Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Laura Story - Blessings

     The song “Blessings” by Laura Story really ministers to my heart each time I hear it on the radio.  The lyrics and the music are absolutely beautiful.   But these lyrics are not just lovely words set to music.  They have a basis in a deep and abiding trust in Jesus.  When Laura and her husband, Martin, had been married just one year,  Martin was diagnosed with a brain tumor.    Most newly weds don’t sit by the bedside of a spouse hooked up to tubes and breathing machines.  Laura watched and prayed as Martin went through surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and dealt with the complications of significant post-operative vision and memory loss.  
This is what Laura said in an interview with Christian Today:  “Life is filled with things you don’t expect, but the Bible tells us to respond by trusting God and continuing to worship him, Martin hasn’t received complete healing - and that can be hard at times when we view God as all-powerful and all-loving. But here we are now saying, ‘Yes, this is how faith works.’ God has proven to be faithful. We have been truly blessed out of a circumstance that at first didn’t seem like much of a blessing at all.”
Enjoy the beauty of the song, “Blessings” by Laura Story.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Let Us Give Thanks

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
     Give thanks in ALL circumstances!  Here we are a few days before Thanksgiving.  Invitations have been sent, menu’s have been planned, impressive tablescapes have been designed (Alright, maybe I didn’t design a tablescape, but one of you might have.)  
    It’s easier to think about being thankful at this time of the year.  It’s even expected.  It’s what we do.  Or maybe not, perhaps your income has declined - or worse been lost in the past year.  Maybe you or someone you love is fighting a serious illness.  Or maybe you are grieving the loss of a loved one.  Perhaps you are worried about total global economic collapse.
     But Paul tells us in this verse that it is “God’s will that we give thanks in all circumstances.”  Seriously, ALL circumstances.  That is not always an easy thing.  But Paul was telling us that God wants us to thank Him even when we don’t feel like it.
     So how can we be always joyful, constantly praying, and continuously thankful?  
     By trusting in the reckless love of our Loving Father.
     Here are a few verses of encouragement.
Psalm 56:3
     When I am afraid, I will trust in you.
John 14: 1
     Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God.
Romans 15:13
     May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 62: 7-8
     My salvation and my honor depend on God;  He is my mighty rock, my refuge.  Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

Psalm 100 
      Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, & we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
     Enter His gates with thanksgiving & His courts with praise; give thanks to Him & praise His name. For the Lord is good & His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations.
     Trusting in God brings hope, and hope makes thanksgiving in all circumstances possible.  Trust and hope that God will take our current situations and work them for good.  May your Thanksgiving Day be prepared with hope and celebrated with praise.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Opus 40

     On Columbus Day Weekend, Pat and I took our youngest three children to Saugerties for our last camping trip of the year.  It was a beautiful weekend and we had a great time. 

    Heading down one set of stairs brought you to a narrow hallway, called the subterranean passageway, that circled around the bottom of the terrace.

      Although open at the top, it was so cold down there you could see your breath.  

     The sun felt wonderful when you emerged into the amphitheater.  
     Patty and Anthony sat down to rest on one of the terraces.   I called for nine year old Connor to join us, but he pretended not to hear me and headed back to the subterranean passageway.  I knew the passage would send him out close to where we were headed so I did not go after him.  On the way to the other two, Pat and I passed by one of the springs, a circular pool completely covered in bright green duck weed.

     Patty snapped a picture of Pat and I.  Looking over her shoulder I could see Connor skipping down the ramp towards us.   All of a sudden, I heard Connor screaming, “Mom! Mom!”  The mom in me registered the cry as scared not pained.  Still Connor was not in sight. I began to run toward where I heard his cries coming from. Even more frightening to me, a man nearby was also running.   It was clear that he could see my son.  Connor was in the icy water of the spring swimming toward a staircase.  The man stepped down the staircase that led into the pool and pulled my prodigal son out.  Connor stood there shivering, soaking wet, with duck weed in his curls, his glasses miraculously still on his face.    My husband snapped his picture. (The man in the red shirt was his rescuer.)

     Now that he was safe, I wanted to shake him, after all this was the boy who wanted to swim at Niagara Falls. 
    “How on earth did you end up in the pool?”   Connor rapidly explained that when he jumped down the staircase he didn’t realize it was water at the bottom.  Connor thought that he would be jumping onto mossy ground.  He was shocked when he found himself in deep, cold, water.  Fortunately, Connor was not injured during his adventure and he had dry clothes in the truck to change into.  We thanked Connor’s unknown rescuer profusely.  

     There comes a time in each of our lives when the ground beneath us slips away.  When our supports are knocked from under us.  When our world is turned upside down.  Suddenly, without warning we are in deep waters, gasping, cold, frightened, treading water and swimming with all we’ve got.  We can’t touch bottom.  There are waters of sickness, poverty, guilt, sorrow, job loss, and  grief.  
If you are struggling in deep water, do not fear, because our Savior walks on water.  
     There is no water over Jesus’ head.  There is no problem that He can not handle.  He is the God who can ransom, redeem and restore.  In His great mercy He gives us beauty for ashes.  And a garment of praise instead of despair.  We can trust Him in the deep waters, no matter what.
Isaiah 43
1 But now, this is what the LORD says— 
   he who created you, Jacob, 
   he who formed you, Israel: 
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; 
   I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 
2 When you pass through the waters, 
   I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers, 
   they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire, 
   you will not be burned; 
   the flames will not set you ablaze. 
3 For I am the LORD your God, 
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; 
     The psalmist doesn’t say that there won’t be trials of deep water.  He says He is our Savior in them. 
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