A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

We have inexpressible JOY…  you know what the world is asking right now???  They’re asking, “How???  Why???”.  Those who do not accept Christ Jesus and His precious Holy Spirit into their hearts and lives, do not understand inexpressible joy.  It’s only by accepting Christ Jesus by faith into your heart and life that you can experience a joy that can not be explained.  It’s better felt than telt…  because I can’t explain it with words.  Words are not adequate – but true faith in the Lord and Savior Christ Jesus is how we experience His amazing joy, love, grace, and mercy.  And He rewards us with these things because He longs to have a relationship with His creation.  He wants to love us and for our love and faithfulness in return.  Sometimes our faith gets tested…  major big time!

You know about the fires in California, right?  Take a look at this photograph – everything around it is in ashes, but this cross still stands!  What a wonderful reminder that no matter what is being destroyed in our lives, Christ and His cross can never be destroyed if they are in your heart and life!  When I saw this picture, my eyes filled with tears and once again I prayed for the folks there whose homes are being destroyed.  May they have the joy of the Lord along with His strength and wisdom through this situation.  I pray God will bless them with everything they need – and I pray that God will bless with some wants as well.

We don’t follow a list of rules and get zapped by lightning if we step out-of-bounds.  We are obedient to God because we love Him and are so thankful for the horrific sacrifice that Christ made for us on the cross at Calvary.  He took the sins of the world – past, present, future – on His shoulders!  We are saved from an eternity in hell.  There is a reason we should love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and minds.  As the years go by and we see His marvelous works in our lives, we just love and trust Him more and more!  This is how we get the inexpressible, undeniable, precious JOY of the Lord.  What does the joy of the Lord do for us?  Why do we cherish it so much?  Well, a verse comes to mind:

The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.  – Psalm 28:7

He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  It sounds like a GOOD thing to me – doesn’t it sound like a GOOD thing to you?  No matter what is going on in your life, the Savior of your soul can be trusted to make a way and provide answers.  The way and the answers may not be in your time, but believe me when I say, there will come a time when you look back and say, “Oh, now I understand God’s timing in that situation!”  That’s why the longer you trust God, the stronger your faith gets.  You’ve seen so many ways God has helped you in the past – so you know without a doubt that He has all the problems in the present and the ones coming in the future under control.

I’m assured that whatever comes along in my life, God and His precious Holy Spirit will pour out His love, peace and joy on me.  When we are fully trusting in the Lord, it’s not a superficial happiness that we’re given, but it’s joy that lasts in our lives regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in.  That’s why it’s called inexpressible – and to the world, I would go further and say they think it doesn’t exist.  Ah…  but if you know the Lord, you know better!

I want to show you a photo of JOY!!!  This is Madi, and I hope her middle name is Joy, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t..  If I ever get to meet her, she will be JOY to me!  She’s such a bright, shiny star and lights up any room!

I’VE GOT THE JOY, JOY, JOY, JOY DOWN IN MY HEART! DOWN IN MY HEART TO STAY!

Have faith, children of God.  Keep praying and keep showing the world the joy that God gives you to share.  🙂

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (30)

Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.  – Psalm 98:1

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say, “I can’t sing” – I’d be so rich!  If God gave you a voice, sing to Him a new song – not because you have a good singing voice – but because He has done marvelous things!1

Has He blessed you in your life?  Is He worthy of praise?  If you answer yes…  you gotta sing His praises!  If you aren’t comfortable singing in front of people, that’s okay.  Hop in your car and pop in a praise and worship CD – and sing along!  Just don’t close your eyes, cuz…  ya know…  you’re driving.2

I had a praise and worship cassette tape that I walked to for many years.  It had a song on it that was based on this Scripture.

You know what I’d love to see happen???  I would absolutely LOVE to see a Christian Planet Fitness.  I like working out – except for the music.  The new techno-babble “music” that is played is not particularly inspiring while I’m walking on the treadmill.  I know – earbuds and an ipod…  well – yeah in a perfect world I could do that.  Trouble is, it’s not a perfect world and I don’t have earbuds or an ipod.

I have a cassette player and headphones.  That’s how far behind I am.  If you think I’m gonna walk into Planet Fitness with my Walkman and headphones – you are cray cray.  Ain’t happenin’!

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Let’s start the new year by singing to the Lord!  Sing to Him a new song – a joyful noise – it may be off-key or out of tune, but I don’t see anything in the Bible that says it has to be perfect – just joyful.  🙂

 

 

 

BLUE CHRISTMAS

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Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  – Matthew 5:4

Blue Christmas services include an emphasis on candles, with people in the congregation invited to come forward and light a candle in memory of someone or to mark an event in their lives. Some will say words out loud, others in silent prayer. Candles are also sometimes lit as prayers or Scripture readings are recited.

I appreciate these types of outreach services for a couple of reasons.  I lost my granny LaVella on Christmas day when I was just a little girl.  Christmas is not a happy cheery time.  I miss that sweet woman every day and it’s a shame that the timing was that way, but it’s not a loss I’ll just get over and go on.  And, I may get some raised eyebrows, but I’m just gonna say it…  Christ came to earth as a baby, an infant – and most people are really cool with that.  I have a tendency to cry at all things “baby” – and it’s not that I don’t understand things on a theological level – but at the heart level – the “I’m a woman” level…  it’s difficult to sit through a traditional Christmas program.

I used to think I just had to suck it up, buttercup.  At one time I worked with children to help them with choir performances at Christmas.  There were times I thought I’d lose it.  I’d go home and cry uncontrollably.  I just thought I had to tough things out.  All I was really doing was making things worse for myself.  Did God really expect that of me?  Did He really?

I did some soul-searching and prayed a long time about it.  God did not expect me to self-inflict pain and agony.  Nowhere in my Bible does it say thou shalt inflict pain on thyself.  I’m to love and care for people – but there are other ways to do that, right?  I’ve since found other ministries that allow me to be whole.  That’s what God wants me to be…  whole in Him.  I had to find ways to serve the Lord that are less painful on my heart and mind.

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I appreciate the Blue Christmas services.  It’s especially for people who deal with grief around Christmas.  We’re allowed to feel what we feel and as we feel, we heal.  It’s not a denial of the facts of Christmas – it’s just not rubbing our noses in it – if that makes sense.  I don’t have to sit through an excruciating reenactment of the events that took place in Bethlehem.  It’s good for people with children, and I believe it’s great for children to be involved.  I just had to excuse myself from it – before it sent me over the edge.  I’m glad I did.  I’m at peace like never before.  In a traditional setting, I always felt as though nobody understood my tears except God.  When I’m sitting with others who feel the same way I do – and some who suffer recent losses…  I not only feel understood, but I’m there to understand what they’re going through.

Please do not think I’m somehow diminishing a traditional Christmas program.  I’m not.  I would, however, encourage more congregations to be more inclusive of people who feel deep sorrow at Christmas.  I understand that it’s basically what a Christmas Eve candlelight service & Lord’s Supper is for…  but there’s something about being allowed to say your loved one’s name out loud.  Here in America we’re not very comfortable letting each other talk about a loss – or say the name of a loved one out loud.  Why IS that?  I’m just saying, you know that when someone loses a loved one – that person is going to be the only thought in their mind, right?  So, why not have one extra service at Christmas just for those who are grieving?  Why are American churches so afraid of doing that?  I guess I just don’t understand.  I would invite more churches to consider a BLUE CHRISTMAS service.  Yeah – it’s a bummer – but guess what?  Speaking as one who chooses to attend the Blue Christmas service…  it’s healing.  God smiles when His children have needs met by the church – which, if I remember right, is to be the hands and feet of Christ in ministry.  I think I remember that being the case.

Father God, Your heart beats for the vulnerable and for those who are alone. Help us to love Your people as You love them, for we are made in Your image.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

This is for my granny.  She liked Elvis.  If Elvis is in Heaven, maybe they’re singing duets, who knows?  🙂

blue-christmas-prayerWhile my family is in Heaven saying Happy Birthday to Jesus…  I’ll just stay here and say Merry Christmas to you!  🙂

SILENT NIGHT

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So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.  – Luke 2:4-7

Most of us grew up singing this Christmas carol.  It’s like saying the pledge of allegiance or reciting Scripture we’ve learned by heart.  The lyrics just roll off the tongue with little or no thought.  Today I want to make you think about the words of this old carol.  Why was “Silent Night” written?  Why not “Bright Night” – although early in the song it’s mentioned that all is calm and all is…  bright.

On Christmas Eve, 1818, “Stille Nacht!  Heilige Nacht” was heard for the first time in a village church in Oberndorf, Austria.  The voices of the assistant pastor, Father Joseph Mohr, and the choir director Franz Xaver Gruber, rang through the church accompanied by Father Mohr’s guitar.  All the congregation at that Midnight Mass in St. Nicholas Church listened intently.

On all six verses, the choir repeated the last two lines in four-part harmony.  A carol was launched that would soar into the hearts of folks throughout the world.  It’s been translated into hundreds of languages and is sung by untold millions every Christmas from small chapels to great cathedrals around the world.

Keep in mind that this simple tune was written to be played on a guitar.  The effect is so profound because of its simplicity.  It’s as though as lullaby is being sung – and what better accompaniment than a guitar?quiet-time-prayer

Often our Lord speaks to the human heart in a whisper.  Why are we so surprised when it is the soft and simple song that penetrates a hard heart?  Christmas softens most hearts by its very nature because what’s more precious than a baby?  Of course, Christ was not just any child, but He did enter into our world in the same way we as humans do.  It’s the first small bit of common ground He established in order to become a part of humanity.

When I think of what He left behind to begin His mission, I’m so very thankful He decided to follow through…  from cradle to glorious resurrection – for even me.

Take a look at Lucinda’s cute poem about that silent night.

my-christmas-storyIsn’t that cute???  🙂

 

 

 

LUKE 9:26 on 9/26

tl-luke-9-26-on-9-26Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  – Luke 9:26

If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “I believe in God, but I choose to keep my religion private and to myself”, I’d be so rich!  Yet – strangely enough, if I choose to share Christ with others, the target on my back gets shot at.  Oh, you haven’t noticed that target on my back?  Trust me – it’s there.

The most recent situation took place on facebook.  Most of my friends there are aware of my stance about faith.  I’m not ashamed to share it with anyone, and although I hope and pray it’s not annoying, I don’t apologize for my facebook posts or my blog posts.  I write Christian poetry – although I have written poems that are not particularly religious, I’m not going to apologize for writing what God has inspired me to write.

Apparently one of my friends didn’t get the memo.  This person ripped me a new halo about going overboard with my Christianity.  Well, long story short, it ended with unfriending and blocking.  Isn’t it sad when people can’t just let people post whatever they want on their own facebook wall?  Last time I checked, it was still a free country – so far.

It’s my belief that some encouragement is not a bad thing in our upside-down world.  Call me crazy, but a positive message of hope and love should be welcome on facebook.  Oh well…  I wonder who will be the next one to endure this person’s anti-religious rant?  I dunno – not my circus, not my monkeys.  That’s a Polish proverb – it means that it’s not my problem anymore.

I’ll just say it – nothing a human being says or does to me is going to change what I say or do.  When I’m being criticized, I know it’s really my Savior being criticized.  And by the way, this portion of Scripture has about 20 cross-references.  You know what that tells me?  It tells me that the Lord wants His children to share their faith along the way – it’s not to be held silently and hugged to yourself.  My favorite portion of Scripture on the subject is Romans 1:16.  Look it up – I’m too lazy to type it out.  😉

Oh alright – here’s a hint:  this happens to be my favorite song too.

I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 🙂

 

PSALM 9:8 ON 9/8

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He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity.  – Psalm 9:8

There are times when the political tension can be cut with a knife.  I see this election cycle as one of choosing the lesser of two evils.  That’s why I want to focus on God…  because HE reigns with righteousness and judges with equity.  Once His children back away from all the distractions of this election cycle and open God’s Word…  that’s when we can say with confidence, NO MATTER WHO IS ELECTED PRESIDENT, JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

A BOOK WITH PROMISEThe Psalms have been a source of wisdom and comfort to me.  Even though this election is pivotal to America, in my opinion, God’s Word has given me assurance that no matter what happens, it will be alright because our God is in control – and He will not be mocked.  Those who are evil and wrongdoers will be brought to justice in the end.  The wheat will be separated from the chaff and God will have the last word.

I pray that God will work in the midst of Americans during this time.  Only God is able to cut through the babble in our country and touch human hearts, minds and spirits.  We need to learn what He wants for us now more than ever.  So many have completely rejected His Holy Word.  Through ministries we pray that some will find their way back.  We trust God for the increase because we know that His Word will not return to Him void.  We plant seeds…  that’s all we do.

AMERICA ON THE ROCKAMERICA'S IN HIS HAND

I love this song – and to tell the truth, I sing it with Heather as I’m driving in my little car – windows down and sunroof open – “We’ve all been lost and we’ve all been hurt, where our hope is thin and our faith don’t work, but nothing lasts forever, the only thing that matters is God is still God and He holds it together, so hang on now.” 

Thank you, Heather – I will hang on!  Today’s reminder is this…  God is still God.  He will judge as only He can.  No matter who becomes the next President in the United States, God is still God and my hope and trust is in Him alone.  🙂

 

 

 

PSALM 9:1 ON 9/1

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For the director of music. To the tune of “The Death of the Son.” A psalm of David. I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  – Psalm 9:1 

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is live your life in spite of the broken dreams that lie strewn behind you.  No, I’m not suicidal – don’t worry…  but it’s been a challenge lately to grab ahold of real purpose for living.  I suppose part of the problem is that I keep seeing my friends on facebook…  some of them I’ve known since high school.  They have raised their children and are now spoiling their grandchildren.  It’s as it should be and I’m very happy for them!  I just question LORD…  why is that not the way my life turned out?

I wonder what I’ve done that was so awful to be overlooked.  I am not perfect by any stretch, but neither are those who have been blessed with people in their lives.  They have big people, little people, dysfunctional people, quiet people, loud people…  what a blessing!

Does anyone else think this verse holds a great deal of irony?  I mean, do the words and the tune really mesh up?  The tune is called “The Death of the Son” – but the wonderful, uplifting praiseworthy words are…  I WILL GIVE THANKS TO YOU, LORD, WITH ALL MY HEART, I WILL TELL OF ALL YOUR WONDERFUL DEEDS.

Wow…  epiphany!  Here’s the key to living a happy, good quality life!  Regardless of the cards you are dealt in life, you find the good parts and PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GOOD DEEDS.  Although there are shattered pieces of dreams behind me, I wake up every morning and praise GOD for HIS goodness, for HIS love, for HIS grace, for HIS mercy, for HIS provision in my life.  He is all-sovereign, all-strong, all-powerful.  He is all I need in this life.

There are situations and circumstances I’ll never understand…  but then I remember that regardless of my circumstances, the LORD has done wonderful deeds in my life.  That is when I can be thankful to the LORD for my life.  Maybe He’s not done with me yet.  I’m just being still and know that HE is GOD and HE holds my simple little life in the palm of HIS great big hand.I TRUST YOU, PAPA GOD

Today let’s take a cue from David…  no matter how far you think you’ve sunk – and no matter how many tiny pieces of broken dreams lie scattered on the path behind you, trust God for answers and for hope.  Yesterday is over.  Press on, knowing that God has a wonderful plan for your future!  🙂