Month: November, 2014

Beautiful View

by Dawn Aldrich



by Dawn Marie Speer

The lush fullness of the Maple Tree
doesn’t compare to your lavish love
that is a banner over me.

The hot pink of the wild rose bush
does not compare to the crimson blood
of your sacrifice.

The vastness of the sky
cannot compare to your promise
of eternal life.

The wispy pure white clouds
cannot compare to the cleansing
I receive as I accept your gift.

The deep blue of the ocean
does not compare to the
depths of your character.

The warm, cozy cottage
does not compare to the
rest and refuge we find in you.

The sold rock of No Mans Island
cannot compare to the firm
foundation in Christ my Lord.

The uniqueness of each rock in the
wall that stretches from my view
cannot compare to
your many facets and your hand that
guides me.

The encompassing beauty of the view
cannot compare to the
splendor of the Lord.

Pool Therapy

by Wendy



by Wendy Coy

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

I knew twice-weekly exercises in the warm-almost-hot water would soothe and strengthen my rebelling muscles and joints, but I didn’t expect much more than “good for what ails me.”

Some days no one bothered me, and I counted my repetitions religiously, checking posture, balance, angle and what muscles I used as the water pushed back at me. Today, however, was different.

I wanted to concentrate and finish quickly, and I was none too happy to see a gaggle of other therapy-ites already inhabiting “my” space. Arms extended, backs arched, toes pointed, they seemed to take up half the pool. Yoga-girl stretched and swam long laps in the tiny space; Intent-woman followed her every move, and snorkel-guy practiced breathing and swimming in the miniscule deep end where I needed to work. Celtic-gentleman hugged the edge of the pool, trying to un-kink his back. Loud-dude hung around, lounging expansively and talking with his “outside voice” to no one in particular. Only one older woman seemed to be fairly, uh, “normal.”

Harrumph. Seven people would max out the pool.

I slid between bodies, ducking under arms and hopping over legs. Grabbing a spot, I held on, determined to protect my property rights. 1, 2, 3…. 25, 26, 27…   An ankle jabbed into my personal space and broke my focus.

I smiled on the outside, but –funny thing – the Holy Spirit didn’t buy my charade. He knew inside I was snarling Grump-Girl. I knew I had to change my outlook, fast, but I wasn’t sure how to blast this attitude-from-the-pit while I counted and shrugged into an ever-shrinking watery 3-foot square. Plastering hope on my face, in desperation I started to pray.

“Thank you, Lord, that we have this amazing pool,” my heart prayed, but my attitude grumbled. Good reason not to stop. “Thank you for these people and please let me see them with your eyes.” The growling quieted, a little. “Lord, I don’t want to judge and be offended and criticize. Can you help me? What do YOU see? What do YOU want to do?”

Almost instantly, the older woman struck up a conversation with yoga-girl, smiling, encouraging her. Grins erupted… and stabbed my chastened heart. “Why couldn’t I do that,” I mused, still counting exercises. “Why so easily offended?”

The tension lifted and ease settled over the pool. After another tiny lap, yoga-girl climbed onto the pool deck. Instead of a tight-lipped oblivious diva, I saw a fragile woman in search of relief.

Too-tight spaces loosened and we all breathed. Elder-woman fell in place behind me, peering to see my exercise list. “Oh, I’ll copy you,” she quipped as we both laughed. I showed her exercises, she mirrored my motions; we talked about injuries, allergies and… healing.

And God. There it was – she was a believer. SHE was being Jesus to us weird hurting therapy-ites flapping around in overheated water. She was spreading joy. She was relating, and we all responded.

I shook my head, happy to be “bested” by a lover of God. No longer offended grump-girl, I smiled and waved as my new friend exited the pool. “Thank you, Lord,” I whispered as I smiled at snorkel man and finished counting repetitions.

Heaven’s Song

by Dawn Aldrich

children-dancing“Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” Ephesians 5:18b-20

“Would you buy me a music book for Christmas so I can sing the songs?” asked my blond pipe-curled granddaughter. The one who couldn’t yet read or follow notes but always sung from somewhere deep within her soul.

The music called them both, she and her brother, in the middle of the store. They sang and twirled and clapped their hands. Uninhibited soul celebration that couldn’t be stilled. Wasn’t it Jesus who said we should be more like children?

And the song of heaven? It’s part of us, too. Heaven’s song calls soul deep in the midst of busyness and leisure, grief and joy, in want and plenty. It beckons thanksgiving in all things, for all things. And when we lift our earthly bent limbs high toward heaven, thanksgiving unfurls from our lips, our hearts, our souls… and His grace flows.

I don’t understand it, can’t explain it, but heaven’s grace-rain falls-fills to overflowing-as we offer up thanksgiving in all things. Lay anxiety aside, bring everything to heaven’s throne through prayer and thanksgiving, Paul says, and inexplicable peace will flow (Philippians 4:6-7).

Heaven’s song is thanksgiving. Always thanksgiving. Unleash it today, like a little child. Offer it up as a sacrifice of praise and let heaven’s rain overflow in an uninhibited soul celebration!

Fighting Back with Thanksgiving

by Mike McKinniss

Anthony_van_Dyck,_An_Apostle_with_Folded_HandsTaking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Luke 9:16

In some of my circles there is a fair amount of talk about spiritual warfare. We cast out this evil spirit. We unearth that bitter root. We declare victory in this struggle. And we claim promises in that battle. If you don’t keep your head, things can get a little out of hand, looking for demons under every rock.

Don’t get me wrong—spiritual warfare is very real. If anything, today’s Western church has swallowed far too much of the Enlightenment’s Kool-Aid. We can’t have our cake and still gulp it down. That is, we can’t take the Bible seriously regarding God and the Holy Spirit, while dismissing its talk of angels and demons and the devil. Sorry.

But spiritual warfare. Yes, it is real. There really are spiritual beings out there that have a very real impact on events in our world. And we human beings, especially now that all authority in heaven and earth belongs to our King (Matt. 28:18), have a real say in what happens to those spiritual beings. (By the way, if you’re interested in a very real discussion of this subject, without the cuckoo stuff, you could do no better than two volumes by Gregory A. Boyd: God at War and Satan and the Problem of Evil.)

Occasionally I’m asked for techniques in spiritual warfare. How do we flank the enemy? How do we remain hidden until we’re ready to launch our sneak attack? How do we finally convince God to join the fight we’ve picked?

I have no idea. And if we think we have to convince the Creator to bring reconciliation to his whole creation, we’ve got the wrong idea to begin with.

But I am discovering this one handy little weapon: Gratitude.

One of the single most powerful forces in the universe is giving thanks for God’s character and what he has already done, especially when everything in us wants to fixate on the things that have yet to be won.

It is hard—very hard—to maintain some kind of positive demeanor when you are desperate for some kind of breakthrough, but have yet to see even an inch of progress. It is easy—almost natural—to tumble into despair when we’ve yet to glimpse a change in a situation we care about.

Your daughter has defiantly walked away from the Lord. You’ve been praying for months on her behalf. But all that’s come of it, as far as you can tell, is still more rebellion and a roll of her eyes whenever you bring it up. A new utterly secular family has moved in next door. You’ve been praying for months about the influence they might have on your son. But their elaborate and garish Halloween decorations remain littered about their front lawn.

Spiraling toward despondency is a real temptation that must be avoided, for it is the one sure way to lose that battle.

Concentrating, instead, on the things you know and have already seen props you up to maintain the effort. You must maintain your gratitude, always, that Christ has died for your daughter, whether she sees it or not. You must find godly things about your neighbors (trust me there’s something) and thank God that they exhibit that aspect of his nature, whether, again, they know it or not.

I can’t say I know how it works, exactly, but real gratitude cuts through even the thickest armor and, just as important, keeps us standing squarely on two feet.

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