Thursday, April 25, 2019

The One About a Garment that's Just Right For You!

I recently read the passage above as translated in the New International Version of the Bible, and halted at the word "fitting."

Then, I looked at the same verse in the New Living Translation. There it reads:
Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord;
it is fitting for the pure of heart to praise him.

Loosely translated (a Peggy-Paraphrase) is this:

Those who follow hard after the Lord always have a reason to praise Him...
...and, every Hallelujah is tailor made to be a perfect fit!
(yes, I know, I'm always a bit wordy in my translations...thank you for not pointing it out)

If you are female and reading this post, I bet you know the direction I'm headed.

As I age, the clothes in my closet are taking different shapes.

I'm certain it's the clothes!

Can't be me.

I'm the same size I was in high school (however, I will not be taking out a tape measure to prove it).
My word is good enough.

So, I'm constantly asking my husband questions like, "Does this fit right?" "I'm thinking this shrunk, and now it makes me look fat, what do you think (BTW, there isn't a right answer to this question)?" "Can I go out in public with this on?"

I want to know if what I'm wearing is "fitting," or not.

I need my own "What Not to Wear" personal consultant.

I fired my husband from said job.

Psalm 33:1b tells me there is something I can wear that is ALWAYS FITTING.

It's tailor-made just for me.

The word is PRAISE (to adore, give thanks, boast about); and, the direction for it is to the Lord.

Truth is that our souls are hard-wired to do one thing or the other: complain or praise.

If I'm not in a spirit of praise, then I'm complaining.

There really is no neutral ground.

I'm either in an attitude of gratitude, or my heart is grumbling.

We grumble, because we are forgetful people.

We forget "all the Lord's benefits."

That's what the Easter season does for me.

Leading up to Resurrection Sunday, I am reminded of why I so desperately NEED MY JESUS!

I am reminded of my sinful nature, and how He has taken my sin and forgiven them...wiped the slate clean (see the rest of Psalm 103)!

I am reminded of how He redeemed my life from a pit, and crowned me with steadfast love and mercy.

I have opportunity to reflect more intentionally on how He satisfies my life with good things...

But, I realize I need to do this DAILY, all year.

This is the overarching lesson I walked away with from the set-apart-days-of-Lent: Enter His gates with Thanksgiving; but to enter, we must first remember!

I'm simply to prone to complaint.

Like looking in a mirror and walking away only to forget what I just saw;
the benefits of the Lord are quite similar.

I need to look harder... Look longer... Look more deeply... Look with more purposefully...

And, be astonished.

Walk away in amazement.

Then remember and raise a hallelujah throughout the day!

Recently, I posted this quote from Pastor Tim Keller on social media:

That says something, doesn't it?

Certainly, I like the idea of inner health...

...and, praise, according to Keller (who backs this statement with Scripture after Scripture) says it is the pathway to get there:
Peace of heart
Peace of mind
Peace of soul
....even, Bravery

Keller goes on to say this:

Worry and fear come because I forget what the Lord has accomplished for me in Jesus Christ --- 
Remind me,
Remind me,
and then I can truly REST in YOU.

This morning, as I put this blog to bed, Paul David Tripp had a Twitter message to concur:

If you're God's child,
your life is in the hands of a Father
who is completely perfect,
You can rest,
without fear,
in His care!

It's a garment we can wear every day and will not wear out.
It's a garment that's perfect for any journey to peace and wholeness...
It's a garment that is FITTING!


Thursday, April 18, 2019

The One Where Love Went Missing.........

"Olive Press"  by Del Parson

Today, we sit on the cusp of celebrating the most miraculous moment in history.

However, before we can truly celebrate, we need to grieve.

So, let's picture ourselves on the Eve of Passover.

Jesus has just been through a "spiritual olive press."

(Garden of Gethsemane - the "oil press")

The soldiers will soon come to arrest Him.

Judas, the betrayer, will be in the center of their midst.

And, the man who lived, walked, slept, ate beside Jesus for three years...

...a man Jesus loved...

...this man will betray LOVE.

(olive press in Israel)

It's unimaginable, right?

But, try.

Tomorrow when you wake up, consider this thought.

Make it a mental exercise with an intention to eventually get to a place of AWE.

Think about that moment in history, before the joy of Resurrection, when LOVE died.

When, all of a sudden, the world was absent of LOVE;

Because LOVE hung on a cross...

Love was buried in a borrowed grave.

Love left earth....

Love gave Himself...

LOVE sacrificed.

That's what LOVE Does.

LOVE gives.

LOVE surrenders.

LOVE lays EVERYTHING on the altar...

...a sacrificial lamb...

...always thinking about The Other.

Think about this sentence again:  Love left earth....

For three days the world was void of LOVE.

I can hardly fathom what those three days were like...

But, it had to be a dark season --- the darkest of all...

A heavy presence of evil...

Uncontained hate...




How frightening that must have been.

That time when Evil thought it had won.

When all of hope seemed lost.

That time when LOVE went missing.

Let yourself feel the absence.

Let yourself be heavy-hearted.

Allow yourself a day or two of grief.

A day or two of numbness.

A day or two of shock and unprecedented sorrow.

Wonder with those who had walked so closely in the Rabbi's dust: Would LOVE ever return? 

What would come next for them?

How would they move forward?

Why, God?

What now, God?

Those would be normal thoughts cycloning around in heart and soul.



Sunday would arrive.

The Sun/Son would rise.

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

The earth would awaken to a New Dawn.

A New Era.

The Same LOVE with Some New Power.

Resurrection Power.

(a garden tomb in Jerusalem)

Resurrected LOVE!

Because of that Blessed Easter...

We are in AWE of Ever-Present LOVE!

Holy God to whom all praise is due...
I stand in awe of You!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The One About a Story to Tell.....Am I? Are You? Telling It?

Jesus told us to tell her story.

Contrary to today's anthem, "It's not my story to tell," Jesus says, "This IS YOUR STORY to tell."

Three out of the four gospels record what He said (Matthew 26, Mark 14, John 12).

It wasn't a direct command, but indirect.

He gives us permission to speak this story as often as possible...


Because this woman sets a standard.

She is lifted up as an object lesson, not just of faith, but of what our response to the gospel should look like...

But, I've gotten ahead of myself.

We need all three gospels to give us the whole picture.

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem.

He'd been avoiding it, 1) all the religious leaders were seeking to kill Him; 2) it wasn't the time of His passion....................yet.

So, six days before Passover, Jesus went to Bethany.

We know about Bethany: home of Lazarus (whom Jesus raised from the dead); Martha (the woman of "much serving"); and, Mary (the woman of "one thing," who loved to sit at Jesus' feet). It's also where Jesus cursed the fig tree.

What we might not know about Bethany, but what I recently learned, is that, while the name means "house of dates," it also is known as "the house of misery/affliction."

It seems that this was a small village, where a number of very ill people went to live and be cared for, which explains why Lazarus may have "become sick unto death." 

Lazarus and his sisters were care-givers.

Jesus had a heart for care-givers.

I believe He was extremely tender to those who would reach out to the hurting. Because those who would actually touch the afflicted, were rare in that culture.  Rare in any culture...and every time period.

The sick and infirm were often avoided. Ignored. Invisible.

Maybe that's why Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters so very much.

There was this simple heart-connection between them.

When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Simon (a leper from Bethany, whom Jesus healed) throws a party in Jesus' honor.

Lazarus is there, on one side of Jesus.

Simon, the host, on the other.

Martha was there, as well............and, the story makes it clear that she is doing what she does best: SERVING!

Just because Jesus scolded her about her "much serving" doesn't mean that He wanted her to stop serving, only that she needed to get her priorities in order, and, do all things as "unto the Lord."

I believe she had learned her lesson.

Those who were at this celebration were there to love on Jesus, because He had loved on them.

He'd healed in their midst....

....raised one of their own from death back to life...

...forgiven sins....

...wept over Jerusalem...

...set captives free from shame...

...raised the honor of the honor-less!

This crowd didn't know that in six days, Jesus would be hanging on a cross.

They weren't aware of "how-much-more" the Son of God would sacrifice for them.

But, they were clear on one thing:
Jesus had done more for them than they had words to express, so they wanted to attempt in some small way to show their gratitude.


She wanted to express her love as well.

For Mary, Jesus meant the world, and I believe as she tried, almost in vain, to conjure up a way to show her overwhelming heart of love and appreciation to Jesus, she could only think of one thing (because, after all, she was a woman of one-thing).

She would give to Jesus the only thing of any value she had.

It was priceless.

Of great worth.

But, so was Jesus...SO! MUCH! MORE!

Judas, ever the self-righteous one, said, "But, Master, that alabaster jar of oil is worth an entire year of wages! Think of all the poor that we could feed if we sold it..."

However, sometime during the meal, as Jesus reclined at the table before Him, she came.

She broke the seal of the jar.

Poured the oil on his head, and on his feet, using her long hair as nothing more than a rag to wipe her Lord's feet.

Jesus, knowing that Judas was speaking for many in the crowd, quickly rose to her defense.

"The poor you will always have with you; not so, me... This woman has done what she could; given out of a deep-seated heart-felt need; and in doing so, she has anointed my body for burial. Leave her alone...but tell her story, whenever the gospel story is told...memorialize it!"

Why would Jesus want this one act to be shared in connection with the gospel message?


Mary's picture of Jesus as the Son of God was incomplete (soon to be made whole), but with what she knew of Jesus in that moment was that He was all love...and, all she could do in response was to love Him back...




Mary's response to Jesus' love was to love Him back without thought to the cost. 

What a Lenten consideration!

When all is said and done:

The amount I am willing to sacrifice for Jesus reveals exactly how much I love Him in return.

How will I show Him my love this Easter?
How about telling a little love story???

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The One About a Whoop, a Wow, and a Whoa! (and dark valleys, too)

Some mornings, I just wanna shout, "Whoop!"

Some mornings, I just quietly whisper, "Wow!"

This morning, I was somewhere between a Whoop and a Wow...maybe, more of a "Whoa!"

I never ceased to be amazed when the Lord speaks.


Last night, I received an invitation to speak at a women's retreat in the fall.

I was given the theme and the theme verse.

I decided to sleep on the invite, pray about it in the morning, and respond as I felt I had a definite answer.

This morning, I picked up my Bible where I left off yesterday...Psalm 23 was on the menu as the bread-of-the-day.

Interesting, because I had just finished writing last Thursday's blog on the Good Shepherd.

(Obviously, I am writing this particular entry earlier than normal.)

But, right there in the middle of Psalm 23 was a further teaching. I just hadn't picked up on it quite like I saw it this morning.

The added bonus was that it fits the theme, and the theme passage I was given for the retreat in September (a little more study, reflection, and it's a new message fitting for those women..............and a confirmation of "Yes," say "Yes" to the invitation.)

Today's thought centers on two verses in Psalm 23 (4 & 5):

Even though I will walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; Your rod and staff will comfort me. You prepare a table before me, even in the presence of my enemies...

This passage selection is an excellent exclamation point on the last two blog posts.

God's Paths of Righteousness (His sheep paths) are always the best...

Yes, sometimes they lead through wilderness...

Sometimes, through the Valley of Achor...through the Valley of Trouble....

Sometimes, the paths are in the barrenness and leanness of dry season with little grass to feed on...

Sometimes, through the darkest of valleys...

Sometimes, right through enemy territory...

Evil wants to suck me in...

...intimidate my soul...

...dim the light of Christ in me...**

...bring me low....**

But, right here!

In this place!

The Lord sets up a table.

He prepares a meal.

And, His intention?

To celebrate!

He doesn't wait to bring us through the valley.

He doesn't wait until He has brought us into that spacious place of promise.


In the middle of it all - He wants to throw a feast of celebration; a party!


In the middle of the trouble -  the Lord wants us to find cause for rejoicing...

And, there is just cause!

If for no other reason -

He is ever-present with us!

But, there is more:

It is the desire of the EVER-PRESENT, NEVER-LEAVE-US Shepherd to feed us full to overflowing:

- full of faith

- full of the Spirit

-full of the Word of Truth

-full of Grace

-full of the glory of Christ in me

What a Lenten Reflection - I pray it stirs your soul as it has mine....
and, as a result,
makes you:
 "BOLD and BRAVE in the face of your adversary,
treading down his temptations,
resisting his schemings,
renouncing the world,
and valiant for truth.
May it deepen a sense of your Holy Relationship with the Lord,
as your Spiritual bridegroom,
as your Good Shepherd,
as the Sinner's Friend."
(from a prayer in Valley of Vision)

Because remember this:

His steadfast love and good mercy will hem you in all the days of your lives!


** Just a side note:  

As I wrote those words, I was reminded of another little "thought," for whatever it is worth.

It's about Samson and Delilah.

I know you know, names in the Bible are significant (and, remember last week: our Shepherd knows us by name, even if He were blindfolded!).

Often, but not always, names in Scripture are an indication of character; or of destiny; perhaps, even spiritual legacy.

In this case, the names of Samson and Delilah tell us a story.

Samson means "Light of the Sun."

God intended for this young Nazarite man to be His light in the dark world of the Judges.

Delilah, however, means "to lower, to dim, to make feeble, dry up, make thin, look weakly..."

Never was the name of two people more prophetic...

To the last little jot and tittle, Delilah dimmed the light of the sun (GOD) in Samson, dried him up, thinned him down, and caused his eye sight to be stripped away.

In the dark valleys, I pray, we not let the "Delilah's of our lives" do the same to the "Samson" in us...

So REJOICE in the Valley of Trouble...
Feast at the Table Prepared for You...
and be THANKFUL!