Tuesday, August 26

A Tangled Web

Today, a good friend and a sister in Christ grasped my hand in one of hers, and my pastor's hand in the her other, and as we formed a circle she prayed for our church and our staff. She might not have known, but God surely did, how apropos was one line that crossed her lips, and how much of a a blessing it was to me.

Last night as I stood on my deck, I contemplated a spider web seemingly sleeping in his web. The light from the den shone bright on the intricate weaving strung between the window and an outside wall, and I studied the webbing paying little attention to the spider perched in its corner. That is until a flying insect dive bombed straight at the web just centimeters from the waiting spider. The beast sprung into action. It was upon its pray in a fraction of an instant. I watched, amazed, as the spider played that insect like an instrument; tiny legs moving to its internal rhythm as the insect was held captive, motionless, and bound tightly in silk. The spider moved away for a moment, the dashed back to reinforce the insect's wrappings. Satisfied that the prey had been subdued, he moved away and again was still.

As my sister prayed today that Christ would snare satan in His web and bind him like a spider does his prey, the image of my spider came rushing back. I have seen the results of a spider's dominance before, the mummified cocoons of its prey, but have never seen the dispatching of its victim in action. I know that I was shown this working of nature for this very time and this very purpose.

Now I have a glorious picture of Jesus, my Savior and my Lord, ruling over satan, binding him as effortlessly as that spider was master over the bug.

- 2Pe 2:4 -

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

Sunday, August 24

The Game of Distraction

We all know that the evil one (satan, the devil, lucifer, what ever name you choose to call that snake) is the father of lies. And for good reason. The deceptive game he's playing now with the people I love is the Game of Distraction. When he gets scared (because he KNOWS the power of Jesus and His followers who call on and trust in His Name) and he knows that he cannot defeat HIM, satan causes all sorts of problems with the intention of taking our eyes off the goal that Jesus has set before us.

My church is preparing to launch a capital campaign - our membership is growing and we need more room to make way for the expanding family of God. The closer we get to the kick-off date, the more kinks appear in the fabric our other ministries. I'm guilty along with the rest - I've been so worried and grieved by the problems (and not little problems by any means) that I have not focused my prayers on the campaign. I know that our membership needs to be in prayer for it, but suddenly there are so many other, IMMEDIATE, issues, REAL needs, to pray for that the campaign has fallen to the wayside. I don't mean to speak for everyone, but I have just realized tonight that this is the case with me, and I can't help but think that many others have fallen hook, line, and sinker into this trap as well.

Distractions. Yes, a tool of the devil that I have recognized tonight. I praise God, who brought this to my attention. I trust God, who assured me (even if I was only assured for a split second) that HE is in control. I THANK God for his faithfulness and his love and His mercy and His blessings.

Are satan's distractions taking you from something that God has set before you? Don't fall into the evil one's trap. Seek God's face and do not let the evil one distract you. Do not let worry overtake you. Romans 8:28 says (and I've witnessed its truth) "For we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." That includes those things that may seem to be contrary to OUR vision of His plan.

My eyes are ever on the Lord,
for only he will release my feet from the snare.
Psalm 25:15

For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Friday, August 22

Friday Fiction: Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

My "Friday Fiction" offering this week is from the FaithWriters "Mystery" challenge. I love reading mysteries, but this was my first (and only) attempt at writing one.

Fiction Fridays is hosted this week by Joanne Sher at her blog, "An Open Book" To read and share more great fiction, follow this link --> http://fictionfusion.blogspot.com/

They were talking about it again. The carpet itched the backs of Benjy’s leg, and he absently scratched with one hand and pushed the dump truck back and forth in front of him with the other. His attention, though, was fixed on his mom and dad. Benjy didn’t want to miss a word of their conversation.

“I swear, Jeff, there is such a thing as the sock monster. Look - six unmatched socks in this load.” Benjy’s mom didn’t sound happy.

“Did you look…”

“I looked everywhere – I even muscled the washer and dryer away from the wall to make sure they weren’t hiding back there. I swept a yardstick under them and only brought out dust bunnies and dryer sheets.”

“Carol, they’ve got to be somewhere. Socks don’t just disappear.”

A flash brightened the room, and seconds later a deafening crack of thunder made them all jump. Benjy had all but forgotten about the truck his hand now gripped.

“Uh… I mean..,” Jeff faltered, “they don’t disappear in this quantity, anyway. How many is that, now?”

“These six make 23. At this rate, there won’t be a single pair of socks in this house by summer. I’m telling you – it’s the sock monster!”

Another burst of light was followed immediately by a crash of thunder. The skies opened and a torrent attacked the roof with a clatter.

Jeff’s eyes shot toward the window, and he saw his son’s ashen face, a full moon glowing in the darkening room. Benjy was doing his best to be brave, but his lower lip quivered.

Jeff snapped his fingers. “Hey, I’ve got an idea!”

Benjy tore his gaze from the storm outside, and looked up at his dad. A single tear escaped. He wiped at it with the back of his hand before it could trickle down his cheek.

Jeff lowered himself to the floor to sit with his son. “Ben, you and I going on a sock hunt. Somewhere in this house are 23 socks, and we’re going to find them. I don’t believe in the sock monster – how about you, squirt?”

“Umm, n-n-no?” He wanted to be brave for his dad, but he wasn’t too sure about the monster. His mom believed in it, didn’t she?

“C’mon, it’ll be fun. We’ll each get a flashlight, and we’ll search every corner and cranny of this house. And whoever finds the most socks wins a prize.”

Benjy cocked his head to one side and squinted at his dad. “What kinda prize?” Visions of chocolate bars filled his head.

“A surprise prize.”

“Well…I guess.” He gave his mom a pleading look, and she returned it with an encouraging smile. He left his truck and, feet dragging, trailed after his dad to the garage. And so the two set out on the Great Sock Hunt of ‘07, Jeff determined, but Benjy reluctant.

A half hour of poking into closets, peeking under beds, and peering behind furniture produced only one missing sock. Jeff scratched his head. “Ok, squirt, only your room left. Let’s hit it.”

“Dad? Can I have some milk?”

“After we finish the sock hunt, Benjy. We’re almost through.”

“But…I’m thirsty.”

“You can wait, it’ll only be a couple minutes.” He studied Benjy, who had commenced to quake and tremble. Jeff squatted down and laid a hand on Benjy’s shoulder. “What is it, Ben?”

“The sock… The…” Benjy took a deep shuddering breath and squared his shoulders. “N-n-nothing, dad. It’s ok.”

Jeff took Benjy’s small hand in his big one, and together they ventured in to Benjy’s room. Once on the other side of the door, though, Benjy stood stock still, a wary eye on the bed, as Jeff searched for socks. “Hmm, no loose socks in the closet…none behind the bureau. Ok, let’s look under this bed.”

“Be careful, Dad.” Benjy was trembling again, and his eyes were filling.

“Careful of what, Ben?”

Sobbing now, Benjy blurted out, “The monster, Dad! The monster under the bed!”

“Benjy, we’ve talked about this. There’s no such thing as monsters, and there sure isn’t one living under your bed.

“But Mommy said there is a monster – The Sock Monster!”

Jeff choked back a laugh and struggled to keep a straight face.

“But I'm not too scared, Dad. He won’t eat me. I made sure.”

“How’d you do that, squirt?”

“I feed him. Almost every day. And so far he’s left me alone.”

“What have you fed him?”

“Duh, daddy, he eats socks! Do you think Mommy will be mad at me?”

copyright 2007 Catrina Bradley

Wednesday, August 20

The Devil in the Details

Tonight was Church Conference - my church's monthly business meeting. That sounds like such an oxymoron to me - "church business". After all, I left the business world to enter the church world. I've come to realize since venturing into my calling of a ministry position (a menial one in some people's eyes perhaps, but it IS a ministry without a doubt), that church isn't all wine & roses. (Or I should say grape juice and Easter lilies?).

The main discussion tonight didn't get ugly, didn't get out of hand, didn't reek of anger, but I lost my focus somewhere in the middle of it. The focus, of course, being Jesus. I was back in the world, trying to hammer out details in my mind, wanting more than anything simply to understand the changes being proposed. I probably spent too much time whispering with my husband & asking him questions. I find this kind of action rude, to say the least, in people, and I hate that I was doing it mself.

I'm only now recalling a cry to the Lord I shared with the member who cooks our Wednesday dinners - 'UNITY! UNITY! UNITY IN THIS BODY". We denounced demons and declared the Name above all Names. There was indeed unity in the meeting tonight. There was no open hostility. But as I sat outside on my deck tonight talking to God, I realized that I probably fussed a bit too much. The details will sort themselves out -- IF we focus on the main thing. Jesus.

Forgive me My Lord, for losing sight of you you in the minutia of your business. Help me not to get bogged down by details, but instead to seek your face and just trust you.

Sunday, August 17

Please...I want to be a child again!!!

"This is just for pride; that's all."

This comment comes straight from an Olympic commentator's mouth tonight about a gymnast in the men's floor exorcise .

I've been watching gymnastics since... well, as long as I can remember. Every weekend as a child I would study the TV Guide, seeking out "Wild World of Sports". We only had 3 channels (plus PBS) back then. If gymnastics was listed, I was watching. Back then, I didn't pay much attention to the competitor's scores; I only watched because I loved watching. The Olympics were the culmination - I knew the participants because I had seen them already on TV. The beauty, the skill, took my breath away.

Somewhere along the way, I lost that childish joy. The shear enjoyment, the amazement, of the girls staying on the balance beam, or their flight from the upper to the lower bar on uneven parallel bars, the amazing flips and twists on the floor exercise, was replaced by who was winning, who bobbled, who missed an element, who (gasp) fell on her tush.

I miss that innocence. I miss watching gymnastics simply for the joy.

In the same way, I miss the childish innocence of simply being in awe of the God I knew from Bible stories. Jesus was HUGE; such an awe inspiring person; I loved contemplating His miracles - picturing them in my mind. More than that, I loved thinking about how much He loved ME, and being satisfied with that knowledge.

But that was before the world's cynicism and denial intruded on MY world. Somewhere along the way, I crossed a line - a line that cannot be uncrossed. Never again will I be that child of innocence - that child that watched Olga, or later, Nadia, and basked in her grace - that child who heard "Jesus loves you" and was completely satisfied with that simple fact, and glowed in that love.

Oh, don't get me wrong I still MORE that believe that God is THE God, that Jesus really DOES love me. And I'm still in awe of the near-magical feats of the Olympic gymnasts. But the child-like innocence is gone. Now I cringe at the tiniest hop on a vault landing. Now I rage at the merest insinuation that Jesus is less than God.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 1 Corinthians 13:11

I wish it didn't have to be this way.