Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Beauty


 For many the world has become a frightening place - filled with ugly and evil things. Every day, 24 hours a day, the air around us is filled with the most recent terrifying, discouraging news. As if that were not enough, social media all too often becomes a place filled with angry, hateful words tapped out with little thought of the consequences. 


I passed this little patch of verbena on my walk yesterday. Each violet colored bloom is made up of tiny flowers. Together they formed a wild, beautiful bouquet.

The Hand that planted them chose to put them right next to an ant hill. And not just any ants. These are fire ants, a name you will fully understand if you have the misfortune to be bitten by one. They stealthily crawl onto your person and deliver a vicious bite before you are even aware they're there.
And yet, He chose this place - an ugly, dangerous place.

In spite of their surroundings, they grow - and not just grow, they flourish and fill their small space with beauty. They are a sweet picture of a life lived well in the midst of difficult circumstances. They bravely do just what they have been created to do and, in the process, bless those around them.

Blessings,
Linda

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Can You Hear Me God?

 


Pastor Doug spoke about the importance of communication in marriage. No relationship can flourish when we don't talk to one another. The same is true of our relationship to the Lord. He has given us the precious blessing of prayer - the two-fold gift of being able to speak with Him at any moment about anything and the sure knowledge that He is listening. 

I wrote a little about this when on a visit with our grandchildren many years ago:

“Grandma, let’s go outside and swing.” We were visiting family and my youngest granddaughter wanted a push on her swing. She is a tiny wisp of a girl with huge brown eyes, long light brown hair that curls lightly around her shoulders and a sweet shy smile. The only thing big about her is her voice. As the youngest of five children, she has learned to up the volume if she wants to be heard. She is so precious, and I love spending time with her.


So we bundled up (because temperatures in the 50’s feel mighty cool to us Texans) and headed outside to the swing set. I helped her onto the swing and began to gently push her. “Higher Grandma!” she cried. I pushed a bit harder. Now she was going about as high as her swing would allow. As she reached the highest point of the arc she looked up into the sky and yelled as loudly as her three year old voice could yell, “Can you hear me God?”


It took me by surprise, and I was quiet for a moment. Then I said, “Of course He can hear you honey. He can hear you if you just whisper. He can hear you if you just say the words in your heart. He is right here with us.”

She didn’t say anything for a little while, just continued swinging. Then as her swing reached toward the heavens, “Can You hear me Jesus? Can You hear me God?”

One day this little one will understand that He does indeed hear every word – spoken and unspoken. Right now that is a difficult concept for a three year old mind. I am all grown up, but there are times when, like my granddaughter, I want to shout to the heavens, “Can You hear me God?” Times when God seems so very distant, and I want desperately to know He has heard my prayer.


“Can You hear me God?” The answer echoes down through time from the pen of the Psalmist, as he was directed by the Holy Spirit:

“I love the Lord, because He hears my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.”
Psalm 116: 1, 2 (NAS)

“Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.”
Psalm 139: 4 (NAS)

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
Psalm 34: 4 (NAS)

“In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.”
Psalm 5: 3 (NAS)

Yes sweet girl, He can hear you.


Blessings,
Linda

Thursday, April 1, 2021

All Things Made New






I call it "The Big Freeze." Those days last month when snow fell and temperatures plummeted to below freezing here in Texas. In the aftermath of all the disastrous circumstances for so many people, we saw the toll it had taken on our plants and trees. The landscape all around us looked barren and brown, including our dear old live oaks. They still stood strong and tall, but their stiff, darkened leaves made us wonder if they would survive.  



 Within a few weeks, in spite of the storm, the bare branches began to glow with new life. It seems fitting for this season we're living through - both Easter and all the long months when everything around us changed.

After the crucifixion, when Jesus body lay buried in a borrowed tomb, things looked hopeless. He had come at a time much like the one we're living through. Many had hoped He would change the world around them - make all the injustices right. Instead He died a criminal's death on a cross. We can only imagine the despair of those whose lives had been wrapped up in His. Hope must have seemed a distant dream.

Three days later, everything changed. Jesus rose from the dead and with His resurrection all things were made new. The circumstances in the world hadn't changed. Life went on as it always had - except for those who put their faith in Him. For them - truly all things became new. Hope filled hearts once heavy with despair. They would flourish even in the midst of the most difficult of times. 

May I encourage those who have lost so much during these months of grief and loss; may I offer hope to those who look around them at a changing world and fear what the future holds.  Though so much around us may look dark and frightening, we have a Savior who has overcome the world. We have a Savior who holds life and hope in His scarred hands and offers them to us - the ones He died for. 

A gift - more precious than any treasure we could possibly imagine - wrapped in a love we can scarcely comprehend. 

"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay." I Peter 1: 3-4

Blessings,

Linda


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Looking to Jesus


 


Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

"Oh soul are you weary and troubled? No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior, And life more abundant and free.


Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face;

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace."

Helen Howarth Lemmel

I have a scar that runs the length of my back. I had major back surgery to correct a very bad spinal curvature twenty-three years ago. The scar is a reminder of a time when I felt like I just didn't want to face another day. I was flat on my back for weeks, in too much pain to be able to sit up for any length of time. The only rehab was walking. My sweet husband would get me up every day to take me for a walk. At first all I could manage was a walk around the rooms of our home. Then gradually the walks lengthened, and we went for short walks outside. 

I remember one afternoon as we were slowly making our way around the cul-de-sac in our neighborhood, I asked the Lord to give me something to hold onto. The words of that old hymn began to flow through my mind. As I thought about truly looking into the face of Jesus I felt a peace and a comfort and a "knowing" that all would be well. 

I read these words in my devotional book this morning: "We can trust Him as we walk down this dark hall because He is good. Not only is He good, but He also does good!"
(Darien Cooper)
"The goodness of God endureth continually" (Ps.52:1b)
"Thou art good, and doest good." (Ps.119:68a)

There are so many overwhelming needs in our individual worlds. Overwhelming to us - but not to Him. As I thought about all of those needs today the words of that old hymn came to mind once again, "Turn your eyes upon Jesus." He "is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think..." (Eph.3:20

Blessings,
Linda

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Author






I love books. I laughingly refer to them as “my one weakness.” They encourage, enlighten and entertain. They enlarge my world in so many ways. 


In recent years I’ve had the great honor of getting to know a few of the authors whose work I admire. Knowing them, even in a limited way, makes their writing come alive. If I know who you are, your words take on more meaning for me. 


I attended a Bible Study some time ago that used a book written by a good friend. She not only wrote the study she taught it. Had I not known her the study still would have ministered to me, but because I knew her well the written words took on a special meaning. I knew her heart. I trusted her words. They impacted me deeply.


The world’s best selling book of all time, written by authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, is the Bible. There is no other book like it. Yet to many people, it is a dry, tedious book that is quite difficult to understand in some places. 


Why then do so many other people find it life-changing? The key to unlocking the power of the Bible is knowing its author. When a person has a personal relationship with the living God, His words come alive. You know who He is. You have tested the things He says about Himself and found them true. You take to heart the promises written within the pages of His book and find He has never broken a single one. 


Apart from knowing Him, the words are just words. Knowing Him, we can trust the words in His book because we have come to understand He is absolutely trustworthy. 


“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.”

Hebrews 4:12


“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

    do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

    and he will show you which path to take.”

Proverbs 3: 5,6


Blessings,

Linda


Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Life-changing Word


 

I do not understand how gravity works. I’m sure that at some point in my life I had a wonderful teacher who carefully explained it all to me, but somewhere along the line I simply began to take it for granted. After all, I didn’t see people walking around desperately clutching at stationary objects before taking a step. Nor did I see heavy objects floating around in space. The evidence all around me proved gravity did indeed exist. I could, therefore, walk around without fear of flying off the face of the earth. 


I have flown many times, and although I don’t remember offhand how it is possible for a huge, plane loaded with people and baggage to defy that same force of gravity I take it for granted that it will indeed get off the ground. 


The Bible says of itself that it is the word of God. Furthermore, it states that it is living and powerful. It changes lives.


“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12


A powerful claim indeed, and yet the evidence of its truth is all around us. I have witnessed the life-changing power of the God-breathed words contained in this book.  People bound by addiction find freedom. The broken-hearted find comfort and consolation. Words of encouragement lift the spirit of the downtrodden. If followed, its precepts can change a life bound by sin into a life of blessing and fulfillment and hope.  The evidence abounds.


“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” II Timothy 3:16


The Bible is more than a self-help book with a list of suggestions on how to live a better life. It contains the powerful words of the One who spoke creation into existence. 


Perhaps it would be good to hear what others have said about the Bible:


Thomas Jefferson – “The Bible makes the best people in the world.”


Abraham Lincoln – “But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. I believe the Bible is the best gift God has ever given to man.”


Patrick Henry – “This is a Book worth more than all the others that were ever printed.”


Winston Churchill – “We rest with assurance upon the impregnable rock of Holy Scripture.”


James Dwight Dana – “Young men, as you go forth, remember that I, an old man, who has known only science all his life, say unto you that there is no truer facts than the facts found within the Holy Scriptures.”


Benjamin Franklin – “Young men, my advice to you is that you cultivate an acquaintance with, and a firm belief in, the Holy Scriptures.”


Henry Van Dyke – “No other book in the world has had such a strange vitality, such an outgoing power of influence and inspiration.... No man is poor or desolate who has this treasure for his own.”


John Locke – “It has God for its Author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter: it is all pure, sincere, nothing too much, nothing wanting.”


Blessings,

Linda 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

His Word


We are living in unsettling times. So many of the things we thought ordinary have become complicated and fraught with  unknown and frightening possibilities. Truth, it appears, can change from one day to the next, or from one speaker to the next leaving the listener standing on shaky ground. 


I woke this morning feeling a heaviness in my heart as I thought about these things. I have a tendency to want to work things out - quickly. I try hard to control circumstances and work toward the outcome I think best. It never works.


I picked up my devotional, feeling disheartened and discouraged, and read this verse:


“About Benjamin He said: ‘Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.’” 

Deuteronomy 33:12


It was exactly what I needed to “hear.” As so often happens, the word of God spoke truth to my heart and brought peace.


Peace comes in knowing God’s word, the Bible, is true. It really doesn’t take much faith to believe it. There can be no denying the power it has to change hearts and lives. 


However, there are many who would like to have something more concrete to go on. Some measure of proof that the Bible is indeed truth. In that light, here are a few ways Pastor Doug shared to prove it:


  • The Bible is historically accurate - more so than any book ever written. 
  • The Bible is scientifically accurate. It never contradicts even modern science and is always a step ahead. No scientific discovery has ever disproven scripture.

 -  The Bible is prophetically accurate - thousands of prophesies written long before the actual events took place have been fulfilled:


 “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding,[a] 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.” II Peter 1: 22-23


  - The Bible is thematically unified. Written by over forty different authors over a period of 1600 years the story of man’s redemption flows from Genesis to Revelation. 


Perhaps the most powerful testimony to the truth and power of God’s word are the lives it has changed. Its words speak to every human condition. Its truths prove to be wise and profitable to everyone who lives them out. 


In these unsettling, often frightening, times we desperately need absolute truth on which to anchor our lives. That truth can only be found within the pages of the Bible. It has more than stood the test of time. Over the centuries men have tried to destroy it, but it remains the best selling book of all time. It is God’s word to us - a priceless treasure. Its words have never failed.


All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” II Timothy 3: 16,17


Blessings,

Linda