Eagles, Love, and Destruction

Eagles, Love, and Destruction

Recently I’ve been fascinated watching the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam live stream of little, well not so little anymore, E9. It was amazing watching the eagle parents care for the egg. Think about how fragile an egg is… The mom and dad would come and chomp down with their huge beak on the nest material next to the egg to keep the nest aerated, they would gently move the egg around, and would sit on it with their huge talons on either side of the tiny egg.

There were two eggs in the nest and they cared for both of them equally, but one of them never hatched. For a long time, long after any hope of the second egg hatching, the parents protected and sat on that egg. Eventually the egg was buried in the nest as the Eagles seemed to realize hope was gone for a second eaglet.

When E9, they don’t call them human names so as not to personalize them too much – I don’t think it works…, anyways, when E9 hatched he was this tiny little fluff. His parent would come to the nest with a fish, tear off bites and gently feed their baby. It was again, amazing to watch, huge talons, huge beaks, gently caring for their young one. They would sit over E9, large talons on each side of the baby and keep him warm and protected.

The moderators on the site explain a lot of Eagle behavior to the viewers through a chat. As the viewers worried about E9 not getting enough food, they would explain that hunting was hard work and sometimes food isn’t readily available. As E9 started to grow and move around the nest, the viewer worried about E9 falling out of the nest, they worried about what if something happens to the dad, and the moderators were there to teach them about Eagles.

Through watching and learning they grew to care for and love little E9 and his Mom and Dad.

Creation… Amazing Creation…

BirdAnd God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”  So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. Genesis 1:20-23

Fall and Destruction…

When I watch little E9 and his parents caring for him, my mind sometimes goes to the cynical side. I think about child abuse, parent’s hurting those they should nurture and protect. I think about our disregard for God’s creation, our wanton killing of things that ‘bother us’ like the cyanide bombs placed around by the wildlife services to destroy ‘nuisance’ creatures. And I tend to get bitter and angry, then I think of Romans:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:18-25 

And Isaiah:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Isaiah 11:6-9

Hope, Glorious Hope…

Ours is a future of Hope. God, our Creator came and walked among us. He created a beautiful world full of beauty and love, but it is fallen, death has become a way of life, and our hearts yearn for Christ’s return. We yearn for love and peace to prevail. We wait, but we don’t wait in vain.

Advent Week 4 – Angels

Angels were sent to announce the birth of Jesus…

This past week my husband received an announcement – his boss phoned with the message he had been dreading would come.  The company decided to change directions and would no longer need him or his two friends.  All 3 of them received the news, and it was crushing, but they had been expecting it – the signs were there and they read them right.

I try to move on, as if all is ok, but a part of me wants to panic and be afraid of what tomorrow will bring, a part of me wants to cry and wants stability.  So many stressors… so many losses… so much pain and hurt… my mom – lung cancer, my mother-in-law – lung cancer, my brother-in-law – lung cancer and now my stepmom, who is really not step, – lung cancer.  Sometimes I can’t handle it and just want to break down, sometimes I cry, but you know what’s odd? Sometimes I sing and dance, sometimes I skip and laugh, sometimes I just have to throw my hands up in the air and praise God.  Sometimes the praise comes with tears, sometimes with a joy that I can’t even explain.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17-19 ESV

Advent Week 4 is about Angels – God’s messengers.  They didn’t come with bad news; they came with good news – the Gospel.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!” Luke 2:8-14 ESV

Think about how amazing that must have been!  I think I get a glimpse of that in praise.  Sometimes, when I’m praising God, it’s like I can hear the Angels singing, rejoicing, praising God right alongside of me.  That might sound weird, but at times, it’s more real to me than the struggles I’m going through, it’s more real to me than anything around me and at those times, I know everything will be OK.

You know, God promised it will… He promises that all things work for good for those who love Him and I do, I do love Him and I believe that He loves me.  I know that for a little while we suffer…

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen Him, you love Him. Though you do not now see Him, you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9 ESV

But I know the One who allows me to cast all my anxieties on Him, the One who loves me and gives me peace that I do not understand, the One that holds my life, my future, my eternity in His hand.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV

When I first became a Christian, I would reach over and hold the hand of Jesus, He was there, just as real as anyone in flesh and blood, but much more trustworthy.  There was a time I worried that He’d let go of me – I knew I would let go of Him, but you know, He showed me He would never, never let go of my hand and He hasn’t. 

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the here and now and forget our battle is with the Spiritual forces, and forget there is a realm beyond what we see, but Angels have come, they have proclaimed the great news, they have revealed truth to us, they have revealed the Gospel to us.  And you know what, God came and walked among us, Jesus was born, Shepherds did hear the Angels and rejoiced and we, even though we do not see Him as those who walked with Him do, we know Him and know He loves us.

As for me I wouldn’t trade that for anything and am so very thankful for the gift of Hope that God gave me so many years ago that has sustained me through many ups and downs.

Today may seem unsure, but I know my future is secure and I know why I celebrate Christmas!

Tami

Luke 2:10-11 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

Where my Hope Comes From

Sometimes it’s good to get back to the basics of what I believe and remind myself of who and whose I am.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

There is a song that we used to sing at a church I went to when I lived in Tallahassee, FL.  The lyrics were based on Isaiah 43 – ‘Yahweh You have created me, You have called me by name and I am yours.’  What an amazing comfort it is to know and believe that God has called me by name and I am His.  Another line says something like ‘though I walk through the fire I will not be scorched or burned for God is with me…’

During my time in Tallahassee, I went through some dark days, my world seemed to be crashing around me.  During that time, I had a dream and in the dream I was seeking help, turning to different people, friends, counselors, pastors for help but everyone was too busy – and then a voice in my dream said to me, “Tami, even if you lose everything and everyone, I will never ever leave you.”

Where does my hope come from?  From God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore. ~ Psalm 121 ESV

He knows me, all my faults and weaknesses, but He has called me by name. He has called me His child, and He has promised to never abandon or forsake me.  One day I will sit on His lap and He will wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more mourning.  In my heart of hearts, I can cry Abba Father and know I am loved.

Sometimes… a lot of times… I forget this.  I get caught up in the trials of day to day living, I get caught up in my fears, I get caught up in my failures, but when I remember, when I remind myself, that my Father, God Almighty, the Creator of Heave and Earth, has called me by name and I am His, I know peace, deep, deep peace.

When I remind myself what I believe…

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” ~ John 10:28-30 ESV

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~ Galatians 4:4-7 ESV

“Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
You tell me that you’re pleased and that I’m never alone
You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, It’s who you are, It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am
I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching for answers only you provide
Because you know just what we need before we say a word
You’re a Good, Good Father It’s who you are, It’s who you are, It’s who you are
and I’m loved by you It’s who I am, It’s who I am, It’s who I am”
Good Good Father by Housefires

Apostles Creed

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

MomThe other day when I was talking to my sister she said something about how it seems bad things happen at holiday times. We were talking about my mom. She has lung cancer which has spread and eaten through her hip bone. We really don’t know how much longer she has here with us.

Sometimes it’s hard to get into the mood to celebrate, when your heart is aching, watching a loved one suffering.

I remember when my dad died, it was at Christmas time. I was in NC, he was in FL. I’m a big tradition person and love family times and all the traditions that go with celebrating Christmas, but that year, as this one, a shadow hung over me and it was very hard to get in the Christmas mood.

When my sister said that about bad things happening at Holidays, I thought, yeah, she’s right, at least in my experience. I remember when my mother-in-law died, a few days after Thanksgiving, and my sister, Granddad, and nephew-in-law – each died right around Easter. Sometimes it was expected, long illnesses, long fights for life, but other times it was quick and so unexpected.

Sometimes Holidays are hard. Sometimes sorrow clings to you as you go through the motions, but sometimes, sometimes… hope breaks through.

DadAfter talking with my sister, I thought about it and I realized that yeah, bad things happen at Holiday, but there is actually good in that too. Every Christmas I’m reminded of my father’s death and that reminds me of his life. I think back on happy memories of him, especially the day he came to my bedroom door looked at me with his special smile and asked, about my becoming a Christian and then nodded and said ‘yeah me too.’

And then I think about Christmas, and I think about why we are celebrating and I smile. I think of that baby, Jesus, born in a manger so many years ago, I think “God became man, He came and walked among us, He came to give us hope, to give us life, He came to die – to die so we could live.” And I know where my dad is, and where my sister and nephew-in-law, and where Dell, my mother-in-law is. I think about them, sitting on God’s lap as He wipes every tear from their eye (Revelation 21:4), I think of them in a place where there is no more fear, no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more death, and I am reminded of why we celebrate and joy fills my heart.

Does it take away all the pain and sorrow? No, I hurt for those I miss, I long to talk to them and laugh with them, but I know they are happy and at peace. And I know that one day because a baby born in Bethlehem, a baby born destined to die on the cross, I know because of Jesus’ life and death, because God chose to become man and chose to die for us to set us free, I know that one day I will see them again, and I know that one day my mom will be at peace and out of pain, and I know one day there will be no more tears and suffering, one day, yes one day.

Tami

Unclean

As for the leper who has the infection, his clothes shall be torn, and the hair of his head shall be uncovered, and he shall cover his mustache and cry, ‘Unclean! Unclean!  Leviticus 13:45

Unclean! Unclean!  The shame and degradation, alienated, afflicted, alone, oh so alone – alone in suffering, alone in shame.

The leper has a disease, a sickness, but must enter the town crying out ‘Unclean, Unclean.’  It’s not their fault they are unclean, they are diseased, but to protect others from a highly contagious disease, they must warn others of their condition.  And yet, think of how they must feel.  Do they feel they are protecting others, or do they feel dirty, nasty, unclean.  Leper! Untouchable! Ostracized, unwanted, unloved.

And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”

But Jesus didn’t say, ‘get away from me – you’re unclean!’  Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him… The touch of love, of compassion, of healing…  and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. ~ Mark 40:1-2 NAS

“Unclean! Unclean!”  People flee, judge and condemn – Jesus reaches out, touches, and heals.  Have you ever felt unclean, defiled, unworthy?  I have… but I also have experienced that touch.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”Matthew 9:12-13

When I was a new Christian, I shared my testimony with a friend.  When I was finished, she shared her story with me.  She had been raped, she was a teenager and the boy she was dating raped her and she felt so ashamed.  For years she bore that shame alone, afraid of telling anyone, and yet she told me.  She told me because I had bared my shame to her.  Even though our stories were different and our shame came from different wounds, we were the same.  I was wounded, she was wounded – we both knew what it was like to feel ‘unclean.’

Like the child that’s beaten and abused feels shame, shame for having parents like that, shame because they believe if only I could be better, if only I hadn’t…

Like the addict who hates their addiction, whether it be alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, or… They know shame and shame draws them back to their addictions, their escapes.

Their hearts cry out unclean! unclean! stay away! but they long for love and acceptance.  They long for a place where they can share their story and be healed.  They long for hope.

Are we, the church, hiding our stories; are we covering our shame with righteous deeds and closing out the hurting world.  Are we judging, condemning and shaming, crying out ‘unclean! unclean! stay away! don’t contaminate us…

One of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet and anointed them with the ointment.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

Then turning toward the woman He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with Him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” ~ Luke 7:36-50 ESV

Or… are we sharing our stories, sharing our hope, reaching out with compassion and love to the hurting, the abused, the ‘unclean’?

By Tami Munden

Following are some helpful resources:

LIBERATE – “I have come to set the captives free” Luke 4:18.  –  http://liberate.org/

Steve Brown, Key Life Ministries – http://www.keylife.org/

Justine and Lindsey Holcomb – Is It My Fault?: Hope and Healing for Those Suffering Domestic Violencehttp://amzn.com/0802410243

Justine and Lindsey Holcomb – Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assaulthttp://amzn.com/1433515989