Merry and Blessed Christmas 2018!

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From our home to yours, we wish all our family, friends, and readers a merry and blessed Christmas Day 2018! May the peace and joy of our Savior Jesus Christ be yours today and in the New Year.

In late September we were blessed with grandchild number 12 (Gale Owen, on grandma’s lap). And we are expecting number 13 in late January from our son and daughter-in-law in Arizona. We are thankful for the goodness of God’s covenant and for His mercy to us in all our circumstances.

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Have a beautiful and blessed day celebrating and worshiping the Christ born in Bethlehem, now exalted on high in glory, and soon returning in power with final salvation for all His own.

The Christmas gospel from the perspective of Hebrews 2:

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Adoption Isn’t Charity—It’s War – R. Moore

A little while ago while sorting through today’s emails, I learned it is National Adoption Day. It was Crossway publishers who pointed me to that fact, in an email highlighting some new articles published on it’s website.

Perhaps, like me (ordinarily), you might be tempted to pass over a highlighted article on adoption, and just delete the email and move on to the next. But if you have an adopted child in your immediate family (as we do), you stop and pay attention. Because you realize how significant one adoption is. And how special one adopted grandson is.

The same is true if there is an adoption in your broader family (as there is in ours and will be soon again), in your church family (as there is in ours at Faith PRC), and among your friends (as we too have). And when you hear the testimony of an adopted son about his Christian father and the influence he had on this son throughout his life (as we heard from a dear cousin last night at a very special family reunion), then you realize the power and blessedness of earthly adoption by Christian couples and families.

A gift from God our Father to His children. A means of grace. Yes, in the life of one lost soul. Multiplied thousands of times, one soul at a time, from all over the world, including nearby neighborhoods. Taken in by love, surrounded by love, raised in love, and pointed to true love. God’s, in Jesus. So that that adopted child comes to know and embrace and confess that divine love. And rejoices (glories!) in what God has done. For him! For her! And believing parents and siblings cry with joy, and treasure God’s work.

And then you better understand the picture of a higher, greater, deeper reality – what the Sovereign of salvation has done for you (for me!), another lost orphan in this cruel world of sin and darkness. You see, you and I were abandoned by the Prince of this world (a pretentious but pernicious father!) who promised us everything but left us nothing – destitute, deserted – in reality, dead.

But that Father on the heavenly throne looked on you and me with the eyes of love (because His heart was so full of it for you!), took us up His arms and placed us in His only-begotten, beloved Son, through Whom He bought us and took us home (O, what a family He has!). And then He took the Spirit of His Son and sent Him to change us from dead sinners into living children of the Father, from utterly destitute into the richest sons and daughters in the world, and in the world to come.

Deserted no more, we have fellowship with the Father, in the Son, through the Spirit, and belong to the biggest and best family in the world (the church of Jesus Christ)! It is the grandest adoption of all! If you doubt it, read Ephesians 1-3 again. And fall to the ground in praise of that glorious grace.

And then think about what that earthly picture can mean in a Christian family and church family. And ponder its implications for us.

Russell Moore has some things for us to think about in that Crossway article for National Adoption Day. Yes, he may write from a theological perspective different from our Reformed, covenantal perspective. But he writes as a Christian man and as a saved-by-grace sinner who knows what earthly adoption means because of his heavenly one. So, listen and learn from what he says. He don’t have to agree with everything. Just take the heart of it. Because that comes from the heart of our Father above.

Here is part of what Moore writes; find the rest at the link below.

The gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world. As we become more attuned to the gospel, we’ll have more of a burden for orphans. As we become more adoption friendly, we’ll be better able to understand the gospel. We are being called to look forward to an adoptive missional church. I want to call us all to consider how encouraging adoption—whether we adopt or whether we help others adopt—can help us peer into the ancient mystery of our faith in Christ and can help us restore the fracturing unity and the atrophied mission of our congregations.

It is one thing when the culture doesn’t “get” adoption. What else could one expect when all of life is seen as the quest of “selfish genes” for survival? It is one thing when the culture doesn’t “get” adoption and so speaks of buying a cat as “adopting” a pet. But when those who follow Christ think the same way, we betray that we miss something crucial about our own salvation.

Adoption is not just about couples who want children—or who want more children. Adoption is about an entire culture within our churches, a culture that sees adoption as part of our Great Commission mandate and as a sign of the gospel itself.

Source: Adoption Isn’t Charity—It’s War | Crossway Articles

A Tribute to Our Sacrificing Mothers: The Altar of Motherhood – W. Wangerin, Jr.

Ah, Mother, every summer since then I have thought of you and all of your sisters through the ages. I see you, darling, distinctly – as in a vision. I see deep, and I see this: that once there lay in the precinct of many mothers’ souls some precious personal thing. Some talent, some private dream. The characteristic by which they defined their selves and their purpose for being. To write? Maybe. To run a marathon? Or to run a company? Yes. Yes.

But then the baby came home, and then you and others like you made a terrible, terribly lovely choice. You reached into your soul and withdrew that precious thing and lifted it up before your breast and began to walk. Deliberate and utterly beautiful, you strode to the altar of love for this child and placed there the talent, the dream, some core part of your particular self – and in order to mother another, you released it. There came for you a moment of conscious, sacred sacrifice. In that moment the self of yourself became a smoke, and the smoke went up to heaven as a perpetual prayer for the sake of your children.

And when it was voluntary, it was no less than divine. Never, never let anyone force such a gift from any woman! – for then it is not sacrifice at all. It is oppression.

But never, either, dear children, take such an extraordinary love for granted. It is holy. For this, in the face of such women, is the mind of Christ, who emptied himself for us. And then again, for us.

Ah, Mother, I am so slow to know, but now I know – and out of the knowledge wherewith my own children have burdened me I thank you. From an overflowing heart, I thank you, Mother, for your motherhood.

little-lamb-wangerinTaken from chapter 17, “The Altar of Motherhood,” of Walter Wangerin Jr.’s Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? A Book about Children and Parents  (Zondervan, 1993; reprinted in 2004).

This comes at the end of the author’s story of his struggle to care for the household after he and his wife reversed roles for a time (including a summer when he about went crazy!). He had begun his writing career and she returned temporarily to working full time to help support the family. They both found out this could not last, prompting him to praise his own mother and his wife for their sacrificial labor in the home.

Which brings to mind my own dear mother and my own dear wife and the sacrifices they made for me and my siblings and for our children, respectively. From “an overflowing heart” I also thank you, precious mothers for your motherhood.

“They took their Baby B to the steadfast arms of the Father so that whatever happened, the love of God would hold it.” ~ W. Wangerin, Jr.

little-lamb-wangerinI mentioned last week that one of the books I took along on vacation for continued reading was Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? A Book about Children and Parents  by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (Zondervan, 1993; reprinted in 2004). While reading a couple more sections, I came on some great quotes. I shared one last week; tonight I give you another.

This one is from Part II of the book, where the author relates the raising of his own family while serving as a Lutheran pastor. In one of his churches Wangerin served as the godfather of a boy whom he calls “Baby B” (for Brandon – the chapter title is “I Love Thee, Baby B”). The boy became ill and crippled due to a tumor near his thighbone. While the parents and congregation were anxiously waiting for the biopsy and then the surgery, they joined  in prayer together for the child. Especially the parents.

Writes Wangerin:

You have bold parents, B. They are patient and faithful. Their patience may – as with silly physicians and sillier children – come sometimes to an end. But never their faith.

They said to the doctor, ‘Yes, schedule a biopsy. Schedule a biopsy. But we, in the meantime – we will pray for our son.’

We all prayed for you, then, Brandon Michael Piper. You won’t remember. But the aunts and the uncles, your parents and grandparents and godparents and the whole congregation of Grace commended to heaven both your big name and your little leg.

It is at this point that Wangerin has some marvelous thoughts on the nature of prayer for a sick child – thoughts that are applicable to all our trials.

Someone worried about the intensity of your parents’ praying. He said, ‘But what if the boy’s too sick? What if he doesn’t get well? Doesn’t it scare you that you might lose your faith if God doesn’t answer the prayer?’

But your parents said, ‘We will pray for our son.’

You see, Brandon, this was their faith: not that they felt God had to heal you on account of prayer, but rather that they wanted never to stand apart from God, especially not now. Yes, they were scared for you. But they were never, never scared of God, nor ever scared to lose God. They took their Baby B to the steadfast arms of the Father so that whatever happened, the love of God would hold it. Might there be a healing? Then give glory to God. Must there be a worse hurt? Then let the dear Lord strengthen everyone when strength would be most needed.

Their prayer was meant neither as a demand nor as magic, neither an ultimatum nor manipulation of the Deity. It was love. It was their highest expression of faith – not faith in your healing, Brandon (though they yearned that) but faith in God.

Which leads him to conclude with these words:

This is an important distinction which, in the future, you must remember. Your parents’ faith did not depend upon God’s ‘correct’ answer to their prayer. Instead, the reality of their prayer depended upon their faith. With prayer they encircled you as tightly as you do hug my neck on Sunday mornings – and behold: that circle of faith was the arm of the Almighty. [pp.83-84]

“…Struck dumb by the impossible beauty” of God’s grace – W. Wangerin, Jr.

little-lamb-wangerinOne of the books I took along on vacation last week to continue reading was Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? A Book about Children and Parents  by Walter Wangerin, Jr. (Zondervan, 1993; reprinted in 2004. Mine is a first ed., hardcover).

As I have mentioned here before, Wangerin is one of my favorite Christian (Lutheran) authors. He has a way with words – sometimes humorous but always serious – as well as keen insights into the historic Christian faith and life. I came across some gems last week and decided to share a few of them here with you.

The first is taken from a chapter with the title “How Precious Did That Grace Appear,” which you may recognize as taken from the hymn “Amazing Grace.” As Wangerin describes his Lutheran confirmation ceremony (similar to our profession of faith), which involved answering questions about the Christian faith in front of the congregation (based on the Bible and the catechism of Luther), he relates the wonder of the truth of God’s saving grace – a blessed reality he came to experience more fully as he matured.

He tells of how he answered publicly and with conviction the question of his pastor “What is grace?” by quoting Eph. 2:8-9. But then, powerfully, he says this about the nature of the grace he just confessed:

I was a smart kid.

And yet I did not really know what I was talking about. I had just accomplished this most difficult task. I did it. Therefore, although I could speak well and wisely of grace, that was in itself the problem which condemned me: I could speak of grace, even glibly and casually. I was not struck dumb by the impossible beauty of the thing. I was not overwhelmed by the absolute absurdity, the flat illogic, the utter conundrum of this act of God.

Grace should not be.

In fact, by every moral and human right, grace cannot be.

Nevertheless, it is.

And without it, we die.

One ought to lay one’s hand upon one’s mouth in the presence of such a thaumaturge [that’s a great Greek-origin word to look up!] and answer nothing. One ought to confess that he has spoken without knowledge, that he has uttered things too wonderful for him, and so repent in dust and ashes.

But I was self-important in those days. I had not actually experienced love when I knew I didn’t deserve it.

Doctrine may teach us the definitions of our faith’s most fundamental truths; but the truths themselves elude us until we meet them ourselves and experience them: meet them, greet them, and find ourselves to be borne aloft by them. Then we know what hitherto we’d only learned by rote.

Wangerin is a faithful Christian husband and father and I highly recommend this book about his own godly rearing as a child and then his experience as a parent raising his own children. You will laugh and you will cry, but most of all you will grow in the knowledge and experience of that “precious grace” of our perfect Father.

 

I have another gem for you – this time about praying for a sick child. Marvelous!

Reading Aloud to Young Children Has Benefits for Behavior and Attention – The New York Times

The New York Times recently posted this article online and it was picked up by some of the book and reading news sources I receive, which immediately caught my attention. While it is not anything new, it confirms once more what other studies have proved – that reading to children at an early age is a tremendous benefit to their psychological, emotional, and educational development. And we would add, of course, that when God’s Word and other good Christian literature are read to them, their spiritual development is enhanced.

The article begins by pointing to the results of another new study that found the great benefits of reading to very young children:

It’s a truism in child development that the very young learn through relationships and back-and-forth interactions, including the interactions that occur when parents read to their children. A new study provides evidence of just how sustained an impact reading and playing with young children can have, shaping their social and emotional development in ways that go far beyond helping them learn language and early literacy skills. The parent-child-book moment even has the potential to help curb problem behaviors like aggression, hyperactivity and difficulty with attention, a new study has found.

“We think of reading in lots of different ways, but I don’t know that we think of reading this way,” said Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, an associate professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, who is the principal investigator of the study, “Reading Aloud, Play and Social-Emotional Development,” published in the journal Pediatrics.

After covering the special program that teaches parents during pediatric primary care visits how to be involved in their children’s lives through reading and playing, the article concludes with these additional thoughts:

But all parents should appreciate the ways that reading and playing can shape cognitive as well as social and emotional development, and the power of parental attention to help children flourish. Dr. Weisleder said that in reading and playing, children can encounter situations a little more challenging than what they usually come across in everyday life, and adults can help them think about how to manage those situations.

“Maybe engaging in more reading and play both directly reduces kids’ behavior problems because they’re happier and also makes parents enjoy their child more and view that relationship more positively,” she said.

Reading aloud and playing imaginative games may offer special social and emotional opportunities, Dr. Mendelsohn said. “We think when parents read with their children more, when they play with their children more, the children have an opportunity to think about characters, to think about the feelings of those characters,” he said. “They learn to use words to describe feelings that are otherwise difficult and this enables them to better control their behavior when they have challenging feelings like anger or sadness.”

“The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young — we’re talking about birth to 3 year olds — it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior,” Dr. Mendelsohn said. And this is not just about families at risk. “All families need to know when they read, when they play with their children, they’re helping them learn to control their own behavior,” he said, so that they will come to school able to manage the business of paying attention and learning.

This “truism” is worth remembering in our own homes as well. I hope we are exposing our children to good literature at an early age and giving them the thrill of seeing and hearing words and experiences expressed in the world of books. The benefits are well documented.

The BIG List of Books for Family Gift-Giving – Grace & Truth Books

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Last week (December 6) Grace & Truth Books – a good Christian family book webstore came out with a BIG list of books as a guide for family gift-giving during the holiday season. This is how they introduced it:

Gift  Ideas for the Entire Family – The BIG List! 

When it comes to buying a gift for someone you love, a book is a good choice! Sharing a book you love is like sharing a little bit of your heart with someone else. And who doesn’t love help completing their personal library?

With these things in mind, we’ve put together some of our favorite volumes to help you take the guess work out of buying a book as a gift.

I will not produce the whole list here, but I will give you the first part, which is a great list of titles for the whole reading family.

17 Gift Ideas for the Christian Reading Family  

16 Gift Ideas for the Christian Reading Family
The Rhyme and Reason Series – Author Catherine Zoller knows how to reach children with the message of the Bible!  She understands the importance of reading aloud to children and filling their lives with the Word of God. Her Rhyme and Reason series does this very thing with beautiful and entertaining colorful illustrations as she retells the stories of books of the Bible, in rhyme!

The Pilgrim’s Progress– The cloth cover is a beautiful work of art. Inside, the volume contains 171 well-crafted illustrations from an original 1891 edition. Share with your family the greatest allegory of the Christian life ever written.

The Holy War The story: Righteous and honorable King Shaddai and His Son Immanuel are the kind rulers the city of Mansoul, always directing the lives of the city with justice and equity. But the ruler of darkness – Prince Diabolus – has his own plans for the city. With the assistance of his evil captains, he plots the destruction of the once happy town. The first to fall to his deceptions is Captain Resistance, so that Mansoul is now open to Diabolus’ wicked lies about their king. Diabolus knows that he may only possess Mansoul if the people open the gates to him by their own choice; and soon, sadly, through the vantage point of Eargate, the inhabitants believe his lies and the city falls. So begins this story of treachery and deceit, foolishness and pride, but forgiveness and final redemption. The fact is, as Bunyan intended it, this is the story of a sinner saved by the grace of God.

Dangerous Journey– One of our best pictorial “gift” books for children 6 to 12 years of age. Beautifully illustrated with full color, artistic drawings on every page, most of them full page or even double-page spreads! The plot is faithfully preserved but the artwork makes this book a rare and special piece of work in itself, very detailed and full of action. This beautiful volume has long been a favorite, first introductory version of The Pilgrim’s Progress for parents to familiarize their young children with the story.

A Theology of the Family – This book presents a perspective on the family largely forgotten by the modern church. There are 56 authors featured in this volume, among whom are: John Bunyan, Jonathan Edwards, John Gill, William Gouge, Matthew Henry, Martin Luther, A.W. Pink, J. C. Ryle, R. C. Sproul, Charles Spurgeon and Thomas Watson. Each of them give a powerful testimony that the 21st century church needs to be reminded of what she used to believe about family life. These authors bring a measure of the correction and the balm necessary to heal our amnesia and return us to biblical order.

Building on the Rock Series– Full set of all 5 devotional books in the Building on the Rock series. Each contains a true story from history which is used to illustrate truths of Scripture. For children 8-12 to read, and makes great read-alouds for ages 4-7.

The Baker Family Adventures– Meet Mr. and Mrs. Baker and their four children: responsible Phil, sensible Abby, daring Andy, and inquisitive Tom. The Bakers are a Christian homeschooling family who love helping others, and they seem to have a knack for finding people who need help. In the seven (7) volumes of the Baker Family Adventures Series by C. R. Hedgcock.

Reformation ABCs – This informative book by historian Stephen J. Nichols offers kids of ages three to six an engaging way to learn about that pivotal era in church history – while they learn their ABCs! Featuring charming illustrations by Ned Bustard, this book introduces families to a host of important figures, locations, concepts, and events, including John Calvin, justification by faith alone, Heidelberg, Westminster, and more. Families will be able to see God’s hand in the Reformation and how he used it to shape his people’s understanding of his Word.

Barn Chronicles Series – Winner of the 2013 Christian Small Publisher’s International Book of the Year Award (Children’s Category, 8-12 years) | “The Barn Chronicles are the best books I have ever read! They are full of fun, adventures, celebrations, broken legs, and heaps more! I would love to live in a barn like that and live on that property with a river, animals, swings, eels and everything else!” — Maria (10)

Jack and Jenny Series – Full of adventure, suspense, and all while learning Biblical truth and applying the Word of God to daily life, the Jack and Jenny Mysteries are a new and exciting set of six (6) volumes for readers 8-12 years of age. Greatly reduced to a bargain price when bought as a set!

The Knight’s Map– In this allegorical tale, theologian, pastor, and author Dr. R.C. Sproul continues his life’s work of making deep biblical truths clear and understandable to children of all ages. The Knight’s Map is the story of a knight who undertakes a perilous journey, but his course is full of people who give him bad advice and send him on wrong turns. In the end, he must decide whether or not he will trust the map provided by the King. Beautiful, full color illustrations by Richard Lawnes reveal this rich, textured world and discussion questions with Scripture references help parents guide their children into the deeper meaning of the story.

The Priest With Dirty Clothes – In this new edition of his classic story, The Priest with Dirty Clothes, Dr. R.C. Sproul continues his project of illustrating theological concepts for children. In this book, he teaches the concept of imputation, which lies at the heart of the important biblical doctrine of justification.Using the story of Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1–5) as his jumping-off point, Dr. Sproul weaves a classic tale about a young priest who is invited to preach his first sermon before the king and his court. But on his way to the palace, he falls from his horse, getting his clothes hopelessly muddy. Jonathan finds that he needs powerful help if he is to stand before the king. This edition of The Priest with Dirty Clothes includes all-new illustrations by Justin Gerard.  Also includes a new “For the Parents” section to help them bring out the truths of the book for their children.

The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New – A Page-Turning Storybook of Theology for Kids In the cellar of the old stone cathedral, Carla and Timothy uncover a life-changing treasure, a carefully wrapped ancient book known as The Ology. What adults might describe as a beautifully illustrated storybook of systematic theology, the kids discover to be a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them. Truth is for kids, not just for adults! So The Ology gives kids of all ages a beginner’s theology book to help them understand who God is and how we, as his children, relate to him. Arranged within a traditional systematic theological framework, each truth in The Ology is also connected to the larger redemptive story of Scripture. The doctrine of God, for example, is presented in the larger framework of creation, where the attributes of God are on display and easier to understand. Designed for six-year-olds through preteens, this flexible resource includes built-in adaptations for use with younger or older children, so that entire families can enjoy it together.

Christian Biographies for Young Readers (Simonetta Carr) – The Christian Biographies for Young Readers introduces children to important people in the Christian tradition. Parents and school teachers alike will welcome the excellent educational value it provides for students, while the quality of the publication and the artwork make each volume a keepsake for generations to come. Furthermore, the books in the series go beyond the simple story of someone’s life by teaching young readers the historical and theological relevance of each character.

Kingdom Tales (David & Karen Mains)Like the Terrestria Chronicles, each Kingdom Tales from Terrestria book was written to honor and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ as King and challenge the reader to love and serve Him. The stories are fast-paced and captivating, but each was written to deliver a powerful message and draw your heart to the King. Unlike the Chronicles, which are sequential and should be read chronologically, the Tales are stand-alone books and can be read in almost any order. Books 2 and 3 belong together, and Books 4 and 5 should be read together. It is our prayer that the Kingdom Tales from Terrestria will challenge your entire family to serve the King of kings.

The Jungle Doctor Series-Paul White was an Australian missionary doctor in Africa early in the 20th century, who gained great skill at teaching the Bible through creative stories based on his missions work. These tales have a timeless quality which has captivated readers for three generations now.  When Dr. White returned home to Australia, his stories were discovered and published with an enthusiastic, world-wide reception.  Children of all ages delight in the Jungle Doctor series, which are written for readers about ages 9-13, but adults love their creative stories, and they make superb read-aloud stories to children from 5-8, who will have no difficulty understanding them!  The full collection is 19 volumes and we have compiled them into three collections for easy purchase: Volumes 1-6 as an introductory set. Volumes 7-12 for more. And Volumes 13-19 to complete your entire collection!  The Jungle Doctor series are exceptional for family reading.

Great Composers Series: Complete set of 16 books! (Opal Wheeler)- For the first time in decades, a treasure is back in print: the complete set of all 16 Opal Wheeler volumes on The Great Composers — and now offered as a set for a terrific sale price! Each volume is an enlarged, lay-open, beautifully illustrated paperback. Each book also contains a skillful biography of the composer, which young people from 4-15 will enjoy. Illustrations are found on almost every page, and many of the compositions of the composer.

The list includes sections for your pastor, your boys, your girls, your wife, and your husband. I did not find the list on their website, but if you sign up for their newsletter, I am sure you can request this email newsletter. In any case, it will be for your profit to be on their email list.

Comfort in Life and Death

As you have noticed, I have been absent from these “pages” for a week. That was due to circumstances surrounding care for our ailing mother, whom God delivered out of this vale of tears and shadow of death and ushered into everlasting glory this past Monday morning.

A private family funeral and committal service was held yesterday morning and a public memorial service last evening, both in dad and mom’s home church, Hope PRC in Grand Rapids, MI.

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Watching one’s mother die is one of the hardest experiences in life but, when she is in the Lord and has the hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ in her heart, it is one of the most precious experiences in life. We praise God for His mercy to our dear mother, and for His sustaining, comforting grace to us as a family.

Today’s “Grace Gems” devotional was timely and comforting, as this is the way mom always taught us to live – one day at a time, without fear or worry for the next. I pray it comforts your heart as it did mine, whatever your circumstance may be today.

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life!

(J.R. Miller)

“As your days–so shall your strength be!” Deuteronomy 33:25

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life
, is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day–but the bit of God’s will for that day. If we do that well–we have absolutely nothing else to do.

Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day–had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty–for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be–if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering–if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.

We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are–life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down–we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat–if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.

We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can easily get through with–and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time–more than we can do between the morning and the evening.

If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste; it will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

A Godly Mother

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A Godly Mother

A special gift that God prepared for me –
‘Twas given me ere I saw the light of day;
This gift was someone specially prepared
To guide my footsteps in His holy way.

Day after day she cared for me and taught
Not just the skills I’d need for daily living;
She taught me first of all to seek His face
In joy and sorrow, working, playing, giving.

She held before me God’s own word, that it
Could be a light upon my pathway ever.
She helped me learn to sing Jehovah’s praise,
And told me of the love that naught can sever.

She taught me to confess my sins, and seek
to flee from evil thoughts and words and deeds,
To follow righteousness; stand firmly in the faith;
Turn from the wrong and follow where He leads.

So through the years, her godly walk has been
A source of strength – a life to emulate.
I thank the Lord for His gift of a mother
Who taught me reverence for His name so great.

A Mother’s Day poem written by Mrs. Thelma Westra, a fellow church member at Faith PRC. They may be found in her  collection of Christian poetry titled Poems of Praise (self-published), p.44.

Today may we rise up and call our godly mothers blessed, even as we bless the God who gave them to us (Prov.31:28). I am thankful for my own godly mother, for the godly mother of our children (my wife), and for her godly mother. You are truly beautiful women and your price is “far above rubies” (v.10). May you hear God’s honor and praise through us and your children today.

For another encouraging word to godly mothers and women in Israel, read Rev. Josh Engelsma’s post on the RFPA blog yesterday. Here’s the first part of it; find the rest at the link above.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. The stores are stocked with “World’s #1 Mom” cards. The greenhouses are filled with husbands and children picking out hanging baskets and flower pots. Mothers and grandmothers everywhere are receiving hugs and text messages of thanks.

They are not likely to be forgotten.

And this is perfectly appropriate. For many of us we have had faithful, loving mothers. We are appreciative of their devotion, hard work, and self-sacrifice, and we want them to know it.

But there are some for whom this day is not one of rejoicing. Rather it’s a day of sadness. It’s a day in which they hold their pain close and pretend like everything is alright. It’s a day they wish would be over again for another year.

Sadly, these women are likely to be forgotten.

They might be forgotten because we don’t know about their struggle. It’s too private, too personal, and they aren’t ready to share it. They also might be forgotten simply because, well, we forgot. We didn’t stop to think about what they’re going through.

But they’re there. They’re present among us, shouldering silently a heavy burden.

Reading With Delight – Two Examples: Dekker and Wangerin

Yesterday I posted a quote from Leland Ryken’s book (A Christian Guide to the Classics) concerning the importance of reading with purpose, the two most significant purposes being for edification (instruction) and for delight – that latter being the first focus.

Today I follow up that post with two concrete examples from my recent reading of books that gave me (and are giving me) great delight, hoping to inspire you to read for delight too.

Chosen-TDekker-2007The first is from the pen of Ted Dekker (author of Black, Red, White, Saint, Sinner, A.D. 30, etc.), a great story-teller whose writing I have come to enjoy simply for the great read (but they are also edifying!). The book of his I just finished is Chosen (“Lost Books”, #1), which is actually in the juvenile fiction category (fantasy and speculative), the main characters being teenagers.

I read this title to see if it was good material for my older grandchildren, and I can assure you it is. And for adults. I thoroughly enjoyed this classic “good versus evil” story. In fact, I would classify it as an extended biblical allegory.  I also have the second book in this series (Infidel) and plan to start it soon. Highly recommended!

Without giving away the story, I quote from the publisher’s description:

think with your heart and prepare to die . . .  for you have been Chosen.

Thomas Hunter, supreme commander of the Forest Guard, has seen a great evil decimate much of his beautiful world. With a dwindling army and an epic threat, Thomas is forced to supplement his fighters with new recruits ages 16 and 17. From thousands, four will be chosen to lead a special mission.

Unknown to Thomas, the chosen four are redirected to a different endgame. They must find the seven lost Books of History before the Dark One. For these seven books have immense power over the past, present, and future, controlling not only the destiny of their world . . . but that of ours as well.

The second example is from one I have referenced before – Walter Wangerin’s Little Lamb, Who Made Thee? A Book about Children and Parents (Zondervan, 1993; reprinted in 2004). The first chapter is a writing gem, the reading of which is sure to conjure up memories of your own mother’s Spring cleaning ritual. I have read “Spring cleaning” three times already, each time with a deep smile on my face and joy in my soul.

Here’s a glimpse of why (And here, too, the spiritual imagery is intentional on the part of this Christian author):

One particular gift of hers [his mother] to us was cleanliness. The experience of cleanliness, of becoming clean. We took it for granted; but it was a way of life, maternal virtue and holy consolation.

My mother kept cleaning, kept reclaiming territory by the act of cleaning it, kept redeeming her children therein.

And spring was always that fresh start of faith and the hope in cleanliness, of the forgiveness of cleanliness, actually, since everything old and fusty could be eliminated, allowing the new to take its place – or better yet, the old itself could be the new again.

…How dearly I loved spring cleaning.

Mom was happy, cleaning. She sang the winter away. She cracked old closures. Everything grievous and wrong and knotty and gritty and guilty was gone. Life returned, and sunlight and laughter and air [p.28].

Need more? There are so many jewels here:

In buckets Mom made elixirs of Spic and Span. She shook Old Dutch Cleanser on sinks as if it were a stick to scold. Throughout the house went ammonia smells, pine smells, soap smells, sudsy smells that cancelled sweats and miasmas.

…By evening we ourselves were bathed, the dust of the day removed, leaving a creamy me.

And this, finally, was the finest comfort of the sacred day: that when I went to bed that night, I slipped my silver self between clean sheets. Sheets sun-dried and wind-softened and smoother to my tender flesh than four white petals of the dogwood tree. Delicious above me and below, blessing me and holding me at once: my mother’s cleanliness. Such a sweet fastness of sheets declared the boy between them to be royalty for sure, chosen, holy, and beloved – the son of a wonderful queen [p.29].

Is this not why we read? What a delight to the soul! What are you reading for pleasure, as well as for instruction?

Published in: on March 29, 2017 at 11:30 AM  Leave a Comment