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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rules to live by...

The Solomonic kingdom of the tenth century B.C. is referred to as a golden age of peace, prosperity, and international prestige for Israel. It is also said that the wisdom of King Solomon surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt.

To live in a time of prosperity and peace under the rule of such a successful and wise king must have been a wonderful thing for the people of God. Those years for them must have been a relief and a blessing. Not exactly the state of the world we live in, is it? But there must be something we can learn from this wise King in his time of peace and prosperity. What it is that he says to us?


Quite a lot actually. As one of the author’s in the book of Proverbs, King Solomon gives the people of God all kinds of useful information. In fact, the goal of this book is to describe and instill “wisdom” that is founded in the, “fear of the Lord” and that works out covenant life in the practical details of everyday situations and relationships.


I don’t know about you, but I could use a teaching like this in my life right now, so let’s dig a little deeper. The teachings of Proverbs is considered to be, “Wisdom Literature.” The covenant given to Moses from God did not specify all of his rules; its purpose was to set out the constitution of theocracy, to give general moral guidance and to provide a system to which God’s people can know his forgiveness. The book of Proverbs takes us deeper and focuses on what restoration should look like in day-to-day behavior and in personal character. The key term, “wisdom”, from the Hebrew word (khokmah) can have the nuance of “skill”, particularly the skill of choosing the right course of action for the desired result. In the covenantal framework of proverbs, it denotes, “skill in the art of Godly living.”


In certain other forms of, “Wisdom Literature” as well as Proverbs, parts of the text speak clearly to the youth and seem to be oriented in preparing diligent and honest men to serve the royal bureaucracy. Wow…our nation could certainly benefit from this kind of teaching, don’t you think?


However, much of Proverbs focus us on everyday life, community, and home. There are very clear teachings on marriage, raising children, discreet speech, diligence in harvest, concern for the poor and represents the democratization of wisdom. The offer of it to all people.


On of its goals is to restore the image of God in man, (think we need this?), and covers an array of other topics such as, diligence and laziness(6:6-11); friendship (3:27-28); marriage(18:22-, 19:14); child rearing(22:6); domestic peace (15:17; 17:1); work (11:1); getting along and good manners (23:1-2;25:16-17; 26:17-19; 27:14). In each of these areas, it offers wisdom for realizing the life of the covenant in the details; it shows that “godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. In (1Timothy 4:8) it demonstrates clearly that:


1. God’s will is intensely practical, applying to every aspect of his people’s lives. A proper relation to God involves, first, trying hard to understand its truth, and then embracing and obeying what one understands.


2. A life lived by God’s will is a happy life. (Proverbs 3:21-26)


3. a life lived by God’s will is useful life.(Proverbs 3:27-28;12:18, 25)


4. A life lived by God’s will does not just happen; one must seek after it, study, pursue it, and discipline oneself.


5. Such a life is available for those who go after it. (Proverbs 9:1-6)


In closing, I can tell you that I want this life. I desire it. And although the world, and my own sin nature, is constantly vying with God for my attention, I know that if I am purposeful and prayerful, and focused on Him, He will meet me in this place and give me the strength I need to persevere. It is a journey. But if Jesus and eternal life is not what we see and the end of it, we better change our destination, and change it now.


Mamo's world...

My grandson Jude named me Mamo. It dawned on me today that it was probably a combination of Mommie and Elmo.  Mamo's World.
And just in case you have trouble identifying the animals we made...one of them oinks...one quacks, and one has a long nose and makes a trumpet sound... 

A Dream

      I walk down a dirt road aware that I am happy. I am wrapped in the innate awareness of God's glory which is everywhere. I look at trees, notice clouds, take deeps breaths, and watch the wildflowers in the meadow beside me bend in the wind.  In the distance, here and there, a few people are scattered about. 

      In the dream, I suddenly realize that I don't know where I'm going, but I begin to walk faster.  I'm carrying something that gets very heavy.  "Put it down!" Someone yells from the distance. I look down, but can't see it.  I don't know what it is, but I hold on tighter knowing I will not sit it down.

     I continue down the road as things begin to change around me. They are subtle and quiet at first.  A shift in the sky, movement in the meadow, colors grow dim. 

     And then I know. I see God's breath leave the trees beside me and they wither.  

     I fill with panic and begin to run. I look around but no one seems to notice what is happening.  

      The sky grows dark and I begin to cry out, "Jesus! Jesus!"

     Inside my dream I am aware that Paul is beside me in the bed and I think, "I know he can hear me, why doesn't he wake me up?"

     And then, just as suddenly as it died, everything in my dream fills with life again.  The trees beside me saturate with color and life and my spirits settles as the meadow flowers blossom with glory.  

     A child appears beside me the road and smiles. Everything is fine. God is back and I fall to me knees. I'm clutching a Bible. 


      When I'm fully awake I say to Paul.  "Didn't  you hear me screaming Jesus' name?"
     He didn't. 

        


        Philippians 2:9-11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

    

          Acts 16:18 And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.

Coffee with Miss Beth...

        I want to sit with you in a quiet corner of a Starbucks and laugh as we share stories about our men and our daughters and our Michael boys and the gift of grandchildren.  I would tell you how your Bibles studies drew me into a love a God's word that changed my life forever and you would tell me I am darlin' and I would weep.  
     We would talk about the lives we had in Arkansas and Oklahoma, about the pain, the loss, and then we would praise God for his great love and the amazing grace of His redemption. We would talk about having oldest daughters the same age who roll their eyes and shake manes of thick brown hair and we'd have to get more coffee and I would hold your hand and weep.
     Then you would say something else about my hair and we'd talk about fashion and shoes and shopping and treasures and life and love and Jesus. 
      We would become more than just teacher and student. More than siesta sisters.
      In heaven, the Author of our stories would smile as our hearts knit themselves to one another because He knew that they would. He knew his two daughters, so similarly made, would have joy in their time together. 
     Then this California transplant would hug tight her Texas sister and thank her from the deepest well of gratitude for being such a faithful teacher of God's word. I would tell you that I can  only imagine how hard a life of ministry like yours really is and I would tell you that I pray for you!    
     
    So Miss Beth, don't be surprised if I pop into your office one day and invite you to coffee.  Our Father could be waiting to be entertained by two of his girls that are uniquely made and greatly loved.   

       
      So until then Miss Beth...thank you!

I picked up the paint brush and put it right back down. I had not become an artist.

      I had to remind myself that God would not ask me to do something that he wasn't prepared to help me accomplish, and I knew it was time. Today I would paint.  
     But paint what? The glory of creation? Yes. But I needed a starting point.  
     I decided that, "In the beginning," was as good a place as any, so I opened the bible to Genesis and read through the creation story. 
     Five hours later I packed it up and put everything away. The longer I painted the more discouraged I got.  There was nothing that glorified God in front of me and I had not suddenly become a painter. 
     I began to question whether I had really even heard from God on this subject. Maybe this was not part of my, "Glory Road," at all.  
     A few days later my desktop computer was in crash mode. I had to get my photos onto an external hard drive or I would lose them. Ten minutes in, a picture file opened called, "The Glory of God, " which had more than a hundred pictures where God's creation had simply stopped me in my tracks. 
     I watch them copy with tears in my eyes as God whispered, "Do you remember this?" I did remember.
      "This poppy burst open right in front of your eyes? Do you remember that?"
     Oh, yes. I wiped a tear from my cheek. "I remember." 
     I knew then that God had begun to put all of this in motion long before I ever knew He was doing anything. I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and heard the words he put upon my heart. "Paint these. This is where we met. Where you worshiped."    
     I reminded him that I could not paint. That I knew he was well aware of the mess I had made the other day. And then a answer came. "Be creative. It's in you." 
     By the end of the afternoon I knew which photos I wanted to start with.  There were still many loose ends, but I was encouraged and my juices were flowing.  I felt like God had given me a clear picture and equipped me with a plan.
     I had been playing with a phone App called, "Toonpaint," where you take a photo and turn it into into a black and white outline. It looked little a page out of a cartoon coloring book.  
     From there I found a program that would print the image onto a canvass. These arrived in the mail in a tube, and them Paul stretched them onto the wooden frames. 
     Now this was a starting point!

     May you never be moving to fast to see God's glory...


     

In awe...amazed and humbled.


    I struggle to share something that "God" is doing in me without it being about me. But, if I'm being completely honest, I'm overwhelmed by it all, so I'm going to try. I'll start with my point.
    If we give God a willing heart, and walk in faith, He brings to fruition the things He begins, and sometimes, they absolutely blow us away.
   
     Recently God recently reminded me that many months ago, when I showed my sister Kay the ToonPaintings on my Iphone she had said, "I think you should paint for real," but there was only a slight serious tone in her voice, and I remember smiling.
   
     He reminded me that after a very precious prayertime following Bible Study, a dear friend said to me, "I think you should write a Bible Study, Pam." And I remember shaking my head and laughing,  "Oh yeah...you see me in here. That's so not happening."

     Around this same time, another friend sought me out in the hall outside the nursery after church one Sunday and said, "I really have to share something with you. It sounds kinda crazy and I don't know what it means, but I think I'm supposed to tell you this."
     "What?" I asked her.
     "That you're going to start using your hands in a new way." There was a pause, smiles, and then we both kinda shrugged. "Okay." I said. Then I hugged her and we both went on with our day.  
    I spoke to this last friend recently, we had not seen each other in quite some time. I asked her about that day and she did not remember her words to me. She also did not know that I was painting.

     I write this because I see clearly how God uses the people He puts in our lives to encourage and affirm the things He is saying to, and doing in, us and I want you to see it too. God knit his people together for His good purpose. I love this!

     Now, almost a year later, I work on my Bible study, and paint almost every day.
 If I'm not writing or painting, then I'm praying, or thinking about it.
    If you told me a year ago that I would do a charcoal drawing of a horse for a friend, or paint my Mother's favorite picture of tulips for her birthday I would have told you that you were nuts. I am now, though, forever thankful that God knows me better than I ever knew myself. He is pulling something out of me that I never knew was there. 
     So I am now fully committed to this journey down, "The Glory Road," I don't know everything that lies ahead on this trail, but I trust my God. 
     I know that He halted a fiery passion in this daughters heart and in his time gave her back something even greater. I have great peace in that kind of love and know, without a doubt, that it can be trusted. 
     So use this for your Glory, Lord, and know that I see it for the miracle it is. I know what you have done. 
     May I never forget how impressed I am at this moment with what my Father in Heaven has done with one single willing heart.
     In awe, I sit amazed and humbled.









 

A rainbow in the sky and words on my heart...

     We all have moments with God. Moments where we plant memorial stones of remembrance. Places where we sit and ponder and praise.  
     This is one of mine...

     My week had been full. I had eye surgery in Dallas, and then ended up at the last few sessions of a "Kairos" conference with my sister at Gateway church. 
     I had been weeping on and off for the last two days. When I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit, that is what I do. I weep. 
    I have been in a waiting season. Waiting for what, I did not know. But in faith I was waiting still.
    Driving home from my week in Dallas, God's presence came on me so powerfully that I had to pull over to the side of the road. Tears were running down my face. I glanced at the clock and realized that Kay and Abbi were probably getting baptized at that moment. I began to pray. 

     "I want you to write again." God's words, so clear, brought me out of my prayer and I opened my eyes. Had I just heard God's voice? 
     In front of me I saw raindrops on my windshield and behind them, a rainbow filled the sky. I began to weep again.  "Call it, The Glory Road."
     A Bible study?  I wondered. Are you kidding? I loved the title though. 
     "And I want you to paint." 
     I did not hear God speak these last few things to me, but they could not have been more clear and there was no doubt who they came from as they resonated upon my heart. 

     Now, as I sit down to share this, I still can't wrap my head around the place I find myself in. God's presence continues to overwhelm me though and at this moment my eyes fill with tears.  I know I fly into this blind and am only willing to go in the secure knowledge that God is my pilot.
     
       Writing a Bible study was never part of my plan. It is in fact the last thing I would ever chose to write. I started with a study by Beth Moore years ago and never stopped, but I can't stop asking questions either.  I often think Scripture is hard and struggle at times to understand. But despite this, God's word captured my heart and came alive so I keep going.  I lay things down in prayer often, and as I do, sometimes revelation comes with it. 
     When it doesn't, what it boils down to is this.  What I know to be true about God, what his word reveals, and what he has said to me personally is enough.  The rest...can simply be a mystery until it isn't.   

    Reading this, you might as yourself why I feel equipped to write a Bible study called, "The Glory Road," and the answer to that is simple,  I don’t and I’m not.  In my own strength, what I'm attempting here would not be possible.
    So thank you Lord that you already know this. Thank you that you know my heart and will supply everything I need to walk this out beside you.  I will need mercy, grace and patience so I praise you for giving them all to me in abundance with the greatest of love. May, "The Glory Road." be my praise.

         And the angels cry…“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Rev. 4:8




    

Just pick it up already...

      "You're ready for this." He tells me. "I've been preparing you for a long time."
     "But I'm scared." There. I said it. I want to shout with joy, and keep it a secret. I was full of excitement and flooded with fear.  
     The very idea of someone like me trying to paint the creation of God was beyond crazy. So I do nothing. I just wait. I wait and I pray. 
     As I do, God begins to remind me of the unique way I had been created. As far back as I can remember, I have known him through the glory of creation. "This is why I chose you for this,"  and I remember box turtles, fat bumpy croaking toads, and caterpillars of childhood.  Oklahoma thunderstorms and juicy plump tomato worms with long curved thorns. I remember Jude Paul's miracle blackberry bush, the coming and going of the Sierra mountain sun, and the cloudy summer days of my youth. 
    I know the deep joy and laughter of Grandsons and I had a moment of deep connection as I looked into the huge glassy eye of a Mother humpback whale. 
     "You see me everywhere," God said, and I knew it was true.
     So I stand here in faith with my feet on the, "Glory Road", because God has put them here. I will stop walking by the table and pick up the paint brush.  
     I will paint.
    I will. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It is Mother's Day...and I know love.

    I spend the morning alone unpacking suitcases, sorting laundry, and mopping dirty floors. I do it with praise and know I am blessed.  After back to back weeks of travel and a workweek ahead, this is my time.
    I load the wash and remember Reed, not yet one, standing in the laundry room sink beside me.  I clean the toilet in the guest bath, see myself on the floor beside Jude, and remember all the bathrooms I've sat beside toilets in while babies learned to potty.
     I turn corners, go up stairs, and everywhere are marks and memories.  Every knock and fingerprint, and mouth smudge hold a story. I vacuum as the living room fills with a brother and sisters, grandsons, nieces, nephews and puppies.  On the glass porch door I see Onyx's lick marks and picture Paul curled in a Tug Chase pile by the fire. Our Michael hangs from the ceiling beam.
     A chest in the office is covered with marked up Bibles and studies that still make me weep and I know God.
     I paused today on the stair my Mother fell to when we got the call her baby brother Bill, had died, and I can hear her cry out.
    I add tea bags to a pot for my Kombucha and see Gus sitting at the window crying for Garrett. But now it is Cali who sits and cries.
     I see Chandler dance across the kitchen floor and sing with a smile as big as the sun and I stand at the sink and know her heartache. I remember the words she spoke to me in this very spot and how the truth of them made me weep uncontrollably.
    Outside in the yard I see weddings, celebrations, tables, flowers, families, children, and I hear worship, laughter, prayer and praise.
    I smell ReAnnon's cooking and see her nursing baby boys from almost every room as Paul passes by windows on his tractor. We grieve babies that were lost and yet life goes on and still Paul passes by the windows on his tractor.
    A back porch holds a daughters heart and the songs of a Mamo and three baby boys.
    Under the stairs is a tiny room with pillows and books and broken horses.
    Outside is a sanctuary. A garden gift of miracles. A meeting place where I listen and pray and know.
    Praise, tears, death and life.
    It is Mothers Day and I know God and I know love.