Shirley's Soliloquies #439

12/30/2012

Through It All

Oh my! How is it possible that it is almost a new year once again? It seems like yesterday that
there was anxiety with the thought of turning the calendar from 1999 to 2000. Yet now, here it is
so many years later, and we are ready to begin another new calendar year.

Looking back over this past year, I thought of the various changes, such as how the shorelines
seemed to have changed due to the magnitude of hurricanes. Tornadoes also wrecked havoc,
leaving people homeless, trying to salvage and rebuild. Some very dear friends left this life to
realize the blessedness of being with the Lord. I find comfort in the knowledge that though they
are absent from the body, they are present with the Lord, and I will be seeing them again one
day (1 Cor. 5:8; 1 Thess. 4:13-18)! Also there are many loved ones who are suffering pain and
afflictions. Yes, while on this earth, there is suffering. Jesus said,


“…In the world you have tribulation,
But take courage,
I have overcome the world.”
John 15:33

Years ago, my husband and I heard Dallas Holmes singing. This past week, one of the songs he
sang has been running through my mind as I have been contemplating this past year,


“I’ve been to lots of places, and I’ve seen a lot of faces.
There’ve been times I felt so all alone.
But in my lonely hours, yes, those precious lonely hours,
Jesus let me know that I was His own.
I thank God for the mountains, and I thank Him for the valleys.
I thank Him for the storms He brought me through,
For if I’d never had a problem I wouldn’t know that He could solve them,
I’d never know what faith in God could do.
Through it all, through it all,
I’ve learned to trust in Jesus, I’ve learned to trust in God.
Through it all, through it all, I’ve learned to depend upon His Word.”

How I thank the Lord for His continued presence and encouragement through all circumstances
all throughout the past year!


Shirley's Soliloquies #438

12/23/2012

Little Baby No Longer!

What a darling little baby boy I saw recently! He was wrapped in a soft blue lightweight blanket and must have been no more than a few weeks old. My heart had a strong yearning to hold him. I thought of how long ago it has been since I held my own children. I also remembered how much I enjoyed holding my grandchildren and watching them grow! Now I have great-grandchildren, however the time I get to spend with them seems to be so much less.

Then probably because it is the Christmas season, my thoughts drifted to Mary, the mother of Jesus. I pondered, ‘How could her mind have comprehended the magnitude of the fact that she was holding in her arms God manifested in the flesh?’ As I lingered on these thoughts, I realized the impossibility of leaving that little baby in a manger. Yes, the angels announced his arrival to the shepherds. It was definitely an amazing event, but the Bible continues (Luke 2:52),


And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,

And in favour with God and man.”


He grew and continued to be a perfect example for mankind. Even in adulthood He did not stray from the purpose for which He was sent by God into the world (John 3:16). He had primarily one goal, and that was to do the
will of the One Who had sent Him. He said in John 4:34,


My meat is to do the will of him that sent me,

And to finish his work.”


What was that “work?” It was as 2 Corinthians 5:21 states,


For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin;

That we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”


                                       Just as He must not be left in the cradle, neither should He be left on the cross.

                                      For the Bible continues to point to the glorious climax found in Revelation 11:15,


For the kingdoms of this world are become

the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ;

And he shall reign forever and ever.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #437

12/16/2012

"If That Isn’t Love"

Love! What is love anyway?

It’s nice having my husband home again. Whenever he asks me to get his shoes, or get some ice for his knee, I am so used to doing what he asks, that I do it. Besides, I feel sorry for him because of the pain he is still having. I don’t like to see him suffer.

But the other day when my daughter was here, she immediately said, “Mom! If you loved him,
you’d let him get it himself! He needs to walk and get exercise! ”

As I was thinking of her words this morning, I mused, ‘What is Love?’ Probably a large part of it would be to desire and do what is best for the recipient of my love. But how can I do that when it causes him pain?

But I suppose that is what God did when He sent His only begotten Son into the world so that those who believe in Him could have everlasting life (John 3:16). That had to be really hard! And then to see Him suffer some 30 years later, and to even forsake Him because of the sin of the world that He took on Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The haunting song comes to my mind, I believe it was written by Dottie Rambo,


He left the splendor of heaven

Knowing His destiny was the lonely hill of Golgotha

There to lay down His life for me


And if that isn’t love

Then the ocean is dry, there’s no stars in the sky

And the sparrows can’t fly

Yeah if that isn’t love then heaven’s a myth

There’s no feeling like this if that isn’t love.”


                                Yes, that is Amazing Love, such love that it is difficult to comprehend (2 Corinthians 9:15)!


Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.”


So I need to remember God’s amazing gift, and let that be an example of true love for me!

 


Shirley's Soliloquies #436
12/9/2012

Am I Ready?

I can’t believe that it has been nearly three weeks since my husband had his total knee replacement surgery. That’s probably because he has been staying at the Health Care facility for physical therapy and rehabilitation after his initial stay in the hospital. So every day I’ve visited him during the days, and then returned home to my duties afterwards.

But yesterday, he started talking about coming home on Saturday! And I realized that there are some things that need to be changed before he is able to do so. A handicapped bar needs to be installed in the bathroom, and a ramp up the five steps to the porch would be helpful. He will be able to go up the final step into our home if
 another handicapped bar is installed outside the door.

It occurred to me that I had been drifting along during these days. I knew that he would be coming home someday, but when he actually said that he wanted to come home this week-end, I realized that some changes needed to be made. I was not ready!

So this morning as I was listing the things in my mind that needed to be done before his return, the chorus written
 by Fanny Crosby came to me and I started to sing,


O can we say we are ready, brother?

Ready for the soul’s bright home?

Say, will He find you and me still watching,

Waiting, waiting when the Lord shall come?”

I need to ask myself, am I ready for His return or are there changes to be made? The Bible says,


Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you

a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear….

Feed the flock of God which is among you,…

Willingly,…of a ready mind,….being ensamples to the flock.

And when the chief Shepherd shall appear,

Ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.”

1 Peter 5:2-4


Yes, I must have a ready mind, and I must be an example to others. The apostle Paul said that he was
 
“ready to preach the gospel” and “to be ready to every good work.” (Rom. 1:15; Titus 3:1).



Shirley's Soliloquies #435


12/2/2012

What Terrible Timing!

Some events of this past week and a half were hard for me to understand,
And I thought, ‘What terrible timing!’

My husband had a Total Knee Replacement. His blood pressure dropped dangerously low
following the surgery, so the doctors discontinued some of his heart and blood pressure
medications. In addition to that, his diabetes acted up to the extent that his blood sugar soared.
As a result, he now is being given insulin shots. I understand that after surgery, this sometimes
happens. Possibly it could be discontinued when the intensity of his pain lowers.

During the afternoon, I realized that the battery of my cell phone was not holding a charge. But
my charger wasn’t where it should have been in my purse. I was staying at a dear friend’s home
so I could be closer to the hospital. When I got there, I looked in my overnight bag and my
computer bag, but it was nowhere to be found! I awoke at 3:15 the next morning and decided to
slip out quietly so I could drive back to our home to look for it there.

At the same time, the cord to my computer failed to plug in all the way, so I wasn’t able to keep
in contact with anyone through it either. I did feel cut off from everyone! I thought, ‘What
terrible timing! How unusual it is for my phone battery to be lost, and also at the same time for
my computer to be out of use!’

But then almost as soon as those thoughts entered my mind, I thought, ‘No, the Lord’s timing is
always perfect! There must be a reason for all of this!’ I felt comforted, sensing His presence.

Now, about a week later, I’m deeply grateful to a computer guy who came and fixed my
computer. Of course, I found my phone plug also. (I had put it in the side pocket of the car!)

After six days in the hospital, my husband was transferred to a Rehabilitation Center where he is
now receiving intense physical therapy. It is very painful for him. But there are many friends of
ours who have had knee surgery. They agree that it is not easy, but it is certainly worth it!

So what helped me through those days when I wondered about the ‘terrible timing’?

“We know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28


Shirley's Soliloquies #434

11/18/2012

The Family of God

My Family!
 
What wonderful, warm feelings come with those two words! 
They bring a smile to my face and a sense of comfort to my inner being.
I feel fortunate to have belonged to a loving family who sought to please the Lord.

Now that warm, wonderful feeling exists for my own family:  
My husband of 57 years
And my three grown children
Who have given me wonderful grandchildren
And even many very darling great-grandchildren.

Ah, yes, The Family!
Truly warm wonderful feelings
Come to my mind with every thought of each one of them.

The sense of belonging is very important to everyone.   However, there are some people who don’t have a close-knit family to which they feel they can belong.  As a result, they feel the need to look elsewhere.  They crave it!  Unfortunately,
some of the places where they look for it, they often find it being quite the opposite.

But there is good news for everyone.  And that good news is found in the Bible.  When Jesus was on earth,
 he was told that his family desired to speak with him. He said,

“Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?
And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said,
‘Behold my mother and my brethren!
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven,
The same is my brother, and sister, and mother.’”
John 12:48-50

How wonderful it is to know that even  those who do not belong to an actual family here on earth can still belong to the ‘Family of God!’

I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God!  (Ephesians 3:14-15)



Shirley's Soliloquies #433

11/11/2012

He is Still on the Throne!
Ten weeks ago the soliloquy on my heart was beating with a song that we sang years ago with great gusto.
 Now today, perhaps more timidly, once again I find it remaining in my mind,

“God is still on the throne
And He will remember His own;
Though trials may press us
And burdens distress us,
He never will leave us alone;

God is still on the throne
And He will remember His own;
His promise is true,
He will not forsake you,
Yes, God is still on the throne.”

Regardless of how I feel about the presidential election held this past week, there are some Biblical principles that I must keep in mind.

Remember that I must be subject to the governing authorities, (Romans 13:1)
Remember that I am to obey God rather than man, (Acts 5:29)
Remember that I must pray for those in authority, (1 Tim. 2:1-2)
Remember that I am to live peaceably with all, (Rom. 12:8).
Remember that my love should abound more and more, (Phil. 1:9)
Remember that “all things work together for good for those who love God,”  (Rom. 8:29)
Remember that “God is still on the throne, (Psa. 45:6; 93:2)
Remember that God’s word does not return unto Him void, (Isa. 55:11)

Yes, God IS definitely still on the throne, regardless of what some might think or even say. 
So now, I am once again finding great comfort in remembering what God has promised,

“…For He hath said,
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper,
 and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”
Hebrews 13:5-6



Shirley's Soliloquies #432

11/4/2012

Watch & Be Ready

My eyes can hardly believe the images
 that have been on the television throughout this week.

Hurricane Sandy cast its destructive tentacles over the Northern and Mid-Atlantic states, reaching even inland with its wind and rain.  The storm surge ravished the land; the strong winds and rain combined to take boats and ships and cast them miles away from where they were moored; multiple gas lines were broken, spewing gas which erupted into fires raging through neighborhoods.  As a result of these things, almost everything in its path has been destroyed.  With good reason, it has been called a “Monster Storm.”

As my brain took in all those images, I got a sick feeling in my stomach.  For even though many people heeded the warnings to evacuate because of the size and strength of the coming storm, many stayed.  They probably thought, “Peace and safety.”  Something like this had never happened to them before, so the warnings went unheeded.  However, now they are left without power, and darkness and destruction surround them. Many have even been lost. 

The images portrayed in the Bible about the coming Day of the Lord then flooded my mind,

“When people are saying,
‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’
Then disaster will fall on them
as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin.
And there will be no escape.”
1 Thessalonians 5:3 (NLT)

The Bible warns of the aftermath of the coming disaster.  The important thing is to be ready.

“As it is appointed unto men once to die,
But after this the judgment;
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many;
And unto them that look for him
shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”
Hebrews 9:27-28 (KJV)



Shirley's Soliloquies #431

10/28/2012

Praises to the Most High

My heart was full of joy and praise as I saw the dawn breaking this morning!  The birds outside seemed to be whistling their praises to God.  The sun was shining brightly, overtaking the mists and dusky dawn.  Soon everything was in radiant splendor.  Even though I already had my devotions, I felt compelled to return to the Psalms as I continued to bask in what I was seeing. 

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
To sing praises to the Most High.
It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning,
Your faithfulness in the evening…..
You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me.
I sing for joy because of what you have done.

”O LORD, what great works you do!
And how deep are your thoughts.
Only a simpleton would not know,
And only a fool would not understand this:
Though the wicked sprout like weeds
And evildoers flourish, they will be destroyed forever.
But you, O LORD, will be exalted forever.
Your enemies, LORD, will surely perish;
All evildoers will be scattered….

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees
 and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon.
For they are transplanted to the LORD’s own house.
They flourish in the courts of our God.
Even in old age they will still produce fruit;
They will remain vital and green.
They will declare, ‘The LORD is just!
He is my rock!  There is no evil in him!’”
Psalm 92:1-2, 4-9, 12-15 (NLT)


Shirley's Soliloquies #430

10/21/2012

Walking in the Light

“Walking”

It’s just one word, but the images that it brings to my mind are surprising!
I think of a little baby taking its first uncertain steps.  Then shortly afterwards, my mind switches to the thought of him with his little hands in the air, waddling.  He is still uncertain, but he is gaining confidence.  Not long after that,
the image of a child running with his friends replaces those previous pictures.

Soon more images appear:  a person speed walking along the side of the road; then an athlete, striving to win a race.  But suddenly, the image of my poor husband who is bent over because of the pain in his knee, quickly replaces those previous images.  He is also striving…, walking…, but he has to use the cane to steady himself.  Yes, walking conjures up many images. 

God instructed Moses as he was leading the Israelites through the wilderness: “Ye shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days
 in the land which you shall possess.” Deuteronomy 5:33.

But it is not only in the Old Testament that there are these images of walking.  The apostle Paul also used the idea of walking when he said in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”  To make it even more clear, he told the Galatians: “this I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” Galatians 5:16.

I remember attending the Lighthouse Fellowship Club during my teen years.  It was a group of Christian young people from different churches in our area.  We met once a week and had as our key verse 1 John 1:7.  It formed an indelible impression upon my mind which has not left me.  For at the beginning of each meeting we recited it all together, 

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light,
We have fellowship one with another,
And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

How many problems would be solved if Christians could always walk with Jesus in His Light!



Shirley's Soliloquies #429

10/14/2012

Every Knee Shall Bow


During the night, the words from the Bible, “Hallowed be thy name” came into my mind and they wouldn’t leave. I started thinking, ‘Yes, God’s name should be honored, for it is a name
“above all names.” He is King of kings and Lord of lords. At His feet all nations will bow and confess that He is Lord.’ The words of Isaiah soon came into my mind,


For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens;

God Himself that formed the earth and made it;

He hath established it, he created it not in vain,

He formed it to be inhabited:

I am the LORD, and there is none else….

And there is no God else beside Me;

A just God and a Savior; There is none beside Me.

Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth,

For I am God, and there is none else.

I have sworn by Myself,

The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,

And shall not return,

That unto Me every knee shall bow,

Every tongue will swear.”

Isaiah 45:18, 21b-23 (KJV)


Philippians 2:10-11 repeats the prophecy:


That at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow…

And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,

To the glory of God the Father.”


I get excited when I think of that day when I will be able to fall on my knees before Him and give Him all the praise, glory, and honor that is possible. I will see Him “face to face.” But I wonder about the people who have not bowed down to Him in this life. The Bible says that every tongue will praise God, every knee will swear allegiance that He is indeed God – whether they want to admit it or not,
 they will have to do it. May they look to Him before it is too late.



Shirley's Soliloquies #428

10/7/2012

Travel & Reunions!

We’ve had some busy, but blessed days recently!

They began with our dear English friends who stopped for a few days visit. We were recalling that we have known each other for about sixty years. How interesting is it that our time together, though always enjoyable and refreshing for both my husband and me, seems to have become sweeter as the years pass! We continue to thank the Lord for them and their friendship.

After they left, we began organizing and packing our car, because we had only the next day to get ready for winter in the south.

On the way south, we stopped in Ohio. What a great joy it was for us to be with our granddaughter and daughter! We were able to reunite with most of our extended family during the next week.

The day after we arrived in Ohio was another blessing, because we were able to renew fellowship with our family of saints at Calvary Chapel. Oh, the memories! We recalled the home Bible studies nearly fifty years ago. Many of those same people had first come to know and love God's holy Word, and as a result they came to know Him personally. We recalled how they felt the burden for their children. They wanted them to be able to hear the Word of God as they were doing. After many prayers went up unto God's throne of grace, the Lord led in astounding ways for the founding of Calvary Chapel.

Now after all these years, it is really wonderful to renew our fellowship with those dear saints. Many of them were the original families that we had known 50 years ago. What memories we have!

This past Sunday, my husband spoke in Akron at a church founded by one of our own young people from Calvary Chapel. He began Bible Studies at a local golf course, and those studies grew until they felt led to begin a church. They were able to obtain beautiful facilities, complete with a small lake and a building where they are now meeting. It is always a joy to fellowship with them also.

Then immediately after the church service, our daughter drove us south to Alabama where we reside during the cold northern winters. She has taken a week off work in order to, as she says, “renew her tan.” We appreciated her doing most of the driving.
We always enjoy spending uninterrupted time with her.

On arriving to our mobile home, tears were shed as we were joyfully reunited with our youngest daughter who lives next door to us.

Now we look forward to a time of renewal with our dear friends in the southern Alabama churches.
 May the Lord continue to use us for His glory!


This is what the LORD says:

Stop at the crossroads and look around

Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it.”

Jeremiah 6:16 (NLT)


Shirley's Soliloquies #427

09/30/2012

Filled With…What?

My computer is filled with something, but it isn’t what I put there! Instead it has been completely wiped out: my address book, all the emails I’ve sent, and all those that had been sent to me. Now, I cannot even get into it. So my daughter is letting me use her computer.

Someone has hacked into my account and sent out a distress call, as though it were from me. But it is one big lie. I’m told it said something to the effect that my family and I were in the United Kingdom and had been mugged and robbed.
 They claimed that we needed money.

Since all my addresses had been erased, I went to an old Juno account I’d had many years ago in order to let people know it was a scam. I was feeling heartsick over the possibility that it might have caused anxiety among many of my friends, and worse yet, that some might have fallen for the scam and sent money.

However, in response to that email, many called or wrote back to the Juno address. Some caused many a chuckle and even a good laugh which helped to break the tension I was feeling. One person wrote: “I cannot imagine you ‘freaking out’” (as I had supposedly written, adding) “…everyone who knows you will recognize this immediately as a fraud!” Another person wrote: “Shirley, I could tell by the grammar and non-reference to God that it wasn’t you! I continue to enjoy your writings, please keep me on your list!” Another wrote, “I knew it couldn’t be you, because you’d be asking for prayer, not for money!”

While my mind was in a state of agitation over this problem, I thought of references in the Bible warning about being filled with the wrong things. For example, I thought of Ephesians 5:18: “Be not drunk with wine wherein is excess.” Alcoholic beverage can take control, causing much anguish to others. Then that same verse continues: “but (keep being) filled with the Holy Spirit.”

I realize that whatever goes into my mind will come back to me, even sometimes waking me from sleep. It brought back the verse I had quoted many times in Philippians 4:8. So the question: “Filled with…What?” It would be as the verse suggests:


“…Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right,

whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute,

if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,

let your mind dwell on these things.” (NAS)




Shirley's Soliloquies #426

09/23/2012

Standing in the
 Need of Prayer

Not my brother, not my sister, but it's me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

Not my father, not my mother, but it's me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.

It's me, it's me, it's me O Lord; standing in the need of prayer.”


Yup, it's me who's standing in the need of prayer. Whenever I hear the daily news at home and abroad, I do not like to listen to it. Often lately, I find myself turning the TV off, or if that isn't possible, I go into another room. There's no doubt that these are troubling times.

It won't be long before Americans will be required to vote for a president of our country for the next four years. If I am honest, both of the men who wish to be president appear to be good, yet I feel uneasy about both of them. I Chronicles 12:22-23 asks the question, “Where are the men who understand the times?” Appearing to be good is not enough. Yes, “Man looketh on the outward appearance,
 but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

Micah, one of the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, spoke strongly against the leaders of his country. For it seemed they condoned immorality, social injustices, and the oppression of the poor. Did they really hate good and love evil as it seemed (3:2)? My heart breaks over the way so many people even today seem to be turning away from God. How long can evil go unpunished?
 There comes a time when judgment must fall. The prophet wrote,


Then they will cry out to the LORD, but He will not answer them.

Instead, He will hide His face from them at that time,

because they have practiced evil deeds.”

Micah 3:4


These are scary words. I thought of the wise man, Solomon, who penned the following proverbs,

My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you,

Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding;

For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding;

If you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures;

Then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God.

For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity,

Guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones.”

Proverbs 2:1-8


May I learn the experiential truths of these words, and may I earnestly seek the Lord to guide me in these difficult days!
 Oh yes, it's me, it's me, it's me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.




Shirley's Soliloquies #425
09/16/2012

Learning from the Prophets

There are certain times when I think of something I should have said to a particular person, but the opportunity passes without me saying a thing. There are other times when my heart pounds making me conscious of something I should say,
but the time isn't right, or something seems to hold me back.

In recent days, I have been reading the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. I marvel over the way the Lord seemed to put meaningful words into their mouths. They were “God's mouthpiece.”

For example, Amos was a shepherd (vs. 1). Most likely he had no formal training at all. Yet the LORD called him to be a prophet to his people. The people were enjoying prosperity at the time. Often this caused people to forget God.
Amos reminded them of the greatness of their God:


For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind

and declares to man what are His thoughts,

He who makes dawn into darkness

And treads on the high places of the earth,

The LORD God of hosts is His name.”

Amos 4:13


He who made the Pleiades and Orion

And changes deep darkness into morning,

Who also darkens day into night,

Who calls for the waters of the sea

And pours them out on the surface of the earth,

The LORD is His name.”

Amos 5:8 (NAS)


Yes, God is all-powerful! However, there were other prophets who hesitated to do God's bidding. Jonah was such an example. He went in the opposite direction to where God sent him. The result? He was caught in a mighty storm. He realized it was God intervening, so he told the sailors to throw him overboard. They did, but God prepared a great fish to swallow him. Finally he realized the error of his ways and turned back to God, willing to obey His command. Then the LORD ordered the fish to vomit him out on the dry land.
When God spoke again to Jonah, he obeyed and gave God's message.

May I learn from the prophets and obey the Lord's promptings. I will pray with the Psalmist,


Let the words of my mouth

and the meditations of my heart

be acceptable in Thy sight,

Oh Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”

Psalm 19:14




Shirley's Soliloquies #424

09/09/2012

God is Still on the Throne

My husband wrote: “First the Republican, and now the Democratic convention. In the past, there have been many political conventions, but I can't ever remember people being as nervous and concerned as they seem to be about the consequences
 of the next presidential election.”

And so they should be. At least this is how I personally feel about conditions in the USA today. I think the words of Jesus in His Olivet Discourse (Luke 21:26) summarize how many people are disturbed: “Men's hearts failing them for fear,
 and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.”

But God is still on the throne. I remember the words of Daniel concerning Nebuchadnessar (5:20): “...when his heart was lifted up and his spirit became so proud that he behaved arrogantly, he was deposed from his royal throne, and his glory was taken away from him.” I remember also the words in Daniel 11:22, “but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.”

A dear friend has reminded me any number of times, “It is more important to know God, than it is to know about God.” There are also the words of Habakkuk 2:4. After exposing his concerns about conditions in Jerusalem and hearing what God was going to do about it, he reminded his readers that “The just shall live by his faith.”

And then he ended his prophecy by saying (Habakkuk 3:17-19): “Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.”

God is still on the throne. My husband reminded me of a chorus we used to sing many years ago. It goes, “God is still on the throne, and He will remember His own, Though trials may press us and burdens distress us He never will leave us alone. God is still on the throne, And he will remember his own. His promise is true, He will not forget you, God is still on the throne.”

Yes, God is still on the throne, but we must vote according to our Christian conscience. I have heard my husband quote the words of Oliver Cromwell many times: “Trust in God, and keep your powder dry;” because all it takes for evil to succeed
is for good men and women to do nothing.

Another passage of Scripture (Jeremiah 18:7-10) contains a warning from God:


At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom

to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it;

If that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil.

I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it.

Or at another moment,

I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom

to build up or to plant it;

If it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice,

then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.”




Shirley's Soliloquies #423

09/02/2012

Under His Wings

Oh! My mind and heart are in jitters today.

Our lovely daughter is on the Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Isaac is nearing landfall.

How I wish I were there with her!


Then I thought of many of our dear friends and neighbors in that area. My heart was very heavy, so I started praying for all of them.
 The God Who made the heavens and earth is still on the Throne!

As I was praying, the touching story of a mother hen invaded my senses. It is told that a raging fire was nearing her, threatening her and her chicks. How could she, a lowly mother hen, protect her little ones? She instinctively gathered her babies under her wings,
protecting them the only way she knew how.

Later, firefighters found her charred body, burned to death. However when they moved her, they found all her little chicks, alive and safe. She had given her life for her chicks. This touching story brought to mind Scriptures that tell about being under God's wings:

Boaz acknowledged to Ruth (2:12) that she had benefited from the LORD, “under whose wings you have come to seek refuge.”

The Psalmist also basked in the protection of the Lord. Psalm 91:1 assures, “He who dwells in the shelter of the
Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

The Psalmist continued in verse 4,under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.”

I seem to feel the heartbreak of Jesus when he saw the rebellion of the people of Jerusalem. Matthew 23:37 recorded His graphic words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.”

The hymn writer, William O. Cushing (1823-1902) wrote of God's protection,


Under His wings I am safely abiding;

Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,

Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep me;

He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, under His wings,

Who from His love can sever?

Under His wings my soul shall abide,

Safely abide forever.”


There can be no safer place. How often through life, in the midst of all kinds of uncertainties and dangers,
I find great comfort in knowing that He is keeping me “under His wings.”



Shirley's Soliloquies #422

08/26/2012

The Heavens Declare the
 Glory of God!

A friend of my daughter took this pictures off the beach at Gulf Shores, AL.



I was speechless....The picture took my breath away!


Psalm 19:1 immediately invaded my thoughts!


How can my heart and mind contain the beauty of God's creation?


How can I help but praise the Lord for His great power and majesty?


Truly, “The heavens declare the Glory of God!”


I thank the LORD! And I praise His Holy Name!!!




Shirley's Soliloquies #421

08/19/2012

Finding Peace & Happiness


Why is it that so many people seem to be discontented so much of the time?

They seem to be constantly searching for something, but they really don't know what.

The question is, 'Where can a person find peace and happiness?'

Whenever I am troubled over this question, I know that the Bible has the answer.

Philippians 4:4-8 in the New American Standard Bible reads:

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!

Let your forbearing spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.


Be anxious for nothing,

but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension,

shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”


Finally, brethren,

whatever is true,

whatever is honorable,

whatever is right,

whatever is pure,

whatever is lovely,

whatever is of good repute,

if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise,

let your mind dwell on these things.”


    C. S. Lewis put it in a nutshell when he said,

    God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there.

    There is no such thing.”


Lewis was a brilliant man who did a lot of searching during his life. He eventually discovered that apart from God, there can be no happiness. Inside that nutshell was the kernel of truth that there must be faith in God's Word. Lewis put it as follows:

There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,”

and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.”

People are generally miserable when left to their own devices, because they are always searching, but never coming to a knowledge of the truth. May I always adhere to the advice in Philippians 4:4-8.



Shirley's Soliloquies #420

08/12/2012

The Foods We Eat

My sister and I went pickin' blueberries this morning.


It was a perfect morning,

not as hot and humid as it had been.

The skies were blue with white clouds overhead,

and the blueberry bushes were still wet from the irrigation.


We were told that it was the last week for pickin'. We noticed that the berries were smaller and it took us longer to get the quantity we had a week ago, but we were satisfied. We had enough for our purposes: my husband and I enjoy eating them with our cereal in the morning; and my sister makes the best pies a person could wish to eat!

Oh, the blessings of being able to live in an area where things like this are possible. In the past we have also picked strawberries and peaches. Fresh cherries were available, and later on we can visit the apple orchard. These wonderful fruits are such delicious treats.

My thoughts went back to my daughter who has been suffering with great pain, especially in her wrists, elbows, and feet; well, just about all over. Often the pain would wake her at night. So she decided to do research on the computer
 to find foods that might help to reduce the pain.

Interestingly, she found that kale and turmeric were foods known for reducing inflammation. So she stopped on the way home from work to get them. She added other good vegetables to her salad, and decided it was really good! Since the article suggested eating less sugar, she has also stopped eating cookies, cakes, and desserts, hoping that something would help to reduce the inflammation.

The next day when she was at work, she realized that her pain had greatly lessened to the extent that she didn't even wear her wrist and elbow braces. She was quite amazed! So throughout the week, she kept eating a salad of those veggies each day and refraining from consuming sugar. Amazingly, she still hasn't been experiencing that unbearable pain. She can hardly believe it! She told me she was going to cancel the appointment that she had with the doctor tomorrow.

I thought how interesting it is that all those natural things that grow in the earth are good for people; and so many of the things that people have made and processed are harmful! Sometimes it seems that my diet has degenerated into consuming many processed foods, and quite often even fast foods. I must remember that God does know best! He has given us the good earth where these many beneficial foods can grow. It is so easy, yet oftentimes it seems so hard.


The Bible says,


For every creature of God is good,

and nothing to be refused,

if it be received with thanksgiving.”

1 Timothy 4:4




Shirley's Soliloquies #419

08/05/2012

In What Do I Delight?

What are the things in which I take great delight?

That question came to me the other day as I read Jeremiah 9:24,


But the one who boasts should boast in this,

that he understands and knows Me –

that I am the LORD showing faithful love,

justice, and righteousness on the earth,

for I delight in these things.”

Jeremiah 9:24 (HCSB)


It was intriguing to me that the LORD takes delight in such things! So I paused to consider the question again,
 'What are the things in which I take great delight?'

Well, the first thing that popped into my mind was the thought of seeing my children and grandchildren when they come to visit. The welling up of warmth and tears of joy as I look at the sparkle in their eyes cannot be compared to much else! Or whenever I hear of something special that they have accomplished, or when things are going well for them, these bring much pleasure to me.

Since the Olympics are presently dominating the news, the faces of the athletes, or the pride evidenced on the faces of their parents and loved ones, indicate that they harbor similar feelings at their great accomplishments.
 But surely there had to have been failures along the way.

So when I read in the Psalms that the LORD takes pleasure or delights in certain ways, I thought of the athletes and their parents. I did this because of another thought that was penned by the Psalmist that even when a person falls,
no feelings of failure need overtake and discourage him, because,


A man's steps are established by the LORD,

and He takes pleasure in his way.

Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed,

because the LORD holds his hand.”

Psalm 37:23-24 (HCSB)


Micah asked the following question of God. Even when there were times of disappointment
 over the behavior of the remnant of His people, he asked:


Who is a God like You,

removing iniquity and passing over rebellion

for the remnant of His inheritance?

He does not hold on to His anger forever,

because He delights in faithful love.”

Micah 7:18 (HCSB)




Shirley's Soliloquies #418
07/29/2012

Hidden from View

How insidious some things can be!

For example: A fairly small spot or irritation on the skin can hold unknown surprises underneath.

After having had a biopsy that revealed basal cell carcinoma on my neck, I was instructed to apply “chemo cream” on the affected area. That was just fine for a while, but that spot appeared to be spreading, and that didn't seem right to me! It wasn't supposed to spread, it was supposed to make it better, not worse! However the dermatologist said that the “Aldara” didn't affect normal skin, but it worked on any cancerous cells that might be around it, and so it was taking care of the rest of them that weren't visible on the surface.

'Interesting,' I thought, 'Kinda' like a good looking apple that appears perfect.
 But one bite into it shows a browning or rotten area inside of it!'

Thankfully some make-up can hide blemishes that would otherwise make the skin look blotchy.

A potter can form a bowl that might be quite useless in everyday cooking even though it might look good on the surface.

Good on the outside, inside rotten? Jesus even called the religious leaders, “Whited sepulchers, full of dead man’s bones.”

The Lord through Isaiah: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”


The Bible does warn that,

The Word of God is quick, and powerful,

and sharper than any two-edged sword,

piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,

and of the joints and marrow,

and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12


It sounds like God's Word is a little bit like the Aldara cream, revealing the disease under the surface, hidden from view.
 So it would be well to prepare for that day when all people's secrets will be revealed.
It would therefore be wise to follow the advice of the Psalmist:


Search me, O God, and know my heart:

try me, and know my thoughts:

and see if there be any wicked way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalm 139:23-24




Shirley's Soliloquies #417

07/22/2012

"Now I Am Old"

Musing about my trip tomorrow to see my older sister and her husband, I began thinking about life in general. It does seem that it sometimes becomes more complicated as a person gets older. Often there is a greater need of more care and even assistance in mundane matters. It might even become necessary to relinquish decisions and leave them to others. It must be difficult for one, who in years past was totally independent, to find that he or she has to depend on others.

In the case of my sister, she has led an active life. She has taught at Christian colleges and has been a guest speaker at various functions. She touched many lives, young as well as old. So, even though she cannot be active any longer,
 her legacy continues on through many lives.

However, even in her present circumstances in which she now finds herself, I know she would say that the Lord does not fail. She would say along with King David (Psalm 37:25),


I have been young, and now am old;

yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken.”


King David lived a full life and knew about the infirmities of the aged. Yet he gave good advice,


Delight thyself also in the Lord,

and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Commit thy way unto the Lord;

trust also in Him;

and He shall bring it to pass.”

Psalm 37:4-5


Many times I have proven these Scriptures to be true! King David's son, King Solomon, said,


Trust in the LORD with all thine heart;

and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him,

and He shall direct thy paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6


What a comfort to know, that even though we might grow old and become infirm, the Lord remains in control and
He continues to direct our paths! The prophet Isaiah wrote about the resulting peace,


Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace,

whose mind is stayed upon Thee:

because he trusteth in Thee.”

Isaiah 26:3




Shirley's Soliloquies #416
07/15/2012

Pride Verses Humility

I wish I could remember more of my dream.... But somehow, when I awoke, all I knew was that it had something to do with pride.
As a result, that subject has been flitting around my mind all week.

I began to think of the number of people who seem to be compelled to tear others down. Is it because they need to build themselves up? Is it because they have insecure feelings themselves and feel that it is necessary to put others down so that they might look better?
 Or could it be because of pride?

What would be the possible consequences of such prideful behavior? It must hurt deeply and leave feelings of inferiority and insecurity. My heart aches, and I cringe when I think about it.

The Bible urges a person to esteem others as being better than one's self. Philippians 2:3 says,


Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory:

but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”


How pleasant it would be to live in a place where people do this. There would be no room for pride or an “haughty spirit.” Though Proverbs 16:18 is oft-quoted, the end of the verse is often neglected.


Pride goeth before destruction,

and an haughty spirit before a fall.”


Many kings in the Old Testament were examples of this: When they were in dire need, they sought the Lord their God; and God won battles for them and blessed them. But after a while, they became proud and started boasting in all their success as if they themselves had produced the things that God had given them. The result? “They fell!” And the fall was often very great and humbling.

The Bible says that all those things were written to be examples. 1 Corinthians 10:11 states that,


Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples:

and they are written for our admonition....” 1 Corinthians 10:11


Even today, there are people who are achieving great things and tend to forget James 1:17,


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,

and cometh down from the Father of lights...”


A word to the wise is sufficient.” May I always remember this fact and also that,


...GOD RESISTETH THE PROUD,

BUT GIVETH GRACE TO THE HUMBLE.”

James 4:6



Shirley's Soliloquies #415

07/08/2012

Warm, Wonderful Feeling


Instead of a dismal 'let-down' feeling, I'm on the mountain top once again.

I'm thanking the Lord for my family and all my friends,

I'm thanking the One Who makes such blessings possible.


It started with my granddaughter and her friend coming from Ohio for a visit. She enjoyed a few days of sharing our area and places where I had taken her when she was younger. Evidently she must still hold fond memories in her mind.
 But it was time for them to leave, so sadly we waved 'good-bye.'

Shortly after they left, my husband received a call from the dear pastor of our former church. He and his family were in our area for a little vacation. During the time they were around here, we were able to go out to dinner a couple times, and also spent wonderful hours of good fellowship with them. However, before they left to go back to Ohio, the special times did not end...

For our daughter, her four year old grandson and his mommy came for a fun-filled visit! They visited the beach, the community pool, a couple of parks, had a picnic with our daughter's aunts and cousins enjoying a pot-luck meal with them. They saw various attractions in the area, including the holiday fireworks! But it seems that all things must come to an end, so sadly, we had to say 'good-bye.'

However, it still didn't end! For shortly after they left for Ohio, our neighborhood had a special celebration for the Fourth of July. They had placed small American flags about 10 feet apart all along the roads. Also many residents had flags flying from their homes. It looked quite patriotic. They had prepared hot dogs, potato salad, pork & beans, cole slaw, and ice cream drumsticks for dessert! It was good to renew acquaintances with our neighbors and meet people who had recently moved here.

All in all, it has been an extremely full, fun-filled, and heart-warming week! So this evening, though being a bit tired, I have warm wonderful feelings in my heart! 'But alas,' I thought to myself, 'How often do such experiences result in a crash,
 a getting back down-to-earth experience!'

And that's exactly what took place, for my dishwasher 'gave up the ghost!' Unfortunately, it happened while the family was still here. Though disappointing, we simply went back to the 'old-fashioned' way of doing the dishes! Yes, it brought back many memories, but yet it also made me realize how very fortunate I am to be living where there was a built-in dishwasher. Probably most people do not have that luxury. I realized how easy it is to take things like that for granted.

So this morning I am grateful: grateful for having many friends and for my loving family; grateful for living in a country where we can celebrate our country's birthday and heritage of freedom; grateful for the modern conveniences that I often take for granted; and especially grateful that I can read my Bible and worship the Lord. So, instead of a 'let-down' feeling, I still have the Lord Who, as the Psalmist says, continues to be my lamp lighting my darkness!


But Thou dost light my lamp;

The Lord my God illumines my darkness.”

Psalm 18:28




Shirley's Soliloquies #414

07/01/2012

No Disappointment in Jesus


There's no disappointment in Jesus

He's more than my tongue can tell,

His love is so sure and so steadfast,

His friendship divine will not fail.


There's no disappointment in Jesus,

Tho' sorrows may press me sore;

He comforts with tender compassion,

His love cheers my heart evermore.


There's no disappointment in Jesus.

He's all that he promised to be;

His love and His care comfort me everywhere,

He is no disappointment to me.”

--John C. Hallett, 1940


This wonderful song came into my mind this afternoon and brought great comfort to me.

I had been proofing my husband's manuscript for days, all day long, every day. I was really pushing myself because I was eager to get it to the publisher. Finally! I had finished the last page! Ah! The tremendous burden lifted
 as I joyously wrote a note to the publisher and sent the MSS.

But alas! When I checked it, none of the corrections were there! It was as if I had done NOTHING!
 All 257 pages of it had no corrections on them! Then the disabling disappointment set in!


I didn't feel like doing a thing! Nothing! I was beat!

I went into the kitchen, and got an orange, after all it was 5:30 already.

But still the disappointment didn't leave me.


My recliner beckoned me, and I stretched out on it with my orange in my hand.

Then the wonderful song by John Hallett entered my mind. It wouldn't leave! I felt all my disabling disappointment leave me as I began to rejoice in the fact that there is NO disappointment in Jesus!

And I sincerely thanked Him!

I decided that I would leave my husband's manuscript until later next week. Then I remembered that my daughter and granddaughter will be arriving from Ohio. So that put the final lid on the disappointment! I will be ready to begin it again after they leave. Meanwhile, I rejoice in the Lord's presence and help in my time of need.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,

and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11:28



Shirley's Soliloquies #413

06/23/2012

Mountains and Valleys

It is exhilarating to go up to the top of a mountain. The view is magnificent! I have to exclaim,
“What a great Creator we have, His artistry is unbelievable!”

But then, there needs to be a descent again into the valley before another mountain can be climbed.

How like life that often seems to be! After some wonderful and inspiring experience either alone or with others, there comes a “let down.”

'Well,' I thought to myself, 'It probably wouldn't be good to stay on top all the time. There needs to be a time in the valley.' As the song writer said, “For the God of the mountain is still God in the valley.”


Then my mind went to some of the leading people in the Bible. For example,

Joseph rose to the highest position possible,

yet he ended up in prison.

Moses was on the mountain top with God,

but when he went down, the people were worshiping an idol.

David had attained the position as the king of Israel,

yet when he was tested, he fell.


From the heights, to some of the lowest depths they fell.


Yes, it seems that being on the physical mountain top can be exhilarating, but I realize that
 it is not possible to stay there. There has to be a descent some time.

Is it not the same in the emotional realm? Most people feel the “highs” and “lows” of experiences. How is it possible
 to deflect the stress of the valley after being on a mountain top experience?

Once again, I sought God's Word for the answer. Could the key be to fix my eyes on Jesus as my example.
He promised to be with me at all times (Hebrews 13:5).


Let us run with patience

the race that is set before us.

Looking unto Jesus

the author and finisher of our faith;

who for the joy that was set before him

endured the cross, despising the shame,

and is set down at the right hand

of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2 (HCSB)




Shirley's Soliloquies #412
06/16/2012

Praising With the Psalmist

The book of Psalms! What blessings I experienced! I couldn't stop reading them this morning! Besides the fact that they are considered spiritual poetry, they seemed to reflect what is in my heart.


It is good to give thanks to the LORD,

And to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High;

To declare Thy lovingkindness in the morning,

And Thy faithfulness by night...

For Thou, O LORD, hast made me glad by what Thou has done,

I will sing for joy at the works of Thy hands.”

Psalm 92:1-2,4


I thought to myself, 'What a perfect time to be reading these heart-touching words!' During this past week, there have been several friends who have been in my prayers. They had surgeries with positive results. How grateful I am for the lovingkindness of the LORD!

My own daughter has been uppermost in my mind, for she had a heart catherization. After changes in medications,
her vital signs have seemed to be stabilized.

Then also, my son, grandson, and granddaughter all were attending training seminars for their own places of employment. They were in three different cities: Houston, Boston, and Cleveland. So they were all in my prayers and placed in the Lord's mighty hands.


The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree,...

like a cedar....

They will still yield fruit in old age;

They shall be full of sap and very green,

To declare that the LORD is upright;

He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him.”

Psalm 92:12, 14-15


Yes, the LORD is not limited to just one occasion, or one person. His mighty hand is evident in many different places,
 even though their needs might be different!

Indeed, from the bottom of my heart, following the Psalmist, I praise the LORD:


How great are Thy works, O LORD!

Thy thoughts are very deep.”

Psalm 92:5


Thank You, O LORD, my God, and my Rock!




Shirley's Soliloquies #411

06/9/2012

High Places

I just received an heart-wrenching email from a friend asking for prayer for her husband. She went into detail about what had been done in the hospital to try to offset the melanoma that was attacking him.

As she told about the doctors taking skin from his back to graft onto the spot, my nerves almost stood on edge. I could feel the pain, and it was definitely not comfortable! This was probably due to the fact that I have been struggling with the effects of “chemo creme” that I'm having to apply to my own skin.

Recently I have been reading a book, Leaders Who Made A Difference by Paul W. Chappell. It has been proving a blessing, but also a challenge. He cites three great leaders in the Bible: Joshua, Nehemiah, and Joseph. About 78% of the way through the book, I read the following quote, and it seemed to really hit home:


“Anyone can be faithful when the sun is shining and life feels grand,

but it is faithfulness through the dark nights

and lonely valleys that proves genuine faith.

“A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted,

so God often tests our faith.

If the test reveals continued faithfulness to God,

our faith brings glory to God

and honors Him in the eyes of all who observe the test.”

How true it is that when the sun is shining and all is going well, it's easy to trust! However, when hard times hit, it would be so easy to quit and fall back on some “crutch” to help endure the hardship. But would that be “passing the test?”
 Or would I be sliding along or even going backward?

I thought of the thought-provoking allegory in the book by Hannah Hurnard, “Hind's Feet on High Places.” Hannah's allegory follows “Much-Afraid” as she goes on her difficult journey with her two companions “Sorrow and Suffering.” She keeps striving toward the “high places,” but her path is often very difficult. Though tempted to find an easier way, she persisted until she reached the “high places.” This little book made an impact in my life and continues to do so even today.

I thought how true it seems to be that the times of sorrow and suffering are so often the means of getting me to higher ground in the knowledge of my wonderful, compassionate, and loving Savior.


The Lord God is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds' feet,

And makes me walk on my high places.”

Habakkuk 3:19


As Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1926) wrote, “I'm pressing on the upward way, New heights I'm gaining every day; Still praying as I onward bound, Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” May my faith bring glory to God, no matter what the test might be.
May He lead me on to higher ground.




Shirley's Soliloquies #410

06/2/2012

The Lord's Lovingkindness

How interesting that during the past week, a number of people have asked me about my husband's knee surgery.
They were wondering how he was recovering.

That brought back to mind the images over the last half a year how he could hardly walk, even with a cane or walker. He was desperate to have surgery, but the doctor in southern Alabama had canceled it due to the condition of his heart. Besides an EKG, Echocardiogram, PET/Ct Stress Test, he now needed a catherization. So we headed north to Michigan to see what could be done there.

However, a few days after arriving home, he awoke on a Saturday morning with discomfort in his chest, so he rested on the sofa. After a while, he got up and was amazed that his knee didn't hurt any longer! All throughout the day, his chest bothered him, but he had relief from the excruciating pain in his knee! Strangely that continued on through Sunday. Late in the evening, we went to the emergency in the hospital, because his chest discomfort was getting worse. He was examined thoroughly by several doctors. The pain disappearing from his knee had them puzzled, so they checked for a possibility of a blood clot going from the knee into the chest, but those tests were negative. His cardiologist did a heart catherization, but it showed no significant change from the one that was done several years before. So after a couple of days and nights in the hospital, he was discharged.

Yes, indeed! How interesting! The medical profession had no answers. But I knew the Lord had been merciful to
 him granting him relief from that pain, and I still keep thanking Him!

'Oh..., but the Lord doesn't work that way anymore today,' I hear some people saying. 'Didn't the apostle Paul have to leave Trophimus sick at Miletus? Didn't he tell Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach's sake and his oft infirmities? Didn't Paul, himself, have a 'thorn in the flesh' that he begged the Lord to take away? But instead the Lord told him that His grace would be sufficient!'

I agree. 'That is all true. But nevertheless, God is still God! And He is still on the Throne. If He desires to put His hand of healing on someone, certainly He is able!' This has proven to be true in my own life.
 How can I help but praise Him for His mercy and His lovingkindness!

Along with the Psalmist, my song is,


But Thou, O LORD,

art a God merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger and abundant in

lovingkindness and truth....

I will sing of the lovingkindness

of the LORD forever,

To all generations I will make known

Thy faithfulness with my mouth.”

Psalm 86:15; 89:1 (HCSB)




Shirley's Soliloquies #409

05/27/2012

A Chariot of Fire

When I heard that our long-time fellow laborer and dear friend, Vernon Anderson, had gone to be with the Lord, the indelible image that came into my mind was of the Lord's comforting arms welcoming him. But then the image expanded and
 I could not shake it from my mind. It kept growing....

It was an image where I felt as if I were with him as he bowed humbly before the Lord in worship and praise. I felt his heart going out to the Lord as he thanked Him for His continual hand upon his life and that of his beloved wife, Darlene and their children; for the way in which He had answered their prayers and kept His hand of protection upon them; for His miraculous intervention in their lives through so many difficult circumstances all over the world. Yes, He had continually provided for their needs,
 many times above what they asked or even thought (Ephesians 3:20).

Then the images from the book of the Revelation came to mind, and I visualized Vernon being privileged to join with the “myriads of myriads, and thousands of throusands” who were worshiping and saying in a mighty chorus:


Worthy is the Lamb that was slain

to receive power and riches and wisdom

and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

Revelation 5:12 (NASB)


After that, I thought of him being reunited with their daughter, Laurel, who had died so long ago at 12 years of age shortly after they had arrived in the Philippine Islands. I thought of their heartache and the criticism of so many because they had taken their young children to a foreign land. Yes, I imagined the two of them standing hand in hand, joining in the worship of their Lord and Savior. But then I saw thousands -- thousands upon thousands -- joining them who had come to know the Savior
 through the influence of their ministry in so many lands.

What a wonderful homecoming that would have been for him! He was truly a pioneer in missions. His unquenched zeal for opening a witness in many countries around the world became a reality. But he realized the need for the training of the nationals so that they could lead their own people. So he got Bible training centers established in many countries. He had a burden for the nations that lay heavy upon his heart from the time when he became a Christian and gave up his business to train and give his life
 to the service of the Lord until his dying day.

Yes, he was one who could have joined with those caught up in Chariots of Fire for he also was one who led in the advancement of the gospel to the nations. (2 Kings 2:11; 6:17; and 13:14)

...there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.” 2 Kgs 2:11; “Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the LORD opened the servant's eyes, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 6:17; When Elisha became sick with the illness of which he was to die, Joash the king of Israel came down to him and wept over him and said,
 “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!”
13:14.

Vern was indeed a chariot of fire!




Shirley's Soliloquies #408
05/20/2012

Where Can It Be?

I have looked high and low all over our little home,

but the canopy cover for our porch swing seems to be missing!


Since the sun is shining brightly and warming everything up, I am eager to be able to sit out there enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning. However since I've had biopsies on some spots on my skin, I should be protected from the bright sun.

But, alas, my husband and I have looked all over our small condo. But it just seems to have disappeared! I think,
'It must be around here somewhere!' But it is not to be found.

There is one good thing that is coming out of our predicament and that is that our little condo is getting a good cleaning. Hopefully we will be donating some of the items that we haven't used for a while to the local Bibles for Mexico thrift store.

Yes, that is all good. Yet, our canopy cover still seems to be lost!

I thought of the parable of Jesus that is recorded in Luke 15:2-10. The Pharisees and the scribes were always grumbling about something or other about Jesus. This time they were saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” So Jesus told them some parables. One of my favorites is the parable of the lost sheep. In fact we have a beautiful picture of “The Lost Sheep” in our Family Room.


What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them,

does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture,

and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it?

And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing,

And when he comes home,

he calls together his friends and his neighbors,

saying to them,

'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.'

I tell you that in the same way,

    there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents,

than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 15:4-7 (HCSB)


How beautiful! How kind and loving! How compassionate! It touches my heart! Jesus said that He came to seek and to save those that were lost (Matthew 18:11). Each person is important in God's sight. He doesn't want even one to be lost!

So getting back to the canopy cover for the porch swing, I guess I'd better start looking again. Oh yes,
 there will certainly be rejoicing when I finally find it!



Shirley's Soliloquies #407
05/13/2012

Drizzle & Stems

Drizzle and Stems! Our four year old great-grandson came from Ohio for a visit to take in the activities of Tulip Time with his Mom and Grandma (our daughter). But the rain and drizzle didn't seem to dampen his vivacious spirit for a minute! Instead each day, he eagerly looked forward to everything he saw around him.

He did seem to look with a very serious expression at the stems that were remaining of many of the tulips, but whenever we did see some tulips in full bloom, he would be visibly impressed! Evidently there had been so much hot weather in the month of March, that many flowers and plants began their growth spurts prematurely. Therefore many of the tulips that would normally be in
 perfect bloom at this time, were well past that stage.

However, there were so many other activities going on everywhere, that none of that bothered our great-grandson! He'd just continue bouncing along holding his mother's or grandmother's hands.

I began thinking about the trusting spirit of young children. How wonderful it is to see! The absolute faith that he had in his Mom and Grandma made it possible for him to be willing to do and see everything that they decided. He even happily went along shopping with them. They figured that since there was so much rain and drizzle, it seemed the best way to get a break from it - besides the merchants had enticing sales advertised!

Somehow it all reminded me of the little children's chorus we used to sing,


The birdies in the treetops sing their song,

The angels chant their chorus all day long,

The flowers in the garden blend their hue,

So why shouldn't I, why shouldn't you,

Praise Him too?


Yes, indeed! “Why shouldn't I, why shouldn't you, praise Him too?”

We should take more notice of these precious little children who are so filled with excitement and awe over all the things they see - even though it might be a festival of stems and drizzle. The Lord Jesus Christ, when He was on earth, certainly took notice of the little children. When His disciples rebuked the people for bringing the children to Him, He was 'indignant' and said to them,


Permit the children to come to Me;

do not hinder them;

for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Truly I say to you,

whoever does not receive the kingdom of God

like a child shall not enter it at all.”

Mark 10:14-15 (HCSB)




Shirley's Soliloquies #406
05/06/2012

Hues, Shades, & Intensity


I was looking outside

at the trees just starting to fill out with leaves.


All of a sudden the differences in the shades of them,

the various hues and intensities,

even the shadows on some of them,

seemed to come alive with greater variegation.


I remembered especially when I was a child, I didn't notice such things. When asked, “What color are the trees?” I would invariably answer, “They are green!” It wasn't until I was older that I began to notice the different hues, shades and intensities of colors. And that opened up a new world to me. I realized that,


the young leaves were slightly different from the ones farther open.

The different types of trees had different shades of green.

They all contrasted with the greens of the nearby bushes.

Even the grass had multiple shades of green.


'Wow,' I thought, 'What a great artist our Creator God is!' I'm so thankful for His excellence in His creation.
 It fills me with a deep appreciation and pleasure.

I thought of the hymnwriter George W. Robinson, 1876, who had marveled over God's creation also. However, when he became Christian and had communion with the Lord, everything seemed to take on more vibrancy. He wrote the beautiful, heart-warming words to the hymn, I Am His and He is Mine.


Heav'n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;

Birds with gladder songs o'erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.”


It is interesting how one's spirit is revived because of having a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It seems that everything can be enjoyed to a greater degree. The Psalmist wrote:


It is good to give thanks to the Lord,

and to sing praises to Thy name, O Most High;

To declare Thy lovingkindess in the morning,

And Thy faithfulness by night,

With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp;

With resounding music upon the lyre.

For Thou, O LORD, has made me glad by what Thou hast done,

I will sing for joy at the works of Thy hands.”

Psalm 92:1-4



Shirley's Soliloquies #405
04/29/2012

Patience Wearing Thin!


My patience is wearing thin, and I don't like the feeling. I feel as though my nerves are stretched tight as a rubber band,
ready to snap! I'm not used to this at all!

It was several days ago that my husband and I were in the Emergency room at the hospital. He had been having chest discomfort for a couple days, so he felt the need to have it checked out as its intensity had been increasing. Since he has had a history of heart problems, the hospital Emergency room takes this quite seriously. After a number of doctors and tests, they admitted him and continued testing into the next day. This culminated in a heart catherization. Naturally I didn't want to leave him in case he needed anything, so I spent Sunday and Monday nights in a chair next to him. At times during the night I had to help him untangle from the IV tubes that were in his arm or get him water or whatever he needed. Most everything in his heart had checked out ok, although a valve was in question. So Tuesday, before he was discharged, the doctor ordered another Echocardiogram to compare with the one that had been done a month before. He wanted to check those results with the previous one. Any significant difference might help diagnose his problems.

Yes, that was a bit tiring and stressful, but the next day, Wednesday, I had an appointment that I had to keep with a dermatologist to check a couple of spots on my hand and neck. They were becoming rough and irritated. The dermatologist thought they looked suspicious and did a biopsy of both of them and sent them away. Now they are even more of a continual irritation to me.

So probably the lack of sleep, the increased irritation of my neck and top of my hand, and also an irritation on my right eyelid are part of the culprits that are causing me extra vexation.

I thought, 'Oh yes! Vexation! King Saul called for David to play on his harp when he was vexed in his spirit!' I haven't been home to be able to play on my little harp. Come to think of it, now my husband is taking a nap, so I can't disturb him at the present time either.

Well, I'm not used to this at all, so I went to the Lord in prayer. Then I felt led to write and search in the Bible about a lack of patience.

2 Corinthians 6:3-6 urges believers to give no cause for offense in anything so that the ministry will not be discredited! Instead we must endure all afflictions. It even mentions sleeplessness! And then in verse 6, the apostle Paul mentions,
 in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness....”

Of course, the familiar passage naming the fruit of the Spirit came back to me, but I felt I needed to check those fruits using my modern English Bible. I found they really hit home in that version. I will need to add them to my bathroom mirror so that they will often be before me. Thank you Lord, for Your Word and Your presence, especially in these days when my patience is wearing thin!


But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 (HCSB)




Shirley's Soliloquies #404

04/22/2012

Right in God's Sight


After the many times that I read...


He did evil in the sight of the LORD....”

He did evil in the sight of the LORD....”

He did evil in the sight of the LORD....”


...it was truly refreshing to read that Hezekiah

did right in the sight of the LORD.”


I almost had to breathe a sigh of relief, for it was depressing to read in the book of Second Kings about all the evil that the kings were doing continually in the sight of the LORD. Then when I came to the 18th chapter and read that Hezekiah, king of Judah, “did right in the sight of the LORD,” it was almost like a breath of fresh air and a ray of sunshine! The record went on to explain that,


..He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel,

so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah,

nor among those who were before him.

For he clung to the LORD,

he did not depart from following Him,

but kept his commandments,

which the LORD had commanded Moses.

And the LORD was with him;

wherever he went he prospered.”

(18:5-7).


How wonderful that he left such an epitaph so that it was recorded for future centuries that he was a king worthy to be remembered!

Even though some of those other kings did some things that were good in their own eyes for Israel and Judah, the LORD their God had commanded them in no uncertain terms through Moses and through other prophets exactly what would happen if they did not obey His commandments. And what was prophecied did eventually happen.

And does not the Lord also want the same from His children today? The Bible tells us that some will say, Lord, have we not done this and done that in your name? But He will say, 'Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity, I never knew you.' Just because something seems good in one's own eyes, that doesn't mean it is right in God's sight! (Matthew 7:21-23).

How wonderful to be able to hear in that last day,

Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”




Shirley's Soliloquies #403

04/15/2012

The Bonds That Bind

The trip north seemed almost endless this year.


As I think about it, it did take us three days because we wanted to stop in Tennessee to visit with my dear 86 year old sister, her husband, and in-laws. It was good seeing her smiling face once again. We appreciated visiting with the family
 and enjoying their kindness and their help.

Perhaps another reason the trip seemed longer was because of my husband's distress with his knee. As long as we were sitting, it didn't seem to bother him as much. But whenever we had to stop and get out of the car, he felt quite handicapped,
 gritting his teeth trying to bear the pain.

As we were driving into our city, I excitedly called my dear younger sister to tell her. She said that she and her husband would be right over! And they did come with bran muffins she had made and also oranges they'd brought back from Florida. They both helped unload the car, as I started putting things away. Then we had a cup of tea together, catching up on news. It was good spending time with them!

Now we await my husband's appointment with the cardiologist this week who needs to give his “ok” for the Orthopedic Surgeon to do the total knee replacement. That cannot come soon enough for him!

Recently, I realized how dependent we all are on others. How awful it would be to feel alone during these times in our lives! I'm grateful beyond words for all our family and our many dear friends who enrich our lives in so many ways. The oneness we all have because of our common love of the Lord Jesus Christ forms a strong bond that cannot be broken, for it is an eternal one. The hymnwriter said it so well, “Blest Be the Tie that Binds our hearts in Christian love.”

I thought of the “bonds” mentioned in the Bible. For example, Hosea 11:3 talks about the Lord leading with “bonds of love.” The apostle Paul talks about the “bond of peace.” He exhorts believers to,


walk in a manner worthy of the calling

with which you have been called,

with all humility and gentleness,

with patience,

showing forbearance to one another in love,

being diligent to preserve

the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.”

Ephesians 4:1-3


Paul considered himself to be a “bond-servant of Christ Jesus” and also “of God” (Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1). Then he willingly considered himself as a bond-servant for Jesus' sake to the believers (2 Corinthians 4:5).

Thank you, Lord, for experiencing these many bonds that bind those who are your children together!




Shirley's Soliloquies #402


04/08/2012

A Thermometer or
 A Thermostat?

Am I like a thermometer or a thermostat? That is quite a question!

My husband and I went to hear the president of a Bible College recently. His message touched my heart in several ways. But when he spoke about the differences between a thermomenter and a thermostat, it grabbed my attention.
 As a result that concept has stayed in my mind.

He spoke about the week between the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and eventually to His crucifixion. At the beginning of that week, the crowd cut branches from trees and spread them on the road Others spread their garments on the road.
 Still others went before Him crying out,


Hosanna to the Son of David;

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;

Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:8-9


What a sight that must have been! It would certainly have excited a crowd so that they would want to see what was going on. It could be that many of them had already seen his miracles, how the blind had received their sight, how the lame had walked again. They had probably heard how He walked on the water, calmed the sea, and even called Lazarus from the dead!
But they were not the only ones who had heard about these things!

The elders and religious leaders were becoming increasingly concerned about this phenomenon. They were not pleased, for had not Jesus criticised them saying they were “whited seplechures, full of dead men's bones?” Jesus had told them that they put on an outward appearance, but their hearts were far from God. Yes, they'd heard plenty about Him. Were they jealous or afraid of their positions? All they knew was that Jesus couldn't be allowed to continue or their positions would be in jeopardy.

So only a few days later, they used Judas to betray Jesus so they could have him arrested and put on trial. At the trial, the Bible states that the chief priests and the elders persuaded the multitudes to ask for Jesus to be put to death (Matthew 27:20-23)! Did they not set the atmosphere – the thermostat - so that the crowd followed? Yes, the crowds were reflecting the temperature that the thermostat had set.

I wondered if perhaps the crowds had not even realized that He was the One to whom they were shouting their praises just a few days earlier? They were swayed by the thermostat that the leaders had set. They felt the temperature and acted accordingly!

So the profound question that struck me is: 'Am I simply going along with the temperature of the crowd?'
Or 'Can I be a thermostat that will make a difference in someone's life today?'


Be thou an example of the believers,

in word, in conversation,in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”

1 Timothy 4:12



Shirley's Soliloquies #401

04/01/2012

Uncertainties of Life


Shirley's Soliloquies #400

03/24/2012

The Desires of My Heart

The importance that the heart has on a person's physical well-being cannot be denied. It is not often that the reality of this fact captures the mind, but it is a very important and vital little organ!

This was brought to my mind in a graphic way yesterday. My husband is scheduled for a total knee replacement on Monday. However, when the Orthopedic Surgeon saw his heart history, he said that he didn't want any surprises during surgery, so he sent him to a cardiologist. He wanted to know if the risk of his surgery would be minimal, moderate, or high before he started.

So dutifully, but thankfully for this surgeon's foresight, he has undergone several tests. However the echocardiogram at the hospital yesterday stood out above the rest. It was fascinating to see that little organ squeezing and pumping, squeezing and pumping involuntarily. I could see the little valves opening and closing and the blood flowing. What an awesome Creator we have in that He established all these functions of the human body to work without any thought on our part.

Does not the Bible record many references about the heart? In the Old Testament, Moses spoke of it when giving the law. And Jesus repeated his words:


Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,

and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”

Mark 12:20


It does seem to place it as the center of our wills and desires, and apparently of all emotions.

The Psalmist also gave good advice many centuries ago. My husband had this advice inscribed in my engagement ring. It is found in Psalm 37:4-5:


Delight thyself also in the Lord;

and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

Psalm 37:4


Even the man who was said to be the wisest of all gave advice that has proven to be true in our lives. And the testimonies of many others have also found it to be the case in their lives:


Trust in the Lord with all thine heart;

and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge Him,

and He shall direct thy paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6


The heart rarely gets recognition or appreciation, but thankfully it keeps pumping away faithfully. May the love and desires of my heart continue to be directed toward the Lord Who gives my heart peace.




Shirley's Soliloquies #399
03/18/2012

Walking in the Light

It's not nice, but sometimes I have to chuckle as I watch my husband when he tries to walk. He's figured out a way that seems to allow him to keep going. He hunches over, sticks his left leg out, and holding tightly to his cane, hobbles as best as he can. A friend has offered her mother's walker for him to use in the house, so that should give him more stability.

Yesterday he did go to the Orthopedic Surgeon that his doctor had recommended who told him that he needs a knee replacement. Naturally, being a man, he wants to try to wait as long as he can before he has it done. So the doctor did give him some pain medications -- hopefully they will help a little.

Meanwhile, many Scriptures came to mind as I thought about the idea of walking. For example,

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.”

Isaiah 40:31


...As Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,

even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

Romans 6:4


Walk in love, as Christ hath also loved us.”

Ephesians 5:2


...Ye are light in the Lord:

walk as children of light.”

Ephesians 5:8


If we walk in the light, as he is in the light,

we have fellowship one with another,

and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7


And joyfully looking forward to the future, we will walk in that eternal city that has,..


... no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it;

for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.

And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it.”

Revelation 21:23


Shirley's Soliloquies #398

03/11/2012

Food for the Soul

'The refrigerator is almost bare, and the pantry is looking practically empty. No fruit. No fruit juices. No veggies. No snacks. No sweets. Oh well, some of those things are not good for us anyway.' Those were my thoughts,
realizing that I had been procrastinating going to the grocery store.

It was getting difficult figuring out what to have for lunch or dinner, so I realized that I had to go this morning. The unfortunate thing about waiting so long to get groceries was that when it came time to stop at the cash register on the way out,
 I was quite shocked!

As I was driving home, I pondered about how strange it was that no soliloquy had come to my mind this week, and I commited my concerns to the Lord. Then after I got home and had put the groceries away, I thought of the many different times that the Bible talked about food. Moses came to mind first of all. What a great man of God he was! He diligently urged the people in all the ways that the Lord his God had taught. He talked about God's word being their bread. Indeed God had sent Manna to feed them in their wilderness wanderings. He had supplied all their needs.

Over a thousand years later, Jesus quoted the book of the law that God had given to Moses for the people. Jesus had been in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. He had not eaten for forty days and forty nights when the tempter came to Him. Jesus answered him, quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3:


It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:4


I also thought of Jeremiah, the prophet, who cried out to the Lord His God at a time when he felt alone and surrounded by his enemies:


Thy words were found, and I did eat them;

and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart:

for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”

Jeremiah 15:16


When the Lord answered him, He said,


I am with thee to save thee and to deliver thee...

and I will deliver thee out of the hand of the wicked,

and I will redeem thee out of the hand of the terrible.”

Jeremiah 15:20-21


I thought, 'Oh what a comfort the word of God has been to all who have had ears to hear down through the ages. May my ears and heart always be open to feed on Thy Word, O Lord, my God.'



Shirley's Soliloquies #397

03/04/2012

"More Love"

Strange how it is possible to read a verse umpteen times, and yet suddenly have something completely new pop out and grab your mind!

This happened the other day. While I was waiting for my husband, I picked up his hand-sized Bible that he keeps in the car. I opened it at random and my eyes fell to John's Gospel, the 21st chapter. That is one of my favorite passages, so I felt good reading it.

The disciples had been fishing all night and yet had caught nothing. Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples didn't know it was Him. He said to them, “You don't have any fish, do you?” When they answered that they didn't, He told them to cast their net on the other side of the boat and they'd find a lot. So they did, and sure enough there were so many that they could hardly haul them in!

However, the thing that struck me was the phrase in verse seven. It states, “That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord.'” I found that to be significant, because none of the others recognized him. I wondered if there was a deeper love relationship between Jesus and John that opened his spirit so that he would realize that it really was Jesus.

If this is so, it seems natural that all of John's other writings would be full of exhortations for God's children to manifest His love,
 both to Him and also to others. For example, First John urged:


Beloved, let us love one another,

for love is from God;

and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

The one who does not love does not know God,

for God is love.

By this the love of God was manifested in us,

that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world

so that we might live through Him;

In this is love, not that we loved God,

but that He loved us

and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Beloved, if God so loved us,

we also ought to love one another.”

1 John 4:7-11 (NASB)


As I was meditating on the special bond that there must have been between Jesus and the apostle John, a warm feeling crept throughout my being. May I always be able to recognize the Lord throughout my daily activities, so that I in turn will have more love for others.
With Elizabeth P. Prentiss (l856), I pray:

This is my earnest plea: More love, O Christ, to Thee;

More love to Thee, more love to Thee!”




Shirley's Soliloquies #396

02/26/2012

No Fear? Know God!

For God has not given us a spirit of fear,

but of power, and love,

and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7


Interestingly, over the period of just a few days, I had heard two different speakers talking about this particular verse.
The first speaker delivered a powerful sermon.

But a few days later, when a second speaker turned to this same verse, again delivering a powerful message, it came as a bit of a surprise. I concluded that God really had a message for me.

So now, about a week later, I realize that I am still thinking about that verse.

Fear is a powerful force! And the Scripture is explicit in stating that it is not of God!

I thought back to the days when I was a child. I would hear about the “boogie man.” I wasn't sure who or what he was. But I knew many children were deathly afraid of him, probably because they were threatened that he would come to get them if they were naughty.

Then seemingly out of nowhere, my little bedroom came to mind. It had a wall-paper border of zoo animals. I recall how I would enjoy them as I was drifting off to sleep. They looked like friendly animals. But one night I had a dream of a lion coming toward me!
I felt the powerful force of fear.

As I got a little older, I heard about the earth opening up and swallowing people! For a while I became afraid of cracks and feared the same thing might happen to me.

But then I remembered that the Lord has promised to be with me always, no matter what happens or where I might be (Hebrews 13:5,6). The knowledge of His constant presence has given me peace in the midst of difficult circumstances.

How interesting it is to note that about every book in the Bible has some mention of fear; like the fear of the enemies of the children of Israel as in the story of the Moabites who had heard of how numerous they were (Numbers 22:3), so they called the prophet to ask God to curse them. I thrill every time I read the story in those chapters. But God had previously told Moses (Numbers 21:33), “Do not fear him, for I have given him into your hand.” God's way of doing things was absolutely amazing!

Yes, sometimes God's people themselves have fear of some perceived enemy. But the number of times that God's people are consoled, being told “Fear not” because God is with them and will never leave them is more numerous than I can recall!

Yes, as I confidently hold God's Word to my heart, I can have No Fear, but instead be assured that because I Know God experiencially; I therefore can have a sound mind which gives me love and power – resulting in perfect Peace!



Shirley's Soliloquies #395

02/19/2012

Whose Responsibility
 Are They?

Well.... I hesitate...because it is not easy

to look in the Scriptures

for something that might be convicting to me!


However, someone asked me a question recently, “Is it totally up to the mother to be the disciplinarian in the family?” Her husband thought so. I wondered if it was a 'cop-out' on his part. 1 Timothy 5:14 was the passage in question.
So I began to search for the answers in the Bible.


I will therefore that the younger women marry,

bear children, guide the house,

give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.”


I'm not sure which version they were using. So I checked four translations that I have here. Presently I have been reading the New American Standard Bible, so I went there first.


Therefore, I want younger widows to get married,

bear children, keep house,

and give the enemy no occasion for reproach.”


The other translations were similar to this. I realized from the broader context that the apostle Paul was talking about a particular problem in that church. It seems as though the women had come under the influence of false teachers and were going around gossiping and causing trouble. So he gave good advice!

But getting back to the question of discipline, I wondered if the husband was simply trying to pass the buck and take the easy road! But I still need to find an answer in the Scriptures. The sixth chapter of Ephesians came to mind.
 There the instructions are for the fathers in the 4th verse:


Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,

but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”


I remembered that I had been the one with our children when they were very young, guiding and showing them what they should be doing. I needed to do that since often my husband was not at home. But when he did get home, it seemed that their father's deep voice had far greater sway than mine did! I agreed with this because that is the teaching of Scripture.


Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

For the husband is the head of the wife,

Ephesians 5:22-23


So it appears to me that according to Scriptures, the husband is the head of his family, and therefore
he is the one who is primarily responsible for the discipline of the children.




Shirley's Soliloquies #394

02/12/2012

That Stuffed Fox!

I can't get the image of that stuffed fox out of my mind! It was really beautiful, standing among some flowers and grass.
 It looked completely natural. It was in the Sunday morning service.


The pastor had it covered up behind the pulpit. He was talking about how many in the church are simply empty: like a car with no gas; a football with no sender behind it; or like half of the 10 virgins that Jesus talked about in His parable.
They went out to meet the bridegroom with empty lamps:


Five of them were wise, and five were foolish.

They that were foolish took their lamps,

and took no oil with them.”

Matthew 25:3-4


Then the pastor went over to the object near the pulpit and removed the covering. There he proudly displayed the stuffed fox! Everyone “oh-ed” and “ah-ed” because it was beautiful. But he said, “It's dead!” He jumped at it, it didn't move.
 He shouted at it, it didn't move. There is nothing to it – it can't do anything! It needed life.

He went on to say that this is like some people in churches today, they have no power. The Bible states that we receive the Holy Spirit when we believe, however it goes on to tell us that we need to keep being filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18 states:


Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;

but be filled with the Spirit.”


My husband tells me that in the Greek (the language in which the New Testament was originally written), it states: “Keep being filled with the Spirit.” We are given the Holy Spirit when we believe, but then we must continue
 to walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25).

Perhaps Daniel W. Whittle (1893) had it right when he wrote the beautiful hymn,

Dying with Jesus, by death reckoned mine;

Living with Jesus a new life divine;

Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine,

Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.

Moment by moment I'm kept in His love,

Moment by moment I've life from above;

Looking to Jesus till glory doeth shine;

Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.”


I do not want to be useless like that old stuffed fox! So according to the Bible, I need to “be renewed (continuously) in the spirit of (my) mind; and (I need to) put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:23-24).


Shirley's Soliloquies #393

02/05/2012

Sunshine in My Soul

It's raining! It's pouring! The old man is snoring,

He went to bed, and he bumped his head,

and he couldn't get up in the morning!”


The last few days it has been raining. When I was a child we used to sing the above chant. It is said to have originated in England which is quite possible since it is a country that has a lot of rain. When I began to think about the words, I realized how strange they were! But possibly those childhood chants were coined to take the minds off the weather and even make fun of it.

In recent weeks, I have enjoyed looking outside and saying, “Oh, we have another gorgeous day of sunshine!” But not today, now there is rain, and I have decided to stay inside! Usually gray, rainy days like this seem to lay heavy on my heart.
 Not so today, for I seem to be enjoying the sound of the raindrops falling on the roof.

Earlier I had gotten my little harp out because a song kept going through my mind. It was “There is Sunshine in My Soul Today!”
So I enjoyed playing it. It just would not leave.

Suddenly, I realized that I've been asking the Lord repeatedly what I should write about this week. 'Hum, could He have put this song in my head?” I wondered. So I've decided to write:


There is sunshine in my soul today

More glorious and bright

Than glows in any earthly sky,

For Jesus is my Light.

Refrain:

O there's sunshine, blessed sunshine,

when the peaceful, happy moments roll;

When Jesus shows His smiling face,

There is sunshine in the soul.


Evidently Elisa had suffered a severe back injury and was in a cast for six months. Finally she was able to take a simple walk in the park. The joy she felt at her recovery prompted her to write those words, and they have been an encouragment to many people ever since.

The words brought to mind the parable that Jesus told about that wonderful day in the future when,


Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

Matthew 13:43


Ah, I thought, how wonderful it would be if I could right now 'shine forth' because of having the Son of God shining from within me. Does not the Bible say that I am to walk as a child of the light (Eph.5:8)?




Shirley's Soliloquies #392

01/29/2012

O What Love!

As I was falling asleep last night, I kept thinking of the great love of the Lord! I thought of many of the glorious descriptions of heaven in the Bible, and how there is no darkness there. I imagined all of that beauty, but then thought how He left it all to come to this world, a world that was filled with suffering, sadness, and darkness. He didn't come as a great king, but as a babe born in a manger to lowly parents. Even during his life, his thoughts were not of His own comfort, but of others. Often he would have nowhere to rest. He said,


The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests,

but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head!”

Matthew 8:20


Not only was His birth so lowly, but the life He lived was one of altruistic giving. He turned no one away who came to Him, but helped and supplied the needs of people in all walks of life. Many times, instead of gratitude, some forsook and even abused him. He was rejected and often despised. He willingly gave His life, taking the place of all. These thoughts brought the following song to my mind,


Wonderful it is that Jesus cares for me,

Coming from His home on high,

Into pain and sorrow, poverty and woe,

On Calv'ry's cruel cross for me to die.

Oh, what love that He should die for me!

Saving grace thus to supply for me;

Oh, what love! Oh what love!

Evermore I'll sing it -- Oh, what love!”

– David Williams?


No wonder the apostle Paul could not hold back his feelings and exclaimed,


Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!”

2 Corinthians 9:15


And my heart also swells with heartfelt thanks! With the Psalmist, it cries out:


Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving,

Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God!

Psalm 95:1-3



Shirley's Soliloquies #391

01/22/2012

Saying Goodbye

One day believers will never have to say “Goodbye” again! That is a pleasant thought!

It has been an amazing few weeks that we have had! But as wonderful as it has been,
we have had to say 'Goodbye' so many times!

The first group was in England to our loved ones there. At the time, I wondered to myself if we would ever set our feet on that dear land and among those many friends again.
 That seemed especially sad.

A few days after we returned home, our son and his family from Texas were with us. We enjoyed seeing how quickly our great-grandchildren had been growing. It was good to see their positive development during the time we had been apart. However, we had to tearfully say Goodbye to them as it came time for them to return back to Texas.

During the time that they were with us, our daughter and granddaughter flew in from Ohio, spending a week of their vacation here in the sunny south! Many times during their visit I thanked the Lord for His continued hand of blessing and goodness on us all. Sadly, we just dropped them off at the airport so they could catch their plane back to Ohio.

Oh, how heavy my heart felt on our way back home, but then I started thanking the Lord for the unbelieveable few weeks that we have had with so many of our family and friends!

It did remind me of the famous so-ofted repeated quote from Shakespeare, “Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good nite till it be the morrow.” In a way, saying it is almost wishing it wouldn't have to end. Someone once said, 'Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened!' And my daughter said, 'We'll look forward to seeing you again this Spring!'
 I thought that was all good advice.

I thought of Christians who can look forward to the time when we will never be separated from loved ones. The Psalmist tells of being with the Lord forever:


I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

Psalm 23:6


Also in the New Testament, we read of how wonderful it will be 'one day' when we won't have any more goodbyes! The prospect that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have is truly astounding. The Bible tells us that if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, all those who have died in Jesus will join those who are alive when the Lord comes from heaven with the trump of God. He goes on to say that we will all meet in the clouds and and then we will all be together forever with the Lord. He further says that we can comfort each other with those words (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18).

Yes, there will be no more partings -- No more goodbyes! That is comforting!




Shirley's Soliloquies #390

01/15/2012

Am I Procrastinating???

The time you feel like doing it the least, you need to do it the most!”


Hum, these were interesting words that I heard on the radio from Dr. David Jeremiah. They pretty much stayed with me through throughout this week. I thought to myself, 'How very true that is!' And I began to think of examples. First, I thought...

Exercise.” Probably the times when I least feel like doing any exercise, I need it the most! And when I do make myself exercise, I realize that I do feel so much better. Strange then, why should it be so hard to do, or even so hard to get started?

Work.” When there are hard jobs to do, either at home, school, or work; it seems very easy to procrastinate! In fact, it is much easier to say, 'I'll do it later!' Then the deadline quickly approaches, and I wish that I had at least started it earlier! It would have made the job so much easier to do if I didn't have to do it all right away!

Writing letters.” This seems hard for me to do. I have gotten quite spoiled by being able to type emails, and I enjoy doing it! To me, writing an email seems so much quicker and easier to do than getting out a pen and paper, an envelope and stamps. Besides that, I have to remember to mail the letter!

However, I do realize that sometimes it is necessary to write “snail mail.” For example, it is the only way to contact some people who do not have access to computers. – O dear, now that I stop to think about it, I am realizing that my husband had asked me to write a note to someone a couple of days ago, and I still haven't done it! Yes, I guess I do tend to procrastinate doing some things. I need to take Dr. Jeremiah's saying to heart today and get that letter written today!

Bible Study and Prayer.” Why is it that during times of personal Bible study and prayer, interruptions often happen? Probably one reason is because there are unseen forces involved in this area of my life. So when this happens, I simply stop, and then I finish later on when the interruption has ceased. I've come to realize how much Bible study and prayer are like the my food and breath. I need them! In order to live spiritually, these are necessities just as much as my physical food and breath. I have come to depend on them. As this example came mind, I thought of the following words:


Thy words were found and I ate them,

And Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;

For I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts.”

Jeremiah 15:16


Then I thought of Colossians 3:23, because that 'puts it all in a nutshell!'


Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.”

Colossians 3:23




Shirley's Soliloquies #389

01/08/2012

Happiness – A State of Mind?


Well, that sounds a bit simplistic! But some things that I've heard recently drew my attention back to the importance of having a positive attitude. An old saying that Joan Collins popularized is good to keep in mind: “When life throws you a lemon, make lemonade!”

When I was teaching, we used to talk about “self-fulling prophecies.” If children constantly hear that they are bad or shy or 'dumb,' studies have shown that they will eventually live up to what is expected of them. I have experienced it in my own classrooms throughout the years. I have seen students whose mental abilities were said to be very low, perform high above average work. It was very rewarding to me to experience the joys of learning evidenced in some of these children!

Yes, it IS good to realize the impact that one's state of mind has on every aspect of life. Not only in learning, but it can also affect a person's health. For example, I have heard how an old person, especially one who feels that he is unloved and useless will often suffer illnesses. Some have even willed themselves to die. How often is it that as soon as a person retires, and feels his usefulness has ended, that he succumbs to illnesses? However, the one who retires and has positive projects and outlooks can go on to
 live a long and productive life in some other direction.

It is also possible for a person to be terminally ill, and yet project great contentment and happiness. I have read studies about people who were terminally ill, who did not allow any negatives to cross their minds. Some have watched comedies, told jokes, and laughed a lot. Such people are usually an inspiration and encouragement to many others.

Therefore, the old saying commonly attributed to Joan Collins is good to keep in mind: “If life throws you a lemon, make lemonade!”

Of course as one might expect, the Bible had already set forth these principles thousands of years ago!

Lamentations 3:17-18 states that when there is no peace, no happiness, the strength has gone, even hope vanishes.
 But the wisdom of Solomon proves to be very true:


A joyful heart makes a cheerful face, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken....

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

Proverbs 15:13 and Proverbs 17:22


Then as I read and meditated on Psalms 37:3-5,7 (NASB) a calmness entered my soul as I determined to
“Trust, Delight, Commit and Rest in the Lord!


Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it....

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.”