Musings on the Son of God Movie

Maybe you don’t like movies, but seeing visuals about Biblical times stirs me. I like watching what it might have been like to see and touch Jesus, while at the same time remembering that what I have today is even better–He is always present and lives in me and I am never alone. Still it’s inspiring to get lost in a good film that depicts what that time might have looked like. This morning after seeing the movie last night, I wrote to Jesus in my journal:

Lord, I was moved to see how You acted like Yourself in all that agony. You turned to the Father and chose His will; You endured; (You told Mary not to fear.); You talked to the thief; You cared about John and Mary, and later you returned to joy with Peter. (You showed compassion to Judas.) I don’t want to take lightly the physical pain. I’m so grateful and I know You would have endured just for me. Words fail me. My sins and failures are forgiven and I humbly thank You.

Seeing the Pharisees and Caiaphas reminded me of how blessed we are to be free from the Law. Being under the Law blinds–one can only see the rules and know the fear of missing one of them. It’s so much better to be motivated by Your love and grace. That doesn’t excuse sin, but it surely does make it easier to come to You when we know how much You love us.

I didn’t cry until the end after “You” told the disciples to go and tell the world all that had happened, and then “You” disappeared. It was when “Peter” said, “Let’s go! We have a lot of work to do!” My heart was so touched that they did just that–that got up and went out to spread the word about all they had seen and heard and knew. What if they had just sat around talking about how cool all the miracles were and how You came back to life? I wouldn’t know You. In that moment I was so grateful that they went out to change the world because 2000 years later I can know You.

The movie shows well how You are who You say You are. My prayer is that people seeing it will realize the depths of Your love, the breadth of Your caring, the height of what it means to walk moment by moment with You in Your grace, and how impossible it is to be quiet about You and all You have done for us.

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Musings on the Whining Israelites

I’ve been reading in Numbers this week and remembering how much the children of Israel complained and whined after leaving Egypt. In just 4 chapters, (11-14) these ungrateful grumblers complained about what God gave them to eat, Moses’ authority, the giants in the Promised Land, and their consequence that would not allow them to enter the new land. I want to learn from these chapters. I don’t want to grumble and whine about the circumstances that come my way. I want to remember God’s faithfulness and provision and keep trusting Him, because He has certainly proven Himself trustworthy.

When Jesus came and died for us, He took God’s wrath upon Himself. We don’t have to look at our circumstances as punishment and fear that God will open up the ground and swallow us. We don’t have to eat quail until it comes out our nostrils; we don’t get leprosy for a week, and our children don’t have to wander in the wilderness for forty years. We are free.

But all too often we can find ourselves grumbling and whining instead of trusting our Father who loves us so much. Does the death and life of Jesus make no difference? Is there a way to lessen our complaining? If so, what helps? As I pondered how easy it is to judge the whining Israelites and then turn around and act just like them, these questions came to my mind. I had a few thoughts that might help.

First it occurred to me that the better we know God, the easier it is to trust Him. Seeking intimacy with Him when circumstances are going well helps me to remember Him when things are hard or sad. Knowing who He is and what is like Him is easily found in the Scriptures. Talking to and listening to Him in prayer encourage intimacy. The God of the Israelites dwelt in a tent; today He lives in us. We are never alone, never forsaken. The more we focus on God and how much He loves us, the easier it will be to remember to turn to Him when we feel like grumbling. We may act like the Israelites, but we don’t have to.

I had another thought about why it’s so easy to complain instead of remembering all He has done. We can’t remember in our own strength and self-effort. It’s helpful to ask Him to prompt us and remind us to turn to Him. We then have a choice. If what’s going on is very painful, we might need to ask for human help and let someone lend their support. That’s OK, too. The more we practice turning to Him, the easier it will be to remember His love and provision instead of grumbling.

As we read about the whining Israelites, we notice a difference in their actions and those of Moses. Moses turned to the LORD most every time. The people complained, sometimes immediately after God had just done a miracle. Moses knew Him better and had had lots of practice depending on God and finding Him faithful. Moses interacted with God—the people had mediators. We have it better than Moses did—we have Jesus living in us and we can interact with Him anytime, anywhere.

In summary, I want to encourage us to practice turning to Jesus about everything. If we want to know Him, we will. When we remember to look at His loving provision, His kindness, all He has done for us, complaining and whining will fade away.

“Therefore I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” 2Peter 1:12

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Book Review: I’ll Cross the River

Reading is one of my favorite things to do. I read my Bible, library books, Kindle books, study books, Readers’ Digest, old books I’ve already read–even cereal boxes. I love to read and I read every day. Last week I found one of those free ebook sites and I clicked on a book that is really worth recommending, not knowing it was a Christian book until I started reading it. I’ll Cross the River, by Hope Flinchbaugh, tells the story of two women–one in North Korea, the other in China. It’s based on truth although the people are fictional. I was very shocked to read how terrible life is in North Korea. People are dying of starvation every day as a result of the government’s policies. They are brainwashed to believe that they have it better than anyone else in the world.  Some learn otherwise and try to escape into China. If caught, they are sent back to be tortured and killed. The North Korean woman decides to escape across the river with her baby and son. She has been told there are people in China who will help hide her. These helpers who risk being sent to prison are part of the underground Church in China.

The other main character is a young Chinese woman who sets out to take the Good News of Jesus to remote villages. Reading about her faith touched me deeply. She left on her dangerous journey, on foot, camping unless someone gave her shelter, and she left with no plan except the rough map that showed her how to find the villages. She literally had to trust God for every step, for every bite of food, for direction, for who to trust, and for what to say to those she met.  Speaking of “the God who loves” could land her back in prison where she had already served three years for telling her classmates about Jesus.  Regardless of what was going on, she and her traveling companion kept saying to each other, “We must pray.” Their dependence on God is inspiring and humbling.

As you can already imagine, these two women’s lives cross, but I won’t give away the ending as to how.  If you like to read, I hope you will check out this book. It will challenge you to follow the Lord unreservedly.  If the Lord brings it to mind, pray for our oppressed brothers and sisters who suffer beyond what we can even imagine.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/0768426480/ref=rdr_ext_tmb

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Musings on Quilting Madness

For many years I’ve been making quilts with the number most likely over 70 by now. The kinds of patterns I use are very simple and can be finished by machine in a day or two. Most of the time I make them out of scraps I already have, though some have been planned and fabric purchased.

Recently while visiting my sister, Jackie, I saw one of her most recent quilts and it was beautiful. Unlike me she occasionally hand quilts her beauties. She’s also more “crafty” than I am and has a mind that can do mathematics. I decided to copy this beautiful quilt of hers which was a pattern unlike any I have ever tried. (In quilting circles it’s called “on point,” and the squares are on the diagonal.) Remember, my quilts are simple; I make up my own patterns.

I gathered my scraps, cut out the squares and got ready to put it together. I had a picture of Jackie’s quilt but I could not figure it out. I had to call her several times as my un-mathematical brain tried to “get” what I had to do to make this quilt as a diagonal. Finally, I got part of it and began my rows from the corner. At the third row, I was stumped again. This time I had to face-time Jackie to figure out what I could not get because I was looking from a totally new perspective. I could not see a rectangle or where the next corner would be. After much deliberation, we finally figured out what my next steps were and the pattern emerged.

As I worked on this quilt, I mused on what it felt like when I could not “see” what it was going to look like or figure out how it would become a rectangle. That’s how we feel sometimes when God is trying to teach us something new. The brain feels off kilter, like a diagonal, when we are used to rectangles. Jackie was patient, kind, and helpful as she coached me along to see from another perspective that she already understood–answering questions and repeating instructions until I could see a bit at a time.

Isn’t our Heavenly Father so like that! He knows well what we don’t know. His perspective can see all directions and He is never thrown off kilter when we feel like our world has turned upside down. He is patient as we walk, stumble, fall, and try again. He does not condemn us when we struggle and can’t quite see that new perspective.

This quilt was the most difficult I’ve made. I ripped out and started over many places before I figured it out. I talked with a coach who understood the pattern. I persevered. That’s how it is when we grow–it’s frustrating and often painful. But just like this is one of the prettiest, and the most unusual quilt I’ve made, when we learn that new thing that God wants us to experience in life, the gain is worth the pain.

Pinned and ready to quilt. Are you listening to your Coach and persevering in spite of frustration and off-kilter perspectives?  He wants to make something beautiful out of what you see only as scraps.

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Fiction Book Give-a-Way

I’m trying out a new website that helps me promote my books by giving them away for a few weeks in exchange for an honest review. If you would like a free copy of The Lost Dome of Atron–Book One, click here to check it out. It’s an ecopy, but those who download the book will be in a drawing for a free print copy.

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Solutions for Trauma (from joystartshere.com)

This is an excerpt taken directly from the JOY STARTS HERE project from Life Model Works. http://www.joystartshere.com/   I wanted to share it because it makes such great sense that the solution to painful traumas should match the way traumas work. Check this out and see if it might be something you would like it implement in your life, your church or your counseling center:

ELEMENTS OF THE PROBLEM/ELEMENTS OF THE SOLUTION

• Trauma and addictions change our identities; therefore the solution must also change identities.
•Trauma self-propagates; therefore the solution must self-propagate.
•Trauma blocks the development of maturity and character; therefore the solution must restore maturity and Godly character.
• Trauma encourages people to reject others, therefore the solution must create belonging.
• Trauma and addictions spread without needing education; although the solution should be based on the best science, it should not require a Western education or medical model.
•Violence and terrorism traumatize whole groups at once; therefore the solution must heal whole groups at once.
•All human cultures, races and ethnicities have the same nervous systems and the same spiritual needs. A solution based on solid neurology and Biblical spirituality would be a solution as universal as the causes for trauma.
•The recovery model must be high-tech design with a low-tech implementation.
•Abuse usually spreads through unhealthy relationships. The 19 relational brain skills, taught through THRIVE materials in bonded relationships, train and encourage people towards joyful relating.
•The identities formed by the solution must match God’s design for us.

If this resonates with you, here is where we begin: Click Here

May JOY start with you wherever you are!

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Musings from ”Catching Fireflies” by Charles Martin

If you love to read, I want to recommend an author who will bless you with his wisdom. Charles Martin has written nine novels and I have read all but one. I’m currently waiting my turn for that one at the library. God and His truth are sprinkled through the pages of every book. Last week I read Catching Fireflies. It was so moving and profound that I’m still pondering it. Here are a couple of passages that got stuck in my heart.

The main character, Chase, remembers when he was young and felt that he was a mistake and unimportant. In the memory, his foster dad whom he calls ‘’Unc’” talks to Chase about the stars and their light—light only God can make. As evening comes, Unc’ catches fireflies and puts them in a Mason jar, showing Chase how they light up. His encouraging words to Chase are, “If God can make a firefly’s butt light up like a star, then anything’s possible.”’

Chase’s memory of that evening with Unc’ continues: “’Chase, I don’t believe in chance.’ He held up the jar. ‘This is not chance.’ He pointed to the stars. ‘Neither are they.’ He tapped me gently in the chest. ‘And neither are you. So, if your mind is telling you that He slipped up, and might have made one giant mistake when it comes to you’–the jar lit yellow-green–‘you remember the firefly’s butt.’”

Don’t we all at times need to “remember the firefly’s butt?” Don’t we need to remember how much God loves us, that He made us; that He is in control? No chance of evolution brought about a firefly’s butt. God, who is light, made no mistakes and there were no chances when He made you and me.

My other favorite saying from Unc’ comes after several discussions with Chase about trying to change another person’s mind and ways.  Unc’ has many reasons he could justify being angry and striking out, but he refuses.

He tells Chase, “’Words that sink into your heart are whispered, not yelled.’”

How true that statement is! How easy the words are to forget when we feel cheated, betrayed, and angry. May God remind us to whisper when we feel like yelling.

Throughout all of Mr. Martin’s novels, there are words of truth, love, kindness, and wisdom. There is laughter and there is sadness. His characters are real-to-life and their lives are filled with joy and pain. Check out some from your library, order one on your Kindle, or buy some to own. I bought the first one I read—When Crickets Cry.   Click here for website

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