Archive for March, 2014

“Well, I found him.” My husband left the house an hour before swallowed in aggravation. Now his eyes sparked a twinkle and a slight smile tickled the corners of his lips.

I look behind him. “Where?”

A grin captured his face. “Oh no. First you’ve got to promise you won’t be upset.”

Too late. With that statement I’m upset. “Why didn’t you bring him home? Is he all right??”

“Come on, I’ll show you—after you promise.” He gave my hand a squeeze. “Promise?”

“Yes. I promise. But hurry up. We’re late.”

I followed my husband out the door, down the drive, up the street, and over to the edge of the woods.DSCF4560

“Where are we going? And where is Michael?” Every step ratcheted my angst.

“Shhhh.” Husband stepped carefully and put finger to his lips. “Be quiet. We’re almost there.”

We followed the dirt trail another few minutes before I heard DSCF4561shouts, giggles, and the KERSPLAT of filthy bayou water, punctuated by objects larger than a small rock dancing across this muddy excuse for a river.

Stifling a chuckle, this man I married pointed proud toward the boys.

Eyes blazing and hands on hips, I became Sergeant Mom. “What are you—”

“Honey, they’re just being boys. Let ‘em be. So what if we’re late?”

Stepping closer, I saw my son grab hold of a gnarled old rope and swing from an overhanging tree branch. He turned lose and dropped into this yucky swimming hole, wiggling and shouting ‘til he plunged into the brown sludge.

My first impulse was to drag him kicking and screaming home. But DSCF4565bless his heart, husband grabbed my hand and pulled me away.
Two days later son woke up with a dreadful earache. A trip to the doctor confirmed an ear infection. Hmmm. Wonder how he contracted that?

Dinner that evening was not a pleasant family gathering. And future swims in the bayou were outlawed by Sergeant Mom. Father sat quiet, but I didn’t miss the wink and smile exchange between those two culprits.

From this side of problem, I wondered if those brief moments of fun were worth the pain suffered.

Life can be like that. Surrounded by dirty swimming holes. Puddles of mud luring us to jump in, stomp around, and have a good time.

Murky pools of gossip disguised as prayer requests. Roasting DSCF4567God’s anointed ones over Sunday lunch. Binges of toxic foods and alcohol consumption that leave harmful effects long after they are consumed. Secret addictions we’d die if anyone knew. Pornography. Adultery. Anger. Unforgiveness. Covetousness. The list is endless. And all are prevalent within the church. There’s sin in the camp, folks.

Yep, we all surrender to quick dips in puddles of sin. Then we hop out, soap up, and rinse off. Thinking we’re squeaky clean—no one will ever know. But sin’s nasty germs tuck themselves in dark corners of our hearts and minds. Places no one but me, you, and God can see. Left to thrive, they multiply and manifest themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.

God calls us to holiness.

I know I struggle with a critical spirit and with exchanging the important for the urgent. Before my eyelids open in the morning my brain is already racing through the days schedule. My feet hit the floor, and if I don’t stop and take “…every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:5 NAS), I end up leaving my Lord Jesus in the dust of my self-created turmoil. Pride in my ways, my thoughts, my plans.

And BTW, the sin of pride is on God’s top seven hate list. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NKJ) Have I overcome all my dirty ponds? Oh my, no. I’m better than I used to be, but not as good as God’s going to make me when all my mud puddles have been conquered.

Yes, we are saved eternally from the penalty of sin, but we must DSCF3337daily wash with the soap and water of the Word. We must take time, every day, to sit before the Lord and listen. We must praise and worship Him for who He is and for what He’s done. Only then can The Holy Spirit produce eternal fruit in our lives.

What puddle of mud whispers your name? Please share with us your struggles and successes as confirmation and encouragement to other readers that Jesus never leaves or forsakes us—even when we choose to dive into bayous of sin. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and toDSCF3351 cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9 NAS).

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136 NKJ).

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A beautiful lady appearing on the cooking channel this week made a scrumptious looking orange pudding cake and I thought that looks yummy. I can make that recipe.

So, last evening I gathered the ingredients and combined them, step-by-step. I placed the ramekins in a baking dish and filled the container with water for their thirty minute beauty-bath.

Fifteen minutes into the cooking process I turned around and, holy-moley, hisses of steam gushed out the seams in the oven door, followed by an explosion, and the sound of shattering, breaking glass.

I yanked open the door and gawked at a baking dish in a zillion DSCF4450pieces on the racks, falling into the sizzling water filling the bottom of my oven. A fine layer of glass slivers lay scattered across the top of the partially baked cakes.

Slamming the door shut I reached for the cancel switch, punched it, and stood cemented to the floor. Shocked. Conferring with myself I asked, What happened? What should I do? And answered, Can’t do anything ‘til the temperature cools.

Oh my beautiful cakes. What a waste. What a mess.

I cleaned up the fragments, slivers and pieces of glass after dinner and thought how much worse it could have been. The dish could have held a grits, eggs, and cheese—not just water.

Thank you, Lord.

This morning I described the accident to a friend and she asked, “Did you put hot or cool water in the dish?”

“Why, I put boiling water in the dish. Aren’t you supposed to?”

“No.” She said, “The temperature difference must have caused theDSCF4452 dish to break.”

“Fifteen minutes into the process?” I asked.

I’m so thankful God doesn’t plunge us into boiling water to transform us into what He intends us to become. However, the moment we come to Jesus, confessing, repenting, and trusting Him DSCF2349to save us and wash us clean from the guilt of sin, the water bath of our sanctification begins.

Day by day—moment by moment, God controls the temperature of the conforming process, just like the silversmith purifying silver.

The smith heats the silver warmer and warmer, little by little, skimming the dross as it separates and floats to the top. Always controlling the heat. Not too hot, nor too cold. Watching as the impurities come to the surface, he scoops them out of the pot. Over and over this process is repeated until the silversmith can gaze into the pot and see his reflection in the purified silver.
Just like Jesus does with each one of us.

Does the refining process at times seem unbearable? Oh yes. And the whirlwinds of life tragic? Certainly. But God has promised He will never leave us or forsake us and “God causes all things together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (Romans 8:28-29 NAS). And all includes even the bad stuff.

I’m not a quick-study and sometimes I don’t listen or follow directions. As evidenced by the mess in my oven last night. But my Father in Heaven is merciful and patient. Scripture tells me, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, forDSCF3352 His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NAS).

He shapes and molds my character everyday, changing me into the image of His Son. But I often don’t learn ‘til He turns up the heat, allowing painful situations to surface, sending me running back to my Savior and Lord—Jesus Christ.

Have explosions of disobedience and rebellion left shattered slivers of sin’s fall-out scattered over your not-done-yet image in the mirror? Please don’t despair, God’s grace, mercy, and love is extended to you this day.

By the confession of your mouth and repentance of your heart, allow the water-bath of His Word and the fire of trials to bring the dross to surface. He gathers the sins of His own people, DSCF4115casting them behind His back—into the depths of the sea. Never to be remembered again.

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A scream, like only a teenaged girl can vocalize, sliced the stillness of the afternoon. I raced toward the bedroom where her petulant voice echoed, “MO—THER!”

Daughter stood in the doorway of her closet swatting, scratching, and stripping off clothes. “Ants!” she shouted and smacked herTop hands up and down her face, neck, and body. “Everywhere. In my closet. In my clothes. Do something!”

“The kitchen, under the sink.” I motioned to the horrified girlfriend plastered against the opposite wall, “Get my rubber gloves and a plastic bag.”

I opened the plastic bag she offered at arms-length and stuffed shoes, socks, shirts, and an assortment of objects attempting to find out where the nasty creatures were coming from. And then, there it was. Laying on the bottom of her junky closet floor, underneath a hubble of rubble—HER GYM BAG.

“But Mom—” Her face colored sorry.

I glared first at her, then at the angry ants. Pulling open the bag I found they had built an ant condominium around her left-over candy bars, crackers, and fruit. For how long? Who knows?

“Open the window and push out the screen,” I ordered and heaved the ants, rotted fruit, and gym bag out the window. “Get the bug spray, the vacuum, and anything else you need to clean up this pigsty and don’t you ever—”

Years have passed and I laugh about the incident now, but isn’t that where we live every day? In a garbage heap of sins and lies that sting, bite, and torture. A place where enemies lurk to demoralize and destroy our families. A place that can be fatal. And a place where we shrug our shoulders passively and dumpster-dive into the growing heap of filth, rather than clean up the rubbish.

But we’re not the first, God’s ancient people did that too. In Jerusalem.

God said their nation was beyond repair because they persecuted the prophets and continually rebelled and sinned against a holy and righteous God. So God sent the Babylonian army, under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar in 605 B.C., to take Judah captive for seventy years. In the final siege, the king’s army took the rest of the Jews to Babylon and burned the temple, Jerusalem, and tore down the walls of the holy city and burned its gates.

Seventy years later, King Cyrus of Persia signed a decree that allowed the captives to return to Jerusalem, just like God said they would. They began to rebuild the temple, but enemies had moved into the land who refused to accept the returning refugees. The temple work was halted for fourteen years and finally finished in 516 B.C. But the city was a mess. The walls were still broken and the houses destroyed. Ninety-three years after the Jews returned to Jerusalem, with the exception of the temple, the holy city—God’s chosen city—was a dump.

‘Til God called Nehemiah in 445 B.C. to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah prayed and fasted and God gave him a plan and, together with the help of the Lord, under the leadership of Nehemiah, the refugees rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in fifty-two days.

How did they do it?

Nehemiah instructed each family to clean the rubble and rebuild the portion of the wall in front of their home. If you read the 3rd Chapter of Nehemiah you will find the repeated phrase “next to them,” “next to him,” “after them.”

Ah, that’s the answer. God’s people working shoulder to shoulder. Choosing to be holy. Choosing to clean up their life, their family, and their home. But that would mean choosing to denounce and repent of the deep, dark valley of lies that have deceived our minds and hearts and tuning our ears to hear, believe, and stand for God’s truths.

Because America has become a garbage landfill. A dump of everything ungodly.

We face hoards of voices screaming their lies every day: Homosexuality. Abortion. Same sex marriage. Drugs. Murder. No consequences for sin. No hell. All roads lead to God. Everyone goes to heaven. The list is endless.

And yet we knowingly permit ourselves to be lulled, in the darkness of a movie theater or at home in front of our wide screens, by pretty people, gushing half-truths, involved in abhorrent behavior, while beautiful background music sears and dulls our conscience. And we’re not smart enough to discern a half-truth is a whole lie.

America needs tribes of Nehemiahs. Men and women, and young people ready to become valiant warriors for God. Warriors who will stand, focused, and ready to obey their Lord. Servants who will lead God’s people in cleaning up the rubble at their house, throwing it on the trash heap, and rebuilding walls of righteousness and justice and holiness around this nation. One house at a time.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12 NAS).

Trust God—And clean house. Your house. Before we too are beyond repair.

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