Tuesday, June 30, 2015

So. . .

Each day our daughter comes to us and shares what has happened in her day.  Often she will start the conversation with the word "so."  It is as if she is just continuing the last conversation we have had.  We love these times when she opens up her world to us, we look forward to this time of sweet fellowship with her.

".. . the prayer of the upright is His delight." (Proverbs 15:8)

If we want to know what delights the heart of God, we must look no further than our own voice.  Our prayers delight Him.  Our prayers don't just please Him, they don't just make Him mildly satisfied, they delight Him.

The dictionary defines delight as "great pleasure."  The synonyms are pleasure, happiness, joy, glee and gladness.  This is what we cause in the heart of God when we pray --any time we lift our attention and our prayers to Him.

Knowing this, how could we ever approach prayer as a duty, or as a drudgery?  Prayer is not a duty,  it is an opportunity to delight the heart of One who has given His most precious Son that we might have the freedom to enter into a conversation with our Heavenly Father.

How much more should this thought cause us to bow our hearts and open up our world to Him.  How much more precious is our voice in His ears than any voice can be in our own ears.

Let us seek times often during the day when we can delight the Lord, perhaps even beginning our conversation where we left off, "so. . ."

"Pray without ceasing." 
1 Thessalonians 5:17

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Inside-Out Work

In my daughter's backyard is a pear tree.  The limbs are heavy with clusters of pears waiting to be ripe enough to eat.

Generally, a pear tree will bear fruit when it is four to six years old, depending upon the soil conditions and the amount of rain and sunshine the tree receives.  It takes time for the tree to be mature enough to make fruit.

With us, when we become Christians by trusting in the Lord Jesus, His Spirit comes to live inside of us and God begins to do an "inside-out" work of making our character more like Himself.  It is this work of the Lord in us that produces fruit on the tree of our lives. 

Everything that is not consistent with the character of the Lord Jesus will be pruned away and everything that is consistent with His character will be cultivated and nurtured.  He is the Master Gardner and He has a plan and a purpose specifically for each one of us. He wields His shears carefully and only removes that which is contrary to His plan and purpose.  He is a tender Gardner and loves and cherish that which is to remain.

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, 
are changed into the same image from glory to glory, 
even as by the Spirit of the Lord." 
(2 Corthians 3:18.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Baby Steps

If you have been a regular reader of this blog, you are aware that for several months I have been plagued with plantar fasciitis in both feet.  A visit to the podiatrist, some well-applied tape, and a lighter walking schedule helped my feet to feel much better, but not perfect.

Before our hike on the Appalachian Trail last month, I was concerned how my feet would fare walking over rocky terrain all day for three days.  I anticipated they would be sore, perhaps very sore, but I never anticipated they would be much, much better!  I was amazed that they did not hurt at all on the trail, nor for several days after we returned.

After our return home, I decided to buy some new trail runners, as mine had way too many miles on them.  While at a local outdoors shop the shoes specialist gave the best piece of advice I have heard regarding my feet.

"Sometimes your feet just need a change to heal, perhaps a change of shoe or even just a change of stride."

"A change of stride."  That was precisely why my feet were so much better on the trail, because my stride was constantly changing.  The rocky surface of the trail meant you could not take the same size stride for any length of time.  The changing stride put pressure on different parts of the foot and gave the sore tendon it's due rest.

Coming home, I have tried to remember to take "baby steps" as we were out walking.  In doing so I found that not only did my feet stop hurting, but I was able to go faster with the shorter steps.

When we first become Christians, we want to grow as fast as we can and do great things for Christ.  But in the beginning we are just babes,  and as babes we are "unskilful in the word of righteousness."  

Just as our earthly babies must sit then crawl then stand and finally walk, we as Christians must follow a similar progression.  It takes much time with the Lord and study of His Word to be at a point where we can run.  Many "baby steps" make us grow faster and the Lord clearly expects our growth in Him. Remaining a baby is no more acceptable in the spiritual realm than it is in the physical realm.

So if we find we are merely sitting as a Christian, let us press on to crawl.  If we crawl let us press on to stand, and then to walk and finally to run, remembering that it is the Lord  who worketh in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13.)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
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 12:1,2

Thursday, June 25, 2015

THE Biography

Our family has enjoyed the PBS television series, "Downton Abbey."  Set in Yorkshire, England in the early 1900's, this series portrays the story of the fictitious Earl of Grantham, his family and the servant who work on their estate.

I took some fiction writing classes in college and I know authors of fiction will often create full biographies of each character in their books, including where they grew up, where they went to school and where they have worked.

Some authors will even create large boards containing the biographical information of each character.  Lines will show how each character interacts with others.  All this information will not make its way into the book, it is meant to make sure the portrayal of each person stays true to their history and character.

The Bible, while not a book of fiction, gives us a faithful and true narrative of the biography of God.  In fact the very first words of the Bible tell us more of the Lord's history and character than we can ever imagine.

"In the beginning God created. . ."  (Genesis 1:1.)

This tells us that God was present before the worlds were made, that He was already there at the beginning of mankind.  It tells us that He is a creative person and that He has the power, the strength and the ability to create.   It tells us that He fulfills that which He desires to do.

The Scriptures go on to reveal the person, work and heart of God as revealed through the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Just as an author has more detail about each character than is revealed in his book, there is so much more to know about the Lord than is revealed within the pages of the Bible.  We will spend all eternity searching out the incredible person, work and character of our Lord, and be thrilled in doing so.

"But as it is written, Eye hath no 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.)

Friday, June 19, 2015

A Little Pregnant

When I was pregnant with our first child, I was excited when I finally had reached the point in the pregnancy I could wear maternity clothes.  

I remember the first day I wore some to work.  I was on the elevator with several other nurses in my unit and one commented on how pretty my top was.  When I told her it came from the maternity store she replied, "You aren't pregnant enough to wear maternity clothes."  Her words hurt my feelings and took the wind out of my sails that day.

The truth is from the moment of conception changes and processes begin in the woman's body to stamp her as pregnant.  She is no less pregnant at eight weeks than she is at forty weeks.  It may be more evident to everyone at forty weeks that she is pregnant, and she will know her pregnancy more and the effects of the pregnancy on her body, but she is no more pregnant than she was in the beginning.

As Christians, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, He will never be more in our spirits than He is in this very minute.

"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."  Ephesians 19-22

Our spirits are a holy temple for the Spirit of God and when He enters, He fills us completely.  He joins Himself to us in a way the Scriptures compare to a husband and wife, and calls the result "one spirit."

"But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit." (I Corinthians 6:17.)

We can rest upon the fact that the Lord Jesus indwells us by His Spirit regardless of what we do and don't do.  What we do can never change the fact of who we are in Him.  Just as I may stop having fellowship with my son for some reason (God forbid,) it will never change the fact that he is my son.  His sonship and my parenthood are imprinted on his very DNA.

Our sonship in Christ and the Father's parenthood of us are forever imprinted on the hands and feet of the Lord Jesus.  If we are tempted to doubt this -- and most Christians are at some point -- just remember those nailscarred hands.  They are our "adoption papers" signifying that we belong to the Lord, forever and ever.  We are not a "little saved" we are fully saved and sanctified unto the glory of the Lord in Christ Jesus forever.  

By the which will we are sanctified
 through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
 Hebrews 10:10

For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Hebrew 10:14

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Zeal, Will and Underdone Potato

The other day Glen and I were at the gym.  We had already done our walk for the day and perhaps walking in the heat had taken some away some of our enthusiasm for our weight workout.

At one point Glen came up to me and said, "I don't have much zeal for this today."

My reply came out of my mouth without me realizing I had said it, "Better the will than the zeal."

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do 
of His good pleasure." (Philippians 213.)

"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. 
Amen. (Hebrews 13:21.)

Zeal involves feelings.  Will involves choice and belief.  I can have plenty of zeal and not be acting in the will of the Lord.  I can feel absolutely no zeal, but continue in the Lord's will.  Our feelings are part of that fleshly part of us, easily swayed, easily distracted and easily deceived.  

As Scrooge said to Marley regarding why he doubted his own senses, "Because little things upset them. How do I know you’re not a mere – indigestion? A hard gristle of chop, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato? You’re no more than a stomach upset."

Our feelings can often be changed by "a fragment of underdone potato."  But our will to do the Lord's will is a matter of choice through which He can work in and through us to do "His good pleasure."

Let us have faith that He is currently work in us to will and to do of that "good pleasure" and that He will continue to work in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hidden From the Storm

On our recent hiking trip on the Appalachain Trail, the forecast was for rain and scattered thunderstorms.  We had checked the radar on our drive to Amicalola Falls State Park, where our shuttle was to pick us up and take us to our starting point.  It wasn't clear if the storm would just skirt pass us or hit us directly.  Much depended upon our hiking speed.

We hiked through rain for much of our trip but never had any indications of thunderstorms until the second day.  As we walked we increasingly heard the rumbling of thunder far way (at least we hoped it was far away.)  While crossing a foot bridge over a creek we heard the first crack of lightening.  Having observed many fallen trees scarred along their trunks with lightening, this was not a comforting experience.

I had read several times the things to do, and NOT do, when one encounters lightening on the trail.  Just past the creek we crossed was an area matching the description of a "less dangerous place" (I refuse to call any place on a mountain "safe" during a thunderstorm.)

As we sat and waited it out, we ate a snack and listened intently to the quiet between the claps of thunder and the cracks of lightening.  Finally the quiet between thunder and lightening grew farther and farther apart.  We were able to continue on with no more evidences of thunderstorms.

As we hunkered down from the storm, I felt quite hidden.  Small trees encircled us with taller ones behind them.  We could hear the gentle sounds of the creek bubbling in harmony with the thunder and lightening.  It reminded me of the chorus of a great hymn, "A Wonderful Savior," written by Fanny Crosby:

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock,
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

We have a friend who frequently prays for others that they might be found in the center of the Lord's will.  If we are in the Lord's will, at the place where the Lord wants us to be, then we can not be safe anywhere else.  No matter how much thunder rolls around us, or lightening flashes near us, we must affirm to be content where He has placed us and trust Him to work out His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus in and through us.

"And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, 
What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?"
Mark 4:41

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How Great Thou Art

Aware that Glen and I have recently been hiking in the mountains, I was asked exactly what it was that I liked about hiking.  Almost without hesitation I answered, "the stilltness, the sound of the birds in the trees, the sound of the creeks, and the sheer aloneness of it."

Then today one of our sweet gentlemen at one of the nursing homes where we do services sang "How Great Thou Art."  When he got to the second verse, it echoed in my heart:

"When through the woods and forest glades I wander
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees,

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:

How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!"

In the city we are surrounded by there are so many man-made things shouting at us, we can barely hear the soft, muted sounds of the created things.  In the mountains, with man-made sounds miles of ascents and descents away, the simple sounds of birds singing and brooks bubbling are a loud cacophony of praise to the One who brought them into being.   There is no where you can step workout seeing, feeling, hearing or smelling His handiwork. Our hearts swell with praise and join with all in praising the One who created and sustains us all.

If for one moment the Lord could open our ears to understand the sounds of the mountains and forests, I believe this is what they would be saying:

 "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." (Revelation  5:13.)

How great Thou art, indeed. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Pro Se

A person who represents themselves in a court of law is said to be acting pro se, a Latin term meaning "for oneself."

Our daughter is an attorney and spends a great deal of time preparing before her cases go to court.  If one of her clients tried to walk right up to the judge and speak for themselves the judge would immediately have something to say about it and I don't think it would be positive.

In most legal proceedings, one does not just approach the bench unless asked to do so, or instructed to do so by the judge.  Each client must have a mediator on their behalf, an advocate between themselves and the judge.  Likewise, we cannot ourselves go to God to represent ourselves in regard to our sin.  We must have an advocate, a mediator.

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:" (I John 2:1.)

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; "(I Timothy 2:5.)

The Man, Christ Jesus, is our advocate.  He "ever liveth to make intercession for us."  

Not only do we have an advocate, but He has also paid the entire penalty of our sin.  And He is the beloved Son of the judge. 

What can we have to fear?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Massive Falls and the LittleTiny Trickle

Recently my husband and I hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail which ended at Amicalola Falls State Park.

Amicalola Falls is a 729 foot waterfall in Dawson County, Georgia, making it over four times as tall as Niagra Falls.  There are multiple observation areas available to view the falls.  One is at the top of the falls, where you can watch the water flow from under your feet and then cascade over the top; another at a mid-point in the falls as your pathway takes you across and in front of the falls, and then further down from the reflection pool.

We walked down (thankfully down) the  604 steps of the observation area to view the falls from all angles. (In truth, we were just walking to the end of the Approach trail of the Appalachian Trail to finish our hike, but we could not help but view such beautiful falls while doing so.)

As we stood on the portion of the viewing deck directly in front of the falls, I looked to the side to see small trickles of water running from out of the rock and landing in the falls.

These trickles of water become part of the falls, cascading down tier after tier of rock.  I looked back at the massive falls and again at the tiny trickle and the thought came to me that the falls were just a collection of hundreds and hundreds of tiny trickles all joined together.

There was not one part of the falls more important, more vital to the falls than the tiny trickle I was watching.

How much this reminded me of the body of Christ. . .many members and yet one body.

"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many."    (I Corinthians 12: 12-14.)

When seen collectively, the body of Christ would be even more massive and impressive than the waterfalls at Amicalola.  Seen independently, we may seem quite unimpressive and small.  Yet, all have a place, a calling, and a purpose.

Where ever the Lord has placed us in His waterfall, let us fall to His glory.  Let us seek His will and His pleasure.  It may only be a smile, a friendly word, an simple encouragement we give to others, but if done to glorify Him, He can make it a vital part of a great tumbling of waters.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do
do all to the glory of God.  
1 Corinthians 10:31

Monday, June 8, 2015

Motorized Buoys

My husband and I went kayaking this afternoon and had one of the most difficult kayaking experiences in the ten years we have enjoyed the sport.

We usually put in on the eastern shore of the bay in our town, but today we decided to put in on the western side.  Our city is home to the USS Alabama, and we have enjoyed in the past paddling past this huge warship.

From our put in we had to paddle through a smaller bay and cross under a bridge to enter Mobile Bay proper.  Several rivers empty into this bay which eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. We made quick progress into the bay and alongside the battleship.  Along the way we passed many crab trap buoys (these mark the spots where the traps are underneath the water,)  and Glen commented on how still the water was, which is unusual as in the late afternoon this water is often whipped into a frenzy by the wind and very difficult to paddle against.

At one point we stopped to share some water and take in our surroundings.  Glen pointed out a fin flashing in the distance then something closer caught our eye.  At first I thought it was a snake making it's way across the water (although we have only seen one snake in our years of kayaking.)  Then we saw another.  I suggested it was just a ripple in the water until I noticed, not far from our boats, one of the orange buoys traveling at pretty rapid speed past us.

"How are they doing that?" was the question we both asked.

"Maybe someone is pulling them in," suggested Glen, as another passed us by quite quickly. I began to wonder if these buoys were high-tech (although they certainly didn't look like it) had motors and were propelling themselves through the water.

"Let's follow them and see!" was my suggestion, followed by the realization that I might not be able to paddle that fast.  But paddle we did and soon I was neck to neck with this buoy.  Then I even passed it.

Still the truth of the matter had not dawned on us.

I looked to the eastern shore and then the western shore and realized the landmarks I had eyed earlier had not moved.

"I don't think we are moving much," I said to Glen, which disheartened us both since we had paddled hard to "catch up" with the speeding buoy.

It was about this time the truth of the matter began to dawn on us.  Of course the buoys weren't moving, we were.  The current, strong from being drawn out to sea, had been pulling us along at a rapid pace.  That combined with the fact we had paddled hard and not moved a bit, prompted us to kick it into even higher gear and paddle with all our might.

It seemed to take forever to gain any ground, or I guess water, and eventually we had to point our bows more to the shore to be out of the direct pull of the current.  Still, the battleship seemed a long way away.

I stopped once to take a picture of the sun peaking from behind some clouds and when I turned my
kayak around I was astounded at how far I had been carried away in such a short amount of time.  As I paddled furiously back toward Glen I wondered if the picture had been worth the effort I was now having to pay for it.

We both used the same technique to paddle back.  We set our eyes on one buoy and paddled to it.  Then we set our eyes on another, and another.

Once we paddled alongside the battleship the current was a little weaker, but not much.  We wanted to stop and take a break underneath a pier, but the current was so strong we couldn't even hold onto the pilings for a break.  Surely, I thought, when we got under the bridge and back to the smaller bay, it will be better.

All the way to the bridge we paddled hard.  We paddled hard under the bridge and made the turn into the smaller bay.  My heart dropped at the sight of the choppy waves.  I knew from experience this part of the trip would be no easier.

As I pulled my paddle hard through the water,  I was thankful for each trip to the gym I had made lately. Those muscles were being testing this afternoon.  Finally, our put in was in sight and never before has one looked quite so beautiful to me.  Normally I would want to float and drift in the water for awhile, dreading coming out of the water, but not this time.  We were both spent from our outing.  I cannot remember another kayaking trip out of our fifty-six trips that I have liked less.

Talking about our experience on the way home, we both laughed at how stupid we were, thinking the buoys were moving through the water at such rapid speed.  But it never dawned on either of us that it was us doing the moving.  Our eyes told us one thing, but our heads should have told us it couldn't be true.

Much of the same happens when a Christian becomes deceived by a wrong doctrine or belief.

By definition, a person deceived does not realize they are deceived.  In their mind everything else is moving away from the truth and they themselves do not see how far and how quickly they have departed from the truth of the Word of God.  Just as we had to make some far-fetched explanations as to why those buoys were moving so fast, those mired in deception must also find ways to contort or misinterpret the Scriptures to explain how they can believe what they believe.  Some leave the Scriptures entirely and rely on the writings of humans to explain their beliefs.

"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."  (2 Timothy 3:1-7.)

Let us be vigilant to know the Scriptures well enough that we can easily tell the deception from the truth.  Let us be wary of those who present something to us which cannot be easily supported by the Scriptures.  Let us find our primary teaching in the Word of God and not lean more heavily on the words of men.  Let us take heed to listen to the warnings of our Savior:

"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold."  Matthew 24:11,12

Friday, June 5, 2015

Security in Nylon

It has been about fifty-one years, but I still think of it from time to time.

It was a lemon yellow color, soft and silky.  It was warm when the air was chilly and cool when the air was hot.  I can remember holding it against my face and feeling a sense of comfort from the slippery, silky fabric.  

It was my security blanket and I remember vividly the day I said good-bye to it.

As a six-year-old I went to the edge of the yard where the garbage was waiting to be picked up by the garbage collectors.  I set my beloved security blanket on the top of the can and walked back to the house.  From our storage room window I had a perfect view of the collectors putting our trash, and my blanket, into the garbage truck.

There was nothing wrong with my blanket, but there was something wrong with me. 

While holding my blanket I would suck my thumb. My mother was concerned it would cause my teeth to come in crooked, and she tried every thing she could to get me to stop, to no avail.

I don't remember if I cried or not as my blanket was carried away, but one thing I knew,  my source of security and comfort was gone.

Sometimes in our Christian lives we may find our security wrapped up in something, someplace or someone other than the Lord Jesus.  The truth is, He is and will always be the only thing we need to have true Peace and joy in our lives.  Trusting in anything else will only result in heartbreak and disappointment. 

So let us put aside anything we are trusting in other than Him and look to the Author and Finisher of our faith, the only One who truly is a save tower to which we can run.

 "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."
Proverbs  18:10

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Looking Up Rosie

I have a friend I have not seen in twenty-two years.  We worked together in the same hospital and worked every weekend together.  We had become so close our youngest daughter's middle name is "Rose" after Rosie.

Every time I would encounter someone who had worked in the same Labor & Delivery unit with us, I would question if they knew anything about Rosie.  Each time the answer was "No, I haven't heard from her in years."  I had almost given up the search for Rosie until someone suggested I look on Facebook.

Years ago when I was a Facebook person, I had looked for her and not found her.  In the years since, I have deleted my Facebook account, and it took quite a while for me to be convinced to restart it again. But I did, and there she was, absolutely the same Rosie I had known and loved.

Even if I had never found Rosie on Facebook though, I knew we would be in communication again sometime.  You see, Rosie is a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ as I am, so I knew, if not in this world, we would see each other again in Heaven.

"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, 
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: 
and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain 
shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, 
to meet the Lord in the air: 
and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 4:16,17

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Saban's Pink Jacket

At the gym we attend there is a small room with massage chairs. You know the kind, you put in a token and the machine gives you a five minute "massage."  While I enjoy the massage, the television in that small room is always on and always on ESPN-U.  I have watched more college sports in the last couple months than perhaps in all my life.  I have watched women's softball, men's lacrosse and more recently part of the Alabama A-Day game.

While watching the scrimmage between Alabama players, I was intrigued at the pink jacket worn by Nick Saban.  At first I couldn't sort it out.  I thought perhaps it was for breast cancer awareness, but that is usually in October.  I thought perhaps the color on the television was off, but the crimson shirts were clearly crimson and the white ones clearly white.

Then I thought perhaps that Saban had struck the perfect sign of impartiality with his pink jacket.  For what do you get when you mix white and crimson?  Pink.  He could not favor the crimson players more than the white, or vice-versa.  

The Lord does not show partiality either.  The indwelling Holy Spirit in men meant that where there was once an enmity, there was now a family.  Barriers of race, culture, gender and age have been removed by the One who is our peace:

"For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;" (Ephesians 2:14.)

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28.)

Strife and division are the products of our enemy, peace and unity the products of our Savior.  May we walk in such a way that all who encounter us recognize our "jacket" is one of impartiality.

*(Stopping in Huntsville for the Crimson Caravan tour, Saban met with reporters. When asked the origin of the jacket he replied, "Hey, Miss Terry does that," referencing his wife. "I just do what she tells me.")

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Love You Forever

(Dedicated to Pat Davis and her faithful son, Jamey.)

"Love You Forever" is a Canadian picture book written by Robert Munsch and published in 1986.  It tells the story of the evolving relationship between a boy and his mother.  This is how it begins:

"A young mother holds her newborn son and looks lovingly at him.  
Softly she sings to him:
'l'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living,
my baby you'll be.' "

The story goes on to tell of the mother going in the night to her son's room, holding him in her arms and rocking him as she sings this song to him.  As a toddler, a child, a teenager and a young man, she holds and sings this song to her son.

The story ends with the son entering his elderly mother's room, holding her in his arms and singing the song to her:

"l'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living,
my mommy you'll be."

The love the son shows the mother is just an echo of the love she showered on him all his life. No matter what our age, we are always a parent's child and no matter how grown we become we are never too old to be loved by our parents.  

For those who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior, there is a parent-child relationship that can not be marred by time, condition or death.  The Lord will forever be our Father and we will forever be His children. Nothing can change that. And the love we show back to our Lord is just a faint echo of the love He has showered on us from "the foundation of the world." 

"The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee." (Jeremiah 31:3.)

"We love himbecause He first loved us." 
(1 John 4:19.)

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Insurmountable Obstacle

Glen and I recently completed our second section hike of the Appalachian Trail.  We started at a point on the trail in northern Georgia and hiked our way southbound to the summit of Springer Mountain (the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.) Then we completed the Approach Trail which ends (or begins, for those going northbound) in the Amicalola Falls State Park.

There were times along the path that I would take my eyes off the trail for a moment to look ahead.  Sometimes I was relieved to see the path turn downward, sometimes I saw an incline ahead.  Both prepared me for the particular stresses that direction brought. Sometimes, though, I would see what appeared to be an insurmountable obstacle in the path.  The operative word here, of course, is "appeared."

"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24.)

Upon reaching the before-mentioned "insurmountable obstacle" I would find that indeed, the obstacle was on the path.  But there was also an area large enough for my foot to be safely planted.  I walked right by the "obstacle" with ease.

Sometimes we may take our eyes off the path the Lord has placed before us and gaze wonderingly into the future.  Perhaps we envision a life of ease and plenty.  Perhaps we forsee a life of difficulty and need.  Or perhaps we see an insurmountable obstacle.  Our looking ahead surely gives our enemy the fodder needed to present a temptation to us.  While a few may be tempted to feel their road will be so easy, they feel they can trust in their own ability as they walk step-by-step.  Others may feel the real temptation to fear.  "What will I do if that happens?"  What will happen to me if this person is no longer in my life?"

These thoughts and these fears can be very real.  To some they may present insurmountable obstacles to peace and joy.  The truth is, as we trust the Lord and depend upon Him to reveal the path to us, He will  strengthen and enable our walking upon the path.  Indeed, He will even walk each step of the path with us and we will find places just big enough for us to safely plant our feet.  In doing so, we find the "peace of God, which passeth all understanding" and "joy unspeakable and full of glory."  

Let us not fear the path, nor look ahead with dread.  Our Lord is with us, He is within us, and there can be no obstacle insurmountable to the One who flung the worlds into being with His word and sustains all creation by the power of His might.

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."  
(Philippians 2:13) 

"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:  Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord,the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing."
(2 Timothy 4:7,8.)

La confiance dans le Seigneur pour avoir lui nous avons tous.
Trust in the Lord always for having Him we have all.