A milestone birthday

Today is my dad’s one hundredth birthday! Yes, he’s one hundred years old! That’s hard for me to believe or perhaps it’s hard to register that in my brain. He has lived a long, amazing and productive life.

Sometimes we don’t know why God allows someone to live such a long life. Some people live long in spite of being life long smokers. Others live long and nasty lives. However, the Scriptures do tell us, “Honor your father and your mother that your days may be long upon the land that the Lord your God gives you.” That’s one thing that my dad did quite well, honor his mother and father. Even as a young child, his mother made him responsible for his younger brother who had developmental challenges. As a young man, he was responsible to work and help his parents with expenses. As an American citizen, he was responsible to his country and joined the army before Pearl Harbor to serve. Then came marriage and his responsibility to his wife and children. As his mother and brother aged, he became responsible for their well-being and took care of them until they each passed on.

Last year I was talking to Dad on the phone. He told me that he was looking forward to seeing my mother again. She had passed away two years before that and he was missing her terribly. Immediately after telling me that, he added, “But I have to think about my children.” I nearly burst out saying, “But Dad, we are all mature adults now with our own houses and families! We are doing fine!” I didn’t say that though, maybe because he was so innocent in the expression of his thought. It’s just the way he is, very responsible.

So, I believe that God has allowed him to live this long and beautiful life because of that fifth commandment spoken so long ago. It is a testimony to us that the Ten Commandments are still very current and important in our lives. They never expire. The keeping of them gives us life and hope. You can be sure that life was not always easy for him. He married Mom just a few short weeks before he shipped out to England. They were separated for two long years. Troubles and heartaches came and went over the years. When my mother broke her hip and they could no longer live in the same house they had lived in for more than fifty years, he just gave it all up in a day and moved with her into my brother’s house up north. He left everything he was used to and moved to a colder climate. Everything changed in an instant, but he never looked back. He didn’t want to go out and do things by himself because he wanted to be there for her.

So, I am wishing my dear dad a very happy birthday today and am looking forward to as many more birthdays as the Lord will give him until he leaves us to rejoin Mom.

Dad at Meadowbrook Hall on 70th anniversary

God will rescue us (if we let Him).

This morning’s Bible reading was from Deuteronomy 4. In that chapter, God is pleading, even begging, His people to keep his commandments and remember how he took them out of Egypt with mighty miracles. He asks them a few questions:

  • Is there any other nation that God is so close to?  No!
  • Is there any other nation that has such righteous statutes and judgments as have been given to this nation?  No!

His questions got me thinking.  Is there any other nation that God absolutely went in and dragged them out (even if kicking and screaming) with such incredible miracles?  Not to my knowledge.  He even reminds His people that the mountain burned with smoke and was covered with thick darkness as they heard His booming voice giving them the Ten Commandments.

He implores them not to make a graven image of anything that He created. This one has been a trial for mankind since the dawn of time.  Our Father’s creation is so beautiful that men/women fall in love with the creation rather than with the one who created it.  He continues on by explaining what will happen to them if they do such things.

However, even though it sounds grim, He doesn’t leave them hopeless. He reminds them that if they end up in tribulation, even in “the latter days,” if they turn back to Him, He will remember them and rescue them.  Are we in those “latter days” at this time?  The love of many is growing so cold.  It is becoming hard to hang onto our faith, hard to maintain a constant connection and prayer life with our Father.  In a fulfillment of the story of the frog who jumped into a pot which slowly heated up until he died, much of Christian belief is being slowly turned into “hate speech.”  It’s no longer politically correct to speak your mind and no one will even listen to a differing opinion, especially if it’s a Christian point of view.  In their eyes you are a “hater.”  How can God’s love for humankind, His best hopes and love for them have turned into something that people call hatred?

We must be in those latter days.  And yet, even so, God is reaching out.  If we turn to Him, humble our hearts, and ask His forgiveness, He will always rescue us from the pit that we have dug for ourselves.  Is there any pit so deep, or perhaps dark, that He can’t find us and drag us out of it?  NO!  We all find ourselves in all sorts of pits from time to time.  The pit of depression, of despair, of self pity or of pride, insecurity or anger.  No matter what it is, all we need to do is turn back to Him.

As I was driving along later this morning, God, the best DJ in the universe, inspired someone to play this song on the radio.  I hope you enjoy it.  (Sorry, I could only paste the link here.  It’s a Lauren Daigle video.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYR0xP1j4PY

Working things out in life takes time

Time is such a blessing. Recently, I was trying to help a friend who was in distress about some difficulties in her life. I consulted two other friends who love God and care dearly for this friend. What could we do to help our friend improve her situation? I was completely blown away by the helpful ideas they had. They were inspired and uplifting with no selfish motives at all in the mix. One focused on spiritual help and the other focused on practical ideas to improve the situation. I was thinking about it all afternoon and it gave me a sense of awe at the gifts of God and how specific and kind He is. He only wants to help and uplift. However, when I approached the friend in trouble with some of the ideas, there were mixed reviews. Obviously, the person in trouble was still reeling from the repercussions of the situation and was still immersed in the difficulty. Her situation was in fact quite complex. For the rest of that day, I found myself a little flummoxed. The suggestions seemed so inspired and practical and I had felt so inspired by them. Then suddenly it all seemed to fall flat. I couldn’t understand why they didn’t instantly make sense to the person involved, that is, until I thought of Daniel and the angel’s answer to his prayer about Israel. The angel said (Da 10:12, 13),

Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.

It’s true that my friend’s situation didn’t improve instantly, but over the last few weeks, it has slowly been working itself out. Some of the ideas that were discussed don’t really fit for her, but others do and are starting to take shape. We continue to pray for her, and bit by bit, positive things are happening. It reminds me of a situation my dad was in for many years. He had a brother who was a pill for nearly his entire life. My dad always took care of his younger brother and prayed for him throughout his brother’s life. When his brother was about 75 years old, his doctors discovered a new drug that helped alleviate his behavioral issues. For the first time in my dad’s life, he was able to sit down and have a normal meal with his brother. His brother died a few years later, but how kind of God to work things out for the two of them before the brother died.

My lesson learned is that God inspires us either through our own gifts or the gifts of others around us, but it often takes time to work things out in this natural world. So many times this natural world puts up barriers, both natural and spiritual, to impede our progress. However, as my mother often used to say, “Patience is a virtue.” I never really liked that saying when I was young, but our experience teaches us that time to work things out is really one of God’s greatest blessings.

Our God is eternally kind and works overtime to bring everything into a better state. Let’s try not to get weary when things don’t work out immediately, but let’s maintain our love and our prayers and be grateful for the gift of time to work things out.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

Back to God

This is a song for our time. We are all (and when I say all, I mean the entire world!) wondering about these strange times that we live in. Politicians do not have an answer. They can send us money, give us vaccinations, tell us to stay home, require us to give up our gatherings, but they do not have an answer. Giving us money is only a short term fix for some, but it further increases a national debt that we will never be able to repay. Giving us vaccinations may protect us, but how long will it last? Will there be long term side effects? Will this plague ever go away completely? Staying home creates such incredible loneliness and spells disaster for small family owned businesses. We need each other. We need companionship. We need community. People are so needy these days.

This morning my husband and I were out on a walk in the neighborhood. As we walked a few streets away, we were admiring some of the Victorian style architecture and the large covered porches where people used to gather. Suddenly, a woman came out onto her porch and began telling us all about the roofing job that had just been completed on the house closest to us. She went on to introduce herself and her husband and in the end, invited us to come back one day to sit on her large front porch and have tea. She said, I am human. You are human. We all need each other. How right she is and how terribly heartbreaking. People need companionship. Not only was this short chat heartbreaking, but it was also incredibly uplifting. She was so needy and yet so welcoming and thoughtful. We need each other. We would love to go back in the spring and sit on her porch and have a nice cup of tea with this neighbor who rushed out to greet us on a cold winter day with such a warm welcoming spirit.

Yes, we are all human and we need each other. However, no amount of money or government intervention will ever fulfill our heart’s needs. What we really need is God. We need God Himself, not religion. We each need our Father in heaven for ourselves. We need to have a conversation with him and pray that He will be with us and guide us. We need Him personally in each of our lives. If we have grieved him, we need to apologize and make it right. We need to ask His forgiveness and change. He is so longsuffering and kind. He will come swiftly when he hears a humble and repentful heart. Others can feel it if our love for God and our fellow humans is true. People are looking for true, sincere, and righteous lovers of God. When they feel that kind of love, they look up and take notice; it gives them a kind of divine jealousy. They want to get whatever it is that person has. True love is contagious and will spread. We gotta give this world back to God.

You gotta get down on your knees, believe
Fold your hands and beg and plead
Gotta keep on praying
You gotta cry, rain tears of pain
Pound the floor and scream His name
‘Cause we’re still worth saving
Can’t go on like this and live like this
We can’t love like this
We gotta give this world back to God

The most valuable book ever written

It is an outstanding gift to be able to read the Bible from cover to cover in a year. There are many apps that help us to accomplish it these days, making it very available to us in several formats.

As your year of reading begins, you read the story of how God created the world. By his word, he proceeded step by step, and each of those steps added to the creation of an amazingly beautiful world. He put the man and the woman in the garden of his creation and gave them an apparently simple restriction. Don’t eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because if you do, you will surely die. Although that seems simple enough, along came the evil one lying, making insinuations and creating doubt in the woman’s mind. We all know where that led to.

At the end of your year of reading, you arrive at the book of Revelation. In it, God shows the culmination of mankind’s journey from the state of sin, through the process of overcoming, leading to his/her salvation and the ultimate return to God’s paradise. When we read the last chapters of Revelation, the paradise that is described appears to be similar to the first, but when you compare it to the first, this paradise seems more glorious than the first. The first one had a garden, everything that mankind needed to live, trees that were pleasant to the sight, and a river that split into four rivers. Most importantly, God Himself liked to walk there. In the paradise in Revelation, sits God’s throne and the throne of the Lamb, and from that throne comes a river, but this river is the water of life, clear as crystal. On either side of that river of life is the tree of life. There is no more curse in this place and no more night. God’s servants will see God’s face in this place and there is not even a sun because God Himself gives them light. You can see that this paradise is clearly even more magnificent than the first.

In between the first paradise and the last, all the pages of the Bible tell the story of sin and its consequences and mankind’s struggle to overcome it, the life stories of men and women who succeeded and of those who did not. It tells of overcomers, prophets, evil kings, good kings, simple people and so much more. We read of Abraham, Jacob and Esau, King David, his son Solomon, Manasseh, Moses, Samuel, Rahab, and so many others. Each of their lives added to the human story, both good and bad. Those whose lives demonstrated overcoming added to the river of life and showed the way of salvation to those who would come after them. Those who succumbed to satan’s ploys added something important as well. They gave us an image of what not to do, how not to live. Looking at the whole, we see a grand snapshot of God’s eternal plan of salvation and the final restoration of Adam’s descendants. We see God’s compassion and kindness and learn from the mistakes of those who went before us.

Through the richness of the Bible, we learn that we do not have to live as some have lived, but we can live following the example of the most amazing life ever lived, the life of Jesus. What an awesome and splendid story we find in the life of Jesus. We can read his life’s story over and over again and learn more from it each time. Even today, in the midst of a world that seems to have gone mad, we can still find his words jumping out from the pages of this book, beckoning us to live them and make them our own. This book tells us of those who did it. They lived his words. In their lives they succeeded and showed us that we can too. Jesus showed us that God is his father. We are all sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, whose father was God. That makes God our father as well. That means that we can all find the path to salvation if we desire it. With the life of Jesus and the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, we are well able.

Best wishes for a successful overcoming life with Jesus in 2021!

At Eventide

From Christmas Eve night into most of Christmas day, the skies over our small part of the world were very dark and out of them poured deluges of wind driven rain, carrying away every speck of a white Christmas and leaving some in nearby towns without power. Finally, as Christmas evening arrived, I saw a golden hue from my window. I grabbed my phone and rushed out onto the porch to find this spectacular sunset.

The sight of it reminded me that our darkest days have the potential to bring the most spectacular results in our lives. How kind of God to remind us of this encouraging fact in the midst of our troubling times.

We should not fear the darkness, but search for meaning and for ways to overcome as we travel through it. I wish all of the WordPress family many happy adventures and much overcoming in 2021 and may we all remember the simple lesson of the rainbow after the storm or the spectacular evening sunset that follows the darkness. Let this be our hope.

Best wishes in 2021!

We are weighed in the balances and found wanting

The other day I was listening to a local radio talk show.  The guests and the host were discussing the problems in our state and lamenting the downturn in business and the difficulties suffered by restaurants and other small businesses.  I think that we all agree that this is a horrendous situation. The speakers on the show were mostly blaming our governor and other officials who are using this world wide tragedy as a platform to bring in more restrictions and limitations on free speech.

I listened and thought on that for a while.  On the surface, some, or even many, of these allegations may be true, but then God showed me another way to look at it.  The citizens of our country have had the liberty of free speech for several hundred years.  We have had much freedom and many opportunities to build businesses and create schools and hospitals and libraries and so many other avenues of expression and enterprise for ourselves.  What have people done with this great freedom of speech and opportunity?  Has God been magnified?  Have our enterprises uplifted others? Has it been clear to the world that the blessings that we have enjoyed come from the living God whom we serve?

It’s true that some of these freedoms have been successfully used for the benefit of mankind and our country has been very generous to charities that do uplift many.  In the past our country was like a beacon on a hill, calling to the world’s oppressed and mistreated.  However, that same freedom has been used to mock God, destroy his worthy name and create businesses that lead many down a road of debauchery.  We have also used this freedom to build ourselves magnificent homes, go on luxurious vacations, and create entertainments that fill our lives with godless meaninglessness.  We have become a country of overabundance and wastefulness. Our magnificent Father, God, has been relegated to a small and insignificant corner of many lives, and even kicked out of most daily activities.  It’s clear that we have had freedom of speech and have abused it.

So, why do we blame our leaders for what is happening?  Why do we continue searching for scapegoats?  It’s our own fault.  In the days of Daniel the prophet, King Belshazzar was in his palace drinking wine and praising the gods of gold, silver, and brass etc.  Just then, he saw part of a man’s hand writing on the wall.  It wrote, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.”  No one was able to explain it to the king, until the queen told the king that there was a man named Daniel, full of wisdom and understanding, who could explain it to the king.  Daniel was able to translate the whole sentence, part of which – tekel – meant “thou art weighed in the balances and are found wanting.”  When the main desires of our lives are to yearn for more and more money or more and more material goods and beautiful houses filled with expensive furnishings, are we any better than King Belshazzar?  Perhaps we have been weighed in the balances and found wanting.

We should not look for others to blame.  We should look inside of ourselves and see what it is inside of us that is wanting in God’s sight.  Why did God give us free will?  Why did He allow us to pursue freedom of expression? What if He were to let us continue going on down this same avenue? How bad could it get? Would the actions of the majority make it impossible for the increasing minority of those who truly love God to continue?

God never allows difficulties in our lives unless He intends them to produce something good. Could He be allowing this to happen to us so that we have the opportunity to change? Just because we are found wanting does not mean we have to stay that way. Therefore, we should not look at this pandemic as a curse, but as an opportunity to look at ourselves and change the negatives into positives, to turn from those ways and seek God.  We can pray for our country, help our fellow citizens and pray for as many as possible to look within and to see where we need to change our motivations, after which both our individual and collective behavior will follow suit.  Because we will turn our hearts to God, we can then pray to Him and He will listen and heal both us and our country.  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

How can this guy be best friends with everybody?!

No one alive today needs someone to tell them that these are really difficult days to be alive on planet Earth. For most of the world it has been about eight or nine months (ten if you’re in China) since we last felt normal. We don’t know when or if normalcy will return. Many of us have lost loved ones, jobs, and/or the companionship of friends and family. We’re collectively lonely. Everywhere.

Personally, I miss my children and wonder when they will be able to come for a visit again. It’s not easy for them to come since they live quite a few hours away by airplane. Of course, we have the facetime chats, which are greatly appreciated, but it’s just not the same. Normally, when they visit, we would be heading to the local coffee shop for a cup of tea and a chat, or perhaps heading out for a drive in the northwest hills of our state (with more tea and more chatting).

With so many ideas of COVID-19 and loneliness and election craziness running through my head this morning, I thought, “Lord, we need you to be close more than ever.” Right away, I realized the error of my ways. The Lord is always close to us. It’s us that need to be close to him. It sounds a little trite to say it, but yes, we need him. Obviously.

We need more than a distant, two dimensional “facetime” chat with him. He’s real. We need to sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat with him. There are so many issues we need help with. He can give us the patience to wait out the vote counting process, the faith to accept whatever the election result, the love to fill our loneliness, and the strength to bear up through these difficult days.

He’s not a boring God. He’s very personal. If we like gardening, so does he. If we enjoy reading or writing, he loves it too. If we love a long bike ride on a Sunday afternoon, he’s always up for it. Sewing? Knitting? Yup! He’s great at it. He would love to come along, no matter what we’re doing, and fill our hearts and minds with inspiration and ideas about living a complete and whole human life.

Take him to work and he’ll give us ideas on how to do things better and be more efficient. He can show us answers to problems that we have not been able to resolve. If we’re going out for a walk or to work out at the gym, he’s already dressed and raring to go. He can’t wait to help. Getting ready to cook dinner? He has the perfect choice and is always careful not to let food spoil or go to waste. It’s going to be tasty and healthy with a bit of a treat now and then. He really is our best and most loyal friend.

Try it! He never disappoints! How can this guy be best friends with everybody? Well, he’s God! 🙂

Which would you choose: the news? or the Bible?

When I was young, my family got two newspapers every day, a morning paper from a nearby large city and an afternoon more local paper from our county. Then once a week we got a paper from our own small town as well. I read them all. My parents read them all and perhaps some of my brothers and sisters read them all. I’m not sure about that last point because I never paid that much close attention. The point is that we devoured the news and we depended on its veracity to keep us informed.

Nowadays, it’s hard to find real news. The evening news has mostly just two main stories, politics and the coronavirus situation, which is also often mixed in with politics. Very little else. My husband and I do still get a morning newspaper, and in that paper we often find small articles that you would never see on the evening news, but yet these articles contain important and interesting information. However, even so, both the newspapers and news shows all have a slant these days. The once strict principle that journalists had to be objective seems to have been completely run over by the freight train of political gain. At the same time, lot of people just get their news from social media, which is an absolutely frightening idea.

It occurred to me yesterday that the only news that we have nowadays that you can truly trust is the good news of the Bible. It never changes. When you read it, you always get something fresh and encouraging that you can make a part of your day. Even when the Scriptures seem to be reprimanding us, they always leave a place for hope. If you just turn your heart back to God, you’ll see a change in your life.

More and more, the newspapers and the evening news just don’t deliver. The Bible is ever reliable, ever hopeful and ever fresh. All you need is one of them to get fresh news delivered to your door each and every day. I highly recommend it.

Does God have to keep a social distance from us?

Recently, I saw this phrase in front of a church.

“We need to social distance.  God doesn’t have to.”

God is never far from us.  In fact, He is in our hearts, in our mouths.  He is a very present help in trouble.  He is always ready and willing to close the gap.  Wishing you health, joy and closeness to Him.

Deu 30-14