Friday, February 3, 2017

All Creation Points to Jesus (New Song)

Michael E. Wood
December 25, 2016
  Having posted the Christmas poem “To Jesus”, Dianna decided to share it with the ladies Bible study group she has been involved with.  One of the women liked it so much she said, “You ought to put that to music”.  Upon hearing that, the music to “What Child is This” almost immediately came to mind and I began to sing it to Dianna. The music was a little bit of a stretch for my voice but she liked it so much I decided to work on it and sing it in the various assisted living facilities during the week.

  A funny thing happened in the “Life Guidance” (Alzheimer/Dementia unit) Center at Atria El Camino Gardens. I read the introductory remarks and prepared to sing when suddenly I realized I couldn’t remember the music.  How appropriate is that?  So, after standing there for a moment with a surprised and blank look on my face, the LORD brought the music to “Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken” to mind and I began to sing. Amazingly the flow of the music fit perfectly to the music and was a far better fit for my voice.

  To top it off, after singing it a couple of times at different facilities I found I was having to double up on one of the phrases to work with the music. On Christmas morning while thinking these things over, the last two lines came to mind and thus we have the finished product.

All creation points to Jesus; Son of God and son of man.
Even Adam in his forming was a type to show God’s plan.
Now the angel’s proclamation clearly seen by all who see
Glory in the incarnation of the Christ who set us free.

For His Name’s sake, God did send us such a Savior, humbly born,
Living life that we have failed to, cursed, rejected, bearing scorn.
Yet He stumbled not by seeing joy beyond that rugged cross,
Offering Himself completely to redeem us from our loss.

Now in heaven, how amazing and in hearts of all of those
Who are joined as one abiding in the knowledge, He arose!
Oh, to grace, how great a debtor, mercies fruit both you and I
If we’ve humbly bowed before Him, Jesus Christ, who reigns on high.

For the glory of the Father is more worth than all of men
And the hearts of all who love Him shout His praise who has no end!
In His Likeness, all redeemed will see Him as He truly is
And forever marvel in His Grace who made us for Him, His.

Monday, December 19, 2016

To Jesus (a Christmas Poem)

Michael E. Wood
December 19, 2016

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:5-8

Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. Romans 5:14

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
Luke 2:13-14

What do you think of when you think of Christmas? Going into debt, to buy things that may not be appreciated by those who receive them? Are you focused on the giving and receiving of gifts? Are you in angst about dinner parties or family gatherings? Do you think it’s all about the children? Or do you really think of Him, who emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men?

When we think of Jesus in any fashion, whether it be His preexistence as God the Son or His incarnation as the son of man; fully God and fully man, we should be humbled by the very thought of Him who gave himself for our sins. In our contemplation's of Him we should be changed from glory to glory. Obviously, this can only happen if we have been born again. Through our union with Him by the power the Holy Spirit and the instruction of His revealed will through the Word of God we are given the understanding of this unspeakable gift we have been given. For from Him and through Him, and for Him are all things, to Whom be all the glory both now and forevermore.

All creation points to Jesus; Son of God and son of man.
Even Adam in his forming was a type to show God’s plan.

Now the angel’s proclamation clearly seen by all who see
Glory in the incarnation of the Christ who set us free.

For His Name’s sake, God did send us such a Savior, humbly born,
Living life that we have failed to, cursed, rejected, bearing scorn.

Yet He stumbled not by seeing joy beyond that rugged cross,
Offering Himself completely to redeem us from our loss.

Now in heaven, how amazing and in hearts of all of those
Who are joined as one abiding in the knowledge, He arose!

Oh, to grace, how great a debtor, mercies fruit both you and I
If we’ve humbly bowed before Him, Jesus Christ, who reigns on high.

For the glory of the Father is more worth than all of men
And the hearts of all who love Him shout His praise who has no end!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Dianna Wood
December 18, 2016

Sometimes God makes his presence and power known in our lives in ways that are undeniable!  This is one of those times.  The story begins in North Carolina before Michael and I were married.

Placed near Michael's computer in North Carolina was a copy of a short poem that had been written by Bob La Tour, one of the Pastors from Beacon Baptist church--the church that Michael attended before he and I ever met.  When I flew to North Carolina in May 2010 to marry Michael, one of the wedding gifts we received was from Pastor La Tour.  It was a beautifully framed copy of that very poem.  We cherished that gift and hung it in our apartment upon arriving in California after our road-trip honeymoon from North Carolina.

Over the past six years, Michael has provided individuals in the facilities where he ministers with copies of the "Impact"--Pastor La Tour's weekly one-page devotionals.  Although they have never met Pastor La Tour in person, many of them feel as though they know him and look forward each week to their copy of his devotional.

In April of 2014, the lease on our apartment would be ending.  My mother was living in a senior mobile home park and had recently experienced several health related issues which left her temporarily in need of family assistance.  Rather than move her closer to us, we decided to not renew our lease at the apartment and purchase a small single-wide mobile home just a few streets over from mom in the same mobile home park.  Over the past two and a half years, mom has realized that in order to stay in her little mobile home, she would have to make modifications to accommodate her physical limitations and those modifications would be costly.  Her home had no room to accommodate live-in assistance.  She also realized that if she could not safely stay in her home alone she would eventually loose her home and end up in an assisted living facility.  That was not something that she desired and after spending just 3 days with her in one of those facilities after her last fall, it was certainly not something I would want for her, either.

With monthly lot rental fees going up each year and no rent control in place, mom was paying almost $700 a month to rent the dirt her little house sat upon and we were also paying almost $700 a month to live in our little mobile home just so that we would be in close proximity to mom as she needed more assistance with normal daily activities.  Earlier in the year, we discussed finding a home here with an in-law quarters so that she could live with us as long as possible and avoid the high cost of modifying her little mobile home and facing the increases in lot space as the years went by.    She was very excited about that possibility.  Unfortunately, we quickly discovered, because of the cost of real estate here in California,that was not even a remote possibility.  Things were not looking good in terms of options.

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago...

A co-worker started talking about her family moving to another state because of the laws recently passed in California, as well as, the cost of living and cost of real estate in other states and that got us looking at the possibility of finding an option for mom that was affordable. We quickly discovered that real estate near Michael's home town, large enough to accommodate all of us comfortably; with a fixed rate mortgage, was as low as $500 a month. So we talked to mom about how she felt about us looking into that. She was thrilled with the idea and we all realized that if we didn't seriously look into this now, she might be too old to make a move across the country, should we put it off for too long a time.

Here is where the reality of the intimacy of God's providence and sovereignty in our lives shinned undeniably brilliant, clear and overwhelmingly powerful!

On the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, Michael contacted the secretary of Beacon Baptist church in North Carolina and got the contact information for a Real Estate agent that was a member of the church. We contacted her and she advised that we take a look at to get an idea of the market and the prices so that we could give her a better idea of what we were looking for.

We spent that following Saturday and Sunday evening looking at hundreds of homes online and found several homes that we liked and could afford; but none were practical if we had mom with us. We really were hoping for a home with an in-law quarters and a walk-in shower.

Right before crawling into bed that Sunday night, and admittedly feeling a bit discouraged, the thought just popped into my mind, "What about homes for sale by owner?" So, once in bed, I grabbed the I-Pad and entered, "Homes for Sale By Owner" followed by the city and state. The first listing that came up was a 3 bedroom, 3 bath, with in-law quarters and a 30 x 24 shop with a price that we could afford. I showed the listing to Michael and we both said, "Wow, that seems to good to be true".

Early that next morning, we decided to email the link to the real estate agent and asked her to please look into that property for us. As I was getting ready for work, another thought popped into my head and I said to Michael, "Wouldn't it be weird if the owner of that "perfect sounding house" was somehow associated to someone at Beacon Baptist Church?" An hour later, I arrived at work and turned on my computer to find an email from the real estate agent informing us that she knew about that home and that we might know the seller of that house.


That house was Pastor La Tour's mother's house. She had passed away several years ago and his sister had contacted a real estate agent a week or two earlier to see if she would list the house at the end of the month. Yes, the very same real estate agent that Michael contacted on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving!

As we move forward, we are placing our trust in Him and will accept whatever His plan may be.  The passage that comes to mind from Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him,  and he will make straight your paths.

"The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps."  Proverbs 16:9

As we look back on the lines of Bob La Tour's poem, we are encouraged and inspired to see and trust God's providential workings in our lives.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Invasion of the Morning Glories

Michael E. Wood
August 16, 2016

When we look at God’s creation do we enjoy it for its own beauty’s sake without considering the God who created it, or what elements of His truth He may convey through His Word to understand it?  Morning Glories blossom and fade in a day. God declares to us by His Spirit through His word, “for “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:24-25  Put all mankind together in the light of eternity and we are but like the grass of the field that withers and whatever natural beauty we may have is like the flower that falls. The good news for all who look to Christ and live is that He clothes us with the beauty of His righteous robes which fade not away, but rather display His infinite glory forever!

The invasion of the morning glories
Now in full array
Show forth some facets of the beauty
Of our God’s display,
To cause us to delight in Him through
Whom all things were made
And wonder at the privilege
He gives to them He bade.

Oh, Come and worship Him for Whom
Your hearts were made to know
And longingly look in His face
By which we’re made to grow
Into the likeness He knew best
Would bring such joy and peace;
For Jesus only, through the cross
Makes sin and death to cease.

So as we, like the morning glories
Peak and fade so quick,
Oh, Help us Great Physician
Look to You who heals the sick!

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Rest

Michael E. Wood
July 31, 2016

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!   
For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. Today, if you hear his voice, Psalm 95:1-2, 7

 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:2

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, Hebrews 3:7

 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” Hebrews 4:4-5

Psalm 95 can be divided into two distinct parts. We are given an invitation to worship the LORD in verses 1-7 and then a warning against unbelief in verses 7-11. Whether we come before Him individually or especially as in the context of this Psalm assembling together with the people of God, we are to come joyfully, thankfully, humbly; believing the good news that Christ alone enables us by the power of the Holy Spirit to enter the presence of God to worship Him.

While researching and contemplating the authorship of this Psalm, the following came to mind.

The voice of the Father, the voice of the Son,
The voice of the Spirit, the great three in One;
His Word now declares as He speaks from on high
To humble our hearts and rejoice to draw nigh
To give Him the praise and with thankfulness lift
Our voices as one though we tend now to drift
With our doubts and our fears, but exhorted to seek
His presence, our Savior, who Shepherd’s His sheep.
For we are His people and graze in His land,
The pastures of promise till with Him we stand.
So help us, Oh Father, endure every test
With joy now with Jesus who gives us the rest

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

To see You Are my Prize!

Michael E. Wood
July 10, 2016

Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers?  If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:16-19

It is absolutely amazing how many ways we can be distracted from seeing clearly by faith things that are above. The psalmist, while longing and crying out to the LORD God to bring an end to the wicked, is enabled to see how God uses the wicked to bring correction to His people resulting in our ultimate blessedness. He understood that the LORD would never forsake or abandon His people. Martin Luther closed out his song “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” with these words, “The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.”

As the psalmist bore witness to the murder of widows, sojourners and the fatherless, by those who were foolish enough to think the LORD neither sees nor perceives, he faces the immanent prospect of meeting the same end. He is in this case delivered not only from death but from his own fears and cares by the providence and unchanging love of our Sovereign God. In the midst of a multitude of distractions the consolations of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit cheer his soul. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Does He not bring consolation to your soul?

Frustrations, doubts, and fears arise
And cause me to forget
Priorities You give to me
And by Your Word You set
Each thing in order as You please
Beyond what I can see
For when I think, “I slip”, Oh LORD,
Your promise then will be
The truth of steadfast love upholding
Me when I would fall.
As only You could answer as
You will before I call.
And when I am distracted by
The cares which blind my eyes,
Your consolations cheer my soul
To see You are my Prize!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Accepting Correction

Michael E. Wood
June 23, 2016

Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and whom you teach out of your law, to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.     Psalm 94:12-15

There is a brand of so called Christianity in our current culture which promotes everything as positive and encouraging rather than Biblical and balanced. The writer to the Hebrews tells us not to regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. While in the process of being disciplined it seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

The psalmist being carried along by the same Holy Spirit records for our learning, the blessedness of the one whom the LORD disciplines. Though He has various means by which He can bring about discipline in our lives the context of the passage seems to point to God’s use of the wicked to bring about this discipline, and thus displays His Sovereign power and providential use of all things for the good of His people and the praise of His glory.

Let us continually be learning and putting into practice the habit of giving Him thanks in all things while trusting Him with all our hearts, and not leaning on our own understanding.

Do we now build our lives on our comfort and ease
Imagining somehow that God is well pleased?
But then in a moment when things are all changed
Through circumstance, turmoil, and lives rearranged;
We question His goodness, and kindness, and love,
Not seeing that all things are sent from above
To mold us and make us like a Potter the clay.
Are we hardened or nimble for shaping that day?

For He in His mercy sees better than we,
Designing each detail to drive to the knee,
*Accepting correction to know and commune
With Him in His sweetness like finest perfume
Perfecting His praise in a life offered up
Through Jesus who drank of the bitterest cup.

Oh, none can imagine the extent of His pain
That He bore to remove our gross sin and our shame,
But not only that, to present without fault
The church as His bride, one with Him to exalt
The glory and praise God alone has, as due.
Oh, Help us, Dear Father, to magnify You!

*Footnote: In printing this out for a hard copy distribution, Dianna pointed out to me that I had originally used EXCEPTING ( a preposition - used in the sense of apart from or excluding, also used as a conjunction at times) instead of ACCEPTING ( a verb - used in the sense of agree to or receiving something without saying no). The two words sound similar and can be easily confused, but my, what a difference a single word can make. Thus, it seems appropriate to receive correction even in the writing of this poem.