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Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends

 

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About the Book

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Samuel, Mephibosheth, and a woman on death row -- people telling of our Savior’s love. A chicken, a dinosaur, and a tarantula -- just a few props to show how we can serve God and our neighbors. Peanut butter, pinto beans and grandmother’s chow-chow -- merely tools to help share the Bread of Life. These are just a few of the characters in Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends.

It is Marty’s desire to bring the hymns out of their sometimes formal, Sunday best stuffy setting and into our Monday through Friday lives. At the same time, she presents a light object lesson and appropriate Scripture passage. This is done with the format of a devotion book, yet it has a light tone and style. From Ebenezer to Willie, Marty’s characters can scarcely be contained within the pages of this whimsical yet insightful volume.

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EBENEZER

AND NINETY-EIGHT

FRIENDS

 

Musings on Life, Scripture

and the Hymns

 

Marty Magee

 

Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends

New edition © 2017 Marty Magee

 

This eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-1-1

 

Also available as a Rickety Bridge paperback

ISBN: 978-15446472-4-1

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Published by

White Tree Publishing

Bristol

UNITED KINGDOM

 

[email protected]

 

For full list of books and updated information

visit:

www.whitetreepublishing.com

 

 

Scripture references are taken from The New International Version (NIV) Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society Unless otherwise stated

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of this edition.

 

 

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Table of Contents

 

Cover

About the Author

Dedication

Foreword

Acknowledgments

Endorsements

Introduction

1. Ebenezer was No Scrooge.

2. Find Your Separator and Start Turning

3. Chocolate Chips, Raisins and the Word of God.

4. I Know the Author.

5. All Roads Lead to God.

6. From Every Stormy Wind That Blows.

7. Cracker Box Decisions.

8. Fresno or Florence.

9. I Sing for I Cannot Be Silent.

10. Mr. Lincoln’s Precedent.

11. Sweet Disneyland.

12. In the Garden . . . or the Kitchen or Wherever.

13. Chicken Feathers.

14. Funeral Plans.

15. Bringing Spices.

16. To Sweep or To Vacuum.

17. Twiling On.

18. What’s All the Commotion?

19. Pizza on the Sea of Galilee.

20. My Dull Very Chronic Toothache.

21. I’ll Be There.

22. The Red Coat.

23. Pretzels.

24. Three Writers and a Roomful of Librarians.

25. Please Pass the Chow-Chow.

26. My Resting Place is not an Airport Terminal.

27. Which way to Salem?

28. My Grandmother’s Calendar.

29. Overthrowing Prince Albert.

30. Wouldn’t You Know It?

31. Be Yourself.

32. How Do You Heal a Blind Man?

33. Rejoice!

34. Mr. Mulroney’s Auction.

35. It’s Not the Place.

36. I Would Have Told You.

37. Lesson from a Hot Air Balloon.

38. Though the Darkness Hide Thee.

39. Simon’s Mother-in-Law.

40. Deep-Sea Fishing.

41. The Stroke Dog.

42. I Like Singing About My Defensive Wall.

43. Quick ‘n’ Instant.

44. Don’t Jump off the Teeter-Totter.

45. Saul, Do I Have a Deal for You!

46. One Day.

47. Muppim, Huppim and Ard

48. Pure Blood at Last.

49. Georgia Lou Shaw’s Baby.

50. Keeping Up Appearances.

51. Even Me.

52. Ponder Anew.

53. Hospice Living.

54. I Have a Plan

55, Mephibosheth and Me.

56. Listen to McGruff.

57. Nottoway.

58. I Hear the Rolling Tundo.

59. Mr. and Mrs. Noah’s Anniversary Party.

60. Romancing the Plane.

61. Thelma’s Winding Path.

62. Is There No Balm in Gilead?

63. Mud Pies.

64. Puppets Bring Life to Death Row.

65. Remembering Stuff.

66. In Times Like These.

67. Stand in It.

68. Janet’s Prayer.

69. Am I a Gong?

70. Uncle Jay’s Little Sheepherder.

71. Peanut Butter for a Housewarming Gift?

72. Those Bloody Goats.

73. Tang Jars and Fine China.

74. Better than Sugarplums.

75. Just for Today, Again and Again.

76. Tongue-Tied at the New Mexico State Spelling Bee.

77. Where is Your Macedonia?

78. The Tops of the Mountains Became Visible.

79. You’re the One with the Tarantula.

80. Finale: All Groups.

81. What’s That in Your Hand?

82. Yet -- Great is Thy Faithfulness.

83. Mornin’.

84. This Night.

85. The Little Boy Who Couldn’t Cry.

86. Aunt Modena Buys A Farm.

87. He Always Insists On Paying.

88. Grocery Cart Ministry.

89. You Put the Dinosaur in the Pan?

90. Choir Practice.

91. Craftstoraphobia.

92. Keep on Singing Your Zion Songs.

93. Our Thanksgiving Maypole.

94. My Last Day at Scrapbooking.

95. Unsanctified Servants.

96. Not Just for Little Children.

97. Two-Inch Backhoe.

98. Do You Need a Passport to Go Where Jesus Goes?

99. Willie and the Ninety-and-Nine.

About White Tree Publishing

More Books from WTP

Christian non-fiction

Christian Fiction

Younger Readers

 

 

To my mother, Georgia Lou.

Without her, I would still be wondering

how many friends Ebenezer had.

She is my cook, researcher, secretary,

marketer, editor and friend.

 

About the Author

 

Marty Magee sold her first article at fifty and published her first book, Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends, at sixty. This is a revised edition of the book. Marty has also written an Advent devotional, Twenty-Five Days Around the Manger. These books are available as both paperbacks and eBooks.

She sometimes plays the piano for church. She has written plays for churches.

At sixteen, the scriptures she’d learned as a child came alive. Never since that day over fifty years ago has she doubted the lasting work of God in her life.

Marty and her husband, David, retired in Mill City, Oregon, near two of their grandchildren. Other grandchildren live in Perth, Australia. Her 102-year-old mom acts as one of Marty’s loving critics and encouragers.

Foreword

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Benny C. Aker, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, Springfield MO.

 

“ . . . Every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” (Matthew 13:52 NIV)

 

Marty Magee’s devotionals are like the message of this verse: She has brought out of her “storeroom” treasures abundant to inspire and renew one’s faith and spiritual life.

 

In an age that is not concerned about the past and frightful of the future, these treasures of experience and faith provide comfort and direction for the present. In the Bible, believers did not fear the future because they could look back and see how God had taken care of them-they knew that the future would be OK. What treasures Marty has provided from her storeroom!

 

Acknowledgments

Thanks to:

David, who lets me write and makes sure I have everything I need to do the job.

Jo Bond, my sister, friend, editor, idea person and supporter.

Denise Arzoian, my friend, sister, writing partner and mentor.

Jim Denney for his expert writing advice.

Dan Norsworthy for his hard work on my web site and other technical issues.

Celest Smith for the colorful bookmarks and her tech savvy.

My daughter, Jennifer Magee, for 20 years telling me I could write.

Hary Daud at Majesty Bible and Gifts, Fresno, for his support and help with publicity.

My former pastors, Tim, Gene, Steve and Robert for their Biblical knowledge and encouragement.

My present pastor, Richard Cole, for allowing  me to present my plays at church, giving me exposure and confidence.The people from nearly every state who have promoted Ebenezer.

The many people who through their lives gave me ideas worth writing about.

Those too numerous to mention who have shown enthusiasm for Ebenezer.

 

Endorsements

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SQUIRE PARSONS, songwriter, vocalist and nominee for Dove award:

One of my favorite gospel songs is Little is Much When God is in it. This phrase describes so well the “little” stories composed in this volume by Marty Magee.

  • * *

JIM DENNEY, author of nearly 70 published books: He was the ghostwriter for Michael Reagan’s Twice Adopted:

Marty Magee’s Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends is a lively collection of devotionals that will give your day an inspirational lift. Warm and personal in tone, these readings combine engaging stories, biblical wisdom, and a love of sacred music. Marty’s optimistic writing will keep you focused on the joy of knowing Christ.

  • * *

RAJENDRA PILLAI, Author of Reaching the World in our own Backyard:

Looking for a heartwarming devotional that will gently nudge you to the more important things in life? Look no further. Marty’s book is sure to bring a fresh perspective in your spiritual walk.

Introduction

Page numbers are not included in this draft. I read these words from my publisher as I pushed the print button. I hadn’t pulled out the paper tray. In my already-messy living turned workroom, characters flew. Ebenezer thankfully landed safely on the couch. Chocolate chips and raisins were about to get stepped on and mashed into the carpet.

Samuel and Mephibosheth threw themselves right down beside Ebenezer.

I tried to come to the rescue. But they kept spewing out before I could fix the tray. Chicken feathers got tangled up in the tarantula’s web. Oh what a mess. A cold piece of pizza was sucked up into an old vacuum cleaner.

Lo and behold out came a medium-sized dinosaur filling the room.

I wish Ebenezer would get his friends in order. Willie is too busy getting himself in trouble; he has no time to help.

I must hurry before the peanut butter and pinto beans shoot out onto the wall.

This mess is too big for me. I am right now asking God to gather up these disjointed characters. May the stories, old and new, be used to bless you today. May He reveal to you an old scripture in a new way. May He give you a new song from an old hymn.

 

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

1 Samuel 7:5-14

 

1

EBENEZER WAS NO SCROOGE

 

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;

Hither by thy help I’m come.”

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Robert Robinson, 1758

 

I’ve heard the name twice: In Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol and in one of my favorite hymns, "Come Thou Fount." However, I cringe at singing words and phrases I don't understand. The rest of the song speaks volumes to me. But who -- or what -- is Ebenezer?

A few years ago we studied the book of 1 Samuel in our Sunday school class. Ebenezer jumped off the page and introduced himself to me. The word means, “a stone of help.” After the Israelites had defeated the Philistines, Samuel set up this stone as a reminder, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” This was a legacy to their children and grandchildren of what the Lord had done.

We may not have a boulder in our front yard. We may not be able to view the Half Dome of Yosemite every day as a reminder of our great creator. But each of us needs an Ebenezer.

My Ebenezer is a child’s woodcarving. When our Jenny was in junior high school, she carved on everything that didn’t move. A 14-inch-piece of driftwood still sits on our piano, with the words, “The Lord is Risen Indeed.” On the other side are the three empty crosses and a sunrise on the mountain.

Maybe if we made more Ebenezers in our lives, we’d have fewer Scrooges in the world.

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Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 1 Samuel 7:12

 

Suggested reading:

2 Corinthians 8:11-15

 

2

FIND YOUR SEPARATOR

AND START TURNING

 

To the many duties ever near you now be true.

Brighten the Corner Where You Are

Ina Duley Ogdon

 

I know the stories of my older sister’s childhood as though I’d been there. Even as a little girl, she had a nurturing way about her.

When our daddy was recovering from an appendectomy. Neighbors came in to milk the cows and do other farm chores.

Mother confided in Jodie: “I wish I could do more of the farm things so the neighbors wouldn’t have to help so much.”

“Mommy, don’t feel bad. At least you can turn the cream separator.”

For those of us who think cream comes only in aerosol cans, there's more to it. The farmer had an obnoxious piece of equipment sitting on his back porch. It had to be hand turned -- after it had been well cleaned. The milk was put into a big bowl. As you turned the handle, the cream came out one spout and the milk another. Our mom had this tedious job.

I think little Jodie’s wisdom works today.

Are you sitting in the corner doing nothing because you can’t milk the cow?

So, you’re not a teacher! Is your car big enough to pick up children for Sunday school?

Do you croak instead of sing? Maybe you have a knack for making newcomers feel welcome.

Katie, now gone to be with Jesus, led a group of ladies on fixed incomes. They didn’t let that stop them from being good stewards. They spent every Tuesday making quilts, rugs and ornaments. In October, they sold their wares for mission money.

My friend, Penny, with multiple sclerosis, does most of her work from her bed. She published her first book and is working on a second. Did I mention the hundred plus articles she has in print?

If anyone had a right to let someone else do the chores, it would be Otho. As a young man, he suffered a spinal cord injury while rescuing a drowning swimmer. From that day until his death a few years ago, he helped his wife from his hospital bed. He "walked" her through changing the air conditioner filters. With his ham radio, he monitored her driving to Los Angeles. He enjoyed a good conversation -- about current events or history -- or you. He didn't talk about what he couldn't do, nor did he brag on what he could. He just did it and lived his life to the fullest.

My friend Linda serves as a deaconess in our former church. She takes her job seriously. I don’t know what she can’t do, but she doesn’t spend much time worrying about it. Her car must be a deacon car. It takes her over Fresno and Clovis, visiting the sick, taxiing people or visiting a shut-in. I think her phone is a deacon phone. It dials the other members to arrange meals or report a prayer need.

Our former pastor’s mother, June, was legally blind. You’d never know it the way she saw the hurts and administered the needed balm. She also saw when a person needed a pat on the back. I once tried to show her a picture of my grandkids, forgetting she couldn’t see it. I get a chuckle and a hug, and then she says, “I can’t wait to meet them.” And I can’t wait to meet June again someday, and she’ll be able to see me.

To offset June’s handicap, Joan goes to June’s house weekly and reads to her.

Let the farmer milk the cow. You get the old separator out and scrub it up. Ask God to bless it, and start turning. I’ll guarantee you the result will be rich cream.

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For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.

2 Corinthians 8:12

 

Suggested reading:

Deuteronomy 6:1-9

 

3

CHOCOLATE CHIPS, RAISINS

AND THE WORD OF GOD

 

Holy Bible, Book divine,

Precious treasure, thou art mine.

Mine to chide me when I rove,

Mine to show a Savior’s love.

Holy Bible, Book Divine

John Burton, Sr., 1803

 

Just a little girl, I sat at our long kitchen table with my mother, eating chocolate chips and raisins. I’d repeat, word-for-word, Bible verses that meant little to me. That’s probably when I learned John 3:16. The chocolate chips made more of an impression at the time.

A few years later, I became motivated by a girl’s missionary organization at church. My friends and I learned the passages assigned to us so we could go to the next step. We dressed up and presented to our church family the Word we’d hidden at least in our minds. I committed to memory passages on salvation and redemption: Acts 4:12 and 16:31 told me the Source of eternal life. Romans made me aware of my sin and told me what to do about it. Isaiah prophesied the coming of Jesus.

As a teenager, I began to put these verses together. I confessed my faith in Jesus and asked Him to be Lord of my life.

Fortunately, I had a youth leader devoted to grounding us kids in the Word of God. He knew this was the only way we'd grow. Brother Maple challenged us to memorize Romans 8. How the Word came alive as I committed it to memory. I discovered that as a child of God, I was no longer condemned. I learned how to make my life make sense -- by loving God. I found out nothing could separate me from God's love.

As I hurry through my adult life, scripture memory doesn’t always stay a priority. I know it’s never too late to begin again. Please pass the chocolate chips and my old King James Bible. Care to join me? King James too old fashioned? Try another translation. Don’t like chocolate? How about raisins?

 

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

Suggested reading:

Hebrews 12:1-6

 

4

I KNOW THE AUTHOR

 

Every day He comes to me with new assurance,

More and more I understand His words of love;

But I’ll never know just why He came to save me,

Till some day I see His blessed face above.

No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus

C.F. Weigle

 

It was the middle of the 1960s. We hadn’t come to demonstrate for or against abortion, women’s rights or the Vietnam War. We had gathered to celebrate a birthday. Hundreds of students and faculty marched down Main Street in Chattanooga. Dr. Charles Weigle, hymn writer and mentor for many young people, had turned 95.

Dr. Weigle sat with us in the dining hall at Tennessee Temple College. He had a room on campus where students cared for him. I remember his winning smile. I remember he talked to any of the students -- about something funny or about a serious problem. I remember he liked lots of sugar in his tea.

The Weigle Singers, formed in his honor, sang his most recognized hymn, “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus.” What an honor to know the man who had penned these words. Every time I hear the song, I want to say, “I knew the author.”

Dr. Weigle didn't make it to 96 -- maybe because he put too much sugar in his tea. He went to be with the One about whom he'd sung for over 40 years. This was the One who comforted him when his wife left him after he became a Christian.

I don’t hear Dr. Weigle’s songs much anymore. We have a new era in music. But the same thought is still being penned and proclaimed: “There’s simply nobody who cares for us like Jesus.”

When Christmas rolls around this year, I hope I'll remember with a new zeal Whose birthday I'm celebrating -- whether I read the Nativity story with my family, fellowship over a cup of hot chocolate with my church family, or march down Main Street, singing His praises.

 

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Hebrews 12:2

 

Suggested reading:

Revelation 6:12-17

 

5

DO ALL ROADS LEAD TO GOD?

 

O, what weeping and wailing,

As the lost were told of their fate;

They cried for the rocks and the mountains;

They prayed, but their prayer was too late.

The Great Judgment Morning

Rev. Bert Shadduck

 

We’ve heard the phrase flow like honey from their lips: “All roads lead to God.” I immediately arch my back, ready to strike. Maybe I should not be so hasty. What does the Bible say?

“Every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” (Romans 14:11)

In the last book of the Bible, we read of people calling to the mountains and rocks to fall on them. Why would they do that? So, they’ll be hidden “from the face of him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Rev 6:16)

John also prophesied: “I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev 20:12)

These believe-what-you-want folks may be somewhat right, after all. What do you think? Is that how you want to meet God?

If things were going well between God and us, we wouldn’t need the mountains and rocks to fall on us.

Can’t you see the books being opened? Remember sneaking a peak at your report card? We usually knew if we needed to worry. I never wanted to look at my math and science grades. I wanted to hide them under a rock.

As a youngster, I learned what we called the Romans Road:

1. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

2. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (6:23)

3. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (5:8)

4. If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10:9)

Of course, other verses lead us on this same road of salvation:

The most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3:16, says, “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

The jailer asked Paul and Silas, “what must I do to be saved?” Their response was simple, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:30-31).

Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9)

Be sure you’re on the heaven road. You won’t have to worry about rocks and mountains falling on you. Instead, the Rock of Ages will shelter you.

 

Every knee shall bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.

Romans 14:11

 

Suggested reading:

Leviticus 16:14-19

 

6

FROM EVERY STORMY WIND

THAT BLOWS

 

Ah! Whither could we flee for aid

When tempted, desolate, dismayed,

Or how the hosts of hell defeat,

Had suffering saints no mercy seat?

From Every Stormy Wind that Blows

Hugh Stowell, 1828

 

What if?

What if I had succumbed to whooping cough at six weeks of age? What if I hadn’t met David?

What if I hadn't gone back in and turned off that burner? What if I had hit that golden-haired little girl -- the one who nearly ran into my path in the parking lot? What if I'd said those hurtful words to my friend?

While thumbing through my hymnal, I found an even more important “what if.”

[_ Whither could we flee for aid -- _] Where would we get help?

When tempted? What if I had to fight those demons alone?

When desolate? What if I permanently and spiritually felt the desolation I did when living in the Mojave Desert?

When dismayed? I'm dismayed -- at my own sin and at the ruin of the world around me. What if we had no remedy for this?

Or how the hosts of hell defeat? What if the devil and all his angels had control? Their sole purpose is to cause you and me to fall.

Had suffering saints no mercy seat? The mercy seat in the Old Testament was the covering for the Ark of the Covenant. It represented God’s presence with His people.

What if we had no mercy seat? There would be no place to flee for aid.

Temptation would have free run. Our permanent home would be the desert. Dismayed and overcome would be our way of life -- if we had no mercy seat.

The devil would have his eternal heyday -- had suffering saints no mercy seat!

For every stormy wind that blows, I’m glad I have Jesus Christ, God’s mercy seat.

 

Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the veil . . . and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat.

Leviticus 16:15 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

Joshua 24:14-17

 

7

CRACKER BOX DECISIONS

 

Seems now some soul to say,

“Go, Spirit, go Thy way,

Some more convenient day

On Thee I’ll call.”

Almost Persuaded

P.P. Bliss

 

I hate a mushy cracker. Even if it’s drowning in a piping hot bowl of soup, I want my cracker crunchy. When I spread saltines with chocolate icing, I want them as crispy as the icing is smooth. I may use crunchy peanut butter, but I want my cracker to have its own crunch.

Last week I bit down on a cracker that my toothless grandmother could have chewed.

I set out to find the perfect cracker box. We have so many choices in America. Do I want flat, tall and skinny, plastic, metal -- or maybe wood?

My husband, David, went to the store and picked out a small square plastic box for our crackers. It works fine. Why couldn’t I have done that?

David thinks I must have been overly disciplined as a child. I can never decide. I can’t even choose a cracker box.

I have other small, but insurmountable, decisions to make. Where should we eat out? Which kind of shampoo is best? Which book do I read first?

I use a scientific system for my clothes shopping: I must buy made in USA, on sale, and no polyester. This thins down the choices. If you see a senior lady running around in a wrinkled cotton shirt, you’re probably looking at me. You’ll need to check the tag to make sure.

There’s one important decision we all need to come to grips with: What will we do about Jesus?

[_ _
__]

If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

 

Suggested reading:

Ephesians 5:21-33

 

8

FRESNO OR FLORENCE

 

God give us Christian homes . . .

Homes that are joyous with love and song.

God Give us Christian Homes

 

“Hi, Mom. I wanted to tell you the good news! Greg is taking me to Ireland for my graduation present.”

Now she could learn about her ancestors -- even visit Magee Island.

I’d like them to come to Fresno. But it wasn’t hard for me to answer my own question: If I had a choice between Fresno and Ireland, which would I take?

  • * *

“Hi, Mom. We’re going to take a vacation before Greg starts his new job.”

“Where are you going?”

“Germany,”

“Good.” That’s the best I could muster.

I mumbled to David as I hung up the phone. “I’m sure if I had a choice of Fresno or Germany, I’d take Germany.”

Judy hadn’t been to Fresno many times. We’d moved there after she went away to college. I knew my friends thought I’d fabricated these children.

David encouraged me to call Judy before they left and give them our blessings. Before I could gather my good attitude, the phone rang.

“Hi, Mom. We really are going to come see you this year. When we do, we’ll cook fancy hors d’oeuvres and serve them in your best dishes. We’ll invite all your friends. I’ll call you when we get back. I love you.”

 

“Hi, Mom.” Smiles and hugs abounded at Gate 4, where Judy and Greg entered the Fresno Air Terminal.

Judy and Grandmother baked persimmon cookies and tried out new appetizer recipes on our guests. Now these guests couldn’t deny we really did have kids of our own. We visited into the night. We even saw pictures of Magee Island.

The next day, Jenny and Judy recounted stories:

Remember when Dad made us apologize for getting into the cookie jar in the Sunday school room?

We went to King’s Canyon and saw General Grant, the National Christmas Tree. We drank hot chocolate and threw snowballs.

On the morning the kids would go back to Wisconsin, Judy and I sat at the kitchen table. We sipped hazelnut coffee. We talked about work -- my typing for doctors, her plotting maps.

At the Fresno Air Terminal, Greg went with Jenny to put money in the parking meter. Judy and I waited at Gate 4. Judy worried Greg wouldn’t get back in time. “He always does this. One of these days, he’s going to miss his plane.” This wasn’t that day or that plane. They got back in time for hugs and well wishes and a few tears from Mom.

As a small child, Judy said, “Mommy, when I grow up, I’m going to live right next-door to you.” She’s the one our friends called static cling.

I watched the Delta puddle jumper take them away. It dawned on me: I like life like this. I’m getting used to this empty nest. Judy and Greg have the right tools to build for themselves a pretty snug nest.

Through the years we got more calls. “Hi Mom, we’re moving to Russia.” “Hi, Mom, we’re moving to Australia.”

Two years ago, we visited Brisbane, Australia, our first time abroad. We’d never have had this opportunity if Judy had followed her little-girl plans.

Then another call: “Hi, Mom, we’re moving to Doha, Qatar. It’s in the Persian Gulf.”

After several months in that desolate country, they needed another vacation. I can’t blame them.

This time the call came from Greg.

“Hi, Mom, we’re hoping to visit you all in Fresno in a couple of months.”

They decided on this trip to the U.S. instead of a proposed plan to Florence, Italy. They must be crazy. If I had a choice between Fresno and Florence, that would be a no-brainer. Maybe we can all meet in Florence.

 

. . . a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

Ephesians 5:31

 

Suggested reading:

Isaiah 12

 

9

I SING, FOR I CANNOT BE SILENT

 

I sing, for I cannot be silent,

His love is the theme of my song.

Redeemed

Fanny J. Crosby, 1882

 

I'm a singer -- not a professional singer, not even a good singer -- just a singer. That's what I do. I'm an Evans -- We're Welsh. Welsh people sing. We sing in the shower, in the kitchen, in the car. We sing at church, at work, at the market. We must make music. A fellow worker once told me I was the only one she knew who could type, whistle and tap her foot at the same time.

My father sang to me when I was a small child -- " Tennessee Waltz," " Little Gray Home in the West," "The Ninety and Nine," and the list goes on. He waved my hands and said, "Look at Martha, she's directing the choir."

Being an Evans probably has something to do with my love for music. I’ve known the words to many songs since I was tiny. In our country church, my mother ran her finger like a bouncing ball along the lyrics. She held the hymnbook where I could see it (even before I could read).

On a spring day in 1963, this music within me came alive. I was born into another family of singers. This family has been singing redemption songs since long before songwriter Fanny Crosby was born.

Yes, it's in the blood -- not only my Welsh blood. It's in the blood of my new birth in Christ.

[_ _
__]

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.

Psalm 40:3

 

Suggested reading:

Matthew 23:10-28

 

10

MR. LINCOLN’S PRECEDENT

 

The seeds of good we sow,

Both in shade and shine will grow.

While the Days are Going By

George Cooper

 

“Held for public use, resort, and recreation . . . inalienable for all time.”

These were President Abraham Lincoln’s words when he set Yosemite National Park aside in 1864 as a California State Park.

The United States was in the midst of one of her biggest challenges, the Civil War. Didn’t our leader have more pressing things to do than to declare a public recreation area?

At my house, we have a whole shelf full of Civil War books. This is because my husband is a student of that war. As sad, ugly and devastating as it was on both sides, it’s over. North and South, we’ve all survived.

Mr. Lincoln could have said, “I have to bring my country together. Recreation can wait.” Because of his insight, we now have a National Park for all to enjoy, a place where people of all races and cultures can take in a small part of God’s beauty. Listen to the many languages spoken there. Everyone seems to feel welcome.

I’ve thought about this urgent versus important dilemma in my own life. How many times did I say to my now-grown daughters, “Wait, I’m busy?”

Of course, the urgent must be dealt with. President Lincoln couldn't ignore the obvious conflict any more than you and I can ignore a burning building -- or a family crisis. Let's put out the fires as quickly as possibl e and get on with the important job of resort and recreation, and raising a healthy loving family.

 

You have neglected the more important matters of the law -- justice, mercy and faithfulness.

Matthew 23:23

 

Suggested reading:

Revelation 21:1-4

 

11

SWEET DISNEYLAND

 

I’m kind of homesick for a country

To which I’ve never been before.

Beulah land . . . I’m longing for you,

And, some day, on thee I’ll stand;

There my home shall be eternal.

Sweet Beulah Land

Squire E. Parsons, Jr., 1979

 

The preacher couldn’t imagine why the entire audience snickered. Some laughed aloud.

An American preacher traveled to Russia to preach a series of evangelistic sermons. After a week in Moscow he hadn’t gotten his meeting off the ground. The revival needed impetus. The preacher decided to open the next evening’s meeting by singing Sweet Beulah Land.

Arriving at the church a bit late, the preacher forgot to notify his interpreter. He set off immediately singing the song. His interpreter sang along with him, putting the song in Russian.

When he finished the song, the preacher apologized to his interpreter for throwing him a curve. “I hope you didn’t have any trouble translating the song,” the preacher said, and added tentatively, “Did you?”

The interpreter replied, “Perhaps you had better sit down, sir.” Puzzled, the preacher sat down. The interpreter said, “The only thing I could come up with in translation for Beulah Land was Disneyland.”

The preacher slapped his hand to his forehead. He now knew the song had not broken the revival loose. But what entertainment as the interpreter sang “Disneyland I’m longing for you.”

My Russian friend, Lynda, speaks the language and goes to a Russian church. She follows the customs of her Russian family. She’s through-and-through Russian. Lynda has never been to this European country. Her family fled to Iran during the 1930s due to political unrest in her country.

Lynda longs for her mother country -- the place she has never been.

Don’t we long for a land to which we’ve never been?

“Beulah,” meaning, “married”, refers to the restored Israel. Thus, we often refer to heaven as Beulah, where we, the bride of Christ, will spend eternity.

It’s not certain if Lynda will make it to Russia. But as a Believer, she is Beulah bound. I’m Beulah bound. You’re Beulah bound if you have entered into this eternal marriage with the Son of God.

My daughter and grandkids and I spent a few days at Disneyland several years ago. It wasn’t as perfect as I’d remembered. But being with the ones I love made it near perfect. Just think, heaven will have no disappointments. In fact, it will be better than we could imagine. We’ll be with the One and the ones we love without ever having to say goodbye.

I’m confident heaven will be better than Russia or Disneyland.

 

No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate, but . . . Beulah, for the Lord will take delight in you, and your land will be married.

Isaiah 62:4

 

(Permission for details of this true story were given by Squire Parsons)

 

Suggested reading:

Mark 14:32-42

 

12

IN THE GARDEN . . . OR THE KITCHEN

. . . OR WHEREVER

 

I come to the garden alone,

While the dew is still on the roses.

. . .

And the joy we share as we tarry there,

None other has ever known.

In the Garden

C. Austin Miles, 1912

 

I woke up about 5 a.m., got out of bed, and peeked into the kitchen. My mother sat at the table with her Bible open. Only God, our two dachshunds and I were aware of her presence. I was just a young girl then, but the memory has stayed these 50-some years.

My mother at age 102 now lives with us. One morning I again got up earlier than usual. As I walked down the hall, I saw through her barely open door. She was kneeling by her bed, oblivious to my presence.

Recently our grown children visited. During our festivity, Mother excused herself. When she rejoined us, she had even more vigor than usual. Well into the evening, we all laughed, ate and enjoyed one another.

She doesn’t always see the dew on the roses. She may or may not hear the birds singing. One thing, though, for sure: The joy she shares at her kitchen table, by her bed, on her porch, is reserved for those who tarry at Jesus’ feet.

 

Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.

Mark 14:38a

 

Suggested reading:

James 2:1-4

 

13

CHICKEN FEATHERS

 

By faith, for my cleansing

I see thy blood flow.

Now wash me

And I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter Than Snow

James Nicholson, 1872

 

“Marty, I can’t use these feathers. They’re too wet and smelly and dirty.”

My friend, Faith, had driven 85 miles from Albuquerque to my parents’ ranch just for chicken feathers. She wanted them so her school kids could make turkeys for Thanksgiving. She already had the pine cones, which were clean and acceptable. Being a city girl myself, I had no answer for Faith. We were both disappointed, but knew nothing but to dispose of the foul things. They were far too disgusting even for her trash can.

After dark, she and Connie, another friend, took the feathers to a garbage bin behind a fast-food restaurant. They wanted to be sure they were out of sight and out of whiff.

In the meantime, I called Mother.

“Faith said she couldn’t use the feathers. They’re wet and dirty.”

“For Pete sake! Tell her to put them in a pillowcase and run them through the washer and dryer.”

“Hello, Faith! I just talked to Mother . . ..”

Out they went, after dark. They dug through the Burger King dumpster like a couple of vagabonds.

"There it is -- the sack with the feathers!"

We’d never seen anything so soft and fluffy as those washed-up chicken feathers.

She gave me a memento turkey. I got it out every Thanksgiving as part of my harvest decorations. The poor little guy finally fell apart, but we never forgot the city-girl chicken feather story.

Haven’t we all known a smelly, dirty old soul? Maybe we’ve been that soul!

“He’ll never be worth anything,” we all agree. We throw him in our proverbial dumpster. No need to share the gospel with him. And we don’t want him corrupting our kids. He drinks and stinks. He smokes and coughs and chokes. He came to church once and hadn’t even combed his hair.

Come on, let’s go. It may be dark where he’s hiding out. But we need to get him away from that smelly rubbish, give him a hot meal, and lead him to the Light.

Who’s that sitting at your dining table this fine Thanksgiving Day? You never know what God can do with a bunch of stinky chicken feathers.

 

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean.

Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Psalm 51:7

 

Suggested reading:

Philippians 1:1-7

 

14

FUNERAL PLANS

 

Blest be the tie that binds

Our hearts in Christian love.

Blest Be the Tie

John Fawcett, 1782

 

“Every time I see you it makes me happy.” We call him Spitfire. This five-year-old’s real name is Michael Gene. We’d come to the funeral of my aunt, his great-grandmother. The exuberant greeting came in the viewing room just hours before Aunt Alma’s funeral.

That evening at the family dinner, Spitfire sat in my lap and looked up into my eyes. “When you die, I’m gonna have you a funeral, and it’ll be a good one!”

Volunteering to plan your friend's funeral may not be the best approach. But I knew this kid liked me and would do anything for me even to the death -- my death!

I have another friend, Denise, who handles her affection in a more mature manner. Nevertheless, she never fails to show her fondness for those she loves.

When Denise was 17, she lost her mother, who had been sick for years.

“There was so much unfinished business,” my friend confided. “My mom always went to the hospital and came home. I wasn’t ready for her to leave for good.”

Denise knows from experience she may not have another opportunity to say goodbye or thanks or I love you. Sometimes she’ll call and say, “Marty, I just needed to hear your voice.” Or, “When can we get together? I’m missing you.”

Tactics and age may vary, but both friends know the importance of seizing the moment.

Though you may be quite capable of planning a rip-roaring funeral, why wait? Send a card or give a hug today. Bake a cake. Take your friend to lunch. Maybe for that extra-special person, you could just say it: “Every time I see you, it makes me happy!”

 

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.

Philippians 1:3 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

1 Corinthians 15:17-22

 

15

BRINGING SPICES

 

Up from the grave he arose,

With a mighty triumph o’er his foes;

He arose a victor from the dark domain,

And he lives forever with his saints to reign.

Low in the Grave He Lay

Robert Lowry, 1874

 

I had a dream. Several of my friends went to Jesus’ tomb. Each wore a black shawl. Each brought her favorite spice.

Valerie cried almost to the point I couldn’t understand her words. I forced myself to listen closely.

“Jesus, I have all these handicapped kids. Tom and I got into this business because You said You’d help us. Now You’re gone. I brought lavender to your grave. I love its sweet fragrance.

Val sat on the ground and sobbed. I wanted to comfort her, but I was only an onlooker.

As Val continued to cry, unaware of her surroundings, I heard talking in the distance. Again, it was one woman, talking to herself, or to Jesus, this dead Jesus.

“Lord, I brought cinnamon. It makes me think of those rolls Shane likes. You know Shane? Of course, You know him. You assured us You’d be there when he left for wherever he went. We don’t know where he is. We know only he’s on a ship somewhere. All this time, I thought at least You would know where he was and would watch over him. But You’re gone.

“You’re gone. Shane is gone.”

As Shirley composed herself, she noticed her friend, Val. They hugged, but said nothing more. What was there to say?

Another single voice. It was Joanna.

“Jesus, I found some basil in my kitchen cupboard. Remember how I used to make that pasta sauce Ernie bragged on? He did love my cooking. I guess that wasn’t enough to keep him. Anyway, I won’t need these herbs anymore. He’s gone, Lord. I didn’t think You’d be gone, too. You said you’d help us with our marriage. Remember? You said just to follow You. Now I’m bringing Ernie’s basil to Your tomb. It’s an ugly irony, Lord.”

Joanna put her spices down and sat under a tree.

I thought I wasn’t in this dream, but there I came, shouting.

“Lord Jesus, You taught me about grace. What about that stuff Isaiah said?

“‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.’

“I thought that was Your shoulders he was talking about. It’s obvious I was mistaken.”

“‘And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Oh Jesus, I thought You were that Wonderful Counselor.”

"Remember that guy named Job who had all the problems? Didn't he say, 'I know my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth. After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes -- I and not another. How my heart yearns within me!'

"Jesus, my heart, like Job's, yearns within me. I thought that Redeemer was You. Here I am bringing coriander to your grave -- my Mexican friends call it Cilantro.

A little girl entered. She whispered to each of us -- one at a time. I was last. I couldn't imagine what she was whispering that made these ladies appear confused.

The little girl now came to me.

“He’s alive,” she whispered.

Finally, she hollered, partly from excitement and partly from exasperation toward us.

“I said, He’s alive!”

At that moment, our black cloaks fell off. We wore the most beautiful spring dresses.

  • * *

Wake up! Let’s celebrate. Put on your most colorful attire. Bring your rosemary and allspice and anise. Let’s have a feast and roast the fatted calf. After all, Jesus is alive!

 

He is not here; he has risen!

Luke 24:6a

 

Suggested reading:

2 Timothy 2:14-16

 

16

TO SWEEP OR TO VACUUM

 

Take time to be holy, Let Him be thy Guide

And run not before Him, whatever betide.

Take Time to Be Holy

W.D. Longstaff

 

Our guests were coming from New Mexico in three days. Everyone knows to expect a cool blue backyard swimming pool in sunny California. Since I’m the resident people pleaser, I decided to do my part to get the pool ready. Until then, my husband, David, and I had an agreement. He kept the pool maintained. I swam in it. This worked for me.

This time, though, since I wanted it done right away, I decided I should get to work. That afternoon, I went to the backyard. Hanging on the wall outside was a long blue tea strainer. I took it off its rack and skimmed the leaves off the top of the water.

I began to realize this was just the beginning. On the same rack was a long, hollow metal pole with two holes at one end. I knew this had something to do with pool maintenance. I took it off its holder. I had to find the right contraption to go on the end of it. I looked in David’s storage cabinet and found a brush, of sorts. It had two knobs that clipped into the holes of the long pole.

Now I was making progress. I maneuvered it until I got it in the pool. I went all the way around, sweeping like a proud new housewife. I even scrubbed the sides of the pool like I’d seen David do so many times. Then I found another device. This one had wheels. I tried to make it fit somehow into the brush thing. I thought maybe the wheels would make the brush work more smoothly. I couldn’t figure it out. I found another brush, thinner, but stronger, and it worked. Again, a few times around the pool.

I am so good at this. I probably won’t need David’s help.

I noticed lots of dirt swirling in the water. I’d better turn the pool pump on so the dirt will go down . . . wherever it goes. I couldn’t wait for David to come home and see how well I was doing.

What are you doing? were the first words out of his mouth as he walked out the back door. Not, “You sure are working hard!” Not, “You’ve got most of the work done for me. Thanks!”

“Honey, I was planning to vacuum the pool as soon as I got home from work.”

Vacuum? What’s wrong with sweeping?

“You swept it and stirred up the dirt. I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to vacuum. You’ve simply swished it around, which could clog the filter.”

As I realized I had made the wrong choice, I thought of my spiritual life. Do I ever clog things up? Does some wiser Christian have to wait until the dust settles before my futile attempts at doing God’s work can be corrected?

I need to check with God regularly through prayer and study of His Word. Then I should know when to sweep and when to vacuum.

 

It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,

Nor to be hasty and miss the way.

Proverbs 19:2

 

Suggested reading:

Ephesians 2:1-10

 

17

TWILING ON

 

To the work! To the work!

Let the hungry be fed;

To the fountain of life

Let the weary be led . . . .

While we herald the tidings,

“Salvation is free!”

Toiling on, toiling on . . .

Let us hope, let us watch,

And labor till the Master comes.

To the Work

Fanny J. Crosby

 

“Twiling on, twiling on!” I sang it at the top of my lungs. I didn’t know the word beginning the chorus of this old song in my Broadman Hymnal was toiling, not twiling. That didn’t matter. I didn’t know what toiling meant either. I must have liked the sound of hearing myself bellow out that repeated twiling on, so I never went back to the verse. Or maybe I couldn’t read yet.

Whether twiling or toiling, what should be our position on works?

Fanny J. Crosby had her doctrine straight.

To the work! To the work! Let the hungry be fed.

Why, so we can go to heaven? No, silly. Because they need food.

To the fountain of life let the weary be led.

If we know we’ve been washed in the fountain, how can we not want to bring others to this water of eternal life?

She sums up her works song with the last phrase:

While we herald the tidings, “Salvation is free!”

That should be all the motivation we need to labor till the Master comes.

Let’s start twiling.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith -- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10

 

Suggested reading:

Luke 15:3-7

 

18

WHAT’S ALL THE COMMOTION?

 

Shepherds, why this jubilee? . . .

Come to Bethlehem, and see . . .

Angels We Have Heard on High

Traditional French Carol 1862

 

My husband’s grandmother held up the grocery store line showing her first great-grandbaby’s picture. How embarrassing!

As the years went by, my friends began to show me their grandchildren’s pictures. Didn’t they have a life?

Now I must go back and apologize to those hundreds of friends, and my grandmother-in-law, who has gone on ahead.

Abraham David became my number one avocation. Then came Anna, his blue-eyed, redheaded sister. Can it get any better than this? Oh yes, and then there was that spunky Aili Rose. My life will never be the same. Now, Sadie and Tristen have joined our family. I never dreamed I’d be grandmother of five. I’m sure when I become a great-grandmother, I’ll have to take out a full-page ad in all the major newspapers in the United States.

Another baby, born 2,000 years ago, changed my life forever. Maybe I don’t show His picture in the grocery store line, but I want to make a holy commotion in His behalf at every opportunity.

 

“. . . Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Luke 2:15 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

John 21:1-14

 

19

PIZZA ON THE SEA OF GALILEE

 

The disciples came to land,

Thus obeying Christ’s command,

For the Master called unto them “Come and dine.”

There they found their hearts’ desire,

Bread and fish upon the fire;

Thus He satisfies the hungry every time.

Come and Dine

C.C. Widmeyer, 1935

 

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

When the disciples took a second look, they saw Jesus throwing something up into the air. They looked more closely. It was some kind of leavened dough. He laughed as he continued tossing this raw bread into the air. He seemed to be having a great time.

None dared ask him what he was doing. They just continued to watch.

Finally, Jesus broke the silence. “I’m making breakfast pizzas. Why do you look so puzzled? Have you never eaten breakfast pizza?”

 

No, you won’t find that in any version of John 21:12-14. But it reminded me of my lunch on the Sea of Galilee.

We ate at a kibbutz, an Israeli commune, right on the water. We could choose between fish straight from the sea or pizza. Sometimes I like fish and sometimes I don’t. After all our walking, I was hungry and didn’t want to take any chances. I chose pizza.

I now think I know what those young cooks must have thought: “If these Americans insult us by not eating our Tilapia, we’ll give them heated up frozen pizza, straight from their country. We’ll make it taste as much like cardboard as possible.

I don’t blame them.

I was offered a small bite of someone else's fish -- melt in your mouth, oh so good.

I could have had fresh fish from the Sea of Galilee, but no, I chose the safety net -- pizza.

Jesus wants to give us those fresh gifts from His bounty, from the River of Life, but we don’t want to take any chances. So we pick the hard and tasteless, yet safe, pizza.

Sometimes our denominational dogma resembles frozen pizza -- hard and without any sustenance.

Our morning quiet time can be more like leftover pizza -- boring and lifeless.

We can be happy with merely filling in the blanks in our Bible study book, or we can feast on the Bread of Life.

By the way, I have tilapia every chance I get.

[_ _
__]

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

John 21:12

 

Suggested reading:

1 John 5:9-13

 

20

MY DULL VERY CHRONIC TOOTHACHE

 

O how well do I remember how I doubted day by day,

For I did not know for certain that my sins were washed away;

When the Spirit tried to tell me, I would not the truth receive,

I endeavored to be happy, and to make myself believe.

But it’s real, it’s real. O” I know it’s real;

Praise God, the doubts are settled, For I know, I know it’s real.

It’s Real

H.L. Cox, 1935

 

O how well do I remember. Like a dull very chronic toothache for about five years.

How I doubted day by day. I was only a young girl, but I had an adult-sized fear.

For I did not know for certain that my sins were washed away. I chanted over and over. “Lord save me amen,” as though I were praying, “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

When the Spirit tried to tell me, I would not the truth receive. I did do all the Baptist stuff. That should be worth something.

I endeavored to be happy, and to make myself believe. Everyone at church thinks I’m a pretty good kid.

When the truth came close and searching, all my joy would disappear. I’d learned too much scripture to think those rituals could get me to heaven.

For I did not have the witness of the Spirit bright and clear. It simply was not there.

If at times the coming judgment would appear before my mind. Please Jesus, don’t come today.

O it made me so uneasy, for God’s smile I could not find. What was the use in going to church every Sunday if I couldn’t find God’s smile?

So I prayed to God in earnest, and not caring what folks said. I told Him I knew I was a sinner. I told Him I was sorry for my sins. I told Him I wanted Him to come into my life.

Just so quick salvation reached me. Can you believe it? It happened that quickly.

Praise God, the doubts are settled, for I know it’s real. What a relief.

 

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.

John 5:13

 

Suggested reading:

1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

 

21

I’LL BE THERE

 

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound,

And time shall be no more . . .

When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.”

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

James M. Black, 1893

 

“We’ll see you Sunday.”

“I’ll be there.”

Marvin was not only our Sunday school teacher, but also a treasured friend. We’d been on vacation one Sunday and he the next. So, we all looked forward to studying the Word together and catching up on each other’s news.

We walked into Sunday school class, where another friend, Richard, began to teach. Marvin had had a run-in with his garage door and was nursing a throbbing finger.

Marvin wasn’t there.

Some years ago, I caught a ride regularly to church with a faithful Christian lady, Mrs. Siverly.

I called her on Saturday night to verify.

“I’ll be waiting for you on Jeanne Street.”

“I’ll be there.”

I waited and waited. Mrs. Siverly never came. I found out later she had died suddenly that morning.

Marvin and Mrs. Siverly were reliable people. They had every intention of being there.

Even well intentioned people don’t make it to their commitments.

There is one meeting, however, I can say with assurance, “I’ll be there.”

When the roll is called up yonder I will be there because over 50 years ago I made reservations.

 

For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thessalonians 4:16

 

Suggested reading:

Isaiah 61:7-11

 

22

THE RED COAT

 

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

. . .

Dressed in His righteousness alone,

Faultless to stand before the throne.

The Solid Rock

Edward Mote, 1832

 

"Can you believe you're so far away -- clear around the world?"

I can believe it. All I have to do is look out my window.”

My daughter and family had moved to Sakhalin, Russia.

Everyone wears drab colors. I told Greg I’ll have to ditch that red jacket.”

I immediately thought of Schindler’s List, the movie set in Nazi Germany during World War 2. It was filmed in black and white for effect. Also for effect, they showed one little girl in the mobs of helpless Jews wearing a bright red coat. Her body, face down, was later shown on top of a pile of dead corpses, the red coat her only identifier.

By the middle of Judy’s first winter in Russia, she realized there was a practical and simple reason for the colorless attire: Walking in the snow, frozen or melting, wreaks havoc on a bright wardrobe.

Whether we’re Americans, Germans or Russians; we’re all God’s fallen children, wearing the dull colors of hopelessness.

There’s another red coat. This one separates the living from the dead. It shelters us in this often cold and cruel world.

We can ditch those gray bleak rags and put on the red coat of righteousness. We just need to stretch out our arms and let Christ wrap His bloodstained coat around us.

Somebody had to die to cover our dark condition. Jesus was the only One who could do it because He was without sin. He shed His blood so we could wear the red coat. Anyone who wants it can have a red coat. The Bible says, whosoever will may come . . . freely.

Here’s what our new coats will bring us:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Freedom. No more fleece of guilt. We’re now covered with the law of love.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Privilege. We have direct access to the Father.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Opportunity. We will want to show as many people as possible where and how they can obtain their red coats.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Distinction. The Bible says we’re a peculiar people (1 Peter 2:9). This doesn’t mean we wear our coats upside-down or irritate people by flaunting our new attire. We may rub people wrong because we have a new Tailor now.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Heaven. Our coats can never wear out. We, the Red Coats, can be a part of God’s kingdom down here and live with Him in heaven forever.

Can you believe one day we’ll see countless little girls with red coats! Can you believe we can live on a new and perfect Continent forever!

Do you believe?

 

. . . He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness . . .

Isaiah 61:10

 

Suggested reading:

2 Samuel 24:18-25

 

23

PRETZELS

 

Serve the Lord with gladness in our works and ways,

Come before his presence with our songs of praise;

Unto him our Maker we would pledge anew

Life’s supreme devotion to service true.

Serve the Lord with Gladness

B.B. McKinney, 1930

 

Remember when the airlines served meals? They weren’t gourmet, but some of them actually had a little flavor.

Then they had the meals you picked up from the “ice cream cart” as you entered the plane. They, along with the peanuts and Coke, kept you from starving.

Now it’s a 4 × 3 inch package of pretzels and a beverage with only one plus: opening the cellophane container helps while away the time.

I don’t care if I never look at another pretzel.

I wonder, do I give dry pretzels, twisted and wrapped in a hard-to-open container?

Many Sunday mornings, I wake up late. I scarcely have time to get ready and be at church on time. I certainly haven’t had time to ask God to prepare my heart. Pretzels!

What happened to my quiet time this morning? Pretzels for God?

My grown daughter recently tried to share her opinion with me. I fear I closed my mind tight like that pretzel container.

Many weeks by Saturday night, my date night with David, I’m exhausted. I should have allowed myself time to rest. Now I’m left with pretzels for a romantic dinner.

What about you? Do you teach a Sunday school class? Are you frantically preparing at the last moment? Are you giving the gourmet meat of the Word to your students, or do they get pretzels?

I flew on another airline recently. The turbulence was dreadful, but they did give a choice of snacks -- trail mix, graham crackers, or granola bar -- and of course pretzels.

[_ _
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Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

Colossians 3:23

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Suggested reading:

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

 

24

THREE WRITERS AND

A ROOMFUL OF LIBRARIANS

 

While passing thro’ this world of sin,

And others your life shall view,

Be clean and pure without, within,

Let others see Jesus in you.

Let Others See Jesus in You

B.B. McKinney, 1924

 

“Sounds of the South” caught my eye. “Southern Food and Music” and “Why I Became a Writer.” I didn’t need any more to lure me into this $14.50 evening. Since I was already hooked, I didn’t bother to read the bold print: Fresno Area Annual Library Benefit.

Some years ago, when my husband got his driver’s license, his first solo trip was to the library. I, on the other hand, suffer from library phobia. My second-grade outing to the Central Avenue Library in Albuquerque didn’t prepare me for that maze of books.

As we began to mingle, I was glad my friend, Denise, was with me. Steve Yarbrough , the guest speaker; Denise and I were the only non-librarians there. Denise spoke easily with everyone she met. I tried to look like a librarian. I stirred my iced tea, then stared at my fried chicken, wondering how librarians eat chicken -- fingers or fork? I felt secure with my mashed potatoes and cream gravy.

One of the librarians asked what we did. With Denise’s casual answer, “We’re writers,” I almost swallowed my drumstick. Sure, I’d had some articles published, but a writer, me? Besides, writers love libraries.

Can you imagine a writer afraid of a library? That’s like a plumber being afraid of a hardware store.

As the evening progressed, I realized I was not breaking out in a cold sweat. No hives; no nervous tic. Did I actually enjoy myself in the midst of these educated book sorters?

We sat at a table with two young girls. To my relief and surprise, they didn’t talk much about their work. One mentioned her cooking hobby. “I found the best recipe for gooseberry chutney.”

They didn’t look like librarians. Nobody had a bun in her hair with a pencil stuck through it. No brown oxford shoes. I wonder if we looked like writers. What do writers look like?

What do Christians look like? Are we so legalistic or self-righteous that a person could see us coming a mile away? Do we stick with our spiritual clique and fear we may get our holy hands dirty?

Do we go the other way and hide the fact we’re Christians? No need to bring it up if they don’t. It’s easier that way. If the Lord wants me to talk about my faith, He’ll tell me.

I think I can take a lesson from Denise and these librarians. They were easy to be around. They didn’t flaunt their calling nor did they hide it. They were comfortable with who they were and what their jobs were.

If you’re one of a roomful of Christians, can you make the three non-Christians feel at ease? If you’re one of three Believers out of scores of skeptics, can you boldly say, “we’re Christians” without swallowing your drumstick or breaking out in a cold sweat?

[_ _
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I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.

Romans 1:16

 

Suggested reading:

Deuteronomy 6:6-25

 

25

PLEASE PASS THE CHOW-CHOW

 

Faith of our mothers, loving faith,

Fount of our childhood’s trust and grace,

Oh, may thy consecration prove

Source of a finer, nobler race.

Faith of Our Mothers

St. Catherine

 

“Three gallons chopped green tomatoes, three pounds sweet pepper, three small cabbages, one pound hot pepper, 2-1/2 cups sugar . . . “

A friend, Terrie, brought back a piece of my childhood when she presented me with a Kerr fruit jar full of chow-chow like my grandmother had made forty-five years before. With it, she included a hand-written recipe.

When I told people about this rediscovered delicacy, several asked, “What is chow-chow?” I could give them a taste and a copy of the recipe.

Then I had a dreadful thought. This culinary legend could easily die and nobody would know about chow-chow. I could lose this part of my past forever.

What else do we fail to pass on to our children and grandchildren? Maybe things more important than the relish we put on our pinto beans. Do our kids know common manners and courtesies? Is the iPod or MP3 out of their ears long enough for them to learn the art of conversation? What about respect for elders? Do our young ones realize the wealth of knowledge to be gleaned from their grandparents’ years of experiencing life?

I wonder if we’ve instilled in their hearts God’s simple principle of “Be ye kind.” Do we show by our lives how to be “tenderhearted, forgiving one another?” Are we passing down quality music to our children? Do they know the old hymns of the faith? What sustaining power can be found in that “Blessed Assurance” and “Amazing Grace!”

I remember having fun quoting the books of the Old and New Testaments, memorizing verses and learning stories from the Bible. I didn’t have an interpretation for all the passages I learned, but one by one, many of them took on a real and lasting meaning for me. John 3:16 and several verses in Romans brought understanding of the living Savior and how He could affect my life. The prophet Isaiah made me see how this Redeemer was promised long before He came in the flesh. Isaiah 26:3 tells us we can have perfect peace by keeping our minds on God. The Psalms are full of praise and worship. The Proverbs are a practical manual for living life. Many of the Old Testament books contain better-than-fiction adventure stories, like Jonah in the belly of the fish, Joshua and Gideon, great warriors for God. And where can we find better love stories than from the books of Ruth and Song of Solomon?

Eight gallons of Scripture, five quarts of music, six cups of laughter, a dash of good times. Mix vigorously with love.

Each family’s ingredients and quantities may differ. They must differ to reflect such a creative God. But please, let’s pass on to our children and grandchildren our experience-tested and proven recipes for living life to the fullest.

[_ _
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These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up

Deuteronomy 6:6-7.

 

Suggested reading:

Hebrews 4

 

26

MY RESTING PLACE

IS NOT AT LAX

 

My faith has found a resting place,

Not in device nor creed . . .

Enough for me that Jesus saves,

This ends my fear and doubt;

A sinful soul I come to him,

He’ll never cast me out.

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

Lidie H. Edmunds, 19th Century

 

I want my bed. These words I whined only to myself, but wanted to tell anyone who got in my way. We’d left Fresno late and reached Los Angeles later. I usually love traveling: Flying, driving, or cruising. Anyway you give it to me, I love it. This time I didn’t have my normal zeal for the journey. We’d left in a hurry to see David’s mother for the last time. We shouldn’t have to travel for this reason.

The hour was late. I tried leaning on David until he became uncomfortable and had to move. This left my head dangling out there somewhere in LAX. I tried putting my head in my lap, but was afraid it would stick in that position. I saw other people lying on their backpacks, but I didn't have a backpack. David probably wouldn't have allowed it, anyway. The Los Angeles Airport is not the place I want to lay my head -- even if I find the space.

My faith has found a resting place. I do have a portable but permanent resting place I acquired several years ago.

Not in device nor creed . I tried getting this rest from my membership in the church, and baptism, just to make sure. That doesn't work -- even if it's Methodist, Catholic or Baptist.

Enough for me that Jesus saves. Why didn’t they tell me that? They just said sign on the dotted line. Maybe they did, and I didn’t listen.

This ends my fear and doubt. It did just that.

A sinful soul I come to him. That’s what I did.

He’ll never cast me out. He hasn’t, and He never will. I’m sure of it.

My heart is leaning on the Word. Better than leaning on David in the Los Angeles Airport.

 

My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.

Isaiah 32:18

 

Suggested reading:

Luke 2:1-14

 

27

WHICH WAY TO SALEM?

 

Oh, who’s like my Savior?

He’s Salem’s bright King;

He smiles and he loves me

And helps me to sing.

I Love Thee

Anonymous, 1805

 

My mother, my cousin Joyce and I drove 20 miles south to the Sun-Maid Plant. We each placed orders to friends and family. Only as we munched and drove off did we realize we’d all sent care packages to Salem: Mother to Salem, New Mexico; Joyce to Salem, New Jersey; and mine went to my daughter in Salem, Oregon.

Salem means peace. Yet, how many of these cities would stand out as peaceful and law abiding?

I checked the municipal crime rates. I couldn't find anything on Salem, New Mexico and Salem, New Jersey. Maybe the names worked -- or maybe the towns are too small to make it to the listing. I went to two other Salems, Oregon and Massachusetts. They're barely lower than the national average, but I wouldn't call them peaceful cities. I know from my daughter's years there, Salem, Oregon has its crime.

What about Jerusalem, with the same root word? Is it a peaceful city?

We visited Jerusalem a few months ago. We saw armed soldiers all over the city.

This comes from the National Geographic News:

It may be called the City of Peace, but no other city has been more bitterly fought over than Jerusalem. In the past 4,000 years, it has seen at least 118 conflicts. It has been razed at least twice, has been besieged 23 times, and has had at least five separate periods of violent terrorist attacks in the past century.

That will change. In the meantime, what would help to bring peace to our cities -- and our countryside?

I have an idea.

One day I was cleaning out the cupboards and found a tube of “Aromatherapy Calming Gel.”

Breathe deeply and gently massage this cool, uplifting gel into temples and pulse points to restore inner peace and harmony.

Maybe I'll take my tithe and buy cases of this greasy stuff and send them to chambers of commerce all over the country -- all over the world.

Breathe deeply. Sounds like yoga. I’m sure there must be a measure of good gained by breathing deeply. I understand breathing in a paper bag will help hyperventilation.

The Bible doesn’t talk much about Salem, but volumes are spoken about peace. How do we get it?

The prophet Isaiah (9:6) told about Jesus, the coming Prince of Peace.

Every time we hear the Christmas story, we’re reminded of the angels’ message: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:14, KJV) He must have liked us a lot to want us to have peace and good will.

But what could He do to give us peace?

God had to have a perfect sacrifice. He sent His Son to die on the cross for us so we wouldn’t have to die spiritually. Jesus didn’t stay dead. If he had, he would have been just another religious leader with a hollow promise of peace.

If you've been justified through faith -- by asking Jesus to take over your life -- you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).

Before Jesus went back to heaven, he promised, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” (John 14:27)

“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

You can have that kind of peace or you can take your chances on aromatherapy.

 

“King of Salem” means” King of Peace.”

Hebrews 7:2b

 

Suggested reading:

Colossians 2:8-23

 

28

MY GRANDMOTHER’S CALENDAR

 

We make his love too narrow

By false limits of our own;

And we magnify his strictness

With a zeal he will not own.

There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy

Frederick W. Faber, 1862

 

Grandmother had to take a pill every other day. On her calendar, each month, she wrote, “Do” on the first day, “don’t” on the second, “Do” on the third, and on through the month.

I was old enough to know there was an easier way, but not old enough to know I couldn’t teach this saintly woman new tricks.

“Grandmother,” all you have to do is write, ‘Do’ on day one and ‘Don’t’ on day two. Then, on the odd days you do and on the evens, you don’t.”

“Oh honey, I just can’t remember all that.”

In exasperation, I’d reply, “No Grandmother, you don’t have to remember anything.”

How could this person I loved so much be so ignorant!

Another time, Grandmother gave my cousin, Tom, and me a dime to take to the store for a treat.

“Oh good, I’m going to get some root beer.” I couldn’t wait.

“Honey, please don’t buy that beer stuff.”

Like my Grandmother, maybe we often make our “do’s” and “don’ts” too complicated. God’s Word contains laws for living life successfully. Not only the laws of nature, but also God’s laws, must be obeyed. He meant it when He said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” We’ve all seen the sad consequences of spurning that command. He told us not to steal. Ever try to sleep after you’ve taken a candy bar that didn’t belong to you? Don’t lie. We all know the negative results of twisting the truth.

I’m not sure, though, that God’s list is as long as some of ours.

When my daughter, Judy, was about six, she was puzzled: “I don’t know why people don’t believe in dancing. People do it!”

Yes, people do it. People do things I don’t feel free to do. I participate in activities others don’t.

I learned when I attended a Christian college in Tennessee that there are geographic do's and don'ts, differing between North and South. Being from New Mexico, I wasn't sure what to do -- or don't!

Now, away from Tennessee and New Mexico, and a little older, I try to follow these do/don’t guidelines:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. What does the Bible say?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. What is God convicting me to do?

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Does my action offend a brother or sister?

Please don't follow my Grandmother's advice -- she made it too difficult. Certainly don't do what I did to her. If I could do it over today, I'd sit and smile as she wrote her do's and don'ts on every day of her calendar. Maybe I'd even write them for her.

By the way, I didn’t buy the root beer.

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Galatians 5:1

 

Suggested reading:

Proverbs 1:20-23

 

29

OVERTHROWING PRINCE ALBERT

 

Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!

Search me and try me, Master, today!

Whiter than snow, Lord, Wash me just now,

As in thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine Own Way

Adelaide A. Pollard, 1907

 

“There might not be meat or milk in our house, but there always was tobacco.”

These words penetrated clear through my chest. This was my daddy Mother was writing about in a letter to offspring and friends. She didn’t want to pen these words about Carroll Evans. She had hundreds of stories she could tell about this man she loved: Romantic ones like how she rode horseback four miles to the post office each week to get his letters when the two of them were courting. She’d tie the horse up, sit under a tree and read the letter before she rode home. Funny ones like his hilarious Halloween costumes. Even tough ones like when he cut his finger off with the potato planter. But, for others she loved, she had to tell this story.

Ours was not a disruptive home or one where the dad never was there. There was no drinking, no striking out.

Daddy had passions: A good laugh, a good sermon, and a cup of coffee with a friend. He loved to sit at the supper table with the family after a hard day’s work. He loved his wife’s cooking. Often he’d enjoy his pipe during dessert.

Mother proceeded to describe Daddy’s quitting days: He confessed to her he had picked up cigarette butts off the ground for just one more smoke.

I then realized he had two passions vying for his loyalty: God and tobacco.

We love to attack smokers -- now that we realize how harmful and distasteful their habit is. We hadn't been educated in the 50s.

What is my cigarette butt on the ground? What do you need one more puff of?

Daddy did quit smoking six months before his death in 1960. I was 13 years old.

 

Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?

John 21:15

 

Suggested reading:

Philippians 4:8-9

 

30

WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT?

 

So amid the conflict,

Whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged,

God is over all.

Count Your Blessings

Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1897

 

As we began the telephone conversation, I was ready for Denise’s first words:

“Wouldn’t you know it? They fixed my car for only fifty dollars.”

If these words had come from most people, I would have found an excuse to hang up. But this was Denise. She expected God to bless, and wouldn’t you know it, He did, again.

Our family had another friend. Before his death, he wrote a story about his family, “Why me Lord?” Nowhere in the whole essay could you find, “Why do I have cancer, Lord? Why am I in such pain, Lord?”

Cary wondered on paper: Why has God chosen to give me a Christian wife and three beautiful daughters? Why did God see fit to show me His plan of salvation? Why have we been blessed with earthly possessions and the ability to travel and see Canada to Mexico, the Bay Bridge to New York Island?

For every Cary and Denise, I’ve known a complainer, doubting God’s hand in his life. Sadly, I’ve been that complainer.

By God’s grace, when I say, “Wouldn’t you know it!” I want people to expect praise to come from my lips.

 

When the people complained, it displeased the Lord.

Numbers 11:1 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

2 Corinthians 5:16-21

 

31

BE YOURSELF

 

O what a standing is mine!

Heaven Came Down

John W. Peterson, 1961

 

Be yourself. We’ve all heard it, and we’ve probably said it too. Should a Christian take this advice? If we know who we are in Christ, we are free, even encouraged, to be ourselves.

We are salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14). Have you spiced up someone’s life today? Have you lent anyone your spiritual flashlight?

We are to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). That’s a tough one. No more “I can’t help myself” excuses. It’s true, we can’t help ourselves, but God has reached down and helped us out of the gutter. We should consider ourselves dead to sin, . . . alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Don’t try to be perfect through the law. You’ll fail. If we’re Christ’s, we’re dead to the law.(Romans 7:4)

We are valuable (Matthew 10:30-31). The psalmist tells us we’re fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). So much for self-pity!

We’re free (John 8:32). Hey! The license we’re looking for. I don’t think so. Paul says, “What, should we sin that grace may abound? May it never be.” (Romans 6:1)

People will know we are Christ’s disciples by our love for one another. (John 13:35) That rules out church gossip.

We are clean (John 15:3). We certainly don’t want to be dirty! We are fruitful (John 15:5). How’s your harvest this year?

We are friends of God (John 15:14). Don’t you love being God’s friend? We are hated of the world, chosen of God (John 15:19). No fence straddling!

We are free slaves (Romans 6:18). Is that an oxymoron? No, we’re freed from sin and now willingly slaves to righteousness.

We are God’s workers (1 Corinthians 3:9). We’re also His field and His building. Do we come to work on time? Are our rows straight? Are we built on the rock or on the sand?

We are Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27). Do we have habits we need to give up?

Here’s one of my favorites: A Christian is a sweet aroma. (Ephesians 5:2) How do we smell?

We’re God’s people (2 Corinthians 6:16). I can’t think of anyone I’d rather belong to.

Best of all, we’re new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). That’s better than evolution, isn’t it? What a promise!

Let’s be ourselves and revel in God’s love.

[_ _
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If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

2 Corinthians 5:17

 

Suggested reading:

1 Corinthians 12:4-31

 

32

HOW DO YOU HEAL A BLIND MAN?

 

Sweetly, Lord, have we heard thee calling,

“Come, follow me!”

And we see where thy footprints falling,

Lead us to thee . . .

Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,

Seeking his sheep,

Or along by Siloam’s fountains,

Helping the weak.

Footsteps of Jesus

Mary B.C. Slade 1871

 

He touched their eyes . . . and their sight was restored.” (Matthew 9:29-30) Touching their eyes. That must be the way to heal blind people. That’s not hard. That and a little faith on the blind man’s part and we have it made.

They brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see.” (Matthew 12:22)

How did He do it this time? He must have touched his eyes. I wish I knew for sure.

He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, ‘Do you see anything?’

“He looked up and said, ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’

“Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (Mark 8:22-25)

Oh no, this time Jesus had to take him clear out of town, spit on his eyes and put His hands on him twice. It didn’t even happen all at once.

He spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam.” So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. (John 9:6-7)

Maybe God doesn’t have a formula for healing the blind. Maybe he works one way in your life and another way in mine.

This is not to say there are no absolutes. “Ye must be born again” is an absolute. However, some folks were born again when they walked the aisle of a church. Some, like my husband, received the assurance of eternal life in a cold basement. Some, like me, may have knelt by their bed and said, “Lord, I want to know You.”

The Trinity, the infallibility of the Bible, the reality of heaven and hell -- these are absolutes. How God goes about revealing them is up to Him.

Before you go spitting in someone’s eye, make sure you’ve gotten your orders from the great Healer.

[_ _
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There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4

 

(The above was inspired by a sermon from Jack Williams)

 

Suggested reading:

Philippians 4:4-7

 

33

REJOICE!

 

Yes, on through life’s long path.

Still chanting as ye go;

From youth to age, by night and day,

In gladness and in woe.

Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart

Edward H. Plumptre, 1865

 

My mother was published in a New Mexico newspaper. I’m a grandma of five, and I live at the foot of the mountain near the Santiam River. How can you beat that!

Other things leave me sad and hopeless. My children live in Perth, Australia -- and have taken those adorable grandchildren with them. "Wars and rumors of wars" is no longer just a phrase in the Bible. Few families are immune to natural disasters: Hurricanes on the East Coast, fires in the West, political issues clouding our thinking and our relationships.

Is the rejoicing over?

Hey, that wasn’t rejoicing. That’s just the yo-yos of living life on earth.

Here is real rejoicing:

 

Rejoice that your names are written in Heaven.

(Luke 10:20)

 

Rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

(Romans 5:2)

 

We rejoice in our sufferings (Romans 5:3). That’s a weird thing to rejoice in. I think I’d rather have a root canal.

 

Paul explains: Suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.

 

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord.

(Philippians 3:1)

 

Rejoice evermore (1 Thessalonians 5:16)

[_ _
__]

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!

Philippians 4:4

 

Suggested reading:

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

 

34

MR. MULROONEY’S AUCTION

 

Because I have been sheltered, fed,

By thy good care,

I cannot see another’s lack

And I not share

My glowing fire, my loaf of bread,

My roof’s safe shelter overhead,

That he too may be comforted.

Because I Have Been Given Much

Grace Noll Crowell, 1936

 

As I served ice cream in our recently purchased flowered bowls, I thought about what I’d spouted to my cousin: Things are just things. We had returned from Uncle Jack’s estate auction. I was sharing some details with Barbara, his daughter, who was unable to come.

The orchard equipment must go. Uncle Jack had spent a lifetime sharpening his skills with these tools. The auctioneer had them gone in minutes.

Uncle Jack had restored a 1929 Model A Coupe. How can you put a price on all that passion for a job well done? How many kids got the thrill of riding in the rumble seat? Going, going, gone -- for just a few thousand dollars. No more hammering and shining. No more replacing new for old.

The crowd ambled to the back porch, where we saw hundreds of neatly stored canning jars. What happened to the spiders and dirt? As kids, we were responsible for the first rinse because we had the skinniest hands. We sat in the back yard with a galvanized tub of cold water. We each had a rag to poke into the jar. We hoped not to come up with a live spider. Then, Mother and Aunt Alma cleaned and sterilized and filled them.

We moved to the kitchen. Days before, I’d seen Aunt Alma lying in her hospital bed. She should have been there, fixing biscuits and gravy and sliced tomatoes. But the pots and pans were gone.

We had to buy the small items in lots. One of the auctioneer’s rules was that you had to dispose of all you bought.

Lisa wanted a rubber globe. She bought the lot for a dollar. “Marty, I can’t put all that stuff in the dumpster in front of your family,” she said. “That would be disrespectful.” She was relieved at my cousin, Joyce’s suggestion: Lisa and her family loaded their van and headed for the Salvation Army.

Mother and I bought Aunt Alma’s yellow flowered dishes, the ones she and Uncle Jack had bought when they started a boarding house so they could afford to send Barbara to college.

I recall our two families equaling ten. I remember how our mamas and daddies used their tools. The coffeepot was always on, welcoming a tired visitor. The old upright piano was there for us wannabe musicians to pound out our frustrations. Many summer nights, someone sat on the ice cream freezer while someone else turned the handle.

Maybe Mr. Mulrooney never sat on an ice cream freezer.

 

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Luke 12:48b

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 91

 

35

IT’S NOT THE PLACE

 

There is a place of quiet rest

Near to the heart of God.

Near to the Heart of God

Cleland B. McAfee, 1866-1944

 

We’re sitting in the Granite Café. At the table across from us I see a group of earthy-looking people. On the far wall is a couple from Los Angles. Surrounded by the Colorado Rocky Mountains, we’re all trying to realize our dreams. David and I hope to locate the land his father gave him years ago. Though undeveloped and unfound, it belongs to us. Tomorrow may be the day we reach this our promised land.

We spent our first thirty-some years in New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, but we had to see the other enchanting places out there. We raised our children in the Pacific Northwest, what many call “God’s Country.” We lived a while in the Mojave Desert. We’re now empty nesters in the San Joaquin Valley, abounding with its food from the earth. We admit we’d rather live in Colorado or Oregon than in the desert or even in California’s cornucopia.

As we drove the winding highway this afternoon, David broke the silence: “It’s not the place.”

David has taken vacation time to try to locate our little spot of wilderness. He has paid taxes to retain it. He has hired surveyors to determine the outline of the property.

Nevertheless, he knows where his joy comes from. We don’t trust in the streams and rivers, but in the Living Water. Our hope does not stand on the Rockies, but on the Rock of Ages. Our wisdom doesn’t come from the meadows, but from the Master.

We don't know when or if we'll develop this raw land and realize our dream. But we both are learning about the happiest place to be -- It's a secret place.

[_ _
__]

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 91:1 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

John 14:1-4

 

36

I WOULD HAVE TOLD YOU

 

I know my mansion he prepareth,

That where he is there I may be.

I Know that My Redeemer Liveth

Jessie Brown Pounds, 1893

 

“Marty, I’m sure Gary would have told us if he weren’t coming.” I was getting nervous about the details.

Gary has been my husband’s friend since they were toddlers. We had come to see family in Central Florida. Gary lived 200 miles south in Miami. We’d spoken to him, but hadn’t made definite arrangements.

Sure enough, Saturday morning, Gary called. He was on his way.

David and Gary have a unique friendship. They don’t see each other often, but can pick up where they left off. Gary tells a great story and makes vivid word pictures of their childhood. I love hearing these antics about my husband and his life-long friend.

David knew Gary would not let us down. If he for some important reason couldn’t come, he would have called us. Gary was dependable.

I’ve always questioned the scripture, “If it were not so, I would have told you.” Why didn’t Jesus say, “I’ll let you know if I’m coming.” It seemed somehow backward sentence structure to me. After waiting for Gary, I had a better understanding of Jesus’ words.

He loved his disciples -- and us -- so much we should expect Him to come back for us. After all, He's dependable, and we have a unique relationship with Him.

 

In my father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

John 14:2

 

Suggested reading:

Luke 10:25-37

 

37

LESSON FROM A HOT AIR BALLOON

 

Is your life a channel of blessing?

Is the love of God flowing through you?

Are you telling the lost of the Savior?

Are you ready his service to do?

Make Me a Channel of Blessing

Harper G. Smyth, 1903

 

“Grandma rode a hot air balloon today,” my niece, Charlotte, wrote on the instant message. “Tim had lots of people on the ground to break the fall when they came down.”

The balloons have handles. If people hold onto the handles as the balloonists come down, landing is smoother. Tim has admired his grandma longer than he has chased balloons for the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival. Mother’s other grandkids have taken their turns to break Grandma’s fall. Judy took off work a week to be with her after Granddad died. Greg seated Grandma at the table like Granddad used to do. Karen and Rick packed her up and brought her safely to California. Now she doesn’t have to live alone.

Then there was the time Grandma ran out of soup. She dished all the kids’ bowls, and there was none left for her. Each one gave a spoonful to Grandma. She then had a full bowl.

 

It looks like we have Grandma taken care of. Is there someone whose fall you need to break today?

 

Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way.

Isaiah 35:3

 

Suggested reading:

1 Thessalonians 5:4-10

 

38

THOUGH THE DARKNESS HIDE THEE

 

Though the darkness hide thee,

Though the eye of sinful man

Thy glory may not see.

Holy, Holy, Holy

Reginald Heber 1826

 

“Holy, Holy, Holy.” I’d sung the song for years. I considered it somewhat high church, not speaking to me, nothing practical in it.

This Sunday morning, I sang every word with tears running down my face. “Holy, holy, holy, though the darkness hide thee.”

A host of little things bothered me that day. Each one made the knot in my throat a little bigger and a little tighter.

I don’t remember the sermon that morning. I only knew I didn’t want the darkness to hide God from me.

I went home and looked up verses on darkness. Every one of them spoke also of light:

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” (Isaiah 9:2) I don’t want to walk in darkness any longer.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Stand in front of me, Father. It’s dark in here, and I want to live in the light of Your life.

“You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” (1 Thessalonians 5:5) Hey, what am I doing here? I’m a daughter of the light.

(God) “called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9) I’ve been called out of this black hole. What am I doing back in it?

My position with Christ was in the light. But I’d lost fellowship because I chose temporarily to return to the darkness. As I quit whining and confessed my silly hurts to the Son, His light came shining back through. It’s no fun playing hide-and-seek with God.

 

You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light.”

2 Samuel 22:29

 

Suggested reading:

Hebrews 6:9-12

 

39

SIMON’S MOTHER-IN-LAW

 

Let us show how he has changed us,

And remade us as his own,

Let us share our life together

As we shall around his throne.

Let us rise, then, to his summons,

Dedicate to him our all,

That we may be faithful servants,

Quick to answer now his call.

We Are Called to Be God’s People

Thomas A. Jackson, 1973

 

“There’s a party tonight.”

“Where?”

“You know Simon? It’s at his mother-in-law’s house.”

“She’s sick. I heard she had a bad fever. They don’t know if she’ll make it. They must have planned the party before she got so sick.”

“Nope. She’s up and around.”

“You’re kidding.”

“Nope. I saw her with my own eyes.”

“Maybe she should rest a few days before she starts entertaining so she won’t have a relapse.”

“Nope. Simon said she got up out of her bed and went straight to the kitchen. She has already made falafel and baklava. They said she had just started mashing up the garbanzo beans for hummus.”

“Oh, I love hummus with pita bread.”

“She already started the dough for that too.”

“How did she get well so fast?”

“Have you heard about that guy named Jesus?”

“Don’t you think he’s a kook?”

“Nope.”

“I still think she should rest a while, maybe have the party next week.”

“Nope. Are you coming?”

“I do like that hummus with pita bread. Even if I’d just been healed, I think I’d take it easy a while. I’ve had her cooking before. Maybe she doesn’t need to rest. I’ll be there. By the way, do you know her name?”

“Nope, they just call her Simon’s mother-in-law. I’d like to be the son-in-law of someone so famous.”

 

Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Mark 1:30-31

Suggested reading

Matthew 4:18-22

 

40

DEEP-SEA FISHING

 

Rescue the perishing,

Duty demands it;

Strength for thy labor

The Lord will provide.

Rescue the Perishing

Fanny J. Crosby, 1869

 

Friends came from Texas, partly to see “Granny,” my mother and their good friend, and partly so Randy could to go deep-sea fishing in the Pacific Ocean.

We drove the four hours to the coast, saw the beach, and had seafood. While we ate, we joked about my going fishing.

My stomach began to get queasier and queasier -- whether from the seafood or the winding roads or my imaginary fishing trip. We found a motel and hunkered down.

The next morning, Randy left early for his adventure. I still felt that churning inside me. When Terrie woke up, I planned to send her for some Pepto-Bismol.

She woke me first:

She stood over me and whispered, “Marty, Randy called. They don’t have enough people. He wonders if you can join them. They need at least one more.”

Ohhh, no, I can’t even turn over in this bed. How could I go deep-sea fishing?

She looked so pleading.

“Let me get up and wash my face and see how I feel.”

I agreed to go, though I've never been fishing in my life -- any kind of fishing.

Six hours later, I had caught 15 fish. I don’t know what kind of fish. I didn’t do anything but hold the line. Those big old men took it from there. They pulled in my line and whatever else you do. I don’t know. Remember, I don’t fish.

From the moment I started toward the beach that morning, I never felt another flutter in my gut. I think I had fun. I was glad for the experience. I was glad I could be the other warm body they needed. Actually, my body wasn’t too warm after being out there all day.

I don’t mean to insinuate that being a fisher of men is just about being a warm body. But we don’t need a theology degree. I’m sure Randy doesn’t have much more than a current fishing license and a lot of experience, which he acquired only by getting up and going where the fish were.

We received our license the day we got caught -- the day we came to Christ. Any good fisherman knows not to go fishing without a license. Even I know that.

Somebody will show us how to pull in our line. Surely Pastor will give us some key verses or even talk to a hard case and help pull him in.

They even had professionals to clean the fish when we got through. Someone will be there to help us disciple.

The queasy stomach will probably leave us when we get up, wash our faces and start fishing.

 

Come, follow me, “Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 5:19

 

Suggested reading:

Matthew 7:1,3-23

41

THE STROKE DOG

 

O ye who would enter that glorious rest,

And sing with the ransomed the song of the blest,

The life everlasting if ye would obtain,

Ye must be born again.

Ye Must Be Born Again

William T. Sleeper, 1877

 

“I’m sorry, sir, you can’t come in with that dog,” the Sears doorman told Ron.

“Yes I can. He’s a stroke dog.”

Ron, known by his friends as “Runamuk,” had had a stroke. He walked as much as he could. Peanut, his Chihuahua/Jack Russell cross always ran alongside, only a leash length away from his master.

“He’s a what?”

“A stroke dog.”

“What is a stroke dog?

“You’ve heard of seeing eye dogs and other helper dogs. He’s a stroke dog. He tells me when I’m going to have a stroke.”

Runamuk died about a year before we met his wife, Darlene, who told us this amusing story. She readily admitted their adorable puppy didn’t have any such amazing powers. However, this young bewildered security guard didn’t know that. He ushered Ron and the dog in. They browsed through nearly every department of this large store.

A few days later, Ron decided to take another walk and returned with his dog to Sears.

A new security person was being trained.

“Sir, I’m sorry. You can’t bring that dog in here.”

Before Ron could reply, the previous security man called out, “Yes he can. It’s a stroke dog.”

In they went on what would become a regular event for Runamuk and Peanut.

Even if your name is "Runamuk," saying a dog is a stroke dog won't make him so. Peanut was a cuddly companion for a sick man -- nothing more, nothing less.

We sometimes get creative with our religion. They get to heaven by being baptized. We get saved by joining the church. Some other church folks get in by quoting certain dogma or being especially good.

A preacher or a confirmation or baptism certificate can’t make a person a Christian any more than Runamuk’s pronouncement made Peanut a stroke dog.

I don’t know how to make a stroke dog. But I know there’s only one way to make a Kingdom of God Person. Jesus tells us plainly that He is the Door. “No man comes unto the Father but by Me (John 14:6).” Nothing more, nothing less.

I admire Ron’s resourcefulness. Maybe Peanut was a stroke dog.

[_ _
__]

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 46

 

42

MY DEFENSIVE WALL

 

A mighty fortress is our God,

A bulwark never failing;

Our helper he, amid the flood

Of mortal ills prevailing:

For still our ancient foe

Doth seek to work us woe . . .

And, armed with cruel hate,

On earth is not his equal.

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Martin Luther, 1529

 

A flood of mortal ills prevailing. One morning my mother and I ate breakfast at a senior hangout. As we walked from our car, we saw an older lady lying on the sidewalk, her wig a few feet away. A crowd already had gathered around her. We simply stayed back and said a prayer.

Soon medical emergency people came to her aid. After we finally could enter the restaurant, we continued to see mortal ills -- crutches, drawn faces, and confusion. As we watched one couple, we didn't know who was helping whom.

Don't think I'm poking fun. As we sat drinking our coffee, we counted our blessings. Most of us do have our own flood -- or at least a trickle -- of mortal ills.

For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe: Doesn’t he though! Don’t feel individual. He has been around a long time.

And, armed with cruel hate. Yes, he’s hateful. We see him in our homes and in our country. We see him where our young men and women fight and die.

On earth is not his equal. He needs to be reckoned with.

Not to worry.

A mighty fortress is our God. Fortress and Masada come from the same Hebrew word. We visited this citadel a few years ago. The structure impressed us. The sad ending left us speechless. Though well made, their fortress could not endure. Nine hundred sixty Jews chose suicide rather than succumb to Roman invasion.

Our fortress will endure.

A bulwark never failing. I met a young pastor who said, "I won't sing a song with the word bulwark in it." "Bulwark -- A defensive wall." As for me, I like having God as my defensive wall, and I'm excited to sing about Him.

Our helper he. Not the kind of helper as in, “honey, do you want to help mommy carry in the groceries?” He is our Helper with a capital H. He is our Helper as in couldn’t do it without Him.

Next time we have a flood of ills prevailing, let’s remember we have a fortress, a bulwark and a helper.

 

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Psalm 46:7

 

Suggested reading:

Ephesians 2:1-10

 

43

QUICK ‘N’ INSTANT

 

He called me long before I heard,

Before my sinful heart was stirred,

But when I took him at his word,

Forgiv’n he lifted me.

He Lifted Me

Charles H. Gabriel

 

My mother would never stoop to make a cake from a mix. She also sees no need for fast take-out food. She makes almost all her meals from scratch.

I’ve known other people who lived from microwave to Happy Meal.

I’m somewhere in the middle. I don’t like junk food, but I also don’t like to cook. So I sometimes cheat a little.

When we think today of something being quick or instant, we think of hamburger joints or Hamburger Helper.

Our King James Bible uses some old English words that have completely different meanings from their present-day usage.

Quicken means to be made alive. Ephesians says, “You hath he quickened who were dead in sins.” Even though it’s immediate, this quickening lasts forever. It is free, but a heavy price was paid for it. Jesus will make alive anyone who will come to Him in faith, trusting Him to pay the price for his sin.

Once we’ve been quickened by the new birth, we’re told to be instant. Not like pudding or oatmeal. This archaic word means to always be available. It says to be instant in season and out of season. (2 Timothy 4:2, KJV)

Do you live for the moment like the present quick and instant things we have in the 21st century? Or, have you been quickened forever, ready to be instant in season and out of season?

[_ _
__]

Even when we were dead in sins, (God) hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).

Ephesians 2:5 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

Luke 14:28-30

 

44

DON’T JUMP OFF

THE TEETER-TOTTER

 

A charge to keep I have,

A God to glorify,

Who gave his Son my soul to save,

And fit it for the sky.

A Charge to Keep I Have

Charles Wesley, 1762

 

I was bored going up and down on that big board. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t know you weren’t supposed to jump off a teeter-totter when another kid was sitting on the other end. I was only in the first grade.

Miss Scoggins yanked me by the arm and took me straight to the principal’s office. The other kid cried with a bloody nose. How was I to know this law of physics? I hadn’t even had basic science. Remember, I was only in the first grade.

For the last 60 some years, I’ve stayed off these playground hazards. But am I still jumping off teeter-totters?

I'm no longer in the first grade -- of public school or in my walk with the Lord. If I commit to something, I need to stay on until the ride finishes. I'm now old enough to know I have a responsibility to the guy sitting on the other end of that big board. I also know my life involves more than my own fun and games.

How many noses have I bloodied? How many leaders have I left hanging? How many people have had to do double the job because I jumped off? How many times have I disappointed the Lord I’m supposed to be serving?

Let's pray for guidance and count the cost before we get on a teeter-totter or a committee or a teaching staff. Then maybe we won't have to bail out and leave the other guy bloodied -- or at least exhausted.

 

No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.

Luke 9:62

 

Suggested reading:

Acts 9:1-16

 

45

SAUL, DO I HAVE A DEAL FOR YOU!

 

Ready to suffer grief or pain,

Ready to stand the test.

Ready

A.C. Palmer

 

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bring ten people next Sunday, and you’ll go in Community Church’s permanent Hall of Fame.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Help pack my pew on Thursday night, and I’ll take you to dinner.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bring the most people to Sunday school, and you’ll get a special lapel pin.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. See the world’s largest popsicle right here at First Church of Siberia.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Bring a dish and bring a friend to family night next Friday.

 

If you’re over 50 and have been in the church, you’ve probably heard similar promotions. I’m not opposed to any legal and moral way to expose a person to the gospel. However, Saul had no popsicles or free dinner.

Saul persecuted the Christians. He didn’t just send nasty letters about them to the editor or picket them in the town square. He jailed and helped kill them.

On his way to Damascus, Saul was blinded by a bright light.

“Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

Evidently Saul knew this was more than indigestion or hallucinations. He responded to the voice: “Who are you, Lord?”

The Lord told him where to go and what to do. God then told Ananias where to meet Saul and what to tell him. One of his instructions was to tell Saul “how much he must suffer for my name.”

If someone had a get-rich-quick scheme or a sure way to live longer or the way to peace and tranquility, do you think he would start his spiel by saying, “all you have to do is go and find someone to beat you until you’re passed out and bleeding and almost dead?’

Saul, whom God later named Paul, was not the only one who was told he would suffer for the sake of Christ.

 

For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.

Philippians 1:29

 

Suggested reading:

Acts 1:6-11

 

46

ONE DAY

 

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,

One day the skies with His glories will shine.

One Day

J. Wilbur Chapman, 1909

 

One day . . . Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin. What a cute baby. Too bad he has to be born in that stinky barn. It does look like his mom and dad love him. I’m sure he’ll have a good life. There’s a lot of commotion going on about him. I wonder what makes him special. No dignitary would be born in this place.

One day they led him up Calvary’s mountain . . . Is that Jesus, the one we saw in that stable a little over 30 years ago, when we went to pay our taxes? It couldn’t be. I thought he would rise to greatness despite his humble beginning. What a disappointment. What pain he must be in. His poor mother! I wonder what he did to deserve this.

One day . . . angels came down o’er his tomb to keep vigil. Somebody suggested he might be the Messiah. Obviously they were wrong. He just died the death of a lowly criminal.

One day the grave could conceal him no longer. Somebody said that guy named Jesus is alive. It can’t be true. I know he died on that tree three days ago. I was there, watching.

One day the trumpet will sound for his coming! It’s true. That baby was the Messiah. He is the Messiah. They killed Him, but He didn’t stay dead. I know. I talked to Him. I asked Him to take me with Him to His home. He promised He would if I’d simply believe He is the Son of God. I mentioned that awful stuff I’ve done. He said that would be totally blotted off my record. How could I not believe! He has done everything He said He would do. One day He will fulfill the last of His promises. This kid from such humble beginning certainly did make good!

 

This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.

Acts 1:11

[_ _
__]

 

Suggested reading:

John 10:1-15

 

 

47

MUPPIM, HUPPIM AND ARD

 

Does Jesus Care….

O yes, He cares;

I know He cares,

His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.

Does Jesus Care?

Frank. K. Graeff, 1901

 

 

“Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” are two little eyes and a little head that sail the sea in a wooden shoe, later learned to be the wee one’s trundle bed.

Eugene Field was afraid of the dark when he was a little boy. Maybe this is why he wrote children's poetry -- to calm kids' fears.

In our Sunday school class, we studied about Joseph. From reading Genesis 46, Jalayn, a class member, noticed three names of those listed to go to Egypt: Muppim, Huppim, and Ard.

There are lots of names listed in the Old and New Testaments, some not so rhythmic.

God knew them all -- even Bela, Beker, and Ashbel (Genesis 46:21)

God knows your name. He knows my name.

He knows the number of hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7). He knows our hearts (Acts 15:8). Are they wicked? Are they redeemed? He knows the ways we take (Job 23:10). The narrow way, the broad way, the way that leads to destruction, the way that leads to eternal life? He knows who is His (II Timothy 2:19). He knows all things (I John 3:20).

He knows our darkest fears -- fears that can't be lulled away by a nursery rhyme.

Is God some kind of trivia buff? Or is He truly interested in who we are and what we need -- and our deepest desires?

God knew Joseph’s name and much more. I wonder if Joseph was afraid of the dark when his brothers put him in that awful pit. Then they sold him into slavery. I’ll bet he got homesick. If we study Joseph’s life, we see that God never took His hand off this His child. God not only kept Joseph safe, He allowed him to become the provider for his long-estranged family.

I’ve lived in over 40 houses. Early on, I got tired of getting used to a new school, new neighborhood, and new friends. Nobody knew me or my past. I thought I was an unknown.

God not only knew Martha Evans at all 12 schools she attended. He walked her to class; He walked her home. He allowed her to go through some ugly stuff, but He never left her to go through it alone. He later taught her through her past and gave her healing she never imagined possible.

God knows your name and how many schools you’ve attended and what you’re struggling with right now.

Whether you’re scared of the dark or afraid to go to work in the morning, God knows you and will go with you.

It would be fun to sail in a wooden shoe sometime.

 

Suggested reading:

Ephesians 1:3-14

 

48

PURE BLOOD AT LAST

 

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race,

Ye ransomed from the fall.

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

Edward Perronet, 1779

 

I’m Welsh. The truth is, I’m Welsh, Scottish, Irish, and rumor says one sixty-fourth American Indian.

Welsh is, who knows why, what I want to be. I recently saw a bumper sticker that said, “The best part of me is Welsh.” Someone must feel like I do. I see Welsh people as artistic and romantic. Or maybe it’s my desire to be connected to the parent I lost 57 years ago -- the parent who himself probably was Welsh only as far as his name was "Evans."

If not Welsh, I’d like to be a big part of whatever I am.

I have a friend who is half Italian and half German. Another friend is half Finnish and half English. Oh to be a whole half of something. I’m stuck with being that British hodgepodge with a dash of Native American.

I complained to my Russian friend about being an orphan.

“I may be all Russian, but I still feel like an orphan.” Lynda’s parents left Russia and moved to Iran. She was born in Iran and came to the United States when she was one-year-old.

Even if you have a pedigree, you can feel like an orphan.

In May of 1963, my orphan status changed. I became a full-blooded member of God’s family.

 

He is a Jew who is a Jew inwardly.

Romans 2:29

 

Suggested reading:

Romans 8:14-17

 

49

GEORGIA LOU SHAW’S BABY

 

All glory to God, I’m a child of the king.

With Jesus my Savior, I’m a child of the king.

My Father is Rich in Houses and Lands

Hattie E. Buell

 

“There’s Georgia Lou Shaw’s baby.” As a little girl, I heard these words coming from the old timers. Though my mother had been married to my daddy, Carroll Evans, for 12 years before I was born, I was still “Georgia Lou Shaw’s baby.”

There was something about Georgia Lou that everyone liked. They say her four older brothers spoiled her, but it must have been good spoiling.

I’m sure most of the people in Mountainair, New Mexico, knew my name was Martha Evans: the people in the drug store where I whirled around on the bar stools and drank Coke. The man who fixed my bicycle tire. The grocer. But the important thing was that I was Georgia Lou Shaw’s baby.

Several years ago, I walked into our then new church, where my mother had already gotten acquainted.

“How is Georgia?”

“Where is Georgia?”

“You know Marty, don’t you? She’s Georgia’s daughter.”

I felt somewhere between chopped liver and royalty. Truth be known, I’m proud to be Georgia Lou Shaw’s baby.

I’m proud to be Someone else’s child. In the pharmacy or the gym or the grocery store, I hope they recognize me as a child of the King.” Isn’t it great to be royalty!

 

To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.

John 1:12

 

Suggested reading:

James 2:1-13

 

50

KEEPING UP APPEARANCES

 

Let us join our hands

That the world will know

We are one in the bond of love.

The Bond of Love

Otis Skillings, 1971

 

“Richard, you know I love my family, but that doesn’t mean I should have to acknowledge them in broad daylight.”

This was Mrs. Bouquet’s (Bucket’s) response to her husband after his timid attempt at reprimanding her for her rudeness.

In this British comedy, the title tells it all. The missus keeps up appearances at all costs. Her siblings from the other side of the tracks show up at inopportune times, crashing her teas and recitals.

Comedy usually exaggerates life -- often only slight exaggeration.

As I read in Romans 12:9, love must be sincere, I wonder if I’m any better than the fictitious Mrs. Bucket.

Sometimes I catch myself giving that condescending smile we all hate to receive.

There have been times I’ve prejudged people and have put them either under or above myself.

When I went back to school in my later years, I met another Christian lady. I should have been thankful. But I was afraid of her. She had it together. She held her head up high, dressed well and was friendly and outgoing.

“Marian is probably some preacher’s wife who doesn’t know anything about people’s real problems,” I said only to myself, thank goodness.

As I got to know her, I found out we had heartaches in common. We then could lift up each other in prayer and encouragement.

Alice was my mother’s bank customer. Because of red tape involved with this account, Mother always dreaded to see her coming. This soon developed into a lasting negative attitude. When Mother moved away from the city to the ranch, it was a disappointment to discover Alice was her new neighbor. Also, Alice was hired to be the new kindergarten teacher. Mother thought, “Do they have to stoop to that?”

My mother learned her lesson about being judgmental. It didn't take long to see what a good lady Alice was -- and how she related to those children.

“I’m grateful I hadn’t spread my negative thoughts about this gifted lady,” my mother later admitted.

Dina had more good habits than bad. It took us a while to realize that. We hated how she smoked, abusing her own body and making it hard for us to be around her.

In spite of this hard-to-break habit, Dina, we soon found out, is a true giver of herself. Betty is an older woman with many physical and mental problems. Nobody knew how to cope with her, much less to be her friend. Dina rose to the occasion. She took her to the doctor, to lunch, to church. Betty often had verbal outbreaks and lashed out at Dina, her only friend. The next week at prayer meeting, Dina simply asked for prayer for Betty, saying how much she had grown to love her.

Once in a while, people are downright hard to get along with -- even after we get to know them. The Bible tells us we still must love them. We must put them ahead of ourselves. We must live in harmony with them. We must not be conceited toward them.

We love our brothers and sisters in Christ -- but heaven forbid we should have to acknowledge them in broad daylight outside the church walls. After all, some of them are rather peculiar.

 

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.

James 2:1

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 8

 

51

EVEN ME

 

Wonderful things in the Bible I see

This is the dearest, that Jesus loves me.

I am so glad that Jesus loves me.

Jesus Loves Even Me

Philip P. Bliss

 

One Sunday I went to parts of three church services because I wanted to be present at all the baptisms. Each time, we sang the old children’s hymn, “Jesus Loves Even Me.” On my way home and all afternoon, that song rang in my head. I enjoyed the light melody and the nostalgia of an old Sunday school tune.

When I got home, I began to think about the words. Why did the author say Jesus loves even me? I looked up Philip P. Bliss in Kenneth Osbeck’s Amazing Grace. Surely, I’d find a former life of slave trading like that of John Newton. Maybe in his pre-converted life, he, like Saul, persecuted Christians. Was he an agnostic, like Lew Wallace, who was compelled by an atheist orator to study his own beliefs more closely and then find the truth of God’s love?

Philip P. Bliss, associate of the great preacher, D. L. Moody, simply wanted to express musically how much it meant that Jesus had picked him out to love. I found no skeletons in his closet.

Are there skeletons in your closet? Do you have a dirty heart only a mother could love? Surely God couldn’t love you. You’ve blown it.

No one who has sinned can enter heaven. (Revelation 21:27) It looks like the atheist or the murderer won’t make it.

Are you a philanthropist whose eulogy will cover the front page of the newspaper? Has a big part of your money gone to charity? Are you president of the children’s fund?

All have sinned. (Romans 3:23) Even that big building you built downtown for the homeless won’t get you into God’s presence.

We’re all doomed. But God in His grace has stepped in. He sent Jesus, who loved even you and even me so much that He was willing to die to cover our sins.

If there hasn’t been a time in your life that you were amazed and humbled by the fact that Jesus loved even you, rich or poor, naughty or nice, you’re on the wrong road.

Each of the six children and adults baptized that Sunday had to have a time of realization -- Jesus loves even me—or their baptisms weren’t worth the water it took to dunk them.

[_ _
__]

What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?

Psalm 8:4.

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 77:11-20

 

52

PONDER ANEW

 

Ponder anew what the Almighty can do.

Praise to the Lord the Almighty

Joachim Neander, 1680

 

You don’t have to ponder. You can cogitate. This makes me think of an old man sitting in a rocking chair, chewin’ and whittlin’. At the same time, he’s thinking hard about life.

Philosophers reflect. I can’t see that old man in the rocking chair reflecting.

I don’t know who ruminates but a cow. The dictionary says it means to chew the cud. The second definition is to think or ponder at length. I still think we should leave that to the bovine family.

The daydreamer muses. I do plenty of that. Meditate -- I think that's what the religious folks and the yoga experts do.

My husband ponders -- slow and deliberate. Often he'll say, "I have an idea." It might be minutes -- or hours -- before he gets around to verbalizing his brainchild. For some of his more profound thoughts, I'm still waiting.

Ponder, cogitate, reflect -- what the Almighty can do.

What can the Almighty do?

Jesus “is able to save completely those who come to God by Him.” Hebrews 7:25). If he could do no more, that would be worthy of our pondering.

He is able to make us stand. (Romans 14:4)

“He is able to guard what I have entrusted to him.” (2 Timothy 1:12) If you’ve entrusted your soul to Him, it’s safe. Reflect on that.

He is “able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18) Are you being tempted? Think about what the Almighty can do for you.

He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3:20) Cogitate on that one.

He is “able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” (Jude 24). That’s something to ruminate over!

[_ _
__]

All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done.

Psalm 64:9.

 

Suggested reading:

1 Corinthians 15:51-58

 

53

HOSPICE LIVING

 

Living for Jesus through earth’s little while,

My dearest treasure, the light of his smile,

Seeking the lost ones he died to redeem,

Bringing the weary to find rest in him.

Living for Jesus

Thomas O. Chisholm, 1917

 

We flew all night. They said she couldn’t last much longer.

“Mother, David is here. He came from California to see you.”

“Good to see you,” we thought we heard her mumble.

We gave Rosie, my mother-in-law, plenty of kisses and gentle hugs. On the first day, we thought we saw her mouth the words back to us, “I love you.”

We tried to give her water, but she quietly declined. Quietly -- like she did everything now.

“Her body is shutting down. She won’t starve to death. This is a natural transition. It’s all part of the dying process.” Dawn had been a hospice nurse for six years. She knew how to prepare us.

After three days of Rosie’s gradual decline, we flew home, carrying more baggage than we’d come with.

“Dying process.”

I hadn’t known about the dying process before, only about dying.

I found the neighbor man dead on Christmas Eve when I was 12. I saw my daddy die when I was 13. I’d been to a lot of funerals; I’m from a large family.

At Good Shepherd Hospice, every nurse knows her job -- to help the patient die with dignity.

Maybe this hospice concept could be transferred to our daily lives. We’re all going through the dying process from the minute we’re born.

Since we know we’re dying, why don’t we help one another do it gracefully and with dignity?

To die with dignity, one must know the Author of life. He died so we don’t have to die eternally. If we know Him, we should take every opportunity to introduce Him to someone else in this hospice life.

If we’re dying, why do we need to store up gobs of money? We will need only enough to last until we go.

During this dying process, we should let go of those earthly grudges we’re clenching onto for dear life. We won’t need them where we’re going.

It could be time in this process for an apology or a thank you -- maybe a hug or a smile.

When we start living like we’re dying, then we can begin to live life to the fullest.

 

“. . . Death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart.

Ecclesiastes 7:2

 

Suggested reading:

Jeremiah 29:10-14

 

54

I HAVE A PLAN

 

Under the shadow of thy throne

Thy saints have dwelt secure;

Sufficient is thine arm alone,

And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,

Or earth received her frame,

From everlasting thou art God,

To endless years the same.

O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Isaac Watts, 1719

 

“I have a plan!”

When I heard this proclamation from a political candidate, I immediately thought about God’s words through Jeremiah to the Babylonian exiles.

“I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. He doesn’t have to wait until he gets elected. God’s plans will come to pass.

Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Even well-meaning candidates’ plans may not be healthy for us. They could cause us to have to pay more taxes. There may be more government involvement than we’d like. These plans might be good for one person, but not for another. They may not be good for our environment. It’s not God’s nature to harm us. It’s His nature to prosper us.

Plans to give you hope and a future . The candidates wouldn't be worth their salt if they didn't talk about the future -- and hope. Is your future in the welfare program or social security? Is your hope for your children in the Head Start Program?

Let’s be sure to vote. It’s our duty and our privilege. But remember, when God says, “I have a plan,” it’s not political rhetoric.

 

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

 

Suggested reading:

2 Samuel 9

 

55

MEPHIBOSHETH AND ME

 

“Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine.”

You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time.

He who fed the multitudes, turned the water into wine,

To the hungry calleth now, “Come and Dine.”

Come and Dine

C.B. Widmeyer

 

Before a recent study on the life of David, I knew nothing more about Mephibosheth than how to spell and pronounce his name. That’s more than some folks can boast. Putting the spelling bee aside, I learned I have a lot in common with this guy with the long name.

David looked for any way he could to show kindness to his best friend, Jonathan, who had died. He was told Jonathan had a son named Mephibosheth. “He is crippled in both feet.”

In David’s day, they didn’t allow the crippled to serve in the temple. In fact, no one with even a slight defect could serve.

Thank God, I’ve never been crippled physically, but I’m not without defect.

The New Testament doesn’t let us off the hook. We can’t enter God’s presence with sin in our lives. We’re defective. Our hearts are crippled.

If you think you might be a pretty good citizen and your defects aren't big enough to matter, read Romans 3:23 -- all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Paul went on to tell the church at Rome, “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23a).

When Mephibosheth was brought to David, he was intimidated and skeptical why David would want to see him. He even referred to himself as a “dead dog.”

“Don’t be afraid . . . for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father . . . “was David’s gracious reply.

This is what Jesus says to you and me: “I will show you kindness for the sake of The Father.”

The rest of the verse in Romans 6 reads, “. . . but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

David didn’t make Mephibosheth just a hired hand whom he treated with some amount of decency. He said, “You will eat at my table.”

Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20)

Mephibosheth “ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.”

We too can eat at the King’s table. After all, if we accept His gift, we’re the King’s kids.

 

Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. . . . and you will always eat at my table.

2 Samuel 9:7

 

Suggested reading:

Ephesians 5:15-17

 

56

LISTEN TO McGRUFF

 

People grope in darkness,

Searching for a way,

Don’t you know of someone

You can help today?

Do You Really Care?

Bill Cates, 1967

 

“Stay alert and be aware of what is going on around you.” This wisdom comes from McGruff, the canine mascot for the National Crime Prevention Council.

My husband, David Magee, must be related to McGruff. He continually tells me, “Marty, be careful. Be aware of your surroundings. When you come out of Wal-Mart, look around, hold on to your bags. Don’t flaunt your cash. Don’t buy so much you can’t have one hand free.”

I think that last bit of advice may have a dual meaning.

At any rate, Magee and McGruff have my best interest in mind.

After one of these family safety sessions, I got to thinking, what about my spiritual surroundings? Am I aware of others in the room? Is there someone in need? Am I too busy with my shopping or chatting that I’m oblivious to a hurt?

I once had lunch with a friend. I know she didn’t mean to be loud. Her voice just carried more than most. I became uncomfortable as we began discussing church problems. Some of these issues may have needed addressing, but this was not the place. I wonder if the waitress thought, “That’s why I don’t go to church. Those Christians have too many problems.”

My mother tells of a pastor who was aware of his surroundings. At every church dinner, he filled his plate last. “At our church, the pastor goes first,” a visitor commented. This servant behavior didn’t go unnoticed. If you’re the pastor, maybe you should be last. If you’re a member, it would be a nice gesture to let the leader of the flock go first. But don’t stand there all day making your point. Just be a quiet servant.

Stay alert. Look around. There may be a potential Christian in the mob. Don’t flaunt, but don’t hide, what you’ve been given. Listen to McGruff and Magee!

 

Be very careful, then, how you live -- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil .

Ephesians 5:15

 

Suggested reading:

Exodus 12:1-13

 

57

NOTTOWAY

 

Oh, what compassion, oh boundless love!

Jesus hath power, Jesus is true;

All who believe are safe from the storm,

Oh, He will pass, will pass over you.

When I see the blood . . . I will pass over you.

When I See the Blood

J.G.F.

 

Nottoway, in White Castle, Louisiana, is the largest surviving plantation home in the old south. It also is one of the most fortunate. This area was occupied during the Civil War by Union troops. The mansion owes its survival to Mrs. Randolph. A Union gunboat on the Mississippi fired on the house.

When Mrs. Randolph appeared on the front porch, the young captain recognized her. He also recognized the home as one in which he had been a guest several years before the war. He came ashore and apologized for his intentions. For their safety, he also left his revolver with the women and children who remained in the home.

God instructed Moses and Aaron on how His people would be recognized and kept safe as He brought judgment on Egypt. Each family must take a lamb without defect, and slaughter it. “Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the door frames of the houses . . . On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn . . . The blood will be a sign on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.”

Have you placed the blood on your doorframe? Have you entertained the Son of God? When you appear before Him will He recognize you?

 

When I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

Exodus 12:13

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 77:16-20

 

58

I HEAR THE ROLLING TUNDO

 

I see the stars,

I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout

The universe displayed . . .

How Great Thou Art

Carl Boberg, 1886

 

"Evan, Mommy has an important meeting at church, and you must be quiet. You can take your favorite truck, and I've packed you a lunch -- even with an extra cookie. But you must be quiet."

Emily, my niece, was going to a planning meeting at church. Being the only one with a three-year-old, she wanted to make sure he didn’t cause a problem. It was a stormy day, and she wished she and Evan could stay home, but knew this meeting was important, and she’d already committed herself.

Evan was the perfect little boy. He even drove his red dump truck quietly on the fellowship hall carpet. His usually loud little-boy truck noises stayed no more than a whisper. Emily was proud. Now she knew she could take Evan places and he wouldn’t embarrass her.

“Mommy, the tundo! Listen to the tundo!”

He had contained himself as long as he could. He loved the thunder and the lightning. He loved all those things God had made that others thought scary. He loved the bothersome elements like the rain. He needed his mommy and all the other committee ladies to stop their meeting and listen to the “tundo.” They did just that.

Committee meetings are necessary. Quiet and obedient little boys are nice. But how long since you've listened to the tundo with your children? No thunder in your part of the country? How about taking a sack supper and watching the sun set on the ocean with your daughter -- instead of taking her to McDonald's? Why not drive to the mountains with your kids instead of spending the afternoon in front of your computer? You live in the desert? In the spring, you'll find the most colorful wild flowers -- which probably got there because of those rare July tundo showers.

 

And these are but the outer fringe of his works; how faint the whisper we hear of him! Who then can understand his power?”

Job 26:14

 

Suggested reading:

Genesis 8:13-22

 

59

MR. AND MRS. NOAH’S

ANNIVERSARY PARTY

 

When the Lord is near,

The dove of peace sings in my heart,

The flowers of grace appear.

Sunshine in My Soul

Eliza E. Hewitt, 1887

 

"Honey, wouldn't it be fun to go back to the ark? Maybe we could plan that for our 750th anniversary. Wasn't it fun -- just us and the kids and the animals? We all were a little smelly. Remember how we sat around and played table games? I'd milk the cow. You'd churn the butter and make cheese and yogurt. We'd look out the window and watch the rain while we ate your scrambled eggs. I've never known anyone to make scrambled eggs as tasty as yours.

“Priscilla, wasn’t that funny when the kids tried to get into the kangaroo’s pouch?”

“And you, Mr. Noah, had the nerve to put that squirrel in my side of the bed. Quit laughing!

“Let’s consider it. You check on the animals. I know they have at least one giraffe at the Ararat Zoo. I’ll contact the kids, then call Rainbow Travel.”

After a whole day at the zoo and the humane society, all Noah could bargain for was a Dominecker hen and a mangy hyena.

Mrs. Noah did no better. The kids made excuses why they couldn’t go: Shem wanted to go to the Mediterranean; Ham couldn’t afford the trip; and Japheth remembered getting seasick. The travel agent said they weren’t doing Ark cruises. She seemed to have a superstition about floods. She tried to put Mrs. Noah on the Dead Sea Gambling Boat.

Noah was beside himself.

“Doesn’t that travel lady know God said He’d never flood the earth again? Didn’t anyone tell her about the rainbow? She ought to know. She named her company after it.”

“Noah, my love, maybe our Ark days are over. That was then. It could be God wants us to remember His promises and get the Word out to our neighbors.”

“Yes, Priscilla, every time I think about how He talked to me at the altar, I realize how much He loves His people. He wants to give everyone a new start.

“I have a feeling He’s going to make a Way for men and women throughout the ages. I think He’s going to open the floodgates of heaven again.

“I have a hunch people thousands of years from now will try to find the ark. I guess that’ll be okay, but I hope they don’t make a shrine out of it. They won’t need a 450-foot boat to prove our story is true. They’ll just have to trust God like I did when He told me to build the ark.

“Priscilla, why don’t you make some of that scrumptious cucumber dip and barley cakes. I’ll roast a lamb, and we’ll have a big anniversary party right here.”

The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Genesis 8:21-22

 

Suggested reading:

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

 

60

ROMANCING THE PLANE

 

Sorrow and sighing shall be no more,

O that it were today!

Then shall the dead in Christ arise,

Caught up to meet him in the skies.

What If It Were Today

Leila N. Morris, 1912

 

“Marty, just drive by the baggage-claim area. Come late. The security people won’t let you stop. I’ll try to be outside when you get there so I can jump in the car.”

Denise gave me these instructions for picking her up at the airport.

Airports and air travel have changed.

My Uncle Vester took my cousins and me to the Albuquerque Airport on Sunday afternoons for entertainment. We loved to watch the planes take off and land. Craning our necks, we’d stand for hours, looking up.

Other times we'd go to the airport to pick up Aunt Emma or Uncle John. Of course, only our Sunday-best clothes would do. It was an occasion. We'd park and then walk to where we could see the plane fly in. When we took our loved ones back, we'd dress up again. Several minutes after we saw their plane soar high in the air, we'd slowly and reluctantly walk away. We waved the whole time -- like they could see us.

When Jodie flew to New York, it almost did this little sister in. We cried and hugged, cried and hugged until the “Final Call.”

In those unsecured days, many of us had a love affair with the airplane and all it represented. It was somewhat mystical -- maybe because most of us couldn't afford the ticket to actually fly. At least we could eat at the airport, pick up and send off our rich relatives and cry over their departures.

Let’s get over our aviation melancholy. There’s going to be a day when God’s people will see Jesus coming in the air. We’ll meet Him in the clouds. No baggage claim. Anything we need or ever could want will be waiting for us. No need for security. The Lord will know His own. No need to dress up. We’ll be given robes of righteousness. No tears. No goodbyes.

Go outside. Look up! It may be better than watching airplanes.

 

There is laid up for me a crown of righteousness . . . unto all them also that love his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:8 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

Matthew 25:31-46

 

61

THELMA’S WINDING PATH

 

All the way my Savior leads me;

Cheers each winding path I tread,

Gives me grace for every trial,

Feeds me with the living bread . . ..

This my song through endless ages.

Jesus led me all the way.

All the Way My Savior Leads Me

Fanny J. Crosby, 1875

 

“Pray for Thelma. She’s back in prison.”

Why would this nice lady be in prison? I began to study the ups and downs of Thelma’s life.

Her mother had a stroke when Thelma was seven. This left her having to do most of the household chores. Not an easy childhood.

At age eight, she heard a Chinese preacher, Mun Hope, at camp. He had the children fill in their names in John 3:16: For God so loved . . .. She immediately inserted Thelma and accepted that love.

She lived on Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota where her father taught school and was a government agent. I’m sure she got lonely.

After high school, Thelma had the opportunity to go to Emmaus Bible School in Chicago.

During this time, she went to Lake Geneva Youth Camp as a counselor. There, she met Gil Hernandez. She did possess a little mischievous streak: Icing a cake for the other counselors with Ex-Lax. Surely this didn’t qualify as questionable character. Apparently, Gil didn’t think so. He married her. Maybe this was because he didn’t eat any of the cake.

Gil and Thelma took on their first formal ministry in Colorado Springs, where they became house parents to teen-aged boys at a Christian home for children. Though this was exciting for Thelma, I’m sure it was a challenging assignment. Along with this, they had already begun to raise their own family.

They then were ready to go to Mexico. She again rose to the challenge. She soon adjusted to the new culture. They taught children and planted churches in Mexico for 21 years.

Finally, God led them to Fresno, where Thelma met the Rolen family -- a lovely family. Well, then there was Janice. Here, I think, is where the path turned for Thelma. Yes, I'm sure of it. Janice, the Rolen's daughter, is the one who led her on this path to prison.

Janice Little introduced Thelma Hernande to Austin Morgan and Prison Fellowship. Thelma at first wondered aloud, “why me? I don’t know anything about prisoners.” Her thinking soon changed. Prison ministry became her most passionate and fruitful calling. For 14 years, Thelma went into prisons all over the San Joaquin Valley. Her consistent service and her huge smile showed the prisoners she loved them. Her open Bible showed them Who loved them more.

[_ _
__]

All the way my Savior leads me. God led Thelma from an Indian reservation to teaching prisoners in the center of California.

Cheers each winding path I tread. Her path wound by way of Chicago, Colorado, Mexico and Central California. Wherever she went, she had a glow about her.

Gives me grace for every trial. Thelma did have real trials:

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Having to care for a family when she should be playing with dolls.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Going to a country with a different culture while raising four children.

*
p<>{color:#000;}. Cancer.

I knew Thelma only during her prison years and her cancer years. She seldom spoke of the cancer, only of the people behind bars whom she’d grown to love. During share time, we saw the tears: “Please pray that there won’t be a lock-down this week at Avenal.” “Please pray the women at Chowchilla will be receptive.”

Feeds me with the living bread. Her children remember waking up and going to the kitchen. Their mom was sipping coffee, reading her Bible and then writing letters. This was a habit for Thelma, not a sometimes occurrence.

Jesus led me all the way. On July 4, 2007, Thelma received her independence. On July 9, in a packed auditorium, we honored Thelma and the God she took to the prisoners.

 

“. . . I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

Matthew 25:36c

 

Suggested reading:

John 13:1-11

 

62

IS THERE NO BALM IN GILEAD?

 

There is a balm in Gilead

To make the wounded whole;

There is a balm in Gilead

To heal the sin sick soul

Sometimes I feel discouraged

And think my work’s in vain,

But then the Holy Spirit

Revives my soul again.

There Is a Balm in Gilead

African-American Spiritual

 

There is a balm in Gilead. Gilead is the mountainous country north of the Dead Sea. The region is covered with numerous springs and shrubs and produces balsam trees with fragrant resin extract. People crush the leaves to make ointment. (Women of Faith Study Bible). We first read about this balm in Genesis 37:25.

To make the wounded whole. I’ll bet you’ve felt wounded as often as I have. I like knowing there’s a way to be made whole.

To heal the sin sick soul. My sin sick soul was healed many years ago. But sometimes I have to come back for a booster. Peter wanted Jesus to wash his hands and his head, not just his feet. Jesus told him, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean.”

Sometimes I feel discouraged. I can let people and not God guide my moods.

And think my work’s in vain. Surely God couldn’t use this girl full of dysfunction.

But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. That happens after I say, Lord I’m sorry for being so childish. Hallelujah. My work is not in vain, and neither is yours.

There really is a balm in Gilead and Portland and Cincinnati and Your Town.

 

Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there?

Jeremiah 8:22a

 

Suggested reading:

Acts 2:42-47

 

63

MUD PIES

 

Those who know it best

Seem hungering and thirsting

To hear it like the rest.”

I Love to Tell the Story

Katherine Hankey, 1866

 

“David and Bobbie and I used to make mud pies. Bobbie and I pretended to eat ours, and then threw them over our shoulders. David ate his.”

“You guys were wimps,” David responded with a grin.

David and Gary have been friends for nearly 70 years. They remember riding tricycles and playing cowboys together. Every time we meet, the same stories are told as if for the first time. We laugh and cry just as hard each time we hear them.

At one of our gatherings, our daughter, Judy, joined us. “I know a lot more about you now, Dad. I think I have enough scoop to blackmail you.”

When we get together, we tell another Story over and over. We share different experiences, but all have been through the shed blood of Jesus.

My sister, Jodie, and I talk almost daily. We compare grandkid episodes -- her several grands and great-grands and my five grands. One of us grammar fanatics might call the other for no other reason than to share a misplaced modifier she read in the newspaper. Jodie also keeps me informed on current events.

We also discuss the Old and New Covenants, Jesus' healing ministry, predestination and free will. We compare sermon notes -- taken 2200 miles apart. We may not always agree, but there's that desire to dig in and learn more of the old, old story.

Denise rarely talks to me without sharing a word from the Word.

When my mother is not making New Mexico enchiladas, biscuits or lemon pie, she’s usually sitting on the porch with her nose in her Bible. I can’t walk out to say good morning without her stopping me: “Listen to this. I’ve never noticed this verse before.” Or, “what do you think this means?” She’s one of those who knows it best, but she’s still hungering and thirsting for more.

One of these days, we’ll have a celebration in glory. We’ll talk about mud pies and Jesus’ love.

 

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.

Acts 2:46-47

 

Suggested reading:

Isaiah 55:1-7

 

64

PUPPETS BRING LIFE TO DEATH ROW

 

For my pardon this I see,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Nothing can for sin atone,

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Naught of good that I have done.

Nothing but the Blood

Robert Lowry, 1876

 

Karla Faye was a murderer. She also became a pawn in the hands of political correctness -- and incorrectness. She had met Jesus. If the State of Texas had spared her life, they would have been accused of being partial to someone who had had a "religious experience." Also, she was a woman, making her a minority. Politicians and the news media had a heyday at the expense of this convict.

Karla waited for the big people of the big state to make up their minds.

My cousin, Audrey, volunteers as a chaplain for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She had the opportunity to talk to Karla, this convicted killer.

Several years before Audrey met Karla, a group of Christian puppeteers came to the prison. Karla didn’t want anything to do with that silly stuff, but it was a way to get out of her cell.

She later told Audrey, “I’d never seen such happy people.” She wanted what they had.

It never dawned on her that these happy people would give her a Bible. Still in her criminal mindset, she stole a Bible and went to her cell. She sat in the corner and read like her life depended on it. Maybe she knew it did.

Through the words of God’s puppets and God’s Book, Karla came face-to-face with the Truth. She asked Jesus to be Savior and Lord of her life. She was no longer a murderer. She was a free woman.

In this span of about 14 years, she reached over 40 people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In spite of her spiritual freedom, she knew she must pay her debt to society and to the families she had hurt for a lifetime. She knew she had broken the laws of both God and man.

“Audrey, if they put me to death, I’ll instantly be with Jesus. If they don’t, I can tell everyone I meet about Him.”

Karla, by way of lethal injection, met Jesus face-to-face on February 3, 1998.

 

Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

Isaiah 55:7

 

Suggested reading:

Galatians 4:4-7

 

65

REMEMBERING STUFF

 

Angels from the realms of glory,

Wing your flight o’er all the earth;

Ye who sang creation’s story,

Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.

Angels from the Realms of Glory

James Montgomery, 1816

 

“Mom, remember when Judy and I pulled weeds all day to make enough money to go horse-back riding?”

“I’m thinking. Where did we live?

“Aloha Park.”

“Oh, yeah, and after all that work, the horse ran away with you.”

We move a lot. This has turned out to be the best way for us to mark where we’ve been and what we’ve done.

One of our girls once wondered aloud, “Mom, how do people who live in one place all their lives remember stuff?”

I marked my childhood memories much the same way.

“Remember when you and Pete walked all the way home from downtown because you’d spent your bus money on Jodie’s birthday present? Do you think your big sister was worth it?”

"I remember. We lived on Coors Road on the west side of Albuquerque -- where the dust blew all the time."

There are other ways to mark time. A Native American father might start his stories something like this: “Son, many moons ago . . . “

September 11 will forever remain at twelve o’clock for every person in this country. We remember what happened before, and we have no trouble remembering what happened immediately after.

There is a more accurate way to remember. Every time we write the date, we’re saying, “After Jesus came.”

December 22nd, roughly nineteen hundred sixty-seven years after Jesus came, I married David, the guy who, nearly 50 years later, still fills my gas tank.

September 2nd, approximately nineteen hundred sixty-nine years after Jesus came, Jennifer, our starry-eyed philosopher was born.

January 25th, about two thousand one years after Jesus came, my first grandbaby, Abraham, came into the world and turned my life upside-down.

Using the birth of Jesus makes a good remembering tool. Let's not forget the most important thing to remember -- why He came -- to die so we don't have to. To come back to life to show He is God. To be a daily part of our lives. This Man can give us something to remember for this life and the next.

I’ll always remember May 17th around nineteen hundred sixty-three years after Jesus came. On that date, He took on a more vital role for me than a date marker. He became Lord of my life.

We haven’t moved in over six years. I guess the “where did we live then” method won’t work anymore. I’d better get my calendar and use the Jesus way of remembering stuff. I wouldn’t want to forget those grandbabies’ birthdays.

 

When the time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a woman born under law . . . that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Galatians 4:4-5

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 31:14-16

 

66

IN TIMES LIKE THESE

 

In times like these you need a Savior,

In times like these you need an anchor.

Be very sure your anchor holds

And grips the Solid Rock.

This Rock is Jesus.

In Times Like These

Ruth Caye Jones, 1944

 

“What is this world coming to?

Ruth Caye Jones wrote “In Times Like These” in 1944, when our world was plagued with war.

By 1950, life settled down a bit.

Wait a minute. By the time we had a car in every driveway and a chicken in every pot, we started sending troops to Korea. In times like these, we certainly did need a Savior.

In the mid-50s, when I was a child, life seemed smooth enough. Maybe we could let down our guard and relax. Though my daddy moved us around a lot, we had an intact family.

On June 5, 1960, on a Sunday afternoon, I watched my mother as she sat at the kitchen table. Daddy had died a week earlier. She was trying to keep tough for me, pay the bills, and have a little time to grieve for the love of her life -- and be ready to go to work the next morning. In times like these, what could she have done without Jesus?

Vietnam brought another call to arms. Boys we went to school with suddenly became men. Instead of singing our school song, we caught ourselves humming, "The Green Beret." Some of these veterans still suffer today -- from physical and emotional scars. In times like these, we need an Anchor.

Lynn and I made big plans. Maybe we would be in the hospital together. Our babies were due within a few days of each other. David and Gary had been best friends since they could remember. Gary married Lynn, and David married me, and we were all friends. But we didn't have our babies together. She never had her baby. On July 4, 1972, we got a call. Lynn was ill. All her body systems began to close down, one after another. She lived with septicemia for six weeks before she died, having earlier lost their little boy. Gary and his two girls -- and all of us -- clung desperately to that Solid Rock, Christ Jesus. In times like these, what else could we do?

Toward the end of the 1970s, David and I took our two little girls, and all that would fit in our pickup and our towed Pinto wagon and left New Mexico. We were bound for the Promised Land -- Oregon. These were happy times. These were scary times. A few months after moving to Eugene, David was laid off. Was that Solid Rock still there?

Then there was 1990. David’s company folded and he again was left without a job. His dad died of a brain tumor, but David was too sick to attend the funeral. He had just had spinal surgery. As I got weaker and weaker, I thought it was from the recent stresses. But at 79 pounds, I knew there was more. I was soon diagnosed with Addison’s disease. After all that, the Anchor is stronger than ever.

We've now been through two Gulf Wars. Many young men and women have died hard deaths -- and it's not over yet. Social and economic issues beg to be answered.

What is this world coming to? Grip tightly the Solid Rock, and I’m very sure your anchor will hold.

 

The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

Psalm 9:9

 

Suggested reading:

Romans 5:1-5

 

67

STAND IN IT

 

Plenteous grace with thee is found,

Grace to cover all my sin;

Let the healing streams abound;

Make and keep me pure within.

Thou of life the fountain art,

Freely let me take of thee;

Spring thou up within my heart,

Rise to all eternity.

Jesus, Lover of My Soul

Charles Wesley, 1738

 

“David, don’t stand in that water. Why do little boys always find the mud puddles when they have their best clothes on?”

My husband tells this story about his own boyhood experience. He had gotten a new pair of engineer boots. He thought they were waterproof, but wanted to make sure.

Some things we shouldn't stand in. Sometimes we feel like we're standing in molasses because we're not getting anything done. Often, we stand in indecision -- or in someone else's way.

There is one thing we can and should stand in. Peter tells us to stand firm in the true grace of God.

For years, I've been grappling with grace -- this foundational truth of the Christian faith.

We’re not only saved by grace, we’re encouraged to stand in it. How do we do that?

Many think grace means open season for sinning. Paul admonished the Romans: “Shall we go on sinning that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (6:1-2)

Dead people don’t stand up. If we’re dead to sin, we can’t stand in it.

Some people think they’re living under grace, but have a long list of rules and works. Is this more pleasing to God than the blanket sinner?

“When a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation.” (Romans 4:4)

Peter used the words grace and suffering in the same verse. (1 Peter 5:10) He’s not talking about suffering because we’ve made poor choices. It’s about suffering for the cause of Christ. If we love Him, we’ll gladly suffer for Him.

I'm still grappling, but I'm also standing firm -- in the true grace of God.

If we've been given our Sunday-best grace clothes, we shouldn't want to stand in the mud of our old sin -- even if our boots are waterproof.

 

I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.

1 Peter 5:12

 

Suggested reading:

Isaiah 30:18-23

 

68

JANET’S PRAYER

 

Jesus is waiting;

O come to him now.

Jesus Is Tenderly Calling

Fanny J. Crosby 1883

 

Janet came to the United States from Iraq 40 years ago. She speaks with an accent, but almost always gets her message across.

One Wednesday night during an open prayer service, she prayed, expressing a burden for her people. Her prayer opened a whole new thought to me:

“Lord, listen for their prayers.”

Prepositions in the English language are tricky for nearly everyone new to our complicated dialect -- and sometimes to us who have been speaking English all our lives. We probably have more "ins and outs, tos and froms than any other language group.

Janet may have meant, “Listen to their prayers,” or maybe she didn’t.

Oh, what a slip of the tongue, a slip we all need to hear.

After more than 49 years, I still listen for the garage door to open. Then I know once again David made it safely home.

Many times, I'll listen for the phone, hoping one of my kids will call, that they've made it home safely from a long trip, that they got the job -- or just to hear their voices.

When my grandkids came, I used to listen for the pitter-patter of little feet. I almost couldn’t wait ‘til their naps were over so I could snuggle and play with them. Now, as they’re growing, I try to listen for that evidence that they’re growing in character and in their walk with Jesus.

I listen for the sound of the mail truck that somehow has a noise all its own. Maybe it needs to be oiled. In with all that junk mail there just might be a publisher’s acceptance letter.

Many have listened for a doctor’s call. What did the tests show? Have they found cancer? Will our loved one make it?

A few years back, Kevin, my sister’s grandson, left Iraq. For a number of days, he could not be reached. She listened intently as though her intensity would make the phone ring.

If I could be an artist, I’d draw God with his hand cupped behind his ear, waiting, listening for His children’s prayers.

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you,” we read in Isaiah 30:18.

Don’t you know the father of that prodigal son longed day after day for his rebellious son to come back? He longed for the moment he could be gracious to that son. He probably listened for the son’s worn sandals shuffling in the dust. The son did come back, and the father welcomed him with open arms. If you lived in the next town, you probably would have heard the music of celebration from that Jewish home.

My grandmother had baby chicks. When the mother hen saw the hawk flying above her, she fluttered around to gather her babies under her wings.

Jesus spoke to a whole city with boldness and gentleness:

“O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)

God longs -- he waits -- he even listens -- for an opportunity to show kindness to His children.

I think Janet got her message across loud and clear.

 

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you. He rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.

Isaiah 30:18

 

Suggested reading:

1 Corinthians 13

 

69

AM I A GONG?

 

Out in the darkness of sorrow and sin,

Somebody needs your love.

Somebody Needs Your Love

B.B. McKinney

 

Chopsticks! I hate hearing those kids play chopsticks on the piano! Over and over they play it because they don’t know any other music. It’s not a bad tune. When you play both parts, it even has a little harmony to it. It’s just that they play it again and again as if everyone enjoyed it.

This makes me think of 1 Corinthians 13. If we don't have love, we're playing chopsticks over and over -- and thinking everyone enjoys it. We're like a "resounding gong or a clanging cymbal."

We had a set of unused percussion instruments at a church I attended. After the service, children banged on them until told to stop.

Do we go about our measured, repetitious lives like a sounding gong -- making a lot of noise and motions, but with not much lasting results? We may even irritate a few onlookers along the way.

The Bible says we're nothing if we don't have the gift of love -- even if we have mountain-moving faith. If we give our possessions and even our bodies to be burned and we don't practice love, we gain nothing.

Love is kind. Am I kind to those who may not be kind back? Even sinners know how to be nice to people who are nice to them. (Luke 6:32)

Love doesn’t boast. Rude and loving don’t go together, either. Can you picture loving the guy you’re cutting off in traffic?

“You owe me. I have my rights.” Try to love a person while saying those words to him. It’s harder than rubbing your head and patting your tummy.

A loving person wants the other guy to succeed. I like being that other guy. But if we really want to succeed, we’ll be the cheerleader for so many around us who need more than a piercing sound.

Uh-oh. Paul says in verse 4, love is patient. I guess I’d better go back and apologize to those young chopstick players and clanging cymbalists. I don’t want to be a gong.

 

If I . . . have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:1

 

Suggested reading:

John 10:11-14

 

70

UNCLE JAY’S LITTLE

SHEEPHERDER

 

Thro’ the valley and shadow of death though I stray,

Since thou art my guardian, no evil I fear;

Thy rod shall defend me, thy staff be my stay;

No harm can befall with my comforter near.

The Lord Is My Shepherd

James Montgomery

 

“You’ll have to put the sheep in the pen tonight, Marty, since Judy is sick.”

I had come to stay with my cousin’s family on the farm to get away from the big city school in Albuquerque, but had not taken an active interest in the workings of the farm. This was a new and frightening experience for me.

I took my time getting down the hill to the pasture, hoping all the sheep would be resting in the fold, ready for their night’s sleep. That didn’t happen. They seemed as aimless as I was. I had no plan, no clue what to do next.

Uncle Jay had about fifty sheep. They grazed on the pasture east of the house. We had a little pen close to the house because neighborhood dogs sometimes ran in a pack and would kill them at night. Therefore, penning the sheep every evening was a chore someone had to do.

I tried to visualize what I’d seen my cousin do night after night as I watched from the kitchen window.

I made a big circle behind them way out in the field and then headed them up toward the house. Everything was going just fine. The main body of them went into the pen. But two of them somehow got spooked and ran back out. I followed them to drive them back in. As soon as I got out of the gate area, the rest of the sheep followed the two rebels, and soon the flock was back out of the pen.

I didn't know Uncle Jay was standing at my post -- the same kitchen window where I'd watched Judy pen those fifty dumb sheep in nothing flat. He laughed until tears came to his eyes.

“You get out there and help her, Jay,” my aunt Rene scolded him.

Uncle Jay finally came to my rescue. They later explained that I should have let all the sheep run out. I should back off, let them settle down, and then herd them back in.

From that day until the day he died, Uncle Jay fondly called me his little sheepherder. We got lots of laughs and could add another story to the family legacy.

Let's face it -- I'm no sheepherder. Those sheep would not want me as their shepherd. In John 10:27, Jesus says, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." These sheep didn't want to follow me because, ignorant as they were, they sensed I didn't know them.

Jesus refers to us as sheep. Sheep are not very smart. They need to be told what to do. Sheep need a shepherd -- but not just any shepherd.

Who is your shepherd? Is it a substitute, who wants to get you penned up as fast as he can so he can go back in the house? Surely, he neither knows nor cares about your needs. Why would he have a plan for your life? He certainly has no power to save you.

Or is it the Lord, who will lead you by quiet waters?

 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters.

Psalm 23:1-2

 

Suggested reading:

1 Corinthians 12:4-13:1

 

71

PEANUT BUTTER FOR A HOUSEWARMING GIFT

 

Be to the helpless a helper indeed.

Unto your mission be true.

Make Me a Blessing

Ira B. Wilson, 1909

 

“Mom, I’d better go. I’m going to take a jar of peanut butter to my new neighbor.”

Had I misunderstood? Maybe she said peanut butter cookies.

No -- in Sakhalin, Russia, where my kids and grandkids spent three years, peanut butter couldn't be had. When back in the states, they purchased a case of the delicacy. That was Judy's way of saying "welcome -- what's ours is yours."

Probably if you and I took our new neighbors a jar of Jif, they’d scratch their heads and give a condescending smile and quickly shut the door.

There's something, though, only you can give that family next door -- or across town -- or friends in Russia.

Katie made each new baby a quilt. Your baby wouldn’t want a quilt I’d tried to make. I’d better buy a case of peanut butter to add to the baby’s formula.

One childhood Christmas, Daddy was sick and we had no money for gifts. My grown cousin, Mabel, gave me a Hummel of a little girl with her doll and buggy. It still graces my piano today. I DID get a gift after all!

During the beef shortage in the 70s, my rancher step-dad agreed to butcher one of his cows for us. After having our fill of peanut butter, this was a welcome source of protein.

During our poorer days, I was worked part-time for a paint and putty company. It had taken every last penny to buy our dirt-brown house. Greg, my boss, provided the paint -- color of our choice. We still sometimes drive by and smile at our old baby blue house.

My husband has always had an imagination. When he was a little boy, David made rodeo arenas with his grandpa's sawdust. His neighbor, Mr. Manzi, had some real-looking plastic horses. David eyed them with near envy. "You'd like to have them, wouldn't you?" A few days later, Mr. Manzi brought David his own pedigreed registered plastic horses. Peanut butter -- or even another toy -- wouldn't have given this redhead such delight.

Irene sent us two jars of homemade jelly. Please pass the peanut butter. I haven’t had a good PB&J since 1973.

[_ _
__]

There are different kinds of services, but the same Lord.

1 Corinthians 12:5

 

Suggested reading:

Romans 8:1-4

 

72

THOSE BLOODY GOATS

 

Free from the law, O happy condition,

Jesus hath bled, and there is remission;

Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall,

Grace hath redeemed us once for all.

Once for All

P.P. Bliss

 

I sat on my bed one Saturday morning, reading a few verses from Hebrews 9, contrasting the old and new covenants. I read how Jesus’ blood did away with the need for animal sacrifices. I said a short prayer, thanking God for His Gift, then made my bed and walked down the hall.

Mother’s door was slightly open. She too was reading her Bible. I waved and smiled and started to go on, letting her finish her quiet time.

"Those bloody goats!" I heard her say -- to me or whoever would listen.

“What!”

“This Leviticus is full of blood and goats and more rules than I could ever keep!”

“You should have been in my room. I read how Jesus took care of all that”

Mother and I enjoyed a jovial, short dialog on grace and the law -- then began our day.

We know we can't read just Hebrews. We need to study Leviticus and all the law. But why? Must we raise goats in our back yard? We could buy them from the local farmer. Then we'd need to take the poor animal to the priest and let him kill it -- all this to have our sins forgiven -- for a whole year.

“It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” (Hebrews 10:4)

Paul tells us in Galatians 3:24 (KJV), “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

Unless we look at the law as a pointer to Christ, we will be frustrated.

Leviticus 17:11 (KJV) tells us, “. . . the life of the flesh is in the blood . . . It is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”

Only blood from a Perfect Lamb could make us holy. When Jesus came as high priest, He came, “once for all” (Hebrews 9:12). He gave us a new covenant (v 15).

The next time you study about those bloody bulls and goats, think immediately of the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.!” (John 1:29)

 

“. . . what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.

Romans 8:3 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

Leviticus 22:17-22

 

73

TANG JARS AND FINE CHINA

 

Give of your best to the Master;

Naught else is worthy His love;

He gave Himself for your ransom,

Gave up His glory above.

Give of Your Best to the Master

H.G.B.

 

“Can I bring anything to help with your dinner?”

“I don’t have quite enough tea glasses. That would certainly help me out.”

A few days later, Ellie came to Joanna’s doorstep, her hands loaded with Tang jars, labels still intact.

Joanna liked her new neighbor, Ellie, and appreciated her laid-back style. But Ellie simply didn’t realize how important this occasion was to Joanna.

When Joanna saw what was in the boxes, she stuck them back in the corner, never to be mentioned again. She dug in her attic and found some old goblets. She spent most of a day scrubbing and shining them.

She was planning a dinner for about 50 people. It was to include several branches of the family. She wanted everything nice. No paper plates or plastic utensils. No Cool Whip -- only real whipped cream from the cow. And certainly no Tang Jars!

A few days later Kathryn came by. “Joanna, I’d be glad to let you use the china my mother left for me.” She wanted to lend her heirlooms, not her everyday dishes.

Joanna at first argued, thinking they were too good and she didn’t want anything to happen to them. Kathryn insisted and said, “That’s what they’re for!”

When you’re in a pinch, Tang jars will do. They probably work well for camping trips, picnics or little boys to keep bugs in—but not for Joanna’s sit-down family dinner.

God gave His best. He gave His Only Son. In fact, that’s what this Son was sent for! He came to earth to die to give us life.

One day soon, we’ll dine with the Son of God. We’ll be served with china and crystal. God serves only the best.

Like Ellie, sometimes we don’t realize we’re giving God our throwaways.

Next time God asks for our best, let’s don’t offer Him Tang jars.

[_ _
__]

I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.

2 Samuel 24:24b

 

Suggested reading:

Hebrews 12:1-2

 

74

BETTER THAN SUGARPLUMS

 

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!

Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine

. . .

Perfect submission, perfect delight

Visions of rapture now burst on my sight.

Blessed Assurance

Fanny J. Crosby, 1873

 

“Visions of sugarplums danced in their heads!” Sugarplums don’t dance in just kids’ heads. My sugarplums come in the form of dreaming of the next time I’ll see my grandchildren, who live in another part of the world. Sometimes we have farfetched dreams. I admit I catch myself thinking of writing the great American filler and then living the easy life.

My husband has visions of travel. A woodworking shop also dances in his head -- and now is a reality.

Even my 102-year-old mother has modern, fancy cooking equipment doing the two-step between her ears. She also dreams of making biscuits in a Dutch oven over a campfire.

There’s nothing wrong with these aspirations. They keep us going. They give us direction. They even give us a chuckle over ourselves sometimes.

As I scanned the hymnbook, Fanny Crosby opened my eyes to even better, more lasting dreams: “Visions of rapture now burst on my sight.” What sight? She was blind. I think she had a better eternal sight than many of us because she fixed her eyes on things eternal.

Don’t get rid of the sugarplums. They’re fun and can sometimes help us reach our goals. But keep your eyes on the rapture. It’s more than a dream. It’s a reality.

 

No eye has seen, no ear has heard,

no mind has conceived

what God has prepared for those who love him.

1 Corinthians 2:9

 

Suggested reading:

Ruth 4:7-15

 

75

JUST FOR TODAY --

AGAIN AND AGAIN

 

Every day the Lord himself is near me

With a special mercy for each hour;

All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,

He whose name is Counselor and Power.

Day by Day

Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, 1865

 

Young girls try to keep from giggling. Little boys run from each other, riding stick camels. Honey cakes, dates and fresh grapes have been arranged neatly on the tables. Ruth and Naomi walk out of the blistering sun and into the earthen house.

“Surprise!”

Silk banners read, “Blessed is the Lord God Who has not left you without a redeemer today!”

We don’t read about a party in the Book of Ruth, but they certainly had much to celebrate.

Boaz was Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer. He was a distant relative of her deceased husband. He went through Israel’s proper custom to take her as his wife. If anyone needed a redeemer, it was Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, who had nothing.

I’d like to join in their celebration. I too have not been left without a Redeemer today.

Today?

Does that mean they -- and we -- may be without a redeemer tomorrow?

I don’t think so. Ruth had a future with a successful man who had fallen head-over-heels for her. Before this, Ruth and Naomi had needed food. When our stomachs are empty, we don’t think much about next week or eternity. We’re worried about now.

I haven’t been hungry too many times, but I’ve had many reasons to need a Redeemer through the years.

As my daughters have flown from the nest, I've been reminded day after day that two sparrows are sold for a penny -- yet they won't fall to the ground apart from the will of my Father. (Matthew 10:29, 31) Surely, He will take care of my children in Salem, Oregon -- and even in Perth, Australia.

“The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles” (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4) also comforts this empty-nester mom.

Some nights I lie in bed thinking how I could have done things better -- like raise those children who are now out of my care. Immediately that same Redeemer brings to my mind, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1)

Some days, I hate the way I acted yesterday and think there’s no recourse for a repeat offender like me. Then I remember: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

In 1990, my husband and I had more challenging days than in most years. Sure enough, each day, “The Lord [was] a refuge . . . a stronghold in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9)

Because of this Redeemer I have today, “I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” (Psalm 3:5)

Let's get out our silk banners and honey cakes. Be sure you have plenty. You'll need them tomorrow -- and the day after that -- and the day after that . . .

 

Blessed be the Lord God who has not left you without a redeemer today.

Ruth 4:14 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 139:13-16

 

76

TONGUE-TIED AT THE NEW MEXICO STATE SPELLING BEE

 

A wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord,

He taketh my burden away;

He holdeth me up, and I shall not be moved,

He giveth me strength as my day.

He Hideth My Soul

Fanny J. Crosby, 1890

 

“Next contestant. TONGUE.”

“Tongue. T-O-U-N-G. Tongue.”

I couldn’t believe it. I’d studied the whole Albuquerque Tribune Spelling Bee booklet over and over. I was stupid; I’d missed on a stupid word. Everyone knew how to spell “tongue.”

Mother and Daddy had gone to a clinic in Texas for treatment of Daddy’s cancer. I was staying with my cousin. My sister, Jodie, was grown and away in New York or Kansas or someplace. My brother, Pete, was a teenager.

It didn’t matter. I was alone. I knew I was ugly. My classmates never thought I could win a spelling bee, anyway.

Maybe someone did comfort me, but I was too sad and humiliated to accept it.

All these years, I haven’t told the fateful word. You’re one of the first to know my secret.

We all have secrets, silly secrets and serious secrets.

As Christians, most of us know we’re not ugly or stupid. We know many of the promises in the Bible. It takes these truths a long time to get to our emotions.

Nearly 60 years after that infamous spelling bee, I still feel not too smart sometimes, or I get my feelings hurt.

Feelings! God doesn’t work on feelings. He makes it plain there is no condemnation if we’re in Christ. He says we’re a new creation. I’m sure I won’t be accountable for spelling words in heaven. God is certainly more concerned about what I do with my tongue than how I spell it.

If I’m firm in my standing in Christ, maybe I can help others through shaky times. I think I’ll go find another spelling-bee dropout and put my arm around him. When he finds out the word I missed, he won’t feel bad at all.

[_ _
__]

When my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by.

Exodus 33:22

 

Suggested reading:

Matthew 9:36-38

 

77

WHERE IS YOUR MACEDONIA?

 

We have heard the Macedonian call today.

Send the Light

Charles H. Gabriel, 1890

 

STEVE: “Most of my adult life, missions has been one of those things I knew was supposed to be important. I was glad someone was taking care of that. I, for one, had no desire to ‘leave the comforts of home to live in a grass hut, telling people who couldn’t understand anyway about my God.’”

GENE: “Though I knew I’d been called by God as a teen to go into ministry, I left seminary to go into business.”

TOM: “I am sure I had heard the Gospel and about missions as a child. However, in my case it didn’t soak in… “

SAUL was breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples.” (Acts 9:1)

From antagonistic to complacent, these four men allowed God to turn their lives around.

Steve had a “life-long interest in seeing Russia (as a tourist, not a missionary).” He soon found himself in a music ensemble trip to the Ukraine.

“I was overwhelmed by the warmth of the Ukrainian people and the depth of their faith in the face of life-threatening persecution. I recall embracing the pastor. “Bronislav, I don’t know how . . . I don’t know when . . . I’m not even sure why, but I will return to this place.”

Now Steve tells stories about real people, not about grass huts. He shows pictures of children and whole families who have come to hear the Truth in their own language.

Things started happening in Gene’s business that he couldn’t explain. Long-time clients fell by the wayside.

After he’d presented a devotional to his peers at work, one told him, “You ought to be in the ministry.”

That still small voice followed Gene wherever he went.

Gene met Tim, the busy pastor of New Hope Community Church in Clovis, California. Over the course of a year and several talks between the two men, the church voted to call Gene as associate pastor, where he served faithfully until his recent retirement.

Tom goes on to explain, “The night I got on my knees in my dorm room and gave my life to Christ, I also knew He had a purpose for my life and that it would be a privilege to follow Him. I switched from Mechanical Technology to the Missions Tech major and started preparing to be a missionary.

“Carolyn and I married after my first year in college. She had felt God’s calling to missions as a girl of 12, so fit right in with my plans.

“In the missions’ major at LeTourneau, we were required to do an internship on some mission field before graduation. The only missionary we had personally met at our church happened to be from Peru.”

Tom and Carolyn Pace are now in their 50th year as missionaries to the Peruvian people. Several of their children have grown up to be missionaries. Peru is their home; these are their people.

Saul not only had his name changed to Paul; he had his life changed by God. Early in his service to God, he developed the habit of seeking the leadership of the Holy Spirit. His still small voice came in the form of a vision in which a man said to him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:9)

Macedonia was just one of the places God sent Paul. When he wasn’t traveling from town to town, preaching wherever he could find an audience, he was in jail, writing much of our Church Manual.

Where is your Macedonia?

 

Come over to Macedonia and help us.

Acts 16:9

 

Suggested reading:

Genesis 8:1-5

 

78

THE TOPS OF THE MOUNTAINS BECAME VISIBLE

 

Lord, lift me up and let me stand,

By faith, on heaven’s table land,

A higher plane than I have found;

Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.

Higher Ground

Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1892

 

We stood in my niece’s front yard and held hands as we gazed at the Sandia Mountains. It had been over 25 years since we looked out our east window every morning and viewed these towering hills. They served many purposes those thirty-some years Albuquerque was our home.

In the winter, the sunset made this summit look like a big pink birthday cake. In the summer, it appeared blue and jagged. We had a daily reminder that God’s creation was no accident.

Don’t you know Noah had no doubt Who had brought the rain and then dry land when he could see the tops of the mountains?

Often I found myself lost in this growing city. I needed only to spot the Sandia Mountains and I was back on track. I needed only a view of the tops of the mountains to see which direction was east.

Even though Noah was scoffed, he had a never-fail compass to follow. His directions came straight from God.

God has left us His Word and His Holy Spirit as our compass. We need not stay lost -- or discouraged or downcast.

Each winter we filled the church bus on Saturday morning and headed for the crest to play in the snow.

I don’t think God left Noah and his family without entertainment. Think of the fun traveling with all those animals.

What do the Sandias, Ararat, and the Word of God have in common? They all bring assurance, direction and pleasure.

 

The waters began to recede . . . and the tops of the mountains became visible.

Genesis 8:5

 

Suggested reading:

Acts 9:36-41

 

79

YOU’RE THE ONE WITH

THE TARANTULA

 

Only a beam of sunshine,

But oh, it was warm and bright.

The heart of a weary traveler

Was cheered by its welcome sight.

Only a Beam of Sunshine

Fanny Crosby, 1884

 

“You had a tarantula in a shoe box.”

Those are the first words David’s cousin, Steven, said to him at a family funeral gathering.

Being younger cousins, Steven and his sisters always looked forward to going to Albuquerque to see David and his sisters.

David had been given a tarantula a friend picked up in Eastern New Mexico. It made an excellent show-and-tell item.

I suppose a tarantula is not a bad thing to be remembered by -- if you don't chase your cousins with it. Steven said he was impressed.

How do people remember you? How do they remember me? Do they say, "She was grumpy and negative?" Or -- " He always quietly but firmly let people know he loved Jesus."

David remembers a doctor in Albuquerque who took an interest in him as a young boy -- gave him a tour of the hospital. He talked to David about developing a career.

My cousin, Mabel, always wants to know how I'm doing, what I'm doing -- and she's never without a compliment.

Of course, we have the perpetual gossips, those who forever talk about themselves, and those who love finding fault in others.

Let’s not waste our time worrying about them. Let’s develop our own God-given skills of discipling.

If you have a tarantula around the house, fine. Otherwise, make an impression by your hospitality, sharing of God's Word -- or whatever you have in your shoe box.

 

. . . let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

 

Suggested reading:

Revelation 5:6-10

 

80

FINALE: ALL GROUPS

 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,

Bright shining as the sun,

We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise

Than when we first begun.

Amazing Grace

John Newton, 1779

 

Another Central Valley Southern Gospel Festival was coming to an end. I love these annual events. I read the last entry on the program and thought of heaven: Finale: All groups.

Singers and fiddlers came from Arkansas and Tennessee, California and Texas and from a variety of churches.

They sang “Amazing Grace” together before we went home. The audience joined in.

These singers came from across the United States. When we get to heaven, there'll be singers from around the world -- My Russian friend Lynda, Eli from Mexico, my black friend Evelyn, Frank and Elizabeth from Hungary, the Navajos my mother worshipped with in New Mexico, Janet from Iraq -- all praising Jesus.

They won’t be just Southern Gospel singers. There’ll be hymn singers and rappers, country singers and rockers, anthem singers and praise worshippers.

Can’t you hear that huge choir singing—how sweet the sound!

. . . that saved a wretch like me. I heard of an old man in a rehabilitation center for alcohol, drugs and mental problems. A preacher came and told the story of God’s grace. The codger was disruptive all through the pastor’s talk. This was an irritation to everyone trying to listen. But in his interruptions, he said he would come to the preacher’s church when he was released. He did exactly that, and his life was turned around. He’s no longer a wretch. He will be singing along with you and me and all the groups.

I once was lost, but now am found. I was lost in a Baptist church. I was depending on my church membership to get me into God’s eternal choir. I knew this was not enough. After chanting over and over, “Lord save me, Amen,” as though I were saying, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” I finally knelt with my mother by my bed and asked Jesus into my life. Now, I can sing in the finale with all the groups. I once was lost, but now I’m found.

. . . was blind, but now I see. Fanny Crosby, the great hymn writer, won’t be blind anymore. Neither will we who were spiritually blind.

‘twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. As a young man, my Quaker husband settled his doubts alone in his grandmother’s basement. Maybe they’ll let him play his harmonica in that great orchestra.

Through many dangers, toils and snares . . . A repentant young lady met Jesus on death row through a bunch of silly Christian puppets.

Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home. Some join God’s choir young and have a whole lifetime to practice. Others are old and worn. My former pastor, coming from a Christian home, met Jesus when he was five years old. My Uncle Jay at age 82 received his amazing grace on his deathbed.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years . . . all groups will still be singing “Amazing Grace” in perfect harmony.

 

They sang a new song:

You are worthy to take the scroll

And to open its seals,

Because you were slain,

And with your blood you purchased

Men for God

From every tribe and language and

People and nation.

Revelation 5:9

 

Suggested reading:

John 6:5-12

 

81

WHAT’S THAT IN YOUR HAND?

 

So send I you, to take to souls in bondage

The Word of Truth that sets the captive free.

So Send I You

E. Margaret Clarkson, 1963

 

“What is that in thine hand, Moses?”

“A staff.”

God caused miracles to come from this staff -- not for miracles' sake, but "that they may believe." (Exodus 4:5)

“Hannah, what is in your hand?”

“This is my son. God has given me Samuel and taken away my barrenness. ‘My heart rejoices in the Lord.’” (1 Samuel 2:1)

Hannah gave Samuel to the Lord. He listened and obeyed and became a great prophet. “Samuel’s word came to all Israel” (1 Samuel 4:1) because his mother was willing to give him back to God.

“Daniel, what are you carrying there?” I see unblemished integrity.

Daniel, surrounded by idolatry, chose to openly worship the one true God and to trust that God to close the lion’s mouth.

“Little boy, what is that tucked under your arm?”

“Just a little lunch, Sir. My mother made it for me. I have only five barley loaves and two small fish. I don’t know what you can do with that. But I’ll be glad to give it to Jesus if it will help.”

Can’t you imagine how happy this young man was as he skipped home, then ran in the back door?

"Mom, Mom, I've got to tell you something. Jesus fed all the people -- thousands of them -- with my lunch!"

“Widow, what are you holding?

“Just two coins, Master. I know it’s not much. But how could I do less than give Jesus all I have?”

Don’t you imagine this lady knew Who was taking care of her and Who would continue to provide for her?

One wealthy man simply couldn’t part with what was in his hand. When Jesus asked him to give away what he had, he went away sad.

Surely you have something in your hand. Is that a staff, helping to lead numbers of people? Maybe it’s a child whom God wants to send to Africa or the Middle East. You might have only a few dollars or a little bit of food. What is that among so many? You’d be amazed at what God can do with a couple of bucks and a sack lunch.

Maybe you have reliability or intelligence. Don’t boast over it; simply give it to God.

Will you open your hand and give back what God has given you? I promise you won’t go away sad.

[_ _
__]

And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand?

Exodus 4:2 (KJV)

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 22:1-5

 

82

YET -- GREAT IS THY FAITHFULNESS

 

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided --

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Great is Thy Faithfulness

Thomas Obadiah Chisholm, 1923

 

As our friends, Dennis and Denise, traveled to a nearby town, their preschool granddaughter talked a mile a minute.

“How can I quiet her, Dennis asked Denise?”

“Read to her from the Bible.”

The pages opened to Lamentations. He began to read. Ashley soon fell sound asleep.

A beginning glance at Lamentations could put many of us to sleep if not into a deep depression.

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people.

How like a widow is she, who once was great.

Bitterly she weeps at night.

No one comes to her appointed feasts.

All the splendor has departed from the Daughter of Zion.

Jerusalem remembers all the treasures that were hers in days of old.

The Lord has brought her grief because of her many sins.

These words came from Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. The Babylonians had invaded Jerusalem. Because of their sin, God did not protect the Israelites. Jeremiah pleaded to God for his people.

I knew for years that Lamentations was in the Old Testament. I assumed it wasn’t something I wanted to snuggle up with and read for my bedtime devotions.

For years, I’ve known and loved the song, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” Only later did I realize the circumstances that inspired these words.

After all of Jeremiah’s pleading, he admits to God:

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed. His compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:21-23)

The Israelites had sinned and deserved God’s judgment. Yet, Jeremiah knew God would never turn His back on His people.

Wake up. Despite what may be happening in our lives today, great is God’s faithfulness, and His mercies are new every morning.

 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

 

Suggested reading:

Ephesians 6:1-9

 

83

MORNIN

 

Christian men, arise and give

Words by which all men can live.

Christian Men, Arise and Give

Lois Horton Young 1966

 

What did y’all have for supper last night? Otho and I had black-eyed peas and corn bread.”

I loved my new job and my boss, Jimmi Jarman. I looked forward each day to her Arkansas greeting: “Mornin’ ladies.”

Jimmi had a pleasant remark at the beginning and ending of each day. The seven hours and fifty minutes between her greetings, she worked alongside her girls. We’d see her on top of a ladder, looking for a file. Other times, she sat in her office, working through a problem with an employee.

One day, Jimmi reprimanded me for incorrectly documenting my work. I felt bad, but made note of my error and went on with my typing. A few days later, she came to me. “Marty, I rechecked your log and realize I was wrong, and I want to apologize.” Her apology more than matched her reprimand.

It was months before I knew Otho, her husband, was a bedridden quadriplegic who needed her constant attention after his caregiver went home. Jimmi even had to get up in the night and turn him every few hours.

This didn’t keep her from playing April Fools jokes on me. Even after her retirement, she called me. “Marty, did you oversleep? You should have been at work an hour ago!”

How long did her kindness take? How long does it take to show your employees you know how to have fun?

Our house was broken into a few years ago. My husband’s supervisor called to check on us. Another time, his foreman called. “Is your daughter doing better?” Judy had been seriously ill after delivering her second child.

How long did it take for these busy city employers to show concern?

Maybe they had received their example from the Bible.

Boaz was “a man of standing.” (Ruth 2:1). I get the idea he oversaw many people and could lord it over them if he chose. But he “greeted the harvesters, ‘The Lord be with you!’”

They called back to him, “The Lord bless you.” It sounds like they were glad to see him.

Do you have a position of authority?

No? There is nobody under you?

Are you a parent? Do you lead a group at church? Maybe you’re not an official leader, but a man or woman of respect in your community.

Even if you’re not an employer or a leader, somebody needs to hear your cheerful words.

It takes only a moment to say “mornin’.”

 

Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem, and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they called back. Ruth 2:4

 

Suggested reading:

Matthew 6:25-34

 

84

THIS NIGHT

 

Peace is when the wind stops blowing,

Peace is where the sun is showing,

Knowing that my daddy’s home,

God gives me peace.

Peace

Wayne Zeitner, 1977

 

This night is a good night. It's raining. I love the rain. My sister says it's because I'm Welsh. Others say I'm crazy. David and I are listening to a potpourri of Irish, gospel and lullaby music. My house is a mess -- even past its amiably cluttered stage. Somehow tonight it doesn't matter. In fact, it seems to enhance the deligh t of the empty nest.

This night, we shared nachos and a leftover baked potato for supper. We traveled to New England, making many stops along the way. We changed our minds and routes as often as we liked. We discussed the Civil War and the Monterey Peninsula. We recounted stories of our now grown kids: [_ The time Jenny wore her pajamas to school in first grade. When we couldn't find Judy until we saw her skinny legs dangling out of the garbage bin -- she'd been looking for cans to sell. _] We got on our make-believe bus and opened the window, stuck our heads out and drank up the rain. At some stops, we had our kids with us; at others, we didn’t.

This night, the TV is off. David’s newspapers are strewn all over the den, and it doesn’t bother me. I scanned clear through my green chile cookbook, made me think about Mother roasting and peeling green chiles and making tortillas. I love cookbooks. I don’t cook. I read cookbooks. David reads history books. You don’t see him out fighting battles, do you?

This night was not planned. It happened. I’d never plan a meal combining nachos and yesterday’s shriveled potato. I wouldn’t write in my Day-Timer, “Waste time with David on idle chatter.”

Sometime early in this evening, I must have given myself permission to have this unplanned adventure right in my own house. Otherwise, I would have bundled up the newspapers for recycling. I would have thought, “Why does David insist on constantly talking about the Civil War? He’s always planning trips, and we haven’t recovered from the last one.” David would have asked why I always put the CD player on random. Maybe he too had given permission for unplanned adventure.

This night will end. Tomorrow I must clean and organize, do something with my hair and find those insurance papers I’ve misplaced. Tomorrow I’ll return to my moderately civilized life. David will tell me he needs power-steering fluid for the truck. I’ll say I need to buy groceries. We’ll plan and do.

But for now, this night is all that matters.

 

May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

Proverbs 5:18

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Suggested reading:

Matthew 19:13-15

 

85

THE LITTLE BOY WHO

COULDN’T CRY

 

Neither life nor death shall ever

From the Lord his children sever;

Unto them his grace he showeth,

And their sorrows

All he knoweth.

Children of the Heavenly Father

Karolina W. Sandell-Berg, 1865

 

 

His mommy and daddy must watch him every minute. Because of a vocal cord problem, along with his many other physical ailments he was born with, Levi can’t cry. He soon learned, though, to make sounds. By a year of age, he found ways to make himself heard. He figured out how to click his teeth against his tongue and smack his lips.

I haven’t seen Levi, my cousin’s grandson, but my mother and sister had the privilege of getting to know him when his parents took him to Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati.

One day, the family sat on my sister's new deck. Levi went everywhere on his 25-foot tether, which was the tube to his oxygen tank. But that didn't stop him. He had the time of his life. He even found a chair to push. Someone caught him just in time. He was about to push the chair off the deck -- and him along with it. They'd turned their heads for only a few seconds.

Levi did try to cry when his mom pulled him back from a glass knickknack on a coffee table. She was keeping him from having fun again. You could see the cry on his face, but there was no sound.

Levi’s teacher mommy and rancher daddy have given up much for him, but I’m sure they don’t consider it a sacrifice.

Levi improved from another bout of pneumonia. His parents and a circle of family and friends all over the country prayed for Levi’s speedy recovery. Doctors give him every possible treatment and medication. Their pledge is not only to “do no harm,” but also to do every good they can for this quiet little boy.

 

……………………………………………………………

 

There are other quiet little boys and girls who can’t be heard crying. They’ve never learned to click their tongues on their teeth or smack their lips just for a little attention from mommy.

Their moms did go to a hospital, but not for the same reason Levi’s mom and dad took him all the way to Cincinnati. These parents will have no problem with their quiet, nameless children getting into things. Now the moms and the dads can sit on the deck alone, no cries to interrupt their time together.

 

(An update on Levi: He is 11 years old, in 4th grade and doing well. He uses no oxygen tank and takes few medications. I understand he is a pleasant and happy child.)

[_ _
__]

Jesus said, let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.

Matthew 19:14

 

Suggested reading:

Proverbs 31:10-31

 

86

AUNT MODENA BUYS A FARM

 

In the circle of each home,

Be our strong foundation;

Lord, we need Your wisdom there

In each situation.

In the Circle of Each Home

Bryan Jeffery Leech, 1976

 

“Good morning, Mrs. Shaw.

“Mornin’, Mr. Duncan. How are the kids?”

“Good, thanks. Buster graduates this year.

“Ah, Mrs. Shaw, I did have a rather urgent matter of business to discuss with you. Are you still interested in the 300 acres we talked about last spring? I’ve decided to sell the whole farm. I’d give you the price I quoted then.”

“Oh yes, Mike and I have had our eyes on that place for a long time. Being right next to our place, it would help us so much. I’ll ask him tonight and call you first thing in the morning.”

“Ma’am, I’m afraid I’ll have to have an answer now. I have a man from Estancia waiting to put a down payment on it. But I knew you and Mr. Shaw had expressed an interest in it. I’m sorry to have to do it this way.”

“That’s quite all right. I understand. We’ll take it. Give Mary my regards.”

My aunt Modena had lived on farms and ranches all her life. She knew a good deal. She knew Mr. Duncan was honest. She also knew the mind of her husband. Over the years, he’d learned to trust her judgment.

After 49 years, David and I have begun to know each other’s minds. But if it gets to 94, he would not trust me to buy a farm.

What would I do with a farm? I can’t keep a houseplant alive.

My husband does safely trust in me. He trusts me to do him good and not evil. (Proverbs 31:11-12).

Before retirement, I typed medical reports so I can help buy his wool and flax ready to wear. I bring food from Grocery Outlet and Winco.

I don’t have maids, and I don’t usually rise early. But I am by his side. Many times, I’m David’s ears. He has lived with a severe hearing loss since early childhood.

Our Judy has learned how to travel all over the world with three children. She quickly learned in Australia how to drive on the right side of the car, the left side of the road. She adjusted to the Persian Gulf with its rigid rules and the taste of sand in your mouth. In Russia, she tolerated the severe winters, but never became comfortable with the severe poverty she witnessed. All this time, she still folds Greg’s laundry the U.S. Navy way.

My sister, Jo, has spent the last 57 years holding various sizes of boards for her furniture-maker husband.

Keeping the family together through multiple moves and cultures, holding a board or buying a farm -- A wise woman knows where she fits.

 

She considers a field and buys it.

Proverbs 31:16a

 

Suggested reading:

Romans 4:1-7

 

87

HE ALWAYS INSISTS ON PAYING

 

Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe.

Jesus Paid It All

Elvina M. Hall, 1865

 

“Are you supposed to want to pay?”

Our then five-year-old Jenny asked this question when her daddy and Grandma Rosie fought over the restaurant bill.

“No, David, I said I was taking you out.”

“Mother, I’m paying. You’ve done too much for us already. Put your money away.”

I’ve observed all kinds of dining payers.

There’s the “pay or die” macho man. If he must, he’ll knock his buddy unconscious before he’ll be the recipient. This can be almost as irritating as the nonpayer.

Another is the strictly Dutchman. “You pay yours; I’ll pay mine.” I’ve known people who made sure to carry their calculators with them so they could figure out the bill to the penny.

We’ve all seen the never-payer, who uses creative tactics to reach his free-lunch goal. I knew a poor college student who went to the restroom at ticket time. A friend’s uncle never could quite get to his wallet in time.

Most of us try to find a gracious middle.

One Man wants to pay. He insists on paying. In fact, He’s the only one who can clear the tab. For those who come to Jesus in repentance, their banquet ticket reads, “paid in full.”

 

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

 

Suggested reading:

Matthew 10:32-33

 

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88

GROCERY CART MINISTRY

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Riches I heed not, or man’s empty praise,

Thou mine inheritance, now and always.

Be Thou My Vision

Ancient Irish; translated, Mary Byrne, 1905.

 

“You get the cart blocking that parking space. I’ll grab those two behind that pickup truck.”

David, you embarrass me. Why do we have to return other people's carts every time we go to Target -- or Wal-Mart or Safeway -- or anyplace that has carts?

One day it dawned on me: Why am I humiliated because my husband does what is right and good and beyond the call of duty?

Several years ago, I played the piano at the rescue mission. The worship leader asked for testimonies.

A strong tug inside me brought me to my feet. The leader appeared so taken aback that I became self-conscious for my quick response.

I’m an innocent Sunday school girl. I don’t have a clue what these weathered men have been through. Who was I to tell them about Jesus?

Despite my inner arguments, it was too late. I would have felt more awkward to walk away and say nothing. The damage was done.

I briefly shared with them how Jesus had brought me to Himself. I made it clear that whether we went to church every Sunday or lived on the street, we all must come the same way -- through the blood of Jesus.

I sat down. I wish I could say I felt overjoyed by doing the right thing. I wish I knew that by my testimony, hundreds of hardened men and women came to Jesus.

To my knowledge, my words didn’t change anyone.

I lay in bed that night, still a little self-conscious at my forwardness. Why didn’t I just play the piano and keep my mouth shut?

I thought about the grocery carts. They pay young, healthy employees to bring in carts that lazy people leave by their cars.

Don’t we pay preachers to tell the homeless and the wayward about Jesus? But David was at Target. I was at the rescue mission. We did what we saw needed to be done. We did what was right.

Only one person mentioned my testimony after the service. Not many people have thanked David for returning grocery carts. I have called him a Boy Scout a few times.

By the way, now when I go to the store even by myself, I look for a cart to take back. Maybe I won’t be shy the next time I have an opportunity to speak about Jesus in public. After all, it’s the right thing to do.

[_ _
__]

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Romans 1:16

 

Suggested reading:

Isaiah 40:18-26

 

89

YOU PUT THE DINOSAUR

IN THE PAN?

 

I sing the almighty power of God,

That made the mountains rise,

That spread the flowing seas abroad,

And built the lofty skies.

I Sing the Almighty Power of God

Isaac Watts, 1715

 

My daughter, Judy, was cooking a whole chicken. Her then two-year-old, Abe, asked, “You put the dinosaur in the pan?”

I don’t know where he got his ideas about dinosaurs and their size. He’s probably familiar with them as plastic toys. They do have those lanky limbs and look gross, like a dead, uncooked chicken.

Do we keep God small like Abe’s vision of a dinosaur? We wouldn’t want Him to get too powerful.

If we read only a handful of the attributes of God in the Bible, we’ll be forced to let Him out of that tiny container we’re keeping Him in.

“The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem . . . The Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.” (Joel 3:16)

Can’t you see that chicken roaring in the pot?

God is “a shelter from the storm.” (Isaiah 25:4)

It said a shelter, not a chicken coop.

“Ever-present,” says Psalm 46:1.

It takes a pretty big God to be always wherever you are and wherever I am. Even a dinosaur can’t do that.

“Builder of everything” (Hebrews 3:4)

A God who is builder of everything certainly wouldn’t fit in our little pot.

“Commander of the Lord’s army” (Joshua 5:14)

Can’t you see that army clucking its way to victory?

“Him who is able to keep you from falling” (Jude 24)

Do you know anyone besides God who can keep you from falling?

“Creator of heaven and earth.” (Genesis 14:19)

Is your God big enough to create heaven and earth, sea and land, people and animals, dinosaurs and chickens? Is He big enough to take care of you today?

 

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one,

And calls them each by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength

Not one of them is missing.

Isaiah 40:26

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 104:10-18

 

90

CHOIR PRACTICE

 

The company of angels

Are praising thee on high,

And mortal men and all things

Created make reply.

All Glory, Laud, and Honor

Theodulph of Orleans

 

"Listen up, guys. Hold the noise down so we can get started. No mooing, barking or chirping -- or talking, you in the corner.

“I want to thank all of you for coming. I had no idea we’d have such a great turnout. Thanks to our purchasing committee for obtaining this big barn for our practices.

“Now, down to business: Angels, in the back please. If you spread your wings, we won’t be able to see anyone else. By the way, I expect we’ll glean a lot from your group. You guys have had centuries of experience praising God.

“Come on, little sparrows, in the front. Eagles, hawks and cats, don’t get any ideas.

“Hmmm, where shall I put you cows? I’d like your sound to be joyful, but subtle. Be sure to sing softly on the chorus. You guys can go next to the angels.

“Everyone ready? Begin at measure one. Be sure to watch me.”

 

………………………………………………………………………………………….

 

Isn’t it fun to imagine? All living things have lots to praise God for.

Psalm 104 tells us about God’s provision for His creatures.

God gives springs to water the beasts. From these springs, the wild donkeys quench their thirst. (11)

“The birds of the air nest by the water; they sing among the branches.” (12)

“God makes grass grow for the cattle.” (14) Would you think God would care about a cud-chewing cow?

Did you know the stork lives in the pine trees? (17) I thought he probably lived in a field near the hospital.

I love watching goats on a mountainside. According to the Bible, the high mountains belong to the goats. (18)

“The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God.” (21) They know where their next meal will come from.

God formed the leviathan to frolic! (26)

Excuse me; I need to get to choir practice. I don’t want those barking, twittering, frolicking critters to show me up.

 

My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.

Psalm 145:21

 

Suggested reading:

Romans 8

 

91

CRAFTSTORAPHOBIA

 

Through days of toil when heart doth fail,

When dangers fierce your path assail . . ..

No matter what may be the test,

Lean weary one upon his breast.

God will Take Care of You

Civilla d. Martin, 1905

 

“I need to go into Michael’s for some ribbon to block off a few church pews for Christmas Sunday.”

This was my husband speaking.

“I’ll wait in the car. Take all the time you need. I’m not coming in.”

For whatever reason, craft stores depress me. In severe cases, I break out in hives and a rash. All those things disturb me. I don’t know what to do with them. I like a few of the knickknacks other people make with Popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners. But you’re not going to hold me still to make Kleenex boxes out of yarn or tea towels that wrap around my refrigerator door handle. I have enough doilies from my grandmother. Bless her heart.

One day, I reluctantly went into Michael's with David because he said he needed to show me something. Maybe he was taunting me. I took a deep breath. I walked down aisle after cluttered aisle. The whole store looked like my girls' rooms when they were teenagers. I know, I have a cluttered house -- but not on purpose. I don't say, I think I’ll make this place look as lived in as possible. It just happens.

I did make it out of the store without any big emergency.

I also wrestle with real phobias -- some of them almost debilitating fears -- as do people I love.

When my girls were small, I feared something would happen to them -- so much so that I wasn't able to enjoy them to the fullest. I finally told God, "These children belong to you. However long you allow them to stay in my care please let me be blessed by them and be a blessing to them -- without fear.

I also fear confrontation. I’ll do it your way, say I’m sorry when it’s not my fault. I’ll let a matter go when it needs addressed for everyone’s good. Don’t make me come face-to-face with my dissenter.

My father died of throat cancer when I was 13. I still remember Daddy’s last choking spell five days before his death. Fifty-seven years later, this fear is almost conquered. But for years, I ran and plugged my ears when I heard someone choking.

My sister, Jodie, was affected in a different way by our daddy’s illness. She went to the mailbox a while back. There was correspondence from her clinic. She shook so hard she could hardly open the envelope. Jodie wrestles with a severe fear of cancer. She finally got the letter opened. “Amount owed . . .” What a relief. If it had been $5000, she still would have been thankful it was only a bill and not a critical diagnosis. Maybe her husband broke out in a cold sweat over the bill!

When we've done what we can -- taken care of our children, got our checkups, made sure we've spoken the truth in love -- we need to let go and trust God to conquer these fears.

Now that I’m retired, I hope this doesn’t mean I must make crocheted toilet seat covers.

 

When I am afraid, I will trust in you.

Psalm 56:3

 

Suggested reading:

Psalm 126

 

92

KEEP ON SINGING

YOUR ZION SONGS

 

Let our songs abound,

And every tear be dry;

We’re marching through

Immanuel’s ground,

To fairer worlds on high.

We’re marching to Zion,

That beautiful city of God.

We’re Marching to Zion

Isaac Watts, 1707

 

My grandson spent half his life in Eastern Russia without Sunday school as we know it.

He had mixed feelings on his first day in an English-speaking children’s class. He had lots of fun playing with the other kids and hearing the stories. But he met his mom outside looking a little distressed: “I didn’t know the God songs.”

The Israelites, in their captivity, knew the God songs, but had no heart to sing them.

In Babylon, they sat and wept when they remembered Zion. They even hung up their harps on the trees. Their captors taunted them: “Sing us one of your Zion songs.” (Psalm 137:1-3).

We've all had times we hurt too much to sing -- God songs, love songs or Zion songs.

God doesn't leave us in Babylon or Eastern Russia -- or grieving for Zion. He doesn't leave us without a song -- or a country.

“When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.” (Psalm 126:1-2)

God never breaks a promise to his people.

If you’ve received that inward circumcision that comes from the shedding of Jesus’ blood, then you’re one of his people. Paul tells us “. . . a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly . . . “(Romans 2:29)

Grab your harp off that tree. Let’s all sing the Zion songs.

 

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, the Lord has done great things for them.

Psalm 126:1-2

 

Suggested reading:

Proverbs 15:13-18

 

93

OUR THANKSGIVING MAYPOLE

 

Smile and give others your sunshine,

Smile as you meet with the throng,

Smile and the world will smile with you,

Greet you with gladness and song.

Smile

B.B. McKinney, 1924

 

I lay on the cold tile, holding my head up slightly with my hands clenched together behind my neck while David circled around me.

Our new sun porch was gorgeous, but in the middle of the room was an unsightly metal post helping to hold up the house. We didn’t notice it when it was considered outside. But now we needed to camouflage it before Thanksgiving. David decided to wrap it with rope to give the room a nautical look.

We marched to the hardware store with a cross-section of friends. Everyone had a say in the color, texture and thickness of the cord we’d use to cover the pole.

Where did the friends go? My job was to tighten the cord as David wrapped it around. He went a few rungs. I moved in to tighten the job. For several hours, he wrapped, I tightened.

During one of our breaks, David commented, “I wish this pole weren’t here, but it is.”

I wish my front teeth didn’t stick out when I smile, but they do. I wish my dark brown hair hadn’t turned gray, but it did. I wish my thin figure weren’t gone, but it is.

My mother once broke her dental bridge, making her toothless in front until the dentist could fit her in. David and I were out of town when it happened.

“Tell David all I want for Christmas is my two front teeth.”

It didn’t bother her to go to church this way. She laughed before anyone had a chance to simply smile politely. Then they felt comfortable to laugh with her. Pastor Tim even called her “toothless,” to her delight.

Often God gives us important lessons to support our spiritual house. Maybe other times he gives us a good laugh so we won’t take ourselves too seriously.

We could have just slapped some paint on that cold gray pipe, but we didn’t.

 

A happy heart makes the face cheerful.

Proverbs 15:13a

 

Suggested reading:

1 Corinthians 12:4-30

 

94

MY LAST DAY AT SCRAPBOOKING

 

In the service of the King

To His guiding hand

Forever I will cling.

In the Service of the King

Alfred H. Ackley, 1912

 

“Embellishment.” I know what embellish means –something my husband doesn’t do much of and I do a lot of. I’ve never embellished on a piece of thick colored paper.

“Cardstock.” I think that’s adult-strength construction paper.

What about vellum paper, tape runner and foam mount? Crop? Isn't that what the farmers plant every year -- and hope it grows?

My pictures of the last 50 years had been thrown in boxes. I decided I must clean out that mess. I wouldn’t take another picture until this was accomplished.

I read in the church bulletin. Scrapbooking club this Sunday, 12:15 to 4.

I can do this. I know I’m not crafty, but all I have to do is stick-glue my pictures on colored paper. I’d already divided my pictures into categories. I took one group in an envelope. “That’s all you need to bring,” Teresa assured me. What a pleasant lady. How could I not enjoy this Sunday afternoon project?

I walked into the fellowship hall. They set me up, gave me my own table to sprawl out on. I got out my pictures from the early 80s. Only then did I notice, we weren’t even good picture takers. These pictures looked tacky. I cut off heads, arms, and legs. Everything was old. We lived on an old camp in an old house in the Santa Cruz Mountains. We even had old mountains.

Teresa showed me how to use the paper cutter to cut frame paper slightly larger than the picture. Then paste the whole thing on a contrasting-color paper. That didn’t look hard.

On the second page, without Teresa’s guidance, I forgot to use frames. I just slapped that stick glue on those pictures and stuck them on card stock.

The other girls talked, worked, and laughed all at the same time. They appeared to enjoy themselves. Even with the chattering and giggling, their work came out gorgeous. The harder I worked, the more unattractive my stuff looked. I tried using proper equipment, even the decorative edge scissors.

I looked busy until I could politely leave. I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings -- especially my own.

All this has led to a monumental discovery: The world is divided into two types of people -- Those who like crafts and those who abhor crafts.

How could such nice Christian women enjoy pasting pictures on thick paper and dressing them up with stickers and stamps? Why did theirs come out so beautiful? They had kids and grandkids. I had kids and grandkids. They were believers. I was a believer. Their husbands seemed like respectable citizens. Yet, they derived enjoyment from something I’d kill to get out of.

The experience took me back to third grade. We had to make covers for our report cards. I was mortified. Couldn’t we print the alphabet or the Pledge of Allegiance on the front? But draw a picture for everyone to see?

After I got home from scrapbooking, I began to paraphrase Romans 12:6-8 in my mind: If a woman's gift is scrapbooking, let her scrapbook -- to honor her family. If it is teaching, let her teach. If it is writing, let her write -- as unto the Lord.

My Sunday afternoons will be free again. I’ll miss those ladies. Anyone want to buy a good camera, cheap?

 

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:4

 

Suggested reading:

Acts 12:5-11

 

95

UNSANCTIFIED SERVANTS

 

Holy, holy is what the angels sing,

And I expect to help them make the courts of heaven ring,

But when I sing redemption’s story, they will fold theirwings,

For angels never knew the joy that our salvation brings.

Holy, Holy is What the Angels Sing

Rev. Johnson Oatman, Jr.

 

David tried to make a run for it across a muddy section of unpaved road, only to get stuck in the middle. We had gotten an early start from my parents’ cabin in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. We decided to go home the back way to see more country. The snow was melting on this nearly spring day. There was no sign of life in any direction. In about 20 minutes, a man came in his Jeep with a winch attached to the front. He pulled us out and told us the road would be fine the rest of the way. It was.

My parents’ winter pasture covered several sections of land. The snow was so heavy they didn’t know where the road went. Suddenly the wheel dropped into a gully. Their attempts at getting out were futile. Soon they saw a pickup in the distance. They got the driver’s attention. He came and pulled them out. They never knew why he had been in their pasture, but were glad he was.

Were these rescuers angels? We don’t know. Do angels work only in the mud? I don’t think so.

Denise and her friend drove across town. They saw an older frail man trying to push his stalled car. Nobody helped. These two small-framed women got out and gave it all they had, but the result was comical. A man came from seemingly nowhere. He stood between the two ladies and like the incredible hulk pushed the car up the hill and into the gas station. They both turned to thank him, but he was nowhere in sight. Was he an angel? Maybe. The Bible says we may be entertaining angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

Angels do other amazing things besides getting people out of mud and busy streets. They attended Jesus after the devil left him. (Matt. 4:11) An angel came to Mary and then to Joseph to announce their places in our Savior’s birth. Angels told the shepherds of the coming of the Savior. (Luke 2: 8-9) They will be the gatherers of the elect. (Matt 24:31).

Angels are servants, never experiencing the covenant relation we have with God. How much more should we be His servants!

 

For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

Hebrews 2:16

 

Suggested reading:

Matthew 10:13-16

 

96

NOT JUST FOR LITTLE CHILDREN

 

Jesus loves me, this I know!

For the Bible tells me so.

Jesus Loves Me

Anna B. Warner, 1860

 

"Gentlemen, there is still much in this world and in the Bible that I do not understand, but of one thing I am certain -- 'Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so' -- and gentlemen, that is sufficient!" These words came from a professor at Princeton Seminary. (from Amazing Grace, Kenneth W. Osbeck).

“Jesus Loves Me” is considered a children’s song, but all ages and professions need these words.

Little ones to Him belong. Do you belong to Him? I don’t think God’s children are limited to just the little ones. “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26) That means us daughters too!

They are weak but He is strong. Do we become stronger as we get older? I think the older we get, the more we need God’s strength. Life gets harder. We don’t have our parents to comfort and guide us. He tells us His strength is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Jesus loves me! He who died, Heaven’s gates to open wide! We don’t outgrow our desire for Heaven. Whether we die at two or ninety-two, Heaven awaits the believer. In John 14, Jesus talks about Heaven, or “my Father’s house,” where there will be many rooms. He continues to explain that ‘no one comes to the Father except through me.” No matter how simplistic and childish it sounds, nobody but Jesus can open Heaven’s gates.

He will wash away my sin. How do I get my sin washed away? “With the precious blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:19)

Let His little child come in. “Whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37b)

Jesus loves me! He will stay close beside me all the way. That promise doesn’t end when we become 21. He says, “Never will I leave you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

If I love him, when I die He will take me home on high.

Gentleman -- and ladies -- that is sufficient.

 

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

1 John 3:1

 

Suggested reading:

James 3:1-12

 

97

TWO-INCH BACKHOE

 

I would be true, for there are those who trust me.

I Would Be True

Howard Arnold Walter

 

My mother and I have lots of misunderstandings. She has a hearing problem. I told her about my sister’s funny monologue on chewing tobacco. She replied, “Two-inch backhoe?”

Another evening, we’d planned to relax and watch TV. Just minutes before, I had complained about some chore David had put off. We sat in our recliners on this brisk evening. “Do you want an afghan?” I asked.

I’m not going to ask him; you ask him!

These comical incidents can become pleasant family legends. But we often have misunderstandings that don’t involve our ears. They instead come from our hearts by way of our tongues.

A friend and I had a disagreement. Because of my sensitive nature and her straightforwardness, I was offended by her advice. I outwardly accepted it, but then brooded all week. I finally called and told her how she'd hurt me. It was only then I learned more about her -- she too had a sensitive nature. She felt terrible that she'd hurt my feelings, and now I'd hurt hers. Though we both apologized, our relationship was strained for a long time.

James tells us, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless” (1:26). In chapter three, James indicates that the reality of our faith is tested by control of the tongue.

“With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9)

He also says, “. . . no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” (James 3:8)

Let’s let God tame our tongues so we may use them to glorify Him, and then our misunderstandings will be no bigger than a two-inch backhoe.

 

A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit.

Proverbs 15:4 (NASV)

 

Suggested reading:

Daniel 3

 

98

DO YOU NEED A PASSPORT TO GO WHERE JESUS GOES?

 

It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide;

It may be in the sunshine that I, in peace abide;

But this one thing I know -- if it be dark or fair,

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere!

If Jesus Goes With Me

C. Austin Miles, 1936

 

It may be in the valley, where countless dangers hide. On July 17, 2002, seven armed men attacked the campus at International Christian Academy in the Ivory Coast, where Mike and Deleen Cousineau ministered. Mike suffered several blows to the head. One of these was with a 9mm pistol.

It may be I must carry the blessed word of life across the burning desert to those in sinful strife. Mike was then kidnapped at gunpoint and taken off campus in his own car. Once the car was stopped, he was ordered to get out so they could kill him.

And though it be my lot to bear my colors there . . . In the split second it took the driver to reload his gun, Mike took off running behind the car in a zigzag fashion. At least three bullets were fired.

If Jesus goes with me, I’ll go anywhere! God kept His word. Mike escaped without harm.

Mike knew from promises throughout the Bible Jesus would go with him. He also knew from experience.

Once Mike and Christian brothers and sisters tried to have a burial service for a young Believer who had come out of paganism. The Gospel was preached in French and English despite Satan’s defiance. Only later, Mike was told these men had planned to take him away and kill him.

Jesus went with him to the brother’s funeral.

Mike confronted a village king on the issue of idolatry. He told the king he would pray to the living God to change his heart.

Jesus went with him to visit the king.

Do you need a passport to go where Jesus goes?

I’m afraid so.

Good news. It’s readily available. It’s permanent, and you don’t have to wait for bureaucracy.

Mike received his passport early on. When he was eight, Mike accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. At this young age, he was relieved to know he could spend forever with Jesus and not go to hell.

In Mike’s words, “It has been quite a journey and He has been with me the entire way.”

 

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

(Much of the above is taken from the writings of Mike and Deleen Cousineau with permission.)

 

Suggested reading:

Luke 15:1-7

 

99

WILLIE AND THE NINETY-AND-NINE

 

Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety-and-nine;

Are they not enough for Thee?

But the Shepherd made answer:

This of Mine has wandered away from Me.

The Ninety and Nine

Elizabeth C. Clephane

 

There were ninety-and-nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold. “You’re a pretty lucky shepherd. How many of us in any profession can claim ninety-nine percent? They’re all tucked in, safe and sound. You’ve done a great job. I’ll bet the herd boss gives you a raise.”

But one was out on the hills away, far off from the gates of gold. Away on the mountain wild and bare, away from the tender shepherd’s care “I don’t want a raise. I want my sheep that’s lost. He’s out there on that mountain someplace. He needs me, and I need to find him.”

  • * *

None of the ransomed ever knew how deep were the waters crossed. “Hey, Brownie, where did our shepherd go?”

“He went to find Willie again. Willie’s always getting himself into trouble.”

“Oh well, how hard could it be to rescue a dumb sheep?”

[_ Out in the desert, he heard its cry -- sick and helpless and ready to die. _] “Come on little fellow. When will you learn to let me take care of you? Let’s go home. It’s cold and dark out here.”

Lord, whence are those blood drops all the way that mark out the mountain’s track? “Look, Brownie, our shepherd is hurt. He’s bleeding. He got himself almost killed, but here he comes with Willie on his shoulder.”

But all through the mountains, thunder-riven, and up from the rocky steep, there arose a glad cry to the gate of heaven, “Rejoice! I have found my sheep! “Hey, Brownie, our shepherd is singing. He’s all cut up, but I’ve never seen him so happy.”

“Curly, he loves all of us, don’t you know? He’s sad when even one of us gets lost. Now he can relax because we’re all back in the pen.”

And the angels echoed around the throne, Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!

“Brownie, I think I hear angels singing.”

“Go to sleep, Curly.”

 

Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.

Luke 15:6b

 

 

[* White Tree Publishing publishes mainstream evangelical Christian literature in paperback and eBook formats, for people of all ages. We aim to make our eBooks available free for all eBook devices, but some distributors will only list our books free at their discretion, and may make a small charge for some titles -- but they are still great value! *]

 

More Christian books from White Tree Publishing are on the next pages, some of which are available as both eBooks and paperbacks. More Christian books than those shown here are available in non-fiction and fiction, for adults and younger readers. The full list of published and forthcoming books is on our website www.whitetreepublishing.com. Please visit there regularly for updates.

 

We rely on our readers to tell their families, friends and churches about our books. Social media is a great way of doing this. Take a look at our range of fiction and non-fiction books and pass the word on. You can even contact your Christian TV or radio station to let them know about these books. Also, please write a positive review if you are able.

 

 

 

Christian Non-fiction

 

Four short books of help in the Christian life:

 

So, What Is a Christian? An introduction to a personal faith. Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-2-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-2-6

 

Starting Out -- help for new Christians of all ages. Paperback ISBN 978-1-4839-622-0-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-0-2

[_ _
__]

Help! -- Explores some problems we can encounter with our faith. Paperback ISBN 978-0-9927642-2-7, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-1-9

 

Running Through the Bible a simple understanding of what’s in the Bible Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-6-5, eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-3-3

 

 

Be Still

Bible Words of Peace and Comfort

 

There may come a time in our lives when we want to concentrate on God’s many promises of peace and comfort. The Bible readings in this book are for people who need to know what it means to be held securely in the Lord’s loving arms.

Rather than selecting single verses here and there, each reading in this book is a run of several verses. This gives a much better picture of the whole passage in which a favourite verse may be found.

As well as being for personal use, these readings are intended for sharing with anyone in special need, to help them draw comfort from the reading and prayer for that date. Bible reading and prayer are the two most important ways of getting to know and trust Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.

The reference to the verses for the day are given, for you to look up and read in your preferred Bible translation.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9933941-4-0

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9932760-7-1

116 pages 5×7.8 inches

 

 

A Previously Unpublished Book

The Simplicity of the Incarnation

J Stafford Wright

Foreword by J I Packer

 

“I believe in … Jesus Christ … born of the Virgin Mary.” A beautiful stained glass image, or a medical reality? This is the choice facing Christians today. Can we truly believe that two thousand years ago a young woman, a virgin named Mary, gave birth to the Son of God? The answer is simple: we can.

The author says, “In these days many Christians want some sensible assurance that their faith makes sense, and in this book I want to show that it does.”

In this uplifting book from a previously unpublished and recently discovered manuscript, J Stafford Wright investigates the reality of the incarnation, looks at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and helps the reader understand more of the Trinity and the certainty of eternal life in heaven.

This book was written shortly before the author’s death in 1985. The Simplicity of the Incarnation is published for the first time, unedited, from his final draft.

 

eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-5-7

Paperback ISBN: 9-780-9525-9563-2

160 pages 5.25 × 8 inches

Available from bookstores and major internet sellers

 

 

Bible People Real People

An Unforgettable A-Z of Who is Who in the Bible

 

In a fascinating look at real people, J Stafford Wright shows his love and scholarly knowledge of the Bible as he brings the characters from its pages to life in a memorable way.

Read this book through from A to Z, like any other title

Dip in and discover who was who in personal Bible study

Check the names when preparing a talk or sermon

The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly – no one is spared. This is a book for everyone who wants to get to grips with the reality that is in the pages of the Bible, the Word of God.

With the names arranged in alphabetical order, the Old and New Testament characters are clearly identified so that the reader is able to explore either the Old or New Testament people on the first reading, and the other Testament on the second.

Those wanting to become more familiar with the Bible will find this is a great introduction to the people inhabiting the best selling book in the world, and those who can quote chapter and verse will find everyone suddenly becomes much more real – because these people are real. This is a book to keep handy and refer to frequently while reading the Bible.

“For students of my generation the name Stafford Wright was associated with the spiritual giants of his generation. Scholarship and integrity were the hallmarks of his biblical teaching. He taught us the faith and inspired our discipleship of Christ. To God be the Glory.” The Rt. Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool

This is a lively, well-informed study of some great Bible characters. Professor Gordon Wenham MA PhD. Tutor in Old Testament at Trinity College Bristol and Emeritus Professor of Old Testament at the University of Gloucestershire.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-7-1

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-5-6

314 pages 6×9 inches

Note: This book is not available in all eBook formats

 

 

Christians and the Supernatural

J Stafford Wright

 

There is an increasing interest and fascination in the paranormal today. To counteract this, it is important for Christians to have a good understanding of how God sometimes acts in mysterious ways, and be able to recognize how he can use our untapped gifts and abilities in his service. We also need to understand how the enemy can tempt us to misuse these gifts and abilities, just as Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.

In this single volume of his two previously published books on the occult and the supernatural (Understanding the Supernatural and Our Mysterious God) J Stafford Wright examines some of the mysterious events we find in the Bible and in our own lives. Far from dismissing the recorded biblical miracles as folk tales, he is convinced that they happened in the way described, and explains why we can accept them as credible.

The writer says: When God the Holy Spirit dwells within the human spirit, he uses the mental and physical abilities which make up a total human being . . . The whole purpose of this book is to show that the Bible does make sense.

And this warning: The Bible, claiming to speak as the revelation of God, and knowing man’s weakness for substitute religious experiences, bans those avenues into the occult that at the very least are blind alleys that obscure the way to God, and at worst are roads to destruction.

 

eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-4-0

Paperback ISBN 13: 9-780-9525-9564-9

222 pages 5.25 × 8 inches

Available from bookstores and major internet sellers

 

 

Howell Harris

His Own Story

Foreword by J. Stafford Wright

 

Howell Harris was brought up to regard the Nonconformists as “a perverted and dangerously erroneous set of people.” Hardly a promising start for a man who was to play a major role in the Welsh Revival. Yet in these extracts from his writings and diaries we can read the thoughts of Howell Harris before, during and after his own conversion.

We can see God breaking through the barriers separating "church and chapel", and discover Christians of different denominations preparing the country for revival. Wesley, Whitefield, Harris. These great 18th century preachers worked both independently and together to preach the Living Gospel. This book is a vivid first-hand account of the joys, hardships and struggles of one of these men -- Howell Harris (1714-1773).

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9933941-9-5

 

 

From the Streets of London

to the Streets of Gold

[_ _
__]

The Life Story of

Brother Clifford Edwards

A True Story of Love

by

Brother Clifford Edwards

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9933941-8-8

 

(A printed copy is available directly from Brother Clifford)

 

This is the personal story of Clifford Edwards, affectionately known as Brother Clifford by his many friends. Going from fame to poverty, he was sleeping on the streets of London with the homeless for twenty years, until Jesus rescued him and gave him an amazing mission in life. Brother Clifford tells his true story here in the third person, giving the glory to Jesus.

 

 

Seven Steps to

Walking in Victory

 

Lin Wills

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-3-5

 

Also available as a booklet

www.lenandlin.com

 

How is your Christian life going? Finding it hard and not sure why? Wherever you might be, Seven Steps to Walking in Victory is a very short book to help you see where you are in the Christian life, and help you keep on the right path to the victory that comes through walking closely with Jesus — to live the Christian life you always wanted to live!

 

 

English Hexapla

The Gospel of John

(Paperback only)

 

Published to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible, this book contains the full text of Bagster’s assembled work for the Gospel of John. On each page in parallel columns are the words of the six most important translations of the New Testament into English, made between 1380 and 1611. Below the English is the original Greek text after Scholz.

To enhance the reading experience, there is an introduction telling how we got our English Bibles, with significant pages from early Bibles shown at the end of the book.

Here is an opportunity to read English that once split the Church by giving ordinary people the power to discover God’s word for themselves. Now you can step back in time and discover those words and spellings for yourself, as they first appeared hundreds of years ago.

 

Wyclif 1380, Tyndale 1534, Cranmer 1539, Geneva 1557,

Douay Rheims 1582, Authorized (KJV) 1611.

 

[_ English Hexapla -- The Gospel of John _]

Published by White Tree Publishing

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-1-8

Size 7.5 × 9.7 inches paperback

Not available as an eBook

 

 

Roddy Goes to Church

Church Life and Church People

Derek Osborne

 

No, not a children’s book! An affectionate, optimistic look at church life involving, as it happens, Roddy and his friends who live in a small town. Problems and opportunities related to change and outreach are not, of course, unique to their church!

Maybe you know Miss Prickly-Cat who pointedly sits in the same pew occupied by generations of her forebears, and perhaps know many of the characters in this look at church life today. A wordy Archdeacon comes on the scene, and Roddy is taken aback by the events following his first visit to church. Roddy’s best friend Bushy-Beard says wise things, and he hears an enlightened Bishop . . .

Bishop David Pytches writes: A unique spoof on church life. Will you recognise yourself and your church here? … Derek Osborne’s mind here is insightful, his characters graphic and typical and the style acutely comical, but there is a serious message in his madness. Buy this, read it and enjoy!

David Pytches, Chorleywood

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9935005-0-3

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-09927642-0-3

46 pages 5.5 × 8.5 inches paperback UK £3.95

Available from bookstores and major internet sellers

 

 

Heaven Our Home

William Branks

White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition

 

“I go to prepare a place for you.” This well-known promise from Jesus must cause us to think about the reality of heaven. Heaven is to be our home for ever. Where is heaven? What is it like? Will I recognize people there? All who are Christians must surely want to hear about the place where they are to spend eternity. In this abridged edition of William Branks classic work of 1861, we discover what the Bible has to say about heaven. There may be a few surprises, and there are certainly some challenges as we explore a subject on which there seems to be little teaching and awareness today.

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9933941-8-8

 

 

I See Men as Trees, Walking

Roger and Janet Niblett

 

Roger and Janet Niblett were just an ordinary English couple, but then they met the Lord and their lives were totally transformed. Like the Bethlehem shepherds of old, they had a compulsion to share the same good news that Jesus Christ had come into the world to save sinners. Empowered by the Holy Spirit they proclaimed the gospel in the market place, streets, prisons, hospitals and churches with a vibrancy that only comes from being in direct touch with the Almighty and being readily available to serve Him as a channel of His grace and love. God was with them and blessed their ministry abundantly. Praise God! (Pastor Mervyn Douglas, Clevedon Family Church)

 

The story of Roger Niblett is an inspiration to all who serve the Lord. He was a prolific street evangelist, whose impact on the gospel scene was a wonder to behold. It was my privilege to witness his conversion, when he went forward to receive Christ at the Elim Church, Keynsham. The preacher was fiery Scottish evangelist Rev’d Alex Tee. It was not long before Roger too caught that same soul winner’s fire which propelled him far and wide, winning multitudes for Christ. Together with his wife Janet, they proceeded to “Tell the World of Jesus”. (Des Morton, Founder Minister of Keynsham Elim Church)

 

I know of no couple who have been more committed to sharing their faith from the earliest days of their journey with the Lord Jesus Christ. Along the way, at home and abroad, and with a tender heart for the marginalised, Rog and Jan have introduced multitudes to the Saviour and have inspired successive generations of believers to do the same. It was our joy and privilege to have them as part of the family at Trinity where Janet continues to serve in worship and witness. Loved by young and old alike, they will always have a special place in our hearts. (Andy Paget, Trinity Tabernacle, Bristol. Vice President, International Gospel Outreach)

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9935005-1-0

 

Also available as a paperback

(published by Gozo Publishing Bristol)

paperback ISBN: 978-1508674979

 

 

Leaves from

My Notebook

New Abridged Edition

William Haslam

(1818-1905)

You may have heard of the clergyman who was converted while preaching his own sermon! Well, this is man -- William Haslam. It happened in Cornwall one Sunday in 1851. He later wrote his autobiography in two books: From Death into Life and Yet not I. Here, in Leaves from my NoteBook, William Haslam writes about events and people not present in his autobiography. They make fascinating and challenging reading as we watch him sharing his faith one to one or in small groups, with dramatic results. Haslam was a man who mixed easily with titled gentry and the poorest of the poor, bringing the message of salvation in a way that people were ready to accept. This book has been lightly edited and abridged to make reading easier today by using modern punctuation and avoiding over-long sentences. William Haslam’s amazing message is unchanged.

 

Original book first published 1889

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9935005-2-7

 

 

Blunt’s Scriptural Coincidences

Gospels and Acts

J. J. Blunt

New Edition

 

This book will confirm (or restore) your faith in the Gospel records. Clearly the Gospels were not invented. There is too much unintentional agreement between them for this to be so. Undesigned coincidences are where writers tell the same account, but from a different viewpoint. Without conspiring together to get their accounts in agreement, they include unexpected (and often unnoticed) details that corroborate their records. Not only are these unexpected coincidences found within the Gospels, but sometimes a historical writer unknowingly and unintentionally confirms the Bible record.

Within these pages you will see just how accurate were the memories of the Gospel writers -- even of the smallest details which on casual reading can seem of little importance, yet clearly point to eyewitness accounts. J.J. Blunt spent many years investigating these coincidences. And here they are, as found in the four Gospels and Acts.

 

First published in instalments between 1833 and 1847

The edition used here published in 1876

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9935005-5-8

 

 

Fullness of Power

in Christian Life and Service

 

Home and Group Questions for Today Edition

 

R. A. Torrey

Questions by Chuck Antone, Jr.

 

This is a White Tree Publishing Home and Group Questions for Today Edition. At the end of each chapter are questions for use either in your personal study, or for sharing in a church or home group. Why? Because: “From many earnest hearts there is rising a cry for more power: more power in our personal conflict with the world, the flesh, and the devil; more power in our work for others. The Bible makes the way to obtain this longed-for power very plain. There is no presumption in undertaking to tell how to obtain Fullness of Power in Christian life and service; for the Bible itself tells, and the Bible was intended to be understood. R. A. Torrey (1856-1928) was an American evangelist, pastor, educator, and writer whose name is attached to several organisations, and whose work is still well known today.

“The Bible statement of the way is not mystical or mysterious. It is very plain and straightforward. If we will only make personal trial of The Power of the Word of God; The Power of the Blood of Christ; The Power of the Holy Spirit; The Power of Prayer; The Power of a Surrendered Life; we will then know the Fullness of Power in Christian life and service. We will try to make this plain in the following chapters. There are many who do not even know that there is a life of abiding rest, joy, satisfaction, and power; and many others who, while they think there must be something beyond the life they know, are in ignorance as to how to obtain it. This book is also written to help them.” (Torrey’s Introduction.)

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9935005-8-9

 

ALSO BY MARTY MAGEE

 

 

Twenty-five Days Around the Manger

A Light Family Advent Devotional

Marty Magee

 

Will a purple bedroom help Marty’s misgivings about Christmas?

As a kid, Martha Evans didn’t like Christmas. Sixty years later, she still gets a little uneasy when this holiday on steroids rolls around. But she knows, when all the tinsel is pulled away, Whose Day it is. Now Marty Magee, she is blessed with five grandchildren who help her not take herself too seriously.

Do you know the angel named Herald? Will young Marty survive the embarrassment of her Charley Brown Christmas tree? And by the way, where’s the line to see Jesus?

Twenty-Five Days Around the Manger goes from Marty’s mother as a little girl awaiting her brother’s arrival, to O Holy Night when our souls finally were able to feel their full worth.

This and much more. Join Marty around the manger this Advent season.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-1-0

 

Also in full colour paperback

from Rickety Bridge Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-4923248-0-5

Available from bookstores and major internet sellers

 

 

The Gospels and Acts

In Simple Paraphrase

with Helpful Explanations

together with

Running Through the Bible

 

Chris Wright

 

White Tree Publishing presents a paraphrase in today's English of passages from the four Gospels -- Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- relating Jesus' birth, life, death and resurrection in one continuous narrative with helpful explanations, plus a paraphrase of events from the book of Acts. Also in this book is a brief summary of the Epistles and Revelation. For readers unfamiliar with the New Testament, this book makes a valuable introduction, and it will surely help those familiar with the New Testament to gain some extra knowledge and understanding as they read it. Please note that this is not a translation of the Bible. It is a careful and sensitive paraphrase of parts of the New Testament, and is not intended to be quoted as Scripture. Part 2 is a short introduction to the whole Bible -- Running Through the Bible -- which is available from White Tree Publishing as a separate eBook and paperback.

 

Translators and others involved in foreign mission work, please note: If you believe that this copyright book, or part of this book, would be useful if translated into another language, please contact White Tree Publishing ([email protected]). Permission will be free, and assistance in formatting and publishing your new translation as an eBook and/or a paperback may be available, also without charge.

 

[_ Superb! I have never read anything like it. It is colloquially worded in a succinct, clear style with a brilliant (and very helpful) running commentary interspersed. I have found it a compelling read -- and indeed spiritually engaging and moving. _] Canon Derek Osborne, Norfolk, England.

 

eBook only

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9935005-9-6

 

 

Faith that Prevails

The Early Pentecostal Movement

Home and Group Questions for Today Edition

 

Smith Wigglesworth

Study Questions by Chuck Antone, Jr.

 

This is a White Tree Publishing Home and Group Questions for Today Edition. At the end of each of the seven chapters are questions by Chuck Antone, Jr. for use either in your personal study, or for sharing in a church or home group. Why? Because Smith Wigglesworth, often referred to as the Apostle of Faith, putting the emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit, writes, “God is making people hungry and thirsty after His best. And everywhere He is filling the hungry and giving them that which the disciples received at the very beginning. Are you hungry? If you are, God promises that you shall be filled.”

Smith Wigglesworth was one of the pioneers of the early Pentecostal revival. Born in 1859 he gave himself to Jesus at the age of eight and immediately led his mother to the Lord. His ministry took him to Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Pacific Islands, India and what was then Ceylon. Smith Wigglesworth’s faith was unquestioning.

In this book, he says, “There is nothing impossible with God. All the impossibility is with us, when we measure God by the limitations of our unbelief.”

 

eBook only

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-4-1

 

 

The Authority and

Interpretation

of the Bible

 

J Stafford Wright

 

When we start to think about God, we soon come to a point where we say, “I can discover nothing more about God by myself. I must see whether He has revealed anything about Himself, about His character, and about the way to find Him and to please Him.” From the beginning, the Christian church has believed that certain writings were the Word of God in a unique sense. Before the New Testament was compiled, Christians accepted the Old Testament as their sacred Book. Here they were following the example of Christ Himself. During His ministry Jesus Christ made great use of the Old Testament, and after His resurrection He spent some time in teaching His disciples that every section of the Old Testament had teachings in it concerning Himself. Any discussion of the inspiration of the Bible gives place sooner or later to a discussion of its interpretation. To say that the Bible is true, or infallible, is not sufficient: for it is one thing to have an infallible Book, and quite another to use it. J Stafford Wright was a greatly respected evangelical theologian and author, and former Principal of Tyndale Hall Theological College, Bristol.

 

eBook only

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-9-6

 

 

Psalms,

A Guide Psalm By Psalm

J Stafford Wright

 

The Bible Psalms. Do you see them as a source of comfort? A help in daily living? A challenge? Or perhaps something to study in depth? Psalms, a Guide Psalm by Psalm will meet all these requirements, and more. It is an individual study guide that can be used for daily reading in conjunction with your own Bible. It is also a resource for group study, with brief questions for study and discussion. And it’s a Bible commentary, dealing with the text of each Psalm section by section.

 

eBook only

eBook ISBN 978-0-9957594-2-8

 

eBook Coming 2017

 

 

The Christian’s Secret

of a Happy Life

 

Hannah Smith

 

White Tree Publishing Edition

 

Christian and happy? Do these two words fit comfortably together? Is our Christian life a burden or a pleasure? Is our quiet time with the Lord a duty or a delight? First written by Hannah Pearsall Smith as monthly instalments for an American magazine, the words in The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life underwent several revisions over the years by Hannah (aka Mrs. Pearsall Smith and HWS). Hannah was the feisty wife of a Quaker preacher, and her life was not easy, culminating with her husband being involved in a sexual scandal and eventually losing his faith. So, Christian and happy? An alternative title could have been The Christian’s Secret of a Trusting Life.

 

How often, Hannah asks, do we bring our burdens to the Lord, as He told us to, only to take them home with us again? There are some wonderful and challenging chapters in this book. Hannah insists that fact, faith and feelings come in that order. In later life Hannah put feelings and personal revelation first, and moved away from the mainstream Christian faith. But her earlier teaching in this book is firmly Scripture based, as Hannah insists that there is more to the Christian life than simply passing through the gate of salvation. There is a journey ahead for us, where every step we take should be consecrated to bring us closer to God, day by day, and year by year.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-6-6

 

Christian Fiction

 

The Lost Clue

Mrs. O. F. Walton

Abridged Edition

A Romantic Mystery

With modern line drawings

 

Living the life of a wealthy man, Kenneth Fortescue receives devastating news from his father. But he is only able to learn incomplete facts about his past, because a name has been obliterated from a very important letter. Two women are vying for Kenneth's attention -- Lady Violet, the young daughter of Lady Earlswood, and Marjorie Douglas, the daughter of a widowed parson's wife.

 

 

Written in 1905 by the much-loved author Mrs. O. F. Walton, this edition has been lightly abridged and edited to make it easier to read and understand today. This romantic mystery story gives an intriguing glimpse into the class extremes that existed in Edwardian England, with wealthy titled families on one side, and some families living in terrible poverty on the other.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-2-6

 

 

Doctor Forester

Mrs. O. F. Walton

Abridged Edition

A Romantic Mystery

with modern line drawings

 

Doctor Forester, a medical man only twenty-five years old, has come to a lonely part of Wales to escape from an event in his recent past that has caused him much hurt. So he has more on his mind than worrying about strange noises behind his bedroom wall in the old castle where he is staying.

A young woman who shares part of the journey with him is staying in the same village. He is deeply attracted to her, and believes that she is equally attracted to him. But he soon has every reason to think that his old school friend Jack is also courting her.

Written and taking place in the early 1900s, this romantic mystery is a mix of excitement and heartbreak. What is the secret of Hildick Castle? And can Doctor Forester rid himself of the past that now haunts his life?

 

 

Mrs. O. F. Walton was a prolific writer in the late 1800s, and this abridged edition captures all of the original writer’s insight into what makes a memorable story. With occasional modern line drawings.

  • * *

Ghosts of the past kept flitting through his brain. Dark shadows which he tried to chase away seemed to pursue him. Here these ghosts were to be laid; here those shadows were to be dispelled; here that closed chapter was to be buried for ever. So he fought long and hard with the phantoms of the past until the assertive clock near his bedroom door announced that it was two o’clock.

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-0-2

 

 

Was I Right?

Mrs. O. F. Walton

Abridged Edition

A Victorian Romance

With modern line drawings

 

May Lindsay and her young stepsister Maggie are left penniless and homeless when their father the local doctor dies. Maggie can go to live with her three maiden aunts, but May at the age of nineteen is faced with a choice. Should she take the position of companion to a girl she doesn’t know, who lives some distance away, or accept a proposal of marriage from the man who has been her friend since they were small children?

May Lindsay makes her decision, but it is not long before she wonders if she has done the right thing. This is a story of life in Victorian England as May, who has led a sheltered life, is pushed out into a much bigger world than she has previously known. She soon encounters titled families, and is taken on a tour of the Holy Land which occupies much of the story.

 

 

Two men seem to be a big disappointment to May Lindsay. Will her Christian faith hold strong in these troubles? Was she right in the decision she made before leaving home?

 

Mrs. O. F. Walton was a prolific writer in the late 1800s, and this abridged edition captures all of the original writer’s insight into what makes a memorable story. With occasional modern line drawings.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-1-9

 

 

In His Steps

Charles M. Sheldon

Abridged Edition

 

This new abridged edition of a classic story that has sold over an estimated 30 million copies, contains Charles Sheldon’s original writing, with some passages sensitively abridged to allow his powerful story to come through for today’s readers. Nothing in the storyline has been changed.

A homeless man staggers into a wealthy church and upsets the congregation. A week later he is dead. This causes the Rev. Henry Maxwell to issue a startling challenge to his congregation and to himself -- whatever you do in life over the next twelve months, ask yourself this question before making any decision: "What would Jesus do?"

The local newspaper editor, a novelist, a wealthy young woman who has inherited a million dollars, her friend who has been offered a professional singing career, the superintendent of the railroad workshops, a leading city merchant and others take up the challenge. But how will it all work out when things don’t go as expected?

A bishop gives up his comfortable lifestyle -- and finds his life threatened in the city slums. The story is timeless. A great read, and a challenge to every Christian today.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9927642-9-6

Also available in paperback 254 pages 5.5 × 8.5 inches

Paperback ISBN 13: 978-19350791-8-7

 

 

A Previously Unpublished Book

Locked Door Shuttered Windows

A Novel by J Stafford Wright

 

What is inside the fascinating house with the locked door and the shuttered windows? Satan wants an experiment. God allows it. John is caught up in the plan as Satan’s human representative. The experiment? To demonstrate that there can be peace in the world if God allows Satan to run things in his own way. A group of people gather together in an idyllic village run by Satan, with no reference to God, and no belief in him.

J Stafford Wright has written this startling and gripping account of what happens when God stands back and Satan steps forward. All seems to go well for the people who volunteer to take part. And no Christians allowed!

John Longstone lost his faith when teaching at a theological college. Lost it for good -- or so he thinks. And then he meets Kathleen who never had a faith. As the holes start to appear in Satan’s scheme for peace, they wonder if they should help or hinder the plans which seem to have so many benefits for humanity.

 

eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9932760-3-3

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9927642-4-1

206 pages 5.25 × 8.0 inches

Available from bookstores and major internet sellers

 

 

When it Was Dark

Guy Thorne

Abridged Edition

 

What would happen to the Christian faith if it could be proved beyond all doubt that Jesus did not rise from the dead? This is the situation when, at the end of the nineteenth century, eminent archaeologists working outside Jerusalem discover a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea, with an inscription claiming that he took the body of Jesus from the first tomb and hid it. And there are even remains of a body. So no resurrection!

As churches quickly empty, some Christians cling to hope, saying that Jesus lives within them, so He must be the Son of God who rose from the dead. Others are relieved that they no longer have to believe and go to church. Society starts to break down.

With the backing of a wealthy industrialist, a young curate puts together a small team to investigate the involvement of a powerful atheist in the discovery. This is an abridged edition of a novel first published in 1903.

Guy Thorne was the English author of many thrillers in the early twentieth century, and this book was not intended specifically for the Christian market. It contains adult references in places, but no swearing or offensive language. Although it was written from a high church Anglican viewpoint, the author is positive about the various branches of the Christian faith, finding strengths and weaknesses in individual church and chapel members as their beliefs are threatened by the discovery in Jerusalem. White Tree Publishing believes this book will be a great and positive challenge to Christians today as we examine the reality of our faith.

 

White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition

Published jointly with North View Publishing

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9954549-0-3

 

 

Silverbeach Manor

Margaret S. Haycraft

Abridged edition

 

Pansy is an orphan who is cared for by her aunt, Temperance Piper, who keeps the village post office and store. One day Pansy meets wealthy Mrs. Adair who offers to take her under her wing and give her a life of wealth in high society that she could never dream of, on condition Pansy never revisits her past life. When they first meet, Mrs. Adair says about Pansy’s clothes, “The style is a little out of date, but it is good enough for the country. I should like to see you in a really well-made dress. It would be quite a new sensation for you, if you really belong to these wilds. I have a crimson and gold tea gown that would suit you delightfully, and make you quite a treasure for an artist.” This is a story of rags to riches to … well, to a life where nothing is straightforward. First published in 1891.

 

White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9935005-4-1

 

 

Gildas Haven

Margaret S. Haycraft

Abridged edition

 

For several years in the peaceful English village of Meadthorpe, the church and chapel have existed in an uneasy peace while the rector and the chapel minister are distracted by poor health. Now a young curate arrives at St Simeon’s, bringing high church ritual and ways of worship. Gildas Haven, the daughter of the chapel minister is furious to discover the curate is enticing her Sunday school children away. The curate insists that his Church ways are right, and Gildas who has only known chapel worship says the opposite.

Battle lines are quickly drawn by leaders and congregations. Mary Haycraft writes with light humour and surprising insight in what could be a controversial story line. With at least one major surprise, the author seems to be digging an impossible hole for herself as the story progresses. The ending of this sensitively told romance is likely to come as a surprise.

 

White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9935005-7-2

 

 

Amaranth’s Garden

Margaret S. Haycraft

Abridged edition

 

“It seems, Miss, your father drew out that money yesterday, and took it all out in gold. The Rector happened to be in the Bank at the time, but was on his way to town, and could not stop to talk to your father just then, though he wondered to hear him say he had come to draw out everything, as treasurer of the fund.” Amaranth Glyn’s comfortable life comes to an end when the church funds disappear. Her father, the church treasurer who drew out the money, is also missing, to be followed shortly by her mother. The disgrace this brings on the family means Amaranth’s marriage plans are cancelled. Amaranth is a competent artist and moves away with her young brother to try to earn a living. There are rumours that her parents are in France and even in Peru. Caring for her sick brother, Amaranth wants life to be as it was before the financial scandal forced her to leave her family home and the garden she loved.

 

White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9935005-6-5

Coming August 2017

 

 

Rose Capel’s Sacrifice

 

Margaret Haycraft

 

White Tree Publishing Edition

 

Rose and Maurice Capel find themselves living in poverty through no fault of their own, and their daughter Gwen is dangerously ill and in need of a doctor and medicine, which they cannot possibly afford. There seems to be only one option -- to offer their daughter to Maurice Capel's unmarried sister, Dorothy, living in the beautiful Welsh countryside, and be left with nothing more than memories of Gwen. Dorothy has inherited her father's fortune and cut herself off from the family. Although Gwen would be well cared for, if she got better and Rose and Maurice's finances improved, would they be able to ask for Gwen to be returned? Another story from popular Victorian writer Margaret S. Haycraft.

 

White Tree Publishing Abridged Edition

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9954549-3-4

eBook coming late 2017

 

 

Una’s Marriage

 

Margaret Haycraft

 

Una Latreille inherits the St Pensart’s estate which has been in the family since the Norman Conquest. Unfortunately the estate is now bankrupt, and although still in mourning, Una’s only hope of living in the style to which she has been accustomed is to marry a wealthy man, and quickly. Several suitors have disappeared after learning of the debts, and the one man who still expresses any interest in Una is Keith Broughton. He started work as a mill hand, and is now the young and wealthy owner of a large woollen mill. But how can she possibly marry so far beneath her class? Reluctantly, Una agrees to marriage on condition that there is no physical contact between them, and certainly no honeymoon! She also insists that she will never, ever suffer the indignity of meeting anyone in his family, or put one foot inside the door of his mill. This book was first published in 1898 by SW Partridge and Co, publishers of both Christian and secular books. Although there is no openly Christian message in this story, unlike the majority of Margaret Haycraft’s books, it deals sensitively with the true nature of love -- as well as being an extremely readable story.

 

White Tree Publishing Edition

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9957594-5-9

eBook coming late 2017

 

 

Miss Elizabeth’s Niece

 

Margaret Haycraft

 

“You have scandalised your name and ours, and the only thing to do is to make the best of it, and teach Maisie at least the first principles of ladylike conduct.” Trevor Stratheyre, from a wealthy and aristocratic English family, impulsively marries Maisie, a servant girl he meets while touring the Continent. Maisie’s mother had died at an Italian inn, leaving three-year-old Maisie to be brought up by the landlord and his wife. She now helps as a maid at the inn and cares for the animals. Maisie is charming and affectionate, but when Trevor brings her back to Stratheyre in England as his bride, to the large estate he is expecting to inherit, it is clear that Maisie’s ways are not those of the upper classes. When she tells titled guests at dinner that she was once herding some cows home and one was struck by lightning, trouble is bound to follow.

White Tree Publishing Edition

 

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9957594-7-3

 

eBook planned late 2017

 

 

A Daughter of the King

 

Mrs. Philip Barnes

 

There are the usual misunderstandings in the small village of Royden, but one year they combine to cause serious friction. An elderly lady, the embodiment of kindness, is turned out of her favourite pew by the new vicar. Young and old residents start to view each other with suspicion when a banished husband returns, allegedly to harm his wife and children as he did once before. Both Mary Grey and Elsa Knott want to marry young Gordon Pyne, who lives in the White House, but Gordon is suddenly accused of his father’s murder. This is a very readable romance from 1909, with many twists and turns. It has been lightly abridged and edited. A story in the style of those by White Tree Publishing’s most popular author, Margaret S. Haycraft.

 

White Tree Publishing Edition

eBook only

ISBN: 978-0-9957594-8-0

 

Books for Younger Readers

(and older readers too!)

 

 

The Merlin Adventure

Chris Wright

The day Daniel Talbot brought home a stuffed duck in a glass case, everyone thought he’d gone out of his mind. Even he had his doubts at times. “Fancy spending your money on that,” his mother scolded him. “You needn’t think it’s coming into this house, because it isn’t!”

 

When Daniel, Emma, Charlie and Julia, the Four Merlins, set out to sail their model paddle steamer on the old canal, strange and dangerous things start to happen. Then Daniel and Julia make a discovery they want to share with the others.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-2-7

 

Paperback ISBN: 9785-203447-7-5

5×8 inches 182 pages

Available from major internet stores

 

 

The Hijack Adventure

Chris Wright

 

Anna’s mother has opened a transport café, but why do the truck drivers avoid stopping there? An accident in the road outside brings Anna a new friend, Matthew. When they get trapped in a broken down truck with Matthew’s dog, Chip, their adventure begins.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-6-5

 

Available now in paperback

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5203448-0-5

5×8 inches 140 pages

Available from major internet stores

 

 

The Seventeen Steps Adventure

Chris Wright

 

When Ryan’s American cousin, Natalie, comes to stay with him in England, a film from their Gran’s old camera holds some surprise photographs, and they discover there’s more to photography than taking selfies! But where are the Seventeen Steps, and has a robbery been planned to take place there?

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-7-2

 

Available now in paperback

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5203448-6-7

5×8 inches 132 pages

Available from major internet stores

 

 

The Two Jays Adventure

Chris Wright

 

James and Jessica, the Two Jays, are on holiday in the West Country in England where they set out to make some exciting discoveries. Have they found the true site of an ancient holy well? Is the water in it dangerous? Why does an angry man with a bicycle tell them to keep away from the deserted stone quarry?

 

A serious accident on the hillside has unexpected consequences, and an old Latin document may contain a secret that's connected to the two strange stone heads in the village church -- if James and Jessica can solve the puzzle. An adventure awaits!

 

eBook ISBN: eBook ISBN: 978-0-9954549-8-9

 

Available now in paperback

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5203448-8-1

5×8 inches 196 pages

Available from major internet stores

 

eBook and paperback

coming summer 2017

 

 

The Dark Tunnel Adventure

The Second Two Jays Story

Chris Wright

 

James and Jessica, the Two Jays, are on holiday in the Derbyshire Peak District in England, staying near Dakedale Manor, which has been completely destroyed in a fire. Did young Sam Stirling burn his family home down? Miss Parkin, the housekeeper, says he did, and she can prove it. Sam says he didn’t, and he can’t prove it. But Sam has gone missing. James and Jessica believe the truth lies behind one of the old iron doors inside the disused railway tunnel.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-0-4

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-1-5206386-3-8

5×8 inches

Available from major internet stores

 

 

eBook and paperback coming late 2017

 

 

The Cliff Edge Adventure

The Third Two Jays Story

Chris Wright

 

James and Jessica's Aunt Judy lives in a lonely guest house perched on top of a crumbling cliff on the west coast of Wales. She is moving out with her dog for her own safety, because she has been warned that the waves from the next big storm could bring down a large part of the cliff -- and her house with it. Cousins James and Jessica, the Two Jays, are helping her sort through her possessions, and they find an old papyrus page they think could be from an ancient copy of one of the Gospels. Two people are extremely interested in having it, but can either of them be trusted? James and Jessica are alone in the house. It's dark, the electricity is off, and the worst storm in living memory is already battering the coast. Is there someone downstairs?

 

eBook and paperback coming late 2017

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9957594-4-2

 

Paperback ISBN: 9781-5-211370-3-1

$5.99 £4.95

 

 

Mary Jones and Her Bible

An Adventure Book

Chris Wright

The true story of Mary Jones’s and her Bible

with a clear Christian message and optional puzzles

(Some are easy, some tricky, and some amusing)

 

Mary Jones saved for six years to buy a Bible of her own. In 1800, when she was 15, she thought she had saved enough, so she walked barefoot for 26 miles (more than 40km) over a mountain pass and through deep valleys in Wales to get one. That’s when she discovered there were none for sale!

You can travel with Mary Jones today in this book by following clues, or just reading the story. Either way, you will get to Bala where Mary went, and if you’re really quick you may be able to discover a Bible just like Mary’s in the market!

The true story of Mary Jones has captured the imagination for more than 200 years. For this book, Chris Wright has looked into the old records and discovered even more of the story, which is now in this unforgettable account of Mary Jones and her Bible. Solving puzzles is part of the fun, but the whole story is in here to read and enjoy whether you try the puzzles or not. Just turn the page, and the adventure continues. It’s time to get on the trail of Mary Jones!

 

eBook ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-9933941-5-7

 

Paperback ISBN 978-0-9525956-2-5

5.5 × 8.5 inches

156 pages of story, photographs, line drawings and puzzles

 

 

Pilgrim’s Progress

An Adventure Book

Chris Wright

 

Travel with young Christian as he sets out on a difficult and perilous journey to find the King. Solve the puzzles and riddles along the way, and help Christian reach the Celestial City. Then travel with his friend Christiana. She has four young brothers who can sometimes be a bit of a problem.

Be warned, you will meet giants and lions -- and even dragons! There are people who don't want Christian and Christiana to reach the city of the King and his Son. But not everyone is an enemy. There are plenty of friendly people. It's just a matter of finding them.

Are you prepared to help? Are you sure? The journey can be very dangerous! As with our book Mary Jones and Her Bible, you can enjoy the story even if you don’t want to try the puzzles.

 

 

This is a simplified and abridged version of [_ Pilgrim's Progress -- Special Edition ], containing illustrations and a mix of puzzles. The suggested reading age is up to perhaps ten. Older readers will find the same story told in much greater detail in [ Pilgrim's Progress -- Special Edition _] on the next page.

 

eBook ISBN 13: 978-0-9933941-6-4

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-6-3

5.5 × 8.5 inches 174 pages £6.95

Available from major internet stores

 

 

Pilgrim’s Progress

Special Edition

Chris Wright

 

This book for all ages is a great choice for young readers, as well as for families, Sunday school teachers, and anyone who wants to read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in a clear form.

All the old favourites are here: Christian, Christiana, the Wicket Gate, Interpreter, Hill Difficulty with the lions, the four sisters at the House Beautiful, Vanity Fair, Giant Despair, Faithful and Talkative -- and, of course, Greatheart. The list is almost endless.

The first part of the story is told by Christian himself, as he leaves the City of Destruction to reach the Celestial City, and becomes trapped in the Slough of Despond near the Wicket Gate. On his journey he will encounter lions, giants, and a creature called the Destroyer.

Christiana follows along later, and tells her own story in the second part. Not only does Christiana have to cope with her four young brothers, she worries about whether her clothes are good enough for meeting the King. Will she find the dangers in Vanity Fair that Christian found? Will she be caught by Giant Despair and imprisoned in Doubting Castle? What about the dragon with seven heads?

It’s a dangerous journey, but Christian and Christiana both know that the King’s Son is with them, helping them through the most difficult parts until they reach the Land of Beulah, and see the Celestial City on the other side of the Dark River. This is a story you will remember for ever, and it’s about a journey you can make for yourself.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-8-8

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-7-0

5.5 × 8.5 inches 278 pages

Available from major internet stores

 

 

Zephan and the Vision

Chris Wright

 

An exciting story about the adventures of two angels who seem to know almost nothing -- until they have a vision!

Two ordinary angels are caring for the distant Planet Eltor, and they are about to get a big shock -- they are due to take a trip to Planet Earth! This is Zephan's story of the vision he is given before being allowed to travel with Talora, his companion angel, to help two young people fight against the enemy.

Arriving on Earth, they discover that everyone lives in a small castle. Some castles are strong and built in good positions, while others appear weak and open to attack. But it seems that the best-looking castles are not always the most secure.

Meet Castle Nadia and Castle Max, the two castles that Zephan and Talora have to defend. And meet the nasty creatures who have built shelters for themselves around the back of these castles. And worst of all, meet the shadow angels who live in a cave on Shadow Hill. This is a story about the forces of good and the forces of evil. Who will win the battle for Castle Nadia?

The events in this story are based very loosely on John Bunyan’s allegory The Holy War.

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9932760-6-4

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-9-4

5.5 × 8.5 inches 216 pages

Available from major internet stores

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Agathos, The Rocky Island,

And Other Stories

Chris Wright

 

Once upon a time there were two favourite books for Sunday reading: Parables from Nature and Agathos and The Rocky Island.

These books contained short stories, usually with a hidden meaning. In this illustrated book is a selection of the very best of these stories, carefully retold to preserve the feel of the originals, coupled with ease of reading and understanding for today’s readers.

Discover the king who sent his servants to trade in a foreign city. The butterfly who thought her eggs would hatch into baby butterflies, and the two boys who decided to explore the forbidden land beyond the castle boundary. The spider that kept being blown in the wind, the soldier who had to fight a dragon, the four children who had to find their way through a dark and dangerous forest. These are just six of the nine stories in this collection. Oh, and there’s also one about a rocky island!

This is a book for a young person to read alone, a family or parent to read aloud, Sunday school teachers to read to the class, and even for grownups who want to dip into the fascinating stories of the past all by themselves. Can you discover the hidden meanings? You don’t have to wait until Sunday before starting!

 

eBook ISBN: 978-0-9927642-7-2

 

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9525956-8-7

5.5 × 8.5 inches 148 pages £5.95

Available from major internet stores

 

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Don’t forget to check our website www.whitetreepublishing.com for the latest books, and updates on availability

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Return to Table of Contents

 


Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends

Samuel, Mephibosheth, and a woman on death row -- people telling of our Savior’s love. A chicken, a dinosaur, and a tarantula -- just a few props to show how we can serve God and our neighbors. Peanut butter, pinto beans and grandmother’s chow-chow -- merely tools to help share the Bread of Life. These are just a few of the characters in Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends. It is Marty’s desire to bring the hymns out of their sometimes formal, Sunday best stuffy setting and into our Monday through Friday lives. At the same time, she presents a light object lesson and appropriate Scripture passage. This is done with the format of a devotion book, yet it has a light tone and style. From Ebenezer to Willie, Marty’s characters can scarcely be contained within the pages of this whimsical yet insightful volume.

  • ISBN: 9780995759411
  • Author: White Tree Publishing
  • Published: 2017-06-26 23:06:39
  • Words: 51364
Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends Ebenezer and Ninety-Eight Friends