Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I Will Remember You

"Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it
and remember the everlasting covenant between
God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."
Genesis 9:16

Maybe it was a sense of vanity but I wanted a permanent marker to sign copies of my first book before sending them off to friends who'd asked for them. The store I went to didn't sell single packs of the turquoise color I wanted so I grabbed the rainbow pack. Then at the register I noticed the display of single colors ... every color but the turquoise. I signed my books with the color that reminded me of my favorite cross necklace and there sat the rest of the pens in the craft drawer.

The thing about these permanent markers is that they aren't really permanent. I used to label my young son's toys in case he left them outside but "Billy" eventually faded. I wrote the local phone number of my health plan on the back of the card which is barely legible now. I guess that means my signature will fade too but not as fast. It's not exposed to the sun or being rubbed against the inside of my wallet regularly. 

But God's covenent is everlasting, another word for permanent. His promises do not fail, nor does He break them. Now, being that He's God I doubt He'd ever forget but He created a rainbow as a sign. The sign is not the promise however so even if you can't see the rainbow after the storm, His promises remain.

Enviornmental circumstances won't fade them. Excessive handling won't fade them. Unlike permanent markers which are useless when they run out of ink, the well of His provision will not dry up. Just as the Psalmist said, His mercies are new every morning. 

The problem with most humans, myself included, is that we relate to words through our experience. According to the dictionary permamnent, especially in regards to ink, means non-fading but I can barely read my little boy's name on his squirt gun. I have not experienced permanent so it's hard sometimes to grasp this everlasting covenant God has with His people. And because of that, I don't think I claim His promises as often as I should and I find myself worrying which means I doubt His provision.

I need to start seeing God the way He sees Himself ... in living color at the ready to keep His promises. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
1 Crinthians 13:4-5

      She sees the shirt in the Christian bookstore and has to have it. Nevermind that she's of a generation that didn't experience the joy of shiny new vinyl or the fun of playing records at the wrong speed. Her generation is more familiar with shiny silver, not shiny black discs and they're half the size of my albums. CD's will never have "chipmunk mode" and they don't really lend themselves to clever Epistle Tees but they do travel better.

      So now this teenage carrier of my and my husband's DNA is sporting a shirt with a colorful graphic of albums and words that say, "Love keeps no record of wrongs." It's a tough lesson to remember. Especially when you have teenagers. I used to think "the love chapter" was about wives and husbands but now I'm seeing things differently.

     The love chapter is not the lover chapter, it's for anyone you are called to love. It's for children to learn to relate to their parents. It's for parents to learn to relate to their children. It's for neighbor to learn to relate to neighbor. It's for you to relate to me and me to you. 

     The chapter starts with these words, "And now I will show you the most excellent way." The most excellent way to what? To live in harmony as one body with many parts as Paul was telling the church in Corinth to do. Keep no record of wrongs.

      There is a smudge on the album above that I didn't notice until I looked at the picture. But I've played that album and the smudge doesn't affect it ... still I need to buff it out. There are things we in the church do to each other that do affect us and they are to be dealt with. It's like when the record skips, you get up and move the needle and continue listening.

    So deal with the wrongs but keep no record of them. Keep on loving and living in harmony with each other. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Domino Effect

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you;
I will never leave you or forsake you." 

Joshua 1:5b

          The concept was this. Your decisions affect other lives and you can have a positive effect, like the amazing domino creations we saw on a video from Domino Day 2008 or negative like a mistake that destroys what was being created. God means for us to do beautiful things and tell the generations to come of His works and provision. Again and again, He called the people of the Bible to tell of His works and goodness, to set up memorial stones and share the story of what He had done. 

         He calls us today to do the same thing. To live a life that compels others to learn about Him. He calls us to be one of the dominoes in the unfolding picture. After our pastor explained this to us, he called us to come get a domino as a reminder that God wants to work in and through us and that our decisions affect others. The main thing he wanted us to remember was the promise of Joshua 1:5 which says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

        I had a time in the not-too-distant past where I felt God reminding me of that so I chose my domino with purpose. I wanted one with six dots and I found one that had one side that had six yellow dots. The other side was ten orange dots. I knew immediately what the 6 yellow dots meant but would come home to ponder the ten orange. 
When I claimed Joshua 1:5 as a promise from God I was with my mother who was terminally ill. I had brought a new CD over for her to listen to. She asked me to turn it up so I turned to the player to adjust the volume. When I turned back to face her, there was a beautiful rainbow of light above her head. In that moment I felt God tell me to claim a promise and I immediately thought of Joshua 1:5. There were tears in my eyes as I retrived my camera from the car and took a picture. 

Mom's rainbow of light
        She was blind most of her life and a Braille reader. In Braille code 6 dots (2 columns of 3 side-by-side) is called a full cell. Mom had told me that yellow is the color of light. Those six yellow dots mean that Jesus is the light of the world Who makes my joy complete (full). 

      Now about those orange dots. Orange is a combination of red and yellow. Red, the color of His shed blood and yellow being His light. The orange dots surrounded an empty space which represents how alone I sometimes feel. What He did and Who He is combining to surround my emptiness in a merciful embrace. But why ten dots? I remembered a story about the 12 spies who went to check out the Promised Land. Two said the land God was giving them was beautiful. Ten said there’s no way we can take it. There are giants. 

     Ten forgot God’s provision.

     There will always be those people who surround me to say, ‘There’s no way you can do it. You don’t deserve God’s love. He’d never use a loser like you.’ But God is there with me in the midst of the negativity. He leans in and whispers, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” That is all I need to hear. 

     Even if you hear ten negative comments a day; even if your rent is raised by more than ten percent; even if ten months out of the year your child struggles with school God is there. The truth spoken in Joshua 1:5 is still true. 

He will never leave you or forsake you.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Clogged Up Shaker

You are the salt of the earth.
But if the salt loses its saltiness,
how can it be made salty again?
Matthew 5:13a

        I read the e-mail with concern and hit reply. Then the blinking cursor taunted me. A week later a friend typed words in a chat box that no daughter should have to type. I can write 50,000 words in 30 days but didn't know what to type into my chat box.

      Old friends reaching out, including me in their lives and my salt shaker was clogged. You see I long to be salt, not salt in an open wound but the kind that enhances and brings out good flavor in food. I guess they're the same salt but the application differs. Anyway I wanted to encourage but the words wouldn't come.

     My friends are both believers so I could've pulled out a familiar scripture and maybe that's what was expected of me but which verse or verses? I wanted my e-mail to bolster my friend's spirits and give him the strength to stand. I wanted my chat message to reach out and hug my friend as she cried on my shoulder. Truth be told I wanted to do something practical to help the first friend and run to the side of the second but all I have is words.

     My words are my salt. The shaker wasn't empty. I had this feeling of encouragement within me. I just couldn't get it out. 

    I know leaving the shaker clogged will allow the salt within to lose its saltiness. I'm not sure what's clogging it. I think it is this overwhelming feeling of sadness. Now if I could just figure out how to get rid of the gunk of this emotional state so the salt will flow freely.

    The place to start is the place where I should always stay ... under the shadow of His Wing. I shall let Him comfort me so I can be the encourager He created me to be.