Saturday, July 07, 2018

The Lord is My Salvation

I have a new favorite song that I’ve been listening to on repeat lately, The Lord is My Salvation by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I was thinking that every once in a while I come across songs that make me think maybe I should compile of list of songs that I wouldn’t mind having played one day at my funeral.  I guess that sounds like a weird thing to think about, but given that we don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I do know Who holds tomorrow, and I know that some songs very eloquently express the kind of faith I have in Him, this is one of those songs that will go on my list if I ever write one. 

As I’ve listened to this song recently, I’ve been thinking about the names of my children.  All three of our children have biblical names.  The first born’s name means, “YAHWEH is salvation,” the second means, “Who is like the LORD?” and the third means, “Ewe,” and we’ve always told her she is our little lamb. 

I truly long for my children to know, really and truly know, that God is their salvation, JESUS is Lord and He delights to save sinners, to know that there is NO ONE like God, and to know that Jesus is the Great Good Shepherd, who loves His sheep, saving to the uttermost those who trust Him alone, that they can run to Him and cast all their burdens on Him and He is mighty to save. Jesus is the only name given among men by which we must be saved. 

The Lord is my salvation. Yes, and amen!

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Honoring Our Father and Mother

This past weekend my brother and I and our families had the privilege of gathering together to celebrate my parents and their 50th wedding anniversary. What a blessing this was!  This past year has been full of some rather significant physical challenges, and I am incredibly thankful the Lord allowed us to have this weekend to honor our parents and celebrate together. It was wonderful to have all of us together, as we don’t get to do that very often with my family living so far away from everyone else. 

As we began thinking about what to do for this milestone occasion about a year or so ago, my brother told me of the project he wanted to do as a gift for them. Several years ago, my dad was teaching an adult Sunday School class at their church and working through the book of John, and he began sending his notes to my brother and me to share. My brother thought it would be a great thing to compile all those notes into a book format, and he worked for the better part of the year getting that accomplished.  What he produced was beautiful. We also wanted something to honor my mom’s art work, and we had the idea of taking some of her paintings and making a printed book of them for her. I think they were pleased with our gifts, and I’m so very thankful we got to spend the time with them that we did this weekend, celebrating God’s kindness and grace through 50 years of marriage. 

My brother did me the kindness of asking me, as the oldest child, to write the forward for what became the three volume set of “Lessons on The Gospel According to John.” I thought I’d like to share what I wrote here on my blog, as it is a small token of gratitude for the legacy God has graciously given our family:

The righteous who walks in his integrity - 
blessed are his children after Him!
Proverbs 20:7 

When my brother, Tim, first suggested this project as we were discussing our parents’ upcoming 50th wedding anniversary and what we could do to honor them, it seemed like a great idea.  As I’ve thought about it, what could be more fitting a tribute to what has been a driving and most important theme throughout their marriage than to honor their love for learning and teaching God’s Word? Yes, this project is my dad’s notes from the many months (years!) he spent teaching through the book of John with his adult Sunday School class at Faith Presbyterian Church. We have these notes because of his love for my brother and me and his wanting to share the truths he was learning and teaching with us, but the legacy of my and my brother’s lives is to have grown up with TWO gifted Bible teachers for parents. 

When my parents were a young married couple, they moved to the Space Coast of Florida as my dad began working at the Kennedy Space Center (my husband likes to tell people that his father-in-law is a real rocket scientist). Not only did that begin my dad’s professional career, but they quickly found First Baptist Church of Merritt Island, FL, where a dynamic preacher by the name of Adrian Rogers taught the Bible every week in a way my parents had never heard before. They loved it. They began growing spiritually and learning to study God’s Word and understand it better, and eventually to teach it. I remember my mom teaching children’s Sunday School and VBS for many years, and some of my earliest memories of that church were going over to the old Job building where my dad taught a couples class, and if I close my eyes, I can still smell that building and see some of those faces that I haven’t seen in years. My mom’s love for GA’s led her to teach it for a while when I was at the age to be in her group, and summer GA camp gave me some of my very first tastes of what it means to study the Bible and have my own quiet time in the Word. Later my mom went on to teach a women’s class, and even when I would come home on college breaks, I preferred going to her class than back to the youth and college class. I still remember her taking one lesson to diagram the first sentence of the book of Hebrews - ever the English teacher, as well.

Growing up in our home, my brother and I knew how important the Bible was to my parents because they talked about what they were learning all the time. I used to like to say it was part of the warp and woof of our life. It’s not so much that we had tons of ‘formal’ Bible training times, but that as they learned and grew, they talked about it - either to each other and around us, or directly to us, but always we knew how precious the truths of God’s Word were to them. So much of what I know about the Bible was caught just by growing up in a home where these things were not just something we heard on Sunday then put up on a shelf until the next week, but they were life to my parents. And believe, me, children notice these things. For my mom and dad, the Christian faith is everything. They love Jesus and they love His word, and they talk about what matters. 

When my parents discovered the doctrines of grace as they studied the Bible and prepared to teach, it brought them, eventually, great peace. Though the journey eventually led them away from the church that had been home for so many years, God graciously brought them to a new home at Faith Presbyterian, where my brother and I have watched them bloom. As my mom said, finally the pieces fit and she had been given the key for which she had been looking. God is so kind to His people! 

How thankful I am to have that legacy. The older I get, the more people I meet, the more thankful I am that God placed me in a home where my parents were real. They are not perfect people, there are no perfect families, but they are real and they love the Lord and His Word, and He has granted them both the gift to teach it well, and they have loved my brother and me through all of our ups and downs, and I’m so grateful God gave us these parents and this family. How thankful I am to have heard the gospel early and young and to have the example of two people who weren’t merely nominally interested, but invested in His Word. It is an immense blessing to a child to grow up in a home where Jesus is Lord and her parents are seeking to honor Him, where the faith is a part of who we are, not just an add on or something we do on Sundays. To this day, when I have biblical questions, I know I can go to my mom and dad and they will either be able to answer them or know how to search it out. They have modeled this since we were children, and their counsel and advice was biblical and practical.  For this I am grateful.

With these volumes we get to share the notes my dad shared with my brother and me as he was teaching the rich book of John. John is the book we often counsel new believers to read first, as it is so rich and such a glorious portrait of the Deity and majesty of Christ. My dad was excited to share his notes with us since we were far away raising our own families and couldn’t sit in on his classes except for the rare times we got to visit, and now, my brother has labored in love to set them into a bound series of volumes that we can present as a gift to honor my parents as they celebrate 50 years of marriage. We also felt that a fitting tribute would be to print some of my mother’s paintings on the bindings of these volumes, and for that we chose three that seemed fitting for John, “The Word” with the Greek LOGOS, “The Last Trumpet,” and “Faith Station Church” from her series of church paintings. 

Mom and Dad, from both Tim and me, thank you for loving us and always being ‘on our side,’ and for modeling faithfulness in marriage, and most importantly, thank you for pointing us to Jesus. That is the greatest gift any parent can give their children, and you have done it well, continuing on to your grandchildren, who share in this wonderful legacy.

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad, with much love. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for the blessing of a Christian home. I am more grateful than I can ever adequately express.