Survival

ATwo of my grandsons make survival bracelets. Like their entreprenaur mother, they manage to sell them. Made of paracord, the reason to have one of these bracelets if you hike and explore, is that the powerful paracord may be able to rescue one from peril!

Today, right now, there are Christians who are under fire because they have stood for their faith in Jesus Christ. We cry in dismay for them and for our own religious freedom in our own beloved United States of America. Any time satanic forces can snatch away a Christian Believer’s freedom, it will happen. Even if the freedom is lost temporarily, and courts prevail, it still delights the forces of the enemies of God.

Today the forces of radical terrorist followers of Islam are shooting rockets of demolition into the country of Israel. Those terrorists have one desire: to annihilate Jews. Yet, from the days of the initial promise to Abraham in Genesis 12, the Hebrew nation has survived. It has not been easy and there were years of captivity because a great percentage of Jews turned from God to idols. When reading through the Prophets, we see repeatedly that God always left Himself a remnant. From that remnant who continued faithfulness to Mosaic Law, God built a nation.

These two truths filled my heart and mind this morning when I read Acts 28:22. The great Apostle Paul had freshly heard the pronouncement of his own imprisonment in Rome. Part of the message is a phrase in verse 22: “. . . for as concerning this sect [Christians] we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” Everywhere. How did Christianity survive? It is the power of the Word of God. God keeps His promises. The Ottoman Empire wiped out thousands of Christians, yet, Christianity survived.

This week a woman persecuted and sentenced to death in Sudan was released. Meriam Ibrahim, who stood through horrid torture, would not renounce her Christian faith. God won a victory. For that we should shout in unity “Hallelujah!” Praise the Lord for the power of the Word of God, handed to everyone, everywhere, from the hands of faithful Jews. What a Book! On the flyleaf of my personal Bible is this quote from Dr. Charles Stanley: “Open your Bible prayerfully; read it carefully; obey is joyfully.”

Remember Me?

More often than I want to admit, I meet people whom I knew twenty years ago or more and instead of introducing themselves in a gracious way, they say, “Remember me?” I weakly reply, “You look familiar but. . .” Now, some people just don’t change with age and if I taught them for a number of years, I do remember them. Others, not so much.

Readers, I have a request. Introduce yourself to long ago acquaintances by saying, “You might not remember me, but I . . .” and let the person graciously reply with, “Oh, I do remember!” It is just good manners.

One way to remember people is to pray for them regularly. At least their name is before you, and it reminds you of times you experienced with them. Take an interest in people. The more you know about a person’s likes and dislikes, the more apt you are to remember them, even if years pass between your meetings.

One thing I know for sure, Jesus knows me. He has my best interests in mind. He knows me better than I know myself. I will never have to walk into His presence and ask, “Remember me?”

In my old, old Scofield Bible I have this little rhyme written that someone quoted in some class or chapel:

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim,
He gives the very best to those,
Who leave the choice to Him.

You may be wondering, however, if you really can have that kind of relationship. Of course you can. Jesus is as near as calling on His name. He is waiting to hear from you. It has now been 56 years ago since I had my first conversation with Jesus. He was there then when I called on His name, confessed that I was a sinner, and accepted His gift of salvation. In simple faith, you can do the same. Ephesians 2:8-9 give the directive: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.” He knows you now, He will remember you always.

The List: More on Remember

Grandchildren are good teachers but of course, I must also have a teachable spirit.

When I suggested that she put a stray lip gloss in her purse so she would not lose it, Kamryn immediately fetched a purse with many pockets that once belonged to my mother. One by one, my granddaughter pulled items out of the many pockets. Comb, mirror, bracelets, a necklace, a tissue, and then with all seriousness she pulled out a folded piece of paper and announced: “This is my list.”

I curiously wondered what her list included since she is a mere four years old.
“So, what do you have on your list?” I asked as she carefully unfolded it.

“It’s my shopping list, so I won’t forget what I need.” She was so serious I also had to be very serious. I expected to see childish loops and dashes but instead, I saw actual grocery items. The list had been my daughter’s grocery list and I suppose she let Kamryn hold it to keep her occupied.

Like the list in Kamryn’s purse, we have a list too. We carry it in our heart. Item one on the list is: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Nine other items are on that list. Don’t lose that list because none of those items have ever been crossed off. You will find that list, in case you do not know about them, or in case you need a review, in Exodus chapter 20.

Just think of what a good world we would occupy if only everyone carried that List and checked it regularly.

Remember

The word, remember, appears in the Bible 210 times according for the search at Bible Gateway. The word, remembrance, its noun relative, is found another 53 times. When I first thought about the word recently, it did not occur to me the many connotations that the word conjures. At first impulse, it would be the first word in an imperative sentence.

So, put to the test, what is the first thought that remember brings to mind? “Remember the Alamo!” or “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.”

A lonely soldier sitting on his cot may think, “I wonder if my friends remember me?”

An upper rank executive may sit in his office wondering if the employees ever remember what he has afforded them, or do they just complain and beg for more.

Cold grave markers give way to memory just by the inscription of the years of birth and death. With a lonely voice they seem to say, “Do you remember me?”

In our lonely moments, here’s a verse: “And God remembered Noah. . .” (Genesis 8:1) The fact is, God never forgot Noah. While Noah was floating on the sea of waters over the earth, Noah had no idea of when he was going to get out of the ark. He sure hoped, you can well think, that he was going to see land again. One hundred fifty days after the gully washing flood washed them above all land, God gave Noah hope. God remembered.

David cried out to God on many occasions, “Remember me. . .” as if God could forget. We forget. God does not forget.

I am not through with this subject. I will return. I will remember to continue! This is a mere introduction.

Threading the Needle

Macular degeneration in my case means I have to have good light in order to read or do things that require keen eyesight. However, if there is a glare, it is equally difficult. It is the nature of my “hard-of-seeing” status. Without the innovative tool on my computer that magnifies what I am reading, or writing, I would not be able to use a computer at all.

Saturdaya mending job was imperative. The sewing machine would be necessary. Well, it didn’t matter what color thread was on the machine because all the stitching would be on the inside. The machine was threaded with a khaki color on the top and light pink on the bottom. Big stuff was done: the machine was threaded.

A little more than half way through the mending job—you guess it—the top thread broke. Pulling aside the fabric, at first I attempted to rethread the needle with only the use of my trifocals.

Failure.

Next step: find my 3X magnifying glass.

Even with the magnification, I could not see the hole in the needle!

I stopped. I prayed, “Father, I can’t even see the hole in the needle, please help me.”

Next attempt: Success! Still, I did not see the hole; the thread just found its way.

It is one of those times when I know that I prayed about something that absolutely no one else could have possibly prayed on my behalf. God guided my fingers to do an impossible task.

Dear Ones reading this: Nothing is too difficult for God. Luke 1:37 is just one place of many references to that fact.

If this were the first time this happened, I probably would not have mentioned it. This is the second time within a month this has happened. Just here to brag on my Amazing Shepherd!

Courage and the Green Family and Hobby Lobby

httI had another subject ready to post today but this is far more important. What Rebecca Hamilton, now recently retired from the OK State Representatives, has to say in regard to the Greens.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2014/06/the-greens-of-hobby-lobby-one-family-with-courage-is-a-majority/

I agree with her wholeheartedly. What the Greens courageously did was stand for Jesus and Jesus stood by them in setting a Supreme Court predecent case for religious liberty. I think I must need something from Hobby Lobby this week! I’m sure I do!

The Sub-Contractor

As in so many of these posts, I find observations from everyday life. Here is another one. In order to see these things, one must connect daily with the Good Shepherd. That is also the reason for the title of this blog: The Shepherd’s Presence.

My daughter and I live a mere half mile from each other. It is handy for both of us to be able to help one another on a regular basis. She runs a small business out of her home making hair bows. Her store, an on-line store run by Etsy, is run on a national basis. Nearly every day she has orders that need to be mailed to faraway places. The local post office knows her by name and has the mailing instructions memorized now!

Generally her oldest son, who has a driver’s license, makes the daily run of hair bow orders. He likes to drive, the ladies at the post office like him, and my daughter does not have to load up all the children just to make a post office run. This week, however, Kevin had another obligation so he called me. Smart boy. He knows how to sub contract! By now the post office ladies also know me. “What’s Kevin up to today?” they ask, and I give them friendly information while they process the packages.

As I left the post office, it occurred to me that my mission on Kevin’s behalf is not unlike my mission to take the Gospel message with purpose whether I am leaving a leaflet of information about the Bible and the message of Christ’s love or if I am praying for far off missionaries, or my local congregation of fellow believers. Jesus compels us to be ambassadors, not with boxes of hairbows, but with the ministry of reconciliation. That is a subcontractor job we must take seriously. II Corinthians 5:20, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ. . .”

Nemo and Me

According to the brief program guide, Finding Nemo was released in 2003. Eleven years after release, I finally watch it. Why? Call it channel surfing.

Just to refresh your memories, Nemo is captured as a baby clown fish and lives in an aquarium in a dentist’s office. His father, and a companion, Dorrie, are determined to find the little fellow. They have one smidgen of direction found on a swim mask. They go through many hazards and find unique help along the way. Nemo is the means of escape from the aquarium. Comic relief is abundant and the story ends with literary justice.

Two elements that interested me also have scriptural connotations. When Nemo bravely swims up the filter tube to clog the filter the leader of the fish tells the other fish that soon the aquarium will be dirty; it will have to be cleaned and when they are out of the aquarium they can make the great escape back into the ocean. He tells them to help the dirty conditions out by thinking dirty thoughts. “Think dirty thoughts and soon it will be dirty.” Proverbs 23:7 teaches “As he thinketh in his heart, so he is. . .” Many youth pastors tell the teens “garbage in, garbage out.”

Then there is Dorrie. Yes, she is a bit dingy and can hardly remember her own name, but she is an encourager. Her theme, “Keep swimming, keep swimming” follows through right to the climax when she is accidentally caught in a fishing net. Nemo, small enough to swim into the net for rescue tells the whole net of fish to keep swimming down and as they do, they manage to break the tow ropes and are freed. Undoubtedly this week I will have the opportunity more than once to tell someone to “keep swimming.”

When we walk in the Shepherd’s presence, we can learn even from a cartoon movie. We need to know God’s Word, and sense His presence to see His ways; they are always before us.

Pedometers, Rhubarb, and Parking Space

Recently someone gave me a zucchini. It was not too small, and not too large. I like that size. It was such a kind gesture for someone to just give me abundance from the garden. Thinking back, in the last two weeks I have had the smallest of gestures awarded me! Rhubarb from a garden left at the Active Adult Center to whomever to take, and a small pedometer in my birthday sack, are tokens of generosity.

One day when I came home I noticed a nice empty space in my carport. The person who had left a personal item there had finally come to take it back. I really did want that corner of the carport and now it is mine again.

Best of all, my girls pooled their money and bought me a three-wheeled pedal “bike.” The three-wheelers are so much safer for me since my balance has been deteriorating with age, and it is wonderful for exercise. It was given out of love for me. It was “new to me” meaning second-hand, but in lovely condition.

When God’s Word tells us to be “thankful in everything.” (I Thessalonians 5:18) it means just that: thankful to rhubarb, zucchini, and even parking space. It is that uneventful and safe trip, and a day free of arthritic distress, and even farm fresh eggs. It is the welcoming hug from a resident at the local nursing home, and the tears of compassion felt by a praying friend.

I am thankful.

Are you?

Jehoiachin

Jehoiachin is the great-grandson of good King Josiah. He came to the throne as King when he was a mere eight years old. It was during his father’s reign that Judah was conquered by Persia and many of the inhabitants of Judah were taken captive to Babylon. You will relate the prophet, Daniel, to this time line.

Not much is given of his history in II Chronicles, in fact, just two verses: chapter 36 and verses 9 and 10. The length of his reign was a mere three months and ten days. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiachin to Babylon and appointed his brother, Zedekiah to stay in Jerusalem; He was designed to be a puppet king.

Here is what is amazing. At the age of eight years old, Jehoiachin is described as evil! A child, yet evil. I tend to think of second grade students as cute, mischievous, but not evil. Well, not always. A child left to himself will bring shame to his parents. We are all born a sinful person who needs redemption which was paid by faith in Christ. In the Old Testament our redemption was paid by faith in a sacrifice that looked forward to the Cross and now in our time since the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, our redemption is paid by looking back to the Cross.

Jehoiachin was evil by choice: his own choice and by his sinful nature inherited from Adam’s fall. Parents need to faithfully teach the Word of God and walk according to its principles. Learn from Jehoiachin’s fate. The little we know about him tells us volumes.

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