KNEE DEEP ~ in the 23rd Psalm


A path sunny

The Living-Word jumped out at me in a way I’d not seen before.

The 23rd Psalm has been my go-to for perhaps twenty-five years. That would be since I was saved. In that time, I’ve always thought ‘paths of righteousness’ would look something like this lovely photo. I thought those paths would have been put there by God for me to follow and they’d have sunlight and birds singing.

Today the words ‘paths of righteousness’ jumped out at me in a new way. They became living words, or rhama words. That is specific words from the Lord that sort of explode in a person’s consciousness and have special meaning. This is something that can happen to any believer, every believer. I think it most often happens during private devotions when reading and meditating in Holy Scripture, or some other devotional literature, or when deeply listening to worship music.

A path trees

Today I saw ‘paths of righteousness’ as paths other Christians have walked, perhaps even blazed…and I have followed in those paths where these righteous brothers and sisters have trodden. They may not always be bucolic paths where songbirds flit here and there filling the air with their song. Those paths could have hills, bumps, ruts, places where stalwart believers stumbled and got up again, places where the enemy lay in wait.

I got saved during a time of conflict in my husband’s family. Neither he nor I came from an idyllic Christian home where hymns were sung and where family members prayed together. This particular Sunday there was a huge and tumultuous family commotion, mostly in the kitchen. People had been running in and out of the house. Voices had been raised. I retreated to the living room to get away from it, started surfing channels, and found Gloria Copeland. She was smart, obviously extremely well versed in the Bible, and she didn’t have big hair. At the end of the program, I put my hands on the television and gave my life to the Lord. That was twenty-five years ago.

So, this morning, I’m thinking who blazed those paths for me? At that time, I didn’t know anything about Christian churches. I kept watching Christian TV and came under Kenneth Copeland Ministries. Kenneth and Gloria have had the greatest influence upon me in my walk with God. They are my parents in the faith. I soon bumped into a local woman who was under their ministry. Lillian and I began sharing cassette and video tapes (the dark-ages of audio and video). I’d go to her house and she’d come to mine, and we’d be so excited about the Lord.

Very soon, I learned that Oral Roberts was Kenneth’s father in the faith and I began listening to Oral Robert’s Ministry teachings. Of course the prime message at ORM is “God is a good.” And Oral always said, “Something good is going to happen to you today.” I took a course in the Holy Spirit from ORM and received a certificate. In those days, they sent you the lessons by snail mail. You returned your answers by mail, and they sent the corrected lesions back to you. Well, we’re talking 24-25 years ago. So, Oral Roberts became my grandfather in the faith.

I wish I could say there was a local minister/ministry, in that time, that blazed a path for me, but I can’t. I lived in an area where almost all of the charismatic churches had had church-splits and none of them had recovered from that. So, Christian television became my lifeline.  I met another woman who believed the Word as I did and Theresa and I also began sharing and praying together. She and I became volunteers in the Protestant Chaplain’s Office at the local Veteran’s Hospital and attended Sunday services there. We also attended a weekly Bible study and a weekly prayer group there.

Back to trail blazers. I soon found Joyce Meyer, who to me is the Mother of Independent Women of Faith. I particularly liked her practical preaching because she didn’t come from a wonderfully serene Christian home. She came from a nonChristian home with turmoil. I said, okay, I can relate to that.  I was then, and still am now, the only member of my immediate family and almost the only member of my large extended family who knows the Lord. My cousin and his wife on the other side of the county are believing Christians, and I am in contact with them electronically.

Today, I live in northeast coastal Florida where I attend Destiny Church. I’m waiting for the church to reopen from Covid 19. I so want to “do church” again.

Who are your spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith? Whose footsteps have you followed? Who has helped to shape your faith?

Psalm 23 ~ my go to

A war room

Table Service

Psalm 23 has been my Scripture since I was saved. However, in the last month it has become a ‘super-Scripture’ to me. I usually read it aloud every morning.
I’ve had the awareness before that the ‘table’ He prepares before my enemies was a table for two (me and the Holy Spirit). In the past, I’ve seen it as a banquet. Holy Spirit and I are relaxing and dining in the presence of my enemies (spiritual enemies).
Today I saw it differently. It’s still a table for two, Holy Spirit and me. However, now it’s a ‘war table’ where battle plans are drawn up and later executed. The Holy Spirit is the commanding general.  The battle is the Lord’s. My job is to stand in faith, to stand on Scripture. And, the enemies are still spiritual enemies, wicked spirits.  Praise the Lord for this personal revelation at this time in my life. God is good.

Waking Up With My ‘Roomie’ Sophie ~ and being a blessing

A Sophie

This is the day that the Lord has made;
 let us rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24 [English Standard Version, ESV]

 

During this Cornona Virus pandemic, I was diagnosed with a health issue. I’m in the “vulnerable group” even without a health issue. You’d think Covid19 would be a time when I’d be totally secluded.  First one of my senior cats needed life saving surgery. That required three visits to the vet. When I paid the bill, that was my contribution to a local small business.

Then there were the weekly visits to the supermarket. My senior care medical office referred me to a specialist and I went into the hospital. So there were trips back-and-forth to doctors and to-and-from the hospital. I was one busy lady.  Through all of this my friends, neighbors, and my animals (Sophie and 5 cats) were such a blessing to me. Those who live with animals know they are keenly aware if the mistress of the house is not up to snuff. This is especially true of dogs. Sophie is 14 years old and 90% blind and she has been trying as best she can to take care of me.

In the midst of all this, I’d been asking the Lord for a way to bless somebody. Not so easy when you’re shut-in.

An aside: It so happened years ago when I lived in NYC, my husband and I bought a bicycle for our youngest daughter’s birthday. She had just finished 8th grade with good grades. I took her to the bicycle store and she picked out a candy pink wide-tired bike with a detachable bright-white basket  and a large bright-white bell. Of course, in September she went into 9th grade she became much too grown up to ride a candy pink bike. So, after not even a complete summer of use the bike sat in our garage. I brought it with me to Florida and I rode it…maybe four times in four years. It still looked brand new.

So, my friend (the lady across the parking lot in my condo complex who loves animals as much as I do and has watched mine when I’m away), told me her daughter called and mentioned she wants to get a bike to ride to the supermarket. A lot of people ride bikes in northeastern coastal Florida, especially for short trips. This was my blessing to give. My friend was so happy. She said her daughter talked about getting a baby seat to attach to the back of a bike so she could take her baby out riding. I gave her the bike and it really blessed me to do so.

not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. ~ 1 Peter 3:9 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

 

 

 

 

Destiny Church Baptisms ~ Jacksonville

Destiniy Bapt 2.20
Lead Pastor Chris  Tomlinson w/2 two young women to be baptized

80 Degrees in the Sun in February

Still both young women commented the water was incredibly cold. Well we are Floridians. We enjoy heated pools.

Destiny Bapt 2

The first young lady to take the plunge. “Hold your nose!”

…the church photographer in the foreground

Destiny Bapt 3 2.20

When the second young woman was baptized the pastor comment on how nice it was she was wearing white. This is a reference to the first century Christian baptisms when new Christians who were making this public commitment wore white.

…church photographer kneeling in foreground

What a happy occasion. I enjoyed this ceremony tremendously. Destiny Church begins a 21-day fast tomorrow. There are many kinds of fasts (limited food, giving up sweets, giving up internet, etc.).

Destiny Church of Jacksonville | 9525 Philips Hwy Jacksonville, FL 32256 | 904-401-1334

Sunday Service: 10:0 am

Good Thoughts – Good Memories ~ in 2020

2020 photo

What Are You Thinking On?

My mother had severe juvenile diabetes (type 1) in a time when the disease was a death sentence and insulin was a very new medical treatment. She grew up in the Ukrainian immigrant community where, at that time, there was tremendous fear of injections. My grandparents bravely decided that she should have insulin and she lived. Not only did she live, she married my father, had two children, and had a life. However, she was an exceedingly negative person all of her life. As a child, I didn’t understand her struggle, and I found her constant negativity painful. Despite my mother’s untreated chronic depression, she was a decent and ethical person who tried really hard to live her life and have a family. I understand that now, as an adult and how I think of her has changed a great deal. I now see her in a much more positive light without denying her faults.

My father was pragmatic, unemotional, bookish, and often withdrawn. But he could be very funny and for me that was some relief from the darkness of talking about every thing that was wrong or was about to go wrong.

I took after my dad in a lot of ways. I found refuge in books, and I’d make a joke out of whatever was upsetting and dysfunctional. That was when I was around other people. In private, I was more like my mom, focused excessively on the painful and the negative.

It wasn’t until my mid-forties that I first heard teaching on renewing of the mind and the importance of focusing on the lovely and the good. And by that time, I had  focused on the unlovely, the broken, and the sad so much, that I hardly had any good memories from my childhood, and even from my adult life. They’d all been overshadowed and buried by my rehashing of all the dark and negative moments.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. ~ Philippians 4:8, New American Standard Bible [NASB]

I married a man whose family was even more dysfunctional than mine…if that is even possible. My own immediate family and my extended family had PhDs in negativity. (See, I am still able to make a joke out of the gruesome.)

Well, one day there was great turmoil in my husband’s family. A lot of yelling in the kitchen and people running in and out of the house. So, I went into the living room and started surfing channels on the TV just to block the chaos out. It was a Sunday and I clicked onto this petite blonde lady standing behind a podium. Gloria Copeland. I thought she was preaching, but she is much more a teacher than a preacher. She was no-nonsense positive. Positive that God is a good God, is a healing God, is a loving God. She was intelligent, logical, and didn’t have big hair. That sealed it for me, and by the end of the program, I put my hands on the TV and got saved.

I am aware of true ‘Christian’ positive-thinking that first manifested itself in the 1950s, and that is good. But what I’m talking about is deeper.  It is a real and abiding belief that the power of the Word as written in the Bible is transformative and healing. It is the belief in the supernatural power of God’s living Word. I have to point out here that God’s Word in the Bible is not magical, not hokus-pokus, nor abracadabra. It is the belief that if the living Word gets deep-down within the heart and soul of the believer, it will start to heal those hidden, broken places.

Note: God’s Word in the Holy Bible has structure, context, and order. The Word of God can’t be ripped out of the Bible and thrown around as a quick affirmation for selfish purposes. Any phrase we wish to speak over our situation has to be understood in terms of what came before and after it in the chapter (and even in other chapters and in other books of the Bible). The Bible is a cohesive whole, pointing to and proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Savior.

That said, if you want to get rid of darkness and negativity in your life…if you want to start making some good memories, a good place to start is the Philippians 4 Scripture noted above. Take it apart and on purpose (even if you have to force yourself) start to focus on what is:

  • True
  • Honorable
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Of Good Repute
  • Having or Striving for Excellence
  • Worthy of Praise

 

Vision Journal/Board vs Blessing Jar vs War Room ~ for 2020

Blessing Jar, Russel Stover

Several years ago (actually, January 2013), I started making a Blessing Jar in preparation for the new year. It wasn’t even a jar, but I’m sure God didn’t take offense. I had an old Christmasy tin I liked that had originally houses Russel Stover caramel candy. So, it became my Blessing Jar for several years. There are several ways to work with a blessing jar, but the way a writer friend told me she did it appealed to me. 1) Write a short, focused list of blessings I’m believing God for and put it into the jar along with Scriptures that support those blessings and place them inside. As I searched the web looking for ideas on making Blessing Jars, I found that many people wrote down their prayers for other people and put them into the jar. So, I did both of those. I wrote down a list of 5-8 things I was believing for with supporting Scripture. That took up three pages. I folded it and put it into the tin. On smaller pieces of paper I wrote down individual prayers for people. I’d read through these several times during the year and continue adding prayers for people.

Then in 2016 I got creative and made a Mason Jar/Blessing Jar that I hand painted. I did all the same things. Wrote out three pages of blessings that I was believing for and also on smaller pieces of paper prayers for others. I added prayers throughout the year. Only my list had become a formal Prayer of Petition, involving thanksgiving, and seeking to ask for whatever vision, desires, and inklings I prayerfully believed God had put into my heart. That year I signed my Prayer of Petition and took communion at home over it.

War Room

The Christian movie War Room came out in the Fall of 2015. My dear Christian writer friend Beth Glash (writing as Jenna Victoria, Beth Ellen on Facebook) and I went to see it. From time-to-time during 2016, we talked about having a “war room” or space in our own homes. By 2017 my Blessing Jar had become my “war room.” I kept my formal Prayer of Petition in the Blessing Jar but prayers for people went up on the side of my refrigerator where I could see them every day and continually pray for people. The photo above is the beginning in January 2017. By the end of the year the refrigerator’s side was covered in prayers. I also wrote out . My war room.

As early as 2014, I began learning about Vision Boards, the Christian kind as taught by Terry Savelle Foy and a few others. I knew about Terry because it was in her father Jerry Savelle’s ministry that I found the clearest teaching on The Prayer of Petition. I had kept a spiritual journal since the late 1990s and it was not difficult get separators and make the back of my journaling notebook into a Vision Journal. I like the vision journal because it allows me to see that God is indeed moving in my life. For example, in 2014, I taped a few words onto my journal page that I found in a magazine, “Blessed With A New Car.” I kept the old car in excellent running condition and in 2017 was blessed with a newer car, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I blessed my oldest daughter by giving her my 2009 Dodge Journey. I believe God wants to bless us, but part of that is He wants to bless us so we can bless others. As you can see the pages (above) are worn, handled. I’ve looked at them many times and prayed for my vision, thanked God for my blessings, and marveled at how He works in my life.

So, which is the best? Blessing Jar? War Room or Space? Vision Board or Vision Journal? I heard it preached that Oral Roberts was once asked which is the best scriptural prayer to pray. He answered, “The one you need at the time.” That’s kind of how I view Blessing Jars, personal war rooms, and/or vision boards and vision journals. Do what work for you. Do, what you will stick with throughout the year and into future years. And let it spiritually evolve as the Lord leads.

I pray that all my subscribers and visitors to this blog will be mightily blessed by the Lord. May you have a healthy, happy, prosperous new year.

Trinity Widows Group ~a much needed time

Trinity
Trinity Baptist’s large foyer, widows group meets in Next Steps room.

support, laughter, food

My “Florida sunshine” friend Deborah asked me if I’d like to meet her this afternoon at Trinity Baptist Church for it’s widows group. I immediately said, “YES.”

I’d been feeling down in the dumps. Another dear friend who I’ve known for many years (since my time in NYC) is battling cancer and she’s just moved. Packing up the old house, a cancelled flight and an overnight at an airport hotel, arranging for another flight…and when she arrived in Texas, she was hospitalized. She and I had been texting back and forth for over 24-hours and I was emotionally drained.

My husband passed away three years ago on December 8th, so the holidays are bittersweet for me. Even still, on the very year Joseph died, Christmas was a comfort to me. That year, my house had been decorated since the day after Thanksgiving. So, when I arrived back home in Florida after the memorial service in NYC, my little two-bedroom house had its halls fully decked out…and Christmas enveloped me and comforted me. I know it’s not that way for many who have lost loved ones during the holidays, but the spirit of Christmas held me in its arms that year…and it did last year, and I expect it will this year. Of course, this was Jesus expressing Himself in a gentle and tender way through the symbolism and spirit of the holiday we believers choose to celebrate His birthday.

So meanwhile, back to today…when I got to the church Deborah met me in the parking lot. Inside, the tables were decorated with Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers and there was an informal Thanksgiving buffet. The turkey had been ordered, but all of the other dishes were prepared by the women. When we got to our tables, the very first topic of conversation was how good it was to cook again. Nearly every woman at our table, including me, said she hardly cooked anymore since it was cooking only for one. The ladies had enjoyed breaking out cooking chops again and preparing a dish for a large group. I was really a good cook once, and I feel my skills in the kitchen have diminished from lack of use. I do find that disturbing but it is what it is.

Women shared a lot about their grandchildren, trips taken to Israel, Ireland. And then we got to how even years after your husband’s death…you’re going along…and out of the blue something blindsides you and triggers the old feelings of grief. Of course you knew you weren’t over it…but you thought you’d tucked the worst of it away…and then Pow!

It wasn’t a discussion group. Just a gentle back and forth and it was good and it was healing.

‘A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, Is God in His holy habitation.’ ~ Psalm 58:5 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

Trinity Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fl  904.596.2400

Trinity Baptist College, Jacksonville, Fl   904.596.2351

Trinity Christian Academy, Jacksonville, FL   904.596.2460