Aug 26, 2013


One of the hardest thing Scripture tells us to do is forgive people who have harmed us.  This is especially true when the grievance is fresh and the wound deep.  Walking in the Kingdom of God calls on believers to go against our natures:  pray for our enemies, bless those who curse us, and forgive our brothers who sin against us.  These are tough things to do.  The difficulty of forgiveness in the human heart is governed by several factors:  who sinned against you, how much time has elapsed, and the trespass itself.  Alas, all of these are influenced by the degree to which we forgive ourselves.  A human heart that holds grudges against itself will have an even harder time forgiving others. 

Fogiveness for deep wounds is often a daily activity.  I have experienced that lately.  I come to peace about something and find it rears it's ugly head days or weeks later and I have to forgive again.  Forgiving someone does not tell the person that what they did was okay, it just takes away that persons power over you to keep hurting you with their betrayal.  

We, as Christians, are forgiven everything we confess, we must not withhold from others that which is freely give to us.

Aug 24, 2013

Warning Signs

About 6 months after we moved into our neighborhood, the city put speed humps on the main drag.  I voted against them, but when my side lost I had to admit that in spite of careful intentions I did find myself going a lot faster than I should.  Since it was a familiar stretch of road, my mind would go on autopilot.  After a long day at work and a hellish commute, I would fly through the neighborhood in a hurry to get home.

The first day the road humps were there, it was a shock.  Had I not been paying attention I might have done some serious damage to my car.  The jet black humps stood out from the faded gray asphalt but the city crew did not paint the white arrows on the humps for several days.  Thankfully, there was a warning sign posted in the neighborhood and later that week the white arrows were painted.
Missing the Warning Signs
As the years have gone by, I don't notice the road humps any more.  The warning signs are obscured by tree branches and the dark black of the new asphalt has faded to nearly match the gray of the original road.  We putz through the neighborhood, going the speed limit and slowing for the obstacles automatically.  In many ways, I am thankful for the speed humps, they slow me down and have kept my neighborhood safe.

There is a lesson in these speed humps for every Christian.  Before the speed bumps and warning signs, we fly through life in a hurry to get home.  We know we should be slowing down and obeying the laws but we forget, get distracted, and end up going way too fast.  We don't want laws or rules to make us do those things but once they are there we realize they were for our own good.

When we first see the signs, we have to look carefully - they appear to be part of the road but we know there is something up ahead.  We cautiously approach them, testing their impact and slowly make our way along the path, recognizing the signs that God has put in our midst.  Preachers may begin to teach on these humps and the white lines of warning are painted on them.  In the beginning, we note the signs and the evidence of the obstacles.  We discuss them with our neighbors.  While they may appear to some as part of the road we recognize them for what they are.

After years though, the signs and the evidence become part of the journey.  The black asphalt fades to almost the same color of the road and we no longer pay attention to the signs.  As a body, we in the Church are used to the signs.  They are part of the road, part of the world, and we don't even notice them anymore.

The shame of this is that while the Body of Christ lies sleeping, the King is approaching.  Instead of shouting an alarm to the lost, we hunker down with false prophets and teach about "health and wealth", we condemn the lost instead of reaching out, or worse yet, we blaspheme and fall away in an apostasy that is astounding.

The vacuum left by the Body of Christ will be filled with something!  The world is lost and confused.  The believers in aliens see the imminent return.  The environmentalist believe the Earth is trying to tell us something because of climate change.  The fringe chemtrail, Nibiru, Lizard People believe the End is Near!  Even the folks that don't prescribe to any of these theories see what is going on around us and shake their head because something is going on....

The World sees these signs and they are trying to interpret them, all great lies from the Devil have grains of truth in them!  "Aliens" are showing themselves, but they are not what they claim to be.  The Earth IS groaning but not because of Global Warming.  There ARE strange things in the sky and many ARE controlled by "lizard people", but they aren't lizard people, they are ancient evil.

Everyone believes and sees the world through their own filter, everyone believes they are right.  Empirically, the Church has it right.  Not because we are smarter, or better, but because we base our worldview on the Bible, a 4000 year old book that has NEVER been wrong, it doesn't change, and it is a solid foundation for which man has governed himself and the world since Creation.  The Bible gives us the clear signs, it is up to us to point them out to each other and to explain them to the world and THAT my friends is what I have been trying to do.  Blessings to you and yours, In Christ! "Dolley".

Aug 21, 2013

Garden Patties

Abigail and Dolley readers every year my Sister puts in a wonderful organic garden, this year the squash and zucchini were abundant and we were looking for ways to cook the end of the season bounty.  I came up with this simple gem and thought I would share it. 

Bread Crumbs
Onion Powder

For this recipe I shredded 2 yellow neck squash, 1 medium zucchini, and 1 Yukon Gold potato.  I salted the veggies and let them sit in a fine mesh strainer so most of the water would leach out.  This takes about 20 minutes.  In a large bowl, I seasoned the veggies with salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder.  Stir in two eggs and enough bread crumbs to soak up the egg. 

Heat a large pan over medium high heat with enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan and up the side 1/4 inch.  Once the oil is hot, form the veggie mixture into patties, drop in the oil, flip when golden brown and crispy.

These were delightful and a great way to use up that squash and zucchini that was starting to "show a little age".

Aug 20, 2013

Weeds in the Garden

We have had the oddest Summer; wet, cool, and overcast.  Our Dog Days of 100+ degree days with no rain for weeks have simply not materialized.  Normally, the areas between the flower beds and the lawn looks like a terracotta pot that has cracked in the sun, this year it shows muddy 12 year old boy footprints.  Usually this time of year, the fescue is looking a bit singed and the crab grass is coming on strong, it looks like Augusta National out the front window...

The grass is so pretty, it highlighted the fact that the front flower bed needed some serious attention.  An entire wagon load of weeds came out of there today; a whole Radio Flyer full!  It was nasty, muddy, mosquito infested work and I've put it off all Summer; (sarcasm alert) perhaps that is why there was so many. 

The Black-eyed Susans are lovely but they have over taken way more of the front bed than they were intended, most of them had to go. There was a new bug eaten weed out there this year, I think it came from the pine straw.  It was shallow rooted and easy to pull out but boy was it everywhere!  With all the rain, I was able to get after some seriously established weed strongholds.  You know the ones, the trees that go undetected in the shrubbery.  Often, by the time you see them, they are well rooted and established.  Digging them out with a big shovel puts the shrub at risk so often the best you can do is prune it to the ground.  Year after year, it comes back.  This year with two hands and a strong back I uprooted a half a dozen of these suckers.  After my bath, I went out to admire my handy work and behold I had missed a thorny vine that was creeping up the back side of one of the shrubs.  The only way you can see it is from the landing above. 
The One I missed

Whilst I was supplying the nutritional needs for the neighborhood female mosquito population, it occurred to me that weeds in the garden are like sin in our lives.  Sometimes there are new ones that pop up out of nowhere, they may be easy to pluck up on their own but if left alone will spread like wildfire and become a real problem.  Some sins, like the Black-eyed Susans, are plants we intentionally set out but get out of balance. What started as something innocent begins to takes too much time, or money, or simply crowds out other  potentially good things in our lives.  These can be hobbies, friendships, that after dinner drink....  The hardest sins are like the trees growing undetected in the shrubbery.  During our dry times, the best we can do is prune it to the ground where nobody can see them.  We know the roots are still there but can't do much about it at the time and out of sight out of mind, right?  Only after a long period of rain and cool respite from the blistering Summer heat can we, with determination and hard work, get rid of the really deep ones.  Finally, even when we're dirty, bitten, and convinced we are done, a perspective from up above will reveal a hidden one we have missed.

What's in your garden, Friends?  I had a whole wagon load....

Wagon Load of Garden Weeds

Aug 19, 2013

Days of Awe

In the course of my research on Rosh Hashana, I learned about the Days of Awe.  This is the period between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur where tradition states that people whose name has been written in the Book of Death can seek God's mercy and forgiveness and have their names moved to the Book of Life.  The concept of Books is not merely traditional, the Scriptures hold many references.  Revelation 20:12 says, "I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God's throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books."  

I have discussed before that there are two schools of thought concerning those who will be saved after the Rapture and those who will receive the Great Deception and be lost forever.  One school says if you have heard the gospel and rejected it before the Rapture you are damned forever.  The other school says that each person has a chance after the Rapture, it's the last hope for all of eternity.  The Left Behind Series by Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins takes the view that people that have heard the gospel and not accepted Christ will have an opportunity to be saved.  This is what Scripture says:

2 Thessalonians 2:6 And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. 7 For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will consume with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 This evil man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. 10 He will use every kind of wicked deception to fool those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them. 11 So God will send great deception upon them, and they will believe all these lies. 12 Then they will be condemned for not believing the truth and for enjoying the evil they do. 

So breaking this down in a time line:  the restrainer of the Anti-Christ, I believe, is the Holy Spirit living inside the Church or the Bride of Christ.  Once the Church is Raptured, the time of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit will be over and the Anti-Christ will be revealed.  Satan puts on his dog and pony show and fools those who are on their way to destruction because they refuse to believe the truth that would save them.  The Anti-Christ will put forth the lies but God sends a great deception.  There may be a time between the Rapture and the Anti-Christ revealing himself that all people have the opportunity to embrace the truth.  

So if the Rosh Hashana Rapture comes to pass the Days of Awe may come into play.  There may be a time period for which all men who have heard and rejected the Gospel of Christ will have a brief period to repent, accept the Lord and be saved.  I believe this will be the only hope for Americans left behind at the Rapture because unlike in most of the world, Americans are afforded every opportunity to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Bible says that God reveals Himself to all people so that no one has an excuse, for my fellow countrymen, this is doubly true.    Men choose Hell.  I know many who are perishing and if they don't change their hearts and accept the free gift of salvation they will be at the Great White Throne Judgement and hear, "Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire."

Aug 15, 2013

Days of Noah

Matthew 24:37 "When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah's day. 38 In those days before the Flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn't realize what was going to happen until the Flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes."

Serious prophecy buffs have delved deep into the "Days of Noah", perhaps so deep that we miss the easy meaning.  At the end of the day, Noah knew what was coming along with his wife, his sons, and their wives.  Eight people on the planet knew what was coming.  That's it, eight people.... From a percentage perspective that isn't many.

As I was walking today, I was praying, "Lord, why are you burdening me with all of this?  Why are you showing me all of these things?"  I am burning with a desire to DO something!  I now understand the street preachers who yell at people as they walk by, they are desperate to tell people, to help people, to save people.

My research has taken me to videos that are so compelling I want to shout it from the rooftops but who would hear me?  I look at the view count for these videos or my little blog, they are pitifully small.  This information is not made by crazy people nor are they nut job web sites, many are nothing more than compilations of news stories, like the one below:

There are hundreds of these types of videos, the odd behavior of the Earth has become so prevalent that many channels compile monthly chronicles of natural disasters.  World wide the planet is groaning, there are numerous stories of strange and unexplained sounds that seem to emanate from the ground or the sky, no one can tell.  There is some strong language on the video below, but it is freaky....

Let's not forget the UFO sightings.  Like the extreme weather, there are so many instances that they are making monthly compilations.  With the world armed with smart phones and video cameras, people are documenting UFO's at a rate of around one thousand per month.  Here's last month's compilation:

Our sun is behaving very oddly.  NASA has released tapes of major activity on the sun and this news cast from July 31, 2013 alarmed me... The analyst states, "Well, what you are seeing here is a weather map of the sun.  You'll notice that part of the sun is missing."  

So in the days of Noah, everybody was going about their business.  What do you want to bet that all Noah's facebook friends, oh I mean, his neighbors thought he had gone off the deep end....  This time we don't go out on an Ark, this time we go out with a trumpet.

Aug 13, 2013

The Rosh Hashanah Rapture

Abigail and Dolley readers it has long been speculated that the Rapture of the church will take place on God's Feast of the Trumpets.  The more I study, the more I am in agreement.  For modern American Christians, the first thought we have after reading the preceding sentence is, "No man knows the hour or the day..."  Until about three weeks ago, I thought the same.  Hang with me for a bit and perhaps we can look at this together.

Let's start with the Feast days. Leviticus 23:2-4 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings. These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

These are fullness of God's appointments with man.  These are the days God set aside to meet and speak with his people. "Notice the phrase, "holy convocation". The phrase in Hebrew is mikraw kodesh, better translated, "holy convocation and rehearsal". In other words, God's appointed times are actually "holy rehearsals" set apart to reflect events in the Messianic era. God said to the people, "Pay attention! On this day I am going to do something! Wake-up! The Jews were to know and practice all of God's mikraot or holy convocations." (sited from Hebrew

It's important to note that God says, these are HIS feast days.  Somehow in modern Christianity we have this idea in our heads that these are only for the Jew; nowhere in Scripture are they designated as belonging to the Jews only, these are God's days.  As such, we as believers need to come into an understanding of them. 

The Feasts are broken up by season, the Spring and the Fall.  The first coming of the Lord Jesus completed messianic aspects of the Spring Feasts: Passover (when Messiah is killed), Unleaven Bread (when Messiah is buried), First Fruits (when Messiah is raised from the Dead), and Pentacost (when believers received the Holy Spirit).  These feast days were fulfilled with perfect accuracy and in order.

The prophetic calendar is not random; the religious leaders of the day knew when Messiah was born, they knew the times of Daniel were being fulfilled, they were not ignorant of the celestial signs in the Heavens nor of God's timetable.  God did not want them to be ignorant then and He does not want us to be ignorant now.

There is a season in between the Spring Feast and the Fall feast: Summer.  This waiting time represents and correlates with the church age for which we currently reside.  Daniel's 69 weeks for Israel were completed, we await the final 70th week, given for Israel.  The long hot Summer will not last forever, we know that the cooler days of Autumn are coming.  2 Timothy 3 describes exactly where we are right now:

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!  They are the kind who work their way into people’s homes and win the confidence of vulnerable women who are burdened with the guilt of sin and controlled by various desires. (Such women are forever following new teachings, but they are never able to understand the truth.) These teachers oppose the truth just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses. They have depraved minds and a counterfeit faith. But they won’t get away with this for long. Someday everyone will recognize what fools they are, just as with Jannes and Jambres.

So to recap:
  1. God makes appointments with His people
  2.  The Feasts are Messianic dress rehearsals
  3. The first coming of Jesus fulfilled the Spring Feasts in perfect order
  4. Prophetic time tables were known to the religious scholars ahead of time
  5. God does not want us to be ignorant and tells us to be ready
  6. God is not random
  7. 2 Timothy 3 perfectly describes the end times which we now live

So, if all of the above are true, they are applied to the first coming and the Spring Feasts then then we can apply the above truths to our discussion of the Fall Feasts and the second coming of the Lord.  (It is important to not confuse the Rapture of the Church and Christ's Second Coming - they are two separate events but will happen in the same "season".  When Jesus speaks of the End Times he is addressing Israel and warning of His Second Coming.  Paul tells the church of the Rapture.)

The first of the Fall Feasts is Rosh Hashanah, Leviticus 23:24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

The Primary focus of this holiday is acknowledging God as our King.  Men and women seek to make God the king of their lives.  It is the first day of Creation; "Let there be Light and there was Light.  Jesus is the Light of the World and shines in all the darkness.  It is the Jewish New Year but it is not the beginning of the calendar, it is the beginning of the seventh month.  Seven is complete.  So it marks the beginning but also the completion of a Sabbath.  Rosh Hashanah is a day of Remembrance and marks the day when Abraham was to sacrifice Issac.  Prophetically, Abraham and Isaac are a foreshadowing and a type of a Father sacrificing his Son.  It was a ram who served as the substitute sacrifice that day and hence the blowing of the ram's horn in remembrance. 

Rosh Hashanah is a day of Judgement, where God records the names of those in the Book of Life and those in the Book of Death.  The verdict is not final until Yom Kippur, there are ten days of mercy that those in the Book of Death can repent and believe. It begins a period where men search their souls and repent of their sins and seek forgiveness from God and man.  Teshuvah (literal means Returning) is the process by which a sincere Jew seeks forgiveness, it is a foreshadow of the process of Salvation:  "First one must recognize that they have made a mistake and genuinely desire to change for the better. They must then seek to make amends for their actions in a sincere and meaningful way, and finally demonstrate they have learned from their mistakes by not repeating them. When a Jew is sincere in his or her efforts at teshuvah, it is the responsibility of other Jews to offer forgiveness." (sited from

The Feast of the Trumpets; we are told that the Rapture will be accompanied by the trumpet of God.  1 Corinthians 15:52 it indicates it will be the last trumpet.  "The blowing of the shofar announces and reaffirms God as ruler of all mankind. The "trumpet-like" sound of the shofar also serves to stir the soul of all Jews, to awaken the Jewish people to the omnipotence and omnipresence of God and the chance to receive his mercy through prayer and repentance." (sited from how stuff

Okay, so now we have to address the "No man knows the hour or the day of the coming of the Son of Man, only the Father knows."  Did you know that is an idiom for a Jewish Wedding?  If I say to you as modern American Christian, "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today..."  You know I am talking about a wedding.  The same is true for "No man knows the hour or the day."  In Jewish marital customs after the betrothal the groom returns to his Father's land to build his new bride a home.  He was not released to go pick up his bride until his father said the house was ready.  When people would ask when he was returning to his bride he would answer, "No man knows the hour or the day only my Father knows."

It is also a phrase that refers to the uncertain nature of exactly when Rosh Hashanah will occur.  Since it is a Lunar Holiday, the task of setting the date fell to the religious rulers of the day based on the testimony of two witnesses.  Rosh Hashanah is the only feast that occurs on the first of the month, thus the determination of the day was extremely important.  The phrase, "No man knows the hour or the day" is also specific to Rosh Hashanah. When Jesus said this to his disciples THEY understood that he was talking about Rosh Hashanah!

To use the proofs established for the Spring Feasts, we can apply to the Fall feasts in like manner.
  1. God makes appointments with His people, the next Messianic appointment is Rosh Hashanah
  2. Rosh Hashanah is a dress rehearsal for Israel's acceptance of Jesus as King
  3. It is a time of repentance, remembrance, and forgiveness
  4. Prophetic time tables are known and the prophetic Scriptures have all been fulfilled
  5. The Church is the Bride of Christ and Rosh Hashanah is mentioned by Jesus as his time of returning
  6. God is not random
  7. Feast of Trumpets and Trumpets of the Rapture
The weight of the evidence is substantial and supports the belief that the Rapture of the Church will occur on God's next appointed time.  Where people get in trouble is trying to name the year - that my friend, as of this writing, is still a mystery.  Could be this year, the year after, or the year after... it could be 25 years from now.  I am not naming dates, just simply trying to do my little part in getting the Church ready.

Aug 10, 2013

Falling on Grace

I don't accept help comfortably or well.  Fiercely independent and self sufficient, "By myself!" was one of my first sentences.  I have never been still.  My family tells me that while I was a loving child I would not sit on anyone's lap and cuddle, unless they had a book.  I wanted my own apartment at 13 and constructed, what I believed to be, an extremely compelling argument for the merits of such an arrangement.  I have accepted as little help as possible my entire life.  I prefer to be the giver:  the big sister, the loving wife, the generous mother, the benevolent boss, the helpful daughter, the faithful friend.  Those are roles I prefer to play.

My colleagues gave me a baby shower before my son was born and I do not know if I have ever been so uneasy in my entire life.  A faithful colleague commented, "Dolley is not used to having people do for her, look how uncomfortable she is!"  Perhaps that was the first time I ever registered that thought and for me, it was a source of pride.

God broke me in 2011 and in most ways I am still broken.  There is a beautiful country song called, "Glass" that resonates with me.  The refrain says, "We are fragile, we are human, we are shaped by the light we let through us, we break fast, we are glass."  In spite of the brokenness, I am still not comfortable asking for help.

Recently, the Lord has shown me I was not made to be self sufficient.  Today, He revealed that I am even uncomfortable receiving from Him.  My prayers are often prayers of mercy; I ask Him to take things from me but not DO things for me.  I am under such intense spiritual attack at this point in my life, I am humbled to ask for help.  I can not walk this path alone, I can not pick myself up when I stumble, I have to hold my hand up and take the help that is offered.

One of the most profound talents of our time was the singer Rich Mullins.  He walked a very deep spiritual path and I identify with him.  His song, If I Stand, followed me on my walk today and I realize that bruised and battered as I am no longer capable of standing, so I will fall on the grace.

Aug 7, 2013

Cooking with a 12 Year Old Boy

Several months ago, my Son and I began a family tradition:  Wednesday Night Cooking with Mom.  It has been one of the greatest blessings of the year.  I have to admit that even though it has been a fantastic experience, like most things in life you have to get through the struggle to enjoy the reward.

Alas, he's 12 and asking him to do ANYTHING at this point in his life is a major inconvenience.  He grumbles and complains and every week tries to procrastinate.  He cops an attitude about choosing the meal and calls the whole thing stupid.  "Why do we have to do this again?" he moans.  I have to admit that on occasion I have blown my top... the idyllic bonding and instruction time does not always materialize.

Once I get him in the kitchen, it becomes a lesson in patience.  The hubby knows dinner WILL be late; it takes time to teach and a 20 minute dinner always takes exponentially longer.  It's a balancing act between proper instruction and letting him try things on his own.  Knife skills are particularly nerve wracking, every 12 year old boy wants to use the biggest knife in the block and chop with sheer strength and force.  Hot stoves, hot pans, hot ovens all have to be managed.
The World's Ugliest but Most Delicious Christmas Cookies (Not Exactly What I Envisioned...)

The mess... oh my goodness, it is a sight to behold.  Vegetables scattered here and yonder, flour... (now, even I make a mess with that stuff), spices shaken all over the stove, empty containers everywhere, spilled milk, two dozen dirty spoons, hot pans on counter tops, salt on the floor, a jar of honey dripping onto the counter... oh yeah, I spend as much time cleaning up after him as I do teaching him.

We sometimes argue; he insists he knows how to do something, like cut a tomato, and I witness what can only be described as a tomahawk chop about to come down on the hapless vegetable.  He doesn't appreciate my near hysteria at the explosion he is about to cause and says, "Geez, Mom aren't you over reacting?"

I drink while we cook.

That's become another part of the tradition.  I even share a bit with him.  That's part of the educational process, teaching him how to properly drink a glass of wine, how little it actually takes to get a buzz, and how quickly it can sneak up on you.  If I don't teach him how to properly handle and moderate his alcohol he'll learn it for himself. 

Sounds like drudgery, right?  Not by a long shot.  It seems that God sneaks in the kitchen when we aren't looking and makes magic happen.  Our food is wonderful!  Almost everything we've made has been delicious.  The Wednesday family dinners are the best of the week.  My normally finicky kid eats EVERYTHING he makes and now has a new appreciation for how hard Mom works to put on a meal.

We don't cook easy meals, we don't heat things up in the microwave; we cook.  It would be a lot easier on both of us if I bought simple box dinners for him and he nuked a couple of things but what would he learn?  What's the value of heating up something?  Not much.  Thus, our walk with the Lord is very much like cooking with your kids.  It's messy at times, it takes a lot longer than it should, we think we know what to do but we really don't, and sometimes we've got to have a glass of wine along the way.

Aug 6, 2013

Little Red Wagon

There is a street in my neighborhood that I avoid.  Perhaps all older neighborhoods have one of these streets; where the collective inhabitants have lapsed into apathy and exterior maintenance defeat.  The yards are more weed than grass, the shrubbery overgrown, the natural areas sport thousands of baby trees; no one has put out mulch for a decade.  It has a neglected feel and I always get the vibe that the people that live there are struggling.  I do enough of my own struggling, so I tend to avoid taking on more.  I haven't been down there in several years.

Today, the Lord prompted me to take that path.  I had just turned the corner and was expecting to be as frustrated as I usually was on this particular lane when I saw a neighbor had cut a huge bunch of bamboo.  There is a floor vase sitting empty in my house and bamboo was just the thing!  "Hmmm," I thought, "I listened to the Lord and right off the bat I got a gift!"  I inspected the piles, they were cut in perfect four foot sections and there were dozens of pieces to choose from.  I started to pick up a couple but freshly cut bamboo is heavier than you think.  I continued the walk but decided to return home for my little red wagon.

To my surprise, the street was in much better shape than it's been in years.  Some houses still need major landscape revisions but the feeling of hopelessness that had pervaded was no longer present.  One of the neighbors has built a spectacular water garden in their front yard and it seems to have prompted the rest to at least make an effort.  The mature trees gave the road a cool, shady feel; I was pleasantly surprised.  Overall, the morning walk was a peaceful and productive venture.

So I high tailed it home to procure my red wagon and retrieve my "treasure".  As I headed back out, I noticed that the wagon was loud!  Pulling it behind me, it made a terrible racket.  It disturbed the peace, drowned out the singing birds, and the church bells.  I could barely hear myself think and I certainly could not hear the still small voice.  Driving it in grass offered no improvement and made the footfalls uncertain.  The faster I walked, the louder it got.

My Little Red Wagon
Several years ago, we were treated to a sermon about how we pull our sins behind us, like bags of dung.  We know that we are forgiven but refuse to forgive ourselves and others.  We hold ourselves to a higher standard of forgiveness than God does and we pull our sink behind us.  Think of how arrogant that is.... Hilariously, the Pastor painted a picture of the size of the dung heaps we pulled behind, some had a small paper bag, some a bucket, and some a wagon.  Unfortunately, some of us have a pick up, and others have a tractor trailer.  What are you pulling behind you?  What stinking pile of dung do you need to leave by the side of the road?

I pondered dung for a moment but that was not my lesson for the day.  The Lord prompts us to be obedient and ask for forgiveness everyday.  Emptied before him, I have worked very hard to leave dead stuff alone.  No I wasn't carrying dung behind me, I had an empty wagon.  What then?  Then it hit me, my destination was stuff... I never think of stuff without thinking of the classic George Carlin bit. His perspective on stuff is spot on.  (I'm not putting a link here because it has really foul language, but if you can stomach his filthy mouth, check it out.)

Anyway, I realized how much harder it is to hear God and find peace when we are in pursuit of possessions.  When the purpose of our journey is to get things we miss the serenity of the walk.  We can not think because the noise drowns everything else out.  These folks are in chains, their lives have become a constant quest for the next thing that is going to make them happy.  Possessions cause a ton of futile work: you buy the stuff, put the stuff together, learn how to use the stuff, store the stuff, repair the stuff, clean the stuff, worry if someone breaks or steals your stuff, talk about your new stuff, and lust after the next and the newest.  They buy bigger houses than they really need to have room for all everything.  They rent storage units to hold their extra stuff and when they die nobody wants their junk!  The Lord is very clear in Matthew 6:19-20 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. The constant lust for possessions crowds out charity, generosity, and enslaves those walking this path.  Revelation 3:17 You say, 'I am rich. I have everything I want. I don't need a thing!' And you don't realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 

I prayed, "Are you asking me to give up my worldly possessions?"  The thought was uncomfortable.  I don't love my stuff like some but I do like it.... He then opened my eyes in a very personal way, I have surrendered my stuff to him on a number of occasions.  The first time when my husband lost his job and took up pro-bono prison ministry - we gave God our stuff and said we will follow Him.  He released us from the curse of the Name it and Claim it.  The second time we gave up our stuff was because the "gift" we had acquired in our Name it and Claim it days had become an albatross and the load was too heavy to carry.  He released us from the overwhelming worry and burden.  The third time we gave up our stuff was when I lost my job a couple years ago, He showed us His hand of provision in the midst of the impossible.  No, this time he wasn't asking me to give up my stuff, I'd done that... "What then Lord?"  I asked.

"What will you do if I bless you?"  I thought for a moment and smiled, "I will offer you my stuff not as a surrender, not as someone who is willing to lose it for you, not as the World takes away, but as a crown I lay at your feet.  I will do this as an honor and a gift that I give back to you as an offering." I felt His pleasure; that was the answer He wanted to hear, that is what He wanted to teach me, and that was my lesson for the day. 

This life is a journey, it is a path that each of us must walk.  Your path will be different from mine but perhaps these are guideposts along the way.  Are you listening and obeying when the Lord prompts you to take a route even though you don't really want to go that way?  Are there gifts He wants to give you for obedience, if you would just listen?  Are you missing those blessings? Will you be pleasantly surprised that the path is much nicer than you expected?  Are you pulling your old sins, hurts, and failures behind you?  You can never ascend the high places pulling those burdens and you will smell bad...  Is your journey one to obtain possessions?  You will never have peace and quiet on that road.  You will spend you time in vain.  Have you surrendered your stuff to Him?  It is a terrible burden to pull behind you if you haven't.

There are no short cuts on this road, you do not get to jump on a high speed train and get to the end.  No, the road is long and at times difficult, perhaps these signs will help light the way. As for me, I long for the day when I lay it all at His feet.

Aug 2, 2013

Being an Ant

Life can run in parallels; sometimes we are faced with circumstances that seem eerily familiar.  If we repeat mistakes and continue along dead end paths, we should not be surprised that we achieved the same results.  Then there are times when things may seem the same but there are subtle and significant differences.  I am currently living the latter.

On the surface, it appears that once again history has repeated itself but as I dig deeper I realize that while the circumstances may be the same, I have changed.  I am not the same woman who went through this two and a half years ago.  On the mourning day, I wept before the Lord and cried out, "I have been a good girl!  I did not do anything to deserve this!"  He soothed my soul and comforted me in my grief.  He validated my assertion that I was not at fault and assured me that He would show me, in time, why this has happened and that He would sustained me every day.

Over the last three and a half weeks, I have spent countless hours with the Lord.  I walk and pray and write and blog and think and research and talk (my poor husband...).  I am peaceful and calm and am enjoying this fellowship with the Lord.  As we walked yesterday, He revealed to me that while I have given my heart to Him, surrendered my self to Him, and honored Him in my life and my work; I have  never really given Him control of my life.  Immediately, I thought, "Because your plans scare me!"

That's a heck of a thing to admit; God's plans scare me.  Surrender to Him fully scares me.  He is not safe, He is not a marionette that I control on a string, He is not tame, His way might be hard.  I guess I never really reasoned this out before now.

My way?  Oh, that's easy, my way involves being eternally beautiful, losing a few pounds, having enough money to do whatever I want,  a fabulous career, and a house on the beach.  My plans include no pain, no suffering, no obstacles.   His plans?  I am not sure but I bet they involve remote locations with stinky people that I need to feed or something...  Hey, I haven't thought this out before and I think this was the vague imagine in my head.  (Just keeping it real here in Abigail and Dolley World.)

What if God's plan for my life accomplishes many of the things my plan does but has the added bonus of being obedient, serving the King, and storing up treasures in Heaven?  What if God's plan work to my strengths and use my talents?  What if God's plan is a good one?  These were some Earth Shaking thoughts...

So I reason out, nobody is promised tomorrow.  The research I have been doing seems to indicate that the Rapture might be imminent.  What if there is just a short time left?  Could I give God six weeks?  Could I totally surrender my life and my future to His hands?  Does this mean not doing anything on my behalf? I don't think so, Proverbs tells us to behold the hard working ant.  I can be an ant.
Hard Working Ant