Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Cares of this world can get you down.
They can be a distraction from what is truly important.
Cares of this world are like thorns
that choke the plants that grow
when the seed of the Word of God
is planted in our hearts. (Luke 8:14)
Cares of this world can weigh down
our hearts so heavily that
we cease watching and praying
and the Day of His return
could come upon us unexpectedly.
Cast your burden on the LORD,
And He shall sustain you;
He shall never permit the
righteous to be moved.
Therefore humble yourselves
under the mighty hand of God,
that He may exalt you in due time,
casting all your care upon Him,
for He cares for you.
(1 Peter 5:6,7)
Just like Philip casts his line
into the rippling water
so we can cast our cares out to Him.
He will sustain us
for He cares for us.
Why should we carry the cares of this world
when He is caring for us?
in the back of The Book.
Seven Letters Written to Seven Churches
Filled with Commendations, Criticisms,
Instructions, and Promises.
Read Chapter One to get a picture of Who
He is and What He Looks Like.
Read Chapters Two and Three
to hear what He Writes
to the Seven Churches.
Today, I am looking at the Rewards and Promises for those
Who repent and follow through with God's Instructions
to the end and by so doing,
are known as "Overcomers."
Reward #1-"To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God."
The fellowship Adam and Eve had with God in the Garden of Eden will be restored to us. We will eat from the tree which gives eternal life. We will walk and talk with God in His place of complete beauty and life.
Reward #2-"Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life. He who is faithful to the end shall not be hurt by the second death."
In those days, a garland or wreath shaped like a crown was awarded to athletic winners in a competition. A garland of life will crown the heads of Overcomers and they will never die.
Reward #3-"To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."
Would this be the manna hidden in the ark of the covenant?
My Bible notes say that '"juries voted for acquittal by casting a white stone in an urn. Special stones were also used as tokens for various purposes such as rewards for victors in games."
Also, "In the context of a Messianic banquet the white stone was probably for the purpose of admission."
And " 'New name' refers to the imputed character of Christ," revealed as a personalized blessing.
Reward #4-"Hold fast what you have until I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations-'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels'-as I also have received from My Father and I will give him the morning star."
We will share in Christ's triumph over the nations and be given Jesus Himself, as our morning star. I love this. The morning star reward is probably my favorite.
Reward #5-"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels."
We will be dressed as the Redeemed and Jesus will declare our name before His Father as a citizen of Heaven and as one who has overcome.
Reward #6-"He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name."
My Bible notes say, "A city often honored a notable citizen by erecting a pillar in a temple with his name inscribed on it. Thus the Lord will honor His faithful permanently (go out no more) by inscribing on them the name of My God, of the New Jerusalem, and of Christ, indicating identification with and possession by God, a spiritual citizenship, and a reflection of the character of Christ."
Reward #7-"To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."
Wouldn't that be wonderful? To be that close to Him? To sit beside Him on His throne?
It seems that the rebuke and the reward coincide with the particular struggle against sin that each church was experiencing. The reward is perfect for each church and serves as a personal motivation to push through, repent, and overcome.
~A Tree of Life
~The Crown of Life
~Hidden Manna and a Stone with a New Name
~Rule over Nations and Receive the Morning Star
~Faithful Honored and Clothed in White
~A Place in God's Presence, a New Name, and the New Jerusalem
~Share God's throne
It's gonna be worth it~
Repent, Renounce, Return.
It's gonna be worth it~
It's gonna be worth it all~
(Scriptures and notes taken from the New Spirit Filled Life Bible;
The New Internation Version Study Bible)
in the book of Revelations.
Each one is written differently and in accordance
with the strength and need of each church.
What God is saying to our church would be different than what God is saying to the church down the road. Of course, all Scripture is given to every church, but in Revelation, the letters were personally written to individual churches.
It would be easier to listen to the voice of someone we trust and apply what they tell us when they say that 'this' is what God is doing in 'the church' right now rather than to fast and pray with a few and with many and to discern the heart and mind of God for us as individuals and for our own particular body of Christ.
But this is a matter of life and death;
not about what is easier.
That is why we must prepare to make changes in our own lives
before we require change from those whose souls we must give account.
That is why must we read the Revelation letters
and discern which words are also written to us.
That is why we must repent and return and endeavor to overcome.
The price is too high if we do not do these things
and the rewards are too great to miss.
"One month has passed since our garage burned to the ground. Every day I remember the rapid response of the volunteer firefighters from Pamplin, Prospect, and Appomattox who were at the farm in a matter of minutes to extinguish the blaze.
Each one seemed to know what to do without getting in each other's way, and stayed until the buildings and surrounding woods were safe and free from smoldering embers.
As they were wrapping up their equipment and leaving, I didn't get to thank each one personally for giving their time, but their attitude was best expressed by Will Hix who said "We're here for you."
So to each one of the volunteer firemen who helped put out the fire, my family and I want to say thank you.
You served your community well the day before Thanksgiving, and gave us much to be thankful for."
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Tues.-Completely wiped out. Tidied house and did some wash. Finished the book Mom and Dad gave Freeman and Alli. Blogged.
Thankful that Susan got to sleep most of the morning into the afternoon. I thought she was asleep and then I noticed that she posted some things on face book. Thankful for my brother, Abe's call, returning Phil's, and that I got to hear his cheerful voice. He said that he has my blog earmarked. Makes me a little nervous. Thankful for rest. How can traveling make one so weary?
Wed.-First day I have had energy and have felt good for weeks. Got so much accomplished. Washed, cleaned, and played games with Susan and Phil in eve. Michael got back from Richmond. Has been there 3 days. Thankful for beautiful sunny day, for strength, and for the sense that I am finally 'waking' up.
Thurs.-Another good day. Phil to Dr. for sore eye. Must have gotten something in it. Also to chiro. for his sore shoulders that keep him awake at night. I wanted Vit. B from Dr. F. They didn't have any on hand so called and said that they were sending prenatal vitamins. I said, "Well, you never know." They said that he went white and held on to the counter. I heard him say, "Four's enough." Judy, Sammy Jo, Lindsay, Adi, and Emma came for lunch today. Alli had picked Susan up in the morning to take her to church to set up for the youth group's lock-in. Lindsay picked her up around 11:30 and brought her along back here. We had a nice lunch of mashed potato soup, sliced apples and veggies, Christmas cookies, cinnamon buns, and coffee and Lindsay's special popcorn. The little girls watched Toy Story 3 while we sat around and talked, planned sewing room organizations, and pieced together outfits for me from what I had on hand. Judy and I sang 'O Holy Night' while I played it on the piano and I had another great Christmas moment. Lindsay recorded it but Judy won't let her post it on facebook because she said she sounded like a cow but she didn't. Lindsay took Susan and I out to Davis's to pick up our car. J*** said that he has an '07 caddy that I would look really good in. What a great sales pitch. They also told us that our tags were 2 months old. Yikes. Went to Miller's and saw Helen and Michelle. We are trying to figure out when we can get together. Susan and I went to Krogers and Walmart and came home and heated up the soup and watched 'Little Women.' Phil went to Harrisonburg to pick up some conveyor parts and won't be home until after 11. Susan found out that Makenzie cannot come this week. This is a rough time for their family. I am thankful that my mother's Christmas money gift is going towards a new mixer. I am thankful for Lindsay who helped me order it from Amazon. I am thankful that it is a deluxe version and I will be able to make bread again. I am thankful that the fire made me realize that I should use my good dishes now for the people most precious to me-my family, and my little Adi, Emma, and Sammy Jo and their Marmees. And now the old every day dishes are back on the shelf to be confiscated by college bound students, etc. and my beautiful white dishes with grape designs are in my kitchen cupboards.
Fri.-Worked things out to go shopping with Ruth H. and Susan in Lynchburg. Spent my Christmas money instead of saving it to go to the shore. Bought cookie tins, purse, thank you cards, tea towels and dish cloths at Ross. Got a spice organizer also a Susan Boyle CD. Listened to it and went to sleep last night. Such a sweet lilting voice and what a story of triumph. We ate at Golden Corral and it was like a family reunion in there. Everyone so friendly. I missed Va. friendliness when I was in Pa. We met Makenzi, Lynn, and Sam at the entrance to the Food Court outside the mall around 6. (It worked out afterall .) They came the whole way from Kentucky and are staying at a motel in Lynchburg while we have Makenzie until Sunday morning. We met Graham at Pamplin Exxon and came home for a bit and then turned around and went out to New Life's Lock-In. The girls were high on ale-8 and with the sheer joy of being together. I came home and made popcorn and Phil and I watched the movie-"The A-Team"-very good. Were in bed and brought in the New Year thanking God for His faithfulness to us. I am thankful for Makenzie's parents, who rearranged the processing of grieving their awful loss two years ago on this day, and brought their other daughter to be with us. I am thankful for their trust. I am thankful for the neighbor who called and said to Phil, "What's mine is yours." He told him where his tools are and how to get them.
Sat.-Woken by Susan's call around 6:45. Thought they might not be at church until 10 to clean up afterall but said they'd call when they'd found out. Called about half an hour later and I scurried around and got out there but still was the last person there to pick up the kids. Felt so bad for Pastor Alvin who had to be very tired and sleepy. Phil made us all bacon and eggs and the kids are wiped out on the sofa semi-viewing the A-Team movie. Graham is getting picked up around noon. Freeman and Alli came over in the afternoon and watched a movie with the others in the man cave while Freeman smoked some turkey for their evening meal with the Shippey's next door. I am thankful for that Phil got out his guitar this morning while Graham was here who also plays guitar. I am thankful for the song that he sang as a prayer,"Forever Young" especially for Makenzie I'm sure. Phil and Philip went hunting over at O'Brien's. Found a bear carcass and something had been eating it. They think it was another bear. Carnibal! Thankful for the opportunity to blog since July, 2008.
Sun.-Met Makezie's parents at Cornerstone and had a hard time saying good bye. Got to church a bit late. The song that stays with me has the words, "There is a river whose streams make glad the city of our God..." Pastor Frank preached more on fasting. He summarized the disciplines covered so far-Studying God's Word-(If you don't know the Word of God you don't hear His voice), Giving-(Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also), and Faith-(Without faith it is impossible to please God). Faith is believing that when you pray, God hears you right away. Sometimes He answers right away and other times, the prayer is a seed and needs to go through a process in order to reap a harvest, but always, He hears you right away.
The most important thing to remember to do when you fast is to pray. If we are not praying when we fast, we are just dieting. The intent of the 21 day fast that our church is participating is to pursue God; we want to crave Him instead of craving food. We'll draw near to Him and He will draw near to us.
The three points that Pastor Frank wanted us to remember about fasting were the following:
1-If it doesn't mean anything to you, then it will not mean anything to God. Let the fast cost you something. Let it be a sacrifice.
Sometimes we have to unplug to reboot. Let things go. Unplug. When you are done unplugging, you'll know what you really want to show up on your screen. You'll know what is important.
2-God will never send you some place where He's never been. Fasting can get you into the place where God's anointing already rests on what He has for you. You walk into the room where the answers are already there. He's already been in that place and room; preparing it for you.
There will be a revelation of flesh when you deprive your flesh. So feed your spirit so your spirit can control your flesh.
3-There will be a storm. Remember the story of Jesus walking on the water out to the disciples when they were on the sea in the midst of the storm? Remember to look for Jesus walking nearby on top of the stormy waves. 'Where's your faith?' He asked them. Then He said, "Peace be still," and immediately, the storm ceased. We may be as amazed as the disciples were at the immediacy of answers given to us when He is present in the midst of our storm. If we keep our eyes on Jesus, we will be able to walk on the stormy waters with Him.
Lisa presented some practical ways of eating during a fast. Information notebooks were handed out and more will be available next week.
Came home and slept, rested, read 'Christy', watched 'Chicken Run.' Phil and I played 'Pick One' and he won again. Susan was sleeping. Chace was here with Michael and Philip was with Christi and some Harvest friends and the Planks.
I am thankful for this blessed day of rest.
I am thankful for Gil, Lindsay, Emma, and Adi, and for the way they were just 'with' us after church.
I am thankful that the Shippey's came to church and that one of the fasting books that Lisa recommended was the book their pastor had written.
Maybe you can help me.
I started reading the book of Revelation again
and as always, I got stuck on the letter
to the church in Ephesus.
God commends them for rejecting evil,
for testing self-proclaimed apostles and finding some false ones,
for persevering and having patience,
for laboring for His name's sake and not becoming weary,
and for hating the deeds of the Nicolatians,
which were full of idolatry and immorality.
He goes on to say that He has something against them.
They have lost their first love
and He exhorts them to return to their first love
and do the things they did at first.
This always bothers me.
So, today, I looked back at Paul's letters
to the Ephesians. He wrote it around 60-61 AD
and John wrote Revelations around 70-95 AD,
a good 20-25 years later.
The first three chapters of Ephesians
is written about the believer's position in Christ.
The last three chapters are written about
the practices of a believer.
It appears that Jesus commended the Ephesians
for doing some of the very things that Paul had taught them.
But that doesn't do away with that awful rebuke.
And so, my question is this:
What did their first love look like
and how did it express itself?
He said to return to
it and do what they first did.
Having a first love
suggests the action of doing something.
What is it?
I don't know.
But I thought of another verse that
John had written sometime around 90 AD.
It uses the words 'first love' too.
"We love Him because He first loved us."
It goes on to say that if we love God
we must love our brother also.
I wonder if returning to our first love
has anything to do with returning
to the One who first loved us?
And I wonder,
if the church of Ephesus
in all of their legitimate labor and patience
of not bearing with those
who were evil and
testing for falseness,
if somehow, they lost their love for God
and the awareness of His love for them
in the process of being discerning about others.
It can easily happen.
We can be doing the right thing;
getting rid of the evil in our midst,
standing guard and working hard
without growing weary-
and lose our first love without even
John also said in his little book of letters
that 'we have known and believed the love that
God has for us.
God is love,
and he who abides in love
abides in God,
and God in him.'
that God refers to,
we get used to how things are done
when we abide in Him,
and we can stop abiding in Him
and keep on doing things that look spiritual
because we are maintaining the experience
of having aboded,
rather than really abiding in the person of Jesus Christ.
We hold on to the experience of our first love
instead of holding on to Him who first loved us.
I'm not sure.
But I am sure we don't want Him to remove His light from our midst.
It's time to return to our first love.
And who is our first love?
Jesus, who loved us first.
I think if we abide in the love
of Him who first loved us
we will have returned to our first love.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
In 1960, she wrote a poem entitled, "The World of Books." I want to share it here because I am thinking about the gifts and books we received as children at Christmastime. I am so very thankful for the time she invested in reading to us. She continues to mark and read deep and wonderful books, and sometimes, I have the privilege of inheriting one of those books.
The World of Books-B.L.D.
We have lived with Laura
In the Big Woods,
We have watched them gather
And store their food.
We love Christopher Robin
Piglet and Eeyore
Kanga and Roo.
We saw how a spade
And an evergreen tree,
Made small Peter's dream
We laughed till we cried
At Huckleberry Finn,
As he and Tom plotted
The freedom of Jim.
From Paddy the Beaver
We learned nature's ways,
And the nice things that come
From a few words of praise.
We've followed Jesus,
Peter and Paul,
The ageless prophets,
Moses and Saul.
Oh, the world of books
Is a wonderful place.
We can explore any age,
Meet any race.
Thank you, dear Mother, for reading to me.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
My mother would roll the ivory dough as thinly as possible and would cut out the dough with cookie cutters. My favorite cutters were the reindeer and little hen and guess what? I have those old cutters and used them today. She would put the scrap pieces of dough on the cookie sheets as well and we would eat them guilt-free and with great creativity, because we could imagine the shapes to be anything our hearts desired. My grandmother would freeze some sand tarts in a decorative tin and in the middle of the summer, when we were all hot and sweaty, she'd take us into the back porch and open the freezer. Out would come the cold container and pop would go the lid. Out of the box would come a whiff of Christmas in the middle of summertime.
I am going to share our family recipe with you.
Beat 1 cup butter and 2 cups sugar.
Add 3 eggs.
Add a pinch of salt and some vanilla or lemon extract.
Add 4-5 cups of flour.
Roll out as thinly as possible and cut into shapes with a cookie cutter.
Brush centers with milk or a beaten egg.
Sprinkle on chopped peanuts and cinnamon/sugar mixture.
Bake at 350 until slightly brown at edges.
Take to family gatherings to bring back good memories.
Freeze a Christmas tin full of cookies for next summer.
I am thankful that I don't have to go anywhere tomorrow.
I am thankful for Phil.
I am thankful for the way Michael so quickly appropriated the grace of God
when his back was up against a wall.
Tues.-Finishing up some odds and ends. Blogging. Baked our traditional Sand Tart cookies. Made venison smothered in sour cream and served it over mashed potatoes and it was out of this world. Christi came over in eve. and exchanged presents with us since she is going to Fla. for Christmas. We played Apples to Apples for awhile. Michael had a conference call in the eve. and had to leave us for the back room.
I am thankful for the two hams given to us today from Jamerson's and Gilliam's and also the gift certificate to Outback from the G's as well.
I am thankful for this Christmas break and the time to bake, clean, and read.
I am thankful for my new blue dangling earrings that Christi made.
Wed.-Nice time to study and organize desk. Finished 'When God Weeps' by Joni Earekson Tada and Steve Estes. Baked a ham and made up some plates of cookies to give away. Lack of sleep, too much sugar, an antibiotic, and feeling sick I guess are reasons enough to be dragging. Susan shot her first deer today! A big fat doe! Mike and Phil got one each as well. Michael took a picture with his phone and sent it to Gil since he is her oldest older brother. Stopped subscribing to Dish Network today. No more TV. Went into town early and did some shopping and stopped in at the Bantons to give them a few Christmas gifts. Lindsay gave me a gift bag with hot choc. mix and 4 tile coasters. Very nice. Went to Missi's for the eve. and visited with her and Nanette and heard Nanette's happy news. So happy for her but we will miss them so. Thankful for Susan's success and the proud men surrounding her life. I'm thankful that Susan bought her updated ipod with her own money. I'm thankful for old friends and new.
Thurs.-Gil here hunting. From the back, you cannot tell Philip and him apart. No luck hunting today. Susan and boys were cutting meat into chunks for several hours today. Super cleaned most of my desk, washed some windows, wiped down bookshelves, etc. Ate a cucumber and got deathly ill just like last week's lettuce experience. I know where I am not going to buy produce anymore. Thankful that I didn't eat the cuc until 4 so I got alot done before that. Thankful that Michael made supper even though he added 3 Tablespoons of salt instead of 3 teaspoons to his sloppy jo mix. Thankful that I was asleep before 7:00.
Fri.-Made jello ribbon salad, cole slaw, mashed potato filling and cinnamon rolls for tomorrow's meals. Fixed salty sloppy jo mix by adding two packages cooked bland spaghetti and 2 jars spaghetti sauce. Everyone loves it now. Did 3 loads wash, vacuumed house and washed floors. Susan cleaned out the exploded cider mess in the outside fridge, cleaned out the car, cleaned up her room, made tapioca, and ran around doing all kinds of things for me. Mickey and Mitch came down and gave us a homemade carrot cake. We gave them a few gifts as well and had a nice time visiting. Mitch kept asking where Phil was and wondering how Big Phil was. He was working on the skiddy down at the low grounds. Every time I looked at Mitch, he laughed and pointed his finger at me and said, "You're a nut!" He is really one of my favorite people and he knows how to give great hugs. He likes to sit beside Phil on the sofa and put his arm around him. Sometimes he pokes Phil in the stomach. (Mitch is my Down-syndrome 37 year old neighbor.) Michael and Philip had fun exploring the swamp and lake with Travis. Philip pushed them around on the ice in the boat. Then Philip got so hot he took off all of his upper clothing and ran half naked on the lake, diving chest first on the ice and taking a good slide. Michael videotaped it and was going to put it on face book. Mother sent an email and Phil read it out loud. She was sad that the boys and Phil weren't coming up for the family gathering and then she said that Uncle David and Aunt Margaret were going to be there. Philip almost cried and said, "Stupid cows!" and I think Michael almost swore, so disappointed were they. I listened to Charlotte Church's Christmas album today. Phil suddenly remembered that he needed to get some Christmas gifts so he went out for an hour or two in the eve. Susan and I watched the movie "Space Camp" and "Mr. Bean." I am thankful for Mickey, Mitch, and the frozen swamp and pond.
Sat.-Merry Christmas, 2010! Had cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Phil worked with some cattle and the guys cleaned up their space to get ready for tomorrow's company. They played Uno with Susan until Alli and Freeman came around 10:30. We exchanged gifts. Phil had Susan's name and he gave her the gun he had purchased long ago from Harold King. She loved it. She gave Philip oodles of candy. Philip gave Phil a Cutco filleting knife. Michael gave me a white handled Cutco scissors. I gave Freeman a sampler box of Sweet Maria's coffee. Freeman gave Michael a work in process-a gun at the shop being revamped for him. Phil gave Alli a canister of licorice and some other candy and we all gave her an oil lamp, wicks, and oil. She gave Michael and Philip fluorescent orange scarves which she had hand knitted and they promptly wrapped them around their heads. She gave me hand knitted wash cloths and a wonderful smelling green candle. She gave Susan two cool t-shirts and a necklace and Phil an orange scarf and both of us a wedding photo of the family. I gave each of them some flannel lounge pants. Alli and Freeman's match. Then Susan, Michael, and Philip went back to playing Uno while Freeman and I got things going for lunch and then I sat down and somehow, the kids started singing so we sang the old Hertzler favorites while we sat, cooked, and played games and it was so nice and it was the first I could semi sing for a very long time. "There were Shepherd's abiding in the Fields," "The Message", "Silver Star," etc. Phil read the Christmas story while we waited for the filling casserole to finish up in the oven. For lunch, we had Freeman's chili, cheese, chips, sausage gravy, biscuit, corn, sweet potato casserole, mashed potato filling, ribbon salad, and cole slaw. I asked each of them what they wanted and thus the conglomeration of food. Then we played the Jr. version of Apples to Apples and liked it better than the party version. Then everyone split and went their separate ways for about 45 min. Freeman and Alli went home to get a movie, warm clothes, and Diesel. Phil has been sleeping since lunch. He is exhausted. Susan and the boys are resting and I am catching up on Hertzler Doings. Soon, they will all reconvene and go down to the swamp/pond and go sliding. It's snowing lightly again. It was earlier this morning as well.
For supper we had more chili, crackers, cheese, dill pickles, celery and olives, tapioca, ice cream and Christmas cookies. We ate as we watched "Despicable Me." We got to bed at a decent hour but I didn't sleep but an hour or two. So thankful for a day to just 'be' together as a family. I am thankful that there is a Christmas story to read and songs to sing and for the One who made it all possible. I am thankful for the spontaneous singing of old songs today and the amazing male voices singing the different parts.
Sunday-Monday-Pa.-Woke up at 4:30 after finally falling asleep around 2:30. Freeman and Alli arrived soon after 5:30 and we were on the road by 6:05. We drove through 3-5 inches of snow in this area. The further north we drove, the less snow there was. We made good time so we drove around Greenfield Industrial Park and I showed Alli where I grew up and the ponds I skated on and my grandparents home, etc. It's all built up now. We arrived at my brother Abe's early and got changed and visited with Karen until the others arrived. My brother is an amazing cook and should the stock market fail completely, he could open a restaurant. He made turkey, Harvard beets, oyster and regular filling, salad, celery and olives, a cheese and meat platter for appetizers, and clam chowder as a starter. Rosalee made her gourmet potatoes and I brought our corn. We had cookies, cheesecake, and coffee for dessert. Rosalee, Jim, Annika and Stew, and Katrina were there. Abie was dearly missed. Alan and Carol came and Kendra and Erik were there as well and also, Abby. Mother was there and she looked good. David and Margaret and some of the others didn't make it because of the snow. We had a great time playing 'Taboo' and got really loud. It began to really snow around 2 and when we left after 5 there was quite a bit on the ground. We drove carefully through New Holland and got to Mom and Dad Hertzler's before 7. We visited with them for awhile and Freeman and Alli stayed there, Susan went over to Bradleys, and I went over to Joe and Karens where a full scale Pictionary game was going on with the Schwartz and I was only too happy to join them. I slept until 8:45 the next morning. Karen had a midwife appt. in the morning and the roads weren't too bad. The Hertzler's gathered together around 11:30. We ate turkey, filling, mashed potatoes, corn, 7 layer salad, ribbon salad, cranberry salad, bread and jam, etc. Then we sang and got silly and it was just wonderful. I sat beside Dad and at one point I leaned over and said to him, jokingly, of course, "It's not your fault. You raised them right. It is their decision to act this way." He had to laugh. His boys were getting pretty wild. Jim and Joe have a song they like to perform from Handel's Messiah. They said it comes right after 'He shall Feed His flock" on the record. So, Jim sang "Rejoice...Rejoice....Rejoice Greatly..." in a high falsetto voice while Joe provided the scratches on the record as he remembered them. Alli had to lay her head down on the table and laugh. After dessert we went upstairs to exchange gifts in a now you have it now you don't fashion. We girls just stick with the gifts we open but the guys get a bit rowdy. Phil sent ties along for his brothers and dad. He had Johnny pick them out for him in Thailand years ago and Mom remembers being with him when he picked them out and they brought them back for us. Dad put his on and then fell asleep on a folding chair and I asked if he had tied it on too tight and to make sure he was breathing. I thought he was going to fall forward on his face at any time but no one else seemed too worried. I picked Debra's gift and got a beautifully painted wooden bowl and a beeswax bowl with a candle inside it. When I put my gift out, I said quietly to Janelle, "You will want this." So she picked it and told everyone else that they wouldn't want it because it was rusty, so I knew she liked it. It was a windmill bird feeder made out of rust-like metal. I was pretty sure she didn't have any yet at her new residence. We had fun handing out gifts and receiving them. We left around 3 and stopped midway at Five Guys where we wolfed down our burgers and fries and we got home by 9:30. Freeman drove and did a mighty fine job. While we were gone on Sunday, the boys had a party with some of their friends. Some of them played on the swamp and pond-having snowball battles and building forts and others were in the house playing card games and still others were in the rec room watching a movie. I am sure they had a blast. Kelsey got stuck on the drive way going out and Phil and Philip had her out in about half an hour. It was a sheet of ice. Phil got lots of rock salt on Mon. and put it on the lane and we got in and Freeman got out without a problem. I am thankful that we had a safe ride home even though there are many idiotic drivers out there. I am thankful that Phil was waiting for us and that he had started putting hot water in the tub for me before we got home. I am thankful for my heritage and my husband's heritage and for the strength and the songs that come out of both. I am thankful for my big brother's prayer.
This is what he says on page 58.
"Before proceeding, I must offer a caution. We should not overstate the place of prayer in the formation of "holy habits." Prayer by itself is severely limited in the good it can accomplish. It is only a part-albeit an important part-of a much larger whole."
"Dallas Willard speaks of the three major areas God uses in our continuing transformation-a "golden triangle" of formation, if you will.
The first area is the classical disciplines of the spiritual life: solitude, fasting, worship, celebration, and the like.
The second area is our continual interaction with the movings of the Spirit of God: resistance, disobedience, repentance, submission, faith, obedience, and more.
The third major area is the patient endurance God develops in us by means of the various frustrations, trials, and temptations we face daily.
Therefore, we must never isolate prayer from the rest of Christian devotion and claim more for it than God intended. No, instead we want to see the dynamic interaction of prayer in concert with an overall spiritual life."
Earlier in the chapter, he wrote, "The primary purpose of prayer is to bring us into such a life of communion with the Father that, by the power of the Spirit, we are increasingly conformed to the image of the Son."
The idea of the 'golden triangle' makes so much sense to me and helps me organize the how's and why's of my life. I hope you find it helpful as well.
I've been reading the chapter on 'The Prayer of Relinquishment.'
I really must share some of this with you.
He is writing about the death of our will and later goes on to how to relinquish our will to God in prayer. Here are some words leading up to that teaching, written on page 54.
""The death of my own will"-strong language. But all of the great devotional masters have found it so. Soren Kierkegard...notes, "God creates everything out of nothing--and everything which God is to use He first reduces to nothing.""
"Do you know what a great freedom this crucifixion of the will is? It means freedom from what A.W.Tozer called "the fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit." It means freedom from the self-sins: self-sufficiency, self-pity, self-absorption, self-abuse, self-aggrandizement, self-castigation, self-deception, self-exaltation, self-depreciation, self-indulgence, self-hatred, and a host of others like them. It means freedom from the everlasting burden of always having to get our own way. It means freedom to care for others, to genuinely put their needs first, to give joyfully and freely."
"Little by little we are changed by this daily crucifixion of the will. Changed, not like a tornado changes things, but like a grain of the sand in an oyster changes things. New graces emerge: new ability to cast all our care upon God, new joy at the success of others, new hope in a God who is good."
And so on.
I just thought about the verse I keep thinking about from Isaiah where God promises to do something new. It appears, from the words above, that we must die and become nothing before we can experience the something new. After Jesus gave up His will and died, He was raised again into a new life. There is always a promise of resurrection after death. Why do we try so hard not to 'die'? What we will receive in exchange for our 'death' is so much greater than the 'life' we think we need to hold on to. But then again, if He struggled to give up His will, why would we think we could surrender without a struggle?
The following poem was published in the magazine 'Purpose' in December of 1980. My father was proud of this poem. I put it on face book the other day and my cousin who is about 2 years older than me commented. He is a pastor of a church in Pa. This is what he said. "Such beautiful words from my dear Aunt Beulah. To me, she was always creative, interesting, deeply spiritual, intelligent, and so loving to all. May our gracious Lord bless her these days. (Thanks for sharing, Annette.)" He is a gentle and kind giant of a man; over 6'3" I'm sure. We were in the youth group together and we liked to sing around the piano with the others. I can still hear his beautiful tenor voice. I wrote his words down and sent them to my mother and as always, she felt unworthy of such praise, but it meant a great deal to her.
Now to the poem.
Soft snow sifted soundlessly
Through sodden starless skies
While winter winds waited till the
whiteness was wide and deep.
Then blew boisterously
Billowing into beauty
That blotted out old ruts and
I've always liked this poem
but understand its meaning in a deeper way
as I see how the snow's whiteness
changed our charred shop remains
into a place of beauty and enchantment.
I am thankful that God turns the ruins of our lives
into realms of delight after He washes
us and makes us 'whiter than snow.'
Monday, December 13, 2010
I am thankful that there was no school today. I am thankful for Phil's happy whistling. I am thankful that his brother Joe called to check on us.
Tues.-After school, the select choir went to the Hubler's house to semi-watch 'The Sound of Music' and make homemade pizzas. It was really nice. The kids were getting loud and completely at ease from drinking high Voltage Mt. Dew. They played 'Pit' and I realized that we should have scratched the movie and played games instead.
I am thankful for the opportunity to watch and hear Jane in her own natural habitat.
I am thankful for Graham's giggle.
I am thankful for good friends.
Wed.-Iced cookies with K/l during music class since we might not have school tomorrow. Made broccoli cheese soup with extra broccoli in fridge. Exchanged gifts with other teachers and received gifts and sweet notes from the children. Picked up Phil at the auto shop where he left his aging truck. As we drove up to our house and I saw all of the upheaval on the property what with Phil getting ready to rebuild,etc. and saw the trusses parked in the middle grass, the overwhelming thought in my mind was this, "I will do something new." I am thankful that He will. Raced around here and got supper together and some jobs done and went out to Farmville. Went to Tractor Supply and picked up a few gifts. Took Susan to youth group and then went to Lindsay's violin recital at the Daily Grind, which was very sweet, and then to Missi's to visit with her and Nanette and Makenzie for a brief half hour. Picked up Susan and went to Walmart and I think I am now finished with my Christmas shopping!
I am thankful for Adi's wiggly loving.
I am thankful for Emma's first violin recital and for the way she sat so still on my lap when she was finished.
I am thankful for the good feeling of having a little something to give to those I love.
Thurs.-SNOW! No school. Phil, Freeman, and Philip working in Appomattox. Michael and Susan at home, playing games, watching movies, and making incredible homemade doughnuts. I did at least 5 loads of wash and wrapped 99% of the gifts and put them under the tree. Snow turned to rain and I doubt if we'll have school tomorrow. Thinking about how often the natural provides a picture of what is about to happen in the spiritual. What does that mean in light of fire, wind, snow, rebuilding....?
I am thankful for the jolts that occur in the natural which wake us up from the tyranny of the mundane. I am also thankful for the foundation that stays firm when the tyranny of the urgent screams for attention over the quiet voice of God. I am thankful that if we live and move and have our being in Him, He keeps us steady, and we are less apt to fall prey to the pendulum swing between the tyranny of the urgent and the tyranny of the mundane.
Fri.-no school. Susan sick-pale and dizzy. I made chocolate chip-white/milk-cookies, per Susan's request and oatmeal raisin per Freeman's request. Cleaned up house. Made a turkey and tortilla meat mix. Watched Monk. Cookie bake for tomorrow is cancelled. Thankful for several laid back days in a row. Still coughing but feeling better. Thankful for the sweet note cousin Steve wrote on face book when I printed mother's poem about snow. Thankful that God showed Phil what His will is...to rejoice evermore. His countenance shines and I am glad.
Sat.-Freeman came over to hunt and brought his sweet wife with him. She and Susan helped me clean out the fridge. I made Tinkerbelle plates for the Bantons and Alli made a plate too. She is quite the artist. We watched, "It Takes Two." Philip came in to eat lunch and was saying each line before it was said. Remembered it from year ago. Got violently ill after eating a piece of romaine lettuce and missed the Grunert party which I look forward to every year. Freeman, Alli, and Susan went. Phil stayed home to be with me. Micah disappeared during the party and they found him in Jack's apartment, snuggled up to him, watching 'Tom and Jerry'. I am thankful that Susan has an older sister in Alli. I am thankful that Alli did Susan's make up in a very nice way. I am thankful that eventually one has to stop throwing up. (sorry about this)
Sun.-Stayed home from church since I am not sure about being upright-physically that is. Watched a sermon on GodTV and I think I might be pretrib now. No man knows the hour and the seven years of tribulation has a specific beginning and end. He said that what restrains the evil is the church and when that is taken out, the evil one will take over. And what is keeping the rapture from taking place is the church. We do not have the maturity or the glory that God is seeking for in His bride. I am not giving his name because am not certain quite that even now I've got it right. Later in the day, Phil and I watched a documentary of sorts on Derek Prince. It was heartwarming and challenging to see a man serve God to the very end. He was with his first wife as she passed away and as she took her last breath, she resorted back to her childhood language, as is often the case, and she said words in Danish which meant, "Thank you for the blood." He said that Jesus also resorted back to His childhood language of Aramaic when He cried out on the cross, "My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?" We watched some other Christmas movies and I was grieved later, that we allowed into our home via the television, what we would never allow to take place in our homes in real life. I wonder about the mixture of flesh and spirit and I think that if we did not dilute our spiritual lives with the things of this world, we would be much farther along in being the mature and full of His glory body of Christ. It starts with what we allow in our homes. If the watchmen aren't watching what is going on in the home, how can we even consider protecting the church? I think it goes with our eating as well. If I ate healthy food instead of the mixture of junk and healthy food I ingest, how much better I would feel and how much more ready would I be to function and work in the body of Christ. Everything I do affects another person. My lack of discipline affects others in a negative way. I am thinking about these things and I am poor and needy. And even in this state, He comforts me and shows me that His kingdom is one of deficits and benefits and minuses and pluses. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted." Perhaps renewal comes when we realize how much we need Him. Perhaps renewal and revival comes not when we have it together, but when we cry out to Him because we are sick and in need of a Physician. I don't know. I don't know much. But what I do know makes me responsible for what I know. God help me. I am thankful for His mercy. I am thankful for this time apart from the masses so I can be alone with Him. I am thankful for His chastening because it means He loves me. I am thankful that He will change me.
He does it so we have time alone with Him,
free from the distractions of normal living.
After the disciples had been on a successful missions trip,
Jesus took them to the desert.
But the multitudes followed them there
and He had compassion on them
and taught them
and then fed them miraculously
with just a few loaves and fishes.
John the Forerunner grew up in the desert
before he began his ministry as John the Baptist.
Jesus, after He was baptized,
went into the wilderness where He fasted
40 days and then was tempted of the devil.
He returned to civilization full of power
and full of the Holy Spirit.
Isaiah prophesied that there would be
roadways in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
God said that He would do something new among us.
we don't recognize the desert for what it is.
We think we are depressed and we try to find a way of escape
from the overwhelming sense that nothing really matters.
But maybe, it's not depression.
Maybe it's the desert place.
Maybe God has wooed us into the wilderness
so He could love us without the competition
of happiness and satisfaction.
Maybe we feel like nothing really matters anymore
because nothing really does matter anymore.
Not a thing matters but Him.
Can I see His face?
Can I hear His words?
Does His heart beat in my heart?
Do my eyes see what He sees?
Do I know that He loves me?
Does He know that I love Him?
In the desert,
everything comes from His hand.
He withholds the comfort and friendship of man
so I can receive comfort and friendship from Him.
He tenderly holds my head and feeds me
with His bread and wine.
He who had no one to watch and pray
with Him for one hour
watches and prays over me every single
minute of every day.
In the desert,
I am aware of this.
In the desert, my wounder becomes my healer
and I am captured by the severity of His mercy.
If I should come out of the desert tomorrow,
I will be content.
But I want to be full of Him
when I come out.
Should I stay longer,
I will be content as well.
For He is with me
and is accomplishing
some deep work in me
too high for me
He goes out of the desert to the multitude,
the multitude comes to Him
in the desert.
other people will be affected by my time in the desert.
God and I will either go out to them
or they will come in to us.
There will be a roadway in the wilderness
and streams in the desert
and out this dry place shall flow rivers of living water.
He will do something new.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
I imagine His warm little body snuggling close to mine
and His little finger finding my mouth.
I kiss His sweet baby smile
and caress His rosy cheeks
while He coos like a dove.
I love His knowing eyes and the way He trusts me.
I smell the earthy fragrance of His soft curly head.
I absorb His purity and give Him my all.
I told Him this.
I told Him how much I wish I could have held Him as a baby.
And I think I heard Him say,
"Every baby you hold is as precious as I was as a baby.
Whatever you do to the least of these,
that you do to me.
If you want to know what it was like to hold Me,
hold the baby next to you.
Touch the child who comes your way.
Love every person who breathes your air,
And you will know what it means to hold me."
I open my eyes
and every where I look,
I see bouncing baby Jesus'
and teething toddler Jesus'
and thirsty third grade Jesus'
and troubled teenage Jesus'
and questioning college-age Jesus'
and maxed-out middle age Jesus'
and over the last hill Jesus'.
I see nice Jesus' and obnoxious Jesus'
and bitter Jesus' and lonely Jesus' and sweet Jesus' too.
Everywhere I look,
I see Him,
and I do so want to love Him
and touch Him and bless Him
in whatever way seems best
at the time.
Thank you, dear Jesus,
for letting me hold you
as a baby
every day of my life.
Thank you for being in everyone I see.
Help me love You more.
Tues.-Shopped before going to school. Bought some things to make Christmas cookies. I asked each of our children to give me an idea of the type of Christmas cookies they'd like to have during this season. I found a new sugar cookie recipe that takes butter and 10x sugar and oil and regular sugar all in the same batter. It's so good. For music today, I let each child give a request or two of any song they'd like to sing or perform. Most of them chose fun songs from the red book. Every class chose 'Rubber Ducky'. Now I can't get it out of my head. The 5/6 graders wanted to sing the 3/4 song-"Busy Little Bethlehem" and the Select Choir's song-"African Noel." We played fun games like 'freeze dance', 'hokey pokey', musical chairs, and the older kids wanted to play with playdough while they listened to celtic music. All of the kids were on the wild side but that is normal. They always think that Christmas vacation has started as soon as the program is under their belts. One of the older boys asked if he could sing the grinch song and I tell you what. I'd put him up against the original singer anytime. He was fantastic! I laughed harder at the kids today than I have any day before. My throat, neck, and head hurt from laughing so hard. When we got home, my bed was loaded with all kinds of stuff. Everything 'in the way' had been put on the bed. Freeman had built shelves in the bedroom and also the back room. It's great. But I had better get to work if we are going to sleep in our bed tonight. Sometimes, things get alot messier before they get tidier, but that's the way it goes. Michael has passed out an unbelievable amount of Cutco cards on college campuses the past two days. Over 10,000 cards handed out at the three local L colleges. His manager just called and left him know that his office is being blown away by calls in response to those cards. Mike and Philip's friends are here tonight. I didn't see them but it's nice to know they are here.
I am thankful that although I keep singing 'Baby, it's cold outside,' our house is warm because of the wood stove and because of Phil's consistent love. I am thankful the select choir can figure out things so quickly. Today, seven of them sang a 4 part round. Pretty impressive. I am thankful for the traditional Christmas parties thrown by the Jones/Guilds families and the Grunert family and how it makes us feel at home to be invited year after year.
Wed.-Sat-highlights. Life is speeding along. K/1 students discovered a familiar song in 'The Nutcracker.' They wanted to hear 'The Marche' over and over again because they said it was played in the Tom and Jerry cartoons. The little K/1 boys wanted to add black sheep to their white sheep art picture. One little boy drew six shepherds-one for each sheep. I made cookies in the school kitchen on Thursday while playing Charlotte Church's Christmas album. I wore the apron Lindsay made me. Mr. S. came in for early lunch and he said, "You're in heaven, aren't you?" Teachers and students got to sample little snippets of sugar cookies as they went by. The second graders had seven cookies each to decorate. Mrs. Jones came in at my invitation to see the beautiful cookies. She decorated a snowman for her little granddaughter, who later ate off its head and licked off the icing. One little boy in the class needed his friend to scratch his back for him and she obliged. She said, 'There's nothing worse than an itchy back," and Mrs. Jones said, "I have to agree with you.' One little boy decided to give six of his cookies to his older brother for his birthday. He was so excited to have a gift to give. He decorated some paper and wrapped up his box of cookies. He wrote a note that said, "Happy Birthday...You are the best big brother in the whole world." His spirit of generosity spread to the others and by the end of the class period, all of the boxes were wrapped with paper and some with ribbon and they all had happy plans to give their cookies to their families. On Friday eve. we went to see Freeman perform in 'My Big Fat Greek Christmas Wedding.' We picked up Kate and took her along. Freeman did so well. He had eight different costume changes. What a great singer and actor he is. On Sat., I got the first layer of clutter cleaned up in the back room and our bedroom and got things off the floor and up on the new shelves, or in the trash, or out of the house. We went to the Jones/Guild party in the eve. Phil worked outside all day, demolishing part of the barn and getting things ready to build a shop. Now it looks like we've had a fire AND a tornado. But it's ok. We are both going through a time of being unattached. We are giving it all up, laying it on the altar. God, what do you want us to do? Where do you want us to live? Where should we be involved? Who should we love? How shall we live? It feels like our hands are open and not holding on to anything, but we are probably holding on to more than we think. God knows the future. He knows what will be necessary for life and godliness. Everything else is extra. Gil came to go turkey hunting with Philip. It feels so natural for him to be sitting at our table. They didn't get any but they had fun.
I am thankful for a day at home to work.
I am thankful the joy of watching Freeman, Missi, Dee and others perform. Missi got Phil's first laugh of the night.
I am thankful that Michael helped Phil vaccinate all of the cows.
I am thankful that Philip took Susan to see 'Voyage of the Dawn Treador' along with Michael, Chace, and Erik, I think.
Sunday-Woke up early and started organizing the wash and grocery list. Got Phil to wake up Susan at 6:30 to get ready for school. I began telling Phil about my schedule for the week and something he said made me realize that it was Sunday and not Monday. How wonderful! We told Susan to go back to bed. She thought it was Monday too. She confessed that she was still not that happy with me when we were playing Dutch Blitz in the evening. First Sunday I've been in church for over a month. It was good to see everyone. We sat back with the Bantons and I got to hold little Adi and make up for some lost time over this too busy season. Pastor Frank reviewed the spiritual disciplines that he's been preaching on. The bottom line and the top line, before spiritual disciplines even begin, is the truth of the authority of God's word. If we start picking apart the authority of the Word then who's the boss? We have to be a lover of the Word of God. All of the disciplines come back to the Word of God. The three other disciplines he touched on were giving, faith, and food. Giving: Where our treasure is, there are heart is. Faith: Without faith it is impossible to please God. Food: Fasting. These three things-finances, faith, and food-are the three main building blocks of the spiritual disciplines.
Jesus took it for granted that we would fast. "When you fast...pray."
Scripture-Isaiah 58-What sort of fast does God want from us?
It is not a selfish fast about our needs. It is letting go of the craving for food and desiring God instead. If we are truly fasting, we will care for our neighbors. The closer we get to Him, the more we will see what He sees and hear what He hears. There are 22 promises regarding fasting. Here are a few of them. Freedom-free those who are wrongly imprisoned and bound by pain. Free those in the church body who have had 'the locusts' steal from them. It means we ourselves are set free from the oppression of a besetting sin. We are set free from cancelled sin. Freedom also from injustices and things that are illegally done against us. Freedom from the oppression of the fear of man and trying to please others ahead of God. Freedom from the past mistakes we have made and freedom from the words others have said to us that have bound us. Fasting will deliver us and others from these kinds of bondages. If we are willing to share, then our light will shine in the darkness and our darkness will be as noonday, and there will be no shadow. We will have guidance and be like a well watered garden. We will be called a Rebuilder of Walls and Homes and a Restorer of Streets to Dwell in.
In Isaiah 61, Isaiah prophesied about the coming Messiah who would be anointed to preach good tidings to the poor and heal the broken hearted, who would proclaim liberty to the captives and set them free, to comfort those who mourn and console them, to give them beauty for ashes and rebuild what was destroyed. In Luke 4, after Jesus had fasted for 40 days in the wilderness and was tempted of the devil, He went to the temple and read those very words from Isaiah, and then He said, "This day is this Scripture fulfilled." The anointing on Jesus' life is much like the prophesy spoken over the church in Isaiah 58. The anointing on our lives that will take place when we fast and pray like God wants us to fast and pray will bear the same kind of fruit that the anointing on Jesus produced. Do we love Him enough to fast and pray and draw so close to Him that He gives us His heart that moves with compassion to comfort, set free, and deliver those around us? ~~~~
It's not about us. It's about Him. He loves His bride and He wants His bride to minister to each other the love and deliverance He has for us. He wants us to receive the full ministry of Jesus from each other which is recorded in Is. 61. We receive it from Him and each other for freedom's sake. The church is for God to reveal His manifold wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places. The church is for God to reveal His glory through.
I think, when we love people like Jesus loves people, we will notice those who are missing in our midst; we will notice those who are struggling. Not only will we notice, but we will check in with them and see if they are all right. We will help fill up their emptiness with our love and our listening. People will feel safe to be honest about how they are and not feel like they have to keep up a cheerful facade in order to be loved.
And when the sheep who believe in God feel safe and cared for, they will then bring others who need to know the love of God, in to a place where there is truth, love, and unity, and together, we will grow into a holy temple of God fit for His glory. ~~~~
I am thankful for the opportunity to be back at church and for the good word and warm hugs and for the understanding that fasting and prayer and the other spiritual disciplines should be foundational in our lives in order for us to 'handle' the revival that will occur when we practice these spiritual disciplines. I am thankful for a day at home on the easy chair, watching 007 and clicking to another movie when it comes to certain scenes. I am thankful that Erik is here, spending the day with Philip, and that Michael, Chace, and Travis went for a day trip on the Blue Ridge parkway, where they got stuck in traffic due to an accident because of the snow. I am thankful for Susan's hysterical laughter as I write this and Phil's chuckle. I think he is threatening to tickle her and just the threat is enough to get her going. Oh, I hear that she started it by tickling his knees-a fatal mistake.
Monday, December 6, 2010
C.S. Spurgeon said, "On thine own resolve depend not at all."
After Jesus and His disciples had shared their last supper together and sung a final hymn, they made their way to the Mount of Olives. As they walked, Jesus spoke with passion. "All of you will be made to stumble because of me. You will all be scattered when I am taken." Peter bristled. "Even if everyone else stumbles and fails, I will not forsake you." Then Jesus told him that this would happen soon-this very night. "Before the rooster crows twice, you will have denied me three times."
"I will never deny you," vowed Peter. "Even if I have to die with You!"
And every one of the disciples said the same thing
except the one who had already disappeared.
Then they came to Gethsemane and Jesus took Peter, James, and John deeper into seclusion while the others sat and waited. He asked the three to stay with Him and watch because He was so sorrowful that He felt He could die. He struggled with His Father and gave up His will and came back to find His closest friends asleep. "Couldn't you watch one hour? Watch and pray, so you don't enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak."
And we know the rest of the story. They fell asleep again because they were weary with sorrow. After He woke them up, He went to meet His betrayer and those who had come to capture Him. You can read more about this night in any of the gospels written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
What was the spirit willing to do?
-to never deny Jesus
-to die for Him if need be
-to stay awake and pray with Him
But the flesh was weak. They couldn't stay awake for even one hour, and later, self-preservation reared it's ugly head when Peter was confronted regarding his association with Jesus. "I never knew Him," he declared vehemently.
What was it Jesus had said to them?
"Watch and pray.
"Lest you enter into temptation."
The temptations of the flesh-
to deny what and who we know when our life is on the line;
to give into what our flesh craves whether it be sleep, illicit sex, too much food,
pride, anger, unfriendly talk, imaginations of the heart, you name it.
Is there no hope?
Will our flesh always triumph over our spirit?
Will there always be such a war between them?
There is hope.
It's in that little directive of Jesus'.
"Watch and pray."
Sounds like we should keep our eyes open when we pray.
Sounds like we should know what's going on in the world around us.
Sounds like we should be on watchful alert and pray about what we see.
The morning cometh, and also the night. (Is. 21:5)
Watch for things that go bump in the night.
Keep a watch over your mouth. (Ps. 141:3)
Watch and shut up.
If you see the sword come, blow the trumpet. (Ez. 33:6)
Watch and warn.
Watch to see what he will say to you
and what you will answer when you are corrected. (Hab 2:1)
Watch and repent.
Watch, for we do not know the hour when He will come. (Matt. 24:42)
Watch and be ready.
Keep watch over your flock by night. (Lk. 2:8)
Watch and protect.
Watch, stand fast in the faith,
be strong, be manly men. (1 Cor. 16:13)
Watch and stand tall.
Watch with perseverance and pray diligently for all saints. (Eph.6:18)
Watch and care for others.
Be watchful and keep your clothes on and keep them white. (Rev. 16:15)
Watch and be pure.
Watch and Pray.
Watch and fret.
Watch and run.
Watch and hide.
Watch and pray.
Watch and pray.
Watch and pray.