Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blessed Is the One Who Waits on the Lord by Carolyn

I've been gone from the blog for sometime now.  It's been an unusual time; a new season.  There are times in life when you are pulled in several directions at once, and temporarily lose your ability to concentrate fully on any one of them.

This year has already brought more changes than I could have imagined, or better yet, understood, on December 31, 2012.  My 67 year old husband retired and immediately he wanted to take a road trip to Florida.  That was so much fun and a wonderful gift from God that we could go an enjoy it thoroughly.  Then our son and daughter-in-law, who are in their early 40's, had their first baby in late February, our third grandchild.  How wonderful to welcome her!  She lives in California and we live in Ohio, so that called for an extensive visit to get to know her. 

In March we discovered my husband has prostate cancer and, due to the circumstances of his case, that pesky little gland must come out.  We're in the waiting room and, as of this writing, are still unsure when that will happen.  Jim has read much of the research.  He's read several books on the matter.  He's talked with many other men who have been through experiences like his, and others with similar problems.  He's done all that he can to educate himself and get ready.  He's calm and very much at peace as far as I can tell.  He's not a believer, which makes him an unbeliever, but rather than calling him that, I prefer to call him a "not yet" believer.

If I have any fear, and I would be foolish to pretend I have none, it is that Jim won't recognize this wake up call.  The phone is ringing, the mail has been delivered and both have a message for him.  This is another gift from God.  A gift of a different sort.  Our Lord wants Jim's attention.  He wants him to answer the door, answer the phone, and listen!  He is wooing him, calling him, beckoning him to Himself.  Will he hear?  Will he answer?  Will he listen? 

Daniel 12:12 says, "Blessed is the one who waits on the Lord."  I know the Lord wants no one to perish.  And  I trust Him.  I will wait on Him.  I will wait in faith, confidence and patience.  But I won't wait without action.  I will pray and plead that He enlivens the Spirit in Jim's heart soon, and stirs Him into action that Jim can feel, hear, see and even touch!  May it be so, Lord.  May it be so!


Monday, March 18, 2013

"Blessed are the poor" by Judy

As I have referenced before in my sporadic blog entries, I have taken on the responsibility of being a Guardian ad Litem for the children of an area family. In my Guardian ad Litem role, our county juvenile court  has appointed me to represent the best interests of the children, as their parents work through issues which keep them from performing the job themselves. It has been wonderfully rewarding, and also eye-opening – especially regarding both the strengths and the abuses of our current welfare system.

But this blog entry is about something else – the mentality of poverty, and how it differs from the middle-class mentality, with which I am clearly familiar. I attended a workshop last week that opened my eyes, and immediately took me to the Bible in my thoughts. The reason is that there are many references to people in poverty in both the Old Testament and new, especially by Jesus – and (a-ha!) the references are positive, while those in the middle class, a place that can be mired in complacency, self-satisfaction, judgment and naked ambition, bear the brunt of biblical wrath.

Clearly God has a heart for the poor. When I referenced poverty, many, many Scriptures were listed. As I read them, I remembered that “poverty” has to do with more than money, but those in need in all conditions – spiritual as well as physical. Still, I don’t want to use that realization for my own selfish purposes, justifying turning my back on those in need, dismissing them as lazy, while I cling to my wealth.

In my workshop, I learned that for those in poverty, RELATIONSHIPS are in the middle of everything, while in the middle class, the driving force is on achievement, and in the upper class, connections. I also learned that those in poverty focus on TODAY, while in the other classes, the focus is on tomorrow (the middle class) and yesterday (the upper class). Those in poverty spend their money, while the middle class manages money, and the upper class conserves and invests it. Those in poverty hang out with people they like, while the middle class values self-sufficiency and the upper class often excludes. The driving force for those in poverty is relationships and survival; for the middle class work, achievement and security; and the upper class is most focused on connections, policy and stability.

Finally, in the workshop, I heard all about a highlight of the neighborhood – A “Coming Home Party.” You can probably guess the theme – a loved one is out of prison and the entire community rejoices. Of course such celebrations don’t exist for the middle and upper classes. The freed one is quietly blended back, in embarrassed hope that no one even recognizes he was gone.

Surely, in honesty, those of you reading this who know your Bibles, can see the parallels throughout my lessons learned. Think the Beatitudes, the prodigal son, the sheep and the goats, the Cross. Those reading who have little interest in the Bible at least can see applications in everyday life. And as always, when I point one finger out, three are pointed back. Food for thought, contemplation, meditation, prayer!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Clinging to God

I attend a Bible study every Tuesday night.  Some of you may be familiar with it as it is a non-denominational, international study called BSF.  We are studying Genesis this year.  I read ahead because I remembered Jacob wrestling with God and that God "touched his hip."  I was curious about it because Judy's husband broke his hip last December.  I wondered if there was some kind of connection. 

I discovered one.

Jacob was a wreck.  He had done his brother Esau ill years before and was about to meet him again for the first time.  This time he wanted to do things right.  He wanted to make up for what he'd done.  He wanted and needed forgiveness, but he was worried that his brother could not, would not forgive him.  The night before the meeting Jacob had an unusual encounter with a man.  The Bible doesn't say in Genesis 32: 24 that Jacob fell asleep, only that he was, "...left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.  When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob's hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man.  Then the man said, "Let me go, for it is daybreak."  But Jacob replied, "I will not let you go unless you bless me."  At that point the man said, " have struggled with God and men and have overcome."  And he blessed Jacob. 

In what I would call a "God incidence" later that day I randomly opened a book called, "Streams in the Desert" written by L.B. Cowman.  Frequently, I pick it up and use it for meditation.  I opened randomly to May 28 and there was an exposition of this very incident.  How often that happens! 

Jacob won the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging.  "I will not let you go."  Unable to struggle any longer with his hip out of joint, he did what he could; he hung on.  Can't you almost see him locking his arms around his opponent's neck and refusing to give up?   

Many times I want God to answer my prayers the way I want Him to answer them.  I tell Him what I want Him to do.  Who do I think I am?  One thing I know for sure, I am not God.  And thanks be to God!  But when I surrender to His will, not only do I feel a tremendous relief, but I am almost immediately blessed with peace. 

An example is my deep, abiding concern that my husband has not accepted Jesus as His Lord and Savior.  How long I have prayed!  And worried.  And feared.  But somehow during this time of Jack's recovery, my search for the story of Jacob, and the resulting entry in Mr. Cowan's book, I have given Jim to the Lord and I'm not going to take him back.  I'm not going to fuss anymore.  There is no one who wants my Jim to come to the Lord more than the Lord.  He knows my heart.  He's heard my prayers.  It's time to stop struggling and surrender to God's will.  "I will walk in the footsteps of faith," (Romans 4:12) even to moutain Abraham and Isaac climbed, the mountain of sacrifice.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Fleas, broken bones and giving thanks - by Judy

For a number of years, Carolyn and I had an outreach, stemming from our TV program called, "I Love to Tell the Story." We called our second venture "Taking the Story on the Road." It involved traveling to a church, usually out in the Ohio countryside, where we did presentations of stories from the Bible, or illustrating specific Bible verses, usually designated by the ladies groups to whom we were speaking. One of our favorites was a talk based on 1Thessalonians 5:18, "Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Jesus Christ." Among other stories to illustrate the challenging point, we spoke about Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsie, who were confined to a concentration camp during World War 2 for their harboring of Jews in their Dutch home.

The conditions were terrible, beyond our imagining. The building was frigid, the guards ruthless as the women exercised outside, the food impossible to digest, and the straw beds flea-infested. Corrie was disheartened, but Betsie reminded her of the biblical call to give thanks - something Corrie found impossible. Yet despite the conditions, Corrie, Betsie and the other women managed to study the Bible regularly - in fact, without hindrance. Why? Because the guards left them alone, rarely entering the barracks, out of fear of the fleas. Yes, the fleas protected the women and allowed them to meet their deepest spiritual needs.

The last weeks have been somewhat difficult, as Carolyn explained in an earlier blog. My husband fell in China, fracturing his pelvis in several places. He was transported by ambulance over a 4 hour distance to Hong Kong, where he was put in traction and then underwent surgery. I traveled there to bring him home, where he developed severe blood clots both in his injured leg and his lungs. At the same time, he contracted pneumonia, and a bad rash over most of his body. Fortunately, it appears he is turning a corner, and we are looking out to the prospect over the next months of a return to good health, thanks to Coumadin, physical therapy, medical wisdom, the support and love of friends and family, and a multitude of prayer warriors.

But (that wonderful word, so often indicating a godly turnaround in the Bible), this entire experience has brought so many blessings that they are like the stars in the sky. Jack's surgeon in Hong Kong did, in the words of his American counterpart, an "amazing" job. An angel, looking like a nurse, traveled with us every step of the way home (the picture above shows the view out our window). Family met us here and we spent a beautiful Christmas together. Friends, oh the friends, how can I even adequately explain the ministering they have provided - food, company, laughter, encouragement. Jack and I have had such sweet, quiet time together that we both agree there has been nothing like it in our entire marriage. And best of all, God has been with us every step of the way. Over and over, he has reminded me, "I have been with you through the storm, through the wind, through the rain - I will see you safely home."

I read a daily devotional, and at the end of every entry, it closes with the same prayer. I close this entry repeating it, as I give thanks, yes - give thanks, that such a challenge confronted us, for God's blessings have been huge. And I pray it for you, any sweet readers who happen upon this blog.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you, wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing, once again into his arms.