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Radiant and Alive!

Thomas Jefferson gave us this bit of wisdom:

 https://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/brevity.html

Note how the following authors demonstrate this most valuable of all talents:

  • “It is good people who make good places.”—Anna Sewell, Black Beauty
  • “Trials come to prove and improve us.”—St. Augustine
  • “Change always comes bearing gifts.”—Price Pritchett

Conciseness contributes to effectiveness, agreed?

In Romans 15:13, the Apostle Paul wrote a magnificent but concise blessing for the Christians in Rome. He brought together five key concepts of our faith—hope, joy, peace, trust, and power—in just thirty words or so, depending on the translation:

Whole books have been written to expound on each concept. But since this is a blog post, not a treatise, I’ll try to keep it short—and concise!

HOPE

Our Christian hope is not wishful thinking; it is confident reliance on the sacred certainties of our Heavenly Father.

Paul calls him our God of hope because of his glorious attributes manifested in our lives—his omnipotent power, gracious mercy, continual patience, lavish kindness, and absolute reliability—to name a few.

And with statements of faith we can bolster our hope—statements such as these:

  • “God is kind and good, wise and powerful. All his attributes are always at work for my benefit.”
  • “God is accomplishing purpose in these circumstances, just as he always does.”
  • “He will bring me through this situation, and I’ll be a better person for it.”

JOY

Joy is not the absence of all misery and the presence of every whim; joy is found in the presence of God.

Sound silly? Talk to an old saint who has walked with Jesus many years—who’s felt the Lord’s presence surrounding him, heard God’s whispers in his heart, and experienced his guidance and provision again and again. 

This saint will tell you: the pleasures of this life don’t begin to compare to the soul-delight of intimacy with God.

PEACE

Peace is not found in circumstances; it’s found in a Person, the Prince of Peace. The better we know him, the better we know peace.

Tension decreases as we affirm:

  • He is completely trustworthy.
  • He knows everything; he’s in control of everything.
  • He takes pleasure in blessing us with all that we need.
  • He is with us to comfort, strengthen, and encourage.
  • Even in the midst of difficulty, we can experience his peace. In fact, it’s a promise.

TRUST

It’s God’s part to work all things for good; it’s our part to trust.

The question becomes, What can I do to grow in trust?

The answer: express gratitude. “The foremost quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness”[1]

So thank God, even in the midst of frustration, disappointment, heartache, and pain. “There’s a good God leading, working all things into good. It is safe to trust”[2]!

POWER

The power to thrive does not come from within ourselves; it comes from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Do circumstances appear impossible to rectify? Think on the power of God. He scatters the stars in space. He breathes life into every creature. He provides everything necessary to sustain our little planet.

It’s that kind of absolute, unlimited power that will see each of us through every crisis until we’re home with him.

And so, in one concise verse Paul majestically highlights five pillars of the abundant life.

When we embrace the hope, joy, and peace that God offers, when we trust in him with expectancy and resolve, when we pray for his power to be released in and through us, our lives and outlook will become radiant and alive[3]!

Doesn’t that sound like a glorious way to live?

Scriptures for further reflection:

Hope–Psalm 145:8-9; Daniel 2:20; John 5:17; Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:28; James 1:2-4

Joy–Psalm 16:11; Psalm 71:5-8

Peace–Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 John 3:20b; Jeremiah 31:3; Philippians 4:19; Deuteronomy 31:8; Isaiah 40:29-31; Philippians 4:6-7

Trust–Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 9:10; 28:7; 112:7; Colossians 2:7; Psalm 110:4-5; 1 Peter 1:6-7

Power of the Holy Spirit–1 Corinthians 8:6; Psalm 8:3; Job 12:10; Psalm 46:1

Notes


[1] Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 24.

[2] Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts, 155.

[3] The last clause is based on Touchstone’s revised version (1995) of the J. B. Phillips’ translation for Romans 15:13.

Art & photo credits: http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.rawpixel.com; http://www.canva.com; http://www.pxhere.com.

Blessings

While my husband and I enjoy the blessed company of old friends this week, I hope you enjoy this collection of blessing-quotes. Better yet, I pray their truths expand your hope and joy!

Truth #1: God’s promised blessings are vast and far-reaching.

When the Old Testament priests blessed God’s people, they raised their arms and held their hands as far apart as possible . . .It was a demonstration. God’s promised blessings are so big, so unimaginable that the priest stretched himself out as far as he could stretch . . .to show the generous heart of our loving Father.

Jane Fryar, Be Blessed, 12-13

Truth #2: Focus increases blessing.

The more I focus on my blessings, the more blessings I notice, and the more blessings I notice, the more blessings I experience.

Unknown

Truth #3: Waiting enhances the blessing.

If God waits longer than you could wish, it is only to make the blessing doubly precious.

Andrew Murray, Waiting on God

Truth #4: Trouble often produces blessing.

God will not permit any troubles to come upon us, unless he has a specific plan by which great blessing can come out of the difficulty.

Peter Marshall

Truth #5: Loss often produces blessing.

When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.

C. S. Lewis

Truth #6: God’s best blessings aren’t material; they’re spiritual.

This Divine Lord desires only that He may rest in thy soul, and may form therein a rich throne of peace, that within thine own heart, by means of internal recollection, and with His heavenly grace thou mayest find silence in the tumult, solitude in company, light in darkness, forgetfulness in injuries, vigor in despondency, courage in alarms, resistance in temptation, peace in war, and quiet in tribulation.

Molinos

Truth #7: Blessings are best turned to praise.

Whenever you get a blessing from God, give it back to Him as a love gift. Take time to meditate before God and offer the blessing back to Him in a deliberate act of worship. If you hoard a thing for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. God will never let you hold a spiritual thing for yourself; it has to be given back to Him that He may make it a blessing to others.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, 6.

Which quote was most meaningful to you? Please tell us about it in the comment section below!

Photo credits: http://www.pxhere.com; http://www.stocksnap.io; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.pxhere.com.

Approximately 250 times in scripture we’re told to praise the Lord[ 1].

Some would see all these calls to praise as the directives of an ego-maniacal god, but that’s hardly the case. Upon further investigation of scripture we find that praise of God is actually good for us.

Isn’t that just like our Heavenly Father? We seek to bless him by offering our praises, and he turns right around and blesses us when we do.

What are those blessings of praise? I’m so glad you asked. Here are just seven as a starter-list.  You may find a surprise or two.

Praising God alleviates anxieties.  

As we remind ourselves Who’s in charge and how he provides for those in his care, fears are calmed.  (Psalm 146 offers an example).

Praising God enhances prayer.

Instead of focusing on the problem which presses us downward, praise turns our attention to what God can do and lifts our spirit upward. (See Psalm 103.)

Praising God kicks Satan to the curb.

James 4:7 reminds us, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” What better way to resist him than to focus on God’s power, promises, and past provisions?

Praise brings the consciousness of the presence of God,

and the liars from the pit cannot effectively market their wares

in the atmosphere of praise.

—Jack Taylor[2]

Praising God magnifies blessings.

When we look through a magnifying glass at an object, we often experience greater appreciation of that object. Hold a magnifying glass of praise to God for the day’s blessings and experience greater appreciation of Him and his benefits (Psalm 77:11-14).

Praising God offers comfort.

Are you disappointed? Praise God that he brings good out of every situation (Romans 8:28). Are you hurting? Celebrate God’s abundant goodness in spite of circumstances (Psalm 145:7). Are you fearful? Rejoice in God, a strong refuge in times of trouble; he is ready and willing to help (Psalm 46:1).

Praising God provides pleasure.

“Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good” encouraged one of the psalmists. “Sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant” (Psalm 135:3). Numerous times in scripture we’re urged to sing and shout for joy because of who God is and what he does. Why?

Praising God replenishes faith.

Meditate on Psalm 145 and note all the attributes of God highlighted, including: his greatness, (v. 3), the mighty acts he performs (v. 4), the splendor of his majesty (v. 5), his goodness and righteousness (v. 7).   

The more you praise God, the more you become God-conscious

and absorbed in His greatness, wisdom, faithfulness, and love.

Praise reminds you of all that God is able to do

and of great things He has already done.

Wesley L. Duewel

Add these to the list:

  • Praising God in the company of others encourages them (Colossians 3:16).
  • Praising God fine-tunes our perspective as our focus shifts from self to him (Psalm 121).
  • Praising God grows our hope, humbles our spirits, and ushers in peace (Psalm 33:18-22, Psalm 8, Psalm 62:1-2).

Surely there are still more blessings of praise to be discovered. No wonder G. K. Chesterton wrote:

  • * * * * * * * * * *

Thank you, Father, for these many blessings you lavishly supply as we learn to enjoy you through praise. May we grow each day in our capacity to celebrate you at every turn.

Did any of these blessings of praise surprise you? Tell us about it in the comment section below!


Notes:

[1] https://faithalone.org/grace-in-focus-articles/praise-the-lord/

[2] quoted in Satisfy the Thirsty Soul by Linda Dillow, 191.

Photo credits: http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pxhere.com;www.maxpixel.net; http://www.flickr.com.

Nellie Gray listened to the breaking news, not believing her ears.

How is this possible? she wondered. Surely everyone agrees that slavery was wrong, treating men, women, and children as less than human. And have we already forgotten the horrors of Nazi Germany, where revolting experiments were performed on babies?

Nellie’s thoughts transported her back to the days of World War II, when she served as a corporal in the Woman’s Army Corps. And though nearly thirty years had passed since Nazi war criminals faced a panel of judges at the Nuremberg Trials, the atrocities revealed at that time remained fresh in her mind.

Nellie bristled. How can our Supreme Court sanction another atrocity against innocent victims?

And she began to consider what might be done to reverse the decision of Roe vs. Wade, handed down on January 22, 1973.

Not long after a group from Long Island, already involved in the right-to-life movement, asked Nellie to host a meeting in her home. They desired to expand their local efforts to the national stage. “You live near the Capitol—it’s the perfect location,” the spokesperson explained.

Later Nellie would quip, “Be careful who you let into your dining room because you may wind up being the president of a corporation.”[1]

The group first met in October 1973, and someone presented the idea of a march, to be held in Washington D. C. on the first anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. They hoped to draw thousands of people, which would urge Congress to overturn the court’s decision.

Nellie was asked to arrange for speakers, because of her contacts in and around Washington as a federal lawyer. The one role she was unable to fill was emcee, so Nellie provided that function herself.

The event did raise awareness, as twenty thousand people gathered in Washington, and peacefully marched twenty-one blocks on Constitution Avenue to the steps of the Supreme Court Building.

It was supposed to be a one-time-event.

“We thought we were going to march one time and Congress would certainly pay attention to 20,000 people coming in the middle of winter to tell them to overturn Roe vs. Wade,” Nellie said.[2]

But their expectation proved erroneous. And because there were leftover funds after the ‘74 event, someone suggested holding another march the following year.

Nellie decided to retire from practicing law and established the March for Life and Education Defense Fund, dedicating the rest of her life to the pro-life cause. She and the vice-president, Terrence Scanlon, took no salaries; Nellie ran the organization from her home.

As the decades passed, support for their cause continued to grow. In recent years, well over 100,000 have participated in the March for Life, enduring the cold and even snow to draw attention to the plight of unborn babies. In 2011, fifty-three members of Congress spoke at the March for Life Rally.

Also important to the cause: neonatal research, proving fetuses develop much more rapidly than we knew in 1973. For example:

  • Within the first few weeks, the beginnings of a face become apparent.
  • The heartbeat can be heard at 6 weeks.
  • The neural tube (brain, spinal cord, and other neural tissue of the central nervous system) is well formed at 8 weeks.
  • Fingers and toes are easily distinguishable by 11 weeks.
  • Thumb-sucking has been photographed at 18 weeks.
Ultrasound of 12-week old fetus

Of course, Nellie Gray and the March for Life participants have been criticized for their stand against abortion. But she explained her position this way:

“God Almighty created man and woman in his own image, and we recognize that. The United States Constitution recognizes that human beings are endowed with a right to life. We must carry out our patriotism and our love of God through such events.”[3]

In 1998, Nellie asserted the eventual overturn of Roe vs. Wade. “I have complete, utter faith that we are going to get this,” she said.[4]

Nellie Gray led every March for Life through 2012, with undaunted enthusiasm and conviction. But in August of that year, at age 88, she died of natural causes in her home.

I’ve often wondered if good news from Earth becomes known in heaven. If so, might Nellie know what happened last week–that ten years after her arrival in heaven, a giant step has been taken here toward the right-to-life of unborn babies, that her faith is being rewarded and her conviction is becoming fact?

I’d like to think so. 

Notes    


[1]https://religionnews.com/1998/01/15/news-profile-nellie-gray-25-years-behind-the-march-for-life/

[2] https://religionnews.com/2012/08/14/march-for-life-leader-nellie-gray-dead-at-88/

[3] https://heavy.com/news/2017/01/nellie-gary-march-for-life-founder-biography-anti-abortion-pro-life-quotes-2017-date/

[4] https://religionnews.com/1998/01/15/news-profile-nellie-gray-25-years-behind-the-march-for-life/

Other Sources:

http://www.marchforlife.org

http://www.todayscatholic.org

Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.rawpixel.com; http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.canva.com.

Stuffed pork tenderloin, prepared by our son.

Our son became interested in cooking while attending university, and he’s been experimenting ever since. Now guests often say his fare is better than what many restaurants offer.

Father’s Day last Sunday was no exception. We enjoyed a sumptuous dinner off the grill: perfectly-seasoned, tender steaks; thick, golden, onion slices sprinkled with bleu cheese and slivered almonds; and polenta squares topped with lightly-sauced mushrooms.

The big surprise came skewered: Brussel sprouts alternated with radishes. I’d never eaten the latter cooked, but these were amazing—nothing like their raw flavor.

Our daughter-in-law creates memorable desserts. One time she constructed a rainbow cake—six layers of jewel-toned deliciousness under a cloud of butter cream frosting. All from scratch of course.

H.’s cake looked every bit as perfect as this one.

Now what if E. and H. invited new guests unfamiliar with the stellar meals these two can produce. And what if E. shared that the menu would include onions with bleu cheese and cooked radishes.

These unaware invitees might say, “Uh, no thanks, our schedule is really tight, plus we have other plans.” Later to themselves they’d likely comment, “E. and H. actually eat that stuff?! It sounds awful!”

But they’d miss out on a memorable meal.

God offers us gourmet cuisine too, but of a different variety.

“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it,” he says. “I would feed you with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you” (Psalm 81:10, 16).

God offers fine food for our souls, found first of all in the Bible. Some people believe the Book is out-of-touch and irrelevant, containing whole sections of unintelligible gibberish.

These folks are like those invited dinner guests, turning down a marvelous opportunity because the offerings sound unappealing. If they’d only come and try the dishes new to them, they’d be more than pleasantly surprised.

God’s soul food also includes wonderful surprises: useful wisdom, uplifting encouragement, fortifying support, and sweet comfort. We miss so much if we let a busy schedule and other interests interfere with the feeding of our souls.

A well-read Bible is a sign of a well-fed soul.

–Unknown

Just one of my father’s well-read Bibles.
Note the numerous and tiny comments he wrote in the margins.

To make time, we may have to give up something—like those long minutes on social media or watching TV. During my years as a teacher, making time meant getting up earlier than everyone else in the house. And the ten years I commuted a half-hour each way, the alarm sounded at 4:30 a.m.

But it was not a hardship; I just went to bed earlier. The feast each morning was well worth it. (For an example of one feast, you can read from an earlier post, “Down the Aisle of Your Years.” Scroll down to just below the James 1:17 image.)  

Another problem: The Bible looks like a huge buffet to some. They wonder where to start. Add all those puzzling cultural and historical references, and it’s tempting to give up before turning the first page and taking the first bite. What we may need are a few utensils.

Just like a shrimp fork or steak knife make it easier to eat those foods, certain tools help us consume God’s Word. Many are available online. For example, www.biblestudytools.com or www.studylight.org offer word definitions, cultural and historical background, commentaries, and more.

Bible study guides also help us dig into the sustenance the Bible has to offer. A few recommendations include:

  • NavPress LifeChange series, with each study focused on a book or two of the Bible. Luke is a good place to begin, with its many stories and teachings of Jesus.
  • LifeWay Press also produces worthwhile Bible studies, including an overview by Angie Smith, titled Seamless. Others I’ve enjoyed include: Believing God by Beth Moore and Discerning the Voice of God by Priscilla Shirer. You can’t go wrong with studies by these women.
  • Another LifeWay Press classic? Experiencing God by Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King. Millions of people have already benefited from this study.
  • Harper Christian Resources offers 40 Days through the Bible from Lysa Terkehurst and her team. They provide an overview by theme, including: identity, freedom, and fulfillment.

What if, when E. and H. invited dinner guests and shared what’s on the menu, I was there to add, “Oh, you’ve GOT to come. I’ve eaten at their house numerous times, and it’s always delicious!” Might they be more likely to come? Perhaps.

In the same vein, consider this post my affirmation of what God has to offer in His Word. I’m here to say, “You’ve GOT to read it, study it, digest it. I’ve dined at God’s table of truth countless times over the decades and have never been disappointed!”

What Bible study materials or methods have you found nourishing to your soul? Please share in the comment section below!

Art & photo credits: Nancy Ruegg; http://www.flickr.com (2); Nancy Ruegg; http://www.picryl.com; http://www.freebibleimages.org; http://www.canva.com.

Heavenly Backpacks

If you or a family member are among the 16 million people in the U.S. who suffer from COPD, you’ve no doubt checked into the pros and cons of oxygen tanks (unwieldy and weighing up to 20 pounds) vs. oxygen concentrators (small, and just 5 pounds or so).

These latter devices can be carried around, even in a backpack. That’s much easier than wheeling a cumbersome, heavy tank everywhere. Such an amazing invention.

Whichever device is chosen, the increased oxygen flow is life-giving to the patient, improving their quality of life and providing peace of mind.

As Christians, we carry something with us that is also life-giving—into eternity. It improves our quality of life in astounding ways, and provides such overwhelming peace of mind, it surpasses understanding.[1]

This entity is lighter than air even though it possesses the awesome weight of God’s glory (the infinite wonders of who he is) and the full height and depth of his love. It doesn’t have to be pulled along or carried on the hip or back; it’s carried within the spirit.

What is this invisible reality? God’s kingdom. We are Kingdom Carriers[2]—if we’ve accepted his Son Jesus into our lives. That choice leads to the abundant life he promised.[3]

Carry an oxygen concentrator and you can supply yourself with that one necessity for as long as the battery lasts, about 8 hours. But as Kingdom Carriers? Oh my!  God provides numerous necessities for a lifetime and beyond. Some come quickly to mind, such as the peace of mind mentioned above, wisdom for decision-making, and the assured hope of a glorious future.[4] 

But what else do we carry in our invisible Kingdom satchels? Here are a few examples:

  • God’s encouragement. Within the pages of his Word we find heartening promises, assuring each of us, “You’re not alone; I’m here to help you. Remember, with me all things are possible.”[5]
  • God’s equipping. He provides courage in distress, serenity in difficulty, strength under pressure, comfort in pain, and more.[6]
  • God’s faithfulness. Reflect on the numerous times God has graciously protected and provided. With King David we can affirm:
  • The truth about our identity. We are God’s children, created in his image for divine purpose.[7]
  • Joy—even in the midst of trouble. Paul is our example. “In all our troubles,” he wrote, “my joy knows no bounds” (2 Corinthians 7:4). We can live like that too!
  • Security. “There isn’t a single moment when you’re not tucked next to the heart of God.”[8]

Our Kingdom backpacks even include a new wardrobe!

And what does this new wardrobe include? A long coat of humility that envelops everything else, soft gloves woven of kindness and gentleness, quiet slippers of patience (as opposed to tap-shoes of exasperation), and a large scarf of forgiveness that covers a multitude of grievances (vs. 11-13).

Now, at least several questions present themselves:  

Are we putting to good use these amazing provisions? What can we do to avail ourselves more readily?

And, as Kingdom Carriers, are we sharing the life-giving, peace-imparting contents of our invisible backpacks with those around us?

*     *     *     *     *     *      *      *     *      *

I praise You, O God for transferring us from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of your beloved Son. You, the King of the universe, have made us your sons and daughters!  Now, wherever we go, we carry within us your invisible kingdom—and all its amazing qualities. May we be faithful to access what you’ve provided and generously share them with others.   

(Colossians 1:13; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Luke 17:21; John 10:10; Hebrews 13:16)


[1] Psalm 145:13; John 10:10; Philippians 4:6-7

[2] A phrase coined by Elaine Olsen, Peace for the Journey, 141. (Elaine is one of my former second-grade students!)

[3] John 3:16; 3:3; 10:10

[4] James 1:5; 1 Peter 1:3-6

[5] Psalm 23:4; 46:1; Matthew 19:26

[6] Psalm 27:1; Psalm 9:9-10; Isaiah 40:28-31; Psalm 147:3

[7] John 1:12; Ephesians 2:10

[8] Chrystal Evans Hurst, Kingdom Woman, p. 157; Isaiah 40:11

Art & photo credits: http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.canva.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.flickr.com.

A nail is driven out by another nail;

habit is overcome by habit.

So said Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch philosopher and theologian of the 1500s.

Desiderius Erasmus

Research in recent times has proven his statement true.  One of the best ways to break a bad habit is to replace it with a good one.

That’s why President Reagan replaced his cigarettes with jelly beans, dieters replace chips with popcorn, and late-night TV addicts forego talk shows to read calming books.

Some of the most stubborn bad habits are those that occur in the mind. It’s no easy task to shut down anxious, negative, or covetous thoughts—even when we know they contribute nothing to our well-being.

But if we apply Desiderius’ advice, we can retrain our brains toward healthy, even delightful thinking. For example, we can:

Replace anxiety with trust.

Worry spirals us downward into fear; trust-statements provide the way out–trust-statements such as these:

  • I can trust the One who died for me. He will thwart every plan that should be stopped and complete each one that results in his greatest glory and my highest good.[1]
  • God is with me and for me. His strength enables me, and his light guides my way.
  • Time and again I’ve witnessed God’s provision and protection, his miracles and blessings. “All that I have seen has taught me to trust him for all that I have not seen.”[2]

As other trust statements come to our attention, we can record them in our journals or in Notes on our phones. Then we’ll be prepared when the slide into worry begins.

Replace negativity with positivity and praise.

Continual praise is what changes the emotions,

lifts the darkness, offers hope, frees the mood

and blesses God so that evil is driven out.

Praise changes everything.

–Arnold Prater[3]

Throughout the day take a praise-pause now and then. Praise God for his power to keep this world on its axis, tilted just right to support life. Praise him for the proofs of his creativity in nature, for his goodness and loving mercy that prompted him to make a way to heaven for us.

Of course, the demands of the day often distract us from such thoughts. But if we post reminders here and there—around the house, on the visor of the car, at our places of work—we can jump-start this habit.

Replace covetousness with gratitude.

Gratitude doesn’t change the scenery;

it merely washes clean the glass you look through

so you can clearly see the colors.

–Richelle E. Goodrich

Too often our attention gravitates toward wants instead of haves, fostering discontentment and envy–emotions we’d do well to eliminate.

One helpful strategy is keeping a gratitude journal. Even brief entries can be effective. I only record one or two things each day, but discovered there’s benefit in the process of reviewing the day to glean the highlights. An added delight: rereading old entries and feeling grateful all over again.

Of course, developing good habits is not as easy as driving out a nail. What about those days when we fail? That’s the time to remember: even in failure there is progress.

Failure points to the inadequacy of striving on our own, and turns us toward greater dependence on God.

We learn, on the one hand,

that we cannot trust ourselves

even in our best moments,

and, on the other,

that we need not despair even in our worst,

for our failures are forgiven.

–C. S. Lewis[4]

We can begin our habits of trust-statements, praise, and gratitude right there!


[1] Based on a quote from J.H.M., Streams in the Desert (Zondervan, 1997) 295.

[2] Ralph Waldo Emerson

[3] Bonding with God (Marno Books, 2000) 78.

[4] Mere Christianity (MacMillan, 1952) 78.

Photo credits: http://www.flickr.com (2); http://www.heartlight.org (2); Nancy Ruegg; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.heartlight.org.

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes,

our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions,

they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

John Quincy Adams

Many in today’s world want to believe that truth is relative. You’ll hear them say, “What’s true for you isn’t necessarily true for me.”

In the case of taste, that statement may apply. You might love coconut, hard rock music, and skinny jeans ; I do not. And that should be OK. We all have our preferences.

But to understand the absolutes of reality, we must consider the facts and evidence in order to judge rightly and respond accordingly. Truth is truth. And when it comes to our eternal destiny, we cannot risk basing our hopes on untruth, no matter how well-intentioned.

Yet falsehoods frequently masquerade as truth, and have for centuries.

So how are we supposed to know what is right and true concerning our eternal destiny?

Behold the Truth

There’s no getting around the fact that every one of us will die. And though we don’t know the details of what happens next, the Bible is clear: When we trust in Jesus, who took the punishment we deserve for our sins, God graciously grants us eternal life with him in heaven (John 3:16). This is the way he’s established (John 14:6).

But why should we believe the Bible? That‘s a key question every person needs to be able to answer.

Whole books have been written on the subject; I’ve listed a few at the end of this post. But here’s a sample of categories that affirm the Bible is reliable truth, to whet your appetite. And with each I’ve provided just one example or a link to one.

So what facts and evidence prove the Bible is true?

  • Thousands of archaeological discoveries verify names and places mentioned in the Bible. Nothing has been found to repudiate any scripture. (One amazing example: When Truth Unfolds.)
  • Over 5,000 ancient manuscripts or fragments corroborate the Bible.
The Dead Sea Scrolls include 800-900 manuscripts representing every Old Testament book except Esther. They date from about 225 B.C. to 50 A.D.
  • Hundreds of prophecies have come true with 100% accuracy. (Compelling Evidence offers just one set of prophecies concerning one city–all of them fulfilled with mind-boggling perfection.)
  • A number of scientific and medical facts mentioned in the Bible have also been proven accurate. One example:
  • Over the centuries, millions of lives have been transformed because of Christ’s work within them. (When Love Drove Out Hate tells just one miraculous story.)

But don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself “the state of facts and evidence.”

Study the photos of archaeological finds. Many are available online.

Learn about fulfilled, biblical prophecies and why the argument that they were written after the fact is provably false. (Read Is the Bible True?/ Fulfilled Prophecy as a good starting point.)

Consider all the scientific and medical facts mentioned in the Bible and how unfolding knowledge over the ensuing centuries has verified their accuracy.

Read biographies of those who hit rock bottom in their lives and how God lifted them up, often in miraculous ways.    

We begin to recognize lies

when we know the truth.

Beth Moore, Praying God’s Word, 76

And if we truly seek after God, he has promised, we will find him (Proverbs 8:17).

Believe in the Truth

Many people believe that heaven is earned. If our good deeds outweigh the bad, God will allow us to enter. But that teaching is not in the Bible. And if we’re going to assert the veracity of scripture (which we must, given the overwhelming evidence), then we have to accept:

This is not a matter of taste, choosing our beliefs depending on what we like, as with food, music, or clothing.

This is a matter of life and death.

Now is the time to behold the Truth, believe in the Truth, and belong to the Truth, if you haven’t made that choice before.

You’ll be so glad you did!

If you’re already a Christian, please share in the comment section below about what brought you to accept the Bible as truth and Jesus Christ as the Way to eternal life.

For further reading: The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, both by Lee Strobel, and Why Should I Trust the Bible by William D. Mounce.

Photo credits: http://www.wikimedia.org; http://www.dailyverses.net; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.jenikirbyhistory.getarchive.net; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net; http://www.canva.com.

True Satisfaction

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1 KJV).

Many of us memorized those words as children. And some of us may have thought, “Wow! That means God will give me whatever I want!”

So we prayed for new bicycles, the latest gadgets, and swimming pools in our backyards—absolutely certain that if God gave us these hearts’ desires, we’d be truly satisfied.

Some of our prayers were answered affirmatively. A new bicycle with sparkling spokes actually materialized by the Christmas tree. Or Aunt Kate heard the pleas for Mattell’s Magical Music Thing, and sent it as a birthday gift.

But as the years went by, the wise and introspective among us realized:

1. When one desire is fulfilled, another quickly takes its place.

Years ago I heard that a famous actress had accumulated seven houses, each one a different style from the others. Why? Because moving from one to another eased her boredom. (I wonder how long it took to become discontented with House #4, or #5, or #6, before she hired an architect to start the next?)

2. God isn’t in the business of making wishes come true.

Psalm 23:1 doesn’t mean: “I’m one of God’s flock! I’m gonna live on Easy Street!”

If he did grant every whim, we’d soon become self-centered and spoiled.

Perhaps a clarifying interpretation of the opening scripture would be: “God is my loving Care-Giver. All that I enjoy in my relationship with him far outweighs anything this world has to offer. I really don’t need another single thing.”

Ah, to be as soul-satisfied as King David, the author of this psalm!  How can we become that contented?

One place to begin is with gratitude and praise.

Think of all we enjoy as a result of our relationship with God.  Peace, joy, and provision quickly come to mind.

Here are a few more:

  • Companionship with a perfect Friend—every moment of every day–into eternity.  He is always listening, always watchful, always diligent.
  • Hope. No situation is beyond the control of our Almighty God.
  • Settledness, because he is in control, and “makes good things even out of hard times” (Erica Hale).
  • Truth. We don’t have to muddle through life like a do-it-yourselfer with no instruction manual. “The unfolding of [God’s] words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130).

The bottom-line is this: No possession or position, no place or person on earth can fill our hearts with contentment.

3. True satisfaction flourishes when we affirm that in God we have all we need.

Remember Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28?

Are you weary of the dissatisfaction that results from striving for the next desire?  Are you burdened by unfulfilled wishes and dreams?

Come to Jesus.  Count the scores of blessings he’s already provided in the past, is currently providing this very moment, and has already prepared in the glory of heaven yet to come.

Cultivate true satisfaction in your heart with gratitude and praise!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

What helps you cultivate true satisfaction?  Please share in the Comments section below!

Art & photo credits: http://www.canva.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.rawpixel.com; http://www.wikimedia.org.

(Revised and reblogged from 7-10-14 while we enjoy house guests.)

Hidden in God

Play hide-and-seek with a two-year old and chances are, when it’s your turn to do the seeking, you won’t be looking for long. Their under- standing of true concealment is limited.

Some people play hide-and-seek in life. They’re looking for places to hide from such situations as financial ruin, hurtful relationships, and danger. But their understanding of true concealment is limited.

They may build up a hefty bank account, move from one relationship to another when the first difficulty arises, and purchase every means of protection against physical harm.

But these hiding places still leave a person exposed. Not all problems can be solved with money. Shallow relationships don’t satisfy in the long term, and physical protection can fail.

Just as our granddaughter in the first picture needed something bigger to cover her, we need something bigger than bank accounts, a few casual friends, and state-of-the-art alarm systems to cover us.

In addition, we face a number of monumental problems in America that leave all of us greatly exposed: rising drug addiction, increased violent crime, failing schools, the demise of Judeo-Christian values, inflation, supply chain failures, the national debt, and more.

There is only one place where we’re completely hidden and protected: in God himself.

Not that we’re shielded from every difficulty in this life. God hasn’t promised to prevent all trouble. But he is the One who can provide complete coverage no matter what we face, including the security of eternal life and blessings in the midst of trouble.

When God is our Hiding Place, he makes available to us his:

  • Strength

When tumult rages,

We have in him a strong citadel of calm.

–Herman  Lockyer (1)

  • Peace

The very act of breathing in his presence [is] balm.

Jan Karon (2)

  • Help

Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him

and expect help from Him, He will never fail you.

–George Mueller

  • Truth, including his unfailing promises

The roots of stability come from being grounded in God’s Word.

–Unknown

  • Hope

God has given no pledge that he will not redeem

And encouraged no hope that he will not fulfill.

–Charles Spurgeon

Rest assured, my friends, once we’ve placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we are completely covered—hidden in God. He is our steadfast and reliable Rock of refuge (Psalm 31:3).

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

I praise you, O God, for sheltering me in the Rock-cave of your refuge. I’m surrounded by your unfailing love and compassion, your all-sufficiency in all situations, and your empowering presence.

I also take refuge in the truth of your Word that affirms you will put all things right when the time is right. In the meantime, I nestle into the protective shadow of your wings.

(Psalm 32:10b; Psalm 116:5; Philippians 4:1; Psalm 23:4; Romans 8:28; Psalm 17:8b)

Notes:

  1. Seasons of the Lord, 252.
  2. A Common Life, 116.

Photo credits: Nancy Ruegg; http://www.fox19.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.pixabay.com; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.dailyverses.net; Nancy Ruegg; http://www.heartlight.org; http://www.pixabay.com.

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