Skip to content

Long-time readers of this blog will know that Rusty Wright has contributed many articles to it over the years. Some have been co-written by his wife Meg Korpi. I was very sad to learn that Meg has passed away after suffering with cancer for the last few years. Today's post is a tribute to her, written by Rusty, and shared with permission.
---------

Meg Korpi 1953-2016 Wonderful wife, committed partner, faithful friend
Meg Korpi 1953-2016 Wonderful wife, committed partner, faithful friend

Recently, when my wife, Meg Korpi, was dying of cancer, a longtime friend offered some advice I'm really glad I heeded.

"Hutch" Hutchins told me I should write a tribute, expressing what she's meant to me and how much I love her. I should frame it, give it to her, and read it to her personally.

Meg was on home hospice care after a three-and-a-half-year struggle with ovarian cancer. I was her primary caregiver – a demanding, 24/7 responsibility – and was reeling with exhaustion. But his advice clicked. I read the tribute to her on May 21, our 16th anniversary.

It had a very positive effect…calming, soothing. She seemed at peace, contented, with brightened spirits. It was one of her last lucid days before dying a month later.

Tribute to a rare jewel

Meg was a rare jewel. In her wedding vows, she had said she wanted me to feel like "the most blessed man alive to be married to" her. I did. In this tribute, I told her that in her, God gave me:

• A gorgeous bundle of fun, adventure, character, and faith

• A godly woman who walks closely with Him

• A faithful friend – my very best friend – and companion

• A keen mind to help me think through life's sometimes perplexing issues

• A wise counselor with sound advice at crucial junctures

• A determined spirit to prompt me to reconsider my course when needed

• A sweet lover (Whew!)

• A fun woman, whose sense of humor brings delight. I love to laugh with you!

Thank you so, so much for loving me unconditionally; for honoring and respecting me; for caring and encouraging; for listening to my heart; for sharing my joys and hurts; for looking out for my interests; for being there through good times and bad; for facing life with me as long as we both shall live.

I love you very much, and am eternally grateful to be your husband.

* * *
Lots of laughter

We loved to laugh. As world travelers, sometimes we laughed about language translation complexities.

60 Minutes television veteran Mike Wallace, speaking through an interpreter, once asked former Russian president Boris Yeltsin if he weren't being a bit "thin skinned" in his sensitivity to media criticism. The interpreter goofed, telling Yeltsin that Wallace had said, "You are a thick-skinned hippopotamus."

Shortly after we married, a speaker at a Miami meeting I attended told of efforts to translate a biblical love poem into the language of a Kenyan tribe. The phrase, "Your beauty is like that of the lily," did not connect with the rural East Africans, for whom lilies were mere cattle fodder. Their culture highly esteemed the cow, not the flower. On the advice of tribesmen, the translators rendered the romantic phrase: "You are a black cow in a herd of spotted cattle."

The speaker relating this tale suggested I use that compliment on my new bride, without explanation. Since Meg was returning to California from Philadelphia that evening, I left the cryptic greeting on our home answering machine. A few hours later, my Miami phone rang. Her first words: "And you are a thick-skinned hippopotamus!"

Most important lesson

At her memorial celebration, I presented all this, then briefly noted a conviction we shared deeply, the most important thing I’ve ever learned. I'm indebted in many ways to my Jewish friends and their heritage for it.

One ancient Hebrew book describes Job, who, despite his slew of troubles, affirmed, "I know that my Redeemer lives." (Job 19:25) That gave him hope.

A skeptic in my youth, I didn't believe my Redeemer lived. I thought it was a fairy tale. Then, my first year at Duke, I heard a lecture about Jesus' Resurrection evidences, given by Bob Prall, who later became my mentor. Jesus was executed and declared dead, wrapped like a mummy, placed in a tomb. A huge stone covered the tomb's entrance, which Roman soldiers guarded. Most of his disciples fled in fear.

Sunday morning, the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, but the grave clothes were still in place. Jesus appeared alive. Frightened disciples became martyrs because they believed he had risen.

Attempts to explain this away didn't work for me. The guard was too powerful, the stone too heavy, the disciples too timid. I realized it was true. Jesus had successfully predicted his own Resurrection. If I could trust him in areas like this where I could test him, I had grounds for trusting him in areas where I couldn't test him, such as eternal life and how to obtain it. He said, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." (John 11:25)

Comforting? True?

Is it comforting to me that I'll see Meg again and spend eternity with God? Absolutely. But it's only comforting because I believe the evidence indicates it's also true. If it weren't true, it wouldn't be comforting.

I realize this is a controversial subject, and you may not agree. If you've not examined the Resurrection evidences, may Meg and I gently and politely encourage you to take a look? Lots of good books and websites present them. Our own site – which Meg designed and built – also presents them. RustyWright.com

We know our Redeemer lives. We hope you can as well.

And…I love you, Sweetheart.

* * *

You can visit Lasting Memories for more on this remarkable woman, including a lovely 5½ - minute memorial presentation of Meg's life (images and music; put together by several family members).

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents. He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively. www.RustyWright.com

I love to go to Christian conferences, partly because I love to learn and to see things from fresh perspectives, but I also love to meet new people who are already sisters and brothers in Christ. Even if our opinions on some matters differ, we are all on pretty much the same wavelength. Our beliefs are similar enough that even though we may have never met before, we are like family. Being with them gives me encouragement in my faith, knowing I am not alone. That is not true for us in every environment we enter, and it was not at all the reality for Jesus’ disciples. There were such a small number of people who were followers of Christ while He walked the earth, and so many more who followed the religious leaders of the day or who were heathens, that the disciples faced a lot of doubt, criticism and persecution.

Before Jesus was arrested and crucified, He prayed for His disciples. Jesus knew that because His disciples had believed in Him, the world would hate them. So Jesus prayed that the Heavenly Father would protect them. John 17:15 tells us that Jesus did not ask God to protect them by taking them out of the world, but that He would protect them while they stayed in the world. That did not mean that the disciples would not face physical harm or discomfort. We know that they did, but Jesus' prayer was that their souls would be protected from Satan for eternity. Jesus had a purpose for His disciples to be in the world and not isolated from it. He wanted them to represent Him and His Word to those around them. He wanted them to spread His love, joy, grace and truth to others. That purpose and Jesus’ prayer still apply to us today. John 17:20 includes us if we believe in Him.

I think sometimes we expect that if we follow Christ our lives should be comfortable and full of blessings, and so we are always disappointed or frustrated when the opposite happens. We should not expect life to be easy, but we can expect God to give us the strength we need to face it. Are you being criticized by others for your beliefs? Do those people represent Jesus or the world? If they represent the world, do not try to win their approval. Instead, represent Jesus in a way that will glorify God, and trust Him to protect you from the evil one.

I love to listen to people give their testimonies and to hear how their lives have significantly changed because they have given their hearts to Jesus. Some of them recount pretty dramatic transformations—conversion from a life of crime, freedom from drug or alcohol abuse or other harmful ways of living. For some, they found freedom from their old desires the instant they accepted Jesus. Sometimes people have changed their entire focus in life, from being high finance, career-oriented business people to becoming missionaries for the poorest of the poor in Haiti or sub-Saharan Africa.

II Corinthians 5:17 tells us that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation—the old has gone; the new has come. Of course, such remarkable changes as the examples listed above are not always evident in every person who becomes a follower of Christ. For one thing, they may not have found themselves in such a dramatic position to begin with. Some of us work at putting our old habits behind us every single day. And very often we feel like we have failed because we keep fighting the same battle over and over again. Contrary to what some people imagine, life doesn’t become sweet and easy just because you decide to follow Jesus. As a matter of fact, sometimes it gets a lot harder because Satan gets a little upset when we change sides. So we will always have the battles to face. (John 16:33) The good news is that God isn’t surprised at our imperfections. He already knows all about them, and He doesn’t condemn us. (Romans 8:1) Jesus took all the punishment for all of those imperfections when He sacrificed Himself on the cross. Our penalty has been paid, and God loves us like He loves His own Son. There is absolutely nothing that we can do that can separate us from His love, (Romans 8:38-39) even if we make the same mistakes over and over again.

Becoming a new creation does not necessarily mean an instantaneous transformation from our personalities and habits. It means that we see Jesus, ourselves and other people differently, (II Corinthians 5:16), and because of this we strive to be the people that God wants us to be. (Ephesians 5:1) Our choices are based on different priorities, and we keep doing our best to make the right choices even if it is a challenge. It might take a lot of time and a lot of hard work, but there will come a day when the battles are over, and the creation that God envisioned us to be is complete. The effort will be worth it.

1

Today's post was written by Tim Challies.
---------
I spent much of my day yesterday wrestling through a couple of biblical genealogies (and enjoying every minute of it). I found myself reflecting on the end of the book of Ruth where we encounter a short but powerful genealogy. But before I get there, I want to remind you of the final scene in Ruth.

As the book comes to a close, we are given a glimpse of a little scene that is fun to picture in your mind. Boaz has married Ruth and the Lord has blessed them with a child. It seems here like after the child is born, the women of Bethlehem gather the baby and bring him to Naomi’s home to announce the birth and to celebrate with her. The women carry the baby from Ruth and Boaz’s house and approach Naomi’s home dancing and celebrating, taking joy in her joy. They come to her praising God, fully aware that this child is proof of God’s covenant-keeping favor. They even declare that Ruth is more to Naomi than seven sons, that Ruth is more to Naomi than the perfect family with perfect sons. (Ruth 4:14-15) That’s quite a tribute!

In a legal sense this was Naomi’s child; he was born of Ruth, but it is the child of Naomi and Elimelech, the child who will carry on the family name. Naomi will now serve as a kind of foster-mother, helping to raise this child. (Ruth 4:16) You can picture Naomi weeping and worshipping as she takes the child from the women and pulls him to her chest. So many promises are fulfilled, so much love expressed, so many prayers answered. God has been faithful to his covenant. He has given an heir and he has restored the land.

And they lived happily ever after. The story of Ruth began with Naomi leaving the land with her husband and two sons. Naomi suffered almost unbearable tragedies, but here she is at the end, cradling that little baby to her chest—that little baby who is God’s declaration that he is a covenant-keeping God, that he loves Naomi, that she has not been forgotten or forsaken. Naomi has experienced the deepest kind of emptiness, but here she is full, restored, whole.

The end?

Kind of, but not really. The narrator has one little surprise left for us. He has held one thing back that he will include in a postscript.

Before we get there, it’s worth pausing and considering the story without its postscript. If there was not another word to Ruth, what would we learn from it? We would see God quietly ordering all things to fit his plan and to bring him glory. He has transformed Naomi, he has called Ruth out of darkness into light, he has faced Boaz with a challenge and allowed him to prove his godly character and to be a display, a reflection of the love of God. He has answered prayer and given hope and remained faithful to his own covenant promises. All of this and so much more has been displayed in just a short story.

We would also want to observe that even the most mundane of moments, the millions of little circumstances that make life what it is, each of these is a sacred moment, an opportunity for God to work and an opportunity for us to trust and serve him. There on the road to Bethlehem Orpah walked away from Naomi, she walked away from God and all his promises, while Ruth declared her allegiance to Naomi and Naomi’s God. It could have been a forgotten moment, but it was sacred, a moment of worship. Ruth went out into the field to work, the most mundane of tasks, but there she encountered Boaz. Boaz went into his fields to oversee the labor and spotted a foreign woman, doing the lowest job there was. And in that moment he extended favor to her; the most normal moment became the most significant.

In these ways and so many others God used the small circumstances to bring about his purposes, to contribute to the unfolding of his plan. When you believe that God is sovereign, you must also see that there are no mundane, insignificant moments in life. Boaz had no idea that helping Ruth gather barley would lead to him fulfilling Naomi’s need for an heir. Every moment, every circumstance, is an opportunity to serve God, to declare your allegiance to him, to proclaim your trust in his promises. This is true when we work and worship, when we fellowship and commute and check email and eat dinner and go shopping and give birth and everything else that makes life what it is. We can’t choose the moments and the circumstances that God will use to unfold his plan. All we can do is be faithful with every moment he gives us. God is always there in the background, at work, on the move, even or maybe especially when we do not see him.

That is Ruth without a postscript. There is a lot we can learn. But as it happens, there is a postscript that begins to show God’s fulfillment of even greater promises. And we see that the author has one final, parting shot. It comes in a strange form—the form of genealogy—a list of names of fathers and sons. Those verses essentially say, “Oh, by the way, this little baby, this little boy…it’s the grandfather of the great king, David.” This isn’t just any baby. Obed was the father of Jesse, the father of David, the king. (Ruth 4:17)

That must have been exciting to the people who first encountered this book. Ruth was probably written during the reign of David when people were contesting David’s kingship and the story declares that though David’s great grandmother was a Moabite, she was an Israelite in the truest sense. This is not just some abstract story, but a story about the king’s family. The king is worthy of his calling. He is worthy of the throne. He is a true Israelite. A true king.

The Lord kept his covenant, he continued to bless his people. He even provided them with a king, one who would take them past the era of the judges and rule over them as the Lord’s representative, as the king God declared “a man after my own heart.”

That is amazing. Let’s not lose the wonder of it. Naomi and Ruth and Boaz are all related to the king, they are all royal. That’s a great surprise at the end of a story, but it’s not enough. It answers Naomi’s need for an heir but it does not answer her deepest needs. Naomi was a sinner, a person who was in rebellion against God. As good as Ruth and Boaz were, they too were still sinners, still in rebellion against God. Naomi’s need for provision, her need for an heir to perpetuate the family name, her need for land and family—all of these things were simply emblems or pictures of her much deeper need. She needed more than an heir; she needed a Savior, someone who could make her right with God.

So why then are we left with a genealogy, a list of fathers and sons? (Ruth 4:18-22) We tend to skip over these genealogies, don’t we? But maybe we just don’t taken the time to really ponder them, to really understand them.

There is a genealogy in the New Testament, in the book of Matthew, that repeats this one from Ruth, it encompasses it. It’s much longer and this bit of it fits right into the middle. It begins with Abraham. It goes from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah to Perez and on through Ram and Amminadab and Nahshon and Salmon and Boaz. “Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth,” it says. And from Boaz and Ruth it goes to Obed and Jesse and David the king—the king of Israel. But it doesn’t stop there. It keeps going. David fathered Solomon who was the father of Rehoboam who was the father of Abijah, and on it goes, generation after generation, through Jehosaphat and Joram and Uzziah and Ahaz and Hezekiah and then on to Zerubbabel and Azor and to a man named Eleazar who fathered a man named Matthan who fathered a man named Jacob who fathered a man named Joseph who was the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is called Christ, anointed one, Messiah, Savior, King eternal, King immortal, King invisible, King of the Jews, King of the nations, King of kings, Lord of lords, Lord of glory, Lord of all, Redeemer.

And there, there is the best surprise of all. Here is God’s better fulfillment of his better promises, God’s deepest answer to our deepest needs. This is where we have such an advantage over the people who first encountered the book of Ruth. To understand the book you have to put yourself in their world, to get into their minds, so you can see the story through their eyes. But now they long to see through our eyes, so they can learn how this story truly ends. They saw the big surprise that Ruth and Boaz were great grandparents of the king. But what they couldn’t see—though maybe they suspected it or hoped for it or longed for it—is that from this line, from these people, would come the Messiah, the full and ultimate and final redeemer.

And when you understand that, the story just explodes in meaning and significance. Now we see it—the true need, the true famine, the true fullness, the true Naomi, the true Boaz, the true heir, the true Son, the true redeemer. It is Jesus who is the great surprise at the end of this story, the great climax to the tale, the great hero, the greatest answer to all the prayers and longings, the deepest answer to the deepest need. It’s all about him.
---------
You can visit Tim's website here.

2

In December 2009, a friend of mine, a 39 year old wife and mother of six, had a routine medical exam. Not long after she was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. She died on this date two years ago. On that same day a teenage girl also died of a cancer that she had been battling much longer. Two days ago a dear friend’s mother also died of cancer. She was 66. Other friends and family members of various ages have also died of this savage disease, but for some reason, it hits home a little harder on February 10. And cancer is just one of the many trials we face in this world. It’s so frustrating! It seems so unfair!

There is no doubt that we should expect trouble in this world, (John 16:33) but we can also be assured that God still cares for us through the hard times. We do not face these hardships because God has stopped caring for us, but because we live in an imperfect world. God, however, is not imperfect, and He has compassion on those who humbly seek Him. Psalm 34:18 assures us that He is close to the brokenhearted and will deliver those who are discouraged. Sometimes the deliverance takes longer than we want it to, and it doesn’t necessarily come in the way we expect. Psalm 34 is David’s testimony of how the Lord delivered him, and his assurance that God will do the same for future generations as well.

The King James Version translates the last part of Psalm 34:18 as those who have a contrite spirit. It makes sense that being humble would be a requirement for God’s deliverance. God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Psalm 51:17 tells us that the sacrifice that God desires is a humble spirit; a humble and repentant heart He will not reject. If we come to God humbly, and lay our burdens at His feet, (Psalm 34:15, Matthew 11:28) He will be gracious to us, bring us through the discouragement and heal our broken hearts.

I believe that the grace of God is much more amazing than we as humans can comprehend, and yet it is available to each one of us. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the dire situation that the human race was left in because of Adam’s sin. Then verse 4 starts with “But God”. It begins the explanation we find in Ephesians 2:4-7 of God’s mercy and grace. Mercy means that we are not given the punishment that we deserve. Grace means that we are given the salvation that we don’t deserve. Both are given to us because of Christ, a fact that is repeated three times in these four verses, and they are gifts that are available to anyone, even the thief who was minutes from death on the cross beside Jesus. Because of Christ we have been transformed from spiritual death to spiritual life. We have been raised up in Him, and when this life is over we will be with Him in the heavenly realms. Spiritually, we are already there. This was made possible only because He loved us enough to die as a sacrifice in our place. Can you even begin to imagine this?!

I am also encouraged by Ephesians 2:7 which tells us that the surpassing wealth of His grace will be demonstrated to us in the coming ages. It is only going to get better and better. We will continue to know God more and more, but what I find most uplifting is that we are not expected to know it all right now. God’s love and grace is beyond what we can fathom, but there is a lot that He has already made known to us as well. He has given us the gift of the scriptures, His Holy Word, so that we might learn more about Him and His great love at our own pace. No pressure. It’s a gift.

4

  • God loves us so much, and He gave (and gives) of Himself for us.  He wants us to follow His example.  (Ephesians 5:1-2)
  • God wants us to be pure and holy.  This takes discipline and self-control.  (Ephesians 5:3)
  • Our words should be gracious, uplifting and grateful.  (Ephesians 5:4)
  • We all make mistakes, but a person who has accepted Christ has accepted Him as Lord and wants to be like Him.  (Ephesians 5:5)
  • Don't bow to peer pressure.  (Ephesians 5:6-7)
  • Live as children of light--full of goodness, righteousness and truth.  Find out what pleases the Lord, and then do it.  (Ephesians 5:8-10)
  • Darkness cannot overpower light, but light can overpower darkness.  (Ephesians 5:13)
  • Make conscious decisions about how you live based on God's will. (Ephesians 5:17)
  • Don't get drunk, because you will lose your self-control.  (Ephesians 5:18)
  • Let your joy come from the Spirit rather than from drink. (Ephesians 5:19)
  • Always be filled with gratitude to God.  (Ephesians 5:20)
  • The way we treat each other should reflect our reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
  • God has roles for husbands and wives, but neither is expected to submit to abuse of any kind from the other.  If both do their parts, and follow Christ's example, what a team they would be!  (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Please share your thoughts on Ephesians 5 in the comment section.

'Tis the season of cookie exchanges, and I'm listening to Christmas carols as I get ready for one. I have a lot of Christmas CDs, but this year I have a new one--The Heart of Christmas by Matthew West. There are some traditional Christmas songs on it, but also some that he has written. One of them is called "One Last Christmas" which is a sad story about the loss of a child. The parents however have turned it into a story of hope for others who are facing similar situations by raising money for the hospital that treated their son. We celebrate so many blessings at this time of year, whether consciously or unconsciously, that we really need to consider giving to those who are hurting or are less fortunate. Acts 20:35 reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Please listen to Matthew West's song and consider giving to St. Jude's or a hospital in your area or any other charity that helps people in need. You can purchase his CD at his website or, particularly if you are in Canada, by giving a donation to another worthy cause at FullCircleTV.com

---------
Fair Disclosure: I receive no payment of any kind for this recommendation.

1

I believe that the grace of God is much more amazing than we as humans can comprehend, and yet it is available to each one of us. Ephesians 2:1-3 describes the dire situation that the human race was left in because of Adam’s sin. Then verse 4 starts with “But God”. It begins the explanation we find in Ephesians 2:4-7 of God’s mercy and grace. Mercy means that we are not given the punishment that we deserve. Grace means that we are given the salvation that we don’t deserve. Both are given to us because of Christ, a fact that is repeated three times in these four verses, and they are gifts that are available to anyone, even the thief who was minutes from death on the cross beside Jesus. Because of Christ we have been transformed from spiritual death to spiritual life. We have been raised up in Him, and when this life is over we will be with Him in the heavenly realms. Spiritually, we are already there. This was made possible only because He loved us enough to die as a sacrifice in our place. Can you even begin to imagine this?!

I am also encouraged by Ephesians 2:7 which tells us that the surpassing wealth of His grace will be demonstrated to us in the coming ages. It is only going to get better and better. We will continue to know God more and more, but what I find most uplifting is that we are not expected to know it all right now. God’s love and grace is beyond what we can fathom, but there is a lot that He has already made known to us as well. He has given us the gift of the scriptures, His Holy Word, so that we might learn more about Him and His great love at our own pace. No pressure. It’s a gift.

1

A few days ago, a friend shared a photo on Facebook that I thought represented Psalm 91:4 beautifully. I shared it on the Memos From God Facebook page. I particularly like that verse in the New International Version: He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge. In my Bible a feather marks that page.

Psalm 91 is one of the most reassuring chapters in the Bible. First of all, it tells us that God who is sovereign, almighty and trustworthy will rescue us and protect us. The words are figurative and symbolic, but surely that is their message. It goes on to tell us of all the kinds of dangers from which we will be protected, and assures us that He will be there for us to save us. That all sounds excellent, but is it true? The Bible also tells us that we are guaranteed to face trouble, (John 16:33) and this Psalm doesn’t tell us that we won’t see those dangers, only that they won’t overtake us. But how do you explain the fact that faithful Christians suffer—disease, tragic circumstances, financial ruin—and sometimes die at a very young age? Where is the truth of Psalm 91 then?

Two particular circumstances come to mind—the death of several friends at too young an age, and the fact that Albert Chretien is still missing in the Nevada wilderness after seven months. How can we say that those people are protected from all the dangers in the world? Perhaps the sense of being protected as described in these verses is not the same as avoiding trying circumstances altogether. Perhaps all the trying circumstances we go through have a purpose, something to teach us. Perhaps it means that we will be rescued from them in the life to come. Perhaps we need to dwell in the shelter of the Most High, rather than just visit occasionally, in order to experience this refuge. Perhaps we just can’t imagine how awful life could possibly be without God’s protection, a protection that we actually experience without fully realizing it. John Calvin has said, “When we look back on our life from the perspective of eternity, we are going to see that the power of Satan was so great, that the weakness of our flesh was feeble, and that the hostility of the world was so strong, that every day of our lives—if God had not intervened—we would never have made it through a day.”

What I do know is this: God knows better than I do. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that His ways are not like our ways. Just as the sky is higher than the earth, so His deeds and plans are higher than ours. And His grace is sufficient. (II Corinthians 12:9) Whatever trials we have to go through, He will give us the strength to endure them. What we need to do is trust Him, and be devoted and loyal to Him. (Psalm 91:14) He will take care of the rest.

---------
Update:
Al Chretien has not yet been found, and I would like to ask for extra prayer right now as hunters begin to enter the area for deer hunting season. This is Al's best chance of being found before winter returns.

Rita Chretien has now shared her story publicly. You can see the report here.