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January 28, 2016, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-February 2016


   We recently helped move our daughter’s family to Arizona. We travelled through many different terrains (plains, mesas, high altitude mountains—some covered with pines, some covered with cacti—and deserts). They live in a desert now, but it is actually more of a beautiful oasis. Oddly, it is very close to the same area where we once had an associational partnership for six years. So, we personally have gotten to watch some of the incredible growth and transformation of the area happen in recent years.

   There are many people, businesses, and homes in that “desert” area, but also much uniquely beautiful vegetation. We saw multiple varieties of palm trees, evergreens, sage, mesquite, cacti, beautiful flowering plants, and prolific citrus fruit trees! How is all of this possible in a desert? Because there may not be as much rain as the rest of us are used to getting, but there is apparently enough water underground to support all of that life—human, animal, and vegetation! Underground streams and springs covered by the sands of a desert are a local hidden treasure.

   How amazing is that??? What once appeared desolate and apparently devoid of life and beauty can actually sustain life because of a hidden source of hydration/nutrition! Beauty and vitality are springing forth out of the most unlikely of places.

   The same can be true in each of our lives. At times we feel like we are in desolation and dryness and lack of vitality—yes, even in our spiritual lives. Yet, as Christians, we have residing within us living water—the Lord—Who wants so much to share with us His power, His strength, His sustenance, His life, His vitality, His beauty. We must never lose hope.

   One of the most helpful books I read during the energy-draining and sad time of caring for my parents as they finished their lives in the seeming stronghold of Alzheimer’s was STREAMS IN THE DESERT by L.B. Cowman. It is a soothing, encouraging, strengthening book of 366 daily devotions. I encourage you to get a copy and let it take YOU through your own personal desert times.   

Marsha Cook

 




December 17, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-January 2016


Ahhhhhh...the infamous time for New Year's resolutions is fast upon us! How many of us kept the ones we made for this year? Better yet...how many of us even remember what they were???
   The longer I live the more I am able to look back and see that Life truly comes in "seasons." Yes, we live through individual days that collect themselves into weeks, months, and years. But, somewhere along the way, we are often called upon to accept the seasons of our lives.
   When we were children, time seemed to stretch out before us and we didn't believe it when the adults in our lives told us that Christmas would come around faster every year. When our own three children were all preschoolers, friends would say, "Enjoy them while they are young. They won't stay that way long!" It's hard to grasp that fact when Chicken Pox progressively runs through a young household for six (6) straight weeks! Then we all think the teen years won't fly by fast enough to get both parents and teens safely to the other side! As multiple graduations and weddings happen in a flurry...and then the grandchildren begin to arrive, we start thinking, "How did we ever get HERE so fast?"
   Often young mothers wonder if they are missing something by setting aside their college training in order to devote their time more fully to raising their children. This is a precious "season" of life. The college training received will benefit the whole family and community in creative, if unexpected, ways. It will not go to waste. Learn to embrace this God-given season joyfully.
   In caring for my elderly and ailing parents, I walked into a season I did not know would happen. Later, I came to understand that they, too, were walking into a new season of their own, even if they were unable to recognize it. Now, as I get ever closer to my next decade, I see new seasons coming. For instance, we just helped our daughter's family (including four of our seven grandchildren) move over 1000 miles away. We have just entered a brand new season of learning how to be a long-distance family, holidays included.
   Through it all, we must remember that we dare not miss the present, by regretting the past or always pushing toward the future. Today came from yesterday. Tomorrow

is today's future. We must not miss the "todays," living so in the regrets of yesterday or so anticipating tomorrow that we totally miss the presence of today. We should embrace seasons as they come. They are not the end-all moments in life. They are here...only for a season. If we commit to living each single day to pleasing God, He will add them all together to compose that ever-elusive future...a season at a time!

Marsha Cook

 




November 17, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-December 2015


  This year we got to attend the first ever Christmas Concert of the Singing Churchmen of Oklahoma, Singing Churchwomen of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Baptist Symphony. Oklahoma Baptists DO love music…and our “own” musicians! We were not disappointed. The music was very beautiful, with many of the songs being sung for the first time in a performance anywhere, so we were their premier audience!

   As a musician myself, one would have thought that the music was my highlight of the evening. Although I thoroughly enjoyed all of it, sometimes even to the point of tears, I was amazed at what just quietly slipped in and blessed me. The music was “accompanied” by a video presentation that was simple and elegant and just…there. During one song in particular, we were treated to the very simple and silent scene on the screen of a tiny baby, wrapped in swaddling clothes. Why did this familiar scene grab my attention with such clarity this year?

   I don’t know. It just did. I was suddenly overwhelmed with the reality of the King of Kings leaving the glory of Heaven…entering Mary’s virgin womb…being born in a winter manger…being wrapped in cloth…and crying when hungry/wet/lonely/scared, like any baby would. As I looked at that tiny baby on the screen, playing the part of baby Jesus, I realized once again with startling clarity that Jesus Himself was not playing when He arrived here. It was overwhelmingly REAL for Him, all the way to the cross and the tomb. He came on purpose with a holy and loving focused purpose in His mind and heart every moment, from birth to death and then His glorious resurrection. Join me in just letting that sink into our hearts and minds.

   As we watch current world events spiral into depths of evil we have trouble comprehending, let us remember the singular purpose of Christmas…to bring forgiveness and life and hope and glory to all who will believe. When we wish each other “Merry Christmas” let us put feet to that and share the blessed truth of the Gospel with all whom we meet: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father but by Me.”

   Marsha Cook

 




October 26, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget from my Spiritual Journey - November 2015


   NOVEMBER…a month to focus on “thankfulness,” which sends my mind all over the place. I am literally overwhelmed at how much I have for which to be thankful!

   Of course my salvation in Jesus Christ is #1. Beyond that, God’s patience and graciousness to forgive me over and over and over for sins that occur in my life and His willingness to always teach me new ways to become more like Him are continually amazing.

   I am also thankful for the family He has given me. First, my parents and sister, and then in later years, the addition of a loving husband, three children and their three mates, and seven grandchildren. I am so grateful for our strong and loving marriages. Although we stand in constant need of improvement, I am blessed that we all love Him and each other!

   For the years I have been privileged to serve the Lord in many ministry roles, I am humbled that God would have in His plan to use one of the shyest little girls on earth to share with others His love for them. I would have never guessed that God would stretch and use me beyond my wildest imaginations and that He would “loose” my shy tongue, both literally and through writing, so that I could have the joy of teaching and sharing with others His great love.

   As an American citizen, I am also amazed at how patient God is being with us as a nation. Reflecting upon both the history of our nation and the current events I see today, I am “blown away” that God has not already let His very heavy hand of judgment fall upon us. Never a perfect nation, yet based upon the Judeo-Christian laws of God’s Holy Word, we have come a long ways from that basis and literally deserve His judgment for our national sin(s). Yet, because of the remnant of His people here and because of His gracious patience, we are still here. Let us never forget that we are “…one nation, under God…” and be thankful that He has continued to allow us to be so.

Marsha Cook

 




September 30, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget from my Spiritual Journey - October 2015


   Music has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up taking piano lessons and have served as a church musician for almost 60 years. I remember back when churches began to be introduced to "choruses" instead of "just hymns." I have always been involved in accompanying or singing both styles for most of that time. However, when Life becomes, shall we say, challenging, it is the words to those familiar hymns that come to me readily in my time(s) of need.

   Our daughter is currently experiencing great health needs. Many additional circumstances of her life make it seem like there are insurmountable obstacles all around. Yet, both despite and because of multiple circumstances that are seemingly impossible to navigate, our family is walking through this time with unbelievable peace, although we cannot see the future at all in any of this! Step by step, God is at work, unfolding His plan and giving each one of us wisdom in how to be available to help her. He is making provisions we could not have foreseen and is bringing people into our lives who are not only good resources but who are also great encouragers.   

   What does that have to do with music? Because much of what we believe from the Bible as a Christian family has been so beautifully expressed in hymns that are also implanted in our hearts. As we have been maneuvering through the logistics and emotions of it all, the words to these hymns are ringing true...

"Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine...Oh what a foretaste of glory divine..."

"Trust and Obey...For there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey..."

"Great Is Thy Faithfulness...Oh God my Father...Morning by morning, new mercies I see...All I have needed Thy hand hath provided..."

"No, Never Alone, No Never Alone...He promised never to leave me alone...."

“Because He Lives…I can face tomorrow…Because He lives all fear is gone…Because I know He holds the future…And life is worth the living just because He lives.”

 

{P.S. Yes, we would love to have your prayers!}

Marsha Cook


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