A Visit from a California Valley Quail

The Majestic California Quail

The Majestic California Quail

A few days ago a bird perched on the back fence looking rather regal.  I thought it might fly away, but it didn’t.  It caught my attention and I hunted for my binoculars to get a better look.  I recognized that it was a quail by its plume.  It stood like it was protecting the yard.  Its face looked like it was dressed in a medieval armor helmet with the visor lowered.  The white coloring is quite stunning on the male bird.  He was indeed protecting his family of young quails as they munched on whatever seed they were finding in the grass.  The shrubbery nearby offered an escape path for them to flutter to, if necessary.

The family fed for almost 30 minutes. The adult male stayed positioned on the corner stone fence post.  I felt I had an armed guard keeping watch over the property.  Its “yellow” breast covering looked orange in on this particular bird.  It seemed to be soaking in the sun as it stood guard. Eventually the family scuttled off into the chaparral.

I looked up online the fact this this bird is the official state bird of California. It’s easy to see why.  The beauty and pose and regal nature make it a lovely state bird.  The California Quail is also known as the California Partridge, Catalina Quail, Topknot Quail, and Valley Quail.  The California Quail is smaller than a pigeon, but larger than a dove.  It tends toward robust sizing.

How can it be that I have never seen a California Valey Quail till now? The bird is dressed in such exquisite detail. It continues to be welcome in our yard, even though it visits infrequently.  Long live the California Quail!


Celebrating the New Covenant with Communion

The Communion Cup represents the New Covenant.  Photo courtesy of www.bobcornwall.com

The Communion Cup represents the New Covenant. Photo courtesy of www.bobcornwall.com

“This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”  Luke 22:20

We take the cup of Communion celebrating the new covenant.  The old covenant takes us to the letter of the law brought by Moses from Mt. Sinai.  That glory dimmed before Moses made it down from the mountain and saw the people breaking the law.  Jesus ushered in the new covenant through becoming our sacrifice for failing to meet the terms of the old covenant.  The law of God still stands, but we get to stand behind Jesus who fulfilled the law.  His righteousness is what God sees when He looks at us. Further, God’s law is written in our minds and in our hearts.  The glory of Pentecost ushered in the Holy Spirit who became our guarantee of the new covenant, our seal.  “You were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.”  Ephesians 1:13 NIV. The Holy Spirit comes and fills us with love, liberty and a new heart that loves the law.  The new cry in our hearts says, “I delight to do Your will, O my God.”  Psalm 40:8.  Truly “He takes away the first covenant and establishes the second.”  Hebrews 10:9.  Another way to look at it is that He takes away “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” (2 Corinthians 3:7) and establishes a new “ministry of righteousness.”  2 Corinthians 3:9. This new life is life in the Spirit.  The old covenant is passing away (v. 11) and the new covenant lives in us.  So, taking communion embraces and rejoices in the new covenant.  Each time we take communion we embrace a new depth of the covenant.

 

 


Does Our Giving Outweigh Our Thanks this Thanksgiving?

Does Our Giving Outweigh Our Thanks This Thanksgiving?

Does Our Giving Outweigh Our Thanks This Thanksgiving?

We take time once a year to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It’s a day to count our thankfulness to God in so many ways.  Taking time to really ponder our blessings fills our hearts with Thanks, and then giving.

It doesn’t take but a photo of war torn cities to be grateful for not having bombs go off in our country.  It doesn’t take but a photo of poverty stricken areas to be grateful for the meal on our tables.  It doesn’t take a child’s hand begging on a street corner to be grateful for a job, or even the welfare structure of our country. Homeless people sleeping in tents can make us grateful for a roof over our head.  We may not have everything we yearn for.  But we have what we have.  It’s the start point of gratitude for God.

Taking time to praise God begins to fill us with love for God and all He does for us.  We have access through Jesus to peace that passes understanding, to hope because of His faithfulness to us.  We know our prayers are heard.  We believe the Bible when it says, God is for us.  These truths begin to fill us with gratitude—to the point of spilling over.  This point of overflowing is where the convergence of thankfulness turns to giving.  As we realize our gratefulness, we turn to give out.

Does our giving outweigh our thanks this Thanksgiving?  It doesn’t have to be monetary.  It could be graciousness to a difficult relative.  It could be the gift of forgiveness to an old wound or new offense.  It could be letting people work out their relationships with God with silent prayer and love.  It could be simply showing up.  It could be loving again where love has been abused or misunderstood.  In choosing to love, we love wisely.  We love on God’s terms.  But the choice to address the issue and choose love (including tough love) once again is often costly.  Yet this sacrificial giving of love is noted in heaven and joined with supernatural power to join in your choice to give.

Let’s let our giving outweigh our thanks this year.


Christian Syrians Finishing Well

ISIS Killing Christians in a Church.  Photo Breitbart.com

ISIS Killing Christians in a Church. Photo Breitbart.com

When crisis events happen that catch the attention of the whole world, many Christians often comment, “This must be the beginning of the End Times.”  Truth is, we’re already in the End Times.  We are all aware of the Syrian Refugee Crisis as they flood out of Syria. Christian Syrians are escaping certain death from the Isis State.

Other Syrian Christians have already met their death.  They are already feasting in heaven with Jesus.  For them, that was their End Times.  For every person who died for their faith in a living Jesus as Lord, they did finish well.  Their death was noted in heaven and has a certain value.  They met their End Time by finishing well. Whether their photo made it to any journalistic media source or not, their life was not in vain.  Whatever we do for the Lord lasts forever.

Their death creates a sound heard in heaven.  Collectively the sound of the martyrs’ deaths increases in a cry that God hears.  Our outrage on earth joins the world-wide cry to God.  Our caring prayers create an echo.  It’s not just a cry of grief for the loss.  It’s a cry out for God to act on behalf of heaven and join in the supernatural battle with the heavenly armies. We serve a righteous God. He has a way to raise the righteous and the workers of iniquity are not able to rise.

Consider Psalm 36 as a prayer.

Psalm 36 New King James Version (NKJV)

Man’s Wickedness and God’s Perfections

An oracle within my heart concerning the transgression of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
For he flatters himself in his own eyes,
When he finds out his iniquity and when he hates.
The words of his mouth are wickedness and deceit;
He has ceased to be wise and to do good.
He devises wickedness on his bed;
He sets himself in a way that is not good;
He does not abhor evil.

Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O Lord, You preserve man and beast.

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

10 Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You,
And Your righteousness to the upright in heart.
11 Let not the foot of pride come against me,
And let not the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the workers of iniquity have fallen;
They have been cast down and are not able to rise.

 


Praying with Confident Expectation for Our Children

Never Stop Praying for our  Children.  Photo courtesy of www.tblfaithnews.com

Never Stop Praying for our Children. Photo courtesy of www.tblfaithnews.com

Deuteronomy 4:40 reads, “You shall therefore keep His statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”

Like many of promises in the Bible, God attaches a condition.  Deuteronomy 4 describes how to makes things go well for us and our children.  On one side of the coin, it can seem like an onerous condition to have to keep God’s statutes and God’s commandments.  On the other side of the coin, if you are keeping God’s statues and God’s commandments, then the authority in your prayer request begins to carry confidence that this promise will come about. Our prayers are said with confident expectation based in scripture.

If you want a example prayer, T.D. Jakes, in his book He-Motions: Even Strong Men Struggle, suggests the following prayer: “Father, I’m concerned about the direction of my children are taking.  Right now they seem beyond the reach of my voice and influence.  But You can reach them. You can remind them of what they’ve been taught—and initiate the circumstances that will bring them back to You. Your Word says if I obey You, things will go well for me and my children. So I stand on Your promise, believing they’ll choose to serve You and walk in Your blessings for the rest of their lives. In Christ’s name I pray. Amen.”

Start today.  Make the time to pray for God’s blessing on your children.  No matter how far they may seem from God’s plan, nothing is impossible for God.  Refuse to give up and believe that God is partnering with you to answer your prayers.  If it’s taking a long time to see the answer, choose to believe that He’s answering the devoted prayers of many other parents in bringing about change to many people’s lives.  The longer it takes, the more layers God’s answers extend.

 

 


Going for “All” God Has

Seek Gid with ALL Your Heart and He Will be Found

Seek Gid with ALL Your Heart and He Will be Found

As I attended a new prayer meeting last week, I opted to listen before speaking. I could tell their hearts were quite sincere. These people had taken valuable time out of their lives to intercede for other people.  Praying in their midst proved to be a blessing.

One term kept coming up in their prayers repeatedly.  It was the word, “just” in their requests to God.  “Lord could you just heal the person and let them get through their chemotherapy appointments.”  I listened at a literal level and found myself wanting to interject, “No Lord, don’t ‘just’ get them through chemotherapy; I ask that you heal them completely.”  I figure the Lord will do what He wants with the request. I believe in asking for big things since we serve a big God.  He can answer as He pleases.

I notice that I add the “just” word to my sentences when I’m asking for something I’m not sure is possible.  It’s often a limitation of my faith level.  When I catch myself interjecting this word to a prayer request, I stop and restate the sentence taking out the word “just.”  When I think about it, I want “all” that God wants to do.  I may need to stretch my faith to believe for bigger things.  I may not really think it all too possible that someone will get healed.  Nonetheless, I focus on the goodness and the bigness of my God, and make my request.

Toastmasters has a tradition of adding a quarter to a small pot in the middle of the table every time the speaker has an “a” or “um” in their speeches.  One may start with 11-15 “um’s” in their speech (owing $2.75 to $3.75 to the pot), but they quickly get it down to zero.  What if we had a pot in the middle of the table at the next prayer meeting for every time the word “just” was used?  It might make all of us stop using it subconsciously and consciously choose to ask God for all that He wants to do with our requests.


Going From Rout to Route

We call on God to Rout our Enemies along the Route of Life

We call on God to Rout our Enemies along the Route of Life

When it comes to warfare prayers, Psalm 18 beautifully articulate the feelings of David calling on God to be His rock and fortress and deliverer.  Substituting my name in challenging circumstances and this Psalm read out loud make me feel better.  With regard to our enemies, verses 16-18 read, “He sent out His arrows and scattered the foe, lightnings in abundance, and He vanquished them.  He sent from above, He took me; He drew me out of many waters.  He delivered me from my strong enemy.  From those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support.  He also brought me out  into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me.”

For verse 14, the New American Standard Bible translates, “He sent out His arrows and scattered them, and lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.”  The footnote notes that “routed” literally means “confused.”  I find this an interesting strategy point. I have heard many prayer warriors ask God to confuse their enemies. Maybe they are referencing Psalm 18.

After a “routing” of our enemies, it is often time to get back on track and continue on our life’s journey.  By adding an “e” to rout, the new word is route.  Life is a journey along a path that can be called our route. All routes contain obstacles.  Like David does in Psalm 18, we can call upon God to rout our enemies, confuse them, and scatter them.  Then we continue on in the life course God has for us.  “The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Thy lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Thy hands.”  Psalm 138:8


Rebekah’s Giving – Doing the Math

Rebekah's offer of water for multiple camels took hours to fulfill.  The rewards were huge.  Photo by GraceClovis.org

Rebekah offer of water for multiple camels took hours to fulfill. The rewards were huge. Photo by GraceClovis.org

Genesis 24 tells the story of Rebekah standing by a well in a small town when a stranger approached and asked for a drink.  She said yes. Verse 19 continues, “And when she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.” Let’s look at the math of her offer. One camel can drink twenty gallons, so ten can consume two hundred gallons. Two hundred gallons drawn with a five-gallon jar, equals forty trips back and forth to the well. Forty trips at three minutes each, equals two hours of hard work – for a stranger. Think about it: Rebekah showed uncommon kindness to a stranger, and became the bride of Isaac and an heir to Abraham’s fortune.

Rebekah must have good shape to be able to draw from a well and pour that kind of water, possibly in hot temperatures. She also offered more than the minimum. She didn’t have a “What’s the least I have to do here?” mentality. She had the gift of hospitality and went to great lengths to extend this effort.

The Biblical principle is that we determine the level of which we receive by the level at which we give. “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” Luke 6:38 NIV.

For Rebekah’s hospitable efforts, her loved ones got blessed too. After Abraham’s servant revealed who he was, he brought out gold and garments and gave them to Rebekah. Then he added gave precious gifts for her family. The rewards of our generosity often overflow and touch the lives of those around us.


Discover Watermelon Radishes

Watermelon Radishes are beautiful and delicious! Photo from galleryhip.com

Watermelon Radishes are beautiful and delicious! Photo from galleryhip.com

How have I lived this long and not ever known what a watermelon radish is?

I discovered them this week.  I had to ask a grocer to show me a watermelon radish at my local fresh produce market The Milk Pail.  He pointed out something whitish/green and round about the size of a small baseball (and almost as hard.)  I brought it home for a recipe and cut it open.  A vibrant pinkish-red color stood out on the cutting board.  Watermelon radishes are absolutely beautiful!  The flavor isn’t as pungent as the traditional smaller red radish with the white center cousin. Watermelon radishes are ready and safe to eat raw.

I continued to make the oriental dish.  I substituted buckwheat noodles for soba noodles, since it was the only noodle I had on hand.  The bok choy and scallions added a lovely green complimentary color and taste to the dish.  The sauce pulled together the flavors of soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  Including the chopping, the dish came together quickly.  It didn’t require any cooking of the radishes so they were “crunchy.”

At the end of the any new dish, my family asks the question, “Would you make this again?” I probably would.  But I would equally be interested in trying other recipes.  The beauty of this vegetable needs to be displayed for appetizer.  So I am hunting for an appetizer recipes.  Watermelon radishes and a white cheese spread might work. They could work on open faces sandwiches.

What a fun find to kick off the New Year with this new discovery.


The New Year 2015 Comes with a Call to Prayer

Prayer and Fasting has powerful results

Prayer and Fasting has powerful results

Everywhere I turn, churches and ministries and pastors are pleading with their congregations to pray as this New Year commences.  Some are praying for their personal welfare and families.  Some are praying for their states and the nation.  It is a time to acknowledge the ways of the world that don’t line up with God’s ways.  Many people point to the moral decay in the land.  We have movies and television shows promoting lies, revenge, sexual promiscuity, cheating on one’s marital partner, murder and greed.  Coming from many angles, the entertainment industry offers a diet of human desires and lusts suggesting that these things are normal under certain conditions.  Truly, that is not what God teaches in the Bible.

God wants his people to pray and humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways. The mere suggestion seems so out of day and un-fun. If we do these things, God promises to hear our prayers and forgive the sins of the land and heal the land.  This promise is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14.  Without the diligent prayer of His people, society is headed toward bleak consequences of destruction.  God takes note of the condition of the hearts of man, of people’s choice for violence and the collective sins of the people. He is a God of love and justice.  Love and justice are two sides of the same coin.  Jeremiah tells us that it is out of His lovingkindness that he brings justice to a people so they can seek righteousness once again.    Jeremiah 9:23-24.

This New Year rings in with a somber note.  Coming from so many echoes, the call to prayer carries urgency with it.  Join the ones that love God with your own prayers for what you would like God to do in this nation.

Many people add fasting to this call for prayer.  It becomes a prayer and fasting time.  Whether we give something up or take something on for 7 or 21 or 40 days, fasting gets noticed in the heavenlies.  Read more about fasting here.