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He IS Coming!!!!

Today!! He is coming today!  Today, I will see him.  TODAY, I will hold him!  This is the day that I’ve been waiting for for forty-one days, or nine hundred eighty-four hours, or fifty-nine thousand forty minutes.  Count it anyway you wish, but today is the day!  Today, I meet Caleb Thomas MacAvoy, face to face.  I’ve heard his cry, I’ve seen his picture, I’ve even facetimed his little face, but what is that but a very dim shadow of human touch?
Caleb is our youngest son and his sweet wife’s newborn, and he arrived on Christmas day!  What a joy! Because of several circumstances, we have not seen him yet. It really didn’t matter how much we wanted to see him, it just didn’t happen.  It probably could have happened, but life is full of choices, and no matter how much we would like for a circumstance to be different—a loved one suffering with an incurable disease, a wayward child, a stolen credit card—there are times when we must accept our situation as the will of God.  Does that make us like it any better? Honestly?  Probably not, but it does give us a sure footing amidst the storm of emotions which swirl around us! Of course, the challenge is there:

 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.Philippians 4:11

So, what am I doing to get ready?  In a moment, I’ll begin cleaning.  Then I’ll wash the dog.  I’ll save my favorite task for last: cooking!  I’ll bake a pie and slay the fatted calf (actually the fatted pig) and prepare for not only Caleb, but the beloved couple whom we haven’t seen since Thanksgiving.  Is this a happy day? Absolutely! Are we anticipating a wonderful weekend?  Yes!  Are there any trials surrounding their coming?  More than you can imagine, but today it doesn’t matter!  Today, they just keep getting closer and closer! All day, I’ll be playing that first moment of laying my eyes on my youngest grandson for the first time. And when it finally happens, I’ll probably blubber all over the place!

Jesus us coming.  And here’s the challenge, short and sweet because I’ve got lots to do!  Are you looking forward to His coming?  Of seeing Him face to face for the first time?  Can you even imagine it?  Does it send goosebumps down your spine just thinking about it?  Are you getting ready, because when He comes, there will be no more preparing.  This life, which He so graciously gave us, and then so sacrificially and miraculously redeemed with His own blood, will be our gift back to Him.  Everything we do with these hands, everywhere we go with these feet, everything these eyes watch and these ears hear is either preparing a better gift for Him or destroying it.

He is coming!

 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. Matthew 25:7,8

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Don’t Forget the Milk!


I have fed you with milk, and not with meat:

for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

1 Corinthians 3:2

Milk and meat—Paul uses these two food groups to describe different levels of Biblical learning: milk represents the baby steps and meat, the larger lessons which require bigger leaps of faith.

So, what are the milk steps of faith?  Well, obviously, the Christian life begins with the step of salvation, and although it is the first step, it is by no means a small one!  Salvation takes a giant leap away from the world and puts the believer into a whole new world—God’s world!  Yes, this is my Father’s world, but the world system is certainly the devil’s domain!  Salvation puts us on a lifelong path with our Savior, Jesus Christ. But what are the other baby milk steps?  So glad you asked!

Baptism is the next milk-step, and it isn’t for babies!  :) Baptism is a beautiful picture of salvation.  When a pastor meets a person of faith in the waters of baptism, that person stands before the congregation demonstrating what Christ did for him on the cross: Jesus died, was buried, and then arose from the dead, hence the need of water!

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death:

that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father,

even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:4

Does a person need to be baptized in order to go to heaven?  I hope not, or Jesus lied to the thief on the cross!  You don’t have to be baptized for salvation, just for obedience! …  it’s God’s way, and His way is always best.

Church membership—it’s not a man-made invention; it is God’s plan as well.  Today, the trend is to throw out traditional “organized religion,” and I can understand why as I listen to some of the stories of what goes on in some churches.  However, as the old saying goes: You don’t throw out the basket of apples because of a few rotten ones!  Why be a member of a local, Bible-preaching church? There are lots of reasons: commitment, fellowship, accountability, obedience, but most of all—the love of Jesus Christ.

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is;

but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

Why would believers want to yoke up with God’s children?  Well, they aren’t perfect, but as another saying goes: If you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it or it won’t be perfect anymore! You don’t have to join a church … but it’s God’s way, and His way is always best.

“Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow!”  Milk.  Reading God’s Word is milk.  Talking to God in prayer is milk. They are both basic building blocks to having a successful Christian walk.  So often we try EVERYTHING under the sun to get close to God or to get answers to our problems except the one thing that really works: READ your Bible!!! Get your two best friends—a pen and paper—and dig in to the Bible!  Oh, it’s good stuff!  It’s the stuff heroes are made of.  And talking to God should be as natural as breathing.  The other day, I was putting away dishes and I almost dropped a glass.  The first words from my mouth were, “Thank you, God.”  Does He guide my hands even when drying dishes?  Well, if He sees the sparrow fall, I’d say, “Yes,” and “Praise the Lord!”

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?

and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  Matthew 10:29

You don’t have to read your Bible or pray … but it’s God’s way of communicating with you, and His way is always best.

Don’t forget the milk.  Heaven forbid that a Christian be lactose intolerant!!! A baby Christian is never born that way, but week after week of neglecting the milk can create this horrific situation!  Obedience … you don’t have to be obedient, but it’s God’s way, and His way is always best!

  Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,

as in obeying the voice of the LORD?

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

1 Samuel 15:22

Pro-Choice

This month, we recognize two very sad days in America’s history. Oroe-v-wade-death-pie-chart (1)n January 22, 1973, our supreme court made its landmark decision promoting abortion. Since then, in the United States alone, 16,000,000 children have died because we gave their mothers choice to have it be so.

On January 27th, we remember the eleven million people who died because one man believed that their lives were somehow inferior: some because of their religious beliefs, others because of their sexual preferences, and still others because of their mental state. His beliefs concerning Nazi eugenics made the conclusion that these people were not fit to live, and Adolf Hitler led in the mass murder of millions of innocent men, women and children.

One man decides that his way is the best, and somehow, he is able to convince an entire army of Nazis to agree and carry out his plan—we call that insanity. Sixteen million men and women chose to end the life of their babies—we call iAuschwitzt pro-choice. The freedom to choose—it’s a powerful right, and I’m thankful for the rights that we have in America, even though many seem to be eroding away as fast as the moral fiber of this great land.

What can be done? Were there people living within ten miles of Auschwitz who felt as helpless as I do concerning the death of the innocent? Probably. Thankfully, we do have the power to vote.  This is not a political blog, so I’ll leave the rest to you, but think about it when you cast your ballot.

We can’t do everything, but we each can to something. I chose to write a book. It was the product of a heart filled with an unusual burden concerning the Holocaust. The research I needed to do for the book still haunts me, but the burden I carried for the Jewish people needed an outlet! Stepping away from the book, I realize that it also became a cry to any person who is very religious but lost.  Religion may be a powerful force in our lives; however, like Esther Ruth Raul, the main character in my book, each of us must realize that only the Living Water of Jesus Christ can quench the thirst of a parched and tattered soul!

Twelve Smooth Stones (also available as an ebook)tells her story of trials and tragedy which ultimately led her to redemption.  It’s a historical fiction. I hope you’ll take a look! In spite of all that, it is does contain a romance and is an easy read.  My purpose in writing it was not to expose all the grim details of the circumstances surrounding the Holocaust, but to focus on the people and their tenacity to live and overcome those obstacles.  Above all, it’s a book about the Gospel, because when it is all said and done, is there really anything more important?

But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost.

2 Corinthians 4:3

Ready to Die? Really?

ID-100180787Several years ago, there was a pastor who was having difficulties in his ministry—so much so, that he was moving to another ministry.  At that particular time, we were at a highpoint in our ministry.  I remember one of our children saying, “How can they be so excited about leaving?  I’d die if we had to leave our ministry.”  About three years later, we found ourselves in a similar situation, and that child’s words came back to me.

At the time of the opening scenario, we were fulfilled, prospering, moving forward.  Yes, there were difficulties—there are always difficult moments in any occupation.  (My personal opinion is that they are multiplied in any ministry situation because our enemy more aggressively attacks any progress for our Lord.) But we knew that we were right in the center of God’s will, and we were content to be there.

Three years later, God allowed circumstances which made it nearly impossible for us to stay.  There are several lessons to be learned:

  1. Could I understand the feelings of the other pastor and his family before going through the same circumstance? No, I could sympathize with them, but until I went through that struggle, I didn’t fully understand it.  Now, for any of you who are ministry people: Do know that, Lord willing, you will never go through every trial which your people have to face.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t minister.  We are only the messengers for the Great Comforter!  He has the answers!  Praise the Lord.  But it is true that we can empathize better having gone through trials ourselves.

Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

TRIALS STRENGTHEN US AND MAKE US BETTER MESSENGERS FOR JESUS CHRIST.

  1. When the trial comes, God WILL give you the grace to go through it. Before we went through the trial, we couldn’t really understand God’s grace upon that pastor and his family, but their testimony prepared us for “our turn!”

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

IT’S GOD! IT’S GOD! IT’S GOD!

If you think you can do it apart from the grace of God… well, all I can say is, “Wow!”

  1. Are you ready to die? This is not a salvation post, but as two different suffering women have been recently placed on our prayer list: a pastor’s wife and a missionary’s wife—BOTH AROUND MY AGE—I was very rebuked for thinking that I was ready to die.  I often told the Lord that I was ready for the battles to be over.  I would glibly say, “Yep!  I’m ready to go!”  Yes, I love my husband, and children, and grandchildren, and mom, and all our family and friends, but I truly felt that if the Lord wanted to take me, I was ready.  But as I’ve prayed for these women and their families, and it has become intercessory prayer—putting myself into their place—I’ve realized that I don’t know what I’m talking about!!!

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge,shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing2 Timothy 4:8

EVEN SO, COME LORD JESUS!

THAT is what I’m ready for—I want Him to return.  I want the battles to be over.  I want all my loved ones to enjoy heaven and the millennium together.  I’m NOT ready to go it alone, BUT if I listen to my own words, I can rest in the fact that if that is His will for my life: that I meet Him in 2016—He will give me the grace to bear it!

I hope that is half the encouragement to you that it had been for me!  Life—it’s worth the living!  Live it for Jesus!

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

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Get up, Bambi—GET UP!

firebambiAh, if you are an expert in “Bambiology,” you will recognize these words as an admonition from Bambi’s father.  Bambi has just been shot while in midair and lands on the other side of the canyon, safe from the hunters but not from the forest fire.  It is imperative that he gets up! Time is of the essence! Such high drama! He is down!  Can he get up?

Are you down? Is fire raging all around you? Has Satan shot you? Or is he poking you with his two-prong pitchfork: discouragement and depression? Let’s learn from Bambi!

  • He was sorely wounded. It would have been easier to just lie there and let the pain win. Have you ever felt that way? What’s the use? Defeat is just around the corner. I GIVE UP!

NO!  We can’t give up!  The cost is too great! When we choose the “low” road, we have no idea what we may lose: our testimony, our children, our homes, our church, a future… but most of all, we may damage the cause of Christ. AND, we sometimes forget that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2:1)  AND… “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)   Although the wounds of the spirit do not bleed, those wounds sap our strength just as much as a flesh wound, perhaps worse! Spirit wounds go to the very core of our being! Remember: “…the joy of the LORD is your strength,” (Nehemiah 8:10) so when you are wounded in the Spirit, Satan is like a blood-thirsty lion ready to devour you!  (1 Peter 5:8) He knows that our strength is intrinsically tied to our joy, so he will work hard to destroy it.

  • Bambi had a helper. His father would not leave him, but urged him to get up.  Now, I know some of you think I’m nuts, but there is a lesson here for us. The father continues to order him to get up, and when Bambi finally gets to his feet, he leans against his father.

What a beautiful picture for the born-again believer! Our heavenly Father is there urging, perhaps even demanding us to get up, because He knows that if we don’t, there will be consequences—and He knows what those consequences are, even when we don’t!

  • Slowly at first, but then gaining strength—perhaps from his father or from the raging fire—Bambi increases his pace; and after a hair-raising run and an incredible jump down the falls (really? Is that even possible?) Bambi leaves his father and joins his true love, Feline. Ahh!

Where will you go for strength? Is there anywhere to go but to God?  Are you trying to run the race on your own strength?  Have you found out yet that your strength will never be enough? Do you need to pick up your speed a bit? Are your enemies—the world, your flesh, and the devil—nipping at your heels?  Remember, your heavenly Father is right there to lean on and to draw strength from.  Whether running because of the fear of a foreboding enemy, or because of our love for God, we can do incredible things in the face of trials.

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”(Psalm 84:11)  What a God we serve!!!

 

Is it your time to run? There are times to  “Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10), and there are times to “run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Hebrew 12:1)  Whether we are still, or running pell-mell, the focus is always in one place: Jesus Christ, who gives us the victory!

But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Corinthians 15:57

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all,

but one receiveth the prize?

So run, that ye may obtain. 1 Corinthians 9:24

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20/20 Vision Faith

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And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us. And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.

 And their eyes were opened …   Matthew 9:27

As I read this passage this morning, my writer’s mind went fast-forward to a possible scenario:

“Wow!  Joe, just look at that ship in the harbor.  Ain’t she a beauty?”

Joe looks down into the harbor and sees the blob which his friend is pointing at.  “Yea, nice.”

“Isn’t that Peter’s old captain?  I wonder if that ship belongs to Peter?”

Joe squints.  “I don’t see anyone.”

Mike looks at him questioningly.  “Right there, in the bow of the ship.”  He waves and the captain waves back.  “See, he’s waving at us.”

Joe looks harder.  “All I see is the ship,” he replies.

Mike looks at him and shakes his head.  “Too bad.”

According to your faith be it unto you.

These are the words which Jesus spoke to the two blind men who followed Him, crying for healing.  They both received sight, and I’m sure that “Joe” was just glad to be able to see anything, but I wonder if there was any difference in the quality of sight they received? And then, I wonder what quality of sight I would have received?  How strong is my faith?  How do we measure our faith?

 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.   Hebrews 11:1

Hebrews 11, the faith chapter, goes on to tell us of the mighty accomplishments of great-faith Bible heroes.  I wonder if they knew they had great faith, or were they just living their lives like we are, under the watchful eye of our Lord, endeavoring to finish the day with a backwards glance over the events and a sigh of spiritual satisfaction?

Here’s a list of those mentions in Hebrews 11 and their faithful accomplishments. Are these accomplishment which we can attain?

  1. Elders –obtained a good report
  2. Abel – more excellent sacrifice/righteous witness
  3. Enoch – translated (raptured)

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (6)

  1. Noah – built an ark, saved his house/heir of righteousness
  2. Abraham – obeyed when called/went/lived in a foreign land/ looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
  3. Sarah – received strength to conceive

 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. (16) GOOD GOAL!

  1. Abraham – offered Isaac/received the promises
  2. Isaac – blessed his children
  3. Jacob – blessed Joseph’s sons/worshiped
  4. Joseph – remembered God’s promises, believed them so much that he commanded them to take his bones with them!
  5. Moses – rejected Egypt’s treasures and prominence, chose to suffer with his people esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt/endured/ kept the Passover/crossed the Red Sea
  6. Jericho fell/Rehab lived
  7. Bible heroes – subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched fire, escaped the sword, were made strong though weak, fought valiantly, women received their dead alive, were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection/mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, tempted, slain, wandered, destitute, afflicted, tormented

And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise (39)

Once again, my dear friend Matthew Henry gives us great words of wisdom:

The world considers that the righteous are not worthy to live in the world, and God declares the world is not worthy of them. Though the righteous and the worldlings widely differ in their judgment, they agree in this, it is not fit that good men should have their rest in this world. Therefore God receives them out of it. The apostle tells the Hebrews, that God had provided some better things for them, therefore they might be sure that he expected as good things from them. As our advantages, with the better things God has provided for us, are so much beyond theirs, so should our

  • obedience of faith,
  • patience of hope, and
  • labor of love,

be greater…

 

So there you have it. They were just normal people like we are, and yet they had faith in their God and ours, to live with the glow of that faith shining their way. Can you “shine” for Jesus today, through sunshine or shadow, through drudgery or delight, sickness and sorrow or health and joy? Will you set 20/20 vision as your goal for this life?

Couch these thoughts in a quote from Corrie Ten Boom:

We don’t need a great faith, but faith in a great Savior!

Some people put their faith in a rock or the stars, but as born-again believers, we have the God of the Universe to focus our faith upon!

And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.

Luke 17:5

 

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This Vapor Called Life

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

James 4:14

God has seen fit to allow us to live by a calendar while we dwell here on earth, and while the old gospel song boasts “no sin in heaven,” we may add to that, with great joy, that there are no clocks or calendars as well! As I sit here on this last day of the year (at 4:19 AM) thinking about another year’s end, I thank God for the opportunity to do so. And even though this year’s end included some difficult struggles, which I will explain further down the road, life is still good and precious in God’s sight.

So, how did you do in 2015? Was it a successful year?  Did you satisfy those goals or fulfill last January’s New Year resolutions?  And how do we measure success anyway?  What exactly are we doing here? That’s a LOT of questions!

Someone once said:

Success is finding the will of God and doing it.

That’s a very simplified statement, but it holds a lot of truth.  As born-again believers, we don’t just wander through this life, or get through another day. Each day has a purpose.  Sometimes, that purpose may seem small and insignificant to the rest of the world, like holding your temper, or helping a child discover something new.  Last night, while reading to my grandson and looking at a picture of a dinosaur skeleton, he discovered that he has bones in his body.  What a joy to see that amazing discovery dawn in his eyes, and then watch him run to tell his mommy! A lot happened yesterday, but that precious moment rises to the top.

I recently finished listening to “A Christmas Home” by Greg Kinkaid, and he makes the statement that a good goal in life is to leave this earth a better place than how you found it. The creators of Precious Moments artwork set forth its mission statement “to make the world a better place by helping others share the gift of love.” Both are great mantras, but as believers we have an even stronger mandate straight from our Creator:

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Revelation 4:11

Living to bring glory to God—what does that look like, and are we able to be successful in doing so? Always remember that God never commands us to do anything which is impossible to do without His help!  But how? I believe the WILDS Christian Camp helps its campers to accomplish that goal by quoting this verse before every meal:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

When we THINK about our Heavenly Father before our feet hit the floor, and then continue to THINK about Him, realizing He is a “very present help” (Psalm 46:1), soon we will not be THINKING about Him at all—we will be LIVING under “under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1) He is there, receiving glory through the life that honors Him in word and deed, action and reaction, motive and purpose. Instead of spiraling out of control, our lives slowly follow the path upward, becoming more like the Master! Sound too simplistic in a world whose catch-phrase is “It’s complicated?” Taking the “upward path” is a great way to uncomplicate life!

1138_10208704178708829_5698406446686963647_nTomorrow starts a new year.  Tomorrow also starts the second week of our newest grandson’s life: our Christmas baby! He has already given those he loves many precious moments of joy and laughter, delight and thrill.  But I’m sure there have also been pain, trying moments, difficult situations, and general frustration.  And so goes the tapestry of life! Weave well, my friend, in 2016—no matter the shade of the threads handed to you from God!

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Psalm 90: 12