Innocent

Here is the last set of quotes this week.  As promised, the first quote is a continuation of the previous quote I mentioned.  We don’t behave perfectly all the time, but nevertheless we can be certain we are innocent before our Heavenly Judge:

Justification declares the sinner righteous, but it is external to the man.  That is, the justified man may be no better off for his justification if that is all that happened to him.  Justification is a judicial thing.  Just as a man may stand before the court and be declared innocent of a crime — not guilty, and yet it does not change the man inside.  He weighs exactly the same as he weighed before; stands at the same height, with the same color of hair and eyes as before. He has the same relationships and in every way is the same man he was before.  The only difference, he is judicially free, declared not guilty before the law.  — A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 184

Of course he doesn’t leave us that way if we truly seek Him in repentance and offer Him our hearts:

In the history lesson of Psalm 78, we find the Israelites following the Lord “only with their words.”  They knew what to say, but they didn’t know how to live.  They would come to God’s Temple with sacrifices but they would not offer him their hearts.  “I want you to be merciful,” God said,  “I don’t want your sacrifices.”  The people were going through the motions, but not letting God’s emotions go through them.  —One Year Book of Psalms, 6/21

Repentance is primarily a change of moral purpose, a sudden and often violent reversal of the soul’s direction.  The prodigal son took his first step upward from the pigsty when he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  As he had once willed to leave his father’s house, now he willed to return.”  — A. W. Tozer

The atonement (the fact that Jesus lived a perfect life for us, and died a perfect judgment for us on the cross, and truly did rise again from the dead as proof) makes all the difference in the world and can even change the inside of a man, though we will never be perfect until Christ returns.  How do I know Jesus did rise from the dead?  See my previous “God is Real” posts — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3!

Atonement is the basis upon which God acts toward humanity.  Atonement makes justification possible, and justification leads to regeneration.  This is the work of God outside of a man that has the potential to change the inside of a man.  Regeneration takes place at the same time justification takes place…A regenerated man is a man [or woman] who partakes of the divine nature, a man who has a new relation to God, which gives him eternal life.  –A. W. Tozer, My Daily Pursuit, pg. 185

But now we are seeing the righteousness of God declared quite apart from the Law (though simply testified by by both Law and prophets)–it is a righteousness imparted to, and operating in, all who have faith in Jesus Christ.  (For there is no distinction to be made anywhere: everyone has sinned, everyone falls short of the beauty of God’s plan).  Under this divine system a man who has faith is now freely acquitted in the eyes of God by his generous dealing in the redemptive act of Christ Jesus.  God has appointed him as the means of propitiation, a propitiation accomplished by the shedding of his blood, to be received and made effective in ourselves by faith.  God has done this to demonstrate his righteousness both by the wiping out of the sins of the past (the time when he withheld his hand), and by showing in the present time that he is a just God and that he justifies every man who has faith in Jesus Christ. What happens now to human pride of achievement?  There is no more room for it.  Why, because failure to keep the Law has killed it?  Not at all, but because the whole matter is now on a different plane–believing instead of achieving.  We see now that a man is justified before God by the fact of his faith in God’s appointed Savior and not by what he has managed to achieve under the Law.  — Romans 3:21-28 (PHI)

From there, we can encourage one another in our relationship with Jesus, our Savior.  The apostle Paul spent much time in prison writing to believers in various places, encouraging them in their faith.  Here is just one example of many, beautifully expressed in the J.B. Phillips translation:

I wish you could understand how deep is my anxiety for you…How I long that you may be encouraged, and find out more and more how strong are the bonds of Christian love.  How I love for you to grow more certain in your knowledge and more sure in your grasp of God himself.  May your spiritual experience become richer as you are more and more full of God’s great secret, Christ himself.  For it is in him, and in him alone, that men will find all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge…in spirit I am by your side, watching like a proud father the solid steadfastness of your faith in Christ.  Just as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so go on living in him–in simple faith.  Grow out of him as a plant grows out of the soil it is planted in, becoming more and more sure of the faith as you were taught it, and your lives will overflow with joy and thankfulness.  –Colossians 2:1-7 (PHI)

And now, if you haven’t already, go back and read my “God is Real” posts, to see why I’m so certain that all of this is true — Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

 

Casting Lots

Here is another interesting quote using the word “Cast” from one of my favorite authors, Jerry Bridges:

Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”  The practice of casting lots was often used to determine important matters of state.  Officials were chosen, tasks determined, dates selected, and disputes were settled by casting lots (see I Chronicles 24:5; Esther 3:7; Proverbs 18:18; Luke 1:9).  The King of Babylon determined military strategy by casting lots (see Ezekiel 21:18-22).  Solomon tells us that every decision from casting lots was from God, that is, God controlled the decision that kings and government officials made through this method.  –Jerry Bridges, Trusting God, pg. 85

When my children were in grade school teachers were chosen by a sort of “casting lots” method.  The names of the children were drawn out of a hat and connected with teachers.  However, many Christian parents would request the teacher they felt their child should have.  I wanted so badly to choose the teachers for my kids, but felt it would compromise my trust in the Lord to make the decision.  One time (and one time only) I suggested one teacher not be my child’s teacher (only because I didn’t know her at all).  When they went to draw names, I was told later, that was the first name chosen for my child.  They put the names back in the hat and drew again with the same result and told me we needed to stay with that draw.  I accepted it, and I’m glad I did, because she ended up being the best teacher ever for my child.  It really is safe and wise to trust the Lord (rather than yourself), especially for such important decisions.

Zip Line

The next place we stopped in Costa Rica was the zip line.  I had ridden one in Costa Rica and Thailand before, and was excited to experience the thrill of flying through the trees again!

To our surprise, we ran into some of the staff from the ship that were also going on the zip line.  It was great that we ended up in the same group so we could get better acquainted.  Later I was able to share photos with them, since they didn’t have cameras.

The girls had been tricked into thinking they were going to the beach, and they were dressed accordingly, which we thought was hilarious.

Their names and countries are Aleksandar (Serbia), Stanko (Serbia), Diana (Montenegro) and Lori (Croatia).

What a delight to spend this time with them, laughing, squealing, and being goofy (rather than the normal stance they would take serving on the ship)!

And — to top it off — guess who waited on us at breakfast the next morning?  This is always the best part of traveling — the food AND the people we meet!

 

 

Coming Home

Robyn and I were on a road trip to visit some of the places our grandparents and ancestors lived.  Our next stop was Manhattan, KS.  Our great-grandparents, Jenny (Fleming) and Stephen Harris, and their parents, Elizabeth (Dodd) and George Harris, and Susanna (Carnahan) and Alexander Fleming, lived in a town called Garrison, Kansas.  Sadly, the whole community had to move when the Tuttle Creek dam was put in, as the entire town was flooded and swept away.  Even the graves had to be moved, and this is what we visited — the Carnahan Creek Cemetery.  These brave pioneers had come from England and Ireland via Pennsylvania to live in the plains of Kansas.  They’d had a long journey and stories of hardship, bravery and discovery, I’m sure.

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When they moved the graves up to the top of the hill in 1959 they also moved their church.

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We thought it was hilarious that the church had a two-seated outhouse in back.

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I’ve been told that before Garrison was destroyed by the dam, all the townspeople moved away in many different directions — it was like a death of the entire community.  But in the years that followed, you could always come back to see your friends at this church on Memorial Day, when a pot-luck would be held (still to this day, perhaps, though very few are left if any).

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Next we headed to one of our favorite places in the world — Lawrence, Kansas — home of the Jayhawks.  On our way, we stopped in Topeka to see where Papa Koontz worked at the State Hospital.  Sadly, most of the buildings are gone now, but a couple of them remain.

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We have photos of our mother as a young girl with her grandpa at this very location.

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I also stopped to show Robyn the beautiful Tiffany windows at a church in Topeka.  The depth and beauty in these windows is stunning!

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Finally we pulled into Lawrence and it didn’t take us long to find some Jayhawks at the University of Kansas.

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We also saw the original “Rules of Basketball” in the DeBruce Center.  Wow!

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We found an oddly quiet Allen Field House, but it’s thrilling to be in the facility anytime.

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The athletic museum is impressive!  I personally attended two Orange Bowls, and here are some winning trophies from football and basketball.

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It was fun to play with some of the equipment, too.  My arms and hands are not nearly as large as those of the players.

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It was interesting to see the records of former Kansas athletes that competed in the Olympics, many of them receiving medals.

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Lastly, we stopped in the old Sunflower Village of the 50’s, where our parents first lived after they were married.  These were multi-family units at the time, and were not far from Lawrence on the way to Kansas City.2016-09-21-18-00-28_500

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What an interesting time we’d had, tracing our roots and paying respects to all those who went before us in our family tree.  It was a memorable road trip, indeed.

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip

Robyn and I decided to re-visit the towns our grandparents lived in back in the 60’s.  Although I had been back to those areas, Robyn had not been to most of the areas we wanted to visit.  So we met up in Wichita, KS, and took off on a fun road trip.

We made a quick stop in Altamont, where our mother graduated from high school, and our paternal grandmother had attended as well.  2016-09-19-11-55-40_500_500

Our next stop was Columbus, where we saw two of the homes our maternal grandparents lived in.

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Across the street is the swimming pool where I cut my chin open (and had to have stitches) as a child.  This is the old entryway.

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We used to walk along this wall, which I recalled much higher than it actually is.

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Behind Robyn you can see the fairgrounds.  I remember seeing someone in an iron lung at the county fair here back in the 50’s.  Isn’t that an odd thing to remember?

We also remembered playing in this playhouse, complete with running water and electricity.  It belonged to the daughter of the local doctor (the one that stitched up my chin), and we were jealous that our playhouse (in Raytown, MO) was not as “real” as this one.  Now it looks really tiny.

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We stopped by the church where our parents were married in 1949, and stood at the very altar where they made their vows.

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We stopped to pay respects to our grandparents–Ferne & KC Harris.  They passed away much too early while I was just a child.

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We also stopped to visit a dear, old friend, living in assisted living now.  How dearly we love Judy, whose friendship with the family goes back well before we were born.

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Then we headed down the road to Mound Valley, where our paternal great-grandparents lived.

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There isn’t much to see in this tiny town, but we did stop to pay our respects to our ancestors.  Our Chaney grandparents are buried here, as well as Eastman Chaney and the Wilson ancestors.

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This is one of the greatest mysteries in our family tree — who were Letitia Wilson’s parents?  Her last name was “Glendenning,” but we have found no trace of her family.  I keep digging away at it, but without the name of her father it’s been nearly impossible to trace.

We also stopped in Beagle, Kansas, to see the graves of other ancestors on our mother’s side.  Thomas Rice (our great-great grandfather) was found (in the census records) in the gold fields of California in 1860, but returned to Kansas, marrying Catherine Dedrick in 1861, only to die young–aged 39 in 1872.  Here is the interesting but sad story about his death:  He was a very particular dresser.  He needed to go to a meeting in the wintertime, and his underclothes weren’t quite dry.  He wore them anyway and rode his horse several miles to attend the meeting.  Then he rode home again, but caught pneumonia in the following days and died.  Here are the graves of Catherine’s family.

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Finally, we stopped in Lane, Kansas, to pay respects to Philip H. Koontz and his wife (and cousin) Catherine Koontz.  Both of them lost Confederate brothers in the Civil War and came to Kansas, no doubt, to get away from the pain they’d endured following the war.  2016-09-19-19-01-34_500_500

You can read more about the Rice family here, and the Koontz family here.

 

Teary Eyed

My sister, Robyn, and I met in Jackson after our dad passed away to make decisions about his property.  It’s one of the saddest parts of the loss of a loved one.

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But we went through each item, one by one, and worked together well.

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We went on a bike ride in the woods and ran into dozens of elk.

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I went in town for some errands and spotted the local sheriff on horseback.

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Most of the time the mountains were eery looking because of fires.

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We did pretty well, but got teary eyed when we stopped by the Historical Society.  Daddy had spent many hours there categorizing their file cabinets and looking up obituaries for them.  Brenda, the manager, pointed out something that amazed us.  She had retained the labels Daddy had put on the microfilm equipment.

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Not only that, she said they memorialized him with special labels (with his name) on the file cabinets (later replaced with permanent ones).

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This was so meaningful for both of us.  We knew they’d appreciated the thousands of hours he had put in as a volunteer.  They also had his obituary on the wall, and she said they couldn’t even move the pencil he’d used, or a cardboard piece he’d used to shield his eyes.  This caused us to laugh in addition to our tears, because he was always rigging up something odd to keep sun out of his eyes.  I know he’s greatly missed by those who knew him.  Tomorrow would’ve been his 90th birthday.  I miss you Daddy.

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Forsaken

This week I’ve been talking about my new Word of the Year — “Cast,” and this word has already had a huge impact on me.  I’m drawn back to yet another recent devotion from Beth Moore.  See if you can spot what the word “cast” has to do with this particular devotion.  She was writing about Revelation 2:1-7:

You also possess endurance and have tolerated many things because of My name…But I have this against you:  you have abandoned the love you had at first (v. 3-4).

I am astonished to find that the original word for “forsaken” [abandoned] is the same word often translated “forgive” in the New Testament.  The word afiemi means “to send forth, send away, let go from oneself.”  The New Testament uses aphiemi in many contexts and simply means giving up or letting go of something, such as in the familiar words of Matthew 6:12 (KJV):  “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”

…The thought occurs to me how often we forsake our first love–our indescribably glorious sacred romance–because we refuse to forsake our grudges and grievances.  Please allow me to say this with as much compassion as one who has been there:  We cannot hang on to our sacred romance with Jesus Christ and also our bitterness.  We will release one to hang on to the other.

The room unforgiveness is taking up in your life is cheating you of the very thing you were born (again) to experience.  Send it forth!  Not into oblivion, but into the hands of the faithful and sovereign Judge of the earth.  –Beth Moore, Portraits of Devotion, pg. 478

Did you hear it?  Cast it away, send it forth, let go, forgive, abandon it, forsake, but don’t forsake your first love for the Lord Himself!  So this year I will be thinking about things I should cast away from life and about things I should cast upon the Lord’s shoulders.  And I’ll be thinking of things I should never cast away.  Please let me know if you’re following a certain word throughout 2017; I would love to hear from you!