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June 22, 2017, 9:25 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…July 2017


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  Our 12th floor hotel room in downtown Phoenix while at the Southern Baptist Convention had a full window wall. Upon arrival, we were first disappointed to see our view. Yes, there were mountains way off in the distance, but our most immediate view below was a building next door under construction, complete with a huge crane.

   Saturday night and Sunday? All was quiet and we didn’t know at all what would happen around 7:00 a.m. on Monday. Then we began to hear machinery and the voices now and then of workers. Curious, we opened the curtains and were amazed to see a whole bevy of construction workers in their bright vests and helmets, already at work below us like busy bees in a hive!

  I began to snap photos and  immediately saw a life lesson unfolding beneath me: everyone had an assigned job, knew how to do their job, and they were methodically doing each job well. There was a worker operating the crane from a bucket far above my 12th story window. His job assignment just made me shudder. But, he worked that crane precisely, carefully lowering and raising needed supplies, all without harming anyone. The rest of them just as carefully worked on their personal tasks as they poured and smoothed out a huge concrete floor. Each morning and evening held new surprises of progress for us to view upon awaking or upon returning at night from the convention!

  Even that very first day, God showed me the view HE had in mind for me that week very plainly...THIS is how the church is supposed to work! Everyone has an “assigned” gift in the body of Christ. Each gift is necessary and none is more important than the other. Training, cooperation, and goal-setting to complete the task of the Great Commission together is how the job gets done. What we watched all week out our window was functioning just like a well-oiled machine, with each part being secure in its purpose to accomplish the overall plan. There was not room for pride, not room for resistance. Just smooth teamwork. Teamwork is just that...a team that works … together! 

  Church, we could learn a lot from those workmen, working in the discomfort of 100+ degrees of heat, staying with the task and cooperating with a plan and a purpose...together...to get it done!  

  Marsha Cook, Director

 




May 16, 2017, 2:40 PM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…June 2017


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  Most ladies have a sorta love/”hate” response to the Proverbs 31 Lady! Who thinks they can keep up with that paragon of virtue in just about every area of life? When does that lady ever sleep??? She stays busy at home and throughout her community, compassionately and competently meeting needs wherever she goes. Her talents, gifts, and influence seem endless.

  Yet, she had none of the mechanical blessings we all seem to have today. Years ago, when our young children were all tucked into bed at night, I would fall into bed exhausted, wishing for “servant girls” to help! Then I would chuckle and say quietly to Russell in the dark, “Well, I have all of my ‘servant girls’ working...the dishwasher is washing our dishes and I have a load in the washer and one in the dryer!” I would have cooked our meal on a modern stove with food from the grocery store, kept in my refrigerator or freezer. Clothing and home décor were often created on my trusty sewing machine! I had run all of my errands in a car, comfortable with either heat or air conditioning! Most of my ‘servant girls’ were mechanical, not human! Yet...had I also met the needs of my family and my community with unending compassion and creativity? Had I loved others during the day as Christ loves me? Those were—and are—the real criteria of a ‘successful day.’

  Then came the days of computers, smart cell phones, social media, and digital appliances and cars. We can communicate with anyone in the world at a second’s notice. Suddenly the learning curve for all of us kicked into high gear. We now must also skillfully learn how to use and afford all of those devices, speak (and abbreviate) the lingo, and know where to go for help when these ‘conveniences’ don’t work right and are temporarily inconvenient!

  Yet...daily I must still ask...have I met the needs of my family and community with unending compassion, creativity, and Christlike love? If not, all of the ‘smart’ devices in the world won’t help! Where do we go for help when LIFE breaks down? Straight into God’s arms and His Word!

  Then, perhaps one day, our husbands, children, grandchildren and communities will rise up and call us ‘blessed’...and they won’t need a smart phone to do it! 

Marsha Cook, Director

 




April 27, 2017, 9:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...May 2017


  Have you ever noticed that sometimes the Lord brings “life lessons” to your mind in the most unlikely places or at the most unlikely times? Due to knee issues, it has been a long time since I have done anything that even looks like gardening other than stick a few plants in a few above-ground pots. Recently, however, I found the need to attempt to “dead-head” and prune a few azalea bushes and other plants. After deciding I could sit in a folding chair and do that, moving it from plant to plant, I began to tackle that job on a beautiful day. As I began to throw the “dead-heads” by the hundreds into a mop bucket and then to snip off dead limbs to add to those throw-aways, I began to think about how that reminds me of the Lord's work in our lives.

  Knowing that pruning actually helps plants to grow more fully and to be more beautiful, it gives a gardener courage to snip-snip away, knowing that generally you are saving the plant, not destroying it. God knows the same thing about us...when He “prunes” us by pulling or cutting off the things that get in the way of us being useful to Him, He can already see what a beautiful future He has in store for us.

  I also was careful to not disturb branches that had buds or tiny leaves, showing early evidence of new life for the year! That brought to mind many verses I have seen in a study of Isaiah lately regarding the fact that God always has a remnant (people) in place whenever He judges nations. I also thought of Noah's family, a very small remnant, but a remnant nonetheless, when God judged the entire earth with a flood. When He prunes our individual lives or our nations, we must always remember to look for the remnant of righteousness...He does! He always sees a faithful remnant to preserve.

  As I bent, stretched and stood up/sat down to move my chair, I realized I was beginning to ache, using muscles not normally used. Pains here and there began to make themselves known. This prompted me to remember what all parents say when they are disciplining their children: “This hurts me worse than it does you!” Children never believe it, but all loving parents know it is true. Reading about the judgments of God toward His people, it is apparently true of Him, too, as our Heavenly Father. His times of judgment are always partnered with eventual grace, mercy, compassion. He hurts for His children and doesn't want to judge us, but for us to bloom beautifully in life, He must!  

Marsha Cook, Director

 




March 23, 2017, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...April 2017


  My social media friends are watching me write on a random non-schedule about the individual qualities listed in the description of true LOVE, as found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. You know—“Love is patient…kind…does not envy…is not boastful…not conceited…does not act improperly…is not selfish…not provoked…does not keep a record of wrongs…finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears…believes…hopes…endures all things. Love never ends.” (HCSB) You know—that one! The one that doesn’t look like Hollywood portrayals of love at all. The one that is not bottom-line lust. The one that looks like God. You know—the intentional, selfless, “I love you in spite of you”  (agape’) love!

  I just started reading a book titled I WOULD DIE FOR YOU, written in 2008 by Brent & Deanna Higgins, the parents of BJ Higgins, an extraordinary young man who died at 15 after a six-week battle with an infection contracted on the mission field. The very first words I read were from a letter he wrote to a friend in 2004: “Love is not just an emotion, as the world sees it. It is action. While admittedly it does have emotion involved with it, it is not as unstable or changeable as emotions are. Affections come and go, grow and fade, but love does not. It is constant because it is more than an emotion; it is more of a constant state of selflessness that produces action.” (page 11, Grand Rapids: REVELL). WOW! From the heart and pen of a young teenage boy? How come it is so hard for older folks to get that?

I read no further before remembering Hebrews 11, which lists people we would call “heroes of the faith.” But, they weren’t really heroes. They were just ordinary people, like BJ, who “got it.” They understood that FAITH is not passive. It is obediently active, no matter what the cost! I challenge you to go to Hebrews 11 and underline every verb that shows that the faith of those men and women was always exhibited through action—like this: “By faith Abel OFFERED…Enoch WAS TAKEN…Noah BUILT…Abraham OBEYED and WENT...” etc, etc.

  What does OUR love look like? What does OUR faith look like? Are we active or passive? Obedient or apathetic/lazy/selfish? Dear Lord, help us all!

Marsha Cook

 




February 23, 2017, 9:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…March 2017


A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, HCSB)

  At first glance, that could be a bit discouraging. After all, what is there to live for if it has all already been done? What is the use in trying to reinvent the proverbial wheel???

  But, I don’t think that is what that means at all. At least, not to me. How about this for one thought to consider…

  Haven’t GOOD and EVIL always existed on Earth, since the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden? Yes! The consequence of the sin of Adam and Eve was that ALL would be born with a sin nature, separated from a right relationship with the holy God Who creates us. So, just as it has always, always been throughout history, when men and women turn away from God without repentance, their ways are sinful and we all live affected by those sins. That is why we see the painful mess that our world is in today. That is why King Solomon saw it in his day, as he wrote those words in Ecclesiastes. That is why sin has created such sorrow and heartache, and even bloodshed, throughout the ages. Without repentant hearts, sin is the natural, ongoing status of mankind.

  Sooooo, why are we so surprised when we see and hear about such horrific things that people choose to do? And why does one generation after another after another have to learn for themselves how to avoid repeating history? If we look at especially the Old Testament, we see cycle after cycle of generations who ignored God or rebelled against Him. They seemed oblivious to history. Or they chose to rebel against what they did know.

  That is why it is so very important that generation after generation of believers are very careful to teach by precept and by example how to live repentant, obedient, disciplined lives. That brings it down to you and me, my friends. This is our new page in history. What marks will we leave on our collective pages so that the next generation(s) will know how not to repeat the history of disobedience??? We need to ask God…and tell others!  

  Marsha Cook, Director

 


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