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    Face It

    Folklore in Ireland tells of a blacksmith named Jack who’s waiting at the pearly gates. Denied admittance, he hollows out a turnip and places a burning coal ember in it for a lamp to light the way in search of a final home.  When the Irish came to America during the potato famine of the mid-19th century, they swapped turnips for pumpkins and carved scary faces on them.  With a name like “Jack O’Lantern,” you knew the Irish were involved somehow.
     
    As you carve your pumpkin this month, follow Broadway’s pop prescription:
     
    “Gray skies are gonna clear up;
    Put on a happy face.”
     
    Graham Cooke recalls hearing someone tell his grumpy friend to “Die quietly.  Nobody likes to hear you scream.”
     
    Better still is the Old Testament’s admonition to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”  That’s hard to do masked by a frown.  So, if you’re happy, tell your face!
     
    What gives you joy today?  Real joy?
     
     
    The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up His countenance on you and give you peace.”   Numbers 6:25-26
     
    Posted November 1, 2019

    Out On A Limb

    Redwoods can top out at 400 feet and live 2,000 years. But they’re saplings alongside a certain Great Basin bristlecone pine in California’s White Mountains. Dubbed “the oldest-known living tree in the world,” Methuselah is 4,851 years old.
     
    If these old-timers could talk, they’d tell about discovering fire, inventing the wheel, generating electricity and countless other breakthroughs. Yet no Einstein equals the wisdom of the Creator who made those seedlings eons ago.
     
    That Creator compared His kingdom to a tiny mustard seed that grows up to be a tree where birds make their home. That seed is the news that Jesus Christ, who spoke the universe into existence, proved His love for us by dying on a tree for us. And He offers us permanent refuge in the safety of His strong arms.
     
    Upon whose reliable branches are you nesting?
     
     
    Not one sparrow … can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t worry! You are more valuable to him than many sparrows.”  Matthew 10:29-31
     
    Posted on October 14, 2019

    September's Song

    Debuting in 1938 in a Broadway musical, “September Song” put a few more coins in the pockets of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.  Its lyrics liken a calendar year to one’s life span:
     
    “It’s a long, long while from May to December,
    But the days grow short when you reach September.
    When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame,
    One hasn’t got time for the waiting game.”
     
    Procrastination or, as my mother put it, “a hard head” describes those who delay putting their trust in Jesus Christ’s payment on the cross for our sin.  Like a driver careening down a mountain, unaware that he won’t survive the next curve at this speed, many refuse to admit and act on their need for a Savior.
     
    The Bible calls today “the day of salvation,” the day for a soft heart, not a hard head. 
     
    “These few precious days I’ll spend with you.”
     
    Will September be your time to sing that sweet, sweet song of salvation?
     
     
    “You’ll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to You.
    …  You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.”  Psalm 5:11-12 The Message
     
    Posted September 30, 2019

    Labor's Gift

    In 1300 the word labor meant a task or project.  It came to also signify trouble, hardship, pain and fatigue.  The word entitle soon surfaced to describe the act of naming a chapter or a book.  A century later it defined giving someone claim to a possession or privilege.
     
    You don’t work free because your employer deserves your labor. You earn your paycheck; it’s not an entitlement.
     
    On a far more cosmic scale Paul of Tarsus wrote this to the citizens and slaves in 1st century Rome:
     
    “The wages of sin is death,
    but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
     
    Have you accepted that gift, God’s labor of love, which we cannot earn and do not deserve?
     
     
    “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8,9
     
    Posted September 15, 2019

    What's Your Question?

    WHY do we seem to have more questions than answers?  We flock to those who say what we want to hear.  We read the books they write and sing their songs.  WHICH questions do they answer for us?  WHAT do they tell us about ourselves, about our purpose for taking up shelf space?  WHO are they?  HOW does their influence affect us? 
     
    Let’s hear from one who mistook the Messiah for his menace:
     
    “For the message about Christ’s death on the cross
     is nonsense to those who are being lost;
    but for us who are being saved, it is God’s power.”
     
    Is He the One to WHOM you turn to answer your deepest questions?

     
    “God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense in order to shame the wise, and He chose what the world considers weak in order to shame the powerful. …But God has brought you into union with Christ Jesus, and God has made Christ to be our wisdom.  By Him we are put right with God; we become God’s holy people and are set free.”  1 Corinthians 1:29-30
     
    Posted September 1, 2019

    The Brush-off

    Home ownership can be wearisome.  Can’t we annihilate those rascally moles and their trail of mini-pyramids of dirt?  The rotting wooden gutters have got to go.  The roof is growing its own putting green.  We pretend it’s thatched.
     
    Then the biggie -- painting.  Another year of procrastinating and the neighbors will report us to housing’s equivalent to Child Protective Services.
     
    We bite the bullet and give a painter the green light.  Now comes the scary part.  Will he scrape off every flake of old paint or just those at eye level?  Will he power-wash with Grand Coulee force, or give it a Presbyterian sprinkle?
     
    Fast forward, and we’re handing over the final payment.  Our painter escorts us on a walk-around, pointing out extra steps he’s taken to repair and preserve our now gleaming abode.  Why so much angst?  It could not have gone better.
     
    A friend observed, “Sure, there are evil people in the world, but everybody’s doing the best they can.”
     
    Do you give others the benefit of the doubt?  Are you a trusting soul?
     
     
    “We use (our tongue) to give thanks to our Lord and Father and also to curse other people who are created in the likeness of God.  Words of thanksgiving and cursing pour out from the same mouth; my friends, this should not happen!”  James 3:9-10
     
    Posted August 18, 2019

    Dream On

    “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Bill Shakespeare’s saga of love, jealousy and marriage in Athens, boasts some classic lines:
     
    “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”  Earlier the apostle Paul wrote to Greeks in Corinth, upstaging the bard, saying, “The message about Christ’s death on the cross is nonsense to those who are being lost, but for us who are being saved, it is God’s power. … God has shown that this world’s wisdom is foolishness.”
     
    “The course of true love never did run smooth.” Jesus promised His followers, “In the world you’ll have trouble, but cheer up!  I’ve overcome the world.”

    “My soul is in the sky.”  Paul informs believers, “We are citizens of heaven. We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Savior.”
     
    The worth of citizenship is in dispute today, but  “Where were you born?” is not the issue. It’s “Have you been born again?”
     
    Have you?
     
     
    “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms … I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”  John 14:1-3
     
    Posted July 29, 2019

    ReUnited

    Thirty-nine years ago I was flying to the South to say goodbye to my dad. 
     
    We had not seen each other for fourteen years following my wedding and college graduation.  Divorce hit us hard as I entered high school, and Dad did not see his only grandchildren until we reconciled when they were 16, 15 and 10.
     
    Because he had lymphoma, this would be our last visit.
     
    Two years earlier I was thrilled to hear him say that as a teenager he had asked Jesus Christ to be his Savior.  The Manufacturer’s Handbook guarantees that this act of faith on our part triggers God’s promises to keep us in His care from now throughout eternity.
     
    Dad slipped into heaven before I arrived, but based on those promises, there’ll be eons to make up for lost time.
     
    What sort of reunion are you and your family planning?
     
     
    “’Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’  They answered, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your family.’”  Acts 16:30
     
    Posted July 15, 2019

    Future Tense?

    Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow, a mystery.  Today is a gift.  That’s why we call it the present.
     
    Dwelling on the past can shackle you to situations which you're powerless to improve or delete.  Sparky Anderson, baseball’s first manager to win a World Series in both leagues, said of living in the past, “There’s no future in it.”
     
    Focusing on your tomorrows can arouse anxiety or hope.  Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom wisely stated, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown to a known God.”
     
    Are you anxious or hopeful about the future?  Based on what?
     
     
    “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.”  Lamentations 3:22,23

    Posted July 1, 2019

    Why Didn't I Ask?

    We’re finally taping our memories of marriage and family events.  Perhaps we’re answering questions our offspring would never ask, but as Zig Ziglar said, “If you ask your parents these questions, you’ll be glad you did.  If you don’t, you’ll wish you had.”

    These are suggested by our friend, Bob Tiede:
    1.  What are your favorite memories of being with your parents/grandparents?
    2.  What did you discover about yourself in grade school?
    3.  What did you and your best friend in high school like to do together?
    4.  What kind of trouble did you get into at home or school?
    5.  Growing up, what did you want to be?
    6.  What was your first, out-of-home job?
    7.  What first attracted you to your life’s mate?
    8.  What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
    9.  What in life are you most proud of/grateful for?
    10.  What’s important to you about God, and how did you learn that?

    Will you look for an opportunity to ask (and record) this Q&A, and then share it with family and special friends?


    “Honor your father and mother – which is the first commandment with a promise – that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”  Ephesians 6:2-3

    Posted June 17, 2019
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