Friday, July 11, 2014

In Heavenly Love Abiding

"In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear; 
And safe is such confiding, for nothing changes here. 
The storm may roar without me, my heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?

Wherever He may guide me, no want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me, and nothing can I lack. 
His wisdom ever waketh, His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh, and I will walk with Him.

Green pastures are before me, which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o'er me, where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure, my path to life is free;
My Savior has my treasure, and He will walk with me."

--Anna Waring 1850
(Taken from SDA Hymnal 513)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pillars in the Temple of God

"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more"  (Revelation 3:12).

I have been reading Jesus' messages to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, and have really been blessed by all of the deep meanings of each church. Some churches just have warnings (like the churches of Sardis and Laodicea), some just have encouragements (like the church of Philadelphia and Smyrna), some have both (like the church of Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira) but every one has a promise for the future to those who overcome the temptations of their time. The messages fill me with hope. Here are a few samples: "He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death" (2:11), "To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God" (2:7), "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (3:5), and "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (3:21).

This morning I was pondering the promise for the church of Philadelphia. "He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name" (3:12). I can understand how the second part of the verse is a promise. Having God's name and character imprinted upon everyone who overcomes is truly a blessing I would like to have, but what about being a pillar?

Early in my childhood I moved around quite a bit. My seventh birthday was the first time that I spent two consecutive birthdays in the same house. I was used to saying goodbye to those I loved. Sometimes we would be the ones moving, other times friends would be, but in each move, I felt like a part of my heart was being left behind or taken. I wanted to have all my friends and family in one place someday, where we wouldn't have to say goodbye. More recently I have lost some dear friends to death, and I long all the more to be in a place where I no longer would have to say goodbye. As I fell in love with Jesus, I found that more than anything else, I long to live with Him. Although He promises to be with us here on earth, we are separated in that we cannot see Him face to face.

As I think of all those who are dear to me that are separated by time, space or death, it is easy to wonder if there will ever be a time when there will be no more goodbyes...

Then it struck me. A pillar does not move. In fact, a pillar's job is to stay in one place. Christ's promise is to "make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more." As a pillar in God's temple, you would continually live in His presence. He will fulfill every desire, He will "wipe away every tear" (Rev. 21:4), He will bring together loved ones who have been separated, He will do away with every need to say goodbye. What a promise!

"One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to meditate in his temple..." (Psalms 27:4).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

You will know them by their fruits

John and I have been blessed to have a small fruit garden in our backyard. One of the joys of living in Southern California is that there is an abundance of amazing fruit all year round. At this time, our fig tree is beginning to show signs of ripening figs, and we look forward to a few weeks from now when we can work on drying and making fig jam.

Sadly, not all trees in our backyard are fantastic. This winter, we were delightedly eyeing an orange tree that had a copious amount of bright orange fruit. The oranges looked rather deformed and lumpy, but we assumed that they would be excellent inside. Maybe they were a heirloom variety. Eagerly we waited for the first to ripen. When the great day came, we picked a few, and excitedly opened them up. The first thing we noticed was that they were a pale yellow inside, not at all like navels usually are, they also had precious little pulp to the amount of lumpy skin around them. when we took a bite, we were even more shocked. Instead of the sweet, juicy fruit, they were as sour as a lemon with a bitter aftertaste. They left much to be desired.

As we talked to more experienced gardeners, we found out that navel trees are grafted on to a wild root. As long as the gardener keeps back the wild root from sending up it's own shoots, the tree will produce delicious fruit from the graft. But if the wild root sends up it's own shoots, and they are not cut back, they will produce a nasty, bitter, sour fruit that is only good for compost. In fact, the tree would be so busy sending it's energy to the aggressively growing wild shoot, that the grafted side will only produce one or two good fruits, which was the case for our tree.

Since we have been living with fruit trees, I am realizing the importance of pruning. Jesus used the illustration of pruning when He spoke to His disciples, just before He was crucified: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:1-5).

So often we let our own desires crop up like the wild root, ready to produce bitter fruit. Selfishness, pride, indolence, greed, the list of bitterness can go on and on. Let us let our Master Gardener to prune away our bad habits and desires. "My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples" (John 15:8).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Complete happiness

My joy is complete. God has given abundantly more than I could ever wish for, "pressed down, shaken together and overflowing" (Luke 6:38).

On May 20, 2011 John and I became engaged.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
and You give them to drink of the river or Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
in Your light we see light. (Psalms 36:7-9)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Love bade me welcome

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lack'd anything

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my Dear,
I cannot look on Thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
"My Dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
So I did sit and eat.

--George Herbert

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Just breathe

I was standing waste deep in water, gasping for breath. I love to swim. It had been a while since I had last swum, and I wanted to go for a long distance. On the last few laps I decided to give it my all and see how fast I could swim the pool. It wasn't very fast, but it certainly winded me, and therefore I was standing in the pool, trying to recover by taking deep gulps of air. I was so thankful for lungs that could fill with the life giving oxygen.

So many times we take air for granted. Breathing comes so naturally that we don't think about it, even though we use air constantly. Certain types of air are irresistible: salty sea air, balsam scented mountain air, and snow laden, crisp winter air. We might not realize how important breathing is until we are limited in our supply. When playing long sections on my oboe, I am so thankful for the composers who leave one or two rests to recuperate my lungs.

I was reading the other day in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 "pray without ceasing". It reminded me of a quote from Ellen G. White
“Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted, and the health of the soul be preserved. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Well-spring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience. Neglect the exercise of prayer, or engage in prayer spasmodically, now and then, as seems convenient, and you lose your hold on God. The spiritual faculties lose their vitality, the religious experience lacks health and vigor.”—Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers, pp. 254, 255
How often do we pray? Do we take long intermissions in our prayer life and end up depleted as I was after swimming? Do we breathe prayer and cleanse our spiritual lungs as often as we cleanse our physical lungs? Without respiration there is no life. Lord, remind me to breathe prayers to You throughout my whole day.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


Recently my life has consisted of...

I am so thankful for...

But most importantly, I am indebted to...