Monthly Archives: August 2017

Words to Live By

Blind Faith (No. 35, 2017)
Weekly Devotional for August 31, 2017
Words to Live By

Althea had lots of “favorite” Bible verses, but one passage stood out among
the rest. I don’t know whether she “officially” proclaimed it her “life
verse,” but she certainly lived by it. It was important enough to her that
she asked me to include the scripture quotation in my remarks in her wedding
service to Howard on her 85th birthday! Althea was my mother-in-law, who’s
94 years of faithful living ended on this world last week as she
transitioned to another phase of eternity with God. Her life bore abundant
testimony to the wisdom of her cherished scripture:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)

The deep foundational importance of these verses is evident in so much of
her life. I had the great blessing and privilege of observing almost exactly
the latter half of her years, meeting her 47 years ago when I picked Sherron
up for our first date. She was initially cordial and welcoming. The
qualities of her Christian faith grew in evidence from that first exposure.
Here are some of the aspects of her well-lived life that glisten with the
rich promise of this (and much, much more) scripture:

– Singing praise to God. Althea loved to sing, especially to sing
about her faith in God. In her early years she was a noted soloist and her
singing was sought for weddings, funerals, and other services of worship.
She sang in church choirs for decades. As her health declined and she was
not able to participate in choirs, she loved to sing hymns with Sherron and
anyone else who would sing along in her home. We gave her a hymnal for
Christmas, and she often asked Sherron to sing with her through it. Other
times she enjoyed reading the words of hymns as she imagined singing them.
When Althea’s mobility became limited she would watch a YouTube channel that
featured congregational singing of one hymn after another with the hymn
lyrics superimposed on the screen. Her voice faltered markedly in her last
years, but songs of faith in Jesus and praise to God remained vibrant in her
heart to the very end.

– Bible reading. Althea was a committed student of God’s word. She
loved the Bible and read it thoroughly. Reading the Bible was one of the
last activities she could pursue on her own. She would ask for her Bible and
her glasses and would read the scriptures for hours at a time. Sherron
verified that she was reading with comprehension by comments her mother
would make about the particular passages she had just read. She continually
found comfort and strength for daily life by reading the Bible.

– Church participation. About 3 weeks before her death Althea attended
worship on Sunday evening. It took her son, another caregiver, and a
wheelchair to get her there, but she was delighted to attend. She was active
in her churches all her life. She grew up in Fifth Street Baptist Church
(now Jackson Way Baptist), helped to launch new church starts, and was a
member of Whitesburg Baptist Church for more than 50 years. When Sherron
took over managing her finances Althea always made sure that her tithe and
offerings were prepared for the church. A testimony to the importance of her
church life was her reading and rereading the history of Whitesburg Baptist
Church. Often she would point out names of individuals, families, and
ministers mentioned in the book, as well as ministry events chronicled in
the pages. She similarly spent hours looking through the church pictorial
directory and commenting on – and, assuredly, praying for – people pictured
in the directory. She served both the church and the local Baptist
association faithfully in many roles. Her evident faith, gracious service,
and wise counsel were gifts she shared gladly with the church.

– Bible teaching. Not only did Althea enjoy reading the Bible, she
loved to teach it. She taught all ages during her lifetime. Numerous people
recalled at her memorial service that they attended Bible study in her
basement when they were single 20-somethings. Some were new to the city and
were touched by both the hospitality Althea showed them in her home and the
engaging Bible study she led. (Some veterans of the basement Bible studies
spoke of meeting their spouses there.) For years she taught the eldest
women’s Sunday School class at church. Once a minister visiting Althea asked
her, “Are you still teaching your Sunday School class?” “No!” she answered.
“Why?” he asked. “Because they all died!” she replied. Notes from which she
taught and brought the Bible to life for many people are faithful relics
cherished by her children.

– Ministry involvement. Althea continually put what she learned of
God’s grace by reading the Bible and taught to others into practical action.
She and Sherron’s father were instrumental donors, thrift store customers,
and employers of residents as the Downtown Rescue Mission was founded. She
was a longtime participant with CASA (Community Assistance for Senior
Adults), “homebound” ministries of her church, and volunteer activities
director of a local nursing home. The nursing home administrators highly
valued her contributions to the quality of life of the residents and did not
want to risk losing it, so they employed her in the job she created as a
volunteer. The myriad ways she offered personal support and care or met
various human needs flowed from her desire to demonstrate God’s love and
grace to all people wherever she was in the community.

– Sharing the gospel. Althea loved Jesus and her deep faith in God
fashioned her life. She wanted other people to experience God’s grace and to
commit their lives to Christ as she had. She supported and encouraged
sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in ways that were natural, hospitable,
and engaging. In her last years an increasing number of caregivers,
therapists, nurses, and assorted other people came to her home. She always
welcomed them, asked them about their work and families, and extended
hospitality as she could. Along with her warm greetings she always asked,
“Are you a Christian?” She truly wanted to know and for every visitor to
have opportunity to hear the gospel of Christ and to experience personal
faith. With so many people coming and going, she began to forget whether she
had met a particular person or not. An individual making several visits to
her home was likely to be asked, “Are you a Christian?” on each of several
appearances. Sharing Jesus with others was deeply rooted in Althea’s heart
and personality.

Many, many more facets of Althea’s life could be cited that bore
testimony to her active faith in Jesus. Her life was shaped each day by her
desire to be found faithful to God. Remember the Bible verse that defines
how she lived her life:

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding. {6} In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 KJV)

That was Althea’s way of life in a nutshell. Can you think of a passage of
scripture that is the cornerstone of your life or sums up how you live each
day? Althea’s verses from Proverbs are magnificent words to live by.

– J. Edward Culpepper

Dear Blind Faith Readers:

Blind Faith will retire as a weekly devotional with my 65th
birthday next month. I have enjoyed writing and sharing these promptings to
recognize God’s presence in events of each day, the enduring witness of
scripture, and other testimonies of faith. I have sensed that the time has
come for me to pursue other avenues of service, although the scope of such
opportunities is not fully evident to me yet. I am looking forward to God
guiding me to new endeavors as he has done in the past.

The last weekly posting of Blind Faith will be September 13. I
anticipate that Blind Faith devotionals may appear intermittently “as the
Spirit moves.” Weekly posts will not be the case. I deeply appreciate the
privilege you have given me of visiting via your e-mail In-box or FaceBook
news feed each week. Thank you for your responses, forwards, re-posts, and
faithful reading of Blind Faith. I will continue to pray that God will use
nearly 12 years of these writings spread across cyber-space to encourage and
build faith as he sees fit.

I borrow my concluding words from Peter’s reflections over his
ministry. This is what I have sought to do and pray that God will continue
to do through me:

do your best to add these things to your lives: to your faith, add goodness;
and to your goodness, add knowledge; {6} and to your knowledge, add
self-control; and to your self-control, add patience; and to your patience,
add service for God; {7} and to your service for God, add kindness for your
brothers and sisters in Christ; and to this kindness, add love. {8} If all
these things are in you and are growing, they will help you to be useful and
productive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.. {12} You know these
things, and you are very strong in the truth, but I will always help you
remember them. {13} I think it is right for me to help you remember .. {15}
I will try my best so that you may be able to remember these things even
after I am gone. (2 Peter 1:5-8, 12-13a, 15 NCV)

God’s blessings,
Ed Culpepper