I just want say…

“Jesus, I owe my life to You. You are So gracious, So loving, So compassionate always. Even when I ‘kick You in the shins’ with my prayers sometimes, not understanding what’s going on. You always love me. You held my hand through the cancer battle, wait a minute, I couldn’t even reach out my hand to You- no- You carried me through my cancer battle and You taught me how to sing again in the rain. I love You Jesus. This is the last day of a long, sometimes very hard year, but You never failed me ever. I live for You, and I pray You help me be even a bit as faithful as You are to love and forgive and grant mercy and hope!
With all my heart, this is my letter to You, your child.

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But ‘weep no more’ the Lord says…

Just as there are two sides to every coin, there are two sides to every story – especially, the Christmas Story! The angels sang in the heavens above: “Peace on earth, good will to men.”(Luke 2:14).  Yet out of the mouth of the ‘Prince of Peace’ Himself years later were the words: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth…” (Matthew 10:34).

In all honesty, every human being deep down can agree with the Lord’s words: “I did not come to bring peace but a sword. “For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.’ And a man’s foes will be those of his own household.”(Matthew 10: 34-36).

Many a parent understands these words, and many a daughter, and many a son who has made room in their lives and their heart for Him. When one finally can see that He is who He says He is, and makes the choice to ‘follow after Him’ –  oh yes, they know all about the sword.

And we can all agree that even our ‘flesh’ cries out and screams when the choice is made to be ‘lead in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake’. It’s hard to ‘die to self’! There’s a lot of screaming that goes on inside when we finally decide to control our tongue, or control our appetites, to make the choice to be merciful, to choose to give someone ‘grace’ even though they don’t deserve it! Don’t we all understand the ‘sword’ that Jesus is talking about? “I did not come to bring peace but a sword…”

Crazy – but this is consistent even with the Christmas Story! Yes, the angels sang their song of peace, but King Herod was ‘exceedingly wroth’ (KJV) about a new King of the Jews, and the death of Him was his plan! The Prince of peace was born and now comes a sword: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according tot he time which he had determined from the wise men. (Matthew 2:16, NKJV).

There was much weeping: “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, because they were no more.” (Jer. 31:15).

And for this reason, the lack of peace, many don’t believe in the Prince of Peace. Christmas comes, and Christmas goes, but for many…life brings a sword. What can be said of all of this?

The Prince of Peace has spoken. He brings words of comfort. You’ve got to look at both sides of the coin! You’ve got to see both sides of the story! Jesus Himself has told us: “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

We suffer the sword, we suffer trouble- yes, even after receiving the Prince of Peace in our hearts and in our lives – But there is a big difference ‘in Him!’ He doesn’t leave us ‘orphans’, He doesn’t leave us at all! In fact He draws ever near as we draw near to Him. We don’t have a monologue with God, no, He speaks plain and simple, (OK, not always easy to take, but plain and simple nonetheless,) in a dialogue: “Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…” (John 15:20). But weep no more…

“Why shouldn’t I weep? This is not good news like I thought? What else do we do with a theme like: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children…”etc, etc? That’s why I don’t read the Bible. There is no peace on earth!” These might be your very thoughts – BUT THUS SAITH THE LORD! Hear this, don’t grow weary, don’t rely on your own understanding, hear the word of the LORD:

“Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD, And they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the LORD, That your children shall come back to their own border.” (Jer. 31:16,17).

Thus saith the LORD: “Stop your crying! Don’t let the tears fall anymore. Yes, I say with My own voice, “Your work will be rewarded.” Can you hear Me speak words of peace to you? Be of good cheer, I have overcome.” (The words of God in my paraphrase).“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” Thus saith the Lord, Jesus, no paraphrase, clear and simple, John 14:1.

The other side of the coin, the other side of the story, bears repeating: “Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the LORD…”(Jer. 31:16).  “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me!” (John 14:1), exclamation point, mine!) With each new day, may we make the choice to ‘believe also in Him!’

Do I hear an “AMEN?”

Trying to piece it all together…

Remembering when I was young, how I loved to sit in a rocking chair, all padded and cozy, and listen to music that my mom played on the record player! There’s an old Burt Bacherach song that comes to mind, now and again: “What’s it all about, Alfie?” “Is it just for the moment we live?” The song was written for a movie way back when in the 60’s called ‘Alfie’. The words come to mind: “What’s it all about, when you sort it out, Alfie?” “Are we meant to take more than we give? Or are we meant to be kind?” “And if only fools are kind, Alfie, then I guess it’s wise to be cruel.” “And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie, What will you lend on an old golden rule…”

This was a long time ago, when I would ponder the question, “What’s it all about?” And to tell you honestly, I didn’t even know what the ‘golden rule’ was. But it was in that rocking chair , as a young girl, that I also sat and listened to the soundtrack ‘A Chorus Line’ from the Broadway musical after my parents had made a NYC trip so many years ago.

Do you know that just listening to that soundtrack propelled a lot of  the direction for  my every waking breath and motivation for years to come? Dance classes, vocal lessons…and ultimately forgoing a college education and auditioning for school at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I didn’t know anything really about God, but I so ‘believed’ in Him. Somehow, God used His ‘sky’ to keep drawing me. Literally, His sky! I would look at the amazing beauty of the sky, the clouds, the brightness of the blue, the stars at night…for me, the ‘heavens declared the glory of God’ to me. But I would look into that vast blue and ask, “What’s it all about?” And the song continues… (the Alfie song), “As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie, I know there’s something much more, Something even non-believers can believe in, I believe in love,..”

Crazy, but of all songs that I continually worked on through school, it was “What I did for love” from ‘A Chorus Line’. Yes, that was my audition song. Imagine, this was the song I sang over and over again:  “Kiss today good-by, the sweetness and the sorrow. We did what we had to do. But I can’t regret, What I did for love, what I did for love…” and it builds in the chorus: Gone,
Love is never gone. As we travel on…Love’s what we’ll remember… “Kiss today good-by, And point me toward tomorrow. We did what we had to do. Won’t forget, can’t regret, What I did for love… what I did for love.

So, today, I’m piecing it all together, just for myself …

So, I came to know Love. After struggling so long in my own skin with an eating disorder and amazing insecurity problems, (oh the mess we can be on the inside, even though the outside looks like everything is in order!) I gave God my life, I grew to know His Son whom He had sent, and He gave me so,so,so much life back. He gave me a husband, He gave me a child, then He gave me children,

then He gave me His comfort in His word, He gave me His direction when I needed it, He gave me His strength in my greatest times of weakness,

and He gave me His presence in my greatest times of fear, He gave me His love and assurance when my whole world came crashing down, He gave me hope when there seemed to be no hope, He gave me friends to adore Him with,

He gave me the piece to the puzzle, one piece at a time…

“What’s it all about? when you sort it out?…well, for me, it’s about my Love. And I will fail Him often, but He is faithful still. My righteousness has nothing to do with my messed up flesh, it’s about my faith in Him! That’s what it’s all about, Alfie…

And everything I did  and ‘do’ for Love – for my husband to ‘ love and to cherish, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer,’till death do us part’;

for my children to ‘bear all things, to believe all things, (the best in them always), to hope all things’ for them in Christ, who is Love (and loves them even more than their mama does), and to endure all things (with them) and believe always and teach them always ’till my last breath, that…God’s love never fails. (1 Cor. 13).

What’s it all about? Is it just for the moment we live? No, moments come and go…but God, He is love. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the One who has gone before, and gave Himself for us. What’s it all about?

It’s about believing that God is who He says He is! So, I looked up that old song, ‘Alfie’ and guess what it says: I believe in love, Alfie, Without true love we just exist, Alfie. Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie.

I believe in Love. There is none like God’s love. None in all the world.

 I believe and today?…well, “Kiss today good-bye, the sweetness and the sorrow…and I won’t regret what I did for Love,What I did for Love.”And I won’t regret anything I give to the One who loves me most. Putting Him First, I lose nothing at all. Death to myself to love my husband and my kids is impossible for me, but with Him all things are possible!

Today Lord, I want to give you it all, (and there is a lot of ‘self’ in that!). For this New Year Lord, I trust You, fill me, fill me with Your LOVE. I so lack love, Lord! God, in the end, You will piece it all together, if I just remember what it’s all about:“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”(1Cor. 13:13).

 

“It’s all about the children”, he used to say… remembering Pastor Gary today…

A new year is coming and I take time to remember a person God used in my life to ‘lead by example’. Christmas is for the children, all the children of the world. Christmas is God’s invitation into His fold, into His family. Thanking Him for earthly servants who love much like Him!

See God's Hand

Reposting something I wrote soon after my brother in the Lord went home to be with his Jesus…Have you ever thought, “We are all God’s children. We are all humans and God created us, therefore, we are all God’s children.”Have you ever wondered, “What if what I think is not true? What then?” “Who are God’s children then?”

Well, this weekend there is going to be a memorial service for one of God’s children. So many people are sad because a most loving, gentle, and genuine man is no longer here on earth, but it is really going to be a Celebration Service, because God’s child, who was just passing through, was called home. You might ask, “How do you know he was God’s child? Can you REALLY know?”

Yes, we CAN really know! It is at a time like this that each of us needs to seriously ask ourselves, “Is…

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Today, Jesus is King

Happy Birthday to the King. Happy Birthday to the One who reigns. You are King of my heart, O Lord. You are King of my heart!

Today You are King, on Your special day that the angels did say to all of mankind, blessing and goodwill and peace You give…
I choose to receive Your love, Your great love. I choose today, a-new in my heart to receive all that You have for me- right now My God, a-new THIS day.
Jesus, You reign, You are King over all. And blessings abound to those who acknowledge this truth that’s been given from time and again, prisoners are set free from the chains of great sin, and the weary find rest for their fretful souls when they call out Your Name which is higher than all!

You are King today, today I will choose, even in want and in great pain and great loss, even in all that – I choose to trust You.

I love You my King, keep me close by Your side. Help me to trust. Help me abide. I will rejoice today with many others, and I pray that as the sun rises tomorrow, I’m in this same place- singing Your praises and exalting Your name.

I love You Lord Jesus. To You I do bring, the gift of my heart, please keep it my King, because it’s prone to wander so far . Please keep it and help me to follow You true.

strong>”For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11).

A gift? The victory we have ‘in Him!’

I am reposting something I wrote awhile back, but it speaks encouragement to me in the midst of what feels like a ‘tug of war!’ But the beauty of it all, is victory is possible with God!
manna for the moments of ‘tug of war’…
by tonirypkema

Tug of war? Yes! It is going on every minute in our hearts and minds. And the sad part is, ‘out of the abundance of our heart, the mouth speaks’,(Matthew 12:34.)

You and I both know all about this. We all have an ‘old nature’ that we were born with, much like a ‘roaring tiger’ that often times ‘gets out of its cage!’ This nature is known in the Bible as the ‘flesh’. “But whenever a person turns (in repentance) to the Lord the veil is stripped off and taken away.” 2 Cor. 3:16. Something new happens when we receive the Lord, we ‘see’ the power for the ‘new nature’ of God. And we see that we don’t HAVE TO let the ‘ol tiger’ out of the cage -but still, oftentimes, it does!

God gives us provision to lock that ‘ol roaring beast’ (or otherwise, the flesh) in a cage, so to speak – but He doesn’t take that ‘ol nature’ away! My only comment to this, is…’Lions and tigers and bears remain in us…

“oh my!”

Well, the provision is NOT good works. We can know that because in John chapter 3, a man who was ‘very good’ by human standards came to Jesus at night with questions, and Jesus Himself instructed him, (Amplified version), “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see – know, be acquainted with [and experience] – the kingdom of God. (John 3:3).

God doesn’t look at our ‘good works’ the way we think He does. The Scriptures are quite clear about this: “…our best deeds or rightness and justice – are as filthy rags or a polluted garment.” (Is. 64:6).

Jesus tells us quite simply, the ‘good work’ that we must do in the eyes of God,”This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” (John 6:29).

“But, how does this put that ‘ol roaring beast behind bars and locked up?” you and I ask. Even after believing in Jesus, there is a tug of war…

“For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the (Holy) Spirit, and the [desires of the ]Spirit are opposed to the flesh, (that human nature without God,) for these are antagonistic to each other…” Gal. 5:17. That ‘ol beast seems to keep clawing his way out?

BUT GOD gives us provision,“But clothe yourself with the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and make no provision for [indulging] the flesh – put a stop to thinking about the evil cravings of your physical nature – to [gratify its] desires (lusts). (Romans 13:14. Amplified.)

And God even provides more insight to victory, “But I say, walk and live habitually in the (Holy) Spirit – responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh – of human nature without God. (Gal. 5:16, Amplified).

The provision is there. We simply need to HALT and seek first the Kingdom of God. We need to bow our hearts to the Lord and pray, “Father ‘lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil, for Yours IS the Kingdom and the power and the glory, forever'(Matthew 6:13). ‘Your love never fails'(1 Corinthians 13:8). And a ‘bruised reed You will not break and a smoking flax You will not quench'(Matthew 12:20). ‘Help me!’ (Psalm 119:86). Yes, we give thanks to You Lord, because You never give up on us, never, even when we have given up on ourselves. Our hope is always in You. Looking to You IS our victory! In Jesus name, Amen.”

We forget! We forget this, we forget that… but He will never forget you.

This is a time when we hear, the ‘Prince of Peace’ has come into the world. But we say, “Where is the peace?” Surely God has forgotten! Families looking for work, individuals struggling through pain and sleepless nights, our persecuted brothers and sisters held in prisons, children being murdered…Surely, it seems, that God has forgotten.

We cry as the psalmist: “How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever?” (Ps. 13:1).

This is what the Word of God tells us. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”(Hebrews 11:1).
By all appearances, it looks like the Lord has forgotten. We forget so many things…“Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget…”(Is. 49:15 reminds us). “Yet, I will not forget you.” (Is. 49:16).

The heart of God speaks to those who will hear. ‘Look up my child, hear My words. “I will not forget you.” (Is. 49:16).
My ‘nail-pierced hand is reaching out to you. Take hold of My hand, I will walk this thorny earth with you. Yes, my hand is scarred, but it’s healed.

Take hold of My hand, take a look in My face. My countenance is not hard and cold as you imagine, it is compassionate and full of grace. The scars and the pain that this cold world has brought, will be healed, as mine are. I am the Lord who heals, I Am the God who saves. I am not far from you, as you also imagine, I am near, as the child’s song asks,

“Be near me Lord Jesus, I ask Thee to stay, close by me forever, and love me I pray…”

I AM, I AM, I AM My dear child. It is sin that separates you from God. This is a fallen world my child, but I have prayed for you. I have prayed to the Father, “I do not pray that You should take them out of this world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”(John 17:15-17).
This world, this world, this fallen world! “For all have sinned.”(rom. 3:23)
But, it is written:”The Lord saw it,…that there was no justice. He saw there was no man, And wondered that there was no intercessor; Therefore…

“His own arm brought salvation for Him; and His own righteousness, it sustained Him…”(Is. 59:16).

“I will not forget you!” “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold , the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you…”(Is. 60:1,2).

‘My dear child, take My hand and walk, I will lead you in ‘paths of righteousness for My names same. I will make “every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth…”(Is. 40:4).Behold the LORD GOD shall come with a strong hand…”(Is. 49:10).
‘You might forget many things in your lifetime, but don’t ever forget that I will never forget you and that I love you so much!’ Merry Christmas, Jesus

“But God didn’t heal.” Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death…”

Many, many of us have lost family, friends, loved ones. It is difficult at Christmas…finding Comfort, for our Comforter reminds us what’s true:

See God's Hand

“How could she have died?”
“How come he is gone?”

The storms of life come in – mighty, and powerful winds blow hard.

You and I pray to the One who is able to calm the seas –
but the storm continues on.

We remember His words,
“In this world you will have tribulation,
but be of good cheer,
I have overcome the world.”

“Why didn’t He bring her safely back to port? I believed in my heart that He would heal.”
These words are similar to Martha’s words to Jesus about her brother, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Can you hear the Father’s heart?

“This life I have chosen to be a trophy of My grace.”
“I raise this life – that others might see – Me.”

We, so much want to put this all together, to make sense of it all…

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Some POWERFUL Christmas fun!

OK,I feel as a worship leader, ( well, to my own little world,) I am going to make the effort to get the world to sing a new song with a powerful flow.

Most of us are very familiar with the melody of the traditional Christmas hymn, “Hark the Harald Angels Sing” written around 1739 by Charles Wesley. But today, try singing the words to the Wesley hymn “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”
to his ‘Hark the Harald Angels’ melody! Really! It is quite remarkable!

I tell you, if the lights are not shining bright this Christmas, this will bring the Christmas joy to any ‘ba-humbug’ heart! Jesus came to earth for each of us to…die for our sins and failures. But He didn’t stay in the grave! Sing with me a ‘new-old, switched around song: (remember to Hark the Harold melody),

“Christ the Lord is risen today, sons of men and angels say, “Raise your joys and triupmphs high, Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply.” “Lives again our glorious King, Where, O death, is now thy sting? Dying once He all doth save, Where thy victory, O,O, grave? Alleluia, Allelu….Glory to our Savior King!”

“Love’s redeeming work is done Fought the fight, the battle won! Death in vain forbids Him rise, Christ hath opened Paradise! Soar we now where Christ has led, Following our exalted Head, Made like Him, like Him we rise, Ours the cross, the grave, the skies…
Hark the Harold Angels sing, “Alleluia, Christ our King!”

(OK, I took some liberties at the end to make it flow!)The baby came to die and to rise again! He is ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2),
He is the one ‘who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ (Hebrews 12:2).

This is how we can sing, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth prepare receive her King!”
Yes, every heart needs to be prepared to ‘make Him room’. He is our victory. ‘Where, O death, is now thy sting, Dying once He all doth save, Where thy victory, O grave? Aaaaaleluia!

Christmas is a time to be encouraged in the light. The light of God has come into the world – to remind us what is true,(because there is one who lies and ‘steals,kills, and destroys’ roaming about to see whom he can devour), “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”(Romans 8:37).
“Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. (!)(Romans 8:34, exclamation point, mine).

Joy has come into the world, He makes intercession for us, and He has come to earth to die on the cross and to rise again and because of all of this, we can ‘be persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38,39).

Now we can rejoice and be exceedingly glad just like the shepherds that cold starry night, “A-a-a-a-a-le-lu-u-iah!”

“Strugglin’ to see the light this Christmas?

“O soul are you weary and troubled. No light in the darkness you see. There’s a light for a look at the Savior and life more abundant and free.”(Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus).

There’s a light for a look at the Savior when our souls are weary and troubled.Can you see Jesus praying for you? He’s praying for you and He’s praying for me, even today.

(John 17:1) JESUS spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You,”
Basically what He says, “Father, glorify Me that I might glorify You. Even if it means that my hands and my feet are nailed to the cross. I surrender, be glorified.” I can’t help but think of His words, “Not My will, but Yours be done.”

Sometimes, I just don’t know what those words mean.

The hymns speaks understandingly well: “O soul are you weary and troubled, no light in the darkness to see? There’s a light…
And at times, we ask “where’s the light?”

BUT ‘there’s a light for a look at the Savior,Jesus prayed for us, He’s covered us in His prayer:’,(John 17:6)”I have manifested Your Name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world.” Jesus didn’t just ‘talk’ about the Father, He was God’s feet to His disciples -he loved, he wept, He healed, He forgave sin, He resurrected the dead…He was compassionate, and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy, He was God in the flesh.

Let the prayer that Jesus prayed for you and for me enlighten your darkness: (John 17:11)
“Holy Father, keep through thine own Name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one, as We are. And Jesus prayed for “them also which shall believe on Me through their word,”(John 17:20,21).
“That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

Jesus prays for us today. He prayed that we be ‘kept’ through the power of His name. He prayed for us then, and it’s recorded so we can see. It’s a light to know He sees.

“There’s a light for a look at the Savior…So Turn Your eyes upon Jesus…and the things of earth will grow strangely dim…”So the lights go up at Christmas time. How we need to see those lights. And in the midst of it all and all the hoho’s and the stress of the holidays, there’s a light…that reminds me that my Jesus, He prays for us.

He takes our broken, imperfect lives and give us one heart and mind for Him. Strangely dim all the ‘earthly stuff’ becomes, as we struggle to focus on Him.
So as the lights go up at Christmas time. How we need to look at those lights. And in the midst of it all and all the hoho’s and the stress of the holidays, may the lights help us focus on the truth that He prays for us.

Look at the lights and keep seeking, keep knocking, keep asking. Remember what’s truth, that our Immanuel hears. He is here. “You shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32). Today, this truth is seen in the light, that Jesus is praying for you and me. His love never fails.

C.H. Spurgeon encourages: “My dear believer, you must totally trust the Lord in everything concerning everything. “Trust in Him at all times” (Ps. 62:8). Trust in the shadow of His wings (Ps. 91:4). Trust in the light of His countenance (Rev. 1:16).”  (C.H. Spurgeon, Beside Still waters).

“The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, and give yo peace.” (Numbers 6:26).
“O Come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the LORD!”