Thursday, January 19, 2017

Listen -- God is Speaking



Yesterday morning, I had a deep foreboding about my parents. I put my ear piece/headset on to call them while I went for a bike ride, but the wind was too loud. I would call them when I got home. Instead, I got a text from my sister. My mom had fallen, and broken her elbow and hip.

Yesterday, I drove halfway to NY, buoyed by Christian music on the radio.
There is hope for the hopeless....
You are not alone...

In the hotel, I ate a salad from Walmart for dinner which was surprisingly good. The songs with the message of hope and healing in Jesus echoed in my head during the sleepless hours of the night, mingling with my prayers. Today I will finish the trip to my folks, and sit with them through whatever may come. Surgery is scheduled for Friday.

I may not have time to blog over the next week. I have no idea what the future holds. But I do know who holds the future. My prayer is that everyone who doesn't know God would ask Him to speak. Then listen. With all your heart, listen.
*****

John 10:27-28

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

When You Feel Irrelevant, Ponder This



Sadly, my Surface Pro 4 which has been wonderful for a full year is suddenly acting up. Overheating, fan on all the time, battery life nil. I brought it to the Microsoft help group who tell me it may be dying. I am considered a "heavy user" of computer capabilities apparently. I have driven my Surface Pro 4 to an early grave.

While my poor computer is in the hospital, I am using my old iPad. I am not even sure which iPad it is...2, 3...or 4? Is there a 4? I keep it as back up for when my computer is in the shop. Between uses, I often forget how to use it, and it needs to update all the apps each time I finally need to call it into service again. That makes it even slower and more cumbersome to use than it already is.

Nonetheless, I charged it overnight, and this morning, have been (slowly) reading my Bible study on this very slow and old machine. Because the machine is so slow, I had plenty of time to chew on the words I was reading. This is a portion of my study this morning:

1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. (Hebrews 4: 1-2,7)

We have a promise of rest. I was forced to rest as I read these words because my machine is so slow. However, that is not the rest that is discussed in this passage. There awaits for all of us the promise of HIS rest, but only to those who have faith that what they are hearing is true. We are furthermore admonished that if we hear God's voice today, accept and harken to it today. Tomorrow may be too late as none of us are promised tomorrow.

HIS rest is finally escaping the rat race of sin once and for all. Finally, entering into His presence, washed clean and pure and holy by the sacrificial atonement of Christ. As we grow old, so many of us feel the world sweeping by us. Technologies we cannot keep up with, experiences others value that we cannot begin to understand, memories that all those youngsters find antiquated and dull. We feel increasingly irrelevant.

But this is the amazing good news. We are not irrelevant to God. He has spent a whole lifetime with us preparing us for His kingdom. He longs for us to enter with Him, into a place where the only truly important experience and knowledge awaits us: the knowledge, peace, and blissful rest with our Lord whom we will see face to face.

Today if you hear His voice, harden not your heart. Enter into His rest where the sacred value of your soul is completely understood by the One who loves you eternally.





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Face of "Pro-Choice"

Yesterday on the sidewalks of the southeast's busiest abortion center, we pro-life counselors had to contend with some nasty forces of dissent. The woman in the forefront holding the yellow sign in the face of Cities4Life pro-life counselor (Sherry) was attempting to block Sherry from showing a picture of a 12-week-old baby in utero to a mama. This "pro-choice" escort was shouting at the top of her lungs, "Your body, your choice," (even to the men...?), and following us whenever we called out to the abortion-minded women. Sometimes she would switch her mantra, and then would tell us loudly about how wonderful sex is and describe in detail what she enjoys sexually, while informing us she didn't believe in God. She was created "by science" she told us.

Somehow, despite this harassment, God's message was proclaimed, many people took our literature and two women chose life. That wonderful counselor in the photo, Sherry, stayed late, and took a grieving couple to lunch after the woman aborted and was sick, in pain, and sad. The young man was horribly distraught, having begged the woman not to abort his child.  None of the "pro-choice" folks were offering comfort or lunch to the couple.

Sherry gave them our contact info and promised to stay in touch to help however she could. Then she sobbed her eyes out over the horror of what abortion does to humanity. Anyone who thinks abortion only destroys the child has not spent much time on the front-lines of the industry.


**********

Proverbs 6:12-16 

A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him

Psalm 5:4

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand.

Psalm 37:1-40

Of David. Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. ...



Monday, January 16, 2017

The World Set Right

My computer was overheating, fan blasting overtime, and all kinds of programs freezing, including my beloved art program. Finally, I realized this was not as it should be and called Microsoft Help center. I am often on the phone for hours with them to no avail.

However, this time, the tech guy was really good, and incredibly patient. When I described my problems, including those with my art program, he was particularly concerned. He himself is an artist, and he knew how frustrating it can be to have an art program lag behind the pen strokes.

"That is unacceptable, and we will fix it," he promised.

He trouble-shot all kinds of potential issues, and then found the problem. Malware. My malware detector was turned off, unbeknownst to me, and had let a virus in. He even had me test my art program after he thought he solved the issue. The horse picture at the top of this blog is the sketch I produced while he tested CPU output and other things I didn't understand.

It was SO satisfying to state the problem, go to an expert who could solve it, and have it neatly solved. All was set right and the world was as it should be.

This is what will happen when Jesus returns. The problem is sin. God is the only one who can solve it. His timing may not be my desired timing for when this problem is solved once and for all, but He assures us it will be.

All will be set right, and the world will be as it should be.

However, not yet.

So this Monday, as every Monday, I will head off to the sidewalks of the busy abortion center to speak for the unborn babies who cannot speak for themselves. The world is very NOT right at that dark place, but my Cities4Life team and I go with the light of Jesus and the hope and promise that even this horror will be set right one day.

"This is unacceptable and I will fix it," God promises.

****************

2 Corinthians 5:18-21 

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Peter 3:10 

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Heart for All Life


I get to do the most amazing things as a writer! My new book involves eagle rehabilitation, so I called the Carolina Raptor Center to see if one of their raptor rehab folks would talk with me. I want my book to be as factual as possible in specifics about rehab, though it is a fictional story, book three of my Unlikely Friends series.

I hit the jackpot. The incredibly kind man who spent three hours talking with me, Mathias Engelmann, has been in raptor rehab for 30 years. As his coworkers chatted with me, they told me I was lucky to be interviewing him -- best in the business.

PLUS, his name is the same as my son's (though my son's name is spelled with two T's). He was every bit as good as everyone indicated, and incredibly patient as I outlined my (outlandish) plot and asked him to help me insure it was realistic. I think at first he was dubious, but as I revealed the plot, he began to perk up with interest.

I already have 14,000 words on my new book and have steered it in a direction I wasn't at all sure was based in reality. I had done some research, but not having ever been involved in eagle rehab, I was really making some massive assumptions and guesses.

It turns out, most of my plot will work! Mathias helped support it and tweak it with his incredible knowledge of what happens in the real eagle rehab world. Remarkably, he even made some realistic suggestions that promoted the underlying conceptual impetus for the book -- concepts of forgiveness, healing relationships, divine retribution, refuge, and sacrificial love. And as if all his time and help cementing the accuracy of my plot wasn't enough, just as we were preparing to wrap up, he got a call that an injured red hawk was on the way. (Not sure if red shouldered or red-tailed for you hawk aficionados.)

"It will be here in ten minutes," he told me, "If you want to watch the intake exam, you can."
"Is it the same thing you would do with an eagle?" I asked.
"Yes."
I had a front row seat on this incredible event. They lifted the hawk out of the box, securing his talons firmly in their hands. Then they lay it on its back and began a careful exam of every part. When not directly examining his head they kept the head covered so the hawk didn't freak out.

After the physical exam, they took it to the x-ray table. I got to watch as they gassed it to put it to sleep and conducted the x-ray.


The hawk had a damaged eye and was unable to walk. They were looking for damage to the spine or pelvis. The poor guy probably collided with a car. The transport woman who brought the hawk from the concerned citizen to the center stayed and watched the exam with me. She had told the hawk on the drive over, "Red, you are my first transport this year. You better make it."



The x-rays didn't show anything obvious though the workers thought perhaps the right pelvis showed some problems. While he snoozed, the hawk received a shot of antibiotics and further careful exam from Mathias.


I had to leave before they fully woke the hawk up, but they were preparing a cage for him. The worker told me if he survives the first 24 hours, he has a 70% chance of making it. I am praying for Red.

I met several volunteers and employees at the Raptor Hospital. Everyone was kind, and gentle, with a deep reverence for the life of their winged charges. I quickly connect with anyone with a reverence for life.

God created such variety, beauty, and abundance of life on this planet. It is all so precious. I am grateful that there are people who take the time and effort to rescue a hawk or an eagle or any creature. I think it shows an appreciation to God for what He has created to respect, care for, and value life.  All life.

Sometimes, people are more willing to respond to the vulnerable nature of an injured animal than to the vulnerable nature of a baby in the womb. As a sidewalk counselor at the local busy abortion mill, i often see bumper stickers related to animal rescue on the cars of mothers driving in to abort their living child. It always rings a discordant note in my heart.

I love animals, and have a special relationship with them. My heart weeps for animals that are hurt or abused. I have rescued many in my day. However, I think human beings are of even greater worth. Of all God's creation, humans alone are made in His image. How could we care about animals and not His crowning achievement?

"What a beautiful bird," I said.
"Yes," agreed Mathias, gently touching the red tipped white plumage on the hawk's belly, and pumping its little feet to bring it out of the anesthesia.
"Com'on little guy, wake up..." he said tenderly.

*****************

Proverbs 12:10 

Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast...

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?


Go After the One Lost Sheep - A Pro-life Antidote to Discouragement


I taught my little nursing home art class how to draw a teapot, and then use watercolors to paint it.  When I showed them my demonstration painting, they all said, "That's too hard. I can't do it."

I told them, "Yes you can. I will show you step by step, and we will do it together."

Look at what an incredible job they did! Every resident painted a lovely teapot. The room was mobbed. Probably my largest class so far. VERY gratifying.


I dashed from my art class to meet with a post-abortive mom along with Cities4Life director, Daniel Parks. We want to help her, but are uncertain of how best to do so. I asked her what were her needs that she hoped we could meet?

She seemed surprised by the question, thought a moment, and then said, "I meant what I said when I first met you guys and asked Jesus to be my Lord. I want to go to church...but I don't even know where to start. Help me find a good church."

I had thought she might ask for money, which she desperately needs. Maybe food. Maybe a gas card. Maybe help with rent. She asked for a recommendation for a great church. The hopelessness of her situation turned at that moment in my mind.

While her baby is gone, and that is terribly sad, this woman's story is not over yet. Yesterday morning before our meeting, I read a Bible study about how God doesn't work the best return for His investment. If 99 sheep are safe, but one is lost, He pursues the lost sheep.

That's what I felt like Daniel and I were doing yesterday. That is what makes this pro-life ministry one I am so proud to be affiliated with. Every soul is precious to God. Every soul should be precious to us.

Sometimes, the magnitude of the women's problems that we deal with and their distance from God is overwhelming. Note, this woman aborted after she asked Jesus into her life! She called me because when her world fell apart, she didn't have anyone else to turn to. How can anyone hope to successfully convey God's message and help these people so incredibly lost and hardened to His call? There have been more than a few times I have said, "Lord, I can't do this."

God tells us, "Yes you can. I will show you step by step, and we will do this together."


*************

Luke 15:3-7

So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Friday, January 13, 2017

He Will Not Let us Fall


Yesterday, I started my day as always doing my Bible study while watching the eagle family on the Florida eagle cam. I was watching before Mama eagle Harriet and baby E9 woke up. I am usually up at 5 a.m. and the eagles usually don't rise until the sun comes up. Daddy eagle M15 greeted the sun on his tree limb near the nest that overlooks a nearby church. The symbolism of that scene thrills me. The eagle, a symbol of freedom. The church, a symbol of God. We are set free through Christ. Freedom with God is  magnificent. Sadly, freedom without God is what is we sometimes opt for with horrific consequences.

I have an appointment today with a desperate young lady I met at the abortion center. Against our urging, she aborted (at least it certainly appears to be the case). She ended up with a perforated uterus, and emergency surgery. She was angry with us for our repeated attempts to urge another course. However, now homeless and without hope, she called me. She didn't know who else to turn to. Funny how the droves of "pro-choice" advocates who claim they are there for the women are not the people she called. She listened to them and the freedom of choice without God...choosing to end her child's life. So why are they not eager now to help?

Cities4Life will help her. I already secured her an interview with a Christian housing group. She meets with the director of C4L and me for lunch today to go over other resources. We have already connected her with our Love-life Charlotte mentorship program.

Freedom without God is often a terrible moral cesspool. That's why I like the symbol of the eagle with the church backdrop.

It was a nice visual to begin my busy day. I had a doctor appointment for my last surgical check up, followed by PT for my frozen shoulder. When I settled down at the doctor's waiting room, we were informed he was running an hour and a half behind.

This was wonderful news! Now I had time to walk on the beautiful greenway nearby, and snag a yummy healthy turkey wrap from Traders Joe. I left my cell phone number with the nurse in case the doctor was miraculously ready for me early and told her I was going to go for a walk. 
"Good for you!" she said.

I passed a couple walking a Carolina Dog, the same breed as my dearly departed Honeybun.
Such joy to see the spitting image of my beloved dog!
"Do you know you have a Carolina Dog?" I asked. (Many people do not.)
"Yes," she said.
"I used to have one. Best dogs on earth."
"She is a good dog," they agreed.

On to Traders Joe where I bought my turkey wrap. As I walked, I ate. It is one of the great pleasures of life to have a gorgeous sunny day, a beautiful path before you, a yummy snack in hand, and the prospect of no pain at a doctor visit.


Just as I finished my wrap and my walk, the doctor called me. They were ready for me. I answered the phone standing right in front of his office building. Perfect timing!

My blood pressure was the lowest since this whole cancer adventure began. All was well at the check up. On to PT. That was not quite as much fun, but I have progressed beyond painful stretching into lightweight weight lifting. Little by little, I am regaining what I'd lost.

When I returned home, I switched the eagle cam back on. EEGADS!!! Little E9 was sleeping inches from the edge of the nest! What was wrong with Harriet? Why didn't she shove him back into the deep nest bowl in the center of the nest?

Then he woke up! Gulp! E9 sat inches from the edge of a 60 foot free-fall, looking happily out over his world. Harriet seemed completely unconcerned. I imagine she knew exactly what she was doing, though I could not understand her cavalier attitude to what looked very risky to me.

She, on the other hand, seemed to understand that freedom was critical to her eaglet. If he was going to survive and thrive, he must comprehend his boundaries and the world that he was a part of. That world was sixty feet in the air, and he probably needed to know that. I guess unless he was given increasingly larger glimpses of where his nest was situated, he would not know his limits.

As Harriet fed him, she was very crafty. She fed him so that he moved away from the edge of the nest to snatch his food. And then she settled down in the middle of the nest. He moved towards her, not because she was making him return to her in that place of safety but because he wanted to.

Ah. This is what God does. Little by little He shows us what we need to do to grow and develop to be what He intends us to be. Some of it is quite terrifying, and He can't show it to us all at once or we would not fall out of the nest but JUMP out. He doesn't force us back to Him, or to a place of comfort and safety. He lets us test and discover our limits for ourselves. Some of it is exhilarating, and He lets us peek at those snatches of heaven so we will understand what it is we will inherit one day. Then He abides nearby, within our reach, and we move towards Him because He is our heart's desire.

CS Lewis said: Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid be- cause we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

I thought of the eaglet so close to the edge of his nest and the apparent lack of worry in the mother. That juxtaposed with my thoughts of the young lady I will meet with today. In her worries about what the future would hold, she took action that led to disastrous results, defying God and His beautiful design for motherhood. How desperately we tried to tell her to follow and trust God. Do not resist Him. He will catch you! I hope she will listen to us now.

I watched the eaglet sleeping on the edge of the nest under the watchful eye of his mother. Slowly my worry subsided.  She is letting him enjoy the beautiful day, and the magnificent view, but she will not let him fall.
************
Isaiah 41:13

For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'

Psalm 121:3

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.