Archive | November 2015

Food for Thought — Gracias, Dios!

I was remembering, the other day, a Thanksgiving I celebrated six years ago down in Cuenca, Ecuador.  It was a fun, busy week with a birthday “tea” Laurie put on for me with all the Naranjo ladies and girls; a traditional American Thanksgiving feast we cooked together for their extended Ecuadorian family; enjoying an early Christmas with my precious grandchildren, and sharing in a couple of opportunities to serve the Lord down there.  As I read the blog I wrote back then about that time, gracias-dios-3it refreshed my memory of a wonderful experience I had with some sweet sisters in Christ, and I pondered again the joyful, tearful blessing we experienced together.   

In case you did not get enough on your plate the other day, I would like to share an abundance of food for thought from that time on your spiritual platter.  Here is a helping of what I shared back in November of 2009—enjoy!


Thank you, God.  Simple words.  Easy for us to say, right?  I know you, like I, sincerely say those words every day from hearts overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for all His blessings in our lives.  We know that we have much more than we need or even deserve.  We know that we have more than most of the world. We know that it all comes from Him.  Thanksgiving Day is coming up, but I am ever-mindful of God’s blessings upon our lives and try to live as if every day was Thanksgiving Day!  This year I know my eyes will be open even more to how truly blessed I am for I will be celebrating Thanksgiving in a third-world country.

I will be in Ecuador by this time next week.  Excitement doesn’t even begin to describe how I am feeling right now! I finished the last book I was writing, most of the shopping is done, and I’ve actually started the packing.  One by one, many of the things on my lists are being crossed off.  There is still one thing on my lists, though, with which I am struggling.

While I am in Ecuador, I will be speaking to the ladies at Laurie’s church.  I have been giving some thought to that for weeks now, and asking the Lord to give me the right words to say.  Two things have been going through my mind to bring to them.  One is that we are sisters in the Lord, and that I, as well as the women in my church and family who have been praying for their church, truly love them as sisters because of the fellowship we have in Jesus.  The second thing is to speak about giving thanks to God, referring to our American holiday of Thanksgiving.  Somehow, I want to intertwine the two into a message that will be relevant and a blessing to each of them.

The thing I am struggling with is something that is common to all American missionaries, I am sure, who are trying to reach beyond the cultural and economic divisions to speak to the heart of people who are so different, so much poorer and who often have no hope of anything better in this life.  How do I speak about being thankful for the homes God has given us, for example, when many of them live in nothing more than a tiny shack and wash their clothes in the river?  How do I speak about being thankful for the way God provides for us when I (obviously) have too much to eat, and they are lucky to live on rice and beans and little else day after day and year after year?  How do I speak about being thankful for family when many of them live with husbands who beat them, or who have no husband because he walked out on them and their children many years before, leaving them destitute and struggling?  How do I speak about being thankful for religious freedom when for centuries they have lived under the oppression of a church who has ruled with an iron fist of fear and persecution for those who stray from her shadow, and who even now see their government, as well, slowly but surely turning towards communism and the eventual persecution of Christians?

Are not God’s promises as true for them as they are for me?  Of course, they are.  He promises to supply all our needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).  He promises that just as He cares for the flowers of the fields and birds of the air, He will care for us (Matthew 6:25-31).  He promises that the vary hairs on our heads are numbered (12:7); that He knows us each by name better than we know ourselves (Psalm 139:17).  The differences in how the Lord provides for us as Americans compared to most of the rest of the world is vast, and in some ways is a mystery to me when I know that His promises are the same to all believers regardless of where or when they live.

All I can think is that we are blessed in earthly abundance far beyond what our actual needs are.  Perhaps it is because of the way this nation was founded on the premise that we would follow after God and His principles.  Perhaps it is because this nation always has blessed Israel and He promises to bless those who bless Israel.  Whatever the reasons for God’s outpouring of earthly blessings upon us, when so many of his children in other countries suffer, we know that He is just and loving and we simply need to trust that He is in control and knows what is best for each of us.  And who is to say if all our earthly abundance is the best thing in the long run?  Are we as strong spiritually as we would be if we had to suffer for our faith as many do around the world?  Are we more or less dependent on Him alone in our abundance here in America?

You can see my dilemma, I think.  I almost feel I will be ashamed to stand before them and speak on giving thanks when I have so much more than they when it comes to earthly blessings.  Praise God, though, He has blessed Ephesians 1us all with far more than these temporal things!  Here is just a partial list of all the things for which we can thank the Lord:

That before the world began He had a plan for me – II Timothy 1:9 – Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.

He loved me enough to die for me even though I was a sinner – Romans 5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

That I am a daughter of the King – Psalm 45:13 – The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

God’s righteousness and holiness – Psalm 7:17 – I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

All God’s marvelous works – Psalm 9:1 – I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.

My body – Psalm 139:14-16 – I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

God’s guidance and instruction to me – Psalm 16:7a – I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel…

The hope God has given me – Psalm 16:9 – Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

Salvation – Psalm 16:11 – Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

God is great and worthy of praise – Psalm 48:1 – Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.Blessings

When I was in trouble, God heard my cries for help – Psalm 18:6 – In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.

Deliverance – Psalm 54:7a– For he hath delivered me out of all trouble…

Mercy and kindness – Psalm 100:5 – For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

For not staying angry with us and not giving up on us – Psalm 30:5 – For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

God’s blessings and benefits – Psalm 68:19 – Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.

God’s power – Psalm 21:13 – Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.

His faithfulness – Lamentations 3:22-23 – It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

For the strength and confidence God gives me – Psalm 56:4 – In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

For listening to my prayers – Psalm 28:6 – Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications.

God’s Word – Psalm 119:105 – Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

For being truthful – Psalm 117:2 – For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.

For filling the earth with His love and goodness – Psalm 33:5 – He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

He is always thinking of me – Psalm 139:17-18 – How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

God’s spiritual blessings far outweigh His earthly ones, don’t they, and they are eternal!  Those women in Cuenca, Ecuador are just as much the daughters of the King as I am and every bit as rich in spiritual blessings!  My earthly blessings could disappear in an instant, but these far greater spiritual riches are the true things for which we should be praising God this Thanksgiving.  They are not all about us – my provisions, my protection, my health, my needs –- but many of them are all about who and what HE is!

And one of the special spiritual blessings for which I will be praising and thanking God this year is the fellowship we have within the body of Christ as one family, brothers and sisters in the Lord for all eternity.  I am looking forward to worshipping with my Ecuadorian sisters in the next couple weeks.  Can you imagine the joy when we are gathered from every tribe on earth into His presence to worship the Lamb who was slain for our salvation – together as one family for all eternity?

That is the message I want to bring to my sisters in the Lord.  Thank you, Father, for making me your child, a joint heir to all the riches of heaven through Jesus Christ, and a part of Your family for all eternity! You can’t get any richer than that! Gracias a Dios!


I Vote for the Goat!

No, I am not speaking of any of the current candidates for the presidency!  (Although, in my humble opinion, there are one or two who qualify as old goats!)

It was my turn Thursday night to host our monthly dominoes club.  There are eight of us, all from Lake Hills Baptist Church, who get together to chat, laugh, nibble on snacks and indulge in pizza and dessert, and yes, play “Mexican Train.”  We call ourselves, tongue in cheek, The Dominoes Divas—but we are anything but divas!  We’ve been doing this for fourteen years—since Robbie got sick back in 2001 and my friends wanted to bring some fun into my life during the time I was very house-bound and going through some heavy trials.  Since then we have grown close and love one another; sharing the burdens and the joys and praying for one another.  We look forward to getting together each month, although I must confess, I have much more fun when it’s at someone else’s house!

This time, though, it seemed like it was extra fun and loud—really, really loud!  I’m not sure what made it a little more special this time, but I know what made me happy.  “Let’s talk about what we want to do next month for our Christmas party,” someone suggested.  “Are we doing little gifts for each other or…?”

“Well, we talked about doing something from the Samaritan’s Purse or Compassion catalog instead of giving gifts,” one of the other gals said.  “Do goatwe still want to do that?”

“YES!” a unanimous chorus resounded in the space of a heartbeat.

We were excited!  What should we get?  How much did we want to give?  Cheree ran out to her car to get the catalogs she just happened to have out there.  When someone suggested we could get a goat—well, that was all it took!  “I vote for the goat!” we all said in one accord—and all laughed like we were the most clever folks on earth.

We started collecting right then and there and discovered we had enough to get not only the goat but some baby chicks and blankets, too!  Then we made Goat_2_Chickens_D4041317another decision—we would make this our new Christmas tradition, and not only that—from now on, when we throw in our $5 for pizza each month, we’ll each throw in another dollar or two so that next year we can more than double what we did this year.  How fun!   And what a blessing—to us and, we pray, to someone else.

It is sobering when we think of what this little bit means in the life of a few very poor people somewhere in a very poor country. We take for granted a night of fun and games, plenty of food in a warm house—an easy life.  For millions—no, billions—around the world there are no fun and games nights, no table heavily laden with food, or even a warm, secure, home.  Children go to bed hungry and cold; they join their parents in trying to eke out a meager living in a hard land; they face a future that is as bleak as their present.  Here is what Samaritan’s Purse has to say about these simple, inexpensive gifts and the difference they can make in a family’s life:

 When we provide families with dairy animals, we give them a daily source of milk rich with protein, calcium, and vitamins that are especially important to growing children. As herds grow, they can be sold for incomegoatkid or given to neighbors in need. Most importantly, as our teams offer training and basic veterinary care, we build relationships so we can tell them how they can have eternal life in Jesus Christ. Your gift will enable us to provide a goat or other dairy animal to a family in need.

goat-chicksGod’s compassions “are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). So are fresh eggs, for families who raise chickens supplied by Samaritan’s Purse. Your gift of will provide 12 chicks or other poultry that will soon lay enough protein-rich eggs to feed a family, with enough left over to sell or trade at market.

 It’s hard for us to even imagine what it’s like for children and families who have to sleep outside after a storm, earthquake, or other disaster. When it’s shivering cold and pitch dark, a snug blanket can help you get through the scariest night.  A warm blanket is often an overlooked necessity for those suffering from war, disaster, or illness. Help wrap someone vulnerable—such as a sick child, an expectant mother, a disastergoatblanket survivor, or a refugee—in a clean, durable blanket.  This simple gift can serve as a tangible example of the Savior’s love that surrounds us every day.

Back in 2009, Bob was laid off from his job.  It is very tempting when something like that happens to be fearful and worry how the bills would be paid and food put on the table.  The very day, however, that we received the bad news, we received something else as well—our very first Samaritan’s Purse catalog.  As I flipped through its pages, I knew immediately the Lord was speaking to me.  I could hear Him clearly saying, “You see – you have so much compared to the rest of the world, Cindy! You have a warm roof over your head. You have food on your table – too much food. You have clean water. You have health care available to you. Even without a job now, you and Bob have help available to you and you will get through this. You have the love and support of family, friends and your brothers and sisters in the Lord. You have My Word freely and abundantly available to you! And greatest gift of all – you are My child through the salvation freely given in Jesus Christ! Do you see how rich you are? Do you see how I have blessed you?”

 What a comfort and blessing and reassurance those words were to me!  And yet, as I looked through that catalog, as much as I wanted to give back through some of those items to others in true need, I could not see how we could do it just then with no job or income.  I began to be under conviction, though, for the Lord had something more to say to me:

  • Give to these who have nothing EVER.  NOTHING day after day, for year after year.  Give out of gratitude for all that you have even in your poorest moments.
  • Give out of faith that I will provide your needs and even many of your wants for as long as it takes. Depend on Me – not job security.
  • Give because you love Me and I have commanded you to give to those in need so that they may see My love in their lives, as well.
  • Give beyond what you are giving now. Give and watch Me give back – watch with excitement and expectancy! You cannot out-give Me!

I wrote this six years ago, not looking for praise for ourselves, but as a praise to the Lord, and as a reminder to all of us to take the focus off our own problems and seeming “lacks,” and rather remember how truly blessed we are and that out of our abundance, we can surely give a little more.

I shared back then some of the Scriptures I found in that little catalog.  This is just some of what God’s Word has to say about giving to the poor and needy:

  • But you see the trouble and grief…The helpless put their trust in You. You defend the orphans. (Psalm 10:14)
  • Help Him to defend the poor, to rescue the children of the needy. (Psalm 72:4a)
  • He will rescue the poor when they cry to Him; He will help the oppressed, who have no one to defend them. (Psalm 72:12)
  • or He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. give to poor(Psalm 107:9)
  • But You are a tower of refuge to the poor, O Lord, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. (Isaiah 25:4a)
  • He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18)
  • Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress. (James 1:27)

We will celebrate Thanksgiving Day this week and enjoy the abundance with which God has blessed us.  I know we will be thankful as we count our blessings—as we ought to be each and every day throughout the year.  Let it be a reminder, as well, that billions of souls out there in a dark, hurting world do not share in our abundance.  They need to see the love of God through us.  At this time of year when it seems the money just won’t stretch far enough, we can all find a way to dig a little deeper and give a little more.  Jesus said, “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’” (Matthew 25:34-40)   I love to give to Jesus, don’t you?

Give thanks…Give a goat…Give the Gospel…Just Give.


Check out the Samaritan’s Purse Gift Catalog: 


The Compassion International Gift Catalog


Oh, My Aching Feet!

She hobbled around the house, limping and shuffling and lurching her way slowly out to the kitchen to prepare supper.  She groaned as every inch of her body throbbed with aches and pains, and whimpered with every step.  Poor little old lady!  Wait—that’s no old lady!  That’s—me!

Well, I’m kind of old (I am the grandmother of thirteen beautiful kids, after all!), but not that old!  If you know me well, though, you know that I am a klutz.  I’ve never broken an arm or a leg—but I think I’ve broken just about every one of my toes—some of them two or three times!  My family likes to tease me about my short, stubby toes (they all have long, slender toes—the kind that could actually pinch you!  I know from experience!)  Somehow, feethowever, those chubby, nubby little piggies manage to catch on everything.  And when it’s not my toes, it’s my feet, slipping on ice more than once, resulting in nasty sprains, or falling down stairs or—well, you get the picture.

My foot issues are not always due to accidents, though.  I’ve suffered with swelling, painful feet since I was 18 years old.  I got plantar fasciitis two weeks before my first trip to Ecuador, and if you’ve ever known anyone who has had that, you know how excruciating that can be.  The last few years have produced nerve pain and numbness.  *Sigh*  Yes, I spend a great deal of time dealing with foot problems and hobbling around like a little old, really old, lady.

I don’t even know what I did this time.  I just know two weeks ago I somehow hurt my foot.  I ignored the twinge I first felt and went shopping anyway.  By the time I got home I could hardly walk.  I’ve tried to baby it since then as much as possible, but yesterday I went shopping again.  That little old lady I described above?  That was me last night.  My foot was screaming.  My other foot joined in a duet, and that hip ached as well from putting more weight on the opposite side in order to cosset the injured foot.  My back writhed in protest from walking crookedly.  My head hurt and my spirits plummeted.  It was a vicious chain reaction.

More than 400 years BC, the Greek philosopher Socrates said something feet socratesquite profound, When one’s feet hurt, one hurts all over.”  Well, duh.  I’m sure we’ve all been there, done that and it doesn’t take a Greek philosopher to point out that little nugget of wisdom.

The Bible, however, does have something to teach us about the connection of feet with the rest of the body.  I Corinthians 12:12-27 says, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”

You see?  “…if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it…” I have it on Biblical authority—when your feet hurt, everything hurts!

Ok, I’m being a little facetious here.  Of course this passage of Scripture is onebodylikening the Body of Christ, which is the Church, to our human bodies.  Our bodies are made up of many parts—feet, of course, hands, eyes, ears, heart, lungs, brain, eyelashes, fingernails…  Big parts and little parts—they all have a purpose and work together for the good of the whole body.  God’s creation of the human body is amazing—awesomely and wonderfully knit together by Him.  (Psalm 139:14)  His creation is varied, too—no two bodies are exactly the same.  Some are more athletic, some more intelligent, some sing better than others, some have business sense and others don’t.   Each one is loved by the Creator, though—so much that He gave His Son to be our Savior.

His creation does not stop there.  I Corinthians 12 tells us that, like our physical bodies, the Body of Christ—the  Church—is His creation and made up of many parts.  Every believer in Jesus Christ is a member of that Body and each member, no matter his gifts or ministry, race or background, is a valuable and necessary and equal part of the Body.  He has made us one body, bound together by the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ.  The following verses (vs. 27-28) enumerate some of the diverse ministries and gifts with which He has blessed the individual members of the Body.  We are each one  called by Him to use those gifts and abilities with which He has blessed us, whether great or small, for the edifying  and encouragement of the whole Body—building up the Body, strengthening it and enabling it to fulfill the Great Commission to which Christ has called us.  (Matthew 28:18-20)

one bodyYes, I Corinthians 12:26 says, “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it”, but it goes on to say, “if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. The apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome a similar message about being one body made up of many parts and blessed with diverse gifts in Romans 12:3-8, but then he went on in verses 9-21 to instruct how we ought to treat one another within the Body, and even those without.  “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Let us be open to other members of the Body, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep.  Be at peace with others.  Respect one another.  Be humble.  Overcome evil with good.  Bless those who persecute you.  Love and honor one another.  Be diligent, fervent and persevering.  Rejoice in hope.  Pray, pray, pray.  Be charitable, helpful and hospitable to one another.  We build up the Body of Christ when we use the gifts and abilities God has given us in His service.  We make it healthy and happy when we exercise them with love for one another.

I can’t wait for my new, glorified body with feet that will never hurt again!  Until then, I may limp along physically, but I pray that spiritually I will continue to run the race without faltering!

'There's why your feet hurt: You have candy corns!'

Thank You for Your Service

Our son-in-law David retired from the United States Air Force this week. After more than twenty years of serving proudly in our nation’s space and missiles program, he is hanging up his uniform and will soon embark on the next phase of his life’s journey.  He carries with him a long résumé of impressive credentials—a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, two masters degrees in rocket science (don’t ask me the long technical names because I don’t know them, let alone begin to understand them!), the rank of lieutenant colonel, a tour in Iraq, and an extensive list of accomplishments that would boggle the minds of ordinary citizens like you and me.

The Air Force honored David with a ceremony on Friday. According to Julie, there was all the pomp and circumstance, complete with an Honor Guard and all, to make it impressive, but the ceremony still had enough of a friendly, informal feel to allow them to feel comfortable and enjoy it.  David was allowed to choose the location, and rather than an auditorium or other indoor location, he chose to have it in a lovely, rustic pavilion at a beautiful park there on base.  The Air Force brought in a podium, chairs and tables and flags, and two special chairs for David and his colonel, who had flown in from Colorado for the occasion. David and Julie chose to keep the refreshments served after the ceremony very simple—hors d’oeurves, cake and punch.

They were able to fly David’s parents in from Connecticut, and all of their six children joined in celebrating the occasion, as well, along with about forty other people.  Benjamin played our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, on the accordion.  Hannah cried during the part of her dad’s speech when he spoke of the pain in leaving his family to go to Iraq.  And baby Josiah took no notice of the solemnity of the proceedings and entertained them all with his happy babblings and tossing his pacifier halfway down the aisle.  I’m sure there aren’t many retirees who would have a one year old son present, anyway—grandson, maybe, but not their own son!

David was awarded another medal and a number of certificates honoring veterans-day-thank-you-2015-5him for different achievements, as well as our nation’s flag after a special flag-folding presentation by the Honor Guard. Julie received some certificates also, and David gave her flowers, and each of the kids small gifts in honor of their sacrifices during his time of service.  Julie presented David with an officer’s sabre, engraved with his name and years of service, and the children gave him a shadow box displaying his medals and with a space for the flag he had just been awarded.

Perhaps the greatest surprise was the manner in which David’s colonel spoke of him during the ceremony. After going through the long, remarkable record of David’s accomplishments in the Air Force and commenting on how he had always been at the top of everything he set out to do, the colonel began to speak of David’s personal life.  Now, the colonel, David’s boss, was stationed in Colorado, more than 1200 miles away.  They periodically got together for Air Force business, but their time was short and just that—all business.  David had told Julie several times that he thought that his presiding officer might be a Christian, but they had never been able to speak about such things so he did not know for sure.  In this day of “political correctness” and how, more and more, the military is being forced to take an anti-Christian stance, it came as a surprise, and really touched Julie and David’s hearts, that his colonel came out and spoke so forthrightly.

David and Julie, he began by saying, had met at a Bible study. He spoke of David’s outstanding character and that he was a godly man who always put God first in his life, his marriage and his family.  “You can believe what you will,” he said, “but it is easy to see that the blessing of God is upon David for his faithfulness, and upon his family.”  He touched on the adoptions in their family and likened them to the adoption into God’s family of all those who believe.  What a testimony coming from this man in this setting—and apparently what a testimony David’s life has been throughout his years of service in the Air Force.


David is a young man still. He just turned 42 yesterday—young enough to start a whole other career and retire from that someday down the road!  It will be exciting to see where and how God will lead him in this next leg of his life’s journey.  David and Julie have talked for years that they would love to go into some sort of orphan ministry after he retired from the Air Force if the Lord should so lead.  It could be that perhaps He will simply have them opening their hearts and lives and home to more “orphans” in joining the three they’ve already adopted and the three natural siblings who have so generously shared their mommy and daddy with others.  Whatever the case may be, the Lord has promised that He has David’s future, and that of his family, under control.  Psalm 37:3-7a, 18, 23 reads, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.  And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday.  Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him…  The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever… The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.”

Hearing about David’s retirement ceremony and reflecting on his life made me think of the day when we who have believed and followed Christ will stand before His Judgment Seat when our work on earth is done, to give an accounting of how we have used our lives for Him. Not to be confused with God’s Great White Throne of Judgment, where the unsaved will find that their names are not recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life because they never trusted Jesus as their Savior and are cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity (Revelation 20:11-15), the Judgment Seat of Christ is for Christians, and will reveal the works they did for Him after they accepted salvation and be rewarded for them, just as David’s accomplishments in the Air Force were acknowledged and rewarded (I Corinthians 3:10-15; II Corinthians 5:10). And just as David’s boss gave a good testimony of the godly man and Christian example that David had been throughout his years of service, it will be our joy to hear our Lord say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:21)

As you might be able to tell here, we are very proud of David, not only for the awesome achievements he has attained in his career in service for his country, but also for the tremendous example and testimony he has been for Jesus Christ in an ungodly world. We honor him, and give the glory to God for his life.  This week, November 11th, is Veteran’s Day.  We also honor all the men and women who have served and/or are serving our nation.  They deserve our honor, respect and gratitude.  Freedom is not free, and this is the land of the free because of the brave.  Some have paid for their service with the loss of limb, health and even their lives.  We are grateful that the Air Force recognized David in such a fine manner.  He is a humble man and would never draw attention to himself, so it is nice to see him receiving praise from his peers and superiors—and his in-laws!  May we remember to have the same attitude of gratitude for all our vets—not only on Veteran’s Day, but always.


Of All the Things I’ve Ever Lost

I couldn’t help thinking about the parable of the lost coin.  I had several errands to run on Friday—mail a few things at the post office, make a deposit at the bank, drop off some things at the cleaners, and go to the grocery store.  Before I left, I sat at the dining room table writing out birthday cards and checks to go in them and getting my deposit ready to go.  Bob had something to go to the post office, too—a box he was sending to a client—and he stood at the table getting it ready to go.  When he was finished he brought in the mail that had just been delivered and sorted it out there on the table next to me.

I had just completed the deposit slip when the phone rang. As I chatted with my friend Marilyn it crossed my mind that I needed a paper clip for the two checks and deposit slip.  I remembered seeing a paper clip on the nightstand next to my bed.  I headed for the bedroom, and as I talked with Marilyn, wandered around the house doing this and that.

My phone call over, and my work at the table done, I finished getting dressed and made lunch for Bob and Robbie. I was in a hurry.  Bob was sick and I wanted to get the errands run and come home again as quickly as possible so that he wouldn’t have to do much for Robbie while I was gone.  At last, I picked up my purse and the things going to the post office and cleaners, and left.

I was still sitting in the garage when I suddenly thought, “Where is the deposit?” I looked through the mail on the seat next to me.  It wasn’t there.  It wasn’t in my purse, either.  Great.  I went back into the house, expecting to see it still on the dining room table.  Nope.  Checked my bedroom to see if I had left it there when I went after the paper clip.  It wasn’t there, either.

“Bob, I can’t find the deposit!” I said, perplexed and a little worried. It was more than $2500.  How could I have lost it in the span of an hour?

“Where did you leave it?” he asked. Uh, if I knew that I wouldn’t be looking for it.  He joined me in the search.

We looked everywhere, scouring the house.  It had to be there.  We went back out to the car, emptying the bag of laundry going to the cleaners; checking through the mail meant for the post office again.  The mail.  Uh, oh—did I accidentally put the deposit in one of those sealed envelopes?  We carefully opened each piece (including four greeting cards which left them looking a little worse for the wear), but it wasn’t there.  Bob opened the box he was mailing, slicing through the mile of packing tape he had used.  Not inside the box.  He went through the big stack of mail that had just been delivered and he had sorted out on the table.  Nothing.

I was really getting worried by that time. We started over again, checking Lost mindand double-checking on one another in case one of us just wasn’t seeing it. By that time, I wasn’t just worried about the deposit, I was worried about my mind!  Was I getting Alzheimer’s?  Why couldn’t we find that stupid thing?  Actually, I felt like I was the stupid thing—and old. Of all my senior moments, this one was really a doozy–$2500 worth of doozy.

We started looking in all the unlikely places—the refrigerator, microwave, garbage, under the bathroom sink—in case I really did do something Alzheimer-ish with it.  By that time I was crying, and I must confess, secretly hoping it had been Bob’s senior moment, and not mine, that had caused the disappearance of the deposit!

We prayed about it.  Lord, open our eyes! We called my mom and daughters, insanity-211x300asking them to pray with us.  And we kept searching, checking the same places, two, three, five times, in case somehow we had just not seen it.  I re-opened the greeting cards, making them appear even worse, just in case I hadn’t looked in the envelopes thoroughly enough the first time!  You know what the definition of insanity is, don’t you?  So I was either insane or losing my mind.

It had been almost three hours that we’d been searching non-stop when finally Bob said, “Well, just go run the other errands.  Our brains are too frazzled now.  Maybe we’ll find it later when we have fresh eyes.”  I gathered up my purse, the things going to the post office and cleaners, and headed for the door.

Suddenly the thought crossed my mind, did you check the wastebasket in your bedroom? I didn’t remember doing that, so I reversed course and went to look.  There, in the bottom of the empty wastebasket, was the deposit slip and two signed checks.

Relief—but bittersweet relief. I had absolutely no recollection of going anywhere near that wastebasket, let alone throwing the deposit away.  So it was my senior moment and not Bob’s, after all, and that didn’t make me feel too good—but praise and thank the Lord!  The lost was found!

While we were searching, I thought about the parable of the lost coin in Luke 15.  Remember this?  Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lost-coin-3lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?  And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.  Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.  (Luke 15:8-10)  I kept thinking of that word, rejoice, praying and looking forward to our lost and found moment!

The parable of the lost coin in set right between two other parables in Luke 15—the parable of the lost sheep (vs. 4-7) and the parable of the lost [prodigal] son (vs.11-32.) Jesus often taught with parables—short stories, or word pictures, that used comparisons or likenesses to illustrate concepts or principles.  On this occasion, Jesus was speaking to two groups of people—the publicans and sinners, and the scribes and Pharisees.

The Pharisees had an exalted opinion of themselves, believing they were close to God, and considered the others to be trash—and Jesus even worse in that he chose to eat and associate with sinners (vs. 1-2.) Jesus had a message for the Pharisees—that though they thought they were the beloved of God, He had a deep love for the lost and “had come to seek and to save that which was lost.”  (Luke 19:10)  He had a message for those sinners listening to Him, as well—that God has a personal, tender, joyous love for each one of them and that He would not give up on them.

In the parable of the lost coin, some commentators have stated that the ten silver coins belonging to the woman actually refer to a piece of jewelry with lost-cointen coins on it. This was bridal jewelry—something we could compare to our wedding ring of today.  Can you imagine if you lost your wedding ring?  You would look everywhere for it.  You’d feel sick about losing it, and rejoice when you found it, just as this woman did.

We actually see parallels between the three parables in Luke 15. In each one the main character (the shepherd, the woman and the father) possesses something that he or she cherishes and does not want to lose.  Each of them rejoices in finding that which was lost—and does not rejoice alone, but calls in the friends and neighbors to rejoice with him!  And it was not just a financial loss to each of these people, but a personal one—the shepherd cared about the lost sheep, the woman treasured her bridal jewelry, the father loved his son.

The word picture that we see in Luke 15 is this: that God seeks out lost sinners (which includes each one of us) to restore our relationship with Him. He loves us with a tender, diligent love—never giving up on us—and rejoices over each sinner who repents and returns to Him.

The main characters in the parables represent God and characterize His attitude toward the lost, but I believe we could also apply this story to our attitudes concerning those around us who are lost without the Savior. The lostcoin-freebibleimages-comwoman in the parable was painstaking in her search.  She lit a lamp in order to shed light on her search.  The Bible tells us that Jesus is the Light of the world (John 1:9; 8:12.)  How often do we share Jesus with others?  She looked carefully, reaching into places with her broom that might have been inaccessible, never indifferent but industrious.  How much effort are we willing to expend in reaching the lost?  She could have been content with the nine pieces that were left, but no, she refused to give up on the lost one.  Do we give up when we do not see fruit quickly enough?  And when the lost was found, the woman celebrated, rejoicing over the treasure that had been restored unto her.  Do we truly realize the significance in the salvation of another?  Jesus said when he finished telling this parable, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke 15:10)  If even the angels rejoice, perhaps we could muster up more than a momentary, “Well praise the Lord!”, couldn’t we?

There was rejoicing in this house when we found those checks the other day, I can tell you! I’m still a little worried about my mind, but well, I guess I’ll just have to trust the Lord for that.  This little episode of lost-and- found, though, brought to mind the parable of the lost coin and how our Father rejoices over each of us who once were lost and now are found!

amazing grace