Shirley’s Soliloquy #73

12/25/05

"It Doesn’t End There!"
 

To me there is something very special about Christmas falling on Sunday this year!  Sunday is the day we normally go to Church, worship the Lord, and fellowship with other Christians.  In the days of the early Church, the Bible says that the believers in Jesus Christ set aside the first day of the week for that very purpose.  So it seemed fitting that we at Grace Bible Fellowship should do the same thing.  After our morning worship service, we will have a potluck for those who do not have families around.  We have 30 people signed up so far, so this should be a very special day for us to worship the Lord, fellowship with the saints, and think about what Christ Jesus did for us.

I can’t help but be amazed when I ponder all Jesus gave up.  He was God!  But yet He appeared in human form to be born, not in a palace, but in a stable!  He wasn’t born to royalty, but to a lowly family.  He lived among mankind and was so often misunderstood.  He suffered greatly, being rejected even by those who called themselves His friends.  He even allowed Himself to be put to death on a cross and be buried in someone else’s tomb!  At that time, the only way people could pay for their sins was to give an animal sacrifice that had to be perfect, “without blemish.”  While Jesus was in the world, He was perfect in every way.  The Bible says He had no sin, yet He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.  He was the perfect sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.  So now we don’t have to give sacrifices for our sins anymore, because Jesus died once for all, paying the price for us.  However, He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven where He now intercedes for us!  But it doesn’t end there!  One day He promised to return & catch us up to be with Him forever.  As the Bible says, this is our blessed hope!  And it all began with His first coming!
 

“Though He was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.
  He made himself nothing,
 He took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form
 And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further
 by dying a criminal’s death on a cross.
 Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven
 and gave him a name that is above every other name,
 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow,
 in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
 to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #72

12/18/05

"Christmas Light"
 

Our daughter and grandchildren are visiting us this week.  We’ve had a wonderful time together!  But, as the saying goes, ‘All good things must come to an end.’  So we decided since it was the last night we’d be together, we’d go to the beach to see the sunset.  It was beautiful!  We watched as the sun sank slowly into the Gulf of Mexico.  After it had set, there was a glorious display of colors all around the sky.  Then we turned around and saw the full moon shining brightly in the sky.  I thought, ‘God’s lights!  He gave the sun to shine by day and the moon and stars by night!’  What a designer our God is!

Early this morning I got up.  It was still dark outside.  I didn’t want to turn any lights on because I didn’t want to disturb anyone.  But I was eager to begin the day to be with them.  However, they were still sleeping.  So I tiptoed to the bathroom where I could put the light on.  My computer cord was on the floor and because I couldn’t see it, I caught my toe on it.  It’s difficult when it’s dark!

This Christmas season I’m thankful for the True Light Who came into the world to be my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
 

“In Him was life,
and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness…”
“There was the true light which coming into the world,
 enlightens every man.”  (John 1:4-5, 9)

Jesus also said,
“While I am in the world,
I am the light of the world.”
(John 9:5)

For you were formerly darkness,
But now you are light in the Lord,
Walk as children of light.”
(Ephesians 5:8)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #71

12/11/05

"Examples Of His Power"
 

As I was waking this morning, my mind drifted back to a few days ago when we were walking along the beach.  It was very quiet and peaceful.  There were no people around except for a couple so far down the shore they seemed like toy people.  The waves were lapping gently on the shore.  Then I thought, just imagine, God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them from nothing!  What a great God and Savior we have!

But that started me thinking.  God could have created, and then left it all to run its course.  But that’s not what He did.  He stayed with His chosen people through all those centuries, performing amazing miracles all along the way, trying to guide them, even though they often grumbled and disobeyed.  The Old Testament is an amazing story of how all this happened.

On the other hand, God could have created every living thing as puppets so they would obey His will.  But He didn’t.  He gave people the ability to make their own choices, whether good or bad.  That didn’t always turn out very good.  In fact, He got so disgusted with the evil ways and imaginations that He told Noah to build an ark so he and his family and the animals and birds could be saved.  Then God destroyed the rest of the world with the flood.  But afterwards, He said He would never destroy the world with a flood again, and He gave the rainbow as a sign of His promise.  There were many times, however, that the people continued in their evil ways, and He gave up on them, simply letting them go their own way.  He is long-suffering, but there can come an end to His patience with us as individuals and also as a people.  The Bible says that at the end of the world, God will again bring judgment.  But He will save all those who have exercised faith in Him.   The Bible is full of very interesting examples for us.  The Apostle Paul wrote about them.   This encourages me to continue to read all the way through the Bible each year, so that I can learn from such examples.
 

“Now these things happened to them
As as an example,
And they were written for our instruction.”
1 Corinthians 10:11  (NAS)

For whatever was written in earlier time was written for our instruction,
That through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures
We might have hope.”
Romans 15:4 (NAS)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #70

12/04/05

"How Will We Be Known?"
 

What exciting days these are!  We are making the move to our new church building this week!  What a lot of work went into that move!  My poor husband could hardly walk the first time he came home after helping during the building process.  He was making a platform and used muscles he’d forgotten he had!  I’m sure there were a lot of sore muscles among all the people who were helping!  My mind started wandering to the prospects of being in a new community.  Word will spread quickly that there is a new church.  How will we be known in this location?  Often during the last year of my reading through the Bible, my mind was struck by the exhortation that we should love one another.  And again this morning, I read in 1 Peter 4:8, “Most important of all continue to show deep love for each other….”

God’s love is a constant thread throughout the New Testament.  He gave His only begotten Son, so that those who believe in Him might be saved.  That’s LOVE!  We find the subject of love not only in the Gospels, but also in all of the epistles.  I was astounded by the amount of times love is mentioned when I was looking through the concordance.  The following is a sampling from the epistles (NAS)
 

“Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
 1 Corinthians 13:13
“… through love serve one another.”  Galatians 5:13
“…walk in love, as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us…  Ephesians 5:2
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more…”   Philippians 1:9
“we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints…” Colossians 1:9
“…you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9
“…Pursue love….”  1 Timothy 6:11
“let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.”  Hebrews 10:24
“…fervently love one another from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22
“let us love one another, for love is from God.”  1 John 4:7

So, how shall we be known in our community?  How do we want to be known?

“A new commandment I give unto you,  that ye love one another,
 as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples,
If ye have love one to another.”
 John 13:34-35  (KJV)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #69

11/27/05

"Accomplishments"
 

I had the most wonderful bona fide cappuccino today, and enjoyed it more than any others I’ve had in a long time.  But unfortunately, I think it must not have been decaffeinated, because after I went to bed, my mind was very active.  So instead of running and rerunning my thoughts over and over in my mind, I decided it would be better if I’d get up and write them.

I kept thinking of the early years of my relationship with my boyfriend who became my finance’, and then my husband.  I continued down memory lane through the fifty years of our marriage.  My mind drifted back to the stories he told me of when he was growing up in London, England during the 2nd World War.  This was a time when the education of the children was regularly interrupted by the incessant bombing.   I believe this is what gave him an insatiable desire for learning.  This became apparent after he accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior at the age of 18.  He wanted to better himself for service for his Master.  So during his British Military career, he took every educational course that was offered to the servicemen.  He eventually came to the United States in order to attend the Milwaukee Bible Institute.  This is where we first met.  Later he attended the University of London, England, studying Hebrew.  He attended the University of Perugia in Italy for Italian studies.  On returning to the United States, he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Malone College and his Master of Arts degree from Kent State University.  While attending the University of Akron for his doctoral degree, he passed the language requirements for Italian, French, and German.  This was in addition to his years of the study of Greek and Hebrew.  I was very proud of him.  He also earned his Master of Divinity Degree from the Chicago Graduate School of Theology.  A few years later he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the American Christian College.  When I thought he was never going to stop going to institutions of higher learning, he did!  But through all these years until today, he never stopped studying the Bible.  He has an insatiable desire to learn more of God’s Word.

I think another reason my thoughts were running along these lines was because lately I have been thinking of the Apostle Paul.  He was a man with an impressive pedigree, yet when he shared it, he considered it to be like a garbage heap (Phil. 3:1-9).  His main desire was to gain Jesus Christ and be His servant.  Putting it in a nutshell, that is exactly our desire too.  Any earthly accomplishments we might have are absolutely nothing compared with knowing the Lord!  Just think, He’s given us His righteousness, His peace, and His joy.  They are more than enough!  Eternity holds such a wonderful promise for us, and our earthly sojourn here seems shorter all the time.  So we do everything we can to make ourselves more effective servants of His.  How wonderful it would be to hear the Lord say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”
 

“…that in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell.”
Colossians 1:18b-19 (KJV)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #68

11/20/05

"Give Thanks"
 

Yesterday I realized that Thanksgiving Day is almost upon us!  How quickly the time flies by!  It is a good thing for families to be together and give thanks.  With this in mind, my thoughts went to our grandson, Jake who is a long way from home in college.  Probably because he’s also in the state of Florida, I think of him being nearby.  However, my husband reminded me there are probably ten hours of driving time separating us.  Florida is a big state!  Anyway, I asked Jake if Pensacola Christian College gave the students many days off for Thanksgiving.  It would be nice if he could come for a visit.  He assured me that he would be with us for Christmas, but it wouldn’t be possible for Thanksgiving.

Then my thoughts drifted to Thanksgiving as we celebrate it today.  Often these services encourage Christians to give thanks publicly.  However sometimes it appears as if there is some uncertainty and even a loss for words.  But according to the Bible, this should never be!  As I was reading Psalm 105 this morning, I realized again how giving thanks to the Lord is a recurring theme all through the Bible.  I thought of the prayers of the Old Testament prophets.  How many times my heart welled up within me while I was reading those prayers!  In the New Testament, I particularly appreciate the prayers of the Apostle Paul.  I realized how these prayers are full of praise, thanks, and petitions.  I began to tell myself that I needed to be more conscious of this pattern.  How often my prayers end up being like a long grocery list!  I need to stop and think of who the Lord God is and what He has done for mankind through the centuries.  Especially I need to stop and think of all He has done for me!

As I was reading this Psalm, my mind reflected on how many ways the Lord has helped my husband and me over the past year.  Yes, sometime even ways that seemed miraculous!  It really is good to have time set aside when we can stop, think about, actively acknowledge, and thank the Lord for all the wonderful things that He has done!  I need to consciously do this all through the year.

“Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his miracles.
Exult in his holy name; O worshipers of the Lord, rejoice!
Search for the Lord and for his strength, And keep on searching.
Think of the wonderful works he has done,
The miracles and the judgments he handed down."
Psalm 105:1-5  (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #67

11/13/05

"In All Things Give Thanks?"
 

This is sometimes very hard to do!  I remember shortly after my Mom died, I read that passage, and ‘kinda’ rebelled against it.  It’s not possible!  How can I give thanks for Mom’s death?  I miss her!  I loved her so much!  I meditated on that for a long time.  But gradually, I started thinking.  If Mom hadn’t died, she would very likely have been bed-ridden the rest of her life with an oxygen mask, and others would have had to care for her.  She wouldn’t have been happy. He took her before she had to suffer any more.  She had lived past her three score and ten years, to 85 years of age.  Now I am thankful for the wonderful Mom I had all those years!  But I will still always miss her.

For quite some time I’ve been having a problem with pain in my lower back, hip, and leg down into the foot.  But just last week it got really severe.  It handicapped me from walking, moving, and even sitting.  It didn’t seem to improve.  In desperation, I called my rheumatologist in Michigan for advise, and he prescribed Darvecet for me until I could get to a doctor.  Not knowing any doctors here, we asked around and got a doctor’s name.  However, we couldn’t get an appointment for two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Darvecet just didn’t seem to help the pain much, and my condition seemed to render me useless.  In desperation my husband took me to a Walk-in Clinic that is located near where we are living.  The doctor was very thorough.  He ordered what seemed like umpteen vials of blood work, took a multitude of x-rays, then sent me to the hospital radiology department for a MRI.  He was very attentive.  All the results showed that in addition to the Rheumatoid Arthritis acting up again and some other things, I also have Spinal Stenosis.  Now I am marveling at how we found this clinic and a doctor who is so thorough, knowledgeable, and helpful.  I firmly believe the Lord has His hand in this.  And I know, because I’ve experienced it, that the Lord can turn bad situations around for good.

So I am expectantly looking to Him, eagerly waiting to see what He is going to do this time!  After all, He wants what is best for His children!  And I am one of His children!  So I can say confidently with the Apostle Paul,

“Always be full of  joy in the Lord.  I say it again—rejoice!…
Don’t worry about anything; Instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
If you do this, you will experience God’s peace,
Which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #66

11/06/05

"Almighty God"
 

What a great and mighty God we serve!  I was reading the prophet Jeremiah this morning, and when I came to chapter 51, verses 15-16, & 19, I was praising the Lord for His goodness to us.  He has so much power, He is such a mighty God!  He could wipe us all out like He did in the days of Noah.  Those people had become so evil, they turned their backs on God, and He (humanly speaking) got sick of it and wiped them out with the exception of Noah and his family.  They were the only godly people on the earth, and the Lord saved them from total destruction.

Sometimes I wonder about all the hurricanes that we’ve been having.  I’ve contemplated the flooding, the earthquakes, and the threats of Asian Bird flu around the world.  It seems to me that they are increasing.  But then, as I think about it, so is the turning away from God!  People are flagrantly cursing God, and totally disobeying Him and going their own way.  I wonder what it will take to cause a revival in respect and worship of the one true God.

Jeremiah wrote powerful and thought-provoking words,
 

“He made the earth by his power,
And he preserves it by his wisdom.
He has stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he speaks, there is thunder in the heavens.
He causes the clouds to rise over the earth.
He sends the lightning with the rain
And releases the wind from his storehouses.
Compared to him, all people are foolish
And have no knowledge at all….
He is the Creator of everything that exists,…
The Lord Almighty is his name”.
Jeremiah 51:15-17, 19  (NLT)

Sometimes I think we need to forget about our self-centered lives, and focus more directly on Him and His will for our lives.  May we do as the Psalmist urged:
 

"Exalt the Lord our God!
Bow low before his feet, for he is holy!"
Psalm 99:5 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #65

10/30/05

"Delightful"
 

What a delightful time we had Sunday late afternoon, evening, and Monday!  Because of the hurricane threat and living so close to the Gulf, we were advised to evacuate.  Several people offered their hospitality to us for the duration, but we accepted the invitation of Pastor Dave Siegmann & his wife and four children in Orlando.

Our time with them brought back many memories of when our children were young.  Their exuberant welcome was a joy to our hearts.  We loved sitting and reading to them.  It was interesting to see the materials Mrs. Siegmann was using to instruct them.  And it was good to see them busy at work on Monday even though the Public School children had the day off.  It warmed our hearts to hear their industriousness with no complaining or procrastinating.  They were well-behaved indeed, and truly a credit to their parents.

In the afternoon after the hurricane had passed, we visited our good friends, the Samworth’s, with whom we enjoyed fellowship several years ago when they were at the Scriptorium in Michigan.  They also traveled with us in England during that time, so we felt a special closeness with them.  It was good to catch up on the years since they relocated in Orlando at the Scriptorium in the Holy Land Experience.

Tuesday morning, we left early so we could stop in Tampa to see Dresh, the son of our good friends the Krause’s in Mobile, Alabama.  He had been badly injured and paralyzed in the rock-climbing accident in California after his two tours of duty in Iraq.  He was just returning to his room after therapy.  But how our hearts ached as we saw him in the wheel-chair, especially when we remembered what he was like before the accident.  But he has progressed amazingly!  He is now able to speak slightly, and move some of his limbs just a bit.  We’re grateful for the good doctors and the care he is receiving, but we feel the Lord has miraculously had His hand in his recovery so far.  It was a joy before we left for my husband to read the Scriptures and pray with him.  We prayed that the Lord would continue to intercede in the healing process so that he will once again be able to lead a normal life.

Then it was good to be back in Venice, and see that this beautiful city has been spared much of the destruction from the hurricane that other parts of Florida suffered.  And it is good to be back doing the ministry for which we feel the Lord has called us during this time while we are here.
 
 

““For you have been called to live in freedom…
 freedom to serve one another in love.”
Galatians 5:13 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #64

10/23/05

"Coincidence?"
 

I find it very interesting to make note of the number of “coincidences” there are in my life!  Just this week I had another one.

I’ve been having a fair amount of pain for some time now, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  I’ve been putting it before the Lord in my prayers, but so far He hasn’t answered my prayer the way I was wishing!

Then recently we got a magazine where a Christian brother presented a well-written article on the Christian life.  At the end of the article there was a note describing him.  He is very interested and committed to natural methods of taking care of our bodies.  That struck a chord with me, because I’ve always hated taking any kind of medication!  So my husband wrote him, asking his advice about my condition.  He wrote back giving me several suggestions and also recommending the book, “The Maker’s Diet,” by Jordan Rubin.

We went to the library right away to see if we could find it and take it out.  Since it was the first time we had visited this library, I went to the librarian and asked her if they had computers where I could check to see if they had it. She asked what the name of the book was, and I told her.  She said, “Oh, wait here a minute, I think I saw that book when I was sorting out some books to put on the free shelf!”  So she went in the back, and amazingly, she came back with it.  She said, “Here it is!  It’s yours free!”  I was so startled!  She had to repeat that it was a gift, until finally the fact sunk in!  They not only had the book for me to take out on loan, but amazingly it was available without charge!  I could take it as a gift and not worry about returning it in the time allotted!  I could use it as a reference book!

Now I see that the Lord is answering my prayer in a way that is much better for me!  Truly, the Lord answers before we call!  He does super abundantly above all that we could ask or even think!
 
 
 

“Now glory be to God!
By His mighty power at work within us,
He is able to accomplish
 infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.”
Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #63

10/16/05

"Memorization"
 

After our Prayer Meeting and Bible Study at Church last night, I was talking with Alisa, one of the young people at our Church.  Her mother is using ‘A Beka’ Books from Pensacola Christian College to ‘Home School’ her.  Alisa told me that she had just finished memorizing large portions of the Bible.  That really caught my attention, because there doesn’t seem to be very much memorizing of Scriptures going on lately.  So I was very interested!  I asked her which ones she had been required to memorize, and she told me the references.  Many of them I had memorized when I was a child and on through my teen years, but some of the ones she mentioned were difficult for me to place the verse with the reference!  When she told me where they were found, I looked them up and again enjoyed them.  What beautiful passages of Scripture!  What a blessing to hear a teenager recite them!  I was quite impressed!

Through the years the memory verses that I had learned as a youngster have continued to be a comfort to me.  To be able to recall them to mind at various times and in difficult places has been very handy!  For example, I remember when I was having a MRI years ago.  At that time they had a long tunnel that was only inches away from the face, and I couldn’t move.  I did a lot of praying and also recited as many Scripture verses as I could remember.  What a great help that was through a difficult time, and it even ended up being a blessing.  Many other times when I was in difficult circumstances, I would recall appropriate Scriptures that seemed to give me strength and courage.  I’ve always been grateful for not only my Sunday School teachers and parents, but particularly for my older sister who challenged me to systematically memorize portions of the Scripture that she assigned to me.  And because I loved her and thought so much of her, I wanted to please her.  So I did it!  In past years, I’ve often tried memorizing again, but it has never been as easy as it was when I was younger.

So when I was listening to Alisa, the following Scriptures came to mind that continue to challenge me to memorize more!
 
 

“Thy Word have I hid in my heart,
That I might not sin against Thee."
Psalm 119:11

"Thy Word  is a lamp unto my feet
And a light unto my path."
Psalm 119:105
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #62

10/09/05

"Inner Strength"
 

On Sunday my husband was speaking in Coden, Alabama in the morning, and at the Grace Bible Church of Mobile in the evening.  Both of these churches have organs with no organists.  I have usually played the organ for them when we were worshipping with them.  But when I started thinking about being there, I was apprehensive because I have not had an organ or piano in front of me for the last half year!

I remembered the first Sunday last year when we were in Mobile at the Grace Bible Church.  They have a big, beautiful organ!  And they asked me to play it for them.  I was almost paralyzed with fear when I opened the book to the first hymn!  Just about every note in the bass was all over the pedals.  It was a lot of fancy footwork.  Then I remembered that in Christ, I can do all things, because He strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  So I cried out to the Lord!  ‘I can’t do this on my own!  Please be my hands, be my feet, be my intellect!  Use me for Your glory!  I NEED YOU!’  And He was with me.  I felt really comfortable and was quite proficient.  How I praised Him and gave Him the glory!  It seems so amazing that He has limited Himself in order to use us!

As I was reading through the book of Ephesians last week, I came to the most wonderful passage that I’ve read many times.  But this time it hit me like a bolt of light probably because of thinking about the possibility of playing the organs without any practice!

This passage talks of God, the Creator of everything in heaven and earth, giving us from His glorious unlimited resources ‘mighty inner strength!’  How is it possible that the God who created the heaven and the earth could even pay any attention to mankind?  And even more astounding is the question, how could the God who created the heaven and the earth be interested in an insignificant mortal like me!  And further, for Him to not only be interested, but be willing to give that mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit to people like me?  How often I’ve felt the need of this inner strength, not only in instances like this, but others as well!  So often I feel my smallness and incapability to do anything by myself.  But He is faithful.  He never fails me.
 

“When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan,
 I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,
the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.
 I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources
He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit."
 Ephesians  3:14-16 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #61

10/02/05

"More than I’d Hope?"
 

“When I think of the wisdom and scope of God’s plan,
I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,
the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.
I pray that from his glorious unlimited resources
he will give you mighty inner strength through his Holy Spirit.
And I pray that Christ will be more and more at home in your hearts as you trust in Him.
May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.
And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should,
How wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.
May you experience the love of Christ,
Though it is so great you will never fully understand it.
Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now glory be to God!
By his mighty power at work within us,
He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope.”
Ephesians 3:14-20
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #60

09/25/05

"Close Behind You"
 

Close to a year ago, we began to feel that the time we would be in southern Alabama was limited.  We couldn’t understand why, but we left it in the Lord’s hands, knowing He would make it clear where He would like us instead.  It is really a strange thing, but His intervention has happened so many times in our lives, that we were quite sure it was the Lord’s prompting.  Anyway, as the weeks drew nearer to the time we usually went south, we realized that it wouldn’t be possible for us to go to southern Alabama.  So I began to look forward to the idea of staying up north and to enjoy the beautiful snowy winter!  I’ve long ago realized that I am content in “whatsoever state I am,” just as long as the Lord is with me.

Then, just a few weeks ago, my husband received an invitation to minister in Venice, Florida for the weekend.  They flew him down, and it turns out they need a pastor.  We are available.  I began to wonder…Hum, is this the Lord at work again?  A couple weeks later the church voted unanimously to call us.  So my husband told them we could only stay for a half a year, but that was ok with them.  He told me they are wonderful people, and it is a nice location.  He feels there is great potential for the small church in that corner of the Lord’s vineyard!

Shortly after he got home from Florida, he traveled to Ohio where he was scheduled to speak at a Men’s Retreat, and also preach on Sunday.  Now we have a week to organize for a trip south for the winter.  In a few days, Lord willing, we’ll be on our way.

But this is the way the Lord works.  He doesn’t give us grace before we need it, but when we need it, it is there.  He closes doors and opens doors in His perfect timing!  I’ve come to love Him more and more and thank Him more and more for His continued interest in our lives!  I know He walks before us and prepares the way, so we need never fear whatever our path might be.  As long as He is with me, I’ll go anywhere.

A couple days ago I read the following Scripture that echoed the thoughts of my heart!
 

"I lie awake thinking of you,
Meditating on you through the night;
I think how much you have helped me;
I sing for joy in the shadow of your protecting wings.
I follow close behind you;
Your strong right hand holds me securely."
Psalm 63:6-8 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #59

09/18/05

"No End of Opinions"
 

We were talking with a young man a month or so ago.  He had read Plato, Pascale, Nietsche, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Mein Kamp, and had studied many of the world’s religions.  He was obviously searching.  He asked very intelligent questions.  He couldn’t see why anyone should make a decision for Christ when there were so many other religions that also thought they were right.  The Apostle Paul warns Timothy to beware of people who are “always studying, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth.”

I remember the two men who came to our door in Italy, and my husband asked them into our apartment.  When they wouldn’t listen to him, he asked them according to their literature what he needed to do to be saved.  They proceeded to tell him, and it involved a long list of requirements.  They agreed that it would take probably a half a year to study it all.  So he finally suggested to them that if he were to be fair, he should also study the other religions of the world like they wanted him to study theirs.  They readily agreed.  But when he told them it would take him maybe 200 years to do that, and he didn’t think he had 200 years, they became disgusted with him and left.

How many times do we meet people like these?  They seem to be afraid to put their trust in Christ.  Someone said, “Just think.  If I’m wrong in believing in Christ according to the Scriptures, what do I lose?  But if I’m right, I’ve hit the jackpot!”  Some of our top scientists have spent a great deal of time searching the Bible to see what it was all about.  They were trying to prove it wrong, but instead they ended up realizing that it was the only Truth spelled with a capital T!  They ended up giving their lives to Christ!

I was reading Ecclesiastes the other morning, and came upon the 12th chapter.  I got excited when I read the words in verses 12-14!  I thought right away of the young man who has been on my heart and in my prayers.

“But my child, be warned:
There is no end of opinions ready to be expressed.
Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting!
Here is my final conclusion:
Fear God and obey his commands, for this is the duty of every person.
God will judge us for everything we do,
Including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #58

09/11/05

"Foaming & Roaring Oceans"

God is our refuge and strength,
Always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear, even if earthquakes come
And the mountains crumble into the sea.
  Let the oceans roar and foam,
Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!
…Be silent, and know that I am God!
…The Lord Almighty is here among us!
Psalm 46:1-3, 10, 11 (NLT)

These powerful words that I read in the Psalms have been in my mind lately because our daughter and I have just returned from Pensacola, Florida and southern Alabama.  What timing!  Hurricane Katrina had made a visit to the Gulf just the week before.  We saw broken roads and huge piles of sand once again covering our beloved Gulf Shores.  We saw large piles of debris and branches in yards and all along the roads.  Our hearts were heavy because we have so many loved ones living in the Gulf coast region.  One of our dear church families lost their home and is now living with a dear saint of God who opened her home to them.  Another friend’s sister died, and they couldn’t bury her for a week.  All over people had been without power for almost a week.  Gas stations had plastic grocery bags on the pumps – no gas.  If one station could be found with a few pumps of gas, there were long lines down the street waiting to get some.  Lives have been interrupted again by all the clean up after the hurricane.  It will be some time, if ever, before life continues as before for many of them.  We felt so helpless!  However we know that God isn’t helpless!

During one of our recent Bible Studies we were learning about the meaning of the words “Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence.”  These words mean that God is all-powerful! He is all knowing!  And He is ever present!  I think of the verse in Philippians 4:19 where the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Philippi that “this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”  That’s an impressive statement!  God will supply all our needs!  He knows what is going on, He’s all-powerful, and He is with us!

It will be some time, if ever, before life continues as before for many of these people caught in the path of Hurricane Katrina.  But yet, the Psalmist wrote The Lord Almighty is here among us.”   Matthew records that the very hairs on our head are all numbered (10:30)!  So yes, even though the oceans roar and foam and the waters surge, we are sure that He is God, and that He, the Lord Almighty, is here among us!  We take comfort in His presence and help in time of need.
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #57

09/4/05

"My Mediator"

Yesterday we were at the memorial service for Fred Hoffman, Jr., the son of our friends Fred & Joyce Hoffman.  He was a missionary/pastor who worked in Romania.  My husband was to have the message for the service.  During the service, many people spoke of the extent of Fred Jr.’s influence.  It was a time of rich blessing.  His wife and two children are trying to continue the ministry.  Afterward when I talked with Fred’s mother, Joyce, I could see deep pain in her eyes.  I could almost feel her heartache over losing her son, even though she knows and appreciates the way the Lord had used him in such a remarkable way for so many years.
Then this morning when I was reading the book of Job, a phrase seemed to catch my consciousness.  Job had lost everything, even his health.  His friends came to comfort him.  But in my opinion, they failed miserably.  They did anything but encourage him!  Each time one spoke, Job responded.  From the anguish in his heart, he exclaimed how he wished that there were a mediator who could bring his case to God.  He said,

“God is not a mortal like me,
so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
If only there were a mediator who could bring us together,
But there is none….
Then I could speak to him without fear,
But I cannot do that in my own strength."
Job. 9:32-33

It is so sad to think of all he had to suffer without a personal mediator.  What a difference it makes to be able to go to God with all our cares, knowing He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).  And the reason we can go to Him is because of Jesus.  He came to this world and lived a perfect life.  Hebrews 4:15 says that he “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  So that made him a perfect sacrifice to take all our sins on himself.  He paid for them in full.  The 16th verse continues to tell us to come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in our time of need.

This is possible because we do have a mediator!  Jesus Christ himself is our mediator.  Joyce, her husband, and family have hope and comfort that those Old Testament saints never had.  They have a mediator who feels our sorrow and pain!

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men,
The man Christ Jesus.”
1 Timothy 2:5
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #56

08/28/05

"Anemic, Hollow Christians"
 

I’ve decided that I have an anemic ice cube maker in my refrigerator.  The cubes that do come out are nothing but hollow ice cubes.  They might be pretty, but they fall short of what they should be.

We had company for dinner a couple days ago, and they were teasing me about my hollow ice cubes.  Eventually, the men put their heads together and decided that either there was a kink in the tube, or the water wasn’t getting through.  My brother-in-law pulled the refrigerator out, and checked the tubing and announced that it wasn’t the tubing.  Then they were going to check the water supply.  But my husband said he would do that later.  So this morning he went downstairs and turned the water on a little more.  But I still have hollow ice cubes.  I wonder if he’d turn it on full if they would be solid?

I thought to myself, isn’t that like some Christians?  The Bible says we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit.  There’s nothing half way or hollow about that.  Getting filled by the Holy Spirit isn’t just a Sunday morning thing of passively attending church feeling my duty is done.  It is wonderful going to Church, seeing my friends, and hearing the Word, but that isn’t enough.  We’d probably be hollow Christians if that were the extent of our endeavor.  No, instead we do need to keep being filled!  We can’t use just a little bit of the Word.  It has to be a daily, moment by moment awareness and communion with the Lord.  Being kept filled - it’s a continual filling.

I like the graphic analogy in Ephesians 5:18 that says:

"Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life.
Instead let the Holy Spirit fill and control you."

The picture of a drunken person is not pretty.  That person is under the control of the wine, and he does and says things that later he regrets.  The unfortunate thing is that it affects those around him.  He might be forgiven, but it is difficult to forget the unpleasantness.  This is such a graphic analogy, because when we are constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit, we are under the influence of the Holy Spirit.  These Christians will not be hollow and empty, but fruitful and productive.  Then the result is that we will manifest the fruits of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galatians 5:18:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
 gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance.
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #55

08/21/05

"School Days"
 

Well, it’s almost that time of year again.  The youngsters will be heading back to school.  I remember the first day of school when my fourth graders would come hesitantly into the classroom.  It was their first day with a new teacher and in a new room.  Quite possibly they even needed to learn new class rules.  I loved getting to know the students those first days.  I loved even more the satisfaction when I saw them learning!  They worked so hard, and I was very proud of them.

I also remember my high school graduation, and then going away to college.  It was a big step, and a bit frightening!  I was fortunate because I knew a few people who would also be going.  But many don’t know anyone when they first arrive.

Our grandson and granddaughter, Matthew & Hope, will soon be going away to different colleges.  This is a big day in their lives!  Leaving home for the first time isn’t easy.  I’m getting nervous for them!  When they go, they won’t know anyone, but they will continue to be in my prayers!

And even though those of us who are older are no longer in a formal educational setting, we should still be learning.  The mind is like a muscle, it will become lazy without much use.  In these days, it seems many people are simply passively watching television instead of reading or learning something new.  But on the other hand, we should never become self confident and boastful with our expanding knowledge.  I came across a wonderful section in First Corinthians today in the New Living Translation!  It says:
 
 

“While knowledge may make us feel important,
it is love that really builds up the church.
Anyone who claims to know all the answers
Doesn’t really know very much.
But the person who loves God
Is the one God knows and cares for.”
1 Corinthians 8:1-3
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #54

08/14/05

"Harps Hanging onWillows"
 

When I was teaching metaphors to my fourth grade class, I used to ask them to draw a literal picture of the metaphor.  It would look very silly, and they realized that wasn’t what the writer was trying to say.  So then we discussed the writer’s meaning.

After I had written the soliloquy about the harp, our friend Norman G. wrote me about Psalm 137.  So I read the Psalm this morning.  What a mental picture!  The Israelites had been wrenched from their homes and taken into captivity in Babylon.  I can hear the despair coming through the Psalmist when he wrote, “We sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows…for they that carried us away captive required of us a song…How shall we sing the LORD’s song in a strange land?”

Really how would it be possible to sing a joyous song when the heart is breaking?  A couple of days ago the daughter of our good friends Fred & Joyce H. called my husband.  Their son who was serving as a missionary in Romania had died.  How is it possible for someone who is serving the Lord in a foreign country to die?  How is it possible for one’s son to die?  Aren’t parents supposed to go first?  Certainly their breaking hearts would silence their harps by placing them on the branches of the trees.

This morning I received an update from AJ & Caroline K.  Their son had been in a coma for 35 days and is still in very serious condition.  According to AJ, his eyes respond a little but he can’t move or talk.  The doctors fear permanent brain damage.  He served two tours in Iraq.  He won a Presidential Unit Citation Award, and was awarded the Leader Warrior Award that only had been given five times in American history, the last time 21 years ago.  He came back to this country and fell while rock climbing.  Heartache!  During this time of suffering, how could their breaking hearts do anything but hang their harps on the willows?  We pray earnestly for all these dear friends.

These stories could be multiplied many times, but the Psalmist says in the next Psalm,
 

I will praise thee with my whole heart…
And praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth;
For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
In the day when I cried thou answeredst me,
And strengthenedst me with strength in my soul.”
Psalm 138:1-3 (KJV)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #53

08/07/05

"Praise the Lord!"

The harp has always been an intriguing instrument to me, maybe because of the reference in the Bible about King Saul.  He was so troubled, and the only way he could find relief was for young David, a shepherd, to play the harp for him.  The Bible says, then King Saul was refreshed.  (I Samuel 16).  This year, I’ve become aware of the numerous times the harp is mentioned along with other instruments in the Bible.  It has caught my attention to such an extent that I started underlining the references.

Last week when I saw an article in the newspaper about Harpists in concert at a nearby library, I cut it out and put it on the refrigerator, knowing I’d love to attend.  Then last night I asked my husband if he would take some time off to go with me to this concert.  He agreed!  Both of us found it very informative and interesting.  After the concert, we decided to relax a bit more by going to a dockside restaurant where we could watch the boats going in and out of the harbor.  This seemed to prolong the enjoyment.

This afternoon, Psalm 150 came to my mind.  Its emphasis is upon everything praising the Lord!  No matter what the instrument, no matter who the person, or what the voice, everything can praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!
 Praise God in his heavenly dwelling
Praise him in his mighty heaven!
Praise him for his mighty works;
Praise his unequaled greatness!
Praise him with a blast of the trumpet;
Praise him with the lyre and harp!
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
Praise him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise him with a clash of cymbals,
Praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
Let everything that lives sing praises to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150:1-6 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #52

07/31/05

"Pain"
 

About a month ago, I started having pain in my hip, leg, & foot again.  It has been so nice being without it. But now I can’t even do my normal morning exercises, and it is difficult (painful) to walk anywhere.  So I keep thinking, well, it’ll get better.  But it isn’t.  Instead it seems to be getting worse.  So I called my rheumatologist, and was given an appointment in two weeks after he gets back from his vacation.
A couple of days ago, I read the passage in 2 Chronicles 16 about King Asa.  He was king in Judah.  The Bible says he “did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the LORD his God.” (vs. 14:2).  He cried out to the Lord His God often when facing the enemies around him.  And always the LORD answered him and defeated them, (for example, see vs. 12-13).  He was told “The LORD will stay with you as long as you stay with him!  Whenever you seek him, you will find him.  But if you abandon him, he will abandon you.” (15:2)
Then later in chapter 16, I read about Asa developing a serious food disease.  The Bible says, “Even when the disease became life threatening, he did not seek the Lord’s help but sought help only from his physicians.  So he died in the forty-first year of his reign.” (vs. 12).  I found it quite interesting to read that King Asa was quick to consult with the LORD about his battles throughout his life, but when he was older, he failed to consult with the Lord about his physical condition.
                        But often that’s what I do.  I pray after I’ve had trouble for a while instead of committing the problem to Him right away.  Now I’m praying, “Lord God, you made the heavens and the earth and everything that is in them!  It would be such a simple thing for you to just touch that hip and leg problem, and it would go away!  Then I read about how the Apostle Paul asked the LORD three times to take away his “thorn in his flesh.”  He agonized over it, but the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you.  My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9).
 

“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.
Each time he said, “My gracious favor is all you need.
My power works best in your weakness.”
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses,
So that the power of Christ may work through me.
Since I know it is all for Christ’s good,
I am quite content with my weaknesses
and with insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #51

07/24/05

"The Potter & the Clay"
 

A few days ago we went to see our son Bruce at the Machine Shop where he works.  He had a moment, so he showed us a few of the things being made.  One was a “tomato sizer” machine that they had just finished.  I was amazed!  It was about 20 feet long by about 6 feet wide, and also about 6 feet tall.  It was quite impressive to think they made that enormous machine from blocks of stainless steel.

Even more fascinating was to think how all those myriad little pieces work together perfectly to make something so useful.  If even one of those pieces were off by a hundredth of an inch, the machine would have a flaw and that piece would have to be remade or it wouldn’t work properly.

It’s interesting how the Lord can take me, imperfect as I am, and begin to mold me with His other children into one body.  In 1 Corinthians 12, we read that each one of us in that body has our own particular gift.  It might not seem like much, but in the Master’s hand, He can make us into something beautiful and useful.  But I need to remember that what I have is a gift from Him.  I have no right to wish for something other than what I am.  Instead, I do need to use the gifts that He has given me to the best of my ability.

This reminded me of the passages in Isaiah and Jeremiah about a potter & some clay.
 

And yet, Lord, you are the Father.
 We are the clay and you are the potter.
 We are all formed by your hand.
Isaiah 64:8
…I found the potter working at his wheel.
 But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped,
 so the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started again.
Then the Lord gave me this message:
 O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay?
  As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”
 Jeremiah 18:3-6
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #50

07/17/05

"Becoming & Staying
Connected"
 

Several years ago, our daughter Joan gave me a little waterfall with statuesque angels sitting around it here and there.  It was always so very pretty, soothing, and relaxing to see the colors of it and hear the sound of water tinkling softly in the background.  I was told that it is good for one’s health and wellbeing to have the sound of water, to have plants that give off oxygen in the air, and to have the stability of rocks nearby.  I’ve found that to be true.

However, a few weeks ago, after making a small buzzing sound, the waterfall quit running.  I’ve missed it, especially since it was from Joan.  She and our grandchildren were here this week, and I was telling her how much I missed hearing the waterfall.  Before I knew it, my husband had taken the pump out and fixed it!  I thought, isn’t that like the Lord!  He says, “Behold I make all things new!”  He’s the great fixer in our lives.

But before He can become the great fixer in our lives, we have to be connected to Him.  If my waterfall isn’t connected, it won’t run.  I thought how like our Christian lives this is.  First of all, we need to be connected to the source of power.  That comes through believing in the Lord Jesus Christ and receiving Him as our Savior.  Then, all things become new, and we become connected to Him.  However, how often in my life do I realize that I’m trying to run on my own energy.  I become very busy and seem to be ‘spinning my wheels.’  I need to be connected with Him every day!  The Bible says we are to be renewed in our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.  “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus your Lord, so walk in Him.”  I like the way the scholars of the New Living Testament translated these verses from the Word of God.

“…just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord,
you must continue to live in obedience to him.
Let you roots grow down into him
and draw up nourishment from him,
So you will grow in faith,
 strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught.
Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
Colossians 2:6-7
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #49

07/10/05

"Practice"

I found a Hammered Dulcimer in a Yard Sale a month or so ago.  I was so taken by the haunting tone and the concept of using hammers to play it.  This was probably because I miss playing my marimba.  So anyway, I went back home, and told my husband about it.  He went back with me to look at it, and agreed to let me buy it with my birthday/anniversary money.

I got it home, and proudly cleaned it up.  It had been sitting in a closet, and was covered with dust.  Then I started to try to play it.  Well, that was another story, because the strings don’t go up the keyboard like a piano, but instead are divided into three sections across the instrument.  And I couldn’t seem to make any sense out of it.

I decided the best thing to do would be to find a music book explaining the hammered dulcimer.  The music stores around here didn’t have any.  No one around seemed to know anyone who played one.   So I tried the Internet.  I found a music teacher about an hour and a half north of where we live.  I called her, set up a date, and went up there.  It was fascinating!  I learned that it was divided into three sections and there are different patterns to learn to be able to play in different keys.   I also found out I was holding the hammers like I held my marimba hammers, and that was wrong!  So I went back home and began to practice the things I had learned.

But then when I started practicing again, I found it wasn’t as easy as it seemed!  They say, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  But I was determined to prove that statement wrong.   I soon found out that the old timer who was playing at the Symphony Orchestra gave an excellent answer to the youngster who asked him, “What is the fastest way to get into the Symphony Orchestra?”  The old timer answered, “Practice, practice, practice!”

Well, I’m getting more acquainted with the position of all the strings, am holding the hammers right most of the time, and am even playing several songs on it!  But I have a LONG way to go!

It reminds me a bit of the Christian life.  We accept Christ as our Savior, and begin our Christian pilgrimage.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Once we have received Him, we need to walk in Him.  But this takes time, because we need to study God’s Word and become more and more familiar with it.  The more we put it into practice in our daily lives, the more like Him we will become.

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord,
 so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted
 and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."
Colossians 2:6-7
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #48

07/03/05

"New Birth"

What exciting days these are!  My niece just became a grandmother!  Her oldest son is a father!  Olivia Renee is the baby’s name.
I went to the hospital to see them, and the scene was beautiful!  The new mother was in the bed holding the tiny bundle. The baby was wrapped in a receiving blanket with a tiny hat on her head.  The proud father was nearby, as were the grandparents, uncles, aunts, and friends.  I never knew so many people were allowed in a hospital room!  There were flowers and tiny gifts all around the room.  It was like a wonderful celebration party!
It reminded me of the passage in Luke 15:10 that talks about joy in heaven when one person becomes a Christian.  “There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” (NLT)  What a party!
Yes, a new birth is so special!  I think it’s interesting that the Bible uses the analogy of the new birth quite often.  For example, in John’s gospel, chapter 3, Nicodemus asked the Lord

“How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
And Jesus said,
“Humans can reproduce only human life,
 but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven.
 So don’t be surprised at my statement
 that you must be born again!….
Everyone who believes in me will have eternal life.”
The Apostle Peter also said (1 Peter 1:23 NLT),
“For you have been born again.
Your new life did not come from your earthly parents
Because the life they gave you will end in death.
But this new life will last forever
Because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.
How can we get that new life?  The Apostle Paul makes it clear when he said:
 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord
and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,
you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #47

06/26/05

"Testing"

I went to visit my sister, Julie, and brother-in-law, Loren, a couple of days ago.  My good friend, Ev Beyer, went with me.  We had a delightful trip visiting and catching up with each other’s activities.  Weather-wise it was a perfect day, and our visit with Julie was really special.  The time passed all too quickly, for we realized we needed to leave to get back home again.  On the way home, Ev shared a little of her hobby of making stained glass articles.  When we arrived at her home, she showed me what she had made.  I was very impressed with her artistic ability to make so many different beautiful objects.  The whole process was extremely interesting.

So I guess it was on my mind a little in the early hours this morning, because I was thinking of the comparisons with spiritual things.  For example, the stained glass with its various colors and textures is beautiful.  But when we hold it to the light, not only can the colors look changed, but also the slight imperfections in the glass can make for a different picture.  That reminded me of First Corinthians 13:12:  “For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face….”

I saw how Ev had some pieces cut and laid out on her table.  She was almost ready to put them together to make a lamp shade.  She explained how she needed to edge each piece with copper foil.  Then with a very hot soldering iron, she needs to solder the pieces of glass together to make a beautiful tapestry of colors and textures.

I thought of similarities to our lives.  Things might be going really good, everything might seem to be perfect.  Then all of a sudden, something happens!  The heat is applied, and it isn’t comfortable at all!  It could be illness, loved ones, friends, or something else.  Such trials are not pleasant.  We think, “Maybe God isn’t really with me.  Why is this happening to me?”

But we need to stop and think about it a minute.  Isn’t that what those beautiful pieces of glass had to go through to become something useful and beautiful?  Put through the fire!  That’s how some of our testing seems to be.  We might feel we can’t take it, it’s more than we can bear!  But the Lord said in His Word in 1 Corinthians that he will not allow us to be tested above what we are able to bear, but will with the testing, also make a way to escape that we will be able to bear it.  Then the end result turns out to be even more beautiful and we can be more effective in our lives for His service.  And we are so much happier afterwards!

"So far you have faced no trial beyond what man can bear.
 God keeps faith, and he will not allow you to be tested above your powers,
 but when the test comes he will at the same time provide a way out,
 by enabling you to sustain it."
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NEB)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #46

06/19/05

"Fathers"

I think I had more coffee than I should have had yesterday, because I had trouble sleeping.  So as usual when I wake up during the night, I pray.  I pray for our children, grandchildren, and friends.  I also like to meditate on the Lord and His Word.  The different prayers in the Bible were on my mind this time.  When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them how to pray, He told them to pray like this:  “Our Father which art in heaven.”  I like to say, ‘Our Heavenly Father” when I pray.  But during the night, that’s as far as I got, because I started thinking about fathers.

My mind went to my earthly father who is now with the Lord.  I have good memories of him.  Every weekday he’d go to work, and come home in the evening.  He was very dependable.  He was always there for us.  If something wasn’t working right, he’d fix it.  He seemed to have the answers for everything.  At dinner he’d read the Bible and pray before we ate.  Also, we knew if he said something, he meant it, and we’d better act accordingly!

But then I thought about all the children and even adults who don’t have memories like mine.  Would it be difficult for them to feel as I do about my Heavenly Father?  Their memories of their earthly fathers aren’t always good.  For me it is easy to love and trust my Heavenly Father.  Probably it is because of the example set by my earthly father.

No, I don’t think that’s entirely correct, because I do have God’s Word.  All through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, I learn more about my Heavenly Father.  Each year as I read through the Bible, I realize more and more that I can depend on Him, and He always means what He says.  Secondly, when Jesus was on earth, He said, “He that has seen me has seen the Father.”  “If you know me, you know the Father because I and my Father are one.”   He never turned anyone away who came to Him, but had compassion on all.  He never forced Himself on anyone, but accepted everyone, whether rich or poor, slaves or free, or Jews or Gentiles.  He was there for everyone in need.

And He still is today.  He’s proven Himself to be faithful in my life, and I love Him for it.
 

"So you should not be like cowering, fearful slaves.
You should behave instead like
 God’s very own children,
Adopted into his family—calling him
“Father, dear Father.”
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #45

06/12/05

"A Grand Reunion"

On Saturday, we were out with our good friends, Norman and Carol Gidney.  My husband, son Bruce, brother-in-law Burt, & Norman went golfing.  Carol and I were looking in shops in Saugatuck and Holland.  We all had lunch together after the men got back from golfing.  Then we decided to show Norman and Carol the nice apartment Bruce had found after relocating here several days ago.

 Later, as we were driving into Brook Village where we live, Bruce asked us to stop a minute in the Village House before going to our condo.  We were eager to get home, but he was insistent.  We were up to the Village House, so we stopped.  He got out of the car and was walking up to the door, but I quickly caught up with him, because he didn’t have a key to get in.  Suddenly the door opened, and I saw my niece.  She immediately gave me the biggest hug!  As I was wondering why she was there, suddenly my eyes lifted and I saw our daughter, Linda, from the Florida Keys whom we hadn’t seen in years!   We clung to each other, and there were tears of joy!  Then I noticed our grandson Matthew from Homestead Florida!  We hadn’t seen him either in a few years, and we hugged and hugged!  Amazingly I saw our grandson, Jerry, all the way from near Seattle, Washington!  Again, it had been so long since we had seen him!  More hugs and tears!  Even our daughter Joan from Ohio, and Richard, Jake, & Hope, our grandchildren also from Ohio were there.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing!  When I recovered, I saw so many of our friends and relatives from the Holland area!  I saw both of my sisters, Julie & Elaine, and my sister-in-law, Mary, with their husbands!  I saw even their children, my nephews & nieces from Howard City, Pierson and Holland!  What a reunion!

We later found out that our daughter Joan had been organizing this for our 50th wedding anniversary for a year already.  She got the help of Bruce, my sisters, sister-in-law, and nieces.  Even the Gidneys, from England, were able to arrange a trip to Holland at this particular time!   All this conspiracy unbeknownst to us!  What a shock!  What a surprise!

This morning as we said goodbye to our daughter, grandson, & granddaughter as they had to leave for flights back to Florida & Washington, my mind recaptured the fantastic scene in the Village House which was crowded with so many loved family members, relatives, & friends.  I thought how like getting to heaven that might be.  First of all, it will be quite a surprise, for I kinda’ think it will be unexpected when the exact time of our arriving in heaven will be.  Then what a grand reunion!  It will be far greater than we can even begin to imagine, because first of all I’m sure we will see Jesus!  Then bit by bit we will renew our love with all our family, relatives, and friends who have gone on before!  We will have all eternity to enjoy their presence.  We won’t have to experience tearful good-byes any longer!  There will be no more tears, pain, or suffering!  What a time that will be!  WHAT A GRAND REUNON!  In the words of Charles Gabriel,

"Friends will be there I have loved long ago,
Joy like a river around me will flow.
Yet, just a smile from of my Savior I know
Will through the ages be glory for me!"
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #44
06/05/05

"Best Laid Plans"

Our dear friends, Norman and Carol Gidney were to arrive last night for a visit.  We were to pick them up from the Grand Rapids airport at 7:30 PM.  My husband arranged for him to speak in Coopersville Bible Church tomorrow morning for their anniversary service.  Then tomorrow night he will be speaking at Parkside Bible Church (formerly Berean Bible Church).
We were so excited to see them again, because we hadn’t seen them for a year!  The men were to play golf today, and Carol and I were going shopping (really browsing) in the quaint shops in Holland and Saugatuck.  As we were just about ready to leave, Norman called and said that the plane hadn’t left yet, it didn’t have a pilot!  Harry said, “Why don’t you fly that plane!”  Norman can do about anything, so why not fly the plane?!
Well, then we did a few more things around the house, and as we were about to leave again, Norman called.  “They still hadn’t left, they were waiting for another pilot!”   Evidently they had found one who was supposed to have the day off.  He was willing to come.  When he got there, the people cheered!  They had been sitting on the plane waiting for a pilot for two hours!  Then there were other very unusual things that happened, but I don’t think I should put them into print!
When they did arrive, it was so good to see them, and I’m sure they were pretty happy to have arrived.  We went to pick up their baggage.  Carol said she would be surprised if it was all there, because bags were going off and on the plane as they sat there waiting!  But it was going just fine, part of their luggage came off the belt.  Suddenly, the belt stopped!  So it was more waiting!  Some of the people were standing around, some went to arrange to have it left so they could pick it up the next day.  But finally, they got that fixed too, and their luggage did arrive.  We were so glad to be on our way.  We arrived home near midnight!   We had a good night’s sleep, and 7:30 this morning, the guys left to play golf.  I’ll pick Carol up a little later!

As I was waking this morning, I started thinking about the Scripture passage in James that talks about just that very thing!  We say we are going to do this, and we are going to do that, but we need to say, ‘if the Lord wills, we will do thus and so!’  Our ‘best laid’ plans are subject to change.  The point is that we always need to be prepared and ready for any changes that might occur.

“Look here, you people who say
'Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town
and will  stay there a year….  '
How do you know what will happen tomorrow?
For your life is like the morning fog—
It’s here a little while, then it’s gone.
What you ought to say is,'If the Lord wants us to,
we will live and do this or that.'”
James 4:13-16 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #43
05/29/05

"Meeting People"

We have been with our daughter and grandchildren in Ohio this past week.  Since my husband has had the opportunity to be preaching here, we’ve had the joy of seeing so many of our friends from years ago.  Renewing acquaintances is such a good thing!

Many times the Scriptures repeat the thought that we should reflect back and remember what the Lord has done for us.  All through the Old Testament, the prophets remind the Israelites of God’s marvelous deeds.  In the New Testament there are numerous incidents recorded of what the Lord did for Israel.  The Apostles were eager to recite God’s goodness to them.  Many times Paul also recalled incidents of the Lord’s intervention and protection.   And we, along with many other people, can in a similar way recount the tremendous faithfulness of the Lord all through our lives.

And so it is as we are celebrating our golden wedding anniversary.  We are recalling the years past.  We are remembering so many friends all over the United States, and also in many foreign countries.  What a close bond there is in our “Christian family!”  We also think back to the many times we have known the Lord’s intervention in our lives.  His Hand was obvious time after time, and His provision was unceasing!  We marvel in His goodness.  “The Lord has done great things for us, whereof we are glad.”

But this doesn’t mean that we have had “rose-strewn pathways all our lives through.”  No, there have been hard times, there have been times of testing and trial, but through all that we’ve felt the Lord’s presence.  After those incidents, there comes times of growth and blessing.

Our daughter asked me today, “Mom, if you would have known that Dad would have taken you all over the world and through hard times, would you still have married him?   I told her that it has been difficult sometimes, but I wouldn’t give any of it up.  I love my husband, and always wanted to serve the Lord.  The great thing about our marriage is that together we vowed that very thing.  Fifty years ago we had inscribed in our wedding bands the verse from Psalms 34:3, “O magnify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together.”

Last week when I was reading in Psalms 111, the first verse caught my attention.  It has stayed with me all week.  It seems especially appropriate now after being with so many of our dear friends and family.

"Praise the Lord!
 I will thank the Lord with all my heart
As I meet with His godly people."
Psalm 111:1
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #42
05/22/05

"Many years"

I was reading Psalm 90 this morning when the following verses caught my attention:

“Lord, through all the generations
you have been our home!
Before the mountains were created,
Before you made the earth and the world,
You are God,
Without beginning or end….
For you, a thousand years are as yesterday!
They are like few hours!”
Psalm 90:1-2,4 (NLT)

Since I’m nearly seventy years of age, I was thinking about my life.  I suppose if one were to put it on a timeline, I am nearing the end of the line.  However, when I stop to think about it, it doesn’t seem like such a long time.  In fact, when I think back to any number of events, even in my childhood, they all seem just like yesterday.  So should it be any wonder that God, Himself (who is eternal and has no beginning or end), when revealing Himself in our human terms, should state that a thousand years are as yesterday?
Then how insignificant my seventy years are!  As the Psalmist continues:

“Seventy years are given to us!
Some may even reach eighty
But even the best of these years
Are filled with pain and trouble;
Soon they disappear, and we are gone.”
Psalm 90:10

So I need to pray like the Psalmist, O Lord,

“Teach us to make the most of our time,
so that we may grow in wisdom.”
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
So we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.
Psalm 90:12, 14
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #41
05/15/05

"Addictions"

I think it was the historian, Will Durant, who said, “If I had known I was going to live to be 80 years of age, I would have taken better care of myself.”  We went to Muskegon yesterday to celebrate the 60th wedding anniversary of our friends, Fred & Joyce Hoffman.   They had a beautiful cake made by our friend, Hank Ryke.  Lately I’ve been trying to watch the amount of sweets I eat, but when I saw that cake, I knew I had to try a piece.  And…I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!  It was quite easy to do!

That set me to thinking this morning that increasingly it seems that people are having more drink, drug, and food addictions.  I feel terrible when I hear of people with drink or drug addictions.  But can’t food be an  addiction also?  Yes, I have to eat to live, but do I have to “live to eat?”  Sometimes it seems like it.  But no one made me eat that cake, it was a choice I made.  It was satisfying for the moment, but a short while afterward, I did think to myself, ‘I can’t believe I ate that!’  And this morning, I’m even more sorry.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”    Yes, I could have eaten just half of the cake, or just a taste.  I need to learn to think, ‘I’ve had enough.’
 

Romans 12:1-2 has good motivation for me.

“And so, dear brothers and sisters,
I plead with you to give your bodies to God.
 Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—
the kind he will accept.  When you think of what
He has done for you, is this too much to ask?
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world,
 but let God transform you into a new person
 by changing the way you think.  Then you will know
 what God wants you to do, and you will know
 how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.”
Romans 12:1-2 (NLT)

Lord, may I always do what you want me to do.
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #40
05/08/05

"Flowers"

As I was driving along the streets here in Holland today, I couldn’t help but marvel over the perfection of millions of tulips that are planted on each side of the road.  Miles of tulips!  What a sight to behold!

I thought of ever so many Scriptures that mention flowers.  God is certainly an artist “par excellence!”  Not only the perfection of the shapes, but the various hues and colors of all the flowers make them not only a joy to behold, and but also a challenge to many who try to capture them with paints.

I thought of my reading this morning in Psalm 103:15 (NLT):

“Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone-
As though we had never been here.
But the love of the LORD remains forever
With those who fear Him."

Another passage comes to mind in Isaiah 40:7:

“The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the Word of our God stands forever.”

Finally, Peter picks up on this thought of Isaiah, but contrasts it with the Word of God that lasts forever!

“People are like grass that dies away;
their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of wildflowers.
The grass withers, and the flowers fall away.
But the Word of the Lord will last forever.”
1 Peter 1:24 (NLT)

I need to keep my priorities right remembering life is only fleeting; but what’s done for Christ will last.”
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #39
05/01/05
 

"No Ticket"
 
 

Our grandson has been taking the train back and forth to visit us.  So I suppose that has been on my mind, because a couple days ago I dreamed of a young man standing out on a train platform waiting for the train to arrive.  It must have been late at night.  It was dark out, and the station was all locked up.  He stood there alone.  No one else was in sight.  In the distance he saw the train approaching.  However, it didn’t slow down.  It didn’t stop.  It just went whizzing by.  He hadn’t bought a ticket ahead of time.

At that point I must have wakened.  The dream troubled me.  Then I thought of the verses in the Bible that tell of when Jesus was on earth, speaking to the crowds.  He told the parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25.  Five were foolish because they didn’t take oil for their lamps, and five were wise because they had.   The foolish ones became drowsy and fell asleep.  At midnight the wise ones shouted that the bridegroom was coming.  However, when the five foolish virgins wakened, they didn’t have oil in their lamps, so they had to go out to buy some.  But while they were gone, the bridegroom came.  The five wise virgins trimmed their lamps and went to meet him.  When the five foolish virgins got back, they realized they were too late.

Seeing that train whiz by in my dream made me feel agitated that maybe there might be some of my friends who have never made preparation for the future.   The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment.”  (Hebrews 9:27 NAS).   It also repeatedly tells us that Jesus is coming again, and we need to be prepared.  But how can we be prepared?  The Bible says that Jesus died for our sins, He arose on the third day, and He is the Savior of all who will come to Him.  All who come and believe on Him will be saved.

There is a saying; “The wise man prepares for the inevitable.”
 

"But of that day or hour no one knows,
 not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,
 but the Father alone.
Take heed, keep on the alert;
 for you do not know when the appointed time is.”
Mark 13:32-33 (NAS)

Lord, may I always be “on the alert” for your return.
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #38
04/24/05
 

"Mind Boggling"
 
 

As we were reading Philippians chapter two during our Bible Study yesterday morning, it struck me again how mind boggling it was to think of all that Jesus gave up for us.  We get a little idea of the glories of heaven when John describes the heavenly Jerusalem in the book of the Revelation.  By inspiration of God, he describes it in terms that we can understand.  He writes in chapter 21 of its beauty.  There will be a city of gold with walls adorned with such gemstones as emerald, jasper, sapphire, topaz, and amethyst.  There will be twelve gates, each of a single pearl.  The streets will be paved with gold.  There will be no darkness, suffering, sadness, pain, tears, or anything evil, only everything that is beautiful and good.

But thinking again of all Jesus had in heaven, there’s no way we can understand what it must have been like for Him.  Yet, He left all that was rightfully His, and humbled Himself in order to come to earth.  And why would He do that?  To come to receive thanks, praise or adoration?  No, hardly!  He came to be misunderstood, ridiculed, spit upon, beaten, and finally to die a horrible death -- being crucified on a cross.  And why would He have done that?

Paul Harvey’s illustration I heard many years ago is so vivid.  He told of a man who was an agnostic.  He was sitting in his cozy, warm house on a wintery, blustery, snowy evening on Christmas Eve.  Birds outside kept flying into his picture window.  They must have felt some warmth and light, and naturally they wanted to get to the protection of it.

So the man went out to try to save them by luring them into his barn.  But there was no way he could get them to understand that He was trying to help them get to safety.  He was frustrated and in exasperation thought, “the only way I can get them to understand is to become a bird.  Then I could tell them and lead them into the barn.”  At that point He realized that’s exactly what God did in taking upon Himself the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.  He humbled Himself in order to save us!  Jesus, Himself came to earth to show us the way to eternal life.
 
 

“God has given us eternal life,
And this life is in His Son.
He who has the Son has the life;"
1 John 5:11-12
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #37
04/17/05
 

"Unfailing Love"
 
 

I was sitting outside on the patio with our grandson, Jake.  We were both reading, but before long we both simply leaned back and basked in the sunshine.  I couldn’t keep a smile away from my face, because it was such a warm and wonderful feeling.  It seemed the rays of the sunshine were rays of the Lord’s presence with us, and I thanked Him for His unfailing love.

How many times did the Psalmist write of the unfailing love of the Lord?  I love to meditate on this section in Psalm 36.
 
 
 

“Your unfailing love,O Lord,
is as vast as the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
Your justice like the ocean depths,
You care for people and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
 in the shadow of your wings."
Psalm 36:5-7 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #36
04/10/05
 

"Carrying Us"
 
 

It was interesting to watch the weather on the television each evening on our way home from southern Alabama.  It seemed like storms were arriving in areas where we had been just the day before.  Yet we had perfect weather for the trip each day all the way.  It seemed like the Lord was going head of us.  That’s a pretty nice feeling!

It reminded me of my meditations in Deuteronomy where the Lord was giving instructions to the Israelites before they were to enter their Promised Land.  He said He would go ahead of them ensuring their success if they would obey all His requirements, laws, regulations, and commands.  But if they would turn away from Him, His anger would “burn against them,” and they would suffer the consequences.

That is exactly what happened!  God was very explicit in His instructions to the children of Israel.  They knew what His laws and commands were.  He did go ahead of them, and their enemies were conquered.  Yet as time went by, they often disobeyed Him, and they suffered the consequences.

In the New Testament, James wrote “the one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (4:17).   Sometimes we think, ‘Oh, the Lord is long-suffering!  I can do this,’ or ‘I can get away with that once more.’  God is long-suffering, but there is an end to His patience.  He is our loving Heavenly Father, and He cares for us.  But there comes a time when, as our earthly parents in exasperation would say, “Enough is enough!”  Then we suffer the consequences.  Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Remember that you can’t ignore God and get away with it.  You will always reap what you sow!” (6:7).  How much wiser it is to obey Him and have Him going ahead of us, “carrying us in His arms!”
 
 

“Praise the Lord;
praise God our Savior
For each day He carries us In His arms !"
Psalms 68:1  (NLT)

Thank you, Lord, for going ahead of me, and sometimes, even carrying me!
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #35
04/03/05
 

"Saying Goodbye"
 
 

It’s always difficult to say goodbye to our son and our friends when we leave southern Alabama to head north.  But it’s good knowing that, Lord willing, we will be back again in several months.  Yet, saying goodbye is never easy!

I was meditating on the rejoicing that must have been going on among the followers of Jesus after they realized He was no longer dead!  They were probably sharing the facts of which they personally were aware.  He had been seen many times by His disciples.  He ate with them, and they touched Him.  He was also seen by the women, the two disciples on the Emmaus Raod, and more than 500 of His followers.  They knew He was alive!

But then having to say goodbye again!  Oh dear!  The highs and lows of their emotions!  They were so glad to have Him back!  But now He was leaving them.  They saw Him lifted up and received into a cloud out of their sight.

While they were still looking up into the sky, two angels stood beside them and said, “Why are you looking into the sky?  This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come again in the same way as you’ve watched Him go into heaven!”

So they went back to Jerusalem.  They must have been talking together about everything that had happened.  They were probably remembering all kinds of things that they couldn’t understand before, but now all these things made sense!  One of the most comforting things to remember must have been when Jesus had told them,
 

"Don’t be troubled;
You trust in God, now trust in Me,
There are many rooms in My Father’s home,
And I am going to prepare a place for you,
…when everything is ready, I will come and get you,
so that you will always be with me where I am.”
John 14:1-3 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #34
03/27/05
 

"Fullness of Joy"
 

Our daughter, Joan's homecoming was a joyous occasion!  It was so good to hear her voice!  It was exciting to hear of her experiences during her mission trip to Ecuador.  Just to be able to talk together again gave me a wonderful feeling of warmth and relief.

While I was thinking of these things this morning, I thought what it must have been like for Mary Magdalene.  Jesus had been crucified and placed in a tomb with a large stone rolled in front of it.  Early in the morning she went to his tomb, but what a fright she must have had when she saw the tomb open, the stone rolled away, and empty!  She thought His body had been stolen!   So she ran and came to Peter and John and told them that they had taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and they didn't know where they laid Him.

Peter and John ran and looked for themselves, and saw that it was true.  But since they still didn't understand that He must rise again from the dead, they went to their own homes. However Mary couldn't leave.  She was standing outside the tomb weeping.  Then she stooped down and looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where Jesus had been.  They asked her why she was weeping, and she told them they had taken away her Lord, and she didn't know where they had laid Him.

She turned around and saw someone who she supposed was the gardener.   I feel her hopelessness when she said, Sir, if you know where they have taken Him, please tell me.  Then Jesus said, Mary.  And she fell at his feet!  I can imagine the wonderful feeling of reassurance and pure joy rushing through her whole body!  He was right there with her!

Several years ago I entered the hospital for a catherization.  During the procedure I went into cardiac arrest four times.  They were able to revive me and immediately took me to surgery.  They performed quadruple bypasses.  From Friday morning until Monday afternoon, they couldn’t close me up because of complications.  My family was given little hope.  Prayers all over the world were being offered for me. After a couple more days I did regain consciousness.  However, sometime during that week I am convinced that I saw Jesus!  I felt myself being transported through darkness into the light of His presence!  My heart welled up!  I felt like I would burst from happiness!  When I got up to him, I collapsed at His feet, and He gave me a wonderful reassuring feeling of love, peace, and comfort....There aren't enough adjectives to describe the feeling.   The ecstasy was something I had never experienced before!   So when I think of Mary, I feel like I can enter into what she must have felt when she actually saw that Jesus was alive and right there with her!
 
 

“Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fullness of joy;
InThy right hand there are pleasures forever.”
Psalm 16:11 (NAS)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #33
03/20/05
 

"Forsaken?"
 

Our daughter, Joan, has been in Ecuador this week with her mission team, and we’ve not been able to have any contact with her while she is there.  She will soon be returning and will be sharing her experience.  However, this has made me think of some missionaries, even today, who are totally cut off.  They are serving in out of the way places with no telephones, e-mail, or contact with the outside world readily available.  They are trying to learn the language of a tribe of people so they can share the Gospel with them.  There must be times when they feel utterly forsaken and alone.

In certain Psalms in the Old Testament, David anguishes over his feelings of desolation and of being forsaken.

I’m also thinking about Elijah as recorded in 1 Kings 18.  He thought that he was totally alone, all the sons of Israel had forsaken him.  But God told him that there were 7,000 in Israel who had not turned to idolatry.

Then what about poor Moses?  How he suffered with the burden of leading all the grumbling Israelites out of Egypt and through the wilderness.  How many times did it seem more than he could bear, but God was faithful.  He lovingly and patiently continued to reveal Himself to Moses assuring him of His presence.

There is also the servant of Elisha who felt he was totally alone.  But the Lord opened his eyes so he could see that there were thousands standing with him!

Think of the Apostle Paul who wrote to Timothy, “Everyone has forsaken me.”

But the ultimate in aloneness must be Jesus.  Not only did His followers forsake Him, but God, His own Heavenly Father, had to forsake Him.  On the cross Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?”  God is righteous, not able to look upon sin.  Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.  Because of His great sacrifice, we can now know that we are never really alone or forsaken.  For He has said,
 

“I will never fail you,
I will never forsake you
That is why we can say with confidence,
The Lord is my helper,
So I will not be afraid.”
What can mere mortals do to me?”
Hebrews 13:5-6 (NLT)
 
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #32
03/13/05
 

"God’s Care & Leading"
 

Last week’s soliloquy about birds has been on my mind off and on throughout this past week.  It’s so comforting to be assured that our Heavenly Father loves, comforts, protects, and cares for us.  Another verse in Matthew, chapter 10, verses 29-30 came to my mind,

“Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny,
 can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.
 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
So don’t be afraid;
 you are more valuable than a whole flock of sparrows.”

Talk about  timing.  It’s wonderful to rest in this knowledge that He cares for us and leads us.  I rest on God’s Word.  Not on my feelings.  He said it in His Word.  I believe Him.  So that settles it!  Sometimes my feelings get in the way, but I need to rest on the facts of God’s Word.

 For example, our daughter has been without employment, seeking the Lord’s will for her life’s direction.  There have been several opportunities for work, but she wants to be sure of the Lord’s leading.  She  called yesterday, and told us that she had been asked if she’d like to take a person’s place on a mission trip to Equador with a group from her church.  He couldn’t go, and the trip was all paid for.  She’d just need a hundred dollars to change the ticket to her name, and maybe a couple hundred for incidentals.  Since she’s between jobs, waiting on the Lord to direct her in which direction she should go regarding employment, she said, “YES!”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will direct your path.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

Thank you, Lord, for your loving, tender care for us, and for your leading in our lives!
 
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #31
03/06/05
 

"Birds"
 

My good friend, Joanne Watkins, gave me a CD of Josh Grobin.  My husband and I are thoroughly enjoying listening to his singing.  We’ve been amazed at the purity of his voice.  It seems quite unusual for one so young.  Also, Joanne mentioned that he’d had no formal training.  This also seems to make him more unique.  Added to all this, his Italian pronunciation was excellent and easy to understand.

Interestingly, the beautiful quality of his voice was on my mind this morning when I was awakened to the sound of the birds singing.  Their songs gently broke the quietness of the early morning.  It was so peaceful and filled me with a pleasant, tranquil feeling.

Probably the Lord Jesus Christ, during his ministry here on earth, heard the melodious songs of the birds in the distance, and so He used them to draw attention to His teaching.  For example, in Matthew 8:20, he said that the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.  In the 7th chapter of Matthew, verse 26, when Jesus was sending his disciples out to witness, he reminded them to look at the birds of the air, they don’t sow, or reap, or gather into barns.  Yet their heavenly Father feeds them.  He then said, ‘Are you not worth much more than they?’  That would have been very comforting.

But oh, His heart’s cry as he looked at His own beloved Jerusalem.  The people there were rejecting Him as they had rejected the prophets who had been sent to them.  He exclaimed, ‘How often I wanted to gather you together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.’ (Matthew 23:37).

The idea of a mother hen tucking her chicks under her wings, especially in times of danger, protecting them near her heart is so beautiful!  In Psalms 91:4, the Psalmist was told ‘under His wings you may seek refuge.’

My heart overflows with gratitude and praise to God when I think of Isaiah 40:31.  Isaiah draws the picture of those who wait upon the Lord.  They will gain strength….

“But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings as eagles;
they shall run, and not be weary;
and they shall walk, and not faint.”
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #30
02/27/05
 

"Flowers & Pictures"
 

I was in Fairhope yesterday and saw the beautiful tulips, daffodils, decorative cabbages, and hyacinths on their street corners.  I enjoy going there and seeing such an abundant display of flowers.

I’ve seen and enjoyed pictures of these same flowers many times.  But though they are pretty, they are nothing compared to being there and seeing the actual flowers.

Then I was thinking of all the pictures we have scattered around the house of our children and grandchildren.  I love looking at them.

But they certainly are no comparison with the heartwarming and joyous experience of seeing them in person.  To be able to be with them when they visit is so much more wonderful!

These things were running through my mind this morning while I was waking.  I started thinking about the pictures of Jesus I’ve seen.   My favorites are the painting by Sallman of the Head of Christ, and Jesus and the Little Children.  I love looking at them.  They help me feel His love and compassion.

But even though I really am blessed by them, I just can’t help but think what it will be like to see my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ face to face!  The paintings or images will be nothing compared to what will be the reality of seeing Him and being with Him.  What a tremendous satisfaction, comfort, and joy that will be!

The hymn writer, Carrie E. Breck, penned it so beautifully,
 

“Face to face with Christ my Savior,
Face to face what will it be,
When with rapture I behold Him
Jesus Christ who died for me!”
--Carrie E. Breck
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #29
02/16/05
(In Memory)
 

"A Place is Prepared"
 

I got a call this evening, my dear friend Merilyn Clay died this afternoon.  Merilyn is no longer in Ohio.  She’s with the Lord!

Precious in the sight of the Lord
is the death of His godly ones.”
Psalms 116:15 (NAS)

But I will miss her.  It will seem strange not talking with her on the weekends.  It will seem strange not getting together when we go to Ohio.  I remember once when we went shopping, we each bought boots alike.  Or another time we bought the same kind of sweaters.  I remember when we both took our young granddaughters out to lunch.  It will seem strange not getting together when we are there.  But she’s with the Lord!

Thinking back over the years, she was such a tireless worker in the church.  Her home was always open to missionaries and Christian workers who might be passing through and needed a place to stay.  She was a perfect hostess, and a wonderful friend!  1 Thessalonians 4:13 says that “we sorrow,” yes, she will be missed by so many, not only her family and friends in Ohio, but all over the world her sweet influence has touched others.  Yes, “we sorrow, but not as others who have no hope, because…

Just imagine – she’s with the Lord!  How happy she must be!  How peaceful!  No more tiredness or pain, nor tears or sorrow!  She’s with her Lord whom she loved!  She’s resting, contented in being with Him.  Think how wonderful it must be for her right now….

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined what God has prepared
for those who love Him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #28
02/13/05
 

"Perfect Valentine"
 

The stores here in Mobile, Alabama have been having lots of colorful eye-catching specials for all these seasons of the year!  Halloween!  Thanksgiving!  Christmas!  New Years!  Then immediately after that all kinds of things appeared for Mardi Gras!  Thankfully that has ended.  Now the stores are full of merchandise for Valentine’s Day.  I enjoy the cheeriness of this season with its reds and whites!

We’ll be going to special banquets with many of our friends.  I’ll have my Valentine (my husband) with me!  He’s special to me.  I started listing all the qualities I like in my Valentine.  But suddenly, the thought occurred to me, -- our Heavenly Father has these qualities and many more!  It’s fantastic to think that even those people who don’t have a special earthly person to call their Valentine, can feel really loved by their Heavenly One!
 
 

Someone who loves me!  Psalm 32:10
His unfailing love surrounds me!
Someone who cares for me!  I Peter 5:7
He cares for me!
Someone who is ready to help me!  Hebrews 4:16
He helps me in the time of need!
Someone who will never fail or forsake me!  Hebrews 13:5
He will never fail or forsake me!
Someone who provides for me!  Philippians 4:19
He will supply all my needs!
Someone to sympathize with me!  Romans 8:26
He helps my weakness & intercedes for me!
Someone who gives me gifts!  James 1:17
Every perfect gift is from above!
 

I can’t think of a more perfect Valentine!  Thank you, Lord, for being everything I need!
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #27
02/06/05
 

"Wonderfully Complex"
 

The passage from the Psalms was on my mind when I woke up this morning, “We are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  What a marvel to go to bed very tired and achy, and wake up feeling rested and well!    Oh the blessedness of having a good night’s sleep!

We had gone to Fairhope where I left my husband with his friends, and went on down to Foley and Gulf Shores.  There were errands to do, and I wanted to spend a little time with my friends.  The time went by all too quickly before I had to drive back up to meet Henry.  By the time we returned home, it was quite late!  We were tired, but happy.

So when I got up this morning, I was amazed that in spite of the fact of my total tiredness last night, yet, this morning I felt almost good as new!  What a great God and Creator we serve!   What a wonderful plan to make us so we would be so restored overnight!  I went to my Bible and read again the psalmist’s thoughts:
 

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
And knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
As I was waven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!
They are innumerable!  I can’t even count them;
They outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up in the morning,
You are still with me!
Psalm 139:13-18 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #26
01/30/05
 

"God’s Comfort"
 

If a person doesn’t know by experience the grace and comfort of God, how would it be possible to handle the problems and difficulties of life?

I was talking with a Christian lady who has had a number of unimaginable physical and emotional problems that had arisen over quite a few years.  She is still experiencing emotional turmoil.  I don’t feel free to put any of her problems in print.  But she needed someone to talk with and felt free to share her burdens with me, a complete stranger – but sisters in Christ.  In spite of her problems, we were able to spend the morning going through the Scriptures and talking about God’s goodness.

I’m amazed how the Lord works, because there should have been several other ladies around, but we found ourselves alone.  She said she felt the Lord had arranged this particular meeting like that because He knew she needed to talk to me alone.  If others had been around, she wouldn’t have opened up like she did.  And so I thanked the Lord for the unusual situation where one after another of the ladies cancelled our get-together.  One had the stomach flu!  Another was able to get an appointment with the doctor, another had job scheduling problems, another was unusually busy working with a local exhibit in our area.  It was so strange to get these calls just the day before our meeting, some even called the day of the meeting.  But…He does all things right!  Why was I doubting?  Did I forget Romans 8:28?  “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

I did think about the passage in second Corinthians and shared it with her.  It says,
 
 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
The Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
Who comforts us in all our affliction
So that we may be able
to comfort those who are in any affliction
with the comfort
with which we ourselves are comforted by God"
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NAS)
 
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #25
01/23/05
 

"Not Forsaking"
 

When I was waking this morning, praying for my loved ones and friends I knew, my mind went out to some acquaintances who don’t see the need to go to church.  Their idea is that you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.  My mind immediately flits back to what my husband usually says, “No, you don’t need to go to Church in order to be a Christian.  But does a duck need to be in the water to be a duck?”  What a picture!  That poor duck!  I immediately visualize what that duck would do if there were a pond nearby!  It would make a beeline toward the water!

In a sense, that’s the way it is with Christians.  The advantages of being associated with other Christians in a Bible believing Church are boundless.  There is real happiness and contentment in just knowing there are others of like-mind and who not only love the same Lord I do, but also love me.

For example, I was talking with Arlis (a pastor’s wife) yesterday, and she told me about Ray.  He just had a quadruple bypass yesterday.  Roy and Arlis were with him before the surgery.  They were also there when he regained consciousness.  He never had to feel that he was alone.  I don’t know if he has family or not, but two caring people were with him.  I’m sure also his church was lifting him up before the ‘Great Physician.’

Christian brothers and sisters also are a network available when there is any need.  Sometimes they might have contacts who could provide employment.  When someone is ill, others bring over food and try to determine what other needs they might help supply.  ‘Singles’ get together to help a single mom and her children get an old house ready for occupancy.  They are pounding nails, putting up drywall, painting, papering, etc.  If another is feeling lonely, a call is made, and all those who are available get together and soon those feelings of loneliness disappear.

So, not only do we never have to feel lonely, because ‘we have a friend that sticketh closer than a brother,’ but we also have a network of Christians who are there ready to help.  The Bible says “Do good unto all men, but especially unto those of the household of God.”  It also says,
 

Let us consider
 how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds
not forsaking our own assembling together,…
but encouraging one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NAS)
 
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #24
01/16/05
 

“He Cares for You!”
 

My friend was unburdening her heart and sharing her heartache for her young granddaughter who was going through terrible turmoil because of her parents.  Their infidelities, divorces, tensions and unhappy remarriages haven’t solved any problems for her.  She is living in the midst of emotional frictions.

Then my mind went to other children who suffer silently because they think they have nowhere to turn.  Many feel they are alone and feel their situation is their own fault.

In the newspaper we are reading about the tsunami in Asia, and the mudslides in California.  They are brought visually into our living rooms via news releases on TV.  We can imagine many orphans wandering aimlessly, hopelessly around, not understanding anything that is going on around them.

I thought of the multitudes with “every sort of disease and illness” who followed Jesus around when He was on earth.  They were searching because “their problems were so great and they didn’t know where to go for help.  They were like sheep without a shepherd.”  But Jesus was able to respond to their needs.  He healed them of their diseases and illnesses, cast out demons, and forgave their sins.  In Matthew 9:37-38, He counseled his disciples how they could help by praying.

Even though we are not nearby or able to help in these troublous times of ours, we can do as the Lord told his disciples:  PRAY.

This is what we did last night as a group at our weekly prayer meeting, and we felt His peace surround us.  How wonderful it is, whether during the day or in the middle of the night, to be able to cast our cares on Him because He cares for us.
 
 

Give all your worries and cares to God,
For He cares about what happens to you.”
1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)

It’s also so good to know

“For what we suffer now is nothing
compared to the glory He will give us later.”
Romans 8:18 (NLT)
 
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #23
01/09/05
 

"Morning Fog"
 

I was in Starbuck’s getting a cappuccino the other day, and a young fellow was behind the counter stooping down to get something.  When he got up he clutched the counter, and said, “Whew!  I sure get lightheaded and dizzy!”

I jokingly said, “You’re too young for that!”

Then he came over and started telling me that he had a heart condition, something like a pre-enlargement of the heart, and in fact this week he’s scheduled to have surgery where they have to stop the heart to fix it.  We talked for a while after that.

Later, when I was thinking about our conversation, the uncertainty of life struck me again.  This young man couldn’t be much more than twenty, he probably was thinking he had his whole life ahead of him, and then ‘Boom,’ news like that comes.

The passage in James 4:13-14 comes to my mind often, especially living down here on the Gulf, but how true it is in this instance!  James records that we say we are going to do this or that, but our life is just like a ‘morning fog,’ here one minute and gone the next!  This is particularly a reality for those of us who are older, but even if we are young, it doesn’t mean we can be sure that we will live to reach old age.
 

“Look here, you people who say,
‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town
and will stay there a year.
We will do business there and make a profit.’
How do you know what will happen tomorrow?
For your life is like the morning fog –
It’s here a little while,
Then it’s gone.
James 4:13-14 (NLT)
 

Shirley’s Soliloquy #22
01/02/05
 

"A Tale that is Told"
 

Another year has ended, we are on the threshold of a new year.  The Psalmist mused that we spend our days as “a tale that is told.”   He declared that the days of our years are threescore and ten (seventy years)—or even, if “by reason of strength, fourscore years (eighty years).”  (Psalms 90:9-10)

How quickly these last threescore and ten years have flown by.  It’s an interesting concept to think of them as a tale that is told….  Hum, wonder what kind of a book I’ve written this past year?  Wonder how many pages I’d want to delete?    Or how much would I want to change?  Or maybe there’d be things I would want to add.  The apostle Paul said that we must all give an account of ourselves.  It’s a sobering thought.

In the book of the Revelation which I’ve just finished reading in the Amplified Bible, the Apostle John was transported into heaven.  He wrote that he saw the dead, great and small standing before the great white throne and “books were opened, then another book was opened which is (the Book) of Life.  And the dead were judged (sentenced) by what they had done (their whole way of feeling and acting, their aims and endeavors) in accordance with what was recorded in the books.” (20:ll-12).  Not only the doing or not doing, but the feeling and acting, even the aims and endeavors?  There’s absolutely no room for hiding anything!
 

“Behold, I am coming soon,
and I shall bring My wages and rewards with Me,
to repay and render to each one
just what his own actions and his own work merit.
I am the Alpha and the Omega,
the First and the Last
(the Before all and the End of all).
Revelation 22:12-13

My prayer:   Lord, help me to live the tale my life is telling in such a way that I might not be ashamed, but rather to bring glory to Your name.
 
 
 


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