Just a thought or two

                                                                                                  by Marla Bentien

just a fairy tale?                      February 21st

I can’t speak for the boys, but most of us girls like those fairy tales and love stories that we heard or read when we were growing up. Whatever happened as the pages were turned, whether comedy, tragedy or high adventure, we knew that the best was yet to come. We were eager to get to the very last page, the very last line: “And they lived happily ever after.”

Oh, how wonderful that sounds. Not knowing any better, we really believe it for awhile…until life starts pushing us around, and the disappointments pile up. Even still, deep down we carry a hope that perhaps it really is true, for someone…somewhere…somehow.

Why would we hold on to such a fantasy when reality clearly slaps us in the face and tells us otherwise? Maybe because God has put it in our hearts. Most people have at least a vague sense that there is something beyond this life. Even unbelievers somehow expect to see their loved ones again in “the next life.”

Some people may cling to a blind hope, a deep longing, or perhaps a wishful dream, but Christians have a promise! The Bible tells of many joys that await us in Heaven, but the very last chapter of the very last book tells us that we will see His face (Rev. 22:4). For those who belong to Christ, we really will live happily ever after…with Him!

 

a love letter                             February 14th

The bespectacled man with thinning hair passed energetically back and forth behind the pulpit. This great missionary to India’s poor, Mark Buntain, grasped his Bible in his hand while he spoke with characteristic fervor, and the hundreds gathered in that California chapel listened closely so as not to miss one word. Suddenly, he dropped to his knees, clutched his time-worn Bible to his chest, and through choked emotion cried out, “Oh God, how I love Your Word! Oh, I love Your Word! Your Word is so precious! Thank You, dear Father, for the Bible! I can’t live without Your Word!...”

I was there that day, all of 18 years old. I can’t tell you the topic or points of his sermon, but that scene has stayed with me. Though I was moved by it, I didn’t quite understand at the time, and I wondered if he was in danger of worshiping the Bible, giving God’s Book a higher place than Goh Himself.

I feel sorry for younger people these days who don’t know the gift of a real, written-on-paper letter. Well, it’s not just the younger-than-me set. Most of my friends aren’t willing to make the “effort” to put pen to paper any more, ant that is such a loss for all of us. Imagine, for example, what a letter meant to a soldier during World War II, from his parents or a sweetheart back home. Or what it meant to a wife and children to read the words from the heart of their loved one. After waiting perhaps weeks, and then finally receive some news…those letters would be a treasure, something to hold in your hands and read over and over again, something exceedingly precious—because of the person who wrote it.

The Bible is God’s love-letter to us, the news that He wants us to know until we see Him face-to-face. Even when we encounter something that we don’t necessarily like in God’s Word, it is still his love-letter to us because He always tells us the truth. I hate to admit it, but it has taken me too long to catch up to Mark Buntain’s heartfelt declaration, but the more I know of God’s Word, the more precious it is to me…because of the One who wrote it.

for all to see                              february 7th

I’m no scientist, not an engineer nor a medical professional. I’ve never taken an IQ test, but it probably wouldn’t have a very high number attached to it. Am I ever glad that doesn’t matter to the Lord, or I’d be out! I don’t need top-notch credentials to look at the stars winking at me from the black expanse to know: there is a Creator.

When I was 8 years old, my father gave me a Bible story book for Christmas (which I still have) called, “It Didn’t Just Happen.” I have always loved that title, which states a truth that should be obvious. Nothing, absolutely nothing, “just happens.” I agree with singer/comedian Mark Lowry who says, without tongue in cheek, that “it takes more faith to be an atheist than a Christian.” And I will add that it requires more faith to believe in the theory of evolution than in the account of creation.

As we are told in the first chapter of Romans, creation itself speaks of God and therefore, no one has an excuse to reject Him. Rain and snow and fluffy clouds, huge mountains and gaping canyons, tiny life-giving seeds, the vastness of flora and fauna, not to mention the intricacies of the human body, and all that the naked eye can’t even see. The sun knows when to rise, the ocean knows its boundaries, trees know when to bloom, and the newborn lamb knows where to find its breakfast. How could God have made it any more obvious! His signature is everywhere.

“Thank you, Mighty God, that from a seed to the sea, all of creation shouts Your Name and provokes worship of Your greatness, and points to Your love and power. Thank You for allowing us to set our eyes upon the beauty of Your creation each and every day.”

a color-filled reminder         january 31st

For once I was glad that the light turned red before I made it through the intersection- and I even dared to hope it would stay red longer than usual. For right there before me, through my semi-clean windshield, my eyes beheld the spectacular view of a full rainbow that seemed just inches away. I don’t think the man at the crosswalk noticed it though. He was looking my way, probably curious about the huge smile on my face as I stared ahead of me.

All too soon the light changed and I tried hard to keep my eyes on the road. As I followed the traffic away from the color-filled sky, I said aloud to God, “I praise You because You always keep Your promises” – as is my habit whenever I see the Creator’s rainbow. (Gen. 9).

Life may not seem to line up with what God tells us in His Holy Word. Our experiences may tell us something different; the world around us may give contrary opinions or advice; some might undermine God’s truth with scholarly or scientific explanations that sound good but are untrue. There are those who even mock and declare that there are no promises at all.

Our Father, however, cannot lie and He always, always, always and

forever, without a doubt, you-can-take-it-to-the-bank (well, lots

better than that!)…He Always Keeps His Promises! Therefore, we

can put our trust in Him and we are strengthened by His truth

and faithfulness. “The LORD is faithful to all His promises” (Psalm 145:13a).

 

baking powder tastes awful     Jan 24th

For many people, that nagging and centuries-old question lingers in the heart and mind: WHY? Why did that terrible thing happen? Why so much suffering? As Christians, we know we can trust all things – big and small, good and bad – to a loving and sovereign God, but we still wish we could have some answers.

You may be familiar with the illustration that God is weaving a tapestry of our lives. From our human perspective, we can only see the dangling, knotted threads on the underside. They are a mess of colors with no seeming pattern or coherence. The Lord, however, sees the other side, a beautiful picture that is being formed little by little, one stitch at a time.

Author an speaker Randy Alcorn uses an illustration that gives a little different perspective: “Before my mother would make a cake, she used to lay the ingredients on the kitchen counter. One day I decided to experiment. I tasted the individual ingredients for a chocolate cake. Baking powder. Baking soda, Raw eggs. Vanilla extract. I discovered that almost everything that goes into a cake tastes terrible by itself. But a remarkable metamorphosis took place when my mother mixed the ingredients in the right amounts and baked them together. The cake tasted delicious. Yet judging by the taste of each component, I never would have believed cake could taste so good.”

Certainly each of us has things in our lives that don’t seem to “taste” quite right, or we have those questions with no answers. At the same time, we have the great assurance and abiding comfort that we can trust our good and faithful Father and Redeemer to mix the pieces of our lives together in just the right amounts, in exactly the right way and in the right time (Romans 8:28) – and He even chooses the ingredients! – in order to produce a beautiful final product from His work in our lives.