Book Review ~ The Garden of GOD’S WORD

Book Review by Aaron Cerda

Last year I reviewed a delightful book by Fran Rogers called Two Full Plates. If you missed that review I would highly encourage you to go back and read it. You can find it hereThe Garden of God’s Word is another fine book by author Fran Rogers. Mrs. Rogers is a wife/caregiver to her husband of over 50 years, as well as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, When someone of this stature sits down to write a book, we would all be wise to read it. On a personal note, I read Mrs. Roger’s books slowly (much slower than I read most books) because I want to absorb every word written by this dear saint.

As I sat down to read this book (the first time around) I was immediately struck by the chapter titles. The table of contents lays out a very clear trajectory for what lies ahead. The chapters outline the course which you will read for the next hour or so. It is there that we discover that Rogers will be leading us to discover that scripture Informs, Reforms, Transforms, Conforms, and allows God to Perform His work through us. In other words, to quote the author,

God, through His Word and His Holy Spirit, has done all the previous work ~ informing, reforming, transforming, and conforming us, so that He may perform His own work through us.

This is the message of The Garden of God’s Word — That the Word of God is sufficient to not only inform us of what we ought to believe and how we ought to behave, but it is also sufficient to equip us for this life as we are changed by its words into that which God has promised to complete in us. Mrs. Rogers doesn’t leave room for the ruggedly individualistic Christian who believes that he can reap the blessings of God’s word by sitting alone however, and she gives a wonderful explanation of how the unity of the body is achieved by participating in the life of the Word together:

This is the means of unity in the whole body; as each member studies, learns the truths, and joins in like mind and spirit to portray the image of Christ that is seen there.

As with Two Full Plates, The Garden of God’s Word is written in the wonderfully affectionate manner which you would expect to read from a dear friend. I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this extraordinary short book, grab the warm beverage of your choice and take the time to pour over this book as if you were reading it from a longtime friend.Take the words in this book seriously- there is a lot that we have to learn from Fran Rogers as she magnifies the glory of God by unfolding the wonderful garden that is the Word of God.

You can find The Garden of God’s Word at Amazon. The book is available in both paperback and ebook formats — both of which are very (VERY) reasonably priced.

You can read more about this review here.
~~~~~~~~~
You can find all our books on Amazon.
Fran

A Year of Thanksgiving

1-Thessalonians-5_182014 was a year of humility. 2015 was a year of meditation.   Last year ended with Jerry in ICU after his heart attack, so he and I spent New Year’s Eve in the hospital. There were no fireworks ~ just the two of us with grateful hearts celebrating life and God’s blessings as another year was opened to us.

Before then there was no indication of where our concentration should be this year. But, we didn’t have to wait long. This has been a special year to be thankful, even in the middle of emergencies, the everyday perplexities and abnormalities of this life.

In our reading and meditation this week we spent time in one of Paul’s letters.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, I had to take the time to let these things sink in, again.

“Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This is how I had to stack these. They rest together on the foundation that Christ laid for us. We understand that God, our Father planned through the life and the atoning work of His Son the means in this world for our rejoicing, praying, and thanksgiving. This is not a natural thing.  We all know that in the middle of difficulties, thanksgiving is not our first thought. But, just as we learned in the year of humility, we first desire to do His will, realizing that it is possible with His Spirit supernaturally working in us.  We desire, we pray and continue to pray that He do His will, His work in us. Paul spoke to the Philippian church that it is God who works to will and do in us, according to His own pleasure. (Philippians 2:13) We have in Christ this relationship with Him, so as to know His will, and how, by His Spirit, He works it in us. In Christ, we are enabled to rejoice, to pray, and to be thankful.

Whatever the circumstances of this life, nothing is greater than what He has prepared for us in His Son. Through our study and meditation of His Word and the truths of Christ, He continues to grow us in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, and through our circumstances to conform us to His image. (2 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:28-29)

Dear Father, you know how forgetful we are, and how prone we are to complain. Forgive us, and lead us as your people, your family, to be your image bearers.  Thank you for providing the means for us to rejoice, to pray, and be thankful in the middle of a chaotic world. By your Spirit, witness through us to others of your grace and glory. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Related article:  The Glad Rule

M&Ms ~ The Delight of Souls

imagesM&Ms are a favorite candy for children, and adults who are still “children at heart.”  It doesn’t take much time to eat these; simply pop them in your mouth and enjoy. Depending on how long you want them to last you either chew and swallow; or if you want them to last longer you suck on them until you have removed the outer coating; then suck on the chocolate, or allow it to dissolve in your mouth.

As this has become a special year for meditation coupled with memorization the idea of M&Ms came to mind. There is a similarity between how one consumes physical food and how we process and digest God’s Word.

Some people do not eat M&Ms. They don’t buy them because they don’t eat chocolate or sugar; or they don’t like coatings. Similarly, there are people who don’t like God’s Word. They don’t buy it, for many different reasons.

There are those who quickly chew and swallow the candy without too much thought of what they are consuming, while they go about their business.   Similarly, there are those who read God’s Word, even daily, but chew only as long as it takes to get through the selected passage scheduled for the day.

Then there are some who take time to relish the moments, the taste and the joy of the sugar and chocolate.   imagesSimilarly, there are some who sit down with the intentions of getting the most and the longest lasting benefit from God’s Word.

At some point the sugar and the chocolate with the other ingredients from the M&Ms kick in and do their work, stimulating and giving energy. In the same way, memorization and meditation in God’s Word have their effect.

Memorization is the outer coating that capsules for our hearts and minds what we want to remember, enabling us to take it with us wherever we go; and making it last longer. Meditation is the process of discovering the inner delicacy; it is the means of experiencing more of the hidden truths of God’s Word, those that most affect the heart and life.

 Fruit of Our Thoughts
What, through the mind is hidden in our hearts, continues to affect our thinking; and eventually our actions. The truths of God, of Christ, and the power of His Holy Spirit are the sugar and chocolate that become a part of our spiritual system and activates God’s Word in our souls. But, better than candy, God’s word provides eternal nourishment. M&Ms are addictive; and so is meditation in God’s Word. Once you taste, and experience the delight and goodness, you cannot live without it.

Dear Father, in a fast food and instant gratification culture we need the quietness and stillness of your Spirit to lead us and keep us in your Word daily. Help us; we need you to do this work in us, so that we experience its effectiveness in our hearts and lives. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

(Excerpt from The Purpose and Delight of Bible Study)

The Light of God’s Grace

*OUR OWN LITTLE WORLDS

On this planet earth many of us are living within our own little worlds—wombs that we think are protecting us from the rest of the world.  In essence we have imprisoned ourselves.

Before birth a baby is cradled, fed, and cared for naturally.  From the womb of the mother he exits to find himself in unknown territory, unprepared to deal with ‘life.’  This helpless bundle of blood, tissue and cells must depend on someone to show him how to survive on the outside.

Does he wonder where he is, where he came from, or how he got here?  No; his only thought is, “I need…” communicated by-way-of his natural mechanism.

But look:  Mommy cannot respond to his needs—he sees her in a fetal position, surrounded by a crystal-like ball. He is trying to tell her that he needs to be held, to feel the closeness they had while he was in the mother’s womb, to know that this world is a safe place for him to be.

She cannot break through; she has closed herself in.  Because of her own fears she is unable to convince her child that he can be secure, that his vital needs will always be met.

Soon he metamophorically forms his own outer shell and becomes one of the millions of bubbles floating around the universe, passing time and people without understanding the meaning of his existence.

(The mother is always the closest to the new-born — except for dire circumstances. Her relationship is crucial to her baby.  She is the first to nurture, to feed, to hold.  This bond between mother and child is the most important.  The person who carries him in her womb for nine months should be free for a period of time to love this baby and to meet its needs.  [I am not sure that I agree completely with Dr. William Sears, but in his book, Parenting Your Baby, he says that a new mother should plan to live in her nightgown for two weeks, nursing, holding, grooming, rocking and “securing” her new-born.  For the first year the new baby needs to know that he lives in a safe environment.]  The father’s role is to support and nurture this mother-baby relationship.  As a result he will be seen as a gentle, but strong, human being and will take his rightful place as head of his household. It is this family relationship that is the example for the future relationship this child will have with God, his heavenly Father, and His family.)

Families that have good parenting skills are rare.  We face the two most important lift-time decisions—marriage and parenting— without proper training.  We make our decisions based on feelings, from what we know, what we want, and what we see others doing.

Experience has shown that parents who were loved and ‘secured’ are able to love their children.  If you have been nurtured, you have been trained to nurture.  These are the people whose feet are on the ground—anchored to a purpose and a meaning for life—who see and respond to the needs of others.  These are the people who are trying to burst the bubbles of those whose cries were never heard.

How do these people convince others that they are loved and have a purpose for living?  —- to be continued)

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This above article was written in the 1980s during my times of conflict, doubt, and anxiety—the natural way I had learned to live.

The mother in this story is me at a time in my life when things seemed hopeless—a mother who could not help herself, not knowing where to turn, and not able to help anyone else. My own little world was all I knew.  This little world is a dark world which leaves no room for anyone but self.

Darkness is not a pleasant state in which to be. But then God began to shine the light into my heart. There was a calling to something from Someone I did not yet know.  My drawing was first to The Word of God which is contained in The Holy Bible.  Here I began to read and to love what I was learning, which eventually led me to Jesus Christ, who is revealed in His Word.  Then I began to love God, the Father, and God, the Son, that Someone whose light was strong enough to penetrate my darkness and bring me into His light.

Not only did the light become brighter and brighter, but I could also look back and see the darkness He had brought me through.  Still not knowing the meaning of life, nor my purpose, there was evidence that our heavenly Father had been with me all my life, protecting and guiding in a way that I did not fully understand.

During the four and a half years of caring for Mother in her last stages of dementia, and the first year in caring for Jerry after two surgeries on his left leg—the second one an amputation below the knee— the bubble formed again and my own little world seemed to be all I could handle.

Again, God, our heavenly Father,  by the power of His own light, penetrated my “little world”—the sharpness and piercing of the two-edged sword is like a laser.  (Hebrews 4:12) He continues to permeate my whole being, and perpetuate the light of His grace in my heart and through my life.  He works in each of us, by His own power, to see the needs of others, to care, intercede, and touch the lives of those for whom we pray—for His glory and our joy.

“The path of the just is as a shining light, shining more and more unto the perfect day.”

Proverbs 5:18

*(Introduction to God’s Glory and Our Joy, The Ministry of Intercession)

The Beauty of Grace in the Eye of the Beholder

cross“And when we shall see him, there is no beauty
that we should desire him.
We hid as it were our faces from him;
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
Isaiah 53: 2-3

Who can SEE what is heavenly?  Who can experience the supernatural beauty of that which is above and beyond us?  Where do we find the beauty of life apart from ourselves? The human eye cannot SEE what God has prepared for His children except His Spirit REVEALS it to us. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)

“But we all with open face, BEHOLDING as in a glass the glory of the Lord,
are changed into the same image from glory to glory,
even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

From the mouth of a layman Spurgeon heard and saw the beauty of Christ in Isaiah 45:22, “LOOK unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.”

Our heavenly Father SAW in His Son what He wants us to SEE.

“He shall SEE of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied;
because he hath poured out his soul unto death.
He bare the sin of many,and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Isaiah 53:11-12

 “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.”  Psalm 50:2

“They shall LOOK on him whom they pierced.”  John 19:37

SEEING IS BELIEVING

Paul prayed for the early church in Ephesians 1:17-18:  “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom, and REVELATION in the knowledge of him: The EYES OF OUR UNDERSTANDING ENLIGHTENED; THAT YE MAY KNOW what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.”

“Wherefore SEEING we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, LOOKING UNTO JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF OUR FAITH; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God…….LOOKING diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God;” Hebrews 1-2, 15

“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hst given me, be with me where I am;
that they may BEHOLD my glory, which thou hast given me,”
John 17:24

“Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key, that shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see:
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!  ~ Clara H. Scott
Music:  Open My Eyes, That I May See

Father, draw us by your Spirit to your Word, the written and living Word of Christ, your Son, whom you have made to be our Lord, Master, and Life. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.

GRACE ~ the Sky’s the Limit

Have you been outside today?

HAVE YOU BEEN OUTSIDE YOURSELF?

OUTSIDE YOUR OWN LITTLE WORLD?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Go outside, look up  ~  What do you see?  Clouds?

WHAT SURROUNDS THE CLOUDS?  GRACE!!!!!

GRACE  is in the air.  GRACE is in the wind; in the sun.

GOD IS EVERYWHERE!  AND WHERE HE IS ~ GRACE ABOUNDS!

IN HIM WE LIVE, AND MOVE, AND HAVE OUR BEING.” Acts 17:28

The most beautiful blue in the world is the color we see in the sky.

But how often do we even look up to see our Father’s grace in what He has created?

If we look up,He will reveal His panorama of grace.  If we take time to observe, and sense His presence, He will enable us to look beyond ourselves, our circumstances, the turmoils, and the evil of this world.  He will fill us with His grace, and surround us with His glory.

THIS CANOPY OF GRACE IS THE LINING

OF HIS EVERLASTING COVENANT THAT HOLDS US IN HIS LOVE

UNTIL HE REVEALS THE FULNESS OF HIS GLORY.

“Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus,
which is taken  from you into heaven,
shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
Acts. 1:11

And then shall they see the Son of man coming
in a cloud with power and great glory.”
Luke 21:27