Dead Man Walking

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I attended my first Billy Graham Crusade as a young teenager. It meant nothing to me, or so I thought. I was invited by my brother-in-law and sister, Curt and Peggy Clark. I was curious; curious at the hoards of people flowing into the arena that night, at the ability of one man to capture the attention of thousands; but that was all. Neither the music nor the message aroused any spiritual desire. Nothing was going to distract me from…well, me. I guess you could say I was an early adopter to the idea of the selfie.

Besides—my religion seemed much safer, more controllable, than an actual relationship with someone who could read every wicked thought and motive of my heart.

Curt asked if I’d be interested in a correspondence Bible study with him and Peg- I was living a few hours away at the time.

“Sure,” I said—I liked the idea of getting mail on a regular basis. I think maybe I completed one lesson and got bored.

I was dead in the ground.

But, like the sunflower seed I spit in the yard along with the shells—at just the right moment, a cracking…an opening…a hint of green, a sprout…and faith came alive.

I’m sure Curt and Peg’s prayers cleared the debris, allowing the sun to reach this dead seed. I thank them for the invitation and interest in my wicked little self;

I thank Billy Graham for repeating over and over and over (yawn),

“…But the Bible says…”

I’m forever grateful to my husband John for feeding and watering a dead seed, and to my children and all of you who have been patient with my growth…

and to the Sun of God, I am eternally indebted for warming my heart to Himself.

The voice of sanity to three generations died today. Who will take his place? Who will continue to be a voice crying in the wilderness of chaos and who will pray, and feed and water?

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I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?“

Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.“ Isaiah. 6:8

I planted, Apollo’s watered, but it was God who caused the seed to grow. 1Cor. 3:18

Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out. John 11:43,44a

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Wisdumb

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My secret to wisdom is this: “Think of something really stupid to say and then don’t say it.”
There may be more to wisdom, but given a mouth like mine, this is a good place to start, to avoid eroding, tactless, or flippant words, like that boorish hen from Chicken Run:
A chicken locked up in a concentration camp, escapes and drags herself, half-beaten, back into the coop. A former coop-mate sees her come in and chirps in a perky British voice,
“Oooh…on a ‘oliday were we?
I don’t want to be that jerk chicken.
Mother Theresa said,
“Words that do not give the Light of Christ increase the darkness.”
It’s not enough to just shut my mouth. I want to develop the ability to say apt words; fitting words, which is only possible thru the Holy Spirit on continuous mind feed, so I pray Psalm 141:3:
“Set a guard, oh Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Use duct tape if necessary.” (I added that last bit).
One doesn’t have to delve deep into media to see there’s plenty of darkness to go around. To shine His Light through my words— that’s the goal. I want to speak “the word that sustains the weary.” (Isaiah 50:4)
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Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Pro. 18:21

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Pro. 31:26

The wise women builds her house, but the foolish tears hers down with her own hands. Pro. 14:1
(Equally likely with her own mouth-L.C.)

Little White Devils

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I was ready.  This wasn’t my first rodeo, so I fasted before the lab tests, just in case they’d forgotten to tell me.  As I followed the tech down the hall, she studied my lab sheet and said,

“So- let’s see… when was the last time you ate?”

“12 hours ago.”

“Great….and no coffee, or gum or mints or…”

“Nope, no coffee, gum, …umm…well…uh…I did have three little Altoids, just a few minutes ago…three little Al…”

She came to such an abrupt halt, I nearly ran into the back of her.

By her look of horror, you’d think I’d just said,

“Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.”

Well, one thing led to another, and 20 hours from the start of this whole thing, I ended up the poster child for World Hunger-well, in my shallow little world, anyway.

Three Altoids. Partaking of them can’t possibly be considered indulgent, I didn’t even enjoy them. What possible effect could they have on the big picture? I should’ve messed up on an accidental hot-fudge sundae instead.

Well, apparently, those little white devils distort the truth, and thus the outcome of the tests, assessments and treatments.

Three mini-mints, like the mini-sins I ignore, or justify, or reason away as being no big deal—

The smirk, the disparaging remark, the tiny indulgences no one sees—they distort truth, and affect my over-all responsiveness to the Lord and others. I could be the next poster child for

Soul Hunger.

Better to confess and start over.  The hunger will end in the sweet satisfaction of Truth revealed.

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Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, “I didn’t laugh.” But the LORD said, “No, you did laugh.”  Genesis 18:15

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.  Pro. 15:14

Create in me a clean heart oh Lord, and renew a right spirit in me. Psalm 51:10

For He satisfies the thirsty, and fills the hungry with good things.  Psalm 107:9

Horizontal Conversion

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I live in a town that pretty much embraces the motto, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

I admit to still being shocked when a young woman, showing me her new purse, exposes her small pistol. This is new to me, the me whose six boys resigned themselves to gnawing peanut butter sandwiches into intricate weapons of self-defense, and bent posable Barbies into pistols. Until I gave up and bought them all squirt guns.

The thing is, these gun-toting townspeople are less about themselves than our biases would lead us to believe. These same people are actively involved in feeding the homeless, mentally ill and otherwise needy, and when one dreadlocked kid, fresh from Burning Man and reeking of New-Age everything ventured into church, he left with a job offer, a brand-new sleeping bag, two sheep skins, and a place to stay, in case he got tired of his car/sleeping quarters.

He texts me on a regular basis from where he’s landed, asking questions like, “Can you pray for me?

So I pray for him, and for myself, that I will not be satisfied with the conversion I’ve experienced through Jesus Christ until that conversion extends to every horizontal plane, allowing me to see others, not through the eyes of my assumptions, not as mere “projects” to sway to my thinking, or as notches in my holster, but with the same love that Christ pours into me. The love where “mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed.” (Psalm 85:10)

What if I loved in His Truth, rather than my assumptions of truth; His righteousness, rather than my self-righteousness; and loved with His peace that bathes others with a desire to know the only One who can give True Anything, and does.

I’m below ground zero in this, but I can start here, “Lord, make me willing to be made willing to love like You”.

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He (Jesus) will delight in obeying the Lord. He will not judge by appearance, nor make a decision based on hearsay.

Isaiah 11:3 NLT

Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?

Romans 2:4 NLT

Unsolved Mysteries

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As John was leaving for church one Sunday morning, he grabbed his shoes by the front door and slipped them on. He came out to the kitchen and said,

“There’s something wrong with my shoes- one of them is too small!”

“What?! That can’t be…you wear them every Sunday!” I said.

“I know…but look. One is smaller than the other,” he said.

To my amazement, one shoe appeared to be a half-size smaller. After cogitating way too long, we laughed at the weirdness of this mystery, and he found another pair of dress shoes to wear that day.

Here’s another shoe mystery: I had a favorite pair of shoes in 1970 called Wallabies. They were genuine leather, came up to the ankle and went with everything- by “everything” I mean jeans- which was pretty much the only thing anyone wore back then. One morning, I got up and looked where I’d placed them the night before, near the foot of my bed, but they weren’t there. I searched everywhere and was nearly late for the bus. I never found them.

Mysteries. Life is full of them. Things that just don’t make sense. If we could view them from the top of the universe, we’d say, “Oooooh, so THAT’s what happened.” My husband John imagines heaven will have an IMAX screen in which we’ll see behind-the-scenes action films. Like, “This Was Your Life,” or “The REST of the Story” or “Solved Mysteries.” Until then, I trust.

It’s nothing much to ponder the small mysteries of disappearing shoes, but some of the biggies in life can really hang us up. Why did I lose our first-born, and another later on? Why were we the ones to witness a murder in that out-of-the-way place and as a result, have our lives threatened? Why have some of my dearly loved children struggled so? The list goes on and on.

Often our children did not understand our actions:

“That’s not fair!”

“Why CAN’T I do this?”

“OWWW! You’re HURTING me!” As I pull yet another redwood splinter from a little hand.

And, perhaps the hardest any parent faces:

“Can’t you bail me out just this once?”

Not necessarily from jail, but any number of other situations in which we allowed natural consequences to teach what we couldn’t. It did hurt us more than it hurt them- though I’m sure they weren’t convinced. And sometimes, it WASN’T fair for the one. But it was JUST in light of the ultimate goals for the family.

There’s a whole lot that simply does not make sense this side of heaven. Am I willing to admit I have a finite mind that will not and can not understand? Can I be content entrusting those unknowns to the God I do know? I expected it from my children, can I do the same as a child of God?

We solved the mystery of John’s shoes. Earlier in the week, we’d hosted a worship night at our house for a large group from our church. They all dropped their shoes at the door, and somebody accidentally took John’s shoe. That somebody had the larger shoe, and apparently hadn’t noticed the difference of a half size. We sent out an e-mail inquiry, but no one responded. The mystery was eventually solved, but it took awhile.

As for the other mystery, my shoes were never found. We lived in a very rural area, and I finally surmised some animal had come in and smelling the leather, had stolen them- maybe a raccoon?

So too, the Lord allows us to know the answer to some mysteries and we are privy to some secrets (though not nearly as many as I’d like), as we follow Him. It’s one of the many benefits of obeying His Word. More times than I can recount, we’ve been forewarned of thing to come, and instructed on what action to take.

For instance, I knew two years in advance John’s life would be threatened, but I didn’t know how. The action was to pray, which I did, but I also took things in my own hands and nagged John about his eating habits as I thought maybe the threat would be a heart-attack or something- which, in my case, is probably why the Lord keeps most things to Himself. I’d FREAK if I knew it all!

Lord, help me be content to act upon the mysteries You has revealed, and entrust You with all the rest.

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There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.You are my friends if you do what I command.

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t CONFIDE in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. John 15:13-15

The LORD our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions. Duet. 29:29

But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. 1 Cor. 2:10

You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled,

but you refuse to admit it.

Now I will tell you new things,

secrets you have not yet heard. Isaiah 48: 6

Your Faith or Mine?

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  1. I was eighteen when introduced to Christ through John- the cutest, smartest, kindest guy in college (I took a poll of all my thoughts, and the vote was unanimous). A year and a half later, we married. The first few years, my relationship to Christ was so entwined with John’s, it was unclear to what extent my “faith in Jesus”, was actually faith in John.
    A life crisis- one of those earthquake situations- forced me to examine my personal relationship with Jesus and confront my beliefs:
    “Maybe my connection to Christ is solely through osmosis. Is it possible ‘this little light of mine,’ is merely the broad glow of John’s steadfast faith? Who IS my lifeline to God- John or Jesus? What does faith and trust even look like?”
    I quickly had to chose whether to allow the Lord to teach me this hard lesson of trust, or pull the escape hatch.
    The decision to trust occurs in a moment, but the learning to trust occurs over a lifetime of such moments and decisions:
    To obey His Word, rather than my impulses;
    To believe His ability in the face of impossibility;
    To trust that even if the worst of my fears are realized, He is there, even in that dreaded place.
    And- perhaps the hardest of all decisions:
    To cry out to Him, when I have miserably and completely and continuously failed all of the above.

In reference to my most recent topic of women whose husbands have lost their faith:
In this loss may you gain Christ, and trust the Lover of your soul.
Hugs to you today.

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Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves…
2 Cor. 13:5a

You cried to me in trouble, and I saved you; I answered out of the thunder and tested your faith when there was no water.
Psalm 81:6-7

“Daughter,” He said to her, “your faith has made you well.”
Luke 8:48

Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?
Jesus replied, “…what is that to you? You follow me.”
from John 21:21,22

Tectonic Plates # 3 (Continued)

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It begins shortly after the honeymoon- the shift of tectonic plates (i.e. earthquakes to the not-so-solid ground of our expectations). Like, say- when you discover your husband drinks from the carton, eats from the can and belches from his innermost parts.
Not my husband, of course, but I’ve heard…
Or later on- hypothetically speaking- he overfeeds the kids with pizza and two cartons of Rocky Road ice cream, then attempts to clean up the vomit with your vacuum while you are out for the afternoon having a baby or something…
But there’s no use arguing over the fault line, because we women are not the only ones for whom the plates shift. John had to deal with the Mother of All Tectonic Shifts, P.M.S. : One week of earthquakes, one week of disaster clean-up, two weeks recovering from aftershocks, aannd…
Begin again.
His only chance of parole was pregnancy or menopause, the latter meaning he needed a coat, scarf, and hat all winter. Even in bed. Because I need the windows open for that frosty air- it’s SWELTERING in here… Oh wait…no it’s not…Can you turn the heat up?
So yeah- we’ve leveled the playing field sisters, and it may just slope in our direction.
About these posts:
I welcome readers of the male species, but I am not comfortable addressing men in an instructive manner…Wait…What? Stop laughing John.
My opinions, while hopefully Biblical, are not intended as professional counseling. I speak to you as a sister in Christ, a mother, and a friend (yeah-that crazy one).
Let’s see…I think I’ve covered all my bases- oh, wait…one more thing: If you try my recipe for bread pudding but OMIT THE SAUCE, and end up taking home the majority of a 13×9 pan of soggy, tasteless bread from a church potluck, it’s NOT MY FAULT!!! Moving on…
A spouse who leaves their faith is no laughing matter. It’s really really scary, and based on whether its a slow slide, or a quick descent, emotions vary. We grieve. As in any grief, there’s a pattern (usually) and a process (always).
The first response is usually shock and denial, because to face a crisis gives it substance. To acknowledge it is to say, “This thing is REAL, and it might not go away.”
I prefer denial. To recognize all this pain is the last thing I want to do. What I want to do is drugs. Or run far, far, away. Or drink.
Absolut-ly.
(see former post under “Vodka”)
Yet while the temptation to escape, hide, kill, die or deny may be our first inclination, THOU SHALT NOT.
Denial is the first yellow brick on the road to insanity. We’re forced to create diversions, and depending on our coping skills (and creativity), there is no end of the lengths to which we’ll go as we attempt to keep reality from popping out of the box, Jack. But adjectives like “obsessive, “excessive,” and “destructive” are usually involved.
It often takes the death of something, to open our eyes to Truth:
“In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord….”
(Isaiah 6:1)
Your spouse’s loss of faith is a death to a tie that binds. It may be death to the reason you married him- though not death to the reason God allowed you to marry him, and I’d be pretty angry about that. Furious, maybe.
But face this death facing Him. Face Him wearing your angry eyes if that’s the reality. Maybe it’ll help a little to know that He cries over this too.
It’s a first step, and it’s a big step toward healing. Healing for you, your marriage and…. your husband because ( I say this next thing in a whisper) as difficult as it may be to embrace this, it’s quit possible-probable even- that your husband is hurting too.

Life is emotionally abusive, isn’t it? But walk in truth.

Reality is truth, and truth bites.

But then it sets you free. So walk in truth. Or crawl, if necessary.

(And know you are loved with an Everlasting Love, and that I am praying and cheering you on to the finish line).

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In the year King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, seated on His throne, high and exalted…
Isaiah 6:1

Jesus said, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE…”
John 14:6

He (the Lord) Himself has said, “NEVER will I leave you. NEVER will I forsake you.
Heb. 13:5

…If you continue in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
John 8:11,12