Thursday, September 27, 2012

My Heavenly Father...

Watches over me...

So tired tonight.  Just want to bury my head under the pillow and make everything go away.  I'm sure you've been there.  Nothing seems to go right.  People disappoint us.  We disappoint ourselves.  Wonder if I'm getting anywhere with old issues that keep rearing their ugly head.  I am weary.  I am worn out.  I am tempted to give up.  At times like this, I really do need to let The Lord carry me.  That's the picture I get with this beautiful song. 

I am riding high on the Father's shoulders.  He has seen my downcast face.  Like a loving daddy, He bends down to look in my eyes and smiles His love all over me.

He plops me high on His shoulders for all the world to see.  My Heavenly Father watches over me...

He carries me in and takes a seat in the big, overstuffed chair in the living room.  He pulls me close to sit curled up right by His side.  He rests my head on His shoulder.  He caresses my cheek to quiet me.  The room is filled with the fragrance of His love.  

In the quiet certainty of His love, I feel every tight muscle unwind.  He has come to sit with me... My God has visited me... I know it will be alright. My Heavenly Father watches over me...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

For the Law of the Spirit...

Has set me free..."
Romans 8:2

Ever feel like you had just stepped, barefoot, into the middle of a hornet's nest? You know you are in trouble and it feels like you can't outrun it, it is chasing you down and you are going to lose...

My friend is going through exactly that. She is trying to survive what feels like is impossible to overcome. She is being attacked all around her at a time in her life when she already feels extremely vulnerable. As she and I sat together yesterday, she shared some of the very hurtful things that have been going on in her life recently. She was wounded and bleeding all over the place, figuratively speaking. My heart goes out to her. I sorta wanted to grab the people responsible for this pain and beat them up the way they have mistreated my friend. But, she had come to me to pray with her, not to fight for her. 

And so, together, we sought the Lord. And as we did, He showed up at the table and sat with us and touched us both with the overwhelming and tender grace of a God who loves us and understands our griefs and our struggles. You could feel Him unwinding the rope around her neck that was threatening to strangle her. She began to smile and I watched as the tension dropped from her weary face – the clock seemed to move backward to a younger, freer, sweeter time in my friend's life. She was like a desperately thirsty woman, gasping to get a drink of water that would bring her back from the edge of life and death.

At moments like this, I am a witness to the glory of a God who shows up when I least expect Him but so desperately need Him. I step back and watch in awe as the God of All Compassion visits my house and answers my prayer. Who am I to have Him visit me? Who am I? I am nobody. But, He comes immediately, without hesitation. He sits down in my living room on my beat up old couch. He leans over and looks in my eyes. He doesn't have to say a word. It is clear that He understands. He knows the depth of hurt that words cannot express. He knows the shame. He sees it all, better than I.

Suddenly, there is a joy filling up the room. He throws His head back and laughs and laughs. I feel the freedom He is inviting me to enjoy. I love this God of Healing, God of Grace, God of Laughter, Peace and Joy... I laugh along with Him. He is the God Who Sets Me Free...

I hope you enjoy this beautiful song, one of my favorites: "Be Still My Soul" by Selah

(Just click on the Youtube link below the picture to hear and see the video.)


Friday, September 21, 2012

Butterflies All are We!

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.
Plans for peace and not for evil,
to give you a future and a hope."

Jeremiah 29:11

One of the most delicate and magical creations of the Creator is His little fluttering butterfly! Each one hand painted by the Master Artist of all creation, they are like little showcases of His beauty flitting in and out all around us.  

"Now to Him who is able...

The image of transformation, it is amazing to consider what becomes of the little, lowly caterpillar which starts its life crawling in the dirt, only to be elevated to star status by the Creator Himself.  Do you suppose when the caterpillar is crawling around on all fours (or 27s - or however many legs they have!) that he ever imagines what he was really created to be?  Do you suppose he says to himself, "Someday, I will be the envy of all who see me flying from flower to flower!"  Do you suppose he ever hopes he will be anything more than a lowly little insect that can be stomped out at the whim of a child?  Do you suppose that God whispers in his little tiny antenna ears - "You know, I have plans for you that you know nothing about!"  Do you suppose He tells him with excitement all He has planned for him, but the little hopeless, dirt bound caterpillar ignores what he hears and settles into his dreary life with no vision of what might be?  Do you suppose he tells all of his caterpillar brothers and sisters, "Don't listen to that.  This is all there is..."

to do exceedingly, abundantly...

I wonder if he was given the choice of crawling in the dirt or flying on the wind what he would choose.  After all, it's pretty risky to reach for something better!  

 above all that we ask or think...

Life in that cocoon looks pretty scary... It's dark and lonely in there!  Once inside, he might be wondering what's happening to him - why is he there, all alone and not sure if he will ever break out.  And if he does, what will his life be like on the other side of this trial?  Will it all be for nothing?  Poor little caterpillar.  He has to trust that Someone knows more about his little bug life than he does.  He has to trust that Someone is working in Him "more than he could ever ask or imagine..."  He has to fight to hang on until he breaks through...

According to the power that works in us..."
Ephesians 3:20

Aaaaah, but, when he does...  He is something beautiful to see!  Why, he doesn't even recognize himself!  Who is He?  Not the little crawly bug, scrounging in the dirt, afraid to even imagine something better.  No, no, no!  He is an absolute masterpiece, witness to the power of our Transforming God.  A teeny, tiny, masterpiece, transformed by the power of the Creator into something beautiful, even magical!  I can almost hear him laughing to himself as he flits from flower to flower.  "Look at me, look at me!  Look at beautiful me!  I never knew how wonderful my life could be!  But then, He touched me!  He touched me, and made me whole..."

That's us - you and me!  On our way to becoming butterflies all are we!  Hang on.  He is making us into something beautiful!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High,
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty..." Psalm 91:1

I woke up to the phone wringing off the hook. I had decided the day before to take the day off from work. I felt strangely exhausted and just needed a day to rest. This was unusual for me. It was just the beginning of the work week. I was taking off on a Tuesday. Normally, I saved vacation days for extended weekends. But, for some reason I was simply exhausted.

I answered the phone in a haze of sleep to hear my daughter, Christy, who lived just ten minutes away from me, sobbing uncontrollably on the phone. I heard her say something about the Pentagon. The Twin Towers were on fire... Was I dreaming? What was going on? She told me to turn on the T.V. I couldn't do that. It had just broken a few days earlier and I hadn't replaced it yet. Suddenly our call was interrupted with another call from my son asking in a controlled but ominous voice if I had heard the news. All at once it dawned on me. My daughter, Kim, lives in New York and worked in Manhattan, just a few blocks from the World Trade Center. All at once I began to scream for my daughter. Where was she? Was she trapped in the middle of this nightmare from hell? They told me they had tried to call her and couldn't get through. The phone lines were all dead. I could not believe what I was hearing. I hung up the phone and headed for my daughter's house. It was only about nine o'clock in the morning on a beautiful September day. Everything had suddenly gone black...

We spent the morning transfixed in front of the television, watching frame after frame of the towers burning, the Pentagon on fire, people fleeing for their lives. All the while, we tried in vain to reach my daughter in New York, to no avail. Like all of America that day, we were in shock.

Midway through the day, my son-in-law called to tell me that Kim had called the school where he and I worked to tell me she was OK. Since I wasn't there, they had gotten him out of his classroom to take the call. They told me later that he had broken down sobbing when he heard her voice. I wasn't able to speak with her until much later in the day. When I did, this is what she told me.

She had been at work at the start of the day, just a few blocks from the Twin Towers. People were waking up, getting their coffee, easing into the day. They were surprised to see what looked like confetti falling from the sky. Laughing that someone had forgotten to tell them there was a ticker tape parade that day, they ran to the window to see the parade. Standing there, innocently searching for a parade that didn't exist, they watched in horror as the second plane flew directly into the second tower.

The loud speaker announced that everyone was free to go or free to stay. It was up to the employees to decide what they would do. Everyone was terrified to stay and terrified to leave. They had no idea what was coming next. Within minutes, everyone decided to flee. To try to get out of the city as quickly as possible. All the transportation lines on the subway had been broken. Cell phone lines had been destroyed. To get out of the city, they had to flee on foot. She was among the thousands of ghost like creatures, covered from head to foot in dust and grime, with terror etched across their faces, fleeing the city that day.

The only way out was across the Brooklyn Bridge. In the midst of the mass exodus across that bridge, she said she looked around. Chasing her down from behind was a tunnel of smoke and dust. In the harbor of the famous Hudson River, war ships had begun to gather. Overhead, the sky was filling with war planes. The people in New York, who were caught in the middle of this tragedy, did not have access to the news reports the rest of us were getting. They had no idea what was going to happen next. My daughter told me they were sure we were at war.

With thousands of people fleeing for their lives across the bridge, someone screamed that they were going to blow up the bridge. It is a miracle that people did not panic, which would have led to the loss of even more lives. Shortly after she made it across the bridge it was closed...

When she arrived home to her apartment in Brooklyn, many miles away from the Twin Towers, she found every inch covered with the grimy dust from the tunnel that had chased them all as they left the city. There was no escaping it. It was everywhere.

Later, she told me the city was a morgue. On every tree there were pictures of lost loved ones, with the heartbreaking plea - “Have you seen _______?” The smell of death was everywhere...

I will never forget the stories she told me about that day. When she came home for a few days shortly after-wards, she lay on the couch, curled up in a fetal position, too numb to speak. She was in shock. There is little any of us can say at a moment like this. Our words are empty. In that moment of overwhelming grief and sadness, I read to my daughter from the 91st Psalm. In that moment, I felt the presence of the Lord invade my little apartment. To comfort, to reassure, to remind us both that He is here. He sees. He cares. And He is able to heal the unthinkable...

To this day, I cannot go through September 11th without sobbing at the memories of what took place that day. That He saved my daughter from the fire, quite literally, is something I will never forget. For the many, many thousands of family members who wept for loved ones that never called, never returned, my heart aches. You are in my prayers always.

May God be our comfort, our refuge, our strength. May He forgive us our sins as a nation. May God bless America. Land that I love...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Proclaim Liberty to the Captives...

"He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound..."

Isaiah 61:1 NKJV

Praise God, Praise God, Praise God!  Pastor Nadarkhani has been released from prison by the grace and power of the Living God!  

There have been millions of prayers lifted up on behalf of this dear man and his family, as he was sentenced to die for charges that were trumped up against him by the regime in Iran.  He has been in prison for over three years, not knowing from one day to the next if he would live or die.  This young pastor, under incredible stress to reject Jesus Christ, refused to turn his back on Jesus in order to save his life.  What an awe inspiring witness that Jesus is worthy.  Jesus is worthy.  Jesus is worthy of whatever it takes in this life to stand up for the Gospel...

None of us will know until heaven how many unbelievers, inside the prison walls and out, have been brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the courageous witness of this young pastor.  Praise God for the faithful witness of this man under the threat of a death sentence.  And for his young wife and children who stood by him through it all.

You and I, thousands of miles away from the cell where he was incarcerated, have had the incredible privilege of being a part of the prayer support for this dear man and his family.  Isn't it amazing how God knits believers together in the Body of Christ?  Even when we don't know each other; when we have never met; when we are separated by thousands of miles, God puts us together for blessing, one to the other!  I love that about Our God!

I have posted requests for prayers for Pastor Nadarkhani frequently, most recently on July 29th, I asked all of my readers to pray for his safe return to his family. We dare not neglect to say thank you to the God of All Mercy for His answer to our prayers. What a privilege to have been able to "stand in the gap" for this dear man.  And even more, to be able to stand and see the power of God to "set the captive free..."  Thanks to all of you who prayed.  You have been a part of something magnificent...

NOTE:  Unfortunately, shortly after this happened, Pastor Nadarkhani was again imprisoned and remains there today, (Jan. 5, 2015).  Please continue to pray for him and for his wife and children, who have now spent three Christmases without him.  May God strengthen him, encourage him and his family. He has need of endurance..  And may the God of all Mercy and Grace bring something wonderful and beyond our imagination out of this nightmare.  In the Powerful Name of Jesus Christ, we pray...