Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BASEBALL, FREE TACOS and THE BREAD OF LIFE

IN HONOR OF BASEBALL SEASON EVERYWHERE....
a never-before-shared, journal entry.

It is a blustery cold October evening and I am sitting in the parking lot of a local Taco Bell with my 12-year-old son.  The 2008 World Series has come to Philadelphia and there is a palpable excitement everywhere we go.  Taco Bell has partnered with MLB and is offering a free taco for every stolen base in the world series.

On this Tuesday night the 28th day of October 2008, between the hours of 2 pm and 6 pm, there is a never ending line of kids (and their adults) gathering for one thing and one thing only.....A FREE TACO.

Matt  2008  
Sure, today makes a fun moment and a great memory that I will always have to share with my boy, who is feverishly devoted to the game in his own right.   But, I cannot help but wonder, what it would take for the crowds to swarm after the gift of salvation.  After all, IT IS FREE!  Standing in line to get a free taco doesn't really require much of me. Maybe a few extra minutes of my day, but certainly nothing of lasting value, really.

Salvation is a free gift!  But first, we need to acknowledge our need before we can accept it.  Why is it so hard for us to acknowledge our need for a saviour, but we don't think twice about blowing 30 minutes to stand in line for a free taco (that we don't really need)?   There are no eternal rewards that come from eating a taco, but there certainly are rich and eternal rewards that come from accepting the free gift of salvation.  

in little less than a month, he'll be 21!  (time flies)



Jesus replied, "I am the bread of life.  No one who comes to me will ever be hungry again. Those who believe in me will never thirst.....For it is my Father's will that all who see his Son and believe in him should have eternal life."       JOHN 6: 35,40


Enjoy baseball! 
Eat a free taco! 
But do it all, acknowledging and accepting the Bread of Life! 



Crystal

Thursday, February 23, 2017

FRUIT DOESN'T LIE

An Exerpt (in highlighted purple italics below)is taken from one of my all time favorite books! (In My Father’s Vineyard, by Wayne Jacobsen)
I have led multiple small groups through this incredible book study. It offers very powerful principles that have been applied to raising my children, building relationships, leading people and walking out every single day of my own life, abiding in Him, "In My Father's Vineyard", one season at a time. Because stuff this good never grows old....and is meant to be shared often, I decided to pull it from the shelf, dust it off and crack it open again. I hope it speaks to you today.

***************** IN EVERY GRAPE, the history of the vine is told. If it was a good year and the vineyard was properly cared for, the fruit will burst with sweetness. If the vineyard was neglected, the fruit will be small and tart. FRUIT DOESN’T LIE.
The truth of a branch’s life is found in the harvest. The branch that remains in the Vine will reap an abundance of fruit, useful to the Master in extending his kingdom. His character, developed in the branch, will demonstrate his love and grace to others. However, there is a less joyful side to the harvest. The branch that did not pursue friendship with Jesus wholeheartedly but neglected spiritual nourishment will face a sad reality at harvest: puny fruit, or perhaps no fruit at all.
If we resisted the Master when he sought to train us to the wire or we cast off our fruit in the weariness of summer’s heat, the harvest will reveal what has happened. If we stay just close enough to Jesus to survive, our fruit (if any) will be pale and tasteless.
Worse yet, if we only pretended to draw life from Christ but in fact resisted his work in us while serving ourselves, our fruit will bear our own likenss and not his. FRUIT DOESN’T LIE. It expresses the life of the vine. That’s why scripture views the harvest in both positive and negative terms; it demonstrates the quality of our lives, whether good or bad.
Fruit cannot be faked. Though we may be able to pretend a godly attribute for a brief season, in weak and tired moments our lives will reveal our true choices, priorities and attachments. Fruit makes the invisible visible. It shatters all pretense and over time marks the true depth of our friendship with Jesus. Don’t expect grace to cover up your neglect by producing spiritual fruit. Grace restores us to God’s presence. Grace forgives our sins and offers us a fresh start. But grace will never produce fruit when we have not paid the price to remain in the Vine. It will not make up for the times when we have given in to the enemy’s deception. FRUIT DOESN’T LIE.
When it finally appears, it reveals what has been going on in the vineyard through all the seasons. And God’s harvest is often full of surprises. The people we thought were pursuing God may not turn out to be his followers at all. The activities and pursuits in our own lives may turn out to be fruitless--or they may produce the joyful confirmation that we remained in the Vine. *****************
I know the physical harvest may be far removed from our thoughts. Afterall, it is February. But don’t be fooled. The depth of our friendship with Jesus, will be measured by the fruit we bear, no matter what the season.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

No Good Thing Does He Withold! Savoring The Gifts.


Rushing through the crowds of holiday shoppers just a few short weeks ago,  it snuck right up on me, uninvited, yet so very welcome!    It's amazing how one piece of music can flood the soul and overwhelm the senses.  First I heard it playing loud through the mall and then a  joyful tear and a lump in my throat welled up.  Memories of preparation for that exquisite January wedding day stopped me right in my tracks and I savored the gift.....a very special one of a kind gift that required no wrapping, ribbons or even fancy bows.  



The very music (recorded above) that filled the holiday air, just so happened to be the same music that accompanied the processional of  brides maids, flower girls  and yes,  my own beautiful daughter, as she walked her wedding aisle exactly one year ago today.
(perfectly timed out and dramatized for effect--her grand, closed door entrance, happened at precisely 3:33 min) 


Psalm 84:11 says,  "The Lord bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does he withold from those who walk uprightly.  

What may appear to one as just another arrangement of music, becomes to another,  far reaching passion and emotion during an incredibly beautiful, bridal processional moment....A GOOD THING.    

What may appear to one holiday shopper as joyful music filling the air, becomes to this mother, a gift (of memories) that keeps on giving....A GOOD, GOOD THING. 

This past year as been one of watching my daughter embrace the marriage journey with joy and zeal and tenacity.  So today, just like one year ago...WE CELEBRATE (albeit just a little less exquisite).  The marriage journey is ever filled with new seasons, new hopes and dreams, new goals and purposes, new mountaintops and valley lows.   The memories will always remain our constant joy, but to all that lies ahead, the next year and the next, continue growing in grace, in love and in beauty. 
I'd say there isn't a finer piece of music that represents more completely the both of you, who you are, and what you share. 
THAT MOMENT, THE MEMORIES, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, 
YOUR LIFE TOGETHER....A VERY GOOD THING! 
                                                                                                                                                   
  
         Christmas Eve 2016                   Wedding Day January 15, 2016

HAPPY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY, TYLER AND SARAH
We Love You!