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My superhero

55407d754bd0ca45bd8fc499d37f2aefHe may not leap from the tallest buildings or wear spandex and a cape, but he is MY superhero! He spends his days battling enemies on every front, from without and within, and never complains. At times, I believe if I could see them, I’d see a whole host of demonic beasties flapping and snarling at his heels.

But never mind, he faithfully studies the Word and serves a banquet of fresh, sweet manna every Sunday to the few who choose to take the time to come to God’s house. The crowd may wax and wane, but it never affects his dedication, because he is answering to the high calling of Jesus Christ.

His broad shoulders carry the burdens of others with compassion and prayer. Oh, the sweet, sweet sound of hearing him talk with his heavenly Father, weeping over his little flock—it brings tears to my eyes every time I tiptoe by his office door and hear that lovely sound!

But for me, the most wonderful attribute about my superhero, which makes him greater than the hulkiest of the bunch, is his humble, teachable heart. It’s what first drew me to him, and what continues to affect my life. His patience with me, as I try to become more like our Savior, challenges me to get the lead out and get busy hacking off those nasty, ungodly traits which shatter the precious, heavenly atmosphere of our home. He’s changing, and it makes me want to change too.  After all, who doesn’t want to be like her superhero?🙂

Last weekend, we watched two of our grandsons. I love them dearly, but I wouldn’t have survived if it hadn’t been for my superhero. He played, and bathed, and walked, and talked with them (and flew a kite, which was captured for Facebook).  He made them laugh and was just plain silly, which is a wonderful, albeit unusual, trait for a superhero. He read to them, and while I was caring for them (I mostly just sat around eating bonbons) or was busy making a meal, he was quietly picking up or throwing in a load of laundry because that’s what he does!

My superhero.  Right now, (it’s four A.M.) he’s sleeping. His weary body, especially those broken parts which remind him that a storm is coming, is resting for another couple hours. Then he’ll rise once more, chipper and ready to face another day’s host of villains: the world, the flesh, and the devil! We’ll face them together, and then they won’t seem quite so impossible. Discouragement flees, but that one usually takes both of us to battle. Criticism is reflected off the shield of faith. Worries fly with a flick of the Sword. It’s really a wonderful life, living with a superhero! I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians  3:14

twin-towers

Do We Remember?

twin-towers“The iconic twin towers of downtown Manhattan’s World Trade Center were a triumph of human imagination and will. Completed in 1973, the towers stood at 110 stories each, accommodating 50,000 workers and 200,000 daily visitors in 10 million square feet of space. They were the hub of the bustling Financial District, a top tourist attraction and a symbol of New York City’s–and America’s–steadfast devotion to progress and the future. On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center became the target of a massive terrorist attack that took the lives of nearly 3,000 people. The disaster also radically altered the skyline of New York City, destroying the twin columns of glass and steel that over the years had come to embody the city itself.

“The impact of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, was more devastating than any of the building’s designers and engineers had ever imagined. The first plane ripped a hole in the north tower from the 94th to the 98th floors, causing massive structural damage and igniting some 3,000 of the 10,000 gallons of jet fuel the plane was carrying. The second plane hit the south tower at an even faster speed, striking the corner and gashing the building from the 84th to the 78th floors.

“The heroic efforts of the city’s fire and police departments and other emergency services helped 25,000 people escape from the site before the unthinkable occurred. September 11, 2001, was the deadliest day in history for New York City firefighters: 343 were killed. The damage done at each point of impact forced the physical weight of the towers to be redistributed, and the undamaged part below the hole had to support the floors above. At the same time, the fires raging in both buildings weakened the steel trusses holding up each floor. With damage to a greater number of floors lower down on the building, the south tower gave way first, crumbling to the ground at 9:59 a.m., only 56 minutes after being hit. The north tower collapsed less than a The impact of the two planes that hit the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, was more devastating than any of the building’s designers and engineers had ever imagined. The first plane ripped a hole in the north tower from the 94th to the 98th floors, causing massive structural damage and igniting some 3,000 of the 10,000 gallons of jet fuel the plane was carrying. The second plane hit the south tower at an even faster speed, striking the corner and gashing the building from the 84th to the 78th floors.

“Debris from the falling towers ignited fires in the remaining buildings of the trade center complex, including 7 World Trade, which burned for most of the day before collapsing at 5:20 p.m. Overwhelmed by horror, shock and grief, New Yorkers and people around the world trained their eyes on “Ground Zero,” where the fall of a treasured icon of American industry and ingenuity had left a gaping hole in the sky.”

http://www.history.com/topics/world-trade-center

Do we remember?  Will we forget?
Fifteen years; five thousand, four hundred seventy-nine days;
and yet it seems like yesterday.

We remember where we stood when we heard the unbelievable.
We remember the shock, the horror of watching those towers crash
over and over again.

We remember the utter helplessness and unbelief,
hearing it in the most seasoned news reporters’ voices.
“Our world will never be the same,” they said.
We didn’t understand it, but they were right.

And the message is ever the same. Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses, and he said:
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
Their generation is done, their days passed in a moment,
but God alone is still our safe haven,
and with their passing, we remember that a thousand years in thy sight
are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
(4)

We spend our years as a tale that is told, (9)
and we realize that only God knows when the last chapter will be completed.
Oh, that we would live this life, remembering those whose lives were cut short!
Not in sorrow, but in reverence and thankfulness
for the lessons their tragedy can teach us.

The days of our years are threescore years and ten;
and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years,
yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off,
and we fly away.
(10)

So teach us to number our days,
that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
(12)
Number each one! Every hour, every moment—for them,
for all who are taken because a brother was cast out, and the other was blessed,
but most of all, for the One who was cast out and crucified!

We did not ask for this lesson,
but it was forced upon us.
It is our responsibility to stop and remember and learn.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls
. (Mt 11:29)

Lives are changed when they are touched by tragedy, and the greatest tragedy of all times is that the perfect Lamb of God died for my sin–tradedy turned to victory!

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Success!

Well, for the first time ever, we have grown cantaloupes—just had one tonight for dessert, and it was delicious! I’ve tried before, but they never completely ripened before our sunshine and warm weather gave way to fall. I love living on top of a mountain, but it cuts our growing season by two weeks.  So, what made the difference?

Putting paper down. I had a 4×8 foot sheet of the black stuff left from planting our roses, so I put it in the garden and covered it with straw.  As the vines grew, I added newspaper and stretched out the straw. (The straw was really just for pretty!) I guess it worked because we now have fifteen cantaloupes! Yum! Can I find a spiritual application?  Need you ask?    cantaloupe

  1. Find what works

We have cooler temperatures, about an average of five degrees, than the surrounding lower altitudes; so covering their little roots made all the difference. It retained the moisture and the heat. How is your spiritual growth progressing? Are you faithfully spending time alone with God? Perhaps you have always done your devotions in the morning, but now that is not possible.  Have you always read through the Bible every year?  Perhaps it’s time for a change.  Something that has really helped me is to read through the Bible every other year, and then have a different plan for the alternating year.  For 2016, I’m studying the Gospels using commentaries and the Amplified Study Bible. Just seeing different words has really been helpful. The Bible contains everything we need to live a successful Christian life. Sometimes we just need to dig in and find what works!

  1. Know your situation/circumstances

Everyone is different.  We try to make the Christian walk a one-size-fits-all.  God has placed you into your circumstances and given you your set of difficulties and challenges, as well as blessings, to teach you something. The fifty-year-old woman is facing a totally different set of issues than the thirty-year-old new mom. How wonderful that we can all go to the same Source for strength and wisdom, as well as help each other.  That’s why we have this thing called church!  It’s a place where we can help each other along the way. We can read the same passage, hear the same sermon and each come away completely refreshed, challenged, and blessed because God’s Word is all-powerful! This is NOT situational ethics, but it is applying God’s Word to your situation which may be very different from mine.

  1. Be faithful!

I’ve been tempted to plant grass next year in my garden! It’s so much work and, at times, produces little fruit.  But then the Lord sends a bumper crop of cantaloupes!  Isn’t the same thing true in our Christian race?  At times, it seems all uphill with no end in sight! We’re tired, discouraged, lonely, depressed, frustrated, confused, and just plain worn out! Don’t give up!  Ask God for a little “shower of blessing.” He is SO faithful and He has given us countless promises to claim. Just when we think the race is not worth it, He does something extraordinary. Perhaps it’s just a smile from a stranger, but it’s all we need because we know Who sent it!

 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

 Success to the end. King Ahab is not known for many good things, but this statement is always a challenge to me. When a neighboring king was threatening to annihilate Samaria, this was his response:

 Tell him, Let not him that girdeth on his harness boast himself as he that putteth it off.

1 Kings 20:11

And don’t forget those famous, encouraging words from our little, blue friend:

Keep on swimming!

Mrs. Fix-it Strikes Again!

IMG_7933-001I recently bought a remote-controlled truck for my three-year-old grandson. It was second-hand, but the woman assured me that it worked. So, we took it home, put batteries in it and, voila, the motor ignited. Hooray! However, our enthusiasm was short-lived, because when the wheels hit the floor, it stopped.

As I’ve mentioned before, I love to fix things, especially toys!  So, Grandma took it home, tore it apart, and found the problem. Only a small problem—in fact, it was smaller than 1/16th of an inch; however, that tiny broken-off piece of plastic was necessary to hold the rod which held the gear that rested between the wheel gear and the motor gear.

So small, yet so vital. It made me wonder what little chink in my armor is causing me to malfunction! What tiny sin, if we can classify sin into sizes (and we do!), is shutting down the connection from my Savior to my heart? The problem was not with the motor.  If it had been, that would have been out of my range of fixing-skills!

There is nothing wrong with our “power source.” As born-again believers, we are charged with all the power we need to live holy, righteous lives—to “walk worthy” of the life God has called each of us to live. (Ephesians 4:1) So, are we living successful Christian lives or is something broken?

It was just a little piece of plastic, certainly not the most valuable part of the car. And why did it break? That little prong worked with its counterpart to hold the gear in place.  It probably received more stress and pressure than any other part of the car. (So why wasn’t it made out of metal! Because they don’t want these things to last forever!)

Where are you receiving the most pressure? That is the place where you need reinforcement! When we are heading into a situation where we know it will be difficult to act and react in a way that will glorify our Savior, reinforce yourself with the Word of God and prayer! And…

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Ephesians 6:16

The shield is the only moveable part of our armor. Thankfully, we can wield into position and aim it towards the incoming fiery darts. Satan also knows where the chinks are in our armor and he’s a dead-shot! He knows our weak spots and bombards them with his fiery darts, but…

Jesus knows our every weakness,

Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Oh, what a Friend we have in Jesus! Even though we are frail—so easily broken, Jesus is our strength and shield! AND, He can fix ANYTHING!! Unlike a toy manufacturer who is trying to produce the most sellable, profitable toy, our Father created us with every flaw in place, exactly where He wants them to be, for HIS glory! Wow! What a thought! Our flaws can bring glory to God when we lay them at Jesus’ feet and allow Him to use them for His glory!

The truck is once again on my desk, waiting for the glue to dry. I’m not sure why I’m fixing it because I already bought a brand-new red remote-control car for nearly the same price! (Thank you, Wal-Mart!) I think I just need to fix things! And therein lies yet another lesson: fix what YOU can, but then give the rest to God!

Chance of Showers

storm-clouds-above-the-field-grass-sky-nature-1920x1200-wallpaper360974With the internet down for the past three days (ah, country living!) I’ve come to realize just how much I depend on the crazy thing! Is it going to rain, or will these clouds move out? Wow! It’s given me an appreciation for farmers who lived before any broadcasting system! So, should I hang the sheets out to dry or not? You may wonder, “Why take the chance?” If you’ve never slept on sheets hung out to dry in the fresh summer air, then you wouldn’t understand! The sheets come off the line crisp and smelling like fresh air. But should I risk it?

This relatively minor quandary reminds me of the dilemma we face when giving someone the Gospel. Should I risk offending them, or having them belittle me? Will they become angry and reject the message? We don’t know; and unlike so many ads that we hear today, there are no guarantees.  Jesus only said, “Go!” But wait! That’s not true.  He also said this:

…and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:20

He promises to go with us, even if it’s just across the street! What a comfort to know that He is with us in every situation, especially when we are sharing the Gospel. He will help us to know what to say and what NOT to say, when to speak and when to be quiet. We are not responsible for the results because we cannot do the “saving.” That’s the work of the Lord. We’re only responsible for going because it is a command of God.

I remember hearing the story about a man who witnessed to a person whom he had been praying for for a long time.  The man slammed the door in his face, and the ‘Gospel-giver’ went to his car, sat there a moment, and began to weep for the other man’s soul. He prayed and felt that the Lord wanted him to try again, and when he returned to the door, the man let him in and trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior. That’s an example of a man who never even looks at the forecast! Praise the Lord.  There is truly no greater joy than having the privilege to lead someone to Christ—it’s better than sheets fresh off the line!

Chance of showers? Well, since it’s been a few hours since I started this post, I can tell you that it did rain, but not until I got the sheets off the line!

 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.Proverbs 11:30

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Just a Taste

chocolate-meio-amargo-alfarroba-melhor-opcao-para-dieta-58878As I face another good-bye, I’m working HARD to keep focused! Our youngest son and his little family have been here for a week now. The Lord has blessed us with perfect weather and wonderful opportunities to pack in the memories! Now, it’s time to get back to “normal.”

Normal—what does that look like? Well, for me, it means one son and his family living 1,292miles away, this son and his family 674 miles living away, and our daughter and her family just down the road eleven miles. Up until March, our oldest son was just twenty miles down the road. We’re a close-knit family. We love to be together. One of my favorite family activities is singing together. We’ve ministered together, and for years that was “normal.” But it’s not normal now, and I’m still struggling to adjust to my new normal. How can I do that?

O taste and see…

I’ve “tasted” that sweet manna of my family all around me, so how do I settle for less? How do I settle for flavored chocolate when I’ve eaten Ghirardelli’s?

Little by little, the pieces fall into place, and I’ve come to realize that part of the healing process in any situation is understanding the pain. Why am I struggling so? Why can’t I just get over this? Why can’t I just be happy with where I am in life? Do you find yourself asking those questions? Well, I have the answers! NOT! But… I do know Someone who does, and He has taught me a few things:

  1. Get the labels right. This new normal is not less perfect than the old normal because it is God’s normal for me! How can a spouse endure the loss of a lifetime best friend unless he or she embraces this thought? How does a person endure a career change when he has lost his dream job? How does a mom deal with an injury that leaves her healthy child crippled? How can we cope when a teen chooses to stray down a deadly path?

O taste and see that the LORD is good…

In Psalm 34, David tells us to “taste and see” that the Lord is good! David wrote this psalm while he was running from Saul. He ran to Gaza, a major city of Israel’s enemies, the Philistines, and ended up feigning madness to escape. Great circumstances, don’t you think? He had enjoyed great success, but now he was a hunted man, and yet he gives us so many nuggets of true faith in this psalm.

  1. Live in the moment. That might sound like worldly advice but it is good advice. When we live in the past or live for the future, we miss today! Another way to put it, which is not original to me, is “keep your mind where your body is.”

Later, when David longed for the waters of Bethlehem, three of his valiant men risked their lives by breaking through the Philistine battle lines in order to grant his request. Longing for the past or hoping for the future can be deadly! At the very least, it makes us miserable today. It can also bring on depression and bitterness—two of Satan’s sharpest and deadliest weapons!

  1. Trust, trust, trust! Do I really believe that God knows best or are they just words?

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. Psalm 34:8

Spurgeon writes this:

“No one knows how sweet honey is till he tastes it, and even so the sweetness of true religion cannot be learned by mere hearing, we must try it for ourselves.  O Lord, help all in this family to prove the power of faith in Jesus, and the efficacy [effectiveness] of prayer to God for themselves.”quote

Trials will taste bitter unless we look past them to the One
who holds the spoon! Then we
see the love in His eyes, and His look sweetens the bitterest pill. We hear the love in His gentle voice, and we know that it is good because He only does what is best. We are blessed because we trust Him!

The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing. (v. 10)

Again, Spurgeon writes:

“Lions are strong, fierce, and crafty, yet they hunger; men of the world are also very cunning and full of self-confidence, yet they are not satisfied.  But humble believers, though often weak, and in the world’s judgment, very foolish, are yet blessed with every needful blessing by their gracious God.”

Can you be a humble believer? Can you yield to whatever God puts in your path?  That’s the question that I ask myself, and I’m afraid to say, “no!” More than that, I don’t WANT to say, “no” because…

The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

AND…

The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (16-18)

One last note from Spurgeon, who fought what was called “causeless depression” most of his life:

“What a blessing to have a tender sense of sin.  We have heard of persons dying of a broken heart, but if repentance breaks our hearts we shall live eternally.”

When the Foundations Are Destroyed

Just passing on a blessing from “Days of Praise.”

“If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3)

The word here for “foundations” is not the usual word for, say, a building foundation. Used rarely, a better translation of this word would be “purpose,” or “basis.” The fear expressed is not that the foundations of our faith might be undermined but that we might lose our sense of purpose.

In the context of the psalm, David was in danger of becoming demoralized by the pressures of wicked desires and evil ambitions all around him, and Christians surely have the same problem today. Why shouldquote we try to maintain high standards of doctrinal integrity and moral purity when the people around us—even most Christians—seem to be occupied mostly with materialistic ambition and pursuit of pleasure? If we allow the devil to undermine the very purposes God has for our lives, wandering away from His will in favor of some temporal interest, then why even continue with a pretense of Christian living?

David’s solution was simply to remind himself that “the LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’s throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men” (v. 4). He may allow the righteous to be tried for a season, but we must not forget that “the righteous LORD loveth righteousness” (v. 7) and that “the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth” (v. 5).

When we are tempted to wonder whether it is really worth all the effort, and when our very foundation and purpose for living seems to be crumbling, we should remember that our God is Creator, Sustainer, and Judge of all—that He still is on His throne, and that we who belong to Him have been “predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). HMM