Saturday, October 30, 2010
I've been thinking about another man.
For some reason, I've been obsessing over Peter.
Simon Peter. He's dead, so don't worry, Phil.
Well, actually, he's probably not that dead.
I've been trying to understand this man.
He was a fisherman who left everything to follow Jesus.
He was willing to walk on water to come to Jesus-
("If it's really you Jesus, tell me to come.")
and we berate him for being afraid and taking his eyes
off Jesus. He began to sink and cried out to Jesus and Jesus
saved Him and said, "Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?"
Maybe next to Jesus, he had little faith,
but I don't see any other disciples making the trip,
Also, didn't those waves reach up to 20 feet during storms?
Try keeping your eyes on Jesus under the shadow of
one of those waves and then judge my man.
(I'm not saying Jesus was wrong to rebuke Him.
I'm saying too often we think we would have stayed
on top of the water
longer than Peter did.)
Oh, and it was Peter who wanted to build a tent tabernacle for
Jesus and Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.
The gospel writer say that he didn't know what he was talking about.
I doubt if I would make much sense either if I tried talking
an Old Testament Law Giver
and an Old Testament Prophet talking
with my present day friend, Jesus,
all aglow on the top of a mountain.
Another time, when Jesus asked Peter who he thought He was,
Peter said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."
And Jesus said, "Blessed are you, Simon. For flesh and blood
has not revealed this to you, but my Father which is in heaven.
And you are Peter and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the
gates of hell shall not prevail against it..."
Upon the rock of your life...
Upon the rock of this confession...
I will build my church.
But I think what I like best about Peter,
is the fact that he so badly failed.
He denied that he knew Jesus.
He even swore to make sure his accusers knew he meant business.
He had earlier refused to believe that he was capable of such a thing
so the devastation was more than he could bear.
Jesus had warned him about it.
Told him it would happen.
And then He said, "And when you have returned,
strengthen the brethren..."
Be that rock.
And that's what happened.
He returned to fishing as well,
and when he recognized the Man on the beach
cooking their supper over a fire, he cried,
"It is the LORD!"
and jumped out of his boat and swam to Him.
"Simon, do you love me with a holy love?"(agape)
"You know that I love you like a brother." (phileo)
"Then, feed my sheep."
"Simon, do you agape me?"
"Lord you know that I phileo you."
"Then feed my sheep."
"Simon, do you phileo me?"
"Lord, you know that I phileo you!"
"Then feed my sheep."
Three times Peter had denied Him.
Three times He asked if he loved Him.
I thought that was the point.
I thought Jesus was erasing a denial
with each affirmation.
But I am thinking that there's more to the story.
He didn't ask him if he had faith to walk on water.
He didn't ask if he had never betrayed Him.
He was talking about what was ahead.
Feeding sheep was what was ahead for Peter.
And what was the requirement for doing this?
He who has been forgiven much, loves much.
He who has known the deep sorrow of failure,
loves much the one who has redeemed that failure.
The requirement for feeding sheep was not
whether or not Peter had ever cursed or betrayed Jesus.
Peter's administrative skills were not brought to the light.
His educational background was not questioned.
It was simply this.
Do you love me?
Peter's answer did not meet the depth of the question.
What is phileo love in the light of agape love?
But he was honest, anyway.
Honesty and imperfect love.
I'll take that, says Jesus.
I'll take that and make it good enough to feed my sheep.
Jesus gave him the mandate and then told Peter to wait
with many others in the upper room,
until he received power from on high.
And that he did,
and thus he did,
and thousands were added to the church daily.
I love this man.
I love this man.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Tues.-Great day at school. Counting today, we have four more times to practice during class time for our Christmas program. Picked up Micah on the way home from Angie's house. He will be here until 7:45 and then I'll need to take him home. He is watching The Three Stooges and getting his exercise. Buddy continues to pee and poop all over the house. Refuses to go outside. Lots of little children will be here Friday and I am going to have to put him in his cage and wash the floors and keep him in there unless he is outside. He and Roco made out fine today at work. Phil had to take him since I wouldn't be home until after 4. He waited until he got inside the house to 'go'. I guess I should stop going on about this! I am thankful that he is a little dog so his deposits are littler than the big dogs. Good grief. I am thankful that I could make a cup of peppermint tea and take it to Susan in her class today. I am thankful that Dr. H. ruled it 'Be nice to Susan week' or was it 'month?'
Wed.-Another great day with the younger grades in music. For K/1 I played 'The Little Drummer Boy' on the piano and they had their wooden sticks and played the 'pa-rum-pa-pa-pums.' At the end of the song, I kept playing the 'drums' in different rhythms on the piano and they would mimic the rhythm with their sticks. They all were laughing so hard and it was great fun. Finished up the plans for 'Lessons and Carols'. Went to church in eve. Susan to youth group, I to Goodwill. Longwood small group was cancelled because the girls had conflicting responsibilities. Found 10 books at Goodwill. Came back to church and had some time to myself before picking up Susan. I am thankful for the glowing purple light in the dark holy room. I am thankful for the storms that kept me awake last night because I didn't want miss any of the wild wonder. I am thankful that Phil enjoyed my hyper gabbing also last night before the storms hit. Maybe the electrons in the air made me extra talkative. I am thankful for dear friends at church.
Thurs.-Hair cut pretty short. I'll like it in about 2 weeks. Fun art day with kids. Made origami boats with the 2nd graders. Mr. Titanic wanted me to put a hole in his boat and he watched it sink in the sink. Their boats were floating amidst plastic white palettes and paintbrushes I had soaking. Mrs. Jones took a video of the excited children surrounding the sink with their involved curiosity. She is going to try to get the video downloaded onto the school's website. The kids were trying to figure out ways to keep the boats from sinking. KL applied quite a bit of scotch tape to her boat and discovered it helped to keep it afloat longer. We also made origami drinking cups. I put some of those through the laminator and they would definitely work in a pinch. It was really so much fun. The K/l girls finally got a chance to paint their little playdough critters while the boys colored their stained glass harvest scene and read books with Mrs. K. Susan and I got coffee ice cream cones on the way home and I had a nice talk with Linds after we got home. She and a few other mothers and their children are coming out here tomorrow for a pumpkin field trip. I am trying to clean up the outside and inside and do some wash, etc. I am mostly concerned about our new dog and the fact that he doesn't understand that there are designated places to go to the bathroom on our property.
I am thankful for the incredible pastel sunrise this morning with its yellows, pinks, and blues and that Susan captured its beauty in her camera. I am thankful that God really does answer prayer. I am thankful that Susan may soon get those guitar lessons she has been longing for.
Fri.-Field Trip for Lindsay and girls and some of their friends here on the farm. Diane and her two sons, Adina and Makenzie, Dawn and Danielle and the cousins all showed up around 9. They checked out the insides of pumpkins and learned all kinds of things. Pumpkin cutting was made easier by Michael's willing Cutco knives. Alli was here to help me and we did a craft with the children using paper plates and brown ribbon and orange duct tape and black markers. They took home their finished paper plate pumpkin at the end of their excursion. I gave them gator rides and zipped Adi inside my sweatshirt to keep her warm. I looked about 2 years pregnant. They had a picnic lunch in the front lawn as they sat on Mexican blankets and basked in the sun. It really was a great day. I rested with Susan, Michael, and Monk in the afternoon. In the eve. Susan and I picked up Lindsay and the girls and we went to New Life for the Ladie's conference. Debbie Calvert was our speaker. It was great. She spoke about Twinkies and paper dolls and how too often we allow people to insert a different filling in us than God's original best. Also, we allow people to tell us who we are and we allow them to 'dress' us in paper clothing with tabs that don't work instead of accepting ourselves with God's original wardrobe that He bestowed on us. Amy Mast came home with us and we had to run to Walmart to get Buddy a new leash and I ran into Carleen and scared her badly twice. It was a good night. Got home around 11.
I am thankful that Carleen doesn't get mad. She just laughs almost as hard as I do.
I am thankful for my daughter, who loved what she was hearing at the conference, and wished that more of her friends were there.
I am thankful for the precious time I had today with Adi and Emma and their sweet mama and all of their friends.
I am thankful for Alli's help and how good she is with children and for Michael's willingness to go get Susan mid-day from school due to an early dismissal.
Sat.-Woke up late since I forgot to push the knob on my alarm to 'set'. Phil went to wake Amy and Susan up. They were out in the camper, braving the elements, dressed in warm socks, warm clothes, and hats. We got to Lindsay's on time to pick them up and went to New Life for the Ladie's Conference. Gil is in Va. Beach running a something K and needed their vehicle. The teaching today was really great and I will probably write more about it later. I would guess that we had about 125 women there, give or take 10 either way. I felt jealous for the women. That might not be the right word, but I longed for them to receive all that God had for them. I wanted the same for myself and especially for Susan and those her age. If they can grasp these truths at this age, they will be able to relate to the world with confidence, and be God's ambassador for His country in our world that needs Him so desperately. We had a prayer time after the teaching and I am so thankful for the beautiful women who prayed for my daughter. I am thankful for Judy's phone call this evening and for the precious friend that she is to all of our family. I am thankful that the Freeman, Phil, and Philip each were successful in hunting today. It is 8:30 in the eve. and Phil, Philip, and Michael are out butchering. It will be nice to have venison roasts to smother in horseradish and slow cook all day. The meat melts in your mouth and tastes scrumptulious served over mashed potatoes.
I am thankful for a hot bath and a good book to read in a cold house. The Hardy Furnace hasn't been started up yet. Maybe my nose will finally get warm. It's been cold all day. I am thankful that God paints the sky with different types of brushes and different types of paints. Sometimes, He uses watercolors; sometimes oils or acrylics. When the school kids show me their art work, I try to really look at it, and tell them how wonderful it is. Every child is an artist. So, when God shows me His art work, I try to really look at it and tell Him how wonderful it is and what I especially like about it. It seems to me that He's been outdoing Himself with His art work during this fall season. The Heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. They really do.
Sun.-Wonderful morning at church. Kid's choir sang. Baptism. Good company-we sat near the back with the Banton's, Good worship, and Good word. Took pictures of the Chi Alpha baptism. Both Gil and Lindsay were in the baptismal with the student. PJosh baptized a little red head who could barely touch bottom. She kept holding her breath before it was time. One little guy changed his mind about being baptized because the water was cold so PLou adjusted and gave him a little sprinkle and a few years to change his mind. Pastor Frank exposed another wives tale-"God just wants us to be happy." When people base their life on this misconception, they willingly leave their spouse for another if their marriage is going through an unhappy time because 'God just wants me to be happy.' I have heard people say this and have seen them do this and I have also witnessed them come to their senses and refer to themselves as being 'deceived' during that time. Wives Tales are full of deception.
PF gave some OT illustrations.
Joseph was probably not happy when he was sold into slavery nor when he was put into prison, but God gave him grace and favor in both situations which was better than fickle happiness any day. Esther found grace and favor with the king. She also had a good mentor who advised her well. She was not necessarily happy later, when she risked her life to save her people, but God gave her strength in the midst of her fear which showed itself in courageous action. Ruth found grace and favor in the eyes of Boaz. She followed good advice as well and was in the right field at the right time. She probably wasn't happy before all this because her husband had died and she and her mother in law had come back to Naomi's homeland full of sorrow. But God gave her grace and strength and she found favor with God and man in the process of loyal obedience.
All of these people gave their best and sought the good of others first. They looked for guidance in the right places and maintained a teachable spirit.
Even when we are not happy-even if life is not enjoyable, we can still grow from grace to grace, glory to glory, and strength to strength, and often, we grow most in difficult situations.
God does not want us to enjoy life if we are living in sin and when we are outside of His favor.
We are not called to be happy, we are called to be holy.
Solomon says we are to enjoy all things but remember that nothing is certain.
One day we might be hungry. Another day we might be full.
One day we may be rich. Another day we may be poor.
If we learn to be content in whatever season of life we are in,
then we will live in the grace of God.
He has promised to never leave us or forsake us.
We may be poor in spirit or hungry or full of grief...
If we didn't experience these difficulties in life,
we wouldn't experience the blessings of this difficulty,
for blessed are those who mourn,
for they shall be comforted.
We wouldn't know Him as Comforter,
if we never had sorrow.
If He comforted us in one sorrow,
He will comfort us in the next.
So what do we do?
We delight ourselves in the Lord.
We seek first His kingdom.
It is then we will experience the favor and grace of God and man.
We delight ourselves in Him and seek His Kingdom
and when we do this,
we will experience His steadiness because He never changes.
We won't be subject to the fleeting whims of happiness.
We will be like rocks on which He can build His church.
Phil, Susan, and I had lunch with Freeman and Alli at the Chinese Restaurant.
Then we came home and took a nap.
Jordan, Philip, and Michael made some delicious lunch of their own here,
using ground venison, noodles, cheese, peppers, onions and tortillas.
They bought their own ingredients and had a good time.
They watched 'Evan Almighty' and 'Mrs. Doubtfire' in the afternoon
while I blogged and made caramel popcorn and Susan texted Makenzie.
Janelle called and brought Micah over
to trick or treat. He was dressed like ghost and wanted to scare me
so I obliged. Lucky for him, I had just pulled the caramel popcorn
out of the oven so he got a bagful. They were headed to Second Ave.
in Farmville to go Trick or Treating. I told him to look out
for two little girls named Madison and Makenzie.
I took a walk before the sun went down.
I am thankful for this day of rest.
I am thankful for the way Adi and Emma 'fought' over Phil
in church today. They liked the pictures he drew.
I am thankful that Micah lets me snuggle with him
on my chair, howbeit, hyperactive rocking style today.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
and very little girl has her shirt pulled up, revealing
her skinny little chest.
Teacher reacts quickly, saying,
'Pull your shirt down, Sweetie.
That's why we keep our shirts tucked in.'
Little innocent Eve says,
"But that's my Show 'n Tell."
Little innocent Adam in room says,
"I liked your Show 'n Tell."
And teachers and God laugh at the story
and God says, "If only Eve hadn't eaten that apple..."
And I suppose Adam says it too.
"If the key to life is in the blood, it stands to reason that keeping our bloodstream pure, clean, and healthy is of utmost importance. It doesn't matter how many germs surround you, if the bloodstream is clean, disease cannot breed there. Each of the seven steps contributes to a clean, healthy bloodstream and a system that functions perfectly in all areas.
The Seven Steps to Greater Health are:
4-Plenty of water
5-Prayer and Fasting
6-Periods of fresh air and sunshine
We have sixty trillion cells in our bodies. Each cell lives for a limited time before it reproduces itself and dies. Every three months we get a new bloodstream, every eleven months each cell in our body is renewed, and every two years we get a new bone structure. Do you realize that by eating correctly for approximately two years, you could have a whole new body? "
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Tues.-Rough night. Didn't sleep much. Great day with the kids at school. Gave them their first real test in music since I am going to start issuing grade point averages for the high schoolers. I am thankful for the kind hugs I received at school today and how they helped me make it through the day. I am thankful for Dianna's call tonight. I am thankful for my mother's e-mail. I am thankful that the nail that flew from Philip's nail gun only glanced off his knee bone instead of going in. He is in alot of pain however. Broke the skin and hit the bone. Knee cap is red and mushy. Michael left for Richmond today. Will be there until Thursday. I am thankful for the giggling episode between Philip and Susan.
Wed.-Good day of teaching. Kids say that craziest things and sometimes they do them as well. I was going to write one of those incidences down but decided against it to protect the innocent mothers from humiliation. (Changed my mind later) It rained hard today and I love my corner room with the two windows and precious privacy. Went to church early for the WM meeting and discussed the upcoming conference and other future events. Went to Belks and Walmart during Youth Group. I am thankful for the loud ruckus Susan made on the way home. We had the windows down because she was laughing so hard and her head was out the window, as usual, and I accidentally pushed the button to make her window go up which just plain scared her silly and she freaked out, screaming and laughing and making strange noises and when we got to the top of our lane, all three dogs had been waiting to greet us for quite some time since they heard her screaming before we even turned onto our lane. They made sure she was okay before they relaxed after escorting our car to its stopping spot. I am thankful for Lisa's patchouli hug. I am thankful for the little baby girls that are walking around at church even though they seem way too little to be doing so. They look so cute in their fall outfits and little hats.
Thurs.-Susan woke up with chest pain, thick throat, and 120 pulse rate per minute. We're wondering if she had a shrimp allergy. Teri checked her out at school and Susan went along to Luray Caverns with the other students. I then went to Krogers/Walmart and whle waiting in line at the cheese counter I met the sweetest lady named Marjorie and we got to finding things out about each other. Meanwhile, the grandmotherly type lady behind the counter kept calling us both 'dear' and 'sweetie' and gave us samples of 1.98 a pound sliced turkey so we both bought two pounds and I thought that was a good deal until I read the fine print 'sell by Oct. 21.' Came home, studied, washed, talked with Lindsay on fb and decided to go out to Farmville early and have lunch with her and the girls at the Longwood cafeteria. Caught up with Linds and snuggled with Adi. Went to church to make phone calls regarding the Ladie's Fall Conference coming up next weekend and the bake sale on Nov.7 we're holding to benefit The Dollar Project in Ecuador. Went from there to CCA to pick up Susan by 5:00. She had a good time with her friends, her Mt. Dew, and Pete-the Hubler's boxer. Pete made her homesick for Sampson. Came back home to Michael who made up our tortilla meal for supper with venison, salsa, beans, and rice. We had an invasion of flies during the day and I killed at least 20 of them before cleaning up supper dishes and finishing wash. Watched 'Gone Fishing' with Susan. The tall guy in the movie looked like our buddy, Mabe. When I said that out loud, Michael said with relief, "THAT"S who it is!" Don't you hate it when someone reminds you of somebody else and you can't think of who it is?
I am thankful for safe travels for Susan and that she seems to be feeling better.
I am thankful for Longwood College and the fountains, flowers, students, two little girls, their confident mama, and the presence of God which makes it such a beautiful place.
I am thankful that Michael is home.
Fri.-Relaxing day catching up with cleaning out bags and purses, washing, talking to Naomi and Janelle, and watching Monk. No school for Susan. She isn't feeling well enough to go. Spent the day on the sofa. Made tabbouleh for the first time. It's delicious. Naomi is looking forward to checking out the movie 'Gone Fishing' so she can see what her husband looks like with some difference. I am thankful that Susan didn't miss a day of school even if she was sick. (No school) I am thankful that Naomi always yells at her dog, Tink, while on the phone and I have to laugh so hard. I am thankful for the life of her little grandbaby. I am thankful for my sister, Rosalee, who gave birth 29 years ago to Annika, on her 29th birthday.
Sat.-Great wonderful day. Relaxed and worked on blogging some of mother's writings, cleaned a bit, walked to the river, worked on school fundraiser, made turkey scrapple, turkey sausage with apples and sweet potatoes dish, homemade pizza and homemade bread. Took Susan to Freeman and Alli's for supper. Jesse, Emilee, and Kelli came as well and after supper they played 'Apples to Apples'. On the way back from dropping her off I saw Micah outside so I pulled in and he hugged and hugged me and held my hand as he showed me his one remaining very limp little froggie, and eventually, I just brought him home with me and he watched 'The Three Stooges' and I made homemade pizza. We ate two whole big pizzas between Micah, Phil, and I. Susan was so disappointed when she got home because there was none left. I tried to remove the evidence by washing and putting away pizza pans but when she tasted the bread and said it would make good pizza, I just had to open my mouth and confess. Micah watches The Three Stoogies and gets his exercise, meaning that he totally acts out and interacts with whatever he sees, giggling all the while. It's an experience in itself just to be in the same room with him. Oh, he showed me his new gadget for ...well, he showed me his new gadget, let's leave it at that. Anyway, I met Susan at Janelle's where Freeman had dropped her off and I brought Micah home. He didn't really want us to leave, hugging and kissing me and wanting to show Phil his dog, but we promised him we'd see it tomorrow since we are keeping it for the week.
I am thankful for Micah and the way he learns and the way he can tell me about the movie he saw, 'Lewis and Clark', and how he had a good grasp on Sacajawea and that she 'gave birth!' on their journey, and how they ate candles and drank water to stay alive, etc. and only one man died in two winters even after they went through 'all that.' I am thankful that Susan is feeling better. I am thankful for Phil's delight in Micah. I am thankful that when Micah closed his eyes while he was hugging me, that he looked just like Philip, who looks so much like Micah's daddy. I am thankful for this wonderful day. I am thankful that Rosalee called me with some good news. (Annika's engaged!)
Sun.-Good morning at church. Loved what Lisa shared about the words in the song-"...I will worship you here.." 'Here' being more than this place, but in the place were you are, whether you are depressed or happy, in debt or wealthy, sickness or health, in bondage or free..." Worship Him in your present state. That was so helpful to me and I hope I never forget it. It was Pastor Appreciation Sunday and somehow I missed that announcement last week. We have a Sr. pastor, Associate pastor, Pastor for the older folks, Pastor for the running of the church school, young adult pastor, youth pastor, children's pastor, and the drama 'pastor.' Equally as important are their wives who do any number of things, such as loving the people their husbands bring into their homes, leading worship, directing dramas, counselling parents and youth, being a friend, giving great hugs, heading up nursery work, etc. etc. It's really an amazing staff. Everyone is necessary and everyone helps the others to look good. Alot of honoring goes on as well as serving. Everyone of them deserves a long standing ovation. Jamie did a great job in publicly acknowledging the pastors and I liked what he quoted-"A leader is someone who was backed in a corner and came out fighting." Then he said, "Every one of our pastors are leaders who have been backed in a corner and came out fighting."
Pastor Frank will be speaking about 'Wives Tales' in the upcoming weeks. He referred to some of the disciplines that we partake in because we are Christians, such as Bible reading, and prayer and he said that we wouldn't practice the disciplines of the Christian walk if we didn't believe that Jesus is the only way to God. He also said the following.
There is a way of thinking in the world that is infiltrating the church and that is the belief that there is more than one way to come to God. (Some think Jesus is only one of the ways, but personally, it makes no logical sense to me, for God to provide such an extreme measure of salvation through the death of His only precious Son, and then to say that we can approach Him in other ways besides this very narrow way that leads to a broad, abundant life. Why would the death of His Son be only one of the ways? It makes no sense.)
It is popular now to believe in God, but even the demons believe in God. They also believe in Jesus. The real question is, "What do we do with Jesus?" If we say He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then we must respond in obedience to Him. We must take up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow Him.
Jesus Himself said that He and His Father were one. They picked up stones to stone Him when He said that. He also said that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no man can come to the Father except through Him. He said that we have seen the Father because we have seen Him. Jesus wasn't crucified because He was a good teacher and performed miracles. He was crucified because He claimed to be God.
In Acts 3, Peter was speaking to the crowd who was amazed at the miraculous healing of the lame man who stood at the temple gates. There was nothing politically correct about what he said. He said that they had ...crucified the Prince of Life...that God had raised Him from the death, and it was through His name, and through faith in His name, that this man was healed.
We, too, are witnesses of Jesus Christ. We see Him in the transformation taking place in the lives around us. And it is through His name, and our faith in His name, that we will see miracles take place.
Earlier, Pastor Frank said something like, "Holiness is not an action. Holiness is a state of being. We say, 'You ARE holy' not 'You Do holy things.' Too often we set up a standard and try to be holy. God is holy. He lives inside us and we surrender to Him who is holy. Then our holiness is a state of being inside God and of His being inside us. His holy life inside of us is why we are holy. "
Sunday afternoon-Freeman and Alli came over just after Janelle and Micah got here with their dog, Buddy, who we are keeping this week. Roco came barrelling into the house and tried to get into Buddy's little cage. Phil insisted that he was only curious, but I got the distinct impression that he was hungry. When we let Buddy loose, Roco thought he was a chew toy and when I rescued the little Shiatsu, his fur was rather wet. After that, whenever we wanted Buddy to go potty outside, he wanted to come inside and I found little puddles and 'gifts' at least five different times this evening. He smells 'Big Dog' when he goes outside and no wonder. We have three big dogs and Freeman brought their big dog over to frolic while Freeman made us ribs for supper. Alli and I made apple strata dessert and watched 'Pride and Prejudice.' That movie is worth putting on just to hear the classical music sound track. Michael is at the Davis's today and Philip is with some friends at Bush Gardens.
I am thankful for the grace and strength God gives those in the midst of pain.
I am thankful that so many women from our church are signed up to come to the Women's Conference this weekend. I think nearly 150 women are coming.
I am thankful that Buddy is still with us.
Monday, October 18, 2010
There is a little book called 'Ruth' nestled between Judges and 1 Samuel in the Old Testament.
Ruth was a Moabite woman who traveled back to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law, Naomi, who had lost not only her husband, but her two sons as well, one of whom was married to Ruth.
In Bethlehem, Ruth found favor in the eyes of a man named Boaz who allowed her to glean from his field. He directed his workers to leave plenty of the grain behind for her to glean. After only one day of gleaning, Ruth has an ephah of barley to her name, which was quite a bit. She showed Naomi her abundance of grain.
And this is where I pick up on Dr. Hubler's sermon verbatim.
"Naomi is surprised....This is a transformational moment for Naomi. We have studied her spiritual crisis. She is a woman who believes that there is a God and that He is the source of blessing, but it is not for her. She says she should be called "Mara" or "bitter" because that describes her life and prospects. Her crisis could bring her to become bitter toward God. In a half-a-bushel or so of barley grain, Naomi finds hope. That is what Ruth brought home, an ephah. Was that the purpose of the young men who left those handfuls of grain on purpose? Was their purpose to renew the hopes of a woman whose faith lacked hope? Was that Boaz's purpose in commanding the men to leave those handfuls? Was it God's purpose in working through Boaz, and through Ruth who gathered them up and brought them home? Half-a-bushel of barley; God's handfuls of purpose."
"Of Boaz, Naomi declares, 'The man is near of kin unto us, one of our next kinsmen' (2:20). That is cause for hope. He might not be the nearest of kinsmen, but he is near, and is acting the kinsman. But, I left out something, something that Naomi says after Ruth tells that she has worked in Boaz's field, and before she tells Ruth that Boaz is near-kin. Naomi declares, "Blessed be he of the LORD who hath not left off his kindness to the living and to the dead." (2:20) She sees in the happenstance and in the kindness of Boaz the hand of God. God has not ceased to be kind to her. That is a remarkable change. Remember, Ruth had a long day's work, but a day is a day. It could have been a day or two, I suppose, but not very long from the point that these women returned to Bethlehem and the time Ruth goes to work in the field. Now she sees that God had not ceased to be kind to her, but then (upon their return to Bethlehem) she said, "Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing that the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?" ( Ruth 1:20. 21)"
"Naomi has seen just what we have said, that God's kindness has been expressed through the kindness of Boaz. She praises God. He is the one who remains kind to her and Ruth, who still live, but also to her husband and sons who have died."
It cost Boaz next to nothing to enable Ruth to gather an ephah of barley that day.
His small deed sown in kindness, reaped a harvest of hope in Naomi, whose life had lost its meaning due to sorrows that had come her way.
Every time we are kind, we are showing the kindness of God.
Every kind word, kind smile, kind deed, reveals the love of God to the Naomi's in our lives.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
"Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son,
and they shall call His name Immanuel,"
which is translated "God with us."
The idea of God being with man was a huge deal
because up until that time,
God had been in the garden with a chosen few,
and in a burning bush for a chosen one,
and in a pillar of cloud by day
and a pillar of fire by night
for a chosen people,
and later He was housed in the Holy of Holies
in a tabernacle made by man.
God spoke through the prophets
and then He was silent for quite some time
between Malachi and Matthew
and suddenly He shows up
and says that He is coming to live with us!
To be with us!
To make His home with us and in us!
And this gift of His presence is not just offered
to one, or a few, or a chosen people.
This gift is offered to all of us!
And He became flesh and dwelt among us
and we beheld His glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth,
and of His fullness we have all received,
and grace for grace.
Don't miss the wonder of it all.
Jesus, being in the very bosom of the Father,
declared what God was like through His life.
In the prime of His life,
He began to declare that He was the Son of God,
come to take away the sins of the world.
Up until this time,
the blood of perfect animals
was sacrificed to atone for the sins
so people could relate to a perfect God.
Jesus would sacrifice His own life
as an atonement for sin-
a payment to justify us before God
so we could always and forever
approach the throne of God with boldness
and find help in our time of need.
And this I love.
When Jesus was on the cross,
He cried out, "It Is Finished!!!"
with all the triumph He could muster.
When He did that,
the veil in the temple was torn
from top to bottom.
God was behind that veil in a small area of space
known as the Holy of Holies.
Only a special priest could enter that room
to make atonement for the sin of the people.
Yes, God is omnipresent
but people could only approach Him
in a certain way at a certain place and time
and through a special person.
But now, the hands of God Himself
took that veil and tore it from top to bottom
so we could enter the Holy of Holies
through the blood of Christ
without a human mediator
between us and God.
Not only could we enter in
but He could come out.
He could come out and be with us.
God with us.
in sorrow, trouble, pain,
joy, prosperity, and hope-
God is Immanuel.
God is with us.
And that is the most important thing
I know about anything.
I can't get over it.
It amazes me still.
When I am all wrong in my heart and my spirit
and I think about that simple truth,
I stop thinking about how wrong I am
and I start thinking about how He is with me
and will never leave me or forsake me
and then I know anew,
that all of His rightness
consumes all my wrongness
and all I can think about
is how thankful I am
that He is here with me
and I smile and kiss His face.
And I bow and cry,
And I shake my head
'How can it be?
How can it be?
He is with me.
Monday, October 11, 2010
I am thankful that Alli is so easy to be around.
I am thankful that God has helped me eat well for 4 days.
I am thankful that sometimes, He lets me see that I am 'all wrong' and that I can do nothing without Him. I am thankful that He doesn't leave me in the pit of despair.
Tues.-"God will make a way when there seems to be no way." It's nice to be hearing a song again. Great day at school. Taught music to 5/6, 7/8, 9-12, and 2nd grade reading. After we did some theory, zoomed through the composer songs, and sang their Christmas songs, we sang out of the big red books. We sang "In the Good old Summertime," "My Grandfather's Clock," "Hokey Pokey," "She'll be comin' round the mountain," etc. I think my dad taught me almost every song in the book. We'd sing them on the trips we took around the U.S. Sometimes, my dad would make up songs on the spot. He'd use words from the billboards and make them rhyme and I would try to sing a split second behind him and guess where he was going musically and lyrically. His voice was a bit raspy from overuse with his auctioneering but he could sing right on key. My mother can sing a beautiful soprano, alto and high tenor and her voice is clear and sweet. One time, Phil won a trip to the Dominican with a lumber company so we went and spent some days at a resort. One night, they called me up to compete in a singing game. The idea was to see who knew the most songs. I went through the repertoire of fun songs, hymns, homemade songs, etc. that were stored in my song bank, and yes, I did win. They finally gave up and stopped the game.
I made two kinds of soup when I came home plus a salad. I am not exhausted like I have been. Yesterday I felt like I had the flu. I think I was detoxing. I've been eating healthier since Friday and I've lost 2 pounds. Please God, help me stick with it. I want to have strength to do those things I need, want, and am called to do.
I am thankful that when we came home from school and saw that Phil wasn't here, Susan said with disappointment in her voice, "Oh, dad's not home. I love daddy. When I get married, I want to marry someone just like him...all mafia-like in high school and all calm when he's older." I had to sit in the car for a moment and think about how wonderfully sweet that was. She made me fall in love with him all over again.
I am thankful that these good old fun songs have a way of restoring the soul.
I am thankful for friends at school, friends at church, friends in the family, friends in the community, friends in Pa. and friends at home.
Wed.-"The Heavens declare You're glorious, glorious..." Good music day at school. K-4 today. Lots of fun with some wild and crazy teachers. Took Susan to church in eve. Met with small group at Longwood. I am thankful for Phil's loving kindness. I am thankful for the beautiful gray skies and changing leaves. I am thankful for the little children at school and for all those who love them. Snap! Crackle! Pop! Mice Krispies! Three down. More to go!
Thurs.-"...she's your tootsie wootsie in the good ol' summer time..." I love when that line comes up in the song and the kids say, "What's a tootsie wootsie?" and I ask, "What do you think it is?" and they figure it out. One high school walking dictionary said it was one's darling. He always gets my vocabulary questions right. I can never think of a way to improve on his answers, nor do I want to. (This should be under Tues. actually.) Worked on Lessons and Carols program during free time. Listened to Bach. I don't like his music all that much. I wonder if he had ADHD. Had to turn him off. Discovered I like Brahms. He's more peaceful. The K/1 boys painted their hardened play dough critters in art today. One little boy was working so hard on his snake. He was the last one at the table and he was giving it his very best. Then he dropped his snake and it broke in three different places. He had to cry. I picked it up and glued it back together with the ever-ready glue gun. I asked him if he still loved his snake. He said yes. I said that God made us and loves us even when we're broken and then He glues us back together again. He understood and was happy once again. For second grade art class we took bread dough and made sculptures and baked them and ate them hot out of the oven with butter. It made the school smell too good and next time, I will make sure I have extra rolls ready for the hungry teachers. Susan and I went and got our weekly hand dipped ice cream cone at Country Charm. Yes, I am eating healthier. Yes, today I ate my art project and had some ice cream. But I also ate celery and lentil/spinach soup. ( I also ate some of that wonderful pasta with pesto sauce again.)
This eve. Freeman, Alli, and Phil went to pick up two German Shepherd dogs from some friends of ours who knew about them. They did not make the police force and we got them for free. Alli and Freeman took the lighter colored one who was less rowdy and Phil has his hands full with the more boisterous one. It amazes me how quickly the dog has responded to Phil already. We're thinking of a good name for him. Angel seems to welcome the male attention but Roxy's not so sure. "I don't THINK so.." she seems to be saying. Michael made some burgers and Freeman and Alli got to have a quick sandwich while they worked with their new dog, Diesel, in the yard. Michael and Jordan went to Walmart to get some dog food, a choke chain, and a leash. Susan posted a little poem she wrote on face book. "Because of my daddy, I'm alive; Because of my daddy, I will survive; Because of my daddy, I am so happy; Because of my daddy, I have new puppy! I love you, daddy!"
I am thankful for the sermon I found laying around yesterday. Like Ruth, I gleaned it from the (chapel) field. I am thankful for what it did for me. I am thankful for the excitement and hope a new dog brings to the family. I am thankful for the little boy conversations I heard today as they talked about God and His ways while they drew pictures of spider man. I am thankful for the song in chapel with the words, "He breaks the power of cancelled sin..." I am thinking about what that means.
Fri.-Janelle called yesterday,"I forgot I had a dog and signed up for a field trip. Can you let him out tomorrow?" The first time I met Buddy, he growled at me and backed away. That was a first for me,(babies and animals usually like me) but today, when I let him outside and walked him around with a leash, I think he changed his mind about me. I sat on the porch in the sun for awhile and he wanted to be up on my lap to snuggle. He's just the cutest little thing. I'd spell what kind of dog he is but I'm afraid I might spell it wrong and use some bad slang in the process. I picked up Susan at school a few minutes early and she raced around her room at home, packing for the youth retreat. I had her at the church on time and watched her crawl into a van that had people's belongings blocking the entire back window. Later in the evening, Phil and I went to Baine's to meet up with some of the Chi Alpha gang in order to celebrate Gil's 30th birthday. He saw us in the meeting room up top and asked what we were doing there and we said that we came to hear the music. He said that he was glad we were there because he wanted us to share some things if that was okay. Soon Lindsay and the girls showed up with balloons and chocolate cupcakes with swirling orange icing. Then Gil understood. It was a fun evening. Bluegrass music accompanied the discussion on work ethics and having one's identity in Christ rather than in what one does. He asked us several questions and said so many kind things about us that I felt inclined to add a disclaimer. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, however, and Gil's eyes see the best in people, and therefore, he sees the best in us, and I am thankful.
Perhaps now would be a good time to say that although we have difficulties and 'issues' to deal with in our lives, I tend to only allude to them because I am writing a memoir of good memories for our family. Bad memories have a way of being remembered all on their own. But in my heart, I am always looking for the good memory to cherish, to bring like a treasure into my house. And so I record the pleasantries, because words are eternal, and there are some things I never want to forget.
I am thankful for Gil and Lindsay and Adi and Emma.
I am thankful for the 'absorbing' that Adi and enjoyed last night while she was snuggling in my arms.
I am thankful for the town of Appomattox and the quaint book store on Main Street that takes me back in time.
Sat.-Nice long study time this morning. Woke up at 5 when Phil, Freeman, and Alli left for Pa. Prepared for SS-Journey class for tomorrow. Subbing for Diana. Looked up many verses on the names of God and wrote down why the writer knew Him by that name. David knew God as his Salvation because He needed deliverance from his enemies and God showed Himself strong. I am going to ask each person to pick a name from the list and share a personal story about how God revealed Himself to them by that name. I will also ask them to consider why the writer referred to God by that name and to then share their ideas.
Cleaned, washed, cooked, went with Philip over the hill to feed Diesel-Alli and Freeman's dog, blogged, walked, talked with Judy and felt 'normal' again, got my back wrenched by our dog as I tried to get him away from the rabbit cages before one of them dropped over with a heart attack, etc. Boys are mowing and cleaning up. Now I know what happened to all my missing mugs.
Phil and his gang went to see my Mother and then visited with Joe and Karen a bit and then went off to the Weaver's Orchard Festival where Phil told me via the phone that he was having the best day of his life, and then off to his parents to visit his Aunt Mert. She is with them for 6 days. She lives in England. When Phil was in Heathrow for a layover on his trip to Kenya, Aunt Mert travelled by train for 3 hours to come and visit him. They stood for an hour and a half visiting outside the airport. I guess both of them were tired of sitting. Phil is close to his aunts and uncles. Maintaining family ties is very important to the Masts/Hertzler's. I am glad Alli will get a chance to see the cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. again. I can't handle the 24 hour back and forth quick trip. I need a day in between to literally get some feeling back into my body. But I wish I could have gone as well. I am looking forward to the day when Michael gets his pilots license and buys a plane. What I am really looking forward to is that day when we can all be together in Heaven. No more good byes. I am always a bit homesick for my family and friends in Pennsylvania. If we moved back up, I know I would be homesick for my family and friends in Virginia. But mostly, if the truth be told, I am homesick for Heaven. Every day, I see Heaven on earth. Everyday, I experience Heaven on earth. And every day, my homesickness for heaven grows stronger.
I am thankful that Philip changed his plans to make things easier for me. He went and got Susan from church and also spent the night here in order to take me to church tomorrow (and also brought us home from church instead of eating out with his friends.) Philip is one of the kindest people I know. I am thankful that Susan had such a great time at the youth retreat. I am thankful for Leon Z. and that God kept him from death. He fell and hit his head hard on the concrete floor while he was at the same youth retreat. His skull is fractured and his brain was bleeding in 3 places. He is in the ICU. I am thankful for a day at home with no vehicle to tempt me to run around and therefore I had time to clean my house. I am sorry that I missed the CCA chili cook off and auction, however.
Sun.-Sunday School (Journey) went really well. Pastor Alvin led worship and Pastor Rob preached. Adi sat with our family and took her nap in my arms and Susan's arms and lounged around on Philip's lap after she woke up. Lindsay said that Adi started talking about me when she woke up that morning at 5. Pastor Rob gave us our serotonin's for the week. He spoke from Luke 5. ("Deep Water-Launch Out into the Deep") Jesus wanted to teach the multitudes to He asked Simon Peter to put his boat out from the shore a little so He could preach from there. When He was finished teaching, he told Peter to go out into the deep and cast his nets over the side. Peter said that they had done that all night and got nothing but would do it anyway since Jesus told him to. He caught so many fish that he needed other boats to come and help him bring in the catch. It was then he called Jesus 'Lord' and said, 'Depart from me, I am a sinful man.' It is one thing to call Jesus 'Teacher'. It is another thing to call Him 'Lord.' Jesus asked him to do what he had already done in his own strength. But, now, Jesus asked him to do it in His. The mundane preceded the miraculous. It is doing the mundane, accompanied with the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, meditation, worship, fasting, serving, etc. that place us in the position where we can receive the miraculous. Jesus knew it is in the deep waters where the miraculous happens. Other truths about deep waters: it is the safest place to be when the storms come-let your anchor down and ride out the storm; (storms reveal your spiritual depth) ; one cannot rely on previous experiences-more faith is required; more is at stake-it is easier to drown; more is unknown. Jesus didn't keep them in deep waters. He gave them a great blessing out there and when they hauled it in, they left it all to follow Him. What will you leave to follow Him? The Samaritan woman left her water pot at the well. (and her lifestyle) Zachaus left his greed. (and his fortune) Lazarus left his grave. (and its safety) How about you? Will you leave your emptiness, brokenness, bitterness, laziness, addiction, selfishness, pride, greed, skepticism, blame, doubt, and fear? Will you leave what you know for what you do not know? Will you go into the deep with Him?
Phil, Freeman and Alli got home sometime after 4:00. I read some Sherlock Holmes and basked in the autumn sun earlier in the afternoon. Phil's cousin, Ed, sent a trunk full of apple cider and delicious apples home with him. I made some apple cinnamon muffins. Chace, Kelsey, and Christi came in the house and Michael, Susan, and I sat with them around our table eating chocolate cake, muffins, and milk before their real meal with some other friends down at the river. Called Missi after Phil got home to confirm whether I was coming to spend time with her at the hospital and she told me that Leon was being dismissed from the hospital after successfully eating some mashed potatoes and keeping them down. Great news. Thank you God! Now to keep him still. Watched one half a movie with Phil...what was it called? Something about a nuclear bomb on the U.S. soil, etc. I am reading Revelations and some of the things in the movie seemed pretty real.
I am thankful that the traveler's made it safely home. They travelled on I-95 and at one point went 6 miles in half an hour. I am thankful for the cool nights and warm days. I am thankful that Nick received his father back home for his 16th birthday present.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
He loved them to the end.
No holding back.
All His eggs in one basket.
I tend to pull back if I know I'm going away.
I tend to pull back if I know you're going away.
I tend to divide my eggs into different baskets
so I won't get too hurt
if life happens and I break all the eggs
in one of my baskets.
But Jesus doesn't do that.
What would our relationships look like
if we loved people until the end-
Not the end of our relationship with them
but to the end of our lives?
Would we serve them more?
Lay our lives down more?
Make fewer conditions for loving?
Build lower walls?
Be wounded more?
Resolve conflict better?
I don't know.
I do know that I don't know how to love like that.
But He does.
And He lives in me
and His love is shed abroad in my heart
so I too,
can love my own-
all those God has given me,
until the very end.
My very end.
I like thinking about loving the people
I love today
to my very end.
Maybe I'll love them until tomorrow.
Maybe I'll love them until my hair is white
and my eyes are dim.
But whether my end is tomorrow
or 30 years from now,
I want to love you until my very end.
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Day at home to wash, clean, blog, etc. Kenny called and said that he checked out the bug damage in my prayer chapel. He let me know how much it would cost and he said, "You know, I always feel His presence when I am in your chapel." I said that I did too and after I hung up, I went for a walk and just sat in my chapel. Even though God is always with me, I sense Him in a special way there. I made a list of prayer requests. Some of you reading this...your name's on that list. I left it there with Him and He is praying too. Thankful that I was able to go to bed at 8 this eve.
Tues.-Slept well last night. Taught 3 music classes for 5th-12th, 2nd grade reading, and Select Choir. We learned an African Christmas song, thanks to Mrs. S. While Susan and Graham practiced their Silent Night duet, Doreen and I started making napkin/painted plates. We were there for 1 1/2 hours ! Left school around 5:45! I made beach plates for my shore girls and she made 2 beautiful fall plates. Christi and Philip were hunting in the eve. Michael in Richmond. Christi and some other girls her age are starting a ministry for girls 13-16. They'll meet twice a month on Monday's 6-8. Susan is going to join them.
I am thankful that I can read and sing and play the piano. I am thankful that I can cook and clean. I am thankful for my mother who made these things possible.
Wed.-Taught the younger grades in music. Worked on plates. Made molasses cookies at school and at home. Stayed home from church in the eve. Spent time with Susan.
I am thankful for the little boy who drew a tiny little house in the top left corner of his paper. (I had them coloring to Mozart and Handel.) Lines were drawn to the center of the paper and then swirls of color filled the middle. His melancholy brown eyes looked up at me through endless to-be-envied eyelashes and he said with soft certainty, "This is music coming from the house and it touches all the people. They can dance in it and they can be the music." I felt a bit weak-kneed after that and had to kiss him on the top of his head. I am thankful that Susan and her friends were able to help me make cookies today at school. They took pictures of each other's "helping hands" for the year book. I am thankful that even though it is hard at the time, God's faithfulness brings things to light, and life lessons are learned by all. I am thankful that Michael is home and that he keeps telling me how much he loves me and how happy he is to be home with our family.
Thurs.-Good day. Art with K-2. Making and painting little play dough creatures-drying them in my dehydrator. KL was painting her miniature baby Jesus wrapped up in a play dough blanket and Sam said, "I thought your baby Jesus was a hot dog!" When the children finish the main art project, they color on the back of Kroger scrap paper with magic markers, as happy as clams. Some of them hurry through the main project because they just want to draw. Doreen and I finished our plates. It's been good to chat as we work together. Michael made wonderful tortillas tonight for supper. Philip went to Harvest to attend Bible Study-Truth Project. He's surprising Christi since she thought he'd still be in Richmond. Susan is cleaning her room and looking for her gym shirt. Yippee. She just found it. She needs to wear it during the parade tomorrow. Phil and Michael went to pick up Phil's truck at the garage. Phil was out planting rye seed until 1:30 this morning. He was an ice cube when he came to bed.
I am thankful for nights at home with happy family coming and going and hugging and kissing.
I am thankful for the opportunity to talk to Dianna and Sara in the eve. and catch up a bit.
I am thankful that God does not despise a broken and contrite heart and for the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
I am thankful that my little boy who always says that he misses last year's art teacher sighed happily today and said, "I Love Art!" He painted a volcano he made. He also painted the Titanic. Both realistic objects were made from salt clay by his own careful hands.
Fri.-Railroad Festival Day at school. Free dress day. Washed, cleaned, walked, corresponded, cooked. Michael home. He picked up Susan from school. Weather in high 70's. So beautiful. Sometimes I think I could be a hermit. Love being home. Finished 'Celebration of Discipline' by Richard Foster this week, and started it again. I didn't want it to end. If I were allowed only one book besides my Bible, that book would be my choice.
I am thankful for Susan's good day in school. I am thankful that when I was playing the piano last night and Phil was paying bills, he pulled out his guitar and played along with me for awhile. I am thankful for the email from one of our pastor friends in Pa. He sent an article about Janelle that was in a church magazine. There was the picture of Janelle and Micah, sitting on our sofa that Susan had taken last week accompanied by a very nice write up.
Sat.-Today we went to the Appomattox Rail Road Festival. I remember we went for the first time soon after we had moved. We didn't know a soul. This time, I was shouting out at different participants in the parade and saw many others we knew as we struggled through the crowds. Susan and Mikayla, wearing their CCA t-shirts, carried the parade's banner at the beginning of the parade. I had to drop her off at Thomas Furniture's parking lot and turn around and leave. She had to ask different staff people where she should go. I parked at Robinson's Funeral Home after getting 'lost' in one of the back roads and walked to Baine's where I met Phil, Freeman, and Alli. They left after the parade and Susan and I walked around a bit and sat in Baine's to rest while drinking a skinny caramel latte and talked to Tina and some other folks we knew. Came home and visited with Alli and took it easy and then cleaned some house later in the day. Phil, Susan, and I watched "Never Been Kissed" later in the eve. I was snuggled on the easy chair with my Winnie the Pooh blanket and suddenly realized that a little mouse was viewing the movie right beside me on the arm of the chair. I freaked out. It ran over to the sofa. Phil lifted one end of the sofa and let it thump and then lifted the other end and let it thump. No terrified mousey. Phil sat down and looked down and there was the mouse, on the floor beside the sofa, waiting patiently for us to settle down. I need to kill this thing before I get attached to it. I admire it's courage and down right audacity.
I am thankful for the beautiful weather. I am thankful that I don't feel like a stranger in Appomattox. I am thankful for my students who were in the parade and for the fullness of their lives.
Sun.-"Jesus, Jesus...Great is the Lord...the Holy One..." Loved SS class-"Journey" as it is called here. God is always in the process of revealing Himself to us in a deeper way. Mary and Martha had known Him as 'Healer.' When He was 'silent' in His response to their request to come heal Lazarus, He was waiting to reveal Himself to them in a way He never had before-as 'I Am the Resurrection and the Life.' During worship, I began thinking of other ways He does that. Perhaps we know Him as one who has kept us from temptation. Now He wants us to know Him as the Deliverer out of temptation. Or perhaps we know Him as the Good Shepherd who leads us to green pastures and still waters and He is going to take us deeper so we know Him as the Shepherd who takes us through the valley of the shadow of death. In the process of learning to know Him in a deeper way, the center of the process is usually fraught with chaos and crisis and some sort of awful pain. During this time, God is often silent. It's not a nice little handover. He is not who we think He is and we are devastated and then somehow, He takes us in deeper to reveal Himself to us in a way that goes far beyond our original thoughts of Him. ~~~~~
We had a celebration service today where we heard testimonies about the thing that happened during Farmville First. Jamie shared a statement from Margaret Mead-something like, "Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." He shared significant stories from the people in his neighborhood who were touch by the love of God through their prayers and window washing. John shared about the little boy who wanted to make sure everyone received a Bible. Todd shared about his daughter and her mother coming to Christ. David shared about those he was privileged to pray with and lead to Christ. Warren shared about his awkwardness in ministering to others, and how God came through in spite of himself. We saw a children's clip of the Children's Ministry and a video clip of snapshots taken throughout the day. Pastor Frank shared about fruit. He said that the word 'fruit' is mentioned 1700 times in the Bible. There is fruit that comes from the ground, fruit from the vine, and fruit from the orchard. There is about to be a harvest of souls of orchard proportions. Fruit begins in your mind. It begins with an attitude that is surrendered to God. It is all about Him. (He is the vine and we are the branches and as we stay connected to Him-abide in Him-we will bring forth much fruit. If we bring forth fruit, He will prune us, so we can bear more fruit. It is hard to have a good attitude during the pruning process but it helps to know that He only chastises and prunes those that He loves. ) Actions follow attitudes. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, meekness, temperance, and faith. The fruit is displayed through our attitudes and our actions. And our actions determine our attractiveness. The world must see something in us that it does not have. (I just read a book about some young boys who wanted to steal fruit from someone else's orchard. It looked so good and juicy. They wanted it because they didn't have any of their own.) (How do we bear fruit? By abiding in the vine. What does that mean? What does that look like? I read John 15 this morning with my cup of tea. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be My disciples." We abide in His love so our joy will be full because His joy remains in us. So I think we are looking for an attitude of abiding. A staying inside God and bringing His Word into every fiber of our being so that what comes forth from our dependence on Him is sweet unforbidden fruit to feed everyone in our lives, for fruit is to be eaten.) Oh God, heal those who are in physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. Touch them and release them from pain's all consuming power. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Susan stole Adi from me right away this morning. She wanted her so badly so I gave her the bag of animal crackers that Lindsay had given me to feed our perpetually hungry darling and Susan bribed her with those. There was a good turn out of women to the sign up table for the upcoming conference at the end of October. Susan went home with Kelli S. and Phil and I went to Applebee's, compliments of a birthday credit card from some dear friends. Also went to Tractor Supply and bought 3 packs of mouse traps and a big box of bait. Came home to lots of cars. The guys are here with their girlfriends this time, visiting down at the river I think. Haven't seen hide nor tail of them. Phil read and I took a nap. When I woke up, the cows were on our lawn and Phil tore around on the gator to get them back in. Alli and Freeman stopped in later and brought Susan back. They grilled some meat loaf sandwiches in the waffle maker. How sweet it is to see them so happily married. Philip killed two snapping turtles today. We went out in the dark to see the one that he recovered. He wants to make a salad bowl from it's shell. They were taking pictures and they'll probably appear on facebook this week.
I am thankful for God and the way He comforts me. I am thankful for the flurry of activity outside as Erik, April, another girl I don't know, Travis, Christi, and Philip are preparing to go fishing. I think Jordan, Chace, and Michael are still hanging out at the river. They all had bacon burgers and pizza for lunch over the fire. I am thankful for the way Kelli calls me 'Mom'.
I am thankful for the life of my nephew, Abram W. Shneck, born 25 years ago. He was homeschooled until his college years. He loved to sit out on the picnic table and study nature. He was very bright and had great communication skills. He had strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. On May 20, 2009, Abie and a co-worker were killed when their car was crushed by a tractor trailer truck. He was studying wild life in S. Dakota. He had been there one week. Our love goes out to my sister, Rosalee, and her husband, Jim, and their daughters, Annika and Katrina. They all continue to miss him deeply. Our prayers are with you. May you know God as Comforter and so much more.
Monday, October 4, 2010
That whosoever believes in Him-Jesus,
might have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
Do not love the world
or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.
(1 John 2:15)
Thomas R. Kelly, in "A Testament of Devotion"
says it this way,
"We are torn loose from earthly attachments
and ambitions--contemptus mundi.
And we are quickened to a divine
but painful concern for this world--
He plucks the world from our hearts,
loosening the chains of attachment.
And He hurls the world into our hearts,
where we and He together carry it
in infinitely tender love."
I love this.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Early in the morning, He came down to the temple,
and people gathered around Him, and He sat down
and taught them.
Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him
a frightened, weeping woman,
whom they had caught in the very act of adultery.
The man was nowhere to be seen.
Women cannot commit adultery by themselves,
but it was a man's world,
and not only did they not care about her,
they wanted to use her to trap Jesus.
"Excuse me, Teacher.
was just caught in the very act of adultery.
The law of Moses says we should stone her.
What do you say we should do with her?"
I imagine they jabbed each other's sides
with their elbows,
nodding knowingly with their heads,
sure that they had finally trapped Him.
Instead of answering them,
Jesus stooped down to the ground.
He acted deaf and wrote something
in the dirt with His finger.
I've always been distracted by this action.
I've always wanted to know what He was writing.
I realized, that "distraction" was probably the plan.
Jesus distracted them from their self-righteous fury of the moment.
He distracted the attention that focused on the guilty woman
and brought it to His finger,
writing in the dirt.
He bought her a moment of grace
to recover her breath
and a bit of dignity.
They continued to ask Him what they should do,
so slowly He stood
and said to them,
"He who is without sin among you,
let him throw the first stone."
He stooped down,
and began writing with His finger again.
it was the shame-filled men
who benefited from the grace of distraction.
Jesus could have stared them down.
He could have gone around the circle
naming their sins,
putting them on the spot.
He could have stoned them with His words.
But He gave them a way out.
While He was busy,
writing with His finger,
they slipped out one by one,
convicted by their conscience.
His distracting words of grace
rescued the wretched woman
from the loneliness of iniquity,
the men knew that they were
in the same boat as the woman,
caught in the very act of sin.
Jesus stood up.
The woman was standing there, alone.
"Where are your accusers?
Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, Lord," she answered.
"Neither do I condemn you,"
"Go and sin no more."
And then, He turned to the crowd of people
who had been watching this whole drama,
and He said,
"I am the light of the world.
He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness,
but have the light of life."
I believe that woman followed Him
and walked in His light from that day forward.
I wonder if the men who had been ready to stone her
decided to walk in His light as well.
I hope so.
No one was stoned in the presence of Jesus that day.
No one is ever stoned in the presence of Jesus.
Oh, the grace of distraction.
Oh, the distraction of grace.
And, oh, how I want to be like Him.