Archive | August 2013

“In My Grip”

Mountain Wave

Peaceful Mountain Wave (Photo credit: Vincent_AF)

Perhaps you are in need of an arm around your shoulders today or you need reminding where your strength comes from. You may claim this Scripture as your personal letter from God today.

Shared from~”Shattered by Suicide”

My Child,

Even though the way seems rough and uncertain, I have picked you up and I will never drop you. There is no need to fear for I Am Your God. I will strengthen you, help you, and hold you steady when turbulence threatens to overturn you. You are in My grip.

There are days when you probably feel like the enemy is at your back and hemming you in on all sides. But you can’t see like I can. I have surrounded you with scores of holy, warring angels who will fight the adversary if he threatens you, but he won’t. He runs from My power. He is no match for Me. So do not worry about the enemy. I am right here and I am not letting go.

Still not convinced? How about the poor and thirsting who are desperate for water? I will open up rivers for them on the barren hills and spout fountains in the valleys. I will turn the baked-clay badlands into a cool pond and the waterless waste into splashing creeks.

And not only that, I will plant the red cedar in the treeless wasteland, also acacia, myrtle, and the olive tree. I’ll place the cypress in the desert with plenty of oaks and pines.

No one will miss this. It will be the unavoidable, indisputable evidence that I, God, will personally take care of your needs. It’s created and signed in My handwriting. No matter what it takes, I have thousands of ways to provide for your needs.

Now are you convinced? You can trust in Me. I Am your Forever God and I Am in Love with you.  From Isaiah 41, paraphrased.

The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him.  Psalm 28:7

~Gracie Thompson

He’s etching a masterpiece (contains large quote)

The Mount Rushmore Monument as seen from the v...

Mount Rushmore Monument  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Many commented on how ‘strong’ I was. Little did they know what was going on inside me.”                                                                                                                               ~James R. White, Grieving: Our Path Back to Peace  

Anyone ever comment on your strength? Do you react by nodding your head in agreement? Stunned into silence? Or do you give them a jaw-dropping stare?

Many of us have probably traveled to see the Mount Rushmore National Memorial, a masterpiece of American achievement. Four faces are carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota. It took many hours of toil, sweat, tears, disappointment and delays using dynamite, pick axes, jack hammers; hour after hour on long, hot, dusty days and then painstakingly chiseling and shaping and coaxing the granite into human faces from history who are immortalized on a mountain as long as it stands. Someone’s dream became a reality.

I have a dream too. Do you? So does author, Staci Eldredge, “Becoming Myself who shares her dream; a message of pain, hope and triumph.

“The story of my life and the struggles I have lived with—make that “live with”—have helped to shape me into the woman I am today and the woman I am becoming. My scars, my struggles, my failures, my joys, my private lonely agonies have been forging my soul into something beautiful. Eternal. Good. Yours have too.

Now, we can fight that process—or we can yield to it. My dear mother had her rough edges; you have yours; I have mine. We can choose to let suffering soften us or harden us. We can choose whether we will allow it to make us more compassionate or let our hearts become jealous of others. We can choose whether we will love Jesus in it or resent him for it. Only one set of choices will make us more beautiful.

The pain we experience, the sorrow and the agony, serve a purpose. God is working all things together for our good. He is etching a masterpiece of stunning design. The beauty being forged in us through the transforming work of suffering is one that will leave us breathless, stunned, and forever thankful. And the crowning glory will be that because of the pain we have endured, we have come to know Jesus in a way that causes us to treasure the trial as one of God’s greatest gifts to us. Amazing.”

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.  Psalm 139:14

Yes indeed. Praise Him for the chiseling, the forging, the scraping, the shaping, the . . .

Hymnlines: “In The Garden”

DSC04533-Garden Of Gethsemane

Garden Of Gethsemane (Photo credit: lyng883)

Hymns have always been a soothing medicine to my spiritual heart. And not only mine, but also a dear friend who lost her husband suddenly a few months back. I asked her if there was a particular hymn that was comforting to her and she shared that the hymn, “In The Garden” was one of her favorites and would always be because it reminds her of her late husband.

Her husband often rocked their grandson to sleep. Held safe and secure in grandpa’s arms, music would naturally flow along with the steady rhythm of the rocking chair. Grandpa would start to sing softly, “I come to the garden alone…”. Any song that was a favorite to grandpa was a favorite to grandson, and even though just a tiny tot, it wasn’t long before he could add his sweet voice to grandpa’s deep one . . . “while the dew is still on the roses . . . “.

Having family worship one evening after her husband’s death, my friend relayed the rest of the story: “To our surprise, my grandson chimed in and sang all three verses of the hymn. He was barely three years old. When we asked him where he had learned that hymn, he replied, ‘My grampy taught me!’ I still cry when I hear the hymn played because my husband loved it so much.”

“In The Garden” was composed rather quickly by Charles Austin Miles (1868-1946), a pharmacist turned hymn writer and church music director. Being an amateur photographer, he was in his dark room waiting for film to develop. Here is the account by Mr. Miles himself: “One day, in April, 1912, 1 was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my Bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20–whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide. That meeting of Jesus and Mary had lost none of its power and charm.

As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary’s life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, Rabboni!

My hands were resting on the Bible while I stared at the light blue wall. As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, hand clasping her throat, as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. it was Mary. As she came to the tomb, upon which she placed her hand, she bent over to look in, and hurried away. John, in flowing robe, appeared, looking at the tomb; then came Peter, who entered the tomb, followed slowly by John.

As they departed, Mary reappeared; leaning her head upon her arm at the tomb, she wept. Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing, so did 1. 1 knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched and looking into His face cried, Rabboni!

I awakened in sunlight, grip­ping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.” (tanbible.com)

Like many hymns, this one is timeless and moving, especially for my dear friend who finds both peace and release of grief when she hears this hymn. The lyrics follow. You may know them well in which case you can hear the tune in your head. If not, please listen to it on YouTube by such artists as Alan Jackson or Jim Reeves for a personal blessing just for you.

In The Garden
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses . . .

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

He speaks and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that he gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing . . .

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).  John 20:15-16

Understanding – Jesus Calling

Peace

Peace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.  John 14:27

A dear friend knew we were about to crest another year of loss and out of the kindness of her heart, she sent a card with this devotional included. Being a fellow traveler in this grief journey, she wanted to share something with us which had been meaningful to her. It has. And now I gently pass it along to you. May you be blessed also.

“Understanding will never bring you Peace. That’s why I have instructed you to trust in Me, not in your understandingHuman beings have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out, in order to gain a sense of mastery over their lives. But the world presents you with an endless series of problems. As soon as you master one set, another pops up to challenge you. The relief you had anticipated is short-lived. Soon your mind is gearing up again; searching for understanding (mastery), instead of seeking Me (your Master).

The wisest of all men, Solomon, could never think his way through to Peace. His vast understanding resulted in feelings of futility, rather than in fulfillment. Finally, he lost his way and succumbed to the will of his wives by worshiping idols.

My Peace is not an elusive goal, hidden at the center of some complicated maze. Actually, you are always enveloped in Peace, which is inherent in My Presence. As you look to Me, you gain awareness of this precious Peace.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  Proverbs 3:5-6

Now that we have God’s approval by faith, we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done.  Romans 5:1

May the Master of Peace himself give you the gift of getting along with each other at all times, in all ways.  2 Thessalonians 3:16 

“Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young

Follow by faith

We Have Come This Far By "Faith"

We Have Come This Far By “Faith” (Photo credit: DanCog)

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.   Matthew 10:16

Ouch! This hit me where I live. Out of nowhere in my conversation with God one morning came the words, “It’s a privilege to serve.” Within seconds, I was reduced to tears. Tough words on my heart which approaches the midnight hour on eight years without my firstborn son. How can it be? How can suffering through a myriad of painful causes be a privilege? The answer was swift in coming as though the thought winged its way to my oft-muddled mind.

God suggested that I recall and recount His Son’s promise to His twelve buddies before He returned home to heaven. His death would not be in vain. The death of His loyal disciples would not be in vain either. Of the twelve hand-picked disciples, ten were martyred. One died a death of solitude. All who refused to deny their Lord, died in the hope of the resurrection and eternal life in heaven.

Each disciple struggled in his desire to understand Jesus’ mission to earth. It was so different, so new. But after His ascension, they got it. Christ‘s commission, found in the book of Matthew, was earnest and clear, “Go tell” and tell they did; sharing the love of God to man with everyone they met until their voices were stopped by death.

Most of us have faced death in one way or another. Perhaps we have heard the words, “terminal disease” that we live with and therefore, every day is a gift. Maybe we have attended the funeral of friends and family. Maybe, like me, you are a suicide survivor; having lost a beloved child to suicide. Death and taxes are certain, isn’t that what we hear? Yes, death is certain. But there is hope. The disciples were close friends with Jesus. They were privileged to hear Him speak face to face. They watched Him live. They watched Him die. Now what? But they finally understood His message and with the promise of eternal life ringing in their ears, they shared the Good News until their lives were snuffed out. Only one died by his own hand, Judas, who betrayed Jesus. What of the others? Historical gleanings reveal their deaths:

Andrew, Peter‘s brother, crucifiedBartholomew, crucified; James, older brother of John, beheaded; James, son of Alphaeus, stoned then beaten to death; John, miraculously survived being boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil, but later died in exile; Jude, brother of James, crucified; Matthew, killed with a weapon that had a blade and spike; Peter, crucified head down by request. He felt unworthy to die like his Lord; Philip, crucified; Simon, crucified; Thomas, thrust through with a spear.

Grim list. Morbid perhaps? Or maybe not. Those disciples were not just loyal soldiers carrying out instructions. They fell in love with Jesus and nothing would silence them! But there are more names. Just read the list of “who’s who” in Hebrews 11. There’s Moses and Jacob and Abraham and Sarah and Samson and the list goes on and on. They remind me that real people stood up for Jesus. I must make a choice too. Do I  follow in their footsteps which are forever cemented in history?  Do I lend my voice to theirs by sharing the Good News that God loves each one of His kids? Yes, Lord.  I will. Will you?

Refiner’s Fire –

“As YHWH‘s [GOD’s] Creations, most of us have gone through “fire” in one way or another and, hopefully, we learned from the experience. Through our trials and tribulations, rough edges are smoothed and sharp edges are sloughed off, until we more closely resembled what we were meant to be.

God allows us to go through hard times so that we may grow and become smooth and shiny. His goal is for us to become a reflection of Him that not only He can see, but also so others can see Him in us.

This is His top priority to transform us into the image of Christ. His priority is to make us holy not necessarily happy! Of course, satan has his own set of perverse purposes for trials. Suffering can be a great benefit to our growth in the Lord or it can become a great barrier to our relationship with Him.

Wrong responses to suffering can create a kaleidoscope of consequences and additional suffering. We are often responsible for the intensification of our trials because of our own unwillingness to do things God’s way. Then we kick and scream at how terrible things are and get upset with God for not caring and doing something about our misery. A right response to suffering will in part depend on a correct understanding of the possible purposes and positive development that can come through trial.

However, trials only produce positive character when responded to in a positive manner. If we don’t respond correctly the first time, there is another time around until we learn to trust God in any and every circumstance.”   ~ Unknown

I am happy to do your will, O my God.”  Psalm 40:8

 

Anniversaries Hurt

 

Rest in Jesus, sweet boy, 1974 – 2005. See you when Jesus returns.


1st August 2013, Thursday, Sunny start to the ...

The months roll around totally outside of our control. Anniversaries are supposed to be a celebration,  but these aren’t happy anniversaries. We miss our boy! As the anniversary date of his death draws near, I thought of a “weeping” text. Jeremiah speaks of mothers mourning for their children because they were no more. I can relate. Can you?

Shedding tears of grief has been a common practice for thousands of years because we share a planet with an enemy whose entire focus is death.  I am learning not to stop there, but to read on:  But God says, Stop your incessant weeping, hold back your tears . . . there’s hope for your children.  Jeremiah 31:15

When this text came to my mind today, Lord, it was as if You placed Your strong hand gently on my shoulder and breathed comfort and peace into my sorrowful soul. Yes, we still have tears, but we also have reasons for joy. Your Word says that Your eyes are on those who hope in Your unfailing love.

So we hopefully wait for You, Lord, our Help and our Shield.  Psalm 33:18 & 20.

Shattered by Suicide:  My Conversations with God after the Tragic Death of My Son”

Bouquets for Ashes

A red rosebud, probably from the rose bush L.D...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

God sent me to announce the year of His grace . . . to care for the needs of all who mourn in Zion, to give them bouquets of roses instead of ashes, messages of joy instead of news of doom, a praising heart instead of a languid spirit.  Isaiah 61:1, MSG

The sun shall no more be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you . . . for the Lord shall be your everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be ended.  Isaiah 60:19, 20, AMP

Dear Lord,

You and I have written many pages as we have walked into this grief journey together. You have pointed the way to truth, hope, relief and trust in ways a loving, Heavenly Parent would do and I am most grateful.

I can’t say that my eyes will be dry or my sadness completely disappear, but I know without a doubt who my Redeemer is and it is You. Thank You for reaching down into the ashes of my soul and gently sifting about until You uncovered a tiny rosebud ~ something that had escaped the raging inferno of tragedy that engulfed me.

The fragrant, unblemished rosebud is Your sweet promise that You will make all things new once again. Please hold me until You come and restore our family once again to complete wholeness with not one missing.

For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, so the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom.  Isaiah 61:1-3, 11, MSG

~written by Gracie Thompson, from “Shattered by Suicide: My Conversations with God after the Tragic Death of My Son”

It’s That Time Again

Weeping Girl Satue

Weeping Girl Satue (Photo credit: Wonderlove’s Flickr)

“My tears are the words with which I tell God of my pain.”  Adolfo Quezada

We are rounding another calendar year and heading for that horrible milestone. Dear Lord, why is it still so hard? For days now, I find myself dreading the approaching date worse than I dread a root canal. I am a basket of tears, becoming emotional even with totally unrelated topics. No one would dare mention our loss now . . . and they rarely do any other time of the year.

Do I sound bitter? Perhaps I am . . . just a little, or a lot, I’m not sure. But the awful memories come up and choke me this month more than any other in the year. Perhaps I let them, more than any other time too. The loss of our son was so horrible and we miss him so much, even though we have come to accept his death better now than we did.

I try to have good memories about him and his dad and I talk about those a lot. It helps. But the family members who fell away from us over his death never speak of him to us. I can’t seem to find good memories to erase those ugly ones. My mind understands that each of Your children is Your responsibility, but my heart still hurts for all the things said and done during those few, awful days we were together.

Lord, do those memories ever cross their minds? Do they look at the calendar, realizing that the anniversary date of our son’s death is approaching and feel sadness or remorse? I don’t doubt that they loved him and miss him, but do they feel any sorrow for the way they treated us? Is it guilt, Lord, that keeps them silent? There are no answers to these questions. Perhaps I am not supposed to wonder, but I can’t help it. I do wonder.

I dread the day, but dreading won’t keep it from coming. I will try to occupy myself with other things and with You by my side, I will get through it. We will get through it. That’s my goal. Simple and yet loaded. You are the only one I can count on that day, right? You have been with me all the days . . . before and after . . . even though I must admit that there are many times when I have felt all alone. Please remind me that I am not.

Please remind me that you will carry me through this anniversary like You carried me through the others. And please remind me that You won’t forget to return. Please remind me that it will be soon. I have nothing else I can count on but Your return. And then, any lingering memories will vaporize when I first see Your face and then see my son’s face . . . together. Now won’t that be a scene to commit to memory and savor for all eternity?

Sharing from the book, “Shattered by Suicide: My Conversations with God after the Tragic Death of My Son”

Beloved son, forever 30 (1974 – 2005)    

It’s not a white flag

MY SURRENDER

MY SURRENDER (Photo credit: Andre Bohrer)

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Ephesians 5:21
To wave an all-white banner or piece of cloth has long been recognized as a symbol of surrender. But the word, surrender, has also meant giving up, or weakening or yielding. For many people, the idea of submitting themselves to someone else carries a negative connotation. Submitting implies inferiority, subservience, or blind obedience. But in this discussion, nothing could be further from God’s truth.
Submission as described in the Bible is a mutual commitment between two equals whose goal is to foster unity and cooperation. The ancient Greek word used in the Bible to describe submission is a military command telling troops to get in order according to their rank. By following this structure of authority, solders can work together more efficiently to accomplish their own individual duties. A company with too many generals and not enough privates has little chance of winning a war and might be forced to wave a white flag in surrender.
Some of us women may be very familiar with the text in the Bible asking wives to submit to their husbands and bristle at the thought. But Ephesians 5:21 lays the groundwork for something bigger. It makes absolutely clear that submission is expected of every follower of Jesus, not just a few specific groups of people. One way that Jesus showed his love was by willingly setting his rights aside to better serve others. Every time we follow his example, we honor him.
In daily life, submitting to one another looks a lot like respect, humility and love. It means to not demand my own way, flaunt authority or nurture a superiority complex. It means to leave those things in the past and instead, begin a life that looks more like the example of Jesus. Before mutual submission is evident in my actions, it needs to take root in my attitude. What is encouraging is that the process begins the moment I willingly swap my own personal agenda for life with God‘s.

Thoughts include “100 Favorite Bible Verses”

The Dilemma of Suffering – Bothwell

Archangel Michael casts out the arrogant angel...

Archangel Michael casts out the arrogant angels. Illustration by Gustave Doré, 1866. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thoughts on a familiar topic are shared by Roger Bothwell, a writer and professor, who I often quote from. You might say I enjoy reading his devotionals. But suffering is something we all know a little about. It can touch us in all kinds of ways, but probably the reason most familiar is after the loss of someone we hold dear. Please read on for his thoughts on the subject.

The problem of suffering has been a philosophical issue since men began to think.  If God doesn’t cause suffering it is obvious that He allows it; otherwise, an omnipotent God would stop it.  If I had a definitive answer to this dilemma I would be ranked with the intellectuals of history.   However, I do believe the issue should be addressed in the context of God and Lucifer contending for the moral high ground in this great struggle between good and evil that began when Lucifer declared war in heaven.  See Revelation 12:7

God in His loving infinite wisdom had established a utopian existence for His created.  It was the best ever imagined existence.  Anything else would be something lesser.  Lucifer’s contention that he had a superior system had to play itself out for all to see the natural fruit of his rebellion.  Here is (for me – with my greatly limited knowledge) the key to the suffering issue:

Should God intervene to the extent of stopping all suffering, the universe would never fully see the natural results of sin and sin could never be ended.  Lucifer would take credit for the suffering-free world and nothing would be resolved.  God, much to His personal pain, suffers with us as this horrible drama unfolds.

 The continuing issue is how much is enough?  Surely after the cross, after the holocaust, after a host of wars and genocides intelligent beings should get the message.  Lucifer runs an evil empire.  Jesus promised He will come again and will bring this to an end. So what is He waiting for?  Enough is enough!  We don’t know.  We are not privy to all the universal issues at stake.  One thing we do know is when everything has been made perfectly clear God will stop this mess.  He will not wait one extra second.

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8 but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them[a] in heaven any longer. 9 So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.  Revelation 12:7-12

And the promise . . .

For as the new heavens and the new earth which I make shall remain before Me, says the Lord, so shall your offspring and your name remain.  Isaiah 66:22