What Martin Luther had to say about beheadings…

This past weekend I was the keynote speaker at a women’s conference in Crystal Lake, Illinois. What a meaningful time it was to hear powerful testimonies of God’s sustaining love while being challenged to abide, persevere, and trust God in the various seasons of our lives. It was a beautiful time of worship and surrender in the presence of a King.

After the two day event, I was invited to sing during First Church’s three services on Sunday morning before my concert that afternoon. I read an excerpt from my journal as an introduction to the song, “To Live is Christ” (to die is gain). During one of the services the kindergartners¬†were invited to come forward to receive brand new Bibles. Perhaps for some it was their first. One by one they reached the platform, their teacher handed them a Bible, and they returned to their seats with their parents. All the while, congregants watched and smiled accordingly. Kids sure can be cute sometimes. Especially a particular little blonde-haired boy.

He bounded up the steps to the platform and when handed his Bible he spun around to face the crowd hoisting it up with both hands high above his head in sheer delight, as if he had just received the best gift ever. His apparent zeal for the new Bible prompted joyous laughter and applause from a loving church family. I smiled at the thought of how precious God’s Word had become in my own life and said a quick prayer for the little ones, that they would grow in the faith and desire to serve the Lord one day.

The pastor jokingly responded, “Apparently, his big sister already received her Bible and now it’s his turn!” Thus, the enthusiasm. I suppose it doesn’t matter when or how or under what circumstances you come by the Holy Book, so long as you do. For it is life.

Back home in Nashville, I had the opportunity to hear pastor and author, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, speak on “when the State becomes God.” Reading from the Book of Daniel, he referenced the story of King Nebuchadnezzar and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to illustrate how, in these difficult days, we must fear God more than we fear the fiery furnace. To remember there was a fourth man in the fire. That the fire that purifies us is the fire that sets us free. That we ought not to regard our lives, as some things are more important than living.

And, of course, we know how it ended for these courageous men…their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them. They trusted in God and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own.

Admonishing believers to pray for national revival, Dr. Lutzer spoke of how political correctness is killing us and persecution should be expected. He encouraged reading biographies to our grandchildren, stories of believers who have kept the faith through opposition, of those even martyred for their Christian beliefs. He stated, “there may come a time when the only thing we have left is God’s Word” and challenged us to trust in His promises alone, reciting the words of Martin Luther who said, “If I had a thousand heads, I would lose them all rather than to recant.”

It was a sobering and informative evening. Four pages of notes attest to that.

So, Little Blonde-Haired Boy, lift that Precious Book above your head. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Regard it, study it, cherish it, memorize it. Let it comfort you, convict you, transform you, and embolden you. Learn to speak it, believe it, claim it, and live it. And like your teacher said, “it’s O.K. to write in our Bibles.” As you write in yours, He’ll be writing on your heart. With a Love that endures.

Little Blonde-Haired Boy, whatever tomorrow holds, don’t give up. Jesus loves you and has a plan for you. To prosper you and not to harm you. To give you a hope and a future. As Lutzer put it, “time is short, eternity is long.” Stand firm. Stand fast. And stand on the great and precious promises of God.

You’ve inspired me, Little Blonde-Haired Boy. Not only to write this blog, but to continue studying God’s Word, and to live courageously for His Kingdom’s cause, no matter the cost. Thank you for that.

Your big sister and fellow lover of the Word…

Cheri

 

 

 

Scissors and Strings.

She called. I picked up. She had two bananas ripe for banana bread with no intention of letting them go to waste. I rattled off the necessary ingredients over the phone. In all the transitioning into of her new married home, my daughter hadn’t yet purchased the basic items for her inaugural baking venture. Nor had I gotten around to passing along the torn-edged recipe I had used for banana bread her entire life. It was time. The fact that she wanted to carry on the tradition warmed my heart.

Engaged in my work, I told her I’d have to wait until later that evening to come by. There were a few other things I needed to pass along anyway; her birth certificate, passport, and social security card, all of which I kept securely in a manila envelope in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet. As I gathered these important items, I felt a strange awareness that this was yet another step in the cutting of strings.

It seems scissors aren’t just for crafting. From the very beginning, scissors are for parenting.

The umbilical cord…snip, snip. Her first haircut…snip, snip. The permission slip for her first field trip…snip, snip. Countless construction paper projects…snip, snip. Her first sleepover away from home…snip, snip. The eleven inch ponytail she cut and donated to “Locks of Love”…snip, snip. Can you believe she’s driving already?…snip, snip. How grown up she looked in that white dress she made for junior prom…snip, snip. The tags off her purple suitcase, a gift for graduation…snip, snip. She’s engaged!…snip, snip. The ribbon on her bridal shower packages…snip, snip. The sight of a beautiful, young woman twirling around in her wedding dress on fitting day…snip, snip. The stems of her bridal bouquet…snip, snip. The pronouncement of the new Mr. and Mrs. and the moment they pulled away from the curb in the get away car…snip, snip. Picking up her dress and pearl earrings at the hotel with one last chance to say goodbye before the honeymoon…snip, snip. The exhaustion the following day when all was said and done. The reality that this is one trip she won’t be coming home from. Tearing up in the middle of the produce section upon realizing I won’t always have to stock strawberries or Nutella, for that matter…snip, snip.

Strings. Heartstrings. Who knew there would be so many strings attached to my heart?

Loading up her blue bicycle, the yellow rain boots with the little hearts on them, some random remaining art supplies, and a few extra costumes still hanging on a rack in the garage, I set off in our family van, and made the drive out to her house where she will one day nurture a family of her own.

It brought me great pleasure to stop by the grocery store for a big ‘ole tub of Crisco, a bag of all-purpose flour, a dozen eggs, the sugar, baking soda and baking powder, and the most crucial ingredient of all…a bag of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips. Soon, she and her husband would be enjoying the first of many loaves of banana bread she will likely make in the years to come.

Something every mother will eventually do (even the ones who don’t cook, like me!), I sat on the couch in her living room, their living room, and in my neatest handwriting carefully copied down the recipe word for word. I reviewed it with her to test for legibility, explaining nuts are optional. Of course, I always double the recipe to make two loaves, one to keep and one to give away. She mentioned she only had one pan. It’s a start. Perfect for her maiden voyage. With room to grow.

Funny, as I’m writing this, I’m remembering that as we unloaded the van I brought in her jar of crafting scissors, several pairs of different kinds for every possible use. I arranged them next to her paint brushes on top of her white cabinet in the room she has already claimed as her art studio.

With a good husband, supportive friends and family, a belief in a God who loves her, and plenty of scissors, I believe she’ll do just fine. And I’ll be by with that second pan.

As is the case with any newlywed couple, I think of the verse from Ecclesiastes,¬†“If two lie down together, they will keep warm…A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” And another familiar verse from the New Testament, “They are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Not even the scissors.

Mid-blog, she just called again. Turns out I forgot to write down how much sugar to use for the banana bread. Oops. 2/3 cup. That and plenty of chocolate chips’ll do just fine.

Happy baking…

Cheri