Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Just and the Unjust (Matt 5:45)

"Raindrop in my backyard"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
I've been praying for inspiration for my blog since yesterday.  Yesterday was interesting.  We keep having these huge downpours of rain.  I was at my computer and heard a boom then the house loudly bounced.  Not such a great feeling.  It held up : )  Silly me, I told my husband the rain is messing up my flowers.  He said, "It'll be ok.  God knows how much water the flowers need."

Sigh.  I was driving home from the grocery store today, when I heard this song for the first time.  I wanted to share it.

We Won't Be Shaken, Building 429 (link)

The verse on the photo kept going through my mind.  Sometimes the Lord repeats Himself for me, so I'll remember it : )  So glad He does.  I was wondering as I drove, why God allows us to be in the rain and storms.  After all we're the "saved" ones.  Then it all came together.  We are to be in the storms with those who don't know about God so we can bear His testimony.  We'll have plenty of time in Paradise when the time comes.  But, for now we are his candles, the hugs that people need, sharing our tears and prayers.  He hasn't left us on earth because He forgot.  It's because He loves all of us.  The just and the unjust.  He wants as many as possible with Him.

On 9-11-00, I drove to work and saw "Police Activity in Lower Manhattan" on the overhead sign.  I thought it was a drug bust or some sort of violence.  I got to work and my friends were crying.  "They're bombing NYC and we don't know why!"  

I looked out a window upstairs and saw the plumes of smoke rising out of the skyscrapers.  A woman had her hands over her mouth as she shook and cried, "I don't know if my husband got out alive!"  

I'm not usually real emotional. I didn't know what to do.  So I hugged her, prayed with her, and cried too.  Eventually, I went back downstairs.  We were all silent, dumbfounded.  Awhile later she ran downstairs and told me her husband was ok.  He'd made it out.  Time for a happy dance!  We need to be there for others.  Our prayers mean a lot.  God hears and answers.  We have some good news to share don't we?  Besides faith shines brightest when it's dark.

It's good to know storms are not a punishment, they're an honor.

God bless!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shine (James 10) (James 4:7, Matt 6:9-13, James 5:12-20)

"Shine like the moon; reflect the Son"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Corel Painter, digital painting

Yay!  This is the last post from the Book of James.  It's one of the toughest books to read because it's so clear about what's right and wrong.  Hard to take sometimes but like medicine it makes us stronger.  Thanks for bearing with me.

Before I press on, I wanted to share about a few Christian heroes in America.  Feel free to share about heroes you've noticed.

During the tornadoes in Oklahoma, the teachers chose to shield the children with their bodies. They sang "Jesus loves me."  As the storm grew stronger they all sang louder.  Sometimes we hear about those who died and forget to remember the survivors.  I kept singing Kumbaya (Come by here my Lord) during our hurricanes.

This Bible verse is so true 
"Resist the devil and he will flee from you." James 4:7

I know, I found peace in the hurricanes : )  The devil says, "You're gonna die!  This is the end."
Jesus says, "Peace be still."
I'll continue to pray for those in Oklahoma.

Our country is struggling right now because there are a few atheists that don't like Christians.  Guess we smile too much making them uncomfortable.  Grumpy people hate smiles. I know I was one. Our constitution states we have "Freedom of religion."  In fact some of my ancestors fought and died for this right.  They came to the USA as Mennonites in the 1600's.  

A few atheists threatened to sue a school district.  A young man was tasked with speaking at his High School graduation ceremony as Valedictorian.  He was told not to include religion.  He prepared a speech, got it approved and stood up to speak.  After a few minutes, he ripped it up and started saying the prayer Jesus taught us.

Our Father in Heaven,
Hallowed be Your Name,
Your kingdom come 
Your will be done
on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors,
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever.  Amen
Matthew 6:9-13

Evidently the whole school recited the prayer with him and cheered in the beginning and the end.  We must protect our Constitutional rights and not be afraid.  A lot of Americans love the Lord : )  Jesus' prayer is so applicable to so many circumstances.

This is a favorite song from the Newsboys.  My favorite lines are "Shine make em wonder what you got.  Make em wish that they were not on the outside looking bored."  Newsboys song Shine (link)

My life changed from anger and emptiness to joy and purpose when I became a Christian. There's no need for us to hide under rocks.  We get to shine. When we join Jesus in the end, that light is going to be amazing!  No more mopping floors or baths for sure.  Totally clean inside and out!  Err I need to mop the kitchen today...

James 5:12-20

12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your "Yes" be "Yes," and your "No," "No," lest you fall into judgment.
When I hear the word "swear" I think of bad language.  But what this verse is saying to me is to be honest in what I say.  If you don't have time to bake cookies for your husband just say it.  Don't say you will and then not do it.  That just destroys trust.  Afraid this is something I need to work on.

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven
Honestly I've been accused of being overly cheerful.  Yup a shiner... drives some folks nuts.  And people do like it when I sing.  Love the old hymns and contemporary music.  I really don't think about it much but maybe the Lord wants me to do it.  He has stuff for all of us to do.

16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.
Confessing to others is hard in our world.  It's hard to find people we can totally trust.  Unfortunately sometimes the Church takes on the form of Judge rather than Minister.  All the through the Bible it teaches not to judge- we've all sinned.  We should work on this. I need to think about how trustworthy I am with secrets.  The story of Elijah is amazing.  I want to write about a character next maybe Elijah.  Had lots of fun with Jonah.  

19 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
God has provided many ways for us to receive forgiveness.  This one promises that if we humbly correct and restore someone who's fallen from faith, even our own sins will be forgiven.  Sometimes we forget God doesn't want to condemn, He wants to gather and love us.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Where's the money? (James 9) (Joshua 24:15, Psalm 139:23, James 5:1-11, 1 Tim 6:10)

Hi everyone-

I'm back.  Sometimes I take a break without realizing it : )  After I wrote about fake reality on TV, I realized I needed to get outside myself.  Funny how God does that.  So, my husband and I planted a garden in our little courtyard.  I've learned to pick off the "deadheads."  Not a rock band at all.  It's actually when the blooms die on the plant.  As I was outside wondering why there were so many deadheads, I made friends with some of the neighbor ladies.  It's been fun.  Soon we may even have an iced tea party : )  And, yeah, I'm a Walmart shopper.  They have a nice Nursery and low prices.  Walmart also has great prices for groceries.

"God's the most amazing Artist of all"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
"Charlie" our planter, finally has flowers.
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"Marigolds, Petunias and uh....Impatience!"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

"Fire thing- 'Chiminea,' Petunias, Hastas and flowers : )"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
The New Jersey Boardwalks are coming back.  Gov. Chris Christie set it up that we would break a world record by extending a tape for 5 miles and then cut it.  He did this at the Seaside Heights Boardwalk which opened on Memorial Day.  We haven't been out there yet.  The weather has been very pleasant with cool air and very few high humidity days.

I'm trying to juggle my housework better by doing one thing a day.  So today I planned to sweep and put away the laundry I washed yesterday (that's 2 things- tomorrow is another day).  I set my glasses down at some point.  So I prayed, "Father, I don't know where they are again.  Sorry!  Could you show me?"

Sure enough I had an urge to look at my husband's recliner.  There they were. When I reclined, I squished the glasses and popped out a lens.  As I was thinking I'll never find the little screw to put it back in. I noticed it was still in place.  "Thank You Father, Your love never ends."  Can't wait to see the look on His face when we all go to Heaven.  You too?  No more eyeglasses : )
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Psalm 139:23 NIV
As far as the garden, I told my husband that this is my first try.  We may lose the rose or something, but we'll learn how to do better next year.  Err... I learn best by trial and error.  He's very patient.  After 30 years in business, I learned even I can garden : )

"Roses to remember our Moms and Grandmas"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.

James 5:1-11

Back to James now.  This section of James starts out referring to rich people.  Money in itself isn't evil.  It becomes evil when we love it above all else.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you!  2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. 4 Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.  5 You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. 6 You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you. 
This sounds like what we're experiencing in the USA.  Probably in Europe too.  The government collected taxes.  Employers cut wages to keep their profit margin as high as possible.  Profit must be met for the business owners, and high level officials.  The cost is people's jobs and income.  I believe there are still some companies that won't allow the profit margin to stay above what the company produces.  But I'm sure it's only a few.  

That's one reason people lose jobs.  Another is unions that have created their own profit margin on top of the company's.  The economy is bad for businesses for sure.  It would be great to see business leaders and others who are able to bend in the storms, and not break us.  I don't know how that would happen.  Healthcare issues are not helping at all right now and it's definitely the wrong time to raise taxes.  The verses above describe how God feels about this.  Only God can set this mess straight.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:10
This verse describes how money can become more important than it should to us. Have to admit though, I think most of money when I don't have any. It's a miserable feeling. We are doing fine. But my heart goes out to those who are still struggling.  When I am able to put my faith in God and just surrender, I find new strength.
7 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. 

We must all be patient and innovative.  Americans are a "resilient" (and stubborn) group of people. We have wealthy and poor people in our country who still care about others.  People God can use to help us out.  Nothing is impossible for Him.  And there's the day of His second coming to earth when we will meet Him in the clouds.  It could be soon, but it will be a surprise for all of us.
9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! 10 My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. 11 Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord — that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.
We were reading about Jonah on this blog awhile ago.  He went through a lot for sure!  The key in these verses is to not let money become our god.  To me it's saying not to try and put the blame on others but try very much to have faith in God.  He helped me find my glasses in our house today : )  We should never give up, He is full of surprises.

I wake up to either hard rock or Christian music (my husband plays it all on his iPod).  This was the one I heard yesterday morning.  I just had to share it.

Gonna Be Alright, Newsboys (link)