Category Archives: Be Ready

The Root of the Madness

Since we lived in Indiana more than 30 years, people assume I am excited to hear that Indiana University is doing so well in the tournament. But, I grew up in North Carolina. And I grew up with a mom who was a North Carolina State fan – at least that’s what I grew up believing. And I have memories of staying up with her watching some very exciting games! That said – I am thrilled to hear that NC State is doing just as well as IU and UK (at least at the time of my writing).

I will always love North Carolina because that is where I am from (even though I spent more of my life in Indiana). And God is my creator – I am from Him and made for Him – so unless I am “in Him/with Him” life is just not satisfying. I can try to love IU and even be happy for their victories, but my heart always goes back to NC State. And I guess my love for NC State is more of a love of those memories of watching intense games and being so linked together in the joy of the victory with my mom. That time we had together way back in the 70’s was priceless.

Back to the idea of “being occupied with God” . . . How do we do that – practically speaking? We can try to make it happen just by “willing” it to be. But just like with basketball, I don’t think any of us gets excited, really excited over at team – to the point of spending years pulling for them whether they win or lose – unless we have some sort of a bond with them. And that bond does not just appear; it has developed.

It’s the same with our relationship with God. To be occupied with God requires just that! We need to be pursuing a relationship with Him. That involves spending time with Him – talking to Him and listening to Him. We need to tell Him that we love Him. We need to be looking for reasons to praise Him. Pray that He will wake you up each morning and when He does – start right away to talk to Him. Let Him be your first thought each morning. Fall asleep at night talking to Him. “Be occupied with Him.”

Love Him who first loved us. Love Him who came to us in our sin and loved us. Love Him who gave His all for us. Love Him who reached out and lifted us from the pit and set us in a spacious place because He delighted in us (Ps 18:19).

Keeping the Faith

Doug and I were at the end of our time in Charleston for Annie and John’s wedding. We had been preoccupied with the preparations for the wedding, spending time with family and shopping for chocolate chips. Though I still spent time in the Word each day, my thoughts were not often on spiritual things. The things I was enjoying were not bad things, but I could see that my desire to speak about Jesus to others was growing small. I commented to Doug that it is so true that our minds must be continually renewed by spending time reading the Bible and meditating on what God is saying or we grow cold. Becoming so indifferent or numb to spiritual matters happens so quickly. It is so natural (because of our sinful nature) that we are drawn to having our minds entertained and distracted from the reality of life.

I opened up my new book, Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray and saw these words, “be occupied with God.” March is here and Americans know what that means. Why do we not have the same stirring and excitement about our Savior as we do about March Madness? Could it be in part because we are not “occupied with God?” Are we filling our minds with so much other stuff and neglecting the source of satisfaction? “In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)

Instead of being conformed to this world – let us resolve to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Then meditating on/pondering what we read; worshipping God; confessing sins that are exposed through time in prayer, asking God to search our hearts; praising Him for His blessings; asking Him how to apply what was read.

Resolve to never again to walk away unchanged/unwashed by the Word.

What a Savior!

One Wednesday night at church we went through Ephesians 4:1-14 and really looked at each phrase. I thought the notes I took were worth sharing. So, here goes!
God the Father chose believers – those who are “in Christ” because of the work of Christ – God looks at us through the lens of Christ’s perfection – from eternity past He made this plan – that believers would be set apart for Himself – to be like Christ – spotless, righteous, acceptable, pleasing to the Father.

The Father chose believers to be adopted as sons – children of God – with the status of natural-born children – through the work of Jesus – because this is what God desired to do!

God did this with the goal of His beauty being admired – so that His kindness could be shown and known – believers are seen as pleasing, perfect, completely righteous in God’s sight – our position as perfect in Christ.

In Jesus we were bought back out of slavery to sin (now slaves to righteousness) by His giving His life on the cross as the payment of our debt to release us from obligation – legally pardon and redeem us – because of His abounding mercy, His costly kindness and favor and motivated by His abounding, unlimited loving kindness. Jesus did this not as a reaction or out of duty, but because it was according to His plan.

The Holy Spirit set us apart – secured – certified our position – predicted as certain to happen (as an engagement is to a wedding or a down payment as security of total payment) – that we will receive our portion of the riches that will come to us as members to the family of God when we are claimed at His return. This is ultimately so that His beauty, excellence, fame is worshipped, celebrated, honored, hoped in, loved.

After reading – are you amazed to see that we are the recipients of such kindness and extravagant love? He is the Giver!
“Sing praises to the LORD, O you His saints and give thanks to His holy name.” Psalm 29:4

Retreat and Reflect

If we are friends on FB, you have seen pics of our Victoria Falls trip.  It was truly a once in a lifetime trip thanks to Corryton Church.  The Victoria Falls were breathtaking.  Of course I spent a lot of time wondering how the first people discovered the falls.  Did they know that such a “loud noise” ahead is a signal to get out of the water!  Then there was the walking with the lions.  I am a lover of cats so this activity was a dream.  My own little Charlotte had just gone to cat heaven so I was in need of some time with cats.  The sunset cruise was so relaxing.  Seeing the wildlife was great, but my favorite part was just hearing the water and seeing the sunset.

After a trip like this, one would guess that I would come back feeling refreshed.  Au contraire!  I came back feeling “down” and empty actually.  I wonder if my “mood” is a reaction to the extravagance of the trip.  And maybe in part because I was disappointed that I did not share my faith with anyone in Zimbabwe.  I did have a conversation with a taxi driver about why Jesus came, but he seemed to already be firm in his faith.

I still do not really know why I am feeling this way.  But, if feeling down causes me to pray more and read my Bible more and examine my heart more . . .

I will trust in the Lord – the One who has never forsaken those who seek Him.

Motivation and Mission

While in the US I heard a sermon entitled “Motivation and Mission.” I was encouraged to examine my motivation for sharing the Gospel. Do I encourage others to seek a relationship with Jesus because that is what I am supposed to do? Or are my words coming from my worship?

Isaiah (26:8b and 9a) writes, “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts. My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for You.” Every time I read these scriptures I must search my heart and examine my daily walk. Do I have a deep yearning for God? Is making Him known the desire of my heart?

What will I say to someone today about Jesus? Will Jesus even be on my mind? When I spent time with Him this morning, was it just out of habit? Was it like a husband and wife sitting across the breakfast table from each other – each with their section of the newspaper – at times mentioning something they read? Maybe a quick mention of something that is needed to be brought home from the store. Or was it a deep conversation? As I read the Word, did I see God’s character, His care? Did I pour out my heart to Him or did I just read off a “grocery list” of needs to Him?

Today as God speaks to me through His Word – as Pastor Debruyn reminded me – as God “starts the conversation,” will I listen and respond to His Word with admiration and love? Will I see what a gracious privilege it is to hold a Bible in my hands that is in my language?

Will I have that sense of unworthiness as I am in His presence? Will I then be filled with worship, joy, gratitude as I am reminded that He has made me worthy – that because of Jesus’ death for me I am given His righteousness? And as I again ponder the love of God that He would send His Son, Jesus to die for my sin – will I overflow with such worship and joy that I cannot help but tell others?

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth; through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art;
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Hast Thou not bid me love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own, soul, heart and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross; there teach my heart to cling:
O let me seek Thee, and O let me find!

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love,
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The kindling of the heaven descended Dove,
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

(Spirit of God, Descent Upon My Heart   by George Croly  1854)

Your Heart will Throb and Swell with Joy

As I was re-reading Isaiah 60 (finishing up my Bible Study Fellowship lesson) I was drawn to verses 4 & 5a.  It says:  “Lift up your eyes and look about you:  All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm.  Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy . . .” 

It reminded me of Megan’s wedding day.  Seeing Megan walking down the aisle on Doug’s arm looking at Rick and Rick looking at her.  It made my heart throb and swell with joy.  But, it also takes my thoughts to that future day when we will be in heaven. 

Can you imagine what it will be like to look around and see people we have shared the gospel with or discipled?  Can you imagine the joy of seeing family members born long after we have left this earth who have come to the faith?  Or what will it be like to see people we prayed for but never saw them come to the Lord – yet, there they are.  Our prayers – answered – long after we ceased to live on this earth. 

I doubt that we will have even a fleeting moment’s thought of the house we left behind or our status at work or our bank account or even our lack of any of those things.  I think we will be filled to overflowing with joy because we are with Jesus and our loved ones are there with Jesus too. 

Doug and I went to Bruma Market on Saturday.  Looking at all the African crafts and talking with the craftsmen was such fun.  And the smells when we got to the food area.  Swarmas or I should say “the massive swarmas” freshly made – My first thought was “I wish ____ was here.”  It’s so exciting to see and experience all these things, but how much better they are when we can share them! 

So, would you pray for me and I will pray for you that we will today take our focus off of earthly things or our lack of earthly things and instead focus on Jesus.  Let’s take some time and really focus on why we love Him.  Then let’s tell others why we love Him.   Oh and let’s contemplate that day yet to come when we will be radiant and our hearts full of joy when we see the faces of sons and daughters in heaven!!   What a day of rejoicing that will be.  Sort of puts a song in my heart at this very moment – just thinking about it all!!

“Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, sing His mercy and His grace;  in the mansions bright and blessed, He’ll prepare for us a place.

While we walk the pilgrim pathway, clouds will overspread the sky;  but when trav’ling days are over, not a shadow, nor a sigh.

Let us then be true and faithful, trusting, serving ev’ry day;  just one glimpse of Him in glory will the toils of life repay.

Onward to the prize before us! Soon His beauty we’ll behold;  soon the pearly gates will open; we shall tread the streets of gold.

When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!  When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.”  (Eliza E. Hewitt)

He is THE Most High God

My idea to consolidate my studying/teaching has worked out great!  Our pastor is teaching through Daniel, so I am teaching Daniel at the settlement.  I never cease to be amazed at how practical the Bible is. 

Last week I taught about Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  At first I was a little nervous about trying to explain a history lesson and prophecy.  But on this continent it seems very easy to talk about the rise and fall of kingdoms and countries.  The impossibility of one man knowing another man’s dream brought wonder to the faces of the women.  God makes the impossible possible.

Today we read about the fiery furnace.  In preparing, I was reminded that the three men were real actual men – not just storybook characters.  These men were willing to die for their faith.  I began to wonder what would be easier:  a. to die for your Creator, Savior and Lord.  b. to live with the knowledge that you denied your Creator, Savior and Lord. 

As I looked over the chapter again, I saw that when the 3 men were thrown into the furnace they had quite a large audience.  All the important people of the kingdom were there.  These were the people the king had brought in to see his statue and to worship it.  Can you imagine the thrill of walking out of that furnace knowing that your courage to be a “consistent monotheist” had brought such honor and glory to your Creator, Savior and Lord? 

I was reading the Foxnews homepage this morning and saw an article about some modern day Hananiah, Mishael and Azariahs (“The Lord shows grace”, “Who is what God is?” and “The Lord helps”).  In Ethiopia Christians are being given the opportunity to stand up for Jesus – “A Christian was sentenced to three years in prison in November for allegedly writing ‘Jesus is the Lord’ in a copy of the Koran, Compass Direct News reported. Christians from the area told the website he had actually written the phrase on a piece of cloth.  Sources also told Compass, authorities had offered to release the man, Tamirat W., if he would convert to Islam, but he refused.  Additionally, two of his friends were fined for visiting him in prison and taking him food, Compass Direct reported.”  Pray for these three Christians as they bring honor and glory to the Most High God. 

Sometimes I wonder if we forget that the God who stood with Daniel, Hananniah, Mishael, Azariah and Tamirat is the same God who desires to stand with us as we stand for Him! 

“Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, He will come with vengeance; with divine retribution He will come to save you.  Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped . . .” Isaiah 35:3+

Different Yet Not So Different

One Saturday we went with friends from the office to see some sights in Pretoria.  From the Union Building downtown we could see a monument on a hill several miles away.  Our “tour guide par excellent”, decided we should make the drive and find it. 

The Vortrekker Monument was massive.  It was built as a tribute to the Pioneer history of Southern Africa and the history of Afrikaners (European settlers from mainly Netherlands and France).  It was so interesting to see how similar these pioneers’ lives were to American pioneers going west. 

Their covered wagons looked to a great extent the same as our pioneers’ except the wheels seemed to be much larger.  The women wore the same dresses and bonnets.  The Bibles we saw were massive – maybe 2’ X 1’ and about 1’ thick – we were not sure exactly why they were so large.  But all in all the history of this country seems so similar to that of the US.

At church the following day, a man gave his testimony.  He grew up in a “blended family” with a very large number of siblings, in a township, under Apartheid for most of his life.  Yet, he came to know Christ in the say way I did – He was convicted of his sin and his need for a Savior. 

Every person on this earth today is alike in that we all need Jesus.  How often do I look at someone and not see their need for The Savior.  Jesus came to a lost world to freely offer salvation.  He came and gave His life for every man – from the homeless, country-less illegal alien to the post-modern living in Europe, Asia, Africa or America.  I know I can’t share what Jesus has done for me with everyone but am I sharing with anyone? 

We may all have different backgrounds and experiences but we all face the same future – we will all stand before Jesus one day.

God’s Amazing Attention to Detail

Ok, so I’m reading along in the book of Isaiah. . .

 I come to that well known verse, “The Lord Himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son and will call Him Immanuel.”  It is a wonderful prophecy and seeing the “double fulfillment” in their near present history and then future when Jesus was born was pretty exciting.  However, I must confess I did wonder and think it was sort of a “random” prophecy.  It seemed to be a prophecy that comes “out of nowhere” – what I’m trying to say is, why did God put that particular prophecy in that particular place in the book. 

It’s not random at all.  King Rezin of Aram (Syria) and King Pekah of Israel had plans to attack Judah and place a person of their choosing on the throne, thus ending the kingly line of David.  This prophecy was to be a comfort to the king of Judah that God was in control and would keep His promise to David.

Then comes the prophecy, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light . . .”  I get to verse 4 of chapter 9 (For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, You have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressors.”).  I went back to Judges (chapter 7) to read about the defeat of the Midianites. 

I admit that my mind sometimes works in strange ways.  But my first thought was, did God have Gideon use the torch under the jar method so He could then use it as a “word picture “here?  Or did He use it here because it enhanced the imagery of His prophecy?

Gideon’s army shattered those jars and the darkness became light and the enemy was defeated.  Jesus, the Light of the World has shattered our darkness and broken the yoke of the enemy!  We no longer have to be slaves to sin because The Child was born!  What more is needed!

As believers, He is our:

 Wonderful Counselor – He will give us excellent, perfect counsel with amazing wisdom.

Mighty God – All powerful, supreme, sovereign.  He will accomplish all that He has in mind to do.  All knees will bow before Him.

Everlasting Father – He will continually care for His children; He will never remove His love and will guide us, discipline us, protect and teach His children.

Prince of Peace – He will bring perfect peace to believers’ hearts and ultimately to the world – as He reigns in our hearts and eventually sits on the Throne of David!

(Isaiah 7:14; 9:14, 6-7)

From City to City

During Communion Service, Pastor DeBruyn directed us to Hebrews 13:11-14.  He pointed out from verse 12 that Jesus was crucified “outside the city.”  Jesus’ death on the cross “outside the city” fulfilled God’s requirement for atonement for sin.  Verse 13 says we should now also go “outside the camp” and willingly bear the disgrace He bore.  We should walk with Him; never ashamed, but always ready to voice the reason for our hope.  

There is no need to stay “inside the city.” Life is no longer filled with “working and striving.”  Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30)  We no longer have to “do” in order to have a relationship with Jesus.  Jesus did all that was necessary.  Within the Temple within the city of Jerusalem, sacrifices were being made continually.   Praise God there is no longer any sacrifice for sin!  Jesus sacrificed for our sins once for all when He offered Himself.  (Hebrews 7:27b)

 Verse 14 mentions looking for “a city that is to come – an enduring city.”  Looking for that city took me to Psalm 84:5-7 (with thanks to Dauw for reminding me of this great Psalm).  The idea of wandering – with purpose – seeking to find that city – heading out on a pilgrimage!  Wikipedia defines pilgrimage as, “a long journey or search of great moral significance.”  What could have greater significance than a pilgrimage that ends with us face to face before God in Zion!  Living within walled yards here in Jo’burg has given me an appreciation for freedom to roam!  We have been set free to travel!!  (Just don’t forget that we will all stand face to face before God in heaven – make sure you are ready to tell Him the reason for your hope of eternity in heaven!)

Back to Psalm 84:5-7 . . . “Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca (literally “tears”), they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”  As we walk with Jesus, “willingly bearing the disgrace He bore” we are not promised an easy life.  We will pass through deep valleys where there will be shedding of tears.  I have been there and I am sure you have been there as well.  Those tears turn to times of refreshing ultimately as we spend time with our Savior.  We look back on those days and see how we were kept as we poured out our tears and our hearts to Him. 

The writer of Hebrews reminds us in 13:15-16, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess His name  And do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  As we walk through those hard times, when it is hard to praise God – that is exactly what we must do!  Offer that sacrifice of praise to Him who gave His all for us!  And what is the best thing that we can “share with others” but our faith in Jesus “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)  Can’t wait to see you in that crowd as we are face to face with Jesus at the throne of God in the New Jerusalem!

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