Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Piano Lessons

Rebecca was one of three, her sisters Ramona and Roberta, sat quietly waiting for their piano lessons to be over with. They were triplets, and Mrs. Salvino had agreed to teach all three of them to play the piano, their lessons were on Tuesday afternoons, after school. Ramona and Roberta liked to play the piano, and they were pretty good at it, but they were also anxious to get home. The lessons always made the day seem so long. Rebecca’s lesson always took longer than the others. And, she always went last, so she could take her time. She didn’t learn any slower than the others, but she enjoyed her lessons more than the others. She was enveloped by each piece of music she’d play. It was as if each song took her away to somewhere else. Mrs. Salvino didn’t mind at all, she always looked forward to when Rebecca would play for her, but sometimes Ramona and Roberta would think that enough was enough, and want desperately to go home, but, they waited.
Yesterday Ramona wasn’t feeling well, so she didn’t go to school or to her piano lesson. She’d been home in bed instead. When Rebecca came home from their piano lessons, she was all bubbly and couldn’t wait to run up to Ramona’s room and tell her all about the days excitement, which for her was mainly centered around their piano lessons. While Roberta slowly came through the door, their mom could see that she was coming down with whatever Ramona had. So she was shuffled off to her bed. As she came through the door to their bedroom, she could hear Rebecca running at the mouth about the new piece Mrs. Salvino had given them to play today.
Roberta shouted at her, “Becky, shut up already. Do you really think that Ramona feels like hearing all that? Do you think anybody else in the world besides you really cares about that? It’s only a song Becky, it’s only a song. No big deal. So just shut up.” Rebecca wasn’t all that surprised at Robert’s attitude toward the music, “She just doesn’t understand music the way I do,” she thought, “but, what’s with this shut up stuff? Mom never lets us talk to anyone that way, especially not to each other.”
Ramona agreed inside about the music, but she did think that Roberta was more than a little rude. She told Rebecca, “Maybe it’s because she’s just not feeling well, I’ve felt rotten all day myself.”
Rebecca smiled at her and walked out of the room. It wasn’t the first time she felt offended for liking music so much, and she was sure it wouldn’t be the last. When she went to bed that night, she wondered all the way into her dream, “Why doesn’t anyone like music as much as I do? Why can’t I share what I feel inside with anyone? What’s wrong with people?”
This morning at the breakfast table Rebecca listened to Dad telling Mom about the meetings he had at work yesterday, when all of a sudden she recognized the words he was using sounded strangely familiar. He was talking about an ad campaign he’d thought up that he thought was just dynamite, and no one else could see what he saw. The words he questioned her mother with rang through her ears like an echo, “What’s wrong with people? Why can’t I show them what I mean? Why can’t anyone else grasp these concepts like I do? Is it too complicated, or what?” Her mother just smiled and poured him some more coffee. Rebecca thought, “Mom doesn’t know either.” She wondered if anyone ever felt the same on the inside about anything. “Do people ever really communicate anything to each other?” she asked her father. As he slurped down his last gulp of coffee he nodded his head, and added, “Sometimes, but I think it’s quite by mistake.” And off he ran with his briefcase in his hand and a scowl on his face.
As her mother cleared the table of dirty dishes, she sensed that Rebecca had a few questions for her, so she sat down next to her and asked, “What’s on your mind, honey? Has Daddy troubled you?”
“No, no, Mom, I just wondered if everyone has trouble communicating like I seem to,” she replied. “What trouble are you talking about?” her mother asked and brushed a few crumbs off the table and into her hand. “Well, Mom,” she started, “Mona and Bert don’t seem to get the same thing out of the songs we play at Mrs. Salvino’s house as I do. To them, they’re just songs, to me, it’s a whole new world that’s just invited me in with the introduction notes. It’s like I can feel the song being played on the inside of me too. Do you understand, Mom?”
“I understand your love for music a lot more than I understand your father’s campaign ideas,” she chuckled and then added, “I used to love to play the piano myself as a girl, but, now I guess I’m just too busy to take the time.”
Rebecca insisted, “No, Mom, if you understand how I feel about it, you’d make the time and something else would fall by the wayside, not the piano. Maybe no one else in the world feels this much love for music, maybe I’m the only one.”
Her mom held her hand and said, “Honey, maybe you won’t be able to communicate this feeling to anyone else until they begin to feel it, too. Maybe your father won’t be able to share his ideas with anyone until someone else begins to see things the way he does. I know myself, that I can’t express the joy of Jesus to anyone else, unless they’ve already begun to feel His love and forgiveness themselves. I can tell them and tell them, until I’m exasperated and I can try in my own way to show them. But, until they step out in faith and inquire of God themselves, they can’t know what I’m talking about. Even your father, God knows I’ve tried to live a godly life before him, and to show him God’s love in every way I can think of, but, he doesn’t know that joy, that peace and comfort, the love of Jesus that I know. Sometimes I think that if I can’t communicate this to my own spouse, who can I tell? Who can I reach? But, even though I sometimes feel like a failure, like I can’t get through to people, I’ll never stop trying. The joy is too great. Becky, the joy of music is so great to you; you’ll never stop playing that piano. The joy of Jesus is so great to me; I’ll never stop telling the story, that precious story of what Jesus did for me. Am I communicating this to you, honey?” she ended with a smile. Rebecca felt like her eyes were just opened. This is how Mom feels about Jesus, oh how great her love must be. Just imagine feeling this way about somebody. I’m gonna check this out.
“Well, Mom, I’m going to go upstairs and do a little reading before I go to school, maybe you should pray for Mona and Bert, they really look like they feel bad,” she said. Her mother laughed and said, “You don’t think I…” and she paused for just a second, “I think I will, dear. I think I will.”
Up the steps went Rebecca, with an air of excitement about her. She grabbed her mother’s Bible off the bedside stand and took it into the bathroom and began to read it. She wanted to find this love for herself. She read until her mom shouted that the bus was coming, and she left it there to come back to after school.
Later, as her mother went upstairs to check on Ramona and Roberta, she saw that her Bible was on the bathroom sink. A look of puzzlement disappeared as she realized how it got there. She skipped with glee into the girl’s room and found them awake. They were sure surprised to see their mom skipping, so of course, she stopped at once. They all laughed. Roberta asked, “What’s up?” Their mother sat down on the side of her bed and said with tears in her eyes, “I know an old story that I want to tell you…”
They all got comfortable as Mom started again, a story which she’d told them so many times before, a story that filled her with joy every time she thought of it. Maybe her communication to these two daughters of hers would be about as clear as Rebecca trying to share a song with them, but, the joy was too great, so great she couldn’t keep it inside.
Communicating Jesus is more than just a skill, more than just a talent, it’s an anointing. I can’t share anything with you that you don’t receive, but I’ll never stop trying. It might just take time…..

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Kung Fu Fighting - Our Defenses

Kung Fu Fighting
Our Defenses

Too often we feel defenseless. Too often we cower at the feet of the enemy and resign ourselves to the position of the victim. Too often we are just ignorant of the defenses God designed specifically for us to use. He has prepared an arsenal of defense weapons that cannot fail us. The weapons of our warfare are not for God to use for us, they are for us to use against our common enemy.
Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shall be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
We act unwisely when we ignore the rule book for any game. Rule books are filled with not only the rules of the game, but also the benefits of playing the game correctly. Rule books allow us to see the easiest way to accomplish getting from point A to point B, as well as options to pick up as many winning points along the way as possible and strategies to prevent our opponents from triumphing over us or taking away from our winnings. Thinking of a popular board game such as Parcheesi, you can easily see how you would lose your place on the board if you didn’t know your opponents can boot you back to your starting place. But by planning strategies based on the rules, it’s easier for you to make it around the board and safely home. If you choose not to pay attention to the game and move carelessly around the board, an opponent playing to win will easily defeat you.
Our game is actually not a game at all, but the most costly adventures of life and death. The rule book is all the more important. But, sadly, too often we ignore it, or choose to try to win life without knowing much at all about the Way to get there. We cannot just depend solely on what others tell us. Remember the old game called Gossip? How quickly a message can be altered before it gets to you!
If thinking of the Bible as a book of rules turns you off, think of it as a book of possibilities and benefits you can’t afford to ignore. A wise old woman once told me a story about a young couple who traveled to another country for a vacation. A rule, or “possibility” for entering this country was that any one wearing red shoes when crossing the border was given $500 to spend in the country however they chose. The young couple thought they knew enough about traveling to enjoy their vacation without reading any materials they were given about this obscure vacation area. Upon entering the country, they were thrilled to see cash being given out to all the people who entered just before them, hearing the excited exclamations of their fellow travelers. With anticipation, they had their passports stamped, but proceeded without receiving any money at all. They weren’t disappointed, no, they were angry. Why were all the other vacationing travelers getting something they weren’t? Much to their frustration, they soon learned that had they read the materials they were given, and worn red shoes across the border, they too would have an extra $500 to enjoy spending for little to no effort on their part.
Too often we find ourselves wondering why we didn’t get the bonus. But just as in the case of the young vacationers, it’s our fault. Not because we’re bad people, but like the young couple, we haven’t read the information we were given. Not only did the couple not wear red shoes across the border, they didn’t even know they’d receive a bonus if they did. In our own lives, there are blessings that God wants to pour out on us, but we’re “not wearing the red shoes.” I don’t know any more about the young couple, but perhaps the information they were given would also have warned them about predators in the country or traps and pit falls that were commonly found where vacationers frequent there. Perhaps they’d have learned of ways to protect themselves from those who would take advantage of them and their foreign ways. Maybe they’d even end up in jail for breaking a silly law they were unaware of, paying the penalty for not knowing.
Is that what we Christians are doing? Are we paying or suffering simply for not knowing, lack of knowledge? The knowledge is there. God hasn’t cruelly left us in this world without defenses. He has lovingly provided us with everything we need and more. He grieves as He watches us put ourselves through torment, needlessly. He saves the tears we cry as we go through situations without His readily accessible help. He reaches out to us as we turn away from Him. That’s the price we both pay because He has allowed us to choose. He hasn’t forced His Way on any of us, but allows us to choose which way we will go, or how we will use what He’s given us to finish the race.
Our weapons are not of this world. They are supernatural and more powerful than even fiction writers can put to paper. In your own time with God, private or with friends, explore our arsenal.
Some of the things satan sends to beat us down are things we chalk up to everyday things that everyone goes through. But we can defeat them. Things like depression, and anger, bitterness, jealously and resentment. We can defeat the big things too, like disease and even death. You wouldn’t take your toddler into a busy place and just leave them there to fend for themselves. Neither would our Heavenly Father.
Look through the Bible for your own weaponry. Do words searches. Some of our weapons and defenses include the armor of God described in Ephesians 6:10-18, which includes the shield of faith, the sword of the Word, the breastplate of righteousness, the helmet of salvation, the belt of truth, sandals of peace and good news - complete covering.
Prayer (1 Kings 9:3) and fasting (Matthew 6:17-18) are limitless treasures of strength and dignity for the battle.
Submission as used in James 4:6-7 is particularly powerful. When I submit to God, I'm crawling under the covers with Him, I'm safe, I've knowingly and willingly placed myself under His authority and rule, as well as His protection.
Submit: 1. To give in to the authority, power, or desires of another. 2. To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.
Our strongest defense is a great offense-don’t perish for lack of knowledge that’s already freely been given to you.
Scripture References

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God,I also will ignore your children.

The Armor of God
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

1 Kings 9:3 The LORD said to him: "I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there."

Matthew 6:17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

James 4:6 But He gives more grace. Wherefore He says, God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Grown Up Worries

When you were just a little girl
The world was simple and small.
There wasn’t much to be anxious about
Or cause you to worry at all.
Faith came so easily, trust was just there,
We knew that we weren’t in control.
What is it that’s changed between
childhood and now?
We’ve let doubt take it’s toll on our soul.
What’s the secret to that childlike faith?
How did we sleep at night?
There must be a way to get it all back,
A way to make everything right.
Did we know more when we were a child?
Have we forgotten the basics of living?
A good place to start as we take back our lives,
Would be laughing and playing and giving.
Let’s go back to being God’s own little girls
And give back control of our days.
We’ll promise to worry when God says we can,
And feel fear when He says it’s okay.
We’ll rest when He tells us it’s time to relax.
We won’t let adult things cause worry.
We’ll laugh for no reason and cry when we want
And deadlines won’t make us hurry.
We’ll pray every morning, we’ll pray every night
And refuse to doubt angels are real.
We’ll smile at our trials and scoff at our pain,
Feeling each feeling we feel.

~Helen Williams! c 2006

Monday, April 19, 2010

What Questions Do You Have?

What ever happened to the nails,
The ones that were forced through the flesh of my Lord?
Who pulled them out of His hands and His feet?
Surely they dripped with His Blood.
Were the nails just tossed aside or kept to be used again?
Were they tucked in the pocket of a bystander’s robe?
Did His mother embrace them or would she have hurled them away?
Did they inspire compassion and love or perhaps panic and fear?
Were they rusty old nails that had been used before to hold someone else to a cross?
Were they special in any way to the eyes of the crowd, did the guards pay attention at all?
Once removed they had to be covered with Blood, who’s hands did it get on?
Whatever happened to this one or the several who held them?
I’ve not heard a legend passed down though the ages that tells just what happened that day.
They were instruments used in the greatest of plans, surely God knew how special they’d be.
And what of the crown made of thorns that He wore?
Was it taken by someone He loved?
Did it fall from His head to be trampled upon?
Was it broken in pieces and then blown by the wind?
The cross that He laid on to be nailed to and die,
was the wood then just used on a fire?
Did His friends who there stood as the cross was let down
seek to cherish the things that He touched?
Was hatred and anger the rage of their tears?
Did they fathom just what had gone on?
As they bathed His dead body and prepared for His grace,
did they hold Him and grieve out loud?
Were they quiet and reverent, overwhelmed by the day?
Could they sleep that night at all?
Had they failed Him? Had they betrayed Him?
Did they feel that they had been betrayed by Him?
Did they totally let go, believing they had put their faith in a mere man? ~Helen Williams! c 2002

A 'Control' Poem to Follow Up

Since God and I have gone 'round and around with this control issue - I've written a thing or two about it... Here's one of the poems to be birthed from the struggle.

Beginning again but we’ll try
something new
We should have started this way before.
In our hearts we know more than our minds can imagine
That’s why we attempt this once more.

In our hearts is a voice that says,
“Listen to Me.”
But our mind says, “I know what I’ll do!”
We start out again to arrange
things our way
In the end it’ll look misconstrued.

Everyone who will turn and will give
us the time
Can easily see what we’ve done
Perhaps not out loud,
but they’ll laugh when they see
For we’re right where we’d thought
we’d begun.

“Try again,” we’ll feel prompted and sigh
and sit down
And we’ll try it a new way today.
Once again in our hearts that ol’ tugging
we’ll feel
As God prompts us to do things His Way.

But our head tells us differently,
“Try it like this!”
And our heart tries so hard to chime in.
But it knows deep inside that this way
will not work
And we’re doomed to repeat it again.

So the struggle is getting our mind to obey
What we know in our hearts we should do.
For our mind says to do things the way
of our past
And our heart says,
“Let’s try out the new!”

In the past we were sinners so
lost in our way
But then Jesus came into our heart.
But we’re trapped in the ways that our minds used to think
Forgetting we get a new start.

So first we must stop and just listen to God
And determine what He has to say,
If we take time to pray about all that we do
We will hear when He tells us His Way.

The instructions He gives us may not
sound quite right
But that’s where our faith must come in.
If instead we turn back and search out
our own way
That’s not only dumb, it is sin!

So to add to the problems of doing our task
Planning out the right path we should take,
We drag in a bag that we can’t even see,
The conscience convictions we make.

Now the planning gets harder and harder
each time
And the grip of our sin just gets tighter,
If our minds would just stop and try
listening to God
We would find that the burden gets lighter.

But our mind is accustomed to being
in charge
And our hearts have to fight tooth and nail.
For our heart knows a joy it is dying to share
But our minds dig up fears that we’ll fail.

So we struggle with words like,
“Renewing our mind,”
And it tears us apart at the soul.
But the secret is simple,
our hearts know it well
~Give up and give Jesus control!
~Helen Williams! c 2002

Sunday, April 18, 2010

At Any Cost

At Any Cost
Our Rebellion

“I’m not giving in, not at any cost!” is not something we as Christians are likely to consciously say out loud to God. When we rebel against what God wants and insist on our own way in any given situation - we are most likely in denial about it, or perhaps don’t even recognize what we’re doing. The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. So generally speaking, it’s not something that we’re open about doing. But, we do rebel, and we are stubborn, far too often.
Rebellion would be the opposite of submission. So perhaps it’s easier for us to say that sometimes we’re not the best at submitting - but we would never openly rebel against God. We make jokes about being stubborn and wanting things our own way, but maybe we just didn’t realize how bad this is in God’s eyes. Why is it shameful for a small child to openly throw a fit and rebel against her parents, especially in public? Yet we pout when God doesn’t do things our way.
We rebel when we pray against God’s Will. We rebel when we don’t pray at all. We rebel openly every single time we disobey Him.
Lately when anger comes upon me, or when I begin to act out of character, or when the urge comes over me to use profanity - I’ve begun to recognize God telling me that there is rebellion in my life.
Just the other day at a public pool I found myself getting very angry over petty little things. They had some of the dumbest rules, and the lifeguards were being particularly snotty at pointing out to me when I or my grandchildren did something not permitted - like the swim vest one child was wearing had (very small) flotation devices sewed into it. It was against the rules to wear it there. Later that same grandchild couldn’t sit up on the ledge of the hot tub with me. Come on, I knew he wasn’t allowed in the tub with me, but really, I thought they were being petty and it went beyond annoying me, to the point of anger, seemingly from no where. As I stood there in the pool, child clinging to me - it dawned on me. There was a spirit of rebellion controlling me! As soon as I prayed it went away. I quietly personalized a great quote from James 4:7 (Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.) “Lord, I submit myself to You, therefore, and I resist satan and he must flee from me right this minute! I’m sorry for allowing anger and rebellion to control my thoughts and my actions, please forgive me Lord.” Now because I was at the pool trying to have fun with my husband and my grandchildren - I didn’t really give it much thought after I told my husband how the anger miraculously vanished. But, had I let satan continue to badger me, and allowed my anger to get the better of me, we’d have surely gotten ourselves kicked out of the pool, permanently.
Rebellion has a subtle way of working it’s way into our hearts undetected, until it serves it’s purpose and we’ve committed sin. That is, unless we’re on guard. We need to guard our hearts. We need to be on the look out for the “little things” that sneak into our lives and slowly begin to take over.
We may not even realize what it is that we’re in rebellion about until we pray about it. I don’t really think that I was just in rebellion about the rules at the pool the other day. Obviously this is a touchy subject, even for me. I honestly want to believe that I submit myself to God, all the time. But this is something that takes a concentrated effort. It’s not in our human nature to submit.
At the beginning of all human relationships God says to the woman, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." (Genesis 3:16) That your desire should be for your husband doesn’t sound like part of a punishment, but when you study that phrase a little bit, you’ll find that it actually means that your desire will be to rule over your husband, but God goes on to say that instead, our husbands will rule over us. We can see clearly that woman in her fallen state today still wants to wear the pants in the family, she want to be the one in charge. But as Christian women, women who have been made right with God, we are to submit to our husbands -and to do it lovingly, with humility and meekness. Notwithstanding, our Christian husbands are to love us as Christ loves His Body, the church.
So often we rebel against our husbands, but even more we rebel against the God that created us to submit lovingly. Maybe the particular problem we have isn’t with our husbands, some of us aren’t even married. What do we rebel against so vehemently? Since rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft to God, do we need to look any further to find out why some of our prayers seem to go unanswered?

Monday, April 12, 2010

He Gives Life - Just Because He Loves Us

John 11:33-35 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept.

Just as Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled when He saw Mary (Lazarus' sister) crying - so He is when He sees us cry, and He cries with us, as He did with Mary. BUT - He has the power to change things - as He did for Mary. Mary wept because her brother lay dead in his grave - Jesus brought him out of the grave and filled him with life again. He'll do the same thing for us, He'll bring life back into what we believe to be dead. Not because we beg Him, not because we're good enough, not because we bargain with Him - but because He loves us.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My Resurrection Day Poem

Oh, dear Lord, let me be Your pen,
every now and then, write with me.
Oh, Lord, just now I pray,
that You would choose today-
to speak through me again.

I love You, Precious Jesus,
Thou art my Holy God.
I'll praise Your Name forever,
and before You I shall bow.

I'm so privileged, Lord, to be chosen,
among the few and many here,
to carry out that priceless call,
to cleanse from hearts such fear-
For only by Your grace and mercy sent out with Your Love,
can we receive, as I have done, the gifts within Your love.

The gifts, oh Lord, which do contain more than we can hold,
such peace and joy and freedom, Lord, to keep as we grow old.

Set free now by the Blood You shed, upon Mount Calvary,
a freedom that will never bind, this freedom, Lord, is free.
Our spirits now will never know, the depths of hells dark tomb,
we'll soar to heights so high above, now searched, through
Jesus' wounds.

The wounds that we ourselves inflicted, now bleed such precious
Blood, to cover and protect us with unmeasurable seas of love.
That love that searches out our hearts, and reaches down inside,
and lifts us up above despair, with a promise to abide,
It's never ending, never weakening strength just fills our souls,
it bursts right through those stifling cords, sin must loose it's hold.

Rejoice, rejoice, my soul must sing, it's Resurrection Day-
the love of God shakes everything, only Godliness remains.

The gloomy shield that satan carries is not in my path,
Yes, to the right or to the left, I need not look to that,
I'll keep my eyes on Jesus Christ, blest anchor of my soul-
and leave to Him where I shall go, I surrender all control.

His bleeding hands shall hold me close, from His Blood I'll not retreat.
This Blood I want, I need on me, from head down to my feet.
This Blood is not repulsive, to quickly be washed off,
I cannot wash away this Blood, it's me it washes off.
I am the dirty sinful girl that Jesus reaches for-
To wash and cleanse me with His Blood, that I might sin no more.
I gladly run to the fount of His Blood,
and see the mount of His shame,
I cry at the pain that I put Him through,
and still He calls out my name.
My name, what am I to Him? I ask,
but with love in His eyes I can see.
He looks through my heart which is His alone,
and He sees no sin in me.

~1989 Helen Williams! c 2002