Wednesday, February 27, 2013


One Sunday-morning program that I love to catch while having coffee is Day of Discovery, which is presented by Radio Bible Class/RBC Ministries which came into being in 1938 and is well known around the world.

Last month, they told the story of a family changed forever by a tragic event which we feel compelled to call an accident.  It is an amazing story about survival of the Spirit in tremendous agony of loss.  Many of these stories are played out in life every single day so we often overlook them, or feel bad for a few minutes and then go on with our own lives.  This story is told by the family, through the words written in the journal of Lygon, the daughter who perished that day.  Her thoughts alone are worth our full attention.

But this story is sticking with me because it struck a serious chord about trusting God, and how to make our way through this life while looking forward to the next.

Mountain climbers practically from birth, Lygon and Nicholas, her brother, had gone to do a winter break climb.  They were both very, very experienced climbers and they both loved the challenge and the “drawing nearer to God” that they did on their climbs.  On their way up the mountain this time, they paused a moment to look around and then they heard the most fearful sound that can be heard on a mountain:  A huge WHUMP!  It was the sound of a field of snow breaking away into a slide down the mountain. They had no time to even gather their thoughts. She called his name just as he was beginning to slide.  He used his skills to stay on top of the snow, but ended up tumbling over and over as the snow took him to the bottom.  His body was broken in several places, but he pulled himself out of the snow and headed back up to look for his sister.  The terrain was spotless.  There was no sign of her.  Finally he realized he must save himself.  It was pure agony for him to leave her there.

The story of that effort is amazing.  He was rescued the next day and the search was on for his sister.  They did not recover her body until spring.

Meanwhile, the family had to deal with their grief and pain and doubts that came from simply not understanding.  Nicholas went specifically to the book of Job. (That is one of my favorite books in the whole Bible, so this caught my interest and I listened closely.)  In his pain he kept asking God, “Why?”  Sound familiar?  It should.  We all do it.  But as he thought about Job and questioned God over and over, God nudged him into realizing that he was asking the wrong question.  What God put in Nicholas’ mind was that he would get an answer to his question if he changed his question from “Why?” to “Who?”

God suggested that he take another look at Job, because God DID answer Job, even though many do not recognize that when they read the story.  God did not bother with an answer to "Why?" because He does not need to explain to us the Why’s of life.  Our answers are in the “Who?” 

And that brings me to why I love the book of Job:  In chapter 38, Job and
God get on the same page and Job repents of his doubts and God reminds him of Who his God really is. It sends a chill up my back every time I read it.

Chapters 38-40 are tremendously exciting.  If you have not read them lately, go back and do it.  God always was, God is, and God always will be ALL THINGS… the I AM.  And, here, in these verses, He spends a lot of time and words making that very clear.

May we all remember the Who? when we start to ask the Why?.  May we practice asking the right question and remembering the eternal truth of the never changing answer to that question. Our God is the most awesome, wonderful Creator, Sustainer, Savior, Shepherd, Leader and Guide that could ever be.  And He loves us and wants us to love Him too.  We are truly blessed beyond reason. 

May we remember that He is perfect in all things, even in the worst events that happen to us.  What ever is loss will be gain in the end and nothing that happens to us or those we love is ever an accident.  God is always on top of things making sure that these things work together for good for those who love Him.  Amen.

This is a story to see and hear in the quiet of your home and it is well worth watching as God heals and uses this family after this tragic loss: 

Monday, February 25, 2013


I had a conversation recently that referred to Jesus being the only way to salvation and the only way of salvation, and that resulted in many voicing objection to this because, “God is a loving God and He would never let those who have not heard go to hell just because they have not heard.”

Then on Sunday we heard a marvelous message by Pastor Joe Castaneda from Revelation 9, which brought out the beauty of realizing that we need to know what we are saved from!”  We relish in the fact that we are saved in Love through Jesus Christ our Lord, but we often have no answer for those who ask, “What are you talking about.  What are you saved from?”

The Bible teaches that Christ IS the only way to breach the vast abyss between us, as sinners and God, as Holy.  Too many of us simply will not and do not want to face the fact that our God is Wrath as well as Love. We avoid reading the Old Testament because the pictures of His wrath there are too difficult to see and read.  Jesus was Love and He showed kindness and empathy beyond our comprehension. He told us that He and His Father are one and if we have seen Him we have seen the Father.  We would rather stay in the New Testament where everything is about Love, not anger.  And yet, the very death of Christ was about Wrath and Christ Himself felt the Wrath of God the Father in His death.  The Spirit left Him, His Father and all the angels turned their backs on Him.  The pain of that was worse than any other pain ever experienced.  And, yet, it was necessary in order to satisfy the Wrath of God and open the door for His Love to be freely accessed by all who turned to Him through Jesus.

One argument that could be made for the salvation of those who have not heard might be that Jesus is talking to those who have heard.  If you find that you need the comfort of a possible way out for those who do not hear then I will not argue with you for one moment about that.  As our church studies Revelation, it is becoming clearer to us that God is not finished with offering opportunity to turn to Him.  As in the Old Testament, this New Testament (New Covenant) book deals with the subject much the same way as the Old Covenant books did:  Turn from your wicked ways and follow me and we can work this out.  It is true that God does not want any person of His creation to suffer the consequences of their sins.  But it is also true that everyone deserves (justly) to suffer those consequences.  Thus, His plan to save us from them.  We all must make a choice to seek Him and believe in Him and accept Him as the one true God.  It is up to us to follow God’s directions for getting the Word out there and it is for God to decide who hears and understands and turns to Him.  Right now there are so many amazing “around the world” ministries going on in nearly every language of the world, that we can hardly comprehend it.  We are to go out, send out and be out shining His light for all to see, but the end result of it all is securely in God’s hand. However, never forget what Jesus lived and taught:  I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No Man comes to the Father, but by me.

However, we also need to realize the full impact of our salvation and that includes realizing what we are saved from. Joe’s sermon this last Sunday on Revelation 9, pretty much sums it up:  We must understand the Wrath of God as well as understanding the Love of God.  We must understand what God can and will do if we hear, but ignore what we hear; and if we try to follow but keep turning back to our flesh and our idols. 

The first five books of the Bible make this very clear.  When God said and the people did, they were blessed.  When God said and the people did not, the people suffered the justice of God which came from His Wrath.  But all the books of the Bible also make that clear because they all proclaim that God Is and God Rules and we are to have no other gods before Him. And He gets really angry when we do that, whether it is man made idols or man desired things of this world.  He hates that.  He said so in the very first Commandment.  And Jesus clarifies this for us in Matthew and other books of the New Testament.  God will not stand for two things:  He will not stand for ignoring Him, nor will He stand for those who say they are His while putting other “things” before Him.

The thing is that if you know Him and turn your love and obedience to something else, He will warn you and remind you that you need to return to Him and if you do, you will be forgiven and helped along on the right path.  However, if you do not know Him, but know about Him, or have even just heard of Him, and you do not turn to Him, you will suffer His Wrath.  He will not forgive you after you die.  It is now that must you turn to Him, while He is calling you.

Actually, time if of the essence with God and our time is limited.  If you already know Him you are His forever.  If you do not know Him and refuse to accept His invitation to salvation He will proceed to give you your just reward:  Eternal separation from Him, with no new chances to please Him.

Now, I know I am basically preaching to the choir here, but I want to emphasize the stark reality of what we are saved from: Eternal damnation in Hell, the full force of God’s Wrath.  (And remember that if you are His you are covered eternally from His wrath.)  God is Wrath and God is Just and He will bring wrath on those who refuse Him.  We are saved from that.  And the people we know and love, and the strangers we come into contact with need to know which end is up and we need to tell them and show them and NOT let them shame us into changing our beliefs to suit their sensitivities about anger and wrath. 

We must know what we believe and, as Paul often says, “stand firm” against all who would teach otherwise.  So, may we carry our Cross daily and share it with others along the way.  May our testimonies of what we have been saved from carry a lot of weight in the Name of God. Amen

Another page on this subject: How Can A Loving God Be So Hateful?
Take a few minutes to read this, too, if you can.  It is spot on.

Monday, February 11, 2013


When discussing spiritual things, walking in darkness is usually a very bad idea.  Darkness generally refers to being without the Light, Jesus. This is truly a bad thing.

But darkness was not abolished at the time of creation; it was divided by the inclusion of light.

There is good side of darkness….

Imagine with me, if you will, how much we would not know if there was no darkness:  We would not understand the blessing of the sun and all that it accomplishes.  We might not realize the need for rest that is provided by the night.  But, most of all, we would be missing out on the awareness of God that we get through seeing the stars in the sky at night.  The stars, the moon and the planets are amazing to see, but if we did not have night, would we even know they are there?  Would they be able to declare to us the Glory of God and His handiwork?  The night sky is something absolutely amazing, and many people are barely aware of it.  Man made light helps to obscure much of what is out there.

Have you ever been in a place where it is pitch-black?  There are many caverns and caves where the light does not penetrate and without bringing our own lights, we could see nothing at all in these places.  If you have been to the Oregon Caves or a similar place you have been in such blackness when the lights were turned off.  You truly cannot see ANYTHING at all.

Getting out into the country can help one find some peaceful time for staring at the stars in wonderment.  But even then, man made light interferes in some way.  I remember camping in the Dumont Dunes in Southern CA and enjoying the night sky as we sat around the campfire.  But, even there, the lights from Las Vegas and over the hills in CA edged out some of the darkness.  Light is invasive.  Once it is released it continues to flow and spread even after it goes out.  That is an amazing fact about God’s universe that scientists are dealing with daily.  Stars that they believe have gone out are still seen today.  You cannot open a door and let darkness in, but you can let the light out.  Isn’t that an amazing thought?

Even at the ocean, it is hard to be in complete darkness.  The phosphorus reflection of the night light off of the breaking waves bleeds into the sky around us.  But, one night we camped in the mountains near Brewster WA and we experienced serious darkness.  This area was sheltered from light sources from anywhere.  There were no big cities or nearby towns to disturb the night sky.  That was amazing.  Without the fire or a lantern or flashlight you could not see even your own hand in front of your face.  This made the adventure even more exciting because the circumstances of this campsite precluded using alternative measures to take care of natures 3:30am wake-up call.  I had to make it to the out house.  It was a challenge.  I grabbed the flashlight and made my way by memory down the path, but the flashlight was about as helpful as a firefly.  As I walked I realized that I could not see much, but I could see my socks. They were white, and they were bright.  Wow, I thought.  What’s with that?  So I turned off the flashlight for a minute and sure enough, I could still see my socks.  I was amazed.  I could not see my legs, hands, arms or anything around me, but I could see my socks.  What in the world?

Then I remembered the laws of color:  White is the absence of any color so that all light that strikes it comes back to the viewer.  But what light was striking it?  Well, I was in a clearing and the sky was heavy with stars.  Starlight travels.  Starlight was striking my socks and I could see it bouncing off of the white.  Wow!  I was dumbfounded.

Seeing that phenomenon did not help me get to my destination, but is sure fascinated me.  Light let loose will stir the whole universe and God’s light will be seen by the universe through us if we let it be so.  We do not have to personally touch or talk to every single person on this earth for God to work His miracle; we just have to open the door and let the light loose as we go about our days touching and speaking with as many people as He sends our way.

Jesus said, “I am the Light.”  And His light is much greater than the ever so beautiful starlight.  When His light reflects back from something it shows not just that something, but the way to a destination; for He is “The Way, The Truth, and The Life.”

May we be sure reflections of His Light as we travel along these rough roads of life.  May we open the door and let Him shine through us and touch lives far, far away as well as right next door.  May He be the light of our lives, shining from a hill top and not hidden under a bushel.  May we see and show His glory all around us. Amen.

Friday, February 8, 2013


Pruning -- Now there’s a subject that comes up often in the Bible.  It’s a subject that gardeners all over the world are familiar with.  It has at least two obvious purposes:  One is to promote fruitfulness.  This purpose often changes the entire natural structure of trees and vines and shrubs.  The cherry tree comes to my mind here because, as I began to learn about agriculture, I began to notice that cherry trees get pruned to look like butch haircuts as they are grown for their fruit.  This configuration apparently helps with harvesting un-bruised cherries, easy to pick with machines.  Thankfully, landscape cherry trees are allowed to grow normally and they look quite beautiful that way.

The other purpose that I’m thinking of is beauty.  Some things need to be grown naturally to be at their best, but others need a lot of help.  Without pruning, many lovely plants would be fairly scary looking and maybe even ugly.  Let me tell you about the rose bush.

As a city girl transplanted to a farm, I was totally out of my comfort zone.  After the house was remodeled and we could live in it, I began to turn my interest to the yard.  A yard was something I had never dealt with before and this one was in great need.  So I ordered a set of Time-Life gardening books and set out to make a difference.   The first thing I learned was that our yard was pretty much owned by quack grass and gophers.  The latter dispelled any hope I had of beautiful bulbs and flowers growing everywhere. And the former kept me busy for hours keeping the landscaped areas clean from it, even with black plastic, Casoron and clean bark every year.  So I put my effort into trees and shrubs.

My most heartfelt project, though, was transplanting all of the old rose bushes which were in a “not very pretty place” and making a rose garden near my deck.  I dug the holes and readied them for the bushes by dumping a shovel or two full of natural fertilizer in the bottom and filling in again with the dirt that was there and some prepped soil that came in a bag.  Then I carefully followed the directions for transplanting the roses and soon I had a beautiful rose garden.  I kept it that way by watering, feeding and pruning.  I became really good at pruning.  It was the greatest success story of my life.  :)

But there was one rose bush that I did not gather into the garden.  It was a climber that was climbing all over the Yew tree in the front yard.  It looked more like a wild blackberry bush than a rose except that it had pink roses all over it.  To me it was quite ugly.  It was messy and it was “pink.”  None of the other bushes were pink and I was very glad about that.  Pink doesn’t even come close to being on my list of favorite colors.  I mostly just whacked it down every year and left it alone until the next whack-down. 

Then, one spring, I took the time to study up a little more on hybrids and realized that what I was seeing was a hybrid gone wild.  The root ball was from a pink climber but the graft was a different rose altogether.  That explained why this bush had a few “stray” roses in the midst of it.

So, next thing I know, I am down on my knees pruning every sucker shoot growing from the bottom of the ball.  I cut off every single one of them and then I began to nurture the growth of the most beautiful yellow rose I had ever seen.  Yellow!  My favorite color for roses!  It was marvelous.  It was amazing to see such beauty where ugliness had been.

I may not know much about the cultivation of grape vines, but I sure have come to understand the cultivation of beauty through pruning.  God has in mind to make us in the image of Christ.  We start out like wild blackberry plants or a bush full of sucker shoots but He keeps working on us to become the hybrid, adopted, grafted on the vine Christian flower that He sees us to be once we have given ourselves to Him through Christ.  I had to keep after those sucker shoots.  They wanted to come back.  But I was ready to cut them off as they tried and I used the same knowledge to keep my other roses from turning back to their wild roots, as well.  God is a gracious God and He is a relentless gardener.  He will cut here and snip there with His “two edged sword,” and He will use the circumstances of our lives to keep those shoots from growing and to cultivate the fruit and beauty of Christ in our lives.

May we all be open to the pruning of our God and the fine tuning He has in mind for us as we follow Him.  May we fight the fight, and run the race in such a way that we grow more like Him everyday.  And may we who have knowledge of our tendency to grow sucker shoots take pains to keep them pruned by reading and meditating on God’s Word in our daily walk with Him. And may we praise Him continually for Who He is and how much He loves us, shoots and all.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I like to think that many of you who read this blog already walk with God throughout your days.  At least I pray that this is true.  However I have often heard the plaintive cry among those serious for Christ:  How can we possibly do that?  We need to concentrate on our work and our responsibilities.  We cannot be always thinking just about God.  It breaks my heart when that question is asked because it is such a privilege to be aware of Him through out our day.  But how?

This is not a new subject for me to write about, but my Thursday night study is all about communion and I have been given some new insight from the lesson for this week.  I got so excited about it that that I have been chomping at the bit for a chance to sit down and share some of these thoughts with you.  And my Tuesday morning study is also deep into the open door of communion with God that came as a result of the veil being torn in two at the time of Christ’s death.  Coincidence?   I don’t think so, do you?

To quote from True Community, by Jerry Bridges:  Communion should not cease with the end of our morning ‘quiet time’… we are surely not done with Him for the rest of the day… our entire day should be spent in devotion to Him…in dependence… in delighting… in an attitude of doing (what) will please Him.  From David to Paul we find people who had serious responsibilities and still managed to think of God throughout each day (and night.)

That sounds like a big order, but the scriptures are full of references to people leaning on God and His promises throughout their days:  Adam walked with God daily.  Enoch walked with God and pleased God.  Job continually walked and talked with God on behalf of himself and his children.  When God called Moses, it was not for a part-time relationship.  He required Moses attention to Him on a very high and personal level.  And one thing Moses had to learn was that He also needed some assistance from the people.  The prophets were interrupted constantly by messages from God that needed to be delivered, but they carried on the duties of daily living and survival as they waited to hear from Him.

And the beat goes on as seen in Hebrews 11. Over and over we find this kind of devotion in those who truly loved their God.  They paid attention to Him even as they went about their daily tasks.  They talked, they listened, they did.

Some of you may remember my comments on the ever popular new subject of distracted driving.  I remarked that it is impossible to drive un-distracted because our minds cannot fix on one thing for long periods of time. We have to continually practice our driving skill in order to default to correct responses when sudden changes come while our mind is away.  In a way, what I’m thinking about today is distracted working.  Whatever our responsibilities are in what we are doing, we cannot think ONLY about that.  Our minds wander to our friends and loved ones and to  conversations from last night or  disagreements we had this morning or how good our last meal was or what we are planning to do in the evening. Even to things in the distant past and near future.  Anything to get a break and refresh.  Why not include God in those “refresh” moments?

This brings to mind a very sweet mother who she takes great joy in home-schooling her children, not just for their sakes, but for the privilege of sharing in communion and worship of God with them as the lessons unfold.  Pastors are not the only ones who are blessed to be in the Word and the work of God everyday, all day. :) Mothers have a terrific advantage in their world of raising Godly children.  Thank God for mothers who care about doing that all day, everyday.

If you have read my very first page in this blog, you may remember that this blog is based on the subject of “distracted thinking.” It is based on the fact that some mornings I pick up my coffee cup and stare out the window, daydreaming about the wonders of God.  Coffee cup thinking is what I call that.

The question being asked, though is “how do we include God throughout the day without being monks, or pastors, or worthless at work?”  The simple answer is to fill our hearts and minds with God so that thinking about Him is as natural to us as breathing and as natural as thinking of our loved ones here on earth.

When I first started on this journey of growing in Christ, my thoughts were more on my needs and on my failings than on anything else.  Slowly, praising God became the center of my thinking.  One thing that I believe helped me (besides the 2 to 3 hours a day that I was privileged to spend reading and studying His Word) was listening to contemporary Christian music.  I did that because it was necessary for me to become comfortable with it by learning to listen to what the words were and how to sing without the aid of “notes” to follow.  It took me a couple of years to reach that goal and, in the meantime, I was greatly blessed with the presence of God in my daily walk.  What a blessing that has been over time.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that we can choose thoughts of God to be our “default” distraction.  And we can practice making that choice.  And we can make a decision to learn this action by remembering this fact about God:  God chooses to walk with us.  His heart is set on us choosing to walk with Him.  We must not “put Him away” as we set our Bibles down.  We must keep Him close in the back of our minds and in our hearts every day, all day.  May we all practice keeping God foremost in our thoughts as we proceed through life looking forward to being actually with Him as He has promised us.  As Jerry suggests, “Let us take time to simply enjoy Him and let Him enjoy us.”  And must we also remember that God is present with us every minute of every day even if we thought we left Him at home.  Praise the Lord!  Amen.