A Time For Everything

Ecclesiastes 3

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Songwriter:  Pete Seeger

Artist:  Judy Collins

 

Surely I Am With You Always, To the Very End of the Age

Matthew 28 (NIV)

Jesus Has Risen

28 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”


Lyrics:  Still Rolling Stones
Out of the shadows
Bound for the gallows
A dead man walking
Till love came calling
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
Six feet under
I thought it was over
An answer to prayer
The voice of a Savior
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
All at once I came alive
This beating heart, these open eyes
The grave let go
The darkness should have known
(You’re still rolling rolling, you’re still rolling rolling oh)
You’re still rolling stones
(You’re still rolling rolling oh)
You’re still rolling stones
Now that You saved me
I sing ’cause You gave me
A song of revival
I put it on vinyl
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
I once was blinded
But now I see it
I heard about the power
And now I believe it
Rise up (rise up)
Rise up (rise up)
All at once I came alive
This beating heart …

Song credit belongs to Lauren Daigle. The official audio video for Lauren Daigle’s new single “Still Rolling Stones” from her album, Look Up Child. Stream Still Rolling Stones here: https://LaurenDaigle.lnk.to/StillRoll… Order Look Up Child here: https://LaurenDaigle.lnk.to/LookUpChild

 

Confidence Spring Forth

It is spring. The grass greens with each passing day, perennials emerge through cool soil, daffodils and hyacinths bloom, and fragrant rains wash tree pollen from the air. As accompaniment to these sights and smells, the song, “Oceans”, has been looping in my spirit for days.

The lyrics are about expanding faith, about trusting, about going where we have not gone before. It is about stepping not merely where we step by nature, but where He beckons us: to the supernatural. Will we walk upon the waters wherever He may call us?

The song is a challenge to overcome our doubts by choosing to grow our trust. It is a beckoning to follow Him into the great unknown. It is about trusting not self, but God. Will we allow Him to replace our thoughts with His, our plans with His? Are our words platitudes, or do we truly believe that with Him we can participate in the miraculous?

I wonder, just how vast are His ways? If we dare to trust, how far into the realm of possibilities might we travel?

Spring. In this season of new life and growth, I expect courage and confidence to spring forth, faith to flourish, and for steps to find the firm, sure footing of the miraculous.

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Matthew 14:22-33 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”


Hillsong United – Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) – Lyrics – Zion 2013. Copyright belongs to Hillsong United and their music producers. To purchase song – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/zio… .

Dear Hate

Cindi Gale

 Romans 12

A Living Sacrifice

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Humble Service in the Body of Christ

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,

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What Power Is This?

Easter Sunday is less than three weeks away. What is represents was never meant to be a one-day observation, but the gift that keeps on giving.

What was the purpose of Jesus’s death and resurrection? He did it for us to be his. For us to be adopted, to be heirs to his throne, heirs of his kingdom.

Not just in heaven one day, but on Earth as well. Now. Know the truth of it. Know the power of it.

The power of his resurrection. It is power to heal, to create, to know, to understand. Not all things, as only God does, but as much as he is willing to trust us with. As much as we are willing to pursue and become consecrated for. As much as we stay determined to believe in, regardless the delays and events transpiring that appear contrary to who he is.

Do we give up? Do we stop before the finish line of our race, or do we press on toward the goal to which he calls us?

Do we push our wants and ways forward, or do we say as Jesus did, “Not my will, but yours be done”? Do we lead or do we follow? Do we fight him or do we work cooperatively with him?

Do we retain for ourselves what he wants us to give up, or do we open the hiding places of our minds and souls for him to do with as he wants? If he wants those places emptied of ourselves, do we slam the door on him and forbid him reentry, or do we keep it open to him no matter how much we agonize over the removal of our own desires and ambitions?

If we say and do as Jesus did, and give up our wills and let his be done, we may just find ourselves entrusted with the same power that Jesus experienced on Easter:  resurrection power. The power to do for God all that he wants done. To overcome evil with good. To take back what has been stolen, knowing it was always meant to belong to the heirs of Christ.

And who are his heirs? Not a select few, as some may want you to believe, and not those who claim they’ve earned it by good works — they’ve qualified themselves according to their big egos. They aren’t the gatekeepers to God. Jesus is. And he opens the gate for any who want to enter.

There is no qualification apart from wanting to be accepted, to be adopted by the Great I Am.

The day we realize we are his, we begin to realize what belongs to him, and what he shares with us. Like power. Resurrection power.

It wasn’t just for Easter Sunday. It’s for the daily lives of his heirs and colaborers, for those he entrusts to use as he directs. For now until Christ calls us heavenward.

 


I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection. – Philippians 3:10

I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe Him. It is that same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in heaven.  Ephesians 1:19-20

In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  Ephesians 1:5-6

In love, he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:4-6

 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12-14

When Darkness Comes

river strong current for blog, I will carry you. I will sustain you. I will rescue you.

” … I am he,
I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you
and I will carry you;
I will sustain you
and I will rescue you.”
Isaiah 46:4

For years I have been drawn to Johnny Cash’s cover of “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”. Maybe it is his rich, deep voice. Maybe it is the sincerity in which he sings. I don’t hear Cash, I hear God speaking the lyrics to me.
Listen. Hear his heart. Hear his promise. Believe it – He will do it.

 

“Bridge Over Troubled Water”

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can’t be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on, silvergirl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind


Bridge Over Troubled Water was written by Simon & Garfunkel

Cover by Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple.

Think Like A Winner

It’s easy to say, “Don’t be afraid” of the global Covid-19 spread. It’s more difficult to maintain a state of trust when its effects have reached your life. Parents are scrambling to find daycare with school closures. People have lost their sole sources of incomes while their work places are closed or staffing significantly reduced. Life savings invested in businesses or in stocks are reducing by the hour.

And these things are just a few of the peripheral effects of the Coronavirus. The fear is real for people who have no health insurance; with compromised, chronic health issues; who care for children or adults with those issues; or are older adults. We know the virus is directly more threatening to those demographics.

It’s not that I haven’t been impacted personally, because I have. I empathise with those who are experiencing fear, but I have not felt it myself. I think a younger “me” would have succumbed to at least a portion of the anxiety others exhibit. I believe my current immunity to fear of Covid-19 is due to having forged a mindset of faith in the past. I have fought too many battles to count over the past two decades especially. I fight fear and anxiety as needed still. I assume I will always need to battle what comes against us.

Think of it as a muscle. Build it up. It’s work to do that, but ultimately there is payoff. As with exercise, choose for yourself what inspires you and helps you to stay focussed on peace and trust.

To maintain my confidence, it is essential to ingest only reasonable, factual information. I actively reject unfounded information and refuse to swallow the Kool Aid of lies. I am driven to refute and confront assertive influencers, their spoons outstretched, looking for naive or weak or vulnerable people to force-feed lies. For those vulnerable victims I confront the aggressors with truths (because one of the attributes of God is truth). I do battle on behalf of truth and my God who is too-often misrepresented.

The more I exercise my muscles to retain truth from those who try to  wrestle it away, the stronger my foundation in truth. True is true; no amount of salesmanship can convince me otherwise. My firm foundation wasn’t built in a day. It wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter. It was built by having to work at it. I found the solid rock on which I now stand, and clung to it whenever storms threatened to dislodge me. I fought to stay here against countless storms. I’m here now because of the work done in the past. My foundation and the structure that is my life that is built on it, was built over time, in all kinds of conditions, some of them life threatening.

Do what helps you stay in truth. I am a committed, “all-in” follower of Christ, so I go “all in” with who he is and what he says, digging in my heels more determined than ever at times like these. When crises knock on my door, and sometimes knock it down and enter, I entrench my stance in the belief that God wants good for us and never evil; he came to bring us life and to have it more abundantly; he is a God of power and wants to use it on our behalves.

Evil can overwhelm, and yes it can win. I don’t understand the “whys” and “hows” of this fact, considering God is Almighty and All-powerful. I believe it has to do with the way he designed his relationship with mankind as founded on our free will. We aren’t puppets. We aren’t his pawns. We have choice. We are dealing with the choices of all of humanity over all of time. If we’ve been led astray by outright falsehoods or corrupted but widely accepted theologies, maybe it’s time to stop the cycle. It has to start somewhere, doesn’t it? Why not start with you?

He wants us to maintain the victory that Christ won for us at Calvary. That takes effort on our part, it takes work. That work is often done in our stances. Our minds are battlegrounds where fear imposes, panic threatens, and lies “whisper” into our spiritual “ears”.

It is our job to battle back. Maintain the victory that Christ won for us long ago. Don’t take it lying down. Get up, put on your boxing gloves, and, as Jesus did with the Satan in the wilderness … refute the lies. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against evil spiritual forces. Battle the father of lies. Resist the devil and he will flee. Decide, “I’m not accepting this fear. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

Surround yourself with what helps you do battle. Music helps me. I realize the music on this post may be too representative of a particular religious culture to you, and you may have an aversion to it (maybe rightly so, if you are detecting an impurity that needs to be removed from organized religion), or it may simply not be your taste. It’s only marginally my own taste, but I linked it because it is on point. More my taste is what I’m listening to right now:  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Don’t Back Down”. Choose whatever music you prefer.

Other ways to facilitate hope are to read articles that support it. If you can’t stand your ground amid words of hopelessness and distress, remove yourself from the voices who propagate it. Take a walk. Enjoy nature. If you can’t do that, gaze at photos of love and beauty and empowerment. Do what speaks to you personally. Watch shows and movies of good winning and evil losing.

Surround yourself with whatever builds your faith and minimizes the bravado of fear.

Lasso your renegade thoughts. Face them and refute them with reason. Work your muscles to do these things until you think like conquerors think. They expect to win.

If, despite your best efforts, loss still comes to you, don’t suppose for a minute that your work was misdirected. If you were battling for good and truth and righteousness and hope, you were on the right side. You were doing your best at that moment in time. You might very well have advanced your authority in the spiritual realm. You may not win this battle but you may win the next because of the progress you made.

Don’t give up the ground you’ve gained. Stand your ground. And when you’re ready, march forward once again to overtake evil with good.


 

Song credit and licensing belongs to Kristene DiMarco, Bethel Music.

Moving Up

Two years ago today, my stepfather died. He was 91 years old. He married my mom in 1991 after my dad and his wife died of similar cancers. He was the only grandfather my two sons and most of their cousins will ever remember.

I woke before 5:00 that morning. I had an appointment for a tech to come from our cable company between 8 and 10:00. I had waited two weeks for that appointment. Still, to wait till after the appointment to arrive at the hospital, where Vern had been since a massive hemorrhagic stroke just five days prior, felt “too late”. So I cancelled the appointment and left the house before dawn.

Vern’s breathing had changed the day before. There had been a code. Not a Code Blue, because he didn’t want that, or any desperate measures, but the equivalent of it for patients like him. The Rapid Response Team decided to add a ventilator to ease his significantly labored breathing.

I was at the hospital before daybreak. My mom had slept in the chair in Vern’s room, and was awake. We sat talking. Chatting. Easy talk, despite the gravity of his condition. I made a coffee run.

Around 9:00, they asked us to leave the room so they could give his morning bed bath. We went to the lobby, where Mom recognized a chaplain who had visited Vern’s room earlier in the week, and struck up a conversation with him. I think she needed the break from the reality in Vern’s room on the sixth floor, but I felt the need to interrupt their discussion for us to get back to him.

I’m so glad I did. When we opened his door, the nurses were gone. I looked first to his breathing. I had been fixated on it all week, and immediately saw it had changed again in the 15 minutes we were gone. No longer labored and rapid, as it had been for 18 hours or so. Now shallow and slow. I alerted my mother, who hadn’t yet noticed, and she hurried to his side. She lifted his left hand and held it between hers. I sat opposite on the bed, one hand on his arm, the other on my mom’s.

Mom pushed the call button for his nurse, who came within seconds. She checked his vitals and the machines, her voice full of compassion as she asked if we’d like her to remove the ventilator mask and turn off the machine. She didn’t need to say more for us to know the machine couldn’t help any longer. She was affirming what we already knew. We nodded, and he was freed of the mask.

I am glad we made that decision. It was Vern’s face again, Just Vern, without that big mask.

With the hum of the machine off, the room was quiet again. Peaceful.

Less than a minute later … there came a lengthened pause between the breaths. Just two more spaced, slow, shallow breaths …

Then no more.

So easy. So peaceful.

To fully understand what this meant to me to be there:

I was in the kitchen when my father passed in my parents’ living room 29 years prior. As was my mom. We were eating a frozen pizza, because meals still had to happen. It had been days of “near the end”. Hospice had educated us along the way. We knew what to expect. But we also knew there was no way to predict the final moment.

And so we left his side, where I had been wiping his brow with a cool wet cloth, to grab a quick meal in the kitchen.

Putting us in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My dad was alone in the living room when he passed. Maybe it was for the best for Mom, I don’t know; she’s never spoken of it with regret. But I’ve been filled with regret about that timing since 1989.

Tortured by bad timing.

I had wanted to be holding his hand when he passed. I wanted for him to feel the weight of his loved ones on the edge of his bed. My brother said Dad wouldn’t have wanted that; he would have wanted to spare us the pain of his last breath. Maybe my brother was right.

But I wanted to be there.

Just a week before my stepfather passed, my godmother, my dear aunt, passed. I was there that day, kept in the loop by her husband and my cousins, who had been told by the nursing home staff that she was in her final days.

I wanted to be there. I would make up for my failure of not being there for my dad.

A worker from Hospice came in and out all that morning. My aunt’s second husband was there, as he was every day since my aunt’s stroke months before. Both were widowers, just like my mom and step-dad when they married. The Hospice worker encouraged Jim and I to take a break, to go for lunch. She said it could be a full day away, maybe two, nobody knew.

And so he went for lunch, and I took a walk. A long walk.

I was less than half a block from returning to my aunt’s nursing home when Jim called. My aunt was gone and I was a mere two minutes away.

In the wrong place at the wrong time, again.

Once again, I was tortured with regret. If only I’d stayed. If only I’d hurried back. If only …

The morning of my aunt’s visitation, Vern had the stroke. So two years ago today, a week after my aunt died, on the morning that would be my stepfather’s last …

The odds of being in the wrong place at the wrong time were high:  If I’d waited till after 10, after the Mediacom tech left. If I’d patiently allowed Mom to have an extended conversation with the chaplain in the lobby. If we’d been just outside the door even; if the nurses had taken longer attending to him.

Instead …

This time I was there. Physically there. Vern could feel the weight of our bodies seated next to him, the touch of our hands on his, as he passed.

My regret is gone; the 29-year torture has ceased.

My Mom asked me that morning of witnessing Vern’s death, and many times since, “When did you get so strong?”

Because I didn’t cry.

Not there on the edge of Vern’s bed. Not since. I’m not certain why, but I think witnessing Vern’s passing did something to my outlook on life and death.

Death is not terrible. Not when a person has lived a long, full, mostly healthy, mostly happy life. Maybe not when anyone dies. Not when heaven is waiting. Not when loved ones there are waiting.

Jim told my aunt to go on there, that my uncle, her first husband, was there waiting for her. He would be fine, he wanted Aunt Pat to go be with Uncle Elden. He wanted her to go ahead and see her parents again. He would see her … later.

Mom told me she had a talk with Vern in the night before he passed. She told him to go ahead … to reunite with his first wife, Verla, and his brothers and parents and friends. She would see him … later.

Because God promises and makes possible an everlasting life, I know now that death is natural. Death is a passing of the body. The story is not over, just a transference of the soul from here to there. It is a transcendency.

Death is … moving up.

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