Tuesday, April 18, 2017

His Kaleidoscope

 I have a camera application on my phone which has a kaleidoscope filter.  I have recently enjoyed playing with this a great deal mainly because it doesn't take spectacular content to make an incredible picture.  You simply choose the filter, point the camera at anything and an impressive design results.

For example, this is a kaleidoscope picture of a solid colored, lace dress I wore the other day:

 This one is of the monkey grass growing near our front porch:

And this one is simply the contents of my purse:

 Regardless of how plain the content, this filter creates an orderly, and very pretty, design of the objects.

Isn't that reminiscent of the Lord's working in our lives?  He can take tiniest details of our lives --the good, the bad, the pretty and the ugly-- and weave them into a beautiful image with everything lined up as it should and in it's proper place.

It isn't only that He can, He is!

He is currently taking every aspect of our lives and weaving them into a beautiful tapestry.  He includes our joys and fulfillment, the times we were treated unfairly or unjustly, the pains, the sorrows and the things we just don't understand.  When we look back over at our life, we will see that He has used each and every second to make our lives a glorious expression of His grace and mercy, His love and caring.  He is actively working in the lives of each of His trusting children to accomplish this.

So when the pains come, or the troubling moments occur, let us trust Him by faith that every second of our lives is in His hand as He works  in our lives to glorify His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

"My times are in Thy hand. . .Be of good courage, 
and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord."
Psalm 31:15, 24

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nothing Everyday is Still Nothing

As I type this, my guitar is sitting in its stand close by.  Do not misinterpret the words "my guitar" to mean I am a guitarist.  Having listened to my husband, daughter and son play the guitar beautifully, I am reminded what a novice I am.  

I bought my guitar on November 15th last year.  It was a purchase made after long thought.  The year before I had begun to play the ukulele, which I now describe as a "gateway instrument," since it planted the seed of playing the guitar.  

Gradually I begin to realize I could probably learn to play the guitar -- at least enough for me to have fun -- and possibly begin to understand the fret board.  Having been a piano player since I was thirteen,  I found the concepts of the guitar infinitely more complicated than the "laid out sequentially" piano.

As soon as I purchased the guitar, I began taking lessons online.  My progress was slowed by the fact I simply don't have a great deal of extra time to devote to practicing guitar.  I try to grab what minutes I have and I try to make sure I play at least a little every day.

When making chords on the guitar, one uses the soft tips of the fingers to press down the steel strings, (usually while contorting the fingers into impossible positions).  There has to be enough pressure on the string to change the tone of the string appropriately.  This pressure of soft tissue against hard steel results in callouses being formed on the ends of the fingers.  One thing I have realized is that if I don't play some every day, my fingertips soften up.  Then I must go through the painful process of reforming callouses.

I find that even though my time is limited, I have made progress.   I can now play a few songs and have begun learning to fingerpick, which I enjoy so much more than strumming. I like seeing my accomplishments, even if it takes me longer than most.  A little practice everyday adds up to a lot over time.  Nothing everyday is still nothing.

This is true with our approach to reading the Bible.  We may not think we have time to read the Scriptures every day, but I would say we don't have time NOT to.  Just a small amount of time spent in the Bible every day will add up to so much over days, months and years.  The Lord will hide those words in our hearts and quicken them by the power of His Holy Spirit.  In moments of difficulty, pain or temptation, they will come back to us as inspiration, encouragement and guidance.

In our chapel services at a local nursing facility, we read the Scriptures for five minutes each Sunday as part of the service.  We are now in our third reading of the New Testament and I am the one who primarily does the readings. One of the residents mentioned to me a few weeks ago that there must be very few people who have read the New Testament aloud three times.  She commented that it was a great blessing for them and it must be for me as well.  She is right, I feel quite blessed and honored to read the Bible in our service each week.

If we commit to reading even a little of the Bible every day then, after a chapter here and a chapter there, as time goes by, we will find we have read the Bible through.  Then we can simply begin again.

"Whom shall He teach knowledge? and whom shall He make to understand doctrine? Them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little: For with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people."  
Isaiah 28: 9-11

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

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Consuming Disease

Just as there are deadly physical diseases, there are spiritual diseases as well.  Two of the most insidious, and most dangerous, are bitterness and its close cousin, resentment.

We all know bitterness when we encounter it in a culinary sense, it is something that has a harsh, disagreeable taste. We naturally dislike it.  Bitterness of the soul is no different.  It is that characteristic of being cynical, disagreeable and distressed.  Bitterness nurtured leads to resentment and anger.  

There can be few things less glorifying to the Lord in a Christian's life than bitterness and resentment.  In fact, the Apostle Paul spoke directly to this in the book of Ephesians:

 "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:" (Ephesians 4:31).

Here the Apostle Paul gives Christians the admonition to actively put away from us bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking and malice.  Then he tells us what should take the place of those characteristics:

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:32.)

Bitterness is like cancer.  It is from the single, tiny cell that huge tumors grow.  Resentment and bitterness eats away at us from the inside, robbing us of our joy and contentment, until finally it consumes us.

The beginning of this disease is so subtle, so easy to miss. . .at first.  Perhaps it begins with the thought that we have been overlooked, taken advantage of or forgotten.  In some way someone or something has not been to us what we think they should be.  

Once the spark of bitterness has begun, the tiny cell, like cancer, does not stay tiny for long.  Soon anger and clamour, evil speaking and malice join it and the bitterness grows.  As it becomes bigger in us we begin to share our mistreatment, and how we feel about it, to everyone who will listen.  Rarely does a bitter person keep silent.  Soon the whole body is consumed, the mind constantly fomenting against the person who has so ill-used us.

I remember when our mother was first diagnosed with cancer.  My brother sought out the advice of a friend of his who was an oncologist.  He explained our mother had lung cancer with a metastasis to the brain.  His friend told him, forthrightly, that our mother had cancer everywhere.  "She has cancer in her whole body, it just hasn't formed tumors everywhere yet."  While the words were difficult to hear, the truth of them was something we needed to know.

The same can be said for bitterness.  Once allowed to flourish, it is everywhere in us.

I know a person who is totally consumed with bitterness.  It rules this person's life and has become their focus.  I was myself headed down that road at one point in  my life.  Nothing could satisfy me, I was displeased and disagreeable.  Somehow, at some point, the Holy Spirit enlivened the words of Ephesians 4:31 and 32 and showed me what I was becoming.  I resolved to allow the Lord to eradicate the bitterness in me as I made the choice to consciously reject it and put it away, as the Apostle Paul admonished.

There are times still, the temptation to harbor bitterness comes my way.  We have enemies who will whisper the deadly thoughts in our minds hoping the seed will take root.  It is then we must, by faith in the power of Christ who lives in us, turn from those thoughts and choose the thoughts of forgiveness, mercy and tenderness.  

Indeed, how can we who have been forgiven so much refuse to grant forgiveness to others?  We must make the choice to guard our hearts from the bitterness which can so easily take root, and also to be "determined to be pleased," as was said of one of my favorite literary characters.  We must choose to pour out tenderness and forgiveness to all those around us just as our Lord so willingly poured out forgiveness and tenderness to us.


"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."

Hebrews 12:14,15

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Summer's Comin'

Today, as usual, we walked along the streets of our city in preparation for an upcoming hike.  The weather was not unpleasant, but the longer we walked, the higher the sun was in the sky and the warmer it got.  It reminded us both that summer's coming.  It won't be long until I will add ice to my water reservoir in an attempt to stay cool.  A cold towel will help with that as well.

Often in the summer when we walk we will discuss the heat and we mention the fact that if it were 30° outside during the summer we would really be concerned.  For it to be 80°, 90° or even 100° at our latitude and longitude is completely normal during the summer.

By the same token, as Christians, we should not be surprised when the world does not accept the message we have to share, or when it hurls insults and threats against us.  We should not be surprised when evil flourishes, but the world attempts to extinguish good.  Our Lord told us it would be so:

"He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that Light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the Light, neither cometh to the Light, lest his deeds should be reproved."  John 3:18-20

As those who have the living Light of the World residing in us, that Light will always expose the evil of the darkness. Evil always tries to present itself as a false light, a false truth.  Let us not be afraid of letting the True Light within us shine for all to see.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
 Matthew 5:16

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pain in a Syringe

It was such a small needle, yet I knew it would bring big pain.

Yesterday I went to the orthopedic surgeon concerning pain I have been having in the base of my left thumb.  I think it started last fall and I had hoped it would get better but it has only gotten worse, to the point it has begun to affect my ability to do my job.  My own research led me to believe I have basal thumb arthritis.  My doctor confirmed my suspicions and we discussed the various treatment modalities from simple medications to surgery.

We decided upon a course in the middle, a corticosteroid injection into the affected joint.  Now my doctor has injected my joints before.  Once a shoulder and twice when I had tennis elbow. (No, I don't play tennis.)  I recall all the injections being relatively painful and I tried to steel myself for the pain.

Only the injection didn't hurt.

In fact, the shot itself was fairly painless, as shots go.  His nurse sprayed a cold, "numbing" spray on my skin as he injected me and the lidocaine he included with the steroid kept me comfortable for a couple of hours.  Then it wore off.

The rest of the night by arm hurt all the way from my fingertips to my elbow.  Even today as I type this, my thumb is painful and sore.  But I know that soon the pain should go away and I will feel as if I have had a miracle cure.

It is ironic to me that such a small needle and a small amount of medication could produce so much pain (I am not in the "miracle cure" stage yet, so I'll save that for another post.)  I was willing to go through this painful procedure because I knew from experience it would eventually bring relief.  When my doctor injected my elbow, once the pain of the shot itself was gone, it was blessed relief.  He told me it would be that way and now, from experience, I know it to be true.

There are so many times we go through painful situations in our lives, some we can foresee ahead of time and others that catch us by surprise.  Sometimes, like this injection, the painful thing is actually intended to make us better.  Indeed, God uses all things in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son.

 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.  For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren." Romans 8:28,29.

All things. . .the good and the bad,  the pleasures and the pains.  All things God uses according to His purpose.  And that purpose is one thing, to make us more like His Son. 

 Now, I don't know about you, but I am a far way away from being like Christ.  It will take a lot of "all things" to get me there -- including this steroid shot, and the arthritis that led me to get the shot.  All of these, everything, becomes a tool in the hands of the Lord.  Is there a difficulty in our lives right now?  It is one of those "all things."  Is there a pain we are called to bear?  It is one of those "all things."  Is there a disappointment weighing down our hearts?  It is one of those "all things."

  When we begin to see our lives in this light, then we can begin to approach both the good and the bad as the Apostle Paul did:

"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
2 Corinthians 12: 9, 10

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Littlest Davis

It just dawned on me that I have never written about our grandson, Ewan.

No one could have ever asked for a better representation of the father than can be found in Ewan Davis.  Granted, as a baby his father did have blonde hair and Ewan's is dark brown. I will admit his father eyes are green whereas Ewan has the chocolate brown eyes of his mother, his brother and his grandmother.  And his eyes bear the almond shape of his mother's, which makes him one of the most beautiful humans I have even seen.

But in personality, Ewan is his father remade.

He is perhaps the most pleasant baby I have ever seen, and in my business I've seen a lot of babies.   He smiles and laughs as easily as other babies cry.  His father was the same way.  Our son's middle name is Isaac, which means "laughter" and I remember once when he was small telling his father how well we had chosen his name, it fit him perfectly.

Recently our daughter-in-law sent us a video of Ewan and their dog, Bates, playing.  Ewan would crawl toward Bates and try to take his dog toy from him.  Being a tiny and spry Yorkie, Bates quickly skirted to the other side of the room.  Ewan changed directions and again tried to steal the toy.  Bates, waiting until the last second, again evaded Ewan.  Once again, Ewan redirected himself and tried again.  Once again foiled.  At this point, Ewan threw himself onto the floor, not in despair and tears, but in laughter.  He was thoroughly enjoying the game.  Next, as he approached the toy, Bates didn't retreat, but leaned in for the offensive, and began vigorously licking Ewan's face.  The happy boy responded as he always does, with smiles and giggles.  Finally, Bates let Ewan grasp the toy and a friendly game of tug of war ensued.

This video reminded me of another way Ewan is like his father, he is determined.  He was not going to give up with Bates, he was going to keep coming after this toy.  When thwarted, he simply redirected and tried again.  This is my son in his son. (If you want to know what Ewan's mother is like, read this post about her, She Can Do Anything.)

The Bible tells us that we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we become the children of God.  His Spirit comes to dwell in us and our lives manifest His fruits.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."  (Galatians 5:22,23.)

As His children, those around us should be able to see His characteristics in and through us, just as I can see characteristics of our son in Ewan.  As we trust the Lord by faith to work those characteristics in and through us,  let us remember that we are called to "walk in the Spirit," and to glorify our Father in all we do.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Katie Sparrow Jean Louise Davis

She was a birthday present to me ten years ago and has been a faithful and loving companion.  As I type this, Sparrow is nestled close beside me.  She is usually next to me, or at my feet as I write.  

Photo by Emmie Davis

Over time her muzzle has turned white and she doesn't move as quickly as she used to.  Still, she greets us when we come home and wants to cuddle in beside us when we sit down.  She has born the abuse of being dressed as the Red Baron, in Christmas sweaters and even a Mexican sombrero.  She has tolerated other dogs visiting, babies growing up around her and our absences as we leave town to hike.
 She is now being loved by her third generation of Davis's, although she steers pretty clear of the youngest Davis who has just learned to crawl and seek her out.

To be honest, Sparrow is not remarkable as a dog.  She can "speak," even "whisper," she can wait on cue and she is totally and completely housebroken, but beyond that her tricks are few. But the joy she gives us is immeasurable.

She doesn't have to do much to cause that joy.  She wags her tail so forcefully when greeting us that her whole rear end wags.  If you scratch her ear, she will turn her head into your hand so you scratch just the right place.  When she sits beside you she nuzzles up absolutely as closely as possible.  And if you are eating, she will watch every morsel of food just in case you drop a piece.

Sparrow's great pleasure to us is her response to our love, her devotion to us and the thrill she shows when we return after being gone.  She loves us because first we loved her.

The pleasure I find in Sparrow reminds me of how the Lord must feel when we turn our thoughts and our attention toward Him.  He doesn't need us in any way, but He delights in our prayers.  He waits for us to commune with Him.  He finds joy in our presence.

I think what I am trying to say was best penned by Wendy Francisco in her poem, "God and Dog."

"God and Dog"
by Wendy Francisco

I look up and I see God.
I look down and see my dog.
Simple spelling G-O-D,
Same words backwards D-O-G.

They would stay with me all day
I’m the one who walks away.
But both of them just wait for me
and dance at my return at glee.

Both love me no matter what,
Divine God and and canine mutt.
I take it hard each time I fail
Bud God forgives, Dog wags his tail.

God thought up and made the dog.
Dog reflects a part of God.
I’ve seen love from both sides now
It’s everywhere, Amen. Bow-wow.

I look up and I see God.
I look down and see my dog.
And in my human frailty
I can’t match their love for me.

Please take the time to watch the video of this song below.  I promise you will be blessed.

Katie Sparrow Jean Louise Davis

Wednesday, March 29, 2017


The summer of 2013 we discovered a leaking pipe under the slab of our foundation.  After consulting with a few plumbers we found that the best alternative was not to break up the slab and make a repair, but rather to totally refit our plumbing by running new pipes through our attic.

It was a big job which took several weeks, a lot of money, and one excellent plumber.  We got to know "Mr. Tony," as we call him, very well.  The one thing I dreaded hearing Mr. Tony say to my husband was, "Mr. Davis, can I show you something?"  I knew it meant he had found trouble.

In the process of refitting the new pipes, Mr. Tony disconnected all the old pipes which ran under the slab.  They are still there, but they are useless, they are dead to transporting water.  No water will ever flow through them again and they can never fulfill the purpose for which they were created.  The new blue and red pipes can be seen in the attic and in the walls -as we were able to see before the walls were once again dry-walled.  

As Christians, we have been refitted as well.  

When we accepted the Lord Jesus as our Savior, His Spirit came to reside in our spirits.  The Lord didn't just put a patch on our old, sinful hearts ... He eradicated them.  He crucified them:

"Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death:  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.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection:  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: 4-6.)

We were crucified  and risen with Him to live in newness of life.  We are not the same as before we accepted the Lord.  Like those blue and red pipes in our walls, we are brand new.

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 life which we now live we live by faith in Him.  We are united to Him in a way that the Apostle Paul called it "one spirit."  We should no more believe that our old sinful heart controls us than I should think my water flows through those old underground pipes. 

 Hallelujah!  All is new!  The old is dead and the new "hid with Christ in God."  What a glorious life, what a glorious Savior!

I am crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live; yet not I, 
but Christ liveth in me:  and the life which I now live in the flesh 
I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."  
Galatians 2:20

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Reasonable Service

When a business is a family business, the employees who are part of the family have a vested interest to work harder, longer and better than those employees who are not family.

I work for a "family" business.  Our hospital was started by a husband and wife over forty years ago.  What began as a small medical venture is now one of the largest and most successful hospitals in our town.  The husband has long since passed away and after his death his wife ran the business.  Now their children play an active roll in the leadership as well.

As Christians, we are part of a "family business." Remember when the Lord Jesus was left at Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph?  His answer to their inquiries was, "How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?" (Luke 2:49.)  

When we trust in the Lord Jesus, we become part of the family.  We are adopted into the family of God.

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:15-18.)

We are family, and as such we are called to a higher degree of performance.  The Apostle Paul called it our "reasonable service."

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." (Romans 12:1.)

Our calling is to be about our Father's business, to do what it is He calls us to do, with holiness, in a manner that is acceptable to Him.  Because we are family, our motive for service is not just that of an employee.  We have a heart desire to see our "family business" prosper and grow, out of love and dedication to our family.  We want to do those things which please our Father.  

Let us always keep this motive foremost in our hearts and minds.  The truest desire of our heart is to follow His will, glorify His Son and always do those things which please Him.

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

The Shaft

I don't particularly like elevators, although I choose to use them often at work.

I used to joke to my co-workers that if the elevator ever stalled, they would need to punch me hard enough to knock me out.  Now I have decided that I would just sit down and take a nap.

The other day  I got onto the elevator and as I waited for the doors to close, I glanced down at the space between the elevator and the elevator shaft.  On the shaft was written the number of the floor I was currently on.

Seeing the writing on the wall of the elevator shaft focused my attention on the shaft itself, something I have rarely thought of.   I then began to think of what it would look like to see me, in the elevator, in the shaft, moving up and down the building.

That concept of me in the elevator and the elevator in the shaft and the shaft in the building reminded me of this verse. . .

 "I in them. and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me."  (John 17:23.)

And this verse. . .

"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." (Colossians 3:3.)

If Christ is in me, and I am hid with Him in God, then I am about as safe as I can ever possibly be.  There is nothing that can touch the me that is hid "with Christ in God."  We are with Christ, He is within us, and we are in God.   The Apostle Paul said that  "...in Him we live, and move, and have our being;" (Acts 17:28.)  Everything we do is "in Him."  He encompasses us, and by our faith in the Lord Jesus He also indwells us.

There is no storm that can rail against my life that can touch that.  Just as I was in the elevator, in the shaft, in the building,  we are settled deep within God, with Christ, in a bedrock of safety and security.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Unexpected Welcome

Glen and I enjoy walking and we walk a lot.  It is primarily to keep us in shape for hiking, but it is something we have enjoyed doing together for the last three years.  Gradually, over time, we have increased our distance, again to aid us in the hiking we do on the Appalachian Trail.

Last year, as we were hiking in Virginia, we hiked -- not by plan but out of necessity -- 23 miles in one day.  That began a joke between us about walking the distance of a marathon, or 26.2 miles.  We would mention it as we walked and even talked about the places in town we would walk.  We devised a route that would take us by all our favorite coffee shops, because we knew a walk of that distance would take many hours and we would need some coffee along the way!
After about 11 miles

Joking led to planning and planning led to doing.  On February 4th this year, the weather was absolutely perfect and we set out to walk our "Orange Moon Marathon," with only the two of us being participants.  There was no police escort or fans along the way to cheer us on.  Only our family and a few friends knew what we were doing, and we kept them posted on our progress by texts as we passed each milestone.  In fact, one of the highlights of the walk for Glen was the texting he and our  ten-year-old grandson Jackson were sharing during that time.

It was a long day, seven hours of walking, and the moment we set foot again on our own property we hit 26.2 miles.  We looked at our door and a "Finish" sign had been placed above it.  As we walked up our driveway we could hear the song, "Chariots of Fire" (the theme from a movie about a Scottish Olympic runner and missionary) blaring from the kitchen window.

What an unexpected welcome!  To top it off, as we walked in the house, our youngest daughter had designed "Orange Moon Marathon" tee-shirts for us both.  None of this was expected, but it was greatly appreciated as was all the support and encouragement we received along the way.

It reminded me of a song I heard 40 years ago.  A young woman I went to college with stepped up to the microphone and belted out the moving song, "Welcome Home, Children."

A great day is coming
Heaven's gates will open wide,
And all who love the Lord will enter in;
To join with their loves ones
Who in Jesus Christ have died;
Our eternal life in Heaven to begin.
And the Lord Himself will greet us
On what joy will fill that day!
When with the smile of the proudest Father
He'll look at us and say,

Welcome home, children!
This is the place I've prepared for you.
Welcome home, children,
Now that your work on earth is through.
Welcome home, children
You who have followed so faithfully.

Welcome home, children!  Welcome home, children!
Here where I am you shall always be,
Forever rejoicing with me.

The Scriptures tell us "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." We cannot begin to imagine the joy, wonder and glory we will know in that first moment when we slip from this existence of mortality to that eternity of immortality and incorruption.

"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?"

No matter how wonderful our lives here may be, our best days -- our very best days -- are yet to be!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stand Still

"Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."  Exodus 13:14

On September 13, 1814, during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key was invited to dine aboard a British ship as a guest of the Vice and Rear Admirals,  as part of a group to negotiate the release of American prisoners.

The British ships were poised and intent to attack Baltimore. The three Americans, having witnessed the strength and position of the British ships were not allowed to return to their own ship.

Key was unable to do anything but watch the bombing of the American forces at Fort McHenry from the British deck.  At dawn, Key was able to see the American flag still waving and he wrote the poem which has become our national anthem.

Oh, say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed,
At the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched,
Were so gallantly streaming.
And the rocket's red glare,
The bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night,
That our flag was still there.
Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave,
For the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

The Lord would have us to be the same as Key during the assaults and attacks we face throughout our Christian life. We are as powerless to fight in our own defense as was Key on the deck of that British ship.  Our hearts, however, can be at peace and rest knowing that we don't fight our own battles. It is Christ in us who works in and through us to accomplish His will.  We must stand still and trust the Lord to be our strength, our strong tower, our deliverer.  

Let us rest in Him and ever "stand still and see the salvation of the Lord."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Counter-Balance

Yesterday I wrote about keeping our cadence as we walk or hike and more specifically as we walk with the Lord.  I mentioned how sometimes our feet can hit a rock or a root and send us struggling for balance.

Appalachian Trail North Carolina
I was thinking last night of the times this has happened on the trail as we hike.  There are an abundance of rocks and roots along the Appalachian Trail.  When you trip over one of these rocks or roots in the path, though, the twenty+ pound pack on our back acts as a counter-balance.  While we are indeed hurled down the path at a speed much faster than we intended, rarely does it result in us actually falling.  The weight seems to somehow keep us upright.  It is when we are walking on the the city sidewalks, without our packs, we are more likely to hit the ground. The burden of the packs tends to help keep us upright.  

Isn't this true in our spiritual lives as well?  When our hearts are burdened, when we have troubles or problems which are clearly beyond our ability to manage, we more easily turn to the One upon whom we should cast all our cares.  In those times the Lord seems not only present in our lives, but as David said, "a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1.)

When hiking in the woods for several days at a time we 
Appalachian Trail  Georgia
must carry everything we need on our backs.  We cannot escape the pack.  In this life too, burdens will come and we have found no way of yet to escape them.

"Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." 
Job 5:7 

What we have found is our troubles bring us even closer to the Lord as we depend upon Him.  Sometimes it is in His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus to remove the burden.  Sometimes He lightens the load.  Sometimes it is His purpose for us to walk the path with the load centered squarely on our backs and to depend upon His strengthening, His empowering, His guiding to see us safely along the way.

"And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: 
for My strength is made perfect in weakness. 
Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities,
 that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 
2 Corinthians 12:9

Appalachian Trail Tennessee

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Keep Your Cadence

When we were first new to hiking, I spent a lot of time reading the White Blaze forum.  This site is a place to find answers to all questions related not only to hiking, but to the Appalachian Trail specifically.

I remember reading a veteran hiker who stated the most important thing about maintaining a steady mileage was to "keep your cadence."  He went on to explain that whether the terrain was smooth or rocky, whether the path was ascending or descending, that one should keep a steady pace.  

There is a great deal of truth in his statement.  Muscles in motion tend to remain in motion. Muscles which have ceased motion (at least mine,) are slow to start up again.  A person keeping up a steady, although slow, pace may at the end of the day, have traversed more than someone going in fits and starts.

I have tried to implement this as we walk along the streets each day (although we find very few ascents and more roots than rocks.)  I try to keep a steady cadence running in my head.  As often as not, there is a hymn playing in my head, or (appropriately) one of my favorite pieces of music, Appalachian Spring by Aaron Copeland.  The rhythm of the music helps to keep my feet in rhythm whether stepping over a curb or navigating around a rock, or in Mobile, a disjointed piece of sidewalk.  The words resounding in my brain keep my mind occupied on something other than my feet and legs.

In our Christian lives a steady cadence helps to keep us upon the right path as well.  A steady walk with the Lord: by consistently reading the Bible, turning to the Lord in prayer and consistent fellowship with other believers, will find us with much growth in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.  Yes, sometimes there may be a root or a rock in the path that we don't see.  Our tired legs may stumble on the object and we might struggle to maintain balance.  But if we fall, if we come to a spot where we stand still, we should listen closely for the call of the Holy Spirit.  He will be gently urging us to "Get up!"  "Keep going!" will be His softly whispered cadence to us.

The race is not to be the first one to finish, it is simply to finish. . .  to continue on until we are done. . . to keep going.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, 
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,  
I press toward the mark for the prize 
of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.  
Philippians 3:13, 14.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mom's Holiday Baking

My mother was a great baker and she really excelled during the holidays.  I can remember helping her in the kitchen for two or three days preparing the cakes and pies and cookies she would make.

It was a simple plan.  She mixed, measured, baked and iced and I washed dishes.  Mom would move from one recipe to another without stopping, so my job was to have each utensil, each dish washed, dried and back in place before she needed it again.

She worked and I worked.

I was so busy doing my part that I didn't realize exactly how much she was working.  The results were wonderful pumpkin and pecan pies, chocolate pies, German Chocolate cakes, Banana pudding (if she knew "the boys" would be coming because, as she said, "That's their favorite.")  There would be other wonderful desserts that I am sure I have forgotten in the almost 40 years since I left home.

The holiday baking wasn't a "me" or a "she" but a "we."  Now, be certain of one thing, my mother did not need my help in the kitchen.  I was probably more of a hindrance to her in the beginning than a help.  But she let me participate in the process because it was good for me.

The same dynamic applies to our Christian lives.  The Lord Jesus set the pattern by how He lived His earthly life.  He lived every moment in obedience to His Father, confessing that nothing He did was by Himself, but of the Father  

"But Jesus answered them, 
'My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." 
 John 5:17.

By the same token, we do not live independently once we have accepted Christ as our Savior, we live by Him.  He works in and through us and we work by Him.  It is no longer a "me" but a "we."  He doesn't need us to help with the work, but He knows the work is good for us to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18.)

As we live our lives, let us remember that even when it seems it is just "me" working, that Christ is working in and through us to strengthen us, to empower us, to guide us each step of the way.  

"I am crucified with Christ:  nevertheless I live;
 yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:  
and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me." 
 Galatians 2:20.