Thursday, September 28, 2017

Psalm 119, Aleph

We studied from the book of Psalms this summer at church, Jesus’s song book. One Sunday we discussed Psalm 119.

Psalm 119 is a song about the wisdom of God which we can find in his word. It is an intricately done poem, each stanza successively highlighting one of twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet.   

The psalm tells us of the benefits of God’s wisdom, his law, his commandments. Our pastor discussed how clinging to them is like a rock climber clinging to a harness. Not to constrict him, but to keep him safe so he can climb to places he would never otherwise have gone, heights he would not ever have reached. Not constricting, but freeing, giving joy. What a wonderful picture of our relationship with God.

I want to go through this Psalm carefully and find out what new things God has to tell me there.

Verses 1-8, Aleph:

Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
    who walk according to the law of the Lord.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes
    and seek him with all their heart—
they do no wrong
    but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts
    that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast
    in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame
    when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart
    as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees;
    do not utterly forsake me.

Dear Father, thank you for giving us your word to help us know you. Help me to seek you with all my heart. I want to praise you with an upright heart.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Grace and Truth, John 4:43-54

This short passage leaves me with several questions.

An official asks Jesus to heal his son, who is dying.

Verse 48: “Unless you people see signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.”

This seems harsh to me. The man is afraid his son will die. Surely he would seek help from any source he thinks might possibly help him.

Again, I think Jesus is doing more than one thing here. He has returned to his home, and people are interested in him, not because he is one of them, but because they have seen him do miracles.

On Jesus’s human side, it’s reasonable that this would upset him. Also, I don’t know how exactly, but I believe he’s using this as a teaching example, to bring people to a better understanding of God.

He does show compassion to the man and heals his son.

Verse 50: “’Go,’ Jesus replied, ‘your son will live.’ The man took Jesus at his word and departed.”

The man took Jesus at his word. What a wonderful example of faith that is. And the results?

Verse 53: “Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and his whole household believed.”

Not only did the official believe in Jesus, but his whole household.

I think that might mean his servants as well as his family. Did they just believe because he did, and that’s how families worked back then? Or was he so convincing, and the miracle so convincing, that they personally had faith in Jesus?

Does it matter? The impression is that the belief was solid.

I thank God for the questions and truths his word always brings to me.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Christmas 1993

I found another treasure in my old computer files—our Christmas letter from 1993. Some fun memories, some I hardly remember at all.

Christmas 1993, Montgomery, Alabama

Dear Family and Friends,

What a joy it is to again celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus to earth! And whether they know why or not, most people, at this time of year, feel a special sense of kindness and hope. We pray that those of us who know Jesus will use this opportunity to share withothers why they can have hope and joy.

It has been another fun year for us. Murray changed jobs. Again. He now works for a home health agency, providing Occupational Therapy services to people in their own homes. His favorite part of the job is teasing old people about how old they are.

The kids are growing up. Kathy's trying to figure out where all the rumors come from about stay-at-home moms being bored and having too much time on their hands. Kathy has been reading a lot, and spends time trying to teach children letters and numbers and adjectives and Bible stories and manners. It's very difficult.

As our babies grow into little people who do things, we can't put into words how overwhelmed we are at what a wonderful gift God gave us in our children. Sarah will be two in January, and she is growing up. We've always been convinced that she's probably the cutest baby ever born. Now that she's changing into a little girl, she's staying just as cute. She loves to give hugs and kisses and to pat and rub our backs. She's crazy about her brother and sister ("La-La and BEH- buh") and she's learning a lot from them. She sounds just like Rebecca when she says, "Don't!" and just like Caleb when she says, "No!"

Sarah had an appointment with a pediatric optometrist In November and, after apparently being able to see almost nothing except light 14 months ago, she now sees everything in front of her (maybe a little near-sighted). We give God and prayer all the creditfor this miraculous change.

Rebecca turned three this September, and she continues to amaze us with how grown up she seems. Recently she told us, "I want to go to Heaven now and see Jesus." We told her that would sure be good for her, but we would like her to wait and stay with us a while longer. We told her that when she's a little older, she can have Jesus come live in her heart, and that would be almost as good as going toHeaven. She said, "I can't see Him in my heart; I can feel Him."

Caleb, too, who will be four in January, is becoming quite a big boy. Unfortunately, he seems to have forgotten the Chinese he knew when he came here, but it is awfully cute to hear our little Chinese boy talking with a southern accent. For example, he loves to drink "MEE- ulk" for breakfast.

One of the cutest things he says is to tell us that he is some other person, usually someone he's just been with. When he's been in Diane's class at church, he comes home and says, "Mommy, I'm Diane." When he's been at his swimming lesson at the YMCA, where Amy is his teacher, he says, "I'm Amy." One morning Kathy read the kids a book about a moose. That afternoon someone asked Caleb what his name was, and he said, "I'm a moose." Caleb seems to have recently remembered, and talks about, his missionary parents in Taiwan, Ted and Bev. We are surprised but glad that he recalls thatimportant part of his life.

As required by immigration services, we re-adopted Caleb in Alabama this year. Then, we took him to the Immigration office in Atlanta and he received a certificate of citizenship. After that Caleb often told us, "I'm a citizen." He is now going, two mornings a week, to a preschool for hearing and visually impaired kids. He seems to like school, but about the only thing he'll tell Kathy about it when he gets home is, "Mommy, I ride the school bus!"

Rebecca goes two different mornings a week to a preschool at Dalraida (del RAY duh) Baptist Church near here and, after a rocky start ("It wasn't a goodday, but we have stickers") seems to be enjoying herself.

Murray was elected to be a deacon in our church this year. There was some question as to what his duties would be. Someone suggested that he be in charge of keeping rodents off the church property. Finally, though, he was put in charge of what is called the "Contact Care Ministry." This involves keeping in touch with members of the congregation who have spiritual, physical, financial or other needs and attempting to coordinate the services of the congregation to meet these needs.

Also, Murray has taken up a new hobby, collecting hats. If you come across a really unusual hat, please feel free to send it to us. He still feels the call to be a preacher, so please prayabout that. (For him, or for the unexpecting church?) We've joined the new choir at church, and the leader (called Adolph, for his hard-driving ways) is glad Kathy is there to "round off Murray's rough edges." Perhaps a family gospel album is in store. NOT!!

We are also teaching the junior high/high school Sunday school class, currently studying the book of Mark. We are a little sad when half way through a day's lesson kids ask, "Now what book are we reading?", but excited when they (each required at the end of class to ask one question about that day's Bible text) ask insightfulquestions. Our time is not wasted. We are not really sure where the Lord Jesus is taking us or how He plans to use us, but we're astonished at what's gone on to this point, so we know it's going to be good.

Murray and Kathy for all

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God." Job 19:25-26

"You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to givehim the name Jesus." Luke 1:31