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Silence and Praise

August 18, 2014

I read Psalm 65 the other morning (I love the Psalms!) then just before I closed my Bible I paused for a moment. Verse one says “there will be silence before Thee and praise in Zion…” I wanted to think about that. Silence. And praise. One does not overrule the other. You can praise in silence. (Something some of these newer churches don’t seem to understand – there isn’t much room for silence in their services…but that’s a subject for another blog!)

Anyway, I reread the chapter and certain words caught my eye…

God hears, forgives, chooses, blesses, brings near, satisfies, establishes, stills, causes joy, visits. He is not up in heaven just idly observing us – closely. He knows what is going on and is active on our behalf.

Words like overflow, greatly, enrich, full, prepare, abundant, soften, bless, crown, bounty, fatness, rejoicing, joy and sing fill this chapter! Such lavishness. It catches one’s breath and silences us. But then the praise cannot be contained! We must sing and shout the goodness of our mighty, lavish God.

It reminds me of II Corinthians 9:8: “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things and at all times, having every thing you need you will abound to every good work.” He gives so that we will be able to give. He fills so that we will pour out.

What are we giving? What are we pouring out? Can these same descriptive words be said of us? Me? Do I listen to people and really hear what they are saying? Do I readily forgive – even the repeated slights? Do I chooses to engage and bless others? Is my life one that softens a situation? Is my life marked by joy and singing?

Even as I write these questions I am convicted that it is not always true in my heart. I am too frequently more tuned into self than others. My heart is so burdened by my own concerns I don’t see or sense another’s anxiety. My burdens suffocate my capacity for joy and singing. I am not very God-like, I am grieved to admit.

But the good news is that I don’t have to stay that way! Going back to Psalm 85. God hears, forgives…

Suicide

August 15, 2014
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Suicide is a very serious thing. It has been in our news this week as actor Robin Williams took his own life.

It is very sad. Robin Williams was very talented. I don’t know if he knew God or not. He made light of God in his comedy routine and he could be very crude and profane. My prayer has been that the only One who could have offered him hope and solace met Robin in his deepest despair.

God is faithful. There is no question about that. Faithfulness is a part of His character. However, we all have choice – His faithfulness does not overrule our free will to choose.

There are those that see no way out, they have lost all hope – in life, in God. They cannot see or feel the faithfulness, love, mercy of God at that moment. It is all darkness – no hint of light so they resort to something that they think will bring relief – they take their own life. It is a mental illness.

I do not believe, as many do, that if someone takes their own life they automatically go to hell. The unpardonable sin is the ultimate rejection of the Person and work of Jesus Christ. He came to seek and to save those that are lost. He came not to condemn us but to save us.

I find great comfort in something my mother said long ago, “God did not call them home, but He welcomed them home.”

Prayer Circle in Washington, D.C. (some photos too!)

August 6, 2014

On Monday night I had the joy of meeting up with my friend Sarah who lives in Washington…she is so interesting as she knows the city well and little details you don’t get from a tour guide. On Monday evenings she a group of her friends walk around the impressive government buildings, praying. She asked if I would join them. I was more than eager to do so.

It turned out to be just the two of us…we walked from the Tidal Basin around the White House, Executive Office Building and the Treasury. (A prayer circle – read Mark Batterson’s book by that title.) It was a muggy night but beautiful. Official Washington D.C. is really one of the prettiest cities in the world. As we walked, we stopped at various locations and prayed aloud – to those around us it would have sounded like normal conversation – we were not making a spectacle of ourselves! But God heard us as we directed our requests, with thanksgiving, to Him.

The buildings and scenery are impressive but the people in them are not in control – contrary to popular opinion. God is. He is Almighty. He is the Creator. Sustainer. He sits on the eternal throne and He is holy, just, merciful and mighty. His plans are being carried out. What a comfort!

It was a special evening! (I have attached photos.) I felt honored, humbled and privileged. And overwhelmed by the needs of those serving in our government as well as the military. They have huge responsibilities and without God’s wisdom they just cannot do it well. PLease pray for all in authority – as Paul wrote to Timothy. He didn’t say we had to agree with them or even like them – we were to pray for them. And Jesus told us to pray for our enemies. And don’t forget Jerusalem! The need is even greater in these uncertain times.

Pray for Sarah as she faithfully does this week in and week out. What a dedicated precious young woman.

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Israel – What Can We Do?

July 21, 2014

I was reading Psalm 89 this morning. It mentions God’s faithfulness to His covenant with David. This Psalm is a powerful description of how God holds His covenant with King David.

My heart breaks for all that is going on between Israel and Hamas. Israel is fighting for survival – it is not invading just protecting itself from this evil aggression that threatens all of civilization. Our media makes Israel out as the aggressor – it is not.

As Christians we are grafted into the Jewish family – we are deeply connected to the soul & soil of Israel. We need to be in earnest prayer for them. (See my last post.) Israel is at the very heart of God and His people.

My friend, Lydia, has suggested we read the book of Deuteronomy. A marvelous, reassuring book for these days and made me aware of some excellent organizations that are working to aid those suffering in this tragic conflict in Gaza -

a) CMJ – has begun”Operation Respite” at all their guest houses in Israel to offer shelter and relief to families (Arab and Jewish) who are being bombarded by Hamas rockets. Pray for these efforts and funds to support the loss of income at the guest houses.

b) Fellowship of Christians & Jews – This group provides relief of every kind from bomb shelters, food, medical care, humanitarian & spiritual assistance.

c) Christians United for Israel – Is having their annual Conference in Washington, DC, to promote relations between Israel and America as well as between Christians and Jews. A Night to Honor Israel will held tonight, July 21. They will contact our senators, representatives and political leaders.

We can too…call write…your representatives. They need to hear from us. Our voice can be heard. And will be in heaven!

Refugees

July 9, 2014

I have written about my oldest daughter and her family – I called them “my refugees” – living with me while their house was being repaired last year (3 weeks) and then again as the house they bought this year was/is being remodeled (8 weeks). I know they weren’t really refugees. They had a safe, dry, clean (that’s a relative term), cool (until the AC gave out of freon) place to stay. They didn’t have beds but we made do with soft pallets on the floor. They had a bathroom and a small yard of grass and beds of mulch to play in with very tolerant, pleasant neighbors. They had their family together.

However, it was a very difficult time for them – so much upheaval and uncertainty. The children were so good but the effects of the commotion and changes began to show. (I am so proud that they didn’t break one thing!) They needed their own beds and own space – as did my daughter and son-in-law. They moved out about 10 days ago. The windows no longer have finger smudges or lip prints, the rugs are clean, sheets and towels laundered, the furniture dusted…it’s quiet and orderly once again.

I am glad they had my place to come to – I hope they will remember these weeks with fun memories! With or without fun memories I am sure they will remember the chaos and dislocation.

As we went though all of that I have to think of the refugee children on our borders. The chaos, upheaval, fear, uncertainty – it must be overwhelming to a child. I wrote about some of this in my other blog at BeliefNet: http://blog.beliefnet.com/safeplacewithruthgraham/

I don’t want to get into the politics of it here…that’s not my purpose. I do appreciate my friend Glenn Beck’s going to the border with food and toys. “We’re going to fill some tractor-trailers with food, with water,” Beck said. “The churches have asked us if we could bring teddy bears and soccer balls, so we’ve loaded up a whole tractor-trailer of nothing but teddy bears and soccer balls. And then I’m going to go serve breakfast and lunch, and I’m going to help unload these trucks, hot meals for 3,000. That’s what we’re doing.” Read Matthew 25:35-40.

In my opinion that’s the right thing to do. Many also need medical screening and attention. This is a humanitarian crisis. However, we must act with discernment and wisdom. The politicians will do what they do…they are a mess. We must do what we can do – see these innocents, the true innocents, protected and helped to be reunited with their families.

If Jesus were on earth where do you think He’d be?

The Unrelateableness of God

June 30, 2014

Recently I was thinking about my relationship with God. (And I am thinking out loud here…) I confess I sometimes treat Him too casually. I find Him easier to related to than Jesus – perhaps because I have such a loving earthly father.

But anyway, I was thinking about it in contrast to what the scripture says about His awesomeness. He is awesome in His terrible power. I cannot treat Him casually. God is not my “buddy”. He does not fit into my back pocket.

God is holy. Majestic. Magnificent. In Heaven, all in His presence fall down and worship. That is some Presence! The heavenly hosts cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” He is eternal – He is not affected or bound by time. He created all things. He has dominion over all things. Glory and honor, and power are His.

When Moses was at the burning bush God told him to take off his sandals because the very ground was holy. When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God said, “I, Myself will make My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show compassion on whom I will show compassion. But He said, you cannot see my face, for no man can see Me and live.” God told Moses that he could not see His face. God put Moses in the cleft of a rock, covered Moses with His hand as His glory passed by. Once it passed, He removed His hand and Moses could see God’s back, not His face. God was being gracious and compassionate to Moses.

We are told that God and Moses spoke “face to face” as friends. Is that a contradiction? I think not. It is referring to relationship not exhibition.

How do I relate God? There is no way I can relate. It is only through Jesus that I can have a relationship with God.

But I am intrigued that in response to Moses wanting to see God’s glory, God talks about His goodness. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “There is only One who is good…” Goodness is central to God’s character. He, indeed, would be terrifying in His power and dominion (cruel and capricious) if He were not good. The apex of His goodness is Jesus. God also told Moses that He would proclaim the name of the Lord. How important is that name! It is a name not to be trifled with or used casually. We hear so much “OMG!” today. We have no idea what we are saying…He is the King and Lord of Heaven and earth…

I was at a church meeting last year when one of the denominational leaders said “Allah ” is just another name for God. That is absolutely not true. God’s name is above all names. As is His character.

Our love for God as “father” is only possible through Christ.

This may seem a bit rambling…I am developing my thoughts…but I know God only through Jesus. I am deeply humbled that God has chosen me in His Son and grateful to Jesus for dying on the Cross for my sins. How wonderfully good is all that!

Visit with Paula Deen

June 26, 2014

Many of you may remember my blog about Paula Deen’s fall from favor last summer. I thought the attacks were highly vicious and unfair. Political correctness gone amuck. If we are all held publicly accountable for things we said 30 years ago, we’d be in sad shape. I knew at the time Paula Deen was no racist but the media decided she was and blew it all out of proportion. I was sad for her. My heart ached.

I didn’t know her and didn’t really know how to get hold of her. So, you may remember, I wrote an “open letter” to her last year. In March I went to Hilton Head and so wrote to her, presumptuously, that I’d love to drive to Savannah to meet her. No agenda, just show support and try to be an encouragement. It wasn’t possible at the time.

Last week I drove to Nashville with my daughter and her four children to visit dear friends who have moved there. It’s a long drive but the kids were so very good. My daughter was like a woman possessed! She was determined to get to Nashville in eight hours. And we did!

It was a fun trip. This is a 3 generational friendship…I have know these folks for 40+ years. I met them when I was living in Pennsylvania and expecting my oldest. The Lembrights are special to us – and well worth the 8 hour drive. Their daughter and 3 kids were visiting from California. We kept the kids busy and exhausted. One day we took all 7 kids to Franklin to eat at Maridee’s – it will never be the same! Fortunately my friend spent 30+ years as a first grade teacher so knew all about “crowd control”.

While waiting for lunch in Maridee’s I got a text from my business partner’s granddaughter who said, “Exciting news. Call me”. I planned to call after lunch. She then rang me on my phone so I took it. She told me Paula Deen was going to be in Pigeon Forge, TN to do a cooking show and she had contacted Paula Deen’s people. She mentioned my name and they said they’d love to have us come to the show on Sunday night and meet her.

Not a celebrity hound, I was a bit reluctant. But made arrangements to drive to Pigeon Forge – had to rent a car since my daughter had to drive on back to Virginia with the four children for a Monday event. (Did you know one-way rentals are outrageous. Hertz wanted $1000!! I used Enterprise for considerably less.) I was not happy with her driving alone but she is more than independent and capable. As they left, I “threatened” the kids to be good on the drive home!

I arrived in time at Pigeon Forge along with half the population of the East Coast! We were met by her delightful assistant who took us to a back room to wait for Paula – she was doing a “meet and greet” plus she is having difficulty with her eyes and needed some rest. Her Aunt Peggy came as did her good friend “Bubbles” and two very nice business associates who handle her food products. Such nice people! Sometimes the people around a celebrity can be really obnoxious. They couldn’t have been warmer or more delightful.

Paula eventually came we we had a good visit. She loves my aprons!! She is adorable and exceedingly gracious – as is her husband, Michael! She is as cute in person as she is on TV. We all fell in love with each one we met.

The show was great fun – we had a blast. And were able to meet with her after the show. Not sure where she gets her energy!

Please pray that she be able to get the rest she needs and her eyes heal – completely.

As I have said so many times, God loves to restore. And He is restoring Paula after a terrible episode in her life. With her new venture, I pray she will enjoy every success!

Paula Deen & Michael

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