When you are reading here whether you found me intentionally or accidently, please take time to leave a comment and let me know where you are and what you are thinking. I love feed back. Vondi

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

spring cleaning

Rachael is doing her spring cleaning. Now she learned to spring clean from ME so I really shouldn’t complain, but she is like an inexorable force plowing through the house. The dogs are all confused because she is home all day and they are used to having their days to themselves and me. They have their morning run and beg for bits of my breakfast then as soon as R & M leave it’s in on the bed for their morning nap. Nothing disturbs them until I go out for lunch; then, if there’s no rain, they go out for their noon tear-around-the-backyard. Annnnd then back in to snooze the afternoon away. This week everything is topsy-turvy.
First off, late Sunday evening R & M moved all the living room furniture to the garage. Lots of people content themselves with simply moving the furniture around. Not my Rachael! The furniture goes! I haven’t been evicted yet, but the promise is that it will happen tomorrow . . .or maybe tonight. I’m not sure.
Maxim's romping room
We have a big living room and Maxim believes it has been emptied to provide him with romping space. The little dogs, too, like racing from one end to the other. Even Mika got in on the fun yesterday morning when she played a little with Maxim. She can’t play long because her arthritis gives her grief, but she was wruffing at him and jumping around a bit, chasing the ball with him.
The only one who doesn’t care for the room is Coal. Cats prefer cozy corners and soft sofas. He feels very exposed in that big empty space, I think.
One of the biggest projects has been the painting of the stair wall and the hallway leading into the kitchen and den. Those areas were still white, the base coat that was on them when we moved in. Late Sunday evening I heard this ratcheting sound against the wall behind me. I couldn’t imagine what it was: Michael was removing the railing from the wall of the stairs.
As difficult as it seems that wall went quickly. Our living room has a vaulted ceiling and the stair wall goes straight up from the floor to the top of the roof. Michael has one of those ladders that adjust to put on stairs so other than the stretch to run the roller it wasn’t that impossible. It is now a pretty shade of green that matches the living room.
Rachael was telling me about Maxim’s reaction to the whole process this morning. Labs do more thinking that any other breed of dog, I think. They wouldn’t let him run up and down the steps behind them; that’s what he would have preferred to do. He has to be in the center of anything that is going on to keep tabs on the whole deal. But with the stair painting was more than a bit dangerous to have a big brown dog under foot; other times Rachael is used to just stepping around and over him.

The perch at the top of the stairs

Michael made Maxim stay on the balcony at the top of the stairs. He lay there and watched them paint. The first time they moved the ladder down a couple steps he really thought he needed to come and investigate but Michael sent him back to the landing. He went but then lay down just as close to the edge as possible and still be ‘on the landing.’ His toenails, not his toes, mind you, not his feet, but his toenails hung over the very edge. He looked down the steps at R & M with his wrinkles and ears falling forward around his eyes and nose. He watched intently as they edged and rolled the paint; Rachael said you could see him trying to figure out just what in the world they were doing. Why would anybody spend an hour petting the wall? It was immensely boring, but he watched every second of the process.
Finally they got to the bottom and took everything down. And Maxim was permitted to come down off his perch at the top of the stairs. He is so funny.
All day yesterday Rachael painted, edging the walls and finishing the kitchen. I’m sure he was relieved when she put the refrigerator back in place, and washed her paint pan and brush before she quit to go take her shower. Whew! What a long day! He was ready to lay down in the den chair to rest!
And today will be another big day. I believe the beautiful expanse of play space in the living room is gonna get scrubbed at some point in time-whether before or after the windows get washed. I don’t know.
More tomorrow. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

satan leaves us 'chronically dissatisfied'

While I was reading this morning the news was on in the background. A sound byte caught my ear. The commentator was saying that new studies indicate that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ may not, after all, be good for us. The psychotherapist or psychologist or behaviorist who was being interviewed (I didn’t catch it soon enough to collect this detail) was saying that people tend to go for the short term gratification rather than what is best for the long haul. When they do that they are ‘chronically dissatisfied” because the short term goals for happiness are seldom lasting and they are left always wanting more.
For me that statement can be compared to being dead tired but instead of stopping work, having a decent meal and a rest we grab a quick cup of coffee or an alcoholic ‘pick-me-up’ and keep going. The immediate effect is that we are no longer tired, but in the long run we crash. The immediate gratification is accomplished but once that initial spurt is gone we are still dead tired.
As happens so many times when I am here alone in the quiet of my room my mind extended this to the spiritual province. People often look at the children of God and ask, “How can they speak of joy when things are so bad for them? How can they say they have peace when their life and the world are in turmoil? How can they be happy when they have absolutely nothing to be happy about?” And the lady this morning gave me the modern psychological key to an answer. The child of God does not operate in pursuit of the short term goal. We don’t pursue temporal happiness.
I thought of Paul writing to the Philippians when he told them, “Now I want you to know and continue to rest assured, brethren, that what has happened to me [this imprisonment] has actually only served to advance and give a renewed impetus to the spreading of good news (the Gospel). So much is this a fact that throughout the whole imperial guard and to all the rest here my imprisonment has become generally known to be in Christ that I am a prisoner in His service and for Him. And also most of the brethren have derived fresh confidence in the Lord because of my chains and are much more bold to speak and publish fearlessly the Word of God [acting with more freedom and indifference to the consequences]. (Phil 1: 12-14 Amplified) Look at the long term benefits Paul was seeing in his bad times. His short term situation was not provoking of any joy or happiness or peace, but he was fixed on the Long Term.
Further down in the same chapter he reiterates again, 19For I am well assured and indeed know that through your prayers and a bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) this will turn out for my preservation (for the spiritual health and welfare of my own soul) and avail toward the saving work of the Gospel. Now look where Paul was aiming! This is in keeping with my own eager desire and persistent expectation and hope, that I shall not disgrace myself nor be put to shame in anything; but that with the utmost freedom of speech and unfailing courage, now as always heretofore, Christ (the Messiah) will be magnified and get glory and praise in this body of mine and be boldly exalted in my person, whether through (or ‘by’) life or through (or ‘by’) death. For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]. We can see by this that Paul wasn’t worrying about what was happening just at the moment. His Joy lay in the final accomplishment.
In this statement he is looking toward the “spiritual health and welfare” of his soul and that the work of the gospel might be accomplished. He isn’t looking for personal immediate satisfaction or accomplishment. His desire is that Christ might be lifted up and glorified by what ever is happening to Him. He is looking down the road for himself and others. His goal is the ‘joy set before him’ as was the vision of Christ when he endured the cross. (Heb 12:2)
The child of God has discovered that the pleasures of the world hold no lasting satisfaction. We might labor for the day or week or month to purchase some object or entertainment that lasts only for a short time and is gone, leaving us with an emptiness within. We might spend the night or the week in laughter and partying and fun, but when it is over there is nothing left but dust and brittle memories. We might purchase fine foods and exclaim how satisfying they are to the palate, but the next morning we are again hungry. The fine food satisfied no longer than a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk.
Jesus knew this when He said, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. And He talks of enduring satisfaction. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." (John 6: 14, 58) The child of God is partaking of that long term satisfaction and has his eyes on the long term goal.
The testimony of Paul, again in Philippians, has always been an encouragement: But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:7-14)
Paul wasn’t ‘chronically disappointed.’ His daily joy and satisfaction rested in the high calling of God in Christ. And there was his blessing. We should take note of his example and be sure our pursuit of happiness rests in achieving Christ’s ends and not the temporal ones of this world.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

surgery preliminaries

I had a very difficult day yesterday. That was my appointment for my pre-surgery physical and mobility evaluation. The day began at7:00 when I had to be at General Medical Consultants for my medical checks. Although it took almost two hours the results were excellent. The doctor actually seemed surprised to find my heart was normal and so was my pulmonary system. He asked if I had had any surgeries in the last three years, when I said no he went back longer and read off a long list of possibilities. And to each one I said no.
He referred to my chart and said, “That’s surprising! You are … 65 and never had any problems.” He double checked and sure enough it was true.   I've praised the Lord many times for His care over me through the years and here I was given definite verfication of those praises.
Then he checked the pulse in my lower legs and feet. I assume he was checking my pulse because he put his stethoscope at pulse points along my legs and feet. I was a little worried about what he might find with my circulation because my knees swell so often and sometimes I think the swelling cuts off the blood flow to my feet. But with both legs he remarked in a surprised voice, “Good!” “Very good!”
From my medical exam I went to the physical therapy section to have the range of motion in my knees checked and also to be given a series of exercises to begin practicing before surgery so that I could control swelling afterwards. A very nice young woman took me through those and answered several questions I had regarding rehabilitation.
The only problem with the whole process was the amount of walking that was necessary and the amount of time I had to spend sitting with my knees bent. Both of those activities cause severe pain in my knees. The more my knees hurt the more pressure I put on my shoulders and elbows to lessen the pressure on my knees. In spite of having all of the offices in one building I had quite a bit of walking to do. By the time I got home I was hurting pretty bad.
I took off those hateful pants that I had worn for the sake of modesty while I was rolling around on various exam tables and put on my comfortable dress. I grabbed a quick lunch and went to sit down. In spite of putting my legs up and supporting my elbows and shoulders I still hurt. I took aspirin and ibuprophen for the inflammation and pain. The pain receded but not completely. Two aspirin and two ibuprophen at once is a pretty hefty dose so I didn’t dare to take any more for six hours. Then I took two vicodin. Now the acetaminophen in vicodin may not do me any good at all, but the codeine certainly does! I was still so totally relaxed this morning that I wondered if my legs would hold me when I got up!
But God is good. I was actually surprised (I don’t really know why) to find everything looking so good for the surgery. Even my blood pressure was a very nice 126/73.
Today I am sitting with my feet up recovering from the effects of the pain drugs. LOL

Friday, March 4, 2011

by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm,

I’ve always been blessed by a particular concept in the Bible. The Old Testament tells us repeatedly how God saved his people by His Highty hand and Outstretched Arm. The first scripture describing this is in Deut4:33-35: God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors. . .Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.And again in Deuteronomy 26:8 And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:

The image of the arm of God reaching down to intervene in my behalf thrills me to the depths of my being. And I think again, “What, who am I that God would intercede for ME?” But I know He does exactly that. I may never have seen a literal arm reaching out to work for me, but I have certainly seen the effects brought about by that Arm. Not just once but many times. And I rejoice that when I come to Him as a humble petitioner that His Mighty Hand and Outstretched Arm will be extended for me.
I pastor I once sat under preached that we must ‘claim the gifts” of the spirit. I’ve known others who encouraged their congregations to “claim the power, claim the authority to do wonders in Jesus’ name” but to me that is too arrogant for words. That is Satan taking gifts of the Spirit and corrupting them for his own purposes. I have no ‘claim’ to such gifts or power and wonders.
It becomes a matter of pride for men to say, ‘I am a Christian and I ‘claim’ this power and this authority!”  It is a matter of overwhelming hubris.
I remember the first time I heard the word ‘hubris’ used. It was by a professor of Comparative Literature who was discussing the attitude of some Greek or other. I gathered the word’s meaning from the context but later I went and looked it up. Hubris is defined as excessive pride or arrogance; in classical tragedy it usually leads to the hero’s downfall. We find a trend in modern religion for men rise up in arrogance, in hubris and ‘claim’ the gifts of the Spirit and ‘claim’ the authority God has for us and ‘claim’ the power over demons and sickness and all other matters of life.
But how can I ‘claim’ something that is already working in my behalf. That Mighty Hand and Outstretched Arm thrill me. I don’t need to ‘claim’ it. It is already Mine! The gifts are there as the Father distributes them and all the tantrums we may throw demanding them or 'claiming' them won’t get us a gift that the Father doesn’t have for us. The only ones who find it necessary to “claim” the gifts are those who don’t have them. And the only ones who don’t have them are those who aren’t truly born again. They may ‘claim’ to be but the gifts will quietly follow their salvation not be more obvious that their righteousness.  If the righteousness isn't there then the gifts being displayed are false.  They are not of God but of Satan.
When Jesus sent the apostles out to teach He told them; The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give . . . And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. . .
Jesus didn't talk about giving prophecies or revelations.  He didn't instruct them to organize powerful events or miracle campaigns.  He sent them out to preach the Word. 
Some like to skip over that part and go right to the verses following it because those verses establish their right to ‘claim’ authority and is the source of their ‘power.’   17And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. Notice that they were rejoicing not in the message and the power of that Glorious Salvation, but in the more attention getting fact that they could cast out devils. Jesus said: Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:19-20). They had power over all things YET He said don’t rejoice in this, but rejoice because you name is written in heaven. Jesus simply gives us the power to do these things, but the most important aspect of our lives and ministry is the power of Salvation acting in the way we live from day to day.
Too many ministers today are rejoicing in the attention-getting, self aggrandizing thing like casting out devils, healing the body, ‘ministering’ in all and sundry areas, taking authority unto themselves more than glorifying Christ.  I look at the TV preachers and the those who command ‘mega-churches.’ WHO is being glorified and lifted up?  What do we see when we look at their organizations? Surely not Jesus; oh they are claiming (there’s that word again) to be doing a work for Jesus, but WHO do we think about when we look at those great healing campaigns and revival campaigns and huge church buildings and all the ‘outreach’?   Who do we see? Jesus? No, we think first of the Man who is running the show. We admire him; He is supposedly doing it in the name of Jesus, but, more importantly or rather more noticeably, he is building his own reputation and wealth, and popularity. It isn’t Jesus who is being lifted up; it is the man who is the charismatic organizer of the whole thing. It is not the Mighty Hand and Outstretched Hand of God, it is the Flesh being put on display by the natural talents of a Human elevating himself.
I don’t need to ‘claim’ any authority. It was given to me and it is there for me to use. I need not ‘claim’ any power over demons or sickness; it is there for me to use. I don’t need to build myself up by telling everyone how many prayers I’ve had answered or how the Lord has worked by my hand to heal thesick and injured. I need not claim any great revelations of God’s Plan for Mankind. Those things are already laid out in the Word.
All I need do is look to the Lord and say, “Father, I’m you child and you have promised me all these things. Now I’m asking that you would do this thing for me.’ And then I can pray the prayer of faith; I can rebuke any demon; I can preach or teach any message that God lays on my heart; I can see miracles happen through my prayers; I can see storm winds turned aside; I can see nature do the Will of God through my asking.
And others will see it too--not because I have taken the initiative in accomplishing these things, but because I have put myself in the background and lifted up Christ.
I think of the multitudes who came to Jesus and after Him, to Paul and Peter and John and all the others.
They didn’t go around telling every one about the miracles they had done.
They didn’t go and brag about the messages they had preached or the things that had been ‘revealed’ to them. They didn’t tell people about the demons they had cast out of men and women.
All they did was preach Salvation and glorify God. And all the miracles and healings and exorcisms followed after them.
Jesus told his disciples gathered with Him on the hill before He ascended into Heaven: And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. 20And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Mark 16:16-20 The signs followed the preaching of the Word, not after deep theological teachings, not after advertisements of great healing campaigns, not after self proclamation on the part of the disciples, but pure and simple preaching and teaching of the Word. 
The religious community today has the cart before the horse!  They are elevating the miracles and works above the preaching of the Word.   But that isn't the order that Christ established.
When Peter and John were preaching in Samaria a man named Simon was impressed by the miracles the performed that he came and asked that they Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.
But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money.Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. After Peter’s rebuke the man did repent, but we aren’t told that he asked any more for that power. He didn’t have that pride that demanded the show.
I’m so thankful that God is faithful. And he cares for me with His Mighty Hand and Outstretched Arm. I only need to ask Him!
It isn’t by MY strength or MY power but by the power of God. Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit Zech 4:6   Amen! I need not ‘claim’ any authority or might or power, it is right there-- at the end of that Mighty Outstretched Arm. Thank you, Lord!