Grace Unmerited!

28 Jan

Two online messages by Pastor Rick Wiles of trunews.com to not just ponder, but act upon.

“Reprieve Granted, Now What?”

“America, Return Not to Your Folly”  (January 22, 2017)

God calls us to holiness.  He grants us grace to live the life He requires of us.

See Psalm 85

Hebrews 12:14 NIV:   “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

An Alternative Thought

22 Oct

Autumn is a most beautiful time of year.  These thoughts are in contrast to the ugliness of the October 31 commercialism.

 

Pumpkins are…

P  retty in an Autumn field

U  gly if they’re rotten,

M  uch enjoyed for what they yield…when

P  ampered, not forgotten.

K  ids delight and grownups’ pleasure

I  nstant beauty on display

N  ighttime beacon when they’re treasured

S  ending light along the way.

 

Just a bit like you and me

Loved and shaped by God’s own hand..

When we let Him pick and clean us

We’ll be part of His great plan.

With Christ’s Light inside us, glowing,

Through the smile He’s “carved” anew,

We can also be a beacon

Affecting others, whether many or few.

 

Jesus (Matthew 5:16):  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may…glorify your Father in heaven.”

Philippians 4:8 (KJV) – “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true…honest…just…pure…lovely…of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on THESE [emphasis mine] things.”

To My Dear Mother

6 Mar

Handwritten February 22, 2016, on beautifully embossed Victorian stationery, including the verse from Philippians 1:7 as bolded immediately below  – sent March 3rd – to Mother, struggling with, and unable to accept, her memory loss.  

 

Like the stationery says, “I have you in my heart” (Phil. 1:7).  You are precious to me and to all our family and I want you to know that.  You don’t have to “do” anything to “earn” our love.  You have it because of who you are.

I am increasingly aware of how much like the seasons of the calendar are the seasons of life itself.  When we are young, we are like Spring, full of new life and external beauty.  When we are healthy and strong and learning and working, planting and training (whether it be plants or children), we are like Summer, still beautiful.  When we are reaping some of the benefits of our labors, preserving and sharing the crops of our efforts, we are like Fall, but our leaves are falling off and shedding one kind of beauty for another.  When we are wiser, and whiter, and slower, and beautiful in a whole new way, we are like Winter.

I am Fall; you are now Winter.  Soon it will be my turn to be Winter.  Please let me help you in your Winter while and where I can.  You are still beautiful..  But your beauty is in quiet confidence of your faith.  Your branches are sturdy because your roots grow deep.  You don’t have to DO to have purpose and value; just BE.

We can’t change this cycle, any more than we can change calendar seasons.  It is not easy. But we must accept it, as it is from the hands of Our Loving Heavenly Father.  His idea…His plan…His provision… as we all continue to learn to BE until He calls us to Himself, where we will be Spring again.

Love,

Your Daughter, Carolyn

Psalm 92:12-15 (NIV):

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord Is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

Proverbs 31:28 (NIV):

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”

Desert Wilderness

6 Mar

It has been nearly 16 months since I have posted anything to this blog.  That is significant because I didn’t realize I had been that “dry” for that long.

Good things can come out of wilderness experiences, though.  Moses had a 40-year wilderness life BEFORE he led the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt.  The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert, cared for by a loving Heavenly Father until they arrived in the land of milk and honey as He promised.  Elijah, fed bread by ravens sent by God, and other prophets spent time in the wilderness, learning to trust God.  Jesus Himself spent days in the wilderness, facing and overcoming temptations we too would be faced with through the wiles of Satan.  John spent time in the wilderness before he became the vocal forerunner of the Messiah, and Paul spent wilderness time in preparation to obey one of the greatest, most dramatic, calls to missionary ministry the world has ever known.

In wilderness and desert experiences, we learn the importance of Living Water, and the Bread of Life.

Suddenly a week ago, there came a call to my spirit by the Holy Spirit.  I sensed I had to write again.  On a rare quiet, alone day, with no “destination” to pursue, a gentle voice laid an urgent call on my heart and mind.  I needed to write a love letter to my almost-90-year-old mother, who is struggling with the realities of memory loss….which is much of the reason for my desert wilderness experience.

In an old Sunday School song we sang as children are these words:

“The Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow.

Strength for today is mine alway, that’s all I need for tomorrow

The Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow.

Ezekiel 13:4, 5 (NKJV):

“Yet I am the Lord your God…I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.”

Isaiah 41:18, 19, 20 (NKJV):

“I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.  I will plant [trees] in the wilderness…in the desert…that they may see and know, and consider and understand…, that the hand of the Lord has done this, and the Holy One of Israel has created it.” 

Isaiah 43:19 (NKJV):

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

John 6:35 (NKJV):

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

John 4:10 (NKJV):

Jesus said, “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”

.

The Great Physician

10 Nov

It began on my knees in front of a crackling fire in the fireplace on a rare snowy, icy night, in Willamette Valley, Oregon. February 6, 1989. I was praying about some tensions and, yes, contentions, in the family, when suddenly a serious invasion of the peaceful quietude jarred me into reality of the moment.

“Hello, there has been an accident. Charlie will pick you up and take you to the hospital. Nancy and Bret will bring Andrea, 13, and Ryan, 10, home and stay with them.” Kristin, age 15, had just been picked up off the snow and rushed to the hospital with multiple fractures (which I did not yet know). Unknown to the driver of a snowmobile, Kristin was towed behind another on an inner tube. The innocent interloper raced across the snow to join the fun and slammed into the tow rope, sending Kristin tumbling feet into the air before landing before her brother’s and sister’s very eyes. They will never forget that moment.

Lyle was conducting a meeting in Portland. I phoned him there to tell him I’d be at the hospital and why. Thankful for Charlie’s ride, I didn’t have to drive on the icy roads. Naive mother that I was, when the doctor told me her femur was broken, I believed they’d put it in a cast and we’d go home. But hardly!!! Though some of the details of that night have faded, the ultimate need was surgery to implant a rod…and two weeks of hospitalization, during which time a ramp was built to our front door and a bedroom prepared on the main floor to accommodate a wheelchair patient.

But this beloved first-born of ours was in intense pain. Medication subdued it; but it was determined that not only was the femur broken, there were also at least six other fractures, including collar bone, wrist, and pelvis. This girl was not going anywhere for a very long time. There was a procedure later, however, that makes this story a life-changing moment for me, to say nothing of how it affected her. There was a time when a transition from one sedative to another left her in excruciating pain, during which she responded with primal cries. I was unable to stay in the room with her as my heart broke over her suffering. By now her Dad was in the room with her. He had been a hospital orderly in younger days and was able to assist her pragmatically with compassion while I, on the other hand, had to leave the room. I could not bear to hear those strange gut-wrenching cries. I crossed the hall to the family waiting room – the cries, now fainter – could still be heard in the distance. I tried to pray but the ceiling seemed as brass. I picked up the Gideon’s Bible on the table, but the pages were “blank”. I cried out to my Heavenly Father!!! Something simple: “Jesus, please help?”

There was no audible Voice but there WAS a “warmth”, a “pouring” over me of a sense of peace. The Prince of Peace had come. His Holy Spirit reminded me that God the Father knew EXACTLY what I as a parent was experiencing because He had sent HIS SON to DIE for me, a sinner. My sins were the reason HIS SON had suffered a PAINFUL DEATH on my behalf. Suddenly it became very clear to me what he had done for me (and every sinner) the suffering of whom I had taken for granted. I asked Him to show me how to go from here and what to do next.

Calmly I removed my boots (snowy, remember) and tiptoed across to the dark room where the door was slightly ajar. I pushed it open without a sound, heard more cries, and the soft sound of my husband’s reassurance to Kristin that “mom is here”. She said, through her pain, “I know, I can feel her presence.” It wasn’t MY presence she felt. She felt HIS PRESENCE. I had just been with Jesus, the Great Physician.

Peace and healing began a long road to recovery…not just physical for Kristin, but relational…with Jesus Christ and mankind…for both of us.

I retell this story because just this morning, our sermon told of parents who that same year on February 16, 1989, experienced the horror of seeing their own son’s blood having been spilled in a car accident. He did not survive.

The blood of that accident reminded them of the blood of our Savior, spilled for us as sinners, and their lives changed.

My mind could not help but travel back in time to 1989.

Ironically, on February 5th that year, the day before the snowmobile accident, we had been to a relative’s home for Sunday dinner. As we left the home, Kristin had contemplated the classic painting hanging on the wall beside their door of the dog standing over an injured lamb in the snow. In the waiting room, I remembered that scene and realized Kristin was like the lamb with her Protector watching over her……and so was I, a lamb forgiven, protected, and loved, in the arms of Jesus.

A copy of that painting still hangs on “Kristin’s” bedroom wall in our home – a reminder of Who watches over us.

Isaiah 40:11 – “He tends His flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

John 10:11 – Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.”

“Heed the Signals”

23 Jul

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted anything; but this morning’s reading in a small collection of Max Lucado’s meditations is priceless and I don’t want to forget it.

(And I don’t even know if it’s allowable to reprint without seeking permission.  Meantime, application to our lives is completely advisable and eternally beneficial.)

Taken from Max Lucado’s book, The Eye of the Storm, selected and printed in the inspirational book “Grace for the Moment” –

“Here are some God-given, time-tested truths that define the way you should navigate your life.  Observe them and enjoy secure passage.  Ignore them and crash against the ragged rocks of reality…:

*  Love God more than you fear hell.

*  Make major decisions in a cemetery.

*  When no one is watching, live as if someone is.

*  Succeed at home first.

*  Don’t spend tomorrow’s money today.

*  Pray twice as much as you fret.

*  God has forgiven you; you’d  be wise to do the same.

 

Ecclesiastes 12:12:  “Honor God and obey His commands, because this is all people must do.”

 

Three Quotes

26 May

“Speak kind words.

Receive kind echoes.”  – Author Unknown

 

“What we love usually manages to get into our conversation.  What is down in the well of the heart will come up in the bucket of speech.”  – Vance Havner

 

“…For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” – Jesus (Matthew 12:34b)