Monthly Archives: November 2013

A Christian Worldview – Under the sun vs Under the Son

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

– Conformed (under the sun) vs Transformed (under the Son) –

Driving through Fayetteville on my way home Thanksgiving evening, I was absolutely amazed at the hoards of people that had arrived early at WalMart for the Black Friday sale.  The parking lot was already full, and cars were pulling out to look for a space in the lot of the shopping area adjacent.  A few things came to mind after I finally made it through the traffic and onto 540.  First, as I am not fond of a normal days’ WalMart crowd, I was very thankful that I was not there.  Second, I couldn’t help but pray that there wouldn’t be any major incidents like there has been in the past around America.  Selby’s cousin Gina had made a comment over Thanksgiving dinner that other countries must think that some of the stories are made up.  I mean, really? Fights that break out over toys and electronics? Some of these news reports just sound concocted, don’t they?  Last, I couldn’t help but wonder how we got to this point.  We went from stores opening at normal time on Black Friday, to really early Friday morning, to really, really early Friday morning, late Thursday evening, to 7 Thursday evening?  Are we so in need of that deal that we forgo even 5 precious hours that we could potentially be spending with family to wait til even midnight to open the stores?  We may think it gives us more time to shop, but what about the employees who have to work those hours?

Do we really need the stuff we buy at these sales? Solomon in Ecclesiastes explained well what the mindset of someone who is apart from God (under the sun), and lives as though this life is all there is. 1:2 “Absolute futility,” says the Teacher. “Absolute futility. Everything is futile.”3 What does a man gain for all his efforts that he labors at under the sun? 4 A generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.”  And then he also gives his version of ‘he who dies with the most toys still dies’, “2:4 I increased my achievements. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. 5 I made gardens and parks for myself and planted every kind of fruit tree in them. 6 I constructed reservoirs of water for myself from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees…8 I also amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces…10 All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles. 11 When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.” It didn’t matter how much wealth (a.k.a. stuff) was acquired, there was still something missing… And there will still be – if a life continues to be filled up with things that don’t really add up or matter in the long run.

Do the people we are buying gifts for really need the items we buy?  I ask this last question because I know that oftentimes Black Friday is used as a tool for gift buying, and since it is the day after Thanksgiving, it is often viewed as the official ushering in of the Christmas season (although some would argue it’s sooner).  How many times have you worried over finding someone ‘just the right gift’, concerned that you would either not find it on time, or that the person would not enjoy what you gave them?  We have this society stolen, and at the same time self-inflicted excised joy of gift giving, and I don’t know how it happened.

Understand that I am not saying that Black Friday or Christmas shopping of any kind in and of itself is a bad thing. I just can’t help but wonder sometimes if we have lost the wonder of the Christmas season. Have we become so immersed in this world that we have absorbed its lack of amazement for the reason for Christmas? We have begun to view it as a time to receive the stuff we want and spend less time focusing on the ultimate gift that has already been given to us. What about that first Christmas gift?

When you consider the sacrifice that Christ made to come to us, it really puts things into perspective. He first gave up His heavenly home to come to us in the form of a babe, in the care of earthly parents, surrounded in flesh to dwell among us, experiencing what we deal with on a daily basis, yet without sin. This was all necessary that He could be the perfect redeeming sacrifice for us by death on the cross. The gift was wrapped in a bow when He rose on the third day, conquering death and making the way possible for us to someday be raised with Him. He came that we “might have life more abundant.” Here on earth and with Him in death – we are the reason for His gift…

When you take the time to consider what the gifts we give at Christmas represent, does it not make them mean a bit more? If you thought about the gift of Christ with each gift you receive, would you be even more appreciative of what was given?

My Mom still, even now that we are all grown and out of the house, asks us each year for a Christmas list. This helps she and Dad when they shop for us and also for the grandkids. I find each year that it is increasingly harder to think of items to put on that list. Now understand, I am far from perfect when it comes to material desires, but when anyone asks, “What do you want for Christmas this year?”, I have a very hard time answering. You can chalk it up to getting older, but I pray that it’s because what it happening is that I am maturing in the Lord, and getting more out from under the sun and a little more under the Son. Because the things that I really want for Christmas this year will be on my Christmas list for years to come. They cannot be bought in a store and cannot be placed in a gift bag or box. One thing is for our world to be at peace. This may never come to bear until our Lord returns, but if that is when it will happen I say “Come, Lord Jesus, Come”.  Next, I want to be able to spend time with family and friends, for there to be no conflict, and for everyone to be happy and healthy. Another, is for my love for my husband and his for me to only increase with each passing year. He’s truly a blessing to me, and I thank God for him. Lastly, that I will be able to grow in my relationship with God, that my love for Him will deepen, and that I will never take for granted the gift that He gave to me so that I can have life and have it more abundantly.

So, as we enter this Christmas season, may we dwell on the reason for it.  Let us not get wrapped up in what the world says the season is about or even what it isn’t. May we consider each gift given and received being a representation of the ultimate gift given to us. I think in light of this – no matter what it is – in our eyes it will be good, acceptable, or perfect.



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Forever Restored

When I was born, I only had one living grandparent – my dad’s mother.  We were able to visit her a few times a year – mostly holidays – and some additional trips to see her.  Unfortunately she passed away when I was eight, so as you can imagine, I don’t remember a whole lot about her.  When Selby and I started dating, he of course introduced me to his family. He had grandparents on both sides of his family and step-grandparents still living.  They all took me in like another granddaughter which has been so very precious to me.  I don’t know if Selby realizes that his grandparents have been in my life longer (16 yrs) than my own.  They hold a very special place in my heart.  A few years back, Mamaw Selby passed away, and I miss her every time I think of Selby’s dad’s side of the family.

This year we lost Mamaw McGee.  She was such a sweet lady with a kind spirit.   She fought cancer for many years, and along with battling other health issues, she finally succumbed and went to meet her Savior.  I never heard her complain, and I never saw her in distress.  I think only those who were very close to her knew when she was in pain because they could see it on her face.  Toward the end, questions on everyone’s minds were “Why does she have to suffer so?” or “Why does God not take her Home now?”.

I cannot attempt to sufficiently answer the question of suffering.  I do know that this body that we live in has been corrupted by sin – 1 Corinthians 15:42-43″…Sown in corruption…Sown in dishonor…sown in weakness”, but at the resurrection from the dead that we will be able to benefit from if we are in Christ we will be “…raised in incorruption…raised in glory…raised in power”  I do know that Mamaw is not suffering now…and that she will one day receive a body that is free of that cancer that plagued her for so many years.

I do believe that we all have a purpose here on earth, and I believe sometimes that purpose can be fulfilled through other people while we are here.  Mamaw McGee was a wonderful Christian wife, mother, church member, etc…  I put it that way not to downplay what she was in each of these roles, but because of the thing that may stick with me for the rest of my life, what may stick with many others, is what transpired toward the end of her life.  Due to an aneurysm and her cancer she was in need of around the clock care and was placed in Catherine’s Place, an assisted living facility in Fayetteville.  This facility is very nice with nurses that seem to care a great deal about the patients living there.  Mamaw wasn’t able to communicate really well and had trouble with the day-to-day things of life.  Burton would go by every day to be with his wife, to check on her and spend time with her.   Kathy (Selby’s mom), Greg, and Brenda (Selby’s uncle and aunt) would go by to check on her, feed her meals to her, and spend time with her.  They were often her advocates when it came to getting the right medicines since she couldn’t communicate for herself.  What I saw was a testament to who she was.  Why in the world would her husband and children take such good care, such loving care, of her unless she had been a good wife and mother?  The fact that she was at Catherine’s Place was an avenue for this family to share the witness and love of Christ as well.  If Mamaw had not been there, then the nurses at the facility would not have seen the love that Burton, Kathy, Greg and Brenda had for her.  They would not have seen the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of this special lady pile in to see her even when it was hard to see her.  It was hard to see her suffer, but I had to believe that somehow God was not through with her yet.  I saw in Kathy what I already knew – she is a loving woman, capable of putting aside her own needs for those she loves.  I saw in Greg what I think I knew, but now I know for sure.  He is a godly man who when confronted with the hard things in life steps up and takes care of his family, but with such a tender touch.  In all of this grounded in me a responsibility for my own parents as they age, and my prayer is that God will give me as much grace as He has given this family.

1 Corithians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

There are many people in my life that I have watched through the years battle sickness or challenges that have been astoundingly unshaken in the midst of their trials.  My Dad had colon cancer – had 18 inches of his colon removed and chemotherapy afterward – and except for the recovery time after his surgery, he never skipped a beat.  At church we have Judy Gray, Debbie White, Larry Morrell, Ginger Garren, and many others that have had some sort of sickness or challenge, but have refused to say “Woe is me!”, but instead say, “God is with me!”  They understand that God sometimes doesn’t lead us around the valley, He holds our hand through it.  These trials not only make our hearts stronger, they make our witness stronger also.  We can be steadfast because our God is – He is unchanging.  We can be immovable because our faith is built on a solid foundation.   Because of these things, we can fill every day with the work of the Lord, so much that it overflows into every aspect of our lives, and it will not be in vain.  I see who Judy, Larry, Kathy, Greg, and my Dad are, and who Mamaw was.  The way they live is a witness to who their Savior is – their labor is not in vain at all – because if I see it, the world sees it also and will wonder how they can be so strong in the face of such adversity.  And that is just another opportunity to tell them the who

I can only pray that if or when I am faced with the trials that these people have faced, I will be able to say to my God that I will walk through anything He leads me through with praise and thanksgiving because I know that He is holding my hand.


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Forever Trusting – The Good Shepherd

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”…27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

What a fitting description of what Jesus is to us – the Good Shepherd.  Not just a shepherd, but a good one.  If you take a look at another very important shepherd passage – Psalm 23 – you’ll see all the things that a Good Shepherd does for His sheep.

First he provides for the sheep’s needs -” 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul.”   There are many things we require as human beings that we can rely on in Christ – if we will only have faith that He will take care of us.  That is not to say that we will not have rough times or that we will have everything that our little hearts desire, but if we will pray to be in His will, God will be faithful to supply our needs.  I have seen it way too many times in my own life to not believe that.  Sometime our needs are not necessarily tangible, but more so in the mental, emotional, or rest categories.  God can supply these also – I have to admit that I have more trouble trusting that I can let go of things and allow God to take over and resolve them.  The Apostle Paul believed this concept wholeheartedly, even when he was in prison, awaiting trial, he still believed and claimed it for the Philippian church: Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus”. (emphasis mine)

The Good Shepherd also provides direction -“3b He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”  I don’t know how much you know about sheep, but from what I have been told, they are not the smartest animal in the world, and I am sure no matter how well a path is marked, they will wander off.  Selby and I like to hike, and we have several books on hiking, and when we are going to an area that is unknown to us, we like to do research on the area so we are somewhat familiar with it before we go.  These books and the research on the trails often give descriptions of the trails, give landmarks to go by and often tell what color blaze that trail will be marked with.  But sometimes it seems, even with all the information we are armed with, when we get to the trailhead, it is hard to see where to start because the trail is not well-worn.  It therefore is easy to get off the trail, wander off and end up not where we expected to be, only to have to reassess where we are so we can attempt to get back on the trail.  Thank goodness for the colored blazes – often times we find these when we are back tracking and find ourselves on the trail again.  Thank goodness for the Holy Spirit and the Spirit breathed Word of God.  We have the Holy Spirit within us guiding us on a daily basis if we will just let Him.  He will gently guide us on the right path.  Sometimes we need a good whack on the flank to remind us where the right path is, so don’t be surprised if that gentle direction changes to stern correction.  We also have the Bible as our guide-book – showing us the way, with directions on the right way to live and also warnings to keep us from the dangers of this world.  But, a guide-book with directions  and warnings is no help if it lies gathering dust on a shelf.  Immerse yourself in it – there are so many things you can glean about the path and also about the Shepherd Himself.

Another function of the Good Shepherd is that He protects and comforts us: Take a look at Verse 4:” Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”  What imagery!  The valley of the shadow of death – I don’t know about you, but when I really picture this, it gives me goosebumps – that watching-a-suspense-movie-ready-for-something-to-jump-out-at-me feeling.  It is not a warm and fuzzy, fear-no-evil kind of feeling.  But just picture it again, with Christ, the one who died and rose again – literally conquered death – walking right beside you. Kind of like having IronMan, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk all walking around you – but better. This picture makes the goosebumps and willies go away.  The shepherd’s rod and staff have important functions.  The rod was a kind of club that was mainly used for protection from wild animals or from human thieves.  It also could be used to guide from afar if the shepherd saw the sheep wandering – it would be thrown to send the sheep running in the correct direction.  It could also be thrown to keep the sheep from dangers such as cliff areas or poisonous plants they should not eat.  The staff was a long, slender stick that usually had a crook at the end.  It was for guiding sheep and for aiding sheep in trouble by using the crook end to lift them out of danger.  These tools had other functions also, but you get the idea of how important they were to the welfare of the sheep.  He guides us and protects us.  He corrects us and brings us back into the fold even if we wander – because we are never “out of His hand”.

In the earlier John passage, Christ said; “I lay my life down for the sheep.”  Do you think any other shepherd on earth could make this claim?  If an earthly shepherd did this, then his flock would surely meet its doom.  But our shepherd – the Good Shepherd is one like no other – one whose sacrifice saved us and gives us the assurance of eternal life.  One that allows us to have faith that nothing can keep us from the love of God.

Romans 8:35-39 restates this assurance: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We have confidence in this “Deut. 31:8 It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”.  A shepherd was an occupation like none other – the majority of their lives was lived with their sheep –  Watching over them, providing for them, protecting them, living among them.  Their lives, their welfare was his responsibility.  His presence was calming for the sheep, because they knew him – they knew his voice, and knew that he was there and would not leave them.  And we too, having heard the voice of Christ can have the assurance that He will never leave us or forsake us.

Don’t you just want to thank Him for that?


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Forever Reflecting

Selby starting looking for a house to purchase about a year before we got married.  Although I wasn’t going to be living in it just yet, he involved me in the search process, and when we found a house that we both thought we could make a home once we did get married, he made an offer, the owners accepted, they signed the papers, and Selby became the owner of the house.  At the beginning, we did different things to spruce it up – like tearing down wallpaper and painting rooms.  Now that we have been living here for 10+ years, we have accumulated Stuff – you know the Stuff you don’t know what to do with…  And just what do you do with all this paper?  I have the type of personality that I need for there to be a place for everything.  And when there’s not, it drives me a bit batty.  You’ve seen those Celebrating Home or Better Home and Gardens homes – well, my house is NOT like that, but sometimes it really frustrates me that I can’t be that way.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s not the things in those magazines – it’s the order that those pictures represent.  Over the years we have taken on several different home improvement projects, and I keep thinking, “when we are finished, maybe…”.  One day I feel that we will be able to finished what we started with this house, and I will finally be satisfied – maybe not necessarily with the house, but with the feeling of finishing something we started so many years ago.

So why the rant?  I have a point.  I promise.

Sanctification – we are, we are being, and we will be perfectly sanctified.

When we turn to Christ, recognizing that our hearts are covered in sin, and we ask for forgiveness that only He can give because of His precious blood sacrifice on the cross for us, we are bought and paid for – the papers are signed and sealed and we are His. 1 Corinthians 6:11 “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”  Washed. Justified – made right in the sight of the Lord.   We are sanctified – set apart for God’s purpose for us.

Even though we are set apart, we are obviously not perfect – just like any house you buy or build is probably not going to be perfect.  We have flaws and we cave to pressure and sin, and sometimes we even hoard those sins or bad habits.  The concept of being initially sanctified (saving grace through faith – the foundation) and then also being progressively or continuously sanctified is that we fix our eyes on Christ in order to keep our hearts from getting cluttered with the things of this world.  We do heart improvement by studying His Word and spending time in prayer and by spending time with other believers in worship.  Keep in mind that this part of the process is completely separate from the paper signing…we do this not so He’ll keep the deed, but because He already holds and cherishes it.  Sometimes I find myself comparing my Christian walk to a fellow believer’s walk.  I have to remind myself that just like the houses in the magazine, that person may have some rooms with Stuff hidden in them, so it is best for me to just follow Christ the best way I know how, using Him as the ultimate example.  Following others as an example is fine, but setting them up as the model of perfection is not the way to go because no human on earth is perfect.

One day – we will be perfect.  One day He will come for us and this process of sanctification will be complete.  We will be free from the sin that makes our life messy and miserable.  One day we will be like Christ who perfectly reflects the Father.  We will be able to serve and worship our God perfectly just like how we were created and we will love every minute of it.

In the meantime…”He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be….”

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Sit With You Awhile

This song goes along with the “Forever Family” post.

Sit With You Awhile

D G 
Verse 1:
D                            G
When I cannot feel, when my wounds don't heal
        Em         G           D
Lord I humbly kneel, hidden in You
Lord, You are my life so I don't mind to die
        Em           G         D
Just as long as I am hidden in You

                 D              G                       D
If I could just sit with You a while, if You could just hold me
               A                   G                D
Nothing could touch me though I'm wounded, though I die
                 D               G                  D
If I could just sit with You a while, I need You to hold me
              A           G            D
Moment by moment, 'till forever passes by


Verse 2:
D                               G
When I know I've sinned when I should have been
        Em         G           D
Crying out my God and hidden in you
Lord I need you now, more than I know how
        Em           G         D
So I humbly bow, hidden in you
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Forever Family – “Daddy”

There are many names of God in the Bible.  There are names that describe the extent of His power and majesty:  El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty), El Elyon (The Most High God), El Olam (The Everlasting God), Jehovah Sabaoth (The Lord of Hosts).  There are names that tell us what He is to us or what He does for us:  Jehovah-Raah (The Lord My Shepherd), Jehovah Rapha (The Lord That Heals), Jehovah Shammah (The Lord Is There), Jehovah Jireh (The Lord Will Provide), Jehovah Shalom (The Lord Is Peace).  All of these are very important to who God is and are very special to us.

But to me what is tremendously precious is that when we are brought into the fold of God, when we are healed from our wayward life by the provided way of salvation and given peace – we are adopted into the family of God and then can call Him “Father”.

Galatians 4:4 “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”

Redeemed through His own Son, adopted as sons and daughters, heirs through God. Wow!  And we can call Him “Abba, Father”.  This by far above all others has been my favorite name of God. The fact that we can call Him Father does not seem to distance us from Him like some of the other names.  The fact that we can call Him “Abba, Father” evokes an intimacy that even Father cannot.  It was thought at one time that Abba was a term young Jewish children used to address their fathers,  but has also been found that older children and even adults used the name also.  So, the combination of Abba and  Father creates that sense of close familiarity that relates to our English term “Daddy”.

I don’t know about you, but as I have gotten older, my relationship with my father has developed from what it was when I was young, but he is still my “Dad” or even at times “Daddy”.   He is still that person who I can go to for wisdom or for comfort, and even now I can recall those times when I sat in his lap when I was hurt or when I was upset about something.

Christ used the name “Abba, Father” in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest. Mark 14:36″ And He was saying, ‘Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.'”  He was under stress, about to face pain and agony – even death.  And yet, He addresses God with the most intimate name we have for Him – not the ones that bring to mind His power and might, but the one that shows the relationship of Father to Son.

For me this idea of God as Abba, Father – as “Daddy” – encompasses much of what the other names of God reveal to us.  I understand that we cannot lose the power and majesty that some of the other names might reveal that this may not, but I am so struck by the closeness I feel by the thought that I can address God much like I would my own earthly Dad, crawl up into His lap when I need Him and have Him just hold me – because there are times that I need Him to do just that.

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