Gathering when you can’t

The coronavirus has changed the world’s habits and closed churches all over the planet—including ours. Spain is basically on lockdown for two weeks, maybe longer.

As I begin this post, my husband and I are listening to a wonderful message. We watched and listened to another online just before this one. It’s Sunday morning.

But, it’s not the same.

We’re at home.

The Bible says, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).

There’s a reason God says we’re supposed to gather. Physically. Fellowship with other Christians. Singing praise to the Lord. Reaching out to non-Christians.

Today, I value that gathering even more—because we can’t.

Plan B just isn’t the same. Watching and listening to messages is good. There’s nothing wrong with it at all, especially in order to protect our congregations. The Bible’s clear, also, that we should obey the government where we live, and it has decreed that everyone should stay at home and no one should congregate. We are fine with this for two or more weeks and are thankful it isn’t this way all the time.

One advantage of streaming messages is that people who don’t personally know the Lord are listening to church services. I read a note this morning from a lady who had tuned in. You never know how the Lord might use this hiatus.

And, maybe, it will teach us to value even more highly the vital assembling of God’s people.

We read of the early church, And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved (Acts 2:46-47).

May the Lord add to ours, too. The live-streamed evening service begins in a few minutes. We will “be there.”

How about you? How Is your church dealing with this sudden change?

Wack-o mom

I am a wack-o mom. Just ask my kids. They’ll wholeheartedly agree.

Part of my crazy momness was what I least enjoyed—saying no. I said no to my kids about: outings, participating in sports teams, reading a few of the available books, “real” card games (like Poker), and a few movies. Do I regret it? Not one bit. I would’ve said no to cell phones, but we had flip phones back then. I still have one. See? I told you I was wacky.

I also kept track of their movements—usually traveling with them and driving the car. If they were terribly embarrassed that Mama was with them, they never showed it.

We homeschooled. That fact, all by itself, is reason to dub me wacky. But, believe me, homeschooling didn’t give me one of my gray hairs. It was the ride into church on Wednesday nights, during rush hour.

I always have fun. My jollies come from people, walks in the woods, visiting new and different places, eating ice cream, pondering architecture, music, photography, and a myriad of other delights. I enjoy life big time, laughing a lot, and sometimes even dancing all by myself in the kitchen.

Wack-o. I know it.

No one enjoys life more than I do. They don’t see the beauty, smell the roses, and rejoice in the way trees sway like I do.

But, my deep, abiding joy is the Lord.

He’s the why of my happiness. He’s also the reason I notice the little things others may miss. I look for beauty.

Jesus said, I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10b). That abundant life begins with salvation in Jesus. I truly believe it increases the quality of life. Paul admonished Timothy, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6:17).

Because of salvation we can have deep joy. The psalmist said and Luke quotes, Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance (Acts 2:26, 28).

Being a Christian has never meant joyless, prunish, always sad-faced “piety.” Instead, it means a life of joy and praise.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness (Psalm 150:1-2).

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice (Philippians 4:4).

C. S. Lewis once said, “When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.”

Maybe that’s me.

So, call me a wack-o mom. I don’t care.

Are you wack-o, too? Feel free to share your wacky joys.

Women of the Bible 16: Who am I?

Men took charge of me, because I have a gift. They take me around, so that I can tell people’s fortunes. We go into market places, set up a little booth, and they charge money for my services. The men are happy with me, because I am good at the theater of it, convincing. I can read people, and the weird thing is, my predictions come true. So, people come back, and they tell their friends. I make a lot of money, but my handlers take it all.

What do I get? Voices, nightly visions, torments, daily abuse, and slavery.

My gift is a curse.

Even though something I cannot name torments me, I am drawn to follow a group of people. Their leader calls himself an apostle, and he has a doctor with him. I can’t help myself; I know something and I scream out, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.

I shriek after them many days. Even though what I say is true, the leader is troubled. He understands it’s a demon speaking and addresses the evil spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.

That same hour, I am free.

My gift is gone.

I have peace.  

Unfortunately, my masters notice the immediate change in me. They cannot exploit me as before. I am of no value to them. My handlers capture my liberators, bring them into the marketplace before the magistrates and say, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.

And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. When they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

I feel so sad for those men. They recognized evil and now, they suffer because they helped me. After calling upon Jesus to free me, they’re prisoners themselves.

“God, please free these men. They did nothing to deserve this. And Lord, thank you. I plan to sleep well tonight, back in my father’s home, in my own bed. From today forward, I want to serve You.”

Who am I?

In which book of the Bible do you find my story? (Hint: the doctor wrote it.)

Who were the two men who were beaten and put into prison?

Did God free them?

If so, how?

Thoughts on Jesus’ model prayer

The Lord’s Prayer provides a model, and I hadn’t looked at parts of it the way I do now.

As we know, prayer is communication with God. It involves petition, praise, sharing, baring the heart, pleading, groaning, interceding for others, and more. Prayer also involves listening to what the Lord has to say. Prayer is supposed to be two-way communication. Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah (Psalm 4:4). I personally like the word “communion” for prayer. It’s us sharing with God and God sharing with us.

God’s part includes Jesus interceding for us and the Holy Spirit interpreting our prayers to God the Father. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered (Romans 8:26).

He also provides guidance. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5). I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye (Psalm 32:8).

Let’s look at the Lord’s Prayer again, and examine the “new” concepts in it. Jesus is speaking to His disciples: After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).

How many times do we think about God the Father, His name, and His kingdom? I don’t know about you, but I usually crank up my prayer time with talking and asking instead of meditating on God Himself. I confess I’ve seldom prayed for His kingdom to come. How about you?

Thy will be done. I read a book about a grandmother known for her effective praying. One of the things she did was make sure she first knew God’s will about the object of prayer and then pray for that. (You can read my review of that book, here.) God still wants His will done in the earth.

It is so easy to throw up our hands when we see all the sinfulness around us: amorality, secularism, and many people who never consider God. But, look at the Lord’s model prayer: Thy will be done in the earth, as it is in heaven. That’s the way we’re supposed to pray. Looking toward perfection—heaven—and sinlessness, we’re supposed to pray for the world that way.

The truth is, God’s divine purposes will happen. They’re already programmed, and we’re instructed by God Himself to pray for God’s will on earth, just like it’s done in heaven. We look forward to Jesus’ reign and ultimately, the New Jerusalem when we pray this way.

The first petition comes next: Give us this day our daily bread. I’ve always found this fascinating. It’s not, “Give us this day a new pair of shoes, or a nice, new house.” It is the practical human need for food. It isn’t steak, fruit, or a salad, either. It’s basic: bread. The Lord promises to meet our need. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). The Bible says we’re supposed to learn contentment and to be satisfied with two needs met: And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (1 Timothy 6:8). I think it’s worth pointing out that it doesn’t mention a roof over one’s head. Consider Jesus. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head (Luke 9:58).

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. At first, this language may seem to be about business debts and transactions, but the Lord makes it very clear after the amen that it’s about forgiving—those hurts, slights, and words, as well as actual crimes against us. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15). God’s daily forgiveness after salvation is contingent on our forgiving others.

As far as I can tell, this forgiveness doesn’t have to be only if the offending person has asked for forgiveness—although that’s ideal. We are to forgive in obedience to the Lord. Just do it.

Some people say, “forgive and forget.” That, too, is an ideal. It’s great when you can actually forgive and never think about that offense again. I believe it’s possible in most cases. But, there are some awful hurts that we bear from time to time, and those are difficult to forget. Some hurts are like scratches. They heal easily and are soon forgotten. Others are like stab wounds. They hit nerves and cause scars. Those are hard to completely forget.

I would love to be more like God, who has put our sins away forever. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12). He has a very good forgetter. Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Hebrews 8:12b).

Let’s make forgiving others a regular part of our prayers.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Now, we know that God doesn’t lead anyone into temptation. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man (James 1:13). I believe this is speaking of asking for God’s protection from temptation and deliverance from evil and harm.

God protects His people, according to His will. I am not sure how this works, but we indeed have “guardian angels.” For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways (Psalm 91:11). This verse from Psalms is quoted two times in the New Testament, also. I’m not sure we always know when we’ve had divine protection, but the fact is, we do.

Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Jesus’ model prayer ends reflecting the beginning—acknowledging God’s power and glory and His kingdom, which is to come. It also speaks of God’s eternal authority over man.  

Amen. Let it be so.


What’s going on with eyebrows? I chuckle to myself.

I grew up in the ’60s when eyebrows were drawn on. At that time, even platinum blonds had perfect brown brows.

In the ’70s, eyebrows were all over the place. Actually, they were still on women’s faces, but they were everything from wire-thin to tadpole to the unibrow. Brows weren’t the thing; hair was. All those gorgeous girls with poofs and wings and layers had whichever brows they preferred, though most started just above the inside corners of one’s eyes.

Around the year 2000, eyebrows got mega cleaned up—even for men. I think Japanese men started the trend, but metrosexuals like David Beckham made it look cool to be groomed. All of a sudden, crazy brows were nowhere to be seen. No one had anything sprouting above his nose.

Since around five years ago, it seems like the Middle East has dictated brow fashion. Brows are once again drawn, tattoed, and perfect—and they are so close to the bridge of the nose that some approximate unibrows. They curve downwards at the outsides for the first time since Harlow and Hayworth. Semi-circle brows and full, flat angry ones are the all the rage. Pun intended.

What next, you ask? My prophecy is that the inevitable will happen. It always does in fashion. We’ll soon be back to thin lines and tadpoles. Every forty years, fashion comes around to what it was—maybe slightly different—and makeup does the same. If you don’t believe me, notice that all the CNN ladies have been wearing flesh-colored lipstick since January. 1980 has returned.

The same thing happens in Bible-believing circles. These cycles also take something like forty years. The battles—unfortunately, there is always a religious battle—come around again. What was fashionable to argue back when I was in college has become fashionable again, only this time with a slightly different result. Like eyebrows.

Doctrine is important, don’t get me wrong. The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy, Give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee (1 Timothy 4:13b, 16).

I’m talking about infighting about preferences, interpretations, and contending about issues that didn’t even exist in the New Testament.

Years ago, a person who attended our church was open with the pastor (my husband) that he held a different view about future events in Scripture. My husband replied, “We are fine with you if you are fine with us.” A fight wasn’t necessary. My husband could have debated his position on prophecy until he was blue in the face, and it wouldn’t have helped. This person was decided on his own interpretation. No fight was necessary. Keeping the unity in the faith is more important than our positions.

As Christians, our purpose on earth is clear: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:6).

When we seek for unity instead of divisiveness, when we seek to get along, even when we don’t dot our i’s and cross our t’s in the same way, we have more of the mind of Christ.

Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel (Philippians 1:27).

Yes, doctrine is important. We should stand without apology for the foundational doctrines. But, the unity of Christians of the same mind and striving together will go a lot further in spreading the gospel than backstabbing and infighting.

What does this have to do with eyebrows? Fashions come and go. The whole eyebrow thing is silly. Battling over religious issues that make little difference is also silly. Those battles come and go.

Wear your eyebrows as you wish.

In biblical practice, be strong on doctrine and non-contentious about the small stuff.

Strive for unity in the Spirit.

And, in my opinion, you can forget the unibrow.