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December 20, 2018, 9:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey…January 2019


A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...

Ahhhhh...another new year! Whatever will it hold? We all ask that annually, don’t we? We think we have a big start-over button and promise ourselves, friends, family, and God that the next 12 months will be different. We will do better, be better, accomplish more, and won’t break any more promises. We will put on a smile and start again.

I am personally facing this new year like none other. I reckon in the past 70 years I have always had almost tangible goals—to learn to talk and walk, finish first grade, elementary school, junior high, high school, two college degrees, and jobs that I knew were likely a bit temporary. More? To learn countless scores of music on the piano, keyboard or organ and play at recitals, weddings, funerals, worship services, and church musicals. To get married, have children and grandchildren, move with my husband from ministry to ministry, care for my elderly parents. To write and teach, learn to cook and serve countless meals and treats. To travel for fun and for ministry.

Then along comes my husband’s “retirement” and the curious questions and interesting comments! “What will you do? Travel?” “How exciting!” I admit those have almost caught me off guard.

What will you do? Travel?

Answers so far: Continue to preach, teach, lead conferences, write. Visit kids and grandkids more. Enjoy time together and sharing our home with others often. Explore Oklahoma and see what we have missed. Explore more of our nation. Help churches and ministries that need help, although international travel is not likely on our radar.

How exciting!

That honestly has surprised me and I have had to think that through. Can you be excited about not doing what you love to do? But, I am beginning to understand that more. No, we won’t stop doing what we love to do. We will just do it in different ways and places. That is exciting. I am learning to see it as a “blank page” turning in life and only God knows what He has written on it! That is exciting. We will continue to trust and obey, trust and adjust. As long as we follow Him, we can’t go wrong. That is exciting! As long as we are on Earth, He has a plan and a purpose for us...and that is exciting!

A BLESSED NEW YEAR TO US ALL!

     Marsha Cook, Director

 




November 19, 2018, 9:00 AM

A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...December 2018


A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...

  Well, here we are...at the end of the year, the end of an era in our personal ministry, another anniversary of marriage and ministry together, and, for me, the beginning of a new decade of life! As we look forward to a new year and a new era for us with wonder and anticipation, I cannot help but think of the most significant thing of all that each of us should be thinking about this month!
  As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, we can certainly still focus on the wonder of it all, just as Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the wise men, the friends, family, strangers, and even the angels in heaven did over 2000 years ago! What a wonder it is that the Son of God would leave His home in Heaven to come live among us, experiencing life in the flesh—even in the womb—not just for “experience,” but for the simple, irrefutable fact that He loved us all that much! He came knowing He would be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He came, stayed, and conquered sin and death. For us. For you. For me. For all who would believe and receive!
  And the anticipation? For 400 years the nation of Israel had anticipated the coming of the Messiah. They were waiting for a king in all of His might and glory. As a nation, they did not recognize Him when He humbly came as a baby in a manger. They missed Him then, they missed Him on the cross, and many still miss Him today! Let us not miss HIM in our flurry to celebrate HIS birthday! He still wants to have a close, intimate heart relationship with us today!
  Lastly, in the confusing and painful news we hear on every hand today, let us not forget to anticipate His second coming, when we will be out of the presence of sin and totally in His presence and our Heavenly Father. As we anticipate daily the final experience of our salvation, which will never end, let us approach this season with overwhelming joy!
  Yes, Jesus IS the reason for the season...and well beyond! Go out and share that Good News everywhere you can, friends!


Marsha Cook, Director

 




October 25, 2018, 2:38 PM

A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...November 2018


A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...

  Don’t you just “hate” to drop things or knock them off a table or counter? I do! I guess because a) either I feel klutzy or b) I have to bend over and pick it up! But, do you know what? I recently realized as I picked up yet another dropped item that I should actually be thankful when that happens! Why? Because of gravity! How often do we thank God for that? Not very often.

  Yet, without gravity, things would be flying all over the place! I even think about that as I am walking or driving down the street or highway. After all, gravity is the “glue” that keeps us stuck to this globe called the Earth! When we fall, we fall TO the Earth, where we always land, with or without injury. No one ever falls clear OFF the Earth into outer space, do they?

  Another thing I sometimes think about is a bit like pre-Columbus thinking. Remember when people thought if they sailed the oceans blue, they would eventually fall off the horizon—and it took an adventuresome Columbus to refute that perception? But, from our daily perspective, we probably mentally visualize ourselves differently than God does, because we look to the horizon! I often imagine He observes us (and our vehicles) as pins on a big pincushion, sticking out all over the place! And, yet, we never fall off!

  Why? Because God continually, consistently sustains the force of gravity that HE created! If HE quit sustaining that for even a nano-second, we—and the whole Earth—would fly apart. If HE quit sustaining whatever it is that HE created to hold all of our atoms, neutrons, protons, etc., together, we would instantly disintegrate! Not one single item or living being would survive! Even non-believers are totally dependent upon HIM for survival, whether they like it or not.

  Sooooo, this month of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for God as Creator AND Sustainer, Whom I love to read about in JOB 38-41. Join me in revisiting those chapters, rejoicing in our Lord, Who cares for us all and Who revealed Himself so powerfully to a man sitting on a literal dump heap in great misery and sorrow. Oh, yes, and be grateful for gravity each time we drop something. Instead of complaining, let’s rejoice and be thankful.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, y’all!

  Marsha Cook, Director

 




September 27, 2018, 2:28 PM

A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...October 2018


A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...

  Tonight we went to see the well-played new movie, UNBROKEN: Path to Redemption. It is based upon the true story of Louis Zamperini, former Olympian runner, former WWII POW in Japan, former alcoholic suffering from PTSD...who was wonderfully saved at the Billy Graham Crusade in 1949 in Los Angeles. He spent the rest of his very long life serving the Lord and was a close friend of Billy Graham’s. I don’t mean to spoil the story for you, but the essence has been replayed, as it were, countless times throughout Christian history. The forgiven becomes the forgiver.

  As I sat with tears running down my face in the dark movie theater, I realized that I have heard this story in one form or another from other random people I have either known or have heard about. Or else, I have wished I could have heard the same outcome in their life stories, but they chose otherwise. You see, it is a choice we all have to make. When people “do us wrong,” what is our chosen response? Do we retaliate? Do we hang on and on and on to bitterness and hate? Do we tell anyone and everyone how badly we have been treated? Or...do we forgive, whether or not they ask for forgiveness? Do we make the choice to leave behind the past and move forward, pressing on toward the high calling that is in Christ Jesus, as the Apostle Paul once said?

  How do we do that? By looking at the character of Christ instead of the character of the one who hurt us. By listening to the teachings of Christ instead of to our own self-centered nature. Christ cried out these words from the very cross upon which He hung: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” Remember, “they” includes you and me, not just the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman soldiers. It was OUR sin that took Him to the cross, too, not just theirs! He also told us to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and “Love the Lord your God with all your heart...and love your neighbor as yourself.

  Nothing is gained except more hurt when we refuse to forgive and focus upon the past. Freedom is found in turning loose...and forgiving! We are the ones who are truly set free indeed! 

  Marsha Cook, Director

 




August 23, 2018, 9:06 AM

A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...September 2018


A NUGGET FROM MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY...

  Well, dear friends, I suppose that you, like me, have heard that Life comes in seasons? Now, Russell and I are arriving at a new season...called...Retirement! How do you reflect in a few words on nearly 70 years of life, 47 in marriage and ministry? Here is my best attempt for the moment...

  I am one of those persons who has been in church before she was born because I always had faithful, loving Christian parents. I was taught at home and church by them and by watching them live as shining examples in my season of childhood. As a young single adult, I learned to make my own independent choices, based upon my faith in Christ and the teaching of my parents. Then Russell and I met, married and walked into ministry life all within the same four months, 47 years ago! So those seasons melded from the beginning of our marriage. As children and grandchildren came along, that season broadened and deepened and is still going strong, although our family of two eventually became 16...so far!!! Now, suddenly, as Russell retires from having a “well-defined” ministry, to both of us just being open-ended, available and, yes, curious, as to what different aspects of this new season will look like. We know we both want to continue to preach, teach, and write as the Lord provides opportunities. We know we want to stay as active as possible as long as possible, and yet also enjoy some times of rest and family times. Sometimes we feel a bit like Abraham and Sarah...trusting the Lord to lead but having no specific idea where He plans for us to go in Life...except to follow Him!

  When I was a young girl in Arkansas, our “Associational Missionary” and his wife, known to most of us as just Dr. and Mrs. Best, were a little couple of gray-haired people of small stature, who visited our round of churches regularly, walking in, holding hands and smiling at all of us. For years, that was my idea of what a (now) Director of Missions and his wife did! As an adult, I had a few more slight examples. Now, after 22 years, I feel like I could “write a book,” but I can't do that here! I will say that I have loved it, I love YOU and I am eternally blessed for having been in this season. Pray for us as we continue to live, learn, and serve alongside you dear friends in new roles.

  “Wherever He Leads I'll Go” is a favorite hymn of mine and has become my Life journey. At this point, I will continue as the PLBA Women's Ministry Director for as long into this season of life as God leads, so I look forward to continuing to meet you here in print each month!

Marsha Cook, director

 


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