A great blessing in my life recently has been the reading of J.I. Packer’s book, Knowing God. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, as I was until a few months ago, this is one of those volumes that is so thoroughly packed with the glowing, vibrant truths of Scripture about the character of our God, that it is almost impossible to read more than a couple paragraphs in one setting. It is one of those books that I will need to read over and over again so that, by God’s grace, the beautiful realities it presents can be more fully grasped and integrated into my life. I would compare it to drinking out of a fire hydrant – catching as much water as I can handle with each effort to quench my thirst, but being nearly knocked over in the process.
For the past several days, I have been (wonderfully) “stuck” on this quote from chapter three, and wanted to share it with you with the hope that it will bless and challenge you equally as much.
“What matters supremely… is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it – the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of His hands. I am never out of His mind. All my knowledge of Him depends on His sustained initiative in knowing me. I know Him because He first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when His eye is off me, or His attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.”
May your heart rejoice today as you meditate on the settled truth of your Heavenly Father’s intimate love for and knowledge of you.
Look around you, at the individuality and uniqueness of each snow flake, the magnificent beauty of the trees upon which they fall, the splendor of the pure whiteness of the covered slopes, and see the Creator’s power. Then ponder… that you are known of Him. No painful circumstance, no mental doubt, no uncertain future, can change that fact. His eye is upon you, watching over you and guiding you with perfect wisdom, unfailing faithfulness, and tender compassion.
How precious also are they thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Psalm 139:17-18
But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands… Isaiah 49:14-16
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
Another year I enter
Its history unknown;
Oh, how my feet would tremble
To tread its paths alone!
But I have heard a whisper,
I know I shall be blest;
”My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest.”
What will the New Year bring me?
I may not, must not know;
Will it be love and rapture,
Or loneliness and woe?
Hush! Hush! I hear His whisper;
I surely shall be blest;
”My presence shall go with thee,
And I will give thee rest.”
-Unknown Author; found on a Christian Light Publications newsletter.
Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Matthew 6:25-26, 28-31, 33
Samuel was a blind boy. He had been away, and was now going home with his father. His father led him, and he walked along by his side. Presently, they came to a large brook; they heard it roaring before they came near.
His father said, “Samuel, I think there is a freshet.”*
“I think so, too,” said Samuel, “for I hear the water roaring.”
When they came in sight of the stream, his father said, “Yes, Samuel, there has been a great freshet, and the bridge is carried away.”
“And what shall we do now?” said Samuel.
“Why, we must go ‘round by the path through the woods.”
“That will be bad for me,” said Samuel.
“But I will lead you,” said his father, “all the way; just trust everything to me.”
“Yes, father,” said Samuel, “I will.
So his father took a string out of his pocket and gave one end of it to Samuel. “There, Samuel,” he said, “take hold of that, and it will guide you; and walk directly after me.”
After they had walked a short distance, he said, “Father, I wish you would let me take hold of your hand.”
“But you said,” replied his father, “that you would trust everything to me.”
“So I will, father,” said Samuel, “but I do wish you would let me take hold of your hand instead of this string.”
“Very well,” said his father. “You may try your way.” So Samuel came and took hold of his father’s hand, and tried to walk along by his father’s side. But the path was narrow; there was not room for more than one, and though his father walked as far on one side as possible, yet Samuel had not room enough. The branches scratched his face, and he stumbled continually upon roots and stones.
At length he said, “Father, you know best. I will take hold of the string and walk behind.” So after that he was patient and submissive, and followed his father wherever he led. After a time, his father saw a serpent in the road directly before them. So he turned aside, to go round by a compass, or a round about way, in the woods. But the compass was rough and stony. Presently, Samuel stopped and said, “Father, it seems pretty stony; haven’t we gotten off the path?”
“Yes,” said his father, “but you promised to be patient and submissive, and trust everything to me.”
“Well, father,” said Samuel, “you know best, and I will follow.” So he walked on again. When they had gone safely around the serpent, his father told him why he had led him off the road.
And so, when God leads us in a difficult way that we don’t understand at the time, we sometimes see the reason for it afterwards.
By and by, his father came within the sound of the brook again, and stopped a minute or two, and then he told Samuel that he should have to leave him a short time, and that he might sit down upon a log and wait until he came back. “But, Father,” said Samuel, “I don’t want to be left alone here in the woods, in the dark.”
“It is not dark,” said his father.
“It is all dark to me,” said Samuel.
“I know it is,” said his father, “and I am very sorry; but you promised to leave everything to me, and be obedient and submissive.”
“So I will, father; you know best, and I will do just as you say.” So Samuel sat down upon a log, and his father went away. He was a little terrified by the solitude, and the darkness, and the roaring of the water; but he trusted his father, and was still.
By and by, he heard a noise as of something heavy falling into the water. He was frightened, for he thought it was his father. But it was not his father; it was only the end of the stem of a small tree, which Samuel’s father was trying to fix across the brook, so that he could lead his blind boy over. It was lying upon the ground, and he took it and raised it upon its end near the edge of the bank on one side, and then let it fall over, in hopes that the other end would fall upon the opposite bank. But it did not happen to fall straight across, and so the end fell into the water—and this was the noise that Samuel heard. He drew the stick back again, and then contrived to raise it upon its end once more; and this time he was more successful. It fell across, and so extended from bank to bank. In a few minutes, he succeeded in getting another by its side, and then he came back to Samuel.
“Samuel,” he said, “I have built a bridge.”
“A bridge!” said Samuel.
“Yes,” he said, “a sort of a bridge; and now I am going to try to lead you over.”
“But, father, I am afraid.”
And his father replied, “You said you would trust yourself entirely to me, and go wherever I should say.”
“Well, father,” said Samuel, “I will. You know best, after all.” So Samuel took hold of his father’s hand, and with slow and very careful steps, he walked over the roaring torrent; they soon came out into a broad, smooth road, and returned safely home.
This story is an excerpt from a charming and character building child’s tale titled “Caleb in the Country,” written by Jacob Abbott and produced in reprint by Lamplighter Publishing.
What a blessing it was to journey northward a few weeks ago to take part in the Gen2 Conference! Hosted by Generations with Vision (taking place at the Creation Museum), this conference focused on the millennial generation and why a large percentage of it is walking away from the faith.
Sweet fellowship with many dear friends —
The sessions, presented by Kevin Swanson, Daniel Craig, Ken Ham, Rick Boyer, Norm Wakefield, Brian Ray, Woody Robertson, Israel Wayne, and many others, left us challenged and encouraged. May we each, in the coming days, not only reject the apostasy that is sweeping our culture, but continue pressing onward in the strength of the LORD, seeking His grace, and pursuing lives of godliness for His glory and the expansion of His Kingdom.
An added joy was that Matthew & Amanda were able to join us for the weekend! We treasured the opportunity to minister in song a couple of times throughout the conference, and having them there to participate with us again blessed us immensely.
Other snapshots —
Special thanks to Sarah Bryant for the use of her photos!
A humble spirit is something that everyone, including myself, needs every day. If I have my focus where it needs to be – on Christ, the perfect example of humility – then I am less apt to have a proud spirit, and more likely to have a day full of joy. On the other hand, if I am proud, then I will probably, at some point, end up grumpy, and struggle much throughout the day.
Here are some questions that I have found helpful to ask myself when I am struggling:
1. “Am I having a hard time because someone is not doing something I think they should? Can I not fully trust God with this circumstance in my life?” God says to rest in Him, and it takes humility to do so, knowing that He does indeed know best in every situation.
2. “Do I have a bad attitude because I am not submitting to the Lord?” Your day will continue on in a bad way, unless you are willing to have a humble spirit, and submit whatever is irritating you to your Lord. “… God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” James 1:4
3. “Have I done something wrong that I have not confessed?” Keeping sin in your life is evidence of pride, but confessing your wrong-doing to the person you offended, and to the Lord, can put your day back on the right track and will bring true joy to your heart. With no sin burdening you down you can continue on singing and praising the Lord. “O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise…” Psalm 108:1
4. “Is this conflict because of pride in my life?” Dr. S.M. Davis once said, “There is not contention without pride.” We cannot bring honor and glory to our God if we are proud about something we have accomplished, and often that kind of pride creates contention with those around us. We must get our focus off of ourselves, and onto Christ and what He has accomplished. May we continually be praising Him. “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good: for His mercy endureth forever.” Psalm 106:1
The trusting heart to Jesus clings,
Nor any ill forebodes,
But at the cross of Calv’ry, sings,
Praise God for lifted loads!
Singing I go along life’s road,
Praising the Lord, Praising the Lord,
Singing I go along life’s road,
For Jesus has lifted my load.
The passing days bring many cares,
“Fear not,” I hear Him say,
And when my fears are turned to prayers,
The burdens slip away.
He tells me of my Father’s love,
And never slumb’ring eye,
My everlasting King above
Will all my needs supply.
When to the throne of grace I flee,
I find His promise true,
The mighty arms upholding me
Will bear my burdens too.
Lyrics by Eliza E. Hewitt
For the past several months, I have been dealing with some health issues. It is physically hard at times, and often I have wondered why God put these problems into my life. Then, as I read God’s “love letter” to me, I was reminded that these are not problems, but plans that He has for me. “God meant it unto [me for] good…” Then He brought back to memory 2 Corinthians 12:9 which says, “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Every day, I have a decision to make. Will I become discouraged and downhearted because of things that are really my Father’s perfect plan for me, or will I rejoice that He has chosen me to fulfill whatever purpose that He has in mind? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
I am not capable of bearing this alone. Thus God sent me another note telling me to cast my burdens on Him and He will sustain me (Psalm 55:22). What a joy it is to give the King of all, my little burden, knowing that he will take care of me!
Now I can sing with all my heart “Jesus has lifted my load” for “the mighty arms upholding me will bear my burdens too!”
Today is a work day around here. As the end of January rapidly approaches, we are all frantically (well, maybe not… we really are trying hard to be graceful about it all ) scrambling to accomplish many of the goals and projects that we assigned to ourselves this month.
And this is such a perfect day to do it! The LORD has blessed with lovely sunshine today and after a good night’s rest, we are all feeling quite energetic.
Particularly two of us.
Mom and I were in the kitchen a few minutes ago, working on various projects such as canning chicken broth and dried beans (separately, I might add… lest you think we were canning soup), catching up on communications, organizing some paperwork for our music studio, cutting out fabric for some Thera-pit-ic pacs, etc. A few of the younger girls prepared a snack for everyone, and so in came the crew that has been working outside.
Now, for those of you who are unaware of this little family fact, before proceeding with my story, I first have to let you know that we had six girls before we had our first little man. Then two more precious little girls, and the LORD topped it all off with another little man. Each one of my siblings is a precious blessing from the LORD, but today… it is the two little men I will focus on.
Anyway, the work crew came in to enjoy their little snack. Now, being a lady, my mental processes unconsciously run something along the lines of “when someone has been working outside all morning and into the afternoon in the chilly weather, hanging insulation, moving heavy objects, etc., they will be tired.”
I guess my mental assumption is probably correct for most ladies.
For my dear brothers, it is most certainly NOT.
As these precious guys gave us the pleasure of their presence in the house, just a step back to observe them made Mom and I both laugh. Jumping up and down… coming sliding, almost diving, into the kitchen when asked to come carry canning boxes to the basement, and then literally bounding back up the stairs after the job was complete… eagerly chattering about the importance of putting electrical tape over the band-aid on your finger when you cut yourself because the tape is more waterproof and keeps the band-aid from sliding off… and on and on.
They certainly didn’t come in quietly and sit down, lean back a bit in their chairs, relax… after hours of hard physical labor, their energy stores appeared entirely untapped!
Energy… they are just bursting with it.
And what a beautiful thing! These little men (one of them, not so little anymore… since he is stronger than I am and knows the minute details about a host of things that just leave me in bewildered amazement) are preparing for the day when they will lead their own homes.
They will need that extra energy to work all day to provide for their families and then come home, have a wrestling match on the floor with their own little men, and then talk late into the night with their brides.
They will need it when they are called upon to stand for Christ in the public arena.
They will need it when they have to take dominion of farmland, complex technical issues, building projects, etc.
They will need it when they must rise up yet again at some unearthly hour to minister to someone that is hurting or needy.
They are men in development…
and I have the blessed privilege – particularly in this phase of life, when they are so near to me – of watching the process.
It truly is a marvel… and one for which I am immensely grateful.
On New Year’s Day we were able to go back to Colonial Williamsburg with all three of our dear Wilkes Teams. We had such a great time there learning history together.
I enjoyed touring the magazine. It was amazing to hear how they fired the different kinds of cannons.
I also enjoyed touring the Art Museum. The hand-sewn quilts were amazing.
Earlier in the day, we also heard actors, pretending to be George and Martha Washington, speak! I thought it was interesting how they (the actors) could pretend to be back in the 1700’s; it sounded so real.
After our delightful day together, we all ate dinner at Cracker Barrel. The fellowship was very sweet and we look forward to the next time we get to visit Williamsburg again with them!
What a perfect way to start 2015!
It was a very special Christmas this year! An added blessing was to be with my niece on her first Christmas! We all had a great time together.
Dad and Mom gave us all vests to match in. They are filled with tiny feathers, and so some of them can fold up into little bitty bags. (Stuffing a huge, fluffy vest into a tiny little pouch, making it look like a pillow, is very fun!) We had a lot of laughter when we discovered that!
Another favorite gift was a canvas that we kids gave to Dad and Mom – it was a picture of all of us on the beach from this past fall!
I am very grateful for the sweet time we all had together. God is so good.