Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blahh Humbug or Beautiful Happiness?

But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness; and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die, and said; it is enough, now, O LORD take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.  I Kings 19:4

 Elijah felt sorry for himself. After great bravery and demonstrating God's magnificent power before the people who were drawn into worshipping the false god Baal, then slaying all the false prophets, he became frightened when his life was threatened by the evil Queen Jezebel. He ran for his life and asked God to take him away.

We might think to ourselves after reading this. "Oh Elijah, how could you?"

We could never think such a thing, could we? 

The day after Christmas, I felt so blahh humbuggish. (My new term for the after Christmas blues.) It was dreary and gloomy and now that the holiday was over there was the usual letdown. Plus the fact that Christmas is forever different now with Dad's homegoing To make things worse, when my husband came home that night we got into a little argument over the stupidest thing and he went off to bed and we hadn't really resolved it. So I stewed and went to bed early myself.

The next day, it continued to be gloomy and miserable and my attitude had not changed either. I felt terrible, but started to listen a message on Psalm 139.
Oh LORD thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou dost understand my thought from afar off   (verse 1,2)
Didn't God know that I would fail in arguing with my husband on December 26th? Didn't He understand the world and all its bad news, and the gloom of the day outside? 

For there is not a word on my tongue, but lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before and laid thine hand upon me. (verses 4,5)
My despair started to lighten when I thought about how much He loves me, right here and now, not before I am sinlessly perfect but in my weakness and failure. That's what He came here for. For people who fail constantly. He came to be the perfect Person and stand in our place when God had to punish our sin.

I also thought of the greatness of His power as He knit me together in my mother's womb and created all the trillions of cells that would make my human body. (verse 13) What kind of God could plan such a wonderful machine as our human bodies?

I cannot escape from His love, no matter how I feel. Even as I age, I do not have to fear for He will still be my God then, even as He is right now.
Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs will I carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you. Isaiah 46:4 

In the message, I was reminded that He was the One who created me, who understands me better than I understand myself. And I have this gift called eternal life. Even if I feel blahh humbug, right here, right now I have eternal life through my relationship with Jesus Christ.

What more could anyone want? We watch and read stories of rich and famous people. People who have everything their heart could desire.But just like Charlie Brown said, they aren't happy.  It is not enough. It will never be enough. 

Deep down, that One who made us and knows how each one of us ticks, is the only One who will (or even can) fill our craving souls. Most men are searching for happiness and it is right there, if only they would reach for it.

"And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings,
"so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us." Acts 17:26-27

Suddenly I had this joy in my heart, a feeling of beautiful happiness. Even if the day is gray and gloomy, I have Christ, and the hope of a bright future which no man can take away from me. 

Anyone reading this post who does not yet know Jesus can have this same gift simply by receiving by faith the free gift of salvation that He stands waiting to share with you. You can start the new year of 2017 with a brand new faith and a hope that will last forever.


Saturday, December 24, 2016

Last Christmas with Dad

The winter sky last year at Dad's.

I looked through my pictures from last Christmas and was reminded that my husband and I spent the day with my parents at their home, bringing them a meal and presents. I didn't know it would be my last Christmas with my beloved father. The picture tells me otherwise. Just a quiet Christmas with the four of us there.

Mom and Dad were going to  Arizona that winter, but in early December 2015, Mom fractured her tailbone and was in extreme pain. That trip, meticulously planned out by my father, was cancelled when we heard the news. Bedrest, pain meds, and physical therapy took the place of travelling in the sunny southwest.

This winter, Dad again had carefully planned for wintering in Florida. The weekend after Thanksgiving Dad would take an Amtrak train with their car and Mom and I were to fly down the following Tuesday. That highly anticipated trip, also, was not meant to be when Dad fell while deer hunting just a few weeks before.

Instead, Dad has blazed the family trail, being the first one in our family to be at home with Jesus this Christmas. We never would have dreamed it, but it happened.

Life happens while we make our plans and dreams. God knew that my parents would not make it to Florida. Looking at last year's Christmas pictures, I have no regrets. Instead, I have happy memories of spending that last Christmas of his with him, loving him and Mom.

II Cor. 5: 1-4 says, "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven, if indeed, having been clothed, we shall not be found naked. For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened, not because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be swallowed up by life."

I want to be thoughtful, not necessarily sentimental, in thinking about Dad's absence this Christmas.  Dad is no longer groaning, but rejoicing in his new heavenly home. Dad has put on his uniform of light, never to be shrouded by darkness again. In this I can rejoice this Christmas.

I thank God for memories of happy times. I rejoice that I felt closer to Dad in these last years than ever before in my life, that I was able to be an important part of his life.

Life happens while we make our plans. If you love someone, show them now, for you never know what day, or what Christmas even, might be their last.

Thank you God, for wonderful memories of Christmas' past. Thank you for the parents you gave me, who loved me the best they could, and that one day soon, I will see them again and never have to say goodbye again.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Pour Out Your Heart

Arise, cry out in the night at the beginning of the nightwatches! Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the Lord! Lift your hands to him for the lives of your children who faint for hunger at the head of every street.

Lamentations 2:19

 My children aren't fainting from physical hunger and I thank God for it. Yet last night, I brought them before God in the wee hours of the night.

Apart from physical hunger, there's another kind of famine in our land. A famine that's destroying the generation we live in. Amos the Old Testament prophet talked about it in Amos 8:11:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the LORD.
Sleep eluded me, and I couldn't help but think about them, for the younger generation as a whole. God laid on my heart the necessity of praying for my children, and my children's children, that they might hunger and thirst for the living words of God. What blessing could be more important than to desire God's highest and best ?  The blessings come from having His Word dwelling richly within our hearts. 

 Sometimes we say, as if in despair, that the "only thing we can do is pray." How can we say that when prayer is our secret weapon, our greatest weapon, the only offensive weapon in the spiritual armor? If it does not represent much on our part, then why did the Lord allow the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18:6?  The story of bothering an unjust judge who finally relents reminds us to never give up in prayer, no matter how hopeless it seems.

Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,

 I will pray and expect to see answers coming. How futile it is to stew and worry when it accomplishes nothing. The enemy doesn't want us to pray, he wants us to throw up our hands in despair. Meanwhile, the world grows darker and more defiled, like in the days of Noah.

It is an exciting time to be alive. It is a dangerous time to be alive.  The enemy is on the prowl for anyone he can catch off guard. All we need do is give a little inch, and the enemy comes in like a flood, taking a mile. Anxiety does nothing to quell it, but persistent, believing prayer can. Our families are worth fighting for!

When I pray lately,  I might say to God, "Here I am again, Lord. Just like that persistent widow who did not stop bothering the unjust judge until he gave her justice from her enemy. But You are not unjust, You are righteous and want me to come to You. I am putting _______ before you. I am waiting to see You get  glory from this situation. I know it will be a great testimony when the answer does finally come. Cover my children and grandchildren with the precious blood of Christ and grant them repentance in any area where they may need it. Amen."

The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.(James 5:16) 

 Many are enduring extreme difficulties. We must not faint nor lose heart. Jesus is coming back  soon, and the night is always darkest before the dawn. I can almost see His rays of sunshine breaking in on this dark old world.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Mercies Each Morning

This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope. It is of the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.

Lam. 3: 21-24

These are more than just nice sounding words on a page . These are absolute truths. Every day can be a new beginning, no matter how bad we blew it the day before.

Pride is so sneaky. Sometimes I think I'm doing well. It's easy to think of others and how they might be failing in one way or another. But the Spirit pulls me up short and I realize in this thick skull of mine that I am no better than any of them. We all need God's mercies.

If I do well, it is because He helps me to avail myself of His neverending supply of mercy and grace. If I fail, He is not surprised, He  wants me to come back to Him. Could we really think that God is surprised by any of our failures when He knew every day that was appointed to us? (See Psalm 139.)

Christian, do you, or could you, really believe these gracious words?

Come to Me, all who are growing weary to the point of exhaustion, and have been loaded with burdens and are beneath their weight, and I alone will cause you to cease from your labor and take away your burdens and thus refresh you with rest. Take at once my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find cessation from labor and refreshment for your souls, for my yoke is mild and pleasant, and my load is light in weight.*
* The New Testament, An Expanded Translation by Kenneth S. Wuest, Teacher Emeritus of NT Greek, The Moody Bible Institute, 1956.

A. T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures of the New Testament, Volume 1, Kregel Publications, 2004 Revised and Updated by Wesley J. Perschbacher, says this of Christ's yoke:
Jesus promisess that we shall find his yoke greatly lightens the burden, "Easy" is a poor translation of chrestos ( χρηστός  ); Moffatt puts it "kindly."... We have no adjective that quite carries the notion of "kind and good." The yoke of Christ is useful, good and kindly (cf. Song 1:10). 
So, if you think living the Christian life is hard, think again. It was hard for Him, so it could be easy for us to receive a new start and His mercies each day. 

 Christianity isn't a list of rules but a relationship with the Living God. And He is the One who accomplishes it in us as we simply let His Word dwell richly in our hearts.

Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it. I Thessalonians 5:24

For it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Phil. 2:13
Finally, remember Jesus' gentle rebuke to Martha when she was so busy trying to serve Him. He simply said:

...Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. Luke 10: 41-42 
Jesus did everything necessary to make me good before God. He is a good and kind Master. When I fail Him, I come again to His throne of grace and receive abundant mercy.

Who His own self bare our own sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.                 (*my emphasis) I Peter 2: 24 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Giving Thanks for Dad's Legacy of Faith

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

It will be the first Thanksgiving with one less person around our family table. The patriarch, my dear father, will be sorely missed. Last night, I cried as I gazed at the stars and thought of him at home in heaven now with his Savior. I am sad for me, but am happy for him.

Yesterday, I pulled Dad’s Bible off the shelf in his office. I choked up and felt the tears come as I looked at his precious engineer’s handwriting in that Bible. It is a legacy of faith that can be passed down to the generations that follow. It was like a window into his spiritual life, the invisible part that he shared with God demonstrated by the notes and musings in his Bible. In it he made notations by Bible verses he loved, he had stuffed in the back a couple devotionals and sermon notes. My Dad had a spiritual life. He realized he was here for a purpose bigger than himself. It was the greatest gift he could ever share with us all: his wife and daughters, and our families.

Yesterday marks one month since his tragic accident. But, according to Dad, maybe it wasn’t so tragic after all. He told me we should be happy for the home-going of believers in Jesus. Maybe Dad was telling me it would be OK when he was gone just a few short weeks later. For my own encouragement and help, God put it on his heart to tell me that.

Looking through his Bible is more precious to me than looking at his woodworking pieces or his tractor ribbons. Or looking at the house he built does not compare with looking at Dad’s Bible. I know that if he could see me sitting down here in his office, he might say, “Megan, look at the Bible and ignore all the rest of the 'stuff' of this life. There is One Book, One Person that is important. Everything else is vanity and like grasping the wind.”

Dad has the secret now. He passed on from this vale of tears and would not want to come back no matter how much you paid him. He is with Jesus. Jesus, the One who makes our heart finally to rest, the One who sees all our failures and yet loves us so much.

We have to learn that we are not here for this life and what it offers. We are here for one reason, “That I may know Him…” as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:10. I love how Luke describes the apostle’s experience when they walked on the Road to Emmaus with the Risen Jesus, yet they did not know it was Jesus. They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32) Burning hearts, filled with the knowledge of the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ, that is what every soul longs for deep down. The unbeliever just tells lies to himself all his life and say that his life is full without God but deep down in their soul they know it's not true.

I wonder how precious it is now for Dad on the other side of eternity, far beyond the stars I gazed upon last night. As I have learned, all my capacity for eternity is filled only in this life. If we want to know Him here, we will know Him there. If we say, “See ya later, I want to live my own life,” He will sadly, let us live our own life. As we lose our own lives, we find what our hearts are really longing for. It is a great paradox, Jesus tells us to lose our own life. Now that sounds like a very hard and difficult thing to do. But actually, when we find out that Jesus is not a cruel taskmaster but the Lover of our soul, it is not hard. How can it be hard to walk in love? It is much harder to walk in hatred, bitterness, and un-forgiveness.

Dad would agree with all these things now. When I look at a picture of his face, how I long to see him again. But it won’t be long. When I do, there will no more goodbyes, no more tears. Just peace and fellowship around the Lord’s Table forever. What a hope we have in Jesus, and what a Redeemer too. Because He is our Redeemer,the one in whom we must trust, I will see my father’s smiling face again. When I get there, it will like I have been there all along. All our hearts are waiting for resides in that place, and it will just be a “moment,” and I will see him again.

Tomorrow, as we give thanks, I will especially give thanks to God for that.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

An Appointed Time

My late beloved father, John Murphy, on one of his beloved tractors. 1932-2016

To everything under heaven there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to be born, And a time to die.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1-2a

I have been putting off writing this post. I mean, how could I even begin to convey what a  whirlwind of a month it has been? I feel ten years older and when I look in the mirror, it seems confirmed.

A phone call, a race to the emergency room to a major trauma center, days and nights in the waiting room, listening to the doctor's rounds as the prognosis becomes grimmer and grimmer...and then, making the excruciating decision with my family that according to his wishes we should let him go and not continue to suffer. Finally, after singing, kissing, rubbing his hardworking hand I watched his chest rise one final time and not breathe out. Dad's time under heaven was over, and he was transferred to his heavenly domain.

One minute my Dad was an energetic, even vibrant 84 year old man. The next time I see him, he is telling me he is dying. I said, "Daddy, no you're not," But in my heart, I knew he was right.

In a moment our lives have been turned upside down. I had so much admiration for him and was proud to have been his daughter. His wonderful career as a Professional Engineer, all the accolades for his  pulls, and pristine antique tractor restorations suddenly became unimportant in the light of life and death.

Mom is having trouble comprehending why this happened. If only he had not insisted on going out to hunt for that deer. She tried to tell him not to go, but he went anyway. He didn't mean to fall off the tree stand or to shatter his spine and break just about every rib. Sure, he would not have gone if he knew that was going to happen.

But the Preacher of Ecclesiastes said there is a time for everything under heaven, even a time to die. No one wants to think about our future date with this event, but unless the Lord calls us up in the rapture, we each will have our own individual appointment with this time under heaven.

The most important thing was not that Dad could have avoided falling, but he had made sure that his soul was ready for that appointment, whenever it would come.

In just one single moment of time, Dad placed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, trusted that Christ had paid for his sins and that Christ was the risen and triumphant Son of God.

In that second, Dad had a heavenly hope. Sure, Dad rose from poverty to a life of ease in the life he built for us all in his successful career. But he knew that there was something beyond this life, something beyond having a comfortable life, a life in eternity with the Lord Jesus.

Once, when I was a little girl, Daddy and I talked about salvation and I knew he wanted to talk to his aging mother about his faith. His mother lived far away in a nursing home in Iowa. He stopped there on the way home from a business trip. That night, as we sat on our old red couch together, he suddenly trembled, with tears welling up in his blue eyes and said, "Megan, we shared words about God," and broke down crying. I never felt closer to him in all my life at that point than I did at that moment.  I'd never saw him cry before, my world travelling father with such a demanding career.  I started to cry too as we hugged each other, realizing this life is only a temporary stop on our way to a permanent home in the heavenlies with our Savior. 

He realized what was really important in life. As time wore on, Dad became more and more outspoken in his prayers and sharing with others. In retirement years, he and my Mom started each day with devotions and prayers and he donated generously to the Gideons, knowing the great importance of sharing God's Word with a lost and dying world.

I know that nothing, nothing, would make my Dad happier than knowing even one person would also come to believe in Christ as their Savior as a result of hearing this sad, but hopeful story. Though it was my dear father's own appointed time, if the story of God's free gift of salvation is shouted forth to the world, he and the angels will rejoice.

Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24*

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him who is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take of the water of life freely. Revelation 22:17*

(*emphasis mine) 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cosmic Loneliness

"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly... because the creation itself also wil be delivered from bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now."   Romans 8:19-22

The other night I was tossing and turning in bed. I spent the evening scanning the internet for news of the upcoming election and then did some reading which was secular as well. It was a novel that had me thinking how lonely the pursuit of riches really is. As I laid there, I realized things that thrill the world only serve to make me "cosmically lonely." I felt a check in my spirit. I couldn''t go off to sleep that way.

There is a constant battle being waged. Two voices vie for their right to be heard, so to speak, in my little old head. One says, "Come on, can't you just chill and relax and enjoy life. Do you have to be thinking about Him all the time?" The other voice says, "If any man would go after Him, let him say no to himself" (paraphrase of Mark 8:34). I can't forget that verse, even though sometimes I want to.

The days are short. Christ could come back at any time. There is a special reward for those who are "loving His appearing." II Timothy 4:8 But what does it mean to "love His appearing."

The three words are agapao, autos, epiphania that make up the phrase "love His appearing." The meaning of love (agapao) in that verse means: "to welcome with desire, long for." The word autos is translated "his," meaning Christ, in this verse. The word for appearing is "a manifestation,  ie, specially the advent of Christ (past or future), appearing, brightness."

(definitions derived from: )

If I get too comfortable with my life the way it is I will not be longing for Him. If I do not take in the Word daily I will not grow in my awesome respect for Him. When He appears, one of two things can happen: I will either love His appearing or I will shrink back in shame. There is no wiggle room there for a happy medium in between.

It is not worth it then to get sidetracked by worries of this life, of trying to make a name for myself, of "grabbing all the gusto" I can get in my short stay on this planet."But if I only think about Him I will have no fun," I can hear some saying, I can hear it in my own mind. That is a lie. For:

"the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law." Gal. 5: 22-23
Think of it! No law must be legislated against the fruits of the Spirit. The very things we long for, the very things that the human heart desperately desires, are all contained in the fruits of the Holy Spirit. They are all there as we walk step by step with our Faithful Master every day.

One day He will crack the sky. I will not listen to the naysayer in my own head. He really is coming quickly, and I want to be ready. How about you? It is as simple to decide to come once again to the Great Shepherd of your soul.

"For you were as sheep going astray, but are now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls." I Peter 2: 25

Monday, October 3, 2016

Which Cup will you drink?

In a moment,in the twinkling of an eye, at the last 


I Corinthians 15:52

I got knocked down the last week or two, but I'm not out. Preparing  for a craft show, running around helping people, and lack of taking good care of myself and suddenly I found myself nearly out of commission from a cold which turned into a sinus infection which turned into an asthma flare.  I shouldn't take good health for granted.

I did some thinking between blowing my nose and sleeping on the couch. Just why am I writing anyway? Does it even make a difference? Maybe just quit while I'm ahead.

This morning, though not better, I rethought that. Current events are downright depressing, if looked at from only a secular viewpoint. Current events through my life seemed to go along as they always had but not anymore. They are reaching a point of no return.

Without Jesus, without the Bible, how could I live with what I see happening on the news every day?
I would fall apart. How do people live without Jesus?

And so that is why I write. To tell people that there still is time to believe in Jesus before the things prophesied come quickly to pass.

Most if not all people who might read this already believe in Jesus. Great! But maybe, just maybe there might be one who does not? This blog is just a little thing, but if God could use it to reach one person it would be such an awesome privilege for me.

Because, if you don't know Jesus, let me tell you, things are about to get really bad on this earth. No matter who is elected America is in grave trouble. We can't deny it anymore. Nowhere is safe: not Europe, not America, not the Middle East. All the money in the world cannot fix the problems of hatred and man's inhumanity to man.

But there is really good news in spite of this bleak picture. Jesus came and made Himself available to do something about the tragic mess we are in.  2,000 years ago, He obliterated sin that ruins everything it touches. He paid for all the sins of all mankind, even the ones of those who don't believe in Him. Why? Because He was perfect love, and He made the perfect sacrifice.

We are out of human solutions. It is time to take the only one that works: the Divine one. It cost Him everything to give it to us, but He did it willingly because He loved us all so much.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21

 Some may say that to believe the Bible is old-fashioned and doesn't keep up with modern science. I for one choose to believe it above what man's theories say. I believe it because it gives me hope for the future in heaven, a sense of destiny and especially it helps me today: wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come.       I Thessalonians 1: 10
So dear friend reading this, wherever you are, why not take the cup of salvation the Lord is offering you? Then you too will not be looking for any kind of human way to fix the problems all over this earth. Instead you will look to Jesus, and in Him you will find all that your heart is longing for, all that you will ever need. Like the Psalmist so long ago, you can also say:

I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. Psalm 116: 13
After all, I would much rather have to drink from God's cup of salvation than the cup of wrath that will be poured out on the Christ rejecting world.

Two cups, two destinies. Which one will be yours?

If you are not sure if you have a home in heaven waiting for you, you can think something like this toward God in your heart: Father, I believe that Your Son Jesus came to earth to pay for man's sins and not just all men's, but my own ones too. I want to be with You in heaven so I believe in what He did for me that day, and that You raised Him from the dead. I take the gift of salvation and new life that He alone offers me. Amen.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Precious Times...

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God     stands forever.  

Isaiah 40: 8

A wise son makes a father glad...

Proverbs 15: 20a

I am blessed to have wise sons. So very blessed. They honor us as parents. One lives far away and is treating me to an airplane ticket to visit him and his family. I can't wait.

The other lives nearby. He and his wife welcome me to events along with them so I can spend time with my grandchildren. They have a heart of compassion to realize that "Grandma time" is precious to me.

During the past week, I was able to help them at a family event, and they kept thanking me profusely.  They didn't realize it was such a joy for me, not a burden.

During some of these times, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Because these are times of unique memories. Times that flee away through my fingertips it seems. Watching the little one coo, or chatting on the phone with my grandson far away, or pushing the other one on the swing. I wish I could just compress time and keep the memory strong in my mind forever.

Today we went to the zoo, and while I was having a blast, I thought to myself when we get to heaven, days of joy like this will not be sporadic. They will be all the time. The choices will be between the best and the best. There will never be an end to the joyous times.

Oh what a day that will be. It seems that it won't be long now til we will see our blessed Savior face to face. But I thank Him also for "days of heaven on earth."

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Hotcakes with Jesus

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am."

Philippians 4:11

"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content."

I Timothy 6: 8

Sometimes I look around me and it seems like the devil whispers in my ear that I should be jealous of others. He suggests I somehow have a right to be jealous when I hear about friends' vacations, homes, successes, careers, yada, yada, yada.

I thought about that  this afternoon as I sat eating hotcakes at McDonald's by myself after church. Thankfully, I checked myself in my spirit and nipped this green monster in the bud. I thought, "Jesus is here with me as I enjoy these hotcakes."  I was blessed sitting there alone, but not really alone. Because He was there with me.

Many times I've been warned from the pulpit that if we aren't content with just what we have, just where we are, we will never be content no matter what we have, or where we are. "

We could always have something more, something we think will  really make us happy. Then we get that thing and are happy for about 10 minutes and then are just as miserable as before, if not more miserable. For we realize that once again we've been duped into thinking that something other than God alone can fill that craving in our soul.

 Sometimes I feel  I've drifted away from God by my day's end. But He hasn't left me. No matter where I am, or where I go, or even if I have really cut off my fellowship with Him through personal sin, He is still there, waiting to be all my soul requires.

Colossians 2: 10 declares:
 "in Him you have been made complete..." 
He is all I need, whether I eat lunch by myself or with the Queen of England. If I do not have the experiences others have, well, guess what, that's OK!   This isn't my final destination. I am only a stranger passing through. When I get to the other side, there will be pleasures that eye has never seen, nor ear has ever heard. (I Cor. 2:9)

"You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." Psalm 16: 11
I am so happy that this is the truth! No matter what situation we're in, if we have Christ, we have everything. If we don't have Christ, no matter what we think we have, we have nothing.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6: 19-21

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Jesus or the Nightly News?

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and   we are not saved.    Jer. 8: 20

The upcoming winter forecast sounds harsh. After all the heat and humidity, am I ready for the season to change?  One thing's for sure, it's coming whether I like it or not.

We also are facing a hot political summer in America. I've never seen anything like it. If I watched the media constantly, I'd be depressed. Thank goodness, we have no cable and only get about 3 stations.

The media is not of God and it isn't where I need to focus anyway.  The word comes from, medium, as in witchcraft. Our airways and internet are filled with half truths. Just enough truth to tickle our ears, perk our interest. I deceive myself and think it's worthwhile. 

How much did our forefathers  know? Did the colonists immediately know when we were free from the British? No, it took time for the news to spread across the land. So why do I need to tune into the headlines from around the world as if my life depended on it?

All I really need is  found in one Book. All I need to know is rooted in One Person: Jesus.  This one beautiful fact becomes  more real to me every day.
For we must never forget that He rescued us from the power of darkness, and re-established us in the kingdom of His beloved Son. For it is by His Son alone that we have been redeemed and have had our sins forgiven. Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through Him that everything was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen...In fact, every single thing was created through, and for Him...Life from nothing began through Him, and life from the dead began through Him, and He is, therefore, justly called the Lord of all. Colossians 1: 13-16 Phillips
To live separate from this reality is emptiness, dissatisfaction. To be focused on the latest insanity is to drive myself crazy. At the end of the day, when my head hits the pillow, really one thing matters. Have I gotten to know this Perfect Savior a little bit better today? If not, my day has been wasted. One day soon, there will be no more opportunities.

Thank God the verse from Jeremiah about summer being over and not being saved can be balanced with what we know of the mercy of God. If we but turn to Him, no matter how long we may have wandered from the path, He is faithful and just to forgive us, and help us start over.

I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud And your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you. Is. 44: 22

Some might say it's too radical to always be looking to Jesus. Maybe they might even think it is boring. Boring?  The truth is if you really get to know who this Jesus is, you cannot but help loving Him. He is our one constant in a world of uncertainty.

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God.   Heb. 12: 2
 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1: 21

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Radiant Christian: Ernie Frederick

They looked to Him and were radiant, and their faces were not ashamed.   ~ Psalm 34: 5

The other day I was perusing the obituary listings online. It seems more and more I am finding more and more people I know or have known from my youth are on the lists these days. I happened upon a name and it didn't ring a bell-- at first, that is. I usually don't read them unless I think I might know them but I started reading this one, and it described the person's life as being one of total service to God. Then it mentioned he worked at an organization I used to volunteer with, Youth Guidance (YGI) in Pittsburgh.

All of a sudden, I recognized his name, Ernest Frederick:

I  volunteered with YGI as a college woman, being a "big sister" to a little girl from another part of town. I took some trainings at their office and had a chance to meet Ernie, as he was called. At the time, I was struggling in my faith and having all sorts of questions. One day, I got a chance to sit down with him one on one, and he shared with me a little paper explaining how to cast my cares on God. It had a little stick figure of a man with his arms raised. He explained that we also praised and thanked God and then cast our cares and the result would be sweet peace, something the world cannot give us. As he shared, he wrote verses on it and drew little red lines going upwards to heaven from the stick figure man. All the while he radiated.

I tried with all my might to grasp what he was saying, but not just because of the paper. It was because I could clearly see Ernie lived this daily in his walk with the Lord. There was something about him that spoke louder than words of his close relationship with Jesus. How I envied his joy in the Lord, and found that I still have the paper, with its many Scripture verses. He titled it, "Overcoming Anxiety, Phillippians 4:4-9."

Years later, I visited a church nearby and in their foyer they had a booklet for the Pittsburgh Prayer Project. I saw his name on the booklet. It was for a month long prayer campaign for the city of Pittsburgh. I found it in his obituary that he went to Mount Washington (which overlooks the city) and prayed for our city for 19 years.

No one but the Lord knows the impact this man  had on our city after his faithful prayers. In Watchman Nee's book, Table in the Wilderness, Nee described a person similar to Ernie:

 His light may come to us in many ways. Some of us have known saints who really knew the Lord, and through praying with them or talking with them, in the light of God radiating from them, we have seen what we never saw before. I have met one such, who is now with the Lord, and I always think of her as a "lighted" Christian. If I did but walk in the room I was brought immediately to a sense of God.... A Table in the Wilderness,  for the date of August 24
I never talked with Ernie Frederick again after I left YGI over thirty years ago. But his impact, his radiance, I still remember clearly. It is my greatest hope that one day, people might say that by the grace of God I radiated too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What to Do in Days of Distress

Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit may be on the vines; Though the labor of the oil may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no cattle in the stalls--Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habbakkuk 3: 17-18

At a writer's meeting I attend, an older fellow who also enjoys writing memoir pieces told of how he had come to receive the Lord as his Savior. He has a great memory and distinctly remembers going to an open air crusade while in the Army back in the 1940s. When the altar call was given, he strongly felt the urge to go down and settle the matter, or take the free gift of salvation. He said he felt this prompting so strongly but he put it off.

He went to a second meeting and had another opportunity to receive salvation, but that time, the urge inside him wasn't as strong as at the first time. Finally, after he had been married and had a little child and wife with him, he attended a Billy Graham crusade, and he once again was given the opportunity. This time the urge was even less stronger. The field was huge and people were pouring down to receive Christ. Since he had his family with him, he decided this time to take the opportunity to believe on Christ right there from his seat. He stressed to us about the urge to receive Christ growing less with each time that he put it off.
The strength of the conviction of the Spirit gave less and less influence over him.  He recalled to us the verse that says that the Spirit would not strive with man forever (Genesis 6:3).

That story really gave me pause to think about how the Spirit strives with those who are still on the fence about whether they will believe that Jesus is the Christ who paid for their sins on the cross. My husband and I talked about the fellow's story and how my husband had come to Christ the first time he heard the offer of the free gift of salvation.

My husband was a young man, only 24, but not happy with the direction his life was taking. He went to a salon near his home and noticed every time he got his hair cut that there would be lots of Bible materials lying around. So one day when he felt desperate he asked the guy who cut his hair, "What is it with all of this?" Basically he knew the guy had something he did not have, and he wanted it.

Now maybe the barber did not present the gospel the same way a pastor would but he told him Jesus was calling him, and that he could have a new life with Jesus. My husband remembers the very date, 34 years ago, when he received Christ sitting in the barber chair.

I asked him what he thought might have happened if he had put it off, or just said that he would think about it for another time. Hubby said he thought he, like my old friend, would have had less and less of an urge if he  put it off.

That is why they say that young people are the easiest to reach. They hear and do not have a chance to harden their heart or a bunch of excuses. But it certainly seems that one's heart only can get harder and harder, until there reaches a point of no return.

That is sobering. Esausold his birthright in Genesis 25: 32, because he was more worried about filling his belly than what God offered him. The Bible warns in Hebrews 12: 16-17:

lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
This may be the most important blog post I ever wrote. There is darkness coming over this land, and the window of opportunity to receive Christ could suddenly be cut short. If we just look around us in our own country we can see that things are only going from bad to worse. We have extreme heat in the east, floods in the south, fires in the West and riots in the midwest. Did I hear someone say judgment?

If you are not sure of where you will spend eternity, you don't have to put it off for another minute. Jesus Christ came into human history for the precise purpose of being the great sinbearer for the sins of all mankind. He died naked on a Roman cross after living a perfect life here on earth. His unique position of being sinless qualified Him to be the sinbearer for all mankind, without exception. No matter what you have done in the past, you can receive this free gift simply by believing what God says about His Son:

For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures... I Corinthians 15: 3, 4

Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved,  and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:7-10

If you want abundant life, He is waiting for you to take it.Today is the day of salvation. All around us we see things headed downward on a greased pole. But if we take His free gift   we will be saved from ultimate destruction. I beg anyone still sitting on the fence, do not delay any longer. Receive His gift of salvation today, tomorrow may be too late.

If we are already believers, we also must be very careful how we live.

You may as well know this too, Timothy, that in the last days it is going to be very difficult to be a Christian.             
 (Living Bible Paraphrase by Kenneth Taylor, II Timothy 3:1)

 It is only getting more difficult, the deception and distractions stronger and stronger with every passing day. Our only place of safety is to abide in Christ and stay in His Word daily. Let us pour out our many concerns to Him at His throne of grace, and one day soon this day of darkness will give way to His righteous rule forever. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Just Grace for Today

...they neither toil nor spin...

For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its   appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.

James 1:11

Isn't it amazing that what we see in the natural realm also has a spiritual lesson to teach us? A fading flower reminds me that I too, will one day fade away.

That beautiful flower did nothing to make itself show the glory of God's creation, yet it does so for a season, and then dies. I am on this earth for what seems just a moment on the line of eternity.

Just why am I here? Why was I allowed to be born at this certain time in human history, when the nations are raging and even nature reveals warnings that grow only more urgent with the passing of time?

It is a scary time to be alive. It is an exciting time to be alive. It depends on how I look at it.

And yet, many people seem to realize that things cannot go on the way they have forever. Creation groans, the people groan.

"When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan."  ~ Proverbs 29: 2 
Each day I receive from God what my pastor calls "a 24 hour grace packet." He gives me just what I need for this day, even though we are in dangerous times. I do not need to worry about tomorrow, for He has not given me grace to worry about tomorrow. If I ignore that and take on tomorrow's worries anyway, I will not be able to bear it.

It has taken me well nigh most of my life to slowly learn this lesson. I thank Him for His patience with me. I used to think I had to worry about tomorrow. As if me worrying could change one thing about tomorrow anyway.

This morning I woke up after having troubling, vivid dreams. I automatically seemed to enter into self-condemnation. When I opened my Bible to John 14, I took from my Father's hand the packet He wanted to share with me for today. I have read this verse so many times before, but today it brought tears to my eyes, the love He has for someone like me.
"Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3
When I turn on the news, or log onto the web, I can plainly see that there is plenty for my heart to be troubled about. Jesus warned us through Paul that these difficult days would come. We are in them now.

I don't know what tomorrow holds.   But as I continue on in the Christian life, and gaze into the mirror of His word, I see how trustworthy He is. He really is coming again to receive me unto Himself. My anxious heart rests. I know that He is good, in spite of all I see.

I found a beautiful old Bible book at the thrift store yesterday and  thoroughly enjoyed skimming through it last night. But at the same time a nasty old fly kept dive bombing straight for my face and buzzing loudly in my ear. I couldn't help but think that the fly represents our enemy and his minions. Well, he just kept buzzing and finally he landed right on the top of my shirt. I smacked him just once. Usually, the fly  wins and  buzzes away. But this one small hit knocked him dead and he fell into the crack of the chair. I scooped him up in a wad of paper quickly and got rid of him.  I could not but help but think to myself:
"... the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen."    Romans  16:20
Jesus is coming quickly and the enemy was defeated when He shouted "Tetelestai!" (John 19:30) from the cross. That gives me the grace for whatever comes my way today.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Space between the Dash

The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For soon it is cut off, and we fly away. ~ Psalm 90: 10


There is a poem called "The Dash" written by Linda Ellis about how our lives can be reduced to a certain amount of time between two dashes, two dates on an endless stretch called eternity. The point of the poem is to challenge the reader to make the most of the "dash" they have between the two dates.

Within the space of one month, to the day, a new grandchild was born, and an elderly uncle died on the date of his parents 88th wedding anniversary. I remember Mom telling me many years ago that I "had my whole life in front of me."

No longer. I am glad to be in creeping middle age, but I do notice a change. Yet I have had millions of thoughts, and thousands of experiences by now. I've had thousands of times to get mad, thousands of times to cry, and on and on. The other day I was struck by a verse I've read many times before, just realizing what it could really mean. In fact, it was the way that the Apostle Paul signed off on most or all of his letters:

"Brethren the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen" Gal. 6:18

His grace is always available, ready instantly for me to avail myself of it. The fact is that God Almighty has favor for every situation I have to endure for the rest of my life. Spiros Zodhiates says this of the word charis, #5485 in the Greek Lexicion: 

"joy, favor, acceptance, a kindness granted or desired, a benefit, thanks, gratitude, grace. A favor done without expectation of return; absolute freeness of the lovingkindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and freeheartedness of the Giver, unearned and unmerited favor. Charis stands in direct antithesis to erga, works, the two being mutually exclusive. (page 1739 Hebrew Greek Key Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 1986.

Charis, yes THAT is available and ready at a moment's notice for the dash between my own two dates. So really, what excuse do I have for not taking it? 

Just as I wrote this, a lying thought crept in, "Oh, another blog post. Here you go again." No! His grace is with my spirit even now, in the middle of the afternoon doldrums,  in the midst of a hot July day. What excuse do I have for refusing it? What excuse do any of us have to not grab hold of charis available to be with our spirits 24/7/365?

I wrote in my journal on July 9-- "Let not today be a day of futility." Lord, help me to make the most of the dash that will be known as my life one day in the not too distant future.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Take a Pause that Refreshes...

He who testifies to these things says,
"Surely I am coming quickly."
Even so, come Lord Jesus!
John 22:20

Today I want to share a poem I wrote that reflects how I feel with all the craziness of the world, and how I only feel an escape from the insanity when I pause to take a look into God's precious Word. It is the only pause in this life that refreshes.

I live in a world where there's too many choices
Surrounded, ensnared, by too many voices
So many demanders of my attention
Yet each day I lose more of my own retention
What does the future hold, how should I live?
To whom should all of my energy give?

A time of great grief, overwhelming sorrow
And yet I have hope for that day called tomorrow
It has still not appeared what yet I shall be
But when Christ appears, His face I shall see
And with all the books, great learning, and media
We'll realize that Jesus was God's one great idea

Life as I know it will from earth disappear
My jaded pursuits be suddenly clear
"It did not matter," He whispers to me
"I was the 'one thing' that mattered truly
I alway have loved you and I was enough
You didn't need people, you didn't need stuff."

I will behold the One with eyes flame of fire
And will realize at last He was all my desire.

copyright 2016 Megan Vance