Do It Again

Sunday Sermon 1.22.22

Looking in on today’s thoughts from a chapter that we feel is prophetic for this year, 2022, our focus is on Isaiah 51:9-15.

In it we see a people who are being harrassed and oppresed by tyrannical edicts spoken by national and state rulers. These people are discouraged, in despair, and depressed, for their struggle has been unbearable. They live each day constantly worrying, and living in fear of their angry oppressor.

They see the opposition against them as the generation past saw the Red Sea – a wall of impossibilities and hoplessness. Their enemy is powerful, and fearful and they are toast. They seem to see a silent God, unmoved and inactive. Their desperate cry is to arouse Him on their behalf, surely He has forgotten them, look at their state!

It is not only from these circumstances, but from this mindset that God’s people (of Isaiah 51) call out to Yahweh/God and dare I say, even lash out against Him. Take a look.

“Awake, God, awake! Arm of Yahweh, put on your robe of strength! Awake and do the works of power as in ancient days, as in generations past! Wasn’t it you who smashed the sea monster… who pierced the dragon in generations long ago… wasn’t it you who dried up the Red Sea, and made a path through the sea to rescue the redeemed? Do it again!”

Isaiah 51:7-11a TPT

Folks, let’s be real here.

Does God sleep? Does He need to be woken up from some kind of short little power nap? Does He even need to be reminded of what was done in, through and for past generations? Does He forget? Is He some kind of elderly sage who drifts off or rambles off topic that needs our help realigning himself, getting back on track?

C’mon!

These discouraged people think that God is asleep. Notice the urgency of their double imperative, “Awake, awake”. They are doubting that God is active, they are afraid He is asleep at the wheel. I wonder who it is that is really asleep and needs to be awakened.

This all sounds eerlily familiar, or is it just me?

Following their pleas for God to wake up and reveal His power, comes God’s response.

“I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, … and have forgotten the Lord your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, and you fear continually all the day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who set himself to destroy?”

Isaiah 51:12-13 ESV

Look how he responds. Remember how they cried out, “Awake, awake!”? He heard them, because His responce begins with, “I, I am“. THAT is powerful! A double imperitive meets a double I, I AM! Wham. He answers their repeated request with His name, repeated!

The “I am” God, reminds them that He is the God who not only brings them comfort but also created the heavens and earth. He was and still is omnipotent. They urgently cry awake, He urgently responds I Am!

Then He rebukes their fears and particularily their fear of the people, who were their oppressors. They are afraid of man but not of God. They have forgotten the Lord. Notice the question mark at the end of that passage. God is questioning them, why are you fearing man and not me?

God is giving these people a stern reminder that He is the Great I AM, He is their comforter, He is the creator of the universe and He is the one that they should fear in reverence and humility. Not the leaders, government, oppressors, or other loud and anrgy voices. HIM!

He continues speaking in the passage telling them that in fact, those suffering would soon be released and those feeling imprisonment will not die or go hungry. Isaiah 51:14 His voice reassured them that what they were seeing was indeed not going to last, and things were going to turn around for them.

These folks of Isaiah 51 had feared Babylon, but not God. Babylon wanted to make them captives, God wanted to set them free. These people had misplaced their fear and their love.

In the passage, it follows that He thunders with this:

“For I am Yahweh, your faithful God, who split the sea with its roaring waves. My name is Lord Yahweh, Commander of Angel Armies! And I have put my words in your mouth, and covered you in the shadow of my hand, establishing the heavens and laying the foundations of the earth and saying to Zion, “You are my people”.”

Isaiah 51:15 TPT, ESV

WOW. Drop the mic!

Our Isaiah 51 people had forgotten the Lord, their Maker (and the maker of the heavens and earth, as they were reminded) and because they had forgotten Him, they had succombed to worry, fear, accusations, and unbelief. They prayed from that mindset in an attempt to wake up God. Look at the silliness of that sentence even. But that’s what our mindset is and does.

Our mindset can filter out the truth that we are His people and He is the God of the Angel Armies, the Great I Am. The truth that He has protected us in the shadow of his hand, where we sit, as His child. The truth that He has put His word in our mouths. We have the Living Word of God to shape our mindset and not the words and power of man.

Here, in this passage, we see a picture of ourselves really, don’t we?

At this time in our nation comes the same Voice of the Lord, saying, ” You have forgotten the Lord, your Maker.” Until and unless we choose to remember Him with our words, actions and position of our heart, we will speak foolishly from a mindset of fear, worry, and unbelief.

We will be overcome by our circumstances and edicts until we humble ourselves before the Lord, and revere Him with holy fear. He is the One who still has all power and He is the One who alone will comfort, protect and rescue us. Our faith in Him and love for Him must be renewed.

What really needs to happen is that we need to wake up to the awesome Power of God and His purpose to do it agian. To awaken His people, to awaken all hearts to turn to Him, to visit the earth in powerful demonstration, to speak through His people, to have a people fully dedicated to Him.

God is awake and powerfully able to do what He says He will do. He is looking for those who will focus on Him, remember Him, trust and believe in Him. He is waiting to do it again.

Yes, Lord, do it again. (in me)

Blessings on you,

Debbie

Dr. King’s Battles are Ours, too

The History Files 1.17.22 – The History of Celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Why do we celebrate this man, Martin Luther King Jr., alongside of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington with a federal holiday? Let’s lean in and see…

Most of us will have to image living in the days of segregation – when blacks (including other non whites) and whites were, by force and law segregated.

“Segregation = the enforced separation of different racial groups in a country, community, or establishment.”

Oxford dictionary

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Dr. King

But such were the days in America, with tensions peaking in the 1950’s.

In 1954, The Supreme Court of the US ruled in the famous Brown vrs. Board of Education of Topeka, KS, that establishing segragated schools was unconstitutional. This decision therefore called for the desegregation of all schools throughout America. But this desegration decree would take time, not only in schools but in the nation.

Meanwhile, at Boston University, the 25 year old, exceptional, intelect and fervent Bible scholar, Martin King was working on his Ph.D in Theology, having received his undergraduate degree in Sociology in 1948 from Morehouse College, and having also become valedictorian of his Seminary class in 1951.

During this time King met and married Coretta Scott and they eventually had 4 children together. He became Pastor of Dexter Ave. Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama.

It was also during this time, in 1955, that a 42 year old woman, Rosa Parks, refused to give over her bus seat (which was in the front row of the “colored” section) to white men who were standing. She was arrested and booked for violating the Montgomery City Code. In a 30-minute hearing, they called her trial, she was found guilty, fined $10. along with the $4. court fee.

Rosa Parks

It was then, (1955) that the NAACP (National Accosication for the Advancement of Colored People) chose Martin Luther King to lead a boycott of the transit system in Montgomery. Which he did, and within a short time, 60 other ministers joined him and formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which coordinated nonviolent protests of all kinds, and giving the civil rights movement a voice.

Despite threats to his life and his home being bombed (no one was hurt), King pleaded for nonviolent solutions to the nations racial tensions. His earliest Washington DC speech at the Lincoln Memorial called for equal voting rights and a Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom in 1957.

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

He met with US Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Prime Ministers Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Nehru of India and other notable figures. He also appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

King served jail sentences, false charges, (and true charges) and in April of 1963 he wrote his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Here’s an portion:

from MLK’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

He led peaceful, protest marches in Selma and avoided conflict with the state troopers, in Birmington, Alabama where he marched to end segregation at lunch counters. It was his march and rally in Washington DC, where he gave his famous ” I Have a Dream” speech in 1968, that was attended by over 200,000 peaceful people.

Selma
lunch counter sit in

But it was in July of 1964 that noticable progress was evidenced, when President LB Johnson signed into law the “CIvil Rights Acts of 1964. In it, it outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Not a bad year so far, but it was capped by receiving the Nobel Peach Prize in Oslo, on December 10, 1964. In addition, that year he was named “Man of the Year.

signing the Voting Rights Act

During the later part of 1964, King became critical of the FBI’s faiure to support civil right workers, and was denounced by the FBI Director (J. Edgar Hoover) as “the most notorious liar in the country”. Subsequently, Hoover called the SCLC a Communist group.

In his final year of life, 1968, he led another march in support of sanitation workers in Memphis. This became violent and Dr. King had to be escorted away. The next month, on April 3, 1968, King delivers his final speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop”.

On April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his Memphis Motel, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed.

What resulted was an outbreak of violence and a manhunt for the shooter. James Earl Ray was tracked down in London, (his fingerprints as evidence found on the rifle used) while seeking a flight to Belgium. He was extradited to the US, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

It was President Ronald Reagan, in 1983, that signed into law, that the third Monday of January be set aside to honor Baptist minister, Civil Rights leader, and Activist – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Dr. King
Dr. King’s monument in Washington DC

May we have the courage, and resolve of this man to speak up for injustices and act on them peacefully, nonviolently and in mass. May we not allow anyone’s well intentions to again divide us, separate us and segregate us from our one human family with the inalienable rights of life, and liberty for all.

May we live out his dream and not cease to battle his battles.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

Sources:

NationalDaycalendar.com/MartinLutherKing/holiday

thekingcenter.com/about Dr. Martin Luther King

Britannica.com/MartinLutherKing

History.com/The interesting history of Dr. Martin Luther King

Usatoday.com/TImeline: The Life of Martin Luther King

Do Not Fear Them

Sunday Sermon 1.15.22

Fear has a tendency to control us, it freezes us, paralyzes us, and will eat us up if we let it. This issue of fear is the heart of today’s message, but the body of the message is much bigger and more powerful than fear.

As we continue to look at a chapter that I feel encapsulates the challenge for us in 2022, let’s flip to Isaiah 51:4-8 and glean from it 6 relative points to help you through this day, this month and this year.

” Listen to me, my people; pay attention to me, my nation.”

Isaiah 51:4a TPT

Point 1- My Nation

Here, we hear the voice of God calling to His nation, Israel, and because all scripture is useful for teaching and happened as examples to us, (2 Tim. 3:16; 1 Cor. 10:6), we can understand that God is calling to our nation as well. Because I live in and love America, I realize that God is saying to His nation, America, “Listen to me, my people… my nation”.

The first point that we must remember and contend for is this – America was founded on a covenant with God. The Mayflower Compact, signed on 11.11.1620, aboard the ship, Mayflower by the Separatists and the Strangers (Pilgrims), stunningly stated this –

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian Faith… a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents solemnly and mutually in the Presence of God and of one another, Covenant and combine ourselves together in a Civil Body Politic…”

excerpt The Mayflower Compact, 1620

The intended purpose of this journey across the Atlantic by these separatists, was to establish religious freedoms in a new nation, dedicated to the Glory of God and advancement of the Christian faith. May we never forget this or allow this founding intention to be stolen, rebranded, or destroyed. America began on a covenant with God, we are indeed His nation.

God is calling to His nation, America – Give Attention to Me; turn your focus, choose to listen, intentionally pay attention, harken to me. “America, give ME your eyes and your ears“.

Oh, that we heed His call.

Point 2- My Power

” For I release my teaching to the nations, and I will cause the light of justice to rest on them. My righteousness is coming closer, and my salvation has gone out. My mighty arms will govern the people. The islands will trust in me and put their hope in the unveiling of my might.”

Isaiah 51:4b-5 TPT

When we choose to pay attention to God, here’s what we are focusing on, looking to and recognizing:

  • my law will go out from me
  • my justice will be a light to the people
  • my righteousness comes near
  • my salvation has gone out
  • my arms will judge the people
  • the coasts and islands hope for me
  • and the are waiting for my arm

We are focusing on the power of God, the might of His arm, the justice of His law, His right (as opposed to wrong) that is coming close, his ability to save, and bring hope.

Our God is powerful, His ways are right, His law is truth and He is our focus. His ability. His power. It is in His strong arm that this nation will find law and order, justice, right living, and true judgement. His strong arm is what we hope and wait for.

Point 3- My Reign

“Lift up your eyes to the heavenly realm and look at the Earth far below. Though the heavens disappear like smoke, though the Earth wears our like a garment, and though all the people die like gnats, my salvation will endure forever and my righteousness will never end!”

Isaiah 51:6 TPT

Lift up you eyes, dear reader, to see Earth from from heaven’s realm, from God’s perspective. From there we understand that Earth and the skies will vanish and people will die. What we see will not last, it is temporary; things will dissipate like smoke and wear out like your old, comfy hoodie.

So, LIFT UP YOUR EYES. Shift where you are looking. Lift up your head, look up to God in the heavens. See things from His point of view, from heavens perspective, from the eternal. Don’t be Earth bound and driven by what you see – Look up! Earthly things are temporary.

BUT

My salvation will be forever“. The word “salvation” here means, “welfare, prosperity, & victory” God’s wellbeing, and God’s prosperity will lead to His lasting and eternal victory!

My righteousness will never be dismayed“. Although we don’t use the word dismayed anymore, here it means – “be abolished, break down by violence, confusion and fear”. Debbie’s translation – God’s right ways will never be abolished by any amount of violence, confusion or fear.

God’s kingdom will reign forever and ever, hallelujah…. (Revelation 19) Of His kingdom there will be no end. (Isa. 9:7) God will reign forever!

“He is the Head of every kingdom and authority in the universe.” Colossians 2:10

When we look up, we see things from an eternal point of view.

Point 4- My People

“So listen to me, you who care for that which is right, who treasure my teaching in your hearts…”

Isaiah 51:7a TPT

You who have the Word in your hearts, you who care about right and wrong… Listen to the whispers of your conscience, listen to the truth pounding in your heart. Listen to my voice within you, my people. I am speaking to you from your heart and through your thoughts. Listen, my people.

Most of the time the truth that we seek, is already in our hearts and mind. God has embed it there. He has set eternity in the hearts of His people. It is in our DNA.

Point 5- DO NOT FEAR

Do not fear the insults of others; do not be dismayed when they revile you. They are nothing for you to fear, for the moth will eat them up like a shirt and the worm will consume them like wool… ”

Isaiah 51:7b-8a TPT

Holy schmokes, doesn’t this fit these days? We believers, but not only believers, tend to fear the insults of leaders. Revilings too… because revilings are “criticisms, and verbal abuse”. We hate being made fun of, canceled, shut down, and disrespected. We may even fear what “they” can do to us. We fear their terrible acts and the impacts on our belief systems.

Do not be “dismayed” in this sentence actually means, “don’t be shattered, broken or scared by their reviling”. Their insults and abuses are not to be feared, or revered. Colossians 2:8, tells us, “Beware that no one distracts you or intimidates you…”

Why? Because they are also temporary! And to prove it, we are given a picture of a moth eating a shirt. In the same way that “they” are eating at us, with insults and abuses, the Lord will send a simple, little moth, who also loves dark places too, and stays away from the light, and that hungry, winged instrument of God will eat away at them! The ones hurling insults, abuses, criticisms, and judgment will themselves be consumed.

And to strengthen this point about the moths – I learned that there are 2 kinds of moths.

  1. the webbing moth
  2. the casemaking moth
webbing moth and it’s web
casemaking moth

Similiarily, there are voices who create webs of lies and voices who make cases of falsehoods! God’s moths will eat up the webs that have been spun and the cases that have been made, and His justice will prevail.

My friend, we are charged to not fear these voices, to not be shattered by them or scared of their rantings. God will send His moths to eat away at the fabric of their falsehoods and destroy the caseload of evil intentions.

Colossians 1:13 reminds us, “He has rescued us from the tyrannical rule of darkness…” God knows what’s planned in the secret places of darkness, and His powerful, kingdom reign will always bring victory and light.

God says to His people, His nation – that His power is forever, so DO NOT FEAR. (what man can do to you.) God will fight for you, if you do your part. (Exodus 14:14-15)

Point 6- My Salvation

BUT my righteousness will last forever and my salvation from generation to generation.”

Isaiah 51:8b TPT

(Or as The Message paraphrase puts it, “my salvation will last forever, my setting-things right will never be obsolete.”)

I love the BUTS of the Bible!

Criticism, insults, verbal abuses, yes.. BUT. Wham! That big “but” just turned everything around!

While all this mouthy abuse is happening, we are reminded that God’s setting-things right will never be obsolete and His salvation from knuckleheads with loud and big mouths will last forever. His answers and saving power is for us, our kids and their kids. Every generation has access to His saving power and Kingdom reign.

So, let’s wrap this up –

God’s nation, His people are being called on to focus their attention on His power, His kingdom reign, and to NOT FEAR what man can do to them, because His salvation and setting-things right is for today, this year and forever.

“Do not fear, people who care about what is right. Do not fear, my nation. Do not fear, my people”.

“This is a year of my powerful arm being displayed and My kingdom reign on Earth as it already is in heaven. So look up, change your perspective, look to me and listen to my Words, and do not fear the insults and criticisms, which are temporary.”

You see, fear is not the real issue. The coming of the powerful, Kingdom of God into this nation, through His people who have heaven’s perspective is the real issue. They will not fear the abuses of man because their allegiance is to the King of Kings, who reigns forever and whose salvation is enough for them and their kids, and their grandkids.

Wow! What a promise. Are you in?

Have a fearless day.

Debbie

2 Year Anniversary

Happy 2 year anniversary!

Exactly two years ago today, (1/10/20) our first blog post was written. Since that faith-filled, yet anxious first post, we have experienced remarkable support, loyality and clarity.

Here’s what experts tell us about some other 2 year anniversaries. For instance, did you know that:

  • your sheets should be replaced after 2 years of use
  • sunscreen, as well, has a lifetime expectancy of only 1 to 2 years
  • towels and pillows too, should be replaced after 2 years
  • even your food storage containers should be replaced after 2 years

Or, how about these animals, who generally have a life span of 2 years or so:

  • rat, 2-3 years
  • water snake, 2 years
  • mouse, 3 years
  • mosquito-fish, (whatever that is), a year and a half
  • betta fish, 3 years

Better yet, how ’bout looking at some animals of longevity:

  • Bowhead whales can live 100-200 years
  • tubeworms can live 300 plus years
  • or, on the shorter, but long-life side, the rhino- living 40 years

The point? We are celebrating our 2 year anniversary of blogging inspiration and hope to have many, many more.

In those 2 years we have:

  1. reached 66 countries
  2. on 6 continents
  3. with over 5,000 views
  4. in 255 published posts
  5. gained nearly 400 combind followers
  6. a new follower being added every 3-4 days
  7. hundreds of likes
  8. scores of comments
  9. expanded to include Instagram and IGTV with 160 followers
  10. Twitter and GETTR followers
  11. YouTube subscribers with 91 videos
  12. and a (paused) Podcast with over 200 plays

It has been a truly remarkable and humbling experience. To those precious 9 friends, who have been with me from day one, I say a humble and hearty THANK YOU! (Den, Mark, Kim, Becca, Lorine, Linda, Paul, Denise and Charisse). Your support has meant the world to me and is faith’s fuel. To those who have joined along the way, my heart is grateful for your interest, curiosity and faith.

all the nations we have touched

Although 2 years ago, I worried that my blogging might have the 2 month life span of a housefly, I am confident now in my mission of inspiring and am trusting to go beyond the frogs, 6 year life span, and maybe even reach that of a dog, 12 years. 🙂

always starting with an empty screen & trusting to fill it up with inspiration

Thank you to all of our readers for making these the most popular posts.

  • Give Us a Discerning Heart
  • A Most Beautiful Heart
  • On the Lighter Side
  • Elephants and Camels
  • After You Have Done All to Stand
  • Are You and Influencer
  • Standing at the Hinge of Hisory
  • It’s Time to Pray
  • Incomprehensible
  • Your Voice

Please visit the archives at the updated website to check out any of our 253 blogs.

If you would, please leave a comment or send me a message, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you so much for joining me on this journey.

Cheers to another year of blogging (and maybe even reaching that untouched continent of Antarctica. ha ha) .

Debbie

The Power of One

Sunday Sermon 1.8.22

What good is one person, one voice, one idea? Can one person really make any difference in the world today? One is outnumbered in every field, demeaned among ruling class, and considered impossible odds for any victory. As the song goes, “one is the lonliest number.” (1)

But one is also uniquely powerful and necessary. Consider if you will, the number 1 in mathematics. It is:

  • the only number that is the same in binary, base 10 and Roman Numerals
  • the only positive whole number which is neither prime nor composite
  • the first odd number, the first triangular, square, pentagonal and hexagonal number
  • the first tetrahedral, cube and Fibonacci number
  • used to make up all other whole numbers (2)

The number one, shall we say, is the building block of all other numbers. Oh, the power of one!

Furthermore, where would we be without these singular men of history and their contributions?

  • Abraham
  • Moses
  • Socrates
  • Alexander the Great
  • Julius Caesar
  • Jesus Christ
  • Muhammad
  • Leonardo DaVinci
  • Martin Luther
  • William Shakespeare
  • Galileo
  • Isaac Newton
  • Albert Einstein
  • Martin Luther King

Oh, the power of one!

I can hear some of you thinking, ok, but, but I’m not a DaVinci, Socrates, Alex. Albert, or Jesus. There’s no way lil’ ole me is gonna make any meaningful impact on the world. It is to you and every reader, I would ask to continue reading, to the end of this blog, and see if, in fact YOU, really can make a difference. Oh, the power of one.

As I was seeking the Lord on January 1, of this new year (2022), I was drawn to this chapter of Isaiah, chapter 51. In it, I believe lie strong words for us in this coming year. Here’s how it starts:

” Listen to me, all you who are serious about right living and committed to seeking God. Ponder the rock from which you were cut, the quarry from which you were dug. Yes, ponder Abraham, your father, and Sarah, who bore you. Think of it! One solitary man when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied. Likewise, I, God, will comfort Zion, comfort all her mounds of ruins. I’ll transform her dead ground into Eden, her moonscape into the garden of God, a place filled with exuberance and laughter, thankful voices and melodic songs.”

Isaiah 51:1-3 The Message

IF you are serious about living the right way and committed to seeking God’s way, then this word tells us to consider Abraham and his barren wife, Sarah. Think about him and reflect on his life. As believers, those who have been called to the faith, Abraham is considered our father – for scripture declares him to be the father of the faith. Genesis 17, Romans 4. (for Jews, Christians and Muslims)

Here was one man who was going about his life, tending his flocks, loving his barren wife and believing in Yahweh to meet his every need. Here was one man alone with his faith in something bigger and better than what his eyes observed. Here was “one solitary man, when I called him, but once I blessed him, he multiplied.”

God, taking note of the faith of this one man Abram, told him that he would indeed be blessed and have a son and he would be the father of a great mutitude. Then God told him to look into the night sky and count the stars; for his offspring would be more numerous than those stars. Later he spoke again and told Abraham (his name got changed too) that his long-time barren wife would bear him a son and they would call him Isaac.

That’s a heartwarming and compassionate story – a couple will be blessed and have a baby. Yay, God. But let’s not forget, they were both vert OLD – and having a baby at their age was impossible. Geesh! Abraham was nearly 100 years old and Sarah nearly 90. That baby-making ship had sailed a loooooong time ago.

After Abraham and Sarah laughed at the impossibility before them, we are told this about their faith:

  • Abraham believed against hope- that means that even when it seemed hopeless, Abe believed Yahweh
  • He did not weaken in his faith, considering Sarah’s barren womb
  • No unbelief made him waver in God’s promises
  • He grew stronger in his faith
  • He was fully convinced God could do what He promised
  • Romans 4:18-21 ESV

(Just a side note, on the human side, imagine a 99 year old man and his 89 year old barren wife acting on this promise for a pregnancy and baby boy. THAT took some faith!!)

No wonder we are encouraged to consider, think about and remember Abraham (in 2022). Why? Because, just like our father Abraham, we face impossibilities. We face years of endless barreness and hopeless situations. We face old desires unfulfilled and we need comfort in our wasteplaces and wildernesses.

We too, when all hope seems gone, must believe in Yahweh. We too, must remember that there is no barren womb, when God plants the seed of promise, vision and dreams there. We too, will grow stronger in our faith when we lean fully on God’s promises.

Because Abraham, one man, choose to believe in God, do the right thing and seek God’s ways, God built from that 1, all other people of faith through the generations! Through Abraham, every nation on earth has been blessed. Oh, the power of one.

My friend, you are but one small voice of the 107 billion that have ever lived here, but oh the power of that one.

Noah, Abram, Joseph, Moses, Deborah, David, Rahab, Esther, Isaiah, Peter and YOU- one voice, one man or woman – yielded in unwavering faith, fully convinced that God is able to do what He says, no matter the impossible circumstances. The twelve disciples were singular individuals as well, who determined to join with others and follow one man – Jesus. Of these it was said, “They (Paul and Silas) have turned the world upside down.” Acts 17:6

Our world needs to be turned right side up, because it is awfully upside down right now. Wrong is considered right. Injustice is considered justice. Lawbreakers are considered innocent. Innocent are considered guilty. Men are considered women and vice versa. Isolation is considered freedom. Our world is upside down and it seems impossible to change.

Not, however, for the ONE who remembers Abraham and reminds him or herself that we serve a God of the impossible and we will not waver in our trust of Him.

No one else sees through your eyes, hears through your ears, feels deeply like you do, senses intuitively like you do. No one else has your vast experiences of pain, joy, victories and failures, no one else is you. You are ONE of a kind and you have influence and opportunity where no one else does.

God sees you this new year, 2022. May He see in you the unwavering confidence in Him that chooses to turn this world right side up, one conversation, one idea, one person at at time. If you see only impossibilities, remember Abraham our father and Sarah our mother…. there’s nothing impossible with God.

You can and will make a difference in 2022.

Oh, the power of one.

Go with God,

Debbie

  1. “One is the Lonliest Number”, Three Dog Night, 1969
  2. HouseofMath.co.uk

Word Pictures for 2022

January 3, 2022

Once again, as in the previous years, I have been given pictures that are symbolic to show us lessons in 2022. And again, each of these were visually highlighted to me as I was out for a prayer walk today. I will show you 5 pictures and then share the signifigance for each in this new year.

overgrown palm & badly in need of pruning

#1 Dying palm leaves – This palm tree was so fascininating. It actually had more dead things hanging from it than it did green, live things; and the dead things seemed to be pulling the whole tree lower, downward. Plus, it was so ugly.

Palm trees with dead or damaged branches should be removed from the tree. As the branches die, new leaves cannot grow in that same spot and therefore must be pruned for optimal growth and beauty.

+ 2022 is the year that we must remove from our life those things that are dead and damaged. Sin, grudges, shame, failure, anxiety, depression, fear, gossip… the same ol’ way of doing things, same ol’ reading, same ol’ prayer. It’s time to clean our house, our life and prune off the ugly, dead branches that haven’t produced fresh life in years but have been bringing us down and making our life ugly. (John 15;2)

I saw thousands of acorn seeds lying on the ground

#2 Seedtime – I was shocked how many of these seeds were lying along the sidewalk, for the whole 4 miles of my walk! 1000’s! These acorn seeds were all smooth, brown, in shells that were pointed. There weren’t the usual top caps, they looked like bullets.

+ 2022 – is SEEDTIME! God promised that his pattern of growth is seedtime and harvest. (Genesis 8:22) The seed that is planted is our words. If we plant words of hope, we will harvest hope. If we plant seeds of fear we will reap fear. It is seedtime! What are we planting? If we don’t plant, we won’t reap. If we plant His Word, speak His Word, we will reap a harvest of His blessing. What are we speaking? Planting? (Our words are indeed like bullets)

cut down trees
of all shapes and sizes
many with roots still intact

#3 Cut down trees – I saw no less than a dozen fully grown trees that had been cut down. There stood only their stump, a very small trunk. It struck me powerfully. Why were so many trees cut down?

+ 2022 – Trees represent people and even rulers and leaders. Ezekiel 31, Isaiah 14, Daniel, Job. I believe God was reminding me that He will cut down the pride and arrogance of man. God will cut down the groves where idolatry is practiced and perpertrated. This year we will see fall many who participate in wickedness as God’s righteousness rises upon our land. May He cut to the ground Lucifer and those who follow him.

printed slip with 1967 as the call number

#4 1967 – I saw this slip of paper but initially walked by it. Not getting too far, I was prompted to go back, take a look at it and consider it. So I did a 180. Walking back & looking more closely at it, the 1967 was embolden, and although I tried to figure out where it had come from, the message was loud and clear 1967. I walked a long way wondering what this year could mean or these numbers could mean. I believe the year is important and a picture of what lies ahead for us in this next year.

+ 2022 – I remember 1967 well. It was the beginning of the Jesus movement, 1967-1972! Along the beaches of CA were gathering of hippies, singing and praising God. They had given their lives to Jesus and were rocking the churches of the day. Summer of 1967 was the “Summer of Love” in Haight-Ashbury where this counter-culture was bursting forth from. Also in 1967 “The Living Room” was started, a Christian street mission that housed these hippie converts and discipled them for Christ.

I believe a Jesus movement like that of 1967 is approaching and will break upon the shores of CA and other states in this new year of 2022! Harvest always follows seedtime my friend. Homes will be aflame with vibrant prayer and fellowship and lives are changed and filled with His power. Let’s not just watch this outpouring but be involved in it.

Lake Mission Viejo with the Saddleback mountains in view

#5 A clear view of mountains – Walking back home the saddleback mountains of Santiago Peak and Modjeska Peak were clear and large; in fact, Santiago Peak is the highest point in Orange County. (5,689 ft.) Interestingly enough, you can hike to it from the OC on a 17.2 mile trail called the Holy Jim Trail. It is because these peaks form the shape of a huge saddle silhouette against the sky, that they were called old Saddleback.

+ 2022 – There are two take aways from these mountains for us in 2022.

1- there will continue to be big mountains standing in our way this year. Jesus promised in Matthew 17:20, that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can say to the mountain MOVE and it will move. I believe this is the year we will see seemingly impossible obstacles disappear, because of our faith-filled prayers and words. (Remember those seeds, those words??)

2. 2022 will be a year of the rising of the Mountain of the Lord, the highest of all mountains. Isaiah 2:1-5 This mountain is His remnant of believers, His church, His ecclesia, His called out ones. 2022 will see the awakening and arising of His people walking in faith and victory.

Regardless of how spiritual or unspiritual you may consider yourself to be right now, I emplore you to consider these 5 word pictures as you walk through 2022. I believe that they are pictures from the Lord for us and will help us focus our prayers and walk in the things that please Him.

Get involved in what He is doing. Speak what He is speaking. Prune your life. Plant seeds. Pray to cut down wicked rulers. Pray for and work in the Jesus people harvest. Exercise faith and be identified with His mountain in 2022. This is going to be the best year yet! Get ready!

So glad to be looking with you at these prophetic word pictures for 2022.

Debbie

Advancing in Years

Sunday Sermon 12.31.21

As I share this blog post with you today, I feel compelled to remind you that you are not getting any younger. That’s profound, I know, (she said facetiously), but important for you and me to hear as we sit on the perch of another new year. No matter your age, you are not getting any younger and you are advancing in years.

This new years eve, as we turn another calendar month and introduce the new year of 2022, we see all too clearly it confirmed, that the years just keep on advancing. But as we keep step with our advancing calendar, are we truly making forward progress? Are we truly advancing, moving on, walking forward, and going on from where we were?

Because remember, we are not getting any younger.

Let me share with you why this is the absolutely, perfect time for you to truly advance from where you have been. First we will look at 2022 from a numerological perspective, then 5720 (2022’s Hebrew counter part) and close with a quick look at three people, who are perfect examples of advancing in years.

2022

As basic numerology teaches us, the calendar year dates have numerological signifigance. “The first two numbers set the stage for the year and the last two direct that influence in a particular direction. So, the 20 in 2022 will remain powerful through 2099. 20 carries an energy of opposition from two contending forces with the challenge to find common ground.” (1)

22 – “is the most powerful number of all, as it is a master builder. It is associated with building the base or structure.” It is a combination of 11 but aslo 4, which are both powerful building numbers. (1) And let’s point out, that the Hebrew alphabet itself, has 22 letters.

It is based on these premises that Josh Siegel, states, “The future will be challenging but better.” He beleives that the next year will be all about getting back to normalacy and rebuilding our lives, especially focusing on balance in work and relationships. 22 is about bringing balance to the opposing forces in our life and working together. (1)

So, in 2022, it is time to get off the easy chair of our life and begin to seriously advance through the opposition that may stand before us. We have a powerful future to build, and we are not getting any younger.

5782

On September 7, 2021 began the Hebrew new year of 5782, and it too contains insight for what the year ahead will hold. As you may or may not remember, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet each have 3 values. They have a phonic sound, a numerical value, and a prophetic picture or sign. This has been for me a fantastically, wonderful mystery to unfold and enjoy.

Each of the numbers (5782) has a pictoral and prophetic signifigance, but I will focus on just the 82.

We are living in the decade of the 80’s. (5780’s that is, not legwarmers, big hair, spandex or neon colors) The Hebrew letter “pey” has the numerical value of 80 and it’s picture symbolizes an open mouth. It has all to do about our mouth and language.

My friend, wasn’t that exactly what broke upon us in 5780/2020? It was all about the mouth. Cover your mouth, don’t share, speak, canceling mouths, etc. We seem to be living in a decade of this, as we can attest to what we have seen in these last two years. There may be slight changes, but it is still all about the mouth.

The Hebrew number 2, the second letter of the alphabet is “bet” and its name means “house”, or tent, and is saying very loudly that God is the strength of the house, and wise are those who build the house. Two also represents to divide, difference or oppose. We can understand that ideally there should be two that mirror one another, (as in the 2 shall be one flesh); thus making a true pair that works together like ears, eyes, nostrils, hands and feet. When 2 isn’t reflecting the positive side of one (unity), it denotes division rather than multiplication. (2)

Here are my takeaway from all these dates and numbers.

2022/5782 is a year for what comes from our mouth to be in alignment with God’s Word. The fullness of His word (22 letters) and what comes from our mouth should be building His house, and our family. Our words should be strengthening our family tent, members and thereby lending strength to the churches, synagogues or temples that we attend. What we say, reflects what is in our heart and this is the year for it to be dominated by faith. It is time to change the words we are speaking and build up our family, community, temple and nation.

This is why I was so moved to write about the tongue- eating louse a few days ago. We have allowed parasites to steal the power of our tongue and the freedoms that our speech has been granted. (See my previous blog, “An Awful Animal Allegory”)

During these days of division, and of opposing forces contending with each other, what we speak reveals what we are aligned with. Are we speaking Covid protocols, variants and mandates? Are we speaking faith, hope and God’s Word? Are we multiplying or dividing?

In the decade of the mouth and especially this new year of the family and house of God, where do our loyalities lie? Are we really advancing through the years or just surviving. Are we building up our homes, and their relationships or have we given up?

Lastly, I am reminded of three biblical characters who have modeled – advancing through the years.

Zechariah/Elizabeth

“… both were advanced in years.”

Luke 1:7,18 ESV

These two, although probably well past 60, were no candidates for retirement. (nor for having children.) And yet, they were hanging onto every promise they had about their family and weren’t about to cave in because of opposition, division or long waits! Their family was gonna advance, by golly!

Anna

” And there was a prophetess, Anna, … she was advanced in years…”

Luke 2:36 ESV

Anna was cut out of the same fabric of faith that Zack and Liz were. She knew she wasn’t getting any younger and she still chose to contend for every promise that God put in her heart. She was definately advancing and not retreating.

Caleb

At age 40, Caleb was recruited for a spy mission, with 11 others. He reported back after the mission that they were well able to take the land that they had spied out. He immediately faced opposition with a loud and convincing report to the contrary. After another 45 years of patiently waiting, look at his statement,

“… the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years… And now, I am 85 years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength then, for war and for going and coming.”

Joshua 14:10-11 ESV

Caleb knew he wasn’t getting any younger, and he also knew that he was advancing in years and in strength and had been for 45 years! I want some of that!

To wish you a happy new year would be cordial, (and that I do), but my wish for you dear one, is that through this new year of 2022, you will truly advance in faith, and not just in years, that you will use a bold, open, faith-speaking mouth, and that you will multiply blessings in your family and not division. I pray that regardless of opposition, you will advance, grow, move forward become better and stronger.

May 2022/5780 see you strongly advancing in years. (cuz you’re not getting any younger.)

Happy advancing!

Debbie

  1. Josh Siegel, numerologist
  2. K. Gallagher, Graceintorah.net

An Awful Animal Allegory

” Allegory = a story, picture, or poem that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning – typically a moral or political one.”

Oxford Dictionary

Beware, the material you are about to read is true and graphic and can be verified by any google search or research in science and nature, especially that of Parasitology – the study of parasites.

The poor snapper and carpenter fish are common hosts for this parasite, “cymothoa exigua” – or as it is affectionately called, the tongue – eating louse. It is a parasitic isopod (a crustacean with a body of seven segments each bearing a pair of legs). Growing a from 8 – 20 mm long, it is usually found in the ocean in the gulf of CA to Ecuador and parts of the Atlantic, in depts between 6-200 feet, but also identified in ground water, caves and even deserts.

tongue-eating louse
cymothoa exigua

That’s the animal part, now here comes the awful part.

This little louse lives in and around the gill of a fish. They are all males until maturity, at which time he may change to female. (protandrous hermaphrodites) This female then, enters through the gills into the fish’s mouth, and anchors herself to the tongue of the fish with her 7 pairs of scorpion like stinger legs.

With her 5 sets of jaws, each with long, lance-like teeth, she slowly drains the blood from the fish’s tongue until it antrophies from the tip to the back.

Having severed the fish’s blood supply, the tongue will eventually fall off leaving only a muscular stub. The parasite replaces the fish’s tongue by attaching to the muscles of the tongue. The louse has now effectively and functionally replaced the hosts organ.

As she eats the steady stream of nutrients from the fish, it too is still able to gain enough nutrition to survive with the parasite having replaced its tongue.

The slow and small blood loss doesn’t harm the fish, and the replaced tongue actually becomes sort of a prosthetic for the fish. The male parasites, still outside on the fish gills, will join her and reproduce, eventually having babies on the parasitic tongue of the fish.

After producing her babies, she will eventually release them to the sea for their survival. She will eventually release herself to the sea where, because she is now unable to swim, will herself die. A fish without a tongue has no chance of survival and too will soon die. Both the parasite and the fish won’t survive, this is a picture of true parasitism.

Tongue-eating louses are not harmful to humans (unless you see the movie, The Bay, 2012) but there once was a lawsuit against a large supermarket chain, in which a client ate a cooked snapper and claimed the tongue-eating louse (in the snapper) poisoned him. The suit was dismissed.

From this awful animal allegory of cymotha exigui, may we each gleen the hidden meaning intended for us to not become the clown that yields to a parasitic take over of our tongues and speech.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

The Right Time and Place #5

#5 in a series of 5 Sunday Sermons 12.24.21

In this series we have found reassurances (from the lives of Job, Eliju, Esther, and Daniel) that even though our circumstances may seem to the contrary, we can still find ourselves in the right place at the exact right time.

As we close this topic, we will add the young lives of Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus Christ, to those who have lessons to teach us.

#5 – Mary and Joseph – Carriers of Jesus

What were you like when you were in high school? How firm was your faith and trust in Jehovah God? Looking back, would you have considered yourself to be just, or righteous? How often did you attend synagogue, temple or church? Could it have been said of you that you “found favor with God”? Were you a servant of The Most High God? Did you obey God when He spoke to you? Did you do as He told you?

Most scholars believe that Mary was 15-16 years old when she gave birth to Jesus and that Joseph was 20 or so. In our culture, that would have put Mary smack dab in the middle of high school, and Joseph barely out and finding his carreer path. Yet these two, were the chosen carriers of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Could they possibly be in the right time and right place?

Mary and Joseph – Betrothed

” Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin bethothed to a man whose name was Joseph… And the virgin’s name was Mary.”

Luke 1:26-27 ESV

What appears to be an ordinary, lowly, and young Middle Eastern couple on the surface reveals something much deeper and extraordinary.

These two were betrothed to one another. They were promised to each other, perhaps even an arranged marriage. The cultural norms of the day made it illegal to be married before 12 years of age or to live with a husband before 12.5. What ages they were isn’t specified in scripture, other than the hint given when Joseph offered 2 pigeons as an offering at Jesus’ dedication. (that suggests that Joseph was 20, as required in the Law).

What we do know is these two were extraordinarily devoted to Jehovah God and therefore we surmise to the covenant of marriage. A few paragraphs ago, I asked you about your high school descriptors, those descriptions – firm in faith to Jehovah God, trust in God, just, righteous, regular temple attendance and celebrations, “found favor with God”, obedient to what God tells you; these are all ascribed to either Mary or Joseph in the Gospel of Luke. These “kids” were in right relationship with God. They knew Him and wanted to please Him and were planning on doing that together in the covenant of marriage.

They were young people of impeccable character and moral fiber. What would have been ok for others to cheat on or lie about was not okay for Mary and Joseph.They were doing things the right way, God’s way, and they were doing it in their youth.

Mary and Joseph – Believed

Mary was just hanging out in her room when this angel appears and says,

” Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you! Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.

And Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy – the Son of God.”

“And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.””

Luke 1:28-38 ESV

Try as we may to understand and apply this to our lives, we will be forever baffled and amazed at this supernatural encounter. When God speaks the impossible to a lowly teenager and when she genuinely and humbly receives it and submits willfully to Holy Spirit’s overshadowing, our minds are blown!

Yet, not Mary’s. She asked how, God told her how, and she said, bring it on God, I am yours. Do what you have said, I trust you.

THIS IS WHAT FAITH IN GOD LOOKS LIKE.

Mary believed God. This high schooler was exactly where she was s’pose to be when Gabriel appeared, heard exactly what God was going to do and believed that God was able to do it in and through her. No doubt Mary was in the right place at the right time.

But how do you explain this pregnancy to your fiancee, family and friends?

Somehow, she found the words and told Joseph about the angelic encounter and the blessing of her womb with the Son of God. His response?

” And her husband, Joseph, being a just man, and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly . But as he considered these things, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ” Joseph, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son and you will call his name Jesus. Joseph woke from his sleep, and he did as the angel commanded him.”

Matthew 1:18-21, 24

No doubt overcome with questions himself, Joseph believed God. He beleived the word from the angel and he kept his commitment to Mary and their pending wedding. Joseph believed, too. Together, Mary and Joseph would become the carriers of Jesus Christ and together they believed.

When you each have an angelic visitation, you can pretty much bank on the fact that you are in the right place at the right time, can’t you?

It is interesting to note, that not only did this young couple choose to believe, but there is an elderly couple in this story too, that believed!

Luke 1:7 describes Elizabeth and Zechariah as “both were advanced in years.” That for sure means not young. Hidden away in Mary and Joseph’s young life of being in the right place at the right time, is an elderly couple, also being in the right place at the right time. This elderly couple also believed God’s voice and promise. (Well, Zechariah believed after he didn’t believe. ha!)

Young Mary and Joseph believed. The advanced in years Elizabeth and Zechariah also believed.

Mary and Joseph – Became

Because of their faith, trust, and obedience, Mary and Joseph became the guardians of God. They were to steward if you will, (cuz that’s what all parents are called to do) their child who was really God in the flesh. They became the parents of Jesus. They became the family for Jesus. They became the tutors of God, the man.

This extraordinary, young couple, of impeccable moral fiber and godly character, fervent for temple, Jewish tradition, and Jehovah God were called to become the carriers of Jesus. They have become the cornerstone of Jesus’ earthly family, because they were in the right place at the right time, doing the right things! Therefore, the favor of God rested on them.

I believe that Mary, Joseph and even Zechariah and Elizabeth speak to us clearly of what God is looking for in these days, our days.

  1. He is looking for those who will be carriers of Jesus to a lost and broken world
  2. He is looking for those who will believe what He says
  3. He is looking for young, old and everyone inbetween to believe his word and act on it
  4. He is looking for those who will become like Him and become the family replacement to the dysfunctional family template of this world
  5. He is looking for those who are committed to Him, as in betrothed to live and love only him

Now, and into 2022 is the right time to be carriers of Jesus. Now and through 2022, wherever you are is the right place.

Will you be a carrier of Jesus? Now is the time, where you are is the place.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Debbie

A Brief History of Christmas in America

The History Files

Today, as I write this, it is December 21, the day the Earth is most tilted away from the sun, limiting our sunlight to 9 hours and 5 minutes, the least of any day all year. It is the Winter Solstice.

For centuries, the winter solstice has been a time of celebration – celebrating the light and birth in the darkest days. The end of December feasting always featured slaughtered cattle along with enjoyment of the fermented wine and beer that was now ready for drinking.

It was during this time that pagan gods were celebrated and honored. For example, in Germany, the pagan god Oden was honored during the mid-winter holiday. The Germans believed he made night flights throught the sky to observe people and decide who would prosper or perish. (Sound like anyone you know… he see you when you’re sleeping.)

These ideas are the setting for the traditions of Christmas and its celebrations.

Early Christians didn’t celebrate the birth of the Christ child, mainly because the date is not stated in scripture and is uncertain. But during Christ’s time, the Romans celebrated feasts and festivals in the winter solstice. They too were honoring their gods, like the god of agriculture, Saturn in the festival of Saturnalia.

It was in the second century, that Sextus Julius Africanus, a Christian historian proclaimed December 25 as Christ’s birthday. Then during the fourth century, church officials instutituted an official holiday for the birth of Christ. Pope Julius I chose December 25 to dethrone the pagan gods and place the Christ child in the seat of worship. This was first called “The Feast of the Nativity” and spread to Egypt in 432, and reached England during the sixth century where it was renamed Christmas.

Unfortunately, these English Christmas celebrations involved church attendance that was followed by drunkenness, wanton sex, carnival atmosphere in the streets, and mobs terrified the people.

In the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans took over England with religious reformations. The Puritans not only cancelled Christmas celebrations but made it illegal to celebrate.

“Anyone who observed the sacreligious and satanical holiday by exchanging gifts, dressing in fine clothes or feasting would be fined 5 shillings.”

1645 AD

During the preRevolutionary War era in America, the early settlers brought the debate about Christmas with them. Many thought it should be celebrated minus the immoral activities. However, not all agreed. Therefore each state made it’s own laws and observing Christmas was taboo in some states and illegal in others until 1870.

Thanks in large part to the American novelist, Washington Irving, and the fictional characters and settings he created in his book, “The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent” in 1819, American’s views on Christmas began to change. Irving’s admirer, Charles Dickens followed with his own book, “A Christmas Carol”, in 1843, and now American’s were rethinking and reimagining Christmas as a family time of hope, of gift giving, benevolence and cheer.

It was in 1870 that President Grant, proclaimed Christmas as a national holiday. It seemed his main desire was to bring the nation together in the aftermath of the Civil War, and to remind American’s of their common faith in Christ – The Prince of Peace. By the late 1800’s Christmas was celebrated much like it is today. Trees lit in homes and parks, cards shared, stockings hung, gifts and meals shared, and Santa Clause visiting.

Our American Christmas traditions come from many parts of the world, just as our people do.

We can thank the Germans for the trees and wreaths. The yule log and 12 days of Christmas come to us from Norway. Queen Elizabeth I brought us gingerbread houses and cookies. And Saint Nicholas, the parton saint of children comes to us from Turkey. (In 1774, when the Dutch families in New York gathered to honor his death that Sinter Klaas -Dutch for St. Nick was born. By 1804, St. Nick with his familiar look became popular.) The Catholics brought us the tradition of keeping a small nativity scene in our home.

Christmas is both a secular and a sacred holiday in America, as well as a world wide phenomenon.

Christians world wide celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. The account of his birth is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. They tell of a miracle child, born of virgin birth, being promised and being born in a lowly stable in Bethlehem. This child was the Son of God, Emmanuel, Jesus, savior of the world. He came to bring life, light, hope and peace to all mankind.

This is the world wide phenomenon – Jesus.

As you join with family and friends to feast and share good cheer, or as you attend a church service, I pray your Christmas history also include the celebration of Jesus’ birth, as you celebrate Christmas in America.

Merry Christmas,

Debbie

How Do You Manage Stress?

This week I was told that an old friend of mine had just lost his twenty four year old son to suicide.

There are no words to express the range of emotions that accompany this unimaginable loss, either for me, but more importantly, for my friend and his family. There may be no loss greater than the suicide of your child. As a mother, I tried to understand the sheer volume of feelings, emotions, experiences and thoughts that would drive my child to such a permanent decision. There are no words. My heart aches.

It appears that the common thread that connects all suicides is the overwhelming feeling of dread, despair, lonliness and hopelessness among those who commit suicide. Additionally, depression, academic performance, workplace performance, economic standing along with other factors hold serious importance too. (1)

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. It is the 4th leading cause of death for adolescents, globally. In 2019 there were 47,511 lives lost due to suicide, while 1.4 million attempted suicide. (1)

Finding ways to cope with the hopelessness that surrounds us is a very important life skill. Being able to manage the stress and anxiety is vital for all of us. Withhout these coping skills the suicide statistics will continue to climb, and families will continue to be shattered by the unthinkable, unexpected loss of loved ones.

We all realize that during the holidays not every home is “merry and bright”, and although we sing of it being “the most wonderful time of the year”, for the “masked many”, it is not. The lights of the holiday season fail to bring the illumination needed to the dark lonliness of the “masked many”.

Let’s work together to help each other to better manage stress. K?

Here are some signs that you or a loved one may be needing stress relief: (2)

  • trouble sleeping
  • headaches
  • indigestion
  • muscle tension
  • exhaustion
  • change in appetite
  • teeth grinding

If you notice these in you (or your friend) and you’ve not experienced them before, talk to a doctor, discuss the stresses in your life.

It’s important to learn to manage our stress, because stress is a part of all of our lives. We will always have to deal with it. It will look different in each life, but it always impacts our life in a negative way. Chronic stress can even lead to heart disease, memory impariment and depression.

Of course, we have seen the ways it can impact our relationships with other people, too. We have less patience with people and struggle to handle situations that we normally are able to manage.

So, here are some stress management tips: (3)

  1. Get to the root cause of the stress – look deep, beyond the obvious. Hone in. Evaluate what you like and don’t like about it.
  2. Meditate – collect your thoughts, bring them back. Center them in truth and focus them on the truth.
  3. Deep breathing – focus on taking deeper breaths, it slows your heart rate down and relaxes muscles. Consequently, your stress responses are slowed and your concentration improved.
  4. Manage your time – allow yourself breaks in the day to rest and recharge
  5. Consider journaling – this helps you to get your feelings out and identify things that are causing stress
  6. Make lists and prioritize – you may have alot to do, so write them down. But also order them, not everything is a priority. Be honest.
  7. Do one thing at a time – multitasking does not allow you to do your best work because you are doing too many things. Your brain does not like jumping back and forth. Allow it to focus and offer your best, then move on.

Learning to utilize these tips and tools will help, but should you find they are not helping enough, seek the assistance of a professional. They will be able to help you identify causes, and equip you with skills to manage your stress.

Take honest stock of your life or the life of your loved one. Learning how to manage stress and helping our loved ones manage stress will help to assure that no one you know has to deal with a loss due to suicide.

So, how do you manage stress? Are you managing it, or is it managing you?

Cheers to you,

Debbie

Works Cited:

  1. afsp.org (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)
  2. http://www.betterhelp.com
  3. ibid

The Right Time and Place #3

#3 of 5, In a series of Sunday Sermons. 12.11.21

#3 Esther – a Queen

She lived as an outsider, outcast, and in exile. She lived as an orhpan, her parents having been killed in one of the many battles for Jerusalem. Here she was without family or freedoms. How could she be in the right place and how could this be the right time?

Esther beautiful, brazen abd blessed

Lovingly adopted by her cousin, he did his best to raise this beautiful, young lady as his very own daughter. But even then, she was taken captive by the kings servants who were seizing beautiful, young ladies for the king as he sought to find a new queen.

Esther -was beautiful

She, a young vigrin was seized, and taken along with hundreds of other young ladies, to the palace. Once again, she was alone, without family or freedom. Certainly there was nothing right about this time or place, she must have thought.

Without even her own approval, she was forced into a year long preparation period, so that she would be ready to be seen by the king. It was during this time that she found favor with her trainers. She found favor with her handlers. She found favor with the other ladies. Because she pleased them and won their favor, they advanced her and placed her in the “best place of the harem.”

Her beauty had made room for her and her graciousness had gained her favor. Could she be in the right palce at the right time?

Then her time came to come before the king and spend the night with him. Esther was fully aware what she was entering into, she had over a year to memtally, emotionally and spiritually prepare for her encounter with the king. But how could this sexual encounter be right? She was a young virgin, he an older man of means. Was she in the right place at the right time? How could anything about her rape be right?

We are told that the king “loved Esther more than all the other women.” Esther 2:17 So, did that now make it right? From that moment on, she won the grace and favor of the king, more than all the others, so he set the royal crown on her head and made her Queen.

There is much to question about the workings of God through unfortunate and abusive situations, and in many areas of Esther’s life, I find myself with such questions. But through it all, it remains abundantly clear that Esther always believed she was in the right place at the right time. As she wandered in exile, under the arm and care of her uncle, an orphan, captured by the kings men to be part of his harem. We never read of her fighting, kicking or rejecting what circumstances brought her way. And in fact, her uncle sought to teach her of Yahweh’s sovereignty, provision and blessing upon his people – the Jews.

She was goverened by a greater law than what was forced upon her. She was internally goverened by an absolute rest in God’s goodness and soverignity.

She knew she was in the palace, with the king right now, and right on time. Although, as of yet, she doesn’t know why.

Esther was brazen

As Queen, she now had the attention of everyone in the palace, most especially the King.

As events play out, an evil plan is hatched to have all the Jews in the empire killed, all the way from India to Ethiopia. As her uncle shares this with her, Esther is deeply distressed, for she is a Jew and no one in the palace knows it. How could this happen to her people? How could this be the right time?

At the bidding of her uncle she calls the Jews to a fast, to seek what ought to be done. The answer comes, and it involves her. Her uncle tells her,

” For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Esther 4:14

The risk before Esther was approaching the King without being invited. For this was against the law and a possible death sentence should she be rejected and the golden scepter not be extended toward her. Her response to this risk,

…if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 4:16

Esther was brazen. She was bold and without shame. She knew that she was in the right place at the right time. It was her time to speak up. Her time had come. THIS was the place.

Her faith and trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty paid off, for as she stood at the doorway of the court of the King, she won favor in his sight and he extended his scepter to allow her entrance.

As all wise women, she had a plan. She cunningly planned a series of banquets and invited the king and the one who plotted to kill the Jews to attend. Then at just the right time and in the right place, she reveals the plot to kill her people. She fell at the Kings feet and wept and pleaded with him to avert the evil plan.

Esther was blessed

The King gave she and her uncle authority to write whatever legislation they needed and gave his signet ring to her uncle. It would then be published in all 127 provinces of the empire. She had his blessing in whatever they wrote and all that they needed.

It was then that the order was given that the Jews would be able to defend themselves when the death order was executed. Throughout the land, on the very day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to destroy them, the reverse occurred! The Jews gained mastery over those who hated them!

As they fought back a great victory and deliverance was won for the Jews.

To this day, the Jews celebrate the Feast of Purim, the feast that commemorates Esther’s request and the Jews mighty deliverance. It is a yearly celebration with much joy, eating, drinking and costumes.

Esther was blessed with courage, favor and a strategy to save her people, and she is blessed today by the Jews.

But who could have imagined an orphan, living in exile, being raised by her uncle, and then captured by the government for the kings harem would be in the right place at the right time? Who could have imagined that this young Esther would become Queen of a powerful nation? Who could have imagined that she would thwart the death penalty unleashed on her people?

The journey that has brought you to where you are today may or may not be a pretty one. You may have experienced loss of family and freedoms. There may be other facets that you share with Esther too. But know this my friend, you too can begin to see and recognize the favor and grace of God on your life. You too can experience trust and confidence in God’s soverignity and rest in his goodness.

No matter your past, God sees you as His chosen one, his beloved, his Queen (or King). He has a plan for you, a time and a place for you to speak up. Stand up. Risk it all. He has groomed you for such a time. He is preparing you for such a time. He is arranging for you to be in just the right place to speak what is needed at just the right time.

You are beautiful in God’s eyes, and He has made you too, to be brazen, because He wants to bless you and those around you.

It is your time and place.

Check back next week at we study Daniel- a wiseman, who was Purposed, Prophetic and Powerful.

Go with God.

Debbie

A Defining Moment

One of the most distinctive features on our face has been getting alot of attention recently from me. We are told that as a species we pay alot of attention to this facial feature. In fact, scientists tell us that we recognize a familiar face more easily when eyes are blacked out, than when these are. What are they, these things that have attracted my attention of late? Eyebrows!

Yes, eyebrows.

With age comes many things, and now I have discovered one more – the disappearance and greying of my eyebrows. Hang with me, because you, too, have eyebrows, and there are some interesting points to be made about them and lessons for us.

I don’t know when it happened, but not long ago I looked into the mirror and realized that there was no definition to my eyes, because I couldn’t see my eyebrows. Geesh! When did that happen? How long had I been eyebrowless? How did I loose that definition on my face? This was a defining moment for me.

So I began to research and experiment with cosmetic solutions to redefine my eyes. There were brushes, pencils, gels, powders and shadows. Also for consideration were cloning my eyebrows, (that’s ridiculous), the very popular tattooing (too expensive) of eyebrows, and let’s not forget microblading, (ouch).

I settled on a few new products, consulted with a couple of friends, and proceeded to do what I could to define my eyes and face again. With the little interest and experience that I have with make up, this was challenging, but I found my solution.

Eyebrows come in all shapes, sizes, colors and textures. Believe me, I have been observing them very seriously and taken note of every kind. But what they all have in common, even yours, is their two-fold purpose:

  • Communication
  • Prevention of sweat, water & other debris from entering the eye

Communication – eyebrows provide cues for expressing moods. Facial expressions reveal genuine emotions and eyebrows exaggerate them.

In a 2003 study, people were shown pictures of famous people. The photos however, had been manipulated and they all either had no eyes or no eyebrows. When shown the pictures, the famous people with their eyes blacked out were recognized 60% of the time. However, the photos who’s eyebrows were balcked out where only recognized 46% of the time. It seems we recognize people more by their eyebrows than we do their eyes. Unbeleivable!

It is that one raised eyebrow that tells us interest or skepticism, or surprise with both eyebrows raised. It is the up and down movement of those eyebrows that tell us what people are thinking. They help us express recognition and sympathy. Those muscles in our face, moving our eyebrows are helping us to communicate with those in our world. Those eyebrows are defining us and our communication.

Prevention – the eyebrows prevent sweat from dripping into our eyes. The arch design diverts moisture to the side, thus protecting our eyes. Those eyebrow hairs, growing outward, and toward the sides of your face are designed to protect your vision.

We use our eyes more than any sense and blurred vision isn’t at all helpful. Our eyebrows keep rain and sweat out and give us clear vision.

Through the generations of man, clearly visible eyebrows have provided safety from predators. Whereas today, their primary function seems to be a means of communicating.

The shape, color and thickness of your eyebrows are genetic. It takes four different genes to affect your hair texture. One gene that affects their shape. Five genes work together to produce your eyebrow color, and one gene decides if you have a unibrow. (sorry… waxing???)

This pair of moisture wicking, signal senders/receptors define our faces and feelings to the world. Without them, our face lacks definition. There is no defining moment for our eyes or communication.

A defining moment” – a point when the essential character of a person is revealed or identified. A decision that fundamentally changes you and therefore transforms your perceptions and behaviors.

A defining moment” – a fork in the road.

I had a defining moment at the mirror confronting my eyebrows. But that is not the point here. It is however a visual for the point.

What defines you? What are your defining moments?

Is there a solid definition to the things that you do? Is there purpose, meaning, value? But more importantly, what are the things that define who you are and who you will allow yourself to become or be transformed into?

Has your definition, distinction disappeared? Has your personality/character color, texture, and shape faded, erroded, or waned? Do you live by clear distinctives, principles, and values? Do you allow environmental factors to permamently affect your shape; like waxing, and tweezing permanently affect your eyebrows?

Do you allow things or people to define you? What do you allow to define your communication or provide your protection? How does your personal definition prevent debris from flooding your life?

Defining moments affect our identity (just like eyebrows do), and I trust that today, as you look into the mirror, you will see not only your defining eyebrows, but look deeper and evaluate those things that define you. Are they greying? Do they need redefining?

May this be a defining moment for you.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

The Right Place and Time #2

#2 of 5- In a series of Sunday Sermons 12.4.21

#2 Elihu – a spokesman

Last week we introduced this series by exposing our driving desire to be in the right place at the right time. As an example, and for insight, we looked at Job, who was targeted by God for tremendous surprises in his life as he suffered through his many losses.

What surprises have you seen this week in your life? Your families life?

As you may remember, after Job lost his family, wealth, health and the support of his wife, he was visited by some friends, who came to show him sympathy and comfort. Job 2:11

Elihu and Job

These men were elders, men of high standing, just like Job. “These three were from the East, an area known for the wisdom of man. They relied solely on their reasoning and presuppositions to explain Job’s suffering” (1) Yet, for the next 30 chapters, what we observe is their endless reasoning and arguing with Job that he has sinned and must repent. while Job insists on his own righteousness.

Elihu – a spokesman

Elihu – the tender, truth-teller

Then, out of nowhere, appears a fourth voice. Elihu. It is thought that Eliju was an observer of these four men’s interactions and reasonings. For days he sat, observed, listened, mused, fumed and stewed as he listened to their empty arguements and baseless assertions. Until, he had had enough. They had finished their exchanges in a dead heat and now Elihu was heated enough to explode.

” So these men ceased to answer Job… Then Elihu, the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the family of of Ram, burned with anger. He burned with anger at Job… he burned with anger also at Job’s three friends…. Now Elihu had waited to speak because they were older than he. And when Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, he burned with anger.”

Job 32:1-5 ESV

Was Elihu in the right place?

Geesh, here was an elder who had been beset with horrible boils running with pus, blood and infection. He was actually unidentifiable, his friends didn’t even recognize him. Job 2:12 He’d lost all he valued and was sitting in the junkyard. Surrounding him were his “friends” attempting to comfort and console him. Yet, nothing he’d heard from their “wise” mouths brought either. Elihu was aghast! These are wise men from the east? These men are renoun for their understanding and insight?

“It is not the old who are wise, nor the aged who understand what is right.” Job 32:9 Elihu concluded.

He knew now, that he was in the right place at just the right time. He was full of words, had respectfully waited his turn, attentively listened to all points of view and was now ready to speak. NOW was the right time. Job 32:18

Four times this text states: “he burned with anger“.

This phrase when translated more fully from the Hebrew would really read, (2)

Elihu’s heart began to race and his breathing intensified. His face began to imitate the rage of his heart, because as a seer-prophet he saw and understood what God was saying and knew that he must speak on God’s behalf. He must open his lips and answer. Job 32:7-8, 18-22; 36:2

He was in the right place and the right time had finally come!

You see, Elihu, although younger than the other wise friends, was a prophetic voice. His name means, “He is my God”. He is a prophetic descendent of Abraham. The city he was from (Ram” short for Aram, Abraham) was known for its prophets. The other three friends came to Job from the East, with man’s wisdom, but Elihu came to Job with a prophetic voice, Godly insight and perspective.

Eliju had been groomed and prepped his whole life for this exact place and this exact time.

As a new wineskin bursting with fermented, new wine he exploded on the scene. Job 32:19

For the next six chapters of Job (32-37), Elihu speaks for God. He brings four charges from God to these men and this case:

  • Chapter 32 – Elihu rebukes the three friends
  • Chapter 33 – Elihu tells Job that he is not right, because God is always just
  • Chapter 34 – Elihu emphasizes that God is just
  • Chapter 35 – Elihu confronts Job’s misspeech. Saying that Job is not suffering becasue of sin, but is sinning in his suffering.
  • Chapter 36 & 37 – Elihu tells of God’s greatness, majesty, might and power

The Encyclopedia Britannica says this of Elihu,

” Elihu is a superhuman intermediary who will help restore Job to God.”

When a tender, truth-teller shows up on the scene, in the midst of hopelessness, pain and suffering, that one could surely be considered super human.

Elihu’s perspective was that God is always just. Powerful. Merciful. God is always seeking to teach us and uses every situation in our life to teach us. Elihu identified God a the teacher in Job’s sufferings and Job would do well to learn the lessons that God was teaching him, rather than accuse and misspeak. God is always good and will never do wickedly. Why contend with God?

Elihu, the son of “God has blessed”, the father of the “prophet”, of the family of “high or exalted ancestor of David”, was in the right place at the right time with his heart full of words, his belly like wine without a vent. There he was called to speak the word of the Lord that was burning within him, just like Jeremiah in Jeremiah 19: 9 The burning truth of the Lord was shut up in his bones and he could not hold it in any longer.

These are the days that we are living in, oh mighty ones. Days of being in the right place at the right time and speaking what God has burned into our heart. Days of Elihu’s arising. Watching for times to speak. Listen, observe, wait, respect, honor and then speak boldly the truth into the situation.

Understand the times and seasons, and be that one who, out of nowhere, speaks the powerful Word of God into a hopeless situation. Let his Word ferment within you and be released into your family, workplace, neighborhood, church, synagogue, temple, classroom, and your sphere of influence.

We need more tender, truth-tellers. We need more spokesmen like Elihu.

Next week, we will study Esther – a princess who was beautiful, brazen and blessed. Hope to see you back.

Go with God.

Debbie

1. Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., Keyword Study Bible

2. Hebrew lexicon H2374; H639;

The Supreme Court

Years ago I had the distinct privilege to sit in a hearing of The Supreme Court of the USA. I remember it well, as do the other adults that I was with. There was a reverence, seriousness, silence and awe in the atmosphere. All were nervously leaning in to every word and doing their best to understand the proceedings and legal speech. I will never forget that experience.

The Supreme Court of the US is the “highest court in the land.” That means it is the final arbiter of the law and serves to ensure that we Americans receive equal justice under the law and proper interpretation of the Constitution of the US.

It was established by our forefathers as one of three co-equal branches of goverment in 1789; those three, of course are: The Legeslative Branch (“Congress”, which is housed in The Capitol), The Executive Branch ( housed in The White House, The President’s office and home), and the Judicial Branch (housed in the Supreme Court Building and lead by Chief Justice Roberts with the other eight Associate Justices).

The job of the Supreme Court is to hear controversial cases that have been appealed by states and then determine it’s constitutional standing and accuracy. This is called “judicial review”. Their scope of cases involve law and equity under the constitution; laws of the US; and treaties that have been made.

Our judicial system involves the Supreme Court, at the top, so to speak, but also 13 appellate courts, with 94 federal judges that serve in 12 regional circuits. These are circuit or district courts.

The 94 district courts or trial courts resovle issues by hearing facts and applying legal principles to decide who is right. Each case is decided by a Judge and a jury. Each American adult is expected to take their turn to serve on a jury, it is our duty.

There are also special courts in the US which handle things like bankruptcy, appeals for bankruptcy and Article I courts, (which deal with veterans claims, armed forces appeals and taxes).

Having recently finished reading the book of Job, I was reminded and blown away with the preception that he maintained of his innocence before God. Repeatedly he refers to the Almighty as his judge and hearer of his case, as so often he uses legal terms in referencing God. Check out these snipits:

  • ” I appeal my cause to God…” Job 5:8
  • ” my witness is in heaven and he who testifies for me is on high” Job 16:19
  • ” I desire to argue my case with God” Job 13:3
  • ” will you plead the case for God?” Job 13:8
  • ” I will argue my ways to his face” Job 13:15
  • ” I have prepared my case” Job 13:18

In fact, Job has a strong case. God is The Judge. He sits on the circle of the earth and makes all rulers meaningless. (Isaiah 40:23)

We all will stand before the Great Ancient of Days, in the highest court in heaven, where we will see One seated on a firey throne, with flames coming from it’s wheels, and a stream of fire coming from him. Millions upon millions will stand before this Court as the evidenciary books are opened, facts are read and judgment is leveled by he Righteous Judge. (Daniel 7; Revelation 20; Revelation 4 & 5)

In the Throneroom of Heaven, sits the true highest court, and it is within this court that the Lord has taken his place to contend and judge peoples. (Isaiah 3:13-14)

It is before THIS supreme courtroom of heaven that I emplore you to plead not only your case before God, but in prayer to appeal to the Judge of the Earth on behalf of the cases before the Supreme Court and lower courts of our land at this time.

With seriousness and awe may we lean in to this time in history by bringing our case before heaven’s Supreme Court.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

The Right Place and Time #1

#1 of 5- In a series of Sunday Sermons 11.27.21

#1 – Job – a target

Have you ever wondered if you are in the right place doing the right thing? Or had the opposite occur, when things synced up so perfectly and everything felt just as it should, with that, “WOW, this is amazing!” moment? Then again, how ’bout that heavy sense that “things just blew up”, and something is not right?

We all want to be in the right place at the right time, don’t we? We want it all to line up, sync up and to feel that “WOW!” moment.

That is what we will be addressing for the next five weeks (in our Sunday Sermons) – “The right place and time“. We will take a look a five different characters and see what insights we can gain from them on this topic. Our focus will be on Job, Elihu, Esther, Daniel and Mary and Joseph; we will let them teach us from their experiences. I hope you will follow along and check back each week.

Today, our first example is Job.

Job a target.

Job – success, suffering, & surprises

Was Job in the right place at the right time? Let’s see.

We find Job in the oldest book in the Bible, the one that bears his name – Job. He lived in Uz, which is in the Middle East between Damascus and the Euphrates River. He probably lived the same time as Genesis chapters 12-50 are happening, about the the time of the Patriarchs.

He is a noteworthy man of character. The biblical description says of him,

” … that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.”

Job 1:1 ESV

It then goes on to ennumerate his family and wealth. He had seven sons, three daughters, and thousands of sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys. Plus shifts of workers to care for them all. He is described as the greatest man of all the people of the East. Job 1:2-3

He dearly loved his family and was 100% devoted to them. He even made sacrifices for them.

In spite of all this SUCCESS that he had, his name, the name Job means, ” the hated or persecuted one; (object of enmity).”

Was he in the right time and right place? His name sure didn’t match up with his fame. Things were good for him, but they sure weren’t adding up.

Job was a target.

He was successful. He was God-fearing. His family was his priority. He was the greatest in the East. Does that sound like you? (Well, three out of four, maybe?) And he was a target. (you?)

Satan was roaming and looking through the Earth. Job 1:7; 2:2

God targeted Job. Job 1:8; 2:36

Job was in the right place at the right time.

Job was successful.

He was prosperous in land, herds, wealth and family. Spiritually, he was God-fearing, blameless and sacrificed for his children as a priest. He was respected in the surrounding region as an influencial leader.

What parrallels can we draw? You’re doing ok with possessions, family. Maybe even involved in community affairs of civic leadership. You’re maybe also God-fearing. Perhaps your portfolio, stocks or investment properties are flourishing. You, too are successful.

Or perhaps you have found happiness and success in a less “wealthy” lifestyle, because you have wealth of another kind. You see yourself however by these measures as successful.

Job, in his success, was a target. God said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job?” God was about to help Job get in sync with his name. Job was about to understand the impact of his name.

Job suffered.

In one day, Job lost his family and fortune. Oxen, donkeys, workers, sheep, workers, camels, workers, sons and daughters. Within hours it was all gone! He was a target. AND, he was in the right place at the right time.

His response to his excruciating losses – he tore his clothes. shaved his head, fell to the ground and worshipped God, as he said,

” Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return.”

Job 1:21 ESV

On another day, he lost his health and the support of his wife. Job 2:1-9

His response,

” Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil?”

Job 2:10 ESV

Somewhere deep in Job was the deepest of resolves that God is good, no matter what it looks like. God is good, all the time! And in all of this, Job didn’t sin with hip lips, by bad talking God and His ways.

Was he in the right place at the right time? You betcha! He was right on target.

Are there parrallels to your life? You tell me…

Truth is, bad things happen to good people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. (Matther 5:45)

Suffering is not meant to punish us, but to correct us, restore us and keep us on the right path. Suffering is helpful when we turn to God for understanding and even ask important questions. Suffering is harmful if we harden our heart and reject God, or refuse to ask Him questions and miss His lessons.

Satan does nothing without God’s authorization. So when God authroizes Satan to unleash suffering on us it is to:

” …humble us and test what’s in our hearts.”

Deuteronomy 8:2 ESV

This isn’t because God doesn’t know what is in our hearts, but so that we will see what really lies in our heart.

Satan comes only to destroy everything about you. John 10:10 God’s plan is to purify our heart, by turning up the heat of suffering in our life, and to produce precious gold. 1 Peter 1:7; Job 23:10

Peter even understood this, he wrote,

“Don’t be surprised at suffering that comes on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you…” 1 Peter 4:12

God knew that suffering would produce steadfastness in Job. (James 1:2) Just like it will in you and me. James also goes on to say, “That he who remains steadfast will receive a crown of life.” James 1:12 Then James repeats what Job has just stated,

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.”

James 1:16

God is good. He only gives good gifts. Whether or not it looks like my definition of good, God is good and this gift is good.

Jesus told us that God, as our Father knows how to give good gifts to his kids. Matthew 7:9-12

Job was a target for the gift of God’s refinning.

Job was in the exact right place at the exact right time to be targeted by God for success and suffering. Job, God and Satan were all on target. But the best was yet to come.

Next week we will address Job’s friends and the part they play. In fact, for the next 35 chapters in his book, the friends’ dialogue with Job is the focus. But that’s for next week.

Job was a target and in the right place at the right time! Through his success and suffering he had remained steadfast and now he was ready for surprises.

Job received surprises!

God actually shows up and talks to Job (that makes it pretty clear Job was in the right place at the right time). God revealed himself to Job in chapters 38-42 and 42:5. (I personally think that THIS is the greatest surprise – to receive God’s presence and hear His voice.) God tells Job to pray for his three friends. And when he does, God restores Job’s fortune. All of it, and his wealth was doubled.

No kidding!

Job winds up getthing double the sheep, camels, oxen, and female donkeys. PLUS, another seven sons and three daughters. And this time, his daughters are included in the family inheritance and ancestry! His daughters are inheritors alongside of their brothers. Everyone in Job’s family was targeted by God’s surprises!

Job was on target, in the right place at the right time. Through his success, and suffering he received the surprises of a loving Heavenly Father, because God is a good God.

Whether you are in success or suffering right now, remain steadfast and see the good and surprising gifts from your Father in heaven. God is good, all the time!

You are in the right place at the right time. Please rest assured. Please be encouraged that God IS at work on your behalf and that a surprise is just around the corner.

Up next week, Elihu – a spokesman. The tender truth-teller.

God with God,

Debbie

A Thanksgiving Primer

The History Files 11.22.21

” Primer – an elementary textbook that serves as an introduction to a subject…”

Oxford Dictionary

Chances are, if I asked you when the first Thanksgiving was, you would refer in some way to the Pilgrims and their guests in the Fall of 1621, when they shared their first harvest in the new world. This is not really the truth, tho’.

That celebration, although they were thankful for their harvest, was not declared to be “Thanksgiving”, or even afterwards set apart as a regular festival for them to celebrate. It was more of a one and done event. Over a hundred and fifty years later, during the colonial revolution, the colonial legislatures often set aside days of prayer to recognize military victories. After Burgoyne’s surrender to the American’s at Saratoga, NY in October of 1777, the Continental Congress suggested a national day to be set aside to recognize the victory.

General George Washing agreed, proclaiming December 18, 1777 the first national thanksgiving day. In the years that followed, other national thanksgiving proclamations were made as well.

Then, on October 3, 1798, now President Washington, set the precedent for America’s National Day of Thanksgiving with His Thanksgiving Proclamation.

1798 Thanksgiving Proclamation

(I can hear Nicolas Cage, from National Treasure saying, “Phew…people just don’t write like this anymore.”)

Washington, the newly elected President of the newly formed United States of America was careful to abide by the newly ratified Constitution of the United Stated and therefore passed this proclamation on to the states, asking them to announce it and observe it. Newspapers published it and thanksgiving celebrations were held.

Washington celebrated that first Thanksgiving by attending a service at St. Paul’s Chapel in NYC and by donating food and beer to imprisoned debtors in the city.

In the years that followed, Presidents John Adams and James Madison also declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.

But it was not until October 3, 1863, during the height of the Civil War, that President Abraham Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Proclamation decreeing the last Thursday in November as America’s National Day of Thanksgiving. Congress folowed suit in 1870 by establishing it.

Harper’s Weekly carried it, and on October 5, printed an art piece by the famous Thomas Nast that illustrated “scenes of a grateful nation.”

Thomas Nast’s art

In many of our modern thanksgiving celebrations and family gatherings, lost are the deepest expressions of humble dependence and gratitude for God’s care, provision, blessings and protection, as found in Washington and Lincoln’s proclamations. Lost is the public humility and utter desperation for The Almighty’s divine providence by our elected officials. Lost is the recognition of our dire hoplessness without God’s intervention in our affairs. Gone is the humble submission to the Creator of the Universe, Giver of Life and it’s many benefits.

In his proclamation, President Washington said,

It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits and humbly to implore his protection and favor.

1798 Thanksgiving Proclamation

It IS our duty, as individuals and as a nation. Not just to be thankful for family, friends, jobs, homes and health; but to give thanks to “our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”

Where would we be without His blessings? Care? Guidence? Help? Strength? Protection? Provision? Life? Redemption? Love?

Where?

These are the elementary tenets of America’s Day of Thanksgiving. May we return to the most basic tenent of expressing our thanks to the Almighty for all He has done for us.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Debbie

Giving Thanks or Showing Gratitude?

Sunday Sermon 11.20.21

Giving thanks and being grateful are both positive and helpful attitudes, and both are generally a result of an event, so what’s the difference?

You may be one who uses grateful and thankful interchangeably, but they are not really the same. Here’s the big difference:

“The difference between grateful and thankful is that by definition grateful is directed out of the person who is feeling it, while thankful is generated inside the person.

Smart Leadership Hut

Put another way, we are grateful for external circumstances. (Often by comparison, too.) This means we need something outside ourself to help us generate gratefulness. Gratefulness needs someone or something else to motivate expression.

Thankfulness on the other hand, can be generated on it’s own, from the inside without external triggers. With thankfulness, we can experience happiness because it comes from within, from an attitude that is full of thanks regardless of circumstances, from a heart not dependent on externals.

When we express thankfulness, we can be in any situation in life and realize that it is what is within us that brings our happiness and satisfaction, not what is outside of us. Our happiness and fulfillment is not dependant on our circumstances, people or places. And for this, we are truly thankful.

But should those circumstances, people and places line up favorably, we can certainly be grateful too.

In their absence, we can choose to be thankful.

Let me illustrate this by sharing two stories.

“The Masai tribe of West Africa have an unusual way of saying thank-you. Translators tell us that when the Masai express thanks, they bow, put their foreheads on the ground, and say, “My head is in the dirt.”

When members of another African tribe want to express their thanks, they sit for a long time in front of the hut of the person who did the favor and literally say, “I sit on the ground before you.”

These Africans understand well what thanksgiving is and why it’s difficult for us: at its core, thanksgiving is an act of humility.” (Story as told by Joel Gregory, in “Fresh Illustrations for Teaching and Preaching”)

Another story is told in the Gospel of Luke:

” Jesus was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance, and lifted their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When Jesus saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus feet, giving him thanks. ” Luke 17:11-17 ESV

This one leper was not content with just his external circumstances being changed when Jesus healed him. Although that seems to have been the case for the other nine. That one leper, was prompted by not only gratitude, but thankfulness. He turned back toward Jesus, and began shouting out loud his praise and thanks to Jesus. He then fell on his face, right at Jesus’ feet, and like the Masai, pretty much said to Jesus, “My head is in the dirt.” Generated not only by gratitude but by a deep and overwhelming heart of thanks, this leper humbled himself, at Jesus feet and expressed his thanks to Him.

Nine I believe were grateful for their healing. They never returned to Jesus or expressed their thanks, though.

One was both grateful and thankful. He was healed, and commended by Jesus for returning with thanks.

We can be like the nine, be like the one or still be carrying around our leprosy.

I trust you will join with the throng in giving thanks during this season.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Debbie

Avoid

Defined by Oxford as “to keep away from or stop oneself from doing.” Merriam-Webster concurs, ” to prevent the occurence or effectiveness of, to refrain from.”

What is it that you avoid? What things do I avoid?

A quick internet search offered these things to avoid:

  • bad company
  • unhealthy food
  • fake friends
  • wasting time
  • abusive fights
  • smoking weed/weeds/drugs

Actually, a pretty good list, in my opinion. What do you think?

Here’s another great list of things to avoid:

  • grabbibg your phone without a goal
  • answering messages on the spot
  • waiting for others to contact you
  • see the negative first
  • buying more than you throw a way
  • not letting silence in
  • and the list continues, but you get the idea

But just for a minute, let’s go micro rather than macro. Micro looks at the small segments, compartments of your life. Lets go there.

In those places, compartments of your life, of your heart, (maybe known only by you and a close friend), what areas are avoided? What rooms are off limits? Which places are are sealed up? Which memories, motives and masks are eluded, evaded and escaped from? What are you avoiding or trying to stop yourself from dealing with?

This morning, in my life, those were the types of questions that were filtering through my mind and heart. What was I avoiding? Was I avoiding anything that needed to be dealt with? Were there issues, items or incidents that needed my attention rather than avoidance?

And here’s the thought bubble, that appeared very cleary over my head and resounded in my heart –

When we avoid God and what He is pointing to in our life,

there is a VOID in our life, and we are left empty, without what we need.

There is so much truth and power in that statement, my friend.

We avoid things in our heart for a miriad of reasons and excuses. No matter the reason, if it is avoided at all, it will indeed leave a void in your heart, that must be filled and healed. If we avoid allowing God into that place (or those places) in our heart, we fill it with things that will never heal it our last. Things like, bitterness, anger, resentment, hatred or even apathy, and isolation, perhaps becoming callous, hard, harsh or cruel. These things fester and inflame all we do. They poison our entire life, outlook, hope and relationships.

It would be wise for us to allow God into those places in our hearts that we have avoided, for He alone can fill the void and heal at the root level any issue we have been avoiding.

Is there a void in your heart that He wants to fill and heal?

Please don’t avoid it.

Cheers to you.

Debbie

He Knows You

Sunday Sermon 11.13.21

Imagine spending three years of your life lovingly devoted to someone. Walking daily with them, eating, sleeping, traveling with them and even having sacrificed your career for them. In your heart you love them and are fully committed to them. “Never in a million years would you ever leave them”, is your declaration.

So sincere we (think) we are. So sure. We (think) that we know our heart and are certain of it’s trustworthyness.

Therein lies the fallacy.

We don’t really know the depth of our heart; it’s hidden caverns, twisted motivations, roots of anger, biterness, resentment, and pride. We don’t see it’s deceit, arrogance, fear, shame or wounds. We don’t really know the ability within us to hurt the one we love, or even abandon them.

the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it? Jeremiah 17:9

Peter, Jesus devoted right hand man, experienced this very conundrum. Having declared that he would NEVER DENY Jesus in Mark 14:29, that, in fact, is exactly what he does. Mark 14:66-72.

But the phrase, found at the end of Peter’s denial is what gripped me,

” And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.

Mark 14:72 CEV

Peter didn’t really know what he was capable of. He didn’t really know what was in his heart, but Jesus did. Jesus knew the good, the bad and the ugly of Peter’s heart, just as He does mine and yours. But here’s the impacting part to me, when Peter remembered what Jesus had foretold about him, he broke down and wept.

You see, realizing how well Jesus knows and loves us is overwhelming and should bring us to tears. When we understand that Jesus knows all of those deepest carverns, twisted roots and dark recesses of our heart, we, too, just may respond as Peter did, with weeping.

But first we must remember.

  • Remember that before He formed you in the womb He knew you. Jeremiah 1:5
  • Remember that He has searched you and knows you. Psalm 139:1
  • Remember that He knows when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
  • Remember that before a word is on your tongue He knows it. Psalm 139:4
  • Remember that He has called you by name. Isaiah 43:1
  • Remember that He knows His own. John 10:14
  • Remember He formed your inward parts and knit you together in your mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13
  • Remember that your frame was not hidden from Him when you were being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths. Psalm 139:15
  • Remember that His eyes saw your unformed body. Psalm 139:16
  • Remember that every one of your days of life are written in His book. Psalm 139:16

All of this remembering is in itself overwhelming, but consider this, as well:

“But this I recall to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every mourning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:21 CEV

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.”

Psalm 139:6

“How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast in the sum of them! Were I to count them, they are more than the sand.”

Psalm 139:17-18

God is LOVE. He keeps no records of wrongs, He is patient with us and demonstrates loving kindness. He bears all things with us, always believes in us, and endures beside us, even in our “denials”. (like Peter) 1 Corinthians 13, 1 John 4:8

THAT my friend, is what causes my eyes to mist over. That kind of love is overwhelming. I am captured by the depth of His love for me, in spite of my dark heart.

I believe THAT is why Peter “broke down and wept.” He remembered just how much Jesus knew about him, all the ugly betrayal that he held in his heart, and yet Jesus still called him. Jesus still told him that he was “the Rock”. Jesus still included him, taught him, drew him close, and loved him.

Let’s remember though, in Mark’s account so far, Peter doesn’t know the end of the story. He doesn’t know what we do about Jesus’ resurrection and appearing to the eleven disciples afterwards, Peter is left remembering and weeping. But not us! We know the end of the story. We know Jesus restored Peter, just as He will us.

I have been moved lately by remembering what God’s word says about His love for me, but also that He knows everything there is to know about me. That is unimaginable! He knows me COMPLETELY, and still loves me! Mindboggling. He loves me so much, He is ever calling me to come near, see Him and be changed. He knows me, my weaknesses, my words and my thoughts, my desires and He loves me. He knows me. He loves me in perpetuity.

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me!”

He knows you, too. Through and through.

Remember that.

Go with God.

Debbie

Celebrating Veterans Day

The History Files

Why do we celebrate Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is a Federal holiday that is celebrated on November 11 of each year.

We say celebrated, but is it really, by most Americans, or do we just gladly accept it as another day off work or school (for some), with little concern as to why?

As of the time of this writing, it is estimated that there are 19 million living American Veterans. This encompasses those who have served in our military forces from WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and The War of Terrorism. Of them, 9% are women, 325,574 are veterans of WWII, 2,500 veterans of D Day, fewer than 300,00 veterans are from Pearl Harbor, 500,000 represent the Korean War and 610,000 served in Vietnam on land, with 164,000 at sea.

WWI
WWII

Veterans Day honors them all. Veterans Day honors all American Veterans living or dead – thanking them all for their honorable service to our country. Memorial Day is the day when we pay special tribute to those who lost their lives in service to our country.

But why November 11?

In 1918, on the 11th month, the 11th day, at the 11th hour, a temporary cease fire was signed between the Allied forces and Germany during WWI. This became known as Armistice Day in 1919, the day the armistice was signed. Even though, the Treaty of Versailles marked the official end of WWI, Armistice Day remained in the public’s mind as the end of WWI.

After WWII and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a day dedicated to American veterans of all wars. It was officially changed in 1954, when President Eisenhower signed it into law. In Great Britian, Canada, France and Austrilia it is called Remberance Day and is celebrated around November 11.

Korean
Vietnam
Gulf War

It is important to note that it is Veterans Day, without an apostrophe in veterans. That is because it is not a day belongs to veterans, it is a day for honoring veterans. (Remember, an apostrophe denotes possession 🙂 )

These veterans are dying. We are loosing them and their stories. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us, the living, who know these vets, to firstly honor them, and not just on November 11. And when possible, to take the time to hear as much of their story as they are willing and able to share. When we visit memorials and monuments let’s be respectful and share their value and stories with those in our sphere of influence.

We are still a great nation and much of that is owed to the brave men and women of our armed forces who willingly served to promote our democracy and freedom. They chose to.

It seems like a no brainer for us to choose to honor them and yes, celebrate our veterans.

Thank you Veterans.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

“Can you hear me know?” “Good!”

Sunday Sermon 11.6.21

For nine years, this question and response became a very popular and effective commercial for Verizon Wireless.

We use our hearing 24 hours a day. Our ears are like antennae that pick up signals from all different directions. Then they process those signals and pass them on to the brain for interpretation and action. When both ears are functioning we have optimal hearing.

Hearing.

Do you think much about what you hear between those 20 and 20,000 Hz? Of course, those important speech frequencies between 500 and 4,000 Hz are important, but what about the others, the whole range of things that you hear?

Even in “The Sounds of Silence”, what do you hear? (cue up Simon & Garfunkle, Disturbed or Pentatonix.) Is there really silence or are we still resonating with what has been heard?

We are cautioned in scripture, to

Pay attention to what you hear: …”

Mark 4:24 CEV

Or as another verson clarifies,

” Be diligent to understand the meaning behind everything you hear…”

Mark 4:24 TPT

I love the urgent call to action in the Greek words use. “Pay attention” indicates, “look out, look at, see. Beware! Have sight, observe, discern and perceive” (Strongs Concordance G#991) While what you “hear”, means, ” give audience to; be noised, be reported. Understand.” (Strongs Concordance G#191)

Jesus is the speaker in the context of this verse and His warning to the disciples (aren’t we His disciples, too) is to “Beware and look out for what you pay attention to, give audience to, the noise of what is reported. Be careful what you understand.”

You see, Jesus knew the power of hearing 24 hours a day. Jesus knew the power of noises and voices bombarding us with signals every minute of the day. Jesus warned His disciples to PAY ATTENTION to what you hear. Jesus knew the importance of hearing.

I have come to believe that is why, the greatest command, (which we often state as love God and love others) actually begins with:

HEAR, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.”

Deuteronomy 6:4

Hear. That is the first priority.

Our ability to love God and others begins with our willingness to listen to God. How we listen to Him is reflected in how we treat others.

“Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. “

Luke 11:28 CEV

What we do and say is contingent on what we hear.

“ The hearing is always found close to the speaking tongue. “

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Even according to reknown physcologists, what we hear triggers the brain to initiate a behavior. In anticipation of a reward, we are motivated to act or respond so that the desired reward will be achieved. Think about that – what we hear TRIGGERS us. What we hear gives us cues (to behave in a certain way). Our behavior is driven by cues and triggers from what we hear.

In the mix of all that we hear, ie. news reports, political outcomes, mandates, employment requirements, housing needs, a spouse or friend’s requests and complaints, doctor’s reports and never ending self talk…. PAY ATTENTION to the triggers, cues.

Also, shift through what you’re hearing to determine if you are hearing God? Can you hear His voice in the mix of your days noises? Do you recognize it, understand it, pay attention to it? Is His voice giving you cues or is another source? Again, in the silence of your own thoughts, are you preceiving and discerning His voice?

Who or where are you getting your cues from?

“The entrance of your words bring light.”

Psalm 119:130 NIV

When we hear and pay attention to His voice, we enjoy walking in light, clarity, and peace. Our path is illuminated and we feel a confident peace in our heart. Apart from hearing His voice we experience uncertainty, wandering and indecisiveness.

Are we hearing His voice or everyone elses? Can we distinguish His voice from others? Or are we just looking to only hear what suits our own way and will? Scripture promises a day when people will have “itchy ears”. That means they will only hear what they want to hear and what stays inside of their own comfort level. (2 Timothy 4:3)

Hearing God’s voice is not only possible, it is the purpose for which you have been created; to walk with Him in a loving, communicative, mutual relationship. He is the Shepherd and we are the sheep, and His sheep hear His voice. John 10:27 CEV

He is speaking, He is sending out His signal, His voice to you. Are you paying attention?

Can you hear Him now? Good!

Go with God,

Debbie

“I Cannot Live Without Books”

Can you name the famous person who made the statement in our title today?

Do you agree or disagree with it?

A few years back, while I was with a group of 8th graders in Washington DC, on tour at the world’s largest library, hanging on a beautiful banner was the quote, “I cannot live without books. Thomas Jefferson.” Walking beside me was one of our kids who wasted no time sharing his strong disagreement, as he loudly and emphatically blurted out, “I CAN!”.

I had chuckle because I knew him and realized how true it was, but in fact, it’s not really funny.

Although the literacy rate in the world increases by 4% every 5 years, I’m not certain the love of reading does. JK Rowling once said, “If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” Today, only 14% of the world’s population remains illiterate. That’s a far cry from Thomas Jefferson’s day, in 1820, when only 12% of people in the world could read.

Books transport us to new worlds but also take us back to important moments. Books help us to develop our vocabulary, reduce stress, prevent cognitive decline, and increase our ability to emphathize. It is said, that reading books helps you to look after your mind and body.

What got me into this book thinking mode was what I did yesterday. After living in our city for over a year, I finally decided to visit our beautiful city library. I thought is was beautiful on the outside and that lured me inside.

my city library
a library

Now, I’ve been a library card carrying reader for years. Geesh, I remember the days of going to the library and checking out every single state book on their shelf, for my 5th graders who were doing their famed state report. And when we moved to this county, I got a new library card that was for the County library system.

After walking around the library yesterday, enjoying all I saw, I decided to get some new reading material. While searching the shelves, I was pondering how many people never darkened the doors of a library and enjoyed this wonderful sense of being surrounded by millions of possible journeys, discoveries and challenges. How many were simply missing out?

As I finished my search and went to the desk to check out, come to find out my previous card was not the card I needed for THIS library, which, as I said, was a city library. Of course, the young man was more than able to get me set up with my new library card for that library.

my new library card and book

There are 116,867 libraries of all kinds in the U.S. According to the American Library Assocociation the four kinds of libraries are:

  1. academic – the ones attached to schools and universities
  2. special – they serve a particular group of people (employees, military, ect.)
  3. public – also called “circulating library” because they are accessable to the public to circulate books. (My county and city libraries fit here)
  4. national – these are specifically established by the government to serve as the preeminent repository of information for the country. The public can’t borrow books here, but they can view books and items in the facility (or online now, too)

Although the United States does not have a national library, like other nations, they do however, have five that are recognized as being national in scope. These include:

  1. The Library of Congress – this is the place where my dear 8th grader made his statement about books
  2. National Agricultural Library
  3. National Library of Education
  4. National Library of Medicine
  5. National Transportation Library

Let me close with some startling facts about the world’s largest library – The Library of Congress, located in Washington D.C.

For nearly 100 years, this library, after being funded by President John Adams, with $5,000, housed it’s collection of 3,000 volumes in the U.S.Capitol. In 1814, the British burned down our Capitol and the White House, and we lost our “national library”. One year later, in 1815 Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books, for $23,950 to rebuild the library collection.

That collection of 6,487 books, was what started our current Library of Congress collection and was the exhibit that I had taken my 8th graders to see.

From that humble beginning of books (which were all owned by Thomas Jefferson, amazing!) the Library of Congress has grown to today’s collection, in which we have:

  • 3 different buildings to house The Library of Congress
  • off site storage in Maryland and Virginia
  • 2.5 million categorized books
  • 74.5 million manuscripts
  • 5.6 million maps
  • 8.2 million items of sheet music
  • 4.2 audio materials
  • 17.3 visual materilas
  • 22,000 items received and processed on a daily basis
  • in 460 different languages
  • the worlds largest law library
  • largest rare book collection
Jefferson reading room

And I could go on. Nearly every thing that is copyrighted is submitted to the Library of Congress for consideration and filing. Not all are kept for posterity but as you can see millions of items are stored, retrieved, viewed, read, and studied in the Library of Congress. Anyone 16 years of age can apply for a Reader Identification Card, which is free and renewable every 2 years. With it, you can enjoy researching in anyone of the 21 reading rooms. Or, without one, as I do, using the online resources that are now available.

Library of Congress

Should you find yourself in Washington DC, you undoubtely will visit the Capitol and across the street the Supreme Court. But don’t miss the Library of Congress, which is also just across the street from the Capitol and next to the Supreme Court.

they are walking distance apart

Books are important to advancing societies and reading those books is a mark of that population’s education.

Today, with digital and audio services for books available, the closest most people get to actual books is in the Starbucks at Barns and Noble. But what if, the internet died? What if the powergrid collapsed? What if all you had to read was in your house? How would you learn, find out things, experience new places and explore old ones?

Books, my friend.

How’s your library? Where’s your library card? What’s the last book you read?

“We cannot live without books”, replied the teacher to the 8th grader.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

The Best Defense

Sunday Sermon 10.30.21

Beginning the season, the August defensive rankings of the NFL listed the LA Ram’s with the best defense, thanks mostly to our main man, Aaron Donald. (He is a beast of a defender!) But now, as of September’s end, the rankings list the Arizona Cardinals as the top defensive team.

Playing the “Big D” has alaways been coaches, (and fans) battle cry.

” Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.”

Bear Bryant

Even that great philosopher, Mister Miagi, from the movie, “Karate Kid” prioritized teaching Daniel defensive moves, although Daniel thought paining a fence, scrubbing the deck, and waxing the car were useless chores. It was only when Miaggi sternly told Daniel, “I HAVE been teaching you karate! Defend yourself!” Miaggi then thrust his arm at Daniel, and using the technique he learned from his chores Daniel defends himself. Another blow, and yet another blow from Miaggi and Daniel utilizes the skills he practiced in those other chores to defend himself too. He had learned karate moves, Miaggi had been teaching him to defend himself all along.

How’s your defense? Your “Big D”?

By that I mean, are you solid in defense of your values, views, standards, and even worldview? Can you defend them rationally, intellectually, soundly and based on facts? How ‘bout your faith?

You see, I am not responsible for defending your viwes, or another’s views, but I am responsible for defending mine. If I can’t, then I have some homework to do. Especially as a Christian living in these days, it is imperative that I be able to defend my Christian worldview with facts coupled with the story of my life experiences.

In the ancient Greek legal system, the prosecution delivered the “kategoria”, the accusation or charge and the defendant replied with an “apologia”, the defence. It was a formal speech to reply to and rebut the charges. (Remember Socrates Apologia defense from Plato’s Apology?)

This Greek word, “apologia” is the basis of our word “apologetics”. Oxford defines it this way,

“Apologetics – reasoned arguements on writings in justification of someone or something.”

Apologetics has become a religious discipline of defending doctrines through systemic arguements and discourse. But more importantly, for you and me, it is our ability to reasonalbly and intellectually support and defend our position in Christian faith, with facts and rational thought.

When I was young, I heard said, “If you were on trail for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” It startled me and caused me to become more serious about my faith.

With that too came the idea- could I provide evidence for my faith? Was my faith in fact based on evidence or was it sort of “blind faith”? My friend, I am 100% against the idea of blind faith. You see, my faith, is in no way blind. My faith is based on fact. That fact, those collections of facts are what has become my defense. My best defense, in fact.

Here’s the deal. Scripture tells us –

” … in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…”

1 Peter 3:15 ESV

This word, defense, is that Greek word “apologia”. You see, we are to be ready, as in a court of law, to answer, defend, even rebut charges and questions that we are asked. Again I say, I am responsible for defending my views, answering the charge, being the DEFENDant.

Remember too, this is a formal speech. That means it is premeditated, planned out, ascribed to in advance, and held on paper (as it were) to present when asked for.

I think that is why Jesus said,

” Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer for I will give you a mouth and wisdom…”

Luke 21:14

We think Jesus was telling his disciples not to think about what they would say when charged. But that isn’t quite the meaning here. What He was telling them, was to settle in their minds BEFOREHAND how they would answer. Prepare their speech in advance. Have their defense prepared and settled and then, when asked, speak it with His wisdom and help.

We see the same thing in the life of the Apostle Paul. His life was spent preparing his defense of the gospel, preaching the defense of the gospel. It was a speech he had memorized and was thoroughly convinced of, he had facts, reason, intellect, and BAM – his defense.

” Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer each person.”

Colossians 4:6 ESV

These are the days when we must know how to answer those who ask. We must be prepared in advance. Settle it ahead of time. So that means study, prayer, filtering, and finally settling on our defense. Memorizing it, or at the very least have it so prayed into our hearts, that the Holy Spirit will call it forth when needed.

If you really want to be prepared, then I offer you one old school and one new school tool.

In the days of my youth, there was a hot book that we digested and used in our defense of the gospel. It is by Josh McDowell and called, “Evidence That Demands a Verdict“. It is still available, but is new and expanded, but called, “The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict.”

Last night, I finished reading a block buster book for this generation, of the same caliber. It is by J. Warner Wallace, and is called, “Person of Interest“. This book rocked my world! Talk about preparing you with facts, reason, and evidence for being a believer????? THIS BOOK IS A MUST READ. I kid you not. If you are a believer, you need to read it. If you are a skeptic, you need to read it. I promise you, you will not walk away from your faith (or lack of it) the same. (It is an easy read, I did it in just 3 sittings, over a 24 hour period.)

We are facing days of great questionings, uncertainties and rampant misinformation. How well we know and are able to defend our faith will rock the world – IF WE ARE PREPARED TO GIVE A DEFENSE for the hope that lies within us.

May WE be the ones who turn the world right side up again, because we have the best defense.

Go with God,

Debbie

Our Brains Hate Waiting

Sunday Sermon 10.23.21

our impatient brain

Whether it’s waiting in traffic, standing in line, waiting for a delivery, report or answer, psychologists tell us our brain hates waiting, so we speed up everything else.

Dr. Richard Larsen, professor at MIT explains, “Under pressure, our brains stretch time”. In stress, things tend to seemingly slow down but we expect things to happen quickly. That, tends to make us impatient, and we often become angry. It is that anger, that makes it seem like it takes forever.

“How people wait (in line) matters more than the duration of the wait”, he says. Distraction helps though. Notice if you will the TV screens at the gas stations, the end caps along check out lines filled with goodies for you to consider, or how about the master of distractions (entertainment) in line – DISNEY.

the line environment at Disneyland’s Indiana Jones

The “psychology of waiting” studies suggest these facts: (I didn’t even know there was such a “psychology”)

  • uncertain waits feel longer than finite ones
  • unexplained waits feel longer than explained waits
  • unoccupied time feels longer
  • unfair waits are longer than equitable waits

Another consideration when it comes to our brain and waiting, is the idea that whoever makes others wait has the power over them.

As humans, we want to take hold of the reigns and take control, accomplish it on our own effort. Get it done, move on. Waiting is not something we do easily and there is evidence that we can “blame our brain”. (She said sarcastically)

My question tho’ is, what happens in the delay? What do we do in that wait? What do we allow? Remember, “how we wait matters more than the duration of the wait.”

Here’s a story for you to ponder.

There once was a group of over 500,000 people, who were given instructions by their leader to wait at this specific location for his return. He was going to the top of the mountain with his assistant, but he would be back. They were to wait at the bottom of the hill for him.

So, wait they did. Day 1, day 2, day 3. Week 1, week 2, week 3. They were waiting. They were also getting wrestless, impatient and angry. Their brain was not having this waiting.

Finally, at week 5, they had had enough! They were feeling the pressure of their uncertain wait. Their unexplained and unoccupied wait was totally unfair and they were going to take things into their own hands. No one was gonna control them, they were gonna do something about this.

Again, my friend, it’s what we do in the wait that may matter most. Never mind what our brain is telling us, the choices we make in the delay are vital.

So, what did they do? Here’s the account…

” When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain they gathered themselves together… said to Aaron … make us gods… we don’t know what’s happened to Moses…”

Exodus 32:1 ESV

In their impatience and anger, they took matters into their own hands. Unfortunately, Aaron, the second in command followed their lead. From their 5 week waiting room they were erupting with a plan of their own, they were done waiting.

Five weeks may or may not seem like a long waiting period to you, but look at what this text says,

” They have turned aside aside quickly...”

Exodus 32:7 ESV

In the big picture, their 5 week wait was a “quick” turn around. To them the wait was an eternity, but in the big scheme of things, it was a quick, short wait. Oh, for perspective, right?

In fact, to them it seem liked nothing was happening down here. They were stuck in the dry ole desert, at the bottom of a gigantic mountain, waiting for Moses to hike back down. What, for goodness sake was taking so long? They were unable to find any sort of distraction to take their mind off of the 5 week wait from hell.

As the story goes, from their impatient and raging wating, came a golden calf, fashioned from the rings and jewelry donated by the frustrated mob, by the hands of someone who should have known better. In fact, they all should have known better. But their brains were blazing and they were defeated in the delay. They had turned aside quickly from the instructions to wait.

One last point to make about this group. It was their view that nothing was happening. Here they were, 40 days later, and nothing had changed, nothing was different and of course that meant nothing was happening.

But not so fast. In fact, tucked away on this account is this enormously important phrase,

“… the tablets were the work of God, written by the finger of God…”

Exodus 32:16; 31:18 ESV

This is phenomenal! While they thought nothing was happening, God was at work. His finger was intricately involved. They couldn’t see Him working, didn’t believe He was working, and therefore decided to work themselves.

Oh, that lie, shouted from our brain, “YOU have to do something”, it screams. “NOTHING IS HAPPENING, you are stuck here waiting, and God is no where to be found.” Oh, that brain of ours…

All along, something was happening. Something they had no idea about, something so big their puny lil’ mind could never fathom. God was writing with His finger, words for them. God was at work for them. God was the power in control and they could trust Him in the wait.

And that is precisely the key. God was in control and they could trust Him in the wait. But how and why didn’t they?

What we do in the delays can defeat us (like it did them, they were judged with a plague & 3,000 people died by the sword), but it doesn’t have to, because learning to wait on the Lord and trust Him is at issue.

To “wait” for or on the Lord is a phrase that is used over 106 times in the Old Testament. It is an active verb not just sitting and impatiently tapping our fingers on the desk in a frustrated huff for something to happen. In fact, here’s the meaning:

“The Hebrew word, to “wait”, H6960 means – to bind together by twisting. To expect; the straining of the mind in a certain direction with an expectant attitude. “

Strong’s Concordance and Lexicon

Here’s what that looks like in my life.

When I find myself waiting for things to change in my life or family or nation, the thing I must choose to do is place my focus on God, His promises, His Word, and not be overcome by the cloud of doubt, impatience, anger or taking matters into my own hands. For me, I must choose to lean into Him, strain through the hard, seemingly inactive circumstance, and trust with confidence that He IS at work, even if I cannot see it. It is a mental and emotional battle I can and must choose.

My waiting in the delay is really about learning to wait in eager expectation of a positive result because the Lord is the one I trust and He has the power. Because He does have the power over me and my circumstances, and He loves me and has a plan for my life, I can trust Him completely.

King David knew this truth and lived this truth quite well.

” Wait on the Lord, and keep His way…”

Psalm 37:34 KJV

Isaiah and the prophets, too told us to wait on the Lord:

” … but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31 ESV

As I learn to twist my will with His will in the waiting, I find renewed strength, the ability to fly above the problems, endurance to keep on running and faith to walk each day trusting Him.

Again I say, it is what we do in the waiting that determines our victory or defeat. We can learn to wait and trust in Him or we can, in unbelief make idols.

We are not meant to be idle as we wait for things to change for us. We are meant to be actively twisting our will to His and believing in His outcomes, purposes and plans. As we wait, we are actually waiting on Him.

Even though our brains hate waiting, may we continue shaping them to wait on the Lord in spite of what we see or how long the delay.

Go with God.

Debbie

Still Enough to Hear

In Directions, James Hamilton writes:

Before refrigerators, people used ice houses to preserve their food. Ice houses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In the winter, when streams and lakes were frozen, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the ice houses, and covered with sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer.

an ice house

One man lost a valuable watch while working in an ice house. He searched diligently for it, carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile. A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the ice house during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch.

Amazed, the men asked him how he found it.

“I closed the door,” the boy replied, “lay down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”

Often the question is not whether God is speaking, but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear.

Cheers to your listening,

Debbie

Excerpt taken from Phillip Gunter/Fresh Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching

In Days When God Visits Men

Sunday Sermon 10.16.21

The Finger of God

There will be those who say that God no longer visits men as He did in days of old, but I am not one of them. The God I serve is the great I AM, which means that He is in every moment that we live. He is not confined to the pages of the Bible or the times that they reflect. These too, are the days when God is visiting (and wanting to visit) man(kind).

It is my opinion that what lies ahead for us, and I mean imminent, is a powerful, thurderous, outpouring of the presence of God on men and women. His presence brings release, revelation, fear, awe, miracles, judgment, wonder, and so much more. Could it be possible that the Great I AM would again visit people on Earth?

Could we see Him again like this –

” Now when the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightening and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled and they stood afar off and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die. Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin. Then the people stood afar off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.”

Exodus 20:18-21 ESV
Mount Sinai

It is possible. But what is also possible is that this account has in it some truths for us. Let’s look into them.

We can say without a shadow of a doubt and support it with scripture, that there is nothing more powerful than the presence of God. Scripture is full of ways that His presence is demonstrated, including the description from Exodus 20. We read of thunder, lightening, splitting of cedars and seas, winds of fury, fainted men and women, fallen armies, foes defeated, miracle provisions, and overwhelming awe. People respond to such power by falling down, bowing down, covering their mouth, and crying out for mercy and forgiveness.

The first truth for us to hold onto from this is – God’s presence is real and powerful and we each must come before Him. None will be excluded.

The second truth to chew on is this – God’s presence brings fear. And if we look more closely at Exodus, we see His presence is intended to bring a level of fear to us in order to motivate us to not sin. When we have the proper “fear of the Lord”, we are gripped by it in a respectful and honoring way, so as to desire to please Him, and that we can demonstrate by choosing to not sin.

Scripture is full of what “the fear of the Lord” produces in us and it is all pleasant, peaceful, amd productive.

But there are those, who are like the guys in Exodus 20, who, out of fear choose stand afar off from God. They really have no desire to get close to that thunderous God, they are afraid of Him, and step away from Him, rather that toward Him like Moses did. They fear His voice, don’t want to hear it and don’t want to enter into God’s presence.

This then, is the third lesson. Out of fear, we can choose to step closer to God’s presence or away from God’s presence. And in these days, I am hearing that call… Step closer to His presence, closer to Him, and allow His presence to work in you all that pleases Him. This is a process of constant surrendering to His presence, but in doing so, in choosing to be with God, we are changed. The fear of the Lord does motivate us to live a life that pleases Him. And, by the way – it is a life of abundant joy, provision, happiness and strength. It is NOT burdensome or even close to boring!

Our final lesson from the account is this.

God is looking for more Moses-type people. By that I mean, those who willing choose to move to the place where God is. Those who intentionally mark their steps toward God and not away from Him. Those whose delight it is to be in His presence, be close to Him and hear what He has to say. Those who are not frightened to come near to this powerful God, because they know Him personally to be loving, just, kind, compassionate, as well as powerful, intimidating and holy. God is calling to those who will as a magnet, be drawn to where God is.

Moses with God

Although the book of Exodus was written in 1440 BC, in it we can find plentiful truths that have weight and significance for today. We can still learn from it and we can still be visited by a powerful God in a very personal way.

That Great I Am, who consumed in fire and smoke that mountain in Sinai where Moses met Him, is the same today. He is calling for us to face our fears and come to Him, admitting our sin, yielding it to Him, and allowing His passionate love to consume us and all of our fear. He is calling us to step near Him. He is drawing us to come closer and trust His powerful, lifechanging fire.

In these days, when God visits men, what will you do?

God with God,

Debbie

The Illusion of Truth

Perhaps you have heard of this tendency, or perhaps it is more easily recognizable because you have lived it. It is rooted in the neuroscience behind the power of our words and basically says,

” any word we hear, read or speak daily has more truth to us… we don’t care if it is true or false, we believe it.”

Icytales.com “The Power of Words”

Neruoscience supports the power of words, both positive and negative.

Researchers, while monitoring brain responses to auditory and imagined negative words, discovered painful or negative words increase IMP (Implicit Processing). What that means is, negative words release stress and anxiety inducing hormones in subjects. Imagine that now, on a daily basis and its affects upon you, me, us. Those negative words produce not only anxiety and stress in me, but also in the way I see my world. They have built for me the lens through which I see people, events and my world.

” Positive and negative words affect us on a deep psychological level and have significant impact on the outcome of our lives.”

“The Neuroscience Behind Words” – Business Relationship Management Institute

But positive words have effects too, positive effects!

” A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.”

Dr. Andrew Newberg- “Words Can Change Your Brain”

Dr. Newberg states that exercising positive thoughts can quite literally change one’s reality.

In fact, those positive words and ideas produce not just an illusion of truth, but a positive view of ourselves; and a positive view of ourselves, trains our brain to see good in others, because over time, our brain starts to change. (Dr. Newberg)

There is power in repetition. The more we read, speak or listen to a thing or idea, the more it controls us. Our brain uses repetitive words and phrases to search for meaning and make connections for us. That’s why –

” A repeated weak message is more powerful than a strong message heard only once.”

One single, repeated message can change your mind! (and life)

I know you beleive me. Look into your life and the words that have bombarded you. Look at their affects. Whether it be from a parent, teacher, friend, spouse, pastor…whether it be from the news, government, or CDC. ONE SINGLE, REPEATED MESSAGE CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND.

Words build present and future, but our thoughts are what become our words. That’s why I would like to challenge you to consider your thoughts. Because by exercising consistent, positive thoughts and speech, we change and how we see the world changes.

Therefore, I am calling on you to be intententional about what words you are reading, listening to and speaking. Turn off, shut out, and stop the negative words that have controlled your life. Now is the time. You can do it.

But then, your focus must be shifted to positive words and energy. Here’s a suggestion.

Write these 5 word pairs on a 3×5 card, or post-it. Heck, use several and make more than one. Then place these cards where ever you spend the most time. At your desk, on the bathroom mirror, on the car dash, near the remote control or game controller. Wherever you need to see these positive words repeatedly.

  1. Authentic and Real
  2. Honorable and Admirable
  3. Beautiful and Respectful
  4. Pure and Holy
  5. Merciful and Kind

THESE are the words and thoughts that can change your mind, your outlook and world. These repeated messages will cange the way you see yourself and others. By focusing on the positive, the good, real, honorable, beautiful, pure and kind, we will begin to believe those things. It won’t be an illusion. It is truth.

The influences in our society are repeating ideas and words that are becoming reality to some of us. What a tradegy.

But we hold between our ears the world’s most powerful computer with the ability to reframe reality. Words predict behavior. Words become thoughts. Thoughts become actions. Actions become habits.

Let’s take the first steps to begin retraining our brain – away from the negative, ugly and destructive and turning to the positive, beautiful, and hopefilled.

Now, go get those cards or post-its and start that list. 🙂 Today, a new, repeated message begins, because we are thinking on these things, speaking these things, and watching only these types of things. We are shutting out and turning off all other negative words, ideas and influences. We are choosing to focus on those things that are:

  1. Authentic and Real
  2. Honorable and Admirable
  3. Beautiful and Respectful
  4. Pure and Holy
  5. Merciful and Kind

This is no illusion of truth, this is the truth.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

Nestled Under the Power Lines

Sunday Sermon 10.9.21

I’d like to give you a visual metaphor that I hope will stay with you as a reminder each time you see these.

power lines

Powerlines of all shapes and sizes are scattered throughout the landscape of your life. Have you given much attention to them? Typically they only require our attention when they are not standing as they should, but rather, have been damaged in some way or their line has beed damaged, right?

Those electrical cables suspended between towers or poles provide energy to homes, businesses and everything needing power. They are power lines, they carry power and operate at voltages above 765,000 volts between conductors. That’s alot of power available, alot of power that you and yours are nestled under.

In these lines and supports we have a helpful, spiritual reminder of the power that is always over our heads and avaliable to us. Here’s what I mean –

Those lines represent the Omnipotence of our fearful and loving God, that is always hanging just above our heads. Here’s the meaning of His power, of His “dunamis” that is available to us:

” Dunamis = Strentgh, ability. Inherent power residing in a thing. Power for miracles, moral power, excellence of soul, influence, resources and resting on armies, forces and hosts.”

Strongs G #1411

His power lines are always energized, charged and flowing at full capacity. His power is not low voltage, high voltage or even ultra high voltage. His power created the power and energy in our sun, and it’s temperature is 10,000 degrees F at the surface, and millions of degrees F in the center. His power put those crazy atoms and their electrons orbiting with their energy in every single thing known to man.

Matthew 6:13- … yours is the power, oh Lord

Mark 12:24 – men don’t know the power of God

Luke 4:35 – the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary

Luke 9:1 – Jesus gives us power and authority over all devils and diseases

Luke 10:19 – we have power to tread on serpents

Acts 3:12 – it’s not by might… but by the power of the Spirit

Romans 1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel… it is the power of God

Friend, you are nestled under the power lines of God. They are surrounding you. Everywhere you look or find yourself, you will see His power lines. They are over your head and so, so close. (Unless, of course, you are living in a place without electricity, then you won’t see the power lines, but the power will still be there for you.)

But notice please, that those power lines, in order for them to be effective, are supported by structures. Each structure is designed to not only carry the load imposed upon it, but also withstand the elements.

Let’s look at the structure of these two poles first.

These two poles, supporting the power lines can respesent the two pillars needed in our life of:

  1. Prayer – prayer has great power, James 5:16 tell us, and our prayer life supports the power of God in our life. Without the foundation of prayer, our power is not energized.
  2. The Word – His Word is living and active, sharp and powerful. When it is hidden in our hearts and we live by it, the power of God flows in and through us, as does His power. Hebrews 4:12; Psalms 119:9

Our personal prayer life and the time we spend reading, listening to and studying the Bible are the supports in our life we must have in order to experience the fullness of the power of God.

There’s another type of structure that supports these power lines tho’. It is called the tower.

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe.”

Proverbs 18:10
you can stand under these towers

Jesus is our tower of strength. The Lord, Almighty, is where I run for strength, refreshing, renewal, hope, peace, and happiness. And THAT, dear reader, is the support I must have, to expereince His power in my life. The tower that supports my power is Jesus, and His name alone. There is no other name under heaven….

So let’s put it together,

God’s power for the miraculous, for moral rightness, for influence, healings, excellence and even the release of angel armies is available to us, always. And what sustains, supports, and releases that power is our personal prayer life, bible reading, and finding our refuge in His name.

You see, my friend, you are nestled under His power lines, but it is time for that power to flow in your life and be shared with those around you. The power is there, available and sufficient for any need that you or those near you may face. Jesus is omnipotent, and you are connected to Him. Let His power flow through you.

How then, are your support structures?

Your prayer life? Your personal reading of the Word? Finding your refuge in Him and not other sources or influences in your life?

I pray that everytime you look around and see power poles and power lines, that the Holy Spirit will remind you of these ideas and encourage you to tap into God’s power, allowing Him to flow through you, rather than just be nestled under the powerlines.

Go with God,

Debbie

A Lesson From the Birds

Last evening I was sitting on the patio just before sunset, when my vision was filled with hundreds of birds flying overhead, flocked together, and headed the same Southward direction. This was not the first time I have noticed these fancy fliers.

At our previous house, about 8 miles away from here, and 2-3 years ago, is when I first noticed these flocks, seemingly following the sunset. I found that I could darn near set my watch by them, 6:30 PM, October – March. It was then that my curiosity was stirred, but it piqued today, as I gave way to study for an explaination.

Why do they do this? Where are they going? What allows them to do so in such a scheduled way? How does such a large group of birds come together and head the same direction – happily chatting along the way, I might add.

They look something like this, except thousands fly overhead… they just keep coming and chatting. They don’t usually swarm and do fancy manuvers until they are over their roosting spot. My home, isn’t their roosting spot. So, all I see is bunches of squacking birds in the sky.

This is called a “crow murmuration”.

What’s happening is:

  1. The birds are returning to their roosting site. They leave in the morning to feed, and return in the evening. Their roosting and feeding spots can be far from each other.
  2. They fly in circular patterns to confuse predators, but actually their sheer size alone connfuses predators. Hence, this is literally called, “The confusion effect”.
  3. They are flying to find their roosting spot and warmth during the cold winter nights.

These murmurations can number from 100’s to 1,000’s of birds, all flying at sunset.

During these frenzied flight patterns some pretty cool things are actually happening. The birds are exchanging information on feeding sites that they found during the day. But some are making their territorial mating calls – telling their partner where they are. Scientists tell us that birds communicate more intensively during sunrise and sunset. And, they are loud and noisey too!

Crazy, smart and loud birds, right?

How do they know where to go? And what about those birds that migrate 1,000’s of miles, non-stop? How do they do it and know their course? The smart ones, who study such things, tell us that these birds can detect the energy of the Earth’s magnetic field. Built within them, is some sort of navigational compass that helps them to travel long distances.

I remember teaching Life Science years ago, at the middle school level and teaching about the magnetic particles, thought to be in the birds beak. These particles provided a navigational map used in conjunction with the Earth’s magnetic field that kept them on course. These tiny particles are so small, the magnetic pieces in the bird haven’t even been located yet. Scientists aren’t sure where they are.

But the most recent studies tell us that there are proteins in the birds eyes that allow them to visualize magnetic fields. And so, their sense of direction is associated with this field. There is even some research to suggest there may be parts of the birds inner ear that picks up on the currents of magnetism in the Earth’s atmosphere.

So, is the bird equipped with what it needs to navigate in it’s nose, eyes, or ears? We really don’t know for sure.

You know what else we don’t know? We don’t know how their brain processes all this. Scientists don’t know the part of their brain that handles this process and they don’t know how it actually processes these signals which are translated into directions for the birdie. The area of the brain where magnetic directional information is processed is still not clear.

Even the homing ability of the homing pigeon is based on the “map and compass” model – which detects Earth’s magnetic field. That smart lil bird has served as messengers to deliver communication, signals and even compete in long distance races. They too, have an inate homing ability that most often allows it to return to it’s nest, using, you got it, magnetoreception.

So, whether it be in the ophthalmic nerve in the upper beak, a protein in the eye, or a current buzzing in it’s ear, these birds have been created with a device within them, to bring them home, that science does not understand.

Why would we think we are any less than these birds?

“He has set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiates 3:11

We too, have been created with a device within us, to bring us home, that science does not understand.

We would be wise to learn this lesson from the birds.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

Sunday Sermon 10.2.21

This is the classic line, spoken (yelled more like it) by Tom Hanks, in the role of the coach of an all ladies baseball team, the Rockford Peaches. You’ll remember, Evelyn had made a bad throw and takes the loud and very emotional correction of Coach Jimmy when arriving back on the sidelines, and in front of everyone. This, of course, breaks her and she starts crying. The Coach, unable to process her feelings expressed in liquid words then quips, “There’s no crying in baseball.”

Doesn’t she know the rules? How can she cry? That’s not allowed. No matter the crushing feelings, there’s no crying allowed. Every tear, whether liquid words or not, must be stuffed, capped, controlled and shut down. That’s how you play the game!

Well, let’s step back from that great movie of 1992, “A League of Their Own”, and ask, is that how we play the game? Are those the rules that we are trying to live by?

  • no crying allowed
  • stuff those emotions
  • cap those feelings
  • control that pain
  • shut down that sensitivity
  • hide your soul
  • protect yourself

I recently attended a study that challenged those “rules” afresh for me. In that study, Christina said,

“Emotions are like children. We don’t lock them in the trunk and we don’t let them drive.”

Christina at OasisOC

She went on to include these statements…

” Feelings buried alive will never die” and “You have to feel it to heal it.”

I am telling you, these truths have rocked my world recently. They have challenged the lies and rules that have crept into my thinking that say, “Just suck it up”, “It’ll get better”, “Grow up”, “Take control”, “That’s not spiritual” and so on.

You see, our emotions are God-given. He has them, too. He gave them to us. If we lock them in the trunk and ignore their screaming, we are ignoring what He is saying to us. We are limiting Him. But neither do we allow them to drive our life. Somewhere there is a balance. Somewhere the rules have got to change.

This week, after setting out a while back to study the Psalms again, I had to press the pause button on that study, only a third of the way through the book. Why? There were waaaaaaaaay too many emotions and feelings being shared and I was kinda feeling overwhelmed. David and the other writers were sharing so raw and real, I was having trouble processing it all.

Look at some of these statements –

  • I was in distress
  • can you hear my groaning?
  • their words are unreliable
  • smooth talking deceivers
  • my eyes of faith won’t focus anymore
  • please deal with me gently
  • they give birth to lies
  • Lord, you seem so far away
  • don’t forget me
  • why have you hidden yourself
  • everyone lies, everyone flatters. everyone deceives. Nothing but empty talk, smooth talk and double talk. Words are weapons, twisted tongues, lying lips, high minded talk THIS IS JUST 1 PSALM, PSALM 12

Folks, these phrases come directly from the first 12 Psalms. (And there are 150 of them!)

Here too, is a short list of other emotions that we see in the Psalms.

  • joy
  • fear
  • anxiety
  • harm
  • impatience
  • sorrow
  • depression
  • anger
  • guilt
  • lonliness
  • brokenhearted
  • helplessness
  • betrayal
  • sadness
  • frustration

We see clearly raw and ugly emotions expressed and not covered up or locked in the trunk of these writers. What we can learn from them is that our emotions and expression of them comes as no surprise to God nor do they carry judgment or shame from Him. They are our emotions, and it is for us to process them in His truth and mercy and not allow them to be stuffed.

Those emotions are like a check engine light in our cars. We need to discover the issue that is causing the light to come on. Not simply seek to ignore the light. Damage will ensue should we not find out why that emotion is lighting us up. (Thanks again to Christina for this picture)

Jesus is taking us down the path of alignment. He wants our head and our heart to line up. That means our heart must be connected not detatched from feelings and emotions. Therapists call it being “affected”. Allowing yourself to be affected brings your head and heart into agreement.

” I’ve wanted my words and my ways to always agree.”

David, in Psalms17:3

In these days, so many of us are dealing with feelings that are just plain overwhelming and the “rules” that have been engrained into us about the expression of those feelings is becoming unmanagable as well. Well, guess what… who made those rules and why are we playing by them?

We are made for so much more! You were made for authentic, whole, and perfectly aligned body, soul and spirit. But that does not come from playing by the “throw the kids in the trunk” philosophy. Learning to allow the kids/emotions into our car/life and seated in their rightful place is a lasting work that only God, our designer can help us with.

Our emotional God wants to heal in us the cause of that emotion, the actual issue lighting up the check engine button. Why we tend to feel that way, why we respond that way. He wants to take our hand and with us look at it, see it in His truth, and walk away from it free and embraced by His love, peace and purpose.

In our heart is the secret of it all. In our heart lie the secret issues that have led us to believe we cannot express or be free from certain feelings. Buried in our heart are the lies of our shame, fear, lonliness, betrayal and hurt. His truth must shine there and realign our feelings to His truth.

Your Heavenly Father wants you to be healed, whole, and live in the truth of His love. That means being emotional but Spirit led. That means recognizing and admiting those feelings but not letting them drive your life.

Today, you are one conversation with God away from freedom and authenticity, alignment of Spirit and soul. He cares for you, feels for you, longs to see you happy and free, not stiffled or shut down. Please don’t bottle things up anymore. Have that conversation with Him.

And one more thing, there can be crying anywhere your liquid words need expression, even in baseball.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

What Are the Odds?

I have been to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and our local Pechanga Resort Casino, but have never considered the liklihood of my winning big to be motivation enough for me to actually play the odds at any machine or table. I’m a square, I guess, I’ve never even purchased a lottery ticket either. Not like my brother-in-law who is a VIP winner or my sister who generally does pretty good. Guess it’s not in my DNA.

And on that topic of DNA, have you ever seriously considered the actual odds of you being born? Let’s talk about odds.

coconut falling from tree

What are the odds of you being struck dead by a falling coconut? Consider – that hard ole shell of a fruit is about 3 pounds, and falling from say a 35 foot tree. That means it will reach a speed of 49 mph in it’s descent. When it hits you, it is carrying a metric ton of force – that means you will die on the spot. They do kill 150 people worldwide in a year according to a 2002 study.

The odds: 1 in 250 million

4 leaf clover

How ’bout your odds of finding a 4 leaf clover, or even that rare 5 leaf clover?

The odds: 4 leaf = 1 in 10,000; 5 leaf = 1 in 1,000,000

that 1 struck by lightening

What are the odds of you being struck by lightening?

Odds: 1 in 500,000

All of these demonstrate crazy odds of happening and yet they happen. Yes, rarely, but they do happen and we have the statistics (and photos) to support them.

Well, back to that DNA related question we asked earlier.

What are the odds of you being born?

Here are the things that must be considered in order to calculate those odds.

  1. The probability of your parents meeting – we could spend time here with hypotheticals, but we know our own parents’ stories. So I will just give you the numbers according to the mathematicians. The odds : 1 in 20,000
  2. Then, the chances that they developed some type of relationship, enough for offspring to result. The odds: 1 in 2,000
  3. Next, 1 egg and 1 sperm getting together. A woman possesses 100,000 viable eggs and a man 12 trillion sperm. Considering only childbearing years that makes The odds: 1 in 400 quadtrillion
  4. But we are not done yet. All of your ancestors had to live long enough to reproduce through the generations. That means, accroding to scientists through 150,000 generations!
  5. Each of your ancestors had to be exactly who they were (through the exact same odds making gauntlet) in order to provide the DNA for you to be you. The right sperm and egg meeting for 150,000 generations of reproduction – that means one in 400 quadtrillion times 150,000 generations. The odds: 10 with 2,640,000 zeros!

Now, my precious reader, the odds of all of those steps happening, and you being born are

The odds: 1 in 400 trillion.

Dr. Ali Binazir describes it this way:

“Imagine a city of 2.5 million people (San Diego for example) getting together and each of them rolling a trillion sided dice, and all rolling the same, exact number – say 555,343,279,001!”

Dr. Ali Binzazir – Huffpost.com

Talk about the odds! Whaaaat? How could that be even fathonable?!

Let’s bring it back to you, now. The odds of you being born are what we are talking about. You.

Talk about overcoming the odds. Talk about destiny. Talk about purpose. Talk about value.

You were not an accident. You were an on purpose. Now be encouraged to find and live out that purpose.

You’ve already overcome the worst odds.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

The Adam’s Family

Sunday Sermon 9.25.21

Family is our topic today, so let’s start off differently, shall we? Play along with me…test your knowledge of some of the top 20 TV families. What’s the TV show called?

  1. # 20 – A cartoon family about the Griffins.
  2. # 19 – This real life family is of mom, dad and their 8 kids.
  3. # 12 – The Bundy’s sought to bring humor to married life.
  4. # 10 – Yet another cartoon family, this time with a snarky protagonist.
  5. # 8 – A rich family raising a nephew.
  6. #5 – Who didn’t love these adorable twins?
  7. # 2 – This became one of the first blended famillies on TV.
  8. #1 – The Arnold’s showed us a slice of down home wonder in a young boys family and life.

If you want to see how you did, scroll on down to the bottom where I’ve listed these TV shows.

There is another family, (of course, many other families) portrayed on TV that I want to mention – The Addam’s Family. Do you remember it? It was a TV series from 1964-1966, then again in 1973, and 1992-1993. This family was based on a fictional household created by American cartoonist – Charles Addams in 1938.

It’s members were Gomez and Morticia, famously in love, bizzar and even frightening to their neighbors. Their kids were Wednesday and Pugsley, and then there were the close family members, Uncle Fester and Grandmama. Let’s not forget the butler, Lurch, or Thing (that disembodied hand), cousin Itt, or the pets – Aristotle (octopus) and Kitty Kat (the lion).

Of this famed family, it is said, “Their influence on society ranks with that of the Kennedy’s and Roosevelts”. (Glamour Magazine)

“Their house (on Cemetery Ridge) was a wreck, but they were a close-knit, extended family. Supportive, friendly and hospitable to visitors.”

Accept that description or not, it is a remarkable statement. Stellar in fact, if you ask me.

Family is meant to influence society! Family is the basic buiding block of society. Family is the single, most powerful tool to build a strong, thriving cuture, and civilization.

Family. Familia. Jiating. Gajog. Familie. Famille. Sem’ya. Usra.

In every language, culture, and nation, the family is needed. Vital. Required. Wanted. Essential.

Let me emphatically add, that your family is essential, just as it is, with it’s personalities, and characters. Your family does not and will not follow the paths of the dynasties –

  • The Barrymore’s – Hollywood movies
  • Ford’s – automotive world
  • Mellon’s – banks & steel
  • Manning’s – football
  • Koch – business
  • Lauren – retail
  • Murdoch – media
  • Rockefeller – banking
  • Kennedy – politics
  • Walton’s – superstores

But the influence of your family, on society is JUST AS IMPORTANT as theirs.

Families come is all shapes and sizes, we recognize that. And so does God.

In fact, the Hebrew word that is translated by NIV and other translations as “family”, really means – “a circle of relatives; family; a tribe of people.” The word is “mish-paw-khaw” in Hebrew.

That means a family, is a circle of relatives, a tribe of people who surround each other.

For many, that will be a biological family relation of some sort. For others, that tribe surrounding you is not biolofical but perhaps spiritual or emotional relationships. None the less, these are a circle of people who have your back and you theirs. They are family.

All of us have times in our life that we scrutinize our family relations. We may even question our place in the family or the value of it or possibly even our own value. This is part of life. Part of maturity and growth. Look at these guys who did just that:

Gideon said to God, “Pardon me Lord, how can I… my clan is the weakest and I am the least in my family…” Judges 6:15

Saul too, questioned his family, his clan, his circle – “… is not my clan the least of all the clans?” 1 Samuel 9:21

Could you insert your name there, for Gideon’s or Saul’s? Or do you identify more closely with The Addam’s family, The Brady Bunch, The Kennedy’s, The Ingalls, or the Kardashians?

It has always been God’s plan to use your family to shape you. And that it has. No family is exempt. Weakest clan or strongest/most famous clan, God’s purpose is to use it to shape you into who He has designed you to be. Using the good, the bad, and the ugly in our clan, it develops in us the person and personality we allow. Our responses to those rubbings within the family clan, provide for us choices. Opportunities.

Hang with me here –

That “mish-paw-khaw” word for circle of relatives, family comes from another Hebrew word that means:

” to abrade, to stick out.” It literally means, to scrape or wear away by friction or erosion. To irritate or roughen by rubbing. It is the root from which we get our word abrasion.

Strongs concordance H 8192

Dear reader – doesn’t that sound exactly like your family? My famly? All families?

That circle of relatives who rub us the wrong way, irritate us and cause friction, who have bruised and scraped us raw…. Yeppers! That’s family. The ones who God uses to shape us, and rub off the rough edges of our personality and erode away those things that stick out from us that don’t belong. That is family. And that is what God designed families to do. (In addition to alot of other things…)

God placed each of us into our family of origin. We had no choice. But we do have choices now and how we choose to respond to the rubbing and abrasions of family will make or break us.

But more importantly, our family (and responses to it,) is what makes the backbone of our society. No pressure there, right? But it is true. Our families are meant to display the love of God, grace and mercy of God to the world.

God has chosen families from Adam’s family to yours to reveal His purposes and plans. Let Him rub, and refine you in your family setting and let His light shine through you and reflect off of you and your circle of relatives.

Our society needs Godly Adam’s families.

Cheers to you,

Debbie

TV Family quiz-

  • 20- Family Guy
  • 19- The Gosselins
  • 12- Married with Children
  • 10- Simpsons
  • 8- Fresh Prince
  • 5- Full House
  • 2- Brady Bunch
  • 1- Wonder Years

Feeling Trashed?

Trashed” – not a pretty word. It carries all sorts of meanings, I know. But, let’s just take it at face value, shall we? When something is trash, it is used up, worn out, maybe even broken, old, and just plain done with. Right?

Well, it is my sense that those descriptors just may fit you or someone you know.

Allow me to expand that list:

  • stressed
  • in distress
  • squeezed
  • can’t seem to focus
  • helpless
  • hurting
  • enduring
  • in the dark
  • chaos
  • forgotten

You see, I know of a man, who’s life, I actually took each of these descriptions from. He used each of them to paint for us his feelings of being trashed. Check out one of his quotes,

” I am totally forgotten… discarded like a broken dish thrown in the trash.”

From his poems – chapter 31

Seriously, this guy was in bad shape. Every single description in the above bulleted list, comes from his poem book. He is totally trashed! He was squeezed beyond measure, hurting deeply and seeing chaos all around him.

His enemies were actually chasing him in hot pursuit to kill him. Physically kill him. This is not metaphor.

This guy understood being trashed on every level. He knew being squeezed, emptied, worn out, broken, used up and spent. He lived ups and downs, highs and lows, depression and ecstasy.

He had visions of where he wanted to be, what he wanted to be doing and the life he was currently in was NOT it. His dreams were dashed, his desires dried up and his drive destroyed.

So, if you, or that one you know is feeling trashed, you are not alone and not the first, unfortunately.

C’mon, at some level and for some duration all of us have been in the dumps – been trashed, haven’t we? Of course, we have.

So let me use his words, to encourage us all:

“Here’s what I’ve learned through it all: Don’t give up; don’t be impatient; be entwined as one with the Lord. Be brave and courageous, and never lose hope. Yes, keep waiting – for he will never disappoint you!”

Psalm 27:14 TPT

Such good advice to us:

  • don’t give up
  • don’t be impatient
  • be entwined with the Lord
  • be brave
  • be courageous
  • never lose hope
  • keep waiting
  • He (the Lord) will never disapoint you

OKAY! I needed that. Such wisdom and insight, from someone who knows exactly what it feels like to be trashed. Thanks, David. (well before he was King David)

Cheers to you,

Debbie

There’s A Waterfall in My Kitchen

Sunday Sermon 9.18.21

In my view, there’s probably nothing more calming and soothing than the sounds of a river babbling through it’s bed or a gentle waterfall over the smooth rocks. With it comes a deep sense of tranquilility, clarity, purity, refreshment and power.

It was during the Feast of Tabernacles (which, by the way, is approaching Sept. 21-27), that Jesus stood and spoke:

“On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit…”

John 7:37-39a NIV

Imagine a rustling, babbling river flowing through you, through you and the riverbed of your life, over every rock embedded in your personality. Imagine it’s tranquility, clarity, purity, refreshment and power.

THAT my friend, is the Holy Spirit flowing through you. And that, dear one, is what Jesus promised to those guys back then, and to you and me today. Rivers of living water flowing through those that believe.

So we must ask ourselves, is that river flowing in and through us? Is that waterfall of the Spirit, overflowing and toppling down, over the boulders, bushes, birds of the air?

Chances are the flowing is a mere trickle. Or worst-yet, a dry riverbed, lacking even the slightest bit of moisture. My new hero of the faith says this –

“Dear brethren, our eyes are dry, because our hearts are dry.”

Leonard Ravenhill – “Why Revival Tarries”

Are our hearts dry or is there a river of life flowing through it?

The Lord used this event and picture in my life this week to teach me a thing or two about this flowing river from within us.

I had determined to go for a walk with my husband yesterday and when we returned, I was going to clean the house. You know, mop, vacuum, dust, etc., etc. So we went for our walk and had a wonderful time outdoors, together.

When we returned home, I opened the door to the sound of a waterfall in my kitchen. Now mind you, we have no water fountain or any such water feature in our home, much less in the kitchen.

When I rounded the corner to the kitchen, this is what I saw…

Overflowing from the filled sinks was filthy, black water! It was flowing from the sinks, over the kitchen counter, down the cabinet wall, into the dining room and all over the kitchen floor. Under the cupboard was a collection of water, and the pipes were shooting this disgusting water from the lines.

And the SMELL. WAS. DISGUSTING!

I wish there was an APP for smelling, luckily for you tho’, you can use your eyes instead.

Short story now, the tenant above us was having plumbing work done, this we knew. We had previously had no blockage problems (last November we had a plumber out to clear the lines), so we thought we were good. Until we got home that is. Another plumber came out, cleared the line and we were left to clean up the mess. After 4 hours, we were on the road to “back to normal”.

But here’s the lesson I feel the Lord had for me in this.

You Debbie, were content to clean the visible part of the house, but I am wanting to clean what is unseen. I am wanting to unclog the lines between us, unblock the emotions between us, clean up the stinch of lies that have polluted your image of how I see you, and open you up to the clean, refreshing, tranquil, pure and powerful flow of the living water of the Holy Spirit through you.

WOW! WOW! WOW! I was undone.

You see, the Lord has been working on me, challenging me to allow Him to walk with me through past experiences that have shut me down, distorted my image of the Father, and misshapen my stand as His beloved daughter. So when this picture played out yesteday in my life, it was powerful.

The stinch, the blockage, the sight of unclean water all were used to help me see what He was doing in my life. What He was doing to clean not just the outside but clean the inside of my life, because from me (and YOU) is to flow rivers of living water!

Refreshing, calming, life-giving, powerful, rushing pure rivers of the Holy Spirit flowing through me. But first, I gotta get unclogged, unstopped, roto-rootered… I gotta allow Him to clean me up to feel, sense, think and act like Him. So all that smelly, grungy, flesh-life has got to go.

We could mention hundreds of bible verses here, but I won’t. I will offer this one that has been so magnified in my mind and prayers these past weeks,

“Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.”

Psalm 5:3 TPT

You see, I am surrendering every area of my life to Him, afresh. Allowing Him to examine, reveal and walk me through the healing that is needed so that my heart will be passionately on fire for Him and clean, refreshing and powerful rivers of living water of the Spirit will flow through and from me.

It took a waterfall in my kitchen to speak powerfully to me and I hope that through it, He has spoken to you too.

Flow through us in purity, Holy Spirit. Unstop and unclog us. We yield to you.

Debbie

Your amazing

Heart

Pick a song with heart in the title. Go ahead, think of one.

Did you pick one of these top 5 or from another genre?

  • My Heart Will Go On
  • This is How a Heart Breaks
  • Un-break My Heart
  • Heartbreaker
  • Cold, Cold Heart

We sing about the heart often, don’t we? And we even have tons of phrases and idioms about the heart, like:

  • a big heart
  • all heart
  • eat your heart out
  • heavy heart
  • lose heart
  • out of the goodness of your heart
  • with all your heart
  • take heart

But do we think about the heart very often? Seriously? What consideration do we give to that organ so critical to our survival? Well, today, I’d like to change that.

Let’s consider your amazing heart –

That one pound, fist-sized muscle that sits toward the center of your chest, that pumps blood through your body, bringing fresh, new oxygenated blood to each organ, while removing waste products and keeping them away from your tissues.

It is the work horse of your body, beating 100,00-115,000 times a day, circulating 2,000 gallons of blood every day, through a network of over 60,000 miles of stretched out blood vessels. (That’s enough for 2 times around the world!)

Think about what it does everyday within your chest, and most likely without you even being aware.

Your heart’s main function is to keep blood full of Oxygen and circulating through your body. It pumps blood through a system of blood vessels and that’s called circulating. The vessels are elastic, muscular tubes that carry blood to the entire body. Blood of course, is essential for life.

The heart carries fresh blood, filled with Oxygen, from the lungs and keeps wastes like CO2 away from our tissues. Arteries are the highways that carry the blood away from the heart. Veins take the blood back to the heart for their dose of Oxygen and waste removal. The capillaries are small, thin blood vessels that connect arteries and veins and it is through the capillary walls that the wastes leave.

I NEVER think about this stuff. (Unless I have a lesson to teach on it) Do you? The heart just does it’s job, lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. It just keeps on ticking…

That heart beat itself is triggered electrically! There are specialized cells called the SA node (sinoatrial node), that actually generates an electrical stimulus, 60-100 times a minute. Then there’s another set of cells that coordinate the speed of the signal, by slowing it down, so that the blood gets ejected from the atria to the ventricles before the ventricles contract. Otherwise, you’ve got big problems.

Then there are those ventricles and antrim. You remember them from Biology, right? The four chambers on the inside of your heart…

The four chambers of your heart are hallow and divided by a wall called the septum. The top two chambers are the atria, and the botom chambers the ventricles. Connecting each of the four chambers, are four, one-way valves, whose job it is to keep the blood from flowing in the wrong direction. Each valve has two or three leaflets or cusps.

Blood enters the right side of your heart and empties Oxygen poor blood into the right atrium. The atrium contracts, the ventricle fills, contracts and blood leaves through the pulmonary valve. It is Oxygenated and returned to the left atrium.

On the left side, the pulmonary veins empty Oxygen rich blood from the lungs into the left atrium. The atrium contracts, blood flows to the left ventricle, then contracts causing the blood to leave the heart through the aortic valve to the body.

In the lungs, in those tiny air sacs, Oxygen travels through the walls of the capillaries into the bloodstream. And, CO2 leaves the body when you exhale! Whew…

Again, all this happens without so much of an intentional thought about what miracle is occuring within our chest.

Although blood circulates beautifully through the heart receiving Oxygen and ridding itself of wastes, the health of the organ itself is maintained by specialized arteries on the right and left outsides of the heart. They are called coronary arteries.

These arteries become diseased when plaque builds up in them and prevents the heart from getting what it needs. This is called Coronary Artery Disease, CAD. My father passed away due to this, with a 96% blockage in his artery. I can still remember the nurse showing me the image of the blockage!

This is why, for the health of our heart, we are encouraged to exercise, eat a well balanced diet and avoid damaging causes (like smoking).

So, whether we are talking about the smallest of all hearts, as found in the Fairy fly, or the largest, as found in the whale, the heart is amazing!

Whether it is pumping in a person’s chest, or has been disconnected from the body, and is still beating, the heart is amazing.

It’s design, function and efficiency is amazing.

Whether the heart of that 1 minute old baby, the youngest to undergo heart surgery, or in the 3,500 year old Egyptian mummy, the earliest to be identified with heart disease, the heart is amazing.

To know CPR and be able to bring back “to life” a heartbeat, is amazing! (We all should know CPR, in my opinion)

So, my friend, I know your heart is in the right place, and I pray, that out of the goodness of your heart you will take heart, and with all of your heart be grateful for your amazing heart.

Bless your (amazing) heart!

Debbie

Binge-watching

Sunday Sermon 9.11.21

In 2015 the Collins English Dictionary chose “binge-watch” as the word of the year. Wow!

According to research, “this is an observable cultural phenomenon that has become popular”. 61% of Netflix peeps say that they binge-watch regularily. Are you one of them? (No judgements here, jus’ wondering…)

I believe there are lessons to be learned from observing and evaluating cutural trends and happenings. So, what about binge-watching?

Well, let’s look at it… in it, (binge-watching), we are not just watching but over watching or marathon watching. In other words, there is an over emphasis on what we watch and are watching. What types of things do we watch?

  • We watch:
  • TV shows
  • Youtube videos
  • movies
  • our weight
  • sporting events
  • children
  • people

Could we say that there is an “overwatching” of these things? An overemphasis on some or all of them? I agree that the prolonged watching of these is a cultural phenomenon. But I also believe that there just may be a spiritual reason behind the why? (or maybe, more that one reason) Here’s why.

It is clear that we are living in days that we must be on watch, and aware of what is going on around us. There is a call in our spirits to be watchful, aware, on guard and awake. The verses from the Bible, both Old and New Testaments are being trumpeted, “WATCH and PRAY”.

  • Mat, 26:41 – Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation
  • Lk. 21:34-36 – Be careful or your heart will be weighed down…be always on the watch and pray
  • Mk. 13:37 – Be on guard, be alert…therefore keep watch…
  • Eph. 6:18 – praying always with all prayer… being watchful
  • 1 Thes. 5:6-8 – let us watch and be sober
  • Rev. 3:2-3 – be watchful and strengthen the things that remain
  • Rev. 16:15 – blessed is he who watches and keeps his garments
  • 2 Ki. 9:17 – keep watch and warn the townspeople
  • Ezek. 33 & Hos. 9 – watchmen be on guard and warn God’s people

Could it be that the Call of the Spirit to believers, to watch and pray in these days is being inverted by the enemy? Could the rise in binge-watching, and even its declaration of or designation as “word of the year”, be a perversion of the Call of the Spirit to watch and pray?

Could the enemy be terrified of believers who would actually hear that call to watch and pray, and rather set a plan in motion to distract them by any means possible, including his counterfeit – binge-watching?

Would you agree that since 2015 the need to watch and pray has increased exponentially? I think that the enemy knows his end is eminent and has unleashed every lie, plot and strategy to delay his demise. Folks, it is time to watch and pray.

How do you watch and pray, Debbie? What do you mean?

Think of the two words:

  1. WATCH – open your eyes, look around, notice things close and far, notice the visible and be alert to the invisible/spiritual. Look up, turn on the light, and keep looking closely in the dark.
  2. PRAY – offer prayers of all kinds to God

All of us can do this. It is not difficult, but it is costly. It costs our time, energy, and interest.

With all that there is to observe today in our world, in our life, watching should be easy. But our interest must be there, because to pray to God takes more than our interest. We don’t need any special qualifications, we just need to do it. Offer prayers, plural, to God on behalf of what we are seeing, what we have observed, what we are watching.

When we do that, we are acknowledging that we see what’s happening and are powerless to do anything about it, our God is not, however. Therefore, we offer it to Him for His help. We pray to Him. The self-righteous person won’t do that though, for he thinks that he “can handle it.”

When we choose to watch and pray, we are admitting that we can’t handle it but we know who can and we willingly ask for His help in that needy situation.

Whatever you are watching happen in your life right now, I am asking you to pray about it. I don’t care what it is. If you have watched it happen or are watching it happen, please pray. Lift your heart and prayer to God. Yield to His way and power. I promise you will experience a tremendous lifting and peace.

If you can see it (physically or spiritually), you can pray about it. YOU can.

That place we have just described is the starting point of prayer for all of us. Keep awake, watch, notice and then pray about it.

But for some of you, there is more.

You are called to be a watchman! A person who’s job it is to stand guard on the wall of your family, or city, or church or nation and sound the alarm when you see enemy invaders coming. When you see these invaders you move into intercession – deep and passionate prayer for that one, city, church or national situation. You, the watchman, challenge wrong laws, morality, and teaching through prayer and strategic intervention. You watch and pray, but you are a watchman.

With three short blasts, the watchman calls for his supervisors to come and he reports what he has seen to them. Oh watchmen, will you blow your trumpet, and sound the alarm, and signal for the hosts of heaven to come and bring aid?

Today, from their stations, the Israeli Defense Forces guard the local residents of the villages against unwanted attack. They are the “shomer” (Hebrew) security guard; the same Hebrew word used in Psalm 121, when it speaks of Jehovah, the One that watches over us.

God is watching over us, but He is looking for those who will “stand in the gap” and pray when they see invaders. Ezk.22:3

My new favorite hero, Leonard Ravenhill said, “No man is greater than his prayer life.” Folks, your prayers don’t have to be pretty or flowery – geesh, have you read the prayers of the Bible? But your prayers do have to be authentic, intentional and directed to God.

Where can you improve and increase your prayer life?

I believe the word of the day spiritually is – WATCH (and pray), (three words, I know). Don’t let the devil’s counterfeit distract you – you are made for more than binge-watching.

Go with God,

Debbie

PS- Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be accused of over binge-watching and praying?! Ha!

Patriot’s Day

The History Files

Twenty years ago, America was a different nation, not just because George Bush was president or Tony Blair UK’s Prime Minister. We traveled freely without security checks, walked people to their gates at airports as they departed, and greeted them at their gates as they arrived. Tickets and photo ID’s weren’t required for entry to the gates, laptops weren’t checked, liquids weren’t restricted nor metal dectors used to screen passengers.

We did not live in a surveillance state, calls were’t hacked nor written communications filtered. There was no such thing as the Department of Homeland Security, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or The Patriot Act. There was no war in Afghanistan or heated tensions in the Middle East. Things were different in America.

What changed things so drastically? September 11, 2001 did.

On that beautiful, clear, and sunny Tuesday, the unthinkable was about to happen to America.

September 11, 2001 was the day that nineteen terrorists of Al Qaeda hijacked four airplanes and used them as guided missles in their plot against America. Two airplanes were flown into the Twin Towers in NYC, one into the Pentagon in Washington DC, and one crashed in the fields of Pennsylvania.

At 8:45 AM EST, a Boeing 767, with 20,000 gallons of jet fuel, crashed into the North tower at the 80th floor, creating a hole to the 110th floor.

Most watched in horror as they considered this unbelievable accident that must have just happened, for a plane to veer off course and mistakenly hit this tall landmark in Manhattan.

Eighteen minutes later, the South tower was hit at the 60th floor. It was now clear, that this was NOT an accident.

America was under attack.

WTC site after collapse

At 9:45 AM EST, the Pentagon was hit on the West side. While this was burning, fifteen minutes later the South tower of World Trade Center collapsed due to the heat of the jet fuel.

The Pentagon attack

At 10:30 AM, the North tower fell. Only six in the towers at the time of their collapse lived.

In flight at this time was the fourth plane, which was hijacked after leaving New Jersey bound for San Francisco. Because of it’s later take off delays, passengers aboard Flight 93 were receiving calls and texts from loved ones telling them what was going on. Although on board, they were told that their flight had turned around and was returning to the airport, passengers knew differently.

So they planned to overthrow the hijackers. It is believed they stormed the cockpit in an effort to abort the evil attack that had been planned for this guided missle. As they did, the plane flipped and sped to the ground at a speed of 500 mph. It crashed in the fileds of Shanksville, PA at 10:10 AM. Fourty-four on board will killed. It is believed the intended target was the White House, or the Capital.

Shanksville, PA

In NYC, the casualities were enormous. 2,763 died at the WTC, including 343 Firefighters and Paramedics, 23 NY police officers, and 37 Port Authority Police Officers. Citizens of seventy-eight countries were employees of the Towers and lost their lives that day.

At the Pentagon, 189 were killed. 125 were killed on the ground and 64 on the plane.

Nearly 3,000 innocent’s died that day.

Flag of Honor, I fly, listing the names of all those lost.

President Bush led America’s response by initiating Operation Enduring Freedom, a US led coalition to oust the Taliban and destroy Osama Bin Laden’s network, on October 7, 2001. Two months later, the Taliban was removed from operational power in Afgahnistan.

Osama Bin Laden, the money and brain behind the attacks was tracked down and killed on May 2, 2011.

Additionally, The Department of Homeland Security was formed as a Cabinet post, the TSA was formed and the Patriot Act was passed, allowing for surveillance of citizens and others.

The impact of that day was far reaching.

The “Pile” of rubble that remained in NYC took 9 months to remove. From its burning fumes and toxic particles, the first responders and people working and living in Manhattan were exposed to cancer causing elements. By 2018, 10,000 people were diagnosed with 911 related cancers.

The “pile” & workers

A 911 Victim’s Compensation Fund was formed and funds set to stop in 2092.

In December, 2001, Congress approved a bill calling for September 11 as Patriot’s Day.

Since that horrific day, memorials have been built at each site. They are each well worth visiting.

Pentagon Memorial
Firefighters wall of memorial

At The World Trade Center site, two reflecting pools were built with 152 engraved, bronze panels, surrounding the pools with the names of those lost that day. It is called, “Reflecting Absence”.

Reflecting Pool with names

On September 11, 2011, the museum opened up, taking you a level below ground to view the violent distruction that tore our hearts that day. It’s power rivals only that of the Holocaust Museum. It is heartwrenching.

Scenes from inside WTC museum

In November of 2014, The Freedom Tower, at One World Trade opened, standing proudly at 1,776 feet tall!

Freedom Tower

THIS day in American history, September 11, was MY Pearl Harbor!

Some of those brave patriots lost on 911

In Honolulu, on December 7, 1941, they lost 2,403.

Both have changed America and the world forever.

It is my sincere hope, that we will never forget September 11, 2001, not out of vindictiveness, but out of a call for remembering truth and the patriots who gave themselves in that pursuit. Most of them unknowingly that day.

Pins given to me by NYC firefighters

We know and we must never forget. THAT is the duty and privilege of a partiot.

Cheers,

Debbie

Why Do We Have Labor Day?

The History Files

On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed into law and act that made Labor Day a legal, federal holiday. Why? What’s the story behind it?

During the 1800’s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the US, the average American worked 12 hour days, 7 days a week to eke out a basic living. Kids as young as 5 worked in mills, mines and factories across the country, earing a fraction of what the adults were making, yet still, working to help support their family.

Conditions for these work places were unsafe, there was no fresh air, sanitary facilities or even breaks allowed. As manufacturing replaced agriculture, the labor unions increased, seeking to provide better conditions for the American worker.

Strikes were organized, rallies and protests promoted and the workers stirred to speak up for better hours, waged and conditions.

Riots broke out in various places, such as the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in CHicago, where several police officers and workers were killed. (Some things never change in Chicago..)

Or the protest of 10,000 workers in NY who marched for their rights.

But it was on May 11, 19894, that the Pullman Palace Car strike changed things. After the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of this RR, (June 26) traffic was crippled nationwide and riots broke out. Federal troops were dispatched and there were more than a dozen deaths.

On June 28, 1894, President Cleveland signed the act of having a “working holiday” into law. It has since been called Labor Day.

None of us can appreciate the unbelievable sacrifices, long hours, unhealthful, and even brutal conditions of these early workers. There was no such thing as working 9-5, with required 15 minute breaks, PTO, benefits, and a break room with food and drink.

Today, we have the US Department of Labor, which was formed on March 3, 1913 and (grudgingly) signed off by President William Taft to protect our rights and privilidges as an American worker or employer. Formed to help workers, job seekers and retirees by creating standards for occupational safety, wage, hours and benefits, we all have benefitted from it’s oversight.

But it wasn’t always so. Like most things we enjoy today, someone else, before us, paved the way for us. They have paid a price and sacrificed. They lived a harder life and we have learned and grown and improved from their experiences.

So, the first Monday of September, we celebrate Labor Day. A day when we remember the American worker and their progress, advancement and hard work. We take “a working holiday” and say good bye to summer as we may BBQ, and enjoy the privilege of working in America.

Cheers to working America.

Debbie

Give us a discerning heart

Sunday Sermon 8.8.20

“Discernment”, “discerning” are words not used frequently these days and yet, in my opinion, they are needed now more than ever.mm

How would you define them? Go ahead, think about it, create a simple and clear definition. Remember, though, discernment is not wisdom, understanding or knowledge; they are all different words.

It took me several attempts and mental edits to make it clear and concise in my mind. How did you do?

Here’s what the pros tell us discernment is: “the ability to judge well”. Another says, “to separate or distinguish between two or more things”.

Discernment is the ability to see clearly and decide between:

  • right and wrong
  • truth and error
  • good and bad
  • primary and secondary
  • essential and indifferent
  • permanent and transient
  • good, better, best
  • in Christian worldview the ability to think and see Biblically

Discernment is lacking and yet so vital today. It has always been so. So vital in fact, King Solomon, in about 900 BC made it his number one request from God!

“Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong”

1 Kings 3:9

What a request! He could have asked for anything. He pretty much had a blank check from God. He thought long and hard and concluded that what he needed most in his reign, life and influence was discernment.

God heard, God honored his request and God gave him more than discernment. In fact, because he asked for discernment and wisdom in order to be a good leader and distinguish between right and wrong, God said He would give him wealth and honor greater than any other king. Thus, that is why Solomon is counted as the wisest and wealthiest man of all time. BECAUSE HE ASKED FOR DISCERNMENT.

This so impacted me as a young Christian, Solomon’s request for wisdom and discernment, that I made it my life verse, goal and prayer. It is powerful.

King David also desired discernment.

Psalm 119:66 – Teach me knowledge and good judgement, for I trust in your commands.

Psalm 119:125 – I am your servant, give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.

Some call discernment a 6th sense. Some call it how things look in God’s eyes.

No matter what we call it, scripturally it is called for. Today we need it. We must call for it in our lives in a greater measure.

1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 – examine everything sensibility

1 John 4:1 – do not believe every spirit, test the spirits

2 Peter 1:3 – God has given us everything we need for godliness

Matthew 7:1,6 – be careful not to cast your pearls before swine

In these days, we need to be able to distinguish between truth and error, good and bad. We need to be able to discern or judge well. We need to be able to separate between things and sort and sift wisely.

Let’s join Solomon and ask God to “give us a discerning heart.”

Go with God.

Briquettes and Bonfires

I feel to share with you a vivid set of pictures that came clearly to my mind this week. (1.22.22)

I first saw this blue and white bag of bbq briquettes.

Then I saw a group of people coming from many locations to one central gathering. I knew them to be people when traveling there, but they became briquettes when they arrived. And thus, the gathering was a bunch of bbq briquettes, which we’re going to be set on fire in the gathering.

They were each one set ablaze, and together became an enormous bonfire. Burning ever so intense, hot and powerful.

This powerful fire then became mobil as each briquette took its burning passion with them to their home, workplace, neighborhood and church.

There then, in those homes and workplaces other briquettes joined them, and formed yet another mass of briquettes that were set ablaze with that same powerfully intense fire. There was a bonfire burning brightly in that home, or workplace were the briquettes had gathered.

From those homes & workplaces, just like the first bonfire, each burning briquette left to return to their home. Where again more briquettes would gather to be ignited.

This was repeated endlessly. Briquettes (people) gathering together and being ignited. Then leaving the bonfire with the fire burning within, to meet up with other briquettes who in turn would be ignited by the group of gathered briquettes.

Soon, the whole geographical area was dotted with burning, powerful bonfires. These fires were making a positive difference in the area, as their intensity, demonstration and brightness could not be ignored.

End of the pictures.

I believe we have entered a time spiritually in our nation and neighborhoods where spiritual bonfires are being set by hungry and flammable briquettes that are gathering together or will be gathering together.

This is not the time for solo briquettes to remain isolated from the bonfire gatherings.

You are that briquette. Consider where you need to gather to be set ablaze and go there, get lit. Then consider who you need to gather in your home or workplace, and share your fire with them. There are many waiting and wanting to be ignited by something powerful. Invite them.

We have turned a corner spiritually, and it is time to join with other burning briquettes to see the bonfire explode.

Burn, baby, burn.

Debbie