Letter To a Friend

My dear Friend …

You and I, as true believers in Yeshua, are now living as exiles in our own land during these strange times – and as time goes by, we will feel even more and more estranged as the world becomes increasingly more evil, and, as those of us who seek the His Face with all our hearts, souls, minds and voices draw closer to Him. This must be somewhat a little like Daniel must have felt like – although he was led into a strange land as a captive. I find it intriguing that when he could have returned, he didn’t (realistically, probably due to his advanced age) – but I think there is much, much more in his decision to stay … the Spirit of Elohim had to be moving within him, calling, urging, encouraging him to continue to live out his daily walk with the Lord among these people so that Yahweh could continue to speak and teach through him – a circle of influence few Jews would have had at that time.

Daniel had a choice to make and he relinquished all the other desires and hopes about which he had once dreamed for all those many, many years and chose to stay and continue to be that shining light of God to those with whom he lived and worked!

We read that he never failed to live the life of a devout Jew – a prisoner held in captivity – yet, never failing to pray and fast daily. I am also convinced that Elohim used him in a very strange, but remarkably wonderful way as he shared his God-given gifts in astronomy with the seers and fellow astronomers. You know, when we live and work among people day after day – sooner or later “the real person” will emerge. Daniel was so very devout – can we even begin to imagine how powerful was his daily walk of witness?

Fast-forward to the birth of Messiah. When the “wise men” came from the east – I believe they more than likely came from Ur/Babylon where the study in astronomy was perhaps more advanced than in any other country. Only Elohim could have, by His grand design centuries later, realized His plan for the appearance of this Amazing Star to announce the birth of His Only Son! The scientific gifts Daniel bequeathed to the Babylonians, along with His witness as a devout Jew who loved and honored Elohim was still at work … so much so that they had told the story about the anticipated birth of Messiah over the course of time, passing it down from generation to generation of fellow scientists. When they saw such a grand, glorious, beyond sight in the heavens – they had the faith to make that very long journey to see the wonder of this Baby – the Son of God.

I started wondering about this when I was a teenager, because Daniel was one of my heroes! This is just my commentary – and you know I’m no scholar – but I do believe it just might be possible.

I personally think Daniel remained in Babylon because he believed God wanted him to stay – living the life of a believer, daily – without compromise – in one of the most hedonistic civilizations ever – the center of the pagan world in its day! We have similar opportunities now as our country becomes increasingly unrecognizable.

Like Daniel, we too, have a choice – we can become better or bitter, as I see it. When we intentionally, without any hesitation or reserve – open our lives to whatever, wherever God wants, the unspeakable joy of His blessed assurance will fill our souls – so much so, that even if everything around us collapses into utter ruin – you and I will always have the presence of the Holy Spirit within us and the hope of Messiah’s soon return that makes life worth living – no matter where, no matter how, no matter what, no matter with whom.

Perhaps this is a part of our calling now as His people– although we could never have imagined the America we see now when we were growing up! Light in the darkness. It is a part of our calling. How amazing that the Holy One would entrust such responsibilities to mere humans! “Amazing Grace”, indeed.

“Let me be your servant, under your command. I will no longer be my own. I will give up myself to your will in all things.”
Be satisfied that Christ shall give you your place and work.
“Lord, make me what you will. I put myself fully into your hands:
put me to doing, put me to suffering,
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you;
let me be full; let me be empty;
let me have all things; let me have nothing.
I freely and with a willing heart give it all to your pleasure and disposal.” From The John Wesley Covenant Renewal Service.

So shine on, my sister! Your post on FB is shining into hearts that welcome it and into others that fear it or just don’t understand it! We just shine the light – it is the Ruach HaKodesh – the Holy Spirit – that does the work!

Have a most blessed day in Messiah Jesus! Kay

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Roast Preacher for Sunday Dinner!

ROAST PREACHER FOR SUNDAY DINNER! Commentary by Kay
Once again, yet another of our traditional American holidays took a “hit” as a number of merchants moved up the opening of their stores to earlier on Thanksgiving evening, rather than wait until it was “officially over” at midnight! The oldest American holiday officially invaded by shoppers!

No one can “celebrate or ruin” a traditional holiday quite like we Americans!

Just when you think everything that can be done has been done to mess up a cozy holiday family get-together, someone comes up with a new idea and it spreads like wildfire. And these days, it’s increasingly, nearly always, more about buying the latest gadgets and things to “make us happy”.

Every Thanksgiving holiday, whenever I’ve been able to be in or near my hometown Galveston, my family and I have enjoyed taking a “slow train” drive down the Boulevard in Galveston late Thanksgiving evening just before dusk … all the way down to the East Beach jetties. Yesterday, the weather was perfect – with just enough clouds in the western skies to make the sunset alive with splashes of gold, pink, orange and muted shades of purple. Watching the gulls and pelicans soar– and the tiny sand pipers foraging for food across the beach, checking out the latest wildflowers on the sand dunes, and hearing the sound of the waves can bring a sense of peace and restoration like nothing else can. In fact, ever since I turned sixteen and could drive, this has been my favorite place to spend time with the Lord.

Fast forward one day to late Friday evening, and needing to run a simple errand for pet food, we got stuck in the middle of the traffic jams and frenzy of all the shoppers. We drove past a huge Suburban so totally loaded with stacks and stacks of boxes that the man, pushing and shoving with all his might, couldn’t get another package inside! The people with him were guarding another dolly piled high with more items, while one of his friends was on the phone – “calling for help?”!!!

Surely, by now, you’ve seen videos of the shoppers pushing and shoving, fighting each other and screaming, like stampeding cattle to get “the best buys”!

”And the ones (seeds of the Word of God) sown among the thorns are others who hear the Word; Then the cares and anxieties of the world and distractions of the age, and the pleasure and delight and false glamour and deceitfulness of riches, and the craving and passionate desire for other things creep in and choke and suffocate the Word, and it becomes fruitless.” (Mark 4:18, 19, AMP Bible)

And now – it’s your turn to comment … considering the two extremes presented above, what does this say about Thanksgiving, 2012? 2013?…2014???

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You. A Disciple? Yes, You!

KEY SCRIPTURE: Jeremiah 29:11-13

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity.”

…Written to the people of Israel living in captivity

 – without hope for a better life, without dreams, just making it day by day.

 Who me? a Disciple?  So you think you’re not good enough for God?

   Noah – “a religious fanatic” – one man, one family who rescued the world

Moses – “a murderer, fleeing punishment ” became a deliverer for his people

 Rahab – a Gentile prostitute – became one of Jesus’ ancestors in His bloodline

Abraham – “an idol worshipper” born inIraq, left his home and all the security he had not knowing where God would lead him

    Ruth a Gentile idol worshipper who left her family and home to befriend an old Jewish woman…Ruth became the grandmother of King David;

   David – “an adulterer, a murderer, and a terrible, overly indulgent father, and King of Israel” – the runt of the litter…became “a man after God’s own heart”

Mary the mother of Jesus, John the Baptist, the little boy with the fishes, the disciples of Jesus, the Roman centurion, Paul, Lydia, Timothy, Luther, Calvin, and Wesley, many of the founding fathers of America, and more recently, Mother Theresa and Billy Graham – in and of themselves, they would not have ever “qualified” as disciples – but in their own ways, as directed by God, they have each been an important part of the plan that God has to bring people to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

From before creation, God knew you by name and had a plan, hopes and dreams for you.  The moment you were conceived, God programmed the very DNA that makes you unique from everyone else who has ever been conceived.  God takes every moment of your life, every choice you make – the good, the bad, and the ugly – and if you’ll let Him –

 – He will work them into His plan for you to be His disciple. 

 *Start where you are now, grow by taking small steps day by day.

*Develop a growing relationship with Jesus through daily worship, prayer and study.

*Use/Develop the gifts He has given you (teaching/the sciences/business/the arts).

*Surround yourself and meet regularly with other disciples (John Wesley’s small groups!).

*Make the most of technology to learn and grow in Him and spread His Word.

*Bloom where you’re planted – no clergy collar required!

 You are a gift from God, gifted by God, to be a gift to our world!

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New Beginnings

THE LORD is my Shepherd to feed, guide, and shield me, I shall not lack.    He makes me lie down in fresh, tender green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life , my self;           He leads me in the paths of righteousness –uprightness and right standing with Him–not for my earning it, but for His name’s sake.                                    Yes, though I walk through the deep, sunless valley of the shadow of death,      I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod to protect and Your staff to guide, they comfort me.” from Psalm 23

 A few years ago, I drew together  a small group called “New Beginnings”…a group that focused on helping each other deal with the pain and misery that separation and divorce have on our lives.  For far too many years churches of all denominations ignored the horrific impact separation and divorce had on the lives of their members, the children involved and even upon their congregation.

One never gets over divorce…but one gets through it, by the grace of God!  One can move on to something more wonderful than they could ever imagine – a new beginning, a new life in Christ Jesus.

I know.  It happened to me.

It wasn’t easy to work through the years and years of guilt, resentments, and feelings of betrayal, anger, and bitterness, but by the grace of God. . .

It wasn’t easy to wade through the bouts of self-pity and blaming others,                              but by the grace of God. . .

It wasn’t easy overcoming the financial constraints that seemed impossible and unending, but by the grace of God. . .

It wasn’t easy being a single parent to four children whose hearts were broken and lives were turned upside down — it was the hardest thing I have ever had to do,                           but by the grace of God. . .

It wasn’t easy needing to work one full time and two part-time jobs to make ends meet, but by the grace of God. . .

It wasn’t easy starting life over again, but by the grace of God. . .it happened!

One of God’s many promises that kept me going (and still does!)…

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond what others have had to  face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll   never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”                    1 Corinthians 10:9,10, The Message

True, things are never the same again – the sense of hopelessness seems overwhelming.  For many, it is like all the goodness of life is over and gone forever.  Yet divorce never has to be “The End”.  In fact, it can lead to a “New Beginning” –  a new sense of direction of life in Christ Jesus where life can become better, more fulfilling, more joyous, and more successful than ever before.

From my heart to yours,  Kay!

“He has sent redemption to His people;                                                                           He has commanded His covenant to be forever; holy is His name…                            The reverent fear and worship of the Lord                                                                    is the beginning of Wisdom and skill;                                                                                a good understanding, wisdom, and meaning                                                         have all those who do the will of the Lord.” Psalm 111:9,10  AMP

 

 

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There Are No Wasted Moments with God!

“They were all together in one place…when suddenly, all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit”  Acts 2

Have you ever had to start all over again when you have just experienced and been emotionally uprooted by a terrible tragedy or a tremendous change in your life?  Questions flood our minds and hearts: Where do I start to get my life back on track?  How and where do I begin to deal with the many changes that need to be made NOW!  Will things ever be the same again?  Will the hurt ever end?  Where do I go from here, and how do I get there?  Will life ever be better?  How long, Lord?  Why me, Lord?

On May 27, 2012, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday.  For many Christians around the world, it’s just slightly above being “just another Sunday.”  Some churches may not even recognize it.  And yet, this has to be one of the greatest events in all church history. Why?

According to Jewish history, the first Pentecost occurred when Moses met with God on Mount Sinai and received the Torah.  In Leviticus, God commanded this day to be observed forever by all believers as the Feast of Pentecost.  Christians remember the Pentecost of Acts 2 as the “birthday of the Church” when the early believers gathered to mark this Ordained-by-God-Feast Day, and were empowered power from on high through the gift of the Holy Spirit God gave them to be the Church … to preach the Gospel in “Jerusalem, Judea,Samaria, and the uttermost ends of the earth.”  (Acts 1:8)

But to stop with the story here is a travesty.  To end our story with Acts 28, the letters of Paul and others, and the Book of Revelation does not begin to honor the work of those who have gone before us.  Maybe we need to ask as children often do, “Then what happened?”  The next several decades were the most difficult, yet some of the most triumphant years in all of church history as the church grew and flourished in the midst of the worst persecution ever. How did they do it?  What can we learn from these “bravest of the brave” early Christians as we seek to be the church our world needs today?

In many Bible studies on Acts, this may be exactly what we need to do – not so much from the historical events that Luke writes so clearly about in Acts, but from the perspective which asks, “How did these people become so strong spiritually that they were able to endure the horrific obstacles that tried to fracture and eliminate the infant church?  What can we learn from them to be more like them?”

Halfway into a study I compiled on Acts, I noted the following “Points of Growing Stronger in our Faith”.  As you read through these – make the connections in your own life.

* The early church began by obeying the words of the Risen Jesus who told them not to go back home to Galilee after the Resurrection, but to stay in Jerusalem and wait on the gift God would send them.  For weeks, they had been on a tremendous roller coaster ride experiencing the last days of Jesus: witnessing His suffering and death on the cross; then feeling the tumultuous joy of His Resurrection and being able to be in presence of their Savior and Lord Jesus once again – only to be followed by watching Him leave them again!

We cannot begin to imagine the extremes of emotions they had endured.  Going back “home” to Galilee must have seemed like the very best, most logical thing to do – but instead, they obeyed Jesus and remained in Jerusalem.  They didn’t just “hang out” either, but met in the Upper Room and Temple outer courts daily – seven days each week – for prayers and worship as they listened to the Apostles teach the scriptures.  Every evening, they gathered in the Upper Room as family for meals and to share the sacrament of Communion and times of sweet fellowship as the body of Christ.

Have you reached a point in your life where although you don’t know everything, you think you know enough that you don’t really need to study the Bible?

Have you ever limited your attendance at worship to occasional Sundays that are more convenient for you?

* As they grew in their discipleship, they were called to minister to the Samaritans – those half-breed Israelites that live on the other side of the tracks — they don’t even want to be near them, much less give them the Gospel message!

Has God ever called you to reach out to people you don’t like?

 * The believers see the worst traits of Peter and Paul become transformed into their greatest gifts as they submit to God.  They realize that there are no wasted moments with God. Our worst traits can become His best as we humble ourselves in obedience to Him and His teachings.  They also learn that there are no coincidences with God!  In fact the very irony of His plans stuns His followers as they see foot-in-mouth Peter become a gifted, eloquent preacher, winning thousands to Christ, and watch Paul who witnessed the stoning of  Stephen become THE Apostle who will take the Gospel to the Gentiles.

Try this!  List the worst character traits you used to have, and how the love of Christ has transformed them and you as you have given your life to Him!

The greater their faithfulness and submission was to God, the greater was their ability to allow the Holy Spirit to work miracles through them.  Good news is preached to the poor!  The brokenhearted are comforted and healed!  The blind see!  The hungry are fed! The crippled walk!  The untouchable are touched in love!  Physical and spiritual captives are released from bondage and darkness!  Beloved, the many needs of all humanity in this day and age are the church’s greatest opportunities to be the witnesses and disciples Christ has called each of us to be.  Empowered by that same Holy Spirit, and by giving all that we are and all that we have in obedience to the love of Christ, we can grow strong and be the Church that our world so desperately needs today.

 Now This is Pentecost!  Then and Now!   

From my heart to yours, Kay

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

“So Abram left, as the LORD had told him…Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

 “… he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.”  from Genesis 12, NIV

It has not been too long ago that we observed the season of Lent – a time for reflection and self-examination as we prepared our hearts for our journey into Easter.  The excitement of Christmas and the joy of Easter are wondrous times that we as Christians enjoy celebrating.

But what did we do with Lent? It’s not unusual for even the most devout of believers to avoid Lenten spiritual disciplines, for during Lent, our journey is inward, and we don’t always like what we find inside of us when we probe into our hearts and seek a deeper relationship with the Lord.  Today, with such overloaded schedules and far too many distractions to keep us too busy for God, it becomes too easy to “ignore” Lent, or pay just a modicum of attention to developing greater discipleship.

One of the great deceptions in the Christian journey is to believe that whatever God calls us to do will be “easy” and won’t demand too much of us.  We want the quick fixes, with no special hardships or demands placed upon us – and if we can turn it into a party, the more the better!  But if we’re really honest with ourselves, we can look throughout the Bible and see story after story about people called by God into service for Him, and rarely, if ever, are these stories about easy, trouble-free walks with Him.  In fact, far more often than not, the more special the call, the more problematic it is, filled with challenges that often intimidate the strongest of believers.

Abram is in such a place as we read today’s text.  At the call of God, he’s left everything he’s ever known, to journey into a land he knows nothing about, to face unknown obstacles – all because he wants to fulfill the call of God upon his life.  He pitches his tent between a place called “Bethel” and another called “Ai”.

Why stop here to think about this verse that seems to offer so little information?  I am convinced that it is the seemingly insignificant details that we find in the Word that hold wonderful nuggets of wisdom which can enrich our spiritual understanding in untold ways.  There are no little insignificant details in the Bible.  Every name, every place, even every tiny little word works together to offer us uncommon wisdom.  When we encounter these little details, rather than rush on with the main character and story, imagine a sign posted that reads, “Stop!  Dig here.  See what you can find.”

The names of these cities and the land in which they were located hold remarkable clues for greater wisdom and application to where we are today in our spiritual walk.  “Beth-el” means “city ofGod” – a name that signifies that God desires to live among His people.  That’s a pretty amazing thought in and of itself if we will take time to reflect upon all that really means.  As holy and perfect and awesome as God is, He chooses to live among His people, rather than remain just some holy being people can worship only from a distance. Bethelis “right there”, within Abram’s reach.

The other city named is “Ai” and lies to the east of where Abram has settled.  Ai means “heap of ruins”.  Don’t let this term fool you – it was a large, prosperous, but horribly decadent, sin-filled, immoral city, rife with crime and every kind of evil.  This city is also within Abram’s reach.  (Eventually, it will be one of the cities Joshua will need to conquer in order for God’s people to occupy the land which God had promised them.)

Both cities are located in the land of “Canaan” – the “lowland”.  Throughout scripture the Canaanites are fierce foes of God’s people.  There are Nephelim in thelandofCanaanas well – tall giants with supernatural strength and power – offspring of the sons of God (the fallen angels that fell from heaven because they followed Lucifer as their leader) and the women they impregnated.  (The giant Goliath was a Nephelim.)

Abram is living betweenBethel– the dwelling or “rock foundation” of God, and Ai – the hard place, a place of battles.  And between the rock (God as our source and strength) and the hard place (whatever lies in our path of service and relationship with God) in a land that ungodly ones have taken over, yet is actually where God began life as we know it, and wants to put His people there to live and serve others in His name.  Beloved, is this not where we find ourselves each and every day?

By the gift of the Holy Spirit within each of us as believers, we find ourselves with ready access to God on a daily, continual basis.  Yet as blessed believers, we are living in a world that is filled with much that is not of God.  As we work to serve Him, we will most certainly find giant-sized circumstances that must be confronted and overcome to do what God has called us to do.  But just how do we do this?

We follow the example set by Abram – he pitched his tent right in the middle of it all – not running away in fear, but settling down where God led him and called him to be, and there, he built an altar.  A place of prayer.  A place of offering.  A place of sacrifice.  A place of communion.  A place where he can meet with God to receive whatever he needs to fulfill the calling God has placed on his life.

Altars are not just for Sunday morning.  Altars are not merely tables to hold items used to enhance worship.  In the Hebrew language, all words flow from basic root words.  Each word that flows from a basic root word must be connected in meaning to the root word.  It is no accident that the word “altar” means a place to offer a sacrifice – and from it come the Hebrew words for “heart” and “door”.

Don’t wait for the season of Lent!  Today, let us build an altar unto the Lord.  An altar in our hearts.  A place where we sacrifice or surrender all that would hinder us from serving the Lord.  A place where we commune with God as often and long as we wish.  An altar that will open the doors of our hearts to greater discipleship and service to Him…for we too, live in a world that is filled with gigantic problems and obstacles designed to separate us from God.  We are only as strong as our prayer life. It is in this time prayers we offer unto the Lord on the altars of our hearts that we can find whatever we need to love Him more dearly and serve Him more clearly in a world that is desperate to know God.            From my heart to yours, Kay

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ONE OF OUR MOST MEMORABLE CHRISTMASES … EVER!

Do you have a special Christmas story?

– Something so special that those moments are etched into your hearts as well as your minds … forever???

As a child, and later a parent of young children, I considered myself to be well-steeped in both the Biblical story of Christmas and loved the traditions we practiced at home with our family. I would have never guessed that there was a far deeper way to remember Christmas – for I had never experienced what was about to happen!

A number of years ago, and even though we already had two boys aged five and ten, we adopted two young girls, ages three and five years, from the Texas Department of Child Protective Services. They had spent all of their young years locked away from neighbors and other family members in a tiny house near Paris, Texas. The police were called when one of the neighbors finally had the courage to report the terrible screams they heard coming from inside the house.

The youngest girl, Linda was nearly dead when they found her, having been intentionally starved since she had been born. She had gained only one pound from her birth weight in the nineteen months since she had been born.

Throughout her three years since her birth, her sister Theresa had been brutalized and horribly abused in every possible way. They had never known anything but the most horrific abuse – even when they went to live in their adoptive homes – so when they came to live with us two years later, it was as if they were entering a whole new world. Linda was three and Theresa was five when they came to us with nothing but the clothes they had on their backs and two little purses our state case worker had given them.

At no time was their extreme former poverty more evident than the night we decorated our Christmas tree – the first Christmas tree they had even seen! Their First Christmas. Ever. Period.

We always had a fresh tree – sometimes one we had cut down ourselves. After we would bring the tree inside, we would put on the strings of lights, and then hang as many ornaments (many of them handmade by our children) as our little tree could hold! When we determined there was no longer a single square inch left open on the tree, we would turn out all the lights in the house and plug in the lights on the tree. It was always a momentous event, with cries of ooohs and aaahs – sheer joy coming from each of us – children and parents alike.

But this time, it was so different. Knowing this was their very first Christmas, we were looking at the girls as we plugged in the lights. The beautiful colors of the bulbs danced on the walls, while our precious daughters took huge gasps of breath, stood speechless at first, and then let out tremendous screams of joy! They danced up and down clapping their little hands together… and left two little puddles on the floor while they danced for joy! (That was one potty accident I never minded cleaning!)

We all laughed until we ached, and sat wrapped up in each others’ arms as we stared at the beauty of our tree for the rest of the night. Both of the girls fell to sleep on the sofa – refusing to leave “their tree”, and had to be carried to bed that night.

Christmas has never been the same for me since that night. We,who thought we had so little, shared our lives, our home, and our love with two little girls who had only their first names, two little purses and the clothes on their backs when they came to us. A year or so later, one of the neighborhood children who had come to play with them at our house asked Linda when her birthday was. She looked at me, and without hesitating while pointing to our front door said, “I was born the day I walked through that door!” My heart skipped a beat or two as I dissolved into tears of thanksgiving to God for giving us the opportunity to love these little girls and welcome them into our home.

(God gives us) beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they (we) might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. Isaiah 61:3 NIV,( emphases, mine)

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