The Wind Blows Where it Pleases

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Sunday past, Pastor Dave taught us from John 3. Millions of people are familiar with what is probably the most famous verse in the bible, John 3: 16. But, it was the 8th verse in that chapter that caught my mind.

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When I was in college, about 200 years ago, I choreographed a dance for the annual Concert of Dance, using this verse as my inspiration. Later, I realized, I really did not know what that verse was talking about. It made a lovely piece. Lynne, Paulie, and Pam were strapped to elastic cords on which were strung a LOT of clear drinking straws. The piece had no music. The straws made interesting, ethereal, shushing sounds as they moved around the stage.

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(taken when you actually had to remove the film from the camera and take it to the drugstore to be developed)

Seeing that this verse and I have a long-standing history, I wanted to be sure I understood it and then not forget it. I borrowed my own straw idea and made a quick wind chime. Right now, it is hanging in the hallway. When windows are open, the hallway gets a nice breeze. I can also bump it with my hand when I walk past it. The straws make a soft noise, and bring the Holy Spirit, and the ways He works within me, to mind.

Dave reminded us that often in scripture, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the wind or a breath. He described what is being taught us in the verse: The wind blows as it pleases, there is nothing we can do to change it or control it. So is the will of God. Salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit is His idea, not ours. Salvation and forgiveness of sin is His sovereign act.

We can see the result of the wind, whether it is a soft breeze or a tornado. People can see the result of the Holy Spirit in us, as well. We cannot control the Holy Spirit, but we. and others, can see and feel the effects of being born of the Spirit.

Salvation and the Holy Spirit are gifts of God’s choosing, given to us for no other reason that that. Amen!

To make a straw wind chime like mine, follow along. You could opt to hang anything to  make your chime: pieces from an old broken wind chime, silverware, keys, who knows… Check Pinterest for ideas! I only chose straws because……

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I used plastic straws, the inner ring of a 4″ embroidery hoop (you might have something cooler in the junk drawer or the garage to use), and black crochet thread (which is string). I also needed some black paint and a brush, scissors and a darning needle. It is possible you could find most of this at home already and the rest at the dollar store.

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Paint the hoop. Let it dry.

I used a 2 yard piece of thread on my needle. String a straw on the needle, up near the top of the straw. Wrap the thread around the hoop twice.  Repeat with as many straws as you want. 2 yards of thread got me halfway around. I tied off the end and started another 2 yards.

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To hang it up, I knotted three pieces of thread to the hoop, held them together to form a loop and hung it from the loop. This can go outside later when the weather is nicer.

Walk in obedience to all He commands, Jeremiah 7:23.

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When God Calls

In my Tuesday morning bible study, we have been studying the book of Acts. The thing that has spoken most to me, so far, was in chapter 9; Paul’s conversion. It is an amazing and interesting story that I have read a zillion times. But, funny, something completely different popped out while reading it this time.

God called Saul to disciple non Jews. But in Saul’s case (and every one of ours), when God called, He gave Saul everything he needed to accomplish his mission. He did not make it a walk in the park, but He did make it work.

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In my journaling bible, I highlighted all the things God gave Saul to get his work done. This was the very last thing Saul would have thought would happen to him and it was going to be hard! He could not have done it without God’s help:

  • Clarity. When God called Saul, He made it clear that it was Him calling and what He wanted Saul to do next.
  • People to help. While he was blind, his men got him to Damascus. Judas took him in and gave him a place to stay. Ananias encouraged and baptized him. His new disciples saved his life twice by getting him out of town.
  • The Holy Spirit!
  • Strength.
  • Barnabas. He introduced Saul to the apostles and told them Saul’s story.
  • A Brotherhood. The apostles let Saul hang out with them. Imagine what that did to his street cred.
  • Boldness. He spoke boldly with the knowledge and the back up he had gained.

Acts 9: 3-30

As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.”  And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem;  and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.”  But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;  for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.”  So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized;  and he took food and was strengthened.

Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”  All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

When many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket.

When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. And he was talking and arguing with the Hellenistic Jews; but they were attempting to put him to death. But when the brethren learned of it, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

Why did this stand out so strongly to me? Recently God has been calling me out of my comfort zone. Even though I am not so confident in what He has called me to do, I manage to accomplish it with the help of God who assigned me. He gives me what I need. From now on, I think I will be more aware and more thankful for what He gives me to get the job done when He calls.

Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take, Proverbs 3:6 (NLT)

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Encouraging Words

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I am working on a book for my cousin Bird. She is undergoing treatments for cancer. The second time. She has the best, most positive attitude about it, and she puts her trust in God. Or…because she puts her trust in God. I want her to know that I am praying for her, and how I am praying for her. Hopefully, these pages will help her to remember that God will never leave her, and she is not going through it alone.

Please print out any of these pages if you need them for similar use. And if you have a moment, please say a prayer for Bird? She and I will be grateful.

Be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere, Ephesians 6:18

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Praying Colossians 1

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Currently, I am doing a bible study on Acts. Before each lesson, we are encouraged to pray through Colossians 1: 9-12. So far, the study has been about the Holy Spirit. This comes at a time in my life when there is every possibility of great change, and I am relying on the Holy Spirit for many things. This scripture makes a meaningful prayer to me each time I sit to study God’s word, as well as each time I face a decision about my changing life.

This has been journaled in my Bible, and I turned it into a coloring page for you. It is narrow enough to slip into your bible as a bookmark, to add it to your own journaling bible. You can tack it to your bulletin board, or wherever. Let me know if you have a creative purpose for it.

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Print this on cardstock or watercolor paper any size you desire, and color it in. Enjoy! I pray you will find great use and meaning in it, as I am.

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Ephesians 6:18

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But If Not

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Last week, I read a short except written by Margaret Feinberg from her new book Fight Back With Joy. She told a brief story referencing a couple verses in Daniel, and it made an impression on me.

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faced with a decision: would they obey the Babylonian king and the law to bow down to his golden idol, or would they be thrown into the furnace as punishment for breaking the law? Their beliefs were strong.
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The important words there are “But if not”. The three boys were telling the king that their God could pluck them right out of the fiery furnace, but if He chose not to do that, they would still not worship another god.
Their belief in God was absolute. They had no doubt that their God could save them from the furnace, and if that did not happen, they did not care, they still believed that God was Almighty.
Sometimes I need a reminder of God’s absolute might. I know it, of course, but there are times when I put myself in charge. Yeah. I’m not really in charge, and life is a lot easier if I remember that God can pluck me right out of the fiery furnace. I sure can’t do that myself.
So, here is my visual reminder. It started as a scrap of wood and now tells the story of the unwavering faith of Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego.
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To make one, you need:

  • a piece of wood: mine is 4″ x 7″ and thick enough to stand on its own. You can use any scrap of wood, unfinished or already painted. You could easily do it on any surface: paper, terra cotta, tin, etc. The pattern is easy to adapt.

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  • acrylic paints, 5 colors of your choice, these are mine:

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  • a medium flat paintbrush, a liner brush
  • a black permanent marker (optional)
  • pencil with an unused eraser
  • hair dryer (optional)
  • palette or paper plate, water container
  • ruler

Here is what you do:

1. Paint the front and sides of the block white. Let it dry, or use your hair dryer to hurry the drying. Hold it no closer to the surface than about 10″ for best results.

2. Paint the sides of the block one of your colors. Let dry. Paint the back of the block another color. Let everything dry.

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3. Measure and draw an outside border of about 1″. Make your pencil marks light. Measure and mark a 1/4″ border inside the 1″ border.

4. Paint the inside rectangle and the outside border in colors of your choice. Let dry.

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5. Squeeze a little paint out onto the palette. Dip the pencil eraser into the paint and print on the outer border. Continue until it is polka dotted.

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6. Make black and white checks on the 1/4″ border. If it is easier to use a marker for this, use your permanent marker instead of your liner brush.

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7. Using either the liner brush or the black marker, print or write in the center: but if not. You can freehand this or print it on your computer/printer, transfer it and paint it.

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8. On the back side, using your marker, write Daniel 3: 17-18.

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Every time you look at your piece of art, you will be reminded that if God does not save you from the scary furnace, you know that it is not because He can’t. It is because He has a better plan. You believe that.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 (NLT)

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Bible Journaling: Walking with God

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I worked on this page in my bible last night while watching a video in my bible study class. We were talking about walking with the Lord.

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I did a word study on “walk” to find out in the original Hebrew it has a much broader meaning than putting one foot in front of the other. Halak (hawlak) means to go…continually….be conversant…follow…grow.

Walking with God is a constant process, not something we do only when life is sunny. We should walk with our Lord when we are mad, sad, glad, and everything in between.When you are hurting, frustrated, exhausted…don’t stop walking with God. He will be there with you.

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This is done with plain old colored pencils and a micron pen. It is located at Psalm 116:9.

Put on your cute rain boots, grab an umbrella, and take a walk with the Lord.

Give all your worries and cares to God, (1 Peter 5:7 NLT)  

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