The most powerful thing about the Bible is that it is not neutral---in fact, there is no such position as a "neutral" one. One way or another, we must all contend with its claims. To not make a decision about whether or not it will serve as the authority for your life is, in fact, to decide against it. - Greg Hall in Already Compromised, co-authored with Ken Ham, published by Master Books

Monday, April 26, 2010

Oooh, that smell!

Oh, how I love South Louisiana!  It truly is God's country.  Okay, so really, it's all God's country, but you get my drift!

As I was driving this evening through one of my favorite areas of this United States, I was once again struck by...well...so much.  See, I had my sun/moonroof open as I was traveling along the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge (all 18.2 miles of it) through the swamps of South Louisiana.  All around me was water and cypress trees.  Thanks to some extremely brave and talented bridge builders, I am able to drive right through the swamp! 

What a sight!  What a sound!  What a smell! 

No, seriously!  I actually find that I like certain unusual smells...call me crazy.  Maybe it's because they remind me of where I am, kind of like the way the smell of home is so comforting.  Yes, the smell of the swamp, to me, is familiar and enjoyable.  True, to some the smell of the swamp is more like a stench.  But for me...well, I guess when you live in New Jersey for two years and in no way get any subtle hint of a wiff of the smell of the swamp you really treasure it when you do. 

No matter what the aroma, it can truly be a sweet aroma to the one who is fond of it.  I suppose pleasurable scent is in the nose of the smeller!  (That's my phrase...don't steal it!  Just kidding!) 

But, seriously, think about it.  No matter how funky you may feel, no matter how "up with the times" or "down and out" you may consider yourself to be...you, too, may be a sweet aroma to someone, and you most likely are!  As a matter of fact, if you think I'm just saying this to make you feel better or even that I'm just making this up...try this one on for size...

"For we are the sweet fragrance of Christ unto God, among those who are being saved..."(2 Corinthians 2:15) 

And, here's a little more for you to chew on..."In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse (a fatal odor, the smell of doom).  This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No— but at least we don't take God's Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ's presence when we speak; God looks us in the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we can."  (2 Corinthians 2:14-17, The Message with addition from the Amplified in Italics)  WOW! 

So...like the swamp...to some people I may be a sweet aroma, one full of life and refreshing, while at the same time to others I may be a stench, a fatal odor, the smell of doom!  I hope I am refreshing to you, but if not...know this...just because the "odor" seems fatal and full of doom, it is not!  Let it be a wake-up call to arouse you into digging deeper. 

There IS hope!!!  That is why I am here...to tell you about the Hope that I have...the very reason I, as imperfect as I am, am a refreshing and sweet aroma of life to some.  I have a Hope that you too can have.  He is Christ.  By knowing me and/or reading what I am sharing here, I pray that you realize that the person you know and what you read is all because of Who He is in me.  What you are drawn to about me as a person and in my writing is not me, but it is Jesus living in and through me and using me to draw you to Him as well.  Please, don't let me keep being that stench of doom to you. 

Let go of your strongholds of "I can't accept something as truth that I cannot explain nor fully understand." 
Let go of "What will....think about me if I give in to this!?!" 
Let go of "I don't want to hear I told you so." 
Let go of it all and let Him show you the depth of love and compassion He has for you. 

You are flawed, He knows that. 

Admit it. 

You nor I deserve what He has done for us and what He offers freely to us. 

So what if you've royally blown it with a big portion of your life...so have I. 

Admit to Him that you are a sinner, as we all come into this world since Adam, and let go of trying to make yourself feel better about it by either avoiding the elephant in the room by acting like you don't care or by trying so hard to make up for it by doing stuff on your own that will just never measure up.  It won't.  You won't.  Not on your own. 

You nor I are perfect.  We need a perfect, sinless, pure, spotless Lamb to be sacrificed on our behalf so that His blood can cover over all of our sin and render us forever clean.  Guess what!  That Lamb has already been sacrificed and that blood shed LONG ago...long before you ever knew you were in need of it. 

Now, He is offering you the opportunity to let go of all of your excuses and "reasons" for denying Him and His Love Gift for you for so long and He is drawing you to just say it!  Just say you believe it.  Just say you believe in Him and what He did for you and for me.  You know He did.  "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved."  (Romans 10:9-10) 

You know deep down in your heart it is true.  He created you to have that little part of you that senses something about this all is really true.  The question is whether or not you will go with that tugging...or keep avoiding it.  Give up the struggle now.  You won't regret it.  "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."  (1 John 1:8-9)

To quote someone who I just heard speak this week, "Truth can either convict and then set free, or it can simply convict."  I pray you will let THE Truth set you free today...right now.  "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"  (John 14:6)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Asparagus

Delicious green stalks lightly seasoned and cooked to perfection...mmmmm...asparagus.

Have you ever grown asparagus?  Neither have I...

But, my in-laws are currently growing it, and I must say it is quite interesting.  (For those of you new to this blog...no, it is not about food nor cooking...the big decision to which the blog name refers is not "What should I make for dinner?"  Look back at one of my very first posts  - the one titled "What's with the name!?!" and you'll find out more about the name of this blog.)

Anyway, back to delectable asparagus...

So, did you know that when you want to grow asparagus and grow it correctly you can't even harvest any of it for about 3 years!?!  Yeah, I know!  I have a hard enough time planting seeds or bulbs and waiting for them to grow (hence, why I don't do that very often).  Wait for THREE YEARS!?!  What!?!

Yes, you have to build a special kind of bed.  Then, you have to of course plant them a certain way.  Then...the waiting.  Oh, now what really makes it worse, in my opinion, is that you actually have to watch them grow each year and wait until their growing season is over, then you have to cut them down and THROW THEM AWAY!  You see, they tell me that the reason you have to do this special LONG process is because you have to let them establish their roots...and very well, at that!  Then, after the roots have had plenty of time to become...well...rooted, then you can begin to enjoy them each season as you have longed to do for soooo long!

Okay, well, I guess I won't be trying to grow asparagus for a while, seeing as how we tend to find ourselves moving long before that 3-year-mark!  Oh, well...one day maybe.

In the meantime, I'll enjoy home-grown asparagus sometime next year when we come for dinner sometime during their growing season.

I just had to share all of this about asparagus because it kind of struck me today as something of a similarity to life.  As hard as it was for me to look at the perfect-looking asparagus stalks earlier this season and know I could not just cut them off and take them inside right then and go cook them for dinner...how much harder is it to wait for so many other things in life?  Just like the asparagus has to establish firmly grounded roots, we have to do the same as well.  Something may seem just right and perfect right now...I may feel sooo ready and prepared and sure about something...BUT, sometimes I need to let things wait.  I need to let my roots get established and strengthened.  I may feel ready and prepared, but just a little longer...or maybe even a lot longer...may truly provide strength and wisdom that I do not yet have.  I need to trust His timing and His plan, as He has proven time and time again in my life. 

That asparagus, by the way, would taste fine right now.  That's not the point.  It would be instanly gratifying...does that sound all-too-familiar!?!  The point of waiting is that, if we did cut the asparagus right now and enjoy it for dinner tonight, we may never have another good asparagus season in the years that follow.  Who knows?  Maybe one more season, maybe not.  Ultimately, because the roots did not have their time to get established as they needed to do, the bed would begin to fail to produce asparagus in the near future. 

Hmmm....again...draw your own comparisons with that one...

Instant gratification for the here-and-now,
or
firmly established roots for a flourishing and satisfying crop for seasons to come!?! 

What's your choice?

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
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,
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.

What does the worker gain from his toil?
I have seen the burden God has laid on men.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men;
yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.
That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God.
I know that everything God does will endure forever;
nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.
God does it so that men will revere him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

Monday, April 12, 2010

The "S" Word

Not the "S" word you're thinking about, but this one is just as bad to many of our young children if we have trained them to think so.  STUPID...yep, that "S" word.

Well, as I was starting my work day I decided to quickly look over the Proverb and Psalm for today and was struck by the 1st verse in Proverb 12. 

"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid." (Proverb 12:1)

So, where does that put you!?!  I know it hits me square between the eyes. 

I, as a human, do stupid things a lot, even when I try so hard not to.  But, the key is to recognize when you've done that and ask forgiveness from the person or people you may have wronged by your stupidity.  Confess it to God knowing and being very thankful that you are already forgiven by His blood that was shed on the cross long before you were on this earth acting stupid.  Then, move on!  Don't dwell on it.  Take the correction and discipline you rightfully deserve...learn from it...grow...and move on.

More Proverbs du jour...

"The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them." (Proverb 12:6)

"A man is praised according to his wisdom, but men with warped minds are despised." (Proverb 12:8)

"An evil man is trapped by his sinful talk, but a righteous man escapes trouble."  (Proverb 12:13)

"From the fruit of his lips a man is filled with good things as surely as the work of his hands rewards him."  (Proverb 12:14)

"A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult."  (Proverb 12:16)

"A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself, but the heart of fools blurts out folly." (Proverb 12:23)

"An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up."  (Proverb 12:25)

I left out some really good ones...just go read all of Proverb 12...and read a chapter of Proverbs a day (by the date that matches the number of the chapter)...you'll really like it!

And, then to top it all off...when I read Psalm 12 today...it continued with the theme of stupid speech and lying and all.  But, what stood out most to me was the 6th verse...

"And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times."  (Psalm 12:6)

Our Lord's words are flawless and pure words! 

He knows we make stupid mistakes even when we thought we had already learned that lesson and were standing firm.  "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"  (1 Corinthian 10:12)  And, He has already forgiven us and provided a way for us to "shake it off" and move on...just pray for Him to show you that way and when you see it...take it!  "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."  (1Corinthians 10:13)

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."  (Colossians 4:6)

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."  (Psalm 19:14)



May your words today be "seasoned with salt", "full of grace", and pleasing to the Lord as well as to those around you. 

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Comic Relief courtesy of Easter

Ok, Easter is really a serious and holy time of year...and I in no way am intending to make any fun of Easter.  However, Easter is also a time when families and friends get together to enjoy special quality time in each others' presence.  And, of course, we all know that at any large gathering of said family and friends there is always the potential for, well, ANYTHING to happen.  And, of course, with my family...that is usually what happens!  But, THIS Easter, was even more memorable thanks to a couple of consecutive events that are the kind that you basically just have to laugh at - at least looking back on it now - because it is truly much better than the alternative.

So...I should have known we were in for the start of a potentially eventful time when the first thing happened that should have clued me in.  At the time, it seemed like no big deal, even a potential tragedy that was quickly avoided.  But, looking back, I see that it was Event 1 of 3, as minute as it was in and of itself.

So...Event 1...As we were walking through my grandfathers driveway toward his house, my husband briefly lost step with me.  Not figuratively, literally.  I glanced back and said, "What happened?" as he was just about a step behind now.  "I just stepped on that little piece of a tree limb and almost twisted my ankle."  My response, "Ouch, that would have hurt.  Glad it didn't happen."  And we kept walking.  Potential accident diverted.

A few minutes later...I had not even sat my purse down inside the house yet...Event 2...My husband comes toward me with this Deer-in-the-headlights look on his face (not common to him...he's usually very calm, cool, collected, & assured in his outward appearance) and he manages to say, "Your aunt...she just fell..." and he is kind of pointing toward the front yard area.  Though I have not done actual patient care in over 3 years, my ICU / Trauma Nurse instincts did miraculously kick in.  I remained calm, as you have to do in any such situations, and I quickly headed outside.  There was my precious 69 year old aunt lying on the sidewalk surrounded by family and blood...literally, just below her on the sidewalk was a large amount of her blood and it was still dripping down from her face.  Anyway, so I came up and just started talking to her as I started looking at the areas of her faced that were bleeding.  She was thankfully very alert and in very good spirits.  As I uncovered her forehead, I saw a very large gash that I knew without question would need stitches.  I also saw a couple of other smaller cuts that were bleeding, as well as some bruising on her cheek.  So, I instructed someone to call 911 (emergency response) and get them to come take her and get her cleaned up, stitched up, and checked out.  They called.  In the mean time, we were all out there together visiting as I was standing there holding pressure to these bleeding spots on her face.  Mind you, there are still many people slowly arriving to join our family Easter affair.  My lovely aunt got to meet her brother's new wife for the first time as she (my aunt) was sitting here in this disjointed state on the sidewalk.  The new wife I mentioned is a precious lady who JUST moved here from Malaysia!  What a way to meet for the first time!  Anyway, soon the ambulance and another emergency vehicle arrived and they took over assessing and caring for her as well as strapping her to the stretcher and loading her in the ambulance.  During that time, another cousin and her family arrived to only be able to say hi to her as she was rolling away on the stretcher waving at us all.  Mind you, this cousin that had just arrived did see the ambulance headed toward the house as she and her family were driving toward our street.  And, she was hoping this emergency vehicle visit was merely the result of one of those 911 calls that one of our youngest family members has been known to make now that she learned to use the phone.  But, of course, that was not the case this time.  Thankfully, we all remained calm and there was no major harm done to my aunt in this situation.  (Later we were told that she did get stitches and she does have a broken nose, but all CT Scans and X-rays turned out otherwise benign.  In other words, no brain injury nor spinal injury.  Those are my main concerns.And, by the way, she did not trip on the tree limb that my husband had stepped on.  She just lost her footing on the sidewalk while walking and talking like we ladies do so well.)  Oh, yeah, and another cousin informed me that during this whole scene, my 4 year old son (who was watching through the front glass door) told my aunt's 40+ year old son "It's okay.  She will be okay.  My mommy's a nurse in a hos-pi-tal.  She is the best!"  Awww....

Ok...so where's the comic relief in all of that!?!  Well, there's more...

Then, only a few minutes after the ambulance left...Event 3...My cousin (yes I do have a bunch of cousins, but this one is the same one that arrived with her family at the same time the ambulance did) anyway, my cousin was in the kitchen stirring something and her feet were getting tired in her Easter Sunday heels, so she had propped her knee up on the padded seat of one of the kitchen chairs.  Next thing I know, somebody's coming to get me to look at her leg!  Mind you...I do not take care of patients anymore...they are really giving me a run for my money here!!!  Anyway, I go into the kitchen and my mother is handing my cousin a ziploc bag of pecans from the freezer to put on her leg.  Apparently the chair under her knee gave way and the seat fell through.  She had a pretty bad bruise on her shin but no bleeding nor swelling at the time.  Again, we all visited and joked as she sat there with it propped up on another one of those chairs.  Things soon calmed down, and though she was hurting, it didn't seem to be that bad.  Until later, after we had left, I found out that she, too, had gone to the Emergency Room!!!!  It apparently started swelling and getting red and warm.  They checked her out and it was not broken or anything, so they just treated her and let her go home.

Soooo.....Like I said in the beginning...none of this was outright funny at the time, though everyone remained calm and in our family's normal good spirits about it all the whole time.

The comic relief comes as you look back on it and, like I said, with the whole day's events in mind, you just have to laugh!  I know, I know, you may not see it that way, but you know you have had the same kind of days in your life with your family or friends or just yourself...when you know all is ultimately okay...just laugh...it's okay...and it truly is usually much better than the alternative. 

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,"  Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Love...

Love...

Are you thinking I am on the wrong holiday?  No, I know Valentine's Day has already passed and is not coming up this weekend.  I know, I know...tomorrow is Good Friday and this coming Sunday is Easter.

So, why "Love..."

What do you think Good Friday and Easter are all about!?!  No...not a day off of work and a long weekend (some don't get that luxury, by the way).  Not a time to go buy a new outfit to wear so everybody can see how nice you and your children look.  Not "just another day or weekend" for those of you who do not go to church or do not ascribe to Christianity, or maybe even any religion for that matter.  True...all of the above are often associated with Good Friday and Easter.  I am not bashing any of them, but I am just pointing out that none of them are the real reason for Easter.

So...back to "Love..."

I do love to get a thoughtful gift from my husband, no matter what the occasion (or non-occasion) may be.  Honestly, I even loved it the time he had our son carry a birthday card over to me (in front of my entire family...parents, siblings, etc.) and as I read it, I just had to crack up!  It basically was written as if it was from a young son to his mother, though it was intended to be from my husband to me!!!  Of course, he did not realize that when he picked it up off of the shelf...and his screener (my brother) fell down on his job as well, obviously!  Regardless...it really brought joy to me.  It made me and all of us in the room have a really good laugh!  And, a memory to share here a couple of years later.

But, back to the thoughtful gift, the token of Love...

As I am reading John 17 this week, I am so touched by the love Jesus expresses for us as He prays for us in this entire chapter of John.  Moreso, I have been struck by something I never really thought of before...

Over and over again, He mentions how His then disciples as well as all who would come to believe in Him throughout eternity, all of us were given TO Him by His Father...WE are gifts of Love given from the Father to His Son.  AND...HE is our Father's ultimate Gift of Love to US!!!  He loves us so much that He gave us His Son and the brutal death of His Son on the cross (as is commemorated by Good Friday) as well as His Resurrection (as is commemorated by Easter Sunday).

But back to Me and You, as believers (or soon-to-be believers, for some of you), being gifts TO Him!!!  That's the part I've never really thought much about.  Just think about it...a gift (Me / You) is (are) very special to both the GIVER (God) and the RECIPIENT (Jesus).  The Giver puts great thought and consideration into selecting and often even handmaking the gift (which God did when He created us) and is very much excited to see the joy the gift will bring to the Recipient.  The Recipient, of course, is made to feel very special and loved when receiving such a special gift.  You and I are that gift to Jesus!!!  We bring Him that joy and make Him feel special, as well as God our Father who gave us to His Son and created us for Him!  WOW!!! Does that not just blow your mind!?!  Yes, you are THAT special!  Believe it!  And, of course, like I said before...He (Jesus) is that Gift to us, from our Father who loves us so much He gave us His Son as a Gift/Token of His love for us! 

Now, THAT's Love...

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." - Jesus (John 17:20-26)
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