Archive for February, 2015

Winter’s Bald Birds

“Praise the LORD from the earth…fulfilling his word…

creeping things and flying birds!”

 Psalm 148:7-8, 10

How do bald birds keep their heads warm in winter? My bald head wants to know.

This year, I have been more immersed into winter than ever before. Surely, the LORD has been generous with vivid reminders of His grace and glory. This morning was unique.

I watched the sunrise in an unusual setting today. My part-time ministry at a funeral home gave me the sleepy and cold opportunity to assist with a sunrise, graveside service. With the temperature in the teens, I was glad for many layers of clothes, a hat for my bald head, and for vehicle lights to set up in the dark on that breezy, icy, snowy hilltop cemetery. Burr.

And then the sun chimed today’s morning prelude. Through the naked trees all who would look saw creation’s colors on a horizon layered with deep pinks and purples. To me, the time just before the sun actually appears is indescribably beautiful and my favorite—sometimes it is bold; sometimes subtle. It is always promising. After the service, and while our crew waited for the family to say goodbye, I watched winter’s special gift this year: birds.

The birds of winter seem to bounce more and never stand still. Are their feet cold, too? Vigorously rummaging through leaves on the ground, they moved together, clustered close like other cold, dependent loved ones at a hillside grave. (In the shadow of naked trees snow and ice did not cover the ground.) Some birds had color; all had energy and focus. Even the bald ones didn’t seem to care about anything except their assigned call: scratching and eating.

I tasted of God’s pleasure in His birds on this winter morning as they “fulfilled his word.”

Father, the birds so easily praise You and bring You great pleasure—just because You made them and they exist. Why, then, is it so usual for me to waste words and time?

Thank You so much for the gift of winter feathered delights.

Pinch me every day so I will join in with their praise.

Snow Mom!

Snow Day, February 24, 2015

“He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes.” Psalm 147:16

 Sorry Mom—my anti-cold weather, fabulous mother-in-law—but I like snow and we have a little of it again today. There are twenty-four “snow” verses in the Scriptures and it would be fine with me if we had twenty-four days of snow so I could write about them each time!

Snow is a gift from God for the sake of earth and our worshipping hearts. All creation and creation’s gifts bring pleasure to God (Psalm 148).

Ultimately, snow is a divine illustration of God’s greatest work: our salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Winter’s song is our’s: “Let it snow, Let it snow, Let snow!”

 

Cold-Mageddon

Cold-Mageddon

“Praise the LORD from the earth…all deeps…snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!”(Psalm 148:7-8)

It is winter, after all. And the gift it is teaches us two spectacular lessons.

Our cold weather this month has been likened to the fierce battle of prophecy known as Armageddon. Cold-Mageddon brought us frigid temperatures, snow, and ice in unpredictable ways. Moving to Florida is not an option. Take it from me: I lived in Florida a long time and Florida cold is cold indeed.

Does God have anything to say about winter? Of course, all of creation’s original and sustaining activities testify of the glory of God. Winter, though, provides unique open windows into God’s provision and the ways He operates in our world.

Job 37:13 puts the seasons and weather in perspective, giving three summary reasons: “Whether for correction or for his land or for love, he causes it [weather] to happen.” The inspired weather channel reports several important applications through Job. Winter provides: an opportunity to slow down and think about God (37:14); to pray (37:19); to revere—fear the Lord (37:24); to renew our dependence on God (39:11); and, if necessary, repent of our whining (42:6).

Thus, winter is practical. My forester friend Jon says we need deep cold for extended periods of time to control pine beetles. Otherwise, in the warm seasons the beetles will kill pine trees. The first lesson is: winter’s striking gifts draw us to the glory of God, wooing us to live for and to depend on Father and Son.

The second lesson is, at first, more subtle and may be the hardest for us.

Poet Thomas Gray penned, “Full many a flower is born to blush unseen, and waste its sweetness on the desert air.” The wonders of winter are an offering to God for His pleasure—no matter if they are loud and public or quiet and unseen. So are our lives.

Of Psalm 147:7-8 (above) and Gray’s poem, John Piper writes: “…on the bottom of the ocean there [are] beautiful gems that no human eye would ever see, and that in distant deserts millions of flowers would bloom, blush with vivid colors, give off a sweet fragrance, and never be touched or seen or smelled by anybody but God!…So the praise of the deeps is not merely what they can testify to man. Creation praises God by simply being what it was created to be in all its incredible variety. And since most of the creation is beyond the awareness of mankind…it wasn’t created merely to serve purposes that have to do with us. It was created for the enjoyment of God.”

Do you live unrecognized—serving and living uprightly without notice or appreciation? Your life all by itself is an offering of praise to God. It matters even if no one else sees or hears.

Let us then praise the Lord for His wonderful, instructive, life-giving winter!

The Rhea Herald-News

February 11, 2015

Will We Be Bored in Heaven?

“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

“He’s with Jesus now,” Tom said to his adult children and friends soon after his father, Elmer, died Saturday. Jan had just read to Elmer from Revelation. It was an honor to be in the home, to hear Tom’s calls, and to drink in of a father’s love for his children, and a son’s love for his dad.

Later Tom asked: “Tell me John, what is Dad doing right now.” Thinking of II Corinthians 5:6, I said, “…while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. Your father is enjoying being with Jesus right now.” It’s a start.

The fuller story is: Like an anxious father who hides a play house he has built for Christmas for his daughter, God has chosen to keep secret what He has planned for us in the future in His presence. We can’t even imagine…“What no eye has seen…” When we were young lovers we hid special surprises from each other and delighted in the act of giving. Our God of love and surprises still does.

We know Jesus has gone ahead to prepare things for us. He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:1-3) Yet, there are still mysteries.

My favorite thing about our future is I will get see the face of God (Revelation 22:4).

Jonathan Edwards wrote a sermon, “Heaven, a World of Love.” He wondered out loud if we would get bored and said “No” for three reasons. First, we will have a greater capacity for joy in our new resurrected bodies—like “the sun in its fullest brightness, when it has no spot on it.” Second, we will have an ever-increasing capacity for joy—“enraptured with joys that are forever increasing, and yet forever full.” This reminded me of the thirst and hunger Jesus satisfies yet He allows to return—to again draw us to Himself.

Last, we will not be bored because we worship an infinite God. A commentator said, “Imagine the scope of the entire universe: trillions of shining stars, burning brighter than the sun; magnificent constellations; billions of spinning galaxies, all magnificent and vast, colorful and mysterious…Brilliant though they are, they fall utterly short in comparison to the breadth, length, height, and depth of the love of Christ.” Whew, I can’t wait!

We have a wonderful yet small glimpse of what Elmer is doing right now. The last thing he is, though, is bored.

The Rhea Herald-News

February 18, 2015

Dear Kids

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3

My youngest daughter and family trusted us and loved us enough to make a major life transition and move in with us. Two toddlers greeted us every time we came into the house; a baby girl sang the lovely songs of a newborn the last two months. They just moved to their new home and I am thinking about some of the blessings and lessons from the last fifteen months. Robin and Samuel: Please read this to the girls when they can understand. Readers: Listen in.

Dear Hailie, Shawna, Avery,

I am both sad and glad you have moved. How glad I am you are now at “the farm;” how sad I am that you aren’t here to fill our house with laughter, songs, and dance. Here are some things I want to remember and say to you.

Your minds are amazing. I love watching you learn. You are practicing one of the most important ways we love God—with our minds. Please continue to fill your minds with good things, and never stop learning, creating things, coloring pictures, and reading books. The greatest book ever is the Bible, and it brings me joy that you love your Bibles and are memorizing it for AWANA each week.

I have been thinking: living here was often fun but it was temporary. Shawna, the story is already circulating that after a couple nights in your new place you asked when you were going home. God didn’t intend for us to permanently live together. Living on earth is like that, too. While we can and should really enjoy the life God gives us, our real and best home is where Jesus is.

Thank you for being patient with me because I wasn’t always patient with you. My excuse is I am not very good with toddlers. But Jesus loved children and was patient with them. He spoke strongly to those who were impatient with children. You taught me a lot about what matters to Jesus.

Hugs. Your affection was wonderful and you gave it freely. Families and friends do that, and Christians are known for their love for one another. Don’t stop being generous with hugs to those you love.

Hailie and Shawna, the greatest thing about living with us was you both trusted Jesus to give you everlasting life. Others had the privilege to guide you in this, but we watched as you became Jesus-centered and practiced your faith. I will never forget the many times you both said you would pray for me when I was sick. Avery, you are too young to understand, but I regularly pray you will never reject Jesus Christ, who died for you and wants you to live with Him forever.

So, I thank God He sent you to live with us. Just like the Lord, you always have a home here.

Love, Popi

The Rhea Herald-News

February 11, 2015

The Strong Man

February 11, 2015

“[the sky]…like a strong man, runs its course with joy.” Psalm 19:5

Full-sun days cause a shout of joy, especially in contrast to previous gray days. Like this morning after breakfast with a friend, driving into the sun full-face is overwhelming. God’s glory in creation, strongly presented, is blinding and a miniscule glimpse of all He is. The brightness shields a full unveiling and reminds us: There is so much more.

And it brings joy. Every sunrise and sunset adds to our portfolio of praise: “…those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and evening to shout for joy” (Psalm 65:8). No wonder whining is displeasing to God (1 Corinthians 10).

Jesus, Creator and Redeemer, promises us His joy as He runs with us on our course (John 15). So, today Lord Jesus, poke me all day and night to join the heavens—and to run your course for me with Your joy. And…not to whine!

The Shining Light

February 9, 2014

“The heavens declare the glory of God…” Psalm 19:1

The glory of creation is not in the creation itself but in God who made it all.

Our response to creation expresses “…faith in the God who is not a power of nature (such as the deified sun) but is the creator who transcends the cosmos. The light that suffuses the universe is more than the radiance of the sun; it is the…shining light that hides God’s being (cf. Isaiah 6:1-3; Ezek 1-3).” (B.W. Anderson, Out of the Depths)

The weight-essence-importance (glory) of God is illustrated on a thickly clouded day like today, but is not alone. It brings two encouraging applications to mind. One, soon we will see God in His glory face to face (Revelation 22:4). We will live in the presence of “the Father and the Lamb,” seeing Him (them) as they are. No more clouds; no more hiddenness.

Two, there is a daily-ness to glory’s grace and mercy: The Father is seen and with us in His Son, who promised to His followers, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I dare not allow this to be passé. My reminder came early this morning when a sister-friend I call, “Song Lady,” texted me with the title of a song that had already ministered to her, “I am not alone,” by Kari Jobe. YouTube is such a gift!

I have a calendar and big to-do list, but I wonder: Is God asking me to do stuff, or…just to linger, listen, discover, and worship our glorious and gracious God for a while?

[I am always amazed that anyone reads my musings. Thank you. My computer has been in the shop and I have been sick since last week so I apologize for the break in postings.]

In the Refrigerator

Moonset and Sunrise, February 3, 2015

“…who commands the sun, and it does not rise; who seals up the stars; who alone stretched out the heavens…who made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south…?” Job 9:7-9

This morning, before a hint of sunrise, there was a stunning moonset in the western sky. The twenty-two degree outdoor refrigerator was quickly forgotten as a nearly full moon hung above the horizon on top of a thin layer of clouds. Constellations gazed quietly.

The phrase, “the chambers of the south” reminded me of watching sunrises from Brazil several years ago. The constellations in the southern hemisphere, unknown to Job, looked different or were misplaced by me (grin) and I could not identify them. Where was Orion? My coffee ran out too soon as I stood outside and wondered: Does the dawn come more slowly and linger in central Brazil or was my heart too enthralled?

Today’s moonset didn’t last long and when I turned to the east, there was another—another—pastel sunrise, quietly paving the way for the sun’s arrival.

My heart is thankful for God’s faithful sovereignty to command the sun to rise up today. No one else could or would for me—for you.



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