I picked up my eyeglasses today, and was surprised to see how much I hadn't been seeing. I was prescribed trifocals about 3 months ago, and then so was Larry not long after. I wasn't going to get the glasses, until Larry urged me. I was quite surprised at the hi-tech quality of the lens. It provides 3 levels of prescription with no lines. I just thought my eyes were blurry. I guess they were blurry and having focusing problems the doctor said. But, it is amazing how the simple tasks of reading at different distances is so much easier.
When one does a thing, it appears good, otherwise one would not write it. Only later comes reflection, and one discards or accepts the thing. Time is the best censor, and patience a most excellent teacher. - Frédéric Chopin
So much truth in the execution of that idea. Chopin is one of my favorite classical pianists, along with Debussy, who was born more than a decade after Chopin died. For me, they both resonate the sounds of water: lakes, streams, and brooks, flowing melodically, yet punctuated and deep with some real essence that can not be defined.
This idea of Chopin's that we judge our actions good, or else we wouldn't have done them holds a lot of water, aye? Only reflection usually reveals the truth of the assessment. We usually need a lot more reflection than we imagined.
The sky seems to have opened up outside; the thunder is rattling the walls, and the rain is pouring lavishly against the roof. But, from where I sit in my recliner, listening to my audio book, and the occasional piano piece, the view is peaceful. It's what I see in my head: the provision and care of God for those who are His, that wraps each piece of our day in peace.
Isaiah 9:6 ...Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
God's ways are not our ways. His ways are much higher than ours. Isaiah 55:8-9 I've had a rough week physically, and yet, I have enjoyed the comfort of a husband who is the companion I always dreamed of having. Thursday evening, we wanted some home made cookies, but the guys don't know how to make them. So, Larry and I made them together. He brought me the needed ingredients and utensils and, from my recliner, I mixed the dough. He baked them and we all had cookies and milk. It all worked out, with the two of us together. The togetherness was very comforting in the midst of my physical discomfort, not to mention the cookies :) Yesterday, he and Travis went to the pet shop in Rome to pick up my fish order for me. And, today, Larry cooked sloppy joes, corn on the cob, and home-cooked fried potatoes, while I listened to an Audible book and dozed. So, in the middle of agonizing pain, that is much worse than usual, here I have companionship and togetherness that would make the worst pain bearable.
Sometimes, I feel like I am shooting darts in the dark. I am never sure who is listening, or where, as I just see the numbers, usually. Occasional contact from comments, emails, Twitter, or Facebook gives me a chance to reach out and touch someone in a more personal way. But even in the silent anonymity of the every day, it is wonderful to know you are here and listening, wherever you come from, whatever your relationship with the Creator of the Universe. My hope is that something here meets your needs. You are my companions in my discomfort, and I am comforted.
Having published my app in the Android Marketplace this month, I am able to both provide a cohesive place for my readers to access my content all in one place, and to gather a little more information about the location and usage statistics of my readers. Today, I was thrilled to learn I had a new download in the Ivory Coast of Africa, a place I knew little about. I can only try to imagine in my mind who is listening there and what they are looking for. I can pray that God blesses what ever the work is that they are doing and that they find what they are seeking. I am working diligently at getting my app rebuilds in the other marketplaces. But, I am pleased and excited about the 75 downloads from this first month. (The shades of green on the map above shows the location of my downloads.) And, it seems to have increased the daily reader stats on my website, so much so that I am getting some spam from search engines. I changed the comment settings to manually approve comments before posting in the future, which is only to screen out spam. Believe me, I still want your comments. And, keep in mind, private comments in emails are never shared on my blog, unless you specifically authorize me to share.
And, this brings me to my point, in a round about way :) You are, after all, in the same place I am. You meet with struggles that slow you down, and you wonder at the reasons for the impediments that get in your way, (like my increased pain and decreased output this week.) You ask God if you are doing the right thing, and if so, why the obstacles that prevent you. But, open your eyes, and look around you. Aren't you cared for? Aren't you, after all, in the hands of a loving God? If He is punching your time card, what does it matter how He uses your time?
Our weakness reminds us of the strength and power of God. My latest podcast episode is ready at http://reason2believehim.libsyn.com/ and on the player below. I read in a variety of versions; KJV, NKJV, NIV, and the Living Bible. For a complete transcript of Scripture references, see the Podcast Page.
"I Choose to Praise You"
Used by permission from Mark Snyder
Written by Mark Snyder of Tree Hill Collective
Vocals by Helene Immel
Tree Hill Collective’s music may be purchased at:
I was sitting at Agatha's in Atlanta, waiting on the next act of the show to start when I got the Breaking news Text that Singer Whitney Houston had died at age 48 years old. I will miss hearing her sing, and am glad her legacy of beautiful music will continue. I have heard the question asked many times in the past, if you were granted an interview or letter with any one human being who had ever lived, past or present, who would you want to meet or write? For me, it would be Whitney Houston. She had it all. Below I have attached my open letter to Whitney.
Your music has marked much of my life. I remember being pregnant with my first child, Matthew, sitting on the hillside watching the fireworks in Dalton, listening to the music from the bandstand playing, "Greatest Love of All," realizing the greatest love of all time was right at that moment living inside my womb; the love of a mother for her child.
But, earlier than that, I could relate to your voice singing the words... "Everybody's searching for a hero People need someone to look up to I never found anyone Who fulfilled my needs A lonely place to be And so I learned to depend on me. I decided long ago Never to walk in anyone's shadow If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe No matter what they take from me They can't take away my dignity..." I never had a hero either Whitney. I could see clearly that we are all human. And, there were years that I believed I could depend on me.
But, the song that I remember most, Whitney, is "One Moment in Time." This song has left me silent throughout, each time I heard it, throughout the past twenty-five years, as I relentlessly pursued my dreams. The song mentions reaching the pinnacle of your life, the fear of falling short, and the thrill that can only be explained if you have achieved your own dreams. You were the girl who had achieved her dreams, if anyone was, every little girl's dream.
Now Whitney, you have actually reached your one moment in time, the moment where your life is fulfilled in the truest sense of the word, since it is complete. Now, you are truly in a position to answer my deepest questions. How does eternity feel?
What do you see at this very moment? Are you alone, or are there people around you? What emotions are you feeling? Are you feeling pain? Joy? Exultation? Pride? Dignity? Do you hear your eulogizing below on Earth? Do you hear your family crying? Do you see the face of God? Do you hear His voice?
Sweet Whitney, I know that I too will one day reach this one moment in time when I will go the way of all life. I wish there were some words you could sing to prepare me for that final stage. Perhaps, you have already sang that song, more than you even realized.
Goodby Whitney. We will always love you!
Whitney as a child. She was an awesome performer, who dressed elegantly, with charm and style. She always seemed "modestly beautiful."
Each day I live I want to be, a day to give... The best of me.
I'm only one, but not alone. My finest day, Is yet unknown.
I broke my heart, for every gain. To taste the sweet, ohh I face the pain.
I rise and fall, yet through it all... This much remains.
I want one moment in time, when I'm more than I thought I could be.
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away, and the answers are all up to me.
Give me one moment in time, when I'm racing with destiny.
Then in that one moment of time, I will feel, I will feel eternity....
I've lived to be, the very best. I want it all, no time for less.
I've laid the plans, now lay the chance... Here in my hands.
Give me one moment in time, when I'm more than I thought I could be.
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away, and the answers are all up to me.
Give me one moment in time, when I'm racing with destiny.
Then in that one moment of time, I will feel, I will feel eternity.
You're a winner for a lifetime, If you seize that one moment in time...
Make it shine
Give me one moment in time, when I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away,
And the answers are all up to me... Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny. Then in that one moment of time
I will be, I will be, I will be free, I will be, I will be free...
Whitney's Gospel Roots:
At the age of 11, Houston began to follow in her mother Cissy's footsteps and started performing as a soloist in the junior gospel choir at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she also learned to play the piano.Her first solo performance in the church was "Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah."
Many of the "beautiful words" in literature and historical speeches were inspired by the Bible. Take Elizabeth Barrett Browning's famous sonnet. I memorized it when I was small... just because I liked it. (It was not a school assignment.)
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
Elizabeth must have read Ephesians 3:18 for the inspiration of the breadth, length, depth, and height of Jesus' love. Then there is Patrick Henry who spoke the famous words, "Gentlemen cry peace, peace, there is no peace... as for me give me liberty or give me death." The no peace duo is from scripture and was a direct quote from Jeremiah 6:13-15 and Jeremiah 8:10-12. And, likewise Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. carried his dream from Isaiah 40:4-5 where all flesh shall see "...every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth."
The history books don't tell you about the Biblical influences on the classic literature. It's not a conspiracy or anything, of course. It's just that I doubt it is obvious to people who haven't read the Bible. It takes a familiarity with both literature and the Bible to see the connection.
But, the Bible inspires me, just as it has generations of Christians before me. I open the pages of the Book to find "beautiful words" to lift me in the dark moments and in the light of day. There is nothing more comforting than these words that swirl around in my head like the Autumn leaves in Fall, saturating my heart with their love. I am eternally indebted to a long line of Sunday School teachers, who like marathoners passed the torch to my hands with a smile and urged me to run. This is one thing I will take with me to the grave and beyond; God's beautiful Words.
Isaiah 57:15 Eternity is a vast place where God lives. The subject of eternity can be both entrancing and off-putting at the same time. It is something that we want to comprehend, and yet something that we fear to explore. I have written a little about the subject of eternity in two prior blogs, which you may be interested in reading, if you haven't seen them yet. They are: From One Side of Heaven to the Other and Chariots of God.
Edgar Allen Poe was a brilliant man, in some ways much like Steve Jobs today. But, he lived in the first half of the 1800's, and only lived forty years. He was a writer, and wrote short stories of invention, mystery, macabre, and poems. He often wrote of characters using opium, and of opium dens, and it was widely rumored that he used opium, though this is disputed. The circumstances of his death are quite mysterious. But, he is most well remembered for his lengthy poem, "The Raven," which I have included at the end of tonight's blog. If you care to read it, just click the line at the bottom to see more.
In the poem, the narrator is mourning the loss of his love, Lenore. Poe did lose his wife to sickness in real life. The narrator of the poem is surprised by a bird... a dark raven that appears on his window ledge and alights on a statue of Pallas, the God of Wisdom. The man had been sitting in his study remembering sadly Lenore when the bird appeared and he took it for an omen, because the bird only spoke the one word, "nevermore," at each of his questions about the future. Revelation 21:4
The poem is an exploration of the idea of eternity and pain without God. Those of us who believe, we have a hope for no more pain. Those who do not believe, can only look for an eternity of emptiness and pain. This is what makes Poe's poem so devastating... the lack of hope for eternity. I wouldn't want to face an eternity of nevermore. I choose the eternity of no more pain.
poem by: Edgar Allen Poe...click to read poem
Autumn is my favorite season, and is upon us. I found this beautiful poem on Kindle reader:
Lo! I am come to autumn, When all the leaves are gold; Grey hairs and
golden leaves cry out The year and I are old.
In youth I sought the prince of men, Captain in cosmic wars, Our Titan,
even the weeds would show Defiant, to the stars.
But now a great thing in the street Seems any human nod, Where shift
in strange democracy The million masks of God.
In youth I sought the golden flower Hidden in wood or wold,
But I am come to autumn, When all the leaves are gold.
Chesterton, G. K. (Gilbert Keith) (2004-04-01). The Wild Knight and Other
Poems (pp. 17-18). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition.
I always thought it poignant how the progression of seasons are drawn in sharp parallel to the seasons of our life. Of all the seasons, I find Autumn the most rich and starkly beautiful. The only thing missing is rain. A soaking rain with leaves plastered around our world randomly makes it seem as a fingerpainted work of art.
Just like the leaves, we are snatched from our spot, tossed to and fro, only to land in some different spot where we lie in repose upon the grass growing beneath us; feeding those who come after with the nutrients of our living. Our dying becomes their life. And, so it is with the circle of life. Then comes Winter, with the bare, naked trees, shaking in the cold December evenings, waiting for some hint of tomorrow.
Yes, Autumn is when all the leaves are gold. We only hope to embrace the changes we face as the turning of a chapter of our lives. For, when God moves you... the page is always turned to something more beautiful! As such, Autumn is like an open doorway into the best the future has to offer. I love the Autumn!
Isaiah 6:13 "But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and
shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when
they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof."
This verse speaks of an oak tree losing its leaves, yet it still has its essence within itself. And, when the Spring comes, the tender shoots spring out of the branches; new leaves which were there all along inside the Oak, and would never have been seen if the old had not fallen away.
In the New King James, it translates the verse to say that the tree is actually chopped down and the tree sprouts anew. But, this is a mistake. It translates the word "matstsebeth" as trunk instead of substance. As you can see, the word means: something stationary, i.e. a monumental stone; also the stock of a tree:--pillar, substance. This refers to that which is of value inside the tree, the seed. Stock means the basic stored life in this verse... like soup stock.
John the Beloved said in 1 John 3:9 "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." This is the same idea, that we have God's seed within us and it will continue to grow.
Don't think that you have been chopped down. No, the leaves are only falling away so that you will see your new beauty just months from now. Let the winds blow. Let the rain fall. The stuff that you are made of will spring forth and you will see a new thing come to pass in your life.
Jeremiah 18:3-4 Jeremiah told the parable of the Potter. He reminded us that we are like clay in God's hands; a fitting analogy considering we are made of dust. But, this striking parable, literally, is a painful picture for God's children. Jeremiah 18:6 Jeremiah had his ears open apparantly. Isaiah, probably abot 70 years of age by the time Jeremiah was born, had warned Judah (the capital of Israel) that God was their Potter. Isaiah 29:16
Jeremiah had heard or read old Isaiah's words about being clay in the hand of our Maker, and was moved to visit a pottery shop himself, to see what old Isaiah was talking about, to allow God's voice to open this Scripture for his heart. Israel hadn't had their ears open. They had fallen to the Assyrians while Isaiah yet preached. Not everyone listening to the preacher buys the sermon, I guess. Jeremiah 17:7-8
Amos (think hayseed farm boy turned evangelist) preached his heart out. He told in one sermon how God showed him visions of grasshoppers, fire, and a plumbline. He warned that God had a sword in hand. The altar call was interrupted when the local priest tried to run him out of town, saying that the Land was not able to bear Amos' words. Amos 7:10 His expulsion order was common, "Don't preach that in my chrch, go preach somewhere else!" Amos 7:12-13 Things can get ugly when the Hose of God becomes "the King's Chapel." But, don't think Amos' words returned void. I'm telling the sequence of events in reverse order.
Somewhere along the line, Isaiah must have been listening to Amos' message, or heard about Amos' predictions. Amos was about 30 years older than Isaiah. You see, there exists a thread of the Word weaving from one generation to the next, down through time. This thread won't be broken before God's return. Back to Jeremiah's fieldtrip to the potter's house. I said the experience can be painful for God's children. Just as I told the story in reverse, because each message had its causal event; so you and I have our source. Our words are not a new thing either. We came from God. We can not look at those who've gone before and take them to task for the job that they have done. On the contrary, they will take us to task for how we passed on their message.
In the same manner, we can not task God over the whys and wherefores of circumstances that He has ordained for us. Are we not in His hands to do as He wills? He will take us to task for the outcome. If you find your life smashed and broken, and none of the pieces seem to "fit right" any more, maybe God doesn't want those pieces in your life anymore. Maybe He has broken you on His wheel, to reshape your life.
When I was taking clerk typist classes in Brunswick, I sometimes went to the pottery workshop in the evenings. There I made dozens of these little figures for no purpose at all. I was living in a harsh environment, shocked at the people and circmstances I found myself in, only 17 and 18 years old, fresh out of high School, and far from home for the first time in my life. But, I liked the pottery workshop, along with some of the trips I took while I lived there, like Marineland. But, while painting the little figurines I made, I often thought about Jeremiah and his parable of the Potter's House.
I later gave the figures to different family members, and over the years I forgot about them. But, now I see them sitting around their houses when I visit. It reminds me that God uses my circmstances to build me. Nothing happens by accident, but all is a part of His greater plan. He makes me what I am, and hears me when I pray... as the old song from School says...
He's still working on me to make me what I ought to be.
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He's still working on me.
1. There really ought to be a sign upon my heart,
Don't judge her yet, there's an unfinished part.
But I'll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands.
2. In the mirror of His Word reflections that I see
Make me wonder why He never gave up on me.
He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the Potter, I'm the clay.
Jeremiah's words weren't forgotten. About 600 years later, the Apostle Paul took up Jeremiah's thread and told about God's work...making vessels of honor out of the clay.
Romans 9:21-23 Has not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to
make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to
show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the
vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches
of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had before prepared unto glory,
And, those are words I remember well from 30 years ago. Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and later Paul; they all chose to allow God to break them on the wheel repeatedly. They became vessels of honor, and we do hold them in high regard for the message that they carried. But, they were only jars of clay in the hand of the Lord. The work of God didn't feel good while they were going through it all. Jeremiah, in a moment of disallusioned tears, after spending the night in stocks, said:
Jeremiah 20:9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any
more in his name. But his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my
bones, and I was weary from holding it back, and I could not.
I guess all of us find it hard to keep or mouths shut sometimes, despite our inner hesitancy to speak.
I was born in 1964, in an era before desert warfare. Soldiers fought overseas in jungles to keep our people free. The Bible Belt was more than a geography lesson, it was a reminder that I had better obey my parents. Islam was a far away religion of people who hated our country, and not of the President of the United States. Communism was evil, and a part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic. The Cold War was behind the Iron Curtain, and not in Congress. Senator McNamara was a proponent of the MAD Doctrine, because we were a Super Power, and we wanted to stay that way; for truth, justice, and the American way were at stake. Now, The Senators are all mad, it is curtains for our economy, Sharia Law is the Super Power, truth is fallen in the street, and justice is far away.
Isaiah 59:14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice
standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot
Fairness, or equity can not enter across our borders, because like those huddled masses in Mary Emma Lazarus' poem on the base of the statue of Liberty, she is shouted away from our coasts, turned back in boat loads, and refused entry into the workforce. Instead, fairness and the immigrants and poor are given food stamps. Our own unemployed are given a cobra for health insurance, instead of the bread we asked from Uncle Sam.
Luke 11:11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will
he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Robin Hood was a storybook tale of a man who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor. But, the President of the United States never offered or suggested that the rich man's money should be given to the poor. We knew that would be thievery. The President was a rich man. Everybody knew that. It would have seemed incongrous to us that he would make such a claim. Hard work was valued, not vilified. The American Dream was to own a home, land; not a government handout. Things were made in the USA. I haven't seen that phrase in a long time.
Presidents were always scrutinized, and not allowed to hide background information. Everything was in the papers, even the scandals. The media was unbiased reporting, instead of bi-partison. Now, you have to check out a variety of news sources to get the total picture...from all sides. Our borders were secure. We knew that the FBI and the CIA knew everything. Now, children know everything, and can find everything on the internet, but are unsure of where the President was born. Back then, the old lady next door told our Mamma everything we did. Now, if anybody said or did anything, you can find the video clip on YouTube.
If I got a paddling at school, I never told my parents, because I knew I would get another spanking at home. Now, in a few conservative systems, the Principal sends home approval letters that the parents can sign or refuse to allow the Administrator to paddle, after parent contact. Bad behavior is a special education classification, and restricts the amount and kinds of punishment a child can receive. Our teachers warned us about drugs. We had to listen to lessons about all kinds of drugs and how they erase your brain cells. Now, teachers suggest parents take a child to the doctor for medication. Teachers ask a child if he has taken his medication. And, teachers will call a parent and tell her that "Little Johnny seems to be having a problem, and he said he hasn't had his medication." If a child was making bad grades, back then he had a problem. Now, the teacher has a problem. And, his parents will tell her so.
Times, they have changed. The President, the People, Religion, Marriage, Children, the Internet, Media, nothing is the same. Now, as I go to bed at night, I wonder when I wake up if I will awake in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, or if I was only dreaming.
The New Colossus By Emma Lazarus 1849–1887 Emma Lazarus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch,
whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning,
and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome;
her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she With silent lips.
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
God spoke to Isaiah about breaking down walls and crying to the
mountains. Isaiah 22:5 This is language of a vision. We all need vision in our
lives, vision of God’s will, vision for the Kingdom, and vision for the Harvest
of the Lord. This was a specific vision of Isaiah’s.
Daniel had vision as well. Daniel 9:23 Notice that Daniel was instructed
by an angel to “consider the vision?” In Daniel 10:1 we find that Daniel
reportedly had understanding of the vision. As you can see from these two
verses, and the way I worded my comments, there are two meanings or usages for
the word vision.
First, is the more specific reference to a specific event where a man or
woman sees or hears from God Almighty on a certain topic, in a certain moment.
Visions in this sense are accepted as supernatural events. Many people have
visions from God, whether sleeping or awake.
Second, is the general meaning for the word vision, where a man or woman
is said to have vision, meaning that they look ahead to the future and have a
goal or purpose in their heart for how something should and will be, seeing that
the future condition already exists as real in their own mind. They act in a way
to drive that vision to reality.
But, are these two things really different? In the more specific
instance, we see the ignition event or the catalyst for the more general sense
of vision. Can a man have Godly vision without hearing from God? There are many
different visions, and not all involve God’s will. Paul said, speaking of
different languages, that there are many voices in the world, and all of them
have some particular meaning. 1 Corinthians 14:10 There are visions outside the
realm of God’s will. The task is to focus on the truth.
There is truth in the world. Much of popular psychology teaches a moral,
religious relativism… that everything is relative. But, Christians realize that
there is an absolute truth, or something right to align everything else with,
Jesus. And, He is what so many are looking for in the world. What is it that is
real and true out there? What can you be sure of today, if not Jesus?
It has been said that vision is the art of seeing what others fail to
see. This then is the vision that we need to grab hold of now. We need a vision
of The Truth. Lies are everywhere. False religion, false living, false friends,
but we need a vision of true religion, true living, something that can break
down the walls of lies and falseness in the world around us. That is where the
church, and the individuals within the body of Christ comes in.
I want something inside my heart and mind that will cry out to the
mountains of the kingdoms of this world, “Here stands Truth!” Can God turn my
eyes to a vision of His truth for this generation?