Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Precious in the sight of the Lord...

 I'm finding words to be elusive. An incredible man drew his last breath early Thursday morning, October 21st, his family by his side. Yesterday afternoon, my hometown gathered around his family to say goodbye. It is hard to wrap my mind around it happening so quickly; they hadn't even had time to adjust after hearing that dreaded word: cancer. I suppose on one hand that can be seen as a mercy, but right now I have to admit that I just see it as a tragedy.

My heart is broken for everyone who knew and loved Frank. And as far as I can tell, to know him was to love him. I can't speak for anyone else, but I know I am incredibly thankful for the years I've counted him as part of my church family. That phrase doesn't really do it justice--our tiny little group is a lot more of a family than it probably implies. I'm thankful for the countless Sunday mornings spent sipping coffee, eating breakfast, and studying God's Word at a table with Frank. He was always quick with a smile no matter what he was facing. His laugh was contagious. His love for his Savior and wisdom will always serve as shining examples of what it means to be a godly follower of Christ--as Pop pointed out at the service, Frank pointed to God every day by showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Reading the tributes on social media, it leaves no doubt in my mind that Frank's reputation didn't vary depending on the person talking. He was greatly loved and greatly respected, and he will be greatly missed. That was only made more evident by the fact that the church building was overflowing as people came to pay their respects and say goodbye.

Frank first served his country, but then he spent most of his life serving his community. He was a fixture in the Green Forest hardware business--first at Tanner's, then at Bonham Powell Hardware. He saved a lot of people a lot of headaches--you could walk in, tell Frank what you were trying to accomplish and how you thought you wanted to do it, and he would kindly suggest the better way to do it in a way that made you feel like that had been your plan all along. My dad has said that his own bill at the hardware store will most likely go up--because Frank won't be there to tell him when 2 pieces will work better than the 5 he had in mind to fix something. I can't count how many people have shared that they followed Frank from Tanner's on the square... to Tanner's at the east end of town... to Bonham-Powell's... simply because they knew they could always trust him to tell them what they needed to fix whatever they were working on.

I don't know why Frank is gone. I don't know why his story wasn't one of miraculous healing here on this broken earth. I do know, though, that Frank knew where he would draw his next breath after the last one he drew here. I know that God welcomed him home as a son and a faithful servant.

"What shall I return to the Lord
    for all his goodness to me?

I will lift up the cup of salvation

    and call on the name of the Lord.
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord

    in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his faithful servants.

Truly I am your servant, Lord;
    I serve you just as my mother did;
    you have freed me from my chains."
Psalm 116:12-16

And I have to admit, I have a picture in mind of Frank working alongside the Carpenter right now to prepare the new Jerusalem, making sure everything is just right.


Was Jesus the best carpenter in town?

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

before the storm

 As I was driving down the dirt road this morning on my way to work, the clouds caught my attention. It was definitely one of those times I wish I had a camera with me, but that's probably the only thing I really miss after getting rid of my cell phone two years ago. Since I couldn't get a picture, here's something similar:

Image from free stock

It was early morning, the sky up high light blue and full of puffy white clouds. Under that, though, was a layer blowing in--still not really storm clouds, they were gray and wispy, swirling and dancing. They were moving quickly but it looked like a lot faster since the clouds above them weren't moving.

What really made me stop, though, wasn't the clouds. Instead it was the flock of birds.


Not my picture--from free stock

 

I'm not sure how many there were, but they were riding the drafts with the storm clouds moving in. They rose and fell with the air, barely flapping their wings. I'm sure they knew the storm was coming--it seems animals always do. They could see all the signs. I'm sure they felt the pressure change and could probably even sense the electrical changes in the air. Instead of cowering and hiding somewhere, though, they were riding the wind. They were dancing in the updrafts as the storm blew in. They knew without a doubt that their Creator was stronger than the storm that was coming their way.

Right now, we know there's a storm coming. We can see the signs, the changes in events and circumstances that tell us that something's about to hit. We can feel the changes in pressure. It's tempting to cower and hide away, to try to figure out a way to protect ourselves from the storm.

My prayer is that we can all be like those birds. I pray that we ride the wind as the storm blows in, confident that our Creator is stronger than the storm coming our way.


"25 Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life.
Don’t worry about what you will eat or what you will drink.
Don’t worry about how you clothe your body.
Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up.

26 Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don’t plant gardens.
They do not sow or reap—and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them.
And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird.
If He looks after them, of course He will look after you.

27 Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying?

28 Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow.
They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning.

29 Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies.
30 And think about grassy fields—the grasses are here now, but they will be dead by winter.
And yet God adorns them so radiantly.
How much more will He clothe you, you of little faith, you who have no trust?

31 So do not consume yourselves with questions:
What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?

32 Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions;
they don’t realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need.

33 Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and then all these things will be given to you too.

34 So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself.
Living faithfully is a large enough task for today."

Matthew 6:25-34, VOICE

Saturday, October 2, 2021

a prayer for my kids

 Dear God,

I'll be honest--this world my kids are in? It's a hard place. There's so much darkness and it seems to be growing. It's nothing like the world I expected to be raising my kids in and nothing like the world I was used to. Hatred and division is running rampant and somehow it is all around the world all at the same time. Confusion and fear are widespread and it seems like that's all that's being pushed.

I can't help but see glimpses of Revelation in the world, and it worries me. Not because I'm worried about the ultimate outcome--You've known the end since the beginning, and You hold everything in Your hand. But somehow while I know that, I have a hard time entrusting my kids to You.

It doesn't make sense, I know. Logically I understand that they are Yours and that You love them so much more than I could ever imagine. But You know that control issue thing that I have? It kicks in pretty hard when it comes to my kids, and it's incredibly hard for me to let them go and trust that You've got them.

While I would love to see my kids live easy lives, I know that's not what's best for them. I've dealt with enough hard times to know that the refining fires are necessary, even though it breaks my heart to watch them face the flames. I know that the hard times are what make us run to You for shelter. I would love for my kids to just learn from my mistakes, but I know that one of ways they are most like me is their stubborn insistence to learn some lessons the hard way.

So God, please show them that You are with them in the flames. Let them see Your purpose for their lives. Pull them to You and hold them close. Give them a hunger and thirst for righteousness and the wisdom to know that it is only You who can satisfy. Draw them to You and soften their hearts to hear Your call so they will spend eternity with You.

Give them the strength to face this world they are in. Remind them--and me--that You determined when and where they would live (Acts 17:26), and that You have put them right here and right now for a reason. Like Mordecai did for Esther, help me to remind my kids that they were made "for such a time as this" (Esther 4:14). My job is to train them up knowing Your word, so please forgive me when I fail to do that and help me to make that a priority. When I'm not strong enough to stand as the example they need, let them see me turn to You. Forgive me when I'm the example of what not to do.

God, please raise my kids up as mighty warriors for You, to be among those who stand in the armor You provide--the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, boots of readiness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit--to fight against the darkness that has become so bold. Give them Your strength when they are weak, courage when they are scared, and rest when they are weary. Help them face the darkness of this world knowing You are the light.



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