Look Out the Window

Take-off was a rush! I never dreamed that the initial thrust would set me back into my seat the way it did. In no time we were off the ground quickly gaining altitude.

As an adult I experienced my first ride on a commercial passenger plane. I felt like a kid. The thrill of take-off put butterflies in my stomach.

Then came the view! I couldn’t stop looking out the window at the patchwork below me. Seeing things from thousands of feet above the earth gives a whole new perspective!

I thought to myself, “God sees the world like this all the time, yet he knows me personally!”

Our Father always has the big picture perspective for our lives, disasters, sins, set-backs, diseases, and celebrations.

Jeremiah told his countrymen who had just been carried off to captivity to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says he LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

We often see this verse on plaques . It is certainly an encouraging verse. It is one I meditate on when I get discouraged.

But the context is a horrible situation of defeat and exile! Jeremiah tells them in chapter 29 in a letter to settle in, build homes, have lots of children and grandchildren, and make the city prosperous and peaceful, because you will be there a long time, seventy years!

Are you going through a disaster or an exile now? Perhaps your disaster has already lasted a long time. Or maybe it is just beginning.

Remember God has the 35,000 feet view even though you can’t seem to see 3 feet in front of you. God’s really does have the big picture.

Honor and love your Father in Heaven in the middle of your chaos. He indeed knows the plans He has for you! He wants your good, not disaster.  So whether He delivers next week, years down the road, or in heaven, He will come through! The LORD is still your hope!

Look out the window.

Our Father, thank-you for the hope, assurance, and confidence that you never lose control of this universe, this world, and the circumstances of our lives. Fill us with hope in the midst of our exiles. Help us to live faithful lives honoring You inside our disasters.

We Agreed

“We agreed” carried us through the difficult challenges! “We agreed” became an anchor point for everything we did after that.

The decision to move to Hot Springs Village and accept the pastorate at Balboa Baptist Church created a transition in our lives with some painful steps. Transition always produces stress.  Stressful times always stress relationships. The marriage of a “preacher” and his wife are no exception!

But, we agreed this was the wise thing to do.  We agreed this was in the center of God’s will for us. We agreed “finishing well” in life meant moving to the Village.

But then came the ripping and the tearing of buying, selling, and moving . Loss produces grief. A sense of loss came over both of us as we purged. We had to let go of some “stuff.” We sized down. We know now many of you have experienced the same purging, moving, and transitioning!

But we agreed it was only “stuff.” We agreed that none of this “stuff” will matter a hundred years from now anyway!

Agreement solves a lot of issues! Our marriage didn’t survive this little bump in the road, it thrived!

The word “confess” means to agree. Do you “agree” with God about who Jesus is?  It solves a lot of eternal issues. It requires some purging and letting go of some “stuff.”

Our agreement as a married couple to move solved a lot of other issues. But the most crucial “agreement” is between you and God about who Jesus is.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15 ESV

God lives in you and you live in God when you agree with God about Jesus. Do you agree Jesus is His perfect Son risen from the dead? What a thought! What a reality! We are indwelled and surrounded by the God of the universe in personal relationship if we agree with God about Jesus!

Do you agree? This is the most important agreement you will or will not make. It impacts how you live now. It impacts how you spend eternity!

Our Father, we praise you for being a loving Creator. We rebelled against you in our sin. Thank-you for offering to each of us the greatest gift possible: salvation, forgiveness, relationship, redemption, and your presence in us and around us! Father, WE AGREE! Jesus is Your Son, risen from the dead, alive and well, the sacrifice for the sins of the world, and now our personal Savior! Thank-you!

I Love My Dad

He was a strict disciplinarian while I was growing up. Yet he was very generous as well! My Dad is 79 years of age and lives in Glenwood. He takes care of dozens of cattle, plays golf, and goes to the Sale Barn (the cattle auction) every Thursday. He served as a Deacon at First Baptist Church in Glenwood for 40 years before requesting to became inactive due to health issues.

Yes, he generously gave his discipline and his gifts. I knew he had a standard for his oldest son to meet. I knew quickly and painfully when I didn’t meet that standard. Yet I remember vividly on the evening on my birthday one year when he brought home a brand new, red Western Flyer 26-inch bicycle with the plastic streamers coming out of the handle bars, chrome fenders, and lots of shine! Years later, he paid for most of my college and seminary education! So generous!

Yet I remember one little flaw.  He said he would get me a baseball glove when I got a certain age. I don’t remember the exact condition I had to meet to get it. He forgot too. I just remember he promised a new baseball glove. I never got it. A friend had loaned me his old glove. That glove was a good one, broken in, and worked just fine! I used it for years until it was stolen.

That’s such a minor thing now. But as a child, it seemed like a big thing. An adult said they’d do something and it didn’t happen. (Dad, if you are reading this, I love you and hold no grudge!)

But here’s the deal: words can be so fleeting. Promises can be made and so easily broken. Politicians promise all kinds of things and don’t deliver. A parent tells their child something and then forgets to deliver.

So I am greatly comforted by the words of Jesus when he promises that everything He said is true.  Without a doubt, without a forgetful moment, without a flaw, His words will happen!  Everything he predicted WILL come to pass! What an assurance!

Our perfect Savior, our Lord Jesus said:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35 ESV

Our Father, thank-you for sending Jesus. Thank-you for the assurance that every word you spoke through your Son will happen. We praise you for never forgetting what you promise. Our confidence in You grows as we read and meditate on Your word. This planet with its land and oceans and sky will pass away, but Your words will not! Praise Your Name!

Chirping

That cricket on my back porch is chirping loudly and persistently. He doesn’t let up. This has been something I’ve loved about moving to the Village. I can hear the sounds of nature instead of traffic!

Now, back to that cricket. Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup, Chir-rup … The joker’s chirpper just keeps on a-chirping!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV

I was meditating on that verse when I noticed the little chirpper chirping. What an insight! Our believing, trusting, rejoicing, hanging tough, and praying ought to be persistent just like that chirpper!

Rejoice in hope.

Hope is the confident assurance of our salvation and destiny of heaven! Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, Re-joice, …!

Be patient in tribulation.

Patience is being able to see the big picture and hanging tough till the prize at the end is revealed in spite of the troubles along the way. Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, Pa-tient, …! (Thanks Polly for the “Hang Tough” Sunday School lesson this past Sunday!)

Be constant in prayer.

Prayer is communication and communion with the Father in such a way He can tell us at any moment what to do and we do it. We mistake prayer often as only trying to get God to do what we want him to do. Pra-y, Pra-y, Pra-y, O-bey, O-bey, Pra-y, O-bey, …!

So, do some spiritual chirping today!

Our Father, we rejoice constantly that you have provided complete hope and confidence in our salvation through Your Son Jesus Christ! We hang tough with patience in the troubled times of life because we know how it all comes out in the end! We commune with you all day ready to obey at a moment’s notice.

Livers and Gizzards

Where’s your heart? Where’s your head? Where’s your feet? Where’s your elbow? Where’s your eyes?

Perhaps you played this game with your grandkids. When I was a kid, I remember adults playing this game with me. Then to throw me off, they would ask, “Where’s your gizzard?”

Of course I didn’t know what a gizzard was or where it was if I had one or that this was a special part of a chicken which human’s didn’t have.

But isn’t the human body amazing?!

The wonderful complexity of the human eye takes light cast on objects and focuses them onto our brain and somehow enables us to visualize what is in front of us.

The human brain has about 90,000 miles of nerve fiber, about 100 billion neurons, and some .15 quadrillion synapses! I like to think of synapses as little sparkplugs in the brain.

The human brain is so amazing and complex that even the brain of a genius medical doctor struggles to comprehend the human brain.

And take the human hand with all of its bones, muscles, and tendons working together to type this sentence you are reading right now by just thinking it in my brain, causing my fingers to type the right keys and then to hit the backspace key, then retype as I struggle to put into words something I can’t quite express!!!

The Psalmist said it was WONDERFUL! That’s a good word for it.  I think I’ll just stop and think about that. My brain has the capacity to meditate. God gave us that ability. So here goes, meditation commencing…

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14

I Found My Pants!

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 ESV

I’m sure Paul was not thinking about pants packed away in a box when he talked about “groanings.”  But last night I did find my pants!  The one pair I’ve been wearing and Billie Sue has been washing repeatedly can now have a rest.

Life can get very serious at times, even intense. Keeping a light heart in the face of the difficulties of life helps keep it all in perspective for me. If I couldn’t see a little humor in life from time to time, I would go crazy.  There’s plenty of “serious” to go around all the time!

The apostle Paul kept things in perspective. He said that the sufferings of this world are not even worth comparing to the glory we will soon experience! (Romans 8:18)

Even the earth, the rocks, the trees, the hills, the rivers, and lakes, that is, the whole creation is groaning, even yearning for this resolution. The universe is on edge, ready to be set free from bondage caused by sin. (Romans 8:19-22)

And that uneasiness in our own bodies, well it too is a yearning for total redemption.  Yes, we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, but we are yet to see the complete results. Hang on to your hats, there’s a lot more to come! (Romans 8:23-24)

Now back to the present. That’s where we have to live isn’t it. We must live in the “now.” The Spirit is always helping us NOW in our weakness.  Even when we struggle to pray He is there to pray for us. He even expresses our thoughts and feelings to the Father which we ourselves cannot even put into words.

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” Romans 8:26 ESV

Thank-you Father for indwelling us with your Holy Spirit.  Thank-you that The Comforter is always beside us. In grief, sorrow, confusion, pain, disappointment, and obstacles Your Spirit expresses these things to You and You always understand. And thank-you that you even care about the little things in life, like my pants.