Friday, March 4, 2016


Who is Grace? That was exactly my heartfelt question in 1997.  Ask and you shall receive indeed! Remembering when I was eight years old, my dearest Opa, our imported Gardner from Germany taught me to look through the eyes of God at nature. It has been over 50 years since Opa Ross demonstrated his trust in every season and his admiration of all creation. Daily Opa tended the garden by generously watering the flowers and trees. He pinched off the dead which increased growth and he delighted to watch me twirl with Lynn Castles on the grass. We laughed and played Tarzan on the sky high swing.  Dwarfed by the giant redwood tree I felt small but not insignificant. Butterflys and birds danced through the clouds and looking back now I know that the garden was my sacred place of refuge.  The rose garden at 33 West Rose in Stockton was one of my favorite places to just be alone drenched in the grace of God. It was my Father's pleasure to create all things of beauty, just for my enjoyment. Watching the seasons change, I knew God was changing me.. "and he said to them, be careful what you are hearing.  The measure you give will be the measure that comes back to you, and more will be given to you who hear." Mark 4:24 AMP
The measure of thought I lend to God in nature, the more I meditate on His Word, the more grace He pours into my heart. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Proverbs 23:7 ~ Enjoying the peace that comes from knowing God, His blessed assurance is ever speaking to me.  Listening and marveling in silence, He whispers "walk in My grace and see through the new eyes I have given you. Love others unconditionally as I have loved you." Sweet quiet times in the garden cause a distinct hunger in my soul for more time alone with my Jesus. I am stilled and hushed by the beauty found in each season of my life. My youth was the innocence and energy of Spring, my lessons are in the Fall when I shed all I think I must do to earn grace. The Winters chill is a time to pause and be grateful with hope for my future, and the Summer is a time to blossom in the Son and rejoice in the things yet to come. The thorns in life, and on the rose bushes --- are perfectly designed to protect us from more harm.
God knows my heart and He hears my unspoken prayers. Opa trimmed all branches down to the root ball in the Fall.  He instructed me to wait and watch what God would do with the appearance of a stripped naked plant.  During the winter, deep down from the root, the stem drinks up life giving nutrients from the soil during the storms above. A rosebud emerges in the spring and opens up in the sun. I am confident that my heavenly Father's hand has been upon me all my life.  He softened the heart of Dad and Mom to sponsor Opa and Oma from Germany to America.  Our meeting was by the divine design of God's will and timing in the life of a little girl who lived in a house of strife. There are no accidents, and Opa crossed my path for God's purpose. "He is the vine, we are the branches"  "I will give you living water, and you will thirst no
more"  My dearest adopted grandpa Opa could only speak German.  Even with our language barrier, his joy in the garden demonstrated his faith in the Father, the Author and Perfecter of our faith.  The Holy Bible is the story of two gardens.  Eden and Gethsemane.  In the 1st garden, Eden, Adam took a fall that caused man to need a Savior. In the 2nd garden, Gethsemane, Jesus took a stand for man.  In the 1st garden, God sought Adam.  In the 2nd garden, Jesus sought God.  In Eden, Adam felt shame and attempted to hide from God.  In Gethsemane, Jesus did not hide what He was feeling, He took His troubles directly to His loving Father.  In Eden, Satan led Adam to a tree that led to a life of suffering. From Gethsemane, Jesus went to a tree that led to the gift of free righteousness and the joy of eternal life with Jesus Christ our Lord.  

Much like Mephibosheth, little Barbie was overwhelmed by the kindness Opa showed to her. "for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father...I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather....and you will always eat at my table!" 2 Sam 9:1-7 ~
Scripture makes it clear to all who listen and hear what the Spirit is saying. God makes promises and He keeps them. A covenant is a binding, unbreakable obligation between two parties based on unconditional love. "Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of His purpose clear to the heirs of what was promised, He confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that  we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us has entered on our behalf." Hebrews 6:13-19  ~  It is my hope to exert my will to trust Jesus in all circumstances. My Lord Jesus knows me far better than I know myself.  He completely comprehends the complexity of Barbara Sue, His creation.  No detail of my life is hidden from my Lord.  I trust my Lord Jesus wnough to fully accept the forgiveness, mercy and grace that He offers me continuously. As a child, the soil of my heart was ready to receive all of what God was watering in that rose garden with Opa. This old man did not speak English, he could not teach with more than his example
of AWE and DELIGHT in nature. So when I watched a movie named Joshua, it touched a deep memory in me about the simplicity of God's love for His children. Joshua moved into the small town of Auburn, California.  Immediately his humble arrival awakened a certain curiosity of each person who seemed asleep to the truth, the GOOD NEWS.  "Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." Isaiah 51:3 - In the movie, the locals are not quite sure of how to read this extremely kind man.  They do not know where he came from, but each person who encounters Joshua takes an easy liking to him.  "The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." John 3:8 ~ He asked for a place to stay and found delight to stay in a barn with a hole in the roof. When it rained outside, Joshua stayed dry, it did not rain inside. "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!" Mark 4:41 ~ In the movie, and in this very real life, Jesus working through the character of Joshua, helps a troubled family facing a divorce,
and a woman with a shattered heart find peace. People felt comfortable with him and they easily opened up and shared their struggles. Joshua embraced all people in town. Church goers and those who have disconnected or distanced themselves from grace, all found him friendly. Joshua smiled upon everyone in the community without judgment.  "Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" John 1:12-13 ~ Joshua drew people to himself by his attractive soft masculinity, his humble occupation as a simple carpenter, and his genuine compassion for everyone.  He embodied love and displayed "I am your friend". A hard hearted Catholic priest is softened as he watches Joshua assist the Baptist pastor rebuild a burned down church. Regardless of any person's denominational preference, he walks in grace and loves them all. He attends an energetic Christian rock concert with the town's youth, and in the end has an audience with the Pope. His gentle presence challenged the local and world adopted "church
authority" to question their hollow observance of all the rules that are NOT required by God, Himself. Joshua watered the thirsty seed of hope inside each person he met in Auburn.  "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches." Matthew 13:31" Jesus said "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener." John 15:1 ~ Let us look at HUMANS as Jesus did.  Jews in Jerusalem or gentiles in Bethlehem, all humans were created and cherished for all the great differences God foreknew would result from Adam grabbing that shiny red apple.  Nothing humans do shocks the Creator of all things. He is AMAZED and desires that we "GET" the beauty of people and nature.  Joshua moved in as a stranger and quickly befriended people, despite their natural tendency to doubt his pure intentions to simply help.  He drew people by his compassion and his attention to their needs. The true gift of life is the incredible opportunity to be in community and to contribute our gifts. Each human has tremendous value, no matter the country or culture.   Diverse and unique, we are each uniquely created and gifted.  By His grace we are free
to experience different cultures, different traditions, different foods, different languages, and enjoy the beauty of different times, customs and civilizationsOur submission and our obedience to love others as we are loved allows us to see with the eyes of the indwelt Holy Spirit.  When we respond to His way of seeing things we begin to appreciate all the people that God has purposely placed in our life.  The difficult people, the sad people, the lost, the happy, the educated, the blind and the silent ones. Instead of shrinking the world into the box we believe it belongs in, we humbly wear the righteousness of Christ and love people as they are, we speak to them with terms that place them into roles God would have for them, we give them hope. God spoke words to a failing man named Abraham as if he already "believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness." Genesis 15:6  "before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickenth the dead, and calleth
those things which are NOT as though they were." Romans 4:17 ~ The thing that was not, was Abe's righteousness.   God called Abe righteous, even though he was not.... just yet.  God led Abe to live in a certain place,  but Abe disobeyed and went to Egypt. There he picked up a servant named Hagar to birth him a child to receive the inheritance.  God chose Sarah to bear Issac. Abe's failures did not keep God from calling a thing as if it were. By God's definition of righteousness, not Abe's actions, Abe became the father of many nations.   We know that God requires righteousness, but we fail to accept the free gift of righteousness   In the movie of Joshua, he told a stuttering black man that he would preach someday.  Joshua told a priest who loved to fish that one day he would lead the church.  Joshua gave a woman with a shattered heart, HOPE for a better life, following His way of forgiveness.
We are immersed in the grace of God as we look at our world through His eyes. The beauty of strangers passing out smiles, the fluid movement of our legs as we walk, our signature voices, our brain,our hearts pumping, our lungs breathing,  the facial expression that comes with joy and contentment. There is invisible beauty inside the relationship we share between family members as we share activities and experiences you share together.  There is beauty in order, how we get to order our day, calendar, our time to do nothing or to wash the dishes.  Beauty is deeper than airbrushed skin on people that move like robots. Beauty is in life, not just your own life, but in the energy and care you invest in sharing a story, helping a friend, being kind.  Beauty exists in the choice to not honk the horn in traffic.  Beauty exists whether we claim it, appreciate it or categorize it!   As predicted, thanks to the advent of the internet, our amazing planet earth has no borders, and we get news from afar daily.  We get soundbites of war, gruesome tales of rape, senseless attacks, bullying, and the unfortunate disrespect for a humans right to
choose his path, his belief, his way and his faith.  FEAR is false evidence appearing real and as people we react instead interact with those that do not behave or believe what we do, we honor what Jesus did in us, or we forget, and behave like the lost and moan.  Choosing how to respond so that the message is "you are valued, you are worthy of love" is a choice to let go of prejudice, pride, and speak the truth in such a way that we disarm those that feel they must lash out with their tongue or use other weapons of mass destruction. Individually we all have the right to dream, aspire, and have a political view.  As gifted people, as educated siblings, as caring parents we have been charged by God to take care, to speak kindly and show grace. We are supernaturally quipped emotionally, to face the harsh realities this world now offers. A humble little shepherd kid named David believed that his God was bigger than a giant man. David surrendered his will and his view to the will and view of God. David a sober mind, his faith in God was vigilant, unwavering in the face of his adversary.  Satan devours who he may, not the vigilant, but those weak in faith. Today we walk in new testament times.  Because
we confess confess with our mouth, and walk in faith, we consciously invite the will of God, we submit to His way and allow GRACE to work in us and for us. The free gift of righteousness is our coat of arms, it is our family crest, it is our promised inheritance  We have been thus equipped with victory over any foe, any temptation, any sin. We trust God at His Word and believe that  Jesus completely destroyed Satan. "It is finished" means that Satan was stripped of all power and authority over those who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord.  His finished work on the cross is where He fills us with confidence.  Jesus is trustworthy, He is able, and  He always tells us the truth.  In our weakness He is strong, in our need Grace shows up. The Holy Spirit abides in me, and I in Him, wherever He is, I am.  
In 2014 Little Barbie turned 63 years old. She still thrills at the TRUTH that she is a new creature in Christ and she has more than a ticket to heaven. According to Hebrews 7:19, a new nature is born instantly and she was filled by the Holy Spirit who changed her, equipped her and He reveals unto her the truth. He will never depart from her and He lavishes her with sufficient grace to do all things in Christ. Barbie is not ashamed of her need for Jesus or her human failures, mess ups or weaknesses.  God uses all things to confound the wise.  His grace is sufficient for her and she delights in her Lord.  PRAY: Lord Jesus, help me to RISE up from bed each day expecting that You hear my shout "GOOD MORNING LORD - I love You!" Increase my  faith and trust as I appreciate all You have done for me already. Lord, I ask that You help prepare me to face all that You have in store for me today. Thank You for another day, for the glorious opportunity to shine, and to be kind to those who do not know You. I stand firm in my faith because I am anchored in You. I thank our Heavenly Father for the personal invitation to "COME TO ME" as I am --- to approach Your throne boldly without a need to hide in shame behind a fig leaf of fear. Father I pray in the name of Jesus, that you cleanse me of anything that does not honor my holy God. I ask that Your hand of protection remain on the United States, Mexico and Israel. I ask for Your  forgiveness for any hesitation on my part to go where you nudge me to go, to say what You prompt me to say, or to do whatever You ask me to do. I am in awe of You Lord, and I am filled with respect for being known as the Kings chosen and I delight in hearing You speak to me personally as I read Thy living Word. Teach me to trust You more and to let go of world stresses, or concerns about economics, politics, or that Your plans could ever be undone by those who deny the power and authority of Jesus Christ, my Lord.  Instruct me Holy Spirit, for I am listening to what the Spirit is saying. Increase my love and respect for each person You place in my path.  Thank You for giving me PEACE that surpasses any world understanding, and for carrying all my burdens. AMEN

1 comment:

  1. Written in December 2012 as a newlywed living in Galt, California