A Whole Heart

Fuchsia

With my whole heart I seek you;
let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:10-11

לֵב

leb

inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding:

inner part, midst:

midst (of things)

heart (of man)

soul, heart (of man)

mind, knowledge, thinking, reflection, memory

inclination, resolution, determination (of will)

conscience

heart (of moral character)

as seat of appetites

as seat of emotions and passions

as seat of courage

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Our heart is a place where we can be filled to the brim with things of God or things of this world.  We have choices to make.  Our heart can be wholly set apart to God and for Him.  Or it can be wholly or even partially set upon the things that lead us away from God, lead us astray.

God calls us to Him.  He wants us near to His heart.  He loves us so and draws us to Him.  He has given us many promises which are truly ours through obedience to Him.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to obey My rules.  Ezekiel 36:26-27

The meaning of the word heart that is in Psalm 119:10 (the Hebrew לֵב  {leb} ) occurs 591 times in 546 verses in the Hebrew concordance of the NASB.  Throughout these many verses, heart can be interpreted to mean one of the many definitions listed above.  Yet, they each and all lead to the same place: our steadfast relationship with God, our Maker.

Dependent upon what that relationship with God is at any given moment, we stand with Him or against Him.  He wants us with Him always, but we are sinful and can reject Him.

See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.  For if they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject Him Who warns from heaven.  Hebrews 12:25

In our darkness, we can easily walk away from the One Who made us for Himself.  We take that which He gives to us and then pretend we never knew Him.  He is the One Who knit us in our mother’s womb and saw us before the world even existed.  Yet we can be stubborn and stiff-necked, thinking that we know what is best for us.

It was I who knew you in the wilderness,
in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full,
they were filled, and their heart was lifted up;
therefore they forgot Me.  Hosea 13:5-6

I know I have walked away and thought I could control my own life and would control it.  I thought I had the ability to be in charge.  I wandered in the desert without enough water.  I left peace and found agitation.  I shooed comfort away only to know fear.  I could not find shelter because I wanted to pitch my own tent, yet had nothing from which to make it.

My God will reject them
because they have not listened to Him;
they shall be wanderers among the nations.  Hosea 9:17

But, one day, I looked to the heavens and saw the Hand of God reaching to me.  I knew He had never left me nor did He forsake me even though I was one miserable person.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.  I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.  Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.  Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with Me.  Revelation 3:17:20

God blesses me so.  I want to praise Him with my whole heart.  I come wholly to Him.  I know I am not able to be whole for Him at every moment, yet I desire to be.  My heart and soul and mind and body are His, wholly His.  When a part fails God, I seek His forgiveness and His comforting arms.  I praise You, Father. 

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!  Zephaniah 3:14

My Abba Father, thank You for loving me unconditionally.  I do not deserve it, but I desire You more than anyone or anything.  I am hungry and thirsty and tired and needy.  You have fed me with the Bread of Life, given me Living Water, rested me on Your bosom, sheltered me under Your wing, provided all that I need.  You are gracious to me, Father.  I am so grateful.  LORD, I offer my whole self and pray that I stay on Your straight path.  I want to be wholly Yours with my whole heart.  May this be so.  In the Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen. 

 befuschiasig

 

Photo of Fuchsias:  http://flowerinfo.org/fuchsia-plants

Father’s Day – 2016

MUSIC MEMORIES IN THE MIND OF MY WONDERFUL FATHER

Horace Williams, Jr. commented on a post here @ Being Woven (April 29, 2016/Memory’s Music) which so touched my heart.  It was in regards to the topic and the love he has for his father.  I have invited him to be my guest today.

In honor of Father’s Day, I welcome Horace Williams, Jr. of Pleasing to the Potter.

Dad-Army Captain MP-Edited3

My father is a wonderful man!  I am blessed to be his first born son and his namesake.  I have not written specifically about him on my site even though it was intended in the parent references I’ve made on several occasions.  My father and I have a very unique relationship but as I have grown older and wiser, my desire is to live like he lives in representing Jesus Christ.

Today, I want to share with you some highlights so you can know him a little better and then I will convey how music has impacted my father’s life and continues to do so.  Growing up as a child, I can remember my father and his love for classical music.  I did not really understand it at that time and I can remember thinking where are the words?  How can you listen to music with no words, I would ask myself?  Two of his favorite composers are Beethoven and Tchaikovsky.

I admit as I got older I began to understand his affinity for classical music.  In fact, I am listening to one of my favorites (Tchaikovsky) right now as I type this.  He composed so many great pieces of music such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and my favorite, his Piano Concerto No. 1.  As a former piano player myself, I can only dream to have played like this, but I digress!  Now back to my father.  Here are some highlights to give you a “peek” into just who he is.

Fantastic facts about my Father:

Faithful Husband.  Dad and Mom celebrated their 50th wedding Anniversary this year!

Fantastic Father of five children.

Fortunate Grandpa to 11 amazing grandchildren.  I say fortunate because my parents had to be wondering if I would ever give them a grandchild.  I think my mom stopped asking me fifteen years ago!

Fluent in 4 languages. (at one time he was) English, Spanish, French, and German

First class Army Veteran.  Dad was a distinguished Army Captain of the MP’s during the time of the Vietnam War.

Former Pastor, Church planter, and Home Missionary.  It was during my dad’s time in the Army that He came to know Christ as his Lord and Savior and felt led to attend Bible College.  He then became a Home Missionary as God directed him to start a church.

Free Taxi Driver.  I can still remember either dropping me off or picking me up in the wee hours of the night from work regardless of how many hours he had worked that day.

Frequently Awkward Adviser.  I think because my father saw us as so different, he had a hard time figuring me out at times.  Although he always advised me in love growing up, our differences made it hard on him at times.  For example, I loved playing sports; he played in the band.  He loved Sci-fi movies and I prefer a great mystery or love story.  Oh, how I wish I had listened to those “awkward” conversations growing up.  Looking back now, they were filled with such Godly wisdom.

Fighting a difficult battle with the debilitating Alzheimer’s disease.  Yes, you read correctly.  My father now suffers from Alzheimer’s.  A few years ago my father was t-boned while driving my car as I was recovering from the stroke.  My car was totaled; he was okay, just a little shaken.  It was at that moment we wondered if there might be something wrong with the safest driver I have ever known.  I remember the day he told me his diagnosis was confirmed.  He kept repeating it to anyone who would listen… I have Alzheimer’s.  It broke my heart!

As I watch Alzheimer’s progressively attack my father’s brain, I go to God in prayer asking for peace in my father’s mind.  I do not understand the disease and I’m not sure anyone does.  I’ve read research articles and reports on the subject.  It was stated in one article that sometimes Alzheimer sufferers remember things buried in their heart.

 

I feel my father’s love when he greets me with a kiss and calls me by my name.  His love for music is still evident.  For our parent’s 50th anniversary, all of my siblings pitched in and we got them tickets to the symphony.  It was a performance of both Beethoven and Mozart.  My mom said he absolutely loved it!  He sat still for the entire two-hour performance and did not move a muscle!  (I would include a picture but they are all pretty dark.)

Dad and Mom- Memory Post Dad

Mom also plays the local classical music station when they are driving as too much talking seems to perturb him at times.  My father has always been a fan of the “old school” hymns.  He never really has been a fan of the contemporary Christian music.  He loves hymns like The Old Rugged Cross and How Great Thou Art.  One hymn that has special meaning and seems to have stayed with him through everything is My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.  It is a beautiful and inspiring hymn from the 1800’s, a song overflowing with hope in Jesus and our foundation in Him.

Just a few days ago we all went to visit our parents.  He sat down in the chair next to me and asked me how I was doing.  I told him I was feeling okay, but was having a little pain.  He looked me in the eye and recited the first verse of this song to me.  It was all I could do to keep from crying.  I got up and kissed him on the forehead as I whispered, I love you, Dad.  I’m not sure I will ever understand why this is happening to such a kind, loving, and brilliant man with a heart for God.  I trust my Father in Heaven and I ask Him that He bless my earthly father with peace of mind…even if it’s the few minutes of listening to or hearing his favorite songs.

Music-Memories-in-the-Mind-of-my-Father-Fathers-Day-Post-2016

I’ve included a beautiful video of the song my dad recites to me every time he sees me.  I pray you are encouraged and inspired.  Please pray for my father and grace for my mother.

Blessings to you and yours,

Horace Williams Jr.

Jr at 40-Edited-2015

Bio

I am a single, Christian man who loves the Lord Jesus with all his heart.  I am also the oldest of five siblings.  In the Summer of 2010, I suffered a devastating stroke that could have taken my life.  My entire left side was paralyzed due to a ruptured blood vessel in my brain!  However, God has given me a second chance and I want to glorify Him every day.  As my love for Christ grows deeper, it’s my desire to share my faith with others.  I pray you find help, inspiration, and encouragement as I share with you about the transforming power and love of God.

www.PleasingtothePotter.com

Birds and Me

BE FOREWARNED:  many photos and two short videos  : )

eagles-on-nest3--Sue-Greeley
I have been watching birds on cameras through Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology or American Eagle Foundation/USDA.  I watch the Albatross in Kauai, Hawaii, the Bald Eagles in Washington, D.C., Ospreys in Missoula, Montana, and the Red-Tailed Hawks in Ithaca, NY.  There are others as well, but these have been my favorites to watch.  Yes, I am a birdwatcher in real life too, but these birds either do not visit South Texas or they are hard to spot.  I certainly do not get to watch them raise their young.

Birds species can be so unique in the way they care for their young.  These that I am watching have laid the eggs and then sat upon them, frequently tidying up the nest around them.  The mate that is off the eggs goes hunting or fishing, bringing the feast back to the nest.  With some species, only the female sits on the eggs while the male hunts and gathers, whereas other species share in both the nest and hunting duties.  It is quite interesting to me.  These same ways continue once the eggs have hatched and they have their nestlings.  When very young, the parent continues to sit upon the babies until food arrives.  The parents are so careful in the way they straddle and finally sit over the young.  Take a look at this video to see this phenomenon.  Those large yellow talons never touch the chicks.  (The video is only 53 seconds.)

As they grow, there is less sitting over the nestling and more sitting with the nestling.  This young Laysan Albatross cuddles up to a parent in the nest.

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Red-Tailed Hawk parent gently feeds first of three born to this family in Ithaca, New York on the Cornell University campus.

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Mr. President and The First Lady in the National Arboretum — 2016 with Freedom and Liberty:

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From tiny (above) to juvenile (below)

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Parent birds teach their young.  The juvenile bird begins to imitate the parents in feeding themselves with food brought by a parent, flapping their wings and hopping, practicing for that day when they will fledge (fly on their own).

This is Liberty and Freedom dancing in the rain.  The video is 9:35 minutes long, but just watch the first few minutes of practice and more practice.  It will make you smile when they begin hopping too:

 In the case of Albatross, the parents head to sea, leaving their young to practice alone for their big day of flight before heading out to sea.  It is on its own for food for a time as well.

CkiOKYCVAAAsLbL
One of the three Red-Tailed Hawks takes flight from near the nest:

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A fledgling often stays near the nest, continuing to be fed by the parents for some time.  Once flying becomes second nature to the juvenile bird, most receive lessons in hunting and fishing.

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“The eagle is observed to have a strong affection for her young, and to show it, not only as other creatures by protecting them and making provision for them, but by educating them and teaching them to fly.  For this purpose she stirs them out of the nest where they lie dozing, flutters over them, to show them how they must use their wings….”  Matthew Henry

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“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”  Matthew 6:26

learntowalk
We are similar in a number of ways:

  • Parents care for their young: both may be involved, but not always.
  • As infants, we depend upon our parents to feed us, change us, place us into bed.
  • As children, we continue to depend upon our parents for many years, although we begin to spread our wings, gaining some feeling of independence.
  • One day, when we are old enough, and, hopefully, mature enough, we spread those wings and take flight.
  • …to name a few

Parents teach their young, guiding them to walk by holding their hands, eventually stepping out away from them so they begin to take steps toward the parent.

‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself.  Exodus 19:4

God is our Father, teaching us.  He is a patient Father.  He waits as we take steps.  He reteaches, if necessary (usually so! at least for me!).  He draws us out to walk in His Way, to be obedient to His commandments.  He loves us and nurtures us.  He keeps His hand in ours.

And God said, Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth Genesis 1:26

I ponder the ways of these birds and my own existence.  You created me…ME!

For You formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  Psalm 139:13

Father God, You blessed me with wonderful earthly parents who cared for me tenderly and dearly.  They loved me.  They raised me up that I could fly.  And I have flown and hope I will continue to fly.  My earthly parents are with You now, yet their love is still with me.  Thank You for them, Father.  You care for me so much more than I can know…yet one day, I will know You, Your Holiness, Your Sovereignty, Your Love.  You are my God. 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”  Matthew 6:33-34

I seek Your Kingdom, Father.  Show me the way. 

But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.  Isaiah  40:31

I want to fly with You for the rest of my earthly life and then on to Heaven to be with You…one day. 

bald_eagle

I’LL FLY AWAY by Albert Brumley **

Some glad morning when this life is o’er,
I’ll fly away;
To a home on God’s celestial shore,
I’ll fly away.

CHORUS:
I’ll fly away, O glory,
I’ll fly away;
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I’ll fly away.

beblacksig

 

 

“A Regal Couple” —  http://www.eagles.org/dceaglecam/about.html

Video:   American Eagle Foundation/DCEagleCam — http://www.slate.com/articles/video/video/2016/03/bald_eagle_chicks_hatched_at_national_arboretum_video.html

Laysan Albatross by Linda van den Heever:  https://twitter.com/LindavdHeever/status/738811736409681921/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Red-Tailed Hawk feeding newborn by keysfishin:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/81381146@N06/26491567641/in/photostream/

Bald Eagles with two eaglets:  https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ckhh94GWUAA2AxS.jpg

Bald Eagle with Freedom and Liberty: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23dceaglecam&src=tyah

Video of Liberty & Freedom dancing in the rain/© 2016 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG”

Laysan Albatross chick practicing wing-flapping skills:  https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CkiOKYCVAAAsLbL.jpg

Red-Tailed Hawk taking flight by keysfishin:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/81381146@N06/26953158963/

Bald Eagle adult with juvenile:  https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=juvenile+bald+eagle+fishing+with+adult&view=detailv2&&id=B46BB7286E88F6C4170CC1682DC880085885587F&selectedIndex=1&ccid=NqGIBWck&simid=607997538543667549&thid=OIP.M36a188056724e13121ed5f3373687b56o0&ajaxhist=0

Baby Learning to Walk photo:  http://www.fellowship.ca/AWordFromSteve

Flying Bald Eaglehttps://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Free+Pictures+of+Bald+Eagles+In-Flight&view=detailv2&&id=371DEF5AFFC30C6C9055F494279CDFB0566974F0&selectedIndex=56&ccid=SSmBjioE&simid=608035965620391302&thid=OIP.M4929818e2a049a1f248cb977a990d061o0&ajaxhist=0

**  LYRICS “I’LL FLY AWAY” AS REPRINTED IN “ALBERT E. BRUMLEY’S OLDE CAMP MEETIN’ SONGS.” Camdenton, Missouri, 1971, p. 11;© 1932, renewed 1960 Albert E. Brumley and Sons.

A Land Flowing with Milk and Honey

lambs-pasture-3-1024x796

I recently wrote of ways a shepherd needs to care for his flock of sheep so that they would be content and enabled to lie down.  One such way was assuring that his sheep had food.  Pastures need to be fertile and lush.  God desired a rich and fertile land for His children as well.  He promised that.

“‘…and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’  Exodus 3:17

חָלָב

chalab

milk (as the richness of kine):— cheese, milk, sucking; abundance of the land, choicest, best part, abundance (of products of the land)

דְּבַשׁ

dĕbash

to be gummy; honey (from its stickiness); by analogy, syrup:—honey(-comb); a delicacy provided by nature

At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land.  And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.  And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.”  Numbers 13:25-27

This land was just as God promised, yet the doubt overcame all but two spies.

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the people of Israel.  And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, “The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land.  If the LORD delights in us, He will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey.  Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.”  Numbers 14:5-9

The children of Israel did not enter in at that time.

This beautiful land continued to be a promise of God’s.  He prepared the land that it would supply nourishment and a place to live when the time was right.

W. Phillip Keller writes:

“… green pastures are essential to success with sheep.  When lambs are maturing and the ewes need green, succulent feed for a heavy milk flow, there is no substitute for good pasturage.

“In the Scriptures, the picture portrayed of the Promised Land … was that of a “land flowing with milk and honey.”  Not only is this figurative language, but also essentially scientific terminology.  In agricultural terms we speak of a “milk flow” and “honey flow.”  By this we mean the peak season of spring and summer when pastures are at their most productive stages.  The livestock that feed on the forage and the bees that visit the blossoms are said to be producing a corresponding “flow” of milk or honey.  So a land flowing with milk and honey is a land of rich, green, luxuriant pastures.” **

God spoke of this land for His children, wanting the best for them.  He wanted to see them living in abundance…filled with joy, life, contentment, and love for one another.

God supplies this rich land and, as our Good Shepherd, He leads us into the land of milk and honey.

At the same time, though, we have a choice.  We can feed there and find peace and plenty.  Or we can go off on our own, feeding on dry ground, on poor, foraged pastures.

The Good Shepherd wants the very best for us.  It is His way or the other way.

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.  Matthew 21:43

 

For He remembered His holy promise,

and Abraham, His servant.

So He brought His people out with joy,

His chosen ones with singing.

 And He gave them the lands of the nations,

and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil,

that they might keep His statutes

and observe His laws.

Praise the Lord! 

Psalm 105:32-45

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But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.  James 3:17

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Galatians 5:22-23

LORD, may I, Your sheep, follow You into this beautiful pasture where the flow of Your riches is continual.  I can know peace and joy, love and kindness, gentleness and mercy there.  May I turn to You always so that I am being drawn to the fullness of Your grace and mercy all of the time.  As I shelter beneath the span of Your wings, I can come to know the essence of this richness, this vital and pure milk and honey because I am safe and near to You, my Shepherd.  Thank You, LORD, for being patient and loving with me, guiding me to Your readied pasture.  May I follow You always.  In the beautiful Name of Jesus, I pray.  Amen.

 

beblacksig

Photo:http://www.shepherdsongfarm.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/lambs-pasture-3-1024×796.jpg

**  excerpt from “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”

Photo:  http://wallcoo.net/nature/land-photography/html/wallpaper20.html