Jesus is Coming...

As I was out and about today, I ran across something that stopped me in my tracks and made me laugh out loud. That would be nothing new, except I was quite struck with the thought that what I saw sums up many-a-Christian's life:

I laughed, and in so doing made the usual spectacle of myself. ::perky sniff:: Ask me if I care. Then, I sighed, as instantly, my eyes fell on one more phrase, and the truth I saw in it nearly took my breath away, and overwhelmed me with gratitude to Jesus Christ:

(Hebrews 10)..."we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all....this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down at the right hand of God; From henceforth waiting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."

Ah, yes. He did it right the first time.

Dare Devil Me!

I'll try anything once. Then I'll do it again, if I like it. Here's proof, from my day at my sister's lake house, this past Saturday ~

Me, just before take-off, happily trusting evil brother in law to drive gently...

Me, upon my dramatic return to dock. Please take note of the evil smile on his face, as compared to the terror on my own. But the fun was worth the brief anxiety that I could die.

Poetry by Ruth Bell Graham

One of my heroines in the faith is Ruth Bell Graham, "Billy's wife". She represents to me so much of what I aspire to be - she and I, when she was alive, shared the some of the same theological leanings, and love of all things Scottish.

She, too, experienced a season when her family loved a prodigal - Franklin Graham, who as you know, has long since returned to his senses and serves his God legendarily well....almost as well as his father.

Our family went through a season when the path of one of our members seemed to be bent away from God. We each one grieved in our own way, as months and months went by. As of today, in this season, those days seem to be behind us, and our hearts greatly magnify the Lord. Every member of the family is walking with God - at differing levels of maturity, to be sure, but with steady intent. May it ever be so! Again I declare, before the outcome can be confirmed: grace will accomplish what the law could never do. My faith, also a gift from God, declares it to be so.

And so it is.

Ruth Bell Graham wrote volumes of poetry. She wrote verse after verse, as a way of processing her joys and her sorrows. I find that much of what she wrote moves me to tears...this wise woman walked the same road I am now walking. She knew the strain of ministry. She struggled with anger and depression and an almost empty nest and a prodigal son. She also knew the singing joys of hearth and home and mountain. She knew the serene satisfaction of a good, sturdy supper prepared with her own two hands, and a table lavished with pinecones for decoration, and roast chicken, and candlelight - even though only she and two of her children would be home to partake, that night.

Here are just two of her poems, from a little gem of mine entitled "Ruth Bell Graham's Collected Poems":

"It is a fearful thing to fall
into Your hands, O living God!"
Yet I must trust him to You,
praying your staff and rod
will comfort him in need
as well as break
in love the wayward leg. And yet I plead
"Deal gently with the young man
...for my sake."


Moses' wanderings weren't
all for naught:
wandering, he learned the
wilderness firsthand:
and later through this
Devastation brought
his brethren from bondage to
the Promised Land.

If ever you run across a copy of "Sitting By My Laughing Fire", be sure to snatch it up, if not for yourself, for someone else, as a gift. It, too, is full of Ruth's vivid poetry. Do you know the mother of a wayward son or daughter? Get her a little volume of Ruth's poems. She will bless you again and again for the gift.

Oh, The Eyes of "Grace"

Her name is "Hannah Grace". Hannah means "grace"....thus her name literally means, "Grace, grace!"

You have to love that.

And look at those eyes. We were all doing nothing but hanging out for awhile at my house today, for no reason other than the kids needed to burn off some energy in the yard...and we enjoy one another's company, Kelly and I and kids. We chatted about things joyful and things painful, we talked of life in community, and how we both define the concept of "love" in the body of Christ. We wondered, 'How do others define it? When they say, "Love you"...exactly what is their definition?'

The Biblical standard is indeed high. How do you manifest the faithful love of God in your relationships?

::grunt, wheeze:: Holding her like this is harder than it used to be.
Pastor Tim and Hannah Grace

Big brother David (who rode around the yard this evening, with pastor Tim, on Tim's huge orange riding mower - oh, happy day! David asked him for the keys to it, so he could "turn on the headlights, pweeeeeze!"...pastor Tim had to say no. )
Big sister Lydia (Kelly in the background)

Absolutely, achingly adorable, no??

The So-Called Problem Passages

Concerning the doctrines of grace, there isn't time tonight, as I blog, to list all the so-called "problem passages" - passages that would seem to imply that we are not saved by grace alone, after all.

I should sit up as late as necessary and share my thoughts on some of these passages, after all, I brought the subject up, didn't I? But I'm suddenly sleepy, and as I scrunched under the covers with my laptop just now, my comfy pajamas came alive with an incredible amount of static cling, and that puts me in a peckish mood. I sit here, looking shrink-wrapped in a pair of old lady pajamas. That is not the way one wishes to look when expounding on the profound. I absolutely don't have a solution to the problem, so I'll make this post short, lest my laptop and I somehow arc electrically. I'm afraid if that happens, it could stop my heart - the static in my jammies is that bad.

Suffice it to say, every passage of Scripture must pass through the cross. All of human history passes through the cross, and so do the problem passages. Jesus said it this way, to the teachers of the law:

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

Jesus, full of grace and truth, is the One about whom all Scripture testifies. To interpret any passage from any other foundation, is bad exegesis at best, dangerous at worst. Hebrews says it this way:

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son...

Friends, unless you are a stark raving antinomian, determined to hate the law of God, there never has been and never will be a single passage that contradicts the blessed works of righteousness that flow from our identity with Christ. Unless you are a grumpy exacting legalist, determined to hate the idea of your eternal security, there will never be a passage that contradicts the beautiful grace of God.

All Scripture is given by God, and God has summed all things up in Christ. There are no problems with passages, only problems with thinking. Search the them you think you have life, and they testify - Old Testament and New Testament - of Jesus Himself!

The Best Song

...this is, in my opinion, the best song Keith Green ever wrote. (Thanks, Maria, for posting this on your Facebook!)

Please scroll down and hit the "pause" button on the blog music player - the music you are hearing is not one-sixteenth as good as the music you are about to hear!


My favorite month of the year is here! It is the one, possibly the only, month of the year where there are no major holidays, no birthdays in the immediate family, no iron-clad obligations. I so savor September.

Football season starts. That, all by itself, is reason to celebrate, if you live in my house. Break out the orange sweatshirts and buy a honking big bag of chips and a gallon of the hottest salsa you can find, baby! Hope springs eternal in the heart of a Volunteer.

Autumn, my favorite season, begins in three weeks. Autumn is my life seems to burgeon inside my heart, blossoming forth into fresh creativity and passion as the leaves turn "lipstick-kissed red". (I will never say that without thinking of my dear New Jersey friend and pastor's wife, Donna-Jean. I stole the phrase from her - she is a fellow writer - and she generously let me have it. I've also borrowed a few great concepts from her amazing character sketches of women in the Scriptures...)

I fell in love with my Tim in the autumn of '85, and married the following autumn. Our Hannah got engaged last autumn. Incredible things always seem to happen to me when days get shorter and trees blaze. It so rocks to be me, in September. And October. And November.

I wondered how I'd feel, this year, as September drew near. Would I feel that old familiar sense of tranquil nostalgia? Would I feel the freshness? After all, the transitions in my life the last four months have been 9.6 on the Richter scale. How quickly can a woman recover her equilibrium?

Pret-ty fast, apparently. The ol' joy tank is full. As August passed languidly along, the living was easy, and I sensed that, not only would I be my usual Serene September Self, I am feeling better than I have in a few years. This soul of mine so boasts in God!

My September began today in a most fitting temps, an adorable and affectionate husband who has lately lost at least fifteen pounds. He caught my eye as he prepared for his work, and I had to put my arms around him, sneaking up from behind, and plant a kiss on his cheek. I love me some Tim. He has the most cheerful compassionate eyes.

I then luxuriated in the gift of several hours alone to myself, since our youngest son spent the day with the youngest son of our dear friends the Medleys - friends who are also in full time ministry.

The dinner table was full this evening, all four children plus a boyfriend gathered around the table! (The only one missing was son-in-love Justin...we won't see as much of him until he obtains his Master's degree. He's always either at work or in class. ) See what I mean? The whole family, having dinner together, is beyond rare, now that two of my four children are on their own. There is only one explanation: September Sweetness.

God made September just for me, maybe. Let's dance!