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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Blessings To All

May God's richest blessings come to you and yours as we give thanks together. I am blessed because of each of you.

In Grace,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mama's List

I have written before about my dear, sweet Mother's prayer life and the example it has become to me of God's ability to hear and answer prayer. How many times I have been blessed and encouraged by my Mother's persistence in keeping my needs before the Lord in prayer. When I could not pray for myself---when life was too much for me to handle--when I felt so far from God--Mother was there to pray for me. How often I would lay in my bed as a teenager and, even then, hear her call my name in prayer. How precious are those memories to me.
As Mother grew older, she felt the need to begin to write down the names of those in need and the specific request that was most urgent in their lives. It began as a list of needs for her family. She often would write down the needs of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She would pray over each need until God answered the prayer she offered to Him. Then she would make a note of the date and way in which God answered. In essence, it became a record of how God was moving, through prayer, in meeting the needs of her family. Though a prayer list is not a new concept, it became new to Mother. It became her tangible evidence of the power of prayer.
On a recent trip home to visit my parents, I asked Mother if I could take a photograph of her prayer list. Mother is not one to share things that are of a private nature to her and so it surprised me when she agreed to my request. Her prayer list is kept on a side chair in her guest room, along with her Bible and a book of devotions. When I came near the chair to take the picture, I felt as if I were entering a holy place. I knew this was the place where Mother met with the Lord on a daily basis. It seemed more than just a chair with a notepad and Bible. Tears filled my eyes as I saw my name at the top of the list. I swallowed the lump in my throat as I pictured my dear Mother on her knees, calling out to God on my behalf. I felt almost unworthy of such devotion.
As I looked at her list, I noticed there were small notes in the left margin of the page. I looked closer and saw they were abbreviations--letters of the state in which the individual lived. There was a notation for North Carolina, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and, of course, Ohio. Beside each of these notations was the name and need for which she prayed. There were requests for healing, for financial needs, for jobs, for encouragement, for direction in life and for prosperity. Each need was one she took to heart---one for which she prayed as if she were praying for herself. Speaking of which, I found not one notation of anything for herself. All the needs she had written there were for the needs of family and friends. I found entries for members of my congregation--people whom she had never met but for whom she sought God as if they were her personal friends. I tell you, I could not hold back the tears.
I have often said that my Daddy gave me my love for the Word of God but it was my Mother who taught me how to pray. Now she has taken that teaching to a new level. Now, I am learning that it is both a blessing and an honor to pray for others. It enables us to take our eyes off of ourselves and focus on the needs of others. We see more clearly how the Body of Christ is knit together. We are not bound only by our common beliefs or our particular interpretation of the Gospel. We are not held together by mere fellowship alone. We are bound together when we begin to pray for one another as fervently and intensely as we pray for ourselves. It becomes the tie that binds us together---the cord which cannot be broken.
I ask each of you who read this, to pray for me. Pray that I may learn the selflessness of praying for others. Pray that I may, deep within my heart and soul, learn to make the needs of the Body as important, or perhaps more important, than my own. Pray that I may reap the reward of seeing my prayers answered in this lifetime. Please ask God to help Marie learn the power of prayer for herself. I pray that someday my own children and grandchildren will see a prayer list---a list that holds their names and the names of countless others as a testimony of the power of prayer. A power revealed to me when I read my Mama's List.

In Grace,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Anchor Holds

My mother and father have told me all my life what a strong person I am. Daddy has told me more often than I can count that he never worries about my ability to bounce back from life. He says I'm like a huge coil that, when pressed hard, springs right back. I don't share that vision of myself. How many times I have chastised myself for being weak and faltering. There have been times in my life when I have felt so beaten down by life events that I have thought I would never rise again. Mother and Daddy are the strong ones. They have had their share of illnesses, sorrow and despair. They have each lost their parents and they have lost two of their four sons. Yet in their spirits and in their hearts they remain unmoveable, unshakeable--their faith in God ever present and ever trusting. They are the strong ones--the anchored ones.
My sister-in-law, Tracy, took this picture of the anchor on a trip to the Grand Caymen Island. When I saw it, I knew I would have to use it as the image for this post. It is so perfect in what it illustrates---strength, endurance, permanence. It is a symbol, to me, of how I feel about my Lord. He is my anchor. He holds me secure in the midst of all life's storms and assures me, time after time, that all is well. He is strong enough to keep me safe and bring me safely to rest.
Several gospel songs from my childhood come to mind when I look at this photo. "I've Anchored In Jesus" was one of my favorites. I love its words:

"I've anchored in Jesus, the storms of life I'll brave.
I've anchored in Jesus, I fear no wind or wave.
I've anchored in Jesus, for He has power to save.
I've anchored in the Rock of Ages."

My childhood mind conjured up a picture of Jesus, bigger than the earth itself, standing guard over me and allowing nothing to harm me in any way. How safe I felt, knowing Jesus was my anchor.
As I grew older I learned to love the song,"Haven of Rest".

"I've anchored my soul in the Haven of rest.
I'll sail the wide seas no more.
The billows may sweep o'er the wild, stormy deep,
But in Jesus I'm safe evermore.

Where else are we safe but anchored in Him? My mind goes to the purpose of the anchor--to hold a ship in place, to hold it secure, to prevent it from drifting from its location. Oh! when Jesus is our anchor, we are, indeed, held so securely in the storms of life. We are held by a Saviour who will never let us sink or fail. He will keep us where we need to be during even the darkest times of our lives. A more recent song by Ray Boltz, "The Anchor Holds", says it so clearly:

"The anchor holds, though the ship is battered.
The anchor holds, thought the sails are torn.
I have fallen on my knees
As I've faced the raging seas,
The anchor holds, in spite of the storm."

In spite of the storm. In spite of all that is raging around us--the anchor holds. In spite of all the heartaches and despair that might make us think we are about to sink--the anchor holds. Jesus, the anchor of life and soul, holds us secure. Nothing can touch us, harm us, defeat us, for He holds---in spite of the storm.
I recall a story of a young man who was preparing his small ship to face a raging storm coming through the coastline of where he lived. An older, more experienced seaman watched him for a moment then said to him, "Son, what are you doing?" I'm tying down my boat with this rope so it will be safe in the storm.", replied the young man. With a smile based on years of experienced at sea, the older man said to him, "You don't have to tie it down, son. Just drop the anchor."
Oh, dear friends, how many times I have failed to let Jesus anchor me. How many times I would have been secured and sheltered in time of storm if only I had anchored my every thought and fear to His dear side. May we learn today the meaning of the anchor. May we find its strength and its security in whatever storm we are facing at this time of life. Jesus, the anchor of our souls. Trust me, this anchor holds---in spite of the storm.

In Grace,