Gateposts

Here in Scotland, a rock mansion was built in 1790, complete with ornate stone gateposts.

After he inherited it, owner James Douglas Fletcher spent an enormous amount of his wealth creating “a mansion to supersede all others.” Rosehaugh premiered as an elaborate four-square, three-story, 60-room showplace of unbelievable opulence, built with the finest construction materials, and filled with valuable furnishings from around the world. The mansion to supersede all others was completed in 1893. A mere 66 years later, the mansion was demolished. Today, 121 years later, all that remains of Rosehaugh are two ornate stone gateposts leading to nowhere.

That’s a good warning to us. We build our lives every day. Are we building something permanent that will remain when we leave this earth, or are we building grand and eloquent gateposts to nothing?

It is not wrong for Christians to have and to spend money. The Bible encourages us to work. It promises that in all labor there is profit. It tells us to work with all our might. It affirms the right of Christians to get paid for working. “He who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope…the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:10-14)

If we work and are rewarded financially with a good income, we should have the freedom to spend what is left after God’s tithe on whatever will benefit us in this life so we can continue to be productive. But how wide is the gap between what we really need and what we build? Are we building to impress others, or building gateposts in Heaven?

Once I lived under a bridge in the back of a pickup truck, painting signs for meals and washing myself and my clothes in the river – even on the coldest days of winter. I had little, but I had everything I needed.

Once I lived in an open-ended garden center. I had no bathroom facilities, no kitchen facilities, no air conditioning in the 100-plus degree summers and very little heat on the 16-degree winter days. I took showers with the cold water in the garden hose and slept on a lawn chair mattress on top of three wooden planks. Toads, birds, a wild cat, and other critters came in and out to visit. I had everything I needed. I had Jesus.

I’ve been without things that most people view as necessities, but I’ve never been poor.

“The blessing of the LORD, it makes rich.” Proverbs 10:22.

Jesus encouraged, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20, 21)

As commanding as it was in its time, Rosehaugh is gone. Two stone gateposts stand as reminders that not even an enormous amount of wealth spent on things in this world can secure them or make them permanent.

Jesus is the only foundation for eternal life. Living for Him is just as possible under a bridge or in a derelict half-shell of a building as it is in a palace or grandiose showplace like Rosehaugh.

Jesus was born in a stable. His first visitors were poor shepherds, hated and despised by the wealthy. We have a God that cannot be bought or sold for money; One Who only accepts the freewill offering of our hearts.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Feather in the Wind

The old cliché birds of a feather flock together proves itself daily here in Fortrose, Scotland. Crows congregate in the stand of evergreen trees along Rosemarkie Beach and seagulls monopolize the rock-strewn mouth of the stream that gladdens the glen. Being sociable critters, they do mix and mingle – but at the end of the day – they are totally segregated.

Jesus named God’s greatest commandments as loving Him first, then loving other people as much as we love ourselves. First John explains: “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another…let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth…let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God…God is love.”

Jesus’ Holy Spirit draws Christians together. Like birds, we gravitate toward other Christians in joyous fellowship. Unlike birds, however, we should never segregate ourselves from non-Christians. The way we conduct our lives may be the only Bible that some people ever read. We need to be close enough they can see the print!

The famous passage in Ecclesiastes states, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” There is a time and a reason for segregation. It’s called sin. Christians are commanded by the Bible to come away from sin and be separate.

Just as the ground at the cross is level and everyone born into this world has an equal opportunity to reach out to Jesus for salvation and forgiveness, so too are sins level. Viewing actions from our human perspective we condemn murder as the ultimate crime. Yet God hates all sin. The same God who said, “Thou shalt not murder,” also called profanity, gossip, evil speaking, pride, and anger sins and forbid them. Under God’s law, the penalty for sin is death. Any sin. Anger as well as murder.

Thankfully, Jesus died for us so that we can be forgiven and have eternal life. We don’t have to die for our sins. Jesus already did that. Even so, to know something is wrong and do it anyway is rather like nailing Jesus to the cross again. That’s why things like clean conversation and lifestyle, both in my life and in my books, is important to me.

Want to live a victorious life with such deep peace and joy that no circumstance can uproot it? Release sin, cling fast to God. Dare to be a feather in the wind, dependent on God for the journey.

http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Hanger Sex

I credit the late American humorist Erma Bombeck, newspaper columnist and author of 15 books, for alerting me to the fact that hangers have sex.

 Actually, I didn’t believe Bombeck when I read it in one of her columns. She alluded to the well known fact that clothes dryers periodically get the munchies and eat socks, but only one of each pair of course – to heighten the entertainment value. Then she disclosed the secret that clothes hangers reproduce.

 At the time Bombeck revealed the truth about hangers and closet sex, I didn’t believe her because I could never find enough hangers. When I moved to Scotland two years ago, I still had my doubts. Shirts were hanging two and three on one hanger because of the shortage. Then we had an unusually warm summer here in Scotland, meaning it got about as warm as Texas stays in the winter. And it happened. Scads of empty hangers. Sex leading to procreation, it seems pretty clear about what happens when the closet doors shut and it’s warmer than usual.

 Hangers are not the only things that reproduce wildly and crowd space. Mean, cruel, wounding words and profanity steal and kill joy, feeding off the carcasses to multiply sorrows. This is why there are so many verses in the Bible warning us to guard our tongues and use them as trees of life instead of weapons.

 I love reading! My choice is mystery-romance-suspense. One reason I decided to write what I love reading is to provide Christians with exciting action-packed books – without the profanity, drinking, and risky lifestyle choices in a lot of other fiction.

 Bridge to Nowhere, published by Sunpenny, finds older protagonist Texan Miz Mike hunting down mysteries and romance. She can’t help it that she’s funny and gets herself into “pickles,” she just can’t let an adventure pass by unmolested.

 Love’s Beating Heart is a parallel adventure story. Pregnant teen Natasha and best friend Dena find themselves plunging down a flooded river on a quest to “save Baby” from the abortion her parents have demanded. Meanwhile, Dena’s older sister Cat escapes from an abusive boyfriend and is rescued by a Christian homeschooling family. Cat thinks they’re crazy – but she would like to claim dad Skylar for herself.

 My favorite of my Christian mystery-romance-suspense books is probably my first, Heart Shadows. Set in the Nevada desert and full of Native American history and desert scenery, Hear Shadows is a gripping story.

 Shadow Chase and Until the Shadows Flee are set in the Texas Hill Country, as is the soon-to-be published Fear of Shadows. So…my Amazon Author’s Page will soon have six mystery-romance-suspense books listed on it. It’s expanding – sort of like the hangers!

 http://www.amazon.com/Stephanie-Parker-McKean/e/B00BOX90OO/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

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Designing a spiderweb

Spiderwebs serve as metaphors for tangled facets or confusing patterns of human life, even though they are intricately engineered and designed.

Even the strongest and most creative spiderwebs depend on outside support. The fine silken threads must be attached to a frame before they can be woven into patterns of life and death – continued life for the spider, death for unwary insects that crash into the web.

Even when not tangled or confused, our lives resemble spiderwebs. With the creative and engineering wisdom that God gives us, we can transform our lives from the loose ends of our dreams into something lasting and beautiful. Like the spiderweb, we need outside support to make it stick. Families and friends can help hold the threads while we weave them into  patterns, but that is temporary help at best. Only Jesus can pin those threads to the wings of hope and fly us over obstacles that would impede and destroy.

Atheists tie their webs to the clouds. They don’t need God, they don’t need Jesus, they don’t need Christians. They don’t need to become Christians. They can do it on their own. They build webs to the sky and boast loudly of their success and victory. But one day, the wind of death blows into the web, shearing the threads, bending and tearing the pattern, folding the unsupported web into a broken tangle.

The wind of death blows into the lives of Christians, too. It hits with just as much fury and relentless energy. But the web, pinned to the wings of Jesus, is safe, secure and supported. Spiders may die, wind-torn webs may fall, but those who love Jesus pass through the shadow of death into God’s presence where they are forever safe from pain, injury, fear, death or danger.

Webs tied to clouds have no future.

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Walking on Water

You’ve probably heard people say, “I’ll believe it when I see it with my own eyes.” The eyes are a poor benchmark for truth. I saw someone walk on water today.

Here I was wet up to my knees from plunging into the outgoing tide to retrieve the dog’s ball. I look out across Moray Firth to the lighthouse and see someone walking on water.  It startles me. “Only Jesus can walk on water,” I say to Angel Joy who is more interested in getting the ball back than in what Jesus did. I’m thinking, “If I could have walked on water, I wouldn’t be wet and cold now.”

When I get closer, I realize that whoever is walking on water is actually standing on something. Then I feel better about being wet and cold.

That’s just one example of how our eyes can trick us. All of our senses are vulnerable to deception. Atheists hit those vulnerable spots when they attack our faith. “Look at the world,” they say. “If God is a God of love, why is there hate, war, crime and hurt? Show me proof that God exists.”

When you try to explain that sin, not God, causes everything evil and bad in the world, they don’t want to hear and they refuse to accept. Instead of honestly seeking the truth for themselves, they laser beam their energy to cut down your spiritual foundation of faith and truth.

Don’t fall into that trap. The proof is in our hearts. When we have Jesus in our hearts, we know He is there. Nothing including vitriolic attacks or faulty accusations and arguments from the world can shake our faith. We know that we know that we know.

The evidence of God’s existence is everywhere in every part of the earth. Here in the lovely Black Isle of Scotland, God’s voice speaks from the water. His creation reflects His glory in color and beauty in every rock, on every hill, in the soft petals of each flower blossom and along the flaming rims of sunrises and sunsets. God is as close as the next heartbeat the next breath. But it’s hard to convince someone who doesn’t want to hear or see for fear of losing their own authority and giving place to God.

So when you think you see someone walking on water, look into your heart and see what your spirit has seen. Trust the evidence of God in your heart whether He speaks in a still small voice or in the mighty roar of storms and waves.

The Bible advises: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 2:5Image