Because He Lives

This morning at our weekly sing time at our local senior center. we had the privilege of having a very accomplished piano player as a special treat.  She is accomplished, but plays only hymns, gospel songs, and patriotic music.  That suits me fine and I appreciate her stance on music. Marion is a solid rock Believer.

About three songs in we sang, “Something Beautiful” and the person sitting next to me mentioned that she loved the old song book hymns but she also was partial to Gaither songs.  I do too and nodded in agreement.  We sang some lively and some worshipful and some classics.  As usual, we end with the same song we sing each week.

As an after though, Marion asked us to sing one more.  My heart was already stirred by the words we had been singing, and now she added, “Because He Lives.”  The words struck my heart with a gripping sense of mixed emotions.  The verse that starts, “How sweet to hold a newborn baby. . .” grabbed at my heart like never before.  It’s been seven years since I held a newborn baby, my youngest granddaughter.  During that flashing moment of memory, tears spilled down my cheeks unbidden.  I couldn’t stop them.  Jesus has been my only hope for many years and I truly hope I have passed that hope on to my children and now my grandchildren.  Without the living Christ who conquered death and in the words of the song, “. . .as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the gates of Glory . . .”

Gloria Gaither did a wonderful thing when she penned those words.
Take a moment to listen to them, and silence all the motion around you letting the truth of them sink in. Because Jesus lives, I can face the uncertain future.  Take courage, my friend.

Here is the story of the song in Gloria Gaither’s own words.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJgzd__SSBY

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A Woman of Courage (Book Review)

This 322-page book is written by one of my favorite authors, Wanda Brunstetter.  It is a 2014 copyright by Shiloh Run Press, an imprint of Barbour Books, Uhrichvbille, OH.

Brunstetter is, in my opinion, the original Amish fiction writers.  She wrote Amish fiction before it was trendy.  Like her counterpart, Beverly Lewis, she writes with depth I find lacking in so much of the Amish fiction today.  This is a stand-alone book and fortunately for me, I captured the book for my e reader when it as a mere 99 cents.  It is now about ten times that much on Amazon as of today.

A Woman of Courage does not feature an Amish person as the protagonist.  Instead, the protagonist is a young woman of Quaker faith.  The opening two chapters lead the reader to think this book features a predictable plot and I almost set it aside.  Each chapter after that introduces a new and interesting character right up until almost the end of the book.  The characters are well developed and complex in nature.  The plot takes on a life of its own as well.  Just when the reader things nothing else difficult can possibly happen, well, think again!  If I were to tell you that at the end it is all packaged up into a neat little package, I might be misleading you!

If you choose only one Brunstetter book to read, choose this one.  It is delightful and tantalizing and spell binding  all at the same time. It is the sort of book that I keep to read again sometime if I am laid up with a broken bone.  There is no way I’ll remember exactly how the plot moved along.  I call it a “keeper.”

 

America is too Young to Die

Here’s an excerpt from the “End of the Day” report that Gary L. Bauer e mails Monday through Fridays to my in box.  It is something to consider whether you are of either political persuasion.  Ask yourself, “Why?”  I have more to say at the end of the article.

A Real Scandal

Secretary of Defense James Mattis responded to North Korea’s latest ICBM test by saying, “The military remains ready . . . to provide options if they are necessary.” One of those options may include bolstering the THAAD missile defense system President Trump recently dispatched to South Korea.

While we are talking a good game, and there have been a couple of successful missile defense tests, the truth is that our ability to reliably stop a nuclear attack is stillvery uncertain, especially if there were multiple launches.

There are two reason why this is true. The most obvious reason is that it is not easy to hit a bullet with another bullet. But the more relevant reason is political.

When Ronald Reagan announced his idea for a space-based defense system to end the mad doctrine of “Mutually Assured Destruction,” the left and its media allies denounced and mocked it as “Star Wars.” Every year since, the left has done everything possible to delay or kill the program.

The left has opposed even the limited systems we currently have. For example, Obama demonstrated his promised “flexibility” to Vladimir Putin by canceling the deployment of a missile defense system to Eastern Europe in an effort to appease the Russians. (Yet the left accuses Trump of being “Putin’s puppet.”)

Here we are decades after Reagan left office — with Iran and North Korea making major technological advances — and we still don’t have a reliable missile defense because of the left’s resistance. It is no accident that the media never provides the American people with the truth — that conservatives have pushed for a robust missile defense while Democrats have left us defenseless.

I think it is scandalous that one political party has stood in the way of a truly effective missile shield. I think that is a much bigger scandal than whether someone in Russia hacked John Podesta’s emails or whether Donald Trump posted a funny video of himself wrestling “CNN” to the ground.

If the media were doing their job, the American people would know why we are in this fix, and that would be very bad for the left.

*** My take on this:

This is what happens to a people who are more interested in the material needs for a population than they are the spiritual needs. The “left” is always crying out for tax dollars to go to social programs rather than defense.

There must be a balance and Jesus showed that balance perfectly in His life of service here on earth.  He fed the multitudes, healed the sick, raised the dead, comforted his disciples along with multitudes of other people, and at the same time, fed them spiritually.  In the end, Jesus went to the cross to pay the penalty for sin.  There is no greater gift than to give one’s own life for someone else.

Just recently President Trump made an amazing statement when he said, “. . .in America we do not worship government; we worship God.”  O if that were only true.  A much too large faction of our current population worship idols of self, music, movies, money, and on and on the list goes.
So, is there a solution?  Yes!  It is one word:  repentance.  The answer is found in the oft quoted II Chronicles 7:14 “If my people which are called my name [believing Christians] shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

While rioting in the streets gets more and more wretched, it is up to the people who are called by God’s name, to not strike out in the streets in like manner, but to seek the face of God and call down God’s mercy and grace on our land.  Remember Elijah?

It is only by the hand of God that the “left” will turn to the “right-eous.”

Please.  Put down the electronics, turn off the television, and fall on your faces for such a harvest of repentance.  Our attitude needs to be for the spiritual needs of a lost people though, not just so we can have things better.  We must spend time in the Shepherd’s Presence. America is too young to die.

 

To receive the “End of the Day” report, contact garybauer@cwfpac.com

 

 

An Ax to Grind

Why, I ask, after listening to the press briefing with Sean Spicer today, why does the press act as if Otto Warmbier has been treated as if murdered?  No one, but several reporters, tried to get Spicer to say something that he was not about to say.

So, I’ll say my opinion.  I did some research.  Otto Warmbier was no dummy.  He graduated second highest in his high school class.  He was a junior at the University of Virginia.  But, alas, book learning and common sense do not walk hand in hand.  Where he received his money for foreign travels is unknown to me, but I presuppose that he may have been using college money for adventure.

He fell for an advertisement in China for ten-day trips to North Korea.  The line in the brochure said, “Take the trip your parents don’t want you to take.”  So, he took the ten-day trip to the forbidden land of North Korea anyhow.  He launched the trip from China.

Whether he took the poster he was accused of taking and then misusing it is not certain.  Do Communist countries tell the truth?  They have no conscience that is guided by any moral principles.  The country has a reputation for disregarding human rights.  Warmbier put himself in danger.  He suffered the consequences.

In America, he would have been deported with a slap on the wrist.  Maybe.  He would not have been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.  That is one thing I know for sure.  Americans burn our flag and get away with it, after all.  We hold dear freedom of speech.  Communists do not care about such things. Surly Warmbier knew he was taking a serious risk to even visit North Korea. He was not only American, he was a Jewish American.  Communists hate both.

As we sow, we shall reap.  The Bible teachers that principle.  Even if it were not in the Bible, where I plant sunflower seeds, I do expect sunflowers to grow.  It is common sense. I do not expect orchids.  The fact that the Apostle Paul taught about sowing and reaping makes it even more powerful.  Taken in context with verse7 (Galatians 6) it teaches us that God is not mocked.  Verse 8 drives the truth home: “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

While I do not intend to speak evil of the dead, I must say, I think some sowing and reaping has taken place.  Let’s all learn from it.

Further, let’s be careful to teach our children and grandchildren to use common sense.  Not in the Bible, but there is the adage, “Some men go where angels fear to tread.”  Not me.  My daddy has been in Heaven since 1987 but so often I hear his words of admonition and if Daddy said, “Don’t go there. . .” I’d still obey!  Daddy didn’t rear a fool.

 

A Little of This; A Dab of That

Last was a week of interest.  As a result of meanderings last week, I present a few scattered thoughts.

The week started Sunday after church when a charming, good looking grandson picked me up along with his girlfriend and took me to lunch at an oriental food place.  Good food and good company.  His work scholarship job could begin this summer and that is exactly what he is doing so he left for Pensacola Christian College on Friday.  Christmas seems as if it is a long way off, and it is his first college experience.  You would do him and me a favor if you stopped right now and whispered a prayer for him.

The landscaping project that started last summer continues into this summer and I am making slow but steady progress.  I am thankful for patient neighbors who don’t seem to care about the barren spots.  I promise them it will look much fuller and prettier next summer.  To make something better, sometimes we must tear it apart.  God does that with our lives from time to time too.

My long-time friend came an hour trip to see me and take me to lunch this week.  We enjoy a close friendship.  It is the kind that when we get together, sometimes months apart, we resume our conversation as if there had been no interval of space.  She graciously took me some places that the bus does not go, and one of them was a new store with a wonderful garden section.  Yes, I brought home a plant.  We both agreed that a weed is just a plant that is out of place.

Psalm 46 would not leave me, but I wanted to start a three-week series of devotionals on Moses at my local Active Adult Center.  So, I finally decided that the word refuge and refugee describes the Hebrews in Egypt.  It worked together beautifully.  Thinking on it, we are all just refugees in this world.  It is not my home.  I’m just passing through.

On Friday Kamryn and I spent the entire day and night together.  There is nothing quite like spending an extended period with a seven-year old.  We rode the bus to find shopping, played word games while we waited places, found bubbles for outside play, and had 24 hours of no electronics or movies. We did attempt to watch a television show in bed, but we both fell asleep.  Yes, it was tiring for this old body of mine, but how I want to savor her company and not just simply set her aside to entertain herself with some gadget or gizmo.  I enjoy every arrow in my grandmother quiver.

Wrap:  as the title states, this is just a little of this and a dab of that but put together made a wonderful week.  My week also included favorable results from bloodwork.  The coming week includes a visit to the retinaologist.  Miracles abound all around me and I bet, they are around your life too.  You may think it is ordinary, but really, it is full of extraordinary happenings when viewed from God’s prospective.

What Would You Do?

With test results in hand, the doctor solemnly looks at his patient and says, “It is acute leukemia.  You have approximately two weeks to live.”

This is not a hypothetical question.  Those words were spoken to an acquaintance of mine over the weekend.  Loreen has about two weeks left of her life.  Pastor announced it in church last night, and again this morning I heard the words again from a leader at the Senior Center.  Jan, a friend of mine said this: “I would gather every child, grandchild, and great-grandchild around me and tell them not to feel sorry for me. I am packed for Heaven.  Jesus paid my way and has a place waiting for me.  I want you all to know that you can know that you have a place in Heaven.”

Knowing myself as I do, whenever I get ready for a trip even if it for only a few days, I clean the refrigerator, change the bed, get the laundry all done, and make sure details are in order.  I want someone to check the mail for me, and feed the hamster.  If I were leaving permanently, as Loreen will, I’d give as much away as I could and leave things uncluttered.  The only time I’ll leave things in disarray is if Jesus should suddenly appear in that rapturous, glorious appearing to carry His own people away before the earth’s final destruction.  Spiritually, I’ll be ready, but the kitchen floor may need to be swept, and the bed made!

When it comes to the end, it is then we realize that this world holds nothing of lasting value. Nothing.  Everything of value has gone on before and even then, it may not be much.

The words of I John 5:12-13 are more precious than ever: “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.  These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”  My days are numbered, and reader, so are yours.

The reality for Believers is that we should always be ready to “pray, preach or die at a moment’s notice.”   I wish I could give credit to the person who coined that phrase.

If you received the same news as Loreen, what would you do?

Admiration

For the past two days I have been observing the construction of a new concrete driveway across the street.  On Saturday I saw a tree come down to make room for a wider driveway and that is a skill all its own too.  Then yesterday the bed was laid by taking out the old driveway.

Those men know how to drive those machines, how to dig the bed, how deep to dig the bed, how to measure it with exactness, and just how much gravel to lay.  Today the final forms were set and filled.  The cement truck knows how to unload the wet concrete and the men know how to smooth it all out. Tonight, they are putting the finishing touches on the drive and as I type this they are loading up the Bobcat and other tools and heading out, probably to do it all over tomorrow somewhere else.

I have absolutely no spiritual application for this post.  Only utmost respect for skilled men who do these unappreciated jobs day and day out.  They provided for their families through labor that few people really know how to do.

Hats off to our construction workers whether they are framing a house or pouring a foundation, or laying miles of electrical wires, or fitting pipes for plumbing.  They are smart, hard-working guys.

And I salute Mike Rowe for knowing the value of American labor regardless of what the job is at hand. He understands the nobleness of simple dedication to doing a job correctly and passes his inspiration along on his own blog site.

Maybe I’ll think of these guys on Labor Day this year.  In case I don’t think of them then, let’s all remember to appreciate those who work for us. I walked across the street tonight and thanked them for their diligent work.  They don’t get enough compliments, of that I am sure.

A verse does come to mind:  Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

Jellybeans

Easter and jellybeans seem to go hand in hand.  While I no longer have baskets to fill, still, I buy jellybeans.  Why?  I like them.  Most jellybeans are a mere ten calories each and eaten in moderation give just that little sweetness for which I yearn.  This year I bought two bags of the fascinating treats and since they were a brand I usually like, I did not notice one thing:  the bags included black jellybeans.  I don’t care for the licorice taste.  The red ones are my favorite flavor.  Just pop in a red jelly bean and let the coating slowly melt on the tongue, then lastly, devour the jelly part last.

I eat my jellybeans one color at a time.  Never do I reach into the candy dish and just grab whatever comes into my hand.   You guessed it, usually the last ones in the dish are the licorice flavored beans.  This year, however, I left myself four red jellybeans for the last morsels to consume.  That was yesterday.

Predictably, the consumption of my seasonal candy is much like my Bible reading.  I choose and plan how to read my Bible through every few months.  Never have I read it Genesis to Revelation straight through.  On the other hand, neither do I read it randomly a little here and a little there.

The tried and true motto is “Plan your work; work your plan.”  That goes for just about everything.  If I did not ride my bike in a planned way, it would gather dust.  If I did not plan to make my bed, I would be sleeping in a tangled mess of sheets and blankets and wonder why I am restless.  So, I eat my jellybeans according to a plan leaving the choicest morsels until the last.  Eat a few of the licorice beans now and then to get them out of the way.  Read Numbers, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon sandwiched between the delectable readings of Psalms, John, and I Samuel.

As you might guess, I also have a handy chart on which to put a slash mark through each chapter read so I can see my progress, and at the same time, not leave something out unintentionally.

Do you have a favorite flavor of jellybean?  Do you have a favorite book of the Bible?    Talk to me.

Trust

 

“To trust God in the light is nothing. 

To trust God in the dark, that is faith.”  

C. H. Spurgeon

Please pray for a little girl, 10 years old, who was diagnosed with lung cancer this week.  Her name is Elana.

Were You There?

        The Negro Spiritual song, “Were you There” evokes our senses to the death, burial, and rising again of Jesus, our Lord.  The tune is a mournful sound and the meter is slow moving.  The stirring words:  sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble almost causes one to want to shun the whole experience as just too depressing.  Ah, but without the remembrance we tend to skip through life as if Calvary cost Jesus little. If only at the Easter season we deliberately return to Golgotha, the Garden tomb, and the mount of Ascension it should stir the heart of Believers.  It should cause the unbeliever’s heart to tremble in repentance.  It should cause the believing heart to tremble with responsibility.

If you journal, use all of your senses as you witness the scene on Golgotha.  Matthew 27:27-50

What do you hear?  What do you see?  What do you smell?  Do you taste anything?  Is touch affected?

The Garden Tomb    Matthew 28:1-6. John 20:1-18

What do you hear?  What do you see?  What do you smell?  Do you taste anything?  Is touch affected?

Then move to the place where the disciples met the same evening of the Resurrection. John 20:19-28

Search the face of those in the room, think of how they feel emotionally and spiritually.  What decisions are being made in that room?

With all  those senses you have just used, now relate to   Galatians 2:20

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who love d me and gave Himself for me.”

Yes, it will take time to complete this exercise.  Time well worth the spending.  Spending time in the presence of the Good Shepherd is always tme well spent.