Christianity

Letters

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Good morning, beloved,

Slangkop Lighthouse, near Kommetjie, South Africa. .Photo by Dewet

I received a letter recently. I love receiving letters, handwritten. Isn’t there something just lifting to open the mailbox and receive something other than bills and advertisements? I try keep all my letters. I have a stack of letters in my closet from when I was in college. I remember when I was little being so excited to receive letters from my Grandma. She would send me cute little cards and for certain holidays like Valentine’s day I would get a dollar. That was cool. My brother, when he was very little, sent a card back to my Grandma with a dollar bill for her. He was so thankful for the money she had always sent him so he wanted to return the favor.

Thank you notes, invitations, love letters, newsletters, etc.,  all contain a stated purpose.  Notice, in each, you will find greetings. Maybe a small blessing upon you. Maybe a reminder of what you mean to the writer. As Paul opens his letter to the Ephesians, he begins with his hope for them, for you.

Ephesians 1: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace (charis), Paul craves for [his] readers the favor (grace) of God…to which all blessings, esp., spiritual are due. (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, blb.org) May I just share something with you? I long to know His grace, long to understand the favor bestowed upon me because of Jesus, I long to remember in times of great trial, He is the author of all blessings. Paul craves. Think about the last time you craved something. For me, there are times I crave time alone. Crave some food or dessert. It becomes a center focus. I think more about that craving than anything else. So Paul had a singular mind to guide the beloved to understand the grace extended. I wish I could say I crave things like this. How about you?

Peace (eirēnēof Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.

Remember that song, Peace Like A River? I’ve got peace like a river (repeat, repeat, repeat), in my soul. We would sing this with motions, but I don’t know that I ever connected, as a child, with the idea of His peace flowing through me like a river.

Elwy River, Cefn. Photo: Francis Bedford (1816-1894), 1860s.

Can you connect with the idea of His peace? His tranquility. Paul longed for his readers to grasp the peace available.

Ephesians 3: 4 ·If you read what I wrote then [or By reading this], you can see that I truly understand the ·secret [mystery] ·about [or revealed by; or that consists of; L of] ·Christ [or the Messiah].5 ·People [L The sons of men; C a Hebrew way of referring to people] who lived in other ·times[generations] were not told that secret. But now, through the Spirit, God has ·shown [revealed] that secret to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 This is that ·secret [mystery]: that through the ·Good News [Gospel] the Gentiles ·will share with the Jews in God’s blessing [L are co-heirs]. They belong to the same body, and they share together in the promise that God made in Christ Jesus.

Paul was revealing part of the mystery of Christ! Truly! We (the Gentiles, now Jews) share in God’s blessings. We are co-heirs. We are joined together because of the promise in Christ Jesus.

This is why we need to be on the floor praying diligently for our brothers and sisters in Israel.

Ephesians 4: 12 ·Christ gave those gifts to prepare [L …to equip]God’s holy people for the work of serving, to make the body of Christ stronger.

To equip, a fitting or preparing fully. We have been given all we need to encourage one another through serving. And why do we have these gifts? To bring glory to ourselves? Nah, we are to make the body of Christ stronger. Do you get the sense that Paul longs for unity among the believers? Why? I don’t think it is just to encourage and uplift one another, but to be a community that welcomes those who do not know Jesus. People would crave to know the grace and peace that lives in us!

Ephesians 6:19 Also pray for me that when I ·speak [L open my mouth], God will give me words so that I can tell the ·secret [mystery] of the ·Good News [Gospel] ·without fear [confidently; boldly]. 20 ·For this Good News […for which] I am an ambassador in ·prison [L chains; 3:1]. Pray that I will speak ·it [or for him;or in him] ·without fear [boldly; confidently], as I should.

This prayer that Paul asked to be prayed on his behalf? Yea, that needs to be our prayer. That when we open our mouths we will speak the Good News. Boldly.

Bold Peak, in the Chugach Range of Alaska, as seen from a hanging valley below Thunderbird Peak. Photo by Paxson Woelber

We run with endurance the race set before us! Thank God we have the letters of Paul! Thank God Paul was given this gift of letter writing. Each is precious to  our faith and hope. We can hold tight to the promises found in Ephesians and I look forward to continuing to unwrap Ephesians!

Thankfuls:

278. As I work through this book, I am following a book called Glorious Grace by Lara Williams. So thankful for her guidance.

279. Thankful for time by a lake yesterday with my friend.

280. Thankful that God give beauty for ashes.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

To be with you…

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Egyptian camel transport passing over Olivet, 1918 Photo restoration by American Colony Jerusalem

Good morning beloved,

Today I felt a blanket of sadness and overwhelmedness (yes, it’s a word in Cara’s dictionary..) cover me from head to food. I woke up with grief about relationships and worry for the year ahead of homeschooling. I longed to download with my husband..ran out of time. I watched my children begin their descent into bickering. Honestly, my thoughts couldn’t have dug me any deeper, until I was reminded of a powerful truth by Ann Voskamp:

Give thanksLike a breath of fresh air, I remembered. I recalled. And the blanket has begun to fall by the wayside. You see, I began to see things in a new light. The kids began to play with the dog…together. We are teaching her to roll over and today, she is really getting it! Very fun. I was reminded of the honor of our friends’ request. I am reminded of the honor of being asked to help. Reminded of how far my boy has come.

I begin to give thanks, for His love endures forever.

33 Then the trees of the forest will ·sing [shout; cry out]
for joy before the Lord.
·They will sing because [For] he is coming to judge the ·world [earth].

34 Thank the Lord because he is good.
His ·love [steadfast love; lovingkindness] ·continues [endures] forever.
35 Say to him, “Save us, God ·our Savior [of our salvation],
and ·bring us back and save [gather and rescue] us from ·other [the] nations.
Then we will thank ·you [your holy name]
and ·will gladly praise you [glory in your praise].” 1 Chronicles 16 EXB

Worries pile up. They don’t have to.. we allow it. We allow the accusations to filter in. We have a choice.

you can listen for the music of nature. The wind whistling. The birds joining the chorus…the waves crashing. Give thanks.

For He is good. Remember. He is good.

His love endures forever. And ever. And ever. And ever.

It stretches higher and longer, friends. We have His manifest presence with us all the time. This song grips me and shakes me.

I am loved. Me! I am loved. I may not understand all but He gave it all.

You are loved. Give thanks.

Pray on.

 

 

 

Fill

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Liverpool Waterfront at Sunrise – Dave Wood, Liverpool Pictorial

God, my heart is ·steady [steadfast; ready].
I will sing and ·praise [play a psalm for] you ·with all my being [L as will my soul/or glory].
Wake up, harp and lyre!
I will wake up the dawn.
Lord, I will ·praise [thank] you among the ·nations [peoples];
I will sing ·songs of praise [psalms] about you to all the nations.
Your great ·love [loyalty] ·reaches to [is greater than] the ·skies [heavens],
your ·truth [faithfulness] to the heavens.
God, you are ·supreme [exalted] above the ·skies [heavens].
Let your glory [C manifest presence] be over all the earth [57:5–11]. Psalm 108 EXB

Awake ! One of the stanzas of A Morning Prayer by Thomas Ken stands out to me today.

Lord, I my vows to thee renew; disperse my sins as morning dew; guard my first springs of thought and will, and with thyself my spirit fill.

Fill.

[L But] We have this treasure ·from God, but we are like clay jars that hold the treasure [L in clay jars]. This shows that the ·great [extraordinary; transcendent] power is from God, not from us. We have ·troubles all around us [or all kinds of troubles/trials], but we are not ·defeated [crushed]. We ·do not know what to do [are perplexed/bewildered], but we do not ·give up the hope of living[despair]. 2 Corinthians 4 EXB

We cry out to be filled. And so much can fill us, but today? Today, let us choose to be filled with His Spirit.

Let us give thanks.

I will praise (thank) You!

Hang on to your hearts. I realized that my last two blog posts didn’t have my thankfuls..

249. A son captured by a book

250. A son worshipping upstairs

251. A daughter and son sleeping peacefully

252. My mom finishing my laundry

253. My dad being here, listening

254. Community in the church

255. Solutions

256. Good talks with family

257. Playing games last night

Fill, Lord, Fill us with You.

Pray on. Pray on.

 

 

Mud pits

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Passion week has kinda crept up on me. If I still my soul, if I stay calm, I know that there is so much more to this life than I am allowing. This idea that I love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength leaves little room for fear, doubt and worry in me. I sit here wondering what if, what if it is that simple and I have made it so much more. I cling to worry about my husband’s job, our car falling apart, our children, how people view me and all of a sudden I’ve crowded out every image of the Lord in my life. I am just rolling through each emotion.

James 1 puts it in a new light for me:

12 ·When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy [L Blessed is the one who perseveres endures trials/temptations]. After they have ·proved their faith[stood/endured/passed the test], ·God will reward them with life forever [Lthey will receive the crown of life; C alludes to the laurel crown given for a victory]. ·God [L He] promised this to all those who love him. 13 When people are ·tempted [undergoing a trial], they should not say, “God is tempting me.”[L For] God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But ·people are[L each person is] tempted when their own evil desire ·leads [lures; drags] them away and ·traps[entices; lures] them. 15 ·This desire leads to sin [L Then, after desire is conceived, it gives birth to sin], and then the sin ·grows [or becomes full-grown] and ·brings [gives birth to] death.

Today is an open slate, my friends. Today is the day He has made and He asks us to come and rejoice in it. Be glad. I can be paralyzed or I can extend my hand to joy. We are promised nothing about material success, however if we remain strong during the storms and trials, we can be happy, be blessed. Am I reading that right?

I get so focused on now. Or the future. Ugh! One day I’m going to stand before my Savior and see how all the pieces of my life fit together. Do we understand that these emotions of fear, worry and doubt are sin? I keep getting this image in my mind of me playing in a pit of mud (my worries, my fears and my doubts) and the Lord is extending His clean, beautiful hand to me saying, “Come out, come here, come clean” and I keep splashing in the mud because I can’t let go of fear. And I can’t, you can’t. We cannot do this on our own.

I waited patiently for the Lord.
He ·turned [bent down; inclined; stooped] to me and heard my cry.
He ·lifted [drew] me out of the pit of ·destruction [or desolation],
out of the ·sticky mud [miry/muddy pit/bog/swamp].
He ·stood me [L placed my feet] on a rock
and made my ·feet [L step] steady.
He put a new song [C celebrating victory; 33:396:198:1144:9149:1Is. 42:10Rev. 5:9;14:3] in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God. Psalm 40 EXB

Get out of that pit, Cara! Allow Him to lift us out of the pit. Allow Him to put our feet on a rock. Give Him a chance to make our feet steady. (Not in our circumstances, or status, or anything else but Him) I’ve heard it said that God is a gentleman. He will not push Himself in. I like that. God wants to put new songs in my mouth, your mouth. Sing for joy. He puts new songs in my mouth. Your mouth. Celebrate the victories! Ever notice how this Psalm has the writer waiting patiently? Friends, He is here now. He is just waiting to be asked in. He hears our cries. He responds and now we respond back. Do we just cycle through the worries in our prayers or have our prayers become an opportunity to praise Him?

Sing a new song [C celebrating victory; 40:396:198:1144:9149:1Is. 42:10Rev. 5:9;14:3] to him;
play well ·and joyfully [with a loud/a victory shout].
God’s word is ·true [upright; virtuous],
and everything he does is ·right [faithful].
He loves what is right and ·fair [just];
the Lord’s ·love [loyalty; covenant love] fills the earth. Psalm 33 EXB

Friends, in the midst of our trials, songs of truth and praise can fill our mouths. Rather than sadness and worry lines filling our faces, allow His truths to smooth the lines. So as I begin my day, I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me. I ask that His word come alive in me, my words to my children, to my husband. Jesus has the victory! He has won over sin and death and here we are wringing our hands with our circumstances. Mercy, I have a chance to bring Him glory today! I have a chance to stand on the rock and invite those around me to be lifted up. Join in singing the anthem of the Lord’s renown!

The earth is filled with His glory. Filled. Seriously!

So, as it is Holy Week starting tomorrow, I want to focus my blog on Him. Not my circumstances, but His glory, His revelation in the power of Jesus Christ. So, want to join me? Pray with me.

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Thy precious time misspent, redeem,
Each present day thy last esteem,
Improve thy talent with due care;
For the great day thyself prepare.

By influence of the Light divine
Let thy own light to others shine.
Reflect all Heaven’s propitious ways
In ardent love, and cheerful praise.

In conversation be sincere;
Keep conscience as the noontide clear;
Think how all seeing God thy ways
And all thy secret thoughts surveys.

Wake, and lift up thyself, my heart,
And with the angels bear thy part,
Who all night long unwearied sing
High praise to the eternal King.

All praise to Thee, who safe has kept
And hast refreshed me while I slept
Grant, Lord, when I from death shall wake
I may of endless light partake.

Heav’n is, dear Lord, where’er Thou art,
O never then from me depart;
For to my soul ’tis hell to be
But for one moment void of Thee.

Lord, I my vows to Thee renew;
Disperse my sins as morning dew.
Guard my first springs of thought and will,
And with Thyself my spirit fill.

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
All I design, or do, or say,
That all my powers, with all their might,
In Thy sole glory may unite.

I would not wake nor rise again
And Heaven itself I would disdain,
Wert Thou not there to be enjoyed,
And I in hymns to be employed.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Let’s do this day, friends, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Pray on.  Oh wait! My thankfuls!

233. God’s wisdom revealed in the Scriptures speaking life this morning.

234. Thankful for a day with my kids, as I pray for these precious kids with cancer that kills the body, I pray for these families. Moms and Dads who cling to the now with their precious babes.

235. Thankful for a dog who just makes me smile.

Pray on! Pray on!

 

Worship. Worship. Worship!

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NGC 2467 and Surroundings by ESO

Good morning, beloved!

How’s that for a statement? Exclamation point! Ha! Take that stress! I wake up in the knowledge that I am loved by Creator God who makes such stunning displays of beauty. He reigns.

I remember when this song came out, my kids would belt this song out and one day I asked them what it meant that He reigns. O, Mom, you know, it means we are so thankful that it “rains”.  The song  takes on some interesting new connotations…

My kids all have certain ways that they like to go to bed. We have routines. They don’t like falling asleep without them. As they get older, the need for a certain routine seems to fade but the younger ones need the stability. Love you, see you in the morning, have a good night, it’s going to be a good night…repeated by each of them (well, except for my eldest). Each need, I believe, the assurance that they are loved.

When my world is caving in, I need reassurances that no matter how much rain falls, my God reigns. He makes it rain. He made this world.

The Lord ·is king [reigns; 47:296:1097:198:699:1Rev. 19:6]. He is ·clothed [robed] in majesty.
The Lord is ·clothed [robed] in majesty
and ·armed [girded] with strength.
The world is ·set [established],
and it ·cannot be moved [will not totter].
Lord, your ·kingdom [L throne] was ·set up [established] long ago;
you are everlasting. Psalm 93 EXB

Tears may flow from my eyes from life’s messes but I know, I know, I declare that my God is faithful! He is Lord Almighty!

My Pandora mix today are all these songs. I think maybe my Lord wants to me remember this all. SO I’m sharing these songs because they are such good reminders. Remember, beloved. Nothing compares to His embrace. Light of the World He forever rains. (Just kidding..)

·Worship [Bow down to] the Lord ·because he is holy [L in the splendor of his holiness].
Tremble before him, everyone on earth.
10 Tell the nations, “The Lord ·is king [reigns; 47:293:197:198:699:1Rev. 19:6].”
The earth is ·set [established], and it cannot be moved. Psalm 96 EXB

Worship Him. Tell the world that our Lord is King.

There was a whole lotta hoopla about History Channel’s The Bible debut of Satan this week. That the man’s makeup is designed to make him look like Obama. Whatever. For my brain, remembering that our God’s power is triumphant. Are Satan’s tactics hard to cope with? Yes. God lifts us higher. Lifts you higher than your circumstances.

So my thankfuls today:

230. A beautiful bathroom painted by my lovely Mother..

231. A neighbor who brought me yummy slippers and workout pants.

232. What’s In the Bible with Buck Denver..what a gift.

Praying for our Pastors and their wives:

Pray that your pastor and his wife will practice servant leadership, edifying the congregation with wisdom and serving with God’s “agape” love. (Gal. 5:13b; Eph. 6:7; Mark 10:43b-45, 9:23-24; John 13:5-9; Phil. 2:3-4) (ROH)

God bless you today..pray on. Pray on.

 

Worship

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Šmarjetna gora, view towards Škofja Loka, Slovenia. Photo by Mihael Grmek

Good morning, beloved,

I took a walk the other day, alone. Nothing too spectacular about this, other than as I was praying out loud, I was led to sing. So I began to sing, at first, self consciously. Then I began to sing from my soul, instead of my brain. As we (Starburst and I) turned the corner, I heard some birds singing along with me. I stopped to listen to them. And they stopped. So I began and so did these little treasures. I stopped. They stopped. And I was reminded, all the earth will sing Your praises. Some of the earth decided to join my worship.

I need to keep singing. I desire my mind to settle on Him, to bring my harried soul to rest upon Him. Can we do it? Rather than allow my prayers to be about me, worshiping first. Worshiping last.

So I begin today with thanks and praise. I have to, I have to put my mind on Him.

He put a new song [C celebrating victory; 33:396:198:1144:9149:1Is. 42:10Rev. 5:9;14:3] in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many people will see this and ·worship [fear] him.
Then they will ·trust [find refuge in] the Lord.

·Happy [Blessed] is the person
who ·trusts [finds refuge in] the Lord,
who doesn’t turn to those who are proud
or to those who ·worship [go astray to] ·false gods [L a lie].
Lord my God, you have done many ·miracles [wonders; great acts].
Your plans for us are many.
If I tried to tell them all,
there would be too many to count [104:24139:17–18John 21:25]. Psalm 40 EXB

Trust. Refuge. Worship.

Full rainbow taken in Clacton-On-Sea in Essex UK Photo by Danesman1

I see this rainbow and see God’s grace over our land. Undeserved, yet given.

My thankfuls today:

217. Thankful for God’s grace as my symptoms are returning.

218. Thankful for beautiful sunrises.

219. Thankful for groceries being delivered.

Pray for your Pastor and his wife…today I”m praying for strength in the day today, for His Spirit to fill these two precious people, for God’s blessing upon this family.

Pray on. Pray on. And worship. Worship Him!

 

 

 

Awake

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Dawn at Swifts Creek. Photo by Fir0002/Flagstaffotos

Good morning, beloved,

How do you understand a peaceful, quiet, restful day when the day earlier was the antithesis? Grateful. I begin thinking what did I do differently? Questioning. Not sure, wondering. So I begin with…

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
thy daily stage of duty run;
shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise
to pay thy morning sacrifice.

Lord, I my vows to thee renew;
disperse my sins as morning dew;
guard my first springs of thought and will,
and with thyself my spirit fill.

Five Vows for Spiritual Power by A.W. Tozer ( Powerful..please take some time)

Direct, control, suggest, this day,
all I design or do or say;
that all my powers, with all their might,
in thy sole glory may unite.

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
praise him, all creatures here below;
praise him above, ye heavenly host:
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

To praise: 2 express one’s respect and gratitude towards (a deity), especially in song:we praise God for past blessings (Oxford Dictionary)

My thankfuls today (what are yours?)

211. For my parents coming and helping us.

212. For dear friends’ blessings.

213. For loaves (notice plural) of bread in the freezer.

For our Pastors and their wives:

Ask God to protect your pastor from the evil plots of Satan. Pray that he will not be corrupted as he rubs shoulders with the world in the course of ministry. (John 17:15; Is. 54:17; 2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Pet. 3:12; Ps. 9:9-10, 91:9-11) (Revive Our Hearts)

Pray on. Pray on.