Ultimate Obedience

Black and White Hands

After two years of avoidance, I have returned to blogging. My impetus is the result of a CT scan which shows the metastatic breast cancer that I have been battling for 14 years has expanded in my liver and started its deadly assault on my lungs.  This wasn’t a surprise, but it’s a long story that I don’t plan to tell now. I am writing again simply to capture the vision that invaded my dreams decades ago and refuses to die. I don’t have that option:  I am going to die, (probably sooner rather than later), so I will spend the last days of my life writing about a vision that existed long before me and will live on long after my body decomposes in the earth.

The vision at its foundation is simply John 17, and the Lord’s repeated statement that we may be one as the Father and Son are one.  He doesn’t ask God to make us one; He simply states that they may be made one as if it is the assured outcome and the purpose of everything He does ask.  The first time I seriously considered those words nearly forty years ago, I believed that Christ’s prayer had been answered in the affirmative. No other option made sense to me, and it still doesn’t.  When the Son asked the Father to keep the disciples through His name, to keep them from the evil one, and to sanctify them in truth, did the Father say “no”?  Of course not! And being kept and sanctified means that we may be one. So what’s the problem?  Obviously, it’s us!  Obviously, we have chosen for one reason or another not to enter a spiritual reality that Christ provided as His final blessing on the disciples during His last hours in mortal flesh.

The church was born in the heart of that reality.  On the day of Pentecost they were all gathered in one place and in one accord and we know what happened.  Through the early days the believers broke bread daily and had all things in common.  We know from the New Testament, that it didn’t take long for the newly converted to take their eyes off of Christ and begin to focus on other things like the law, or their leaders, or who wasn’t getting their fair share of food distributions. Tragically, history tells us that the Lord’s plan for His disciples to be one as the Father and the Son are one has often been lost in bickering, battles, and bloodshed among believers.

The experience of universal Christian unity was lost within a relatively short period of time. Segregation by doctrine, denomination, and different cultures became normal in a body of believers called to be one as the Father and the Son are one. Knowledge of universal Christian unity faded from the church.  Many if not most Christians believe that John 17 is a promise for life after death.  But that just doesn’t make sense.  Read the prayer.  The purpose of our perfect unity in Christ serves to protect us from the evil one as we are sent into the world.  It provides evidence to the world that the Father sent the Son, and that He loves us as He loves His Son.  Neither will be necessary in the world to come.

We have lost the precious knowledge of Christ’s plan, provision, and power in unity.  But lost knowledge can be rediscovered. In my lifetime, in my small circle of experience, I have seen God bring down walls between Catholic and Protestant, between Methodist, Baptist, and Brethren.  And whatever He is doing around me, He is doing throughout the world. The burden I have carried nearly four decades convinces me that the time has come for the knowledge of Christ’s provision for unity among His disciples to be rediscovered and experienced once more.

Just read John 17 carefully. Think about the cross looming just ahead. Think about Christ’s last minutes with His disciples. Think of Him praying for the work they have been given. Think what might happen if all who claim His name actually believed that His repeated statement is spiritual reality.


Watching #shadowyconservativegroups trend is #myguiltypleasure

My philosophy of government has been libertarian since 1992 when I first read Leonard E. Read’s The Elements of Libertarian Leadership. So on May 30, when I saw #shadowyconservativegroups flash by in my Twitter home stream with libertarian sentiments attached, I was intrigued.  I typed the hashtag into TweetChat, and I watched it trend with guilty pleasure until only retweets filled the screen.

The pleasure comes because so many individuals seem to understand that personal responsibility and limited government are required elements of liberty. The guilt comes because I know that tweeting against the way President Obama and Congress are expanding socialism in our country is not the way to recover our lost liberties.

I wrote about why I think libertarian-atheist is an oxymoron during my short association with examiner.com. Sometime soon, I will post the gist of those articles here on Grammas’ Guide. But for now I will start with the a priori statement: Liberty—spiritual, emotional, political—is totally dependent on our Creator. We will have civil liberty only when Christians realize that our collective goal cannot be to reform the government. It must be to radically obey God.

Of course if we are obedient to our high calling in Jesus Christ, we can be sure that hearts will be transformed. And since everyone in government has a heart, we might even see our government transformed as well. But that’s just an agreeable consequence of our faithfulness. It is not a primary goal for the Christian.

For thirty-five years I’ve been convinced that the secret to seeing the Church triumphant is distilled for us in our Lord’s high priestly prayer in John 17.

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.

He made provision for our unity, and that unity is His means for displaying His glory. God wants our unity to be a witness to the world that the Father sent the Son and loves us as He loves His Son. How it must break the heart of God to see His children still caught in the same trap that divided the Corinthians into Paulites, Apolloites, and Cephasites. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13) If we want to live in liberty, we must learn to come together by His Spirit. We must stop dividing His body and destroying our witness because of our political philosophies, pet doctrines, or worship styles.  

I will probably smile guiltily again whenever I see conservatives  playing hashtags games on Twitter.  But I will also pray with Christ that we will be one as He is one with His Father.  I will pray that Christian conservatives & Christian liberals, Christian independents & Christian party loyalists, Christian libertarians & Christian socialists will all join our Lord in His prayer that we will be made perfect in one.

When that happens we can be certain that, no matter what is going on in Washington, the Lord will keep us in perfect peace because our minds will be fixed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)

Gramma fights on her knees

In the sixth chapter of his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul uses a soldier dressed for battle to teach a very important spiritual lesson.  During his lifetime, Roman legions patrolled the empire, so Paul knew wherever believers gathered the image would be familiar to all who heard his letter read.

Today the Roman soldier is ubiquitous in Sunday School material far beyond the lands where the Caesars once reigned. And he still makes an effective teaching aid on a poster with his armor labeled from Ephesians 6:13-17.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.  Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

There is even a plastic version of the full armor of God available as a child’s costume. However, the day I saw seven-year-old Tim use the sword of the Spirit to pound on the shield of faith held by four-year-old Nathan, I knew something was missing in their lesson on spiritual warfare.

Unfortunately, the same thing is too often true for adults as well. Too often we isolate those four verses as though simply describing the armor accurately can keep us safe. And I think that like Tim and Nathan we might even use the armor fighting our allies instead of our enemy.

Very early in my walk with the Lord, I memorized all the pieces of the full armor of God. I knew that rema, not logos was the Greek word for “word” in the passage. I understood from that fine distinction that I was to have precise portions of scripture hidden in my heart and ready to apply as needed.

However, it was much later that I finally realized that the battle I was preparing to fight took place on my knees.  Ephesians 6:18 tells us exactly what to do once we have our armor in place:

praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints —

If we move back in the passage to verses 10-12, we see that Paul had reached a conclusion of some kind when he introduces the concept of spiritual warfare:

 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

One day as I was reading my Bible, I had one of those utterly transcendent moments of enlightenment: FINALLY! Finally, my sisters, I made the connection between Paul’s warning about the spiritual nature of our battle and everything he had said from Ephesians 5:22 to 6:10. He tells us that our battle is not with our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, employees, employers or any of the other people who are most likely to annoy or disappoint us in life. He tells us that we must live armed and praying so that we are always warring against God’s enemies and not against God’s children. He tells us that the evil day we must withstand is any day that saints allow the enemy to disturb the unity of the body of Christ.

And that is why Gramma must constantly fight on her knees.


Good homemakers spend time on their knees

If you already know how to build the spiritual foundation for a good home, you realized immediately that the title of this post contains a metonym for prayer and not a command to keep your floors clean.

Good homemakers pray!

It has been over ten years ago since we first began to share a mission and a vision for the homemaking ministry we eventually called Gramma’s House.  Our mission is to help make every home a holy, happy, healthy haven of hospitality.  Our vision sees homemaking  first among honorable careers, and sees communities where it is economically feasible for women to choose to work in their homes.

From the moment we first shared our vision up to the present, everyone involved has agreed that prayer lays the foundation for ministry and builds it every step of the way. Yet it is usually much easier to get women to together to cook, to clean, to garden, to sew, or to study than it is to get them together just to pray.

The women who support Gramma’s House with their time and their talents also support the ministry with their prayer.  Just because a woman is reluctant to pray aloud, in the company of others, it doesn’t mean that she never prays.  Some prayer warriors are shy by nature. And I am certain that God abundantly blesses all faithful closet prayers.

But I am also certain that if we want to receive all the riches that our Father in heaven wants to pour out daily into our lives, we must be willing to talk to Him freely and openly together at any time, in any circumstance, with anyone.

Think about the way Jesus prayed at the tomb of Lazarus:

And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” (John 11:41, 42 NKJV)

In this account (John 11:1-16) we have clear evidence that Jesus was in constant communication with His Father even if His disciples didn’t realize it.  They are confused about the whole situation, but Jesus, in silent communion with His Father, knows that Lazarus is dead. He also knows that the death will display the glory of the Son of God, but He still does not make it obvious to His disciples that He is talking with His Father.

Then, standing at the tomb with many Jews watching and listening, Jesus not only makes His conversation with His Father public, He openly acknowledges that He chose His words for the benefit of His audience.  From our Lord’s own example here, we know that when He told us to pray secretly in our closets He did not mean that we should never let anyone hear us talk to God. Christ shows us that a voice raised in prayer for all to hear can bring glory to the Lord in a very special way.

The typical attitude Christians have about talking to God together seems rather bizarre if we imagine natural children assuming the same attitude toward their own beloved father. Imagine a happy family of children. Imagine that each child will talk freely to the father about everything and anything as long as no one else is in the room.

Now imagine that another sibling comes in, and immediately they both begin to act as though their father is no longer present. They talk to each other about how much they love their father. More brothers and sisters join them, and they sing songs about their father’s goodness toward the family. They even discuss the things they plan to ask their father and agree that they will all make the same requests. But as long as there are two children in the room, no one will speak to him out loud. Well, maybe one of them will speak to the father aloud, but when they are all together, it has to be done at a clearly prescribed times.

The cause of this strange behavior among the spiritual children of God is not that we are socially challenged, and it has very little to do with shyness. If we feel anxiety, apprehension, and even panic in a situation where it should be natural for any child to speak openly to her Father, the cause can be traced to our enemy. Our adversary understands the power God has made available to His children when they talk to Him together.

That is why my next post will be “Good homemakers fight on their knees.”


Gramma’s long journey into cyberspace

Last year at this time, I would have thought I was more likely to swim the English Channel than to open a Twitter account.   But God does indeed move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. Recently I realized that the Lord has been relentlessly leading me into cyberspace for the past twenty-five years.

It started one day in the 80s.  I was just thinking about Adam and Eve, wondering how they would have understood God’s warning: “for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Since the first humans did not know any other persons who had actually died, what would “die” have meant to them?

From that point, I continued to think how completely our vocabulary has been ravaged by sin.  It seemed to me that words like death, pain, sorrow, and even words like remember and forget would have no meaning for perfect people in a perfect world. My mental exercise did not disturb me until I realized that sinless people could never understand mercy, forgiveness, or salvation.

These ideas came to me about the same time I abandoned my own books for other women’s brooms, so I spent many hours vacuuming, dusting, scouring, and visiting the unfallen planet in the universe of my imagination. I actually talked to several friends about turning my fantasy into a novel, and they were unanimously encouraging. But, as the reigning Queen of the Procrasti-nation, I just planned to start writing tomorrow for over two decades.

Then in January of 2009, I found myself in Lubbock, Texas. What I thought would be a six- week visit with my sisters turned into two and a half years of disabling cancer treatments.  I was far from home, unable to work, and equipped with a laptop.  Tomorrow had arrived with a vengeance, and I began the hard labor of translating fleeting ideas into a story on a printed page.

In the fall of 2010, I finished World Without Mercy, and I immediately started to look for a publisher. (What else can one do with a completed manuscript?)  It was then that I learned of the Catch 22 in 21st century publishing: editors only look at books represented by agents, and agents only accept authors who have already published.

It is true that many small publishers will accept proposals directly from the author.  Alas, with the notable exception of Marcher Lord Press, it seems that small Christian publishing houses have very little interest in science fiction. To tell you the truth, I’m not much interested in science fiction myself, but my story about life on another planet fits in no other genre.

During those first few months of publisher/agent hunting, I also learned that it is my duty as a 21st century author to attend writer’s conferences, establish a website, create a Facebook page, and fully exploit the social media to build a platform that will impress agents, editors, and/or publishers whenever I describe it in a book proposal. In other words, I had to line up potential buyers for my book before I could ever convince anyone that it might be worth publishing.

I attended my first writer’s workshop in Amarillo in April, joined Facebook in May, and started this blog (on Blogspot) in June of 2011. But absolutely nothing could motivate me to begin deliberate self-promotion of a book that only one of my eight siblings had taken the time to read.  (Just to be accurate, even if they all had read it and loved it, I still would never have promoted it online because I would have been dead from shock.)

In July of 2011, I came home to Pennsylvania and attended the Montrose Christian Writers Conference. There I met media expert and avid gardener Daniel Gasteiger.  He told us that Twitter was at the top of his list of social media tools, but…..and this is a wonderful but….it would be very annoying if all we did was tweet about our books.  He encouraged us all to go online to meet like-minded people and have fun. He gave us three rules: be yourself, be kind, and be helpful.   I thought, “I can do that!  I can go online to promote the ministry that I helped to incorporate in 2008.”

So in November of 2011, I finally set up a Twitter account, but it wasn’t until a few short weeks ago when I found #mkbiblechat that I really began to enjoy myself.  A whole new range of retweets began to appear in my home stream by way of #mkbiblechat (ters) that I happily follow.  I quickly discovered that many profiles were dedicated entirely to sharing Bible verses, prayer requests, and quotes from the saints both living and dead.

I’ve placed those accounts on my “Retweetable” list, where I now go for quick inspiration.  It was just that type of account that inspired me to begin my own “TIP” (Twitter Intercession Project).  On March 6, I started daily tweeting from Andrew Murray’s “Helps to Intercession” with the hashtag #amintercessionhelp.

I pray that God will use this post (and the next one) to connect me with intercessors to join in daily prayer in one accord.  Now that I have blogged about my TIP, I will switch to #amhti to conserve thirteen precious characters.

May the Lord abundantly bless my effort to tweet for His glory.


Whenever I read OMG, I silently sing ITIT!

In my last post I wondered how often people who write LOL have literally done so. I confessed that I don’t use the term because, for me, it would be dishonest when I don’t LOL reading chats, tweets, and email.  However, the conviction that I would feel if I used LOL  when it is not literally true pales in comparison to the guilt that would stab me if I ever typed OMG as a casual exclamation.

I am blessed beyond measure that the vast majority of my friends hold the name of the Lord to be just as sacred as I do.  I praise that precious name that I rarely see those three letters in a way that offends in any text or email. Alas, since I joined the wonderful world of Twitter in November, all too often I see them flow by in my home stream.

I dedicate this post to Charles Monroe and his sweet praise song “Unto Thee O Lord.” I learned it years ago, and now the simple words come back to comfort me each time I read OMG in a tweet.  First, I mentally echo “O my God,” and then I automatically add “I Trust In Thee.”  Sometimes I continue with “Let me not be ashamed, let not my enemies triumph over me!”

And instead of taking offense I offer prayer and praise. OMG is just one more opportunity to do what mankind was created to do: worship and enjoy the Creator whose name is blessed forever! OMG is a cry from my heart to the Savior who died to set me free from the bondage of sin. OMG is an introduction to a song that lifts me to the throne of grace where I find mercy and help in my time of need.

OMG also is my prompt to intercede for the person behind the tweet. Just think of the influence we will have in the spiritual realm, if all of us who do not use OMG frivolously begin to consistently pray for those who do:

OMG! We long for You to touch every heart that banters Your name in a careless acronym.  We want each one to know You and love You so much that it becomes impossible to use Your name without thinking of You.

When I finished the fourth entry in Grammas’ Guide to the Universe, I was looking for a way to move naturally toward a series of posts on prayer, because I believe that talking to God is the secret of successful homemaking.  But then, I was suddenly distracted by a tweet that greatly amused me but didn’t cause me to LOL, and I wrote my previous post. Now I rejoice to see that God has used what I saw as only a distraction to lead me exactly where He wants me to be. Next time I will share the joy I have found in tweeting to the Lord.