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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Changing Faces

Botox. Dermabrasion. Fillers. Plastic surgery. Skin brighteners. Peels. 

I saw a friend of mine after maybe ten years. She looked absolutely fantastic! I know she is older than I am, so I commented to another lady how great Kathy* looked. She laughed and said that Kathy had actually needed a certain surgery, and she decided, while they were at it, to get a little bit of help on the rest of her face. I assure you the results were so natural that I had no idea.

There’s a newscaster on a certain international station. I call her “the Botox queen.” She has erased every line that she ever had. When she raises her eyebrows, there are no creases. She smiles, and nothing happens. It is amazing! She’s not only erased her lines; she’s done away with her expressions!

We see before and after photos—I’m still not convinced of their authenticity. They’re people who have either had procedures done or have used skin brighteners. Of course, each one looks many years younger . . . fantastic . . . youthful.

Celebrities often have work done. I recently viewed a Fox News report about celebrity women. Some completely redid their lips. Some almost look grotesque. (Have you ever seen a fish?)

I can think of two male politicians—make that three—who have had major facelifts. One ended up with a crooked nose. (It’s a little bit sad. What’s wrong with a few wrinkles? I think wrinkles would be better than a crooked nose!)

Now, I’m kinda laughing. But, don’t get me wrong.

Every thinking woman my age looks in the mirror and decides where they might change something—if they dared. If they could have a guarantee for perfectly “natural” results and had the money to do it . . . . I’m certainly not judging motivations.

But, that’s not what this blog post is about.

It is about facial changes, but not the ones that come through scrubs, injections, knives, and stitches.

It’s about the change in a face that comes from the heart. Imagine being so close to the Lord that your face literally shines! I am fascinated by two biblical men with glowing faces:
  1. Old Testament, Moses—When he came down off of the mountain, his face shone so brightly that people were afraid to get near him. (Exodus 34:30) The Bible says, And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone (Exodus 34:35a). Moses actually put a veil over his face, so that he could speak to the people. (34:33, 35) Moses’ shining face is also referenced in 2 Corinthians 3:7, 13.
  2. New Testament, Stephen—This preacher of the gospel is also known as the first Christian martyr. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6:15).

Do you want a shining face?
  • Pray. Leave your burdens with the Lord.
    Hannah wanted a child badly. She prayed so fervently that the high priest Eli thought she must be drunk. After Hannah and Eli talked, Hannah was at peace. And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad (1 Samuel 1:18).
  • Have a right heart before God.
    David was a handsome young man, but his heart was even more beautiful than his face. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
  • Enjoy your blessings.
    When Job spoke of his life before all of his trials, he said of his friends, If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down (Job 29:24). Psalm 104 begins, Bless the LORD, O my soul. Then, it launches into a listing of God’s blessings, including: And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart (104:15).
  • Praise.
    The psalmist said, hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God (Psalm 43:5).
  • Don’t sorrow unnecessarily.
    A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken (Proverbs 15:13).
  • Have friends that will encourage you spiritually.
    Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).
  • Get wisdom.
    Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man’s wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed (Ecclesiastes 8:1).

Have you ever known a Christian who was glowing? Someone who shows on his face that he loves God? Someone who rarely frowns because he walks in the joy of the Lord? Someone who has problems like everyone else, but seems to give them all to God and live victoriously? People who walk with God have beautiful faces!

They don’t have perfect Botox faces. Their lips and noses haven’t necessarily been rearranged. Their crow’s feet are still showing. But they glow!

There’s something to be said for this kind of beauty.

It’s the everlasting kind. 
            *Of course, not her real name. “Kathy’s” secret is my secret.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quiet Time in the Seasons of Life

When I was in college, I got up early to read my Bible and pray. My Christian college let us get up at 5:30 a.m. It was very quiet until near 7:00 when a bell rang. It was the perfect time for Bible study and prayer.

. . . Or not.

I sat out in the hallway, Bible open on my lap. I started to talk to the Lord. Zonk! Out like a light. The only blessing I got was extra sleep.

I tried this day after day with the same result. I was so frustrated for not being able to successfully greet God in the morning.

Then, I heard a short talk by a lady professor that changed my life. She said something like this, “Choose your best time for the Lord. Some people are morning people, and some people are night people. When is the time that you are awake, alert, and able to commune with God?”

I already knew my worst time!

I started choosing the least roommate-disturbed morning hours for my quiet time. It worked! I could have a good talk with my Lord, stay awake, and really get something from the Word. It became my practice throughout my college years.

I got married soon after graduation. Life changed drastically. Now, I was job-hunting, keeping house, learning to cook, and I had a husband.

A year later, my sister-in-law moved in with us, followed by a different sister-in-law and a soon-to-be brother-in-law (one at a time). I worked full-time, plus part-time work in the evenings. To say I was busy was an understatement. My husband was in grad school, and I was typing his papers. We were also getting our feet wet in various church ministries. It was crazy!  

It was hard to find any time for consistent devotions. I would seize whatever minutes I had, sometimes right before work started, or late at night. My quiet time was more snatch and grab than steady and deliberate. My prayer life was probably more like “Help!” and “Please, Lord” than effective and fervent. I certainly didn’t do Bible study.

Then came deputation, including our first baby. Oddly enough, I had more time. I wasn’t running all over the city, trying to do a hundred things at once. My husband was out of school, and even though our lives weren’t anything close to normal—deputation is not normal—we had more time to dedicate to Bible memorization, meditation, prayer, and Bible study. Plus, we were constantly being fed the Word in missions conferences.

When Baby came, I found feeding times were perfect for reading the Bible and praying.

Then came Baby 2. A toddler and a baby! I learned to use their naptimes for Bible reading and prayer. This worked well.

I homeschooled. This means I had my children at home, with me, all the time. This also means that, without structure, I never would have found moments alone with God. Kids are demanding. They want time, attention, time, and attention. (And they should get it!) The children should also understand that Mommy needs her date with God, daily. I found that my best time was after our midday meal’s dishes were washed, before the afternoon activities got underway. My best place for quiet was in my bedroom with the door closed. (Matthew 6:6) The kids learned not to disturb when my door was closed. This is the stage of my life when I really got to know God.

I poured my heart out to God. I feasted on the Word. I enjoyed this time so much that I began to thirst for it.

Now, the kids are grown. The schoolbooks belong to others. Life is quieter than I’ve ever known it. It’s called the “empty nest.” (Funny term! I still have a delightful husband and a funny old dog. The nest isn’t exactly empty!) I no longer taxi my kids from place to place. I have much more time to think, to write, to pray, to study.

Probably, you saw yourself in one of my seasons. Maybe you are the young mother with toddler and baby. Maybe you have school-aged kids. Maybe you’re the young woman who works—a lot. Maybe you work and have a family. And maybe, like me, you’re in your grown-children years. (I like that term better than “empty nest.”)

            When is your best daily time for being with God?
            Where is your best place—somewhere that you can be alone, in quiet?

Whatever stage of life you’re in, make it your priority to get to know the Lord, to develop your personal relationship with Him. If you haven’t already, commit to a daily time with God. When is your best time, and where is your quiet place? Do it! You will never, ever regret it!

But it is good for me to draw near to God:
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.
(Psalm 73:28)

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:2a).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Joses Barnabas: The Encourager

Some people in the Bible play “minor” roles but are very, very important to the larger picture. I think Barnabas is one of those people.

Here are some of the facts about him:
  • His name was really Joses, but the apostles gave him the surname (nickname) Barnabas, which means “the son of consolation.” (Acts 4:36)
  • He was a Jew, a Levite. (Acts 4:36)
  • He was from Cyprus. (Acts 4:36)
  • Barnabas ministered with: the Apostle Paul, John Mark, Simeon (Niger), Lucius, Manaen, Judas Barsabas, Titus, and Silas.
  • He was a bold preacher. (Acts 13:43, 46) 

Barnabas’ character traits are revealed in his actions. Let’s look at them:
  • He sold his land and gave all the money to the apostles for their general fund. (Acts 4:37)
  • When Saul was recently saved, had started preaching, had escaped a death threat, Saul (later called Paul) wanted to join up with the disciples in Jerusalem. They are afraid of him, because, not so long ago, he persecuted the church. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. (Acts 9:26-27)
  • The church in Jerusalem heard of the people being saved in Antioch, and they sent Barnabas there. He went and got Saul and took him with him to Antioch. This is what is said about the character of Barnabas: Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord (Acts 11:23-24).
  • John Mark, Barnabas’ nephew, got to go on several mission trips with his uncle Barnabas. (Acts 12:25; 15:37-39) John Mark had the opportunity to learn first-hand from the Apostle Paul as well as from his faithful uncle. John Mark abandoned the mission, and Paul was very disappointed in him, so much so that he didn’t want him along on a later missionary voyage. Here, Barnabas and Paul had a difference of opinion. In fact, the Bible says the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus (Acts 15:39). God used this second chance in the life of John Mark, who later wrote the book of Mark in the New Testament.
  • Barnabas served in the church at Antioch alongside men from different nationalities and ethnic backgrounds. (Acts 13:1)
  • He was ordained with Paul to the ministry of the gospel and traveled with him. (Acts 13:2)
  • He preached (with Paul) to both Jews and Gentiles. (Acts 13)
  • Barnabas was persecuted and run out of the city, along with Paul. (Acts 13:50)
  • When Barnabas was praised as a god, instead of enjoying the praise, he tore his clothes and proclaimed the Lord as God. (Acts 14:12-15)

What practical things can we learn from Barnabas?
  • Be generous to God’s work. Think of creative ways to be able to give. (Acts 4:37)
  • Take recently saved people under your wing, even if they have dubious backgrounds. Be willing to take a chance on them. Introduce them to other Christians. (Acts 9:26-27)
  • Be good. (Acts 11:24)
  • Be full of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 11:24)
  • Be full of faith. (Acts 11:24)
  • Mentor young people. If they fail at first, give them second chances. (Acts 12:25; 15:37-39)
  • Accept anyone of any nationality/ethnicity as your equal. (Acts 13:1)
  • Be willing to play second fiddle to a greater man/woman. (Acts 13:2)
  • Share the gospel with everyone. (Acts 13)
  • If you’re busy doing right, expect persecution. (Acts 13:50)
  • Be humble and give all glory to God. Use every time you are praised to give God the credit, not yourself. (Acts 14:12-15)

When Joses was nicknamed Barnabas, “the son of consolation,” it described his character: consoling, exhorting, comforting. (Online Bible)

How would your friends nickname you?

I would love to have all of Barnabas’ qualities in my life. Wouldn’t you? What a great example!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

I Am an In-Vitro Baby

I’m lying in a Jenny Lind crib, all covered up with soft blankets. Mommy and Daddy are so happy! I am pinkish and chubby, and my hair sticks out all over my head. I cry a lot and sleep at funny hours of the day. I try not to sleep at night. (It would ruin my image.)

I began like all babies, two cells. One from Daddy, and one from Mommy.

I have five siblings. At least, I had five siblings.

Let me back up a little bit.

My Mommy and Daddy are both successful business people. Mommy wanted to have her career first and then have babies, so she waited a long time for me. She was 38 when she decided now was the time. But nothing happened. After two years, Mommy and Daddy decided to try something else.

They went to a specialist who told them about the process. But he left out a few things. I will explain as I go.

Daddy and Mommy harvested cells. In little glass dishes, the cells were put together—actually, injected together—to make tiny two-celled babies. Daddy and Mommy were very lucky. Their cells did very well, and soon there were six of us!

Two days later, they told Daddy and Mommy that it looked like four of us were viable. That means it looked like four of us would do well. (It’s funny; they didn’t tell Daddy and Mommy about the other two. . . . I wonder where my brothers or sisters went.)

The doctor explained to Mommy that she would be implanted with not more than two babies at a time—only he called us embryos. He was willing to freeze the other two for later. (He called it a big name: cryopreservation.) So, two of my brothers and sisters are over in that freezer. I wonder when “later” will be. (Mommy worries about the power going off in this funny, white room. I don’t understand.)

So, Mommy gets us two placed into her womb. She is told to take it easy and not to move much. I am happy here, and I snuggle in for a long wait. My brother (or is it my sister?) has a harder time making himself/herself at home in Mommy’s womb.

Mommy gets very sick. I hear her say she “lost” one of the embryos. How could she lose one of us? I don’t understand.

She cries a lot.

Except for Mommy’s crying and not having company in here, I am happy. I continue to grow and grow and grow.

Mommy is happy now, too. She has been painting a room for me and buying baby furniture and little clothes. She is so excited.

So am I! It’s hard to be patient and wait to be born. I kick and squirm and float around. I’m getting bigger every day.

Mommy is patting her tummy and wearing bigger clothes. She is glowing. And, so is Daddy. He is happy when Mommy’s happy. I think he is glad I’m coming, too.

It’s almost time to make my grand appearance. I am getting my hair fixed. I want Mommy and Daddy to think I’m pretty. They’ve waited so long to see me.

Mommy’s labor is long and hard. (I don’t understand this, of course. I only know I’m getting squeezed something fierce.) When I emerge, I look like a cone head. They think I’m beautiful anyway. Everyone oohs and aahs at me. They talk funny to me. I close my eyes and enjoy it all.

It’s great being the center of attention.

Now, I’m two years old. I am into everything and starting to talk in sentences. I have big brown eyes, and my hair no longer sticks out all over my head. I am a happy little girl named Maddie. (Actually, I’m Madison, but everybody calls me Maddie.) I love to run outside and pick wildflowers and laugh. My Mommy and Daddy are delighted with me.

Mommy and Daddy are talking with sad voices. They are saying something about never being able to have another child. They’re talking about the babies that got frozen. When my brother and sister got thawed, they were no longer alive. Mommy got very quiet. Daddy is not happy. He paid $1200 for that freezing process. He says it was their last chance.

Yes, it was their last chance; my brother and sister are dead.

All five of my brothers and sisters are dead.

Psalm 139:13-16; Exodus 20:16; Psalm 127:3

(This a totally imaginative piece, based on medical facts. It is not about anyone in particular, though I do know people who have undergone IVF with varying outcomes—none of their scenarios being represented in this post. My intention is to comment on the process of IVF. Every life is precious, and I firmly believe that a human embryo, be it four cells or several months old, is a baby. My heart goes out to anyone who has ever lost a child under any circumstances. Your pain is real. If this blog post can help another Christian couple avoid going through this awful loss and any tiny babies dying, I will be thankful.)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Good Deeds

Do your good deeds outweigh your bad?

A lot of us think of a lady clothed in a flowing garment, holding up a balance. We all hope our good deeds side will weigh heavier than our bad. Some people are so sure of it they say things like, “I always help my neighbor.” “I never did anything bad to anyone.” (What a statement! No, she never did anything bad . . . just lied to me.) “I do this and this and this . . . .”

Jesus warned people not to do good deeds for the wrong reason. Look at this passage. (Good deeds are called alms.)
             Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly (Matthew 6:1-4).

The Greek word used for good deeds or alms has the meaning charity. They’re the things we do to help others—showing mercy, alleviating suffering, helping the poor.

We’re to do those works with no fanfare, no show, and if possible, in secret. They’re done for God.

The Bible helps us know about the kinds of good deeds we need to do:
  • The Virtuous Woman helped the poor and needy. (Proverbs 31:20)
  • The Good Samaritan gave us the example of meeting a stranger’s physical needs when he showed compassion on someone who was hurting. He also is an example of the lack of ethnic prejudice towards the victim beside the road. (Luke 10:30-35)
  • Dorcas supplied coats and garments for widows—those who had financial needs. (Acts 9:39)
  • The Apostle Paul told the Roman Christians to help other needy brothers and to be hospitable. (Romans 12:13)
  • Paul instructed the Galatian Christians, Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
  • 1 Timothy 5:9-10 give us a list of good works: bringing up children, hospitality to strangers, washing the saints’ feet, and relieving the afflicted. (I love it that bringing up children is a good work, biblically! Yay, moms!)
  • There’s another mini-list in 1 Timothy 6:17-19: doing good, being generous, and sharing.
  • James, ever the practical teacher, says true religion is visiting orphans and widows and keeping ourselves from worldly sins. (James 1:27) 

What enables us to do good works?
  • Abiding in Jesus (John 15:4-5)
  • God’s grace enables us to abound in good works. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
  • The Holy Spirit gives us good fruit. (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • The new birth in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:10)
  • Prayer (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
  • Purging ourselves of sin enables us to do what we should for others. (2 Timothy 2:20-22)
  • The Scriptures make us complete and ready to do good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
  • Good works accompany faith. (James 3:17) 

In religions, people try to make their way to heaven by doing good works. It’s a “great idea.” It makes people feel self-righteous, like they deserve heaven. Like they did it for themselves.

Pat themselves on the back.

But, God doesn’t see good works that way.

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.
For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
(Ephesians 2:8-10)

It’s only by God’s grace that He chose to send His Son to die, so that He would pay the price for our many sins. He took the penalty for our sins on Himself. It’s a gift.

The only thing we do to be able to go to heaven is accept the Gift. We reach out and receive the Gift that Jesus paid for.
            Therefore as by the offence of one (Adam) judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life (Romans 5:18).
            For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 6:23).

After we accept that gift, one of the evidences of salvation is the motivation to do good works.

No, they don’t gain us entry into heaven. They come out of a life that Jesus saved.
            As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10).

Good works—out of a good faith.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Dress Up-to-Date, Please God, and Not Look Ridiculous

1. Know God.
  • What are God’s dress guidelines? (See my post “The Outside Picture” for Bible verses and more.)
  • Am I following both modesty and moderation?
  • Do my clothes reflect Christ’s beauty in me? 

2. Know Yourself.
  • What kind of personality do you have?
  • What kinds of clothes do you love and wear most often?
  • What colors look the best on you?
  • What are your needs: Do you really need sportswear? Do you wear a certain kind of clothes for work? Do you dress up frequently? How many different outfits do you routinely need per week (and what are they)? 

3. Shop Wisely.
  • What’s “in” this season? Shop. Look in store windows. Know whether big, small, or no prints look good this year. Know whether stripes or plaids are popular. Know whether bags are large or small. Know if one color is predominant. (Example: in Europe this year, day glow colors are back for sportswear, especially in accessories.)
  • What do you already have that you love, that looks good on you, and is modest?
  • What small detail could you add to what you already have (a scarf, belt, earrings, handbag, shoes) that would update and look great?
  • Where do you really want to spend your money: basics, accessories, shoes? (How much money do you have budgeted for clothes? Consider Christian stewardship.)

4. Build your wardrobe.
  • Plan your “core clothes” in the same color range. Today, gray is a popular choice, although some complexions look decidedly gray in gray. Black, beige, white, navy, and brown are other core colors that work well. (Make sure whatever you choose is a color that looks great on you.) Choose skirts, slacks, jackets, coats, etc. in your core color or in a color that combines well with it. Make sure your styling isn’t too out of date. Look at what’s being worn. (Pencil skirts are back!)
  • Accent your core color with brighter colors for tops, scarves, and accessories.
  • Invest in a few pieces of quality jewelry. They don’t have to be gold or silver, but they should look really nice. Make sure they’re fairly classic in style and that they express your personality. These are your core pieces. (They could be hoop earrings, a pearl necklace, a fantastic brooch, etc.)
  • Modernize just a little bit by adding or updating according to what you’ve observed in stores. For example, if little prints are in, get your small-print blouse out of the closet and pair it with a classic skirt. If brown is in, pull out your brown skirt and shoes. If you notice navy and white and “sailor” styles are back, rummage around and see what fits this season’s look. You’ll find the core colors can always be worn.
  • Buy a few “fun” things—items that look great but aren’t too serious in tone. Maybe some day glow canvas sneakers this year . . . and lime green, lemon, pink, and orange bangle bracelets. 

Remember, your ultimate aim is to be beautiful so you reflect the beauty of the Lord Jesus. Is the whole effect graceful, pretty and modest? If so, you have been successful.

. . . that women adorn themselves in modest apparel (from 1 Tim. 2:9)

God bless!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Light of the World

Who's the light of the World?

It’s an easy answer, right? Jesus is the Light of the world.
  • Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).
  • As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (John 9:5). 

But, there’s more: we are the light of the world!
  • Jesus said in Matthew 5:14-16, Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Maybe it’s because of my art training, and maybe it’s because I’m a nature lover, but I have always had a fascination with light—with the whole concept of light. It’s how it defines shapes and shows through leaves and alabaster and windows afar off. Light, especially sunlight, lifts one’s mood and provides a sort of happiness. Light in darkness shows the way, illumines a space. Light is always revealing. Light can be divided into colors by simple prisms, be they raindrops that produce rainbows of all the colors in the world, or cut glass or diamonds, refracting colors onto walls.

Without light, we’d be in darkness.

The first thing God made, on the very first day of creation, was light. It’s my favorite verse of the whole creation sequence. (Genesis 1:3)

And God said, Let there be light:
and there was LIGHT.

Can you imagine it? God said it so simply, and it was! The switch was turned on! The beginning! Instead of brooding darkness, there was light! It was His light. It didn’t come from the sun. It was light, illuminating all the universe. Day and night existed before sun, moon, and stars.

It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that Jesus said He is Light. His whole purpose in coming to earth is outlined in John 1:4-5, In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. A couple of verses later, the Bible tells us that John the Baptist came to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

Jesus came so that all men might believe in Him. He is Light. He is the Light.

We get to be lights, too!

Matthew 5:14 says to Christians (Christ’s disciples, here), Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

Wow! We get to be co-lights with the Light! The only reason that we can even be lights is that He is in us.

We have the privilege to share Him to the world. Of course, we can either hide it or let it shine. (Luke 8:16; 11:33) 

We can also actually walk in the light—which provides us with sweet fellowship with other Christians and cleansing from sin. (1 John 1:7; 2:10)

So, who is the light of the world?

He is.

We are.

(As a postscript, there’s another biblical concept of light. It’s the gospel. . . . the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4b, 6). The definition of the gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. You can read my post about the gospel here.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tribute to My Father

Daddy has always told people he was a “child bride,” since he wasn’t quite twenty-one when he married my mother. (His parents had to sign for him!) He was dreamy handsome, with thick, black wavy hair and an adorable smile. No wonder my mother asked, “Who is that?” I was born fifteen months after their wedding.

My father was always the hard-working head of our household. I remember very few things about my early years, but I have vignettes in my head of my Daddy working at his desk when it was time for me to go to bed. He worked full-time plus.

Daddy is a writer. He majored in Agriculture in college and became a journalist after one disappointing year of teaching. He stayed in agriculture throughout his working years. He edited several different farming magazines and lobbied on behalf of farmers in Washington, D.C. Since retiring, he has edited quite a few Christian books, pamphlets, and promotional materials for different ministries.

When we were growing up, my Daddy knew how to make the most ordinary things fun and educational. Every fall, he’d rake up a huge pile of leaves, and then we would play in it. He would bury us in leaves until only our faces were sticking out. He would pick us up and plop us down into the leaves. It was so fun!

Daddy would help us “jump” the waves in the ocean. He helped us build sand castles with their own moats filled with water.

Some of the things I appreciate most are the trips we took together. We literally saw the United States—almost all of them. We crossed the country in a VW van with no air conditioning and either camped in the van or in a tent. My favorite places were out West: Yellowstone, Yosemite, the Grand Canyon, the Colorado Rockies, and Mount Rushmore. We would get up early in the morning so we could see elk and moose as they had their breakfasts. We camped by rushing, ice-cold streams under huge hemlock trees. We camped on a slope in the Snowy Mountains (where my brother rolled down the hill in his sleeping bag, the jays tried to steal our pancakes, and the hot dogs fell into the ashes). Our family hiked trails up to pristine mountain lakes. My Daddy knew all the names of trees, insects, lichens, flowers, and birds.

We used to canoe as a family. We’d try to be very quiet so that we could sneak up on the wildlife. Those times stick in my memory. Such beauty!

My Daddy was a keen photographer. He would sometimes forget to take pictures of the family because he was intent on getting the most beautiful photo of a fern or a woodland flower, wet with dewdrops.

Daddy is a lover of waterfalls and covered bridges. He would hunt out the most gorgeous places—woods of delicate rhododendrons, mountain laurel, and dense foliage with a roaring waterfall and rocky stream. Some of the most beautiful places on earth are those out-of-the-way places my Daddy discovered for us.

I think his love of plants and gorgeous spaces got translated into his landscaping everywhere that we lived. He would transform our yards with dogwood trees, flowers, and different shrubs that he planted and tended.

Daddy is the original animal lover in our family. He grew up raising goats and was very active in FFA. He let us have several pets, the most successful being a medium-sized dog named Rastus.

My Daddy is a kind man. He gave our mother and us three children the wonderful security of being loved.

When he retired from his secular company, someone gave a speech saying that he was the consummate Christian gentleman. He is.

My Daddy has one of the most beautiful tenor voices I ever heard. (No prejudice here, but it’s true.) He was always singing on our many trips in the car. He and Mama would sing fun songs, little love songs, and hymns. As soon as we were able, we chimed in. I don’t think he ever had any pride about his voice. He only wanted to use it for the Lord.

He has always been in love with my mother. They’ve been married almost sixty years now, and you’d still think they’re honeymooners. That kind of commitment doesn’t come by accident. I know that now, but they make it look easy.

My Daddy was always a man. He showed us what it meant to be a man. He didn’t try to prove his manhood. He is a man.

There’s so much I left out of this Father’s Day tribute. My Daddy is much more wonderful than I ever could express in one blog post. I am privileged to have such a father.

Thank you, Daddy, for your love, your example, your godly and lovely spirit, and for just being you. I love you!

(Also, a special Happy Father’s Day to our son David, who’s celebrating his first Father’s Day, our son-in-law Jim, father of a very fun little boy, my terrific husband, and my father-in-law Donald.)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Time--Ours and God's

I’m reading the fascinating book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I will review it once I’m done, which I don’t promise to be very soon. It is so chock full of deep thinking. I need to read and digest what she says with my “biblical glasses” on. (Thank you, Lauren, for sharing that phrase biblical glasses with me!)

Here are some excerpts from pages 64-70, on the theme of time:
  • “Time is life. And if I want the fullest life, I need to find fullest time. . . . God gives us time. And who has time for God? Which makes no sense. In Christ, don’t we have everlasting existence? Don’t Christians have all the time in eternity, life everlasting? . . . If anyone should have time, isn’t it the Christ-followers?
  • (two pages later) Hurry always empties a soul. . . . I speak it to God. I don’t really want more time; I just want enough time.
  • (flip one page) I just want time to do my one life well.
  • (another page turn) This is where God is. In the present. I AM—His very name. I want to take shoes off. I AM, so full of the weight of the present, that time’s river slows to a still . . . and God Himself is timeless. . . . I awake to I AM here. When I’m present, I meet I AM, the very presence of a present God. In His embrace, time loses all sense of speed and stress and space and stands so still and holy. Here is the only place I can love Him. . . . I have time for God.”

I thought about these statements in the light of what the Bible teaches about time. God is eternal. He is always, has always been, will always be. God IS.

We are so finite. The Bible says, For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away (James 4:14b).

God sees time so differently than we do. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2 Peter 3:8).

Yet, even though He has this endless perspective of time, God has given us time in segments. From the very beginning, God made light separated it from darkness, and called it “day.” Evening and the morning were the first day (Genesis 1:5b). Before Adam and Eve, there were days.


In the Bible, the word time is used to measure:
  • Seasons, animal life
  • Pregnancy, death, time of life, old age
  • Set time, appointed time
  • In His time, God’s time
  • In the fullness of time
  • Historic dates—the time when this or that happened
  • A long time, the first time, the third time
  • Good times, evil times, time of trouble
  • When I am afraid
  • The accepted time—the day of salvation
  • Time for blessing
  • Time for trust
  • God’s will in time
  • A time for everything
  • Last times, the time of the end

How do we use our time?

How should we use time?

Let’s look at Jesus. He was never in a hurry. He didn’t brush people off or run to get to the next place. He didn’t fill up His day with too much for 24 hours, although He was always doing His Father’s will. Jesus took time to talk to people along the roadside and heal those who were sick. He preached in the synagogues. We never see Him rushing.
Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted approximately three-and-a-half years. His work was finished. 

How can we change our lives so that we can be more like Jesus?
  • We can sit down, review our biblical priorities, and start to weed out the unnecessary time takers. It is helpful to do this with your husband’s input. 
  • Pray and ask the Lord to show you what is most important. What are your true priorities? 
  • What absolutely needs to be done by you? 
  • Simplify. Cut out the extras. Find time for God and your family.
  • Make sure your personal quiet time with God is your first priority. Take time (make time) in the present to enjoy your Lord.
  • Give your husband and children special time and attention.
  • Include church attendance and ministry in your priorities.

Be prepared that others might not understand what you are doing—that you are no longer The Super Mom Who Volunteers for Everything. If you have to, explain that you are trying to live less hurriedly and making time for the things that really matter. They might not understand, but you will begin to live more like the Lord intended.

The Bible says we’re to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5). Ask God to help you use your time for His glory.
(The last five paragraphs are adapted from my book, His Ways, Your Walk.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

It's Hard to Be Humble When You're Great

We’ve all laughed about the fake book title, Humility and How I Achieved It. How about the saying, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re great”? Media mogul Ted Turner said, “If I only had a little humility, I would be perfect.” Professional football (soccer) coach Jose Mourinho called himself “the special one.” I couldn’t count how many famous people have told interviewers how important it is for them to be humble. Hmmmmm . . . .

The American businessman and statesman of the 1700s Benjamin Franklin once said, “A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.” 

The great English pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon observed, “Humility is to make a right estimate of one's self.” I think he had it just about right.

Of course, the best example of humility is Jesus. It’s more than we can comprehend that God would love us so much as to take on a body of flesh and choose to live in the midst of sinful mankind. Jesus wasn’t accepted by his own half brothers. He was mocked and ridiculed all of His life. During His ministry, the religious leaders who professed to be waiting for their Messiah refused to believe in Him. And then, Jesus was crucified in payment for the sins of everyone in the whole world, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). He laid down His life. This is true humility.

Read this clear teaching in Philippians 2. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (verses 5-8).

Lorne Sanney tells this story: A businessman I know once asked his Bible study group, “How can you tell if you have a servant attitude?” “By the way you react when you are treated like one,” was the reply.

Jesus was humble. He was God, yet He chose to serve. He was God, yet He took on Himself the awful penalty for sin.

Humility isn’t marked by bragging about how humble one is. It’s marked by actions. It’s being a servant. It’s never looking down at anyone and never thinking one is better than anyone. It’s the complete absence of the wrong kind of pride.

In Christ, I am:
  • complete,
  • alive,
  • free,
  • born again,
  • not afraid,
  • cleansed from sin,
  • adopted,
  • declared righteous,
  • able to do God’s will,
  • a new creature,
  • victorious,
  • a light in the world,
  • forgiven,
  • delivered,
  • redeemed,
  • loved.

These are all because of Jesus. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5).

It’s only because God loved us. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Salvation is a gift. 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 (Ephesians 2:8-9).

We can’t win God’s favor. It’s impossible. But, when we know Jesus Christ as our Savior, we have all kinds of benefits.

A truthful, assessment of ourselves is that we are sinners. Now, (assuming we know the Lord) we are new creatures in Christ. Through His work on the cross, He saved us. For in him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28a). God deserves the praise for anything we are and anything we can do. There is absolutely no room for pride. We are completely dependent on His grace.

But, we have a problem, don’t we? Instead of living lives of constant praise and gratitude to God, we tend to be self-satisfied, self-reliant, self-conscious, self-pleasing. Notice all the references to self? We are just plain self-ish!

The opposite of humility is selfish pride. Pride actually takes the credit away from God and puts it on us.

We can learn humility by getting closer to our Lord.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.