Monthly Archives: August 2011

Waiting for Hurricane Irene


There’s a strange, ominous kind of feeling in the air today – though hurricane Irene is several days away from New England as I write this blog and sun dominates the landscape here in New Hampshire.

Most folks here have one eye on the weather reports and the other on precautionary storm preparations. Many are purchasing generators, flashlights and batteries, oil for oil lamps, bottled water and extra shelf food, and are filling their gas tanks.  Most people are securing their houses – especially those living closer to the coast – boarding up windows and glass doors, sand-bagging, putting away yard objects that could become damaging missiles in the expected fierce winds.

New York City and Philadelphia are closing down their public transport systems – the subways and elevated trains – and their tunnels, due to expected flooding and high winds. Lower Manhattan is being evacuated and hospital patients are being sent off by ambulance and helicopters to other hospitals located on higher, safer ground.

It’s actually sort of scary/exciting to think about this major storm moving up the east coast – sort of like those ghost stories we used to tell as children. Only this “ghost” is real – just how real, we will find out in about 24 hours in mid-New Hampshire; for this invisible menace will have very visible results.

Some, who have never gone through such a storm as Irene is predicted to be, will do nothing to prepare for her coming. Some will stay to face the storm and will  need to be rescued by others who will risk their lives in those rescues.  And some will die.

There is another storm coming – not just to the US, but to the whole world. It will be a devastating storm as predicted in Scripture – a battle to-the-end between good and evil – between God and the enemy of the souls of mankind.

Yes, I know, this battle has been going on since before the beginning of time when Satan was ejected from God’s throne room and cast out of heaven. But we have only seen skirmishes so far.

This enemy’s ugly face was revealed in space/time when Adam and Eve fell victim to the divisive, destructive plans of evil-personified, in a beautiful disguise, in the Garden of Eden – the very place which God had designed for man’s safe dwelling place on earth.

The battle for dominion of the earth and all its inhabitants has continued through the centuries since the Garden encounter.

But what we have seen so far is nothing compared to the storm that is out ahead, nor the climax of the face-off between King Jesus and his armies and the forces of the Anti-Christ.

Many who have been fore-warned of the end times have already made preparations for such an encounter, should they be alive at that time. Others will be totally surprised and overwhelmed by the flood waters of destruction left in the wake of that storm.

I’m not one of those “kooks” who attempts to set a date for the end of life on earth as we know it.  But there are warnings all around us, and if we could view things from heaven’s radar screen we would be moved to action.

First we would make sure of our own relationship with our Father God. Have we made peace with Him through the provision He has made in sending His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins? Have we confessed to Him our sinfulness and received the cleansing that His Holy Spirit brings when He is given access to our spirit, mind and body?

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Second, we would check our power source: are we living on the power supply of God’s indwelling Spirit? His energy generator – His source of light in dark times, His warmth when facing cold winds that blow around us, His shelter from howling storms?

2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.

Next, we would clean up our “yard”. We would  make sure we have we put away things from our former way of life that could become flying missiles to harm us or others in stormy times – sins, habits, selfish attitudes, knee-jerk reactions, anger, bitterness. Have we dealt with destructive words: profanity, critical barbs, sensuous talk, words that create doubt, fear, distrust; words that destroy self-worth or faith in God?

Col. 3:5-10 Put to death therefore whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now, you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

I like to think of using the word of God – various Scriptures – to “tape up the windows of my spirit” so that fierce winds of doubt, fear and anxiety don’t shatter my walk of faith in the God who loves us.

Prov. 6:20-23 My son, keep your father’s commands [words] . . . Bind them upon your heart forever; fasten them around your neck. When you walk, they will guide you; when you sleep, they will watch over you; when you awake, they will speak to you.

So, are you ready for Irene? And are you ready for the final great storm?

©2011, Marcy Alves

Advertisements

Dealing with Fear


What are you afraid of?  How do you handle fear? It you didn’t have enough of your own worrying-issues to deal with, there are plenty troubling things going on around the world and here in the U.S.

The past week’s headline news paints a disturbing picture:

  • Fires and looting in London creating fear and mayhem
  • Iran (sworn enemy of the US and Israel) developing a nuclear bomb
  • Thirty soldiers killed in a helicopter shoot-down
  • Shock waves from a roller-coaster stock market (is a tsunamis coming?)
  • A drop in financial “ratings” for US, France, Germany and others
  • Continuing starvation in Somalia
  • Massive joblessness in the US
  • Tight-fistedness in the banking industry in spite of government bailout
  • Gridlock in the US Congress regarding debt ceiling and budget balancing
  • US foreclosure prediction, 1 in 3 homes by 2012
  • Massive flooding, then drought across our nation’s south and mid-west
  • Predictions of permanent deserts ahead in current U.S. drought areas

The fear network is alive and well on planet earth. And the enemy of our souls would like to keep us in a constant state of panic and anxiety, to drive us away from the shelter of our Heavenly Father’s arms, to damage our faith-walk with God, to destroy our peace.

While we can’t ignore the catastrophic events in the US and around the world, we have many encouraging words from a higher authority when it comes to dealing with fear.

49 times in the Old Testament and 17  in the New Testament we are told not to fear.

 Is. 41:10  So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

There are things about fear that we learn from Scripture:

Fear is not from God

2 Tim. 1:7 for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;

We are not to fear as the world does

1 Peter 3:14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.

Love combats fear

1 John. 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.

A significant passage in Mark reveals a scene in which Jesus and the disciples are facing a serious storm on the lake:

Mark 4:35-41:  As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water.

38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”

39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

After Jesus spoke to the wind, he spoke to his disciples: vs. 40 “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

What is Jesus saying?

Faith and Fear are mutually exclusive.   So, how do we go from fear to faith? Here are five steps that I have found are successful combatants to fear:

1.  Pray about it

 Phil. 4:6-7. 6 Do not be anxious [fearful] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Most of us have yet to discover the power of believing prayer. ABC news a few nights ago shared the story of a young boy attending a beach party with his church who was swept out on a rip tide and could not get back to shore. He was underwater for 15 minutes before divers located him and brought him in to shore. He showed no vital signs. However, the moment he got in trouble with the waves, church members had dropped to their knees and began to pray.  The boy was resuscitated and put on life support; he gained consciousness a short time later with no apparent permanent damage.

2.  Turn your fearful thoughts over to Christ and rebuke fear.

 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Fear is defined in 2 Timothy 1:7 as a spirit. Admit to God that you are up against fear, and in the authority of the Holy Spirit, rebuke that fear. Then ask the Lord to remove those thoughts that gave fear an in-road into your mind and emotions.

3.  Change mental subjects – think about good things

Phil. 4:8-9   8 Finally, brothers, 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. 9 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.

When we were kids we used to sit out on our porch in the dark of a summer night and tell ghost stories – the scarier the better. But walking alone to the outhouse in the dark after such sessions was terrifying; something fearful lurked in every shadow. We had set ourselves up for fear to take over our thoughts. I did not know as a child how to combat fear with faith.

4.  Get God’s word in you and believe it – memorize Scriptures that counteract fear and speak them out.

 5.  Rely on the character of your heavenly Father. And remember:

  • God is good
  • God is love
  • God loves you
  • There is nothing too big for Him to handle
  • He is the One who says, “Fear not for I am with you. . .”

So, how do you handle fear? Which of the five actions above do you most need to apply?

Imagination: Poetic Advice


My last blog was about imagination and creativity; how we have all been endowed with imagination, and if we would only allow it to surface, any one of us could be creative. In fact, we were meant to be creative because we were created in the image of God, the Creator of the universe, the Designer of us.

Some may think that creativity only shows itself in the arts or in scientific discovery or feats of engineering. However, creativity can and needs to be a part of our daily lives.

I find myself constantly challenged to use creativity in preparing meals. For instance, I pull out a recipe and don’t have half of the ingredients. No problem. I just substitute other ingredients. Often I actually create a new recipe.

My husband’s only complaint, if he likes the dish that was created by substitution, is that I might not be able to re-create it.  That’s because I use what’s on hand as substitute ingredients, and don’t usually write the revised recipes down.

I also use creative imagination in other areas:  when my husband reads one of my blogs he’ll sometimes say, “Honey, that word you used is not a real word.” And I’ll reply, “It is now.”

We all have an imagination, we just have to learn how to sit back and give it free reign. We must sometimes de-clutter our lives so that imagination has space to thrive.

In my last blog I referred my readers to a website where they could listen to a song called “Imagination,” from our children’s musical, Real Things. I’d like to include the lyrics to that song in this blog. I hope you will take the advice from that song and encourage your kids to do the same. Set your imagination free to be a really creative you.

IMAGINATION

Chorus 1

Think a thing. See a thing. Do a thing;

Something that you’ve never done before.

 Think a thing. See a thing. Be a thing;

Anything you want to be and more.

 Verse 1

Seeing things no one has ever seen,

Doing things no one has ever done,

Being something no one’s ever been before,

You can never lose,

You can only win,

With imagination.

 Chorus 2

Think a thing. See a thing. Do a thing.

Something no one’s ever done before.

 Think a thing. See a thing. Be a thing;

Anything you want to be a more.

 Verse 2

Made in God’s own image you can see

Far beyond the space we call today.

What a gift He’s opened up for you and me!

Paint a work of art,

Write a symphony,

With imagination.

*Bridge

Imagination is from God.

Use it for good and not for bad.

So much is true and pure and lovely,

Let your thinking grow and before you know

You’ll be feeling glad.

 Chorus 3

Think a thing. See a thing. Do a thing;

Something no one’s ever done before.

 Think a thing. See a thing. Be a thing.

Anything you want to be and more.

 Verse 3

Made in God’s own image you can see

Far beyond the space we call today.

What a gift He’s opened up for you and me!

Paint a work of art

Write a symphony

With imagination!

 You can never lose

You can only win

With imagination – it’s His creation

Imagination – it’s His creation.

*Lyrics to bridge: Bob Kauflin

 ©2011, Marcy Alves

Imagination and Creation


What would you do with a piece of board (barn wood, plywood, etc.),  a piece of wire,  a pine cone, some small scraps of cloth, clean kitty litter, assorted pieces of tree bark, and nail polish?

You might say, “Well, if I saw those items lying around, I’d probably leave the pine cone where I found it, the piece of wire on my workbench, the kitty litter in the bag until I need it for my cat box.

I have a friend named Cheryl who has the ability to use the handful of objects listed in the opening paragraph, plus many other scraps and discarded articles, to produce creative 3-dimensional “pictures”, (such as the one pictured in this blog) many of which serve a useful purpose –  as cup holders, paper towel holders or key racks.

What makes the difference in seeing something as “scrap” or a component of art?  You might respond that it’s an artistic eye. But I believe it’s something called “imagination” and its part of God’s original creation of man.

Gen.1:27 says:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Before God created, He first envisioned the things He would create. Before He spoke, “Let there be lights in the heavens”, He first saw lights in His mind – the sun, the moon and the stars.

You might respond. “That’s what artists do. They first envision and then they create. While the rest of us without artistic ability are simply there to enjoy what others create.”

But is that really the way it was meant to be?

What does that mean that we were created, “in His image?”

I believe that part of the “image of God” is the ability to create. And the tool for creating is a word derived from the word “image” – that tool is imagination. (Which leads me to recommend a song by that title, Imagination, from a children’s musical that David and I wrote. See links at the end of this post.)

God imaged things, then He spoke them into being; they were in His mind, then they came into existence. And we can do the same with our imaginations.

I don’t mean we can speak them into existence; for us it takes sweat and toil. But we can create what we imagine.

All the arts: music, painting, dance and theater come from the imagination. Poetry and prose, writing that tells a story or promotes a belief, a dream, or a philosophy also spring forth from the imagination.

It was imagination that led to the development of airplanes, spaceships, satellites, electricity and computers. Imagination also produced clothespins, paintbrushes and mousetraps.

So why do many people seem to lack imagination?

Many of our imaginations are surrendered to other people’s creations and manipulations. Through television, computer on-line activities, cell phone texting, game boys, and other time robbers – we are entertained, talked, or “visioned” to the death of our own ability to imagine. Often, our imaginations are led off into things that are harmful to mind and spirit and therefore fruitless: life-destroying, not life-giving.

Creative imagination functions best in a time of rest or repose. Times when our minds are at ease. Most of us hurry through the expectations and obligations of our lives and never experience wakeful rest. Some of us don’t even rest while asleep.

I have taught children’s church and junior high groups for years and find a great lack of ability to access imagination – to be creative. Unless things change, these kids will grow up to lack creativity and inventiveness.

We all need to learn to slow down, to let go of some of our frantic activities, to actually sit and think. And to encourage our children to do the same. We need to free up our schedules so that there is time to relax – a time to allow the “image of God” to come forth as we spend time with Him, out in His creation – without TVs or cell phones or game boys.

How are you using your God-given imagination? And how has that led to creativity that reflects the image of God – creativity that blesses or benefits those around you? Share your thoughts with me.

Real Things, available as MP3

Real Things, available on CD format

©2011, Marcy Alves

%d bloggers like this: