God’s Preservation of Israel

Isaiah 43:2-4. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee: and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.”

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We looked at verse one in this passage  on May 24, just before our two-week vacation, if you’d like to go back there to set the rest of this passage in its proper context.

The next three verses reveal God’s infinite, tender, restoring, forgiving love for His people Israel.  He knows they will suffer because of their rebellion against Him, and He promises them that in their suffering He will always be with them; He will always love them; He will always protect them from complete annihilation; He will always hold them as precious in His sight.

Verse 3 refers to God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The word ransom in this verse is deliverance without a price.  But these verses refer more specifically to the end times, in which God delivers Israel from destruction by Antichrist, and these other countries are destroyed instead.

Always, there have been attempts to destroy Israel.  Threats are made today, and will continue to be made until the final chapter of earthly history is written.  Always, God protects His people.  He does so not because they are good, but because He is good; He is a God Who keeps His promises.

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Sunday Morning Coffee: Home

There’s no place like home.  After 1 1/2 delightful weeks with my family in South Dakota and a rather grueling flight back here, it was just pure pleasure to crawl into my own bed. Use my own kitchen, bathroom, laundry, easy chair. Not that I was uncomfortable in any way–it’s just that home is still the best.

Today, I’ll be back in my own church after missing two Sundays.  I’m looking forward to being  back home there, too.  Familiar faces make church a home place, a place for the heart.

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I even enjoyed going back into work for just one day this week, on Thursday.  My office.  My desk. My comfy little nest where I work 18 hours most weeks.  And Shirley, our secretary, brought me a welcome-home doughnut that was so good I may have to treat her to one next week 🙂

While I’ve been thinking about being home, I’ve remembered all the many places I’ve called home over my almost 71 years of living. Some are vague, back to when I was 3. But from the time we moved to Minneapolis just before I started kindergarten, I remember them all.  There were many.  Even after I married Terry, we moved a good bit until we came back out here to PA in 1994.  Now, we’re going on 24 years in the same house.  A record for me!

I’ve never been one to suffer from homesickness.  I’m usually too interested in seeing what’s just over the next ridge to feel sad about not being at home.  Now, however, at this end of my life spectrum, I’m finding that I do really prefer to be home.  I will still travel when I can, but it’s always so sweet to just come home.

Do you know the home I’m looking forward to most of all?  Sure you do, and you probably wondered when I would get to this part of my post.

I’m homesick for heaven.  Not morbid or anything, just looking forward to the day I see Jesus, and know that the journey is over down here, just beginning up there.

Forgiveness is NOT a New Concept

Seems to me I’m hearing a lot about the importance of forgiveness these days.  Nothing wrong with that.  God knows we need to get hold of the concept, practice it, teach it to our children.  But it’s being talked about as if no one ever realized until now just how important it is, and that’s amazing to me.

Forgiveness is as old as Adam and Eve and their first sin against God. He forgave them–but there were consequences.  There always are consequences.

I’m afraid we didn’t do a stellar job of teaching our own kids how to forgive and accept forgiveness, and neither did my parents.  I had to learn it the hard way, after I was all grown up and should have been past the anger and bitterness that accompanies an unforgiving spirit.  Someone has said that withholding forgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the person who hurt you will die.

There is a ton of bitterness that walks into my office.  People are so hurt, so angry, so bitter.  They are locked in a prison of their own making because, even when they think they have forgiven, they have failed to go past the words “I forgive you,” not making application of those words in their attitudes, actions, and relationships. They often do not understand that failing to truly forgive one person will spill over into all their other relationships like radioactive fallout, slowly eating away at their lives until they find themselves alone and lonely, and not understanding why.

That is when the 100% words come into play. “No one understands me. Everyone is against me. I always get the shaft. I never seem to come out on top. ”

In Ephesians 4:32, Paul wrote, “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven you.”Image result for Ephesians 4:32

I had to learn that forgiveness was really between God and me, and not necessarily between me and the person(s) who hurt me.  Often, the person against whom we hold bitterness is blithely unaware–or chooses to be unaware–of the pain we suffer.  Confronting the offender is often impossible because he/she is already dead; or the distance is too great.  Perhaps you really don’t want the person in your life, and that’s okay as long as there is very little chance of you ever being together in the same place at the same time.  You don’t have to confront someone face-to-face in order to forgive him. Just understand that as long as you withhold forgiveness, that person is still controlling your emotions.  It simply doesn’t make sense to allow that to continue.

Forgiveness is a process, not an event.  You may finally come to a place of brokenness before God, and you choose to release the offender from the debt. You choose to give up your right to demand justice. You are relieved, released, and rejoicing.  And then, WHAM!  out of nowhere, a memory comes flooding back along with all the emotions, and you’re floundering, drowning in discouragement because you thought you had settled it.

That’s when you have to forgive again, seventy times seven, as long as it takes.  What I have learned is that the more often you learn to quickly forgive again, as time goes on, you will need to forgive less and less because you are practicing forgiveness. After a while, you get pretty good at it.  The painful memories come less frequently, and when they do arise like snakes from under a rock, you kill them before they have a chance to poison you again.

Does forgiving someone mean that he gets away with whatever he did?  Does it mean you have to continue to tolerate abuse?  No, and no. The offender will answer to God unless he seeks forgiveness.  As for tolerating further mistreatment, no, of course not. Abuse is never acceptable.  We all need to establish boundaries that, if crossed, will result in the loss of an active relationship. These boundaries need to be made clear to the person who has invaded your space before, treating you with condescension or cruelty. No one has to accept that.

We do have to accept, however, that some people seem to just be incapable of changing their behaviors, ignoring your boundaries. They are so full of themselves that they cannot–will not–acknowledge that you have a right to set your own boundaries.

You don’t have to accommodate their obtuse arrogance. Stay away. There are toxic people who will drip poison into your heart and mind if they get anywhere near you, and then try to convince you that it’s all your fault. All we can do with those poor folks is pray for them, and stay away from them. Kindly. Not returning spite for spite.

So, there now.  I’ve added–once again–my voice to the many others out there who are trying to embrace, practice, and teach forgiveness as well as seeking forgiveness from those they themselves have hurt.

Remember that we are to be becoming Christlike. He is the best forgiver in the history of the world.

 

One More

One more post about our travels.  Next week we’ll get back into Isaiah.

My bag was delivered around 11:45 last night.  My computer was there, thank God, including the cord. Also my Kindle cord.  No phone charger, though.  I was sure I had put it in the same pocket as the rest, but it just isn’t there.

There was a note that my bag had been randomly selected for opening and searching.  Maybe my phone cord disappeared at that point.  I’ll contact Ken and Sheila today to see if I left it with them. I have to say, the searchers did a good job of keeping my suitcase packed exactly as I had left it. At least they didn’t find THIS in my bag:

 

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Back to work this morning, for the only day this week.  Six clients to see, and I’m sure I’m going to be ready to relax at the end of my day. It’s going to be a busy month, and I need to start getting my house in order.

Today is our 49th anniversary!  Good grief, how did all that time pass so fast!

Praying you all have a blessed day 🙂

Home Again!

We had a wonderful visit with our South Dakota family.  It was amazing to see our second high school graduate among the nine of our grandchildren.  And it was, of course, very hard to say goodbye.

We left Sioux Falls right on time, arriving in Dallas/Fort Worth right on time. We had less than an hour to make our next connection, so we took the Sky Link.  Would have been fine if the second one that should have been running hadn’t broken down.  It got pretty funky in there with all that restless, sweating humanity packed in like sardines.

We got to our gate with about 25 minutes to spare, and I expected that they would have already begun boarding. Not so. I’m not sure what the delay was, but I have never seen or heard such a mess.  Not the airline’s fault.  The woman behind the desk was doing her level best to tell waiting boarders to PLEASE keep the lanes clear for the off-boarding passengers.

What is it about human nature that simply ignores a request like that, with dozens of people milling around where off-loading passengers are trying to get through?  The poor woman finally called for airport security to come, and that did have a rather dampening effect on the herd.  They reluctantly moved back out of the way, but they weren’t happy about it.

Then people started trying to board with luggage that was way bigger than their carry-on was supposed to be.  Lots of disgusted people ended up having to pay extra, having to go to a different line to be processed. There was no excuse for their anger.  The woman at the desk had been repeating over and over again what the requirements were as people began to board.  Besides which, when you make your reservation you are told clearly what that airline requires.  I had no sympathy for any of them.  There will always be people who think they can slip past the rules, or that it just doesn’t apply to them, or something.  And then they get all twisted up when they get sent to the back of the line.

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All this was going on as more groups were being called to board the plane.  Then the ominous announcement came:  “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a completely full flight.  There is no more luggage space available, either in cargo or in the passenger area.  Please make sure your carry-on is small enough to fit under the seat. . . . .”

And my heart dipped.  Somehow, I just knew.

Once we boarded, I found that the wife in a little old couple from somewhere in Asia was occupying my seat.  I tried to explain the dilemma, but I don’t think they spoke much English, and they were obviously terrified of being separated. The flight attendant came to help, and I said, “Look, can I just swap my seat with hers?  Then they can stay together.”  So we did that, and I ended up in row 5 right behind first class instead of in row 18.  Waved goodbye to Terry in row 21, and enjoyed the extra leg room.  I also enjoyed the woman on my left who was flying to Philly and then to Germany to visit family there. At age 79, she was a peppy little woman who was fun to chat with

We departed from Dallas more than a half-hour late.  This would have been around 10 p.m.  EDT.  We were scheduled to land in Philly @ 12:30 a.m., but we didn’t land until 1:30 a.m.  Then the long hike to baggage claims, looking for bathrooms on the way.  We didn’t find one that was open until we got all the way down to baggage. They were all being cleaned.

I mean, I’m glad they were being cleaned, right?

When we finally got to the right carousel, it was still going around.  Empty, but moving.  Empty.  My bag was nowhere in sight. A pleasant young woman came out of the baggage claims office and waited with me for another complete revolution, and then invited me into her office.  In less than a minute she had contacted Dallas and was told my bag was being sent on a different flight.  Supposedly, it arrived around 10 this morning in Philly, and they’re going to bring it up here.  So far, I haven’t heard a thing.

I may have to do a little shopping today.  The thing that really upsets me is that my laptop is in my suitcase.  Usually, I have it in my carry-on, but for some reason I decided to put it in my suitcase this time.  Less weight to carry, I guess.  So my phone charger, my Kindle charger, and my laptop are all —–somewhere out there.  I don’t like not having my clothes, either. So we wait, and pray the suitcase will arrive intact someday soon.

We finally made it home around 4 a.m.  And of course, once I crawled into bed I couldn’t fall asleep.  Finally turned off my light around 5 a.m. slept soundly until around 8:30.   Dozed some more,  but finally rolled out around 11.  And now here I am, with no laptop, no cell phone (needs charging) no makeup, no decent hairbrush, and waiting for some clothes that are among my favorites.

Other than that, we had a great trip.  And I guess, if this is the worst thing that could happen, then we’re really in pretty good shape, right?  This too shall pass 🙂

It was worth it.

 

 

Almost Over

Kyle graduated last night, from a class of 530 students.  The program went surprisingly quickly considering the number of grads.

Today and part of tomorrow, and we’ll be on a plan on our way home. I hate to leave my family, but I do look forward to being home. No place like it, right?

So I’ve been thinking about graduations from high school. My own took place in 1965, when the “flip” hairdo was very popular, along with the beehive 🙂  And cat-eye glasses, remember those? I still think the flip is pretty.  Today, girls seem to opt for completely straight and very long, although everyone seems to feel free to do her own thing these days.

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Bouffant and flipped.  I went with the flip, but not the think bangs.  Things sure are simpler now.

Then there was college graduation four years later.  A wedding a week after that. and yet another graduation for my master’s degree nearly 40 years later.  Lots of living went on in the years between!

Some teens know exactly what they want to do after high school.  Others are at sea, not having a direction or passion that leads them forward.  It can be a most difficult time, because there is a great deal of pressure to know exactly what your next step is going to be after high school.

I had an interest in psychology way back then, but it was a relatively new field in the ’60’s for girls who came from the background I did.  I’m not sorry I went in the direction of teaching instead.  It certainly paved the way for the decision I would make at age 50 to go back to school so I could do private-practice counseling.

When I think about all the twists and turns our lives have taken, again, I’m not sorry for the decisions we’ve made.  God brought Terry and me together at just the right time. We’ve had a (mostly !)  wonderful marriage, and four adult children who have given us nine wonderful grandchildren.

It’s true that high school graduation is a huge steppingstone into life, but it’s not the ONLY point of decision. There is always opportunity, always the possibility of changing courses.

No decision has to be set in cement.

 

 

So Lazy!

Ken and Terry needed the library for a project they’re working on, so here I am again, getting in some wifi time.

I have been incredibly, unbelievably lazy.  Is it Wednesday already?  Wow.  The kids are in their last full day of school.  Thursday and Friday will be half days.  Sheila’s parents will be coming in on Friday, and graduation for Kyle is Sunday.

I’ve taken a very short walk each day, trying to stretch out those hip flexors and regain some strength.  I’m continually distressed at how weak I am, although I shouldn’t be surprised.  It’s been over two years of back issues now, and exercise has been out of the question for quite a bit of that time.  But I’m determined to regain whatever I can, and being on vacation  gives me the opportunity to get started. There’s a very convenient walking path right outside the back gate.

The weather has been gorgeous, although hotter than I’m used to.  Today is lovely, about 75 right now and breezy. The best thing is that I haven’t needed ANY of my allergy nasal medications. That’s just amazing to me, because back home in PA I’m pretty sure I’ll have to be right back on them.

I can see Alayna’s middle school if I crane my neck a little bit. Very roomy, and large athletic fields.  She loves it there. She’s having lots of opportunities to be in music and drama, which she loves.

There are lots of pretty scenic areas in and around the city.  If I had to move here, I think I’d be okay.Image result for sioux Falls, SD scenery

Not that I want to move 🙂