"Jesus said, ... I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." ~ John 14:6

"Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." ~ I Corinthians 3:7

Christmas reminders

May the Christmas GIFTS remind us of God’s greatest gift, His only Son.

May the Christmas CANDLES remind us of Him who is the “Light of the world.”

May the Christmas TREES remind us of another tree upon which he died.

May the Christmas CHEER remind us of Him who said, “Be of good cheer.”

May the Christmas FEAST remind us of Him who is “the Bread of Life.”

May the Christmas BELLS remind us of the glorious proclamation of His birth.

May the Christmas CAROLS remind us of the son the angels sang,
Glory to God in the Highest!”

May the Christmas SEASON remind us in every way of Jesus Christ our King!

Text Copyright © 2001-2017, Tony Cooke

The Glory of Christmas

"The Glory of Christmas is the Glory of Christ
and the Glory of Christmas is the Story of His Love."

'Twas the Night Before Jesus Came

'Twas the night before Jesus came and all through the house
Not a creature was praying, not one in the house.
Their Bibles were lain on the shelf without care
in hopes that Jesus would not come there.

The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowling a head.
And Mom in her rocker with baby on her lap
was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.

When out of the East there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash!

When what to my wandering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here
With a light like the sun sending forth a bright ray
I knew in a moment this must be THE DAY! 

The light of His face made me cover my head
It was Jesus! returning just like He had said.
And though I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.

In the Book of Life which He held in His hand,
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said "It's not here" my head hung in shame.

The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.

I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I had been ready tonight.

In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus is drawing near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all!
                                           (c) Bethany Farms

Not me ... but God

I need to focus on God
not on me
not on how I imagine myself
not on how I imagine you
not on my reality
nor yours
as we each perceive it.

but on who we each are in Christ
on our reality based on His
and on who we are as one united in Him.

I am everything in Christ
I am nothing without Him
For without Him, I stand alone.
(c) Cathy Orrick Luders
Dec. 16, 2018

"Today, if you will Hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts.
" ~ Hebrews 4:7

Home-going celebration for Anna Leeper

Anna Leeper, known as "Miss Anna" by Pastor Jim, had her home-going celebration Monday morning, Oct. 29, 2018, at Immanuel Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids. Here is the link to her eulogy:

Here is the obituary published Sunday, Oct. 28, in The Gazette, Cedar Rapids:

Taken at her
105th birthday celebration 
Anna Leeper, 105 1/2, passed into the Lord's presence Thursday afternoon, Oct, 25, 2018, at Higley Mansion in Cedar Rapids with her daughter, Joyce, at her side. A Cedar Rapids resident for 87 years, she lived in her own home until moving to Higley just before Christmas 2017.

Anna's home-going celebration will be officiated by longtime friend, Pastor James Luders. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 29, at Immanuel Baptist Church, 1900 F Ave. NW, with an hour visitation at 9:30 a.m. Burial: Shiloh Cemetery, Hiawatha.

Anna was born March 1, 1913, a daughter of Herman and Anna (Bellema) Ronnenberg, on a farm near Sparta, Ill. She attended school and worked in Sparta. Just before her 18th birthday, she moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and met Ray Leeper. They married on June 24, 1931, celebrating nearly 66 years together until his death in 1997.

For several years, Anna worked at the meal site at Jane Boyd Community House. She was a member of the Over 60 Club and Immanuel Baptist Church. She loved nature, especially the birds, poetry, crossword puzzles and the happy times spent with her grandchildren. She enjoyed reading her Bible and listening to Bible study preachers on TV.

She is survived by two daughters, Doris Carrillo of Lancaster, Calif., and Joyce Nebel (friend John Willmsen) of Cedar Rapids; seven grandchildren, David (Robyn) Nebel of Cherokee Village, Ark., Kathy (Billy) Roberts of Moberly, Mo., Janet (Steve) Howe of Cherokee Village, Ark., Wendy (Amy) Rainbolt, Marlin Rainbolt and Marie Carrillo, all of Lancaster, Calif., and Anna (Spencer) Smith of Canyon Country, Calif.; 20 great-grandchildren; four stepgreat-grandchildren; 16 great-great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; an infant son, David; four brothers; three sisters; three sons-in-law, Richard Nebel, Wendell Rainbolt and Manual Carrillo; and a grandson, Leonard Agoado.

Memorial donations may be given to Immanuel Baptist Church, The Salvation Army or donor's choice.

The family is thankful for the kindnesses and concern shown and meals provided over the years by neighbors and friends, with a special thank-you to Nikki and Jeff, Lisa, Cathy Luders and Carlos Mendoza. The family also is grateful for the exceptional care provided by the staff of Higley Mansion and Hospice Compassus. 

Papich-Kuba Funeral Service, Cedar Rapids, is serving the family. 

Where would we be?

Where would our Faith be if not for the trials that test it?

Where would our Patience be without anything to endure or experience or without tribulation to develop it?

We would be without The Father's infinite, unmerited and unchanging LOVE.

We would be without His Son, the Lord Jesus.

Based on readings from Streams in the Desert devotional from Aug. 10.

When God Created Fathers

Erma Bombeck wrote a newspaper column from the late 1960s to 1996. She was well-known for her story on "When God Created Mothers," but unbeknown to many, she also wrote one about fathers. Read it below.

When the good Lord was creating Fathers he started with a tall frame.

And a female angel nearby said, "What kind of Father is that? If you're going to make children so close to the ground, why have you put fathers up so high? He won't be able to shoot marbles without kneeling, tuck a child in bed without bending, or even kiss a child without a lot of stooping."

And God smiled and said, "Yes, but if I make him child size, who would children have to look up to?"

And when God made a Father's hands, they were large and sinewy.

And the angel shook her head sadly and said, "Do you know what you're doing? Large hands are clumsy. They can't manage diaper pins, small buttons, rubber bands on pony tails or even remove splinters caused by baseball bats."

And God smiled and said, "I know, but they're large enough to hold everything a small boy empties from his pockets at the end of a day...yet small enough to cup a child's face in his hands."

And then God molded long, slim legs and broad shoulders.

And the angel nearly had a heart attack. "Boy, this is the end of the week, all right," she clucked. "Do you realize you just made a Father without a lap? How is he going to pull a child close to him without the kid falling between his legs?"

And God smiled and said, "A mother needs a lap. A father needs strong shoulders to pull a sled, balance a boy on a bicycle, and hold a sleepy head on the way home from the circus."

God was in the middle of creating two of the largest feet anyone had ever seen when the angel could contain herself no longer.

"That's not fair. Do you honestly think those large boats are going to dig out of bed early in the morning when the baby cries? Or walk through a small birthday party without crushing at least three of the guests?"

And God smiled and said, "They'll work. You'll see. They'll support a small child who wants to ride a horse to Ban bury Cross, or scare off mice at the summer cabin, or display shoes that will be a challenge to fill."

God worked throughout the night, giving the Father few words, but a firm authoritative voice; eyes that saw everything, but remained calm and tolerant. Finally, almost as an afterthought, he added tears. Then he turned to the angel and said, "Now, are you satisfied that he can love as much as a Mother?"
The angel shutteth up.

Taking One Day at a Time

"As your days - so shall your strength be!" ~ Deuteronomy 33:25 

One Day at a Time!
(c) by Annie Johnson Flint

One day at a time, with its failures and fears,
With its hurts and mistakes, with its weakness and tears,
With its portion of pain, and its burden of care;
One day at a time, we must meet and must bear.

One day at a time, to be patient and strong,
To be calm under trial, and sweet under wrong;
Then its toiling shall pass, and its sorrow shall cease;
It shall darken and die, and the night shall bring peace.

One day at a time--but the day is so long,
And the heart is not brave, and the soul is not strong,
O piteous Christ, be near all the way;
Give courage and patience, and strength for the day.

Swift comes His answer, so clear and so sweet;
"Yes, I'll be with you, your troubles to meet;
I will not forget you, nor fail you, nor grieve;
I will not forsake you; I never will leave."

Not yesterday's load, we are called on to bear,
Nor the morrow's uncertain and shadowy care;
Why should we look forward, or back with dismay?
Our needs, as our mercies, are but for the day.

One day at a time, and the day is His day;
He has numbered its hours, though they haste or delay.
His grace is sufficient, we walk not alone;
As the day, so the strength that He gives His own.