What’s a mama to do?

Even though I am a mom, and of a few kids (too many, some would say (!)),I have no advise, except perhaps: “Keep Showing Up!”

I heard some wise words from a middle school principal with a note to parents: “Hands might be pushing you away, most likely  they are – just make sure that you remain at the other end of those ‘pushing’ hands.” To me, these words are reminding me, “Keep showing up!” 

Any parent of a middle-schooler knows that this is ‘homework’ di-fi-cil ! (Yes, I’m speaking in french, I think!)) But we parents must ‘stay in the game’ with whatever little strength we’ve got. Emotionally, physically, and mentally, we’ve got to ‘stay in the game’, we’ve got to ‘keep showing up’, we need  to remain at the other end of  those ‘pushing hands!’

My own kids know that there have been times where, quite frankly, I walked off the field. Where I took my hurts and just wrapped my arms around myself- yes, they know there were times when I had felt ‘pushed away’ and my hand had retreated, I wasn’t there. They know their mamas not perfect.

What’s a mama to do?

Well, there is a picture that comes to mind, quite frequently for me, a word picture, that brings me back into the game, that helps to ‘lift my weary hands.’ They aren’t word pictures like, ‘Just Do It’, or ‘Have It Your Way’, or even ‘You deserve a Better Life Today,’ NO. The word picture that has kept this mama ‘in the game’ is:

“He laid down His life for me…”

Somehow, I am able to take my hands from around my own chest, and lift them, at least  to pray.

When the baby had trouble getting to sleep, and he’s talking to me again, not in words mind you- but a blood curdling cry, only 2 1/2 hours later, (usually 2:00a.m.) What’s a mama to do?

I remember, “He laid down His life for me.”

What about when the little ones are sick, and no one wants to come near, and loneliness comes in like a fast moving dark cloud? What’s a mama to do?

I remember, “He laid down His life for me.”

What about those moments when you HAVE TO GET THINGS DONE, and the little one wants you to play? (Oh, and you know deep down that just  5-7 minutes of play is all it would take,) what’s a mama to do?

“He laid down His life for me.”

Oh, those times when the little one refuses to nap unless you lie and rest too? What on earth is a mama to do?

“He laid down His life for me…and you.”

When it’s time to do some reading instead of ‘play-time’ and great opposition occurs – only because you want the best for your child so his main job in life is not ‘picking up garbage from the curb!’ What’s a mama to do?

“He laid down His life for me and for you.”

The day that the kids are embarrassed that they have a mom at all, and remark on occasion, “Mom, are you wearing that?” or “Do we have to drive in this car?” What’s a mom to do?

“He laid down His life for me and for you.”

You’re doing your best to stay on budget and there’s plenty of food to prepare, yet the kids open the fridge and say, “There’s never anything to eat around here!” Oh, what’s a mama to do?

“He laid down His life…”

This can go on with endless examples of moments upon moments of anger and great sorrows, and temptations and pains, oh yes, and even to the point of being rejected. Oh what’s a mama to do?

To come to His table, to His ‘banqueting table’ where His banner over me is love, to come to His table that He has prepared in the presence of our enemies, to come to Him and remember that Jesus Christ laid down His life for me and for you. That’s what He’s done as an example to us mamas. He’s given us all we need. At the Table we can see His nail-pierced hands, how they still remain – just as His love…remains…

Jesus stays in the game for each one of His children. He never gives up. A ‘smoking flax He won’t quench’, No, He is always there.

It’s not a ‘one-time’ decision. It’s a moment by moment one, but the decision must be made to ‘stay in the game’, ‘keep showing up’ and those hands? Well, I think they were made for huggin’. So in the thick and the thin of it all, what do you say, mamas: shall we show up for the call? Let’s remember our Jesus, who laid it all down, and gave us His all. He speaks with such love, even though His word, at times,we neglect and He embraces us daily with His Spirit, though we’re guilty of quenching- yet, oh how those nail-pierced hands remain.

And thinkin’ on all, what’s  best for the children, though for some it is harder than for others – I do know, is to ‘love their daddy’! Now this might become a writing all in itself, but the bottom line is drawn, at least for me and perhaps now for you –

What’s a mama to do? She’s to always remember and think on this one thing: “He laid down His life…for you, and for me.”

PS. If for some reason, you aren’t sure that you can call Jesus, your own. Simply come to Him in prayer. He listens to hearts that are seeking Him. If you ask for forgiveness, He gives. If you ask Him to make you new, He does. If you desperately need His love, He loves. His name is Jesus. Do you remember the songs? “…sad hearts weep no more. He has healed the broken hearted, open wide the prison doors, He is able to deliver evermore.” Talk to Him and make Him your Savior. He’s always called you, “mine.” Now the good news, you can call Him, “Mine own as well!”

(Please let me know if you have just made Him your own! I like to think on the wonderful celebrations that take place in heaven where all the angels celebrate a new life in Christ! God will help you, moment by moment! He laid His life down for you, remember?!

“He restores my soul;” (Ps. 23:2) God doesn’t leave us in the dark…

the Master Artist IS at work, we just only see the back-side of the tapestry right now…

See God's Hand

It is amazing how, taking just a few minutes a day to read God’s word and a short devotional, how restored and refreshed and renewed I actually become. This must be why God calls the word the Living  water. It’s better than a shower after a long, ‘earth weary’ day!

C.H. Spurgeon has written words that touch my heart, today especially:

God has a motive! His thoughts are working to give you a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11).(Spurgeon, Beside Still Waters, pg. 352.), (This is the scripture that my friend Jenny wanted me to make a calligraphy of before she went into a coma.)”All things are working for good to those who love God, to those who are he called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). We see only the beginning; God sees the end from the beginning. We spell the alphabet-alpha, beta, gamma…But from…

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“I don’t get the message.”

If these are words that come from your lips, then Ask The Lord. He answers in ways supernatural! C.H. Spurgeon penned a poem, (even though in King James -style,) that paints the picture of how it’s God’s work, not ours:

“Reason’s glimmering light is vain
Till thy Spirit I receive;
He thy language must explain
He must give me to believe.

Then thy wisdom’s gift is mine
When thou dost the truth reveal;
Then I see the Lamb divine,
All the mysteries unseal.

All the seven seals he brakes,
Every truth of grace makes known;
All his children wise he makes,
But their wisdom is his own.”
(CH Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Devotional Bible).

Are we asking God? “Ask. And it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:7). That’s what the Bible says. “But it’s just not enough, Bible reading doesn’t do anything for me.” You might be convincing yourself.

Is your appetite gone for things of The Lord? Do you not feel ‘hungry’ or ‘thirsty’ for Him and His message? Ask, yes, ask Him, He will restore.

You see, when I had to actively fight a cancer growing in me, and poison was put in to kill the bad, a lot of the ‘good’ was destroyed too. I had no appetite. Just to eat anything was an effort. But I needed nourishment, whether I ‘felt’ like it or not!

I didn’t want to eat or drink- I had no appetite. But friends and family prayed for me, from all over the place, from many different churches, they ‘Asked’ , and they ‘Sought mercy’ for me from God, and they ‘Knocked’ on God’s door! And God did the work. He gave me hunger, for food and for Him.
And guess what? You might not get the message,and you might have lost your appetite for God, but you are being prayed for,by family and friend, but most importantly, by Jesus, even today:

Before Jesus had to face the agonies of the cross, He prayed to His Father. And He prayed then for us, and He prays even now: “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”(John 17:9). You might not really ‘feel’ like you are one of His, perhaps, but maybe you haven’t been asking Him to show you!

Ask Him.“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8). Ask Him to give you your appetite back! He’ll ‘explain His language.’ He will give to you ‘wisdom’s gift!’ You will ‘see the lamb divine.’ He will ‘unseal’ all the mysteries’! He will ‘make known to you every truth of Grace’. And if you don’t know if you are His child, Ask Him to receive you as one, and He cleanses and makes new! ‘Ask, seek, and knock and the door will be opened to you.’ Ask from your starving and thirsty heart, He doesn’t care about the right words!

God answers and restores. He restores appetite! How do I know? Because God did this for me. Hey, and I was weak, broken and sick- but others prayed for me- and my appetite came back! You are prayed for. Jesus Himself has prayed for you. This is ‘food for thought’ today!

There is a verse quite simple as a ‘taste’ of His message. This is a bit salty and sweet at the same time: ” Yes,I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving kindness I have drawn you.”(Jer. 31:3).

“I can’t believe that message right now in my life with all the loss and pain, ” you might be saying.
God will give you this day ‘your daily bread’. Just ask, seek and knock! The door will open to you. He will break all of the ‘seven seals’,’every truth of grace, He’ll make known.’

C.H Spurgon encourages on: “It is in the cellar of affliction that the fine wine of the kingdom is stored.”(from beside Still waters.) Don’t ever give up on God. He has a message He is ready to serve you each and every day His daily Bread. Don’t you think you might feel a little hungry now?

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Matthew 5:6).

Shall we join together in these last days to pray for the lost children of the world. Oh, how Jesus loves them so and has such wonderful nourishment of love in His word to supply our hungry souls. Praying together, “Lord Jesus, may the lost children of the world, young and old, feel their hunger and thirst and discover that it can only be satisfied in You. Draw them to You continually with Your lovingkindness. And Lord, help us to be ‘blessings’ so others can ‘taste and see’ that You Lord are good!

Words? God’s Word IS life. Robin shared with me…

The written word is one thing, God’s Word is a whole other thing entirely.

The written word can be persuasive, whether it’s truth or a lie.The written word can be a good thing, and it can be a bad thing as well. The written word can bring direction, entertainment, encouragement, and color to life here on earth, however, God’s Word IS Life. God’s Word IS Truth. There is a difference between just words, and God’s inspired Word, the Bible. God’s Word births life in a being that was…well, naturally alive, but not ‘living’.

How do I know? I give you two examples. The first, is when I had 5 small children, with the infant being ‘colic’ and crying endlessly leaving me with large amounts of ‘stress’ to say the least, I opened the Word of God and read: “This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your Word has given me life.” I have written before how I asked myself, halfway through, before finishing the verse, “What is the comfort in my affliction?” “What does the Word say?”

It doesn’t say, “This is my comfort in my affliction, in that God takes it away.” And it doesn’t say, “This is the comfort in my affliction that God lets me see the answers.” No, it doesn’t say that either.
The Word of God says, in my own summary: “This is the comfort in my affliction- God’s Word is life.”

It was then, that God began to ‘touch me’ as a Great Physician, probing and prodding in and through me, bringing ‘breath’ to my ‘out-of-breath’ life! You see, it’s ongoing. It’s not a one-time thing, it’s day by day, ‘this is the comfort in your affliction, God’s Word is life!’ But God also gave me ‘witnesses’ to His glory. Next,I will share one such witness.

I knew a young woman at the time, a mother of 4, she loved the Lord, home-taught her kids, and (she was a mentor to me).(Yes, Robin, for those who were wondering!) Well, all did not go well with her. She got cancer, then it spread to her lungs, then she didn’t get better, she only got worse-she could barely breathe, she needed oxygen… HOW CAN THIS BE? What’s wrong with this picture? A young woman with children, living for the Lord, and He allows her to get cancer? Everyone had questions…everyone except Robin, that is.

I remember her words from many years back, she said, “Toni, I know what is going on. I understand the whole thing.”
She didn’t pull out some great understanding that she had thought up in her own head, NO- she opened her Bible and began reading aloud! My friend, and mentor, who could barely breathe, started using all of her energy, to read to me! I came to visit, to be a blessing of some-sort, but this woman, (who we didn’t know on that day, only had two weeks to live), read aloud to me from her Bible. The Words took all the mystery away for her! The Words were life and she passionately wanted to share them with me.

How can I ever forget that? I write about this, and remember this often, because, there was no mystery for Robin! God had revealed everything to her, and it meant everything to her that she share it with me. Breath for her was a very difficult thing, yet at this moment in time, she took her breath and spoke His Word of life. It was as if I was enveloped for a small amount of time in the Kingdom of God and the power of the word that went out through this weak voice as she read was indescribable!

Do you want to hear the Word of life that came from Robin on this unforgettable day? A woman that had had some rough days, and bad news, and trials extreme? She read the whole of chapter 4 in 2 Corinthians, but I am only going to give you a sample at this time. Robin opened her Bible and read, “…as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.”

But you might be thinking, God didn’t answer those prayers for healing, how can that be mercy? Robin took a breath and spoke His word and told me, “I understand everything.” She understood His great mercy and love, and she had received it. So she did not lose heart, instead she turned around to give to me these words of ‘life’, so that I would not ‘lose heart’.
And Robin kept reading:

“For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6).”

What a contrast, “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness”, in that Robin was so weak and so sick, yet, “who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” – is what she set out to do! How could I forget these words? They weren’t words at all, they were all that was going on in that very moment. This was ‘life’ happening in me, from a woman who was a ‘bondservant’ to Jesus sent to suffer ‘darkness’ so that God’s light could shine through her and give God glory. Not just for that day, but for even now and all eternity. And she understood and had peace! I witnessed this and tell you today, many years later.
Robin is an inspiration to me even today. She encouraged me in the ‘light of the life’ in God’s word because she had understanding and ‘knowledge’ of the glory of God, and soon to see the face of her Jesus, she explained it all to me:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed-always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Corinthians 4 8-10).

God’s word brought life into her sick and tired spirit reminding her, yes, Jesus died, but He rose again, and she would too!

“…Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16,17).

You see, these Words are more than words. They are rich, and ‘past finding out’, they are life and light, they are treasure. We have trials today and worries, but the Bread of Life, the Word that is for yesterday, today and forever reminds us that the things which we see with our eyes everyday, the rent, the clothes, the food, the jobs- we can see all that, it’s just temporary, but the things which are not seen, like God,and His angels, and many of the special family members or friends, who are no longer here on this earth, they are eternally living – living with Jesus in heaven.

So Robin sat with me on that day, to give to me, not the other way around. She gave me what was life to her at that particular moment. She read from God’s Book, His Holy Word. They were the words that gave life to her. And she lives on in my life and many others, along with many of the saints that lived for Christ, but were taken home.

God was shining His light of truth through her darkness of sickness. And she read on, do you have ears to hear these words today? She did, even after great suffering:
“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God…”(2 Corinthians 5:9,10,11).

God’s light shone through darkness that day in incredible ways and His word, brings life, and that is what I write about. There are T-shirts that say ‘Life if good’, well, the life that we can see with our eyes is not always good, but the life that we can’t see that is hidden with Christ in God – now, THAT is good! God’s Word will help us see it every time!

Thank you Robin. Forever you inspire me, and many others,to live a life that is ‘pleasing to Him’. You are absent from us, but we rejoice because you are present with the Lord! Until we meet again…

Words that are worth reading again, 11 years later- Billy Graham, Sept. 14, 2001.

I present this speech again that was given by Billy Graham after 9/11 to a hurting and angry nation. It seems a proper time to read these powerful words today, August of 2014…

See God's Hand

Over and over again I am reminded of the power of words. After the horrific events of Sept 11, 2001, we as a Nation were numb. But I will never forget how powerful the words were that were spoken to  our Nation by Billy Graham on Sept. 14, 2001:
“We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be. The Bible says that He is “the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.”

No matter how hard we try, words cannot express the horror, the shock and the revulsion we all feel over what took place in this nation on Tues morning…

But today we come together in this service to confess our need of God. We’ve always needed God from the very beginning of this nation. But today we need Him especially. We’re…

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Perhaps the remedy is a ‘change of garments…’

Perhaps the remedy is a ‘change of garments.’ The Bible teaches that there is a ‘garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness’.(Is. 61:3). Who feels a ‘heaviness of spirit?’ Do you? Even though you have a lot to be thankful for, you still have a heaviness that seems to be carried around.

We are ‘heavy in heart’, and we don’t even know why.Even in our own country, one of the most loved comedian-actors of this day, ended his life. How can that be? Could it just be this day that we live in? He probably had the best doctors you could find, but they didn’t have the ‘remedy’ to keep him whole.

I’ve been through cancer. I know people who listened ONLY to their doctors, and they are no longer with us. I know people who didn’t listen to anything the doctor said, and only did the alternative and they are battling the disease again; but I know those who are sick and listen to the doctors, and some perhaps go an alternate route,and that might help for a time, but still there will come an end. But there are some who also have a Great Physician as well, and they listen to Him completely, and, His remedy promises to heal the ‘whole’ of all that we are.
When I read the Psalms of David in the Bible, I see a man who would have easily been labeled ‘unstable’ on many an occasion.“Save me, O God; for the waters are come up to my neck – they threaten my life. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, where the floods overwhelm me.” Psalm 69:1-2.Amplified.
I think the important part for us all to realize, is…
we all are ‘unstable’ because we are trying to live complete lives without the ‘Completer of Life!’.

But David, continues in his Psalm and gives us a glimpse of “I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched; my eyes fail with (hopefully) waiting for my God.”(Psalm 69:3).

To be ‘whole’, is more than just the mind,( or our process of thinking, our will-power) and it’s more than just the body,(our physical mechanics), it involves our spirit as well. Some of us need the medication; there is a place for that at times, but that is not the ‘whole of the healing’, it is quite evident. There is a spirit in us all, and because we have packed away hurts, and dwell on doubts, and become overwhelmed and paralyzed by fear – it doesn’t matter what the doctor prescribes, his remedies are not the ‘cure all’!

But there is a Healer. But He doesn’t promise a ‘once and for all’ kind of healing. No. He says, “Follow Me.” His healing is more ‘liquid’, it flows from moment to moment; He is the breath which breathes in and out and brings Life, continuous and never ending. You see, He, the Healer, The Great Physician,He uses words – but they are more than words – they are power, they are supernatural, that are living and active and transforming. He tells us to ‘think on these things, His word, that is.

‘Take your vitamins, take your medicine if prescribed, but chew on this as you walk on; The Healer speaks:

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me; because the LORD has anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, TO proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;..”(Is. 61:1). And there are more words, He also says:

“To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…”(Is. 61:3).

And we can watch David in his distress, cry out to God, “Rescue me out of the mire, and let me not sink; let me be delivered from those who hate me and from out of the deep waters. Let not the flood waters overflow and overwhelm me, neither let the deep swallow me up…” (Ps. 69:14). But we can witness ‘a change of garments’ even in his example. He puts on a ‘garment of praise’ and hope in God:

“But as for me, my prayer is to You, O Lord. At an acceptable and opportune time, O God, in the multitude of Your mercy and the abundance of Your loving-kindness hear me; and in the truth and faithfulness of Your salvation answer me.” (Psalm 69:13).”…I am poor and sorrowful, and in pain. Let Your salvation, O God, set me up on high. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.”

Perhaps all of this ‘trouble’ has brought about an ‘acceptable’ time! And acceptable time to be ‘whole’ in seeking the Lord! God sees the multitude, and He knows all that’s going on inside. “And He opened up His mouth, and taught them, saying, “Blessed – happy, to be envied and spiritually prosperous [that is with life-joy and satisfaction with God’s favor and salvation, regardless of their outward condition]-are the poor in spirit, (the humble, rating themselves insignificant), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven! (Matthew 5:3).

God tells us that ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit!’

Could it be, that the ‘acceptable time’ for the Lord is now, but not just a ‘once and for all’ pill or ‘fix-it drug’. No, perhaps the acceptable time for healing is now, flowing like a river kind of healing, where in the process we see a transformation occur where our ‘mourning is comforted’ with an ‘oil of joy’, where we see the ashes changed to ‘beauty’, and we take off those old clothes of despair and fear and heaviness and we courageously accept,

in this acceptable time, to put on a ‘garment of praise’! “For the Lord hears the poor and needy, and despises not His prisoners [His miserable and wounded ones]. Let Heaven and earth praise Him…!” (Psalm 69: 33,34).

This doesn’t mean we have to go skipping singing a ‘happy song’ all the day, no, this simply means that being ‘poor in spirit’, we see our need for God, and we praise Him because He is so big, and we are not, and He loves us, even in our disfunction, our anxieties, and fright, and He begins a transforming work as we leave our ‘heavy garments’ at His feet, over and over again, and in turn choose to put on garments of praise, continuously. Not just a ‘putting on’, but a ‘keep putting on’, …kind of like a river, it just flows!

Your children Lord are under attack…

This is a time to pray. This is a time to be somber…and pray. This is a time to be “asking, and seeking, and knocking.” “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name…”

“Father, Your children are under attack!”
How do we pray at times like these. There are no words, only cries for ‘mercy’ and multiplied measures of ‘grace’ Lord.
Your Word is true, and Jesus, You Yourself have said, “So I say to you ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9.

And Lord, You even go on to say, “For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Luke 11:10).
Lord, the children, young and yes, old as well, are facing enemies. They fear for their lives. God, we are ‘knocking on Your door’,we are seeking Your face, we are asking for ‘protection and mercy’, we pray for provision and ‘deliverance’ from the enemy!

The church, which are the children, young and old who believe on Your name, the sheep under the Good Shepherd pray for the lambs who are scattered throughout this world. We, the sheep of the Good Shepherd are gathering together, in prayer. “O Lord, Your word comes to mind, when we think of sheep that are scattered that then in turn become ‘food for all the beasts of the field, as Ezekiel prophesied: “So they…” (the sheep of Israel, or in other words, the children of the Most High God), were scattered… and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. “My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth…(Ezekiel 34:6.)

It seems there is no arm to save, Lord, except Yours. And Your word brings comfort Lord, for You have said Yourself:
‘For thus says the Lord GOD: “Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. “As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day.” (Ezekiel 34:11,12).

“Lord, like never before, (or perhaps during World War II), this is a ‘cloudy and dark day’. Your children, the sheep of the good Shepherd all calling out to You on behalf of Your scattered lambs.” We seek in Your word, and we find comfort, because You, Yourself have said:

“And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land; I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, in the valleys and in all the inhabited places of the country.” (Ezekiel 34:13). Lord, just as You did this for the ‘children of Israel’ in the 1940’s , Your word is alive for us today as well. We remind You of You of Your word, just as Moses did when he interceded for the ‘children of Israel’.

We intercede! Your word has said to us, “I will feed them in good pasture, and their fold shall be on the high mountains of Israel. There they shall lie down in a good fold and feed in rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I will feed My flock, and I will make them lie down,” says the Lord GOD.” (Ezekiel 34:14).

What can we do Lord, but read Your word for today and pray, and remind You of the things we have read: “I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick;

but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgement.”(Ez. 34:16).

God, Your word, Your word speaks to us today, we trust and rely on and rest on Your promises to Your children, to Your flock:
“And as for you, O My flock, thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I shall judge between the sheep and sheep, between the rams and goats.” (Ez. 34:17)… “I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; … and I will establish on shepherd over them, and he shall feed them – My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.” (Ez. 34:23).

Lord, you are gathering Your sheep, all across the world to pray. To You, our One true Shepherd. We are ‘asking’ we are ‘seeking’, and we are ‘knocking’. We hear Your voice as it speaks in Your word, and it may be for the children of Isreal, but it is for us, Your children. We hear Your word and it comforts in our time of tribulation. It is a present help to hear Your word:

“And I, the LORD will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I the LORD, have spoken.”(Ezekiel 34:24). And today, as the sheep search and knock, there is no other name, than Your Servant David, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our peace. He has broken down every wall. Your word is our comfort, Your word:
“I will make a covenant of peace with them, and cause wild beasts to cease from the land; and they will dwell safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. I will make them and the places all around My hill a blessing; and I will cause showers to come down in their season, these shall be showers of blessing.” (Ez. 34:26).

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside the still waters.He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name sake. Yea, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,

for You are with me.

Your rod and Your staff they comfort me…” Ps. 23. Lord, Your rod and Your staff, the words from the page become life and breath and hope.

We trust in You. We pray and wait: “And they shall no longer be a prey for the nations, nor shall beasts of the land devour them; but they shall dwell safely, and no one shall make them afraid.” (Ez. 34:28).

Thank You Lord for hearing our prayers, and thank You for answering them as well. We wait on You…’and no one shall make them afraid.’ “Thus they shall know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are My people,” says the Lord GOD.'” (Ez. 34:30). (!) Exclamation point, mine.

Lord, together, Your flock around the world pray, In Jesus name,
and we all say together, AMEN.”

If I only had one more day to live…

My kids sometimes get upset with me because I think about heaven a lot, and I receive great amounts of joy being with those who are so close to being in the presence of our King, encouraging them in the Word of Life and Truth and singing songs that actually make us feel like we’re in heaven already,where the streets are gold even though we’re still on this dusty soil. But, if I only had one more day to live,…

I would write a letter. Well, I would do more than that,of course,if I could – like give hugs and cry and say I love you over and over again,but I wouldn’t say “good-by”, I think “See you soon!” would work better. But, I would also write a letter. I would try to keep it very short and simple, yet in hopes to be long lasting and complex all at the same time.

And my letter would be for all the kids. Yes, my kids and so many more. My letter is for the children, even the ones that are in their 80’s. And it would say, “Turn to Jesus, now- today, every minute – because all the things in life that you are searching for…they’re all found in Him. I’m not just saying that, I’m telling the truth: They’re ALL found in Him!

Yes, continue with getting up and getting ready for school or work or nurturing young ones. Get in the car, or grab that subway, and that fast meal on the go…but,

don’t go it alone anymore. Open your eyes, and perhaps ‘turn around’ and discover, you’ve got a Friend. One who sticks closer than a brother. He goes with you, in the high and the low, “and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,” He says in Matthew 28:20. But, I have to tell you, only because I’ve learned the hard way, that if you get going a bit too fast or even seem to be going in the wrong direction, He might ‘make you to lie down.’ Oh, yes, but please, listen to this: He makes you lie down, and it’s on green pastures!

If I only had one more day to live, I would want to remind the children that if He makes you lie down, it’s on pastures of green. And He really does lead ‘beside still waters’. Trust me, I know. Do you think I would waste words? No, if I only had one more day to live, I would only write the ones that really matter!

You might not believe me though, even though I only had one more day to live. You might think, “No, I need a lot more than Jesus!”

Well, do you need a Friend? Do you need some work? We all need friends, and we all need work. Well, He speaks words like no other friend: “You did not choose Me, I chose you. And I gave you this work, to go and produce fruit,” (most likely, He’s talking about the fruit of love, you know – joy and peace, patience and kindness, goodness and gentleness, faithfulness and, last but not least, self-control!) You can still show up in your kitchen, or your garage, or your classroom or your work space or the common living space and do that,right?

“You don’t know my (fill in the blank!)”you might be saying, or,”I can’t have ‘joy’ in that situation. And there is no ‘peace’ there. And there is no way I can be ‘gentle’ with (fill in the blank!) That’s asking way too much!”
Of course it is! That’s why we need to turn to Jesus! He is all those things. He can touch your life and change you from the inside out! If I only had one more day to live, I would sing you a song you probably learned when you were two: “My God is so great, so strong and so mighty, there’s Nothing my God cannot do, for you!”

Yes, you see, Jesus, the One we should turn to because everything we need is found in Him, He said, “You did not choose Me, I chose you… I want you to produce fruit that will last.” Hey, so even if you haven’t chosen Him yet, please know – He’s chosen you. And when you finally DO choose Him, He says, “Then the Father will give you anything you ask for in my name. This is my command: Love one another.” John 15:16-17.

Do you need provision? Have you asked Jesus? He might not answer the exact way you want, but I can tell you, because if this was my last day on this earth, I would want you to know, that for that day, that specific moment in time – not two weeks ahead or on the 2-5year plan- but for this moment in time, whatever the need is, when you seek Him…He gives you grace sufficient! He does. He pours grace out and even multiplied at times, the same way you pour lemonade from a pitcher into a glass. Yes, the lemons of life, suddenly are mixed with the water of the Spirit of God and the sweet love of Jesus just gets you through that moment in time.

I know. He’s shown me all of this and more. If I only had one more day to live on this earth, I would want the children, young and old to know that He is faithful. He is a friend, He is a very present help in times of trouble, He’s PRESENT – now, here, this moment and the next. He loves.

‘Turn to Jesus’. what does that mean?

It means, talk to the One who is right by your side, right this very minute and knows everything about you, even the number of hairs you had yesterday, and grow in your relationship with Him! Read His Songs in the Psalms and His promises in Isaiah and Jeremiah, and watch Him in action in the Gospels-spend time with the One who LOVES YOU MOST!Get the whole of history in His Story! And spend some time with others that are on this ‘treasure hunt’. You will discover the most amazing treasures!

You will discover that everything you need IS found in Him, moment by moment, step by step. And one more thing,…you will find something you haven’t had for quite some time, because in following Him -instead of leading the way-you have a good view of Him, and having a good view of Jesus, you will have peace.

Isn’t that what you wanted in the first place? You will have a peace that doesn’t make sense, even though all the circumstances may stay the same. And when your heart has peace, something else returns that you might have been missing. Joy.

You will be so happy. And so will everyone else that is around you, each and every minute of each and every day!
So, let’s live this day, as if…it were our last!

( I write this 4 years after being diagnosed with cancer. As a survivor, I choose to…follow Jesus. It would bless me so much to know that perhaps my life, that God is allowing me to have today, could draw you to the One who loves you most! much love in Him, Toni Rypkema)

What made them ‘turn around?’

Jesus Himself drew near two men traveling to Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. It was the third day after traumatic events happened in Jerusalem. And they were talking about the events.

“What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?” Jesus asked them in Luke 24:17.

Well, the Bible lets us know the name of one of the men, Cleopas,however, it also informs us that their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. Cleopas then goes on to ask Jesus, (in my paraphrase words,) “Are You from another planet? Don’t you know what’s been going on? Where have You been? Don’t You know the things that are going on?”

At times, don’t we treat God like this as well.Especially when things don’t go the way we thought they should. Maybe Cleopas’s name is mentioned because we are Cleopas.Sometimes, for some reason our eyes are ‘restrained’ and we don’t ‘know Him.
Cleopas was sad about the events, depressed about what was going on, losing heart and losing hope. “Where have You been?” We yell at God, because things didn’t go the way we were hoping, and then we separate ourselves from Him,losing faith, or like these men, leave Jerusalem.

Jesus asks, “What things?” Luke 24:19.

Cleopas answers, …“we were hoping that …Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people…was going to redeem Israel… (but the) ‘chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him…Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.” Luke 24:19-24.

And that is the story we hear so very often. Maybe you feel like you have ‘tried’ religion and it didn’t work. So you are walking away from Jerusalem so to speak to Emmaus. I am so happy for the story because ‘Jesus Himself drew near them!‘ They were upset about the current events and anxious about the future, and ‘their eyes were restrained so they did not know Him.’

“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” Luke 24:27.

Do you see this? They are talking with Jesus- Prayer, and they are listening to Him expound the Scriptures -reading His word, but they didn’t see Him…

until,
“Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them.”
Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him…”
Luke 24:30,31.

Cleopas and his friends eyes were opened and they knew Him when He took the bread…

Maybe you have never taken Communion, or perhaps you take it every week, but maybe you have never made it personal, just you and Jesus. Break the bread, and hear the break, chew and know He loves you, even if you mess up over and over again. If you think you just can’t handle things the way they are and your problems abound…
break the bread and know Him.

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”Isaiah 53:5.

And the cup? The blood will wash away your stain of sin.
Revelation 1:5, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”

The end of the story?
“So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,
saying,

“The Lord is risen indeed…!”

They returned to Jerusalem, because now they knew the Lord!

He himself has said,
“Do this in remembrance of Me.”
And now we can see why.Their eyes weren’t opened…until they did just that!

The Lord has been collecting your tears…

“You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:8.

Thinking about tears, and children, and thinking about… God. God, we are to call You, “Father. You actually want us to think of You as ‘Abba’, Daddy,…a Parent. This helps Lord, because as a parent, there is one thing that I have learned in having babies-

they cry lots of tears, they grow into to toddlers, which in turn grow into rambunctious ‘kids’ and a bit ‘feisty’ as well, which in turn grow from children to young adults,and in between all that, there are hurts and pains which bring tears, and even crisis and loss, and this brings even more tears.Then the children grow, and become smart and strong and just need to find things out for themselves, which can also mean taking a wrong turn, or going down a dark alley- this can get messy, there is no control at times,and there are tears in all of that too, but God…
We are to call you “Father” and even the first of your creation called ‘man’, Adam – even he messed things up, and to think, he even had real ‘morning walks’ with You! But God…

You met with Adam after the great fall, (that brought it all down, actually, for us all, which means we all cry tears because of our fallen nature); and You met with Eve too. But God,… even from the beginning, You let them know, that there is forgiveness with You. Even then, and there You proclaimed a future victory on the cross, even though they didn’t understand. You are the Father, they were Your children. You forgive, and not only that, You provided The Way, and took off the itchy and difficult coverings, and You clothed and covered their nakedness with ‘Lamb’s skin’.

I don’t think, that before You clothed them You said, “OK, now, say the right words.” or “Do these particular things…” No, in the account in Genesis, we are left to read and ponder that it is true, Adam and Even in their fear and their shame simply hid, but You…
You called out their name.Yes, and they did answer back; and humorous it is, that for all the world to read, we see the children of God put ‘blame’ on the other! Then You simply spoke, the Word of God in truth, right there in the beginning, if we only read to page 3, we’ve go the whole of the ‘message’ in Gen. 3:15.

(Talking to the serpent), the voice of the Lord was heard, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise and tread your head under foot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.” And even though this verse is not understood at first glance, it’s there instead of a rebuke from the Lord, or “why did you do that?” or “what were you thinking?” Instead, dear Father, You gave us The Way.
Lord,’Father God’ as You would have it to be, it is plain to see, that your children listened to Your words,they received Your coverings. Even then, You wiped away their tears. It’s all about You, Lord, it’s all about You…You provided The Way, they simply received.

So, ‘Father God’, as a wandering child, is it really true that You ‘number and record’ all my wanderings? And You see all my tears, even though I’ve brought some of them on myself, and You not only see me cry, but You collect each tear and put them in Your bottle? Do You really have a book, that You know my whole story? Do You really care that much Lord, could it really be true? Sometimes, Your children cannot even believe such things.

Father God, it is the case! You love Your ‘messy-at-times’ children. You – love – me. I choose to receive. Cover me in Your Love.Your Love of the’Lamb’s skin’, the sweet sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus on the cross. He only is the reason I can pray: ‘Be merciful and gracious to me, O God,’ (Ps. 56:1).’By [the help of] God I will praise His word…
because, “I am my Beloved’s and He is mine. His banner over me,…”(Song of Sol.2:4), His covering over me…
is love. So Please, Dear Children, please know…the Father loves you. He has provided all you need in His Son. Believe and Receive the provision and rest He so lovingly offers. He knows your name, and yes, He’s collected all those tears.