Wednesday, August 20, 2014

There's No Place Like Home

We all remember that line.  

Dorothy traveled through Oz with her companions the Scarecrow, the Tinman and the Cowardly Lion.  Scarecrow was looking for a brain, the Tinman a heart and the Lion "the nerve."  

All Dorothy wanted was to go home to Kansas.

Yesterday morning at 3:00am our time, 9:00am Paris time, our daughter Marie, wrote me that she was boarding a flight in Paris for Montreal. She then boarded a plane from Montreal to Atlanta and from Atlanta to Mobile.  She arrived in Mobile late last night.

She has been in Paris for twelve days, seen beautiful sights, eaten incredible food, visited historical sites and marveled at ages-old architecture.   And yet, her one wish was to be home.

As beautiful as Paris had been, she wanted to be home.  I know she was relieved when her plane landed in Montreal and her transatlantic flying was over for a while. 

Even more she was glad when she landed in Atlanta. . .back in the USA.  But her real joy came when she landed in Mobile, then when she arrived back at the house.  Back home.  HOME.  

"But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for He hath prepared for them a city," (Hebrews 11:16.)

Imagine our joy when finally we make that final journey with our Lord to our eternal home. Like Marie, the beauties of this life will have begun to dim and fade and we will have been longing for our rest. . .our home.

Our daughter has been longing to be in Mobile because for her it is a "better city," because it is home.
Let us look to and long for our "better city" which awaits all who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.  

Then, like Dorothy, we can exclaim, "There's no place like home."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fightings and Fears

We all know know fears, I know fears, all God's children know fears.
That is because it is a favorite tool of our enemy to distract, discourage, deceive and destroy us.  
Even the Apostle Paul experienced the temptation to fear:

"For, when we were come into Macedonia,our flesh had no rest, 
but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears," 
(2 Corinthians 7:5.)

But he also said:

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound," 
(2 Timothy 1:7.)

The Apostle John said,

"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: 
because fear hath torment," 
(I John 4:18.)

Like you, I am no stranger to the temptation to fear.  In fact, there are two fears which the enemy frequently temps me and I am going to share them with you today.

First of all, I am tempted to be afraid of the dark and I can prove that.  In my purse right now I have three flashlights. Not one, not two, but three.

The first one, very bright and very near is on my cell phone.  The second is thin and bright and attaches to metal.  The third is exceptionally bright, shines a long way and was given to me by my son.

The other fear I have fought with -- here is that "without were fightings" --for the last thirty-eight years.  I have a fear my husband will die.  

Perhaps this is born in the fact my very favorite uncle, whom my husband is quite a lot like, died suddenly when I was seventeen.  Perhaps it is born from the knowledge my father-in-law died when he was thirty-six.  Perhaps it is just because our two lives are so intermingled I can't imagine a moment without him.  I love the way my sister described it, speaking of her relationship with her own husband, "I breathe in and he breathes out."   But this fear also has a statistical basis, since women usually outlive men.  

As Christians we cannot let our enemy win by defeating us with fear. 

"Perfect love casteth out fear," the Apostle said.  And what is perfect love?  It is the Lord Jesus. The Bible says, "God is love."

When we move our sights from our fears to Him, the fears lose their power and we come to experience what the Apostle John also said, "God dwelleth in us and His love is perfected in us," (1 John 4: 12.)

I can tell you with complete certainty that when we trust the Lord in our moments of fear, He is that peace that passeth understanding and that joy unspeakable.  

How to I know that?  Because that for forty-one years... today, ( I came to know the Lord forty-one years ago today) I have known Him to be perfectly faithful and true in every moment I have trusted Him.  He has never given me a moment to regret putting my faith and trust in Him. 

In 1869 a poem was published in an Illinois newspaper entitled, "Always Rejoicing."  It was attributed simply to Pauline T. and was obviously written out of great pain and fear in the years before, during the Civil War.  Later it was put to music by Robert Wadsworth Lowery and has been published with many different verses and tunes.

This song has several lines which are dear to my heart.  The second verse asks two questions, "What though my joys and comforts die?"  I always think of my fear of Glen's death when I hear that question.  But her answer was, "The Lord my Savior liveth."  

Then she asked, "What though the darkness round me lie?" and she answers that fear with "Songs in the night He giveth."

Later in the song she states, "All is mine since I am His."  which is very close to my life motto, "Trust in the Lord always, for having Him, we have all."

(Also known as "How Can I Keep From Singing?")

My life goes on in endless song:
Above earth's lamentation,
I hear the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It sounds an echo in my soul--
How can I keep from singing?

What tho' my joys and comfort die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness 'round me lie?
Songs in the night he giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that Rock I'm clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

I lift my eyes; the veil grows thin,
I see His Truth above it,
Step by step leads me to Him,
This path how I've learned to love it.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All is mine since I am His
How can I keep from singing?

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that Rock I'm clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

"What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
Psalm 56:3

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Trip

Over a week ago, we took our oldest daughter to the airport to begin her trip to France.

We were so thrilled she had this wonderful opportunity and waited to hear the stories of her travels.

One of her comments was, "It's hard to overstate how beautiful Paris is."  She spoke of the incredible
food (but I'm glad she likes my crepes better,) and the ages-old architecture.  She talked of the moving experience at touring Normandy.  "You just can't describe ten thousand American white crosses all in the same cemetery."

Photo by Marie Davis
In the weeks before her trip, we were excited with her and for her as she shared the evolving plans of her twelve days in Paris. We listened to her describe each leg of her journey, so happy at the sites she would see and the experiences she would have.

As Christians, we each have a wonderful, exciting journey ahead of us, too.  Each one of us will at some point journey to our eternal home.  But when we know that trip is near for one of us, we don't tend to respond with joy.

A group of my friends were discussing this thought this morning.  Someone mentioned a mutual acquaintance whose husband has terminal cancer and the prognosis is very poor.  Our mood was immediately sad.

Photo by Marie Davis
But shouldn't it have been just the opposite?  This dear one is facing the most amazing journey anyone can ever take.  He will soon see things his eyes and ears could not imagine.  He will know peace and joy in ways we could never dream of here.

He will see his God.  

Now that is exciting!  This thought far and away exceeds our excitement for our daughter's trip.

While we will of course mourn the loss of our loved ones, we should affirm, remember and remind each other when the death of a saint is near, the great journey -- the great eternal journey -- this loved one is about to begin.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalms 116:15.) 

Photo by Marie Davis
If the death of a saint is precious in the sight of the Lord, it should be precious to us as well.  As I said this morning, "it's not as if we aren't going to see him again."  For believers, death has no sting and the grave no victory.  We have everlasting life, more glorious than we can even begin to imagine ahead of us and we will spend it together.

Now, I am not unfamiliar with grief and mourning.  Both my parents passed away within four months of each other.  Even now, seventeen years later, there are times the grief comes washing over me like a surprise tidal wave.  But my grief is for me, for my loss of them, not for them.  They are more wondrously joyful, content and full of life than they could have ever been here on earth.

As one of my friends this morning said, "We think this [world] is great, but that [heaven] will be greater than the human mind can imagine."

Let us miss our loved ones, let us mourn their passing, but let us rejoice in this wonderful journey they are entering into and realize that  we "shall go to him, but he shall not return to me. "(2 Samuel 12:23.)

"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."

1 Corinthians 2:9

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Keeper

At our house, I am the "keeper."  By that I mean I keep all the important documents and papers.  I have a red notebook which holds the most important things we may need to put our hands upon.  This notebook holds birth certificates, social security cards, our marriage license, the deed to the house, receipts for major items, etc.
Everyone knows that if for some reason they need to look in that notebook, it has to be returned to its designated place that they had better not take something out of the notebook and not return it.  I hold fast to these documents for safe keeping unto the event we will need them in a hurry.
In the same vein, the Lord Jesus holds fast unto us and keeps us unto all eternity.  We are "kept" by His power:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (I Peter 1: 3-5.)

As good as I am with keeping up with our important papers, the Lord Jesus is perfect at keeping up with us.  We are His and He ever lives in  Heaven to make intercession for us: 

"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4: 14-16.)

There is not a moment time in our lives when the Lord Jesus is not interceeding for us. What a tremendous thought that at this very moment He is praying for us to the Father!  In this day, we are kept by His power, which can never fail.

This is why we can always approach the throne of grace with confidence, knowing that this is the very place to find mercy, grace and help in time of need.  We should find great comfort and encouragement in this.

 He is always for us, He is always available and we are always on His heart.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

In and In

When we walk during the summer I carry at least four liters of water in my hydration pack.  Two liters are in the bladder of the pack and two are in additional water bottles.  The bladder has a tube with a spout near my mouth that makes drinking water during the walk very easy.

Experienced hikers will tell you that, while it is good to carry available water, the best way to carry water is inside you.  They recommend that before starting the hike, you drink a liter of water.

This reminds me of two verses in Scripture:

"For in Him we live, and move and have our being..." (Acts 17:28.) 
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the Hope of glory:" (Colossians 1:27.) 

Christ is in us and we are in Him. There is no where we can go to escape from the Lord.  In fact, the psalmist said:
"Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?  or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there:  if I make my bed in hell, behold, Thou are there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me." (Psalms 139: 7-10.)
Water is the most essential element we carry when we walk.  It is near us and, if we are wise, it is in us.  In a spiritual sense, Christ is the essential element.  For all people, He is everywhere we go and we "live and move and have our being" in Him.  If we are wise, and have accepted Him as Lord and Savior, He is in us.  He is that Living Water which causes us to "never thirst."  

Let us determine to stay "hydrated" in both senses. . .physically and spiritually.  Let us avail ourselves of the "rivers of living water" the Lord Jesus is to us and ever grow in the knowledge that everything we do, we are in and filled with Him.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

God Made the Tears

The other night I dreamed that one of our children had been killed.  Even in my sleep I had been crying and I cried still after I awoke just from the sadness the thought caused.

Tears are often considered a bad thing.  In fact, the other day I saw a young, obviously pregnant woman, crying as she was leaving her house and heading toward her car.  The sight saddened me that she should have encountered something -- bad news perhaps -- that brought these tears to her face.

Tears are useful though.  

They lubricate the eye and keep it free of dust.  Some of the substances in tears fight against bacterial infection.  Tears flow across the eye and into the nasal cavity and help clear this passageway as well.

But not all tears are the same.  

The chemical makeup of tears is different depending upon what caused it.  There are the normal tears which keep our eyes lubricated.  Then there are tears caused by exposure to chemicals or substances in the eye.  These tears help to wash out and clean the eye of the offending agent.

Then there are tears caused by strong emotion.  These tears contain more of the protein-based hormones such as prolactin (best known for its role in enabling breastfeeding and also known for it's relaxing effect on the breatsfeeding mother.)  Emotional tears also contain leucine enkephalin, a natural painkiller.  Is there any wonder we feel better after "a good cry?"

When we experience sadness which brings us to tears, the Lord has already provided --in our own tears-- substances which can help us feel better.  God made those tears which fall from our eyes, and He knows pain, too.  The Lord Jesus is referred to as the "Man of Sorrows" in the Scriptures.  So the One who is the most "aquainted with grief" is also the One who put natural painkillers and relaxing agents in our tears.

Our tears are so precious to the Lord, the psalmist said, "Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?" (Psalm 56:8.)

The next time we are lead to tears, let us remember the One who suffered much for our salvation, the One who created tears, the One who from the foundations of the earth made provision for us in our tears.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Better than Butter

I guess I have a couple things in common with Paula Dean.  We are both southern girls and we both like butter.

To me, butter is the sum of all culinary things.  Almost every dish I love contains or conveys butter.  I love bread, with butter.  I love pasta, with butter.  Chocolate has cocoa butter in it.  I love squash, potatoes, green beans. . .all better with butter.

I have always said that cake is only a vehicle for icing, and what is icing but sugar and butter?  There is a bakery in town which uses the slogan, "Butter makes it better," and they are absolutely correct.

I do not, usually, eat butter all by itself, but combined with other ingredients it is a marvelous substance.  For those who would warn me of the dangers associated with butter, I hold to the belief that if God made, it has to be good.

In spiritual terms, butter would be the Lord Jesus.  He is "all and in all."  He is that which makes everything in our lives wonderful.  He doesn't give us love, the Bible says He "is love."  He is our bread of life, He is our living water.  He is all that we will ever need and when we have Him, everything in our lives is better.

The Apostle Paul wrote, "And He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence," (Colossians 1:18.)

He is the most wonderful, most precious Gift we have ever been given. . .even better than butter.

More Precious Than Silver
by Lynn DeShazo

Lord, You are more precious than silver;
Lord, You are more costly than gold;
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds;
And nothing I desire compares with You.