Archives for the month of: November, 2013

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

(public domain)

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Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before him with thanksgiving
and extol him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.

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The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

Over the years I’ve tried a number of art and crafting projects.  One thing I’ve just dipped a toe into is making jewelry.  Until I took a beading class, I was not really aware of how big the world of jewelry making is:  wire, beads, resin, glass, precious metal clay, shrink plastic, paper, fabric, beads.  And that’s just scratching the surface!  Unless you’re into jewelry, you might be surprised at all the materials, techniques, and trends out there.

My last jewelry project involved wire and beads.  Now, wire is a great material, especially for beginners, because it is so easy to bend and manipulate.  Expert jewelry makers also like it because it can be formed into very intricate patterns and designs.  My friend Kat makes some unbelievably beautiful wire pieces.  But the very attributes that make wire such a great material also make it a challenge to use; because it is so flexible, it can be flimsy, especially when beads or stones or anything else with some weight is added to the mix.

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So how do you strengthen wire to make it sturdy?  You pound it flat with a hammer against a steel block.  No, seriously.  Jump rings, those little wire circles that hold charms and other pretty things on a necklace or bracelet?  Those you make stronger by repeatedly opening and closing them with pliers, twisting them back and forth, back and forth.  You might think that would weaken the wire and break it, but it doesn’t.  Working it in this way, called work-hardening, actually changes its molecular structure.  And if you accidently overwork the wire, making it too stiff to manipulate, you can restore it to its former malleability by heating it, called annealing.  See?  Lots to learn about making jewelry, and that’s only wire!

We can be just like that wire.  Subjected to adversity, to the equivalent of being hammered on a steel block, we can become stronger.  Our faith matures when we endure life’s challenges.  “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:1-5).  God is completing us, perfecting us, through the trials we endure.  Matthew 5:48 tells us, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”    If you’ve always thought those words mean we have to do everything perfectly, this is good news!  Our perfection is a work God is doing in us, not something we can accomplish ourselves.

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Of course, being overworked by life can harden our hearts.  Perhaps you know someone, or perhaps you are someone, who has endured so much pain and suffering under the hammer of life that you felt you had to protect yourself.  Your heart might be locked in a fortress behind stone walls and a moat (with alligators).  But life in a fortress is lonely.  Yes, a tender, open heart is more easily hurt, but it can recover from that hurt because love comes in to repair and strengthen it.  A hardened heart might be able to resist pain, but eventually it becomes a rock, a weapon that hurts us and others.  And no amount of isolation can protect a person from life’s troubles—it just means that person has to face adversity alone.

A hardened heart is not a permanent condition.  Like the overworked wire, we can be returned to our living, growing, malleable selves by the annealing fire of God’s love.  No matter how hard and inflexible we become, love has the power to restore us to tenderness.  Love strengthens us and enables us to persevere, to continue growing toward maturity and wholeness.  As we allow God to do his perfecting work in us, we can more clearly and brightly reflect his glory to people who have been seriously overworked by the hammer and steel block of life and desperately need to experience the restorative power of God’s annealing love.

A couple things have bonked me on the head this past week…spiritual things, that is.  Does that ever happen to you?  You know, when the same thing/issue pops up in several different places or is mentioned by a couple people out of the blue?

This week, it’s been the idea of trusting God.

Several of my friends are facing rather tall mountains right now.  A couple of friends have mentioned being down in a valley.  All of them need to trust God, and they know it.

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BUT it is sooooo hard. Even when we KNOW God will never fail to honor His Word and promises to His children.

Lots of praise and worship songs are written around this concept, too.  Think about some of your favorite songs.  What do they talk about?  One of my favorites has the words, “I will praise You in this storm.”   And another, “Bring on the rain.”  No sunshine and roses in those words, huh?  Yet, those songs bring me comfort.

Whether we read scripture or listen to music, just hearing words of comfort and trusting God brings peace.

Why is it so hard to trust God?

Truth is, I don’t know.  And I wish I had the answer.  I wish there was a pill we could take that made us immediately TRUST GOD!

Once I read a quote which said basically, “If you could hear Christ praying for you in the next room, would you believe that He loves you and has plans for you?  Distance makes no difference. He IS praying for.”

Jesus Christ IS praying for ME in front of His FATHER GOD!

That has stuck with me for years and years. I find this week that I need to remind myself of it once again.   Distance makes no difference.

Sometimes I ask God for a special “sign” that He is doing something…that He is at work on a problem I’ve prayed about. Rarely, I get a sign.  Mostly, He reminds me of what has NOT happened.  And that is about the best thing He can do for me.

What if you think of your “answers to prayer” in that way?  Does it help?

What has NOT happened that could have…maybe could have made things worse?  Easiest answer is if you are healthy, walking, talking, and able to think, then you are way ahead of hundreds of thousands of people in this world.

God also tells me He HAS given me a “sign”….it’s in His WORD.  When I go to the Bible, His answers stare me right in the face.  No extra signs needed.

He’s already TOLD me His plans for me are for good and not evil; He is perfecting me until the Day of Christ; I can hide in the comfort of His Wings; I can go to the Rock of my Salvation; He has provided access directly to the Throne of God where I can go without fear; He will give me wisdom if I just ask it. He HAS written the last page of the book.

And Christ IS praying for me.

Distance Makes No Difference!

by Cindy Best

I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

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Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

thou art mine, and I am thine.

So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth,

let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.

(adapted by John Wesley from a prayer by Richard Alleine)

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