Saturday, January 13, 2018

Yum!!



 
Thank you, O Lord, for taste buds and for creating yummy food! 

God could just as easily have created us without the ability to taste.  We could have been constructed in such a way that we consumed food at set times each day merely for nourishment and energy. Flavor would have been a foreign concept to a people with no taste buds.  Ah....think of all the wonderful, delicious things we would have missed!

This stack of fluffy, golden pancakes with sweet maple syrup drizzling down the sides - does that make your mouth water?  Such a response to food is one of the blessings of a sense of taste.  Anticipation of that first tasty bite is part of the pleasure of a good dish of food.

Here are a few interesting verses in the bible about food:

"Men ate the bread of angels; He sent them all the food they could eat" Psalm 78:25.  This verse refers to God sending manna from heaven for the Israelites to eat in the wilderness.  God called the manna "bread of angels."  Doesn't that have a lovely ring to it?

"He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat; and with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you" Psalm 81:16.  Again, the verse refers to the Israelites, this time it speaks of the sad loss that resulted from their disobedience to God.

We'll end these food-related verses with a happy one - "Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him" Psalm 34:8.  This Psalm of David opens a wondrous door to the men and women who trust in the Lord.  Through our faith, we are enabled to see how good God is and to actually taste His magnificence in our lives.  Yum, pass me another, please.

Thank you, O Lord, for your goodness and mercy and grace -- and for all the wonderful foods you've provided for us to enjoy!

Note:  Larry created that lovely stack of pancakes one morning last week (:


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Sola Gratia

 
Sola Gratia - "by Grace alone"
 

    I was recently introduced to the Latin phrase - "Sola Gratia" - which means "by Grace alone."  Not only does the sound of the Latin phrase have a lovely ring to it, the meaning is precious and powerful.  I chose this photo I took of a spiral staircase in the Benedictine Monastery in Melk, Austria, because I felt it could signify our upward journey toward a deepening relationship with Holy God and the continuing grace He offers us each and every day. 
 
    God offers wonderful grace to we His creations.  He offers grace through salvation and daily blessings and the privilege of serving Him and His very Spirit dwelling within us.  It's incredible and exciting to see all the ways He shows His love and grace to we mere mortals.

    One of the best Bible verses to show the true meaning of Sola Gratia is found in Ephesians 2:8-9:  "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

   I'm incredibly thankful that God offers a grace that is greater than ALL our sins.  As the famous song by John Newton so beautifully puts it:  "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see."

   I pray this New Year of 2018 will be a year of grace for each of us.  May we show grace to those around us as God has and still does show grace to us.





Saturday, December 30, 2017

Isn't it a Wonder?

Isn't It A Wonder...
I recently bought a little Golden Book called "Wonders of Nature," written by Jane Werner Watson, with lovely illustrations by talented Eloise Wilkin.  My children grew up loving her sweet illustrations and this book is full of them.  As I read the book, I was struck by the beauty of the message by Watson.  Although it doesn't appear it was meant to have a spiritual message, it most certainly does.  I'm going to share a few of the "wonders" mentioned in the book and include my pictures as illustration before I end with the spiritual truth I think is most beautiful.
 
"Isn't it a wonder that on the dry desert some plants have thick
stems in which they store water....and no leaves at all...and lots
 of prickly spines to keep thirsty animals from eating them up?"


These two photos of cactus and ocotillo in Arizona are perfect examples of the amazing wonder of God's creation in the dry desert.

"Isn't it a wonder that some birds fly thousands of miles
over oceans and land...and return to the same special
spots, to lay their eggs?"

The photo shows a bluebird couple who return to this box year after year to lay eggs and bring their baby birds out into the light of a new day.


"Isn't it a wonder that out in the pond smooth wiggly tadpoles
lose their tails and grow legs, and turn into frogs?"

The photo of a blue poison dart frog at the Science Museum in Durham, NC, is a beautiful example of God's variety and love of color and style.

"And that fuzzy caterpillars weave silken cocoons around
themselves and go to sleep, then wake up as pretty moths
or butterflies?"

Here is an owl butterfly that is so cool with its spots that look like eyes.

Isn't it a wonder that God created such a vast, complex and beautiful world for His children to live in?  And isn't it a wonder that God sent His only begotten Son to this earth to save His children from eternal death and offer them everlasting life in a place even more wonderful and beautiful than this earth?  As the songwriter wrote, "Oh, the wonder of it all, just to think that Jesus loves me!"




Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christ is Born

Christ is Born

What a beautiful and gracious gift God the Father gave to us all on that first Christmas night.  "He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life" John 3:16.

Why on earth would God the Father give such an unspeakably precious gift and why would God the Son agree to such an incredibly hard task?  The answer is found in one word - "Love."  God SO loved the world.  As incomprehensible as that is to our finite minds, it's a fact.  A fact that blesses our lives daily in more ways that we can know.

The stained glass window in Trinity Episcopal Church in Staunton, Virginia, shows shepherds worshipping the newborn King.  As we celebrate the birth of our Savior on Christmas day, let us join with the shepherds, the angels and the wise men - worshipping and adoring this greatest of gifts.

Here is part of the lyrics to an old French carol:  "He is born, the holy Child, play the oboe and bagpipes merrily, He is born, the holy Child, sing we now of the Savior mild.  Jesus, Lord of all the earth, coming as a child among us, Jesus, Lord of all the earth, coming down in lowly birth!"

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  I hope you have a blessed and happy Christmas!


Saturday, December 16, 2017

The Star

The Star

My sweet little granddaughter is entranced by the beauty of a star on the wall at the Children's Museum.  Stars have always been special to people.  Even the word star in Spanish - Estrella - has a lovely sound to it.

It's interesting to think that when God created them on the fourth day of creation, He filled the sky with stars by the very breath of his mouth:  By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” Psalm 33:6.  Furthermore, we’re also told that when the foundation of the earth was laid, those newborn stars “sang together” and at the same moment, all the angels shouted for joy.  That is so cool!  What an amazing sound they must have made!

For the past 2,000 years, one particular Star has been of special interest to Christians.  The Star announcing the birth of the holy Son of God is surely the most famous and beloved of all the stars God created.  It's appearance in the night sky portended the beginning of a new age - the fulfillment of God's promise to Adam and Eve that He would someday send a Savior for all mankind.

 
This picture of another sweet granddaughter shows her gazing at a Thomas Cole painting of that scene in Bethlehem (on display at Chrysler Museum, Norfolk).  That beautiful, bright star is happily shining its light down on the stable where the King of kings has just been born.  Our choir sings a song with these lyrics:
 
   "Tonight in the city of Bethlehem, there's a star that fills the skies; Reflecting the Light of compassion from the manger where it lies.  Angels stand in awe at its splendor, kings and paupers bask in its glow;  Though it is found in a stable, still it shines for the whole world to know.  For the Light of Bethlehem lies in a manger, it's only seen through the eyes of a seeker.  Promise of Heaven, a gift divine, let the Light of Bethlehem shine."
 
 
The beautiful stained glass depicting the wise men following the star reminds me of a popular saying, "Wise Men still Seek Him Today."  May the Light of Bethlehem shine in your life and warm your heart with love and praise to His Holy Name.
 



Friday, December 8, 2017

Surrounded by His Light

Surrounded by His Light
 
"Let My Presence override everything you experience.
 Like a luminous veil of Light, I hover over you and
everything around you"  -from Jesus Calling

I love this picture my daughter took of my youngest precious granddaughter walking down a long pathway surrounded by light.  The gracefully lit trees and smooth sidewalk make for a lovely, easy walk to her destination in the distance.  As a two-year old in a loving, stable family, she is enjoying a smooth path in this young season of her life.  But what of the future?  What lies around the bend as she grows older?

Rather than fear the future and rocky, hilly pathways that inevitably lie ahead, we can rest in the assurance that our heavenly Father knows every root that will trip us up and every stone that will stub our toes - and He's always there to help us over every rough patch.

In Sarah Young's Jesus Calling, as if Jesus is speaking to us, He says, "Stay ever so close to Me, and you will not deviate from the path I have prepared for you." .... "Think of your life as an adventure, with Me as your Guide and Companion. Live in the Now, concentrating on staying in step with Me. When our path leads to a cliff, be willing to climb it with My help. When we come to a resting place, take time to be refreshed in My Presence." ... "Marvel at the wonder of being able to commune with the King of the universe - any time, any place. Never take this amazing privilege for granted!"

While God has not promised a carefree life of smooth paths, He has promised to be with us and help us along the way.  In Psalm 119:105, we are assured, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path," followed by "The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore" in Psalm 121.  Having our paths lit by the Almighty King who is the Light of the world Himself is a blessing that will help us over the rough places, preserve us, and bring us to our journey's end after a life of adventure with our Lord.

I am so thankful that my sweet little granddaughter is surrounded by the Light of God's loving care for her.  From the time she was conceived He has kept her in His care and promised, "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone" Psalm 91:11-12.



Saturday, November 18, 2017

Armor of God

Armor of God

On a recent trip to the Blue Ridge Parkway, we stopped in an old stone church in Lexington, Virginia.  The R.E. Lee Memorial Episcopal Church was begun in 1840.  It's on the edge of the beautiful Washington & Lee campus.  I'm a sucker for stained glass (my husband frequently asks, "And why are you taking another picture of stained glass?"), and this church has some unique windows.  Let me share them with you -

I love the passage in Ephesians 6 about the Armor of God and this stained glass perfectly represents one of the items that is imperative to our desire to "be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might."  I like this stained glass picture of the "helmet of salvation" listed in verse 17.  This helmet has a nice plume of feathers along the top and a bold golden Maltese cross on the front.  Certainly Salvation is the number one piece needed to make us strong in the Lord.

Next, we have the "sword of the Spirit," which is the Word of God, and also listed in verse 17.  The next verse continues the Spirit theme, adding "praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."  And speaking of the Spirit, the glass below is meant to represent that gentle, holy person -

The pure, white dove that settled upon Jesus was our first glimpse of a representation of the Holy Spirit - "And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came
from heaven which said, 'You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased" Luke 3:22.