Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Smooth and Soothing

This last weekend I was taken to the pet store for my birthday, I LOVE fish. There is something so soothing about watching fish swim and the ease of life they seem to have. Their anxiety level would be minimal I would presume. Their needs are primarily met by just going to the top of the tank, as I sprinkle their food. I have a fish tank near the dinner table, so at times I pull up a chair and enjoy.

At the pet store, I looked at numerous varieties of shapes, sizes and colors. ALL were grand, but I actually came home with 5 simple gold fish. Their colors were all so different and vibrant. Already possessing ranks in the tank were some strange looking guys, with long fins, even whiskers, spots and stripes. The rough and fancy now mingle with the simple. They are getting along just fine, no worries, each enjoying their environment. Smooth.

As the Apostle Paul says: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And let the peace of God which transcends ALL understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus". (Phil. 4:6-7 emphasis mine)

I am learning, that as I come to God with my concerns it is in the attitude of thanksgiving that I approach Him, knowing ahead of time, and thanking Him, that how He sees fit to work out my concerns will indeed lead to peace of mind and heart.

Smooth and soothing, like a nice warm cup of hot chocolate with plenty of cool whip on top ~ best analogy I can think of! Now THAT is the ease of life. Knowing my needs will be met, by just going to the 'top'. God will indeed sprinkle His blessing on me. The rough and the simple circumstances of life mingling together. I begin with thankfulness, and end with peace. Pulling up a chair and enjoying!

In His grace, DeDe

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Old is not so OLD!

Birthdays ... they come and go. Often one 'feels' the day only when someone HAS to verbally say OUT LOUD the number the calendar undoubtedly says you actually are. Me ~ 38 (again). No really, I am 45. There you go, I said it! The other day, as I looked in the mirror out of complete denial, I thought to myself, 45 doesn't look so old. HA! My boys told me, that I was turning - 'old', 'thank you, and I love you too! '

This year my birthday celebration was put on hold, due to being enveloped by the creepy coughing crud. Tonight, the family took me to Spaghetti Factory for a heaping portion of chicken ~ broccoli smothered in Alfredo sauce. AHHHH! Now THAT is dinner! I think my multi-cultural blood MUST be of Italian with a slight lean towards Jewish and Greek. Yes, I would make a nice Jewish girl, fabulously in love with the Messiah mind you.

As the dinner progressed, gifts were proudly presented. I choose NOT to take it personally that I was given a clock, 'an ANTIQUE clock'. Then the overly kind waitress brings out a candle accessorized slice of chocolate mousse cake (God love'er!) then had the corner of the restaurant join her in a rousing southern~black version of happy birthday. SHE ... was fun!

I was given a card with an IOU in it, those can be the BEST kind. My hubby is getting me a NEW, (again NEW - not used) laptop, with some saved up money and recently received 'pay day' money. Yes folks, I am getting a DELL! My old one, is on its death bed, ('sad' ~ said with a sniff). I use it exclusively for my bible software, which accompanies me on my Starbucks marathons, library camp outs and IHOP tucked in the corner, 'bring her more water' mornings.

So, 'old is not so OLD' anymore. Eat your chocolate cakes, sing wild songs, and by all means, hold up those 'bunny ears' maturally. 'As long as there is no word, no name for it ' ~ ENJOY and be Enjoyed, I always say!! ~ DeDe

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Obstacles of Distraction

This morning at bible study, as the ladies walked down the small hall way to the door opening to our class room, they were met with … ‘obstacles’. They had to weave their way past 2 garbage cans, a large room divider on wheels and stacks of boxes. I wanted them to ‘work for it’, to enter the room. See what you are missing at bible study! I enjoyed the looks, the comments, even the suggestions of moving the obstacles. At one point I had to leave the room, to find that our senior pastor had come in to greet the gals, and he too noticed the ‘stuff ' blocking free access to the room, and asked if we 'needed any help’. (thanks Pastor)

I am always looking for ways to make a good point, to bring the gals something they can get their head and heart around. This week we studied the altar of incense in the Tabernacle, and the significance it paints of ~ prayer.

God has gone to great extent to make way for us to have relationship with Him. He longs for conversation. Not any conversation, He wants intimate one on One time with us. As we looked at the process to enter the Tabernacle it literally took alot of work, but since Jesus came, the work was and is DONE! As the veil was torn we now have complete access to the Most Holy God. YET, again YET, why do we still hesitate in our approach to God. Since the way is now clear, the obstacles are more likely of our own making. Hm ...

I suggested to the gals that as they came in to class, they had to go past the garbage, (not pretty is it) past the dividing wall, and the stacks of stuff to get to their goal ~ the coffee and donuts AND bible study, (not particularly in that order). They ALL made it too. I then asked them how do YOU approach your time when you pull out your bible, homework, and prayer? Do you allow obstacles to hold you back, or hesitate? Do you keep going regardless? Does the garbage in our life distract us, or are the dividing walls erected to keep us from a full view of our God. The stacks of stuff, have you too noticed that if it is not properly dealt with, we just move the stacks from place to place.

One gal said, she came in and through and didn't even notice the obstacles. We all had a good laugh, cause we are all moms, and at times, that IS our life, FULL of things we have to crawl past, step over, and climb around. But we don't give up do we, we don't use it as an excuse.

I gently posed the challenge that the next time we are tempted to stop and pay attention to the 'obstacles of distraction' in our life, keeping us from time in God's presence, that we think of entering the door to bible study ~ we wanted in, and moved past, regardless. I am not saying we don't deal with our garbage, walls and stuff, we do, we just don't use them to keep us from GOD! Get in His presence, turn and then take them on. Go God!

The door is WIDE open, come on in! Enjoy! ~ DeDe

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thoughtful in the Down Time

I find God full of wonder. I 'wonder' how I am suppose to get everything done while I lie here sick. Yep, I am the fortunate recipient of the 'creepy crud'. My crud tends to make itself comfortable in my chest, resulting in hilarious weezing and coughing ~ what joy!

In all attempts to make myself feel better I went to church this morning, no worries, I didn't cough on anyone, lay hands on them or plant that holy kiss on ones cheek, tempting however! I did consume enough cough drops of various flavors to choke even the bravest of lab rats. I found myself holding my breath so those around me could hear my pastor enthusiatically exclaim "and to acheive God's best on your life ... you must _ _ _ _ _". (totally kidding).

I have watched enough HGTV I could remodel a house, re-arrange the living room, run to Home Depot and find just the right paint mixture. I have chosen houses of great desire from House Hunters. Can you believe apartments are going for $499, 000 in New York City!

In this down time, I did have an awesome time in the word this morning. Looking at the altar of incense in the Tabernacle of Moses and the priesthood, in detail the elements of prayer and worship. The quote that I am working through is this: "Those who share the privilege of being nearest to God must also bear the awesome responsiblity of exemplifing His holiness through obedience." -- Beth Moore.

Now THIS is worth thinking through. I WANT this!!!!!! (and !!!) I want so much of God, that I know it will cost me, cost me in the moment of self-denial, the quick flash of decision, in those private alone times with my thoughts. Obedience. The walk of obedience is one that God is seen and not me ~ exemplifing His holiness. (just thinking out loud here). I will leave you with this, as I continue to think, ponder, mediate and sleep on it.

Until next time, enjoy the walk of obedience. Now I arise and take some cough medicine, let's pray I have plenty of the grape flavor left ~ DeDe

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Romance of the Savior

This morning at bible study the gals were met with votive candles of various sizes and shapes, on the tables ~ symbolizing the light we each carry of Christ. Also, there were different colored foil wrapped chocolates in the shape of hearts. Yes, I HAD to have chocolate incorportated somehow! Those too giving the image that we all have and express the love of Jesus, each expression has it's own way to package it. Yet, different ~ the ingredients inside are the same... Jesus. They were scattered across the table, as our hearts at times struggle to stay in line with our intentions (can I hear an Amen!)

Our current study finds us studying the Tabernacle of Moses. We passed the altar of sacrifice, washed at the water basin, now entered the Holy Place. Seeing the beauty of the lampstand and now we stand and partake of the bread. Our senior pastor came and shared in communion with us. What a joyous time to have Valentines Day fall on this particular day. The day set aside to celebrate the loves of our life. I know Valentines Day tends to be geared towards romance, but I think there is MORE!

I John 4:10,11 says, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another". The romance of the Savior, love expressed in giving.

I came home today with a dandy of a bouquet of flowers awaiting me on the dining table, and a card laced with red and gold. Thank you hubby! Later a dear friend drops by with tulips and candy (she knows me well!) My youngest son glued the most unique foam material picture frame adorned with hearts I've ever seen, it hangs proudly on the refrigerator. Another close friend wrote me a lovely poem.

"Certainly Jesus Christ is only very God, and if thou believe in Him, verily thy soul shall be saved" ~ Saint Valentine.

Yes, Valentines Day, celebrating love. Romance us Lord!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Now THIS is Church

Now THIS is church! A great night in the house of God. Last night my oldest son was water baptized, a true joy to see him walk in obedience to the Word. The church body, a couple of family members, close friends were there to join us in the celebration. It comes on the heels of the youth winter retreat. Thirty-five adults ministered to seventy youth. Out of the weekend emerged 17 canadates to die to self and come up drenched and alive in Christ! Go God!

I was so stinkin proud of our senior high youth pastor, I call him my 'little big brother', he is still in his 20's, and towers at least 2 feet over me, {he is the wet dude on the left of my son}. He brought the challenging word, of AWAKENING as the early church did to spiritual matters, awaken to devotion, prayer, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Can you imagine what our culture would be like if our youth was truly captured by these three? What an explosion, what the fall out alone could mean to US all.
On the right of Joshua, stands the junior high pastor, he too is very influential in his life, making himself available to the kids. He offers an enviroment of fun, and of course FOOD, but plenty of 'get in your face' discipleship. The latter makes this mom pleasantly content.
'Joy in the house of the Lord!'

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Bring God in on it!

Wednesday mornings are our ‘coffee morning’, as my oldest son and I refer to it. Due to his school beginning late, we have time to make a pit stop at Starbucks for a few rounds of Rummy the card game. Last week, I was on a fortunate roll of winning all 5 rounds. This morning my son was quite sure the cards were rigged due to the winning streak. As he began to protest of fairness, I leaned forward as to whisper a magnificent secret, “I prayed”. Upon hearing this, he leaned back in his chair as if in disgust, stating, “no fair bringing God in on this!”

I told him “ok, then … I WON’T pray… this time”. Let the games begin! As you can imagine, YES ~ he won every stinkin round! THEN, I caught on! I leaned forward again, inquiring ‘did YOU pray?” There it was, that teenage ‘smurk’, no words, only the slight nod of the head, with a faint grunt, confirming my suspicions. My turn --- “no fair bringing God in on this!”

We had quite the laugh, followed by wonderful conversation. My kid is a GREAT kid, really enjoy him, even if he does pray over the cards (smurk!)

New rules: Bow head, pray, then deal! It IS fair bringing God in on it! What is that verse, 'pray while dealing' ... wait, sorry ~ my error, 'pray without ceasing ...'

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Fragrance of Christ

I smell FABULOUS, even if I do say so myself. (Sorry guys ~ girl talk) I was given a gracious gift certificate to one of those good smelly places, lined with rows of bath gels, body oils and room air fresheners, (fortunately I knew NOT to spray THAT on). I played in the bath gels for awhile, and then moved onto the massage body oils, LOVE the oils. My personal favorite is Rosemary, but the closest they had was Lavender, that is what came home with me, so I smell like a field of lavender. I am blessed that this is NOT spring or I would indeed attract a swarm of bees for sure.

We are highly sensitive to smell. One of the five senses that strike us with great impact. We can purchase candles, incense, sprays, even night light plug-ins to bathe our homes with fragrance while we sleep.

There is a fragrance however that can not be rubbed on, sprayed or splashed, but comes from within. The beauty of Christ in our lives, it can and will attract others. (perhaps, forgoing the bees - smile )

But thanks be to God! For through what Christ has done, He has triumphed over us so that now wherever we go He uses us to tell others about the Lord and to spread the Gospel like a sweet perfume. As far as God is concerned there is a sweet, wholesome fragrance in our lives. It is the fragrance of Christ within us, an aroma to both the saved and the unsaved all around us. (2 Cor. 2:14-15)

In the Tabernacle of Moses, the incense was a 'prescribed' fragrance. Not just any old aroma, but a specific pleasant odor. Certain ingredients were needed, a certain blend. God knew if the mixture was not just right, the out come would be 'stinky' ~ same with our lives, it takes just the right mixture for a pleasant aroma, mixture of the life, love and qualities of Christ.
Another place where fragrance was a HUGE issue, John chapter 11. Jesus comes to the tomb of Lazarus and Martha politely reminds Jesus, that ... well ...'he stinketh'. A big concern for sure. The stone is rolled away and Jesus prays, it was NOT the smell of death that came out, but LIFE.

Allowing others to see, hear, touch, taste and smell Jesus in our lives is what we are called to. Remember when Mary poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet? She didn’t just dab here or there, she POURED enough to cause the house to be filled with the fragrance! Her worship caused a huge stink! So ~ smell on folks! Make a big stink of it! (kidding)

Bathe yourself with and in the qualities of Jesus, and smell wonderful for Him and to others.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Die to be Dyed

Purple, an amazing color. It is the blend of the two primary colors, red and blue. I have the honor of being invited to participate in a long-distance study. I tend to see it as a spiritual intellectual 'think tank'. Where I kick like mad to keep up. I love the challenge. We are currently focusing on the four colors found in the tapestry of the Tabernacle of Moses. Where we see Jesus painted colorfully for us.

Jesus, white, His purity. Jesus, blue His divinity. Jesus, red, His sacrificial love offering. Jesus, purple His royalty. Royalty, Majesty, KINGLY is expressed in the color purple. Mark chapter 15, it states ‘they clothed Jesus in purple’. The Greek rendering of purple, is that of a shell fish, that yields a purple 'dye'. When purple is mentioned it means 'the dye color of purple'. This intrigues me. Red and blue... the divinity of Christ and His sacrificial love. Our KING in all His royalty, brought heaven down to us, sacrificing. As I mediated and studied this, this is my revelation:

If purple is a 'dye' color, to have a piece of cloth (let’s say) being dyed, it has to be 'saturated' by the mixed colors to take on its qualities... (tracking with me?) When the cloth goes down white, and comes up purple, it now holds the elements and qualities of the colors. What does this bring to mind... baptism. As we go down in the waters, as a blank canvas and die to any colors of our own, we come up 'colored' in the name of Jesus Christ, we now take on the 'colors', qualities of Christ. We die to be dyed. NOW, if we go down, with reservations, 'bound' if you will, we will come up 'tie dyed', that may sound funny and paint a wild picture, but isn't it TRUE, if we don’t allow Jesus to 'color' ALL of us, then we are tie dyed... our colors run together, and are muted, nothing worse than a striped Christian. As a dear friend pointed out, for some of us, to have the color 'set' and become permanent may take some time. All the same ~ may we be splashed, dunked, completely saturated by His presence.

In this study we were encouraged to carry with us a piece of purple material, giving us a physical visual aid. I chose to purchase a remnant of silky suede, and wore it around my neck, like a scarf, yoking myself with it. It was impacting to wear it for a week, to church, to the movies, even washing dishes (talk about a distraction) but it taught me something, we ARE to be distracted by Jesus. The royalty and majesty of Christ's presence ever so known. In this awareness, we surrender to His authority in our lives, the King ~ MY King.

Purple, the saturating coloring of Christ's Royalty in our lives, die-ing to self, to be dyed of Christ.

'O the splendor of the King, clothed in Majesty ... How GREAT is our God!'

Color me purple, Jesus!

This next week, red. I will be distracted by His LOVE.