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June 23, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…July 2016


   I am in the middle of a literal journey—a trip to the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, plus vacation time. Traveling for 17 days is a time for packing lots of stuff and packing lots of things to do into the calendar. But, it can also be a time for God to pack new experiences, lessons, and insights into your life!

   God provided us a lovely and relaxing place to stay in Branson for a couple of days. DINO (the pianist) literally moved me to tears by Intermission time—not only because of his beautiful piano music but because he was performing his heart out under less than ideal circumstances [playing for an audience of only about 20 although he is accustomed to hundreds or thousands, plus his deep concern for his wife, who normally sings but was unable to be there]. My heart really went out to him, a seasoned performer, now nearly 74, obediently using the talent God gave him. I was reminded we are all to be faithful, no matter the size of our audience, because God is our true audience! The musical MOSES was outstanding. It brought such dramatic reality to the story we all know and love. I found myself being reminded of a time in my own life when God once said to me, as a little Arkansas college student, “Marsha, I AM God!”

   Due to Russell not feeling well and me having to walk a distance to meetings further than I have walked in over two years, the time spent at the Convention events has been a bit challenging.

   However, we have experienced…

…God helping us to attend, despite the physical challenges;

…being a part of a Convention determined to focus on spiritual unity and on Christ, even when division was a real possibility—a significant spiritual change from years gone by when dissension was so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife;

…being a part of watching racial healing unfold, beginning within the body of Christ;

…even feeling there is hope, not despair, for our nation, in the midst of turmoil in our land.

Thank You, Lord, for showing me YOU, all along the way!

You promised never to leave us nor forsake us…and You don’t!

 

      Marsha Cook

 




May 26, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...June 2016


   Nearly every year of our marriage, both Russell and our dads have sorta gotten the “short end of the stick” because Father’s Day seems to always be on  the dates we are gone somewhere to attend the Southern Baptist Convention! I’m not sure we ever got to be with either of our dads on Father’s Day and, more often than not, our adult children and grandchildren have not been with Russell, either, because we are nearly always gone!

   My cell phone wallpaper photo will likely never change, because it is an all-time favorite. We were attending the Convention in New Orleans just a few years ago. On Father’s Day afternoon, one of our sons, Phillip, called to wish his dad “Happy Father’s Day” while we were sitting in a big open room at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, relaxing for a few moments. I snapped the photo on my cell phone of Russell on his cell phone talking to Phillip, who had called his dad from his own cell phone! THAT was truly a modern day snapshot moment on Father’s Day for us.

   Oddly, my most special Father’s Day memory is from five years ago, between about 5:00-5:30 pm, as Russell and I spent our final moments on Earth with Mother before she slipped away to heaven to join her Heavenly Father, (hopefully her own daddy), and…my wonderful daddy, her dear, dear sweetheart! After I wiped tears from under her eyes (twice), as she gently labored to take her last breaths from an oxygen tube, I was able to say, “It’s okay, Mother…it’s okay. I’m going to wipe your tears away now. You know you are about to go where there are no more tears, no more sorrow…don’t you, Mother?” That must have been the “release” she needed. Suddenly there were no more tears to wipe from her closed eyes, even while still here on Earth. They ended just like that. And in just a few more breaths she left us with a forever poignant memory of a, yes, Happy Father’s Day!

 

“Look at how great a love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children. And we are! …”

1 John 3:1

Marsha Cook

 




April 20, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...May 2016


   As I cared for my elderly parents with Alzheimer’s 24/7, there seemed to not be enough hours in the day or energy in my body. I had friends and medical personnel here who helped, but it was still a challenge. My only sister lives 1500 miles away and flew down periodically to help. One day as we talked on the phone long distance about that day’s challenges, she said, “We need to pray about…” Without thinking, I said, “You pray. I’ll go do.” Her quiet response over the phone was, “Why do you suppose God put us both in the same family?”

   Stunned and a bit embarrassed, I knew in my heart she was doing all she could do from a distance, which happens to be what she does best. She is the consummate prayer warrior but she couldn’t be here often to do the daily tasks. I was praying “on the go,” as I tried to learn how to meet one physical and emotional need after another. She was right. God had put together the perfect family team to meet this nearly overwhelming need long before any of us knew of the need. But He knew.

   That is how the Body of Christ works, whether in marriages, families or in churches. God places a combination of uniquely gifted members of the Body together. When they function correctly, each person’s giftedness dovetails with the other. There are no Lone Rangers ™. We shouldn’t be jealous of one another, wishing for gifts we don’t have or work ourselves to death trying to cover too many bases. Instead, we should a) discover our spiritual gifts and talents, b) develop them, and c) work carefully, cheerfully and willingly with each other to fit them together in the Body of Christ so that “it” functions well!

   Our family has had several broken bones or surgeries or illnesses. These times have shown us plainly how each part of the physical body depends upon the other and how each is necessary. The parts have individual functions, but none function correctly alone. When marriages, families, or churches are not functioning well, we need to learn to ask why not…and be willing to let God show us His plan…as we work together in the same Body.   

Marsha Cook

 




March 24, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...April 2016


   How many of us truly “get it” when it comes to understanding…defining…sharing…experiencing…true LOVE?

   Hollywood is famous for throwing at us various examples of so-called love, but it is usually a cheapened version, coming nowhere near matching true love. Currently there is a highly visible political candidate who throws the word “love” around in his speeches to fill in the vacuous blanks with prolific abandon. We profess to love things as simple as hot dogs or as majestic as a snow-capped mountain. We exclaim how much we love a beautiful wedding gown or a newborn baby. The English language does not give us much help in fine-tuning the definition of love. So, where do we go to find out the meaning of true love?

   We go to the Source. We go to the One who not only gave us the capacity to love but Who IS love:  “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God IS love” (1 John 4:8). He not only defines love for us, He is the very essence of love. Think of it with an equal sign…God=love. If we do not truly know Him, we will never know how to truly love. In the Greek, God’s love is called AGAPE’…the kind of love that doesn’t say, “I love you because of you,” but which says, “I love you in spite of you!” I may not love what you do or say but I will sacrificially love you, in spite of that.

   Is LOVE just some abstract feeling or is there tangible substance to loving, to being loved? I just watched a video clip of the Christian songwriter, Rory Feek, beautifully speaking at the memorial service for his wife, Joey, who recently died after a long bout with cancer. The testimony of their journey has blessed many. If you watch this video, it will bless you, too. Go to SouthernGospelVideos.com and look up the March 13 video. Rory quotes from 1 Corinthians 13, where God gives us all very specific instruction on what LOVE looks like in real life. Just about every day of my life, I personally come under conviction of how I am doing in letting God love others that way through me. I have a long ways to go...how about you?  

Marsha Cook

 




February 22, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...March 2016


Many reminders have come my way lately of how great and infinitely loving, caring and dependable God is!

…Through a new look at long-familiar Scripture passages:

In a new Bible study, SEAMLESS, by Angie Smith (which I highly recommend) we are reminded of how God established the nation of Israel and the lineage and redemptive life of Christ. We see a God of details, dependable promise-keeping character, absolute holiness, and infinite and consistent love (which sometimes requires, yes, judgment). 

…Through, believe it or not, posts on social media:

Oddly, the absolute beauty and precision of Creation show up daily on social media posts. Astounding photos from the plant and animal kingdoms and from the vast variety of topography across the planet are mind-boggling. The mathematical beauty and explosion of creativity shown are in-your-face reminders of the matchless awesomeness of the Creator and of His infinite care in sustaining every single molecule of it! Just today, even a post about a mathematical chart made my mind immediately race to the amazing precision of God!

…Through the world around me:

I can’t look out the window or walk out the door without seeing the God of all of Creation. I am thankful for parents who taught me to do that. The beautiful Oklahoma sunsets we have…the constant changes in weather…the differences we see as we travel…all “yell” God!

…Through the current political scenarios that consume our TV airways every day:

There is much to remind us, in both the Old and New Testaments, that God allows and uses governments and rulers—even evil ones. But, the righteous are not without hope. Read Psalm 37 and find contrasts between the righteous and the wicked.

 …Through the “peace that passes all understanding,” by trusting the God of all, Who is in ME. The God of those Old Testament people is MY God. The God of the early believers in the New Testament is MY God. They were not super-saints with exclusive rights. They were sinners, saved by grace, just like ME. Believers in the Bible and ME…we are ALL redeemed by the same faithful, consistent, almighty, miraculous, loving God and He uses us all. (Hebrews 13:8) 

   Marsha Cook

 


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