It Is Well With My soul

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Have you ever been in God’s waiting room? I am in the process of waiting for my new book, The Covenant Keeper to be printed. Because of technical difficulties, it has been a long process. However, that is not the only “waiting” I am doing.

It just seems many things in my life are shifting. I have heard the Lord speak about a new season, a new direction and my heart has said yes to His nudging. This means I have pulled back from some of our usual meetings and am waiting for the new thing.

Waiting…. Waiting… Waiting… Waiting for the new. As one friend put it, “You are in the waiting hall of the Lord. One door has closed and the new door has not opened as yet. And so you wait….”

This morning as I was “waiting on the Lord” I heard him ask me, “Is it well with your soul today?” I stopped for a moment to take inventory. Did I feel peace? Anxiety? Fear? Joy? After checking, I realized that yes, it is well with my soul.

You see, God’s waiting hall is not a place of emptiness where nothing is taking place. It is a place of preparation, of taking off the old clothes of the old season and being ready for the new outfits, the new mantles of the new season. A place to stop, take inventory, and learn to trust Him all over again for the new.

Earlier this week I felt anxiety over several things. I knew I was still in that waiting hall and I wanted out! Yard work to be complete, emails to answer, projects to complete, the book, the ministry, my life. And why were my new flowers dying, for heaven’s sake! I was ready to move forward. Ready for the new door to open. Yet, there was nothing I could do but wait. After venting all of this to my long-suffering husband, I realized the things that caused me to feel the most anxious were the things I could not control. After a few frustrated tears, His peace came and BJ was quite relieved. (BJ did buy me some new ferns to replace the dead flowers.)

 

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THANKS, HONEY!

 

This morning my prayer was, “Father, why was I so anxious earlier this week?”

His answer, “Look at your flower beds.”

That was a strange reply. Then I noted that all of my flower beds had distinct borders. Gently the Lord spoke, “You don’t enjoy flowers that might get outside of the borders. That would feel out of control to you. And neither do you like for circumstances in your life to be out of control, outside of the borders you have created in your heart or mind.” Ouch! I began to see the earlier anxiety had come from situations in which I was not in control. My children’s choices, the publication date of my book, our ministry, and so many other projects. I realized, yet again, that in order to walk in peace I had to learn a new level of trust. This is a lesson I have walked out over and over and over again but one I frequently forget.

Trust. Simple trust in the most trustworthy one of all. My Father.

So in taking inventory this morning, I smiled and said, “Yes, I trust you all over again. You have never failed me and you won’t start now. It is well with my soul.”

Will this next season require swimsuits or snowshoes? I don’t know, but I do know my Father is preparing me for either one as I wait in His waiting hall. Whenever the new door opens it will be the right door, the right time and I will be ready. Yes, “It is well with my soul.”

 

Trust. No Borders. My Next Room?

Spring!

The first thing the Lord did when He created man was to place him in a garden. So many times Jesus spoke of farmers, crops, and flowers. One of my favorite scriptures is from Matt. 6: 28-29“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

 

I have been quite busy working in my garden and loving every minute. There is something about digging in the dirt that brings fulfillment to my heart and fullness to my soul. Psalm 23 that states, “He restores my soul.” For me, one of the best ways for my soul to be restored is to have dirt under my fingernails. Last year was such a busy year for us and by the end of 2017 I was quite burned out. I seemed to have lost the joy of everyday life. Talk about a dry spell. So the Lord in His mercy has had me to pull way back on many things, re-evaluate everything I was doing in ministry and just rest. No, not sleeping, but finding rest for my soul.

How would the Lord restore my soul? My body was fine. My spirit seemed to be in touch with the Holy Spirit. But my soul? Dry, tired, no joy and even a feeling of sadness. I needed restoration.

Matt. 11:28-30. Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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I began to ask, “Lord, how do I walk with you, how do you do it?” I thought I needed to be at every meeting, in touch with every person I knew, take care of all the problems of my children (ouch!) and the list goes on! Talk about two big issues.

Number one: Who is in control? I quickly discovered it was not me!

Number two: I had a big case of FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out!!!

As I surrendered Number One to the Lord and am learning to release others to him and to say “No” to other things, BJ is still traveling to many meetings and prayer assignments. I am staying home, planting flowers, digging in the dirt.

The second one seemed to be a little more difficult. I had a big case of the “what if’s.” What if no one remembers me? What if I miss out on the Big Thing? What if everyone is there…. And no one misses me? You see, we all want to be invited to the party! No one likes to be left out.

And guess what? Most everything, all the meetings, went right along without me just fine. Does that mean I’m done, not important? Not at all. You see I have found peace working in my garden. The Master Gardner is right there with me, enjoying the beauty He created and I help to grow.

When the time comes, if it comes, I will be back out there, going and doing. But my prayer is that I will be wiser than before, I will pray to hear if I am to go or to stay.

If I go, he will direct me, I will walk in joy and fellowship with others and love the busyness of it all, especially the opportunity to teach, share and pray with others.

If He says stay, I will be content to stay, be quiet and be still and KNOW that He is God. You see, that is where my soul will be restored. That is where I will find his rest. That is where I will find Him: In the garden looking, smelling and enjoying the lilies. I will be walking in the unforced rhythms of His grace. In my garden.

 

 

We Three Kings/Wise Men Still Seek Him

 

This Hymn always causes me to stop, ponder and realize that the joy of Christmas brings the sacrifice of the cross. Just reading the verses says it all, proclaiming the fullness his purpose. As you read the first four verses, there is a heaviness as you realize he came as a sacrifice.

  1. We Three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts, we traverse so far
  2. Gold to crown him a King-Over us to reign
  3. Frankincense to declare his deity as our God-Worship him, God on high
  4. Myrrh, a bitter perfume to anoint him for burial-Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying

The verse ends with the words “Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold-tomb.”

Several years ago I wrote a blog called “Sunday’s comin!” The first four verses of this Carol feel like Friday night- sealed in a stone cold-tomb.

But the carol doesn’t end here. NO! there is more. Oh! the joy of singing the last verse.  Sunday’s coming!

Verse five:

Glorious now behold him arise!

King, and God and Sacrifice!

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Earth to heaven replies.

Yes! Hallelujah to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Passover lamb, the Risen Savior and Prince of Peace

This Christmas be like the wise men of old. Seek him, worship him and proclaim his Glory!

 

 

Mary, Did you Know?

 

Oh! The joyous sound of carolers singing the familiar songs of the past. Some written hundreds of years ago and others written within the past few years. All proclaiming the miracle of the ages: the entrance of the infinite King of Kings, God himself, into our finite sinful world.

He chose two young, innocent regular people like us to usher him into this life. Mary and Joseph.

What were they thinking when the Holy Spirit informed them of this unique, supernatural event that was to take place? Fear? Excitement? What we do know for sure is that they were humble and very obedient and after the angel’s visit to Joseph it seemed they never wavered.

As a mother I know what it is like to look into the sweet face of your newborn. The wonder. The joy. This tiny innocent face so precious. I’m sure Mary felt the same as most all mothers feel at that intimate moment. Love. Joy. Peace.

Then shepherds arrived, telling of the angel’s visit and proclamations! Knowing the circumstances surrounding her pregnancy and his birth, what were her thoughts? Did she and Joseph discuss all of these strange, wonderful events?

This newer carol has captured my heart, describing these first moments of his arrival into our cold, dark world.

Take a few moments today to listen to this song. Let these words take you back to that cave 2000 years ago and stand in wonder and worship of the child born that night.

“Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s city. This is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:11-12. GW translation)

 

 

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Why Bethlehem, the Redeemer City?

Jehovah had spent four thousand years preparing, creating, and setting the stage for this moment in history. It is totally amazing to see how it all came together in a tiny little hamlet called Bethlehem.

Judah’s tribe was known as the redemption tribe because of the law of the kinsman redeemer. This law was initiated when a husband died and left his widow with no children. This law stated the nearest male relative would marry the widow to provide an inheritance for her and also to carry on the dead man’s name. Through a series of events found in Genesis 38, Judah’s tribe originated based upon this law.

Moving along the family line, 1 Chron. 2:51 tells us, Salmon, of the redeemer tribe of Judah, married Rahab, the courageous woman of Jericho, and was the father of Bethlehem. It was in Bethlehem where Boaz, son of Rahab, married Ruth to redeem the inheritance of her dead husband and Bethlehem became known as the redemption city. King David and Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, were both from Bethlehem of the bloodline of Judah.

And Bethlehem, meaning the “house of bread” was and still is known for its delicious bread. In the house of bread, the Bread of Life was born.

Not only was this the land of the redemption tribe of Judah, in the redemption city of Bethlehem, but it was also the place where the sacrificial lambs for the Temple were born. It was necessary for Jesus, our Passover Lamb, to be born in the redeemer city of Bethlehem, known as the house of bread, in the redeemer land of Judah of the bloodline of the redeemer tribe of Judah.

“Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David (Bethlehem) a Savior (Redeemer), who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11 NKJV)

Again, why Bethlehem? Of course Bethlehem! No other place in the earth could have received the Savior of the world, the Redeemer, the Passover Lamb.

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O Little Town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven
No ear may hear His coming
But in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still
The dear Christ enters in

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel

Songwriters: Jeremy Michael Lubbock / Pierre Marchand / Sarah Mclachlan. © The Bicycle Music Company

GOD AND MAN AT TABLE

God Incarnate

As I sat at the piano, playing and singing some Christmas carols, another song came to my heart. This is traditionally a song sung for times of communion, the Lord’s Supper, in a corporate gathering. Brother Bob Stamps, then chaplain of ORU with assistance from David Stearman, composed this song back in the ‘70’s during our time at ORU. Gazing at the nativity figures on my piano I had never considered this as a Christmas song, yet it totally expressed the meaning of the birth of Jesus. His birth opened the door for everyone to come: shepherds, kings, wise men and women. My brother-in-law used to say “The ground is level at the foot of the cross with a sign that says ‘whosoever will may come.”

All are welcome, shepherds and kings

GOD AND MAN AT TABLE

by Dr. Robert J.(Brother Bob) Stamps

O, welcome, all ye noble saints of old                                                        As now before your very eyes unfold                                                    The wonders all so long ago foretold.                                                     God and Man at table are sat down

 Elders, martyrs, all are falling down;                                           Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round.                                         What angels longed to see now man has found:                                  God and man at table are sat down.

Who is this who spreads the vic’try feast?                                        Who is this who makes our warring cease?                                     Jesus, Risen Savior, Prince of Peace.                                                     God and man at table are sat down.

Beggars, lame, and harlots also here;                                        Repentant publicans are drawing near.                                    Wayward sons come home without a fear.                                        God and man at table are sat down.

Worship in the presence of the Lord                                                   With joyful songs and hearts in one accord.                                        And let our Host at table be adored.                                                       God and man at table are sat down.

When at last this earth shall pass away,                                           When Jesus and his Bride are one to stay,                                            The feast of love is just begun that day.                                               God and man at table are sat down.

 

 

God and Man at Table are Sat Down

Take a moment this Christmas.

Stop and Breathe. Share Communion.

After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about?

(copyright Song Solutions, UK/Eire and Capitol CMG Publishing, USA.)

 

 

 

Silent Night

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It’s Christmas and my cups are out! Can’t help but smile when you sip hot coffee from a cheerful Christmas mug. This year as part of my own devotion I plan to read a Christmas carol each day. The words are so rich, and I don’t want to miss the message behind the words. Often they were composed with a specific purpose, other times written from a moving experience of the heart, but they always tell the story of salvation in the language of music. Who doesn’t get teary eyes watching little boys in bath robes and sweet little girls with crooked halos singing “Away in a Manger.”

Today the song on my heart is Silent Night. Most of us know the story of the broken organ in a small Austrian village. Joseph Mohr, the priest, had just watched a troupe of traveling actors present the nativity play and his heart was deeply moved. Rather than going home he walked in hushed silence to a hill overlooking the little village. His heart swelled as he reflected on the birth of the Messiah in the stillness of the snowy evening. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Could he visualize the events that quietly took place so long ago in another small villiage in Israel? In Bethlehem? “Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild.”

Suddenly that tranquil night was filled with light and angels! “Shepherds quake at the sight!”

The next day he shared this moment and poem with his friend and fellow priest, Franz Gruber. Franz composed a simple melody on the guitar and Silent Night was sung in the tiny little villiage of Oberndorf, Austria, at midnight on Christmas Eve.

Silent Night

By Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber

Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.

Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!

Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

 

Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star lend thy light;
With the Angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

The first verse ends with “sleep in heavenly peace.” I hope today you will sing all of the verses to this beautiful carol and may you also sleep in heavenly peace, because he came.

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“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11 NKJV)