Monday, May 31, 2010

Why Memorial Day Is Extra-Special

For the past four years, Memorial Day has become even more significant to me. You see, this past Friday, May 28th, marked the fourth anniversary of my dad's death. The passing of each year is sort of like a shock ~ I can't believe that he's really been gone that long ~ I still catch myself thinking "Wait 'til I tell Dad about..." then I remember he's not there.

I'm so thankful that my dad knew Christ as his Savior and has a home in Heaven! His death was a powerful testimony of redemption and God's mercy. You see, although my dad was a believer, he didn't always live like one. He allowed the circumstances of his past and present rule his life.

Dad said he loved the Lord ~ but he just didn't make a relationship with Him a priority in his life. He lived for himself and frequently said, "It's my life, and I'll do what I want." He seemed to forget that his life wasn't his own, that he had "...been bought with a price."

There were times I wondered if my dad was really saved until one day we talked. That day in the hospital, my dad said, "As a young man, I used to wonder how I'd face death when I was old. Would I be afraid? How would I feel? Now that I'm here, I can tell you that I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day." I saw the faith gleaming in his eyes along with his tears. That's when I knew that my dad was eternally secure. My daughter's heart was at peace.

During the next couple years, Dad's health had become increasingly precarious, and I always dreaded "the call". That call happened on Sunday morning, May 28, 2006. We were just about ready to walk out the door for church when the phone rang. My mom said, "Shelly, Daddy's aneurysm has ruptured. The ambulance is here and we're on our way to the hospital." Since we live four hours away, all I could do was wait. At 11:10 that morning, my daddy went home to be with the Lord.

How was God merciful? The aneurysm didn't "pop" like they usually do. When that happens, death is excruciating and can happen within minutes. God allowed it to have a pin-sized hole that leaked slowly. Because of this, Dad was able to live for an extra hour and a half almost pain-free.

During that time, he and my mom reminisced about when they met, got married and celebrated the birth of each child and grandchild. He told her he'd see her on the other side, and turned away. You see, God granted him the opportunity to make amends with my mother. Just the evening before, he read her the passage from Isaiah 43:18-19. It says, "Remember ye not the former things, neither consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?"

Then, in my dad's final moments on this earth, he sat straight up and reached his hands to his Redeemer. It was then that his soul was safely home. The Bible says "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord", so I believe will all my heart that the Good Shepherd Himself picked up His wayward lamb and carried him Home!

Like the song says it's "not because of what I've done, but because of Who You are." Jesus had already done all the work on the cross, and because my dad had accepted the gift of salvation, he belonged to Him and went to Heaven!

During the morning services at my church yesterday, our pastor had those who had loved ones that had served in the military and had passed away stand in their honor. I was privileged to stand for my dad, who served stateside during Vietnam. My dad was proud of his country and loved it immensely. Two of his brothers ~ my Uncle Richard, who served in WW2, and Uncle Lloyd, who had been killed in Korea ~ served in the military, so my dad understood what it meant to sacrifice for his country. Memorial Day was always special to him.

Now that I think of it, in a way it seems fitting that Daddy passed away on Memorial Day weekend. My memories of him will always be filled with laughter, love and what redemption really means.

God's Promise of Peace

Psalm 23:2b "He leadeth me beside the still waters."

Have you noticed that the most tranquil, peaceful places usually have the sound of water somehow?

When we lived in upstate NY, the Black River was less than a block from our house. The rushing water, plus the waterfall a little further downstream serenaded us each day. We absolutely loved it! I have a little water fountain next to my bed that I enjoy turning on and listening to when I feel stressed. That, along with my "happy candle" (Yankee's McIntosh Apple) makes mama a happy girl!

When you stop and think about it, something inside us needs that sound of water for serenity. Homeowners spend literally thousands of dollars to add water elements to their backyard landscapes such as ponds and waterfalls! Others have table top water fountains like mine, or enjoy music CDs that have water sounds, such as rain, an ocean, or a stream to help them relax so they can sleep.

Water is a place of rest. Once there, we can become "calm, inspired, energized and refocused on God's larger plans for us." This is where our Shepherd chooses to lead us ~ beside still waters.

What is it that makes us seek/crave peace? According to Mrs. George, busyness, responsibility, tension and noise are the four top reasons women crave peace. I mentioned last week that my mother/father-in-law kept the kiddos for a couple of days. Sisters, I needed that! As you know, I love my children with all my heart, but that previous week had been tough! Five continuous days of thunderstorms, rain, humidity and finalizing homeschool for the year had made us all ~ shall we say ~ a little testy!?

Well, as you may assume, that combination was getting to be a bit much! Frazzled but relieved all work was done by Friday, I called my wonderful mother-in-law and told her I needed a mental health day ~ could she help me out? She laughed with understanding ~ and was willing to let the grand kids come for a couple days' visit.

As I mentioned last week, I listened to the silence and enjoyed uninterrupted conversations with the hubs. I was able to mediate on Scripture, too, and enjoyed time alone with the Lord. Not only did my physical body need the peace, but my spiritual self craved it as well.

Mrs. George writes, "We can... testify that our souls become dry on a steady diet of stress. We quickly become depleted and weary. We stagger, we stumble, we crumble, and we make errors in judgment...all because we need a time beside the still waters." She continues,

"He ~ the Shepherd, knows all about our need for peace and provides it.
Leads ~ to where peace is plentiful and makes sure we attain it.
Still waters ~ restful waters of comfort...a peaceful place beside a quiet, tranquil stream."

In the first part of Psalm 23:1, we met Jehovah~Rohi ~ the Shepherd Who leads, feeds and lovingly warns us. "The Lord is my shepherd..." In continuation, we met Jehovah~Jireh, the providing Shepherd. "...I shall not want." Now, in verse 2, we meet Jehovah~Shalom, the God of Peace ~ "the God who brings peace."

Jehovah~Shalom is first mentioned in the book of Judges with the story of Gideon. At that time, God's chosen people, the Israelites, were stuck in a vicious cycle. To understand the significance of this, we need to back up a bit.

Rewind to the book of Joshua. After 40 years of wandering through the desert, God kept His word to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses and brought the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Once the land was divided by tribe, Joshua called all the people together. He told them that God wanted only three things from them: to drive their enemies (the Amorites, Moabites, Perizzites, Canaanits, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites and Jebusites) from their land, and to "Fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord." This is also where Joshua said, "...Choose you this day whom ye will serve... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

However, Judges 1:28 says, "...when Israel was strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out." Verses 21-27 and 29-33 repeat the same phrase "Neither did (Benjamin, Manasseh, Ephriam, Zebulun, Asher, Naphtali) drive out the Jebusites/Canaanites... but the Jebusites/Canaanites dwelt... among them." By chapter 2:11-13, "...The children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim: and they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth."

Thus, the children of Israel began the vicious cycle of:
a. sin
b. suffering (serving a foreign king)
c. crying out to God
d. deliverance
e. rest/peace ~ only to begin the cycle all over again.

This leads us to Gideon, the sixth judge God appointed to lead and deliver His people. We meet Gideon in Judges chapter 6. He is hiding in his winepress, secretly threshing wheat. At this time, the Midianites had taken control over Israel and were destroying crops (vs. 4-6). Gideon had managed to secret some grain and was threshing it so he could feed his family. Suddenly, and the Angel of the Lord (again, the pre~incarnate Christ!) appeared to Gideon. He promised deliverance to God's people and told Gideon he was going to lead them (vs. 12-16).

Gideon was afraid. He resisted. He was a nobody ~ his family was poor, and he was "the least in my father's house." He asked for a sign (the fleece) to "strengthen the weakness of his own faith and to give evidence that would convince the people that he was really God's instrument." (Scofield Study Bible).

However, the Angel ~ the Shepherd, comforted him in verse 23. "Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die." Then Gideon worshiped. He built an altar there and named it Jehovah~Shalom, meaning "The Altar of Peace with Jehovah" (vs. 24).

Here was Gideon, fearful and cowering in a hole, when the Angel of the Lord appeared with:

a. A proclamation ~ "You will save Israel from the Midianites."
b. A promise ~ "I will be with you and you will defeat them."
c. Peace ~ "Peace be with you; do not fear."
d. Power ~ "The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!"

Now he is Gideon the warrior, the fearless leader of God's people! As you may know, Gideon soundly defeated the Midianite army with 300 men bearing only trumpets, torches and pitchers! At Gideon's signal, the 300 men blew their trumpets, broke the pitchers, and held up their torches. Upon waking to the blaring trumpets and lights blazing and hearing the cry "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon!" the Lord caused the Midianites to "set their sword against his fellow, even throughout all the host."

Upon Gideon's victory, Israel wanted to make him king and rule over them. However, Gideon had seen the true King face to face (Judges 6: 22) and refused to rule over them, saying, "I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you" (Judges 8:23). Israel had 40 years of peace under Gideon's humble leadership.

We've met Gideon the judge and Gideon the warrior. Now, let's meet the One Gideon was privileged to meet. Jehovah~Shalom, the Prince of Peace.

Mrs. George writes, "Before we finish verse two and our visit to the still waters, we need to behold the Prince of Peace. To enjoy peace and harmony with God means to enjoy the harmony of a relationship with God. And it is Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), who makes a relationship with God possible. Peace with God includes...
a. Harmony ~ to be in harmony with God due to the payment of a debt.
b. A peace offering ~ restored fellowship between God and man, accomplished only by shed blood (Leviticus 3)."

Jesus' death on the cross did just that, sisters. He paid the debt He did not owe, and He shed His precious blood as a peace offering.

One of my favorite songs is called "In Christ Alone". If you have the time, please listen to the first song on my playlist. It sums up this last point beautifully!

"In Christ alone, my hope is found. He is my Light, my Strength, my Song.
This Cornerstone, this solid ground, firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace when fears are stilled, when strivings cease.
My Comforter, my All in All, here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh, fullness of God in helpless Babe.
This gift of love and righteousness, scorned by the ones He came to save.
'Til on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.
For every sin on Him was laid, here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay, Light of the World by darkness slain.
Then bursting forth in glorious day, up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory, sin's curse has lost its grip on me!
For I am His, and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ!

No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me.
From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny!
No power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from His hand.
'Til He returns or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I'll stand."

Doesn't that just make you want to shout? Praise be to Jesus ~ Suffering Savior, Precious Redeemer ~ King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

This & That...

I know I haven't posted until now, but I've been enjoying the past two days of silence! My kiddos have spent these last 2 days with their Nana and Papa, and I've been listening to the quiet! The hubs and I have spent the last 2 evenings enjoying uninterrupted conversation and just being together. It reminded me that we need to continue to make time for one another, even when the kids are here.

I've missed my kiddos, though ~ even their occasional fussing and endless questions!

Tomorrow, we'll continue our study on Psalm 23.

Delectable Pink Lemonade Pie

My mom made this several times every summer! It's extremely rich, so cut those slices on the small side!

1 large graham cracker pie crust
1 can frozen pink lemonade
1 can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 small container of Cool Whip, thawed

Set out the pink lemonade so that it is slushy in consistency. Combine Eagle Brand and Cool Whip in a mixing bowl, fold in lemonade. Pour into graham cracker pie crust. Place in freezer for 30-45 minutes. Serve cold.
This dessert is wonderful on a hot summer evening!

Friday, May 21, 2010

God's Promise of Rest

Psalm 23:2a "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures."

Lying in a soft, cozy bed. Relaxing in your favorite chair with a book and cup of tea. Reclining in an outside chaise with a glass of iced tea. All picture rest, relaxation and comfort.

Rest. Our bodies need it, and our souls crave it. This verse tells us that God not only promises His sheep rest, but that "He makes us lie down." What exactly does God have in mind?

1. The Place of Rest:
Notice the place our loving Shepherd guides us to. A place of green pastures. What exactly is in these pastures?
a. Food: It's abundant and available. "Green pastures" is a picture of abundance and luxury. Mrs. George writes, "A good shepherd carefully picks out a place of pastureland that's filled to overflowing with fresh, new, tender grass. His heart is set on finding a place containing plenty of delicate green grass that will provide nourishment, health, and fresh energy for His sheep."
b. Rest: "This scene is one of satisfaction and rest, calm and contentment, sheer enjoyment." Imagine the coolness of the grass on a hot day in that arid region! After their long trek, the weary sheep could settle down and be content and at rest ~ all lovingly provided by their Shepherd!

In the section "Reflecting of God's Promises", Mrs. George reminds us that by having a daily quiet time, we can "partake of green pastures". She writes, "We have all of the Shepherd and all of His Word available to us... if we will simply lie down in His green pastures and partake! All we need to do is stop everything and enjoy a time of resting and lingering with the Lord as we feed on His Word."

When we enter into the serenity of God's green pasture, we "experience the same sense of rejuvenation, the same revival of spirit, the same deep satisfaction that literal sheep enjoy when resting in the presence of a faithful shepherd.

Our time with the Shepherd is necessary, it should be regularly, and we should want to increase our time with Him. Mrs. George uses an analogy that I like when describing how we feel about our time in God's Word. First is the cod~liver oil stage. This is when you take it like medicine to cure whatever may ail you. The second is the shredded wheat stage. You find it to be nourishing but dry. The last stage is the peaches and cream stage. You can't get enough, because you're consumed with passion and pleasure!

2. The Plan for Rest:
The kind of rest God has planned for us in this verse isn't just a quick break to catch our breath. No, our loving Shepherd wants us to stretch out completely and be fully reclined to enjoy total relaxation! It may surprise you to read that some sheep will not lie down. Why, you may ask?
a. Fear: Mrs. George writes of a flock of sheep that refused to lie down because of a large dog that was on the other side of the stream. Even though the shepherd frightened the dog away, the sheep were still fearful. Not until he walked ahead of them to the brook did they relax and settle down.

We are told several times in God's Word not to fear. Read Isaiah 41:10, Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6 and Exodus 33:14 and take comfort!

b. Hunger: A sheep will not lie down and receive rest if it is hungry. It is frantic as it wanders around searching for food. "Thus, the discontented sheep adds lack of rest to its problem of lack of food, loses its vigor and vitality, and fails to thrive." However, our Jehovah~Jireh makes sure our food is always available. We just have to decide to feed upon it!

"So many Christians attempt to satisfy their hunger... from an occasional few minutes' "feeding" from the pulpit, from a radio broadcast, or from a television message, while others seek to satisfy their needs from the odd old devotional book, or the occasional Christian programme. This is not enough... to sustain the needy soul on a daily basis.... God provides for us on a daily basis, but we must plan to partake of His provision on a daily basis."

c. Fighting: "A sheep that's involved in or even witnessing fighting also cannot lie down and receive the rest it needs. Battles between members of a flock rob all the sheep of the rest they need because of the tension that exists. Interesting, isn't it?

"Many Christians are weary and worn, not because of intense conflict with the evil one, but because of arguments among themselves. It's frightening to realize the harm done to others when we argue and fight in our homes and in our churches."

3. The Procedure for Rest:
Our Shepherd makes us lie down, even when we may not want to! He does this because He alone knows our future. Only He can know what's around the next bend, the next hill, or on the other side of the green pastures. "Will it be a long, steep climb? Will the path narrow as it leads us around a dangerous mountain? Will the trail take us into the valley of the shadow of death? Are we headed into a desert or a roaring storm?" Only the Shepherd knows.

That's why He makes us lie down! He does this to fortify and energize us so we'll be able to walk through what's ahead. He "makes certain that we won't tire, that we're not at risk because of weariness, that we're invigorated from our pasture~time for any strenuous climb."

Mrs. George writes "As I reflected on God's procedure of making us lie down in His green pastures, I thought of a number of ways that He accomplishes our rest. Illness, surgery, and convalescence afford us time with the Shepherd. So do pregnancy and childbirth. And exhaustion, too, will certainly place us in the grassy pastures of the Lord. Still another category of time in God's pasture involves just plain ol' being passed over, overlooked for service and ministry."

While we wait on the Lord in His green pastures, we have:
Opportunity to learn and trust the Lord.
Growth in patience.
Encouragement and fellowship by/with the Shepherd.
Time to energize for the walk ahead.

"He makes me lie down in green pastures ~ where He creates a resting~place for me to repose in, and there He shall feed me until I am satisfied."

"In shady green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along.
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some through the water, some through the flood.
Some through the fire, but all through the blood.
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song
In the night season, and all the day long."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

God's Promise of Provision

Psalm 23:1b "I shall not want."

Yesterday we learned about Jehovah~Rohi, our Shepherd Who feeds, leads and warns us. Today's description of our Shepherd goes hand in hand with Jehovah~Rohi. He is Jehovah~Jireh, our Provider.

Mrs. George writes, "Most of the compound names of God spring from a specific historic incident." We first meet Jehovah~Jireh in the 22nd chapter of Genesis. If you went to Sunday school, I'm sure you remember the story of Abraham and Isaac. (Usually told with flannel graph!) It is in this chapter that we see God provide supernaturally for his faithful servant.

1. Abraham's command ~ came out of heaven from God Himself. "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering." (vs. 1-2)

2. Abraham's response ~ was immediate obedience! "So Abraham rose early in the morning... and took... Isaac his son... and went to the place of which God had told him." (vs. 3) Mrs. George revealed that it was a 60~mile trek.

3. Abraham's son ~ Isaac had a question: As they walked along with the wood, the fire, and the knife to slay the sacrifice, he asked, "...where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" (vs. 7)

4. Abraham's answer ~ revealed his trust in the Lord. "My son, God will provide [Jehovah~Jireh] Himself a lamb for a burnt offering." (vs. 8)

How did Jehovah~Jireh provide? You know the story ~ Abraham bound his only son with rope and laid him on the altar. Just as he was about to plunge the knife into his son's heart, the angel of the Lord (Who, by the way, scholars believe to be the pre~incarnate Jesus Christ Himself) "called unto him out of heaven, and said Abraham...lay not not thine hand upon the lad, neither do any thing unto him...." When Abraham looked up, there was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns, and Abraham "...offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah~Jireh...(The Lord Will Provide)" (vs. 9-14).

I want to think on this for a moment. This story goes so much deeper than God simply providing a substitute sacrifice for Isaac. In fact, it goes even farther than Abraham's faith or Isaac's willingness.

Did you catch that phrase in verse 8? The KJV states, "God will provide Himself a lamb...." Please don't miss the significance of this statement. Most versions translate this as "God Himself will provide a lamb", (a sacrifice for that particular moment in time) but this downplays the deeper meaning of this verse.

Sisters, a thousand years later, God did indeed provide Himself a Lamb ~ through his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ ~ The Lamb of God, Who taketh away the sins of the world! Not only did Abraham and Isaac meet Jehovah~Jireh, we can meet Him, too!

So, how do we know that God will provide? Mrs. George asks. "We have the promise of God (which requires it), but we also have the very nature of the Person of God (which demands it). He is all~knowing. He is all~wise. He is all~powerful. With God, to see is also to provide." I like how she further explains Jehovah~Jireh:

"In His omniscience (His complete knowledge),
God knows/sees our need.
In His power, He can provide, and
In His goodness,
He must provide
for what His knowledge and wisdom reveal
to be the true needs of His people."

Man's basic needs are: food, clothing and shelter. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus told the multitude not to worry about what to eat or drink or wear because God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the fields. He encourages and reminds them that if God cares about feeding a bird or clothing the grasses of the field that will be burnt up tomorrow, how much more will He provide for His people!

Let's not forget how Jehovah~Jireh provided for the children of Israel during the Exodus. They had guidance, food literally from Heaven, shade by day, light by night, and clothes that didn't wear out ~ for 40 years!

Mrs. George closes this chapter with a quote from Dr. Harry Ironside, a former pastor of Moody Memorial Church. He writes of God's promises:

"I shall not want...
rest, for He maketh me to lie down.
refreshment, for He leadeth me beside the still waters.
restoration, for He restoreth my soul.
guidance, for He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness.
confidence, for I will fear no evil.
companionship, for Thou art with me.
comfort, for Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
provision, for Thou preparest a table.
joy, for my cup runneth over.
anything in this life, for goodness and mercy
shall follow me all the days of my life.
anything in eternity, for I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

Just as God saw to a substitute sacrifice to save the life of the son of his faithful servant, He will not only see our need, but see to it! Let's remember that when we see His provision, we should see to it that He is greatly praised!

"Come let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker.
Come let us worship and bow down.
Let us kneel before the Lord our God, our Maker.
For He is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture.
And the sheep of His hand,
Just the sheep of His hand."

My Favorite Fiction

I just finished reading (again!) one of my favorite books of all time! If you want to read a book that will transport you back in time, convict you spiritually, and challenge the way you live your Christian life, you have to read Francine Rivers' book "A Voice in the Wind". It's the first book in her trilogy Mark of the Lion.

Taking place in 70 AD, the story begins with Hadassah, a young Messianic Jew who happens to be visiting Jerusalem with her family when it was overthrown by Rome. Enduring heart-wrenching situations, she becomes a slave to a Roman family.

This wealthy family, the Valerians, "have it all", yet are completely unfullfilled. We learn of the struggles of the parents, Decimus and Phoebe, as well as the willfull decadence of their children, Marcus and Julia. Hadassah becomes instrumental in each of their lives in a very special way.

At the same time, we meet Atretes, a mighty German warrior. During a battle with the Romans, he is taken captive and is sold to become a gladiator.

Francine Rivers weaves the storyline with amazing skill and you're caught up in the story from the first sentence. This has to be THE best book I've EVER read, and I read every day.

The other books in the trilogy are "Echo in the Darkness" (which concludes "A Voice in the Wind") and "As Sure as the Dawn" (which continues the story of Atretes).

Each book is at least 500 pages, but SO worth your time! If you enjoy a good read, The Mark of the Lion trilogy is for you!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

God's Promise of Care

Psalm 23:1a "The LORD is my shepherd."

Mrs. George begins this chapter with, "No words ever written have carried the weight or the comfort that these five do ~ The LORD is my shepherd." Saints young and old have the sweet assurance of God's promise that He will be our Shepherd. Jesus said in John 10:14 that "I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known of mine." Every person from every walk and season of life need the loving care of their Shepherd.

Have you ever wondered how the thought of God as a shepherd originated? Mrs. George writes that "in Hebrew, the five English words ~ the Lord is my shepherd ~ come from two words, Jehovah~Rohi.

So what exactly does Jehovah~Rohi do? One major meaning of the word is "to feed". Sisters, we have God's promise to feed us! We need both physical and spiritual food, and can enjoy both from the very hand of our Shepherd! I think I may have shared in an earlier post about a time when we had absolutely no food in our home. Our oldest was only 6 months old, and we didn't have the money to buy her anything, either. Our only option was to buy groceries with our credit card. We prayed as we gave her the last jar of food.

That very evening after church, a couple approached us and said they had something they wanted to give us. To our amazement, they opened their trunk and began to pull out bags of groceries! The trunk was completely full, and all we could do was cry our thanks. When we got home with our bounty and began to unload the groceries, there were 2 bags full of baby food ~ down the actual brand AND flavor that I bought my little one! Oh, sisters, only a loving Shepherd would put us on the hearts of that couple! Tender to God's leading, they blessed us other times by shaking my husband's hand and placing a $100 bill in it. Every time that happened, we were in need of food or paying a bill. How thankful and awed I STILL am to this day how God fed us those difficult months!

In this book, Mrs. George shares several facts about real~life shepherds. She writes, "a good shepherd ~ when there are no pastures, he [himself] gathers the food needed for his flock by using his crook to pull down leaves and berries from the trees. Then he feeds his sheep directly and intimately right out of his own hand!" She concludes this thought with "why should we worry about food and clothing? About finances and money? About security and the needs of life? We have Jehovah~Rohi! We have the Lord as our caring shepherd!"

Not only does Jehovah~Rohi feed us, but He leads us. He is in the leadership role of a prince with his people (2 Samuel 5:2, Isaiah44:28, and Jeremiah 3:15). I think of my husband's role as leader in our home. Things can be falling apart, but when he says that everything will be all right, I'm comforted. I may not know or be involved in all the details it will take, but I'm comforted because my husband says it will be okay. That's the same with Jehovah~Rohi. He's our leader, so we don't need the details. We only need to follow.

So, what kind of follower/sheep am I? Mrs. George writes of 3 types of sheep.

The first is restless and discontent sheep. These sheep jump into other fields, climb into bushes and thorns; they sometimes fall and break their legs. "These nervous and dissatisfied sheep cause the Good Shepherd endless trouble."

The second is worldling sheep. Worldling sheep are intent on pursing their own pleasures and selfish interests ~ none of which have to do with the Shepherd! They "run from bush to bush, searching for variety and sampling every kind of food." They lift their heads every once in a while to see where the Shepherd is, just so they don't wander too far away. These sheep choose to nibble on what is meaningless and even harmful.

The third is the devoted sheep. As Jesus said in John 10, each sheep has a name. The devoted followers answer joyfully whenever the Shepherd calls. "By prolonged and continued fellowship, the sheep who follow nearby enjoy the Shepherd's presence and become His familiar companions. To those closet to Him, He shares the choicest portions of food which He's gathered."

Lastly, rohi also means to warn. Our Shepherd warns us not to consume, partake of, or be involved in activities that don't exalt God (Proverbs 15:14, Isaiah 44:20, and Ezekiel 34:16).

"By penning these two Hebrew words ~ Jehovah~Rohi, David's imagery lifts our thoughts to the highest and tenderest aspect of God's nature. No other name of God carries with it the intimacy and tender friendship of Jehovah~Rohi. Yes, you and I are cared for and cherished ~ so much that God promises to lead us and feed us. Think of it! To be the friend of God!"

I'll close today's post with the words to a favorite old song of mine, entitled "Gentle Shepherd".

Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us,
For we need You to help us find our way.
Gentle Shepherd, come and feed us,
For we need Your strength from day to day.
There's no other we can turn to.
Who can help us face another day?
Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us,
For we need You to help us find our way.

Awesome Mexican Seven-Layer Dip


1 8-oz. block cream cheese, brought to room temperature
1 package McCormick's taco mix
Dean's avacado dip (or prepared guacamole)
Jar of favorite salsa
1 package lettuce shreds
1 package shredded Mexican-style cheese
4 green onions, minced
1 can sliced black olives
Tortilla chips


Blend cream cheese and 1/2 package of taco mix together. Spread along the bottom of serving dish. Layer avacodo dip and salsa. Top with lettuce, cheese, green onions and black olives. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

God's Promises for You

Other than John 3:16, the 23rd Psalm is probably the most known passage in the Bible. I believe it's the standard Scripture used at most funerals because it offers peace at the most difficult time of life.

As we begin this walk with our Shepherd, let me echo Mrs. George's first reflection. Where does life find you today? What season of life are you in?

~ Spring ~
"Are you in the early beginnings of life?
Are you tasting the joy of fresh starts
and taking your first steps as a Christian?"
~ Summer ~
"Or have you progressed along the way with the Lord to the place of wisdom,
of a blossoming knowledge of the One you walk with?"
~ Fall ~
"Or is yours a fast-paced, terrific season
of tremendous fruit-bearing, of harvest,
of reaping profusely from the benefits
that come from a close, sustained walk with God over time?"
~ Winter~
"Or are you experiencing endings
that for the first time seem to have no new beginnings?
Are you being pressed to adjust to a new path
that leads in directions you did not anticipate or choose?
Are you approaching the next bend in the path with some measure of fear?"
Sisters, isn't it comforting to know that whatever season we're in, we're blessed because "we have the Lord ~ and his promises ~ as a shepherd for all seasons!"
As you know, David is the main author of the Psalms. It's interesting to note that in his life, he experienced these seasons:
Refreshing seasons of youth and maturity
A season of rejection ~ He was expelled from his home and throne.
A season of fear ~ He had to flee from Saul's murderous intentions.
A season of discouragement ~ He had been anointed as King, yet was considered a fugitive.
A season of disappointment ~ God wouldn't allow him to build the temple.
A season of heartbreak ~ He suffered the death of his infant son and witnessed strife, division and death among his children.
Mrs. George writes, "What's true in music is also true of David: On any stringed instrument, it's the strings that are strung the tightest that emit the sweetest music and play the sweetest songs. Yes, only someone who had experienced life and its hardships could have written the Twenty-third Psalm."
David was a man of great faith. He is an ancestor of Jesus Christ, and beloved of God. In fact, God describes David as "a man after My own heart, who will do all My will." (Acts 13:22) David is also listed in Hebrews 11's "Hall of Faith".
David was also a man of great failure. We all know that he not only committed adultery with Bathsheba, but also arranged for the murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11). He also directly disobeyed God by taking a census of the people (2 Samuel 24).
What is so encouraging to me is that no matter how bad David messed up, God never gave up on him ~ never wrote him off. Why is that? Here are lessons we can learn from God's beloved.
1. David admitted his failures. Once the prophet Nathan confronted David of his sin, David confessed it. He said, "I have sinned against the Lord." Psalm 51 is a beautiful prayer of his confession and desire to be forgiven to restore his relationship with God. After he confessed his sin, the joy of his salvation was restored and his sins were washed whiter than snow!
2. David suffered sin's consequences. Although God forgave David, he had to pay a price for his disobedience. His baby died, his son betrayed him and his family was divided. Although you can remove nails from a board, the nail holes ~ the scars still remain.
3. David went on. After the death of his child, "David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into to house of the Lord and worshiped... and he ate" (2 Samuel 12:20). It's interesting to see that David harbored no bitterness towards God, either. He accepted the responsibility for his wrong doings. (Read Psalm 51:3-4) He owned his sin and considered the Lord to be "gracious.. and righteous; yes... [and] merciful" (Psalm 116:5).
David shows us a pattern for our spiritual growth. Our role as a Christian is rise up and go on. God's role is to sustain us along the way... and He promises to do just that!
Sister, let's lift up our praise to God, rise up, and go on our journey with the Lord. Let's "taste and see that the Lord is good" as we see 12 of His precious promises in this brief psalm of encouragement and refreshment.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Busy, busy, busy!

Isn't it typical to hear the above excuse? I'm so busy! It's been busy around here! I've had a busy day! Not now, I'm busy! Can't you see that I'm busy?

If you're anything like me, you use at least one of the above phrases at least once a day. It's been almost a month since I've posted anything, and yet so much has happened in my life!

One of the best/funnest is that I've reconnected with an amazing, wonderful friend from my college years, and we're collaborating on a special project. Another cool thing was that the Lord gave me a song to write for Mother's Day. Have you ever noticed that there aren't very many Mother's Day songs? Also, there aren't many songs written about being a mother! When our music minister asked me to sing, I kinda drew a blank . I love Steve Green's "Find Us Faithful" and Patch the Pirate's "Cherish the Moment". I first considered the latter, and have my 2 oldest sing with me.

However, the thought of singing "Think ahead to a time when you're little boy's a man, and you'd give anything to hold him again" with my precious 8 year old next to me made me sob, so I knew there was no way I could do it for real! As I prayed and thought, God gave me an idea for a song. Amazingly, the words and tune just flowed from me! It went really well ~ so well that I'm prayerfully considering trying to get my song published. Please pray with me about this, sisters.

The kiddos and I are wrapping up our homeschool year next week, but I still have the work ahead of final grading, paperwork, cleaning, and planning/ordering for next fall. This year, I'm adding my youngest for formal preschool! She's SO ready!

As I state in the "about me" section, I want this blog to edify my sisters in Christ. I desire to stay true to the Word and be an encouragement to other women. That being said, I'm going to begin another Elizabeth George study this week. (I know it seems that I'm sort of dropping the Ministry of Motherhood study, but I feel led to do this new study for now. We can resume Mrs. Clarkson's study at a later date.)

Elizabeth George's book, "Powerful Promises for Every Woman" is an in-depth study of the 23rd Psalm. It's challenging, comforting, and inspiring, all in one! Please join me as we begin tomorrow. Until then, my sisters!