Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father to the Fatherless





Billy was a young man who grew up hard. He came from a poor family and acquired the responsibility to work at an early age. Having barely known his Father, Billy had to learn how to be a man from his uncle and his grandfather.


His mother read the Bible to him and tried to fill his father’s shoes but there’s only so much that a single mom can do. But, she tried her best. From his earliest memory Billy loved music and couldn’t wait until Sunday morning at church. The choir director called for the choir to come forward, meaning that anyone who wanted to sing could come to the stage and join the choir. Billy always jumped at the chance.


Later in life, he had a couple of short visits with his father, but if Billy didn’t contact him, he never contacted Billy. Years passed until a major event happened in Billy’s life. He and his wife had a baby daughter. Billy wanted her to know her grandfather and he her.


Billy’s heart was so full of love and appreciation to God for this beautiful baby that he contacted his father to share the news and extend an invitation to come. A short visit ensued but ended as quickly as it began. Through the coming weeks Billy was generous with pictures and news of the baby, which he shared with his extended family including his father, who lived in another state.


The time came when Billy was preparing to vacation with his family and pass nearby where his father lived. Naturally he assumed that his father would love to see his granddaughter so a phone call was made to make arrangements. When Billy asked for a time to come his father said that he was busy that weekend. When Billy proposed another time he got the same response, too busy. After several attempts to schedule a time to just drop by, Billy got the message. His father had no interest and did not want to see his granddaughter, or his family.


With a broken heart, anger began to rise up within him. A lifetime of rejection culminated in this fresh rejection of his new baby girl. In anger tempered by righteousness indignation, Billy finally stood his ground. He told his father, “All my life you have rejected me. I have suffered at your hand through no fault of my own. Now you are rejecting my daughter! I will not have her ever ask me, “Daddy, why doesn’t Granddaddy love me?”


Oh no. From this moment forward I will not give you another opportunity to reject her again. You want to be left alone? You got it!


That was the last time they ever spoke. Billy broke down as he hung up the phone. He went to the men’s room, locked the door, stood over the sink and wept. Tears of pain, regret and hopelessness flowed like a river down his face. Rejected and alone, he grieved. Not only did he grow up without his father, now his precious daughter wouldn’t have a loving grandfather. The loss was too much to bear.


With a firm grip on both sides of the sink, Billy slowly raised his head and came face to face with his image of pain in the mirror. In this moment, in the depths of his despair, his heavenly Father spoke to his heart.

“Son, He said, I am your Father. My love for you is unwavering. I have always been there for you. When you sang in the choir, I was there for you. When you are lost in indecision, I guide you. When you and your team won the city basketball championship, I was present cheering for you. And when your daughter, whom I formed, was born, I was there rejoicing with you. Son, I am with you always.”


He continued, “Your earthly father may have let you down but son, here in heaven you have many fathers, and they all love you. Take comfort and peace in this fact my son.”


The Bible describes God as, “Father to the fatherless” (Psalm 68:5 NLT).

Jesus said, “For the Father himself loves you dearly” (John 16:27 NLT).

From that day forward Billy always said a special prayer on Fathers Day to his heavenly Father to recognize Him on that special day. It always ends the same,

“Happy Father’s Day Father! I love you!

 

 

 


Friday, March 14, 2014

A Light for Patty By Guest Blogger Michael Plemmons

  In our world, millions of anxious souls greet each new day on a quest for light, a light that would push aside the despair of their broken heart.  Patty was such an anxious soul, caught in the grip of heroin addiction. She had seen both her husband and daughter die from aids which they had contracted by using dirty needles. She longed for a light that would shine far brighter than the inward shadows of despair and fear. She knew that life could be hard and uncertain. The question of her heart was whom can I turn to for answers?


Out of control, Patty finally turned to prostitution to support her habit. On a cold February night she was standing on a street corner wondering if she should end her life. She needed 20 dollars to rent a room and get off the street. In her hopelessness, she mustered a small silent prayer not expecting any help.

Meanwhile, in another part of town the lord began to deal with a Pastor’s heart. Getting his coat and car keys, he left his home not having any idea where he was going. He drove around aimlessly for a time not knowing that God was guiding him. He soon found himself on a street in a part of town to which he had never been. A woman was standing on the corner and the Lord prompted him to pull over and speak to her. Patti got in the car and the young pastor somewhat sheepishly told her he had been sent by God and to give her 20 dollars. Patti was amazed to see her prayer answered so quickly. Weeping, she accepted Jesus into her life and received His light.

Over two thousand years ago despair and fear filled the hearts of the disciples of Jesus as they left the upper room where they had been staying. Slowly and deliberately they made their way from the city to the Mount of Olives. Jesus had told them that he would soon leave them. The weight of the awesome task ahead grieved Him to the marrow of His bones.

It had been three years since he had begun his public ministry, and during that time he had been the voice of the light with his teaching and miracles. Yet all of these things were but a prelude to what was yet to come. He knew that he must die the next day and by that death purchase eternal freedom for every lost soul.


John the Baptist had told of the light to come, a light to the world. Jesus was that light. He asked his Father to remove this cup from him, but he bowed to the will of his Father in order to open the door to the light of His Father. He died so that each wounded heart, each soul filled with grief, every individual should find not merely forgiveness, but an eternal connection to the Father through belief in his Son.

Yours may be a heart wounded by the loss of a loved one, the loss of your job or your home. Your body may be wracked with the pain of disease, or your mind depressed with loneliness or fear.

Whatever you may be facing, Jesus’ mission was to bring the light of life to you. Do not despair. He will fill your heart with His glory, a new internal vision. The light of that glory will drive away the voices of self-loathing and despair, and replace them with love and acceptance, which can only come from the Father of love, the Father of light.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Frost on the Pumpkin, Dust on the Bible



I remember waking up to the radio alarm one day to the refrain “Hello country bumpkin, how’s the frost out on the pumpkin?” My wife and I laughed and laughed at such words to be awakened with. In this season of the fall harvest when pumpkins seem to spring up everywhere, I think about those days of innocence, those days when our biggest concern was the frost on the pumpkin.

 At this time of the year our nation celebrates Halloween’s many activities, which includes carving out pumpkins and sitting them on the front porch steps. It has become a family tradition for millions of people. Yet very few use the bounty of the pumpkin for food. 

 One year at this time we had so many real pumpkins on our porch, fake pumpkins in the flowerbeds, and even giant blow up plastic pumpkins in the front yard that we earned the title, “The Pumpkin house,” from the neighborhood kids. But we didn’t eat a single one! (Pumpkin, not kids).

 Now here we are again in the fall season when these orange spheres show up in front yards like dandelions on a summer day. We surround ourselves with this beautiful bounty as decoration but the food within we discard on newspaper.

 The Bible says, “Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee” (Psalm 116:7 KJV). Are we enjoying the bounty?

The poet John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born in Massachusetts in 1807, wrote:

“The Pumpkin” (1850)
Oh! Fruit loved of boyhood! The old days recalling.
When wood-grapes were purpling and brown nuts were falling!
When wild, ugly faces we carved in it’s skin,
Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!

Back in the olden days, a carved pumpkin was placed on the family hearth to keep evil spirits from coming down the chimney and into the home to do their dastardly deeds.

Today, in homes across America many have replaced this use of the carved pumpkin with the Bible. Now bear with me a moment. We set the Bible out on the coffee table, enjoy its beauty, and yet rarely pick it up. We know that it holds a bounty within, yet we don’t feast on the rich food of the word when it’s sitting right here in front of us. We dust it, and display it with pride when visitors come, yet how many times, like the pumpkin, does it end up just sitting on a newspaper?

The food within the Bible nourishes our spiritual man within, yet we are starving ourselves and allowing the spirits to enter our homes through the modern day chimney, the television. Now that’s scary.  Wouldn’t our fore-bearers be aghast if they could see us today. We might call them superstitious for trying to ward off evil spirits with a carved pumpkin, but what would they say about us for not even trying.

The wonderful bounty of the pumpkin awaits the pies, while the life giving food in the Bible awaits our eyes.  This season, when you see the pumpkin carved so ingeniously and sitting on the porch, remind yourself of the Bible written so divinely and sitting on your table. It has a candle within which will never go out, and will keep every evil spirit at bay.

Inside the Bible it says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105 KJV).

So hello County Bumpkin! How’s the frost out on the pumpkin? Hello modern rival! How’s the dust out on the Bible? Happy Feasting!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Phases


toddler eating mudHow many times have we heard a child’s bad or unusual behavior described as, “Oh, he’s just going through a phase.” I remember that when my sister Carmen was a toddler, she would eat dirt. Yes dirt!

We would find her in the back yard sitting on the ground with her hands covered in dirt and a ring of black dirt around her mouth. We ask her if she was eating dirt and she would shake her little head back and forth and say, “nooooo!”

 Although it was comical, our Mom was worried and so off to the doctor they went. He assured Mom that Carmen was fine and prescribed coffee grounds. His advice was to give her dry coffee grounds to play in because, “She is just going through a phase.” He was right. The dry coffee grounds broke her of eating dirt. Phase over.

 My brother Chris went through a childhood phase when he was determined to drop eggs from his second floor bedroom window to watch them splatter on the driveway below. Mom didn’t take him to the doctor. He was taken to the world of hurt. Ha.

 The truth of the matter is that we all go through phases in our life growing up as kids and teens. As we grow older, phases turn into Era’s. Mostly we look back and laugh, but some phases in our life can make us cry. Illness, bad relationships, and failures can leave us filled with regret, which is the nature of life.

But when we follow Christ, we have the assurance of hope, forgiveness and another new beginning. Phases lived in error are forgotten by the Lord when we ask for forgiveness. The Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new”
(II Corinthians 5:17 KJV).

 As the Lord forgives and forgets, so should we in order to move on with our life. Often it is our own self, and the fact that we were ever in that phase, that is the hardest to forgive and forget.

The good thing is that all phases eventually come to an end. You may have come through an extended illness, a disastrous relationship, or your boss may have told you that your season of employment in the job you love is over.

If so, remember the encouraging words of the Apostle Paul, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.  I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:12-13 NLT).

Yes there are ups and downs as we go through those pesky phases but we have the blessed assurance that this too shall pass. Except for my brother Chris, who liked to drop eggs out of the window… He became a professional chef and cracks eggs to this day.

 

 



 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother


mother's day Devotion mother daughter

Mother.  Just the name evokes a flood of thoughts and memories. Childhood memories of a loving hand to bandage a skinned knee, and a magical kiss upon that bandage that made the pain fade away. The big smile and wild applause from the third row in the audience of a second grade school play, acknowledging my dramatic interpretation of a tree, a tree that spoke not a word. The bedtime stories and prayers where I learned that the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 

Sometimes I look at her blood stained Bible, which she took with her to dialysis treatments in her latter days. There she shared her faith and testimony with the other patients, being a blessing in her time of sickness. Though she is with the Lord, her life and love remains in my heart.

Mother.  I am doubly blessed that my child has the best one, a Mother whose child is the center of her world. She’s a Mother who loves, teaches, corrects shares, prays, plays, and focuses herself completely on the health, welfare and happiness of her child. She’s a Mother who cries every year on the first day of school after we put our daughter on the school bus. So to cheer her up and get her mind off of it, I take her to breakfast at IHOP. It’s hard to cry in your pancakes.  She’s a role model our daughter will be hard pressed to duplicate, though I know she will. 

Mother.  There are many wonderful Mothers in all our lives and though we honor them every year, it seems inadequate considering what they really deserve.  

Mother. There once was a Mother so unique, so precious, that our heavenly Father chose her to be the Mother of His only begotten Son. She was so trusted that even though she was young, inexperienced, and poor, she was chosen to Mother our Lord Jesus. Difficult circumstances was her lot in life, and yet through unspeakable adversity, such as the death threat against her son by the King, she poured herself into her son, who became the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. 

It makes one wonder, what part of His determination; compassion, patience, longsuffering, and love came from her influence on Him. We assume that He received all of His attributes from His heavenly Father because He is the Son of God. But He is also the Son of man, so we must not forget to honor His Mother for being used of God the Father to instill many of those attributes.

Mother.  She’s the one who pushed Jesus into His public ministry by making Him do His first public miracle. John 2:1-11 describes how He wasn’t prepared to turn the water into wine because He said that His time had not yet come. 

“This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11 NLT). 

Like us, He experienced that wonderful force of nature, a Mama who knows best!

He acknowledged her and provided for her even during His torture on the cross. 

“When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her, “Dear woman, here is your son.”  And he said to this disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from then on this disciple took her into his home” (John 19:26-27 NLT).  

Their love and devotion for each other didn’t end there.  As she prayed with the others in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, He filled her with the Holy Spirit, and their relationship continues to this day. She is an example to Mothers, as He is an example to Sons and daughters.

Mother.  Love her. Cherish her. Honor her. She deserves it!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Light For Patty by Michael Plemmons Guest Blogger

In our world, millions of anxious souls greet each new day on a quest for light, a light that would push aside the despair of their broken heart. Patty was such an anxious soul, caught in the grip of heroin addiction. She had seen both her husband and daughter die from aids which they had contracted by using dirty needles. She longed for a light that would shine far brighter than the inward shadows of despair and fear. She knew that life could be hard and uncertain. The question of her heart was whom can I turn to for answers?
 
Out of control, Patty finally turned to prostitution to support her habit. On a cold February night she was standing on a street corner wondering if she should end her life. She needed 20 dollars to rent a room and get off the street. In her hopelessness, she mustered a small silent prayer not expecting any help.
 
Meanwhile, in another part of town the lord began to deal with a Pastor’s heart. Getting his coat and car keys, he left his home not having any idea where he was going. He drove around aimlessly for a time not knowing that God was guiding him.
 
He soon found himself on a street in a part of town to which he had never been. A woman was standing on the corner and the Lord prompted him to pull over and speak to her. Patti got in the car and the young pastor somewhat sheepishly told her he had been sent by God and to give her 20 dollars. Patti was amazed to see her prayer answered so quickly. Weeping, she accepted Jesus into her life and received His light.
 
Over two thousand years ago despair and fear filled the hearts of the disciples of Jesus as they left the upper room where they had been staying. Slowly and deliberately they made their way from the city to the Mount of Olives. Jesus had told them that he would soon leave them. The weight of the awesome task ahead grieved Him to the marrow of His bones.
 
It had been three years since he had begun his public ministry, and during that time he had been the voice of the light with his teaching and miracles. Yet all of these things were but a prelude to what was yet to come. He knew that he must die the next day and by that death purchase eternal freedom for every lost soul.
 
John the Baptist had told of the light to come, a light to the world. Jesus was that light. He asked his Father to remove this cup from him, but he bowed to the will of his Father in order to open the door to the light of His Father. He died so that each wounded heart, each soul filled with grief, every individual should find not merely forgiveness, but an eternal connection to the Father through belief in his Son.
 
Yours may be a heart wounded by the loss of a loved one, the loss of your job or your home. Your body may be wracked with the pain of disease, or your mind depressed with loneliness or fear.
 
Whatever you may be facing, Jesus’ mission was to bring the light of life to you. Do not despair. He will fill your heart with His glory, a new internal vision. The light of that glory will drive away the voices of self-loathing and despair, and replace them with love and acceptance, which can only come from the Father of love, the Father of light.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Daily Scroll:
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.(Matthew 5:3-5)
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