Archive | August 2009

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?

Modern technology never ceases to amaze me. You would think by now that I would be blasé about cell phones, the internet, and the improvements in long distance calling, but I still get excited about how instant, inexpensive, accessible and of vastly improved quality our modern communications are today.
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Julie and I were just talking yesterday about how much easier it is to stay connected to the grandchildren, as well as everyone else, now. I mentioned that back in the 1980’s when we moved from Indiana to Colorado I could only call my mother once a week on Sunday nights. Today, thanks to the reduction in long distance rates, I talk to my daughters and grandchildren every day, many times a day sometimes, and for as long as I want!
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In the 1990’s when Laurie first went to Ecuador, the connections were very poor and sometimes frustrating, and the costs were prohibitive. I didn’t dare talk more than once a week. When she and Fernando were engaged but living on different continents the telephone bills were always in the hundreds of dollars. Today, we can call whenever and for however long we want for $24.95 a month with Vonage, and the connection is so crystal clear most of the time that you would think they were right next door.
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Why am I still having communication problems, then? **Sigh** It’s my little Katie. Bless her little heart! Every time I get on the phone with her I feel so dissatisfied when I hang up. I adore hearing her sweet little voice, but it’s difficult to understand her sometimes. Don’t get me wrong—she talks just fine. She’s smart and has no speech problems. I don’t know if it’s because she puts her mouth too close to the mouthpiece, or what, but a lot of times she seems a little—or a lot—garbled.
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Other times she’s too far away from the mouthpiece! “I’m putting you on speakerphone, Grandma!” she’ll say, and the next thing I know she’s running around the room, playing with toys and totally distracted from what she’s supposed to be doing—talking to her grandma! I’m either straining to hear her, or I’m saying, “Katie? Katie? Are you there?”
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She did it to me again last night. “I’m putting you on speakerphone, Grandma!”
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“No, Katie, don’t do that. I can’t understand you then.”
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“But Grandma, I can’t hear you if I don’t put you on speakerphone.” Maybe if she moved the receiver off her mouth and more toward her ear we’d get somewhere. **Sigh**
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Then there are the times she gets all excited and she’s going on and on, waving her hands and giggling and talking about something she assumes I know all about, but in reality I don’t have a clue what that child is talking about! She must think her grandma is a total dunce, always asking, “What? What?” The poor little thing was totally frustrated when they got to Ecuador and everyone around her spoke Spanish. She didn’t understand them and they didn’t understand her. Then even her English-speaking grandma, with whom she had always been so close, didn’t understand her, either! Pobrecita!
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And don’t even get me started on trying to talk to Matthew! He loves, loves, loves talking to Grandma on the telephone. If he knows one of them is talking to me, he’s right there yelling, “I talk! I talk!” until they put him on the phone and then—total silence. Oh, they tell me he is nodding and grinning from ear to ear, hugging the phone and giving it kisses. (Sweeeeeeet!!!) But for someone who so loudly demands his turn to talk, he has very little to say. Well, until this week. Suddenly he’s decided he really will talk to Grandma—and I swear that child is speaking in tongues! Here we go again. Grandma is an idiot. “What? What? I don’t understand! What?”
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There is one thing I do understand, though. When I hear that little voice say, “Wuv you, Grandma!”, I understand. When Katie says, “I love you and miss you so, so, so, so, so much, Grandma!” it comes through loud and clear. I can hardly wait to get there and be able to put my arms around them, hold them in my lap and talk with them face to face!
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The good news is, as long as sin does not stand between us and the Lord, the lines of communication are crystal clear between us and our Heavenly Father. God has given us the gift of prayer. We can come to Him at any time and talk to our Father whenever and for however long we want to. The good news is also that He understands. My childish ramblings, when I don’t know how or what to pray—He understands. He forgives my distractions. He loves hearing from me. He loves hearing me say, “I love you, Lord, soooooooooo much!”
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He hears our prayers: “…He heareth the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29
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He wants us to come as His children: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.” Matthew 6:9
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He delights in our prayers: “…the prayer of the upright is His delight.” Proverbs 15:8
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He helps us to pray: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26
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He wants us to leave our cares with Him: “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6,7
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He answers our prayers: “Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in Thy faithfulness answer me, and in Thy righteousness.” Psalm 143:1
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I would be a fool not to take advantage of the low rates and new technology we have available to us today to speak with my loved ones on the other side of the country or the world whenever I want to. How much greater is the free gift of prayer, and yet, so often we neglect to approach the throne of glory, our Father’s knee, and just talk with Him. Precious, awesome gift of communication with our Creator, Savior, Father—keep the lines open.
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‘ROUND AND ‘ROUND WE GO

I’ve been spending a lot of time this week working on a new book for Melissa. I love writing for the kids, so this is happy, creative time for me—once I get a good outline in my head for the plot, that is. Until then, I feel like I am spinning my wheels. I may have a general idea on what I want the book to be about, and I’ll start out tentatively laying the groundwork, but that first chapter or two is usually slow-going and sometimes I feel like I’m up against a brick wall. Finally, though, something will spark my imagination, and suddenly the ideas will begin to flow, the plot will unfold and I’m off on another adventure with the Twinkie Winklers or Kristi Cameron, Noble Heart or the Pickle People!
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It always amazes me how the story almost writes itself sometimes. It takes twists and turns I did not foresee, and rarely does it turn out to be the same story I intended to write at the beginning. I look forward to seeing how it will end as much as the children do! Once I get going, I kind of get lost in the story and leave a little bit of the real world behind me. The characters are carrying on conversations in my head. I wake up with them on my mind and I see little things that happen sometimes through the eyes of my characters. Scary, huh?
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The book I’m currently working on is a Twinkie Winkler Mystery called “The Clue in the Curious Carousel.” It is set in a nifty little place called Clown Town, where circus, carnival, amusement park, clown school and circus museum are all rolled into one. I’ve been doing some research this week into circus history and memorabilia, clowns, carnival rides, sideshows, magic tricks, circus acts and so on. In particular, I’ve been reading up on the history and making of carousels, since much of the mystery in my story centers around an antique miniature carousel and the life-sized one that is its replica.
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I won’t go into a lot of detail here about the history of carousels except to mention a few interesting facts: The word carousel comes from the Italian and Spanish words garosello and carosella which mean “little war.” It stems from the 1100’s when Crusaders brought an Arabian and Turkish war game back to Europe where it became over time an elaborate show of horsemanship called carrousel by the French. Six hundred years later a training device for this contest was invented that consisted of carved wooden horses hung by chains that radiated out from a center pole. The young knights-in-training would ride the horses and practice spearing a ring that hung from a nearby branch or pole. By the late 1700’s this early carousel had spread throughout Europe solely for amusement. It was moved by man, mule or horsepower, so it was small and lightweight.
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With the invention of the steam engine, the large, elaborate carousels we are familiar with became possible. The Golden Age of the carousel in America was from the 1860’s to the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Carousels became extravagant creations of art with beautifully carved horses, chariots and a rich variety of other animals. Many of the carousels were lost during the Depression when they were destroyed or dismantled. Later as the economy and technology improved they were not replaced by the labor-intensive carved carousels of the past but with cast aluminum or fiberglass. Technology also made newer, more thrilling amusement rides possible and the carousel went from being the centerpiece of the park to merely a “children’s ride.”
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Of course, all this research had me thinking about carousels and how they relate to life in general. (You know by now that that is how my mind works.) We all love to ride the carousel, or merry-go-round as we call them now. It’s pretty and cheerful. The music is bright and catchy. The ride itself is simple—‘round and ‘round and up and down at a nice easy speed. It’s the first ride we take our babies on. As we become older it is a sentimental favorite, not because it is thrilling, but because it is a familiar part of our past. As for how the carousel relates to life—well, that’s where the problem is.
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‘Round and ‘round and up and down—you’re moving, but getting nowhere! You get off right where you began! Don’t you sometimes feel like there are periods in your life when that is how it goes? You keep moving, but sometimes you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. Day in and day out, life goes on the same. Your life is just about the same this year as it was last year and the year before that. Our children are growing and changing, but where is the growth in our own lives (other than around the middle)? Time marches on and takes us with it, but progress and success sometimes seem elusive.
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There was a song back in the Sixties when I was a teenager called “The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell. The chorus went:

The seasons, they go round and round,

And the painted ponies go up and down.
We’re captive on the carousel of time.
We can’t return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.

Time. Our lives are a mere vapor, the Bible tells us. “For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14) The Lord tells us not to take the days of life that we have lightly. Psalm 90:12 says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” When time seems to be flying and we are going nowhere, maybe it is time we get up off the couch and do something about it. Learn something new. Help someone else. Make our lives count in tangible ways in our families, churches and communities. Success may not mean a bigger paycheck, but it may be reflected in a life that we touch or in our own personal growth.
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Spiritually, we are to be making the most of the time the Lord gives us on this carousel we call Earth. The Bible also tells us to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16) Colossians 4:5 tells us to “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” We do not know how long our ride will last. It is a matter of obedience to make the most of our life and time here to bring glory to God and do His will.
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How do we redeem our time? One of the interesting things I discovered about carousels this week is that there are four basic poses of the ponies on a merry-go-round. There is the Stander. He has three or four feet on the ground. The Prancer has just his two back feet on the ground as he paws the air with his front feet. The Jumper is in midair with all four feet of the ground, and the Star-gazer is positioned so that his head is looking skyward. These four pony poses made me think of the positions we as believers ought to take as we go around on our carousel of time:
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Like the Stander we must stand fast in the faith. I Corinthians 16:13 says, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” The NASV says it like this: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” We must be grounded in doctrine, wise and understanding of God’s Word.
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The Prancer appears to me to be bold and eager. We ought to be just as bold and eager to share the Gospel, and zealous for the Lord. Ephesians 6:19 says,”…that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.” Live boldly in Christ, unafraid to share the Gospel. Paul said in Philippians 1:14, “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”
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The Jumper is literally flying around that carousel! So ought we to run the race with all our might, living to bring glory to God and do His will until He takes us home. “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain…” (I Corinthians: 9:24)
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And then there is the Star-gazer. Like him, I want to be always watching and looking to Heaven, expectant and eager for the return of Jesus Christ to earth. “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Matthew 24:42) When we are truly expecting His return at any moment we will live like we do, and be more aware of the urgency of sharing the Good News with others.
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The carousel of our lives and time may be going ‘round and ‘round but that is not an excuse for us to be going nowhere. Let us be conscious of the days that are slipping by and make them count for the Lord. Stand firm. Be bold. Run the race. Watch for His coming. Life is a merry-go-round. Enjoy the ride!

IS YOUR HEART IN THE RIGHT PLACE?

My calendar for the month of August is filled up with doctors’ appointments, tests, labwork and all that “fun” stuff. Yuck! I have never been someone who runs to the doctor much, especially for myself, so all this attention focused on me and my health does not make me a happy camper. I guess it comes with the territory when one starts to get older and I’d better get used to it, because it probably won’t get much better.
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Apparently my stress test a couple weeks ago sent up a little red flag that there might be something to look at further, so the doctor sent me to get a 2-D EKG this week. It turns out that a 2-D EKG is nothing more than an ultrasound of the heart, just like an ultrasound a pregnant woman would have of her baby. It was interesting to watch my heart just pumping away throughout the test. The technician who did it was somewhat chatty. He talked about the test, my surgeon, other surgeons, and so on. Finally he said something that really caught my attention.
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“I see your heart is in the right place.”
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“Uh – excuse me?”
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“Your heart hasn’t moved. It’s right where it should be.” He went on to explain, “A lot of times when a person has heart surgery like you did, his or her heart will shift a bit. Many times it tips downward slightly, but your heart is in the right place.”
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I thought that was very interesting, and whoo-hoo – at least my heart is where it’s supposed to be, if nothing else!
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His words came back to me a few days later. It’s a good thing when your heart is in the right place physically, but to tell the truth, I had never imagined it would not be in the right place! The fact that we can now do an ultrasound on the heart and see things like that is amazing, isn’t it?
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It’s too bad we can’t run a test on our hearts and see if our hearts are in the right place spiritually, as well. I think those of us who have been saved for many years become complacent sometimes and figure that since we were born again, our hearts were cleansed and Christ dwells within, and we are just fine. We may feel fine, we may look fine to those around us, but God, who looks upon the heart, like that ultrasound machine, may detect that all is not well; that something has shifted.
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We may walk around with plaque slowly building up in our arteries over the years, and have no idea that we have heart disease until one day – wham! We’re hit with a heart attack. In the same manner, many of us go for years, living the Christian life, serving the Lord even, and not realizing that over time something has changed. We don’t have quite the same fervency and zeal that we had when we were first saved. Our values have become a little looser compared to what they once were, our standards perhaps a little lower. What once we would never have been caught dead reading or watching or doing, now has little impact because we have become accustomed to it, maybe even hardened to it. We are not looking for Christ’s return with the same eager expectancy we once had; we’re a little lazy when it comes to doing what we know we ought to be doing. We realize that some things in our lives have become more important to us than they should be, but we shrug our shoulders and go on the way we have for years. We neglect prayer and time in the Word of God.
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When was the last time our hearts had a true revival and became on fire for the Lord? When was the last time we broken-heartedly confessed to the Lord that we had let sin stand between us and Him? When was the last time we wept for the unsaved around us and then actually reached out to them with God’s plan for salvation? Something has shifted. Plaque is building up and we have heart disease.
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The Bible has a huge amount to say about the heart, and we can only touch upon a few verses right now, but first of all, it tells us that there is no hiding our true heart condition from the Lord. We may fool others; we may even have ourselves fooled, but I Samuel 16:7 tells us, “the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” He is the EKG, the ultrasound, the CAT scan of our spiritual heart condition with one difference—He doesn’t miss a thing. Those machines may not catch a small problem, but God sees it all.
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Several things happened to our hearts at the moment we accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior. First of all, our hearts believed. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10) Our hearts were no longer blinded to the truth then but became enlightened. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthians 4:6) Jesus came into our hearts and dwells in us once we trust in Him. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;” (Ephesians 3:17) Our hearts are established blameless before God. “To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (I Thessalonians 3:13)
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Although our hearts are established for eternity blameless before God through the blood of Christ, we still sin and we still need daily cleansing from our sins if we truly want to walk and fellowship with Him. David, who God Himself said was a man after His own heart, sinned and needed to repent. In Psalm 51:10 David says, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” He went on to say in verse 17, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Because David humbled his heart, the Lord heard him and fellowship was restored. II Kings 22:19 says, “Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD…I also have heard thee, saith the LORD.” Our humble prayers and hiding God’s Word in our hearts are essential to healthy hearts before the Lord. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

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The Lord shares the characteristics of a healthy heart in His Word. A healthy heart spiritually is one that is:

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Pure “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
Soft“Today, after so long a time; as it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.“ (Hebrews 4:7)
True“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Obedient“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Romans 6:17) “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:8)
Trusting“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) “He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the LORD.” (Psalm 112:7)
Devoted“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” (Mark 12:30) “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart.” (Psalm 119:2) “With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.” (Psalm 119:10)
Wise and Understanding“My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine.” (Psalm 90:12) “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding.” (Proverbs 2:2)
Receptive“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God…But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:11, 15)
Generous“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:7)
Loving“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” (I Peter 1:22) “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5)
Expectant“And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.” (II Thessalonians 3:5) “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:8)
United“And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.” (Acts 4:32)
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When our hearts are in the right place, we will reap the benefits. Once I recovered from my heart surgery, it was wonderful how much stronger and better I felt compared to how I was feeling when my heart was trying to work with all those blockages. Some of the benefits of a healthy heart spiritually are:

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Peace“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
Joy“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psalm 28:7)
Praise“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:19)
Strength and Courage“Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (Psalm 27:14)
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No matter how long we have been saved, no matter how spiritually “mature” we are, no matter how active we are for the Lord, we need to stop and do a heart check. Do I have the characteristics of a healthy heart? Am I reaping the benefits of a healthy heart? Is there something coming between my heart and the Lord? Has my heart for the Lord slowed down over time?

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Is my heart in the right place?

FOLLOW-UP TO "YOU HAVE TO STAND UP"

I just finished writing to both my senators, the congressman from our district, and the White House. Only one of them is a conservative like me, so the others probably won’t even read what I wrote, but at least I spoke my piece. You have to use the “official” e-mail forms to e-mail any of them, but it was fine. I wrote my letter out first and then copied and pasted it into the forms, making whatever changes were needed. The e-mail form for my representative would not work, and I’ll bet anything it was deliberately disbled. He’s the one that locked hundreds of conservatives out of his townhall meeting and he’s probably hearing from a lot of angry people. I kept my tone very respectful and calm, but very concerned. It probably won’t do much, but at least my voice is another one counted on the conservative side!

YOU HAVE TO STAND UP

Why is it, whenever I have a song stuck in my head, it is always something weird? This week it’s a VeggieTales song. Now, if you know anything at all about VeggieTales you know that they are almost always weird—but I mean that in the nicest way! The tunes are catchy and diverse in styles. The lyrics are silly and so very clever at the same time that kids and grown-ups alike can appreciate them and sing along. I mean, who could ever forget “God is Bigger than the Boogie Man” or “Oh, Where Is My Hairbrush?”; “I Love My Lips” or “The Pirates Who Don’t Do Anything”? If you’ve ever watched a VeggieTales video, movie or TV show, you know how entertaining and colorful these characters are—and how they always have a lesson to teach about a Biblical principle or moral dilemma. The mission statement of Big Idea, the company that produces VeggieTales, in fact, is: “To enhance the spiritual and moral fabric of society through creative media.” VeggieTales has progressively made its mark and gained in popularity, not only in church circles, but in the secular world, as well.
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Robbie has quite a few of the VeggieTales music DVDs and we’ve been listening to them this week. One of the songs in particular has been running through my mind the last few days, and I’ve caught myself countless times humming, singing and whistling it to the point of distraction! It’s called “Stand Up.” It’s a nice song, but it’s not really one of my favorites, so I was puzzled for a while as to why I had fixated on it so. The chorus goes:
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Oh, you have to stand! (Stand up, stand up)
For what you believe in, believe in, believe in!
God (He’s the one to back you up)
Will stand with you!
He’ll stand with you!
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I finally realized why that song had stuck, and that reason is what I am writing about this week. I really struggled with it, because I don’t want to write on this topic. I don’t like controversy and I hate being stuck in confrontations, especially among the people that I love. Past experience tells me that nothing stirs more heated debate than talking politics, and I prefer peace and avoiding the anger and hurt feelings that some political conversations bring about when two sides of a hot topic are being argued.
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Don’t get me wrong. I am a woman of strong convictions. I do not hesitate to stand for my convictions and principles when it comes to spiritual matters and I would never back down from an opportunity to speak out for the Lord or share the truth of God’s Word, no matter what the consequences might be. As believers, it is our responsibility and duty to do so. Our faith, our love for Him and our desire to be obedient to Him ought to make this easy for us and a natural thing to do.
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I have equally strong convictions when it comes to political matters, but I have not been quite so vocal in some of those areas. Oh, there are some issues, such as abortion and homosexuality, that I believe are so morally wrong and such an abomination to God and against His Word, that as a Christian I cannot sit back and be silent. But when it comes to getting embroiled in political debates, becoming involved in political activism or even voicing an opinion on the family website, I’ve kind of taken a back seat. Oh, I do my duty and vote, and I’ve made a vow that I would never knowingly vote for someone who is pro-abortion, no matter where they stood on any other issue. Bob and I talk politics all the time, or I’ll join in when it is with others who I know are of like-mind, but when it comes to really being involved in politics, well I’m afraid I’ve been a part of the “silent majority.”
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The events of the last few weeks and months, though, have convinced me that it is time for the “silent majority,” including myself, to be silent no more. It is time to take a stand, to voice our concerns and to move to protect our nation from the efforts that are being made from the inside to strip away our freedoms, corrupt our democracy and take us down a path to socialism, huge government, financial bankruptcy, and even atheism.
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It has upset me greatly that those ordinary people like ourselves who have made the effort already to speak out against the liberal policies that are being forced down our throats have been called “the angry mob,” and “Nazis,” and “racists,” and “unpatriotic, ignorant, nuts.” Whatever happened to free speech, when it was the right of every American to voice his concerns or opinions—or is that a right that is only reserved for liberals? Goodness knows, they have certainly exercised that right over the years time and time again and though we may not have liked what they said, we have defended their right to free speech. Now, though, when the silent majority has finally found its voice, we are being told to sit down and shut up. Hundreds are being locked out of town hall meetings, as just happened a few days ago in our own congressman’s district. The administration has asked that the names of those who are speaking “fishy” about the President’s health plan to be turned in to the White House. What??? Since when has the White House been turned into KGB headquarters?
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Efforts are being made to write into law measures that would strip us of our religious freedoms; that would try to stifle the more conservative media; that would tear down our rights to life itself. The unborn, the old, the disabled are of no benefit to society, in fact are a drain on society, we are told, so why keep them around? It is frightening to see how quickly we are racing toward something we only imagined could happen in works of fiction or in totalitarian states. It almost seems that our country is deliberately and methodically being destroyed from the inside out, and that if something doesn’t change, if true patriots do not take a stand and fight back, we will not even recognize the United States of America in a few years.
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That simple little kids’ song reminded me this week that we have to stand up for what we believe in! I was annoyed that I couldn’t get it out of my head. I don’t want to be stirred from my comfort zone, to face confrontations and take a public stand. I cannot back down from what I know is right, though. God has graciously put us in a country that was founded on Biblical principles and given us the freedoms to hear and share His Word, to live freely as believers and to spread the Gospel throughout the world. It is our responsibility to protect those freedoms as much as we are able so that His work might not be hindered. We, as Christians, are the light and salt in a dark, sinful world. (Matthew 5:13-16) We must be a testimony to the world for Him. We have the same duty as believing Americans to stand for truth and justice and freedom if we want to continue to worship and live freely as we have for the last 233 years.
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The Bible tells us that all governments and rulers are ordained and established by God for His purposes, whether they follow Him or not. Often nations and their rulers have been used by Him to bring judgment, or to move events according to His will. Colossians 1:16, 17 tells us, “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
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The Bible also tells us in Romans 13:1-7, “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you. The authorities are God’s servants, sent for your good. But if you are doing wrong, of course you should be afraid, for they have the power to punish you. They are God’s servants, sent for the very purpose of punishing those who do what is wrong. So you must submit to them, not only to avoid punishment, but also to keep a clear conscience. Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority.” (NLT) We are to obey the law and those in authority over us and pay our taxes for, according to this passage, when we do not we are rebelling against God.
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How then do we reconcile this submission to authority and the call to stand up for our freedoms when our government seems to be slip-sliding away out of the control of the people and into a future that does not bode well for our nation as the land of the free and the home of the brave? The first thing to remember is that we are to obey the law. We have every right to speak out, to gather together peacefully, to do everything in our power try to prevent laws from being made that we believe are harmful to our nation, as long as we do not break the law while we are doing so. Romans 12:18, 19 says, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” We should make our voices heard, but peacefully and respectfully.
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There may come a time when man’s law conflicts with God’s law, as in Daniel 3 when three young men named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were forced to choose which they would obey. Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of himself of gold and decreed that all fall down and worship it. To disobey meant death in a fiery furnace. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to break God’s commandment and would not worship the idol. You know the rest of the story—they were thrown into the furnace, but the Lord walked with them and they were brought forth alive and unhurt. The Lord honored their obedience to Him and glory was given to God throughout the land.
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Acts 5 gives the account of Peter and the other apostles who preached Jesus in the temple, after being warned by the high priest and Sadducees not to. They were thrown into prison, but when the angel of the Lord freed them from prison, they went right back to proclaiming the Gospel in the temple. Once more they were brought before the authorities. “And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men…and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (vs 27-29, 40-42)
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These incidents reveal that there are times we may disregard man’s law when it is in direct disobedience to God’s clear commandments. We are not to worship anyone or anything but God. We are commanded to preach the gospel throughout the world. But the Bible is very clear that we are to exercise civil obedience in most areas, and I would argue that, taking it a step further, as Christians we should maintain a good testimony and be peaceable and respectful in our speech and actions.
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This is certainly not the administration I would have chosen, but we know from God’s Word it is the one He chose for our nation at this time. Whether it is to be the beginning of judgment upon America for the way she has strayed from her early foundations, or the beginning perhaps of a great revival as we hit bottom and have nowhere else to look for help but to Him, remains to be seen. God has His purposes in allowing this and they are right. I do believe, though, that He expects us to stand for righteousness and to speak out. Many times the prophets in the Old Testament stood before the king and spoke the truth and against their rulers sinful actions regardless of the consequences to themselves.
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It is time for us to stand up and be counted, to speak out, to be silent no more if we value this nation with which we have been blessed. My first order of business this week is to write both my senators and the congressman from my district and make my voice heard. If we continue to be the silent majority, we are surely going to lose much of what we hold dear. I owe it to my children and grandchildren to at least make some effort to preserve the freedoms that we have. If our military men and women are willing to put their lives on the line for those freedoms, the very least I can do is pick up a pen or a telephone and take a stand.
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If you, too, want to stand up for what you believe in, whether your views agree with mine or not, you can find the correct contact information for your US senator at www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml#fl or for your congressman at www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm You may also contact the White House itself at www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/ or by writing to The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500; Phone Numbers: Comments: 202-456-1111, Switchboard: 202-456-1414, FAX: 202-456-2461
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Oh, you have to stand! (Stand up, stand up)
For what you believe in, believe in, believe in!
God (He’s the one to back you up)
Will stand with you!
He’ll stand with you!

WEDDED BLISS

Yesterday was our thirty-ninth wedding anniversary! How can that be??? Am I really that old? Well…yes! It’s true; we were young when we married. I was eighteen and Bob was nineteen, but after nearly four decades, three children, eight grandchildren, and a host of blessings, joys, testings and trials over the years, a lot of water has gone under the bridge.
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My grandparents were married forty-six years before my grandpa passed away. I remember breathing a sigh of relief when my parents made it past that point. They celebrated their fifty-third anniversary before my dad went home to be with the Lord. I don’t know how many more years God will give Bob and me together, but I praise Him for the lifetime we have already shared. As Bob likes to say, “It’s been a lo-o-o-o-ng thirty-nine years!”
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I was being facetious, of course, when I called this “Wedded Bliss.” It hasn’t all been bliss along the way. We’ve had our share of struggles. I was about to say, “more than our share of struggles” but, no—they were exactly the obstacles, hardships, trials and sorrows the Lord knew we needed to mold us into the people He wanted us to be. Many of these problems were totally out of our control; some of them were brought about by others; many of them we brought upon ourselves. There have been physical challenges, financial hardships, spiritual slumps, relationship struggles, worries about our kids, job upheaval, people problems, emotional distress, and uncertainty as to the direction we should go at times. Each of these can bring stress into a marriage, and being human beings, there have been times when we have fallen, but somehow, with God’s help, we have survived and faced these things together.
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We go through seasons in our lives. That newlywed, young-married, starting-a-family period is our springtime. Love is in the air! New life is beginning. We are young and energetic, eager to embark on life and this new adventure called marriage, and looking forward to our happily-ever-after. Then comes the summertime. Raising our children; establishing our homes and careers and place in the community; having our day in the sun, so to speak. Along comes autumn, and we walk hand-in-hand, a couple once more as our children have moved on to start their own lives, as comfortable together as a cozy pair of old slippers. And then there is the winter of our lives, when the winds begin to blow and the ground beneath our feet is slippery, but we hold one another up and, warm and secure in a lifetime of togetherness, we face the cold realities of life.
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Quite the rosy picture, isn’t it? Ahh, wouldn’t it be wonderful if life and marriage were really as simple as that! We all know the truth, though – each of these seasons has its own share of struggles and problems. Marriage is not a walk in the park. It takes total commitment, unselfishness, love, faith, trust, respect, an ability to forgive, a sense of humor, and plain old hard work all the way through to make it from “I do” until “death do us part.” Most of all, for the Christian, it means depending on God for the strength and grace to have all these characteristics because, in all honesty, it isn’t always easy.
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There are times when my husband drives me a little crazy. There are many times when I fail him. We’ve had rocky times in our marriage two or three times in the last thirty-nine years. It is difficult for me to admit that, but praise the Lord, He helped us through them, and we have emerged stronger and more in love because of the storms we have walked through together. I know I can depend on Bob. He is always behind me, supporting and encouraging and doing his best for us. Bob knows when he comes home he has a soft place to land, someone who understands and loves him and listens. There is a constancy and trust between us that has grown stronger through the years as we have worked together and weathered whatever life has thrown at us. The card he gave me yesterday probably says it best: “Love is the reassurance that someone who understands you will be there at the end of the day. Love is the security of knowing your good qualities are appreciated and your faults forgiven. Love is the joy of giving your best to another person and receiving much more in return.”
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We are in the autumn of our lives now. I’m not the pretty, young “chick” with the long blonde hair he remembers from that first blind date anymore. What I lack in youth and looks and energy, though, I hope I make up for with a little more wisdom and patience. Bob has not changed much over the years, but perhaps my perception of him has. As I have witnessed his faithfulness to the Lord, me and our family; his strength and determination; and his genuine goodness and generosity, it has made me love him more and more.
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I was teasing him yesterday and happily sharing some of the verses I found in the Bible about wives – and what a treasure a good wife is! Proverbs, especially has a lot to say about wives – and why not? After all, King Solomon, who wrote most of the Proverbs, had 700 wives, so he should know!
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Proverbs 5:18 “Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.” Bob always calls me “the wife of his youth.” I don’t know if that’s a reminder to himself that he has to love me because God said so, or if it’s to differentiate me from the other wife he has hidden away somewhere! (Just kidding, of course!)
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Proverbs 12:4 “A worthy wife is a crown for her husband.” (Big smile!)
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Proverbs 18:22 “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure, and he receives favor from the Lord.”
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Proverbs 19:14 “Fathers can give their sons an inheritance of houses and wealth, but only the Lord can give an understanding wife.” (Bob, you are so blessed!)
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Proverbs 31:10-12, 28-29 “Who can find a virtuous and capable wife? She is more precious than rubies. Her husband can trust her, and she will greatly enrich his life. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: ‘There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!’” (Really, really blessed!)
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And for good measure, a verse from Ecclesiastes, also written by Solomon: “Live happily with the woman you love through all the meaningless days of life that God has given you under the sun. The wife God gives you is your reward for all your earthly toil.” Ecclesiastes 9:9
(So there, Bob – you have your reward!)
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Boy, I love reading those verses! Of course, he could have come back with several more selections from Proverbs – although he graciously refrained.
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Proverbs 21:9 “It’s better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome wife in a lovely home.”
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Proverbs 21:19 “It’s better to live alone in the desert than with a quarrelsome, complaining wife. [!]
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Proverbs 27:15 “A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping on a rainy day.”
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We sure haven’t “arrived” at that place where we can say we have the perfect marriage. We still have our spats from time to time. We still act immaturely and selfishly and let our mouths and pride get the best of us. Until the day God takes one of us home, we will have to work at this thing called marriage. It is worth it, though. Marriage is the very first institution God ordained on this earth, and the picture of Christ and His Bride, the church. It is a gift from God to help us through this life. Let us treasure it while we have it. It is not all bliss, to be sure, but it is one of God’s best blessings!