Chased, I stumbled onto grace.
Cogitation, to my mind, ranks right up there with industry and integrity, for it is a good thing to long consider concepts and notions, to thoroughly examine each one, to hold them to the light, to examine their facets–to scrutinize for flaw and any possible deficiency. I’ve been considering this subject for some time now, but the point at issue is elusive–especially an inoffensive way to state it–and slithers from my hand and head, except that its roots grind steadily in my heart and in my soul.
Think with me about these words of Paul–words with which almost everyone who is a student of the Bible will be familiar. The riveting words are found in the 14th verse of chapter 3 of Philippians.
“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.”
I have outfitted myself in like clothing as the great Apostle; on my feet are running shoes, the wind is in my face, my eyes are fixed on the goal. I, as he, press for the prize. Look now, he names the prize . . . he calls it the high calling. Now we could postulate that Paul is referring to Heaven, and certainly I believe we would be within the mark in so doing, but for today, I’d like to back up and consider that the prize is actually the high calling, for certainly that calling leads us to Heaven.
Not long ago, I heard a minister relate an experience when he and his wife were tourists on Victoria Island in Vancouver and were waiting to be seated for dining at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Those in charge were speaking with the persons ahead of my friends and there was a stall in their being ushered into the dining room, for the gentlemen in the group ahead of my friends were wearing casual clothes–no coats, no ties. They were kindly taken to an anteroom, and shortly the group returned, the men wearing coats and ties.
Now before I proceed, let me acknowledge that I am not a young runner; indeed next Wednesday, the 24th of July, 2013, I will celebrate my 75th birthday. Hear me though: I am blessed with lucidity, a continued interest in the world around me, a concern with the progress of God’s Church, and I’m the possessor of common sense. Because of my common sense and my clear thinking I know my thoughts and conclusions logically may differ radically from those of a much younger age. I give you that. There are, though, principles and established truths that do not change because of the variance of one’s age.
My heart is grieved, and I am soul-sick when I observe Christians who attend God’s house dressed in a casual, off-handed way. I can’t help myself; it troubles me. Oh, I know the arguments: God doesn’t look on the outward appearance, we want to relate, we want people to be comfortable, we don’t want visitors intimidated by suits and ties . . . I’m especially struck with sadness when I observe leaders, platform workers, musicians, and ministers who dress in this way. Does not God’s house deserve as much respect and honor as come from patrons of the Empress hotel dining room, symphony orchestra chambers, and other fine facilities and activities?
Are we not pressing for the mark where is the prize of the high calling? A high calling, a heavenly calling, surely suggests my finest effort, and while I am still called during picnics and as I work about my house, where I definitely will not be wearing dress clothes, when I go into His house, should I not wear my finest? Should I not attend with my keenest of thought? My mind stayed on Him . . . on pleasing Him?
Attorneys attire themselves in suit and tie when they appear in court where their job is to uphold the constitution. I suspect should they attempt to present a case with their feet ensconced in ragged tennis shoes and a tee-shirt covering their chest, it is likely they would be held in contempt. I was appalled when sometime ago I saw images of persons standing in line to visit the White House, dressed slovenly with flipflops on their feet. I submit that America’s deterioration in dress has contributed to, or perhaps is a reflection of the sad crumbling of our society. It has drastically affected our schools and our workplaces.
To have this same downward trend now edge its way into God’s house seems unacceptable to me, for though defending people’s rights and the constitution, and paying respect to our government is crucial, neither of those is on equal footing with that one who is part of the high calling of Jesus Christ.
I have no official office, am no one’s boss, and certainly have no intention of trying to “set straight” the ministry. I’m not here to judge anyone, and I certainly do not wish to be a crotchety old lady who finds fault with everything. My heart dwells not in those places, but deep inside my soul is a spot of grief, and when I see an image of disrespect today or tonight in God’s house, I will again be saddened.
But my high calling will prevail. I will close my eyes, look past those simple things that trouble me, and I will concentrate on Jesus Christ the righteous. I will offer myself to him–my pitiful, wretched self, made holy only by His grace and His mercy.
I definitely want to hear your thoughts about this subject–both pro and con. If you have come over from facebook and want to comment over there, please also comment here…..appreciate it. I’m interested in what you have to say.
“Do I need my library card to pay the fine?” I asked the clerk as I handed in my two overdue books. I didn’t have my card with me and was unsure whether I would need to go to the car for it.
“Uh, I don’t think so.” The charming young girl lifted her eyes from the computer business she was doing with my books and smiled.
Intently, she punched buttons, looked back at my books, then at me and said, “I don’t think you owe a fine.”
“Well, yes, they were due yesterday. I think I do.”
“No. No fine. They were due yesterday, but you have a day’s grace. You’re set.”
“Don’t hear that much, do you?” She was a charming young lady and she flashed again her beautiful smile.
She couldn’t know that, as I stood in the Lake Havasu public library last week, there shot through my being the wonderful thought of God’s mercy. His mercy! God’s mercy extended to my wretched being. God’s mercy that counts me righteous–me, a sinner! God’s mercy that reaches long when I stumble, when I lose my way, when I forget who I am, when my vision becomes blurred and confused by worldly thinking. God’s mercy that saw me before I was ever born, selected me, and called me to be a part of Him and of His work.
How many times have I heard Jerry say across a pulpit: “Grace is the unmerited favor of God.” Unmerited–think about it. Think about grace and mercy that halts the hand of deserved judgment; grace and mercy that releases a river of holy blood to absolutely absolve, annihilate, and destroy my sins, those ugly and despicable transgressions against God’s laws.
One hundred and seventy times is the word grace mentioned in the Bible. Uncountable are the times that, in shame, I have extended a shaky hand and begged again for God’s grace and for His mercy. Never has He ignored me; not once has He refused my plea.
Paul addresses the subject:
“…My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness…” II Corinthians 12:9
My other blog is here.
Romans Chapter 1 verse 31 describes a group of people whom, I believe, inhabit the world today, for they are:
“Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful.”
Surely persons who advocate aborting children fall into this category: no understanding, breaking of bonds and covenants, lacking natural affection, can’t be pleased, and the final–without mercy. Take a look at this baby girl and hear her story.
Little Macie McCartney was welcomed into the world not once — but twice.
Four months into Keri McCartney’s pregnancy, doctors reportedly noticed a tumor growing on the baby’s tailbone.
Doctors discovered that the tumor was stealing blood from the fetus and weakening her heart. So, at 25 weeks, surgeons at Texas Children’s Fetal Center cut into McCartney’s abdomen in an effort to remove the life-threatening mass, according to a CBS News report.
“Prenatal surgery is still done in very few select areas in the United States,” Dr. Manny Alvarez, FOXNews.com’s managing health editor, said Monday. “And there are a limited number of medical conditions where prenatal surgery is indicated and this is one of them.”
At a period of gestation when she could have been legally aborted, caring parents called on doctors to do something for their baby. Wonderful, talented physicians operated on this tiny girl, then tucked her back inside her mommy so that little Macie could get on with her growing.
Abortion is a terrible thing, and flies in the face of the Almighty God who alone creates life. Today I read this report from Planned Parenthood itself:
Why are children aborted? The Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood) states:
1 percent are victims of incest or rape
1 percent had fetal abnormalities
4 percent had a doctor who said their health would worsen if they continued the pregnancy
50 percent said they didn’t want to be a single parent or they had problems in current relationships
66 percent stated they could not afford a child
75 percent said the child would interfere with their lives
But here we have little Macie who four weeks ago was born normal and healthy, due to God’s grace and mercy, loving conscientious parents, and caring, skilled physicians.
More pictures of Macie here.
It’s a time to rejoice.
My other blog is here.
“He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel. The Lord his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them.” Numbers 23:21
Whoa! Say again…no iniquity in Jacob, no perverseness in Israel? Perhaps you jest, God. You surely know how much evil is in Jacob and in Israel…and by extension in me, and in every reader of this column. How can be said then…no iniquity?
I love this subject–that of God’s love, His great mercy and of His abundant grace. Of such is this scripture enveloped, tightly woven and stamped. God’s love. God’s grace. God’s mercy. I’m so chocked with imperfection and sin, there is no way I could ever hope to be saved, except for God’s looking past my shortcomings and my deficient measure, and tugging at me, pulling me upright, and seeing that I’m truly repentant, and that I’m sorry, and that I’m trying, and that I DO love Jesus, then saying again, “I see no iniquity in her.”
No misunderstandings here, please. My awareness of this attribute of God the Righteous in no way gives me a license to sin–to willfully squander the redeeming blood of Jesus, to mock Calvary and ignore its shame. “Cheap grace” evolves from such mindset, no repentance required, no contrition, no turning from sin, no church discipline. Paul speaks to that in Romans 6:1-2.
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
No, we strive for perfection and we have turned from sin. We’re delving into the Word, we’re listening closely to God’s ministers and we’re spending time in prayer. Now check out the last part of the scripture…”the shout of a king is among them.” Yes!
My other blog is here.
“…Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” I Peter 5:5
In my last three posts on this site which have extended over a week’s period, I have talked a lot about my being repulsed by evil, and of my great love and passion for God. This morning as I again write, those feelings and philosophies are as much a part of my heart and of my soul as ever. But I want to assure that I don’t give the impression of feeling judgmental or that I somehow believe myself superior to those who are drawn to evil or who are actually trapped by satan and by his snares. That is not at all the case. I acknowledge my own shaky standing as a Christian, my inherent sinful nature, my tenuous grip on holiness, and understand that to even think of being godly, I am reduced to daily reaching and grasping. Holy does not come easy.
What tremendous advantage have I. I understand it to be one chance in trillions that I was even conceived. At one distinct and marked moment, through the union of a godly mother and father, God’s finger torched life to me, gave the little zygote strength and fortitude for its short but crucial journey, the fetus attached to my mother’s womb and grew, developed exactly, and then I was born. From the day of my birth, on July 24, 1938, I have been taught the ways of God. With all humility I acknowledge my rare and glorious circumstance. For others, by chance of trillions to one, are birthed to parents who themselves have been so deprived of the knowledge of the holy, and of the great love and redeeming force of Jesus Christ.
No, I choose no judgment seat and I wear no superior robes.
My other blog is here.
Earlier today as Jerry and I sat relaxed in our morning time together, he lifted his eyes from the newspaper and said, “Anderson is selling their new cars at $1.00 over invoice today.” He returned to his paper, and I stopped my reading, and began to think of trust.
“It would be interesting, Jerry, to select a new car at Anderson’s, then check with another dealer and see what the difference would be.” I paused, then asked, “How much is the markup on a car?”
From this simple beginning sprang a thoughtful conversation about trust. To be honest, our words slipped into considering the lack of trust in our society, and in our world as a whole.
“People don’t much trust anymore,” Jerry said.
“And with good reason.”
True, huh? Shameful, wouldn’t you say?
While I believe our conversation was on target this morning, I can think of many people in whom I can put my trust and confidence. I could whisper of monstrous sin, of deadly addiction, of fractured relationships and detect no glimpse of disdain or repulsion. I could blurt out my ugly fears, and cry out my doubts… and would be assured of comfort and of godly direction. I could speak of need for money, or for a restoration of my soul…and within my hands or inside my being would come those things. Those whom I trust–I have no doubt–would guard my secrets until their own very being had dissolved into death.
Of One other, I am sure. That of my Savior, my Master. For not only does He hear and guard my secrets, He alone is the way to healing and to restoration.
Psa 65:5 By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation, You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;
By no means am I deprecating Anderson. I have heard nothing of a negative nature concerning them. In fact I hope this helps them sell a car or two. Let them know you heard it first here.
“Be born in me, oh Holy Spirit
And let my will be lost in thine.
And let the world see only You, Lord
Be born in me, Oh, Christ divine. “
I “googled” these words trying to determine the author, and to see if I have the words exactly right, but I did not find the information I need.
This is a beautiful chorus that I have been singing since early-morning hours, and it is my prayer today–my sincere prayer. Be born in me, Jesus. Be formed in my soul. Be developed in me. Let me take on Your attributes, Your holiness, mark me as one of Yours, designate me, mold me.
For within myself, and utilizing only my power, I am at odds with godliness and with holiness. Sometimes I touch the rare, feel myself to be at one with Divinity, faintly brushed with supernatural, and with the angelic. Then passes the moment, and, again, I know myself to be stained and sinful.
But forever will be my reach, for I assuredly know that one day I will grasp eternal redemption and consolation, for of such am I predestinated, called and ordained.
Yes, be born in me, Oh Holy Spirit…
From the time I first met her, having married into Jerry’s family, my sister-in-law Mildred has been an inspiration to me. She is full of joy, energy and enthusiasm. She is an amazing woman whose attitude belies her life’s story and the circumstances with which she has dealt. Her husband, a heavy drinker, died of emphysema when she was in her 40s, I believe, while she still had children at home. She went to work for Wal-Mart and was with them for many years. She is 86 now and is spunky, beautiful and joyful. (Wish I had a picture to show you.) When she was 80 she painted her entire house, and recently when Jerry spoke to her on the phone, she said she had just poured cement steps at her house.
She seems to be perennially happy, she loves God, the church, and her pastor. She brags about him, and tells of baking goodies for him, and of having him and his wife to her house for dinner.
She’s never had many physical possessions–lives in a very modest home in Mansfield, La, and more than one of her children have brought her grief. She’s had sons who have spent time in prison, and girls with severe health problems. For many years, only one of her children served God. But in recent times God has rewarded her faithfulness and her astonishing joyful attitude. Now several of her children and grandchildren serve God, and during the past few years, one of her grandsons has entered the ministry.
She is the personification of the scripture in Isaiah 61: 1-3 (portions)
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me…to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.”
Today, I salute Mildred Rogers, and others of you, who despite challenging circumstances find a way to catch a fist-full of joy. The world is a better place because of you.
It is said that as Benjamin Franklin concluded a stirring speech on the guarantees of the Constitution, a heckler shouted, “Aw, them words don’t mean nothin’ at all. Where’s all the happiness you say it guarantees us?” Franklin smiled and replied, “My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.”
Rembrandt is probably one of the most famous artist who ever lived, who’s name is recognized world-wide. Rembrandt was born in The Netherlands in 1606 and died in 1669. His most famous painting is The Night Watch . Rembrandt would have never imagined his soon to be world famous painting would be vandalized, not once, but twice, in later years. A 1975 vandalisim has been well publicized. But was there others?
I have searched the Internet for any information of a 1911 attack on The Night Watch painting and no where have I seen anything about this incident. Why is there no mention of this act of vandalism against this masterpiece?
And now the rest of the story…………..
On January 13, 1911 in Rotterdam, a disgruntled Navy cook, angered by his discharge from the service, went into the Rijiks Museum and badly slashed the masterpiece with a knife. The man’s name was Sigrist, and he said he vandalized the painting as an act of vengence against the state for discharging him.
On June 19, 1999 I received the following update:
May I suggest an addition:
There were three incidents, not two. The 1975 incident was the worst. Large pieces of canvas were lying on the museum floor after a psychic cut the painting. It took a long time, about half a year, to restore the painting. This was the first time all old varnish was removed. The 1975 damage can still be seen on the painting (not very clearly, but if you know where to look for it…)
April 1990 another patient threw acid on the Nightwatch. Thanks to an extremely quick and adequate reaction of the guards damage was limited to the varnish. By the way: the guy who did this cut and severely damaged a Picasso in another Amsterdam museum last month.
When I read this and considered the efforts that were expended to restore these priceless works of art, my mind flashed to the human soul, and the bodies wherein are housed these everlasting entities. I thought of the damaged people around me, people bearing hideous scars, people whose lives and bodies reek with sin poisoning and whose minds and emotions are slashed through with the havoc of evil living . I thought of myself, born fully entrenched in the curse of sin, and who has to fight constantly to live a holy life.
But as damaged paintings are yet considered precious and worthy of enormous amounts of time, energy and sums of money to restore them, surely every human being must deserve the same attention and respect. No matter the damage, the slashing, the scarring we have endured, we are yet loved by Christ, and His redeeming blood is available to exact a full and beautiful restoration