Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Tag

Where comes our hope   Leave a comment

When everything seems wrong

When life and all that we know

Spins out of control

And we look to those to lead

Us forward and yet we doubt.

 

We live with our fears

While the news brings death and tears

How is one to cope

For what may come tomorrow?

Are their answers? Is there hope?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2020

“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths,

guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm 25:4&5 NIV

Germinating Seeds of Faith

Matthew followed his grandfather out to the old barn. The water line was still visible, its sides warped, leaning from storm damage and the dark, humid interior emanating a dank smell of fertilizer, peat moss, tools and tractor.

“Grandpa, it smells like the pond after the flood. You know…when it receded and left a lot of rot and stuff down along the banks?”

“Yes. But we’ll start by propping open that fallen door and letting in some sunlight and fresh air. Then we can start cleaning up what is salvageable to use again. The tools and tractor are not too severely affected by the flood waters, but the mower and other things might be. I think there’s still some seed over here on the shelves that we might be able to use to plant another crop if it is not too wet or decayed.”

They opened a damp, limp bag, still sealed but smelling like rotting wet hay. “Whew. It smells like… my dead frog.” Matthew said.

“Yes, I guess it does. I’m sorry about your frog.” Grandpa stuck his hand down in the bag, sifting the contents through his fingers testing the texture for signs of any moisture. “It feels dry enough to try. Shall we? It’s corn seed.”

“Plant it? I don’t know. The bag got pretty wet.”

“Yes, but it’s been sealed shut, so nothing else could get in to spoil it, or ruin the contents. You know, Matthew it’s kind of like the scriptures you learned in your bible lessons, about the parables of Jesus, the way he taught his disciples about planting good seed that grows deep in good soil that is cultivated, plowed and watered. The seeds yield a good harvest because they are like the words of Jesus planted in our heart, our soul. They are sealed in, but they don’t stay there if they’re to do any good.”

“I know Grandpa. but when things get ruined or spoiled how can we expect anything good to come from it? And this seed was not even in the ground yet before the storm. Talk about good irrigation!”

Grandpa laughed. “Matthew, do you have just a grain of faith that it will work, that we can make our garden grow? It only takes one seed to grow a plant until ripe for harvest. Don’t you think we can see an acre of corn grow from this one bag of seed? Do you remember the parable about the mustard seed? It only takes one seed, one grain to produce.”

“Yes, I remember. Well, you’re a farmer. A good one. If anyone can do it, you can.”

“Maybe, but, it’s not what I can do, but what God can do with my seed because of my faith. Now, it’s time you learn what a seed can do that has survived a flood with washed out crops. Like those words of Jesus you’ve learned in the parables, that what we see, what we hear, what we plant, what we grow is rooted in a firm foundation, and in this case it is initially the soil that is our foundation; planted, cultivated and prepped to produce a good crop. It is what we do with what we have that builds our faith.”

____________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © June 2020

Footnotes: scripture references for the above fictional parable are as follows.

[Luke 6:49] NIV

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed, and its destruction was complete.”

[Mark 4:3] NIV

“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. [Mark 4:8] Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”

Lone Responder

Gabe had to get out of the house. Tired of all the depressing news on Covid-19 he grabbed up his car keys and his mask and headed out the door. For where exactly, he wasn’t sure.

Maybe, a drive to the lake, park somewhere, walk around and watch the sunset. When have I last done that?

Working from home, long hours spent on his laptop, crunching the numbers for a company needing resuscitation from the economical meltdown had him seeing multiple dollar signs in his dreams at night. Would there ever be an end to this nightmare?

He noticed others out walking, some with their dogs, others obviously wanting exercise and fresh air, too.

The campgrounds were looking more like a tent city springing up with all the homeless; evicted or thrust out of their place or shelter.

As he slowed and came around a curve, a commotion ahead caught his eye and that of others keeping their distance, gawking at a man sprawled on the ground clinging to his possessions as two men ran from the scene, clutching things ripped from the hands of the injured man.

Can’t park here. Just isn’t safe. Going on over to the other side of the lake away from all this.

When parked, Gabe got out of his car, locked it and headed for one of the safer trails up ahead. But something about the helpless man sprawled out on the ground nagged at him.

God, I know you said to love our neighbors, do good deeds. But, this? What if I…? What if he…? What can I do?

Returning to his car he put on his mask and walked down the street to where the man lay.

When he got to the man, he could see he had been beaten with gashes, cuts on his face, and looked disheveled in dirtied, torn clothes. His face was bruised and bleeding, but his eyes pleading, imploring.

“Please! Help me. They took everything I had. I…tried to resist…but, they…were stronger, and I could not…”

“It’s OK. I’m going to get you some help. What’s your name?”

“Theo. Theodore.”

“OK. First, I need to go get my car, parked over there! on the next street. Then, I will drive you to the hospital and stay with you, so you get the help needed.”

Gabe ran back to the car, drove up in front of the man, still prone, very weak, barely conscious, then picked him up and laid him carefully in his back seat and rushed him to the hospital.

Gabe ran into emergency with his mask on, disregarding their questions or protocol, but instead led them out to his car to the injured man, told them where he’d found him, what happened, then stayed with him while he got the treatment and care needed until he was well. He paid his hospital bill, then found him a place to live.

_______________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © April 2020

The above story is based on the parable Jesus told of the ‘Good Samaritan’ found in Luke 10:30-35, in the New Testament Bible. Jesus spoke to his disciples and those listening what it meant to, “inherit the kingdom of God, and to love your neighbor as yourself”. When a self-righteous man asked, “And, who is my neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the ‘Good Samaritan’. At times we might be asked to step up and take responsibility of caring for the needs of one we would not otherwise want to do. It is then when we might need to be a, “Lone Responder”, or ‘Good Samaritan’ to help that “neighbor” and love them as we love ourselves.

JEM

 

Fresh Wind

A fresh wind of God

Is sweeping across the earth

With hearts turned toward prayer

Beseeching a risen Christ

Seeking help to heal their land

______________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © April 2020

With much of the U.S. – and elsewhere s around the world – in an isolated lock down mode we find ourselves vulnerable in many ways. We’re staying home, with our family more, closeted in ways where we were so free to move around, get out and enjoy the things we took for granted. The need for isolation to protect us all from the spread of Covid-19 has given us a new norm in how we have needed to adjust, to be creative even in making memorable moments with our family and loved ones. That is some of the good we are seeing. We are also seeing a new spiritual hunger in the world. People want hope, healing and assurance that we will get through this. People are wanting to touch base with their roots. when family time and attending church services together was important to them.

There are videos, and clips of media shown and shared of the ways families and friends are reconnecting with the required social distancing, sharing creative ways, making new memories, via of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. People are connecting in new ways coming together with a common strength and unity. People are seen on their knees in prayer, attending church services online and contributing in ways to help provide for others in need. As we come into this Easter weekend to celebrate the resurrection of a risen Christ it need not be less a celebration because we cannot be together in a group or church setting, but more of one where we draw strength from one another even though apart physically. I believe this is a divine plan of God to allow us all a time of renewing our mind and hearts, a time that reminds us all that we are stronger as one, united in ways that enrich us all.

“If my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14 NIV

I pray God’s richest blessings on you and yours this Easter season and holiday however you may spend it, whether by watching a church service online or time spent with family members at home.

JEM   

Life as we know it now

There’s lots of advice

for life as we know it now,

but we’ll get through it.

Stay positive, encouraged,

God is our source, and our joy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (C) March 2020

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” II Corinthians 1:3 & 4, NIV New Testament Bible

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” II Thessalonians 2:16 & 17, NIV New Testament Bible.

 

 

 

Where there seems no way

When frustrations mount,

Your patience and faith tested,

You have no control;

All you know is to worry.

Give it to God, and let go!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter © March 2020

Have you ever felt like this? You don’t understand what or why things happen in your life, or in the world that leaves you frustrated and worrying. You wonder what good can come out of a situation that has gone awry and out of control. But, when we let go of our fears, our worries, our hold on what consumes our thoughts and takes up residence in our mind, body and soul, we can experience a kind of peace that brings instead joy, contentment and assurance that all will work out for our good and according to God’s plan and purpose. Putting all our cares on Him and trusting Him in all that goes on in our life and in the world frees us from the bondage that the enemy, Satan uses to deceive, manipulate and control what we give him access and license to. Letting go of the fears that cripple us from experiencing all that God has for us and what He can do in and through us means using ‘Spiritual Warfare’ (God’s word) against our enemy’s attacks. Two scriptures I love that can help us find that help and peace of mind in these situations are found here,

Psalm 34:4, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me: he delivered me from all my fears.”

John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.” NIV

JEM

 

Painted by the finger of God

 

As the sun crept into view

across the still, dark Eastern sky

I stood watching in awe His creation

as shades of pink and orange yellowed hues

merged like fingers across the high.

The dawning of a new day,

Painted by the finger of God,

and I thought how wondrous His works of art.

And I wondered all the things He can do

with a picture not yet finished, like the canvas of my life

with all its imperfections, sins and flaws

marring the obstructed view

But the Master Artist created in me

not a perfect canvas, but one like a new day’s dawn

that would be touched by the strokes of the Master,

an image of Him made new.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2020

 

Coming Against Our Giants

Growing up in a Christian home as a child I learned early the biblical stories of people; men, women, and children who made a difference or left an impact on the lives of those they came to know, ones they encountered by choice, accident or by divine intervention. One way or other they all left their traces and footprints on the pages of history in the old and new testament, and today we still can learn things, gain new perspective and insight into how their story and what they did can influence and affect our lives by learning from their experiences.

One of my favorites was the stories of David, a small boy who grew up to be a great king of Israel. But, his journey to get there was a long, arduous one. It was difficult, full of obstacles, danger, intrigue, cunning defensive counter attacks, preparation and planning. One would think that the first phase of his military accomplishments should be a long extensive stint of training and knowledge of tactical weaponry and a ‘tour of duty’ serving under Israel’s present king, Saul. But it did not start that way. It started with a mere stone and small sling. How does a young shepherd boy, small in stature, dressed in an animal skin tunic and sandals kill a burly, mean, threatening bully over seven feet tall, armed with steel armor, javelin, spear, and helmet? With faith, confidence and the power of a God that assures us that all things are possible with, and through Him (ref. Philippians 4:13). With the assurance that God was with him in his battles David stood his ground facing his giant.

We don’t know the battles we will face, nor have the option to choose them, the time or place as they might come unexpectedly at any time from any direction or source, and we are faced head on with them. It may not be a lion or bear, or a nine-foot giant dressed head to toe in steel armor with spears or javelins. Our giants come in many shapes, forms, and sizes. The devil chooses weapons that can deceive us, destroy us, diminish and drain us of the things we need to fight with; faith, confidence, and courage.

God’s word comes as a sword preparing us for battle. It is the stone, the rock we carry in our sling that leaves the biggest impact, with the power and strength that knows no limitations to what it can do for us, the giants it will take down and the battles we will win. If God goes before us, we cannot lose, but win. We cannot fail but succeed.

But the enemy is sly, deceitful and deceptive. It looks for cracks in our armor and can gain access if we don’t fortify our walls and strengthen our defense. After David’s victory in killing the giant, Goliath he then had to deal with another, the present king, Saul. From that point on David’s battles came; bigger, greater, one right after the other.

Fortifying our walls, strengthening our defense, choosing our rock determines the outcome of our battles, win or lose. Our battles belong to the Lord to fight for us.

“The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock in whom I take refuge, He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold,” Psalm 18:2 NIV

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Jan. 2020)

 

Christmas

Christmas

It is again that time of year

when friends and family far and near

come and gather round the tree

bright and festive, full of cheer.

The air is filled with the scents and sounds

of all things merry and to all appear

a time when joyful hearts are warmed,

when all are engaged, and gifts exchanged

of special moments and memories formed.

But the greatest of all is the gift of love

born of a virgin, laid in a manger

who came to save and redeem the lost,

God’s gift to a broken, sinful world.

With a jubilant herald of voices in praise

the angels celebrated in chorus and song

lifting up His name, name above all

Jesus, Savior, Redeemer, King

________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2019

Scripture references for the story of Jesus’s birth can be found in the book of Luke, 2nd chapter of the New Testament, and also in Matthew, chapter 1: 18 – 25. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS, for he shall save his people from their sins. vs. 23, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child and shall bring forth a son and they shall call his name Emanuel which being interpreted is, God with us.”         

To all my blogger friends and followers, thank you for following me through the years, for the likes, and all the kind and thoughtful comments, prayers and support. I was not as active on WordPress this last year taking a long rest after going through a painful divorce, and relocation to move forward in my life. It is because of God’s gift of love, giving us a Savior that abides with us through all of the times in our lives, the easy times and the worst of times that I know I would not be the person I am today without going through the process of spiritual growth and maturity I needed. 

I want to wish you all a very happy, blessed and merry Christmas and hope that the new year will be good to you.  

God bless all,

Joyce Mannhalter 

When at the end of the day

                                Lake McConaughy, Ogallala, Nebraska

When at the end of the day

the sun sets and I watch

amazed as it slowly sinks

lower in the skies

as if bowing to its creator,

warm rays kissing rippled waters

my reverent heart too, bows to His greatness and power

and I marvel at the things He instills into my searching soul

the ways He is teaching me, helping me

through the storms in life,

sustaining me, lifting me,

encouraging me, strengthening me.

When I am weak, though I fail, I will not fall.

He’s there, and I rest assured

that though I know not

what a new tomorrow brings

I know He shelters me in His arms of grace.

_______________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © Sept. 2019

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” II Thessalonians 2:16 & 17. NIV


 

Setting attainable goals

Accepting failure

For the unattainable

can move us forward

~~~

To strive instead for

What is attainable now

That which is in reach

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In Philippians, chapter 3, verses 12-16 Paul was addressing the church of Philippi about the highest goal of which we can all attain, that being the one called by God; to live according to His plan, for His glory not of our own flesh and earthly desires but of that which brings Him the glory for what he can do through us and in us. We may work hard and diligently at things that are self-seeking, things we want for ourselves, our goals and dreams for those that we think will bring happiness, success and gain. But what is not sanctioned, blessed and directed of and by God can only bring failure, dissatisfaction, and a searching for truth and reward. Only that which God offers can bring what we need and ultimately want to have; what no man or anything on this earth can take away or destroy, that which is called the “highest goal,” the “prize of the high calling of God” that Paul speaks about. To press on, to attain that goal is the easy and best part, but to work at being what God has called us to be requires commitment, dedication and is not self-seeking, but the reward is eternal. So many times I have worked and sought to bring about a result of self-satisfaction and gain for myself in what I have tried to do as a writer, or at anything I felt led to do on my own, only to fail at attempts that proved we are nothing without God and can only move forward by His grace and know a real peace that only He can bring. It is not what the world can give or anyone else but only through Him we have that which is the highest of goals attainable.

“Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” Philippians 3:16 NIV

Joyce E. Mannhalter © August 2019

Reseated

Cliff handed the driver a generous tip, thanked him and walked into the conference hall. Signs and banners announced the launch and grand opening of the new rehab center. Without the sizeable donations and contributions from companies like his he knew they’d not even exist. Equipped with the best in housing, treatment and care they spared nothing to give the doctors, medical personnel and case workers all they needed to facilitate what the residents and patients needed. Except for the director, administrator, and well-placed case workers and professionals it was largely staffed with unpaid volunteers who themselves were recovering alcoholics and former drug addicts, and the like. They’d all been invited to the gala event. The congressman who pushed and promoted the center’s cause and creation into existence promised tax credits and incentives to the big donors funding it. He was running for president in the next election and Cliff, one of his constituents was inclined to get on board with the project. If it succeeded it was a win for them all.

They opened with speeches, introductions and honorable mentions of people significant to its inception. A formal dinner would follow. Cliff moved towards the front of the head table shaking hands, smiling and talking with ones near the director and administrator hoping to claim a seat next to the congressman as he and the director greeted guests and dignitaries.

He stood behind a seat near theirs ready to sit down when the event planner came up to him and said, “Sir, we have these seats next to the director, administrator and congressman reserved for the chaplain, case workers and mentors that work directly with them, but if you will follow me down here to the end of this row we will seat you with another group.”

He glared back at her, then said, “Young lady, do you know who I am? I’m the CEO of Scarsdale Industries and if not for our financial support and funding this event would not even be happening It is because of our involvement that…” he went on a bit too loudly. Heads turned their direction hearing the exchange of words which also caught the attention of a news photographer standing to the side, videotaping it all.

“Yes, sir. Thank you. I’m aware of who you are, but at the request of the director we have placed his staff next to them because of their selfless commitment and time to the program. I’m sure you understand my position. So, if you will please follow me, I will reseat you down on this end with the other contributors and donors.”

Cliff’s face turned red, his eyes, cold as ice glaring back as if in defiance, but without another word just nodded and followed her to the end of the long formal dining table set for the fifty some guests invited.

His dignity suffered a a direct blow from the incident. He came to the gala proud, arrogant and boastful for what he’d given to them, trying to claim some glory for himself with his position in life, but instead walked away humbled, learning a lesson in humility. He found that there is no glory for one who lives only to exalt and lift up himself so others might see his good works.

__________________

The above story is fiction. It is my version, inspired by and based on the parable Jesus told in Luke 14:7-11, ‘the banquet feast.’ I have recently been studying the parables and stories in both the new and old testaments, and find them not only full of history, facts and truth, and a message for all, but also they are a great inspiration for stories that can speak to hearts today. We all have times when we’re needing to learn what it is like to have our stool or pedestal knocked out from under our feet. Sometimes just declaring our achievements openly before others can prove fatal to achieving what we really need demonstrated; integrity, honesty and consideration for those who maybe struggle with their own personal worth, confidence and self-esteem.  I have been reminded of that plenty of times when the still small voice of the Holy Spirit quickens my heart and I need forgiveness for my selfish attitude or indifference. 

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 NIV

Joyce E. Mannhalter © July 2019

Things I do now

 

 

Tread carefully and carry a sharp hoe. That’s what I do now while traversing across the uneven terrain in my back yard where tree roots have created a rough surface above ground making it difficult to maintain or mow. Trying to keep up with the yard maintenance is not an easy task and one that requires a lot of work as I am now single and on my own. I spray, hoe and dig up all kinds of weeds, fight off swarms of flies, filled a dozen trash bags full of raked leaves from the huge trees in my front yard, cleaned out the wet, slimy gunk from my gutters, shoveled and scooped huge piles of snow off my deck, driveway and walk numerous times from record snow storms and cold harsh weather, freezing temperatures, lightning and thunder storms. But when the storms passed I planted and potted new plants in containers for the front and back yard, then enjoy them feeling rewarded from all my labor.

Lately, I have added snake killing to the current list of activities after seeing several garden snakes slithering about from open holes and crevices in an area where I had planned to plant a vegetable garden, but have since scratched that idea.

One day I saw a green metallic colored snake slithering around under my deck just a couple feet from my patio swing where I love sitting while watching and listening to the birds in my yard and trees. I am no Annie Oakley, but am beginning to think I should have come out here to Nebraska’s farmland with a whip, saber or machete.

Jokes aside, it isn’t always the forces of nature or the unexpected chaotic interruptions in life that bring about character building I see God using to make me more the person He wants me to be, but the things and ways each day and the growing process He takes me through that leaves the biggest impact.

The one thing I am sure to learn through this is perseverance, patience and determination.

James 1:2 & 3 & vs 12, New Testament, NIV says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Vs 12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

This brings me comfort and assures me that whatever new challenge or test that comes my way I have God to lean on and trust that He is there, directing my every step.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Joyce E. Mannhalter (June, 2019)

 

 

The Wayward Son

“Dad, I’m taking what’s mine and leaving.”

“Why? I hoped you would want to work with your brother and I in the business. When I retire the business will be yours, and your brother’s. ”

“No. I want to see the world, travel.” He turned away avoiding the crestfallen look on his father’s face.

A few days later Mick closed out his accounts, cashed in his trust fund, took his share of the estate and left.

For months following he traveled the world, living like a man with no responsibilities or obligations. No concerns or thoughts to who or what he left behind and none for those he met along the way. He dined and partied with men and women who showed him a good time, drove fast cars, stayed at five-star hotels and resorts eating and drinking at expensive restaurants while spending, and charging all without a care. Life was good, easy. He felt free. But the money ran out, credit cards expired, loans defaulted, and he was broke, unable to pay his debts.

Now desperate and hungry he hauled grain and feed to the stock pens of a farmer eating what he could glean. When he asked for food, they replied. “Go away, can you not see all the hungry who still have no food to eat. There isn’t enough for our own.” So, he searched through alleys for scraps in waste bins behind the bars he once hung out in.

I will go home and apologize to my father and ask if he will hire me on as one of his construction workers. They at least eat well and are paid for their wages earned. I have earned nothing but the shame and disrespect of my family. Will even God forgive me for all I have done?

While walking up the long-gated drive to his father’s home he was met with the warm loving arms of his father, never asking where he’d gone or what he’d done. Only how happy he was to see him and know he had ‘come home.’ His father asked his servants to prepare a very special, festive dinner and celebration with his best wine for his youngest son had returned home.

But when Stan Jr. the older son saw all the commotion and celebration going on, he came to his father and asked what he was doing and why.

“Did I not work for you all these years faithfully running things at the business just like you taught me? And yet, now you spoil him with an outlandish display of gifts and party. Do I not deserve the same or better for all I have done?”

“Stan Sr. replied, “Son, all you need do is ask and it is yours to enjoy. All I have is yours already. But your brother was lost to us all those years and now has returned. It is time to celebrate, not be bitter. Let’s party.”

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter © 2019

The above story is fiction, but the truth and parable are scriptural. The story of the prodigal son is found in Luke 15: 11-32 of the New Testament Bible. It is one of many parables or stories Jesus shared with his disciples to illustrate a truth or lesson. This parable story is one of my favorites as it depicts the love our Father God has for us who come to him lost, with a repentant heart seeking forgiveness and wishing for a new beginning, a new life in Him. receiving the gift of salvation and the guidance of the Holy Spirit in directing our steps while on our journey of faith. I love how this father reached out to his lost son in love with no condemnation or questions as to where he’d been or how he conducted his life before his return. As Father’s Day is approaching on Sunday, June 16th I thought this parable story a perfect one to share and hope you have enjoyed reading my own fictional modern version of the parable of the ‘Prodigal Son’. I want to wish all fathers out there a Happy Father’s Day. Best wishes to you and yours on this special day.

JEM

The Galilee and His Disciples

The Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, Israel, May, 2001 photo credit: Joyce (Johnson) Mannhalter

 

The Galilee, quiet, cold and still

but for the ripples under a bright orange sky

lies in mournful praise. It was here

where once they’d gathered sharing life, 

they’d fished and prayed,

 but now the sea is silent like His grave. 

as the sun sets, its reflections seen

over what looks like a stained glass sea

  merging colors of purple, crimson red 

for the bruised and broken Son of God,

the crucified Christ who suffered and bled.

Now their boats sit idly by with empty nets drawn in and dry. 

His disciples aren’t here, gone to mourn their loss, 

 the Messiah, Savior Lord, whom they followed to His death.

the One who stilled the storm and taught

from a boat about faith, and hope

and how to believe for miracles received. 

Did He not promise he’d return one day? 

And find them again before going away 

to reign with His Father and they would know

that what He said, He would do,

and that in His place would the Comforter come too? 

So they left their nets and boats to moor

on the Sea of the Galilean shore.

_________________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter – April, 2019

The story of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus’s disciples can be found in the scripture passages here below: Matthew, 8: 23-27, chapters 14: verses 22-32, and chapter 17: 22 & 23. The promise Jesus made to his disciples of the Comforter (the Holy Spirit) that would come after he went away (after the resurrection) can be found in these scriptures here: John 14:16, 26, 15:26 & 27,and in chapter 16: verse 7. His promise made then for them and for all is the same today, and always. We have the assurance that whatever we face in life with all the challenges, the problems, the good, the bad and the ugly we have the assurance that our Redeemer lives, is still on the throne, and we will be comforted and shown grace and mercy. Hebrews 13:8 says, “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today and forever.” KJV

Happy Easter to all,

JEM

 

 

When to Him

When to Him I come and ask

for wisdom and understanding

to the questions I have,

with few answers to all that confuses the soul,

and though yet I trust Him

I know not what to do,

I ask still again, What is God doing?

What is the lesson here to be learned?

for too often I ask as if still to plead,

Did you not hear my prayer and my need?

There isn’t any doubt to all I believe,

but so often it’s hard to persevere,

and I wait on Him and think to myself,

did I not get it? Did I not hear?

And then, it is dawn and I see the sun

break through the clouds and fog now gone.

Sometimes it is like that with our heavy heart

when we are impatient, awaiting a breakthrough,

but soon rewarded; behold the Son.

__________________

Joyce E Mannhalter (C) 2019

And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you; for the Lord is a God of judgement; blessed are all they that wait for him. Isaiah 30:18 KJV Old Testament

 

 

 

 

A year like none other

It has been a year unlike any I have ever experienced in my life. Sometimes, because of our choice or decisions made there are circumstances that change or alter the course or direction for our lives. Other times it is God who has appointed and chosen one for us by allowing things to happen that require us to set out on a new path. We might wonder what He had in mind or wanted to accomplish in it. But we can only appreciate it if we realize He is teaching us to grow and learn how to trust him. It was that way with me this last year, although it was difficult and challenging.

I have so often thought and wondered what it must have been like for Mary, the mother of Jesus as she tried to understand or comprehend why she in her tender teenage years was chosen to be the one God used to carry and deliver His gift to the world. What a tremendous challenge it must have been for her as maybe she thought or wondered if she was worthy or ready for it. Maybe she went through a time of doubt or unbelief while hoping people, family and friends would see and understand that she was not a woman to be shamed, stoned or ostracized, pregnant with a child before her espoused marriage to Joseph, but instead God’s chosen vessel by appointment to deliver the Savior, King and Redeemer to a lost and sinful world. Scripture tells us there was great joy and jubilation at the birth of Jesus as angels heralded his birth before men. (Luke 2:9-18). But not all were rejoicing in his birth as King Herod sought him out to kill him. (Matthew 2:1-16). At that time of celebration and jubilation she had no knowledge or thought that one day she would weep for Jesus’s suffering too, as once again He would be sought out and killed. Yet, He went willingly to the cross for all. (Luke, chapters 22 & 23).

We cannot fully appreciate and comprehend the miraculous birth of Jesus, born to a virgin or His death and resurrection until we fully appreciate the new and miraculous rebirth in our own lives. The rebirth of our soul is only dependent on this one thing; that we believe in Jesus, the Son of God who came to forgive us our sin and trespasses and offer us hope and a new life. John 3:16&17. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if not knowing my Savior during this difficult year. It is what held me up, what lifted me during my down times, what buoyed me when I felt I was being pushed under with the strain and stress.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my faithful blogging friends and readers who have visited my blog through the last year, and for all the kind comments, feedback, thoughts and prayers as I went through a difficult period of my life with a divorce and relocation, as I set out on a new path of my own. We cannot know what our tomorrows bring, but we can grow through them, and learn to trust God as we move forward.

Merry Christmas and God bless you and yours in 2019.

_________________

Joyce E. Mannhalter (Johnson) (Dec. 2018)

Posted December 14, 2018 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Christmas, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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Change

Change is not something I do well. My old ‘routine’, or to put it more aptly my personal agenda was like wearing a comfortable, favorite pair of old shoes or blue jeans. But, even a new pair of shoes or blue jeans has to be broken in until softer and loose enough to easily slip on.

But change is what my past year has been like since making some tough decisions in my life, good or bad. And when those changes come with a new name, address, relocation and relationships and all that goes with it there comes with it a time to stop and rethink priorities, goals for the future, and focus on what is immediate and most important; things that must be dealt with here and now.

There have been many who wondered, questioned or just stood by and prayed while I and my husband went through a divorce this last summer, and a broken marriage after fifty-two years together. The serious mental illness and suicide attempts my husband suffered through 2017 and  2018  became more than I could handle physically, mentally and emotionally. I had to make a decision that was not only very difficult, but I knew things would never be the same for us again. When I filed for divorce and we put our house and properties we owned jointly up for sale other things followed that made it harder to bear as the months went by. My husband became unpredictable, with varied mood swings and personality changes that shocked everyone who knew him, and frightened those of us who once loved him; our two daughters, our grandchildren, family and friends, and myself included.

When he started buying up and carrying around guns, deliberately threatening the lives of others and demonstrating a delusional, hallucinating mind and personality that conjured up stories we knew were not true, driving around with reckless abandonment, and pursuing women on internet match sites I knew I could not stay married to a man I hardly knew anymore.  I had to put my life and future at the forefront, find a new place to live and put my trust in an unfailing God who I knew would never leave, or forsake me. I knew God would walk with me through the shadow of dispelling darkness and despair I felt engulfed in, though at times I wondered if I would ever find my way through it. But, I was not alone. I had the support and prayers of friends and family, who knew the struggle I was going through.

During the months following he committed a serious crime, and the felony landed him in jail. He faced court hearings, convictions, a possible prison sentence, and numerous months of mental and psychic evaluations. For months I was angry, deeply hurt and resentful of all that he had put me through. But, deep down I knew he was a very sick man, that something had claimed his mind and soul causing his problems or contributing to all that he’d done. The many medications he took were adjusted and one by one each possible diagnosis came back unconfirmed. Things would never be the same for him. As for me, I was determined to grow through the experience and become the person God was shaping me to be. But, I knew I would need to make changes in my own personal agenda and reset my priorities. There would be no comfortable routine.

In Philippians 3:13 & 14 the apostle Paul speaks of his own experience; “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” NIV I hung onto that hope that God was working in my life and I believed He would do a work in my husband’s life as well, that one day he would be healed and made whole again.

There will always be many unanswered questions as to why and how one could change so much that no one recognized him anymore. After the divorce and the sale of our home I set out on my own to relocate, buy another house in another state, and took a long break from blogging and social media sites. I have now taken back my maiden name of Mannhalter and though it is becoming once again more familiar and comfortable like my old sneakers and blue jeans when signing my name I will remember forever the fifty-two years I had with the once wonderful, giving, loving man I married when I was Joyce E. Johnson.

Joyce E. Mannhalter (October 2018)

 

Posted October 12, 2018 by Joyce in blogging, Faith, My Writings

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If I Could Behold


If I could behold scarred hands and face

and feet where nails pierced through were placed

I would ask, “How could you love me so very much,

to carry the weight of my sins to the cross,

and die that I might have new life

while suffering such an agonizing sorrowful death?”

But, he replied with scarred hands to my face

and with eyes reflecting the tears in my own,

“You see my child, there will be times

when you will suffer your own pain and loss,

and I will be there to comfort you.

I’ll not forsake you. You’ll not be alone.”

It is what I know He does for me now,

enfolding me in His arms of grace.

__________________

Joyce E. Johnson (2018)

There are times when we need an unshakable trust in the Savior to get us through turbulent storms in life, when we don’t know what to do, and need His comfort and grace. But, He is there, always, and hears our every prayer, and knows our every need. In John 20:29 Jesus said, “Because you have seen me you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And, in II Corinthians 12:9 Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” NIV 

JEJ


Enjoy today; worry not about tomorrow

“Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 NIV

I have always had a problem worrying over things I dreaded, things that could not be avoided like a dental appointment, a medical procedure, or having to drive somewhere where I didn’t want to go, taking me out of my comfort zone. I worried about getting lost, being alone in a crowd of people I didn’t know, getting in a bad car accident. You name it; the list of dreaded things I could not avoid would grow and increased my anxiety to a point that what I was really feeling was out-right fear, the fear of tomorrow, the fear of the unknown.

Worrying over our tomorrows takes our focus off what is important today, and steals the joy that God has for us. What God wants to do for us today, in us, or through us the devil wants to steal. When tomorrow comes we may have regret that we did not put more effort into making our yesterday the best it could have been. Even the memory of it might not be a happy one. Experiencing the joy of today enables us to not fear or worry about tomorrow. Fear sucks the joy right out of our very soul. It can cripple us from walking (daily) in the spirit.

I realized that more than the things I dreaded tomorrow was the inability to appreciate what I have today, an opportunity to make it my best day, to live in the moment and not dwell on what would come in its own time. Learning to take one day at a time even when there are things I knew were coming did not have to steal my attention off of today. For this day I choose to make it my best day, and be hopeful, expectant that whatever today brings I will rejoice and be glad in it because I know that God has all in His hands, and I know He has all my tomorrows as well.

_______________

Joyce E. Johnson © 2018

Posted February 28, 2018 by Joyce in Chrisitanity, Devotional, Faith, My Writings

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