Category Archives: Heavenly Minded

Different Perspectives

Different Perspectives

There we were; our intellects pitted against the artificial intelligence of a simple computer game, and we were temporarily on the losing side. Although my husband and I both enjoy computer games which require strategy, we are often confounded by them. It’s not that we lack smarts; there are just some things in life that are a bit more complex and harder to figure out –teenagers, for instance.

Still, it fascinates me the way that my husband and I, sitting at the same computer, playing the same game, always see things from an entirely different perspective. About the time I see a great strategic move, he does something completely unexpected, yet effective –and vice versa. Even so, we usually manage to conquer the game somehow.

I find the same principle holds true in everyday life. Some of the more complicated decisions require effective strategy, yet my husband and I often approach the matter from different perspectives. It is amazing how uniquely God has created each of us. And yet, we can work quite well together and achieve the same goals quite effectively.

And the same holds true for the body of Christ. We are all working together for the same purpose, which is sharing the gospel with those who are lost and perishing. Given the vast number of denominations, and their differing outreaches, it is obvious that we are all approaching this great commission with very different perspectives. And there is nothing wrong with that, so long as we are not breaching God’s commandments; because reaching the lost, not being an easy task to accomplish, often requires diverse strategies.

Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying, as do many deceived individuals, that all roads lead to Heaven. Absolutely not! There is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus Christ: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). However, we must always remember that our battle is with evil, spiritual, forces and not with each other. Besides, we may be pleasantly surprised to find that another’s methods are far more effective than our own, even if they are quite dissimilar.

Finally, brethren, let us not forget Ephesians 4:2-6 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called- one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Normal People Worry Me

Adorning my refrigerator is a rather large magnet that reads: Normal People Worry Me! I’ve told my closest friends they have no cause for concern, though, because there’s hardly a normal one in the bunch. Still, despite the lighthearted jest, I do believe that being abnormal is, in today’s world, a good thing, because the LORD doesn’t care for “normal” either.

How can we know this?  Obviously, the LORD doesn’t rely on magnets to make His thoughts known, but He has certainly given us His word, wherein, He speaks of His children thus:

For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself… (Deuteronomy 14:2)

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Titus 2:14).

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people… (Exodus 19:5).

The word peculiar, in both Hebrew and Greek, has the same meaning; something that is uncommon, set-apart and very valuable. Quite the opposite, normal denotes that which is common or ordinary.  Hence, when looking back on my adolescent years, I find it humorous how often I then  lamented that, “I just want to be normal.”

Presently, normal is the last thing I want to be.  Which brings me back to the aforementioned magnet; whenever I see that humorous little phrase, “Normal People Worry Me,”  I sometimes take a moment to ask myself if my witness, as a believer, is commonplace and ordinary. After all, each of our lives, like a refrigerator magnet, clearly displays a message.

Dear reader,what message does your life display? Is it “peculiar” enough that people take notice of the LORD, whose ambassador you are. Or, is your life so normal, your Christian witness so common, that the world simply overlooks it?

It’s your choice, you can either blend into the world effortlessly, or you can choose to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (I Peter 2:9).

Another Voice

This morning I awoke to the cheerful sound of a puppy barking. Pleasant as this was, I don’t have a puppy. I do, however, have a vivacious cockatiel that loves to entertain. Boaz has a whole repertoire of songs he likes to whistle, and sounds he likes to mimic.

Admittedly, there have been times that I have mistaken some of Boaz’s sounds for others, especially his imitation of the oven timer, which he has skillfully mastered. However, being bamboozled by a feathery friend is a far cry different than being deceived by an enemy. I would like to say that has never happened to me, but sadly, it has happened far too often.

This afternoon, I was reflecting on the ease by which a person can be deceived, when the following scripture came to mind:

And when he [Jesus] putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.   And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers (John 10:4,5).

The truth is, dear reader, that today’s culture tends to bombard each of us with all kinds of “voices” –voices which beckon us to turn this way or that; to do something, buy something, accept something. While most demand simple life decisions, all too many of those “voices” serve only to distract, or confuse us in our faith, if we aren’t careful. Sadly, in our present culture, what used to be black and white has slowly turned into varying shades of gray, and that which used to be absolute has become ambiguous, even in the church.

So how do we know where to draw the line? How can we, as Christians, be “culturally relevant” without weakening the foundations of our faith? It’s quite simple, really. As one of Christ’s sheep, we will know His voice. And if we purpose to listen to His voice daily, we won’t be duped into following another, nor will we be easily deceived by the adversary of our souls. I don’t know about you, but this brings me great comfort!

Running On Empty

I’m beginning to think my least favorite letter in the alphabet is E, but that’s only because I’ve seen it a bit too much lately. There I was, driving one of my kids to work in a vehicle that was parked in the driveway, emptied of gas by her sibling, yet again.

Oh, the frustrations of being a single car family –our second vehicle recently bit the dust– and oh the frustrations of realizing half-way where you need to be that you probably don’t have enough gas to get there. Fortunately, we weren’t going too far, and there was a gas station across the road from my daughter’s workplace.   Even though this was not my station of choice, I was able to drift there on fumes,  put a few dollars worth of gas in the tank. then drive to the preferred gas station and fill ‘er up. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

Truthfully, there are times, when my spiritual tank is on empty, that I only have time to pray briefly, putting just enough fuel in the tank to get me by until I can “fill ‘er up”– more often than I care to admit. At times like that I have to remind myself that Paul’s instruction to the Thessalonians to pray without ceasing, in  Greek, means to pray without intermission. Paul wasn’t speaking of super-lengthy prayers, nor was he speaking of praying every minute of every day; he was merely encouraging his brethren to pray frequently, never letting long gaps develop in their prayer life.

What about you, dear reader, do you ever feel like you are running on empty, and cannot find enough time to pray as long as you would like, for whatever reason? What we all need to remember is that it’s not so much the quantity of time spent in prayer that matters; it is the quality. Let us, therefore, make every minute count!

Like A Flood

Sometimes God calms the storm. Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.

This past weekend, the weather here was horrendous. We were hit with the whole gamut of storm threats, including tornadoes, hail and flooding. In fact the hail stone pictured –or should I say hail boulder- was one of many that pounded this region. There was quite a bit of property loss in our area, but praise the LORD, there were no serious injuries.

I thought of the second half of Isaiah 59:19: When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. However, the ancient Hebrew texts did not have commas, or paragraphs for that matter, so instead of reading:

When the enemy shall come in like a flood —the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him

the verse could just as easily read

When the enemy shall come in —like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

What’s the difference? The difference is where you place the emphasis. Dear reader, when you are bombarded with the storms of life, do you focus more on the storm, or on the one who can calm it?

It is only natural to feel completely overwhelmed at times. Undoubtedly, many of the folks here that lost their homes in the tornadoes felt that way. I’m sure they could relate to the words of King David did when he penned the following:

My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death have fallen on me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest.
I would hurry to my place of shelter,
far from the tempest and storm.
Psalm 55:4-8 NIV

But David didn’t stop there, allowing his situation to flood him with despair. Instead, he confidently proclaimed, “As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me” (verse 16).

Dear reader, I leave you with these encouraging words from the same Psalm; may they flood you with peace during your roughest storms.

“Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved (verse 22).

Spring Into Action

“I don’t like to play in the dirt,” a friend recently told me. Obviously, she doesn’t share my enthusiasm for gardening. While I certainly respect her position, I’m a country girl at heart, and take my grandmother’s words seriously that, “A little dirt never hurt anyone.” Now that it’s spring, I get to do a lot of ‘playing’ and I’m quite pleased about that.

In fact, I find the feel of rich, dark soil in my hands to be rather therapeutic. There is just something incredibly wonderful in knowing that vigorous new life will soon spring forth from it, and I will have had a hand in that. What’s more, I never cease to be amazed at the miracle of life –even the life of a tiny new plant.

Whenever I see a teeny seedling that has broken through the ground, I can’t help but marvel at how it assumes a posture of praise -tiny new leaves stretched heavenward towards the light. Then, all the time and effort I previously spent preparing the soil, and tending to the seed, is forgotten in the same way a mother’s labor pains vanish at the very moment she sees her newborn chid’s face.

I can’t help but think that our Heavenly Father feels much the same way each time a soul climbs out of this world’s dirt and reaches for His light. Dear reader, our Heavenly Father does not need us to help tend His garden, yet He has given us the privilege of doing so until He gathers His harvest. God’s children all have a hand in planting the Gospel seed, and watering it, until vigorous life springs forth (I Corinthians 3:5-9).

Finally, brethren, let us not neglect to pray. If we are to see a harvest for God’s kindgom, this is the most important part of our labor. To quote Rudyard Kipling, “Adam was a gardener, and God, who made him, sees that half of all gardening is done upon the knees.”

The Key to Peace

It wasn’t until the toilet was flushing that I realized my car keys had fallen in. Normally, something like that would have really frustrated me, but I managed to laugh at my mishap instead. Then again, I knew that I could call my husband, and he would bring a spare set; which he did.

I hated to inconvenience him after a long day’s work, but at the same time, I was quite thankful to have someone watching out for me –someone to come to my rescue when I need it. Actually, this is not the first time my husband has had to bring me keys –although, flushing them down the toilet was a first.

Later, the LORD brought the following Scripture to my mind, and reminded me of some very important keys: I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 16:19).

Simply put, God has given kingdom authority to those in His family. Are you in His family? If so, you have been given everything you need to live a victorious life.

True, you may run into some obstacles along the way. You may even encounter circumstances that will overwhelm you to the point you lose sight of the right kingdom key to unlock the answer. When this happens, dear reader, you need only call upon the LORD. He is always watching out for His children and He will always come to your rescue.

Although He may rescue you in a dynamic, miraculous way; chances are He will hand you a spare key instead, and let you go about your business. Why? Like any good parent, your Heavenly Father uses every situation to your advantage –to help you learn and mature. Knowing this, you need never feel frustrated when things don’t go your way. You simply need to trust the LORD –that is the key to peace.

The Arbitrary Song of the Wind Chime

photo: windandweather.com

Although quite windy, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. I had several errands to run that day, but they would just have to wait a little longer. Nothing seemed as important, at that moment, than stopping to enjoy the arbitrary song of the wind chime.

The tune varied from gust to gust, but each was distinctly beautiful. I couldn’t help but think: Sing unto the LORD a new song: sing unto the LORD, all the earth.¹ My heart swelled with joy as I breathed-in the fresh spring air and watched the trees dance to the song of the wind chime.

Then another pearl from God’s word came to mind: For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.²

It is true; we are living in very disturbing times. However, Scripture says: let all those that put their trust in thee [O LORD] rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. ³

I don’t know about you, but that makes me want to sing for joy. My voice may not beautiful, and sometimes my songs are nothing more than spontaneous words of praise, but that which is not perfect can be beautiful too, like the arbitrary song of a wind chime.

¹Psalm 96:1
²Isaiah 55:12
³Psalm 5:11,12

Perfect Heathen

“Listen, that boy is a perfect heathen,” she said. Actually, I wasn’t really listening as much as overhearing, but I couldn’t help but marvel at the obvious paradox. A heathen is, by definition, a person that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible, let alone live by His instruction. The Bible speaks of the heathen one-hundred-fifty times, and never in a good light. In fact, God calls the ways of the Heathen filthy and abominable. He commands us time and again not to participate in the “shame of the heathen” nor learn their ways.

If someone were aspiring to be “perfect” at something, heathenism would certainly not be a good choice. True, the word heathen seems pretty benign in American culture. How about the word pagan? That word tends to evoke lots of horrible images –images of everything from polytheism to the heinous, unspeakable sins that the pagans commit– yet the words heathen and pagan are pretty much synonymous.

Conversely, striving for “perfection” is a worthwhile and desirable pursuit. King David said, “I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing. I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way (Psalms 101:1,2a). The Hebrew word for perfect is taw-meem, which means that David’s heart was undefiled, full of integrity and truth. The Bible uses the word, perfect -with all its derivatives- almost one-hundred-fifty times as well. However, that which is “perfect” is always pleasing to God.

Perhaps you believe, dear reader, that you can never be perfect. Truthfully, if you are striving for perfection according to the heathen’s definition, you probably won’t ever attain it. But if you acknowledge the God of the Bible, and have a heart like King David’s, you most assuredly can. After all, perfection and righteousness are pretty much synonymous; and the Holy Bible has given us ample instruction as to how to live righteously before the LORD.

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Co 7:1).

Having said that, I pray you all have a perfectly glorious day!

Finish the Race

“I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

Yesterday my husband tackled one of those organizing tasks that I have been putting off for longer than I care to admit. Although appreciative, I must admit that my gratitude was slightly hampered by a touch of guilt for not having done the job myself. Normally I try to keep up with such things, but life does have a way of getting away from me sometimes, so that all the “insignificant” stuff gets put-off until who knows when.

The truth is, in the long run, some things really aren’t all that important. I’m sure the Apostle Paul felt the same way quite often, as his primary focus was on the task given to him –and to all of us– to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.

Time is short; let’s all keep running the race and sharing God’s grace with new fervor. True, we might have to examine our lives and do a little organizing or re-prioritizing, but there is no better time than right now to do so. And remember, if we are going to run an endurace race, we need to be thouroghly prepared; no one can do this for us. May I encourage you, dear reader, if you don’t already do so, to begin daily Bible readings this year! Did you know that you can read through the whole Bible in one year by reading less than four chapters per day? I can’t think of a better way to start a new year!