Seriously? A Big Bang?

partial-solar-eclipse-cloudsAfter watching the 80% partial solar eclipse in our area, I stand in total amazement at the awesomeness of our almighty Creator. His amazing exactness continues to overwhelm me! For example:

  • First of all, the earth is the exact distance from the sun to keep us from being cooked or freezing.
  • The moon is the exact distance from us or just the right size—take your pick—so that it covers the sun perfectly in a solar eclipse.
  • The moon’s axis rotation matches its orbital path around us so that we always see the same side of the moon. (It would be like one person circling another person while always facing him.)

It’s beyond my imagination to understand how anyone could believe that a Big Bang could be that smart?

What an awesome God we serve! He certainly displayed His Majesty today!

“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

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Do I Love My Mother?

Lovely-Happy-Mother-Day-2016-Wallpapers-PicturesThis is really a challenge to mothers. I’m listening to Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the main character just confessed to a friend that she doesn’t like her mother, never did. The following is an excerpt from the book:

 

“Why,”—she [Valency] had a desperate desire that Barney should know the worst about her–“I didn’t even love my mother. Isn’t it awful that I don’t love my mother?”

“Rather awful–for her,” said Barney drily.

The statement made me stop and think. Why was it awful for her mother?

Children come into this world with no bias, no presuppositions, no prejudices. They will become what God plans for their lives, and we have the opportunity to mold them. As believers, we desperately want our children to love God and desire to keep His commandments, so we take them to Sunday School and church.  We read the Bible to them, and most importantly, we live godly lives before them.

My husband and I have three grown and married children. All of them have this mindset, and yet they worry that their children will not embrace their beliefs. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I tell them that THEIR HEART’S LOVE AND PASSION FOR THE LORD is making all the difference.  Are my grandchildren perfect? Of course. J No, they are all little sinners, but to hear them talk about God already at a young age, and see their faithfulness to church warms my heart and gives me hope. It’s a reflection of what is happening in the home!

Will a child hate a sweet, godly, submissive, gentle, kind, caring mother? Most likely, no. Even in the trials of teen years, the stage will have been set for a loving relationship: communication is normal, reasoning is biblical, decisions are made together with the parents. There is little room for hatred.

In the book, Blue Castle, the reader can clearly understand Valancy’s dislike. Moms, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror and see what our children are seeing? Better yet, can we be honest enough to look in the mirror of the Bible and see what God sees?

Wanda!  This is not very encouraging for Mother’s Day! Oh, my friend, but it is! You can’t do this apart from the Holy Spirit’s help, coupled with a desire to change! I know a mother’s heart. What is most pressing on a mother’s heart? Hopefully, it is to please her Lord and Savior, but the close second is to raise her children right! Will you be willing to change to become a better mom? It isn’t easy! It hurts! It can be a lonely place until we get serious about the issues that are making it difficult for our children to like us.  They will always love us, but do they like us? Oh, the blessings will abound when we are willing to become more Christ-like!

Little by little, inch by inch.

By the yard it’s hard, by the inch it’s a cinch.

Never stare up the stairs, just step up the steps.

Little by little, inch by inch.

~ Ron Hamilton

 

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Prisoners of War

In every war, whether here or abroad, one tragedy is universal to every battle: prisoners of war.  In each conflict, soldiers are taken, no longer in the fight, but brought to a prison where they are kept indefinitely – sometimes detained long after the war is over.  Some are treated harshly, other follow the Geneva rules of conduct in battles; but no matter the treatment, all are held against their will and are no longer fighting for the cause for which they had signed up.

The Christian’s life is as well a battle – indeed, it is the battle of the ages!  Daily, we fight a real enemy that never seems to tire.  His weapons vary, the battlefields are vast.  At times, he wins the battle, but unlike any other war, we know that he WILL be defeated!  That thought gives us the courage we need to stay in the battle.

Unfortunately, as in any other war, there are prisoners of war: those taken in the fight and held captive.  They are good soldiers.  They handled their weapon, the Bible, well.  They even had several victories, but then it happened.  The enemy closed in, our Weapon is laid aside, we run on our own strength, and we are taken – captive by our Enemy!  He holds us in his cell of despondency or unbelief.  He daily feeds us lies and shackles us with deception.  The light is dim; we cannot see.  We slump and hang our heads, defeated, discouraged and dangerously close to losing sight of the cause for which we signed up.

In a physical prison, with walls and bars and locked doors, some prisoners are able to escape the clutches of the enemy through inventive devices or well thought out plans.  As the prisoner escapes, his heart is in his throat, knowing that at any time he may be spotted and taken back.  The joy and relief are unspeakable as he crosses over into his home territory, back to the safety of the army he loves!

Unlike a physically bound prisoner of war, we have a secret weapon that will release us from the enemy’s prison.  With one simple choice of the will, the prison walls are broken down, the chains of bondage are loosed and we are free to go.  The ward of our cell can only watch as we boldly break through the doors of bondage and walk confidently into freedom.  He cannot sneer at the look of anger in our captain’s face because we took so long to choose – it is not there. All he sees is the look of unspeakable love – something he has never nor ever will see on the face of his leader!

Dear soldier, I write to you as a fellow soldier.  I plead with you to make the choice and break through the walls that Satan has built around you – walls that only you can destroy, through faith in our Captain – because of your love for our Captain.  Please look to our Savior and see Him waiting there!  Choose well, my comrade!  

 

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life;

that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier

2 Timothy 2:3,4

 

Remember when…

sch-supp3-Rockwell3.jpgDreams are strange things.  It’s amazing to think that some people allow them to guide their lives! But recently a dream made me stop and think about how much life has changed. I don’t believe any generation has seen as much change as those born between the late 1800s and early 1900s. My grandparents went from a childhood with no electricity, indoor plumbing, or automobiles, to watching a man land on the moon!  That’s pretty drastic! With the risk of sounding like an old geezer…

 

Do you remember…

  • Waiting for Saturday morning to watch cartoons,
  • When the Wonderful World of Disney seemed so impossibly far away,
  • Cigarette commercials,
  • When you ran to the refrigerator during commercials, (maybe you still do that! We only watch Netflix!),
  • Dad popping popcorn on the stovetop,
  • Mom heating up leftovers on the stovetop,
  • Mom bringing in the clothes, stiff as a board because they froze instead of drying, then stringing a line in the house to dry them because she had no dryer,
  • Mom sprinkling the clothes with water before she ironed them after she took them off the line to dry,
  • Eating a MacDonald’s hamburger for the first time at this new thing called a “fast food restaurant,”
  • Sitting at the A&W Drive-in with the tray hooked to the window,
  • Sitting in the car at the Drive-in theater in your pajamas with the speaker hooked to the window,
  • Waiting for a letter from a loved one far away,
  • Sending your film off to Clark to get it developed (and throwing half of the photos away!)
  • Waiting until the weekend or after nine o’clock to call because rates were cheaper,
  • Trying to talk to your sweetheart in the kitchen while everyone else “lived” because it was the only place in the house with a phone,
  • Party lines (for those of you who don’t: several different rings would come across your phone and if you happened to have someone on your line who wasn’t home a lot, you had to put up with their ring ringing incessantly, as well as the nosey neighbor who would pick up and listen to your conversation!)
  • Rotary dialing,
  • Telephone operators,
  • Sears Christmas catalog,
  • Chalkboards, the purple ink of a mimeograph machine, and eating your lunch in your classroom because there was no cafeteria, or gym, or auditorium. (I went to a very small elementary school where we walked to the kitchen to get our lunch and the first-grade room had a stage.)
  • The merry-go-round on the school playground,
  • Playing “King of the Mountain” on the huge pile of plowed snow at the end of the playground,
  • Lunchboxes,
  • Book bags,
  • Typing a paper on a typewriter and using the little white sheets of correction paper,
  • Looking up information in an encyclopedia,
  • The ponies at Knobels. (Sorry, had to throw that one in even though it’s a local memory!).

I could go on and on. Times have changed—some for the better, some for the worse—but it’s good to stop and remember. It’s been a good exercise listing all the changes, walking down memory lane, perhaps a little bittersweet and certainly full of a myriad of emotions. Doing so can sharpen our outlook on the day and cut away some of what we think is so important but is as changing as the next model of cell phones! Carpe Deum—seize the day! We only have the promise of the moment. That thought will either drive you into a frenzy of “make-me-happy” activities or, hopefully, cause you to stop and consider the importance of making this day count for Jesus Christ. That translates differently for each of us, but may you find your task—the one Jesus has prepared for YOU to do—and do it! Simple. Well, maybe not, but definitely doable! One far, far greater ended his quest for understanding with this:

  Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecclesiastes 12:13

That works!

Preparing our children… for what?

What parent does not want to prepare their children for a bright and hopeful future? Sadly, there are those who are more consumed with meeting their own pleasures than preparing or even providing for their offspring, but I would tend to believe that most of my readers fall into the first category!

As I was reading Acts 21-22 this morning and then turning to my friend, Matthew Henry for his wonderful insights, several thoughts came to mind—one more than any:

“Every experience GOD gives us, every person HE puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” Corrie ten Boom

Acts is an exciting book of the Bible. It is a great book to study: learning where all the cities are which Paul visited, linking people and places together, understanding the related vicinities of towns and churches which were being established. All give a better understanding of Paul’s letters.

In Acts 21, he has returned to Jerusalem after his second missionary journey. (He made three such journeys before ending up in Rome.) There’s been some conflict with the Jewish believers concerning his teaching of the Gentiles, and he is now in Jerusalem to straighten things out. He has just been in the temple, completing a purification ritual with four other men, when some of the Jews from Asia spot him and stir up the crowd, to the point that Roman soldiers intervene and rescue Paul from probable death.

While extracting Paul from the mob and hauling him off to the garrison, Paul tells this centurion that he is a Roman. The soldier’s entire attitude changes. Instead of looking at Paul as a rabble rouser, he now looks at him as an equal; and when Paul tells him that he did not obtain Roman citizenship by purchasing it but is Roman born, the man’s respect is even greater.

Matthew Henry says this:

Some think he became entitled to this freedom by the place of his birth, as a native of Tarsus, a city privileged by the emperor with the same privileges that Rome itself enjoyed; others rather think it was by his father or grandfather having served in the war between Caesar and Antony, or some other of the civil wars of Rome, and being for some signal piece of service rewarded with a freedom of the city, and so Paul came to be free-born.

 

We don’t really know what Paul’s circumstances were which made him a Roman citizen, but could it be that a father or grandfather had forethought, knowing the great privileges of Roman citizenship, and made a point to serve in a war so that his children or grandchildren would have that privilege? Did Paul’s predecessor know that his son or grandson would be a great warrior for Jesus Christ and need that protection on more than one occasion? Probably not, but if the above scenario is true, that parent unknowingly was used by God to prepare His messenger!

It could also be that Paul’s patriarch was just doing the right thing1

“Every experience GOD gives us, Every person HE puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” Corrie ten Boom

How are you preparing your child to be successful? Where do you think he/she will need to be successful—in what area of his/her life?

Do you wonder what the benefit is for running a child to every sport practice, every dance lesson, and every social group?  All of these activities are fun and have developmental benefits, but will they prepare that child for a future that only God sees, especially when it interferes with biblical training?

The following is a quote from All the Gallant Men by Donald Stratton who was stationed on the battleship Arizona and is one of the few living survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. “We were ordinary men. What was extraordinary was the country we loved.”

That ‘Greatest Generation’ had something that we’ve lost in America: a strong spiritual foundation and direction. We have moved from a society where nearly everyone went to church to a generation which thinks that church doesn’t matter.  There’s a strange thing about church attendance. While it is true that attendance can be ritualistic and actually harmful when thought of as a merit for salvation, it seems impossible for a family to be truly on-fire for God while not attending church regularly. Why?

BECAUSE WHEN A FAMILY IS PLUGGED INTO GOD’S WORD AT HOME, THE SUPERNATURAL OUTCOME IS A DESIRE TO BE WITH GOD’S PEOPLE IN GOD’S HOUSE.

Only God knows the future our children will have to face, but the future doesn’t really matter. When we are consumed with giving our children all they can get concerning God and His Word, they will be prepared to face whatever their future holds!

For I know him, that he will command his children and hishousehold after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. Genesis 18:19

Did You Get What You Paid For?

We’ve all done it–saved a few dollars only to find that the product wasn’t what we really wanted. The boots were a great buy, but the first time you wore them in rainy weather your feet got wet! Disappointment and frustration come on the scene, and we’re angry with ourselves for being a penny wise and a pound foolish, and angry with the company for a faulty product albeit an excellent sales pitch!

And what about religion? Do we get what we expected, or are we disappointed with some aspect of our “religion?” I hesitate to use the word “religion” because it can mean so many things. Merriam-Webster defines it as (1) the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2)  commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance.

Service, worship, commitment, devotion–each word requires action on our part, and yet they can also involve others: a pastor, song leader or worship team, a building, other believers. We need to stop and ask ourselves whether our disappointments and frustrations are because of others or ourselves. For example:

You battle with your kids all morning to get them to church, and then you sit in the car waiting for hubby to get himself ready. By the time the car is moving, tempers are hot, kids are cranky, and somewhere along the way, the Spirit of God has been doused by the caustic atmosphere. You get there late–no parking! You rush the kids to their classes, receiving a look from their teachers which you read as, “Can’t you get here on time?” When you finally get to your class, you don’t hear a thing and wonder why the pastor/teacher can’t be more effective.

Is the problem with your kids, hubby, teacher, pastor…or you? We recently watched a program about Queen Elizabeth II. In one episode, her sister, Princess Margaret, was told that parliament would not approve her plans to marry a divorced man. As queen, her sister also presided over the Church of England and needed to make a choice: would she uphold the doctrine of the church or sanction the marriage. 

Princess Margaret was faced with a choice: lose title and country by marrying the man she loved or step away from the relationship. She chose the latter and did eventually marry, but that marriage ended in divorce.

This is not a condemnation of Princess Margaret.  The circumstances surrounding her life are only known completely by her. But to blame her sister, or her uncle for abdicating–forcing her father to be king, or the common people for their sympathies, or Peter Townsend for being so friendly… it only hardens the heart; and there is just one root that enjoys the dusty soil of a hardened heart–the root of bitterness. It grows unseen by the owner of the hard heart and may stay dormant for years, secretly growing beneath the surface, but its fruit will show eventually. Sadly, the Princess’ life was full is heartache, sickness, and sin.

When we are quick to blame others, we are in danger making Romans 6:12 a reality in our lives.”Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” We can blame others, but there is no remedy for a hard heart there.

Back to our “religious” disappointment. Check why the disappointment is there. It may be legitimate.  You may have a pastor who doesn’t preach the Word. It could be that your church carries false doctrine on the books. You may have a program that is business-oriented instead of Christ-oriented. If so, then ask the Lord for His leading. But if the problem is within your own heart, there’s only one way to fix that! Surrender to God’s Word.

John 10:27 says, “For my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

We have a wonderful Shepherd! Not all religions can say that! They demand so much and offer only lies! Our Shepherd KNOWS us. But this verse also sheds light on our part: Do we hear His voice? Going back to our late-to-church scenario, the question or challenge is: Can you lay aside all the frustration of a morning gone wild and surrender to the message from the less-than-perfect preacher? Can you put aside the cares and worries of the day and spend time alone with God… “my sheep hear my voice.”

And then there’s another admonition: “and they follow me.” Listening is never enough. Following is the key to routing out bitterness or whatever we are harboring which will hinder the work of the Holy Spirit.  As Martin Luther said, “Keep a short account with God!”

You get what you pay for.  Thankfully, we pay nothing for our salvation!  It’s been paid in full, and it is a perfect salvation offered by a perfect Savior.  His church is not perfect, but we can make our part as spot-free as is humanly possible! Then the question becomes, “Did Jesus get what He paid for?”

 

Tracks in the Snow

Pepper, our eleven-year-old black Cocker Spaniel is my walking partner. In any other season, she is also my protector. It’s a comfort to have her along as I walk back our country road when bears are lurking about. I’m not sure how I think she would protect me, but it’s a mental mirage that I have.1214160820

Recently, we had a beautiful, fluffy snowfall and I knew we needed to walk. The morning was picture perfect: blue sky, nip in the air, and chilly temperature. The snow was clinging to every branch and weed. This one was really doing its part!

When we reached the end of our road, storm clouds were gathering in the west, but the sun was still shining in the eastern dawn. The effect was stunning:1214160821c

It’s such a peaceful spot, and I couldn’t help put praise God for the beauty of His creation and His loving kindness in allowing me to be here.

On our way home, I happened to notice our tracks. I’ve noticed this before as Pepper tugs at her leash, nose to the ground, dashing to and fro!

 

1214160822We leave two very different sets of tracks. While on our walks, mine are the straight and steady ones. Hers zigzag back and forth across the road! But I have to wonder if my “life” tracks are more like hers as I zigzag back and forth on little rabbit trails of life. I can so easily be sidetracked off of God’s purpose for my life! Does my heavenly Father look down and wonder at my trail? As I tug against the restraints that He has graciously put upon my life—safeguards against disaster—does He tire of my tugs? No, never. What an amazing, loving God we serve! His patience is incomprehensible!

One of my goals for 2017 is to “keep in the middle of the road.” Our church men sing this African-American Spiritual every so often. Its message is clear—as clear as tracks in the snow!1214160823

Children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right
Don’t you look to the left
Just keep in the middle of the road.

I hear those angels a calling loud
Keep in the middle of the road
They’s a standin’ there in a great big crowd
Keep in the middle of the road.

Chorus:
Then children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right
Don’t you look to the left
Just keep in the middle of the road
In the middle of the road
In the middle of the road.

I can see them standing around a big white gate
We must travel along before it gets too late
For it ain’t no use for to sit down and wait
Just keep in the middle of the road.

I ain’t got time for to stop and talk
Keep in the middle of the road
‘Cause the road is long and it’s hard for to walk
Keep in the middle of the road.

I’ll fix my eye on the golden stair
And I’ll keep on a goin’ till I get there
Cause my head am bound that crown for to wear
Just keep in the middle of the road.

When your feet get tired and your song don’t sing
Don’t look at the world full of sinful things
Don’t lay down in the road for to die
Put on your wings and get up and fly.

 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13,14