Saturday, April 30, 2011

David, A Man After God's Heart

Max Lucado's latest book is entitled Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference.  With David Wilkerson's passing from this world to Heaven, Max's latest writing seems to be so more relevant.  David Wilkerson was a man who has outlived his own life, and he definitely made a difference - all over this planet.

The ministries, church, programs this man created in his 60 years of ministries are numerous throughout the world. His church changed the Times Square area of New  York City. He was a man truly after the salvation of very lost souls. He has authored many books. I recommend you read The Cross and the Switchblade or watch the movie.  It was David's story of coming to New York City as a young preacher and reaching out to gang members. David's response to the head gang member who threatened his life was, "You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you."  David has been Nicky Cruz's friend ever since.

I have been receiving his free monthly newsletter for almost 20 years.  Monthly, my spiritual life was impacted.  Monthly, my soul would sigh because David spoke directly to me.  I am, in part, who I am because of the life's work of David Wilkerson.  His faith and his love for the unlovable ones has helped shaped some of the things that I have accomplished in my own life.

I recommend you go to www.worldchallenge.org and read Remembering David Wilkerson written by his son, Gary.  It's a beautiful tribute to a great man of God and an incredible human being.  His memorial service will be streamed live on the World Challenge website on Saturday, May 14th @ 2 PM.

David, I'm happy for you, as you are now face-to-face with your Beloved Jesus. Thank you for being an example to me of a true shepherd, true disciple of Jesus Christ, and a true man of God. Thank you for making a difference in my life and countless, countless others on this planet.  You will be outlived and what a glorious tribute to Jesus Christ that is!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grace...Truly Amazing Grace!

God's Grace is God's unmerited favor, love, kindness, and forgiveness.  There is nothing we can do to gain His Grace in our lives.  It truly is a gift, because when we least deserve it, God pours it out to us.

Peter was a recipient of God's amazing Grace.  On the night Jesus Christ was arrested, three times Peter denied knowing The Son of God.  After Jesus looked him in the eyes, Peter ran and "wept bitterly".  He didn't just weep silently for a moment, a man-kind of cry.  He wailed, openly and violently, and probably for quite some time.  He was in agony over the fact that he had just denied The Christ, when he never thought he could ever do such a thing.  Peter was full of guilt and shame. His pride was broken. Those bitter tears were wails of repentance. But, I'm sure Peter didn't let himself off the hook too easily.  He wasn't ready to forgive himself. Somehow or another, wallowing made him feel a little better, because he deserved no more than that.

In the days that followed, a dejected Peter went back to his old way of life of that of a fisherman.  Trying to forget the last three-and-a-half years of his life - as one discipled by the Master, Himself - Peter tried to put all that behind him because now he only saw himself as a failure when it came to Jesus.  He went back to the only thing he felt worthy to do - fishing. The realization of his failures changed him.  He no longer saw himself as a faith-filled Follower of Christ; as the one who would die for Him.  He was guilt-ridden and full of self-loathing.   I'm sure Peter had thought, "If only I could have one more chance..."

Meanwhile, Jesus appears to the women and tells them to tell the others, and Peter, that they will see Him. He named Peter specifically because Jesus knew Peter's suffering - of his self-loathing, of the other disciples' gossip, and the condemnation that Satan was bringing - could only be healed by a face-to-face encounter with God's Grace.

Jesus appears on the beach.  When told of it, Peter dives off his fishing boat and swims to the shore where he finds Jesus sitting by a fire.  By a fire, Peter had denied the Son of God.  Now here again, by a fire, The Son of God reaches out to him. For the three times Peter denied knowing Jesus, Jesus asks him if he loves Him.  Three times Peter answers the question with his declaration of love.  His three-time-declaration-moment replaced his three-time-denial-moment.  God's favor, love, kindness, and forgiveness hit Peter right in his heart.  Healing and freedom from guilt and condemnation came as he declared his heart.  In that moment, Peter's soul experienced The Resurrection and The Life.  Jesus was giving him a second chance.

That is what Grace is all about - second chances.  Peter went from a loathsome denier to a hero of an apostle, who was a powerful, anointed preacher of God's Word, author of two Epistles, and one through whom many miracles were wrought.  Grace allowed him to forgive himself, hold his head up high, and continue to walk in God's calling.

Hallelujah for God's amazing Grace!  It's a life-changer, in the most positive sense. I know. I've been a recipient, as well.  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hallelujah!

Well, it's Sunday - Resurrection Sunday.  The day we celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ's victory over death.  My Sunday Song this moring is the Hallelujah Chorus.  How can you not sing on this glorious day?

When I was in the 6th grade I was a member of the chorus in our school.  For Passover/Easter we performed the Hallelujah Chorus.  Singing this majestic hymn had a profound impact on me spiritually. During rehearsals and the performances our Jewish chorus teacher/conductor would be so emotional, he would weep. Therefore, I was not ashamed of my tears either.

Hallelujah!  Our Lord Jesus Christ is risen!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Sunday's On the Way!

On Friday night they crucified Christ on that tree; but He said, "Don't worry, three days later I'll live again - you'll see!"  When problems try to bury you, make it hard to pray, may seem like Friday night, but Sunday's on the way!  ~ chorus to Sunday's On the Way by Carmen
It may seem like a god-awful time in your life (Friday night), but be encouraged: Sunday (your resurrection day) is on the way!!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

No Ordinary Friday

I awoke this morning with thanksgiving on my lips for all Jesus Christ has done for me.  Today is Good Friday.  It's on this day, we recognize His brutal torture and agonizing death on the cross.  Being put to death on a cross was so inhumane that Roman citizens were exempt from the cross as a death sentence.  But, there He willingly hung.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, for being wounded for my transgressions, bruised for my iniquities, that You took chastisement for my peace, and that by the very stripes of ripped flesh on Your Body, I am healed.  (Isaiah 53)

Thank You, thank You, thank You!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Holy Thursday

Today is "Holy Thursday".  The day in which our Lord Jesus Christ made His entry into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Arriving, He was being hailed King.  The streets were lined with supporters and the shouts of praises were deafening. It was on this the day that Jesus instituted what we now call The Last Supper, serving His 12 Disciples - His most trusted, beloved friends - for the very last time.

Afterward, Jesus spent many hours in the fiercest battle of his Life.  He went to The Garden of Gethsemane to pray. He was in complete agony thinking and praying about what His Father was asking Him to do (to be crucified - the most physically painful means of torture).  Jesus asked His Father if there was any other way for God's plan to succeed without Jesus' having to be tortured. In an anguish beyond comprehension, Jesus Christ sweat drops of blood.  Finally, after hours of wrestling with what lie ahead, Jesus was able to say to His Father, "Not My will, but Your will be done." It took hours for Him to bow His heart in submission to His Father, and in those hours, He needed the support of His friends.  He had asked them to watch and pray for Him.  Three times He found asleep.  He was abandoned by those He loved and had poured His life into for three years.  In the hours that He needed them most, Jesus was left all alone.

Then Judas, one of His Beloved 12, leads the procession to have Him arrested.  Judas not only pointed out who Jesus was, his "signal" to the guards would be a kiss.  Judas walks over to Jesus and kissed him. Once a sign of affection, it now become a sign of betrayal.  As they bound Jesus and took Him away, His friends scattered to wind - abandoned again by those He would entrust the spreading of The Gospel to.  All alone.  I'm sure this was a nighttime of the soul like no one had ever experienced before.

This was "Holy Thursday"...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Digger of My Soul

My in-ground sprinklers weren't working properly, so yesterday we had someone come and check them out.  It turns out a pipe, under last-year's-newly-installed fence post, was broke. Paul had to go on his knees and dig away the earth from around the concreate surrounding the fence post to locate the problem. He dug and dug until he found the actual broken pipe and then he repaired it.

I realize I'm not one to dig and dig.  I'm very results oriented.  I like to know the conclusion to matters. I read magazines from the back cover forward, I read the last few pages of a book before deciding to read it.  When watching a TV show - Dancing with the Stars for example - recorded on our Tivo, I just want to fast forward to the end. Tell me who got voted off!  Not that I don't thoroughly enjoy the show, because I do.  I just need to know the end result. That drives my husband crazy. It's strange, but I seem to be this way about most things, except when it comes to me, personally.

I have always allowed The Holy Spirit to dig up the fallow ground of my heart. I love the fact that He can go into my past and show me things or heal me of inner wounds.  He has dug deep into my soul, where no man would dare to go.
 Deep calls unto deep...Psalm 42:7 
Maybe because God is The One digging and I just benefit from the end result, that I am so willing for the depth of God's Heart to call unto my own.  He digs up the grubs and roots of trauma and He doesn't ever quit until there are beautiful "flowers" growing in that once ugly and broken place.

I am grateful for the broken sprinkler pipe as it reminded me of all the digging, plowing, and planting The Lord has done in my life. He truly has been the Repairer of the breachs within me. Hallelujah!


                                    

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spirit

It is with great pleasure that I have my first guest author.  I met Rosemary Piacenti at a writer's class I took at the library.  When Rosemary read her piece in our class, I knew that I wanted to share it.  She graciously accepted my invitation.  Unfortunately, you don't get to hear her read her essay.  It was a blessing for me to actually listen to Rosemary's written words.  Thank you, Ro, for sharing you essay!

Here is Rosmary's piece entitled Spirit:

Spirit is that magical part of us or what I'd like to call "essence".  It is what drives us, holds us together, and connects us to each other and the world around us.

Every one's spirit is different.  Some people can walk in the room and instantly change the dynamics.  We often say that person has charisma. But, you've met them - they are alive, vibrant, and filled with verve that is electrifying.

There are some of us - others who like to keep our spirit in check.  Controlled.  Like an oyster protects its pearl.  We hide it, ignore it, and neglect it.  We fear it, for it leaves us vulnerable. But, each one of us has a magical, spiritual part that is brilliant.

This isn't an essay on faith, although people with strong faith tap into their spirit.  It comes from a strength that is not tangible or measurable.  It just is and can develop and blossom when nurtured.

Things have a spirit too.  There is a spirit in the mountains, the fields, the clouds, and the earth.  The Native Americans knew of this spirit.  They had a keen awareness of the spirit within themselves and within the earth around them. They knew to listen, watch, and hear the spiritual realm surrounding them.

Layers upon layers of civilization, acculturation, and domestication have encouraged us all to ignore the wellspring of this blessed gift.  It comes from our souls, it comes from our ancestors, and it comes from our genes.  But, how magnificent it could be if we were encouraged to nurture and develop it instead of stifling it.

We see glimpses of our spirit.  While we're driving somewhere and think about the time we tried skiing and kept sliding down on our butts, and start to laugh.  In the car, alone, our funny bone was tickled.  That was the spirit reminding us to relax and lighten up.  There was a mom who told me she was having a really bad day; everything was going wrong.  The kids were disagreeable, the washer broke, and the dog ate a frozen steak.  Well, by 3:00 she had had it!  She went to the cupboard to grab a shot of whiskey and wouldn't you know it, it spilled down the front of her shirt!  Maybe, that was the spirit saying, sit back, relax, and take some time.  My Grandma spent hours sitting at her front window restoring her spirit by watching the women sweep their steps, the kids play, and the men walk passed.

This winter was horrendous, some might say!  The cold, the snow...But, I like to look at it as the spirit of the seasons telling us to stay in and hunker down, spend time nurturing and connecting to those people and things that are important to you.  If it's fishing you love, crocheting, or writing, do it!  It connects you to your soul, your essence - to who you are spiritually meant to be - a person who notices the gifts, the smells, the colors, the fantasies, the textures, the sights, and the sounds of a living, vibrant world!

Women are often given credit for becoming more in tune with their spirit.  We are said to have "intuition".  There was a book about the celestial moment teaching that when you think of someone or something, you should act upon it.

Today, we hear more and more about meditation.  But, this is little more than giving time to your spirit.  Where is your favorite spot?  When do you give yourself time to do nothing?  It's not really doing nothing; it's giving time a voice to your inner self.

Take time to just be - to nurture your spirit.  It will change your life dramatically.  After all, what would an orange be, if it were just the pith and the peel?

copyright Rosemary Piacenti 2011
~~~


Rosemary Piacenti "is a graduate from Long Island University. I live happily in my home with two of my four children and husband of 29 years.  I am currently working as a family counselor, which is the most recent position of a varied career path.  I write as a way to self-counsel, grow, and share what has been the greatest gift of all - my life!"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Truth Be Told

Lies are to bondage, what truth is to freedom.
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. ~ John 8:32
The lies we believe about ourselves or others holds us in bondage.  The lies, literally, become a cage that incarcerates our souls with invisible bars encasing us. But, when truth is revealed, there is freedom.  It's as if someone, without warning, unlocks the cage door and we're free to fly away. But, do we?

I have a canary.  When I clean his cage, the first thing I do is open the cage door.  You would think he would just fly out, but usually, he flits to the back floor of the cage and doesn't move. Those bars have become his comfort zone.  Wanting to complete the task at hand, I've never waited long enough to see if he will come out on his own. So, I separate the bar part of the cage from the bottom part.  With the top half removed, Shilo then flies out.

I think we are sometimes like Shilo.  A new found freedom can be a scary thing.  Because we are so used to the bars that hold us in our comfort zone, we're afraid to fly.  Sometimes, we need a push; sometimes, we just need someone to come along encouraging us that the "bars" have been removed; sometimes, we can just soar away once we realize that the lies were just that - lies.

I've experienced all three. The most liberating, however, have been the times when I have chosen to just soar away. It truly is as if I've been mounted with wings as eagles (Is. 40: 31), soaring high above the lies, with an eye-piercing sight of the truth I know now.  It is a truly an unforgetable high.

I wish you all an eagle-exodus experience when you realize it's nothing but a lie!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Profound Words

An old Native American told this story to a white man:

Inside of me there are two dogs - one black, one white.  The black one is anger, resentment, bitterness, depression, pride, selfishness, worry, fear, and anxiety.  The white one is peace, joy, goodness, mercy, patience, good will, hope, and courage.

The white man asked, "Which dog is more prevalent?"

The Indian responded, "The one that I feed."
~~~
Thank you, my faithful prayer partner, for this story. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Echoed

I came across a website today: www.raindrop.org.  I looked up the title Scripture because it was echoing in my heart and I realized that my heart's desire is the same as Moses' was, as recorded in Deut. 32:2-3:

                                           May my teaching drop as the rain,

  my speech distill as the dew - like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb.  For I will proclaim The Name of The LORD; ascribe greatness to our God.

Oh, LORD, this is a desire of my heart.  May my speech and written words be as such.  May I continue to proclaim Your Name and declare Your greatness until there is no more breathe in me.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Morning Rituals

Our two dogs usually wake me up each morning. Kodak, the young collie, comes over and "sings" to me and when I stir, he "kisses" me all over.  However, before he ever greets me, he has already greeted Rockit, our son's older dog.  Kodak is an early riser; Rockit can sleep her life away. So, Kodak stands over her kissing her all over her face until she finally responds with kisses back to him.  Once in a while, Rockit just continues to lie in her bed, but for the most part, she will join Kodak in kissing me good morning.  I love waking up to such a love-greeting.

After my loves arouse my senses, my heart immediately goes to God.  Good morning, Abbie; good morning, Jesus; good morning, Holy Spirit. I acknowledge the triune Godhead. Then, I usually breathe in deeply, as if I were breathing in His Presence.  Somehow it gives me a sense that all is well.  I've held that practice for many years - actually since the book Good Morning, Holy Spirit came out.  My day just doesn't start off right if I've not acknowledged God. I know how it feels to walk into a room and not be acknowledged so I don't ever want to ignore His Presence in my life. After all, He is the most important Person in my life. Once I've said my good morning to God, I get out of bed because Kodak needs to go out.  It's time for the day to begin.  And no matter what the circumstance, my best Friend and the Companion of my soul are with me; therefore, it is a good morning!

I'd love to hear about your morning or nightime ritual with The Lord. Please share.