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The Impact of Testimony

Posted around lunch time by Jackina Stark

I wish I could remember the exact statistic and where I heard it or read it. I have no trouble whatsoever accepting what I recall, though, because of what so many people have told me around the country.

I believe it is true that fewer than 10 percent of us “testify” to our children. I think we assume they know what is in our hearts. But too often, they really do not know what we’ve experienced with God and how we feel about him. Somehow, and perhaps my personality had something to do with it, I thought to tell our daughters quite a bit. I’m so glad.

Each of my daughters on separate occasions during their high school years called me into their rooms to tell me something they knew would mean so much to me. They said they would tell their children what they had come to know about the Lord and how much they love him. They believe so many young people leave the church because they don’t see well enough the relevancy and beauty of Jesus and God’s written word. Our testimony can make a difference.

We can testify in many different ways. One of the easiest is to read the word in an age appropriate and significant way with them and then react to the word in meaningful application for our current situation. You can do the same thing with the Word in other mediums. Today very young children can be exposed to God’s Word in videos like the Veggie Tales series. There are videos available for older children as well.

I’ve also bought Christian music videos for our older grandson. They powerfully proclaim the word in moving and memorable ways.

Praying with our children also is a way to testify. Their hearing our praise, confession and petition leads them into those areas as well.

But when I think of testifying, I think mainly of telling of our personal experience with God. Our girls were deeply affected by the legacy of their grandparents’ conversion. This is one of the stories we tell often, reminding ourselves of what it means when we have Christ in our lives and when we don’t.

My dad’s favorite song begins: “Years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not if was for me He died-on Calvary.” I’ve seen him throw his head back and sing that song with such gusto. I know how much he believes it: “Mercy there was great and grace was free. Pardon there was multiplied to me. There my burdened soul found liberty-at Calvary.” This song is his testimony.

Mom’s is simpler: “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”

I always say the church didn’t find my parents; my parents found the church. They were desperate, and somewhere along the way, they had heard of the grace of God. So when I was nine, my parents accepted Jesus, and amazing grace transformed their burdened souls.

And we children were never again left with a baby sitter on Friday evenings, standing at the window late, late at night waiting for them to come in from “partying.” Never again did we lie in our beds hearing them scream jealous accusations at one another. Never did we find Dad “Passed out” at a dirty kitchen table or see him standing slump-shouldered and sad in front of the dining room sideboard with the word “divorce” on his lips. Never again did we see despair.

They were truly converted. Jesus was their love and their Lord. The old ways of doing and thinking were replaced by new. They sobbed when they came down the aisle to accept Christ, for it began at that moment and has continued for forty years—their celebration of Calvary and amazing grace.

There are other kinds of testimony. Next week I’ll discuss some of them before moving on. Meanwhile, what has God been doing for you or showing you lately? I hope you’ll find a way to tell someone.



More on Their Children after Them

Posted around lunch time by Jackina Stark

On the phone this afternoon, our fifteen year old granddaughter Mariah asked us to “Come back!” Come back? Are you kidding me?

We had left her house in Branson only the night before. She’s getting used to seeing us now that we are there so often checking on and working on the house we’re building down the hill from them.

She put pictures of the house in progress on facebook. She’s pretty excited. We were home alone for awhile yesterday. Her mom and brother were at an out of town ballgame, and her dad and papa were working on the electrical work for the house.

Mariah came upstairs after her shower and found something rare—a quiet house. I like quiet, so while she was downstairs, I had turned off the television and the music and sat reading in silence. She flopped down on the carpet near me, and covering herself with lotion, said, “Ma, this is so relaxing!” She was amazed by the rest that comes from quiet. 

When we finally move into our house early this summer, she plans on coming down for a dose of quiet every day. I wish all the grandkids, including the three Meyers in California, could come down every day for a dose of quiet or laughter or hugging or snacking or chatting or any good thing we enjoy together.

These are some of the components of having fun with the grandkids, one of the two things our daughters wanted us to do for our grandchildren—our job description I call it. I can’t think of anything easier or nicer than enjoying them and loving them.

Such joy is epitomized by what our first grandchild Jake did when he was fifteen months old. We stood together in the doorway of the living room while his mother sat talking to us in the glider rocker in the corner of the living room.

Jake went over to Stacey and pulled on her as though he wanted to take her somewhere and show her something—which was his custom at the time. He did, in fact, take her to the middle of the living room. Then he left her there, came over to me, pulled me into the rocker, and climbed into my lap and let me rock him to sleep.

Let’s see. How happy was I? Grandchildren seem to provide endless happy and tender moments. When Mariah was three she told her mom she wanted to go to “Jopin” so her Ma could hold her and watch “Dalmatians.”

Our loving them has made the grand children as happy as it has made us. Jake, when he was four and living eight hours away, told his mom one day, “Don’t talk about my Ma, I’ll start cryin’.”

We’re off to California soon to see sixteen-year-old Jake and the other two Meyer grandkids (and their parents of course), and I can’t wait. If you believe their very believable voices on the phone, they can’t wait either. Loving grandchildren—what a job!

The other task on our job description is as important as loving and enjoying them. Along with the Deut. 4:9 mandate to teach their children after them, Deut. 11:19 serves as written objective: “Teach them (God’s words) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Many forces work against their relationship with God, but we believe we can help equip them to be faithful servants of the most high God. We are trying to equip them by doing the four things we did to equip our daughters.

Do you hear four blogs coming right up?



In the Shadow of His Wings

Posted in the mid-morning by Jackina Stark

I started this blog over a year ago for a couple of reasons.

During the twenty-eight years I taught at Ozark Christian College, I often started class with a devotion I had written. I did this especially in my analytical grammar classes, which afforded me little opportunity, except in sentences I selected to diagram, to connect personally with my classes about the things of God.

I’m sorry or happy to say that the typical grammar student remembers my devotions far more than he or she remembers how to join subordinate clauses to main ones.

A former student and I attended a conference recently which featured a verse from Colossians that sent me into a grammar fit such as I have not had in years. I couldn’t rest until I had diagrammed the glorious monstrosity and began to discover at least some of its implications.

I was never quite gifted enough to help most of my students understand the value of such analysis. But many of them did grasp my passion for the things of God, and for this I am grateful.

Often they asked for copies of my material. I thought a blog on my website would be an excellent way to share some of my things with former students and with new readers alike.

Last week I introduced a series on grand parenting that I’ve been wanting to post. I will get back to that next week, but this week I want to pause and tell you about a passage of scripture I read earlier this week.

It seems like the right thing from God’s word comes along at the right time when you want God to lead and challenge and comfort.

Tony and I have close family members who are struggling with serious health issues. Sometimes I’m quite sad and frightened.

So it helped enormously to come across Psalm 63 in my reading. I haven’t diagrammed it, but I’ve memorized a group of verses from it, and they have become a prayer I whisper many times a day. I recast it a bit and pray it for those I love as well.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
My soul clings to you;
    Your right hand upholds me.

Whatever you’re facing this week, I hope you cling to him and know that he is upholding you in his right hand.



Their Children after Them

Posted around lunch time by Jackina Stark

I answered the phone seventeen years ago and discovered that our older daughter Stacey was in no mood for pleasantries: “Mom, come over here and see if you think this test is positive.”

Stacey and her husband Steve had been married only four months and were going to think about having a baby after he graduated in two years and became established in a full-time youth ministry. They hadn’t been married long enough to know things don’t always go as planned.

I guess that’s why Tony and I found Steve sitting in the recliner and Stacey in the matching rocker staring at the floor in shock when we walked through the door to check the pregnancy test. Stacey took me over to her kitchen table where I looked down at the most obvious plus sign I had ever seen.

Tony and I couldn’t help but smile, and we’ve been smiling ever since. Even Stacey’s warning didn’t sober us. Pointing at us for emphasis, she said, “We’re not in this alone, you know.”

That was her way of sweetly inviting us in. Thus the era of grand parenting began.

No, my darling Stacey, you are not in this alone. Like so many other Christian grandparents, your father and I are pleased to do what God Himself exhorts us to do: “Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children, and to their children after them” (Deut. 4:9).

I wrote a non-fiction book just over twenty years ago, called Framing a Rainbow, with the subtitle: Teaching your children they’re loved and teaching them to know and love God. If there’s anything we wanted our daughters to know it is these things.

Of course, the second part of that subtitle is too bold a claim for any book. But we thought we could help them at least glimpse their creator, sustainer, redeemer, and friend, and we believed that glimpse would draw them to him.

As mothers themselves now they’re dedicated to the same thing, believing as we did that showing their children how much they love them and teaching them what they know about God would equip them not only to cope with the world in which they live, but also to enjoy it, and even to bless it.

So, as grandparents, though we are not the primary care givers and responsibility is not as great, our goal is much the same. I can’t think of anything more important that loving our grandchildren and pointing them to the one who loves them most.

That is our two-fold job description, and I’ll elaborate on that description next week, and then in the weeks that follow tell you some of the ways we tried to accomplish the second of the two glorious “jobs.”




Shonda or Gus and Mandy?

Posted around lunch time by Jackina Stark

Let me begin with an apology. I’d like to blame what will soon follow on the snow storm that greeted the Joplin area on this the first day of spring. Better that than blaming myself for procrastinating the day away instead of conscientiously working on a blog entry. Better that than blaming friends who actually braved the elements this evening and came over to eat Tony’s stew and play cards till past our bedtimes.

(Ceri, dear former student, if this blog comes in four times like it did last week, no, it is not because you need to meditate on the message therein. In fact, I strongly suggest you delete this now before you read another word.)

The truth is I’m bummed. I can’t seem to make the third novel I’ve been working on into the story it needs to be. I’ve reconceived it three times, and still it has problems. Never mind the things that work in the story, too many things still don’t. It’s quite aggravating, among other more serious and blog-worthy adjectives.

So, in my frustration, I’ve been thinking about shelving the thing and turning my attention to something else.

But what?

I’m not the kind of writer who has stories waving their hands in the air begging to be told next. This makes me doubt my calling, but, thankfully, I once read about a successful writer who sits in his chair after sending off a novel and refuses to get up until he gets a new idea. How happy I was to know there’s another writer who doesn’t have to keep ideas at bay with a chair and a whip.

I’ve heard and read that a speaker has three seconds to capture the attention of an audience. I doubt an author has much more than that when readers open a novel. Thus, the first page, even a first line, is extremely important.

Years ago in a moment of frivolity, or folly, I made a list of first lines. They follow, and if by chance you’d like to vote on the one you would gladly pay good money for (with the story to follow, of course), just leave a note below with a key word from your favorite. (I realize it will be a hard decision.)

Ted dragged himself into the back yard and out to his postage stamp garden plot to work the soil with his trusty tiller; he hadn’t dreaded this kind of labor since he was eight and had to help pick up sticks from the back yard after high winds had unexpectedly hit Jasper Country.

Shonda sat in Dr. Shay’s waiting room, excited by the prospect of spilling out of her 36A.

I had thought this trip to the mall would be no different than any other.

“Ask not,” Lou said earnestly, “for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for everyone—it’s an ice cream truck!”

I could think of only one thing—it repeated itself like the old song playing on the juke box in the bar next door to the motel room I slept in one night when I was a kid—“If only I could still wear leggings and four inch heels.”

I rued the day we bought those stupid bird dogs when the kids ran into the house shouting at the top of their lungs: “Gus and Mandy are stuck!”

I think that I shall never see the fog coming on little cat feet.

Her favorite bush grew lush and symbolic-like all over the side of the porch; thus she named me Lilac.

Susie’s cat hated going outside, and when Susie, who loved the cat as though he were her cat, tried to make him, he dug his claws into her chest and screeched like a mountain lion.  (Ironically, Susie’s cat was named Comfort.)

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