Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Archive for May, 2014

Today and today and today

A stroke left my beloved uncle Leonard with a vocabulary of three words, one of which was “today.”  In his attempts to communicate, sometimes he’d say, “Today and today and today…”

Life is a series of todays.  That was the case also for the Israelites as they traveled through barren wilderness under Moses’ leadership.  Every day for 40 years God provided food for them—manna that appeared miraculously on the ground to be gathered enough for one day’s needs.  Every day for 40 years God guided them by His presence, visible in the form of a cloudy pillar (fire at night).  Wherever it stopped, there they stopped and set up camp—no mean job for two million people!  They never knew whether the pillar was going to stay for one night or a year, but whenever it moved, they pulled up stakes and followed.  No long-range planning on their part, just living today—and today—and today!

Just now I heard about someone who is planning to celebrate a significant anniversary two years early, because one cannot know what will happen by that time.  I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow either.  Though some advance planning is needed, I want to focus on living in the present with my Lord, not worrying about whether He’s going to provide, guide, and protect me. (He will!)         I want to savor every moment, every blessing, and seize every opportunity He offers to bless someone else. 

Day by day,
Dear Lord, of thee three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by Day.

Come and Go

It’s that time of year.  I ran into a new friend of mine this morning who is leaving within a few days with no plans to return.  We had barely started to get acquainted!   And tomorrow there will be a “come-and-go” farewell reception for other colleagues. Still others are leaving for a few months or a year.  On the plus side, three families plan to return within a couple of months after a year or more away.

Is it worth investing in friendships for such short times?  I would say YES for several reasons:

–I need them.  One cannot live without friends.  It would be a lonely existence. 

–My friendship can enrich them as I allow Christ to bless through me.

–We can keep in touch long-distance and support one another in prayer. 

–Even if we never again meet on the earth, I will spend forever with my Christian brothers and sisters in heaven, taking up where we left off.  This life is only the beginning.

Here are a few things I want to keep in mind:

–Don’t take so long to warm up to new friendships.  Grab the opportunity!

–Be genuine, humble, and give of myself in ways that will encourage others.

–Ask God for special friendships with “kindred spirits” with whom I can grow together and share deeply.

Packing up the dreams God planted
In the fertile soil of you
I can’t believe the hopes He’s granted
Means a chapter of your life is through

But we’ll keep you close as always
It won’t even seem you’ve gone
‘Cause our hearts in big and small ways
Will keep the love that keeps us strong

And friends are friends forever
If the Lord’s the Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
‘Cause the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Father’s hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends

“Friends”  (by Michael W. Smith)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVWrwVW3vQY

Joys of Eden

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Oh the joys of a weekend at Eden, a mountain resort, away from the hot and bothered city!

Jungle-covered slopes separated by streams cascading in rocky falls

Wild flowers and vast formal gardens all displaying the Creator’s skill

Insects serenading us through the night

Deer frolicking in the freshness of the morning

A breeze through pine trees

Giant ferns towering above

Getting up early to see the sun rise between the shimmering city lights 2500 feet below and a brilliant Venus above…

A hint of light

A bit of color

Rays emerging, dividing the sky into lighter and darker wedges

Color deepening, becoming brilliant

Fiery gold focusing our attention on “the spot”…

And then finally the sun bursts forth.  We can no longer stand it; we must turn our gaze away.

Birds have awakened and begun their joyful songs.  A new day of God’s faithfulness has begun. Sun

Life or Death?

I like happy endings.  “Romeo and Juliet” is such a well-known and loved story, but it’s a tragedy, a story of death.  He thinks she is dead so he drinks poison.  Then she sees he is dead and kills herself.  Death is what our world seems to do best.  War, abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, genocide, suicide, gang killings, and the list goes on.  The devil drives people to death.

But Jesus came to give us LIFE! 

He himself IS life—“I am the Way the Truth and the LIFE!” 

He grants us access to the water of LIFE–  “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  [It] will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14) And when given a vision of heaven, the Apostle John saw “the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God…”  (Revelation 22:1)

His purpose in coming to earth was this:  “The thief comes only to steal and kill a and destroy; I have come so that they may have LIFE, and may have it abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

He took our death sentence in order to give us LIFE!  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal LIFE.”  (John 3:16)

He urges you to accept his invitation to LIFE:  “… I have set before you LIFE and death, blessings and curses. Now choose LIFE, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your LIFE…”  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20)

Which will you choose:  death from the devil or LIFE from the Lord—along with light, love, and so much more?  This will be the happy ending to your story!

Bring Me To Life by Bebo Norman
(Listen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wR6rABJP_48)

I am a barren land
And it’s all I can do to stand
I am thirsty, I am thirsty

Father, reach out Your hand
I have given all that I can
Still I’m sinking, I’m still sinking

I want to run into the deep
And let the deep call out to me
I want to lose myself in Your love

So let it rain down over me
As I fall down to my knees
Let the ocean rise to meet me
I need You to bring me to life

Well of eternal things
Endless is all the life You bring
Be the water that I long for

And show me Your Kingdom Come
Father and let Your will be done
Here in me as it is in Heaven

Portraits of Integrity—or otherwise

Looking for a good definition of integrity in an effort to define it for my granddaughter sent me to the dictionaries.  Here’s what I came up with as a summary: 

Having strong moral principles (such as honesty) and refusing to change, doing the same as what you say.

A few recent news items strikingly illustrate the presence or lack of integrity in some public figures:

1. “If our faith costs us a television show then so be it.”  David & Jason Benham, whose show was cancelled when it was discovered that they are pro-life and support marriage between one man and one woman.

——-

2.  Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana:  Inevitably during these interviews they say something like this – “you are a smart guy, we know you went to Brown and were a Rhodes Scholar, so tell me, how is it that you call yourself pro-life, and you say that you oppose gay marriage, and you say that you oppose gun control? You just say that stuff to get elected in the Deep South right?”

So of course, l liked to have a little fun with it, so I would lean over the desk, and in hushed tones, pretending to confide in him or her, I would say – well…just between us, do me a favor, go tell your editors the bad news, tell them that I absolutely believe everything I say. As you can imagine, those interviews ended rather abruptly.

——

3.  Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, in a conversation with blogger Bryan Kemper:

He talked about how important the human trafficking issue is to him and how he has vowed to fight it….Then I asked him a single question: how do you vote on pro-life issues? He smiled and said he voted on the opposite side as me.

I first asked him how he could justify saying that he wants to protect young children from being trafficked but then vote to allow killing them in their mother’s womb…He tried to say he was just being wise because he knows how liberal politics are in Illinois and he needed to keep his seat…So I asked him if keeping that seat was more important to him than doing what is right? I asked if he would be willing to lose it if he could end child trafficking and he said no.

——

My pastor said this morning as part of his sermon on powerlessness:  “People addicted to power have already lost their integrity.”

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/george-beverly-shea/i-d-rather-have-jesus-lyrics/#2qCQ8AXlFiT8iR0m.99

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

Than to be a king of a best domain
And be held in sin’s dread sway
I’d rather have Jesus
Than anything this world affords today
Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/george-beverly-shea/i-d-rather-have-jesus-lyrics/#2qCQ8AXlFiT8iR0m.99

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hands

   Than to be a king of a vast domain
   Or be held in sin’s dread sway
   I’d rather have Jesus
   Than anything this world affords today

I’d rather have Jesus than worldly applause
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
Yes, I’d rather be true to His holy name

By George Beverly Shea, Rhea Miller

Hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u62uYEssk7o

Unstoppable

They’ve been trying to stop it for over 2000 years, but the harder they try, the more it grows.  What has happened recently in China is an example.  A large new “legal” church building in the eastern province of Zhejiang has been demolished by the government which complained that Christianity’s spread had been “too excessive and too haphazard.”

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But demolishing a building cannot stop God and the growth of His Church.  Someone commented, “History has proved and will prove again with this case that another church revival will happen after this new wave of persecution.”

The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

The sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.

“Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Read more at http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

A “sociology professor further estimated that China’s total Christian population could hit 247 million people by 2030, which would be the largest Christian population in a single country.  Mao thought he could eliminate religion. He thought he had accomplished this. It’s ironic – they didn’t. They actually failed completely,”

Back up to the beginning.  The book of Acts chronicles the  beginning of the Church from the day that Jesus told his disciples that the Holy Spirit was about to empower them to take the message about Him “to the ends of the earth.”  (1:8)  The rest of that book gives the details of how that plan unfolded in spite of the opposition of established religion, powerful governments, and daunting physical circumstances.  In fact, the last words of the book (in the original Greek language) refer to Paul’s activity while under house arrest in Rome:  “…proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness unhindered”! (28:20)

And that movement goes on, growing and gaining as godless humanity tries in vain to stomp it out.  Until one day loud voices in heaven will proclaim,

“The kingdom of the world
   has become the kingdom of our Lord
   and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever!”
(Revelation 11:15)

That will be a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus that I don’t want to miss!

 

 Links to articles about the church in China:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/10792386/China-accused-of-anti-Christian-campaign-as-church-demolition-begins.html

 http://global.christianpost.com/news/chinese-govt-demolishes-4-6m-church-as-campaign-to-contain-rapidly-growing-christianity-119047/#oZgfhhO0Pv6PIM6F.99

God’s Beautiful World

In springtime, we especially enjoy the reawakening delights of the world around us: The ingenuity of camouflage.  The intricacy of cell structures.  The infinite variety of flowers.  The incredible endurance of tiny hummingbirds migrating across the Caribbean.  The perfect balance of the ingredients for life.  The wisdom of birds in my mom’s yard to figure out how to glue down their nest materials with mud after the wind blew away their first attempts.  The exuberance of a deer (seen on Facebook Smile) dancing in and out of a big puddle.  The devotion of a dog….

Eyes to see, ears to hear–all the senses to appreciate all these things.  Minds and hearts with which to thank and praise their—and our—Creator.

These are all “Rumors of Another World”—as Philip Yancey says in his book of that title.  Glimpses of the transcendence that people are so fascinated with and seek so avidly.  It’s all there if only we would open our eyes and hearts!

Heaven above is softer blue, earth around is richer green;
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen. 
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauty shine 
Since I know, as now I know, I am His and He is mine. 

by George W. Robinson

You can hear the song at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0S5BZJDlGw

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