Love Song

We were treated to a spontaneous mini-concert by our two-year-old grandson, whose full repertoire consisted of “Jesus Loves Me.” He belted out the chorus with vigor and quality. If one of us attempted to sing along, he abruptly fell silent until we ceased. He indicated in non-verbal terms that he intended to perform solo.Then he resumed the lyrics, never missing a word.

The words of the song are simple, yet profound; personal, yet universal; gentle, yet powerful. Little did our grandson appreciate the joy and heart-warming belief he conveyed in his memorized lyrics, booming out the Good News of the Gospel. Jesus heard the succinct but sincere words of “Jesus Loves Me” and acknowledged the love the words generated in our grandson’s heart. If there is no doubt in a toddler’s mind regarding the unconditional love of God, why would any of us harbor skepticism?

Throughout God’s Word we are presented with substantial evidence of God’s love: “Love comes from God” (1 John 4:7), explains the source of love. “God is love” (1 John 4:8), condenses one of the most powerful messages in the Bible.

“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” (John 3:16), states the purpose of God’s love. His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 118:1b, NLT), describes the eternal nature of our Lord’s love.

“One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him. When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, ‘Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them!’ Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them” (Mark 10:13-14; 16, NLT).

If Jesus had appeared, our grandson would have eagerly run into His open arms. Children of all ages readily believe God. They do not require long explanations; just a statement of the love of God from trustworthy adults is convincing enough for them. Children love Jesus because Jesus first loved them. God simplifies, removing cobwebs and confusion. Young children readily understand simple, direct explanations and commands, for their faith has not yet been sullied by deceptions of the world. God instructs us to mirror the faith of children who possess uncomplicated, unpretentious faith.

There was another young boy who expressed his love in a tangible manner. One day when Jesus withdrew by boat to a solitary place to pray, multitudes of people who anticipated his next stop walked ahead of Him on land, “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matthew 14:14). All through the day, Jesus ministered to the people, offering healing to body and soul. As evening approached, the disciples suggested their Master send the crowds away. Instead, Jesus commanded His disciples to feed the multitudes in the remote countryside. When Jesus’ disciples returned to Him after checking the crowd for any remnants of food, they had found only five barley loaves of bread and two fish, donated by a boy in the listening throng.

We have no knowledge of the boy whose lunch was used in Jesus’ miracle to feed thousands of hungry, attentive followers. Had he been sent from his home that morning to accomplish an errand, but intrigued by the crowds, he fell into the rank and file of those pursuing Jesus? When the disciples circulated among the people asking for any available food, the boy offered his own lunch. In a time when many people went hungry, the gift of food for Jesus’ use displayed phenomenal generosity.

The little boy who contributed his lunch of bread and fish, gave it up willingly. The loaves were small, like individual dinner rolls. The fish were also diminutive, perhaps a smoked or a pickled variety, like herring, a delicacy for lunch.

God had already planned to use the boy’s meal to feed the entire multitude of five thousand men plus women and children, who would minimally total about 15,000 people. Jesus’ disciple, Andrew, took the boy’s small lunch to Jesus. “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, ‘gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted’. So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten” (John 6:10-13).

If we allow God to use our availability and material possessions, as the little boy demonstrated, we may also be used as catalysts for a miracle. Imagine the thrill and amazement on the face of that boy who watched as Jesus multiplied his meager lunch to feed the masses. Fascinated by Jesus’ miracle, he then participated in the picnic created from his personal lunch donation. What a story he would tell his family when he finally arrived home later that day!

Jesus loves and respects boys and girls, and they know it. “‘I tell you the truth: anyone who will not receive the Kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it’” (Luke 18:17); a severe warning, encouraging us to simplify our faith enough for a child to understand. Though Jesus’ disciples initially displayed doubt, they learned a new level of uncomplicated faith displayed by a child. Jesus commands all of us to emulate the frank openness of a child’s faith.

The miracles Jesus accomplished aroused anger and hatred among the Jewish rulers and teachers of the law. When they “saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant” (Matthew 21:15). When those same rulers asked Jesus if he could hear what the children were saying about him, Jesus replied, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’” (Matthew 21:16). Jesus acknowledged praise from children. They were His ardent supporters; they knew they were loved, professing their faith as they enthusiastically sang about their Savior in the temple courts.

Envision the children clasping hands, dancing around the courtyard in a circle, singing exuberant worship songs to Jesus. If you listen intently, there will arise above the crowd an angelic voice singing, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. We are weak, but He is strong.” Suddenly Jesus’ attention will be focused compassionately on our grandson, the little boy with unsurpassed love for Christ, the one who treasures his adoration and praise.

Mud, Fun, and Worship

Mud, Fun, and Worship

By Patricia Knight

One drenching rainy day in the summertime our toddler son teased to play outside. Finally I relented and dressed him in his long rubber-coated pants, his rain jacket, hood, and boots, wondering if he could possibly move in such restrictive clothing.

Never underestimate the will of a toddler! Our son possessed the tenacious energy of most children his age. He grabbed his bicycle and rode it the length of our driveway, braking abruptly before reaching his boundary. In the narrow strip of land dividing adjoining house lots, a large, shallow mud puddle had formed. It was at that spot where he parked his bicycle with the training wheels straddling the murky circle.

He hopped onto the bicycle seat, then leaned his body forward into a horse jockey’s riding position, and peddled with all the muscle power his little legs could amass. His frantic peddling produced a cascading arc of thick mud, slathering slime all over his body like a spouting geyser. My little boy had been transformed into a chocolate Easter bunny replica, with only his white teeth exposed through a wide, satisfied grin. He was immersed in childhood ecstasy, and enjoyed sitting at the center of a mud blizzard, loving every minute of the onslaught.  

It is no surprise that Jesus instructed us to maintain child-like faith in Him. When His disciples assumed that little children encircling Jesus were usurping their Master’s limited time, He reminded them of the value of all children: “‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’” (Matthew 21:16). Children naturally know how to laugh and play with unprecedented joy as they explore the wonders of their surroundings. Verbal squealing reveals their delirious delight, as they express bubbly glee with each new discovery. Almighty God, whose glory and authority remains on display throughout heaven and earth, gladly accepts the exalted praise of playful children.

Centuries ago, when a remnant of God’s people returned from a seventy-year exile in Babylon, their long separation from everything familiar left them with spiritual apathy reflected in disobedience, doubt, and disdain for the worship of their Lord. God assigned His prophet, Malachi, the task of confronting the Israelites with their sins and guiding them into a renewed enthusiastic, committed relationship with their heavenly Father.

And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:2). Utilizing a vivid mental picture of frisky, frolicking animals released from the confinement of an enclosed pen, Malachi attempted to instill renewed passion, eagerness, and exhilaration into his countrymen’s lifestyle and worship.

2 Samuel 6:1-22 provides a graphic description of King David vivaciously dancing in the street. It was no ordinary occasion. Years earlier, the ark of God, the physical representation of God’s presence in Israelite worship, had been confiscated by their enemies, the Philistines. When King David located the ark, he immediately arranged for it to be reclaimed and transported to the temple. As the ark was ceremoniously carried through the streets of Jerusalem, David could no longer contain his excitement.  With grateful animation, “he danced before the Lord with all of his might while he and the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets” (2 Samuel  6:14-15).

King David jubilantly offered a spontaneous gesture of praise to his gracious Lord when he performed his solo dance. Because God knows the intent of our hearts, it is apparent He approved of the King’s unapologetic zeal in celebrating the return of the ark of the covenant, a constant reminder that God resided in their midst, encouraging a zealous expression of worship. David’s impetuous dance must have resembled the unpenned calves’ leap of joy in Malachi 4:2.

David’s wife, Michal, criticized what she considered an immoral act, calling her husband vulgar. David responded, “‘In God’s presence I’ll dance all I want! I’ll dance to God’s glory more recklessly even than this. And as far as I’m concerned, I’ll gladly look the fool…I’ll be honored to the end’” (2 Samuel 6:20-22, The Msg.) Michal was a sourpuss, and like her father, King Saul, a victim of jealousy and bitterness. She represented the opposite attitude of her husband, King David, who defended his courageous dance of ecstasy to honor the return of the ark of God.

Contrary to the world’s view of Christianity as a negative religion consisting primarily of “thou shalt not” regulations, there exists undeniable freedom in following Jesus. Christ himself said, “‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10, KJV). It is God’s plan that His children live an unsurpassed, fullness of life secured by Jesus at Calvary.

“Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad, let the sea abound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing with joy” (Psalm 96:11-12). Is there any reason we should not join all of creation in praise to our Creator?

Perhaps a playful mud bath, kicking up your heels, or dancing in a street parade offend your worship preferences. If so, contemplate approaches to glorify Jesus with heartfelt jubilation. Or follow the example of my friend who surprised me by answering my recent phone call not with a typical “hello” greeting, but by belting out the Hallelujah chorus, an unequivocal reminder for both of us to praise God for an extravagant, abundant life.

May we join the Psalmist expressing exultation for God’s rich blessings!

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart.
I’m writing the book on your wonders.
I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy;
I’m singing your song, High God”
(Psalm 9:1-2,The Msg.).

Thankful for My Children

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Can I just say that I have the greatest children? Kathy and Alan—as well as my daughter-in-love, Denise—are such big blessings in my life and I truly do thank God for them every single day.

Last year I shared a bit about each of my children and how special they are to me, which you can read here. I am thankful that they are all walking with the Lord and seeking to follow His will in their lives.

Here I am with them at Alan and Denise’s wedding in 2010:

MyChildren

Left to Right: Kathy, Denise, Alan, me

Kathy, Alan and Denise, if you’re reading this, I love you all so much!

For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.

 —Ephesians 1:15-17

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AnnaSmile…..

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Words from a Father who lost his daughter in COLUMBINE 12 YEARS AGO!!

Ever since last week’s Newtown tragedy, I’ve been praying for the families of those killed. I’ve wanted to express how this whole thing makes me feel but could not come up with the right words because I thought there were no words for such a horror. A few minutes ago I read this and knew I had to share it with you.

This post is from http://ronbigblackgarrett.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/words-from-a-father-who-lost-his-daughter-in-columbine-12-years-ago/. Please take the time to read this and then share it!

Words from a Father who lost his daughter in COLUMBINE

12 YEARS AGO!!

Posted: December 17, 2012 in Articles, Constitution, Founding Fathers, Freedom, government, Liberty, Politics, Religion
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Guess our national leaders didn’t expect this. On Thursday, Darrell Scott, the father of…

Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colorado, was invited to address the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee. What he said to our national leaders during this special session of Congress was painfully truthful.They were not prepared for what he was to say, nor was it received well. It needs to be heard by every parent, every teacher, every politician, every sociologist, every psychologist, and every so-called expert! These courageous words spoken by Darrell Scott are powerful, penetrating, and deeply personal. There is no doubt that God sent this man as a voice crying in the wilderness.. The following is a portion of the transcript:“Since the dawn of creation there has been both good & evil in the hearts of men and women. We all contain the seeds of kindness or the seeds of violence. The death of my wonderful daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, and the deaths of that heroic teacher, and the other eleven children who died must not be in vain. Their blood cries out for answers.”

“The first recorded act of violence was when Cain slew his brother Abel out in the field. The villain was not the club he used.. Neither was it the NCA, the National Club Association. The true killer was Cain, and the reason for the murder could only be found in Cain’s heart.”

“In the days that followed the Columbine tragedy, I was amazed at how quickly fingers began to be pointed at groups such as the NRA. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not a hunter. I do not even own a gun. I am not here to represent or defend the NRA – because I don’t believe that they are responsible for my daughter’s death. Therefore I do not believe that they need to be defended. If I believed they had anything to do with Rachel’s murder I would be their strongest opponent.”

“I am here today to declare that Columbine was not just a tragedy, it was a spiritual event that should be forcing us to look at where the real blame lies! Much of the blame lies here in this room. Much of the blame lies behind the pointing fingers of the accusers themselves. I wrote a poem just four nights ago that expresses my feelings best.”

Your laws ignore our deepest needs,
Your words are empty air.
You’ve stripped away our heritage,
You’ve outlawed simple prayer.
Now gunshots fill our classrooms,
And precious children die.
You seek for answers everywhere,
And ask the question “Why?”
You regulate restrictive laws,
Through legislative creed.
And yet you fail to understand,
That God is what we need!

“Men and women are three-part beings. We all consist of body, mind, and spirit. When we refuse to acknowledge a third part of our make-up, we create a void that allows evil, prejudice, and hatred to rush in and wreak havoc. Spiritual presences were present within our educational systems for most of our nation’s history. Many of our major colleges began as theological seminaries. This is a historical fact. What has happened to us as a nation? We have refused to honor God, and in so doing, we open the doors to hatred and violence. And when something as terrible as Columbine’s tragedy occurs — politicians immediately look for a scapegoat such as the NRA. They immediately seek to pass more restrictive laws that contribute to erode away our personal and private liberties. We do not need more restrictive laws. Eric and Dylan would not have been stopped by metal detectors. No amount of gun laws can stop someone who spends months planning this type of massacre. The real villain lies within our own hearts.”

“As my son Craig lay under that table in the school library and saw his two friends murdered before his very eyes, he did not hesitate to pray in school. I defy any law or politician to deny him that right! I challenge every young person in America , and around the world, to realize that on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School prayer was brought back to our schools. Do not let the many prayers offered by those students be in vain. Dare to move into the new millennium with a sacred disregard for legislation that violates your God-given right to communicate with Him. To those of you who would point your finger at the NRA — I give to you a sincere challenge.. Dare to examine your own heart before casting the first stone! My daughter’s death will not be in vain! The young people of this country will not allow that to happen!”

– Darrell Scott

Do what the media did not – – let the nation hear this man’s speech. Please send this out to everyone you can!!!

My Treasures, Part 4

On May 8th I posted about the treasures in my life and decided to expand on each of those treasures for the next few Treasure Tuesdays. This week I want to share the third of the treasures on my list:

My precious children: Kathy, Alan and Denise (my daughter-in-love)

I don’t normally write very much about my children so as to respect their privacy but I’m making an exception today because each of them is a true treasure to me.

Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me. –Mark 9:37

A daughter is a miracle that never ceases to be miraculous…full of beauty and forever beautiful…loving and caring and truly amazing. Deanna Beisser

Kathy is my first-born and what a treasure she is in my life! I became aware of her existence while I was still engaged to be married to my first husband (Rick is my second husband). Like many women who find out they’re pregnant before marriage, my first thought was to have an abortion. Yes, as difficult as it is for me to share this with you, I gave very serious consideration to having an abortion. I even made the appointment but God had other ideas. After making the actual appointment, which was a couple of weeks away, I became so despondent that I slept almost every minute I was not working, and boy, did I have nightmares about babies dying!

Since I’ve shared a tiny bit about Kathy here before, obviously I did not go through with the abortion. And the blessings I have received since deciding against the abortion have been HUGE! Kathy is precious to me in ways I can’t even express. I am so thankful and blessed that she is not “only” my daughter but one of my closest friends. In fact, she knows me better than anyone else, even my Rick. After all, she and I grew up together and we’re both pink girls!

So, my Kathy, I know I’ve told you before how much you mean to me, and how thankful I am that you came into my life, but I don’t think I tell you often enough how precious our relationship is to me. Because, as you well know, my eyes would leak too much … as they are right now! Thank you for being such a wonderful and caring daughter to me. I am so proud of the woman you have grown to be, one who loves the Lord and seeks to always do His will. I you soooooooo much!

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. –Proverbs 22:6

It is truly a gift to have a son like you who grows more precious with the years! Author Unknown

Another treasure is Alan, my second-born. As I’ve shared before, I am one of 5 daughters (no sons), and Alan was the first boy born into our family in over 20 years. To say I was a bit unprepared to raise a boy is a huge understatement. Oh, in my babysitting years I had of course watched boys as well as girls. But raising up a boy of my own?

As a child, Alan loved anything to do with trucks and construction equipment. He went through a phase when he was around 3 years old when he wanted to be a fireman. He had a child-size fire helmet (red) and a plastic riding fire truck and loved both of them. Fast forward to about 15 years ago [please forgive me, Alan, if my math is slightly off] when he became a true firefighter. And these days, as a captain, he’s wearing a red fire helmet again!

Alan’s faith walk is a story that bears sharing because it shows how God honors the prayers of a faithful heart.

Alan asked Jesus into his heart as a youngster, but as a teen and some years beyond, he became very disillusioned with organized religion and did not want to hear or talk about spiritual matters. That terribly hurt this mother’s heart but didn’t stop me from praying constantly for him to come back to the Lord. For many years I prayed for the Lord to bring a godly friend into his life, and not only that, but for a godly wife for him too. How was I to know that the Lord would honor each of my prayers by bringing Alan both things in one person?

When Alan told me he was going to propose to Denise, he said, “She’s the one God used to bring me back to the light.” Oh, how happy and thankful I was to hear that!

But wait… there’s more.

Alan thought he knew the Lord intimately then (that was about 3 years ago), but last year while he and his crew were helping to fight one of Arizona’s inevitable summer wild fires, God showed Himself to Alan in such an incredibly personal way that Alan was immeasurably changed. He not only became baptized—and I got to witness that special event!—but he is now involved with a mission team that serves in Albania to teach medical and life-saving procedures and protocol to medical personnel there. In fact, he has been on two missions so far and will be leaving on another one this September.

Can you say gratified … joyful … thankful … and a bunch of other praise adjectives I can’t even think of right now?

Alan, I always have and always will appreciate your love for me and  how much you care for and want to protect me. I am so proud of the man you have grown into, and will never cease to thank God for you in my life. And I’m guessing He still has some mighty big plans for you, Son! I love you more than you can imagine!

An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. –Proverbs 31:10-12

Daughters are angels sent from above to fill our heart with unending love. J. Lee

Denise is my next treasure. I know it’s a cliche, but I call Denise my daughter-in-love because she is! And besides, daughter-in-law sounds so technical… and legal [which it is, but that’s not the point here].

Denise was first Alan’s friend and that friendship blossomed into something more. I have often said that a solid marriage needs to have the base of friendship and Denise and Alan’s marriage has that.

To say that Denise is a gift from God to Alan is to state the obvious. That she is a gift to our family is undeniable. She and Alan complement each other very well, and support each other spiritually and personally.

When Rick and I were doing our premarital counseling, the example of an orange was used as a way to describe marriage. If you tear (not cut) an orange into two halves, each half has ragged edges and you can only fit the orange back together in one way. In the same manner, husbands and wives have strengths and weaknesses that complement one another so that they “fit well” together. Where one may be lacking something, the other can fill in.

This is how I see Alan and Denise’s marriage. Denise just completes Alan and vice versa.

I love Denise immensely because of who she is, because of her strong faith, because God chose her to bring Alan back to Him, because Alan loves her so. And last but not least: because she loves Alan—my son—so much.

So it’s no wonder I consider Denise as one of my children even though I did not give birth to her. She is the daughter of my heart if not my body. Denise, I thank God for you every day and love you so much!

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. –3 John 1:4

So there you have it: the treasure of my children. They are truly astounding and precious gifts from God to me!