Chasing Butterflies and Blowing Bubbles

(This is an older post that I needed to read and remember as Jerry and I continue to deal with difficult issues.)

Another year ~ and in these latter years I now realize that I am in my second childhood ~ butterfly-net-clipart-A_Girl_with_a_Butterfly_Net_Royalty_Free_Clipart_Picture_100224-130807-147053and loving it.

This morning my thoughts were brought back to years ago when our home was a busy hub. On one of those days Jerry and I were sitting at the dining room table, observing an eventful scene at the kitchen counter between my mother and our youngest granddaughter, Emma. as they were eating ice cream.

Mother, who had Alzheimer’s disease and was living with us, was crying, and saying that she needed to go home. Emma had her hand on Mother’s knee and was talking to her. This three-year-old child was consoling a ninety-one-year old woman, who was listening and responding to her encouragement. I wrote about the incident as I related a young child’s understanding of what it means to want to go home.
Jerry and I could not remember the words, but only that it was an extraordinary, moving experience. Scan 152400000
Olivia was in the back yard chasing butterflies.Scan 152400002  I had just brought her home from kindergarten. She ministers in her own way.

My second childhood seems to be between a three-year-old and a five-year-old. Writing has become the main outlet for my witness to the grace and glory of my Lord. There are times when I get down to the nitty-gritty, really serious stuff that the Lord gives me, but it is difficult to keep at it until it is finished. He has done much for me, in me, with me, around and through me over the years. Much has been finished, but there is still much that lacks completion.

At this age my life is somewhat correspondent to my writing. Childlikeness is good, but always needs a goal, guidance and discipline, which comes from the heart and hand of our Father. The joy of life in Christ seems at times as if I am enjoying the things I used to do with the grandchildren ~ chasing butterflies, and blowing bubbles.Scan 152400001 But the Lord is not through with me yet. This is the second time around ~ and now I need to get back to the ice cream.

Gracious Father, thank you for your patience, your mercy and your grace with your children.  You know how weak we are, and how much we need you.  Thank you for the days and the years of guiding, of teaching, of training.  Thank you that no one can snatch us out of your hand.  Thank you for a love that is the homing device by which your Holy Spirit draws us home to you.  In Jesus’ name I thank and praise you.  Amen.

First Things for the First of a New Year

If ever we begin a new year without focus and direction, we will surely fail to know our purpose, to go through and end the year with any success. As a believer, a follower of Christ, we must start with wisdom and knowledge of Him and His teachings.

He left us with specific directions and expectations. As our Shepherd, He continues to lead us by the written Word of God and His Spirit. He teaches three specific things, first things that we need to know and remember at all times, especially as we begin a new year.

These “first things” are shared in our free ebook, First Things That Last Forever, as an introduction to the series Little Books About the Magnitude of God.

These books were originally written and published to preserve a legacy for our family of what the Lord has taught me for seventy-eight years. They are available here for anyone who desires to know how God’s presence and power work in the best and the worst times of this life. Jesus finished His work, left us His example and teachings, and has sent His Holy Spirit to reveal and fulfill the promises made through Him.

We invite you to begin this year of 2018 with these teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to share them with others.

The Lord bless you, keep you and lead you in the paths of righteousness this New Year.

Fran and Jerry

Gracious Father, as we offer this book to your people, we ask that you lead by your Spirit those who will accept this free offer, even as you offer eternal life through your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. I pray we all will continue to learn to focus on you as our heavenly Father, and what it means to hallow your name; to learn what it means to seek first your kingdom and your righteousness, and to love you with all our heart, mind and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. Bless us as your people in this new year for your own glory and our joy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Heavenly Overtones

Music is designed with a melody that runs throughout the whole piece.  Other parts add harmony.  The melody is the beginning, and the ending.  It is what holds the piece together.  Lose the melody or make it a monotone—the same tone over and over— and it ceases to be music.  Overpower the melody and the music loses its meaning.

Music is a sound that began in heaven with God, our Father and Creator.  It is a major means that He provided to help us worship Him—“Holy, Holy, Holy”—one for the Father, one for the Son, and one for the Holy Ghost, is sung by the angels in heaven. (Isaiah 6:3  and Revelation 4:8)

Anthems are compositions for music that include all parts —melody, harmony, and sometimes, a descant.  A descant is a part that is sung by a higher range of voices.  It is not meant to overpower but provide an extra lift to the other parts.

Together all the parts speak to the senses to lift the spirit and the heart toward God.

Some of The Psalms that we sing from the Trinity Psalter have descants.  If you have never sung The Psalms you have not only missed hearing the command of the Lord in Ephesians 5:19, but also the blessings that come with them when they are sung.

In Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs we worship with Biblical texts and heavenly music.

(For centuries The Psalms were sung in all the churches.  They are God’s Word sung in worship to Him.  But most churches for the past two hundred years have thrown them out in the same way that the true gospel has been pushed aside.)

And for the most part, all we hear is a monotone—the same thing over and over.  Melody and harmony have been replaced with the performances of one person’s voice or drowned by instruments that overpower the melody.

Hymns have been replaced by compositions that have no harmony—difficult to sing and remember—and have separated generations of families.

I picture it according to His Word—the melody was begun in heaven with Jesus, His Son—“Holy, Holy, Holy”  from the foundation of the world.  He would not only be the beginning of music, but the melody throughout the span of time here on earth, onward into eternity.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes…”

He was wrapped in our humanity—the melody of heaven was here—to gather around Him those that would add the harmony to Himself, and provide the music for His family, the music that the Father wanted to hear.

“On the same night there were shepherds with flocks of sheep in the field. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them”the music and the worship were about to begin.

And the glory of the Lord shone round about them with good tidings of great joy”the prelude—the introduction to the first anthem of true worship.

To all people—unto you is born a Savior, Christ the Lord”the music begins.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts praising God, and saying,  Glory to God in the highest”the descant.

“And on earth peace.”   Christ Jesus, our Lord, is the melody of heaven, the melody of life, as God has composed it, and plays it for us by His Spirit and through His Word.

“I will declare thy name (the Father) unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.” “Behold, I and the children which God hath given me.”  (Hebrews 2:12-13)— the harmony of His familyNow He has a full choir.

The Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs that we learn throughout our childhood are the anthems that are carried into heaven with us, as we join that celestial choir. Others are added along the way as He gives us a repertoire.  The only soloist is the one who carries the melody—Christ, Himself.

As we live by the Spirit, and walk by the Spirit, He opens our ears to hear the melody, and to follow Him.  Our off-keys and monotones are tuned to harmonize with other voices.  And walking humbly with our Father, in the obedience of faith, loving the Lord, our God, and our neighbor, we are surrounded by the heavenly overtones echoing His praise in heaven and earth. In our devotion to Christ He opens our hearts to hear compositions we have never heard before, especially during the difficult circumstances of life.

I pray that we know the Lord as our strength and song.”  (Exodus 15:2)

I pray that we would experience “the new song” as He fills us with His Spirit.

On the Lord’s Day we go to His House with a great expectation of hearing the melody—a strong and sure foundation for our worship—hearing the other parts, and the distant sound of the descant of the angels in affirmation that our worship is accepted.

I pray that each day we will practice our singing, individually, and in family worship, so that we are prepared for worship on the Lord’s Day—all in preparation for the great day when we see Him and praise Him in all His glory with the angels.

Our Father has composed the music and directs the choir.

Let us sing with full hearts to His glory and our joy.

“Holy,—-Holy,—-Holy,

The LORD of hosts:

The whole earth is full of His glory.”

Lord’s Day 9/23/07 (Article from Waiting Is Not  A Game~Articles and Stories of Faith.)

Followers of Christ Have CGCD

We live in an abbreviated society with many associations. We are described and labeled by our distinctions and dialect, our degrees, doctrines, diseases and disorders.

The description of the life of a follower of Christ is a wonderful thing, definitely not a disease or disorder, but a distinction. Let me explain according to the initials CGCD, the abbreviation for Conviction, Guidance, Commitment and Discipline.

Conviction
One becomes a follower of Christ by the Holy Spirit’s conviction. Jesus taught His disciples that when He left them to return to His Father He would send the Holy Spirit ~ the Spirit of truth. He would supernaturally birth them into His kingdom (John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:3-4).

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 
And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11

A follower of Christ is convicted. As the Spirit woos and wins us, we receive the guidance of the Spirit of Christ for new and eternal life.

Guidance
Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life” (john 14:6), promised that the Spirit of truth would guide them into all the truth. This is how He becomes our Shepherd.

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:12-13

Commitment
The Spirit of truth is the “Spirit of the Lord”
(2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
He leads us by His hand of mercy to follow Christ, to offer ourselves as “living sacrifices” to serve Him (Romans 12:1-2).
He leads us to full commitment and obedience to Him, to the truth, and to actively seek His kingdom and righteousness.

“But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,” Romans 6:17

“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.” Psalm 37:5

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3

Discipline
With commitment comes discipline as He establishes us as His own. We learn to discipline ourselves as we live under the discipline of the Holy Spirit and His Word.

“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”
Proverbs 12:1

“Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” Revelation 3:19

“For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” Hebrews 12:6-9
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11The apostle Paul in his letter to Titus encourages him to be “hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined (Titus 1:8).

He says of his own life, “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Corinthians 9:27

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” 1 John 3:1-3

As followers of Christ we are His special people who gladly accept the description and label as He, by His Grace and His Word, makes us peculiar to the world. No others but those of His family have the life of Christ in them. What a joy it is for people to ask what makes us different, so that we can share Christ with them.

Gracious Father, you have made us precious in your sight. Let us wear the label for your glory. Make your Spirit within us contagious with joy and an excitement that overflows, to your glory and praise. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Fran, DDC (Devoted Disciple of Christ)

images: Google

The Power of One Man

There are some mornings I cannot get out of bed. My first prayers have been offered up, meditations to begin the day have strengthened my heart, and yet God, our Father holds me and will not let me go.

Monday was such a morning.

Jerry is usually up first, checking the news and weather. He came to tell me of the one-man massacre the night before. (I only know what he tells me. I do not go to the media for more details. I learned years ago that I cannot immerse myself in the news of this world). With such news, my heart melts and I draw close to the throne of grace to know what my Father and my Lord want to say.

He is the God of all comfort and He knows how much we need Him. In times like these, He knows I need this extra time with Him before we begin our day together and to know how to answer others.

Many things, thoughts of this man and all the people he destroyed and injured, news and details of the event, rummaged through my mind. My heart cried out to the living God, who created life in His image, breathed into us His breath of life with the plan through His Spirit to sustain that life in His creatures.

At other times when the world has been in chaos He has drawn me close and given me the hope that He desires to share with His people.

Is Anyone Safe
People wonder if there is safety anywhere. The imaginations run to and fro as we continue to experience the evil heart of man.

We wonder how one man has the power over so many others. Our Lord reminds us that the enemy, the god of this world, is able to deceive, capable of giving his power to man.

He is the same enemy that deceived the one man God created for His own. By one man (Adam) sin came into the world and death by sin (Romans 5:12, 15).

In Watchman Nee’s book The Latent Power of the Soul, he speaks of the power God gave Adam when He put him in charge of His creation. He reminds us that God did not take away these powers, but we see how Satan continues to harness this power through man for His evil deeds.

Safety in the Power of One Man

For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Romans 5:19

We are amazed when one man has the power of death over others. Let us be in awe of the power of the one man Jesus Christ, who has the power to give life for eternity to those who come to God through Him.

Our only safety in this world and the next is in Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who was sent from the Father to save His people. Our only hope for now and the future is the steadfast hope that He alone gives.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28

He came to destroy the one who had the power of death (Hebrews 2:14) and the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).

Where will all this end? ~ at Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
Then we shall see the power of the resurrected Christ, the Son of God, the one man with power to rule over all things and all people and put away evil forever.

In the meantime let us all draw near to the throne of grace, keep our lights burning bright with the oil of hope and gladness, continually praising our Lord for His power to save His people from the evil one, bringing hope to others who do not yet know Him. It is during these times that people may be open to the truth of the gospel of grace and hope.Gracious Father, our hearts cry out to you for mercy for this nation and the world. We need to see the power of our Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of your people who as your children without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation hold fast to the word of Life. Shine the light of Christ through us that draws others to Him. Fill us with the power of your Spirit of grace, love, joy and peace. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Image: Google

“What Do You Want Me To Do For You?”

Mark 20:46-52 is the record of a blind man who called, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”
Having Bartimaeus brought to Him, Jesus asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord, that I might receive my sight.”

This question has been resurfacing in my heart for a while. If Jesus were here today, and I could be blessed for Him to physically pass my way, what would I want from Him?

Considering that, of all who approached Him, Jesus asked this question only to a blind man, my answer would apply to my sight.

“jesus, have mercy on me. Open my eyes to see you as you truly are.”

“Show me the beauty of your holiness and the work that you have done for us, so that we may love you more and diligently follow you as did Bartimaeus.”

‘”I ask this not just for me but for your people everywhere. Let us see you as our refuge at all times.”

“Open the eyes and hearts of men and women who have been in the destruction of this recent storm to look to you for all they need.

“Open our eyes to see their need. Unite our hearts in this time of disaster.
Give us hearts of compassion, that we trust in you for our own needs and that we would even sacrifice for food and shelter for others in need.”

“Shine your light into our hearts for new life and joy, even in the middle of adversity. I ask to see your work in hearts and hands, for your glory and for the sake of others. Turn hearts to you during this time.”

“Dear Father, send your Holy Spirit, open our eyes to see Jesus, to know Him, to love Him and obey Him. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.”Jesus may pass our way only one time in our lives. Cry out to Him. He will hear and answer. He promised to show Jeremiah great and might things not known. Jesus still hears and answers. He is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Image: Google

Which is the True Image?

When I saw the picture on the right posted as “The Best Image of Eclipse 2017” on Facebook Wednesday, I was impressed. When I went back to share it on Thursday, it was no longer there. When I searched Google, I understood why.

Neither of these are a true image of the 2017 eclipse. Brandon, the designer created his own image in 2011 and posted on Devianart. Someone copied the image and turned it so that the light appeared as a cross and posted it on Facebook.

True Image of Christ
This reminded me of all the images of Christ that have appeared throughout many generations. Yet, none of them are the same. Some are embarrassing and blasphemous. There are none that I care to look at. He remains but a silhouette until I see Him face to face.There were no paintings of Him by anyone who saw Him in the flesh. There were no cameras.

Who has a true image of Jesus Christ?

There are as many images conjured up in our own minds as there are painted.

How do we know a true Christian when we see one?

Paul speaks to the church in Corinth of false apostles.

And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.”  2 Corinthians 11:12-15

There are those who have claimed to be Christ. Jesus warned His disciples that there would be false prophets.

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look,
here is the Christ!’or
‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
Matthew 24:23

Dear Father in heaven, give us wisdom to know you and your Son as our Lord and Savior. Keep us from those who are impostors. So fill us with your Spirit and your Word that we can recognize the false images of Christ. Make us true image bearers. Enable us to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ so as to share His true image with others ~ for your glory. In His name, I pray. Amen.