Monday, January 31, 2011

Good Works Can't Save

If we were meant to earn salvation by our good works, the Lord would have told us what they should be, how many, and for how long.  We find no such formula in scripture.  When we try to earn God's favor, outside of Christ, our good works are like filthy rags to Him.  Our good works become trying to please God on our terms.  Attempting to earn forgiveness of sins through our righteousness, is showing hostility towards God because we are shunning God's provision for the forgiveness of our sins.  We are attempting to earn God's favor, our way.  When we turn from our sin and call on Him to clothe us in the righteousness of His Son, accepting His sacrifice for sin on our behalf, His death on the cross as payment for our sin, and that alone, our good works then become beautiful and pleasing to Him.

Let the Lord give you His righteousness, and then love Him with all your heart with your good works and kind deeds...this is well-pleasing in His sight and brings Him honor.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Little Buddies

These are the latest pictures of Daniel and Charlie, taken today.  Daniel is eighteen months old and Charlie is four months old.  I think they are going to be the best of buddies, don't you?  Daniel is very sweet with Charlie, only it comes out more like "Cha-chi", when Daniel says his name.   

Charlie left with his mom this morning for Viet Nam.  Mai is taking him to meet his other grandparents.  As I write this, they are somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.  Charlie will have his own little basinet to sleep in, thanks to Asiana Airlines!  They should arrive in Ho Chi Minh City at around 8 am Monday morning, West Coast time.  

Please pray for Mai and for her parents.  She wants her parents, who are Buddhists, to come to know the Lord as she has.  Pray she will be a light and that her parents will be drawn to the Lord by her changed and tender heart.  

Mai has a wonderful testimony of how the Lord drew her to Himself.  When she was in jr. high school, a friend found a back pack with a picture Bible in it.  She read it from cover to cover, over and over again, drawn to its stories.  In high school, the Lord blessed her with a believing friend, even though she still didn't know Him yet.  In their science class, when they were in the unit on evolution, her friend whispered in her ear, "Don't believe it, it is a lie."  She met my son then three summers ago when they were both up working in Alaska.  Ben brought her to meet us before she returned to Viet Nam at the end of the summer.  I gave her a Bible.  I encouraged her to read the book of John.  We began to email and she would ask me all kinds of questions.  Well, the Lord opened her eyes during that time and she turned from her sin and gave her life to Christ.  That day rated among the top five most wonderful days in my life!  I have come to love Mai greatly.  She is a precious daughter-in-law, a good wife to Ben, and a sweet mother to Charlie.

Thank you Lord for blessing my life with her...please bless her with the joy of seeing her entire family come to know You too.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Before the fall, Adam and Eve didn't experience pain but when they walked away from God's counsel they stepped into both emotional and physical pain and suffering.  The principle still remains, when we choose to sin and not heed the counsel of God, we end up suffering, often bringing others into it.  I don't know anyone who likes pain but the reality of life is that it is all around us and every human being on earth has experienced it, whether it be because of a sinful choice we have made, someone else has made, or simply because we live in a fallen world.

Jesus has endured the most pain of any human being.  The difference between us and Jesus however is that He experienced emotional and physical pain not because of any wrong doing on His part, but because of ours.  He experienced physical pain from the beatings and lashings and piercings when He went to the cross to shed His blood for our sin.  And because He became sin for us, He experienced the severest emotional pain anyone could endure - His Father turned His back on Him.

Do you have someone you love being with?  Do you have someone you know who loves being with you?  Jesus loved being with the Father and the Father loved being with the Son.  But the Father chose to forsake His Son.  He no longer could look at Him because His perfect Son became sin.

Imagine the one you love so much and you know who loves you so much no longer desiring to be with you.  How crushing would that be?  Jesus never stopped loving the Father, but for a moment, the Father stopped loving the Son and poured out His wrath on Him instead.

Why was Jesus willing to suffer in such an emotional and physical way?

Because of His great love for us...

I hope that leaves you stunned and then gives your heart flight.

All pain and suffering is going to come to an end because sin is going to be done away with.  In the meantime, there will be suffering and we will face trials.  There will be pain.

Here's a question we need to ask ourselves...what does pain, or trials produce in our lives?  Does it produce sin in our lives or does it produce a stronger faith and endurance?  If in trial after trial we begin to turn away from God, we need to question the genuineness of our faith.  But if in trial after trial our faith is strengthened, we can have assurance that we belong to the Lord because He has said that nothing will ever separate us from His love.  When He begins a good work in us, He brings it to completion.  I have seen affliction upon affliction in a person's life cause them to eventually walk away from the Lord and I have seen affliction upon affliction bring a joy and a trust and a sweetness of character into another's life.  Trials prove the quality of our faith.  Trials also put God's work of salvation on display.

When we don't remain steadfast under trial and pain, when we sin because of pain, physical or emotional, we have taken our eyes off the One who loved us so greatly.  The purpose of His suffering should give us strength and endurance in the trial.

May we never question the goodness of God even in the deepest pain.  May we always place the blame on suffering where it belongs, because of sin.  May we ever keep our eyes on Him and may we remember that the suffering we experience here cannot be compared to the glory that awaits us.   

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Without truth...

...there can be no growth...

Ephesians 4:15 - "but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,"

I am thankful for the biblical teachers and those who speak truth into my life, aren't you?  Sometimes it hurts, but I'm glad for those that don't place how I may feel or react over knowing that truth produces growth, and then God is glorified.  We have got to be placing ourselves in the path of truth for the growth to occur.  It should be with a body of believers on a regular basis and during our own personal time.  Just like a plant can't grow without the sun, we will not grow unless we are exposed to the truth of God's Word.  May we be in its warmth, every day. 

(Hmm...I just tried to post a link to this from Facebook.  Said the content was abusive so it wouldn't allow it.  What do you think?!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welcome to the World...

Ethan Kai San (Victorious) Cheng!

Born 1/11/11, on his mama's 26th birthday, he arrived at 8 pm exactly, weighing in at 7 lbs. 12 oz.  Stretched from head to toe he is 20 1/4 inches.

Ethan is my great-nephew, my twin sister's first grandchild, and Daisy, Daniel, and Charlie's second cousin!  (Oh, I can only imagine the mischief those three boys will get into at family reunions...)

I love your middle name, Ethan.  My prayer for you, is that you will grow up to be a man after God's own heart.  In Christ, we are victorious!

Congratulations, Garry and Eva-Karin,

...and so happy for you, Karin - there is a joy all its own in being a gramma!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter Snow Song

This is a really beautiful song that I came across for the first time today...

The Lord did come quietly at His first coming...

It won't be so, when He returns...

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Baby Shower Devotional - Given by My Mom

Thought you would enjoy this baby shower devotional that my mom gave today in her church for the pastor's daughter...

On January 11, 54 years ago, my life changed forever as I held my firstborn in my arms.  That day I fell head over heels in love with a red faced, squally, wiggly little baby – my son Paul whom I adore to this day. 

I was all of 19 years old, married just a year and on that day, the happiest person alive!

Less than 2 years later I was again in the delivery room and heard the doctor say, “It is a girl!”   That was so exciting as I grew up with 3 brothers and always wanted a sister.  Then a couple of minutes later another announcement, “there’s another baby in there!”   At that time I went into shock as a second baby girl was delivered (there were no sonograms 50 years ago).   So at 21 I was the mother of 3.  Betty Ann joined the family 3 years later and just when I sent her off to school, Phil arrived bringing the total to 5.

With motherhood comes a joy that cannot be described as you hold that precious little one in your arms for the first time.  As I examined Paul’s fingers and toes, marveling at this miracle I held, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that only God could create such an awesome little creature.

But with motherhood also comes a tremendous responsibility – that of nurturing and raising this little one.

As I looked back over my 50 plus years of motherhood, being there while my children raised my 10 grandchildren, and now experiencing again the miracle of birth as my third great-grandson is due any day – I wondered what gems of wisdom I could share with you, Tiffini, as you and David embark on one of life’s most exciting journeys – parenthood!

First of all – realize that this precious baby is a gift from God. From conception through morning sickness, the first little flutter, the strong kicks that wake you up in the night, to eagerly looking forward to those contractions that let you know your suitcase better be packed and ready – God is at work.  King David described it so beautifully in Psalm 139 when he wrote, “You formed my inward parts, you did weave me in my mother’s womb, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your eyes have seen my unformed substance and in your book they were all written - - the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”

And then give your baby back to Him.  As a pastor, one of my hubbie’s greatest delights was to officiate at a baby dedication as new parents would promise to raise their children, to the best of their ability, to love and serve our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer is so important. Pray for wisdom for yourself and David.  Pray for your baby.. Over the years your prayers will change as your child grows.  Some that I have prayed are -  

"Please, Lord, just let me get a good night’s sleep."  
"Help me see if he really pushed a piece of red crayon up his nose and if so, help me get it out!"
"Don’t let him love his kindergarten teacher more than me."
"Protect him from these crazy neighborhood kids."
"He’s too young to be interested in girls!"
"Help us all to survive his learning to drive.
"Thank you that we finally made it to graduation.  I’m so proud of him."
"Keep him faithful to you as he goes into the Air Force."
And all to soon – "Bless this young couple as they begin their life together."

Don’t try to do it all alone – How thankful I am for my parents, teachers, youth leaders, camp counselor, pastors – and so many more that were instrumental in my children’s lives.

I remember a dear lady in our Bell Brethren Church who was the mother of 4 grown children, all serving our Lord, who would call me every day at 11 a.m. and pray with me over the phone for my house full of pre-schoolers and for me.   Sometimes she just listened as I poured out my heart, encouraging me in my walk with the Lord.  What a blessing.

Enjoy your baby.  Enjoy each new phase of his life. (Of course, there are those middle school years when you want to put junior in a trash can with a rock on the lid and not let him out for awhile!)  I am sure each one of us here will testify to the fact that our children grew up way too fast.   Where did the time go?  So savor each moment as it comes.

Be consistent.   It is so important you and David be on the same page in expectations, discipline, and such because -

Kids are smart.  They know mom is pretty firm but they can get most anything they want out of softy dad (or vice versa) and use it to advantage!  They know if you actually mean something or not.  How many times have your heard a parent say – “if you don’t stop that I’ll - - - -“ and then not follow through.  If you tell him you’ll send him to school in his underwear if he isn’t dressed on time – do it!  (My mother actually did this to my older brother.   Of course, she didn’t let him get past the front yard but he got the message.)

Sometimes it is so hard to discipline.  When my children were little we would get eggs fresh from the hens via our egg lady who would deliver two dozen each week.  One morning I left them on the kitchen table and came back into the room to see my 2-year-old twins dropping the eggs one by one onto the floor and watching them break open.  They would drop one, squeal with delight, jump up and down, drop another – until they saw me.  They knew they were in trouble and tried running away – through the slippery, slimy broken eggs.  Of course they fell into the mess and it was so funny it was almost impossible not to laugh as I picked each one up, dripping scrambled eggs all the way into the bathtub, to get cleaned up.  I can’t remember what the punishment was but that incident was never repeated, much to our cat’s disappointment as she was more then happy to lick up the mess.

Play with him, laugh with him, celebrate each new accomplishment, be firm when necessary but be sure to give more praises then scoldings, love unconditionally, teach him to pray.

Someone has said that the best gift you can give your child is to love your spouse and in this day when more then half of our children are growing up in divorced or single parent homes, I would emphasize that importance.   But even more than that, I can’t even imagine trying to raise a child without the help of our Heavenly Father.

Children do bring great joy, but can bring heartache as well, whether it be an illness, their being on “outs” with a best friend or grieving over the loss of a pet, making poor choices, or walking a different path than we would choose for them.

It is during these hard times that we grow in our faith as we give our children into His care as He loves them more than we ever could and He knows far better than we what is best for them – and well as for us.

Jeremiah 29:11 put it this way –

For I know the plans that I have for you declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

Tiffini – your little one is blessed indeed to not only have two parents that love and serve the Lord, but grandparents as well – and a whole church full of people who love you and will be praying for you.

Friday, January 7, 2011

No Condemnation

Discipline?  Yes.
Trials?  Yes.
Tribulation?  Yes.
Testing of our faith?  Yes.
Battling with the remaining sin in our flesh?  Yes.
Sorrow?  Yes.
Persecution?  Yes, if you live godly in Christ.

Death, and eternal separation from God?  No.

For those who are in Christ Jesus, the penalty and sentencing for our sin, death, is gone, removed, because it fell upon Jesus.

Any other path taken to remove the guilty verdict is the road of condemnation.  Any other road leads to God's wrath.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

In Christ Jesus...

Peace with God?  Yes.
Joy?  Inexpressible at times.
Hope?  With a guaranteed outcome.
Inheritance?  Heirs with Christ.
Love?  God's, shed abroad in our hearts.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...

No better place in the world to be.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Piper Nugget

"He will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Rev. 21:4). 


Which means: For now all our joy is through tears.