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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fear Not!


Luke 2:8-14 - And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them, and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!”

Fear Not!” “Don't be afraid!” These words were spoken by the angels under a starlit sky to the shepherds. They heard these words and did not stop to analyze or consider the 'what if's' of being afraid, but instantly obeyed. They believed and left forthwith to seek the Christ Child, lying in the manger.

These words God were often given to people down through the ages, Why? Why suggest or command people not to fear during different scenarios of their lives? Isn't it possible that to suggest or command not to fear brings on fear? I found the phrase do not fear in the Scriptures many times and in many instances. Curious, I discovered the message behind, “Fear not!” It is coupled with being confident in God's ability to protect and care for us.

Abraham was told, “Fear not, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.” Genesis 15:1. Gpd called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What ails you, Hagar, fear not; for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” Genesis 21:17. Isaiah heard these words, “Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1b

Then these words are found in Isaiah 54:4a - “Fear not; for you shalt not be ashamed, neither be confounded.” How true that when we are afraid, we are ashamed. We feel as if we are found wanting and guilt overwhelms us. Then comes hopelessness and despair. And we feel trapped. Fear is the enemy, the threshold to emptiness.

Daniel was told, Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that thou didnst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.” Three things Daniel did – he set his heart to understand, he chastened (self-disciplined) himself and he prayed to God. Could Daniel have succumbed in fear? Yes! Daniel was under the constant fear of death from the King. He was sent to the hungry lion's den to be torn to pieces. He stood in the dark with the sound of hungry lions all about him. A nightmare situation! The king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Daniel 6:16 Did Daniel cry out in fear? No. He trusted God to rescue him and praised Him. Daniel's faith was strong and steadfast. He was confident in where his strength lay.

There are many kinds of fear. Fear of the dark, fear of the unknown, fear of heights, fear of being alone, fear of fear, fear of sickness and disease, fear of punishment, fear of rejection and ridicule, fear of failure, fear of spiders....the list is endless. Atrocious words to spell, or pronounce have been attached to these fears. Does this lessen the fear, or elevate it? Fear causes us to be immobilized, brings physical problems, causes confusion, opens the door to do the wrong thing (sin) and keeps us from standing firm. Fear causes us to lessen our love for others and serving God.

The 'what if's' that fear could have brought to the shepherds the night the star shone so brightly, could have caused them discount the announcement from the angels. The shepherds were considered lowly, and might have asked, “They don't mean us, let some one else go! We don't want to look foolish.”

What if' Daniel had wimped out before the King? Surely, Daniel would have been less than strong without his faith and trust in God! Daniel was confident in the power of God. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.Deuteronomy 31:6 (Moses' words to Joshua as he was ready to take his leave.)

As the new year approaches, I wonder what is in store for me and my family. I have thought about the affairs of our country and the world. Insecurity is rife in so many areas such as physical safety, leadership, economy. Killings from man and from natural causes can turn our hearts either to fear or to God. I can be fearful or I can have confidence. If I choose confidence, where will I find it?

I remember reading and seeing Mom (Anna Daisy Siemens) searching for spiritual strength for the new year as it approached. Her favorite weapon against fear was always praise. As I looked through one of her journals, I found the entry, one hot summer: “I heard it rain during the night, not a lot, but a little. I smiled at God and said, Thank you.”

In her January 1 entry, 1994, she wrote, “Every year should begin with prayer and I have a thousand reasons to Thank You, Father, this morning. So it is good to bring my Thank You to Him. Since I can not sing too well at 86, I shall write a review of Psalm 147, as my song of praise.” Mom's weapon against fear and despair was Praise! Praise the Lord.
How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! Psalm 147:1
Many people, including my daughter, Anna, choose a scripture to live by each new year. This year I choose several scriptures to live by. Fear Not is coupled with confidence in God my Father. If I have confidence in God, I don't have room in my life for fear of anything this world offers. God is my Lord, Jesus is my Shepherd and the Holy Spirit is my Helper!

The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. I John 4:17
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. I John 5:14

May your New Year be filled with the blessings of sure faith in Christ Jesus and remembrance of Him who walks with you in this life. Fear Not! For in Christ Jesus, our Savior, we are blessed!


Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Love-Light

As I read the newspaper clipping from eighteen years ago, the words eerily described today:

The world love-light dims. We fasten our safety belt for an unknown comet's collision with Jupiter with fear.  Our ears are glued to the tube for hours of special media reports on the O.J. Simpson saga to taste every strand of evidence fed to us by national commentators.

We feel the heavy metal rock beat of senseless slaughter in Bosnia, Rwanda, Palestine and Israel drumming against our consciences.  Crime waves, drug cartels, natural disasters and lack of integrity set our teeth on edge. Some of us can remember when our doors were never locked. We remember when love lived in our homes and our streets. Now we live in fear. How can we turn the love-lights back on?

We catch rare glimpses of agape love at Christmas time or during calamities. Such a love touched me a month ago (June 1994) -- while I fought fiercely to live independently at 87 but hopelessly collapsed like an empty balloon in ill health. The love that touched me came from St Mary's Hospital, Home Health and my family. I cannot repay that love, I can only say 'Thank you' for the beautiful love that lights humanity. God lights this world with His love through you...thank you...Anna Daisy Siemens.


This clipping was placed inside a friend's Bible and forwarded to me by her daughter-in-law last week after my friend's death.

When I was a little girl, my bedroom had four windows, two to the South and two to the West overlooking the backyard. One night as I lay down to sleep, the back yard was filled with fears and images of war from the current Life magazine. I was terrified. My Dad took my hand, and with love, we walked outside to a peaceful backyard, a darkened haven. Dad was my love-light. His strength became my strength. His sureness became my peace. Now, when fear and uncertainty comes, I place my hand in God's hand and He strengthens me.

Now I look at the news all about us, and I see what Mother saw in 1994 – the turmoil of natural disasters, the ever-widening conflicts and torture of people who are created by God throughout the world. Senseless killings fueled by anger and revenge. And I ask, with Mother, why? And I ask, when do we choose to turn on the love-light?

It is a choice. It is from the heart. It is from us – me and you. Will each of us learn to exchange the despair to hope; the anger to peace; the criticism to encouragement; the hate to love; the sadness to joy; the cruelty to gentleness; the corruption to truth; impatience to endurance?
No, not alone, but we have help. We can choose to the King of Peace to hold our hearts and walk with Him each day.
  • Hear my cry for help, my King and my God for to you I pray. Psalm 5:2
  • But you, LORD, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Psalm 22:19
  • The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. Psalm 28:7
  • So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Hebrews 13:6

The phrase, Love-Light, reminds me of the twinkling lights on a Christmas tree as a child. The fascination with lights is so ingrained in us – that man has invented a myriad ways of lighting places on earth. When a light bulb burns out, it is such an inconvenience. When the power goes off for any reason, we are helpless and struggle to know what to do or how to stay warm or what to eat. Night lights give us security and sure-footing in the night.

Yet, we have the Creator of Light, the real thing. And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, Genesis 1:14.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Jesus is truly our Love-Light. His Love-Light pierces the darkness. When we choose to believe in Jesus, He walks beside us. He keeps us from stumbling in this dark world. He gives us His peace, not as the world gives.

Job wrote in 30:17 - Night pierces my bones; my gnawing pains never rest. In his great power God becomes like clothing to me; he binds me like the neck of my garment.

The phrase, 'Night pierces my bones', creates a telling image of the terror of the night that invades our spirit. When corruption, untruths, anger and the love of money rule our hearts, we are caught in a dark world.

I Timothy 6:11 - But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Revelation 1:8

Recently I heard a new Christmas song that points to making a choice of whom we will serve. The choice is ours. Will we settle for world's fleeting pleasures or will we choose Jesus and eternal life. A child, in bewilderment asks, “Where is the Line to See Jesus?

Where's The Line To See Jesus?
Is He here at the store?
If Christmas time is His birthday,
Why don't we see Him more?
Where's the line to see Jesus?
He was born for me.
Santa Claus brought me presents,
But Christ gave His life for me.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9YySWTpTFHM



Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'll Be Home For Christmas


This song, I'll Be Home for Christmas, was first recorded in 1943, by Bing Crosby (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFGfCn5rKIM). The lyrics, written for soldiers during World War II, ends with the words - Christmas Eve will find me, Where the love-light gleams, I'll be home for Christmas, If only in my dreams.

At the age of 13, I didn't understand the depth of the meaning – where else would someone be, than at home? At home where Christmas tree lights twinkled in the living room, secret gifts under the tree and the scent of newly-baked peppernuts coming from the kitchen. As time ticked by slowly on Christmas Eve, we waited for Dad. When Dad came home from delivering last minute packages from the old parcel post truck, we were prepared for the Christmas Story of Jesus' birth read from Luke 2, singing Christmas carols and prayer on our knees,

Home for Christmas took on other meanings. During our 60 years of marriage, there were years when it was impossible to 'be home for Christmas'. That longing to be home with family never ceases – but the location of home as a physical place – changes. It is a process of learning just what home means.

The file of Mom's writing reveals her understanding of being 'Home for Christmas'. She writes:
In 1928, our first Christmas was spent away from home. Christmas meant home, love and family. To me, being home for Christmas was a given. Surely we would go home for Christmas. The waves of nausea of the first pregnancy were over and we planned to make the long, cold trip of 300 miles. Pop installed a heater in our car. We hoped it would not snow.

The night before we planned to leave, I became ill. My ears ached and my fever was high. I had the flu! Oh, I was very brave and didn't even cry. Pop bought a tiny Christmas tree and decorated it. With the new Chevy backed under the window, he hooked the tree's lights to the battery of the car. I appreciated his concern for my happiness but I was really too miserable to care.

The night before Christmas Eve, the telephone rang. It was my Dad, “We have been expecting you. When are you coming?” That opened a flood-gates of tears! I had never been away from home for Christmas, but God had a plan for me. With a new post office job for Pop, it was 13 years before we were at my parents' house for Christmas. I discovered that Christmas is not a place, not certain people, but celebrating Christ in the heart is the joy that cannot be taken away by big snows, distance, illnesses or job.

Christmas Wonder
What is the wonder of Christmas/ That pulses in the hearts of all men?
This spirit of giving and sharing That defy oral words or the pen?

No evil intent in this wonder, But joy with each gift that we give.
The secrets, the lights and the carols – A warmth-shedding glow as we live.

This wonder is the love of Jehovah – That gave us a Savior in birth
Reminding man's hearts that God's goodness Sent Jesus, His Son, down to earth!

God's love is the wonder of Christmas That thrills human hearts everywhere
A wondrous reminder each season; 'Tis the gift of God's love that we share! (ADS)

When our parents' 'home' is no more – where is our place at Christmas time? That is when we teach our children what 'home' is. Is there a 'forever-home'?

In the last paragraph Mom wrote this....
How I have appreciated our loving family circle, even after Poppa and I sat side by side alone on Christmas Eve. We were so thankful to be 'home for Christmas' We always prayed our children had joy in their own circle of loved ones and that they might appreciate their children while they have them at home for Christmas! And what if I celebrate Christ's birth alone – I have a heart full of happy memories! And the joy of finally being …. at 'Home for Christmas' with our Lord.

No matter where we lay our heads at night, if we have Jesus in our hearts, we are 'home'. Even if our earthly family is miles away, when we find those who have Jesus in their hearts, we are 'home'. When we give our love without reserve to the 'least of these', we are 'home'.

God welcomes us 'home' when we praise Him and love his Only Son! May this Christmas find us truly 'at home for Christmas and every day'.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” Luke 2:14


Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Growing Old.....


 It was a Wednesday morning, and four children surrounded me, looking at my hands as I pinched the skin. I looked down at my hands and saw old lady hands and remembered long ago sitting with Grosmom Siemens looking at her work-worn hands. She let me lightly pinch the skin on the back of her hand and watch the skin keep its shape, like a tiny hill. I tried to pinch my hand's skin, but it quickly fell back to it former shape. I long wondered about why my skin didn't hold like hers. Now it does. It is an 'earned right' to be able to make a pinch-hill on the back of my hand.

Emilie Brunn Siemens was my first introduction to what is considered 'old age'. Her life began in June 18, 1876 in Norka, Saratov area of Volga Russia. When Emilie was sixteen years old, she came to this country leaving her parents (1882). She worked for her sister in United States for 5 years to pay for her passage ticket. She spoke low German/Dutch (Plautt Deitch). We loved to talk in our own languages and were able to comprehend the meanings. Grosmom was small woman, with big brown eyes, her black hair was combed into a bun on the back of her head. There was a growth on her neck that reflected the beating of her heart.

I loved Grosmom Siemens. Now I wish I had asked her questions to learn what life was like for her. What were her dreams? Did she have any desires? Was she scared when she traveled alone? The fact that she came to this country alone on a big ship when she was sixteen intrigued me. When I was sixteen, I wondered if I could have done the same thing. She left her parents when she came. Did she miss them and long to go back to Russia? Although she worked for her sister, she was treated as a servant, as she did outside and inside chores to earn her passage.

Later Emilie married Jacob V Siemens, an auctioneer and a traveling evangelist. How did they meet? How did she feel about marriage? I knew that Grosmom Siemens loved her husband, for she cared for him when he became paralyzed the last year of his life. They raised four sons and one daughter. The four sons were irrepressible, mischievous boys who kept their Mom busy. Another daughter, Annie, died January 29, 1913, from meningitis. Did Grosmom grieve a long time? Grossmom died at the age of 67, August 7, 1943. She had not reached an old age - as we consider being old now.

My picture of old age includes a quietness, a folding of the hands and a sweetness. In Rogers, our church family included a row of ladies who appeared to be a row of roses – a veritable rose garden. As the row grows smaller, I miss my rose-ladies. When I see a gray-headed man or woman, I see a history – of living and stories to tell.

Growing old sneaks up on us. Did we expect for life to go on and on? Yes. We do not take to change kindly – especially the growing old change. As time goes on we make allowances for physical strength, taking more naps. We make allowances for not remembering or for misplacing things. We allow ourselves to save a mountain of things that define us because 'we might use it someday'. We realize that youthful 'tomorrow-outlook' begins to change to counting the days, and not squandering time. The important things of life change. No longer is the latest gadget, fashion or mode of transportation important. What is important? Each of us have to answer that question for ourselves.

Growing old is like cramming for a test scheduled for tomorrow. There is no escape. Is growing old depressing? No. Although that is a question each of us face and we must answer. There is no escape. It is a journey, an adventure. Although it is a path well-trodden through the ages, we see it as new when we travel that same path. We study our way, and realize, at the slower pace, we can recognize blessings we overlooked before.

As birthday candles grow in number, we pile on experiences and thoughts. Greying hair doesn't always mean wisdom, but it places prioritzing in its place. (A lady once told me that her hair color was whatever bottle she chose at the time – does that mean she will never become wise? This relates to a tree falling in the forest....)

Growing old is a blessed state. A state of peace when faith and trust become a living/breathing part of life. Growing old is appreciating, encouraging and loving children, grandchildren and great grandchildren from an eternal perspective. Growing old is a bridge between youth and forever. Growing old is recognizing the power of prayer as never before. Growing old is a peace when 'doing something' is not as important as praying for it. Growing old is God's way of preparing us for an eternity with Him – giving us aches and pains – that only He can erase in His time.

Growing old is living with expectation of seeing God at work.
Growing old is the surprise of one more year that God has granted.
Growing old is not looking back but looking ahead to what will be.
Growing old is being a place of rest and comfort for others.
Growing old is smelling a rose and recognizing the scent of forever.
Growing old is smiling through tears caused by physical pain.
Growing old is listening to those around you with love.
Growing old is giving what you are with open-ness.
Growing old is walking in hand in hand with our Savior.
Growing old is looking up at the stars and knowing Who we belong to.
Growing old is never losing the child-like sense of wonder.
Growing old is sitting by the side of life with an open door to those who pass by.

(Written by someone who is growing old....)

  • I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. Psalm 37:25
  • The glory of young men is their strength, gray hair the splendor of the old. Proverbs 20:29
  • Do not cast me away when I am old; do not forsake me when my strength is gone. Psalm 71:9
  • The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
    planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
    They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Psalm 92:12-15
  • Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

Happy 89th Birthday to my Aunt Irene!


Comments? eacombs@att.net