“Now What?” The Christian Connection May Devotion “Now What?” By Myra F. Smith Bible Verse: “To these men He also showed Himself alive after His suffering in Gethsemane and on the cross, by many infallible proofs…appearing to them over a period of forty days….” (Acts 1: 3) Jesus, the Messiah, endured a trial, brutal beatings, and crucifixion. Jesus, the disciples’ leader and hope for their future, was dead. Now what? Jesus reappeared to the disciples after His ascension, to assure them that He was alive, and His work would go forward. This period of Biblical history was known as Pentecost, which means, “God equipping His people with the Holy Spirit, to carry out His work in the kingdom.” And how did the Holy Spirit appear? “A sound came from Heaven like a rushing violent wind…there appeared to them tongues resembling fire….” WOW! Violent winds and fiery tongues would get your attention! And, what was the result of this dynamic visitation by the Holy Spirit? The Bible tells us that 3,000 souls were baptized that day! Not only that, but the people fully devoted themselves to the instruction of the disciples, ate meals and worshipped together. They sold their property and possessions and shared with anyone in need. Too often, we live after Easter much like we did before Easter. We live in the present world, and never share the message or our possessions. Do you feel the rushing wind of the Holy Spirit? Have you felt the fire of His love burn within you? What’s next for us? I don’t know, but I’m hoping to be blown away by God’s answer.

Advertisements

When We All Get To Heaven

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

SEPTEMBER NEWSLETTER

When We ALL Get To Heaven

By Myra F. Smith

 

Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one, because God is the One who makes them right.” (Romans 8:33)

 

Eliza Hewitt was one of the premium songwriters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This famous hymn came to her while reading these words from John 14: “In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

 

On our return trip home this week from Little Rock, Arkansas, my mind was full. On our last day there, we toured both the Arkansas History Museum and Central High School. Inside the history museum, I read about the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole tribes and their “ trail of tears”, after the Indian Removal Act forced them off their land. By March of 1839, all survivors had landed west of the Mississippi. It was estimated that over 4,000 of the Cherokee nation alone, died.

 

At Central High School, we watched videos and listened to recordings from the nine black children who attempted to enter an all white school in 1957. So many riots ensued that President Eisenhower was forced to call out the National Guard and the 101st Airborne, to manage the mayhem. I was standing in front of a picture showing black children being taunted, when I heard the voice of a black woman next to me whisper, “Oh my Lord, my dear, dear Lord.”

 

Pay attention to the CAPITALIZED words from Eliza Hewitt’s hymn:

 

“In the mansions bright and glorious, He’ll prepare for US a place.”

“While WE walk the pilgrim pathway;”

“Let US then be true and faithful, trusting, serving, every day.”

“Onward to the prize before US!

Soon His beauty WE’LL behold;

Soon the pearly gates will open; WE shall tread the streets of gold.”

 

“When we ALL get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we ALL see Jesus, WE’LL sing and shout the victory.”

 

AND THE QUESTION IS: WHO ARE ALL? THE ANSWER IS: ALL ARE ALL.

 

As I write this, I pray that ALL of God’s children will be welcomed at His Heavenly table.  And if am blessed enough to obtain a seat, and discover only people who look and act like me sitting there, my worst fear has been realized. I was not in heaven. Somewhere, along life’s journey, I took a wrong turn, and lost my soul.

 

Just As I Am

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

JUNE NEWSLETTER

“JUST AS I AM”

BY MYRA F. SMITH

 

BIBLE VERSE: “All that the Father gives to me will come to me, and the one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out.” (John 6:37)

 

The first sentence I read about this hymn writer said, “She was an embittered woman, Charlotte Elliott of Brighton, England.” According to her nephew, Rev. Handley C.G. Moule: “But ill health still beset her…it often caused her the peculiar pain of a seeming uselessness in her life while the circle around her was full of unresting, service-ableness for God.”

 

In 1845, she experienced the darkest of times. Her father, Rev. H.V. Elliott, had conceived the plan of St. Mary’s Hall, at Brighton—a school at nominal cost, to educate the daughters of clergymen. A huge bazaar was held one night. Friends and family came to help and enjoy the day, while she lay in bed, unable to attend. She raised her voice to God and asked, “Why me?” “What good is my life if I can’t do anything?” When her family brought in a Swiss pastor to help her, she screamed at him.

 

Speaking of strong personalities, let’s take a look at Saul of Tarsus. Saul was a Christian killer. But God changed him, and sent him out to preach the gospel. But, Saul, now Paul, was not without pain. In 2 Cor. 12:7, Paul writes: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given me a thorn in the flesh…”

 

Charlotte’s conversion was not as dramatic as Paul’s, but no less amazing. When she gave up control and gave her life to Christ, she was led to pen these words: “Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind. Yea, all I need in Thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!” In spite of the “thorn in her flesh”, she wrote 150 hymns and, the most famous, “Just As I Am” is played and sung at millions of conversion experiences.

 

What purpose did God have for Saul and for Charlotte? They came to God, just as they were, with fears and doubts within and without, and He gave them voices that reached into eternity.

 

And what about those pesky thorns? They became beautiful roses.

Saved By A Song

SAVED BY A SONG
THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION
MARCH NEWSLETTER
BY MYRA F. SMITH

“We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, be the Guardian of our way; keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, seek us when we go astray;” (from the hymn, “Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us…words by Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836)

Dorothy A. Thrupp was a Londoner who wrote only a few songs, mostly for children. She was a private, quiet soul, and not much is known about her except that she wrote this hymn at the age of 57, to comfort small children. She died only ten years later.

Now, let’s move on to another story concerning this hymn. It was on a Christmas Eve that Ira Sankey traveled by steamboat up the Delaware River. Oddly enough, he was asked to sing and sang this song. At the conclusion of the song, a stranger walked up to him and asked, “Did you ever serve in the Union Army?” “Yes, “ Mr. Sankey answered. “I served in 1860. “Do you remember if you were on picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862?” the stranger asked. “Yes,” answered a surprised Sankey.

The stranger proceeded to tell an amazing story. He was in the Confederate Army and saw Sankey, a Union soldier, on that very night at his post. He raised his musket to kill him and was shocked to hear his enemy singing this song. He took his finger from the trigger, vowing to kill Sankey when he stopped singing. But the words of this glorious hymn touched the stranger’s heart, reminded him of his God-fearing mother, and he told Sankey, “my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side.”

Listen to these words from the hymn: “we need Thy tender care”; “do Thou befriend us”; “be the Guardian of our way”; “Thou hast mercy to relieve us….and pow’r to free.” Is it coincidence that this song saved a man’s life? Random luck that the two enemies meet years’ later and share their amazing story? I don’t think so.

Most of us have dodged bullets in our lifetime. We were lost, but now we are found.

Thank you, precious Shepherd, for always bringing us back to You.

A Heartfelt Gift

A Heartfelt Gift
By Myra F. Smith

The earth is covered with sin and greed
God’s children are hurting, and in need.
Each man’s burden is his own
Days are hard…nights so long.

But, wait! A rumor spreads through town.
A Savior is born in Bethlehem!
Wise men follow a wondrous star,
Shepherds leave flocks to travel afar.

Angels sing and wise men pray,
Glory to God this heavenly day!
Shepherds bow down; and then the kings
Give gold, myrrh, and special things,

The years pass; the boy grows strong
He loves, he heals; he teaches them all.
Mercy, peace, acceptance, and love
Is the message He brings from above.

Why did he come? He came to save
Our hearts from fear, our souls from sin
What can we give? How shall we praise?
Give our hearts, full of mercy and grace

Then, this Christmas, and every day after
Fill your spirits with love and laughter
Spread God’s hope to those who have none,
And you will, at last,

See the baby, God’s son.

An Attitude of Gratitude

 

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

NOVEMBER DEVOTION

“AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE”

By Myra F. Smith

 

Bible Verse: “Praise the Lord! Thank the Lord because he is good. His love continues forever. No one can tell all the mighty things the Lord has done; no one can speak all his praise.” (Psalm 106: 1-2)

 

There is a little break on the calendar that comes shortly after the last goblin runs away, and before Christmas rush begins. It’s known as “Thanksgiving”. You may have heard of it. There is no shopping, few costumes or parties, and no gifts for this event. The celebration only needs three things: family, food, and fellowship.

 

In our texting, tweeting world, Thanksgiving can be stressful. We are required to speak…not text, type or tweet. We look into another person’s eyes and share information. It’s called a “conversation”. Remember?

 

Speaking of remembering, Rayford and I drove to Lufkin yesterday. My sister, Mom, and I drove to the cemetery in Alto where my maternal grandparents, my Dad, Rayford’s parents, and numerous family members are buried. We shared memories, then left and took a short trip to Mom and Dad’s old place. The pasture gate was open so we drove a short distance down the bumpy road and soaked up memories that hung sweet, like honey, in the air.

 

This Thanksgiving, my side of the family will gather at my brother’s house. Most of us will be there, and the ones who can’t be, or who are gone, are greatly missed. We will hold hands in a circle and my brother, who is the mirror image of Dad, will say a prayer of gratitude and thanks. We will eat the most wonderful food, and make new memories while sharing old ones.

We may live in an advanced age, but I believe we have lost the most important thing. We have replaced real, warm and loving human contact with artificial communication. We may have a lot of memory in our i-pads and i-phones, but the “real” memories are created around the Thanksgiving table, and those memories are never lost.

 

Share your gratitude with someone who is not as blessed as you this season, then gather with your family, bow your head at the bountiful table, and thank your heavenly father for His everlasting love.

 

God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him. Amen.

 

 

 

It Is Well With My Soul

“Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.” (From the Hymn)

Horatio Spafford lived in the early 1900’s. He was a wealthy Chicago lawyer with a beautiful home, wife, four daughters, and a son. He was also a devout Christian.

At the height of Spafford’s financial success, he and his wife, Anna, lost their only son. Then, not long after, in October of 1871, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed nearly all of Spafford’s real estate investments.

But, the horror continues. In 1873, Spafford planned a boat trip to Europe for his wife and daughters to provide some joy after these tragedies. He remained in Chicago to take care of last minute business. Several days later, he received this notice: All four daughters are dead, killed in a boat collision.

Spafford boarded another boat that took him to his distraught wife in England. It was while he was standing on this boat that he penned the words to the glorious hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” After the loss of a son, financial disaster, and now the loss of two daughters, he stood on a ship and said, “Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

The hymn was published in 1876, not long before his death in 1888. But I know that Spafford did not fear death, because he said, “…no pang shall be mine, for in death as in life, Thou shalt whisper Thy peace to my soul.”

Pick up your hymnal this week and read all the words to this song. Allow Spafford’s faith in Christ to permeate your soul. Then, remind yourself, as your “sorrows like sea billows roll, that because of Christ’s love and sacrifice for you….

It is well… yes, it is well, with your soul.

LOST

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

MAY DEVOTION

LOST

 

“Jesus Savior, Pilot me; over life’s tempestuous sea;” …Chart and compass came from thee; Jesus Savior, pilot me.” (From the Hymn)

 

Malaysian Flight 307 is lost. Nearly one month has passed since 227 passengers and crew disappeared into an 86,000 square mile area of the Indian Ocean. This week, up to eight aircraft and nine ships will be deployed in the search, including a British submarine whose mission is to locate the “ping” of the black box before time runs out. Tony Tyler, CEO of the International Air Transport Association said, “We cannot let another aircraft disappear.”

Jesus spoke many times about the lost. There was the lost coin, the lost sheep, even the prodigal son who was lost from his family. In each of these stories, Jesus emphasized the significance of finding the lost item or person. Jesus says of the sheepherder, “…he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that were never lost. In the same way, your Father in heaven does not want any of these little children to be lost.” (Matthew 18:13-14)

It doesn’t take a genius to know that humanity is lost. We settle arguments with weapons, not words; we don’t greet, we tweet; we don’t talk, we text; our possessions possess us; Christians are fussing and discussing over non-issues instead of holding hands, praying, and working together to promote God’s kingdom on earth.

On our own power, we remain lost. Only Jesus can find and rescue us when we make a wrong turn. He will walk on water to save us from ourselves. That’s why He’s called, “The Save-ior”.

 

 

Racing For The Gold?

The Christian Connection
April Newsletter
Going For The Gold?
By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” (Matthew 6:19)

The U.S. Women’s Hockey Team lined up in Sochi to receive their medals. They were great athletes, hoping to take it all at the Winter Olympics. The cameras panned their faces. Each player had tears in her eyes. Why the tears? The tears were for the silver; they were going for the gold.

Have you faced adversity, loss, disappointment, illness, financial stress, and the rest, always striving for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? The disciples wanted it, too. On the way to Capernaum, Jesus overheard them argue about which of them He considered to be the “greatest”. Jesus’ answer to them was, “Whoever wants to be the most important must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35) Are you kidding me, Jesus? I didn’t sign up for this to come in last! I want to be first!

If our goal is to become more like Jesus, we must step away from the podium, throw off our cloak of self-righteousness, and GO OUT INTO THE WORLD, HEALING, TEACHING, FEEDING, CLOTHING, AND MINISTERING TO GOD’S CHILDREN.

Some medals are round in shape and made of gold. Some medals are shaped like a cross and made of wood. And the irony is: When you are a member of Team Jesus, you stop racing for the gold and begin racing for God.

The Age of Miracles

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

MARCH DEVOTION

By Myra F. Smith

THE AGE OF MIRACLES

BIBLE VERSE: “Nebuchadnezzar went to the door of the roaring furnace and called in, ‘Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the High God, come out here!’ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked out of the fire.” (Daniel 3:26)

We were on our way to a wedding in Ft. Worth this weekend. I put a Mary Chapin Carpenter CD into the player, and began to pay close attention to one song. The song was, “The Age of Miracles” and here is a stanza from that song:

“Seems like we’re just standing still

One day we’ll ride up that hill

In the age of miracles

There’s one on the way.”

Daniel and his friends were loyal followers of God. They refused to worship the idols of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. For their faith, they were put into a furnace so hot the men who shoved them inside were consumed by the fire. While I believe Daniel and his friends trusted God to save them, the sight of hungry tigers was terrifying.

What are you terrified of today? Terrorists? Bankruptcy? Divorce? Loneliness? Depression? Spousal Abuse? There are enough hungry lions in our world to scare the life out of us. Storms rage like never before; earthquakes are larger; floods are heavier; tornados more fierce. Violent crime is off the charts; teens are killing themselves and others; poverty looms large; family violence is rampant; church attendance is down, and the world seems inhabited by starving lions, ready to rip us apart.

How do we face our raging lions? What sustains us when we feel imprisoned by our problems? Who do we turn to when we need a miracle? As the song says, even when we are standing still with no hope in sight, a miracle is on the way. This miracle has a name. His name is Jesus, and He gave His life to free us from the world.

Call His name; then step away from the prison bars. Our Miracle is on His way.

The Sound of Silence

THE CHRISTIAN CONNECTION

THE SOUND OF SILENCE

FEBRUARY DEVOTION

By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

On the morning of Feb. 8th, 2013, I saw a report by Jenna Wolf on NBC news. Her report concerned how addicted we are to noise. She compared the lives of our parents and grandparents to ours today. Here is what she discovered:

1. Before cable, television sets went off at night.

2. Before the internet, shops closed.

3. Before i-phones and earplugs, the only sounds you heard on a train or bus were the voices of real people.

4. Before i-pads, i-phones and i-tunes, people took quiet walks in the park.

5. Consider this: A jet plane has a noise decibel level of 140; an i-phone has a decibel level of 110.

I love the convenience of computers, i-pads, and digital readers. They make life easier in many ways. But, as we begin a new year, we would be wise to spend time in silence with God and reading the Bible; pray in a quiet place; listen to birds chirping, the wind blowing through the trees, and the steady patter of rain. We have a great hymn that says, “This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears all nature sings and round me rings, the music of the spheres.”

Who are you listening to in 2014? A. Is it the noisy, rushed, frantic, misguided world? B. Or is it God, our Creator, who beckons us to come to Him and find rest and spiritual renewal?

I hope you answered “B”. This isn’t multiple choice.

The Power of One

The Christian Connection

September Newsletter

“The Power Of One”

By Myra F. Smith

 

Bible Verse: “…but a Samaritan (foreigner), who was traveling, came upon him, and when he saw him, he was deeply moved with compassion for him, and went to him and bandaged up his wounds….” (Luke 10:33-34)

A man is traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho; he is robbed, beaten, and left for dead beside the road.

Three men come by. The first is a priest; the second, a Levite, and the third, a Samaritan. The first two were respected members of society. The Samaritan was an outcast. The first two men walk away, but the Samaritan stops to help; bandages his wounds, and pays for a safe place for him to spend the night.

This brings me to a modern story. Recently, five teens stood beside a river and watched a man drown. Not one of them offered to swim out to him; not one looked for anything to pull him out of the river; not one teen used their cell phone to call for help. In fact, one of the teens shouted back to the man, “We’re not going to help you.” The man, a husband and father, died.

Without THE ONE who forgives our sins; heals our bodies; tends to our wounds; soothes our ravaged souls; lifts our broken spirits; gives us hope for tomorrow, and NEVER FAILS TO HELP, we would be forever lost.

ONE PERSON can heal a wound; soothe a broken spirit; give food to the hungry; give water to the thirsty, and set someone on a new path of hope and healing.

JESUS SAVED US. NOW, IT’S OUR TURN. IT ONLY TAKES ONE.

Excerpts from my book….If 40 is the new 20….I must be 10

“Kneedy Knee Clinic. May I help you?”
“I need to speak to your Needy nurse.”
“Dr. Kneel’s office,” Nurse Ratchet replied.
“It seems my records were never sent to the ‘Eura Pain in the Butt’ Clinic.”
“I’m sorry, but, as I told you before, those files were certified, copied to a hard drive, and skydived to Dr. Hamn’s office last Tuesday. No way around it…I had to make another call to that pain in the butt nurse.
“Eura Pain in the Butt Clinic,” the receptionist said. “Oh, it’s you again. You’re becoming a big pain in the butt.”
“Speaking of which,” I said. “I called the Kneedy Knee Clinic and they said my records were sent to you last week. I suggest you double check your daughter’s Barbie lunch tote or tweet the janitor before I file a complaint with the chief butt in your cracked corporation.”
There was a long pause. Finally, she came back on the line, and her voice was sugary. “Oh, my gracious goodness,” she said, ever so sweetly. “Your records were here all the time, in this little ole filing cabinet. Now, when would you like to come in for your first appointment?” Before I could answer, she said, “How about next month?”
“No problem,” I told her, “I shouldn’t need to walk, bend, or pee until then. I’ll see you in thirty.”
The day of my appointment arrived. I found the clinic, and hobbled into the building. I took a wrong turn off the elevator and nearly signed up for a colonoscopy. Talk about a pain in the butt. I’d rather drink poison grape juice at the “Mission for Mad Men” than ‘expose’ myself to that.
Finally, I found the correct waiting room, signed my name, filled out a dozen more forms, and sat down. The waiting room was full. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know there are many butts in this world. I had barely opened a magazine when a lady called my name. Excellent, I thought. I’m going to get right in. But, it was the restroom where we were headed.
“We need a urine sample,” she said. “Tinkle in the little cup, put your little cup in the little drawer by the little sink, and go back to your room. I’ll call you when it’s time for you to come out again.”
I had the strange sensation that I was being potty trained. I did what “mommy” told me, and marched into the waiting room.
Eventually, I was taken to an examination room. Two cute girls were in there. I assumed them to be eleven or twelve. One of the girls sat in front of me, armed with a clipboard.
“Are you a smoker? Illegal drugs? Goose down or cotton? Plaids or stripes? Elvis or the Beatles?
No doubt, these were serious questions, but I wasn’t clear about their relevance to my problem. I asked, “Is there anyone here who can help me with my back and hip pain?”
“Of course,” the twelve year old told me. “The doctor will be right in. But first, we need to check your blood pressure, measure your shoe size, and get an inseam.”
I soon determined that I might possibly have wandered into the fan club for “Idiot’s Anonymous” when a white -cloaked doctor walked through the door.
“Hello, Mrs. Smith, he said. “I’m Dr. C.U. Hamn, and I will be shooting you in the butt. Do you have any questions?”
“ I have a list here,” I said, pulling a three paged, single-spaced note from my purse.
“Go ahead, shoot,” he said.
“First of all, when will I get shot and where? How many shots will be fired? Can I be heavily sedated when you shoot me?
“The shooting will take place at our clinic,’ “ he said. Our target area will be the site of your worst pain. You will be put to sleep, unless you choose to stay awake and kiss your butt goodbye.”
“Sounds good,” I said, obviously speaking with my head up my butt.
“Bend over the exam table, and pull down your pants, “ he said, way too fast for our first date. I wondered what he must think, staring at that mound of misery.
“Hmmmnnn,” he said. Does this hurt?” he asked, his right hand now pushing a large knot at the top of my right thigh.
“OOOHHHH,”I moaned in pain.
“How about here?” he asked. He poked my lower back.
“OOOhh, EEEee!” I said, too loud. “That’s the spot.”
“Looks like we have a sacroiliac joint inflamed, with two spurs at lumbar 5, pressing on nerves 2, 4, 6, 8, and 9. These pressed nerves are not happy.”
He walked over to his cabinet and retrieved a stethoscope. He placed it on my lower back. Then, he said, “Your lower back and sacroiliac are sending a message from pain central. It’s coming in loud and clear.”
“Wonderful!” I said, now delirious from the pain. “What are they saying?”
“The message sounds like this,” he continued: “Ooh Eee Ooh Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang. Ooh Eee Ooh Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.”
“The witch doctor song?” I squealed, jerking at my pants, now fearing he was aiming a spear at my derriere.
“Yes, that is correct,” he was saying. At the ‘Eura Pain in the Butt Clinic’ we use both prescribed and alternate methods of treatment. Our witchin’ method is highly recommended for back pain.
“This sounds like a bunch of hocus pocus,” I blurted out, “I thought this was a reputable clinic.”
“Allow me to explain,” he continued. “This witching method works precisely like water witching. We dig down into the spinal cavern, find the line, tap it, and pull out. Simple enough?”
And so, as the song goes, he seemed quite nice, so I took his advice. I’m no miser, and needed someone wiser, so I told the witch doctor:

Mr. Witch Doctor, I’m so afraid of you.”
Mr. Witch Doctor, I don’t know what to do.
So, Mr. Witch Doctor, my butt belongs to you.”
And he said:
“Ooh Eee Ooh Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang
Ooh Eee Ooh Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.”
And then the Witch Doctor, he told me what to do, he said:
“When we probe to the center of your sac,
Find that leak and plug that drain,
You’ll be dancing, doing some tap,
Free of worry, free of pain.”
Well, I could name that tune with three notes, so I signed on the dotted line. In a matter of weeks, I was sitting in the pre-op room. A nurse was holding a clipboard. This place was using more paper than the press.
“I need to ask you some questions,” she said.
“Shoot,” I said.

A Love That Never Fails

The Christian Connection
February Devotion
A Lasting Love
By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: “Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are very great.” (1 Chronicles 21:13)

George Matheson, who wrote the words to the song, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” was no stranger to love. At age nineteen, while graduating from Glasgow University for work in the Christian ministry, he became totally blind. His fiancé, unwilling to marry a blind man, returned his ring. That rejection never left him, and it was during this time of sorrow that he wrote the beautiful hymn, “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.”

One Sunday morning, while ministering at a small church, a visitor who was a member of the large St. Bernard’s Church in Edinburgh, was impressed with him, and they later asked him to pastor their church. He said of this exciting event in his life: “Make every occasion a great occasion. You can never tell when somebody may be taking your measure for a larger place.”

In this month of valentines, candy boxes, heart shaped balloons, and flowers, let’s take a look at George Matheson’s idea of the perfect love:

“O joy, that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee. I trace the rainbow through the rain, and feel the promise is not vain, that morn shall tearless be.”

O love, that wilt not let me go. I rest my weary soul in Thee. I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow, may richer, fuller be.”

George Matheson, as far as I know, never experienced a romantic, human love, but he experienced an even greater love…a love that would not leave him…a love that would see him through the pain of blindness, and allow him to feel the rainbow casting its colors through the rain.

God’s love never leaves us; it is not dependent on circumstances or human whims; it grows strong when we grow weak; it is life sustaining and brings cheer to our gloomy hearts. God’s love is eternal, beautiful, strong, gracious, loving, and willing to enter a waiting heart.

This year, send a Valentine to God. Express your love for the One who will never let you go. And your heart will be full, and your eyes, once blinded by rain, will once more see the rainbow.

When Bad Things Happen

The Christian Connection
May Devotion
“When Bad Things Happen”
By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: “For the thing which I greatly fear comes upon me, and that of which I am afraid has come upon me.” (Job 3:25)

The story of Job makes me want to yell, “NO FAIR!” Why would God let Satan torture His loyal and faithful servant? How could God allow the devil to destroy Job’s herd and livelihood, kill off his children, and cover the poor man with sores in one day? That’s more than a lifetime of suffering in 24 hours!

But, never fear. His dear wife and friends will help. His wife yells in his good ear, “Curse God and die!” What an encourager! Then, his best friends come over with droning lectures about sin, suffering, salvation, sacrifice, and any other “s” word that may add to his misery. At first, Job takes it all in stride. Later in the story, he gets angry and yells back. I want to say, “You go, Job!”

Yes, Job told his friends he’s had quite enough, and even argues with God, throwing out the old “Why me?” argument. Ever asked God that question? “Why me? What did I do wrong? Why don’t you punish the loser who beats his wife or fat cat who cheats his employees out of their retirement? How about some sores for them?”

God did answer Job. He challenged him to acknowledge the difference between Creator and Created. It was a battle of wits, but when Job repents of his doubts, God restores his family, health and possessions. Job talked directly to God, but, even in our deepest prayers, we may only hear silence, and lose faith.

I have a favorite throw pillow that says, “Stars Can’t Shine Without Darkness.” It reminds me daily that it is only in the dark that stars shine; a reminder that God is still at work in us to heal, comfort, love, encourage, and restore us.

Job’s story relates that bad things do happen to good people. The stars are our answer from God that even in the darkest times, His love remains with us. And I, for one, am beginning to feel the warmth and comfort of the Son.

Getting Together

The Christian Connection
June Newsletter
“When We All Get Together”
By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: “Finally, all of you be like-minded {united in spirit}, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted {courteous and compassionate toward each other as members of one household}, and humble in spirit.” (1 Peter 3:8)

I looked up this chapter in Barclay’s Bible Commentary” and this is a portion of what it says:

“When a man comes to know Christ, he comes to know goodness. In Christ he has a standard by which all actions and motives may be tested. He knows what real goodness is.” Later, he says: “The Christian is called out of no mercy into mercy. The great characteristic of non-Christian religion is the fear of God. The Christian is the man who has discovered…the love of God.”

Now, let’s examine some important words and phrases:

1. Goodness. The love of Christ should dwell in us, causing us to think of others as highly as we think of ourselves. We should want to act and speak with love.
2. A Measurable Standard: As it was with Adam and Eve, when we experience God our eyes are opened, and we are able to distinguish right from wrong.
3. Mercy: In my mind, “mercy” is a mix of love and compassion. Compassion softens the heart for someone, but mercy extends a hand of friendship.
4. Love of God: Non-Christians fear God and act out of fear, but Christians know that God is love. Because we are forgiven, we can start again. Fear creates panic; love creates peace.

What does this mean in our Christian churches now? Here’s what I think it means:

1. The church belongs to God. Therefore, it should be conducted according to God’s standards of compassion, mercy, peace, and love.
2. If we, as followers of Jesus Christ, seek our own way instead of God’s way, we are not a church whose foundation will stand the test of time.

We can’t get everything right, but we can go forth with a spirit of love and unity.

God is perfectly capable of doing the rest.

Onward Christian Soldiers

Onward Christian Soldiers
The Christian Connection
September Newsletter
By Myra F. Smith

Bible Verse: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, Who is with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:17)

Rev. Sabine Baring-Gould, who wrote this hymn in the mid 1860’s, actually composed it as a children’s marching song. Neighborhood children were marching to a Sunday school rally, and Sabine wanted to give them a marching song. Listen to some of the words of this song:

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God; brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we, one in hope and doctrine, one in charity. Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, but the church of Jesus constant will remain.”

We are in the midst of a war today; a war of religious and cultural extremes and fanaticism. If you watch the news, you have to know that we, as a nation, are in the midst of a violent and unsettling time. We have citizens vs. the police; Muslims vs. Christians; blacks vs. whites vs. Hispanic; the wealthy vs. the poor, and so on. For these wars, weapons of destruction are used to kill and cripple the enemy.

But, look at the words of this song. We are encouraged as a Christian army to be armed with the cross of God as our weapon. What do we take with us into battle? According to the song, we are to be armed with hope, doctrine, and charity. Are you kidding me? These are our weapons against assault rifles, and terrorist bombs?

How could this possibly work? Jesus showed us. Without weapons, a king’s crown, or even a shield, He conquered hate, injustice, abuse, inequality and disbelief, and promoted peace, justice, equality, love, compassion, and hope. His army was His word, and the cross was His weapon against sin, giving all of us a future of hope through salvation.

Truly, if ever there has been a time when Christians need to arm themselves with the cross of Christ, it is now. Join the army of God, and win the only battle that counts: the battle of love versus hate.