Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Told in Advance

On the first day of the week,
very early in the morning,
the women took the spices they
had prepared and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away
from the tomb, but when they entered,
they did not find the body
of the Lord Jesus.
While they were wondering about this,
suddenly two men in clothes
that gleamed like lightning
stood beside them.
Luke 24:1-3

I'd never heard of, much less considered such a thing ... but what on earth were those two angels doing just milling around an empty tomb?

Certainly their assignment had a purpose, and - given all we know about how God never does anything random, but connects all dots to the purposes/foundation He established in the Old Testament - that assignment either foreshadowed something greater, or it fulfilled something already foreshadowed.

Are you with me?

Of course you are! In fact, you're probably miles ahead of me here, and no doubt you've heard these things before.

Bear with me, because this is new to me; and more of the good news about the Good News.

Besides, I need to walk this out. So please come along ... It's back to the future we go:

"Make an atonement cover ... And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands ... " Exodus 25:17-22

When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him. Numbers 7:89

So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. 1 Samuel 4:4

The priests then brought the ark of the LORD's covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. 1 Kings 8:6

Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock; you who sit enthroned between the cherubim Psalm 80:1

And then enters Jesus ...

Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover.But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still standing. When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption (fulfilling for all time, once and for all, the ATONEMENT).

For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9

We hear this. We know this. We treasure this fact in our hearts because it's the very foundation of the salvation we've been granted.

What's so incredible to me is the fact that those two cherubim were there to confirm it.

What's more, we'd already been told they would be.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

"O LORD Almighty, God of Israel,
enthroned between the cherubim,
you alone are God over all the
kingdoms of the earth.
You have made heaven
and earth.
Isaiah 37:16

And He still is, and He still does!

The cherubim serve the purpose of magnifying the holiness and power of God. This is one of their main responsibilities throughout the Bible. In addition to singing God's praises, they also serve as a visible reminder of the majesty and glory of God and His abiding presence with His people
. (GotQuestions.com)

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Other Guys

You just gotta love Nehemiah. Now there's a man with a keen sense of purpose; of destiny. Talk about unflinching determination!

Every time I read the Bible verses collected under his name, the Book of Nehemiah, all sorts of emotions & thoughts come to call; and never more so than when the bullies show up to taunt he and his co-laborers as they endeavor to repair breaches in the walls of Jerusalem.

On that subject alone I could write long - and vehemently - for it rings altogether too current to pass by it too quickly. But that's not where I'm roosted today. I move on ...

Today I'm looking at all those other guys, the ones standing around & watching, while a few good men work 24/7 to both rebuild God's city, and protect His people in it.

It strikes me deeply that today's other guys are every bit the character & nature of Nehemiah's other guys. It's not that they're lazy, or busy with other things, or ill, or oblivious to what God is doing. It's that they're arrogant; too good - too noble - to put their shoulders to the work.

The next section was repaired by the men of Tekoa, but their nobles would not put their shoulders to the work ... Nehemiah 3:5

Literally.it means they wouldn't submit their necks to the yoke.

Submit ... now that's the real issue.

On a similar note, I can't help but reflect on the many other other guys (all of them noble in their own right) that insist the neck be submitted to their yokes; yokes of every form & weight & color. They are the Pharisees of old; yet they are also the religionists of new.

You know them ... they're the co-worker, or neighbor, or the church spokesperson (positioned or self-proclaimed) that shows up with conditions & teachings & even doctrines that aren't taught (or found) in the Scriptures - ostensibly to enlighten us as to what God really wants.

Their teachings are burdensome yokes that do little more than provide for a form of godliness.

Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." Acts 15:10-11

Then comes Jesus.

He messes with the arrogant ones - the other guys - that refuse to submit to the yoke, and he messes with the self-righteous folk that have crafted a yoke of their own liking, and who also refuse (though far more clandestinely) to yield.

"Come to me, all you who are
weary and burdened,

and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you
and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy

and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

To stand with Nehemiah's noblemen, or today's Pharisees (can anyone say "goats") would be to miss the amazing peace His yoke brings. It's to be among the other guys; and it's also to miss the great adventure of rebuilding breaches and protecting God's people with the unflinching courage of Nehemiah - even in the face of danger, taunts, threats & seemingly poor odds.

May I never be found among the goats (though I confess I've probably been one more often than I'd care to admit)!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Longer Hello

Long goodbyes are exhausting. They differ vastly from long hellos - - the former bittersweet; the latter simply sweet.

How sweet it is, then, to have bid my work goodbyes goodbye, and to officially move into the hellos of the new chapter set before me.

Oh, there's an echo still ... but rather quickly it's being consumed by the acoustical softening of life here; life on the other side of goodbye.

I've begun pondering the things I'll do next - a list that's rather swiftly growing quite long. One such item is reading more, so I've begun to set aside the books I'll dig into in the the days ahead.

As I was searching around for the reading companions you'd recognize as bookmarks (a topic that could easily become a blog-post all by itself), I came across several that brought a huge grin to my face; a warmed fire to my heart.

One such reads ...

give up?
our ai
m is
you & God & I ...
with sturdy hearts and
love and determined
daring faith,
we'll move
the world.
you watch.
you wait.
you'll see.
we can.
(By Ann Kiemel)

The bookmark is a tear-off from a greeting card that was given to me by my sister Carol. It's dated May 11, 1983.

And then there's this one, dated August 2003, from my sister Barbara:

God saw a need for tenderness,
companionship, and love;
someone who would be there to
listen and give advice; someone
who would stand up for you and
change a wrong to right;
someone who'd be not just
family, but a friend.
So God made Sisters.

Some hellos are ever-so-familiar, like an anthem's affirmation or a song's refrain. I'll never tire of those exchanged between myself and the precious ones that have graced my life.

Come think of it, most of us here have that in common. We've become family, and now include not just sisters, but brothers as well (a real bonus for those of us that few up as an only, or amidst sisters only).

I take great delight in the longer hellos that are forever mine in the Lord. They help us - you and me - to move the world.

You watch.

You wait.

You'll see.

We can!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Precipitous Events

I can almost hear Merriam summoning me over this one, as if to take me to task. You see, I've taken another of his words hostage; and rightly so. He didn't go nearly far enough in fleshing out the concept of precipitation.

By definition it means ...

... If it's a transitive (with an object) verb
: to throw violently; to hurl; to throw down; to bring about especially abruptly; to cause to separate from solution or suspension, or to cause vapor to condense and fall or deposit.

... If it's an intransitive (no object) verb
: to fall headlong; to fall or come suddenly into some condition; to move or act precipitately; to separate from solution or suspension, or to condense from a vapor and fall as rain or snow. All that too?

So what's so important about precipitation that it would put Merriam and me at odds?

It's that it elicits action, either passively or actively; and sometimes it absolutely insists upon a response. "Suddenly coming into a condition" will do that.

Then again, sometimes it calls for an umbrella!

Now that I've moved passed the "Y", I've discovered the "Y" itself is a precipitating - precipitous - event. Not only was a decision needed there, but now many decisions are needed here, too. Oy!

All that to say I'm a few steps beyond the "Y" and wrestling with the way ahead. It has become a precipitous event.

This I know ...
that in all things God works for the good
of those who love him, who have been
called according to his purpose.
For those God foreknew he also predestined
to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many
brothers. And those he predestined,
he also called; those he called,
he also justified; those he justified,
he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this?
If God is for us, who can be against us?

The precipitous events in God's economy do not include hurling, or rain. Well, not hurling anyway.

P.S. Terry and I have long thought we'd both retire sometime nearer to the age of 65 (we're now 62), and then re-think where we'd live in retirement. With the recent Y related to my work; and the fact that I'll leave my position in a few short days, we've begun re-thinking the "what next" of our lives, albeit prematurely. It's looking more-and-more like we'll return to our Pacific NW habitat to be closer to our children and grandchildren, where Terry can continue to work (he's portable). Needless to say, we need a bucket of wisdom like never before. Come to think of it, we just might need an umbrella too.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Held in the Bud

Flowers... are a proud assertion
that a ray of beauty
out-values all the utilities
of the world.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

As if baby chicks are about to hatch, or the clock to tick down the arrival of a special guest, I find my focus drawn to the lush green foliage that graces my back wall.

It is, after-all, the season of Star Jasmine.

When at last those tense, taut buds give way to the white clusters scented with every ounce of heaven's glory, I will gaze upon them with delight for the many days they grace my wall.

Even as they blossom, I begin to dread their ceasing. Their blooming & perfuming season is so very brief.

No matter, I treasure them expectantly today. Their promise is held securely in their buds.

Promises are like that.

So I watch and wait in eager anticipation. When at last the promise is open to view, it will be far more wonderful than imagination or memory fathomed.

Promises are like that, too.

If you've never been thrilled to
the very edges of your soul by
a flower in spring bloom,
maybe your soul has
never been in bloom.
Terri Guillemets

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

UPDATE: Color Me Green With Debbie

Ah, St. Paddy's Day. Hailing from ancestral linkage to the likes of Annie Claire McFadden and Sarah Kelly, this Irish lass has a lot more than green on her mind.

Today I'll wear pink, for no good reason other than I can. With a name like Flanagan, who needs green anyway? Besides, the color's been taken hostage by ecologically-bent activists. How I wish they'd selected carnelian or chartreuse!

For lunch today I'll meet up in real life with a lady I've come to know here, in the virtual world. Debbie from Heart Choices is a prolific blogger that many of you already know & treasure. She also happens to be a near-neighbor, living just 20 minutes north of me. How cool is that?!!

I first posted this early this morning. Since then I've met up with dear friend Debbie for lunch, and I can tell you the real far outshines the virtual. What a lady! For sure we'll be doing this again, and often. Join us?

So, whatever else the day brings, may it be a blessing to all.

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hands!

P.S. My apologies to all of you that I've not visited in a while. Once the oddities of life give way to something more routine, I'll make up for it. Promise!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Even More


One word, and immediately each of us understands it's import.

Often it conjures up images of difficulties past or present. The very mention of it may portend strife to come, born in our souls by way of worry. But few people can look at that word and not associate it with some form of trial.

Memories and imagination provide the color and hue associated with trouble's dimensions - either large or small.

In his time of trouble King Ahaz
became even more unfaithful to the LORD.

2 Chronicles 28:10

I couldn't skip by this passage as I read it again, perhaps for the 20th time. This time, it was the word trouble that first caught my eye, followed by the words even more. The story's a good read all by itself, but that one line speaks volumes to me. Oh ... may the decibels of that volume never be any less.

What is it I'm even more of when trouble comes to call?

I dare not list the possibilities or we'd quickly tire. Yet it's a question I need to ask myself as I conduct an inventory of the arsenal I use when trouble arrives. Not "if" it arrives, but "when" it arrives.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

Though King Ahaz gives us but one portrait of a man becoming even more evil & ungodly, we have another - Jesus Himself - demonstrating the even more of the believing man.

Now my heart is troubled,
and what shall I say?
Father, save me from this hour?
No, it was for this very reason
I came to this hour.
Father, glorify your name!
John 12:27

In essence, He tells us that trouble leads to God's glory; and in God's economy that means greater faithfulness - greater faith - as we become even more than we already are in Him.

So much for King Ahaz' fuzzy math!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Decided Y

It was January 7th when I put into words what had been brewing in my knower. The road we each travel is, at times, a forked one. Those forks can insist on the making of a choice between two courses or ten; choices that cannot - or ought not - be made one second sooner than is prudent.

Since the penning of the The Why? in the Road, I have made my way ever closer to understanding it, as well as being readied to step decidedly forward when at last it was upon me - or, rather, when I was upon it.

Very likely it doesn't matter all that much what happened, or even how it happened. What is important, is that it DID happen; and today I stand amazed at God's goodness in preparing me in advance for it. In recent days I've described those preparations as a loosening of my roots. It's among the first steps in preparing anything for transplant.

At the end of March I will leave my ministry roost (though not the blogosphere), where for four years I have treasured nearly every moment; every opportunity. It is a bittersweet leaving, for truly I have loved both the people and the work; days filled with focus and purpose - and much, much satisfaction.

The bitter is the sadness that claims my soul; sadness over the ending of one chapter before taking up the next one. It has come to claim my soul, though I confess the sweet of it is excitement & amazing joy that allows the sorrow to have boundaries.

It is well with my soul.

So this I know ...
  • In Him, there is no darkness or shadow of turning. Wherever I am, He is there already; and there is light.
  • What lies ahead is always more amazing than what lies behind. The best is forever yet to come.
  • Fear has no home in a heart that knows God always intends it's best.
  • The high ground - and remaining upon it - always provides the most amazing view.
As I pen this, I am thinking how wonderful & timely has been this week with my sisters. Just a short while ago I bid farewell to Carol & Hal, having said my good-byes to Dolores & John on Tuesday. My home and my heart are filled now with a sweet smelling aroma; the best sort of wind for continuing along the clear course now set before me, just beyond The Why? in the Road.

Dolores, Carol, Barbara, Kathleen

If you select your own spot to be planted,
you will prove yourself to be an
unproductive, empty pod.
However, if you allow God to plant you,
you will "bear much fruit".
It is essential that we live
and "walk in the light"
of God's vision for us.
Oswald Chambers

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back Later

Lots happening here. Old friends are arriving for a day's visit tomorrow, followed by sister Carol and hubby Hal arriving Friday. My oldest sister arrives today, though she is roosting with her hubby's sister. Even so, all four of we "sisters" will be spending time together starting Saturday. I probably don't have to tell you that means chatter, laughter, munching, chatter, and more chatter.

All that to say I'm going to do my level best to turn OFF the computer, and relish the un-virtual (though virtuous) relationships for awhile.

Back soon ...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crooked Things

It puzzles me; but, Lord,

Thou understandest,
And will one day explain
this crooked thing.

Meanwhile I know

that it has worked
out Thy best-
Its very crookedness
taught me to cling.

The above is a quote from Streams in the Desert (Vol I) ; one I highlighted back in 1989 when many a crooked thing made it difficult to see my way along the road ahead, much less navigate it.

About the time the winding course would seem to level out, another jog would appear - often at a sharp right or left angle. It was difficult to see beyond, and the only way forward was fraught with difficulty.

Nothing was familiar; and crooked had become the day's theme. My heart took up a lament, and it felt ever-so-much like the biblical lament spoken long before it:

He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
He has walled me in so I cannot escape;
He has weighted me down with chains.
He has made me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
Even when I call out or cry for help,
He shut out my prayer.
He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
He has made my paths crooked.

Lamentations 3:6-9

As time went on, and certainly now that 20+ years have lapsed, the benefit of 20/20 hindsight allows for an entirely different perspective.

In my rear-view mirror I can see that the crooked places have been straightened.

Reality is merely an illusion,
albeit a very persistent one.

Albert Einstein

I am left incredulous at the wonder that has become my life. It's not a fancy life; at least not in terms of swelling successes, or notable notations, or multiplied coffers - not that any of those things are wrong, or bad, or undesirable in themselves.

It's just that the rich stuff that comprises my life today is vastly different from what I forged alone, often through enormous striving initiatives. Perhaps that - striving - is among the very crookeds of my heart that had to be straightened!

Whatever ... it is a good life, primarily because those crooked things & places insisted upon my developing the art of clinging to Him. Truth be told, even that was not of my own doing. I mean; who wouldn't cling tenaciously to a life raft in a swelling sea filled with sharks?

Thus it has become a meaningful, secure, rewarding, contented existence - and it is so whether I do anything or not. It's not about doing so much as it's about clinging. It's our human being-ness that adds value; not our human doing-ness.

I can cherish this life - the one I'm privileged to live out - because He does.

So it is that I dare not boast or claim acute good sense, or lay out a litany of evidence of how & why the Lord plays it, my life..

It's what He did - and does - IN me that is my greatest boast. He makes the crooked places straight there first which, in turn, makes for fewer crooked places out there - "there" being life's course. That's not to say I don't navigate difficult roads or face uncertain times. It's just that I have no reason to doubt God's faithfulness. What He's begun and done/does in me, He will see to completion.

So much for striving.

Besides, He does all things well, and making crooked things un-crooked is His forte!

As is written in the book of the
words of Isaiah the prophet:
"A voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth.

And all mankind will see God's salvation.' "
Luke 3:4-6; Isaiah 40:3-5)

I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
I will lead them in paths they have not known.
I will make darkness light before them,
And crooked places straight.
These things I will do for them,
And not forsake them.

Isaiah 42:16