!  I am finding it difficult to set aside as much time to devotion and meditation.  Claim my time for you, Daddy.  Set me apart for your use.

Is that what you want, Daddy?  For me to keep working?  Even so, I need more of you.  How else can I survive attacks or influence others, but that I have you?

So, Lord.  So, Dad, I can do this.  I can face them; I can facing losing my job, which is a secret fear of mine, because you will be working through all situations.  

Thanks, Dad!
Love, Gina

Jeremiah 1:19

Friday, August 17, 2018

Dear Daddy - February 26, 2005

Daddy,

You want me to resolve this right now with you, not just with another person.  While I dealt fairly with that person, you want me to give it up to you, too!  The Message says, "Don't stay angry.  Don't go to bed angry.  Don't give the devil that kind of a foothold..."

That's why you won't let me go to sleep.  I need your peace on this.  Ban the devil from tormenting me:  keep me from demanding perfection/performance from myself.

It is true, Daddy.  I need you to take over this.  Please, give my attacker peace.  Let him know I have a heart-felt forgiveness for him.  I promise I will tell him!  Give me your grace to be gentle with him and sensitive.  I want my forgiveness to be thorough.  Forgive me for not giving it more quickly.  Please, protect my attacker - no, my brother - so he can have a good sleep, a cleared mind, and grace for tomorrow.

Thanks for showing me your way, Daddy.  

Your devoted daughter, 
Gina

Monday, August 13, 2018

Dear Daddy - February 26, 2005

Dear Daddy,

I want to live righteously.  A "right" life which measures up against your standards.  Right now I am measuring my strong emotions with yours.  Do any of us have the right to our feelings?  Did I have the right to be angry?  Did I do the right thing with my anger?  The answer has to be "yes" since my brother, Jesus, demonstrated so many emotions.

I admit my emotions got the best of me, though.  James 1:20 says, "A person's anger does not work the righteousness of God."  It doesn't bring about the righteousness you desire.  So, Daddy, was any of my reaction sinful?

I teach adults in a stressful situation and they often purposefully want to avoid their role in the change situation they are in.  One of my students was rude, tried to take over the class to suit his needs.  I stopped class; I took a pause. I ended class with prayer; I left.  I went back to face my attacker after I calmed down. 

As  teacher with the mantel of authority on me, I felt the need to put limits on his future behavior.  I did the right things but I question myself because of my strong emotional reaction, which I still feel in this moment, hours later.

Daddy, show me where I went wrong.  Lead me to provide teaching and leadership around this incident.  Tell me what to do.

Love, Gina

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Dear Daddy - February 25, 2005

Psalm 91

Daddy!

Daddy, they're hurting him!  No matter how often people restate their position, it doesn't make them right nor convincing.  Protect your good name by protecting those who bear it! Let your Truth prevail!

If it be your will for your glory, let me give a good word about that Truth.  You open the door and I will step through, but only if you make it clear by opportunity and invitation.  I will refuse to extol sin nor will I malign a Christian person's character, especially in the presence of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  Honor belongs to your children; you give it to them.

Daddy, what do you want me to do?  Help me to tell the truth in love.  Help me to respond to your promptings not to react to situations.  Help me to be the best witness to the honor of your people and your glory, which covers them.

Love, Gina

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Letters to God - April 23, 2005

Genesis 1

Dear Creator,


"For purple mountains majesty,
above the fruited plain..."



I think of this phrase of America the Beautiful whenever we drive east from the central valley of California toward Tehachapi.  The Sierra Nevada arise up, deep blue above the desert floor, which at that end of the valley, is green with table grapevines, citrus and nut trees, cherry and peach trees.


Oh, Daddy, it is beautiful!  It is a wonder!  Your handicraft is beyond compare!  Thank you for making earth for us!  Thank you for giving me the eyes to see such grandeur! Last night there was lightning and thunder, fairly unusual in the desert.  
Daddy, what a reminder of your power and the complexity of your creation!  Really, Daddy, you are the greatest and I recognize that living on this earth means being blessed by the Best, blessed by you!


As I ponder your marvelous creation, I like to think how it says something about you, Father God:  that you are beautiful, a wonder, complex, powerful, life-sustaining, marvelous...There are not enough words to describe you!


Thanks for placing me in the midst of you!



Love, 
Gina




Thursday, July 26, 2018

Letters to God - April 5, 2005

Psalm 51

Dear Daddy, 

You have been so good to me!  I am not forgetting what you have brought me through.  I remember how you stood close when I made sinful choices and you correct me, disciplined me and nurtured me.  Thanks for not giving up on me!  I love being your child!  I love knowing that you will not abandon me, because you never have, even when I sinned.

Daddy, what more can I do for you?  How can I get more of you?

Thanks for my husband, who has shown me more of you.  Do I look more at him?  I want to copy more of his humble, quiet behavior.  I want to be steady like him...like you.

I recognize I have far from arrived.  Help me to stay teachable.  Reach me!  Thank you for returning the "joy of my salvation" (Ps 51:11) and that I get to "teach your way to sinners so that they will return to you."  What a joy to be at the center of your will and way.

Love, Gina

Friday, May 25, 2018

Romans 2:1-10

Key verses:  If your eyes shift their focus from yourselves to others – to judge how they are doing – you have already condemned yourselves! (1)  There is no doubt that the judgment of God will justly fall upon hypocrites who practice this. (2)  Do you take the kindness of God for granted?  Do you see His patience and tolerance as signs that He is a pushover when it comes to sin? 
There is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the world (5) will judge all people according ot what they have done (6).  He will give eternal life to those who persist in doing what is good, seeking after the glory and honor and immortality that God offers. (7)

But he will pour out his anger and wrath for those who live only for themselves, who refuse to obey the truth and who practice evil deeds. (8) 


The Romans Road is a rocky road.  While there is an offering of a great escape from sin, let there be no doubt, judgment will come for those who consciously and effectively sin.  There will be condemnation of wrong-doing and subsequent consequences.  Yes, let me use the word punishment.  God is kind, but He is not soft.  He is kind to allow time for people to repent, to make a real commitment to His truth but He will not ignore a life of evil.

This message is not one we are to use as a tool or device to judge others, but to judge ourselves.  We are tempted to look at the law and use it as a stick to measure others, but this chapter begins with the obvious that we are to examine ourselves.  Our harshness is often reserved for other sinners, but we are to be our own primary concern.  One author said this, “My sin looks so much worse on you.”  Here in chapter 2, it is clear that we only evaluate ourselves. For on “the day” made for judgment, it will all be made public, which includes whether our seriousness about sin applied to ourselves or others and whether we took God seriously or not.
Yet, the test for judgment will not be on the list of sins, but on those who pursue the truth God is looking for.  He is looking for the good in people:  those who persistently make it their business to do that which is  useful, pleasant, honorable  (and they get eternal life, uncorrupted, seen in the glory, honor and peace they will have).  We have to stay conscious and deliberate in doing good.  We make it our business to enact good in every part of our life.  God is noting this.  He is planning a reward for this.
Paul is trying to demonstrate how God has looked for dedication and consistency towards good.  A “slip” does not bring condemnation.  Rather, what business are we known for?  To what are we dedicated?  What is our main aim?  As we explore how to move toward the moral good which is to infiltrate our lives, let us seek how God defines this path.  This is the call of the entire New Testament, to let Jesus lead.  Beware of the business of evil, where we love and pet old behaviors and refuse the great kindness of God which calls us away from that which leads to our ruin.  Some people resist this change.  They would rather be ruined than make changes.  Don’t let that be you!








Thursday, May 10, 2018

Romans 1:18, 19


God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness.  They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.

I think we have taken God too lightly for too long!  Doing so not only keeps us from the greatest truth about his love for us but also the great truth about his view of sin.  He is pissed about it.  (There I said it!) If we take God seriously, we should be afraid of His anger about sin.  I can see the  dismissal of God’s place and power when we reduce sin to inconsequential definitions which minimize its impact on God and the consequences He intends for it.

The rest of this chapter lists the litany of sins which result from the character traits of “sinful” and “wicked.”  The list which follows stems from the inherent descriptions of these two words.  “Sinful” is translated in the King James as “ungodliness,” which, in the Greek, means a lack of reverence for God.  This seems to indicate a “not God” attitude, which doesn’t include God nor give credit to God and reduces God as if he isn’t looking or cares about bad behavior.  “Wicked” is translated in the King James as “unrighteousness,” which is a lifestyle of injustice – acts which violate God’s law and justice.  It is a lifestyle of deeds against humanity.

This addresses the conscious and deliberate act and lifestyle of rejecting God’s place and due honor and refusing His ways.  God lets people have their way when they choose to ignore Him.  He lets us tell ourselves the lies, which then rule in us.  That is what wickedness does.  It purports lies that cause us to deny the significance of God and his plan for us.  Refusing to worship God causes people’s lives to trivialize and fall into confusion.  They bear the weight of a life removed from truth and its covering, from God himself, and, thus, dismissed from the sanctity of life as God intended.  People exchange the truth of God for a lie that denies not only God, but their own significance and purpose.

How often we hold onto the world’s lies over God’s truth!  We can see it heightened and devolving in American culture.  Wickedness in inappropriate sexual behavior and demoralizing violence is extolled by the media, no matter what injustice it brings.  We are completely saturated a the culture which promotes wandering sexuality, enacting violence on others (read anything from the NRA and its supporters) and the absence of God in any public discourse.  The overt lies get translated to individuals in subtle and not-so-subtle ways.  People, whether male or female, do not think they measure to their gender’s standards.  Social media is used to bully.  Families perpetuate violence from generation to generation.  It seems unabated.

I have to live in this culture.  I benefit from the culture.  How can I be sure I do not participate in its wickedness?  I am selective about what movies I watch and music to which I listen and by not copying any of the language associated with either.  I live out wholesome sexuality.  I do not participate in violence, including murderous threats and accusations.

These may seem obvious or simple, but how easy is it for someone to say about a shoot-em-up movie, “It’s just a movie.” Or about certain kinds of sexualized lyrics, “It’s good ole’ rock-n-roll.”  How pure are your thoughts about your marriage partner or how you live out celibacy, if single?  In light of great harm done by others against us, how easy is it to devise harm in return?

God will stand for none of it!  The rest of chapter one of Romans tells of the opportunities He gives for people of the world to see Him and, when they refuse,  lets people live their lies out, as if they are true.  He abandons them, which might be the greatest punishment of all.  That abandonment can be seen in the description of “sins” in Romans 1:25-32.  It is “normalized” culture today.  The lie has become true.