Monday, October 15, 2018

An Anniversary

This is an anniversary week for us. It was this week, back in 1988, that all our belongings were loaded on a truck and we moved to the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. That was a life-changing experience in so many ways. At this time every year I find myself remembering and giving thanks for that experience. That was our first time to be living outside of South Carolina, and we were excited and apprehensive all at the same time.

Life changed for us that week in so many ways. Certainly we were leaving our comfort zone! Life in the Rocky Mountain West is very different from life in the Midlands of South Carolina. Different climate. Different foods. Adjusting to a different time zone and to altitude. Learning our way around a new city. Lots of changes in our lives. It was culture shock for sure!

That first move to a location outside South Carolina was followed by many more, but that move to Denver was definitely a turning point in our lives.

One of my favorite things about that time in Colorado is one of the reasons I'm giving thanks this morning. It was there, at University Hills Baptist Church in Denver, that I attended my first Precept Upon Precept Bible study. My neighbor Connie invited me to go to Bible study with her. I accepted the invitation, not quite sure what I was getting myself in to. I had heard of Precept Bible studies, but had never attended one, although I had been a regular participant in Bible studies at our church in South Carolina for many years.

That invitation was life-changing! I will forever be grateful to the Lord for putting Connie in my path, and forever grateful to Connie for that invitation.

The group was already in the middle of their study.  They were studying Covenant.  At first I was lost as a goose!  Key words and colored pencils and observation worksheets. What in the world! All of those things were new to me, but I quickly grasped the method and dug in. My life was forever changed by that experience.  Not only did I learn great truths about our Covenant-keeping God and His covenant relationship with us, but I learned how to study the Bible. And knowing that has made such a difference in my life!

In the years since then we have moved a number of times. When we left Colorado, we moved to Connecticut where there was no Precept Bible Study available, so I took Precept Leader Training and then began Precept Bible Studies in our local church. Since that time I've been privileged to lead a number of Precept studies and to teach a number of women how to study the Bible.

All because we moved to Colorado and all because Connie invited me to go to Bible study with her.

Today I'm thankful for Connie. A few years after we met, Connie and her family moved up to Wyoming and we lost touch. (This was before we had the internet and social media!)  If I could see her today, I would thank her in person!

I'm thankful for Precept Ministries International. Thankful for their commitment to establish God's people in God's Word. 

And I'm thankful for Kay Arthur. For her teaching ministry, begun so many years ago around her kitchen table.  Thankful for the way she has mentored me from afar, teaching me the truths of the Word, but also teaching me how to study and how to teach.

I'm thankful for the Bible studies that I've participated in and been privileged to lead.  Thankful for the joy of digging deep into God's Word. Thankful for the life-changing truths I have learned.

And I'm thankful for the Word. Truly it has been "a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105 ESV)

I'm so thankful today. Thankful that, in His sovereignty, God uprooted us and replanted us in Colorado. Thankful for the experiences there which changed my life.  And I'm praying that I will be faithful to live according to what I have learned and faithful to teach others to do the same.

"Oh how I love your law!  It is my meditation all the day." (Psalm 119:97 ESV)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Now Is The Time.

Back in the day, before computers and I-pads and smart phones, we had typewriters.  And if, like I am, you are old enough to have actually used such a device, and if you ever took a typing class, then you likely also remember this sentence: Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country. That sentence was often used to test speed and accuracy on the dreaded typing test.

Typing tests aside, there's a message for us in that sentence. Our country is in a mess. We are broken and we need to be fixed. And now is the time.

What is the solution? How do we fix this mess?

I submit to you that the solution is not found in the Congress. Not in the White House or the State House. Not in the Democrat party or the Republican party. It is not found with the Libertarians or the Tea Party or the Green Party or in any other political institution.

The solution to our problems is the same as it has always been. It is found in these words that the Lord spoke to Solomon:

"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  (2 Chronicles 7:14 ESV)

And now is the time.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Simply Trusting

This has been a rough week. Hurricane Michael made quite an impact. Even here in the Carolinas, then Tropical Storm Michael dumped a lot of rain in places that had not yet begun to recover from Hurricane Florence. As a result, times are tough right now for a lot of people. If you aren't one of those in the middle of a tough time, you probably know someone who is.

People are worried and stressed and fearful and feeling uncertain. About all sorts of things. There's the aftermath of the hurricanes. There's politics, which seems to have become a contact spot. We are wondering what is happening to our country, and we are fearful for the future.

People are dealing with health issues of various kinds. A bad diagnosis. Facing tests and feeling uncertain about what the diagnosis will be. Trying to navigate insurance challenges.

There's unemployment. And underemployment. And nervousness about just how long the job will last. And will it be long enough. Wondering when the next round of lay-offs will come. Worry that the job won't last until retirement. Concern that when retirement comes, there won't be enough money.

There are bills to pay. And too much month at the end of the money.

There are broken relationships. There's stress and anger and frustration.

How do we deal with it all? How do we get through the tough times without falling completely apart?

We adjust our focus. Instead of fixing our attention on the circumstances, we fix our attention in a different direction. Look up. 

"Fixing our eyes on Jesus....." (Hebrews 12:2 NASB)

We remember. Remember who God is. Call to mind the aspects of His character. Make a list of all the times and all the ways He has come to your aid, all the blessings He has showered on you. Remember how He has never forsaken you. 

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."  (Psalm 103:2 ESV)

We trust. We fix our eyes on Jesus. We remember who He is and we remember all He has done. And we trust that He will continue to do that.

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  (Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

No matter what the circumstances of your life are today, no matter how stressed or upset or worried you might be, rest today in confident assurance that God is in control. Nothing about your situation comes as a surprise to Him. He knows. He cares. And He's got it all under control. 

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."  (Romans 8:28 ESV)

 

 "Simply trusting ev'ry day, Trusting through a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small, Trusting Jesus, that is all.
Trusting as the moments fly, Trusting as the days go by;
Trusting Him whate'er befall, Trusting Jesus, that is all."
 
(Trusting Jesus - words, Edgar Page Stites; music, Ira Sankey)


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Thankful Tuesday. Pausing to Ponder.



"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." (Philippians 4:4 NASB)

I came across this very familiar verse a few days ago in my daily Bible reading time, and it hasn't let go of me since. It's a verse I think about often. One I have written about often. One I ponder often. It's a timely verse for all seasons of life.

Rejoice in the Lord.

Rejoice always.

Always. That's a powerful word. An all-encompassing word. A pretty direct word.

Think about it. Ponder exactly what it means.

Rejoice always.

Rejoice when you are sick, and rejoice when you are healthier.

Rejoice when you have cancer, and rejoice when you don't.

Rejoice when you have had a stroke, and rejoice when you haven't.

Rejoice when everything in your life is going wonderfully well, and rejoice when it isn't.

Rejoice always.

Rejoice. 

"For the joy of the Lord is your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10 NASB)

Rejoicing in the Lord is not about circumstances.

Rejoicing in the Lord is about knowing who the Lord is, knowing His character and His ways.

It's knowing the truth, and placing confidence and trust in that truth.

Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6 NASB)

Jesus said, "And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (John 8:32 NASB)

When we know truth - when we know THE TRUTH - we are set free to rejoice always. In every circumstance.

Because joy doesn't come from circumstances. Joy comes from Jesus.

Circumstances are just circumstances. Stuff happens. Life doesn't always go our way. It isn't always pretty. Or easy. Nor was it ever promised to be.

But, when we remain grounded in the truth of who Jesus is, when we stay centered therethen we can have joy in every circumstance and in every situation. In the good times. In the bad times. And in all the in-between times.

Not silly-smile happiness all the time. But deep down joy, in the core of our being. Because we know truth. Because we know The Truth. Because our joy and our confidence and our strength are in Him.

Pause to ponder that truth today! And rejoice!

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice." (Philippians 4:4 NASB)

Monday, October 8, 2018

One Gracious Blessing After Another


"From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:16 NIV)

This verse has grabbed my attention this morning. I've come across it in several different contexts already today, so it must be something I need to pay attention to!

Depending on which translation of the Bible you read, the verse might be rendered a little differently. Grace upon grace. Blessing upon blessing. One gracious blessing after another. I especially like that last one, from the New Living Translation. One gracious blessing after another.

That's so true, isn't it? We are showered daily with blessings from God. One gracious blessing after another.

Too often we fix our attention on the less-than-we-would-like-them-to-be situations in our lives. On the bills we're having trouble paying or the pounds we can't seem to lose or the illness or the frustration. That list could go on and on, because we all have "stuff" in life that fits the less-than-we-would-like category. Each of us faces challenges in our lives. Not all of us face the same challenges, but there are challenges for each of us.

Equally true, we are all showered daily with one gracious blessing after another, if we only took the time to notice.

Friendship. Family. Laughter. Sunshine. Rain. The smell of freshly mown grass. The companionship of a pet. Coffee. Good books. Good conversation. Good food. Good neighbors. Time spent with a special friend. The list could go on and on.

One gracious blessing after another.

How about you? Where are you focusing your attention today? On the less-than-you-would-like-it-to-be situations in your life, or on all those gracious blessings?

Something to think about.

"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.  Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits."  (Psalm 103:1-2)

Friday, October 5, 2018

Are You Ready?

We ask that question a lot, don't we? Are you ready?

Around here, that question gets asked every Sunday morning. Are you ready? Once we both say yes, then we head out to church. In fact, the same question is asked every time we are going anywhere!

One of my sons often texts that question to me on game days. Are you ready for some football? Then the texts continue as we are both watch our favorite team (Go Gamecocks!) and share commentary as the game progresses.

During election season, we find ourselves often asking Are you ready? And most often the question ends with the phrase for this to be over, as we have grown weary of the rancor and bitterness that seems so much a part of the election cycle, and more so with each election.

We ask Are you ready? about all sorts of things. Appointments. Activities. Football games. Parties. All the activities of life. It's important to be prepared - to be ready - for these things.

But the question must also be asked regarding an event yet to come, the most important of all events. It's an important question about an important event. And making preparation today will mean you are ready tomorrow, or the next day, or whenever this event occurs.

"Why do you stand looking up into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come again in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11 NASB, emphasis mine)

Jesus is coming again. Are you ready?

 
Jesus is coming to earth again;
What if it were today?
 
(from the hymn "What If It Were Today?"; words and music by Lelia N. Moris)

Monday, October 1, 2018

The Gift of October


I say this every year when October rolls around - October is a gift. And my first post every October seems to follow this theme, so here we go again!

A few years ago, I took this photo while standing in our driveway. We don't live in the mountains anymore, and there isn't this much color yet on leaves where we live now here in the Upstate of South Carolina. But colors like this are part of the reason I love October! Perhaps it's the same for you as well.

October is the month of red and gold and orange leaves.

Of pumpkins and apples.

Of fall festivals.

Of cool mornings and warm afternoons.

Of leaves falling.


For those who live here in the South, October is a welcome respite from the extreme heat we experienced all summer, and even through September.

For those who live further north, October extends the beauty of summer a little longer before the winter months of snow and ice and extreme cold.

October is a gift! Let's enjoy every moment of it, and give thanks to the Giver of all things for such a wonderful gift as October!

 
"I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers." - from Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery


"O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever."  (Psalm 106:1 ESV)