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Archive for March, 2012

GOSSIP

Ever play the game of  Gossip? Betcha have. Remember the outcome? Laughter. Hilarious chuckles when that last person repeats the translation of what has been whispered from mouth to ear around the circle of participants.

Somewhere between the first and last persons, the words became garbled, distorted, and tangled. The ending words and meaning very different than what was said in the beginning.

Life’s like that. It’s all about our ability to listen, interpret what we hear, and then pass that experience or lesson on to the next person. If we don’t listen well, or misinterpret what we’ve heard or learned, we cause a twist or a distortion in that lesson of life for generations to come.

Last evening my husband Richard and I attended Kirk Cameron’s new movie Monumental. It was a life changing event for the two of us.

Kirk begins by asking many of the questions you and I have asked, “How did we get in this mess and what are we supposed to do about it?” His journey to find answers takes him back to those first Americans—the Pilgrims. Did you know they have real names and faces, recorded in historical writings? They were patriots the likes of which we have never known. He takes us back to England and then Holland to reveal that their message has been distorted somewhere between the 1600’s and 2012.

Richard and I sat mesmerized while an unknown and unexpected history lesson unfolded on the screen. God’s finger probed the depths of my heart and pinpointed the puny nature of my existence and my faith. My lack of fortitude to live with the strength and the conviction exhibited by these founders of America during my appointed time here on earth. I too have lived with a sense of entitlement—because I am an American. A distortion? A deception. Or both?

Then he revealed the little known but timely message chiseled in granite, that the Pilgrims left for each one of us, on a piece of ground in Plymouth, Massachusetts. And no, I’m not talking about Plymouth Rock.

Seven or eight cities in the United States will show this film again this coming week. Plano, Texas, is one of the markets. Richard and I encourage you and your family to set time aside to see this movie. I guarantee you will be forever changed. The name again is Monumental.

 Go online to find the locations and times and I would suggest you order your tickets online before the weekend. Most theaters were sold out for last evenings showing. Visit DemandTheMovie.com for more information.

I’ve whispered the message to you with clarity and accuracy. Now it’s up to you. Will you listen? Will you learn? And then teach this message to future generations? Like the Pilgrims, we have been ordained to live “for such a time as this.”

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Walk awhile with me. Enthralled by this crossroad. Entwined in the passion that springs from the heart of God.  Enveloped in His Words that strike a unified cord in our hearts to nourish and encourage us in life’s journey for this moment in time.

 

My husband walks in the door in the evening, punches on the TV and listens to the news—nonstop—6:00 to 10:300. By the time he’s ready to call it a day, I’m ready to mount a siege, write my congressman and strangle most of our leaders. And my husband goes to sleep.

Tonight brought the news that forty-nine people have been shot on the south side of Chicago in the past three days. That’s right—in three days. That’s more than have been killed in Afghanistan in months. One of the victims, a little six year old girl playing in her yard.

How did we get here?

A pastor from the south side of Chicago talked with the commentator and when asked what he thought the solution to this town’s problem was the pastor suggested the problems occurred because those committing these crimes felt hopeless and we, Americans, should send more money, create more programs, and volunteer to help in this war zone. He made no mention of the need for a transformation of the heart that only Jesus can give. Nor did he call their actions what God calls them—an abomination.

God identified the problem centuries ago and the answer is the same today. (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJ)

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

That’s why Jesus had to die, for my wicked heart and for your wicked heart.

God lists the seven things that are an abomination to Him in Proverbs 6:18 (NKJ):

A proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies and one who sows discord among brethren.

America is a nation divided against itself and God says:

            “And if a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.” Mark   3:24 (NKJ)     

So, is there any way out of this destructive maze?  Yes!

It’s time the body of Christ becomes so appalled at our sins as a nation, that we tremble at the open rebellion in America and the compromise of the Word of God in the church. So appalled that we sit before the Lord God Almighty for a day of mourning for sins that we’ve ignored and grown accustomed to.

Reading the account of Ezra, I’m convicted of the lackadaisical way I come to worship The Lord God. In the past I’ve been stirred up over unrighteousness then dismissed or forgotten the incidents, too busy to even pray about them.

I have pointed my judgmental finger at the White House, Congress, Courts, rogue terrorists and those who refuse to be responsible, law abiding citizens—blaming them for all the troubles and divisiveness in America.  But II Chronicles 7:13-14 (NKJ) points the finger of blame at Church of Jesus Christ.

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if  I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Oh Church, we are not connecting the dots. Our land is being devoured by killer tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, riots, disease, collapse of financial markets , unprecedented man-made disasters.  Our money goes into pockets with holes in them because we have stolen from God. Crimes of every descriptions continue unchecked from our city streets up to the highest offices of our government—all consequences of our refusal to call our problems what they are—sin and rebellion to God and His Word.

God either causes catastrophes or they are allowed by His hand in order to call His people to repent and turn away from our religious apathy and turn back to Him (Isaiah 45:5-7 NKJ). We’re instructed to be holy and set apart, living by the principles and precepts of His Holy Word. Ezra’s words call us to set our hearts to study, know, practice, and teach His statutes and ordinances in this land He blessed and gave to our forefathers.

Never in the history of our nation have there been like days.  In God’s providence, each one of us has been placed in this moment “for such a time as this”.  Will you sit appalled with me? Will you join me to study the Word of God and be diligent to allow His Word to change the way we think?

Only after we have heard and responded to the Word of God can we legitimately fall on our knees like Ezra did in Ezra 9:3-4 pleading for His mercy, grace, and restoration—for our relationship with Him, then for our nation.

Will you join me in asking God to send the fresh wind and fire of His Spirit to blow across our hearts and then through the churches in this land, bringing God’s cleansing, healing and restorative power to the Body of Christ.

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Summer before last I purchased a new variety of zinnias, the miniature bushy ones. They bloomed all season in a plethora of colors, draping their smiling faces over the bricks of my backdoor flower bed.

Then winter swooped in. Early and with great gusto. Caught by surprise, I didn’t have the opportunity to pull up the spent annuals and mulch the bed for the coming spring.

To my delight, when spring arrived, the warm soil became home for a new crop of miniature zinnias that needed no help from me. And when the harsh Texas winter was followed by the most severe drought we’d experienced in decades, those tough little plants thrived and bloomed in even greater abundance than the year before.

Now I’m a quick study in the gardening department. I purchased three packages of their larger cousins to frame these border darlings. Those seeds also produced hardy plants with spectacular blossoms in red, purple and yellow, all summer long. While my plumerias and roses, orchids and daisies struggled to maintain life in the 110 plus afternoon heat, the $2.50 packages of zinnia seeds flourished and embellished our landscape with vivid color.

One pleasant fall afternoon, I sat in my yard swing with spent zinnia heads in my lap and removed seeds from each dried blossom. Every flower produced at least fifty or more seeds. What a harvest! Now that I had learned the secret of this tough flower of garden annuals, I envisioned flower beds this summer that would explode into patches of brilliant color.

In Genesis 1:29 God said: “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth. . . ”

I looked at the bags of seeds I’d collected and thanked God for His multiplied provision for the next season’s garden, but asked forgiveness for countless seeds of His goodness I’ve wasted through the years, both in my garden and in my life.

In times of abundance I’ve taken God’s blessings for granted and foolishly squandered the gifts He poured out on me. But when hard times come, and they always do, I’m quick to faint and cry for His help.

I’m prone to revert to a hothouse plant that needs constant care from the elements of life. How about you? Remember God allows difficult situations in our lives in order to develop in us the hardiness and courage to thrive in all conditions. His desire is that like this tough, prolific flower of my garden, we too will produce vivid, colorful blossoms of mercy, love, and joy in every season. Then, like the zinnia, He can multiply the harvest of our lives.

           

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A DREAM

Walk awhile with me. Enthralled by this crossroad. Entwined in the passion that springs from the heart of God.  Enveloped in His Words that strike a unified cord in our hearts to nourish and encourage us in life’s journey for this moment in time.

 

A dream. A realistic dream. A dream that remains alive and vivid hours later. A week later. What about you? Ever had such a dream? Did you dismiss it? Miss it? Or forget about it?

In the early hours of last Tuesday morning, I had such a dream. I’ve never put much stock in dreams. But this one—so lifelike, so clear, so intense.

Monday night I went to bed mulling over a problem and the dream opened with me telling two men about my problem. One, a dear friend, the other the pastor of  the church where I grew up—Dr. Homer Lindsay, Sr.

As I finished stating my problem, Dr. Lindsay got up out of his chair, came over, and put his arm around me. He leaned close to my ear and said, “DiAne, you remember Jeremiah 29:11, don’t you?”

I replied, “Yes sir.” And we quoted it in unison, his voice recognizable and intelligible. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”

The dream ended, my eyes flashed open, and a sense of comfort and hope that only God can give wrapped around me and carried me through the morning with a renewed sense of security and joy.

Until four A.M. the following morning when my husband woke me. “DiAne.” He spoke in a voice I’ve come to understand means trouble. “We have a problem. It’s my heart. I want you to drive me to Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas”.

We were in Longview, Texas—two hours away from Dallas and Presbyterian Hospital.

I sprang from the covers and pulled on yesterday’s jeans and a shirt. “O Lord!” my mind raced and my heart quaked. “What’s he thinking? I can’t drive two hours with him. In the car. About to have a heart attack.”

Another thought zipped through my mind. Look at his color. I turned on the light and looked at  his face. His color was good. Warm. Not the pasty gray of a heart attack. Immediately the dream of the previous night flashed across my consciousness and the peace of God took control of my terrified heart and I heard drive him to Presbyterian in Dallas.

We made the drive—in record time. And for the next thirty-six hours the medical staff at Presbyterian Dallas accomplished the necessary tests to confirm that my husband did not and was not having a heart attack. His previous by-passes and stints were unchanged and blood was coursing through his arteries as it should be.

For once in my life I rested in the promise God confirmed to me the night before all this transpired, and reminded Him of that promise during that two hour drive Wednesday morning. I traveled through those thirty-six hours at peace with the knowledge God was in control—not me.

Almost a week has passed and I paused this morning to contemplate how many times I’ve missed or dismissed God’s instructions and warnings. Choosing instead to race ahead of the stresses and strains of life. Always running. Refusing to be still. Neglecting to rest in Him.

My prayer is that I remember. Remember to listen and heed God’s Word and His warnings. Remember that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And remember God thinks of me. All the time.

“How precious are Thou thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am still with Thee” (Psalm 139:17-18 NAS).

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