Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
A VERY SPECIAL EASTER
(EARLY DAYS - Charlie and me and Virginia and Dotty on our laps)
A VERY SPECIAL EASTER
As the lady got into her car she looked at me and smiled, “I can’t tell you who sent me, but I can tell you one thing…it’s sure great to be a messenger for the king.” With that she drove away and I was left standing with my mouth gaped open in surprise.
The woman, who at that time was a stranger, had come by my house to bring me some Christian books, tapes and an envelope containing $135. There was no way possible she could have known our electricity was being turned off the very next day because of two months of non-payment.
It had been a tough year for us. Charlie had back surgery, leaving him out of work for months with no paycheck. My income from writing articles for the Macon Telegraph was a whopping $200 a month. Food stamps became a necessity to feed five hungry children and I learned what it meant to be humbled because of circumstances beyond our control.
To make matters worse it was the Easter season and our church was having their annual Easter egg hunt. What seemed like a minor need was huge for us. Our two little girls needed Easter baskets and we had no money for gas for our car, much less non-essential items.
The next day I triumphantly paid the electric bill (which took nearly the whole $135) and with a few dollars worth of gas in the car, headed for the little town of Chauncy to interview some school board members for a news article.
On the way back home I kept thinking about the Easter baskets and decided I would stop at a drugstore and see if I might be able to squeeze enough money out of our depleted bank account to buy them.
Just as I reached for a little basket I heard the voice of the Lord. “If you buy these baskets I’ll not give you good baskets.” My hand jumped back from the $1.29 item and I responded, “Okay, Lord. I’m going to trust you on this one.”
That night our son Jeff, who was very concerned about his little sisters, came into our room. We knelt by the bed and prayed about the need for Easter baskets. I assured him that if God could supply money for a big electric bill, then surely Easter baskets were no problem to Him.
The next morning before we were out of bed the phone rang. “Mrs. Tuck, someone called me and asked me if you could possibly use two Easter baskets.”
One hour before the time the girls were supposed to be at the church, the same lady who had brought the money, showed up at our door with two of the biggest Easter baskets I had ever seen in my life! They were filled with wonderful goodies…candy, gum, sunglasses and in addition to the baskets she brought an Easter card containing $25 and a beautiful cake for all of us to enjoy.
While the girls were at the Easter egg hunt I was able to purchase material for Easter finery. Although I struggled to keep awake during Easter services because of sewing until the wee hours of the morning, Dotty and Virginia were the happiest little girls in the church.
That had to be one of the best Easters we’ve ever experienced. Not just because Jesus proved again that He was our Jehovah-Jireh (our provider), but because we knew He really was alive.
Many years ago a young Jewish man posed a question to Alfred Ackley, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?" Ackley replied emphatically that he knew Jesus was alive because he had just talked with him. Subsequently, in 1933 Ackley wrote a hymn entitled, I SERVE A RISEN SAVIOR.
The chorus of the song says it all: “He lives, he lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me, He talks with me, along the narrow way. You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart.”
Do you know He’s alive? Does He talk with you every day? Are you experiencing the resurrection life of Christ?
“Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25
Saturday, March 31, 2012
DO YOU NEED A SIGN?
Quite a few years ago I met a young man from up north. I wouldn't say we were close friends, but we had something in common. We both claimed to know Jesus as our Savior.
I lost track of Joel for a few years. About four months ago I happened to see him in downtown Cochran and a conversation ensued. I discovered that Joel was now married and had a little girl named Ellie. Ellie is a charming and inquisitive two year old.
I invited Joel and his wife Sam to attend a Bible study that we hold in our home on Thursday evenings. Like so many invitations, it was unheeded...until...
Two weeks ago I was getting ready for the Bible study when my cell phone rang. I couldn't get to it in time, but on my caller ID I saw the call was from Joel. I tried calling back, but no answer. I sent a text saying, "If this is about Bible study it's tonight at 7PM. See you then."
Joel showed up, but his story was almost too wild to believe. Apparently Ellie had found the cell phone, scrolled down through the names until mine came up and then punched my number. When I called back Joel was unable to locate the phone at first, but when he did he read my text.
Feeling it was a "sign" from God, Joel hopped in his car with Ellie and away they came. On the way there was a brilliant rainbow that ended...you guessed it...right at our house!
Don't you just love it when God puts things together?
Saturday, March 24, 2012
THE NEW WORLD ORDER
THE NEW WORLD ORDER
Joining a host of post-apocalyptic fiction works come Hunger Games; a story of survival in an uncertain world that emerges following the destruction of North America.
According to the storyline the residents of Panem, formerly North America, are being punished because many years ago one of the districts rebelled against the new establishment, referred to as the Capitol.
Every year, a boy and a girl, from each of the 12 districts that have survived the destruction, are selected, by lottery, to represent their district in the Hunger Games, which become a sort of ‘survival of the fittest’.
The point of the yearly carnage (what else can you call it?) is to teach a lesson to the survivors in this new world. Rebellion will be punished! This event is televised, much like The Truman Show in which Jim Carey is being filmed on live TV. However, the participants in the Hunger Games know they are being televised. The entire drama is supposed to be a warning not to rebel against the authority established over them in the new world order.
Each year, since the beginning of the Hunger Games, 23 people have died as a tribute to the rulers of the Capitol of Panem. The movie, which just debuted March 23, features the 74th Hunger Games. Thus far, 1679 young people have died in the games. What happens now? Sorry. You have to see the movie to learn “the rest of the story”.
I enjoy fiction, don’t you? Not quite sure whether I’ll make it to Hunger Games, since I’ve heard it’s a pretty tense movie and I don’t need to wind up in a neck brace like my husband did after viewing Act of Valor. Talk about a tense movie!
Although I’ve been a lover of fiction ever since I began reading, I still find real life much more exciting. Most of the movies I’ve seen, when based on true stories, have more impact on me. I’m challenged more by reality, than by fiction. Somehow I feel that if a particular event could happen to someone else perhaps it could happen to me…or if they accomplish some great feat maybe I can do it too.
In my early years as a Christian, I devoured biographies of God’s great generals. People like C.T. Studd, Hudson Taylor, John and Betty Stam, just to name a few. I realize in today’s society very few of our young people even know who these great Christians were but their exploits for God challenged me to take the high, and sometimes the lonely, road.
To me, personally, it is a sad commentary on our times when people are more passionate about fictional characters like Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark from the 12th District in Hunger Games, than they are about Jesus Christ the Son of God and the heroes and heroines of the Bible.
Yes, I love fiction, but how can fiction ever compete with God’s New World Order? Do you know that in the REAL post-apocalyptic world every person will love the leader? We won’t be living in dread that our ruler will take some person and maliciously enjoy watching them suffer and die.
In the REAL new world order there will be peace, joy and fulfillment of the highest degree. (If you haven't read Heaven is for Real I recommend you purchase a copy!) Instead of foraging for food we will be totally satisfied with the bounty of heaven. It will be a place where there is no sickness, sadness or death.
Heaven is for a prepared people. In this life we are not training for a do or die battle, but for interaction with God and all the incredible people we have learned about from reading the most amazing book in the world…the Bible!
In Hebrews (a book of the Bible) we learn that those who have entered this beautiful place are actually watching us here on earth, as we run the race set before us in life.
As the writer of this book enumerates the accomplishments of those who have died and entered heaven, it seems that he sighs and says… “And what more shall I say?” Obviously he feels there is no way he can name all the people and all the things they have done for the glory of God.
He continues by saying these heroes of the faith have “conquered kingdoms...shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames and escaped the edge of the sword…they became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies… even their women received back their dead, raised to life again.”
And again, “Others were tortured, refused to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. . . the world was not worthy of them.” (Hebrews 11)
These great giants of the faith would tells us now, that reality is better than fiction and would invite all of us to do all we can for the real New World Order. “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
Friday, March 16, 2012
In case you don’t know about the Goodwill Industries Bookstore in Macon, you’re missing a great used bookstore. Every now and then, when Charlie and I are in that neck of the woods, we check out the latest deals!
The other day I found a book by author Richard Booker, entitled ‘The Miracle of the Scarlet Thread’. Since I had been doing research on this particular subject for an upcoming bible study, I was thrilled to add another commentary to our library.
I was intrigued by the personal note written on the inside front cover, which read in part. “Mitchell…this is one of the finest books I have found on the subject, ‘covenant’. It is one of my top ten or so Christian books. I hope it will be a blessing and welcome addition to your library also.”
The donor signed his name, but that was all. I read it to Charlie and commented, “I wish I knew who this person is and where he’s from. What a nice gift to give someone.” Those of us who are book lovers just naturally think; a good book is the best gift in the world.
The book still had that new feel to it and I was glad it wasn’t all marked up like some used books are. (I’m notorious for marking in books; but I don’t like it when I see other people’s markings – go figure!)
As I continued reading through the book night after night, I had to agree with the donor. The book was outstanding in tying together the loose ends of the blood covenant as set forth in the Bible.
One evening I turned a page and BINGO! There, hidden between pages 70 and 71, was a personal check for $40. Obviously Mitchell never read the book because the check written in 2005 had not been cashed.
Sorry Mitchell. You not only missed the blessings contained in the explanations and teachings of Richard Booker, but you also missed the monetary blessing intended for you by the donor.
To me the book was not only a treasure of words, but when I found that little check I was once again reminded that blessings come to those who diligently seek them.
How many of us miss the blessings that God Almighty has for us in His Holy Word? Instead of reading it, we leave it on the coffee table or night stand to gather dust. How many treasures have we missed this week, last month or even all year?
Hopefully we haven’t gone so far as to box up our bibles and donate them to the local Goodwill Industries. I’m always amazed at how many Bibles line the shelves of used book stores. Who owned these Bibles and why were they discarded?
While in Warner Robins last week we stopped and visited another favorite used book store, Gottwalls. They have a fantastic selection including, among other subjects, Christian titles, the classics, and everything you might want to read about the Civil War (one of Charlie’s favorites). Again there was shelf after shelf of new and old Bibles.
Some say they don’t understand the Bible and think reading it is a waste of time and effort. Oh, but if they only knew the author personally, it would be a different story.
Others complain that the Bible is a boring book and having read it once, think that’s quite enough. However, I contend there are treasures (better than a $40 check) tucked away on the pages of Holy Writ. There’s one slight catch. The treasures are reserved for those who are seeking them.
Jesus put it this way, “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” The truths we find may be old or new to us, but amazingly we can never plumb the depths of the treasures contained in God’s Word.
By the way, it took a little detective work, but I finally found the donors of the little book. Their phone number had been changed in the last seven years, but they still lived at the same address.
When Mrs. Donor discovered that her husband had written the check, she was not one bit surprised. “My husband is such a giver,” she declared. “He’s always giving away money!”
I answered, “That’s great. He’s just like God…a giver.” “On the other hand”, I thought, “Mitchell was the loser”. How about us? Are we losing out today because we’re not searching?
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. (Proverbs 25:2)
Friday, March 9, 2012
(Painting by Ron DiCianni)
In a stunning 6-3 decision Mar. 8, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld the pardons issued by former Gov. Haley Barbour during his final days in office. Barbour had pardoned 198 people, including four persons convicted of murder. Some put the figure of pardoned criminals in the 200 mark.
After the ruling was announced and the initial negative reaction was noised, Barbour defended his controversial pardons. He based his decision on the right defined and given by the state constitution to the governor to offer people who have shown repentance and rehabilitation a second chance.
Needless to say, that even though most of the people pardoned had paid their debt to society, the crime victims didn’t share the governor’s viewpoint.
Randy Walker, a man who was shot in the head by one of the pardoned murderers was outspoken in his criticism of the final decision, “The Supreme Court weighed in and they’ve weighed in on the wrong side of the issue. I think they did what was politically easy for them rather than what was right for the people of Mississippi.”
Joann Martin, whose sister was killed by one of Barbour’s pardoned trustees said, “I hope Haley Barbour and the Supreme Court justices can sleep at night.” She added, “God will have the final say.”
As the dust settles in Mississippi, there will be many who will continue to shake their heads at what is perceived to be a miscarriage of justice. Those who were pardoned will also continue to be amazed at their ‘luck’.
Joann Martin’s observation, ‘God will have the final say’, certainly hit the nail on the head. Martin, along with the majority of people in the South’s Bible belt, probably think the final accounting at the judgment will clear up the matter. Until then some in the Mississippi community will not sleep well at night.
Grace and favor was extended in a controversial fashion by Barbour, but on that final judgment day I believe we will all be amazed at the grace God will be extending to guilty sinners. (Painting by Ron DiCianni)
I, for one, have experienced God’s amazing and totally underserved grace. Fifty-five years ago on a winter night in February, I was set free, pardoned by God’s amazing grace. I am still in awe of the freedom granted to me by a loving God.
Unlike those pardoned by Barbour, I showed no signs of repentance, rehabilitation or remorse. I certainly hadn’t paid any debt to society, nor did I have any remote thought of doing so. You might say I was one of those incorrigibles.
The Bible explains my past condition like this: “At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought. But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure and faultless, into his presence.” (Colossians 1:21-22)
A few dictionary definitions of grace are ‘unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification’ or, ‘a virtue coming from God’.
In the case of Barbour’s gracious pardons; the convicts are freed, but the guilt no doubt remains. They may walk the streets, take a position with a major company, purchase a house and a car and even join a church, but the stain of their crime will still be in their hearts unless they have repented before God.
The only adequate and complete absolution doesn’t come from an earthly governor or by a Supreme Court ruling. The only true exoneration comes from God through the sacrifice of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
“By his blood we are now put right with God; how much more, then, will we be saved by him from God's anger! We were God's enemies, but he made us his friends through the death of his Son. Now that we are God's friends, how much more will we be saved by Christ's life! But that is not all; we rejoice because of what God has done through our Lord Jesus Christ, who has now made us God's friends.” (Romans 5:9-11)
I seriously doubt if any of the released and pardoned criminals will be frequenting Barbour’s Mississippi home and be considered as close friends and associates.
As a pardoned sinner, by the grace of God, I am enjoying the fellowship and blessings of my great benefactor every day. Free from the penalty of my sins and the guilt of my past transgressions, I am walking in the joy of the Lord.
Another wonderful thing about this pardon, that I am enjoying, is the non-exclusiveness of the offer. The last invitation extended in the Bible by God says, “Let whoever is thirsty come and drink freely of the water of life.” Salvation is free…forgiveness is free…undeserved grace is free! Who in their right mind would refuse such a pardon?
Friday, March 2, 2012
At the beginning of each semester a certain college professor poses this question to his students: “What is your passion? If the world was going to end tomorrow, what is the one thing in the world that would make you happy? What one thing are you passionate about, that you could spend the rest of your life doing?”
I think that’s a great question, don’t you? Today we have so many people going through life hating their jobs, feeling frustrated over their particular lot in life and in general, they are in a perpetual funk!
One of the definitions for passion is to have boundless enthusiasm. How many people do you know that have passion, in this particular sense of the word, for what they are doing?
Passion is also a driving force that pushes people beyond their limits in an endeavor to do what they love. Recently I read an article by a motivational speaker in which she stated, “Passion + production = performance. People who love what they do, get the best results.”
Passion can be a driving force for good or evil. Right or wrong, passionate people are shakers and movers. The old axiom, “Some people make things happen, some watch things happen, while others wonder what has happened” is so true.
While thinking about the word passion, my mind wandered about its meaning in the movie title, The Passion of Christ.
Why was this term used? We usually think of the word passion in a sexual sense, but digging deeper we understand that passion also means a driving force or boundless enthusiasm.
The word used in the movie title no doubt was an explanation of the sufferings of Christ on the cross, as in the term ‘Passion Play’, and forewarned the prospective audience that Jesus would be seen as one who suffered for lost humanity.
Would we be correct in saying that Jesus had a force driving Him in the direction of the cross? Was His march toward suffering made with boundless enthusiasm? Of the two meanings I would suggest to you that the first is true. The driving force that sent Him to a horrible and ignominious end was His great love for us.
Interestingly, there is a flower, known as the Passion flower, which depicts this suffering in a visible way. Although there are some 500 varieties of the Passion flower, only one in particular, according to legend, commemorates the Crucifixion.
The Blue Passion flower, which blooms with either blue or white petals, has a spiked crown of violet in the center. The pointed tips of the leaves are said to represent the Holy Lance, the sword that pierced Jesus side.
Although there are many meanings for the various parts of the flower, the one that stands out so obviously is the flower’s radial filaments, which can number more than a hundred and vary from flower to flower. These spiky filaments represent the crown of thorns placed on the head of Jesus.
Today herbalists have extracted liquid from these flowers, selling it in health food stores, claiming it has a calming and healing effect in one’s body.
Although I have never tried the Passion flower liquid extract, I can say unequivocally that there is peace, calmness and healing in knowing the One for whom the Passion flower represents; the One who had the greatest passion of all for His life’s work and mission.
Over and over Jesus told His disciple that he had to go to Jerusalem, the place where he would eventually die. One Scripture says He set His face as a flint toward this city. (Isaiah 50:7) Nothing would deter him from his predetermined purpose.
Hebrews 12:2 puts it this way: “…..who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” What was that joy that enabled Him to go the distance? Friend it was you…it was me…it was everyone in the world who would believe and trust in Him.
Back to the question posed by the professor, “What is your passion? If the world was going to end tomorrow……” Are you passionate about superfluous things? Our lives are but a vapor…here today…gone tomorrow…and then what?
One of my greatest heroes, C.T. Studd,missionary to Africa and China penned a poem which reads in part… “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last. And when I am dying, how happy I’ll be, If the lamp of my life has been burned out for Thee.”