Thursday, September 29

Pearls from Perils

What is a natural pearl?

Most of us know how pearls are made.

When a foreign substance invades an oyster, the intruder slips into the mantle tissue of the mollusk, causing irritation. It is somewhat like the oyster getting a splinter. “The oyster’s natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself,” as one source states.

As a natural reaction to this, the oyster secretes a substance known as nacre to envelope the foreign invader as a part of its self-protection. The nacre is secreted over and over creating layers around the irritant to make it smoother.

Over time, the layers create a shiny pearl of various colors (white, pink, black, red, blue and green). Pearls reach their full size over an average span of three years. Thus, the reason for their worth.

What is a cultured pearl?

Cultured pearls develop much in the same way. However, while natural pearls develop without human intervention, cultured pearls are cultivated through human manipulation, depositing the irritant within the mollusk.

What is a peril?

The dictionary defines peril as something that causes an exposure to injury, loss, or destruction, grave risk, jeopardy, or danger.

Is there an irritant in your life, something that has attempted to destruct your life or invade your spirit? Has some circumstance, trial, or grief surrounded you, threatening injury or loss?

Some of our troubles emanate from our own human manipulation like the cultured pearl. We then try to cover them over by our own efforts. This usually results in the problem remaining as grit stuck in our craw rather than becoming a pearl.

However, some trials develop without our intervention. Like the irritant of the natural pearl, they just slip their way into our lives.

The Lord takes all our perils, all those irritants and trials, hurts and heartaches, losses and griefs, and covers them over with His balm. He pours out the oil of His Spirit, layer upon layer, upon our souls and spirits until we have “beauty for ashes” and “the oil of joy for mourning.” (Isa. 61:3)

I don’t think it is any coincidence that the gates into heaven are each made of one gigantic pearl. (Rev. 21:21) God has taken all the perils, trials, and tribulations from the beginning of time and molded them into the pearly gates.

We shall enter those portals of pearl, passing through and leaving behind all that has grieved us throughout our lives, leaving our tears outside the gate and entering into the fullness of joy.

Just as someone once said, “Nearly all God’s jewels are crystallized tears,” so all our perils are encapsulated pearls.

How long has it taken to make a pearl out of your irritant, your hurt, your peril? Are you still waiting for your pearls from perils? Hang on; it takes time. In God’s timing, all your troubles will be transformed into worthy pearls.

A pearl...a healed wound, born out of affliction. Are there any pearls in your life?

Today, I'm connecting with...

...hop over and read some of the other entries.


Sunday, September 25

Go Another Mile?

“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But now I tell you: do not take revenge on someone who wrongs you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too. And if someone takes you to court to sue you for your shirt, let him have your coat as well. And if one of the occupation troops forces you to carry his pack one mile, carry it two miles.” (Matt. 5:38-41 GNT)

In the King James Version, the words “shall compel” are used in the above verse and are of Persian origin, which means to be a courier, to press into public service, dispatch a mounted messenger, denotes to compel one to go on a journey, to bear a burden, or to perform any other service.

Jesus spoke the above words in His Sermon on the Mount. We understand what He was saying about not to “take revenge,” but what did He mean to “carry it two miles”?

In Jesus’ day, the Romans continued a practice they learned from the Persians about 600 years earlier. Persian messengers or heralds had the royal authority to compel any person or his horse, boat, or any other thing he owned that the messenger might deem usable in order to deliver the king’s commandments.

This is the custom to which Jesus referred.

This practice was made Roman law. An individual from a conquered country was required to carry a load or pack up to one mile on foot if coerced by a Roman. If a Roman soldier saw a Jewish male, adult or boy, he could command the male to carry his backpack or burden for one mile.

The Jews hated this law and would not carry this burden one inch further than the law required. However, they had two options: carry the burden and walk a mile or receive a beating and spend time in jail for defiance.

Therefore, the Jews marked off a mile from wherever they were so they would know in advance exactly how far one mile was if a soldier came and demanded they carry a load. The burden or pack the soldier compelled a male to carry could be anything, even something heavy, dirty, or smelly.

Can you imagine the indignance of the Jews that day as they sat on the hillside, listening to Jesus preach to them, “Go the second mile.” Can’t you just hear the whispers rising up, gathering momentum like a burgeoning wave? Do more than the Law required? Surely not.

What about us today? Do we go the extra mile? Do we go out of our way to help others, to show our love and care for them? Oh, we do for those we love, don’t we? But do we go that extra mile for those we don’t love?

What did Jesus say? Just a couple of sentences later in Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says, “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” (Matt. 5:44 NKJV)

Peter reiterated Jesus’ words, “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” (1 Peter 3:9 NLT)

You mean I have to be nice to those who are nasty to me, who stab me in the back, who cheat me, who persecute me? If I want to be obedient to the Lord’s words, I do! Ooo! That hurts, doesn’t it?

The first mile is the compelled, have-to mile, but the second mile is the compassionate, want-to mile.

The Lord may whisper to your heart to show some kindness to someone, to do some deed of sacrificial love for one who has been unkind to you. What will be your response?

May you not only walk the first mile but also walk many, compassionate, want-to miles.


Wednesday, September 21

Cocoon of Circumstance

(Today, I'm doing a rerun.)

“My troubles turned out all for the best…” (Ps. 119:71 The Message Remix)

Where can the most beautiful vistas be viewed? From atop the summit of the tallest mountain, after the most strenuous climb.

Which valleys have the richest green velvet pastures and the fullest spikes of wildflower colors? Those that have withstood the greatest drenching rains.

What forests produce the most prolific new growth? Those that have suffered the hot, searing flames of destruction.

Which diamonds sparkle the most brilliantly? Those that have felt the cleaving of the jeweler’s sharp chisel and the friction of the polishing wheel.

An old Chinese proverb says, “The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”

Just as all of nature suffers contrary conditions in order to be expanded, improved, or strengthened, so, too, do we. Difficulties and trials will always be a part of our lives. We cannot separate ourselves from them. And if we ponder it closely, we realize we will not grow as Christians if trials do not come to test and enlarge us.

If we try to wiggle out of these times, we force premature deliverance, frustrating God’s plan. It is like prying open a cocoon before the caterpillar has finished its metamorphosis into a butterfly. Forcing open the cocoon too soon will render the caterpillar deformed for the rest of its short lifespan.

When we manipulate the hands of the clock to align with our own agenda, we destroy the beauty that God desires to emerge from His timing. Through our own efforts to “help” God out with our deliverance, do we come out of our cocoon of circumstance too early and spiritually deformed in some way? Or do we wait for the revealed transformation by God’s hand?

Is our cocoon of circumstance not intended, as for the butterfly, to deepen our richest colors and give us wings of flight, beautifying our character, all which we may not have had before the trial? While in that cocoon of circumstance, we “are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory.” (2 Cor. 3:18 NIV)

God knows the worth, the power, and the beauty hidden deep within our hearts and only that which is contrary to our comfort releases the precious qualities within us. As Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Rom 8:18 NKJV)

God will work out all our circumstances for our benefit when we fully commit them and ourselves to Him, His Word, and His timing.

After experiencing a cocoon of contrary circumstance, are you able to say, as David, that all your troubles turned out for the best?

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” (Rom. 8:28 NLT)

Today, I'm hooking up with these great blog hops...
Finding Heaven Today

Adventures in the Ordinary

Reflections of His Grace


Sunday, September 18

When Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary guest post

Today, I bring you the retelling of how a precious soul met its Savior, written by my special cyber-friend, Cindee Snider Re. Please be sure to visit her beautiful site (link at the end of the post). Here’s Cindee...

Seventeen years ago, I walked into a McDonald’s with my young son. We ordered lunch, and I picked up the tray, took my son by the hand, choose a booth, and settled in.

Minutes later, chaos reigned. My son refused to sit, refused to be still, refused to eat. He fidgeted and whined and flung a French fry, tore up two napkins and scattered the pieces, and finally climbed across the table, grabbed my iced tea, ripped off the lid, and thrust his hand in deep reaching for the lemon slice. Iced tea erupted across the table and all over my lap.

Overwhelmed and exasperated, I wanted nothing more than to leave the restaurant immediately. I shoved my half-eaten burger in my purse, grabbed a stack of napkins and mopped up the booth, hoisted my squirming son onto my hip, took two steps, and stopped.

There in front of me sat another mom with a table full of well-behaved children, not one or even two, but four little kids, all laughing and talking and smiling and actually enjoying each other’s company.

“How is that possible?” I silently cried. “How can she handle four when I can’t even handle one?” And before I even thought about what I was doing, I crouched beside her table, my son still writhing on my hip, and poured out my heart.

Fast forward seventeen years to a warm June afternoon in a quiet church where I sat listening to my now 18 year old son sing and play guitar in the worship band for his high school graduation.

As the band finished practicing, the run-through of the slide show began and I gasped, “I know that name! Seventeen years ago that graduate’s mom led me to Christ and she doesn’t even know it,” I thought, though she soon would as a tear-filled, joy-filled, embrace-filled moment of recognition ensued.

One ordinary woman in an ordinary restaurant on an ordinary day investing one third of an ordinary hour in another, forever impacted the lives of more than a dozen members of one family across three generations. Why? Because that woman serves an extraordinary God!

That is the awesome, august, almighty power of the risen Christ, the sacred heart of the Great Commission, the amazing blessing of community, and the indescribable legacy of faith that changes the world.

One life touching one life touching one life in ever-expanding circles spreading higher, longer, wider, deeper, farther than we can ever begin to imagine, than we will likely ever understand this side of Heaven. That is the incredible, unbelievable legacy of lived-out faith.

So what does it take to change the world? One ordinary moment filled with One extraordinary God!

Father, may we never be too busy to share Your love, mercy, compassion, and grace with the world – one heart, one life, one family at a time. Amen.

*THANK YOU, Susie VanEerden, for listening with a selfless, compassionate heart as I poured out my own nearly two decades ago. Your eternal legacy is beautiful and profound and farther reaching than you may ever know!

**Hop over and be wowed by Cindee’s beautiful writing on her site Breathe Deeply. You will surely be blessed!

***Do you have a photo of the one that led you to Christ? Here’s mine (it's from 1957)...


Thursday, September 15

The Human Heart Craves

The human heart craves... be loved, unconditionally be accepted, without reservation be understood, without condemnation for the day
...comfort in times of stress, grief, and affliction
...strength to cope
...a leader to follow
...recognition of achievement in spite of turmoil
...fulfillment for its emptiness
...tenderness when the world is unlovely
...encouragement for those days filled with woes from all that would harm
...confidence and calm when fear attacks
...soothing for the frustrations of life
...provision for all needs from evil
...power to fight the enemy
...shelter in the storm
...courage to step out when fainthearted
...a guidance counselor to find the designed path
...the right spouse, job, school, friendships
...refreshment in those parched times intimate relationship and the revelation of that loved One’s heart
...a Savior be welcomed Home into the Everlasting Arms

But yes, there are times when the human heart is contrary and desires the wrong things, but it seeks in confusion. A right heart craves to beat in perfect harmony with the Heartbeat of the Beloved.

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires and secret petitions of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord [roll and repose each care of your load on Him]; trust (lean on, rely on, and be confident) also in Him and He will bring it to pass.” (Ps. 37:4-5 Amp)

*Imperfect Prose on Thursdays on Canvas Child


Monday, September 12

Please Come Home

After the birth of their daughter, a wealthy and powerful king and his wife found out they could have no more children. Always wanting a son as an heir to the kingdom, they adopted a baby boy.

As the son grew, he could not understand his father’s ways and, although his father loved him very much, he struggled to receive that love. He never felt a part of the family.

After many years, the son decided to leave his family. Before he left, the father handed him a note, sealed in an envelope, and told him, “If you ever need anything, open this envelope.”

Missing his son and longing for him to come home, the king sent his emissary to find him.

Living by himself in an old shack for years, the son lay destitute and dying. With no insurance or money, he could not afford a life-saving operation. Though others tried to help him, he always refused.

One day, someone knocked on his door. When he answered it, a deliveryman held out a large package and said, “Your father has finally located you and has sent you this gift.”

“I do not want anything from my father,” and he slammed the door.

The next day, the same thing happened. A knock at the door. The son opened it and the deliveryman said, “I have been sent by your father to give you a gift.”

“I...don’!” Slam!

On the third day, when the knock came at his door, the son became furious, but when he flung open the door, he found only a note taped to it. It read, “Sir, I only wish to give you something for which you will be eternally grateful. It will be held for you at our storehouse. Take this receipt, and if you should change your mind, you may pick it up whenever you desire.”

Grabbing the receipt, he slammed the door shut.

A few months later, the son died. Those who knew him contacted his family. His sister came to collect his meager belongings. As she went through his things, she found a worn envelope, unopened, and the ticket for the package.

Having no idea what they were, she opened the note and read it, “My dear son, I waited for a son for many years. I prayed to have a son just like you, and then I found you. You were so special that I chose you above all the others to be my son and be the heir of my kingdom. If you should ever need help of any kind, do not ever hesitate to ask me. I will do anything for you. All you need to do is ask. Lovingly, your father.”

After wiping away the tears, the sister took the receipt for the package and went to the storehouse to collect it.

When she got back to his shack, she sat down on the dirty floor and began to open the big box. Her eyes widened in disbelief as she removed the packing. Millions of dollars filled the box.

Her thoughts came rushing out like a flood, “The son of a king lived like a beggar! If only he had opened the gift, he could have been rescued from his situation. He could have had his operation. His debts paid. Been reconciled with his family. Had a family of his own. He could have lived like the son of a king.”

Inside the box, the sister found another note, “My son, this is my gift to you. You never asked for anything, yet everything was prepared and waiting your request. Even though we are separated, I love you with an everlasting love. You have been my greatest care, but you did not want my love.

“I am sorry you did not understand my ways. If you had only recognized my hand at work, reaching out to you, you would have been spared. I wished only for your happiness and well being, no matter what happened. I love you, my son. Please come home. My kingdom is yours. Your loving father.”

As tears once again rolled down his sister’s cheeks, she whispered, “If only he had known the heart of the father, the kingdom would have been his.”

“It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32b NKJV)

Have you opened the gift of the Father and received the wealth of His kingdom?

If you’ve wandered far from Home, hear what the Father says...

“I love you, My child. Please come home. My kingdom is yours. Your loving Father.”

This is part of Christian Writers blog chain on the topic "coming home." Please check out the other great posts in the list in the right sidebar.

Also hooking up with...

A Pause on the Path

Finding Heaven


Wednesday, September 7

Imprisoned by Faith

Today, I’m hooking up with Bonnie Gray of FaithBarista. The topic: What season of faith are you walking through? Fall (letting go) – Winter (loss/waiting) – Spring (new starts) – Summer (embrace and celebrate).

I’ve experienced many winters of faith. Sometimes feeling imprisoned by faith...waiting, longing, wondering what will happen next. But there is one thing I have learned in the midst of it all...praise changes things, even if it is only my attitude! My praises show my trust and faith that the Lord will work out His purpose. Just as Paul and his companions...

Paul. Asleep. At night. A man appeared to him in a vision. The man pleaded, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” (Acts 16:9b Amp)

Immediately, Paul, Silas, Timothy, Luke, and possibly others set sail for Macedonia. Confident that God called them to go there and proclaim the gospel. Landing in Philippi, they stayed for several days.

And were they welcomed with open arms? Well, yes and no.

After preaching, the men baptized Lydia, a seller of purple, and her household. But then...

One day, on their way to the place of prayer, a demon-possessed slave girl, who earned money for her masters by fortune-telling, kept shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.” (Acts 16:17 NLT)

After several days of this, Paul became so annoyed that he turned to her and commanded the spirit to come out of her in Jesus’ name. And it left her.

Seeing their hope for profit suddenly disappear, the owners of the slave dragged Paul and Silas before the authorities in the marketplace, charging them with troubling the city and teaching unlawful things.

Their obedience got them flogged, imprisoned, and shackled.

And what did they do? Moped, whined, complained, questioning God and shaking their fists at Him? No?

In the dark hours of night, shackled behind bars for their faith and obedience, the men lifted up sweet prayers and hymns of praise which echoed throughout the prison walls.

And what did God do? Leave them there to suffer and die? No? What did He do?

“Then, without warning, a huge earthquake! The jailhouse tottered, every door flew open, all the prisoners were loose.” (Acts 16:26 Msg)

Hearing the men’s praises, God released His power. He delivered them, brought them out miraculously! And sent them on their way to finish carrying out His call.

And what do I do?

Though we step out in faith, God does not always release us. He has not released me. I am here, confined in my faith, in peace, obeying what the Lord has called me to do.

The Lord showed me a long time ago that praise is the devil’s death-knell, which defined means any warning sound of death, or to ring a bell slowly, solemnly, especially at a funeral.

When praise rings its death-bell toll for the enemy, the Lord goes to work. The shackles of confinement fall away; the bars of imprisonment break apart.

No matter how things appear, if we obediently follow God’s desires, He will work out all things, for “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Rom. 8:28 NIV)

Confined but not shackled, I praise the Lord right where I am. Imprisonment is a condition of the heart, not circumstances. Why do caged birds sing? Because their hearts are free. Songs of freedom come from the heart, not circumstances.

And what do you do?

Have you ever stepped out in faith and obedience to a command of God and all chaos broke loose? Or had some trial or unsettling condition surround you with bars of confinement?

Maybe your peace and confidence deflated like a punctured balloon. Maybe you felt shackled and held hostage like Paul. You probably doubted hearing the voice of the Lord. However, encountering contrary circumstances does not mean you misunderstood the Still Small Voice.

No, my friend, you just encountered the headwind of the enemy. In fact, that opposition can confirm a right choice. That ol’ enemy desires to thwart your obedience to God’s call whenever he can.

Peace is in your heart, not in your circumstances. So, whether you are like Paul and released or like me and still confined, begin to praise the Lord in those dark hours and watch Him go to work.

Let your imprisoned faith sing above your circumstances.



Sunday, September 4

I Didn't Order This Life guest post

Today, I am pleased to bring you a special guest post by my friend Dionna Sanchez. Please welcome her and leave her some comment love...

“This isn’t the life I ordered.” I bet that’s what the diabetic says. Or the mom of a child with disabilities. I bet the spouse who sits in their home reading a note from the one they loved who has gone to love someone else wonders where their happy-ever-after has gone.

We are misled in a way. We are taught that if we are good, honest, moral, and right that life will often be safe and comfortable. It won’t hurt.

Yet, the person who answers the phone to hear their teenager was killed in a car crash knows they didn’t order that kind of a story. And the grandparent who is taking over guardianship of their grandkids because their child can’t be a parent in jail…they probably think – “this isn’t the life I ordered.”

I think it’s funny, in a way, how we think we can order our own lives. I mean – who gave us “boss-ship”? God orders our lives and He ordains our days. Satan does what he can in the meantime to trip us and mess up our every step. And he does a good job of it.

Life is life. The good, the bad, the uphill and downhill. It has valleys and deserts. It has exhilarating joys and deep, deep pain. We can’t escape. We live, we breathe. We love and we hurt.

We can feel robbed about the things we didn’t order in our lives. Whatever those “things” may be. We’ve all been given something that wasn’t on the agenda. But…we can make the most of our situations. We can look for the blessings, use the hurts to minister to others, or simply let the trial make us stronger and better.

I heard it said that if a tree doesn’t have wind, it won’t grow. The same is true for our lives. If we don’t have adversity and hardship, we won’t grow. Our roots can’t get deeper or stronger.

This may not be the life we ordered but it’s the one God ordered for us.
Life IS a gift. It’s up to us to choose how to open that gift.

“For I surely know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 )

~Be sure to visit Dionna’s site: Beauty in the Storm and connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.


Thursday, September 1

Alone Time with God

Today, I am linking up with Bonnie Gray of FaithBarista on the topic of "Whitespace Jam: Share anything you’d like about your alone time with God."

The Lord once spoke this to my heart and I share it with you. May He speak it to your heart as well...

“My child, you are doing well. Keep aiming at the goal I have set for you. This has been a wearisome time, but keep your aim and your eye on the goal, that is, to do My will.

Obedience is of the utmost importance. All My trust is placed in one of My children who places all their trust in Me. I trust them to do My work, that work which is so important for the lost world.

There are those who desperately need your obedience, for without it, their pathway is hindered. There are many who depend on My obedient children even though they do not know it.

The future of some, the well-being of others is so dependent upon your obedience. Take care that you heed My words.

I will help you rule your time. Give all your time into My hands. I will see to it that there is time enough for everything you need, and I need you, to do.

I am building up the waste places in your life, brick by brick. You are placing them back together with the cement of obedience to repair the wall that was broken down. Rejoice now as you build upon that firm foundation.

I will bring about My will in your life. But you must be willing as a little child to follow Me and do so obediently.

All My blessings are being poured out on you. I will rectify everything. I love you.”