A Baby’s cry changes everything


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On Keith and Kristyn Getty’s Christmas album is a song entitled How Suddenly a Baby Cries. The lyrics of the first line are “How suddenly a baby cries and all forever changed”. This phrase caused me to consider how Jesus Christ has indeed changed everything.

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Concentrating on what Jesus has done, the basic concept for this post began to formulate. By basic I mean, a thought here, a belief there, random thoughts, not connected together. Every time I set out to write a post, those random thoughts are the first to appear in the draft. Even though I am new to blogging, I learned very quickly to appreciate the delete key when what I have written does not adequately express what I know or what I believe. I also use the delete key when my writing stumbles upon my lack of knowledge on a subject. As I try developing a thought, I realize I’m not able to adequately describe it just yet. I then have to consult with my Editor, the Holy Spirit, Who instructs me more thoroughly or leads me to another blog subject. If I sense there isn’t a confident flow with a certain draft, I will put it aside until a later date.

I have discovered that writing is a wonderful discipline and I welcome the challenge because it causes me to look at what I know, and discover what I don’t know. Yes, it is easy to readily agree that the birth of Jesus forever changed our world. It is something else to express that concept in a manner that reveals  I own that truth. Restating truths gathered from others is not ownership. I own a revelation or truth when the Holy Spirit reveals it to me, and I then accept it by faith and seek to live it out. Once that truth belongs to me, I can express it with certainty and confidence. It holds steadfast in the light of God’s Word, as the Holy Spirit continues to work it out within me.

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In admitting this, I broach this subject with caution. I want to devote December’s posts to some simple, but significant ways Jesus has changed things, things we don’t normally consider at Christmas.  I will not attempt to examine those bigger, more profound changes attributed to Jesus. This will be a process to clarify some simple truths for me. Hopefully others will appreciate the process as well.

Baby, Lamb, and Lion, Jesus has touched every aspect of our lives in this world. Regardless that those who deny Him would negate His impact, this truth will one day be fully revealed and totally validated by the Lord Himself. Until then we have opportunities to be blessed by the changes Jesus provided, if we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us how to welcome those changes into our lives.

This is the link to How Suddenly a Baby Cries by Keith and Kristyn Getty

Connecting, with love

Donna

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Colorful Christianity

Isaac Newton discovered that light is actually a color spectrum.  When light reflects through a prism, those colors are revealed, as the light is broken down into the  seven primary colors that are found in a rainbow. An artist friend reminded me that there are really just three primary colors. But Newton thought otherwise. When you take those three main primary colors  and mix them together in different combinations, all the other visible colors are developed. Now you great scientific minds out there, I know this is a very simple version. 🙂 However, as I was working through some new revelation,  I needed a tangible way to help me understand it more clearly.  I’m not a very good auditory learner. It either has to be hands on, or visible with me. Bear with me as I use this illustration about the relation between light and color, to share the truth I’ve been contemplating.

 John 8:12 (AMP) Once more Jesus addressed the crowd. He said, I am the Light of the world. He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.

Jesus, the Light,  represents all seven colors found in a rainbow, as well as all the combinations of the three main primary colors mixed together. The number seven, in the Bible, symbolizes spiritual perfection, or completeness. He, in His perfection,  shines through the prism of our heart, creating color or life in our lives.  Without Christ there is darkness. In darkness, colors are not visible and everything appears gray or black.

We may exist, and even appear to flourish, but it is only through Jesus Christ that we truly live, in His beauty and rich color.

It is Autumn time in the mountains. When the sun shines on those ridges and slopes, all the brilliant colors of the season are illuminated. When the sun  goes down, we lose sight of the colors.

Fall in the mountains

Some visible color may be seen in our daily walk…we read our bibles, we talk about Him and share Him with others, we worship Him, we give, we serve, we act lovingly. But the practice of abiding in His presence, elevates who we are, and what we do, to a higher level. Without this unity with Him, the colors will seem harsh, pale or lacking in vibrancy. Who we are, and what we do, must be fully illuminated by Jesus.  Look at the rose pictured below. It has color, but there is something lacking….colors that reflect real life. The greens are vague, and the pink is too sharp. In fact, my eyes are strained if I look at this too long.

If we walk away from the Light of Jesus, our lives will appear like this rose with distorted colors.

Just as our fingers turn blue when we hold blueberries, we become colored with God’s grace, by abiding in contact with Him. The Lord works everything out as we rest in Him. It is in a humble state of waiting, being still, listening and obeying, that He does His greatest work in us. He provides the righteousness  that He requires in us, for His glory.  Seeking God involves a prayerful state of awareness of Him, and a faithful expectation of Him.

Maturing in Christ = Multi colors of Him, His Beauty

A dear friend, and mentor, recently took the time to teach me some much-needed lessons about Christian maturity, or using the illustration, allowing God to cause my life to become painted with His Life colors. He shared with me a tender reminder that it is God who works in and through us.  There is a battle within us to make “pressing on” a priority. After all, God’s word tells us to be persevering. This is true. But if we dwell in the state of pressing on, it is off-balance, just enough, for us to miss the bigger picture.  He wants us to dwell… in His presence.

Jesus, You are welcome into my minutes, days, weeks, months and years.

Living in His presence, daily, means waiting to see what He is doing and listening for His invitation to come take part. Sometimes  that work may just be Him, working in us, and sometimes He may work through us, helping someone else. He leads us to those  He wants us to minister to, He arranges the timing when we need to minister, and He instructs us on how we are to minister. He supplies the ability through His gifts and empowers us to succeed.  He teaches us, so that we are able to understand Him better and worship Him more. It is all about God, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, working to form us into the image of Jesus. When God does the work, He shines forth in our lives with His beauty, in all His vibrant shades, and we are not just pale interpretation of Him.

Peter 1:2-8 (NIV)Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirming One’s Calling and Election

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;and to knowledge, self-control;and to self-control, perseverance;and to perseverance, godliness;and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Everything we need, to live life as a Christian, is found in God, through Jesus Christ. There is a flow. It is called resting in Him. Resting means to live, not rebelling, not resisting, but agreeing, trusting and obeying as He leads. New colors of true Christianity becomes clear in our lives as He does His work in us.

A pepper turns from green to red as it matures.

As we mature in Him, by His power, we become vibrant with life….His Life, His Beauty.  He made this world with colors.  We reflect His Creative Heart when we walk in the different colors of Christianity, not pale and powerless, but rich and appealing to the world around us, because we become the reflection of His beauty, within us. There are those who may hate Jesus, but that is only up to the minute they truly meet Him personally. Then that hate is forever replaced with love for a Beautiful Savior.

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus

connecting, with love

Donna

Life in the Mouth

While working as a dental hygienist, I looked into a lot of mouths.  Although at that time  it didn’t seem funny,  I remember two particular patients that I chuckle about now.  Of course, the humor might only be appreciated by those who have worked in a dental office.  One day I was running late with my afternoon appointments. I looked at the book with encouragement, noting that my next patient was a teenage boy, and not an adult. Adults generally take longer because of possible issues with gum problems. So, I was beginning to relax, thinking I could get back on schedule. Well, I was wrong.  Words can not describe how I felt as I looked into this young man’s mouth. Not only was he wearing full orthodontic metal braces, but he had decided, just before coming in for his dental appointment, that a juicy orange would be a good snack. Without being too descriptive, taking orange pulp off metal brackets takes a long time.

Another time, an elderly man came in as a new patient. I introduced myself and seated him in the chair. I then turned my back on him, as I began setting up the paper work to record his patient history.  However, he had decided it was time to begin work right away, because as I turned in my chair to ask my first question, he had already dislodged his upper denture and it was resting on his extended tongue. He sat there, in that position, with his eyes closed waiting on me to retrieve his denture and start cleaning his remaining teeth in his lower jaw.

I’ve learned to appreciate a healthy mouth, after seeing so many afflicted by tooth aches, disease, malformations, or injuries. This is not an appeal to brush and floss your teeth, although that isn’t a bad idea. 🙂  I want to focus on the mouth because there is an important link between a healthy mouth and our well-being, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Regarding physical significance, when food enters the mouth, the digestive process begins. The mouth contributes to our musical ability, as we sing, hum, and whistle.  By using our lips, we can kiss, blow, bite, and spit.   A damaged or malformed mouth can cause someone to battle with how they view themselves. Dental health impacts the cardiovascular system, our immune system, our ability to support healthy weight, and our enjoyment while dining.

Emotionally, our words, and the tone of those words, display to the world, what is inside us. I heard it said  years ago, and I say it often, to remind myself of this truth, “what is in the well, will come up in the bucket”. If there is anger in our hearts, it will slip past our teeth with the least provocation. If there is bitterness, it will ooze out of our mouth like slime, covering those around us, our situation and our environment. If there is unforgiveness,  our words will sound harsh, brassy and sharp. When hatred is felt,  there is potential for violent, harmful thoughts to be propelled by our tongue, and out of our mouth. People will often interpret our personality by observing our mouth, labeling us with terms like friendly, shy, quiet, loud. Our mouth can show when we are fearful, stressed, in pain, or in trouble.  We can frown and pout and do various other forms of expressions to convey our emotions.

Getting to the spiritual aspect of the mouth, a heart where the love of God resides has the potential to offer words of  love in many flavors : merciful, gracious, forgiving, healing, comforting, affirming, encouraging, edifying, uplifting, blessing and understanding.  The  words we speak change lives, ours and others.

Scripture gives us some promises about the words we utter:

Proverbs 18:20-21 (AMP)20 A man’s [moral] self shall be filled with the fruit of his mouth; and with the consequence of his words he must be satisfied [whether good or evil].21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and they who indulge in it shall eat the fruit of it [for death or life].

Proverbs 11:11 (AMP)11 By the blessing of the influence of the upright and God’s favor [because of them] the city is exalted, but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked.

Proverbs 12:18 (AMP)18 There are those who speak rashly, like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

How many blessings are we missing by speaking with hopeless, faithless and lifeless words?  How many times do we experience lost opportunities to see God’s favor surround us, when we need it the most, because we speak with unbelief? How would our world look if we spoke the words God leads us to speak, with His wisdom, His heart, and His compassion? How many times have we failed to speak in a way that would encourage, uplift or bless others?

Biblical guidelines for speaking are not merely suggestions to be taken lightly.

Ephesians 4:29 (AMP)29 Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.

Ephesians 5:4 (AMP)Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God].

James 1:19-27 (AMP)19 Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry.

Healthy life, physically, emotionally and spiritually begins in our hearts, and is evidenced by our mouths. We, His Body, can impact the world by allowing Him to reign in our hearts and letting His words flow from our mouths. We all face this battle with our tongue, and James states that no man can tame it. These verses urge me to weigh my words more carefully.  By allowing the Holy Spirit to reign in our heart, we are filled with Him and He enables us to speak words that bless and heal.

For a long time, I never really considered that words mattered. After all, everyone is entitled to say what they think and feel. Yes, this is true, but is everything I think and feel honoring to God and to those around me? This has become such a tangible lesson for me.  God has allowed me to see the hurt felt by others from my words, and to experience how other’s  words have hurt me. There is overwhelming frustration as I reflect back over all the useless and unloving words that have come out of my mouth. My only encouragement is knowing the Lord’s forgiveness, and that He is able to redeem and restore. It is never to late to learn what the Holy Spirit is willing to teach, and to expect Him to change, within me, what is not pleasing to God.

connecting, with love

Donna

Body Beauty and Health

There is a link to an amazing story at the bottom of this post.

Artists have long appreciated the human body. Scientists have studied how our bodies function, documenting their findings. The medical profession has tended to our body’s health, or lack of, from the inside out, observing its complexities. Lovers have written songs, poems and odes expressing fascination about the design and allure of the human form.  I doubt anyone would deny the value of a healthy and fit body.

Even causally observing the genius of our design, it is easy to appreciate our Creator. Our appreciation deepens as we understand that God has replicated the design of the human body in His design for His church. He calls us the Body of Christ. We, His Body, were designed and purposed to act like a healthy body.

Each body needs a head. My body is available to respond to the directives from my head, my mind. I tell my body to sit, stand or walk and each part acts in agreement to make my efforts coordinated….or at least most of the time. 🙂 Jesus is the Head of the Body of Christ. Following the leadership of Jesus coordinates His Body.

A healthy body needs a flowing circulatory system to pump blood into all the parts of the body, and the Body of Christ needs the flow of His Holy Spirit to support His life in us.  The health of each body part ensures a better quality of life. The same is so with His Church, His Body.  Our arms, hands, legs, feet, fronts, backs, internal organs and external appearances, should all receive adequate respect as we care for our body. Granted, a hand and a big toe function differently and definitely view life from different positions. However, both are vital for efficiency in life. If we respect our bodies, we care for each part, and experience health. The Body of Christ is healthy when we do the same thing.

1 Corinthians 12 (NLT)12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.

Understanding that we all have body parts, there is no need for us to walk around with labels for each body part. We recognize the design of the body or body part, without the labels. If we become familiar with God’s design for His Body, through His Word and His Spirit, we are able to recognize and respect other parts of His Body, without using denominational labels. Another aspect of body life is that we don’t normally tell an arm to remain motionless and inactive. We give freedom for that arm to respond spontaneously, as it is led by the head. By allowing an arm to act as an arm, there is greater ability and a continual flow of healthy life.  In contrast,  consider the disadvantage of wearing a sling or a cast on an arm. A hand must work as a hand, freely moving in its designated  purpose, and should not be required to act as a foot, or worse yet, to be made  immobile.  As each body part acts in its own diversity of function, there is a higher purposeful, efficiency for the whole body.

The same is so with His Body. There is diversity of gifts, callings, and ministry emphasis, within the Body of Christ, given by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  There are parts of His Body focused on healing, deliverance, and miracles. Some parts of the Body deal with prophecy, wisdom, knowledge ministry, declaring His truth as revealed by His Spirit and His Word. Others are all about teaching, evangelizing and preaching. There are those called to revival awakening, prayer, tongues, faith and worship while other parts of the Body are serving, ministering, giving and providing. Each part of the Body of Christ should have respect.  Yes, there may be overlapping assignments, like you use your toes to pick a sock up off the floor, but it is your hand that you predominately use for picking up and carrying. In like manner, we all need to pray, but some parts of the Body of Christ are set apart for intercessory prayer as their main focus.

By trusting Jesus, our Head, and as His Holy Spirit flows through us, we can freely allow each part of the Body of Christ to work in the distinct function and purpose designed by God.

Each local assembled Body of Christ needs to have fully functioning Body parts  to be able to act in vital roles for His Kingdom life.  Denominational labels tend to restrict certain parts of the Body, depending on their viewpoint and interpretation of God’s Word. Removing those denominational restrictions allows  greater freedom for the Holy Spirit to tell an arm, a foot and a back, in that particular assembled Body of Church, how to move and flow in God’s ordained purpose. Also, when labels are removed, the tendency to only use certain parts is diminished.  Jesus did not recognize or approve of  denominational labels or division among the members of His Body. He desires whole Body Life.

   Jesus Forbids Sectarianism

Mark 9:38-41(NKJV) 38 Now John answered Him, saying, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.”39 But Jesus said, “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. 40 For he who is not against us is on our side. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.

Several years ago, I took off a denominational label, one that I had worn since childhood. It was not an easy thing to do. I was hesitant to give up what I perceived to be a comforting place in a denominational position. But God opened by eyes to understand a little more clearly His Body design. Now I am able to look at the Body of Christ, as a whole. It is far more satisfying to embrace  a complete and healthy Body, with all the parts visibly active. Removing that label has freed me to love more, and to love more of His people.

As we face increasing tension, turbulence and stress in our world, this is surely not the time for the Body of Christ to be dismembered and divided. We need to line up under our Head, with all parts in action. A whole Body displays a larger reflection of His love, peace and grace, and a greater salt value to the world.  We can’t afford to face the future as a maimed Body, wounded by amputation. The Holy Spirit is able to heal, make whole, and unify the Body of Christ…we just need to listen and obey Him.

I’ve included a link to an amazing story about a friend from Russia. You will be greatly moved by this true story, and what happened to her body, physically and spiritually.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVZgYvfBFDk

connecting, with love

Donna

Getting personal about my Father


Yep, this is my dad and me, circa 1956.  No doubt, I loved my Daddy, and still do. Even though I could dwell on the love and blessings I received from both of my parents,  for now,  I want to focus on Dad.  Mom is definitely another blog!  Dad was my problem solver, fixer of broken toys, and source of answers for all my questions. Believe you me, I had some very interesting and tough questions!  He never lied to me, or made me feel I had asked a silly question,  nor did he ever hedge around the truth. He was straight forward and unfazed by my questions.  He wasn’t always able to come up with a solution or a ready answer. I know, because of work and other commitments in life, it wasn’t humanly possible for him to have always been there,  but my memory testifies of his willingness and availability to help me every time I expressed a need, and after all, memories are like a library, with shelves for the realities of our past.

Not only was Dad my problem solver, he was, and still is, fun to be with. We have family videos of me running to jump into his arms, leaping in faith, knowing he would always catch me. Those videos also recorded Dad swinging me around and around in fast circles, my face full of assurance in the strength of his hold on me. He did this neat trick of mysteriously causing his wedding ring to disappear and then reappear in my ear. He was, and remains, a competitive card player, but with lots of humor. Whenever he faces the possibility of having a big loss during a card game, he is known to calmly declare to his opponent, “I got you just where I want you”.

He helped me through scores of homework assignments and those dreaded science fair projects with resourcefulness and enthusiasm. He taught me how to ride a bike (I remember seriously damaging an azalea bush in the process of learning to apply the bike’s brakes) and how to drive a car (fortunately I didn’t have to run into an azalea bush, or anything else, while learning about car brakes). My appreciation for reading books,  beautiful scenery and music came through his influence. I loved listening to him whistle a tune from time to time during the day, and still appreciate his happy whistling, to this day. He loved to dance with Mom.  He didn’t hesitate when it was time to sing. I will always associate Old Spice aftershave with a loving hug from my Dad.

The benefits I gained from being the daughter of this wonderful man are many. To name a few, by Dad’s example, I learned the importance of prayer, and matter of factually accepted the reality of conversation between God and His children.  Dad continues to have an active prayer life at the age of 86. He studied and believed God’s word, encouraging me to do the same. He made me feel safe, protected and well cared for. I have never doubted that he loves and accepts me, even if I make a mistake or am not perfect. Trust and love have been easy to experience, and to give. The security Dad enforced around us gave chase to fears.  I was taught to appreciate  values like respect, honor, responsibility, dignity, consideration and generosity. Dad’s loyalty and devotion to Mom, and us kids, taught me about stable, loving family life. Dad loved talking about God and I still enjoy frequent conversations with him about God’s goodness. Whatever he said, I believed, because he never attempted to mislead me.

Bottom line, I first believed and trusted my Dad, and then as the Holy Spirit led, was able to easily believe and trust my Heavenly Father. Because Dad is a human father, he isn’t perfect, and mistakes were made,  but he has accomplished, by the help of the Lord, the tasks assigned to him as a husband and father.

 Along with Dad, I have studied examples of other good fathers, and I have observed these common traits:
  •  blesses
  •  loves unconditionally
  •  instructs
  • respects
  •  guides and warns
  •  trains
  •  rebukes for corrections, but does not provoke to anger
  •  nourishes and supplies needs
  •  protects
  • encourages and enables
  • knows how to communicate with kindness, while being firm and consistent
  • examples right living
  • speaks with honestly and keeps promises
  • joyful and hopeful
  • spends time with family
  • wise

Whether you enjoyed a good father-child relationship, and reaped the benefits, or you missed out, for whatever varied reasons there are, the Great Equalizer, Jesus Christ, levels the playing field among us. In the Kingdom of God, which Jesus made available to all willing to receive it, we are offered the privilege of adoption into the family of God, the blessing of becoming beloved sons and daughters of the King of Kings. He shows no favoritism. His love is offered freely to all, but must be received by trusting Him.  He is worthy of trust because He is not a fickle God.  What He says He is, is Who He is. There is no deception in His heart. His Word says He is good, and it is so. Some of us may have jumped into the blessings of this divine adoption more readily than others because a good father-child experience caused us to hear the call of the Holy Spirit more clearly. However, we all have the opportunity to experience that same wonderful relationship with our Heavenly Father, and to know a Father’s love that always seeks our best interest.

He calls to all, but many avoid, or are intimidated and fearful of a relationship with a father figure because of past pain. News headlines decry the abuse done within the church, in schools and homes, as leadership has corrupted God given authority by walking in a maligned image of a father figure.  Some, because of  a damaged perception of God refuse to seek Him. When we receive this gift of adoption, by accepting the salvation and Holy Spirit of Jesus, all that is damaged or missing is restored.  God offers healing for crippled emotions caused by painful relationships.

Ephesians 1:3-6 (The Message)

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

If you struggle with faith in an Invisible Father, seek His Word to discover the reality of Who He is, and the goodness of  His Heart. It is revealed from Genesis to Revelation in His love letter called the Bible.  Don’t rely on chopped up portions of scripture to guide your understanding and don’t settle for hearsay,  half truths, misrepresentations or distortions of God’s character. His complete Word and His unrestricted Holy Spirit will guide you to the Truth, and will dispel any confusion.

My Heavenly Father has proven Himself over and over, year after year, decade after decade, to be my Forever Faithful Father. Memories of past encounters, and new daily experiences with Him,  testify of His perfection.  Life worth living is when we fully accept His love, and then through His love, experience the freedom to love fully.

connecting, with love

Donna