A Tribute to Our Mothers

Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.

Let your father and mother be glad; let her who bore you rejoice.

Proverbs 23:22 & 25, ESV

 

I'm about to celebrate my 62nd Mother's Day. The first 59 I had the privilege of enjoying with my sweet mother. This year, like the two prior, I will have to celebrate that special day with the memories alone. Now don't get me wrong, Mom was ready to go home. Her tired, frail body had simply had enough by the time she reached her 82nd birthday. If she was as faithful as she appeared to be (and I'm sure she was) she has got to enjoy these past few mother's days pain free, with the reward that she so richly deserved.

 

My Mom, like your Mom, was the best there ever was. My earliest memories are of her loving me the way that only a mother can. When I was hurt, which seemed to be more often than most of the other kids I knew, she took care of me. It didn't matter that the head wound was suffered in a rock fight I shouldn't have been in, or the cut that I received was from my boy scout knife I was using to drill a hole in my desk when I knew better. She just took care of me. 

 

I remember a flying trip we made to the doctor's office at four years of age. I had broken my arm falling off of a tri-cycle that was originally intended for riding sitting down instead of standing on the seat. I was terrified of getting a shot - for some reason the pain of the shot seemed far worse that my arm being broken in two places - and I remember being sheltered in her lap on that ride with the assurances that I would not. I don't know who felt worse when the first thing the doctor did was give me a shot for pain, Mom or me, but I know that she experienced far more pain than I from that shot.

 

I don't remember being particularly "chatty" as a boy, but Mom hinted that I might have been. She often would tell me of the time that her best friend, Ruby Von Wald, had baby sat me for the day. When Mom came to pick up her treasured possession (Me) Ruby asked her how she could stand being followed around being talked to, all day, without respite. I feel quite sure that Mrs. Von Wald was exaggerating, but Mom persisted in telling the story anyway.

 

Mom didn't wear the latest of fashions. She was far more concerned with her three children and one husband being properly attired. She made sure that I used the restroom before being bundled up to play in the snow, and then would reluctantly let me back in her clean house a few minutes later when I had discovered that I did need to after all. I remember Dad force feeding me the things I would refuse to eat (Dr. Markle, the repairer of arms and deliverer of shots) confided with her that this was probably not the best thing to do.

 

I have often wondered in my adult years how it must have made my Mom feel to spend hours preparing a tasty and wholesome meal on a tight budget, only to have one of her children having to have his stubborn mouth pried open and force fed her hard-toiled meal past screaming lips.

 

I remember the time my Mom had sacrificed to pay the fee and buy the little league baseball uniform with money they probably couldn't spare, only to have me whine about having to wear a homemade, cut from felt and hand-sewn initial on my cap, instead of the more expensive professional cap the other boys had. Every time I look at the team picture of the guys with their spiffy, store bought, professionally initialed caps, and me in my homemade one, the shame I had felt now is nothing but love and deep admiration for a woman who sacrificed so much for her family. 

 

I could go on and on (Okay, I probably have) but I don't want to forget the most important thing: Mom loved our souls! She read us a Bible story every night, and listened to our prayers every night, and made sure that we were properly attired and in Bible class and at the worship every time the doors were opened. Mom prayed and prayed for her children. She talked to us when she was concerned we might not be living just right. She did those things even though they were not convenient, but because she loved us. In subsequent years I would try and tell her how much she meant to me, but it wasn't enough.

 

My Mom, like yours, was the best in the world. If you have the privilege of having yours still with you, why not tell her that? She would love to hear it.

 

And now, with a tip of the cap to Ruby Von Wald, I will close this article with this: Happy Mother's Day to all of our Godly mothers! We do not deserve you, but we love and adore you!

A Chance for a Nation at the Brink of Destruction

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Psalms 139:13-14, ESV

The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.

Surely these things happened to Judah according to the LORD’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the LORD was not willing to forgive.

II Kings 24:2-4, NIV

 

This week in America we got the good news: The Supreme Court is leaning towards striking down the law that forced the states to perform abortions, whether they wanted to or not. Now, I know it's not the same as completely removing the cloak of legality to this heinous sin, but it is a step in the right direction. The closest that I can compare it to is the outset of our nation when our original states did not have to go along with the sin of slavery if they did not want to. Eventually slavery was outlawed in every state, and I can only pray that the same will be done for abortion.

 

Many, however, are not rejoicing at this news. Many like the idea of being able to legally terminate a life. One popular personality indicated that this was a decision that was between she and her children. Our President indicated that only individuals had the right to decide whether to take an unborn child's life or not, and that the courts should stay out of it. He said we were given that right as children of God.

 

So why am I pleased that this wicked law may be going away? It's partly because of the first verse that is listed above: We are fearfully and wonderfully made! It is God who forms us and it is God who knits us together in our mother's womb. To say that God then gives us the right to kill that forming baby is insanity. To say that the decision to terminate a child's life is between the mother and the child is perverse. It would be like any other murderer saying that they shouldn't be judged since their crime was between them and their victim.

 

Please don't misunderstand the extent of this decision, should the supreme court have the courage to go through with it. It will not eliminate legalized abortion in our country. But it will allow people in individual states to determine whether their state will continue the mass murder of the most innocent in our society. It will allow a person to decide whether or not they can live in a state that does sanction infanticide.

 

By giving us this chance and by placing this decision back under our control, I believe it gives us the opportunity to help pull a nation back from the brink of this mindless destruction that we have been involved with for so long. For, as we read in the second passage above, there does indeed come a time when God will no longer forgive a nation when they are involved in the continual and wanton practice of the shedding of innocent blood.

 

Our nation, whether we like to acknowledge it or not, has become filled with every sort of wickedness imaginable. Isn't it nice, for a change, to see an opportunity to repent of our national disgrace and begin once again to protect the lives of the most innocent among us. I pray that we will repent of this evil that we have so long been involved with. Maybe this decision will allow those who wish to return to God, to have an opportunity to do so.

 

One last thought, that occurs to me now. Isn't it good, at Mother's Day, to have a hope that our unborn children be kept a little safer from those who wish to destroy them!

 

 

 

 

Failure is an Event not a Person

Failure is an event, not a person!

Zig Ziglar

If only more people could realize the truth of this statement. It seems that we know a lot of folks who feel like a failure simply because they did not succeed in something that they really wanted to do. But, instead of realizing that trying and failing at one thing is merely a part of the process, they feel like that they are a failure, and give up! When it comes to the important things we want to accomplish in life, this type of attitude is tragic. But, when it comes to our service to God, this type of thinking can be fatal!

 

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Philippians 2:12-13, NIV

 

The fact is that God wants us to succeed for Him, and is actually working within us to help us fulfill His good purpose. That very fact should cause us to realize how important we are to God and how much He wants us to achieve that which we were created for. And what is that, exactly? To be saved so that we can be with Him forever! That's why we are to work out our own salvation. Note that the verse above does not say that we are to come up with our own plan - God has already determined how we are to be saved. But, after we find out His plan from His Word, we are then to get busy working out that plan so that we might take advantage of the salvation He has promised to the faithful.

 

We can never do that, however, if we consider ourselves a failure every time we don't get it right on the first try. We are never a failure as long as we don't give up! God Himself works in us in order to fulfill His good purpose, so how could we fail? Once we realize that, combining that truth with the knowledge that failure is an event, not something that we are, we can then get on with the important task of the service that God has put us here for.

 

If you have felt like a failure in the past, welcome to the club! Now, however, is the time to leave that critical misunderstanding of something that was merely an event on the way to fulfilling God's purpose for you, in order that we might get back to the work of accomplishing the purpose for our existence.

 

 

What a Wonderful World

I hear friends greeting friends

Saying, "How do you do?"

What they're really saying

Is, "I love you."...

And I think to myself, What a wonderful world!

Louis Armstrong

 

I know this song shows my age (It really was before my time), but I still like listening to it. Louis Armstrong had a version recorded where he talked about people who asked him, considering all of the bad things going on in this old world, if he thought it was still "A wonderful world"? And his answer was that he did.

 

I can remember grocery shopping trips when I was a small boy. On one such outing Mom let me get a comic book and a package of red licorice. Then I got to go back to our car (It was a safer time) and leisurely while away the time. I can remember laying on the floor with my head on the "hump" - some of you will remember - and savor my fine literature and cuisine. It was a wonderful world, when I was a little boy!

 

Now I get to spend time with my grandchildren. I love seeing them come up the driveway with their parents for a visit, and I love seeing their parents come back up the driveway to pick them up and take them home. I love watching cartoons with them and reading books them and playing ball with them. I love their innocence and their passion for life. Just the other day my youngest grandson was here, and we spent hours wandering through the house and getting into things (my wife was gone). Exploring, I believe, is the man term for this activity.

 

On the first day of this past week, I got to spend time with dear friends at the worship. I preach for a small congregation and I have learned that about 22 minutes will do just fine to get a good message across that people can use. Anything less might make too much of a hurry, but anything more could become a sleeping hazard. After worship, people just hung around for about 30 minutes to an hour, just enjoying one another.

 

They were greeting one another, saying, "How do you do?" But we know that what they were really saying was, "I love you!"

And, like Louis, I have to thank our Lord, and think to myself, "What a wonderful world!"

 

I know that there is a lot of meanness in this old world that we live in now. I know that there are evil people doing evil things that they should not be doing. But I also know that We have a good God who created this world for us as a gift. And, when we refuse to let the devil's children spoil our outlook on life, this really does become a wonderful world!

 

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

Psalms 16:6, NIV

 

Defending the Innocent

Openyour  mouth,judge  righteously, And  defend  the  rightsof  the  afflicted  and  needy.

Proverbs 31:9, NASU

 

I had the privilege of visiting with a sweet, older woman yesterday. I'm not sure just how old she is, but I suspect that her 80th birthday is somewhere long in the past. We were talking about the drought conditions that we were experiencing and how maybe we would get some rain, as the day was overcast and a bit promising. She made a statement, then, that has caused me to think. She said, "I don't know if God will give us rain when we are killing so many of our babies."

 

At first that might seem to be a ludicrous statement, especially when there are so many areas where abortion is rampant and the rains still fall, but maybe there is some wisdom behind the words of this sweet lady. You see, we live in an area known as the Bible Belt, but it seems that people are paying less and less attention to the instruction of this great Book that has given us our identity. And you have to admit that we don't hear much about this terrible sin anymore - we don't voice aloud much about any sin anymore. It's almost as if people had forgot about it.

 

But, has God? He commands us to defend the rights of the afflicted and needy, but are we doing so? And if we are not, what will become of our prayers? This is something we do not have to wonder about, because He has already told us:

 

Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things. No one calls for justice; no one pleads a case with integrity. They rely on empty arguments, they utter lies; they conceive trouble and give birth to evil.

Isaiah 59:1-4, NIV 

 

If the world seems to be falling about, maybe it's because we have let it by not coming to the aid of those who are truly afflicted. If it seems like God has abandoned us when we call upon Him to put the pieces back together, maybe it's because we abandoned Him, and because we have ceased to be concerned with defending the rights of those who are truly afflicted. Maybe there is some wisdom to what this dear, elderly woman wondered aloud yesterday. Maybe God will not answer the prayers of those who call upon Him until they start being concerned once again for the most innocent among us whose rights and lives are seemingly forgotten.

 

So, what can we do? I don't have the perfect answer, but I do wonder if we might start with this: Maybe we could start voicing our concerns about all of our babies who are being killed. Maybe we could then humbly beseech our Father to also intervene on behalf of these innocent victims - and not just in the area of abortion, but also in the areas where they are being subjected to things that are just not right. And then, maybe, we would have the right to pray to the Creator for rain as well as all of our other needs, with the rightful expectation that He will hear our prayers and answer them with showers of blessing.

 

What do you think? Is there some wisdom behind this woman's statement... or is she just an old woman out of touch with our modern world? I think that she just might be right.