Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Already Looking

As I sit here at my computer, our dog Sparrow came to my feet and stared up at me.  As there was no food in the near vicinity, I knew that what she wanted was to be put up in the chair with me.

While some may find a dog looking at you with exceptions filling her big brown eyes somewhat annoying, but I don't mind.  Sparrow is the sweetest dog we have ever had and knowing she just wanted to be next to me (at least until someone with food was in the vicinity) thrills me.

I especially love it at night when we settle into bed.  Sparrow always sleeps toward the end of the bed, but she will scoot over to me and get as close as to me as physically possible.  I don't think you could squeeze a molecule between us!  And while I must move her first before I move myself, I love that she wants to be next to me.

As much as I love my Sparrow, it is not even a drop in the bucket compared to the great love our Lord has for us.  Every time we turn our eyes toward Him, we will find His gaze already on us. As the prodigal's father saw his son returning home because, as the Scriptures say, "when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him," so our Father looks and waits for our attention to turn toward Him.  We will never come to Him and find Him not already turned to us.

Whenever our voices lift to Him, we will find He has already answered, He has responded before while our words are still on our lips.

"And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear."  (Isaiah 65:24.)

"The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD: but the prayer of the upright is His delight." (Proverbs 15:8.)

We will never know the depths of the love of our Lord for us, but what a joyous eternity we will have learning and exploring and sounding the depths of that love!

"For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, 
nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God, 
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  
Romans 8:38, 39

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

A Workman Not Ashamed

Labor & Delivery is a hard place to learn to work.  It involves many different sets of knowledge and differing skill sets.

For example, a nurse new to Labor & Delivery must learn the ebb and flow of normal labor.  But she must also learn how to manage pre-term labor.  She must be able to recognize dysfunctional and arrested labor.  

Then she must learn all the complications pregnancy.  She must know the difference between chronic hypertension in pregnancy, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, severe pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and HELLP.  She must also know how to care for the pregnant diabetic and the effects her diabetes will have on her newborn.

Beyond all the complications of labor, she must learn how to care for and to resuscitate a newborn if necessary.  She must be able to help the new mother with breastfeeding and effectively teach this to the mother and support persons.

She must know how to be the circulating nurse and scrub nurse in Cesarean Sections, circumcisions and various emergency surgeries the patient could need.  This means she must be a master of sterile technique.

She has to know how to recover the surgical patient, caring for her not only in an obstetric sense, but also in a post-anesthesia sense.

She must learn to perform multiple skill sets.  She must learn to start IVs with large-bore needles.  She must learn how to interpret the fetal monitor and how to transmit that information accurately. She must master the art of a cervical exam (which is like putting your finger in your mouth and telling how long your tongue is.)  She must learn the newborn examination, how to perform lab test on a moving baby, how to weigh babies, how to provide post-circumcision care. 

She must learn how to be calm and encouraging in an emergency when every thing inside of her is screaming.  She must learn how to transmit information about a patient succinctly and accurately to a sleepy physician in the middle of the night.

Very little of this is taught in a nursing program.  Obstetrics, surgery, newborn and post-anesthesia care are usually glanced over, not covered in depth.  Nurses must learn this during their orientation program from the unit where they are working.  They must read and study, study and read.

I had one young nurse tell me the other day, "I don't learn by reading, I have to do."  I promptly told her that she had to read and learn the stack of information I had just given her before she could do.  I also informed her that I would be asking her questions on the information and I expected her to know the answers.

It only takes one frustrated physician to scream at a young nurse to make her feel ashamed of her lack of preparedness. (And yes, that does happen.  Nothing can give you the impetus to learn more than the scathing words of a physician flung at you across a nursing unit.)

And although birth itself has not changed since Eve gave birth to Cain, everything else which surrounds birth changes often.  This means nurses must be ever-learning, ever-relearning.

As young Christians there is so much for us to read and study, study and read as well.  In fact, it is my belief that we will spend all eternity learning more about our glorious Savior but never coming near the end of what we could learn.

In this life, our primary form of learning will come from the Bible and those who teach it.  The Bible is the authority on our Christian lives, on what our Lord has done, is doing and will be doing for us.  It is our study guide, our authoritative text, our script, our trail guide, our map. 

The Bible not only is our authority, it is THE authoritative text.  It is the only book of which can be said that every word is undeniable true.  Whether we understand what we are reading or not does not change that fact.  This is our go-to place when we need answers, encouragement, correction, direction, guidance and information.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:" (2 Timothy 3:16.)

Some Christians love to read the paper Bible they have had for decades, some love to listen to a narration of the Scriptures, some like to read it on their phone, tablet or computer.  It matters not how we read the Word of God, but that we do.

The Bible will reveal things to us of our Lord, our world and ourselves.  Consistent exposure to the Scriptures can reveal things about ourselves that the Lord is in the process of changing.  By the sword of His Word He is ever transforming us to the image of His dear Son.

"For the Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

Let us study and read, read and study, so that we have no need to be ashamed.

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

Monday, January 29, 2018

Itching Ears

Our dog Sparrow loves to have her ears scratched.  Her long ears predispose her to itching ears.  If you put your hand right over the top of her ear and gently scratch, she will lean her head into your hand so that the scratch is in just the right spot.

I thought of her today when in Sunday School the question came up regarding why Christians listen to preachers and teachers who do not faithfully preach the Word of God.  The answer given was because these false teachers tell people what they want to hear, not what the Word of God actually says. 

Preachers and teachers who are truly called of God to do so must not only tell Christians the good things, the wonderful promises and truths about being a Christian, but must also admonish and exhort them regarding failures and shortcomings.  The Apostle Paul devoted almost a whole book to pointing out the carnality and faults of the Corinthians.

Some false teachers go as far to resort to fiction, supposition and imaginary tales to "teach" the Bible.  In our discussion of false teachers, these verses were quoted:

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."  (2Timothy 4:3,4.)

So what would itching ears have to do with it?  Well, I know with Sparrow she loves to have her ears scratched because it feels good. 

If a teacher or preacher is always telling us things that just make us feel good, perhaps we should question the genuineness of his preaching.  If Christ is not the central point of his sermons, I would be highly suspect.  If the Word of God is not liberally used in his message, I would again be highly suspect.  If the message of salvation, the cross of Christ and the shed blood of our Saviour is routinely omitted, I would be suspicious.

The Scriptures warn us about false teachers and preachers and we do well to be careful to whom we listen.  We live in a day and time when many seek to deceive many more.  Compare all to the Light from Scripture and that which is true will shine forth as daylight.

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; 
because many false prophets are gone out into the world."  
1 John 4:1

Friday, January 26, 2018

Dirty Towels

I am particular about my towels. Perhaps my family would even call me a bit compulsive about it.  Not only do they have to be washed, but they also have to look and smell clean.  My husband has come to realize I have a very keen sense of smell.  He probably doesn't know (until now) that I smell the towels to determine if they smell clean enough to be considered clean.

I like to fold my towels (a certain way of course) as soon as they are through drying.  Others in my family, who shall go nameless, prefer to put the newly dried towels on top of the dryer until all the laundry is finished and then fold them.  This increases the chances a freshly laundered towel will fall to the floor.

I know it may seem unreasonable, but to me, a towel -- no matter how clean it is at the time-- that has fallen to the floor is now considered dirty.

I thought of this the other day when I heard a preacher speak on our righteousness -- our own attempts to be "good enough" to please God -- are as filthy rags in His sight.

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."  (Isaiah 64:6.)

There is nothing we can do that is good enough to earn God's acceptance.  Not in our salvation, or in the walking of the Christian life.  We must depend entirely upon His righteousness, His strength, His power in and through us.  As the Lord Jesus said,

"When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as my Father hath taught Me, I speak these things." (John 8:28.)

If the perfect Lord Jesus depended totally upon His Father to walk His earthly life, how much more must we depend totally upon Him to walk ours.  We must never try to en robe ourselves with "filthy rags."

"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

Thursday, January 25, 2018

With Joy or With Misery

The other day on the anniversary of our "courting,"  Glen and I were discussing the paths the Lord led us through during that time.  We were friends and did things together as friends, neither of us realizing at the time that we were also falling in love.  We remarked how there were so many choices we could have made that would have kept this wonderful experience we have had together from ever happening.  There were also unexplained and unpredictable choices we did make that facilitated our meeting and courting.

Have you ever had an opportunity for something you knew was wonderful and just didn't make the choices for that to become a reality in your life?  What misery must accompany the knowledge that we missed out on something great by our own actions or lack thereof.

A great number of people will experience this misery in the greatest degree.  The Scriptures tell us,

"For it is written, 'As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.' " (Romans 14:11.)

"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, 
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 
And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, 
to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9-11.)

There is coming a day when, no matter what people proclaimed in this life -- whether they be Christians, atheist, agnostics, whatever -- every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Some, who accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and have come to know Him in spirit and truth, will do so with hearts full of "joy unspeakable and full of glory."  Those who have rejected Christ in this life will see Him as He truly is and will confess Him as Lord with hearts full of misery, also unspeakable.  They will spend eternity knowing what they could have had, having seen the glorified Lord Jesus Christ but forever being separate from Him.  It breaks my heart to think of it even as I write.  No wonder the Lord often said, "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

Let us pray for all that their eyes will  see the "goodness and forbearance and longsuffering" of God which leads to repentance.  May those who confess in misery be few and those who confess with joy be "exceeding abundant."

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, 
as some men count slackness; 
but is longsuffering to us-ward, 
not willing that any should perish, 
but that all should come to repentance."  
2 Peter 3:9

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Walking in the Light

Last Wednesday the temperature in our Deep South town dipped into the teens.  Frozen ice (which I always thought was called sleet, but now I know is different) fell for several hours and after that came the second snowfall we have had since December.  To tell you how unusual this is, there hasn't been a significant snowfall with accumulation in our town since 1997.  Our usual January high is in the mid 60's and our lows in the high 40's.  Ice and snow are definitely out of the norm for us.

For me and Glen, what is the norm for us is walking.  We weren't about to let a little snow, a lot of ice and temperatures in the low 20's deter us from our regular walk.  Decked out with four pairs of exercise pants, three shirts, a lightweight jacket, a down jacket rated to 0 degrees, a fleece hat, a neck gaiter and two pairs of gloves (plus hand warmers in each pocket,)  I was ready.

We were both fairly comfortable until our paths turned to the north and the blistering north wind seemed to bite right through our clothes.  So we devised the plan to "follow the sun."  We picked our path along the sunniest streets and tried our best to stay out of the shade.

Along the sunny paths, the sunshine had already begun to melt the ice and snow, making for easy walking.  Along the shady paths, though, the deep oak cover kept the ice protected.  We had to concentrate with each step to avoid slipping and falling.  Once or twice we both inadvertently stepped on some ice and found ourselves skidding across until we could change our footing.

As we continued walking in the sunlight I thought of this verse:

"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.  (I John 1:7.)

In fact, the Lord Jesus declared Himself to the be Light of the world in His earthly life:

"Jesus saith unto him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: 
 no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me." (John 14:6.)

For us, when we stayed in the light of the sun, we were safe from the slipping and sliding of the ice.  When we found ourselves walking in the darkness of the shade, things became much more precarious.  This is true of our spiritual walk as well.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life for us to follow as much in our Christian lives and in our salvation.  The more we trust Him by faith as we live our lives, the more we will see and know His light.  The more we will "grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 

"For with Thee is the fountain of life:  in Thy light shall we see light."  
Psalm 36:9

"I am come a Light into the world, 
that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide in darkness." 
John 12:46

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

41 years

It was forty-one years ago today that Glen and I began "courting." 

We had met at a restaurant after church to talk over our hot chocolate and Coke, as was our habit in those days.  Somewhere in the conversation his hand took mine and my heart fell into his.  It has been there ever since.  Had I known what a wonderful adventure our life together would be, how my husband would be such an incredible reflection of the love of Christ to me, I would have grabbed his hand first!

In forty years we buried three parents and birthed three babies together.  We have rejoiced at the arrival of three grandchildren (and are awaiting the arrival of a fourth.)  We have lived in one apartment and two houses, had eight dogs and driven eight cars (well, one was really a truck.)  We have traveled through twenty states; we have flown, driven and taken trains on our travels.  We have played cards, board games, racquetball, badminton, volleyball, chess, tennis, golf, and boccie together.  We have walked thousands of miles together, literally. We have hiked mountains, kayaked rivers and parasailed at the beach.  We have done six section hikes of the Appalachian Trail together.  We've experienced blistering heat, driving rain, hurricane force winds, a tornado, frozen rain, frozen fog and snow together.  Somehow along the way the learned to love coffee and have shared unknown number of cups together.  We have done countless number of services together, written and sang songs together.  We have laughed at each other's jokes, cried with each other's sorrows and celebrated each other's achievements together. 

It has been an incredible adventure and I am looking forward to what the next forty-one years will bring.

"Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,
 according to the power that worketh in us, 
Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, 
world without end.  
 Ephesians 3:20,21

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Old Book

I am sitting in our study reading a book that was published in 1853.  The book was given to us by our friend, Randy, but before I tell you about the book, let me tell you I love old books. 

I love knowing that hand after hand before me has held this book, read its pages, and considered the truths it contains.  I love the yellowed pages and the crispiness of the bindings.  I love the scroll design and the simplicity of information presented on the cover.

This book was written by John East and is entitled, "My Savior:  or Devotional Meditations in Prose and Verse on the Names and Titles of the Lord Jesus Christ."

I happened to notice this book between our chairs in our study, and being a lover of old books (I know there has to be a name for that) I had to explore this beautiful volume.  Upon reading the first few pages I found it has a beauty not just in its antiquity, in its manufacture, but also in its content.

Here is an example of what I have read:

"I shall not be filled with consternation when He cometh, whether it be 'at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning;' for I shall lift up my eyes, not upon an unknown judge, from whom I have every thing to dread, but upon a friend from whom I shall have every thing to hope, and whom I have been accustomed, with humility, yet with affectionate confidence, to call My Savior."

What an incredibly beautiful thought!  We should not feel dread as we look upon our Savior for the first time for He will not be approaching us a judge hoping to find something for which He can convict us.  No, He will be approaching us as our Advocate, our Friend and the One who gladly gave His own life as the payment for our sins.   Should any claim come against us in that day the Lord Jesus will show His nail-scarred hands and declare, "I have paid this debt for my dear friend."

"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:  
And He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, 
but also for the sins of the whole world."  
I John 2:1,2

"And one shall say unto Him, 'What are these wounds in Thine hands?' 
 Then He shall answer, 
'Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.' "  
Zechariah 13:6

Friday, January 19, 2018

Majestic Humility

There was only One person in the world who had something to be proud of and He wasn't.

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ's earthly life was so humble and unassuming many could not believe who He was.  In fact, the Scriptures tell us that even His own brothers didn't believe who He was.  "For neither did His brethren believe in Him." (John 7:5.)

Those who saw the glorified Lord Jesus had a totally different reaction.  Peter, James and John having seen the transfigured Lord Jesus, fell on their faces to the ground in fear.

"And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and His face did shine as the sun, and His raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with Him.  
Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.'  
While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.'  
And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, 'Arise, and be not afraid.' " (Matthew 17:1-7.)

The Apostle John, seeing the vision of the glorified Christ had a similar response:

"I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.  
I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, Saying, 'I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.' 
And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire; And His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters. And He had in his right hand seven stars: and out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and His countenance was as the sun shineth in His strength.  
And when I saw Him, I fell at his feet as dead. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying unto me, 'Fear not; I am the first and the last:  I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.' " (Revelation 1:9-18.)

The Apostle Paul, on his way to Damascus, still as Saul of Tarsus, saw and heard the risen Lord Jesus Christ:

"And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.   
And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, 'Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?' 
And he said, 'Who art thou, Lord?'
And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.'  
And he trembling and astonished said, 'Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?'
And the Lord said unto him, 'Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.'  
And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus.  
And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink." (Acts 9: 1-9.)

Peter, James and John lived with the Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry.  They knew well the Humble Lord Jesus, and yet, when faced with the transfigured and glorified Christ, they fell to their faces.  Saul of Tarsus, later to become the Apostle Paul, persecuted Christians with misplaced pride and zeal.  Until he met the risen Lord Jesus on the road to Damascus.  Then the man who hated Christ and Christians fell to his face, blinded by the Light of the world.

But the Lord Jesus never leaves His children on their faces.  The touch of the humble Christ encourages them to "fear not." 

One day those of us who have placed our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus will see Him as He is.  I have no doubt that we will have the same response as Peter, James, John and Paul.  We will fall to our faces in worship before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the One who created all we are and all we see.  Then, that Majestic Humility will reach down and whisper to us, "Fear not, it is I." 

What sweeter sound can we ever hear?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Looking for Opportunities

Today Glen and I were at a coffee shop for a break in the middle of our walk.  We were sitting at a table near the door when a young woman with her arms full and pushing a child in a stroller came to the door.  She was trying to maneuver the stroller so she could open the door.

Glen hopped up, opened the door for her and held it while she pushed the stroller through.  At the time there were six men and three women in the coffee shop. (Yes, I counted.) Yet only one saw the opportunity to help the young mother.  Knowing that one man as well as I do, I know he saw her because he was looking for opportunities to help someone.

Some people keep their eyes open for opportunities for new employment.  Some watch for opportunities to save money, others for opportunities to make money.  Some look for opportunities to promote their cause, their beliefs, even their very selves.

But to look for the opportunity to help is quite different.  While the woman with the stroller certainly thanked Glen for his help, she doesn't know anything about him other than the fact he helped her in a time of need.  He received no benefit from the action other than the satisfaction that he helped someone and honored the Lord by his obedience to Him.

But there was more to the simple action than obedience.  It spoke of a much greater motivation.

"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."  (John 13:34,35.)

He helped because he loves.  He loves people and mostly he loves his Lord Jesus Christ.  This I am quite sure was his motivation for getting up to help the young woman was because of his love for others.  There are many ways in which I would like to be like my husband when I grow up.  One way is his great friendliness and love for others.  It doesn't matter who it is, what their walk of life or situation, he is genuinely kind and friendly to everyone.  There is no one I know who more embodies this verse in Proverbs than my husband, although my dear friend Peggy comes mighty close:

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

Helping others may not entail big things, sometimes opening a door, giving a heart felt greeting, or even a genuine smile, can mean a great deal to someone who is hurting or lonely.  Let us look for those opportunities the Lord has placed in our way to help others, to be a source of comfort or encouragement to them along the way.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Favored Son

Our daughter Emmie often jokes that she knows she is our favorite child, although we have certainly never said that.  She also jokes that everything we own will be hers when we die and she will give whatever she doesn't want to her siblings.

I think every child secretly wants to be "favored."  But parents rarely have that type of feeling for one child over another.  I often wondered when my children were small how I would feel about them as adults.  Now I can answer that question.  My adult children impress me and grow in my favor everyday.  I wish I had been like them at their ages.

It reminds me of another parent/child relationship I pondered while reading this verse:

"And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, 
and in favour with God and man."
(Luke 2:52.)

The Lord Jesus Christ, God's only begotten Son, grew in favour with God and man.  Now, I can understand the Lord Jesus Christ growing in favour with man.  I would think that would be obvious.  The part of the verse that struck me was that the Lord Jesus Christ grew in favour with God.

Christ existed from eternity past in perfect unity with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.  A perfect God living in the form of humanity, how could He get any better than that?  My question is answered with one word:  obedience.

"Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience 
by the things which He suffered;" (Hebrews 5:8.)

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

The first man, Adam, was pronounced to be very good, but not perfect.  Then he succumbed to temptation to lead all men to sin.

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; 
and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12.)

All men except One.

"For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, 
so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."  (Romans 5:19.)

The Second Man, the Lord Christ Jesus, lived in perfection, that He might secure our salvation.  He did nothing of His own earthly power or strength, but walked every moment trusting in the strength and power of His Father.  Having done so, He set the example of how we are called to live.

"Then said Jesus unto them, 'When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of myself; 
but as My Father hath taught me, I speak these things." (John 8:28.)

The Lord Jesus Christ is favored by the Father, and by relation, all who believe in Him are favored as well.

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.  
To the praise of the glory of His grace, 
wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved." 
(Ephesians 1:5,6.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Growing Up

CJ and Ashlee, happy Mom, happy son
A dear friend of mine at work has a four year old boy.  She is as proud as a mother should be with each new development and skill, but the momma part of her is saddened her "baby" is growing up. (You can read my essay on my own experience of this here.)

This was especially evident the other day when she spoke of how he holds her hand differently now.  "He used to just put his hand in mine, but now he intertwines his fingers in mine."  That simple movement spoke volumes to her of his growing up and becoming more independent each day.

Of course, growing up is the normal and desired course during our children's lifetimes.  We expect our children to grow up, but not quite so fast, please.  We expect them to become independent of us, but be slow about it, okay?  And yes, it brings some pain to us when those ones we cared for from babies now pack up and move out of the house.  But in spite of the pain, it is as we would want it to be.

When we put our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are birthed into the family of God.  As do our earthly children, we begin as little babes who are capable of little.  But the Lord no more intends for us to stay that way than do we expect that of our own little bundles of joy.  In fact, the Apostle Paul admonished the Hebrew Christians for not having had more growth in their Christian lives. . .

"For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God;  and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat."  (Hebrews 5:12.)

We should be able to look back along our lives and see our progress in the Christian faith.  Our knowledge of Christ should be greater with each step and our awareness of His working "in us to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13,) should be growing.  Let us be vigilant to respond to the Lord in a way that this is true of us this year, next year and every year until we join Him in heaven.

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  
To Him be glory both now and for ever.  Amen."  
2 Peter 3:18

Monday, January 15, 2018

Who is Tua?

A week ago, Glen and I and our daughters watched the 2018 College Football National Championship at our daughter Marie's house.  She is a University of Alabama alumni for both undergraduate and law school and there was no way we were going to miss that game.

We might have wanted to change our minds during the first half  as the Georgia Bulldogs led the Alabama Crimson Tide by 13-0.

Then there was a line-up change for the second half.  

Little known Tuanigamanuolepola "Tua" Tagovailoa (TAHN-go-vai-LOW-a) replaced Jalen Hurts as quarterback for Alabama.  That is when the tide turned (pun intended.)

Tua led the Tide to a 26-23 victory by throwing three touchdown passes including the game-winning 41-yard pass in overtime.  He was named the Offensive MVP of the game.

While many have remarked about his precision-like passes and his remarkable ability to see and even "feel" the lay of the defense, that is not the most remarkable thing Tua did on that field. In every post-game interview I have seen, Tua pointedly deflected any glory from himself to His Lord. In one interview he stated, "First and foremost, I'd just like to thank my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. With Him, all things are possible. That's what happened tonight." 

In another, "First and foremost I'd like to thank my Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. . . All glory goes to God. I can't describe what He has done for me and my family. Who would've ever thought I would have been here at this moment."

Following the twitter feed after the Alabama victory, my favorite "Tua" tweet I read was short 

and sweet:

"I don't know Tua Tagovailoa, but I know his Lord and Savior is Jesus Christ."

Is there anything better to know about Tua Tagovailoa? You can quote me statistics of his high school career, his stats from the Championship game, or even show me his MVP trophy.  None of that, in fact NOTHING can compare with the testimonies he gave after the game. He boldy pronounced Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. That game averaged 28.4 million viewers, most of whom would most likely watch the interviews immediately after the game. In those few moments, Tua was able to testify of his faith in Jesus to more people than most of us will meet in a lifetime. Who knows what influence those few sentences will have on the hearts and lives of some of those 28.4 million people.

Tua may play football for the Crimson Tide, but he has personal knowledge of another, most important, "crimson tide."

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: 
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Isaiah 1:18

Grace That is Greater Than All Our Sins
by Julia Johnston

  1. Marvelous grace of our loving Lord,
    Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
    Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
    There where the blood of the Lamb was spilled.
  2. Sin and despair, like the sea waves cold,
    Threaten the soul with infinite loss;
    Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold,
    Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.
  3. Dark is the stain that we cannot hide;
    What can we do to wash it away?
    Look! There is flowing a crimson tide,
    Brighter than snow you may be today.
  4. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
    Freely bestowed on all who believe!
    You that are longing to see His face,
    Will you this moment His grace receive?

  5. Grace, grace, God’s grace,

    Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;

    Grace, grace, God’s grace,

    Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Delighted by Love

Today while we were out walking we encountered a white lab puppy.  His owner had let him out for a bit and the puppy was bounding around the neighbor's yard.  It was obvious he had unlimited energy and probably more curiosity than is good for him.  

I was delighted to see him and immediately thought of Labradors I have known. . .Cairo, Sheba and Remi.  Each has been a delightful, friendly and loving dog.  And each gave as much love, devotion and attention to their families as they received as pets.  Some dogs, especially some breeds, just have a way bringing love with them.  

While some may say that it would be hard to determine if the owners or the pets loved the most, one has only to watch our Sparrow welcome us home to know how great her love is, and how loud!  I would post a video of it, but you would not be able to turn your speakers down fast enough!

While we often underestimate the degree of love our pets have for us, we tend to do that with God, too.  We tend to think of His love as equal to our own, flawed, human love.  But it is not.

His love is never selfish, it is never unseemly, it never rejoices in the pain of another.  His love never tries to promote Himself, but is centered totally on others.

The Apostle Paul described love (charity) this way:

"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things; hopeth all things, endureth all things."  (ICorinthians 13:4-7.)
Let's look at it this way.  "Before the foundations of the world," as the Scriptures tell us, God the Father knew that if He created mankind it would eventually mean He would have to forsake His Son on the cross to be the "propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."  He knew this, and created us anyway.  Why?  Because He loved us even before He created us.

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." (Jeremiah 1:5.)

We should tuck that truth deep in our hearts and minds and contemplate it over and over again.  He knew and yet He created us still.

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, 
and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
I John 4:10

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How "If" Becomes "When"

It usually begins as a joke, a suggestion made entirely of jest.  Then that tiny seed that wasn't spoken in earnest begins to take root in our brain.  Perhaps the next conversation on that topic isn't a joke, but isn't spoken of as a reality either.  But hearing our discussion of it waters the tiny seed and it sprouts into a tender plant.  Pretty soon we are speaking of the topic, not as some impossible thing, but something that is possible but improbable.  The plant grows.  Before long the discussion changes from "if" to "when" and the plant has taken root.

This is what happened with our walking "marathon" last February.  We had hiked our longest day the previous May, 23.17 miles.  The feat both surprised and impressed us.  I never thought we could hike that many miles in one day, but the weather was great and the path easy.

Once we returned home we began talking that we had almost walked the distance of a marathon, or 26.2 miles.  We began to joke that if we could walk twenty three miles, then we could walk a marathon one day.  The discussions over time changed from "if" to "when."  Then we began to plan our marathon day.  I mapped out our course, we checked the weather and picked the date.

It was a great deal of walking and also a great deal of fun, especially since we kept our friends and family updated with our progress as we walked.  I think Glen had the most fun texting back and forth with our grandson Jackson. (You can read more about that day here in our post, The Unexpected Welcome.)

 Walking 58,361 steps and burning 2885 calories in the process, our course was dotted with stops at bakeries, coffee shops and the Moon Pie store.  It took us 7 hours and 37 minutes of actual walking time, although we did not stop the clock for traffic.

At the end of the day we decided we would never do it again.  Then by a month later we had decided not only to repeat our performance, but to add four miles to the course!  Thirty miles felt much different than twenty-six and again we proclaimed we would never walk that far when not hiking.

Well, you know where this is going, don't you?

In five weeks we plan to do our second walking marathon.  We will follow a certified marathon course in our city, fortunately dotted with coffee shops, bakeries, and yes, even the Moon Pie store is close by.

All this came about because we heard our spoken word and it took root in our brains and hearts.

Tee Shirts made
 by our daugther, Emmie
Such is true of the Word of God.  When we hear the Word of God it doesn't just sit in our ears, it is a tiny seed planted in our hearts and minds.  When we encourage each other in our faith, our words water that seed and the tiny plant of faith is born.  When we confess our faith to others, or encourage others, or share scripture with someone, our own ears hear our words and our hearts begin to believe those words and our faith grows.

This is one reason it is so important for us to speak the truth, not only to others but also to ourselves.  Our ears pay attention to not only what others say to us, but also what we say to others.  "Speak the truth in love," is great advice to ourselves as much as to others.

Let us resolve to speak "that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."  And grace to ourselves as well.

"So then faith cometh by hearing, 
and hearing by the word of God." 
(Romans 10:17.)