Tuesday, December 6, 2016

WHERE'S THE LINE TO SEE JESUS



An original song performed by father and daughter, Steve Haupt and Becky Kelley
Recorded at Shock City Studios, Saint Louis, MO
Produced by Chris Loesch
Video by Robbie Haupt and Greg Haupt

The story behind the song, as told by Steve Haupt, is as follows:

"While at the mall last year, my 4 year old grandson saw kids lined up excitedly to see Santa Claus. Having been taught as a toddler that Christmas is the holiday that Christians celebrate the birth of God's son, with the innocence of a child, he asked his mom, 'Where's the line to see Jesus? If Christmas is Jesus' birthday, why don't we see Him more?'

As his grandpa, I was so happy that little Spencer understood the meaning of Christmas at such a tender age, and then the words for a song were jotted down in just a few minutes. The song was inspired by my grandson, and the message was inspired by my Savior.


Out of the mouths of babes come profound truths that many adults can not understand. Hopefully Spencer's observation and our song will cause people to reflect on the love of Jesus, and the certainty that one day we will all stand in line to see Jesus."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A REMINDER TO ME (AND YOU TOO IF YOU NEED IT)

"I will praise You, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made... Your eyes saw my
substance, being yet unformed,  And in
your book they all were written, The days
fashioned for me, When as yet there were
none of them." - (Psalm139:14a, 16)

This post is a reprint of something I wrote many years ago on my first blog, which is now defunct.  I came across it the other day, and wondered what it was I was reminding myself of.  Turns out it was something I still need to be reminded of today -- BEWARE OF FALLING INTO THE TRAP OF COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.
---------------

2/25/2011

There were several reasons I started blogging.  Some personal, but it was also my hope that in some way I could brighten at least one person's day, or perhaps offer encouragement to another.  Lately, though, there's this little voice in my head that keeps saying, "What's so special about you that makes you feel you have something to offer?  What do you have to say that hasn't already been said by someone else, and said better?"  At the same time, there's a warning light flashing off and on: BEWARE OF FALLING INTO THE TRAP OF COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS.

To confirm the above warning, I came upon a very timely devotional during my quiet time this morning.  It happens to be a January devotion, which I would not have seen on this particular February day, except that it's in a book, Streams in the Desert, that I just purchased a few days ago and decided to start reading from the beginning.  No such thing as coincidence!

Anyway, this particular devotional tells the story of a king who goes into his garden one morning and finds everything withered and dying.  He starts asking the plants what the problem is. The oak says it doesn't want to live any more because it's not tall and beautiful like the pine tree, the pine tree is upset because it can't bear grapes like the grapevine, the grapevine bemoans the fact that that it doesn't produce fruit as large as the peaches on the peach tree, the geranium is disheartened because it's not tall and fragrant like the lilac, and so on it goes throughout the garden until the king gets to the little violet and and comments on how happy he is to see at least one flower bright and perky.  To which the violet responds, "I know I'm small, yet I thought if you wanted an oak or a pine or a peach tree or even a lilac, you would have planted one.  Since I knew you wanted a violet, I'm determined to be the best little violet I can be."

What a great reminder that God loves me just as I am, and that I'm a Divine original (which you are too) created for a special purpose that no one else can fulfill.  Summed up so beautifully in the little poem at the end of the devotional:

                  Others may do a greater work,
                   But you have your part to do;
                 And no one in all God's family
                    Can do it as well as you.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT?

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son
of man that you care for him?"
(Psalm 8:3-4)


This collage doesn't really have anything to do with anything, except that it's one of my favorites. There is something about it that fills me with both awe and gratitude. Awe of the beauty of God's creation, and gratitude for the eyes that enable me to behold it, the digital camera that allows me to capture the moment, and the software on my computer that helps me process it.

 My first IT job--long before the term IT even existed to describe it--had me working, standing up, on a huge IBM 360/20 computer that took up almost a whole cubicle. I loved my job, and wished they made computers small enough so I could have one at home. Never did I dream that a day would come when computers the size of a tablet or smartphone would fit in your pocket. Who would have thought?

The pictures in this collage were taken from my balcony, which has an amazing view. It's the spot from which I have taken many pictures of the changing seasons, as well as the spot from which I watched a nestful of baby ravens living atop the local water tower learn how to fly. Observing them play and learn together inspired me to turn my pictures into a book, and thus, in my senior years, I embarked on a new career as a writer of nature related picture books for children. Who would have thought?

On this Thanksgiving day, as I reflect on my many blessings, a couple of other "who would have thoughts," for which I am truly grateful, come to mind. I remember how as a suddenly single mom of a seven-year-old and a nine-year-old, I was struck with fear that I might not live long enough to see them grow up. That fear never came to pass, and the Lord has blessed me with seven grandchildren and three great-grands. Who would have thought?

After the death of my husband, I dabbled in many things as I searched for roots and purpose. I  believed I had found them in the New Age and occult doctrines I embraced. But then came a day when my eyes were opened and I discovered I had been sincerely wrong.  Turning my life over to Jesus when I was on a path I was convinced was the right one, and at a time when I was no longer seeking answers, was the biggest "who would have thought" of them all.

If you are interested, you can read the short version of my improbable journey that is posted on this blog by clicking here, or you can download a free copy of my book, Sincerely Wrong, by double clicking on the cover of it on the sidebar.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

NOTHING IS BROKEN BEYOND REPAIR**

"But Jesus looked at them and said to them,
With men this is impossible,  but with God
all things are possible." - (Matthew 19:26)

The title of this post was inspired by a song that came on the radio this morning as I contemplated the sorry looking circumstances of my life and felt convicted to look at the things I am thankful for, instead of focusing on the disappointments and frustrations.  One of my "miracle plants" caught my eye.

Over the years, the Lord has used my gardening attempts to teach me many lessons.  Usually it's through my tomato plants, and it's something like how at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Witnessing a Miracle, and More Lessons from the Tomato Plant).  But then there was also the beautiful geranium that miraculously survived an almost fatal stinkbug infestation (Feeling Thankful).


This year's lesson was a bit different.  The Lord used a seemingly dead indoor plant to teach me volumes about His grace.

All the leaves were gone, the branches had turned brown, and there were no signs of life my eye could detect, and yet I didn't have the heart to throw it out.  Instead, I put it on the balcony and told the Lord it was all His to do with as He pleased.  It could always be discarded at summer's end.



A few weeks later, much to my delighted surprise, I noticed a bit of green on some of the branches, and the tiniest of shoots starting to emerge from the soil.







The plant continued to grow and thrive, and before long, had been restored to its former healthy self.




















Just one more example for me to document of how it is never too late, or too seemingly impossible for God to turn things around.




---------------------


**The song, if you are interested, is "Mended," by Matthew West -- and you can listen to it by clicking on the link.

Monday, February 15, 2016

IN EVERY TRIAL THERE'S A BLESSING TO BE FOUND

"Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is
God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Trying to walk in an Air boot with a fractured heel has been limiting and uncomfortable, but I'm learning that blessings can be found even in the most trying circumstances. For instance, I am very thankful that it's my left foot that's affected, so I can still drive my car, and even more thankful that it has entitled me to a Handicapped Parking permit. Not having to worry about finding a good spot to park in is an amazing luxury that will be hard to give up.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

WIMPY IS SOMETIMES GOOD

"Let us then approach God’s throne of grace
 with confidence, so that we may receive mercy
 and find grace to help us in our time of need."
(Hebrews 4:16)

None of us were accidents. God's knew us long before we were conceived, and created us for a special purpose no one else could fulfill (Psalm 139:15-16).  Each one of us is a Divine original, wired and gifted according to the strengths and weaknesses needed to fulfill His pre-ordained plan (Romans 12:4-6; 1 Corinthians 12:14-24).  

My wiring seems to have included wimpiness, and though it's not a trait that makes me proud, the inordinate fear of pain, discomfort, or loss of control it created, so far outweighed any possible enticement, that it safeguarded me from many a harmful behavior I could easily have become addicted to in my youth.

So now fast forward half a century to a severe case of plantar fascitis.  I still do not like pain, but this time around, what others think of me outweighs the pain.  I know so many people who live with pain and manage to function despite it, I feel too ashamed to stay home and rest my foot. Instead, I try to tough it and force myself to walk on it so no one will think I'm a wimp.  The result?  My concern about what others might think led to very unnecessary, undesirable consequences--a stress fracture of my heel necessitating six weeks minimum in an Aircast boot.

Now, under doctor's orders, I do have to take it easy and rest the foot, and while I rest, I think of how we live in a society where self sufficiency and independence are applauded.  No one wants to seem weak or needy.  "God helps those who help themselves," is a much quoted verse many people believe is from the Bible, but nothing could be further from the truth.  What the Scriptures do say, is that God wants us to lean on Him (Psalm 145:18-19; Isaiah 40:29-31; Matthew 11:28, to name a few).    The people God helps are those who know they can't help themselves and cry out to Him for help. 

Friday, January 15, 2016

THE DAY GOD SENT ME FLOWERS



(This post is from my personal blog, Glimpses of God's Grace.)

Today I was feeling discouraged about the pain in my heel, the doors that have unexpectedly closed in my face, and all the things in my life that aren't the way I'd like them to be.  It was also the day God cheered me up by sending me flowers.

 You see, last October, when a friend's daughter was recovering from serious surgery, I was able to lend a helping hand by driving her son to school, and my God who sees the end from the beginning, knew way back then that a January morning was coming when I could use a happy surprise.  And so it was, that on this particular day, instead of any other, He laid it on my friends' heart to bring me a beautiful bouquet of roses to thank me for what I had done. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

I CHOOSE JOY!



"The thief comes only to steal and kill
and destroy;  I have come that they 
may have life, and have it to the full."
(John 10:10)
 
Between the ending of one year and the beginning of the next, things happened that made me sad, things happened that made me mad, and I allowed a run of frustrating events to divert my focus from the many things that made me glad.

Today I choose to let go of the things that offended me or caused me to fret, and dwell, instead, on the promises of God and my identity in Christ. No matter how things may look or seem, I choose to trust that Jesus has my back every day, in every way.  Today I choose joy! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

LOOKING FOR THE SILVER LINING

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the
will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This verse came to mind when a project I had been depending on came to an unexpected end. For over a year it had provided the necessary income to enable me to get out of debt and to pay my bills on time, so when I found it all gone on my return home from a brief outing one day, I felt as though I'd been punched in the gut.  How could I give thanks for that?

Well, the above Scripture doesn't say we have to give thanks for everything we are presented with, but rather that we should look for something in it that we can be thankful about.  I may not be thankful that it's raining on my parade, but I can be thankful that I have an umbrella.

Today I choose to be thankful for the gift of time.  Time to take care of chores that have been put off for way too long, time to fellowship with friends and family without rushing the visit or feeling stressed about taking too long a break, time to experience life outside work.  Today I choose to focus on my many blessings, and trust God to make the way straight.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

THE BIGGEST DECEPTION OF THEM ALL

"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth 
and the life. No one comes to the Father except 
through me." -- (John 14:6)


A few Sundays ago we had a time of cardboard testimonies during our service at church, and I was privileged to be a part of it.

You see, several years earlier, I didn't know I had a testimony to share.  My conversion experience had been less than dramatic, and I thought testimonies were what people like former warlord and gang leader turned Christian evangelist Nicky Cruz had, or what addicts, criminals, or victims of abuse who had hit bottom had when they came to know the Lord and their lives were miraculously transformed--not people like me.

One day, however, during a discussion with some friends, the light turned on, and I was struck by the sudden realization that I did have a testimony, a testimony no less remarkable.  The miracle of my testimony was that I found the right path at all, considering I believed I had already found it and was no longer searching.

My memoir, "Sincerely Wrong: An Improbable Journey," tells the story.  It can be downloaded to your computer as a free PDF file by clicking on the image of the book cover on the sidebar of this blog.  The short version though, is that I grew up with a desperate need to feel significant, and after a long quest for roots and purpose, thought I had found them in New Age and occult doctrines.  My vulnerability led me to believe in a lie that I persuaded others to believe in as well.  I was not consciously deceiving anyone; I was just sincerely wrong.

Don't be deceived, as I was, into thinking that there are many paths to God, or that we get to Heaven by being good.  That is the biggest deception of them all.

Although we were created to have fellowship with the Lord, Adam and Eve's sin caused us to be born into a fallen world.  The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and in Romans 6:23, that "the wages of sin is death." Because of this, a vast gulf separates us from our Heavenly Father, and there is no way we can cross it through our own efforts.  Only one path can lead us to eternal life, and that is Jesus (John 14:6).

The good news is that "God so loved the world [you and me included] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God loves you so much that even if you were the only person on this Earth, He would still have sent Jesus to die for your sins so you could be set free.  It is a gift that can only be received by grace, through faith. It cannot be earned by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and as much as it is not God's will for anyone to perish, He will not impose His will on you or force you to accept it. The choice is yours.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking and waiting for you to answer (Revelation 3:20), and I implore you to open the door before it is too late.  Accept His invitation to enter your life, forgive your sins, and make you a new creation.  Don't believe the lies!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

TOOLS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his
face always. Remember the wonders he has
done, his miracles, and the judgments he
pronounced." -- (1 Chronicles 16:11-12)

Many years ago, I heard a sermon on the importance of keeping a record of what God has done in our lives.  The account of David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37) was used as an illustration.  David, remembering how God gave him the strength to wrestle a lion and strong-arm a bear that had snatched a lamb from his father's flock, was able to boldly proclaim, The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:37)

Inspired by this message, I gathered all my bits and pieces of paper with scribbled notes of things the Lord had done, organized them by topic, and copied them into a tabbed notebook, along with some relevant Scripture verses and choruses.  So, for instance, I put all descriptions and dates of times the Lord rescued me from very close calls or intervened to turn a negative situation around for good under the God's Grace tab; financial breakthroughs under Jehovan Jireh, My Provider; miracles of healing under Jehovah Rapha, My Healer; and so on.  I even have a Lessons Learned tab where I've recorded times I missed out on God's very best for me because I let pride or fear keep me from making the right choice. 

On the cover I have pasted the Awesome God chorus, and added the title, Memories to Ponder on Difficult Days.

I must say, no matter how deep into the doldrums I might be, I can't stay there long if I start leafing through this notebook so full of instances of God's faithfulness, and the unexpected ways He has come through for me when I was facing issues that seemed insurmountable at the time.  It is also a great reminder of His unconditional love, and how much better His timing is than mine. 


Shortly after that, I started another tabbed notebook, a little fat one entitled, "It Is Written," each section dealing with an issue I struggle with in my personal life--Anger, Fear, Health, Discouragement, Spiritual Warfare, Who I am in the Lord, and so on--and every time I find a verse that speaks to my heart, I copy it into the appropriate section.  This little reference book has come to my rescue on more than one occasion when I was trying to think of a particular Scripture or where to find it, but my mind drew a blank.

Eventually I turned it into a published book, by the same name, which is available as a paperback, and also in Kindle or Nook versions (see the sidebar of this blog if you are interested in purchasing a copy).  If you are reading this post though, and would like a free PDF you can download to your computer,  leave me a comment with your e-mail address, and I'll be happy to send it to you--no strings attached.   Or, you could even start one of your own.

 I've also taken to marking up my Bible by underlining verses that have special meaning to me, sometimes putting little hearts next to them, and whenever a promise is actually manifested in my life, I put a little TP (Tested and Proven) next to it, along with the date.  This helps keep me from wavering or being influenced by someone else's thoughts when I hear them say these promises are not for today.  I can tell them they've arrived too late with their message, because I've already seen them manifest in my life, and that is evidence that cannot be disputed or denied.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

WAKE UP!


 
"For God so loved the world, that he gave
his only Son, that whoever believes in him
should not perish but have eternal life."
(John 3:16 ESV) 


 A couple of times this week I've had a surreal experience.  The people around me, in the street or in a store, would suddenly appear to be wandering around in a stupor, oblivious to what was about to come.

At first I contemplated writing a short story with this scene as its preface, but those thoughts were soon overshadowed by more foreboding ones as the words from Matthew 24:37-39 popped into mind--As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

I wanted to scream and scream, "Wake, up, wake up!"  I wanted to loudly proclaim the message of the Gospel.  But I didn't.  I remained silent as I continued to observe the passers by.  And yet how differently that would have played out had I seen someone headed towards some imminent danger such as a cavernous hole in the sidewalk.  It would have been unconscionable of me not to warn them about it, even yanking them aside if necessary. So why this hesitation when the threat is spiritual and, therefore, invisible?  For me, it's the fear of rejection, of being judged, but I know that I can't let those fears stop me any longer. There's too much at stake.  

Don't be deceived, as I once was, into thinking that there are many paths to God, or that we get to Heaven by being good. Although we were created to have fellowship with the Lord, Adam and Eve's sin caused us to be born into a fallen world. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," and in Romans 6:32, that "the wages of sin is death."  Because of sin, a vast gulf separates us from our Heavenly Father, and there is no way we can cross it through our own efforts. Only one path can lead us to eternal life, and that is Jesus, "The way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him]" (John 14:6).

The good news is that "God so loved the world [you and me included] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God loves you so much that even if you were the only person on this Earth, He would still have sent Jesus to die for your sins so you could be forgiven and set free.

This gift of salvation that is being handed to you can only be received by grace, through faith. It cannot be earned by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9), and as much as it is not God's will for anyone to perish, He will not impose His will on you or force you to accept it. The choice is yours.

Jesus stands at the door of your heart, knocking and waiting for you to answer (Revelation 3:20). I pray that you would open the door before it is too late, and accept His invitation to enter your life, forgive you of your sins, and make you a new creation.