November 19, 2016

Simply because they are a person…

I read something by Max Lucado* (in a book of his that I've read and re-read) that if Jesus could teach us one thing it would be that a person has value simply because they are a person.

I love that, after the creation of the things of the world God created man. And it was good, very good.

Over 20 years ago I lived in an area where racism ran rampant and it shocked me.  Young and naive it saddened me and I couldn’t believe that racism actually existed to such a degree.  Now, older and not as naive, I'm happy to say it still shocks me.  It seems to be worsening not improving, we’re moving further and further from love and respect of each other.

Some say that our parents and or our leaders must be our right example, and I agree. Yet what about when they are not the right example?  What then?  Who then?

Micah 6:8 (NLT)
O people, the LORD has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

I get tired of hearing it (and certainly have had my share of failure at it); I almost don’t want to type it as the world is so narcissistic that I doubt this will be well received but people of planet earth … we need to be the bigger person and do right, love mercy, walk humbly with God.

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*No Wonder They Call Him The Savior by  Max Lucado

November 9, 2016

November 9, 2016

1 Timothy 2:2-4, 8 
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

Many year ago, in the back of a Bible I had been given, was an outline of sorts as to how to arrange prayers so that the many areas of our lives and the many requests are organized and can be touched on consistently.  Another of my lists that I find useful in life, an update is now needed.

Thursdays for me is the day I focus on the United States of America and its leaders and their families, the list will be edited to now include Donald and Melania Trump, Mike and Karen Pence and their families.  As I pray for the Obama and Biden families to transition to their new posts in life, I will pray the same for the Trump and Pence families and forward for the next 4 years.

Year ago I heard a pastor suggest these prayers for our leaders:  that they know Christ and accept Him as Savior, that they do the work, that has been assigned to them by God,  with kindness, compassion, integrity and generosity.

And so it begins:

Dear Lord this morning I lift up to you the Obama, Biden, Trump and Pence families, in particular Barak, Joe, Donald and Mike, Lord I am confident that You indeed know what You are doing (Jer. 29:11 MSG), these men are in Your hands, I respect Your judgment and pray that first You fill them each with the Holy Spirit and that it is You, Your wisdom, discernment, power and desires that lead them as they lead the United States of America. I pray for citizens that we also, seek and heed Your wisdom and discernment in our daily lives, over all LORD, your will be done, I pray and ask in Jesus’ name, amen.


November 8, 2016

November 8th, 2016

Proverbs 3:5-6
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.

Today is a day that will show a lot about us as Christians.  Do you trust Him; truly trust the LORD with all of your heart?  Do you lean on His understanding?

As the polls close and concession and acceptance speeches are made, this is a day for us to shine for Him.  We all have a choice, a privilege, I cannot tell you how to vote, but I can tell you that at the end of today, I’m going to trust the only One worthy of my trust.

Romans 13:1 …for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Trust in Him today, tonight and every moment forward.  And pray for those authorities that He establishes.

1 Timothy 2:2-4, 8  I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing.

May the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the peace that cannot be explained fill you today and always and through all our days, amen.
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October 25, 2016

Chronicles and Numbers…

Those books of the Bible I often get to and think why God would have us know these things?  Lists that go on and on, I admit at times finding these books monotonous to simply read.  To study, they are quite interesting, but that is not the point of this post, perhaps there is no point to this post, we’ll see.

Today as I sit for a moment and think of the coming weeks, a pet sitting job in progress simultaneously with a move and a vacation in the midst of it all.  I begin to make lists and strangely that makes me smile.

1000s of years from now, no one is going to pick up my lists and read them, let alone study them. They are only significant to me and most likely only for this period of time, but I like my lists.  It takes the things that are rolling around in my head in the most disheveled manner, puts them into a visual that somehow clears my head.

I know that God, in His Sovereignty, doesn’t need lists to remember or to organize or to clear His head. And somehow, just now as I realize a common thing between us (He likes lists too!) I feel that peace that is not explainable.  I sit thankful that He gave us lists, lists to teach us of our history and perhaps to help me feel less crazed about my lists.  Thankful that in this strangest of ways, He has transformed me a bit into His likeness.

In the midst of change He doesn’t change.

He changes us.

And I’m ready, lists and all.

Numbers 1:1 (NIV)

The Census
1 The Lord spoke to Moses in the tent of meeting in the Desert of Sinai on the first day of the second month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said: 2 “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one.


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August 4, 2016

Covered ...

Recently at a women’s conference I took a fall and today found out the knee has quite the issues an arthroscopic surgery may be necessary, MRI and time will tell.  I was very discouraged when the doctor told me, but as I walked away I remembered ‘He is God, I am not’.  I held up my hands and simply entrusted this to Him.

When I fell, I really could have been much more seriously hurt, I was out of town, I was on my own, I asked for prayer from friends and family…I made it through the conference, back home and I sit here now remembering. The conference was about how we are covered by God.

Divinely covered, His covering is above us, before us and around us. 

Whatever struggle you're going through it would be my guess you'd rather it pass and pass quickly.  I thumbed through my journal for this week and my eyes settle on 1 Peter 1:6:

So be truly glad. 
There is wonderful joy ahead,
even though you have to endure
many trials for a little while.

He’s got you covered.



*Living Proof Live Conference, July 15-16, 2016, Ontario, CA

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July 30, 2016

It's Time

An early love in my life was that of reading, I’ve long said that a good book is like going on vacation at minimal cost.  Although my tastes have changed I do still love to sit and read and one of my favorite authors is Charles Swindoll.  I don’t recall ever not enjoying one of his books, he is one of my ‘go to’ authors when looking for a book on a particular subject or simply for something new to read.  Years ago one of my brothers had on his end table in the living room “Living on the Ragged Edge” by Charles Swindoll.  A book digging into Ecclesiastes, a diary of King Solomon, I added it to my small library and here it is years later, I find myself just now pulling it from the bookshelf and reading it, I guess it is finally time.

Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes - Solomon talks of how there is a time for everything; the corresponding chapter 5 of “Living on the Ragged Edge” it titled, “Do you know what time it is?” as he does so well, Pastor Swindoll digs into the topic.

He quoted Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and I found the quotes quite profound still in these times.  I must first say I had never heard of him; according to Wikipedia he is a “Russian novelist, historian, and short story writer. He was an outspoken critic of the Soviet Union and its totalitarianism and helped to raise global awareness of its Gulag forced labor camp system”.  Swindoll says of Mr. Solzhenitsyn “I don’t believe he walks on water and I certainly realize he is far from perfect, as we all are, but I do think you would agree he’s a wise and seasoned man”.

Mr. Solzhenitsyn was interviewed in the Wall Street Journal and he was asked “What hope is there for the West?”:

“The time when the West could save itself by its own exertions may already have passed.  To save
itself would require a complete change in its attitude when in fact these attitudes are still going the
wrong way.  … the only miracle that the people … can pray for is a profound change in their hearts.”

When asked, “Do we have a single main underlying moral ill that one can identify?” he answered:

“Besides cowardice, selfishness.  We hear a constant clamor for rights, rights, always rights but so
little about responsibility.  And we have forgotten God.”

Living on the Ragged Edge was published in 1995, the interview about 2 years prior to that, so here we are, 20+ years later, still going the wrong way.

It’s time, time to remember God.  Time ends, when it ends where are you going?  What about your children, your grandchildren…  There are two choices and if you’re not sure Pastor Swindoll points us to the better of the two, he points us to Jesus Christ, “…who came to give men and women hope, forgiveness and assurance…”

John 1:12, “But to all who believed Him (Christ) and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.”

I can attest to the fact that Jesus does indeed give hope, forgiveness, assurance, eternity in my heart.  I’ve accepted Him and He has never failed me.

Ecclesiastes is Solomon’s journal on the point of time and life under the sun being that like chasing the wind.  As the book progresses he realizes and teaches us it is all meaningless without God.

I end with the final words of chapter 5 of Living on the Ragged Edge:

“The gift of eternal life is there to be received.  So take God’s gift while you still have time.  Along with Solomon’s list of contrasts, there is still one worth considering.  There’s a time to reject and a time to accept.  Make this your time to accept”.

Indeed, it’s time.

All quotes taken from “Living on the Ragged Edge” by Charles Swindoll

July 29, 2016

Psalm 19:1

Psalm 19:1 
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; 
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks for me, mostly in the fact that my body is in ‘healing’ mode from a fall and the day to day tasks seem to take more energy than normal so I feel as though it is hectic, when, if I really think about it, I’ve actually been in rest mode.  I’m not great at rest mode (unless of course I’ve planned it).  Don’t judge me, :-)

I’ve found my way through to the weekend and am glad to say the work week is done.  All week I’ve envisioned my Saturday morning, a homemade latte, me and Jackson on the balcony, simply watching the sky brighten into a new day.  It’s my favorite time of the day, just me and the LORD. It is a time of prayer, reading of His Words, a time to fellowship with the One and Only.  The weekend days I enjoy it more, with no place (usually) to rush out to, the pace is more leisurely, the latte sipped slower, Jackson get a few extra back rubs…

And we sit, still and silent with the LORD of all, sit in yet another new beginning, filled with the new mercies, enjoying the works of His hands.

The heavens telling me of His glory...



June 14, 2016

"This is not something that goes away easy."

The recent shooting in America has struck me to the core, in my prayer time and now as I type, the tears well in my eyes at the atrocity of it.  I’ve heard in the news things like, “…this is the new norm in America”, and one reporter used the term “not shockingly” in reference to another mass shooting in America.

In following the story, I’ve read many things that make me sad, angry and some things that just make me shake my head in disbelief of this “not shockingly” “new norm”.  

My heart grows heavy. 

The gun enthusiasts shout gun control won’t work (after all it’s not the gun that kills and they need to protect their family), I hear politicians shout that we cannot let this happen again and we must control who gets what guns and when (and yet in weeks or months to come, nothing will be done).

I read an article[1] today, an interview with five of the surgeons on duty that night, they were on the front line at the hospital, seeing it all first hand. Surgery after surgery, victims crying, and families panicked wondering where was their loved one.  Dr. William Havron said, in regards to what they saw and experienced for them, “This is not something that goes away easily”.     

It happens, we get all up in arms, we do nothing and life, for some, goes on; for the treating doctors and I’m guessing the first responders, police, S.W.A.T. team, the victims, the ones that escaped, the families that mourn, the shooter's family, I echo Dr. Havron, this will not go away from them easily.

And it shouldn’t go away from us easily.  Those of us who slept a peaceful night at home and woke to our life, our families, our friends.  No, I think we need to hold onto this along with those who experienced it; we need to mourn with them, pray for them, support them and love them, even if we do not know them.

This should shock us, this should not be accepted as the new norm and this should be something that we do not let our hearts forget easily.  

No, the gun didn’t walk into Pulse all by itself and go off countless times, killing, it is not the gun’s fault.  But the devil schemes, deceives the man with the gun, he lies to him and paints a pretty picture, convinces him he’s doing the right thing.  And the combination is deadly.  

Our only hope is God and His Armor:
Ephesians 6:10-17
 …be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.  Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;  in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.[2]

Jesus is coming again, are you in?  Or more importantly is He in you?



[1] http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/breakingnews/orlando-surgeons-speak-out-this-is-not-something-that-goes-away/ar-AAh0ee7?li=BBnba9J
[2] Ephesians 6:10-17 New American Standard Bible


May 15, 2016

Menopause, a poem by LJM

She sometimes makes your eyes roll and you just don’t understand
The fact that her hormones are slipping through her hand

She wakes each morning although in a fog

She never really sleeps anymore like that proverbial "log"

She eats very little yet gains quite the pounds

The scale jumps up and the needle goes round

How does the number rise so fast with just a few meals

Its like the her metabolism has stalled at the wheel


Don't get me started about keeping fit
The hour long aerobics doesn't seem to do a bit

The work days seem longer yet sadly mine are shorter
How is it by the end all I have energy for is watching "Hoarders"*?


As each day comes to a close she wonders where it went 
It started up early but then the time was all spent

She takes a deep breath and looks for her keys 

Wonders about dinner and sees the skin drooping at her knees

Some might say it all comes with age
That menopause is just a new page 

But what it is really is quite a thought,

Yes, oh what it is really, is....

Oh dang...she forgot.



Linda J Matsko © 2016

*http://www.aetv.com/shows/hoarders

May 6, 2016

Ashtanga, Hatha, Bikram and now Jackson…


So many types of yoga, at home, I put in the DVD and Rodney Yee* tells me to “lay on your back, legs extended, feet flexed for ‘reclined mountain pose’, arms above your head, hands flexed…” wait, there’s something there,  a furry chin, wanting a rub. I wiggle my finger a bit and his head rests into my hand.

Rodney continues, “…inhale and exhale and bend your right knee into your chest, hold onto your ankle…” wait, there’s something tickling my foot, it’s a tail winding back and forth, I wiggle my foot and his back presses into my arch.

I hear Rodney in the distance, “…roll back to child’s pose…” and near my shoulder I feel warmth, a heart beating, a furry, purring, warmth and I lift my head and place it on his chest.  I rub his back; actual yoga is no longer on my mind, Rodney is still speaking but I’m not listening -- it’s now Jackson Yoga.

He lies so still, just enjoying his massage, his neck stretches and his eyes meet mine as if to say thanks. I rest my head again on his chest and simply listen….now that…that is relaxation pose.


Genesis 2:18-19
 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

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*Core Cross Train with Rodney Yee (Gaiam)

April 10, 2016

Psalm 46:10

It is Sunday and we woke early to an overcast and cool day....here these are pleasing things, blessed to live in an area of almost always sunshine; clouds and cool are welcomed here, we know they won't last long so we sit, enjoy and:

Be Still...

As the sun began to rise, comfy socks, sweatshirt, warm coffee and the Word of God are all we needed. The neighborhood still quiet, the birds just beginning to chirp...the day awakens slowly, we pause:

and know...

A look around at the view of just about every one of the mornings, the hue is different, lovely in its own way, a hope of a rainy day, one to hunker in and read or maybe just sit and enjoy breathing, being thankful:

that He is God.

That He will be exalted among the nations, exalted in the earth.

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March 27, 2016

Freedom

The sky was still dark and speckled with stars and the moon as I got into the car and drove, a wonderful crispness in the air.  I parked and finished listening to "10,000 Reasons" on the radio before getting out and walking over to find a seat.

Still dark I begin to see faces of people I’ve come to know and admire - faces we hadn’t seen in a while due to illness, so thankful that they both are able to be here this morning; so thankful that we are all able to be here this morning.

As the music began and the skies darkness began to turn to light I was taken back at the privilege and freedom of it all.  Out there in what is normally the parking lot, we sing, boldly and without fear of harm “Christ the Lord is Risen Today, alleluia!”  We listen to the telling of that day long ago when Jesus asked Mary, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?” When He calls her by name she realizes the one she is seeking is right before her.

Later the same day He came and stood in the midst of the disciples and said to them “Peace be with you.”

Jesus Christ has risen, He is calling your name, what you are seeking is right before you and He is offering you Peace, in Him you will be free, free indeed.

The service was lovely, the weather near perfect, the sunrise mesmerizing, and a freedom not only of no harm but also a feeling of indescribable peace.


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Scriptures taken from NKJV
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord) lyric by Matt Redman
Photo Linda J Matsko