Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bubblin' Crude

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Today there’s a song going through my head. Remember those wacky, backward, oblivious kinfolk, the Beverly Hillbillies? That’s the show...and this was the song:


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Come and listen to the story of a man named Jed.
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed.
And then one day he was shooting for some food
And up through the ground come a bubblin’ crude
Oil that is,
Black gold,
Texas teeth!
Well the first thing you know ol' Jed’s a millionaire
The kinfolk said, “Jed, move away from there!”
Said, “Californy’s the place you ought to be.”
So they loaded up their truck and they moved to Beverly.
Hills that is...
Swimming pools,
Movie stars.

Photo Courtesy Wikipedia


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I used to love watching the Beverly Hillbillies! They were aliens in a foreign world. They brought their strange ways with them, which was often a challenge for them and those around them. Yet, they lived happily in a neighborhood that was unfamiliar to them. They were amongst people whose customs were strange and different from what they were used to. In so many ways, we’re just like those hillbillies. One day we come upon some bubblin’ crude, and we are changed forever!
Oil....The world fights for it....People die for it....The rich are corrupted because of it.

Bubblin’ crude seems to envision something alive, and in many ways it is, for it changes those who possess it. We need oil for many things in this world...so it is worth much. We also have an inordinate desire for wealth, power, ease of living...and oil makes much of that possible. Yet often it leads us on a path to war, death and corruption.

The good thing is, there’s another kind of oil. Some refer to it as the pearl of great price. When men find this oil, it also changes them. They begin a journey to live in a world which no longer relates to them, and often they do so happily. However, some are foolish and begin to take things for granted. Then one day they wake up and realize that their oil is running out and that soon they will no longer be able to see; for the oil brings light and without it they walk in darkness.

Unfortunately, this is where some have found themselves. They suddenly realize that they have compromised themselves to the world and are peering through the darkness in futility, thinking there was still enough light. Unlike the oil of the world, this oil is free for the asking and there is enough for everyone...so they are without excuse.

Do you have more than you need for your journey... or do you live life foolishly, thinking that a little light is enough to light the pathway ahead?

My cry is, give me oil in my lamp and keep me burning! I desire to live in the light! I want to be the best ambassador that I can be. I don't want to compromise! God help me!



Is your crude a bubblin’? Is it spilling over?

John 1:4,5
“In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness comprehends it not.”

Matthew 6:33
"But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

John 8:12
Then Jesus spoke to them again saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Just a Thought.


Lately, inspiration seems to come in the wee hours of the night. This was the case again last night so today I thought about it some more. I always take time to thank God for everything in my life. I find that thankfulness is its own fulfillment. It just feels good to thank someone for doing a great job, and God is certainly worthy of thanks. It's a good thing we are not God. We would have one mess of a world!

There are so many things to thank God for - your family, friends, job, etc. So many good things happen. Last night was a bit different. I thanked God for some of the bad things that have happened and are happening in my life even now.

Why would I do this?

This was the realization!

The realization that hit me hard, was that the total of who I am today is a whole trunk-full of all that’s happened to me over my lifetime; the good and the bad; the pretty and the ugly; the lovely and the unlovely. They make me who I am.

I’m learning a lot on the way. I’m learning whom I can and can’t trust; what I should and shouldn’t do; when to keep my mouth shut and when to open it. I’m learning that it's okay when things just don’t make sense.
I understand that patience is a virtue, that you should always give others the benefit of the doubt, that to get angry quickly is to lose control, and the importance of treating others with love and respect. Without those realizations, I would flitter and flutter through life unaware of how I’m affecting anyone else.

Why is it that bad experiences can teach us so much good? There ARE still the good things. However, I find that most often people choose the hard roads in life. They’re the routes that you don’t want to have to do over a second time.

In spite of this --

I find I'm still learning.
I will continue learning all the days I have left.
I wouldn't want it any other way!

How about you? Do you remember to give thanks always in ALL things?

Eccl. 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

Gal. 5:22,23 For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Isaiah 55:9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Thanks for visiting!
Carmen

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Real Enchilada


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The problem with counterfeits is that they look, sound and maybe even smell like the real thing, but they’re not. How can we tell the difference? Well, in the case of the enchilada...we just need to dig in to find out. However, if we’re talking about Christians, things suddenly become a little clouded...or do they? The Bible does indicate certain attributes of the counterfeit. Here are some to chew on:

“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.” Phil. 3:18,19

One mark of the counterfeit Christian is wrong values.I guess the question I should ask myself is, what are the most important issues I face each day? Are they ‘me’ centered, or ‘God’ centered?

Secondly, they mind “earthly things.”
Earthly things are products of living in this world...but they are not enough. Our focus should not be based on immediate issues such as money, status, or self-exhaltation, but on the absolute values which God declares. “Seek first his (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

Here’s a scripture that I am constantly reminded of, especially as I look around our present world.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘ I never knew you; depart from me, you evil-doers.’” Matth. 7:21-23

This is truly a disturbing scripture. It hints at delusion. These ones are certain that what they are doing will win praise from Christ, but are they mistaken? They did it all in “His Name.” This included prophecy, teaching, healing, counselling, deliverance, and mighty works. Yet there is a problem. They desired prestige and favor by doing religious things. Through it they were sincere, earnest, and dedicated, but it was all secretly directed at magnifying their own selves. The fact that Jesus says he never knew them indicates that they had not experienced new life in Him.

Thirdly, they desire power.
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that your are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” Rev. 3:15-17
These think they are Christians. They see themselves as powerful because of these things: money, numbers, and wealth.
  1. Many will tell you that money is power; and in this world that is true. But money cannot change hearts, or break evil habits, or open deluded eyes.
  2. The largest church, with the finest people may feel that they can do almost anything. But this too is a delusion of power.
  3. We have need of nothing...say the wealthy. We have all it takes to do what needs to be done. Yet they do not realize that they are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked.
When searching our own hearts, do we find self-centeredness? Are we concerned for the needs of others? Do we harbour bitterness and resentment? We must ask Him to deal with our pride and fill our hearts with all He has for us. All we should be, with lives full of love, joy, peace, grace, joy, and glory. If our lives feel dull and meaningless, uncertain and dark, then perhaps we’ve failed to take what He came to give. For He came to give life abundant.


That is what the Christian life is; all of Him being all that He is, in you!

Source: What On Earth Is Happening? Ray Stedman

Until Next Time,

Friday, October 30, 2009

Falling Away Into Laodicea

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It happened a few years ago. There was this nagging thought that just would not go away! Day and night it would ask--are we the modern day Pharisees? I prayed and I searched to see why this thought was so persistent and in the process I learned a few things. This led to another question. It asked-- are we living in Laodicea? This is what my post is about today. In fact, I would love to do a post on each of the end time churches according to Revelations...however, one step at a time.


First I want to clarify the word apostasy. It has two different meanings: “a defection from the truth,” or “a departing.”

Over the years, Christianity has had many departures from sound doctrine. However, the apostle Paul speaks about an apostasy which will be the climax of all prior apostasy's, and will be worldwide in scope. This apostasy is also referred to in scripture as the “Great Falling Away.”

Second, the meaning of the word Laodicea is “people ruling,” or “judgment of the people.”
This implies that instead of God ruling, the people are ruling...plain and simple. They are doing what they believe (or judge) to be best without necessarily much regard for God’s ways or standards.

Have you noticed that when God says something, it is true in many ways? You can read a scripture and get a direct meaning, only to learn that there’s so much more there that you didn’t realize at first. I love that about the Word of God. It’s truly a living, vibrant Word. This is true about Revelations 3:14-19 (which I will just touch on...so much meat here) which is listed at the end of this post. To show you what I mean, we have to look at historic Laodicea.

Historic Laodicea

Laodicea was a prosperous commercial center and a large financial center. They were known for their textiles and a world renowned school of medicine which had developed ear and eye ointments. Writers of the ancient world speak openly of their envy of Laodicean wealth. Record after record confirms their status in the ancient world.

(As a point of interest, the physicians of the school of medicine worshipped Asklepios, the god of healing. Apparently this idol had the form of a serpent on a pole, a symbol still used in the medical profession today.)

Laodicea's one weakness was their water supply, which had to be piped in. Cold water came from Colossae, but by the time it traveled the ten miles from the springs, it was lukewarm. About six miles away in Hierapolis were hot springs, but that water was lukewarm when it reached Laodicea as well.
Cold water stimulates and refreshes. Hot water is useful for health (teas, herbs, broths, etc.) and as a solvent which cleans just about anything. Lukewarm water is really good for nothing. It makes one vomit. Metaphorically what does this say about lukewarm Christians?

Here are some synonyms for the word “Lukewarm.”

Lacking enthusiasm or conviction; tepid; mild; half-hearted; hesitant ; subdued; uncommitted; unresponsive; indifferent; languid; phlegmatic; apathetic; nonchalant, and the list continues.
The Laodiceans, though they had the ability and the resources, were complacent, self-satisfied, and indifferent to the real issues of life. Their faith had become stale and their creature comforts were of higher importance than doing the work of the Lord. Sound familiar at all? Now to answer the question that has been going around in my mind. Are we falling away into Laodicea?

Modern Day Laodicea

Laodicea does not exist on the map today. God removed the lampstand from this city. However, is the Laodicean spirit really dead, or is it still prevalent in society today? Check out 2 Timothy 3:1-5...I know, it’s overwhelming! Does this sound like modern day society? Sadly, I believe this may be so. I especially see verse 5 happening in a lot of Christendom today. Unfortunately, so do the unchurched and the unbelieving. 

Certainly in the western world, we are richer than most of the rest of the world. Are we so rich, that we are poor? When you look at 2 Timothy...do you know any people like that? Is it us? I could go on and on, but before I paint too drab a picture here, remember that though we may be surrounded by the darkness, the light shines through the darkness. We are the lights that the darkness cannot comprehend. We will shine through, even in Laodicea!

The Scriptures

Revelations3:14-19 AMP
And to the angel (messenger) of the assembly (church) in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the trusty and faithful and true Witness, the Origin and Beginning and Author of God’s creation: I know your (record of) works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! For you say, I am rich; I have prospered and grown wealthy, and I am in need of nothing; and you do not realize and understand that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to purchase from Me gold refined and tested by fire, that you may be (truly) wealthy, and white clothes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nudity from being seen, and salve to put on your eyes, that you may see. Those whom I (dearly and tenderly) love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten (I discipline and instruct them). So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent (changing your mind and attitude).

2 Timothy 3:1-5 AMP
But understand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble (hard to deal with and hard to bear). For people will be lovers of self and (utterly) self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. They will be without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. They will be treacherous (betrayers), rash and inflated with self-conceit. They will be lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For although they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it (their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession). Avoid all such people (turn away from them).
Related works:

Seven Churches of Revelation:

Until Next Time,

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Stroll Through Ecclesiastes


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I’ve been mulling around in Ecclesiastes lately. You know, I’ve heard people say that they don’t bother to read this book because Solomon was depressed when he wrote it. My findings are that this book is incredible!! I really love this book! To me it represents the very things we learn as we grow a little older and wiser in this very secular world. Solomon just laid it all out for us a few years ago...well...quite a few years ago.

So I thought it would be fun to look at a few verses that always seem to speak to me. There's plenty more...but here's some of them:

-Do not give heed to everything that is said, lest you hear your servant cursing you—For often your own heart knows that you have likewise cursed others. 7:21,22

Whenever someone says something about us, we become depressed, angry, outraged or indifferent (depending on who it is). It doesn’t even matter if it’s true. However, here it's put into perspective. I think it’s the splinter/beam issue. It’s so much easier to find fault with others, than with ourselves and yet we too are often guilty of the very same thing. Any argument on that? Not from me!

-Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set to do evil. 8:11

I was surprised to find this little gem when I first came across it. So true!! Isn’t this the world we live in today? Isn’t this what our system is all about? In fact, right seems to be wrong, and wrong seems to be right. It’s not even about what’s true anymore, it’s who can get the most expensive lawyer. Again, no argument from me on this verse!

I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither is bread to the wise, nor riches to men of intelligence and understanding, nor favour to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. 9:11

Actually, I love this verse. Once again, nit’s not about US! God blessed you! God chose you! God gave to you! God allowed it to happen! You can be fastest, strongest, wisest, most intelligent, understanding and skillful, but time and chance happens to ALL. It kind of brings me hope because there's still time for God to work on me!

-He has made everything beautiful in its time. He also has planted eternity in men's hearts and minds, yet so that men cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 3:11

I know you recognize this verse. I love this one because it answers why people still look at evolution as something viable. It takes faith to believe anything about origins, since none of us were there. It explains why life on this planet is short no matter how old we are when we die. It confirms to me that there is life after death.

-All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man and the whole for every man. 12:13

This is a life verse for me. When I find myself complicating things, I always remember this verse. That word “whole” means it is good for us, it makes us whole. Maybe it’s oversimplified for some, but it works for me!

Okay, I'm done my stroll and going home to enjoy a coffee now. Wanna join me?

PS: All verses taken from the Amplified Bible.

Until next time,
Carmen

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It?

What's Love Got to do With it? 

It's so easy to get caught up with life in general. People go about their days impacting others and often don't realize how they've affected someone else. I wonder, how often have I left someone devastated, hurt, happy, grateful, regretful, etc. Could I have reacted differently, or could I have been more understanding? Often we wonder why people behave the way they do or why they say the things they say and there's usually always a reason, we just don't always know what it is. 


I needed a reminder today. I have to remember it every day. One word...


Love

Whenever possible, always love, no matter what the circumstance is. It's truly all about love!!!


Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

1 Corinthians 13 


Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Little Things

I watched a documentary the other night about the Theremin. For those of you who don’t know what it is, here is a photo of Leon Theremin playing his Theremin:


It’s the only instrument known that you can play without actually touching it. By moving your hands in the space around its antenna, you control pitch and volume. It was invented by Leon Theremin who patented it in 1928. One of his pupils, Clara Rockmore, is considered the greatest virtuoso Theremin player ever.

They grew in fame and as I read up on them,  I marvelled at their lives and all the things they went through. Then I was humbled as I watched them meet up again in their old age. 

The thing that struck me was: though she was a famous virtuoso, and he was ahead of his time, there were few who knew it after all these years. Together they walked out of the hotel, arm in arm, as quickly as their old age would carry them. They were virtually unknown and unimportant to most of the people out there that day, except for the few who knew.

For some reason, it struck me then, that it’s the little things. Sure, we can do great things that may affect many people, but often you will be forgotten. In the end, all that will really matter to you is the little things you do and the kind of person you are. Just as important as the big things, are the little things.

The kindness you showed.
The way you chose your words.
How much you loved.
The pardon you were willing to give, especially to those undeserving of it.
The patience you showed.
I could go on, but I think you get it.

Who are you really?
I’ve included a video of a song you may recognize that had originally utilized the Theremin.



Galatians 5:22,23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Until next time,
Carmen

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday at Truth 4 the Journey

Well, it's Thursday today which means I get to give thanks for all the wonderful things in my life. If you'd like to play along, please click on the button above for instructions.

Here are 5 things I am thanking God for today.

1) I am thankful that the weather is back to normal. I know...ho hum...but I really mean it. In Kamloops the summers are extremely hot, and the winters are extremely cold. This year the weather decided to throw us all for a loop and do really strange things at really strange times. It's been a roller coaster ride! Septembers are usually lovely though...and so far, this September has been great. I love the Fall!

2) I am so, so, so thankful for the Internet! With it I have been able to self-diagnose my medical problem and start on some recovery procedures. Don't worry, I'm very careful and am letting my Doctor's Office know what I am doing. It turns out it is something doctor's are not well informed on. So who knows how long it would have been before I could get some relief! I'm sooooo thankful for that because I've been in a lot of pain the last two months!

3) I was reminded again this week how wonderful my blogging friends are. I just started a craft blog, and one of my male blogging friends has actually gone and looked at it a few times and left comments. So sweet!! I also have another blogging friend who has gone and left comments. I so appreciate your loyalties! Thank you!

4) I am also thankful to have a Craft Blog (I know, shameless self-promotion). Honestly though, I love to do things with my hands and be creative. It's something I haven't done a lot of over the years since I had 4 boys who really weren't into crafts, but who kept me running. Give them a chunk of wood and an axe, or an engine to fix, and they'd be happy. So being able to express myself in this way again and share it with others, is a dream come true! Silly, I know, but I'm having fun.

5) I am really thankful that my sister, who was one year old when we left Holland, has gone back to Holland with my Dad to meet all her relatives. Now I know this doesn't apply to me directly, but I really can't wait until she gets back and we can have our chats about Holland. So I guess what I'm really thankful for, is a sister who I can talk with. We often take family for granted...but it's so nice when they're there!

Okay...that's it! Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Until next time,
Carmen

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Formidable Foe

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When life doesn’t go as you hoped, when you lose something or someone of value, when you cannot control the things that happen to you...you can succumb to depression.  

It’s easy to succumb.
It’s easy to withdraw yourself. 
It’s easy to slip away into no man’s land...but it’s not beneficial to you. It doesn’t help you in any way. 
It’s just easy.

Depression is something you have to battle. It’s something you have to fight against because you CAN win. It isn’t a given in any situation. I have a friend who has to be on oxygen 24 hours a day. She cannot do the things most people take for granted. She does what she can to stay involved. FB is a wonderful release for her.

I had another friend who became extremely sick. The doctors didn’t know what it was. In the end, he took his own life.

Was it a selfish act?   I don’t think so. Not in this case. I knew this man well enough to know that he gave up his life for the well-being of his beautiful little family. I really believe that, for the bible says "greater love has no man than to give up his life for another." I believe it was an act of sacrifice for this man, although depression may have helped him along.

Depression can cause fuzzy logic...but God looks at the heart.
If they’d had a choice...they would have wanted him with them.  They would have embraced all the problems that arose out of his sickness. They loved him and were willing to go through any trial with him.

Depression is a serious thing! A silent killer. It’s especially serious when it’s brought on by another problem.

I believe that if we can keep our minds and hearts focused on God. If we can take our problems to Him and trust Him with all we endure in this life. If we can choose to be happy and live the lives that we can live, in spite of the situations we face-- I believe we can win any fight life throws at us.

It requires a continued faith that He is able, that He is there, that He loves us through it all...because He is and He does.

We are more than conquerors through Him!

Depression? Yes, it’s a formidable foe! But with God's help, I’m going to fight it with all my might. 

Romans 8:35-37
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter." Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Until next time,

Friday, September 4, 2009

It's All About Attitude


So You Want to be Successful?

It’s all about attitude.

God tells us to choose life. In the same way, we choose the attitude we walk through life with. Especially in times of trouble, we can choose. We can be fearful, angry, sullen--or we can choose to have a good attitude regardless of what life throws at us. No one says this will be easy, but I suspect it will bring about better results. We are the ones that choose how we live our lives. Living successfully involves attitude.

On the importance of attitude, Charles R. Swindoll wrote:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day."

“We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes"

..........I needed this reminder today..........

I have a chronic condition that flares up for 5-6 months at a time. It is uncomfortable and very painful, and the doctors don’t know what it is. Working through the medical system is frustrating and painstakingly slow. By the time I can see a specialist, the problem is gone for the time. When you’re in constant pain; when your quality of life is almost unbearable; when you cannot do the things you want, it is easy to let a good attitude fall by the wayside as well. After all, what is there to be grateful about?

Well...there’s a lot to be grateful for! I could fill a book of how good God has been to me! Having a bad attitude really doesn’t help any situation. Choose to be the best you can be no matter what your circumstances are!

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing; motivation determines what you do; attitude determines how well you do it.” 
Lou Holz

UPDATE: About a year after this post, my condition was finally properly diagnosed and after 20 years of dealing with the pain, it's amazing how little it took to treat it! I am so happy and for the most part, pain free! 

Be kind to others, you don't know what they're going through!

Until next time,
Carmen

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sobered by the Moon


                                                                  Source: Carmen Gamble, Beyond the Fringe Crafts

One of the things that constantly amazes me is the beauty of God's creation!

While driving home today on the highway I was completely taken aback by the moon. It was a gorgeous bright neon fuschia with a thin lighter line of fuschia along the bottom of it. Puffed up in comparison to its normal size and appearing elongated and wavy, it sat bordering the Thompson River. I have never seen the moon that color or shape before. Around it the sky was a haze of pinks with sheets of light blue, white, and brown.   I was sobered by the fact that the incredible beauty before me was directly due to the fires still burning in the area.

It reminded me of God’s goodness!

He can take the worst looking situation and turn it into something beautiful.  Similarly, He sees the beauty in the chaos of our lives and He works in us to change it. Things happen, and though there is forgiveness, we still sometimes suffer the consequences. Yet through those consequences we learn and grow and become more like Him.

It’s amazing really. It makes me wonder like David did, "what is man that Thou art mindful of him?" How intricate are His ways. They are truly past finding out. So I won’t even try...I’ll just enjoy that amazing moon for now.

Carmen

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sweet Smelling Smyrna


Smyrna = Persecution.

This has to be the most disliked and avoided word in Christian circles. None of us likes to think that someday we may have to suffer persecution. Secretly we like to believe that a loving God wouldn’t let that happen to us. It’s something many of us just can’t, or don't want to relate to. Will this world ever come to the place where Christians are considered dangerous because of what they believe? I’ve actually wondered how I would stand up during persecution. Would I be able to persevere? Would I give in?

I’m reminded of Peter.

Remember the cockcrow? Three crows later, just like Jesus said, Peter found that he had spoken nothing more than a pile of worthless words, even though he was adamantly in love with Christ. We’re talking about the fellow Jesus called “the Rock.” The one He would build His church on. This was a strong believer. We know that everything turned out alright for him in the long run. He went through much and died defending the faith. Still I wonder, what would I do?

The church of Smyrna didn’t have to think about it. They experienced it.

The name Smyrna means myrrh, or bitter. Myrrh is a berry that has to be crushed in order to release its wonderful fragrance. Don’t you just love the symbolism used here? The suffering of believers, the crushing of them releases a wonderful fragrance. Myrrh was used at funerals as an ointment to embalm the dead. Isn’t it interesting that our old man must die to sin. When we walk in obedience even unto death, we are a sweet smelling fragrance to our Lord. This also applies to the Lord, who as our suffering Saviour was crushed (yet victorious). Appropriately, Christ represents himself as the resurrected One, bringing them hope.

The opposition to Christianity in Smyrna came from the people rather than the state. The church in Smyrna endured tribulation, poverty and affliction from the wealthy Jews. Jesus tells us that these particular Jews were not God’s people, but belonged to Satan.

Sometimes things are not as they appear to be.

These Jews no doubt thought themselves the favoured of the Lord, the chosen ones. Yet, they were not representing Christ in their fervour, but were of the “synagogue of Satan.” In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees thought they were the chosen ones, and yet Jesus didn’t have much good to say of them either. I can’t stress the importance of relying on the Holy Spirit to lead and guide us into all truth. Head knowledge alone doesn’t guarantee salvation.

Have you noticed that the soul of man is much more open to God when he is in need?

Though they were robbed of material possessions and not given jobs because of strong trade guilds, and though they were mocked and abused, they had true wealth. Their riches were stored in heaven. The Lord’s counsel to them was not to fear and to be faithful to the end.

There is no correction given to this church. None. It is still standing today!


Izmir, ancient Smyrna.
Image courtesy of www.HolyLandPhotos.org.

For those who care to know:

Smyrna was planned by Alexander the Great and was called “The Ornament of Asia” because of its beauty. It boasted a street of gold with the temple of Zeus at one end, and the temple of Cybelle (Nemesis) at the other. It is the present day Port of Izmir, the third largest city in Turkey. Religiously, it was the seat of emperor worship.

Ten is the biblical number of testing of God’s standard. The ten days mentioned possibly refer to the 10 years of tribulation that the believers suffered under Diocletan.

The word “martyr” in Greek means “witness.”

There are more martyrs today than at any other time in history and Scripture indicates that this will increase as the days get closer to His coming. How much more must we be prepared to spread the gospel to all who will hear.

Remember, God's heart is that ALL would repent and accept His salvation.

Seven Churches of Revelation:

Introduction to the Seven Churches
Where Did I Leave My Love? (Ephesus)
Falling Away Into Laodicea
Pergamus: Compromised and Indulged
Sardis: The Living Dead
The Church of Thyatira
Philadelphia, the Faithful Church

Until Next Time,
Carmen

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Thankful Thursday!

Take a gander over at Truth for the Journey to participate. As usual, there are so many things to be thankful for. There are so many blogs I love to read. So here's number 1...

I am so thankful for all the blogger friends here, and the wonderful blogs I get to read. Although there are many that I frequent, I want to mention two in particular. Sue over at In Between Time, and a recent one I just found, Sharon's Quiet Reflections. I love these blogs and read them regularly. Check them out -- I promise, you'll be refreshed and inspired.

Secondly, I am thankful for my microwave. When I start reading all those blogs, I usually end up with a cold cup of coffee. Sometimes more than once...and I don't like cold coffee.

Thirdly, I am so thankful that my hubby was able to go fishing this week. A transformation takes place when he fishes. It's almost spiritual. I love watching him fish because I think he's happiest when he's doing that, and he so much deserves to be happy. He's a good man.

Fourth, I'm so glad that my son is okay after losing a wheel off his car on the Halston Connector. It could have been so much worse. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to us!

Lastly, I'm thankful for an opportunity to be alone. I think best without interruption, and my life takes on a more spiritual tone. Less distraction I guess.

Well, that's it for today. I don't always participate, but it's fun when I do. It's important to be thankful on a daily basis. It's too easy to take things for granted otherwise. Have an attitude of gratitude!

Until next time,
Carmen

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where Did I Leave My Love?


                                                                                                                           Source: Principlesforlifeministries.com

Ephesus, the Loveless Church

Revelation 2:1-7


To begin, here's some history. Historic Ephesus was a thriving metropolis of eastern Asia which exported goods by ship and land. The city was located near the mouth of the Cayster River, approximately three miles from the coast. It was a business and cultural crossroads given the title of “Supreme Metropolis of Asia.” Its population was approximately 500,000 people.

Ephesus was also the center of idolatry. The temple of Diana (Artemis) was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She was worshipped as the goddess of the moon, nature, life and fertility, and is depicted as having many breasts. The worship of Diana was religious immorality of the worst kind.

Paul established the church at Ephesus on his third missionary journey (Acts 19, 20). There were many miracles done there and many people converted to Christ. To indicate their new life, the Christians burned their pagan books. The silversmiths of the temple of Diana were stirred into an uproar because the city wide repentance affected their previously lucrative business. This prompted an eventual persecution of Christians.

In this passage of Scripture, Christ is revealed as the One Who holds the seven stars in His right hand. The right hand indicates that He has authority and control, and blesses the messengers of the local churches (stars). He provides for, protects and enables them for their ministry. However, it also suggests that they should be dependent on Him for all that is needed. In fact, He walks in their midst, thus He is in fellowship with them. This passage seems to say that Christ is in the midst of all churches, historically and today. Even those who have no commendation. I found that interesting and encouraging. He still waits for them to turn and repent.

God commends them for their hatred of the Nicolaitans. So, who were the Nicolaitans? Are they still here today? To find out, we need to break down the meaning of the name.

Niko=to conquer; Laitans = laity. That’s right-- to conquer the laity!!

There arose in the early church a group who tried to separate laymen and a clergy of “holy” men for the purpose of power and control. These clergy claimed to be Christians but lived immoral lives. They also believed that the body and spirit were separate and what you did to the body had no effect on the spirit. This doctrine destroys the biblical concept of the body of Christ with each person using his giftings to minister to others. So, are the Nicolaitans still here today? Well, I’ll leave that to you. My opinion is that power and control are certainly attractive to those who are in a position to practise it. Hopefully they’re wise enough to remain humble knowing that “the greatest of all is servant of all.” The church at Ephesus was a hard working church which discerned whether the leaders were true to God’s will or false teachers. They refused to allow apostasy and immorality amongst their people.

Even so, Jesus tells them, “Thou has left thy first love.” They had allowed God to slip as top priority. We can be so busy doing things for Christ that we have no time to fellowship with Him and love Him. Labour is not a substitute for love! They had not just lost fellowship with Christ, they had left it. God’s remedy is to repent, witness, love others and do the first works (think back and remember the way it used to be). Remember when you were first saved? Remember the wonder, the overwhelming sense of gratitude, the desire to know Him more? That’s what He’s talking about here.

God’s promise to them is that those who overcome will eat of the tree of life that was denied man at the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. Christ is also referred to in Scripture as the life. So this could refer to the actual tree of life, or it could be symbolic of dwelling with Him eternally. Either way, it’s good. To become an overcomer we must be faithful in our love for Him, and obey His commandments (John 14:15; Matth. 22:37-40).

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels,
But have not love,
I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
And though I have the gift of prophecy,
And understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains,
But have not love,
I am nothing.
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor,
And though I give my body to be burned,
But have not love,
It profits me nothing.

As an aside, historically many believe that this church represents the apostolic age in its moral and doctrinal purity (A.D. 30-100). This is the period of time when the apostles planted churches. These churches consisted of new believers just getting established on right doctrine and struggling against persecution from the Jews.


The Seven Churches of Revelation:
Introduction

Sweet Smelling Smyrna
Falling Away Into Laodicea
Pergamus: Compromised and Indulged

Sardis: The Living Dead
The Church of Thyatira
Philadelphia, the Faithful Church

Until next time, 

Carmen

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Introduction to the Seven Churches of Revelation


I recently wrote a post featuring one of the churches in Revelation which I entitled “Falling Away into Laodicea.” I thought it would be fun to do an excerpt on each of the churches mentioned in Revelation, but would like to do a brief overview first.

First, all these churches were actual historic churches based in Asia, or Turkey. This has been confirmed through archaeological discoveries.

Next, why are these particular churches mentioned when there were many other churches in existence at the time? The popular consensus is that these letters describe all church history between Daniel’s 69th and 70th weeks (Daniel 9). These seven churches, in the order they are listed, prophetically unfold all subsequent church history with incredible precision. They cover 1900 years of church history since the Book of Acts.

Not only do these churches seem to address a specific period of time in history, they also seem to address specific types or traits of any individual Christian. They are all addressed to “he who has an ear.” I suppose that includes most of us.

When studying the churches, it is interesting to note:

1) The meaning of the name of each church.
2) A description of Jesus Christ (which is relevant to the message of each church).
3) A commendation or approval to the church.
4) A criticism or ailment of the church.
5) A challenge and exhortation to the church.
6) An assurance to the “overcomer.”
7) The repeated phrase, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the churches.”

Of further interest we find that: references to the Lord’s second coming are apparent in only the last four letters; Smyrna and Philadelphia have no criticism; and Sardis and Laodicea have no commendation.

With all that in mind, let’s get ready to look into the church of Ephesus, the loveless church.

The Seven Churches of Revelation:

Ephesus: Where Did I Leave My Love?
Sweet Smelling Smyrna 
Falling Away Into Laodicea
Pergamus: Compromised and Indulged
Sardis: The Living Dead
The Church of Thyatira
Philadelphia, the Faithful Church

Until next time,
Carmen

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Paradise Now!


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We humans love short cuts! We want what we cannot have and we want it now! We’re never content, we always want more, and we’re extremely self-centered. So it was only a matter of time before someone would come up with a shortcut for life. In this world of computers, is it any surprise that we can now have the life of our dreams? Our own paradise if you will?

The devil hasn’t really changed his strategy much in the many years we’ve been on this earth. He doesn’t have to. His strategy works really well..anything but God’s way. Through the media he tells us we must look this way, talk like this and do things a certain way in order to be accepted. It causes us to focus on ourselves. He keeps us focused on ourselves by feeding into our egos. Give the people what they want, and they will forget about God, they will forget about life in general, they will forget about each other.

It is, after all, the century of self.
and
The battlefield is... the mind.

The epitome of this is Second Life, a new virtual game. There are 2.5 million registered users to date. According to the site, Second life is a free online virtual world imagined and created by its residents, where you’ll discover a fast-growing digital world filled with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. It is a chance at a second life. Fifth Estate covered two women who became addicted to this game because it offered so much more than their real lives. I mean, who wants to do laundry, cook, clean and look after others day after day (tongue in cheek)? The one woman, married with four children, left her family to meet her virtual partner in England. The second woman of two is divorced. She believes her virtual lover is her soul mate, and is looking for him in real life.

The game offers new life in a virtual setting. In this virtual world you can look like you’ve always wanted to look; be anyone you want to be; have anything and do anything you want. You create an avatar of yourself and create your own paradise. There are no rules, no limits. It is a world that stimulates your mind. Though their basic plan is free, their premium plan can be accessed for as little as $6 a week. Then there’s land purchase and land maintenance, if you so desire (plus tax of course). The fantasy turns into a reality in your mind, holding you captive to it. Though you feel like you’re living in paradise, your very “real” bills are piling up from neglect, along with your housework, your marriage, and your life.

Oh, you mean there’s a cost?

There is actually a website dedicated to people who have a loved one who is addicted to gaming. It boasts 4000 members, and goes by the name Gamerwidow.com. When you check out this site, you realize that Second Life is just one game that is of concern. There are many others.

So why am I telling you this? God created humanity for fellowship. By nature, we seek it out on many levels; social organizations, sports, hobbies, politics, and even virtual games. But the greatest form of fellowship, and the one we all need, is a relationship with God which also holds the promise of eternal life. There is no shortcut to this kind of paradise.

I’ve always seen our lives on this earth as a type of schooling. This is the place we learn and grow to be all that God has created us to be. We become fools when we allow the devil to transport us into his virtual form of life, which is really merely darkness masquerading as paradise.


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John 1:4,5
In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Until next time,