Harp and Story

Paradise Lost

Coming into Paradise, CA, from Chico on the Skyway Blvd., dozens of decorated crosses mark the lives lost in the Camp Fire.

Genesis 2:8-9, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”

Certainly, it was not God’s plan for people to die, homes be destroyed, livelihoods lost, but maybe there is something greater at work here? Reading from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, devotional reading for January 25th he says, “Do not look for God to come in any particular way, but look for Him. That is the way to make room for Him. Expect Him to come, but do not expect Him only in a certain way.”

As my husband and I drove through the devastated community of Paradise, CA a few days ago I couldn’t help but feel profound sorrow for all that people, many of whom are my friends, lost. The “Why God” question formed itself in my mind without conscious bidding as I surveyed scene after scene of total annihilation.

The Sound Foundation Recording Studio where the majority of our Harp and Story CD’s were recorded.
What remains of the Black Bear Diner, Paradise, CA

Paradise, CA is just one example of the devastation and destruction that has happened to the world Yahweh created. Yashua tells us in John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” As we, believers in Yashua our Messiah, watch horrific events unfold around us, both of political and natural origins, might we be tempted to think that Yahweh has forgotten us and abandoned us to a fate of continual devastation and destruction? Using the apostle Paul’s words from Romans, “May it never be!” Let us do as Oswald Chamber’s says to us, Look for God,” not to come in a particular way that suits our affinities of rightness or wrongness, but look for Him. Rest assured that He has His hands around His creation, moving world events according to His plan and purpose. When we just look with our natural eyes all we see is devastation and destruction, but when we look for YHVH we see His promise,

Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:38-39, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“Look up for our redemption draws nigh!”

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No Thank You

How can three little words cause so much pain?

Yashua said No Thank You to Food, Presumption, and Power when the devil tempted him at the beginning of His earthly ministry. (Matthew 4:3-11) Are those temptations any less a snare for us today?

When we say No Thank You, we may expect these words of Yashua found in Matthew 5:11, applied to us, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

No one likes to be maligned, scorned, discounted, beat upon, but that, according to the words of Yashua, is what we should expect when we say No Thank You. But do we compromise and justify our actions to avoid having to say No Thank You?

Do we compromise our No Thank You’s by justifying what kind of and the amount of food we eat presuming that just one time won’t hurt and after all, we don’t want to make waves — let’s just go along to get along! Or how about the things we buy or the words we say or our actions as in “I love you,” but behind my back is this knife that I will use if you dare cross me. How much do we compromise to avoid pain?

Hebrews 12:1-3, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Yashua, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”

There is a price to pay for saying No Thank You to this world’s temptations. We will be treated poorly and may even die for our No Thank You, but just look at the reward; John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”

The response to our No Thank You may cause pain for a moment, but keeping our eyes fixed on the prize, it’s well worth the price!

John 14:1-3, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in Yahweh; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

To Go, or to Stay

To Go, or to Stay

We were in Paradise, California this past July where Steve recorded two new harp CDs with our good friend and sound engineer, Gene LeSage. We celebrated Steve’s 65th birthday in their spacious backyard and throughout the time we stayed with them we enjoyed much pleasant and stimulating conversation and good friendship. Now, in less than 24 hours Paradise is in ashes. As I watch the video footage of the carnage from this “hell” fire my heart breaks for our friends we have who lost their homes and all their possessions; and for all the others impacted by the devastating loss of property and lives. This Camp fire is being called the worst fire in California history with over 6,000 homes destroyed and as the forensic recovery teams begin their work more and more bodies are being found buried in the debris.

Paradise, California was a beautiful town situated in the foothills of the Sierra’s nestled among lofty pine and fir trees. The town’s leaders were so proud of this idyllic setting that they forbade the cutting down of these giants without special and costly permits. Steve and I presented Harp and Story at a local church last July and one lady I was talking with made the comment that Paradise is a paradise, but God help us if a fire ever comes through. Was she uttering a prophetic statement without realizing her words would have such an impact only a few short months later?

As I have watched this horrible destruction unfold my thoughts have turned to characters in scripture being told by Yahweh to leave and go to a place “that I will show you.” An obvious example of this is Abraham when Yahweh told him to leave Haran and journey to Canaan. Another is Lot when the angels told him to flee Sodom lest he be caught up in its destruction. The family of Jacob going down to Egypt and then the children of Israel leaving Egypt to return to the land promised to Abraham is another example. Joseph being warned by an angel to flee Bethlehem because Herod was coming to kill the child, Yashua, another example. And what about the apostle Paul wanting to go into Bithynia, but being directed to go to Macedonia instead. And for us, perhaps, this is a warning to not get so tightly attached to our things and/or our surroundings that we cannot get up and go at the command of Yahweh to a place that we know not. Like one man said concerning the Camp fire, “I have lost everything, but I still have my life. I’m going, but I don’t know where yet.”

Remember these folks in your prayers that Yahweh will be wisdom for them as they make critical decisions in the days ahead.

 

 

Travel Journal 2018 — Joining the Snowbirds!

October is coming to a close and our time in Iowa is also ending, but what special and precious memories we will be taking with us of our time spent with friends in this state! The past three weeks we have been helping start a Joy Starts Here study group. Speaking as a teacher one of the most, if not the most rewarding thing is to see a “lightbulb” turn on; that ah-hah moment when a concept and reality meet forming a new identity in a person’s mind.

Our last time together, for this year anyway, we talked about masks and maturity. Maturity is about reaching one’s God-given potential. It means maximizing our skills and talents and using them effectively while growing into the full capability of our individual designs. (Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You, p. 33)

And masks are what is used to cover up our God-given potential. Many of us grew up without consistent and strong “glad to be with you” joy experiences. When joy is inconsistent, weak or missing, our fear, anxiety and stress systems shape our brain’s structure, chemistry and growth. The lack of joy leaves gaps in our relational style, identity and ability to respond to upsetting emotions. Before long, these malfunctions become such a part of us that we tend to see them as totally normal. We are the last to know we even have a weakness. (Joy Starts Here, p. 36)

Scripture tells us in Proverbs 15:4, “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” 

“You are stupid,” said to a child causes that child’s brain to make that statement become fact, as is “You are fat,” “You are ugly,” “You are bad,” all these become self-fulfilling prophecies as they are repeated over and over re-shaping the child’s brain to believe and act on that belief.

Every mask we put on removes us farther and farther from the person YHVH created us to be. We become a shell of what Jeremiah was told in chapter 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Psalm 139:13-14, “For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”

“Be very courageous,” YHVH told Joshua. “Be very courageous,” YHVH tells us. It takes courage to ask YHVH to reveal our masks and again, the courage to ask for His help in removing them — one by one — until the REAL you is finally revealed and you stand fully matured in the Light of His glory and Grace.