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Length of Days - Search for Freedom

Monday, December 30, 2013

Just a Memory

"For this reason it says, "Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Ephesians 5: 14-17

The year 2013 is nearly a memory. Have you lived all of the year? Or, did you choose to die several deaths to precious moments that can never be reclaimed? No one can tell you how best to use your time, since that is between you and the Lord. Relaxation and refreshment of the body, mind and soul are vital to a healthy follower of Jesus. But, how and where you relax, and when and where you begin your work again is important. Killing off moments is foolish and indicates a lack of understanding about the Lord’s will.

I am not saying we should hurry through life, using up every moment frantically. I have only two speeds, slow and hysterical. Believe me, the latter speed is not a beauty to behold. We should fill our days with peace and joy and the love of the Lord.

Yes, 2013 is nearly past. We have a full year stretched out before us. May 2014 be the year we decide to live all of our life. Let us pray:

"Holy Father, God of all — in all and of all — we bow before your precious name. May this new year be the year that we experience you every day. May 2014 be the year when we choose not to kill off any golden moment you give us. Let this be the year when we open the door to your kingdom, so that Heaven can be experienced here on earth. Father, forgive us for the times we have chosen to turn away from you and have focused on the darkness rather than your light. May we fill 2014 with memories of you and your blessings. In the name of Jesus, the Christ-child of Christmas, we pray. Amen"
Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Escape from the Belfry is available at Cokesbury: www.cokesbury.com,  as well as:  www.archwaypublishing.com bookstore, www.amazon.com and www.b&n.com and others.

Website: www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, December 23, 2013

A CHRISTMAS SURPRISE

"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

Let’s see, pick up a present for my husband and one for our daughter’s boyfriend. We could go to Fort Wayne to get the last one and take in a movie at the same time. I really want to see Saving Mr. Banks. Wow, plans that may really fall into place. Then the phone rang.

Would Bill please visit someone in the hospital? Sure - we could stop before going into the city. And, it will all fit on my list of "Things to be done." After all, it was Christmas and visitation just go together. However, we were the ones who were blessed.

The lovely lady we visited was in her nineties. She was bright, clear-eyed, smooth skinned and full of smiles. She thanked the church for the prayer shawl that had been blessed before it was given to her. An interest in life and creative expression was still evident in her life and she asked if the church could use any of the tubs of craft materials she still has. A stranger was immediately turned into a new friend because of the common bond of Christian love.

Christmas is the very time to remember how the world has changed because of Jesus Christ, because of Christmas. Love, grace and forgiveness came into the world over two-thousand years ago. What would our lives be like without them? Perhaps we would have been afraid to greet a stranger with love and trust, before the birth of the King. Maybe we would have missed the chance to meet a fine seasoned lady who still thought of others and wanted to share what she had.

Rather than shop for yet another present – visit a shut-in or widow, talk to a child, bring love to the lonely or loveless. You will be bringing true Christmas into someone’s life. When you are kind to a stranger, they may actually see an angel through you.

Like Bedford Falls would have been a dangerously bleak and dismal Pottersville if George Bailey had never been born – our world would be without all the blessings of Christmas if Jesus Christ had not been born. Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, grow tired from waiting upon the Lord – not weary from buying more of what is not even needed in the first place. Let us pray:

"Holy Father, your son’s birthday is almost here. You brought Heaven to earth and our hearts to Heaven when he was born. All of Glory rejoices with song as we celebrate his birth. Sometimes we are too busy to hear the melodies or lyrics to your songs of love. Forgive us for our busyness which only serves to make us feel worthy. May this be the Christmas when we listen to you and speak of your love wherever we go. We love you Lord and we thank you for the most precious gift of Christmas. In the name of Jesus, your son, the baby that was announced by angels and the great light of heaven, we pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Escape from the Belfry is available at Cokesbury: www.cokesbury.com, mailto:dorisgainesrapp@gmail.comwww.archwaypublishing.com bookstore, www.amazon.com and www.b&n.com and others.

Website: www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, December 16, 2013

REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS

Yesterday was the Third Sunday in Advent. Within most traditional churches it is called Gaudete Sunday because the introit for the mass of that Sunday begins with the words, “Gaudete in Domino semper: iterum dico, gaudete.” It is set apart from the Advent Candle Wreath by its color - pink. The theme emphasizes the great joy over the coming of the Lord and is taken from Philippians.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”  Philippians 4:4-5 (NIV)

I know how busy you are. The Christmas season is one of the greatest stressors we have. While, it should be the greatest JOY we will ever experience.

If shopping is keeping you from the love of the Lord, then address that failing in whatever way is right for you and the Lord. If baking and cookie making frazzles your nerves, let the bakery on the corner deal with that. If family stresses you, embrace them rather than trying to change them. Let this be the Christmas that Joy comes into your life. While you go about your days between now and Christmas Day, I ask you to repeat these words:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, Rejoice! The Lord is near.”  Let us pray:

“Holy Father, who brought Joy rather than sorrow, Life instead of death, Light over darkness,  Love above hate and Song rather than crying into the world, I lift up my hands to you in praise.
May this be the year that true Christmas comes to everyone, even to me, that your kingdom may truly be ushered into my life. Forgive me for every time you have drawn near and I have turned away, to focus on the tinsel around me. This season, Father God, I choose you and your son Jesus, the Christ of Christmas. May I have the privilege of bringing your Joy to those around me, because indeed, the Lord is near. In the name of Jesus, your son, I pray. Amen”
Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine.”
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

News!  Escape from the Belfry will be available at Cokesbury: www.cokesbury.com  tomorrow.
Or, order at  www.archwaypublishing.com bookstore

Monday, December 9, 2013

Who is Seen in You?

"Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me--put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 (NIV)

 
With each new Christmas season, the Lord Jesus is revealed in the hearts of mankind as the Savior - Emmanuel. As each heart beats with the carols of the season, the name and presence of Jesus, the Son of God, expands in the awareness of everyone. That is what we call the Christmas spirit.

Yesterday in church, we sang Bob McGee’s beautiful chorus, Emmanuel. It was this line that resonated on my heartstrings: "God with us, revealed in us. His name is called Emmanuel"

I thought, "Yes, God reveals Himself within our souls." Then, I also remembered something John Knecht, former President of United Theological Seminary, once said, "You are the best Christian someone knows." The Christ-child is also revealed through us.

Whom do we reveal as we walk through this world at the Holiest time of the year? The materialist one, bent on finding the best, most expensive, most unique presents for our family? Or, the follower of the Christ child, showing the face and heart of Him wherever we go?

Which would make the best Christmas present - the last Happy Slappy that remained on the store shelf . . . or . . . an introduction to the one who will bring the peace of God and the Way to Eternal Life? Who is revealed as we interact with the world? Let us pray:

"Holy Father of our Lord, I bow before your holy name. May this be the Christmas that the Christ-child comes alive to those I meet. Use me, in spite of myself, to reveal Emmanuel, His peace and His saving grace, to all those I meet. Forgive me for the times I could have been a reflection of your love to the world around me, but chose to let others see my anger or indifference. Emmanuel means God with us, and the name of the Love at the center of this season is Emmanuel. Let me bring the love, his presence and his peace to all those I meet. In the name of Jesus, the Christ-child, I pray. Amen"
Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Website: www.dorisgainesrapp.com

To order Escape from the Belfry for Christmas, go to www.archwaypublishing.com bookstore

Monday, December 2, 2013

Yet Are We Still Thankful?

"While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ When He saw them, He said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, ‘Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.’" Luke 17: 11-19 (NIV)

Thanksgiving came and went - our belts are a little tighter, our families a little closer. We slept in or shopped like fools on Friday, and lit the first Advent candle on Sunday. Time moves on.

Oh, how very thankful we were just four days ago — for life, love, and sustenance. My friends, a life lived fully consists of days filled with Thanksgiving, joy, and an attitude of "enough." If you don’t have enough money to buy the largest gifts for Christmas, perhaps your praise and Thanksgiving for the Christ Child is not honored with your shopping and your giving.

My prayer for you this Advent season is that the spirit of fullness may come over you and fill every niche of your life, that satisfaction for the blessings God has given you is enough. Will each of us be the one who returns to Jesus with Thanksgiving on our lips and fullness in our hearts for the truth of Christmas? He is the one that leads us home. What more could we possibly want this Christmas? What more could we possibly give, than a word, a gesture, and a prayer that will lead another to the path that leads to Eternal Life. Christ Jesus really is He who was promised. We don’t have to fill our lives anymore with things that could replace Him. We have been given enough. Let us pray:

"Holy father, Lord God of all, father of love and life and creation, we bow before you, full of thankfulness for all you have given us. In your kingdom, there is neither male nor female, rich or poor, or those with "different" skin. There are only those you love and worship you. In your house, there is enough — full measure, pressed down and running over. May each day be an opportunity to be thankful for all you have done for us and given us. Forgive us when we whine about not having what we want. We thank you completely for sparing us the curse of always getting what we want. For only that which you give us has any real value and meaning. For all of these blessings, we give you thanks and glorify your name. In the name of, and by the power of, the name of your son, Jesus, the Christ Child of Christmas, we pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Website: www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, November 25, 2013

In All Things Be Thankful

"Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

"But it’s not big enough, flashy enough, or located in the perfect spot." It seems to me, we are not thankful in all things, because our appreciation changes with our socks.

I know that the economy is not where we would like it to be. But, try comparing our financial lot with the simple living of the Pilgrims, the hardships of the pioneers, or the devastating diseases of the early settlers. How arrogant are we? Are we owed riches and a mansion on the hilltop?

If we want a life of happiness and joy, then we must life as if we were filled with joy and Thanksgiving. If nothing is enough for us, then nothing will ever be enough for us. Happiness is an attitude of the heart, not a measure of what we have.

Give thanks to the Lord God for his son and know that we live in him when we choose to rest our "enough" in his hands. Sometimes we pray, "Thank you for all you have done for me Lord . . . but what have you done for me today?" Or, "I know you died for my sins Jesus . . . but what miracle will you perform for me today?"

Praise the Lord in ALL things, for it is His will for our lives. There is nothing more joyous than living within the will of God. Let us pray:

"Holy Father, love divine, I yield my desires to the will you have for me. I thank you for all you have given me for it is enough for today. You have stood with me when I have cried out to you and you wrapped me in your peace. Praise the Lord for your love. Because I want to place an order for the little miracles I dream up, I do not recognize all your many blessings that come my way, for they are in your will not mine. I could never imagine all the plans you have for me. I thank you Lord with outstretched arms, eager to embrace your love. In the name of, and by the power of, Jesus Christ, your Son, I pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Check out www.dorisgainesrapp.com And https://www.facebook.com/pages/Doris-Gaines-Rapp/127290457340650

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Night the Wind Blew

"And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock." Matthew 7:25 (KJV)

"Tornado warning!" I called to Bill who was relaxing at his tinkering bench in the garage.

As you know, a "Tornado watch" is posted when the weather conditions are right for the possibility of a tornado. A "Tornado warning" means a twister has been spotted in the area.

So . . . we spent another Indiana late afternoon in the basement. Thank the Lord for the "garden level."

We have been through the Palm Sunday tornado in Elkhart County Indiana; we saw the Eaton, Ohio tornado from our back yard in Germantown, Ohio; and, on May 30, 2012 a small tornado took the roof completely off our little country church in Whitley County Indiana (Washington Center UMC). We respect the wind.

When we got up this morning, we found many broken and downed limbs from our weeping willow tree all over our back yard. A tragedy or a blessing? Those branches were overdue for trimming. The wind did it for us.

Are we assured that nothing bad will ever happen to us? Of course not. But, our soul is claimed and owned by the creator of the wind . . . and we are safe upon the rock on which our soul is grounded. The wind will blow and the house may be damaged; the body may become injured or ill, but that which belongs to the Lord will be safe in His mighty hands. Let us pray:

"Father God, creator of the pruning wind, I praise your holy name. When you have trimmed me and shaped me and re-created me, then you can use me, for I know I will ‘fall not.’ I thank you for never giving up on me. For this day after the wind, I ask that I may be used by you a little more than the day before, but I realize not as much as later. Only you know the time when your creation in me has knocked off enough raw edges and sufficient dead wood that I will not scrape splinters on others. Forgive me when I race ahead of you, so eager to serve that I don’t do the warm-up necessary or yield to your pruning sheers long enough to be of service. I pray that you will use me, in spite of myself, in ways of your choosing, that you, and only you may be glorified. In the name of your son, my savior Jesus Christ I pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Join me: Book signing at the Bookmark Book Store on Anthony in Fort Wayne, Indiana next Saturday, November 23, 2013 from 11:00 to 2:00 p.m. Then - we’ll celebrate Bill’s birthday!

Website: www.dorisgainesrapp.com
Contact: dorisgainesrapp@gmail.com

Monday, November 11, 2013

VETERAN'S DAY

"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV)

"The night sky is clear and every glorious star is visible. But, James Rapp is not sitting on his front porch in the crisp evening air. And, the air quality is not as pure as it is in Indiana or even the space above the distant mountains. Military personnel are burning the base’s crap with diesel fuel and the air hangs heavy with black soot, smoke and burning waste. At 5:30pm on August 31, 2012 it is 106 degrees in his tent with the A/C open wide and the fan at full speed. James is far from home, embedded with the Marine’s in Afghanistan. It is hot as hell and nasty flies circle around his sweaty skin. The showers have been shut off and he has only a few bottles of water and packages of baby wipes sent from home to clean the sand and dust from his body." (From Holding on the Sand)

We at home have no idea of the sacrifices our military family endures in far away places. We can read the words, but have no experience in our own lives to compare it to. On this Veteran’s Day, we thank all who have served in our place and for our sake in distant lands.

There is also a different kind of warrior, one who must stand up against the evil that is around us. On this Veteran’s Day, have the courage to speak out against injustice; speak truth to lies; stand up for the broken, weak and those in need of a friend. That is so small a sacrifice. Care not what others may call you. Only speak love so that the voice you hear is the One who calls you Home. Let us pray:

"Father, God, Dear Hound of Heaven, I slow in my fleeing pace to let you catch my soul. You are the only one whose opinion of me I cherish. Fill me with your love and strength that I may speak out for those who need a voice, and stand up for those whose message has been trampled on. May I be a warrior in your army of saints who stand for you and yours. Forgive me when I have held my tongue for fear of my own reputation. Some will have no voice if I do not speak for them. Give me your grace and love that I may pass them on, in full measure, to those around me. In the name of Jesus, your son and the Captain of my soul, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Holding on to Sand available at www.directbuybooks.com
www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, November 4, 2013

Give Thanks in all Things

. . . "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NIV)

Wow! You found ten dollars in an old jacket pocket?! Fantastic! But then, it’s easy to give thanks for the positive things and for the lovely people who form your friendships. You have to take a little time to search for the blessings in the pile of junk that is sometimes dumped in your path and the miserable grumps who cluster about.

The blessing for which I give thanks is for my laryngitis! Yes, the close-your-mouth-there’s-nothing-coming-out kind of laryngitis. Why have I chosen to be thankful?

I am participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in which the 268,003 novelists (so far) from around the world have accepted the challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November! Where’s the blessing in that? Since I have laryngitis: I don’t have to answer the phone; I don’t have to engage in never-ending discussions; the house is really quiet - which is very conducive for writing! So - you can easily see my blessing in the laryngitis.

What are you calling an obstacle which could be re-labeled a blessing? Find the good in your negative circumstances and dwell on that. God can bring a blessing out of anything if you choose to look at it through God’s plan for you when you are in Christ! Let us pray:

"Holy Father, Love of the world, we bow before your holy name. May your kingdom and your plan for my life fall on me this day like a new baptism. May this be the day I learn to turn challenges and regret into joys. May I learn from my mistakes, find empathy in my grief, and motivation in my disappointments. Forgive me when I hang my head and mope when my plans have been thwarted. May your plans be my plans and my circumstances be your circumstances that I may find the joy of living in you and for you. In the precious and powerful name of your son, Jesus my redeemer, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
See you at the Allen County 2013 Author Fair - Saturday, November 9 from noon to 4:00 pm!
Go to www.dorisgainesrapp.com for book signing events.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

CLAIM TO FAME

"Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

"I enjoyed your book so much; tomorrow I’m going to start reading it all over again!" I’ll admit, I feel good when others appreciate my hard work. But, sometimes I forget to give the praise back to God. It is He who inspires the painter, who gives words to the writer and voice to the composer. 

It is amazing how God lets us confirm again our beliefs and commitments by giving us many opportunities to give it all back to Him. Perhaps one day, we will be more truly like Him when we admit everything was all His in the first place.

I have a well-used phrase I share with counseling patients when they repeatedly take responsibility for other people’s rudeness. "It isn’t about you; it’s about them."

I want to learn to lift up each day in praise: "It’s not about me. It’s about Him." Because, whatever abilities I may have, they were given to me to praise and glorify the Lord God. To God be the glory! Let us pray:

"Father God, you are full of glory and only you wear glory well. All the angels in Heaven bow before your holiness. Let this be the day when I finally realize that my life is ‘all about you and not about me.’ Forgive me when I get puffed up and forget whose I am. I love you Lord, and I lift up your name in worship. May I decrease each day as you increase. In the name of your precious son and my Savior I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Go to www.dorisgainesrapp.com for book signing events.

Monday, October 21, 2013

WHAT IS YOUR SONG?

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." Matthew 7: 15-20 (NIV)

I’ve been researching for another book the last few days. What has stuck in my head is Longfellow’s The Song of Hiawatha. I learned short passages of the poem as a child. These are the few fragments I had remembered and have been floating through my mind for two days:

By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis. . . .
. . . Touch God's right hand in that darkness
And are lifted up and strengthened;--
Listen to this simple story,
To this Song of Hiawatha! Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1855

Our Lord, in Matthew 7, said we will know the people at God’s heart by their fruits. Then I read Longfellow yesterday and thought again. In order to be known as God’s people by our fruits, we must know what song we will sing. And . . . we write the lyrics with the words we say, the melodies by the deeds we do, and reveal our the passion by the love we share with others. Let us make sure that the song that is sung about us, is one that lifts the soul of the listener to God. Let us pray:

"Father God, the angels sing of your Holy message whenever they speak to us. ‘Be not afraid,’ they say. ‘I bring you glad tidings of great joy.’ Dear Lord, make of me a melody so in tune with you, others hear only your song when I speak. Forgive me when I have been rude and discordant. Fine tune my life that I may play only the good notes for you. In the name of Jesus, the great conductor I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Go to www.dorisgainesrapp.com for book signing events.
Promote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download the eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com.
Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.comIt will be available in paperback soon at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com./kjv/psalms/118.htm

Monday, October 14, 2013

I DID IT AGAIN!

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Matthew 6: 25-29 (English Standard Version)

We have moved about seventeen times. My husband is a United Methodist minister. Does the word itinerant explain anything? Usually, the night before we would move, I couldn’t sleep. I kept rearranging furniture in the new parsonage in my head. I did it again last night.

No, we’re not going to move - at least not now. We are debating "down sizing." To my husband, that means a smaller house. To me, it means no second story but the same square footage spread out over the main floor. So, we tour open-houses once in a while. That’s what we did yesterday.

The house had many features I liked. Then I spent about three hours of my sleep time knocking out walls, bumping out a master-suite and four-season room, lowering one wall to half size, relocating the laundry room, and arranging family antiques throughout the house. To me, that doesn’t qualify as anxiety. It’s more, inappropriate time devoted to obsessing. Whatever the label, I wasted valuable sleep time on a house we don’t even own. Woe is me. Or better put, silly thou art.

I thank the Lord that I wasn’t worrying about a sick child or husband, the future of my job, or if we can afford food. But, how do we turn off the stew-button or busy-switch and place our mind on God?

I’ll have to admit that I wasn’t trying to distract my thinking. I enjoyed the amateur architectural work and home design. I realized my sleep time was poorly spent when it was time to get up. Scripture tells us, He will give us perfect peace when our mind is stayed on Him. So, if our lack of sleep were actually due to worry or anxiety, the passage from Matthew printed above is our reminder of the promise of release from that which binds us.

God knows our needs. Worrying about them solves nothing. Perhaps we need to rest in God so we can have the insight and clearness of mind to allow Him to guide us. Sometimes, the Lord will direct us to a gifted physician who can prescribe anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication when the negative emotion is caused from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Whatever the need, prayer therapy can also help bring peace when we pray specifically for release from anxiety, so the Lord can answer specifically. Our prayer today, is for release from anxiety. Let us pray:

"Father God, maker of all there is, holy, holy, holy is your name. May your kingdom came and make its home in my heart, so that I might know you as the angels in heaven do. For today, Lord, I pray for release from anxiety that eats way at the person you created me to be. Forgive me when I have turned my back on others who are anxious or their heart is in need. I know they cannot do it on their own. But, you can calm their heart and rid their lives of anxiety as you are doing for me. I ask for release for them and for me so that we may better serve you. For these things I give you the glory, for only you are worthy of praise. In the name of Jesus, your son and our redeemer I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Go to www.dorisgainesrapp.com for book signing events.








































 

Monday, October 7, 2013

A TRUE SEED

My husband's uncle was reared Amish! He loved to carry his heritage into his garden to the back and side of their home.

[Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. "The owner's servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn't you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' "'An enemy did this,' he replied. "The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'"] Matthew: 24-30 (NIV)

Uncle Dan was proud of the variety and robust growth of the vegetables in his little patch. Raised in an Amish family, his engineering genius was trapped inside homemade dark blue trousers and shirt, and a large wide-brimmed black hat. As a young man, he tested out of the high school he never got to attend and enrolled in classes at nearby Notre Dame. After a few weeks, he was asked to guest-lecture in his engineering class, since he was vastly more well read in the topic than his professor. After marriage and a family came along, daily weeding and watering his fresh green sprouts connected his life in the world with his Amish roots.

It so happened that Dan also had creative nephews, both in the family and in-laws, who loved to play tricks on him. His overreacting when the spoof was detected was legend. One night, several of the more mischievous guys sneaked into his freshly turned vegetable bed and drove non-bearing corn seeds into the ground. The seeds sprouted and shot up above the ones Dan had planted himself. He was so proud! He had the tallest fresh corn stocks in the county. They grew toward the blue sky, eight feet above the earth. "I’ll bet the ears will be huge!" he bragged.

When the corn was nearing harvest, he discovered that there was not a single ear to be gathered. In retaliation, Dan "planted" political stickers from the opposing party on the back window of the rascals’ cars.

Dan couldn’t harvest corn from stalks that only looked good. They were only an empty promise of food for the family. The tall beauties were no more than garden weeds. Like the Lord’s work among us, at harvest time they were cut down and thrown into the burn pile. Let us make sure that our "face of the Christian Church" is more than a picture of the proper things to do. Let us be true seeds that bring food for our souls and for the souls of those around us. Let us pray:

"Father of the seed and the Harvest, I bow before your holy name and the name of your son, Jesus Christ. May your kingdom come to the earth in the time pleasing to you. While I wait on you, Father, take my faith and make it a true seed for your Glory, that I may provide food for the lives of others. I do not need to know whom I touch, so that I cannot brag. But, use me Lord in the lives of others, that your joy and peace may come to their heart. Forgive me when I turn inward and brag about what I have done. Only your work through me is part of the true stalk, and those seeds I surrender to you. In the name of and by the power of Jesus your son, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Go to www.dorisgainesrapp.com for book signing events.

Promote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download the eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com.
Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.comIt will be available in paperback soon at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com./kjv/psalms/118.htm

Monday, September 30, 2013

THE FOG

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12 (New American Standard Bible)

Is fog in your part of the world today? The fog settled in last evening, as a warning of the morning that was to come. The reverse of that is also true. In 1 Corinthians we read that, now we see dimly. But, when we see him face to face along the road of life, in a quiet garden, or in Glory at the time our soul returns to God, we will see him clearly and know fully the secrets of the Kingdom of which he taught while he was here. Don’t be afraid of the fog you see now. The fog is just the clouds of Heaven dipping low enough for us to see them. When we walk or drive in the fog, we watch for signposts: center line stripes, known landmarks, and tail lights up ahead.

• The center line tells us where the boundaries are, much like the Bible keeps us on the safe track.

• The trees and building are our landmarks along the way and are similar to the blessed people who are our Spiritual leaders and mentors.

• The tail light of the driver in front of us, warning us to slow down or stop before we can even see the danger, are like the testimonies and stories of the faithful who have made mistakes and then turn back to God. The challenge is to learn from another’s mistakes, because we often don’t believe it could possibly happen to us. The wise one, observes and learns from others.

Embrace the fog that the Lord God gives us, to teach us that the truth of Him is within the dense cloud. We must believe and follow the Lord into the unknown if we are to find Him and His truth. Let us pray:

"Oh Father in the fog and darkness of my life, I reach out my hand to you. You are my light in the darkness, the whisper in the shadows and the sweet aroma and perfume of your presence. Holy are you, Father and your son Jesus Christ. May this be the day that I stop avoiding the fog of life. May I run to you within the darkness . . . and find you more clearly there. In the name of Jesus, your son and my redeemer, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Go to www.dorisgainesrapp.com for book signing events.

http://www.dorisgainesrapp.com
Promote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download the eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com.
Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.comIt will be available in paperback soon at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com./kjv/psalms/118.htm

Monday, September 23, 2013

LIVE ALL OF YOUR LIFE

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 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: 37-38 NIV

Hummm, "pressed down, shaken together and running over?" That’s our house!

Yesterday, our daughter and her two tiny girls, ages three and almost two, moved into our basement apartment. I use the word apartment very loosely. The stove is not hooked up; the sink doesn’t have water run to it; and the bathroom . . . not even a blueprint plan yet. But, you do what you need to do when it is necessary to do it if you choose to live all of your life.

My husband and I choose to focus on the blessings. Story time in the late afternoon; giggling sounds floating up from below; the knowledge that the little ones have their basic needs met. Not a lot of room inside but a huge yard to play in.

There have been energetic-negative-fellowship moments, but all settles down in no time. The babes had trouble going to sleep in new surroundings last night but I pointed out all of the kids-music channels on cable our daughter didn’t know about. It will all work out. How? By the grace of God. Our daughter is willing to acknowledge that she is living in our home and not her own and is learning to respect our need for quiet time, writing time, and recharging time. She is giving so we are giving to her. We are giving so the Lord is giving to us. It’s a win-win situation when you live all of your life.

However, we will have to rethink Thanksgiving as our large open basement no longer looks large, nor open, not vacant nor available. But, it is full of love.

The secret to long life - living every moment of it - to growing up and not just growing old - adapting. What are you willing to adjust to? Let us pray:

"Holy Father of us all, your name is above all names and deserves to be spoken only in reverence. May your kingdom of Love fill our home from top to bottom, that we may learn of you and that we may teach about you by what we do and say. For this day, give us patience and love in good measure, as your Word promises. May I have the calmness of heart and mind to give as much love as I receive from you. You are amazing and full of all the love there is in the world, both now and in the future. Forgive me when I forget to call on your name when things get rocky. Your love has pulled many ships from the rocky shore. May I always remember that your plan is that I live all of my life, in every circumstance of my life. In the name of and by the power of your son, our savior, Jesus, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
http://www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Promote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download the eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com. Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.com
It will be available in paperback soon at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com

Monday, September 16, 2013

WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT TODAY?

"This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118: 24 (New American Standard Bible)

"I am so bored!" How many times have you heard that? If you have teens in your house - a lot. How can anyone be bored when there is so much to do and so much to experience?

What if this were your last day? - last day at home before moving; last day before a new job; last day before a spouse, parent, or sibling passed on to Glory; or the last day for many other turning points in our lives.

What if this were the first day of your teen years? - the first day of retirement; the first day on a new job; the first day of joy with the Lord; the first day of living free from guilt.

What if this were simply September 16 and you chose to make it special? - a tea party with a child or grandchild; a game of catch with a son or daughter; a quiet talk with your spouse; a day made special by visiting a friend.

Choose to make every day of your life a special day. Only YOU can do that for yourself. Only YOU can make you happy. Only you can truly validate your accomplishments because only you have been obedient to the Lord and fulfilled His desires for your life.

What is so special about today? Are you kidding me? To live your life in the footsteps of the Lord - isn’t just special? It’s miraculous! Now - go out and live the life God has given you. He’ll point out the guideposts along the way and you will see the God-sightings from time to time. This is a very special day! Live it like you know it is! Let us pray:

"Holy Father, Love of the world, how very precious is your name. May your kingdom come to earth and find room for even me. May your will be done in my life, that I may see your love displayed in all I do. For this day, may I catch a glimpse of Glory and see you everywhere, in the face of someone I help, in the work I do to your glory, in the eyes of someone I let help me, in my all in all. Forgive me for the days I did not see as special, when I lived for me and not for you. May I help you draw near to someone because I was willing to be the vessel of your love. On this very day, keep my eyes open to your spirit, my ears open to your word, may hands and feet open to minister to others in your name and my heart open to your love. In the name of Jesus, who showed me how thus to live, I pray. Amen"
Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

 Friday Sept. 20, 2013 7:00 p.m. - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valparaiso, Indiana.
http://www.dorisgainesrapp.com
Promote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download the eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com. Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.com

It will be available in paperback by Friday, 9/6/13 at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com./kjv/psalms/118.htm

Monday, September 9, 2013

THOSE IN THE MIDDLE GET RUN OVER

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come." Matthew 24:6 (NIV)

I’m not political and I’m not apolitical. God has given me the dubious distinction of seeing many sides to an issue. The problem is, those who stand in the middle of the road can get run over. Jesus told his distant followers, and those who still follow him over two-thousand years later, war will be with us. And, if not war, then talk of war.

We love our children and our church families with their little ones. But, we also have a heart for the wee ones in the Mideast, Africa and other places where they can be injured or touched by war. I often say, "Thank goodness that I don’t have to make the decision to go to war or not get involved." We elect strong individuals who are trained and have the experience to know how and when war is unavoidable. But, what can I do?

Rather than carrying the burden of the prospect of war with me, as a follower of the Prince of Peace, I can pray for peace. I can ask the Lord to not tarry, but to hasten the day he returns and brings his love and peace to the whole world. Are we praying three times a day for the Love of God to rain down like the gentle mist of the morning and drench the fires of hate and war from our beautiful earth? Let us pray:

"Oh Father God, Lord of all and father of the messenger of peace, forgiveness and love, we bow before you in humble adoration of your goodness. May your son, Jesus, return to us and usher in the age of love and peace, that heaven may come down and become our dwelling place. We ask this day that you bless the entire world, the Mideast, the Far-east, as well as the West, with your pure love. May we breathe in holiness and finally exhale the bitter air of strife. Holy are you, oh God, and we long to bask in the glow of your holiness. Forgive us when we forget to pray, when we know that prayer is the answer. We turn our hearts and lives over to your glory, God. Let those of us in the middle, lead the way to your peace and love through our constant and never ceasing prayer. In the name of Jesus, the Christ of the whole world, we pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Events: Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1p.m. - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI
Friday Sept. 20, 2013 7:00 p.m. - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valparaiso, Indiana.

http://www.dorisgainesrapp.comPromote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download the eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com. Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.com
 

Monday, September 2, 2013

LABOR DAY

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

Today is the day most of us rest from our labor. Some may climb a rocky mountain face; others could relax in front of a favorite football team. Whatever the activity, it is a departure from the norm, a step away from the usual, and therefor it rests the mind.

Matthew 11 tell us, when we feel burdened or weighted down, we have a Savior who will link with us and share the load evenly. It tells us we will find rest for our souls. And, it says He will not bring added problems, for His burden is light and the yoke we wear to be paired with him is easy to carry.

When college freshmen go home for Christmas break, a huge percentage of them will catch a cold, because when they relax - they relax everything - including their immune system. Let us all relax today, either on a mountain top, a golf course, or the recliner in the TV room. But, let us deliberately pause in prayer to thank the Lord God for carrying our burden with us and link our heart, mind and body to His. What a day we will have - sharing joy with the Lord! Let us pray:

"Holy Father, love divine, please restore this soul of mine. Bring heaven to my heart that I may know you as the angels do now. There is so much pain and anger around the beautiful blue world you have given us. You parted the veil to the Holy of Holies when our Lord Jesus went back to you. Now we ask that you lift the cloud of not knowing to reveal your love to the entire world, that this madness of anger and killing may stop. We love you Lord and we know that your love can conquer all the hate. Only you can calm the riots and whisper peace in the heart of everyone. Forgive us when we forget to pray for your love to mend fences and heal souls. May this day of departure from work, be a day of prayer for this world of yours. In the name of Jesus, the Christ of the whole world, we pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Events: Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI
Friday Sept. 20, 2013 7:00 pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valporaiso, Indiana.

http://www.dorisgainesrapp.comPromote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download an eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com. Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.com


It will be available in paperback by Friday, 9/6/13 at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Deliberately Do

"No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Hebrews 8: 11-12 (NIV)

Do you really believe that God can forget anything? Anything at all? The passage in Hebrews doesn’t actually say that God will forget their sins. It says, he "will remember their sins no more." It is a deliberate choice. He chooses to not remember.

Love is like that for us. When things happen in life, words are spoken, actions are taken that bring us pain, love remembers it no more.

We are not God. I think that is abundantly clear to all, well at least most, of us. God forgives. Christians are to act in forgiving ways and that requires a deliberate decision - to remember the offences no more.

No, we are not going to have brain surgery to have that portion removed where the memory is stored. We will have the physical ability to remember, but we will deliberately choose not to. We will not rehearse the sin against us, going over and over it until it is etched all the way to our soul. And, yes, we still hold the offender accountable for what they did or said. That may mean the person’s word cannot be trust for a very long time until their broken trust has been mended. We learn there are some people to whom we cannot lend money, or trust someone with a secret, or even trust them with a triumph because it will be trashed under their feet like garbage. But, we can refuse to let them hurt us further by not relieving the personal attack every day, every season of our lives.

We must deliberately do what we do not naturally do. Choose love. Let us pray:

"Father of us all, you are perfect Love and holy above anything my mind can ever grasp. May my heart lead me to you, since my mind is too logical to find the way. I ask that you so fill my life with your love that I may be able to deliberately choose to not remember the wrongs against me. Forgive me when I have used your precious gift of time on your beautiful earth to dwell on that which has harmed me, rather than dwelling on your glorious gift of life. Forgive me for not forgiving others with the same voice I plead for forgiveness for myself. You are the truth of life and that truth is love. In the name of Jesus, your son and my savior whom I follow, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Events: Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI
Friday Sept. 20, 2013 7:00 pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valporaiso, Indiana.

Promote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion. To download an eBook go to www.bn.com and www.amazon.com. Also, join the conversation at www.promoteyourself-permitsuccess.blogspot.com
It will be available in paperback by Friday, 9/6/13 at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com.

Monday, August 19, 2013

COME THROUGH THE HEDGE

"Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God." 3 John 1:5-6 (NIV)

Will you come through the hedge for another? We build hedges around us for various reasons. Just a few include: 1. to keep others out, 2. to form a safe framework, 3. to create a peaceful garden. Some people get stuck inside the hedge - trapped. Will you come through the hedge for them?

When we have been hurt, we protect ourselves from further attack by building a wall around ourselves. We don’t let that offender in again. Or, at the extreme, we don’t let anyone in. We wall off our heart to the world. We become fixed in a state of hypervigilance, to make sure no one slips through.

Hedges are also built to form a structure, a framework for us to hang our lives on. We get up at a prescribed time, with or without the alarm, and go to bed on the same timetable. Meals are on a regular schedule and work hours are rigidly maintained. These are the habits a person develops in order to be where they need to be and accomplish what needs to be accomplished. The problem occurs when they are required, or just want to do something outside the schedule, beyond the hedge.

Often, beautiful flowers are surrounded by a hedge, as in an English garden. Other times, a fence is erected to provide the same enclosure. The idea can be to identify your garden’s boundaries or to keep others out, including rabbits as in Mr. MacGregor’s garden. A stroll through the garden can be very peaceful and spiritual, as in the hymn, In the Garden. It can be a lonely place if you let no one else in. Some people find so much peace in loneliness that they become addicted to the solitude or depression. If you find someone trapped in their garden, will you come through the hedge for them?

Behind the hedge can be a mesmerizing place, a place so safe that it becomes impossible to step beyond the rim. Those stuck there may need to escape or just vacation from their inner life for a while. Be a friend in Christ. Come through the hedge. Invite them to walk beyond the boundaries of their world and experience a trust in God not felt as deeply when they are safe. Be their rescuer in Christ. Let us pray:

"Father God, Lord of all, sweet presence inside and outside the hedge, holy are you and precious to my heart. Give me eyes to see those trapped behind their safe wall that I might speak your words of soothing so they can step outside for a little while. I know you are everywhere, but some people trapped within the hedge, focus only on the safety, the rigid structure and the peace, and pay no heed to your voice that asks them to step beyond their comfort zone and follow you. Take down any wall or hedge of my own and let me see you there in the opening, that I may help others. In the name of Jesus, your son and my Christ, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Events: Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI
Friday Sept. 20, 2013 7:00 pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valporaiso, Indiana.
www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Promote Yourself - a pep talk on self-promotion will be available in eBook form by Friday, 8/23/13 at www.bn.com and www.amazon.com. In paper back book by Friday, 9/6/13 at www.dorisgainesrapp.com and www.directbuybooks.com.

Monday, August 12, 2013

THE FOUR LEAF CLOVER


"The lazy person craves, yet receives nothing, but the desires of the diligent are satisfied." Proverbs 13: 4 (International Standard Version)


Is it luck or is it a blessing? Many people look all of their lives for their "four leaf clover" - some piece of luck that will bring them riches and perhaps fame. Proverbs 13: 4 describes "the lazy person" who craves (wishes) for things, then receives nothing at all. When we work within the will of God and are diligent, we are satisfied.


While walking through the grass last Thursday, I looked down and saw/felt an anomaly, a departure from the norm in the patch of clover at my feet. I bent down and picked up this beautiful clover with four leaves. Was it luck? No, it was there all along. It was God’s blessing that allowed me to see it.

If we are unable to proceed to success, or begin an adventure, until we are lucky enough for that great windfall to come our way, we will receive nothing. And, even if we do find that clover, we may be completely stuck, forever poised with our noses to the ground in front of us, as we wait for the next strike of luck to come. But, we will never be satisfied. With every fulfilled "wish," our appetite for more luck only grows larger.

My four leaf clover was not luck; it was a blessing. If you see every gift from God that he bestows on us, we are blessed every day of our lives. If we wait to find the next clover with the beautiful leaves before we continue, we will be forever stuck on Thursday, August 8, 2013.

We may have "discovered" the next great mousetrap, but we will go no farther if we believe it was luck. Luck waits for luck to return. Faith in God receives each blessing as it comes our way. Let us pray:

"Our loving father, you shower us with your blessings every day. Holy are you and worthy of our praise. I ask that your Holy Spirit make a home in my soul that I may see each gift you give. Today, oh father, help me to put away lazy cravings and diligently seek the desires of your heart that they may become the desires of my heart. Then I will be satisfied. May I be a blessing to others as I walk through life, that I may rescue them from the evil jaws of ‘if only.’ All these things I ask in the name of Jesus, who sought only your face so that we might see your face in him, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Events: Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI

Friday Sept. 20, 2013 7:00 pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valporaiso, Indiana.

www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, August 5, 2013

THE WALL

"I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one." Ezekiel 22:30 (NIV)

"I have a rock over here that might fit in that hole," Bill called from our yard across the street.

The two hired Amish men, in their round black hats and handmade shirts and pants, came over and studied the rock. "It looks like it could have come out of that empty spot in the wall." They thanked him and carried the stone over to the beautiful fieldstone wall of St. Felix Friary, built by the Capuchin Friars in 1928.

I love to sit and watch the changing light on the rough surface of the stones. One night when I couldn’t sleep, I came downstairs to write a little on my laptop. As I neared the foot of the stairs, a thought popped into my head, "Look at the deer."

What deer? I went to the windows in the front door and waited a second. Eight graceful long-legged deer leaped and danced along the side yard from the back. They bounded into the street until they came to the wall, then they stopped. They looked at the wall, to the left and right. Finally, they walked a few yards along the wall and through the open gate, like polite visitors to a lovely meadow. Then, they leaped in rhythmic ballet form across the meadow to the small woods beyond. There is a blessing in everything if you will view it with eyes that expect to see bucks and does.

I thought about the graceful deer and the majestic wall and remembered Ezekiel 22:30. God looks for those who are willing to build up the wall and become part of it - to stand in the gap. That position of protection is not just between our family and the world, but also to intercede (pray) for those who are in danger out there, that the Lord God will bless them, keep them safe, and welcome them into His heavenly family. God has looked for wall-standers in former times and found none. Are you willing to stand in the gap on behalf of your loved ones? Let us pray:

"Father God, Lord of all and even me, holy and precious is your name. Too often I forget the power of your name and refrain from calling on you when someone is in need, or I use it frivolously. Holy, holy, holy are you. May I remember that I dwell in the light of your presence at all times. Today, may I see my place on the wall, as I lift stones of love and joy and peace into place and then stand in the gap to pray for those beyond the wall. Forgive me when I fail to see the simple pattern in the artful placement of the stones and think that my design is far better, only to have to pick up the crumbled rubble once again. May I find my place in the gap and pray unendingly, day and night. In the name of Jesus, your son and our redeeming brother I pray. Amen:

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Events: Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI
Friday Sept. 20, 2013 7:00 pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valporaiso, Indiana.

www.dorisgainesrapp.com

 

Monday, July 29, 2013

KNOW WHOSE YOU ARE

"Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that . . . person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don’t like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this." Luke 6: 22-23 (The Message)

Some might say, "Will you make these points in the meeting? You are so much better at persuasion than I am."

Some people don’t trust their own ideas or speak up for themselves. They are afraid because someone else has not validated them first. Friends, if God has given you a truth, you need no other validation, for the Lord has trusted you to carry the message—the program idea, the creative work, the invention or the manuscript—to the world around you. You need no other permission or support.

I am writing a small book, Promote Yourself, to speak to that very issue. If you know whose you are and that even the small tasks he gives you are mighty blessings in His sight, then promoting yourself and the ideas He has given you is part of the responsibility that accompanies the blessing.

"But, how do I know that the new concepts I think of come from God? What if I sell only five widgets?" If quantity is how you measure your worth, then five sales could represent a business failure. If obedience to God is your goal, then connecting five people with your invention could be the very mission He has called you to. If you know whose you are, the world’s concept of success has no validity in your life.

There is a story of an evangelist who held tent services every evening for a week. Only a handful of people occupied the wooden, stencil-backed chairs each evening. By the arrogant standards of today, the faithful servant of God was a failure. On the last evening, a very young man who had attended every service shook his hand in appreciation for the inspiration the evangelist had been to him. "Thank you pastor. My name is Billy Graham." Was the pastor a failure? He inspired the man who led thousands to the Lord God. Let us pray:

"Father God, who lives in the Holy Kingdom you have established in my heart, I bow before your sacred name. May your indwelling kingdom within me, find room for whomever I am in contact with. May I never keep count or judge those who may live in my circle of love. You keep their names in the Book of Life, releasing me from that detail. For this day, reveal your face before me so clearly that I see you when I present your ideas, when I persuade another about the art, writing or invention you have given me. If I am presenting these ideas to you as a gift, it matters not how many others accept it. Forgive me when I have been afraid to stand behind the blessings you have given me. In so doing, I am showing that I am ashamed of you. Let your love shine through me, that each blessing you give me may be a greater blessing to others. In the name of your son Jesus Christ, your son and our redeemer, I pray. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp 

Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI
TBA- Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Valporaiso, Indiana.

www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, July 22, 2013

VALUABLE FAMILY AND FRIENDS

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, . . ." Philippians 2:3 (NIV©2011)

What a wonderful time we had! I had chosen a white top with a white lace under-piece for the July weather to wear at my book signing at Barnes and Noble in The Shoppes at Beavercreek in Ohio last Saturday. I thought I looked both professional and unpretentious. It would be a great day!

My husband and I arrived early so we could check out the setting and have a bite to eat. The event was to start at 1:00 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten since 8:00 a.m. I ordered a banana muffin and a small cafĂ© mocha. Of course the coffee drink was really hot so I removed the lit to let it breathe. When I was ready to test the temperature, I replaced the lid, tipped it up and poured it right down the collar of that nice white outfit! Ah yes, that vain conceit part of our verse above came to warm me with chocolate. It seems I am invariably reduced to a level low enough for conceit to sneak in when I over-plan. I went into the restroom and doused my shirt front with cold water and down my neckline. The Lord was good to this silly woman and not much showed.

The story doesn’t stop there, however. It is the second part of the Philippians verse that had the most meaning for me—"value others above yourself." What a wonderful visit we had with family and friends who showed up for the signing! People are the true treasure. When loved ones lift up and value what you do, that is a blessing the Lord would understand.

When we lift up and value the people and work God places in our extended territory, we honor him. How could he not bless the experiences he gives us? Blessed be the name of the Lord. Let us pray:

"Father God, how very precious is your name and the names of those we love, for we know you love them more. Heaven will be full of all these saints yet we are privileged to be among them here on earth. For today, we ask that you richly bless our family members whose names you already know, and the friends that join us in your world. We also ask for the grace to love others into fellowship with you, for each soul is a part of your own heart. Forgive us when we turn away from one of your children. We may be the only believer they know, so our cause is sacred. Thank you for making yourself real to us. Let the light of your eyes shine through us that we may touch others for your sake. In the name of Jesus, your son and our savior, we pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Saturday Sept 14, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Ann Arbor, MI
www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, July 15, 2013

HALF WAY GONE - HALF WAY LEFT

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things." Philippians 4:8 (NIV © 2011)

It’s July 15. I think of this date as the half way point for summer. In past years, I have been saddened by how much of the summer I have missed. I see how busy I am and wonder why I haven’t sat out on the deck or taken more walks. I realize, I would then wonder why I hadn’t written more pages or met more wonderful people in bookstores if I had been out on the hot deck swatting flies. The summer may be half gone, but there is still half of the summer left.

We spend far too much time grieving over if only, instead of embracing what if. What if I finished Length of Days - Beyond the Valley a little later than planned and took three of our grandchildren to Chicago to visit their cousin; or have a tea party for the little grandchildren out on that deck, when the sun is low, and enjoy all the chatter and fun; or get that letter out to the friend in a nursing home and imagine a moment of joy in her life? Sure, then this summer would have been gone for good, but I would have chosen to think about what is true and lovely in the world (and do the same), rather than sit alone complaining that life is flying by too fast. A life of love will soar past, like angel wings that have taken to the sky. Live all of your life . . . not just the few moments you’re willing to give to it. Let us pray:

"Heavenly Father, Abba/Papa to our Lord and Savior Jesus, we bow before your precious name. May your kingdom of love and peace come into our lives this very moment, so that we may live in the what if of life rather than the if only. For this day, open our eyes that we may see your hand in all we do. Your miracles are all around us but we dwell on the rocks of the ground and the steps we take, rather than the beauty of the surroundings you choose to place us in. We think on the woe is me of life rather than the great are you. For this we are sorry and choose to dwell on the past no more. We know that you will give us the strength and vision to see your path, through the eyes of our Master, Jesus, your son and our redeemer. Amen"

Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp  

Saturday July 20, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, The Shoppes of Beavercreek, Beavercreek, OH

www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, July 8, 2013

BE PREPARED

"Be ready and keep ready, you and all your hosts that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them . . ." Ezekiel 38:7 (English Standard Version © 2001)

It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the military, planning a vacation, setting goals for life, or participating in the Boy Scouts, the motto is Be Prepared. This morning I took my husband, Bill, to the Emergency Room in severe pain. On a scale of 0-10, he reported 9. This from a man who once sewed his own finger back on when he nearly completely severed it with a hedge trimmer. We he needs help, he’s nearly past benefitting from the help offered. Luckily, he had a kidney stone, not a deadly illness. Not so lucky, was in acute pain and still is as I write this. But, he is home and were I can keep my eye on him.

What I learned was how ill-prepared I was. I had no phone numbers in my cell phone for members of the church he has been serving for a year. I had to call information. I had no way of reaching our oldest daughter who had left of vacation this morning. They had their cell phones off. I was able to reach our daughter in Texas and one here in Huntington and messaged our son on FB in Afghanistan. The point is, bad things happen to other people - not to us - or so I thought.

We have our spiritual heart prepared for a daily commune with the Lord, but we do not prepare our physical heart nor our relationship heart. There’s always time to put a few phone numbers in the cell phone to make sure we an contact people when illness strikes. There is always time to eat and exercise properly before the heart attack happens - that’s later, not now.

We are neither thoughtful nor prayerful when we aren’t prepare-ful. Imagine a few scenarios and see if you have a plan in place - something as simple of putting a few contacts in your cell phone. Asking friends and family to pray for a loved one, is not possible if you don’t have access to phone numbers. Be prepared for Life as will as Heaven. Let us pray:

"Holy Father, we bow before your sweet presence. We admit that we have prepared for life in Heaven and life in the Kingdom of God, be we are ill prepared for Life in your world here on earth. We cannot draw others to you if we can’t find their phone number. We ask that you give us a heart for living this life you have given us as well as preparing our soul to dwell with you. May each day be a joy because we are prepared to live it and prepared to share it with you. In the name of Jesus Christ, your son and our redeemer we pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
Friday July 12, 2013 7pm - Author Discussion & Book signing, Barnes & Noble Mishawaka, IN

Saturday July 13, 2013 2pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, Jefferson Point, Ft Wayne, IN

Saturday July 20, 2013 1pm - Book Signing at Barnes & Noble, The Shoppes of Beavercreek, Beavercreek, OH

www.dorisgainesrapp.com


 

 

Monday, July 1, 2013

YOU CAN’T FIND HAPPINESS

"But you are holy, O you that inhabit the praises of Israel." Psalm 22:3 [King James 2000 Bible (©2003)]

I have heard unhappy people rehearse these complaints over and over. You can think of others:

"When I win the lottery, then I will be happy!"

"When I retire, I’ll finally be happy."

"If my spouse would change, then I’ll be happy!"

My friends, you can’t find happiness, because it was never lost. It lives in the joy of each moment. Happiness is not in when or if. Happiness can never be a goal. It can never be captured, won, or conquered. You already have joy, but you let others and future events, real or imaginary, define you.

You cannot change anyone else: your spouse, your child, your family, your boss. You can only change yourself. Other people’s behavior does not have to dictate your happiness or change your beliefs about yourself. Joy is found within each one of your thoughts, each praise to God.

The Bible tells us, God lives in (inhabits) our praises. When we choose joy in all we do; when we praise God in our daily activities, we find joy. Rehearse a favorite Scripture verse or sing a beloved hymn or chorus . . . and dwell on that. Since happiness can never be a goal, the place to find the joy and peace of the Lord is in our praises of Him. Let us pray:

"Oh loving Father, you inhabit the praises of Israel, and by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the praises of Christians as well, I bow before your glorious presence. I am filled with awe that you actually live in the praises I offer you. Holy, holy, holy is your name and the love and grace you offer every moment of every day. My happiness lives in you as you live in my words of praise. Forgive me when I let the world tell me if I am happy or when I let acquiring the things of the world define my happiness. I know that is completely impossible, so now I admit to my fantasy-living. I welcome the realness of you in my life, every moment of every day. Happiness rides in on the melodies of the praise songs I sing to you. In the name of Jesus, your son and my savior, I pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, June 24, 2013

YOU’RE ON REPORT, MISTER!

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4 (NIV©2011)

My Internship training director said that I had a "checkered past." He was referring to the variety of careers I have had due to retooling each time we moved. In one of these squares, I taught school - and in keeping with the checkered theme, a different grade each year. My sojourn into the second grade classroom was just as delightful as the rest.

One morning, as I was beginning instruction, a man came to the door, knocked, and one of my darling little blond boys looked up and went to the door with his head down. The man stuck out his hand and the child placed an object in it about the size of a deck of cards. The ex-navy grandfather snapped, "You’re on report, mister!" It turns out that the child had been staying with his grandparents and had found a super show-and-tell. It was the man’s garage door opener.

That image popped in my mind yesterday and made me smile. Then I thought of Psalms 37:4 and the conclusions we draw from it. We (I) have presumed the meaning to be, if I love and follow the Lord God, he will give me the desires of my heart (that are his desires first.) The question occurred to me: What are the desires in my heart? What if my desires were self-deceiving and self-serving, that place my goals ahead of God’s plan but I had convinced myself I was serving him? Will the Lord put me on report?

Many of us rehearse the phrase in Psalm 37:4 that falls after the coma. We feel entitled to our own desires and are convinced, if we call on God, he will grant us our wishes. God sounds more like a genie than the Lord God Almighty. First, we need to delight in the Lord: surrender to him, know him, learn of him, fellowship with him, let our lives be filled with him. Then . . . with a heart full of God, he will give us those desires that dwell in our spirit-filled heart. Let us pray:

"Lord and Father God, I come to worship and praise you. I take my joy and delight in you. Fill me with your holy spirit so that my desires are your desires and my heart is filled with you. Forgive me when I deceive myself into believing that you follow me, blessing me as I carry out the plans I have created, rather than the truth of discipleship: it is the servant who follows the master. May your desires be my desires and your joy my joy. In the name of Jesus Christ, your son and my redeemer, I pray. Amen"
Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

www.dorisgainesrapp.com

Monday, June 17, 2013

IN MY NEST AND IN MY NEXT

"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29 (NIV©2011)

It is evening, rather than Monday morning. I attended a continuing education seminar for psychologist today and I wondered how many of us attend C.E. events for parents and grandparents. Oh, I know many of us have had classes on how to diaper a newborn and how not to drown them in their first bath.

Then it occurred to me that some of us may not refresh our Christian education beyond our introduction to Christ any more than our parenting skills. I can’t imagine parenting a child without a knowledge of how children grow in body, mind and spirit. And, I find it hard to see how a person can grow in the Lord when they aren’t fed. In Escape from the Belfry, Adam hid rather than reveal his lack of knowledge and understanding of Christ. Do we do the same?

I wonder if the well nourished in Christ, sit in their comfortable nest like a baby bird, with their mouth wide open. Or, do we mature in the Way of the Lord and forage for every kernel of faith-corn that we can find? God will feed us. So . . . we can be infants in the Lord and wait for food, or, we can be disciples in the Lord and receive ALL he has to offer, both in our nest and in our next. Next steps we take in God’s kingdom to glean as much food as our minds and souls can hold. Let us pray:

"Father God, we want whatever relationship with you that you desire. If I am only ready for baby bird feed, I thank you Blessed Lord for feeding me. If I am ready for the meat at your table, I gladly receive it and will work in your fields to bring food to others. Forgive me when I have been lazy and childish and have waited for you to serve me, rather than I who would wait on you. I want to take up your son’s yoke, walk beside Him, and learn all He has to teach me. May I lovingly walk beside others and show them the way to your house. In the name of Jesus, your son, I pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp

Saturday, June 15, 2013

3 G Dads

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him." John 14:6-7 (NIV©2011)

Dads are one of the two most important people in our lives and they come in as many types as there are fathers. Today, I posted on the kids and teens prayer therapy blog, www.inmyprayerchair.blogspot.com, that dads come in Triple G: Great, Gone, and sometimes Groaners. Like Adam, in Escape from the Belfry, many cannot be near enough to their father to truly know him, but he is still Dad.

The dad who matters for eternity, is the Father Jesus spoke of in John 14. Many religions speak of God and their belief in him and reverence for him. Christians speak of him as Father, even ABBA=Daddy. Father-God not only created the all-and-all, he created a spot within us and fills our lives with his spirit as we walk with him. He is a loving, forgiving, grace-filled daddy who wishes to give us everything and an eternal life too. Is everything enough? We have a dad who is the all-mighty Lord. Wow! Let us pray:

"Father God, Daddy-Abba, I bow before you as your claimed-child. May I walk beside you every step of my earthly journey. The way, the path you have blessed me with, is more amazing than anything I could have created for myself. You spread miracles along my path like rose pedals from an abundant garden. Forgive me when I have chosen the stones I have valued and left the flowers and diamonds in the dust. May I also be a guide so someone else may find their way. In the name of Jesus, your son and our personal savior who opened the door to our father, I pray. Amen"

Doris

"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp
 

Monday, June 10, 2013

IT'S THE BOW NOT THE POT

The Lord God blesses us with so much that it overflows our open hands and fills our shoes. Yet we ... I ... take the attitude, "But what have you done for me today, Lord?" Max Lucado has written in answer to that question, "Isn't it enough that he has given us eternal life?"

As I write this post, we are half way home from Houston, Texas where we celebrated and attended our grandson's H.S. graduation; we had many days with a daughter and son-in-law we haven't seen in a year; we saw our granddaughter and her fiancĂ© whom we haven't seen in twelve months; we visited with our other granddaughter and met her new boyfriend who got my vote because he treats her like a princess; got to spend quality time with another daughter and son-in-law who live about four streets over from our house at home but we are both too busy to spend as much time together as we did at Luke's graduation; had a book signing of Escape from the Belfry at Barnes and Noble in Houston; worshiped with our family in a wonderful Bible-preaching church; spent ten days with my fantastic husband Bill; got good news about our son's situation; missed an Indiana grandson's graduation while gone and the fellowship of family at his party, but Tanner is a young man with a good heart and said, "That's okay, Grandma." And, the Lord has given us traveling mercies and the last hotel room available when we stopped a half hour ago. We are blessed.

Did we win the lottery? No - we don't play. Did I sell five-thousand books at the books signing? No - but neither do best-selling authors. Did I lose five pounds while in Texas? No - I probably brought back five pounds of Texas with me. But these are not God-sightings. The blessings of the Lord God come in family packages all tied up with love - loose enough to let every member fly like the eagles they are and tight enough so all feel safe; and, a friendly bookstore Community Resource Manager like Nathaniel, who booked my signing and opened the door for other stores to follow.

If we are always looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, we will miss the amazing colors of God's painted promise across the sky. The bow is the miracle, not the pot. Let us pray:

"Heavenly Father God, my own Abba - Daddy, I come before you just six days before Father's Day, praising you and loving your loving. Holy is your name and the name of your son, Jesus. For this day, I choose to lift up praises and thanksgiving for all you have given me, every miracle that sparkles around me like a path of diamonds. Forgive me when I ignore the jewels and seek comfortable paving bricks. I pray that I may be a blessing to someone around me, another traveler on the road home. Give me the courage, energy and discernment to see those who need a word of hope and a message of your love. In the name of Jesus Christ, your son, I pray. Amen"
Doris
"God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine."
Copyright 2013 Doris Gaines Rapp