Archive | March 2014

An Epidemic?

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Our church has experienced something of an epidemic since October of last year. More than a few people, men, women and youth have come to the altar requesting Believer’s Baptism. Not because they have all come to that point of realization that they did not have the personal relationship with Jesus that they thought they did, although some have come because of that, but because they got the baptism before the salvation. (Or the point of beginning that personal relationship.) It has personally impacted our family but there have been a lot more people than our family members.

Does this concern me? Yes and no.

Yes because of the number of children who have now entered their “tween” or teenage years who have come forward explaining they weren’t really having a personal relationship with Christ before because they didn’t understand what that meant. They didn’t understand the cost of discipleship, the daily taking up of their cross to follow Jesus, or what following Jesus in this world with its viewpoints could or would entail.

When our own daughter experienced this I remembered how her father and I talked about whether to encourage or allow her to be baptized at a young age (she was nine) or not. We both know personally, people who make this decision at ages as young as five and it is genuine. We both know personally, people who have made this decision at ages well above the childhood years and it wasn’t genuine. Since a personal relationship with Jesus is personal it isn’t for anyone else to tell you whether what you’re experiencing is genuine or not. So you proceed in prayer.

In time God is going to reveal misguided decisions. In time God will make it right. IF you are willing to listen. IF you obey. That’s why no.

Here’s the most important part of becoming a Christian, a Believer, a Follower of Jesus Christ, a Disciple of the One True and Living God – you have to decide. When God reveals the truth you have to be willing to admit the truth, decide to accept his offer of a personal relationship with him and, in our denomination, that means setting following through with believer’s baptism.

Believer’s baptism occurs after one becomes a believer, after one enters into a personal relationship with God.

Regardless of whether your baptism was before or after your salvation, the most important thing is you have a personal relationship with Christ on his terms. Baptism in itself means little more than you got wet if it wasn’t a believer’s baptism. So my question to you is simple I think. Do you have a personal relationship with Christ?

I’ve laid the plan of salvation out before on my blog but today I do so again below.

–Donna

“I’m not asking you if you go to church, belong to a church, were baptized as a baby, have been baptized as an adult but not as a true Believer in Jesus Christ. I’m asking you have you been born again? When your earthly life is over, where will your spirit reside? Heaven or hell. In the presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or in Hades in the presence of Satan? Do you KNOW Jesus personally, intimately, deeply, truthfully?

If you aren’t sure, please read the following scriptures. If you do not have a Bible (and if you don’t and you would like one please leave me a comment) there are multiple on-line sources you can utilize to find these scriptures yourself and I encourage you to do so. Be sure what I quote to you is what these scriptures read in the Bible. I’ve used the New International Version (NIV) if you look these passages up in a Bible of another translation (King James, New King James, English Standard Version, The Living Bible – for example) the words won’t be the same but the meaning should be.

These first eight scripture passages are sometimes referred to as the Roman Road. They will walk you through the steps to becoming born again, and help explain why and how that happens. The Gospel of John is my suggestion for your first venture into reading and understanding the Word of God. It is one of my personal favorites in the New Testament.

Romans 1:20-21 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Romans 3:23 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 10:9-10 “If you declare 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 profess your faith and are saved.”

Romans 10:13 “…for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 11:36 “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”

Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

The Gospel of John 3:16-18
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

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Empty

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Heat.
Patience.
Sleep.
Three items in the battle,
That when the arrow hits- Bullseye.
A few precious moments of relief.

Lord, You are with me.
I am not alone.

Broken equipment.
Blazing fires.
Shattered pride.
Three casualties of the war.
Replacement so impossible- crumbling.
Must have time to grieve.

Lord, You are with me.
I am not alone.

No miracle.
No turning from the Truth.
Healing waits…
And time marches on
To the beat of Your drum
I will not be afraid.

Lord, You are with me.
I will never go alone.
             d.f.a.v. 3-26-14

Amen!
–d.f.a.v.

Cottage by the Sea at 12:52 a.m.

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Abba Father,
Let my heart’s voice join nature’s
     Let there be praise-
     Let there be worship-
     Let there be prayer-
Accept from this creature
     All that she has
     All that she is
     All You made her to be.
Abba, I am hurting greatly-
     I wrestle with hating the pain
     I fight not to despise the chair
     I loathe the limitations.
My dreams mock me silently-
     This half life isn’t enough
     This foot on my neck chafing
     This limbo living annoying
Never did this existence occur to me
     Should I have said no
     Taken my chance on dying
     Rather than a mutilated existence?
What road signs did I fail to see
     Or is there a greater point
     A true kingdom reason
     This is my path?
O Mighty God here am I
     Reveal Yourself thoroughly
     Share my burden please
     Set my feet toward you.
I know I am always in Your eyes
     Remind me every time I falter
     Remind me each time I fall
     Remind me I do not walk alone.
               d.f.a.v. 3/27/14
Always in prayer,
     Donna
    

If

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If the authenticity of my Christianity
Depended upon how many Bible verses I could quote,
How many hymns I could sing,
How many times a day I prayed,
How often I served others instead of me…
Then I would fail the test.

If the genuineness of my Faith
Is proven by the strength of my will to remain in His,
Whether I’m successful at thinking good,
Discerning good spirits from bad,
Attend church every Wednesday
And twice on Sunday…
I would fail the test.

Should the measuring rod of my Believerhood,
Be every standard in His Word,
Or how closer I am to the fiery furnace,
Or if my feet dangle in the lion’s den
If I am always cheerful…
Then I would fail the test…

If my walk with the Lord needed courage to survive,
Answers to the hard questions,
Lies to never escape my mouth
Bad habits never to form,
Saddness never to darken my heart,
Fear to never block out the Son…
Then I would fail this test…

Yet if the test was did I love Him,
With my imperfect heart, soul, mind,
If in loving Him did I love others
Love others and try to be kind
Show them what His love reveals
If so I may prove how I love Him,
Thus, I may pass the test by His grace.
           -d.f.a.v. 3-26-14

Loving Him,
–Donna

Do We Listen

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Many times in life we want things
Things we see as good
     as necessary
     as harmless
And we pray and we ask God
Give us this thing we want
     and we set about
     to obtain our desire
Helping ourselves to our want
Feeding our hunger for it
     with our own commentary
     surely this is best?

We pray, for we’d not pursue this
Without praying and asking
     God grant me this
     Bless me in this way
We are persistent like the widow
We shall find what we seek
     the Bible tells us
     seek and you will find
We have not because we ask not
God desires to give us good things
     this is surely on His list
     our reward for this day.

In our praying we are focused
This that we want so badly
     must be God’s will
     it is a good thing
Obstacles are to be overcome
Caution signs prayed past
     detour signs ignored
     for this is right and good
When what we want is delayed
Red flags, warnings appear
     we want it badly still
     it is for us the brass ring.

Yet God is saying “No my child”
This isn’t what I have for you
     wait a little longer
     open your eyes
Perhaps financing falls through
Or houses fail inspection
     family feuds begin
     we have to settle instead
Everywhere we look is turmoil
Unexpected roadblocks appear
     our desire grows stronger
     we overlook stormy skies.

The way seems so right to us
What we want so benign
     surely it is God’s will
     this is a blessing we seek
And we reshape puzzle pieces
We redraw the road map
     we cover up pitfalls
     we make the picture fit
So sure are we that we know
That for us this is the best
     we desire it badly still
     do we hear God speak?

“What I have for you is better.”
“This will happen in my time.”
     we ignore these words
     we turn off our ears
“…broad is the way…to destruction…”
“I know the plans I have…”
     but this is our want
     this is our desire
We mean to follow God in all
Our intention is to honor Him
     but we have not heard
     we do not truly hear.

Then this we wanted is ours
See we are right after all
     the others had less belief
     we were right all along
This person is now our spouse
The job is now our position
     we have achieved our goal
     the wanted is ours
The car is ours to drive
The house is ours as home
     “Oh what a relief!”
     Hear how sweet the song?

Until the skipped stitches
Cause the dream to unravel
     the ignored can’t continue to be
     obstacles beckon in droves
The raise just isn’t enough
The new employer closes shop
     the car breaks down
     the spouse walks out
Didn’t we pray about this?
Did we not seek the Lord?
     Yes, but we now see,
     we ignored God’s no.
               d.f.a.v. 3-24-14

Are we listening?
–Donna

Prayer from the Cottage by the Sea 3-20-14

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Abba Father:
The sea waves lap calmly against sand
Almost as if playing tag with the rocks
Giving up a bounty of treasures with gentle hand
An easy swaying moves the dock.

I’ve come as close as my wheelchair allows
As the sun peeks on the edge of morning
My soul longs to be emerged somehow
In the presence of You in this time testifying.

It is not enough to be nearly there
You are calling me closer to You by the Sea
Where your spirit can lap gentle on me and chair
Where Your presence lifts me unburdens me.

Heart pines for the lightening horizon
To be in the wave first kissed by today’s sun
Where darkness gives way to light arising
O to be as one with Father, Spirit, Son.

Where this earth events have limited me
I will trust in You to carry me through
Out to the sea where spirit is free
Here am I carry me awake my soul anew.

Emerge me in all You Jehovah God are
Embed me as seamlessly as sea and sky
Graft my soul and heart near and far
Plant my feet on the Rock my spirit to fly.

As sea, sand, wind, waves, sun are one
Woven together for calm or rough times
Weave me into You for eternity’s run
As sea breezes cause chapel bells to chime.

Total immersion carry me there
Your might and power, mercy and grace
Saturate me until I am in You soul bare
Only then can the world see You in my face.
                    d.f.a.v. 3/20/2014
Surrendering all,
Donna

Wrong Seed

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“Therefore , if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there in front of the altar.  First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and  offer your gift.”  Matthew 5:23-24 N.I.V.

A case of the danger of gossip
When a remark taken out of context
Shatters the trust of friendship,
The matter festers and grows.
The injured part so insulted
Wraps themselves in wounded pride
Watering the weed so planted
Resentment and bitterness grows.
The misquoted person is clueless
As rumors start to abound
Only adding to a relationship mess
Yet they smile and pretend its okay.
More than ten years slip past
Civility is clearly redefined
Then it occurs to one to ask at last
“Was it something I’ve done?”
The incident is replayed with anger
Then as the truth slowly unfolds
Reveals its really been a stranger
False in more ways than one.
Ten years of growing a crop of weeds
Over ten years each time they prayed
They tended the wrong kind of seeds
This their true gifts to the Lord.
The lesson of this story doesn’t falter
Jesus said it first long ago
Before bringing your gift to the altar
Seek out your angry brother, make amends
Pull the bitterness weed out cleanly
Be sure you get the roots and all
Of the misunderstanding now you’re tending
Let restortation begin complete renewed
Then return with your gift to the altar
Offer it now to the Lord and  King
And it is received by Him in his glory
For consciences are clear again.

3-18-14 d-f-a.v.
–Jesus knows the heart,
  –Donna

It Was My Party

Or Why Turning 50 was a Big Deal to Me

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Some people have asked, “Why celebrate turning 50? Its not that old anymore.”

My answer, “The last decade of my life”

In 2004 between the months of January and June I was in the hospital five times and each time doctors were giving little hope I’d live. God spared me. 

January 2005 I’m back again and I’ve spent a week at least in a hospital every year but three since then. Every time God sparing me in ways only He could arrange. Even blood clots that should have killed me passing through my heart didn’t and while modern medicine couldn’t explain it, I could. G-O-D.

Even when the choice was my leg or my life next time there was a blood clot or a raging infection, and there would always be a next time. God worked in His way and His time.

I am well aware I have been living the last ten years on “borrowed” time. Seldom does a day pass I don’t remember. Now, at 50 another truth emerges in my mind, my mother died from a blood clot to her heart at the age of 54. Never has 54 seemed so young as it does now.

Do I think I am dying? No more than you.

Life is fragile, the veil between this life and eternity is thin and easily torn. Yet, I admit God has held that line for me numerous times already. But I have no inside track on knowing my appointed day and time, no more than you.   My life is no more valuable than anyone else’s. 

Personally I think we should celebrate more often. Celebrate this life, even with it’s flaws. Celebrate our families even with our grumpy, scary and no-one-can stand them relatives.

Celebrate our smallest victories while learning from every defeat. Celebrate strange diseases that rob our bodies of good health but not our souls of eternity. Celebrate turning 50 and just beginning to understand God isn’t finished with me quite yet.

So, yes this year, I wanted a party. I needed the opportunity to say “thank you”. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for loving my family. Thank you for repairing our old place, helping us move into a new one and all your sweat equity you’ve poured into us.

Thank you for caring for our daughter so Chris could care for me. Thank you for your cards reminding me you were praying. Thank you, thank you for your prayers.

Thank you for strawberry cheesecake when I had no appetite. Thank you for weeks of meals while I recovered.

Thank you for seeing someone in me I seldom see in myself… a woman of strength, courage, resiliency, peace, talent…most of all Jesus. For really He is the hero of the last 50 years of my life.

All the good you attribute to me is Him. For that I am most grateful.

Thanks for coming to my party, into my life, hanging in and hanging on.

Tomorrow I am 50 years and 1 day old, I think I will celebrate.
Love,
–Donna

Cottage by the Sea @ 50

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Jehovah God,
Today Lord I am 50 years, 9 months in the making.
50 years ago my mother’s body yielded one wailing daughter
Me…my beginning as a child
Her’s as a mother
Along the way I chose the road I’m taking.

We celebrated the big 5-0 on Sunday and it was good
Today I come here to reflect
Staring out over sea meeting land
Smelling the salt air fill my lungs
The sea wash sandcastles away where they stood.

Time is like this picture perfect sea before me
Washing in, pulling out waves crashing in
Waves turning out
Treasures given up by the depths
If one has patience to walk, wade and see.

I’m this shoreline today as I turn 50
Familiar yet see still fighting
Scattered with the sea’s bounty on shore
How is it I don’t mind the number
As much as I imagined I’d fear 50?

Thank You for the nine months You spent knitting me together,
The 50 years you continue shaping me
Your understanding and compassion
Your tools of gentle correction
This 50 year’s will be with us forever.
          –Amen
                    d.f.a.v. 3/13
–Grateful at 50,
–Donna

Lately

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Lately Lord have I taken the time with You
To check in about life and what I do?
Have I shared with You what’s going on
Thoughts taking root, those now gone?
Have I wept with You over human brutality
The violence, the wrath, the shockability?
A look at the fabric You weave of my life
Have we shared this lately after storm and strife?
Lately Lord have I just come to You
With heart in my hand overwhelmed with gratitude?
Have I offered my praise to the Living God
The Creator of sky, water and sod?
Have I taken a moment to celebrate
That You, Jehovah God, are never late?
Repented of sin and turned away
Trusting Your strength for a brand new day?
Have I rejoiced in the resilience of faith and hope
As Your children recover and turn to You to cope?
Lately Lord at the end of earth’s daily hours
Have I paused just to listen to what You express by Your power?
Have I poured myself out from the depth of my soul,
Leaving no sin unconfessed, full disclosure the goal?
Have my feet found direction as we’ve talked
Do I understand the path we’ve walked?
Lately Lord have I been too self-absorbed
Leaving You out, been way too self-centered?
Wanting and doing are not the same thing
And I just need to know am I worshipping The King?
Have I met with You in solitude
Asked You to check my head, heart and mood?
Lately Lord just what have I done
To point others to Father, Spirit and Son?
          d.f.a.v. 3-12-14
–Donna