“HE COULD COME AT ANY TIME NOW”

April 20, 2015

It was by far the most beautiful Saturday morning in NE Ohio since last summer, which seemed light-years away due to our exceptionally harsh winter. We were enjoying a cloudless sky and temperatures in the los 70s when our son Adriel dropped the kids off to spend a few hours with us. Eight-year-old Jehiel and Milos, 6, were busy with Lolo George: fishing, painting dart boards and helping straighten up the garage. They were having so much fun that they almost forgot about playing games on the tablet, their favorite inside activity. Two-year old Kayra was “helping” me make hamburger buns in the kitchen. A little clump of dough – and way too much flour – kept her occupied at the counter while I got my work done. Then we headed out for a bike ride around the lake. She giggled and squealed with delight while watching the geese.

As we were finishing lunch, Jehiel presented his plan: “Now I can go fishing, help Lolo George some more, then play with the tablet…” We reminded him that time was short and Daddy would be coming to pick them up real soon. Convinced that he still had plenty of time, I again reminded him, “But you don’t know when Daddy’s coming. He could be here any time now.”

That reminded me of what I read just hours earlier. Jesus told his followers: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42). He will come in the context of normal, everyday, heavily scheduled, busy days.

Aren’t we all a bit like Jehiel? Don’t we get so involved in our plans and wrapped up in our activities that we forget the reality that Jesus might come at any time?  Jesus summed up the teaching about His return like this: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:44)

As we go about our busy days, let’s be ready and remember this: He could come at any time now!

Advertisements

SNOW REMOVAL AND SIN REMOVAL

February 20, 2014

The winter of 2013-2014 is proving itself to be one of the snowiest on record in Northeast Ohio. Salt supplies are dangerously low and cities across the region are exploring new options to keep roads safe. Reports show that as of mid-February, Ohio used 880,000 tons of salt on the roads. Schools have used all their calamity days and the state government is considering adding days. Utility bills have skyrocketed, even after lowering the thermostats! People are weary of cold and snow.  With the harsh winter, there is one business that is very busy: snow removal.

We see huge, once-white-now-filthy mountains of snow around the edges of every parking lot. Snow removal crews don’t really remove this bothersome element; they simply try to get it out of the way so life can go on. It gets ugly. Long after the ground is bare, these dirty mountains stand as monuments to the harshness of winter.

Snow removal 004

Snow isn’t really removed; it’s just pushed out of the way.

Psalm 103 is rich with descriptions of God’s character and work. In verse 12 we read: “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The Psalmist is referring to “sin removal”. Jesus came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) If you haven’t had your sins removed by Jesus, today – right now – you have the opportunity to take that step by faith and call on Him for forgiveness. He really does remove sin! Christ followers can testify that Jesus doesn’t simply shove our sins out of the way so we can get on with life. He doesn’t pile them up and let them get ugly; they don’t remain an eyesore that stands as a monument to our foolishness, reminding us – and others – how awful our sins really were. Our sins are removed!

Where would we be without “sin removal”? Praise God today for this truth: Through faith in Jesus, our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. They are GONE!


SEEING GOD MORE CLEARLY – Insight from a Nonagenarian

January 8, 2012

Mom reading at 94 yrs. of age

My husband Jorge and I returned to Northeastern Ohio to live after 27 years in Argentina and 1 year in Puerto Rico, partly to live with my parents and help them out; they were nonagenarians at the time. (Nonagenarian: somebody 90-99 years old) By that time, Mom’s mind was not clear; she was 94. She had dementia and very often confused people, dates, and places. She didn’t know who we were most of the time; even so, she enjoyed reading. Mom was an avid reader since her childhood, and to the end of her life here on earth, she would often sit at the kitchen table with a magnifying glass, reading her Bible or a favorite book. Sometimes I would read to her. On one of those occasions, she suddenly had a few moments of clarity and remarked: “I think sometimes God takes things away from us in order to have us see Him more clearly.”

Mom was right; loss isn’t always a bad thing. At the time she made that statement, she had lost her independence; she lost her ability to even dress herself; she lost many of her family members who passed on to eternity; she no longer enjoyed her mobility. Macular degeneration took its toll on her vision, and if she didn’t have her hearing aids in she couldn’t understand us even if we shouted. Her coherent mind was a thing of the past. She had a lot taken from her… but she was OK with that, because she saw God clearer!

Job agreed. After all the loss he suffered, coupled with tremendous physical pain and accusing friends, he was in the restoration process when he declared to God: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” (Job 42:5) Sometimes when God takes something away from us, it paves the way for a clearer vision of Him, His work in and around us, as well as His love for us.

Don’t think loss is always bad. When God takes something away from you, be on the lookout! It might well be that He wants you to see Him more clearly. And that is good!


The Fountain of Youth and the Fountain of Life

May 11, 2011

Years ago, it was a big thing to travel from northeastern Ohio to Florida in the winter months; it wasn’t as common as it is today. I was quite young when my parents made that trip, (they were probably younger than I am right now!)…and I recall the excitement we shared as a family when we gathered around the picture screen to see their slides they had taken in that faraway, beautiful place! One slide in particular is engraved in my memory. It was of Mom, surrounded by lush, tropical flowers and vegetation, drinking water from the “Fountain of Youth”. That is where Ponce de Leon, one of the sailors who sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World, went to find “The Fountain of Youth” with the blessing of Spain’s King Charles V. On April 2, 1513, Ponce de Leon landed at what he named St. Augustine, and found the magical water source he was searching for. Drinking of its waters was supposedly the key to staying young.

Mom drank of its waters, but they were not magical. She grew old – like everyone – and after a very full and blessed life, passed away at 95 years of age. Ponce de Leon’s “Fountain of Youth” didn’t affect her in the least. What DID give Mom a youthful spirit well into her old age is that every day, from her youth until her last days on this earth, she drank of the water of life that Jesus gives. He explained this truth to the woman at the well in the gospel of John, chapter 4: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (4:13,14)

Today would have been Mom’s birthday. She was born 99 years ago, and although Ponce de Leon’s water didn’t extend her youth, we know she is now living and rejoicing with the One who freely gives His water of life to all who thirst. Praise God, He still gives it freely! Anyone for a drink??


PICTURE-PERFECT FLOWERBEDS?

April 10, 2011

Twenty years ago I had a beautiful backyard in Argentina. The climate was warm enough to have colorful Oleanders, vibrant red trellis roses, various kinds of Jasmines, Myrtle trees, Lilies, Gardenias…you get the idea. I loved to spend afternoons digging, planting, transplanting, replanting, trimming and delighting in the beauty God allowed us to enjoy. There was one problem. One of my flower beds was too close to the basketball hoop. With two rambunctious sons and their friends, I often fretted over broken Petunias or Impatiens…too often.  Once when I was whining about another broken plant, Jorge calmly said: “Kath, now we have boys. One day they’ll be gone and then we can have flowers.” What I didn’t realize at the time is that our boys were not only perfecting their shooting skills at the hoop, but they were cultivating friendships, learning teamwork, making memories and establishing a good relationship with their Dad, who often joined their fun. I’m absolutely certain that our sons don’t remember one flower that bloomed in our backyard in Argentina, but it’s a place that will always be special to all of us, broken plants and all…

Now we live in northeastern Ohio. I observed my backyard out of my kitchen window this morning. Our boys are gone, but we still don’t have flowers. Not one. Now I see a Hot Wheels scooter, a tricycle that’s already too small, a blue elephant slide, a swing that “Lolo” (Grandpa) made, a gigantic black rubber spider, a purple stretchy lizard and 2 bright green frogs with spring-legs. You see, we have two grandsons. I don’t have the picture-perfect flowerbeds I once longed for, and it’s OK. I finally got over it, and it’s totally OK to see what I see in my backyard now. Now, after all those years, I caught on…memories of good times, lots of laughs and clean fun are more valuable than the most beautiful flower beds in the neighborhood.  As I looked at my flowerless backyard, I thanked God for my adult sons, my wise husband, and my lively grandsons. I wouldn’t trade good times with all of them for any picture-perfect flowerbed!


FLOODS OF UNGODLINESS

March 5, 2011

Because the accumulation of the heavy snowfalls in the past few weeks is finally melting, the Midwest is being ravaged by floods. Add a few days of rain to that scenario, and the conditions become perfect for disaster. Headlines in our area today read: “Cuyahoga River Flooded…” Evacuations, closed roads, sand bags and flood damage are reported in many places. It’s not a pretty picture.

While all that is happening, there are other floods that are even more destructive, and are threatening the stability of marriages, families, institutions, our country and even our entire world: the Psalmist referred to “floods of ungodliness”, and that is what we’re seeing today. Not a pretty picture. We don’t have to look far to see the violence and immorality that characterize our times. Uprisings in different parts of the world, legislation that is being passed (or not being passed); the media and entertainment industry all add to the floods of ungodliness, and cause me to agree with the Psalmist: “and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid.” (Psalm 18:4) But in his fear, the Psalmist’s solution was to cry out to the Lord, being certain that his prayers were heard. He knew that only the Lord could save him from the treacherous floods of ungodliness.

Looking around, we see our children and grandchildren. The “floods of ungodlinesss” are worsening at an alarming rate, and if we aren’t standing on our Solid Rock of Refuge, JESUS, we are in danger of being swallowed up by those floods! Let’s get more serious about our daily walk with Him; be more intense in our prayers for ourselves and our loved ones as those destructive “floods of ungodliness” rise around us. Let’s fervently cry out to Him for help in these perilous times and trust in HIM for help!

“Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul…Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (Psalm 124:4)


YEAR-END INVENTORY

December 31, 2010

Marshall's Department Store in Barberton

When I was in High School, I worked part-time at Marshall’s Department Store in Barberton, Ohio. The last week of the year we did a year-end inventory. The owner needed to know exactly where the business stood – if there was a loss or a gain, and how much. There were no computers back then. With a notepad and pencil as our only tools, we sat on dusty boxes in the dingy, dimly lit third floor of the building, counting and classifying each piece of merchandise and recording our findings. Slowly, methodically and tediously we plugged along, until we finished this necessary task.

How about doing a year-end inventory of our lives? Notebook and pencil in hand, we can look back over 2010, and see pretty much where we stand at this year’s end.

My 2010 year-end inventory reveals some beautiful, specific answers to prayers – and others that have not yet been answered. I tally up victories in some areas, and find other issues that still need more work. I see blessings I didn’t ask for or deserve. I’m thankful for old friends, new friends, and people who have blessed me. I find there were times of confusion, and distasteful events; celebrations as well as moments of disappointment. But what really stands out as I tally up my year-end inventory is God’s unfailing kindness and goodness. I can emphatically testify with the psalmist David: “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.” (Psalm 65:11)

Have you done your year-end inventory?


KING JAMES OR KING JESUS?

July 9, 2010

He let them down when he unflinchingly announced that he would be leaving. He betrayed them saying that he’s leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers to seek fame in Miami. He was the best; the very best! MVP for two consecutive years, LeBron’s followers thought he could do no wrong. ..until he announced his decision. The best suddenly became the worst.  There are thousands of discouraged, angry, disillusioned, disappointed, disgusted ex-fans of the king. He’s not their king any more. Bonfires are burning anything and everything with LeBron on it. Free beer was offered for anyone who would shred their LeBron objects.

With so much publicity, speculation, press coverage and hype in the past few weeks surrounding king James’ decision, and especially since his announcement, I thought about the REAL KING: Jesus. All through the Bible there are declarations that He alone is King. The Psalmist referred to His eternal nature: “The LORD is King forever and ever” (Psalm 10:16) He will not leave us. He will not betray us. He will always be the very best. He will never make a decision that will turn His followers against Him, and we can PRAISE HIM FOR THAT!

There is a wonderful sermon by S.M. Lockridge titled: “That’s My King”. You will be tremendously blessed to hear the recording on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX_7j32zgNw. Or if you click on this title  That’s My King, you can read the transcript. If you have a few minutes, please take time to check out the YouTube video.

“Now unto THE KING eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17


Thankful for the snow? Well, not really…

February 28, 2010

THANKFUL FOR THE SNOW? WELL, NOT REALLY…

“…In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Northeastern Ohio, end of February. After several important snow episodes already this year, we got another big one dumped on us. The weather is the talk of the day. Most people are tired of the snow and are anxiously waiting for Spring.  Most comments about the snow are in the form of complaints, and it’s really easy to fall into complaining right along with all the other snow-weary people around us!

Today as I was shoveling the driveway to make it a little wider, my thoughts went back to my Mom. Rewinding a few decades, the conversation would go something like this: “Mom, I need new shoes.” She would gently respond to my whining with “Just be thankful you have feet. Some people don’t, you know.” Eyes rolled, and I would sigh because it seemed like she just didn’t get it. Now I understand that I was the one who didn’t get it!

Tired of the snow? Wish I didn’t have to shovel any more? Would rather be in Florida with my brother Russ and not have to deal with it? Yes, yes, and yes. All of the above. But I simply had to remember Mom, and to look across the street to see our neighbor’s house to start counting my blessings. You see, because of a virus she had some five years ago, our neighbor Ann is paralyzed from her rib cage down. From her bed, she can see me. I wondered if she was thinking “I wish I could shovel snow just one more time.” Right then, in my mind, I started counting my blessings. I chose to be thankful, and here are some of the reasons:

  1. I am healthy enough to get out to shovel snow. That means not only I’m not paralyzed like our neighbor Ann, but I have arms, legs, feet, hands, eyes, everything I need to shovel!
  2. I have a shovel.
  3. I have a wonderful husband who always does more than his share. In fact, he did it all except for making it wider. I agreed to do that.
  4. I have a warm coat.
  5. I have warm gloves.
  6. I have a warm hat.
  7. I have warm shoes.
  8. We have our own home. And it is warm!
  9. We have a driveway.
  10. We have two vehicles. That’s why I was making it wider.
  11. I had a tissue in my pocket for…well, I’m so healthy that cold wind makes my nose drip!

Our driveway. Notice Ann's house across the street.

Thankful for the snow? Not really, but thankful that Mom instilled the teaching of the Apostle Paul in us, and that thankful attitude is what encouraged me today to keep shoveling!


%d bloggers like this: