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Friday, May 18, 2012

a 'disclaimer'

You may notice there are two blogs and an edit that happened today.  That's because I've developed a bad habit of writing my blogs in Wordprocessing and promising myself I'll get them posted.  And of course you know where it goes from there.   Even the blog for the 16th wasn't published until today, even though I wrote it on the 16th.  The other two happened 'sometime' but I didn't get the dates on them so I just let them show as today.
So don't think I've suddenly become a prolific writer today. I'm just moving things from my documents to here.  

quiet time?

33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. ( KJV)  Matthew 6:33
One popular denomination puts a great deal of emphasis on what they call ‘quiet time’ and the need for reading the Bible and prayer.  Now there is absolutely nothing false about our need for reading the word and communicating with the Lord.  That is utterly and extremely vital if we are to be strong Christians and make heaven out home.
The difficulty comes in when an attempt is made to regiment our study and prayer.  A recent ‘devotion’  from one of the preachers in this group said: Everyone struggles with quiet-time consistency from time to time. Know that if you’re struggling with it, you’re not alone! The good news is that with a common problem comes some common solutions.  And following that statement is a list of things we can do to MAKE ourselves more consistent in maintaining our ‘quiet time.’  There is more emphasis on the ‘quiet time’ than on WHY our daily fellowship with God is important.
The solutions consist of making quiet time part of 1) making a covenant with God; 2) writing the ‘quiet time’ into your weekly schedule as in writing it in your day planner; 3) being prepared for Satan to oppose and interfere with your ‘quiet time’  4) maintaining your ‘quiet time’ appointment consistently for six weeks so it becomes a ‘habit’ and finally 5) depending on God’s power to make it happen.
The devotion began with a scripture.  But more than anything else, put God's work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33 CEV) The same one I quoted at the beginning of this page.
Here is where the problem comes in.  The emphasis in the modern translation is skewed away from the intent of the Word.  The emphasis is on Works (which is strange because this denomination emphasizes that our salvation is not by works…. )  The emphasis in this translation is on doing the works of God.    This takes away the true focus of what Jesus was saying. 
Many people condemn the KJV as old fashioned and poorly translated, but here is the difference right here.  Notice what the KJV says 33But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  When we seek to DO before we have found the essec nce of the kingdom of  God and His righteousness keeping that time with God is very difficult.  We can only seek the kingdom and righteousness by getting intimate with God, by spending deep one on one time with Him.  It doesn't happen by 'doing the works.'
When we have been born again, consecrated to serving God in ‘spirit and in truth’ and not just trying to serve him in a superficial professing way, it is not hard to find time to read the Bible or pray.  It is something our love for Him compells us to do.
When we are born again and consecrated to understanding and serving God from the heart out, we are drawn constantly into the Word.  It honestly does become as vital to us as eating and breathing.  We become so hungry that we are pulled to God’s table, just as when we are hungry our entire focus becomes getting something to eat.
Think about it.  We don’t have to ‘schedule’ a time to eat everyday.  We come to the kitchen automatically when our stomach begins to rumble!  We don’t have to ‘schedule’ a specific time to take a breath.  It is vital to us, we automatically remember to do it. 
When we have been truly born again, when the old man has been destroyed and we are ‘new creatures in Christ Jesus’ our need for communication with the Heavenly Father becomes as compelling for us as eating and breathing.  Now just like eating, we can choose not to eat and if we do that long enough, we lose our appetite and may eventually even die.  It is exactly the same with our communication with God.  Our inner man will yearn toward that time with God, but we can ignore him, just like we ignore a rumbling stomach sometimes.  Eventually we won't feel the desire any more.
There have been those who chose for various reasons refuse to eat for long periods of time.  There have been incidents when those people died.  If we deny the hunger of our soul we will die spiritually. 
Search your heart. Are you having difficulty ‘scheduling’ your ‘quiet time?’  Do you have to remember to read your Bible?  Do days go by without your spending time with God?  Have you forgotten to eat lunch or dinner during those days?   Where exactly does your devotion lie?  Are you truly seeking after the things of the kingdom and the righteousness of God?
Religious denominations have things backward today.  The emphasis is on things and activities-- going to church regularly, attending bible study, dressing in a certain way, helping out at the food pantry or homeless outreach.  But any sinner can do those things.  Those things aren’t evidence of our relationship with God.  Evidence of our relationship with God shows in our dedication to living our lives pleasing to Him; it shows in our willingness to lay aside sins and habits of the flesh and being determined to comprehend all that he wants us to d;  it shows in our desire to spend time with Him in our 'closet' of prayer and time with the Word.  Instead we rely on providing outward evidences of our salvation—being in church services and bible studies, working in the congregation etc.
If we are having to schedule our Bible reading and prayer in order not to forget it, we are taking hold of the wrong end of the stick.   The bible reading and prayer times come AFTER and BECAUSE OF our consecration to the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  If our Bible reading and prayer times are difficult to maintain, we should be searching our heart to see how consecrated we are to the kingdom and His righteousness.
Once the consecration is there you will WANT to spend time with Him.

early morning thoughts. . .again

A while back,  at 300 AM,  I woke up with a silly song in my head, “All God’s children got a place in the choir.” It’s a funny little song that Celtic Thunder sings, but it does describe how each of God’s People has a place in His Work and His Kingdom. He has a design for all of us.  My mind went from there to my visit with Luci to thoughts and prayers for Dessie and then thoughts on the depth of the stillness in the night.  What was the neatest thing though was that in all those things the presence of God was the key point.    
Isn’t it fantastic to have your life centered in the Lord?  The thoughts of Luci and Dessie and the stillness, even the cute song, were all ordinary everyday concerns and nothing that would shake the foundations of the earth and yet there was the presence of God running like a silver glow through them all. I can’t describe how living for the Lord changes your whole outlook on life.  I can’t explain how His Presence influences your thoughts and goals and attitudes.  I can’t express how it feels to be wrapped in the giant comforter of His Love. I can’t tell you how it is to be held in the palm of His hand but it is such a great place to be.
And if you wake up early or late with a riot of plans and headaches and worries running through your head I can only wish that you would get to know my Lord.   He doesn’t take us out of the world, but He certainly takes the world out of us. He changes our focus to eternal things. He organizes our life. And that is pretty wonderful.
Rachael was telling us at dinner one night of rescuing a sparrow that had some how gotten in the store.  Company policy directed that they call ‘pest control’ and have them remove it, but she knew that the outcome of that would be the death of the sparrow.  She commented to one of her young associates that she wished they could catch it and release it outside.  
A short while later, the little bird flew into a window and stunned itself.  The two young guys that Rachael commandeered to help her thought she was a little crazy to be climbing to the top of the floral cooler to get a little bird.  An older customer got a little chuckle out of hearing their rather vehement discussion about it.   But when she held the tiny thing cupped in her hands wrapped in a Kroger T-shirt, the customer came by to see if she had caught it and both of the young associates wanted to see it before she turned it loose.  She said they both stood by her when she unfolded the shirt from around the sparrow and let it flutter to the bushes behind the store and then fly away.
Do you KNOW how many people would never have thought to rescue it and release it?  Do you KNOW how many people there are in this world who have never held a tiny bird in their hands?  Rachael gave a couple teenage boys a lesson in compassion and wonder. I’m proud of her.
I’ve held little animals and birds cupped between my palms and that is exactly the way I envision the Lord holding his own—gently enclosed in the warm safety of those two giant hands.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

accomplishing a lot

Big day. It’s only 930 and I’ve cleaned up the kitchen, done two loads of laundry.  Have the third in the dryer now. Got the living room cleaned up—well, the dog toys picked up (the basket has been dumped already, but they are at least not scattered all over)
I spent last night itching all over my face and nose and head!  One of the cats, probably Spider, slept on my pillows or blankets yesterday.  I’m not allergic to cats, but they do make my eyes and nose itch if they are on my face. So first thing this morning, I folded Seth’s pants and put my blankets and pillowcases in the washer.  While I was at it I washed the rest of the dirty clothes in my basket.    I think I may have made a mistake telling Keva she could put her dirty clothes in my basket once.  I found three pair of pants, two shirts and several towels, that I KNOW I didn’t put in there.  Hmmm.
But they’re all clean now. 
Last evening was the SODA music program concert.  Seth played in the Guitar I group.  He plays really well.  I was proud of the whole group.  They aren’t being taught the country music strum and chord way, but taught real music.  A couple Beethoven pieces and a Bach—simplified for guitar, of course—a couple classical guitar pieces, several Spanish traditional pieces were all part of the program. The more difficult pieces were performed by the Guitar III group but there were some nice pieces by the I and II groups too.  The finale of the evening was a rendition of the MASH theme.  It was great.
The only thing that marred the evening was the squeaking of the doors as different ones slipped in and out.  The people were quiet and there would not have been much of a disruption if the doors hadn’t squeaked so bad.  I told Notah we should assign Keva a can of oil and send her around to oil every door in the building!
Afterward we went to the China Buffet. For a little town in the middle of NM, they have good Chinese food.