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January 23, 2018, 10:17 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…February 2018

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

   Obviously, on planet Earth, perfection never happens. However, Scripture provides examples of many real lives and many truths that tell us that maturity and completeness come through living a whole lifetime of experiences and by faithfully going to God alone for wisdom and refining. Do we commonly think, though, that is accomplished only in major, recognizable markers? Oh! This or that [big] life experience happened to me and I matured in this or that way. Undoubtedly, those experiences do bring tremendous growth in our spiritual lives.

  However, what about our little everyday moments? I saw a picture on FaceBook of a wooden sign for sale for the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, available at a store known worldwide. It is designed as home decor. It simply says...LOVE IS LOVE.  That certainly begs for better definition!

  The world at large really does not understand the meaning of the word LOVE. But, the Bible tells us quite simply in 1 John 4:8, “God is love.” If we were to make a substitution and say, “God=love,” then we might begin to understand LOVE better. That would mean, though, that we have to know GOD in order to know what LOVE looks like, right? When we do, then we can allow HIM to shape our everyday moments into reflecting TRUE LOVE in how we think, speak and live.

  I have a confession to make. I am aware that I am often regarded as a very patient person.  Honestly, that is probably one of the areas of life with which I have always struggled the most. Yet, since I truly want to be loving, then I MUST learn to be patient inside and outside, because 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 won’t let me avoid that. I already know that patience is inherently related to everything else in that descriptive list of love characteristics, so there is no skipping it. However, I am becoming more aware that “patience” is not just exhibited outwardly, but that impatience must also not be tolerated inwardly. If we only hold our tongues, but still have impatience causing turmoil inside our minds and hearts, then are we really “being” patient??? I am finally beginning to think not.

Dear Lord, help us all to let YOU truly love others “out loud” through us and give us peaceful hearts inside at the same time!

   Marsha Cook, Director

 




December 20, 2017, 9:49 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…January 2018

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

 HAPPY NEW YEAR! What does that mean to you...to me??? Does it mean that only “happy” things will happen to us all year? Does it mean that last year was “unhappy” and we want this year to be “happier?”

  OR, maybe we should focus on the word “new.” Are all things new in life automatically just because we flip over a page on a calendar? Or are there always “leftovers” that sometimes get in the way of “do-overs?”

  OR, how about the word “year?” Does it seem like that the older we get, the shorter those 12 months just rush by every year? It sure does to me!

  So, what do we do with that cheerful and hopeful greeting, HAPPY NEW YEAR??? Ahhhhh....the key word, I think, is “hope!” Recently I was in a Bible study where we were discussing hope in the midst of difficult circumstances. You know, those kinds of times when hope is hard to come by on a regular basis? But, as believers, we, of all people, have the privilege and gift of being able to live with hope in our hearts because of the precious relationship we have with our Heavenly Father, through the blood of Jesus Christ and the indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit! How do we access and experience all of that on a daily basis...in the midst of circumstances that may or may not be “happy” ones?

  We experience it much more fully by recognizing that we don’t have to wait until we transition to heaven through physical death before we experience our ETERNAL lives! The moment we are saved, our eternal life with Christ begins. When I remember that I am already living my eternal life, it puts a whole different perspective on how I choose to spend my time here on Earth. I don’t have to die to experience it. I make better choices now. I live with hope now. I trust God for my everyday nows, not just for my unseen, unknown eternity out there sometime, somewhere. 

  HAPPY NEW YEAR! Can take on a whole new meaning when I realize I don’t have to be dragged down by circumstances but, instead, I can live in daily hope, trust and peace, no matter what. Russell has often said it best: “Happiness depends upon happenings. Joy depends on Jesus.”   

  Marsha Cook, Director

 




November 20, 2017, 2:56 PM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...December 2017

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...

  Did you ever find yourself in a conundrum (puzzle) of emotions??? Perhaps we all have in recent days, due to the violent and heartbreaking news we keep hearing on every hand. When our sister church in Texas experienced their horrifying losses I think we hardly knew how to feel. As I write this late on a November Thursday night, we are just five days out from that shocking Sunday that rocked us all to the core of our beings. Here we are...headed into the Thanksgiving and Christmas months and we hardly know how to feel, with this added to the other senseless and violent losses around the world. When those things are combined with the hatred, criticism and absolute foolishness that we hear daily, I fear it begins to scar our very souls. Instead, we must always turn to the God of the universe, through the precious salvation of His Son, Jesus Christ. Without Him, we have no comfort, we have no hope.

  As I write this, we have just returned from a concert at FBC in Moore, OK, featuring the Singing Churchmen and Singing Churchwomen of Oklahoma and the singing group SELAH, out of Nashville. We received a surprise call today with some last-minute available concert tickets, for which I will be eternally grateful. Why? Because I immediately knew that this particular week, I NEEDED the healing that music brings to my heart. Little did I know how God would move in many more hearts tonight!

  The music was a beautiful combination of Christmas music (not expected in early November) and just heart-healing gospel music/hymns, familiar to all. The Oklahoma musicians number 600+...SELAH is a group of 3! Added were thousands filling the auditorium—Oklahoma Baptists who love each other, music, and God. What a glorious time we had, including many times when the audience joined in the singing. God was in that place! It even ministered to SELAH. Suddenly I felt like this was one place on the planet where the “Balm of Gilead” was being gently applied by our loving Heavenly Father to just weary and heartsick souls. Besides beloved songs and carols we all knew, there was a line (perhaps even the title) in a song new to me that I typed on my phone so I wouldn’t forget it: “I’ve Got Jesus, How Could I Want More?” Sometimes it is the simple truths that we forget to remember, especially as we hurt...

Merry CHRISTmas, my dear friends! Merry CHRISTmas!

Marsha Cook, Director

 




October 26, 2017, 9:33 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey...November 2017

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  I enjoy reading history—for-real history, historical fiction and, of course, Biblical history. Sometimes I think how all alive are making history of some kind every day. Our personal contribution on a given day, or even over a lifetime, may not be spectacular, but contribute we do.

  We often see and hear so much about people seemingly desperate to delete history for whatever personal or societal reasons they may have. That is foolish, at best. If we delete history, we cannot learn from it. All history is not “good” or painless or pleasant, but we can all learn good from it. If there were parts of history that should not have happened, we cannot change that by pretending it didn’t happen. We change it by...changing. That happens only when hearts are changed. But, we do not—cannot—change it by trying to erase the record of it or by punishing those today who had nothing to do with it. Instead, we should work together to improve the situation(s) from lessons learned.

  When I read about all that early immigrants and pioneers went through to build this nation at great sacrifice, no matter their ethnic background, I stand amazed at their perseverance through multiple hardships. When I read of the Christian leaders, missionaries and martyrs through the ages who have taken the Gospel around the world at great personal cost I sometimes wonder if what I am personally doing is “enough”—I know some days my contributions are pretty small. When I see an increasing number of random people in our nation and in our world having great disregard for the people of history and the values of history, it breaks my heart. We have not been put on earth to destroy it or its people. Instead, we have been put on this earth to nurture it and its people and to tell them of God’s great love by word and by deed. 

  Broad historical education with a sharp focus on right and wrong is necessary. Knowledge of God’s Word is mandatory. An awareness of the sacrifices and vision of those who have gone before us is motivating. Avoiding foolishness and embracing wisdom are crucial. A commitment to God’s purpose for us each, which includes personal holiness, is key. What does that say to you and to me on this very day of our own personal history???

  Marsha Cook, Director

 




September 20, 2017, 10:40 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…October 2017

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…

  God has a way of reminding us that He often uses the quiet obedience of His people to do amazing things. As we attended the recent 100th Anniversary celebration at Falls Creek on a Sunday night—with 6000-7000 others—we were all reminded of how that wonderful place began with just two praying men. When J.B. Rounds and W.D. Moorer knelt to pray in the Arbuckle Mountains they could have never pictured what Falls Creek would look like 100 years later and how many thousands—more likely millions—of lives would be changed around the world in one way or another because of the ripple effect of what happens at that place! There are actually more international missionaries and other ministry servants that are serving around the world who were called out while at Falls Creek than any other one place!

  Many Baptists are familiar with “World Crafts,” a worldwide craft ministry featuring handmade items by women whose lives have been changed because of this income-producing opportunity and, hopefully, because their lives are also being touched by the Gospel. Yet, that did not start out as a worldwide ministry. It began with one sweet missionary wife, Betty Butcher (yes, a beloved Oklahoman), who was serving in Thailand with her missionary doctor husband, Dr. Orby Butcher. While there, she quietly and faithfully began working with just 10 women, teaching them crafts and helping them get started. In those days, Betty never, ever realized God was helping her start a worldwide ministry!

  In God’s Word, we see page after page of faithful servants who just obeyed God with what He put in front of them to do. None of them ever knew we would exist now and still be reading about and learning from their life stories thousands of years later. Yet, we read of the “greats”—Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther, Mary & Joseph, Peter, Stephen, Paul, etc, etc, etc. They weren’t trying to be “great.” They were just listening, trusting, obeying, and walking the walk of being faithful.

  Each of us know persons today who do the same, not trying to impress anyone—just faithfully serving. God sees. God knows. God has a plan to bless and multiply their obedience. Thank the Lord He turns the “ordinary” into “extraordinary” in a way that only He can! 

Marsha Cook, Director

 


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