Whenever I read those words in Psalm 46 I stop. Inexplicably, peace washes over me and in that moment, all I need to know is those four words—there is a river. When all around me is chaotic, uncertain, in turmoil—there is a river.

river-mountains

There is a river whose streams flow, bringing life and joy and fullness. It is bursting with promise, unthreatened by drought, dryness or fruitlessness. It is clean, sparkling, flowing. It sustains life and brings healing to the nations. It carries God’s blessings and satisfies our souls.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. (Psalm 46:4)

Today I am especially grateful for the river. Twelve years ago, on October 11,  our daughter girls-croppedStacey made her home in the city of God, where the river runs. Psalm 36:8 calls it God’s “river of delights” and I can see Stacey frolicking in, drinking from, and bathing in the delights of the river.

She was always eager to share every new “find” with me—pina colada coolattas®, the opening of Home Goods, a baby afghan pattern, the best vanilla soft serve she ever tasted (at Curly’s, even though it was really cold outside). I can anticipate her greeting when I enter heaven, “Mom, c’mon, there’s a river I’ve got to show you!”

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.…There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-2,5)

river photo: wallpaperfolder.com

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I’m not going to take it!

say-no

You may give it, my husband may give it, the driver in front of me may give it, but I’m not taking it anymore. I will not take offense.

I learned this in an adult Sunday School class many years ago. Brad Kibbel is now basking in glory and no longer battles such things, but I often recall his words. He said that people will give offense, but it’s my decision whether or not to take offense — and I’ve decided that I’m not going to take it.

I wish I could remember what we were studying the morning those words were engraved on my heart. I also wish I could report that I have consistently lived by them. What I can say is that they express one of my life’s ambitions.

Solomon, the wisest of the wise, wrote, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends” (Proverbs 17:9). How I regret the times I did take offense—and then talked about it. No good can ever come from that. Two chapters later (19:11), Solomon says that it is our glory to overlook an offense.

I invite you to join me in applying the words of these two wise men, Brad and Solomon:

Though offense is given, don’t take it! Overlook it instead… and be glorious.

Graphic compliments of mynews.myjoyonline.com

Confessions of an Anti-Bucket Lister

bucket
Photo courtesy of freephotosbank.com

I don’t have a bucket list. There, I said it. It’s not for lack of ideas or adventure; I just have a broader perspective. You see, I’m not planning on kicking the bucket.

I don’t know where you are with your beliefs about eternity, but mine are more sure than the air I breathe, which is why I don’t have a bucket list. When I die I’ll just be changing my address and, when I do, there’s not a single desire that won’t be fulfulled.

I googled “bucket list” I found a website called bucketlist.org (no surprise there) where more than three million ideas are cited. Here’s a sampling: climb the Alps, see the great northern lights, go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, learn a new language, parasail, swim with dolphins, visit a volcano, vacation in a castle. This is how I see it:

Climb the Alps? Why do that now when the time will come when I can scale them with no tiredness, no shortness of breath, no arthritis, no aching muscles or calluses, no difficulty breathing in the high altitude, no fear of falling? I’ll enjoy the sure-footedness of a deer and be able to stand on the heights (Psalm 18:33), breathing deeply and seeing further than I could if I stood there today.

See the great northern lights? How about having the ability to walk it their midst, count the stars and know their names―whenever I like, not just now on a once-in-a-lifetime trip?

Go scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef? I’ll wait until I can dive in without scuba gear, eyes wide open, ears hearing sounds that humans can’t now discern, and frolicking with the sea creatures.

Learn a new language? In Heaven it may well be that we’ll speak a new, unknown language but, if not, I expect to communicate in every language with a flawless accent and perfect diction―without a translation guide in my pocket.

Parasail? One day I’ll parasail without a parasail, floating through the air without fear of falling or dread of heights.

Swim with dolphins or visit a volcano? I’ll wait for the day I’ll not tire or need fins and be able to understand the dolphins’ language. I’ll stand on the edge of a volcano and let it’s awful majesty fill me with wonder without fearing its power or shrinking from its heat.

Vacation in a castle? I could write an entire post about this one! There is no luxury, no convenience, no furnishings, no gardens, no view that comes close to my heavenly home. Anyplace we now live is in the brevity of a vacation period and anything I desire here pales in comparison to the home that awaits me. Want to hear about it?

My front yard is ocean front with waves rolling and surf pounding; my backyard is forest and field with creatures that don’t fear my touch or do harm. They drink from the water in my yard, but I can’t decide if it’s a singing brook or a shimmering lake; I do believe there’s a waterfall in view. My imagination cannot stretch far enough to envision what’s inside the house, but I know what will not be found there—the radiators won’t hiss, the floors won’t creak, central air won’t be needed, my doors won’t be locked, the windows won’t need replacement, there won’t be ants in my kitchen or squirrels in my attic, and nothing will need renovation or fresh paint. People will gather and share and laugh, but never cry. The food will be tasty and healthy and the fellowship sweet.

That day is coming, of that I’m sure—so sure, that I don’t need the substandard dreams of a bucket list.

———–

Check out Randy Alcorn’s website, eternal perspective ministry and read the post from July 22, 2016.

 

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What? I’m not 44?

Happy_birthday_339A few days ago my oldest child celebrated his 44th birthday. I’m struggling with that because I thought I was 44! It amazes me how the body ages even though the mind stays vibrant. I would be thrilled to have the maturity I now possess in a 44 year old body, but I have too many creaks and wrinkles to entertain that idea very long. So, I’m buying myself an “I’m not 44 birthday present.

I saw it on one of those web side bars that you never dare click lest they “get you”. But I clicked and there it was – encouragement to be worn on my wrist for a mere $7.50. The bracelet reads:

; my story isn’t over yet

So let the disparity between my physical and mental state spar. I may not be as sprite or energetic as I once was, but I still have passion and have gained wisdom along the way. The truth is, my life is a semicolon; the second half is yet to be written. My story isn’t over yet – and neither is yours!

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord…. He is like a tree planted along a riverbank…. Its leaves stay green, and it goes right on producing all its luscious fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8 (TLB)

The Bear

I didn’t covet… and I wasn’t envious. Let’s just say I r-e-a-l-l-y appreciated carved bears. In the car, I would comment to my husband about each bear we passed. They’re friendly. They have character. I wanted one.

logTwo weeks ago we had a large pine tree cut down in our yard, so I decided I would make a bear myself. My husband asked the tree cutters to saw off about a three-foot section — I doubt that he told them why. After spending an hour watching bear carving demonstrations online, I knew the awful truth. I can’t carve a bear — I don’t have the neck-to-ankle apron that protects the carver! Okay, it was more than that. Even if I had the apron, I couldn’t wield a chain saw with the precision and control that was needed. And… I realized this would take practice and I only had one log. And… it looked hard! So I quickly converted the plans for my log from a bear to a bench.

Then, for no reason but love, my husband bought me a bear. Be still my heart — I love that bear! I watch him out my kitchen window; I pat him on the head; I say hello when I pull in the driveway; and I’m sure that with the warmer weather, he and I will have great conversations.

bearAs usual, I had imagined the bear carving project would be easier and shorter than it actually is (see my previous Flea Market post). This put me on a contemplative path, thinking about the time and methods needed to turn something good enough into something attractive, usable, endearing.

I like to think that God can simply show me a flaw to work on, or a behavior to correct, or a thought pattern to modify. At most He may have to chisel a little away – you know, gently but firmly with a penknife. But, let’s face it, sometimes it requires a chain saw, motor roaring, chips flying, chunks falling to the ground. I have been there and it’s kind of where I’ve now been for a couple of months. But of this I am sure, when the roar dies down and the stench of the fuel stops, when the chips are swept away and I’m covered with a protective preservative, I’ll be a better bear.

I will reflect the loving skill of my Creator. I’ll be more attractive to Him and to others. I’ll be usable and, hopefully, I will endear others to Him and bring Him pleasure.

“You’re surrounded! Come out with your hands up.”

Hopalong_cassidyI’ve seen far too many Westerns. As a child, a picture of Hopalong Cassidy hung on my bedroom wall. What?! Who’s Hopalong Cassidy? He was called the Western knight. Dressed all in black with shiny silver six-shooters on his hips, he sat tall on a beautiful, white stallion.

Then there was the Lone Ranger and his wonder horse, Silver, who saved Lone_Rangerthe day on a weekly basis. Even as a child I wondered why no one could ever identify him. His black mask covered only his eyes and, yet, every show ended with him riding off after a heroic rescue, as onlookers wondered, “Who was that masked man?”

The neighborhood kids and I would play Roy Rogers and Dale Evans for hours, continuing the drama day after day. We formed posses, arrested bad guys and stopped bank robberies.

More Westerns followed: Gunsmoke, the Rifleman, Bonanza. Full length movies were even more exciting – pioneers fighting the elements and resisting rich land owners as they eked out a life in log homes, renegade outlaws shooting up the town or robbing the stage coach, wagon trains circling up under Indian attack and the thrilling sound of the Cavalry bugle coming to the rescue.

There was always a hero on a mighty steed who made sure good prevailed. John Wayne, or some other Western hero, would call out, “You’re surrounded! Come out with your hands up.”

All this reminiscing down the great Western trail started this morning when I read Psalm 3. The psalmist pinpointed what I was feeling when he said, “I will not fear the tens of thousands drawn up against me on every side” (v6). Surrounded – the enemy on every side with no cowboy hero on the horizon, just tens of thousands of threatening challenges.

But instead of coming out with his hands up in surrender, the psalmist raised them in prayer, and cried out, “Arise, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God!” (v7)

As real as his enemies (trials) were, he placed his confidence in a greater reality (v8,3):

“From the Lord comes deliverance.”

“You are a shield around me, O Lord;

You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”

Standing between the psalmist and the menacing challenges, was the Lord, his Shield and Deliverer.

You may be dodging bullets, feel arrows whizzing past your head, or be getting low on ammo, but stop and listen! In the distance is the clear cry of a bugle.

White Horse Tim Paulson

Picture by Tim Paulson

The King of Calvary is bringing deliverance and it is the enemy, not you, who will be broken and surrender.

As for you, child of the King, the Almighty God will bestow His glory on you and lift your head. Wait and watch for the Lord’s salvation.

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