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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Amazing...


How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!
All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:2

Amazing?  Amazing is a word that expresses wonder, astonishment and amazement.  Something that is unexpected. This is a word I do not hear often. The verse at the top of the page intrigues me.  When a person is weak and lives in the strength of the Lord, that person is amazing because of the humility and willingness to trust God and live in His Will.

There is God’s Word and man’s word. A man’s word used to mean a great deal.  My father-in-law, Rufus Edgar Combs, recorded the meaning of a man’s word while buying mules.  At the age of 13, Rufus was in charge of the farm and his family in 1900 AD.  His father was dying of cancer. ( http://www.combs-families.org/combs/ms/rufus/c-rufus2.htm )

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. I told him to make out a note and I would sign it, and he said we don’t do that way out here. And he said, “You just take the mules on home and when you get your crop, why come pay me.”
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 t’ got the mesquite trees and lariat ropes for, for those kind of guys.”

The papers in my filing cabinet attest to the loss of the value of a man’s word in this day and age.   Then I read this verse in Psalm 111… How amazing are the deeds of the Lord!

What are God’s deeds and what do they portray?  Are they indeed amazing? The Lord’s deeds began with Creation that He spoke into existence.  The time, light and darkness, the water and the air, the land and the sea, man and animals were all created by our Lord.  No matter how what part of creation that I see, discover and study, all I can say over and over  a breath of prayer – Amazing!  Amazing is our Lord.

Why would God, Our Lord, go to so much trouble?  Because He wants the very best for the children he created.  The second part of the verse is:  All who delight in him should ponder them.  God presides over the birth of each new child.  You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born”.  Psalm 139:15-16s

He watches over the sparrow. “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it” Matthew 10:29b

He sets the seasons. Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days and years.” Genesis 1:14

God gives abilities to his children to create and build.  “The Lord has gifted Bezalel, Oholiab, and the other skilled craftsmen with wisdom and ability to perform any task involved in building the sanctuary. Let them construct and furnish the Tabernacle, just as the Lord has commanded.” Exodus 36:1

The second part of the verse divides his people into those who delight in God and those who do not.  When God’s amazing power and love envelopes us, we find ourselves finding his beauty all around us, then we delight in Him.  We expect the impossible and search for the enriching words from His Word.  We pray His Words that express his incredible love.  We ponder how He was able to allow His Son, Jesus, to descend to the earth He created.  We ponder the incredible and amazing gift Jesus gave us when He died, beaten and crushed, on the cross.  We ponder the gift of resurrection when God raised His Son and left an empty tomb.  We ponder how the disciples greeted their Master after the resurrection.  We gaze with His disciples as they watched Jesus taken up into the sky. 

Then I read Deuteronomy 29:2-4 - Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything the Lord did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to his whole country— all the great tests of strength, the miraculous signs, and the amazing wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear!

About a month before she died, Mother asked if I could see the angel sitting in her bedroom by the head of the bed.  I did not see an angel.  But Mother did.  She knew God’s presence was there in that room.  God’s presence.  As my Dad stepped into Heaven, he smiled.  It was then I realized the reality of God’s Presence, His Love, and the Peace that is ours that is so amazing.  I ponder His Word and I delight in His faithful forever love.

His final gift to us can only be described as Amazing Love through His Amazing Grace.

The lyrics from two songs last Sunday…
“He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, And I realize just how beautiful You are, And how great your affections are for me.
And oh, how He loves us, oh, Oh, how He loves us, How He loves us all.” (John M McMillan)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jpEKI-F1PA

“You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of  dust. You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us. (Gungor) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDNi5eCigqw (Skip ad)




Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Beginning of the Story...

In April 2012, my dear husband and I began a journey with an unknown beginning and a known ending when he was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. That day put a label on the journey we would begin.  I remember sitting in the small room.  The painting on the wall made me wonder what we would see in the future.  The doctor came in and sat down. In short order he told me that my husband would just get worse, there was no cure.  I listened, and wondered how I should respond.  Thank you?  Scream, or cry?  Deny everything I heard?

This disease would claim my husband’s mind in a gradual slow process.  We laughed together and shared so much together through our 62 years. We both love God and love worshiping with our church family in Rogers.  Our children and their children were scattered in four different states.  We chose where we would move for our last days – to Illinois with our son, Tim.  It seemed the most logical and the least troublesome for our children.  Tim, the son who was always in a hurry, came and told me how to get ready.  This son logically told us what we should shed and what to keep and put the wheels of moving into motion.  He enlisted the help of our two sons, in Georgia and Wisconsin, and our daughter in California.

Meanwhile, our church family helped us in many ways, including our realtor selling our house and others helping to pack.  As plans came together, I realized the presence of God all around me each day.  What a comfort to know His peace.  Even the selling of our burial plot was taken care of by one of our church family.  As we left our home, I felt nothing but excitement about our new adventure.  The pangs of homesickness for home and friends were not there.

I remember Abraham and Sarah, who were told to travel to a new land from Ur of Chaldees. How did they prepare for the travel? They did not know when their journey was at an end. They were in an older age, too.  As we stopped for meals along the way, I wondered how Abraham and his entourage fared with no fast food, or a motel along the way.  We arrived at our new home, carefully chosen and purchased by our son Tim and his wife.  From church family who finished packing us the last day on to our new church family, unpacking when we arrived and bringing a meal.  

Then Paul, Dan and Linda left.  Tim and Karen went back to work.  Anna and her daughter  arrived home in California.  Our journey was ended and we were home.  Or were we? 

We worship with a new church family, see family every Sunday and in between, find new doctors, make new friends as Ed’s disease slowly deepens. He began to take imaginary trips to the Ranch to ride Penny, his pony, and ‘check’ on the cattle. He often asks, “When we are going home?” 

After the unexpected death of our son in Georgia in February, 2014, Anna came from California to care for her Dad. Our two sons, Paul and Tim (with Tim’s wife and daughter) travelled to Georgia with me to say goodbye to our son, Dan. 

After we came back, Karen and I went to a Bible Study on Deuteronomy, The Law of Love.  It was then I realized in full force, that we are born on this earth, packed and ready for a journey. Following Jesus is not a ‘stay-in-one-place’ life, but a lifelong-learning journey.

The Law of Love is how this journey is made. The Law of Love, found in the Bible, as lived on earth by Jesus Christ. He gave his life on the Cross to provide a ‘coming in’ from the journey in this life.   We can choose to live as we wish and make our own rules.  And by choosing to disobey, we are choosing our eternity -- separated from God.

The Children of Israel learned the folly of disobedience through the 40 years spent on a journey in the wilderness.  Love is not a one-way life.  When we choose to love God, a deep obedience follows that provides us joy, strength, peace, kindness, goodness, self-control and patience and abundant love. Following God makes our life purposeful.

The Children of Israel were captives of Egypt.  They were brought out by Moses under God’s leading.  Their destination was the Promised Land.  We, too, are on a journey. Through Jesus Christ we are delivered from sin and our destination is Heaven, our Promised Land.  God doesn’t bring us out of sin to be stuck in between – but to ‘bring us in’ for His promise of eternal life.

How do we learn the first step of our God-given journey – to love God? Live in purity and holiness in thoughts, actions and words.  See others through the eyes of Jesus with love and forgiveness.  Seek a close relationship with God and his Only Son Jesus through prayer and listening.  Each time we take a step in faith, our understanding widens and God gives us a deeper love and assurance.

After one of my dear husband’s mythical trips to check on the cattle on the ranch, I assured him that when he arrives in heaven his mind will again be clear.  He looked at me and asked, “Promise?”  I added, “And when you get to heaven, God will send you to His many pastures to check on the cattle.”  “….for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.  Psalm 50:10.

Ed began telling me a story of being on the ranch when he was young.  His eyes closed, and he soon fell asleep at the table. When he opened his eyes he continued without a pause, “….and that was the beginning of the story!”

Yes, when we reach the end of the journey here on earth, walking with God, that is the beginning of the story of living in love with our Lord Jesus Christ in His Forever.

James 3:17-18 -  But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.


II Peter 3:13 - But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Thank You!

Have you ever been brought to tears by a beautiful sunset, thrilled to the glory of a sunrise, been touched by the shimmering gentle rain as it waters the land, or sat on a river bank as the water sings its love song to you?  How do you respond in thanksgiving?  

When I drive to a destination and all the traffic lights are green, I give God thanks and adoration.  Or when I find a parking place just for me, I praise God!  How often, in our self-imposed busy-ness, do we close our hearts and are unaware of God's gifts of love all about us.

I love the word, delight.  God delights in us and we are to delight in Him.  He labored six days to create our earth in a huge universe.  Each day I see a new design or a new texture or a heart-stopping shade of color and I give thanks.  I delight in His Goodness that feeds my soul.

In a relationship when one delights in another, there is respect, consideration of the other person's feelings.  A ‘thank you’ or a ‘please’ are the words that create respect.  These are ‘passwords’ to a happy relationship built on honor for the other person.  

The Lord your God will delight in you if you obey his voice and keep the commands and decrees written in this Book of Instruction, and if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.  Deuteronomy 30:10
The Lord directs the steps of the godly.  He delights in every detail of their lives. Psalm 37:23

Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him. For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever. Psalm 100.4 - The Message

When Mom taught me those words – please and thank you, I didn’t realize that they were a foundation for the greatest of these – love.  I didn’t realize that the perfunctory use of thank you is just a beginning of living in a world that is ‘not all about me’.

In our culture today, we are concerned about getting our way.  It is an age of entitlement for earthly gifts of wealth, power, and control.  Belonging to Jesus gives a spiritual-entitlement of peace and joy.  Living in abandonment to God and His ways creates a servant-heart in us.  We desire to serve others in the name of Jesus Christ, giving our all.  We cannot love without the quality of forgiveness.  Forgiveness and unconditional love can only come through the relationship with the One who forgives us. 

Many years a go, I stood in a circle of prayer just before a revival meeting.  I heard my name mentioned by someone unknown to me and lifted up to God. This prayer stripped away my ‘can do’ attitude.  Years later God answered a prayer so clearly that I know He is real and knows my heart.  I know I am not floating in sea of people without guidance. And I am filled with gratitude and love and unending praise.  How can I respond to such unfathomable love?  What is love?

I go to I Corinthians 13:4-8 - Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
I test my life, fall to my knees and praise God.  I ask Him to cleanse me and make me clean - filled with unconditional love for those around me. This great love can come from no other than Jesus who gave His life in humility – for me – and for all those who call on His Name.
My dear husband slowly made his way to the breakfast table and wondered aloud at the effort it takes to grow old.  God has designed us to grow old to teach us trust and dependence on the One Who gives us life.

The Psalmist, David, gave us a treasury of Praise and Adoration that gives us an insight to His relationship with our Lord God.  May these words of praise seep into our hearts and give us joy.
I will thank the Lord because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. Psalm 7:17
• Rise up, O Lord, in all your power. With music and singing we celebrate your mighty acts. Psalm 21:13
  Praise the Lord! For he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:6-7
  Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight! Yes, what joy for those whose record the Lord has cleared of guilt, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!  Psalm 32:1-2
•  Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; Praise the Lord! Psalm 150


Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness.
Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song! (Fanny Crosby)

Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Saying Goodbye....

“Bye!” How quickly that farewell greeting trips off the tongue to our friends and family when we are young.  Yet, that derivative for ‘goodbye’ attains a deep emotion when it seems to be final.  The wrenching of a forever goodbye twists the heart for days on end.  Life seems to have stopped and falls into a deep black hole for days.

Severing friendship ties when moving to other places peppered our lives with ‘Goodbyes’, As time goes on, the ‘Goodbyes’ become more and more difficult. 

I counted the times I said goodbye when our children left one by one.  One left through marriage, one left leaving a list on the kitchen table – the last item said, Kiss Mom goodbye.  We left one child in an empty house because we moved away.  And the last child I left in college.  Driving away, tears clouded my vision for 10 or 15 miles.  There were blessed visits and reunions through the years but it always ended with ‘goodbyes, prayers and hugs’.

The forever ‘goodbyes’ came more often in our family. I found the verse…As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. I Peter 1:24

Just as a seed dies before it grows and flowers, God has given us a short journey on earth.  That is his purpose for his created ones.  Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”

I am reminded that during that time when God knit us together, Psalm 139: 13-14, that God planted eternity in the human heart, a desire for a ‘forever’ with God. (You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it.)

What does that ‘forever’ consist of?  The 21st Chapter, verses 10-21 tell us what Heaven is like.  Verses 22-27 state: I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city. Nothing evil will be allowed to enter, nor anyone who practices shameful idolatry and dishonesty—but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

A year or two before my Dad died, a message floated across my mind…This is the last time you will see your Dad.  Last July the same message came to me, as our son and his wife left our home.  The message was so strong, I almost ran outside for another hug as the car took them away.  I shrugged off the ominous message.  Surely not our oldest son!

At the end of the month I received my last phone call from our son. Then came almost seven months that he fought brain cancer.  Then came the call that our son had died.  My heart was broken.  As I remembered God’s message, I drew hope.  God cares and He loves us all.  In the sweet memories of our son and in the remembrances at the visitation and funeral service, there lies hope.

I remembered our former minister, Jack, often included II Timothy 4:6-7 in funeral services.   For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

When there is a departure, there is a destination.  So our son’s departure from this earth means he has landed at his destination.  His twin brother, Donald, and his grandparents were there to greet him.  Our son is loved and has found his ‘forever’.  He is waiting for us, his family, to join him.

To every Goodbye on this earth, there is a Welcome Home Hello, in Heaven!


Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.”  Revelation 19:7

Comments? eacombs@att.net