An Open Door

Standard

Speaking from experience…

Serve the Lord in strength with what you may,
And be not fretful for another way,
The good works He assigned for you to do,
Before He said, "Light, be!" those deeds He knew.

You say, "I would do such and such for Him,
If He would open doors and show me in,
Great things I would accomplish for His fame,
If He would let me walk this rosy lane.

But in your haste to pound on bolted doors,
You waste your strength and think yourself so poor,
When all along, there stood an open stair,
But where it led, you willed not to go there.

'Tis better to descend the lowly stair,
And languish in the pit, if God be there,
For you may walk a thorny path of pain,
But if Christ leads there, you've everything to gain.
Advertisements

Inspired Confidence

Standard

In the old movie Bathing Beauty (1944) starring Red Skelton and Esther Williams, a eurhythmics instructor tells her dancers to carry themselves with a type of poise that she sums up with a mantra: “I have a secret; I am beautiful; I am beloved.” Although Skelton reduces her grand ideal to slapstick in his typical comic fashion, the motto itself is far from absurd. It captures, with reservations, a truth that really does inspire confidence.

“The Rehearsal of the Ballet Onstage” by Edgar Degas

In our humanistic society, people see confidence as a valuable trait. For example, many companies promote business practices that ‘empower’ their employees, and schools try to boost kids’ self-esteem, but that kind of confidence is easily shaken when circumstances or conditions change.

The only kind of personal confidence that can hold up under any kind of pressure is one that is based on an unchanging, unfaltering foundation. I don’t know any other foundation that fits these criteria except Jesus Christ Himself. In a saving relationship with Him, my life has poise for these reasons:

I have a secret: That I’m a coheir with Christ to an eternal inheritance that’s guaranteed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:11-14).

I am beautiful: Because God the Father chooses to see Christ’s righteous record where my sinful one used to be (2 Corinthians 5:21).

I am beloved: Because God’s beloved Son has made me one with Him (John 15:9, 10; 17:20-23).

So yes, that funny old mantra speaks truth. It can inspire a degree of temporary self-confidence when taken at face value, but when viewed through the lens of Scripture, it inspires lasting Christ-confidence.

The Reason to Celebrate

Standard

Happy Christmas to my readers! Today honors the day about 2000 years ago when the Son of God came to earth as a human being to deliver us from eternal condemnation. Through His sinless life, atoning death, triumphant resurrection, and glorious ascension to heaven, those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ are saved from their sins and declared innocent before God the righteous Judge. Reason to celebrate? Oh yeah.

Thanksgiving 2014

Standard

Eighty degrees and golden rays of sunshine. I keep thinking, pretty soon the weather will cool down and the holidays will be upon us — then I realize that I live in Southern California and the holiday season is almost halfway gone.  Another year has zipped by, and Thanksgiving will be officially over by the time I get this published.

The day started off well: no electronic beeping at 5:30 in the morning, no shuffling out to the kitchen with puffy eyes to turn on the electric kettle, no need to be anywhere at any particular time. I was going to get my eight hours without unnatural interruption, and 7:45 a.m. found me refreshed and ready to eat breakfast with my mom and sister, Katherine. We chatted over slices of Corner Bakery’s Cinnamon Creme Cake, enjoying the easy pace of the holiday.

As the rest of the house began to stir, we started to prepare for the day’s feast ….

Plenty going on in the kitchen all day — most of which I avoided (unless I was peering through the viewfinder of my camera). Let’s just say that my decorating skills are stronger than my cooking skills (or cooking ambition as the case may be), and I spent most of my time in the dining room setting the table.

Katherine cooking up a storm of potatoes, savory and sweet.

Deciding how to present the napkins is my favorite part of table arranging. Do I want them folded into little elf boots? Rolled inside a stem glass? This year I chose a simple flatware wrap garnished with homey red raffia, artificial leaves, and felt owl clips.

The final product (simple but fun):

 In between cooking and decorating, there’s always time for tea …

 … and goofing off with my big sis

 Living proof that being tied to someone’s apron strings doesn’t work out too well.

 Sister love.

 And the pies are done (check out that braided crust by Katherine)! Now, where’s the whipped cream?

 Our two friends, Sara and Amy, joined us for Thanksgiving and shared their superb family recipe for crescent rolls with us.

 As Sara said, only in California do you set dough outside to rise (it was warmer than in the house).

 Ninety-six of those puppies, and they probably won’t last the weekend.

 The crescent roll masters.

 Katherine tried a new seasoning on our carrots.

And here they are.

 

And finally, the main attraction!

 

Well, as I finish writing this, it’s certainly not Thanksgiving anymore (it’s almost 2:00 a.m. Friday morning). But giving thanks doesn’t end at midnight — it’s  something Christ calls us to practice every day, in every moment: “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV) and “giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20, ESV). Whether in trying times or happy times, let us come before the Lord with grateful hearts, knowing that in His Son, Jesus, He has given us everything we need.