Thoughts on Grace – Look to Jesus

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Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“When we are standing tall and strong we do not tend to look at Christ – we don’t need Him. But when we fall flat on our faces, overcome with sin and weakness, there is nowhere else for us to look but to the One who has died our death and lived the life we should have lived.”
How many times have you found this to be true? Yes, I praise and thank Him when the big, obvious answers to prayer are seen. I am joyful when an unexpected blessing comes and I give Him the glory.
But what about every day, when it’s the same thing you did the day before? I think I sometimes forget to go to God when everything is going smoothly. I forget to be grateful when everything is going as it should.
Seems some of us go from blessing God to begging Him. What would your friends think if that was the way you treated your friendship? Don’t you think your friend wants to just hang out with you sometimes?

My prayer is that I go to God every day, not just when I’ve messed up big time. Because, really, I mess up every day.

Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

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Cathy – Part Two

The prompt for Day 25 of PAD was “exercise”.  In a round about way I turned to thoughts of Cathy, my best friend who died on March 8th. This poem can’t begin to convey our friendship, but it was helpful for me to write it. Before the poem, though, I’d like to share a word that’s new to me but fits right in here –

Propinquity– the state of being close to someone; close kinship

My friend Cathy and I experienced propinquity.

 


Cathy

All those excursions we took before I left
come back to me now in photographs
we walked the downtown streets
to bookstores and cafes
laughing at inside jokes from our youth
You were so witty
We scoured antique stores for handkerchiefs
and old jewelry and hidden treasures
and since you could no longer exercise, you traded
me your Zumba CDs for my glass chickens
And now I’m miles away and you are gone,
but I still look for handkerchiefs
that I know you would have liked

Cathy – Part One

Those friends from middle school are unique. They are the ones you grow up with and make memories with that last forever. I’ve drifted away from most of those, but about six years ago I reunited with Cathy and we became closer than ever. It’s like we fell right back into that kinship that all the years had not erased. We began to hang out now a few times a month – it might have been a concert, listening to an author speak, going to a class, poking through a bookstore, or whatever we could find to do. A few years ago we even went to several funerals together. In March I had to go to one alone. Hers.

I don’t even know where to begin to think about Cathy. She was the kind of person who made you feel she was truly interested in you and your well-being.

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

Cathy truly stuck close to me, like the sister I never had. I could talk to her about anything. I don’t think I’ll ever have another friend like her. I thank God for the time he gave us.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. – Psalm 116:15

In Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, Aunt Ellen was described as “…seeming exactly strong enough for what was needed for her life.”

This is so much like Cathy. She had a quiet strength that took her to the end with hope and grace. For the two years we corresponded via snail mail and texts, she never grumbled. Rarely would she  mention a hardship, but when she did it was more like she was just telling me about it, not complaining. She would talk about the future, the adventures we would have. When I went to home to Jacksonville  and took her out, she never let on how long it took her to get ready; how she had to wait for some of the drugs to get out of her system before she could function.

We would go out to eat and she would eat like a bird, then have the rest packed up to take home. But, we would sit at the restaurant for several hours just talking.

chamblins

“Books were there… when I found a friend who loved books as much as I did and we could read together or spend an afternoon running our fingers over the spines.” -Mandy Shunnarah, from I Don’t Do It For You: A Reader’s Manifesto via her blog, Off The Beaten Shelf

This was us – we could spend hours rambling around bookstores like Chamblin’s Uptown in downtown Jacksonville. I will always miss my book buddy.

God’s Love & DNA

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“…there is an absolute disjunction between our Father’s love and our deserving.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

I came across this quote I’d written down while reading Gilead and it was the word disjunction that caught my eye. I’ll explain about why later. Disjunction means a lack of correspondence or consistency.

There certainly is no connection between God’s loving us and us deserving His love. I speak for myself, but I know it is true for us all. What in the world can we do to deserve God’s love above anyone else? Or at all?  There are no works we can do to merit His favor.  There is a multitude of works we can do, though, to show our love for Him.

Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share,

I Timothy 6:18

So, back to the reason this word jumped out at me. In my latest long-term substitute gig, I’ve been teaching 7th grade science. We are learning genetics and just yesterday we talked about nondisjunction. As an English teacher at heart, this word threw me because it seems to begin with two negatives.  Even though my math skills are poor, I know two negatives make a positive, so now I’m confused.

Nondisjunction occurs in the process of meiosis when homologous chromosomes fail to separate properly during cell division. So, to back up, junction is the process of joining. So, that would seem to mean that disjunction would be a splitting apart. Which makes sense; it’s a lack of connection. So, it seems like NONdisjunction would be a lack of splitting apart. But, no, it is actually a lack of splitting apart correctly. NOW I get it! I feel much better.

Back once more to the original quote –  I am trying to put these thoughts all together. God’s love does not come to us because we deserve it. We could not apply the word nondisjunction to this situation, because there is NO correct nor incorrect lack of splitting apart of these two ideas – God’s love and our deserving. These two will never correlate.

One thing I do know is that as I learn the intricacies of DNA, I am more awed than ever at the way God created us. And more overwhelmed at the fact that He loves me.

 

He Is Nearer Than Our Own Soul,

...Of how much more value are you than the birds?  Luke 12:24

…Of how much more value are you than the birds? Luke 12:24

Sometimes I get despondent and it seems I am alone. I know in my heart that I’m not, but I forget that God is my Father, and a Father that cares more for me than I’ll ever know.

My dad had a hard time expressing himself. He grew up without a father as his dad died when he was only four years old. He had no role model to show him the way to express love to his children. I think I was a young adult before I ever heard him say, “I love you.”  I knew he loved me, but it was music to hear him say it. Yet, the older and mellower he got, he began to loosen up and I heard those words more often.

I am thankful for all the years I had with him. And I’m thankful God is near me, even when I can’t “feel” Him.

“We need never shout across empty spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.”- A.W. Tozer

The Secret of Perfect Rest

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Andrew Murray wrote a book titled Abiding in Christ, originally published in 1895 but still relevant today. The following posts in this series are a combination of his thoughts and mine.

Now He not only says, ‘Take My yoke upon you and learn from me’; become My scholars, yield yourselves to My training, submit in all things to My will, let your whole life be one with mine – in other words, abide in Me.

This shows me I need to be a student of the Word, to learn from Christ is to be in His Word. I am sorely lacking in the exercise of being a scholar of Christ. Yet, as Murray says, “entire surrender to Jesus is the secret of perfect rest.”

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.  –  Matthew 11:28-30

These Little Ones

“When the Lord says you must ‘become as one of these little ones’, I take Him to mean you must be stripped of all the accretions of smugness and pretense and triviality.” – from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

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We were blessed to have our grandchildren with us for four days. What a delight to be able to play, laugh, eat, hike, read with, and just enjoy these children. How sweet it is to hear the two year calling out “Grandpa” as she wanders the house looking for him. What happiness I get when the five year old asks, “Grammie, tell me a story.”The last few visits my stories were about cars; this time they centered on Wall-E and Eva by request.

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Their parents were enjoyable, also. 🙂

And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein – Luke18:15-17