To ‘be fruitful and multiply’ has a whole new meaning now, Jose Rivera!

Jose forever lives …

Have you recently lost a love who was a lover of Christ?

I’m not sure our finite brains can even come close to comprehending eternal life, but we try to visualize streets of gold, and sapphires and pearls, and harmonious praise, and mansions built next door to our loved one’s gone home. Time to fellowship with David and Moses, and ask Jonah what it was like to be in the belly of the whale –

Oh, we love to imagine what it’s like. So we pray, “...Your kingdom come, Your will be done,

on earth,

as it is in heaven.” (The Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:5-13).

God answered so many of my questions yesterday at a ‘Celebration of Life Service’ for a man of God, Jose Rivera. You might know him, you might not – but you most likely know a man or woman of God who ‘walked the talk.’

Everyone gathered in the honor of this man, and gave thanks to God for all that He worked inside of him. Words were shared: Crazy. The life of the party. Compassionate. No one was a stranger. Forgiving and forgiving again, with a vision of hope that never ends. Believing the best. A smile that never quit.

As each person shared from their heart how they were helped and they were changed – by this man who chose to walk, in the way that Jesus did.

The glory of the Lord shone, the testimonies were given:  Hard stoney hearts were turned into to flesh. Doubtful minds believed in themselves because he lived a life choosing to be – like his Jesus.

He was ‘fruitful’ in his life, and crazy, amazing to me – I saw that he multiplied himself that very hour!

Each person that came that day was inspired to be ‘just like this man!’ “I want to be like Jose,” was the thought of each person that left.

God had a plan, and He blessed him, Jose, with His Spirit,  “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” (Gen. 1:28).

That’s it …

God had a set of days numbered for him, and he obeyed and he lived them according to His plan. And, Jesus from heaven looked down to earth, and said, “Jose, it’s time. You have done an excellent job. My good and faithful servant, come home now to Me.”

So on that day, in that hour of expression, each person in that house said, “I want to be like him.”

And Jesus and Jose were watching from heaven, rejoicing in salvation and hearts desiring joy …

“Well done my faithful servant, you have been fruitful, and now, you will multiply!”

To God be the glory, great things He hath done,
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life our redemption to win,
And opened the life-gate that all may go in.
  Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
  Let the earth hear His voice;
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
  Let the people rejoice;
Oh, come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
  And give Him the glory; great things He hath done. 

“Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you…”

The news I will focus on today? “Draw near to God and He’ll draw near to you.” Now, that is the good news that I will center myself on today. How about you? Do you need some good news to focus on? Of course you do!

See God's Hand

I have to say, that for many, when ‘the cold north wind’ blows upon our lives leaving us cold and feeling distant from God, the truth is,

no matter what, if we ‘draw near to God, He will draw near to us.’ (James 4:8).

Even when we cannot see any relief in sight and don’t really know what God is doing,  if we draw near to God in a heartfelt abandon, He draws near.

How do I know? Because, he has blessed me with a cold north wind that has allowed me to grow closer to Jesus like never before. And he has put brothers and sisters in my path that are being blown violently by a cold north wind,

but they are continually drawing near to God, and He IS showing Himself faithful each and every moment.

This makes me think of the words that Jesus spoke to…

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the ‘lost but found’ song .

“Jesus loves me this I …

… I don’t know. I don’t know that He loves me anymore.

I let the world whirl me into believing that He wasn’t worth knowing. That I could do it on my own. That God didn’t matter. That ‘He’ wasn’t there. Ultimately, believing He didn’t care.

I believed the words that people shared. This culture has caused me to walk elsewhere.

But like roaring seas surrounding me. The screech of city sounds abounding. Anxious thoughts, and restlessness, made my pillow spin, endlessly, loudly.

“Jesus.” I call. Not in curse but desperation. Can You hear my voice? It’s solo. no congregation.

Just me … It’s only me.

“Did you turn and call My name? Look to Me and not your misery. Hand Me your griefs and your pains and all your stains. I am not the accuser. I will not bring shame.

“I Am the God Who hears.  I will answer, call me continually. I AM the God Who sees.

Do you choose to believe?

Turning to Me, is like a seed in the ground, dying. Your crying out my name offers new life, it’s true. O, … how I’ve been waiting – I’ve waited for you.

About the shame? I’ve taken it all. Your crimson stain washed white as snow. Call to Me. I will answer and show you great and mighty things …

you do not know.

Yes, I will do exceedingly abundantly, just as a seed in the ground, that dies, but then sprouts and makes glorious beauty.

I will give you back a simple melody. Look up, not out Turn to Me, not away.  We’ll soon be singing together … Love’s harmony.

I love you forever. I love you right now. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!”

 

“You should write a book.”

“You should write a book.”

It’s funny, but when you think about it, people don’t say that because the road has been smooth and  the seas slick for sailing.

No, they say, “You should write a book,” because of great conflict and struggle. Because what was impossible has become realized.

When sailing the seas and a ‘furious squall’ erupts and the ‘waves break over the boat, so that is was nearly swamped’ (Mark 4:37),  but God’s Hand held you somehow.

God’s words, “Peace be Still” were heard in the depth of the soul, and the strength to persevere took hold. Circumstances didn’t ‘immediately’ change as the Bible story told, but there was hope that brought light to the darkness so deep.

Walking through thorns, hurting and bleeding. But God reaches out His Hand, with a hanky to catch every tear.

This is why one would say, “You should write a book.” How we long for the stories that inspire and bring hope.

So I write not to bring impressive focus on me, but that in this world of great confusion and ‘truth’ I might bring focus on the Person who is our Peace. That I might share the stories, one at a time, of His hands that saved me and saves me still.

He shows me His Hands –  in my sickness and sorrow. In my losses and trials. He shows me His Hands in other’s stories, past and present. And He says,

‘Write in a book, for yourself,’ (Jeremiah 3o:2), but perhaps for others too, ‘the things I have shown you.’

So I will write each day for God’s glory, that we all might discover that we’re all part of His wonderful Story. Seeking life, and light, and truth, and frighteningly discovering …

He’s in our boat. Life is a person. Truth has a Hand. Light is given.

This is the book that is being written.

Would you like to write a book too? I say, “Yes! Let’s write it today, publishing God’s great faithfulness and glory!”

Mark 4:35-41:  “That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

 

 

 

Planted by Streams of Water – a forward by Jared Rypkema

It was August 23, 2012, almost 4 years ago. I was a daughter. I was a sister. I was a wife. I was a mom. But one day, (before I became a wife and a mom), my view of the world was washed away before my very eyes, and all that was left, was the sky and the Son. It was that very day, that my life really had begun. I didn’t know who I was anymore, but one thing was sure – I was a child of God. So long story short, many, many, years later after being educated in the school of life, I asked my son to help me get started. He set me up with this wordpress blog and he kicked it all off with this love-felt letter:

See God's Hand

“He [the blessed man] is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he prospers.”  -psalm 1:3

If there was ever a time a son could say, “my mom is the greatest woman I know,” this is it.  It may have taken me years to get out of my teens and realize it, but I have.

I’m so glad you’re here.

My mom would never write this post herself, so this is my forward and my encouragement to the woman who has meant the world to me, my father, and every one of my 10 brothers and sisters.

This passage in Psalms is one of her favorites.  I’m pretty sure I was five the first time she had us memorize the whole thing.  And when I sat down to write this first…

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July 20, 2013. Another star has been added to my heavens.

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July 20, 2013. Another star has been added to my  heavens. You see, I have written before about the stars that are in my sky, they are stars that shine like a ‘cloud of witnesses that surround me’ and they speak. Oh, yes, their voice still speaks!

I have heard it said, “We glorify the Lord when we endure trials in a heroic way.” The stars in my sky did just that. And each of the stars in my sky are heroes. And each had their own individual ‘song of deliverance’ but ultimately the words of their song was, “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Neh 8:10.

Yes, I can clearly see from their witness that surrounds me that ‘if we sow in hope, we will reap in joy.’

We all know that when it is darkest, the stars shine the brightest. And the stars tell of the…

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Read aloud. Today, right now. Be changed. Let faith flood in …

God speaks.

Read aloud His words.

Let the sound resonate deep.

Let God’s word wake us from our sleep. And for those who are awake, yet stricken with fear,

read aloud God’s word and hear: 

God the Judge of the Righteous and the Wicked. A Psalm of Asaph

Psalm 50. “The mighty One, God, the Lord, has spoken,
And summoned the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting [from east to west].

Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God has shone forth.

May our God come and not keep silent;
Fire devours before Him,
And around Him a mighty tempest rages.

He summons the heavens above,
And the earth, to judge His people:

“Gather My godly ones to Me,
Those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.”

And the heavens declare His righteousness,
For God Himself is judge. Selah.


“Hear, O My people, and I will speak;
O Israel, I will testify against you:
I am God, your God.

“I do not reprove you for your sacrifices;
Your burnt offerings are continually before Me.

“I will accept no young bull from your house
Nor male goat from your folds.
10 
“For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 
“I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is [b]Mine.
12 
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you,
For the world and all it contains are Mine.
13 
“Shall I eat the flesh of bulls
Or drink the blood of male goats?
14 
“Offer to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving
And pay your vows to the Most High;
15 
Call on Me in the day of trouble;
I will rescue you, and you shall honor and glorify Me.”

16 
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to recite My statutes
Or to take My covenant on your lips?
17 
“For you hate instruction and discipline
And cast My words behind you [discarding them].
18 
“When you see a thief, you are pleased with him and condone his behavior,
And you associate with adulterers.
19 
“You give your mouth to evil
And your tongue frames deceit.
20 
“You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.
21 
“These things you have done and I kept silent;
You thought that I was just like you.
Now I will reprimand and denounce you and state the case in order before your eyes.

22 
“Now consider this, you who forget God,
Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be no one to rescue [you].
23 
“He who offers a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving honors Me;
And to him who orders his way rightly [who follows the way that I show him],
I shall show the salvation of God.”

These are the words of Psalm 50, Amplified. 

This is the heart and opinion of God.
God’s word is truth.
Do we believe, or leave? . . .
I will choose God. I stand with Him, fearless, with courage, because He is faithful and just. Because He shows salvation to us.
He gave us His Son.
What will you do?
“Peace be still.” These are the words God has to say …
Shall we join together, with thanksgiving, and give Him honor?
We can then Be still and rest in His glory and power!
Be still my soul, and rest in Him, this day.
Jesus is the life and light and the way.

Speak in a hymn. “Be Still My Soul” Make melody in your heart to the Lord

“Be Still my soul … ” (1)

O God … How can it be? The reality? God help us see – that You are the Almighty. “Be Still my soul … Be Still my soul.” 

Words – are powerful. Let us speak old words together. With tears and pain, whether seen on the outside – it is raining within. Let us cry out with our whole heart  – “O God – increase our faith  – again.”

 Words penned in 1752, over 200 years ago, bring health to the soul, somehow. So, today, let us pray together, to our God Almighty and our Father in heaven, with old words, true, (yet first person is changed a few)-  that we might  comfort ourselves in You. Let us say together:    “Be Still my Soul.” 

“Be Still my soul, The Lord is on our side …

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to our God to order and provide;
In every change, You faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”

“Dear God there is so much change. But You, O LORD remain. We draw near to You, and You draw near when we do. O God, help us, today in such darkness, take hold of Your light and believe and rest …

in Your faithfulness:

“Be still, my soul: Our God doth undertake
To guide the future, as You have the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
Your voice Who ruled them while You dwelt below.”

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart, And all is darkened in the vale of tears, 

Then shalt we  better know Your love, Your heart,
Who comes to soothe our sorrow and our fears.

“Dear Lord, comfort the downcast with Your Spirit, we draw near.”

“Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with You Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

“Dear Father in heaven, we bow our heads together. The most important change that needs be, is that which must be done, inside of me. Increase my faith, that I might stand, and follow You, as You take hold of my hand:

“Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing,  You, O Lord on high; to
Acknowledge You in all our words and ways,
So shall You  view us with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Son of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.”

Today. Today! This is what You have given us. Teach us to pray. To talk with You the words of this hymn rather than complaint. Be merciful to us.

Teach us to trust.

Help us to take hold of You – who are Love, and let go of all lust. Let us put off the fight, and the anger, and the strife …

and let us make harmony as we sing Your melody throughout the rest of our life.

We bow our heads, we pray to You. We end our words  and whole heartedly say:  “Our soul is still, as we set our minds on the hill, where You laid down Your life, as a perfect sacrifice, forgiving my failures, Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You.

(1) “Be Still My Soul” by Katherine von Schlegel. 

I wait . . .I AM here. . .

“when you’re ready  . . .

when you’re ready to know.

I wait, patiently. My ways are not like man’s ways you know.

The blind seem to be leading the blind somehow.

so much knowledge, yet,

so little care. so much violence, everywhere

Are you broken and hurting inside? I AM compassion. Bow your head,

I will abide.

Selah. Pause and think quietly on this

I AM the same, yesterday, today, forever. (1) I patiently endure. I AM here. (2) I AM there.

I bring Comfort in time, I bring rhythm and rhyme – but not now,

while your cut-heart bleeds . . .

It is time,

to grieve.

so much death and dying. so much sadness and pain. There is a time to cry and mourn . . .

they’ve pushed Me away. But I hear those who call. My ears hear the same, as in the beginning.

Do you know that I have engraved, on the palms of My hand, your name? (3)

You have heard. It’s been told you before. The words always sound the same. But, this time, can you hear My knock on your door?

“I Am faithful. I AM True. I give eternal life to them, and to you.

They shall never perish, those who believe. There is no sin, it has been covered, by My blood – I was willing, . . .

do you receive?

Greater than all, is My Father in heaven.

We are one, My Father and Me.

We are one. Yes, I, Jesus, I tell you – truly.

No one can snatch them or you, out of His hand. Our Father in heaven, He is Almighty, whose  name is so great you will never comprehend. And know this,

yes, this you must hear, let these words ring clear in your ear:

‘no one’ can snatch you out of His hand.   No trouble or tragedy or persecution or pain, no hunger, or danger, not even death can ever separate you from Him. God is love. Me and My Father are one. No one can separate you from Me.

I wait ’till the day you understand. I have your name engraved in the palm of My hand.

I love you forever. I wait each new day. My knock will not cease, I have prepared for you My Table of Comfort and Peace.

Let the tears flow, the sadness will end. A song I will bring you. In time, . . . you will have joy once again.

 

 

(1) Hebrews 13:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

(2) Psalm 23:4, Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” (NLT)

(3) Isaiah 49:16, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

(4) John 10: 28,30, I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

(5) Romans 8:31-39,  “What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?  Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?  Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.  Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?  (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)  No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

 

I know a man who believes God is who He says He is!

Happy 30th Anniversary Mike! You are a faith – full man! Faith is your gift – trusting God always and forever – and I will prayerfully keep growing in faith- oh yes, I have faith, but not the ‘gift of faith’ like you! It is because you trust God that we have 11 amazing children who color our world and add song to each of our days, as we bow our knees and seek God in praise and prayer each day. I love you Mike Rypkema!

See God's Hand

By Faith…

Well, if you want to read a condensed version of many of the men and women of faith in the Bible, you would read the 11th  chapter of the Book of Hebrews. It is known as the ‘faith chapter.’

It starts out with the definition of faith, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1)

Then it says, “This is what the ancients were commended for.” (Heb. 11:2)

Then you read that “by faith Able was commended as a righteous man. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.” And “by faith Enoch, …before he was taken, was commended as one who pleased God.” (Heb. 4,5)

Heb. 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of…

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