Wednesday, November 30, 2016

There Is a Season

...and a time to every purpose under heaven. -Ecclesiastes 3:1b

It seems as if we have proceeded from summer directly into winter here in NW TN.

 I exaggerate (slightly?) but the turning of the leaves has been the extent of our autumnal experience in absence of the gradual decline in temperatures that is generally the norm around here.

As you see, the regularity of seasonal change is part of the pattern of our lives and so we take notice when there are perceived irregularities.

Have you noticed that there is a similar rhythm in the flow of our lives?  This is noted by the Preacher in the opening chapters of Ecclesiastes.

In case you're wondering, the beginnings of these musings are as simple as pictures on a wall. Six of them, in fact.

The first is of Joyce, Sandy and me in 19th Century regalia, a riverboat gambler and his family.

Below it is a portrait of Joyce and me, done by Sandy. We are older now, all in black against a blue background.

Below this, arrayed on either side, are four photos of each of our parents. Dads are in the uniform of the U.S. Navy and moms are depicted in their teens. All of them would have been roughly eighteen years of age.

Amazing, isn't it, to think of our parents as teenagers.

Which leads to meditations on the march of time and the nature of things (back to those seasons, hmm?)

I was blessed to be in the home of two dear friends this past Thanksgiving Day. Of all the blessings of the day, the blessing of family was most apparent. Children of children, and their children, filled the spacious home.

It is much the same at GPC. We are a young congregation (excluding myself and a couple of others). Children (and babies!) are everywhere!

It is a season for growing and learning in their lives. And the interaction between young and old is a joy to behold and be part of.

For the young parents, it is a season for creating memories, strengthening bonds of love and sacrificing that these babes might grow in wisdom and knowledge of the Lord.

I will admit I have wondered, watching all this over the past few months, whether God might bring someone special into my life.

And as I sit in Sunday School sharing His Word with three bright young minds, as I sit, on Sunday evenings, in a nursery crackling with youthful energy, it occurs to me:

He already has.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heard It In a Love Song

...can't be wrong. -Toy Caldwell

I suppose it might seem odd to find the Song of Songs included in Old Testament wisdom literature.

This song, composed they say by Solomon for the dusky maid of verse five in the opening chapter.

And taken simply as that, a love song, its beauty thrills the heart.

Who wouldn't love and be loved like this?

Our professor of Old Testament at Ouachita Baptist College may have been correct in stating that we were too young for him to teach from this portion of scripture.

The young lovers in "Romeo and Juliet" were willing to die for their love.

But as we see here, we must be willing to live for our love.

To endure.

The Reformation Study Bible notes that we find three qualities of love between a man and a woman revealed here: self-giving, desire and commitment.

What a thing it is to have experienced such a love.

Who can live these qualities to perfection?

There is One who can and does perfectly love.

Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Serious As a Heart Attack

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1

In one of our songs, there is a line that goes: "In the blink of an eye, a new life began; in the blink of an eye, you're free from all the pain."

My friend Camille posted a blog entitled "What Should I Fear."

There is an implied implication here (I believe) to consider the question personally.

On June 14, 2014, I began to suffer a heart attack.  It began as a weak, slightly sick feeling while I was doing yardwork at GPC.

I drove home, crawled into my recliner and took an Alka-Seltzer for what must have been the worst case of indigestion ever.

The nausea and pressure abated somewhat but returned in a few moments.

I've had worse (broken bones trump all that indigestion stuff), but I still wondered what I might do to obtain relief.

The minutes ticked by and the pain seemed to ebb and flow, but also to center more on a oppressive weight on the chest.

It was when a sharp pain up and down my left arm commenced that I became truly concerned (okay, okay, you can call it fear!)

My first thought, as I recall it, was: "So this is what it's like to die."

We Christians have this quaint habit of seeing God's hand in everything because, well, His hand is in everything. And I began to pray.

"To live is Christ, to die is gain," said Paul and his words rang in my ears and calmed my spirit.

The fear didn't kick in until I thought of my wife and daughter.

"Oh God," I began to pray, "if this is your will for me, then be it so; but O Lord, for the sake of my wife and my daughter, would you spare my life for a while longer?"

And the pain stopped immediately and I did laps around the house.


I went to the ER, was loaded aboard an ambulance and taken to Paducah where the excellent doctor in the hospital there placed two stents and sent me home in a couple of days.

And so God spared my life for a while longer. Some of His purpose in this have been apparent, some has yet to be revealed.

I recently heard a pastor say that when we come to worship, it doesn't begin when the pianist starts to play and congregation becomes still, but we are only joining worship that is already in progress and the spiritual world becomes part of our material world.

The real reality of heaven has become ever more real and present in my thoughts when my wife passed over and when I reflect on the praise and worship she is most surely engaged in.

And I think, "So this is what it will be like to die."

And I ask, with my friend Camille: "What should I fear?"