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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Above all else


The Preeminence of Christ

 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.  For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.  Colossians 1:15-17

 

Not only is God all-powerful, and good and sovereign, so is Jesus.  Because He is God!  Before the Earth was formed, in Eternity Past, Christ existed alone with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.  In perfect union and harmony, they fellowshipped together and created the world all that is in it.  And it is their existence that gives us life and holds all things together.  Yes, this is a perplexing truth but praise God we worship One who is greater than our understanding!  He alone is worthy of all our affection and our praise!  Hallelujah that we belong to Him!

I believe that the reason Christians should study science is to discover the glory of God.  I don’t think that true science contradicts or threatens the truth of God’s Word at all, but rather as we learn more and more about the world He created, we uncover glorious truths about Him.  One of my favorite scientific truths stems from something very exciting that I learned about this verse, particularly the part about “in Him all things hold together”.  Now, I don’t need any “support” from the world to “prove” the truth of Scripture but when something in science illustrates the Truth of God’s Word, it causes me to jump up and down with excitement over the glory of God.  This is such a truth..

In all living cells, there is a molecule called laminin.  This protein acts like a glue which keeps the parts of the cell from falling apart; it’s the stuff that helps anchor  cells to the membrane and is critical for the maintenance and survival of tissues. Well, that’s all very interesting but what does that have to do with Jesus? This: if you and I could examine this “glue protein” under a microscope, we would see that its structure is the shape of a cross. For real!  Check it out on Wikipedia and see for yourself.  It is certainly no accident that our glorious Creator chose to form this protein in the shape of a cross, knowing that one day technology would enable His creatures to discover Him even in the details of cells. Truly, by Him are all things held together.

Today, let’s rejoice that every aspect of our lives – down to the microscopic level of our cells, all things are held together by the One who loves us and gave Himself for us. To Him be the Glory forever.  Amen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

God is great, God is good


For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods; Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all the deeps.  Psalm 135:5,6

 

Today our focus is on His omnipotence.  Just to give us a glimpse of this attribute let’s unpack this verse from Psalm 135.

1.  He is great.  He is mighty and powerful.  This truth has potential to be absolutely terrifying were it not for the rest of Who He Is, which is found in verse 3 of this same passage: Praise the Lord for He is good; Sing praises to His name for it is lovely.  Indeed He is powerful but hallelujah He is not a despot but rather a benevolent ruler who loves His people!

2.  He is above all gods.  Yes, there are other powers at work in this world.  “Gods” who wield influence and wreak destruction.  That is true.  But our God is above them all.  The forces of evil cannot touch our lives without His permission (Job 1:6-12).  Our God is sovereign; it is He who is in charge.  We need not fear when things seem out of control because He is always in control.  Even though we often cannot understand His plan, we can be confident that He is still on the Throne, ruling with absolute power and love.

3.  Whatever the Lord pleases, He does.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem like He is in charge.  Terrifying things happen all over.  Too close to home.  In our own lives.  Things we would not have chosen or even the things we fear the most.  But this verse assures us that we can trust Him because He is accomplishing His plan.  Job 42:2 tells us plainly  I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. And His purposes are good!! Even if we are distressed for a time here, it is not without purpose and His plans for His people are good. All sorts of verses give us that confidence, especially Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.

 

Today, let’s bow before His Throne, realizing He is sovereign…and we are not.  Let us entrust our lives – and our families’ lives – to Him, knowing that He is at work for His glory and our good. 

 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Daddy

I don't know if Heaven celebrates Earthly birthdays but I figure you're having a fabulous day regardless.  I know you are whole and well and overflowing with joy because that's the plan for God's children. 


I wish I could talk to you and hear you answer me back.  I wish you could tell me what you're experiencing and learning - I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it's beyond my wildest dreams.  Do you get to see Jesus anytime you want?  Is it so awesome that it's near 'bout scary to stand in front of God's Throne?  That rainbow that Scripture tells us about - do you get to walk around its entire circumference and does it take your breath away? 


I'll bet you've already conquered a lot of the books He has there.  The Science and History ones, anyway.  For theology, I suppose you get to ask all the questions you want of The Sovereign King Himself?  Do you get to hang out with your Mama and Daddy and siblings a lot?  And have you met David and Paul and Noah?  I look forward to chatting with Peter - we have a lot of similarities I think.


Compared to what you're living now, things down here are quite temporal.  Oh, we think it's dramatic and exciting and incredible but you know better - life here is just a warmup for Eternity. Training ground for what's really real.  I am not sure if you even have time to glance down from time to time but I know with all my heart that you think about us, especially Mom.  And I am absolutely certain that you talk to Jesus about us all.  Thank you.  We're doing OK, Daddy.  We're doing OK.  We miss you terribly.  How someone so quiet could leave such a void is beyond me!  But you have.  We talk about you a lot and wonder what you would think about such and such and so and so. 


I want you to know (in case you don't already) that we're taking good care of Mom.  Just like you wanted us to.  We did "black bags" for Christmas and Robert threw out the candy in your place.  Gotta be honest - it wasn't the same.  But we did it anyway because you'd want us to.  The kids are all doing great - you would be so very proud still.  They are smart and deep and kind, just like their Papa.  (And they are fun and witty and wide open, just like their Alice!)  The great grands are practically perfect, as you well know.  Baby Lucy made it here after you left, but maybe you met her on the way.  She is positively gorgeous.  Jonathan is still uncertain about that red Indian and Mary Alice is still the prettiest baby you've ever seen. They asked about you last time they were here.  It made me cry.


Mary's getting married in just a few weeks.  She's got something planned to honor you so I hope you'll peek down and see.  Katie pulled out pictures of you from her wedding and the memories flooded.  So did my eyes. I cherish that shot of us together.  Chip is loving school - I wish he could discuss his research with you.  The rest of us don't understand him.  Betsy is still swimming and singing.  I am glad she got to serenade you every morning. 


Thank you for the gifts you gave us, Daddy.  The gifts of intellect and of gentleness and of generosity.  The gift of valuing all lives and that of prioritizing kindness.  The gifts of loving to learn and to teach and to sing. The gift of faith, especially the gift of faith.  Because of that, we know where you are and we will see you again.


I wish you could've stayed here a while longer, Daddy.  But I guess we'd never be ready for you to go.  I wish I could've made you oatmeal cookies one more time.  Maybe somebody will fix you a batch today to celebrate. 


I think about you every single day.  I am so grateful I got to be your daughter.  I hope you hear me at night...I still tell you "Good night, Daddy.  Love you.  See you in the morning."


Oh, and if somebody does make you some heavenly oatmeal cookies today, I hope you don't like them as much as you do mine.  I'll make you some as soon as I get there.  I love you.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Panic Attacks - Part 3 - Prescription for Solution



It has taken me a long time to get around to this post.  Yes, I've been busy but that's not what's held things up.  It is important to me to get it right so I have done much research and prayed much and thought long.  And I've worried.  Fearful that I'll not get it right or offend someone or miss the chance to offer genuine help.  So I've put it off.  But the post keeps writing itself in my head.  It's time to get it on the blog. And to move beyond my own fear!  I pray that it will bring hope and help...that it will be Truth - and Grace...that even just one person might be encouraged.


Here goes...........

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Expectations

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
 O my God, in you I trust;
    let me not be put to shame;
    let not my enemies exult over me.

Psalm 25:1,2


I was reading through Psalm 25 today and got stuck on these first two verses. It's so easy to glide right over them and move on to the rest of the passage.  But all Scripture is inspired and is Life and Light...so let's unpack these verses and see the nuggets of gold in them!


I lift up my soul - what does that mean?  To be expecting return from, to be dependent upon, to bring to expectantly - that is what is meant by "lift up". Lifting up "my soul" means getting the needs of our emotions met.  Our needs for love and security and significance. Our expectations.  So these few words tell us a lot - the psalmist expresses the idea that his soul is to be fulfilled in the Lord. 

Don't pass over that.  Think about it for a minute.  What else are we tempted to "lift up our souls" to, expecting fulfillment and peace and significance?  For moms, it could be our kids.  (Oh what  a slippery slope!)  It might be educational achievement or a career.  Or our looks (Lord, help us!)  We might "lift up our soul" to our position in the community - or in the church - hoping that others' view of us will fill up the cavern inside.  We can "lift up our soul" to material success or leisure activities or food. Good things tempt us to expect more than they can deliver.  Relationships included.



Only to find out that our soul soon feels empty again.  Disappointed.  Frustrated.  Even angry. 
But we keep lifting it up to the same impotent things again and again.



The psalmist sets the successful example for us.  Lifting up our soul to the Only One who does not disappoint.   The Glorious Lord.  The Creator and Sustainer.  The Savior.  The Only One we can fully trust. With our expectations.


I love the next two phrases.  Here, the psalmist pulls back the curtain of his soul...and ours...to reveal the root of "lifting up to all the wrong places."


Fear of failure
Fear of shame


We go to great lengths to avoid the pain of these feelings.  We shelter ourselves in flimsy fortresses of self-protection and not trying the difficult things.  (Which might include forgiving one who has wronged you or pursuing a new career or breaking the stronghold of addiction)  We are afraid to fail because we fear the resulting shame.  What if we get hurt again?  What if others see our failure and label us as such?  What if we get rejected? What if our expectations are not met? The anticipated pain of that drives us to all sorts of places.  Places where we expect relief. 


Verse 3 gives us the assurance that
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;


Friends, we are designed by God to "lift up our souls" to Him.  Therefore, we will indeed lift up our souls.  To something.  The Enemy of our souls tempts us with things that will not satisfy.  Even good things that God intends for us to enjoy....not to expect full souls from.  And he (our Enemy) tries to tie our arms around these things with strands of fear.  Fear of failure and shame.


The only fear we need to have is that of the Lord.  He alone can be trusted to protect us, to give us significance and acceptance and security.  When we put our trust in Him, when we "lift up our souls" to Him alone, we will cease to fear anything man can do to us.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Blog-savvy I am not....

Hello friends-
I am still a novice at understanding blog-world and cyber-techniques.  Some readers have told me they have signed up for email but don't get the posts.  So I checked into what I could figure out...there are several email addresses that show up as "unverified".  (Sounds like work for CIA or something....)  So I am doing some detective work to see how to get their posts to them via email..


If you receive Living Letters via email, please let me know.  If you signed up to receive them that way and do not get them, please let me know.  If you only read through FB postings, also let me know.


And if you want to get them through email, there is a place to sign up on the site.  The view of the site shows up differently on mobile devices than on laptops so you may have to search around til you find the place to submit your email.


Thanks for reading - I love e-chatting with you!!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Losing a pet

There was an accident and my baby's fur-baby was gone.  I had dreaded this day for 4 1/2 years. "Feared" is probably a better description. I knew full well that kitties don't last forever and this day would inevitably arrive at some point.  I had never seen a child love an animal like this.  Ever.  And the thought of her being separated from that relationship was unbearable.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Think Long


He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end Ecclesiastes 3:11

Read this passage a couple of times.  Let its truth sink into your soul.  He has made everything beautiful in its time.  I don’t know about you but there are more than a few things, or situations, that I just don’t find beautiful at all.  Things that bring pain or destruction or angst.  No, I don’t think everything is beautiful at all. 

Then I read the rest of that sentence…in its time.

There is the key – in its time.

How often do I come to a conclusion that something is wrong or awful or even irreparable when the problem is that I judged it too early?  That broken relationship, that brutal disappointment, that bruised heart…nothing beautiful at all.  And, yet, I need to trust that God’s not done.  In its time is not completed.  God is still at work, unfolding His plan, fulfilling His purpose.  And all will be beautiful.  In its time.

The next sentence gives me the tool that helps me embrace this truth.  Eternal perspective.

Often I cannot know what God is doing or how He intends to use the unbeautiful things in my life to make something glorious.  I long for things like harmony and peace and fulfillment that seem to be elusive.  At least on more than a temporary basis.  That’s because we were made for Eternity.  The longing I live with cannot be satisfied with the things of Earth.  And my heart groans at the insatiable yearnings.

What is to be our response?