Friday, October 19, 2012


Nate and Tom headed down the driveway at 6:50 this morning.  Steve followed ten minutes later.  As I washed the dishes from "early breakfast," it occurred to me that since we had all been up very late last night, the "late breakfast" crew would probably come dragging downstairs even later than usual.  Excited, I rushed to finish washing the dishes and to switch the first load of laundry over to the dryer, anticipating perhaps as much as an entire hour of uninterrupted calm.  My Beloved's hand was on the latch, and my heart was thrilled within me! (Song of Solomon 5:4)

Some mornings - too many mornings - life is crazy busy from the get-go.  The day gets all on top of me almost before my feet hit the floor.  As I rush from breakfast to school books, dentist appointments to piano lessons, a longing tugs at my heart - a yearning for my Beloved because I missed Him at the door.

The house I grew up in sat at the end of a long gravel driveway, way out in the country.  No one drove down that driveway unless they lived at our house or they were someone coming expressly to see a member of my family.  I can still remember the sensation caused by the crunch of tires on gravel - heads turned, ears strained.  One person might peer out the front window, while another bounded to the door.  Crunching gravel meant: Visitors!  Company!  And that was always a big exciting deal, way out there in the country.

When Steve and I were dating, way back about a hundred years ago, I think my ears could hear the very first stone shift when that redheaded boy turned his Dodge Colt off the paved road onto our driveway.  Talk about a sudden thrill of excitement...My heart raced, my cheeks flushed, and you did not want to be the unfortunate person to stand between me and the front door!

I didn't feel quite so excited about Jesus way back then, but, well, I didn't know Him very well then, either.  But in spite of my initial coolness, in spite of my distraction with a bazillion other things, in spite of my clouded eyes and divided heart, Jesus persistently and gently pursued me over the years, like a devoted and faithful Lover.  And, oh, how beautiful He has become!  How exciting the thought that He wants to visit with me - today, this morning!

Maybe now you understand my excitement as I stood at the sink this morning and suddenly realized, "An hour!  Together, uninterrupted!"  It was like hearing that first crunch of gravel...the thrill of excitement, the increase in heart rate.  How precious the gift of an hour alone with my Beloved, before the demands of the day set in!

Yes, I raced to answer the door.          

Friday, October 12, 2012


Today's post comes from the series of articles based on the Heidelberg Catechism that Grace is running in our local paper.  Currently, we're working through the Ten Commandments.

I was glad when they said to me, "let us go to the house of the LORD!" - Psalm 122:1

We read the Fourth Commandment in Exodus 20, beginning in verse 8:  "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God..."

Does this Commandment apply to Christians today?

Consider all the other Commandments:  You shall have no other gods.  You shall not make for yourself a graven image.  You shall not take the LORD's name in vain.  Honor your father and mother.  You shall not murder.  You shall not commit adultery.  You shall not steal.  You shall not bear false witness.  You shall not covet.

Yes, we all break all of the Commandments.  But if we are truly God's people, we understand that our sinfulness in failing to keep God's commands is an outrageous offense to His holiness.  We run to Jesus and trust the good news of the Gospel:  that Jesus has kept the Law perfectly on our behalf.  Our failure to keep God's Law grieves us, and we desire earnestly to repent and to honor God by striving to live in obedience to His Law.  As Keven DeYoung put it, "We obey the commandments, therefore, not in order to merit God's favor...We obey the law in gratitude for the gospel."

I bring up the other nine Commandments for this reason:  Why, as modern-day Christians, are we quick to acknowledge that it dishonors God for us to lie, steal, commit adultery, covet, and murder, but then we treat the Sabbath with casual indifference?  To take God's name in vain - yeah, that's bad.  To murder - or to hate  our neighbor - yeah, that's bad, too.  No, I definitely shouldn't steal or lie.  But keeping the Sabbath - that's really no big deal, is it?

Reading through the book of Exodus, I came across a passage concerning the Sabbath that stunned me.  Moses had just given the children of Israel a ton of instruction from God.  The Ten Commandments, ceremonial laws, instructions for building the tabernacle - it was like a crash course in holy living.  Maybe it seemed to the Israelites like too much information to process, too many details, too much to remember.  As if to summarize everything He had just told them, God wrapped up His lesson in holiness this way:

And the LORD said to Moses, "You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, 'Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generation, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you.  You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you.  Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death.'" (Exodus 31:12-14)

Now if I were the one writing the Law, I'd probably say something like, "If you only get one thing right, make sure you don't start murdering one another."  Or, "If you only remember one thing that I've just told you, above all else, don't lie."

But God said, "Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths."  How serious was God about the Sabbath?  So serious that the penalty for disobedience - for profaning the Sabbath - was death.

Do you take the Sabbath that seriously, Dear Reader?

I, too, have taken the Sabbath lightly.  And because of my sin, Someone had to die.

Question 103 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks:  What is God's will for you in the Fourth Commandment?  Answer:  First, that the gospel ministry and education for it be maintained, and that, especially on the festive day of rest, I regularly attend the assembly of God's people to learn what God's Word teaches, to participate in the sacraments, to pray to God publicly, and to bring Christian offerings for the poor.  Second, that every day of my life I rest from my evil ways, let the Lord work in me through His Holy Spirit, and so begin already in this life the eternal Sabbath.

My prayer for us today is that we would have a high view of the Sabbath, and that we would begin now to joyfully anticipate the eternal Sabbath we will celebrate in Glory.  May we, like the Psalmist, think of this "festive day of rest", not as a burden, but as a good gift from a loving God!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


It has been exactly one month since I last posted.  That is sad.

Not sad because any readers have particularly missed the blog - only one person has contacted me repeatedly over the past month to say, "You need to post something.  Go write!"

Sad because I have missed the blog.  Writing is my dessert.  Writing is a treat that I do for myself - my way of thinking through things, remembering things, enjoying things.  And a month's absence from the blog means that it has been too long since I've enjoyed the taste of dessert.  That, my friends, is sad.

Where did the month go?  Well, it was spent teaching my eighth-grader, and shuttling students back and forth to campus, and working on business for the Women in the Church (WIC) at Grace, and chasing reprobate chickens, and preparing devotionals, and cleaning out closets, and washing clothes and cooking meals, and sick in bed for a season, and not writing.  I've definitely missed the "chocolate cake" of blogging, but life has not been without sweetness.

One sweetness I've enjoyed this past month - sweet like a crisp fall apple, not like scrummylicious chocolate cake - is swimming.  Finally, after years of wishing, I have college students with class schedules that make it very convenient for me to be on campus around noon a couple of days a week.  The UTM pool is open for lap swimming from 11:30-1:00.  Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I'm in the water - and loving it.

I bought a new swimsuit - red, because it was on sale and red was the only color left in my, ahem, rather "voluptuous" size.  I look like one of those giant chubs of bologna puttering back and forth across the pool.  Today, I made it 32 laps.  Four more laps, and I'll be up to a mile, the distance I used to swim 10 years ago when we lived in Millington.  That's my goal for the end of the month.

I love swimming for a variety of reasons.  One:  I am very buoyant, and it is such a lovely feeling to be very buoyant and in the water.  Two: swimming doesn't hurt - not my knees, not my feet, not my back.  On the contrary, it feels wonderful.  Three:  it is quiet.  When my head is in the water, the volume knob on the world is Off.

And when the volume is Off, that means I can pray - for 32 laps, for 45 minutes - without interruption or distraction.  And I absolutely lovelovelove that about swimming.

Hit the wall and turn...lap number 7...stroke, stroke...7...breathe, stroke..."Father, thank you so much for RB and Joyce, for their friendship, for the many ways they have blessed me and my family.  Lord, please encourage them today, and help them to grow in love for You, for Your Word, for the Gospel, for each other, for the body of Christ that meets at Grace..."

Hit the wall and turn...lap 14...stroke, stroke...14...breathe, stroke..."Father, be with the Sink family as they are traveling to Japan.  Already, Lord, please be preparing hearts in Japan to receive the Gospel, so that their ministry will be fruitful..."

If you read this blog, it is very likely that you, your family, your church, or your ministry are on my mind at least one day a week, across the pool and back, stroke after stroke.  It is a very sweet gift indeed for me to have this regular time, place, and routine that allows me to stand with you before our Father's throne.

Come to think it, that's even better than chocolate cake. :)