Those Who Know

6325259a3ec2cdd15a2b3fbf87cf9de4It happened yesterday; it was one of those bright light moments of fresh comprehension. As I was reading Psalm 9, a verse stood out from the rest like a sunflower in a field of bluebonnets.

The words that caught my attention were a positive affirmation of God’s faithfulness: those who know Your name will put their trust in You.

At certain times and places, God would use a specific name to reveal His character to His people.  Many of the Psalms speak about the nature of God. From the many, I share a few that encourage me to put my trust in God:

  • Psalm 3:3 tells us that God is a shield.
  • Psalm 5:11 where God is seen as a defender of His people.
  • Psalm 13:6 states that God provides for the needs of the faithful.
  • Psalm 19:14 praises God because He gives the strength we need, and He redeems us.
  • Psalm 23:1 reminds us that the Lord is our Shepherd.

Then, there is Psalm 18:2 which is a compendium of God’s attributes. As you begin a new week, I encourage you to think about it today:

I will love You,  O Lord, my strength.  The Lord is my rock  and my fortress  and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

More Than A Might Be Deity.

faithOne of the best-known and well-liked chapters in the Bible, is Psalm 23.  In times of heartache, people contemplate its principles and find solace in its truths.

This past week, I was offering comfort to a daughter as she said her final goodbye to her mother and father.  I called her attention to the word “is” in the first verse of the psalm:  The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want.

God is an is God; He isn’t a has been or a might be Deity. This is the difference between the pain of the world and the promise of heaven. It’s more than a wish; it’s God’s centuries old pledge: The Lord is my shepherd.

The Lord is also:

The list above compliments the shepherd-sheep relationship woven within the verses of Psalm 23. I encourage you to refer to this list throughout the week so you can deepen your relationship with the good Shepherd.

The Journey From 36 to 63

b86b37a33a5544e8d823e5af1984dbbeIf 36 is old, how much older is 63?   A dyslexic would find this to be a challenging question, and it was one that has set my mind to thinking.

On the 18th day of this month, I’ll be 63.  It dawned on me a couple of weeks ago that 63 is the dyslexic version of 36—my dad’s age when he was fatally injured while working in the oil patch.

That was 1965 and this is 2016.  In 1965, I thought 36 was old.  Now that I’m 63, I realize how young Dad was when his life was snuffed out by an explosion. I began to reminisce about this while I was meditating on the first verse of Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, and I shall not want.”

To be honest, for the first third of my life, I wanted nothing to do with the Shepherd.  I was a black sheep who lived in a perimeter outside of the Shepherd’s fold.  I thought I didn’t need Him and was just fine without Him, but that all changed in 1972—I got real close to seeing Dad again.

As the ambulance rushed me to the ER, the scream of the sirens was muffled by the power of  the dark shadows of Death  as they began to close in on me.  I guess the Shepherd was just getting my attention.  He had to overwhelm with the darkness before I could be over-joyed by the light of His presence, and it was a life-changing experience.

Several years ago my Dad’s older brother was succumbing to the ravages of cancer, and I visited him almost daily.  Kenneth would drift in and out from being very lucid to a state that was both mysterious and delirious.

As Kenneth was crossing back and forth between the boundaries of heaven and earth, he’d see his loved ones, and say: “Well there’s Mom and Dad.”  When he drifted back into the reality of his room for a few minutes, we’d discuss what he’d just seen.

One time Kenneth drifted away and as he walked the streets of gold, his face lit up with a smile, and he said: “Look at that!  There’s Eddie.”

Since Kenneth had just seen my dad, I asked him for a favor: “Kenneth, when you cross over and get to heaven, tell Dad ‘Hello,’ for me.  I haven’t seen him for a long time, and I still miss him.”

Kenneth barely had time to honor my request before he began to drift away again.  This time was different; he became calmer than I’d seen him for weeks, and he said, “Well there’s Clara Mae,” and he was ready to die.

Clara Mae was his wife who had died a few years earlier.  Along with her, Kenneth had also found his parents, his brother, and his wife, but most importantly the Shepherd had found him.

Jesus has been a good Shepherd to me.  He once said that He came to “seek and to save the lost.”  I’m glad He kept pursuing me and that I finally heard the Shepherd’s invitation to join Him.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 ~The Message

A Mind Full of Memories

2012-02-26-sandhillsOn Thursday night of this past week, I received a phone call about 10:30.  It was a call from my cousin:  “Hey Stan, I wanted you to know that Mom just died.”

I didn’t sleep much that night.  I kept thinking about my Aunt Ila.  I reminisced about my childhood days at Sallyards, and the Seymour gatherings at that white house bordered by railroad tracks on the South and surrounded by the captivating beauty of the Flint Hills.

My memories were of a time when both Ila and I were much younger.  As I thought of her, I remembered the sound of her joyful laugh, the infectious smile that lined her face, and the sparkle in her eyes.  Most of all, I remembered her kind gentle spirit and the warmth of her ever-present love.

As I thought about her love, I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul:

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! 

~Romans 8:38-39

I hope this verse convinces you, as it does me, that not even the princes of darkness can separate us from the love of God.

When you are stirred up and trampled down by the tragedy of death and the miles of trials you’ve walked in your life, why not take a peek at things from God’s perspective? God has a hold on you and He isn’t going to let you go.

Jesus said:   My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Are you “persuaded” by the words of Paul and convinced that there is no power on earth or below or heaven above that can separate you from the love of God?

I think Aunt Ila was convinced of this truth.  I think she could say:  “We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him (I John 4:16).”

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Whenever I look North of Highway 54 and my eyes see an empty and vacant pasture that used to be Sallyards, my mind is still full of memories.

One that remains and will always be cherished is the memory of Aunt Ila’s love.

Who is Jesus?

easter01This is a momentous week in the life of the church.  Because it has been framed by two monumental events of history, it is the week traditionally referred to as “holy week.”

It’s a week that began with Palm Sunday, and it will end this Sunday with the celebration of Easter.  Palm Sunday is associated with the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, and Easter is the joyful recognition of His resurrection.

There’s a three word question that was asked by those who observed Jesus on Palm Sunday. As He rode a white donkey through the narrow and dusty streets of Jerusalem, they asked:  “Who is this?”

The Gospel of John presents a group of witnesses that offer a line of testimony that answers this question:

  • John testifies that Jesus turned water into wine at the marriage supper of Cana.
  • The nobleman gives a detailed account of how Jesus simply spoke and his dying son was healed.
  • The man who had been crippled for 38 years jumps in the air and clicks his heels together to show the miraculous manner in which Jesus healed him.
  • The little boy holds up an empty lunch pail and says: “It had just enough food for my dinner, but Jesus blessed it and there was enough to feed 5,000 people.”
  • The seasoned fishermen relive the moment when they thought their boat was going to sink and they were going to drown: “The Master appeared out of nowhere, walked on the waves, commanded the water to be still, and we were saved.”

After listening to all the testimony, a man rises and says:  “May I speak?  I think my evidence is conclusive.  You see, I was dead, but somehow I heard the clear and loud voice of Jesus:  ‘Lazarus come forth,’ and I shook off the chains of death.  I’m living proof of who Jesus is.”

Who is this?  Jesus is:

  • The Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
  • The Bread of Life.
  • The Light of the world.
  • The Good Shepherd
  • The Way, the Truth, and the Life.
  • Resurrection and the life

Who is Jesus to you?