The Extraterrestrial…Really.

NASA-Apollo8-Dec24-EarthriseYesterday, I spent the morning with a group of about 100 of God’s women focused intently on the subject of prayer. I don’t know about the other ladies, but I was deeply affected. We read Harry Potter and watch Star Wars and clamor after tales that allow our minds to venture outside this box that we inhabit…the box of space and time. But we rarely appreciate the fact that there is one extra-terrestrial tale that’s not just a tale. It’s about a real place, with a real Ruler who has power and sovereignty over this universe and all that’s in it. And we are already part of that extraterrestrial world…involved enough that the Sovereign has already given the supreme sacrifice to bring us into His presence. And we can communicate with that Sovereign power; even influence His will, if we submit to His terms. It’s the most amazing concept we can ponder while still bound to this earth by gravity. And it’s real. It’s evidence-backed faith that takes us there. It’s the most authenticated book in history that reveals this other world to us. 

Today I had a chance to pray with a sister as she dropped me off at the airport. We prayed about our future ventures, especially about the venture we are both trying to accomplish, along with our families to the throne of God for eternity. Have you ever thought about the magnitude of that blessing?…I mean the sweet privilege of going in prayer, with a sister, to the throne of the Father you share…the Father who is the King of the universe?

In a few moments, I have a scheduled phone call with another sister in Christ. We will talk about the struggles and pain in her life and we will both be going before our Father’s throne with these particular sorrows. We both have the assurance that there’s somebody else, though not physically related, who shares the bond of the blood of Jesus, and who cares deeply about what’s going on in the spiritual journey of the other.

Over the weekend I promised to speak to some event directors about an internship for a young Christian sister and to recommend another sister for a scholarship. Those are small pleas to administrators for little positions and rewards. But as I left the room of sisters tonight to make the trip back to Huntsville, they promised to make requests for me to the supreme Administrator of all good gifts (James 1:17). We cannot do anything more important for each other than to plead each others’ causes before that Administrator!

Blood sisters share DNA that makes them have physical similarities because they were born of the same parents. Spiritual sisters share spiritual traits that make them alike in more important ways. They share traits that they will still be sharing in a million years, while those physical genetic tendencies will have lost all traceability. Physical kinship is tied to the genes. Spiritual kinship is tied to Jesus. The former is merely the handiwork of the latter. And yet the latter took on human DNA—had physical kin—so that I could be his spiritual kin and so that I could share that kinship with you.  He did this so that I could come boldly before the throne of grace for you and so that you could do it for me (Hebrews 4:14-16). 

I know that you already knew all of this. So did I. But meditating on it makes me love God more. It makes me appreciate the forever family more deeply. It makes me long for a time when that family will be inseparable.

Coconut Oil for MY Pantry

Coconut-Oil-WebClearly, I was distracted. I’m not sure you can be clearly distracted, but I was…let’s say…strung out. I had Ezra, my 17-month-old grandson with me, so that’s automatic happiness and automatic craziness. I was headed to an out-of-town meeting with some folks. Glenn was driving me in a horrific rainstorm and so I was looking at my iPhone; reading some email and Facebook prayer requests and requests for counsel about some marriage issues. The house I’d left behind had laundry all over the hall floor and toy trucks and helicopters and mermaids and crumbs everywhere. All over the bedroom floor was unpacked luggage from earlier trips. There was unread mail and unpacked shopping items on the counter (Wish that was all that was on the counter.) It had been a day for squeezing in stuff I did not expect. In fact, I had done a few of those kinds of days back to back.

Earlier in the week, my sisters and I had made a firm decision to inject coconut oil into the food at my dad’s house to boost his short-term memory abilities. We’d read amazing things in places like this—http://www.naturalnews.com/039811_coconut_Alzheimers_dementia.html. Although we know you can’t believe everything  you read on the internet, we thought “What can it hurt?”  We’d also been trying to figure out how we were going to juggle things during the upcoming week of the gospel meeting where my Dad worships, which, coincidentally, occurs at the same time as our own gospel meeting at West Huntsville. He would need help with things like getting his dishes to the fellowship hall, parking, etc…so we were all about making a plan for that week.

Well, somehow, in the frantic fray of the afternoon, I got confused about the date of the gospel meeting at Jacksonville. So I proceeded to make my daily afternoon check-in call to Dad:

Me: “Hey, Dad. How are you doing?”

Dad: “Pretty good. How are you?”

Me: “We’re good. Are you getting ready for church?”

Dad: For church? This is not Sunday, is it?”

Me: No, but Dad, did you forget? It’s your gospel meeting!”

Dad: “To tell the truth, I guess I did forget. I better get up and get my socks on and go to that. I guess it’s at seven?”

Me: “Yes. It’s at seven. You still have time, But I’m worried about you. You do not remember going to the meeting yesterday?”

Dad: “No, I can’t really remember that, but, I’ll get ready and go. I’m glad you called me because I was going to forget all about that.”

So then, of course, I contacted Sami, my sister who had just left his house. No answer. I tried her husband…her son. No response. Finally I left a message on Sami’s phone…”Dad did not even remember that the gospel meeting was happening this week. Did you figure out someone to help him with the fellowship meals and the driving? Let me hear when you get a chance. Love you.”

A few minutes later, I got a call from Sami.

Sami: “Hey…but the meeting is not this week. Remember? It’s the first week in March?”

Me: “Oh dear. You are right. I have to go right now. Bye.”

Of course, I immediately called my Dad, who was hurrying, as much as a nonagenarian hurries, to try and get there by seven. Bless him. He was going to brave the storm to get to an evangelistic effort that I just thought was happening at the Jacksonville church of Christ. On learning that I was the one with the mental glitch, he said “Well, I didn’t think there was a meeting going on, but I took your word for it. Thank you for calling me back. I think I’ll go back to bed, roll back over and go back to sleep.”

Four lessons learned (or at least temporarily cognitively stored in short-term memory):

  1. When you truly trust someone, you just put aside everything you were thinking and go with the trusted individual . That’s, unfortunately, what my dad did. He trusted me. That was not the right thing to do, because I’m obviously fallible (and crazy). But that’s how we are with the heavenly Father if we really trust him, and it is the right thing to do.  We’re willing to ditch our own plans and do life His way.
  2. Love your sisters. It’s a group effort to successfully serve your father on earth. It is certainly a group effort to serve the heavenly Father. You need your sisters. They’ll help you keep life straight. Thank God for them every day.
  3. Focus on the Father. Sometimes things…even important things…can make you lose your focus and get mixed up about what’s going on with the most important relationship..the one with the Father.
  4. Don’t be trying to get the speck out of someone else’s eye when the beam is in your own eye (Matthew 7:3-5). That’s exactly what I was doing…going nuts over the fact that my dad was forgetting important things when it was actually me who was forgetting. Sometimes I do that with sin. The sin that drives me crazy in the lives of others is the very sin with which I struggle or even to which I fall. Keep trying to help others overcome sin, but be sure you always have the humility and focus to look inwardly while you’re helping others (Galatians 6:1)….

Maybe you need to get the coconut oil for your own pantry. It is going on my grocery list for my own pantry…today! If it doesn’t work, I hope you’ll visit me at the home.

Survival Lessons for Kids in 2016

 

11357838_112293442443658_745312663_nIt’s New Year’s Eve and the blessings to our family have surpassed our hopes. We magnify Him for the opportunities and challenges, for Ezra and the joy he brought to this year from start to finish. We praise him for our children and for the doors he has opened for them to do His will. We are thankful for our parents who are still living and enjoying a measure of health (and, of course, for the continuing influence of my mother, who waits in glory).  Especially, as this year closes, we are grateful for our new daughter-in-law, Rebekah. She is the answer to many prayers and we will forever be thankful for Heaven’s response to those fervent daily prayers.

In this, the dawn of 2016, I’ve been thinking a lot about those who are younger parents trying to raise children for heaven in the present American culture. I know many of them who are doing a better job than I could ever do. But still, the mentality of the day is to ‘live and let live,” to deny the existence of truth and to, thus, affirm all beliefs and lifestyles. It has a strong undercurrent of  seeking human approval and material success.  So, it takes a lot of parental stamina to keep battling the devil as he tries to normalize behaviors that have, throughout our nation’s history, been considered shameful and diabolical. We try to battle on  while insuring that our families are seeking first His kingdom.

Here are five important lessons for the hearts of children in 2016.  I threw in a few examples from scripture in case you’re making a template for Family Bible time this year. Of course, there are many more examples in each case.

  • We will NOT always be like everyone else, but we will always be kind to everyone else (Joseph’s treatment of his brothers in the last chapters of Genesis, Israel clamored for a king in the early chapters of I Samuel, The one grateful leper in Luke 17).
  • We will love our country, but we will keep in mind that it is not this country that will abide forever (Paul turned to the Gentiles in Acts 13, Jeremiah—the weeping prophet, Hebrews 11 and the “better country”).
  • We will keep in mind that the most important things are not things at all (Esau’s bowl of stew in Genesis 25, Achan at Ai in Joshua 7, The rich fool in Luke 12).
  • We will put the Kingdom of God first in every decision this year (The Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5,6,7, Hebrews 10:25, 26, Stephen in Acts 6).
  • We will take every opportunity to tell people about Jesus (Peter and John in Acts 3-5, Paul’s sufferings for the gospel in II Corinthians 11, Paul and Caesar’s house in Phil. 4:22).

 

The transference of faith from generation to generation is not accidental. In a year that promises to be hostile against Christianity and a time that is certainly an era of “taking offense” (everybody is offended by everything and political correctness has thwarted rationality), it will take diligence to put conviction in our kids.  I’m praying today for Christian moms and their New Year’s resolutions!

Sister to Sister: She Suffered the Little Ones to Come

Roberta-EdwardsFor years I’ve heard about the selfless actions of Roberta Edwards in behalf of souls in Haiti. I’ve always wanted to meet and know her. I guess now I will have to wait till I get to know her in heaven…a short wait, when viewed through the eyes of the great Father we share as sisters. She inspired and encouraged me, especially as I followed the story of the 2010 Haiti earthquake and her response to those for whom she had sacrificed so very much. For those who are studying persecution in our Digging Deep 2015-2016 study, she stands as a modern-day example of one who constantly rejoiced through trials and even through persecution. Her death was due to an act of violence and we may well find, upon hearing results of investigations, that it was indeed “persecution for righteousness’ sake.” Will you join me in prayer for the children she left behind, for her family members who are grieving in indescribable ways and for the work for which she paid the ultimate price? Many have clamored for various women in the Catholic church to be canonized as “saints”. My sister, Roberta IS a saint (as are you if the blood price has been applied to your soul). She is a saint who is rejoicing in glory on this autumn night. But children in Haiti are weeping. I am praying that their joy, too, will come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). If it does, it will be largely because of the work of Roberta Edwards.

Here is the report about the shooting from the good church at Estes in Henderson, TN, one of her chief supporting congregations:

Our hearts are saddened to report the death of our missionary Roberta Edwards. On Saturday evening of Oct. 10, witnesses report that Roberta’s car was stopped by another vehicle which intentionally blocked her path. Armed gunmen emerged from the vehicle and fired into Roberta’s car, causing her death. Haitian authorities are investigating, and the identity of the perpetrators and the motive are not known at this time. She is survived by her parents, Robert and Laura Edwards.

Roberta was the administrator and “Mom” at SonLight Children’s Home in Port au Prince, Haiti, where dozens of children have received foster care over the years. Roberta also directed a nutrition center that feeds 160 children two meals a day, five days a week, in addition to providing funds for these children to attend school. At the time of her death, she was providing care for 20 children at her home. Her work has been overseen by the Estes Church of Christ since 2002. The facility where the children’s home operates is provided by Manna Global Ministries, and supporters of Roberta’s work in Haiti include individuals and congregations across the U.S. and beyond.

Roberta was a light to those in the community and dedicated to bringing hope to the hopeless. She knew that she worked in a dangerous setting, but had committed herself to care for children in Haiti despite these risks. Roberta has received her reward for her dedication to serving the Lord in Haiti. She will be missed in Haiti by her children, the community and friends. She will be missed here in the States as an encouragement and inspiration to us all. It is our intention to honor her memory by continuing the battle against Satan in Haiti and pressing on in the work of God’s kingdom.

Memorial services and funeral arrangements are pending, and we will provide updates as those become available. If you would like to honor Roberta with a memorial gift for the work in Haiti, those may be sent to the Estes Church of Christ, P.O. Box 191, Henderson, TN, 38340, and her family will be notified of your tribute. Please be praying for her parents, her children at SonLight Children’s home and the many Haitian brothers and sisters who are deeply grieved by this loss.

Sister to Sister: Links You’ll Like

Blessed is what I am for having been a part of the West Huntsville seminar this last weekend. Nothing…NOTHING I could have been doing would have been a greater joy than what I was privileged to do with sisters last Friday night and Saturday. I love God’s system of fellowship and I love His sisterhood. All glory to the God who so lovingly provides!

51647 West Huntsville Church of Christ - Living with Purpose - Seminar for WomenToday is a day of linking you up with the stuff of the past couple of weeks. If you want to hear Kathy Pollard’s lessons from our West Huntsville ladies seminar (and you should want to!) go here: http://seminar.westhuntsville.org. These lessons were excellent and we are indebted to Kathy for much time spent in preparation and prayer in advance and for travel and effort in coming to deliver them! It was a great weekend and, if you joined us, may I say a personal thanks. It meant a lot to me to see so many of you, who read the blog, live and in person.
If you want a t-shirt from the seminar, go here to order. We have a few left and we will try to take the order form off-line when we sell out. They’re SO pretty and they’re only $7.25 plus the cost of shipping.

11902329_10153223400334069_4584303358887639646_nNext, we have limited quantities of Digging Deep shirts left as well. You can order those here. I bought two of those for myself because I wanted a loose fitting one for sleep and jeans times and a snugger one for under sweaters. That’s probably too much information. They are all $14.00. The Digging Deep tumblers are $9.00. If you want a DD shirt and mug, you can get both for $20.00.11057325_10153223402374069_621797771850264280_n

The Digging Deep podcast is Tuesday night. I’m going to try to hibernate in between now and then and be ready to talk about the persecution of one of my favorite Bible characters when we come together here at 7:00 pm CT on Tuesday. Flori Barber will be joining me live then. Please invite others and let’s do this for 2015-2016! If you’re in North Alabama (or Southern Middle Tennessee), join us at West Huntsville for the pre-podcast discussion group study on Monday night (tonight!) at 6:30. This is a rich sharing time, as well. Lindsey Van Hook is leading that discussion.

So now you are all linked up.

I’ll close with my favorite encouraging word of the weekend. It comes from Lori Holland and it goes out to Denise Skelton, Hannah Giselbach, Nuris Reyes, Vickie Yocum, Katie Quintero, Amber Powell Kropelin, and who else? Here it is:

I would like to give all the precious mommas that are here (at the seminar) a virtual high five for bringing those sweet babies and kids and being determined to feast on the Word today. Mom on, ladies!

Sister to Sister: Another Chance–(Conclusion)…and His Women Getting Together!

tumblr_lyddxauOqc1r1o6z3o1_500She did not care that her family was not there. She did not care that her hair would be wet. She did not care that there had been a glitch in the temperature timer and the water was cold. She did not care that she was hungry and it was past lunch time. Maria just wanted to be immersed for the forgiveness of her sins. And so she was. She confessed that she does believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God and she was immediately baptized, buried with Him into His blood that, at that moment, cleansed of all her past sins and she began to be a grateful recipient  of the continual cleansing that will keep her ready for His coming for all of her faithful days. Praise God for “Another Chance”!

It was only a few hours before I received a message from a faithful sister who had read about the baptism on our congregation’s Facebook page. This sister had done mission work in Mexico and she knew a preacher who might be able to help locate a church for Maria. So I messaged this faithful man and he, amazingly, lives on the Texas/Mexico border, only thirty minutes from Maria’s home city. God is so good! And Facebook can be a great tool for His people.

A few days later, I was standing in line at the counter in a large hotel as the Polishing the Pulpit conference was beginning. Trying to get my room keys upon our arrival there—a convention, mind you, where 3800-plus people were converging—I overheard the man in the adjacent line giving the clerk his name. It was the same name as that preacher who lives in Texas! I turned to him and said, “You are looking for a church for my friend, Maria!”

“Yes!” he said. “I am!”

3800 people, who would go through scores of different processes and lines to get their accommodations at various times in the process of about four days…and I ended up next to this man, who was working on the same precious project for Maria as was I! God is good!

Later in that same weekend, the secretary from this church in Texas, a sweet-spirited sister, came up to me after one of my lessons and assured me that she has friends who live in the same community as Maria…people who will help her be faithful.  “We will not let her fall through the cracks.” I just have to say it again: God is SO good!

Additionally, due to circumstances which occurred following Maria’s return to Mexico, her family in Huntsville has experienced a transition. This has afforded Christians here an opportunity to help them find needed items and to begin a relationship with Maria’s daughter and her family. God is so good!

Will you keep praying to our God of goodness and providence for Maria and her family?  Will you pray diligently that God will help you identify and reach the Marias of your life? I know there are others in my life and Emily’s life and Bonny’s life, too. I know many of you have found more Marias than I have and I know lots of you have not needed a second chance to tell them. I’m not proud of the fact that I did need a second chance…another year and another mindset.

But I am so thankful for second chances!

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Now, don’t forget this weekend is the ladies seminar at West Huntsville. If you have something for which we should be praying on this Friday night, and you can’t join us in person, feel free to send me that request at ddprayers2015@gmail.com. We will be praying on that evening and distributing that prayer list to women for use in their own private prayer times. Some have already submitted requests. God will hear us all the time and individually, of course, but it is strengthening to pray together. I look forward to that time. Saturday will be a powerful day for our women at West Huntsville and all who can attend. I hope you’re in that number. It’s not too late to sign up and come at www.seminar.westhuntsville.org. In addition to the spiritual feast, there will be a physical feast, book tables, t-shirts and Digging Deep paraphernalia. There will be singing and praying and a Bible marking class. There will be encouragement and strength. And there will be men serving our lunch. That’s a first, I think, for our WH seminars, and we are liking it! Our husbands are great men who know how to lead and serve!

One more thing, Digging Deep podcast is on Tuesday night, September 29th. Be with us then and invite friends. They still have time to catch up with us as we are beginning this year’s Persecution study! Go live for Him! Go teach for Him!