"Cooking Lesson"

A little background...Bro. Kent has been preaching from the 6th chapter of Romans the past few weeks.  As we've moved through the chapter, we keep coming back to verses 1 and 2 (kind of like when you are camping, and you go out hiking every day, but you keep coming back to the campsite :)):

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

We've been reminded over and over that Paul wrote these verses knowing that there would be people who would take the previous teaching on salvation by grace alone through faith in Jesus and try to turn it into a license to sin:  "Well, if God's glory is shown through the forgiveness of sin by grace, then the more we sin, the more God's grace and glory are shown...so we should just keep sinning!"  

As Bro. Kent says, Paul is emphatic here...using a double negative in the Greek...in saying, "Absolutely not!"   That is not the purpose of grace at all.  Just because God provides that forgiving grace doesn't mean we need to go looking for extra opportunities to see Him exercise it! 

A little more background:)...In addition to her recent obsession with all things Spanish, Emlyn has also in the last few months become obsessed with all things medical.  She feels very strongly that God wants her to be a medical missionary someday.  It would be easy to say, "She's only nine..." and dismiss the idea...but knowing her as I do, and having watched what God has done in her life already, I can see it as a definite possibility.  So we are asking God for direction in following this "bent" for now, and watching to see what He is going to do from here. 

So...last week Emlyn took her birthday money (which she's been carefully saving for a month), and bought a huge first aid kit at Sam's.  It has all kinds of cool stuff in it, and she has been very careful to make sure her siblings know that it is NOT to play with...it is so she is prepared when someone needs help.  She has already had several opportunities to practice her "first aid", and she is very serious about it. 

So this morning...Bayley and I were cooking, and she started to do something...I don't even remember what now...to which I responded, "Be careful...you'll burn yourself!"  Her immediate reply was, "Oh, it's okay, Emlyn has burn ointment in her medical kit."  

I had to laugh...and then I immediately flashed back to the past few weeks' Sunday morning sermons...as I said, "Just because Emlyn HAS burn ointment doesn't mean you need to look for opportunities to NEED it."  

It's so easy to laugh at the absurdity of "I'll just go ahead and burn myself...we've got burn ointment," and yet often we don't see the same absurdity in our {perhaps rarely voiced, but nonetheless often lived} "It doesn't really matter that much if I sin...after all, I can ask God's forgiveness later" philosophy of grace.  

Just as I make every effort to avoid burning myself, while at the same time being quite thankful for the burn ointment when my clumsy side shows through and I end up burning myself anyway, so should I make every effort to avoid sin...to flee temptation...while at the same time being so thankful for God's grace to forgive when I do fall.  

I'm thankful for God's "teachable moments" with me, especially when they are "teachable moments" I can share with my children.    Who would have thought there was such a lesson in a little tube of burn ointment? 


17 years ago...

August and September are full of "significant dates" around here.  Fun ones...like birthdays...and not so fun ones...like "anniversary dates".   September 13 is yet another one of those.   It doesn't seem possible that our friend Andy has been gone 17 years.  More than that, it doesn't seem possible that the rest of us are now "middle aged", while Andy is still perpetually 20 in our memories.   I know that I have posted several "re-posts" lately, and I do have a long list of "new content" to post (hopefully starting this afternoon!), but after two weeks of illness and a weekend without a computer, my mind is swimming this morning trying to get things back in order.  So...I am going to repeat a post from two years ago this week.  I needed to read it again...maybe someone else does, too...

from September 18, 2008...

"If God would make manifest the fact that 'He giveth songs in the night', 
He must first make it night."
~William Taylor

I am thankful for the night, and for the songs He gives in it.
Tuesday morning I was pondering a quote I had read earlier in the day here. I had read another take on the quote here.

“Still, accepting God’s existence is one thing; honoring his command is another matter entirely, especially if we’re required to go back when we’d rather go forward.”
~Liz Curtis Higgs

As I pondered Tuesday morning, I thought, "It feels so good to finally be going forward when we have been 'going back', or 'standing still' for so long."

A few hours later, I re-entered the category of "going back" with a vengeance.

I wasn't ready. I didn't want to. I was far from happy about the circumstances we were suddenly in the midst of. My mind flashed back to this quote, and I began to pray that God would give grace and strength to honor and obey when what I really wanted to do was go back to bed and pull the blankets over my head until Christmas.

As I began praying, two things came to my mind, and lodged there for the next 36 hours. The first was the chorus to a song we have been singing in childr
en's choir this month:

"God will make a way
When there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see;
He will make a way for me.
He will be my guide,
Hold me closely to His side.
With love and strength for each new day,
He will make a way,
He will make a way."
~Don Moen

This song had been on my mind all week, not only because we have been working on it with the children on Wednesdays, but because of an anniversary that occurred on Saturday. Fifteen years ago, this song was part of a musical the adult choir was preparing at my church. I was stuck in traffic on Hwy. 71 at Huntington due to a tractor-trailer rig accident. I was dealing with extreme frustration because I knew the delay was going to make me late for choir rehearsal, and I needed to be there to prepare for the musical. As I sat and fumed, God began to give a very odd peace about the situation, and I settled back with my rehearsal cassette and music to practice on my own as I waited for the road to clear. I don't know how many times I played that tape over and over again, or how many times I sang this song while I sat there. And every time, I listened also to this story of Don Moen writing this song after his nephew was killed in a car accident.

God knew that afternoon that more than I needed to work parts and rhythms with the choir, I needed to be saturated with the scripture, songs, and testimony on that tape. I arrived home too late to even attempt rehearsal, only to discover that my dad and my best friend had been trying to reach me. While I was sitting on the road singing "God Will Make a Way" over and over again, our friend Andy was meeting Jesus face to face...the result of a tragic auto accident.

"God Will Make a Way" has been a favorite song of mine ever since. I remember singing it often, through tears, in the days and weeks after Andy's death. It is one of those that God has used many times since to remind me during other difficult times of the ways He worked during that time, and the ways He has worked during other dark days in the 15 years since.

And once again, God knew that I was going to need those words...and the reminders they bring...this week.

The other thing that God brought to mind almost instantly was this thought:

He will hold you in the palm of His hand.

I wasn't quite sure why, but that image has been on my mind often lately...God holding us in the palm of His hand. Throughout Tuesday and Wednesday, I kept repeating to myself, "He is holding us in the palm of His hand..." I talked to the kids about God holding us in His hand, and prayed that God would continue to remind us of that.

Then last night in choir practice (another one of those times I was so tired I wasn't sure how I was going to stay awake through rehearsal, but I knew I *needed* to...), we pulled out a song we've worked on off and on all summer. It's a beautiful song I've loved since we first sight-read it. I had even started to blog about it earlier in the summer...one of those blog posts I've just "never gotten around to". :)

When we got to the last line of the chorus, the tears started streaming as I realized the origin of the word picture I had clung to so tightly during the past 36 hours...

"And hold you in the palm of His hand."

On Eagle's Wings

"You who dwell in the shelter of the Lord,
Who abide in his shadow for life,
Say to the Lord,
'My refuge, my rock in Whom I trust
And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand.
The snare of the fowler will never capture you,
And famine will bring you no fear;
Under His wings your refuge,
His faithfulness your shield.

And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun,

And hold you in the palm of His hand.
You need not fear the terror of the night,
Nor the arrow that flies by day;
Though thousands fall about you,
Near you it shall not come
For to His angels He's given a command
To guard you in all of your ways;
Upon their hands they will bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone
And He will raise you up on eagle's wings,
Bear you on the breath of dawn,
Make you to shine like the sun
And hold you in the palm of His hand. "
~Michael Joncas
(based on Psalm 91)

I am so thankful, again, that He giveth songs in the night. I found the quote by William Taylor earlier this summer. What a light-bulb moment! How much more precious are the songs He gives because of the nights in which they were given...and how much more precious and awesome is the Giver of the songs because of the way He wraps us up in His love and peace and joy through them.


50 Years Ago Today..."An Old Fashioned Love Story"

It's hard to believe that if my dad were still alive, my parents would be celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.  I had planned a special post for this day, but due to circumstances, that post is going to have to be postponed.  I will share, instead, a special story about my parents, written by our dear friend James McAlister, and published in the newspaper several years ago. I've shared it before, but I think it is appropriate for this special day!  I'll also post the introduction I posted to it in last year's blog post. :)

Although I obviously wasn't there :), I have many memories of the day...stories I've heard a hundred times such as the wedding having to be moved to First Baptist because Immanuel burned just before their wedding, and how my dad set the date in September because his parents had said that whoever got married first got their piano...and his sister was getting married in December :).

I am thankful today for the gift of Godly parents. Parents who weren't perfect, but who sought to model a genuine walk with Christ in our home, and who demonstrated to me the meaning of unconditional love. Parents who sacrificed much for their children in every area. Parents from whom I "caught" a love for God's Word and His church...who taught faithfulness and dependability and servanthood by their words *and* their actions. Parents who were anything but risk-takers, but who in spite of many uncertainties stepped out in faith to homeschool their children in a time when those were very uncharted (and unpopular!) waters.

I know I've posted this link before, but today seems an appropriate day to post it again. Not only is it just a story I love, told in the way only Mr. James can tell a story...but it is such a good reminder to me about God's sovereignty and perfect timing. Today as I look at situations in our family, and in the lives of others we love that don't make sense, that seem so "wrong" or "unfair", I am reminded again that God is working for our good, always.