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Trim Your Wick

Candle and the word

The CANDLE … warm glow, the dancing of the flame,  slow drip of the fragrant wax.  Soothing isn’t it?  One could sit for hours in its shadow, just admiring the effect it has on us.  I love illumination.  One of my favorites rests on my coffee table, a round candle sits in a bed of coffee beans in an attractive clear glass vase.

A few years ago at bible study, as the women entered the room,  they were greeted with a white linen covered table; with two tapered candles burning in long stem crystal holders.  The atmosphere was warm and elegant.  There is something about … a flickering flame. In the middle of the table was a gold Jewish Menorah, it too was burning gently. Our study at the time was the Tabernacle of Moses, I wanted each gal to experience the peace, the invitation of the … flame.

The Lord revealed Himself many times in the flame, the bush with Moses, where he was commissioned, and Yahweh gives us His name, “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3), and the pillar of fire at night to the Israelites, extending His guidance (Ex. 13).  Solomon dedicating the Temple, fire came down from heaven as God’s glory filled it (2 Chron. 7). One can not talk fire, forgetting to mention the show down on Mt. Carmel, Elijah, and his God against the prophets of Baal, go God! (I Kings 18).  Then the tongues of fire on the heads of those gathered at Pentecost (Acts 2)

Oh, we may not be calling God down from heaven these days to consume our sacrifice to prove a point, but the use of the flame on a smaller note, we can understand.  The theme of the candle or lamp in the bible is strong.  In Psalm 18:28 David writes “For thou wilt coffee and candlelight my candle: the LORD my God will enlighten my darkness”.   Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path”.   It is God that burns, His presence, His word that lights our way; it is in our very next step we desire Him to be present.  Light our way O God!

With the joy and privilege of the candle comes responsibility, tending.  The priests DAILY tended to the lamp in the Tabernacle.  Along with the sacrifice, the water, the light, these needed daily attention.  When God gave strict instruction of the articles for the Tabernacle, He included the ‘wick trimmers’.  Exodus 25:38, the wick trimmers were made of pure gold.

As I researched this, I was amazed to find, the need that as we trim the wick short; we ‘cut off yesterday’s fire.’  It was described that the wick begins to have a small build up, causing the flame not to burn pure, and too fast.  This is the black soot that flows from the flame; it is drowning in a large pool of melted wax.   This soot seems to fall and attach itself to those things closest to the candle.  Hm… think on that.   We trim for a fresh, even, pure, lasting flame!  Fresh Fire!  Does that stir something in you?

The Lord spoke to me about the need to come DAILY, seeking His presence, His word, that FRESH  FIRE, depending not on yesterday’s experience!  As I trim my wick and prepare for a fresh word from God, His presence comes.  As He did with Moses, He will reveal Himself to me, commissioning me for the day.  As the Israelites, He will guide me.  As His temple, He will fill me.  Just like Elijah He will do great things in my midst.

How is your flame burning?  Is it yesterdays fire, or has it gone out completely?  Seek as David did, ‘light my candle O God!’

Fresh Fire… trim your wick, for a pure, even, lasting flame, Go God!  (wouldn’t that look great on the Yankee candle label)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Suspicious Kindness

kindness

It was the summer of 1983, home between semesters of my seminary days, I was standing behind the counter of my father’s fast food restaurant, when a small boy reaching his arm up, releases a fist full of coins onto the counter. The smile on his face could melt any Dairy Queen blizzard. Raising his eyes to mine, he simply stated “A vanilla cone please.” Looking at the coins still rolling on the counter, I knew he didn’t have enough. Taking my index finger, I began to count the silver and a few copper. When there was none left to be counted, the boy’s face grew very solemn. He too knew it wasn’t enough. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a couple more coins and placed them along side his own.

His response shocked me. With a suspicious look, he again reached forward and began to pull his coins away. I told him, it was ok. He now had enough. I tried to match the tone in my voice with that of the kind gesture. With a slight pause as if struggling against his better judgment, his smile returned, and I quickly scooped the coins away and proceeded ice cream boyto make him the LARGEST ‘small’ cone I have ever made complete with a curly-Q top.  That moment impacted me, and has never been forgotten.

Suspicious kindness, sad isn’t it. We often are not used to receiving kindness, our first reaction is … pause .. question the motive …then refusal, worried that there HAS to be something wrong, or WAIT, what do you want in return? Our society has become so ‘ME’ oriented, that to think then act on behalf of another with goodness takes great concentration, not to mention ‘risk.’ For some, to be kind is a sign of ‘weakness.’ DUDE!   Sad.

St. Paul speaks directly to the qualities that do NOT (notice the ‘NOT’) come naturally to us, “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, PUT ON heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…” (Col. 3:12, emphasis mine) we are not born with them, they are a CHOICE. A day-to-day, moment by moment choice. We slip our arms into the garment and wear it, we wear …HIM, Jesus.

Kindness is the softer side of creation, the God in us peaking through with love, and mercy. It is described by scholars that kindness is the inner heart attitude of tenderness, gentleness, then goodness takes over and acts on the heart attitude. I see it in the word picture of one walking by a blind man, holding a charitable cup for money. The HEART sees the man, the heart feels the man, the heart responds with God to the man, filling his cup. Love, kindness and goodness all go together. Love sees, kindness feels, goodness does, read that again.  (see also: 1 Cor. 13, Eph. 4:29-31) I might add, that in one of Paul’s ‘lists’ (oh how he loved his lists)  Gal. 5:22-23, he shares the ‘Fruit’ of the Spirit, notice it is ‘singular’, it is not ‘Fruits‘, he admonishes us to walk in the ‘package deal’ of Jesus.   Picture if you will, someone has just delivered a most fabulous fruit basket and sets in in front of you, individual delicious items, but all in the basket as one gift. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” ALL evidence of Jesus.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a leading Jewish Theologian had this to say about kindness, “When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people, as I grow old, I admire kind flowerspeople.” TRUE Godly kindness does not require a return on your investment. It is self-less-ness. We see, we feel, we do.

What is the opposite of kindness? Severity, cutting something or someone short or quick, in that we do NOT see THEM! We do not feel them or do for them. We see, feel, do only for ourselves. (ouch!)

May we all be challenged to be kind beyond ourselves. Spreading some Sonshine, with wonderful bouquets of gentleness. Remembering that WE have been bathed in God’s kindness and goodness.  Taking an extra moment to listen. Find more coins in our pockets, open more doors, whatever is needed at the moment. Like the little boy with ice cream at the counter, he now has ENOUGH! God uses US in the ‘enough’ equation.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds” ~ Heb. 10:24)

Sacred Spaces

Sacred Spaces

Where is it that you call on God? I mean those moments when all you need is …HIM! Your prayer closet, the pew at church? The comfy chair next to the wood stove? Or perhaps, for you a walk on the beach, while brushing your tennis shoes in the sand. Could it be a quiet spot on the back porch as you sip coffee, or maybe just maybe, where ever you reverently bow your head.

When God moves and speaks, what is our response? Do we mark those moments on the time line of our life? As I have been studying those great names of old … Abe, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, I found all had many things in common, but one in particular stood out to me … they built altars.

Genesis 12:7 “The Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.”

Genesis 26:24-25 “That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” 25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.”

Genesis 35:10-15 “God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him. 14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.

This one,  one of my favorites … (a bit wordy, but worth the read)

Exodus 17:10-16 “So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army withstone_altar the sword. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord. The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

An altar is a landmark of God’s presence. It declares a sacred space. Sacred, because the God of the universe showed up. Oh, we may no longer need to gather various rocks and pile them in our back yard, but we can make a spiritual marker. I made a very clear altar of the heart a couple of years ago. If I could literally see the altar it would be down in a cattle field, at the rivers edge, under a large old tree. It was there I cried out to the Lord, wanting … NEEDING His presence, and He never disappoints.

Like the Patriarchs of old, may we too … be altar builders. Recognizing and declaring THIS is where God met with me. Here is where I will remember. I will remember …HIM.  If we could see as God sees, I am confident we would see sacred spaces scattered across our past journeys. “Thank You Lord for being there, hearing us, being with us, You are faithful!”  Sacred spaces.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

Gutsy Faith

Ever know someone, or read about a quality a person has, and your thoughts go to “I want summa THAT’, I want what they have.” I recently had those thoughts, not in a jealous way, but a ‘divine gotta have’ way. In my study time I came across a very gutsy gal. Mark 5:24-34, the woman with the bleeding issue. Oh I know, when we get to this area of scripture, due to the ‘topic’ we may tend to skim fast over it, yet it has AMAZING lessons for Gutsy Galus.

Verse 25 describes this gal as one who had been afflicted for a very long time. She had sought help elsewhere, yet instead of improving, her condition worsens. I love verse 27, “When she heard about Jesus, she came…” One resource claims that she may have traveled some 30 miles to get there.

The story proceeds with, “she came up behind Jesus in the crowd and touched His cloak.” This alone is a gutsy step of faith, she came to Him ‘in the crowd.’ Let’s think about this. She is, as culture and tradition states, ceremonially ‘unclean’ due to the bleeding issue. She should, from a distance declare herself unclean and stay away. “She came…”

Out of confident desperation she says, “if I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Many times emphasis can be lost in the translation. The word used here for ‘if’ in the Greek can be rendered, since or because. May I be so bold to translate it this way, “Due to the fact that because I touched Jesus’ clothes, I WILL be healed.” Yep, that is some strong gutsy faith! Verse 29, “…immediately her bleeding stopped!”

Interesting note, the word used in the narrative for her touching Jesus’ garment doesn’t imply she just reached out and flicked her hand across the hem. She GRABBED it! She grabbed that garment so tight, that she may have left an imprint of her hand on it. She KNEW, she believed that all it took was to grab His cloak and she WOULD be healed! “She touched…”

As I read through this, I felt the Lord say that I too am (we all are) like G.G. at times (I nicknamed her Gutsy Gal) We may not have a physical ailment, but we have issues, stuff. We too can be lost in our own affliction, and be there a LONG time, seeking help elsewhere. What will it take to bring us to the realization that He will help us. Do we have the faith to come to Him and not stay away. Confidently reach for Him and KNOW He will meet us in our need. It may take some gutsiness on our part, some faith reaching, strong grabbing, and by golly don’t worry about the crowd … JUST COME TO JESUS!

Oh, that OUR ‘if’ of current circumstance would be said with such belief, “Because I came to Jesus, not worrying about those around me, reached out, touched Him, I will be ________________ ” (YOU fill in the blank)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

Revelation vs Resolution

calendar
As the calendar takes on a new year, we flip through the photos, whether it be puppies, golf images or as mine hangs proudly … Tropical Islands. The empty squares indicating days yet to be lived, those 12 pages can either propel us or paralyze us.

The change of the new year has traditionally become a ‘re-setting’ if you will of our life compass. We evaluate the past and plan for the future. For some of us, this enfolds sitting down writing out our Resolutions. Money to be made, exercise routines to be eventually avoided, diet plans for hopes of a ‘new me’, buy that new house, get that promotion, start that new reading plan. Don’t get me wrong, these are all good plans of a attack for the new year. However, have we considered that we too seek … revelation?

Recently I have again revisited ‘grace’ and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Grace, not only is it a most beautiful word, but a powerful element within the Kingdom of God. Paul uses it in many greetings and closing words, “… grace and peace be yours in Christ Jesus…” I will not share the potentially boring F.Y.I. preaching (as a friend calls it) religious or theological information to pack our heads with more ‘stuff’, but I will do as the Holy Spirit has with me recently, massage your heart with God’s love.

Grace, ‘unlimited kindness and mercy of God freely given to the undeserved.’ Now if THAT does not spark something within you, then let me say it again in a different way and personalize it.

GRACE, the absolutely free expression of loving kindness and favor of God given to me when I do not deserve it. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God…” When I make a mess of things or do not have it in me to go on, or my footing is somewhat not sure, or the next moment of my life needs to be lived … He is. His love for me: protects me, guides me, sustains me and opens doors for me. He gives me wisdom beyond my own intelligence, understanding that amazes this old gal and basically He is all that I am not. His plan, (or might I risk saying) His resolution for me is found in Jesus Christ, I can not NOT be anything but victorious. Grace.

Faith puts us on the tracks of grace. Remember in the Indiana Jones movie, indianajoneswhen Jones is in pursuit of the ‘holy cup’ of Christ? (Play short movie clip now in your mind) In the journey, he travels through tunnels and passages ways and ultimately comes out only to find a HUGE ravine between he and the entry way to the cup. Soon he has the revelation that the ravine is ONLY a deceitful image. Taking a handful of sand, he tosses it across the ravine to find a clear path to the cup. He stands, extends one leg, closes his eyes and by faith takes that first step across.

I know this is a poor and perhaps silly illustration, but for me, faith is picking up the sand and tossing it across our ravines … grace is engaged when we begin to walk across and keep walking. Daily there are many forms of ‘ravines’ to be crossed… DAILY He is there to get us through to the other side with an unbroken and immense supply of more grace. Jesus says “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9) How many of us are weak? How many of us this last year have grown tired in spirit and soul? My hand is raised! Wait, both hands!

As we stand at the door of 2014, and our jounrey continues in this life, may jesus_eyewe seek a fresh revelation of Jesus. Learn more of His love, trust His hand and bow more in gratitude of the grace He freely gives.

I pray over us as Paul did, “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Cor. 13:14) The divine Trinity at Their best!

In Him, DeDe ( “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

Inspired Fountians Website: http://inspiredfountainpen.wordpress.com/

YOU are the Reason for the Season!

Glory
These last couple of days I have been pondering and rolling around in my head, the little seasonal rhyme, ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’. It fits well as a lapel pin, looks good across our Christmas cards. Even hangs proudly as an ornament on our trees. AND ‘screams’ as you scroll through the Facebook home page. I like it! The message is clear and points to Jesus!

Yet… I began to think of this in theological terms, the accuracy of it. I know… I KNOW you are rolling your eyes at this point. But bear with me. I am a people watcher, I watch how they walk, their mannerisms, their facial expressions (there is much entertainment in it… ‘nough said). The other day as I was Christmas shopping I watched their faces, looked into their eyes, wondering if THEY knew Jesus. Then it dawned on me ~ ‘THEY are the reason for the season’! I am the reason for the season.

The season is Christmas. Christmas is JESUS, His birth. Why Did Jesus come to earth? What was His reason? His motive? ‘I think I will go to earth and be born into humanity, just to mess with a few religious dudes, over turn a few tables, and show’m how walking on water is really cool’? NO! Jesus is LORD! “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him, should not perish but HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.” (Jn. 3:16 emphasis mine) Jesus came to earth, living His life as a spokesman for the Father; He lived to die … for US! WE are the ‘whosoever’. WE are the reason for the season! YOU are the reason for Youthe season! (Ok, group HUG!)

Today, Christmas, as you look into the eyes of those around you, friends, family, aunts and uncles, consider THEM! What a great opening line to the gospel, said with heart felt humility … “Did you know YOU are the reason for the season…” Explain Jesus briefly, then politely ask they pass the rolls.

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Blessed (extreme joy due to divine interaction with out stretched arms) Christmas to you and yours,

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another towards love & good deeds.” - Heb. 10:24)

Christmas Peace – All is GOOD!

Peace
Christmas. Just the word alone brings a soft glow to the soul. A cozy fire, soft quilted blanket, cookies and Bing Crosby on the TV. A peaceful experience.

Peace. How would YOU define peace? When asked a few friends, I got a variety of answers with a common theme. An awareness of hope, rest. The lack of strife, or internal conflict. Peace, “knowing that things will turn out ok.” All true.

Christmas peace, Luke 2:14, when the angel appears to the shepherds, he pulls in the back up singers for this declaration, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE, among men whom God’s favor rests.” (emphasis mine)

Not only was God gettin some glory, but peace had come to earth. “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Sound familiar? “A baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

This New Testament word, peace, ‘eirene’ (i-ray-nay) means as O. T. shalom does, prosperity, quietness and wholeness. And it isn’t just the absence of war or conflict, it literally means to bind or join together that which has been broken, divided, meaning in essence to ‘set right again’ – it really is a beautiful word picture: something that was once upright has been toppled over, causing chaos and a conflict. HurtingwithGodRevisions2.pdfPeace is picking it up and setting it right again as it was designed. That which was once divided is no longer, but joined together. Now, put this in context to the angels birth announcement of Jesus… “Peace on earth among men whom Gods favor rests.” Jesus coming to earth, His life, death and resurrecton has ‘righted’ things between God and man – joining us together again. Everything in place and as it ought to be. Come BOLDLY before the throne of God…. (amen)

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, (set at one again) 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and PEACE to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” (Eph. 2:13-18, emphasis mine) Peace.

In my study, I kept coming across the thread of reconcilation. Reconciled, is an accounting term, as one who sits down and writes out the columns of what is owed and what has been paid. At the bottom of the page, the owing and paying are in complete balance. NOTHING owed. THAT is peace. THAT is Jesus.

Paul declares this point … “Since we have been justified through faith we amazing gracehave PEACE with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Romans 5:1

This Christmas as we sing and sway with the Hoo’s in Hooville, drink another glass of eggnog, rip open the thin paper off our packages, may we pause and consider whole heartedly, we, mankind have the opportunity to be at peace, restored back to God. Yes, Peace had indeed came to earth, as a baby lying in a manger, as a reigning King sitting at the right hand of God!

I share this from my heart, for you see 34 years ago, a 16 year old girl radically gave her heart to Jesus on December 21, 1979. I no longer neccessarily see Jesus in the manger, but high and lifted up!

Blessed Christmas from my heart to yours,

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

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