we remember

Each Memorial Day, we remember those who have given their lives so we can live, those who have lost their loved ones so we can hold ours close, those who sacrificed their own freedom and safety so we could enjoy ours.

We remember them.

We deeply value their selflessness, the price they paid to secure the blessings we enjoy.  And we honor them by treasuring the freedom and safety they have secured for us, by rejoicing and celebrating a day shared with those loved ones we can hold close.

Each week in the Lord’s Supper, we also remember.  We remember the One who gave His life so we could live – eternally.  We remember the One who gave His only beloved Son so we could draw near to God, and become beloved sons of God.  We remember the One who set aside glory so we could one day be with Him in glory at the Father’s side.

We remember Jesus.

We deeply value His selflessness, His love for us and obedience to the Father that secured such lavish and eternal blessings for us.  And we honor the Father and the Son by living in the JOY of our salvation, with hearts overflowing with thankfulness, rejoicing and celebrating this feast with dear ones who share our love for Him.  We touch the heart of the Father as we hold His Son close in our hearts, as we remember and honor Him.

“Do this in remembrance of Me.”  Luke 22:19

“I am come that you may have life and that you may have it more abundantly.”  John 10:10

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Advertisements

the truly hungry

His name was John.  He was a tall, strong man with a bright round face, salt & pepper hair and beard, and a smile that made his eyes shine through the weariness and the sun exposure that left his nose and cheeks pink and his frame droopy from the heat.

John was homeless.  We met him on a street corner between our rental home and the elementary school the year we moved to south Florida.  He was not alone.  There were several others who would stand on those corners faithfully, day after day, in the baking sun, holding their signs, pleading for help.

Those signs made our hearts ache.  The faces of the ones who held them made us ache even more.  The whole scene was new to us – and startling!  We couldn’t bear to imagine the true depth of their needs, we couldn’t bear to look away.  It gnawed at our insides and we prayed for help to know what we could do!?

Our kids asked me about those people and their signs.  In their kind-hearted innocence, uncomplicated by hesitation or caution, they wanted to act – right away!  They get their intensity honestly from two determined parents, so when they insisted “we have to do SOMETHING!!!” I knew it was time to stop agonizing and be brave!

hungry-please-help

So on one particular day, we passed by a man with a sign that simply read “HUNGRY, Please help.”  We didn’t have anything in the car to give him, so we made a u-turn to stop at the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street.  We purchased a breakfast sandwich, a few donuts, a bottle of water and a jug of juice.  The kids could not wait to drive back to his corner and offer our feeble help to that man.  Their own mouths watered at the thought of sinking their teeth into a fresh donut and they couldn’t wait to share their favorite treats that day!

As we pulled up to the curb, they eagerly rolled down the window in the back seat to say HELLO and to hand the man a bag of warm food.  “We saw that you were hungry and we want to help you!  We LOVE these donuts and we just know that you will love them too!!”  He smiled so kindly and thanked us profusely.  I asked him what his name was so we could pray for him.  He told us his name was John and he would very much appreciate our prayers.  After a brief conversation, the light turned and we made another u-turn to head toward home.

In just those few moments, John had disappeared.  He wasn’t standing on the corner anymore and the kids were concerned.  We finally spotted him on the side of the road, sitting in a shady spot in the grass, eating the food we had given him.  “I guess he really was hungry!” the kids said with a big smile, feeling the deep-down joy of bringing help to someone who couldn’t help themselves or offer anything in return.  “Yes,” I said, “he was truly hungry! I’m thankful for your determination to “do something!” that made me stop and find a way to help him today.”

During the months we lived in that rental home, we put together bags of non-perishable food, bottled water, and a few hygiene items to keep in the car, in case we drove by someone who was in need.  Each time we met someone new, we asked for their name and added them to our list for prayer.  My son, who was only 8 years old, insisted that we purchase a paperback copy of the Bible to place in each gift bag.  “They need to know Jesus, Mom, they need all of His Word, not just a New Testament or a Bible-story paper.”  So we ordered Bibles in bulk and handed them out!

When friends, neighbors or coworkers heard what we were doing, they were concerned.  “It’s not really safe, you know!?”  “Those people are playing on your sympathies, making 6-figure salaries and driving away in their million-dollar cars parked behind the gas station!”  “It’s all a scam!”  “Just don’t look at them and keep driving.”

I can be a bit too trusting for my own good.  But I can’t walk away from someone in need, either.  So I lived with this knot in my stomach.  I certainly didn’t want to put us in danger, but I couldn’t just drive away.  When the Lord Jesus walked this earth, He told us that whatever we do for the “least of these”, we do for Him.  We couldn’t just look away.  But the need was MUCH greater than we could ever meet!

As we prayed for the Lord to show us what to do, we felt assured that it was important to persevere in our efforts, even if we could only provide one meal for one day.  We prayed that He would lead us to those who were truly hungry.  And we prayed that He would help us to be prepared, to give what we could, to follow where He led us and to be faithful in praying for those we met, by name.

We never knew the end of the story for any of those dear people.  Some of them we only spoke to one time.  But we trust the Lord to continue to provide for them, and we pray that they will be drawn to Him!

Through our study of Revelation this year, we were impressed with a very different need – but one that is no less desperate – our need for a Savior.  God used another man named John to write what he saw – the grand plan of redemption – how God sent His only Son Jesus to die for us and restore the relationship with Him that was broken by sin.  All through Revelation God calls people to turn to Him, to repent of their sin, to find salvation and refuge and abundant eternal provision in Him alone.  All through Revelation, there are people who refuse Him, who reject His mercy, cast aside His gracious and abundant provisions, who cling to their own hopes of fulfillment or protection, only to experience devastation and death.

When we see the result of anyone’s choice to reject God, our hearts ache.  We have a pit in our stomachs as we see them grasp at things that continually disappoint them, leave them empty, struggling with no real hope.  We long for them to find true life and peace, salvation and provision in the one and only living, eternally unchanging, trustworthy God.

There are so many around us who do not know God, who claim that they don’t want to know Him.  How can we reach them?  How can we urge them to make a more informed decision?  The need seems so MUCH bigger than we could ever tackle.  Many of them don’t want any help.  They are convinced they are doing just fine.  How can we share God’s truth in a way that sheds new light, touches them deeply and impacts them right where they are?

As I wrestled with this new ache in my heart, I thought of our homeless friends.  There are obstacles in reaching the hungry and the homeless – and obstacles in reaching those who do not know or want to know God.  But it is so important to keep trying.  We can’t look away.  The answer seems very much the same – to pray that the Lord will lead us to those who are truly hungry –  hungry to know Him, to be reconciled to Him, those who are desperate for peace.

We need to pray that the Lord will help us to be prepared – to deepen our knowledge of His truth by studying His Word, to know the thrilling reality of His mercy, grace and transforming power by our own experience so we can’t wait to pass it on!

We need to pray that He will prompt us so strongly that we can’t ignore it – to take the time to stop in our path, meet even total strangers face to face, make a personal connection and offer what we have been given, share our own story of the reality of God in our lives.

We may meet some of these dear ones only one time.  We may never know the end of their stories until we reach heaven one day.  But we can offer the “non-perishables” of His love and His truth on any given day and the Lord can use those encounters to draw people to Himself!  We can faithfully pray for them, by name, whether or not we ever see them again.

We only lived in that rental house a few short months.  When we moved across town, our normal commute didn’t take us past those corners anymore.  Life moved on and I have to admit it has been a long time since we put together any “blessings bags.”  It makes me sad to think about that.  It makes me realize that we still need to be prepared.  We still need to pray that the Lord will lead us to the truly hungry!  [maybe this will be one of our summer projects!?]  And we need to remember that the greatest need of anyone we meet is to know Jesus, to accept Him as their Savior, to experience the abundant provisions He supplies now – and for eternity!

Lord, give us the desire to meet the practical, but more importantly, the spiritual needs of those in our path.  Help us to notice them, take time to make a personal connection with them, get to know them by name, and follow Your example as You walked along side of real people in real life situations – to impact them with human touch and Your words of truth!  Help us to be prepared to offer what You place in our hands and in our hearts to give… and lead us to the truly hungry… one meal, one person at a time!

“ O God, You are my God.  I earnestly search for You.  My soul thirsts for You, my whole being longs for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Psalm 63:1

 Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will not thirst.”  John 6:35

 Read more here! – Proverbs 14:31 – Isaiah 58:7,10 – Matthew 25:35-30 – Luke 3:11 – Acts 4:12 – I John 4:14 – Revelation 1:5 – Colossians 1:9 – I Samuel 12:23

Bread of LIFE

 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

 

that I may know HIM

Wow.  Just wow.  It is hard to believe that months of study have reached their conclusion!  When I’m honest, it is also hard to believe that we actually worked our way through a book of the Bible that has always intimidated me.  It’s difficult to even collect my thoughts, to find some concise take-aways from all we have learned.

But one thing has been a happy discovery… there is really nothing “new” in the final book of the Bible.  Our God is true and trustworthy and He has been sharing the very same things about Himself and His plans for His creation since the very beginning of the Bible – and ALL the way through it!!!  As we have studied Revelation I have experienced light-bulb moments, “oh my!  this is exactly what God revealed to Daniel… or to Ezekiel… or to Isaiah… or to Zechariah… and to Paul… and to John.”  I have to sit back and smile when I realize that I am no different (in some ways) from Jesus’ own disciples.  Some times I just don’t get it.  And He has to show me again… and again… and again.

Despite me being a slow learner, there is greater importance to these truths being continuous through God’s Word.  Our God is eternally unchanging, ever faithful and true.  The consistency speaks to the enduring purity and validity of His Word!  His truth is a firm foundation on which we can confidently stand!  These words are true and trustworthy because the One who spoke them is by His very nature TRUTH itself.

As I think about the very first statement, “the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” I am drawn to Philippians 3:10: “That I may know HIM and the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings.”  Revelation was given by God that we may know JESUS – that we may place our full faith and trust in Him – that we may obey His words and experience true eternal life!

So, who is this One we have come to know with greater depth this year?

Revelation has given me an ever expanding view of the One and only, eternally unchanging Triune God – that I may know HIM as the truly supreme and holy One – that I will not become too casual, that I will respond to who God is with all of my being, accept His offer of salvation and become His joyfully humble servant, always desiring to bring Him glory and honor.

This book is intense.  It does not pull punches or sugar coat truth.  Revelation has shown me the horrors of hell and the complete and unavoidable, utter devastation of the judgment of God against sin – that I may know HIM as the Righteous Judge – that I will understand just how deeply my sin offends holy God, that I may know what Christ endured in my place so that I will never face the true justice against my sin – that I might have a growing sense of urgency to reach those who do not know Him or who have not yet responded to His offer of salvation.

Even in its most severe moments, Revelation has been a story of the boundless mercy of God – again and again – ever reaching, ever seeking to make Himself known to each and every person – that I may know HIM as the One who displays incomprehensible sacrificial Love, the One who loves us enough to go to such lengths to restore a relationship He didn’t break, to buy back the ones He created, to redeem us with the cost of His own life’s blood – that I might be so deeply touched by that love that it transforms me – that I might extend that same mercy to others.

In Revelation, we have seen the power of Jesus’ resurrection – the same power that created and sustains the earth and sky and everything in them – that same power raised Jesus, conquering death – that same power will breathe new life into every dead body, speak a new heaven and earth into existence, restore the purity and beauty of the original creation.  I have been given this glimpse that I might know HIM as the One who triumphs, the One who can use that same power to reach into lives that are broken and hopeless, seemingly beyond repair, and breathe new, redeeming life into them.

To tackle the hold-out places in my heart, Revelation has given me a long, hard look at the lure of earthly beauty, possessions, and accomplishments – and shown me that they inevitably fail, fade, and self-destruct – that I might see the incredible alternative – to choose Christ instead – that I might know HIM as the One who claims me as His bride, the One who will welcome me to trade the heavy, bulky armor I need now to fight off the enemy’s attacks for purest linen white, the brilliance of His presence, the security of His embrace, and the lavish provisions of my adoring Bridegroom.

And Revelation sends me a post card to help me look with longing toward the place Jesus is preparing for me! – that I might know HIM as the One who longs to welcome me Home – to be with Him forever, to behold His glory, to bask in His provisions, to be made new – in the purest form of the person He made me to be – just like Him, reflecting the fullness of the Father’s glory!

This book reveals and expands my view of the One and only holy, righteous, loving, merciful, triumphant Triune God – who is also intensely personal – that I might know HIM as the One who comes close, touches a shoulder, speaks to John in a voice that is loud as trumpets but strangely tender and familiar and says, “do not be afraid, it is I” – that I may know Him as the One who comes close enough to lift my chin, wipe tears from my face, and turn my eyes toward Home!

The Revelation of Jesus Christ was given to me that I may know HIM – that I may be awed by His Person, steadied by His truth, and wrapped in His love!

Read more here! – REVELATION – yes!  do not be afraid… read on and trust Him to reveal Himself to you!

 revelation

the cadence of the Gospel

[A recent study of Moses with shereadstruth.com reminded me of these thoughts at the close of a year-long study of Moses a year ago with Bible Study Fellowship.  It is so good to revisit them and a joy to share them here on the blog!]

Max Lucado says that he runs because he doesn’t like cardiologists.  I run because I like to eat!  Well, the truth is, I run because I like to think… a LOT!  My running days often feel like Moses’ days on the mountain, alone with God.  Free of distractions, my heart and mind can be still enough to listen… and learn!  I burst into His presence with frantic commotion, pouring out my heart filled with concerns and questions, and He steadies me.  He speaks His truth to my heart and I leave His presence different than when I went in.

The other day on my run I found myself trying to decide, out of Moses’ long journey of 120 years, what has impacted me the most?  The early books of the Old Testament include one of the most extensive glimpses into God’s mind and heart… all that He longs to generously and abundantly provide for His people, what He expects from His people in return, and all those arrows pointing forward to His grand plan of redemption… through His beloved Son!

As I pondered various parts of our study, I remembered a quote, comparing the Gospel to a drum cadence… a sure and steady beat that pursues us until it can pulse right through us!  To this day there is nothing like the sound of my high school marching band’s signature drum cadence!  When I hear it, my heart starts beating faster, I feel a surge of pride and confidence and I can NOT be still… it moves me!

The cadence of the gospel is even more powerful!  It will not be silenced.  It is sure.  It steadies us.  It spurs us on.  It brings strength to the weary, hope to the faint.  Sometimes it is the still, small, yet powerful Voice that quiets us with His love.  Sometimes it swells to such a crescendo that we can’t help but burst from the inside, telling His story or springing into bold action as He directs!

The threads of God’s life plan for Moses have felt like that… a sure and steady drum beat, founded in God’s infallible Word, spurred on by His ultimate plan of redemption for His people.  In every situation, God answers with the pulse of His truth:

  • A baby marked for death… But GOD
  • Raised in a heathen palace… “I am the Lord your God!”
  • Running away to the desert… “I will be with you!”
  • 40 years of learning, then a burning bush… a life torn apart so it could be set apart! set apart to know the one true God in unique & wondrous ways. “I have called you by name, you are Mine.”
  • Tongue-tied and fearful… “I will give you My Words – live by them… teach them!”
  • Pharaoh says NO… “I will deliver you! They will know that I am the Lord!”
  • A new nation… “I will give you my laws to live by, worship & serve Me only.”
  • A redeemed people rebels… “I will help you! Teach them to fear & obey Me.”
  • Sin ravages the camp… “Be holy as I am holy! The shedding of blood atones for sin.”
  • 40 years of wandering… “My presence will go with you. I will feed you & clothe you… you will know that I am the Lord!”
  • Victory at last… “I will give you a vision of the promised land! My promises are true.”
  • An earthly assignment ending… “I am the Lord your God! I will be with you!  You will be with Me. Teach the new generation My law, that they may live by it and be set apart by Me, for Me, for only Me!  And then come to your heavenly home, good & faithful servant.”

I remember my brother practicing our high school’s signature cadence… tap tap tapping on anything and everything!  (and leaving indents in our breakfast room table!)  I feel like the study of Moses contains so many principles I need to rehearse and practice.  Keeping God’s Word, His law, always in the forefront of my mind can help me feel that sure and steady beat welling up in me …so I might actually enjoy the practice that makes perfect, that I might leave an indent, an impression of Him everywhere I practice… building spiritual muscle memory so that His qualities are ingrained in me to take over when stress shakes me.  May the heartbeat of His Spirit continue to steady me and renew me when I am not sure what comes next!

So as I wrapped up my run that day, I sensed Him saying to me, “write My truths on your heart, the ones that beat from My heart to yours, and put them on repeat this summer.  Carry that cadence with you always to quiet you enough to rest or to move you enough to act as I lead you.  For I am your God.  I will be with you.  You have been set apart by Me, for Me, for only Me… to know Me in unique and wondrous ways and to point others to my eternal plan of Redemption… my beloved Son, Jesus.”

Read more here! – the early books of the Old Testament: Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy – and specifically, Exodus 20:2 – Isaiah 41:13 – Exodus 3:12 – Isaiah 43:2 – Exodus 33:14 – Exodus 6:6 – Deuteronomy 14:2

cadence