Children of Zion, rejoice and be glad in the Lord your God, because he gives you the autumn rain for your vindication. He sends showers for you, both autumn and spring rain as before.
~ Joel 2: 23
I spent a few hours in a local park yesterday with my husband and several other poets. The weather was perfect, the company delightful, the poetry freeing. We shared, in the round,poems of faith, of humor, of the seasons, of days gone by, of hope to come. One poet in particular stood and shared a poem that she considered edgy. She read, there were tears, she took a risk. We all celebrated that risk, which opened others to the possibilities. We took a step of faith.
In this environment, with these poets of different backgrounds, we shared our hearts. We understood one another. We listened. God was with us. We stayed past the time we had agreed upon, and it was lovely. It gave me hope in a way that nothing else has in a long time. There we sat, “Jew and Greek” so to speak, sharing our hearts, and hearing one another. There was love in that place.
Today, listen for God in the breezes, in the spray of the sea, in the bend of the grasses, in the song of the cardinal. Listen. To each other. In love. It might get you into difficulties, however, we know that God is with us in those difficulties as He was with the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, He was with Jonah in the whale, He was with Paul on the ship, He was with Mary as she ran from the tomb with amazing news. Love indeed gets people into difficulties. We have God right there with us.
Here’s a little fun music that tells the truth.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa4QSweFQYE
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego
Because of Him,
Summing up: Be agreeable, be sympathetic, be loving, be compassionate, be humble. That goes for all of you, no exceptions. No retaliation. No sharp-tongued sarcasm. Instead, bless—that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing.
~ 1 Peter 3:8
We are now in a struggle for the soul of the 21st century. ~ Bill Clinton
I chose the quote I chose today because I agree with it. When I read the name beneath the quote, my mind went to accusations, indiscretions. The Lord stopped me in my tracks. And showed me King David. King David who had God’s own heart. It was so easy to judge a person that I have never met, and reject their words, hands down. However, I still agree with those words. President Clinton said those words during the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001. He made the speech at Georgetown University on November 7, 2001. I read the entire speech. I got stopped when I saw the following words : “I would also like to say a special word of thanks to one of my professors, Fr. Otto Hentz, who is here. He never abandoned me for all these years, even though he did not succeed in convincing me to become a Jesuit.” That stopped me. Cold. I really had not considered that the former President had ever considered serving God in that way. The rest of the speech, I kept looking for other references to God. I found no other references. There was much I did not see the same way as Bill Clinton, but in this time, nearly twenty years later, I feel the pain of 9/11. I pray for our children, our teachers, our government, our citizens and all their jobs that serve the soul. I agree that we are in a struggle for the soul of the 21st century, for humanity, for America.
Our war on terror, our war on unkindness, and our war on all that brings harm to our children must be waged on our knees. We must pray. We must pray every single day for people we see, for people we will never see, for those we agree with, for those we did not and might never agree with. When I would come home from school, hurt by someone, my dad would remind me that God loved them just as much as God loved me. At the time, it made me angry. Now I get it. As my friend Samantha says as we discuss world concerns, (and I am paraphrasing here,) “When I spoke with that person, they said something about ____. I made a decision to love, and to not get in the ring over that issue.”
Today, I decided to love. Decided not to throw down a gauntlet, or, more importantly, not to pick one up. Bless others. and pray. Pray as if our souls depended on it. They do.
Love Keeps Our Broken Pieces All Together
Because of Him,
“Because a loveless world,” said Jesus, “is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me.
~ John 14:23 (The Message)
This past Friday, our younger daughter got married. The Spirit of the Lord was so present at every single step of this amazing journey. Relationships were strengthened, people were brought together for an incredible celebration of love that our daughter and her (then) fiance’, designed with our pastor. It incorporated elements from both of their faith traditions. The scriptures chosen were beautiful and held deep meaning for us as a family. The music was different and fit perfectly. The musicians were incredible harpists and organist, friends, amazing. Blessed and a blessing. I cannot say enough about how incredible this celebration of love bloomed, a beautiful bouquet of God’s making.
The weeks leading up to the wedding were full of surprises, challenges, cancellations. And, as we experienced with everything in this unique time in history, the people that were supposed to be there were there. So many answered prayers, so much harmony, so much love, so much unbridled joy.
I was privileged to be asked, along with the father of the groom, to be one of the readers at the ceremony. The scripture I was assigned was Proverbs 31:10-31 (The Capable Wife). It was the scripture that my husband used in our courtship to measure where I weighed in on the role. It was the scripture I read at my Aunt’s funeral service. It is a life goal. With each verse, I saw different elements of our beautiful daughter’s gifts, and those of the women of our family.
The father of the groom was asked to read Ephesians 5:25-33. It begins “Husbands, love your wives…” and ends with wives, respect your husband.” These scriptures were delivered with smiles and tears. I saw the way that my new son-in-law already puts this scripture into action and I was so moved. In short, it was a love fest in the deepest sense. The reception was no different. So much love, no assigned seating, no traditional dancing, cake cutting, or cake. A beautiful backyard reception full of love and laughter. Another miracle. The breakfast with family the next morning (which is traditional in my husband’s family,) was just as much of a miracle. Relationships healing, love at the foundation, love triumphant.
As your day progresses when you read this, look for the love, allow it to wash over you, welcome God into your neighborhood heart and home. The result will be nothing short of a miracle.
Fly Me to the Moon – Imagine this, twin harps, not so jazzy as part of the pre-wedding music!
Because of Him,
If I say, “My foot is slipping, your faithful love will support me, Lord. When I am filled with cares, your comfort brings me joy ~ Psalm 94:18-19
Hawaiian War Chant (the melody)
My father was so much fun. My mother was so quiet. Regularly, mom played records on our stereo. And often that stack contained Hawaiian music. On rare occasions, the Hawaiian War Chant and my father were in the same room. Inspiration would hit, and dad would pound his chest, take a stance and call out like a Hawaiian Warrior. He would dance. He would dance like a warrior, even though he would elicit smiles from his family.
The Warrior Dance and it’s story.
Folks, we are in a war for the soul of our Nation, for the souls of those in captivity, for the well, the sick, the dying, the living. Fear is being fanned like a flame in a snowstorm at a campsite. We must lean into the Jesus Christ, read the gospel and reflect on the teaching we have been given, LIVE into the love we’ve been given, and trust in the One who holds tomorrow.
I know who holds tomorrow. – Allison Kraus
Because of Him,
With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God.
~ 2 Corinthians 7:1
“There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”
I think I told you all about my friend who told me that we must be unoffendable. If we are offendable, we give Satan a foothold. We make a place to build. Build up resentment.In this season of wedding preparations at our house, there are enough emotional gnats for a small community. I started thinking that there must be a song for that.And all I could hear was Nat King Cole singing, my lyrics “Unoffendable.” So, my dear brothers and sisters, here is the karaoke track for Unforgettable.All together now…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92adhwPPf4AKaraoke for Unforgettable
with apologies to Gordon Irving
Unoffendable, in every way.
not up-endable, no matter what they say
Give your scars so deep, incredible
so you won’t’ do the incompetible
to the One who loves unforgettable you.
Unoffendable, we should so be
unoffendable, for eternity
Let his song of love so cling to you
no other thing can hurt now bring to you
Remember, He loves unforgettable you.
by Linda T. Dickman 2021
Let all that stuff roll off of you, onto the Savior who will replace it with love. And I will sing along with you as I do the same.
We have no room to do anything but love. Let the Lord lift you over the wave of hurt, the cliffs of resentment, the shores of pain.
Because of Him,
“If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.”
~ Clarence Darrow
Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies?[a] Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. 7 Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
~ Luke 12:6-7
I have heard many a Christian laugh when they read this scripture, as they are either losing their hair on their head, or completely bald. I know that God knows where every hair is, where they have been swept up from the floors of hairdressing salons, where they are disposed of. I know that hair was used during the second world war, the hair of Jewish and non Jewish prisoners to make various items and prized as trophies, I know that hair is donated by many for Locks of Love, to help people who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments. I have seen an art exhibit where the hair of an artist and her husband were used in the making of their art. The Lord knows where all of it is, each strand, each clipping, each braid that was saved for the sake of family history.
The hair that comes to mind in scripture is Mary’s (Magdalene) hair. The hair with which she washed the feet of Jesus, after breaking the alabaster box. She extended herself by using her hair and precious ointment to anoint the Lord before his trial and crucifixion. Anointing his body after the crucifixion was not possible as his body was GONE. Mary had extended herself by using her hair. She did it when she could, she did it when she was moved to do it, she did not put it off.
Jesus died six days after this anointing.
I heard a sermon that used this example of Mary’s hair and her expedience to use it for Jesus. The minister had talked about arriving for a speaking engagement, his hair in a mess. He needed some “product” and found some in the airport. He took it into the restroom, shaped his hair, and sprayed it. He thought it smelled funny, but was in no position to dally. When he got to the church, his wife noticed that his hair smelled funny. It was then that he realized he had picked up the air freshener in the bathroom and NOT the hair product! He had a good laugh over that, and I hope you smiled. It was embarrassing for him, but God used it in the sermon to talk about the way Mary extended herself for Jesus by using her hair. Today, think about yourself as a hair extension, or an “heir” extension. Bless someone’s life in a surprising way. Let God weave that into your story.
Because of Him,
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. ~ James 1:22
It is a hard lesson to laugh at oneself. It involves perspective, honesty, the power to observe oneself and then reflect on that honestly. Not an easy enterprise on a good day. And combined with the entreatment to be a good listener and to act on what one hears is also a difficult path to walk. There is a scene in It’s a Wonderful Life where George Bailey decides to go for a walk. His mother tells him to go to Mary’s house and he walks off in that direction and then walks off in the other direction entirely. And he still ends up walking back and forth in front of Mary’s house. He does what he is told but does it his own way and is in denial the whole time. ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGLeMdlYN60)
In case you want to see the end result.)He is in denial that he wants to be there, he doesn’t know that his mother had already called and prepared the way for him, he goes in reluctantly, he is completely resistant to what his heart is telling him, what his mother and Mary already know, that he loves her. Just before he embraces her he tells her that he wants to do things his way and doesn’t ever want to get married. And before you know it, there they are, coming down from being married and getting ready to go on their honeymoon.
George listened but resisted. Let his mother’s advice go in one ear and out the other… yet he still ended up at Mary’s house and ultimately they got married and stayed in Bedford Falls. I am sure that they must have had a good chuckle about that whole scene in years to come. George came to terms with what he knew he should do, and did it. He faced his reality fighting it the whole way, and ended up serving the town he lived in, was shown what it had been like had he not been born, and was dubbed “the richest man in town.”
I do not know what God is calling you to do, I do not know what you have resisted for so long because of this or that or the other thing. I do know that once you listen, truly listen and take that step forth in faith, there will be cause for celebration and at some point, laughter when you testify to the greatness of what God has done.No matter how far you have fallen, no matter what lies you have believed. God is just waiting for you to get to the “house.” Get ready to laugh!
Look What You’ve Done
Because of Him,
This is a challenging time. There are no platitudes for this, no explaining it away. It is challenging. So much is being challenged. So much is being questioned.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
No matter what you are hearing in the news, on social media, in the blogs, vlogs
emails you get, God’s words will not pass away. Our pastor entreated us, challenged us to find ten minutes a day to pray. She invited us to spend five minutes telling God what is going on in our lives, and give minutes to listening to God. I would like you to consider adding another five for praising God.
One way to do this is to write it down. Don’t rely on your mind alone, it will wander. But if you keep a journal, it helps. You can write your prayers, your concerns, your praise, and have a record. You can see how God answers your prayers, and how you are being taught and schooled by faith in this practice. I would also encourage you to pray for one group of believers a day. The Voice of the martyrs has a calendar that is a great tool for guiding our prayers for the persecuted church. https://busites_www.s3.amazonaws.com/lproofblog/2021/06/VOM-scaled.jpgFor me, it makes the people of that country, the believers of that country take on a more personal focus. We can touch living souls through prayer as well as in person.
Today, pray for China, for front line workers seeking to serve persecuted believers. It will also build your faith muscles, that you might stand against persecution. You don’t have to buy a new journal, use an old notebook, or a book you bought to do a Bible Study. Just start praising God with your pen and your voice. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdaa81HViqA) Hear Our Prayer)Just open the dialogue.
Because of Him,
“It is all right to copy what you see, but it is much better to draw what you can no longer see except through your memory. This is a transformation in which imagination collaborates with memory. All you reproduce is what struck you.” ~ Edgar Degas
Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be afraid, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you; I will help you;
I will hold on to you with my righteous right hand.
~ Isaiah 41:10
Fear. It is real. It can cripple, paralyze, stop, push, pull. When a friend of mine called me and told me that her ex-husband had changed his ways and wanted to try again, she asked me what I thought. This couple, one I had prayed for, one I had feared for, one whose children I had taught, was looking to get back together. When my friend asked me what I thought, I felt a quickening in the Spirit.I opened my mouth and said, “Either we believe this stuff or we don’t.” I can believe that God has changed this life. I will believe with you. You know how to keep yourself safe if there is a reason to do so. She saw the man she loved, transformed by the power of prayer, washed clean in the blood of Christ. They are together again, and it is more than a decade later. He lives his faith in love with her every day. The family has been restored. He is head of security for his church, and teaches Sunday School on occasion. He works with local youth to help them stay out of trouble. I believe it. More importantly, she believed and believes it. God took away the fear and restored love.
I had another call recently with regard to another matter, one that is also hard to overcome. I was talking with two octogenarians in a local thrift shop. They wanted to stay open, and their church wanted to close down the shop. The conversation we had was similar, “Either we believe this stuff or we don’t.” The shop closed. I cannot wait to see them again, to see how they fared, but I know the faith they had.
What are you facing today? What struck you in a memory that has transformed you? How has God lead you in that fear? I would love to hear your stories, your faith walk, your transformation. What stuck? What did God do? Don’t forget to properly dress before you go out in faith!
Because of Him,
“Whatever you do, do it with all your might. Work at it, early and late, in season and out of season, not leaving a stone unturned, and never deferring for a single hour that which can be done just as well now.”
~ P.T. Barnum
and on that day you will say,
“Give thanks to the Lord; proclaim his name!
Make his works known among the peoples.
Declare that his name is exalted.
Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”
No matter what else you believe, no matter which “side of the aisle’ has your attention, no matter what ways in which you disagree with your brothers and sisters, love is our only weapon.I have heard it sung, and spoken, and seen it change lives. It is a conscious decision, and sometimes, it has to do with letting the stinging words wash over you and into the hands, eyes, ears of God.I have not fully attained this yet, but a dear friend once told me that I must be unoffendable. It took me a while to take that in. When I am offended personally, I leave myself open to bitterness, self pity, anger, you get the idea.When I give my offense to God, God can change my attitude, my response (instead of my gut feeling or reaction).
I am praying for you today, readers, more than ever, that you, that I can be channels of God’s peace, to unite rather than to divide. You are lights in a dark place always. Just knowing you are out there is a blessing. I have included the Prayer of St. Francis, for your consideration.
Here are the words:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Because of Him,Linda
The Prayer of St. Francis – Angelina