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Archive for September, 2012

Two weeks ago our Precept Bible group began our Fall Bible study in the Book of Ezekiel. I knew the book was about visions—lots of them—but had never studied it. The first days homework directed us to read Chapter One. That last verse stopped me cold and sent my mind ripping back through the years…

…to a rainy Sunday afternoon, eight years ago, when my husband and I were returning from Kansas City with our four-year-old grandson, Noah.

Papa drove the car, while Noah and I rode in the backseat and played games and watched the rain splatter on the windshield.

Late in the afternoon we came into Denton, Texas, on I35 South. Traffic was heavy and driving difficult. It had not rained in weeks and the roads were slick.

I glanced toward the east where the sky had cleared and God had painted a spectacular rainbow against the darkness of the passing storm. Noah saw it too and squealed in delight. I began to tell him about his biblical namesake.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the flashing red tail lights of the cars just ahead. Then Papa barked, “Sit back. Brace Noah. Relax.”

“What?”

Without thinking, I jerked my neck to look out the back window. An eighteen-wheeler barreled toward us. Another quick peek forward and I saw the cars in front of us stopped! The truck driver would never be able to stop in that short distance. Not on these roads.

“Oh, Lord, please,” I gasped and smashed my body against the back of the seat and threw my left arm over Noah, tight as I could.

In a breath, an arc of brilliant color appeared overhead and a luminous golden light shimmered all around us and reflected like a thousand tiny stars over the hood of our car. The power of stillness surrounded us within and without. There was utter silence. Peaceful silence. Entrancing silence.

Then it was gone.

How long had it lasted? Minutes? Seconds? I don’t know.

But the cars in front of us had stopped. The truck in back of us stopped a few feet from our back bumper. And we stopped. No squealing brakes, no sliding tires, no honking horns. Not a sound.

Transfixed. I sat, unable to speak. Papa let out a long sigh and put the car in motion as the cars in front of us moved too. Neither Noah, Papa, nor I said a word for a few minutes. Then I leaned forward and whispered, “Honey, what did you see back there? What happened?”

Papa wiped his forehead and ran his hand down the back of his neck. He turned and glanced at me. “You tell me what you saw, first.”

“No. Please. Tell me.”

He stammered, “I…it looked like…we were in the middle of a rainbow and the light…DiAne, was unreal. Golden. Sparkling. So quiet and peaceful.”

Our eyes locked in the rear-view mirror and I whispered, “Me too!”

Papa shrugged his shoulders. “Honey, I’ve driven over 2,000,000 miles and watched disastrous consequences occur in comparable situations. That back there…,” his head tilted backward, “…only God could have spared us.”

I turned to Noah. His precious head slumped against the shoulder of his car seat. Sound asleep.

We rode another few miles pondering all that had transpired. Each of us knew a power greater than anything we had ever experienced or known had intervened in our lives. And for once in my life, I was speechless. Full of awe, wonder and worship.

Eight years later there is still a catch in my throat, and tears in my eyes when my mind plays that scene over again.

And that light—

Though I’m an artist I’m at a loss to describe, paint or interpret it in any way except glorious.

What I know is that someway, somehow, the hand of God miraculously spared us that stormy afternoon in Denton, Texas. And He allowed us a glimpse into the world around us that we can’t see—yet.

Noah is now twelve years old and is the same young man I wrote about in my blog Mother’s Day—Again. The same baby God healed in the womb.

I suspect our Father in Heaven has a very special plan for him.

Noah, if you’re listening, that’s three times God has saved you. Once in the womb, once that Sunday afternoon on a highway outside of Dallas, Texas, and once two years ago when you trusted Jesus and gave your heart and life to Him. Never, never, never forget that, grandson.

And wherever you are today, dear reader, God loves you. And He has a very special plan for your life too. Believe Him. Love Him. Trust and obey Him. Because He alone is faithful.

Has God ever  intervened and by the supernatural power of His mighty hand delivered you from illness, death or harm? If so, please share your story with us.

            “As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell on my face and heard a voice speaking,” (NAS Ezekiel 1:28).

 

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Fire ants and Texas turf are like pancakes and syrup—they stick together.

‘Specially in these times of drought. The ants do love a good drought and, this year, they have mounted a statewide siege. Texans have circled the wagons and fought back with enormous doses of Amdro and Triazicide.

But the ants continued their attacks. Undaunted. Unafraid. And unaffected.

Ants love our yard. You see, we’re on a hill, and while the ants are drawn to water, they don’t like to live in it. In the rare event it rains, the run-off drains into the neighbor’s yard and down the street. Those critters raced from other yards into ours to find the perfect spot for their tribe to squat and then settled into our hillside home on the range.

That’s how I found them—after a heavy rainstorm.

Ant condos. All over our front yard.

Skyscrapers from an ant’s point of view.

Two bags of Triazicide later, spread carefully over the ant mounds, I sighed, confident I had solved our ant problem.

That was Friday evening.

Saturday morning I opened the pantry to find millions and zillions of ants swarming in my pantry.

They had moved inside and the battle of cowboys and ants was on.

I grabbed a garbage can, a pair of rubber gloves, and a bottle of orange oil. Exposed to the light of morning those little suckers amped into a frenzy. Dowsing the front lines with a tidal wave of orange oil, I swiped everything from the shelf into the garbage can. Anything that survived the orange oil went into the sink for washing while the ants attached themselves to things they could cling to. Bottles, cans, and bags. And me.

To my horror, water didn’t wash fire ants off my skin. They have teeth akin to Jaws and once they bite, they hang on.

It was a long and messy battle, but victory went to the cowboys. There was orange oil on the shelves. Orange oil on the floor. And orange oil on me. But ant carcasses piled high in the citrus-smelling puddles.

My husband and I cleaned up the war zone, showered, and left for shopping and dinner. We returned home late in the afternoon to find survivor ants had joined forces with several other battalions and mounted a massive frontal attack—laundry room, fridge and all over and under the stove—with a rear guard assaulting the back entry hall.

For the next three days the battle raged. We cowboys fell into a military routine of attack, fight,  retreat, then do it all over again the next day. Different location, new bottle of orange oil, and a mounting casualty count. The enemy, however, had innumerable reserves.

By the third morning, I considered hiding in bed. But I knew they’d find me. Eventually. Might as well get up and fight this battle in the kitchen rather than risk a bedroom invasion.

Finally, the Calvary arrived, via the bug guy. He brought in the heavy artillery—tanks of concoctions mixed to annihilate this never-ending army of ants. And he was victorious.

While I set about reclaiming disputed territory, sorting-out and replacing objects in drawers, cabinets and closets, I’ve had to acknowledge my poor housekeeping habits. I realized that while I pounded the computer keyboard, I had postponed weekly cleaning chores, and chosen the urgent tasks over the important ones. And these troublesome little adversaries moved unnoticed into the cracks, crevices, and corners of our home’s foundation. Then they surfaced. Armed and ready to destroy.

During the events of this past week, my heart grew dry and parched, like the scorched Texas earth. Distracted by the invasion of ants, exhausted from necessary household upkeep, and weakened by wrong choices—I’ve struggled.

Our lives are full of distractions that sap our energy, interrupt our days, and turn our attention away from the maintenance our hearts and spirits require—time with God the Father. We must read His Word and listen for His Spirit’s voice in order to recognize and deal with the intrusions of the enemy of our soul before they become a full-scale assault.

It’s all about timely housekeeping.

Just like those ants, the enemy of our soul creeps into the chinks in our armor, and diverts our attention from our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. One small choice. One angry word. One single thought or action at a time. Suddenly we find ourselves in a battle, on the front lines, wondering how we got there.

Thank you Lord, that You understand the weakness of our humanity and are ready to hear our cries and restore our hearts. When we ask.

This morning I’m relieved I don’t have to face angry ants. Like spiritual battles, the ants will return and there will be other battles. But I pray this war has taught me lessons about regular cleaning habits, not only in my house, but in my heart as well.

What battles do you face that sneak in and rob your peace? What pulls your focus away from daily communication with your Father in Heaven? What steals the strength of your heart and the power from your spirit?

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Have you ever given serious thought to why Jesus would weep when He stood with Mary and Martha at their brother’s tomb?

God would honor His command and Lazarus would walk from the grave. Resurrected. Alive. And Jesus knew this would happen.

So why the tears?

Could it be that He looked into the hearts of His friends and others mourning and in His humanity became overwhelmed with their sorrow? Could it be He looked back through the corridors of time and saw the centuries of tragedy and anguish that sin and death had inflicted on His creation? Could it be He saw His own sacrificial death looming on the horizon? Could He have gazed into future millennia and seen the wars and disease and destruction that must be completed before the end of this era?

Perhaps Jesus also saw how life could have been. God said creation was very good. A perfect relationship, between God and His creations. A perfect life and a perfect future. With no death.

And He wept.

God tells us that the final enemy is death. And anyone who comes face to face with that adversary weeps.

Still that old “if only” rhetoric springs to our minds. If only Adam and Eve hadn’t made that stupid choice. If only I’d been there, I wouldn’t have listened to Lucifer. If only, if only… But the truth is, if we’d been present at creation, we would have made the same choice they did. Look around. Folks still choose death. Every day.

Glance in the mirror. We all make those wrong choices.

I think about the number of times I have deliberately rebelled against God. Knowing what He said, I made the choice to disobey, and have repeated that defiance over and over again. Continually casting my vote for death.

God told Adam and Eve, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die,” (NKJ Genesis 2:16-17). And they did. They ate. They died. Spiritually and physically. Since that time the sin gene has passed from generation to generation. The Word says, “The soul who sins shall But God had a plan to redeem us to Himself. And His plan was and is His Son—Jesus Christ. God’s righteousness demands judgment. We can’t do anything to save ourselves or to pay that price, because we have birth defects. Perpetual sins that need healing. We’re not perfect. And that’s why Jesus had to die.

Hebrews 9:11(b) tells us “without the shedding of blood there is no remission” from sin. That’s why God killed the animals and used their skins to cover Adam and Eve. A blood sacrifice. That’s why those Hebrew children had to watch their fathers kill their perfect little lambs that first Passover night so long ago. So that when the death angel entered the land of Egypt, he would pass over the houses whose door posts were painted with the blood of the lamb. Another blood sacrifice. That’s why days after raising Lazarus, Jesus would become the once-for-all-time blood sacrifice.

The Lord Jesus Christ, our soon-to-be Passover Lamb stood at the grave site of Lazarus and wept.

This Immanuel—God with us, was born to die.

We want to skim over all that history and get to the good stuff. You know, about the resurrection, our new bodies, and heaven. But we can’t get to the good stuff without going through His blood. And to think there are churches today who never mention the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. They never mention sin. The blood that covers sin. The blood that cleanses. The blood that redeems. And Jesus knew that too.

And He wept.

Could His tears also have been for the multiplied millions who, through all of human time, would refuse to go through His blood? Perhaps He cried for their refusal to hear, their futile attempts to cleanse themselves through religiosity, their ultimate rejection of the only way to God the Father.

And He still weeps.

But the Father has set a day. A day, only He knows, when Death will die.

Dr. Paul Tripp says “We will all get to attend the funeral of Death. And that’s a funeral we will all want to go to. A date certain when we will all see Death placed in the coffin.”

There are two classifications of folks in this world when it comes to grief. Those who are grieving and those who will be grieving. Yes, at some point in your life, you too will stand at someone’s grave site and weep.

But, if your loved one who died was washed in the blood of Jesus, and if you’ve been washed in that blood too, there will be a reunion. God promises. All who have trusted in the blood of Jesus to cover their sins will be with Him. Forever. The curse will be lifted, and the earth restored. And when that day comes, there will be no more death. Death will finally die.

And He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true,” (NAS Revelation 21:4-5).

 

PRESCRIPTION: Are you ready? Ready to cry? Ready to die? If not, please contemplate the words in John 3:16-17 and insert your name:

“For God so loved DiAne Gates that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus Christ) that if DiAne Gates would believe on Him (Jesus Christ), DiAne Gates would not perish but DiAne Gates would have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son (Jesus) into the world (the kosmos) to condemn the world (the human race), but that the world (everyone who hears and believes) through Him (Jesus) might be saved,” (NKJ John 3:16).

 

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times, things that are not yet done. Saying, “ My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure”  (NKJ Isaiah 46:9-10).

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