Christian, Uncategorized

The Heart

Hearts in Concrete

Sunday would be a day like no other. My family left for church ahead of me, something that a family in ministry sometimes does, because we all have to be at church at different times. With limited time during the week, sometimes grabbing that last minute coffee , throwing a load of laundry into the machine or spending a little more time with the dogs, needs to be done.

Just for a little backdrop, we live out in the country and it takes quite a bit of time to get to our home or to get to one of the main roads. Just recently, the water company began construction on a new water line that needed to be added to our community so that it can provide the new homes or future homes with water. These new zones have come with road closures and detours. So what would normally take about 5 minutes to get to our house from the main entrance of our neighborhood, now takes about 10 minutes. The closest EMT station is about 30 minutes away, then you add on the construction and you are looking at 40 minutes. Well, Christy, this is not that big of a difference. And in the big scheme of things, it probably isn’t, unless it means the difference between life and death because the new construction might become an obstacle for the EMT’s, firemen, or police officers  who have not traveled that route and have to get to people that are in dire need. And on this day, God knew that I was going to need them in the area sooner.

I had woken up a bit more tired than usual, but did not think too much about it, mainly because I am a very active person and I always seem to be on the move. Going to sleep late and waking up early have become a norm for me, so again, nothing unusual about me being a little tired. I said goodbye to my kids who left before my husband and then said goodbye to my husband who left before me.  I then began a mental countdown of how much time I had left before I began my drive to church. I was already dressed for the day and went outside to throw away the recycled items.  As I turned to head back inside the house, is when a curtain of black fell over my right eye, leaving me completely blind. I also began to feel rather dizzy and sick to my stomach all at once. Little did I know that my blood pressure was at an all time high. My normal numbers are 90/60, so them climbing to 152/88 was extremely high for me or for anyone really. My pupils were highly dilated and I became helpless.

I was able to get to my phone, call 911, call my husband and daughter during this entire process. Praise the Lord that I made it inside the house, because the concrete outside would not have been forgiving if I fell on it. I pondered driving myself to the doctor, thank goodness that I did not. Remember earlier when I said that all of the new construction might thwart time, and what would normally take the EMT’s 30 minutes to get to our home, only took 5 from the time that I spoke with them to them pounding on my door. They said that they were already in the area because of another call and were able to get to me right away. Coincidence? I think not. Thank You Lord for knowing that I was going to need them on that day and sooner than later. Not too long after the EMT’s arrived and shared that I needed to get to the hospital right away, my husband came on the scene and of course, he is the one that I wanted to take me to the doctor. In hindsight, I really did not think that the situation was as bad as it could have been or it actually was.

We arrived to the hospital and not even a minute later, I was bombarded by doctors and nurses that were flocking in from all over the place. Every speciality was there and they began to work up what seemed like a mountain of assessments. I was poked and prodded in every location and direction that they could get a hold of. I was then wheeled to Ophthalmology, the eye doctor, where my eyes were put through a slew of numbing dilations to see if there was any sign of hemorrhaging in my eye. To their surprise, everything appeared to be in tact and working normally. Test after test were run and a shadow fell over me and them as to what could be causing this abnormal loss of sight.

Just when I thought all of the testing was coming to and end, a slew of others would begin. The next machine that they rolled into my room, the one that I think really had me realize just how precious my life really is, admire the creation of God and see a piece of how He has intricately knitted me together, was the echogram machine. This magnificent machine was rather large in size and the work that it did could magnify something within us that is so small onto a screen so clearly. It was such an amazing machine, that it didn’t have any need or use of the measly little EKG lines that were placed upon my chest when I arrived at the hospital. This machine came with its own wiring and gadgets needed to go a little deeper than what the EKG could pick up on.

It was here when the technician began looking for any probable cause as to what might check me into a luxury stay at the local hospital. It was then that I saw it. Not only was it clear as day, it was right in front of me, shouting, here I am, look. No, I am not talking about what caused my vision loss or the aneurysm that I would later find out that I had. It was in this moment that I saw something so magnificent as the machine that was magnifying it. It was the radiance of God found in this one location that “for of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever…” rests (Romans 11:36). It is the place that daily pumps the blood of joy, sorrow, pain, love, and regret straight to a person that calls Jesus their Lord and Savior. It is the place where Jesus draws us near to Him and offers forgiveness of sins for a life that is undeserving and gives His life freely for the ransom of my sins.  It is the place that houses the Holy Spirit and according to Ephesians 3:16-19 is a place “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” It is a place where time can flow for the next 10 years or for only the next few seconds leaving the question, if it were to stop today, do you know if you would spend eternity with Him?

As I continued to lay on the hospital bed, watching the blood flow through each chamber, I was quickly reminded of just how precious life is and how short our numbered days are. I woke up that morning thinking it was a day like any other day and after being tossed into a reality check, I was quickly mistaken. Sometimes, God needs to get our attention, and most of the time, He does so in a still small voice. Other times, He needs to get us off of our feet and remind us that we can do nothing apart from Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End to everything, including this fragile life.  Have I done all that I can to share with my family and friends about God and His wonderful heart, that out of it flows love (oh, so much love), joy, peace, patience (oh so much patience), kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control that He sent His Son to die a death, a death that He did not deserve, and offered Him up freely for you and for me, “…that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)?

Father, I am so humbled by Your great Love that flows down from Heaven and into my life. Thank you for letting me physically see the love that went into creating me and the love that flows from a heart that was once broken in sin, but has a redemptive purpose to live in this life for as long as that is thanks to Your Son Jesus. I didn’t die that day in a hospital room and I am not sure what day You will call me home, but until then, until my heart stops pumping the blood through my entire body, I will continue to live and serve You my Lord and do it giving You all of the honor, glory and praise. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

 

November 2009

Love is found in many ways

Story of the day:  Love is found in many ways

In Rhythms of the Heart, Phil Hook writes:

My mother and I did not “mix.”  I chose a typical teenage solution to the problem–silence.

I would leave for school in the morning, come home to eat, then leave again.  When I was finally home late at night, I read books.

Invariable, my mother would come downstairs and ask me if I wanted a sandwich.  I grunted my assent.  She cooked egg ad bacon sandwiches for me night after night until I left home for good.

Years later, when our relationship was mended, she told me why she had made all those sandwiches.  “If you would ever talk to me, it was while I made that sandwich,” she said.

Hook writes, “I’ve learned love is found in a consistent display of interest, commitment, sacrifice, and attention.” [As abridged in The Christian Reader, May/June 1995, 34.]

Quote of the day:  Mother Teresa

“I have found the paradox that if I love until it hurts, then there is no more hurt, but only more love.”

Bible verse of the day:  1 Corinthians 13:7

“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for love, especially Your Love.  Father may I wake each day and live the days to their fullest, sharing love with all those around me.  May You rain down on me with Your love, Grace, and Mercy, that I in turn will spill over into this world with the same love, grace, and mercy that You have given to me.  May I make each day, each moment count in all that I do.  I love You and thank You for this blessed day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

September 2009

Are you Sodium, Chloride, or both?

Story of the day:  Are you Sodium, Chloride, or both?

Chemicals by themselves can be dangerous by themselves.  But when mixed with other chemicals, can be used for our common every day living.  Take Sodium for instance,

Sodium is an extremely active element found naturally only in combined form; it always links itself to another element.  Chlorine, on the other hand, is the poisonous gas that gives bleach its offensive odor.  When sodium and chlorine are combined, the result is sodium chloride–common table salt–the substance we use to preserve meat and bring out its flavor.

Love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine.  Love without truth is flighty, sometimes blind, willing to combine with various doctrines.  On the other hand, truth by itself can be offensive, sometimes even poisonous.  Spoken without love, it can turn people away from the gospel.

When truth and love are combined in an individual or a church, however, then we have what Jesus called, “the salt of the earth,” and we’re able to preserve and bring out the beauty of our faith. [Larson, Craig.  2007.  750 Engaging Illustration for preachers, teachers, and writers.  Baker Books Publishing. p.593.]

Quote of the day:  Martin Luther

“Peace, if possible, but the truth at any rate.”

Bible verse of the day:  Matthew 5:13a (NKJV)

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses flavor, how shall it be seasoned?”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray to always use Your truth and love that is dwelling deep within to be the salt of the earth, reaching those that don’t know You as their Lord and Saviour.  Father bless this day as I meet people who I don’t know and witness to those around me, through Your Grace, Love, and Mercy.  Provide me with Your Words of Wisdom that anything that comes from my mouth, honors and blesses Your Holy Name.  Today I pray for those that are needing rest, those that are needing to be lifted because of things that may be happening in their life, and I pray for lives to be saved, changed, and restored all for Your Glory!  I thank You for this blessed day. 

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

 

 

September 2009

You will meet many people

Story of the day:  You will meet many people

In Guideposts Joann C. 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 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 my 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.                                                          [Joann C. Jones, Guideposts; as seen in Reader’s Digest, August 1996, 147-148.]

Quote of the day:  Craig Larson
“We have not begun to show the love of Christ to others until we have treated them with respect.”

Bible verse of the day:  Philippians 2:3 (NIV)

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Today as I head out into my day, may I come across people who I may serve.  Humble my spirit Father that I may become more like You.  May my words be used to glorify Your name and to share You with the world.  I thank You for people and for their gifts that You have blessed them with.  I thank You for this blessed day!

In Jesus Name I  pray,

Amen

July 2009

God loves us now!

Story of the day:  God loves us now!

In his book Enjoying God, Lloyd Ogilvie writes:

My formative years ingrained the quid pro quo into my attitude toward myself:  do and you’ll receive; perform and you’ll be loved.  When I got good grades, achieved, and was a success, I felt acceptance from my parents.  My dad taught me to fish and hunt and worked hard to provide for us, but I rarely heard him say, “Lloyd, I love you.”  He tried to show it in actions, and sometimes I caught a twinkle of affirmation in his eyes.  But I still felt empty.

When I became a Christian, I immediately became so involved in discipleship activities that I did not experience the profound healing of the grace I talked about theoretically….

I’ll never forget as long as I live the first time I really experienced healing grace.  I was a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh.  Because of financial pressures I had to accordion my studies into a shorter than usual period.  Carrying a double load of classes was very demanding, and I was exhausted by the constant feeling of never quite measuring up.  No matter how good my grads were, I thought they could be better.  Sadly, I was not living the very truths I was studying.  Although I could have told you that the Greek words for grace and joy are charis and chara, I was not experiencing them.

My beloved professor, Dr. James Steward, that slightly built dynamo of a saint, saw into my soul with x-ray vision.  One day in the corridor of New College he stopped me.  He looked me in the eye intensely.  Then he smiled warmly, took my coat lapels in his hands, drew me down to a few inches from his face, and said, “Dear boy, you are loved now!”

Quote of the day:  Craig Larson

“God loves us now, not when we get better.  God loves us now, as we are.”

Bible verse of the day:  1 John 4:9

“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for loving me as I am.  It has been Your Love that has stirred my soul and opened my heart to a world that is in need.  Father, I pray for those that may feel as Lloyd does, loved only when they accomplish things.  I pray that they stop what they are doing right now and see how You love them just as they are and right now.  Father, may they feel Your unwavering Love fill their souls.  I ask that my heart continues to grow for people and that it is filled with the love that You continue to give each and every day.  Let me see others through the heart of Your eyes leading me compassionately and guiding me down Your Gracious path.  I thank You for this day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

July 2009

God’s Guidance + Our Obedience = Fruit of the Spirit

Story of the day:  God’s Guidance + Our Obedience = Fruit of the Spirit

Author Gary Thomas, founder for Evangelical Spirituality, writes in Discipleship Journal:

When my wife and I prayed extensively about buying a house, we gave God many opportunities to close the door.  God appeared to bless the move.  Five years later, our house is worth considerably less than what we paid for it.

“Why didn’t God stop us?” my wife and I kept wondering.  After all, we had given Him plenty of opportunities.  But one day as my wife was praying, she sensed God asking her, “Have you ever considered the possibility that I wanted you in that neighborhood to minister there rather than to bolster your financial equity?”

We thought of the people we have been able to reach, and then asked ourselves, are we willing to surrender to a God who would lead us to make a decision that turned out to be undesirable financially but profitable spiritually?  Does obedience obligate God to bless us, or can obedience call us to sacrifice?  Think about the cross before you answer that one.

Quote of the day:  Terry Fullam

“The fruit of the Spirit grows only in the garden of obedience.”

Bible verse of the day:  Romans 12:2

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Our time here in Dallas is winding down and as sad as I always seem to get at moving and missing the people that I have gotten to know, I get even more excited at what is to come in New Mexico.  These next few weeks of the move are a little challenging for writing, as we are not in one area that long.  I ask for Grace through this transition and I pray that we hear and watch for opportunities to witness, evangelize, and love others as You do.  I thank You for this blessed day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

April 2009

How do we love the unlovable?

Story of the day:  How do we love the unlovable?

     It is easy to love those we like.  As a matter of fact, it hardly takes any work at all to be kind to those that we have befriended.  But, how do we open our hearts and love the unlovable?  There is a story in the Bible about a wee little man named Zacchaeus.  He was a very rich tax collector who became very wealthy by overcharging the people in his town.  Needless to say. Zacchaeus wasn’t liked by many, in fact Herb Vander Lugt wrote in Loving the Unlovable, “Zacchaeus was easy to dislike.  Yet, to the dismay of the crowd, Jesus honored him by going to his house and eating with him.  Jesus saw Zacchaeus as a sinner with an empty hole that only He could fill, and through His kindness Zacchaeus was transformed.”  Jesus saw in Zacchaeus what He saw in each of us, sin that needed His Love, Grace, and Mercy. 

    I encourage you today, to ask God to see others through His eyes, love them the way that He loves you, for “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5 NIV)     

Quote of the day:  Author Unknown

“True compassion will put love into action.”

Bible verse of the day:  John 15:12 (NKJV)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray to have my heart and soul opened by Your Love.  Father, may I see others through Your eyes and always have a compassionate heart ready and willing to serve.    I thank You for this blessed day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen