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…from glory to glory

Archive for the tag “from the heart”

Psalm 39 – Reflections

written on my heart

Reading the Psalms – McLean Presbyterian Church

Psalm 39

As of Passover/Resurrection this year, I have been living alive in Christ for 39 years this side of glory. Because of the sudden, acute onset of generalized anxiety disorder, for 16 of those years, I have been in the care of a psychiatrist and therapeutic counseling. I only admit that by way of introducing one of the medical components embedded in the care disciplines of these professionals. That component is a questionnaire which every patient must complete on a periodic basis to assess the advance or relief of their condition. One of the questions focuses on the patient’s level of thoughts of death and/or dying, chiefly whether they are thinking they would be better off dead. The questionnaire also probes whether the patient is considering ways to take the matter of dying into his/her own hands.

Long before I was ever assessed for anxiety disorder, there were times in my life as an atheist humanist that I considered how I might end my life; as a humanist, I was not actually wanting to leave a mess behind for someone else to clean up. As a humanist in the moment of realization that I was a total failure at being master of my own destiny and the highest form of life in the universe, all I really wanted to do was to cease to exist—essentially, to have never existed at all. Suicide did not fill the bill for accomplishing that, since it erases nothing and only adds more to the failure.

As I reflect on David’s lament, I realize that God was making me lament my folly to within an inch of my life, as he says in verse 9:  “…Because it was You who did it.”  It is God who opened my eyes to the truth that 5…Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor…Surely every man walks about like a shadow; surely they busy themselves in vain; he heaps up riches, and does not know who will gather them…”

I was loudly and profoundly awakened to the raw truth that human life, in all its attempts at autonomy and achievement, is the most vulnerable on this planet,  as David says in verse 11: “When with rebukes You correct man for iniquity, You make his beauty melt away like a moth…” because God’s holy gaze is directed at humanity.Psalm 11.4 reminds me: “The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; His eyes see, His eyelids test the children of man.”

Since my re-birth in Christ Jesus 39 years ago, I have never given thought to ending my life at my own hands. Nevertheless, I confess that I have thoughts of death daily. As a Christian it is hard not to have thoughts of death, since in Christ, we are aware of the corruption of this flesh we inhabit. More days than not, I am keenly aware that I walk under God’s holy gaze, and the “kavod”—the weight of His glory is the closest thing I can think of to being either extinguished, or changed as carbon is pressed into a diamond. It is one of the most extraordinary total physical and spiritual experiences a person could ever know this side of glory; and I can only take so much that I must cry out as David did in verse 13:  “Remove Your gaze from me, that I may regain strength, before I go away and am no more.”

At 72, I am closer to knowing—even if vaguely—the measure of my days.  To be sure I know more keenly how frail I am, and I pray:  “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the reproach of the foolish… according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.” (Psalm 39.7-8; Philippians 1.20-22).

Soli Deo Gloria.

Re-discovering music…

…hath charms.

Music is a giftApril has been a challenging month for many around this world. Waiting is not something we humans do very well; and in the USA, we find waiting and being quiet especially upsetting, disquieting, and even a torment to the soul.

I am no stranger to waiting, but this month has tested whether I will truly discover the Providence of God even in unsettling circumstances. People who know me well know that I am an avid, daily student of the Word of God; many know of my unwavering labors of love in prayer for people whom I know and for fellow humans enduring temptations, testings, and trials this side of glory on a fallen planet. But not many know how much I value music for living well this side glory.

One of the most pleasant of surprises has been becoming re-acquainted with music and how it stirs up joy in my life. I am thanking Spotify for that pleasure; it has enabled me to develop playlists of music my husband and I have enjoyed from early in our life together, but which became eclipsed by the onslaught of much to do, and the demise of the best musical programming on broadcast radio.

We began our joint musical library back in the late 60s with vinyl discs and open reel tapes on high quality stereo equipment. (Although vinyl discs are emerging as a respectable medium for recording and playback, I reckon that only professional musicians nowadays know what open reel tape systems are.)


“Finding old MUSIC you used to love is like

getting back in touch with an old friend.”


As the media transitioned from vinyl discs and open reel to cassette tapes, we transferred favorite albums from our library to the cassette medium, and onward up the tech chain to digital media. We still own our audio stack comprised of stereo amplifier, stereo turntable, dual audio cassette recorder, and dual disc recorder/player, with two speakers which would make modern speakers sound pathetically anemic. However, operating all that equipment has become more like work than pleasure. Spotify to the rescue! Within a matter of a few hours of browsing, voila! Favorites galore in various genres from long ago to more recent artists.  And Spotify streams vibrantly through our laptop wired through our amp and stereo speakers.

Music never diesOne of the many joys of life this side of glory is beautiful music. The world of my mind and my heart is touched deeply by music.  I am moved to sing and to write and to live more deeply by the melodies and rhythms I hear. They must be melodic and lyrical to impress me as beautiful. They must have rhythm and resolution or I am left despondent, agitated and ill of soul.


“Music and Rhythm Find Their Way into the Secret Places of the Soul.” –plato


I am as gladdened by a stirring rhythm as any true music lover; I am known to dance and do a little controlled head banging to the beat of a great piece of rock and pop music performed well. I can groove and praise God at the same time.

There is, however, an entire genre of sounds which are peddled as “music” but which are nothing more than irritating harrassment and vexation to the mind and heart. Any musician who contrives the mischief of pointless cacophony and vain discord punctuating it with an unrelenting, stomping, jack-hammer percussive beating, leaves a harmful imprint on the human soul. Music ought not to be used as a weapon of a wrathful and vulgar spirit, but as the gift from God it is meant to be: good and true and beautiful. 


“Your heartbeat changes with the music you listen to.”


Since music is a fair and glorious gift from God…

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

Psalm 95.1-2 NIV

This is a time for us who are trusting in the sovereign providence of God over all things to be…

…speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”

Ephesians 5.19 NASB

and…

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Colossians 3.16 NASB


Here is a link to a long ago favorite, newly captured on my Spotify playlist:

“Jalousie” – Arthur Fiedler & Boston Pops

Here is a link to a old classic newly discovered and captured on my Spotify playlist:

“Classical Gas” – Mason Williams

Here is a link to a worship piece on one of my playlists:

“Let Us Rejoice and Be Glad” – Paul Wilbur


Note: I am not receiving any compensation from Spotify for my references and links to my playlists. However, you can sign up for a free Spotify account to listen to these shared pieces.  

I was young once…

Yorktown Rose2…and younger everyday

As I write this I am listening to music from my Spotify radio platform, taking me back to decades past when my love and I danced to the delight of Latin rhythms. Facebook has re-emerged in my life as a way to re-connect with friends and family enduring the long weeks of quarantine. With our church being forced to connect online via the benefits of ZOOM technology, I miss the sensory experience of “surround” love, the palpable presence of the Holy Spirit among us, and the exposure to the spectrum of inter-generational affection and interaction.

Ed and Pat at Springfield HiltonAmong the many interests I have pursued during this period of extended confinement with my love, I have found a few new FB “friends” on the planet who are young and beautiful and talented. Some of them have introduced me to their own exploration into what is enduring, and beautiful and excellent. I could be very jealous, allowing my mind to drift into bitterness at my own displacement from the rising generation in which these young virtuosos have distinguished themselves. Instead of dwelling on the loss, I am stirred to think about the decades ago when I and my love were what the world would call “young.”  In his advancing decline in his body, my aging brother-in-law’s heart craved the joy of socializing with us.  He called us “young blood.”

woman wearing pair of white and black pumps

Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Now, in this season of my life in a vessel which no longer meets the world’s criteria for youth, where can I find the consolation for a heart that still conceives of youth and beauty, that is thrilled by beauty and vibrancy of what my deceased brother-in-law often called “young blood?” In this season of my journey from glory to glory, my memory abandons me momentarily at times as I chase after a word which has dashed through my gray matter like a jackrabbit, only to disappear through a hole in

my boogie shoes

my boogie shoes

my head. And the realities of the fall have devastated my fashion sensibilities. The second law of thermodynamics, from which no one can escape, has left me no choice but to decide whether I wish to walk on my own two feet in shoes which accommodate arthritic feet and high arches, or to wheel about in a chair, my feet adorned with the fashion to which my vanity and tastes still gravitate. So now I dance to Latin rhythms in my San Antonio Shoes and be glad for it…

Oh. My. God! (No blasphemy intended) All I can do is bow in wonder before God who is at the work of making all things new…

If I only knew then what I know now!  Then, in my much “lovelier youth” I lived in a dream detached from the reality of God’s power in a world broken and defiled by the rebellion of my ancient ancestors who exchanged their reality in the beauty of God’s presence and life for a dream of being the masters of their youth and beauty. Their dream of youth and beauty apart from God unleashed on the entire cosmos the nightmare of the second law of thermodynamics…

July 17 2018While I listen to the lilting rhythms and melodies of Latin music, I remember that in Christ, the second law of thermodynamics will have no hold on me. Ah, you say to me, “But your glory is fading.” I say to you what the Word of God says to those who trust Him alone for “dear life:”

according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14 knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4.13-18

While I walk in an aging vessel enlivened by the Spirit of God through faith in Christ Jesus, I no longer walk in a dying dream. In Christ Jesus, I am younger now more than I have ever been in my more lovelier years, because I am,  “with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, [being] changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3.18).

I listen and I notice and I thank God for the beauty and excellence I find He is still cultivating in the “young blood” who still share with others, whether or not they know in their beautiful youth that their giftings are from God. I know; and I write for the glory of God to encourage readers to give glory to God for their youth, beauty and gifting…

Because…

We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”

2 Corinthians 4.7

Georgetown Rose D

Passover and what it begins…

thorns and gold2

source unknown: I do not own the copyright on this image.

…A Night Different from All Nights

In this season while we are all quarantined and waiting, I have been praying and revisiting the wonders of what God has poured into my own poor earthen vessel concerning the Passover and the Feast of Firstfruits + Resurrection. The Biblical Feasts herald not only a new beginning but the end of all things old…

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.”

1 Corinthians 15:20-23

As promised back in March,  you can find the message and  celebration of the feast which follows on the “third day” of the Passover season: Yom HaBikkurim/The Day of the Firstborn/Firstfruits + Resurrection HERE.

If you find any blessing in what is shared with you in these pages, “pay it forward” by sharing with others the links to the things you find here…

God  has sovereignly blessed us with the way to reach out in encouragement through the medium of a world-wide web.  Let us who are skilled with its use keep covenant with the God who has given the gift by spreading the truth of who He is…

I invite you to share in the joy that nothing can take away…

Messiah is risen!  L’Chaim b’Yeshua! To LIFE in Jesus!

Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

Revelation 1.4-6

 

 

Twenty Years Later…

…and still relevant.

In January 2015, I was a new Word Press writer. I shared a post which was not viewed by many, if any.  I am posting it again 20 years after the writing of the poem and five years after my introducing readers to it…

I wonder how many of our readers remember the turn of the century from the 20th Century to the 21st Century. I remember the tidal wave of Y2K worries and fears which swept over this earth. They seem rather insignificant now, in light of the greater fears and worries which have swelled across this world wide neighborhood in the preceding decade of this century; and we are now well into the next decade with greater knowledge of many things, and multitudes more of questions and unknowns looming ahead…

Rarely am I ever given the enviable gift of poetic expression,  but what I will share with everyone today is my heart answer to all that might shake and unsettle and inflame and threaten us in the days and years ahead. This flooded my heart as I was pondering the threshold of the year 2000. As I read it again from time to time, I realize how very relevant my modern day psalm is to all that I have since seen rising around us. In light of what we see unfolding in our times…

…May this gift which the Spirit of God poured out on me bless you and encourage you all in Christ Jesus in the days of the weeks ahead… Soli Deo Gloria!

Millenium King: A Psalm for the Century

©2000, ©2020, Patricia Stachew, Stillwaters Publications, Reston, VA; all rights reserved.

In the Shadow of His Wing,

While all the spectres, terrors of the world

With their threats and warnings

Of agony, rage and pain are,

Subject to His Sovereignty, unfurled;

We hold no bitter rage, nor dread,

While amid the fears and tremors

Of this planet’s fallen soil we tread.

Tossed in trials, we stand safe, unmoved;

Afflicted, yet healed

By the everpresent Balm outpoured;

His Perfect Faithful Love for us is proved,

The warfare won by One Yeshua, Saving Lord.

Our eyes once blind, now beholding,

His birth and saving blood revealed,

With unearthly joy,

We, though dying, live and sing.

While on this earth, we trust and walk

In tender mercies yet abounding;

Quickened with His spoken Word,

The Written Record of His vows fulfilled; so great

A cloud of witnesses surrounding.

Now, onward through this latter age,

Lives transformed as heirs of His Estate,

While strength and breath remain,

Unshackled from the bonds of futility and rage,

Unchained by Hedonistic pleasures proven vain,

His Love compels us speak of joyful tidings we have heard;

And of Victory in the Battle

He has waged,

Gently, boldly talk.

Earth

There is no woeful portent of impending doom,

Nor promised global peace and wealth foretold

Which ever have escaped His perfect sight,

Eclipsed His everlasting glory,

Or loosed their power from His omni-potent hold.

This truth have we, solid, faithful, constant;

No fable of contrivance, nor old wives’ story,

Amid the ebbing, flowing tides of circumstance,

Capped with misty apparitions of the coming night,

And laced with glittering world-spun webs

Conceived for numbing bitter,

Hopeless gloom.

Now, with joy, we live to tell–

With neither bitter rage, nor dread–

While amid the fears and tremors

Of this planet’s fallen soil we tread:

The Kingdom we are here to spread,

To increase and multiply

Is that of Him Who reigns:

His Name Immanuel!

ChristTheKing3

©2000, ©2020, Patricia Stachew, Stillwaters Publications, Reston, VA; all rights reserved.

The God Who Keeps Covenant…

macro photograph of green leaf plant

Photo by Matthias Cooper on Pexels.com

…with those who love Him. (Deuteronomy 7.9)

In all the upheaval and fear in the world, I see Spring emerging as a sweet covenant promise of the Lord. Spring is coming, and with it is the mercy and grace of God declared in creation for those with eyes to see and ears to hear…

Spring’s Rising is my rant after winter’s waiting with the muted shades of nature, the absence of birdsong, the fickle winds blowing icy and mild to unsettle the body and challenge the trusting soul, and the light which is faded blue and vanishes too quickly in the days…

During my waiting days, I have been deeply into the study of the Word of God, finding comfort and encouragement for such a time as this…

During my waiting days, I have also worked on my site to order some of the static content into new page settings. If you visit my site, you will find a page entitled “The Biblical Feasts.” If you hover your pointer over that page link, two sub-pages will appear: “The Autumn Holy Days” and “The Spring Holy Days.” 

“The Spring Holy Days” page is newly published, and includes a Biblical Overview of the Springtime feasts of the Bible, as well as the full ordering of my 20 years of study and teaching on the Passover + The Days of Unleavened Bread. You can find the encouragement and reminder of the glory of the God who keeps covenant HERE…

There are more celebrations during the Springtime season which take us who are “tuned in” to the covenant-keeping God all the way to the advent of Summer;  and therefore, the Feast of Firstfruits + Resurrection will follow shortly. I will send out an update when that content is complete.

If you find any blessing in what is shared with you in these pages, “pay it forward” by sharing with others the links to the things you find here…

God  has sovereignly blessed us with the way to reach out in encouragement through the medium of a world-wide web.  Let us who are skilled with its use keep covenant with the God who has given the gift by spreading the truth of who He is…

Loved by God…

…a sanctified sinnerJuly 17 2018

In my recent on-line studies with Ligonier Ministries I have been learning more on God’s attribute of love.  The most recent session of the course entitled, “Loved by God,” has visited the spectacular grace revealed in the Scriptures on the subject of “God’s Electing Love.” 

Discussion questions always accompany the study sessions, and I typically dig deep into them. The online study participants are always encouraged to share their answers on the Ligonier Connect community portal where other fellow participants can comment and interact with us.

Each session has a theme verse for the topic. The topical verse for the session entitled, “God’s Electing Love” follows:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”

—Ephesians 1:3–6

The particular discussion question which provoked my little grey cells to address dealt with the relationship between being a sinner chosen by God’s grace to be set apart for holiness and that of actually living as one sanctified by God’s grace while yet a sinner:

In what ways can sinners be holy as He is holy? Do you ever struggle with your own sanctification? In what ways have you progressed in this area of personal holiness?”

Before I could even form a thought on this question, I was driven back to the Scriptures to meditate again on the truths which my little grey cells tend to blur in the daily dust kicked up in the “helter-skelter” of the “ME” kind of life this side of Heaven. Laying hold of the Scriptures and feeding richly on the spectacular grace of the God who is the Ever living King of the cosmos cut through the accumulated “cataracts” on the eyes of this  mind He gave me and exposed the reality of being set apart by His own grace.  In realizing again that I am loved by God through His own electing grace, He “killed me softly” with His Word. What follows are the reflections on the subject of “God’s Electing Love” and the treasures which I found in His Word, both new and old…

There are two ongoing struggles in my life in this dusty existence, while yet being called out in the dust to live as one who knows the redemption from it by God’s grace. The first struggle is to remember that I am LOVED BY GOD and all that is wrapped up in that spectacular love package. The verses I have explored in this exercise are a few which ignite the fire of reality in my little grey cells and my bones and a longing to love God back. These are a few of the passages from the Word of God for my mind’s struggle to REMEMBER in this world of deceptions:

“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this thing today.” Deuteronomy 15.15

“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine’.” Isaiah 43.1

“The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you’.” Jeremiah 31.3

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” John 10.27-29

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” John 15.16

“These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14.25-27

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Peter 2.9-10

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1.2-4

“…as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1.14-16

  • Created in His image and likeness to belong to Him;
  • redeemed from my corruption and the corruption of this world to know Him and to LIVE as one alive and not perishing.
  • To know His Kingdom and to declare it—to LIVE as one who belongs to His Courts, His Service, His Royal children, lieges and loved ones.

Because I am loved by God, these are the things that the Holy Spirit reminds me about this spectacular sanctification of which I am privileged to live in Christ Jesus; and it is for Him and for His glory that I live and enjoy this calling.

The second struggle is a “good fight” (1 Timothy 6.11-13) as a sinner sanctified by the holiness of God and by His love. That “good fight” is YIELDING to the counsel, conviction, and correction of the Holy Spirit, and it is truly spiritual aerobics and a full and ongoing “cardio” workout.  Because I am loved by God, feeding on the Word of God and prayer without ceasing stays my mind on what is really real and true in a world of deceptions bombarding from every side. Because I am loved by God, by His grace, I am learning increasing tenderness to the conviction of sin and an increasing hatred for any “darling” sins which I admit to resisting and hesitating to surrender to Christ’s authority to cleanse; and I am learning the terrible effects of quenching the Spirit of God’s convicting work (1 Thessalonians 5.19) and the  grief such obstinacy brings to the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4.30). I am learning an ever increasing desire for the transforming and renewing of my mind that I would not “let sin reign in my mortal body,” and that I would “not present my members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin,” but present myself “to God as being alive from the dead,” and my “members as instruments of righteousness to God.” (Romans 6.12-13) Because I am loved by God, there is that longing to more glorify God by living a “Romans 12” and a “Micah 6.8” and a “1 Thessalonians 5.16-18”  life as Christ who lives in me—the “good fight”Soli Deo Gloria!

When I am Weak…

spiritual battleI have not blogged for many weeks not because I have been particularly busy. I have not been traveling to far away places and enjoying limitless social gatherings with relatives and friends. Although I have not been busy in the culture’s understanding of what “busy” is nowadays, I have been occupied with living one day at a time–prayerfully, joyfully and thankfully. Truthfully, it has been a fight–a good fight–but nevertheless, a fight to do so. I have not been able to engage in the battle without the mercy of some medication, because the “good fight” I face every night and every day is anxiety disorder. The “good fight” broke out over 15 years ago, and God has mercifully granted me the blessings of an isolated few who have accepted me and prayed for me. He has also provided the blessing of therapists who not only respect but also identify with my Christian Biblical orientation for living in Christ with this kind of infirmity. But I am, after many years in one church, in a new church with new challenges to “connect” and with innumerable “opportunities” to exercise my gifting to serve–and most of all the greatest challenge to finding a sister or brother in Christ who is a local praying friend, unashamed to be my friend, understanding when I cannot join the throng of retreats, church socials, and ministry commitments, and willing to take time to pay a personal visit to our home.

I have not found very much in Christian literature or church counseling publications on the truth of what the weakness of anxiety disorder does to a person who loves Christ and longs to serve Him in the Body of Christ in response to that zeal, consuming fire and love. Today, in my quietness, I came upon this article published by another Christian, one whom I greatly respect, whose articles and teaching I have found at other times and on other topics come from the heart of the Word of God. He is also one whom I did not suspect as being a victim of the “pox” of anxiety. His name is Tim Challies. Some of you may know of him.

After another one of the series of nights struggling to rest without resorting to medication, I yielded to God’s merciful provision and was rewarded with sleep I have not experienced in a long time. Today, I found Rev. Challies’ article entitled “Some Things You Should Know about Christians Who Struggle with Anxiety.” He posted it on his blog site in August 2016. I believe today was my day to be encouraged and exhorted in a way no other fellow Christian has had the courage to talk to me. So I am sharing the link with you. Some of you know and experience this “good fight” firsthand;  others of you do not struggle with this weakness, but you have dear ones about whose inexplicable periods of uncharacteristic introversion or perpetual tiredness you are always finding a puzzlement and frustration. Rev. Challies explains it courageously and graciously.  I could not have said it better, but I am encouraged by this offering of his to be forthcoming with others in my family in Christ when I need to decline the many good “opportunities” for the sake of the best which equips me to fight the “good fight.” Here is the link to the article:

Some Things You Should Know about Christians Who Struggle with Anxiety – by Tim Challies

I close with a verse from Isaiah 30.15 which has become a living verse, a capable weapon in my “good fight,” and a continual blessed comfort in a culture which is opposed to any such exhortation:

In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”

Too Good To Be True…

He has made everything beautiful.png

At a recent church membership class we were asked to introduce ourselves to each other, to tell where we were born and a notable thing about that city. Our city is always in the news about the seedy things; but no one reports about the work of the Kingdom of God in this town. Since I have been at McLean Presbyterian Church I have discovered some beautiful secrets scattered all over this area. Some are directly “daughter” ministries of McLean Presbyterian; many are close relatives within the Body of Christ, ministering sacrificially and faithfully to individuals at every season of life in their needs both physical and spiritual. So, Hello, from Washington, DC area, the city that is known for Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, Reformed Theological Seminary, C. S. Lewis Institute, The Lamb Center of Fairfax, Assist Pregnancy Center, Central Union Mission, Project Belong, Casa Chiralagua, Cornerstone School, Bethany House of Northern VA, etc… In the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, Christ Jesus tells John to write letters to seven different Church centers in Asia Minor during the First Century, A.D. I wonder what He would tell John to write to the Church in the Metro DC area. Take heart, there are great things of God that are going on in the Metro DC area, under the noses of those whose world view and preoccupation with a worldly kingdom is tragically fallen–where its dark web lures and traps men who seek to be rulers of the world.

My journey into membership at our new church was completed in March; and both my husband and I have been enjoying being immersed in the substantial teaching on Sunday mornings.  FYI, there’s a link on my page which will give readers access to the sermons at McLean Presbyterian Church.

Solomon prayed for wisdom

As a follow-up to the Sunday teaching in the Scriptures, our pastors usually direct our attention to thoughtful questions to discuss in our local community group gatherings. One question during the series on “The Gospel in Solomon” was this: “If God answered, in this instant, all the prayers you prayed this week what would happen?” Another one was convicting: “Do you pray simply for your life and circumstances to be more comfortable or are you confident that God will take care of that with your heart compelled for His Kingdom?”

Solomon's moment with God

We have been studying the Bible together in the late mornings. I call these times our “second breakfasts.” Technology has been the instrument which has enabled us to engage with the Word and with each other in this department. We have an elaborate, but effective, array which feeds the intercouple surfing webnet into our large screen video display. From that internet feed, we can stream and view and read  the online Bible, daily commentaries from Ligonier Ministries’ “TableTalk” publication. The series has been following the historical books of the Bible. We began in January with Joshua and are now deep into the monarchy under David in 2 Samuel. Our time together includes reading daily portions from the Bible in a plan to read through the Bible in a year. We sometimes choose to select an audio reading while we read the print on the screen; but we also take turns reading the passages aloud—this helps my husband rehab his speech and cognition with the aphasia he battles.

Wisdom-Quotes-3Our time in prayer follows our exploration of the Scriptures and usually responds to the convictions impressed upon us by the work of the Holy Spirit in the Word of God. Prayer is the chief weapon in our arsenal for warfare in times like these. Our unshakeable certainty of the sovereignty of God provokes us to prayer in all things… I wrote in December that many in our country are struggling with loss of home, belongings, livelihoods and loved ones from fire, monster storms and floods. The same is true again as I write this in Springtime. We are learning to pray Kingdom-of-God kinds of prayers as we observe the times, trusting God for the answers–things so great that the skeptics of this age would say they are too good to be true.

One somewhat unexpected development in my prayers has been that as I began the process of application for children’s Sunday school teaching, I realized that I would be premature in making a commitment to that ministry at this time. As I have waited and sought God’s leading and my husband’s thoughts on the subject, I believe God would have me be more available to my husband; in one key area since he is no longer able to drive, that I would be available to bring him to church without conflict of service.  Thanking God for His wisdom and the joy that has come to my soul in this pruning work. Nevertheless, if you would have told me 38 years ago that when my husband and I became old and weaker in body that we would enjoy the manifold blessings God has given us, with peace in our hearts, purpose and re-productivity  in our last season of life together, and joy which no circumstances can rob, I would have said it too good to be true. Thanks be to God who blesses us with every blessing in heavenly places. By His grace we will finish well.

In the meantime, I am continuing weekly with our local Community Bible Study group. We started in September with the book of Daniel, and in January, we began the book of Revelation. We are nearing the the end of the book of Revelation and it has been one spectacular lesson after another. Some studies of these books can get sidetracked into speculations on imagery and symbolism and miss the whole point and substance of the narrative. CBS has handled the study wisely; what a difference it is making in my here-and-now life.

thorns and gold2The early spring razzle-dazzle is quickly turning to the deeper greens on the trees as the leafing matures; and pollen abounds!   The razzle-dazzle of spring and the spectacular  beauty and stunning drama of Christ Jesus in His glorious atoning death and resurrection coming together has been exquisite; it continues to touch and resonate through all my senses and makes me cry, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

Look around you! Spring’s Rising! (a link to one of my recent reflections).

“Fear not, I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.

–Revelation 1.17-18

Glory be to God and may the Peace of Christ be with you.

 

A Perfect Church…

…and other expectations…

I could put many thoughts on this subject in writing to share with everyone who reads my posts; but I doubt any of them would serve anything but to elicit a nod of agreement on shared insights. What compels me to post anything at all on the subject is my studies this morning in Revelation 21 from the Community Bible Study materials.  If you read the chapter in this book of the Bible, you will see a description of the New Jerusalem.

In our group’s CBS Bible study questions we are asked to compare some of the previous manifestations of the glory of God from the passages of Scripture: Exodus 40.34-38; 2 Chronicles 7.1-3 and Matthew 17.1-8.

Here is what I observed: These are all appearances of God’s glory—even for their stunning effect upon fallen, corruptible men—while yet cloaked in a mitigating cover. The very face of God is not revealed, while fallen, corruptible men recognize that it is the Presence of the Glory of God before them and they are undone by its nearness to them. And the moment of glory fades…

In the new city, the holy city of Jerusalem, only the incorruptible redeemed shall dwell and they shall behold His Face in unmasked glory and not die;  but they shall surely worship God face to face, still falling humbly before Him, while enjoying perfect fellowship with Him and one another in His forever Presence.

Another thought question was included in our group’s CBS lesson on Revelation 21; we are asked how looking forward to such a city changes our perspective on today… 

Are you looking for a perfect church this side of Heaven? You might find a very good one, and on some days you might feel like you have stepped across the threshold into the New Jerusalem for the glory of God which falls on your heart at the substance of the unvarnished teaching of the Word of God there… and the beauty of reverent and excellent praise… and the kindness of people who acknowledge your existence in a culture which is wrapped up in itself and its I-phone activity…

But the glory this side of Heaven still fades, just as it did on Mt. Sinai, in the Temple dedication during Solomon’s reign, and on that mountain peak where Jesus was transfigured before the eyes of his disciples…

There are good churches on this planet where the substance of the unvarnished, un-compromised Word of God is taught and lived out from the heart, even if haltingly and “in process;” where forgiveness and accountability to the Word of God has not become an obsolete virtue… And yet, there are Sundays when you might feel dashed expectations because the pastor, for all his gift as a communicator and his humility as a student of the Word in his own life, his sermon did not address your struggle and search for understanding that day… or for all its excellence, the worship team’s rhythm did not match the particular rhythm of your heartbeat that day, because, by God’s sovereign providence, it spoke to others with different needs… I concede that if Scriptural deprivation from the pulpit leadership is a regular, long-term, repetitive experience, perhaps you should be looking for another church. If you are not in a solidly Scriptural teaching church, I exhort you to find one and attend it and take notes on the sermons and study the Scriptures presented…

Even so, if you find yourself pining at times because you hunger for God’s glory to fall upon you and change the stuff in your heart which does not please God–if this stunning “glory work” does not happen in every worship service in your church–the glory fades because we are not in the New Jerusalem.

A “perfect church” which is truly a good church will keep you looking forward to “the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11.10).

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

Revelation 21.3

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