Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for July, 2013

What’s to Live For?

“Remember that God is All Good, All Wise, and All Powerful.”  That was my reminder to my sister as I saw her and her husband into a taxi this morning, going to see a doctor about serious medical issues.  Another couple I just got to know both came down with dengue fever yesterday.  A friend texted me about multiple family problems.  Is there no end to problems?

The morning that my granddaughter died, I confessed to the neighbor that if it weren’t for the confidence I have in my relationship with Christ and the assurance of a home in heaven, I would have no reason to go on living.  Not that my life is so bad; it’s pretty good, really.  But what would be the use of purely temporal pleasure or satisfaction?

Watching TV in an airport the other day I compared the shallow temporary goals that the programming was appealing to, with the goals that that give permanent satisfaction:

Shallow temporary goal:  a perfect body, beautiful and healthy
     Satisfying lasting goal:  wholeness of soul and spirit

 Shallow temporary goal:  wealth
     Satisfying lasting goal:  God’s provision for today and eternal riches in heaven

 Shallow temporary goal: admiration and acceptance
     Satisfying lasting goal:  to be loved and accepted by God

The goal of all advertising and programming is to create discontent.  But God’s goodness, wisdom and power produce in me a quiet contentment that equips me to face today and every day.  Smile

Taking a Sabbatical

“Taking a sabbatical” is something I associate with professors or pastors.  But this morning I was reminded that the first sabbatical was associated with farmland.  One of God’s instructions to the Israelites (Leviticus 25) was to give the land a rest every seventh year.  A wise conservation principle, right?

But what would they eat?  Along with this command, God made this promise:   

But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years. When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the large crop of the sixth year. In fact, you will still be eating from that large crop when the new crop is harvested in the ninth year.                       (Leviticus 25:20-22)

Jesus reiterated this principle in Matthew 6:31-33:

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Paradoxically, God helps those who put Him first, not “those who help themselves.”  Do I trust Him to care for me, enough to “recklessly” and follow Him with my whole being and then enjoy a life of fulfillment?  The other alternative is unthinkable. 

If you want to know what would happen if the Israelites failed to give the land its sabbatical, and whether they actually did it and the actual outcome, read Leviticus 26:14,34-35 and 2 Chronicles 36:20-21.

On a Journey

In the past few hours, I’ve taken a big step into another world—or rather, to the other side of this earth.  Upon entering the first airport, I got this same old feeling of rootlessness.  My feet were no longer planted in the environment where I’d spent the past four months, nor were they set in the world to which I was going.  I was on the journey, and life went on pause.  Nothing seemed real except for the meals, movies, and vain attempts to sleep.   

Lines from a couple of songs express my feeling and remind me of this present journey to my real and eternal Home:

“There is a joy in the journey…”  (by Michael Card)

“And let this journey be my home…”  (from “I Will Go,” by Steve Green and Douglas McKelvey)

On my journey, I am not in control.  I stand in line as instructed, pass through inspections, sit in my assigned seat, endure delays).  On my way to heaven, I am trying to learn gracious submission and flexibility to whatever situations God allows, knowing that it means growth in character and usefulness to Him.

On my journey, there are fellow travelers.  Others are traveling with me to heaven—my brothers and sisters. I need to learn to love and serve them, enjoying the trip together.

My journey has a limit and a destination; it will not last forever.  Whatever frustrations and difficulties I experience in this temporary life will be forgotten as soon as I step into that joyful new world. 

God, give me grace to be sweet, patient, flexible, and useful to You, to make the most of this journey, however long it may be—for Your glory, for the benefit of my fellow travelers, and even for my own sweeter pleasure when I reach my Real Home.

Maranatha!  Come Lord Jesus!

Celebrating Life

People said it was the most amazing funeral they’d ever been to.  At the visitation we family members all wore bright yellow t-shirts, our granddaughter Emmeline’s favorite color.  It’s a color of joy and of the confidence we have that she is now enjoying the delights of heaven that we are all looking forward to.  And when we get there, she will enjoy being our tour guide.

As the casket came down the aisle at the beginning of the service, her uncle (who happens to be a professional singer) opened our imagination with this song:

I dreamed of a city called Glory, so bright and so fair
As I entered that gate, I cried holy
All the angels met me there
They carried me from mansion to mansion
And all the sights I saw
I said I want to see Jesus, the One who died for all

I bowed on my knees and cried Holy, holy, holy
I clapped my hands and sang glory,
Glory to the Son of God
Glory to the Son of God

When I entered the gates of the city
My loved ones all knew me well
They took me down the streets of heaven
All the saints were too many to tell
I saw Abraham, Jacob and Isaac
Talked with Mark, sat down with Timothy
But then I said, I want to see Jesus, the One who died for me  (by Bill Gaither)

After Emmeline’s “earth-suit” (as my brother calls it) was lowered into the earth, we celebrated the flight of her spirit into her heavenly home by releasing yellow balloons into the sky and watching until they were out of sight. Death is the last enemy but not the victor.  Christ has defeated death, and we who are His participate in His victory!

Balloons at Emmeline's funeral

With Jesus

This morning when I woke up, I did not pray for our terminally ill granddaughter as I have been doing.  She is healed and happy—in Jesus’ arms, as of yesterday noon.  I am deeply grateful for this assurance that she is no longer suffering, either here in her cancer-ravaged body or in some netherworld.  My confidence is based on two things:

1)  God’s promise of total and complete forgiveness for those who turn over their lives to Him and trust Jesus’ sacrifice to save them from the punishment we all deserve for our sins.  (And yes, my sweet Emmeline was a sinner too.)

2)  We have a note from Emmeline’s parents, dated April 2008, saying how she had made this decision to ask Jesus into her life.  And her life bore out the character and Christ-likeness that He produced in her.  She was a blessing to many. 

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.  (1 Corinthians 15:55-58)

When Does Wrong Become Right?

For a few weeks I helped with the homeschooling of my grandchildren.  Among those fascinating things they’re learning, such as the French Revolution and the lives of bats, are the good old “math facts.”  They struggle with the same ones as I did at that age, such as 7 x 8 = 56.  It hasn’t changed. Why?  Because it’s true.

What if a group of kids got together and decided that 7 x 8 = 60?  What if they persuaded a groundswell of public opinion to support it, including church leaders, politicians, math teachers, and corporate leaders?  Would that make it true? Would architects and chemists change their formulas and begin to base their work on this new “fact”?

Note the rationale cited in this article  by Bobby Ross, Jr. dated June 5 on the issue of the Boy Scouts admitting openly “gay” members (emphasis mine):

“Scout leaders, gay activists, religious conservatives and historians of Scouting point to five key factors to explain the shift: 1) a dramatic turnabout in public opinion about the morality of gay relationships and same-sex marriage, 2) a groundswell from corporate leaders insisting on equal access for gays, 3) shifting attitudes inside the two largest religious denominations within Scouting, 4) a steady decline in troop membership and 5) a sense that Scouting’s image had morphed in the public mind from Mom and apple pie to an exclusionary group with a narrowing appeal.”

All of these so-called reasons are human opinions and attitudes.  Do questions of right and wrong depend on changing human opinions and attitudes or on God’s unchangeable character and principles?

No one seriously questions the physical laws set in place by the Creator, knowing that the result would be foolish and probably catastrophic. So why are His moral laws considered fair game for being rescinded by popular vote?

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