Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"The Bible Says That?"

A good friend of mine recently took a group of urban teenagers to a week of Young Life Camp, an amazing experience for many who have never been outside Memphis city limits or accustomed to three meals a day.
At cabin time four nights into the trip, he told his campers, “Ask me anything.” And these young men had the opportunity to ask the questions that no one has ever let them ask and no one has ever bothered to answer.

My friend T did not elaborate on his own ideas of spirituality, but fielded the questions with Scripture, flipping back and forth through the Word in answering vital life questions. And I need to point out that my friend is not a seminary graduate or ordained minister, but a man who daily digs deep into God’s Word.

Over and over, he heard, “The Bible says that?”

It reminds me of the section in Exodus when Moses exhorts God’s people to be ready. “And when your children ask you, “What do these things mean?” (Exodus 12.26 and others) Or your co-workers or neighbors or friends. What are you going to tell them? When the opportunity comes up, there is no time for cramming. How can I do that if I don’t know what the Word says?

When God infuses the Word into a situation, God infuses His Word into hearts and changes them forever. For these young men, they comprehended the reality and truth of the Bible. It is no ordinary book, but the very words of God. They saw the Truth – perhaps for the first time. And they will never be the same.

Read His Word every day. It is the daily-ness of reading and meditating on Scripture that makes the biggest difference. In your life and the lives of everyone around you.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,
a workman who has no need to be ashamed,
rightly handling the Word of truth.
2 Timothy 2.15
Press on!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Don't Miss Summer

This is just a first in a new series called,
"Don't Miss Summer." Hope that you make the most of these summer months. They are an investment in your life and the lives of those around you. For the first installment, I have included a guest blogger, my husband Bill with some of his recent thoughts.


I had a nice 40 mile ride on Little River Rd. in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As I was riding I saw families in and out of their cars taking pictures, fishing and playing in the river. Coming down out of Cades Cove, I caught up to a car and kept up with it for a mile or two at 35 miles per hour. Two boys stuck their heads out the windows, pointed and took pictures of me.

It reminded me of our own adventures with the girls when they were little; camping from Cades Cove in eastern Tennessee to Glacier National Park in northwest Montana. They got so dirty at times two baths weren’t enough and they made the Tide kids on the commercial look clean. We simply threw their clothes away on more than one occasion. They wore out their anoraks glissading down glaciers in the Rockies. They climbed trees, unconcerned with the rain that fell drenching them to the skin. They got way too close to poisonous snakes and skunks and bears and bison, but so did I. We fished in Yellowstone Lake until our fingers and toes could stand the cold no longer, and then we fished some more. We swam in the icy snowmelt waters of String Lake in the Tetons. We competed at roasting marshmallows even though we all knew Laura would have the best.

And we laughed and made stories for many trips to come.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Visit to the Eye Doctor

I am on my last pair of contacts, and I have to go to the optometrist this afternoon for my eye exam. Nothing seems to be the matter with my vision, but in a couple of weeks, I will not have any contacts to wear. Why do I need to go, if nothing seems to be out of focus? Just give me the prescription.
I dislike the procedure of the eye exam. Which do you like better? One or two, two or three, three or four?
(Is this how he asks his kids what they want to eat? I wonder). Sometimes the difference between the choices is slim to none. I have to look very carefully to see the slightest variation in sharpness –are there fuzzy edges at all? Or is the choice very clear? Sometimes I don’t realize how poorly I have been seeing. What has become “normal” for me is really not how the world is.
That is where Biblical worldview comes in, discovering the reality of God in everything, big stuff and the tiniest details. What do I miss because my vision is off even a fraction?
Every day when you read God’s Word, He is refining your vision. It is not just how you see your world, but what you do about it.
“How should followers of Jesus respond? With action and hope,” says Mark Earley, president of Prison Fellowship.
How much do we miss in what God opens to us and what God wants to do in us and through us, just because we haven’t daily focused on Him through His Word? The reality of who God is will seep into every aspect of your life.

…one thing I know,
that though I was blind,
now I see…
John 9.25

Be Thou my vision…….

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Few Thoughts On Love

From Paul Tripp's sermon at College Church this past Sunday, based in 1 John 4.

"Love grows best in the soil of gratitude."

"It is only when God is in His rightful place in the center of our world... that we are able to love as He intended."

"Our failure is not a failure to love each other. It is a failure to love God."

"If you are God's child, you have been called to love."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

I recently purchased a devotional book called Morning and Evening. I had heard mention of it several times recently, so I was excited to find it this past week on the shelves of a used bookstore. I thought I'd share with you an excerpt from yesterday's morning entry. In the words of Charles Spurgeon:

It is good to regularly weigh ourselves in the scale of God's Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some Psalm of David and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, "Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God's mercies in the cave of Adullam or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?" Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourself how far you are conformed to His likeness. Endeavor to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit that He constantly urged and displayed. Then take the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did, "Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death"? Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all the saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"? If in this way we read God's Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we will often have good reason to pause and say, "Lord, I feel I have never yet been here. O bring me here! Give me the true penitence about which I am reading. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A lesson from the muddy paths of life

Several years ago when I began hiking with my husband Bill, he suggested that I get some hiking poles like his. I declined. I didn’t need them. And I always thought that hikers looked kind of silly using them, like something out of the Sound of Music. Ok, he said.

On one of the first extended hikes that we made with our friends Eddie and Becky, Bill offered me use of one of his poles. It was early spring. The trails were muddy and wet. No thanks, I replied. I don’t need it. Within about ten minutes of his offer, I slipped on a patch of black ice and skidded about twenty yards down the trail. I ended up with a bruise on my hip the size of Nebraska.

I then gladly took my husband’s sage advice and purchased a pair of poles.

The trails have grown longer and steeper. And I have found that the poles are very useful on the ascent, helping me to climb up the hills a little easier. But on the descents, the poles have become vital. Veteran mountaineer Ed Viesturs says that the hardest part of mountain climbing is the descent. That is when people get in trouble.

So on my last hike, while musing on a long quiet stretch up a hill, I thought about the poles and their spiritual connection. The two poles are like prayer and the Word. They keep me grounded. They help when my course is steep, but they keep me from falling when life starts going downhill fast. Prayer and the Word.

Keep grounded. Keep going.

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From whence does my help come?

My help comes from the LORD,

Who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121. 1-2

Press on!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


There's a little book I love called God Guides. As I have lent it to a few friends recently, it has been on my mind. If you haven't read it, I highly encourage you to do so.
Though really pretty short, it packs in story after story of author Mary Geegh's missions experiences in India. And every one of these stories contains remarkable evidence of God's hand on a situation as the individuals involved choose to follow God.
Sometimes the guidance was as simple as taking an egg to a neighbor. Other times it meant writing a letter. Or buying a train ticket. You get the idea. Small little steps, through which we can grow just a little bit closer to God. Take a paper and pen, remain silent, listen to God's guidance, and obey.
Seems simple enough.
And, aside from the paper and pen, incredibly reflective of the actions of numerous individuals in Scripture. When a situation didn't go their way, these individuals immediately turned to God.
"What did we do wrong?" they'd ask.
Followed, of course, by, "What should we do next?"
The victories and escapes and triumphs of Biblical times did not come simply because Moses or Joshua or David uttered a simple "please help me" before they went to bed. No, these men devoted themselves to seeking the truth. They chose to listen. And they chose to obey. Even in the little things. And that enabled God to use them in unfathomable ways.

Monday, June 8, 2009

End of an Era

Today marks a huge event in our family, an end of an era, so to speak. Today is Hannah's 20th birthday, and as of today, there are no more teenagers in our family. We have had teenagers in our midst for the past fourteen years, since 1995 when Beth crossed the line into the crazy world of teenage mania, closely followed by Kat, Laura and Hannah.
We have loved the ride.
It was a time of great laughter and tears for no reason at all, late late nights and school mornings when the sun didn't even come up until after classes had begun, and a thousand movies (at least) on a television "with knobs and no remote." Beth would make two phone calls and the basement would be full of kids, and fun filtered up through the vents. We outfitted a large number of the girls' friends with gently worn prom dresses, and Kate created hair styles every year for many of them, hairspray and bobby pins all over the counter. We flexed with last minute plans. We endured unending swim meets, a hundred degrees inside and subzero Iowa weather when we emerged. We stopped counting the number of cross country races we attended with boxes of rice krispie treats on crisp Saturday mornings in Ohio and muggy Tuesday afternoons in Memphis. I miss sitting on the stairs after midnight talking about deep theology and how to survive the rest of the semester. The girls learned the questions and the answers: where are you going, what time will you be home, who are you going with, who is driving, and the ultimate question of all: are the parents home? The outfits were crazy at times, the haircuts frizzy, too straight, and sometimes really bad, and of course, we heard the ever-present cry of despair,"I have nothing to wear." We endured no friends and too many friends and how to avoid creepy guys. There were study groups at the kitchen table and high school football games in Iowa City when the entire town showed up. Young Life came through the door every Wednesday night for three years, an enormous pile of mismatched shoes at the door. There were times of pain and suffering that we didn't know what to do about but pray. There were moves from Kansas City to Iowa City to Cincinnati to Memphis, all during high school. College decisions at times seemed to take a backseat to what earrings to wear to prom. First things first. Hearts were broken. Hope endured. And sometimes it was really hard to "be the mom" and say no. We lived through four driver learning permits, and I held my breath and prayed over brand new drivers on debut errands. There were four long trips to drop off the girls at college for freshman year. We wept on the way home. Every time. We prayed a lot. It was fun, it was tragic, it was quite a ride. And I am going to miss it a lot.
Today we begin another adventure of having our girls all in their twenties and a sweet new baby girl on the way.
When our girls were babies, there were those who shook their heads and said, "Just wait until they are teenagers." And then there were our friends John and Leeba Curlin who said to look forward to those years. We are glad that we took the Curlin's advice.
I post this tribute to our girls, and the amazing fun we had with you. Time for me to graduate.

Friday, June 5, 2009

North Catching Up to the South

One of the five "most read" stories this week in the New York Times is old news to me after living in the South for the past six years(and part of Bill's family for twenty-nine years of marriage). The article, entitled "For Teenagers, Hello Means 'How About a Hug?" (published May 27, 2009), analyzes a current trend among teenagers who greet each other with a hug. An amazing new greeting? It is interesting to me that the writer only quotes people living in the Northeast and San Francisco. Memphis must be a trendsetter. I am convinced that people in Memphis have been hugging each other hello, goodbye, and so good to see you, since the beginning of time. And that is one of the things I love about living in Memphis. People here hug -- and they mean it. And it makes life a lot sweeter.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tale of an Annoying Day

Beth was five years old and had her umpteenth bout with strep throat. And I think that it was the same week that Laura had to have stitches from a fall and had an allergic reaction to her medication. I was in the doctor’s office with all three squirmy little girls for the fifth time in six days. We waited in the waiting room where the girls picked up all of the other germs that they didn’t already harbor. And then we waited in the six foot by six foot cell, otherwise known as the examining room. The girls opened every drawer, climbed up and down off the examining table, and spun around on the little wheelie chair to keep themselves occupied. When Dr. Hoppers, the pediatrician, opened the door and saw us – again – he replied, “You’ve got to be kidding.” He removed Laura’s stitches and swabbed Beth’s throat. And to placate Kate, he took her down with him to the lab to get the test results for the strep. Annoying day? Absolutely. But God always redeems those in ways we can’t imagine. It was about that time – when Kate was three – that she announced that she wanted to become a doctor when she grew up.
Last weekend, that little three year old -- twenty two years later-- marched up on stage and was given her diploma for completing medical school. She is now a doctor, headed to Vanderbilt for her residency, a dream realized, grasped initially on an ordinary day in the doctor’s office.
Let those annoying days be redeemed. Be thankful for everything. God has purpose for even such a time as this.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Road Rash

My husband Bill is a cyclist, and at one time, raced with the Athletes in Action cycling team. When they were little, our girls remember going to races all over the Midwest to watch their Dad on his bike: Cincinnati, Indianapolis,Chicago, St. Louis, Ann Arbor, among others.
As in any race, there is strategy and jockeying for position. And when you are flying by at 25-plus miles per hour on a bike, there are inherent dangers when you are only inches away from guys all around you. It is amazing how a slight tilting of one cyclist’s handlebars can turn into a massacre of bicycles and riders all over the road.
Bill’s coworkers often witnessed him limping into work on Monday mornings, sore and scraped up from a weekend race. We called it “road rash.” At least once, he had bicycle tire tracks across his back.
Sometimes the crashes happened at the end of the race when a crowd of racers focused on the finish line. But mostly, they happened in the middle of the race. If the bicycle was mangled enough, the rider was out. But if it was only the cyclist hurt, more often than not, he’d jump back in the race.
We used that lesson through the years, and it became known in our family, “When you fall, get back on the bike.” Don’t sit around. Jump back in right away. If you don’t, it is likely you won’t ever do it again.

As we near the halfway point in the year, there are many who have fallen off reading through the Bible this year. Get back on the bike. Get back in the Word. It is the daily-ness of your time with God that makes the difference, not an artificial schedule. Let a plan help you, not defeat you. And if it takes you until February or March next year -– or even beyond -- to read the Bible through, you will still have read through the Bible. The point is your daily fellowship with God, not checking something off a list.

Get back on the bike.

Fear not, for I am with you.
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41.10
Press on!