Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
 George Herbert
1593 - 1633

Bountiful. . . giving freely and generously; liberal; marked by abundance; plentiful; lavish; princely; munificent. The nature of the one who gives bountifully is loving, caring, giving, kind, sincere, and selfless. That description defies the root of human nature. But not God's. Our God is bountiful.

He pours into our lives and world liberal abundance.  He spiritually gives us everything we need to surge with growth in Jesus Christ.  And truly, God gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, God's most bountiful gift, freely to us.

So who can give legitimate argument to the goodness of God?  Who is so blind that God's handiwork is invisible or vague?  Who can stand against God's testimonies?  Who can deny His holiness?  Who is like our bountiful God?

No one can compare to Him!  He created the world and all life, and set eternity in order.  He framed creation with His lovingkindness, and He daily reveals His presence.  With each sunrise, God's voice announces His mercy.  With each sunset, our heavenly Father lovingly kisses the night with promise of tomorrow. 

Nature is a testimony of our Creator's sovereignty.  The beauty of the earth, the majesty of the heavens, the nobility of the eagle, the graceful stance of the deer, the sustenance of the seed, the yielding of bread from wheat and rye, the opening of the dogwood bloom in the spring, the closing of the evening primrose in the day, the fabric of DNA that gives form and distinction to our mortal bodies, and all other existence tell of God's glory!

Consider the breath of God.  His own breath is our channel of life.  The Hebrews referred to it as nâphach, meaning to inflate, blow hard, scatter, kindle.  God's breath makes us living souls, weak humans who must have the life of God within to kindle them and make them spiritually alive.  The "LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being" (Genesis 2:7).  God's own breath began human life.  Not just once in the beginning of creation, but later, too, with a new existence.

Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, breathed on his disciples so they would receive the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, our Compass, our Counselor.  Jesus "breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (John 20:22).  In his commentary notes, Matthew Henry states that during creation, Almighty God gave life to man, which began the old world.  And that when our Savior breathed on his disciples, He signified new life for a new world.

God created breath as a channel for life, both physically and spiritually.

God created living mortal beings of flesh and blood and weakness to demonstrate His Almighty glory!

God created the splendor of the seas, the majesty of mountains, the terror of tides, and the complex abilities of human beings combined with the possibilities of His earth's sources to point to God's greatness and goodness.

The intricate complexities of life and every living thing and the order of the universe speaks.  Whispers.  Proclaims.  Declares.  SHOUTS the truth of His name. 

He is El Shaddai, The All-Powerful God.  He is Elohim, The Creator, our Master Designer.  He is The Everlasting God, El Olam, our Eternal God.  He is the only God!  He is the only One, true God!

And our loving Creator of our world and our lives is not a clockmaker, who designed, created, and wound just to watch His creation work.  NO!!!  Our God is the Ancient of Days, active in past, present, and future, and He is Yahweh Rohi, The LORD is my Shepherd, who gives daily bread, holy compassion, and loving leadership, and divine provision to those Whom He loves, His own.

Praise Him!  Remember His Name!  Call on Him!  Believe in His Word!  Don't be fearful of speaking His truth and proclaiming Him as God! 

Declare Thanksgiving, 2009 your time to give your God glory and praise and honor.  Friends, He is our Source of all things!  All thanks we have to give, whether for family, friends, finances, church, country, health, home, and so many other blessings, are from our heavenly Father, Who delights in pouring good into our lives!

As you prepare your Thanksgiving meal, as you gaze upon your family and friends, as you go to your place at the table, remember your Lord of mercy.  Keep His goodness before you, and let an attitude of praise reign in your heart.  In doing so, your Thanksgiving holiday will be mightily blessed and remain as a testimony in your life each day.  Letting praise reign is a seed of a mighty tree that will, if watered and fed, grow and show abundant fruit. 

One small seed of determined worship is a beginning.  One small seed of praise can be the beginning of a great harvest.  Praise is the planting of bounty.  Let the seed of thanksgiving rule your heart and mind.  May this thankful time be the start of a new season of worship in you!  Your life will be spiritually bountiful, abundant, plentiful, for the only, true bountiful One will live and reign in you as true thanksgiving for Him lives in your heart and flows from your lips.

Scripture is from the NIV Bible.
Definition from
All research is from e-sword resources.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


"So surely as the stars are fashioned by His hands, and their orbits fixed by Him, so surely are our trials allotted to us: He has ordained their season and their place, their intensity and the effect they shall have upon us."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

"'That fearful sound of "fire" and "fire,"/Let no man know is my Desire.'" Her richly spoken words are numbing reality.   How well I remember first hearing those poetic phrases penned by Anne Bradstreet, initially learning  them in a college classroom.  I sat amazed as a non-traditional student who was in ignorance at the depth, honesty, intensity, and persuasion of a Puritan poet, whose out of abundance language brought life to page and truth to the journey of Christian living.

America's first woman poet poured many lyrical prayers and meditations of surrender and sacrifice.  In 1666, she lost all her material possessions to a devastating fire.  In 2000, one year after graduating from college, I had the privilege of reading and teaching her poetic verses of those losses to tenth graders.  I felt passionate about Anne's experience.  I wanted my students to share my passion and relate to her pain, to travel three centuries back with me to Anne's new world and connect with the soul-searching saga of one woman and her God.  To hear this woman's heartbeat and understand her godly affection and her influence in 17th century Amercia and our 21st century American life. 
In hearing her voice and heart, Anne Bradstreet became my heroine because of her faith in God and scriptural priorities.  Anne's courageous conclusion of "Upon the Burning of Our House" leaves me speechless each time I read it.  Breathless praise stills my soul when I walk with her on her voyage of private pain and sentiment to her letting-go of futility and grasping of holy, raw truth. Anne's godly take on life and loss bears hard in my soul, and it witnesses the fact of God's grace.  It is a grace for all us; yes, sweet friends, it is just as real now, in 2009, as it was in 1666. 
God is immutable.  He doesn't change.  His promises, his passions, his pleas for us are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Thus, Anne's words remain.  Their urgency and appeal still move us.  They are timeless.  They speak truth.  They know love.  They give hope. 

"The world no longer let me Love, My hope and Treasure lyes Above." 
I have read those last lines so many times, yet I never imagined they would have their own particular part in my life.   

Last Sunday afternoon, November 8, I kept Olivia and Ella, two of my grandchildren. Both my son, Steven, and his wife had to work, and I savored the opportunity to have a little grandma time with the two little sweethearts, whom we call Baby Doll and Ella-Bella. Their mom arrived about 5:00 pm to take them home. Raychelle, my daughter-in-law, and I and the babies were in my den. Mommy and I were getting babies ready to go when suddenly we heard a terribly loud sound, like a gun or explosion.
We immediately and quickly moved toward the back door, opened it, and inhaled a noxious fume that had already saturated our screened porch and carport, where Raychelle had parked her car. Her engine had exploded, and flames were already licking their way toward our roof. We dared not approach our porch, which was engulfed with dense smoke. Rather, we grabbed the babies and the phone and quickly ran toward the opposite end of the house and out our front door.

Countless calls, copious words of comfort, two crying babies, and five fire trucks later, the drama ended. And its ending began a new adventure of awestruck, broken gratefulness to God for sparing the lives of Raychelle, Olivia, and Ella. The imaginations and discussions with family and friends have centered around God's mercy and grace. Two minutes later, Raychelle, Olivia, and Ella would have been in the car on their way home. My spirit is shaken with thoughts of those possibilities, but my spirit soars with gratitude for God's lovingkindness that spared our grief, and please believe me, words are really, really inadequate, but their inadequacy has not stopped my effortless giving of thanks.
Just as the explosive BOOM travelled beyond our home to surrounding neighbors, bringing sudden jolt and concern to all of us, I have been symbolically exploded from normal, day-to-day living into a sudden, compulsory journey of soul-moving praise and soul-searching surrender!

We have had some losses. I count them now as nothing.  They are replacable. Just things made out of elements of this unholy earth that God will one day fold like a garment.

What is a carport, a porch, stuff in an attic, insulation, smoke-damaged sofas and chairs and curtains and linens, and water-damaged wood? What are sooty-smelling clothes, quilts, books, lampshades, and carpet? Really, what are they?

What is it to be a little discomforted and inconvenienced?  What is to stand with your family and feel the shock of now and the wonder of tomorrow?  What is it to seek temporary stay?  What is a real home?
And what does it mean to be real and give everything we own to Jesus?  To put into perspective worldy elements that are at one momen material gifts from God and the next moment worthless gifts to Him?  What is annoying about picking up a lace garment so delicately formed, and tediously woven, one of many that was freshly laundered with particular care, but now reeks with toxic fumes and an oily pine scent meant to mask nasty smoke?  
By God's grace alone, his unmerited favor, his worthy, divine intervention for our unworthy, weak, fleshy abilities, everything, all of it, means rejoicing for what is new.  The passing, departing, of one frame of reference to a new point of vision.  A welcomed opportunity for a more certain path of this Christian life that can be obscurely bright - i.e., dim of understanding, yet oh so light with promise.  A possibility of looking behind at less and looking forward to grasp more.  A newer appreciation of God's mercy and grace, which I must have in volumes every moment of every day of my pilgrim life. 
From the perspective of limited loss (things could be much, much, worse), it feels pretty good to be inadequate, and though I'm living in the neighborhood of faith versus reason, my spirit is striving to soar with the uncomplicated truth that not understanding my entire life is absolutely OK.  What freedom there is in that one Biblical truth!

Do I need prayer?  Sure, I do.  Always!  But, please rejoice with me, too, for out of darkness comes light!    What Satan means for our discouragement and demise, God means for our good in Christ.  Hallelujah!  Friends, that is shouting ground! 
Sunday night after Steven, Raychelle, and babies were safe at home and Jeff and I were safe in a hotel, I went to the bathroom to get ready for bed.  For a few moments, the significance of everything rushed in like a flood.  The tears flowed as I thought of God's salvation and our unworthiness of his gift.  To be honest, my immediate reaction to the trauma had been quiet. I was speechless and just did not want to talk.  But the awareness of God's hand could not quench my praise and the knowledge of our near true losses were overwhelming to realize.
Thank God for his deliverance and salvation!  Thank God for his divine intervention!  Thank God for his provision and power!  And thank God for you, and I pray that as you ponder these words, he will move in and through your life with his mighty anointing and the reality of his love and lordship!  So many of you have been through and are going through hardships.  As I write, I am moved by your courage and victory as you face illness, family difficulites, lost loved ones, financial discouragements, depression, fear, death, and on and on. 
Please hear my heart.  God loves you.  And, he is at work to prove what is good and holy and acceptable in your relationship with him.  Jesus reigns!!!  Not just in heaven.  No, Christ reigns in your heart and life!  Within you is his kingdom!

And he hears your heart today.  He Who formed your heart knows the depths of it.  He Who formed your life knows the purpose of it.  The Lord, our omniscient Creator, knows your way.  And if that way is too narrow, or steep, or rocky, or unstable, or dark, or whatever, our God will deliver you and set your free! Beloved, may God bless you and reveal to you now and forever his everlasting love for you.   

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23, NIV).

Below are images of God's divine intervention from last Sunday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


"Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul."

Henry Ward Beecher

"Tha-nk yooou." Southern charm slipped through her lips like sweet tea through a sieve. The beautiful inflections in her little lady's voice were rich with heritage. I listened closely, as her dear, expressive style traveled two doors down the hospital hallway to my room, where I was waiting for outpatient surgery. Time seems suspended when expecting that trip down hospital corridors into the bright, cold, sterile operating room. The pause not only seems slow, but is slow, and the need for diversion moves one to find it wherever it's available.

An early spring day, five years ago, my husband and I found diversion in the elegance of an elderly Southern lady and her gentleman husband, who kept passing by our door, making trip after trip to please his little wife, who was also awaiting a medical procedure, with phone calls to family and questions for the nurses.
Though I could not see her, the precious belle made me smile and occupied my interest, and such occupation was much more enlivening than lying in an antiseptic environment, surveying ceiling tiles and equipment that I did not know about and did not want to know about.
What amused me most was not her accent, though. It was a very deep Southern drawl, which is not nearly as common in the modern South as it once was in past generations. And being born and raised in Georgia, it wasn't the first time I had heard long, drawn-out vowels, and, moreover I have been known to draw-out a vowel or two or three myself.

What impressed me was her perfected Southern charm and her insistence on showing tremendous appreciation for all things, whether simple or slightly stunning. She had me convinced that we were in the best hospital in the world with the best nurses and doctors to be found anywhere on earth right there in our very presence. And her silky, smooth, complementary nature was only surpassed by her courage and calm.

Two hours of listening and absorbing her heart and demeanor left me inspired. I hoped for such charm and genteelness. She was a for real steel magnolia! I didn't want to waste an opportunity to learn from a genuine Melanie Wilkes.
Now reflection has its true place in our lives. And with eventual hindsight, I had to get real! I was inspired by my memories of her spirit and poise, and though I would never forget her amazing likeness to gentle southern belles from old classic movies, I realized my thoughts had to run deeper than the grasping of a demeanor or the outward beauty of kindness or gracious, grateful living.

As a child of God, my grasping must reach toward a higher goal. A life of sincere thankfulness and merciful expression to God and others must be my deliberate hope and intentional prayer. The necessity of a pure, total, thorough, vocal, surrendered life of sincere gratitude for God, i.e. a heart of worship, must be my focused goal in life, for, as Jesus said, those who worship in spirit and truth are "the kind of worshipers the Father seeks" (John 4:23).

Let that truth sink in! God seeks worshipers! He is seeking worshipers who are for real. He wants our praise to be forthright, honest, sincere, and faithful. His Spirit seeks out those who honor Him and aren't ashamed to show it. Such was the case one day as Jesus walked the sandy soil toward Jerusalem, determined to pass through Samaria and Galilee.

The omniscient Christ knew He had an appointment in a tiny Samaritan village along the way. He knew ten needs awaited Him there. He had beheld their poverty. He had heard their calls. He was drawn to them by holy compassion.
But the dusty road seemed surely hopeless to the ten, whose weak bodies and inferiorities brought them daily wander, agony, and shame. Roaming around for relief and pity only brought the men taunting, humiliation, pain, and fatigue. The disease was dreadful. The separation from society unbearable. The strain of their voices reasonable, as the ten tired from crying, "Unclean, . . . unclean, . . . unclean." The lepers were cast-offs, rejects, failures. They stood as symbols of sin and not real men.

Nearing the village, Jesus saw their needy, snowy forms. And, . . . the ten saw Him. They knew His name. They knew of His power. They had heard of His miracles. He had healed the lame. Delivered from demons. Restored souls. Spoke divine authority. Raised the dead. Created new wine.

Now was their day. Now was their hour. Now was their moment of hope.

As Jesus drew nearer, the ten kept far away. They dared not approach. Yet, belief stayed in their spirits, surged through their souls, and finally, faith gave way to uplifted voices. They could hold their cries no longer. "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"

Christ looked at them. Spoke to them. Brought divine authority to them. Christ voiced the lepers' deliverance. "Go, show yourselves to the priests."
Then, . . . hope became visible. For as the men made their way to the priests, all were cleansed. Healed, by the Word and by their faith.
Ten faces fixed like granite toward their ordered destination, focused on their flawless forms.

Suddenly, one stopped in his way. He turned. The lone healed man perceived his wholeness. Eyed his transformation. He felt the freedom from pain past. He knew faith made new life. Knew "unclean" was no longer his name.

With loud praise, with voice of triumph, with legs of strength, with flawless, pure skin, the Samaritan ran to Jesus. And falling, casting himself at Christ's feet, that one raised his voice in glorious adoration, and thanked Jesus, Whose mercy gave him new complexion, Whose spoken words released an outcast from bondage, abandon, and torment.

Looking at the grateful man, Jesus simply replied, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any* found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?. . . Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well."

I do not know what happened to this grateful man, whose thanksgiving even now compels 21st century hearts to praise. Surely he showed himself to the priests. Then, perhaps, with a soul overwhelmed by God's glory, with new life, he forever testified of the Lord's mercy and the healing power of Jesus Christ. For, the grateful, healed man had a heart of worship, and his heart of worship led him to a personal encounter with the Lord. The one who stayed to give glory to God received a closer look at the Anointed One. His heart of worship and compulsion to praise brought him face to face with Jesus. How could he ever be the same again, when forever he remembered Jesus' piercing eyes of love and the Lord's personal notice of his heart of worship?

God loves a thankful heart! When you have a heart of thankfulness, God moves in your life and changes who you are. Why? Because a thankful heart moves the hand of God. Your honest praise reaches His heart. And your focus on His glory and adoration of Who He is, overcomes the fleshly focus of self and the world.

And as your thanksgiving increases, as your heart of worship grows, perspective of God and life deepens. What is truly important comes to light. You soon see that those little things you thought you needed really aren't so great after all. You soon know the truth of God's Own priorities for your life! And with His priorities in place, everything is new. His peace that passes human understanding becomes reality in you. Through your sincere praise, God escorts you to a walk of perfect peace.

Think for a moment about worshiping in spirit and truth (John 4:24). How can defeat overcome a heart of worship? It is impossible because a heart of worship, real worship, heartfelt thanksgiving, is a state of faith. Glorifying God with you words and with your life allows Him to reign within you. His ruling presence becomes your life's reality! And defeat and despair are incapable of standing in Christ's ruling presence!

"I love you, Lord. I praise you, Jesus, for Who you are and for how you are moving in my life. You are the only, one, true God! And, I thank you for being the great I Am and moving with power in my life."

Jesus sought the lepers to give them mercy and to show us His desire that we glorify Him, at all times, in all things. Dear friend, in every moment of your life "give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (I Thessalonians 5:18). God hungers to hear your praise!

Will you be that one who stops in the way, wonders at God's work, turns, falls at His feet, and gives glory and honor to Jesus? Will you be that one who takes the extra effort to find intimacy with Him is so worth the trip? Will you be that one to place worshiping God and having a grateful spirit above getting on with your life? Will you be that one who loves Him first and clings to Him most? Will you be that one to whom Jesus says, "Arise"?

*emphasis mine
The cleansing of the ten lepers is found in Luke 17:11-19.
All scripture is from NKJV and NIV.