Monday, February 20, 2017

The Best Advice

“Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good?” - Job 15:3

Talk, no matter how well intentioned, can reach a stage of uselessness—as far as we are concerned, that is. But most of us, for one reason or another, cannot (or will not) acknowledge this. Because of the real or perceived legitimacy of the argument, and/or because of our own personal attachment, we talk on.

This verse in Job points out what should be obvious to us, were we not so invested in the person to whom we are speaking and the benevolence of our motives: There is only so much to be said to some people; and it is possible to move beyond compassionate love and courage of conviction, to possessiveness and a play for vindication. After awhile, we find ourselves saying the same things, just louder and more caustically. As women, it is easy to fall into this trap with husbands and older children. We may question their judgments or choices, but until they are willing to question themselves, our constant nagging is nothing more than “unprofitable talk” that does neither them nor us any good.

As you get older, you realize you must choose your battles carefully. We only have so much energy and breath to expend, and none of us want to end up in the ignominious position of someone who is just beating the air (1 Cor. 9:26). Worthy battles are always worth fighting, even to the last breath; but sometimes, we need to change the field of battle. There comes a time when we must put on our armor and face the real enemy in the real battle, on the plains of prayer (Eph. 6:11-18).

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not, and never persist in trying to set people right. ------ Hannah Whitall Smith

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Who Is That Woman In the Mirror?

“Now we see through a glass darkly…” 1 Corinthians 13:12

Most of you know that this past year a deadly pancreatic cancer in my body has been slowly entwining itself around most of the surrounding veins, making its removal all but impossible. You may also know that this fall, it reached the point where aggressive chemo was begun, and finally Hospice was called in when the unsuccessful chemo left what was left of me hanging over the precipice of death. During this time of not quite, but almost, being able to see across the valley of the shadow of death into the presence of my Savior, it was as though a hand reached out, pulled me back, and stood me up on my feet, literally.

I’m not sure if that Hand was divine, but I do know it was disconcerting. Okay, if the TOD suddenly gets pushed back, for whatever reason, what’s left? According to Paul, only one: “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.” Rom. 14:8.  If you’re not dead, you’re living; and if you’re living, you’re not dead. The last four words are what make the difference: “We are the Lord’s, so we should do both “unto the Lord.”

So, this is where I am on this day of our Lord, February 9, 2017. As far as I know, this tumor is still there clutching those same veins; and I still pass a mirror and momentarily ask myself, “Who is that somewhat bald, shriveled woman I see? She looks positively dead.” But she isn’t (at least, not today.) She’s merely “seeing through a glass darkly.” But sooner (or later) Bless the Lord! “…then face to face.” Until I see Him, I will serve Him, living each day in the light of His Personage…Power.

“Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” Psl. 119:49

Monday, December 5, 2016


“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy. (Psalm 107:2)

         The word, redeem, means to buy back or recover something. It assumes three things: 1) the object to be redeemed is in someone else’s possession; 2) some type of price or exchange is necessary to accomplish the redemption; and 3) the object has no means of redeeming itself, else it would not have been in bondage, in the first place.

         In this case, you and I were the objects in need of redemption, in bondage to our enemy, Satan, with no redeeming qualities of our own to call upon. And the price that was paid for the redemption of our souls and bodies (Eph. 1:7) far exceeded their worth. But then, love doesn’t look for a bargain.

         The great Baptist preacher, A.J. Gordon (1836-1895), once told the story of meeting a little boy carrying an old birdcage, containing several common field birds. Curious, Gordon asked the boy what he intended to do with the birds. “Oh, I guess I’ll just take ‘em home an play with ‘em for awhile,” came the reply. “Then what?” asked the preacher. “I guess I’ll just feed ‘em to the old cat we’ve got,” answered the boy. Impulsively, Gordon asked him how much he would take for the birds and the cage. This surprised the boy. “Mister, you don’t want these old birds. They can’t hardly sing at all.” But when Gordon offered him the outrageous sum of two dollars, he quickly took the money, saying, “It’s a deal, but you’re makin’ a bad bargain!” Gordon said that after the boy had gone, he opened the cage, letting the frightened, hesitant birds fly out; then he watched as they soared into the sky.

         The next Sunday, the preacher took the cage into the pulpit with him and told the story of the boy and the birds. He ended by saying, “That little boy said the birds couldn’t sing very well, but when I opened the cage and released them, they flew away singing. And it seemed to me the song they were singing was, ‘Redeemed! Redeemed! Redeemed?’”

         Today, I am as free as a bird out a cage, because of the blood-price of my redemption that was paid by Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. The verse in Psalms says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”; and that’s just what I’m doing!

Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it!
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb;
Redeemed through His infinite mercy,
His child and forever I am.

Redeemed, and so happy in Jesus,
No language my rapture can tell;
I know that the light of His presence
With me doth continually dwell.

I think of my blessed Redeemer,
I think of Him all the day long;
I sing, for I cannot be silent;
His love is the theme of my song.

Redeemed, redeemed,
Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,
Redeemed through His infinite mercy;
His child and forever I am.
                                             - Fanny J. Crosby 1820-1915

Monday, November 21, 2016

Is, Was, And Is To Come

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is and which was, and which is to come.” (Revelation 1:8)

       Would it not seem more sequential to you if it read, “… which was, and which is, and which is to come”? Evidently not…at least, not to God. In fact, you will see the same order in verse four. You see, with God, everything starts with an “is.” When Moses recorded, “In the beginning God,” he was not talking about God’s beginning, but ours. Jehovah God exists in the eternal Present, the perpetual “Now.” It is such an innate part of Him, that He refers to Himself as the “I AM” (Ex. 3:14).

       God only speaks in terms of time for our benefit. Our lives are divided into minutes—the sixtieth part of an hour; but God sees these as moments—what we would think of as a brief coming together of circumstances that usually provide some kind of opportunity.

       Reason would tell us, therefore, that we should reflect this same order (“is, was, is to come”) in our own lives. Our primary concern should be the “is,” with proper respect for the “was,” and recognition of the “is to come.” I read once that the past is a clock that can only tell us what time it was, and the future is a calendar that only God can fill in with a permanent marker. Ah, but the present, on the other hand, has the power to refocus the past and re-establish the future, humanly speaking. It’s the only tool we have; but it’s all we need.

       We may not be the Great “I Am,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t follow His example, as well as that of the great Apostle; who did not say, “I am what I was,” or even, “I am what I will be”; but rather, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”

“Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?” — C.S. Lewis

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Now and Then

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

         This verse takes it for granted we will all endure some suffering in this life, and I don’t think any of us would disagree. There is nothing meritorious per se about suffering; but according to Philippians 3:10, it does qualify one for admission into a special club: “the fellowship of his [Jesus Christ’s] sufferings.” Not only that, Peter tells us it serves to “stablish, strengthen, and settle [us] (1Pet. 5:10). That couldn’t be too bad, could it?

         Still, these and other benefits do not readily come to mind while one is in the throes of an especially long and/or hard trial. In Paul’s case, his means of perspective was the little word “reckon.” He uses the same word in chapter six to give us a handle on achieving victory in our lives by reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God (6:11).

         One of the meanings for the word “reckon,” as found in the Oxford English Dictionary, is “to calculate, or keep count of, in relation to some starting point or base.” In other words, suffering must be judged against, or in relation to, something else. And Paul lets us know just what that something else is: “the glory that shall be revealed in us.” I’m not sure all that this entails, but I do know from the previous verse that it has to do with our being “joint-heirs with Christ,” and assumes we will share and share-alike with Him. If so, then in this case, the end truly does justify the means.

         I share these observations with you not to minimize any suffering you may be experiencing now, or will experience in the future, but simply to sharpen your “reckoner.” If anything, we women should understand this concept even better than men, since the prospect of finally seeing and holding in our hands the life that grew under our hearts is the overriding thought that gets us through the pain of childbirth. That’s exactly the principle Paul is trying to teach us.

          It’s not about the suffering now; it’s all about the glory then.