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Monday, May 20, 2019

RESTORATION

There is a marked disparity between restoration and redemption.  Many times in life we are searching for restoration and do not recognize it when it is right before our eyes.  Mr. Webster defines restoration~noun
  1. 1.
    the action of returning something to a former owner, place, or condition

Redemption is defined as~noun
  1. 1.
    the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.


In most cases we are seeking a former place and condition when addressing restoration .

It has been just over three weeks since the F3 tornado hit my sweet home town.  The past three weeks have found me fighting to hold back tears for the bad--but also the good.  Ruston has once again proven to be exactly where God wants me planted.  The slogan has become RUSTON STRONG since the storm. The outpouring of support, help, and standing shoulder to shoulder with all our neighbors, whose world was turned upside down that night in the blink of an eye, has been heart warming and bolstering of my faith in mankind.  Restoration from those brief minutes of devastation began within minutes of its occurrence.


ALL PHOTOS WERE TAKEN BY PAUL BURNS https://www.travelingnorah.com

WHOSE MOTHER AND FATHER LOST THEIR HOME





Mother Nature threw her fury straight at Ruston that night.  Decades old trees which have marked the streets with their majestic beauty became missiles of destruction and sadly death.  Friends literally had their world split right down the middle.




How can we ever restore our city to its former beauty?  How can the lives so many of our friends and neighbors knew ever be restored to the place they were before that brief late night intrusion   explosion?






Life will never be the same, BUT life is still good.  We have been reminded all of this world is temporal, but our relationships--they can be eternal.  The love, goodwill, support, and compassion of our families, friends, neighbors and even strangers have made the horrendous mess into a meeting ground for the good in man.  



The mess will eventually all be cleaned up, homes will be repaired, others will disappear to never be seen again or replaced by today's architectural offerings, and the landscape is forever altered, but from the chaos there has risen great beauty.  The beauty of man's good---his desire to help those in need---his willingness to cry with those who are mourning and stand shoulder to shoulder with his fellow man in the struggle for restoration.  

In most cases restoration is never obtainable.  How do you replace trees which took decades to grow?  How do you calm the fears of those traumatized to the point of terror over any approaching storm?  How do you replace lives lost?  BUT God---lives can be rebuilt, homes can be repaired, fears will quiet with time, and man's faith in his fellow man has received a huge boost.  It may never look the same, but it can still be a glimpse of the great beauty of man's leaning toward hope .

I have been reminded of Job.  All was lost---fortune, home, family, everything was gone.  We are told at the end of the book that all was restored to Job~but there were things he lost that were never returned.  The former was gone, but that did not lessen the good of the present.  Life was forever altered, but life became good once again.  What a gift hope is!  A hope for a beautiful tomorrow, a hope that man will rise up and help those in need, a hope that there is always a rainbow at the end of the storm.  

So thankful to call Ruston home and looking forward to witnessing the restoration of this sweet town to an even better place to live.  


RUSTON STRONG INDEED!

And the God of all grace,
who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will Himself restore you and make you
strong, firm and steadfast.
I Peter 5:10

Friday, May 17, 2019

I RESEMBLE THAT


How many times have I uttered this statement!   The statement was made famous by the "Three Stooges", specifically Curly~those great philosophers from my childhood.



The remark could be~"We do not allow the riff raff in the front door."  To which Curly would reply, "I resemble that remark."  It is a self demarcating stab at humor.

My dear friend can send me into spirals of thinking in any one conversation.  Recently we were discussing the things we spend a great deal of time doing.  They reminded me of the passage in Jeremiah which addresses man's propensity to become that which he chases.  The secret is to maintain balance in your life.  We become those idols we worship in life.  It could be success, wealth, learning, beauty, or fill in the blank.  When we begin to chase things of this world, we are surely stating what is important to us.

Gary Beole stated, "What people revere, they resemble either for ruin or restoration."  We can either revere the world and conform to it or revere God and become conformed to His likeness.  Jesus plainly tells us in Matthew 6:24,
"No one can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money."  Strike through money and fill in anything else of this world.  We become what we worship and our worship is directly reflected by how we use our time and resources.

These conversations leave me soul searching and reflecting upon who I am.  Praying I do not resemble Jeremiah's admonition~

This is what the Lord says;
"What fault did your fathers find in me,
they they strayed so far from me?
They followed worthless idols
and became worthless themselves."
Jeremiah 2:5


Thursday, May 16, 2019

WARY OF STRANGERS

We all teach our children the lesson~


After all, a stranger is someone we do not know, nor do we know their intentions.  I have learned to be careful about talking with children I do not know.  I love children and my first reaction when I see one is to speak to them.  This encourages them to trust strangers.  No longer do I enter into a conversation with them unless they have an adult with them.  Certainly, I appear harmless, but in most cases, so do the adults who might harm them.

I, myself, am careful around strangers.  I squelch my natural instinct to speak with everyone in my path, especially when alone.  In today's world, unfortunately, we must be aware of our surroundings and the potential for threat or harm.  The news and social media are filled with stories of strangers robbing or doing other harm to the unsuspecting.  The rule has become check out your surroundings before proceeding.  Sadly, the innocent world of my childhood has disappeared and we need to be wary of strangers.

There have been strangers whom have become good friends over time.  One of my neighbors in Fort Worth, when walking by my house, saw me out working in my yard and shouted a greeting.  She has become a great friend whom I dearly miss.


The fact of the matter is almost everyone beyond family, starts out as a stranger.  Why I even have family members who are strange strangers.  Who do we actually know when we come into this world~except for the voices we heard from the womb?

This week I have been mulling over Peter's letters contained in The Word.  Peter calls us "strangers in the world" as he writes to God's elect.  He references the Believers twice as strangers and also aliens.  We often think of aliens as someone who was not born in this country.  One who is not a naturalized citizen of the country in which they are living.  WHY would Peter think we are strangers in the midst of those we know so well and how can we be aliens to the place we have always called home?

Remember in Ephesians we were told once we accepted Jesus as our Savior and declared our faith in God, we then were sitting in the Heavenlies with Jesus and God?  Our eternal life began at that point and we became naturalized citizens of The Heavenlies.  We were granted permission into the presence of God Almighty and His home became our home.  

At that point in time, we became citizens of The Heavenlies and therefore became strangers or aliens in this world.  We are no longer "Of the World," but instead are "At Home in the Heavenlies."  We are sojourners through this world, and strangers to this world.  

This does not mean, we are not to interact with those of this world, but instead the Great Commission states the opposite.  We are to be wary of strangers, but not withdrawn   We are to be the influencers and not allow the world to influence us. Peter encourages us as aliens of this world to live our lives in a manner which points to Jesus.  Aliens usually have different customs and habits from the citizens of a country.  I pray our customs and actions always point to our being different.  A different others want to emulate.  We are different because Christ has made us different---a citizen of The Heavenlies with all the rights and privileges according to citizenship.  May our lives be a beacon of the wonder of belonging to Him as we, as strangers, travel through this world.

For our citizenship is in heaven,
 from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior,
 the Lord Jesus Christ;
Philippians 3:20

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

ALWAYS THE SAME

We all desire to have a living legacy when we leave this terrestrial ball.  This mommy looks a great deal like her mommy at approximately the same age.






The physical resemblance is undeniable and as she ages, she looks more and more like me.  I am blessed to call her daughter.















We call this grand "Little Gabe".  He not only looks like his Uncle Gabe, but has many of his personality characteristics.  The consummate entertainer, he loves to be the center of attention.  It is really difficult to not laugh at his antics, just as it was with Uncle Gabe.  Unfortunately their teachers do not always find them quite so cute.

It is human nature to want someone to carry on our legacy.  A legacy of our character and appearance somehow gives us the peace that we will always be here. 

Physical appearance is one thing, but how often have we said, "He/She acts just like _____"  Our personality traits can be inherited as well as our physical looks.  My obsessiveness and need for order was passed on to #1 Son.  My tender heart was passed on to #2 Son.  My love of relationships was passed on to #1 Daughter.  Each of my children has been marked by some aspect of my personality.  Each of them is different, but there are distinct similarities also.  The phrase "uniquely and wonderfully made" comes to mind.

We are told in The Word that we are created in God's image.  Somehow man has turned the tables and tried to make God into our image.  God's character, unlike man's, is unchangeable.  He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  God came first and then man.  We are created in His image and not the other way around.  Man is guilty of even taking God's attributes and putting our spin on them.  God being good does not mean we are guaranteed health, wealth, and prosperity.  It does mean  "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose," Romans 8:28.  Our definition of good is not the good of eternal consequence.

We limit and define God based upon our finite mind.  God is infinite and His character is immutable.  When you stop and consider, this unchanging--unable to change character of God is a great comfort.  Man may change based upon the time and circumstance, BUT GOD is the one constant we can rely upon.  He is consistent with His character.


Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above,
 coming down from the Father of lights,
 with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.
James 1:17

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

ENDLESS PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS

Mother's Day brought great reminders of the joys of raising my children.  We come into this world crying for what we want to make up happy.  In those early months, happiness is easily obtained with a full stomach, dry/clean bottom and a gentle touch.  Our wants and needs are simple.


With the addition of years, the wants and desires increase.  Our children want an endless supply of junk food, unlimited screen time, always moving bedtime, and total freedom of choice.  They think this will make them happy, but we, as adults, understand why these are bad choices.  Their happiness would be temporary at best.  The consequences of these happiness desires will surely lead to unhappiness for them and many of those in their wake.


The materialistic world has taught us we will only be happy if we have----FILL IN THE BLANK.  It is a shifting target based upon current fads and how deep our pockets are.  In fact, many do not wait for a full pocket, but use plastic to fulfill what they think will make them happy.  I will never forget the question when I expressed a desire for yet another house project, "Now will THIS make you happy?"  One project always leads to another and there is never an end to home improvement plans.  We spend far too much time comparing what we have to what others have and staring at "HG TV".  The outdoor kitchen is great proof of my point--after all HOW MANY DAYS can you actually use this multi thousand dollar improvement.  Let me assure you, this rainy year in Louisiana, there have been few days to cook outdoors.

The phrase "God wants us happy," is the way man has made God into man's image.  It is the character the world has given God and not defensible in His Word.  I beg to differ, God does not necessarily want us happy.  Happy is a temporal term.  Here today and gone tomorrow, our happiness is a moving target.  Man is seldom satisfied with what he thinks will make him happy.  God understands these fleeting desires of the worldly man and has a better plan for us.

God does want us content-

12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 
Philippians 4:12

AND he does desire for us to be joyful~

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

The peace that comes from joy is the contentment Paul spoke of in the first verse.

No, God does not want us happy--happy is temporal, but He does promise us joy--and joy is eternal.  I would trade the happiness of a day for the joy of eternity any day--there is no contest.  I thank God for the joy that comes from knowing Him and the contentment of knowing His ways are always best.