Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Art of the Firm Stand

There are any number of concepts in the scriptures that could, and often do remain vague were we not to ferret out their meaning and applications.

In fact, I often hear people say this or that, but when asked to explain further they sometimes respond with little more than a quizzical gaze (and I'm often one of them!) or, worse, a rote reply.

A question I ask myself (often silently) when I encounter such a thing - be it in the scriptural text or on the lips of others/self - is: So, what would that look like?

As I read through Paul's letter to the Philippians, I ran across this collection (again), and it began the process of fleshing out what it might look like to
stand firm".
.
"Therefore ... that is how you should
stand firm in the Lord." (vs 4:1)
.
What "that" is he referring to?

He actually tells us if we back up a bit ...

1. Put no confidence in the flesh (vs 3:3)
2. Press on (vs 3:12)
3. Live up to/according to what you've already learned; already know (vs 3:16)
4. Assemble with other believers (vs 3:17)
5. Recognize our true citizenship (the heavenly one) (vs 3:20)
6. Eagerly (as opposed to fearfully or fanatically) await the return of Jesus (vs 3:20)
7. Trust the Lord (not self, not pastor, not mystical enterprises) to transform us

Ohhhhh, that's what standing firm looks like!

There's a myriad other texts that put meat on the standing bones:

So, if you think you are standing firm
be careful that you don't fall. (1 Cor 10:12)
.
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith;
be men of courage; be strong.
Do everything in love. 1 Cor 16:13-14
.
And may we never forget Who it is that fits us for the Art of the Firm Stand ...


Now it is God who makes
both us and you
stand firm in Christ. (2 Cor 1:21)



Saturday, August 28, 2010

"You Deliver Me"

My friends ... this song grips me like few others have in recent months. I recognize not only the truth of it - HE delivers - but the need to be ever-ready for the transformation between what I am, and who I want to be.

Deep as the ocean; bright as rain
This powerful emotion lifts me up above the plains.
It's taken me to places I never thought I'd go,
Showing me a grace I never thought I'd know.

CHORUS
When I feel like I can't go on,
You deliver me.
When the road is winding ... way too long,
You deliver me.
You deliver me.

I feel like a sinner; my sins have been washed clean.
I'm absolutely given - this heart has never seen.
I must be forgiven; sometimes asking why
I was ever chosen to be given You in this life.

CHORUS

When there's a distance between
what I am and who I want to be,
You deliver me.

CHORUS

CHORUS


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Deliverance

Sometimes it strikes me odd how easily I pass by central, essential Bible teachings as if they were common fare. The words that frame them are wedged into so many places, and probably for that reason alone I scim over them as I might any other word; any other doctrine.

Deliverance is one such word.

Several weeks ago I began hearing a relatively new song by the group Selah called "You Deliver Me". From the first hearing to the most recent, the song grips my soul, bringing with it a flood of emotion. It speaks not only to my rationale self, but to that part of me I don't always understand: my spirit.

What does it mean to be delivered, anyway?

The scriptures tell us that it's God's provision for rescuing His own from danger, or peril. Those dangers and/or perils span everything - from trouble to terror; from persecution to sickness; from afflictions to addictions; from unseen onslaughts to visible enemies ... and then some.


... for I know ... what has happened
to me will turn out for my deliverance.
I eagerly expect and hope ... that I will
have sufficient courage so that now, as
always, Christ will be exalted in my body ...
Philippians 1:19-20

I realize many associate the word, as well as the concept it conveys with demonic activity and/or exorcism. That may well be among the litany of things from which to be delivered, but it's certainly not my focus here (nor do I believe a believer can be, or is EVER possessed).

Rather, I'm simply attempting to convey (if only to remind myself) how privileged are we to live beneath the watchful eye of so great, so caring, and so personal a God that such a thing - deliverance - is even possible.

So how does it work? Is there a formula, an incantation, a recipe for whipping up deliverance?

Hardly.

We ask. We wait. We trust. His love never fails - no matter how, or when, or in what form His deliverance arrives. He arrives., and with Him the deliverance most needful.


The wise man in the storm prays to God,
not for safety from danger,
but deliverance from fear.
Ralph Waldo Emerson


Footnote: Almost like connective tissue to make this concept real, the mental image - the visual - I have for deliverance dates back to 1972.

My daughter was roughly 18 months old at the time, and we were among family at my sister's home, where everyone was enjoying her swimming pool on a particularly hot day. There was Molly, at once sitting on the top step to the pool, then next stepping her say down, down, down onto the lowest step - BENEATH the water.

It happened so fast none of us got to her before her underwater plunge, but we needn't have worried. She didn't panic or thrash, or sink deeper. She merely stood on that bottom step, holding her breath and with her hand extended to reach above the water line, waiting for someone to rescue her; to deliver her.

She had no doubt or fear because she had confidence instead; not in her own ability to deliver herself from peril, but in the hands of those she knew would come to her deliverance.


Read more about this subject at:
Got Questions

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pray for Elaine Olsen

Some days greet us with the most beautiful of sounds and scenes and stories. Other days pack a wallop that makes it difficult to breath. Today is one such.

If you're the praying sort, please keep my dear friend Elaine and her family in your prayers. Elaine's about to wage a herculean battle against breast cancer.

For some reason I'm not able to embed here the link to Elaine's blog: Peace for the Journey. But you can go there by clicking on her link on my sidebar.

Trust me, you'll be blessed to read her telling; a telling that begins and ends with a powerful God that has not taken His eye off her for one split second.

"It doesn't matter how long God chooses to
preserve my earthly life.
What matters is how I choose to preserve Him
in the earthly life I've been given."
Elaine Olsen

Monday, August 23, 2010

Exploits Versus Exploits

If you've been around my little corner of cyberspace for long, you know I'm a great fan of adventure. That's relatively new thinking for me because, you see, as a young woman I was resistant to change, even fearful of some aspects of it. I was among the play-it-safe crowd; and in reality I liked little that I (me and myself) couldn't control. Adventure was often synonymous with anxiety.

What happened between then and now I can't say with any certainty; lots of things - - and not the least of them having to do with growing in faith, and in trust.

So, when I hear a word like exploit, my heart begins to race.

Merriam tells us that it means a deed, or an act - especially a notable or heroic one. It's synonymous with feat, tour de force & stunt.

That's my kind of word; my kind of adventure!

But there's a flipside to this exploit-coin. When it ceases to be a noun - as I've indicated above - and becomes a verb, it shifts from the realm of the noble to the realm of the ignoble.

As a verb, exploit means to use or manipulate to one's own advantage.

In some books that may still represent adventure, but in mine it is anything but!

If ever you've been on the receiving end of a manipulative or exploitive maneuver, you realize just how insidious it is. It's far worse when you realize it's among your own arsenal; the one used to take advantage of this or that (or them).

Today I hope my exploits result in the leaving behind of a pinch of salt & a dose of light; and not some tell-tale sign of having used something or someone for selfish gain. Afterall, a genuinely amazing exploit will always take us along a straight course, and on firm, high ground.

The quotient for true adventure is always among the noble.

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways;
we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God.
On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend
ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 4:2

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Desparate Desparation

It was early Tuesday morning when I met up with my daughter to give her a ride to her office. She'd dropped her car off for repairs, and I'd agreed to the role of chauffeur - one of the many privileges & joys of again living so near our family.

As we approached the stretch of road marked off by police cars & flashing lights, I assumed the commotion was related to a traffic violation. Neither she nor I were prepared for the sight we witnessed as cars were directed around the gruesome scene.

In the middle of the road lay a body; one covered mostly in yellow tarp, but with two booted limbs extended, and in plain view. It took only seconds to realize this individual had jumped from the bridge high above, forfeiting in mere seconds the life that once was.

I actually gasped as it registered to me what it was that I was seeing. My audible utterances or, rather, exclamations were, "Oh, dear God!", and "Mercy!". The words seemed to flow without summons.

My inaudible thoughts immediately began questioning: Why? How desperate must one be to commit so desperate an act?

For the remainder of the day, and periodically throughout the week, those booted feet and the man they represent showed up in my thoughts. In some mournful way I have been saddened by his passing; appalled at the depths of his desperation. I have grieved for him, and I have wondered if there were others - a mother, father, sister, wife, friend - now grieving even deeper than I can imagine. I've wondered if anyone cared at all.

I've searched the news for details ... a name, an age, a circumstance; the back story. All I could find was a brief caption, one that read simply: "Yakima Avenue Bridge Death Apparently a Suicide". The brevity of the report brings a new round of tears.

How can a life - even one life - get by us like this?

I know, I know, there are myriad reasons ... perhaps drugs are involved ... likely years of counsel & family love have been offered ... possibly mental illness had set in ...

Today, not one explanation matters. Since Tuesday the world lost a bit of it's luster when the booted man no longer walked it.

Most men lead lives of quiet desperation
and go to the grave with the song still in them.
Henry David Thoreau

Friday, August 20, 2010

Unexpected Silence

This process of settling has been a long, arduous one! It is made a wee bit more challenging due to the absence of, or inconsistencies with computers & internet services. Thus, I'm benched again; and quite eager to return to cyberspace with regularity.

That said, let me tell you: I've relished the silences. I am reminded how surreptitious and invasive is the TV, cell phone, computer & social networking sites - all good things, but good things kept in proper perspective.

Too, hubby's been away this week with business travel, and I've contented myself to stay near home. It's allowed for some wonderful, restful moments; moments that have given way to many, many thoughts, insights, and - most importantly - time in God's presence. I've also made tremendous headway in making our condo a home.

Now I'm off to find my painting clothes and grip another of the opportunities before me, in the silence.

Love to all ...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Scenes from the Bitterroot


It's so good to be home, but I must say:
on a scale of 1 to 10 in the way of family vacations,
this was an 11!!

Our home on the Bitterroot River. Tough duty!

Erik and Kelly; our traveling buddies. What fun were these two nearly 16s ...



These are four happy-fishermen as they anticipate the day's catch.
(Don't they look like little boys about to visit Disneyland?)


The same four: tired, hungry, fish-less ...


Who, us?

Grandpa and his shadows.


The decision-making committee ...


Hey ya'all, I'm Kole. I'm two & a half months old now!
< Melinda, I've been telling him all
about Lily. :) >


A family filled with children (old & young), is a
family filled with fun.

Having a cousin-blast at Lake Como (missing
Katie & Kole, Meagan & Ava)


Grandma Chef


No, it's not the Taliban. This fishing fashion
is supposed to shield you from the sun.

Happy Grandma & Kole

Priceless


P.S. Though I'm home now, and though I have at long last got internet, my computer has decided to die on me. That means I have to finish unpacking and settling. I'll be stealing visits to your blogs as soon as I can hijack hubby's computer.

In the meantime, my love to all ...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Quieter Quiet

From my very young years I have been what is typically called a "morning person". Sitting here this particular morning, I think I understand better why that is: quiet.

What is it about quiet that stirs us; sometimes to deep reverie, other times to anxiousness, or conclusive thought, or laziness? Certainly quiet is kin to many things, both worthy and unworthy.

Here, above the Bitterroot River and nestled amidst the forested mountains of Hamilton, Montana, quiet rules. Oh, there's wind, and the sound of birds, and certainly the steady flow of the river's drift. But quiet has a richer dimension here than the garden variety quiet I find most days, most places. Here, quiet is respectful; rarely interrupting what calms the spirit unless it's to summon more of it.

I'm not so aware of the absence of sound as much as I am the absence of noise.

Right now a thunder storm brews someplace near, yet quiet prevails.

The Lord your God is with you;
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you;
He will quiet you with His love.
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summoned by the Bitterroot


Gone Fishing

No, I didn't get run over by our moving van; nor am I buried in the box rubble residing in our garage. It's been a long, rugged two weeks of moving & unpacking.

That said, we are eagerly preparing for tomorrow morning's early departure to Montana, where all 16 of our immediate family are headed for a week of R&R, fly-fishing, flashlight tag, s'mores, hiking, board (& bored) game-playing, hide-and-go seek, tall-tale spinning around the fire or on the fly, and the like.

Again I apologize for my lengthy absence from the blogosphere, but you can be sure I'm excited to get settled enough to return to blogging, and to visiting all of you.

Can't wait for the gIRLs Gathering in September, either!!! What a time & blessing it will be to huddle up with such dear friends as Melinda, Elaine, Beth & Lisa. Who else is going?

But for now I've truly "Gone Fishing". See you after the 13th.

Love to all,
Kathleen