A Sacrificial Job

Dad and son having fun outdoors.

As parents we keep our personal worlds revolving by wearing many hats. Our most sacred position is to take care of those we have been entrusted with – those little gifts of life. A good parent does that with love, encouragement, protection and a hand that “adjusts” the character of each little one, when needed.

As I woke this morning I began praying for our country; all the governors and mayors in each state are currently facing difficult decisions and choices. They are in need of God’s wisdom as they decide what is best to keep the children safe.

Growing up there were three of us and at different times throughout our lives we found ourselves at odds with the decisions or restrictions implemented in our home. There were three types of response – the “just go with it”, the “whiner and complainer” and the “rebellious” one.

A good parent looks to the needs for the whole family. They are not swayed by outside manipulation, by the children’s whining and complaining or by the outright rebellion of some. They notice those that are willing and just go with it and are encouraged by them. They focus on what is best for the whole family. In the midst of stressful times their outlook must be filled with love and encouragement, as well as, the farsighted ability to protect from harm, while directing each toward a growth outcome that will ultimately make them stronger while adjusting the character of each child as needed. This is a huge and often lonely job!

I am grateful for my parents’ hand in my life and for the gift of having three children who I have had the great honor to parent. The job is often lonely,  thankless and always sacrificial but is the greatest job you will ever accomplish in this life.

So, as I pray for every state in our country – for each governor, mayor and leader – I pray for God’s wisdom and the strength to stay the course as a good parent whose number one priority is to keep the children safe as they encounter all three of these children. I give thanks for the hard decisions they are making. And as children, I pray that we would think about our responses to the decisions and restrictions that have been implemented in our house.  We need to choose to be willing to walk in peace whenever possible – lifting our character choices up to God for His “adjustment” before we step into the role of “whiner, complainer” or “rebel.” Our choices can affect and possibly destroy our house – our family!

Romans 12:18  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (ESV)

 

Remember Always

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The air was charged with excitement and anticipation as He mounted the young donkey. They had no idea what the next few days would hold, but entering the city expectation of freedom crackled in the atmosphere. The crowd shouted in joyous singing, welcoming Jesus as He entered.

The following days became a blur. They were shocked as He turned over the money-changing tables in the temple and He prophesied and condemned the religious leaders. They intently gleaned His words as He taught impacting parables to the crowds that gathered listening to His every word. As the crowds pressed in, those few short days were filled with memories that would flood over into the centuries that would follow.

The anticipation of the Passover feast approached and Jesus instructed them to go ahead of Him and prepare to celebrate together; it was going to be only their small group, it would be a welcome time of respite. The room was filled with love as they sat, not knowing this would be their last meal together.

And he said to them, I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” (Luke 22:15-20 NIV)


 

Communion has never been a ritual to me, but a personal time to remember what Jesus did. The understanding of its significance, however, has grown. We usually hear of the bread and the wine together symbolizing Christ’s sacrifice for us, but one day I heard a teaching that transformed my understanding.

There are two elements – the cup and the bread – each having specific impact to our lives.

The cup signifies the blood Jesus shed for our forgiveness. When we receive this gift, we understand we have been made righteous and our sin has been washed away under His blood. We now have access to His presence because of this new covenant made on our behalf.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods Grace. (Ephesians 1:7 NIV)

The bread, however has a significance that we often don’t understand or walk in. The bread is for healing! From head-to-toe, Jesus bore our pain and disease; from the crown on His head to the nail driven into His feet.

The symbolisms of Passover are significant to understand. The preparation and use of the matzah bread during Passover hammers-home its importance. It was baked, pierced with holes and stripes. The baked (burnt) bread for the fact that Jesus received the full wrath of God for our sins. Pierced with holes and stripes for He was pierced and took a merciless beating for our healing and wholeness. The lambs blood placed over the door-posts covered sin and kept those within from God’s wrath (Jesus did that for us). But then the lamb was roasted, broken and eaten for strength. When they left Egypt there were …. none feeble. (Ps.105:37) Jesus was broken and beaten for our strength and healing.

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases. (Psalm 103:2-3 NIV)

When we take communion, we remember what Christ did for us – both for our forgiveness and for our healing. Remembering should be a celebration of thankfulness and a place filled with faith. A faith of knowing that we can now walk boldly into the throne room of God, forgiven and set free. A faith where we can walk in strength and health. Disease is not the children’s bread; health, strength and healing are!

Jesus instructed us to take communion often in remembrance of His sacrifices. We have the privilege and ability do this at home, we don’t have to wait to go to church. Taking communion is as sacred and as simple as our ability to pray and be heard. As you contemplate the significance of what Jesus did for you, celebrate in remembrance with a new understanding of what belongs to you – forgiveness and wholeness.

Jesus in Our Life-line

As we sit at the feet of Jesus with our heavy hearts, fears and pain we will find our only true life-line – Jesus.

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I Peter 5:7  Don’t worry or surrender to your fear. For you have believed in God, now trust and believe in me also. (TPT) 

John 14:1 Let him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. (TLB)

These two scriptures have been a training ground for my life. They have encouraged me, have taught me to lean on Jesus, grounded me in trusting God in the midst of chaos, and have been my life-line.

The training process always begins with the small-stuff; learning to walk as you lay your worries, cares and fears at the feet of Jesus; not too hard, right? Then when the medium-sized worries begin to filter into your life you learn to strengthen your resolve and move forward. You’ve got this – this isn’t so bad? These scriptures may now have become a simple platitude.

Well, the training is not complete; the large-ones, the overwhelming worries, cares and fears step into your life. Now, you have to chew on these scriptures, pray them out-loud and spend considerable time at the feet of Jesus; leaving them there over and over again. It’s during these times you will learn a powerful truth, one of fighting forward!

Once you think you have conquered the understanding of these two scriptures, you have a solid foundation. But, there are still Goliath-sized worries ahead. Right now, living in the midst of an unseen virus, you watch in horror as a tsunami of crushing waves strike day after day. Your life has been turned up-side-down and that foundation might find a few cracks from the shaking.

Today in the midst of a pandemic where debilitating fear, pain and anxiety saturate your environment; your resolve begins to dissolve and your armor and strength to fight-forward is slipping. Here, enters the need for your life-line! Here, you have nothing left within yourself but your faith! From here you are able to find your place to fight-forward, only as you continually spend time in Gods presence.

Our sustaining refuge is found at the feet of Jesus. As we wait in His presence, sit at His feet, worship and read His Word, we will find our peace, our faith and our resolve to stand up. It is in this place that we will, again, be able to pick up our armor and willingly move to the front-lines to fight-forward.

There will be days where we will be weak and shaky, where our faith will waver but as we learn where our help comes from, as we learn to live by these scriptures, they will become an encouragement and a grounding of our faith. As we sit at the feet of Jesus with our heavy hearts, fears and pain we will find our only true life-line – Jesus. He is waiting there for you, join me at His feet where you will find the courage and peace to get up and fight-forward.

Three – Two – One – BLASTOFF!

All in all, building a rocket takes many, many, many more months then a baby. So, with great excitement my rocket is launched out into the world. Though the building of and launching of my rocket, may appear to be no more than another book in the midst of millions, it goes forth into the world carrying my heart; the heart of a new mother for her baby, believing for its impact on the lives of others.

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Reading has been a passion in my life from as early as I can remember. In my life-time I have spent hours walking, browsing, and touching books as I have perused many libraries and bookstores. Finding me with a book in my hands, buried in a corner somewhere as I travel off to a faraway place with imaginary friends has become a normal expected part of me.

Books themselves fascinate and draw me. They hold so much life between each cover. From colored picture and story books to technical books; we depend on them. However, like most things we depend on, we take them for granted. 

As I have embarked on writing and publishing I have found an even greater appreciation of the physical book as well as the authors who have poured out their heart to bring them to life. I have often heard the analogy of a book being like giving birth – and it did make sense to me – until now. Having had three wonderful children each of them required only 9 months to bring to birth. I now believe a better analogy is like the launching of a rocket, which often requires years.

The idea, thoughts, and dream of creating this rocket – our book – begins months or years before one single sentence is composed. Then the drawings, technical research, and engineering step in with many more months. Finally, the writing begins – the actual process of accumulating all the needed physical parts of your rocket – many more months.

Then one exciting morning comes when the construction phase begins and you start to see pages upon pages linking together creating something real, right before your eyes. In your mind you think “this is it” but there are still more weeks and months of intense research, writing and detail adjustments. But, slowly your rocket begins to materialize.

Eventually the cover, title and content look as if they are getting close; now comes testing its flight readiness. Oh no, it is nowhere near ready. Detail, detail, and more detail – proofing and editing that takes way more time than ever was imagined. You can’t believe how many errors seem to pop up every time you read and re-read what has already been read by five others. Each nut and bolt must flow together in this rocket; thus, continual adjustments are made.  

Then just as it looks like you’re close to launch, you realize that no one knows anything about your rocket. If no one knows, then no one will get to watch and be part of the launch of this spectacular rocket – now what? One more phase begins of many more months – marketing – letting everyone know what is coming.

Time rolls on and it is time to do the final pre-launch testing – heading to the publisher – it’s ready “this should be quick” runs through your thoughts. Haha, one more thing to learn – if you think you are ready, you probably really aren’t. The next process begins of finding more details, small and large that are definitely a surprise, while another month slips by as fixes are made and adjusted.

Finally, one morning a shiny truck arrives to open up the hanger your rocket has been stored in. The box carrying your completed book arrives and with anticipation you touch and hold it; the launch is ready to be made.

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All in all, building a rocket takes many, many, many more months then a baby. So, with great excitement my rocket is launched out into the world. Though the building of and launching of my rocket, may appear to be no more than another book in the midst of millions, it goes forth into the world carrying my heart; the heart of a new mother for her baby, believing for its impact on the lives of others.

I hope you are able to watch and be part of the launch of my new rocket!

 

Oh My God You Are Really Real – Cover Reveal

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Introduction for my new book – to launch the end of March 2018

Inspirational true stories ignite hope in all of us. They stir us to believe in a creator who loves. A God who is good and shows us in ways that explode unexpectedly right before us. At those times, we are made acutely aware of HIS love, HIS goodness, HIS presence and HIS reality.

True inspirational stories come from you and me; everyday people living everyday lives. Some are miraculous and ALL are the intimate hand of a loving God.

These stories can be as simple as finding scraps of wood to keep your home warm. An unknown person stopping to offer cash for a broken-down old car – just when you desperately needed to buy groceries, or thrift store shopping for a new job with no funds, only to find money in that used jacket. Then there are the stories we think of as the “big” ones.

Just a few of those “big” ones might be – a stroke victim miraculously seeing after permanent blindness was diagnosed; permanent spine damage instantly healed or the ability to forgive deep physical and emotional betrayal. Each of these stories will change lives. They affect those involved, those that surround them and those that hear their stories.

True stories open your eyes to see a God who is REAL! Once eyes are opened to believe, it is very hard to unsee Him. Belief begins to emerge and suddenly the reality of our Lord Jesus is standing before you – asking you to accept who He is.

Step into the pages of this book expecting to see a GOOD God – one who heals, protects, provides, speaks and transforms everyday people. Allow these true stories to encourage, bring hope and spark belief within your heart. Watch as your encounter with Jesus takes on a REAL aha moment of transformation in your life.

As you become conscious of Him, your perspective will forever be changed – His love, His presence and His reality will become the forefront of your existence and suddenly from deep within you, you too will say, “Oh – My – God – YOU are really REAL.”

“Encountering Jesus leads to a real moment of real transformation. He’s real! He’s not just a story to be believed, nor a philosophical truth to buy into. When you meet Him; you meet His goodness. You discover who you were truly meant to be because you’re walking with Him. Let this testimony rise up in your heart: God is good!

I am loved!

And my life is in His hands!

Today, press into a fresh knowledge of His real-life mercies until you are changed. Celebrate what He has done for you. Know that He has prepared a way for you to possess life. As you walk with Him, make it real, and then you will find the transformation you’ve been looking for.”

“Pastor Jim Sheen – Zion’s River – Tacoma, Wa. (Excerpt from Believing Today – “More Than a Story” 10/24/17 http://www.believingtoday.com  / http://www.zionsriver.com) ”

“Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (Mark 5:19)

 

Excerpt from: Oh My God You Are Really Real

Just a little taste of what you will find in this book.
It is full of true stories of when God shows up! Coming this Spring.

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The storm was intensifying and periodically a rogue wave tossed us sideways so far that the starboard cabin windows went into and under the water. The boat would immediately roll upright, which was very reassuring, but the contents of cabinets and drawers were strewn about and collecting in the corners of the cabin.

I could see the fear in my wife’s eyes as she crouched on the floor of the salon, holding on while holding back tears. Nolan sat consoling her, but I could still see excitement and adventure in his face. His joy gave me strength, and as we locked eyes I thanked him with a smile and nod.

I immediately turned to prayer, “Lord, please calm this storm and get us to port safely. Soon, Lord.”

Not a second passed and I again heard, “Trust Me.” But just as before, that was all.

Navigational charts showed a buoy marking some shoal hazards just outside the entrance to Oak Harbor. Visibility was poor and radar wouldn’t pick it up, so all eyes were searching the rolling seas for the buoy. The waves and winds challenged my ability to hold my bearing straight to the harbor, so we slowly zigzagged toward the entrance.

I attempted to reach the harbor by radio for confirmation of the entrance location, but wind, noise and static prevented that call.

 

 

 

How is Your Armor?

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Digging in a field for water several men unearthed a burial ground filled with treasures of ancient history. Artifacts dating deep into history were found – giving us a glimpse of the past as well as an interesting spiritual abstract.

Found among the Terra-cotta statues of warriors, and horses were found empty helmets and armor. Intricately designed yet left empty – these pieces were made from limestone, each with hundreds of carved pieces mounted together – never worn, but placed as a remembrance to the fallen. If these had been worn they would not have held up to battle for they would have shattered on impact. The standard helmet and armor where designed from leather – each piece cut and lacquered being layered and mounted together to cover and withstand the weapons of the time.

The inference is that those fallen were not adequately prepared for the battle.

We too must prepared for battle – How does that happen?

We prepare our helmets – making choices – first to believe in Christ’s blood and it’s redemptive power, then to study the word and to live a lifestyle of love and prayer – spending time diligently carving those pieces of leather – covering them with lacquer (the blood of Christ) to strengthen them and then layering and mounting them together. We also must allow the carving, lacquering and mounting of life’s journey – the pieces of our armor – to be fashioned by the Spirit of God, by His presence in our lives, and our faith to fight forward through the hardest darkest places that are often encountered as life’s journey marches forward.

Often life does not look or feel fair as life throws it’s twists and curves at us, but each of those twists and curves – if allowed – will become a piece of armor being layered and mounted – strengthening our faith.

My desire is to be found wearing a strong intact helmet and armor that has been designed by my Father’s hand, covered with the blood of Christ and strengthened by a walk of faith NOT one of limestone, that is empty, or shattered.

Fight forward my friend! Chose today how you want to march into battle.

Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (ESV)

Short-term Life in a Bud Vase

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     I love flowers, pretty much ALL of them, but my favorites are those with lingering intoxicating scent. In the NW, roses are rather temperamental due to our abundance of rain and most of mine end up bedraggled.  However, this year I decided to find the perfect one, pot it and plan to carefully tend it. The first two buds appeared and expectantly I watched as they began their slow burst into bloom. OH, what reward! They unfurled with glorious swirls of yellows, oranges and crimson with a smell that was heavenly. They spent several days on the stems before a torrential downpour came. As the rain began pelting down I darted out to protect them from destruction; the only way, was to cut them off and bring them inside. The scent that filled my living area was quickly released as they accepted a short-term life in a bud vase. They quickly opened continuing to show off their splendor of colors while their scent seemed to grow stronger.

     Each day I have sat writing in front of these beauties and I am blessed to breath in a scent that makes me smile – one that continues to grow as the petals start to fade. Now, the petals have begun to drop to the table, but the scent is still my writing companion. Now residing in a small crystal dish – their scent lingering as a little reminder that they aren’t gone.

II Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.(ESV)

     We, like my roses, live a short-term life in a bud vase. We show forth our colors (our gifts and talents) throughout that time, but do we leave a continual aroma? Is ours one of sweet enjoyment or do we carry an uninviting one? What is our life changing fragrance that lingers and intoxicates? With Christ as your eternal life source you become that sweet intoxicating aroma that draws life and invites others to partake. Without the presence of Christ as your focus, your flower is beautiful but the scent, like my Daisy’ is not one that others desire.

     Our time is fleeting, limited and fading but when you walk this life journey spreading the fragrance of Christ, you will be as my fading roses – a scent that will linger as a reminder that through Christ, you are present – now and forever.

     Step into a new life with Christ and allow your fragrance to become a sweet intoxicating aroma as you walk out your journey of short-term life in a bud vase.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (ESV)