He was wounded for my transgressions.
For my sin He was beaten and scourged.
His pure blood it did flow
For my lost, helpless soul
Until all of my sin it had purged.
It’s been a long time since I first shared this video, so I thought I’d give it a fresh airing, along with an invitation to visit my ministry YouTube channel if you haven’t yet done so. If you’d like to be notified each time we post a new video, just click the “Subscribe” button, and click on the little bell symbol to control the setting for your notifications.
Now enjoy this encouraging message.
The question for this week is “What do I see in this picture?” Well, I have to say that I see a rejected lover here, and my response is to try to put his feelings into words in a short free verse poem. If you’d like to participate in the WDYS challenge, visit Sadje’s blog here.
that you would love me
as I love you.
even as my flowers
caress you face,
of someone else;
you are with him.
can I find healing
for my heart?
love causes pain
that can’t be cured.
to love and lose
or never love
for each of us.
I choose to love.
Well, it’s snowing here in Southern Illinois, USA. We got a thorough cover of ice last night, and now the snowflakes are coming down fast and furious — sort of hurling themselves at the ground, almost as if they are trying to beat each other to the goal. I don’t like snow on the roads and walkways, but I enjoy watching it come down — and I enjoy the fresh, pristine look of everything that is covered in brand new snow. I just wish it could land on only specific areas and leave the others untouched. I’ve written a poem or two about my ambivalent feelings, and I felt like writing another one today. So I decided I’d do a post that is a combination of a few snow poems and snow pictures. The poems are mine, but I’m featuring photos from my good friend Terry Valley, who is a professional photographer in Wisconsin. I hope you enjoy them.
On a mission,
Hurling steadfastly down.
Racing each other to their goal:
THIS IS DREAMING WEATHER
This is dreaming weather.
Nothing much to do
Except to watch the blizzard blow
And have a snack or two.
Yes, this is dreaming weather:
A time to contemplate
And set imagination free
To wander and create.
Ah, this is dreaming weather:
While by the storm confined,
Let my heart and soul take wings
And leave this world behind.
When I was a child, I thought as a child,
And snow was a thing so delightful.
From school we were free; we got wet to the knees,
And our mom’s day was thrown all off schedule.
But now that I’m grown, I must do on my own
All the chores Mom and Dad used to dread:
Stock up food by the loads, drive on slippery roads,
Shovel snow, and repair that old sled.
Now I look with dismay at the skies leaden gray
As I trudge to the store for supplies.
De-icer and salt sell out fast with no halt.
I need new boots to tread on the ice.
The wind from the north is bitter and harsh,
But my temperature, still it is rising;
I am in a foul mood, for I see nothing good
That can come from a snowstorm arriving.
But then the flakes start, and I feel in my heart –
Watching white, fluffy, wonderful, wild
Filling all of my world with such beauty unfurled –
That in truth I am still just a child!
I actually had two reasons to smile this week. The first reason is that I got to visit with my great-niece to help celebrate her birthday. We couldn’t work things out on the actual day, but she and her two brothers are always very philosophical about those things. Her parents are both very busy people as well, and often the birthday celebrations have to be adjusted a day or two one way or the other.
I don’t have children of my own, but I have three great-nephews, ranging in age from 11-13, and one great-niece, who just turned 11. I love all of them dearly — and equally. They are all extremely intelligent and pro-active in their involvement with the world and other people, and I have some of the most interesting conversations with them. And I love buying gifts for all of them. But any of you ladies out there who have had the pleasure of having a daughter or niece will understand when I say that there is just something really special about buying pretty things for a girl. I guess maybe it’s partly that I get to live vicariously through her delight in the things she receives.
She is very style conscious and absolutely loves dressing up. One of her special delights is in using pretty hair ornaments of all kinds. So I bought her a dress and a special selection of fancy barrettes — all different colors. I also threw in a huge chocolate covered marshmallow heart. She was delighted, and we had a good time together. She immediately went to work changing her hairstyle so that she could start using the barrettes right then.
My second smile came just yesterday. I run a small business from my home, but no matter how small a business is, we still have to have a tax number, keep track of sales, pay sales tax, and send in yearly reports. I absolutely detest — let me say that again — DETEST — doing any kind of accounting work or filling out and turning in government forms. I always put it off until the very last minute, and then I have myself so stressed by all of it that I make it three times as hard as it really is. But, yesterday, I got all my accounting figured out and came out with the right numbers in all the right places. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and I’ll be smiling about that for a long time — probably until next January — when I will stop smiling and start fretting over having to do it all again for 2023.
To participate in the Weekly Smile, just hop over to Trent’s Blog and learn how to join in the fun.
I was thinking today about the prophet Ezekiel and his experience in the valley of dry bones, when the Lord told him He would give those bones new life. So I thought I’d share a poem the Lord inspired on the subject. The Scripture reference is Ezekiel, chapter 37.
THE SAME GOD TODAY
Bones in the valley,
Worthless and dry,
Bleached by the sun and
The wind blowing by.
God to the prophet
Did speak and did ask,
“Can these bones still live?
Is it too big a task?”
“Lord,” said the prophet,
“Only You know.”
“I’ll show you, Ezekiel;
My Spirit will blow.
“And cause them to live
And give flesh and skin;
They’ll rise like an army,
Give Me glory again.”
When our problems seem hopeless,
Too dead to restore,
We can look to Ezekiel
And his word from the Lord.
For the God who breathed life
Into bones dry and dead
Is the same God for us
If we’ll trust what He’s said.
I glanced at the screen on my cell phone this morning and noted the date: Friday, December 17, 2021. And normally I would have laid the phone down and gone on about my business, giving the information very little thought. But, for some reason, I was suddenly struck by the thought that this was going to be the only day I would ever see that particular date. It is a reality today, but only for today, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. I know — some of you are thinking — what on earth is she talking about? Does this woman have nothing else to do with her time? 🙂
Actually, I had a whole list of things I needed to do with my time today, but I just couldn’t get away from that thought for quite a while. I realized pretty quickly that the Lord was taking advantage of that date on the phone to get me to focus on the fact that I needed to be cognizant of today. I didn’t need to be thinking about yesterday and all the stuff I didn’t get done, or that I did wrong, or even what I did right. I lived yesterday completely, and it’s gone. And He didn’t want me focusing on all the plans coming up for the next week, trying to figure out how I could make them all work out. He especially didn’t want me focusing on all the possible future things that had the power to cause me worry or fear.
He wanted me focusing on Him and what was on His heart for me to do and be today. He has plans for all of us that are good. But He so seldom gets our full attention long enough to be able to make us understand what those plans are and to get us to carry them out. I’m convinced from my many decades of walking with God that there isn’t a day that goes by that He doesn’t have some good things in mind for us to be a part of.
So as I contemplated the truth about this day being a unique gift that will come to me only once in my entire lifetime, I realized that I too wanted to be focused on what I could do and be that was good today. And I wanted to focus on some good things that could come my way as well — things that wouldn’t have an opportunity to come to me tomorrow or next week — but just today. I kept hearing this admonition in my heart: “Be present in this day. Enjoy it. Be grateful for it. Live it to the fullest.”
As those thoughts lodged in my heart, I was reminded of a little short story I wrote several years ago — a sort of “take-off” from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I was participating in a writing challenge in which we were supposed to write about some of the characters as if they were living today. One of those stories made the very point that the Lord was making to me today about being present in the here and now. So I thought I’d share it here in this post. It fits into the season, since I’ve borrowed the Spirit of Christmas Present. Some of you might remember the story, and several of you will be reading it for the first time. But I hope it spurs each of you on to focus on being truly present in your day today — and then to do so again tomorrow — and the next day — and — well, you know.
THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT: LIVING IN THE HERE AND NOW
Reggie sat slumped in his chair, his right leg carelessly propped over the chair arm, gloom written all over him. He’d been this way for weeks, and hitting the bottle wasn’t helping him any. It just gave him a horrible headache the next morning. So tonight, he’d left off the booze, but he sat in a stupor anyway.
“Well, what a pretty picture you make tonight, Reginald, old boy!” The voice jolted him upright; he looked around.
The voice took shape: on the sofa to his right, a well-tailored man gradually came into focus, lounging with his feet propped on the coffee table. “I’m generally called Spirit of Christmas Present. That’s what your Uncle Ebeneezer called me.”
“Oh, so you’re the one who supposedly helped him straighten out his life, huh?”
The figure shrugged. “Among others.”
“Well, you can go back where you came from,” Reggie said, at the same time making a shooing motion with his hand. “I don’t need anything you have to say!”
“You need a hammer to your head!,” his visitor replied. “It’s just a shame I’m not allowed to give it to you.”
“Hey, where do you get off talking like that to me? Threatening to hit me in the head with a hammer! For what?”
“For constantly trying to live in a time dimension that it’s impossible for you to inhabit. You’re always trying to live either in the past – sucking on your memories the way a baby does his thumb – or in the future – always focusing on next week or next year. It’s stupid. Your memories make you miserable, and your future makes you anxious and edgy because it holds problems you don’t have answers for yet.”
“Oh, I get it. You’re here because you think you’re going to fix me?”
“No … I’m going to tell you how you can fix yourself.”
“Well, just maybe I don’t want to be fixed. What do you think about that?”
“Your uncle didn’t think he wanted to be fixed either – until he saw where his life was leading him. Do we have to give you the same kind of detailed, guided tour of your life that we did for him?”
“You know – the Spirits of Christmas Past and Future, and yours truly.”
Reggie shivered in his chair. He would never consider admitting to this strange visitor that he believed what had happened to his old uncle, but he did have to admit to himself that he’d seen the changes in Ebeneezer first hand. And when his uncle had described his experience, it had sent cold chills down Reggie’s spine. He certainly didn’t want any more of that.
“Okay, okay. Just give me your spiel and let me get back to my contemplation.”
“What you were … contemplating … as you call it … was how sorry you are for yourself. And what I’m going to tell you will set you free from all your self-pity and wasted life if you’ll take heed to it.”
“Okay, okay, get on with it.”
“Well, it’s actually very simple, Reggie. You simply have to make yourself be where you are.”
“Huh?” Reggie shook his head briskly and sat forward in his chair, looking more intently at his visitor. “What the heck does that mean?”
His visitor sighed. “It means, Reg, that you need to live in the present hour — every hour of your life. Live now. You can’t re-do yesterdays, Reggie, and the future is nothing but a long series of ‘now’s’ that you’ll eventually experience one at a time. But when you get to them, you’ll have what it takes to deal with each of them. Trying to worry ahead of time about what might or might not be in those ‘now’s’ is ridiculous because you can’t even begin to know what they’ll be like. So why exhaust yourself worrying about them? And why drive yourself to drink by sitting around pitying yourself for the things that have already happened and can’t be changed?”
Reggie hung his head. “Yeah, I guess I have to admit my life’s a bummer coming and going.”
His visitor jumped up from the sofa, and Reggie looked up at him, a little fearful.
“Then for heaven’s sake, man, quit coming and going – hopping from your sad past to your unreadable future! Start living where you are and when you are. Take one day at a time, and one hour at a time. Look at it, feel it, taste it; let it soak into you; enjoy everything you can about it, and if you can’t enjoy it, then learn something from it. But live it. Start really living each one of those moments in your life, Reggie, and you’ll be surprised at the outcome.”
“But I don’t think I know how.”
“It isn’t rocket science, Reggie. As I said at the beginning of our conversation: it’s simple. You just have to decide to do it. And I’m not telling you everything will be the way you want it. Your life – like anyone else’s – will have its ups and downs. It may not always be great – but at least it will be real.”
Reggie hung his head again, leaning over with his elbows on his knees, trying to get a better handle on the fact that he was listening to some vision that had just suddenly appeared in his living room. He had to admit that what his visitor said gave him the first inkling of hope that he could actually have a better life.
“Yeah, you might be right.” He surprised himself by saying the words aloud. He was still looking down at the floor but his mind was going back over his visitor’s words. Even though it felt a little spooky hearing them from this apparition, he knew in his heart that he needed to try to follow the advice.
“I’ll do it!” he said as he looked back up to the visitor to confirm his decision. But then he blinked. The room was empty.
Leading up to our Thanksgiving Day celebration in the U.S., I’m doing a few posts that revisit some of my poems that focus on that holiday. I hope you enjoy them, whether you’re reading them again or for the first time.
Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love you!
Golden crowning jewel of Fall,
Beacon of warmth and cam’raderie,
Sending glad invitation to all:
“Gather to worship; gather to visit;
Gather to focus on all that’s worthwhile;
Feast from tables resplendent with harvest;
Feast on the love in a touch and a smile.”
All the year’s labors weigh heavy upon us.
All the world’s problems seem bigger by far.
But out from that wearisome struggle you call us,
And laying it down, we run to where you are.
And whether in cottages, mansions, or churches,
Community buildings, or tables in parks,
We gather with gratitude full – overflowing;
To the Giver of blessings lift voices and hearts.
Then we return to life’s pattern awaiting.
Filled up with joy, we set off on our way,
Warmer and richer and kinder in spirit
For pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
Here it is: The perfect little Thanksgiving gift for those you want to bless during this time of gratitude for God’s abundant blessings in our lives. This small soft-cover book is a seasonal collection of scriptures, pictures, and Thanksgiving poems and essays by my father Ted Pavloff and me. The cover features the photography of my sister Brenda Calvert, so it’s really a family collaboration.
Only 25 pages long, measuring 5 1/5 x 8 1/2, it is just the right size to pick up and enjoy for a few moments of seasonal pleasure in the weeks anticipating Thanksgiving Day or in the hours after dinner, when you’re letting your turkey and dressing settle.
$4.00 on Amazon. You can find your copy at this link.
I have several Christian friends who like to confess God’s Word over themselves and their families every day, so I made them flipbooks that have some of their favorite scriptures (in a personalized version) on the pages of the book and some more on decorated cards slipped into the pockets. Each book has a different decorative theme, depending on the individual person — or my available materials. This is one that I made this week with an autumn theme. (I also include a specialty tea bag in each pocket as an extra treat. ).
Sorry my photos are not super clear.
I believe the Lord has called me to a special hour of prayer for the needs of others tomorrow — Wednesday, July 21 — from 1:00-2:00 p.m. I’m inviting anyone out there with prayer needs to let me know if you’d like for me to pray for you specifically. Please do not ask for prayer for so-called “unspoken requests.” The only way I can pray in faith about anything is if I know for sure what I’m praying for and can find the promises in the Word of God that cover those needs. That’s impossible to do with a request that is totally unidentified. But if you have any specific requests, feel free to let me know sometime between now and noon tomorrow.
Please DO NOT leave your request on this page. You can e-mail your requests to me at my ministry e-mail at the address below. You will need to have your request turned in by noon tomorrow, U.S. CDT. I would love to pray for you and see the Lord move supernaturally to meet your needs in the name of Jesus Christ.