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Many years ago, when my family and I had an opportunity for a little bit of vacation one late spring, we elected to spend a few days in Chincoteague, Virginia. We did so in part because, at the time, we had never been to the beach as a family, but also because we deemed that Chincoteague was a tad bit more family friendly than some of the high paced “touristy” beaches that often feature price-gouging vendors or attract vacationers who are into hard-partying.

Chincoteague was also the featured location of the story, Misty of Chincoteague, by Marguerite Henry, and had the added bonuses of being between the national wildlife preserve on Assateague Island, and NASA’s original headquarters on Wallops Island. Thus, these islands provided plenty for our family to do and see during our brief stay while still allowing us a peaceful atmosphere for resting emotionally and spiritually.

In the mornings, we went out early to the beach and enjoyed the sun as it slowly rose above the eastern horizon. The cool breezes and the gentle sounds of the ocean waves rolling up on to the beach greeted us soothingly as we walked bare-footed on the wet sand, looking for seashells, our children, who were very young at the time, laughing every so often when the ocean water would lap at their feet.

On the first morning, while our kids were distracted, my wife and I “wrote” their names in the wet sand with our feet. Then, when they turned and saw what we had done, they smiled happily as they were reminded of how special they are to us.

After awhile, we became hungry and decided to go and get breakfast, leaving behind their names on the edge of the restless ocean. We had our breakfast and then went exploring (by minivan) the animal preserve on Assateague Island where over one hundred wild ponies lived just as they did in the 1940’s when Marguerite Henry wrote her book. Then, after lunch, we changed our clothes and went back to the beach. Our two youngest sons wondered if their names might still be there (although we had assured them that they would not be). Of course, their names were long gone, washed away by wind and wave, and trampled under the feet of beach goers who had since arrived on the scene.

But that mattered little to them for the beach wasn’t the only place where we had written their names. Daily kindnesses and encouragements let them know that each of them had his name indelibly etched into our hearts. So also had the entrusting of responsibility to them and the accountability that we required of them showed them that they were neither a mere “hobby” nor burdensome “duty” to us. Even the boundaries that we set for them over the years reminded them that we have been more than passive observers of their growing up, but were active participants as mentors, providers, encouragers, and guardians (physically and spiritually).

Although their parents weren’t perfect (and still aren’t), they sensed that they were loved and could find comfort in knowing that neither the waves nor winds of circumstances, or even the comings and goings of people throughout life could either diminish or eliminate that love.

But there is a far greater love than ours that has been at work in their lives. It is a love that is accessible to anyone whose heart would soften enough to believe and receive it. It is a love that does not grow old or weak no matter how much time passes. It does not wash away even though a thousand years pass by. It is not at the mercy of winds of change or the waves of whim. It is a love so powerful and so enduring that even though you might feel lost in the throngs of the human race, one among the billions of people currently alive or in the countless generations since our world began, you are singled out to be set free from bonds of sin, fear, and hopelessness if only you will turn to Him and rest in that love.

I am happy to report that our God does not simply write our names in the wet sands of the seashore, or even upon granite obelisks that finally succumb to the relentless march of time as eons slowly wear them down. Those whose hearts yield to the saving love of God as revealed in His Son, Jesus Christ, will find their names written upon something that is truly imperishable, subject to neither “chance” nor “change” of mind.

“Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the LORD has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The LORD has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands” (Isaiah 49:13-16a ESV).

Though this prophecy was written hundreds of years before Jesus’ crucifixion, it was a clear clarion call of the magnitude of God’s love for you and for me. A pen is not used to write your name upon His flesh, but the cold and cruel nails of the executioner’s cross claim you as God’s own on His Son’s own hands. Jesus’ blood is the permanent ink that has the power to grant you a place of eternal acceptance in the presence of the Father.

Just think! Once your name has been written upon His hand, no matter what paths your life may lead you, no matter what dark and doubtful moments may come your way, when your eyes open in glory and you look upon the Savior, you will see your name written upon His hand; you will see that the love of God is more than words.

This is a time in which many people are placing their trust in persons and things that will not, in the end, stand the test of time. To place your faith in something that will not last dooms you to disappointment and utter ruin. But don’t squander your opportunity to begin the adventure of walking with God and knowing for certain that your eternity is secured. Turn to Jesus today. Let Him be both Lord and Savior of your life!

“To all who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gives the right to become the children of God – born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (from John 1:12-13).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Forlorn and lost and bereft of hope,

            Embraced by fear and pulled down the slope

Of pain and fear and desperation

            And dying from our separation

From our source of life, the God of love

            Who supremely rules from above.

 

In His holiness, He judges all.

            Yet to the sinner, He sends the call

To turn aside from all pride and sin

            And through Christ’s blood he is ushered in

To His presence! Be cleansed and made new!

            Pardoned and changed completely through!

 

O come and find His forgiveness now!

            And set yourself to discover how

Great and good is Jesus’ love for you!

            How beautiful and perfectly true

Is Jesus Who died to set you free

            But lives and reigns eternally!

 

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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With this year’s Valentine’s Day comes another round of… what is it? Shades of something? If audiences’ responses to the last two episodes are anything to go by, this one will also likely have a wildly enthusiastic reception and viewers will once again be exposed (no pun intended) to confused and distorted messages about sex, relationships, and love. It’s too bad that folks are so eager to accommodate an easy message of pleasure that they’re willing to overlook a genuine message of love… one that these movies essentially ignore or, perhaps, are incapable of even understanding.

Some might argue that the movies somehow, in the end, redeem themselves by trying to convince us that their characters eventually come to a place where they genuinely understand love itself, the movies themselves reportedly take (as the books on which they are based allegedly also do) such a circuitous path through hazy messages of sensuality and perverted sex, that viewers will be victimized by the notion that such interactions between two people are not only normal, but are desirable. 

But that argument is a stretch anyway. I cannot help but believe that the primary engine driving the production of the movie itself is greed which, in turn, exploits lust, the engine that is driving those who will eagerly attend the movie.

All the emphasis of these movies – all the sex, all the need to control others, and all the using of others to build ourselves up – are sad counterfeits of the greater pleasures of knowing God and experiencing His love and power in our lives. They threaten to ruin the God-given point of sex in the first place: the joyful consummation of the uniting of the lives of a husband and wife in a covenantal relationship.

It’s a sad thing when people, in whom the image of God resides, relinquish the high and beautiful purpose granted them by their Maker as they twist a gift He has given them… a gift that would ultimately deepen their love for Him and each other as it teaches them to love as He loves.

The love of the Bible is first-of-all a giving kind of love, not a taking. Just as God gives His love to those who place their faith in His Son, a husband and wife express their love for each other by giving themselves emotionally and spiritually to the other. The physical act loses all its meaning if it takes place outside the context of marriage and is a mockery of true love because sex without the commitment of the covenant of marriage is merely a taking from the other. As one uses the other for his self-centered urges, or allows herself to be used selfishly because she believes the lie that this is how one is loved, they miss the mutually edifying and sacred union that marriage represents when fleshed out as God intends it.

And aside from that, the very idea that physical pleasure is the greatest goal to pursue in this life misses the point entirely of what this life is about. God is not God to us when we capitulate to the lie that a mere physical pleasure is our greatest good. Nor can we accept the natural counterposition of this idea: that pain is our greatest evil. When we believe these lies (even subconsciously), we are unable to make sacrifices and put the needs of others before ourselves.

So watch out. Let your ideas about sex, love and marriage be shaped by the Bible, which is God’s Word. Don’t fall into the lie that God’s great aim in creating you is to deprive you of the joy of sex, but understand that He wants you, when the time is right, to enjoy it in the way it is intended to be enjoyed: in the confines of a God-centered marriage.

Jesus is the supreme example of what love is and what love does. He proves that love is not a mere emotion. It is the following through of the determined resolve to raise you up into His divine life. But just so you know, when you believe that truth and finally surrender your life to His holy sacrifice for you and His divine lordship, that love does bring forth a harvest of emotion: joy, peace, comfort, courage, affection, and hope. Indeed, when we finally surrender our passion to something as truly great as He is, we find an amazing grace sweeping us up into the wild abandonment of seeking Him, pursuing Him, discovering Him, and knowing Him. Only in Jesus are we truly freed to live and love and experience the myriad of experiences and fantastic encounters with Him awaiting us… and there are infinitely more than fifty shades!

“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God…. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (Psalm 24:3-6, 1 John 4:15-16 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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When our children were much younger, it was not unusual that as the shadows of night deepened to darkness and the quiet stillness of slumber finally filled our home, our children would begin to rest from all their cares and worries only when they were lulled to a place of peace by the gentle melody of their mother’s singing.

And when the day’s first light would once again begin to spread its fingers across the sky, one often heard the sound of more quiet singing in our home. When the little ones in our arms nestled their little heads against us, my wife and I couldn’t help but sing. Such singing soothed the inexplicable fears and anxieties that beset our small children but it also gave utterance to the joy and love we had (and still have) for our beloved offspring.

Song of our Father

The love song that our Heavenly Father sings over the ones who rest their weary, anxious hearts in Him is one of peace, renewal, acceptance and strength.

And so our Heavenly Father sings to us a heavenly love song that only the ears of faith can hear. He sings of how He would have us set aside worry and fear for ourselves, trusting both His goodness and His great and glorious power to sustain us, protect us and guide us in our daily living.

“Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you” (Luke 12:27-31 ESV).

Ever does His Holy Spirit softly sing the notes of the melody of His love for you if only you will listen with ears of trusting obedience. Ever does He beckon you to lay your head upon the bosom of His love and hearken to His lullaby of grace.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32 ESV).

The song of your heavenly Father, pleased as He is to give you the Kingdom through faith in His Son, is a song of joy and delight. Indeed, all of heaven sings in unabashed celebration when anyone turns from sin and selfishness and embraces the Father’s call to “come home” to Him.

“…I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Jesus in Luke 15:10).

Are you ready to come home to the heart of God? He is more than ready to receive you. Are you ready for the healing touch of the Father? He is more than willing to wash your sin away and set you free. Though you may feel unwanted, unloved, rejected and shut out of life, He yearns to hold you to Himself and sing you the love song that is borne out in the laying down of His life on the Cross of Calvary.

The love song that He sings over you as you rest your weary, anxious heart in Him is one of peace, renewal, acceptance and strength. His voice drives away the dark shadows of worry, fear, sorrow and loneliness. Nowhere else can one find such a reassuring melody than the one our Heavenly Father sings to us through the loving gift of His “only begotten Son” (from John 3:16). Learn to listen with ears of faith and you will find an unparalleled “rest for your soul” (from Matthew 11:29).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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Well, so far it’s not been much of a “wintery” winter, at least not here in southern Ohio. We are hearing, of course, of real winter weather in the west and the plains, but December here has not been typical at all.  But if it were especially wintery here, if we were being assaulted by artic blasts, frigid snowfalls, and freezing ice storms, we would likely be longing for a quick return of warmer days. And while it may not be especially cold and icy here in a meteorological sense, it is a cold, cold world in which we live… in a spiritual sense.  Worn down by the apathy and indifference of a jaded people, the corruption and arrogance of a broken political system, and the confusion and hate-mongering of religions that are warmed only by the heated conflicts that characterize them, one quickly begins to long for a touch of warmth from a heart of love.

What is it after all that thaws a frozen heart? What warms a frigid home? What turns a winter of despair into a spring of hope?

What is it after all that thaws a frozen heart? What warms a frigid home? What turns a winter of despair into a spring of hope?

What is it that thaws a frozen heart? What warms a frigid home? What turns a winter of despair into a spring of hope?

Love, of course. More specifically, it is God’s love that does this (lest we be confused with the inferior notions of love volleyed about in popular culture).

Love is not content with the status quo but of upholding the welfare and enrichment of those upon whom love shines its light.  Love is not interested in merely pointing out how another is wrong or unworthy, but with drawing one out from the tentacles of error into the wonder and freedom of God’s truth (see 1 Corinthians 13).

Once we begin to understand and come to grips with this amazing and life-changing attribute of God, we find ourselves being transformed by it. It grabs hold of us and we find ourselves woefully undeserving of it, yet it wonderfully comes to us nonetheless because that is what God’s love does.

It motivated the Father to send His Son as Savior for all who will receive Him so that the yawning gulf that separates us from God might be spanned. It motivated the Son to spend His own life on a cross He did not deserve so that the reality of a literal hell might be averted for any who would receive His gift of forgiveness. It motivates the Spirit of God to abide in we who are God’s children through faith in His Son, transforming us from mere sinners into the likeness of Jesus Christ today! And it motivates us as God’s Children, through the leading of His Spirit, to give ourselves away on behalf of those around us, undeserving though we may think them (but in truth no more undeserving than any of us).

God’s love is what moves us to speak words of encouragement to one who is broken by fear or weariness of heart. God’s love is what moves us to share with those around us when they are in need. God’s love is what moves us to stand up for those who are oppressed and are victimized. God’s love is what is moving millions of Christians today in making a difference in the world around them! Because of His love, they are determined to show His compassion, share His truth, and shed His grace into the tear-ladened vales of calamity and crisis, warming hearts that have been frozen by fear, grief, and pain with fires of passion for the One Who loved them first.

“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers…. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 3:16, 4:9-12 ESV).

So let us truly love in this day of need. Let us love as Christ has loved us and thereby give Him glory and give the world hope.  Allow the warmth of God’s love even now to thaw your outlook for 2016 as He turns your heart towards Himself and others to His love through you!

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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When the humble-hearted
                Lifts his eyes unto the hills,
As he looks beyond them
                To the only One Who stills
The raging storms of fear
                And the swirling winds of life,
He finds help for his trouble
                And strength to live his life.
 
Just Who is this Helper?
                Who is mighty for the weak?
Why does He care for those
                Who have no voice to speak?
Who’s the One Who with His love
                Uplifts the sorrowed face?
Jesus is His holy name!
                Lord of hope, King of grace!

Copyright ©  Thom Mollohan

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There is something very strange going on in the lives of many Christians I know.  It seems to me that they possess the insidious perception that their Christianity is all about a lifestyle and/or general affiliation, so they therefore experience little in the way of power in their personal lives.  But if it is true that the God on Whom they call indwells their very selves, should there not be a meaningful realization of His power in their circumstances?

That people do not see the power of God for what it is and what it means for the believer is evident in their interpretation of their circumstances and the responses that arise within them.  The despair, the hopelessness, and pattern of bad choices in which they remain all indicate that there is no genuine conviction that there really is help from “on high” to sustain and aid them.

Enslaving habits, the bondage of negative attitudes and the like, as well as the ongoing brokenness resulting from relationships that are dysfunctional are all the horizontal evidences of a lack of right vertical alignment and indicate a divine disconnect.  Such a disconnect, logically, results in their failure to receive such power as could (and should) be delivered to them for utilization in the lives that they lead.

Of course, the term power for many conveys various images and ideas that don’t necessarily coincide with what God Himself necessarily intends for us in the hum-drum rolling along of life as everyday activities and demands incessantly threaten to quagmire us in ruts of boring tedium or stressful anxiety.

For instance, when many use the word “power”, they envision earthquakes, fire, mighty winds, and thunderous booms.  Others see it as a prodigious means to things like financial excess, vocational success, popularity and acclaim, or even divine healings.  Obviously, a God Who can speak entire galaxies into existence and knows when even the smallest songbird falls to the ground can (and does) at times manifest such power according to His loving and eternal purposes.

But the greater miracles and the most profound workings of His power are done invisibly and must be sought for inwardly.  In the Gospel of Luke chapter 5, verses 17-26, the Bible recounts Jesus’ encounter with a man who was paralyzed.  The man’s friends, after a short misadventure involving some minor demolition of a man’s house, lower their paralytic friend in front of Jesus Who promptly does a work of awesome power:  forgiving the man’s sins.  Those witness to the proceedings casually dismiss Jesus’ words (and works) as a “non-miracle” (because they couldn’t see it), but the Lord then backs up what is the genuine outworking of His power (forgiving sin) by a simple restoring of strength to the man’s legs.

“Which is easier,” Jesus says to them in verse 23, “to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk?”  The point is clearly that what people wanted in their small-mindedness and lack of authentic spirituality is a short-cut for what faith really is:  daring to trust God on His terms and entrusting ourselves to Him in obedience.

While some will tell you that faith is all about insisting on God doing things our way and in our time, real faith is risking ourselves on believing both in God’s power to turn “all things for good for those who trust Him and those called according to His purpose” (see Romans 8:28) and also in God’s everlasting love that is willing to subject us to temporary measures of suffering in order to produce in and for us (and for His glory) an eternal victory.

Power, as God intends it, is that which turns our hearts to Him and aligns us with His will for our lives.  Not only that, it is also what keeps us on course when winds of doubt and affliction taunt and torment us.

Power, as God intends it, is that which turns our hearts to Him and aligns us with His will for our lives. Not only that, it is also what keeps us on course when winds of doubt and affliction taunt and torment us.

Where does such power come from?  It comes from reading (and believing) His Word, the Bible.  Do you want more of God’s power in your life?  There is only one remedy then for your desire:  obey His Word.

After all, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him Who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV).

Copyright © Thom Mollohan

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