God n me: A bi-weekly blog that encourages readers to see the glory of Jesus Christ in small, daily things, and to seek greater intimacy with Him.
If you enjoy my blog and would like to contact me, you may reach me at this email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of my stories are published in: A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers and Daughters (Adams Media, 2009) Chicken Soup: What I Learned from the Dog (2009) Love is a Flame (Bethany House, 2010) Extraordinary answers to Prayer (Guideposts, 2010) Love is a Verb (Bethany House, 2011) Big Dreams from Small Spaces (Group Publishing, 2012)
Hi Readers: I am in the process of moving my blog posts to WordPress. If you'd like to follow me over there, you can type in this address: http://dena.netherton.wordpress.com
and my blog should come up.
If not, please let me know by email: email@example.com
Thanks so much!
When a person comes to Christ, his or her eternal life begins immediately.
Sure, there are wonders to anticipate in the future.
But Christ promised abundant life right now.
This abundance consists of His loving presence, His power, His protection, His provision.
Can you think of another philosophy or religion that offers that?
In all other religions, the disciple is required to perfectly live up to some strict standard, sacrifice his happiness, even his life for some far-off reward in heaven.
Or perhaps he must try, in another life, to improve himself.
The reward is always far off and un-seeable.
But the wonders of the life of the Christian is Christ.
The absolute joy of a relationship right now with Christ, the Alpha and Omega, the Creator, the Savior who loves me just as I am.
The life that He gives me is one that is lived in the power of Christ.
Because our merciful Lord knows that we are puny and that we cannot successfully live out God's requirements in our own power.
And the other wonderful thing about the life in Christ.
We can KNOW where we'll be after our physical life has ended.
Not just hope. Really know.
I have failed so many times to meet God's requirement for perfection.
I do not deserve heaven.
But one day I pleaded for Christ to save me.
He gave me His righteousness.
I did nothing to deserve it.
As surely as Christ never lies and has promised to give eternal life to all who trust in Him,
I can know where I'll be when my physical life has ended.
Even now, when I do or say things that displease God, I still know that because Christ died in my place, I have not lost my relationship with Christ. His love calls me to ask forgiveness of Him and the person I have wronged.
My eternity began the day I received Him.
I do not have to wait for eternal life someday way off in the future.
It has already begun.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him." (John 3: 16-17 NIB Bible)
When I was a small child I found the world of adults—particularly my parents— gargantuan, scary, and incomprehensible.
The things they conversed about sounded like gibberish.
They could do things that seemed god-like, such as lighting a pilot light, driving a car, or going to sleep in a dark, dark room without needing a night-lite.
Who else but a god could read a newspaper and understand it, let alone enjoy its contents?
Who else but a god knew how to drive from our house to some strange place we'd never been before?
And who but a god knew the order of our days: when to get up, what to wear, and if the events of the day were going to diverge from the ordinary?
So when my god-like parents determined that it was time to take a nap, I did not question them.
When food was placed before me, it did not occur to me to ask for menu options.
If my parent-gods were pleased with me, my world felt secure.
If one of these gods was displeased, I felt shame.
A few years passed.
I went to school, socialized with my peers, and learned to do god-like things like read and write.
By ten, my parents were no longer gods. Sure, they were people to be admired, even feared at times.
But they no longer dwelt on Mt. Olympus.
I let them know by my words and body language that I no longer accepted their orders and instructions just because they proclaimed them.
I ceased to be a little child.
This is as it should be for the growing child. He or she must begin to learn how to live independently.
But in the supernatural world of the seeker of Christ, or the disciple of Christ, to be child-like is exactly what we need to be.
To recognize that the world surrounding us is gargantuan, often scary and almost always incomprehensible.
And to trust that our Father knows what is best for us.
Unlike the little child living under his parents' roof, I will never grow so mature and knowledgeable that I won't need Him.
I need to keep reminding myself that...
He is the Alpha and Omega
and I am just a wee small babe in constant need of protection and guidance.
"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And He said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" (Matt. 18: 1-3 NIV Bible)
Saturday, I went to a writer's seminar down in Denver. It's about a 65 mile trip back to Estes.
I had to go through Boulder, which has pretty heavy traffic.
I was tired and annoyed by traffic lights and just wanted to get home as quickly as possible.
But I needed gas pretty soon.
I could have stopped at the Conoco on the main drag.
But it would be so much easier to get gas once I got into Estes.
I didn't feel like getting out of my car.
And I was tired.
And the gas is cheaper up the hill.
The way up highway 36 was clogged with slow-moving RVs and I gritted my teeth at the 35 mile per hour pace.
Once I reached Estes I noticed that traffic was especially heavy. I thought, it must be the rodeo that's brought extra out-of-towners and tourists. It's crowded enough during the summer months because of all the tourists coming to visit Rocky Mountain National Park.
I proceeded to the gas station on Highway 34 and filled up.
But getting out of the gas station proved impossible.
Drivers coming west on 34 were so anxious to get through the intersection of 34 and 36 that they pulled up bumper to bumper and blocked all the business entrances.
Getting over three lanes so I could turn toward home was going to be impossible.
I glanced to the east. An unending stream of cars extended beyond view.
Maybe I could back up and take another route.
Nope. Three cars had pulled up behind me.
They were probably hoping I'd pull out and just shove my way into the thick of cars.
But when traffic is backed up the way it was that evening, you don't mess with peoples' good will.
It's in short supply.
I felt my blood pressure rise. My stomach knotted. My breathing turned shallow.
I tried to calm myself, but the primitive part of my brain was screaming, "You're trapped!"
A free spot opened in the right turn only lane.
I took it. Better to be on the road even if it's not the right road.
I drove way up the hill, beyond the Stanley Hotel, made a legal u-turn and got myself in the right direction.
Getting home should have taken me four minutes. It took over twenty.
Okay, so it wasn't the worst crisis a body can face.
But all of this could have been avoided if I'd simply gotten my gas down the hill in Boulder.
I guess the moral of my story would be this: since you don't know what's up ahead, you may as well take care of essential business now, when it's do-able.
The Word of God seems to agree with this moral:
"Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well." (Ecc. 10:6 NIV Bible)
Darn these weeds.
I hate 'em.
We've got big, furry weeds and thistles. Round-up spray takes care of them.
But then there's the dreaded "white weed."
That's not its real name; we just call it by its appearance.
I've been told it's a noxious weed and needs to be removed so it doesn't take over.
These "white" weeds emerge from the ground as a single seemingly innocuous stem.
But if you don't pull them out then, more stems sprout.
Eventually the weed takes on a kind of bowl like shape and grows wider and taller.
Then, as if to mock me, this ugly, prolific weed sports a couple of pretty white flowers at the very top.
You have to reach down and grasp it at the very bottom, then pull straight up.
If you don't do that, the stems will break and the root will remain to regrow more stems.
Not only that, but if you don't wear garden gloves, the weed leaves tiny stickers in your hands and forearms.
I've tried the easy solution: dumping poison on them, but it only burns the stems. The weeds are untouched.
No, the only thing for it is to pull them.
And another thing about these "white" weeds: they like to grow right up inside the foliage of some nice welcome plant. Those sneaky infiltrators!
I've been tempted to bulldoze the entire yard just to rid us of the white weeds.
But I'd sure hate to lose all the other wonderful flowers and shrubs.
What a great illustration for us as Believers. We need to root out any sort of evil the moment it emerges. Otherwise it grows and spreads and causes us no end of trouble.
And don't you just hate that?
The Apostle Paul warns us: "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (Ephesians 4: 31, 32 NIV Bible)
When we lived in Paradise, California, a skunk used our backyard as his private highway.
I believe he lived under a large shed which still sat on the vacant lot next door.
Skunk had his nightly routine down.
First he scratched for grubs around the shed.
Then he moved to the grassy area right outside the master bedroom.
Since it's warm in Paradise in the summer, we kept the windows open at night.
I could hear his nightly forays outside our bedroom.
His next activity was checking out the bunnys' food that fell from their hutch. This was on the opposite side of our backyard.
Sometimes Skunk got his schedule a little mixed up and he'd cross our backyard an hour early.
Which meant that he'd be in our yard when it was time for our dogs to go outside for their nighttime potty.
One particularly warm night we had all the windows in the house open.
Daughter Kiri opened the kitchen door and let Dudley and Sprite run outside.
She left the door open since they usually did their business quickly, then ran back inside.
On this occasion, they tragically intersected with Skunk, who automatically let 'em have it with both barrels.
Dudley and Sprite, frantic to escape the noxious spray, raced back inside.
Now I know we've all smelled skunk odor as we drive down some local road.
That's bad enough.
But have you ever smelled skunk fumes close up?
Holy Cow! It's unbelievably repulsive.
Kiri ran into her bathroom to retch.
And I, fighting the same urge, screamed for my husband to grab the dogs. The spray had coated their fur and they were running around the house trying to get away from the smell by rubbing against our furniture.
If the neighbors had overheard us, I'm sure they would have called 911. We sounded like we were dying.
We wiped the dogs' faces, then put them back outside. There was nothing more that could be done for them until morning when I could buy some odor remover.
We directed fans toward the windows, then hid in our bedrooms with doors shut for the rest of the night.
It took several days for the dogs and our house to return to normalcy.
I went to our local pet supply and bought several bottles of the enzyme cleaner that helps remove skunk odor from fur. I chuckled as I set them on the counter. "Boy, I'll bet our dogs have learned their lesson about skunks."
The store owner shook his head. "Not a chance. Dogs never learn that lesson. They'll go after a skunk again and again and get skunked every time."
A few months later Skunk met his doom when he decided to take another route through the neighbors yard just behind us. Their big black dog dispatched him discreetly and with amazing skill. We never smelled Skunk during that deadly attack.
Still, I remembered what the pet store owner said: "they never learn."
Gosh, I hope I learn my lessons better than my dogs.
I hope I don't keep repeating some stupid act over and over expecting a different result.
By the way, isn't that the definition of madness?
Do you ever notice yourself doing or saying something habitually that always ends in family strife?
We all have patterns of behavior, both good and bad.
Perhaps some of them need amending.
So you don't get skunked.
Here's a rather graphic proverb:
"As a dog return to its vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly." (Proverbs 26: 11 NIV Bible)
I love my country.
Founded on the principles of liberty, equality, the rights of man under an eternal, unchanging God.
Today we celebrate our independence from the tyrannical government of 18th century Britain.
We love the word independence.
Free, free at last.
We love to say "it's a free country."
As children we say to our older brother or sister, "You're not the boss of me!"
As teens we say to our parents,"I want to do what I want to do."
As adults we chafe under laws or regulations that prevent us from driving as fast as we want to, or parking where prohibited, or wearing shoes and shirt, or playing our music as loud as we want.
We want independence.
We think of independence as a good thing...always.
Surely, independence from a tyrannical government is a good thing.
And I thank God that brave men and women risked their lives to ensure our freedom.
But is independence always a good thing?
How about our independence from God?
Many morally blind people in our country are celebrating this.
And work through our government to force this independence on the rest of us.
Apart from God, we are, at best, morally feeble.
And always supremely selfish and bent only on our own interests.
It is only when we submit to the Lord and invite Him to fill us with His Spirit that we possess His power to love as He loves, to care and invest ourselves for others, to forgive, to govern ourselves wisely.
It is not a good thing to be independent of God.
Today, as we celebrate our country's independence,
let us also celebrate with even greater joy, our DEPENDENCE on our indescribably wonderful Lord God.
Jesus said: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5 NIV Bible)
I volunteered to help teach the four and five-year-olds Sunday School yesterday.
There were three of us adults in the class, which was just about perfect, considering that each of these kids has a strong personality and tremendous energy.
A little later in the hour, two other kids arrived. The boy joined right in for the lesson. But the little girl—I'll call her Joni—proceeded straight to a table and climbed underneath.
We teachers welcomed her and invited her to join the group.
But she remained there for the duration of the lesson and song-time and nothing I said could induce her to leave her spot.
Which was a bit of a problem because she distracted the other children and some of them tried to climb underneath the table to join her.
After song-time I said, "Okay, it's time to wash our hands and get ready for snack time."
Immediately our little Joni jumped up and rushed to the head of the line for wash-up.
I helped her suds her hands and rinse and dry them.
She ate her graham cracker with gusto and quickly downed her dixie cup of water.
I sat down next to Joni as the craft items were place on the table
She dove for the crayons and stickers.
Hmm, this little girl sure fooled us. She had seemed shy when she entered the room.
"Can you write your name?"
She looked at me as if I were crazy. Without a word, she deftly wrote her name at the bottom of her sheet of paper, then glanced up at me as with a cute but pugnacious thrust of her tiny chin.
She placed her stickers amongst the words, "Jesus loves me."
Then colored with a skillful hand.
Joni insisted that I sit nearby so I could see how well she was coloring.
She did color remarkably well.
After she finished the craft, I said, "Can you draw other things?"
"Of course," she said. "Wait till you see how well I can draw a horse."
She turned the sheet over and grabbed another crayon. "Now close your eyes and don't look until I'm finished."
When she was done she told me I could look. Sure enough, she'd drawn a very recognizable horse and even added a saddle and stirrups.
We spent the rest of craft time talking about My Little Ponies and I told her about my granddaughter's collection of My Little Ponies.
After the Sunday school ended, one of the teachers remarked, "Well, it looks like all Joni needed was someone to connect with."
Arriving late, Joni saw that we were already involved in an activity and found the area underneath the table a safer place to be.
I've seen this with grown people too.
Not that they hide underneath tables!
I work in women's ministries and have seen grown women arrive at a women's social, then turn around and go home if they do not quickly find an available table to sit at with women they already know.
But once they're safely situated, they talk and participate like old pros.
Just like Joni.
Folks, let's turn our eyes outward and notice others.
It's so easy to only think about our own schedules and our own friends.
Look around. Is some person sitting all by himself at church? Go sit with him.
Who's that couple in the lobby at church? Go over and introduce yourself.
How about that nice family three doors down from your own house? Invite them over for lunch.
And if you are lonely, call somebody and invite them to do something together. Don't wait for somebody to call you. Make the first move. People will love you for it!
Everybody wants to be wanted.
Sometimes the connection is as simple as trading stories about My Little Pony.
"Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he had received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms." (1 Peter 4: 7-10 NIV Bible)