Author Archives: rlbaer

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One arrow in the centre of a dart board

Are You Perfect?

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by Ruth Baer

When my granddaughter Hannah was about 7 years old, she made an observation about me as we all sat down to dinner. “Grandma, I’ve never seen you sin.” What would you say if your child or grandchild said that to you? Would you be proud or happy that she noticed? Or would you be surprised and a little taken aback?

It’s been said that what children learn is caught more than taught. What that means is they really understand what you are teaching them by the example you are giving them. So, it’s important as we teach them about Jesus, our Savior, that they actually see that He is our Savior!

As we live out our lives as moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, do our children see that we are sorry for our sins, do they see us practicing repentance, taking responsibility for our actions, and living in such a way that they know our God has forgiven us? When we offend someone, or don’t keep our word – no matter the reason, do we ask for forgiveness? It’s very important that we do what we say they should do with regard to our relationship with Christ. If we want Jesus to be their Redeemer, He must be ours.

The Lord was gracious in giving me a response to Hannah when she made that observation. I told her that my thoughts are not always good thoughts, that Jesus said if we hate in our hearts, then we have murdered and broken his commandments. And although she had not yet observed me sinning, I surely did and had to ask Jesus to forgive me every day. I also explained that if I didn’t do something I knew should do, that was sin as well, and I would need to repent of it and ask Jesus for forgiveness. I assured her that Jesus always forgives, because that’s why He came to die – so that God the Father would forgive our sins.

It turned out to be a family conversation around dinner that night, and Hannah knew that her Grandma was not perfect. In fact, she learned that no one is. We all must rely on the grace and gospel of Christ to make us righteous and holy.

So how do you answer that question? Do you know that you are utterly depraved and in need of a Savior who can forgive every sin? Do you know the Redeemer who graciously extends forgiveness because of His sacrifice and love for you? Most importantly, do your children know that you know the Redeemer – really know Him. Not just the facts about Him, but know Him intimately.

May our children and grandchildren and generations yet to come know how great a Savior we have, not only by our teaching, but by our example of living!


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heart_gratitude

How Can I Be Grateful When My Heart’s Not in It?

By Ruth Baer

Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems to be going so well? At work, at home, at church – both privately and publicly? You’re in the Word and praying for all on your heart? God seems to be on the throne in your experience, and life couldn’t be any sweeter.

Then BAM! Out of the blue something hits you, something horrible happens to a loved one, something you’ve been praying about & thought God was answering, but now you’re not so sure. Your heart hurts, you are overwhelmed with sadness for this loved one – how do you thank God in the midst of that sadness, in the midst of seemingly unanswered prayers? That’s the kind of week I had!

Our pastor’s been preaching on how to integrate our emotions with our faith. You see, we are made in the image of God, and we have emotions, just as He does. As emotional beings, so how do we thank God during the season when things don’t look so good for the future of your loved one?

First and foremost, we run to God’s Word. I run to the Psalms where the psalmist resonates with my feelings. Ps 55:6-8 – I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. I would flee far away and stay in the desert; I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.” Yes, Lord, can I please just run away?

Then there are the imprecatory psalms in which the psalmist calls for God to utterly destroy those horrible people who have done such unjust things! If you don’t know what those are, click here for a description – Oh, Lord, would just please destroy the evil one?

Finally, I find the Psalms that do my heart the most good. Ps 91, an all-time favorite of mine, entreats me to find refuge in my God. Ps 91:1-8 – Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Ah, Lord, the place that I would fly away & hurry to my place of shelter, that’s YOU, Lord?

Secondly, I cry out to God – I argue, I entreat, I weep, I remind Him of His promises, I become completely undone in His presence, for I am brokenhearted. And then He reminds me….

 

  • He reminds me He never changes. He’s the same all-loving, Sovereign God He was the day before when life was going my way. Heb 13:8 – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
  • He reminds me He is faithful even when I am unfaithful, even when my loved ones are unfaithful. 2 Tim 2:13 – if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.
  • He reminds me of His covenant promises, of His faithfulness in Scriptures through the generations – that those promises are for me and my loved ones. Rom 4:16 – Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.

 

Thirdly, as He reminds me, I remember. I remember His character, His promises, His faithfulness and how He has proved them over the course of my life. I remember how He has worked (and still is working) in my own heart, during other times of trials. I remember how He has forgiven me when I sinned, how He protected me when I was really stupid. I remember my loving family and friends rallying around me, helping me. I remember my church community and their love and support. I remember He is my refuge, my shelter! That is where He purifies and heals my heart…and I am grateful!

This Thanksgiving, no matter what you may be struggling with, run to Jesus, in Word and in prayer. Be honest with your feelings and let His mercy, grace and truth wash over you anew.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. Col 3:15-16

May you and your family experience Christ’s peace this Thanksgiving and be grateful!


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aunt tense

Storytellers

by Ruth Baer

We buried my Aunt Tense a few weeks ago. She was 94, lived a long life and died peacefully in her sleep. Her son, Larry, led the funeral service. All of us gathered together to say our last goodbyes – we came from near and far. There were the Colorado families, the Chicago cousins, the “local” relatives (Southern Illinois) and one aunt from Japan, who happened to be in Illinois at the time.

We are a large family on my mother’s side. Only 2 out of 10 siblings remain: my Aunt Shirley who lives in southern Illinois and my Uncle Pat who is a missionary in Japan. Larry reminded us of who we are by telling stories of days gone by and God’s faithfulness to us throughout our lives. Aunt Tense, he said, loved Jesus and shared with us how God had provided for her all her life.

There were so many stories! We caught up with each other’s lives, held and loved the newest baby family members, and remembered our many reunion stories. In fact, as strange as it sounds, this was a reunion of our family – we came together during a not-so-pleasant circumstance, and we loved each other well.

The “first cousins” are now the older generation! And we saw it – the look our children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, great-nieces, great-nephews had as they learned about their family heritage, about how we love and comfort each other because we are family.

Larry shared from his heart that he was comforted by seeing so many family together to celebrate Aunt Tense’s life and lay her body to rest in the ground. Oh, we all knew Aunt Tense was with Jesus! But the little ones didn’t know or understand; it was up to us to tell them, to show them how it looks, how it works. It is up to us to tell them Who the Great Comforter is and to let Him comfort us during the times of grieving.

Then we all went to the graveside. After a brief reading of Scripture and prayer, we visited Grandma & Grandpa’s graves (Aunt Tense’s and my mother’s parents). There we took pictures.

mary arthur

 

 

 

 

 

And remembered and shared more stories. We reminded ourselves how much Grandma loved Jesus and prayed consistently for all of us. Then we headed off to eat together in that little So Illinois town of Murphysboro, where Grandma & Grandpa and all 10 children called home. And as we ate with one another, we remembered and told more stories to each other and to the next generation.

That’s what family does, and that is what God expects. He tells us in Ps 78:

I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.
He decreed statutes for Jacob
and established the law in Israel,
which he commanded our ancestors
to teach their children,
so the next generation would know them,
even the children yet to be born,
and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God
and would not forget his deeds
but would keep his commands.

God wants us to tell our children, our grandchildren stories from the past! Why? So they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds!

Grandparents, parents, what stories are you telling your children? Do they see how good and faithful God is in YOUR stories? One day our physical bodies will be gone, but our stories will continue through the generations. May we pass on the stories in our families that show the truth of the Scripture – that Jesus Christ is our guide, our Comforter in this life and the next, that God is faithful to do all that He promises, and that He leads us to our heavenly Home!