Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Gift and Power of the Written Word

Lisa Robert was an incredible wife, mother, family member, and friend.  God gifted her with the abilities to be an encourager, communicator of written and spoken words, an enthusiastic follower of Christ, a lover of life, as well as many other qualities.  Lisa constantly wrote notes of encouragement to her family and friends.  Some were on sticky notes, others on cards or in letters.  What a gift to have those written reminders.  Lisa was a woman who loved God and His Word and wanted others to know and love Him, too.  She was a student of the Bible and other books that encouraged her walk with the Lord.  Lisa’s husband, Kevin, entrusted Larry with her Bible to prepare for the service to celebrate and thank God for her precious life.  The Bible was zipped inside a cover.  When opened, all kinds of notes were inside of what she was learning and taking to heart.  Whatever page you opened the Bible to, it seemed as if those verses had been read several times, underlined, and had notes written on them.  Not only did she read the Bible, but she took to heart what it said and lived it.  The investment Lisa made in people and God’s Word leaves a rich legacy for her family and friends.  What a treasure for Kevin, Casey, Kelly, family, and friends to have those gifts and memories.

Lisa also spent time writing in journals.  Because she took the time to write out what she was learning and thinking, her family and grandchildren, someday, will have those to read for years to come.  While going through some of their mother’s things at home, Casey and Kelly found and shared one of the treasures Lisa had written.  As a cancer and stroke survivor, she knew the importance and gift of life.

Long ago, God knew that we would also need to be reminded of his love and care and that it would take more than what we could hear and try to remember at any given moment.  Thousands of years ago, he began inspiring men to write down and record His Message so we could read and learn more about who He is, how much He loves us, His desire to have fellowship with us, and know and accept the precious gift of His Son Jesus as the permanent sacrifice for our sins. 

Like Lisa, I too want to enjoy the journey, be bendable, and look for the moments God is creating.  And every day I want to desire to read, study, learn, and apply God’s Word so it makes a difference in my life and the lives of others. 

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words remain forever.
Matthew 24:25

And though all heaven and earth shall pass away, yet my words remain forever true.
Luke 21:33 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A New Year and Noah

“Noah and the Ark” is one of my first memories of a Bible story as a child.  Each year, it seems that whichever Read the Bible Through Plan I choose, the account of Noah, in Genesis 6-10, is a January reading.  I’m glad it is because it is an account full of important reminders for a New Year. 

When God decided to wipe out mankind and the earth, Noah, his wife, their sons and sons’ wives were spared because “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”  (Genesis 6:9)  Noah did everything just as God commanded him.”  (Genesis 6:22).  In obedience, Noah built the ark, exactly like God told him to build it, from oral directions.  After the ark was completed, two of every kind of bird, every kind of animal and of every kind of creature that moves along the ground came to Noah to be kept alive.  He took seven of every kind of clean animal, male and female and two of every kind of unclean animal male and female, and seven of every kind of bird to keep their kind alive throughout the earth. That was no small task.  Then Noah and his family entered the ark, as God had instructed, and the Lord shut them in.  The rains came, the water rose, and the earth was flooded, just as God had said.  After waiting months for the waters to recede and the dry land to appear, the time came for all to leave the ark.  The very next verse says that Noah built an altar and offered a sacrifice that pleased God.  Because of Noah’s obedience, God blessed him and established a covenant between Noah, every living creature with him, and a covenant for all generations to come. That includes us!  Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.”  (Gen. 9:11)  And God sent the rainbow as a sign of the covenant he made with Noah and all life on the earth.  
Some lessons from Noah:

* He walked faithfully with God.
* He chose to do the right things.
* He trusted God.
* He listened to God.
* He heard what God said,
* He believed what he heard.
* He acted in obedience, even when it was ridiculed and misunderstood.
* He followed God’s instructions completely.
* He was willing to wait for God’s timing.
* He trusted God’s provision.
* He recognized and thanked God for his provision, built an altar, offered a sacrifice and worshiped.

The story of Noah continues to convict, encourage, challenge, inspire, and compel me to live a life of faith, trust and obedience to the same God that Noah loved, listened to, served, and worshiped.  What great reminders of lessons to apply when starting a new year…and finishing it as well. 

Noah “…walked faithfully with God…and did everything just as God commanded him.”  May we do the same.
Genesis 6:9 and 22  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Christmas, 2 Anniversaries, and a New Year

Within a week’s time, Larry and I celebrated Christmas, 2 anniversaries, and the beginning of a new year.  Along with the festivities, we took time to pause, remember, and give thanks for God’s continual faithfulness and blessings to us.  On December 27th, we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and on January 1st, Larry's 35th anniversary at Tallowood Baptist Church.

A little over 35 years ago, a staff member and committee from Tallowood contacted Larry about coming to the church to serve as the Jr. High Minister.  At the time, Larry had been the Youth Minister at University Baptist Church in Coral Gables, Florida for two and a half years.  We loved the church, people, and community where we were investing our lives and were not looking to make a move.  Larry told Clois that he was very happy where we were, but would be willing to pray about the decision.  I remember Larry praying and asking God to change the desires of his heart if Tallowood was where He wanted him to serve.  We never had a discontent for where we were, but God began to give Larry a vision and excitement of furthering His Kingdom’s work in Houston with junior high students.  So on December 26, we set out for Houston, with Larry driving one car and me following behind him in the second car.  Fortunately, Mom had flown to Miami to pick up Scott, who was 14 months old, and take him to Houston so he would not have to make the long trip by car.  The second day of our journey was our 4th wedding anniversary.  Even though it was a long day of driving, there were blessings of both of us driving cars, in addition to Larry not having to listen to me talk for 17+ hours.  I still vividly remember several of the lessons from that trip of silence and listening:

* God will remain faithful wherever we live.
* We’re happiest and blessed when we are obedient to where God wants us to be and doing what He wants us to do.
* God equips you with the gifts you will need to do what He is calling you to do.
* You only have one chance to make a good first impression.
* The only comparison that would be beneficial was my life next to what Jesus would do.
* I had a choice of what my attitude would be.

It didn’t take long to realize that God was blessing us far more than we could have ever asked or imagined.  Besides being at a wonderful new church, we had the joy of living closer to family.  Through the years, Larry became the minister to all youth during interim times.  Then God began working in his heart again about ministering to families as well as the young people.  So 19 years ago, Larry accepted the position of Associate Pastor/Family Minister.  What a joy to watch God use the gifts and passions He has given Larry to bless and encourage others on their journey. 

What a privilege and blessing to be part of this church family for 35 years.  It was at Tallowood that all 3 of our sons made public their acceptance of Jesus as their Lord and Savior and were baptized.  They were part of Sunday School, worship services, choir, Vacation Bible School, Preschool, Mother’s Day Out, Mission Friends, Royal Ambassadors, Disciple Now (“Spark”) Weekends, Kingdom Basketball, Tallowood Players, Camp Tallowood, and Mission trips.  They were taught, mentored, loved, encouraged, challenged, and provided opportunities to minister and serve.  Scott & Abby and Chad & Lori were married at Tallowood.  Much of who our sons are today is because of the many ways so many people at Tallowood have contributed to and invested in their lives.   

During these days of celebration, thanksgiving, and remembering, we have continually been reminded of God’s love, faithfulness, provision, care, and blessings to us when we are willing to trust and obey Him.  And we desire the same for our children and grandchildren, even if it means they live thousands of miles away. 

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
Isaiah 26:8

Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips.
Psalm 21:2

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
    blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8 

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 
Psalm 106:1
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21