Friday, March 26, 2021

John 10:1-10 Grace and Truth

Verse 10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.


The Thief, Satan, comes only to steal and kill and destroy. His purpose is to make our lives and our eternities hell. That is no surprise to most of us.


But what about the rest of verse 10? Jesus came to give us life, full, abundant life.


How often do I think about that?


What is the abundance of life Jesus wants to give to me?


In verse 9, he says I will be able to go in and out and find pasture. To me that says that as I stay close to Jesus, not only will I have my needs met, but also I have freedom to move about and find even more of what is available to me in life.


Verses 3-5: The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.


Jesus knows us so well, he calls us by our names. He wants us to recognize his voice, and he promises to lead us. The closer we stay to him, and the more we listen to what he says to us, the harder it will be to hear the voice of any who want to steal and destroy us.


Jesus, you want to keep me safe from those who would harm me. Teach me to listen to you and to open my eyes to the lavish delights of life you want to give me. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Sweet Memories, Some Thoughtful Words

February 3, 1998: Sarah fell at school last week and banged up her mouth and loosened a couple teeth. This morning, her mouth started bleeding again, and it didn't stop for a long time. She asked worriedly, "Do I have enough blood?" A little later she said, "It's never going to stop!" I was holding her later when she was sad, and I reminded her of a book we have called, "It's No Fun to Be Sick." I said, "It's no fun to be hurt either, is it?" She said, "Right now, I think hurt's worser than sick."


February 5, 1998: At lunch yesterday, Sarah went into the kitchen to get something. While she was in there, she said, "When I walk around in the kitchen, I feel proud, like I'm a lady."


February 10, 1998: The kids are going to a participatory theater this weekend, and Murray was showing them what it might be like, kind of growling at each of them. Sarah asked, "Do it again, use that stern voice."


February 16, 1998: This evening Murray and the three middle kids were coming home from the store. Rebecca said something mean to Murray, and then said in a mean way, "Oh, please forgive me." Murray said that he would if Rebecca really meant it, but she was just being mean. Sarah exclaimed, "Oh, Daddy, you're disforgiving."


February 16, 1998: Last night we were having hotdogs for supper. I was sitting in my rocking chair, Benjamin was at my feet, and Ping-Hwei was in the kitchen. I told Ping-Hwei to call Benjamin to come to him. He said, "Benjie, come here. Benjie, come here, I give you hotdog, eat."


This morning, Ping-Hwei was trying to scare me with the toy animals, like he always does. He showed me a turtle, and I pushed it away, like I was scared, like I always do. He said, "You love turtles. God made turtles."


This afternoon, when Murray got home, Sarah said, "Daddy, admire the house! We vacuumed it!"


March 2, 1998: We stayed at Jimmy's house this weekend, and all four big kids were sleeping in his living room. After everyone but Caleb was asleep, he said, "The girls are snoring." "I know honey," I said. "Like pigs," he finished matter-of-factly.


March 7, 1998: Last night the kids were talking about the circus, and what elephants do in the circus, and Rebecca talked about some tricks she saw at the circus, and then she asked, "Do you know what the tiger did?" "Eat people," Ping-Hwei suggested.


This morning Sarah was running between rooms talking, and she said, "I like to gallop when I'm happy, when I talk excitedly."


March 15, 1998: Rebecca and Sarah went for a little walk today. When they got back they were telling us all about it, and about how somehow Rebecca's shoe fell off, and Sarah said, "And it made me burst out laughing!"


One day last week Ping-Hwei was telling me how his computer wasn't working at school, and he said, "The computer no go to work."


Sarah had a substitute teacher one day last week, and when she came home, she said, "It was a much unnormal day." 

Friday, March 12, 2021

A Writer's Prayer

Lord, use me, my words, to touch people and show them your amazing grace, your real truths which can heal their hearts.

Throughout most of my Christian life, I have struggled between God’s grace and his wrath. I believe the Scriptures, that he is both a God of justice and a God of love.


Often, however, it has been hard for me to look at the Old Testament Laws, and the violent justice that was done in those times, then look at my sin and believe that God can forgive me.


I believe that Jesus died to forgive my sins, but I’ve often found it hard to let that give me peace. To truly believe that God has chosen to forget my sins and remove them as far as the east from the west, according to Psalm 103.


A book by author Tessa Afshar, A Pearl in the Sand, came at just the time I needed it.


I have been reading in the books of Exodus and Leviticus. In these books, I read about god’s wrath against sin. I also read about many laws which overwhelmed me. I’ve read these books a number of times before, but right now, they’ve particularly bothered me.


A Pearl in the Sand is about the army of Israel taking over the city of Jericho, as well as Rahab and Salmon’s love story. In this book, which is fiction, Rahab’s family is being taught the law so that they can join the Israelites.


During the lessons, a lady who weaves beautiful garments learns that she can no longer make garments of two kinds of material, such as linen and wool. The lady who teaches her about this says that Israel has many laws which are hard to understand. She says that God wants them to set themselves apart for himself. He doesn’t want them to fall into the habits and practices of the nations who worship false gods.


He has given them laws to make themselves different, separate to him, so they won’t be caught up in the sins of the other peoples. She said maybe someday, God would write his truths of being different on their hearts, and they wouldn’t need all of these laws anymore.


As I read this fictional account, I knew a peace from my struggles of reading the books of the law.


I have been a student of the Bible for over forty years. I have heard all these truths again and again, and I believe them.


I know about God writing his law on our hearts.


Romans 2:15: They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)


I know Jesus said he finished the law, completed it.


John 19:30: When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


I believe God loved us so much he sent his son to die for us.


John 3:16: 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.


I know he planned this from the beginning of time.


2 Timothy 1:9

For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus.


And yet, my fears come to me. The devil knows how to hurt me personally in ways that work especially on me and my fears and sorrows.


But if this fight comes to me again, I have a new tool to use against it, the words of this precious story. The work of this gentle author who has used wisdom given to her by God.


This motivates me even more as a writer to put into words for others things that will teach them about God’s love and grace, personally, in their special fears and doubts.

Friday, March 5, 2021

My Birthday Gift

Last week, I turned 60. First gift, my new book, Gifts of Grace, was released:


But that was hardly the end.


My middle kids—Caleb, Rebecca, and Sarah—planned and prepared a great surprise for me. An “Author’s Treasure Box.”


They collected quotes by writers, for writers, prompts to jump-start your writing on a dry day. They brailled them and cut them in strips, then stuffed them in a pretty little box.


I was delighted, sitting at the dinner table, reading through all of them.


“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” Ernest Hemingway


“Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” David Foster Wallace


“I can shake off everything as I write. My sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn.” Anne Frank


“Write a story from an inanimate object’s perspective.”


Write about your favorite daughter.” (Wonder who came up with that one?)


“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach


“A shoe falls out of the sky. Why?”


“Write about your favorite son.” Hmmm.


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Zora Neale Hurston


Fifty treasures.


I kept looking up at Sarah saying, “You guys, you guys.”


She said they wanted to do something special for my 60th.


Ping-Hwei and Murray listened as I read. Murray grabbed onto the prompts and took off to make up stories.


What a special time. Such a lovely reminder of what a precious gift my family is to me.