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Conversation took an anxiety fork-in-life at a dinner party the other night when the subject turned to the state of our world. One lady announced she had just received her food survival supply that would last her two or three years should everything go-to-hell in that Dior bag.
With the deluge in Texas this past month, I had my own chaotic moment last Friday when I walked out onto the patio during an interlude in the storm to find run-off water inching over the slab stabilizing our air-conditioning unit. Terror of what the water would do to the unit, fear of the electricity and water combo, amped my anxious level to bell-ringing jangles.
Then last night, just before bedtime, a tornado warning blared from our weather radio. The DSCF8891rotating storm seemed to be swirling along the same path the Van tornadoes had traveled a few weeks prior. And I was anxious. Anxious over the security of all my stuff as we finally settled in for a troubled night’s sleep—just me, hubs, and the weather radio.
And today there’s the nagging fear over saturated soil and standing water around the foundation of our home. The blackland area of East Texas, where we live, expands when wet and contracts, cracks, and heaves when dry. Foundation problems cost jillions of dollars to repair. Dollars we don’t have.
So what’s tapping a dance over your anxious buttons today? Family problems? Financial woes? Health issues? World affairs? The list of potential hazards could fill a book, couldn’t they?
But God says:
DSCF5368 026“Do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gatherDSCF8863 into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?…Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory did not clothe himself like one of these. …But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own”(Matthew 6:25-34 NAS).

So what are we supposed to do when the weather radio shrieks warning? When the world scene screams disaster? And when our country or our families seem to be on a downward spiral toward Hot in the Kitchen 4ruin? Fold our hands, kick back with a glass of tea, and just read our Bibles and pray?
Is that what God instructs? I don’t think so.
God gave you and me a brain and an ability to think. Instead of knuckling to an anxious muddle, I’m to use my God given ability to ask Him to help me think and act.
Last night, while sirens ripped the air, I called several neighbors I knew who wouldn’t have been listening to the news. Then I took my laptop and jump drives containing my soon-to-be published book and the beginning twelve chapters of its sequel and stashed them, along with a few other valuables, in what I hoped would be a safe place should the tornado strike.
And when I saw the water topping the air-conditioning slab last Friday, I grabbed a shovel, flipped the circuit breaker, and dug a shallow ditch to allow the backed-up water a place to drain. And it did.
God tells us “In this world you will have trouble…” but we are not to despair, “…He has overcome the world.” And He lays out a plan of action to lasso and rein in our ready-to-panic fears.
rainbow“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NAS).

So how does that work out in real time? First of all I say thank you. “Thank You, Lord, for the rain. We’ve asked You to send rain to end the drought, and You’ve been faithful. I’m Yours Lord, and everything around me, all these worldly goods, You’ve provided. It’s all Yours, to give or take away.” Then I’m to ask for what I think I need, according to His word. “Give me wisdom to know what to do, when to do it, and how to do what is needed.”
Yes, we heard the weather radio all through the night, but God was gracious to allow us to go right back to sleep. And this time there were no tornadoes. But I can affirm, other times the storms have inflicted damage in our lives—the loss of a daughter—the loss of jobs—financial woes—life threatening health problems—but God has always been faithful to carry us safely through life’s hazards and given us that promised peace to “…guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
And child of God, He will do the same for you…if you ask Him. And to those of you who haven’t placed your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ yet, the Spirit says:
DSCF3406“Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy-laden 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 shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My load is light” (Matthew 11: 28-30 NAS).

“…we ought to do now!” An old saying I grew up with and was never more clearly illustrated to me than this week.

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If you’ve visited my Face Book page you saw and hopefully enjoyed the beautiful yellow flowers and farmland pastures I posted last week. I had returned from Longview, Texas, with a tight schedule and enjoyed the yellow-petal-path along I20 from Longview, through Tyler, until I reached the Edom/Van exit. Then this field called me—Stop. Take my picture.

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The voice in my head argued—Those flowers will be here next week. You can photograph them then. You don’t have time today. And they proceeded to march soldier cadence through my mind—all the commitments, chores, and chaos waiting for me at home.

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But thank goodness, I turned the chatter volume down and granted myself the privilege of pausing, turning off the freeway, and spending thirty or so minutes recording the grace and beauty of God’s creation.

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Because this week they were gone—destroyed in the tornadoes that ripped through Van, Texas, Sunday evening around dark.
When I saw the reports on the news it never occurred to me my field was in the bulls-eye of this devil storm’s destruction. Until Monday, when I drove that same route again.

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Mama’s words—What you ought to do…you ought to do now—echoed in my heart and mind since then, reminding me of a time many years ago when I heard another urging to mend a relationship. Those same you-do-not-have-time voices chanted in my head, but I chose to stop and invite the couple to dinner and restore our friendship. The very next week the wife died.

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What actions have you delayed, denied, or declined to do that the voice in your spirit has urged you to act upon?
Storms of life arrive without warning—tsunamis of grief—leaving emotional bondage that lasts a lifetime if not settled or mended before life ends. Hurricanes of turmoil that could have been avoided if we had chosen another route of travel. Or earthquakes of ruin because of foolish, ungodly decisions.

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As you read this, I’m sure God is placing His finger of warning smack-dab on that relationship, bondage, or troublesome habit. What you ought to do…you ought to do now! Because you don’t know if there will ever be another opportunity before Jesus comes, or He calls you, or them home.
Or the object of concern morphs into something much more serious. More destructive. More life changing. More deadly.

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What is the Spirit of the Lord whispering, perhaps shouting that you ought to do?
YOU OUGHT TO DO NOW!

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Steel Magnolia—now that’s a clever oxymoron coined by a writer and a film maker who saw the creativity. And they made lots of money. But anyone who knows anything about magnolias knows even though they’re a large flower, they are tender and subject to bruising with the slightest touch.

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During this time of year, when they’re in full blossom, the heavy fragrance clings to every breeze. So where does the steel part of this picture come from?
My mama—just like the mother in the movie—is the poster mom for a strong, southern, steel magnolia. And I bet your mom is too.

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Before my mama was out of her teen years, a dysfunctional home, twelve siblings, and a mother who didn’t fit the picture of Mom of the Year and her numerous husbands, inflicted emotional bruises too numerous to know or name. Her teen years were spent at the Parental Home for Girls in Jacksonville, Florida, and was probably the only stabilizing factor in Mama’s life.
But like Jeremiah 29:11 says:
“For I know the plans I have for you, ‘Declares the Lord,’ plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

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I’m sure as a teen Mama never heard this verse, and raised during the depression, walking with her mom and siblings from south Georgia to Jacksonville, Florida, to find a place to live, probably never had the slightest inclination God had a plan for her life—but He did!
Through the love and testimony of a neighbor and her husband, my mama and daddy came to trust Jesus while I was still a young girl. And Mama determined my brother and I would have the home and family she never had. She was equally determined her children would be raised knowing the Word of God. And God worked in real time tempering this steel magnolia mom.
Mama and Daddy were married well over fifty years when she developed Alzheimer’s, and as sad as it was for all of us, she was probably happier than any other time in her life during the early years of that disease. Before she went home, she had forgotten who Daddy was, who I was, but she never forgot the old hymns of her faith.

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One evening toward the end of her life, I phoned the charge nurse who reported Mama was groaning. I asked her to go back and lean close and listen. With tears she returned and said, “Your mom is singing Amazing Grace.”
A week never passes without my spending time pondering the strength and courage of my steel magnolia mama. Excuses or blame never fell from her lips—unlike women today who choose to blame their parents for the mess they’ve made of their own lives. And Mama wouldn’t tolerate whining or blame from me either.
My dad was a clown—always the one with a sense of humor. My brother was a brat—as all little brothers are apt to be. And me? Of course, I was the perfect child—unless I wasn’t.
Mama never learned to drive. Raised two kids who participated in school activities and never turned into a chauffeur.
One Spring morning a group of my friends and I decided it would be much more fun to skip school and hang out at one of the teens’ house, who just happened to have a pool. Never thinking the bus driver might not think it odd eight or nine kids at a particular bus stop all be sick—she reported our absence to the principal.
We were splashing and whooping up a good time when one of the boys looked through the knot hole in the fence and gasped, “It’s your mama, DiAne. And boy does she look mad.” You coulda heard a drop of water splat in that pool.
Mama marched down the street with her armor of steel, ready to bruise our party. And she delivered all of us back to the school authorities (how I don’t remember), with the promise that a worse fate awaited each one of us after school.
Yes, Mama and Daddy believed in corporal punishment, and the weapon of choice might be anything from a switch, to a belt, to the back of her hand, aptly applied to my fanny.
The rule at our house was if you were stupid enough to get in trouble at school—well, those of you who are older know the rest of the story—and it wasn’t a pleasant afternoon of time-out in your room.
Mama believed in hard labor. Every spring and fall this bruised, steel-tempered flower had a load of top soil delivered—waiting for the first kid to break the rules. The punishment entailed spreading wheel-barrels-full of dirt on the lawn. Mama never had a yard guy. My brother and I were the hands of choice. Or silver-polishing hands, or baseboard scrubbing hands. Or weed pulling hands. Or—

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And those chores and applied disciplines didn’t handicap or destroy me. On the contrary, Mama’s steely character instilled in me a good work ethic. And moral principles. She taught me to be a mother. And modeled how to love God and those friends and neighbors He places in my path.
I miss you, Mama, and am so grateful for your courage and your faith. I thank you for the cooking genes and recipes, and I thank you for being that strong, southern, steel magnolia—making difficult choices so Andy and I, Daddy, and the grandchildren could live in the light of your legacy.
I long for the time when we will all be together again. With Jesus. Forever.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MAMA! I LOVE YOU~

Originally posted on Susan Baganz's Silygoos Blog:

diane gatesToday I welcome author DiAn Gates to my blog!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to?

I won a church sponsored writing contest at age thirteen, with an article entitled The Basis of a Great Nation is the Christian Home. The original copy is sequestered in my cedar chest and I cringe at the grammar and punctuation each time I come across this tattered piece of paper.

As a young mother I was horrified at children’s color books, so I created my own. And sold copies of my color book babies as I freelanced art shows in the deep south and at Sea World Orlando.

Those color book characters became part of a four book devotional series, The Master’s Plan, I wrote and illustrated to help parents teach their kiddos the Bible. You can’t teach what you don’t…

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dianegates:

Imperative read by friend and fellow blogger. I encourage you to read and if you stand with us, please repost on your site. I’ve long heard the definition of democracy as being “Your rights end where my nose begins.” Homosexuals can do as they wish. Just don’t include me or mine in your rebellion.

Originally posted on Ernie's Musings:

Borrowed from: http://www.jonathanmerritt.com/tag/gay-marriage/ Borrowed from: http://www.jonathanmerritt.com/tag/gay-marriage/

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

This week the United States Supreme Court met to hear arguments for and against constitutional protection or sanction of same-sex “marriage” nationwide. Regarding traditional marriage – between one man and one woman – Justice Anthony M. Kennedy made this poignant statement: “This definition has been with us for millennia, and it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Oh, well, we know better.’”[1] Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. zeroed in on the agenda driving the gay rights same-sex marriage movement. He rightly pointed out, “You’re not seeking to join the institution [of marriage] –…

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I’m sure the world has seen the pictures of the angry, courageous mother in Baltimore, Maryland, this week. The mother who saw her son was in danger and did what she had to do to save him.
“Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid” (Proverbs 12:1 NAS).

Would we had millions of moms just like her. Moms willing to do—to risk—whatever it takes to drag their children out of harm’s way.
And did you notice the son? He obeyed his mama!
“Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you smite him with the rod, he will not die” (Proverbs 23:13 NAS).

Can you picture what raced through this young man’s mind when he saw this female dynamo mom charging toward him with his name flaming in her eyes? He was quoted as saying “I thought about running, but I knew it’d be worse if I ran.” And he obeyed. Not because he wanted to, but because he had a righteous fear of his mother. May God bless that boy and his mom for their righteous fear.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7 NAS).

God tells us:
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 NAS).

Yes, that boy’s heart was full of deceived, foolishness, but he also had been on the receiving end of her rod of correction before. And she taught him well. He obeyed his mom.
God tells parents to discipline children quickly and diligently. And this mama did just that.
Far too long we have listened to the Spocks and liberal idiots who tell us don’t spank the child. Give ‘em a time out instead. Don’t damage their self-esteem. Well, America, to coin a famous psychologist, “How’s that working for you?” From the mob of undisciplined Baltimore teens I saw on TV Monday night, that answers the question—Who’s right, Dr. Spock or God?
A group of angry, courageous moms could have quelled that mob’s violence in less than thirty minutes with the switch of motherly disciplinary rage. But that would have meant the discipline would have begun before Monday night. And it would also have meant the perpetuating press, and whispering, instigating, troublemakers, would have to be disciplined and sent home too.
“For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, contention quiets down. Like charcoal to hot embers and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body…He who hates disguises it with his lips, but he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously do not believe him, for there are seven abominations in his heart” (Proverbs 26:20-25 NAS).

Mothers, dads, you do a great disservice to your child by laughing and refusing to address and discipline inappropriate behavior. What’s cute at two isn’t precious at five or six. But by that age habits have been formed. Habits that are difficult to change. Like who rules the home? But mom and dad, if you fail to discipline your child, you have chosen to disobey God.
“The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul” (Proverbs 29:15, 17 NAS)
How displeased, yes even angry, God must be with this nation of absentee parents of rebellious off-spring.
You can’t do anything about the children of the world, but you can change your child. And with that change you may influence friends and neighbors to reclaim their authority over their children, so that these rebellious, deceived children may come to understand the authority of God in their lives and be saved from an eternity of hell’s fire. Separated from God forever.
All because they never learned to abide by the rules.
Scripture tells us that when Christ returns there will be such crying among His people as we come into His presence that God will have to wipe our tears away. Have you considered what would be so horrific it would take God stepping from His throne and going through the crowd to wipe the tears from our eyes? I buried a twenty-eight year old daughter and I can tell you I cried. Cried for years, but I stopped crying.
And we all stop crying at some point from tragedies on this earth.

However, think about watching the child you birthed told by God “depart from me, I never knew you.” And watching the angels carry your child, your neighbor’s child, your niece or nephew, and watching them be cast into an eternal place of torment…prepared for the devil and his angels.
All because you decided to be their friend rather than their parent. Because you didn’t teach them to respect authority, so they had no understanding or respect for the authority of God.
Perhaps you’ve never learned about the need for authority in your own life. Understand this please, God created you and He loves you with an everlasting love. And He desires you to change your thinking, submit yourself to His authority and place your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. Right now, while there’s still time. But God’s patience will not last forever. One day, perhaps even tomorrow—God will tell Jesus, Son, go get my children.
And all hell will break out on this earth for seven years. Torment and hell making Baltimore and Ferguson seem like a picnic.
Make no mistake, we’re all going to live forever. Somewhere. Yes, during those seven years you can still be rescued by Jesus, but you will be killed for trusting Him. At the end of those seven years it will be too late. Your destiny will be settled. Forever.
But right now you have the choice—heaven in God’s presence?
Or an eternity with the instigator of all rebellion, lies, and murders. The roaring lion who since the beginning has destroyed so many lives—and desires to destroy yours and your child’s too.
And remember, it’s always worse to run from God.
“There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him; haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers” (Proverbs 6:6-9 NAS).

REFLECTIONS

Reflections existed before time began when the Spirit of God reflected the glory and power of God as He hovered over the face of the waters. And the Son of God gave glory to the Father, when He enunciated the magnificent dawn of creation, “Let their be light; and there was light.” DSCN2934 And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Genesis 1:2-3, 5 NAS). God’s created light illuminated the brilliance of the sun and placed the soft glow of the moon over all mankind reflecting His glory back to Him. And reflections have grown and multiplied through corridors of time to today. Right this moment, whose image do you reflect? The holy or the profane? Jesus left two perpetual instructions for all generations—God’s truth—how to have the reflection of God’s glory in us. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40 NAS). But we have failed. Failed to love Him with all of our hearts. Because if we had loved Him as He commanded, we would have obeyed Him. In all things. And would not have refused to love our neighbor, unless they were just like us. But you can’t do or teach what you don’t know. And many, even in the church have no knowledge nor appetite to study and learn God’s Word. 2015 05 26 013 Many tiptoe through the scriptures picking and choosing what to believe and throwing out the rest. And the reflections they mirror are muddied, rebellious images. Incorrect representations of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder the growing majority of mankind turns their backs on hypocritical religious rites? They can’t see. Their eyes are blinded. They don’t know God’s truth. And many have chosen to reflect other images. Images of chaos. Images of pride. Even images of death. Before Jesus was crucified, He prayed for those who belong to Him. Yes, for you and me, and for all generations who claim the name of Jesus, and He asked: “…I come to Thee, Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou has given Me, that they may be one, even as We are. I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst sent Me…I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me” (John 17:11,15-17, 20-21, 23 NAS). Church are we one? One crisp, clearly defined image, reflecting His Word, His love, His forgiveness, His grace (salvation), His peace, His joy, His righteousness, His holiness? Are we standing firm, as He commanded, in the foundational truths of His Word? 2015 05 26 001 Or are we a muddled mess? Or have winds of deception, ripples of discord, and murmurings of boastful pride stirred the reflections of the churches into grotesque, false representations? Do you really think there’s going to be an Episcopal, Catholic, Baptist or Presbyterian or Church of God or countless other congregations in eternity? Separated by their own special quirks? I’m afraid that’s where many congregations find themselves today. Choosing to walk in their own understanding rather than the truth of the Word of God. Picking and choosing what they perceive to be popular. Divided. Deceived. Doomed. 2015 05 26 030 Or will this eternity purchased by the perfect Son of God, born of a virgin, who was sent—fully God and fully man—to shed His blood as God’s once for all sacrifice, then three days later resurrected, just like God said, so you and I could be forgiven and live forever with Him—will this eternity ring with one unanimous voice of praise and glory? Saying: “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And Thou has made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10 NAS). Then why can’t we praise Him with one accord now? Why can’t we speak in one accord the Truth, known from the beginning? There’s only one answer, “there are enemies in the camp.” Unbelievers who don’t know Jesus. But like the first century church, the refining fires of persecution are heating seven times hot in the Middle East, Africa, Afghanistan, and these fires will rage across the globe, across America, purifying God’s people. Until God’s people return, repent, and obey our Father’s commands. Or until the appointed day when God says, Son go get My children. Or until the moment of Christ’s return catches many by surprise? 2015 05 26 025 What image does your heart reflect today? Images of a world gone mad or images of our Lord Jesus Christ? I wish I could say my reflection was never muddy. But as my mama used to say, wish in one hand, spit in the other and see which gets full first. Trials have taught me to depend on the Lord Jesus. Tests have given His strength when I ask—when I choose peace—rather than grumbling. Tribulations teach me to trust Him…even in death. “Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth; knowing you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with the precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:13-19 NAS). Now it’s your choice. Which image will you reflect? Christ Jesus as Lord of your life, regardless of your circumstances? Or images of whatever you’ve chosen to worship? 2015 05 26 038 Christ tells His own people: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:10-11 NAS). God promises to transform you, from faith to faith, into a clear, concise, mirror reflection of His only Son. If you will let Him. Forever.

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