Monday, May 7, 2012

The Ugliness of Sin

John 10:10 begins with "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. . ."  I thought of these words when faced with recent situations that reveal the ugliness of sin. These stories brought tears to my eyes and caused me to cry out to God in prayer. Isn't it sad that often sin is camouflaged enough to appear pleasant and inviting, but occasionally we are exposed to sin's true ugliness?  Sin batters and bruises its victims and yet they return for more.  Caught in sin's ugly grasp, the sinner is powerless to escape unless a Rescuer reaches down to deliver them.  Yes, the Rescuer (our Savior) does the delivering, not the sinner.

My heart is saddened to see the broken relationships, the lies, the hatred and the addictions that are the product of sin.  If I had to select an image representing sin, I think I would have to choose a side-by-side comparison of a beautiful young woman.  This woman is attractive enough to be a model, but the comparison picture shows a face that is unrecognizable.  The face has been marred by mere months of addiction to meth.  The once-beautiful skin is marred by acne, several teeth are missing,  the hair is unkempt.  You may have seen photos like this at The Faces of Meth. 

My heart hurts for those suffering from sin's ugliness.  I know sin's grasp and am not completely out of it's reach until I reach Heaven.   I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit indwelling me and guiding and convicting me.  Too often I've ignored that still small whisper and lived to regret it.  Regarding sin, A.W. Pink says:  Wherein lies its fearful potency? Why, in its power to deceive us. It lies to us. It did so to Adam and Eve. It gives us false estimates of values so that we mistake the tinsel for real gold. To be saved from the power of sin, is to have our eyes opened so that we see things in God’s light: it is to know the truth about things all around us, and the truth about ourselves. Satan has blinded the minds of them that believe not, but the Holy Spirit hath shined in our hearts "unto the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:4, 6).

As you know, John 10:10 doesn't end with the destruction of the thief, but finishes with "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."  Friend, are you living in the midst of sin's ugliness or enjoying Christ's abundant life?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review: Parenting In the Pew

Just over a month ago I came across a review of this Parenting in the Pew book.  I believe I read the review on a Monday following a squirming Sunday service so I decided to purchase the book and try to glean anything I could about how to better prepare Abby for worship. 

Our church is very child-friendly and does not have a nursery.  It doesn't bother our pastor or the members to have wiggly toddlers making noises throughout the service.  (At least that's what I've been told.  I truly think Abby's noises bother me more than they do others.)  I've been on Pinterest and received inspiration about busy bags.  We've tried lots of things to distract her and just keep her quiet.  That's what I've seen other parents doing so I thought that's what you do at this age.  Well, Robbie has helped me understand it's important to teach your child(ren) to be an active listener and participant in the worship service.  She explains how she once attended church for her own benefit and blessing, but then realized she should be there to worship and bring glory to God.  This point was important to me as I found it so difficult when Abby was an infant to attend services.  It seemed I never got anything out of the service, but I think God was more pleased with me making the commitment to be at church.  Some days I wanted to listen to the pastor in the nursery, but was interrupted by other moms sharing their needs.  Those sacrifices only last so long and soon your child is entering a new stage . . . toddlerhood. 

Robbie provides these suggestions for parents:
  • It's the responsibility of parents not Sunday School teachers or Junior Church teachers to teach children how to worship.  (And I'm not convinced that Sunday School/Junior Church is biblical).
  • Worship does take work and requires preparation on Saturday, not just Sunday morning. 
  • Teach your child to tithe with their first gifts of money.  I remember tithing a penny out of my first dime!
  • Make sure your children sit with you as they grow up.  Eliminate diversions and this includes children sitting with their little friends.
  • Teach them at an early age to sing hymns as you point out the words for them to follow.
  • Teach them to imagine the story that is taking place as they sit through an instrumental song or offertory.
  • Ask questions about the sermon afterward to see how much they understood.
  • Don't allow the child to leave for bathroom breaks unless it's an emergency.  Take them before the service and avoid the shiny water fountain.   
I really appreciated Robbie's insight.  I plan to implement several of her ideas, but first I must wean my little one off of the snacks and distractions.  I also want to use some of the listening sheets that can be found on Pinterest now.   It's so important for children to be taught to listen.  I remember my Grandma Barrett pointing out the word "Jesus" to me and I was able to find it on the pages of her Bible before I could even read. 

I think it's important for families to worship God throughout the week.  And it doesn't necessarily have to be too structured at first.  Sit down and have prayer when you hear that someone has passed away or get a call about a loved one's car accident.  Read a Bible story to them before they go to bed.  Tell and act out a Bible story.  I know it's frustrating when they are little and don't want to finish, but it's preparing them for more later.  Keep those appetizers coming!

Robbie is a Presbyterian so there are references to their liturgical worship style and infant baptism.  The book is ten years old, but I still found it relevant.  I did purchase it used and wouldn't recommend purchasing it at full price (which I don't think I've ever done for any book).  It is a short read at 139 pages, but seems to cover an oft-neglected topic.  It definitely made me look at how I worship with differently. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Before the Lord We Bow

Morning at Tuttle Creek

Morning at Tuttle Creek

This Sunday I came across a hymn written by Francis Scott Key in 1832.  I thought it fittingly accompanied the photos of the beauty of creation. 

Before the Lord We Bow

Before the Lord we bow, the God who reigns above,
And rules the world below, boundless in power and love.
Our thanks we bring in joy and praise, our hearts we raise
To Heaven’s high King.

The nation Thou hast blest may well Thy love declare,
From foes and fears at rest, protected by Thy care.
For this fair land, for this bright day, our thanks we pay,
Gifts of Thy hand.

May every mountain height, each vale and forest green,
Shine in Thy Word’s pure light, and its rich fruits be seen!
May every tongue be tuned to praise, and join to raise
A grateful song.

Earth, hear thy Maker’s voice, thy great Redeemer own;
Believe, obey, rejoice, and worship Him alone.
Cast down thy pride, thy sin deplore and bow before
The Crucified.

And when in power He comes, O may our native land,
From all its rending tombs, send forth a glorious band.
A countless throng, ever to sing to Heaven’s high King
Salvation’s song.

This hymn was found here. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Perils of Exaggeration

 Last week numerous states in the Midwest suffered from severe weather.  Our little Kansas town was no exception.  We had some flash floods, dime-sized hail, a few downed power lines and a tornado touched down about 20 miles from us.  And no, I did not take any photos.  This photo is courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart.  

After the storm I was preparing to email a contact regarding the weather and I found myself beginning to exaggerate some of the details.  I wasn't intentionally try to exaggerate, but I had to stop and calculate how far the nearest tornado was as I was just going to estimate it was 15 miles from us.  Now a difference of 5 miles isn't a big deal, is it?  It does make it sound as if we were a bit more in the path of harm's way though.  I actually discarded my message at that time as I reflected on my tendency to be "sloppy" with the facts.  

What is exaggeration?  Webster's 1828 dictionary states that it is "to enlarge beyond the truth."  The example sentence it gives is: "A friend exaggerates a man's virtues; a enemy exaggerates his vices or faults." So if the truth is not presented in an honest manner is what you say or write essentially a lie?  For a half truth is not the truth.  

What is the motivation behind exaggerating the truth?
  • You are seeking attention or sympathy.  (Drawing attention to one's self, wouldn't the root cause be pride?)
  • You are trying to improve your own self-image.  (Pride would be the root of this behavior)
  • Out of fear you exaggerate facts to avoid a confrontation.  (It seems pride would be involved here also).

A few verses came to mind:
"Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from evil." Matt. 5:37
 "So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!" James 3:5
 And a frightening statement about accounting for our words:
"I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak," Matt. 12:36
Be honest in all you say. While it's wrong to embellish the truth it's also wrong to cover up the facts. Parents, be mindful to model honesty before your children.  Confess your failures when you sin in their presence.  Be purposeful in your conversation so you do not skew the facts.  Employees, don't exaggerate details about your workday.  Pastors, don't exaggerate your accomplishments and numbers.  Don't be sloppy with the facts.  We will all give an account before God one day. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Celebrating Life

"See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil." Deut. 30:15

Tonight Jeff and I attended our pregnancy center's banquet.  As we celebrated a "Culture of Life" and rejoiced in the fact that a local ministry is promoting the sanctity of life, I began to wonder if we take the time to celebrate the new life given to us through regeneration.  Wouldn't it make things simpler if we could give someone a "regeneration" test to see if they tested positive or not?  But alas, the answer is known only to God and the individual. Still, we have the opportunity to see evidences of salvation in individuals that confirm that God has breathed life into one who once was spiritually dead.

After my salvation at age seven I had an aunt who began keeping track of my spiritual birthday.  Each year for several years she would send a card she created to celebrate this special day.  I've never known anyone else to do that.  What a special way to celebrate my new life. 

Can you find ways to help celebrate new life in a believer?  Baptism is a great time for the church body to rejoice and celebrate with the new believer.  Some other ideas would be a quilt, wall-hanging, picture or new Bible with a notation regarding this special event. Isn't it sad we Christians spend more effort and expense celebrating the physical birthday rather than the spiritual? 

In closing, I must share some words on regeneration by some old fellows who walked with God. 

"What comes from this throne of grace is pure grace, and nothing else; clear grace, free grace; grace that is not mixed, nor need be mixed with works of righteousness that we have done. It is of itself sufficient to answer all our wants, to heal all our diseases and to help us at a time of need. It is grace that chooses, it is grace that calleth, it is grace that preserveth, and it is grace that brings to glory; even the grace that like a river of water of life proceedeth from this throne. And hence it is, that from first to last, we must cry, Grace, grace unto it!"- John Bunyan
"Do not think Christians are made by education; they are made by creation... The vital spark must come from above! Regeneration is not of the will of man, nor of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, but by the power and energy of the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God alone!"
- C.H. Spurgeon

Friday, April 6, 2012

Jesus Only

Right now stores are full of Easter decorations and candies.  Churches and schools are hosting events celebrating Easter, but just like Christmas, so many seemed to have missed the point.  Some argue against Christians celebrating Easter due to it's pagan origins.  I do celebrate it, but try to remain focused on the One who was resurrected. 

As Abby grows I intend to create some Easter traditions.  Maybe next year we will try to make the resurrection cookies together.  Today we "painted" a resurrection butterfly after hearing the story read this morning at our weekly mom's group.  This weekend I plan to read the resurrection story from her Jesus Bible storybook even though it seems I can only get through about one paragraph before her attention span evaporates.  It's been some time since I've read Treasuring God in Our Traditions, but I would recommend it. Noel Piper offers parents ideas about how to honor God in your holiday traditions. 

While we should be celebrating the power of the resurrection of Christ and the spiritual life that has been imputed to us, we are distracted by food, Easter egg hunts, decorations, and candy.  Where is Christ in all of this?  Has He been forgotten and ignored? 

I'm currently reading (in addition to about 10 other books and pamphlets) Jesus Only by good ol' Horatius Bonar.  Here is an excerpt from my reading tonight:
"Do we not often, too, study the Bible as if it were a book of law, and not the revelation of grace?  We draw a cloud over it, and read it as a volume written by a hard master.  A harsh tone is thus imparted to its words, and the legal element obscures the evangelical.  We are slow to read it as a revelation of the love of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost; as the book of grace, specially written for us by the Spirit of grace.  The law no doubt is in it, yet the Bible is not law, but gospel.  As Mount Sinai rears its head, an isolated mass of hard, red granite, amid a thousand desert mountains of softer and less stern material, so does the law stand in the Bible- a necessary part of it-but not the characteristic of it; "added because of transgressions, till the seed should come"  (Gal. 3:19).  Yet have not our suspicious hearts darkened this Book of light?  Do we not often read it as the proclamation of a command to do, instead of a declaration of what the love of God has done?"
And another insightful reminder from a previous page:
 "Some have tried to give directions to sinners 'how to get converted,' multiplying words without wisdom, leading the sinner away from the cross by setting him upon doing,  not believing.   Our business is not to give any such directions, but, as the apostles did, to preach Christ crucified, a present Saviour, and a present salvation.  Then it is that sinners are converted, as the Lord Himself said, "I, if I be lifted up . . . will draw all men unto me" (John 12:32)

Will you reflect on the Gospel this Easter and be reminded of the suffering of the cross, the power of the resurrection and the miracle of your own regeneration?

(Jesus Only is an excerpt from the book "God's Way of Peace" which can be accessed here)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Afternoon Fishing at Lake Wilson

What gorgeous warm weather we've had.  For so  many years I lived in locations that were still buried under inches (or perhaps feet) of snow at this time.  We took a picnic lunch with us and head to Lake Wilson after Sunday morning services.  Jeff caught fish, but didn't keep them.  I encouraged him to think about the current return on investment and how he really should be keeping some fish to feed his family.  He's getting softer as he ages.  And I don't mind a bit. 

Please see my previous post and enter to win a copy of the book, Miracle for Jen.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Book Review: Miracle for Jen

Who is the author of suffering?  Is it Satan, as some would have us believe?  Or does God ordain suffering to accomplish His purposes? 

Jen Barrick was a godly 15 year old girl with talent and beauty.  She was shy when it came to sharing the Gospel, but she prayed desperately for God to equip her with boldness and desired to be used for His glory.  He answered her prayers.  A drunk driver hit her family's van head-on.  Jen experienced massive head trauma and was in a coma for 5 weeks.  Unable to respond to questions she began to express her innermost thoughts and they glorified her Heavenly Father.  Her first words were prayers and praise songs worshiping Her Father. 

Miracle for Jen is a book about the power of prayer and how God uses weakness to accomplish His purposes.  Jen's mom, Linda Barrick, authored the book (along with co-author John Perry) and she provides detailed insight into Jen's slow recovery from a brain injury.  The accident stripped Jen of her inhibitions and gave her a boldness to share her faith in public.  Jen will never physically be what she once was, but God has transformed her into a vessel He is able to use. 

I found this book difficult to put down as I was eager to learn what happened next as Jen struggled for life and then faced the challenge of learning to walk and function again.  This book will make you praise God for His goodness and thank Him for His people.  I am amazed to read of the selfless sacrifices made by those from Jen's church, Thomas Road Baptist Church.  It really reminded me how I need to be more giving when those around me are suffering from a long-term illness or injury. 

Jen's journals prior to the accident were full of prayers and praise to God.  They revealed what was hidden in her heart.  The accident caused what was in her heart to be verbalized.  Never was there any cursing or angry words, as is typical with most who suffer brain injuries. I wonder if you and I were to experience something similar, would we be embarrassed to have what is in our hearts revealed? 

I will be giving a copy of Miracle to Jen away on March 29th.  Leave a comment below to enter the giveaway.  Learn more about the book by visiting:

Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book to me. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The New Normal, Or Not?

Jeff and I had a conversation tonight about the new "normal."  So many people accept that cohabitation is fine because everyone is doing it.   And single parent homes are "normal" also.  I had a young mom tell me that because she turned out fine without a dad in her life her son should be just fine - although she's already noticed how he responds and listens better to male figures in his life.   It's so sad to see young moms assume that single parenthood is "normal."  And I certainly realize there are circumstances that sometimes prevent the dad from being in the picture:  death, physical/sexual abuse, prison, military service.  But if dad can't be there then make sure a father figure is there, especially for the sake of your sons:  an uncle, grandpa, or a godly caring man from church.   And if you're single and you have children, put your child before yourself.  Please don't date the registered sex offender.  Please don't date the man who is a known cheater.  Please don't date the man who is an alcoholic.  Think about how the person you date will interact with your child/children. 

There is also an entire generation of young people who do not see the need for church.  They see it as completely unnecessary.  It's so sad to see the spiritual state of so many young adults ages 18-30.  But who has failed them?  Sure, their parents have failed them, but so have we, the ambassadors of the Gospel.   Are we boldly sharing the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ?  Are we seeking to build relationships with unbelievers so that we can point them toward the One who is their only Rescuer?

The brokenness we see in the world is not truly new, it's a remake of the same sinful patterns that have been followed for thousands of years.  There will be a day when all things will be made new, even my sinful nature.  Then life will return to the normal that God and Adam and Eve once knew. "Even so come, Lord Jesus!"

"There is no new thing under the sun." Eccl. 1:9 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March Musings

Sunday there was a discussion in Sunday School regarding the importance of John the Baptist and how he pointed toward the coming Messiah.  I left church thinking about whether I am constantly pointing others to Christ through my actions and words.  Even creation points to the Creator of the universe. 

Yesterday we enjoyed spending a warm day at the lake.  I took Abby for a walk and we examined rocks, the water, weeds flowers and listened to the birds sing.  I told her about her Creator and how He created all things perfect until sin entered the world.  We also saw signs of fossils and I told her the story of the Great Flood.  I'm sure she's too young to understand much of this, but I want her to see God in nature.  I'm amazed at God's love of beauty and His attention to detail. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Abide With Me

Last night we took a quick trip out to the lake to see some waterfowl and the sunset.  It was a wonderful feeling to be able to enjoy a February day outdoors without being enveloped in a heavy coat.  Too quickly the sun had set and we had to hurry home to enjoy supper together.  The low light prevented me from taking many photos, but here are the best of what I took.

This afternoon I learned of my grandma's passing.  As I looked at these photos I thought of the song "Abide with Me."  It's a lovely song that's not sung in many churches now.  Here are the words in memory of my grandma:

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Uncommon Life

Tony Dungy needs no introduction.  He is respected in the secular sports world as well as in the Christian world.  Unlike many he seems to have found a way to balance both faith and "worldly" success.  In Uncommon Life Tony allows the reader to have a glimpse into his personal spiritual journey.   His passion for building men of faith comes through in this devotional.  He selected seven core themes to focus on:  core, family, friends, potential, mission, influence and faith.   The reader (most likely a man) is encouraged to connect with other men participating in the same study online, if they are not part of a church community. 

Each devotion is one page or less and is easy to read.  I think even the unchurched would find it appealing if they are a sports/football fan.  Tony and co-author, Nathan Whitaker, tackle (pun intended) some tough questions and topics in this book:  What defines you?  Who are you imitating? Where does money rank on your significance list? How is God pruning your life?  How are you sharing another's burden?  This book is not an in-depth study into God's Word, but does a great job using one or two verses to direct the reader into a closer walk with God and becoming a man of character and integrity.  

I somewhat enjoyed this book although I'm not a sports fan.  The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge is definitely a male-focused book.  It seems that perhaps it could have been grouped together according to theme instead of using the seven day rotation, but that's just a personal preference.  I also think it would be nice to have included a page at the beginning or end that explained exactly what the Gospel is about and how one can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  This was alluded to throughout the book, but I think it's important to be clear on this as there is so much churchese these days and the meaning of the word "salvation" or "conversion" is often unknown. 

Below is a short clip that introduces the book and it's purpose.  You can also learn more at or

Disclaimer: Tyndale House Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book to me. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Life's Minor Irritations

Last week I went grocery shopping.  While we have a grocery store in our town I try to drive to Salina at least once a month to stock up.   One item on my list was a specialty item:  our favorite chili garlic paste.  I hadn't had it for several weeks as the old jar in our fridge had turned a grayish color and the expiration date was smudged out.  Time to toss it!   I was forced to skip making several dishes as it was a key ingredient. 

So I found my paste in the ethnic section of the grocery store and purchased it at the end of a long tiring shopping trip.  Imagine my dismay when I unpacked my groceries at home and discovered it hadn't been put in my bag.  By this time I had tossed my receipt in the garbage where it was covered in leftover muffin dough.  So I dug it out, washed it and scanned it to make sure I had indeed paid for the item.  Sure enough it was on there.  I called the store and they confirmed they had it and suggested I return to the store to pick it up.  Ugh.  This is where the frustration really began to rise.   I felt like telling the clerk to  "wait just a minute as I drive the 130 mile roundtrip journey to retrieve my $2.00 jar of chili garlic paste."  Instead I explained that it would probably be about two weeks before I might return and she was kind enough to tell me I could stop in and get my paste.

Even though the item was so incidental it was very irritating to have purchased something and not to have it in my bag.  I felt very cheated.  It's not as though the price was a huge issue, but I can't find this item locally.  I really felt like pouting.  Isn't it amazing how something so minor can tip us over the edge into such a frazzled irritated state?

Jonah had this problem.  His life was miraculously spared and in a prophetic way his stay in the belly of the fish foretold the Messiah's resurrection and death.  He saw thousands of people repent and the miracle of God's forgiveness bestowed on the once-depraved citizens of Ninevah.  God kindly allowed a plant to grow to shade Jonah as he sat and watched what would become of the city.   Then God divinely appointed a little hungry worm to attack the plant and kill it. Jonah failed God's test quite horribly and became angry enough over this dead plant that he wished himself dead.

And the LORD said, "You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?" Jonah 4:10-11

Of course the book ends there and we never find out what happened to Jonah next.  God put Jonah's sour attitude into perspective as He reminds Him that he should be rejoicing in the mercy shown to thousands of people instead of complaining about his lack of shade.  Have you ever been guilty of this?  Have you skipped savoring God's blessing and allowed a minor upset to send you into a fit of irritation?

This morning my pastor preached on Philippians 2:14 "Do all things without grumbling or questioning."  Yes, it was convicting although often my murmuring and grumbling takes place only internally, but God still "hears" it.  If I am filled with the fruit of the Spirit by investing more time with God in His Word only sweet juice (a.k.a. blessings and praise) will spill from my heart when jostled by one of life's minor irritations. 
Grumbling is an evidence of little faith in the gracious providence of God in all the affairs of our lives. And little faith is a dishonor to him. It belittles his sovereignty and wisdom and goodness.  -John Piper

Today I'm linking up with:

Beholding Glory

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Be Still My Heart

This evening I began reading some information on our freedom is being whittled away.  The stories shared by parents throughout the nation were somewhat alarming.  My mind began to move into high gear as I began to wonder how we would be able to raise up our daughter in this environment and what measures we must take to protect her.  I felt myself being enveloped in fear and worry.  As I conveyed some of my concern to Jeff I realized what I really was trying to tell him was "I am fearful."

But wait, there is One who can conquer all fear.  We have a Sovereign Lord who reigns over all.  Of course knowing this doesn't excuse inactivity on our part, but it does allow us to remain internally calm as we trust in the One who orders our every step.  While we wait on Him we can speak up for truth and defend the cause of those in need.  We can celebrate the freedoms we currently have and prepare ourselves for the persecution that will inevitably be directed toward Christians.  We also have a responsibility to be informed when it comes to political decisions and to exercise the privilege to vote.

Tonight I am headed to bed and I don't think I will have any problems sleeping (unless interrupted by a certain small female).  I know God will give grace to see me through any troubles I may face in the future. 

"But he knoweth the way that I take; when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."  Job 23:10

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Blessing and A Gift

Last week I had the opportunity to hear Ward Foley speak.  Ward is known as Scarman and goes around speaking about the pain, surgeries and disfigurement he has endured after being born with Arthrogryposis.  I heard him speak at a secular event and it was amazing to hear him speak about his life with such a positive attitude.  As he recounted all he had been through he highlighted the specific times there was a difficult period in this life:  severe burns, a car accident, the loss of his mother, etc.  Each time he talked about these afflictions he would say they were a "blessing and a gift."  

Can we as Christians say this about the minor inconveniences (or the major ones) we are called to endure?  Do we see the testing we are currently in as a blessing and a gift from God?  Can we thank Him for the thorns in our side whether they are physical ailments, a pesky family member, or being stuck in a job we despise?  

Ward has used the pain in his life to comfort others who are suffering from physical handicaps or those who are close to death.  He talked about the peace he has and how he converses with God daily so perhaps he is a born-again believer.  It's hard to fake true peace.  For those who don't know God they often seek temporary peace in a belief system, meditation or even an illicit drug.  But the true peace we find in God through Jesus Christ is a peace that no one can steal from us.   When I understand that God is with me at all times and through any difficult challenges, what do I have to fear?

To learn more about Scarman, visit his website.  

Have you thanked God for the blessings and the gifts that come with thorns?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

30 Cents

Yesterday after visiting my patients I stopped in a local shop with Abby.  I knew she wanted more time to "explore" before heading home so I thought this would be a fun opportunity.  The problem was I found a small item that was priced right and I thought I needed it.  But the shop only took cash and I don't tend to carry much cash on me.  I realized this as I opened up my pocketbook.  I began counting my change and it became quite obvious I was short.  I really thought I could scrounge up enough, but even after digging through the bottom of my purse I still needed 30 cents.  I was slightly embarrassed that I didn't have enough and assured the lady that I could run and get some money and be right back, but she insisted that she cover my 30 cents.  I thanked her and she asked that I do the same for someone else.  Later I thought about that and how I need to be more mindful of how I can give to cover others needs.  I also reflected on  how pride welled up inside and made me want to turn down her gracious offer to cover my need.  Hmm.  Don't we have the same difficulty when it comes to recognizing our need before a Gracious Savior? 

For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 5:19-21

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Grace! 'Tis a Charming Sound

Illness during our Christmas "tour" and many hours of riding in a vehicle allowed me to spend more time reading various books and pamphlets.  During our stay with my Grandpa I discovered he has over 2,000 in his library so my love of a good read has been a family tradition.  But I digress.

I did read a short pamphlet by R. Bruce Steward on the book of John.  He included the lyrics to "Grace! 'Tis a Charming Sound" at the end of the booklet.  I don't know what the melody sounds like, but I love the words. 

"Grace! 'Tis a Charming Sound" 
by Philip Doddridge, 1702-1751, stanzas 1, 2, 4 & 6 
by Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778, stanzas 3 & 5

1. Grace! 'Tis a charming sound, Harmonious to the ear; 
Heaven with the echo shall resound, And all the earth shall hear. 
2. Grace first contrived the way To save rebellious man, 
And all the steps that grace display Which drew the wondrous plan. 
3. Grace first inscribed my name In God's eternal book; 
'Twas grace that gave me to the Lamb, Who all my sorrows took. 
4. Grace led my wandering feet To tread the heavenly road; 
And new supplies each hour I meet While pressing on to God. 
5. Grace taught my soul to pray And made mine eyes o'erflow; 
'Twas grace that kept me to this day And will not let me go. 
6. Grace all the work shall crown Through everlasting days; 
It lays in heaven the topmost stone And well deserves the praise.

Steward ends by talking about the only certain cure for our terminal disease.

Jesus has carefully diagnosed our condition before God.  He also has prescribed the remedy, which is a personal relationship with God through faith in Himself.  He calls you to Himself in many ways.  To the one who knows and owns his sins,  He is the "Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."  To the one who is perishing in his sins, He is the God-given "Serpent lifted up in the wilderness,"  who gives life to all who believe in Him.   To the spiritually thirsty,  He gives "the water of life" freely.  To the one who senses his condemnation before God, His word, heard and believed, is the passage from death unto life.  To the hungry, He is the Bread of God.  To the one groping in  darkness, He is the "light of the World."  To the one wandering aimlessly ignorance, He is the "Good Shepherd."  To the one who is fearful and sorrowing because of death, He is the Resurrection and the Life."  Tot he one who is filled with doubt and uncertainty, He is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."  To the one who is separated from the source of life, He is the True Vine" who gives life to the branches. 
World peace and personal peace can only be found in the One so many ignore.  Have you taken Him for granted today? 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Travels Through the Midwest

Abby spends some time with her Grandma E.
Our life has been rather hectic the last 10 days.  Last night we arrived home after a long journey from Kansas to Iowa to Wisconsin to Illinois and back home to Kansas.  Thankfully, Jeff's schedule allowed us to spend a few days in each location. 

Our journey did come with a few bumps in the road.  Abby became sick with an ear infection.  The ER doctor didn't catch it when he checked her ears.  Isn't it difficult not to be upset when a medical professional makes a mistake, albeit a fairly minor one?  I'm thankful for medications, medical professionals who are blessed with wisdom and Abby's renewed health.  A second trip to Abby's old doctor was more beneficial and a shot of antibiotics helped to destroy the nasty infection.  It was so difficult to be away from home with a child who wasn't herself. 

My Grandma J. has had declining health for many months.  She suffers from Alzheimer's and this sad disease has slowly caused her weight to decrease to an emaciated 81 pounds.  She suffered some internal bleeding over the weekend so we arrived in town just in time to go to the ER at the hospital to see her.  I'm so thankful that she was able to see Abby while lying in the hospital bed.  She smiled at her and reached her hand out and said "Oh, she's so cute."  I know she probably didn't know it was her great-grand-daughter, but I was so happy to see her respond to Abby in that way.  The next day she became unresponsive and was rushed back to the hospital.   After a transfusion she has improved, but the end is near.  Heaven is just around the corner for her.  I'm so thankful for the godly life she has lived. 

We were blessed with beautiful weather, caring family members and friends and an overabundance of rich foods.  I'm so thankful Abby was able to meet all of her living great-grandparents.  Life is too short to take for granted.  Please don't forget about your elderly family members, neighbors or friends. 

"Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."  James 4:14
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