Under Fire…

Unfathomable.

Photos and descriptions of the fires devouring the Colorado landscape are incredibly overwhelming.  Watching the force of the fire knocking things over before it reaches its hot fingers out to engulf all that is in its path.  Witnessing the devastation in the wake of the walls of fire and watching the depth of despair in all those who have lost due to the devouring wave of flames is heartbreaking.

It’s with incomprehensible sadness we observe the gripping saga of our friends in the west.

As I prayed for the firefighters, the people in the towns awaiting orders to evacuate, I felt the word Hell seared upon my soul.  The scene and those who have experienced the wildfire’s wrath have described it as “hell on earth.”  It prompted me to ponder Hell.

I wait anxiously to learn if my friends in Colorado Springs have anything left to return to at all or if their home and possessions fell victim to the indiscriminate path of the destructive fire.

One of them has been working with the fire fighters at the base camp where the toll on these brave warriors has been immense.  From flora and fauna to wild life to townsfolk, nothing has been left unscathed. 

But for most of these people, life will go on.  It will be a long road of restoring what the fire destroyed…but for those who end up in Hell, there will be no second chances.  Sadly what we are seeing in Colorado could be an eternal reality for those who don’t know about the message of salvation.

Just like the firefighters working tirelessly to save people, pets and property…we should have a compelling urgency to rob Hell of victims to engulf in despair. Each time I see the flicker of a flame on the news, I pray “God use me”.

Years ago, my best friend’s dad was severely burned and scarred.  She said there wasn’t just a physical transformation as he adjusted to a life of scars, she said he was spiritually transformed as well.  “Dad was never the same after experiencing the burning of his flesh.  He said it gave him just a taste of what Hell might be like and inspired him to try to reach more people with the Life saving message of eternity with Jesus,” she explained.  These recent fires are igniting a passion in my heart for the same.

I am sure this post will be challenged by people who wonder if there really is a hell.  It’s not a gamble I am

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willing to take.  My prayer for Colorado is Rain and Restoration. My prayer for the unsaved is to Find Salvation. My prayer for myself is to be courageous to reach those whose future is destined to be charred by the choice of unbelief.  Will you join me?

Point to PonderIf you thought hell was even 1/10th of the intensity of a forest fire, would you wish it on anyone?  Is there someone in your life you’d like to share Jesus with? I pray you have wisdom, courage and the words that will change their heart.

(Photos on the page except the one at right were from a Colorado Friend’s Facebook Page)

Word of the Year 2012 (part one)

Part One:  Getting It (Part Two is “Living it” coming next week)

It was 11:59 pm on December 31st and while most were anticipating the ball dropping  in Times Square, I was pondering my word for 2012.  Trivial for some, but to those who know me, that word is pretty important. Normally I’ve pondered or run across a scripture that guides me to my “word for the year” before the current year runs out.  But alas the the ball was dropping and the word well was dry – as dry as my blog which hadn’t been updated in about 2 months.

The “word of the year” is a focus of how you will approach life during the coming year or an attribute you’d like to project for the year.  My past words have included dream, act, refresh, complete, hope…

As I gazed into the future of 2012 I saw many life changes. One child off to college, a book that hopefully will be published, education changes for the remaining kiddos and … who knows what else.  Many of these changes I looked forward to with teary eyes. (not to mention, wrinkles, weight gain and hot flashes)  I wondered if my word would be Kleenex, Chocolate, Zoloft or perhaps rapture?

The ball dropped, the sauerkraut was eaten, the confetti vaccuumed, and I was still wordless for 2012.  I shared my dilemma with some writer friends who pray.  I did my share of communicating with the Master of all words, the giver of my gifts and the only one who knew what my 2012 would look like. 

While I was asking God why all my friends had words and I didn’t, I was also “de-Christmasing”.  I came across a gift bag in my office that I didn’t recognize.  Upon opening it, I realized it was a speaker gift I had received back in December when I spoke at a Christmas Brunch in Baltimore. The chaos of coming home and multiple people unpacking the car resulted in this misplaced package. 

When I opened the box, I found a Willow Tree Angel! 

 

Her tag said Celebrate – with Joyful Anticipation.  At first I laughed and thought,  Really funny God…have you seen my calendar? 

But then I felt his gentle nudge.  His plan for me was to look forward to all of these changes with Joyful Anticipation.  Not to be robbed of joy by the paths that life would take in 2012; but to joyfully anticipate them and yes CELEBRATE them.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Phillipians 4:4

Each change, while presenting challenges, also presents the possibility for blessing for me and my family.  I felt a weight lift off my shoulders and yes, my eyes filled with tears.  My heavenly Father used an angel to send me a message.  The message: “Celebrate with joyful anticipation”.  There will most likely still be tears, but instead of spending the year in apprehension, I will spend it in Celebration!

(Stay Tuned for Part Two of this update:  Celebrate … Seriously? 3 funerals later, the death of a horse and numerous friends with sick kids, dying family members and some in comas…Celebrate Really?)

Point to Ponder:  Do you have a word?  If you had to pick a word that would sum up your 2011 what would it be? Would you choose a different word for 2012?  What word would you like to live out, or live up to in 2012?

Earthquake: Did you feel it?

Within minutes my twitter and facebook feeds were full of tremor talk about the Earthquake that hit the East Coast today, August 23, 2011.

Questions like “Did you feel it?” “Any Damage to report” “Where were you during the quake?” were cluttering my screen.

As my rocking chair gently shook, I had no idea that the sensation was an earthquake. We live near an airport and often the vibrations of infrequent turbo jets cause a slight tremor.  An email from my husband and subsequent seismic sleuthing yielded the answers to “What was that?” A 5.9 Earthquake located in Virginia was felt by my friends as far south as South Carolina, and as far north as New York.  One friend in Columbus reported the eerie sensation as well.

It caused me to ponder power, friction and vibrations.

According to the US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY site: An earthquake is what happens when two blocks of the earth suddenly slip past one another. The surface where they slip is called the fault or fault plane. The location below the earth’s surface where the earthquake starts is called the hypocenter, and the location directly above it on the surface of the earth is called the epicenter.

I immediately cued up my Netflix to watch a documentary on Earthquakes. It was awesome. Did you know that seismic waves can travel more than 15,000 miles per hour?  That is way faster than a bullet.  Did you know that in 2010 more than one quarter of a million people perished in Earthquake disasters?

Watching the footage of the devastation wrought by Earthquakes last year in Haiti and Chile was quitePhoto Marco Dormino/ The United Nations United Nations Development Programme disturbing.   The power unleashed actually lifted the coastline of Chile.  The magnitude of the quake essentially altered the length of our day albeit by hundredth of a second, but it was THAT powerful.

While scientists have studied for 50 years the how and why’s of earthquakes, they are very clear about the fact that predicting when one will occur with any accuracy at all is still impossible.

So what does the Bible say about Earthquakes and when they were recorded?  There are about 17 mentions of earth shaking and rock shattering events. One of my favorites was recorded in Exodus 19:18 when Mt. Sinai shook prior to Moses receiving the 10 Commandments. Perhaps God was ensuring he had Moses’ full attention. That event is mentioned again in Hebrews 12:18-21.

When God was speaking to Elijah at Mt. Sinai in 1 Kings 19:11 he used an Earthquake to show Elijah who had been hiding in a cave that God didn’t have to use a mighty voice, but simply could reveal himself in the still small voice that followed.

And my all time favorite was right after the death of Christ. In Matthew 27:51-54 it said as Jesus died on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn and rocks were broken. That quake and the circumstances surrounding it made the soldiers realize the man they crucified was truly the son of God.

While there were several compelling verses, the two below spoke to me.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.  ~ Mark 13:8

Thou shalt be visited of the LORD of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire. ~ Isaiah 29:6

Now in my limited research it is obvious that God used earthquakes to get the attention of people he was trying to communicate with.  Many big Biblical events are punctuated with earthquakes. (At least 17 times)

So it made me wonder about the latest earthquake. It hit the East Coast which is not a real hotbed for seismic activity and on its heels ironically (or perhaps not) comes Hurricane Irene.  If God is truly the same unchanging God of yesterday, today and tomorrow, what is he trying to communicate and to whom?

Point to Ponder:  Is there someone left on your “to do” list for sharing the gospel?  Has God been impressing upon you a mission or a direction he’d like you to go?  Heed his punctuation.  Go!  and Do!

Messenger of the King (Frodo of Fact and Fiction)

Why is it so easy to be a “writer” at a Writers Conference? Oy. I spent another super week in the company of gifted and obedient writers, speakers, teachers, publishers, agents and others. Truly a remarkable gathering of talent in one place.
Writers Conferences are not only places for connections but for inspiration as well. The Montrose Christian Writers Conference delivers both immeasurably. One of my favorite times is morning meditation where I journal and pray with a focus toward using my gifts and my ministry. The ministry of writing and yes –according to several of the speakers – it is a ministry.

 
While in prayer during the week, the phrase “Messenger of the King” , kept popping up in my thoughts and in my journal. Ironically or perhaps not, my family and I recently watched the third Lord of the Rings Movie ‘Return of the King’. JR Tolkien crafted a story about a hobbit named Frodo who came to possess a ring bringing the bearer a great burden. I thought about being a writer as I mulled ”Messenger of the King”. 

 

Most of what I write is truly about at Kissed by the Creator reflects the King of Kings. I weave his message and power into everyday life lessons. So consequently I am a ‘Messenger of the King’. But how often does the message get from idea to concept to being published? Sometimes we fall short in getting the message out there.

 
Like Frodo, you come into something brilliant and shiny. Your treasure is a new idea. A gift you believe from God. And like the hobbit with the ring you treat it tenderly you turn it over and examine it and ponder the precious possibilities of this glistening treasure.

 
Time passes, words are jotted and like the bearer of the ring, this idea begins to wear you down and become an obsession. Its put away and taken out and mulled over and over until you see the words in your sleep. Its power, potential and meaning become elusive.

 
In “Return of the King” the burden of the ring became so heavy it almost cost Frodo his special relationship with his best friend Samwise Gamgee and his life. At one point Frodo, believing a lie, lashes out at his companion Sam and sends him home.

 
We dare not cut off relationships with those that encourage us the most. As writers we all need a Samwise Gamgee, someone who comes along side of us when no one else will. A person who speaks life into us and our projects and doesn’t let us down. True to his calling Sam follows Frodo from a distance and is there to literally pick him up when he was completely spent. Sam says, “ I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” And with that he takes Frodo to the edge of the abyss where he must complete that which he was called to do.

 
Are you standing on the edge of the abyss? Is your once glistening project becoming a tarnished burden that you feel unable to carry? If so, connecting with other writers could be the answer for seeing you to the finish. If you feel burdened and stuck by something God has given you to do. Pray for an encourager to come and hold you accountable to finishing that which you are called to do.

 
As Christian writers our mission is to deliver either the gospel itself or the hope of the King. Even if our prose is not dotted with scripture, the content should point readers to the light. Being a messenger can be burdensome but it is an honorable charge. Executing well is crucial to being obedient to the King. I pray for those struggling. I pray God would bring encouragement to you as you use your gifts to HIS glory!
 

(Partial content of this commentary is used in “Empowering Tools for Writers” a workshop topic for conference beginners)

 

Point to Ponder: What was the most encouraging thing anyone has done for you with regard to your writing?

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