…Who is in Heaven

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Did you find peace in bringing your prayer concern to “Our Father” last week? Today, let’s take that same concern and give it to our Father “who is in Heaven.” The phrase is my update on “who art in heaven” from the King James, but I love these words too much to omit them as the modern translations do.

“Our Father who“ tells us that father is more than a role, a statement of paternity, or a genealogical designation. It reminds us that our Father is a who—a person—with feelings, thoughts, emotions, hopes, plans, disappointments. At first glance it hardly seems necessary to mention but when we focus on the person-hood of God, we realize that the burdens we bring Him are met with empathy and love. Being made in His image gives us some understanding of His emotional investment in us. The depth of feeling that brought us to prayer is more than matched by our Father who hears that prayer.

This wonderful Person, God the Father, feels our pain, aches with sorrow, receives us with love, listens with patience, and cares more than we imagine. He is more than the God who created this wonderful world for us to inhabit and more than the King in Heaven who will one day welcome us home. The God of our past and future is also the God of our present.

Our Father who is. At times I stop right there and savor the fact that He is. He’s here, He’s real, He’s God. “Lord,” my heart cries, “You are!” I am overwhelmingly grateful. Someone bigger than me sees and cares about this weight in my heart, this confusion in my mind! God is with me—and He is in heaven.

It’s sweet to know there is a place from where He rules over the affairs of earth with unchallenged authority. It’s His home. It’s my home. When I contemplate that, my perspective changes. The concerns that brought me to my knees are quieted in the recognition of heaven’s reality.

Today, let’s be especially grateful for our Father who is in heaven, knowing that He embraces the concerns we bring, He is present in our troubles, and He reigns unopposed from His home in heaven.

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Beneath the Snow

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This morning I made a decision. As I looked out at yet another snowfall blanketing the earth, I decided to look beyond what I saw. I did not conjecture about how many days it will take the snow to melt. I did not grumble that the calendar says spring and even my hoodie isn’t keeping me warm. I did not calculate how many snow (and sick) days this winter held. It’s not that those thoughts didn’t hover, I simply chose to replace them.

  • The sun is shining and the pavement is already clear—a wonderful contrast to yesterday’s gray.
  • Sap is flowing through the bare trees—soon they will sprout green buds with the promise of leafy cover.
  • Beneath the snow crocuses and daffodils are pushing upward—their purple and yellow heads ready to break through and dot the earth with color.
  • The dormant grass appears dead, but it’s rousing and will again grow green and lush.
  • Though they now look like bushes of brown sticks, buds are forming and in weeks cascading azaleas will shower yellow flowers.
  • As spring stubbornly presses forward, sweaters, scarves and socks will be traded for shorts, shirts and sandals.
  • Gentle rains and warm breezes will assuredly replace driving snow and frigid gusts.

My choice of thoughts paid off. I feel refreshed, happy. Sweetness replaced my sour mood. Anticipation traded places with lethargy. I highly recommend thought-replacement therapy!

“A cheerful heart is good medicine.” (Prov. 17:22)

Lord, I always have a choice. When my hopes and dreams are buried beneath blankets of disappointment, remind me that your purposes prevail. Seasons are temporary but you are undaunted. Though I may not see it, you are active beneath the snow.

The Lord IS my Shepherd..

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Not was, not will be, but is, right now, at this moment, in the present, the Lord is my Shepherd. He is always near, not catching up, not ahead of me, but with me.

Today marks thirteen years since Stacey left us to be with Him. Though time has moved on, deep loss remains, without compensation. The Lord shepherded me through the loss of our daughter, continues to do so today, and will be present every day of my future. On October 11, 2017, my Shepherd is comforting me, refreshing me, reminding me of my hope. As He is walking here beside me, Stacey is walking there beside Him.

Today, I will put a period after is—it is enough that “The Lord is.”

lighthouse*Image compliments of gmkfreelogos.com

“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.

A Woman’s Self-Portrait, part 1

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She apologized… a lot. Myra was educated, professional, determined, and a woman of faith. Why did my friend apologize for everything from the weather to my personal problems? During the maturing of our friendship I learned the answer. As a child, her stepfather flew into rages over insignificant issues, like finding a bee in the house. He would beat his wife, yelling at Myra, “This is your fault! If you weren’t such a bad girl, I wouldn’t have to hit your mother.”

Myra’s many apologies make sense when we understand that we act in harmony with our mental self-portrait. Myra saw herself as an offender and took the blame for negative consequences. She needed an adjustment to her self-portrait.  This came when she believed the truth of God’s words rather than the lies of man’s words.

It is critically important to remember that long before our lives were marred by bad experiences and hurtful people, God saw us in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:16). He wrote every day of our lives in His book and His plans for us didn’t change when abuse or loss came our way. Rather than having our image reflect pain and problems, we can repaint our self-portrait to reflect redemption and healing. We can be free to serve God and others with joy and confidence.

What brushstrokes created your self-portrait? Are the colors flattering or harsh? Are you ready to paint over your portrait and change the picture you look at day after day from flawed to redeemed?

Come together with other women on October 11, 7:15 pm, at Cornerstone Christian Church in Wyckoff. Discover the beauty of God’s purposes for your life.

For more information, directions, or to register for an optional meal (served at 6:30), visit http://www.cornerstonenj.org/women and go to events.