Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for April, 2014

A Story in the Sunset

Sunrise.  The dawn of life—babies, fresh and new, pure, delicate, delightful! 

Morning, noon & afternoon.  The prime of life—strong, productive.

Twilight.  Aging beautifully, grace-fully!  Take time to treasure these precious moments.  And about the time you start to turn away thinking the show is done,  the color changes, intensifies. 

Finally it fades to a warm mauve glow that bathes the sky before the dark of night takes over. 

O Lord, you alone are my hope.
I’ve trusted you, O LORD, from childhood.
     Yes, you have been with me from birth;
     from my mother’s womb you have cared for me.
     No wonder I am always praising you!
My life is an example to many
     because you have been my strength and protection.
     That is why I can never stop praising you;
     I declare your glory all day long.
And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.
     Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.  (Psalm 71:5-9 NLT)

The Generosity Game

Early in our marriage we tacitly decided never to play Monopoly with each other.  It’s just too cruel a game.  Then a decade or so later, a distant cousin of my husband came up with a game that was on the market briefly, called Generosity.  I think of it often because its philosophy and goal was so counter-culture. 

–The goal of the game was not have the most money or property on hand, but to have stored away the most money in your “heavenly treasure chest.” 

–In order to put money in that “heavenly treasure chest,” you had to draw a card that invited you to give some of your own money to a specific cause such as missionary work, helping a poor person, etc.  BUT that’s not all.  You had to draw another card to determine whether your attitude was right or if it stunk!  (God loves a cheerful giver!)  Only if your attitude was good did you have the privilege of giving.

The game has been passed on to one of our kids.  I hope his family will not only enjoy playing it but will also learn well its godly principles of money management, of kindness and of true values.

From Woe to Wonder

Put yourself in the sandals of Jesus’ followers that week.  What a roller-coaster of emotions they experienced!

Confusion—on the way to Jerusalem as Jesus kept on predicting his violent death

Euphoria—as the crowds lauded Jesus as King coming into the city

Shock—as Jesus angrily expelled money-makers from the Temple courtyards

Amazement—as Jesus stymied repeated verbal traps of religious leaders

Consternation—as Jesus predicted the future destruction of Jerusalem and another return of His sometime in the future

Shock—as Mary “wasted” a fortune in perfume on Jesus’ body

Weariness—as they tried to stay awake in the garden while Jesus prayed in agony

Panic—as Jesus was arrested (they all fled)

Grief—as Jesus was tortured, crucified, and then died

Hopelessness—as they buried and mourned this friend they’d come to believe was their long-awaited Messiah

Incredulity—as they discovered the empty tomb!

Jubilation—as they encountered Jesus, their risen Messiah and God

HE HAS WON!  HE IS VICTOR OVER DEATH AND SIN!

 

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids Him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

 

Which Is the Real World?

In a theater, you’re in another world.  Especially this time.  We had gone to see the movie, “Son of God.”  I love Jesus, I love the Bible, and I loved this movie!  It drew me in, stoking the fires of delight, truth, and passion as Jesus astounded his own followers and throngs of onlookers with his authoritative teaching, his powerful miracles, his surrender to the suffering that would bring them forgiveness and new life, and then the compelling end in two scenes:

After Jesus had given his disciples their assignment of taking this Good News to the world and then ascended to heaven, Peter gets up and urges the others, “We’ve got work to do!” 

Then we see the apostle John 60 years later, living a lonely existence on a prison island–when his best Friend appears to him in gleaming white, holding his nail-scarred hand out to him and identifying himself as “the First and the Last” and speaking of the final act in heaven when there will be no more tears, crying or pain.  (John wrote this down for us to read in the book of Revelation.  See especially chapters 1, 21 & 22). 

The movie over, we walked out of the theater in a daze, overwhelmed by the impact of the love, suffering, beauty and truth we’d just seen.  Suddenly I staggered under the blast of the mob scene—or rather, the mall scene:  loud music, people shopping, playing video games, eating, chatting, moving around in an artificial world, consumed with trivia.  Normally when one exits a theater, he is leaving a world of make-believe to re-enter the real world.  However, on this occasion I think it was reversed.

Which is the real world?  I don’t want to waste my time and energies on what is temporary and trivial!  I want to be motivated by those two scenes at the end of the movie. 

–“We have work to do!”  This is the task of Christ’s followers for today and as long as this world lasts.  It will cost us; He promised that, but it’s the life of ultimate fulfillment and joy.  And it will be worthwhile because…

–When it is finished, we who follow Him will enjoy that wonderful new life with Him, where all tears and pain will be only memories, where our dearest dreams come true.  And it will be much more real than this world we live in today.  That is the ultimate reality.

In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise
In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I am alone
When I am alone
When I am alone, give me Jesus

Give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus,
You can have all this world,
But give me Jesus

When I come to die
When I come to die
When I come to die, give me Jesus

Listen to Fernando Ortega sing this at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rZ8k9m2hwo

Final the End!

My younger sister and I used to argue a lot as kids.  But I got the upper hand when I convinced her that she had to stop whenever I said, “Final the End!” 

This silly memory came to mind the other day when I read the last chapters of the book of Revelation.  After all the atrocities, blasphemies, catastrophes, and devastation written in this book are finished, there will finally and forever be an end to all evil!  When the abominable “Babylon” is totally wiped out, the earth mourns and all in heaven rejoice (chapters 17-18).  Satan and his two puppets are banished forever to the “fiery lake of burning sulfur,” as are those who have give their allegiance to them.

Heaven finally reigns uncontested—and what a celebration!  Its citizens will at last participate in breathtaking splendor and joy. 

–A dazzling new heaven and earth

–No more tears, pain, or death! 

–Water of life, the tree of life

The throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads.  And there will be no night there—no need for lamps or sun—for the Lord God will shine on them. Sun And they will reign forever and ever.  (22:3-5)  

Where we will be then depends on whom we follow today. 

Contingency Plan

What should one do when disaster strikes?  When one’s own nation is sinking and enemies are about to invade, when total crop failure are imminent and the financial system collapses?  No, this is not about the present day (though it very much applies!).  It’s about the situation in the Jewish nation of Judea 2600 years ago, shortly before it was overthrown by Babylon.  Habakkuk, God’s prophet, complained first about the corruption in his own nation and then about the drastic measures (foreign invasion) God was going to use to address it.

At the end of this short book of the Old Testament, Habakkuk acknowledges God’s power and wisdom, and he prays a beautiful prayer.  I want to adopt for myself his threefold response to impending disaster:       

1) Wait patiently for God to set things right.
2) Rejoice in the Lord. 
3) Find my strength in God no matter what the circumstances. 
     (Notice how God is the focus in all of these!)

I will wait quietly for the coming day
   when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
   and there are no grapes on the vines;
   even though the olive crop fails,
   and the fields lie empty and barren;
   even though the flocks die in the fields,
   and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign LORD is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.  (Habakkuk 3:16b-19)

Divine Tryst

Moses had two places where he would go regularly to meet with God:

1.  Up on Mount Sinai. God’s appearance on the mountain was announced by fire and billowing smoke, thunder and lightning, earthquake and a crescendo of trumpet blast.  The people were scared out of their wits, but Moses didn’t hesitate to go up whenever God called him to receive instructions on behalf of the people.  He had courage in the presence of the One who loved him and had chosen him for service.

2.  In a temporary “tent of meeting” that Moses set up outside the camp before the Tabernacle was built.  Moses spent a lot of time in there.  God met him and spoke to him personally, “as a man speaks with his friend.”  (Exodus 33:11)  How amazing is that–to be considered God’s friend!!!

But fast-forward.  I do have a “tent of meeting”!  It’s a rocking chair in the corner of my living room.  Or the kitchen where I sing as I prepare food.  Or deep in my heart as I give thanks and express my love to this Heavenly Friend.  When I curl up in my chair in the morning with my Bible and a cup of coffee, how I wish he’d have a cup, too (would He take sugar and cream?)—and that I could hear his voice and see his face.  But I know He’s there with me, and one day I will see His face. (Revelation 22:4)  Imagine his smile of delight as He welcomes me home! Smile

There is a quiet place
Far from the rapid pace
Where God can soothe my troubled mind

Sheltered by tree and flow’r
There in my quiet hour
With Him my cares are left behind

Whether a garden small
Or on a mountain tall

New strength and courage there I find
Then from this quiet place
I go prepared to face
A new day with love for all mankind  (by Ralph Carmichael)

You can listen to the song at this website:  http://offthesanctuarywall.blogspot.com/2010/11/lyrics-there-is-quiet-place.html

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