Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas, 2011 - Poem

My Gram (my Mom's Mom) used to write a Christmas poem and read it to us on Christmas Eve.  In a tribute to her, I decided to write on for my family this year.  I'd like to share it with you.


Christmas is upon us once again.
It almost feels like I’m taking it on the chin.

So many changes occurred this past year
Causes me to stop and shed a tear.

But tears can be good – they heal and cleanse
They help me look at life thru a different lens.

In December, 2010 my sweet Gram went to be with Him
Her first Christmas in heaven not a light was dim

I’m sure it was glorious to kneel at Christ’s feet
Better than the best Christmas treat!

The day after Easter 2011
My dear Mom & Dad were carried to heaven

Oh, what a celebration there must have been
But here on earth, the drenching rains caused quite a din.

Yes, I am sad for the way the were killed
But I know it was what God willed.

Just one day before they laid hands and prayed for Stacie, Kris, and me
That we would follow God’s will, that we would see

What wonderful things God had in store
They prayed, His love on us would pour.

The day before that we were all together
At Sarah and Tory’s we did gather

And heard the news that they were expecting a boy,
Little Jayden Troy, who would bring us such joy!

In September he was born on his very own day
He came into this world his very own way.

Stacie, too was with child once again – this time a girl
Our hearts and minds were awhirl!

Two new grandbabies for me
How could it be?

It almost seemed they would take the place
Of Mom and Dad who had finished their race.

I know they had prayed for them and their kids as well
They prayed thru many generations so all would tell

They prayed for my brothers and me
They prayed for my children and theirs you see

They prayed for our family for many yet unborn
Their lives were not wasted; they would not want us to mourn.

They loved all their grandchildren but none quite like
The very first grandchild, a grandson named Mike.

They experienced love when they held him in their arms
He had captured their hearts with his unknown charms.

Their second grandchild brought another first
A grand daughter – they thought their hearts would burst!

Of granddaughter Stacie the Holy Spirit told Granddad that she
Was given the gifts of healing and of prophecy

Oh so many things have occurred this year
I could not list all the things I hold dear

But I would be amiss if I did not share
The birth of my granddaughter – it wouldn’t be fair!

In October, Novella was born on the very day
We were to celebrate her aunt Sarah’s birthday

She was named for her great-great Gram
A great honor for God’s little lamb.

The very next month we all made our way
To Aunt Sis and Uncle Virgil’s on Thanksgiving Day.

Yes it was hard – Mom & Dad were missed
But we still gave thanks as we hugged and kissed.

I am so grateful for my dear uncle and aunt
Lord bless them, dear God please grant

Strength, health, peace, and joy thru the years
As they struggle, love, support, and pray through their tears.

And so as we gather to celebrate another birth
The One who came to give us great worth

We rejoice for our dear ones who have gone on before
As they celebrate with Jesus, their families and more

Because of Christ’s great love for me
I know that one day I will see

Mom, Dad, Gram, Grandpa (the list would go on and on)
So I can’t be sad that for now they are gone.

This is a day to celebrate the great love of God
And to know that He loves me even though I am flawed.

And so I surrender my life to His ways
I will follow Him for all of my days.

I believe in the words of the song that I hear
It certainly has become so very clear:

“Then pealed the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead nor doeth He sleep

For wrong shall fail, and right prevail
With peace on earth good will toward men.

Till ringing singing on its way
the world revolved from night to day

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men”

Monday, December 12, 2011

At Peace

In working on a devotional for my ladies Bible study group, I was looking at the word 'peace'.  As I was going through different references to peace in Scripture I came across one that I have read many times before but it really hit home with me tonight.  It seemed to be talking specifically about Mom and Dad.  I don't know what more I can say about it so I'll be quite content to just let the Scripture speak for itself.

Isaiah 57:1-2 (The Message)
Meanwhile, right-living people die and no one gives them a thought.
God-fearing people are carted off
   and no one even notices.
The right-living people are out of their misery,
   they're finally at rest.
They lived well and with dignity
   and now they're finally at peace. 

 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Gram

My mom's mother, my Gram, died one year ago today.  She lived a wonderful life and was 96 years young at the time of her death.  I am grateful she died before Mom & Dad were killed.  Even though I had her around for such a long time and she was in such good health right up to the end, I still miss her.

I miss her laugh and the twinkle in her eyes.  I miss her wonderful sense of humor.  I miss her strawberry shortcake - my that woman could cook!  I miss the sweet way she said my name.

My office Christmas party was tonight but I just couldn't bring myself to go.  Gram dearly loved Christmas.  She made sure she had a Christmas tree in every room of her house - even the bathroom and the screened porch!  Of course the last several years that she still lived in her farm house, her kids would do most of the work in putting up all her decorations and then lovingly putting them away after Christmas.  It was quite an ordeal!

When I was growing up, Gram would write a Christmas poem every year.  The highlight of the day was when she would read the poem.  Of course, it rhymed and in it she would mention everyone in the family.  As our family grew in her later years even though I begged her to write another poem she said it was just too hard for her.  She suffered from palsy and writing was difficult for her not to mention there were so many of us that she had a hard time trying to work everyone into the poem.

Gram was a wonderful Christian lady.  She taught adult Sunday School classes for years.  She was a mainstay of her church never missing unless she was sick.  She did miss church her last Sunday on earth because she was in the hospital but she was there the week before that!  I loved going to church with her when I was in town.  It took forever to leave afterward because it seemed everyone in the entire place had to talk to her and give her a hug before they left.  She was so very loved by the entire church.  Even the teenagers of the church loved her dearly.  To me that spoke volumes about the loving woman she was.

Yes, she lived a good life and I know I will see her again when I get to heaven.  But I still miss her.  She has left our family with a great heritage!

Isaiah 59:20-21 (The Message)
"I'll arrive in Zion as Redeemer,
   to those in Jacob who leave their sins."
         God's Decree.

 "As for me," God says, "this is my covenant with them: My Spirit that I've placed upon you and the words that I've given you to speak, they're not going to leave your mouths nor the mouths of your children nor the mouths of your grandchildren. You will keep repeating these words and won't ever stop." God's orders.


5 generations: My Mom in blue, I'm behind her, my daughter Stacie is next to me, Gram is sitting in front of her holding her son, Kristopher.  Easter, 2010.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Baptism

My beautiful grandson, Jayden Troy Maurer, will be baptized this Sunday at his Dad's home church in Salem, IL.  My daughter's in-laws have graciously invited us to their home for dinner on Saturday evening.  I'm looking forward to this significant event in Jayden's life. 

To me, the baptism is a commitment on the part of Jayden's parents and all of us who will have a hand in his upbringing.  It's a reminder to live our lives in such a way that Jayden will see Jesus in us.  It's quite a responsibility!  It's a prelude to the day that Jayden will  decide that he, too, wants to surrender his life to Christ and follow after Him.

I hope that Jayden will be able to experience baptism anew once he makes that decision.  Even though my Dad had been baptized after he accepted Jesus as His Savior, he elected to be baptized again when he and Mom were in Israel.  At the age of 30 just before Jesus began His public ministry He was baptized by his cousin John.  You may remember how the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove.  Dad wanted to be baptized in the Jordan River in approximately the same spot that Jesus had been baptized.  It was an amazing experience as Dad felt the Holy Spirit blaze through his body when he was lifted out of the murky waters.  I know that Mom and Dad would have supported Sarah and Troy's decision to have their son baptized in Troy's home church.  They would have glowed with pride! 

As I watch my 2 year old grandson, Kristopher growing in his young faith it amazes me that he will bow his head and reach out to hold hands as we bless the food before we eat.  It brings me joy to see him lift his hands in praise while we are singing.  He loves it when his Mom or I read events from the Bible to him.  At just 2 years old he is already learning and growing in his faith!  Teaching children is an awesome responsibility but we also need to remember that some of our best lessons come to us through the children in our lives.  We have so much to learn much from them!

Some friends of mine are coping with the after effects of an accident that nearly took their oldest daughter's life.  God spared her life but for now she is now bound to a wheelchair, struggling to learn to use her muscles, to hold her head up, to eat, and even to talk.  All of us who know them (and many who do not know them) are lifting this believing family up in prayer.  In a Caring Bridge post tonight, her mom talked about the faith their youngest daughter has.  She knows her sister will be healed.  Oh that we all could have faith as that of a child!

Luke 18:15-17 (The Message)
People brought babies to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. When the disciples saw it, they shooed them off. Jesus called them back. "Let these children alone. Don't get between them and me. These children are the kingdom's pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in."

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving

I know it's been a long time since I've posted here.  I have to admit I've been struggling lately.  Not outwardly but inwardly.  Not spiritually but emotionally.  Sometimes I think it's because I'm just way too busy.  Other times I think maybe I'm staying so busy because I don't want to stop and think. 

Even though I really do miss Mom & Dad with every fiber of my being, I am thankful that they were my Mom & Dad.  I can't imagine what my life would have been like without them.  I am grateful for all that they taught me.  I am grateful to have known two such beautiful people so intimately.  My mother was the most gentle person I've ever known.  She exuded grace and hospitality.  My father was so warm and friendly.  Together they lived God's love for others.

I pray I can show God's love to others.  I pray God will use me in even a fraction of the way He used them.  I pray for grace to be forgiving.  I pray that I will get back to writing soon.  I have missed reading through their notes and studies although I haven't been able to bring myself to do that for a while.  Please pray for my strength.  I am grateful for each one of you!

Ephesians 1:15-17 (The Message)

That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the followers of Jesus, I couldn't stop thanking God for you—every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask—ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory—to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for his followers, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him—endless energy, boundless strength!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Prayer is Bridge

In a notebook with hand-drawn lettering on the front declaring "School of Divine Healing" that apparently both Mom & Dad were working on together, the following page was at the very front:

PRAYER DOES NOT CHANGE GOD'S WILL

IT ACTIVATES GOD'S WILL ON EARTH

PRAYER IS THE CONDUIT THROUGH WHICH POWER FROM HEAVEN IS BROUGHT TO EARTH

IT IS NOT THAT GOD CAN'T RELEASE HIS PROVISION WITHOUT PRAYER, IT'S THAT HE WON'T.

James 4:2b (New International Version)
"You do not have because you do not ask God"

It is God's sovereign will that He has established prayer as the bridge between the spirit world - "Where His Word is settled forever" (Psalm 89:2) and where the promises of God are already "Yes" in Christ (2 Corinthians 1:19-20) - and the material world.  Because of sin, there is a gap between what God has prepared and is ready to release and what is happening on earth.

PRAYER BRIDGES THAT GAP!

At the bottom Dad had drawn a little diagram with 2 circles.  One was marked "Earth Needs" and the other said "God's Will Waiting to be Released by Prayer".  Between the 2 circles Dad had drawn a bridge and wrote "Prayer Builds Bridge; Fills the Gap". 

I have a lot of gaps to fill!  I definitely need to be spending a lot more time on my knees.  I know it is time well spent!


Psalm 106:23 (The Message)
Fed up, God decided to get rid of them—
      and except for Moses, his chosen, he would have.
   But Moses stood in the gap and deflected God's anger,
      prevented it from destroying them utterly.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Birthday

I was blessed to have another birthday this week.  As I look back on this past year, so much has changed in my life!  My dear grandmother died after a wonderful, full 96 years of living on this earth.  My parents were killed on the day after Easter.  My daughter and her husband gave me a beautiful grandson.  (I just wish they lived a bit closer.  I don't get enough "Nana" time with him.)  My other daughter gave me a gorgeous granddaughter.  So many changes and those are just the highlights! 

All of kids and grand kids came over today to wish me happy birthday.  I love having them all here!  I just wish we could hang out together more often.  It really drove home to me how short time is. 

Last year I visited Mom & Dad around my birthday and Mom made me two (count 'em - 2!) lemon meringue pies!  My favorite and Mom made the best lemon pies ever!  More importantly, we had a wonderful visit.  Mom loved having her children and grandchildren come to visit.  Now I wish I had visited them more often.  Like all of you, I cannot go back and do things differently.  I can only change what I do from this day forward.

We all have the same amount of time every day.  1,440 minutes per day each and every day.  What am I doing with the time God is giving me?  In my Bible study this afternoon we talked about the importance of growing our relationship with God.  The only way to do that is with time.  Time spent in prayer and in His Word. 

Time is the most precious commodity that we are given.  Yet, ironically time means nothing to God.  Blink and our time here on earth is over.  Am I using my time in obedience to God? 

I Corinthians 7:29-31 (The Message)
I do want to point out, friends, that time is of the essence. There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple —in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things—your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Novella

Novella was my Mom's mothers middle name.  Gram died a year ago this December at the tender age of 96.  When my youngest daughter found out she was pregnant, she just knew it was a girl from the get go.  She decided she would name her after her great-grandmother.  She chose Gram's middle name and the middle name of her grandmother on her Dad's side, Rae.  Novella Rae.  After her Granny and Granddad were killed she knew she had to add her Granny's middle name as well. 

I know it's a mouthful, but Novella Rae Loetta was born last Saturday evening when I was supposed to be at my oldest daughter's birthday party.  Novella had other plans for her Nana.  Although she was 2 weeks ahead of schedule, she still weighed in at 6 lbs, 6 oz!  She is breathtakingly beautiful and perfect - at least to her Nana anyway.  I'm sure if you met her you would agree!  God has blessed me with another grandchild this year!

I was with my daughter through her labor.  During the toughest part (without an epidural!) Stacie kept asking me to pray (actually, yelling at me would be a more accurate description but those of you who have been through childbirth will understand).  As I was praying for what seemed like hours upon hours, I suddenly felt the presence of my Mom.  I could see her so clearly in my mind.  It was the first time since she was killed that I felt her with me.

Every time I cradle little Novella in my arms, I think of Mom.  When Jayden was born just 8 short weeks ago I was truly on an emotional roller coaster.  I was elated that Sarah and Troy had a beautiful perfect baby boy but on the other hand I thought it wasn't fair that Mom would never get to hold him.  With the birth of Novella, I feel a peace about that.  I feel that in a way Mom and Dad are here.  Their legacy will live on in the lives of all those they touched while they were living and those they never got to meet in this life.


Psalm 22:30-31 (The Message)
Our children and their children
      will get in on this
   As the word is passed along
      from parent to child.
   Babies not yet conceived
      will hear the good news—
      that God does what he says.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Legacy

I know without a doubt that because Mom & Dad died the way they did, their lives have had an even greater impact.  Isn't it ironic?  That in death life can be become even more?  Yet that is exactly what happened when Jesus died.  Because He died we all can have victory over death if we will only accept Him as our Savior.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not putting Mom & Dad up there with Jesus.  Not by a long shot.  I know some people wonder how a loving God could allow Mom & Dad to die the way they did when they lived the bulk of their lives being obedient to God.  God has given me a great peace about how they died.  I know He did not desert them.  His angels were standing by itching to protect them but were held back by God for a reason.  I know that with all my being.  (If you haven't had a chance to read my earlier blogs on this look at the ones from August 3rd and 4th - Angels and Show Me)

Tonight I had the pleasure to meet a wonderful young Christian lady, Mia.  As we were sharing and getting to know each other a little bit I told her about Mom and Dad.  I thought she was going to cry just hearing about them.  I shared with her about their funeral and how their deaths impacted so many people.  Not just people that had known them but people who had never met them.  She was amazed that I could talk to her about them so calmly.

Yes, I have tough days.  I have days where the weirdest thing can make me feel as though I'm going to burst into tears or just lose it completely.  But most days I am okay.  Many days I am fantastic.  Many times I lose myself in worshiping God.  Yes, the same God who could have saved my parents that rain-drenched April morning but didn't.  I love Him and trust Him.  I know He is in control.


John 6:35-40 (The Message)
Jesus said, "I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don't really believe me. Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don't let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
"This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then aligns with him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time." 

Romans 10:11-13 (The Message)
Scripture reassures us, "No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will ever regret it." It's exactly the same no matter what a person's religious background may be: the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help. "Everyone who calls, 'Help, God!' gets help."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Six Months

It was six months ago today that Mom & Dad were killed in their own home.  It still feels like a very bad dream.  I keep thinking I'll wake up and everything will be okay.  Yesterday I drove to Aunt Sis and Uncle Virgil's house.  I then rode with them to Springfield, MO.

There we met my brother, Dave, and cousin, Cindy at Sheriff Arnott's office.  We talked with the sheriff and 2 of the detectives working on Mom & Dad's case.  It was very comforting to see how hard they are working to bring closure for us.  The case has become personal to them.  They all have pictures of Mom & Dad hanging on their office walls.  You should see the stacks of DVD's of interviews not to mention audio interviews, many large binders full of reports and descriptions of the over 500 pieces of evidence!

I feel certain they will bring the killer(s) to justice.  Please keep these dedicated officers in your prayers!  They are giving so much of their time, expertise, and energy.

Today, we met with reporters.  The support of the media has been overwhelming!  We really appreciate all that they are doing on behalf of Mom & Dad.  The fact that they are keeping this in front of the public really makes a difference.

I felt much better driving home tonight than I did when I left yesterday morning.  I don't feel so alone in this journey.

Psalm 9:9-12 (The Message)
God's a safe-house for the battered,
      a sanctuary during bad times.
   The moment you arrive, you relax;
      you're never sorry you knocked.

Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God,
      tell his stories to everyone you meet:
   How he tracks down killers
      yet keeps his eye on us,
      registers every whimper and moan. 


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Miracles in Heaven

I talked about Daniel 6:27 ("He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth") in a blog post titled "Miracles".  Several of you responded and I appreciate all of you!  Here is what Jean wrote to me: "This does not exactly answer your question,but I remember Pastor Bob saying in his Easter Sunrise sermon that God does not alter the laws of nature.  He releases the laws of heaven. I believe he was talking about answered prayer/miracles." 

Hmm, that was what Dad had been studying and writing about for the past several years.  Bringing God's Kingdom to earth.  Remember the way Jesus taught us to pray (often referred to as The Lord's Prayer)?  "Thy Will be done on earth as it is in heaven."  That is the very heart of what He tried so hard to teach His disciples.

I was at that Easter Sunrise service with my Dad.  It was too early for Mom so just Dad & I went.  What a special time that was for me.  Even though I generally take fairly detailed sermon notes I had not written a lot down that morning.  I think part of it was the early time frame and part of it was that I was a bit distracted by my excitement of sharing that service with Dad.

Dr. Swikard used John 20:1-17 as the basis of his message that morning.  It's an account of what happened when Mary went to the tomb that first Easter Sunday.

Here are the notes I wrote early on that crisp Sunday morning with my Dad by my side:

"Death has no substance.  It is but a shadow.

Miracles are a result of revealing the realities of heaven into this world!


Running from something is out of fear.  Running toward something is out of anticipation and joy.


The stone didn't roll away so Jesus could get out.  It was rolled away so we could get in."

It makes perfect sense.  Miracles occur here when things happen on earth as they happen in heaven so of course, miracles must occur in heaven as well!  This makes me want to go further into Dad's writings which I promise I will get back to soon!

Please pray for my family.  This week marks 6 months since my parents were murdered.  I am traveling to Springfield, Mo tomorrow to meet with police for updates on the case.

Psalm 79:9-10 (The Message)
Hurry up and help us; we're at the end of our rope.
   You're famous for helping; God, give us a break.
      Your reputation is on the line.
   Pull us out of this mess, forgive us our sins—
      do what you're famous for doing!
   Don't let the heathen get by with their sneers:
      "Where's your God? Is he out to lunch?"
   Go public and show the godless world
      that they can't kill your servants and get by with it.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Healing

My parents prayed for all of our family everyday.  They prayed for each of us together and separately.  That also included praying everyday for my sister-in-law, Kate to be healed.  Kate has suffered for years from what doctors said was a degenerative muscle disease.  Slowly, her muscles have refused to respond to her commands.  Lately, she has not been able to walk or even hold the phone up to her ear.

Despite all this, she has remained positive.  She has prayed for the healing of others and rejoiced when their healing came.  Her husband, my courageous brother, Stephen, has prayed for her and cared for her and their family.  His strength amazes me.

Stephen called me yesterday and told me that Kate has now been diagnosed with a form of ALS.  Doctors say there is nothing they can do to heal her body.  They can only try to slow the disease down. 

Kate's church has been praying for her.  Her children (Daniel & Vanessa - love you both!!) pray tirelessly for their Mom.  I have been praying for Kate, too.  So many faithful, believing people praying that she will be healed.  Yet God seems to be very silent.  I find myself wondering where God is when we need Him so badly.  Kate is such a sweet, deserving Godly woman!

I wish I had an answer.  I just know that I will keep praying.  Stephen says he knows Mom & Dad are praying even now.  I know God is faithful.  In His time, our prayers will be answered.


2 Timothy 2:11-13 (The Message)
This is a sure thing:

   If we die with him, we'll live with him;
   If we stick it out with him, we'll rule with him;
   If we turn our backs on him, he'll turn his back on us;
   If we give up on him, he does not give up—
      for there's no way he can be false to himself.



I Peter 1:3-5 (The Message)
What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.

Your day is coming, Kate!  I love you, my sweet sister!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Miracles

I've still been trying to figure out the difference in prayers that seem to have power to produce miracles and prayers that seem to hit the ceiling.  I haven't forgotten about my intelligent, faithful daughter Sarah's question regarding answered prayer.  Miracles have been in the back of mind ever since she asked me why some believer's prayers go unanswered.

I've been doing some reading in Daniel lately.  It seemed like a good follow up to the study of Revelation I just went through.  In Daniel 6 it gives the account of King Darius' reign.  Daniel was one of 3 administrators in the entire kingdom.  King Darius recognized Daniel's wisdom and decided to put him in charge of the kingdom.  Others in the government were greatly dismayed when they found out what the king was planning to do.  They plotted against Daniel.  Since they could find no wrong in his past (unusual for a politician, huh?) they knew the only way to get him was on religious grounds.  They appealed to the kings vanity and convinced him to issue a decree stating that for 30 days everyone could only pray to and worship the king. 

Of course, Daniel continued to pray to and worship God as he had always done.  When the king realized he had been duped, he tried to figure a way out of this for Daniel but, alas, the decree was set in stone.  King Darius had Daniel put in the lion's den and sealed it shut.  The next morning, Daniel did not have so much as a scratch.  Pretty incredible, huh?  The king had those who had plotted against Daniel thrown into the lions den and they were immediately torn to shreds!  Those lions were obviously hungry!

The king issued a proclamation that goes like this:

Daniel 6:25 - 27 (The Message)
King Darius published this proclamation to every race, color, and creed on earth:

    Peace to you! Abundant peace!
         I decree that Daniel's God shall be worshiped and feared
   in all parts of my kingdom.
         He is the living God, world without end. His kingdom
   never falls.
         His rule continues eternally.
         He is a savior and rescuer.
         He performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth.
         He saved Daniel from the power of the lions
.

 I've read this Scripture many times before.  I loved this story as a child.  I loved teaching it as a Sunday School teacher.  As a children's choir leader, we even did an entire musical based on this.  When I was reading this tonight something struck me that I had never noticed before.  Did you catch it?

Toward the end of verse 27 it says that God performs astonishing miracles in heaven and on earth.  God performs miracles in heaven?  Really?  What sort of miracles are needed in heaven?  This opens up a whole new can of worms for me.  Does anyone have a thought on that for me? 

If Dad were still alive I would have already called him.

Friday, October 14, 2011

AT&T

I had given Mom a cell phone of her own for Mother's day a year ago.  Before that, she and Dad shared a cell phone.  They didn't always do everything together and I wanted Mom to have a phone of her own for her safety.

She had only had her phone for 2 days when she sent me a picture of her Mom & her together via text message.  She was 78 years old and my Gram was 95 at the time.  I showed it to my boss.  He said I've had my i-Phone for a year and still don't know how to do that!

Mom embraced technology.  She loved working on computers.  She even set up a Facebook account in order to keep in better touch with her grandkids. 

At the beginning of June I decided to call AT&T and see if I could cancel Mom's phone due to the circumstances.  After talking to 3 or 4 different people and having to explain the entire ordeal all over again to each one of them, I had a supervisor who said she would cancel the phone and not charge me the $13 per month fee they normally charge to cancel a phone (the phone is only $10 per month yet they charge $13 to cancel?  Does that even make sense?)

I just received my October bill and I'm still being charged for Mom's phone.  I knew I needed to call back and go thru the process all over again.  Worse than the hour and a half I knew it would take on the phone, I had no idea how many times I would have to recant my gruesome story over and over again.  I said a quick prayer and dialed the 800 number.

I went through my story with a nice young man.  I explained how I had called before and ended up in tears by the end of the call.  I told him my plight.  How the police have the phone as evidence.  It was the phone Mom had used to call police while my Dad was trying to fight off attackers who were stabbing him.  By the time police got there they had both been stabbed to death and Mom was still clutching the phone.  Police have said I will not be able to get the phone back.  It won't work any longer anyway.  I could care less about the phone.  I just felt that since I have been a long time AT&T customer and currently pay for 4 phones that they would have compassion and release me from the contract without any penalties.

The man I got on the phone was so helpful and understanding.  He urged me to just stick with him and he would get it worked out.  He promised me.  At the end he had to turn me over to a supervisor.  But he remained true to his promise.  Thankfully, he had already explained my entire story to her so I didn't have to repeat it yet again.  That supervisor not only cancelled that phone line without a penalty, she gave me a credit back for the months that the phone has been out of use.  Going one step further, she sent me a text message from AT&T verifying everything she told me was doing.

I was so grateful to get that taken care of.  I won't have to see that number come up on my bill every month with no usage.  It was a great reminder to me to treat people with kindness.  You just never know what someone is going through.


Colossions 3:12-14 (The Message)
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Run to God

The idea of  Mom & Dad's killer(s) still running free has been weighing on me lately.  From the very beginning I had no doubt that God knew who killed them and His justice is far better than man's justice.  I still know that is true but I would like to see the person(s) who committed this brutal, unjustified crime behind bars.  I know the people of Springfield, Mo would like to see that happen, too.

My brother gave me some unsettling news about the person(s) responsible for the crime that he had learned from the police and it has really bothered me.  Since then it seems that every time I pick up my Bible God is speaking to me about it. 

This Scripture jumped out at me the other day:

Psalm 9:9-12 (The Message)
God's a safe-house for the battered,
      a sanctuary during bad times.
   The moment you arrive, you relax;
      you're never sorry you knocked.

 Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God,
      tell his stories to everyone you meet:
   How he tracks down killers
      yet keeps his eye on us,
      registers every whimper and moan.


Relax, God tracks down killers.  I know that God doesn't even need to track them down.  He has been following their every movement their entire lives.

Today this passage spoke volumes to me:

Psalm 11 (The Message)
I've already run for dear life straight to the arms of God.
   So why would I run away now
      when you say,
   "Run to the mountains; the evil
      bows are bent, the wicked arrows
   Aimed to shoot under cover of darkness
      at every heart open to God.
   The bottom's dropped out of the country;
      good people don't have a chance"?

 But God hasn't moved to the mountains;
      his holy address hasn't changed.
   He's in charge, as always, his eyes
      taking everything in, his eyelids
   Unblinking, examining Adam's unruly brood
      inside and out, not missing a thing.
   He tests the good and the bad alike;
      if anyone cheats, God's outraged.
   Fail the test and you're out,
      out in a hail of firestones,
   Drinking from a canteen
      filled with hot desert wind.

God's business is putting things right;
      he loves getting the lines straight,
   Setting us straight. Once we're standing tall,
      we can look him straight in the eye.


Run to God!  He is still in charge.  He has not moved.  He will put all things right.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Exhaustion

It's amazing how exhaustion can set in so quickly.  I had such a wonderful time with my grandsons Thursday and Friday.  Going for a walk, swimming at the hotel pool, cooking dinner, going to the St. Louis zoo, etc.  Yesterday and today I felt totally exhausted.

I think part of it was physical but I believe that most of it was emotional.  I was so tired I didn't cook dinner last night.  It was all I could do to pick up the phone and order pizza.  My son and his sweet, beautiful girlfriend came over and spent the entire evening playing with Kristopher and doting on him as they love to do.  We had a fun evening filled with pizza, presents, cake and ice cream.  I have to admit, I have the most wonderful kids in the world!

Even though I was very tired when I went to bed I just couldn't go to sleep.  I prayed and cried until quite late.  I just felt I couldn't go on.  I complained to God that my life was just too hard!  I didn't even go to church this morning.  I got up, ate a piece of toast then laid back down and fell soundly asleep again. 

I thought about calling one of the gals in the jail ministry and ask her to go in my place tonight but, thank God, I didn't.  What a blessing it is to me to take the Word of God to the ladies in cell block C!  I feel so renewed now!

When I left the jail tonight and got into my car I cried for a moment as I usually do.  The last time I communicated with Mom was Sunday, April 24th after I left the jail.  I often called Mom and Dad as I drove home from the jail to tell them how things had gone.  That night Mom had texted me so I just texted back.  How I miss being able to talk to them, to run things past them or just to chat!

"Hallelujah!"  That was Mom's text to me that last Sunday night.  What a wonderful reminder to me of why we go through hard times!

2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (The Message)
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Grandsons

My oldest grandson (and Mom & Dad's oldest great-grandson!) turned 2 years old today.  Time has flown by so quickly!  What a great time we had at the St. Louis zoo today!  Kristopher was so excited about all the different animals.  Seeing new things through the eyes of a child makes you look at the world in a whole new way.  What an experience!

Physically, today was draining.  So much walking & carrying around a 35 pound bundle of joy!  But it was well worth it.  

Today was also my youngest grandson, Jayden's, birthday.  He is one month old today.  I got to spend the day with him yesterday and was able to get a little snuggle time in with him today as well.  What a special day!  I just wish Mom & Dad could have shared it with us.  How they loved their family!

Sometimes I feel that my family has fallen apart.  Since we were gone today Kristopher's official birthday dinner will be tomorrow evening.  It will just be Kristopher, my daughter Stacie, my son, his girlfriend and me.  My oldest daughter, her husband, and their baby won't be able to come.

It seemed that when I was growing up we always had huge birthday dinners.  My brothers all live so far away now that we just don't get together.  Even when Mom & Dad were alive we rarely all got together.  I feel that now that they are gone we may never all get together again. 

I wonder how Kristopher will view his family.  He has no grandfathers and I am the only grandmother in his life.  How will I be able to keep my family together?  What kind of memories will I be able to leave my grandchildren?

I know I can't wallow in self-pity.  I have to just keep moving on and make the most of every moment.  I can't drum up a fake family but I can give them my love and do my best to show them way to the Perfect Father.

John 17:20-23 (The Message)
I'm praying not only for them
   But also for those who will believe in me
   Because of them and their witness about me.
   The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
   Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
   So they might be one heart and mind with us.
   Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
   The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
   So they'll be as unified and together as we are—
   I in them and you in me.
   Then they'll be mature in this oneness,
   And give the godless world evidence
   That you've sent me and loved them
   In the same way you've loved me.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Faith

Mom & Dad truly lived by faith.  There were so many times when things looked physically impossible and in the natural realm they were impossible!  But they believed in the promises of God and trusted Him to provide in whatever situation they were facing.

I was reminded this morning of the Scripture in Romans where Paul talked about Abraham's faith.  Even though he was an old man and Sarah was an old, childless woman, he did not waiver in his faith in God.  God had told Abraham that he would be the father of many nations and Abraham knew that God would fulfill His promise to Abraham.

Of course, Sarah came up with a way to help God out.  If you read the account in Genesis you'll see that she told Abraham to sleep with her maid and her maid would bear him a son.  It happened and Ishmael was born but that wasn't God's way.  It wasn't what God had promised.

Don't we do that so many times?  We grow impatient and think we need to help God along?  I've done it myself with disastrous results!  God knows what He is doing and we just need to obediently wait with passionate patience.

I know that the Mom & Dad's killers will be brought to justice.  I keep thinking I should be doing something to help bring that about.  But in this case there is truly nothing I can do.  I just have to wait and trust God for His timing.

Romans 4:19-25 (The Message)
Abraham didn't focus on his own impotence and say, "It's hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child." Nor did he survey Sarah's decades of infertility and give up. He didn't tiptoe around God's promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That's why it is said, "Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right." But it's not just Abraham; it's also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

Consider these words of Jesus:


Matthew 5:43-48 (The Message)
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend,' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Communication

I've been struggling the past couple of weeks with writing as I'm sure you can tell.  I've had a hard time looking at Mom & Dad's notes.  I just couldn't bring myself to look through them lately so I took a bit of a break.

I'm okay with that and I hope you are, too.   

My daughter, Stacie started in Bible Study Fellowship last year with the book of Isaiah.  Mom was thrilled that Stacie was doing the study but she was afraid that Stacie might be overwhelmed with such a difficult book to start off with.  No worries though.  Stacie loved it!  It was just the kind of in depth study she had been longing for. 

BSF is an international, nondenominational intense Bible study.  Women all over the world study the same thing every week.  Mom & Stacie often discussed their study and compared notes.  One time when Stacie was stuck on a question, she called her Granny.  Mom confessed that she was stuck on that one, too.  She tried every other available resource but she finally broke down and asked Dad what he thought.  She told me later that she tried never to ask him his thoughts until she had completed her work.  She wanted to figure it out for herself.

When I came across years worth of notes that Mom had from her precious times in BSF, I knew I had to give them to Stacie.  The other evening Stacie came into my room as I was reading and with tears in her eyes she said, "Mom, I want to thank you for giving me Granny's notes from BSF.  It means so much to me to have them." 

This year BSF is studying the book of Acts.  Mom had 2 sets of notes on the book of Acts.  She had done it twice in the past 20 years or so.  Stacie said she would do her study first and then compare it with what Granny had.  She said it was the next best thing to being able to talk to her Granny.

It brings me to tears just thinking about it.  God has blessed me with beautiful, spiritual children in addition to a rich spiritual heritage!

Psalm 78:1-4 (The Message)
Listen, dear friends, to God's truth, bend your ears to what I tell you.
   I'm chewing on the morsel of a proverb;
      I'll let you in on the sweet old truths,
   Stories we heard from our fathers,
      counsel we learned at our mother's knee.
   We're not keeping this to ourselves,
      we're passing it along to the next generation—
   God's fame and fortune,
      the marvelous things he has done.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

After the Cross

In one of Dad's writings he said he was listening to an orchestra play "Jesus Paid It All".  As he was listening it struck him that Jesus really did pay it all. Dad said that the Spirit reminded him that we are not living before the cross.  We are living after the cross.  He realized that as Isaiah had said He would, Jesus paid for all our sin, our pain, our suffering, our sickness...all of it!

Isaiah 53:3-5 (New King James Version)
He is despised and rejected by men,
      A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      And we hid, as it were,
our faces from Him;
      He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
      Surely He has borne our griefs
      And carried our sorrows;
      Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
      Smitten by God, and afflicted.
      But He
was wounded for our transgressions,
      
He was bruised for our iniquities;
      The chastisement for our peace
was upon Him,
      And by His stripes we are healed.


 Dad got out his Strong's concordance and looked up the word "grief" in verses 3 & 4.  He found out that it meant sickness, grief, sorrow, and pain.  He realized that Jesus had confirmed that it encompassed sickness in Matthew 8


Matthew 8:16-17 (New Living Translation)
That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. He cast out the evil spirits with a simple command, and he healed all the sick.  This fulfilled the word of the Lord through the prophet Isaiah, who said,   “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”

This prophecy of Jesus is telling us that we are going to have a better life on the resurrection side of the cross with Jesus.  Dad said that the cross is necessary to bring us into the living Christ.  It is Jesus and His work on the cross that makes it possible for us live in the presence of God the Father and in the power of the Holy Spirit.

We need to remember that Jesus is no longer on the cross.  He defeated death.  He is our strength and our power.  Dad said that many Christians today live beneath the privilege that Jesus paid for on the cross.  We fail to live in the "newness of life" as Jesus commanded his disciples to do.

Matthew 10:7-8 (The Message)
Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Aunt Marjorie

Aunt Marjorie died Sunday after battling health problems for years.  Uncle Lin did everything he possibly could to help her and when he became ill, their kids were there to care for both of them.  What a beautiful family and what a beautiful expression of God's love!

Aunt Marjorie wasn't really my aunt.  She was married to Uncle Lin who wasn't really my uncle.  Lin Cravens was Dad's cousin.  They were as close as brothers.  He was always Uncle Lin to me.  Uncle Lin's dad, my great-uncle Willy Cravens was a Baptist preacher.  Lin was destined to become a Baptist preacher as well. 

As a young man Uncle Lin was serving as the pastor at Mom's church, New Home General Baptist Church in Poplar Bluff, MO.  Mom was a single young lady who had finished high school and was working at the local shoe factory.  When Uncle Lin's cousin Don came home on leave from the Navy, he said you have to meet this sweet young lady at my church. 

I've heard a couple of different renditions of this story, but basically, Lin introduced Mom & Dad to each other and a few short weeks later Lin married them at New Home General Baptist Church.  How romantic!

Uncle Lin was fortunate enough to find Aunt Marjorie.  I don't know their story but I do know they fell in love and were married for many, many years.  Uncle Lin adored Aunt Marjorie!  And with good reason.  Aunt Marjorie was a delightful woman.  Intelligent, artistic, quiet, humble.  Aunt Marjorie lost her eye sight several years ago.  Uncle Lin served as her eyes.  Even with poor eyesight she still created beautiful pottery.  At one of our family reunions several years ago I won the bid on an exquisite pitcher that Aunt Marjorie made.  I cherish that pitcher!

Uncle Lin is a jokester.  He always has magic tricks, jokes, etc.  His jokes and tricks always have a point.  He is very good at teaching kids.  He grabs their attention and then lets them know that God loves them. 

Most people wouldn't think that someone like that would be good at prison ministry, especially not in one of the roughest prison systems in the country, Orange County California.  Uncle Lin is an exceptional man.  He flourished in prison ministry because he loved people.  He didn't just say he loved people.  He truly, deeply loved people, even people in prison.  He wanted to help them.  He saw them through Jesus' eyes long before that song was made popular.  Aunt Marjorie supported him and was proud of him for his work among the toughest of the tough in this gang run prison.  Together, they had an awesome ministry!

I love  you, Aunt Marjorie!  I know you're in heaven with the rest of our family with your eyesight and health restored!  Hallelujah!

Revelation 14:12-13 (The Message)
Meanwhile, the saints stand passionately patient, keeping God's commands, staying faithful to Jesus.  I heard a voice out of Heaven, "Write this: Blessed are those who die in the Master from now on; how blessed to die that way!"
   "Yes," says the Spirit, "and blessed rest from their hard, hard work. None of what they've done is wasted; God blesses them for it all in the end."

Monday, September 26, 2011

Love

We started a new series this week at church.  It's about the Fruits of the Spirit.  We started yesterday with love.  Jesus commanded us to love.

John 13:34 (The Message)
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another."

If we're commanded to love one another, then how can love be a fruit?  After all, a fruit just grows.  It's not something you do.  If you get a chance, please go online and listed to the sermon by Dr. Bob Swikard.  It's a wonderful insight into the fruit of love.

http://www.springfieldfirst.org

Mom & Dad fully understood and lived out this commandment.  They were also a great example of how God can grow this fruit within us.  They both remained connected to God and allowed Him to work through them.  In this way, God was able to grow the fruits of His Spirit within them. 

A diseased or unhealthy tree will not produce much fruit, if any at all.  We have to be healthy inside, in our hearts, if we are to produce the Fruits of the Spirit.  And we all know that you won't get peaches from an oak tree.  The only way to change what is growing out of me is to change what is deep within me in my heart.

Luke 6:43-45 (The Message)
You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds. 

What hope is there for me?  The thing is, I know Dad would say the same thing about himself.  The beauty of it is that no matter where we've been, how we've lived, there is hope!  God has provided a way for me to become connected to the true vine.  I can just see Dad saying this with his face beaming and chuckling, "Ha, ha!  Praise the Lord" in way only he could.  Praise the Lord, indeed!

1 John 4:7-10 (The Message)
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn't know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can't know him if you don't love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they've done to our relationship with God.

Friday, September 23, 2011

God's Spirit

I know I keep going back to this but if Dad is right and John 15:7 is the most powerful verse on prayer, then I need to meditate on it a lot!  I like to look at in in context.

John 15:5-8 (The Message)
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.

I have to be joined to Christ.  Remain connected to Him.  I need to make myself at home with Him.  Christ and His Words at home in me.  That can't happen unless God's Spirit lives in me.  God's Spirit won't dwell in me unless He is comfortable there.  At home.  Can God live comfortably within me?

I Corinthians 6:19-20 (The Message)
Or didn't you realize that your body is a sacred place, the place of the Holy Spirit? Don't you see that you can't live however you please, squandering what God paid such a high price for? The physical part of you is not some piece of property belonging to the spiritual part of you. God owns the whole works. So let people see God in and through your body.

In order for me to remain in God and he in me, I need to surrender my life and my body to him.  It's not enough just to choose to live for God.  I have to freely and fully surrender my life over to His control.  Have I created a "homey" environment for God?  Can he dwell comfortably within me?  Am I "at home" in Christ?

Where do you feel as comfortable as you do when you're at home?  Of course, where ever Mom & Dad lived always felt like home to me.  My grandmother's house (which my grandfather built when Mom was 12) was always home.  Aunt Sis' house is always home to me, no matter where she moves.  But the places where I feel at home are actually pretty limited. 

There are certainly many places where I feel uncomfortable.  How do you suppose God, who is Holy, righteous, and just, feels around me?  Just the thought of it makes me uneasy!  Praise God, He has clothed me in righteousness!  I need to respond by allowing God to live through me.

1 John 3:21-24  (The Message)
And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Word

I keep thinking about Dad's thoughts on prayer.  I shared with you his note that John 15:7 was the most powerful verse on prayer.  That's quite a statement because the Bible has a lot to say about prayer!  Of course, a big part of that verse deals with the Word of God.

John 15:5-8 (The Message)
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.


The words of Christ at home in me as I am connected to Him.  How do I do that?   I know it has to be more than memorizing Scripture.  His Word in me.

As Mom & Dad acquired more grandkids and they were quickly growing up, birthday gifts became costly.  Mom knew she wouldn't be able to afford to spend a lot of money on all the cool stuff the kids were beginning to desire.

Instead, in the days leading up to each birthday Mom would send some little gift, a booklet, a plastic bracelet, a bookmark.  Little things and tucked inside each package would be a verse.  The last gift they would receive would be their "main" gift and of course, another verse would be tucked inside.

Today, my kids don't remember the gifts they received from their Grandparents but they remember getting the verses tucked inside.  Mom & Dad knew what would last and what would be the most valuable gift they could ever give.

Hebrews 4:12-13 (The Message)
God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it—no matter what.

God's powerful Word is connected to our power in prayer.  We must be in the Word and not just learning it but applying it to our lives.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 (The Message)
There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fire Ants

At our Bible study last night one of the gals mentioned that her son in the Army had been parachuting as part of his training.  Unfortunately, he landed in a very large mound of fire ants.  Thankfully, he had full gear on and did not suffer too badly.  It reminded me of a time when we lived on Guam. 

I was about 4 years old and was playing outside when somehow I ended up in a hill of fire ants.  I began screaming and running for the house.  If you're ever bitten by a fire ant, you'll know how they got their name!  Mom scooped me up and sat me in the kitchen sink.  As she was pulling my clothes off, she had cold water running over me trying to wash the fire ants away.

I know she was bitten in the process but she had no concerns for herself.  She only cared about me and getting the ants off of me.  Although it was an unpleasant experience, it was one I'll never forget.  Not only do I remember the pain and fear I felt not knowing what was happening to me, I remember how Mom reacted so quickly and selflessly to protect me.

It's a little how God, our perfect Father, feels about us.  He'll go to great lengths to help us.  He is our protector and our provider.  He loved us so much, He gave His only Son so that we could be spared.

John 3:16 - 17 (The Message)
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.

God loves you and me so very much!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Helper

As I look through the stacks of sermon notes that Dad has written over the years, I find myself very grateful for Mom.  Dad's handwriting is not the greatest but thankfully most of his sermon notes are typed.

Yes, you heard me right.  Not on a computer but on a very old-fashioned typewriter.  From the 1950's until about the 1980's or so, Mom typed his notes up for him.  Even after that, she typed most of them on the computer.  There is a big difference between the ones that Mom did and the ones that Dad entered.

What a lot of work!  After all, Dad could have just used his handwritten notes.  But Mom wanted to make it smoother for him to refer to as he preached.  All those years when people would say to Dad, "What a great sermon!"  Or, "That that sermon really helped me!"  Mom did not get any of the credit for her part but she didn't care.  Her main concern was to be a help to Dad and for people to be drawn to Christ. 

That is truly how Christ operated when He lived on earth.  In my Bible study tonight with my wonderful group of women, we talked about the importance of humility in our walk with the Lord.  I'd like to share a passage with you that talks about the humility of Jesus.  It's one I definitely need to meditate on!  I know this is a long passage, but it's so important.

Philippians 2:5-11 (The Message)
  Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.  Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. 

 I need to fall on my face in reverent worship of my Lord!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Surrender

I've still been grappling with the issue of believing God.  Mom gave me a great book by Beth Moore on that subject several years ago.  Mom told me that book had changed the way she thought of the promises of God's Word.  The book is entitled "Believing God".  I have read it a couple of times but I need to read it again.

In that book Beth talks about how most of believe God did the things the Bible said He did and that He can do what the Bible says He can do.  However most of us just don't believe that God wants to do those things for us.

That's my problem.  How do I believe that He will do what His Word says He will do for me?  I have had prayers answered in miraculous ways.  But as my daughter shared with me, there have been many times I've prayed believing that it would happen but it never seemed to come about.  So now what?

In one of Dad's notes he wrote:
The whole secret of prayer is found in the words of Jesus, John 15:7.  Here is prayer that has unbounded power.  There is a way of asking and receiving exactly what we ask.  The first condition is, 'IF you abide in Me'".

John 15:7 (New International Version)
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Then Dad wrote: How do you get connected to the Vine?

The answer to that question is complex but crucial.   It is vital to surrender ourselves to Christ on a daily (and even hourly) basis.  Dad wrote:
Surrender is the wisest thing you can ever do!  Surrender to live a holy life for the glory of God.  Sanctify yourself.  Set yourself apart unto God, telling God that you love Him and want to be like Him.


I John 3:22 (The Message)
We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him.

Psalm 37:4
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Dad had a lot more to say on the subject but for now I'll leave these Words of Jesus:

 John 15:9-11 (The Message)
"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done—kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love.  "I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Problem 2

A few weeks ago I wrote on some notes of Dad's where he challenged us to believe God.  Sounds pretty simple until you read the Bible.  Believe not only that God can do what He says He can do but believe that He wants to do it for (or through) me.  Really?  He'll move a mountain through little ol' me?

My daughter e-mailed me after I wrote that and explained that she had a problem really believing that God would work through her prayers.  After all, she prayed for her Dad for years and he still ended up dead of a drug overdose.  How do we know what to pray for and once we identify a need, how do we pray with conviction that God will really do it?

Tough questions.  Questions I grapple with as well.  Dad has written more on the subject and I will get back to his notes in future blogs but it dawned on me that we need to ground ourselves more in the Word and look at the context in which it was written. A verse many people like to quote when they have needs is Philippians 4:19.  I'm sure it's a verse you've heard many times in your life.

Philippians 4:19 (New International Version)
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 

Sounds great and easy enough.  God is rich and He will meet all my needs.   It doesn't say He can. It says He will.  But what's the context?  If you read the passage leading up to it, Paul is talking to the church in Philippi.  They had just sent gifts of support to Paul.  It wasn't the first time they had done this.  Paul says he had received their gifts.  I don't know what all it included but Paul indicates it was generous.  A lot of "wealth" preachers use this (and other) passages to say if you give them money, God will supply all of your needs.

Paul had true needs as he spread the Gospel to other nations.  Paul did not ask them to supply his needs.  Paul left that up to God.  God then laid it on the hearts of these church members to help Paul out.  There is no formula we can use to manipulate God to get what we want.  We just have to be in tune with God's heart and then follow in obedience when He reveals the next step to us.

Read what it says just a few verses before this one.

Philippians 4:11-13 (The Message)
Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

Have I learned to be content no matter what my circumstances are?  Would I be content if I were imprisoned for sharing the Gospel?  Paul wrote this letter from prison as he was awaiting trial for preaching the Gospel.

Trust is the key.  No matter what things may look like to our limited, physical minds, trust God to supply your needs as you obediently rest contented in Him.  Take a moment to read this entire chapter.  Paul speaks about the importance of praise and rejoicing in God and in praying instead of worrying.

Philippians 4:4-6 (The Message)
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Separation

When I had my first baby,  Mom came and stayed with me till he was a week old.  We lived in southern Indiana and they lived in southern Missouri at the time so it was about a four hour drive.  Mom told me later that when she went home, she cried most of the way.  I know now how she felt!

Thankfully, I only live about an hour and twenty minutes from my daughter and her husband but it's still a separation.  I saw him on the day he was born.  I returned when he was four days old and stayed until today, his one week birthday.  As I drove home I thought of how much he had changed in that one short week.  I don't want to go more than a couple of weeks without seeing him!

When I became a mom, all of a sudden my Mom was the smartest women on earth.  I called her as often as my long distance bill could take it.  I made the trip to Missouri much more often.  Seeing how much Mom and Dad loved being with my kids brought me so much joy.  The kids would often stay a week or two with Granny and Granddad.  When they came home, they were full of stories of all the fun they had.  Such adventures!

My Mom's sister and best friend got in on the action, too.  Aunt Sis (as I know her) and her husband, my Uncle Virgil, loved to take the kids for a week in the early Spring to go crappie fishing.  They had so much fun with them.  I am so fortunate to have such a loving, supportive family!

The Bible tells us that if we as human parents love our children and know how to give good gifts to them, how much more will God do for His own children?  Jesus talked about this in Matthew when He was teaching about prayer.

Matthew 7:10-11 (The Message)
"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

Thankfully I don't have to pay any long distance charges to talk to God.  Yet far too many times I wait until I have a problem to talk to Him.  I miss out on so much when I do that!  God doesn't like being separated from you and me.  He wants to talk to us, to have a deep, intimate relationship with us.

Galatians 4:4-7 (The Message)
But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!" Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you're also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.

Oh, Papa, I know how much you miss me and long to be with me!  I'm so grateful that I won't be separated from you!  I will set aside more time to be with You!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

God's Heart

My daughter, Sarah and I took her 5 day old son, JT to the hospital for a routine checkup on Monday.  He had been asleep but woke up and decided he was hungry while we were in the car.  Since he's a breastfed baby, she couldn't feed him while he was in the car seat.  Of course, she wouldn't dream of taking him out of his seat in the car.  She tried to console him but to no avail.  He cried all the way there.  Thankfully, it was a short drive.  He did get to eat eventually and since he had surpassed his birth weight, he certainly hasn't missed a meal yet!

But being only 5 days old, he didn't understand.  He wanted to eat and his Mommy wasn't feeding him.  He kept crying out for food but it wasn't happening.  Sarah made the comment that it broke her heart to have to listen to him cry.  What she was doing was for his own good but he didn't know that. 

It immediately made me think of how God wants to give us our desires but since He loves us, He will only give us what is in our best interest.  I said imagine how God feels when we cry out to Him for something yet He has to answer, "Wait, my child."  Often we become angry with Him for not giving us what we are asking for when we ask for it.  How His heart must break!

Sarah asked, "Do you really think God's heart breaks for us?"  I felt sure it did.  When I had a few minutes tonight I looked in Scripture for instances.  There are plenty!  God's heart does break for us.  When we grow impatient with God and question Him, His heart breaks.  When we are disobedient, His heart breaks.  When tough things happen to us and we feel God has deserted us, His heart breaks.  After all, we are His children and He is the perfect Father who loves us more than we could fathom.  I like this reference from Ephesians:

Ephesians 4:29-32 (The Message)
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.  Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.  Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Mom and Dad used Psalm 23 as their morning devotional for a couple of months a few years ago.  They used Phillip Keller's book, "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" as guide for their study.  Even though most of us are familiar with Psalm 23, Mom told me it really opened her eyes as to how much God loves us.  He cares for us in ways we won't understand until we get to heaven.

Psalm 23 (The Message)
God, my shepherd! I don't need a thing.
   You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
      you find me quiet pools to drink from.
   True to your word,
      you let me catch my breath
      and send me in the right direction.
 

Even when the way goes through
      Death Valley,
   I'm not afraid
      when you walk at my side.
   Your trusty shepherd's crook
      makes me feel secure.
 

You serve me a six-course dinner
      right in front of my enemies.
   You revive my drooping head;
      my cup brims with blessing.

Your beauty and love chase after me
      every day of my life.
   I'm back home in the house of God

      for the rest of my life.



His love is perfect.  His love is deep.  And, yes, His heart breaks for us, His beloved children.