Blessed Union

wedding-rings-and-hands-1I have always loved the story. George and Marjorie were given a 35th wedding anniversary party. During the celebration, George was asked to share some of his thoughts about the long-lasting marriage. He began by going back 30 years to the night when, during a severe thunderstorm, Marjorie was tucking their little boy into bed. “As Marjorie was about to turn off the bedroom light, our little boy asked tearfully, “Mommy, will you please stay with me all night?” Smiling Marjorie gave him a little hug. Then she said, “I can’t stay. I have to stay in Daddy’s room.” There was a pause, then a shaky little voice answered, “The big baby.”
What a great memory for this child to carry with him through the years. My mom and dad loved being together.
Katherine Porter writes, “Love must be learned, and learned again and again; there is no end to it. Hate needs no instruction, but waits only to be provoked.”
God doesn’t command us to get married, He offers it to us as an opportunity. Once we join in this BLESSED UNION we cannot love God without loving our spouse as well.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24
And when our focus, momentum and direction is in sync with the psalmists words, then desire for intimacy and presence with God and our spouse goes unabated. What an ‘extreme’ loving environment for all who enter our space.
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Back and Forth

yesnomaybe+dice-e1293403069459Amazon sells 1,161 different kinds of toilet brushes. Jane Porter discovered this when she spent an evening trying to choose one for the bathroom in her new apartment. Nearly an hour after having read countless contradictory reviews and pondering far too many choices, she wrote this, “I felt grumpy and tired and simply gave up.”
Well of course, she is suffering from decision fatigue. I chuckle at the statement by Jimmy Buffet, “Indecison may or may not be my problem.” After getting a good night’s sleep, Jane went out and happily bought the only toilet brush the local dollar store offered. The one brush turned out to be the right brush.
The church at Laodicea had a serious indecision problem. “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish you were one or the other…” Revelation 3:15
James writes that a person of two minds is unstable, unreliable and uncertain – James 1:8
“We live in a smorgasbord culture in which everything is interesting and nothing really matters. We have lost a vision of the good life, and our hopes for the future are emptied of moral content. Instead of purposefully walking to determinate places we are aimlessly floating with random currents,” Miroslav Volf said.
The decisive Psalmist wrote this, “My soul, wait only upon God and silently commit to Him; for my hope and expectation are from Him. Trust in, lean on, rely on and have confidence in Him at all times….” Psalm 62:5,8 Amplified Bible
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Mary

IMG_9229Mary of Bethany had one remarkable skill that sets her apart in scripture – her laser-like focus. In fact it is Dr. Luke who reveals this impressive character trait.
“Now as they went on their way Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.” Luke 10:38-39
She was riveted, mesmerized, hanging on every word he said. Before her was the Truth. He had created her. He had rescued her from her fallen state. Oh, and after his resurrection would prepare an eternal homecoming venue for her and all who embrace the Truth.
“The very idea of freedom presupposes some objective moral law which over arches rulers and ruled alike. Unless we return to the crude and nursery-like belief in objective values, we perish.” C.S. Lewis
Here is the starting point. “…I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” – Jesus (John 14:6)
“And you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” – Jesus (John 8:32)
Life’s velocity has accelerated to an alarming pace. This information age demands that nothing is fixed or absolute. I vehemently disagree and join with Mary at the feet of the solid Rock.
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SUNRISE OR SUNSET

New beginnings. New chapters. New additions.

These all trigger this overwhelming fresh response of which the content is clarity, adventure and the persuance of new paths.

Among the greatest blessings in my life are three grandsons. Until they came along I had forgotten there were so many questions to be answered in this world. Also, they have made me cognizant once again of the limitless energy young lives possess. Wish I could bottle some of it for myself. Icing on the cake has been the birth of our first granddaughter, Weslie. Absolute beauty! The grandsons have led the way in welcoming and loving the newest sunriser to our family. These four precious souls all begin their life’s journey firmly ensconced in the safe eternal arms of a loving God. What a blessed reality!

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In the words of the One that created them, “Let the little children come to Me…for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

Sunsetters are no different. All grandparents and great-grandparents that have travelled with God through the peaks and valleys of life’s path know His security, presence and calming assurance. They share the sentiments and conviction of Paul when he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

As my gray hair progresses, my amazement of God continues to grow. One reason is that He constantly challenges me not to walk but keep running.

“Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age. They shall be fresh and flourishing.” Psalms 92:13,14

This perpetual harvest keeps me spiritually strong but also serves as a monumental billboard for the sunrisers to view.

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Everyone Counts

Different-Cultures-in-USA-vs-India-meet-peopleJoann Jones writes, “During my second year of nursing school our professor gave us a pop quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one. ‘What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?’ Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in the paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. “Absolutely,” the professor said. “In your careers you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.”  I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”
Picking and choosing is what we do at the ice cream chain Baskin Robbins. But when it comes to people, all are significant.
“So God created people in his own image; God patterned them after himself; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
We are never more like our Creator than when we serve and love ALL humanity.
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Unquenchable Thirst with Deep Satisfaction

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Lower Hillside Dam, March 2014

As our plane from JoBurg begins its descent towards Bulawayo, an amazing sight appears. Matabeleland is a carpet of green vegetation dotted with numerous pools of water. This region has had the best rainfall in decades! The atmosphere on the ground is one of hope springing to life. Water is life and life brings exuberance, optimism and positive expectations.

Maize and other vegetables are growing everywhere and people in both urban and rural settings will not go hungry this winter. The drought had a vice grip on the province, but what an unimaginable experience to drive from Bulawayo to Victoria Falls with water under every bridge.
However the human spirit is never more alive than when it connects with perpetual power called “Living Water.” In the words of the One who generates this unique resource:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty….and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” John 5:35-36
When we drink from the fountain of life a paradox ensues, a continual craving for more of the Savior while simultaneously experiencing a constant serenity.
” I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.” John 14:27
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True Colors

ImageNot one of us is exempt. It is part of everyone’s life. Our geographical location is irrelevant. This is common to all of humanity. All of us at some time will be intentionally or unintentionally hurt by someone. It might be by their inconsiderate verbal remarks or brash physical actions. The fact is others will blow it and usually it will be people close to us like neighbors, friends and family.
 
It is at this point that a critical choice is made. Will we choose the road of resentment and revenge or the path of forgiveness and healing? I believe it is imperative we select mercy. Why?
 
1. Because resentment is unhelpful and unhealthy: 
      “Surely resentment destroys the fool and jealousy kills the simple.” Job 5:2
 
2. Because we will all need forgiveness in the future:
      “But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in  heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25
 
3. Because God has forgiven you:
      “Make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the Lord forgave
      you so you must forgive others.” Colossians 3:13
 
What are your true colors?
 
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Bucket List

“Bucket List” refers to a list of things people long to do or see or accomplish before they die. Marvel at Victoria Falls, hike the Grand Canyon, skydive, travel to every continent, attend a World Cup Final – the lists are as varied as the people who assemble them. The goal? To accumulate memorable experiences as one would fill a bucket with strawberries. 
 
ImageWhat would a Christian bucket list look like? Of course you would start with a bucket. But here is the question. Would it be turned upright to accumulate the most desirable experiences possible or would it be turned upside down to pour goodness throughout the communities we live in?
 
“God has given each of you a gift from His variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10
 
“And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard.You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”  Acts 20:35
 
“After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, ‘Do you understand what I was doing?…And since I, your Lord and Teacher have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet.” John 13:12, 14
 
“The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:25
 
I love the prayer of Mychal Judge (former chaplain of the Fire Department of New York who died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center).
     “Lord, take me where you want me to go
    Let me meet who you want me to meet
    Tell me what you want me to say
    And keep me out of your way”
 
The fulness of life’s journey consists not so much of our abilities, but what God can do through us.
 
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Health Conscious

Digital-Bible-pops-up-in-more-pews-pulpits-8V23PE86-x-large“Now Absalom was praised as the most handsome man in all Israel. He was flawless from head to foot. He cut his hair only once a year, and then only because it was so heavy. When he weighed it out, it came to five pounds.” 2 Samuel 14:25-26
Several years ago US News and World Report said that the San Francisco company Hairogenics is banking on American vanity. It offers to preserve all the hair you are losing until a remedy for baldness is found. Within 24 hours of going online, the company logged 1.5 million visitors to its website. Within a week, 4,000 had signed up to have their locks stored in Hairogenics climate controlled underground facility. The cost: $49.95 for a hair collection kit plus $10 annually for storage. The facility can accomodate about 800,000 hair bundles.
The Holy Spirit reminds us that true living has to do with the long view, and the long view is all about the inner person. I love the way the apostle Paul puts everything into perspective:
“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
God’s children anticipate with bated breath the triumphant homecoming that heaven will be. Magnanimous, magnificent, magnetic. It is why we are so health-conscious when it comes to the inner person.
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Horizontal or Vertical?

GreatSmokyMountains-NorthCarolinaThe earth is an amazing planet. From the aqua waters of Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman to the fiery red and burnt orange Smoky Mountains in Autumn. Through a multitude of breath-taking scenes around our globe, we are constantly reminded of our awesome, intelligent Designer.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone…So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” John 1:1-4, 14
Michael was sitting across the table and the joy in his heart was quite apparent. “I am celebrating my first anniversary out of prison,” he said. The devolution of alcohol and drugs had propelled him into a downward spiral of physical, mental and emotional destruction. “Prison was the best thing that ever happened to me.” You see, he entered arrogant and godless but he came out surrendered and redeemed. Jesus became his Saviour and Lord behind those bars which meant he was freed before he was released! Michael will tell you that every day is brilliant now that he is devoid of the shackles and limitations of a HORIZONTAL WORLD VIEW.
“So Christ has now become the high priest over all good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood – not the blood of goats and calves – he entered the most holy place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” Hebrews 9:11-12
Ask anyone with a VERTICAL WORLD VIEW, and they can tell you with conviction their earthly purpose and heavenly destiny.
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