Month: January 2021

Word Pictures for 2021

Sunday Sermon 1.31.21

At the beginning of a new year, I suspect most of us do some sort of evaluations, projections and/or goal setting. For the last couple of years, that process for me has gone a bit differently and I’d like to share it with you.

Last January, (2020) when out walking and praying I saw a very unusual sight along my path. So, of course, I took pictures. Here’s what I saw:

Trail sign post cement foundation
Foundation up close

Here on the trail I was walking was a cement sign post foundation totally dug up, uprooted and laying exposed rather than firmly planted.

It’s job was to hold signs and point the way but the foundation had been dug up and it was no longer functional.

Trail sign post

The Lord used these images the rest of my walk to help me see what my purpose was to be in 2020. I was to be one who re-established the long lasting foundations and pointed the Way.

Now, as I look back over last year, I realize what I saw on that path last January was not just for me, but was a picture of our nation. Our foundations would be uprooted and signposts broken down in an attempt to remap America’s course. As you reflect on news images of tearing down statues and the like, isn’t that what we saw?

So this January, when I had the same sense that the Lord was speaking to me with pictures, I really paid attention. Could it also be that what He was showing me was a bigger picture for 2021? You decide, as I share.

Last week, I was in prayer, asking the Lord to show me His heart, and help me to see things the way that He does. Later that day, while at work, my glasses broke. The frame snapped and I caught the lens in my hand. My boss was on hand and assisted with the magic of super glue. I have since had to reglue the frame and see the eye doctor for new glasses.

Broken eyeglass frame

But within seconds of my frame breaking, I had the definite sense that He was telling me that He was breaking my framework of seeing things and replacing it with His framework for seeing things. I knew then and there, standing at Art Sea in Dana Point Harbor, that the Lord was wanting to break my way of seeing things. He was indeed answering my prayer to see things the way that He does. He wanted me to get new glasses, and I’m sure a new set of eyes altogether.

That very same week, I went to the boat to cover the dinghy in preparation for the coming rains. As I approached Lady Debra, I realized she was moving about the slip more than normal. I opened her up and then inspected her to find out what was going on.

Walking around the bow it was obvious that she was not secured tightly. The bow pulpit was bobbing and nearly bumping into the dock box. As I turned to the port side, I clearly saw why.

dock line, perfect curl

Do you see why?

Broken dock line, coiled perfectly, up close

How bout now?

Brocken dock line, obvious

The dock line had been broken in the high winds that we had just gone through. I had to replace it.

Dock lines are meant to be attached to the dock at one end and to the vessel at another end. Like this:

Red white blue dock line

Several days after the dock line incident, following a personal time of singing, “Take Me Deeper into You”, I had that sense again. That sense that the Lord was using this picture to speak to me. The message was, if you want to go deeper Debbie, you have to remove the dock lines.

If I want more of Jesus, more understanding of His Word and ways and more walking in obedience to Him; if I want to go deeper in my Christian faith and walk, I have to leave my comfortable slip in the safe harbor and “launch out into the deep.” Luke 5:4 I must cast off my insecurities and trust His direction out in the unfamiliar waters. I must release my dock lines, those things that keep me tired down to the safe and predictable Christian life.

Four dock lines have to be released before Lady Debra can leave her comfortable and safe slip. In my life, I am sure that there are those things that I hold to, believing they are my security; when all the while they need to be broken or released in order for me to launch out deeper into what God has for me.

These two visual experiences, the broken glasses and broken dock line are my personal word pictures for 2021. They will fuel me, challenge me and remind me of what I believe the Lord wants of me through this next year.

But could it be, that they are for US, too?

I am convinced that everything that can be shaken in 2021 will be shaken. Hebrews 12:27 That means, things that we don’t need will be broken off of us, whether we like it or not. The way we see things will change and and our lens must adjust. He is truly wanting us to see the world and all its people, plots and plans as He does. So we need a new framework.

Could it be that we need a new framework, a new way of seeing things because he is taking us to a place we have never been before. He is taking us out of our comfortable Christianity, where we have lived within the safe confines of our home or church and He is pushing us out into the deep, unknown, exciting life on the high seas of the Kingdom of God. Is He breaking our secure attachments so that we will trust Him while voyaging the unknown?

I do believe that 2021 will be another, different, rollercoaster ride, and for believers will be an even greater sifting time. What and how we see coupled with staying comfortable is up to us. Hot, cold, or lukewarm is our personal decision and one we will be held responsible for. Revelation 3:16

2021 will be exacting. I do not believe any of us will be immune to the Call of the Spirit to come closer, see from His perspective and move freely in the depths of His love, purpose and joy.

I’m in.

I’ve lived 66 years and I know that the best is yet to come. God is up to something fantastic and I want to be a part of it. These word pictures have helped to reaffirm that to me, even if I must leave my comfort zone.

I hope they have helped you too, visualize truth for 2021.

Go with God.

How Animals Stand Against the Wind

Today I want to share some interesting facts about a few fascinating animals, and hope that in them you will remember that we too, are in the animal kingdom, and we too can stand against the winds that blow against us.

As you know, I love to sail, and therefore should love the wind, right? Well, I do BUT… when the winds come with warnings they are no fun any longer. The National Weather Service has created an array of wind warnings, watches and advisories to help all of us animals prepare for winds; they range from high wind warnings to hurricane force wind warning. There is even a scale used to measure wind speeds, I remember teaching this in 6th grade Science – The Beaufort Scale – again ranging from calm (zero mph) to hurricane (64 mph and over.)

Winds are bound to blow and we all will face them. Winds are scary, uncertain and can be dangerous. How do animals stand against them?

Outside of my window, on the lake below, I enjoy watching the variety of birds that make the lake their home, and our favorite has become the American Coot. These guys have been especially interesting to watch in high wind situations. I marvel how a 1-2 pound bird and stay it’s course and not be blown away in the heaviest of winds.

Take a look at what I mean. These guys are tough.

How do they not get blown away? How do they stay on course? They don’t have webbed feet like ducks, even tho’ they are related to ducks, just a different order.

The secret to their staying on course during high winds is found and seen in their feet. Check these puppies out.

Weird, right?

Their feet have 2 – 3 long toes that are actually broad lobes, which are adept for land and water. They help them kick through water and their palmate toes fold back when they need to walk on land. Additionally, those odd toes are used to help them run on the surface of the water to get themselves airborne.

Lastly, their feet are used for fighting with other coots for territory, mates or food.

Built into the design of these animals is all they need to stay afloat and on course during the fiercest winds. Their weird feet, strong legs and even their internal wiring keeps them warm, on course, and strong for whatever Mother Nature brings their way.

Pretty cool, yeh?

But let’s look at other birds. Birds respond to high winds differently.

Some keep track of barometric pressure and postpone their migration. There are even some birds that fly exhaustively into the eye of the storm and keep pace with it until it dies down! Now, THAT’S strong and crazy!

Small birds, like chickadees and wrens, who don’t fly long distances will fly even less during high winds. Bluebirds and woodpeckers, who are cavity dwellers, will simply stay inside in the winds.

Solitary birds will shelter in the high grass and the perching birds have talons that lock onto branches. This lock mechanism is a reflex which requires no additional energy and so the bird can even sleep, locked on to the branch during a hurricane!

In crosswinds, while maintaining their flight speed, birds have the ability to keep their heads steady and pointing in the direction it is going. It then turns it’s body into the wind to offset the wind gusts blowing against it. All the while they are managing their steady head and body sail, they are flapping their wings at 14 flaps a second! Talk about stability??!!

Ornithologists tell us that there are 2 reasons birds survive high winds:

  • location – they take advantage of their surroundings, habitat
  • preparation – they are designed to survive in bad weather

Part of this preparation, or design genius is their “counter-current exchange”. This is the design in birds legs where heat is returned to its body and cold to its feet thereby allowing them to stand on cold ground and not get cold. This is just one of the unique features birds have to help them survive winds. What about feathers, eyes, wings?

Have you heard about the feral horses in North Carolina and how they survive the hurricanes there?

Do you know how sharks know to get out of the shallow water before a hurricane arrives?

Pick an animal. I challenge you to find one that has not been designed to survive and therefore stand in high winds.

It therefore follows, that we too as members of Kingdom Animalia have been designed to stand in high winds.

So please remember that, there are no crosswinds, no opposing winds, societal, political or media winds that blow against you that you have not been designed to withstand.

Your Creator designed you with everything that you need to not only survive the blowing winds against you but keep your head up, your course sure and your weird little feet on solid ground, or paddling through the deep waters.

Be strong, my friends. You were built for these times, to stand against the winds.

Cheers to you.

“Us verses Them”- A Time-tested Solution

Sunday Sermon 1.23.21

The nation I live in is changing and I don’t recognize who we are any longer and I wonder where we are headed.

There are terms and words and descriptions and ideas I don’t understand; words like- woke, intersectionality, gas light, call-out culture, and microaggressions, to name a very few. I have been learning a great deal and trying to make sense of it all.

Perhaps that is why, over the holidays, upon the recommendation of my son, I read and thoroughly enjoyed the book, “The Coddling of the American Mind“. (G Lukianoff, I. Haidt) In the book, the authors address many of these terms giving their foundational meanings, as well as submit what they call 3 great “Untruths”. These untruths, according to the authors, are well intended, but bad ideas being prominently promoted in academia, our culture, society and law for the past many years.

One of their ideas, using my summarization is, “Us verses Them”.

Listening to and watching events of recent months in our nation, “us verses them” is clearly visible. We are never without someone or group raging against another group. One set of beliefs is criticized and mocked by another point of view. “Us verses them” is at play.

We have been segregated into groups based on immutable qualities and characteristics that we did not even choose because they were beyond our control. We have been pitted against one another in an effort to divide us even more. “Us verses them” is at play.

But today, I want to offer a time tested solution to “us verses them”, and in doing so reaffirm a much needed foundation for not only our personal lives but our nation. For when we build on sure foundations, our security is guaranteed no matter the blasting “us verses them” winds that blow.

What foundation is that?

God made all of us.

Without exception, we were all made in God’s image, each unique in design, purpose and destiny. What God makes is good! He don’t make junk or second class citizens. Genesis 1-2

He breathed life’s breath into our lungs and as a proud parent, took joy in his design and marveled at our likeness. Created in His image, God’s idea, His child – that is who I am. I am because of Him, He made me. I had nothing to do with it. He loves me just the way He made me. Psalms 139; Psalm 71:6; Jeremiah 1:5; Galatians 1:15

All 7.8 billion people on the planet right now can make the above proclamation. God made each one of them, delights in each of them and loves all of them equally.

Please review these ancient verses:

  • Genesis 1:27 – God made man in his image, male and female he created them
  • Deuteronomy 10:17 – He does not show partiality
  • Acts 17:26 – From one man he made all nations
  • Acts 10:34-35 – God shows no partiality
  • Galatians 3:28 – There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
  • Colossians 3:11 – Here there is no Gentile nor Jew, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all
  • Acts 10:28 – But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.
  • Malachi 2:10 – Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us?

God, through Jesus death on the cross, erased forever any lines of segregation, prejudice and “us verses them”. Talk about inclusion?!

As new creations in Jesus, we are given His identity, and that identity has nothing to do with religious, ethnic, cultural or socioeconomic features. Galatians 3:26-29

Our challenge then, is to keep putting off our old identity and way of referring to others and put on the new man which should be without distinction. Colossians 3:8-11

We are reminded that upon Jesus death, when the veil in the Temple was ripped in half, it represented the destruction of barriers and all dividing walls of hostility, thus making one new humanity, in peace and reconciled to God. Ephesians 2:11-22

These and other ancient scriptures remind us of the basic foundation of the oneness of mankind. All of us made by God, in His image, for His pleasure. All. of. us.

But what happens is we forget. And when we forget, we inevitably end up sitting in judgement of others. Isn’t that prejudice? And what results is an “us verses them” mentality, or perspective. Voila, that’s where we are today.

Not one of us is without guilt here. We are not perfect and yet, we still need to strive to live by our foundation(s). That is the beauty of walking with Jesus; he loves us enough to stick with us as we change and to allow us to fail as we grow along the way. But he loves us so much He will not allow us to remain the same. Made in His image, we have our work (actually His work in us) cut out for us, right?

Jesus walked with Pharisees, tax collectors, fishermen, men, women, Jews, Greeks, soldiers, prostitutes, thieves, lepers, Samaritans, the demon possessed, rulers, peasants… you name it. Jesus not only associated with but loved equally everyone. He even took flack from others that He did so.

His heart was always driven by love and mercy. His heart was free from prejudice and favoritism. He was not partial. He is our example. In Him there is no “us verses them”. He loves us all and expects us to do the same. He told us so in John 13:34, “Love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

This foundation of love for all, because we are all made in the image of God, is for both personal and national stability. It is time-tested. It is sure.

Therefore, it is incumbent on us to re-fortify this foundation in our lives. To fight against the tendency to see things as “us verses them”, but rather to show mercy, love, and grace for all – period.

So, as I am learning these new terms and labels in our society, I will also seek to live without them and stand firmly upon the time-tested solution of love, mercy, and grace for all.

Lord, please help me, help us – all.

Go with God.

After You Have Done Everything, Stand.

This is a familiar quote from around 60 AD by an imprisoned Roman citizen.

Consider. After you have “done everything”, don’t you want to just sit? Rest. Cool off. Check out for a bit? Unplug? Disengage? You’re pooped and are not feeling like standing.

Hey, when I was teaching, on my feet all day, doing everything, guess what I wanted to do and did when I got home? Not stand.

Now, when I work, mostly short shifts of 3-5 hours on my feet, having done everything, I still want to sit not stand afterwards. What about you?

But these 3 images came to mind today and with them, our title phrase – after you have done everything, stand.

The first image – A Sentinel Tomb Guard; standing guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, VA.

The second, the brave men of the 28th Regiment, 5th Marine Division, US Marines, who on Feb. 23, 1945 captured the extinct volcano, Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima.

The third picture, a WW2 Veteran, who from a wheel chair and a long life of sacrifice, paid honor and tribute during a patriotic parade.

These men demonstrate what it means “after having done everything – stand.” Allow me to explain.

The Tomb Guard, a member of the 3rd Regiment (Old Guard) US Army, volunteers for this assignment and gives him or herself to the strict training that goes with it. After basic qualifications with personal records, financials and family, if accepted, they begin training.

This training is harsh, beginning with 2 weeks of basic instruction, uniform prep, walk sequence and behavioral assessments. Then they are tested. This test is the first of four that they must pass during their entire training period. If they do pass, they will spend the next 7-8 months in 12 hour duty days with homework galore. They are not allowed any TV, may not even acknowledge jokes while in quarters, may not acknowledge the public, and are not allowed even to speak to another guard unless spoken to.

During this period they are prepped and tested on three more occasions in these areas:

Uniform – they are allowed 2 minor infractions, no major infractions, and all items never more than 1/64 inch out of place. Imagine, they must pass a 100% inspection, where 97% is failing! There has never been a 100%.

Knowledge – they must memorize a 17 page packet with info on Arlington Cemetery and write it out, including punctuation. Passing the test with no more than 10 mistakes. If you miss a comma on 2 pages, that is a double fail.

Performance – On a 200 point inspection you are allowed no major infractions, 2 minor infractions. This includes performance on foot placement on the mat and cadence while walking the mat. They aim for a 72 beat per minute cadence.

There is a 10% completion rate of passing these 4 tests. Guards who fail the last test, may test again. If you fail again, you are released. You can come back but must start from the beginning. If you pass, you are a Fully Qualified Sentinel and earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge, which is sterling silver and worn over the right, breast pocket.

While on the 24 hour duty then, every changing of the guard is evaluated and any infractions result in being released. So these highly regarded Sentinels are always doing everything to stand.

The standards for revoking their badge are the only ones in the military that are based on personal conduct. Any felonies or DUI’s means their badge is taken away and their name is stricken from the esteemed record.

These men and women, have truly done all, and their goal is to be standing in the end! If they are not standing in the end, their work has been in vain. In fact, that’s when their training comes fully into play. Standing in the end is the point of their training.

When the 4th and 5th Marine Division invaded Iwo Jima on Feb. 19, 1945 their goal was to secure the island as an important airbase for fighter escorts and emergency landings between Japan and the US bases in the Mariana Islands. Their 36 day assault on this “Sulfur Island” of the extinct volcano Mount Suribachi, was a deadly one in which we lost 7,000 Marines and another 20,000 were wounded.

These Marines reached the base of the volcano on Feb. 21 and by nightfall the next day they had surrounded the mountain. On 2/23, by 10:30 AM they had reached the top and raised a small, American flag. Later that afternoon, 5 Marines, and a Navy Corpsman returned to raise a larger, visible American flag.

This image of that second flag raising was sent back to America and along with that flag raising, so too rose the spirits of Americans and brave warriors in each of the theatres of war.

Perhaps you’ve seen movies or read stories of the bravery displayed on that airstrip. Admiral Nimitz, famously immortalized it this way,

“Among the Americans who served on Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue.”

Pacific Fleet, Commander in Chief Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

That very image became the template for the world’s largest, bronze statue – the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, VA, AKA the Marine Corps Memorial. It’s 32 foot high figures, raising the 60 foot flag stands to remind us all of the bravery demonstrated by those Marines in that battle, who did all they possibly could to stand at the end of that battle and raise that beautiful American flag.

Lastly, that WW2 Vet, a member of The Greatest Generation, after having served, lived, fought demons in country and his own personal demons at home, after everything he had been through he chose to stand, again.

With every excuse to sit, and stay down and given every exception by others to sit, he was driven by all that was within him, by all he had been through, by all that mattered to him, and by all he had fought to preserve to STAND. He had done all and now he would stand.

The training, the battle, the long fight… what is it for if not for us to stand in the end?

After we have done all, it is time to stand; maintain our position, hold down the victories, show off our training and execute the strategic plan and purpose bred into our fiber. It’s not time to sit, hold back, give up, or rest.

If you have done everything you know to do, up to this point- then it is time for you to stand your ground.

Cheers to you.

Props to Peter

Sunday Sermon 1.16.21

What would compel a person to step out of a boat that is in a storm?

As a sailor, who enjoys sailing the coastline of Southern California, this question gripped me, “Why would anyone leave a boat in the middle of a storm?” Consider it, why?

The foundation story for this question is found in Matthew 14:22-34, where Peter, a new follower of Jesus, aboard a fishing boat (sail boat) was, along with his other disciple buddies caught in a fierce storm. Here are the conditions on the lake, when we pick up the story:

  • it was dark at night
  • they were far from land
  • they were being pounded by high waves
  • there were strong, opposing winds

The men on board this boat were not having a good time! In fact it was dire for them.

Again, from my own personal experience, were I aboard Lady Debra in these four conditions, I would be absolutely terrified! Which is why I was wondering why leave the boat? What could ever be so motivating that you would actually step INTO these conditions without the protection of the boat?

(I can honestly say that each of these four conditions are ones in which I would NEVER sail. I don’t sail at night and get concerned when the sun is setting and we are still out. I choose to sail, nearly always, with land in sight. High waves and strong winds are no-no’s for me. Absolutely not, no way, not me on my boat!)

The boys were in a very difficult situation that did not look good at all. The best thing coming was dawn.

As the story goes, “Just before dawn, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake”. Matthew 14:25 Or put another way, “walking on the waves.”

Now we have some good news appearing. Jesus is showing up in the midst of the storm, walking on top of its waves. A lot could be said about this, but let’s focus on the disciples, who responded with terror, thinking he was a ghost, and crying out in fear. Matthew 14:26 To them, Jesus showing up like this seemed to add to the terror of the moment. Oh no, a ghost too, we’re gonna die! We’re dead.

Jesus wasted no time, and spoke to them across the waves and in the wind and said,

“Be brave and don’t be afraid. I am here.”

Matthew 14:27 TPT

These are reassuring words, for sure! We will come back to them.

Peter, upon hearing Jesus’ words responded with a statement, that on its face, to me seems odd. He said,

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (and waves and winds, in the darkness a long way from shore)

Matthew 14:28

Herein lies, our opening question. Why in the world would anyone leave a boat and step into the storm surrounding it? That’s crazy!

Well, I thought of 3 reasons why someone might do that –

  1. the ship is sinking – escaping it may save my life (remember Titanic?)
  2. suicide – taking a permanent solution to a temporary problem
  3. delusional – extreme conditions at sea causing me to see ghosts

Clearly, none of these apply to Peter and the gang. So why step out into those conditions? Why?

I can vividly imagine these conditions on the lake and the guys in the boat. I can vividly see the waves overwhelming the boat and the winds opposing their every attempt to right the boat. I can imagine the panic of darkness in this storm all the while knowing there is no land in sight or even near. This is real in my minds eye. This is horrific.

And yet Peter steps out of the relative safety of the boat and into the uncertainty of this dark storm. Why? What motivates him?

In one way, Peter’s statement back to Jesus is not unlike what many of us have said; Peter said, “if it’s you…”.

How many times have you said or heard said,

  • God, if you’re real…
  • God, if it’s really you…
  • God, if you’re in this…

That part I get, I understand because I have done it, said it. How ’bout you?

But Peter’s “conditional statement” If it’s you… then tell me to come to you…” puzzles me.

In math, the conditional statement formula is, p ➡ q. P equals the hypothesis, q equals the conclusion and the arrow shows the logical connection.

To me, I fail to see the logical connection between the two. It is not logical to come to Jesus on the high waves in this storm, yet it for sure is a conditional statement. So, what’s the connection? Why did he leave the boat and step willfully into the dark storm?

When Jesus responded to Peter’s statement, he did so by simply saying to him, “Come, join me.” Matthew 14:29

Peter made the connection and stepped into the stormy waves, not the glassy lake. Peter stepped into the roaring winds, just as the new day was dawning. Peter left the little safety he had in the storm tossed vessel in blatant defiance of all things logical. Yet, for him it made totally, logical sense to step towards Jesus on the turbulent sea.

Why?

Remember what Jesus told the guys when they first saw him on the water?

“Take courage. I am here. Don’t be afraid.”

Matthew 14:27 NIV

THAT statement is the key! THAT statement is Peter’s motivation! THAT statement was Peter’s reason for stepping into the storm and towards Jesus! THAT statement!

Peter was familiar with part of THAT statement. He’d heard about it for his whole Jewish life.

He’d heard how his ancestors had at one time called their God Elohim, (this is a title, not a name) until Exodus chapter 3, when God revealed to Moses His name as “I AM”. Exodus 3:14

He’d heard how I AM had delivered the Israelites from 400 years of slavery, sent plagues and judgment to Egypt, parted the Red Sea, delivered them from enemies, armies, threats, disease, judgment and so much more.

He’d heard that I AM was the source of all power and eternal in nature. How I AM was self-sufficient, self-sustaining. How I AM was and is and will be forever the same omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God of the universe.

He knew the name I AM. He’d heard it his whole life. He believed in I AM as the God of his ancestry.

NOW, Jesus, the one he had chosen to follow, was standing before him, declaring to him, “I AM. Don’t be afraid. Come to me.”

Peter now saw Jesus as the Almighty, omnipotent, self sufficient, name above all names, God who is in control of all things. THAT was his motivation for stepping out of the boat and into the storm. THAT was his solid ground he stepped onto when he left that boat.

How could he go wrong stepping towards I AM? There was no fear, no hesitation. When I AM says “Come to me” you step towards Him. Confident. Sure. Unflappable. Secure. Certain. Comfortable. Unshaken. Doubtless. Peaceful.

Even though “I AM” or the “tetragrammaton” appears over 6,000 times in the Bible this one, for Peter was his moment of truth. The dawning of a new day for Peter’s understanding of who he had committed his life to follow.

Although scribes through the ages could not say I AM out loud, nor fully spell it out, here was Peter walking towards the great I AM, fully able to express himself before Him and be accepted, cared for and destined for greatness

I AM brought proper perspective to Peter. Peter saw that, when he saw Jesus as the great I AM.

When you realize the great I AM is in control and calling you to come close to Him, you come close to Him, regardless of stormy circumstances, dark times, opposing winds or overwhelming waves. It makes perfect sense and is the only logical thing to do.

THAT would compel many to leave the boat and step into the storm.

So I say, “Props to Peter!” (Lord, help me.)

Go with God.

Digital Dependence

That’s the phrase I woke up with.

Whhaat? Why? So after some coffee and AM focus, I dove in to investigate this phrase.

Digital. What does that mean? Go ahead, how would you define it? Ummm, having to do with digits???, the internet??? How are you doing? Easy? Challenging?

“Digital, in its broadest sense, is any piece of technology that connects people and machines with each other or with information.” According to Leighton.com/whatdoesdigitalreallymean

For us old timers, we first knew it as IT – “Information Technology”, and it was how documents, spreadsheets and databases created information through the use of hardware, software and their necessary methods.

The term digital has now superseded IT and includes the addition of social media, mobile and cloud services.

But why does this matter and why should you keep reading?

Because we are living in a digital world and it is changing rapidly. So fast, in fact, that we cannot keep up with it, nor can our legislation. It, this digital world, is at the forefront of our First Amendment rights and the loss of them.

From October 29, 1969, when the US Dept. of Defense’s ARPANET delivered it’s first message from UCLA to Sanford and crashed the ARPA network, the technology has grown to a rate of 11 new users per second, resulting in one million new users each day. (“wearesocial.com/2019-global-internet-use)

Of the 7.8 billion people in the world today, 4.388 billion are active internet users, representing 57% of the total population; the vast majority of those are mobile users, 3.986 billion or 52% of the total population.

The stats reveal that these users are spending on average 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day. That means we are connected to devices hundreds of times each day.

These are the places those 4.4 billion are visiting during those 6+ hours digitally connected.

Please notice those companies, especially the ones at the top.

Now, we realize that time spent on devices is not all play and scrolling. We are emailing, reporting, comparing, creating, ordering, communicating, you know, actually working. The lines between leisure and work however, are slowly slipping away, as we are responding to emails “off the clock” and checking Facebook while “on the clock”. Our devices and their APPS, all digital, are “making life easier”, so they say.

In whatever amount of time we are spending in the digital world, we are being bombarded with messages of all sorts. We know that our search history is collected and we are targeted by ads and other messages that “they” deem important.

I can’t for the life of me figure out why, on my Instagram feed, since the election, COVID19 warnings and messages have disappeared! Has the pandemic ended? Why is it no longer inserted after nearly every picture? (I jest, but seriously!) Is it no longer important?

But back to the title, Digital Dependence.

Whether we like it or not, we are dependent on our digital world. Banking, PC/laptop data, cloud storage, medical records, records of most kinds for that matter, travel, communications, etc. We are dependent.

So, the first action step for me is to do whatever I can, to cover my butt, in the event those digital connections are lost. I mean it, folks. In the world in which we live, you cannot discount that possibility. My husband speaks of “EMP’s”, but as we are seeing now, there are several more ways our digital world could be upset. So back up, keep hard copies, write things down, arrange for other means of taking care of your business and dealings. Seriously.

Second action step, we need to make any changes in our surfing habits that are necessary. Six plus hours a day for the average person, online???? Don’t tell me you don’t have time to pray, read the Bible, meditate, talk with your family, visit neighbors or call your father.

Third and last action step, beware of the messages that are bombarding you while in the digital world. I am so ticked at some of these that just keep showing up on my feed or in my stream. I don’t believe them, hate seeing them and can’t get rid of them. I refuse to allow them to cloud my thinking and will seek to keep my head above the foggy, rising waters that wants to overwhelm me. The best way to do that, I have found, is to get off the devices!

I am an optimist and I do walk by faith, but the digital dependence we have learned to lean on is teetering, and I feel in my spirit we must prepare, we must beware, we must wise up. Change is coming and we need to be ready for it. Forewarned is forearmed.

photo from Larry Elder

What do you think? Am I off base? Where are you on my three action steps in our digital dependence?

Cheers to you.

When Things Don’t Go As Expected

Sunday Sermon 1.9.21

The previous year, 2020, has provided for all of us more than ample situations or events that most certainly did not go as expected. Were we to have a race writing things down, the only thing slowing us down would be our ability to write fast and the fact that no one would really want to win the race.

And here we are only nine days into the new year and that list just keeps growing. So many things are not going as expected. Not even close.

Shoot, here in my house, we were expecting a wonderful two week visit over the holidays with our son and his new wife – we got that and more – Covid. All four of us! So we actually got a plus three week visit instead.

Here’s the thing, when your life belongs to Jesus, God uses things intended to harm you for His good.

“You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done.”

Genesis 50:20

It sometimes is a hard pill to swallow, but He really does “work all things for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

All things means just that – all things!

Personal issues, relational issues, family, work, school, politics, church, community, health, financial, supply, housing, pets, neighbors, business, government, all things!

He works in each and every situation, always, to bring good from it for us. He is God, that is who He is and that is what He does.

“No weapon, (plan or purpose, idea, threat, legislation, edict,) formed against thee shall prosper…” Isaiah 54:17

When faced with the unexpected, watch what God can and will bring from it for you. Take a look at these few bible characters to get you going:

Joseph – the earlier quote from Genesis came from his lips after his brothers dashed his dreams by selling him into slavery in Egypt. There, after many years in prison, he eventually became the Egyptian vizier, 2nd in command. His dreams fulfilled and his brothers bowing down to him.

But consider how many times things did not go as expected for him. Goodness! Our hearts bleed when we recall so many injustices and seemingly bad outcomes for him. Beaten by brothers, abandoned, sold, forgotten, imprisoned, mistreated, ridiculed, forgotten again, promoted, falsely accused of rape, imprisoned again, promoted again, respected, empowered, honored, restored to family, blessed his family and the nation.

Joseph’s life is a vivid example for us of how all things really do work for good. All things are not good, but God is able to work them for good for you, and Joseph.

Consider another – Noah. Noah was living in a horribly wicked and violent era; so bad in fact God had it with the world. Seriously. You know the story. Noah built a floating barge under God’s direction and then God sent animals to Noah to fill the barge. Noah, his family (wife, three sons and their wives) all boarded the barge and God opened the windows of heaven and fountains of the deep, and rain as never before seen, flooded the earth and destroyed all mankind.

Did things go as Noah expected? Well, first off, he had never even seen rain before, so right there we have the unexpected. How ’bout the length of time for this rain stuff? Expected? How ’bout after the rain stopped and the flood waters covered even the highest mountains? How ’bout living in an indoor zoo for over a year, with your family??? Expected?

Noah certainly faced the unexpected and he too experienced the faithfulness of God. From that time aboard the barge, God worked for the good of Noah, eventually resulting in a blessing for he and his family and an agreement with Noah’s name on it – the Noahic Covenant; which turned out as a blessing for future generations around the world.

Abraham/Isaac– When this father and son went up to the top of the mountain with all the supplies and tools to make an offering to the Lord, do you think their expectations included Isaac being tied and laid on the altar? Could a father imagine holding a knife over his son, ready to slice his throat as he would an animal?

Why would a father do such an unexpected thing?

“Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”

Hebrews 11:19

What followed? God worked it for good and revealed a ram, just out of sight to be used as the offering. Issac was untied as were his fears and faith in his dad, not to mention Jehovah God. Oh, and remember what God said to Abraham, “Now, because you have not withheld your only son Isaac, I will bless you and you will be the father of many nations and your offspring will be more than the sand on the sea shore and stars in the sky.” Genesis 22:12, 17

I have several more to share. But stop and think. When things don’t go as expected, what is really happening for you?

Is all lost? Are hopes dashed? Is faith gone? I hope not, but if any of those are close, then this word today is vital for you. When you hit a wall, an unexpected and firm obstacle, God is still at work on your behalf, bringing to you a bigger, broader purpose than what you see in the immediate. He is working whether or not you see what he is doing.

What is faith after all? “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:6

In the face of the unexpected, faith sees God working. We walk by faith, not by sight.

Joseph, Noah, Abraham and Isaac all looked beyond what their eyes saw. They looked beyond the immediate and to the One who was at work for them preparing them for the good which would eventually be forthcoming.

We could add to those men Moses, who went from basket, to burning bush, to bondage to being broke free. Did he face the unexpected, you bet. Did he have faith God was working, sometimes.

How about Rahab? This one was a business woman who happened to offer protection to some spies, and was rewarded by being the only family saved when the city was destroyed. Unexpected? Faith? Yep!

John the Baptist began his life the result of a prophetic word. He was filled with the Holy Spirit before he was even born and grew up being a voice that called the Jews to return to the Lord and His ways. He was all in serving the Lord, all the time. Bold. Brave. Brazen.

Did his life all go as expected? He was beheaded, probably not expected.

But was God at work for good even in THAT situation? It did turn out for good for him, he went immediately to heaven. And it turned out for good for the disciples and for us too. His life God used for good, even though the enemy meant his death for evil.

One last bible character, Peter. The unexpected fisher of men. The unexpected walker on water. The unexpected insightful friend, (YOU are the Christ!). The unexpected voice of Satan, (Get thee behind me, Satan.) The unexpected ear cutter-offer. The unexpected denier. The unexpected witness at the tomb. The unexpected preacher at Pentecost, saving 3,000! The unexpected healer, deliverer, teacher, prayer, leader. The unexpected martyr.

The unexpected result? This man is now listed as one of “these men who have turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6

Walking by faith, each of these persevered through difficult situations for them. They looked beyond what they saw to a God who was at work on their behalf. The wall was not all they saw. The problem was not all they saw. The impossibility was not all they saw. The unexpected did not deter them or their faith.

When things don’t go as expected, where do you put your faith?

Please allow me to close with a recent personal, account.

My husband had to have surgery on his L4, L5 in his spine. He prepped and was ready for the in one day, out the next expected hospital stay. Seven days later, after having unexpected drug interactions, and him being unresponsive, The Rapid Response Team was called.

During his unresponsiveness, from where we were, we thought we were loosing him. It was terrifying.

But later we found out, during that time of his unexpected, unresponsiveness, he was having an out of body experience, hovering above his body, watching all that was happening to him in his room. He was talking to an old man. Den asked the man, “So I guess now is the time I get to choose whether to go or stay?” The man, whose face was only a bright light, firmly told him, “I will tell you when it’s time!”

Those words sent Dennis back to earth, into his body and into a responsive state. Those words changed his life forever. The medical team, to this day still cannot explain what happened or why.

Den was released from the hospital the next day! Less than 24 hours from when we thought we had lost him. In fact, we had gained a totally new man, spiritual fervor and dedication stronger than it had ever been. His fire and passion for life and the Lord burning brighter than it ever had. God had once again, according to his promise, been working in all things for the good of Den, for us. From this unexpected event, has come Dennis’ greatest freedom, joy, and empowering; and one of my greatest joys and desires.

Covid free and facing the unexpected together with faith.

We serve a God of the impossible. All things are possible with God and our faith will remain anchored to Him, not to events. For when circumstances appear to be harm to us, He intends it for good. He is at work, he never stops working for the good of those who love him.

When things don’t go as expected, have faith and keep going. He is at work for your good.

Go with God.

Strange Things

With such a title, it leaves a wide variety of avenues for possible exploration.

First, although it is a bit tempting, we will not be addressing the similar title “Stranger Things”. You’ve probably heard of it, it is the science fiction, Netflix series about Hawkins, Indiana, the boy Will, the girl Eleven and their battles against The Upside Down alternate dimension. Nope, tempting but not going there.

There are so many times when reading news about my city, my state, my nation; politically, socially, morally, personally, corporately in which I find myself shaking my head and declaring the things I am witnessing as strange. Seriously, where would I begin my list, were I to begin a list of strange things in 2020?

We are living in strange times. Things in nearly every arena are simply strange.

There is already enough about our strange times being written and aired, so I want to go a different direction.

I want to share with you 10 strange and very interesting creatures in our world that I hope will make you smile or maybe even creep you out. But let’s just enjoy looking at some different strange things, shall we?

Axolotl

This amphibian lives in lakes and canals in Mexico and can grow to 18 inches long.

Velvet ants

These furry creatures look like ants but are actually wasps. Found mostly in South America, watch out for them, they are known for their extremely painful sting and in fact are called “cow killers”.

Sparklemuffin

He is also known as the Australian peacock spider. They were only recently discovered in 2015 and measure just 5 mm in length. He looks like he is “dabbing” and in fact, his leg is seeking to attract a mate. Who wouldn’t be attracted to a dabbing spider?

Southern Cassowary

These guys have earned the reputation for being the “most dangerous bird in the world” due to their razor sharp talons they use to defend themselves. So watch out for these flightless 6 foot tall, 190 pound meanies. If looks could kill….

Alligator Gar

This is a fish that grows to 8 feet in length! If you near fresh water rivers and lakes near the Rio Grande to the Missouri River, you just may see one. Sorry, this is just creepy.

Maned wolf

Nope, they are not in fact wolves, they belong to the dog family. That is probably why I think he is sorta cute. Although they are omnivores, they prefer veggies. You will find them in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. I think I want one.

Magnificent frigate bird

You’ve probably seen these before, as their big red sac on the males chest that balloon up are quite famous. Just ask the females. (Galapagos Islands) It looks uncomfortable… yikes!

Jabiru Stork

This guy grows to 5 feet tall and has been known to attack by stabbing with his 14 inch long bill. Ask the zoo attendees in Belize. I wouldn’t want this stork bring my baby, he looks dark and evil!

Pink fairy Armadillo

In Argentina you will find this lil guy, who is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. They are very rare and shy and scientists are still learning about them. Don’t you want to just pull off that top, ribbed layer?

Aye-aye

The aye-aye’s home is in Madagascar. He is known for his bulging eyes, growing teeth and long fingers. He is actually a type of lemur and will forage through the night. He looks like a fun one to hang out with at night, right? Never a dull moment.

Up until a few hours ago, I had never heard of most of these strange things. But at least now, I have more strange things to add to my already growing list of strange things happening in 2021.

Cheers to you, and smiles too.

Fill Your Sails

Sunday Sermon 1.2.2021

Earlier this week I felt impressed to create and share this image –

It is a message that I cannot shake off or ignore. I believe it is a call for us all, for the new year.

Our life is like a sailboat.

It is designed to sail, to catch the wind and navigate the lakes and seas, and then return safely to dock. It is not designed to stay tied up dockside, sheltered from the wind.

Don’t get me wrong, we have spent many wonderful times at the harbor, in the slip entertaining, laughing, talking, playing, and sharing aboard our sailboat. In fact, we have spent more time dockside than sailing. But that is not what the boat is designed for. She was made to sail.

Such excitement overcomes me when I make preparations to actually go sailing. Gauges are checked, items secured, unnecessary items removed, motor started, sails checked, and untied, lines checked, etc.

Then, using the motor, we back out of the slip and head for the open ocean. Before leaving the harbor, we face into the wind to hoist the mainsail, and then continue out of the harbor. Once beyond the jetty, we cut the motor, unravel the jib and allow the wind to fill both sails. We are now sailing.

aboard Lady Debra
click to play video

The wind is the power that drives the boat along. I steer the ship based on the direction of the wind, power of the wind, and our desired destination.

Without the wind, we go nowhere. Or facing the wrong direction in the wind, we also go nowhere. “Luffing” on a sailboat means your sails are not full and the wind is not being harnessed properly.

A friend of mine and I had been out for several hours and we had tacked to return back home. As anxious as we were to return, the wind was not cooperating. There was very little wind, and we were getting nowhere fast. To top it off, we would be loosing daylight soon. Although we were loving sailing, it was now time to use the motor; for without it, we wouldn’t make it back in daylight. (which is a rule of mine)

A sailboat, has a motor, but it’s primary power is from the wind. That is the way of it’s design. The sails are used for receiving the wind, embracing the wind and thereby powering the vessel. As the sails fill up the boat moves. The sails must fill in order for the boat to advance.

If the sails don’t fill, the boat is not fulfilling it’s purpose.

Lady Debra, under motor, not sail

The mainsail and the jib (front sail) are intended to fill with the wind. In this picture, you can see, they are not even up, much less filling with wind.

Here’s the Sunday sermon part, my friends.

Jesus told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and wait for the gift that the Father had promised. He told them that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and that baptism would endue them with power. Acts 1:5,7

On the day of Pentecost, the power showed up in the form of a strong, blowing wind that filled the house where the 120 were sitting. All of them heard it and then saw dancing fire flames on one another’s heads. Acts 2:4 says that all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.

When we are born again, our spirit is regenerated, reborn, made alive. We are a new creation in Christ Jesus. We are transferred from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Our spirit is alive now, within us.

Our spirit is like the sails of our sailboat. The wind of the Holy Spirit comes to fill our sails and empower us. The power of the wind (Holy Spirit) fills us, drives us, empowers us and allows us to advance. Without the power of the wind (Holy Spirit) we get nowhere. Our sails are “luffing”, we are floundering, without direction or power.

But the Holy Spirit blows on us and fills us we are thereby empowered to heal sicknesses, diseases, and drive out evil spirits. That is what we have been commissioned to do. That is our purpose. That is our call and our destiny. That is what Jesus authorized us to do.

We have been called to cast off the bow lines, leave the safe harbor, and hoist our sails to catch the powerful winds of the Holy Spirit that are blowing.

Mark Twain had it right.

It is time to allow your sails to be filled and experience the exuberance of sailing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, going where he leads and doing what he directs. Trusting him to use you where ever you are.

Your sailboat, life is meant for sharing. Everything that you have gone through, experienced, struggled with, lost to and gained victory over is meant to be shared with others. Your Christian life of peace, prayer, Word and worship is meant to be shared.

This horrendous pandemic with all of its ramifications has provided a ripe seedbed for hungry people, seeking truth, life and hope -all of which you have and have been commissioned to share.

I call forth 2021 to be a season of sailing under the power of the Holy Spirit in your life. A season of leaving the safety of the slip and venturing into the exuberance of a purpose filled life affecting others for the Kingdom of God.

That is what you, oh great sailboat were designed for!

Hoist up your sails and let the Holy Spirit fill you a fresh for an exciting 2021.

Go with God.