Altogether Lovely

The greatest change that Jesus brought to this world is the presence of  Himself, and what He offers to every man, woman and child.  Only through His Holy Spirit are we able to comprehend just how lovely, how beautiful He is. The  magnitude of His glory and loveliness is expressed through His revealed names found in scripture. I want to share a few of His marvelous names. The quotes are from a devotional entitled The Wonderful Names of Our Wonderful Lord by Charles E. Hurlburt and T.C. Horton, a classic that has been in print for nearly a century.

I recently visited a glass blower’s shop and was fascinated by the lovely glass work. I’m including photos of the glass art in this post. As the glass blower demonstrated his work, I saw an analogy to the beauty that can come from us through the beauty of Jesus within us, as we walk in the power of His names.

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Altogether Lovely

His mouth is most sweet: yea He is altogether lovely. Song of Solomon 5:16

Every earthly joy will pall,

Every earthly friend will fall.

Only Christ is to the end

“Altogether Lovely,” Friend.

Do you see His wondrous face?

Full of glory, love and grace?

Look, and all thy need confess,

Worship His pure Holiness.

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The Brightness of His Glory

Who being the brightness of His Glory  Hebrews 1:3

Do you want to visualize the glory of God? Then gaze upon Jesus Christ. When we see Him, we see God, for He is God. Oh, the marvel of the Godhead! …

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A Sweet-Smelling Savor

And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given Himself…for a sweet-smelling savor. Ephesians 5:2

When Christ laid down His life on the cross what a perfume went up to God – the perfume from the sacrifice of His Son! Has the perfume of the cross yet reached you? It reached heaven. Has the love of God, as manifested in the sacrifice of His Son, mastered you? Our Father, forgive us that we have been so unmindful of the wonders of Thy love. May its perfume pervade our lives, and through us, the lives of others. Amen.

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The Unspeakable Gift

Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15 (ASV)

…There was no treasure which God could give comparable to the gift of His Son, and “Having given us His Son, will He not with Him freely give us all things?”  How could it be possible that the Father would give to sinners the Son of His Love?  How we ought to love Him! Is there anything we have or are that we would withhold from Him? Loving Lord, help us to sense in a new way what it means for us to possess Thee, the unspeakable Gift. Amen,

May Jesus, and all that His names represent about Him, be fresh in our hearts for the days ahead. I hope and pray you and your family are blessed this Christmas season with awe for the beauty of 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

Love = Freedom


One who loves is borne on wings; he runs, and is filled with joy; he is free and unrestricted. He gives all to receive all, and he has all in all; for beyond all things he rest in the One highest thing, from Whom streams all that is good. ”            Thomas a Kempis

(Had this blog ready to go last night, then woke up with a new direction! 🙂  Pressing on with the new approach!)

Paraphrasing John 8:31, after explaining to those who believed in Him, that if they abide in His Word, hold fast to His teaching and live in accordance with them, then they will truly be His disciples, Jesus made this statement “And you will know the Truth and the Truth will set you free” John 8: 32

Free – freedom.  Americans use these words quite often, and now more than ever.  Because of  current news events, which are so dramatically impacting our nation, and the world, the issues of freedom have taken center stage.

The Body of Christ faces many challenges as we try to interpret what the church must be, or do with these varies issues concerning freedom. We are being pressed to examine  our beliefs.  What do we stand for, how do we stand, what is allowed, what is not, are we to be a political activist or a praying pacifist,  are we to be vocal, or to be silent?  My thoughts about how to react to these challenges are irrelevant, because ultimately we must hear from the Holy Spirit as we live out this life, to receive His direction and wisdom, and then to follow through in obedience, no matter what that may involve.  The history of the church is entwined with the lives of martyrs, reformers, prayer warriors, gospel sharers and healers. Only when we know His will, individually and corporately, can we make those difficult decisions, living out our lives, “being” as He calls us to be, “doing” as  He instructs us to do, and waiting in His peace for His approaching second coming.

This better way brings me to my point. We the church must first focus on the freedom that is guaranteed to every disciple of the Lord, through Jesus Christ. In recent months, the Holy Spirit has been revealing new insight about this freedom that He gives, that none can take away. 

This is a partial list of  freedom gifts. There is much more for me to learn. It is the desire of my heart to walk in this freedom everyday of my life, and for the Body of Christ, as a whole, to rest in the assurance that whatever may happen in our nation and our world, His Body, those that are His disciples, will always have this freedom.  Remind yourself of what Jesus said in the above quote from John 8: 31 -32, to define His true disciples. Only when we know the Truth….note the capital letter to indicate Jesus, our Truth….can we lay claim to this precious freedom. To be infused and immersed in His Holy Spirit is to experience this freedom.

  • Freedom to love…..and the joy of being freed by love
  • Freedom to love even when hurt, misunderstood or unappreciated and freedom to love those I would not naturally choose to love
  • Freedom to receive forgiveness ….and the freedom to forgive
  • Freedom to drink in grace without limit …..and the freedom to release grace to all
  • Freedom to speak, accept, expect and live out His truth
  • Freedom to receive mercy for myself daily, hourly, each minute….and the freedom to extend mercy without thought as to who deserves it
  • Freedom to understand I don’t understand His mercy…it’s not human
  • Freedom from judgement from others, and against others
  • Freedom to walk in Godly discernment and wisdom, anytime, anyplace
  • Freedom to expect to live circumspectly and holy, knowing the Holy Spirit within me is able to accomplish this
  • Freedom to expect His ability to help me cope, endure and have victory over disturbance that enter my days
  • Freedom to trust He is working to mature and perfect me, and free to be patient as He works this out, in His time and in His way
  • Freedom to have confidence in knowing when to speak, how to speak, what to say and when to be quiet
  • Freedom to be graced and forgiven when I stumble, fall or fail
  • Freedom to meet anyone, anytime, and see them with His eyes and not just my own
  • Freedom from fear…period! No matter where it originates!
  • Freedom to live in His joy, favor and blessing each day
  • Freedom to bless others..in word and deed
  • Freedom to know the speed of His answer when I call on Him, and the freedom to wait with confidence when He delays
  • Freedom to know all things will eventually work to the good for those that love Him
  • Freedom to expect the manifestation of His power to be a norm in my life
  • Freedom from worry
  • Freedom from want
  • Freedom from defeat at the hand of the enemy, sin, self, and the world, albeit it be physical, emotional, financial, mental, or spiritual
  • Freedom to relish His heart of redemption..always, eternal and everlasting
  • Freedom to anticipate and expect His willingness to bless
  • Freedom to gain understanding as the Holy Spirit teaches
  • Freedom to expect the aging process of my life to be uplifted by His promises of strength, continued fruit bearing, and spiritual vitality
  • Freedom to know Jesus is the Author and Finisher of my faith..and I am freed from trying to make it happen
  • Freedom from the burden of failures from my past, and freedom to expect renewal, restoration and redemption  from Him always
  • Freedom to see His kingdom come, His will be done

This is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and I would appreciate hearing from you about your insights in His freedom. If our focus is on what we have, it will benefit what we do not have.

connecting with you,  in love

Donna