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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Seasons of Love

We are accustomed to the changing of the four seasons, like the changing of the guard of time.  I find that there are seasons of love that consist of changes of circumstances and situations of our lives that give different outlooks on the mystery of love.

We learn about first love through our parents who care for our needs.  There are corrective measures that we experience through that relationship because they love us.  Then our relationships enlarge through friendships and teachers in an ever-growing circle.  We learn that love grows within our hearts in an ever-growing circle.   

My parents, Herman and Anna, had a sweet love that sparkled.  Exchanging hugs and kisses, ideas and plans, loving their children and always walking hand in hand.  Theirs was a true love story.  I don’t remember a cross word between them.  Mom taught us that Dad always got the biggest piece of dessert.  Dad had a special rocking chair that we vacated when he came in the room.  As for Mom, I remember hearing my brothers agree that they needed to do their chores, or Mom would do them and that wouldn’t do at all.  Love is a selfless giving.

After they moved to Watonga, the cost of the move wore on Dad’s heart.  He wanted to take care of his family.  Many a night, Mom held him in her arms and prayed.  His faith was tested, and this season of love was a time of nurture and caring.  Where did my parents learn to love?  They learned from parents, grandparents, great grandparents who learned love from the previous generations.

Where does love come from?  One of the first memory verses children learn in Sunday School is “God is Love”!  We are not taught what that means.  That doesn’t matter because with each new season of love we experience, our meaning of love enlarges.  God is love… are three words of a life time of the realization of the immensity and depth of His love for each of us.  The more days we live, the more we realize how much our love has grown for Him and others.  The Words written in the Bible are more and more important.  We begin to desire to pray without ceasing with every breath.  We see through the depth of the ocean, the height of the sky, the brilliance and faithfulness of the sun, how vast and mighty is His Word and His love.

Perhaps this season of love is my favorite. For often a song of joy fills my heart of just knowing He loves me and how much I love Him!  The peace grows, even through the pains of growing older, the pains that ready me to enter the promised land, Heaven.  It is more than serving others, it is a time of soaking in His goodness. It is a time of thankfulness.  It is a season of radiating and sharing His blessings with others.

Last Lord’s Day in worship, we sang these words that still sing in my heart:

Higher than the mountains that i face
Stronger than the power of the grave
constant in the trial and the change
One thing remains
Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me
Your love….

God loves us so much. He created us, He created a world for us to live in, He taught us how to live in peace and feeds us.  And then He sent his only begotten Son, Jesus, to become flesh and gave his life for us, in order that we can become pure and holy.  The season of love becomes seasons of forgiveness as well.  The Lord’s Prayer contains these words, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. Luke 11:4a

While reading in Galatians this morning, I found this scripture about Abraham.  3:16 - For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.  Abraham, the man, was chosen by God to make a journey to an unknown destination leaving his home and he would inherit a promised land.  His faith was counted to him as righteousness. It was a new season of love for him.  When we believe and begin a journey in our lives – through seasons of love and faith – we are promised a dwelling place, Heaven.
Love becomes faith, faith becomes trust, trust becomes peace, peace becomes joy.  And joy comes through the realization of the anticipation of Eternal Life.  The only reason to look back in our lives is to trace the hand of God guiding us through the seasons of love that lead to Him.

My granddaughter asks, What does our love revolve around? Our answer to this question tells about our hearts and our allegiance. 
C.S. Lewis says, He loved us not because we are lovable, but because He is love.
Agape – God’s love has been poured into our heart through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:5


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Really Real!

Mother was concerned.  What should she do?  Her little boy repeatedly came into the house, describing the lion in the back yard.  I remember wondering why my little brother could have so much fun while we had to go school.  I looked out the kitchen window in the yard one afternoon and tried to imagine what I would do if I came face to face with Gene’s lion.  Was it real or was it a lie?  That was my introduction to sorting out reality.  I didn’t see the lion.  My brother didn’t share his story with me.  I was left with conjecture and ‘what if’s’.

My little brother had already attained my respect and admiration for bravery the day he ran away from home to get the new Easter Shoes.  When a neighbor brought him home, my brother told me that he had laid his thumb on the highway and a car ran over it. My other brother, Jim, and I inspected the thumb that Gene held out for us. The thumb had no visible injuries.  I wondered how that could be and then, I believed.

What is really real in this world?  Does one’s perception of truth count?  If I believe it is real, does this make it so?  What if my truth and some one else’s truth are not the same, whose truth is real? There has to be some kind of standard.

Being real, or transparent to anyone, in this world of today is a highly guarded secret, a personal matter.  Why? Fear.  Fear of being rejected; fear of being ridiculed.  Fear of not belonging.  Belonging to who?  Or What?  We have choices in this life.  We have the choice to choose truth in our lives.

Rufus E Combs, my father-in-law, told about life in West Texas when he was 13 years of age.  (Transcribed the way he talked)
On buying mules:  So I picked out a couple and named them Sheck and Jake.  Tied them together, that way you can drive them anywhere.  I had a saddle pony along.  My brother-in-law had a wagon, he’d come with me.  We started home.  Meantime I told this guy, that my uncle sent me and that I wanted to buy the mules on time, and when I could raise a crop, I could pay him.  If he would make out the note and mortgage I would sign it.  He went on a talkin’ and didn’t pay no attention to me.
Finally I got up courage enough and said, if you make up the note and mortgage for me, I will sign it and be on my way.  He said, “We don’t do that away out in this country.  You go on and take the mules home with you and this fall when you sell your cotton, you come pay me.”  I couldn’t hardly believe my ears.  About the only thing to do was get started with the mules down on the road.  I felt like I stole them.  I took them home and broke them.
In a month or two I seen my Uncle and told him what happened.  I got the mules all right…..My Uncle said, yes, that’s the way we do things out here in the west.  If a man’s word ain’t no good, and his name ain’t good, what’s the use of wasting all the paper?”  I says, “What happened if I sold everything and the mules and took the money and left the country?”  He said, “Oh, that’s what we got the mesquite trees and lariat ropes for, for those kind of guys.”

Have we lost trust and substitute reams and reams of paper covered piled high with four syllable words?  Marketing today is an example of teaching cynicism and doubt.  It has a language all its own laced with ‘faux’ promises, sex innuendo and playing on man’s desire for more.  When translated into realness with the truth unveiled we see what is really real.

Early one foggy Sunday morning our son Tim rode his bicycle around a small lake near here.  As he continued his ride, he realized the fog became thicker and even more thick.  Stopping, he took off his glasses and noticed that it wasn’t foggy at all, his glasses were fogged over.  He cleaned his glasses and his vision improved to near perfect.  He could see the road, the beauty that surrounded him and the joy of the Lord filled his heart in praise.

In life we allow our way to be fogged over with earthly desires of personal comfort, success as defined by the world and our wants become needs.  We allow our world to be ‘photo-shopped’ until we no longer see clearly. The word realized is fascinating.  The first meaning is to grasp and understand clearly.  The second meaning is to make real or give reality to.  And the third meaning is to bring vividly to the mind.  Nothing is hidden when it is realized.  There are no surprises later.

So what is true?  What is honest? What can give us hope?  The kind of hope that helps us wake up every morning, ready for the day.  The REAL creates a smile on our faces and sees joy even when things are difficult.  The REAL dispels the ‘don’t care’ acedia* condition of the heart.  It is the REAL that is truth for all our days. What brands of truth do we seek?  Can integrity and kindness walk together? A betrayal in a relationship finds hope in truth and forgiveness.  The truth can make us free of the baggage of subterfuge and lies that cause fear of the shadows of life.

King David understood where truth came from and its value - Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.   Psalm 51:6
Then Jesus came….and proclaimed truth!  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  John 14:6
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14
The question is, what is really real to me?  
What is really real to you?
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5

* Acedia – sloth – laziness/indifference in religious matters.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my King, would die for me
Amazing love, I know it’s true
It’s my joy to honor you (Chris Tomlin)

Nothing is so free as being free in Jesus.  Somehow, walking on this earth, this creation of God, on the little space God has given me, I know His Joy.
I see the joy He that was His in creating the grass and the trees I see.  I know the joy as I see a picture of waves lapping on the beach, scampering across miles.  When did the waves begin?  How did God put them in motion? And the clouds have a language all their own.  The clouds play tag with the wind, sailing across the sky, and often leave gifts of life-giving rain or snow or hail to cool the earth.
Blooming flowers lift their heads in delight and thankfulness of their God-given beauty to bring joy to anyone who stops their scurry to enjoy. The fruit of the trees and the garden bring blessing and nurture the body and the soul. Each sunset is anticipation of a new day to Re-Joy.

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it.  Psalm 96:11

His mysteries in this life delight us at every turn.  The mystery of God who heals broken bones, broken hearts and broken lives.  The mystery of nature’s seasons that change.  The mystery of how a child’s innocent sweetness touches us.  The mystery of how a sweet smile lights up our world.  The unforgettable essence of purity as clean towels and linens hang on the line in the sun.  The mystery of preparation in the kitchen when Mom baked bread, gingerbread, bread pudding or roasted chicken.  God-mysteries color my world in every sense of joy.

Re-Joy is like Mom’s left-over hash.  It is better the 2nd  and 3rd time for it takes on the flavors of goodness and love.  Never let a prospective Joy go to waste with whining and complaining.  Sprinkle life with laughter and drench life with His wisdom – and Re-Joy every day!

Worship is a time of Re-Joy as the sea of thankfulness washes over us like an ever present tide of gratefulness. There is no other who fills our hearts the way Jesus can.  The reading of God’s Word, the prayers, the new songs of faith bring us a cleansing of Re-Joy to our souls.

Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

The genesis and essence of joy comes through the heart-knowledge of the surety of salvation in Jesus Christ.  Joy is delight. Joy begets trust and hope.  It is a language of the forever, not a fleeting, temporary quickening of the heart.

Mother Teresa said, “Joy is prayer - Joy is strength - Joy is love - Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” 

Reading Ann Voskamp’s book, I began to widen my circle of that which gives me  joy and Re-Joy.  Ann says, “Fullness of joy is discovered only in the emptying of will.”   Forgetting self and serving others in the name of Jesus creates a threshold of joy.  Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: Joy.” 

Hanging on my wall is a gift-plate whose message sums up my life….”Yes, Lord!”  Eugene Peterson, in his book, “Reversed Thunder” proclaims that the word Amen is the Yes of Jesus.  Revelation 3:14 -  And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.”  Peterson says, “In the ‘Amen’ of Jesus the whole of Christology is contained in a nutshell.” (page 69)

Psalm 98:1, 4 - Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises!

My day is not complete without recognizing the ‘Yes’ of Jesus and the joys He gives to me and those I love.

How do we experience the refreshment of Re-Joy each day? 
 Remembering the blessings of giving and thanks-giving.
  Acknowledging Who God Is
 Singing a new heart-song of joy that crescendos into a Fortissimo of Joy
 Remembering His Promise of Heaven for His children
 Having a goal, a destination – Heaven.
  Knowing how to pack to prepare for Heaven: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
  Remembering each moment to Whom I belong and having a little talk with Jesus, saying Amen, Yes, Jesus.

Re-Joy is to delight/ Re-Joy – day and night.
I’m thankful and rejoice/ To Re-Joy is my choice.
One day I will be / With Him forever….

Each day I will Re-Joy/ To be with him forever. (eac)