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Length of Days - Search for Freedom

Monday, November 29, 2010


“He started the whole world singing a song,” is the first line of the hymn by the same name.* It goes on to remind us, “The words and the music were there all along.” We know that Jesus is the Word and the Word spoke everything into being.

“Jesus?” some question. “I thought it was a big bang.” Can you imagine the volume of the words that brought forth all life?!

We are in the season of the year when the entire world sings the same songs, in unison, with one Christmas-filled, hope-filled voice. He truly did cause the whole world to join in song. Without his birth, there would be no: Silent Night, Ave Maria; Oh Holy Night, Angels We Have Heard on High; or Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer. There would be no joyous expectation or the hope of a better tomorrow. Without the birth, there would have been no death and resurrection for our redemption.

Over two-thousand years ago, a small baby in a manger ushered in centuries of song, of melodies that bury themselves in our heart and burst forth through the Holy Spirit that dwells within, with everything that is good and honest. just and generous, loving and forgiving, grace-filled and holy. Listen closely. A tiny baby is singing a lullaby to you and to me. The song will never stop because it was always in the air. It is only the listener who can stop the music that rings within. Let us pray:

“Holy Father of the infant child, we crawl near to the manger with a humble heart. From over the edge of the rough wooden planks, we can hear the sweet hum of the baby. His dear melody has been arranged into many songs, but the theme has been the same, “I love you. I have loved you always.” Forgive us for silencing the music by letting other noise drown out the heavenly songs. Even your Angels have spoken to us in song but we have preferred the cacophony of the world. We pray that you will permit us to be part of the choir, not the rabble outside. May the spotlight not be on us, oh Father, but at the end of a star-beam, the place where animals stabled, where shepherds gathered in praise and awe, and where melodious, soul-saving-song was born. In the name of the great composer of the life-song we pray. Amen”
Copyright 2010 Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.
“God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine.”

*Gloria Gaither, William Gaither, and Chris Waters. (1982). He Started the Whole World Singing. The Gaither Music Company, Alexandria, IN.

Monday, November 22, 2010


Rev. David Jeremiah was preaching as we drove to church yesterday. His message was on thankfulness for our plenty. His exact words are fuzzy. You may want to look up his statistics but it went something like this. “If you have any money in a checking account, any bills at all in your wallet, some change in a small dish in your house or car, you are among the 8% of the world’s wealthy.” And, we think we don’t have enough . . . of most anything.

Let us begin a new life of enough, plenty, and extravagant generosity! We have just come though a time in our history of high wages and good jobs. We spent most all of it, saved little, and helped few. Now we are back to God with our hands out. The sad part is, There is never enough!

There is never enough unless God is at the center of our life. There is enough with God. Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, moves in, fills every empty spot and chinks every hole in our heart.

A needy, selfish heart will hold fast the door, opening it only with a tribute or ransom. “Give me what I want and I will believe you and open the door.” A thankful heart will sing, “Thank you Lord for each of my blessings, the large and the smallest brush of your presence on my cheek. Fill me completely with your love and peace. Let me pass that peace on to others.” Let us pray:

“Dear Lord and Father of my life, I lift up your name in praise and worship. Holy are you and worth of praise. May your kingdom come swiftly and fill me completely, that I may be a living temple in which your Spirit may dwell. I know I am unworthy and can do nothing to earn your grace. Jesus, my Savior, has paid my price. This Thanksgiving season, Father, may I be aware of the richness of your presence, priceless beyond number and pilled high enough to reach all the way to Heaven. Forgive me when I have been careless with the gifts you have given me. May this Thanksgiving restart my journey home, aware of the awesome responsibility of being a disciple of Jesus. Ever step I take, leaves a footprint for another, every misstep leads another astray. Make my way clear, your voice heard, and the guideposts along my way bright. I am truly thankful for all your blessings. In the name of Jesus Christ, your son, I pray. Amen”
Copyright 2010 Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.
“God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine.”

Monday, November 15, 2010


We’re halfway through November today. What will the second-half hold? Right now, you’re either halfway through a good book, midway through life, or at the turning point of a crisis. How do I know? Because that’s the way life is. We finish one task, or one phase, or solve one problem, when we are hit with another. Let us reframe our perception that our life has been assaulted. Repeat after me, “Challenged by life, not broken by it.”

Life isn’t a series of events. It’s a flow, a melody of the sea, with high waves and low tides. Why are we so surprised when life happens? Thank the dear Lord for every moment of every day, every trial that shapes you, everyone who loves you, and every opportunity that comes your way.

Too often, we don’t feel blessed unless the gift is LARGE. Blessings come in all sizes. Would you want only one touch from God or blessings every day of your life? The small blessings are the real treasures. Anyone can see a flash of lightning across the night sky. Only a believer will notice the sunset and see a miracle. Let us pray:

“Holy Father, your name is precious to me. May my words always praise you, for you are worthy of praise. May your kingdom come, that I may dwell in your tabernacle every day of my life. This day, Father, I ask for eyes that can see your miracles all around me and ears that can hear your sweet voice whisper my name. May I discern your presence like a precious jewel, so I might string your small blessings like pearls on a thread. Forgive me when I have refused tiny gifts from you because I had asked for more—and didn’t receive it. How could something from you be too small? Only a small soul, a pinched heart, or a tiny mind could ever think that any blessing from God would not be adequate to meet my needs. How greedy I can be, never having enough, always wanting more, never satisfied. Forgive me, Father. Rather then attending to my needs today, Dear Lord, I ask that you bless those around me—those who need healing—those who need hope—those who grieve—those who are truly in want—those who long for a teacher to tell them of you. May I never quit giving in your name, saying, “I’ve done my part. I’m done. I’ve retired from life.” What a blessing it would be, to be nearing the Light, and still be working in the fields. May I have strength to work for you, speak for you, and love for you, until you call me home—and then realize, I am still not done, just halfway through. Let me realize, halfway through is the sweet spot, not the end. In the name of Jesus, our Savior, I pray. Amen”
Copyright 2010 Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.
“God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine.”

Monday, November 8, 2010


The man moved quietly through a small group in Rediger Chapel at Taylor University last week. Jerry B. Jenkins*came to sign books and speak to interested writers. The best-selling author had much to boast about but I found him to be humble and gracious.

You’ve heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, a trivia game based on the assumption that any actor can be linked through their films to the actor, Kevin Bacon, with six degrees of separation. Christians are the same. When I first arrived at Rediger, I walked down to the lower level where my office had been when I directed the Counseling Center there. A few people were in “my office” but I recognized no one. When Mr. Jenkins began to talk, I learned that his wife graduated from the same school as the niece of my husband, Fort Wayne Bible College. Also, his son graduated from Bethel College, another Counseling Center I directed. I discovered, there is one degree of separation–times three–between Jerry B. Jenkins and me and I had never met him before.

Many years ago, we drove past a home in Las Cruces, New Mexico where a car, with Elkhart, Indiana license plates, was parked in the drive. Bill went up to the door to inquire. Not only had the man and his wife been in Elkhart the week before, he had preached at my sister-in-law’s church.

The real miracle is, as Christians, we are all connected to one another by only one degree with no separation. We all believe in the same God and follow the same Savior. In prayer, we visit the homes and hearts of family, friends, and people all over the world who are on their knees at the same time. The blessed Family of God is close knit but not close-minded; they include brothers and sisters by the millions. Do not defame the body of Christ, his family–his church–with one-upmanship. Family members stick up for one another. There is no degree of separation between us and God and only one degree of separation between one another. Jesus Christ is our connection. Praise be to God for his family so dear. Let us pray:

“Our own dear Heavenly Father, we can never thank you enough for including us in your family. Holy is your name and the name of your church. Sometimes family members lower themselves to sibling rivalry when they love themselves so little they try to elevate their own status by putting others down. Forgive us. We are already lifted to the position of second-born of God! What a holy mystery we live, aware of our place at your table but shielded from your glory since it would be impossible to take in all your majesty. May we be people-gatherers to your feast, Dear Lord. May we reveal a tiny glimpse of you as we move through our days, just one degree of separation from all other Christians. We are but one degree from the great Saints who have gone before and one degree from those who watch us, for we are the only Christian they know. May we be worthy of the responsibility in spite of ourselves. In the name of Jesus, your son and our brother, we pray. Amen.”
Copyright 2010 Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.
“God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine.”

* Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, Left Behind Series.

Monday, November 1, 2010


“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God, the things that are
God’s.” Jesus recognized our obligation to the two worlds in which we live, our country and the Kingdom of God. We must take our responsibilities to both seriously. God is the creator and king of all that we are and he reminds us that we must also participate in the society in which we live.

Most of us believe that God gave our forefathers the discernment to lay the groundwork for the freest nation in history. We are people who dream our own dreams, make our own decisions, and set our own path, with our feet planted firmly on the way to glory. If we do not support this republic, it may be hundreds or thousands of years before our children rise above the tyranny of a burdensome, intrusive, and punitive government to forge their own way again. But, where will they go? What new worlds await them?

It is for this very hour, this precise time in history that we have been called to take our stand. We can keep the dream of freedom and democracy alive for the entire world, or we can roll over tomorrow morning and get a few more minutes of sleep before getting ready for the day. But, what day are we turning our back on? At what precipice are we standing? Do we close our eyes again and yawn our way all the way down the ragged cliff of indifference, or do we take our stand on November 2 and say, “I will stand in the gap? Those who want to take our freedoms will have to go through me!” God is in control of my life and my country–so shall it be–so shall it continue to be. Praise be to God! Let us pray:

“Father God, creator of all there is, we humbly give our country back to you. You inspired our founding fathers and whispered freedom in their ears and planted it in their hearts. We are your children and we are theirs. Forgive us when we have been too lazy to insure that our freedoms are protected. We have awakened, Father. We pray it not be too late. Freedom is alive and moving across this great land you have given us and we have heard the call to take our stand. We ask for your insight, your discernment, into the grave issues of our day. The questions are hard and the answers even harder–but you have the solutions. We as citizens, turn our hearts back to you, so that hunger, illness, loneliness, and the pains of life are handled willingly by our churches and communities, so that government does not impose their will upon free people. We ask that generosity flow like honey in the lives of people, and simplistic–enough–living once again take precedence over greed. We have been your children and now ask for wisdom to become your adults, taking on a mature roll in the life of your church and your Republic. We pray in the name of, and by the power of, Jesus, your son, our Savior. May it be so. Amen”
Copyright 2010 Doris Gaines Rapp, Ph.D.
“God gives us stories that testify to His love. Let me tell you mine.”