Thursday, September 30, 2010

Floating Along

Today Glen, Sparrow and I were walking by a little brook. In that brook a single red leaf in waterImage by zen via Flickrleaf was floating on the water. It caught my eye because it will be a few weeks before we begin to see widespread turning of colors down South. Even then, the majority of our trees are evergreen, keeping their verdant leaves throughout winter.

This little red leaf, though, had fallen from its branch and was floating on top of the water. I watched it for quite a while before I pointed it out to Glen. We stopped to watch its path in the water. It would twist and turn, sometimes turning over end to end, sometimes turning over side to side. It stayed afloat, however, and kept being pushed along by the current in the brook.

At one point the water reached some unseen obstruction and the water formed a tiny eddy. The leaf swirled around in a circle, seeming to go nowhere, but always in continual motion. Finally, when it completed the full circle, it was released from the current and sent again downstream. We turned to go home and I took one last glimpse of the little red leaf heading further and further down the stream.

When we had stopped to look at the leaf, Glen remarked that he thought the leaf "looked happy" in its casual float down the brook. It wasn't making any effort, yet its very construction was what enabled it to stay afloat. The fact that it had dried out on the branch, in preparation to fall, also helped keep it stiff enough to create a little boat -- or perhaps kayak-- upon the brook.

I am quite certain there are many lessons the Lord would love to teach me in the little red leaf. On the branch it appeared to die before all of the other leaves. It dried up "too soon", but that was exactly what saved it in the water, and what caused it to catch my eye.

It floated, apparently, effortlessly on the water. It let the water and the current be the guide and it was totally submissive to the will of the water. It didn't try to steer, to paddle or to sail. It only did what the water wanted it to do.

When in the eddies of the water, it may have seemed to the leaf as it was going no where, but it was in constant motion traversing the whole range of the circle of water. Only when it had completed the loop, was it free to float again in the easier water.

How much more like the leaf I long to be! I long to remember when I reach the eddies that even it seems as if I am going no where, the Lord is taking me through every detail of a lesson, a situation, so that I can know Him in ways I could know no other way.

I wish to float more effortlessly on the water, and not try so hard to push my own paddle or steer my own rudder. I wish to realize that the river has a course, a plan and a design and that the Lord has promised to make the way plain before my face.

I wish to remember that I cannot compare myself to any other leaf on the tree. The path and the timing the Lord has for me is not the same as for anyone else. Some will turn sooner, some later. Some will fall into the brook, some onto the ground. I must trust and believe that "as for God, His way is perfect."

How great is our Lord that He can hide truths of Himself in something as simple as a fallen leaf.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What Is Worship?

A local church is anticipating the arrival of a new pastor and with that pastor, several changes in the way their worship service is conducted. While Glen and I discussed this, our discussion lead to the true meaning of worship.

Many will immediately think of music and song, and yes, it is possible to worship the Lord in music and song. But that is not primarily the definition of worship. Others may think of prayer, and it is certainly possible to worship the Lord in prayer. But that is not the essence of worship either. In fact, it is entirely possible to pray and to sing praises to the Lord and to never enter into worship in any form whatsoever.

How is that possible, you may ask? We must look to the very first mention of worship in Scripture for our answer.

"And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." (Genesis 22:5)

Abraham was taking Isaac up to the mountain. There he intended to obey the Lord as He had commanded him:

"And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. " (Genesis 22:2)

Abraham did not intend to go up to the mountain to pray with Isaac, although I am sure his heart was full of prayer with each step. He did not intend to go up to the mountain to sing praises to the Lord, in fact, I would surmise his heart felt so heavy he could find no song to sing. But he could find obedience, and that was what was considered worship. The first time worship is mentioned in the Bible is regarding an act of obedience. The Hebrew word means to "bow down", to "prostrate oneself".

How different is that definition than what we see today so often defined as "worship"? There is often an abject lack of humility, a lack of obeisance. On the contrary, we may see faces flashed brightly on huge screens, amplified versions of voices and names plastered in text to clearly make known who is doing the "worshiping". But it seems we might have forgotten the "Who" that is being worshiped.

If our actions of singing, musical performance, prayer --whatever we think worship should be-- is not in obedience to what the Lord wants us to do at that moment, it cannot be considered worship. Worship cannot exist without obedience.

Perhaps on this particular occasion, the Lord does not want us to stand in front of the spotlights, in front of the audience. Perhaps today He wants us to sit by a frail, elderly church member, to help her steady herself in her seat. Perhaps no one will notice our efforts on her behalf. Perhaps He wants us to help some dear one out to their car, or hold a crying inconsolable baby in the nursery. No one may know of what we have done.

Ah, but the Lord will know. And if we have done these in obedience to Him, it will be far more worship than if we had sung ten thousand songs in the spotlight.

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
(Matthew 25:40)

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Three-Legged Chair

It has been sitting on the side of the road for at least two weeks now.

At one time, this wooden chair was new. It was a source of excitement for its first owner. It met a need and members of a family, maybe several families, used it around their tables. This chair was part of holiday celebrations, birthday parties and serious family discussions. Perhaps it was a place were the father or mother had their daily Bible reading and prayer. Maybe it was where a youngster fidgeted as they struggled with homework. The chair was part of the household.

Now it sits on the curb, not even useful enough for someone to stop and pick it up. Why?

No one has faith in the three-legged chair. They know if they sit on the chair, they will fall. They believe the chair is beyond hopes of repair. It has played out its usefulness. Even worse, the chair is thought to be a danger; if someone sits on it, they could be seriously injured.

I feel sorry for the outcast chair. I wish I had the skills to repair it, to bring it back to a state of inclusion in a household, to see little legs dangling from its seat once again.

There are many people in our world, whom at first glance appear as this three-legged chair. As a society we have lost faith in them. Maybe we see them as beyond hopes of repair. They have played out their usefulness. Perhaps they have wasted their life with "riotous living". Or perhaps age, illness and frailty wrack their bodies. There are some who from their birth were like the three-legged chair, never had everything we think they should have had. There are some that have given themselves to lifestyle so foreign to our own that we consider them dangerous to ourselves. They are outcasts and no one dares to bring them in to their homes.

These are just the ones to whom our Lord reached out. He touched -- physically touched-- the leper. He purposefully made His way through Samaria, in a time when the Jewish people had no dealings with Samaritans, and spoke with the woman at the well. He ate with the tax collectors (still unpopular today) and the sinners. He died between two thieves.

In our Lord's economy, there are no wasted lives. In His eyes, there are none past redemption until that last breath has been taken. In our Lord's hands are nail prints made to purchase the pardon of each soul, not just the ones who appear desirable. May the Lord open our eyes to see with His eyes, with His wisdom and His heart.

"For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)

UPDATE: This evening, Glen brought the three-legged chair to our house. It is his intention to repair, refinish and redeem the chair that no one else wanted.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prayer, Surprisingly Simple

Prayer is something that perplexes me. Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe in prayer. And I pray. But I always feel as if I am somehow missing the mark with prayer.

I feel tempted to believe that it should be so much more than I make it, that I should use more words, more in-depth praying for those for whom I pray. In reality, I have the sneaking suspicion that our prayers should actually be much simpler.

Prayer is the languageImage by Lel4nd via Flickr
I was thinking today of a young Christian. Not young as in newly born again, but young as in age. Prayer needs to be something that even the very young can grasp and do. It needs to be something that even the simple minded can master. Prayer needs to be accessible for those who have a waning memory.

So often these days I find myself telling the Lord, "I don't have a clue what You need to do in this person's life. Even if I thought I knew, I'd probably be wrong. So just work where You know there is need and work out Your purpose in their lives."

That seems too easy, to short, too simple. It must be more difficult, more involved. But that prayer can be prayed for anyone.

As I was coming home from work today, I looked across the lanes of traffic and thought of all the people in their cars. So many people, all of whom need the Lord's working in some way in their lives, so many people and I knew none of them. That doesn't mean we can't pray for them, the Lord knows each and every one of them. Just in the time it takes to pass them on the street, we can ask the Lord to work in their lives.

The Apostle Paul instructed us to "pray without ceasing". The simple, easy prayers can flow from our heart anywhere, anytime. A prayer can be rising from our hearts instantly for all we see around us.

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Romans 8:26

Perhaps the intercession of the Holy Spirit for us in prayer is taking our effort at making prayer a complex and convoluted thing and turning it into a simple and beautiful sacrifice unto the Lord.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves. . .

"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. " I Timothy 1:15

"For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers." Galatians 1:13,14

Of all the possible people in Jerusalem who could have been won to Christianity, Saul of Tarsus was absolutely the most unlikely.

He was a "Hebrew of the Hebrews". "As touching the law, a Pharisee. "Of the tribe of Benjamin. " "Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. " (Philippians 3) This was so true that even after his conversion, he often had trouble convincing the believers, not only of his Apostleship, but even of his own Christianity.

Today in our country, there is a great divide between those who love our country, and Thanks - For Those Who Served And Those Who St...Image by Capt Kodak via Flickralso love their God, and those who practice the religion of Islam. Those of us who are Christians know the Islamic religion to be a false and evil religion. There are those who suggest the more violent tenants of the Islamic belief, Sharia law, threaten the liberties of America. This fear has caused many who truly believe in the Lord Jesus, to express such fear, such anger as one does when what they hold to be dear is threatened. Some have even made the suggestion of sending all Muslims out of the United States.

Having said this, I have to tell you the story of a dear young girl baptized this Sunday. She is Iranian and was born Muslim. After moving to this country, she came to know the Lord and was joyful in identifying herself with Him through baptism.

Had this beautiful young woman not been welcome in this country, she might never have come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor would her fiance, who became a Christian six years before her.

America is here as the land of the free and the brave, but we are here for a purpose, and that purpose is not just to be a beacon for political freedom. You cannot read the writings of our founding fathers and not believe that this country was founded as a place where people could know God. Not any god, but the One True God. We must open not only our arms, but our hearts, that they might have not just freedom politically, but true freedom. . .the freedom that is given by the Lord Jesus when one trusts in Him fully and realizes that their sins have completely been forgiven.

Will some try to hurt us? Yes, and they hurt our Lord, too. Will some try to kill us? Yes, and they tried to kill our Lord, too. Will we will come to the Lord? Yes, and there may even be those, like the Apostle Paul, that we never expected would ever bow the knee and confess with their tongues that Jesus Christ is Lord, who we will see do so.

Our Lord instructed us to be "wise as serpents and harmless as doves." Let us have both His meekness and His strength and pray for His wisdom.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

In Harmony, In Concert. . .

Last Saturday evening we were blessed to attend the opening performance of our city's Symphony. I say we were blessed, because it was literally so in more than one sense. Glen won the tickets through a local radio station, so we were blessed in being provided with tickets and we were blessed by listening to an incredible performance of beautiful music.

Before the performance, most of the members of the orchestra sat on the stage warming up. Each was playing their instrument in their own way without any notice of the artist next to them. We noted that the flutist was practicing a particularly complicated piece of music on her piccolo. She played the same small section of notes over and over again.

Some members of the orchestra were not even playing their instruments, they were sitting and chatting with each other. Some were not even chatting, they were simply sitting quietly, not playing, not talking, not moving.

A few minutes later, after all the orchestra members had taken their seats and the house lights had dimmed, the conductor stepped to the podium. He raised his arms, and the entire orchestra played in beautiful notes of harmony and melody.

To me this speaks so much of the church today. We have so many different factions of the Church, each so busy doing their own thing, playing their own instrument, seemingly oblivious to the other groups around them carrying out their own plans. Then there are some Christians who have ceased from their labors all together and simply sit and chat. Some don't even fellowship with other believers anymore, but have set themselves apart, not moving, not talking, not utilizing the gifts the Lord has given them.

But one great day, our Conductor will step to the podium of Heaven. He will raise those beautiful nail-scarred hands, and in a chorus the likes of which have never been heard, Christians of all groups and factions, will sing in harmony and melody. Their voices will mingle and blend in the song of the redeemed, singing to the Redeemer.

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom,
and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. . .
Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power,
be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne,
and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."
Revelation 5:12,13

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Death Is Only The Beginning. . .

I have been thinking about death a great deal lately. I am not dying, but the truth is, we are all dying from the moment we are born. Death is programmed into every cell of our body. It is inevitable. A favorite movie of ours has a scene in which a nine-year-old boy is fixated with death. At one point he tells a friend, "I am going to die. You are going to die. There is no way out of it." He is absolutely right. But what is this death that we are so tempted to fear?

I have often surmised that for everything we are to experience in this world (except perhaps for birth) the Lord has somewhere in His creation given us an example and a pattern. I believe that our death will not be so much unlike our own birth. Now I have no scientific evidence for this, it is solely my belief.

Before we are born, we are clearly alive. We move, our hearts beat, our lungs "breathe" (although they breathe in amniotic fluid instead of air), we respond to sound, we are known to drink in more fluid if it is sweeter than not, we sleep, our eyes can see and respond to a bright light . . .we are alive by all the parameters we use for extra-uterine life. We are content to be in this place where our every need is met even before we can feel the need.

Then, by some mechanism totally outside of our control, we are propelled on a journey from our perfect abode. It is (usually) a gradual journey. Our warm bath of water disappears and our environment begins to hug and contract around us until the force eventually expels us from our home. But this is not death. Just the opposite.

Upon entering extra-uterine life, we experience things we could never have imagined in the cocoon of our mother.

Newborn Baby PortraitsImage by kristaguenin via FlickrLight. Bright, white, yellow, blinding light. That light makes it possible for us to see, and there are so many things to see. Especially there are faces, our favorite things to see in the beginning, beautiful smiling faces.

Touch. We can touch and we can be touched. We could have never imagined the wonder of the feel of the mother's cheek brushing against our cheek. Or the strength of the father's arm cradling us.

Sound. The clarity of sound, the mother's whisper, the father's laugh, the grandmother's song.

Taste. Oh, how much sweeter this milk from the mother than ever it could have been imagined. And to be cradled and held in her arms as we receive it.

Smell. To smell mother and father. To smell the clean blankets and linens in which we are swaddled. To smell that wonderful baby smell which envelops us. How beautiful.

Would we for one minute, one second, want to go back into the womb, even though every need was met there? No, not for one second.

I believe that in that twinkling second when we step from this life into the life the Lord Jesus has prepared for us, it will be a time of experiencing things we could have never even imagined would have existed before. It will be an eternal time of beholding amazing beauties and glories unfolding before our eyes.

If it only took the Lord six days to create the glory that is this beautiful globe we call Earth, consider what our place in heaven must be like if it has taken two thousand years to complete!

"But as it is written,
Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,
neither have entered into the heart of man,
the things which God hath prepared
for them that love Him."

(I Corinthians 2:9)

Monday, September 13, 2010

beyond the bow. . .

September 10, 2010

This was such a nice trip.

We put in at Pole Cat Bay, which was very calm. This should have warned us that Mobile Bay would not be smooth. As we crossed under the bridge to Mobile Bay, we could tell we would once again have waves to deal with. But his time they seemed to come from every direction. Water crashed upon us from every side of our boat, on our arms and legs and in our faces. I experienced some of the biggest crashes down from waves ever.

Once we paddled past the Battleship, the water smoothed out some as the wind died down. Our goal was to find our little sandy beach area for a real picnic this time. In the cooler on Glen's boat was fried chicken, potato salad, rolls and even dessert! We paddled along, scanning the scoreline for our little "beach". The further we paddled, the more evident it became, there was no shore, our beach was underwater. We reverted to plan B.

We decided to paddle back out to the water from the shoreline. We leashed the boats together and had our "picnic" right there in the bay on the water. It was a delicious meal and the scenery was perfect. As we enjoyed our southern cuisine, the current gently pushed us back toward the bridge. The paddle back was fairly easy even though the waves were still a bit rough, the current carried us along even more than our own effort.

We made such good time returning, thanks to the strong current, we could sit in our boats on Pole Cat Bay and watch the most gorgeous sunset. The sky was painted colors of gold, pink, red and silver that I could never begin to adequately describe. As we pulled our boats ashore, I told Glen that if heaven is anymore beautiful than that,, we will have to be glorified just to handle it!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The What by the Why

Christians are often very active people.
They pray. They sing. They worship (and be CrossImage by Glen's Pics via Flickrsure, worship is not just singing and praying). They witness. They help the needy. The list of what Christians do goes on and on. But the list of why they do these things should be very short.

I heard a preacher state it clearly and succinctly the other day:
"If we are living for the glory of God and the blessings of others, we won't have worry about the fruit of our actions." Our why needs to be the glory of God and the blessings of others. Period.

While the world looks at the what we are doing, God judges the what we do by the why it is done. It is entirely possible to do the right things for all the wrong reasons.

Perhaps I am singing, not only for the glory of God and the blessings of others, but also because I like to hear myself sing. Maybe I do it because I like to have everyone look at me, I like it when they tell me how much they enjoyed my song. (A clue here is if I feel put out if they don't tell me they enjoyed it, then my motive was probably wrong.)

Perhaps I am making a meal for those in need, not only for their blessing, but because I like others to think of me as a thoughtful, kind person. Would I have the same motivation to do this if no one knew the source of the meal?

Perhaps I find myself participating in a particular form of ministry or service because I like the other people involved. There is nothing wrong with liking the people around you, but if that is the primary reason, the motive is wrong. If those people ceased to be a part of that activity, would I still be willing to attend?

I love the old quote, and I don't remember the source, "Reputation is what people see you do, character is what you do when no one is looking." So I must ask myself, why am I doing what I am doing. Is my motive the glory of God and the blessing of others?

I imagine the great and future judgment, when all my works will be piled up to be judged. I am sure I will look upon my pile and see things I am sure will bring forth gold, silver and precious stones after being tried by fire. Most of those surely will be destroyed in a puff of smoke as wood, hay and stubble simply because my motive was not right. A few works and actions, which by my standards, may seem so inconsequential, may turn out to be the most precious of all.

We cannot, we should not, look inside ourselves to test our own motives. The depth of the human soul can be a very dangerous place and self absorption leads to. . .well, self-absorption. Instead, let us pray, as did David:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalms 139:23,24)

It is not our place to convict ourselves of sin. If we submit ourselves to the Lord, the Holy Spirit will convict us of any wrongful motive we have. He will use the Word of the Lord, the fellowship of the saints and His own working in our lives to do so. It is only our place to submit our hearts to such leading.

"The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men." (Psalms 11:4)

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Let Us Remember

On this day, let us remember. flag_9-11Image by Arlington County via Flickr

Let us resolve to have the courage that they did as they ran up stair after stair. As they did as they rushed to the cockpit of a high-jacked plane.

Let us not forget the thousands lost that day and those lost in faraway lands since.

Let us not let their deaths be in vain.

The blood of every American Patriot is in our hands. What will we do with it? How will America of the future judge us? Will we be proven faithful in the battle for which they died?

"We will always remember. We will always be proud. We will always be prepared, so we will always be free." Ronald Reagan

"None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world." George W. Bush

Friday, September 10, 2010

Inches Make Champions

It was the great football coach, Vince Lombardi, who said, "Inches make champions".Vince LombardiImage by jimbowen0306 via Flickr

The sentiment of that remark was that those who will excuse themselves for little things, will not have integrity in the big things. Our daughter Marie made the comment the other day of how the truth in even the tiniest of things matter so much. "Inches make champions." Not only on the football field, but in life, in character. One who is determined to be truthful in the little things, the tiny things, will exhibit stalwart character in the big things as well.

A great example of this is a dear friend of ours, Arman. He relayed the story years ago of how he felt it was not right to read his Bible once he had clocked in at work. "That time belongs to my company and if I am not working during that time, it is as if I am stealing from the company." This is integrity and truth in the little things.

“Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.” -- Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist

Even writing this, I am convicted of so many "small things" of which I have not been careful. It seems so easy to be careful, even passionate, about the big things, but to let the little things slide. Glen and I were discussing yesterday how inexcusable it is for us to not be kind and thoughtful to others in their lives, especially to those who live and work so closely with us. These are areas where it is so easy to forget the importance of the "little things". May we all pray that the Lord would open our eyes to our own "little things" that we may be found faithful in these, as well as the big things.

"Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. (Song of Solomon 2:15)"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Wave Beneath My Boat. . .

While kayaking a few days ago, we encountered some rough water with big swells and waves.

(To read the story of that trip click here.)

I was grateful we were traveling with the waves instead of against them. We have done that and it is hard work for recreation.

As I paddled in the water, I could feel the stronger waves pick up the end of my little kayak. At that point I would paddle as forcefully as I could. My effort combined with the effort of the wave, would push me far in the water. Once the wave was past, I would paddle my normal stroke until I felt another wave at my stern.

Immediately I thought the words of Jesus, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."(John 5:17) The dynamic of our lives as Christians should follow the pattern of His earthly life. We do not do all the work ourselves. God does not do all the work for us. It is our working through the Lord Jesus Christ. I paddle and the wave pushes. We work together.

There have been times in my life when I wanted the Lord to completely override me and do things for me which I felt totally incompetent to do in and of myself. There have been other times when my self-sufficiency has overcome me and I have run out ahead of God and done things by myself, completely apart from His Will and working.

Our life with the Lord is a union, compared to a Head and a body, and a husband and wife. We trust Him for the wisdom, strength and will. We believe that He works in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13) He is always the wave beneath our boat, and we just keep faithfully paddling.

"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
Make you perfect in every good work to do His will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ;
to whom be glory for ever and ever.

Hebrews 13:20

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"A Cup of Coffee Sure Would be Nice"

As I type this, my hand alternately holds a cup of steaming hot coffee. Sipping the fresh fragrant beverage reminds me of Mrs. 'Nirva.

Mrs. Minerva was one of the sweetest women at the convalescent home where we hold church services. Each Sunday or Tuesday when we were there, you would hear Mrs. 'Nirva (as she wanted to be called) say one of several favorite phrases. One was "Every day's a good day!" This cheerful sentiment would be expressed frequently throughout a single meeting. She would also be heard to say, "This is a lovely little chapel!"

The phrase she repeated which touched my heart the most, perhaps because I alwayA photo of a cup of coffee.Image via Wikipedias agreed without fail, was, "A cup of coffee sure would be nice!"

Mrs. Nirva loved coffee. For a long time I wondered why the care-givers wouldn't just give her a cup of coffee. Then they told methey had indeed given her coffee, but she would immediately forget she had just finished a cup and would begin to ask for another. Mrs. Nirva had a continual longing for coffee, (me, too!).

Everyone longs for something. Some may long for a child to fill their house. Others may long for their nest to be empty. Some may long for a big house, some for a smaller house. Some long for a job, some long for retirement. Some long for the companionship of a mate, some long for the quiet of solitude. Some long for peace, others for the stimulation of debate. Everyone longs for something.

The truth of the matter is that our hearts are actually longing for the Lord Jesus. As the song says, "For our lonely hearts are made only for Christ Jesus. They rest not until they find the Lamb of Calvary."

Often we think we are searching for something. . .the healing of an illness, the healing of a broken heart, the finding of something lost. . .and when we actually find those things we find our hearts still have an aching in our hearts, a place not quite filled.

We will never be fulfilled, never be satisfied, until we look to the One who came to be our satisfaction and fulfillment. The Lord Himself told us, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33)."

When we first seek Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith, as the "one thing needful" then all those other things can be added. They will be the whipped cream on top of the Cafe Mocha, not the coffee itself, but an added something that adds to it.

"But Christ is all, and in all.(Colossians 3:11)"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

beyond the bow. . .

September 6, 2010
Mobile Bay

Our first "picnic" trip!

We were relieved as we drove up to the put in to see Pole Cat Bay calm compared to our previous visit. We put in and circled around South to Mobile Bay. When we crossed under the bridge of the Causeway and entered Mobile Bay we encountered surprising swells and waves. It took a good amount of concentration to keep on course and to maintain balance.

We headed closer to shore than we had done previously, hoping the water would be calmer, and it was. From that point on it was a fairly smooth paddle. We reached a small area of sandy beach, although not the one we had hoped to reach. It took a little maneuvering through the shallow water to remain in enough water to stay afloat, and still come in to the shore.

Once out of our boats, we had hoped to sit on some driftwood as we ate our snacks, but ants (and some funny hopping type insects) discouraged that. We had our "picnic", enjoyed the scenery and enjoyed having a place where we could stretch our backs.

As we were heading back, the sun was starting to set. I was planning on taking some sunset pictures, but the waves by this point were much to steep for me to take my hands off the paddle for more than one picture. The great thing was that the waves were actually pushing us along our way. I would feel the wave come from the back of my boat and would paddle forcefully with the wave. When it had passed, I would paddle normally until the next wave came. Glen told me when we were back in the car, he had wondered how I kept getting so far ahead of him.

Once we made it back to Pole Cat Bay, the water there was once again calm and still. We both enjoyed sitting in the water for a few minutes, but the light was quickly disappearing. Reluctantly, as usual, we left the water for another day.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Where the Food Is. . ..

Lately there has been a great deal of conversation and speculation as to whether or not President Obama is a Christian. Invariably in this discussion it is mentioned that the Obama's do not attend church since moving to Washington, DC. Often this is discussed in contrast to both Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush who frequently attended church.

Let me first state that whether President Obama has a true relationship with the Lord Jesus is between him and the Lord. It is not for me to decide. But it does remind me of something that happened the other morning when we were kayaking.

We set out just before sunrise and I noticed several fishing boats on the water, dragging their nets behind them. In the air all around the boats flew multiple sea gulls. These birds weren't circling the fishing boats to prove they were birds. They weren't flying to prove they could fly. They were circling the fishing boats because that is where the food was. The fish were on the boats.

When discussing a Christian attending church, one must question, why does a Christian attend church? Certainly not to prove that one is a Christian. A Christian goes to church because they want to. They want to be taught by the pastor and teachers there. They want to be encouraged by their brothers and sisters in the Lord. They want to have the opportunity to share and sing and pray together. It strengthens their heart, or as the Bible states it, "iron sharpeneth iron."

Several months ago, extenuating circumstances kept one of our friends from church. When he rejoined us, he told us how much he had missed "this fellowship together." The manner in which he expressed it made me think of an almost tangible bond between us all. For Christians it is not only something we want, but something we truly need. When a Christian doesn't want to fellowship together with other believers, that usually is an indication of something wrong somewhere.

The Lord has given us His Spirit, His Word and the communion of our brethren in the body of Christ for support, encouragement, correction and instruction. We do well to follow the advice of the author of the book of Hebrews:

"Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching." Hebrews 10:25