Congratulations Mintie!…and…There Arose such a Clatter!

PrintMintie Reagan Welchance, You are the winner! If you put “The Colley House” in your status at any point in the last week and left it up for twenty-four hours, and tagged me in the status, you were in the drawing for a free Colley House Christmas bundle. I hope you enjoy it, Mintie. Valued at $58.50, it’s coming your way on a pretty fast sleigh!

I think we’re about to embark on year eight of the “Bless Your Heart” blog. This year, during the holidays, I’ve received more cards of encouragement from blog readers and Digging Deep ladies than ever before. I don’t know how you would have coordinated, but I’m starting to think you all are in cahoots and have a plan to fill my box with holiday cheer. If so, it’s working!…and I thank you.  And speaking of holiday cheer, I’m up for a lot of it this week. Glenn and I have had our grandson Ezra, for the past five days. Now that’s a lot of cheer…and cuddles… and drives looking for “Pippas yights” (Christmas lights), and choruses of “Dee-dee Bells” (Jingle Bells).”

A couple of nights ago, during our Bible “story time”, I gave Ezra the fill-in-the -blank statement: “When I grow up, I’m going to marry a _______________.” Because he didn’t respond quickly, I added the initial sound of the answer…”Chr…”

Then he shouted with glee “a Pippas tree!!”

We’re enjoying him immensely and are looking forward to enjoying his parents and baby Colleyanna later this week. Next week, we hope to have Caleb and Bekah here, too, at some point. We know we are blessed beyond our imagination’s scope and we praise Him for rich blessings of friends and family.

It will be after Santa’s delivery run that you next get a notification from the “Bless Your Heart” blog page. I hope you are in a place in life in which you can be enjoying family this week, as well. Most of all, I hope you feel the security of the Father’s arms and bask in His salvation. In that vein, here’s a post from the archives about the “clatter” that arose on my roof early one Christmas morning:

It was a shocker, alright. It was in the very early hours of Christmas morning, 2010, when the huge, noise that shook the house abruptly woke up the neighborhood. Glenn looked at me with terror in his eyes and then ran into the room where Hannah was sleeping. He “sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.” I heard him mutter something about a bomb as he ran out of the room. The last time I had heard a noise like that had been many years ago when a big trash truck had bolted over a curb and into our house (but that’s another story for another post). The kids were both okay and, on investigation, we found that, this time, a huge part of a tree had fallen on the house. There was damage, but safety for all. 

Later in the day, the kids and I were talking about how their dad reacts to unknown perceived threats.  He inhales hugely! (BIG gasp that’s a little funny on reflection). Then he runs (dressed or not) to wherever his kids are. The amazing thing was that his reaction was just the same when they are twenty-something as it was when they were 2 and 6. He instinctively runs to his children. Their safety and protection are his only immediate concern. While we were talking about this, Hannah said she could remember one occasion, as a child, when a bumblebee woke her up buzzing around her head. She said, “I was scared of that noise in the dark, I cried out and immediately heard Dad’s footsteps–loud running footsteps– as he ran into my room and took me in His arms. Then he killed that bee. Anytime I yelled in the night, he was right there, right then.”

I think every child who has a good father remembers what it felt like to be in his arms. I remember pretending I was asleep in the back of our station wagon when I was a child just so my daddy would carry me in the house. Ultimate protection, strength and safety were wrapped all around me.

That’s what God does. The Bible describes our God as “a very present help in time of trouble” (Psa.46:1). He’s right there, right then.  He is the Father who pities His children (Psa.103:13), and hears their cries (Psa 34:17). He is the one who offers His help to His people “right early” (Psa.46:5). Deuteronomy thirty-three, verse twenty-seven says he puts his everlasting arms beneath us.

Let me assure you, even if you’ve never felt the need to cry out to your Father or to feel his arms beneath you, there will come a time when a huge clatter will arise in your life. You will look in horror at the prospects before you and you will desperately want to cry out to Him.  Are you secure in the house of the Father? Will he hasten to your side when you cry? If not, will you contact me and let me help you find that security? I wish this safety for every reader.

7 Pounds of His Grace

13912431_928723135739_3489667227565621351_nDear Father, 

I already knew that You are God, Yahweh, the Great I AM. I am the one who speaks and writes and cries about life in the womb because of the holocaust against it in America today. I should say that I am ONE of the ones, for there are still many and we are unwilling to give up the battle for life to those who routinely burn with saline, rip apart, vacuum out and discard those viable body parts, suffocating those screams before  tiny mouths can open to the air that allows them to cry out for themselves. I am not about quietness when I can be a voice for those whose beating hearts are stopped in brutal and painful ways. 

But, today, Lord, I knew more than ever that Your throne of grace and majesty extends into the darkness of the womb. Help me never to forget what I saw today. I know that You have pushed the pause button on the miraculous, but this morning in that doctor’s office in Montgomery was just about as close to a miracle as I will get before Your mighty trumpet blows. 

My little girl’s little girl was there, as big as life, on that screen. In fact, it was the tiny epitome of life. They told us that she weighs seven pounds and four ounces already and her chubby cheeks evidenced that she’s big and healthy.  Lord, I cannot believe that I saw so clearly that right cheek turn to the side. I’m remembering now that you told us to have cheeks that turn. I pray that she will. It will be painful for me if I ever have to witness her cheek being smitten; yet I know she will experience hurt and people will mistreat her. Help her to turn the other cheek—to show mercy in exchange for cruelty. Help her never to be self-centered or to seek for glory. Help her to defer to the preferences of others. Help me to show her the beauty that comes from a meek spirit.

I saw her little hands in her mouth. It’s tight in there now and she’s just all balled up with her hands against her cheeks and against those tiny lips. Lord, they are Your hands. Those fingers will play instruments or hold a baseball bat or a needle and thread. They will turn pages in all kinds of books. They will turn pages in Your book, Lord. One day some handsome boy will put a ring on that chubby finger that I saw today and her daddy will give that hand in marriage to him. Those sweet hands will roll out dough and pat curly tresses and pick up cheerios and mend socks and fold clothes.  I pray that those little fingers will minister for You, Lord; that they will feel burning foreheads and administer Tylenol…that they will hold other hands beside hospital beds and nursing home rockers…that they will change diapers…that they will change lives by opening up Your Word in Bible studies. May those hands hold Yours. May they be daily folded in prayer and reaching to fill needs. 

I saw that tiny heel that Hannah has been feeling—-that even I can feel— as she kicks against the taut skin on Hannah’s right side. I could count the toes and see that little foot so very clearly. Lord, You made that little extremity so perfectly! May her spiritual feet be just as beautiful. May her feet carry the gospel of peace to the souls around her for all of her days. Help us, as her family, to train her to walk—to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. May we never take it for granted that she will, but help us Lord to be purposeful for the footsteps of her and her brother, Ezra. The devil is purposeful. He is seeking to devour. On some days it seems like he is making it next to impossible for parents to direct the footsteps of little ones in Your ways. But we can do all things through Your Son. May even we, as grandparents, profoundly impact her footsteps to stay in Your narrow way that leads to life. 

She heard me, Father! That little girl responded to my voice. I knew because when I spoke she turned her head toward me and she opened her eyes wide in response! This is the part I could not believe. I said, “She’s hearing me!” The technician responded “Of course, she is!”  So I told her right there that I loved her. I called her “Sweetness” since I do not know her name, and I told her about You, Lord. I just could not help myself. I made her promises. I made them out loud and  I will keep them. I told her I will teach her about Jesus, Your Son, and that I will teach her Your Word. I told her that we love her so much and that we cannot wait to tell her about You! I sang a bit of “Baby Mine” to her and I was overwhelmed at that moment with Your goodness to me. I am just dust, Lord! How can I thank You for a moment like that?! When I was driving those four hours to arrive in time for that ultra-sound after getting those three hours of sleep last night, I have to admit it. My faith was weak. I thought I would see an unrecognizable bit of blur. I saw YOU there, Father, and I will never forget Your grace in letting me see, in her, Your amazing creative power and unrivaled attention to detail. I stand amazed in Your holy presence!

And then, as she turned to look toward us, searching for the sounds, she opened that huge eye as wide as she could, as if to say, “Where ARE you?” And, in that moment, I fell helplessly in love with that little girl…just hopelessly and forever devoted to her well-being. Father, help me, to show her the goodness in this world; the hope that’s still left in this place. Help those beautiful eyes to sparkle and shine and to shed few tears of sorrow.  But most of all, help us to show her the hope and peace that comes from living for You. Help those gentle eyes to witness, with wonder and awe, the pictures and characters in little Bible story books. Help them to record the righteous examples of service around her. Guard her tender eyes from those things that can trap her at an early age. Give her maturity and resolve before the toughest tactics of Satan catch her eyes. As she grows, give her eyes to search for those who may be willing to listen to the gospel, the message of Your salvation. Open her eyes that  they may see those whose needs may really be doors to evangelism. Lord keep her eyes focused heavenward. 

Reflecting back on this day, I can hardly believe You let me do this. Your Words are true: She IS fearfully and wonderfully made! My only sadness is that her grandfather is preaching Your gospel in Kentucky this week and there is no way I can adequately describe this heart-swell to someone who was not in that room!  Help us Lord, her parents and grandparents. If all is as it seems, You are giving her to us in perfect condition. May we work as a team, Father, to give her back to You, through the gift of Your Son, in that same perfect condition. Father, thank-You for today. I cannot wait  to hold her, fresh from Your hands. I cannot wait for her to see my face and to start learning just how much I love her. But, most of all, I can’t wait to show her You and just how much YOU love her. I want her to see Your face!

Sister to Sister: Caught Praying on the Monitor

13344646_911796716419_9022849487098569765_nCaught on the video monitor the other night, Ezra, who was twenty months old, at the time, was praying. In his own crib, in his nursery, door closed, and darkness gathered round him, he listed his little litany of people , ending with Baxter (his cat) and ended with a simple, but very audible “Amen”.  I know God heard little Ezra, because he’s the God who takes time for the little ones (Mark 10:14). 

What makes a twenty month old talk to God when He’s all alone? You know what does. It’s pretty simple. It’s night after night of “practice”. It’s doing it when he’s not alone each night. It’s story time with parents who know it’s important, for the development of faith in God, to talk to Him every night. It’s intrinsically knowing that, in his daddy’s arms, hands folded talking to God, all is right in his simple little world. That’s why Ezra knows how to pray. That’s why, however simply and trusting, he talks to God when he thinks he’s all alone. 

One day you will think you are alone. There will come a time when you are facing your own alone-ness and darkness. You might not know yet exactly what that darkness will be. It may be the loss of someone you love. It may be that someone you love disappoints you deeply. It may be the loss of your health or wealth. It may be the fall of your freedom or encroaching national enemies. It might be loneliness or divorce or addiction. It might be sin.

When your darkness comes, will you be able to talk to the Father, even from the darkness—when you need Him most? The answer is yes…if, like Ezra, you’ve been talking to Him every day in the light; if you’ve spoken with Him daily from your safe and happy place when surrounded by those you love. 

The simple faith that gives us the solace and strength of prayer in the dark times of our lives is not instantly gained when we need it. It’s developed during the good times. It’s having a relationship with the Almighty that’s constant and secure through the ups and downs of regular and normal days. That’s what gives us the peace and assurance of knowing He hears us when life gets irregular and abnormal…and sometimes even, very nearly, unbearable. I have friends  who use prayer as a panic button. I have other friends who never need a panic button because they’ve got the security that comes with a life time of communication through prayer and Bible study. They deeply understand and cling to the promise of Romans 8:28…that He’s making every day, and even the darkest night, turn into ultimate blessings for them, as His children.   They are secure when they are alone and life is dark, because, like Ezra, they’ve  “practiced” when times were easier and gentler. 

“Amen” is a very comforting word. It means “let it be so”. I’m glad “amen” is in little Ezra’s limited vocabulary. I’m glad he says it already to the One Who transcends everything Ezra will ever learn or know in both majesty and power. But that One is also the One who knows how many little red hairs are on His head (Luke 12:7). He knows his down-sitting and his uprising (Psalm 139:2). He knows Ezra’s litany of loved ones and He even knows His cat, Baxter. Are you talking to the One who loves you that much? You should be living in that kind of sweet security right now. Someday, when night falls, you will very much need the sweet security of prayer. 

Questions and Answers: Unspoken Prayers

3349205988_f95fd8c813_bQuestion:

Often I see  on Facebook a request for unspoken prayers. Does God hear and answer unspoken prayers?

Response:

If you mean by an “unspoken prayer”, a prayer that is directed from a Christian to heaven  from the mind of a  man or woman without being audibly spoken, the answer is “yes”. God can hear your prayers without your saying them aloud. We learn this from Hannah in I Samuel 1. 

If, in reality, you mean by an “unspoken prayer”  a request that Christian friends pray for you  in general terms so that God can respond to the specific needs of your life without necessarily revealing all of those needs to the ones who may be praying, the answer is, again, “yes”. Surely God knows all of our needs and certainly, if a friend asks me to pray because some difficult things are going on in her life, I am happy to honor that request. I don’t have to know the details because the Father knows them and can respond in ways that are far superior to any solutions that I might have, even if I knew every detail of my sister’s struggle. Sometimes, women will call such a request an “unspoken prayer request”. They simply mean that the details of their needs are not spoken to those to whom requests are being made. 

If you mean, though, by “unspoken prayer”, a nebulous better-felt-than-told sort of heavenward inclination—a wish toward God that you don’t take the time or energy to articulate or speak to the Father—I do not believe we have any promise that he will respond to those wishes. He has asked us to make our requests known to Him with supplications (Phil. 4:6). Would anyone argue that God does not know the needs or wishes of His children without our speaking them? Of course, our Father knows our needs (Matthew 6:32). But He wants us to express, in words, our requests. He also wants us to give Him our thanksgiving. It’s not enough to feel thankful to God, even though He knows our hearts (I Thessalonians 5:17,18). So, if by “unspoken prayer” you mean a wish or feeling that you never express, vocalize or articulate, I do not believe there’s any Biblical evidence that God responds to such a “feeling”, particularly if a person is not humbly relying on the power of Biblical prayer in her life. Since Jesus taught us how to pray in Matthew 6:9ff and Luke 11:2ff, and the pattern clearly includes very specific requests, we should utter, from our hearts, words that, to the best of our human abilities, express our needs before His throne.  

 

The Extraterrestrial…Really.

NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-EarthriseYesterday, I spent the morning with a group of about 100 of God’s women focused intently on the subject of prayer. I don’t know about the other ladies, but I was deeply affected. We read Harry Potter and watch Star Wars and clamor after tales that allow our minds to venture outside this box that we inhabit…the box of space and time. But we rarely appreciate the fact that there is one extra-terrestrial tale that’s not just a tale. It’s about a real place, with a real Ruler who has power and sovereignty over this universe and all that’s in it. And we are already part of that extraterrestrial world…involved enough that the Sovereign has already given the supreme sacrifice to bring us into His presence. And we can communicate with that Sovereign power; even influence His will, if we submit to His terms. It’s the most amazing concept we can ponder while still bound to this earth by gravity. And it’s real. It’s evidence-backed faith that takes us there. It’s the most authenticated book in history that reveals this other world to us. 

Today I had a chance to pray with a sister as she dropped me off at the airport. We prayed about our future ventures, especially about the venture we are both trying to accomplish, along with our families to the throne of God for eternity. Have you ever thought about the magnitude of that blessing?…I mean the sweet privilege of going in prayer, with a sister, to the throne of the Father you share…the Father who is the King of the universe?

In a few moments, I have a scheduled phone call with another sister in Christ. We will talk about the struggles and pain in her life and we will both be going before our Father’s throne with these particular sorrows. We both have the assurance that there’s somebody else, though not physically related, who shares the bond of the blood of Jesus, and who cares deeply about what’s going on in the spiritual journey of the other.

Over the weekend I promised to speak to some event directors about an internship for a young Christian sister and to recommend another sister for a scholarship. Those are small pleas to administrators for little positions and rewards. But as I left the room of sisters tonight to make the trip back to Huntsville, they promised to make requests for me to the supreme Administrator of all good gifts (James 1:17). We cannot do anything more important for each other than to plead each others’ causes before that Administrator!

Blood sisters share DNA that makes them have physical similarities because they were born of the same parents. Spiritual sisters share spiritual traits that make them alike in more important ways. They share traits that they will still be sharing in a million years, while those physical genetic tendencies will have lost all traceability. Physical kinship is tied to the genes. Spiritual kinship is tied to Jesus. The former is merely the handiwork of the latter. And yet the latter took on human DNA—had physical kin—so that I could be his spiritual kin and so that I could share that kinship with you.  He did this so that I could come boldly before the throne of grace for you and so that you could do it for me (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

I know that you already knew all of this. So did I. But meditating on it makes me love God more. It makes me appreciate the forever family more deeply. It makes me long for a time when that family will be inseparable.

Sister to Sister: Q and A…About those Imprecatory Psalms…

QuestionMarkQuestion: When the Holy Spirit was speaking in the Psalms was He speaking in EVERY instance of them? The verse referenced in the podcast was Matt 22:44 which comes from Psalm 110:1 like you said but I am not sure I understand why you are leaning toward ALL Psalms written being the words of the Holy Spirit rather than (in some instances) the emotions of David being expressed. If David’s will for enemy destruction is in fact the Holy Spirit’s writing (like it is when David prophesies about Jesus’ coming) then I know that it is okay. That’s because whatever God says is right and true and just because He is God. However, the law David was under says “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” in Exodus 21:24 so it doesn’t seem far fetched that he would want ill for people who want to destroy him which Jesus does NOT endorse in Matt 5:38-39. I am very sorry if this doesn’t sound humble… I mean for it to be humble. I just am not sure I fully get your reasoning on this point.

Response: First of all, let me say that asking questions like this very good and scripture-focused question is not prideful. Asking expresses humility, in my judgment. Acting like I have all the answers would be prideful, so I am not going to do that. I am going to give you my best judgment, and my judgment will, sometimes, not be right.  But talking about the scriptures is always a good thing, so let’s have a go at this. I think you are asking several related questions:

  1. Does the Holy Spirit speak in all the Psalms? I believe so. If we are free to decide, on our own, which words are inspired and which words are not, then we do not need the book of Psalms, for our learning. In fact, it would be detrimental. We would not be able to decipher, with any certainty, what is truth.
  2. What about the prayers for enemy destruction? Did the Holy Spirit inspire David to pray that? Yes. The Holy Spirit could, through David, perfectly, justly and righteously discern the appropriate measure of punishment for each enemy of the anointed of God and of God Himself. This is true in this case just as it was true in the cases of the destruction of the enemies of God as the children of Israel went into Canaan in the book of Joshua. God gets it right, every time.
  3. Could David have had God’s approval to pray for destruction of enemies because he was under the eye-for-eye law, whereas we would be prohibited from such a prayer because we are under a different law? I do not believe it was the eye-for-eye law that gave David license to pray for bad things to happen to his enemies; first, because verses like Psalm 59:13 are about totally consuming people and those people were wicked, but they had not necessarily totally consumed other people. Second, eye-for-eye is just that. Individual payment for harm was to equal the harm done in the crime in specific situations. (Check the context of Exodus 21:24–very different from people who are seeking to overthrow the anointed one of God, the King of the House of Israel, progenitor of the Messiah) Eye-for-eye law was applicable in Jewish court upon individuals who caused harm to others and that was not the situation the Holy Spirit is speaking about through David.
  4. Does Matthew 5:38-39, then, prohibit us from praying for the destruction of our personal enemies? I think verse 44 does, for sure. I do not have the miraculous inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He does not speak through me. I do have the Spirit’s admonition that I should be in prayer for those who despitefully use me. I have the Spirit’s admonition in the bottom of Romans 12 about how  must I return good for evil, heaping coals of fire on the heads of  my enemies and leaving the vengeance to God. So I must want the best for my enemies, including (and foremost this should be) their ultimate turn to God and their salvation. But the thing about the Psalms is this: their ultimate author WAS God. God–the Holy Spirit– wrote the Psalms though the Singer of Israel and other men. So, every plea in that inspired book, unless the Psalmist was quoting  an uninspired man,  is  just and right. In the new Testament, the Holy Spirit promised that God will take vengeance on those who know not God and obey not the Gospel– in flaming fire, no less. He adds that these will be punished with everlasting destruction (II Thessalonians 1:8,9) Is it wrong for me to pray that the victory over Satan will be won, in the end, and that those who do not submit to my God will be punished–even destroyed? No, that would simply be praying the scriptures…agreeing with the Spirit.  But it would be wrong for me to pray for the destruction of my personal enemies because I am not the all-knowing, all just Holy Spirit.  David was the pen of  that Spirit. The  Psalms are inspired by the Lord. We even have the direct evidence of that in the very words of Jesus in the New Testament, as you cited.

Just because David prayed it doesn’t mean I can pray it in the same way. David was inspired. I am not. (David was also the anointed of God, so those who wanted his throne were rebelling against God himself.)  Just because Isaiah could foretell the future does not give me the ability or right to do so. He was inspired. I am not. In Romans 11:9,10, Paul quotes from Psalm 69, an imprecatory prayer, once again validating these Psalms as being fully and divinely inspired. The Holy Spirit would not be quoting imprecatory Psalms in New Testament  teachings if they were just the emotions of David.

My two cents on the question. Hope it is helpful. I’m sure there are many of you who can shed lots more insight than I can. The article we referred to on the podcast is here: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1156-do-the-imprecatory-psalms-and-christian-ethics-clash and it was very helpful to me.