This was the view from my living room window earlier today. Something about it drew me outside for a clearer look. And this is what I saw…
Clouds. Aren't they magnificent? They're so intriguing to me, with their depth and softness against the blue sky. The dramatic contrast of deep, dark color and light within the clouds themselves.
I’ve always thought a cloudless sky - though amazing it it’s own right - was sort of… boring. Reminding me of a stiflingly hot day in the Sacramento valley. Clouds bring refreshment and excitement.
Arriving on the wind they call out and say, “Come! We have something to share!” Then proceed to demonstrate their acrobatic shape changing talents. Flashing a bit of silver lining they dance with the sunrise. If I dare to blink, suddenly they’re cavorting with the sunset. Before I can discern their next move they’ve vanished mysteriously into another realm.
If I fell into them, I imagine they could cradle me upon their pouffy softness.
Rain and snow, sleet and hail. Not to mention those lightening strikes! Yes, they bring it all. And shade. Blessed relief on that hot day.
Besides, Danny and Bing would have no song to sing if there were no clouds to bring the snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
And life would be mean if it weren’t for lean Gene gleefully Singin’ in the Rain!
Yes, it is nice to have a clear sky, swept and rinsed clean after a deep rain. Courtesy of… clouds. Leaves a nice fresh palette for them to display their glory and talent.
Yes, bring on, bring on the clouds!
I’ve often said, at least to myself, that all the love songs in all the world were written for God, the original Writer of Love Songs.
Growing up in the 70’s, there was Maranatha! Music, Love Song, Keith Green. These were the beginnings of my love affair with God. He knew what would draw my heart, and the heart of my generation. Which music, in particular.
However, I’ve also noticed that many of the popular secular songs of that time and, in fact, all throughout time, could also, if heard with a spiritual ear, be a love song for - or from - God.
Songs often pop into my head, sometimes for no logical reason, but many times I’ll notice they reflect something I’ve been thinking about. Or something God is trying to speak to my heart. Or a song that goes with some message I’ve recently heard - my friend calls those “companion songs”.
So, just this morning, suddenly appearing was, An Old Fashioned Love Song, written by Paul H. Williams, for the group Three Dog Night. One of my absolute favorite groups of all time.
It caused me to ponder the song, since it was stuck there anyway. So, dissecting it a bit, I discovered these interesting little love notes…
“The sound of someone promising they’ll never go…” God will never leave us. He promised.
“You swear you’ve heard it before…” Can I really trust Him?
“No need in bringing ‘em back ‘cause they’ve never really gone…” Yes, He’s always with us.
“… one I’m sure they wrote for you and me…” Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
“…coming down in three part harmony…” Again, Father, Son, Holy Spirit!
“To weave our dreams upon and listen to each evening when the lights are low. To underscore our love affair with tenderness and feeling that we’ve come to know…” This has to be those quiet times woven through our days and nights when it’s just Him whispering into our hearts, in the way that only He can do.
No, it’s not always so simplistic, I get it. Nor can I twist it around and make too much of it all. It’s a secular song written about two lovers. But wouldn’t it be just like our creative God to use all means available within His infinite reach and power, even those creative efforts from man, to woo and capture, however He can, the hearts of those who are searching the world for their One True Love?
Yes. At least it’s been my experience.
So… shall we now look at the B-side… *One (is the Loneliest Number)..?
Songwriter: Harry Edward Nilsson
“But the Lord is faithful, Who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
All this week during the Feast of Unleavened Bread I’ve been struck with how good our God is. I’ve felt His presence so tangibly.
I’m so thankful because there have been a few ugly challenges. A false accusation here, an assumption and misunderstanding there. Yet, somehow, He filled me with enough grace to answer them with kindness. Certainly not with perfection, but considering the 100 angry zingers I could have shot back with, I think it turned out pretty well.
He’s been merciful - He always is - but it’s more than merely extending grace and mercy to me. He became my Grace and Mercy.
He made a way, in the mysterious way He works in our lives, that allowed me to experience a different path. Embody a bit of His grace and mercy, so that perhaps I would have a better chance, an easier choice, of taking that path again the next time a difficult challenge comes along.
Because now that the heat has cooled, I’m so very grateful I took His path. There’s so much less to clean up afterward!
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“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1
It was around this season of Passover that Yeshua instructed His disciples to love one another.
As it was then, so it continues to be, that our enemy prowls around with intent to divide, conquer and kill. Yeshua knew this then. Yet He allowed Himself to be killed anyway, knowing His enemy would rejoice. But only for a while.
Years ago, I learned that if you are offended, look inside your heart to see what’s offend-able. This wise tidbit stuck with me all these years because it poked me in the nose a little bit. When I eventually worked through it and got over my offense I was able to see the truth and wisdom in it.
When we are offended by, or in disagreement with our brother, our enemy rejoices. Always looking for a way to divide, he lurks around waiting for moments just like these. Let’s remember this, step back for a moment to pray. Allow our quick angry responses to be crucified, that we might lay down our life in a way similar to Yeshua.
It’s not always easy. But can we come to each other in the opposite spirit? Can we offer a soft and loving answer, instead? One that will encourage us to draw together rather than divide? Can we rise above this death to begin to resemble the form and function of a body that reflects our Savior?
Can we try? He’d be so very pleased.
May this Passover season find you ever closer to the One Who Saves from Death. May this truly be the beginning of a new season of abundant life like you’ve never known!
Lately, life has been very busy. Running our business, our home, participating in our local fellowship, remembering my family and friends, writing. It’s fairly overwhelming, especially when I can’t fix it all, or satisfy everyone, or remember everything. If I’m not doing, then I’m thinking about doing.
But then I remember Him in this season. His excruciatingly beautiful choice to give Himself up for me. All of my angst goes away and I remember what’s most important.
He reminds me it’s okay. He’s got this. He’s got it all. And it will all be fine. It will all work itself out. After the many days that strung together which led up to His offering… promptly it was done. He worked it all out in a precisely timed moment, when His heart ceased to beat and His Spirit found its way to His Father. It all worked out fine. For Him. For me. For us all.
His ultimate offering completed a circle which included me as a connecting part, touching lives, as He touched a life which touched me.
I’ve heard time is a circle moving forward. If we could pull back and observe it from a distance it would look like one long unbroken spiral. We’d see the big picture, feel its tangibleness. Realize that all things connect. They begin at the same moment another ends. So many events all happening all at the same time. Things concluding overlapping things beginning.
It all works out somehow in some way. And I return with all my hearts effects loosely held in open hands, once again to Him. Who was. Who is. Who will always be.
With blessings to you today!
This series, Progression of Prayer, has been inspired by the excellent bible study by Kristin Schmucker, "Arise, A study on the book of Nehemiah".
“Please remember the word that You commanded Your servant Mosheh, saying ‘If you trespass, I shall scatter you among the peoples, but if you shall turn back to Me, and guard My commands and do them, though you were cast out to the end of the heavens, I shall gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen, to make My Name dwell there.’ And they are Your servants and Your people, whom You have ransomed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.” Nehemiah 1:8-10
In the last two posts we’ve considered the prayer of Nehemiah in Chapter 1:5-11. We looked at two of the keys that open our hearts to the Lord: adoration and declaration of His sovereignty; and our confessions of sin. Both turn in tandem to unlock our hearts, refocusing them on Him.
Now in verse 8, we see that it also makes way for us to bring our petitions before Him, offering a reminder to our promise-keeping God of the promises He made to His people. Reminding Him of who those people are. Not because He’s forgetful, but rather that they remember who they are.
But there’s something else in this scripture. You have to sort of look for it. Nehemiah reminds God of His word to His people, ‘if you trespass, I shall scatter you… but if you shall turn back to Me… though you were cast out… I shall gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen…’ Could this refer to us and our children? If we will return, will God also bring our children? It’s worth pondering!
Nehemiah offered one of the sweetest things I can think of when he spoke back to God His own words. He knew his God and knew His promises. It showed he was listening to what God said. And he remembered it.
For us, to apply it to ourselves is a reminder of who we are and to Whom we belong. It acknowledges to our Promise Keeping God that we realize how much patience, power and strength He has expended upon us, His people. He saves us ~ and our children ~ because of His Heart to do so.
God is faithful and will always do what He says He’ll do. So let’s also remember that He will. Let’s come when He calls. Let’s do what He asks. And let’s remember Who loves us and love Him back.
I pray you were blessed. Have a great week!
This series, Progression of Prayer, was inspired by the excellent bible study by Kristin Schmucker, "Arise, A study on the Book of Nehemiah".
“…please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, to hear the prayer of Your servant which I am praying before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You, and have not guarded the commands, nor the laws, nor the right-rulings which You commanded Your servant Moses.” Nehemiah 1:6-7
In Part 2 of the Progression of Prayer, we read of Nehemiah’s request for the Lord to hear, see and be attentive to his prayers. Which is interesting, as if the Lord maybe wouldn’t have been.
So perhaps his request boosted his courage a bit. He’d already been diligent and thoughtful in his prayers up until now. I believe he knew His God, and knew Him to be merciful, but what was coming next was very important. He needed to submit to Him. Confess and acknowledge his imperfections, his sin. Not only his own, but also those of his family, and those of Israel, the nation in which he was rooted deeply.
It can be difficult to face up to our own sins against God, but to also carry the weight of them for our brothers and even our nation? That’s heavy, man.
So by asking God to hear, see and be attentive to my confession seems to me to clear my heart of presumption, acknowledging that I know that He knows that I know that I’m not perfect. That I also know that He has chosen me for a purpose. That I’m here on this earth by His design and intention. That I truly desire to follow Him and His instructions for carrying out my part of His plan. That I so much need His help with that.
It’s a heavy serious consideration how we approach our Father, Who is also Creator of all. I feel very daughterly toward Him. At the same time I feel humble before the One Who contains all the power possible and yet, having experienced it, know that His first choice is mercy mercy mercy.
This series, Progression of Prayer, was inspired by the excellent bible study by Kristin Schmucker, "Arise, A study on the book of Nehemiah".
And I said: “I pray, LORD God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments…” Nehemiah 1:5
This verse, the first line of Nehemiah’s prayer to God for His people, struck me anew when I read it again recently. I’m learning that there’s a progression of prayer, a protocol for approaching the LORD God of Heaven and Earth. The One Who created all of it with not merely a word, but the word that contained the breath of the universe. It’s wise to be aware of The Whom one is approaching.
Before Nehemiah got into the heart of his request, he was careful to first declare to his God how incredibly faithful He is. Has been and always will be. That it’s God Himself Who is the covenant keeper with His people.
I would imagine that, Nehemiah himself, was reminded of the true character of His God. The God that owns the breath of all life. So that as he settled himself before this Mighty God to bring his request, he did so with humble confidence and faithful assurance that his God would hear and answer with generous mercy.
The attention of this amazing God of All Creation, the Heart of the Keeper of the Breath of Life, is captured by the humble approach of one who loves Him and is careful to guard His instructions.
This is just the beginning of the progression of prayer that I’ve been seeing. I want to share more in the next post.
Thank you for visiting today. I pray you have been blessed!
We are considering establishing a new school in order to prepare those interested in taking their lives in their own hands by driving themselves around in Israel. We're thinking of calling it:
The Shalom School of Offensive Driving
Here you’ll receive hands-on field training to learn the essential skills necessary to peacefully and calmly drive while in Israel. You’ll learn where the edges of your vehicle are so you can safely, efficiently, and with precision, weave through traffic while traveling at high speeds down the freeway. Included is instruction on when and how to use the medians to avoid being caught in traffic snarls.
These skills will also apply while driving in city traffic when you suddenly need to turn left from the right-hand lane, forcefully merge between lanes, and dodge oncoming traffic while avoiding double-parked cars along a two-way street.
We’ll also have beginner through master classes on when and how to use your horn to express your impatience, or to protect nearby drivers by warning them of their mistakes due to their inexperience.
If your interest is in motorcycles, our class, Threading a Camel Through the Eye of a Needle, will teach you the essential basics in choosing which two lanes of vehicles to scoot between, how to judge the distance between them, which lane is likely moving the quickest, and when is the best time to take the sidewalk.
You’ll learn when and when not to close your eyes and hold your breath, that courage is your only option, and that every moment is an opportunity to pray for mercy and protection.
Finally, you’ll learn that a vehicle is merely a useful tool with which to move about and that dents and scratches are the Badges of Bravery that testify of your many successful arrivals to your destination.
If you’re interested in applying for admission to our school please phone our office at 1-800-DRV-ISRL.
I thought I'd be able to write every few days while here in Israel. It seems, however, that I haven't been able to get my thoughts together long enough to get them down.
Traveling with other people takes up a fair amount of space in my mind, not to mention all the different things and places we've experienced, leaving less time for ruminating. I want to tell you about where we've been, but I also want to try to express to you how it feels to be here.
For the first week and a half, it was pretty hot and humid ~ mid 80's, which is way out of the comfort zone for this cool weather Pacific North-westerner ~ but has cooled off into the mid 70's, thank goodness!
It didn't occur to me until this morning that we are at about 2500 feet in elevation here in Jerusalem, which also challenges my sea-level legs. All in all, I should be in better shape when I return home than when I arrived here.
This past Thursday we traveled to Itamar, a community just north of Jerusalem in Samaria, which was established in the mid-80's. We wanted to connect with Rabbi Moshe and Leah Goldsmith, who were one of the original families to establish the community. When we arrived, they embraced us with open arms, inviting us to enjoy snacks and drinks in their beautiful sukkah. Their hospitality was warm and generous.
When the community began, there was no water or electricity and they had to drive to Jerusalem for groceries. Over the years the families have developed their community to include raising chickens, organic gardening and a goat farm. Much of their abundant harvest is sold to markets in Tel Aviv. They have paid a dear price to redeem and hold on to this beautiful land, losing friends and families to various terrorist attacks.
Spreading over several hill tops, the highest point in the community is Mountain 866, named such because it is 866 meters, or 2841', feet above sea level. The military has placed a tower used to listen to cell activity all the way into Syria. This helps protect the county as a whole. At the top of 866, on a clear day - which for us it wasn't - one can see the Sea of Galilee to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the west and the Dead Sea to the south. Even though we were unable to see the seas, the view was wide open and spectacular looking over the stony hills, valley of olive trees and various communities.
Sitting here in our apartment this afternoon, the sliding door is open, a cool breeze flows through. Voices rise from the large sukkah below us, men singing in Hebrew, pounding the tables with enthusiasm and joy, jangling cutlery and dishes all part of the musical composition. I imagine they are songs of thankfulness for the blessings of this Holiday, provision from the Father, and the anticipation of their - and our - coming Messiah.
Blessings to all of you, as well... until next time!