Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Lamb of God


John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

Several weeks ago, my husband, Danny, and I are in Costco to purchase some routine items such as coffee and paper towels.  He decides, since we are already here, to peruse the meat section to see if he can find a bargain on items we usually purchase at our local Publix.  To his surprise, and mine, Danny returns to our cart carrying an item in which we've never once indulged.

"Look at this, Martha!"  Danny declares excitedly.  "It's boneless leg of lamb!  Costs a fortune at Publix, but what a deal I found here."

"You've never cooked one of those before, have you?"  I ask hesitantly, still thinking the lamb is on the pricey side.

"No, but there's a first time for everything," Danny assures me.  "If I do some research on the Internet, I know I can roast this lamb to perfection.  I can't walk away from this.  It's practically a steal!"

So we proceed to the checkout with a new culinary challenge in the offing.  As we head for home, I try to recall anything about the taste of lamb.  I can't.  No memories whatsoever.  I begin to wonder if I've ever tried it.  But when I place the first succulent and aromatic morsel into my mouth, I know I've never had it; I've never tasted anything more delectable and pleasing to the palate.  Chef Danny has, once again, outdone himself!

As I savor each bite of the lamb, I am suddenly made aware of why the lamb, young and sweet and tender, was the sacrifice of choice in the ancient Jewish tradition.  It stands head and shoulders above any other meat one could consume.  And if it so pleasing to man, it stands to reason that people assumed it would be just as pleasing to God.

And I am reminded, too, of the Last Supper.  This is my body . . .This is my blood . . . Do this in remembrance of me.  Jesus, who understood every facet of our human nature, associated His sacrifice for us with our most basic needs:  food and drink.  Physical manifestations of His spiritual grace.  Daily reminders of His presence with us.  That we might share in communion with Him at every meal.

The leg of lamb?  Expensive!

The Lamb of God?  Priceless!

~
Is it your tradition to say a blessing at every meal?

Prayer:  Father, let us give thanks for the nourishment You provide for us, recalling Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples.  Make us ever mindful of Christ's sacrifice for our sins that we might live reconciled to You.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Wind Blows



John 3:8
"The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with the Spirit."

Nine precious lives
Lives devoted to God
Taken by a madman
In the midst of their prayers
The wind blows wherever it pleases
Over a memorial
Flag flies in honor
Letting the wind set it free
Disgraced now by a madman.
The wind blows wherever it pleases
Take it down!  Take it down!
You will care!  Take it down!
We will shout you down!
The wind blows wherever it pleases
But you cannot tell
From where the wind is coming
From where it's going
Unless you're grounded
The wind blows wherever it pleases.
Born in Spirit
Born again
And borne on the wings of eagles
Souls ascend
The wind blows wherever it pleases

Prayer:  Father, it is our prayer today that Your grace and unfailing love be with those grieving the loss of these dear souls in Charleston, South Carolina.  What a blessing it must be to You to witness this entire community united in love for the hurting families in the wake of this tragedy.  May we all realize we are one body, unified by Your perfect Son, Christ Jesus, and treat each other always with the same love You show to us.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

For It Is Not Me Speaking


Mark 3:13:11
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

As those of you who regularly follow Meditations of My Heart already know, I submitted my second book in Adventures in The Glade to my publisher earlier this month.  The ending of Redemption, while seamlessly suited, is a sad one, so unlike previous novel endings which are either upbeat or cliff-hangers.  I think as I bundle the book and send it to my publisher, why not?  Why not break the rules you inadvertently set for yourself?  What's wrong with a not-so-happy ending?  After all, real life isn't about happily ever after, is it?

But over the next several days, my mind drifts back to the book.  To the ending.  I try to shake the feeling of uncertainty I have, but it refuses to be banished.  Instead, it grows, little by little, until it finally manifests into a restlessness which drives me back to the hard-copy manuscript lying on my desk.

I peruse the ending chapter of Redemption and the beginning paragraphs of the sequel, Revelation.  Then it hits.  Hard!  A bolt from the blue!  "I've got it!  I've got it!"  I shout to my husband, Danny, as I careen toward my computer.  "I know the ending Redemption should have!"

I pull up Word, and in a matter of minutes, write this:

 Davy lay restlessly upon his cot.  Visions of tomorrow with the promised river ride kept sleep at bay.  Those first glimpses of the Nantahala River played like a beloved song in his mind, calling to him, beckoning him to be one with the rolling rapids.  He felt something inexpressible was about to happen, but he could not fathom what that might be.  The feeling, both exciting and hopeful, remained elusive and indefinable.

Davy purposely turned his eyes toward the stars twinkling through the towering oaks.  What is it, Lord?  What will I find?  What will I know?  The stars winked their comforting acknowledgments, but offered no answers.  I'll find out tomorrow.  Racer will be with me then.  I'll find out tomorrow . . . 

I stare at these words, consumed by awe.  For once again, the Holy Spirit has seen fit to pay me an inspirational visit.  Of that, I am absolutely confident.  So much so, in fact, I do something I rarely, if ever, do.  I turn right around and send this addendum to my publisher.

No edits.

No changes.

Just.  As.  It.  Is.

For it is not me speaking.

It is the Holy Spirit.

~

Have you had an experience where you knew for certain the Holy Spirit was speaking to/through you?

Prayer:  Father, we thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who comforts, leads, and guides us in Your perfect will for our lives.  May we be ever open to allowing the Holy Spirit to move in us and through us to Your honor and glory.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.


Friday, June 19, 2015

Undivided Devotion


1 Corinthians 7:35
I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.

I really think paying attention to God is a key spiritual practice and one we don't always "pay attention" to.  ~Jean Wise at Healthy Spirituality 

When our granddaughter, Virginia Rose, visits with us, we engage in the usual activities:  Playing with Crazy Sand; building with Legos; searching Google images for pictures of spider webs (yes, I know that sounds odd, but she has a fascination with them); feeding the birds and squirrels, and completing several riotous rounds of the Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game.  But with Virginia's mother's birthday fast approaching, I steer her to the table, retrieve paper and crayons, and encourage her to create a memorable card.

Virginia works diligently, paying close attention to every detail as she draws.








Her devotion to her picture is undivided until the task is complete to her satisfaction.

Watching Virginia so focused upon her work makes me reflect on my own prayer life and relationship with God.  Am I praying with undivided attention?  Am I engrossed in His Word?  Am I paying attention to what the Lord is trying to tell me?

Or, am I flitting from pillar to post, allowing the vagaries of worldly thoughts to interfere with what should be a dedicated, distraction-free time with God?

As Jean Wise states above, "paying attention to God is a key spiritual practice."

I know the moments I spend with the Lord each day could use some fine tuning.

It's time for me to wake up and pay attention.

~

Are you giving your undivided devotion to God?  Are you paying attention?

Prayer:  Father, may we learn to pay better attention to You, not just in our study and prayer time, but throughout the day, that we might live, as Paul says, in a right way in undivided devotion to You.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

God's Thoughts, God's Ways


Isaiah 55:8-9
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.  "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways."

I'm driving my granddaughter, Virginia Rose, home last Tuesday after a marvelous play date when we hear the sound of sirens.  Sure enough!  Here comes a fire engine, lights flashing gaudily, barreling down the road with an ambulance trailing close behind.

"Look, Gammie, look!"  Virginia exclaims excitedly.  "It's a firetruck and ambulance!"

"I see, sweetie," I say.  "They must be on their way to an emergency somewhere near here."

We drive on for several more miles with Virginia babbling on about this thing and that.  She does love to talk, that's for sure.  I get such a kick out of all her stories, but I have to be careful when I time a comment, or I might hear, "Gammie, I wasn't finished.  You interrupted me."

"Oops!  I'm sorry, Virginia," I always promptly say.  "I didn't mean to."

As we round a bend (and there are plenty of bends in the route we take from my house to hers), we spy another fire truck, this time with no siren blaring or lights flashing.  Virginia is instantly curious.  "Gammie, why are there no sirens and lights?"

"Because this truck has already seen to the emergency and is on its way back to the fire house," I explain.

"Gammie," Virginia declares brightly, "you're so smart.  You know everything!"

Oh, how her statement makes me laugh!  Because the older I get, the more I realize how little I really do know, and the more I stand in awe of our God whose ways and thoughts are vastly higher than any of us can imagine.  

To almost five-year-old Virginia, of course, the thoughts of adults appear to be just as lofty and unfathomable as we regard God's.  One day, when she is all grown up, she will see the light and understand the limits of the human mind.

Until that day comes, I pray that any knowledge this Gammie passes on to her will serve her well and lead her to look to God's ways and thoughts to guide her life.

And guard her heart.

~

Do you have an amusing or touching story about something your child or grandchild said to you?  Please share!

Prayer:  Father, may we never forget that Your ways and Your thoughts are so much higher than ours, they are beyond our comprehension.  Yet You, in Your mercy, sent Your Son, Christ Jesus, to reveal who You are to us so we might understand Your will for our lives.  Thank You, Father, for loving us so much.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, June 12, 2015

It is a Challenge



1 Thessalonians 5:11
Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Social media can be both boon and bust.  Post something happy like the birth of a child or the purchase of a new car, and it's all sweetness and light.  Post something controversial, be it political or religious, and sit back and watch the sparks fly.  

You're liable to get burned.

I recently read a post by one of my Christian blogging friends who is so over the negative, lambasting comments made by other Christians on Facebook, she has decided to take a hiatus from the entire social media scene for the sake of her own sanity.  I hear her.  I understand.

I feel her pain.

Because I've gone through the same experiences when opinions and even blogs I've posted have met with caustic comments from those who profess to follow Jesus.  It cut me to the quick.  And it left me confused and discouraged.  

As Christians, we won't agree on every issue and we certainly have a right to our opinions, but isn't there a better way to discuss our differences than to bare fangs at one another?  To build each other up, not tear each other down?  Can't we make room for understanding?  For empathy?  For grace?

Jesus thought so.  Otherwise, why would He have come to give His life for us when we were yet sinners?  Sinners in need of His forgiveness.  Sinners who need to forgive those who revel in being social media sharks, remembering that they, too, are human beings with feelings and hopes, dreams and shortcomings.

We are, each and every one of us, equal on the sinners' playing field.

Can't we simply let God be the referee?

Can't we, as teammates with Christ, build each other up in love?

Can we learn to disagree with one another without trampling upon hearts and souls?

It is a challenge.

Yes, indeed, it is.

Are you ready to take it on?

~

As you interact with others on social media, how do/can you build them up?

Prayer:  Father, the anonymity of social media brings forth so many temptations to speak our minds before considering the feelings of others.  As we follow You in our Christian walk, may our messages sent and shared be true and purposeful in Your ways.  May we always encourage and build others up for Your honor and glory.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Time of Day



Mark 13:32-33
"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard!  Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come."

Clocks.  They're everywhere!  On our computers, our phones, our wrists, stoves, microwaves, coffee makers.  And the list goes on.  If we want to know the time of day, we do not need to look far to find it.

Recently, our clock, an actual one hanging over our calendar board in our kitchen, gives up the ghost.  No amount of battery changes can conceal the fact that it is losing minutes every day, moving slower and slower, until it no longer relays the actual time.

It's time, pun intended, to let it go.

But a lingering problem remains.  My husband, Danny, and I continue to look up at that now blank spot on the wall expecting to see the time faithfully conveyed.  It is a habit not easy to break.

"Do you want me to get a replacement?"  Danny asks one day.

"It would be nice," I say, "but not mandatory.  Maybe we just need to adjust to its absence."

Still, our eyes focus repeatedly on this very location throughout the day.  Expecting to see what's no longer there.  Wishing to know the time when we could all too easily venture otherwise.

With no plans to replace the tired and worn-out clock, Danny finds himself at our local Target on another mission which happens to lead him right through the clock aisle of the store.  He stops.  He looks.  He sees, and buys the perfect replacement!





For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you are well acquainted with my dire need for coffee in the morning, and the tender affection I have for coffee in the afternoon.  You can stop by our house any day, any time, and be guaranteed a fresh cup.  It would be my absolute pleasure to serve you one!

Relieved once again to raise eyes to that once uncomfortably lonely space on the wall, and pleased as punch to see both time and the standing invitation, I remember:  I know neither the day nor the hour.  I can plan.  I can scheme.  I can trace the plodding hand of the clock which ticks away the seconds.

But I cannot know.

I cannot know the when and where, the why and wherefore.

Who can?

We want to.  In our human frailty, we want to.  But we can take comfort in this:  It is beyond not simply us, but beyond the knowledge of the Son.

As terrible and horrific and disturbing these times in history are, we need to remember that God is in control of it all.  His timing is perfect.  He knows when to intervene.

And He will when His time is right.

There is no time on our clocks which will reveal it.

~

How do you keep watch?

Prayer:  Father, let us understand that in You, there is no time, no limits, no end to Your love.  May we all be faithful in spending our time here on earth to honor Your great glory.  Nothing, in all our seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, could be spent better than that.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Good Samaritan


Psalm 22:6
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

I'm sitting on my deck, sipping my morning coffee, enjoying the scenery, and blissfully listening to the rhapsody of bird song when my phone rings.  I glance at the caller source before I answer.  Oh, yes!  A call from my son!

"Hi, Daniel, what's going on?"

"This isn't Daniel," says an unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line.  "I was out jogging and found this phone along the path.  Luckily, it wasn't locked.  When I found the contact for 'Mom,' I thought I might just have a chance to return it to its rightful owner."

"Yes, yes, this is 'Mom,'" I say enthusiastically and gratefully.  "I'm so glad you contacted me.  My son, Daniel, just got this phone and I can't believe it somehow escaped his pocket.  Thank goodness you found it!"

"Yes, ma'am, how can I get it back to him?"

"Do you know where the Brick Store Pub is in Decatur?  That's where he works."

"Yes, ma'am, I know exactly where that is.  It will be this afternoon, though, before I can drop it by."

"Oh, that will be fine.  I'll contact them and let them know you will be coming by with the phone.  How I appreciate your willingness to do the right thing.  My son's phone is his chief source of communication.  I don't know what he'd do without it."

"It's my pleasure, ma'am," he says.

"You are a blessing,"  I tell him, "a true blessings.  I can't thank you enough."

I hang up with a smile on my face.  It would have been so easy for this young man to keep the phone for himself or sell it to someone else.  Instead, he chooses to do the right thing even if it means going out of his way.  I think to myself:  That is one child who's been raised right from the get-go.  How the world could use more folks like him!

~

Do you have a Good Samaritan story to share?

Prayer:  Father, today I ask You to bless this young man and others like him who choose to do the right thing when the world is tempting them not to.  May we all be Good Samaritans whenever circumstances call for us to be.  In Jesus' name, amen.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Salt of the Earth



Matthew 5:13
"You are the salt of the earth.  But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?  It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."

Last Thursday evening, my husband, Danny, helps me to cut and paste all the separate chapters of Redemption, my second novel in the Adventures in The Glade series, and I giddily and gladly send it to my publisher and to some kind authors who have agreed to review it.  Oh, what a relief!  My computer and I have been joined at the hip for two straight months now in the attempt to complete Book 3 so I can see where Book 2 needs to end.  My mood, as you can well imagine, is celebratory and carefree.  I find myself mentally indulging in the promise of all the activities I have foregone over these last months because of the writing, and I go to sleep anticipating a rewarding day ahead.

I could not have been more deluded.

I wake that Friday morning feeling out-of-sorts and at loose ends.  My thoughts are scattered, and I have trouble focusing on any task at hand.  Nothing, not even reading, appeals to me.  It is as if my very purpose in life is being called into question.  Yesterday, it was all salty goodness.  Today?  I'm as bland as a matzo cracker.

"I know what's wrong with you," Danny, ever observant, remarks.

"What?"  I ask morosely.

"You're missing your friends in The Glade," he says.

Bingo!  I begin to tear up.  Yes, I've sent off Book 2, completed Book 3 all except for editing, and I don't want the adventures to end.  I am immersed in that grief we feel when our children, now grown, leave home for good.  I feel like I've watched my "Davy" walk away when I wasn't emotionally ready to let him go.

But it is time.  Past time.  Friends and family have been asking me for months when Redemption would be released.  They won't have to wait much longer.

And I find solace in this probability:  I have a fourth book already gelling for the Adventures in The Glade.  Will my time with my beloved characters end after that?  Somehow, I don't think so.  Whether or not a Book 5 is ever penned, they will live on in my heart, for they have touched me deeply and profoundly, and have seasoned my soul with gladness.

They are the salt of my earth.

~

Have you ever become so attached to a creative project that it was difficult to let it go?

Prayer:  Father, may we live up to Jesus' proclamation that we who follow Him are the salt of the earth, and may we, through the Holy Spirit, flavor a broken and hopeless world with Your light and love.  It is in Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.

My Prayer Corner

Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Do you have...