“Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” (Ephesians 3:20)
Anyone deciding to start following Jesus should buckle his seat-belt and prepare to be surprised. Nothing is as you expect it to be.
Consider such statements as…
–“Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
–“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
–“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love Him” (I Corinthians 2:9).
When I asked my wife for the scripture that comes to mind on this subject, she said, “When Naomi returned from Moab widowed and childless, she said to Ruth, ‘I went out full but the Lord has brought me back empty.’ (Ruth 1:21.) She had no idea the Lord was about to put her in the lineage of the Messiah, something far better than she could ever have asked or planned or imagined.”
Did you hear about the senior couple who got married and spent their honeymoon getting out of the car?
It’s funny only if it doesn’t apply to you.
Since it appears we’re now doing a brief series on the subject of seniors remarrying, we thought there should be a place to record things that made us laugh, the silliness that has kept the fun in our relationship.
Oh, one more thing before we go on. Keep in mind that lovers often laugh at things no one else would, that they have secret, little inside jokes based on something said early in the relationship, and so not everyone will find what follows as humorous as we did. And that’s perfectly fine. We’re not going into the stand-up comic business.
Bertha and I had not been seeing each other more than one week, but already knew the Lord was in this. In one of our nightly (8 pm) phone calls, she said, “What would be a deal-breaker for you in this?” One would think this would bring a serious response from me. But my mind doesn’t work that way.
“Two are better than one…” (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
It was for good reason the Lord said “It is not good for man to be alone.” He who made humans knew them. “He knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” (Genesis 2:18 and Psalm 103:14)
The Heavenly Father knows we need someone in harness with us.
Ever try to row a boat with one oar? By stroking only on one side of the boat?
Without the counterbalance of the other oar, we tend to get off course, to go in circles, if you will.
Most of us need marriage. We are better people as a result of being joined in wedlock to someone different from us, someone who loves us, but who sees life from another angle and brings their own perspective into every issue.
Consider this a word in favor of marriage and remarriage.
Bertha and I were married to our spouses–Gary and Margaret–for some 52 years each. The Lord took Gary to Heaven in May 2014 and He took Margaret in January 2015. While we had never met each other’s families, Gary and I had been friends since seminary in the 1960s. Bertha and I met for the first time on February 15, 2016. We were married on January 11, 2017 after eleven months of visits (we lived 200 miles apart), phone calls, texts, letters, and all the usual stuff.
As I sit at the laptop typing this, our marriage is two weeks old. I recommend it!
A child expresses dismay that her grandmother is thinking of marrying again. She may say this, or perhaps it goes unsaid: “How can anyone take grandpa’s place?” Her older siblings are surprised to think of grandmother going to bed with another man. “And at her age!”
An adult son expresses dismay that his father is thinking of marrying again. He may voice this, or perhaps it goes unsaid: “He’ll end up marrying some young thing who will walk off with our inheritance!” His sister adds, “Mom has a dog for companionship. What does she need with a man? I thought she was beyond that.”
Dear Lord, even if I pray in faith and dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, but am praying something which I will regret forever and which is not what You have planned, please ignore me. Thank you for hearing this prayer!
Three men in the Bible–really godly men, the best of the bunch–prayed at one time or other for the Lord to end their lives.
–Moses in Numbers 11:15 “If I’ve found favor in Thy sight, please kill me.”
–Elijah in I Kings 19:4 “That’s enough now, Lord. Take my life. I’m no better than my fathers (and they’re all dead).” My paraphrase.
–Jonah in Jonah 4:3 “Death is better to me than life, so please take my life from me, O Lord.”
Do you enjoy the TV quiz program “Jeopardy”?
If so, you have lots of company. My young friend Josh Woo was a contestant on that program when he was maybe 12. Anyway…
What makes the program unique is its format. They give you the answer and you provide the question. For example, if they said “1492,” you would say, “When did Columbus discover America?” If they said, “George Washington,” you would say, “Who was the first president of the U.S.?”
Well. Did you know that much of the New Testament was written in the Jeopardy format?
The epistles, for instance, are letters answering various needs in the early churches. The problem is we are not given the questions they address. So we have to work our way back. We have the answer; what is the question?
From my journal of Wednesday, December 31, 1997.
In my morning radio program “Phone Call from the Pastor” (Lifesongs 89.1 New Orleans), I told this:
This is a message to a young mother of two boys I saw at McDonald’s on Airline Highway yesterday. Your boys are perhaps 2 and 3-1/2. You say they were born 18 months apart. “They’re killing you,” I told you facetiously. “I hope you survive until they’re grown.” But what I thought was, “I hope they survive.”
Their behavior is suicidal. They are well on their way to becoming society’s worst nightmare. They are out of control.
You kept giving orders to the older one–sit down, be quiet, turn around, eat your lunch–and he kept ignoring and defying you. There was fire in the little guy’s eyes. He really did look like a miniature devil.
My heart went out to you. My wife and I raised two little boys who were three years apart. I know they can be very trying, especially on Mom. So, what I’m about to suggest to you comes from some experience with this subject.
(from my 1990 journal)
Before I saw her dead and murdered, I enjoyed her yard and ate her mulberries.
For only the third time in my life, I walked by Miss Boshell’s house and stood in her yard the other day. This time it was Spring. The yard is rich in green and the daffodils are everywhere. Mom says those flowers are from the bulbs Miss Boshell herself planted. Since she’s been dead 39 years, that’s quite a record. Buttercups–aka jonquils–must be more formidable than they appear. The trees have been cut down so what was her house-place looks a lot like an open field.
The first time I came here was in late summer around 1950. I was 10. Mom and several of us stood around in her yard and on the porch visiting. The simple white frame house was shadowed on all sides by large trees. The most interesting to us children was the mulberry tree out close to the road. Its fruit was large and juicy and hung down within reach. Nearby her muscadine vines competed for our attention. It was good to be in Miss Boshell’s yard that day. If the children talked to her at all, I don’t recall. Mom did that. We had other business.
A program on a science channel dealt with “Venus: Earth’s Evil Twin.” The two planets are similar in size, and according to the experts, have the same origin. But Venus is hellish, with acidic atmosphere and temperatures in the monstrous range.
Early in the program, the scientists began telling how Earth’s future is to become as Venus is now. Not next week. But in the distant future.
Now, personally, I have no trouble with anything that occurs on this planet a billion years down the road, which is the time period the experts dealt with. For one thing, I won’t be here, and neither will you. For another, scripture says “the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat” (2 Peter 3:12).
Wonder why they feel the need to say such?
Watch enough such science shows, and you come away feeling that their purpose was to unnerve the viewer, to frighten the audience with the awful fate awaiting the planet and possibly to eradicate any primitive thoughts of a God who could be expected to rescue us from such a future.
I suspect their ploy works. If one watches enough of this stuff, it would.
But there is one thing–one word actually–which keeps people of faith grounded, one word which is our answer to those who would frighten us about the future of this universe.
This is semi-funny. In my retirement ministry–preaching in various churches–I naturally preach the passages that mean a great deal to me. And, since I know them so well, in many cases I quote the verses from memory. Often I don’t even carry a Bible to the pulpit with me. To read, I need cumbersome reading glasses, and if I already know the Scripture, what is the point? Just recite the passage and preach it. If someone asks–as they often do, probably not seriously– whether I have memorized all the Bible (try to imagine that!), I say, “No, I just preach the parts I’ve memorized.” That’s flippant, I suppose, but pretty much how it is.
I do love the Word of God. I love all of it, not just the parts I’ve preached again and again. And I love how those well-known familiar passages keep yielding insights and blessings. Here are a few thoughts on ten passages that I dearly love…
One. Romans 8 is the mother lode of spiritual insight.
In my sermon on prayer last Sunday morning, Romans 8:26 played a huge part. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit Himself intercedes for us…”
We are poor pray-ers. If the Apostle Paul did not know how to pray, it’s a lead-pipe cinch that you and I don’t!
But, we’re not to despair.