Friday, December 31, 2010

"Get on your mark...get set...go!"


"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it....v26, Therefore, I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air."
1 Corinthians 9:24,26


      I've been thinking a lot about what it means to run the race Paul talks about in 1Corinthians 9:24-27. He tells us to run the race to obtain the prize. What prize is he talking about? It's not a trophy or a plaque to hang on the wall, and it's not a gold medal to wear around your neck; nothing like that. It's not so much something you get as it is something you accomplish. Obviously, you reach the finish line on the last day of your life. When you step over the line and the race is finished -you will either have won or not. There won't be another chance to win, and you get no trial runs...only one try...that's it. When your foot touches that line the stopwatch button is pressed down and the running shoes come off, the race is over.  On the other side of that line stands the Judge who determines the winners and there are only two things that will matter at the end - What you did with the life He gave you and what you did with His Son.


      I've decided to crawl over the line...yes crawl. I'm determined to be incapable of running when I get to the finish line - not one ounce of strength left, completely pooped out, used up, worn out...done! I want to run in such a way I use every bit of energy I have; every gift, opportunity, deed, kind word - holding nothing back. I want my foot to touch the line with no regrets, no words unsaid, no love withheld or turned away, and with my shoes in need of repair. I want to be emptied out and leave no left overs behind - to use it all for Him.

      It's a new year with new opportunities...good works God planned for each of us to do. People to love and God's Son to share. Let's lace up our shoes and run the race of 2011 in such a way that will wear the soles right off, and use ourselves up for Him.


      Erma Bombeck said it beautifully -
         
          "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, 'I used everything You gave me.'"

"...forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13-14

Friday, December 24, 2010

Immanuel - God with us...


The Name above All Names

He has a name above all names, His Father gave to Him,
A name that intercedes for us, brings hope when times are dim.

A name that heals the broken hearts, makes blinded eyes to see,
Restores the lame to walk again, and sets the captives free.

A name that shakes the prison bars, that we erect from sin,
Removes the chains of bondage there, and makes us free again.

The holy name of Jesus Christ, the Perfect Prince of Peace,
Mighty God, King of Kings, the name that brings release.

He came as Light to shine the way, and bring us back to God,
He did not come with judgment’s wrath, but with a Shepherd’s rod.

He is the one True Way to God, the Door we enter through,
The only name that saves a soul, Jesus-Faithful and True.

He came to pierce the darkest night, find those who lost their way,
And set their feet on Solid Rock, bring hope with each new day.

His name means more than we can know, it holds all power and might,
By it our ransom has been paid, exchanging wrong with right.

One day all flesh will bow their knee, proclaim Him Lord of Lords,
The precious name that paid the price, which no one could afford.

The Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and End,
Came down to earth to touch our hearts, relationships to mend.

The Great I AM has come to us, a babe so long ago,
To be the Way, the Truth, and Life, for those He came to know.

Immanuel – God’s with us now, the gift we can’t ignore,
Exalt His name, accept His love, it’s YOU He came here for.

©2010 Charlotte Foster


Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Christ-mas Poem


      I posted this poem last year, but it's in my heart around this time every year so I decided to post it again. You see, this is the very first poem God gave me when I began writing poetry. It seems so fitting to remember it each year at Christmas time. It makes so much sense to me that the very first poem He would give me would be about His Son. He is the beginning of everything -

          "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth...all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist." Colossians 1:15-16 NKJ.

I hope you don't mind me sharing it again.

His Name Is Jesus

At Christmas time remember Him
The One who came to heal our sin.
The little child within the manger
The One whom angels hid from danger.

Though in a tiny manger bed
He wore God's crown upon His head.
The babe who came to be our King
To Him the heavenly anthems ring.

The Prince of Peace quietly laying
While people unaware were praying.
To send His light, and God had heard
In the manger lay the Living Word.

God's own Son, the Lord of Host
The very One He loved the most.
He came a ransom for our sin
To heal the broken hearts of men.

This Holy One, the Great I Am
To be the Sacrificial Lamb.
As He slept that Christmas Day
In the shadow of the cross He lay.

So as we give our gifts of love
Remember the One who came from above.
And give Him praise for all He's done
The King of Kings, God's only Son.

©1992Charlotte Foster

Friday, December 3, 2010

Did He Smile?

One question went through my mind as I watched this video clip..."What was God's reaction?" I know the unsuspecting people in the food court had to be pleasantly surprised with such a performance, and I'm sure they were blessed. But I couldn't help imagine the living creatures in heaven (Rev. 4:8) peering down to see who was joining them with a song of praise, as they sang day and night around the throne of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Heaven and earth praising the One whose kingdom will never end, the One who will reign forever and ever - Hallelujah! 

It's not hard to imagine how it pleased God, and that He smiled.

       And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea,
       and all that are in them, I heard saying:
          "Blessing and honor and glory and power
           Be to Him who sits on the throne,
           And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
                                     Revelations 5:13

Friday, November 12, 2010

So much to thank Him for...

Oh, Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Psalm 118:1

Thank You!

I look around at all the things
Within my life, my space,
Everywhere I turn my eyes
God's love has left its trace.

In my home - family
Each child picked with care,
Knowing through His goodness
God chose to place them there.

And looking further out
Are friends He made so dear,
Giving me the blessing
Of knowing them each year.

I take a walk outside
And hear a singing bird,
 Watch the clouds drifting past
Too softly to be heard.

Autumn's changing colors
Before the winters birth,
Leaves are gently falling
They dance their way to earth.

I feel the warmth of sunshine
between the cool soft breeze,
It seems to whisper praises
And all of life agrees.

©2010 Charlotte Foster

Friday, October 29, 2010

Does someone need watering?



      It's dead! With the flag sticking out of it, you'd think it died an honorable death...but it didn't. It died from lack of water. You would expect that kind of death for a plant growing in the desert, a barren and dry place, but this one died right here on my front porch just steps away from the end of a hose. It's hanging in a place I walk by every day. How could I not see it turn brown and wither from neglect? If I had only noticed it in time, maybe I could have saved it. I can't help but wonder how long it's been hanging there in need of a burial. The flag poking up out of the dry ground is a clue...could it have been that way since the fourth of July? That's a little embarrassing!

      It reminded me of something that happened at church. I realized I hadn't seen someone for quite a while, and then found out they weren't attending there anymore. How long had it been since I saw them? I couldn't remember. In a way, the same thing that happened to my plant can happen to people in the church. We pass by each other every Sunday as we come and go, we sit by people regularly in church service or at Bible study, without even noticing they look a little dry or withered emotionally. Instead of water, maybe they're in need of a hug or thirsty for encouragement. Maybe they're hurting or lonely and need someone to notice and pour a few refreshing drops of love into their lives. It could mean the difference between them growing healthy in the body of Christ or withering away - alone.

      All I had to do to keep my plant from dying was notice it and give it a little water now and then. It's really not that much different with people is it? All we need to do is notice each other and pour a little love into one another's lives now and then. We don't even have to get the hose, because God has given us a spring of living water through His Son Jesus Christ, and the only thing we have to do is reach out and share it. Is there anyone in your life who could use a little water? When we go to church, or anywhere for that matter, let's look around and notice if the people we pass by or sit next to are looking a little dry. If they are, let's pour some love out on them. If you can't tell whether they need it...sprinkle them anyway. I think in this case, it's better to over water!

And above all things have fervent love for one another,
for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
1Peter 4:8

Friday, October 1, 2010

What Time Is It?

For we are His workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand
that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

      Once in awhile I ask myself this question, "What time is it?" I don't mean what time does the clock say it is, I mean according to God's great timeline, what time is it? Today history is being made and people will read about it sometime in the future. What will history books say about this time? What is God doing now...today?

      I think He is calling His people to Himself...to seek Him; to pray. To turn from the things that distract us in the world, and from sin. For some, those distractions come from a life of abundance, for others it's the lack of it, and for many it's the cares of this world. Is something distracting you today?

      The things that distract me are usually very small, but in large amounts; those little things that pile up and become in my perspective like the sand on the seashore, under every step I take. They slow me down and cause much of my labor to be in vain. Have you ever tried moving fast (or for very long) on sand?

      But God's timeline isn't drawn across the sand, it's drawn across time. The only sand that really matters are those grains falling from the hourglass of time. He sees the beginning and the end, because He drew the line and planned everything inbetween. We've been placed here for a special purpose...His purpose. Strategically placed in today. Why? Well, the bible says to do the good works He prepared beforehand - that we should walk in them.

      He chose the past and the future for someone else, His gift to us is today. This is our spot on the timeline, what history will we write with our lives? Will we do the good works He prepared for us to do? As I ask these questions, the ears of my own heart are opened and attentive to hear my lip's reply. To answer the call of God to draw closer to Him, and to do what He has planned for me while it is still today.

"What time is it?"  - The time is Now!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Running the Race to Win!



 
I Corinthians 9:24 & 26

v. 24 Do you not know that those who run a race all run,
but one receives the prize?
Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

v. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty.
Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air.

(It was a Tuesday...)
      This day took off and I frantically ran after it. I never caught up! It reached the finish line with me trailing far behind, nowhere in sight. I ran fast and gave my all, and it left me in the dust. So what happened? The day started out as usual; chores at the barn, making coffee... a shower, but then I had those extra things - the Dr. appointments, the errands, a visit with my grand babies, a stop at the store, date with my husband.....

      Did I pray? Did I do my bible study? No! I must confess, I didn't think of it. I got up earlier than usual so I could feed the living things before I left for the Doctor's. I fed everything but myself. My daily bread sat on the table with my bible study book. It was available but I was not. I could have grabbed it on my way out the door but I didn't. My focus was on the many things I "needed" to do.

      Through the day I shot an occasional shallow prayer up to my Father, but nothing deep, and I received no life-changing replies back. I didn't invest the time necessary to hear Him, so I ran with uncertainty. I fought the struggles of the day like one beating the air.

      When I take time to pray and read His word at the beginning of the day, it's like taking hold of His hand and walking (or running) with Him through it. I turn the race over to Him and let Him set the pace, as He leads me to the finish line. Each of those days add up to a lifetime. He wants all of us to run the race of our lives to win the prize!

      
          "Oh Lord, I am so sorry. My desire is to put you first and I put you last today. No wonder I felt like I was beating the air. I was running in my own strength and I might as well have been going backwards. Thank you for showing me that without you I won't win the race, no matter what I get accomplished - I won't even place. Thank you, that at the end of every day is the dawning of a brand new one; a fresh beginning with you. Help me run this race to win."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Be Still and Know...

"Be still, and know that I am God."
"I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted among the earth."
Psalm 46:10


Sit down and listen quietly,
While clouds pass over head.
For all around the works of God,
Are seen without much said.

Wordless songs as buds unfold,
They lift their faces high.
Morning Glories open up,
Their praises fill the sky.

The wind that sways the mighty trees,
His gentle breath we feel.
Are easier by far to know,
Those times we sit here still.

The beauties all around this world,
Are singing every day.
But sadly we walk by so fast,
We can't hear what they say.

The earth declares His glory,
It's here for all to see.
But when we are too busy,
And run by hastily-

We can miss the song its singing,
Heard only by each heart.
Its silent words exalt the One,
Who made this work of art.

Slow down and lay your blanket out,
Lean back upon the sod.
Take time to just be still and know-
To recognize He's God!

©2010 CharlotteFoster

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Planted-for His Glory

Right after I posted "Yanked Out!" I came across this in my devotional- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers:

          "Notice God's unutterable waste of saints, according to the judgment of the world. God plants His saints in the most useless places. We say-God intends me to be here because I am so useful. Jesus never estimated His life along the line of the greatest use. God puts His saints where they will glorify Him, and we are no judges at all of where that is."

I cracked-up when I read this because it reminded me that I know nothing (which shouldn't be funny)...but really, it is very sobering!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Yanked Out! (And living to tell about it)


"And we pray this in order that
you may live a life worthy of the Lord
and may please him in every way;
bearing fruit in every good work,
growing in the knowledge of God,..."
1 Colossians 1:10

      They were volunteers, growing in the wrong place, so I had to pull them out. They were capable of producing fruit, but would have prevented the other plants from having room to grow. It was hard for me to remove them because I love plants, but these tomato seedlings decided on their own to grow in a spot in the garden that was designed for other plants.

      This reminded me of a time when I planted myself in a place God hadn't planned for me to grow. I volunteered for something I had no business doing. I took up space intended for someone else; someone God had gifted for that area of service. I even produced fruit occasionally, but it never really ripened, and my own growth was somewhat stunted. I was attempting to do a job God had not planned for me (if I had bothered to ask Him, He would have told me so) - it was not my job, and He was not going to bless it. As a matter-of-fact, He yanked me out!

      When God pulled me from that place it was like He stuck me in a pot and sat me aside. As soon as it dawned on me what had happened and I started praying for His will in my life, He took me to the spot He planned for me to grow and transplanted me there. It wasn't a place where I pushed others out as I grew, there was plenty of room, and those growing in the same plot of ground grew happily along side me. We shaded one another in the heat of the day, and grew close enough to lean on each other when the wind blew, but not crowd each other out.

      God had given me a second chance. And with that in mind, I stuck my little volunteers in a pot of soil and gave them a drink of water. If they survive the shock of being uprooted, I'll transplant them somewhere else. A place where they can grow and produce fruit.

      I think it's good to ask occasionally, "Am I growing where He planted me, or have I volunteered in someone else's place?" He's gifted each one of us and planned a special job for us to do, and He knows exactly where He wants us to do it. It's always better to get direction from Him, than to find ourselves minding someone else's business and feeling the tug of His hand as He yankes us out!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Would You Like Salt With That?


"You are the salt of the earth."
Matthew 5:13

      I got to thinking about salt last week because it was mentioned in the scripture I focused on during my prayer time. Jesus used it as an example of how Christians should be in the world - salty. I asked myself why salt? Why something so common place? He could have said chili peppers or something with a little more pizazz...but no, he chose salt. It is one of the most basic ingredients in cooking, and for the most part, when it's forgotten the recipe can still turn out, but boy does my husband miss it when I forget to put it in! As a matter of fact, he salts his food before he even tastes it...just in case.

    If I forget pepper, garlic, or some other seasoning, it may be missed but not as much as salt. Salt is what brings out the flavor of food - enhances it. In the same way, I think Jesus wants us to be the salt of the world. To bring out the truth of His Word and enhance the lives of those around us with His love; adding flavor to their lives through sharing the knowledge of Jesus Christ. When salt is sprinkled on food, it's almost impossible to take it out, and when our lives sprinkle God's goodness on others, they can't easily remove the effects of it. Like it or not, they have been salted!

      The scripture goes on to say that we can lose our saltiness. While I thought about this, it occurred to me that the only way I know to make salt less salty is to water it down. Could Jesus be referring to us losing our saltiness when we become watered down with other things? When we have too many other ingredients filling up our lives and not enough salt to flavor it, or when we water down the Truth we speak so it doesn't offend the hearer? Are we allowing our shakers to become empty vessels? I'll leave you these questions to contemplate, and this one Jesus asked, "But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?" (v. 13)  He goes on to say, "It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

      Perhaps my husband's habit of automatically adding salt isn't a bad idea (spiritually). When we go about our days, lets remember to leave a pinch of salt on every life we come in contact with, and season this world for our Lord - we are the salt of the earth!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Up, Up, and Away!

 
Unto You I lift up my eyes,
O You who dwell in the heavens. Psalm 123:1

Up I went...into the clouds of His faithfulness. A scared child reaching out to grasp tightly her Father's hand. As I clung to him, I opened the book  (God A Good Father by Michael Phillips) I had previously tucked in my purse, and read these words -

      Chapter 1: The Instinct To Look Up

          "Deep within every mortal heart lies a created hunger for the heavenly mountains of God's presence. All of us, from our infancy, have silently wondered what lies on the slopes above the mist, hidden from view...up where God dwells."

      How timely those words were that day. God knew I would be on the airplane, even if I hadn't reminded Him a hundred times. He knew I would be afraid, because I don't like to fly, so He gave me a book to comfort me...to remind me that He was with me, and that He was a good Father.

      It was a last minute thought...to take a book (but He knew I would think of it), I pulled a few off the shelf the day before my flight and thumbed through them. One had been there for several years. I confess, it was borrowed, and I should have given it back long ago. I would never promote the habit of borrowing books and not returning them, nor do I think it's right to shift the blame to someone else for me keeping the book, but in this particular case I have to say - it was God!

      The reason I know it was Him is because I found His fingerprints all over it. He had been leaving a trail for me to follow that led me straight to it. The touch of His Spirit on my heart during prayer time, and pointing out words of confirmation in scripture, were His ways of sprinkling little snippets of Truth across my path over and over again, leading my thoughts in a certain direction. He was weaving a theme throughout my days - to trust Him and seek a place with Him that goes higher than my fears...to look up!

      When I first opened the book I read this introduction, " I would like to invite you on a journey, an inner quest out of the valleys and low places of our spiritual abodes to the high mountains..." As I continued through the introduction, phrases kept jumping out at me like, "gaze upward toward the mountain tops of your faith,...I invite you to join an adventure that will lead to wider vistas and broader outlooks than are possible from the lowlands." Hm, it was sounding a lot like the things God had been teaching me over the weeks leading up to my trip. To leave the lowlands, where I felt comfortable, and seek a higher place with Him, out of my comfort zone.

      That is when it hit me - My spiritual life is similar to the way I plan a trip. There are certain things I'm afraid of doing and they prevent me from experiencing the full reality of who God is. Will I take His hand and move forward if it requires an airplane or will I limit my journey with Him to transportation closer to the ground?  Is He God, or is He not? If I believe He is, then I must also believe that He holds everything - EVERYTHING, in His mighty hands.

      I was finding myself within the metaphors of this book in a very literal way. God was inviting me on an adventure that required me to leave the lowlands of my faith and trust Him. I closed the cover and noticed the clouds on the paper jacket - perfect! I knew without a doubt this was the book I was to take, so I pushed it down in my purse, along with a pack of gum and a granola bar.

     After boarding the plane I sat there like a hostage of fear. I wasn't able to sit with my husband due to
booking our flights at the last minute. Instead I was sandwiched in between two ladies who pretended I wasn't there. I'm sure it was part of God's plan (He wanted me all to Himself). As I sat there alone and apparently invisible, His presence became very real to me. We left the ground, and I gripped His hand tighter as we took turns reminding each other of His faithfulness, then I began reading the book.

      He taught me that sometimes this journey is going to involve trusting Him with areas of fear and moving (or flying) past them, to get beyond the lowlands to a higher place with Him. The airplane, the book...all tools to remind me who He is - God. There are things He wants to teach me about Himself; that He is Faithful, Loving, and All Powerful. If I had a choice, I would have chosen to learn those lessons without flying through a thunderstorm, but my Father always does things with such flair!

"I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness,
and I will hold your hand;..." Isaiah 42:6

Friday, July 9, 2010

Picking the Lock


 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding,
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJ)

      You have probably heard the saying- When God closes a door, He opens a window. But have you ever gone through times when you felt like the doors and windows in your life were shut tight, and you were locked in a room getting nowhere? I have experienced this feeling before, and I must admit, I didn't take it very well. At first, I banged on the door with my prayers, thinking if I got louder God would hear me and open the door. Then, when that didn't work, I ran to the window (the one that was supposed to be opening) and tried to look out. I wanted to see what I was missing out there, and then I tried to open the window myself. After all, doesn't God help those who help themselves? - Another popular saying NOT in the bible.

      It didn't take long for panic to set in - "Oh no, I'm locked in this room with no way out!" That's when I took out the feeble tools of my limited understanding and tried to use them to pick the lock on the door, determined to get myself out. - "How could God want me in this room?" I reasoned. "Everything important is going on out there, not in here." I told myself. "Why wouldn't God want me to move forward? My dreams are out there!"

      Finally, realizing I could do nothing to open the door, I gave up and sat down. From that lowly place on the floor I looked up. That's when I saw what I had missed before. The direction God wanted to lead me wasn't out but up, toward Him. As I sought Him and His will for my life, the light of His Word filled the room and revealed what had been there all along; a staircase, and at the top an open door. I hadn't noticed it before - until I looked up.

      I didn't have to pick the lock or beat frantically on the door. I didn't need to desperately search for an open window, because He had already prepared a way out of the room and all it required was for me to sit down and look to Him (to be still and know that He was God). My hopes and dreams were not on the other side of a locked door, they were resting in His hands.

      The time spent in the room taught me things about God I pray I will never forget. That His plans for our lives never lead out until they lead up. If I reach for the handle of a door and find it locked, I need to step back (let go of the knob) and look to Him for direction.

      If you happen to find yourself behind a locked door, don't look for a window, look for God. You might want to have a seat on the floor, lean your head back and look up - God has already planned your way out, and it won't require picking the lock!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Independence or Dependence



  "You, my brothers, were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
 rather serve one another in love." Galatians 5:13

      This weekend we celebrate our nations Independence Day. For all who live in this beautiful land and enjoy it's many blessings, it's a special time of remembrance. A time to remember those brave men who put their lives on the line by signing the Declaration of Independence; declaring our nation free from British rule.

      Most of the men who signed that document had already made another declaration. Not signed on paper with pen and ink, but signed in their hearts. They demonstrated by the way they lived their lives and the way they gave glory to God for their victories, that they were men dependant on God.

      Our country has been through a lot of trials since the Declaration of Independence was signed. Looking back over time with eyes opened by spiritual understanding, we can see God's hand throughout our history - moving on behalf of a country dependant on Him. He holds our future just like He held our past. Will we declare our dependence on Him?

      This July 4th and every other day, let's remember why He set us free - to be a light for Him in a dark world, to live lives free from sin, and serve one another in love. On Independence Day let's recommit ourselves to being wholly dependant on Him.

      Whom the Son has set free, is free indeed!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vine Ripe?

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener....remain in me, and I will remain in you."
John 15:1-4

      I cut up a tomato today for BLT's and noticed as I popped a piece in my mouth, that it tasted very bland. The store where I bought them advertised "Vine ripe tomatoes." They were bright red and beautiful, and just as the ad promised, they were still attached to a vine.

      I guess the taste wouldn't have disappointed me so much if I had never tasted a truly ripe tomato off the vine - but I have. Because I have tasted the real thing, I was not easily fooled by these red impostors. I believed what I was told and what I saw, until I tasted it. The tomatoes were indeed on the vine, but the vine was cut off from the source of nourishment long before they were ripe; leaving them to turn red while in transport to their destination.

      As I finished putting the BLT's together to feed my family lunch, a thought came to mind. How many people are spiritually like these tomatoes? They look great on the outside but on the inside they haven't ripened (matured) because, though they appear to be growing on the vine, they are not attached to the true source of nourishment - Jesus Christ. In His word he tells us that He is the Vine. If we're trying to be Christians without Him, we are only impostors.

      Looking back at those tomatoes, I couldn't help but wonder -How many times have I settled for less than the real thing? If I look like a Christian on the outside, I pray that if the very core of my heart were exposed, it would reveal a Christian on the inside. When we're attached to the true Vine and nourished with God's love and truth, we ripen from the inside out. We can then live our lives with no false advertising, and we can honestly say, "Vine Ripe!"

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Spring Cleaning



Create in me a clean heart, O God;
and renew a right spirit within me.
Psalms 51:10

      A popular method of cleaning house is to start with the areas people see first when entering your home. So I begin at the porch and then the entry way; moving from one room to the next. I usually leave the unseen areas like the closets and cupboards for the very last; many times not getting to them regularly at all. They are the places I cram and squeeze every item that doesn’t have a place of its own. It’s where I put the things I don’t necessarily want visitors to see; the unsightly things.

      It occurred to me today, as I was thinking about this (while cleaning of course) that God cleans house (spiritually) the opposite of this method. He isn’t as concerned about the areas people can see, He goes straight for the things hidden in the closet! He throws the door wide open and exposes them all, discards many into the trash, and puts the rest in order.

      I remember in one of Kay Arthur’s bible studies, she referred to a time when she had a group of ladies over and said to them, “Open the drawers- look around, this is who I am. What you see is what you get!” What I believe she was saying was, “I have nothing hidden in my life that I have not asked God to put in order.” Now that’s the way to live!

      I hope I will be brave enough to open the drawers of my life fully to Him and accept His order. As I finish cleaning my house, I pray that God will be at work with His spring cleaning in my heart; getting rid of the things I’ve hidden in the closets.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

God Uses Mothers

God uses mothers as His own hands, to hold the baby tight,
And rock him gently in her arms, throughout a fussy night.

He uses her as His own eyes, to see his tender needs,
For love that’s unconditional, as patiently she feeds.

He uses her as His own voice, to speak of truths unknown,
To build his life on solid rock, until the time he’s grown.

He uses her as His own feet, to walk with Him each day,
And guide him on the narrow path, along God’s chosen way.

He uses her as His own ears, to hear him laugh and sing,
Listening to his gently prayers, as he calls upon the King.

A mother is God’s chosen one, for the child in her care,
And she’s been blessed because the Lord has placed the baby there.

As she serves the one on high, through motherhood’s demands,
May she realize that all her needs, are provided by His hands.


And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Isaiah 54: 13

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Heavy Heart

      Last week our town was touched by an overwhelming number of suicides and attempted suicides. Families were left in despair as they sought to answer the question, "why?" But there were no answers, only more questions. There were two that touched my life more than the others because they touched the lives of people I know. As I watched the rippling effect of loss and suffering move through the families left with so many unanswered questions,  I heard God's word's of truth spoken within my spirit-

          "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)

      I was reminded of the struggle we all face at low points in our lives. When we are overwhelmed and the enemy begins whispering his lies. I have been there myself at times, and I recognize his voice. They are his attempts to steal, kill, and destroy us. Jesus gives us this promise - "I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly."

       When we're feeling down and questioning the importance of our lives, may we be reminded of who we are to God and that He sent His Son to give us a life filled with abundance. An abundance of his love, joy, and peace.

A Garment of Praise for the Spirit of Heaviness

      Depression fell on me like a heavy blanket. Not the warm and comforting kind, but one that pressed in and held me down. A crushing heaviness formed in my chest, pushing my heart up into my throat, making it hard to swallow. Dread of everything, yet nothing in particular. Anxiety flooded in bringing feelings of danger; but the enemy remained elusive, unidentified.

      Fear entered next, walking in the shadow of dread; arriving so closely together, giving the appearance that they were intimate friends. As I began to entertain them, even slightly, I fell deeper into despair. Forgetting that they had no real reason for being here, I imagined one.

      Before long there was a line of guest at my mind’s door waiting to get in; past failures, mistakes, shame, embarrassment, regret; they were all there. I recognized their gloomy faces, they had visited before. Feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered I turned to grasp at something that would break my fall as I went down into the pit of despair.

      It was then I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror on the wall, reminding me of who I am. There on top of my head sat a crown of purest gold my Father had given me when I was born into His family. My Father is a King. I did not wear a heavy blanket, but a beautiful white robe He had made for me out of someone else’s righteousness – His son’s. His name was written on my forehead, identifying me as His own, a reminder that I would always belong to Him.

      Thankfulness began to fill me, praise leaped from my lips at the thought of Him. I could hear his angels singing and I joined them. Soon the heaviness was gone, and in its place I wore a garment of praise. The reality of Him was stronger than imagination, and my unseen enemy fled. He could not stand in the presence of my Father’s glory; he could not tolerate His praise. Joy, peace, love, hope and gentleness became my new guests; forgiveness my closest friend. Mercy came and grace. They comforted me and restored me to my rightful place as a daughter of the King.

          “…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;..” Isaiah 61:3

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Rock in My Shoe



Galatians 5: 16
I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

      While on my morning walk, I noticed something uncomfortable in my right shoe. It wasn’t enough to alter my pace so I just ignored it and kept walking. When I got home I noticed it again, but didn’t stop to do anything about it because there were dishes to wash and a letter to write before the mailman came.


      Whatever it was, it began rolling around by my toes, until I wasn't able to ignore it any longer. I stopped what I was doing and took off my shoe…out rolled a tiny pebble. Tossing it into the trash can, I couldn’t help feeling silly for walking all morning with a rock in my shoe – knowing it was there!

      I was reminded of other things tolerated in my life, things that don’t belong there and sometimes cause pain or discomfort. Little sins like irritability or impatience that so quietly creep into my heart. They aren’t hidden, I can feel them there. They keep rolling around in my attitude until enough discomfort is created that I dump them out to God.

      How much wiser it would have been if I had stopped and removed the pebble this morning the moment it was first noticed. And how much less heart ache would be caused for each of us and the people along our paths if we stopped and emptied out our hearts of those wrong attitudes the moment the Holy Spirit brought them to our attention?



      Father, forgive me for tolerating things I should be removing from my life. Those little pebbles can be worse than big boulders because I tend to ignore them. To you they are all the same – sin! Thank you that at any time I can pour them out before you in prayer, and you lovingly forgive me. Thank you for the lesson you spoke into my life today through a rock in my shoe. Amen

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Wind and Fire of Pentecost

Wind and Fire

      Not long after the resurrection, Christ ascended to the Father and sent the Spirit in His place. Why? To be our Helper and to lead us into all Truth! (John 14:16, John 16:13)

This is what Charles Spurgeon said about the Holy Spirit:
      "Now that we have the Holy Spirit from Christ as our inner life, the Holy Spirit comes upon us with the intent to use us in blessing others, and this is the manner of His visitation - He comes as the wind that carries the words we speak, as fire that burns a way for the truth we utter. Our words are now full of life and flame; they are borne by the breath of the Spirit, and they fall like fire-flakes and set the souls of men blazing with desire after God."

      He goes on to say, "If the Holy Spirit shall rest upon us to qualify us for service, it shall be in this manner - not merely of life for ourselves but of fiery energy in dealing with others."

Are you dealing with "others?"

      I was feeling overwhelmed with "others" today, which was a reminder that I was dealing with them in my own strength. Christ has sent the Holy Spirit "wind and fire" into our lives...His words, His power and strength.

      Let's pray as Charles did so long ago, "Come on us even now, O rushing mighty wind and tongue of fire, for the world has great need. It lies stagnant in dreadful night and needs the flaming torch of truth. There is neither health nor light for this world but from You, O blessed Spirit; come, then, upon it through Your people."

Can you feel the wind blowing? Do you feel the flame?

      And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. - Acts 2:3-4 NKJV

Saturday, April 3, 2010

He Lives!

The Shepherd and the Lamb
by Charlotte

Be our guiding Shepherd,
As we seek to follow you.
Throughout this life of trials,
Where old paths lead to new.

The places you once traveled,
When you walked upon this earth.
To show us of God’s saving grace,
And bring to us rebirth.

The mount where you were tempted,
And the lone spot where you prayed.
Are places you now lead us through,
Where others fell or strayed.

The tomb we pass is opened,
The light is shining in.
Reminders of your life in us,
And the ransom for our sin.

We’ll follow through the pearly gate,
Then on to streets of gold.
To a city you have made for us,
That your covenant foretold.

You’ll lead us by the crystal pool,
As its water sparkles clear.
Living springs prepared by God,
For those you beckon near.

We’ll walk along the river,
That leads us to the place.
Where God himself will be our light,
And we will see His face.

Then no more tears, no suffering,
When our eyes behold the throne,
As you take your holy place-The Lamb
Surrounded by your own.

“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
He will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Revelations 7:17

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lamb of God



John 3:16
For God so loved the world, He gave His only son.


Lamb of God

By Charlotte
"For God so loved the world" - that’s where it all begins,
He sent the perfect sacrifice, to heal the world of sins.

This Holy One named Jesus, the blameless Lamb of God,
The one who knew no sin, and lived where angels trod.

He yielded up his life, to die upon a tree,
Ransomed for the foolishness and sins of you and me.

The one who was the king of all, laid down His crown and died,
And only through His precious blood, can we be justified.

With just a whisper of His name, miracles abound,
The sick are healed, the blind can see, the lost proclaim they’re found.

For death could not contain Him, and hold Him in the grave,
He rose again in victory, humanity to save.
Reach out in faith and touch Him, and call upon His name,
Then you will know abundant life, and never be the same.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Turning Cares into Prayers

Do all women tend to worry? I do. It’s not because I want to, I just do. Even when I tell myself I’m not going to, before long, I am. It just sneaks up on me, unexpectedly. Sometimes it comes after a tense conversation with one of my boys, or a glance at my over booked calendar. Other times it wakes me up in the middle of the night. It’s not that I’m looking for it, but apparently it is looking for me. When allowed to, it will consume my every thought. I must stop at the first hint of it and turn it over to God.


Worrying is the opposite of peace, and to dwell on it is not just harmful to our well-being, it’s sin. The reason it’s sin is because it’s the opposite of trusting God and His promise to give us peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Eph. 4:5-7 NIV

As with most promises, receiving peace requires something from us – obedience. It requires us to pray and give thanks as the scripture says. We have to stop worrying long enough to look up; take our eyes off the situation and place them on God.

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7 NIV

Like most things in life, we tend to overcomplicate this very simple principle. The simplicity of these truths are condensed into this one statement – take all your cares and turn them into prayers. God’s promise of peace will take care of the rest.

Turning my cares into prayers is like literally lifting the weight of them from my shoulders and handing them to God. In return He gives me a peace that passes all understanding, and it guards my heart and mind from allowing the cares to sneak back in.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Words

Psalms 19:14

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.


Words

By Charlotte

My pen is filled with liquid words,
Just waiting to flow out.
To write a poem that points to God,
For those who harbor doubt.

It’s just a Bic with dark blue ink,
There’s nothing fancy here.
It holds no power of its own,
It moves when God draws near.

If all the words were gathered,
And stored within this pen.
Their weight could not be measured,
With instruments of men.

For God created words,
More important than we know.
With them we utter curses,
Or blessings we bestow.

He calls His son, “The Living Word.”
His written plan fulfilled.
God’s spirit pouring out of men,
On Bible pages spilled.

It’s not our words that matter,
Nor the silly thoughts of man.
But words placed in the heart by God,
And His pen placed in our hand.

For all the words belong to Him,
He’s the author of them all.
Let’s use them for His purpose,
And answer to His call.

Every pen or pencil,
Can write a praise or prayer.
Some can write a song or poem,
If only they would dare.

God can use the words you write,
To give encouragement.
To save a life that once was lost,
Because that note you sent.

The person who was lonely,
Can know the Saviors love.
Because you listened and obeyed,
The voice that’s from above.

Words can be a tiny spark,
To light hopes dying flame.
Speak life and love into a life,
That will never be the same.

They’re a candle in the darkness,
A light upon the hill.
Words spoken with compassion,
Empty, broken hearts can fill.
We’ll never know till God reveals,
All that words can do.
So if your hand can hold a pen,
These words were meant for you!

Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

(1 Corinthians 2:13)

 
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It's About Me...but It's not About Me!


      "Is this blog more about me than it is about God?" I asked myself this question as I gave it a make-over for the new season. Looking over the computer screen, I saw my picture there on the left side and thought to myself, "Well yes, there I am." No denying it was me...there in plain view! "So is this blog more about me than Him?" The question dug down deeper.

      Yes, it is my heart I share when I write a post; but I hope it is Him seen residing there inside it...and it is my life and family, my experiences that I write about; but is God's presence in those relationships clearly seen? When I write about lessons I've learned, does His loving, guiding hands appear between the lines of the posts; revealing that He is the Master Teacher of us all? I hope they do, because the world doesn't need one more person's opinion, least of all mine. What it does need is God, and to share Him was my original goal for this blog.

      I could never find the right colors, the right pictures, or words to truly give Him justice. He is so much more than I know or could ever think. That is why you see me on this page. It is my interpretation of His goodness, His greatness, and faithfulness, lived out in my fragile existence and documented through the limitations of words.

      My goal in life is to continually have more of Him and less of me, and that is what I want here too. It is a hard thing to do for a hard headed person like me. It is easy to get sidetracked - I have many times. I've tripped over my "self" and had to push me out of the way more times than I would like to admit.

       The plain simple truth of life is - we are all here to glorify God; that is our purpose, and self only gets in the way. For reasons that are beyond my comprehension, He chooses each one of us with all our limitations, to live in and through us. He wants to be a part of what we do and bring all of who He is into those limitations.

      My hope and desire for this blog is that  God would be seen and glorified here, not in spite of the limitations but through them.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

God uses Sticks and Stones...and Us!

      This morning as I got ready for church, I listened to Charles Stanley on the TV. Something he said really resonated with my spirit. It was that God wants us to know the truth about what's going on in our lives. Seems simple enough, yet it is so profound that the enemy is constantly at work to keep us from realizing it in our daily lives. If we knew the truth of God's plans for us today, we would take hold of them in confidence and not let go. Our very steps would be only a confirmation of the "Amen" we have already spoken in our hearts.

      Dr. Stanley used David's courage against Goliath as an example. David saw the situation, he heard the enemy taunting, he heard the Israelites; but more important to David was the truth God had spoken into his life during the many times David had called on Him in solitude. The times God's strength was made perfect in weakness, as a young shepherd boy fought a lion and a bear with nothing more than the weapons of a boy.

      David's tools were a sling and a stick, but his weapon was God! The truth built into David's life over the years was what David stood on the day he faced Goliath. It was the knowledge that God had anointed him "and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power," I Sam. 16:13. It didn't matter how strong the foe, what the odds looked like, or even what size David was; what mattered to David was the plan God had for his life and he believed that God could and would do what he said. He knew he was on the winning team and he saw himself winning, before he ever picked up a stone!

1 Samuel 17:45 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.....v. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
 v. 50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.

      If we took hold of the truth God is building in each of our lives, and those "good works" he planned for us to do long before He created the world, what kinds of things would we accomplish? If the only limit was the limit of His promises breathed into our lives through His written word, what kinds of things would we be capable of doing? Would the world remain the same...would we?
 
2 Corinthians 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God.
 
      Let us take hold of His promises, and by doing so we will say, "Amen" with our lives and bring glory to God!

Monday, February 22, 2010

What does hope look like?

I am ready for the cold and dark days to go away! How about you? Winter can be beautiful but seems so long...there is a danger of wilting!

 My flowers seem so happy when the sun peeks out and warms the ground. Isn't that similar to us, when God shines his light into our hearts and warms us with His presence.

"For God who created the light to shine out of darkness,
hath shined in our hearts..."  2 Corinthians 4:6



If I could pick something that reminded me of what hope looks like, I think I would choose a flower. The way it begins from a seed or bulb planted down in the dark ground, and at just the right time breaks through the dirt. It reaches upward and unwraps into a lovely flower!

What does hope look like to you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tied Up with Pantyhose



Tied up with Pantyhose

When the last storm passed through our area, it left behind it broken branches, leaves and nature’s debris all over our yard. It pulled some of our neighbor’s trees right out of the ground; roots and all! Three of our newly planted trees were leaning over precariously. Two of the stakes were broken and the third was pulled half way out of the ground. They were just young baby trees, and my “mother’s heart” knew I had to do something to save them or the next storm would surely do them in.

Apparently the skinny stakes the trees had been planted with weren’t adequate to hold them in the kind of storms that hit our little hillside. So I looked around the property for better stakes. All I could find in our pile of odds and ends at the barn, were T-stakes, so I picked out three and headed for the trees.

I don’t know if you have ever had the privilege of pounding in a T-stake, but if you haven’t, don’t feel bad. The Thing-a-ma-jigger (not sure that’s the right name) used to pound the stakes in is quite heavy. The T-stakes are 7 or 8 feet tall (or looked like it from where I stood) and I am 5’4”. My husband would call this, “An accident waiting to happen.” But I didn’t tell him, so he didn’t say it. I didn’t think about that. A “Mother’s heart” acts before it thinks.

So I got a ladder, which made me much taller, and managed to pound all three stakes into the ground – they didn’t look too bad. I can hardly lift my arms now, but I did it! All I needed now was something to tie the trees to the stakes. What could I use? I searched through the garage, didn’t find a thing. I needed something sturdy yet flexible so the trees could sway a little in the wind but not too much. Then I realized I had just the thing in the house– pantyhose!

After some digging, I pulled the pantyhose out of my top dresser drawer and used them to tie up the trees. It worked perfectly. I’m thinking my husband might question my methods, but hey – it worked! Knowing that there had to be a lesson in all of this that God wanted to teach me (He’s good like that), I asked Him what it was. For a second, I thought I heard Him laugh, but it must have been the wind blowing by.

What do young trees, a mother’s heart, a stake, and pantyhose all have to do with each other?

Hmm. As a mom I can see this could mean that God is that sturdy stake in our children’s lives (the baby trees) and for a time He allows us moms (the pantyhose?) to be the thing that ties the trees to Him while they are young. When the storms of life come and threaten to blow them down, we moms hold on to them and pull them back to God. As they mature, they need the pantyhose less and less as their roots develop and they learn to bend and not break in the wind.

One day the stake will be removed and the pantyhose will no longer hold the trees to it because the stake (God) will then reside within their hearts. It seems a little sad for the mom, but not really. As I look around the yard, I see the other more mature trees. They are tall and beautiful. They are sturdy and strong. They have been through many storms and stood their ground. When our children mature, they take their place next to us but are not held by us, as we grow up in God’s will, side by side.
Well, I guess that is one way to look at it.

(I wrote this before we had the big snow storm that broke a lot of trees on our property. I'm happy to say, the three baby trees held...the pantyhose did their job!)