A Path of Peace and Joy

My husband and I are committed to reading through the Bible in one year. We have a schedule of texts that our pastor provided. We read out loud to each other, two selections in the morning and two selections in the evening.

Currently we are reading a chapter from Exodus and a chapter from Acts in the morning. In the evening we read passages from Psalms and Proverbs.

The Bible is consistent. It demonstrates God’s holiness, righteousness, justice and love. The people in the Bible have human failings. Their sins are recorded transparently.

Woven through the human story is a message of love and redemption. The Bible records God’s plan of redemption from promise to fulfillment.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. John 3:16-17

When we seek God and confess our sins, he hears us.

For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Romans 10:13

God enables us to live a life of peace and joy.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

Do you know the story of Queen Esther? Esther was courageous in taking steps to save her people from the plot of Haman. Mordecai motivated Esther to take action, and Esther asked her people to pray. The people prayed and called out to God. He heard their cry. Today God’s deliverance of the Jewish people in Persia is remembered. Today is the celebration of Purim.

This post is shared with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Todays prompt is: ENABLE I’m also linking up with Heart Encouragement.

Any Truth in Fairy Tales?

Many fairy tales begin with once upon a time. It is interesting that these children’s stories can include suffering and waiting. 

Cinderella was treated harshly by her stepmother and stepsisters. When the fairy godmother makes a way for her to go to the Prince’s ball, she has to leave at midnight. And days, perhaps weeks, go by until the prince finds her.

Snow White flees from her stepmother and goes to live with the seven dwarfs, keeping house for them. When the witch gives her the poisoned apple she falls into a long sleep. The dwarves are convinced that she has died. Eventually the prince finds her and awakens her.

These stories tap into a truth about life in our broken world. 

Currently I am reading through the book of Genesis, taking in the account of Joseph and his brothers once more. Joseph went from favorite son, to slave, to wrongly accused. He spent two or more years in jail before he was brought before Pharaoh.

Suffering is part of the human condition. 

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  . . . Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1. 3-5

We will meet difficult times in our life. I can testify that God hears our prayers. He has helped me. Sometimes we wait for the answer, and sometimes the answer is different than what we expected. God hears the prayers of his people.

This post is linked with the Five Minute Friday writing community. Kate’s prompt for today is: ONCE I am also sharing this post with Heart Encouragement and Hearth and Soul.

Luke’s Orderly Account

Next week our women’s Bible study will begin a study of the gospel of Luke (meeting in my backyard). So I am reading and meditating on the first chapter as Luke relates the unfolding of God’s plan to send Jesus.

The angel Gabriel visits Zechariah to announce that God has heard prayers for a son. Zechariah and Elizabeth are going to have a son that will turn the hearts of the people to God.

Zechariah has been obediently serving the Lord in the temple, but he is astonished by this message. Is God going to do this now? This is beyond my expectations? How will this work out?

God’s ways and his timing are truly beyond our understanding. As we see the chaos in our country fueled by the pandemic, the riots, the fires we may wonder how this will end. God is sovereign and He will fulfill all the promises in scripture. We need to hold fast to our faith.

After Gabriel gives the message to Zechariah, he visits Mary to tell her that she will give birth to Jesus, the promised Savior. Mary wonders how this will all happen, but responds in faith. 

May we be like Mary waiting expectantly for God to carry out his plans.

The gospel of Luke will go on to tell about the events in Jesus’ life on earth in a chronological order. I am looking forward to studying each chapter. The events in Luke are covered in the other gospels, but John makes an interesting statement. 

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25

Bible

Sharing this post with the Five Minute Friday writing community and Crystal’s Heart Encouragement.

At Last a Child Spoke Truth

Hans Christian Anderson wrote fairy tales that I read as a child. Recently one of those stories has come to mind.

In The Emperors New Clothes swindlers approach a self-indulgent King with a proposal. They have devised a very clever lie with their plot. They tell the King that the magical clothes they produce will only be visible to wise and educated people. People who are fools will not be able to see the clothes. The King is intrigued and agrees to their proposal.

The swindlers go about weaving imaginary cloth and sewing the “cloth” into a suit of clothes.

When court officials are asked to view the progress of the swindlers they are afraid to say that they don’t see anything—because they would be admitting that they are fools. 

Eventually the King parades his new clothes in a procession. The people of the kingdom stare, but are afraid to say that they don’t see the magical clothes. They don’t want to appear as fools.

At last a little boy says, “But he has got nothing on.”

The Emperor’s New Clothes was published in 1837, but it has relevance today.

If a lie is told frequently enough people begin to believe it. Can we distinguish the lies in our culture?  

Abortion has been justified with the the idea that a fetus is just a clump of tissue. 

Biological sex is being dismissed and replaced with gender ideology. 

The CDC in concert with pharmaceuticals lists 72 vaccine doses that children must have by age 18 to be healthy.

What is actually happening to the health of children?

More than 60 million babies have been aborted in the U.S.

The teen suicide rate is rising, and the child mortality rate is rising in the U.S.

We need to pray for our country, for families and for the health of children growing up today.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long. Psalm 25: 4-5 ESV

This post is shared with Tuesdays with a Twist, Encouraging Hearts & Home, Crystal’s Heart Encouragement and the Five Minute Friday writing community. Today’s prompt is: LAST (In full disclosure, the prompt stimulated my thoughts, but this post took quite a bit longer than 5 minutes.)

A Truth Beyond Measure

The prompt for Five Minute Friday is: MEASURE

I usually think about the prompt over night and then write in the morning. In bed I mused about all the ways I have made measurements.

As a mom I measured the height and weight of my children as they grew, the ingredients in recipes. I counted the candles on birthday cakes.

As a nurse I measured many things: the medications for each patient, the rate of intravenous fluid, urinary output, the cervical dilation of a woman in labor.

The Bible gives us many measurements: the length, the breadth and the height of the ark, the dimensions of the tabernacle, the number of men (20 years old or more) in each tribe of Israel when they entered the promised land.

Measurements inform us and provide order. They can guide our actions.

But the Bible tells us that some things are beyond measure. 

He [God] does not deal with us according to ur sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103: 10-12

The wonderful news is that God’s love and grace are beyond measure.

Good Writers are Readers

Good writers are readers. In order to become a better writer, I read extensively. I read fiction and nonfiction books. I read nursing and midwifery journals. I read the Bible. Last fall I thought that I should read a major newspaper to keep up with the events of the day.

If I was going to share my viewpoint on a subject, I needed to be well informed. So I subscribed to a major newspaper on-line and read it daily. Sometimes the views expressed in the paper upset me. But I kept reading.

Then the accusations against Brett Kavanaugh were widely reported, in detail, in the newspaper. I was offended because incidents were reported as if they were factual. It felt like gossip. Gossip about a very sensitive subject.

And so I terminated my subscription to the paper. I am now reading the daily news briefs from World Magazine on-line. As a Christian I want to be well informed. I want to participate in discussions that seek the truth. We live in a confusing and complex time.

I am spending more time in prayer as I try to understand how to live for Christ in a hurting world. I want to share love and light.

What do you read as you search for truth?

The prompt for FMF is: SHARE   Click here to visit the Five Minute Friday. Also linking this post to Literary Musing Monday .

Book Review: Updated and Expanded LIES WOMEN BELIEVE

Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free stimulated discussion among Christian women when it came out in 2001. I read the first edition many years ago. I looked through it again as I read the new and revised edition.

Lies Women Believe

I am so pleased with the new and revised edition. It has been updated and expanded. Running through both editions is this theme: When we believe lies about God, ourselves, sex, marriage, etc., we are in bondage. The truth of God’s word has the power to set us free.

The recently released edition displays a deep understanding of the complex issues that women face in the current culture. I have truly enjoyed reading it. I know I will go back to review the truths that are confirmed by Bible verses, listed at the end of each chapter.

A chapter on sexuality has been added to this new edition. Dannah Gresh participated in writing the chapter. She shares her personal story and perspective. Dannah provides examples of the way that women are wounded in sexual relationships, along with the forgiveness and healing that is offered through Jesus

In the chapter about marriage, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth discusses the difficult and often misunderstood concept of submission. What does it look like in a marriage?  God created Eve to be a helper suited to Adam. The Hebrew phase [ezer]  means  “a helper matching him”  or a  “helper  corresponding to him.” p. 169

Nancy gives examples from the lives of a variety of women, including her mother. She shares insights that she has garnered in her three years of marriage. She also addresses domestic abuse.

The chapter about children has been revised. Mary Kassian participated in the rewriting.   I am  glad  that a brief history  of  contraception is included. The birth control pill became popular in the  1960s  and  led to the  sexual revolution.

It would be hard to overstate the far-reaching, lasting effects of Margaret Sanger’s life and influence. Our culture has embraced wholesale the idea promoted  by  Sanger  and  Planned  Parenthood—that  controlling  our  fertility is a basic human right. p. 198

The reader is encouraged to know the way contraceptive methods work and to seek wisdom about marriage and family from the Bible. Couples should prayerfully seek God’s guidance when making decisions. I appreciated the inclusion of Holly Elliff’s experience as a mother.

Many aspects of motherhood are opportunities to grow in relationship with the Lord. Financial worries, parenting challenges and the mommy wars are addressed.

In the chapter about circumstances, Nancy explained that a friend had sent her a framed calligraphy with these words:

Coram Deo
Living all of life
In the presence of God
Under the authority of God
And to the glory of God. p. 270

In a world that is broken and full of deception we need to be pointed to the truth of God’s word. This book does that. It is useful for personal or group study.

Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free

In full disclosure,  I received a copy of this book from  the  publisher  in  return for an honest review.

For more information click here.

Sharing this post with Grace & Truth,  Booknificent Thursday,  Literary Musing Monday

Grace, Mercy and Truth

On Fridays I join the community at Kate Motaung’s blog. We write for five minutes on a prompt. Today’s word is: TRUTH

It was one of those nights—I woke up at 2:00 am and could not go back to sleep. I picked up a Bess Crawford mystery, thinking that I would just read a couple chapters. Three hours later I put the book down, hoping to get a couple hours of sleep before my day began.

Bess Crawford is a fictional character drawn from the imagination of a mother/son writing team (Charles Todd). Bess is a WWII nurse that goes to the front as a surgical nurse. Sometimes she has a reprieve, and she is assisting convalescing soldiers or tracking down relatives. But always she is pursuing truth and serving the patients she encounters with compassion.

The end of each book brings a sense of satisfaction. The truth has been discovered and Bess has acted with courage and kindness. //

There is a deep yearning in the human heart for truth.

David, the shepherd and later the king, lived through a turbulent time in Israel. His thoughts are captured in the Psalms. Psalm 25 is attributed to David.

All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 KGV

Another translation of this verse adds insight.

All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. Psalm 25:10 ESV

When life takes unexpected turns we can trust the faithfulness of God. His word stabilizes us. The importance of truth is highlighted in this verse:

Send out your light and truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Psalm 43:3

God is the source of truth. We need the word of God in our lives. When our world is chaotic we can find truth by following Jesus.

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Did you notice that mercy and truth are connected in scripture? Only the Lord Jesus can offer us grace as we confront the reality of sin. Praise God that he provides mercy and grace for us!

I’m sharing this post with Five Minute Friday, Literacy Musing Monday,  Faith on Fire and Grace & Truth

The Irony of Refined Sugar

Today I am joining Five Minute Friday. We write fast and free for five minutes. Today’s prompt is REFINE.

The dictionary gives these definitions: to reduce to a pure state, to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing, to become pure or perfected.

When I think about refined white sugar I notice great irony. Cane sugar is refined to a white sweetness that we add to food. The irony is; the refining process depletes the nutritional content of sugar.

When sugar is refined the byproduct is molasses. Molasses contains the minerals and B vitamins that have been stripped from the white crystals. Blackstrap molasses is richest in mineral content.

Blackstrap Molasses

Refined white sugar makes baked goods less healthy. Our body must use up its store of stress vitamins to metabolize the sugar into energy. I recently came across a recipe for healthy ginger muffins that includes blackstrap molasses. You can find the recipe here.

Words are sometimes misleading. The descriptive term may be deceiving. It is important to search for the truth. The Bible will always point us to truth.

When the Bible mentions refinement it likens it to purifying silver and gold. The result is truly better. When we are refined, we are becoming more like Christ. The book of Malachi looks ahead to the coming of Jesus Christ.

He [Lord] will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver . . .   Malachi 3:3

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Lost! I Need a Map

The traffic on the expressway was light and I was enjoying the book on tape.  Suddenly a road sign for a town that was past my destination      appeared. I had missed my exit. I had to keep driving until another exit came up. Then I pulled over to a small shopping center to figure out where I was.

My husband has reminded me many times that my i-phone has a map application. So I pulled out my phone and typed in the address of my destination.  I had two choices:  turn around and back track on the       expressway or reduce the mileage by taking county roads. I chose the county roads.

The scenery was nicer than the expressway. The road wound through farm country and trees that made an archway across the two-lane road. I became anxious when the weather changed. Dark clouds rolled across the sky and a sudden down pour obscured my vision.

I had to check the map periodically. I am directionally challenged and can easily turn left when I should turn right or vice versa. So I went along with periodic pauses, pulling over when it was safe to verify my route. I breathed a sigh of relief when I began to recognize the street signs. I was so glad to reach my sister’s house safely.

Isn’t this like the believer’s life? Events in life can take us to a confusing place. We don’t know what is true or how to respond. We feel like God is far away. We need to take out God’s word and spend some time in prayer. We need direction from the Lord. The Psalmist expresses this for us.

Give me your lantern and compass, give me a map,
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
To the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship, meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp, magnificent God, my God.

Psalm 43: 3-4   The Message

Send out you light and your truth,
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
And I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

Psalm 43: 3-4 ESV

Linking with Christian Blogger Link-up,  Grace & TruthThought Provoking Thursday,  Sitting Among Friends and Word of God Speak