Archive | November 2017

Keeping the Conversation Going


Years ago I read a small booklet called Practicing the Presence of God. It was written by a monk named Brother Lawrence.  He claimed to experience a continuous conversation with God; it was a source of great delight, and his character was gradually transformed so that he became more and more like Jesus. 

I longed for that kind of a relationship with God. What could I do that make that happen? I discovered that one helpful activity that I could do was to spend time reading and discussing Scripture with him. 

I developed a habit of meeting with Jesus at the beginning of my day to do just that.  It became and still is the highlight of my day. Yet, as the day progresses, I sometimes lose the awareness of his presence. I don’t want that to happen. I long to keep the conversation going. One of the ways in which I’m learning to do that is by returning to my habit of Scripture memorization. 

Jesus said that the Scriptures point to him. (John 5:39)When I think of them as God’s love letter to me, memorizing them becomes a natural desire, and I can continue my conversation with him throughout the day.


I started memorizing Scripture when I was in elementary school. I don’t know how many gigabits are stored in my memory, but I know that it’s always available to me. In the exact moment that I need them, the Holy Spirit brings to my conscious mind the appropriate words of encouragement, instruction, and comfort. 

Though Scripture memorization is more challenging than when I was younger (it takes me a day to memorize just a few lines), it’s still possible. Each day, I read a Bible passage and pay attention to the verse or verses that the Holy Spirit highlights to me. I write this verse out on a 3 x 5 card. Below it, I write a prayer response to the Scripture that I’ve read. This gives me a focus for the day. It also helps me to personalize the content so that I’m not just memorizing words.


Here is an example:

SCRIPTURE FOR THE DAY

Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father  in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (Ephesians 5:19-20 ESV)  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. (Hebrews 13:15 NIV)

PRAYER FOR THE DAY

 Lord, I confess that I am selective in my gratitude. I give thanks to you for some things but not for all things. I do not practice this “always” and “for everything” instruction. It’s time for me to make a change, to become as intentional about gratitude as I am about composing and singing melodies and writing poems. Please forgive me for my lack and give me the grace to change.


I take my Scripture card with me throughout the day. I place it on my dresser when I’m getting dressed. I place it on the table when I’m eating breakfast and read the content to my husband. 

I place it near my computer so that I can briefly glance at it when I’m writing or doing other computer-related tasks.Doing this keeps me from getting distracted by other things, such as clutter on my desktop, internet surfing or checking Facebook too frequently.

When I go for a walk, I place my card in my pocket, pull it out from time to time and continue to reflect on it. When I’m fixing dinner, I prop my card up on the counter and review the verse. 

Although I’m not always successful in memorizing my verse or verses for the day, constantly reviewing them along with my prayer still helps keep the “Holy Spirit conversation” going in my mind. 


If you have never memorized Scripture, I hope that you will seriously consider doing so.

What would you need to do to get started?

Do you think that joining others in a Scripture memorization project be helpful to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on November 24, 2017. 4 Comments

Gratitude for Hearing

 



In her nineties, my husband’s grandmother was still in fairly good health. But she had did not hear very well. Feeling frustrated about this one day, John said, “Grandma, you need some hearing aids.”

                “I have some,” she said.

                “Where are they?”

                “Right here in my pocket,” she said, as she pulled them out.

At the time, I felt annoyed at Grandma for not wearing her hearing aids. Now, I understand why she put them in her pocket. A few years ago, I did the same thing. Not long after purchasing a set of hearing aids, I discovered they were not the “magical” solution that I thought they would be. So, I quit wearing them and stored them in my jewelry box.

Sometime later I flew to California to visit my grandchildren and sadly discovered that I was probably missing 75% of what they said. I felt very sad–isolated like a lone heron on a rock in the wilderness.

After talking with a friend who has hearing loss and discovering that well-fit hearing aids made a huge difference for her, I decided to try again. With updated hearing aids my hearing, although not perfect, is much improved. This brings me joy because participating in conversations is much easier.

Even if your hearing is perfect, I hope that you will read my blog so that you can encourage your friends or relatives who do have hearing losses to accept the reality of it and seek help.

And if you do have some hearing loss, I hope that you will not feel embarrassed about it. I admit that I have been; that’s why it’s taken me a year to publish this blog. I’ve decided to no longer hide the truth. It’s no different than wearing glasses.

Hearing loss is quite common. These are the statistics.  About 30-35 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years have a hearing loss. It is estimated that 40-50 percent of people 75 and older have a hearing loss. 

These are the symptoms of hearing loss

  • The speech of others seems mumbled or slurred.
  • High-pitched sounds such as “s” and “th” are difficult to hear and tell apart.
  • Conversations are difficult to understand, especially when there is background noise.
  • A man’s voice is easier to hear than the higher pitches of a woman’s voice.
  • Certain sounds seem annoying or overly loud.
  • Tinnitus (a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound in one or both ears) may also occur.

These are potential effects of hearing loss.

  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Social isolation
  • An increased risk of dementia

As a senior, I am doing all I can to avoid these effects of hearing loss.  While I believe that God still performs miracles and he could restore my hearing, he hasn’t instructed me to throw out my hearing aids. I’m thankful for them.

I’m thankful for the knowledge and understanding that he’s given to physicians and hearing specialists, and I’m wearing my hearing aids so that I can participate in conversations with my neighbors, friends, and relatives. 

If you think you have some hearing loss, I hope that you will admit it. You might even add “hearing aids” to your Christmas wish list. If you have perfect hearing, you might assist some friend or relative in purchasing hearing aids.


Owning hearing aids does not automatically mean that I can hear well. I must choose to place them in my ears. Although I’ve been known to put them in my pocket like John’s grandma, most of the time I put them in my ears. 

Still, my hearing aids will not work if they blocked by ear wax. I must keep them clean.

It’s wonderful to be able to hear with my physical ears, but there’s another kind of hearing that’s much more valuable–the ability to hear with my spiritual ears. That too is a choice. Jesus indicated this when he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 4:9)

Later in this conversation, Jesus said that our spiritual ears can also become blocked–not by hardened wax but by a hardened heart. According to the writer of Hebrews, the primary cause of a hardened heart is the unbelief that causes us to distrust God; consequently, we get stuck in cycles of destructive (sinful) behavior. (Hebrews 3:12, 13)


When we chose spiritual hardness of hearing and hardness of heart, we often get stuck in bitter resentment. But God who is merciful and forgiving offers us freedom and joy.

In Emotional Freedom, there’s a  simple diagram which describes how to find this freedom. It’s available here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on November 17, 2017. 4 Comments

Three Beautiful Word Pictures that Describe God’s Affection for Us

 



The shooting of 26 people inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas saddened me greatly. Once again, it’s clear that much hatred and evil exist in our world. In this post,  I’m not going to talk about why that is.  What helps me more than a discussion of evil is a reminder of goodness and love. 

Rather than trying to explain why God allows bad things to happen to good people,  I’m focusing on how much God cares about all people. “He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43 NET) 

Three beautiful word pictures that describe God’s affection

God encircles us like a range of mountains.

In the days before airplanes, rockets, and drones, people living in mountain valleys felt safe. Their enemies could not easily attack them because the mountains kept them from gaining access. 

Living in Jerusalem surrounded by protective mountains, King David said, “Those who trust in God are like Zion Mountain: Nothing can move it, a rock-solid mountain you can always depend on. Mountains encircle Jerusalem, and God encircles his people—always has and always will” (Psalm 125: 2 MSG).

Mountains remind me of strength. When I think of being surrounded by “God’s mountain”, I think of Gods’ rock-solid strength. Knowing that I can count on him to protect me, I feel at peace.  Does this mean that I will never suffer or get hurt? No, but it does mean he will not let me be destroyed by the suffering I experience. My spirit is eternal. 

God gathers us under his wings like a mother hen.

Whether it’s a chicken or another type of bird, our feathery friends take care of their babies; they cuddle them and keep them warm. And the baby birds run to that place of comfort.

God’s love for us is like that. Even when we run the other direction, intent on going out separate ways, he longs to see us return so that he can comfort us with his affectionate love.  Jesus, who was soon to be killed by the religious leaders of his day, stood at a mountain peak overlooking Jerusalem and said, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37 NIV).

That kind of affection is beyond my understanding. It’s incredible. The truth that God longs to hold and comfort me when I’ve been disrespectful to him or rebellious or hateful brings tears to my eyes.

God carries us close to this heart like a nursing mother.

Even though it involved getting out of a warm bed in the middle of winter, I treasure the memories I have of nursing my daughter. I held her close to my heart. That experience heightens the joy I feel when listening to Handel’s Messiah–one of my favorite activities during the Christmas season. 

“He shall feed his flock” so beautifully expresses the gentleness of God. I like this modern translation of the verse in Isaiah from which the music comes. 

“He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young” (Isaiah 40:11 NLT).


For Reflection:

Spend some time thinking about these three pictures of God’s affection and tell him which one is most meaningful to you, today. 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on November 10, 2017. 4 Comments

How To Increase Contentment

 



When my husband and I were first married, we had a rather heated discussion about what position the toilet seat should be placed in. Being a woman I, of course, said it should be left down.  (More correctly, I demanded this.) Being a man John, of course, said it should be left up. For the first fifty years, I won. (We are now working on our second fifty years.)

About a month ago, John became quite ill. Because of the intense pain that he was in, it was difficult for him to bend down and lift up the toilet seat. Having some compassion, I made sure that I left the seat up. 

He is feeling better; yet, I am still being intentional about leaving the seat up. After fifty years of him honoring my simple desire, I’m choosing to honor his simple desire.  It feels good for me to perform this simple act. It’s an example of the ordinary and practical love described in Scripture–love “does not demand its own way” (1 Corinthians 13:5 NLT).   Guess what? My husband, remarkably, still puts the seat down for me. He is a genuinely humble, kind, and loving person. 

By being picky about the everyday ordinary events of life, we can easily become discontent in our relationships. We can become blind to the love that is there–the love that we have and want (long for) something “perfect” but unattainable. 

The song that I’m sharing speaks to issue. 


Make the Love That You Have . . . 

Make the love that you have
The love that you want
Do not keep on looking
For something that is not.

There are no perfect marriages
Every family has flaws
Conflicts will arise;
Try not to be the cause.

Make the love that you have
The love that you want
Do not keep on looking
For something that is not.

There are no perfect churches,
Earth is not a perfect place
End foolish judgments
Give one another grace.

Make the love that you have
The love that you want
Do not keep on looking
For something that is not.

Even after fifty years
Problems can arise
Quickly acknowledge them
Do not be surprised

Make the love that you have
The love that you want
Do not keep on looking
For something that is not.

Together go to Jesus
Open up; share your heart,
Forgive and embrace;
Make a brand new start.

Make the love that you have
The love that you want
Do not keep on looking
For something that is not.

Share your gifts with everyone
Do not hold them back
God, the source of every grace,
Will give you what you lack.

10/27/17

This entry was posted on November 3, 2017. 8 Comments