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That Wonderful Wink

So last week Tony got ahold of my blog and before I could send it, he added the teaser, “Wait till next week to find out what happened at church”.

Well, it’s been 50+ years, so I had to ask him, “What happened at church?”

And then he winked at me.

Oh!  Now I remember!!

I saw him for the first time at his parents’ house.  We were 17 and 19 and his folks were the youth directors of our tiny little youth group. They were so cool we had ’Training Union’ at their house before church!!  I was vaguely aware that they had a son, but to hear them talk, he was off at war or something.  Actually, he was touring Europe with a bunch of students, including a girlfriend, for the summer.  He had graduated from high school the year before but somehow had qualified to go.

And then, when I walked into their living room, there he was, back from the ‘war’. I was introduced and we had our Bible study.  From there we all jumped into our individual cars and proceeded on to the evening service at church, as you did back in the day.

And so when I walked into the sanctuary, I didn’t notice him till I turned my head, and there he was, sitting in the “Choir”.  I use the term loosely because it consisted of the 8 or 10 people who could actually carry a tune. I don’t remember them ever doing a special number or anything, and certainly never at night, but there he sat, facing our congregation of about 30.

“Wonderful”, I thought as I settled into my seat,  “Now I can take my time and get a good look at him during the sermon.”

To catch you up to speed in my life, I had just finished my Junior year of High school, He had just finished his Freshman year at college.

So I got comfortable and began my feast.  That was until this smiling guy, ostensibly looking off into the distance, WINKED at me!

I was mortified.  I left the service the minute it was over and didn’t hear another thing from him…..for…..OK, well, until about 3 days later, when he (at the urging of both my sister and his mother) called and asked me for a date.  We never mentioned the ‘Wink’ again……

Years later, long after we were married, he told me the truth.  “If you’d have winked back I would have run for the hills,” he said. “But because you blushed red and avoided me, I knew there was a purity and innocence I was interested in pursuing.”

Last Sunday we attended an annual “Hymn Sing” at a local church.  We may have been the youngest there, but we had to admit we’re not that young since we knew all the hymns!

And then they played (as a special) that old song, “I’ll walk with God”.  Tony and I both got goosebumps and teared up at the same time as we listened to the words.  On the way home we tried to remember why this song was so important.

You guessed it, the next morning, I got out our old and faded wedding album and there it was.  It was the song, sung by a talented and booming baritone, that was used for us to light our one candle.

I’ll put the words here in case you want to remember them.  I can’t believe that at our young age we had such mature thoughts.

I’ll walk with God from this day on

His helping hand, I’ll lean upon

This is my prayer, my humble plea

May the Lord be ever with me

There is no death, though eyes grow dim

There is no fear when I’m near to Him

I’ll lean on Him forever

And He’ll forsake me never

He will not fail me

As long as my faith is strong

Whatever road I may walk along

I’ll walk with God, I’ll take His hand

I’ll talk with God, He’ll understand

I’ll pray to Him, each day to Him

And He’ll hear the words that I say

His hand will guide my throne and rod

And I’ll never walk alone

While I walk with God

Every one of those words have played true in our lives.  Maybe it’s because the both of us were so shy and naive.

Sorry we put the wrong address for the website blog last week. It’s marshawoods.blogspot.com (No middle letter G).

Keep on Walkin!

Marsha

Location Location

Today I’m happy to announce that it looks like many of you made the change of address to the new Blog apparently seamlessly.  I believe now you can make comments so have fun with that! marshagwoods.blogspot.com

I promised you that for the next little while I’m going to give you some excerpts from our upcoming book, Weaving Sunlight. This is not shameless advertising, and you don’t even need to buy a copy. Basically we wrote it to ourselves so that we could see what God has done in our lives these last 50 years! Tony has a favorite song that he’s planning to sing at our anniversary celebration, by Andrew Peterson called “Dancin in the Minefields”. There’s one part where he still can’t get through without choking up, I suppose because it’s just a little too close to home. The words go, “At the end of all my faith, to end of all my days, when I forget my name … remind me.”

Weaving Sunlight was written as a reminder of the times we’re apt to forget as we get older. And to do that, we have to back to where it all started: at church. That’s where we first met, Evergreen Baptist Church, in Colorado. There we got to know each other, became friends, fell in love, were called to ministry, and eventually got married.

In the years since that time, the church moved (and when I say “moved” I mean they jacked it up and drug it) to another site a few miles away. The Post Office bought the land where it had sat, and I still can’t go in there without feeling something a little more meaningful than buying a stamp.

But I know, as I’m sure you know as well, the Church, for us, is not that bit of dirt under the post office, nor is the building we drug off and renovated. No, it’s much more than that, and looking back over 50 years, it’s even more than we’ve come to imagine.

Our kids grew up in church, whether the building was in America, Africa, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand or Australia. We used to tell them, “Unless you’re on fire, you’re going to church today.” They laugh about that today, but back when they were kids, they never were sure if we were serious or not. But they went to church, made friends at church, found Christ at church and each in their own way, got married in church. When we lived in Japan where earthquakes are common, we told our kids, “If you’re away from home and an earthquake stops everything, find a church, go there and wait. We’ll find you.”

It’s such an encouragement to see them carrying those values on to the next generation. Granted, going to a worship service in their churches is quite unlike what we grew up with, especially in terms of music. But we can still see the family atmosphere where they worship, and in their own way, they’re still making memories that one of these days they will choose to write about.

I suspect you have your own idea about what the Church today should and should not be like. It took an elderly deacon to remind a pastor friend of ours that “The church is not a coffee shop!” But in the pastor’s defense, I believe he still wants the church to be a place where family can gather, worship and grow in the Lord; and if a cup of coffee can help in that process, it can’t be all bad.

Phillip Yancey, renowned Christian author, is said to have come back to Jesus in a church in my childhood neighborhood in Evergreen.  I remember it well because my mother was incensed that they served coffee and donuts in the lobby before the services. She thought the whole lot of them should go where the coffee would be eternally boiling, and all I wanted was to go there and get a free donut.

Sadly, our church had no free coffee and donuts. It was more like Garrison Keillor’s imaginary church in Minnesota, “The Church of our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility”. But that was the era of the church I grew up in. And whether you’re looking at the Church back then or the Church today, I can still insist that, “Good things happen in church.”

Next time, I’ll share with you the mind-blowing thing that happened at Evergreen Church that would determine our destiny as man and wife.

Until then, see you at church!

Marsha

Changes Coming

Today I’m going to make some announcements about change, (see below), but first I thought you might enjoy a Facebook post I made five years ago.  There’s nothing spiritual about it so apologies to those of you who are sharing this in Sunday school.  It does involve a meeting we had with fellow missionaries in Tokyo, and the outcome.

Here goes:

Last night we met with the Posse as we do every week. This time we chose a new watering hole in the classy area of Shinjuku called “St Marcs Choco Croux”.  While I don’t usually trust those Frenchy trappers, it looked glittery and inviting.  We bellied up to the bar, jawed and knocked back coffee for hours.  Someone suggested trying the hot dogs…

Long after sundown we all yawned and said goodbye, split up, mounted our ponies and started across the wild badlands back to our shack.  We said goodbye to our deputy friend as he boarded the stage coach.

Well, I guess he’s some kind of greenhorn because turns out, he had to stop the stage and leap off, barely managing to do so before he tossed his cookies.  We however, got well on our way before the rumblings began and we spurred our mounts toward safety.

All night in the full moon we jockeyed for time in the one holer:  one ‘doing their business’ and the other one outside dancing in the moonlight.

Now almost 24 hours have passed.  We’re propped up against a tree wondering who’ll poke the signal fire.  Tony did decide to go for help this morning, but his horse got one sniff of him and wouldn’t let him ride, so he crawled back to the ditch.

Sometime last night I even hallucinated that I was back on that old ranch called Bangkok, but no, this is the modern, high tech spread called Tokyo.  Who’d imagine that the snake-eyed varmint called “food poisoning” could have snuck in the door!

Next week we’re going to watch our backs

And this time I’m going to skip the hotdogs and go for Chocolate!

And now for the announcements.  We are ONE MONTH away from our 50th Wedding Anniversary!  I remember sewing a wedding dress for a young girl when I had been married only 2 or 3 years.  She intimated to me that she wasn’t sure about her upcoming wedding; after all, she said, “FIFTY years is such a long time!”  I wondered at the time how she could not be looking forward to that prospect here at the beginning, but I just kept sewing……. sometimes I wonder whatever happened to her.

And now we’ve raced thru our lives and here we stand, one month away from a goal that has almost never been achieved in our family….. of course, we understand that this has been completely by God’s good grace.

And so if ‘The Good Lord’s willing and the Creek don’t rise’  (you know that phrase originated from the tenuous peace the settlers had with the Creek Indians), we’ll be sharing some excerpts from our upcoming book, “Weaving Sunlight” for the next month or so.

But the important news is also that we are MOVING THE BLOG SITE for those of you who read this online .  From next week on (and even this week), we’ll be located at marshawoods.blogspot.com Hope you’ll follow me as we transition over!

God bless you all and let’s keep enjoying the journey together!

Marsha

Drop Your Arms

I came across an interesting passage in the Bible this morning.

But let me digress; these last few weeks have been a bit “weird”, to say the least.  Not physically, but mentally.  As it turns out, I had my yearly scheduled birthday, bringing me one year from the Big Decade that I’ve been anticipating with both thankfulness and dread for these last nine years.

If that wasn’t enough of a downer on the “life is mortal” theme, my brother-in-law has been quite ill, even to the point of having to cancel a world class cruise/trip that he and my sister were looking forward to taking.

But wait, there’s more.  Dispersed thru this “enough trouble” was a particularly nasty family feud.  I thanked God daily that it wasn’t in MY immediate family, but it is in a sense, since it’s my extended family.  I’ll spare you the details, you can probably just fill in the blanks with someone from your own family.  The point was, we just kept scratching our heads at each new development and saying, “You’ve got to be kidding!”

So you could say things haven’t been all roses around here.

But then, I came across this verse in the Book of Job.  Actually reading Oswald Chambers this morning directed it to my attention, and caused me to remember that I’ve walked thru much darker days than what we’ve been experiencing now.

Job 42:10 says this,  After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before.”

When our son lay dying, people would come up to me with all kinds of condolences.  They would say things like, “Oh I lost a child when I was pregnant and I know just how you feel”; or “My 5 yr-old died, and I can tell you all about how your should feel. You know, those sorts of ‘helpful comments’ that are not always so helpful.   I think I managed to remain polite to these dear friends, but what I really wanted was to punch them in the face. I felt that they had absolutely NO idea of how this was for me, and for them to smile and suggest they ‘knew’ what was going on in the innermost reaches of my heart just resulted in twisting my hurting soul in a way that made me mad.

I think Job must have gritted his teeth more than once when his ‘friends’ tried to help, first by consoling him and then pointing out what he might have done wrong.  And then in the early verses of Job, chapter 42, God is telling Job’s friends that He’s going to cause Job to pray for THEM because of their poor advice, and they had better be thankful.

And (I believe) God worked in Job’s heart so that he could actually turn around and do just that; pray for his friends. The reason I believe God worked in Job’s heart is because I know He once worked in mine.

After Trevor died, the day came when we returned to Japan and to our home, to the place we had left over a year earlier with so much joy and anticipation. Going through Trevor’s room and seeing everything he had set up so carefully for his return just brought the grief back all the more.

I had hardly begun the process of packing up his room when the phone rang. It was a Japanese friend. Without even a greeting, she said, “My son died the day he was born.”  That’s all she said, and what I felt that moment surprised me.  I actually felt SORRY for her!  Why?  Because she didn’t have 16 wonderful years with her son like I did.

You see, God changed my heart there somewhere.  He took away my anger and feelings of injustice and made me a little bit nicer again.

Feeling that rather unknown twinge of pity for someone else, I knew then that I was going to get well. That old feeling, long neglected, of reaching out beyond myself made me feel alive and loved again. And I knew then and there that eventually I could get well.

And thankfully, God is doing something similar in that family “situation” I mentioned above. So we’re all breathing a sigh of relief, thanking God that He can and still does step into peoples’ lives and lead them to sensibility.

He did it for Job and his friends; He did it for me. He’ll do it for you. The first step is often the hardest. Stop clutching yourself for comfort, drop your arms, then lift them toward someone who needs you. Pray for that person, invest yourself in someone else’s needs, and miraculously you’ll find your own being taken care of as well.

Love ya like a sister,

Marsha

Lettuce

A couple of weeks ago Tony and I were asked to provide dinner for our young people at a church gathering.

I had a little flashback to my own youth and a time when we had all that energy…..

We had a youth director in our little church.  I was in high school.  He was a married man with a wife and some kids.  I think he had a furniture store or something.  The reason I don’t know more about him is because, well, he was euh, OLD!  like 35 or something!!

But he was always ‘around’ for us.  Every week he taught us an extremely boring Wednesday night Bible Study, and I can’t remember a single thing about it………except that during it, God spoke to me in a tangible way about giving my life to Full time Christian Service.  I did that in one of his Bible Studies at age 17.

Back to the present, as we cooked and slaved for the kids, we got more and more tired, and wanted to sit down but it was time to get to the business of dishing up to 50 smiling faces, oohing and awwing about “American Chili”.  I was smiling on the outside and accepting their heart felt thanks, but truth be known, all I could really think was that my feet hurt and my back was about to go out!

And then I remembered “Old” Emerson.  I remember once my girlfriend  and I came by his house unannounced with Tony in tow.  He lived in another state and was a virtual unknown, but he was visiting me and we felt that he was good enough to show off to a person that I considered important enough to be in on the adventure.

There was nothing in Emerson’s house to eat, his wife and kids were at a sports event or something, but the 4 of us gathered around the kitchen and talked and laughed for an hour, sharing a head of lettuce.

This man was no flash in the pan.  He had little to offer……..except himself.  And God used him mightily.

I think the next time they ask us to feed the teens, we will, even if we drag home and are bathed and in bed at nine!

What If?

Today is Pentecost Sunday.

And as we continue with the ‘report’ on our recent trip to the Holy Land, I’d like to take you now to the Upper Room.

Of course anyone within earshot of the Woods’ household can’t talk about that without recalling Tony’s latest discipleship course, Anagaion, which is Greek for “Upper Room” a word found in several verses in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts.

You’ll remember that’s where Jesus did some of His finest teaching, first during Passover and then, in the six weeks following the Resurrection and leading up to Pentecost.  What a significant place! Shared fellowship, shared worship, new teaching, culminating in one of the most unforgettable experiences ever: the coming of God’s Holy Spirit. It is in this place (also known as the Cynacle) that the personalities of many of the disciples were revealed: Peter’s denial, Thomas’ doubt, Judas’ betrayal.

So we had a chance to walk up to and through this holy place, and even though it’s gone through several “renovations” over the centuries, it’s impossible to enter without feeling the significance of the room. Christians are not alone, in fact, since the Cynacle is also considered sacred by both Muslims and Jews, but for different reasons.

As we gathered together in the somewhat smallish room, we realized at once that the acoustics are fantastic, making even a poor singer sound beautiful.  I wonder if that’s why the disciples were led to “sing a hymn” before they left the place that evening of the Last Supper. (Matthew 26:30)?

Then, in Acts, chapter 2, we see the disciples waiting as they had been commanded, when suddenly (verse 2), there was a sound like “the rush of a violent wind” followed by tongues of fire and a very audible time of worship that led those nearby to conclude that the guys were drunk (At 9:00 in the morning, no less)! But after an explanation by the Apostle Peter, many turned to Christ and more than three thousand were baptized as a result.

Standing in that room, remembering all that had happened there, we just couldn’t resist the temptation to sing, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost”. Immediately the whole room was filled with the sounds of the Doxology as everyone joined in. And apparently that’s okay with the caretakers of the Cynacle.

But there are two rules that are strictly enforced to all three religions who share the room.   No one is allowed to make any structural changes to the room, as that might give one religion a sense of more status.  The government of Israel is in charge of doing all maintenance.

We were told that breaking the second and even more important rule would result in our being evicted from the premise. That rule? While you can teach, sing or eat, no one, but No one, is allowed to pray.

We were not told exactly why this rule exists; only that it does.  I think it probably has something to do with the fact that the place is held in such reverence by all three World Religions, and somehow to pull in exhortations to a favored god might result in repercussions from the other two.

But I find the unspoken question most telling: What might happen if people prayed there?

Now, I’m not gathering support for an international prayer team to go storm the place, because in fact I have no doubt that a lot of silent prayers have gone up from the confines of that room, in spite of what the rules say. I know mine did.

But the question is relevant on this special Sunday, and it’s one I want to leave with you, wherever you happen to be today:

What might happen if people prayed here?  What might happen if people prayed anywhere?

Hoping ya’ll have a great and exciting Sunday!

Marsha

Where do we turn?

This morning I was reading a passage from John’s Gospel, 6:67.

If you’re familiar with that, you’ll remember that Jesus and the disciples had just crossed over the Sea of Galilee (with Jesus walking part of the way, I might add), and landed at Capernaum. This was the home of Peter and his family, and it looks like Jesus stayed there often during His three-year ministry.   You might recall that Jesus cursed the city, along with Chorazin and Bethsaida for their refusal to accept His message. We visited there recently and I can tell you, except for some ruins of the synagogue, and a monument built over Peter’s house, the city’s gone.   Chorazin is in ruins and no one’s even quite sure where Bethsaida is today. What Jesus says… happens.

Anyway, here’s the verse I was talking about:  He had just been explaining to the crowds about the cost of discipleship and many people had turned away, deciding to not follow Him anymore. That had to be discouraging, even to the Son of God, so here’s what He says, beginning with John 6:67,

So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’”

When I read that this morning, I flashed back to a cold day in February, 1992 when our son Trevor lay dying. In a hospital corridor where I’d stepped out for a breather, I growled under my breath at God, “Lord, if you let Trevor die, I won’t believe in You anymore!”

Before the words were even out of my mouth I had to laugh at myself, even though it wasn’t very funny at all. Because immediately I sensed God’s voice, loud and clear, coming from the depths of my heart. The words sounded something like, “Oh great, so you lose your son AND your God! That’ll really help.”

This is why Peter’s words resonate so well with me.  “Lord, to whom would we go?  You have the words that give eternal life.” It just seems so sad, and yet so frequent in our lives that, when things seem at their darkest, we start throwing things overboard, often starting with those things we need the most.

This week we’re dealing with some health-related conundrums with our extended family.  It’s frustrating when we don’t have any easy answers; and it’s tempting to start casting around for alternatives to the things we need the most, like prayer. There’s a world of advice out there, and some of it might be good. But we’ve got to remember Whose we are, and run all those things past Him first. “To whom would we go?” Indeed.

Jesus has the “words that give eternal life”, after all is said and done. We DO appreciate your prayers, and we DO take great joy in knowing that it’s all still very much in His Hands.

Cheerio!  And don’t forget Who’s in control!

PS,  In God’s sovereignty, He DID let Trevor die, and we DID survive, only because we KNEW He had us all, then and now, in His Heart.

Marsha

Think on These Things

This morning at church, Tony spoke from Philippians 4:8, and that took me back to I time I heard my Daddy quote it in a way I’ll never forget.

So, my Daddy was a scientist. As with most cerebral people, it goes without saying that he was a quiet man by nature.  True to his job, he didn’t deal with emotions very much, but he carried a slide rule in his pocket (you younger folks may have to Google that) and he could whip out an impossible calculation without any effort at all.

That’s not to say he didn’t love and cherish me.  Somehow I got that, but I knew also that he wasn’t the one to run to for the cuddles or the ooh’s and ahh’s.

So imagine my surprise one day when I overheard him teaching a Sunday School class (not sure if Google will help you here).  I was about 8 or 9 and our church’s sanctuary … yes, it was a “sanctuary” back then and not an auditorium; but I won’t go there … anyway, at precisely 9:45, before the 10:30 Worship, it became the Sunday School for the entire church, children and adults alike, thanks to a few well-placed fabric dividers. We couldn’t see each other, but with a little “selective listening”, you could certainly hear everything.

So let’s ‘flash back’ a bit.  The reason I was sitting in this ‘Sunday School’ class in Evergreen, Colorado was that, even though I was being raised in a Christian home, my Daddy had a past.

During the war, he, the oldest of 4 boys to a widowed mother, went off to do his duty. As per his personality, he carried a lot of burden and responsibility both for himself and the family, and now for his country.   As he left that night, he commissioned his next younger brother to “watch over” his fiancée in his absence.

Now you’ve probably watched enough television soap operas to guess what happened.  When Daddy came home after faithfully serving his country, he was met by his brother, and his brother’s new wife;……the same girl who, when Daddy  left home, had been his fiancée.

Fortunately, he didn’t even have to unpack his duffel bag before he headed out that same night, heading thousands of miles away to finally arrive in Colorado.

Years passed, he married, and I came along.  That Sunday morning in Evergreen, through the divider curtain, I heard my quiet and reserved Daddy say this:

“When I came to Colorado, I had murder on my mind.  Sometimes I would be so consumed with anger I didn’t know what to do, but then I came across this passage in the Bible, Philippians 4:8.” Then I heard the flutter of Bibles in the circle as he began to read the Scripture.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

And then he concluded, “Whenever my anger would rise up, I’d force myself to think of my daughter Marsha”  (I would have only been a baby back then, because when he was now telling this, he and his brother and the whole family had finally been reconciled).

Even these years later it’s hard to really describe how those few words impacted my life.  To hear my dearly loved father, whom to my knowledge had never even voiced out loud that he loved me, say THIS about me.  To be described as ‘pure, lovely and praiseworthy’ made me want to honor that trust and dedicate my life to stretching beyond myself to live up to be what he thought of me.

Tony concluded this morning by reminding everyone that this is not rocket science, even though if it had been, my Daddy probably could have understood it sooner than he did. The command in that Scripture is not to weigh it, filter it, measure it or write a thesis about it. It’s simply to THINK about it. And when we do that, we’ll be better people for it.
Isn’t it amazing what the power of words can accomplish?  Isn’t it amazing what YOU can do with a few words, well-placed. Think about it.

I think about you and your wonderful qualities that you have as I’m writing this.  It makes me happy.

Marsha

Ticking the Boxes

So yesterday we had our Australian Elections.  Ever since we became citizens many years ago (we kept our USA citizenship as well), we have been required to vote. It’s not an option in this country unless you want to pay a hefty fine along with a good reason you didn’t vote.  I actually think this is a good idea. It makes you put your vote where your mouth is, and insures that we do indeed get the government we deserve.

Anyway, we’ve been voting for about 20 years now, and I still can’t really figure it out.  All I can really understand is that I must vote LIBERAL.

Liberal in Australian-speak means “Conservative”.  The other significant party is called “Labor” and it’s the equivalent of that party in the States whose platform centers around its dislike of Trump and tearing down things like family values, freedom of (not from) religion and gender issues that I won’t go into here.

So we went to the polls.  I often have a flashback to our days in Zambia from 1973-75 when they had just begun open and free elections.  I still remember the ballot.  A good part of the country was still illiterate, so pictures told the story. One was a picture of Dr. Kenneth Kaunda next to a box where you could make your mark, and the other was of a snarling hyena.

We couldn’t vote, of course, but we did celebrate when Kaunda was elected by a landslide. He was a committed Christian, Baptist pastor, and worked hard to bring the nation into a stable, productive government, in spite of the 70+ different tribes that make up the country.  I shudder to think what might have happened if the hyena had won.

But back to Australia, after signing in yesterday, we were presented with two papers.  One had about 15 names on it and was (I’m not exaggerating) about a yard long.  On it you had to list your first EIGHT party choices, in order of preference.  The other one had an equal number and you only had to pick SIX.  I frantically looked for “Liberal” anything, and found a couple of names with liberal in them, but wasn’t too sure.  By the time I got down to my 6th and 8th selection I was deliberating between parties like “Stop Global Warming Now”, “Legalize Marijuana”, and believe it or not, there was even a ‘Pirate Party’ (I’m not making this up). At least there was no hyena on the ballot.

Fortunately, God was in control and Scott Morrison, a professing Christian, was re-elected in an overwhelming show of support that even Mr. Morrison called “a miracle”. This morning, he is recognized as the most powerful man in Australia… at least until the other party gains enough support to call for another election, something that happens frequently here. Please pray for him and his “Liberal Party”; pray that he will use his power for good, and that God will work through him to accomplish great things.

From Australian politics back to the country of Israel, I was impressed the other day when I came across the passage in Luke 19 about the events leading up to Palm Sunday.  Jesus rode into the city through the gate that Suleiman the Magnificent bricked up in 1541 to prevent the “prophesied coming of the Messiah”.  Too bad he didn’t get the message that it was already too late.  Anyway, in Luke chapter 19 verse 41, we read,

“As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it, and said, ‘If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace, but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.’”

It’s hard not to imagine that this is happening right here in both of our homes, the USA and Australia.  Sin just keeps creeping in and squeezing our freedoms, and I’m sure you know what I mean.  But so many do not know, because they don’t know Jesus.

While you’re praying for our leaders, please pray that God will Stay His Hand awhile longer. Pray for those whose ignorance is leading them to destruction, both on a personal and a national level. And for you, Dear Readers, hang on tight!

Til He returns,

Marsha

Faces

Good morning all,

Today it’s beginning to feel like Autumn here, but I refuse to put the heavy quilts on the bed yet.  As so many of you are experiencing early summer where you are, we here Down Under have to look forward to a nice winter. Australians have it all worked out to 4 three-month seasons and winter isn’t officially here till June 1st.  Fortunately our winters are like summers in some of the places you live, so we just have to put on a sweater and maybe some socks.

I got an interesting letter from an aging missionary a few weeks ago. It basically said, “I’m old and dying but wanted to say ‘good bye’ to you all before I go”. That’s certainly an attention grabber.

He went on to reminisce about his many years in Japan.  I began to well up with tears as he talked about all of the good and the bad times. And then he said this,

“For me the amazing love and power of the Japan Baptist Mission family began the first summer of 1952 at Mission Meeting in a hotel in Kyoto. The meeting ran for almost a week from Monday until Saturday morning. Friday evening, Marion Moorhead led the group of almost a hundred in a time of sharing and prayer. The sharing was deep and loving and trusting and kind. Finally, we all stood in a circle for the last prayer. After the ‘amen’, and the eyes were opened, Luther Copeland looked toward the whole crowd and voiced an expression.  He said,

‘During the prayer time I voiced what I was speaking to God at the time. I asked that He reveal Himself to me. Immediately He spoke to me saying, In all the faces around the circle, you see Me.

That was such a blessing and at the same time a shock that it has remained with me for the rest of my days and reminded me that we are part of God’s family and are brothers and sisters of each other.”

And the letter was signed, Ralph Calcote.

How often have you said to yourself, “I’ve seen the face of God in my friends”?  Isn’t the bond we have just beautiful? And wasn’t Ralph Calcote just wonderful to let us know how he has lived life and been grateful?  I got word this morning that he’s had a stroke and passed away peacefully. I am SO SO thankful that I also took the time to jot him a brief ‘thanks and goodbye’ letter.  I don’t know if he got it, but he’ll know about it soon enough. Along with his friend and brother in Christ, Luther Copeland, tonight they are together, seeing God face to Face, as are many others who stood in a circle and prayed together that night.

And then as if I needed yet another example, let me leave you with an experience I had this morning at church. I was complementing a lady about her pretty outfit, and she said, “Oh, I got this in the mail from my friend in England just this week.  She remembered it was my anniversary (even though her husband has been with the Lord for many years), and thinking I might be sad, she quickly made this blouse and mailed it to me!”

I told her again how beautiful it was, and she directed my attention to the lovely sweater she was also wearing and said, “The same friend also gave me this sweater many years ago.”  It too, was a perfect match to the beautiful salmon pink of the blouse.

Faces of God; all around us; opportunities for worship; chances to love and be loved.

Life is precious, take time to reflect on it……….. and show God to each other every day this week.

Oh! And Happy Mother’s Day!!

Marsha