Finding an Enduring Loyalty

The Five Minute Friday writing community looks forward to the prompt that Kate Motaung gives each week. We pause to think about the word and then write as ideas begin to flow. This week the prompt is: LOYAL

The dictionary offers this, as a definition of loyal: faithful to a cause, ideal or custom.

Over the years I have found a variety of causes to invest in.

During my college years, and after I graduated from the University of Michigan, I have been a loyal fan of the football team. My family is amused by my attachment to college football. I must admit that I am a little uncomfortable with the big business aspect, but I continue to cheer for my team.

After practicing as a labor & delivery nurse for a few years I was drawn to the Lamaze movement. I took Lamaze classes during my first pregnancy and later became certified as a Lamaze teacher. I taught for 18 years and received feedback from my students.

Sometimes students felt that the Lamaze techniques just didn’t work when their labor was induced. Interventions and the hospital environment were overwhelming. As induced labor and epidurals became more common, interest in the Lamaze method began to fade.

And then I made decision to leave the hospital labor/delivery unit and join a group of physicians and midwives that were attending home birth.  I observed that women were more able to relax and work with their labor in the home environment.   I loved working  in  the  home  environment and promoted home birth to my daughters.

But it is true that sometimes the hospital is needed. Sometimes interventions are needed that require the equipment in the hospital. I would like to see better communication and teamwork between home birth attendants and hospital staff.

Each of these ideals has limitations.

Currently I am reading a biography of  Susannah Surgeon  (book  to  be released September 4). Susannah and her husband, Charles, shared a faithful loyalty to the gospel. They worked together as a team with a love for the Lord God.

The best and most enduring loyalty is to the gospel, to God’s love and plan of salvation. I want this to be my passion.

You can visit the Five Minute Friday Community and read more reflections on LOYAL by clicking here.

Merry Christmas!

Here is a portion of the Christmas letter that I wrote on December 4th and sent out with our cards:

The homes in our neighborhood are decorated for Christmas, and today we had our first snowfall. The trees sparkle with white icing. At church we sang Christmas carols and wrote cards for Christians that are currently imprisoned for their faith.

Our hope for this beautiful world, created by God, but broken by sin, rests in God’s plan of salvation through Jesus. Job, a man of faith in the Old Testament, has words of hope. For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. Job 19:25

The apostle John wrote about about God’s plan of salvation in his gospel. John recorded the words of Jesus. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16   This is the gift of Christmas.

Many thanks to all my readers and my best wishes for joy in the New Year!

Christmas Pointsetta

The nativity image is courtesy of FreeVintageArt.com

The World Series and the Gospel

The Chicago Cubs are World Series Champions. Wow!! The last time the Cubs even played in the World Series was 1945. My Dad went to one of the games. He was a WWII veteran, just home from the war.

World War II veteran

 

Some one gave him a ticket. He was cheering for the Detroit Tigers who eventually won the series.

I grew up a Tigers fan, but 38 years in Chicago has made me a casual Cubs fan. This 2016 team has been fun to watch.

Throughout the playoffs they have cheered their teammates along. When errors were made they picked each other up. So much fun to see them leaning over the railing in front of the dug out, jumping with joy for every run scored.

image courtesy of wikimedia commons
image courtesy of wikimedia commons

In this 7th game I watched Kyle Hendricks pitch with steady precision. When Joe Maddon took him out I thought it was the wrong decision. I wonder what the team thought? Lester and Ross came into the game. David Ross had trouble with a couple balls and Cleveland scored two runs.

But the team stayed focused on their goal of winning. Ross hit a homerun in the next inning. The passed ball was forgotten.

The game hit another valley when Chapman gave up two runs in the 8th inning. After nine innings the game was tied and a rain delay was called.

I sighed. How late was this game going to go? But something special was happening in the Cubs locker room. Jason Heyward gathered his teammates and made a speech. According to USA Today this was the heart of his speech:.

“He spoke up and said this is about your teammates,” David Ross said. “He just said, `We’re the best team in baseball for a reason. Continue to play our game, support one another. These are your brothers here, fight for your brothers, lift them up, continue to stay positive.  We’ve been  doing this all year so continue to be us.”

The Cubs scored two runs in the 10th inning and held Cleveland to one run. The Cubs won with a final score of 8 to 7.

This team has demonstrated qualities that we should take note of.

  1. The Cubs had a goal that they stayed focused on.

  2. The team encouraged each other and picked each other up in the tough moments

As believers and followers of Jesus we should be the same way. Our focus is the message of the gospel. The apostle Paul sets down this goal.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes Romans 1:16

We are also a team. We need each other as we focus on the message of the gospel.

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of everyone of you for one another is increasing. 2 Thessalonians 1:3

Sharing this post with Word of God Speak,  Christian Blogger,  Thankful Thursday and Thought Provoking Thursday

Family Time and the Gospel

The air was fresh. The leaves on the giant cottonwood trees were rustling with the breeze. My sister, brother and I were sitting at a picnic table at the botanic garden.

We had fresh apple cider and hamburgers. We enjoyed our lunch as we absorbed the joy of nature. We watched a blue heron standing in a nearby pond. I felt blessed with this interlude of rest from stressful thoughts.

My brother’s health is declining and as his guardian I have been asked to look into possible care situations. For a time the weight of concern was lifted.

My brother has a mental illness and his thoughts about God, about relationships, is tangled up. He has had a difficult life. But I believe that God loves him and can heal his emotional wounds.

My attempts to share my faith with him have varied responses. I feel like I am stumbling along. Conversations with my brother can be calm or erupt suddenly in an angry outburst. During one visit to his group home I asked if he reads his Bible.

He said, “No.”

I said, “The Bible is God’s love letter to us.”

He scowled and yelled, “It is not!” Then he stared at me daring me to say any more. I retreated—for the time being.

But on this day, after spending time in nature, he responded differently. On the way home, in the car, I asked my brother, “What do you think about Jesus?”

His answer came quickly, “He was the most hated man.”

Then I asked, “Why did he come to earth?”

After a long pause my brother said, “I don’t know.”

I said, “I think he came to show us God’s love.”

This time there was no angry outburst, only thoughtful silence.

I want the Bible to infuse my daily life and my conversations. God’s word is the source of our hope. I am still learning about putting this in practice. In the book of Romans the apostle Paul writes:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1: 16

Prayer: Lord God, thank-you for your Word and the example Paul sets for us. As I trust you day by day, may I be a witness of the Gospel.

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Hope of the Gospel Overcomes Shipwreck

HHS Mandate and Little Sisters of the Poor

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

 I am finishing up my study of the book of Acts,  and I can see how    Isaiah’s declaration applies to Paul.    Several times in Acts, Luke      describes Paul’s call to Rome—and his determination to go there to testify. After being imprisoned in Caesarea for two years he is finally on his way to Rome, by ship. They are traveling in a season not favorable for sailing. He and the 275 other people on board the ship are shipwrecked.  God protects them and they are treated well by the  people of Malta. They wait out the winter there. Luke, the physician, was with Paul and recorded the journey to Rome in the 27th chapter of Acts.

Shipwreck
Painting by Bonaventura Peeters

Matthew Henry comments on chapter 27 with these words:

No storms or tempests can hinder God’s favour to his people, for he is a Help, always at hand.

The work that God had prepared beforehand for Paul was to proclaim the message of the gospel.  Acts 9:15 states this about Paul:   he is a  chosen instrument of mine [of God] to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. Paul was called to proclaim the message of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection in Rome. He was to tell people about God’s offer of salvation through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

It is easy to get distracted by world events and by tragedies in our    nation. Why are Christians being beheaded?  How did we ever get to the point that medical research seeks baby parts from abortion      clinics? Why did Justice Scalia die now? In some sense our nation is in a shipwreck.

The words from Isaiah and the example of Paul are a great encouragement. Paul was not deterred by the execution of James and or by his own imprisonments.

Even though storms come up, we need to keep our focus on Jesus. God’s word will not return empty. I may stumble but He is faithful to help. We live with a precious hope. May we bring God glory.

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Linking with Weekend Whispers, Word of God SpeakFaith Filled Friday and Friendship Friday

Lovely Aroma in a World of Conflict

A Sweet Aroma
Last rose in my garden

Are you discouraged by the conflicts and moray decay all around us? I am. The study of the book of Acts is giving me hope. I am glad that this book was chosen for the fall Precept Bible study.

Sometimes political issues stir my emotions. Can political action groups solve the problems? They may have a place, but the problems in our country are spiritual.

It is not wrong to stand up for a point of view—in fact we must pursue truth.  Every life is valuable.  God designed marriage as one man and one woman. This truth comes from the word of God.

As I spend time studying the Bible, I realize that God’s plan of            salvation is woven through the scriptures and this message is most important. The gospel changes hearts. The apostles spoke about Jesus:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.      Acts 4:12

The apostles and early church were focused on the message of the gospel. Even when persecution began they prayed for boldness.

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.       Act 4:29

Followers of Jesus, the church, have a specific role for this time. We are called to be a witness for Jesus Christ. Through our words, our    attitudes and actions we have a responsibility to have a message that points to Jesus and salvation. Sometimes we fall short. We need to be in the Word, in prayer and dependent on the Holy Spirit. Jesus has     given the Holy Spirit to be our helper.

I know that I am more sensitive to the Holy Spirit when I am studying my Bible, spending time in prayer and joining in fellowship in my home church. These are necessary activities. I encourage you to       embrace these practices.

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the        knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God, among those who are being saved, and among those who are     perishing. 2 Corinthians 2: 14-15

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank-you for completing the plan of salvation. Thank-you for forgiving my sins and giving us your Word. Guide me by the Holy Spirit to be a witness for you.

Linking with Thought Provoking ThursdayWholeHearted Wednesday,  A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every SeasonWords with Winter,  Sharing His Beauty,  Sunday Stillness,  Grace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday

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