Thursday, July 31, 2008

God's Way of Counting

I recently read this passage from Psalm 90. Come ponder it along with me:

"Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man to destruction [or, "return man to dust"], and say, 'Return, O children of men.' For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is passed, and like a watch in the night. You carry them away like a flood; they are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: in the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers. For we have been consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (vs. 1-12, NKJV)

If there were some way to track every word and every deed throughout our individual lifetime, what would that record reveal? What patterns of speech and lifestyle would we see? What theme would sum up our lives?

This psalm is a prayer of Moses. Throughout it he illustrates just how short life really is, and how important it is to examine how we live it out. Our life is compared to grass, that quickly grows, and quickly dies. Each individual day of our lives may seem inconsequential. Yet when all our days are added up, the sum of them is quite consequential. We must live out each day in light of its significance as a segment of our entire life.

One verse especially caught my attention:

"You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance." (v. 8)

Whew. That's tough! The One who knows all and sees all, sees our iniquities and our secret sins. Those are the sins we try to keep others from discovering. The ones in our little closet of well-kept secrets. But they are held up for inspection in the light of His countenance. In other words, they are seen in their true state, in contrast to the glory of His holiness. Sin looks bad on its own. But when compared to His holiness? I'm afraid the English language doesn't contain a word, or even a few words, that could aptly describe how horrible and nasty our sin appears "in the light of His countenance."

So, here we have the knowledge of our lives being short, and that every sin is revealed to God.


That's the beauty of it. Read on:

"Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands." (vs. 13-17)

Isn't that incredible? Because of God's mercy, our days can be redeemed! Even the days we have spent in affliction can be redeemed for His glory. His beauty can be upon us--mere mortals--and He can establish our work. What does that mean? It means He gives the work of our hands--our labors--value. Eternal value.

And so, as we learn to number our days, we will gain that heart of wisdom. As we give each day to God, to do His work in His way, He will redeem our days, and gain more of His wisdom. That is the wisdom that COUNTS!
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I'd love to hear any thoughts you may want to add on this as well...


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Throwing Stones

I have been reading posts on Pastor Tim Dilena's blog for a couple of months now. Tim pastors Revival Tabernacle, in Highland Park, MI. We used to be a part of his church several years ago. His latest post is well worth the read. Check it out here. (I have added a link to his blog on my sidebar as well.) Prepare to be blessed and challenged!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baby Is Growing Up!

Today is the birthday of our youngest son, "Clyde". He is 9 years old! Whew. Time sure does fly, doesn't it? I can really relate to my mom these days, as I am her "baby". Here's what Clyde looked like on his 2nd birthday. He sure has grown up in the past 7 years! Happy birthday, bud!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Unforgettable Trip...

The only building left standing on main street--a bank building that suffered damage, but is still standing.

First, I have to say "thank you" to all who were praying. I could definitely feel the effects of your prayers.

We arrived at my mom and dad's on Saturday, July 5th. After spending some time with my mom and one of my sister's families, my mom took us to Greensburg.

I can only describe the experience as surreal. As we drove toward town, all looked as usual. However, as we entered the city limits, I felt like we had driven into some foreign country. Nothing looked the same. The familiar landmarks were not "disfigured," my friends. They were GONE. Empty lots everywhere. Weeds growing in empty lots. Homes being rebuilt, but often not by the same people who used to live there. And usually, the house faced a different direction or at least sat differently on the lot. Scattered here and there, were the few homes that did survive or that still haven't been removed. The building above survived, but with damage. The court house is the only other historic building that survived. The renovations on it began this past week. I felt so lost, driving down once-familiar streets that were not even remotely familiar now. One of the hardest things to see was the weed-covered lot, and empty hole, where the church (I grew up in) once stood. Now there is NOTHING. I even asked my mom if she was sure this was the right spot?

The view from the grain elevator. Those empy lots and holes used to be homes.

How can I describe to you the amazing feeling, though, of being among people who have literally lost everything, and yet carry on and survive? How can I describe the feeling of talking to people whose whole lives now center around "before the tornado, " and "after the tornado". I heard those words repeatedly. How can I explain how it feels to hear people say over and over again, "I'm not the same since the storm. I have short-term memory problems. I used to be this way, but I haven't been like that since the tornado." How do I put into words how their lives have changed, and yet they go on, day by day, doing their best to live "normal" lives and rebuild what they've lost? No one who lived in or near Greensburg on May 4, 2007, will ever be the same.

How can I tell you in mere words how thankful the people are for the hundreds of volunteers who have shown up to help them? There are signs all over town, with "thank yous" to various groups that have given so much to help them rebuild. And that includes all the emergency personnel and National Guardsmen who showed up in the aftermath.

My time spent with my sisters (except one, who, unfortunately couldn't make the trip out to Kansas to see us) was so wonderful. My nieces and nephew are all adults now, taking their strides into the world as grown ups. Boy, does that make me feel old! My oldest niece is building a home with the Mennonite Housing Project in Greensburg. She puts in way more than her required 10 hours per week, as she helps build her own home, as well as those of the others involved in the program. She has such a cute little house, sitting on this great corner lot.

There is so much to tell, and I feel like I'm not really doing a great job of expressing it all. Maybe another post?

Thanks again for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the community of Greensburg, KS. God isn't finished there, for sure!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Prayers, Please

My family will be leaving for a trip to Kansas in a few days. I would appreciate your prayers for our safety. But also because this is the first time we will be seeing Greensburg since the tornado...


P.S. Since Greensburg is now being called a "green town," does that mean it's the new Emerald City? :o)