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November 2020

Writing

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The canon has been closed, yet God continues to write his glorious revelation in the center of our lives. — Calvin Miller

Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3, NLT)

We are in the age of faith, the Holy Spirit no longer writes gospels, except in our hearts; saintly souls are the pages, suffering and action the ink. The Holy Spirit is writing a living gospel with the pen of action, which we will only be able to read on the day of glory when, fresh from the presses of life, it will be published. — Jean-Pierre de Caussade

You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! (Matthew 5:14-16, MSG)

I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day;
I'd rather one should walk with me than merely tell the way.
The eye's a better pupil and more willing than the ear,
Fine counsel is confusing, but example's always clear;
And the best of all the preachers are the men who live their creeds,
For to see good put in action is what everybody needs.
                                —Edgar Guest

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. (Galatians 2:20, ESV)


Reading is a gift

IMG_9550I am reading a book that challenged me to write about my earliest memories of reading and about the influence that reading has had in my life. So I did. Here is what I came up with:

Reading is a gift.

Reading was something that I was naturally good at. As a kid I wasn’t very good at sports and my handwriting was atrocious, but I could read, and I read well at an early age. My earliest “reading” memory takes me back to Ferg’s Barber Shop in Jerome, Idaho where I see myself standing in a barber chair (as a five-year-old) reading the daily paper out loud to a chuckling barber and a crowd of grinning old men who were more interested in “chewing the cud” than getting a haircut. The host of this show was my grandad. He had been boasting to the men in the shop that I could read as well any of them and they scoffingly urged him to prove it. Thus, there I stood, reading aloud the local rag when I should have been having my “ears lowered.” I liked being good at reading (and making my Grandad proud).

My next reading memory involves comic books, especially Spider-Man comics. In my early elementary school years I would accompany my mother to the Smith’s Food King grocery store, and while she bought the groceries for the week, I would camp out at the comic book rack. As my mom shopped, I sat on the floor and devoured as many comic books as possible: Batman, Superman, Dennis the Menace, The Fantastic Four, . . . you name it, but I never even glanced at the new Spider-Man comic. I left it on the rack, untouched, until I saw my mom wheel her overloaded grocery cart into the checkout lane. Each week I was allowed to buy “one” comic book (they were 35 cents each), and my purchase choice was always Spider-Man. In the car, on the way home from the store, I savored my new Spider-Man comic book . . . I read it over and over again, every day, until the next trip to Smith’s Food King. (I have a box of Spider-Man comic books in my garage today. Now, 40 years later, I suspect they are worth a bit more than 35 cents a piece. . . . They’re not for sale.)

In fifth grade I fell in love with reading. It was a weird year and great year. I started fifth grade with one teacher and ended the year with another. My first teacher passed away (she was elderly, at least in my 10-year-old mind) and at mid-year we got a new teacher, her name was Miss Dillon. She was a first-year teacher, young, beautiful, vivacious, fun, (did I mention beautiful?) and she loved reading. My first teacher (the one that passed away) didn’t read aloud to us (we were "too old for that”) but Miss Dillon was so enthusiastic about reading that she wanted to read aloud to us. She started off by reading to us one of her favorite books, The Hobbit. Need I say more? From that point on you could never find a Tolkien book on the shelf of the school library, they were always checked out. And I was hooked. I broadened my reading from comics to include books like Old Yeller, The Lord of the Rings, Where the Red Fern Grows and The Iceberg Hermit, to name a few. In fifth grade I fell in love with reading (and Miss Dillon).

I am an avid reader today. I read for pleasure, for fun, for information, for work (I’m a teacher and I read aloud to my fifth-graders) and I read to grow in my faith and walk with Jesus Christ. I have read hundreds of books that God has used as a means of growth and grace in my life. I read the Bible every day. Wow, it is so good. The Bible is God’s word to us today. It speaks of God’s goodness, His promises, His glory and His love for all the world. Reading the Bible helps me to gain wisdom and understanding, and reading God’s Word helps me to grow in my faith and draw closer to God.

Reading is a gift (many thanks to Grandad, Mom, Miss Dillon and most of all, God).

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights. (James 1:17, ESV)


Empty

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A glutton is one who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.                                                                                             — Frederick Buechner

You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1, NIV)

Thou hast made us for Thyself, O Lord,

and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee. — Augustine

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:1-2, NIV)

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. — C.S. Lewis

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14, NIV)


Happy Thanksgiving, tears or no tears

Happy Thanksgiving. It is a weird one, a tough one, and for many-a tearful one.

For us rule followers, we are not gathering with others today. The virus is raging, the hospital beds are full and the powers that be (medical and otherwise) strongly recommend that people stay home.

However, many in the USA aren’t. (See this story headline from BBC News: Coronavirus: Millions travel for Thanksgiving despite warnings)

The turkey is stuffed, the airports are jammed, the roads are full, the homes will be packed . . . and the virus will spread.

Even now, my eyes brim with tears as my heart longs to be “with” those I love. But for now, Facetime and phone calls will do. This virus won’t last. We will gather together again someday and I want to do what I can to ensure that all of us are together then—crying tears of joy.  

Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God’s blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears. (Hebrews 12:17, MSG)

Happy Thanksgiving, tears or no tears. 


Thank You

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Thanksgiving is a spiritual exercise, necessary to the building of a healthy soul. It takes us out of the stuffiness of ourselves into the fresh breeze and sunlight of the will of God. The simple act of thanking Him is for most of us an abrupt change of activity, a break from work and worry, a move toward re-creation. — Elisabeth Elliot

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. (Psalm 92:1, NLT)

Life without thankfulness is devoid of love and passion. Hope without thankfulness is lacking in fine perception. Faith without thankfulness lacks strength and fortitude. Every virtue divorced from thankfulness is maimed and limps along the spiritual road.                                     — J. H. Jowett

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT)

Jesus, I just want to thank You this morning—You, so high above my life—for the joy that returns. You stoop down to anoint my spirit with comfort and peace. Thank You for your invading goodness, the kindness that You leave just inside the door of my days. Thank You for the relentless mercies that pursue me when I stray. Thank You for carrying my sorrows like a tender Father. — David Kopp

So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves; Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out! (Psalm 107:21-22, MSG)

Thank you for the cross, Lord
Thank you for the price You paid
Bearing all my sin and shame
In love You came
And gave amazing grace
            — Darlene Joyce Zschech


Examine

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An unexamined Christian stands like an unattended garden. Let your garden go unattended for a few months, and you will not have roses and tomatoes but weeds. … It takes examination, teaching, instruction, discipline, caring, tending, weeding and cultivating to keep the life right. —A. W. Tozer

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV)

The unexamined life is not worth living. — Socrates

Examine me, God, from head to foot, order your battery of tests. Make sure I’m fit inside and out so I never lose sight of your love, but keep in step with you, never missing a beat. (Psalm 26:2-3, MSG)

Pride cannot stand the bright light of self-study. Pride has a fear of seeing what ego really looks like. Pride is a generous self-portrait. … Humility shuns such portraiture. It separates us from our grasping egos. It is stepping back and looking at ourselves. It is being so rebuked at what we see that we yield to a better self. — Calvin Miller

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? (2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)


Sincere

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In prayer it is better to have a heart without words, than words without heart.

                                                                    —John Bunyan

My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. (Psalm 51:17, NIV)

The ideal man is not a perfect man by any means. Rather, he’s a maturing man, a striving man, a studying man—but most of all he’s a man who seeks the Father with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. — Charles Stanley

Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and truth. (Joshua 24:14, NASB)

Be an ardent seeker . . . —John Henry Jowett

From here on, worshiping the Father will not be a matter of the right place but with the right heart. For God is a Spirit, and he longs to have sincere worshipers who worship and adore him in the realm of the Spirit and in truth. (John 4:23-24, TPT)


Happy Birthday Dad 76 years!

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Happy Birthday Dad!

Humility is not a sign of weakness. It never has been. It never will be. It ever has been and always will be a sign of strength and deep-rooted courage. All through history the strong men—strong from the standpoint of morality and righteousness—have been humble men. And in human relationships humility is a powerful thing; for it not only rebukes an enemy; it also reclaims, wins, the enemy. —David Dawson

I thank God for you. Your life is a blessing. Thank you for your ceaseless prayers and your unwavering support of me. Thanks for your “strong” life of humility as you live for Jesus Christ. It is my privilege to be your son. I celebrate you and your 76 years of life today.

With love, Ryan