Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Can't spell "flaunt" without "aunt"!

I can contain my auntie-pride no longer.  Introducing...Marianna!
And here's big brother Aaron keeping her entertained...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

7 Things I Learned from My Dad

The importance of regular oil changes.

The art of the pun.

The merits of Exedrin, Gordon Lightfoot, and The Far Side.

The value of silence and solitude.

The joy of learning.

The dignity of hard work.

The preeminence of God's Word.

Friday, June 19, 2009

20,001 Reasons to Know the 10 Commandments

Reason #1: Because they come directly from the mind and heart of your Creator and Judge.

Not that we should need any more motivation than that, but here are 20,000 more reasons:


Ten and Win

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Uninsured... And Loving It.

I have news for Mr. Obama: I am uninsured and I like it that way.

I've been a member of Samaritan Ministries' Christian Health Care Newsletter program for almost 2 years now, and I will never go back to health insurance.  Let me rephrase that: I will never go back to health insurance... unless the government makes me.

The concept of the Christian Health Care Newsletter is refreshingly simple (funny how biblical concepts often are): every month I receive the name/address/medical concern of another member.  I send a card with a personal note and a check directly to him/her.  I pray for complete healing, as well as patience and peace in the midst of suffering.  If I were to wind up with medical bills, the same would be done for me by other members.

Because every applicant must pledge Christian conduct, including no smoking or illicit relationships, and supply written approval from his/her pastor and another Christian, my checks do not go to support health problems that are the result of unbiblical behavior.  I love that.  A lot.

Since I've never had to be on the receiving end, my membership in the CHN was somewhat abstract--until this past February.  My assigned need for the month was a woman who had lost her husband to a heart attack, and now had piles of hospital bills.  I sent my share and prayed for her, but it wasn't till a couple weeks later that I got a note from an old college friend... it was her dad who had passed away.  She had been helping her mom sort through the 600 (yes, 600!) cards from praying Christians, when she saw my name, as well as another college classmate's.  Helping a friend's family through such a deep loss--that's priceless.

"Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ."  Galatians 6:2

Monday, June 8, 2009

Titus Got Me Thinking...

The Book of Titus has captured my attention recently.  Specifically, the emphasis on "good deeds"--in only three chapters, they are referenced six times.  While Paul makes it crystal-clear that good deeds have nothing to do with salvation (see Titus 3:5), he is emphatic that good deeds are the high and non-negotiable calling of those who have experienced spiritual re-birth.  His instruction to "be careful to engage in good deeds" (3:8) implies far more forethought and intention than I usually put in.

Anyway, last night as I was spending some time in Titus, I started recalling different instances when I have been on the receiving end of a good deed.  The list would be endless if I were to recount every nice thing that someone has done for me.  However, some memories stick out, and they all have a common denominator: the good deed was from a stranger.

Elsewhere I have recounted a woman's kindness on a Greyhound bus headed to Minnesota, and how it influenced me to turn around and (grudgingly at first) express the same sort of generosity on another Greyhound barreling down I-70, years later.  I don't remember that woman's name, but through our conversation I learned she had a personal relationship with God, too.  She was returning home from one of many visits to her father, who lay slowly wasting away in a cancer hospital.  Despite her personal pain, she had made a point of packing extra blankets to share with fellow travelers.  That's what I call "being careful to engage in good deeds."

Last summer, when I went to pay for a tankful of gas with a gift card that the cashier rejected, the young man behind me in line offered to take care of my bill.  I could have paid with a credit card, or even cash, but by this point in my life I had learned a valuable lesson: let a man be chivalrous.  I asked his name and thanked him sincerely as the cashier ran his card for both our bills.  He accepted my gratitude quietly and immediately left after signing the receipt.  As he drove away, the cashier informed me that my quiet benefactor was a soldier on leave.  Two minutes ago I had been steaming mad at this coarse woman with greasy hair, for rejecting my gift card.  But at that moment, we were drawn together in appreciation for a good deed.  "God bless him," she muttered as we stood watching the soldier's pick-up drive out of sight.  Yes, God bless him--whoever he is.

Then there was the scholarship from an anonymous donor while in Bible college.  And the self-sacrificing way an upper-classman I didn't know from Adam sat down and took the time to get to know me, when I was previewing the college.  (This one didn't stay a stranger; I count her among my closest friends today.)  And the compliment a toll-booth worker paid me on a long, lonely drive.  "Has anyone ever told you you have gorgeous eyes?" from a high school-age boy is a good deed that will perk up a tired female traveler for a good many mile.

This is just a sampling.

Here's to good deeds.  Here's to strangers who--perhaps without realizing it--are agents of God's grace in our lives.

And Christians, we've got some work to do.  Let's get busy.

What's your story of a stranger's good deed?

Marianna Joy Clark

What a beautiful name, don't you think?  My first niece was born early this morning.  Lord willing, I'll get to meet her at Labor Day.  Welcome, Marianna!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ready or not?

Let's review today's top news stories:
>> Our President proclaims this month "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month."
>> An anti-abortion activist is charged with murdering abortionist Dr. George Tiller at his church yesterday.
>> A plane is confirmed to have crashed in the Atlantic, killing 228 people.

Still, God's grace endures.

So take a deep breath.
Read Lamentations 3 and maybe Daniel 9.
And bring to mind Jesus' words, still crackling with life, still ringing with hope and truth and promise:
"Yes, I am coming quickly."

Are you ready?