Numbers…

I received a number today for a young man I’ve known since birth.  It broke my heart.  It was a prison number. I wept looking at the number after his name.  I thought of the significance of this number and what it meant in Jail and what it will mean moving forward.

I pray he lives beyond that number.  I’m praying prisonfor the number to become a memory.  Praying that number which represents a mess, will become part of his message.  This child I held as a baby, who grow up with my kids side by side, diverged and now  he isn’t a name, he’s a number….for this season.

What are numbers?  They are a symbol or word in a series  for identification.  For now, he will identify and be identified by this number.  But God calls him still by name.  God sees him as son, not number #31-68734.  His family still calls him by name but where he lives, they shout out his number.

450px-NumbersBookCover.svgNumbers play a major role in our lives.  From our chromosomes to our vertebrae to the number of bones in our hand and the muscles it takes to frown, our bodies are connected and identified by numbers.  Here in the United States we are issued a Social Security number at birth that is used for a variety of purposes like taxes, insurance and education, that number defines and unlocks information we need.

Phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers are all crucial to defining our communication with each other and our wealth.

 

Numbers are used in the bible from the 10 Commandments to the days 40 days of the floodBundesstraße_40_number.svg
and 40 days and 40 years in the wilderness and the 12 tribes of Judah…all of these events and issues defined by a number.

Numbers-Chapter-SummariesThere is even a book with the title “Numbers” in the Bible.  Ironically or perhaps not, the book of Numbers explains how Israel prepared to enter the promise land, but sinned and was punished. The title refers the two population censuses Moses took during that period.

There are four themes in Numbers.  The beginning depicts the preparation for the journey  to the Promised Land. The second portion talks about the Israelites travel and grumbling and how God continued to provide for them.  numbersThe third portion discusses their disobedience and severe punishment for being unfaithful to God. The final theme addresses the new generation and their victorious conquests, more disobedience and finally the entry into the Promised Land after 40 years of wandering in the desert.

The book of Numbers recounts God’s unfailing direction in the lives of his people. It shows the ways God tested their endurance and their faithfulness. Though they sinned, God remained faithful to guide them on their journey with the pillar of fire by night and cloud by day.  God never left them alone in the desert. He never ventured far from them in the wilderness.

barbed wireI pray this for number #31-68734.  May this wilderness experience be his NUMBERS moment.  May he come to see God and feel His faithfulness and sense a new direction in his life. My prayer is that if you are experiencing a Numbers moment, you to would feel God’s presence and recalculate your destination with HIS help.

 

POINT TO PONDER: Are you called by a number? Are you experiencing a Numbers Moment? Call on the Name of Jesus. There is power in the name of Jesus.  Struggling? Turn it over.  Here’s some inspiration about God’s ability to take your Number and give you a name.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upLBLppWTj0

 

 

Celebrate … Seriously?

Word for 2012 (part two) Living it.

So, last post I mentioned that my word for the year was CELEBRATE!  Not just Celebrate, but do it with Joyful Anticipation.  Within a week or so of getting ‘my word for 2012’, we got an unexpected phone call.

“I need to let you know about dad, he well, he died actually,” said the emotional cracking voice of my sister-in-law.

I reeled back and lost my breath.  He was fine at Christmas. I braced myself to tell my husband the words he would not be expecting and that would forever change his life.  I immediately flashed back to the evening in 1985 when my sister showed up unexpectedly at my dorm room door with the same sentence.

Celebrate?  Joy?  Would there be Joy again anytime soon.  Brian left shortly after to go pick up the pieces in Ohio, while I held down the fort at home until we could get out to meet-up with him for the funeral.

In my office sat the angel with the CELEBRATE Placard.  Really Lord?  Celebrate? Joy?

I purposed to look for opportunities to celebrate during those days from phone call to burial.  We celebrated a life that would be missed.  We celebrated an unexpected snow fall that brought a calmness over the house as we reveled in its beauty.  We celebrated the opportunity to bless others by giving away some of my father-in-laws clothing to someone who knew and loved him, and needed the gift.  I celebrated the time with my family.  I discovered that if I looked for it, celebration was there.  I didn’t JOYFULLY Anticipate a moment of it; but we did Celebrate.

It made me wonder where the JOY part was to come in.  I found John 12:22 that said,

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

Watching others grieve, it made me realize that the only SOURCE of Joy has to be God – because he is unchanging.

I thought of Paul and Silas when they were bound and chained in prison.  They sang praises because their JOY was NOT in their circumstance their joy was in the Lord. They trusted the Lord to take care of them and help them through their trials and he did just that.

The morning of the funeral I was really down.  I felt joyless.  In a few hours, I would have to watch my husband participate in the funeral for his father, his golfing buddy, his confidant.  Brian had become an adult and was able to develop that tender relationship between adult sons and fathers. When I lost my dad, I lost a dad.  I was really too young to have called him more than Father.  This loss was a double whammy.

Spirit broken and dreading the next few hours, I tried to pray. I wanted to be an example of a Godly wife, mother, and believer. I called out to God.  Then I found my MP3 player and began to listen to worship music.  My heart began to sing and my joy in the Eternal God was renewed.

A worshipping heart can drive out despair and give us joy.  If we have joy we have hope. If we have hope we can pray.  Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”  I sought that filling and He answered.

Since then, there’s been two more funerals, death of a loved horse, countless cancer diagnoses in my friends, and a near fatal car accident involving the son of a friend.  Each time, I looked at that CELEBRATE! angel and sought joy the only place I could find it.

Joy is truly found in God’s presence.  While getting there can be tough, there is cause for celebration when our hearts collide with HIS.

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” Psalm 16:11

Point to Ponder: Where can you connect with your creator to find JOY?

The letter

It was an ordinary day two weeks ago when I stopped to pick up the mail. I opened the box and saw a large cardboard important looking envelope it was addressed to my son.  In my heart I had the feeling that life would never be the same.

Jacob and me at my nephews wedding in October

 I looked at it in there – looming large. Knowing that once it was pulled out, then opened, everything would change. I pulled it out with the bills and other junk and I sat in the driveway. I cradled the envelope in my hands.Office of Admissions, shouted the return address in the corner. 

I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw my eyes over flowing with tears.  Tears of pride and joy but also tears for what used to be, when in my arms, I was cradling that sweet baby boy…not his ticket out of here.

Flash forward to this week when preparing for a speaking engagement that utilizes scripture, I was looking for an illustration to make the Bible meaningful to my audience, something they would relate to.

At 3:47am on the morning I was to speak, I got the nudge. No, not from my husband, from my Father, my Heavenly Father who seems to like to speak to me at this time of the morning…before coffee Lord?

Our mission Trip in San Luis Mexico

He laid on my heart, that His Word – the Holy Bible –  is very much like Jacob’s acceptance letter from the admissions office.  Jacob’s letter mentioned how special he was, how excited they were to extend him the invitation and what steps he needs to take to accept their offer. (The letter to his parents a few days letter mentioned what it would cost)

The Bible tells us how special we are. (“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor.”  ~ Psalm 8:4-5) To say nothing of the fact we were worth dying for.

The Bible tells us how excited God is about giving us the chance to enter His Kingdom. (“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  ~ John 3:16)

The Bible tells us how to accept God’s offer of admission to His family. (“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  ~John 14:6 NIV)

Recently our community was rocked by the tragic death of a vibrant, healthy, active, adorable 17 year old girl in a car accident. I watched my son grieve his first loss of a peer. I saw him change a little having tasted the bitterness of grief and the loss of someone his own age.  Listening to the classmate’s family speak, they have a peace.   Their peace comes from knowing that their daughter ACCEPTED the invitation. She read God’s letter to her and she accepted the offer of admittance.

The Bible is God’s invitation to you.  It speaks of your value and your worth.  If you are struggling with wondering who you are and how you fit in, read his letter to you.  I recently heard the quote: “God is the only author who is present every time his book is read.” – want to connect with God? Read his letters. 

POINT TO PONDER:  If you’ve read the Bible, what chapter or verse do you feel was written especially for you and why? If you’ve not read the Bible lately, why?

Gone Fishing – Tribute to my dad

“Gone Fishing” is what the note said on the table. It was nothing new for my father as he enjoyed heading to the lake after a hard day’s work. When my brother came home and saw the note, little did he know it would be the last thing dad would ever write.

Two weeks earlier dad hopped down the steps of my freshman dorm saying, “Two more weeks kiddo and you are all done!,” then he wrapped me in his big daddy arms and kissed my cheek, for the last time. It was the night before finals when my sister showed up in my dorm fishing through her purse for tissues and took me home.

Daddy and his kids outdoors!

Unbeknownst to us the week before his death, dad had taken his Honda 750 all over town visiting folks he hadn’t seen in months, even years. We found this out as the droves of people who came to the funeral home in waves for hours on end would say, “I can’t believe it, he was just at our house last week.”

For dad it was a matter of genetics. His father’s first heart attack was at 42, my father’s at 46. He was only 54 when he went fishing for the last time. With the only friend he had who was not a believer or proficient in CPR, not that it would have helped.

It was a May evening and dad and Ron were bringing the boat back across the lake when my dad got a big hit on his line and reeled in a lovely specimen, just a tad under regulations. His friend said, “Neil there’s no one around, just keep it, them’s good eatin’.” Dad who had a knack for doing the right thing replied, “No we’ll put him back he’ll make a good keeper next season.”

As they rounded the corner of the lake, the limestone bridge where Route 422 traversed was awash in a golden hue of sunset. Dad said, “That is exactly how I picture heaven; all bright and glittering like that.” Little did Dad know that within moments, he would get to cross over a similar looking bridge into eternity.

Dad had been a rebel in the army and raised his share of heck as a young lad. But his life and my legacy changed when he came across a man who told him about a certain fisherman, a “fisher of men”. The man was Billy Graham in 1968. Billy Graham had gone fishing in Pittsburgh and reeled in a keeper, my father.

From then on my dad changed his life and set out to learn as much as he could about Jesus Christ. He studied, he read and eventually he taught and counseled. This tool and die operator found himself a child of a King and a fisher of men. Many of those he led to the Lord had their own stories during the funeral and some share still years later.

Dad, an avid fisherman and hunter, loved being outdoors in the Lord’s creation but the quietness of a lake, fishing with a friend was truly his favorite place to be. As much as he loved to reel in a bass or a salmon he loved reeling in people to the kingdom.

Ron said that Dad put his rod and tackle against the car and turned around. Ron walking toward dad, saw dad’s face break into a smile. “It looked like he was seeing someone he knew and was happy to see,” Ron later explained. “I thought your brother or someone he knew was behind me. When I turned to look I saw no one. When I turned back around your dad was slumped down with a smile on his face and a peaceful happy look.” Forty-five minutes later, dad was being whisked into an ER but he was already home.  

His friend went through a serious health crisis as his blood pressure sky rocketed and depression of losing one of his best friends set in. Through my dad’s witness in his life and in his death, Ron came to know the reason for the smile and gave his life to Christ. That day, the Master fisherman had gone fishing and took home a real keeper. Even to the end, dad was a fisher of men and he did his best to stock heaven.

Neil E. Pilston Sr.     January 1932 – May 1985

Daddy as a teen!

Power of a Name

Pondering the dog. Yes at 6 a.m. the thumping of a lab tail can only mean one thing. Someone said the name CAMEO. She knows her name.
The minute someone says her name she jumps to attention. If you are going she’ll be on your heels. If she’s doing something naughty she stops instantly at the sound of her name. Her name – simply spoken, evokes immediate response.
At the pool there can be hundreds of kids but the MOM! Yelled from one of my children stops me in mid stride, mid sentence, mid bite – whatever I am doing, immediate attention is shifted to the calling child.



http://lindajackmanphotography.com/





Our Creator has many names.
ELOHIM: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong”
EL SHADDAI: “God Almighty,” “The Mighty One of Jacob”
ADONAI: “Lord”
YAHWEH-JIREH: “The Lord will Provide”

YAHWEH-RAPHA: “The Lord Who Heals”

EL ROI: “God of Seeing”

From the Old Testament through the New Testament scriptures abound of people calling on the name of the Lord and Him answering in their time of need. Whether for rain or for dry land, wisdom or power, protection or offspring, God routinely answered their call.

In the Old Testament it says  “…whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD [YHWH] shall be delivered.”(Joel 2:32) In the New Testament it says “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)

When I am in doubt or in trouble I call on the name of God. He is listening, even when it doesn’t seem like it. God has a name for every need we have. Like a parent who can sense their child’s desperate cry, the maker of us, knows our voice when we cry out.

No matter the need our God already knows it, he just wants to be asked to help. My friend calls Him “Daddy God”. She never had a real father and God was the only Father or “daddy” she knew.

God will not force himself on us. Allow your Heavenly father to be involved in your needs. No need is too big or too small. Call on his name like David did when he defeated Goliath, like Moses did when he bumped into the Red Sea, like Daniel did when the lions were circling.

That same God who helped David’s aim, parted the waters and closed lion jaws is waiting for your call.

Point to Ponder:
Do you have a Goliath, a Red Sea or some circling lions in your life? What is holding you back from calling on the name of God?

%d bloggers like this: