Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lessons From a Saint

The snow does two things to my dog:

  1.  Brings out the dirt in my dog.
  2. Makes him really happy.
Interestingly enough, spending time with Jesus does the same things to me...
  1. Brings out the dirt (sin) in my life.
  2. Makes me really happy. 

When comparing the sparkling white snow to my beautiful dog, I can't help but instantly notice how dirty my dog is. And while it is always apparent that he is a dirty boy, the snow really makes it stand out! The snow turns BROWN wherever Poco Bear (that's my dog's name) gets up from where he lays in the snow. And every time this happens I shudder at the thought of the dirt that is brought into my house because of my dog. 

The more time that I spend with Jesus, either by reading the Bible, or in my discipleship group, or worshiping at church, or in prayer... well you get the idea... When I submerge myself in Him, my dirt (sin) becomes really noticeable to me. And yes, this fact makes me shudder, but it also gives me a joy that I don't think I will ever be able to describe (well at least on this planet).... which leads me nicely to my next point... 

You would think Poco (that's what we call him for short) was a puppy if you saw him play or go for a hike in the snow. Reality is, he is 9 or 10 which is really old for a Saint Bernard. X-rays have shown that his hips aren't even really like hips anymore. But the way he bounces around and pretends to pounce and wants to play... you would never know that he is an "old man". Sometimes he will want outside at three in the morning just so he can lay in the snow.  During the summer months, when my husband and I go for hikes in the mountains, Poco will spot a patch of snow and sprint for it... then roll in it... and then beg us to play in the snow with him. The snow gives my dog a joy like nothing else can.

You would have to visit with my friends and family that have known me since before I became a Christian to begin to get a sense of the joy that God has brought into my life. But that would just scratch the surface. As I sit here at my computer, contemplating how to get across to you (the reader) the joy that God has brought into my life... I come to this conclusion: God gives me a joy like nothing else can. NOTHING. That's right; joy. Joy despite all of this worlds "dirt" and the "dirt" in my life.           JOY. 

If this dirt and joy thing is a new concept for you... then may I suggest going outside... 
look up at the stars...
and God will take care of the rest. 
I promise.

And for you Bible junkies:
"I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave. You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever." Psalm 16:8-11 (New Living Translation) 
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test my thoughts. Point out anything you find in me that makes You sad, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." Psalm 139:23-24 (TLB)
 "Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you." Psalm 51:7-12 (New Living Translation)
 "Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty! When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.” And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone. Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time, that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment." Psalm 32:1-6 (New Living Translation)
 "But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives He will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23 (TLB) 
 "Come. Sit down. Let's argue this out." This is God's Message: "If your sins are blood-red, they'll be snow-white. If they're red like crimson, they'll be like wool. If you'll willingly obey, you'll feast like kings. But if you're willful and stubborn, you'll die like dogs." That's right. God says so. Isaiah 1:18-20 (The Message)

God is love,

PS. Listen to:

  •  "Beautiful Like This" by Josh Wilson
  • "Let It Go" by Tenth Avenue North
  • "All The Pretty Things" by Tenth Avenue North

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tongue of Fire

The School Fire of 2005 will forever be apart of my memory.

Legend has it that the fire started by a tree limb falling into a power line. The fire was quickly called into dispatch by many campers/fishermen. The fire's location was the Tucanon drainage (a popular camping and fishing location), which is just outside Pomeroy, Washington. Local Forrest Service employees were able to respond quickly.

Legend also has it, however, that the fire fighters weren't aggressive in putting out the now large bon-fire size fire because of 1) fear of being electrocuted and 2) the work (money) they could potentially get out of a larger fire.

The fire (that was originally the size of a tree limb) spread and spread, reaching 50,000 acres as the crow flies. The fire became so large, so quickly, that by the next day, August 6, 2005, the plume that was produced by the fire could be seen  from La Grande, Oregon (about 150 miles away). The fire crew that Ryan and I worked for stayed on that single fire for 2 months (which is why I will never forget it).

13 million was spent on the fire. 215 structures were damaged/lost in the fires destruction. Over 1000 people were employed by this single fire.

The School fire is what comes to my mind when I read "Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark." in James 3:5.

"Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." James 3:4-6
"A scoundrel plots evil, and on their lips it is like a scorching fire. A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends." Proverb 16:27-28
As noted above, I have personally experienced what kind of destruction can result from a small spark. To think that my tongue (or your tongue) can cause the same kind of destruction...

So what else does the Bible say about my (and your) tongue? What does the Bible say about words...

Consider the third commandment, which forbids the misuse of a word... Granted the word is God's name, but still, it makes me believe that God doesn't take words lightly:
“You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." Exodus 20:7
I believe that God would like our words to be pleasing:
"May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,  LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14
Who wants good days? I do!
"Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good;  seek peace and pursue it." Psalm 34:12-14
Would you like to be considered to be righteous or a viper? Just sayin'!
"The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just. The law of their God is in their hearts; their feet do not slip." Psalm 37:30-31
"You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. " Matthew 12:34
"Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool. Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues. The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense." Proverbs 10:18-21
Destruction or protection. The choice is yours.
"The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." Proverbs 12:18
 "Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin." Proverbs 13:3
"The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." Proverbs 15:4
"Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity." Proverbs 21:23
Use words to help others not harm them.
"The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, And a wise friend's timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger." Proverbs 25:11 (The Message)
"The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed." Isaiah 50:4
"I was just joking around." "I'm just teasing." "I'm not being serious, lighten up!"
 "Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." Ephesians 5:4
"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6 
As a Christian, you are a representation of your God, your religion, and your church.
"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless." James 1:26
And finally, in case your mother never taught you this:
"If you can't say anything nice, then don't say anything at all!" See Proverbs 13:3 above again

While I and many others have experienced the destruction a forest fire can create... EVERYONE has experienced the destruction of the tongue.... God calls us to be like fire fighters and put out the fire that is our tongue. Use the above Bible verses and the Holy Spirit as your tools and water.... and then can you do me a favor??? Let me know how your life is changed by doing so...
Because this is a lesson that God has been trying to teach me for the past few months... 

The power in words can build up or tear down—
Create a big smile or produce a sad frown;
So in all your contacts with people each day,
Be sure to encourage in all that you say. —Fitzhugh
God is love,

PS. Check out "Forest Fire" by Josh Wilson.

For more information and to see pictures of the School Fire you can go to and scroll down. Or you can go to http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/uma/fire/school.shtml