HOME – WHERE DID YOU SAY IT WAS?

The posts on The Ruminant Scribe have been anything but regular for the past couple of months.  I have diligently tried to post every Tuesday and Friday since I began the blog, and I have been pretty successful in keeping that schedule (apart from when surgery has thrown the calendar into a spin).

But, for the past couple of months, the posting schedule has been shot.  I didn’t want to explain what was coming as I did not want to publicize the fact that we were going to be out-of-town for two months.  No sense alerting whatever malevolent forces are lurking to do harm to the fact that the house would be unoccupied for that period of time.

So, what took us away?  My husband, the two dogs and I went on our 2018 Western Adventure RV Road Trip. 

RV with car
RV ready to roll with Jeep following wherever we go!

The mileage on our motor home when we began was 56,660 miles.  When we pulled into the storage lot 64 days later, the mileage was 61,919.  Thus, after applying higher math to the equation, we had traveled 5,259 miles. 

However, the coach was not the only vehicle driven.  We towed our Jeep and used it at the various stops to visit the National Parks, towns and roadways while the RV was hooked up to the power at the campground.  In short, the Jeep gave us portability that the coach would not have done, so we need to consider the Jeep’s mileage as well.  The trip meter says that the Jeep was driven 1,334 miles during this trip. 

So, the total mileage for our 2018 Western Adventure over the past 64 days was 6,593 miles. 

I am confident that there will be more references to our trip in future blog posts; suffice it to say that for now we are very glad to be home.  This prompted me to think about what Scripture says about home.

One of the most prominent references is where people are simply returning to their home, the place where they belong, the place where they are safe and secure, the place they want to be for a host of reasons.  Consider:

As soon as Rachel had borne Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, “Send me away, that I may go to my own home and country.”

Genesis 30:25

“And Judah was defeated by Israel, and every man fled to his home.

2 Chronicles 25:22

The Lord God was so detailed in giving the Law to His people that He required that a newly married man should remain at home with his wife for one year.

“When a man is newly married, he shall not go out with the army or be liable for any other public duty. He shall be free at home one year to be happy with his wife whom he has taken.”

Deuteronomy 24:5

Scripture speaks of having a place to call home, noting that this even applies to animals:

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.”

Psalm 84:3

After Jesus healed people, He most often would tell them to go to their homes:

“I tell you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.”

Mark 2:11

Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.””

Mark 5:19

And of course we also have Jesus’ words in the parable of the lost sheep:

“And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.'”

Luke 15:6

While we didn’t have a party at the house upon our arrival, we were very thankful for the home to which we returned., and the children did, in fact, have a surprise waiting for us. 

Traveling is great fun with many adventures to have, sights to see, foods to taste, pictures to take and roads to travel.  But there is something heart-tugging about “home”. 

So join me today as we celebrate returning “home”.  We often think of our home in terms of chores – laundry, cleaning, dishes, yard work.  All that is necessary to be done, but for now, I would ask that you think about your home differently.

Think about your own home, no matter what it looks like: whether it be a house, an apartment, a tenement, a bungalow, a cottage or a townhouse; whether it is in a city or village; whether it is huge or tiny; it could even be a motor home that can move to different locations!  If it is the place where you feel secure … safe … loved, then it is “home,” and praise the Lord for it.

In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

John 14:2-3

Home, for the Christian, also includes being with the Lord Jesus Christ for all eternity in our heavenly home.  Praise God for His gracious gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Through Christ’s righteousness, we can have life everlasting in our heavenly home.  Thank Him now for such a marvelous gift that we have yet to experience.

Blessings to each of you.

Father, thank You for the blessing of travel and experiencing new things, seeing new sights, going down unexplored roads.  Thank You also for the blessing of returning home, and for the blessing of Your presence no matter where we are.  We praise You for being with us each step of the way.  Thank You, Lord.

GOT POWER?

(This is a revised version of the post originally posted April 21, 2015)

We were camping when an unexpected cold snap caused some damage to the RV.  Frozen hoses and pipes were identified and then we went to work searching the Internet to find a place that had the necessary parts.   A quick call confirmed that they were open and had the needed parts. So now it was up to us to get there.

Since we were in unfamiliar territory, I pulled out the trusty RV GPS that is created specifically for the intrepid RV camper and put in the address.

Directions GPS

We found the store, purchased the necessary supplies, and began our trek back to the campground when we came to several intersecting roads. In fact, this intersection arrived just as my husband was asking what road we needed to be watching for AND just as the GPS flashed “LOW POWER” and “POWERING OFF”.   Then, it just went blank.  Not even a “sorry” or “I tried” or “You have 1 more minute”.  Just … well, nothing.  It apparently didn’t care if we got lost!

I couldn’t believe it.  In my second of need, it was “powering off.”  My frustration stemmed from the fact that, unlike my husband, I get lost in a paper bag.  I am the one who, in Walmart, will turn left into the main aisle thinking I am going to the checkout lane and wind up in sporting goods at the back of the store.  If there are two directions to select from, I will ALWAYS pick the wrong one.

Anyway, I was the one who had insisted that we purchase this GPS, even though my husband has a virtually infallible sense of direction, simply because I do not.  I wanted to have my own backup plan … assuring myself that we could find our way home if something happened to his directional instincts.  So, we purchased this fancy-dancy GPS thing and now, when he actually asked me a directional question, in my truest hour of need, it is “powering off”.

Inside the car, I went into full scale fume mode, when my husband said simply “We’ll just plug it into the charger when we get back to the RV.”

How simple, yet how profound.  Recharge!  That’s the answer for the electronic messages that had disrupted my day. 

But what about spiritually?  How do we get our spiritual power?  And, when we have exhausted our power, how do we recharge?

In Acts 1:8, Scripture records Jesus as promising that his disciples would “receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” so that they could be effective witnesses for Him. We understand this coming of the Holy Spirit as the day of Pentecost, and because of that day, we believe that the Holy Spirit is within us, as Jesus promised.  John 14:16-17.

But the Holy Spirit’s presence with us is not the whole answer to the “recharge” question.  We must avail ourselves of that power.  I had chargers available at the camp site but the GPS had not been plugged in – now, it was unable to give me the information that I needed when I needed it.  It had no power even though that power had been available.

Likewise, simply having the Scripture in your hand, purse, cell phone or pocket, is not availing yourself of the power which otherwise would be provided. This realization prompted me to consider how often I had ignored going to the Scripture to charge my spiritual batteries.

I had time for many other things, but, I did not have time to quell the growling hunger for my Lord by feeding on the nourishment of His Word in Holy Scripture.  Daily activities took priority over quiet time with Him that would have prepared me for those encounters that He had prearranged for me to handle according to His will, not mine. Ephesians 2:10.

Did my spiritual red light flash “Powering Off” when the assignment came because my batteries had not been charged through reading His Word with contemplation and prayer and then praising Him for His excellent goodness and mercy?

Or, did I not even see the assignment that He had for me that day because my spiritual eyes and ears did not have sufficient power to even recognize the call to present Christ to those around me?

Scripture states that the Spirit and Scripture were given to us so that we would be complete and equipped for every good work that God has for us to do.   2 Peter 1:3 and 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

The kicker is that we must plug ourselves in to the Source of our Power.  Seek the Lord and He will be found.  He is waiting for you.   Deuteronomy 4:29.   Beloved, don’t delay – go to the source of all power and life, Jesus Christ and His Word.

Father, forgive me when I give more time and attention to worldly things and ignore the more important spiritual preparation that I should undertake.  May I look to Your Word continually and seek the Holy Spirit to provide the power to live my life in constant witness of Your love, grace and mercy.

UNPLUGGED – GOOD OR BAD?

We were camping in Charlottesville, Virginia.  It was a beautiful location, with wooded camp sites and quiet surroundings.  It is quite a distance from the city, but we were camping so that was perfectly alright.

What we did not realize is that our cellular provider offered no coverage in the area of the campground.  The city had good cell coverage, but where we were camping there was virtually none.  We were forced to be “unplugged”. 

Now that is likely a good thing.  We are entirely too used to looking at the cell phone or tablet while spending a nice evening next to each other, but focusing on various news stories, books, card games instead of actually spending time communicating with each other.  Perhaps the unplugged status is good after all.

While being unplugged from electronics is an inconvenience, it is not earth-shattering or of eternal significance.  However, there is nothing inconsequential about being unplugged from God.  The stakes for being unplugged from Him are both horrific and eternal!

The ultimate unplugged condition is that of unrepentant sin.  God is a holy God and He cannot and will not tolerate or look upon sin.  As R. C. Sproul says, sin is cosmic treason against God.  It is against His holy nature and, His justice demands that it be punished, eternally.

As Christians, however, we understand that God’s justice has been satisfied for His children through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross of Calvary.  Jesus, our Good Shepherd, paid the price for the sin of His sheep by giving up His life.

He offers us life abundant through His grace and mercy if we are plugged into Him. 

Wisteria blooming vine close up
Wisteria vine stem at ground level, providing nourishment for the plant.

The analogy Jesus uses is that He is the vine and we are the branches.  If we abide in the vine, we will bear much fruit, but if we are not in the vine, we will be cast out and burned. See the Gospel of John, Chapter 15.  We need to be plugged in to the vine for the power to produce fruit for Him. Only through Him can we experience a life that is abundant and fruitful.

Wisteria blooms
Wisteria vine along the front yard fence.

Christianity is a relationship between you and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Neither your parents, your pastor, your spouse, indeed no one, can enter a relationship with Christ for you.  You must receive Christ through the call that God makes on your heart.  It is a gift from God, not of works.  Ephesians 2:9.

While each of us has our own unique call into Christianity, once you are a child of God, the life in Christ is not a solitary experience. Our meeting, worship and fellowship together with other believers provides power and strength, accountability and support, so that you can grow in your Christian life and witness. 

Just as our cell phone needs charging from a source outside itself, our Christian life needs power that we do not have on our own.  Our life charger is not a plug or cable, rather our power comes from abiding in the Vine of Jesus Christ our Lord. 

Are you unplugged?  Need power?  Go to the Cross and repent.  Receive your nourishment from the Vine and you then will be able to be used for the Glory of God and of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Father, thank You for providing power through Your Word, Your Spirit, Your Son.  Forgive me when I fail to appropriate that power for my life and when I try to life a life in Christ through my own efforts or good works.  Give me the power to yield to You solely so that Your Spirit will shine through me.

PRAISE THE LORD

One of the things I love to do while we are camping is to sit outside in the evening/night and listen to the sounds of nature while gazing up into the heavens.   Viewing the stars, which are hidden by the city’s lights at home, is an incredible privilege.   Watching the sun set in the earth’s inexorable travel around it is mesmerizing to me.  Each second of descent below the horizon brings new colors and new beauty.

Sunset over Annandale VA 2
Sunset over Annandale, Virginia

Scripture exhorts us to praise the Lord, In fact, it further exhorts even creation to praise God.

Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars!” 

Psalm 148:3 ESV

Sunrise (C)
Sunrise at Sea

“The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises.”

Ecclesiastes 1:5 ESV

Redondo beach sunset
Sunset along Redondo Beach, California

 “And God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.  And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.”

Genesis 1:16-19 ESV

Super Moon  (C)
Super Moon in Mississippi.

Next time you are outside, whether at sunrise, daylight, sunset or night, look at the heavens and praise the Lord for His glorious graciousness in giving us our beautiful world.

Here is the song  “For the Beauty of the Earth” as composed by John Rutter and recorded on the album Gloria – the Sacred Music of John Rutter.  Let the beautiful tones of the hymn embrace you as you consider the glorious beauty of God’s creation.

 

 

The fear [reverence] of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments; His praise endures forever.”

Psalm 111:10 NASB

 

Father, thank You for making Your creation so incredibly beautiful in its majesty as well as in its finite detail.   I pray that my life would reflect the love of my Savior as the moon reflects the sun.  And may I praise Your holy Name.   I ask this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

A DROP FOR THE LORD ACCOMPLISHES MUCH!

We went camping at Spring Lake RV Resort in Crossville, Tennessee for a weekend away from the frenetic activities that seem to have overtaken us lately.  The campground has a lovely lake with a beautiful fountain and swan, quite the picture.  The Lord brought numerous thoughts to my mind while I was staring, almost hypnotized by the falling water from the fountain. 

spring-lake-island-swan-and-fountain
Spring Lake RV Campground, Crossville, Tennessee. Picturesque and a quiet respite from a frenzied world.

For some reason I thought of the difference between a drip and a drop.  “Not much” you say?  Perhaps not, but there is a nuance that favors one over the other, at least as far as personal characterization is concerned. 

As a noun, the definition of the word “drip” does include the word “drop” but it also includes the words “trickle”, “dribble” and “leak”.  These words reflect, to me at least, some lack of intent … in other words an almost accidental event. 

As a noun, the word “drop” has the definition of “the quantity of fluid that falls in one spherical mass”.  As far as synonyms, the words include “bead”,”globule”, and “dewdrop”.  (I don’t want to be considered a “globule”, but …)

Returning to the fountain, it seems to me that the water sprayed from the fountain and formed drops of water, not drips of water, and those drops rose and then formed an arc when they fell back into the lake.

I further noticed that when the water drops hit the face of the lake, they didn’t just go down into oblivion … rather, they hit the surface and had an effect on the lake, they sent ripples out into the lake.

spring-lake-fountain
Close up of Spring Lake campground fountain and ripples.

 

In other words, the lake was not the same after the water droplets hit the surface.  Each drop had an impact on the lake itself, even though it was small and not all that “important” in the overall scheme of things.  While the ripple from an individual drop may not have been huge, the combination of them reached far out into the lake.

So too, we each can make an impact on our world to the glory of God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit as we reach out and share the gospel story of Jesus Christ and His atoning work on the cross for His people. 

We may not be a great preacher, or an important teacher, or one who has a voice which is heard by millions.  We may be simple folks who love their family, who work in an inconspicuous role at their church, who sing as a choir member but not even as a soloist. 

We may be in the background and think that we are just a small drop, not much to look at and without much effect.  We may even think that we are not important enough or smart enough or loving enough … but if you are a Christian, you are part of the fountain that is the Body of our Lord, and each part is important because Jesus Christ died for each one of His people

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,

Hebrews 12:2. 

Each of us can reflect His love, compassion, and zeal for spreading His gospel to others who need to hear the “Good News”.  That is the race that which is before us and we cannot run it if we are weighed down by sin.

Praise God that when we ask the Holy Spirit to bless our work and then we do what we do to our best abilities, through His power, God will use our efforts and our impact will change our world.  And, I believe, that the “great cloud of witnesses” will rejoice as we fulfill the work that we were ordained to do.

Today, pray that you will reflect Jesus to your world.  Even if you feel as miniscule as a droplet from the fountain, remember that each drop impacts the lake in its own way.  Remember too that you have been chosen by Jesus Christ to spread His gospel to the “world” into which He in His providence has placed you, and He will empower you to do so.

Don’t be a drip — don’t trickle or drizzle around without power or strength.  

Be a drop for our Lord — have an impact for Christ on the people you come in contact with as you live your Christian life through His word His power.  Your effect will be multiplied when you join the rest of the drops as together we ripple through society, spreading the message one drop at a time!

 

Father, thank You for sending your Son to die for my sins so that, through faith in Christ alone, I can join the millions of other saints who will glorify your name throughout all the ages.  I pray that You will guide me as I live my life so that through your power, I will give witness to your Kingdom on this earth.  And, at the end of my days, may I join the “cloud of witnesses” who will rejoice at the coming of your Kingdom on the earth.

 

FOUNTAINS, REFLECTIONS AND POWER

We were camping at a beautiful little campground in Crossville, Tennessee, Spring Lake RV Resort. 

spring-lake-campground
Spring Lake RV Resort, a panoramic view of peaceful campground.

Although the fall colors were not yet in their fullest, it was clear that they would be brilliant very soon.  

In the morning, the cool air held the promise of a beautiful day as we sat eating breakfast looking out at the lake.

 

used-spring-lake-breakfast
Eating breakfast outside with a view of the lake before us. God’s creation is magnificent!

In the evening, the air was crisp, requiring a shawl for me, as Bill and I sat on the swing and looked at the stars through the hanging pine branches overhead. 

One of the most relaxing and mesmerizing sights for us was watching the fountain in the center of the lake that began its work about 9 in the morning and continued, nonstop, until dark. 

spring-lake-fountain
Spring Lake fountain showing droplets plummeting to the lake’s surface.

Having worked on a number of water cases during my law practice, I am well aware of the importance of aerating lakes and ponds so that the water does not stagnate and cause all sorts of problems in the environment.  So I understood the reason for the fountain. 

But having knowledge of the characteristics of lakes and ponds and the variations of fountains and aeration systems did not eliminate the mesmerizing magic of watching the water shooting into the air, of seeing the mist going higher than the water itself, and then following the arc of the water spouts as they turned and plummeted to the lake’s surface.

spring-lake-fountain-and-ripples
Fountain and ripples on the lake from the falling water.

In the morning, as the sun rose over the lake, the fountain became even more hypnotizing when its reflection became apparent.

spring-lake-0648
Fountain spray reflected in the lake.

While thinking about the reflection in the lake, I also thought about how Scripture says we are to reflect the image of Christ to those with whom we come in contact.

We have just completed a 25 week series on the Fruit of the Spirit in this blog.  As I often noted in discussing the fruit that the Holy Spirit wants to grow, nourish and blossom in our hearts, minds and souls, the purpose of the Holy Spirit’s is to transform us into the image of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  In short, we are to reflect Jesus Christ to those we meet during our day.

Paul says we are not to conform to the world but we are to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, see Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

In Romans 8:29, Paul describes the transformation that occurs in the Christian through the Holy Spirit when he says:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

The reflection of the fountain in the lake is not the same thing as the fountain itself.  The reflection has no power of its own; it cannot make an impact on the lake because it is just a reflection. 

Likewise, when we speak of “conformed to the image of his Son” we are not talking about physically looking like Jesus.  Nor do we have any power of our own, like the fountain reflection; we can do nothing apart from the source of our power, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Rather, we are Jesus’ image bearers to our world.  We are to have the same attitudes and spirit of the Lord.  What matters to Him should matter to us.  His response to people should be our response to people.  His sacrificial compassion should be evident in how we treat others, putting their needs ahead of our own at all times. 

But, we cannot do it on our own because we are sinful and God’s way is totally counter-cultural and against the ways of the world.  On our own, we are like the reflection of the fountain – powerless.  We must be transformed before we can do Christ’s work in the world.         

That required transformation comes by the work of the Holy Spirit, so we should cherish the development of the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts because that is evidence that we are growing in our Christian walk.  Then, when we are walking in the Spirit and the Holy Spirit is working on our transformation into the likeness of the Lord, we will be able to impact our world for the glory of God. 

The challenge – don’t be just a powerless mirror reflection of our Lord, one who says words without faith in action; one who does good deeds without telling of Jesus.  Connect to the power of the Holy Spirit and allow Him to transform your heart and mind into the image of our Lord.  Then you will have His power to spread the Good News of the Gospel to those you meet throughout your day. 

 

Father, forgive me when I have failed to reflect your love to others, when I have neglected the needs of those around me, when I have put myself ahead of others on my list of importance!  Transform me from a powerless reflection into the vital image of your Son through the continuing work of the Holy Spirit so that I can be an effective witness of your power, grace, mercy and love.  May I spread your Gospel to others through your leading and your strength.

 

PREPARATION, PROBLEMS AND PROVIDENCE!

When vacation time comes, we plan where we are going, what we will do, where we stay and when we will leave. We don’t plan on having any problems.

We took an RV trip this summer and we prepared for months.  We had the vehicle checked out by a mechanic who gave it a clean bill of health.  We filled the enormous tank with gas, to the happy dance of the gas station attendant.  We charged the GPS and had our campground confirmations stowed in the vehicle.  We purchased food so that the kitchen of the RV was well stocked, the refrigerator and freezer budging, and the counters laden with bread, chips, donuts, etc.  And we arranged to take two of our grandchildren with us while the other family members would join us a few days later.

In short, it was our firm intent to have fun because we had planned and we thought we were ready for anything. … God must have smiled at our childish ignorant arrogance!

RV with car
RV ready to roll with Jeep following wherever we go!

On the day of our departure, it was raining rather heavily but we were going merrily on our way down the interstate, towing the Jeep behind us, heading for Myrtle Beach. We had stopped at a rest area in North Carolina for a break from driving and a time to walk outside and stretch. 

When we began to leave the rest area, my Husband stepped on the brake: no great emergency, he just wanted to slow down a bit before getting onto the highway merge ramp.  The brake pedal went clear to the floor without breaking a sweat and, more to the point, without stopping the vehicle, but we weren’t going fast so there was no danger.   We came to a rolling stop and he pumped the brakes a bit thinking that, perhaps, they had gotten wet from the rain.

Then we slowly started off again, and while there was some stopping power, it was painfully obvious that we had a serious problem.

We limped up to the next exit ramp, which “happened” to have a Cracker Barrel with elongated RV parking spaces.  We pulled in, and came to a stop at the same time I got in contact with a 24-hour repair company I found on the ole’ Internet.  The man said that he would come to assist us as soon as he finished up the job he was currently handling.  So we waited for the expert who was going to identify and then, hopefully, solve the problem so that we could continue on to the campground 140 miles further down the road.

DSCN1810
KOA sign in South Carolina.

After couple of hours, he came in his truck with all sorts of equipment.  The jacks raised the front of the vehicle and, after looking under the RV in the very steady rain, the serviceman climbed out holding the brake line that was in two separate and distinct pieces, a situation that clearly was not good. In short, the brake fluid could not get to the brakes if the brake line was in two pieces!  His telling comment was “It is clear that ‘the Man upstairs’ was taking care of you.”

We agreed with this comment, and further noted that the Lord had certainly been gracious in preventing what could have been an incredibly horrific accident, given the propane gas and gasoline that had just been put in the vehicle’s tanks.

The serviceman exerted heroic efforts on our behalf.  He identified the problem, drove over 75 miles after calling three different places trying to find a hydraulic line that was long enough to install in the RV.  The third place he called had a line that was the right length and the store attendant agreed to stay late that Saturday night to accommodate his after-hours arrival.  Back in the parking lot, he worked until almost midnight to insure that the braking system was completely repaired and working properly.

After sleeping in Cracker Barrel’s parking lot, we got back onto the Interstate and a couple of miles down the road, long before there was any other exit, a sign informed us that there was a 7% downhill grade.  We were heading into the Green River Gorge, where the highway twisted and curved through beautiful, rugged mountains.

downhill grade sign
“Steep Grade Ahead” sign, not actual sign outside Flat Rock, N.C. but same information that we saw after getting back on interstate following the previous night’s brake repair.

Going down that long grade without working brakes would have been … bad, really, really bad.   After reading that sign and after shaking off the chills that ran down my spine thinking of the possibilities of riding that road without working brakes, I looked at my husband and said “Isn’t that just like God … perfect in His timing and provision!  Fixing a problem before we knew we really needed it!”

I should not have been surprised.  Scripture tells us that God will do this.

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

In our worldview, none of this was luck.  We believe that our God knew what was going to happen and He protected us from the injury that surely would have come from driving down the steep highway without brakes in a motor home.

Our faith in God, however, is not a good luck charm nor is it a ticket to a Walmart in the sky!  God is not an indulgent grandparent that allows misbehavior because it is cute.  Indeed, we know that God does not always prevent injury, illness or even death to His own people. He has His plans and purposes above our limited understanding.  The biblical book of Job is an outstanding example of this.

What we do know and believe is that He will supply that which we need most … eternal salvation through our belief in the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.  THAT is what is needful.  All the rest is temporary and fleeting.

The Providence of God surpasses any planning that I could do or even conceive of … He is the Author and Creator of all.  Praise His name for His goodness to His children.  Not just in helping with a broken brake line, but in providing His Son for our salvation, for granting us eternal life, for making us His children for all eternity.

“to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”

Jude 1:25

Thank God for His wisdom and providence as you listen to a song from Truth Sings the Word, as they present Philippians 4:19 in a song entitled “My God Shall Supply”.

Father, I cannot begin to comprehend your omnipotence and omnipresence.  I believe these truths, but I cannot comprehend them.  I know You are with me each moment of the day and that nothing happens to me that is outside your plan, but when You present yourself in such a visible, incredible way, in such a minute activity for an all-powerful God, I am humbled and once again come to you, crying Abba Father.  I love You, I am in awe of You, and I praise your holy name.

STARS – God’s Diamonds in the Sky

I love to go camping. Often, we just sit outside after dark and look at the night sky. We like to do this especially when the sky is completely cloudless and the moon is bright, even if it is not full.  On one occasion, we were several miles from the nearest city so ambient light was not much of an issue, and the stars were exceptionally beautiful.

Millennia ago, the Psalmist had occasion to sit outside and look at the heavens created by our God. His reflections are recorded in part in the Psalms. In Psalms 147:4-5 David wrote:

He [God] determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names. Great is our Lord and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.

Think about it … God, the creator who put the stars in the heavens in the first place (Genesis 1:16), not only created the stars but He has given them names. All of them – even the myriad of stars that we have not yet seen or contemplated. They are known to the Creator God.

As we gazed at the heavens in awe, praising God for His wondrous creation, we thought of Psalm 8:3-6:

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man, that you are mindful of him, and the son of man, that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings, and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet.

 

Stop look listen sign from ebay
Railroad crossing sign featuring the Stop, Look and Listen admonition that was so popular from the 1930s and beyond.

And again in Psalm 19:1 David says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”

In the hustle and bustle of our everyday life, sometimes God seems far away. This is particularly true when we are in the midst of the holiday season. It starts with the Thanksgiving Day feast, and all the family coming and going, with guests and friends stopping by as well. Then there is the decorating, cooking, baking, shopping, gift wrapping and cleaning in preparation for the onslaught at Christmas, not to mention the parties, gatherings, cookie swaps, etc. that require culinary expertise. Christmas day, the celebration of the Lord’s birth, is often almost anticlimactic in that we meet for Christmas eve, we feed the family on Christmas day, somewhere in that time period we open presents both given and received, and then climb into bed thanking God that the holidays are virtually over.

For many people, nowhere in the Christmas cacophony of sounds, events or meetings do they find the Christ Child. Nowhere do they experience the silence of the manger with the sleeping Child resting therein. Nowhere do they experience the awe that the shepherds felt when they heard the angelic announcement of the Babe’s birth. In short, the focus is far from the town of Bethlehem and the Babe who was born that night 2000 years ago. Simply put, many folks don’t have peace at Christmas even though that was the word used when the angels told Mary and the shepherds of the Babe’s coming.

If God seems to be far away from you, you don’t need an RV, camper or tent; you don’t need to go to a campground. If God seems far away from you, you don’t need to do more things, bake more cookies, be more active!

You just need to follow the railroad advice of yesteryear – Stop, Look and Listen.  [The railroad crossing sign shown here is a “cast iron railroad crossing plaque sign stop look listen large heavy sign” as posted on ebay after a search for same on December 29, 2015.]

Stop look listen sign from ebay
Stop, Look and Listen.

 

Stop – all the frenetic activity.

Look ‐‐ go outside on a clear night and look up at the glories that God has given us to enjoy or look at the creative detail in a flower or, better yet, look in on your sleeping child. Look into His Word and read the promises made to you by the God who created all things, including those beautiful stars..

Listen – hear Him speak to you as you praise Him in reverence (awe) and thankfulness for His wonderful works to the children of men, and that includes you and me!

Praise His Glorious Name!

Father, forgive me when I have let the activities and cares of the world overwhelm me. Forgive me when my desire to spend time with you is snuffed out by the loud calls of the world demanding attention. When I am struggling to find you, Father, give me wisdom to Stop, Look and Listen so that I will hear your Spirit speaking comfort, guidance and love into my pacing heart. Remind me, Father, that you are not far from me … if there is a distance between us, it is due to sin of which I have not repented. Give me the strength to repent, and draw me close to you through the power of the Holy Spirit, in the name of Jesus Christ your Son and my Savior, I pray.

CAMPING AND CICADAS – LIVING SLOW AND LIVING FAST!

We were camping at the Panther Creek State Park in Morristown, Tennessee recently. It is a beautiful park, with great facilities including a playground, swimming pool, trails, big fields for soccer or just for running, and beautiful overlooks.

Panther Creek State Park Campground
Panther Creek State Park Campground
Panther Creek State Park Overlook
Panther Creek State Park Overlook

Differing camping styles was on vivid display since there was a tent camping couple immediately next to our RV and a small tent across the street for a family with two children.

Tent camping couple
Tent camping couple
RV camp site with gear
RV camp site with gear
Family tent camping
Family tent camping

It was glorious. Time to relax, to read, to just contemplate the glories of our Lord’s creation. When we had the campfire along with the obligatory s’mores, the two girls from across the street joined in, and later their parents came to tell them it was time for bed, and then the girls’ parents sat down and joined our circle of conversation. What a great way to meet people and share our Christian experience, around the campfire!

At this campground, the RV backed up to the woods and the fireflies in the evening were myriad. Each evening when dusk descended, the chirping of thousands of cicadas was heard, loud and clear, in a way that is impossible in urban life. We might hear a couple of crickets in the backyard: but in the campground woods, the din from the cicadas was positively deafening.

Cicadas. They are an interesting creation of our God and a direct counterpoint to a camping experience – talk about fast living! The 17 year cicada lives underground, around the base of trees in forests and woodland areas, and they dig tunnels in the dirt as their living quarters for 17 years. Then they come out from their underground nursery, after maturing for all those years, by climbing out of “escape chimneys” that they have dug to the surface.

When the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, they receive a signal. The insects rise up and wriggle out of their burrows to take to the sunlight and fly to freedom, well actually they are not so much looking for freedom as for a mate. Then, after 4 to 6 weeks, during which time the males have mated and the females have laid their eggs underground, they die. Seventeen years later, the ritual occurs again, and the beat goes on.

The Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible considers life under the sun and calls it “vanity”. R. C. Sproul and other theologians don’t define “vanity” as being vain or of interest in and to oneself, and it certainly is not a table in the boudoir. Rather, Biblical “vanity” is defined as being “futile”. In other words, the Preacher in Ecclesiastes is saying that life is futile – there is no point to it and it just exists and repeats without any ultimate meaning. That certainly seems to be descriptive of the cicada’s life.

But, whether or not the cicadas are a 17-year-occurring annoyance or if they have a significant role to play in the ecological foundation of our world, it is certain that our human lives are not meant to be played out in such manner. We are not insignificant insects to God, the Creator of thousands of galaxies.

The fact of the matter is that God sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to this sin-sick world. He died for us to pay the price of our sin. If we believe that he died and rose again from the dead, and if we repent of our sins and claim Him as our Savior, by faith we will be declared to be a Child of God.

The Preacher in Ecclesiastes concludes by saying:

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commands, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.”

Ecclesiastes 12:13.

Do you want meaning for your life? There is no secret or magic pill.  To find meaning, just reach out and grab the outstretched nail-pierced hand of Jesus. Fear God and keep his commandments.   This is the whole duty of man and woman!  This provides life’s meaning.  This is fulfilment!

Amen and amen.