Overcoming Unbelief

It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 Message Translation

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The gateway to a place of unsurpassed beauty and serenity on Maryland's Eastern Shore

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.  Hebrews 11:1

Jesus said, "If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23

[I say] with tears, "Lord, I believe, help my unbelief." Mark 9:24

Lessons from the Gateway

Lesson #5 Overcoming Unbelief -- A Picture

I had spent two days in heaven on earth at the Wades Point Inn on the Maryland Eastern Shore. The Lord had arranged every detail of my being there, and poured out blessing upon blessing over me in that place. I had arrived in a state of utter turmoil and left fully restored and at peace.

On my little two day retreat, My Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, very graciously helped me work through the “black hole” issues in my heart.  Having been released of a heavy burden and my heart now filled with joy, I was eager to stop by Lilac Hill on my way home to see Margaret while she was down and to thank her for being there so I could get away.

As I drove up the driveway, I thought about Lee’s final days. Lee and I spent his last three weeks at Lilac Hill. We had made that decision right before leaving the hospital. He was so weak, he could not have managed the eight steps up to our front door. At Lilac Hill there was only one step into the house.

The Lord had arranged for Margaret and her family to be there the last week Lee was with us. They had come down during their son Bobby’s spring break for years. Both Margaret and her husband Steve had intimate, one-on-one last visits with Lee. He was a love magnet. We all wanted to be at his bedside, holding his hands, running our fingers through his hair, kissing his forehead.

Before they left, Margaret set up a Go-Fund-Me account for our family. She posted one of Lee’s paintings of a skipjack under sail and wrote a touching piece about him. The many responses that flooded in through Go-Fund-Me had been such a comfort and carried me through the initial, unspeakable agony of my loss. Sisters, brothers — family and friends! What a blessing they are in times of grief and trouble.

 I parked by the Red House and went in to see my father - refreshed. He welcomed me warmly as if I had been away for a month, and informed me that Margaret and my youngest sister Melissa had just left for the pool. 

 “Maybe you could meet up with them there,” he said.

I quickly watered the gardens before leaving, and I drove down the driveway in a bit of a hurry, eager to get to the pool. But then was suddenly brought to a stop. Right where the dead branch had been was a large dead opossum, its bloody guts opened and swarming with flies. A long necked, black vulture rocked back and forth six feet away, ready to feast.

 “What is this!?” I cried. “A dead opossum!  That wasn’t there fifteen minutes ago when I went up the driveway. What are you showing me Lord?” Opossums are nocturnal. They look rather sinister, live and operate under the cover of darkness. 

Lessons from the gateway -- at the point of entrance and exit. The dead branch had prevented me from going up; the dead opossum was preventing me from going down. I had spent the weekend in heaven on earth at the Wades Point Inn, and returned to Lilac Hill, our heaven on earth, but now I couldn’t leave. Something dead was preventing me from re-entering the world. Is this a picture of my unforgiveness? or maybe it's my unbelief? -- a lack of trust that You are all You say you are and have fully healed my broken heart.

 I put the car in park, got out and looked for a sturdy stick to push the stinking carcass out of the way. I couldn't just think about it, talk about it, pray about it, I had to do something -- get out of myself, take responsibility (find the sturdy stick) and move it --  no falling back into old familiar patterns.

Jesus taught us to pray, 

            “Our Father who art in heaven, 

             Hallowed be Thy name, 

             Thy kingdom come, 

             Thy will be done, 

             On earth as it is in heaven. 

No stinking carcasses covered with flies litter the streets of gold, and in heaven there is no darkness. The glory of God illuminates it; The Lamb is its light. (Revelation 21:23,25) On earth as it is in heaven, I thought. That's me. The Lamb lives in my heart. I bring heaven to earth through my heart -- my heart healed and cleansed of all that is dead. 

Revelation 21:5-7

He who sat on the throne said, "Behold I make all things new." And He said to me, "write for these words are true and faithful. And He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. She who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be her God and she shall be my daughter.

Forgiveness

Unless you know God's love for you, you'll never be able to truly love others. Roy Curry

Arise Shine; for your light has come. A rooster at the Wades Point Inn

Arise Shine; for your light has come. A rooster at the Wades Point Inn

Lessons from the Gateway

Lesson #4

The Lord prunes the dead wood out of our lives to make room for new growth.

Jesus said every branch in me (in Him) that doesn’t bear fruit He takes away.  One morning in June, a large dead branch fell from an oak tree beside the driveway at Lilac Hill near the entrance, barring my way to my 97 year old father. I was surprised to find it because there hadn’t been a storm or any significant wind since I had been there the night before. The branch had just fallen.

Here was a thick, dead, lichen-covered branch from an oak tree “at the gateway,” preventing me from going up. The Lord was getting my attention at the gateway, the point of entry and exit. I couldn’t access my father. “So what are you showing me Lord?” I asked. 

 Lee and I looked upon his art as a ministry. His art was Lee’s expression of worship, the teaching he did his venue through which he could awaken others to that joy in God, the giver of those artistic gifts. I had a very hidden role in “our ministry.” I handled all of the administrative details, wrote the press releases and created the promotional material. I took a few painting classes with Lee so I could write the promotion from a first hand experience, not for a desire to grow artistically. His art and teaching were the sole source of our income. It was imperative that he and I be unified in our purpose — with God first and with each other.

 Lee and I fully believed God would heal him of the cancer. He taught his classes through the winter of 2016, and we had scheduled a full selection of classes for the spring. He never gave up his hope that he would not die, but live, and would declare the work of the Lord (Psalm 118: 17)— and that he would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27: 13) We clung to God’s Word.

God healed Lee by taking him home on April 24, 2016, two days before our 36 wedding anniversary. When Lee took his last breath, everything he and I had built our life upon for 36 years was removed: our marriage and our shared purpose in the arts.

During those first tumultuous days without Lee by my side, several different people prophesied to me that Jesus was now my husband, and that I would sense His nearness like never before. I read the Song of Solomon and meditated on those words reflecting the love relationship I have with my Bridegroom King Jesus, the Lover of my soul — His desire for me, His acceptance, His promises, and His undying love. I wanted them grafted into my deepest being, to fully entrust my heart to Him.

I was in a new, unfamiliar place — a new place in my life and and a new place with God. He had not chosen to heal Lee in this life. Lee and I couldn’t stand together and tell the world God had performed a glorious miracle of healing —  yet, I knew deep in my heart that Lee had been healed as he had stepped into the realities of heaven. He is as alive as Jesus is, and the three of us are still the three stranded chord ministering through the arts.

During that whole tender first year without Lee, I learned to dance on the dance floor of life with the Lover of My Soul. He was teaching me new dance steps. One of the highlights of the year was the Valentine He gave me last February — a ten week class on writing memoir that started on Valentine’s Day. As I was registering for the class, He whispered in my ear, “You are my beloved. I know the desires of your heart. Go for it!” 

I clung to Jesus, my dance partner, every moment of every day. He held me close and I felt the thrill of discovery in the new steps he was teaching me. We danced in His marvelous, scintillating light, around the black hole of my loss. When my mind was on the dance, and my eye fixed on Him, I was only aware of the light. But without fail, certain events would cause that light to recede and “the black hole” to dominate my perception. I pictured myself as a little girl on my hands and knees at the edge of a pool of utter blackness, peering in — trying to make sense of it. Why wasn’t Lee healed? Where did we go wrong?

So what were the triggers that took me to that place?  Close friends celebrating their long, thriving marriage on Lee and my anniversary, their many years serving the Lord together and excitement about many more to come. News of my sister Margaret’s thriving art career. Margaret and Lee had walked a similar path and had encouraged each other along the way with their painting, teaching and the business of art. That art connection had always been a joy, iron sharpening iron. Like Lee, Margaret was doing what she was created to do.

My relationship with Margaret through our 15 month crawl through the valley of cancer became the refiner’s fire for my heart, the launderers’s soap. As I heard about her success, mostly through my father who was in touch with her every day, the Lord would cause me to examine my heart for any vestiges of comparison, competition or jealousy. I was questioning our purpose and our motives. Why create beautiful art? Just to decorate the walls of those who can afford it? There had to be more. That soul searching would always come back to our relationship with God. Lee’s art was his song of praise, even in the midst of the darkest night. This was the song of our marriage. Our sojourn through the valley of cancer was our walk. “Help us to trust you through it, Lord. However things go,” we would pray.

 “The large dead branch in me. What is it Lord?” I asked.

 Two weeks after coming across the dead, lichen covered branch in the driveway at Lilac Hill, Margaret was coming down for a visit. The Friday before she was to arrive, I woke up in a deep state of depression. This is not the norm for me. If I’m feeling sad, I ask my Bridegroom King to take me in His arms and teach me a new step. But on that day, I could not cajole my way out of the dark dungeon of despair.

 I got through the weekend, unable to shake the darkness, and on Monday went to the Glen Burnie House of Prayer where I serve two days a week. My heart was heavy, and the other gals on the team sensed it.

 “What’s going on with you, my dear?” Carol asked, her eyes reading me. I burst into tears, and poured my heart out. Tears are healing, as is having a safe place in which you can share your deepest heart and receive prayer.

 "Can you go somewhere beautiful while your sister is down,” Carol asked. “Just get away. for a couple of days. You will come back refreshed.”

 As I was driving home from the House of Prayer, the Lord put on my mind to go to the Wades point Inn in St. Michael’s, a little town on the other side of the Chesapeake Bay, an hours drive from Annapolis. I called my friend Beth who owns and operates the Inn, and she told me there was availability for the weekend and I could come. Lee and I spent our first anniversary at the Wades Point Inn and also our last, thirty five years later. 

When I entered the long driveways to the inn, the tumult in my heart ceased. I parked my car in one of the spaces overlooking the water, and got out.  A tangible peace, a heavenly hush enveloped me like a warm blanket on a cold day. The receptionist escorted me to the Sunset Room on the third floor of the old wing. From my bed I had an expansive view of the Bay. I had asked the Lord to expand my view as I was driving across the Bay, and he answered that prayer. Over the two days I was there, I had such a keen awareness that Lee was truly alive and at peace, and I was partaking of his heavenly experience. I enjoyed the twinkling of sunlight on the water from my room and watched extraordinary sunsets over the Bay from the lawn.

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    I had the opportunity to visit with my friend Beth on two occasions. We sat in chairs on the lawn overlooking the water, and talked to the rhythmic lapping of the water on the rocky seawall. Her family had owned the inn for over thirty years. They bought it soon after Lee and I had celebrated our first anniversary there. This was their ministry — creating a set-apart space where people could connect with God and themselves through the pristine beauty of the point, a 300 degree, unobstructed view of the Bay.

    Beth had tasted of heart ache, brokenness and loss in her life too. She shared with me how the Lord had taught her to live in a readiness to forgive. “Jesus says we are to forgive 70x7 times,” she said. “Once I really learned that lesson of forgiveness, I was set free of all bitterness and anger, and certain trying relationships in my life no longer held me in grief and bondage. Love quietly entered, and along with that love, an ease in communication began to take place without me having to say a word. It was just there! That was a miracle!” she said smiling. Later that night, I asked myself who I needed to forgive? My father? My sister? Myself? “Maybe I need to forgive You, Lord,” I said out loud. “Search my heart and show me!”

    While I was at the Wades Point Inn, I realized how precious and fleeting our time on earth is. Our life is but a breath, a vapor in the light of eternity. Our relationships are precious, God orchestrated. How could I waste even one precious moment harboring bitterness, discontent, or any other ugly thought, when I KNOW without question that I will spend my eternity in heaven, a place of beauty of which the beauty and peace at the Wades Point Inn is but a shadow.

     I was dancing in the light once again. The black hole ceased to exit. God had taken it away. That was a miracle, and I knew it! This was not just wishful thinking. I was ready to return to Annapolis and looked forward to visiting with my sister Margaret over her last remaining hours on Lilac Hill.

WWW.Wadespoint.com

Lesson # 5 Overcoming Unbelief

Abiding

Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. John 15:5

Fruit of the Vine, Oil painting by Lee Boynton   Lesson # 3 -- Abiding in the Vine     I  could cut up that dead limb , I thought.  I'm not a helpless widow.    The next day, I took Lee's chainsaw to Bowen's, our local farm supply store, to have it serviced. "We'll call you  in three weeks, the repair man said, handing me the claims ticket.  I passed that fallen limb pulled off to the side of the driveway close to the entrance every day for two weeks when I went to see my father, and thought about tackling that job with Lee's chainsaw. I will teach myself to use that chainsaw and will get that job done!  Then on Sunday, July 9, I was surprised to find someone had beaten me to it. The thin outer branches were strewn around like a set of long-armed jacks, along with 6 or 8 small 10 inch logs. Whoever had tackled the job had taken most of the wood away, no doubt to burn in their fireplace or woodturning stove. God bless them! I knew other opportunities to learn to use the chainsaw would be coming along.  As I was driving down the driveway that evening, and approached the spot where the limb had been, a thought screamed in my mind, riveting my full attention.  That dead branch has been cut up and will be burned. " That's in John 15 about the vine and the branches,"   I said out loud. " God is the Vinedresser."   When I got home, I ran up to my room to find my Bible. I had to read that whole passage about the vine and the branches. What was the Vinedresser wanting to say to me through His living word?   "Let me be teachable, Lord" I prayed out loud. "This is a familiar passage, but clearly You want me to read it with fresh eyes, and to pay special attention to what you have to say about dead wood. That fallen branch had barred the way to my father. What dead branches in me are barring my way to You?"   John 15: 1-8    Jesus said, I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.    You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.     If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much  fruit; so you will be My disciples.    Love and Joy Perfected -- John 15: 9-12    As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in Him. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.   In the weeks to follow, God answered my prayer. He showed me one big dead branch in my life, and gave me an opportunity to learn to use the chainsaw in the Spirit.   Lesson # 4 -- Living in a Readiness to Forgive

Fruit of the Vine, Oil painting by Lee Boynton

Lesson # 3 -- Abiding in the Vine

I could cut up that dead limb, I thought. I'm not a helpless widow. 

The next day, I took Lee's chainsaw to Bowen's, our local farm supply store, to have it serviced. "We'll call you  in three weeks, the repair man said, handing me the claims ticket.

I passed that fallen limb pulled off to the side of the driveway close to the entrance every day for two weeks when I went to see my father, and thought about tackling that job with Lee's chainsaw. I will teach myself to use that chainsaw and will get that job done!

Then on Sunday, July 9, I was surprised to find someone had beaten me to it. The thin outer branches were strewn around like a set of long-armed jacks, along with 6 or 8 small 10 inch logs. Whoever had tackled the job had taken most of the wood away, no doubt to burn in their fireplace or woodturning stove. God bless them! I knew other opportunities to learn to use the chainsaw would be coming along.

As I was driving down the driveway that evening, and approached the spot where the limb had been, a thought screamed in my mind, riveting my full attention. That dead branch has been cut up and will be burned. "That's in John 15 about the vine and the branches," I said out loud. "God is the Vinedresser."

When I got home, I ran up to my room to find my Bible. I had to read that whole passage about the vine and the branches. What was the Vinedresser wanting to say to me through His living word? 

"Let me be teachable, Lord" I prayed out loud. "This is a familiar passage, but clearly You want me to read it with fresh eyes, and to pay special attention to what you have to say about dead wood. That fallen branch had barred the way to my father. What dead branches in me are barring my way to You?"

John 15: 1-8

Jesus said, I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much  fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Love and Joy Perfected -- John 15: 9-12

As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in Him. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.

In the weeks to follow, God answered my prayer. He showed me one big dead branch in my life, and gave me an opportunity to learn to use the chainsaw in the Spirit.

Lesson # 4 -- Living in a Readiness to Forgive

God is Love

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16

Love leaves His mark on this oak at the foot of the driveway at Lilac Hill   Lessons from the Gateway    Lesson #1 -- God is LOVE   He said to me, "I love you! In Me, you are an oak of righteousness, firmly planted in the soil of My love. Continue to abide in Me, and I will abide in you -- forever." That made me smile inside and out.  "Yes Lord, You are Love. I want my roots to go deep in You -- to be as solid and immovable as that oak tree."   Lesson #2 -- Divine Intervention   I posted the photo of this oak tree with a heart at its base along with John 4:16 on June 19. Three days later, I decided to make a quick stop in to see my 97 year old father while I was out doing some errands. As I pulled into his driveway at Lilac Hill around 10:00am, I found a massive branch had fallen from an oak closer to the entrance. I couldn't reach my father.  "This is very odd," I said to myself. "We haven't had a storm or any high winds since I was here last night." I got out of my car, planning to drag the branch out of the way, but it was too heavy to even budge, and I'm not a weakling! I made some calls, but could find no immediate solution.  When I came with my father's dinner that evening at 5:30, I was surprised to find the tree limb had been pulled off to the side. The driveway was passible.  I called my sister Melissa. "Who came to the rescue?" I asked.   "The oddest thing happened, " she said. "When I came to see Dad at 1:00, a pizza delivery man pulled up behind me. A little man got out and pulled the limb out of the way for me, and then went on his way. I mean, this was not a big, strapping fellow. He was very small. I think he was an angel."    He will command His angles concerning you to guard you in all your ways.   Psalm 91:11   Tomorrow, Lesson #3 -- Abiding

Love leaves His mark on this oak at the foot of the driveway at Lilac Hill

Lessons from the Gateway

Lesson #1 -- God is LOVE

He said to me, "I love you! In Me, you are an oak of righteousness, firmly planted in the soil of My love. Continue to abide in Me, and I will abide in you -- forever." That made me smile inside and out.

"Yes Lord, You are Love. I want my roots to go deep in You -- to be as solid and immovable as that oak tree."

Lesson #2 -- Divine Intervention

I posted the photo of this oak tree with a heart at its base along with John 4:16 on June 19. Three days later, I decided to make a quick stop in to see my 97 year old father while I was out doing some errands. As I pulled into his driveway at Lilac Hill around 10:00am, I found a massive branch had fallen from an oak closer to the entrance. I couldn't reach my father.

"This is very odd," I said to myself. "We haven't had a storm or any high winds since I was here last night." I got out of my car, planning to drag the branch out of the way, but it was too heavy to even budge, and I'm not a weakling! I made some calls, but could find no immediate solution.

When I came with my father's dinner that evening at 5:30, I was surprised to find the tree limb had been pulled off to the side. The driveway was passible.

I called my sister Melissa. "Who came to the rescue?" I asked. 

"The oddest thing happened, " she said. "When I came to see Dad at 1:00, a pizza delivery man pulled up behind me. A little man got out and pulled the limb out of the way for me, and then went on his way. I mean, this was not a big, strapping fellow. He was very small. I think he was an angel."

He will command His angles concerning you to guard you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11

Tomorrow, Lesson #3 -- Abiding

Lessons from the Gateway

Then he [Jacob] had a dream, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. Genesis 28:12

Lobster buoys on Capitol Island

Lobster buoys on Capitol Island

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it." And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."

Jesus was that ladder. In John 1:51, he says, Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.

Lessons from the Gateway

I went to Maine the last week of July. It was great to be there on Capitol Island, surrounded by all that natural beauty. Capitol Island was one of Lee's favorite place in all the world. The veil between me and heaven was very thin all that week. Lee felt close, especially as I watched spectacular sunrises over the water and neighboring islands from the front porch and enjoyed his paintings hanging all around the cottage.

An excerpt from an email I sent to my Belgian friend Catherine last Monday

In one email you sent recently, you said, "life is learning -- always."  So true! I have been in the classroom with the best teacher in the world since June 8. He is a teacher who really knows how to stop us in our tracks and get our undivided attention. He gives us the lesson -- then LOTS of opportunities to apply what we've learned. So where has this classroom been located? At the bottom of the driveway at Lilac Hill. I call it the gateway; it's where we enter and exit the place.

There has been a very clear progression to the lessons I've been receiving this summer. The Lord has been showing me some deeply rooted issues in my family -- some rather toxic mindsets I've carried my whole life, and their effect on those closest to me. Is anyone in this world without faulty patterns of thinking? Some can be so subtle and pervasive we think that's who we are!  But the Lord says "NO" to that. He has given me some tools to dig out those pesky roots!!! Now it's my job to get digging!

Over the next few days I will be sharing these lessons from the gateway. Some of the topics coming to mind just now will be:

Abiding in the Vine

The Power of Forgiveness: Living in a Readiness to Forgive

Pruning: Submitting to the Process 

Power Tools and How to Use Them

Fresh Faith

Now Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1

Dinghies on Capitol Island

Dinghies on Capitol Island

An excerpt from Fresh Faith: What Happens When Real Faith Ignites God's People by Jim Cymbala, pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle

Faith is the ability of the human spirit to open up and receive impressions from God that are born from His Word and made alive by the Holy Spirit. This brings about a supernatural conviction of certain facts apart from the senses. Andrew Murray put it this way more than a hundred years ago, "Just as we have our senses, through which we hold communication with the physical universe, so faith is the spiritual sense or organ through which the soul comes into contact with and is affected by the spiritual world," In other words, just as our sense of sight or hearing lies dormant until acted upon by light or sound, so our ability to have faith lies dormant until we open ourselves to receive impressions from the eternal, invisible God.

Then we simply know that something is going to happen, for God's Word had been received and has activated this spiritual sense called faith. We now bank our life on it. If somebody says "Prove it," we cannot -- but we still know it is coming.

This is what Moses experienced thousands of years ago. "By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the kings's anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible." (Hebrews 11:27). How do we see the invisible? Not with the eyes in your head, but with the more powerful eyes of faith.

The senses -- touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing -- have to do with present and visible things. They can't pick up anything about the future. They have nothing to do with spiritual realities. But faith has to do primarily with these future and invisible things that God has promised us in His Word. Faith makes them more real to us than the headlines of today's newspaper. This other kind of "seeing" is what faith is all about, as the apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:18: "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Faith can be likened to a transistor radio. When you turn the radio on, music pours out. Are there any trumpets or guitars inside that little box? Of course not. Yet the room has sound waves all through it. The human sense can't detect them at all. But the radio can pick them up. The music is not actually in the radio at all. The music is coming through the radio from a greater unseen source.

So it is with faith. Faith does not originate within us. It comes from God as we receive the living Word into our hearts. Then a supernatural kind of "music" comes alive in us as the product of this faith. A person filled with faith has an entirely different view of things from the person living merely by the physical senses.

Holding Promise

Foxgloves -- a medicinal bloom for heart failure...a heart strengthener.

Foxgloves and forget-me-nots in my German Street garden, Photo by Catherine Boynton      Heart Change    I may have always known that change takes real intentionality, like a woman bent over her garden beds every day with a spade and a determined will to grow up something good to strengthen the heart...   Ann Voscamp, from  One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Foxgloves and forget-me-nots in my German Street garden, Photo by Catherine Boynton

 

Heart Change

I may have always known that change takes real intentionality, like a woman bent over her garden beds every day with a spade and a determined will to grow up something good to strengthen the heart...  Ann Voscamp, from One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are

Amazing Grace

How sweet the sound...

Our dear Georgette hanging out the laundry at Lilac Hill, Plein air oil painting by Lee Boynton      Amazing Grace, by John Newton    Amazing grace how sweet the sound,    That saved a wretch like me,    I once was lost by now I'm found,    Was blind but now I see...        God so LOVED the world He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.   John 3:16-17   What is eternal life?   Jesus answers that question for us. He prayed to His Father in heaven,  " this is eternal life , that they may  know  You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent."    Dirty Laundry   Give your dirty laundry to God and He will make it white as snow. Isn't that awesome! Eternal life begins the moment we acknowledge our wayward thinking, repent, surrender our lives to God and accept His Son Jesus into our hearts as our Savior and Lord. That moment when we turn the reins over to Him, the old confused heart of stone goes and the new tender heart of flesh comes, the heart made alive through the Holy Spirit. We are able to know God.   John Newton (1725-1807)   Before his conversion, John Newton was involved in the slave trade as his profession -- first as  crew on slave ships, and then as a captain. While serving as crew aboard the  Greyhound,  he gained notoriety for being one of the most profane men on board. He wrote lewd poems and songs openly mocking the captain, and encouraging his crew mates to join him in chanting or singing them. He called himself the Great Blasphemer, deriding and denouncing God as a myth, and ridiculing others who revealed the slightest glimmer of faith. He was a man without limits, indulging himself in every vice from drinking, to fighting to fornication.  In March 1748, while at sea in the North Atlantic, a violent storm came upon the  Greyhound.  One of his fellow crew members was swept overboard from the spot where he had been standing moments before. The hull was beginning to break apart and it looked like the ship was on its way down. In moments of extreme desperation, while lashed to the pump and bailing for all he was worth, Newton cried out to God for mercy.  In the harrowing hours to follow, he questioned why God would ever want to spare his life. He thought he had sinned too much to have any hope of God's forgiveness. This was the opening to his hardened, darkened heart through which God could shine his marvelous light, and for the rest of his life, he marked March 10 as the anniversary of his new birth.   His growth in his new life in Christ was slow at first. He experienced several more miraculous rescues from death by the storms of life, including illness, starvation, mutiny plots and slave uprisings, and came to see God's amazing grace for what it was. He finally abandoned the sea faring life and responded to a call to the ministry. He was ordained as a priest on June 17, 1764.  Newton wrote poems and hymns to accompany his sermons.  He wrote the lyrics for Amazing Grace in late 1772, and it was first sung during a New year's Day service on January 1, 1773. Talk about transformation and giving glory to God! This hymn is estimated to be performed 10 million times annually around the globe, and has appeared on over 11,000 albums.

Our dear Georgette hanging out the laundry at Lilac Hill, Plein air oil painting by Lee Boynton

 

Amazing Grace, by John Newton

Amazing grace how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me,

I once was lost by now I'm found,

Was blind but now I see...

 

God so LOVED the world He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have eternal life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16-17

What is eternal life?

Jesus answers that question for us. He prayed to His Father in heaven, "this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You sent."

Dirty Laundry

Give your dirty laundry to God and He will make it white as snow. Isn't that awesome! Eternal life begins the moment we acknowledge our wayward thinking, repent, surrender our lives to God and accept His Son Jesus into our hearts as our Savior and Lord. That moment when we turn the reins over to Him, the old confused heart of stone goes and the new tender heart of flesh comes, the heart made alive through the Holy Spirit. We are able to know God.

John Newton (1725-1807)

Before his conversion, John Newton was involved in the slave trade as his profession -- first as  crew on slave ships, and then as a captain. While serving as crew aboard the Greyhound, he gained notoriety for being one of the most profane men on board. He wrote lewd poems and songs openly mocking the captain, and encouraging his crew mates to join him in chanting or singing them. He called himself the Great Blasphemer, deriding and denouncing God as a myth, and ridiculing others who revealed the slightest glimmer of faith. He was a man without limits, indulging himself in every vice from drinking, to fighting to fornication.

In March 1748, while at sea in the North Atlantic, a violent storm came upon the Greyhound. One of his fellow crew members was swept overboard from the spot where he had been standing moments before. The hull was beginning to break apart and it looked like the ship was on its way down. In moments of extreme desperation, while lashed to the pump and bailing for all he was worth, Newton cried out to God for mercy.

In the harrowing hours to follow, he questioned why God would ever want to spare his life. He thought he had sinned too much to have any hope of God's forgiveness. This was the opening to his hardened, darkened heart through which God could shine his marvelous light, and for the rest of his life, he marked March 10 as the anniversary of his new birth. 

His growth in his new life in Christ was slow at first. He experienced several more miraculous rescues from death by the storms of life, including illness, starvation, mutiny plots and slave uprisings, and came to see God's amazing grace for what it was. He finally abandoned the sea faring life and responded to a call to the ministry. He was ordained as a priest on June 17, 1764.

Newton wrote poems and hymns to accompany his sermons.  He wrote the lyrics for Amazing Grace in late 1772, and it was first sung during a New year's Day service on January 1, 1773. Talk about transformation and giving glory to God! This hymn is estimated to be performed 10 million times annually around the globe, and has appeared on over 11,000 albums.

God's Constant Love

May the God of living hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13

God's resplendent glory fully on display on the Isle of Skye, photo by Catherine Libeert      God's Constant Love    Psalm 107:1-16, Passion Translation    Let   everyone give all their praise and thanks to the Lord!    For here's why -- He's better than anyone could ever imagine.    Yes, He's always so loving and kind, and it never ends.    So, go ahead -- let everyone know it!    Tell the world how He broke through and delivered you from the power of darkness a  nd has gathered us together from all over the world.    He has set us free to be His very own!    Some of us once wandered in the wilderness like desert nomads with no true direction or dwelling place.    Starving, thirsting, staggering we became desperate and filled with despair.    Then we cried out, "Lord, help us! Rescue us!" And He did!    He led us right into a place of safety and abundance, a suitable city to dwell in.    So lift up your hands and thank God for His marvelous kindness and for all of His miracles of mercy for those He loves.    How He satisfies the souls of thirsty ones and fills the hungry with all that is good!    Some of us once sat in darkness, living in the dark shadows of death.    We were prisoners to our pain, chained to our regrets.    For we rebelled against God's Word and rejected the wise counsel of God Most High.    So He humbled us through our circumstances, watching us as we stumbled with no one there to pick us back up.    Our own pain became our punishment.    Then we cried out, "Lord, help us! Rescue us!" And He did!    His light broke through the darkness and He led us out in freedom from death's dark shadow and snapped every one of our chains.    So lift your hands and give thanks to God for His marvelous kindness and for His miracles of mercy for those He loves!    For He smashed through heavy prison doors and shattered the steel bars that held us back,     Just to set us free!

God's resplendent glory fully on display on the Isle of Skye, photo by Catherine Libeert

 

God's Constant Love

Psalm 107:1-16, Passion Translation

Let everyone give all their praise and thanks to the Lord!

For here's why -- He's better than anyone could ever imagine.

Yes, He's always so loving and kind, and it never ends.

So, go ahead -- let everyone know it!

Tell the world how He broke through and delivered you from the power of darkness and has gathered us together from all over the world.

He has set us free to be His very own!

Some of us once wandered in the wilderness like desert nomads with no true direction or dwelling place.

Starving, thirsting, staggering we became desperate and filled with despair.

Then we cried out, "Lord, help us! Rescue us!" And He did!

He led us right into a place of safety and abundance, a suitable city to dwell in.

So lift up your hands and thank God for His marvelous kindness and for all of His miracles of mercy for those He loves.

How He satisfies the souls of thirsty ones and fills the hungry with all that is good!

Some of us once sat in darkness, living in the dark shadows of death.

We were prisoners to our pain, chained to our regrets.

For we rebelled against God's Word and rejected the wise counsel of God Most High.

So He humbled us through our circumstances, watching us as we stumbled with no one there to pick us back up.

Our own pain became our punishment.

Then we cried out, "Lord, help us! Rescue us!" And He did!

His light broke through the darkness and He led us out in freedom from death's dark shadow and snapped every one of our chains.

So lift your hands and give thanks to God for His marvelous kindness and for His miracles of mercy for those He loves!

For He smashed through heavy prison doors and shattered the steel bars that held us back,

Just to set us free!