Thursday, June 30, 2011

Getting along

Sometimes I really don't feel like loving my neighbor to be honest.  I remember a Sunday morning I woke up grumpy.  My hair was doing some strange things and I was running late.  We drove to Church and got there just in time.  My husband likes to sit us near the front.  So, I was on the end.  I listened to the announcements and the prayer halfheartedly.  Then we started to sing.  My spirits started to lift.  I could feel the Holy Spirit as we worshiped God in song.  Evidently the only open seats were next to us, so the ushers brought a couple and signaled us to move over.  Ugh!  I had to stop worshiping... grumble, grumble.  I drew a cartoon on the Church bulletin to snap out of it.  Then I noticed the lady next to me was searching through her Bible and couldn't find where the Pastor was reading.  So I shared mine.  Sometimes God has other ideas for me in Church than what I want to do.  To love my neighbor.

Since we are all going to spend eternity together, I suppose we should get along.  Everyone has a favorite way to worship, and preferred version of the Bible, we all have Jesus in common.  

I love this Psalm's simplicity and the description of us. 

Psalm 133

I'm wonderful and beautiful when I focus on the Lord and don't put my desires first, just accept others.  It's when I get picky, I get ugly. 
1 How wonderful, how beautiful,
when brothers and sisters get along!

Getting along is like:
2 It's like costly anointing oil
flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron's beard,
flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
3 It's like the dew on Mount Hermon
flowing down the slopes of Zion.

Here's the pretty exciting reward for us when we do.
Yes, that's where God commands the blessing,
ordains eternal life.

I've heard it said, "You don't have to like everyone, but you do need to love them." 

That reminds me of the love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), being patient, kind, not envious, showing off, conceited or boastful.  Love isn't rude, selfish, touchy, or thinking evil. Love rejoices in truth, bears, believes, hopes, and endures all things. With the Lord's help I can do this.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

I was out shooting Ocean Grove, NJ, when I saw this door. I imagined the angels lining up to sing around God's throne.  I had to smile.  When we sing to God, He hears us and is very pleased.  Simple things mean so much to Him. In the New Jerusalem, we'll be singing in His very presence.  It gives me tingles to think of it : )  

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

There's more photos of Ocean Grove on my photo blog, if you'd like to see them.  It's actually a Christian area on the Jersey Shore.  I wrote up the story.

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Jerusalem

Here's the description of the New Jerusalem in the book of Revelation.  This is the vision recorded by the Apostle John.  There is a lot of symbolism in the book- it's called, "apocalyptic" or prophetic literature.   Last year I read through Revelation. I really enjoyed it.  But I recommend a good handbook for some of the symbols.  The description of the New Jerusalem is pretty straight forward.

Revelation 21

The reference to bride symbolizes purity, cleanliness.  The first temple was made by man for God to dwell in, the new Jerusalem will be made by God for man to dwell with Him.  Permanent!
1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 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. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away."

Don't know about you, but I think we could all use a new place.  A place we can't mess up or sin in.
5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And He said to me, "Write, for these words are true and faithful."

Remember the apple?  I know it was Eve that took the first bite.  We will receive freely in the new Jerusalem if we thirst for God.  For those who don't... the lake of fire.
6 And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."

In previous chapters of Revelation, John saw seven angels with plagues to be spread on the earth.
9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb's wife."  10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. 12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

There's a few things I can't draw as an artist, God and the New Jerusalem.  I simply couldn't do them justice.  But I was intrigued by the colors of the gems so I looked them up.  Jasper is brick red, gold will be like clear glass, sapphire is dark blue, chalcedony has various colors, emerald is deep green, sardonyx is white and brown, sardius is dark orange brown, crysolite is yellowish brown, beryl is deep red, topaz can have several variations, chrysoprase is apple green, jacinth is orange, and amethyst is purple.  It sounds beautiful! 
Here's a very rough draft of the colors.  I changed the opacity so it
it would look a bit translucent.  Just wanted to have an idea.
Also my color choices may be a bit off : )
In other words- God's will be awesome!
14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15 And he who talked with me had a gold reed to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. 16 The city is laid out as a square; its length is as great as its breadth. And he measured the city with the reed: twelve thousand furlongs. Its length, breadth, and height are equal. 17 Then he measured its wall: one hundred and forty-four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18 The construction of its wall was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. 19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.

This is so cool.  The glory of God will illuminate the city, there won't be a need for the sun and moon.  No night time.  I'm not sure if this means there won't be a moon or sun anymore, or if they will be there just not as important.  One of those things we'll find out in the New Jerusalem.
22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.  25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.  27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

In the beginning of Revelation, letters were written to seven Churches.  They are like a report card from Jesus, letting them know how they're doing.  Seven is the Heavenly number where six is the number of the beast.  I wanted to include this letter because this is the Church that did the best out of the 7.  Sadly, it's not the Philadelphia next to New Jersey...  It describes what God requires to enter the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 3:7-13

7 "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write,

'These things says He who is holy, He who is true, "He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens":  8 "I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name

As an American Christian (Gentile) I often forget the first Churches were Jews who accepted Jesus as their Savior, their Messiah.  All those folks Jesus talked to and believed in Him were Jewish. I haven't been around many Jews for Jesus.  The paintings I studied in school, show Jesus as a white man with blonde hair.  But He was born through the Jews- the Son of Man was of the lineage of David.  I also forget I'm a Gentile, praise God for Paul's missionary journeys (he set out to convert us- err our ancestors)!  What comes to mind is how much bigger the Church really is than I imagine, it crosses through all time since the beginning, all nations, all races...  New Jersey has all the world religions and races.  People who claim to be Jews but aren't sounds like those who don't worship God yet claim the title, I may be wrong on that.  But this is the first and greatest commandment:
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5 NKJV

9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.

13 "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."'

Matthew 23:37-39
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;  39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

We must keep the faith.  Awesome things are in store for all of us who believe in Jesus!
Revelation 16:15
15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches..."

Still praying for peace in Jerusalem.  There's a much bigger picture than I often realize.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Temple beginnings

This Psalm describes the early days of the temple, David's dreams for providing a beautiful place for God to dwell among man.  The pilgrims were so excited traveling to Jerusalem, remembering how it all began!

Psalm 132

David had many afflictions.  Deepest pits of despair and the highest heights of praise.  He was always at war. 
1 Lord, remember David
And all his afflictions; 
2 How he swore to the Lord,
And vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob: 
3 "Surely I will not go into the chamber of my house,
Or go up to the comfort of my bed
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes
Or slumber to my eyelids
5 Until I find a place for the Lord,
A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob."

David was described as "a man after God's own heart."  (1 Samuel 13:14)  People must have known about David's dream of a Temple for God.   There were no TV's during this time period, stories were spread by word of mouth.  Then one day it was ready.  They heard about it from all over Israel.  Imagine the excitement!  The Ark of the Covenant would have an honored place.  There was such hope for Israel, the priests would be there.
6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
We found it in the fields of the woods
7 Let us go into His tabernacle;
Let us worship at His footstool
8 Arise, O Lord, to Your resting place,
You and the ark of Your strength
9 Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness,
And let Your saints shout for joy.

The people honored David.  Even in memory, he is their beloved King. God loved him more.
10 For Your servant David's sake,
Do not turn away the face of Your Anointed.
11 The Lord has sworn in truth to David;
He will not turn from it:
"I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body
12 If your sons will keep My covenant
And My testimony which I shall teach them,
Their sons also shall sit upon your throne forevermore."
David's son, "Solomon," sinned.  He wound up marrying 700 wives and had 300 concubines.  His heart was no longer devoted to God but became open to other gods.  The gods of his wives.   Soon after, Israel was split into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel.  They were taken captive by Assyria and Babylonia.

Zion refers to a hill in Israel- it's where the city of David was built.  Later the region was expanded to include the location of the Temple.
13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place
14 "This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it
15 I will abundantly bless her provision;
I will satisfy her poor with bread
16 I will also clothe her priests with salvation,
And her saints shall shout aloud for joy
17 There I will make the horn of David grow;
I will prepare a lamp for My Anointed
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
But upon Himself His crown shall flourish."

Over time things changed.  God couldn't be present in the temple anymore.  With all of our strengths and creativity as humans- we just can't keep ourselves out of sin.  But God still loves us, His creation.  He never gave up.  A prophecy came through Isaiah.
Isaiah 9:7
7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

Jesus came.  What He found wasn't good.  Jerusalem had fallen spiritually.  Soon it would fall literally.
Matt 23:37-39
37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;  39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

When Jesus and the disciples  left Jerusalem, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple.  In 70 AD, the Romans completely destroyed it- animal sacrifices by the Jewish people stopped.

Matt 24:1-2
24 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down."

This looks like the best place to look at the New Jerusalem.  In my next post, I'll take a look at it.  I'm excited!  This verse was written after Jesus' resurrection.
Revelation 22:16
16 "I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quiet heart

Psalm 131:2
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This is kind of a fun Psalm.  Another one to be sung on the way to festivals in Jerusalem. 

Psalm 131

It starts out by the author insisting he isn't trying to take over God's plan, or take His place.  There are times I get a bit pushy with my ideas with Him.  But soon humility sets in, "Oh!  You already know this.  You're God!"  That's when my prayers start bringing peace and wisdom.  Whenever someone approaches me with, "Now you're the expert, but..."  I get ready to run!  Wonder how God feels...  I imagine a giant, tap... tap... tap...
1 God, I'm not trying to rule the roost,
I don't want to be king of the mountain.
I haven't meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.

I love this verse.  The next one speaks about waiting in hope.  That's how I feel today.  Keep the hope alive while I wait, don't give up.  Corel Painter is becoming more of a friend than a frustration everyday.  Maybe one day I'll be able to write and illustrate children's books like I've always dreamed.  Still working on my photography as well.  After yesterday, today my heart is quiet.
2 I've kept my feet on the ground,
I've cultivated a quiet heart.
Like a baby content in its mother's arms,
my soul is a baby content.

3 Wait, Israel, for God. Wait with hope.
Hope now; hope always!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

When God forgives, it's done.  He remembers
our sins no more, it's as far as the east is from the west.
Once we confess and repent, all's forgotten.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This verse was especially meaningful to me today.  My husband is ok!  He called this morning to let me know he was in a car accident.  Our car is totaled.  The good news is that he and the other driver are both fine.  I went and got him and took him to Starbucks to help him relax.  Now comes the insurance, the traffic ticket, court, who's to blame?  How much will we get through insurance?  I am so grateful that God forgives.  No fault finding, just me and Him. I confess.  He forgives... that simple.  He will supply our needs, He always has.  It's not the end of the world.  I'm grateful for insurance too, His is the best though.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

Monday, June 20, 2011

My soul waits

This is another Psalm sung on the way to Jerusalem.  They are called "Pilgrim Psalms," or "A Song of Ascents."  It just seems right that once we finish them (Psalm 134), I should take a look at the New Jerusalem.  The Jerusalem all of us are heading toward, everyone who accepts Jesus' sacrifice.  

Psalm 130

It's interesting that this is the Psalm following 129, the one that got ugly.  This one is full of humility and focus on the Lord.  It's really beautiful.  It reminds me of those times at Church when a discussion gets out of hand, and a mature Christian steps in with words of peace.  Everyone sits in silence, some wish they'd said it and others want to learn more.
1 Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord;
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

This is so true, if He didn't forgive, none of us would be alive.  We've all sinned and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23).
3 If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

Waiting is so hard to do!  I like the way the Psalm says that "my soul waits."  If my soul waits, it doesn't mean I should sit and do nothing.  It means my heart is patient and calm, waiting.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
6 My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

God has not forgotten Israel.  There are some great surprises in store for them in the New Jerusalem, and us too!  Here's one from Revelation:

Revelation 21:12
12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel...

7 O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
8 And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day card

Happy Father's Day to our Heavenly Father!  Thought I'd write Him a card...

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love suffers long and is kind; 
love does not envy; 
love does not parade itself, 
is not puffed up; 
5 does not behave rudely, 
does not seek its own, 
is not provoked, 
thinks no evil; 
6 does not rejoice in iniquity, 
but rejoices in the truth; 
7 bears all things, 
believes all things, 
hopes all things, 
endures all things.
8 Love never fails.

1 John 4:16

God is love...

Dear Heavenly Father You are awesome!  You have been so patient with me as I try and understand You, and Your Word.  You have allowed me to try new things, fail, and learn.  I am so glad You let me fall and then lift me up higher than before.  You aren't selfish, You never give up on me.  Even though I'd like to give up on myself.  You actually believe in me, as I seek to believe in You.  There's nothing I could give You that You don't already have.  So today I give You my love.  Happy Father's Day Father!

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Friday, June 17, 2011


This is one of those hard Psalms to write about.  I read it in The Message and thought, that can't be right, so I read it in New King James Version, and it's pretty much the same.  So I read it in a few other versions of the Bible... same.  So, I looked it up in a Bible Handbook thinking there's probably a hidden meaning.  It said, "This is inexcusable." So.  Here we are.  

I designed a way to warn people when things get ugly in a Bible Study. : )
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

We're still reading through the Psalms sung on the way to Jerusalem.   After reading such a nice Psalm yesterday, this is much different.  The Bible contains the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I think that's why I love it so much- it's honest.  The people are real.  I can relate to some of these feelings.

Psalm 129

Israel has definitely had more than their share of troubles!  But one thing I must admit is they don't stay down.  They are survivors.
Psalms 129:1-3
"Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,"
Let Israel now say —
2 "Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed on my back;
They made their furrows long."

This sounds painful.  Yikes!  But the author praises God for cutting the cords of the wicked.  The plowmen are gone.  Some of our jobs today sound like this.  We're stuck financially in a situation that takes everything we have just to work and be professional. 
4 The Lord is righteous;
He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.

Here's where it gets ugly...  Essentially, they are saying that now that they are free.  May their enemies be put to shame, let them die before they grow up.  Let them go without food and income and may the Lord's blessing never fall on them.  Ouch!
5 Let all those who hate Zion
Be put to shame and turned back.
6 Let them be as the grass on the housetops,
Which withers before it grows up,

7 With which the reaper does not fill his hand,
Nor he who binds sheaves, his arms.
8 Neither let those who pass by them say,
"The blessing of the Lord be upon you;
We bless you in the name of the Lord!"

What comes to my mind is I have 3 choices in responding to this:
1.  Wow!  I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this way.
2.  I would never say such a thing!
3.  Go get em guys!

I chose number 1, because it's honest.  I don't always think the nicest thoughts toward others.  And I have a verse for those occasions, when I feel guilty.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
The best way to travel through this life and be a survivor, is without the bitterness of anger.  I know from experience.  Feel free to share your reactions too.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fear of the Lord

When my husband and I first got married, there were all sorts of adjustments.  One was that he had a hard time getting up in the morning.  And I always got the long commuting jobs that required I get up early.  I would try everything to wake him up, shaking him, yelling at him...  What worked best was the squirt gun.  If I sprayed him in the face he'd jump out of bed!  Then he started asking me to squirt him so he could get out of bed.  There was just one problem, he didn't wake up very happy when I did this.  And this led to an unhappy heart in our home.  Since I've been working at home, I thought I'd try telling him I love him and kissing his forehead to wake him up.  What a huge difference that made!  Even the cats are happier.

Psalm 128

I think the "fear of the Lord" means to have a healthy respect and awe of God, to be humble before Him.  It's like approaching a tiger and saying, "Nice kitty," then patting his head.  Not a great idea.  God is superior to us. He is not going to eat us alive, but we do need to remember who He is, "The Almighty."  Then praise and love Him, walking in His ways.  Amazing how He wants us to draw near, isn't it?
1 Blessed is every one who fears the Lord,
Who walks in His ways.

In Acts, the early Church walked in the fear of the Lord, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  They respected and honored Him, obeying His teachings.
Acts 9:31
31 Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

It does feel really good to earn your own way.  To work with my hands.  I love creating things, it's an awesome feeling to step back from something and realize- "Hey that looks pretty good."  And, well there's the other stuff but practice, practice, practice.  And I have a little praise, I was able to earn some money from a portrait shoot recently.  I'm trusting the Lord to guide me on.
2 When you eat the labor of your hands,
You shall be happy, and it shall be well with you.

As a wife, I'm happier when he's happy.  It's the same for him.  If he messes up, I tell him!  If I mess up, he's quite honest.  The heart of the house reflects both the husband and wife's faith, humbleness and attitude.  And this affects the children, or cats in our case.  The ability to have a peaceful happy home is a gift from God, a blessing.  We can't do it alone.
3 Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
In the very heart of your house,
Your children like olive plants
All around your table.
4 Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
Who fears the Lord.

5 The Lord bless you out of Zion,
And may you see the good of Jerusalem
All the days of your life.

And for those with grandkids, how wonderful!
6 Yes, may you see your children's children.

Peace be upon Israel!

We had a great praise happen in the Prayer Forum.  A woman came out who was unemployed (lots these days).  She requested prayer for a job and money to pay her bills.  Time was running out, she got an eviction notice, and she wrote, "God won't help me! I asked and He refuses."  I tried to tactfully tell her she needs to be humble before Him and prayed for a miracle.  She came back yesterday and said she prayed, "God I give up.  I surrender everything to You.  If You want me to have nothing- take it all." She got 2 jobs!  God is so amazing!  The fear of the Lord, surrender, letting Him guide our steps, is what He requires.  I'm waiting and working for my miracle too, grateful for all He's provided.  So many times when I was working contract, He'd provide our needs just in the nick of time!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A bit of wisdom

This morning I woke up and the sky was blue!  The air was cool, and it was a perfect day to go shoot Ocean Grove.  So, I dropped everything and headed to the shore.  Ocean Grove is a Christian beach along the Jersey shore.  I'll be posting some photos and more of the story in my photo blog. 

While I was at Ocean Grove, I remembered our Church, "Cornerstone Calvary Chapel," is participating in Bridgefest (link) next week, on the 24th and the 25th.  If you are near New Jersey, it's a lot of fun.  There will be a big Christian Contemporary concert Friday night.  On Saturday, there will be speakers, surfing lessons, baptisms in the ocean and more. Even my Pastor will be speaking (along with many others).  My apologies, I didn't think about putting this out until today. It's not to late to sign up if you're interested.  My husband and I have been looking forward to it.

Anyway, back to the Psalms... This Psalm was written by Solomon, David's son.  It reminds me a lot of Proverbs, one of the wisdom books.  Solomon wrote many chapters of Proverbs.  In 1 Kings 3:7-14, after Solomon became King, God asked him what he wanted.  Solomon asked for wisdom so he could rule justly.  This pleased God very much, so he added wealth, power and honor as well.  There is a lot of wisdom in this Psalm.

Psalms 127

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.

This reminds me of what Jesus said:
Matthew 7:24-27
24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:  25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:  27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."
Unless my faith is built on the foundation of Jesus' teachings, when life's storms come at me, I sink miserably in the sand.  Trust me, He's had to dig me out a few times...

2 It is vain for you to rise up early,
To sit up late,
To eat the bread of sorrows;
For so He gives His beloved sleep.

It was easier for me to understand this verse in the Message:
Psalms 127:2
2 It's useless to rise early and go to bed late,
and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don't you know he enjoys
giving rest to those he loves?
I need to make sure I enter into His rest.  Sometimes when I get worried, I sit back in my recliner, close my eyes, and repeat Jesus' Name.  I always find peace and calm.

Children are a gift from the Lord.  Here's a bit of encouragement for all those parents who have worked so hard.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
5 Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.

Monday, June 13, 2011

After the Exodus

This is another Psalm that is full of hope and healing. It's also one that if I marked my favorite verses. I would mark all of them. It was sung on the way to Jerusalem. I long to see Israel rejoice like this again!

Errr like the Psalm, not exactly like this... but sorta : )
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This Psalm describes the happiness on the other side of the Exodus out of Egypt. Sometimes life is confusing and seems impossible. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, wondering if there was an end. Each step seemed unending, unnecessary and impossible. That's how faith is.
Hebrews 11:1
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

And, here is the result of their great faith:

Psalms 126

1 It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion's exiles.
2 We laughed, we sang,
we couldn't believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations —
"God was wonderful to them!"
3 God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.

4 And now, God, do it again —
bring rains to our drought-stricken lives

Verse 5 in the New King James Version is one of my favorite verses. God has some special things in store for those of us who believe and overcome.
5 Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.

5 So those who planted their crops in despair
will shout hurrahs at the harvest,
6 So those who went off with heavy hearts
will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

Here's the story of Moses from the New Testament "Great Hall of Faith," Hebrews, Chapter 11. I doubt Moses realized the full impact of what he was doing at the time.

Hebrews 11:23-29

23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.

24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.

None of us know how our little acts and work for the Lord affect the larger picture of God's plan. Ministry can be very difficult at times, making us weary. As much as we want to help others, we run out of strength. And Jesus said,
Matt 11:28-30
28 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

God has been teaching me how to not carry the world's burdens, it's too heavy. But to take up His yoke and His burden instead. You can imagine my delight when my Pastor spoke about this yesterday. Jesus is the Savior, I'm just a servant.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Psalms 122:6 still comes to mind, "Pray for Jerusalem's peace!"  So I will continue to pray for peace in Jerusalem, feel free to join me if you like. 

Mt. Zion in Israel is a huge source of history.  It's the site of King David's tomb, the Upper Room where Jesus appeared to the disciples, the original site of the City of David- the actual location however is under debate.  I found some photos, Mt. Zion (link).  This is another of the songs they used to sing in pilgrimages to Jerusalem.

Psalms 125

Trusting in the Lord makes us like mountains that can't be moved and abides forever.  I love how the Lord surrounds His people.  Everywhere I go He is there.  Good to remember that!

1 Those who trust in the Lord
Are like Mount Zion,
Which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So the Lord surrounds His people
From this time forth and forever.

God promised to protect His people as long as they remained righteous.
3 For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest
On the land allotted to the righteous,
Lest the righteous reach out their hands to iniquity.

Today we are not under the law of good works.  We are under the law of grace.  Jesus sacrifice on the cross, paid the price for our sins.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,
And to those who are upright in their hearts.
This verse comes to mind:

Ephesians 2:8-10
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Now we do good works out of love for God and compassion for others.
5 As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways,
The Lord shall lead them away
With the workers of iniquity.

Even those who turn from God, can now come back by repenting and seeking forgiveness through Christ.
1 John 1:9
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Peace be upon Israel!
I have to try and avoid politics because there are so many different opinions.  And it quite honestly makes me so frustrated! Even my husband gets annoyed when I yell at the TV set...  I try and stick with the Bible and quietly read The NY Times : ) I looked in the maps in my Bible and saw a map of, "Palestine."  I did some historical searching to find out how Israel became Palestine (link) in the first place.  I found it humbling.  I provided the link in case you are interested, it does seem to support both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. 
This verse came to mind:
Romans 3:23
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...

I'm thinking only God can sort this mess out. I'll keep praying.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh my soul

I think the worst part of having trouble is the feelings.  The ache in my soul.  Physically, I'm fine- inside it's a bit sluggish.  Today I went to do my blog post and the cable was down.  Ugh...  I called the cable company on my cell phone because our main phone is on cable.  I figured out how to get past the recorded voice that tells me to unplug my modem, only to wait an hour to talk to a live person...  tap tap tap.  Will I ever be able to work again?  My patience runs thin, hope starts turning into despair, the lady answers and I am so relieved.  She asks me if I unplugged the modem.  I told her I did, that I'm a computer programmer.  She laughed and said, "I'm so glad you understand computers."  I laughed too, "You have a tough job!"  We became good friends.

The repairman will be here between 12pm and 8pm today.  What's a girl to do?

I am so caught up in the internet these days, I feel lost without it.  I have two choices, focus on the internet which I can't control, or  focus on what I can control.  I don't need the internet to write my post, take photos, learn some more about Corel Painter, even cartoon a bird.  My soul is set free! 

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

This is a really inspiring prayer. The wisdom is right up there with focusing on what you need, not just what you want.  Focus on what you can control, not on what you can't, let God handle that.  It's, "The Serenity Prayer."

God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I can not change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Psalms 124

This Psalm is another one of David's.  David had two choices, to focus on all the problems they've had in Israel, or to focus on God's deliverance.  Reading through the Psalms this year, I've noticed David focused on both.  This is a song of praise from Israel to God for journeys to Jerusalem. 

1 "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,"
Let Israel now say — 
2 "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,
When men rose up against us,
3 Then they would have swallowed us alive,
When their wrath was kindled against us;
4 Then the waters would have overwhelmed us,

The stream would have gone over our soul;
5 Then the swollen waters
Would have gone over our soul."

6 Blessed be the Lord,
Who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
7 Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
The snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

Praise God!  I'm back online : ) Oh!  In the words of David, "Blessed be the Lord, for He has not allowed me to disappear in cyberspace; He has set me free to surf the waves again."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Psalms 18:32-33
32 It is God who arms me with strength,
And makes my way perfect.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer,
And sets me on my high places.

Only God can direct my feet perfectly.  I may ask, "Are
You sure this is right?  I don't like this."
And He arms me with strength.

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Challenge sponsored by Katie Lloyd Photography

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Not perfect

I think the whole human race has felt this way at one time or another.  The rich manage to get richer while people go without.  Arrogant brutes think their ideas are better than anyone else.  So they seek power and control. 

In web design and development, I learned there are two ways to design a web site.  One way is by doing it myself without input.  Because I want it my way- which didn't go so good.  The other way is to get feedback from others.  I was always so amazed by the suggestions that came to me.  A secretary would use the site in a way a technical support person wouldn't- everyone's opinion was good.  Of course, some ideas took some negotiation and time.  By combining all these ideas, I was able to come back with some great designs.  By seeking to be a servant, I was always successful. And of course my assignment was great, "Just fix it!" 

As Christians, we are to be servants.  Jesus knew we'd be far more successful as servants.  Especially in a world that hasn't changed much since this Psalm was written, over 3000 years ago.

Psalms 123

1 I look to you, heaven-dwelling God,
look up to you for help.
2 Like servants, alert to their master's commands,
like a maiden attending her lady,

Sometimes the best thing to do is watch and wait.  But it sure isn't easy.  I tend to doodle or babble while I wait.  Which leads to Bible study, and giving someone a glass of water.  Maybe there's a bigger reason He asks us to be still.  I pray for mercy after I shout out my To Do List to God.  I need His mercy.  Even I can be arrogant...  Yikes!  And complacent... I'm happy what's everyone else's problem?  I don't even like the sound of it.  "Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us." Matthew 6:12
We're watching and waiting, holding our breath,
awaiting your word of mercy.
3 Mercy, God, mercy!
We've been kicked around long enough,
4 Kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men,
kicked when we're down by arrogant brutes.

God knows we aren't perfect.  Like a mother with her little child, He lets us go just so close to the ocean before pulling us back to safety.  Here's how the Apostle Paul described us:
2 Corinthians 4:7-10
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed —  10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body

Monday, June 6, 2011


It was a big deal for people to travel to Jerusalem.  They had to travel far from their homes, no cars, planes, or trains.  Psalms 120-134 are thought to be pilgrim songs sung on the way to Jerusalem for the three annual feasts.  This Psalm was written by David.  

We are able to go to our Churches at least once a week, sometimes 3 or more. I found a model of the ancient temple in Jerusalem- Ancient Jerusalem Temple (link).  I love this stuff!  It makes things come to life.

© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

Psalms 122

You can really sense the joy and excitement of these pilgrimages.  They must've met up with old friends and seen family members from all over.  As Christians, we often have a rough time getting to Church, some say the devil tries to keep us in bed.  This is pretty inspiring.  And I do love to worship at Church, it's worth getting out of bed. : )   David dreamed of building God a temple, but because of sin, he had to let his son Solomon build it.

1 When they said, "Let's go to the house of God,"
my heart leaped for joy.
2 And now we're here, O Jerusalem,
inside Jerusalem's walls!
3 Jerusalem, well-built city,
built as a place for worship!

This is referring to the twelve tribes of Israel.  It kind of reminds me of all our denominations.  As long as Jesus is Lord, we are all one body.
4 The city to which the tribes ascend,
all God's tribes go up to worship,
To give thanks to the name of God
this is what it means to be Israel.
5 Thrones for righteous judgment
are set there, famous David-thrones.

I've had this verse come to mind a lot over the past several months.  Then the news about our country trying to divide Israel came.  Now I understand why the prayer request kept coming.  It's a difficult situation, many of us are very confused.   Israel has been through so much suffering, and they are still God's chosen people- the first fruit.
6 Pray for Jerusalem's peace!
Prosperity to all you Jerusalem-lovers!

I was also a bit confused as to how this verse applies to those of us who have accepted Jesus' sacrifice.  Because when He was crucified the curtain separating man from God was torn.

Matt 27:51
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split... 

And our bodies became the temple of the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor 6:19

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

So I looked it up on a Jews for Jesus web site to get their perspective : )  It turns out that verse 6 of this Psalm, requests all of us to pray for Jerusalem's peace and in return we will receive a blessing.  With the latest news, I pray for peace even if I don't receive a blessing.  Israel is mentioned throughout the Bible, including Revelation.  They still play a key role in Christianity.  On the web site, the author asked us to pray for all Jews everywhere and also Christians.
  Actually, I think I'll pray for peace for Muslims too.

These words are so important, even today.  For all the nations.

7 Friendly insiders, get along!
Hostile outsiders, keep your distance!
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I say it again: live in peace!
9 For the sake of the house of our God, God,
I'll do my very best for you.