Massachusetts Woman Sees Image Of Jesus On Her Iron

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METHUEN, Mass. ?? A Massachusetts woman who recently separated from her husband, had her hours at work cut, and moved into an apartment, says an image of Jesus Christ she sees on her iron has reassured her that “life is going to be good.”

Mary Jo Coady first noticed the image on Sunday when she walked into her daughter’s room.

The brownish residue on the bottom of the iron looks like the face of a man with long hair.

The 44-year-old Coady, who was raised Catholic, and her two college-age daughters agree that the image looks like Jesus and is proof that “he’s listening.”

Coady tells The Eagle-Tribune she hopes her story will inspire others during the holidays. She says she plans to keep the iron in a closet and buy a new one.*

………

When I first read this story,? I shook my head in disbelief.? To me the residue looked as much like the Sphinx or a poodle as it does a person.? To me, I thought, it would reassure me I needed to clean my iron.

But then the Lord convicted me of my condescending arrogance and lack of compassion for this poor woman.? Recently separated, work hours cut, having to move into an apartment, probably from her home, and desperate to be reassured that “life is going to be good.”? How sad, lonely and hopeless she must feel to be starting life over at 44 without a husband.

How heartbreaking that her religion seems to have failed to inform her that God speaks through his Word, and that she’d be so desperate she’d look to a smudge on an iron for hope.

How tragic that she doesn’t appear to know that the Bible is filled with promises from God – wonderful, bright promises that he’ll never to leave us nor forsake us, that he will never cease doing good to us, that he causes all things to work together for our good.

How pitiable that she doesn’t seem to know that though life isn’t always good, God is.

And how heart-rending that she believes some residue on the bottom of her iron would prove that “he’s listening,” that she wouldn’t know “The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry,” and “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (PS 34.15, 17, 18).

How merciful God has been to reveal to me that the Bible is God’s very word, his love letter to me, by which I can fellowship with Christ.? How kind God has been to give me his “great and precious promises,” upon which to build my faith, and not “signs” on irons.? How merciful God’s been to assure me by his Word that he cares for me and will provide for me.

Let’s give thanks today for the gift of God’s Word, and pray for this woman and multitudes of others to come to a true knowledge of Jesus and a hope that is sure.

*Foxnews.com, AP

Time For Cowboy Breakfast Again

For those of you looking for new holiday traditions, consider having Thanksgiving breakfast on the North 40.

Ever since my kids were little, on Thanksgiving morning I?ve gotten up early — well not that early — and prepared our annual “Cowboy Breakfast.” What is a Cowboy Breakfast, you ask? First of all, it is a breakfast that cowboys would eat: scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, fried onions, fried green peppers, fried apple slices, and toast — preferably not whole wheat or some other healthy abomination. The whole thing is gloriously cholesterol-laden, and rich in saturated fat.

A cowboy breakfast has two basic rules: first, manners are forbidden. I started this rule because I was always working on manners with the kids the other 364 days of the year and figured they needed one day a year off.? (?I?ll tell you why it matters how you hold your knife.? When you?re grown up, you might just be invited to the President?s house for dinner.? If you don?t know how to hold your knife you?ll look like a bumpkin.? Do you want to look like a bumpkin in front of the President?)

So the Cowboy Breakfast no manners rule means you can talk with your mouth full, slurp, eat with your fingers, put your elbows on the table, burp, and lick your plate if you want to.? All these are encouraged.? You don’t have to say “please” and “thank you.” You can say, ?Gimme them eggs.?? Everybody can talk at once. You can wipe your mouth on the back of your arm.

The second rule is you must talk in a cowboy voice and utter cowboy-like sayings, for example, (in Texas accent) “Jonny, after we?re done chowin? down here, I want you to get up to the north 40 and fix that fence.? We got dogies (not doggies) runnin? all over tarnation.? Man, these eggs is mighty good if I do say so m’self.? Consarn it!? I just dripped grease all over my new chaps.? Hey woman, kin I git you to clean ?em after yer done fixin? that leak in the barn and skinnin? that buffalo I shot this mornin??? I?d preciatate it a heap.?

This Thanksgiving we?ll do our Cowboy breakfast for probably the 20th year in a row.?? We?ve had cousins and other families join us, and it?s one of our favorite traditions.? The kids don?t do the cowboy voices much these days, but they still want to do the breakfast.

So around 7:30 or 8 Thanksgiving morning, you?ll find me in our kitchen slicing potatoes and firing up several frying pans full of oil.? And I?ll still be talkin? like a cowboy, consarn it, even if nobody else wants to.? Now where?s that woman got to?? I need my socks darned.

This article was originally published November 19, 2008.

photo by anyjazz65

Jumpin’ Catfish Filets, Batman!

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It’s an unusual day that begins by answering a knock at the back door and one is greeted by two grizzled fishermen offering a bucket of 8 live bullhead catfish.

That’s how my day off began.?? I met them the evening before fishing at a local lake, and had talked with them a while.? Their “salty” language didn’t bother me, but when they found out I was a pastor, it suddenly bothered them, and they profusely apologized for using such words around “a man of the cloth.”

I gave them a personal tract with my address on it – what’s more natural than giving your address to total strangers you just met in the middle of nowhere?? Apparently they fished all night hoping a bucket of catfish would atone for their vocabulary.? I graciously accepted it, since I like catfish and didn’t want to refuse their hard-earned gift.

Cleaning catfish is not for the timid.

Catfish are notoriously hardy creatures and can live outside water for some time.? They’re very hard to kill.? They don’t have scales like most fish – their skin is smooth and slimy.? To remove it, you lay the live catfish on a board,? hammer a large nail through its head, cut the skin the whole way around the head, grab the skin with pliers and pull toward the tail.? Then you gut the fish, cut off its head and tail, leaving a nice filet.

After cleaning each cat, I put the filet in the sink.? While working on fish number 4 or 5, I heard a noise in the sink.? When I looked in (play Twilight Zone music here), I was astonished to see the filets in the sink twitching and flipping, like a fish might flip around when you catch it and plop it on the shore.? No heads, no tails, no skin – just chunks of fish flipping around in the sink.? Apparently, nerves were still firing in the dancing filets.

Amazing – the fish were dead, but still kicking.? Like chickens with their heads cut off running around the barnyard. Like the sin that remains in a Christian’s life after regeneration.

Before we’re born again, we’re in “the flesh” – our fallen nature.? But when Jesus saves us, he strikes a death blow to our sin nature, and gives us a new heart and a new nature, born of the Spirit.? This is now our dominant nature.? Our old nature, though crucified, is not dead yet – it still seeks to exert its influence and entice us to sin.? It’s like the filets in the sink, still twitching and flipping.

Eventually the chunks of catfish stopped moving.? Similarly, someday our sin nature will be obliterated.? In the meantime, we must not be surprised when our old self twitches, jerks and rears its ugly head.? Indwelling sin doesn’t go down without a fight.? But fight we must, killing our sin day by day, confident that Jesus will complete his sanctifying work in our lives.

So don’t give up – keep fighting the good fight of faith.? Keep killing that sin by the Spirit’s power.? Victory’s on the way.

photo by doug.deep

Advice For A New Homeowner

I just bought a new house. My first house. Praise God.

Slight problem though. I know nothing about owning a home. I own a screwdriver, a hammer, a pair of pliers, and a tape measure. All previous home repairs have been done with duct tape.

If you told me that the headlight fluid on my radiator gasket needed to be replaced, I would believe you. I wish that Tim “the toolman” Taylor was my uncle.

So what advice would you give to me, the new homeowner?

Extreme Makeover – Heaven Edition

I love the show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I’m not an emotional guy, but I always get choked up when I watch the show. I just can’t help it.

One of the reasons that I love the show is because it’s a faint echo of what each Christian will experience when he or she comes face to face with Christ in heaven. For example:

Wrong Made Right

The show revolves around wrongs being righted. A family loses its house in a fire or a mom contracts leukemia and can’t live in her old, mildew-ridden house. By the end of the show however, everything is made right, and is even better than before. The homeless family receives a luxurious mansion tailored for their special needs. The family sheds tears of relief, because their hardship has been transformed into beauty.

Heaven is going to be the same way, but infinitely greater. Every injustice made right. Every tear wiped away. Perfect safety and peace in the presence of our Savior. Everything that has been twisted and torn by sin will be made right on the final day. Ty Pennington and his crew can make some things right. Jesus will make all things right.

Extravagant Generosity

The folks on the Extreme Makeover team take creative generosity to a new level. They build a house for a ravaged family and then pay the mortgage in full. They create a special bedroom for each person that reflects that person’s passions and desires. They raise money for the family and send kids to college. They bring in celebrities and do food drives.

The result? The end of every show is one “Oh my goodness” after another. The family is blown out of the water by the unmerited generosity they’ve received.

We’re going to experience the same feeling when we stand before Christ and are rewarded for our obedience. We’re going to exclaim, “You’re going to reward me? For that little act of service that was stained by sin? Oh my goodness. I don’t deserve this.” And then, as we’re overwhelmed by gratitude, we’ll cast our crowns back at the feet of the Savior.

The Loud Crowd

The family is always welcomed to their new home by a crowd that is going absolutely bananas. The people want to communicate their affection to the family and they want to see the family’s reaction to the new house. And so the crowd is screaming and giving high-fives and yelling, “Move that bus!”

We’re going to be embraced by a crowd in heaven. A multitude of saints awaits us, cheering us on even now, urging us to the finish line. When we arrive in heaven, we’ll hear their thunderous applause and shouts of, “You made it! I’m so glad you’re here! Isn’t God good?” Then we’ll hear the words we’ve always longed to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Finally Home

Every show concludes with Ty Pennington saying, “Welcome home family, welcome home.” The exiled family finally has a place to call home, a place for peace and rest.

We are exiles as well. As Randy Alcorn says, we were made for a person and a place. That person is Jesus, that place is heaven. When we arrive in heaven, we’ll immediately sense, this is the home I was always longing for. We’ll be with Jesus in the place we were made for. We’ll finally be home.

Do you like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition?

Calling All Weaklings

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“Whether to [work] or to suffer for our Lord, we must have strength from above, and that strength can come to us only through faith.? The remarkable mighty saints of Hebrews 11 accomplished all their feats by a power that was not in them by nature.? They were not naturally strong either to do or to suffer.? If they had been, they would not have required faith in God.? They were quite as weak as the weakest of us, but by their faith they laid hold on heavenly strength until they could do all things.” – Charles Spurgeon

The longer I live, the more I realize how absolutely weak I am.

I have as much power to change my children’s hearts as an ant has of knocking over a sequoia.? My desire to read Scripture is about as hot as a 3-day old used teabag.? My zeal to serve others pales next to my craving for comfort.? Oh weakling that I am!? Who will deliver me from my spiritual puniness?

The Lord puts us in situations that reveal our weakness so we’ll look to him for strength.? He leads us to the lapping waters of the Red Sea with Egyptians hot on our tail so we’ll cry out to him and see his mighty arm.? He throws us into a den with lions, or a rebellious teen or an unreasonable boss, so we’ll learn that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.

Weakness forces us to exercise faith in Christ.

It forces us to look up, to seek by faith strength outside ourselves.? It presses us to lay hold on heavenly strength.? When we’re up against the Red Sea with Egyptian hoofbeats and chariot wheels rumbling in our ears, we MUST exercise faith.? We MUST put our trust in God.

If we were strong in ourselves, we wouldn’t need faith.? If the Israelites had been a mighty army, they could have fought Egypt themselves.? But God exposes our feebleness to show us that our only hope is to trust in Christ to strengthen us, as Israel’s only hope was to trust God to deliver them.

Remind yourself that nothing is impossible to God, nothing is too hard for him.? Set your hope fully on God.? When you pray, thank God that the prayer of the upright is powerful and effective, even if you feel like your prayers barely limp off your lips.

Whether you need strength to do God’s work, or patiently suffer, lay hold on the might of the One who “gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint”? (Is 40.29-31).

photo by M.V. Jantzen

How Did We Receive All These Blessings?

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“[See] the way and method in which your mercies are conveyed to you.? They all flow to you through the blood of Christ and the covenant of grace.”? — John Flavel

?This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many” (MK 14:24). Christ?s blood sealed the ?everlasting covenant? in which God promised he “will not turn away from doing good” to his children (JE 32:40).? In other words, Jesus’ blood purchased all the good God does to us, from justification to glorification, and every blessing in between.

Though we deserve God?s wrath, believers enjoy every good gift of God. Instead of eternal punishment we enjoy Christ through his Word, worship and fellowship.? Instead of infinite pain we enjoy family and friends, espresso and pumpkin pie, football and watercolors. Immeasurable mercies flow to us through Christ?s precious blood.

In this Thankgiving season, let us sing praises to our lavish God for the blood of his Son!

Another Book Hint

As you know, I’m currently writing a book. I haven’t told many people what the book is about. But I’m dropping hints along the way.

Go to stephenaltrogge.wordpress.com

The password HINT for Clearance #1 is: November 22, 1963

The password HINT for Clearance #2 is: 33?23’39.35″N 104?31’22.89″W

If you figure out the passwords, come back here and leave comment clues for other people so they can join in the fun.

Helping God

I’ve got a two year-old daughter named Charis who loves to ‘help’ her dad.

When I’m getting ready for work in the morning, I hand her my socks and she ‘helps’ me by holding them until I’m ready to put them on.

She ‘helped’ me rake leaves the other day by dragging her rake through a pile I had already made and spreading the leaves throughout the yard.

When I see Charis helping me, I get a little glimpse of what our service to God is like. Paul said:

?…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.? (Philippians 2:12-13)

When Charis helps me, she is working with all her might. But in reality, I’m the one doing everything. I hand her the socks. I put them on my feet. And then I applaud her and thank her when I’m done.

We work with all our might, and yet it’s God who is at work in us. And He delights in our work. I’m grateful for grace, aren’t you?

What do kids teach you about the grace of God?