I saw Dad’s restlessness when I arrived for my night’s stay in the hospital. He had a look of fear and bewilderment in his eyes. The look that always broke my heart.
After the nurses finished their rounds and things began to quiet down, I changed the channel on the TV to one of those meditative stations the hospitals make available. As the beautiful photography and soft instrumentals drew him in, he began to relax. He watched for over an hour. I’d look at him from time to time and he’d catch my eye… giggle a little… then cry.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been so moved before,” he said. “I keep praying the same words over and over, ‘Forgive me, Lord…forgive me, Lord…forgive me, Lord.'”
Some might wonder at his confession, but I think I understood his meaning…
When we are weary, bone-tired, dazed, and confused, wondering if the dark night of the soul will ever end; then, suddenly, we catch a glimpse of His beauty — the wonder of His creation, the soothing sounds of His music — the truth of knowing He is in control hits us.
We are awestruck.
We turn. We refocus. We repent.
He is greater than all our fears. We know He loves us…more.
My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I love Thee because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
In mansions of glory and endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee in heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ’tis now.
Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.
Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.
~1 Thessalonians 5:1-8
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.
~2 Peter 3:8-15a
Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
~the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 24:42-44)
Open the Eyes of My Heart
Are we good enough for God?
We are not.
No one is good, but God. ~Jesus
A man is not justified by the works of the Law but by faith in Jesus Christ, alone.
We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping
but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ.
How do we know?
We tried it–and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen!
Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement,
we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God
by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good. ~Galatians 2:16 (MSG)
No one will ever get it right.
No one will ever be “good enough” for God.
It’s impossible to please God without faith, and trying to “be good” is not faith.
It is trusting in self.
Believe me, please. For, you see, I tried it.
For years and years and years which turned into decades upon decades.
I was even given the name “Goody-goody” throughout my school years. Yes, I thought I could keep myself saved through good works. It doesn’t matter if you believe your good works will save you before, or after, you come to know Christ. Either way, you’re still only trusting in self.
It wasn’t until my late forties that I realized I can do nothing to save me.
I either have faith in Christ, alone, or it’s all a sham.
And guess what?
On the other side of self-abuse, wretched sinfulness, and family-shattering betrayal…
Finally, I understood the GRACE of God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
He looked upon my sinfulness
And bestowed upon me His forgiveness.
I saw my sin,
And I knew He saw it.
Yet, I felt His grace.
I found it is only through Christ, my Lord, that I am able to stand before God, the Father.
Jesus took the punishment I well-deserved. He endured the suffering for my sins — all of them — before I was even born. Yes, and even before the foundation of the earth, the Lamb of God was crucified for us all.
As a child I learned Jesus loved me. But I was also taught I must keep myself “good” for Him. And if I didn’t, He would not accept me. My standing before Him was based upon my good works, not His sacrifice, alone.
Why all of the clarification now???
Because, I spent so many years teaching it wrong. And so many people heard me. Eventually, I did learn the right teaching, but without the experiential knowledge, it wasn’t completely understood within my soul. I kept being “good” for I knew it was wisdom to live well.
He turned up the fire of trials in my life.
He tested my knowledge and let me go down a path that would solidify my faith.
It wasn’t pretty.
Seeing our own sinfulness is never pretty.
And now I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW …
I am the LORD’s and He is mine.
And nothing can separate me from His love.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Dear LORD.
Please, hear me, it is still wise to live well, BUT, never ever believe your good works will save you, or keep you saved…
In Christ, alone, is our salvation.
For by GRACE you are saved
and this is not from yourselves,
It is the gift of God.
February 13, 1933 — December 14, 2014
My dad was an amazing man.
He was a charmer, a singer, an artist, a soldier, a director, a provider, a comic, a gardener … and my teacher.
For most of my life, Dad was my inspiration. From grade school he encouraged me to hone my artistic abilities. He was a professional artist.
Dad saw beauty everywhere and much of the time it brought tears to his eyes. He had an uncanny, God-given ability to paint landscapes. He was also one of the few truly talented calligraphists in the country.
He was a man of faith.
I wrote this poem for his birthday in 2006 …
I remember watching Dad
When I was only nine,
Creating pictures for the news
And adverts for the Times.
He inspired me to watch and learn,
To see beauty everywhere.
He gave me guidance as I tried
To express myself with care.
As we traveled on vacations
He pointed out the sights;
Showing much appreciation
For the expression of God’s might.
The waterfalls, the sparkling streams,
The chipmunk on the wall,
Were shown to me through his eyes
As we walked to view them all.
The mighty oak reaching to the sky
With gnarled limbs and shade;
Dappled sunlight shining through,
Creating wonder with all God made.
I thank you, Dad, for inspiring me
To see beauty in the world;
I feel a fullness, a breadth of wonder
You helped me to unfurl.
It’s not good-bye, Daddy, just farewell.
I know you are living the best life yet…see you soon.
It always hung in our bedroom.
From our first apartment to our last home I used my exquisite wedding veil as a focal point in our sacred, holy place. A hand-made gift of tatting lace with our names and the date of our wedding, alongside our wedding picture, completed the memorial. Throughout our years it was a special place in our home. Many days through many years I lingered by the picture, fingering the embroidery on the veil. Remembering…
Seeing how young we were and so completely inexperienced in life, the photographer captured our joy laced with hope. My best friend played Debussy and my sister sang, “Savior, Like a Shepherd, Lead Us.” My grandfather led us in our vows to one another.
We. meant. every. word.
After the divorce I had no idea what to do with the veil or my dress. I strongly doubted my daughter would ever want to use them; nevertheless, I couldn’t give them away. I still loved Phat. Even after all that was said and done, I knew I would always love him.
Feelings come and go. Love is a choice.
Noticing how dusty the veil had become, I gently washed it by hand. As I did the lace began to fall apart, disintegrating as I pulled it out of the sudsy water. Once I realized what was happening I quickly laid it on a towel and began blotting it dry. I wondered if the tears would ever stop flowing…
When I found my little house and decided to buy it, I had another bedroom to decorate.
I remembered my tattered veil, folded away, as I began calling myself the names I knew I deserved.
That’s when it all came together.
That’s when God spoke to my heart.
He stopped me … (thank You, Lord, for stopping me).
Gently, He told me that I am His bride.
Lovingly, He reminded me that I am redeemed.
Tenderly, He guided me to His word.
I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine!
For the LORD has called you,
Like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit…
O troubled one, storm-crushed, uncomforted!
See, your stones will be framed in fair colours,
and your bases (foundations) will be sapphires.
Above the surface over their heads was what looked like a throne
made of blue sapphire.
And high above this throne was a figure
whose appearance was like that of a man.
The One sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones
––jasper and carnelian.
And the glow of an emerald circled His throne like a rainbow.
I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can take new courage,
for we can hold on to His promise with confidence.
This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls.
It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God’s inner sanctuary.
This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast
and one which enters within the veil.
My tattered veil became a garment of salvation…literally. Through His restoration and assurance of eternal love, I understood I needed to create a symbol of my Heavenly Bridegroom and of His covering for me. I adorned the veil with crystals of emerald and sapphire. I created a bow of colors just like the one I imagined encircling His throne. And now, every night before I go to sleep, I look up at my wedding veil. My once tattered veil. And, I envision the beauty of the One who has loved me without condition.
I remember His holiness ~
His banner over me is love.
~scriptures taken from Isaiah, Revelation, and Hebrews
“Faith is deliberate confidence in the character of God
whose ways you may not understand at the time.”
– Oswald Chamber
“No one is good but God”
“Let not your heart be troubled;
Trust in God. Trust also in Me.”
“I and the Father are One.”
-Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God
Heavenly Father, I thank You that even when I do not understand what You are doing, or how You are working Your plan in this world, I do know YOU. I do know You have revealed who You are in Your word and through The Word. I can read all that You have revealed through the Law and the Prophets, for the Jewish people have kept it intact, throughout the ages, so that the world may know. I can read about Your Son, The Word of God sent to save a sinful world. I can understand the path of salvation, for I know He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I praise Your Name for making the way clear, for speaking the truth through Your servants, and for making eternal life available to all who believe, in the Name of Jesus…
At this time, when all the world seems to be falling into more and more chaos, with each passing day the devastation caused by hatred and greed is further revealed; help us, O Lord, to rest in Your plan. Remind us of Your goodness and mercy and wisdom. Let us remember Your lovingkindness and Your faithfulness toward us who believe. Help us see that we serve a good God who holds all of the world in His loving hands.
Please, Father, lift the veil of unbelief. I know You do not wish for any to perish, but for all to come to You. You have chosen to save the world from our sins. Bring us to our knees before You, trusting in Jesus’ sacrifice and in His bodily resurrection, through Your awesome and mighty power. Find us to be loving servants, and empower us through Your Holy Spirit so that we may overcome in these difficult days…
Keep us faithful, Lord. Bring us before You restored, confirmed, strengthened, and established in Him on that glorious day.
I ask all these things in Your Son’s precious Name, Jesus the Christ,
We must learn to live in the tension between the real and the ideal.
It is in the tension that the beauty of salvation is seen.
~a paraphrase from Andy Stanley
When he said that yesterday, I felt more grace flood my soul than I have felt in a very long while. For someone to recognize the tension between the real and ideal, and then allow for a “less than perfect” reality … Well, I haven’t heard that kind of grace spoken much recently.
Another gracious word from a discussion over the weekend:
Satan calls you by your sin.
God calls you by your name.
And that’s when I remembered, this is warfare.
The names I’ve been called reveal the disappointment others feel toward me.
And the names I’ve called myself reveal my own disgust.
It feels like a flesh and blood battle when flesh and blood people are speaking the words. But, I must remember that we do not war against flesh and blood. Satan can speak through people, without them even realizing they are being used. Remember Peter? One moment he’s declaring Jesus is the Christ and the next, Jesus tells him to “get behind me, Satan!”
It wasn’t that Peter turned into Jesus’ enemy, it’s that he didn’t understand the Father’s plan for Jesus’ life. And in his misunderstanding he spoke.
We do this all the time when we assume we know what God is doing in someone’s life. We imagine we can see where they need to be headed, and yet, only God knows the plans He has for each of us. He is the One working out our salvation for His good will. He is the One empowering us to do the “good works” He has planned for us to accomplish from the foundation of the earth. He is the One who sees all the intricate details of each of our lives and is directing our paths as He sees fit.
Remember, Beloved, when others speak untruths concerning you, when you are “labelled” as they see fit, know that is not My name for you. I call you Beloved. I call you Redeemed. I call you My Child. Stand firm in the armor I’ve given you.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Use every piece of God’s armor to resist the enemy in the time of evil,
so that after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Stand your ground, putting on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News,
so that you will be fully prepared.
In every battle you will need faith as your shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan.
Put on salvation as your helmet,
and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.
He became sin for us…so that we might become the righteousness of God.
“The gospel tells us that the Creator has become our Redeemer. It announces that the Son of God has become man “for us men and for our salvation” and has died on the cross to save us from eternal judgment. The basic description of the saving death of Christ in the Bible is as a propitiation, that is, as that which quenched God’s wrath against us by obliterating our sins from his sight. God’s wrath is his righteousness reacting against unrighteousness; it shows itself in retributive justice. But Jesus Christ has shielded us from the nightmare prospect of retributive justice by becoming our representative substitute, in obedience to his Father’s will, and receiving the wages of our sin in our place.
By this means justice has been done, for the sins of all that will ever be pardoned were judged and punished in the person of God the Son, and it is on this basis that pardon is now offered to us offenders. Redeeming love and retributive justice joined hands, so to speak, at Calvary, for there God showed himself to be “just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.”
Do you understand this? If you do, you are now seeing to the very heart of the Christian gospel…” ~J.I. Packer, Knowing God
The Prophecy concerning Jesus as found in Isaiah 52-53:
“Look, my servant will succeed!
He will be elevated, lifted high, and greatly exalted
(just as many were horrified by the sight of you)
he was so disfigured he no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred he no longer looked human
so now he will startle many nations.
Kings will be shocked by his exaltation,
for they will witness something unannounced to them,
and they will understand something they had not heard about.
Who would have believed what we just heard?
When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?
He sprouted up like a twig before God,
like a root out of parched soil;
he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,
no special appearance that we should want to follow him.
He was despised and rejected by people,
one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;
people hid their faces from him;
he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.
But he lifted up our illnesses,
he carried our pain;
even though we thought he was being punished,
attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.
He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,
crushed because of our sins;
he endured punishment that made us well;
because of his wounds we have been healed.
All of us had wandered off like sheep;
each of us had strayed off on his own path,
but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.
He was treated harshly and afflicted,
but he did not even open his mouth.
Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,
like a sheep silent before her shearers,
he did not even open his mouth.
He was led away after an unjust trial
but who even cared?
Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;
because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.
They intended to bury him with criminals,
but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb,
because he had committed no violent deeds,
nor had he spoken deceitfully.
Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,
once restitution is made,
he will see descendants and enjoy long life,
and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.
Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,
he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.
“My servant will acquit many,
for he carried their sins.
So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,
he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,
because he willingly submitted to death
and was numbered with the rebels,
when he lifted up the sin of many
and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”
…just as many were horrified by the sight of you…
He was so disfigured He no longer looked like a man;
His form was so marred He no longer looked human
so now He will startle many nations.
The revelation of His Story might be right around the corner —
The Suffering Servant will come to earth as The Exalted King!
Will you be found in Christ, alone?
My sin — oh the bliss of this glorious thought —
My sin — not in part but the whole —
Was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!
Praise the Lord!
Praise the LORD,
Oh, my soul!!!
A note to the reader: For any who hurt due to abuse, it’s okay to stand up and speak out. It’s the hardest thing to do, but it will allow the healing to begin. Also, “you” is meant to be universal…I have had too many abusers in my life to name just one.
I am not your punching bag anymore.
I will not stand by and take whatever abuse you choose to dish out.
I will not remain in your presence, because your words are a lie straight from hell.
God says I am His.
God tells me I am beloved.
You tell me I am not worthy…not beautiful…not real.
I know I’m real.
I know what I feel and I know why I feel as I do.
I became a non-entity to you.
I filled up whatever need you may have had for a time…
And when I realized I couldn’t keep it up, I would never be enough…
I curled up into my shell.
And you left.
I was the butt of your jokes.
I was the blame behind your anger.
I was the target of your rage.
I learned I was an object at two years old.
Now, at fifty-two, I’ve decided to become a person.
I will be seen…by those who choose to cherish and not condemn.
I believe it’s time to realize I am worthy…
Because He is worthy.
He sacrificed Himself for me;
HE calls me His own.
Your names for me are a lie.
I choose to hear the Truth:
God loves me.
By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell…With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women He made in His image…Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.
~verses from James 3