Ballet of the Barn Swallows

Swooping, turning, diving, climbing, circling, in and out, a maze of movement and color, the barn swallows envelop the tractor as I mow the horse pasture. Constant energy, intricate designs, all apparently orchestrated by the unseen hand of God through the instinct He as imparted to them. It was over ten years ago that I realized the first part of a spiritual truth as I watched the beauty of their simulated aerial combat; loops and swirls, tight turns and weaves, crossing each other’s paths, all to capture the succulent insect dinners the mower deck urged skyward. I had recently left a job of 20 years and the steady income it represented. Future employment was uncertain. Doubts about my worth and ability to contribute to our needs flooded over me. Yet, there were the barn swallows, without care or concern, because they “birds of the air”, were being provided for by a faithful and loving Lord. I realized a couple of things then; that I was to trust the Lord to provide for Ellen and me and that, often, when God provides, He first creates a turmoil such as I was stirring up in the pasture.  Every time I’ve returned to mowing each season since then, the barn swallows have also returned to perform their beautiful ballet once more. Now I see an even deeper truth to their delicate sky born dance; many hard winters have passed, yet both they and we are here still. Again this Spring we watched with delight as mother and father daily fed their babies till they could take flight on their own. He’s met our needs just as clearly even though the last full time job I had was three years ago when I was downsized and forced to retire. Many have been instruments in God “stirring” our “pasture” for us, for which we are truly thankful. As for the future, the Lord is true to His Word, His Promises: “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more than they?” (Mt. 6:26)

Yes, we are. Yes, we are.

This entry was posted on July 23, 2014.

The 12 Steps: Another view (The Jordan Model)

In recent years, the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous have been applied to help people successfully deal with a variety of life-damaging problems.  I believe the primary reason for the effectiveness of the Steps lies in the fact they follow the Bibical Priorities listed in scripture of  putting God first, then Self, then Others.          The Lord yput a geographic example of this flow that exists in Israel to this day, which I call “The Jordan Model”.  The Jordan, which means “descending” is the main source of fresh water in Israel.  It originates at the base of Mt. Hermann, some 3300 feet above sea level and flows freely downhill to the Sea of Galilee (each individual self) and out to form the lower Jordan (others).  Scriptures that demonstrate this priority list, include Gen. 12:1-3, John 15:5¸ II Cor 1:3-4,, John 7:37-38, Matt. 22:37-40, I Pet.4:10 and Chapters 1-3 of Jonah. The flow of the Jordan supplies what is needed for the Sea of Galilee to have its identity as well as what it needs to be “living water”; the flow into the Sea and out again assures life.  The Dead Sea further down the Jordan, proves it needs more than a source in order to be alive, it needs an outlet. How the God, Self, and Others (“Jordan  Model” relates to the 12 Steps is that Steps 1, 2, 3 and 11 put God first in our lives.  Steps 4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10 help us to choose changes (with God’s direction and strength) in our behavior that will keep the flow coming in and going out.  Steps 8,9  (“swing steps”) and 12 help us to share with others that which we have received; which is the purpose for any blessings the Lord gives us.  It also assures we stay alive in every sense of the word; Spirit, Soul and Body. Three “S-Words”, also illustrate why the 12 Steps are so effective and reflect the Truth of God’s Word: Surrender   Sacrifice and Service.  Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary says that the word SURRENDER means. . . “to yield to the power of another. . . especially voluntarily, in favor of another . . . as to surrender a right or a privilege.” This would relate directly to what Steps 1,2,3, and 11 are suggesting:  to voluntarily choose to let go of the power we think we have when we try to control people places, things and situations we can’t control.  We need to surrender to the fact that we are not God and He is! In this respect it would seem that God has control he sometimes chooses not to use, while we try to use control we never have. The word SACRIFICE has the following definition . . .”to give up a valued thing for the sake of something of greater value or having a more pressing claim.” In our current culture the view of sacrifice seems to be : “giving up something of greater value for something of lesser value”, a distortion that negatively effects both society and the Church.  The first definition, however, seems to fit the process that occurs when we take Steps 4,5,6,7,8,9 and 10. Each of these Steps helps, as AA says, “to clean house”.  We give up behaviors and attitudes we have valued highly all our lives, but which, in reality, have been hurting more than helping ourselves and others.  We then begin to learn and accept our limits, seeing ourselves neither as “god” or as “Garbage” , but (through God’s Inexaustable Grace) as worthwhile children of God.  We can now let go of being  prideful, passive, blaming, angry, controlling, aggressive, doormats, irresponsible, defensive, selfish, and so on as we begin taking on the mind and actions of Christ, choosing behaviors that enable us to both receive blessings from God and to share with others.  This, I believe, is true “sacrificial living.”  In terms of the Jordan Model, it would mean the choices I make at both ends of the Sea of Galilee to keep the “living water” flowing. The word SERVICE is interesting in light of the fact there are more than 70 different definitions stemming from the root word, serve. One of those is “…helpful, beneficial, or friendly actions or conduct, [the] act of giving assistance or advantage to another.”  This would seem to apply directly to Steps 8,9, and 12. What is so compelling about the word Service to me is that as we practice Surrender (to God) and Sacrifice (of self), we seem to produce a larger, more consistent, healthy and variety of service (to others) than we can under our own limited strength and resources.  In fact, our ability to serve has a fresh, living and lasting quality to it that never seems to run out. Some Christians have shared with me they have problems with the Twelve Steps.  Perhaps looking at them from the viewpoint of Surrender, Sacrifice and Service will help provide a more positive perception.  I see them simply as practical tools that help me live Scriptural Truth by allowing the  Holy Spirit (often referred to as “living water” in Scripture) to flow freely into and out of me. This is especially clear when I look at the life of Jesus, The Messiah, which is a perfect example of Surrender, Sacrifice and Service.  Even though He was equal to God The Father, He chose to voluntarily yield to the power of another; to surrender His rights and privileges and to demonstrate that we can surrender, too. His death on the Cross is what we usually relate to the word Sacrifice.  He gave up something of great value; his life, power and relationship with His Father, for something of greater value to Him; our redemption.  He became the “once for all sacrifice” so that the wages of sin, death, could be defeated and we could be reconciled to The Father and enjoy life with Him forever. As to service, it boggles my mind to even begin to try to comprehend the magnitude and scope of service received by human beings as a result of Jesus’ Surrender and Sacrifice; far greater than the pain and suffering represented by either.  His actions of Surrender and Sacrifice will continue to produce Service that literally is ETERNAL!!! Do I dare to follow in His Steps?     Copy and Paste this link to see the current condition of the Jordan and what happens when we pollute His blessings.   www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tbofRZVhB8

This entry was posted on July 20, 2014.

Taken Home

 

The year was 1986.  My wife, son and I had been called to a deathwatch for a family friend.  John and Alice were older when we met them shortly after we became Christians in 1977.  For nearly 10 years, they were like surrogate parents for us, as well as grandparents for our two children.  This day, however, John was dying and Alice had told us he likely would not last the day.  Our son, Chris, went over to be with Alice until my wife Ellen and I could get off work and join them.

We arrived late in the afternoon and all moved into the living room to wait.  John’s hospital bed was in an adjoining room, but I was the only one who could clearly see him from where I was sitting.  As we talked, something caught my eye.  It is still hard to describe, but one thing I know; there was movement…Upward movement.  I can’t define it’s color or shape or anything more distinctive than to say it was a rising presence that was gone in less than a gasp!

I knew immediately what had happened.  I gently called to Alice and my family, “I believe he’s gone.  I just saw him leave.” and I told them what I had seen.  We went to his bedside, seeking a pulse, but John was already safely in Our Father’s arms.  That privileged, awesome and incomparable  sight has served ever since to strengthen, comfort and encourage me for the moment when my own earthly life will end and Jesus Messiah will take me home  “. . . in the twinkling of an eye”!

 

Prayer:  Lord, we thank You that You always keep every promise You make.  Amen

 

Thought for the day

Jesus once told me “My love is beyond your understanding, but it is not beyond your experience.”

Jerry Izor (Ohio)

 

Prayer Focus:   Those who fear death.

 

This entry was posted on May 28, 2014.

Shining Moment

Every four years I lose sleep.  The Olympics; the trials, the efforts, the energies of the athletes fascinate me.  Each Olympiad, there are new heroes, people who rise to the occasion both in winning and in losing.

At the end of the first week of the 27th Olympiad in 2000, I was losing sleep as usual when I was privileged to see a remarkable story begin to unfold.

A 22-year-old woman from Texas, Laura Wilkinson, was competing for the U.S.A. in platform diving.  She was in 8th place with the heavily favored  Chinese women already in the top two spots.

I was drawn to something she did before every one of her five dives.

Family, friends and others in the crowd would start cheering loudly as she reached the platform.  Each time, she would look in their direction and give them such a peaceful and precious smile that it was beyond description.

At first I couldn’t imagine anyone doing that before diving.  All the other women were focused, somber, all business before their dives, but Laura smiled, everytime connecting with those who loved her and were encouraging her.

Each dive seemed to be better than the one before while those of her opponents faltered.  Slowly she climbed in the rankings: 5th, 4th, and finally 1st!  Each time she stopped and smiled and each time the dive excelled in the judges’ eyes.

What made the whole event even more awe-inspiring was that last March, Laura had broken three bones in her right foot and they hadn’t healed.  She was facing more surgery once the competition was over.  For three months she could not dive, but during all that time, she said she kept running each dive over and over in her mind, perfecting her take off, her twists, summersaults and entries.  When the U.S. trials came, she won a spot on the team, fighting through the pain that would still be with her in Sydney.

After she won the gold Sunday, an interviewer asked her, “What were you thinking all that time you were trying to catch the leaders?”  Laura’s reply?  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

The interviewer, a bit taken aback, then asked, “What were you doing when you would stop and acknowledge the crowd before each dive?”  She said something to the effect that it had been so hard for her to get here that she didn’t want to miss a minute of the experience.  Spiritually, the Lord seemed to reveal to me that what she had done before each effort, was to allow herself to soak up the love and encouragement of Jesus being poured out through those in the crowd.

Laura Wilkinson won the gold medal, but her most shining moments came each time she smiled; receiving from others, then reflecting to others, the Love of Christ. Click on this link to see her remarkable comeback to win Olympic Gold: http://www.laurawilkinson.com/videos.htm

This entry was posted on May 21, 2014.

Where Was God?

WHERE WAS GOD?

 

“Where was God when……”  How many times I have heard a client say that to me during a counseling session when they have been telling me of a painful, traumatic time in their past.  “Where was God?  Why did He let me go through this terrible time, this terrible experience, this senseless pain?  If He is really a God of love, then how can He allow so much suffering….How can He allow ME to suffer?”

 

These questions most often arise in sessions with clients who have been sexually abused.  One of the reasons I believe that childhood incest and other sexual abuse is so devastating and deep-seated lies in the fact that the experience seems to almost uniformly distort the victim’s view of God.  We know that abuse of any kind produces a profound sense of abandonment, separation, a sense of aloneness for the child that haunts her/him into adulthood.   Such events can permanently lower brain chemicals, such as Seretonin, and distort  perceptions,  feelings, thinking, and choices long after the event has passed.

When a child is abused by a primary caregiver/provider, the child’s perception is that s/he has been abused by God because it is from our parents, our primary caregivers, that we first learn the concept of one who is greater than ourselves, a higher authority.

 

The child, as s/he matures, does not seem to be able to separate their view of God from the view they have of their parents.  There does not need to be violent, physical abuse to produce this belief.  Neglect or verbal abuse; shaming, will serve the same purpose.

 

So where was God when this abuse and/or neglect was going on?  A single, unique event in history, the crucifixion of Jesus, provides a powerful insight to this question.

 

Scripture tells us in Isaiah 52 and 53 that Messiah, the Anointed One, would suffer a death that would free all who chose to accept His sacrificial act.  We often hear from God’s Word that “Jesus died for our sins.”  But there is more to that phrase than meets the eye.  What came to me one day in pondering the question, “Where was God?”, was the fact, supported by scripture, that Jesus took on our EXACT pain, suffering, turmoil, shame, aloneness, fear, guilt, illnesses, and beyond…. everything that was sin, or the product of sin, Jesus, at one point in time, one moment in history, took upon Himself and made His.  He did not take on some generic form of sin and pain that represented ours.  He took on, experienced, my/our, EXACT sin and pain.

 

So what has that to do with the answer to the question of God’s whereabouts?  It has everything to do with it!  If it is true that Jesus took upon Himself, ALL SIN AND ANY RESULT OF SIN, then the answer to the question of God’s whereabouts when I have gone through pain and suffering, or go through it in the future, is clear.  The one answer that makes any sense is that God Incarnate was experiencing our pain with us!  He was there!!  We have not been abandoned!  He is not without love and capricious.  He dealt with the situation in the one way that would eventually give us a way out of pain and suffering, a way out of sin!

God apparently decided a long time ago that what He wanted for the human race was the opportunity to have a CHOICE!  Otherwise we would be robots, incapable of choosing to have a relationship with Him out of our own free will–incapable of loving Him.  Knowing we would exercise our choice in such a way as to cause separation from Him (sin), He provided a way out, both in the here and now and eternally.  He would take away all of the things which estrange us from Him and dump them as you would so much garbage.  But to do so, He had to come as a real man and die a real death so you and I could be REAL!

 

Don’t we as parents, spouses, family members, and friends often try to take away painful feelings and circumstances those WE love are experiencing?  We try to, but we don’t have that power.  Jesus did for us what we cannot do for ourselves or others: free us from the pain and suffering He knew was coming.  In that one moment on the cross, all of human history, past, present, and future, was focused on the Lord Jesus so that anything that would block us from Him could be destroyed and thrown away forever!  So that any loss we would suffer could, in some way and time, be paid back in full and even more!

 

Isaiah 53:4 & 5 shows us that Jesus, the Messiah, “…took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities…”.  His death was so real that Isaiah 52 implies that taking on our sin and suffering so distorted His features that He was unrecognizable!  He took on OUR EXACT PAINS, GRIEFS, BURDENS, and ABUSE, AS WELL AS OUR SINS!

 

A friend of mine recently became ill and couldn’t care for her house.  Some of her friends went over and cleaned it from top to bottom.  They didn’t clean up dirt and trash that was similar to her’s or that looked like her’s.  They cleaned up her EXACT DIRT!  Jesus did the same thing in one moment in time for all of us.  He knows what you and I have and are experiencing because He has already experienced it!  He chose to do this for a couple of reasons:

 

  1. To prove how valuable we are to Him.
  2. To demonstrate, in the clearest possible terms, that He has provided a way for us to be healed, both now and forever: Spirit, Soul and Body.

 

He couldn’t prevent us or others from choosing sin or being affected by sin without violating our free will, but He found the one way out.  “…the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” (Isa.53:5b NIV).

 

Where was God when you were being abused, violated, hurt, shamed, cheated, betrayed?  HE WAS THERE!  He also is there when you sin and cause pain to others!  And, He promises that He always will be!  (Heb.13:5)

 

 

Jerry Izor

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on April 23, 2014.

The Church @ En-gedi

 

The Church @ En-gedi

         En-gedi is an oasis located near the southwestern shore of the Dead Sea.  It is a source of “living water” : God’s Gracethat originates from an inexhaustible spring which has been steadily flowing for thousands of  years in the wilderness of Judea where little or nothing grows.  At the site of the spring, water flows out of the hillside fresh and clear providing growth of vegetation in the immediate area, as well as quenching thirst for any traveler.           Is there a church at En-gedi?  No, not physically… but spiritually.  En-gedi can serve as a model for all churches that profess Jesus as Savior and Lord and through whom the “living water” of the Holy Spirit freely flows.           To me, Friday Home Group is just such a church.  We are off the beaten path; one has to be searching or be drawn in order to find us, but the outpouring of God’s love and hope is clearly visible when in our midst.           My prayer is that we will be steadfast in allowing the little “Oasis” on Welsh Hills road to keep flowing and to guide other weary travelers to the “living water” God is providing.    Some may come to stay, others for only a time of refreshment and healing as they travel to another place and purpose prescribed by the Lord.           As we receive “life” from  Messiah, may we daily “live in Him and  then pass that “life” on to others as He directs.           Come all in need:  click this link and view video of the actual spring:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNGf6wGYJi4nd drink!

This entry was posted on April 9, 2014.

Seeds and Apples

 

Seeds and Apples

 

I recently heard a man say, “You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed.”  That thought has been germinating, if you will, ever since, and it has grown some encouragement in my spirit from the Lord.

As Christians, we each are given the opportunity to share our faith in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord with those Messiah puts in our lives.  Like a golden apple, the Gospel represents the fruit of life; eternal life.  Each of us is given the apple to eat and be nourished eternally ourselves, but with seeds to be planted so that others may live as well.

My favorite scripture is John 15:1-11, in which Jesus talks about how we can produce an abundant amount of spiritual fruit if we abide in Him, the True Vine.  I’ve always wanted to be a producer of that fruit, to be the literal fulfillment of John 15:5, but now the Lord has shown me my focus all these years has been too narrow.  I’ve always pictured fruit as a single thing or action, something tangible that I could see and know I had accomplished.  But as I’ve looked at my life, I haven’t found much in the way of the fruit I’ve been expecting and hoping for.  I’ve missed the point that spiritual fruit is a result of abiding in Christ, being filled with and led by the Spirit daily allowing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control to be evident in my life.

I was given my golden apple, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, on December 7th, 1977.  I can remember it had seeds in it, but I’m not sure how many.  I had hoped there were still some left to be planted, but now the Lord is telling me to remember that each seed represents an apple tree, not a single apple and that the fruit produced cannot be numbered this side of heaven.

 

This entry was posted on April 7, 2014.

There are NO Absolutes!!!

 

“There are NO absolutes!”

“Really?  Is that so?”

“Yes!”

“Okay. That’s one.”

“What?  What do you mean ?     I just said there are NO absolutes and you agreed with me.  How can you say, “…that’s one?

“Well, if there are no absolutes and that statement is accurate, then there must be at least ONE

absolute. Right?”

“Uh, right.  Okay that’s the only absolute then.”

“Then that’s two”

“What kind of logic is that?  Okay, Okay.  Then there aren’t any more absolutes!  We’re done!’

“That’s three.  Want to go for four?”

“Wait, wait.  You don’t understand.  Let me put it this way.  There is no absolute truth!”

“No truth?”

“Yes!”

“That’s four.”

“No, listen, everyone knows that everything is relative!”

“That’s five!”

“You’re an idiot!  You aren’t using your head!  Listen to me! Truth is different for each individual.

“THERE IS NO UNIVERSAL STANDARD OF TRUTH!!!”

“Each person makes up his own truth?  Each person does what is right in his own eyes?  There is no universal standard of Truth?”

“Exactly!”

“That’s also six.”

 

 

“You are the most ignorant, exasperating person I’ve ever met!  You have no idea what you’re talking about!”

“None?”

“NO!  Not in any way shape or form!”

“That’s seven.”

“This is insane!  Give me ONE example of a universal truth!”

‘How about, ‘what goes up, must come down?”

“I can’t believe I’m having this conversation!  Okay, that’s the law of Gravity.”

“That’s eight.  And how about, ‘…for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction?” Or

‘…everything is going from a state of order to a state of disorder.?”

“Well…if you’re going to throw scientific jargon at me.”

“That’s nine and ten.”

“Okay.  Okay.  But that’s it!  And don’t say that’s eleven, either.  You’ll have to do better than that!”

“All right.  How about?  ‘I AM the Way and the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, but by ME?’”

“I can’t trust that statement!  It’s Jesus, right?  He’s saying He’s the Savior of mankind and that to go to heaven you have to accept HIM and ONLY Him, Right?”

“Right!”

“No.  I have to know something’s true before I’ll believe it.  I have to know without a doubt that it’s right!”

“You mean like, ‘…everybody dies?” Another absolute?”

“Oh.”

“You’ve been proven wrong twelve out of twelve times.  So whose word is more reliable?  Yours, or Jesus’?”

 

This entry was posted on March 29, 2014.

Izorian Law chart

 

“The Izorian Law”

Addiction =

Short-Term Pleasure

producing

Long-Term Pain

©1991 Jerry Izor  LICDC

 

 

 

 

“The Izorian Law”

Recovery =

Short-Term Pain

producing

Long-Term Pleasure

©1991 Jerry Izor  LICDC

 

 

 

 

(Genesis 3:1-24)

 

*If I choose Short-Term Pleasure that actually produces Long-Term Pain, then Ill always have more Pain than Pleasure. That’s the Law.

 

 

(Luke 23:32-43)

* If I choose Short-Term Pain that actually produces Long-Term Pleasure, then Ill always have more Pleasure than Pain.  That’s the law

(Reproducible handout)

This entry was posted on March 21, 2014.

The Izorian Law ( brief explaination)

I worship the God of  second chances, so I’d like to start my blog over.  Basically, as I’m certain you’ve figured out, the “Izorian Law isn’t mine at all, but comes from the most reliable source there is.  Briefly stated the law is:  If you are choosing Short-Term Pleasure, but it actually is producing Long-Term Pain, then the law kicks in  and you’ll always have more pain than pleasure.  I use this as my definition of Addiction when counseling someone, regardless of the nature of the addiction, or how it is labled.   One simply cannot come out ahead.  For example, if I spend more than I make, and continue to do so, I’ll go more and more in debt.    (If only Congress could learn and accept this truth).   So the question is,  Is what I’m doing getting me more or less of what I want?  If  it is less, do I want to keep doing it?   The good news:  We get to make a choice; the bad news is we have to make a choice.  Addicts consistantly choose Short-Term Pleasure that actually produces Long-Term Pain.

This entry was posted on March 20, 2014.