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The N to the B to the F to the J.C. Word

I hate the N word.  The rage it contains, regardless of who says it or how it’s spoken, pierces my heart and make me want to throw up!  It is aimed to hurl hurt, harm, and ridicule.  Its intent is to make someone feel like less of a person than others.

And yet, Jesus said that if we call someone, “You Fool!” we are guilty of murder in our heart.   Fool?  Really?

“Fool” seems so tame compared with the variety of awful words we call each other, or even ourselves.  But that’s because Jesus, always, always aimed for the heart.

“For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

He knew if it wasn’t “Fool” it would be something else. It could be the N word, or the b word, or a whole collection of words connected with the F word somewhere or how.  There are so many creative ways to call someone a Fool.  How scary and dark the caverns where we mine words to tear down another person.

James, the brother of Jesus, shared this dilemma and disgust in his letter:

“…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be!”  James 3:8-11

It should not be!

And that’s not all.

                                               Jesus Christ.

How did you read that?  If I put an exclamation point after it, would it change the meaning?

Jesus Christ is the name of my Lord and Saviour, God’s precious Son, the only mediator between God and man, my Creator, Beloved redeemer, the one in whom I place all my hopes and fears, and very life.

Yet, JC is written into movie and television scripts with the same frequency as the f or gd or the b word.  And even if someone doesn’t believe he was God or “all that,” why do they yell his name when their finger gets slammed in the car door?

Jesus Christ is daily mocked through the slanderous use of his name.  So how does He feel about that? Is he surprised?

Not really.  Nothing surprises Him, especially not our sordid behavior or our ridiculous, slanderous words.  In fact, the Psalmist actually predicted it ages ago:

“When I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. Those who sit at the gate mock me, and I am the song of the drunkards.” Psalm 69: 12

So Jesus knew his name would be used maliciously.  But it doesn’t change who He is.

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth”  Philippians 2:9-10

While for some, his name is a curse word on their lips, for others—for me—Jesus is the name above all names.   And someday, no matter how we say it now, we will all bow in hushed reverence at His name.

~~~

Back to the heart.

Is JC a mockery word for you?   If he was just a man, why His name?

Emotions, words, actions.   Where will our words take us?  What do they say about us?

~~~

Parting thoughts from Jesus Christ himself:

“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”  Matthew 12:35-37

Jesus-name-above-all-names

Forty years and a lifetime ago…

“No,” I said apologetically, “I wasn’t at Woodstock.”

My girls seemed disappointed that I didn’t take part in the iconic festival of my day.  And I felt a tinge of regret, too, because it seemed I missed out on a major identification point with my generation.

But God did one better.  He sent me to a festival of eternal proportions.

Explo ’72

Exactly 40 years ago today, as 80,000 candlelights flickered across the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas, the Lord filled my heart with His light.  “It only takes a spark….”

Candles across the Crowd

What an awesome week!! Just six days after my high school graduation, the Lord set favourable boundaries around my future, by sealing my will in His.  And that one day made all the difference in the next forty years, and eternity, for me.

The days before that amazing night were filled with seminars, street evangelism, and some exceedingly convicting teaching on sex and purity by Josh McDowell.  And then there was the music–Johnny Cash, Larry Norman, Love Song, Andre Crouch and the Disciples, Randy Matthews, Children of the Day, and many others!  The evenings were filled with a call to follow Jesus.  On June 15th, candles were distributed to a Bowl full of young people, while Dr. Billy Graham spoke:

“I am asking you to light a candle…and we will start a spiritual fire here tonight that could sweep the world.”

The entire stadium glowed with candlelight.  We can’t really know, and only eternity will be able to reveal how much the world may have been affected by that evening.  But I know this…I changed.   It was the culmination of a mother’s prayers and the beginning of a new life in Christ.

As much as that one day changed the course of my life, it cannot be isolated from everything that took place prior to that time.  My earliest memories are of my mom reading the Bible to me every night before bedtime.  She also made me watch every single Billy Graham Crusade, go to church, Sunday School, and behind the scenes, prayed for me daily!

And, as anyone knows who has read about Moses’ forty years in the wilderness, Israel’s forty years of wandering in the desert, or David’s forty year reign, there was much more that needed to be worked out in my life after my initial surrender to the Lord–much more!

For the first several months following that momentous day, I probably sinned more than I did in the 17 years prior!!  What a wreck, as I grappled to hold onto my will, my desires, and the future I thought I wanted for myself!  A rigorous tug-of-war raged in my mind and almost took away all God had in store for me.

But, God’s grace is greater.  He had new mercies waiting for me every morning.  He guided me through decisions, 36 years of marriage, raising children, homeschooling, serving  20 years in the military, and too many other things to recount here.  He has been, is, and always will be, FAITHFUL.  That is my favourite characteristic of God!  I can truly sing with the heavenly host, Great is Thy Faithfulness!!

That day and the thousands since, constantly reveal His love to me, over and over and over again, through the Cross of Jesus, the Word of God, and the gentle wooing of His Holy Spirit.  There is no other place I would rather be than in Him.

I feel blessed and privileged to have been part of something much deeper and greater than Woodstock.   Explo 72 was a place in time where God stepped in and turned a remnant of young people to Him; He ignited a generation to serve Him around the world, and stirred up wave upon wave of new music and praise to glorify His name among the Nations!

I used to tell my daughters that sometimes a very simple decision could potentially be a life-changer.  Reaching out to the “new kid” at school, deciding NOT to go a party, or choosing TO go somewhere else..taking the road a little less travelled.

My life changed in 1972 when I decided to join our youth group on their journey to Dallas, Texas.

Yeah, Woodstock made quite an impact on my generation.

But Explo 72 changed us for eternity.

Life Magazine wrote about it.

And there was even a little book about it.

But in case you haven’t heard of Explo 72, you can read what Wiki says about it HERE!

It would take a book and a village to write about my forty year journey with the Lord.  Suffice it to say,

“Whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:7-11, 14

Here’s a few YouTube videos created from The Jesus Explosion record album (yes, the vinyl product) recorded Live at Explo 72.

Randy Matthews:  Didn’t He

Larry Norman: Sweet, Sweet Song of Salvation

Johnny Cash:  I See Men as Trees Walkin

~~

What decision is God asking of you today that might make the difference of a lifetime for you–or someone else?

A Time for Everything

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Eccl. 3:1

After several months of intense activity and 2500 more miles on Trustee Toyota,  we arrived back at The Hollow and I aggresively set out to tackle a personal to-do list; as one can imagine, The Hollow is ever in want of care and upkeep.

The Hollow

We inherited a lovely herb garden when we bought our home 6 years ago. It is often a source of blessing, and less frequently, a curse.  Loads of herbs, fragrances, and enjoyment; but not without regular weeding and transplanting, and battling with the lemon balm which always wants to take over.

The Herb Garden

But today the Lord let me learn and enjoy a little blessing from it.  He gave me Rest.

Rosemary Clippings

These cuttings were leftover from the day I did the dirty, weeding and pruning work.

But the restful part was bundling them up.  Why?

Because, what else can one do while sorting through little sprigs, tossing the bad ones, gathering 12-15 fresh ones together, cutting twine just so, and tying the twine around each little bundles?  Not much, but…

Listen.

I listened to worship music, the birds singing, hummingbirds at our feeders, and other buzzing things.  And I listened to the Holy Spirit, reminding me how much more important my relationship is with Him, than being busy.

Rosemary sprigs, all cozy in the basket

All in all, it was a pretty productive day.

“This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength….” Isaiah 30:15 NIV

“God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”  Eccl. 3:11 (NLT)

[Little disclaimer–these photos aren’t from John’s talented eye; instead, my eye and little HTC cellphone are the culprits.]

Retweeting Easter’s Message

If the church would put the same intensity, prayer, outreach & vision they do into Easter Sunday every week, what a force it would be.

~ Jon Tyson  Pastor, Trinity Grace Church, NY

Facebook, Twitter, and the internet was saturated with the Gospel message yesterday!!   God’s Word was being proclaimed across every conceivable pathway or route.  Shouts of

HE IS RISEN!

were rolling out non-stop, crossing boundaries and perhaps, firewalls, bringing the good news of the resurrection and redemption into dark nations and hearts.

Below reflects a two-hour window from “friends” and “followers”, covering everything from personal Easter greeetings and wishes, to Scriptures, hymns, and weighty quotes:

Tweets and Stats:

So thankful that He is Risen!

Easter Sunday the day that Jesus rose from the dead, looked Satan in the eyes and said, “Game over!”

Beyond the shadow of a doubt..

My king, has risen!

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen indeed!

“Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!” – St. Chrysostom

Death swallowed Christ and Christ destroyed it from the inside out.

There is NOTHING foolish about The Cross, or what happened on The Cross

Oh the depth of His love – that He would send His only Son to pay the penalty for the sins of you and me!

Lives again our glorious King, Where O death is now thy sting? Dying once He all doth save, Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Creator. Healer. Beginning and End. Prince of Peace. Living Water. Lamb of God. Wonderful. Counselor. Rock and Salvation. Redeemer. Friend. Holy One. Comforter. Defender. Word of Life. Faithful and True.

Jesus. He is Risen.

Empty Tomb! He is risen…happy Easter everyone.

Let no one caught in sin remain inside the lie of inward shame! Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death! Come awake! Come awake! Come and rise up from the grave!

Forgiveness was provided because of the cross by a loving God who never had to compromise spiritually, go corrupt, blind, or lower His stand.

Easter is not the “happy ending” after Jesus’ death. It is the happy beginning of God’s new creation!

Christ the Lord is Risen — today and eternally. May Christ’s church resound with this message this Lord’s Day,

Christ is risen! “He’s alive and I’m forgiven. Heaven’s gates are open wide. He’s alive!” – Don Francisco

Ok kids, brace yourself…There’s NO such thing as an Easter bunny (same thing goes for Santa)…I just thought you should know…:) – HAPPY EASTER ALL…HE IS RISEN…

He is Risen! Living he loves us, dying he saved us, rising he justified our salvation! Happy Easter! Give glory to GOD……..not the bunny! The bunny does nothing except poop in my yard!

Scriptures and Quotes:

On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realised the new wonder; but even they hardly realised that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.” – G.K. Chesterton

But sometime before dawn on a Sunday morning, a spike-torn hand twitched. A blood-crusted eyelid opened. The breath of God came blowing into that cave, and a new creation flashed into reality…. Russel D. Moore, author.

I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. John 17:14-19 NKJV

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.  Romans 5:10 ESV

Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when He comes back. -1 Corinthians 15:23

They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. -Hebrews 11:35

Jesus was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness. Rom 1:4

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!” Mark 16:4-6

Tunes and Lyrics:

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future
… And life is worth the living just because He lives.

Love crucified arose
And the grave became a place of hope
For the heart that sin and sorrow broke
Is beating once again
Woke up singing:
Love crucified arose
The risen One in splendor
Jehovah’s sole defender
Has won the victory

“Lord You know just how far the east is from the west
I don’t have to see the man I’ve been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other”

Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!
And my song shall ever be:
Oh, how marvelous! Oh, how wonderful!
Is my Savior’s love for me

Living He loved me! Dying He saved me! Buried He carried my sins far away! Rising He justified freely forever! One day He’s coming! Oh Glorious Day! Oh Glorious Day!

~~And YouTube vids of Natalie Grant, Matt Maher, Hillsong, and Casting Crowns!

~~~

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 

Matthew 5:16

~~~

Let your light shine Believers! Not just on Easter, but Everyday!  Keep your lamps lit, watch and pray,

and let your very

LIFE,

not just your internet status,

share the Light and Aroma of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Too Busy Being Me

Amidst this sad consciousness of imperfection, here is comfort for you–you are “perfect in Christ Jesus.”  ~ Spurgeon

I am so imperfect.  And quite the imperfect blogger.  I’ve been terribly sporadic this year!  So, thought it time to lay out all my excuses and explain why I’ve been less-than-regular with writing and encouragement.

My husband has often says of himself, “It’s a full-time job just being me.”

And so with Linda….I’ve been too busy being me.

Being me, as any beloved child, is about partaking in God’s daily discipline and grace.  Discipline, because I need it so much, and truly deserve it.  Grace, well, because I need it so much, and don’t deserve it.

And being me has felt a bit like Bilbo Baggins, who said he felt “thin, sort of stretched, like butter, scraped over too much bread.”

Stretched, but content…

.

~~Living in Ottawa, but preparing to leave for our “other” home, building on relationships while facing goodbyes, being served by the very people I seek to serve, tutoring and plugging along with my degree, surprisingly chosen for the “novel” task of ghostwriting,  and most recently, selected to be a contributing author for Regent University’s new blog.

~~A grateful wife of 36 years to a lovely, deep man, with an oft broken, contrite, yet humorous spirit!

~~Always a mom, though my daughters are grown and don’t live anywhere nearby.   But I’m a mom, and thankfully, ever will be!

~~A grandma to two precious little ones, with another on the way!  When I’m with them, I can’t imagine being away.  And when I’m away→→I skype!!

.

~~An only, beloved child to my sweet mom, and this year, planning her 80th birthday celebration and reunion! How priceless is that?!

Being me may keep me from blogging regularly, but may it never keep me from daily seeking the Lord, leaning on and learning of His unfailing love and surpassing mercy.

I just pray that me being me won’t get in the way of

Him being Him,

in me,

for

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

~~~

Maybe you could share how you maintain blogging and other responsibilities, while still being you?

On gratefulness…

“Happiness is not getting what we want, but being grateful for what we have.” 

This quote from a random British TV show we were watching one evening really stuck with me.  We always seem to want more, without being grateful for what we already have.  Millions have been spent in research to find out what the “perfect” monthly wage is that would make everyone happy.  The answer across the board:

More.

So, happiness is elusive.  But gratitude is not.

In fact, gratitude is God’s will!  Are you fasting, praying, desperately searching to know God’s will for you life?  How about this:

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.   I Thess. 5:16-18

Giving Thanks Together

The following poem from The Valley of Vision expresses a heart full of gratitude and one after God’s will:
~~~

O My Lord

You, fairest, greatest, first of all object,

My heart admires, adores, loves you,

For my little vessel is as full as it can be,

And I would pour out all that fullness before you in ceaseless flow.

When I think upon and converse with you

Ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,

Ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,

Ten thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart.

Crowding into every moment of happiness.

I bless You for the soul you have created,

for adorning it, sanctifying it,

though it is fixed in barren soil;

for the body you have given me,

for preserving its strength and vigour,

for providing senses to enjoy delights,

for the ease and freedom of my limbs,

for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;

for your royal bounty providing my daily support,

for a full table and overflowing cup

for appetite, taste, sweetness

for social joys of relatives and friends,

for ability to serve others,

for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,

for a mind to care for my fellow-men

for opportunities of spreading happiness around

for loved ones in the joys of heaven,

for my own expectation of seeing you clearly.

I love you above the powers of language to express, for what you are to your creatures.

Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.