Sunday, March 1, 2015

Living Together

"He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him."
1 Thessalonians 5:10

     A lot went on at that cross on Calvary. Others were crucified during the Roman Empire, but they did not willingly give up their lives for me. Christ died for me- a girl born in 1961 in a country that was not even founded at the time of His sacrifice. Why would he do that? It is because he wants to live with me and me with him.

     Ideally, people who dwell with one another take care of each other's needs, laugh and converse, hug and console one another. This is what the Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer desires to have with each and every one of us. It says in Revelation 3:20 that Jesus stands at the door, knocking. Whoever opens it invites him in for dinner.

     The terms in the above verse, "awake or asleep," are not literal, but they refer to being dead or alive. As Jesus told the grieving sisters of Lazarus, "whosoever believes in me shall live, even though he dies. Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die."

     What wonderful news this is! No matter what my personal familial circumstances are, I can rest assured that I will never live alone.

     My mother, a recent widow after 62 years of marriage, takes great comfort in this as she talks to her Savior all the time. She runs things by him, asks for help and strength, thanks him for his care and places her trust in him. She knows, in her heart, that she lives together with him in this world and the next, always and forever.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Someone to Watch Over Me

"See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared."
Exodus 23:20

     Although the Bible does not back up the idea of individual guardian angels, a divine protector that would be assigned to each person for their lifetime, I take comfort in the idea.

     In the above passage, the Lord is telling Moses that the Israelites will have an angel to guard them and bring them through their travails in the desert to the Promised Land.

     Likewise, we sojourn through many a hill and dale in this life as we wend our way to the Promised Land of heaven. The well loved image of the angel lovingly watching over two children who cross a bridge over troubled water comes to mind. I had that picture hanging in my daughters' bedroom years ago.

     In her book, "My Glimpse of Eternity," Betty Malz describes her short venture into the next world during the twenty-eight minutes she lay dead in a hospital. After leaving her body, her soul was walking up a beautiful green hill on a sea of vivid grass. I quote her story here:

     "Then I realized I was not walking alone. To the left, and a little behind me, strode a tall, masculine-looking figure in a robe. I wondered if he were an angel and tried to see if he had wings. But he was facing me and I could not see his back. I sensed, however, that he could go anywhere he wanted and very quickly. We did not speak to each other. Somehow, it didn't seem necessary, for we were both going in the same direction. Then I became aware he was not a stranger. He knew me and I felt a strange kinship with him. Where had we met? Had we always known each other? It seems we had."

     What a comfort it must've been for Betty to realize she was accompanied by a being who knew her, as though he were kin.

     Whether I have a guardian angel or not is not as important as my relationship with my savior, Jesus Christ. I worship him alone and I already know he has promised never to leave me or forsake me. But, if I do have a guardian angel, I humbly accept this as a generous gift from God as I relax in this comforting thought.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Forest Fire

"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."
James 3: 5, 6

     I love words. I could abide a grammar or composition course for hours, but never a math class. Words are the colorful paints used to create a rendering which previously did not exist. Adjectives carve beauty from ordinary nouns while adverbs breathe life into drab verbs. Words are my tools of the trade and I've a grave responsibility to use them wisely, for I know that words can also scorch and sear, leaving charred silhouettes of former beauty to now stand idly, utterly worthless.

     When someone dear to me unleashed a sentence of ill-advised words, they were the spark that flamed quickly into the fire that destroyed years of hard labor. Left standing in its wake with the stench of smoke in my nostrils, I cried at the loss. How do I set about replanting?

     One seed at a time, nurtured in the love of Christ, watered liberally with forgiveness, must be planted whilst on my knees in prayer. If I do not forgive others their sin, my Heavenly Father will not forgive me.

     Remember this song from Sunday School?
Oh, be careful little tongue what you say,
Oh, be careful little tongue what you say,
For the Good Lord up above,
Is looking down in love,
So be careful little tongue what you say.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Time for an Inspection

"Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain."
Psalm 127:1

     When one is looking to buy a house, it's wise to have an inspection performed. Does the furnace work properly? How's the hot water tank look? Are there any leaks in the roof? Is the foundation strong and secure? A house, no matter how lovely is appears to be, is worthless if the foundation is not sound.

     The same is true for a family, a marriage or an individual. If there are cracks that are unrepaired, they'll only get bigger until everything falls flat and rings hollow.

     The moral of the story is to build your house on the Rock of Jesus Christ. What does that mean, exactly? Employ his principles of love, mercy and forgiveness. Seek first his righteousness and all else will be added to you. Follow the Ten Commandments i.e. do not lie, do not covet and do not commit adultery.

     That last one is the worst of all, not only for the adulterer, but for everyone involved. It bring on a tsunami of terror whose ripples are still keenly felt years later. It doesn't matter how remorseful the "sinner" is, how true and trustworthy he/she now strive to be, the foundation has suffered a blow and it'll never be the same.

     So, unless you want to live like a haunted pariah for the rest of your days, do not commit adultery.

     Sometimes, a house has been condemned and is torn down. If a rebuild is planned, be sure to follow God's blueprint.

     "There is no one who does good, not even one." Psalm 14:3

Saturday, February 7, 2015

I Pledge Allegiance

"All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
Matthew 10:22

     I work at an elementary school where, I'm happy to say, we recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily. It thrills me to see everyone cease activity, face the flag with hand over heart and utter those beloved, familiar words. Sometimes, I close my eyes and think about those who fought under that flag, veterans from the various wars who sacrificed life and limb. Some languished in prisoner of war camps, enduring torture and abuse. The blessed survivors kissed the ground upon return, so happy were they to return to this land of the free, home of the brave.

     There's another flag to which I pledge allegiance that is not displayed at the public school, but its importance far outweighs the first. It is the Christian flag. Here is one version of its pledge:

     I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag
and to the Savior for whose kingdom it stands;
one brotherhood, uniting all mankind in service and in love.
          This flag flies over many a battleground, figuratively - where decisions for liberty are made in courtrooms, where marriage vows are spoken, where persecutions are rained upon the saints in the four corners of the world. It's a battle between God and Devil, Good and Evil, and those who stand firmly for Jesus will be saved.
     These words from a favorite hymn come to mind:
For all the saints who from their labors rest
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blessed!
Alleluia! Alleluia!
     As you don the full armor of God, picture in your mind the kingdom for which we stand and the Savior whom we serve. Fly the Christian flag in your yard and remind yourself to daily stand firm.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Something to Cry About

"Jesus wept."
John 11:35

     My dad was a Christian man, one who was faithful to the Lord and his family. He lived to see his 90th birthday, which is what he'd wanted, and he died November fifth. I have the blessed assurance that he walks with Jesus on streets of gold.

     And so I wonder, at times, why do I mourn? Knowing all that I do - he was old, he had dementia, he was a child of God - it feels wrong to be sorrowful.

     Then God reminded me of the story of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus who died (John chapter 11). Even though the omniscient Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the shadow of death, he still mourned for his friend. I love that show of compassion!

     John 11:33 says, "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled."

     Death itself is a sad affair. It's not something God intended, for the Bible says, "The wages of sin is death." Ours sins and our brokenness create distance from our Creator but, thanks be to Jesus, he has paid our debt and set us free.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Who is the Fairest in the Land?

"You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you least expect him."
Luke 12:40

     Last night, I was watching a movie, "Mirror, Mirror," the tale of Snow White. Toward the end, when the evil queen was losing her hold on the kingdom, her wicked spells she'd cast on others were losing their grip also.  When this occured, Snow White was amazed to see the beast she'd been battling morphed into her father. When she had least expected it, there he stood in a crown of gold, reinstated at the helm of his kingdom. Those who had helped his daughter and had been found faithful followers in the combat against evil, were commended and rewarded by the grateful monarch.

     Just a fairy tale? Not really. All of us have a choice to make: will we remain bent on the evil deeds of our sinful nature, held captive by power, lust and avarice? Or will we turn our hearts to the Fairest Lord Jesus, the King of Kings? When he returns, will we be found faithfully doing our part to further his kingdom?

     I pray that, when I look in the mirror, I may see, not my reflection, but that of my Savior, who is the fairest in the land.
"Fairest Lord Jesus,
King of creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love Thee,
Truly I'd serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my joy, my crown."
(words from hymn "Beautiful Savior," author unknown)