Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Esther - A Woman of Strength and Dignity by Charles Swindoll

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Isaiah 40:31.
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
So it was very interesting to read how Swindoll applied this verse to the story of Esther. He writes:
“Between chapters 4 and 5 of this ancient Book of Esther, I find nothing but white space in my Bible, as I’m sure there is in yours. It’s a break in time. It’s a space of suspense when we don’t know what is happening . Nothing is recorded for us to read. We left Esther just as she had sent word to Mordecai that she was going to enter the king’s presence uninvited, which could mean her instant death. Then there is a grand pause, and we pick up the story again at the moment, three days later, when Esther is preparing to walk into the presence of the king, not knowing what the future holds.”
What we do know from the story is that during this “white space” of three days, Esther was at work preparing for her visit to the king. Her plan was to fast and to pray. She even asked Mordecai to assemble all the Jews and have them fast as well. These are three very important days for her.

Here is where Swindoll brings in Isaiah 40:31.

“During a waiting period, God is not only working in our hearts, He’s working in others’ hearts. And all the while He is giving added strength. Remember Isaiah’s words about waiting? From this verse we learn that four things happen when we wait.”

“First, we gain new strength.”

“Second, we get a better perspective

“Third, we store up extra energy

“Fourth, we will deepen our determination to persevere.”

Swindoll concludes, “Because of this interlude with God, Esther is able to approach the moment of truth – to step into the presence of the king – calmly and wisely and confidently.”

Isn’t that the way we want to face our moments of truth; calmly, wisely and confidently? We can, we are promised, if we take time to “wait for the Lord”.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Much Better than Farmville!

I admit I've been having my fun farming in Farmville.  It seems to satisfy a need to plow, plant and harvest; one that hasn't been satisfied since we moved out of our home and into a townhouse.  I've never been an avid gardener but I did enjoy putzing with my flower garden (which Jim built and my dad designed).  Planting and placing a pot of flowers is just not the same as really digging in the dirt.

But yesterday was different.   We were given the opportunity to really garden!  Dad officially turned over his two tiered flower garden (and his old antique trowel) to Jim and I to care for.  At age 90, Dad decided he was ready to simply enjoy the garden - not work it.   And so with great enthusiasm Jim and I dug in yesterday; first spending the morning roaming the garden centers for a mass of annuals and then spending the rest of the day planting, moving, weeding and watering.  It was the most fun I've had in ages.  Today will be round two (even though my body is protesting just a bit)!


Monday, June 28, 2010

Morning Coffee

13 he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" 
Esther 4: 13-14

And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

I love this verse.  Who knows why we are where we are - but more than likely it is because of  "a time such as this."

A good thought to carry into the day!


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garage Sale Bargain!

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Esther - A Woman of Strength and Dignity by Charles Swindoll

15 When the turn came for Esther (the girl Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king's eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. Esther 2:15

Esther had been chosen to be one of the many women in the king’s harem; the harem from which he would select his next queen. Therefore she had at her disposal anything, anything, she wanted in order to make herself more appealing to King Ahasuerus. Jewelry, clothing, perfumes, food and drink – no request denied; no limits set.

Yet as Swindoll writes: “She does not succumb to the temptation around her – the superficiality, the selfishness, the seduction, the self-centeredness. She displays an unselfish modesty, an authenticity, amid unparalleled extravagance.”

And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her.

Just imagine how easy it would have been for this young woman to have become wrapped up in and swallowed by the harem culture of overindulgence; how easy for this poor displaced Jewish girl to relish in this new lavish lifestyle and forget her purpose.

Esther was surely a woman of strength!


Friday, June 25, 2010

Morning Coffee

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time. ~John Lubbock
I think I'll pour another cup of coffee and watch the pond some more.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Family Traditions

Yesterday Noah had the opportunity to help his Grandpa while learning a little more about his Great Grandpa and Grandma Meyer.  He took his job very seriously.

It was a beautiful day!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"God's Mill Grinds Slow, But Sure" - G. Herbert

Recently I began to read Charles Swindoll’s book, Esther - A Woman of Strength and Dignity. I thought that an in-depth look at this book of the Bible would be an interesting focus this summer.

I have to admit I am not a good Bible reader. I tend to mentally skip from event to event – skimming over bits of history and connecting verses. Thus I tend to think these Bible stories unfolded at the same pace as I read them: quickly! (No wonder I think God should react to my life’s events at a breakneck speed.)

But the reality is that most of these events recorded in the Bible took place over many years. Swindoll explained that actually four years went by between chapters 1 and 2 of Esther. Four years between the banishment of Vashti and the entry of Esther. And another year of intense preparation before Esther was formally presented to the King.  Esther was not exactly an overnight phenomenon.

Swindoll summed this up perfectly:
“We tend to think that if God is really engaged, He will change things within the next hour or so. Certainly by sundown. Absolutely by the end of the week. But God is not a slave to the human clock. Compared to the works of mankind, He is extremely deliberate and painfully slow. As religious poet George Herbert wisely penned, ‘God’s mill grinds slow, but sure.’”
I’m beginning to understand this lesson, slowly but surely!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In Perfect Harmony!

This morning I finished reading of The Reflective Life by Ken Gire. This was a helpful and inspiring book for me; I found lots to digest and apply to my daily life. I also really enjoyed Gire’s lyrical writing style. I especially thought his final chapter – The Harvest of the Reflective Life – was beautifully expressed.

“When we come together as Christians, united by our love for God and for our neighbor, that is when we will be in harmony with the melody of the Father’s heart.”

“So until Jesus returns, we sing.


“In harmony.

“And when at last He apprears, the most passionate notes we have sung here on earth will seem only the humming of a prelude. And we will discover, some of us maybe for the first time, that the sad and sometimes somber notes of our lives here on earth were in fact the deep, visceral strains of a great, heavenly symphony.”

What a promise! Certainly one to sing about – in harmony!
Enjoy your day and sing, sing, sing!


Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy 90th Birthday Dad!

Happy 90th Birthday, Dad!!

You have always been the perfect example of how to live a full life!  Enjoy your very special day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Morning Thought

“God’s presence is not as intriguing as His absence. His voice is not as eloquent as His silence.”

The first sentence in Esther ~ A Woman of Strength and Dignity by Charles R. Swindoll


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Morning Coffee - And Opportunity!

I’ve been struggling with a personal decision in the past few weeks. I’ve looked at the pros and cons of the situation from almost every angle I can think of; and because of the overly analytical type person I am, I’m still in the throes of that debate. Is this opportunity before me one I should accept.

So this morning this situation became the focus of my devotional time. I prayed for a sign – but then immediately qualified the request acknowledging that maybe “a sign” was more than I should need. Maybe, instead, He could just grant me the wisdom to discern His path for me. Amen!

I ended my prayer and opened my devotions. And read Galatians 6:10

10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (NIV)

There was that word, opportunity!  And a very clear directive from God.  “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good…” 

All of the roadblocks I have created in this decision making have been centered in me; my wants, my feelings, my life. Yet in this verse God is clearly telling me that if I am given an opportunity to do good, there is no alternative.  Take the "me" out of a situation and the path becomes clearer.

So I think I’ll pour another cup of coffee and make plans for my new opportunity!

Enjoy your day, too!


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Regaining the Rhythm of my Life

“If the seeds sown in our heart are truly from heaven, germinated by the Holy Spirit, we should expect at some time to see fruit. And that fruit should look very much like love, smell very much like joy, feel very much like peace, taste very much like patience.”

“The fruit of living a reflective life should be a changed life. The changes should affect not only who we are but how we live, branching from our soul to our schedule.”  

The Reflective Life by Ken Gire

My morning routine has gone through a change in the last few months. And not a change for the better!

I had over the past year developed a rhythm to my time. I would wake up early and begin my day in the quiet of dawn. I made time for coffee, the newspaper, and email – but most importantly, for devotions. And it was during these devotions that my thoughts for a blog message were formed. My blog writing was most often a personal summation of my quiet time; a message or reminder to myself. I had no trouble “thinking” of something to write; because God always had a daily message for me and we would “discuss” it during devotions.

But lately I’ve noticed I have been having trouble entering a daily post on my blog. I feel like I have nothing to write; no feelings to express. I wonder why? Could it be because my devotional time has been hijacked by trivial pursuits? Absolutely!

I faced the fact this morning that I have been skimping on my devotional time; I have been putting other things first and then using the little time left over – if there was any - to talk with God. And it shows. It shows in my blog; it shows in my energy level; and it shows in my spiritual life. I have lost my rhythm.

I used to have this image of Sunday worship as being the bass drum of my life. After a morning spent in worship, I would regain the beat of God. That’s what I have seemed to have lost this past month; the beat of God in my life.

So starting today, my trivial pursuits will regain their proper place in my life: after morning devotions. And the fruit of this reflective time will once again branch from my soul to my schedule and I will feel God's rhythm once again.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Morning Coffee

If we wait upon God, there is no danger. If we rush on, He must let us see the consequences of it. -- John Darby

I know that have seen way too many consequences of not waiting on God.  So this morning I am going to pour another cup of coffee and patiently wait with God.


Monday, June 14, 2010

Life is Good!

Today is “back to routine” day. Our two week “Up North” vacation is over for another year. The mountain of laundry is done and all of our supplies put away.

I love this vacation at the lake; our surroundings are beautiful, our rented cabin sufficient but there is one thing missing that I struggle with each year. There is only limited – and extremely slow – internet access. In light of that I decided to embrace this situation and approach it as an opportunity to disconnect myself from my computer for 15 days – just to see if I could handle it.

Well I’m here to report I couldn’t!! By our second week “in the woods” I found myself sitting in McDonalds in town for longer stretches because I discovered they had high-speed Wi-Fi. We were becoming “regulars” in there – even invited to play bingo with the seniors one morning! Instead of sitting lake-side and reading or meditating, I was camped out in McDonald’s – all because of the internet.

I haven’t decided yet if that is a good thing or not. For now I’m enjoying just being in my own home and having my computer - and the magnificent world it offers me – at my finger-tips.

Life is good!


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Reflective Life by Ken Gire

More inspiration from The Reflective Life by Ken Gire

Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.  For just as the wind carries thousands of invisible and visible winged seeds, so the stream of time brings with it germs of spiritual vitality that come to rest imperceptible in the minds and wills of men.  Most of these unnumbered seeds perish and are lost, because men are not prepared to receive them.   Thomas Merton (Seeds of Contemplation)

I love the thought that there really are no meaningless moments; no wasted happenings in our lives.  As Merton so beautifully tells us each and every moment holds the promise of significance, if we are properly prepared spiritually. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Spiritually Sensitive to Everyday Moments

Our life is not our own property but a possession of God. And it is this divine ownership that makes life a sacred thing.  
Abraham Heschel

While rummaging through a thrift store while on vacation this past week, I found a book called The Reflective LifeBecoming More Spiritually Sensitive to the Everyday Moments of Life - by Ken Gire. The title alone was reason enough for me to purchase it. And while I really haven’t begun to study it in earnest yet, I did skim through the first few pages where I encountered the above quote.

Our life is not our own property but a possession of God. Beginning each day with that perspective in mind will go a long way to help me become more spiritually sensitive to my everyday moments.  And that is my goal.