It’s officially summer in Michigan. Next week the Peach Truck comes to the little town of Brooklyn, Michigan not far from here. That will be sweet.
Lois noticed that a bluebird has been sitting on her window sill and perching on the side-view mirror of her car for the last few days. In many cultures around the world and across time, and throughout popular culture, the appearance of a bluebird is taken as a sign of happiness. Believers in Jesus don’t need bluebirds to appear to rejoice in the Lord, but we welcome them with gladness. I was reading J. D. Vance’s book Hillbilly Elegy out on the porch on my day off when she came out and asked me with the excitement of a little girl to come and see the antics of her bluebird. Since our Jesus said, “Consider the birds of the air”, we gladly noted the visit of our bluebird out on Bittersweet. Last year a friend gave me a bluebird house. It was occupied by a persistent sparrow family last year but this summer I think our Bluebird of Happiness lives there.
Camp Speaking. I’m also happy to report that even though some Christian Camps had to close this summer a few a still able to welcome overnight guests. I have been invited to speak at two different camps this summer. I spend most of my time tending the flock at Bethel, but they have allowed me to travel and speak some, for which I am happy and grateful. It is refreshing for me and I hope I am a help to the campers and others who hear me speak and spend time with me on these ventures.
New Book Soon. It was sunny and cool on my walk this morning. Today I will not work in the study but I will write and read and putter and do a couple jobs for Lois. I sometimes want to work outdoors or just not inside so I will swing open the great door on the carriage house and work at a little table there on my laptop. I did that yesterday, finishing up some work on my new book of camp lessons: Between the Fires: How to Keep the Campfire Burning All Your Life.
In our media-saturated age we are flooded with stories every day everywhere we look, but most of them are not encouraging and you have to wonder how many of them are true and not “spin” of some kind. The stories I tell here are true and I aim to encourage. Here is my true and encouraging story for this week:
The Word for the Day
One of my earliest childhood memories was of memorizing the 23rd Psalm at bedtime. My mother had us repeat after her.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
I repeated the phrase, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Immediately my little mind recoiled. Why would I not want such a wonderful shepherd? I was confused. I asked my mother. She said “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want” actually means “Since the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.”
Kenneth Taylor paraphrased it that way in the Living Bible; “The Lord is my shepherd. He meets all my needs.”
Even as a tiny child at bedtime I immediately knew a shepherd like this is one you would absolutely want. Now as a man in his sixth decade of life I’m convinced to the point of deep personal conviction that when the Lord is your Shepherd he meets all your needs.
Friday I visited our oldest Bethel member in the home where she lives. Her name is Edith Ryan and she is a devout believer. She is 104 years old and for being over a century old she is pretty sharp. I talked to her about the things of the Lord. We talked about Bethel. She is always eager to hear a good word about Bethel. I always bring her a good word. Lately she has been talking about the return of Christ. She’s been hearing about what is going on the the world and she is thinking about going the be with the Lord or the Lord coming to get her.
I sing her songs and she sings along. She knows the words to all the oldies but goodies, the warm-hearted hymns and songs like What A Friend We Have in Jesus, Victory in Jesus, Sweet Hour of Prayer and such. She knows the scriptures. If I start them she can often finish them.
Not many years ago I decided that I was going to share less scripture on hospital calls and rest home visits…. Less is more was my thinking. If you are ill it is difficult to concentrate on a long passage. I stopped reading the longer readings and started seeking the direction of the Spirit for a “Word for the day” for whoever I was visiting.
On the way to the hospital one day I prayed for a “Word for the day” and John 14 came to mind. During the visit I said to the man, “I have a word for the day. You believe in God, believe also in me.”
That day the man moved from believing in God to trusting in Jesus. A few weeks later he went to heaven and I did his funeral.
With Edith I said, “The word for the day is ‘surely goodness and mercy shall follow me…’” I waited and she smiled and said with me, “…all the days of my life…”
“Amen,” I said, “The goodness of God and the mercy of God will follow us all the days of our lives…”
So far the goodness and mercy of God have followed Edith Ryan for over 38,000 days.
The Lord is my shepherd. He meets all my needs, including my need for mercy right up until the day the I go to be with Him or He comes to get me.
June 27, 2020