CLIMBING, HIDING AND SECURITY!

Do you ever feel like climbing the walls?  We saw a literal example of this several years ago when our grandsons would climb the wall – or rather door frame.

Climbing the walls
Climbing the wall, or the door frame, literally.

 

There certainly is no way I could do that, when I was his age or now (at a significantly older age!).   But, the fact that I cannot literally climb the wall is not an indication that I have never wanted to do so!  Tension, anxiety, questions, financial problems, health issues, decisions, worries, … you fill in the blank for your situation … all pile up and I would want to climb the wall, mentally if not physically.

 

Another response to tension or difficulty is the head in the sand attitude.  In our house, it more precisely should be called the MinPin in the blanket response because each of our canine daughters will go to the blankets on the floor, lap or chair and, literally, wrap themselves up, sometimes with a nose sticking out, but most often they will be totally covered.  [It is rather humorous when they begin walking out of the blanket, it looks like a blanket-ghost going along the floor!]

 

Snickers in blanket
Snickers wrapped in blanket with her nose sticking out, curious about what is going on outside the blanket.

 

I have felt like that too.  “Couldn’t I just stay in bed and not face the day?  It’s too hard, and there are too many problems to deal with, I just don’t want to face it … I can’t!”

 

Ralph Ransom is an American painter from Saint Joseph, Missouri who died in 1908, likely from tuberculosis, certainly struggled with problems.  He said:

“All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.”

 

I would take Mr. Ransom’s statement one step farther.  For the Christian, “the very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid may be a major building block in our conformation to the image of Jesus Christ.

 

In the Christian life, we often find that the time we struggled and had to work hard through a situation or problem was, in fact, the time when we grew the most in our understanding of the love, mercy, and all-sufficient grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

 

Romans 8:29 says:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.”

 

We are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, and sometimes it takes difficulties to bring us into that image.  The April 6, 2016, Presidential Prayer Team devotional, Vantage Point, was entitled the “Master Sculptor” and spoke to the connection between suffering and growth in our Christian life.  In part it read:

A little boy watched a sculptor begin chiseling a large block of marble. The sculptor worked meticulously until the slab looked like the face of Abraham Lincoln. “How did you do that?” the little boy asked. The sculptor said with a smile, “All I have to do is chip away everything that doesn’t look like Lincoln.”

Pain, persecution, stress and accusations are some of the struggles that believers in Christ often endure.  At the time, it may not be known exactly why the Lord has allowed them.  However, the loving Father uses trial to chip away at flaws in character.  He uses great care and thoughtfulness so that the end result will look like His Son.

Thank God, the Master Sculptor of your soul, for His work in your life and His dedication to your future. Whatever difficulties are happening with you personally (and in the nation), practice patience and trust that He will do His work carefully and creatively. Pray also that America’s leaders who are Christians will allow their trials to draw them to a closer relationship with the Lord and conform their lives to His purposes.  [Emphasis mine]

 

When we want to climb the wall, when we want to hide under the blanket, when we just don’t want to face the difficulty any more – turn your eyes to the Father and thank Him for the problem.  Take your eyes off the condition that confronts you and see the One who is in control of that condition.  See the Father working in your life to conform you to the image of His Son.

 

As unbelievable as it sounds to the unregenerate person, thank God for the difficulty and rest in Him to carry you through it. 

 

The reason we can thank God for whatever comes our way is the security that we have in Jesus Christ.

Picture hanging in our office
Picture depicting Jesus as the Good Shepherd holding His lamb in His nail-pierced hand.

 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

Romans 8:35.

 

Paul himself answers these questions in the following verses:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.   

Romans 8:38-39

 

Life in this world is difficult … but we can be confident that the love of Christ will carry us from this world to an eternity with Him.  This world is short-lived and temporary; eternity is forever, which by the way is a very long time!

 

During difficult times we tend to focus on ourselves and our dastardly plight!  But, pull your eyes off yourself and look to the cross … look to the Savior … look to the Father who has you in His hands … look to the Son of God who secures you in Him.

 

Christian, be confident in the knowledge that nothing can separate you from the love of God through Jesus Christ.

 

Nothing.

 

Father, help me to remember that You are sovereign and in control of my life and all that happens to me.  Help me to recall, during difficult trials, that I am secure in Your love because of my Savior Jesus Christ.  Give me strength to face difficult times as I praise Your holy name for the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior.

THE FRAGILE GIFT AT CHRISTMAS

The Presidential Prayer Team devotional for December 15, 2015 is entitled “Shaking Not Necessary”. It is an excellent devotional thought that begins with the Christmas gift exchange experience of shaking the package and wondering what it contained. I would encourage you to read the devotional for yourself, at http://www.presidentialprayerteam.com/devo.

Christmas tree
Decorated Christmas Tree with Presents scattered underneath.

 

When I read the opening paragraph, my mind immediately went back to a Christmas almost 30 years ago when my daughter was trying to guess what her present was. I was wrapping gifts in the bedroom with the door closed and she was on the other side asking if she could “help”. As parents, you would understand that the help being offered was actually an attempt to see if she could identify her gifts early.

 

I declined her invitation and she wanted to know why. I told her I was wrapping her gift and she then began a barrage of questions about what it was, how big, etc.   Finally, in frustration, I told her that she should not bother me anymore because I had to be careful. When she asked why, I said it was fragile and I didn’t want it to fall off the bed while I was wrapping it. She was quiet and I finished wrapping the gift.

 

When the wrapping was completed, I opened the door to find her sitting on the floor, leaning against the door, waiting to carry her fragile gift to the tree. The irony was that this was not her only gift, nor was it the most expensive. But because it was the one that I told her was fragile, it was the paramount gift under the tree as far as she was concerned.

 

She scooped it up, v-e-r-y slowly and with great care. Holding it out in front of her as if it were nitroglycerin and walking with “baby steps” so it would not be jostled. She went down the stairs and arrived at the tree.   After putting the precious gift on a chair, she knelt down and made a space under the tree so that her fragile gift would not touch anything else. Then she placed the gift under the tree.

 

Each day before Christmas she would look at the tree, check to be sure that nothing encroached on the space she had cleared, and her fragile gift was intact.  Her brother would move packages around so they would almost hide THE gift, and she would patiently move everything away so that nothing would harm the fragile gift being given to her.

 

Seeing her concern made me sick at heart. I was proud of her care for the gift, but the reality was that her gift was a just plastic bottle of bubble bath, obtained from Walgreen’s, and it now had the cherished place under the tree. I even asked my husband if we should switch packages and get something that actually was fragile. Holding the course, the package remained.

 

On Christmas morning, it was the first to be opened. And the family had an incredible experience watching her realization that she had been tricked – it was not a fragile gift at all. Even today, if someone mentions a fragile present, my daughter’s cheeks flush and she gets her ire up and the whole story is retold.

 

Clearly, I did not intend to hurt her feelings and I apologized profusely after she opened the package. The statement was made when I was tired, frustrated about wrapping presents, and as attempt to stop her incessant demand to come into the room.  [She did, by the way, get several very nice presents that year, but the only one that is remembered is the giant bottle of bubble bath.]

 

Christmas nativity scene
The Nativity Scene on a cloth that my daughter and I made as well as represented by figurines above, Mary is holding the Babe.

 

My daughter’s gift was not fragile. The gift that God has given us is not fragile either – it is as strong as the Almighty God’s love and mercy.

 

Her gift was cheap bubble bath.  In contrast, God’s gift was not cheap, it was His priceless Son, born as a Babe who ultimately died as our Sacrifice.  God’s gift ultimately provided salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the Savior whose birth as a babe is celebrated at Christmas.

 

The gift at Christmas from God is not a joke. It is not something that looks good on Christmas day but breaks or shuts down the next day.

 

The gift of God is Salvation – eternal life with God Himself.

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

 

Praise the Lord for His grace, mercy and love that was extended to us when Christ was born, and which was completed when Christ was crucified and raised again from the dead. His death atoned for my sin; so the salvation granted by the Lord is, indeed, a gift for which i am eternally grateful.

 

Praise Him, this holiday season. Remember the babe in the manger, but remember too that the babe is our Savior and Lord.

 

Father, thank you for your saving work through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you that you have given us salvation through faith in Christ. Thank you that you have sent the Holy Spirit to seal our salvation and to bring us into right relationship with you. Thank you for your love, mercy and grace. May you be honored this Christmas Season.

HAPPY 239TH BIRTHDAY, AMERICA – WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU.

Yes, I know that today is July 5th and I am one day late for posting about our national celebration of independence – I should have posted this on July 4th.   But I couldn’t do it for a variety of reasons, the most significant of which was that I could not come up with a way to express my thoughts this Independence Day.

Patriotic Trifle
Patriotic Trifle

As a family, we have a proud heritage as Americans. My paternal ancestors came from Germany, and my maternal ancestors originated in England. I am a Daughter of the American Revolution, meaning that one of my ancestors fought in the war for our freedom from the English King. My mother’s sister enlisted in The Marine Corps Women’s Reserve during World War II and both of our fathers fought in that war, surviving by the grace of God so that we, their progeny, would have life and freedom from tyranny. Our son is currently serving in the USMC as well.

When I was a child, there was no need to discuss whether we could talk about God in school or in public arenas – America was identified as a Christian country; thus it was understandable that we would communicate with God, in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ. Today, if you hear the name of Jesus on the television, in music on the iPod, on YouTube, or out in public areas, it is likely being used as a curse and not as the name of our Lord and Savior.

The opening lines of the Declaration of Independence declares that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights,” and we were taught that this foundational document recognized that God was the underpinning of our nation. Today, the “all men are created equal” is much talked about by advocates for change and in the media, but the role of the Creator in our country’s founding is ignored.

I fear that this 239th birthday finds our country’s Christian foundation in serious trouble. Indeed, it seems as though we are trying to eradicate all vestiges of Christianity from its conscience so that America will be turned completely away from Christianity. The argument, in very simple terms, seems to be that, since the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state, the church and especially the Christian’s God must not enter into the equation for resolution of any issue, consideration of any question, or discussion of any policy for the nation, or even for the individual or family. Thus, there can be no prayer to God in schools or at the athletic competition; there are no Ten Commandments in public buildings. The Bible is not taught as a book containing the Word of God … it may be moralistic but so is Aesop’s Fables.

The argument continues that the Christian’s God is not necessary because we are Americans … we can go to the moon or create babies in test tubes. We are independent, fully sufficient for anything … God is simply irrelevant and a waste of time. He is not necessarily dead (a philosophy popular several decades ago) but we certainly don’t need Him around and we really don’t need to worship a deity that is irrelevant.

The building for the Supreme Court of the United States
The building for the Supreme Court of the United States

The catastrophic shift in the accepted point of view was illustrated by the Supreme Court’s recent decision about gay marriage. The decision was hailed as a progressive move by some and was received with saddened hearts by many others.

Symbols of Justice at The Supreme Court Building
Symbols of Justice at The Supreme Court Building

I am an attorney, and I know that a single fact can change the result of a case or the fashioning of the appellate argument can focus the bench in various ways, depending on the argument. Thus, I am not going to analyze or comment on the decision itself.

My difficulty in fashioning my thoughts about Independence Day is based purely on what appears to be the systematic removal of God from our nation’s life.

In an article published on July 4, 2015 in the Washington Post and various other media, including The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee, Newt Gingrich countered “Five myths about the Founding Fathers.” The first myth noted is that our Founding Fathers wanted to have a secular nation. Gingrich cites several of our Founding Fathers who firmly believed that God was the foundation upon which this country rested.

The Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC
The Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC
  • Jefferson who asked: “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God?”
The Washington Monument, Washington, DC
The Washington Monument, Washington, DC
  • George Washington who thought that religion was essential to supply a higher authority for the rule of law. In Washington’s Farewell Address he stated that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.”
  • Alexander Hamilton wrote, “The politician who loves liberty … knows that morality overthrown (and morality must fall with religion), the terrors of despotism can alone curb the impetuous passions of man.” [My own translation of Hamilton’s quote is “when morality and religion are gone, so is freedom because we will have traded freedom for rule by a despot.]

I hate “gloom and doom” thoughts – I know my Lord is Sovereign. Even when I am confused and at a loss for words (which does not happen often, as you can see by the length of this post), He is in control and He has me in His hands, so I don’t have to worry!   But, watching my country turn its back on God is distressing.

In Jeremiah 11:14, when the people were being disciplined for trading God for the idols of the heathen societies around them, God instructed the prophet: “Therefore do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.”

It appears that this is what America is in the process of doing/has done. So, what as Christians can we do?

PRAY!

This is not a cop-out or platitude – it is a call to action. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, God says:

“if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

In James 5:16, we read:

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Prayers by the Christian sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father, through His Son and our Lord, Jesus Christ, will accomplish much for our country.

The Presidential Prayer Team Seal
The Presidential Prayer Team Seal

For your prayer effort on behalf of our country, I would highly commend to you the Internet organization entitled Presidential Prayer Team. It is not a church and membership in their website is free. Here is a quote from their web page about PPT:

We are a national ministry dedicated to a focused mission of encouraging, inspiring and practicing PRAYER on behalf of our President, nation’s leaders and our troops. We also seek to be a catalyst in the development of a robust prayer lifestyle. We do this by finding and PROVIDING tools to encourage prayer – through email, web, mobile phones and other communication tools. Ultimately, we believe that prayer will TRANSFORM our nation, one heart at a time.

The website address is http://www.presidentialprayerteam.com/index.php. Please take some time and look at this website – it offers many historical insights about our country and God, and it identifies specific people and issues to be in prayer about for each day. If you feel led to pray for our country, you can sign up on this site and you will receive information to remind you to pray for America.

The Presidential Prayer Team notes that the Founding Fathers were not all Christians, but they “were firmly committed to biblical morality, to public prayer and praise, and to the conviction that God is the Creator of liberty.”

I challenge you to be a 2 Chronicles 7:14 praying Christian.

Blessings to you and our country.  May God bless America!