Archive for the 'The Bible' Category

Cyrus and the Bathroom Conversation

By Kathy NickersonMay 16th, 2016mercy, The BibleNo Comments

Aunt Frankie says if you visit with people long enough, every conversation ends up in the bathroom. She must be right, because our entire nation ended up there this weekend.

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Who uses which bathroom, and who has the right to make that decision are suddenly complex problems in our nation. Although I would think world hunger, the national debt, people blowing other people to bits, and the crime rate in our cities might be slightly higher on the to-do list for our elected officials.

But, what do I know?

I know this: Someone even bigger than our government is in control of how things ultimately work out in this world. I don’t know if bathrooms are on His list. But I know He has all the answers. For instance, consider Cyrus . . .

A prophet named Isaiah first mentioned Cyrus back in about 700 b.c.. Isaiah told the people living in Jerusalem that God had called a man named Cyrus to rescue them from their captivity, bring them out of exile, and restore them back to their own land, nation, and place of worship.

Imagine that. The prophet dared to list the man by name. As if he were predicting the next presidential election. Or, more accurately, as if he were predicting the presidential election of 2116. Because, he wrote these words nearly one-hundred years before anyone in Jerusalem had been taken captive to Babylon.

Isaiah told his readers a man named Cyrus was going to fix a problem that would not even happen for more than one hundred years.

It worked exactly that way, of course. After Isaiah and most of the people alive when he was writing had died, Babylon invaded. Jerusalem fell. People suffered in exile for decades. But, eventually, a baby named Cyrus was born. When he grew up and became king, he let the people go.

When I was trying to learn a little more about this Persian king, I came across the most wonderful quote from a scholar. This one comforts me in the light of who may or may not be president next year and how we are going to choose bathrooms next week:

Rich princes do what poor prophets have foretold. Matthew Henry

That’s the way it has always been with God, Dear Reader. He isn’t just a step ahead of whatever mess we are in today, nationally or personally. He is in control.

God has ordered the solution to our problems since long before Cyrus was born. We can count on that no matter where the national conversation takes us.

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Why I Pray

By Kathy NickersonMay 2nd, 2016happy endings, mercy, The Bible2 Comments

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I came of age in my faith at a time when the popular kids were into something we called Name-it-and-Claim-it! Or Blab-it-and-Grab-it. The theology went like this: If you want a cadillac and big house, you just start declaring, out loud, that God should give you those things. You say it loud enough and long enough, and the Good Lord will have to come through.

If you didn’t get your car, you must not have had enough faith.

This post isn’t meant as a treatise on prayer or on the finer theological points of any specific movement in the church world. I’m just writing to say this: I never got a free car.

But, I still pray.

I believe in prayer the same way I believe in my ability to breathe. I don’t understand it fully. I know that I didn’t create it, but I can control some things about it. And, I know I can’t live without it.

Prayer is both a great mystery and a perfectly normal part of my life. It is a conversation and a relationship.

If you read my novels, you will see that people in my stories pray in various ways and situations. Prayer is not a plot device in the books. It is a character trait.

This week, our nation is concentrating on a specific Day of Prayer. I think this is a good and noble thing. A taking notice of something that should be a part of our every day lives. Because sometimes we should stand on a hill, take a deep breath, and be fully aware of what we are doing.

Have I seen prayer change things? Absolutely. Have I been shocked by miraculous answers? Indeed. Have I been crushed when some of the answers to my prayers were “no”? Of course. Have I prayed some prayers for decades and seen no hint of an answer yet? Yes, to that one, too.

And, yet, I shall keep praying. Every day prayers and hilltop prayers and even some Name-it-and-Claim-it-Prayers if that is what it takes. Because prayer is relationship. And relationships grow. I am a long way from having this specific relationship with the Triune God figured out, but I trust the One to whom I am related.

So, let us pray.

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In Praise of Easter Bonnets

By Kathy NickersonMarch 22nd, 2016happy endings, The Bible1 Comment

Pink-Hats

 

I realize picking out Easter clothes is a first world privilege. I know the socially conscious among us would prefer we all be under a bridge on Easter morning feeding the poor instead of parading around the church building in our finery. And the devout among us wonder what a new hat has to do with the sacrifice of Jesus on a bloody cross.

I get all that.

But, I promise you, I am following Jesus in His passion all this week. I am with him in the Temple as He preaches His last message. I’m sitting at the edge of the crowd while the priests and scribes examine him the same way they inspect the sacrificial lambs.

On Maundy Thursday, I will replay in my soul His last conversations with His friends. On the Friday that was only good for us, I will sit during a Night of Remembrance at our church and think of Him washing feet before He washed away sins.

Saturday, I’ll feel the awful grief of the world without Him while the soldiers guard His grave.

But, Sunday.

On Sunday, I will feel the whole earth tremble. The sun will rise with new glory, and the world will explode with the promise of rebirth. The power that raised Jesus from the dead will reverberate through time to touch every life that yields to Him from that moment and forevermore. I am dancing at my desk just thinking about it!

And that, Dear Reader, is why I shall wear a new dress on Easter. Not to be a show-off. Not to put more emphasis on the eggs and the bunny and the pastels than on the Savior. But because Easter is all about new beginnings. Rebirth. The promise of Eternal spring in the life of the believer. And I’m going to celebrate that with new clothes.

I think the God who told Moses what color thread to use when He designed the panels for the tabernacle will be perfectly fine with that.

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Happy Extra Day

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 29th, 2016happy endings, mercy, The BibleNo Comments

Balloons_www.kathynick.com

I have been guilty of asking for extra hours in a day sometimes. We do have precedence for that. God stop the sun once. But, of course, that had something to do with a battle, and the enemies of God, and a hero who had bigger issues than a crowded to-do list.

But today, we actually have extra hours in our year. Leap Year does have something to do with the sun. And, it’s a math word problem. But you have to Google it, because we are not discussing math on our precious extra day!

I wish I had planned a party. Or scheduled a day-trip. Or at least purchased some flowers in honor of the day. I mean, extra hours, people!

Instead, I intend to pay attention to every hour today and be grateful. For the people who share my space. For the work I’ve been allowed to do. For the home I get to come back to later, and the man I get to snuggle on my sofa. And maybe, today will help me remember to be grateful for these things every day of the year. Not just the extra ones.

Happy Extra Day, Dear Reader.

P.S. – a bit of fun for Leap Day: We are giving away a couple of free copies of The Secret of Serendipity over on Goodreads. Check it out here.

 

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Waking up is Hard to Do

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 22nd, 2016happy endings, mercy, The Bible3 Comments
Another generation hears from Narnia.

Another generation hears from Narnia.

 

When something hard is happening in life (and, really, something usually is) I find that moment between sleeping and waking to be the hardest one of all. I know Tinker Bell told Peter Pan in the movie Hook that it was a dreamy place, and he could always find her there, but you can’t trust fairies. Especially when they might be home-wreckers.

For me, that transition is almost painful some mornings. Not just the warm-bed-to-chilly-shower transition. It is the oblivion of sleep to the reality of daytime. The problems of the world have not gone away. The grief or the trauma or the illness or the dread was not just a bad dream. It is the truth that will walk with me all day long today. Again.

I. Must. Face. It.

Fortunately, I have ways to cope. Usually, I find the strength shortly after breakfast when I’ve had my prayer and Bible time, my exercise, my shower, and a bit of conversation with my wise and wonderful husband. But sometimes the turn is rather slow in coming. The other morning when I was suffering, he looked up from the news site on his iPad and said, “All right! They are making a movie of The Silver Chair!”

You may not understand how this suddenly righted the world for me. But that would be because you have not sat through untold hours of bedtime rituals while he read Narnia stories to our children. Therefore, you wouldn’t know that Puddleglum the Marshwiggle is one of our favorite C.S. Lewis characters. And you couldn’t possibly know that Puddleglum’s philosophy has carried us through many a dark day and scary night. In one voice, we quoted to each other:

“Life isn’t all fricassed frogs and eel pie, you know”

And there you have it, Dear Reader. A philosophy that will get you through the day. But maybe only if you get to know Puddleglum, of course, and understand that his love for Aslan is a love for Jesus. And that his determination to remain loyal to the Lion even if the Lion doesn’t exist is beautiful. And it probably works best if you already understand that “in this world we will have trouble, but fear not, because He has overcome the world.” (my paraphrase, of course.)

I knew my husband wasn’t all that excited about a movie that probably wouldn’t live up to the book anyway. The news had simply reminded him of a truth. And without having to go into a long conversation, he reminded me that God had been faithful to us for more than forty years of better and worse. He certainly wasn’t going to stop now.

And that woke me up.

 

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Going Toward the Light

By Kathy NickersonDecember 7th, 2015happy endings, The Bible1 Comment

www.kathynick.comChristmasforest

 

Light is one of the things I love about the Christmas season. Twinkling lights against dark skies. Shiny baubles on tabletops. Sparkly sweaters and sequined scarves. I love it all.

So, I’m intrigued by the whole account of the wise men who followed the star. I’m fascinated for many reasons, of course. One of the things I’ve wondered about is this: How did they know? I’ve read the theories that the wise men were astronomers or scientists of some kind. But even so. How did they know about the prophecies and the Messiah and the 400 years of waiting for Him to appear? How did they know about Bethlehem?

A few weeks ago, I read a fascinating theory about all that. Maybe Daniel told them. As in, Daniel of the lions’ den. In case you don’t remember the history, here is a paraphrase: Daniel and his peers were taken captive when they were young men and hauled off to a foreign country called Babylon. It was a pagan nation, where everyone and everything went against their faith.

Daniel decided to stay faithful to God and yet become an honorable servant to the king who had captured him. The prophet Jeremiah helped that cause by writing a letter saying, “Look guys, you are going to be there a while, so settle down, build houses, find wives, get a life.”

Daniel listened. As a result, he became a prominent man in the nation, an advisor to the king. (Pagan kings were touchy. Thus, the lions’ den when Daniel was an old man. But, that’s another story.)

With that background, it is easy to see Daniel sitting around the table with a group of Persian leaders, telling them about the prophetic writings. I can imagine him talking about Bethlehem, where King David once lived and where the Messiah would eventually be born.

Maybe, centuries later, threads of that conversation still showed up in Persian literature and led a group of wise men to a manger in Bethlehem.

I’m not sure the theory is true, but I love the possibility. Because it reminds me how God can take a horrible situation like captivity and use it to bring a whole new people group into the Kingdom of God.

It also gives me hope for the hard times in my own life. Maybe, someday, one of the trials I’m enduring now will become a shining star for someone else. Maybe it will rise up in their darkness and lead them all the way out of Babylon, across the Judean hills, and to a tiny, hopeful, promising revelation of Jesus Christ Messiah.

That’s my prayer.

 

 

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In Case You Aren’t Going to Norman Rockwell’s House This Week

By Kathy NickersonNovember 25th, 2015family, happy endings, The BibleNo Comments

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People sometimes ask me how I came up with a character like Elmer Grigsby in my novel Thirty Days to Glory. In my obviously perfect, Hallmark-movie life, how did I dream up a WWII vet who survives on cheap booze and canned meat? Whose only companion is his cat. Who lives in a garage, for goodness sake. Well, Dear Reader, I know people.

I am people.

If you pull away the soft lighting, the well-staged Thanksgiving table, the nice music in the background, we are all empty, broken, hopeless, people. But the Norman Rockwell painting is not a lie.

It is a promise.

If your Thanksgiving table doesn’t match the picture this year, please don’t despair. Your family may be fractured. Your budget may be more hotdogs than turkey. You may not even have a table to gather around. But I know the One who promises to make all things new.

It might not be today. Or even tomorrow. But someday. Someday. We will all gather at a banquet greater than any of us could ever imagine. If we put our hope in Jesus today, He will save us a place at that table, and we’ll be surrounded by a multitude of people we love.

Norman Rockwell couldn’t do justice to that one, because nobody could paint that Light.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll find your place at a smaller table here in earth time. They are probably scattered somewhere in your neighborhood among people we call The Church. Come, pull up a chair.

 

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To Carry A Name

By Kathy NickersonJuly 5th, 2015happy endings, Marriage, The Bible1 Comment

ByHisName_www.kathynick.comI remember when my grandmother used to take me to the grocery store with her, and she always signed her check, “Mrs. D.E. Grubbs” in long, curly script.

The signature fascinated me in so many ways. First, no one ever called my grandfather D.E. Grubbs. His full, legal name was Donald Earl, but the closest thing to an official name anyone ever used was Earl. Most folks just called him Shorty.

Second, few people referred to my grandmother as Mrs. Grubbs. She was Aunt Nellie. Or Mom, or Grandma. Or just Nellie. Or for the visiting preachers who wanted to be a bit more formal, Sister Grubbs.

But, I recognized something solemn in that signature. Something legal and binding and grander than the overalls and sunbonnets of daily life. Later on, I often heard my mother refer to herself as “Mrs. Clifford Grubbs” when she conducted business.

I, however, married in an era when women were throwing off the shackles of male-dominate society. We demanded our own identities, and some women even used their maiden names to assert their independence.

Therefore, I kept to myself the secret thrill of writing in curling script across every available surface for several months, “Mrs. Wendell Nickerson.”

Today, at church, we sang a song about wanting to carry the name of Jesus wherever we go. “I will carry His name, carry His name, carry His name,” we sang.

And I suddenly remembered how proud I am to carry my husband’s name, too. Because for me, Women’s Liberation came at the cross of Christ. Right along with Men’s Liberation. So I carry the Name of Jesus with humility and gratitude everywhere I go.

And I carry the name of Nickerson with similar feelings. Because those two relationships, the one with Jesus and the one with my husband, both set me free to be who I am meant to be. They liberate me through love, in ways I can’t even explain. And in ways a political movement never can.

So, I’ll carry His name, carry his name, carry His name. Forever. 

 

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Sometimes it Is An Earthquake

By Kathy NickersonJune 28th, 2015The BibleNo Comments

IMG_6374aIn case you aren’t familiar with the account in the Old Testament of a famous prophet named Elijah trying to have a meeting with God, let me give you my synopsis. God invited Elijah to the meeting and told him to go stand on a mountain, “And, I’ll pass by,” God said.

Not your every day invitation. Elijah was having a rather bad season at the time. Having a face-to-face with God might have seemed like a good solution. Or not.

The way the Bible describes it, Elijah stood on a mountain and experienced  a mighty wind, an earthquake, and then a fire. But God was in none of these. (In case you are wondering, this is not where the band Earth, Wind, and Fire got its name. Too bad.) Anyway, the famous part of this story comes next: Finally, there was a Still, Small Voice. And God was in the that.

I love the still, small voice. It is the way I most often feel I’ve heard from God. Usually through a thought in prayer or a scripture passage that resonates during my reading. But, we Christians like to make a lot out of that moment. Especially when we want to blast someone else’s style or method. “God’s not into all this hype, Brother!”

But the truth is this: Sometimes God was in the earthquake. He opened prison doors for Paul and Silas that way. And even people who don’t believe the Bible can tell you that God was in the fire when He spoke to Moses from a burning bush.

You see, Dear Reader,God speaks in all kinds of ways.

We cannot predict or assume how God will communicate with us or with someone else. Just because we Hear him in the wind, that does not mean we need to blow in the other guy’s ear. We know certain truths about God’s character. (He can’t lie, for instance.) Beyond that, God’s ways are completely up to Him.

If we keep that in mind, maybe we will actually hear from Him more often. And, maybe we will hear one another.

 

 

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A Reminder of Who is In Charge

By Kathy NickersonJune 26th, 2015happy endings, mercy, The Bible1 Comment

 

 

A town I love was hit by a flood this week. No one was hurt, thank God, but the experience was awful anyway. I’m not even personally impacted, but it left me feeling shaky. It happened so fast. And it was so strong. And so unstoppable.

So, for the sake of those people I love who will be digging through mud for days, I’m reposting one of my Comfort Posts. Maybe it will help you, too, in whatever flood you are facing:

From 2009:

 

Rainbow 1

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Selah Psalm 46:1-3

 

I love this psalm. But I got totally distracted one day when I was reading along and suddenly remembered the heading of the passage. A psalm of the Sons of Korah. The sons of Korah? Wait a second. He is the guy who rebelled against Moses (and therefore God) in the wilderness. The earth opened up and swallowed him along with all his followers and all their families according to the account in the Old Testament. So, how could sons of Korah write a bunch of psalms several generations later?

And that question led me to one of the great Mercy Moments in the Bible. In the Book of Numbers, the writer describes the day the earth opened up and swallowed the rebellious men and their families including Korah and 250 of his followers. Then, almost as an afterthought, the writer tells us, “However, the sons of Korah did not die that day.” Numbers 16:10-11

The Bible doesn’t tell us how or why. But I have a theory. Maybe, in His mercy, God left a remnant alive so they could tell the story to their children and to their children’s children. So, one day thousands of years later, when I face a hard time, the sons of Korah can remind me, “No, seriously. We have seen the the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. But even that was not The End. God was still our refuge and our very present help in times of trouble.”

Selah

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