Friday, February 14, 2020

The Love Holiday


Father God, thank you for the words of love you’ve given me to remember this Valentine’s Day.

Psalm 86:5
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help.

2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.
For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.

Psalm 116:1-2
I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

1 Peter 4:8
Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Amos 5:14-15
Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live!
Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed.
Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice.
Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people.

Psalm 103: 8 and 13:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

John 3:16-17: 
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

1 John 4: 10-11: This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

Father God, you show us such love to forgive us. You become our tender Father. You teach us to love each other and to love what is good.

1 Corinthians 13: 8A: Love never fails.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Grace and Truth, John 7:25-53


There was much division among the people about Jesus, with the common Jews, and even among the leaders.

Some in the crowds were confused, knowing Jesus was the one the leaders wanted to kill. Others believed in him because of his miracles. Jesus bravely declared He’d been sent by God.

Verses 28-29: Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

The Pharisees sent to have Jesus arrested, but he boldly promised that the Holy Spirit would be given to anyone who chose to follow him.

Verses 37-39: On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

The people continued to be confused, and though some wanted to arrest him, because of his power, they were not able to at this time. Jesus was able to choose that time.

The leaders were only brave enough to scoff at Jesus and his believers among themselves, but Nicodemus, one of them, was willing to stand up and defend the truth.

Verses 50-51: Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”

In John chapter 3, Nicodemus was not so brave. But with Jesus’ grace, he grew to have that courage.

Lord, help me to be brave for you, like Nicodemus.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Psalm 119:105-12 Nun


נ Nun
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
    that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much;
    preserve my life, Lord, according to your word.
Accept, Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
    and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
    I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me,
    but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statutes are my heritage forever;
    they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees
    to the very end.


Father God, my enemy the devil is always trying to trap me. Thank you for the comfort and daily help I find in your word. Thank you for the joy it brings me. Help me to hold it tight, even when I’m struggling.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Sweet Memories, What A Gift


February 6, 1997:  We were at the bank the other day, and they gave the kids stickers that smell when you scratch them.  They were fascinated, sitting on the floor while we did our stuff, scratching and sniffing each other's stickers.  Suddenly Caleb said, "Oooohhhhh, this one smells like dead flowers!"

Ping-Hwei went across the street to Yvette's house the other day when he got home, because we were at the doctor.  She has a little baby.  We asked him that night if he'd had fun at Yvette's house, and he said yes.  We asked, what does she have? And he said, "TV!"  We started laughing at him, and quickly he corrected himself, "Baby!"

The other day Sarah asked if we'd known before she was born that we would have her someday.  We said no, but we'd hoped God would give us a little girl as sweet as her.  She said, "God was pleased with you, so He gave me to you."

February 13, 1997:  When the kids ask how I know something or other, I say it's because I'm a mommy, and Mommy's know things.  Tonight Caleb was saying something goofy, and I said that he was teasing me.  He said, "I was tricking you, because you're a mommy, and mommies need to be tricked."

February 21, 1997:  When the light in the play room suddenly turned off, Rebecca said, "Mommy, the light burned on." As Kathy replaced the bulb, Caleb asked, "Mommy, how did you learn to do that?  Did God show you?"

February 25, 1997:  Sarah removed cups and silverware from the table after supper, and said, "I'm being a helper, I'm unsetting the table.”

February 26, 1997:  Sarah was listening to a tape of "Dueling Banjos" today, not knowing the name of the selection, and she said to me, "It sounds like the instruments are fighting."

Rebecca was looking at my braille Bibles this morning, --they say Holy Bible on them -- and she said, "The Bible is so Holy."  I said yes, it was the Holy Bible.  She said, "It should be the Holy Holy Holy Holy Holy Bible."

The other day, Kathy and Murray were discussing ways of saving money, including whether they needed all of the parents' or kids' life insurance policies.  Kathy said, "Well, we could get rid of some of the kids'," and Sarah yelled out indignantly, "No you can't!"

March 10, 1997:  Yesterday, Murray was cleaning up the dishes, including some throwaway leftover food.  Rebecca said, "Put it in the mar geeneman stool, or whatever you call it." (garbage disposal)

March 13, 1997:  Sarah was talking about the girls' dollhouses this morning. She said Rebecca's has some dishes and napkins and things for dolls to pretend they're eating.  She said about her own house, "I just have a little table and two cups for water.  Too bad; the dolls will die."

Friday, January 17, 2020

A Gentleman in Moscow


When we visit our daughter Rebecca, she and I go shopping to look for special day gifts for my husband Murray.

Murray loves to read, so we always check out books.

During one visit, Rebecca picked up A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles and said, “I’ve heard a lot about this book.”

I respect Rebecca’s opinion, so I got it and gave it to Murray for Father’s Day.

Soon after he started it, Murray said, “I think this is the best book I’ve ever read.”

I don’t read only Christian books. But I have so many good ones that are specifically Christian waiting for me, I hesitate to use time reading something else. But the more Murray talked about this book, the more I considered it. In the end, I finished it before he did.

What an excellent story, and story-teller.

This is a fictional story, laid over the history of Russia from 1922 to 1954.

A Russian Count is exiled for life by making him stay always inside the hotel where he lives. He must move from his luxury suite to a small attic room, and live there the rest of his life. He can move around the hotel, but he will die if he ever leaves it.

So well written, such excellent writing craft.

A beautiful story. Of sorrow and hope and terror, of loneliness and friendship. Of new ways to be found useful and needed. Of unexpected relationships.

Excellent descriptions, of Russia, of this fine hotel, of a wide variety of characters. Delicate and amusing twists and surprises. Joy, sorrow, delight. Tragedy, miracles. I laughed and I cried.

And although this is not a specifically Christian book, there were potent whispers about Jesus.

And what an ending!

Friday, January 10, 2020

Psalm 38, David, a Man After God's Heart


Acts 13: 22: “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”

What a wonderful testimony for David from God, “a man after my own heart.” And what a lovely picture of grace.

Because, of course, David didn’t always do what God wanted him to do. Yet, that is the memory of David that God leaves us with in the bible.

In Psalm 38, I believe we have another look at how David drew himself close to God’s heart.

Verses 1-4: “Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger
    or discipline me in your wrath.
Your arrows have pierced me,
    and your hand has come down on me.
Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;
    there is no soundness in my bones because of my sin.
My guilt has overwhelmed me
    like a burden too heavy to bear.”

David spoke with honesty and bravery to his god. He cried out in pain, accusing God? Showing anger to God?

He admitted his sin, but begged for mercy.

Verses 5-6,18: “My wounds fester and are loathsome
    because of my sinful folly.
I am bowed down and brought very low;
    all day long I go about mourning.
I confess my iniquity;
    I am troubled by my sin.”

Verse 9: “All my longings lie open before you, Lord;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.”

While confessing his sin, David still knew it was all right to put his requests to God.

Verse 15,19: “Lord, I wait for you;
    you will answer, Lord my God.
Many have become my enemies without cause;
    those who hate me without reason are numerous.”

David had true earthly enemies. I don’t, but the devil is an enemy who seeks to harm me every day. I, too, need to depend on God’s help with this battle.

Verses 21-22: “Lord, do not forsake me;
    do not be far from me, my God.
Come quickly to help me,
    my Lord and my Savior.”

David knew God’s heart. At the same time he groaned because of his pain, accused God of piercing him, he begged for forgiveness and help, and he trusted God would come to him.

Lord, teach me to reach for this closeness to you.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sarah and "Little Women"


I didn’t grow up having a sister. For years now I’ve said, “But I have two daughters. That’s even better.”

One thing I love to do with my daughters is watch movies.

With Rebecca, we watch videos at her place, and she patiently turns the movie off again and again to explain what’s happening or to tell me what someone said that I missed.

Sarah and I do that, too, but we’ve also seen several shows in the theater. For that, she usually gives me a brief summary of the story first, so I’ll be able to tell what’s happening when it’s hard to hear in the theater.

This Christmas break, we decided to go see “Little Women.”

This time, I could hear most of what went on, but I was still glad Sarah had told me the story first.

She told me that there had been at least three movies made from the book, in 1933, one in 1994 and the most recent, before the one we saw in the theater, in 2017.

We went home from the theater and watch the 1994 version. Next day, the one from 2017. And the next day, from 1933.

Sarah asked if I minded watching them over and over with her. If she could only know how honored I was for her to ask me.

And, even on the last, we still stopped the video frequently to discuss who and what and where, as I grew to know the details better.

Four different interpretations of a beautiful story, four sisters, living during and after the Civil War.

As children, playing and laughing and fighting.

As young women, talking of marriage, helping each other get dressed and fix their hair, sharing their dreams and gripes and thoughts.

As women, moving apart, moving together again, dealing with sorrows and joys and learning to love life.

What a fun time to spend with Sarah.

Also, talking with Ping-Hwei and Murray as they moved around us, begging them to get us snacks and drinks, playing with our cat. I thought, “Look at all the fun I missed, not watching TV with the family as the kids grew up.”

Nah. Why regret what I didn’t do. Instead, I’ll thank God for the lovely gifts He’s giving me now.

We plan to visit Rebecca the end of March. I think I’ll ask her to start looking for a movie or two for us to watch together while I’m there.