Escaping the Cage

When He said these things He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus come forth!” The man who had died came out, His hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth, Jesus said to them, “Unbind him and let him go.” John 11:43-44

Once we had a very active ground hog who had decided to build his home right in the middle of my perennial garden. No amount of filling in the burrow or chasing him off made any impact. Finally I set a large cage trap just outside the entrance to his home and the following morning he was caught.

Then I carefully loaded the cage into the back of my pickup and drove him a mile up the road to a wooded area. Pulling off to the side of the farm road I gently lifted the cage with one very unhappy groundhog in it and placed it on the ground. Next, I undid the catch and opened the door to my little friend’s prison. All the while I was working to free the groundhog, he was angrily lunging at the opposite end of the trap even biting the wires of the cage. No amount of coaxing on my part seemed able to persuade Mr. Groundhog, that all he needed to do was to turn around and run out of the open door. While I still chuckle at the memory of my little furry friend, I wonder how many of us are caught in the same trap. Jesus has paid for the opening of the door to our prison of sin, yet many times we never notice because we are still biting at the walls of the cage trying to get even with folks that have hurt us. But just as Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave, He is calling us to turn away from sin and bitterness and fly free into a new life with Him!

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Angels Unaware

 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.  Hebrews 13:2 ESV

Years ago, I came across the wonderful book titled – Angels Unaware by Dale Evans Rogers. She wrote of the life lessons she had learned from their daughter Robin who was born with Down’s Syndrome. Being one of those “Old guys” I am fairly sure that the younger generation has never heard of this book or maybe don’t even know who Dale Evans is! That story of the lessons that Dale learned while Robin was here on earth, remind me of the lessons I am learning each week as I visit with Don and Lorna. For those on the outside of nursing home ministry, it may seem a sacrifice or a good deed to visit with those in long term care. But God actually has quite the opposite in mind.

While Lorna was off in her physical rehab yesterday, Don and I sat together and visited in the cafeteria. Don quietly mentioned. “This morning when the aide came in our room, I thought she seemed very cold and all business. But as she helped Lorna get ready for the day, she began to tell us about her life. She was going to have a baby and was facing having to bring it into the world without the father. She was also the only one on duty for our entire wing and was doing the best that she could that day. That made me see just how kind she was being to us.”

When was the last time, we stopped to talk to the people who wait on us at the restaurant, mow our grass or ring up our groceries? Are we more concerned that they missed a corner of the lawn, or forgot to refill our coffee cup than in how their day is going? Precious saints like Don and Lorna carry the accumulated blessings and wisdom of their years of walking with Jesus. What a blessing we miss when we just stay home. But if we go to sit with them and just listen, we might come away amazed at what these angels unaware can teach us!

I love this song by Steffany Gretzinger and it tells a bit of the story of the kindest and most caring friend of all. May you each be blessed and remember to entertain angels of all kinds today!

God’s 3-Peace Suit

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. Psalm 23:1-2 KJV

On arriving at Life Care Center on Friday, I was elated to learn that the Covid restrictions which had kept the dining room closed to our meeting had been lifted. Though that was great news both for me and the residents, it did leave me without my standard preparation for a nursing home service. You see, over the last five weeks, I had simply played a couple of hymns and prayed with people as I was escorted from one private room to another. Now I stood in the front, with no Bible or even a short message prepared.

So, I shot up a short, but sincere prayer, “What do I do?”, then opened my guitar case, smiled and greeted our little flock. As He has done so many times before the Lord reminded me that He had sent me to the nursing home, not because of anything amazing about myself, but because of His amazing love for them. Then as the song portion of our service came to an end, I began to share a simple message from one of the only chapters of the Bible I know by heart: Psalm 23. I call this God’s 3-Peace suit.

The first peace is like the trousers of a suit, because it is the first to go one. This is the peace of the blessings of green pastures. This is the peace most of us like the best. Blue skies, sunny days and a peaceful quiet place in life. “It doesn’t get any better than this!” we exclaim. But wait there’s more! Oh yes, there is so much more to God’s peace than this place.

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 KJV

This second peace of the suit is our vest and says, that we are getting ready for a serious occasion. The funny thing about the second peace is that we forget about it until we need it. It’s like going out for a walk on the first cold day of winter. One step out the door, and as the chilly wind pierces through our summer clothes, we run back inside to grab our jacket. In the darkness of the valley, God gives us His comfort, and we discover a peace far deeper than the one we had in that green pasture. In the middle of our problems, God gives us this second peace of His suit which the world can’t give us and it certainly will never be able to take away.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever! Psalm 23:6 KJV

The third peace of God’s suit is like the jacket, and God has saved His best for last. At the end of our faith journey, we come to the place that Jesus has prepared for us. This is far better than a mansion over the hilltop. It is a room in His Father’s house which is waiting for us. There we will get to experience His amazing peace and His loving presence in green pastures and at banqueting tables for all eternity! Now that is a 3-peace suit worth living for!

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