The Feast for Supper

533703_204035749759642_11397564_nI remember as a child that we were very poor.

My father, a good man, was out of work again; seems like that happened often when we were young. Mother, helpless to do anything about it, was really upset about this, and dad was pretty angry too, but mostly at himself. After an exchange of a few unkind words, I heard the screen door slam shut, and my father stomp off… turning to my mother I said to her, “mommy, I am hungry. What’s for supper?”

She quickly scooped me up and carried me over to the rocking chair, and began to quietly sing to me, “Under His Wings,” while rapidly rocking me the whole time. Holding me tightly, she just rocked me there for a while, quietly singing.

As she was doing so, someone knocked on our screen door; it was a neighbor, “I just brought by some fish I caught this afternoon. Could you use any?” he asked. Some fish would be lovely my mother replied. He helped her put a bunch of fish wrapped in newspaper in the sink, and my mother thanked him.

I hadn’t seen the tears, but she was wiping her eyes. She grabbed me again, holding me and sat down in the old rocker, and started singing again, “Under His wings…” After a little while, the old man who lived across the street from us, stomped his foot on the rickety wooden porch and said, “I got my arms full tomatoes, would you mind taking a bag?” “I wouldn’t mind at all,” my mother replied. “I think some fresh tomatoes would really go very well with the fish tonight. Thank you Peter!”

No sooner, had the old neighbor had walked back, and we had put the tomatoes on the counter, admiring each one for its size, color, and that pleasing aroma, that ripe smell tomatoes give when they are fresh, when a friend from church drove up, and told mother that they had just picked an extra bushel of corn down at the farm, and was just thinking of us. “Could we use any?”

My mother, was really beside herself at this point, and looking back at the whole scene now, I can greatly admire her firm bravery. With the smile on her face, and the straightness in her back, you would have thought that there wasn’t a thing wrong in the world, but as I look back now, I know that she must have been hurting pretty fierce.

When everyone was gone, I think that she got a little weak kneed, for she sat back down in the rocker again for a spell. She didn’t rock as fast this time, and she didn’t sing, just kind of kept clearing her throat.

My father came in about then, looking around in bewilderment at all the food, he just kind of stood there, mother asked if he could clean the fish, and she would get supper together.

That night, we had a feast. It seemed like it was all my favorite foods. And even though there wasn’t a lot of small talk at the table that evening, I didn’t notice, because I was busy eating.

I will never forget that song my mother sang to me. I didn’t realize the significance of what was happening at that moment, nor of the song, but as I have reflected back on my early childhood I realize that God was with us even back then. And from moments just like that, I have come to believe that he is with me even now, and will provide for my needs as his own Divine counsel wills. Has he provided for you? Have you thanked him?

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Refrain

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.

Refrain

Your Father’s Love

child_holding_handPlease take my hand, daddy!

I remember when my oldest son was quite young.  He did not like to sleep in his bed, but would nightly cry and come into our room looking for comfort.  And so, sometimes I would stay with him there in his room, sleeping in the chair beside his bed.  And often, in the dead of night, I would be frequently wakened by a little hand stealing out from the bed by my side, and with pleading cry, I would hear the words, “Please take my hand, daddy!”

Instantly, I would grasp my little son’s hand. Usually, I did much more than that, I would pick him up and hold him, his fears would subside, as well as his crying. Soothed by the consciousness of his father’s presence, he would eventually fall into sweet sleep again.

I would commend to you this lesson of simple, loving faith.  I would tell you to trust.  To you who are anxious, to you who are sorrowing, to each of you I would pleadingly tell you… stretch out your hand; you, who are stricken and sore of heart, stretch out your hand!  You, who are in the deepest gloom, the deepest darkness, stretch out your hand!

And when fear and anxious suspense clouds your weary pathway, your very act of stretching out your hand, and asking your heavenly father to come to you, will reveal to you the presence of a loving, compassionate Father, and He will stretch out his hand. He will pick you up. He will give you his peace; a peace that passes all understanding.

The darkness may not pass away at once, the night may still enfold you in its embrace, but the terrors of the night will subside, gloom and sadness ebb away, and in the simple grasp of your Father’s hand, sweet peace will be given, and you will rest, securely knowing that, “morning comes.”

Inviting the Crowd

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“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

–Matthew 11:28 

There is an old story that came from Boston…

…about a school for the Blind. And in this school was a bright young girl named Laura. One day, when her teacher was trying to communicate with her, little Laura spelled out on her fingers the question, “What is the soul?” He answered her in the same mute language, “The soul is that which thinks, and feels, and hopes.”

As she spelled back, a look of longing passed over her expressive features, “And aches so.”

Oh, how often have I though of that—The Soul: That part of us which “aches so,” and which will continue to ache, and ache –oh so badly, if it does not have the gospel.

Little Laura’s quick apprehension of the soul’s capacity for “aching” often comes to me, and “pushes” me to work harder in reaching out to those aching souls that I meet. Sometimes it is at the store, sometimes to those at work, and obviously I try to reach out on Facebook and on my blog.

Who do I reach out to? I reach out and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind.  Why? Because they are people just like me! They are people who are handicapped. They are people with not enough time in the day, and too much on their plate. Or, they are people with all the time in the world, and just long for someone to talk to. They are the lonely people who would give anything to have someone to laugh and trade secrets with.  They are people who have missed out on life. People to whom life has given a “one-two” punch. Dreams?  Shattered! Hopes? –Been so long, they can’t even remember what a hope looked like. Mistakes? Their whole life seems like a mistake. But are they called? You bet!  And they are called by someone important, and who really loves them… Jesus.   All I do is reach out…

But what do I do when I reach out? First, I “listen” to them in an understanding and empathic, Gospel mindset, that is listening so I can best minister to them. And then, I speak the Gospel to them. For the words of the Gospel, are the words of true hope. They are the words of love and compassion that have already been given, and come directly from the loving heart of a merciful, kind (unbelievably kind), and gentle Savior.

Do you realize what we have been given?

You and I have been entrusted, as Christians with the only means of cure that is possible for the millions of souls that are inflicted with this capacity for “aching.” Yes, that is true! You and I are gifted with the call of the Gospel. That is the call to come, –come to the Gospel. Come to Christ! And who is to come? Those who are tired. Those who ache. Those who are carrying burdens much to heavy to bear. Yes, to those who are poor, crippled, lame, and blind, just like me.

But you know what else is so great about this gift that we have been entrusted with? Well, it is that this gift is meant for us also! When I get tired with life, with sin, with problems that I have no control over, I too, can come to the Master of the Gospel. I too, can come when my feet are weary and my heart aches. The best part? The best part is that when I die, when this whole show is over, I am invited to a feast, a marriage feast, and it is a marriage feast that I am a part of as the Bride of Christ. Listen to this!

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” –Revelation 22:17

Do you see that? –“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”” That is you, me, and all of us Christians, and the Holy Spirit, sending out wedding invitations! “Come”!

And the best news is, the really best news is that this feast, this glorious wedding feast, is only for us. “Come,” let’s go!

He died for all

(c) Southwark Art Collection; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

“He died for all.”

–2 Cor. 5: 15 

Many years ago…

…a Christian teacher was telling a friend in a street of Philadelphia that he was afraid he would have to discontinue the little bible school, as he had seen no fruit whatsoever of his labors.

At the moment a little ragged boy came up, and asked him if he would come and see his brother, who was very ill. The teacher said he would come next day; but the little boy said his brother was very ill indeed, so he went with him down into one of the lowest streets of the city. On entering the room he was struck with the supreme misery of it. The father and mother were both drunk, and the sufferer lay on a mere heap of rags in a corner.

Going up to him, the teacher said, “My poor boy, what can I do for you? Will I get you a doctor?”

“Oh no, Sir,” said the boy. “Shall I find you a nurse, and have you removed to a nice bed?”

“Oh no, Sir, not that; but tell me, tell me, did you say that Jesus died for everybody?”

“Yes, I did.” “And that He will receive anyone who comes to Him?”

“Yes, indeed I did, dear boy.”

“Well, Sir, I know then that He has received me;” and after shedding a few tears, the boy dropped back on the bundle of rags—dead.

“All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”

–John 6:37

–Anecdotes illustrative of New Testament texts, Author, unknown.

“Truly Brilliant.”

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Sir Astley Cooper, on visiting Paris…  

…was asked by the surgeon-in-chief of France how many times he had performed a certain wonderful feat of surgery. The Englishman replied that he had performed the operation thirteen times.

“Ah, but, monsieur, I have done him one hundred and sixty times. And how many times did you save his life?” asked the curious Frenchman, after he had looked into the blank amazement of Sir Astley’s face.

“I,” said the Englishman, “saved eleven out of the thirteen. How many did you save out of one hundred and sixty?”

“Ah, monsieur, I lose them all; but de operation was very brilliant!”

This story reminds me of a lot of the theology that is floating around in a discussion forum that I co-admin… There are lots of texts, and there are lots of inferences being made. There are many pious sounding thoughts about the law, about points of doctrine, and even about grace…..

But when it comes to how we are actually saved… when you press a little deeper, you find ignorance, and “gross ignorance covering the people.” The results? Brilliant reasonings….. “de operation was very brilliant!” But, “Ah, monsieur, I lose them all” !!!

The Gospel, is very, very simple. “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.” –John 5:24

Simple, but really, truly “brilliant.”

Are you Hidden in the Rock?

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“He only is my rock and my salvation.”

–Psalm 62:6.

Many years ago a passenger train on a mountainous railroad was rounding a sharp curve…

..when the engineer saw two children playing on the track; he pulled the reverse lever, and blew the whistle, but the children seemed not to hear it, or to see their great danger.

As the great train came almost upon them, the sister seized her little brother, and snugly tucked themselves away in the niche of an immense rock; and as the train passed by, the young child clapped his little hands until the train was out of sight, as if defying it to harm him.

So is he that makes Christ his rock, and his salvation.

The hosts of hell may come nigh unto him, the innumerable temptations and devices of Satan may press hard upon him, but he can clap his hands, and defy them to harm him, because he is hid in The Rock.

Dear troubled soul, are the marshaled hosts of Satan at your heels? Are the combined devices of hell’s train constantly in your pathway? Is the army of worldly temptations surrounding you? Get yourself to the Rock of your salvation, and you shall find refuge in the “Rock of Ages,” where you may go in and out in peace, and find rest unto your troubled soul. And be

“Safe in the arms of Jesus,
Safe on his gentle breast,
There by his love o’ershadowed,
Sweetly your soul shall rest.”

Taken from, “Polished Stones and Sharpened Arrows”

Refuse to restore him? –NOT my child!

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I am reminded of a story… 

…of when the son of a Christian man was guilty of an act of disobedience in the home. Hearing of it, the father quietly but firmly said, “Son, I am pained beyond measure at your conduct.”

“How well,” said that father, “I remember his return from school that day, his quiet knock at the study-door, his clear tremulous utterance, ‘Father, I am so ashamed of myself by reason of my conduct this morning.’

“Refuse to restore him?” said that father. “Unhesitatingly I confess that I never loved my boy more than at that moment, nor did I ever more readily implant the kiss of forgiveness than at that instant.”

“Refuse to restore him?

Disown him?

Have him leave the house, and take another name?

Say that he had no place in the family?

–NOT my child!”

What blasphemy against God is this! Shall we dare to attribute such conduct to our Holy Father in heaven, “who spared not His own Son, but freely delivered Him up for us all”?

–Henry Varley.