Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Sore Shoulder

I have a pinched nerve in my neck which causes pain in my shoulder and down my right arm.  However, if I use very good posture -- keeping my head and shoulders back --the pain seems to go away.  The pain helps to remind me  to do what I should be doing in the first place. . .sitting correctly.

Have you ever noticed sometimes the Lord allows people in our lives who in some way shape or form present pain to us? Maybe they themselves cause us physical or emotional distress or pain, or perhaps they cause it for someone we love --which I think can be harder to bear.  Often we may find ourselves wondering "Why?"  Just why has the Lord allowed this person's influence to be prevalent in our lives?

I sometimes wonder if it isn't because He knows those are the very people who need our prayers the most and for whom we might be most led to pray.  Let's face it, it is the body part which hurts that gets the attention.  Perhaps He knows if this person were not so troublesome to us, we would not remember to pray for them quite as much.

So let us take those opportunities that present themselves, hour b to harbor resentmentsn or frustrations, but to pray for those the Lord has allowed in our paths, even when they may appear as rough stones.

"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" Matthew 5:44

Under His Wings

Christmas evening, as we were gathered together in our living room, a tornado tore through the midtown section of our city approximately 1.13 miles from our house.  The tornado sirens were blaring and soon the sound of police and fire sirens followed.  In fact, I can't remember ever hearing so many sirens at one time ever before.

Our grandson Jackson, who is six, asked about the ominous sound which was drowning out our Christmas music and we told him it was the tornado sirens.  He immediately erupted into tears and fear.  Earlier this week, another tornado had come through almost the same area of town and created a good bit of damage.  I suppose Jackson had heard some adults talking about this.  Also, he has seen the movie "The Wizard of Oz" numerous times.  To his little brain, tornadoes are things that "suck you up" and carry you off far, far away.

In an attempt to console him, I wrapped  my arms around him and turned him toward the seven adults in the room.  "Jackson, do you see all these people in this room?  Each one of these people would do anything -- ANYTHING -- to protect you and keep you safe.  We are all here to take care of you."

Little Jackson, for whom tornadoes are more a thing of movie fiction and nightmares than reality, could not grasp the fact that each one of those adults, his father, his grandparents and aunts, and friends, would give their very lives to protect and save him.  He cannot realize how much he is loved and how safe he is in their presence.

In the same way, we can have no concept of how much our Heavenly Father loves us and desires to take care of us and keep us safe.  He is our Tower, our Strength, our Shelter in a time of storm.  We can rest in the knowledge that "safety is of the Lord."

"He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust: 
His truth shall be thy shield and buckler" 
Psalm 91:4

 "I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: 
for Thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety." 
Psalm 4:8

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What It's All About. . .

It can't be said any better than this:

 "And this is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

 May the truth and light of Jesus Christ our Lord 
shine in your hearts and lives today and every day of your lives.

We wish each of you a very Merry Christmas. 

Glen & Frances 
and, of course, our own little "Snoopy", Sparrow

Monday, December 24, 2012

The One Celebrated Birth

Christmas Eve.

For some it is a time of great anticipation.  For some a time of reflection and worship.  For some a time of preparation.  For some a time of anxiety and frantic last-mintue activity.

On Christmas, we celebrate a birth, one of billions.  I have been blessed to have witnessed the birth of literally thousands of babies.  Birth is such an incredible miracle, but have you ever asked why the world celebrates this one birth? And why now, centuries later, so many are trying to stamp out that celebration. . .to remove the birth from the celebration?

It isn't because of the birth, it is because of the life lived after the birth.  If the Lord Jesus had not lived a perfectly sinless life upon this earth, His birth would have held no more meaning for mankind than any other.  If His death had not been for the redemption of the sins of the whole world, His being born in a manger would have just been a story of a couple who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.  If His cold, lifeless body still remained in that borrowed tomb, there would be no Christmas tree in our living room today, no Candlelight service at church tonight, no lights on the houses all throughout our neighborhood.  There would be no Christmas, for He would not have been the Christ.

But it wasn't.

The Lord Jesus Christ, miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit of a young virgin, did live that perfectly sinless life, though He was tempted in every way in which we are, "yet without sin."  And He went on to the cross, a cruel death of shame and horror, "to give His life a ransom for many."

The third day, just as He said, He came forth from that tomb, that we may one day have the hope of coming forth from ours as well.  More than that, He gives us the sure hope that we may walk out of the "tombs" in which we find ourselves from moment to moment and day to day.  We have left walking in death and darkness and can walk in "newness of life" in this very moment, because of His birth, His life, His death and His resurrection.

So when we look at our celebration of Christmas today, tonight and tomorrow, let us look at baby Jesus and remember that baby grew to be a Man who lived a sinless life for us.  Let us look at our Christmas tree and remember the cruel tree upon which He gave His life for our sins.  Let us look at the manger and remember the tomb from which the Lord Jesus rose from the dead to secure our salvation if we trust in Him.

This is why His birth is celebrated by the world.  This is why we love Christmas so much, because it is the beginning of the greatest love story the world has ever known.  God became a baby. . .for us.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Why Babies?

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Why do people love babies?

Watch people around them. . .if they pass a baby in a store, they will slow down to look at the baby, perhaps speak to the mother or father.  Politicians love to hold them and kiss them for some reason.  Why is that?  People just seem to be facinated with them.

Even our dog seems to know the difference between babies and adults, or even children for that matter.  When our grandchildren were first born, I was very concerned how our beagle, Sparrow, would respond.  She is a sweet, loving dog, but animals can be very unpredictable, so I watched her carefully.  She smelled the baby over from head to toe, but I never once saw a lick or a nudge.  She seemed to keep a special distance from the baby (maybe it was that diaper smell, I don't know.)

Child (close-up)
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People just seem to love babies.

Some say it is because babies are totally innocent, and there is truth in that.  They are soft and new, too.  But I think there is something different as well.  As a Labor Room nurse, I've had the honor of seeing literally thousands of babies in my lifetime and I think that babies somehow intrinsically represent something else to us, something deeper, something more eternal.

I think somewhere deep in our hearts, deep in our spirits, when we see a little baby, that baby face speaks to us of how our Lord, the very God of the universe loved us enough to leave the throne of Glory and be made of "no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:  And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," (Philippians 2:7-8).

Somehow I think every baby points to us of that baby born in Bethlehem...

"And the angel said unto them, 
Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, 
which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 
which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; 
Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, 
the shepherds said one to another, 
Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, 
which the Lord hath made known unto us.
 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. "  

Luke 2:10-16

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pregnant Women and The Hobbit

My job is built on expectations. 

English: Photograph of abdomen of a pregnant woman
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pregnant women are often said to be "expecting" because they are looking toward that day when their baby will be born and placed in their arms.  They aren't said to be "hoping" because  the delivery is pretty much a certain thing, even if the pregnant woman would rather avoid it.  In  approximately nine months, or as we count it, forty weeks, a baby will come. It is just about inevitable.

There is another One who is expecting and His expectation cannot and will not be thwarted.

 "But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, 
sat down on the right hand of God;  
From henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. 
 For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." 
Hebrews 10:12-14

The Lord Jesus Christ, having accomplished that for which He came to earth, having offered that "one sacrifice for sins for ever," is now at the right hand of God the Father waiting, "expecting till His enemies be made His footstool".  It is not something that might occur, it is something that absolutely will occur and the Lord Jesus is "expecting" it.  

We can expect it, too.  Sometimes it seems like the enemies of our Lord -- and our enemies, too - are winning in this world.  Don't be fooled. 

My son was telling us the other of a friend of his who had been to see the movie "The Hobbit," based on the book by J.R.R. Tolkien.  My son said he hadn't seen it yet, so his friend said, "I won't tell you about it and spoil it for you."

My son just laughed as he said, "I know how it turns out, I've read the book."  Actually, he read the book as a young boy and has probably read it several times since then.  The plot and the ending would not be a surprise to him.

No more should the plots and endings we see unfolding before us be a surprise to us because we have "the Book" as well, the Holy Scriptures of God, and we can read and re-read it until it is as familiar to us and the Tolkien stories are to my son.

So be expectant, look up...our Lord is expecting and we should be expecting with Him.

 "And when these things begin to come to pass,
 then look up, and lift up your heads; 
for your redemption draweth nigh." 
Luke 21:28

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our oldest daughter Marie is a musician and our youngest daughter Emmie is an artist.  When it comes to Christmas these two women come into their own. 

Marie makes sure the house is filled with beautiful Christmas music, both piano and guitar.  Emmie is busy all season long creating things.  For Emmie, the present isn't enough, the presentation of the package has to have the same thought and care the gift has.

I especially love one of the packages she has placed under the tree.  It is to her boyfriend.  The paper on it is hand-stamped with a stamp she created herself.  Last year her sister gave her a stamp set in which a person can create any stamp they wish.  For this paper Emmie created the stamp of a male and female reindeer, nose to nose.  She stamped this design all over the paper.

The paper bears the express image of what Emmie created on the stamp.  It does not vary from the design she put on the stamp.  Each time she pressed down with the stamp she came up with two reindeer, never two bunnies or two fish.

The Bible tells us that the Lord Jesus is the "express image" of God the Father:

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" (Hebrews 1:1-3).

If you have ever wanted to know what God the Father is like, just look at the Lord Jesus.  He is never not like the Father. If you see the Son, you see the Father.  To know the Father, know the Son. 

"Then answered Jesus and said unto them, 
Verily, verily, I say unto you, 
The Son can do nothing of himself, but what He seeth the Father do:
for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." 
John 5:19

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Stay awake!

I work night shift. 

There are six of us that primarily work night shift in our unit.  A few others rotate down to our shift from time to time.  Those of us who work nights all the time know how to fight the temptation to be sleepy.  We each seem to be acutely aware of what time for us is the most difficult.  For me it is between 4am and 5am. 

You don't find the straight night shift nurses falling asleep.  Why is that?  Because we are very aware of how prone our bodies can be to becoming sleepy and we guard against that.  If we begin to feel sleepy we do something to counteract it.  We get up.  We move.  We do something different.  We drink some ice water.  We have one nurse who chews ice.  I like copious amounts of coffee.

Spiritually, we must do the same thing.  While our belief in the Lord Jesus Christ has created in our spirits a new creature, we still the the law of sin in our members -- our flesh.  And this gives us a tendency to be more asleep spiritually than awake.  The Apostle Paul, however, tells us that it is "high time" to wake up!

"And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. . .But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. (Romans 13:11,14)

We must be aware that our spirits will lust against our flesh and we must not make provision for  the flesh.  We must do something to counteract it.  We must get up.  We must move.  Pray.  Read the Bible. Sing praises.  Share the Lord with someone.    Do something different.  Do not leave walking with the Lord up to chance or else you may just find yourself asleep.

"For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would."
 (Galatians 5:17)

"For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:" 
(Romans 7:22)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What to put on?

What to "put on" is a frequent question, especially for women. 

When we attend the University of South Alabama football games I always "put on" the appropriate clothes.  Since our seats are usually in the sun I make sure my clothes are cool enough.  My shirt is almost always red,  not crimson like the most famous Alabama team, but apple red.  I like it if my shirt has the Jaguar logo on it as well. 

I would not wear that outfit to the symphony.  Since I rarely have opportunities to dress up, I like to do so when we go to the symphony.  The dresses and heels I wear there would be quite out of place at the football game.

When I go to work I don't "put on" either of those outfits.  I put on wine colored scrubs.  By hospital policy the wine pants designate that I am a nurse.  The wine shirt designates that I work in a unit instead of on a floor (where they wear white shirts.)

Each time I am "putting on" something which is distinctive for me. The Apostle Paul told the Romans to ". . .put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof," (Romans 13:14).

He told the Galatians, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ," (Galatians 3:27).

And to the Ephesians he said,  "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," (Ephesians 4:24).

He told the Colossians, "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:" (Colossians 3:10).

Just as I have put on my scrubs for work -- which shows outwardly the inward preparation and credentialing of a nurse -- we who have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ have "put Him on" and we have "put on" the new man He has created in us.

 "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new," (2 Corinthians 5:17).

The struggle comes not in what He is -- He is unchanging and perfect.  It is believing that what He has given us to "put on" is the appropriate attire for the moment.  We must believe we are wearing a dress and heels to the symphony, scrubs to work, and a t-shirt and jeans to the ball game.  

We must believe that we are properly equipped for this moment, and in fact, any moment.  The new man He has created in us is "created in righteousness and true holiness."  The Lord Jesus is Himself the One named "Faithful and True."  Therefore we can have great assurance that we have everything in Him we need to face any moment, any trial, any struggle, any temptation.  He alone is abundantly sufficient.

Let us remember our Lord has left us properly dressed for any situation.

"And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, 
clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." 
Revelation 19:8

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Apologize now. . ."

Last night our grandchildren spent the night with us, but their father forgot to bring their suitcase when he came.  Fortunately, we have some spare clothes we keep here for them, so at bathtime, I brought out the pajamas from "their" drawer.

I was helping my six-year-old grandson as he put on his pajamas.  As I held up his shirt, I realized it wasn't his shirt.  It was a shirt I had searched the house for earlier this fall.  I loved wearing it to our local  football games because of its red color and short sleeves, but it had mysteriously disappeared.

Actually, I had believed my youngest daughter had borrowed it and perhaps misplaced it somewhere in her room.  I had asked her about it and she told me she hadn't taken my shirt, but I still held the suspicion she had it and I shared this with my grandson.

"Jack, I was sure Emmie had taken my shirt!"  As I went out of the bathroom to show the shirt to my husband, who knew I thought my daughter had borrowed it, my daughter Emmie heard our discussion.

"I told you I didn't take your shirt!"

Jack motioned for me to lean over.  Then he held his hand next to my ear and whispered softly, "Apologize now."

"Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength. . ." (Psalm 8:2).  Little Jack, with his sweet little boy voice spoke so much wisdom and truth in those two words.  And yes, I did apologize.  How much like the Holy Spirit he was beside me.  Small and unassuming, yet he spoke the truth softly and clearly, just as the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts.

As Christians, we all have "a little Jack" inside of us to tell us the right thing to do at the perfect time.  It is up to us to follow that "still, small voice."

 "And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. 
And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, 
and brake in pieces the rocks before the LO
but the LORD was not in the earthquake:   
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: 
and after the fire a still small voice."  
1 Kings 19:11,12

Thursday, December 6, 2012

If You Can Speak, You're OK. . .

In the operating room patients having a Cesarean Section sometimes experience the muscles which "feel" breathing become numb from the anesthetic.  This gives the woman the feeling that she is no longer able to breathe sufficiently.  We have learned to tell the patient before hand that this might occur and that to reassure herself, as long as she can speak, she will be breathing OK.

We tend to take our own breath for granted until we are afraid we don't have it, or we think we can't feel it, as is the case with these women.  I was discussing this with my grandchildren the other day.  Since we were beginning the Christmas season, we were quite naturally discussing gifts.  I was telling them how many wonderful gifts the Lord has given to us.  Equating gifts with something wrapped under the tree, I tried to give them an example.

"Did you know even your breath is a gift from God?" I asked them.  My grandson gave me his usual bright eyed, shocked look.  "The Bible tells us that He gives us each breath."  I went on to tell them that the Lord even made it so that we didn't have to think about breathing, it just happened naturally.

"Just think what would happen if you got busy playing and forgot to breathe?" I put much more emphasis on the "forgot to breathe" and immediately I had their attention.  If nothing else, Grannie Frannie can be a great story-teller.

I grasped my neck with both hands as if I was choking, "Oh no," I said in a frantic, pretend voice, "I was so busy, I almost didn't breathe!  I almost died!" Cackles of laughter ensued.  "What if we got sleepy?  How would we ever sleep?  We'd have to wake up every few seconds to breathe!"  I reminded them of just how thoughtful it was of God to make it so we didn't have to think about breathing. 

From a physiological standpoint, it is really neat how the body makes sure that breath continues, as the carbon dioxide levels rise in the body.  Which is why no one can "hold their breath until they die."  I told the children when they were older I'd explain all that to them.  Although, by the time they are ready to understand it, I'm sure I will have forgotten it.

The point is, every gift we have or will ever receive is somehow from the Lord.  Even things we don't realize as gifts, such as our breath, are gifts from Him.

"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;" (Acts 17:24.)

 Once our sight begins to wane, we realize what a gift that is.  Or our hearing.  Every aspect of these amazing bodies He has created is a gift and each one so unique and special.  When we think we have nothing else to be thankful for, we can just start at the top of our head and go down to our tiniest toe and thank away.  We are "fearfully and wonderfully made" and even our bodies are a great gift.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." James 1:17

"Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift." 2 Corinthians 9:15

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Eating Red Dirt

(I have to confess I stole the inspiration for this one from my husband's teaching of our Sunday School class on Sunday morning.  Thanks, honey!)

My husband and I have had the opportunity to watch our grandson Jackson play T-ball.  It is quite entertaining watching these five and six year olds attempt to hit, throw and catch the ball.  Often they are more interested in digging in the dirt and catching bugs than swinging the bat or catching the baseball.

Sometimes when attempting to run around the bases they will fall down.  You would think the natural inclination would be for them to jump up and start running again, but they often seem to like their prostrate position in the red dirt.  The coaches then yell at them and cajole them to get up and run.

Often in my own Christian life I have fallen down as I try to "run the bases." Just like the children on the baseball field, I seem to be oblivious to the obvious course of action, to get up and start going again.  Sometimes it seems like I have fallen down so often surely the Lord is tired of me falling down and He would rather I just stay face-down in the baseline.  But if I do, I will be a stumbling block to the next base-runner who might not make it to home base because I tripped him up.

Fortunately, the Lord doesn't see things the way I see the them.  His view is much different from my view along the red dirt of the base-line. When I sin, His view is of the Lord Jesus holding out His nail-scarred hands and showing His spear-pierced side where He paid the price for my sin.  The Lord Jesus doesn't have to twist the Father's arm to forgive me either.  His heart is already bursting forth with forgiveness and mercy toward me.  "He delighteth in mercy," (Micah 718.)  The Holy Spirit, already resident in our hearts as believers, then with the enthusiasm of that delightful mercy whispers to us, "Get up!" 

Over and over He tells us, "Get up and start walking again!"  He never tires of coaching His little children to walk, to run toward home base.  He wants us to run, that we may obtain, knowing that "they which run in a race run all...", "...Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible," (1 Corinthians 9:24, 25.)

So, let us not stay lingering in the dirt of the base-line, but let us avail ourselves of the forgiveness our Lord has already purchased for us.  Let us avail ourselves of His ready merciful heart and "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 3:14.)

"For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive;
 and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee." 
Psalm 86:5

Monday, December 3, 2012

"He's my friend. . ."

Yesterday as we were preparing for our Chapel services at a local nursing facility, we were moving residents from the sunroom down the hall to the Chapel.  I was pushing one of the sweet ladies there in her wheelchair and my husband passed by us in the hallway on his way back to the sunroom. He stopped to greet Mrs. Martha and as he walked away she looked back at me and said, as if to explain who he was, "He's my friend."

"I know," I told her, "he's my friend, too."

It was so sweet the way she said it as if all she needed to say about him was tied up in those three words. 

She could have said that he comes twice a week to preach at the nursing facility, but she didn't.  She could have said that he plays his guitar and sings songs, but she didn't.  She said the very best thing she could say,  "He's my friend."   To her the most important thing was to have someone that was a friend, someone who genuinely cared about her.

We all have such a friend and even more.  We have a Friend who knows everything about us, even the things we try to hide from ourselves.  We have a Friend who is always with us so that we are never, can never be, alone.  We have a Friend who is always praying for us. 

Have we entered into a difficult or painful time?  Our Friend is and has already been praying for us to His Father.   We have a Friend who has more strength than we can ever imagine, who has more patience than we could believe possible and who is the embodiment of Love itself.  If ever there was a friend to have, this is the One.

"Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you," (John 15:15.)

 Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!

by John Wilbur Chapman

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.
Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Friday, November 30, 2012


There is a house in our neighborhood that hasn't been much to write home about.  It wasn't exactly pretty, in fact, it was downright ugly.  That was until recently.

The house went up for sale and when the house changed ownership things began to change.  First we noticed the old carpet had been ripped out and carried to the roadside.  Then there was evidence of floors being refinished.  We could tell the walls were being painted inside as well.  Still the house looked virtually the same on the outside.

Then the carpenter moved outside.  The old, dated wrought-iron rails were pulled down and new, modern wooden rails and posts were put in their place.  The shutters were taken down and painted.  But the biggest change came only this week. 

My husband watched it in stages, but I only saw the finished product as we drove by today.  The old, monochromatic, red brick had been painted.  In it's place was a crisp cream colored house.  Sharp and fresh looking, the whole house looked new.  What had begun as an inward transformation ended up as a total transformation.  What was once an outdated, ugly old house now looks fresh and cute.  The house has been redeemed.

I know how that house feels. I've been redeemed, too.

When we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, it isn't just a mental thought that occurs to us, it is a fundamental change in our most inward being.  That old part of us is not just painted over, it is destroyed, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Romans 6:6.)  

Not only that, but we are resurrected with Him too, "that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4.)

Just as the house in our neighborhood is no longer an ugly, outdated house, we are no longer a sinful, wicked person.  Our new being is "created in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). Our every expectation should be that we should walk in and live in that righteousness and holiness by the power and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ.  After all, would you expect the new owners of the house to sleep out on the old carpet by the side of the road?  No, they will celebrate the beauty of the redeemed house and enjoy the glory of the work of the carpenter.  In like manner we should live in a way that celebrates the beauty of the redemption of our souls and the glory of the work of our own Carpenter.

 "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, 
so by the obedience of One shall many be made righteous. 
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. 
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:  
That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness 
unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."
Romans 5:19-21

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hidden Away. . .

English: Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) on a ...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
On the way home from work this morning I happened to see a squirrel digging up a nut of some sort he had hidden away earlier.  He had buried nuts when they were plentiful for the time when he would be in need.

As I watched the squirrel munch away on his little nut, I thought of the verse:

 "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee" (Psalm 119:11.)

Like the little squirrel, we should hide away nuggets of the Lord's truth in our hearts and  minds so we can pull them out readily when we are in a moment of need.  The truths of Scriptures are a comfort in moments of pain and suffering; they are a strength in times of weakness; they are a tool for use in prayer; they are an encouragement for the downtrodden; they are instruction for those in need of direction; they are reproof for those in error; they are the sword of the Spirit for those in battle; they are edification for the saints and a source of praise for the joyful.

Whatever the situation, the Scriptures tell of the answer because the Scriptures are all about the One who is THE Answer.  Whatever the need, the Scriptures describe the supply because they tell of the One who supplies "all your need according to His riches in Christ Jesus."  

  "Thy word is true from the beginning: 
and every one of Thy righteous judgments endureth for ever." 
Psalm 119:160

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Enlightened Eyes

Last night we were traveling to a store a few miles from our house.  As we went down the road I was looking out the window and began to marvel at the wonder of our eyesight.  Moving my focus from one thing to another my eyes instantaneously adjusted and refocused so that I could see.  I remember one moment that wasn't the case.

I had always prided myself on my good vision.  Then in my forties, my close vision began to leave me.  I didn't grieve too much over that, I figured it was part of life.  At least I still had great far vision! I adjusted by wearing monovision contacts -- a contact in one eye to see close up, while the other eye sees far away.  That worked quite well for many years.

English: A typical Snellen chart. Originally d...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Then one day I went to the ophthalmologist for a routine eye exam and contact prescription.  As I looked at the eye chart the nurse projected onto the wall I casually commented, "Oh, you have a new eye chart."

I'm sure she was trying to hide back a chuckle as she replied, "It isn't a new chart."

Reality had not yet sunk it, "It must be, I could read all the lines on the old chart," I said.

She put her hand on my shoulder, "It is the same chart."

Then it hit me.  It was the same chart, but my eyes weren't the same.  I just couldn't see far away anymore.  I left with a prescription for bifocal glasses and bifocal contacts.  Unfortunately, I would still need the reading glasses.  This time I was unhappy.

It wasn't until I picked up my new glasses I realized how much my far vision had deteriorated.  I think I drove my husband crazy that day.  "Look, honey, I can read that sign!"

"Look, I can see the leaves on that tree!"  Everything I had been missing for at least a year or maybe two I now announced to him.  Having worn glasses since he was about eight, it dawned on me after a while that he understood the wonders of corrective vision and I kept my joy to myself.

We have other "eyes" besides those in our head.  In the book of Ephesians the Apostle Paul prays for the Ephesians that the eyes of their understanding may be enlightened.  This is the corrective vision of the heart we all require.  We need the enlightenment which comes by way of the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the communion of fellow believers and discernment of the Scriptures in our hearts.  The more these three are at work in our lives, the more we will "see" those things in our lives that we need to see, and the better we "see," the better we will live.

 "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; 
that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, 
and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,  
And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe,
according to the working of His mighty power," 
Ephesians 1: 18,19

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Imperfect, Perfect Birth. . .

Working in Labor & Delivery, I had have the privilege of being a part of almost 2800 deliveries over my 34 year career.  This includes times when I was the patient's nurse, when I was the scrub nurse, when I was in the delivery helping other nurses and times when I actually delivered the babies.  In my first five years as a nurse I worked in NICU and we attended all high risk deliveries.  There is no way for me to know how many of those deliveries I attended during my NICU years.  There is one delivery however, that I would have loved to witness, that I would love to know even a little more about.
Birth of Jesus Matthew 2:1
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In five weeks we will celebrate the birth of the Lord Jesus, one of the most important events of human history  andyet it has so little information actually revealed about it.  Being an L&D nurse, I want details! I want video if it is available!

Couples today spend the forty weeks of pregnancy planning the aspects of their child's birth.  Every detail has to be exactly what they want it to be.  They decide who will be with them for the big event.  They bring in massive amounts of belongings and equipment for the baby, all bearing the new child's monogram, of course.  Everything has to be perfect, everything new, sweet smelling and shiny.

Contrast what we know of our Lord's birth. The newborn baby Jesus, instead of being placed in a sparkling new baby bed, was laid in a feeding trough for animals.  The Lamb of God was placed were the lambs came to get their food.

Instead of monogrammed onesies and day-gowns, our Lord was wrapped in swaddling clothes.  The clothes of death were monogrammed with His purpose in going to the cross to purchase our salvation.

Instead of a parade of family members to visit, the Lord Jesus was visited the night of His birth by a group of shepherds who came to worship the One who is the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd and the Chief Shepherd.

It seems as if everything was wrong about our Lord's birth, but everything was, in fact, perfect.  It was the perfect place, the perfect time and the perfect way for a God who values love and humility.  Everything about His entrance into this world speaks to us of His heart.  

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls," (Matthew 11:28,29.)

He is a meek and lowly, humble and loving God. 

Monday, November 26, 2012


Deutsch: Adler im Blue Ridge Montain Parkway, ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
When I was a teenager my parents took a vacation through the Smokey Mountains. My cousin of the same age and myself accompanied them. 

While traveling through some of the most beautiful scenery of our country my cousin and I slept in the backseat.  Multiple attempts to wake us so we could view the glories outside our windows were futile.  As young teenagers, we valued sleep more than vistas.  We weren't able to awake to the beauties around us.

The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians, "Awake to righteousness, and sin not;" (1 Corinthians 15:34.)  It seems there are times in our lives we simply choose to remain asleep to righteousness.  Just as my cousin and I just ignored the beautiful mountain vistas outside our windows, we choose to ignore even the choice of righteousness.  Yet to do so seems to lead to the inevitable unrighteousness. 

There is no neutrality, we either walk in the spirit of life and true holiness or we walk after the flesh.  We walk in the sleep of ignoring our walk with Christ or we walk in "newness of life."  We have a choice and we have a choice each and every minute.  The last minute is past, only this minute is alive unto us now.

There is an old movie in which the hero must choose one cup among hundreds.  The person before him chooses wrongly and is immediately annihilated.  The Keeper of the cups states in the most droll manner, "He chose poorly."    We too, like the hero in this movie, must make wise choices, only our choices have eternal consequences.  Let us remember that each moment represents a choice to us to choose to awake unto righteousness or to walk after the flesh.  Let us "choose wisely."

"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, 
choose you this day whom ye will serve. . .
. . .but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
 Joshua 24:15

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bountifully Blessed

Today is a day set aside by our nation to give thanks and we have so much for which to give thanks.

As I write this I can see the glow of Christmas lights from our tree in the corner.  The smell of the turkey roasting in the oven fills the air.  Everywhere I look, from the beagle sleeping peacefully at my feet, to the roof over my head speaks of bountiful blessings.

Sometimes to realize how very blessed we are we have to look somewhere else.  I read today that in 2011, 44% of Africans lived on $1.25 or less a day.  I confess I have paid more than that for a cup of coffee before.  That's  only $456.25 a year.  Sometimes we forget just how much we have to be thankful for.

I had a stark reminder at 1a.m.  I was sleeping soundly and blissfully, until a realization woke me, bolted me upright and shot me out of bed like a bullet out of a gun.

I have always cooked my turkeys as my mother did, and I have never had a bad turkey. I cook my turkey long, slow and low, through the night.  In the morning, the thermometer wedged in his thigh shows he has reached a temperature safe to eat and he is a beautiful golden brown.  The house is full of a glorious Thanksgiving aroma and the oven is free for the dressing and Spinach Madelaine which has to be cooked later.  Only last night I forgot to put the turkey in the oven before I went to bed.  At 1a.m. something, I choose to believe it was the Lord, woke me up with the remembrance the turkey was still sleeping in the refrigerator.

Today I will be thankful for many things. . .my sweet best friend and husband, my wonderful children, my beautiful grandchildren, our special friends joining us around our table today and all our bountiful blessings.  But I will also be thankful for that "still, small voice" that whispered at me in my sleep to wake me up and put the turkey in the oven.

"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, 
This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." 
Isaiah 30:21

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wearing the Smell. . .

I spent most of yesterday in the kitchen cooking for Thanksgiving.  Around midday, however, Glen and I left for our usual Tuesday services at a local retirement community and nursing home.  I was sitting in the service as Glen was praying, and I noticed a very distinct aroma of garlic and onions emanating, not from the facility kitchen, but from my hair.  The very last thing I had cooked before we left was the vegetables for our cornbread dressing, which is composed of onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic sauteed in olive oil.  As I stood over the pan, my hair became infused with the fragrance of the vegetables.

What a simple lesson we can learn in this.  We pick up the attributes, the characteristics, sometimes even the actions of those persons, those things with which we immerse ourselves.  If those around us have bitter, complaining attitudes, before long we will find the words of bitterness and complaint pouring out of our mouths as well, even as much as we dislike them.  If those around us have mouths full of profanity, we may find those words popping into our brains to our dismay and for some it may be quite a struggle to keep them from popping out of our lips as well.  If we are around those who have cheerful, kind attitudes, we will find that they naturally sweeten our own attitude more.

While we cannot control everyone around us, it behooves us to choose our friends well, to seek those who love the Lord Jesus and seek His will in their lives.  We should also strive to be those that others would want to choose as their friends, having that sweet, spirit which evidences the residence of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, 
be put away from you, with all malice: 
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, 
forgiving one another, 
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." 
(Ephesians 4:31,32)   

"A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: 
and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother." 
(Proverbs 18:24)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Let Us Have. . .

Thanksgiving Turkey
 (Photo credit: ccho)
On Thanksgiving Day each member of our family is allowed to choose a dish they would like that day.  That being said, our menu doesn't vary much because everyone always wants the same thing.  But if they wanted something different, all they'd have to do is ask.

Our Thanksgiving menu turns out to be a pretty standard Thanksgiving Day meal considering the menu is open for requests.  The one unusual item is more of a tradition than a request.  Each year, while we are thanking the Lord for His amazing blessings to us, our rolls burn.  We could blame that on the fact that we allow the preacher at the table to say the blessing, but we each suspect it is actually more because there is one person who prefers their rolls rather well-done.  That's all I'm going to say about the roll situation except that almost each year they turn out a good deal too dark.

Our "table" that the Lord sets for us is much like our Thanksgiving Day meal.  He has allowed us to make choices in our lives and then He works those choices into His plans for our best.  He could have made it so that we had no choice, but He didn't. 

He could have also make it so that we had to work and toil and strive for our salvation, but He didn't.  Instead He gave us a free gift of grace that we only need to receive by faith.  As the writer of Hebrews penned, "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:"(Hebrews 12:28.)  So "let us have grace. . ." to begin our life with Him and to continue the wonderful blessing of a walk with the Lord Jesus.

"Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift."
2 Corinthians 9:15

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Tree

Today we will put up our Christmas tree.  Not so much because it is a matter of tradition to do it on this day, but because it is most convenient to do it today.  I have to work Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and of course, I will be cooking much of tomorrow and Wednesday, so today is the day.

I can remember as a young girl begging my father to go to the Christmas tree lots to pick out our tree.  It didn't matter to me if it was cold or raining, but it did to him. He would find every excuse not to go.  Of course, as a young girl I didn't understand being tired after working all day.

I actually only remember my father moving quickly once in my life -- that was the afternoon Glen wanted to ask for my hand in  marriage.  Suddenly my father had errands to run that just couldn't wait and he was out of the house in a flash.  But around Christmas?  He was as slow as the day itself.

Once we finally had made it to the lot and selected a tree, it wasn't as if it was going to be decorated anytime soon.  My father was the only one allowed to put the lights on the tree and he was a perfectionist.  It seemed like it took him forever to put those lights on the tree.  Knowing my dad, it probably did take him forever!  I don't ever recall seeing a wire on the trees when I was young, but then I was probably spending most of my time looking at the bottom of the tree where all the presents were piled. 

I enjoy putting up our tree, but I enjoy having it up even more.  By the end of the day approximately 800 ornaments will be on our eight-foot tree, I will have consumed at least four or five cups of coffee and our living room will look like Christmas.  That Christmas tree smell will have to come from a spray or candle, our tree is not real.

For years we had real trees -- I especially loved the Frasier Fir trees -- until I found out they were the reason I was sick each December.  Now that I know I am allergic to most Christmas trees and am resigned to an artificial tree, December has become much easier.   The garland around my mantle isn't real either.  While it is easy to tell the garland isn't real, my tree can fool you at first.  It's a pretty good fake tree even without all the lights and ornaments, but when covered with tons of shiny, colorful things to hide the fake limbs and branches, it starts to look fairly real. It's amazing how easily we can adapt to something artificial, to a "fake", when it seems to benefit us, isn't us?

There is a Bible verse that I loved for a long time:
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment," (John 7:24.)  

Sometimes things may seem perfect to us from the outside, the appearances are all what we think they should be, but the inward is not right.  The shiny ornaments on the outside of the tree look good, but the branches are fake and the needles are made of fabric and plastic.  As Christians we need to utilize the discernment of the Holy Spirit within us to make "righteous judgments" about things in our lives.  We can't just take things at face value, we must "believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,"  (1 John 4:1.)

Let us make sure in our day to day lives that we are seeking the wisdom of the Lord in our judgments and that we are being, as our Lord said, "wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, 
that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; 
and it shall be given him." 
 James 1:5

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Draw Your Sword

sword pommel
 (Photo credit: windsordi)
When Glen and I were first married, he brought home a some books for us written by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  We both enjoyed reading these fantasy stories of hobbits, dwarves, elves and men. 

For most of these creatures a sword was a very important thing.  Aragorn, as rightful heir to the thrones of Arnor and Gondor, of course wielded the most powerful sword, but even little Frodo Baggins had a hobbit-sized sword, a dagger actually, that glowed blue in the presence of Orcs. 

There are important things to remember about swords.  You must actually have it with you for it to be useful, and you must unsheathe it at the appropriate time.  The same can be said for the "sword" we as Christians have been given.

According to the author of the book of Hebrews, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged 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.)

Just as the characters in our much-beloved fantasy story, we should keep our sharp sword near us at all times.  Better yet, let us say like David, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee," (Psalm 119:11.)  The more Scripture we have hidden in our hearts and our minds, the more we have ready for any moment, for any "battle" we may face along the road.

We must also avail ourselves of our swords at the appropriate times.   The Bible tells us that we will never be tempted "above that ye are able but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it," (1 Corinthians 10:13.)  This makes me think of the temptation of the Lord Jesus in the wilderness.  How did He escape these temptations? Three times the Lord Jesus spoke to Satan and said "It is written," and quoted Scripture.  When we have the Word of God hidden in our hearts, when we have it in our minds, or even if we have it nearby, we can use those words as that "way to escape" in the time of temptation.

Those words can also be a source of comfort in time of pain and suffering.  They can be a source of light in times of darkness and decision.  They can be encouragement when disheartened.  They are for "doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16.)

Let us use our swords often and wisely, knowing that this tool, this great gift, has been given to us by our Lord to enable us to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"Thou art my hiding place and my shield: I hope in Thy word."
Psalm 119:14


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Who Made Jack Grow?

Our grandson Jackson is six.  These days it seems each time I see him he has grown a foot.  It is obvious looking at him now he will end up to be tall like his father and his great-grandfather.  His height is in his genes.  There is nothing he has done to accomplish it and nothing he can do to add even one millimeter more to his height once he has finished growing.

Yet when speaking of adding"one cubit", or about 18 inches, to our height, Jesus referred to this as "that thing which is the least."

 "And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit?  If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest?" (Luke 12:25-26)

I don't know about you, but I think adding a cubit, or an inch for that matter, to my height would be a pretty big deal.  But I am not God.   If added to our height is the least of things, how very easy for the Lord must be so many of the things we request of Him.

He has already promised to ". . .supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," (Philippians 4:19), which pretty much encompasses everything we could ever need.  He has already ". . . raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 2:6),  which puts us in the very best place we can be, regardless of where we find our earthly bodies.

If something we easily recognize as totally impossible for us the Lord Jesus declares to be the "that thing which is least", it is no wonder we are told over and over again in Scriptures to cast all our cares upon Him. 

It is because He can handle them.  There is nothing we can bring to Him that is too big for Him and nothing that can take Him by surprise.  If we simply concentrate our lives on Him and His righteousness, then all the "things" -- the least and the not so least -- will be added.

"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; 
and all these things shall be added unto you." 
Matthew 6:33

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Caution: Joy Ahead!

Sometimes when I am leaving for work in the evening, my mind is not on the job to which I am heading, but on the bed I have just left.  I am reminding myself that when I return home I can climb back into my incredibly comfortable bed and sleep.  On some days I actually have the luxury of sleeping as long as I would like, although I rarely take advantage of that luxury.

During my night of work, my mind may return often to the thought of that comfort awaiting me in the morning.  On some nights it is the sheer promise of sleep in the morning that helps me -- and my night shift co-workers -- get through our shift until we see the faces of our day shift counterparts in the morning.  It is the comfort and pleasure ahead that keeps us going through the twelve hour shift.

We see this principle at work in our very jobs as we help women to labor and deliver  their babies.  The pregnant women toil throughout the hours of labor then complete the tiring job of pushing for the joy and happiness of having their baby placed into their arms.  What is the promise of joy that the new mother has during labor? Her joy is that she will bring her child into the world.  "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world," (John 16:2.)

In order to secure our redemption, the Lord Jesus willingly left the glory of Heaven, left His Father and  took upon Himself the robe of humanity and lived a life of sinless perfection even though He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin," (Hebrews 4:15.)

What was it that propelled Him along?  The Scriptures make it clear:

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God," (Hebrews 12:2.)  

 For the Lord Jesus, perhaps part of "the joy that was set before Him" was the knowing that His life, His death and His resurrection was to bring many sons into the world of Heaven:

"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man.   For it became Him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren. . ."  Hebrews 2:9-11

Monday, November 12, 2012

Be Still. . .

English: A Led Traffic lights
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
One day we were heading to the church where my husband teaches Sunday School.  This church is 18.77 miles -- or 27 minutes -- from our house, and we were already running late.  The first traffic light we encountered was red and stayed red. We had encountered the traffic light in the beginning of it's cycle and we sat at the intersection for about five minutes, although it seemed like fifteen.

Since we were already running late, sitting still at the light was a difficult exercise in patience.  I tried to remind us both that perhaps this delay was allowed by the Lord to save our lives.  If we had not encountered this red traffic light we might have encountered a driver traveling at dangerous speeds instead.

The traffic light gave us an opportunity to "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10.)  There are so many instances in our lives in which we have limited information and limited understanding.  However, "Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite," (Psalm 147:5.)

I like to think of it in terms of my relationship with my grandson, Jackson.  Sometimes I will be doing something with Jackson and he will try to explain to me why we should be doing it another way.  Jackson is a very bright boy, but he has the understanding of a six-year-old, while I have the understanding of a grandmother.  My understanding is much greater than his simply because of my age and experience.   There are things I understand that Jackson will not grasp for decades.  (By then, I will probably have forgotten it all!)

In our lives, there are things we don't understand, but we can trust our Lord in the situation because His understanding is infinite.  It isn't just greater than ours, it is infinite. . .without end.  And that understanding is coupled with infinite love for us as well.  Because of this we can have perfect certainty that He is working in our lives "for good to them that love God. . . to be conformed to the image of his Son," (Romans 8:28,29.)

So when those red traffic lights occur in our lives, when those moments happen that we just don't understand, let us choose to "be still and know" He is God, His understanding is infinite, His judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out (Romans 11:33.)

"As for God, His way is perfect: 
the Word of the LORD is tried: 
He is a buckler to all those that trust in Him."
Psalm 18:30
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Friday, November 9, 2012

The Changing of the Seasons

This is one of my favorite times of the year.  The cool weather starts and we have a respite from the heat and humidity of our Southern summer.  Although the majority of our trees are evergreen, the few deciduous trees we have are showing some color and the stores are sporting the signs of the upcoming holidays.

The Bible says of our Lord that His "understand is infinite" and just this one simple thing, the changing of the seasons, speaks to me that it is so.  How dreary I think it would be if our seasons didn't change, if the leaves didn't fall, if winter didn't come so that Spring could eventually burst forth in it's glorious beauty.

My husband's favorite season is fall and experiencing it now I can understand why he loves it so much.  That first breath of cool air, the crispy leaves underfoot, the fall flowers we just planted in our garden are all good reason to love the season.

As for me, I love winter.  I love the cold.  I love to see the bare bine stems and the dormant grass.  I love how there is this bleakness,  everything seeming to be dead, and yet, there is great life waiting just beneath the surface.

And as much as I hate the thought of the approaching hot weather, I do love Spring.  I love the strong winds of March.  I love seeing the new little sprouts of green on the trees and the new flowers popping up everywhere, the earth coming to life again suddenly after a long sleep.

The one redeeming thing I have to say about summer is there is plenty of time for kayaking.  I do not like the heat and I do not like the humidity, but it does make us welcome the change to Autumn.

What if there were no changes in seasons?  No Winter?  No Spring?  How wonderful is our Lord to give us a change of temperature, a change of scenery every few months!

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:" 
Ecclesiastes 3:1

"O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! 
How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!" 
Romans 11:33

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"And Not of Yourselves. . ."

When we attend the University of South Alabama football games, the players on the field often indicate to the crowd to cheer and make noise.  The cheerleaders actually hold up signs that say "Make Noise."

The aluminum bleachers at the stadium give great opportunity to make a lot of noise.  Pounding feet, hands, even keys on these bleachers generates tons of noise and the crowd loves to do so.  Whether this actually influences the outcome of the game is unknown.  We certainly would never say our actions caused our team to win the game, only the actions of those players on the field can do that.

In the same manner, our works -- our good deeds -- never can cause us to enter into heaven.  Only the works of the Lord Jesus can do that.  Our actions can never meet the standard required by God. He requires absolute perfection and until we can obtain the absolute perfection as lived by the Lord Jesus Christ, we can never be justified by our own works.

Thank goodness we don't have to!  Thank the Lord that in His grace and goodness He has provided a way for us, a gift for us, to enter into heaven not based on our works or merit but based on the works and merit of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And all we have to do is accept that gift.  How gracious and merciful is our God!

 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, 
Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by His blood,
 we shall be saved from wrath through Him.  For if, when we were enemies, 
we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled,
 we shall be saved by His life." 
Romans 5:8-10

"For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; 
much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness 
shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." 
Romans 5:17

"For the wages of sin is death; 
but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." 
Romans 6:23

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Planned Obsolescence

Do you know what I don't like about light bulbs?  They always blow out.  It seems that just when you
Foto einer Gl├╝hbirne (an),
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
need that lamp the most is the exact moment the bulb decides to give up the ghost and die.  I suppose if I could find a really great light bulb (that didn't require the EPA to intervene if it were to be broken) that would last say, twenty years I might buy it.  If it were reasonably priced, that is. They could call it "The Endless Bulb."

Think of how that would be, an "endless bulb."  We all love "endless" things.

When I was a young girl, someone gave my parents a huge -- and I mean H-U-G-E roll of wrapping paper.  It must have been at least twelve or eighteen inches in diameter.  I can still see the design of it.  That's because we wrapped every Christmas present  in the house in it for years and years.  It wasn't until I was an older teenager that it began to run out.  That roll of wrapping paper really did seem "endless", but even it eventually came to an end.

There are some things, however, that won't come to an end.  The Scriptures tell us that the Lord Jesus:

 ". . .sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.  And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,  Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life," (Hebrews 7:14-16.)
Our Lord has the "power of an endless life," and to those who have believed in Him, He has given eternal life through faith in Him.  Our bulb will never "blow out."  We have power and hope and grace through Him. 

No matter how dark the night, His light will continue to shine in and through us as long as we trust Him to do so.  The circumstances don't matter, all that matters is that Power coming through our bulb and the Power is the power of the Holy Spirit of the eternal God Almighty.

Let us give thanks to our Lord that there is nothing in this life that can shake loose the filaments of our bulbs.  Let us praise Him that there is no darkness too dark for His light and that there is nothing that can ever separate us from Him, not now nor for that eternal life He has given us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?   
Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?   
As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; 
we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  N
ay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.”
(Romans 8:35-37)
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