God’s Light Upon a New Path

My father died suddenly three weeks ago. He lived his last day like much of his life, attending a banquet to benefit orphans and needy children, adding another beautiful child to sponsor.

While I often teared up just thinking of my parent’s passing, I am yet unable to shed tears for my dad. Perhaps my grief’s on hold as I stay with my mother to comfort and help her through everything. In the meantime, daily walks to pray and mentally rest quiet my heart. On one of my first walks I came upon a nature trail that I’d never seen.

This is it

Seeming sunlit and safe, I turned into it and, as I did, I saw a blue striped bird which I’ve never seen before. Crickets and cicadas created a relaxing echo every step of the path. The air was fresh and damp, I was joyfully alone with the Lord.

Later that day I logged onto WordPress and found one of my favorite sights, https://aussiebirder.com/blog/, as brother Ashley’s birding posts and narratives are truly inspiring and edifying. I shared about my found nature trail and this was his response to me….

“This nature trail was not only a beautiful relief for you but a message from our Lord of new trail, a new season, new beginnings, that after the grieving and healing will come blessing. I am so glad you were given this beautiful aside to appreciate our Lord’s beauty. He shows us snippets of his love for us personally when we experience these precious moments. I pray that the Lord will encourage and strengthen you as you have done so much for me and others with your beautiful gift. Seeing a lifer on your walk is a sign of new things.” (https://aussiebirder.com/2022/10/11/why-do-aussie-birds-become-aggressive/)

People of God can truly speak words of life to uplift and inspire. This is true of Ashley. I thought about this sunlit trail, a new path and new beginning. Grieving my father’s death and caring for my precious mother are new challenges, a new season in my life. But I believe light and the blessing comes as we follow the Lord closely. He will affirm His presence and order our steps – leading us safely through the other side.

I’ve learned so much from the loving-kindness of others, I pray to remember and bestow it generously.

Political Peppers, Onions and Cukes!

Various errands took me 10 blocks up Broadway, rather than my usual 10 blocks down Broadway, and I stopped for vegetables at a stand familiar to me. But the usual Hispanic young man was not there. A handsome young Middle Eastern youth stood there, quite friendly looking.

“Hello!” I greeted him, “how are you?”

“God is good” he replied with a smile. His ethnic looks, accent, and Marlboros led me to believe his god is Allah. Ok.

I picked up some bananas, “4 for $1”, some big red peppers and cukes. Then onions. He knew the price of everything but his English was very limited.

“Do you have carrots?”

With a bewildered look he replied, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand much English”. Ok.

He collected my peppers, onions, bananas, and cucumbers and gave me the total, “$8.75. One more banana?” He asked, to make it an even $9.00.

Sure! Then I had to ask,

“Where are you from?”

“I am from Turkey!”, he said with a smile.

After a slight heart cringe I asked, “What do you think of your president Erdogan?”

“He is good I think”.

“Well, you should tell him to treat Armenians better.”

The same bewildered look came upon him, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand…”

“That’s ok”, and I knew in the Lord that it was. I handed over the $9.00.

I took my bags and raised up my hand, saying the few Turkish words I know.

The young man’s face beamed with a smile, and he gave a high two thumbs up!

I called him friend.

Dance Alone If Necessary!

This past Sunday I had a family event to attend at 4pm, giving me plenty of time to drive 40 miles to see Johnny Berberian play at a huge Armenian picnic. He is one of the few “Udi’s” or Oud Extraordinaires in the world. Ninety degrees or 100, I was ready for a Halla!

The band started with a Tamzara…

I ate my last shish kebab and dashed to the band to see who would start the line dance.  I taped the music while waiting…waiting…but not one of the 800 folks there dropped their forks!  Okay, the Tamzara is a very difficult dance but the next one was easier and just as invigorating!  I urged my relatives to come join in.  Everyone balked.  Ok, they’re over 75 and 80 but still, it’s Johnny Berberian!  

So I rushed over to the band and, for the first time ever, I began dancing alone!  A one woman dance line and I was so happy!  Yet, within one minute others joined me…

 

There I am in the green dress, leading a growing line – away we go!

There is hardly anything more exhilarating for me. Not only since childhood but more so now when I realize that, in spite of genocide, deportations, landlocked strangleholds, earthquakes and recent unprovoked war, we Armenians are still here. God did not allow us to be exterminated. Although often crushed, a true and growing remnant of faith is thriving. Reasons to celebrate, reasons to dance!

I realized another thing as I dashed to dance alone. My joy arose and, even if no one joined me, it would not be squelched. This need be true for believers in the coming days when complacency and apostasy run rampant. When our heart is stirred, when we are burdened and sense God’s call to pray, perhaps no one will join in. When worship arises in our heart, refuse to suppress it, even if we’re the only one raising our hands and voice. Might I be the only one to pray at a family dinner, giving thanks to the Lord?

I say, if need be, be the only one! Encourage others with exuberance worthy of the Lord. Pray that they are stirred and go alone, perhaps others one by one will join in the line….

If God stirs your heart to have a prayer meeting, reach out to others, call them in, but if you’re the only one, believe this – you’re not the only one. The Holy Spirit is there and the Lord will honor your faithfulness.

(I’m having a prayer meeting tomorrow night…not sure who will join in – perhaps you’ll see in my next post what the Lord has in store!)

The Winning Word!

I’ve been a word lover probably my whole life – there are so many to express thoughts, concepts, and ideas! How extraordinary I say, that God, Maker of Heaven and earth, chose to express Himself through words, His precious word.

This week I found an enjoyable, if not downright addictive, pastime – online Scrabble! And I’m a big winner, 80% of the time, against my opponent the computer. Words galore!

Also this week was my scheduled presentation to an online women’s Bible study. Although a newcomer to this group, the leader had read some of my posts and asked me to speak. My heart sensed an answer to my prayers to serve the Lord and minister to others. I hardly knew the women of this Zoom study, many are in different states. But after much prayer, I was sure of the message that the Lord called me to present.

Of course, when called in any capacity, the devil will move in to rob of confidence with anxious thoughts. “Yes, you’re all ready, but for sure your internet connection will fail midway!” “Your computer is 10 years old, doesn’t it often freeze, especially during Zoom meetings?” All these things have happened of course. Well, I realized, with the meeting the day after tomorrow I’m certainly not going computer shopping. Zoom by phone is just as good, no? Other darting thoughts arose.

The next morning I accompanied my husband Bob for his routine surgical procedure. While waiting to prep, I continued my online Scrabble game, this time losing! Bob noticed.

“Let me see it” I don’t think of Bob as a word connessuer or Scrabble pro but I handed him my phone.

“I see a great word!” Just then the nurse called him in. He handed me the phone and said, “Put L A X right here. It spells RELAX!” With that he left.

I had totally missed that! Yes, RELAX, and with triple letter came to 28 points!!

While admittedly competitive, the winning word pressed more into my heart than on the game board. God often uses husbands to speak to their wives and these letters clicked together my soul, washing over me.

‘Relax’ may not be in the Bible but I truly want to remember it. Because if we believe and trust, if we rest in Him, our hearts can surely relax because God has everything under control.

(And yesterday’s Bible study presentation was such a rewarding fellowship!)

Another Sparrow Falls to the Ground…

I set out early this morning as the temperature is expected to rise above 90°.  Five blocks to the bank, 10 to the grocery store, I prayed as I walked, discussing with the Lord the useless anxiety that often overshadows me.  I meditated upon Jesus’ oft admonishment, “Do not be afraid” (or anxious!) and His reference to the sparrows, “…not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father.”  I started to wonder, where are these fallen sparrows, I never see them.  Where do they go to die?  I concluded that, like many suffering animals, they sequester to die alone.  But according to our Lord, our Father knows exactly where each one is, none even fall “apart from His will”.   

Returning from FoodTown I passed my street, pushing myself to go farther to the vegetable stand.  Carrying three bags and toting a stuffed backpack, I pressed on for iceberg lettuce.  Then I saw him on the sidewalk.  A tiny sparrow, not moving as I neared him.  Not budging when a blaring ambulance sped by.  Something’s wrong!

I stooped down to pet it, it did not move or flinch.  Not good.  He had no resistance as I picked him up.  People paused to look as I quickly pondered: What should I do?… I can’t leave him here…I’m carrying too much to bring him anywhere….

Just then a chubby, affable Hispanic women stopped and stooped down with me.  She scooped up the bird and concluded as I did that the poor babe was somehow injured.  She held him so naturally and calmly, like she did it everyday!  

“I’ll take him home and care for him…”

“You will?!?  Thank you!  I couldn’t leave him here…”

She smiled and stroked the bird gently, “I was raised on a farm, I used to take care of baby chicks…”

Wow, did God bring the right person down this sidewalk!

I should have asked her name.  I shared with her about The Bird Fund, a free bird clinic on Columbus Avenue.  She took the info and said, “I’m sure my daughter can bring him there.”

As we walked together for two blocks.  I thought she lived nearby but went to the bus stop, “I live in the Bronx” she said.  And she’s carrying a baby bird in her hand all the way? 

So, according to the Lord, our Father saw that sparrow fall, it was His will.  For sure that babe had anxiety, unable to fly or move on a busy city sidewalk.  He didn’t know what we should all know, our Father has everything under control.  

“I was raised on a farm….cared for chicks…I’ll take him home”

“Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”. 

Fathers – What They Really Need

Father’s Day is somewhat complicated today. Gone is the simple joy of picking out the new tie, cozy slippers, or warm sweater. Our culture of confused gender roles and sexual identities disparages traditional role of fathers. Single parenting and strained marriages often make stressed parents.

So what do fathers really need?

More than ever fathers – our sons, brothers, and husbands – need the undergirding strength of fervent prayer.

My parents, ages 90 and 92, visited the grave of their only son who tragically died years ago.  At 38, my brother Paul was a strong believer, heartbroken to leave his young family but spiritually ready to meet the Lord.  Not so my beloved parents who stand grieving without hope of seeing their son nor eternal life unless they repent and receive salvation.  

Father’s Day is June 19th.  In anticipation, perhaps as a community of readers, writers, and believers can we commit to pray starting Sunday June 12th for fathers and would be fathers – sons, husbands, and brothers?  May they rise up to know the Lord, pursue righteousness, and take authority in their homes as spiritual leaders, lovingingly drawing their family to Christ.  Will you join me?  

The older I get the more I like lists…perhaps you will also make a list of those you will vie for, beseeching our Father in heaven to intervene.  May they find and fulfill the call of God upon their lives and know eternal hope at their jouney’s end.

Let’s give fathers what they really need.  

Amid Powers of Darkness

As families and communities mourn another grievous act of violence, political pundits rally with vehement demands for gun control and, to a lesser degree, a call for expansion of mental health services. A separate post would be needed to address the inadequacy of gun control. Mental health is a vital component, addressing individuals’ emotional suffering and instability but would it really prevent violence?

Martyn Lloyd Jones presented a teaching, undated but prior to his death in 1981, entitled, Not Against Flesh And Blood. To expedite a concise review I will merely post some quotes taken therein. (emphasis in quotes are his)

Chapter 1: The Forces of Evil and the Nations

“Christians are not merely good men and women…they are essentially new people…partakers of the divine nature, the life of God enters into our souls and the Holy Spirit dwells within us.”

“Consequently, anything that happens to Christian men and women immediately becomes a test of who they are and what they believe as Christians.”

“‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of the world, against spiritual wickedness in high places’. And that, according to the Bible, is the ultimate explanation of the whole of human history, both biblical and secular.”

“Why do wars happen at all? The tragedy today is that people do not seek the causes…Nor do wars come about merely for political reasons…These evils are entirely the result of the operation of the devil and principalities and powers…They are all the work of the devil as he operates both upon individuals and upon larger groups.”

“...the devil produces lawlessness”.

“He insinuates thoughts into the mind and we are not aware of it.”

While much of this chapter addresses the evils of war, the principles therein are applicable to individual acts of violence and lawlessness. Martyn Lloyd Jones also outlines ‘The Christian’s Duty’ amid social and national uprises and war,

“Christians are to aid the state and the government that is appointed of God in its task of arresting and subjugating, as far as is possible, the forces of evil.”

However, “…a man or woman who believes that any league, union or organization will banish war has never understood the spiritual teaching of the Bible. They are thinking in terms of flesh and blood, and do not understand human nature. They have no knowledge of the devil and the principalities and powers of evil.”

“Men and women will never introduce an era of peace.”

“Anything is possible from humanity in sin…wars and strife will go on until the arrival of God’s appointed day, the day of the Lord…There is a definite end to history….a day when the Lord Jesus Christ shall come back as the King of kings…And He will destroy every enemy: the devil, the principalities and powers, the very rulers of this darkness, this spiritual wickedness in high places. They will all be finally destroyed.”

In chapter 2 Lloyd Jones discusses ‘The Manifestation of Evil Powers’, including demonology, the activities of evil powers specifically in witchcraft, mesmerism, astrology, and magic. In chapter 3 are warnings for those who partake in any form of spiritualism.

The focus of chapter 4 is Demon Possession. As a medical doctor, Martyn Lloyd Jones outlines the distinctions between a medical condition and demon possession, “In devil possession there is always a failure to conform to any known pattern of symptoms for a disease.” and “…there are certain unusual symptoms which are not found in clinical diseases.” Strange and unusual behavior, including violence, is noted here.

He points to examples of known demon possession, “We are aware today of the fact that one personality can command and control and direct another.”

Over 50 years ago Martyn Lloyd Jones wrote,

“…today – in an age of moral declension, in an age of godlessness, in an age of excesses, in an age when people no longer believe in God…When education becomes purely secular and denies the Bible entirely and denies God…though people become sophisticated and have a knowledge of a kind, it is not sufficient to withstand the onslaught of these evil powers.”

Fifty years later, these truths are personified by a plethora of demonic influences within our schools, media, entertainment – nearly every cultural outlet. Allurements all to self-gratification, self-glorification, and every evil thought to fuel and ignite behavior.

Social initiatives and new laws will not curb the ongoing violence in our streets and schools, that’s like fighting a fire breathing dragon with a toothpick.

There is nothing in our purview powerful enough to address increasing wanton violence. As believers, our strength comes from separation, shutting in with the Lord through prayer and His living word. Only through the Holy Spirit can we gain understanding and the unction to minister in our communities amid the powers of darkness.

Making The Last Lap The Best

Healthcare-Elective-Care-Hero

Although I haven’t met them, I feel a close kinship with several WP writers. I often imagine joyfully meeting them in heaven, “Hey! It’s you!”. David Ettinger is one such writer. I’ve read his articles in Zion’s Fire for many years and enjoy his blog, http://ettingerwriting.wordpress. I commented today on his blog about aging and he encouraged me to turn the comment into a post!

At 64, like David, I’m included in the huge population of aging baby-boomers. Sometimes I have to remind myself, “Move on, you’re too old for those jeans!” or, “That’s for younger folks, act your age!” Mostly I need no reminding. I catch my reflection off guard or wonder, what’s the word I’m looking for…

But as believers we stand apart from the vast number of ‘baby-boomers’ and need not clamor over every new study on failing health, mental decline, or worry over aging alone in the world. Yes, take care of our vessel with healthy foods, good exercise and intellectual challenges. But our greatest hope and trust is not in a ‘good lifestyle’ but in a good and faithful God.

Years ago, the Lord taught me the precision of the sword, the word of God, that “…penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit…” My husband Bob grew up in the projects of Brooklyn, his neighbor, Donia Marie, was a strong believer. Her husband abandoned her and their children but her faith did not waiver – she shared the Gospel with the families around her and often invited them to church. When the youths, such as Bob, joined gangs, Donia Marie continued to pray and show them God’s love.

Her diligent prayers yielded much fruit. Several youths, such as Bob, became a true believers years later, always remembering their neighbor’s faithful witness. In 2006 her family called from out of state, sharing that Donia Marie suffered from Alzheimer’s. We went out to visit. This dear sister could not remember Bob, nor did she recognize her own daughter, but she recited scriptures, remembered the precious Gospel, and sang songs of praise while we were there. Her mind may have failed but her spirit and the life of God within her, was alive. Although she died in 2007, her testimony and love are still spoken of today. This encouraged me in many ways, realizing that mental health does not preclude spiritual health, and the purposes of God are not thwarted by our diminished capacities.

The Lord equips us for every season of our life, whether we are weakening from illness, aging or injury. Unlike the world’s challenges, ‘Fight your weakness! Reverse aging! Five Steps to Live Longer!’ our Lord declares, ‘When you are weak, then you are strong!’

Zac Poonen makes this point often in his Bible teaching, succinctly expounding, from Genesis to Revelation, how God waits for our own strength and flesh to reach ZERO for Him to move in with His strength, His purposes, and His divine power.

“All the trying circumstances, frustrations and disappointments, heartaches, etc that we go through are meant by God to bring the strength of our self down to zero”. (https://www.cfcindia.com/wftw/the-new-wine-in-new-wineskins) I highly recommend his books such as New Wine.

Brother Zac cites this truth with the spiritual giants of scripture who, at their weakest point, their ‘final years’, their point of greatest lacking – God said, ‘Now you’re ready to serve!’ When our ‘self-strength’ is gone, the Holy Spirit can move through our brokenness for God’s glory.

Paul Washer also edifies my faith, teaching ‘God is Creating Weakness in Our Life’. Pointing to our precious forerunner, Jesus, Pastor Paul cites Isaiah’s prophetic word, “Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, My chosen One in whom I delight…” God upheld Jesus, Paul Washer expounds, upon how much more must He uphold us!

“Jesus didn’t spend lengths of time in prayer because He was so spiritual or to show devotion; He was praying because He needed prayer, He needed to draw upon the Father’s strength…”

“Our problem is never that we’re too weak! God is constantly working weakness in us. We don’t even know how weak we are!”

Only believers can claim the certainty of ‘strength’ and ‘purpose’ as our natural lives decline and weaken. If we’re still here, still in the race, God’s purposes for us in this world remain: preparing us for His Kingdom, conforming us to the image of Christ, reaching out with the Gospel and declaring the coming of the King.

I pray to grasp ahold of these truths, to walk closer with the Lord – our forerunner in this race – and make the last lap the best lap before I meet Him face to face!

Hayer Miatsek!

Hayer miatsek, miatsek Hayer! Armenians unite!

Once again, on April 24th, Armenians gathered for Armenian Martyrs Day, commemorating the onset of the Armenian Genocide perpetuated by the Ottoman Turks on April 24th, 1915.

Bob and I waving flags high (under awning “surreal”) in Times Square on April 24th. Ts4-1024x768

Year after year we gather, members of Congress and local leaders speak, proclaiming support for Armenia and stirring up their constituencies. Religious leaders also speak. Our pastor, Pastor Haig Kherlopian, spoke about the resiliency of Armenians, even after attempts to desecrate and annihilate, we still stand by the grace of God to prosper and testify.

As we gather and proclaim, rally and commemorate, we must check our hearts and assure that they are aligned with God. Why must we gather and rally?

Although 1.5 million Armenians perished and thousands were set upon death marches, exiled from their homeland, Turkey continues to vehemently deny these atrocities. Those who dare teach these truths either disappear or languish in Turkish prisons – Turkish prisons hold more journalists than any jail system in the world. We gather because the truth matters – especially for those who died with no voice to proclaim it.

After the recent war – the onslaught of Azerbaijan upon Armenian enclave Artsakh, Armenia lost much historical land and villages which they inhabited for thousands of years.

“The Greek geographer Strabo, who is estimated to have lived from 64 BC to 23 AD, included Artsakh in his geographic description of Greater Armenia, writing that the entire population spoke Armenian by the second or first century BC, an observation confirmed by archaeological finds.” (Read More: https://www.grunge.com/260893/the-long-and-tragic-history-of-artsakh/?utm_campaign=clip)

Armed with the wealth of military weapons supplied by Turkey, Israel, and Ukraine, Azerbaijan now salivates with prospects of further aggression once the ‘cease fire’ period is over. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, believed responsible for supplying the Phosphorus bomb that devastated Armenian environment, openly celebrated with Azeri President Aleyev’s victory. Thousands of Armenians died, thousands are displaced, suffering as the world does not look on. We gather to be a voice for those who suffer in silence – we will plead your cause; we will lift you up in prayer. We will not forget you.

Ultimately, we gather to encourage one another and reaffirm our faith in God, regardless of outward situations. While possibly tempted toward vengeance, we must pray for our enemies – may the Holy Spirit convict them, take away all their false peace, and cover them with a shame and godly sorrow that will lead to repentance. As our people suffer and homeland is stolen and destroyed, we must be the serving hands and feet of the Lord to help them and above all, encourage them that “Հայկական հողէ” – Armenian land- is not their forever home – our heart must be set upon the Kingdom of God.

Armenians unite! Let us honor those who died for their faith by living for our faith for the glory of God.

WHY RUSSIA IS NOT THE ENEMY — The Scripture Library

An Unpopular Opinion Regarding the On-Going Russo-Ukrainian War by Jeff Dominguez

Last February 24, 2022, Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, launched a full-scale attack in an attempt to invade their neighbor country, Ukraine. This caused immediate chaos and panic across Ukraine and has made the entire world worried. International leaders joined forces to convince Vladimir Putin […]

WHY RUSSIA IS NOT THE ENEMY — The Scripture Library

The unprovoked invasion into Ukraine is shaking the world with grief, fear, and anger. For an Armenian, it stirs up utter dread to see a powerful nation invading a peaceful one for no reason, exacting destruction and ruining lives. As I fervently prayed for the Armenians besieged by Turkish backed Azeris, I pray for the Ukrainians, for the strength and faith of the body of Christ, for fighters’ fortitude, for God to intervene as their high tower and bulwark.

But like Jeff Dominguez elaborates in this embedded post, I also cry out for the Russians. The Russian soldiers, conscripted and compelled to fight, duped by propaganda. The Russians and Ukrainians, neighbors since forever, share similar if not the same culture, religion, and family life and history of communist tyranny. They marry each other. Russians have no blood lust to kill their neighbors.

I pray for them, that their hearts be gripped with conviction and their feet weighed down like lead. May their eyes are opened for repentance and cause them to retreat – confounding the world and exalting the Lord.

I encourage anyone reading this to read brother Jeff’s post. I never saw his blog before but last night I came to a realization as I turned away from the harrowing newscasts. This is not normal or rational, it is outside the flesh. This is supernatural, and Putin is inspired if not captivated by demonic forces.

For us as believers to be true contenders in this battle, we must enter in spiritually. Yes, we could make our anguish known to legislators and contribute to humanitarian aid. But we ourselves have a Commander and Chief. We are not conscripts, He owns us completely. I pray that, under the Lord’s authority, we gain spiritual revelation of these world events, direction in prayer, and see the opportunities to extol our Savior and His Kingdom – the only true and lasting hope.

May we link arms as His body and stand as a light in this darkness.